Selections for September 2016

We’re kickin’ it!

2013 TENUTE LUCE DELLA VITE ‘Lucente’ – Toscana, Italy

The concept of Luce, of which “Lucente” is an alternative project, was born in the early ‘90’s, co-inspired by Vittorio Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi.  As we all know, the Mondavi Empire as it once gloriously was is no more, but the Luce Ideal perseveres and scions of each family remain involved:  Lamberto Frescobaldi now controls the brand’s destiny and Robert’s son Michael Mondavi is its importer to us. 

We are pleased to point out that profit-paring Wine.Com’s price for this is 24.99.  Ever-aggressive K&L Wine Merchats has “Lucente” for 19.95, with no further discounting.  Apply YOUR wine club discount to our rate and you’re paying a mere 18.89 for a wine made in Montalcino by a famous Brunello producer. 

Most importantly, we’re always doing our best to bring you real wine value.  Beyond the very nice price we think our obsessive wine tastings have yielded you a lovely red here.  This combination of Sangiovese and Merlot, aged twelve months in mostly French oak, delivers a beautifully-colored expression of pure fruit.  Elaborating on that:  The nose has showy blackberries and morello cherries, plus damp earth and a cooling graphite sensation.  Aired out a bit, Lucente starts to reveal the local sotto bosco (underbrush).  The mouth is juicy with citric attack and simultaneously “comfortable” with sweet, early dark fruit.  Tuscany and its key grape Sangiovese make themselves felt in the mildly grippy finish, and the slice of pizza currently on my desk is capably resolving that.    

This can be enjoyed now with proteins of all kinds or be held for a few years to reveal dried flowers and earth, and a softer feel.  We suggest stocking up on this wine in order to witness Lucente in all its beautiful phases – and to appreciate true wine value.  

Give it lots of air . . .

2014 DOMAINE de la VERDE ‘Prélude’ – Vacqueyras, Rhone Valley, France

Welcome to Rhone 2014!  This is our first provision from a very good vintage and you should look forward to several more.  My early impressions of ‘14’s wines:  Honestly-sized and traditionally flavored.  By contrast, the Rhone Valley’s workhorse grape Grenache gave winemakers major fits in 2013, and nearly every rendition portrayed a less-than-friendly green streak.  Let’s be grateful for everything being in the right place one vintage later!

Coming to a bottle of Vacqueyras – if you’ve done so before – has you anticipating a $22+ bottle price and a certain amount of fruit weight and – often - some saddle leather qualities borne by a certain yeastie-beastie named brettanomyces.  This microbial invasion can happen anywhere, but seems to happen in Vacqueyras at a much higher rate, as if the whole village is accommodating the bug like some preferred local Pokemon.

THIS rendition surprises with a “weight” that’s lower than usual; de la Verde is more brisk than dense.  I’ve had a bottle open for three or four days and rather than reprimanding me for the abuse the wine appears to be THANKING me for the extra air. “Saddle leather”?  This winery must have cleaned up and kicked that alternative, only sometimes-welcome, alternative yeast out of the place.  Finally, what about the anticipated $22 rate?  Nope:  Another nice surprise.

If ‘de la Verde’ isn’t as unctuous as the Vacqueyras experience you’re more used to, it is also microbially “cleaner” AND much lower in price.  Our pal Charles Neal tracked down this new discovery and we’re pleased to be among the first in the USofA to carry it. 

We recommend smoky and charred proteins straight off the grill as accompaniment!