Thursday, December 31, 2015

Discover Sicilian Wines

Vineyards in Sicily -- Etna in the background
We have a nice mix of Sicilian wines in stock at the moment. Come in and try a few. Sicily has been making wine for generations but it has really only been in the last two decades that acclaim has come their way. From the volcanic soils surrounding Mount Etna to the southern sun in Cerasuolo di Vittoria there is a nice mix of styles and flavors. Of course we have cherry-picked our favorites. Here are some to start -- with more arriving as the year progresses. Full disclosure: my father was born in Sicily and I have many relatives there. Does that make me biased? Just maybe…

2014 Caravaglio Malvasia Blanco Secco Salina $19.99 Italy
100% organic. This dry yet delectably ripe and juicy white from the volcanic Aeolian Islands off the northern coast of Sicily is an exciting find from southern Italy. Aromas of fresh, sweet white and yellow peaches blend with a hint of lemon zest on the nose; generous and juicy, with a touch of sea salt and mineral backbone, that gives just the right amount of lift on the palate.

2012 Murgo Etna Rosso $17.99 Italy
Always an attractive mid-weight red laced with black cherries, rosemary, herbs and licorice. There is a casual weightless elegance of this Etna and it has good overall balance and harmony. The blend is primarily Nerello Mascalese with a laser amount of Nerello Mantellato.

2012 Hauner Salina Hiera $19.99 Italy
(90 Points: Wine Enthusiast) "Made from a blend of 60% Alicante, 30% Nocera and 10% Calabrese, this wine has aromas of violet, tilled earth, mature plum, prune and black cooking spice. The soft, savory palate delivers ripe black cherry and black berry, accented by black pepper and nutmeg. It’s balanced, with velvety tannins and fresh acidity. Made for early drinking pleasure, so enjoy soon."

2012 Riofavara Eloro Nero d'Avola Spaccaforno $21.99 Italy
Riofavara is located in the Noto Valley, just a few minutes down the road from the town that gave Nero d’Avola its name, and was the first producer to dignify this grape with the use of its own indigenous yeasts. This bright vivacious red wine is loaded with character with a mineral driven core that derives from the zone’s rocky limestone and marl terrains.

2010 Gulfi Nerojbleo $25.99 Italy
(88 Points: Wine Spectator) "A note of sweet brown bread leads the way here, mixing with date, tea leaf and mocha accents. A balanced red, with a soft and creamy finish. Shows more savory character than sweetness. Nero d'Avola. Drink now through 2020. 6,666 cases made."

2012 COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria $34.99 Italy
Winemaker notes: "The Cerasuolo di Vittoria is a deep ruby red color. It has aromas of dried cherry, chocolate, smoke, herb and spice. It gains some licorice notes with time in the glass. Soft round fruity medium bodied palate with a good dose of acidity. The wines gives off dried cherry, truffle and smoky flavors in the mouth. 60% Nero d'Avola and 40% Frappato."

2011 Palari Rosso del Soprano $52.99 Italy
The grapes are Nerello Mascalese, Nocera, Nerello Cappuccio and Galatena, from the Faro region. This is a wine that strides the line between ethereal and earthy (the little brother Palari's cult wine simply called "Faro"). It offers an otherworldly nose that leads you into a palate of brambly dark fruit, cigar wrapper, leather and a hint of hazelnut liqueur. This has stunning balance and the kind of texture that wine-lovers cherish. A wine of superior quality.

Others we like but are out of stock currently

Passopisciaro Terre Siciliane
Girolamo Russo Etna Rosso A Rina
Terre Nere Etna Rosso
Graci Etna Rosso
Valle dell'Acate Il Frappato Vittoria Frappato
Valle dell'Acate Cerasuolo di Vittoria
Benanti Etna Rosso di Verzella
Benanti Rovittello
Benanti Serra della Contessa
Bonavita Faro
Occhipinti Frappato

Keep tasting new things…

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Good Value Wine Selections!

We like good values. But unfortunately it might take tasting 100 wines to find those 10 good ones; I mean a  really solid wine for the price. There are a lot of duds out there. We taste everything before we buy to ensure the quality. And because of this filtering we are proud when we put together a nice collection of wines that taste-better-than-they-cost. Our under $15 section is always building.

2012 Braschi Albana di Romagna Secco $14.99 Italy
The Albana white DOCG was the first in Italy. Straw yellow with golden highlights. Aromas honeysuckle, peaches and minerals.

2012 Hedges CMS Blend $12.99 Washington
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot and 6% Syrah. All Columbia Valley fruit. A food-friendly, open-knit and ready to drink wine, with a burst of juicy acidity at the finish to keep it fresh.

2011 Lo Nuevo Verdejo Lunares $12.99 Spain
Wonderfully aromatic with bright pineapple, fresh spring flowers and peach aromas. Slightly creamy on the palate, this wine is ripe with exotic fruit

2012 Niepoort Twisted Tinto Douro $14.99 Portugal
A pleasant, easy drinking red from Portugal, made with local grapes: Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Amarela. Balsamic and dark red fruits.

2013 Fossil Point Pinot Noir $14.99 California
Edna Valley Pinot Noir at a great price. The fruit was hand harvested and fermented in small lots prior to aging for 10 months in French oak barrels. Classic ripe cherry fruit.

2013 Laporte Sauvignon Blanc Le Bouquet $14.99 France
Certified organic. Great value-driven Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley. Aromatic, pleasantly floral and fruity. A hint of lemon gives it all its liveliness.

2013 Luc Lapeyre San Brés Minervois $12.99 France
From predominantly gravel, sand and clay soils comes this bright and refreshing red from the south of France. Youthful red filled with bright fruit. Grenache and Syrah.

2014 La Croix Gratiot Picpoul de Pinet $12.99 France
Picpoul de Pinet is the grape and the appellation (in the Languedoc Roussillon). Bright yellow with green highlights. Stone fruit, pears and citrus.

2014 Domaine Duffour Blanc Cotes de Gascogne $9.99 France
A fresh blend of Gros Manseng, Colombard and Ugni Blanc. Notes of melon, clean, pure flavors of citus fruit, an engaging herbaceous note, and a pleasingly dry finish.

2010 Chateau la Coustarelle Grand Cuvee Tradition $14.99 France
The Cuveé Tradition is fashioned from 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot from a 30+ year old parcel of vines. This hearty red displays intense aromas of blackberry, black truffles and licorice.

2013 Domaine de Colette Beaujolais-Villages $14.99 France
45-year-old vines grown in pink granite soils with South-Southeast facing slopes, this is another wine that over-achieves. Quality Gamay for a silly price. Raspberry, red currant and strawberry.

NV Capdevila Pujol Cava $14.99 Spain
(89 Points: International Wine Cellar) "Light greenish-yellow. Musky lemon and pear on the nose, with subtle floral and mineral qualities. Juicy and a touch grapey, yellow plum and pear flavors."

2014 Bodegas Aragonesas Crucillón Garnacha Campo de Borja $12.99 Spain
Cherry red color with blue edges denoting its youth. Earthy, warm berry aromas on the nose. The palate on this everyday drinker is loaded with black and red fruits.

2010 Laila Rosso Piceno Marche $14.99 Italy
Made with 80% Montepulciano and 20% Sangiovese. Sustainably-farmed fruit, no use of chemicals. Fresh. Meaty. Cherry fruit. Good depth and great value.

2012 Independent Producers Chardonnay $14.99 Washington
The House of Independent Producers Chardonnay is as close to a Chablis-style white as you can find on the West Coast. No oak. Apple, flint, citrus and stone define the palate.

2012 Schmid Grüner Veltliner Stratzinger Satzen $14.99 Austria
30-year-old vines. 100% stainless. Clean. Bright yellow green, citrus fragrance, on the palate fresh and well balanced, delicate aromas of green apples, harmonious interlacing of acidity.

2011 Viticcio Chianti Classico Tuscany $14.99 Italy
(90 Points: James Suckling) "Aromas of dried cherries and flowers follow through to a medium to full body with fine tannins and a fresh finish. Nice creamy acidity. Drink or hold."

2013 Massiac Viognier Vin de Pays d'Oc $13.99 France
Importer notes: "Early morning harvest to take advantage of the cool morning hours, fermentation and elevage in tank. Fresh, lively and expressive notes of flowers and stone fruits."

2013 Massiac Minervois Rouge Sentinelle $12.99 France
A blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Carignan. It is dark in color and rich when young, with dominant flavors of blackcurrant. These primary fruit aromas give way to herb/garrigue characteristics as the wine ages. A classic bistro wine, that is food-friendly.

2012 Adelaida Version White $14.99 California
(90 Points: Wine Advocate) "The 2012 Version White checks in as blend of 33% Grenache Blanc, 25% Picpoul, 25% Viognier and the balance Roussanne. Aged 10 month in neutral barrels, it gives up pretty apple and pear fruits, with additional citrus and floral notes coming through with air. Medium-bodied, pure and elegant."

NV Domaine Collin Cremant de Limoux Brut $12.99 France
Produced in a traditional method with a second fermentation taking place in the bottle. Balanced, elegant and with no rough edges. The Chardonnay gives the wine brightness and a lively acidity, the Chenin Blanc adds richness and texture, while the Pinot Noir adds depth to the wine

Always more coming so come in to check it out...

Monday, March 30, 2015

White Burgundy Arrivals

I like oddball wines just as much as the cool kids but I also really like the classics. And as most of you know, for me, Burgundy is the tops. I can't think of any other region, especially for whites, that I'd rather pimp. Here are three selections arriving this week that are special. The Cheveau is a wine that by all rights should cost more. The complexity for the price is silly. Bitouzet-Prieur is a top tier producer that you can try an entry-level bottling for under $30. And the Prudhon Premiere Cru St Aubin is a wine that many would call an "insider pick," as the producer doesn't command the top dollars (yet) but is certainly worthy of it.

 2013 Cheveau Macon-Chaintre Les Clos $20.99
Importer notes: "This single-vineyard site is in the southernmost village (Chaintre) in the Maconnais. Hand-harvested. The wine is aged in stainless steel on the fine lees for eight months before undergoing a light filtration at the moment of bottling. The Macon-Chaintre Le Clos is consistently marked by notes of citrus fruits (lemon, orange, grapefruit) with a lively acidity, fruit blossom aromas and excellent balance."

2013 Bitouzet-Prieur Bourgogne Blanc $29.99
Light yellow-gold hue, with green-gold highlights. On the nose, the wine expresses fresh fruit aromas (pear), along with hazelnut notes. Excellent minerality and purity of fruit. There is a lovely texture and balance on the palate. Loaded with citrus and stone fruit flavors. As good as a wine at this level can be. Top notch producer.

2011 Prudhon Saint Aubin Blanc 1er Cru Sur Gamay $41.99
(90 Points: Burghound) "Here the nose has a pretty mix of white orchard fruit aromas, especially pear, along with similar hints of mineral. There is a nicely textured and sappy mouth feel to the medium weight flavors that possess fine mid-palate density, all wrapped in a citrusy, long, clean, dry and quite vibrant finish that is markedly dry, linear and palpably firmer."

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lioco Wine and Shopping Small

It was 2006. We had just opened Rosso Wine Shop in the Fall of that year. We were starting to get our footing soon after; ordering the right wines for us. We opened with every distributor known to man (to be a useful source for our growing customer base). 

In 2007 word was starting to spread. A customer called one day and told me about this unbelievable Chardonnay from the Heintz Vineyard that she had at Spago. She said it was entirely delicious and unique. Our interest was picqued. Days later we were paid a visit by Kevin O'Connor. At the time he was Sommelier at Spago. But on the side he had started producing this wine called Lioco with partner Matt Licklider. They were on their second vintage with this wine (the first probably didn't have very much to distribute). We tasted through through the wines together and then we happily jumped on the the Lioco train.

The wines were fresh and modestly priced for their quality. The labels were tasteful (a consideration for retail) and they were a perfect fit for us. Kevin was the "boots on the ground" back then for Lioco. He has since opened his own restaurant in Santa Monica called Aestus (go visit). Matt Licklider has his own wine background as national sales director of North Berkeley Imports (prior to Lioco); which is how they met. Now I see Matt more often but the wine hasn't changed, in fact, it has only gotten better.

This is why you want to shop at a small retailer. We have "OCD for wine." We get to discover great stuff early (sometimes later too) but we foster long-going relationships with people we like to support. And when I say we taste hundreds of wines every year to select the best, you can know that we stand behind that.

Try the new Lioco wines, now in their tenth vintage!
All wines available at Rosso Wine Shop.

2013 Lioco Chardonnay Sonoma County $21.99

2012 Lioco Carignan Sativa Mendocino County $27.99

2012 Lioco Pinot Noir Laguna Sonoma Coast $37.99

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Parm Crack with MilkFarm

Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel cutting at Rosso Wine Shop

People say it is unique and not many get to actually experience it. Well, we did.

We partnered with our friends at Milkfarm in Eagle Rock. Leah Fierro and Jacob Rodriguez came to enlighten us on the background of the wheel and the process to make and get it. Then post-crack we were able to sample the amazingly fresh Parmigiano.


EaterLA wrote about it. We sold out very quickly. 40 lucky people got to witness it (at least 25 were on a wait list). Good fun was had by all.

Oh, and the smell of the room once the wheel was opened... unbelievable!

We paired sparkling wines from the same region of Emilia-Romagna.

2011 Donati Malvasia dell'Emilia Frizzante
2012 Donati Barbera dell'Emilia Frizzante
2012 Donati Lambrusco dell'Emilia Frizzante

Glasses lined up for Lambrusco

Parm close-up

Leah explaining the process

The wheel and the tools

The crack

The luscious interior

All photos by Wes Chilton. Thank you Wes!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How Did You Get Into Wine?

"How did you get into wine" is a question I am asked quite a lot, especially from someone who is new to the shop and curious. It is never really the same exact story but more of a narrative that gets me to the place where I am today. But this morning I thought of one experience that I had that is representative of the thread that connects the multiple stories and that encapsulates my feeling about the discovery.

The year was 1993 and I was still in my twenties. I was on tour with punk rock group Jeff Dahl Band. We were playing 58 shows in about 62 days and all over Europe. It was my first trip to Europe and I got to go to just about every country I ever wanted to, in one fell swoop. Our regimen was; find our tour headquarters in each country and then meet up with our road manager. From there we made our way to each venue. Met with our sound crew. Set up. Did some sound checking. And then we usually had some time before the gig. If it was still light out we could check out the city center or some sights, if we had enough time. Generally we would be taken out to dinner around that point too or the club people would arrange something. Then a few hours later we would rock. Break down. Load out. And repeat 58 more times.

By the time we arrived to Italy about 3/4 of the way through the tour we were all pretty wrecked. It was a grueling tour. A lot of miles. But I remember we arrived in the little beach town on the side of the Adriatic called Cesenatico in the Emilia-Romagna region. We were to be playing a sort of water park gig. Odd sounding yes, but consistent with some of the odd venues we had encountered from time to time. After our usual sound check the club people were excited to take us out to dinner at their favorite local trattoria. We sat down to a humble meal of local delicacies, wine and beer. Of course everything was delicious but I remember distinctly my first experience with Tortelini en Brodo. A simple but satisfying dish. The pasta had a great bite to it and the broth was flavorful and nourishing. With that came our carafes of white and red wine. Not important what they were but how good they were together. The idea of "local" took hold as I looked around the table. Everyone was having a great time and everything at our table was crafted within a stone's throw of where we sat.

Since those days I talk a lot about "if it grows together then it likely goes together" and of course other people have thought of that before me, but on that day in Cesenatico, in 1993, the "how I got into wine story" was germinated.