4th of JULY:
DUXOUP WINE WORKS
- Andy and Deborah
Cutter are the "Duxoup" people. They've been making
obscure wines that only serious wine drinkers are interested in for about
Who in this age of Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay, would stick to making
Charbono and Gamay? Who in this age of blockbuster wines, high in
alcohol and loaded with oak would even think of making 12.5% alcohol wines
that are not matured in highly-toasted, brand new French oak? Who
would even consider selling wine from California for less than $20 a
If you're guessing the Cutters at Duxoup, you've hit the nail right on the
The 2009 Duxoup Napa Charbono, as usual, comes from the Frediani vineyard. It's
got the typical blackberry/blueberry fruit notes you'll find in the few
Charbono wines still on the market. We chided Andy about making wine
that can actually be consumed a whole, entire bottle at a sitting since
it's not 14-15% alcohol. "If the fruit is farmed right, you can
get mature flavors without the extremely high level of sugar." Andy
This wine seems to taste good with practically anything, from
Mediterranean fare to white meats to grilled or roasted red meats.
We like it served a bit on the cool side, about 55-60 degrees. A few
minutes of "breathing" (the wine, as well as yourself) seems to
be beneficial here.
Andy also makes a small amount of Gamay. Not a fruity,
Beaujolais-styled red, this is a medium-bodied wine that's got a bit of
backbone along the lines of a lighter Zinfandel. We
"road-tested" this with a beef stew and it was right at home.
Currently in stock: 2009 Charbono Sold Out
SUMMERS NAPA VALLEY
CHARBONO Sale $22.99
& Beth Summers are great practitioners of the art of Charbono.
They grow their own and they grow it near the winery in Napa's Calistoga.
This is dark in color and it'll stain your teeth...lots of beautiful
boysenberry/olallieberry/blueberry aromas to this fairly full-bodied red.
The tannin level is fairly modest and we enjoy this wine served at cool
cellar temp. It pairs well with SO MANY foods...from picnic fare to
Chinese food to roasted or grilled meats to chicken, pork, ribs, etc.
What a delightful wine!
PAVESE "BLANC DE MORGEX" $26.99
founded his little winery in 1999, so unlike so many wineries in Italy
that have hundreds of years of history, this guy's goes back just in the
The vineyards are high elevation, as high at 1200 meters! The grape
of the area is a white variety called Prie Blanc and this grows in the
shadows of Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc if you're on the French side of the
The vines are quite old and they're planted on their own roots...and they
trained them fairly low to the ground because ages ago they were often
picked by little people: the children of growers were often enlisted
to pick the grapes during the harvest, so the vines, trained in a pergola
style of cultivation, were kept low to the ground.
Of course, the other benefit of this is what modest level of heat retained
by the rocky soils would keep a bit of warmth for the vines in the night.
Pavese vinifies this wine in stainless steel and it nicely retains a
minerality we find quite enchanting. It's bone dry, low in alcohol
(typically around 12.5%) and nicely crisp.
You can serve this as an aperitif, but we've also enjoyed it with light
seafood dishes (got clams?)...
It's a wonderful wine and one your friends are not likely to know since denominazione
of Blanc de Morgex as there are but 30, or so, hectares of vineyards in
this region. Pavese owns two of them.
FRANCESCO BRIGATTI "UVA
name of the grape is "Uva Rara," indicating its a
"rare" variety. But, in fact, there are approximately 1500
acres of it planted in Piemonte and Lombardia combined.
What's rare is to find any of it bottled as a varietal wine and being sold
here in the USA market.
Now to totally confuse things, the Vespolina grape is known as "Uva
Rara" and it's blended with Gattinara wines if the winemaker so
In the Novarra-Vercelli hills, Uva Rara is known as Bonarda-Novarese, but
some will tell you it's not the same grape as "Bonarda
Well, this wine does not remind us of most Bonarda wines as it's lighter
in body and tastes differently.
The Brigatti winery produces a handful of wines and the total production
tallies to a mere 20-thousand bottles annually.
So, in their case, "Uva Rara" IS a rare wine!
We like the gentle spirit of this wine. It's medium-bodied and not a
blockbuster...it pairs well with some Prosciutto starters or lightly
chilled it's good with grilled sausages...mildly-seasoned red
This is another wine you can introduce to your wine geek friends...
DOMAINE GUILLEMARINE PICPOUL DE
Allies family has owned this estate since the 1980s and their son
Guillaume and his wife now run the domaine.
The winery and vineyards are in the town of Pomerols (not related to the
Bordeaux town of Pomerol) and the family cultivates around 25 acres of a
grape called Picpoul.
In the local dialect, Picpoul translates to "lip stinger."
The wine tends to be light in body, modest in terms of alcohol level and
reasonably crisp, hence the 'lip stinger' designation.
Close by to the vineyards, you'll find the Bassin de Thau, a marine area
where there's quite an oyster farming production. And, happily, this
wine pairs beautifully with oysters, clams, mussels, crab, shrimp and many
white fish dishes...
No oak. Dry. Crisp. Light.
JEAN-FRANCOIS QUÉNARD CHIGNIN $12.99
is a remarkably good wine made from a grape known in the French Alps as
The Quénard family has been making wine in the village of Chignin for
several decades and theirs is a top example of the variety and, thanks to
an honest importer, it arrives here at an attractive price.
Our friend Lettie Teague, who writes wine articles for The Wall Street
Journal, sent a note saying she thinks wines from France's Savoie
region are going to be the "next big thing."
We asked her where she's been the past decade? We've
had a number of seriously good wines from the Savoie and the quality/price
rapport is exceptional.
This wine comes from vines averaging about 40 years of
age. Chalky/clay soils in mountainous vineyard sites...the wine is done in
stainless steel and then left on the lees for a brief period before
bottling. It's not terribly high in alcohol (another feature we find
refreshing!) and there's a mildly minerally note with a touch of a hazelnut
It's a nice aperitif wine, but really shines when paired with
seafood. Dungeness Crab is a great partner, but so are Sea Scallops,
prawns or white fish filets. A bottle served with some Rex Sole was really