This weekend’s Greenwich Wine Store Roundup features some really tasty items from a number of different countries and wine regions. We go from the Rhône River in France, to the Douro & Alentejo regions of Portugal, via southeastern Sicily, to end up in Wurttemberg, in southeastern Germany.
Wine Wise is featuring two wines from the collaborative venture of Michel Chapoutier and Anne-Sophie Pic: their 2018 Côtes-du-Rhône red (about $25) and their 2018 St.-Péray white (about $38). The Côtes-du-Rhône is a classic: juicy, with combinations of dark and red fruit that always put a smile on my face. The St.-Péray is one of those “back-to-the-future” dealios; St.-Péray is an all-white-wine appellation, famous back to Roman times (Pliny refers to it) and the first wine Napoléon ever tasted as a Cadet of the Valence Military Academy. Recently, it has received new infusions of capital, and become a stealth favorite of many wine drinkers in the United States.
Michel Chapoutier is the scion of perhaps the most famous wine family on the Rhône. He was the first winemaker to include Braille on his labels when he heard his friend, the Singer Gilbert Montagné, mention on a talk show that he wished he could read the bottles in a wine shop.
Anne-Sophie Pic may be the more ascendant personality, however. Only the fourth woman ever to earn 3 Michelin stars, and named the best Chef in the world 10 years ago, Pic is the Owner/Chef at Maison Pic, founded in 1889 in Valence, on the Rhône River. Heiress to one of the most illustrious names in French culinary history, Pic took over her family’s restaurant in 1997, and – like her father before her – regained the 3 stars that the restaurant had lost before she came on. Including her Grandfather’s original 3 stars, that means the restaurant has won 3 stars three times over!
POST WINE & SPIRITS
At Post Wine & Spirits, Randy is featuring two wines from Portugal. The first, the Crasto Douro Tinto 2017 (about $17), is from one of the most famous Port-producing houses, Quinta do Crasto. Port is no longer as appreciated as it used to be (one of the saddest state of affairs in the world of wine), so many of these houses are turning out dry wines from the classic indigenous grapes of Portugal, including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, and Tinta Cao.
The second wine is from the more arid region east & southeast of Lisbon, the Alentejo. It is the 2017 “Jose de Sousa” bottling by José Maria de Fonseca (about $20). Fonseca is not related to the famous Port House Fonseca-Guimaraens, but its history goes back almost as far. The Alentejo has already been on the scene in the U.S. for some time, but it is a region where great wine values have not yet gone out of style.
OLD GREENWICH WINE MERCHANTS
OGWM is featuring two wines from Cantine Pepi, a winery that is located along the Dirillo River, in a section of Sicily that is less known to tourists: the southeastern point of the “triangle” that the island makes on a map.
Cantine Pepi is all about Nero d’Avola, which is more than 50% of their crop. Another 20-30% or so is the lip-smacking Frappato. Lesser percentages are devoted to Syrah, Grillo, and Insoglia, the last two being delicious white varieties from Sicily.
What endears me most to this winery is that they publish an hour-by-hour breakdown on their website of their activities in the vineyard and in the winery (http://www.cantinepepi.it/en/production). So you can learn how the wine is made, or at least how they make it. It’s like the old movies in history class: “You Were There!”
The Cantine Pepi “Ex” (about $22) is a full-bodied red with dark fruit character and a long finish. The Game (pronounced GAH – may) (about $19) is a fresh white, with citrus and floral notes.
GLENVILLE WINE & SPIRITS
Christian Dautel is the winemaker behind the 2019 Dautel Weissburgunder (about $22). Weingut (Winery) Dautel is located in the 1,230-year old town of Bönnigheim, due east of Karlsruhe and north of Stuttgart. Bönnigheim is also the home of the Swabian Brandy (Schnapps) Museum. Note to self: put Bönnigheim on my list to visit next time I go to Germany!
Weissburgunder is known as Pinot Blanc in its French incarnation, and has long been a wine with noticeable honey notes – but it is dry! – that make it an extraordinary pairing with the signature dishes of France’s Alsace region (just a few miles west, over the Rhine River). The version made by Dautel is ultra-fresh, with subtle green apple flavors and snappy acidity. It has been the hit of early Spring so far at Glenville W&S.
François Steichen founded and owns Frenchy’s Wine Road, a Connecticut company that writescopy and content for the wine, spirits and cider industries.
He is a resident of Old Greenwich with 15 years’ experience in the Wine Industry. François started at Harry’s Wines in Fairfield; worked at Acker, Merrall and Condit, in New York, the oldest wine store in America; and has managed stores in Greenwich.
François holds the WSET Diploma, the gold standard in wine education. At 10 years of age, François took his first – chaperoned – sip of a sparkling wine. Since that moment, the magic of fermentation and spontaneously-produced bubbles has never truly relinquished its hold on his curiosity.