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The Young 2012 Elio Altare, Dolcetto d’Alba is Spot On

February 28, 2014 Leave a comment

I enjoyed the 2012 Elio Altare, Dolcetto d’Alba from the first sniff.  It is a young and dry wine that will benefit from some age but its ability to show off some savory and ripe characteristics make it attractive right now.  I particularly like how the floral nose is referenced by the perfumed aftertaste making a homogenous experience.  Thanks to Phil for recommending this bottle! This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Elio Altare, Dolcetto d’Alba – $19
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is 100% Dolcetto sourced from vines planted in 1995 and 1975 on calcareous and sandy soils.  It was aged for ten months in stainless steel.  Alcohol 13%.  The perfumed nose was followed by young, tart flavors of blackberries.  There was a bit of ripeness poking out as the tannins developed and the wine became savory with air.  The flavors became dry towards the finish with very fine minerals and tannins evident.  There was good perfume in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2019.

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Four Diverse Wines From Spain

February 27, 2014 Leave a comment

This quick post features four interesting and diverse Spanish wines.  The 2009 CUNE, Vina Real, Rioja is a great bargain in cellar-worthy wine.  The cinnamon spice flavor was particularly interesting.  Tasted over three nights this wine will undoubtedly age longer than I expect.   Completely opposite in flavor, the 2012 Ritme Celler, Ritme, Priorat offers ample flavors of sweet fruit and wood.  By sweet I do not mean residual sugar.  This generous wine exudes its warm origins and could use a few months to come together.  At that point you should pour away!  From very old vines the 2011 Raul Perez, Vico, Bierzo is in a subtle state right now.  The OLE website suggests this my age for 20 years and while I cannot predict that far ahead, I would certainly cellar it a year or two before trying.  Finally, the 2010 Bodegas Santa Marta, Viñaredo Sousón, Barrica Seleccion, Valdeorras is made from  Sousón.  This indigenous variety is not longer that popular so not much is produced.  In fact, this is the first time I am aware of drinking a wine made from it.   It leans towards black fruit flavors with plenty of acidity along with attractive texture and minerals.  Like the CUNE and Raul Perez this is best left in the cellar.  The Viñaredo was purchased at Despaña Vino y Mas and the rest at MacArthur Beverages.

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2009 CUNE, Vina Real, Rioja – $15
Imported by Europvin.  This wine is 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano, Garnacha and Mazuel which was aged for 12 months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was a little deep and meaty but remained tight with some scented ripe blue fruit and wood escaping.  There was acidity within the core of dense red and blue fruit.  The slightly tart middle made way to black fruit and minerals in the finish.  This was well-integrated, not firm but lithe with slightly salivating acidity.  It had an interesting cinnamon spice note.  This solid wine has moderate structure for the cellar.  **(*) 2016-2026.

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2012 Ritme Celler, Ritme, Priorat – $22
Imported by Steve Miles Selections.  This wine is a blend of 70% Carinyena and 30% Garnatxa which was aged for 10 months in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 15%.  In the mouth the wine was round and tart before sweet fruit came out.  The flavors were rather expansive with a wood note.  With air the ripe and tart fruit became defined by red and strawberry flavors.  The acidity came out playing a supportive role to the moderately-sized, ripe and sweet tannins.  This has some structure for age.  **(*) 2015-2022.

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2011 Raul Perez, Vico, Bierzo – $25
Imported by OLE Imports.  This wine is 100% Mencia sourced from vines planted in 1889 and 1924 which was aged for nine months in used French oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The high toned aromas of red fruit mixed with a little meat.  In the mouth the red fruit was firm with some blue fruit notes and plenty of acidity.  There was subtle ripeness and subtle weight.  With air it became a little juicy with ripe cranberry, red fruit flavors.  *** 2015-2020.

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2010 Bodegas Santa Marta, Viñaredo Sousón, Barrica Seleccion, Valdeorras – $40
Imported by Peninsula Wines.  This wine is 100% Sousón sourced from 35+ year old vines on slate soils which was aged for 6+ months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was floral with black fruit. In the mouth were tart red and black fruit flavors which became blacker and picked up mineral notes.  The tannins mixed in well with plenty of acidity.  This tangy wine had lots of texture, became a little savory, and picked up drying stone flavors.  *** 2016-2024.

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Wines From France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Serbia, and More!

February 26, 2014 Leave a comment

This post features a diverse selections of wines presented in order of preference.  The 2012 G.B. Burlotto, Verduno Pelaverga is interesting not just for its use of the ancient Verduno Pelaverga grape but also its lovely nose of white pepper and intriguing cinnamon note.  I can attest that I never had a wine from the Somontano DOC until I opened the 2011 Lamarca, Ojo de Liebre, Somontano.  It offers blue and black fruit with good structure and minerals at a very attractive price point.  The 2010 Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie, Corbieres should have broader appeal than the admittedly funky 2009 vintage that I recommended.  The recently arrived 2012 Famille Lancon a Solitude, Cotes du Rhone is a strong value with its red fruit and hints of earth.  You may drink it now but it would be interesting to see what it tastes like next year.

The 2012 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora is still a good wine at its price point but lacks the control of the previous vintage.  The 2010 Massaya, Classic, Bekaa Valley is another solid value but I still wait for another 2007 equivalent. The 2010 McPherson, Tre Colore, Texas was the second wine I have tasted from this estate.  If you have not drunk a Texan wine then this is worth the experience.    Finally, the 2007 Manousakis Winery, Nostos, Crete was strange and despite the attention, it was dumped.  The McPherson was purchased at Cordial Fine Wine and Spirits, I believe the Massaya was purchased at Total Wine and the remaining bottles from MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 G.B. Burlotto, Verduno Pelaverga – $19
Imported by Elite Wines Imports.  This wine is 100% Verduno Pelaverga.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There were fresh aromas of white pepper and general evocations of Cabernet Franc.  In the mouth were tart red flavors, pepper, and a drying nature.  The black and red fruit had very moderate grip, some lift, and a hint of dried green herbs.  The finish was minerally followed by an intriguing note of cinnamon and ripe fruit in the expansive aftertaste.  The flavors turned blacker with air.  *** Now-2019.

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2011 Lamarca, Ojo de Liebre, Somontano – $13
Imported by The Spanish Wine Importers. This wine is a blend of 80% Trempranillo and 20% Garnacha aged for 12 months in oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was of sweet, macerated berries and mulberry.  The wine developed structure with some extract which counterbalanced the slightly billowy flavors of blue and black fruit.  It had very fine tannins, black stones in the finish, and hints of graphite.  It became a little savory.  Nice wine.  *** Now-2019.

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2010 Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie, Corbieres – $16
Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault which were partially destemmed then co-fermented.  It was aged in tank.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was woodsy with Kirsch and raspberry aromas.  The mouth followed the nose and was quite approachable.  There was some funky ripe fruit, black minerals, and satisfying round tannins.  It became a softer wine with air, blacker with low-lying violets.  There was a good finish with firm tannins.  *** Now-2017.

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2012 Famille Lancon a Solitude, Cotes du Rhone – $13
Imported by Langdon Shiverick.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose bore delicate ripe aromas of fresh strawberry and cherry.  In the mouth were fresh red fruit and cherry that was roundish but had some solidity.  The fruit seamlessly mixed with  the acidity making way to a ripe and fresh strawberry finish.  There was a hint of citrus and a little earth with air.  Strong value.  ** Now-2017.

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2012 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora – $13
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Portuguiser.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was of ripe strawberries.  In the mouth were round, puffy flavors that were quite forward.  There was some tang to the wine and texture on the tongue.  The tart aftertaste  brought some cranberry-strawberry flavors and hints of minerals.  A tasty wine but a little too loose.  ** Now-2015.

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2010 Massaya, Classic, Bekaa Valley – $13
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cinsault, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were more berry and tooty-fruity flavors that had some freshness.  With air, there was a spicy bit with acidity on the front-middle of the tongue then black fruit with some minerals before a little grainy, macerated berry flavor came out.  A solid wine.  ** Now-2015.

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2010 McPherson, Tre Colore, Texas – $18
This wine is a blend of 62% Mourvedre, 27% Carignan, and 11% Viognier.  Alcohol 13.9%.  There were wafting aromas of macerated berries.  Billowy.  There was a riper start in the mouth with strawberry notes before the flavors became redder and riper.  It turned softer in the short finish.  There were no hard edges but could use more acidity for verve.  ** Now.

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2007 Manousakis Winery, Nostos, Crete – $18
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Roussanne.  Alcohol 14%.  There were tangy flavors  of red and black fruit.  The wine became citric and sharp towards the finish as the acidity became quite noticeable.  There were potpourri notes in the aftertaste.  On the second night the wine was woodsy and yeasty.  Strange.  * Now.

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“The wine mentioned…is on the ground floor of the Capitol” in Virginia

February 25, 2014 Leave a comment
Richmond, Va. Front view of Capitol. April-June 1865. Call No. LC-B811- 3360.  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Richmond, Va. Front view of Capitol. April-June 1865. Call No. LC-B811- 3360. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

On the morning of March 8, 1803, James Monroe noted in his letter to James Madison that he was to embark New York for Europe within an hour.[1]  James Monroe included with the letter a two-page list of items he left behind from which James Madison could pick what he wanted to purchase.  On April 9, 1803, Samuel Coleman wrote from Richmond to James Madison that he had finally weighed and repacked James Monroe’s plate, glassware, and porcelain for transport to Washington, DC.[2]  He noted that the plate was in the Treasury and “the other articles <are in?> my office in the Capitol.”  Samuel Coleman was Assistant Clerk to the Council of Virginia and worked with James Monroe when he was Governor of Virginia.[3]    The articles in Samuel Coleman’s office apparently included James Monroe’s wine of which James Madison had suggested how to dispose of them.[4]  While it seems natural for Samuel Coleman to work in the Capitol it came as a surprise to me that he would store wine there.

Samuel Coleman wrote later that month that of the six boxes of wine the “quality is excellent”.[5]  One box was to be a present for James Brown.  The remaining five boxes could be sent to Washington, DC, or sold.  However, Samuel Coleman felt “my information is so limited that I am really much at a loss what to do with it.”  Fearing that he could not sell the wine to the satisfaction of James Madison he kept them, ” in one of the lower rooms of the Capitol, well calculated to preserve it.”  The wine remained in the Virginia Capitol into the summer.  On June 27, 1803, Samuel Coleman wrote James Madison that, “The wine mentioned in the first is on the ground floor of the Capitol and of course in as cool a situation as can be procured for it.”[6]  Perhaps Samuel Coleman did not have his own wine cellar so the thick stone walls of the Capitol were the best defense against the Virginia heat.  There was no subterranean basement so the ground floor offices would have been the coolest location.

Virginia State Capitol, Bank and 10th Streets, Capitol Square, Richmond, Independent City, VA. Call No. HABS VA,44-RICH,9-.  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Virginia State Capitol, Bank and 10th Streets, Capitol Square, Richmond, Independent City, VA. Call No. HABS VA,44-RICH,9-. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

What types of wine were in James Monroe’s six cases is not yet known.  The only documentation of the most prior wine order concerns some 22 or 23 dozen bottles of Madeira from late 1800.[7] Samuel Coleman wrote on June 27, 1803, that he had been unable to transport the wine to Georgetown nor had he been able to dispose of it in Richmond.  It appears that he eventually disposed of the wine for his letter to James Madison on October 26, 1803, makes no reference to the wine.[8]  It appears the wine never made it to James Madison for his correspondence for the rest of the year mostly concerns several dozen bottles of Bordeaux [9] and a pipe of Brazil Madeira wine.[10]  What happened to James Monroe’s six cases of wine and what those cases contained remains a mystery!


[1] “To James Madison from James Monroe, 7 March 1803,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-04-02-0469, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 4, 8 October 1802 – 15 May 1803, ed. Mary A. Hackett, J. C. A. Stagg, Jeanne Kerr Cross, Susan Holbrook Perdue, and Ellen J. Barber. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1998, pp. 395–397.
[2]“To James Madison from Samuel Coleman, 9 April 1803,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-04-02-0600, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 4, 8 October 1802 – 15 May 1803, ed. Mary A. Hackett, J. C. A. Stagg, Jeanne Kerr Cross, Susan Holbrook Perdue, and Ellen J. Barber. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1998, pp. 496–497.
[3]“To James Madison from Samuel Coleman, 26 October 1803,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-05-02-0584, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 5, 16 May–31 October 1803, ed. David B. Mattern, J. C. A. Stagg, Ellen J. Barber, Anne Mandeville Colony, and Bradley J. Daigle. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000, pp. 577–578.
[4]“From James Madison to Samuel Coleman, 4 May 1803,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-04-02-0679, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 4, 8 October 1802 – 15 May 1803, ed. Mary A. Hackett, J. C. A. Stagg, Jeanne Kerr Cross, Susan Holbrook Perdue, and Ellen J. Barber. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1998, p. 573.
[5]“To James Madison from Samuel Coleman, 24 May 1803,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-05-02-0036, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 5, 16 May–31 October 1803, ed. David B. Mattern, J. C. A. Stagg, Ellen J. Barber, Anne Mandeville Colony, and Bradley J. Daigle. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000, p. 30.
[6]“To James Madison from Samuel Coleman, 27 June 1803,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-05-02-0150, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 5, 16 May–31 October 1803, ed. David B. Mattern, J. C. A. Stagg, Ellen J. Barber, Anne Mandeville Colony, and Bradley J. Daigle. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000, pp. 125–126.
[7]“From James Madison to James Monroe, 7 November 1800,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-17-02-0280, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, vol. 17, 31 March 1797–3 March 1801 and supplement 22 January 1778–9 August 1795, ed. David B. Mattern, J. C. A. Stagg, Jeanne K. Cross, and Susan Holbrook Perdue. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991, p. 432.
[8]“To James Madison from Samuel Coleman, 26 October 1803,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-05-02-0584, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 5, 16 May–31 October 1803, ed. David B. Mattern, J. C. A. Stagg, Ellen J. Barber, Anne Mandeville Colony, and Bradley J. Daigle. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000, pp. 577–578.
[9]“From James Madison to William Lee, 6 April 1803,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-04-02-0587, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 4, 8 October 1802 – 15 May 1803, ed. Mary A. Hackett, J. C. A. Stagg, Jeanne Kerr Cross, Susan Holbrook Perdue, and Ellen J. Barber. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1998, pp. 485–486.
[10]“From James Madison to Thomas Newton, Jr., 5 [August] 1803,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/02-05-02-0296, ver. 2014-02-12). Source: The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, vol. 5, 16 May–31 October 1803, ed. David B. Mattern, J. C. A. Stagg, Ellen J. Barber, Anne Mandeville Colony, and Bradley J. Daigle. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000, pp. 280–281.

An Excellent Spanish Wine Made From 60-200 Year Old Espadeiro Vines

February 24, 2014 Leave a comment

My posts are a bit shorter than usual these days.  It is not that I am drinking boring wine or have nothing to write about but that I am spending a significant amount of time researching into minute details for an engaging post.  This research not only involves my time but that of other institutions and a private individual.  I continue to taste a variety of wines and today’s feature is worth looking for.  This bottle of 2011 Lagar de Costa, Viva La Vid-a was selected by Zach at Despana Vino y Mas.  This vintage represents the first release of this wine made from very old-vine Espadeiro.  This variety is typically found in Portugal but there is also some planted in Spain.  The nose on this bottle was outstanding and quite satisfying all on its own being a balance of earthy aromas and berries.  The flavors in the mouth were not quite as generous, I suspect this needs six months to one year in the cellar to open up.  It appears that Lagar de Costa only produced 50 cases of this vintage so you might want to grab some while you can.   Not only well-done but unique.  This wine was purchased at Despana Vino y Mas.

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2011 Lagar de Costa, Viva La Vid-a – $32
Imported by T Edward Wines.  This wine is 100% Espadeiro sourced from vines 30-200 years of age on soils of granite.  It was 50% whole cluster fermented with indigenous yeasts in French oak barrels then aged for 8 months.  Alcohol 11.5%.  The nose was aromatic with earthy berries.  The mouth followed the nose with expansive flavors which were lighter in body.  There were more tart red cherry fruit, a little strawberry ripeness, and a little black fruit towards the finish.  There was a lot of acidity and citrus components.  With air flavors of dried herbs came out.  There was vibrant texture on the tongue and cheeks, leaving wood tannins and earth impressions.  **** for the nose, overall ***(*) Now-2018.

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The Wine Love: Two Wines From Gonzalo Gonzalo and Mar Mota

February 20, 2014 Leave a comment

During my last trip to New York I picked up a case of wine put together by Zach Moss of Despaña Vinos y Mas.  Several of Zach’s selections were produced by The Wine Love, a collaboration between Gonzalo Gonzalo and Mar Mota.  Both Gonzalo Gonzalo and Mar Mota studied at the University of La Rioja with respective family backgrounds in grape growing and cooperage.  Their biodynamic wines are produced using fruit from Rioja which is minimally handled and sees minimal sulphur.  In this post I feature the White Yeti and Gran Cerdo.  The White Yeti possess a nose of lovely white floral fruit which persisted without decay.  In the mouth it offered up stones and a pleasing hint of lemon.  This held up well to several days in the refrigerator so it is a great candidate for a daily glass.  The Gran Cerdo is appealing not only for the flying hog graphic but also for its grapey aromas, flavors, and tannins.   It is a bottle to drink in one night so why not treat your friends to a different expression of Rioja? These wines are available at Despaña Vino y Mas.

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2012 The Wine Love, White Yeti – $21
A Critical Mass Selection imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  This wine is 100% Viura which was fermented in stainless steel.  Alcohol 13%.  There was crisp white fruit to start following by delicate white floral fruit.  The wine takes on roundness with ample flavors of stone that mix with a hint of lemon.  *** Now-2016.

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2011 The Wine Love, Gran Cerdo – $16
A Critical Mass Selection imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  This wine is mostly Tempranillo with perhaps some Graciano.  The fruit is whole cluster fermented in underground cement tanks where it takes one year to undergo malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol 13%.  The color is a medium purple grapey color with a scented nose of grapey aromas that has both berries and natural notes.  In the mouth there was brighter red fruit with grapey tannins, not too much acidity, and some tannins in the aftertaste.  There were pepper notes to the grapey flavors that became drier towards the end.  It had good ripeness and weight despite its lightness.  An attractive wine for drinking now.  *** Now-2015.

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A Pair of Greek Wines For Now and Later

February 19, 2014 Leave a comment

This post features two radically different examples of Xinomavro both of which you should try.  This third vintage of 2012 Thymiopoulus Vineyards, Xinomavro Young Vines that we tasted continues to provide satisfaction from the first glass.   I might give an edge to the 2010 vintage but this still deserves to be a part of your daily rotation.  The 2009 Kir-Yianni Estate, Xinomavro, Ramnista has the potential to be really good in several years time.  There is an earthy component in the nose and in the mouth which I was strongly attracted to.  However, this wine is very young right now.  I took my tasting note on the third day but continued to follow the wine for two more days!  I would taste this again in a few years to see how it is evolving.   These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Thymiopoulus Vineyards, Xinomavro Young Vines, Naoussa – $15
Imported by Athenne Importers & Distributors.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a good nose of fresh and ripe strawberries.  In the mouth were red and black fruit, pleasing tannins, and an exotic floral flavor.  It had a grapey structure and a little upfront weight to the fresh and ripe fruit.  Nice.  ** Now-2017.

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2009 Kir-Yianni Estate, Xinomavro, Ramnista, Naoussa – $22
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is 100% Xinomavro sourced from selected blocks on lighter soils.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a beautiful, earthy nose but in the mouth the flavors were dialed down tight.  There were blacker fruit, a hint of earth, and some very fine drying tannins.  The wine turned tart with graphite in the finish.  Definitely interesting but really needs time.  **(*) 2016-2026.

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