2020 J. Mourat, Collection Val de Loire Blanc — The Loire Valley stretches from Sancerre in the east to Muscadet, where the river meets the Atlantic.
Most of us are familiar with these two regions, as well as many of the villages along the way. But Fiefs Vendéens, a small zone located south of Muscadet, remains relatively unfamliar. It is located about 20 kilometers from the Atlantic with a cool, maritime climate. Vignobles Mourat was established here in 1974 and today is run by Jérémie Mourat, who has converted the property to organic viticulture. This wine is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, aged in stainless steel. It is clean and fresh with crisp orchard fruit flavors, bright acidity, and medium body. Enjoy it over the next few years with seafood (perhaps halibut with roasted cauliflower), Southeast Asian cuisine, or herb-crusted goat cheese. $16
2016 Brave Cellars, Two Roads, Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir — Tahmiene Momtazi is head winemaker at her family’s winery, Maysara, where she produces stunning Pinot Noirs from their Demeter-certified, biodynamically farmed estate Momtazi Vineyard. The vineyard is located in the McMinnville AVA at the mouth of the Van Duzer Corridor and we’ve featured a number of her wines in our Oregon Club. In 2017 Tahmiene and her husband launched a second project, Brave Cellars, to produce a line of elegant, yet affordable wines from their estate fruit and we were excited to discover them recently. Their Two Roads Pinot is very inviting and balanced, with complex notes of red fruit, spice, and hints of earth. Like all good Oregon Pinots, it is perfect for salmon, but it would also pair well with pasta with mushroom sauce, or even grilled meats. $22
2018 Saviah Cellars, The Jack Grenache — Rich Funk founded Saviah Cellars in Walla Walla in 2000. He originally studied microbiology and had considered a career in beermaking, but his interests gradually turned to wine. His background in chemistry and soil science was very useful in that regard, and it didn’t hurt that he had access to top vineyard sources as well as enormous talent. In addition to his Saviah wines, Rich also produces a line of delicious and affordable wines under his Jack label. This Grenache, blended with 4% Mourvèdre, is sourced from several vineyards, including Watermill in The Rocks District, a unique site, often compared to that of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, that tends to impart a distinct, earthy minerality to the fruit. This wine has an inviting touch of those savory, meaty notes, along with smooth, rich flavors of dark cherry, licorice, and herbs. It’s an amazing value, and perfect for poultry dishes, lamb, or hearty vegetarian fare. $15
2020 Villa Sparina, Gavi di Gavi — Gavi is a small wine zone in Italy’s northern Piedmont region, known for its refreshing, aromatic white wines based on the indigenous grape, Cortese. Villa Sparina has about 70 hectares of vineyards in the appellation, planted on the local clay and marl soil that is perfect for producing richly flavored white wines. They focus on indigenous grapes and work with great respect for the winemaking traditions of the past, while being open to new and innovative approaches. Their Gavi di Gavi (“Gavi from Gavi”) is 100% Cortese and has been a long-time favorite in the shop. It is vibrant and refreshing with rich, stone fruit flavors. Perfect for white meat or fish dishes or with Mediterranean fare. The unique bottle shape was inspired by an old bottle discovered in their historic cellars that date back to the 18th century. $17
2016 Poggio del Moro, Rosso Toscana — This Tuscan estate, just south of Montepulciano, is run by a team of young, passionate people from around the world who share a deep respect for nature and traditions. They use natural yeasts from their vineyards in order to achieve the purest expression of their terroir. This wine is an equal blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah from their Vigneto del Mattino (“morning vineyard,” named for its exposition), with mostly sandy soils, with clay and light loam. It is aged in barriques and small oak barrels for 12 months, followed by six months in stainless steel and six in bottle, producing a smooth, fruit-forward wine layered with juicy flavors of plum and black pepper. It evokes classic Tuscan terroir, but with a modern feel. Enjoy over the next few years with Italian or Mediterranean fare. $22
20ème Domaine Jean Royer, “Le Petit Roy” — This family estate in Châteauneuf-du-Pape had been selling their fruit to négociants when, in 1986, son Jean-Marie Royer returned home and began to rebuild and expand the property. Today he has vineyards in some of the top areas in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and in the surrounding region. His Châteauneuf-du-Papes are highly esteemed, but he also makes this delicious table wine, typically Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Syrah, sourced from the Côtes du Rhône AOC, vineyards outside the appellation, plus some declassified Châteauneuf-du-Pape fruit. It is labeled Vin de France, without a regional or vintage designation (beyond the hint, 20ème année), but it’s made with the same care as his top cuvées. Complex and well structured with rustic flavors of savory garrigue and brambly fruit, it’s a great value for a “baby Châteauneuf!” Enjoy over the next few years with lamb, ratatouille, or Provençal fare. $22