2010 Domaine de Nalys, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réserve
Domaine de Nalys may be a new face in the shop but it has a long history. In fact, it is one of the oldest estates in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, mentioned as early as the 17th century in local village land surveys. It belonged to the Nalys family up until the French Revolution when the family’s possessions were confiscated and sold. Over the years the estate fell into disrepair, but luckily, during World War II, Dr. Philippe Dufays came to the region, married the heiress of the estate, and eventually quit his medical practice in order to devote himself to renovating and improving the property. He nearly doubled the vineyard holdings, planting all thirteen permitted grape varietals, and worked to modernize the winery. In 1976, after the death of his son, he sold off half of his vineyards to local vintners, and the remaining vineyards and winery to a group of winegrowers who continue to run the estate today. Their holdings currently consist of vineyard plots in three sites, including the coveted La Crau (most famously associated with Vieux Télégraphe), with its alluvial soils, red clay, and blanket of galets, the round stones that insulate the soil and provide ideal drainage. This wine is predominantly Syrah from their La Crau holdings, with about 15% each Grenache and Mourvèdre. They make only a small amount of this cuvée each year (around 2000 bottles) and it is $57.25. Notes of blackberry and licorice on the nose give way to lush, seductive flavors of dark plums and roasted nuts—perfect for pairing with roast lamb or prime rib, anytime over the next five to ten years.
2009 Edi Simčič, Kozana Chardonnay
The Simčič family has been producing wine for several generations in Goriška Brda, Slovenia, a location that up until the end of World War II belonged to Italy. Today it is just 500 yards from the Friulian border of Italy. After the Communists took control in 1948, the Simčičs were forced to sell almost all of their fruit to the state, a nearly fatal setback for the winery. But after Slovenia won its independence, undaunted, and determined, they were able to refocus their energy on what they knew and loved: winemaking. As the wonderful folks at Small Vineyards (who import these wines) say: “When you taste the wines of Edi Simčič, in a very real sense, you are getting a little taste of freedom.” Today Edi Simcic, who works along with his son Aleks, is considered one of the top producers in Slovenia. And also one of the most controversial: they age their wines, even the whites, for extended time in oak. Case in point—this Chardonnay sourced from some of their oldest and highest altitude vines, in a single-vineyard site in the village of Kozana. They made only 50 cases of this wine and one sip tells you why they decided to bottle the Chard from this plot separately. A shallow upper layer of soil over a rocky bed imparts a unique minerality to the wine, and the high elevation preserves a wonderful freshness. Full-bodied, and wonderfully complex, with exotic spice notes from the oak aging, the wine has, they say, a “never-ending stimulation of senses.” It is $52.50 and should drink well for another five years or so, when you could enjoy it with a meaty tuna filet, fresh fettuccini with Alfredo sauce, or wild game.