New...& sort of New

Fontanavecchia Taburno Falanghina del Sanno (Campania, Italy) Regular Price $15.95/ Feature Price $13.56

We start with one that’s “sort of new.” We Featured it at the beginning of the summer, because of its incredible mineral crispness. It’s time to do it again, because a wine like this is great anytime...but also because I’m bringing back its “sort of new” red sibling of Aglianico (see below), and they should really be bookends.

The Falanghina (fall-an-GEE-nuh) grape was probably brought by Roman merchants from Greece to Italy. It owes its Latin name to the word "phalange", namely "tied to the pole", describing the ancient system of cultivation used to make the vines grow. It gets its strange sharp acidity from the volcanic soil around Naples (Mount Vesuvius).

Cape Roca Alvarinho (Minho, Portugal) Regular Price $20.00/ Feature Price $17.00

Here’s a really new one...we’ve never carried it in the store before. A customer was asking me just the other day whether I had any Spanish Albariño. I had to tell her I hadn’t found one this summer that I really liked. Then along comes Sarah with this Alvarinho (the “nh” in Portuguese is pronounced like the “ñ” in Cabo de RocaCabo de RocaSpanish). This one’s from Minho (MIN-yo) way in the far north, on the border with Galicia (from where we usually get our best Albariño).   Cape Roca (Cabo de Roca) is the furthest westward point of continental Europe.  The vineyard is only 25 miles from the Atlantic coast, at an elevation of just over 500 feet, with soil of granite sand. The seaside location is a dead giveaway to the food pairing possibilities of this crisp and luscious wine - seafood. Not so obvious is a suggestion from the producer’s website - lemon wild rice risotto. Oh, my!

Brandborg Gewurtztraminer (Umpqua, Oregon) Regular Price $21.95/ Feature Price $18.66

We last Featured this wine a year ago in honor of “Mary’s Last (Wine) Stand” - Mary Mehlich’s “going away” party. Well, I’m pleased to say that Mary hasn’t gone away (we see her weekly when she comes in to buy wine), the store has done very well...and this beautiful wine is still the same price as it was last year. And last year’s description still holds true, as well: Gewurztraminer has always been a difficult sell in our stores. I guess the first hurdle is how to pronounce the name. Even “guh-VERTS-truh-MEEN-er” isn’t a whole lot of help. Then there’s the fact that some Gewurztraminer wines from Alsace are too sweet, and some cheap ones are frankly, weird and nasty. But when this wine is well-made, it is one of the finer pleasures of wine-drinking. So I was dee-lighted when I tasted this one from the Brandborg Winery in Oregon. It’s worth learning how to pronounce the name of the grape...or you can just call it "Brandborg."

Wines with appreciable levels of acidity, like Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Gewurztraminer need at least a little bit of residual sugar for balance. This wine has just the right amount of sweetness (Residual Sugar 2.38% – about the same as the Columbia Valley Riesling) to make it taste pleasantly dry, instead of too sour. It’s also not too strongly floral like some Gewurztraminer. This one’s a classic when paired with roast fowl; and although it’s still a couple of months until Thanksgiving, it’s not too early to start deciding on your wines for holiday feasting.

Telmo Rodriguez Almuvedre (Alicante, Spain) Regular Price $16.45/ Feature Price $13.98

Telmo Rodriquez is a bit of a “rock star” in the Spanish wineTelmo RodriquezTelmo Rodriquez world. Handsome in that dark-eyed, wavy-haired Spanish way that makes fans for tennis’ Rafael Nadal, Rodriquez is also a maverick with an idiosyncratic wine-making attitude. Though a native of Rioja, he has brought attention to lesser-known Spanish winemaking regions and their local grapes, such as Toro, Rueda, Valdeorras, Malaga, Alicante and Cigales. In these areas he uses native varietals, often grapes rediscovered, such as Godello, Verdejo, Moscatel and Monastrell which do not have wide recognition. But he’s also a traditionalist in that his vineyards are biodynamically farmed and his vines are exclusively bush-trained, the traditional Spanish method. We’re adding this Almuvedre to his LZ Rioja and Dehesa Gago (Toro) selections we already carry at Wine & Words...& Gourmet.

Almuvedre is 100% Monastrell, the local clone of Mourvedre. Viticulture in these vines is traditionally unirrigated, and the bush pruned vines are carefully looked after by old wine growers. The low yields of this kind of growing make the Monastrell concentrated and complex. Even though the area is a hot Mediterranean one, the sea's cooling effect results in a late harvest, further adding to the rich ripeness. Natural yeasts were used, and careful fermentation in concrete and stainless steel tanks preserved the spicy character of the varietal. In my tasting note, I wrote simply “soft & smooth.” I might add, “¡Bienvenidos! to our shelves.”

Notorious Nero D’Avola (Sicily) Regular Price $13.75/ Feature Price $11.69

Last week, I ordered more of the Montalto Nero D’Avola/Cab blend that had been our representative of this tasty Sicilian wine. The Haw River Wine Man replied, “We are out of the Montalto forever and evermore.” Darn! The vicissitudes of the wine trade. Then Sarah shows up with her uncanny sense of what we’re looking for and, unbidden, she’s got a bottle of this Notorious...and it’s really tasty. 100% Nero D’Avola, without the Montalto’s nod to international taste, the wine really shows the grape to good advantage. It’s fermented in stainless steel, then aged in large oak barrels for at least 3 months. I think I’ll get Chef Yvonne to make us some Pasta alla Norma...Sicilian style pasta with a sauce of tomatoes, eggplant, cheese and fresh basil. Yumm-o!

Fontanavecchia Aglianico del Taburno (Campania, Italy) Regular Price $20.65/ Feature Price $17.55

Aglianico grapesAglianico grapesHere’s the Fontanavecchia Aglianico I promised at the beginning. Aglianico (ahl-YAH-nee-koh) is one of the higher quality red wine grapes of southern Italy, and it's been planted there since the 7th century BC (probably brought by the Greeks, like the white Falanghina). The grape is thick and dark skinned, producing wines of power, depth, and concentration. This one’s for big boys (and girls).