2015 Bluwines, Bluhands Carignan — Bluwines was created in 2010 by Chilean enologist Paola Poblete and her husband, Ulf Bergman.
They began their winemaking project with a goal of crafting quality wines with a focus on Carignan, a high-acid grape with rich color, originally of Spanish origin, now more commonly found in the south of France and increasingly in Chile. Paola sources hers from dry-farmed, 50-year-old vineyards in Cauquenes, in the Maule Valley, about 15 miles from the coast. Carignan grows particularly well here, where the sugars develop slowly and the fruit can ripen fully. This one, blended with 5% Malbec, is aged 18 months in French oak and is smooth and complex, with red fruit flavors, rustic earthy notes, and fresh, vibrant acidity. Great with spicy meat or poultry dishes (think chili or curry) or a summer barbecue. $23
2020 Txakoli Rezabal, Txakolina — Txakolina (“chako leena”) comes from northern Spain’s Basque country. There are three distinct growing regions for the wine and this one comes from a winery based in the Getariako Txakolina appellation. They use traditional methods and practice sustainable viticulture, in order to protect the environment and preserve the character of their fruit. Txakolina wines are typically light, crisp, and unpretentious, with fresh citrus and green apple flavors and a hint of effervescence from natural carbonation. This one is made from the indigenous grape, Hondarrabi Zuri and, true to form, it is light and friendly, with refreshing acidity and pleasant savory, herbal notes. Txakolinas are meant to be enjoyed chilled, while young and fresh, and they are no brainers for tapas or any kind of seafood. $15
2018 Fraga do Corvo, Mencía — This wine comes from the wet, lush Galicia region of northwest Spain. We recently featured a Mencía from the Ribeiro zone of Galicia—this month we present one from the relatively young Monterrei DO. Being more inland, Monterrei is warmer and drier than other parts of Galicia. This winery was founded in 2005 by a family with 30 years of winegrowing history in the area. Today they have 28 vineyards farmed sustainably and planted to indigenous varietals, such as this 100% Mencía (pronounced “men-thia” locally). It is sourced from older vines grown on slate and limestone soil on the slopes of the Monterrei Valley and sees about seven months in French oak. It is smooth and elegant, with dark fruit flavors, spice, and a touch of meatiness. It’s a great wine for game birds, mushroom dishes, or Iberian pork. The name, fraga do corvo, means “crow forest,” or “a murder of crows.” $18
2018 Watermill Winery, “Chances R” Chardonnay — The Brown family had been commercial apple growers with over a century of farming in the Walla Walla Valley before planting their first vineyard on family property in 2001. They established their winery in 2005 with the help of consulting winemaker Rich Funk of Saviah Cellars and acquired more vineyards over the years, including one in what would later be designated the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. The wines are made by Andrew Brown, who honed his skills working alongside Rich Funk. This 100% Chard is produced under their “Chances R” label, so named because, given the high quality and great value, they figured “chances are we aren’t going to make any money off it.” Aged in neutral oak and stainless steel, it is rich and balanced, with lovely texture and notes of fresh fruit. $15
2019 Sottimano, Brachetto “Maté” — Sottimano is a family estate in northern Italy’s Piedmont region, established in the 1970s by Rino Sottimano in the Barbaresco commune of Neive. The winery has expanded over the years and today Rino is joined by his two children, but they continue to farm organically and use traditional winemaking practices. While Sottimano is best known for their cru Barbarescos, they also produce this 100% Brachetto from the Maté Vineyard, a small plot of 40-year-old vines grown on limestone and clay soil. Brachetto is typically used to produce the sweet, slightly effervescent wine known as Brachetto d’Aqui. Dry, still versions are less common, but are delightful wines to get to know. They are aromatic and fruity, with characteristic notes of rose petals, wild strawberries, and a touch of cassis and spice. This one is light-bodied and relatively low in alcohol. Try it slightly chilled, perhaps with Asian or Indian fare. $18
2018 Rasa Vineyards, Occam’s Razor — Billo Naravane had a successful career in high tech before he fell in love with wine. He returned to school, got a degree in viticulture from U.C. Davis, and even became a Master of Wine (one of just over 400 in the world today). He founded Rasa in Walla Walla in 2006. Occam’s Razor is the principle attributed to 14th century Franciscan philosopher William of Ockham, stating that “the simplest answer is usually the best one.” We’re not sure how that pertains to this wine, or even what the exact blend is, although it is based on Syrah and Cab Sauv. It is very structured and complex and takes a bit of time to fully open up (it is even delicious after a day or two). So give it some time to breathe or up to a year in the cellar. Then enjoy its serious savory, peppery, dark fruit flavors and notes of herbs and spice. $19