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Wine Recommendations for Spring 2024

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Sparkling Wine

Domaine le Facteur
Vouvray, Extra Brut, NV
$24, organic

Domaine le FacteurYou know that we love sparkling, so we are always on the alert when something new to us comes to one of our distributors. The Le Facteur got thumbs up from 4 out of 4 team tasters. Young Fabien Brutout farms 7 hectares in Touraine, including 4 in Vouvray, an appellation known for Chenin Blanc which we think can make some super-satisfying sparkling.

Chenin is a fairly aromatic, high acid variety with rich, sweeter aromas and flavors from pear and quince fruit to honey and ginger. Le Facteur conveys those beautiful Chenin flavors within a creamy texture while retaining that bright, fresh finish. We’ve opened it at several little gatherings since we first tasted it. It is a winning start.


White Wines

Miranius, Xerel-lo,
Penedes, 2021 (11%)

Cellar Credo MiraniusCellar Credo is the still wine arm of Recaredo, arguably the premier sparkling wine of Spain. Recaredo/Cellar Credo’s commitment is to produce wines that fluently express place. They were the first in the Penedes region to embrace biodynamics, guided by the understanding that “there can be no wines that capture the essence of the landscape unless we care for and respect the land itself” (Recaredo website). Voicing place also means using only indigenous varieties. Self-described “Xarel-lists,” Cellar Credo works exclusively with Xerel-lo, a high-quality Catalania white variety that combines “power, density, high acidity and relatively high sugar levels” (Robinson, et. al., 1158).

Miranius is Cellar Credo’s entry-level Xarel-lo. Fermented and aged on the lees for 6 months in stainless steel, the wine is less about aromas, which are reticent, and much more about texture and flavors. On the palate, the wine is creamy, with some apricot fruit and a bit of savory flintiness. Those who love acidity and minerality will appreciate the marathon finish during which your salivary glands go into overdrive to help protect your teeth’s enamal and increase your mouth’s pH.

Susana Esteban
Aventura Branco (12.5%)
Alentejo, 2021: $22

We are so pleased to have this wine to share with our wine curious customer-friends. Susana Esteban is making wines from Portalegre, a northern satellite of the southern wine region of Alentejo. Unlike the open plains that host most Alentejo vineyards, Portalegre is located in the Serra de São Mamede, a granitic mountain range where higher elevations contribute cooler and wetter conditions.

Esteban’s Aventura is a field blend of white varieties traditional to Portugal: Arinto, a potentially high-quality, high acid grape that brings both minerality and freshness to the wine; Siria (known as Roupeiro in Alentejo) which offers a considerable aromatic profile from floral (almost lavendar here) to stone fruit; and Antao Vaz that brings more tropical fruit aromas to bear.

Esteban’s Aventura is a textual wine– a creamy, leesy mouthfeel yet elegant and bright. There is pronounced and satisfying minerality, but there is also ripe fruit. The team was unanimous; this wine will be in our starting rotation.

Red Wines

Kivelstadt Cellars
Father’s Watch, Red Blend
Mendocino, 2022
$18: organic

Kivelstadt CellarsThe new vintage of Kivelstadt Cellars, Father’s Watch, has just arrived. We, and the distributor, sold out of the previous vintage in October.

Kivelstadt Cellars got on our radar 4 years ago when we were introduced to a syrah they released. It was clean– nothing but the grape– yet unique and well-priced, not what we expected from California. We paid attention, tried more KC wines, and discovered the correlation between their pledge to make distinctive wines with minimal interventions that are affordable and what is in the bottle. We currently have 4 KC wines available in the shop. We recommend trying all of them.

Grapes were sourced from the Venturi vineyard in Mendocino, about an hour and a half north of Sonoma. They are old vines, planted over 70 years ago, farmed organically and are not irrigated. There is a lot of character to these grapes, without the high price tag of Napa and Sonoma fruit.

The Father’s Watch is a blend of nearly equal amounts of Grenache, Carignane, and Syrah, fermented with ambient yeasts to reflect the specificity of the vineyard. The blended wine is aged for 22 months in neutral French oak. The finished wine shows juicy dark fruit from dark cherry to black raspberry, spice that ranges from baking spices to peppercorns, and a pretty, brambly, earthy layer. Welcome back, Father’s Watch. We’ve missed you.

Chianti Superiore, 2021
$20: organic (14%)

Fibbiano is well-known to Windham Wines’ Italian-loving wine curious friends. Matteo Cantoni, one of the family members who collectively own and run the winery and agritourismo in Terricciola, Tuscany, has guided tastings at Windham Wines several times. We love Matteo, and we love the Fibbiano wines.

Fibbiano is situated on a hilltop in Chianti Pisane, the furthest west of the Chianti sub-zones, whose soils are filled with marine fossils, evidence of an era when the region was once under sea. Calcium-rich soils (calcareous) have many properties that render them well-suited to growing grapevines. Crushed and decayed shells form the basis of the soils of many of the world’s most revered wine regions– Champagne, Burgundy, Chablis and Tuscany, to name a few.

We tasted Fibbiano’s Chianti Superiore, Casalini, 2021, in a line-up of 14 Sangioveses from Tuscany and Umbria. It is a category of fierce competition. Fibbiano comported well, one of our top 3 and the best-value among them. Tasters used words like “outstanding,” “4 stars,” and “superb.” Juicy cherry fruit, a spicy bouquet of cinnamon and cardamom, a nice undercurrent of fennel in a wine that entered smoothly with nicely-integrated tannins.