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Clos Cibonne Cuvee Speciale Tibouren

Clos Cibonne Cuvee Speciale Tibouren

We’re so excited to share the Clos Cibonne Cotes de Provence red with you, as this is one of our favorite wines for late summer and early fall! Clos Cibonne is a winery located in the town of Le Pradet, in southern Provence close to Bandol. The rare local grape that is grown here on clay and schist soils is called Tibouren. Tibouren is a sweet little grape that produces fascinating wines. In fact, the grape is so special that Clos Cibonne has special permission from the A.O.C. to put the name of the grape on their label in addition to the A.O.C. designation, which is Cotes de Provence. We’ve heard a rumor that the Tibouren grape is related to the light Ligurian red rossese (used in the Dolceacqua DOC wines), but Clos Cibonne winemaker Andre flatly denies it, partially because he has “never heard of Liguria.”

All of their grapes are grown organically, though the winery is not certified organic. They employ huge 100 year old “foudres” (giant 5,000L wooden barrels) that don’t give an oaky flavor to the wines, but instead allow them to breath through the wood.

Rather than being intense or big and heavy like many southern Provence reds, this red has a refreshing acidity and balance that make it an easy sipper. Partially because the Tibouren grape is thin-skinned and sweet and partially due to the situation of their vines, the Clos Cibonne wines never taste baked or overripe. Vaguely spicy and herbal aromas are mixed with red fruit scents. On the palate this wine has just enough tannin to keep it brisk, but with a nice juicy berry fruit and a silky mouthfeel. Basically, we love this wine for its easy drinkability. The Clos Cibonne Cuvee Speciale red with a slight chill and a plate of brandade or a salty anchoïade and a crusty baguette make for a perfectly light end of summer meal.

Julie Cappellano is the General Manager and Wine Buyer at Formaggio Kitchen South End, Boston.

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Clos de l'Origins Soif de Plaisir 2011

Clot de l’Origins Soif de Plaisir 2011

Southwest of the Languedoc lies Roussillon, a region that has too often been reduced to mere suffix. Roussillon stretches from the river Aude in the north to the border of Catalonia in the South. In the West, the snow-capped Pyrenées rise above 2500m in places, with the jagged peaks of Pic du Canigou at 2,786m (9.140ft) above sea level. A sharp descent eastward brings you to back to the stifling heat of the Mediterranean coastline, where Vin Doux Naturels reign supreme. Roussillon is primarily known for these wines, which are made from partially-fermented grape juice that is fortified with alcohol before it fully becomes wine. Made from the most common regional varietal, Grenache (whether is be Noir, Gris, or Blanc) , these aperitif “wines” benefit from early ripening fruit in some of the hottest, driest vineyards in all of France. Overall Roussillon produces 90% of all French Vin Doux Naturel, the most famous of which is Banyuls, made in the southeasternmost corner of the region. In Banyuls-sur-Mer, Grenache grapes are grown on steeply-terraced schist slopes, allowed to shrivel on the vine, fermented, fortified, and aged in barrel for years at a time at which point they can achieve a depth comparable to vintage port.

The extremes of the Roussillon climate have long posed challenges for winemakers, and abundant sunshine and high temperatures have caused some natural producers to revert to old practices. Whole cluster fermentation, in which the the grapes are left with their stems during the fermentation process, combats over-ripeness and high acidity by adding a greener, fresher element to the wines. Particularly in Burgundy, where the conditions are more temperate, whole cluster fermentation has been frowned upon as being rustic and imprecise, but it has been a very useful tool for some Roussillon winemakers. Today, more and more quality red wines come from the Côtes du Roussillon-Villages appellation, where producers benefit from the distinctive black schist of the upper Agly Valley. With a focus on low yields and traditional methods of production, local winemakers have produced stunning results.

Over ten years ago, Marc Barriot fell in love with winemaking and began a journey that ultimately brought him to the Roussillon. Barriot trained at a college in Beaujolais and traveled to vineyards throughout Australia and the United States before making natural wines at a Château in Bandol, Provence. There, he was captivated by natural practices and committed himself to founding his own sustainable vineyard with terroir-driven wines using regional varietals. Barriot’s Clot de l’Origine is a collection of small parcel vineyards across five communes around Maury, in the upper Agly Valley. Practicing biodynamic since 2004 and certified organic since 2009, Barriot grows seven regional varietals (primarily Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan) and ferments them separately in whole cluster. All of the work is done by hand (harvesting, pruning, bottling, etc.) except for the steepest terraces that require a mule. Filtration is rarely used, sulfites are never added, and the results are captivating.

Soif de Plaisir, or “Thirst for Pleasure” as it is literally translated, is quite aptly named. Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah provide a high-toned, slightly funky bouquet that is distinct to natural wines. This wine is full-bodied and rich with voluptuous black currant and cherry fruit. Whole cluster fermentation yields a mouthfeel that is silken and seductive and notes of cloves and nutmeg add a depth of spice redolent of a hearty Côtes-du-Rhône. Soif de Plaisir is perfect for a chilly autumn evening with roasted squab or braised duck in red wine, root vegetables, and baked apples.

 

Rory Stamp is a classroom instructor, Wine Buyer, and cheese monger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

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Pascal Pibaleau Rosé

Pascal Pibaleau Rosé

Close to the town of Tours in the heart of the Loire Valley, Domaine Pibaleau sits nestled between two of the region’s historic Châteaux: Azay-le-Rideau and Langeais. The 12 hectare Domaine Pibaleau has been family owned and operated since 1886. Here Chenin Blanc, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Grolleau are grown on organically farmed sandy-clay soil near the banks of the river L’Indre. Domaine Pibaleau has organic certification, and they work according to biodynamic principles.

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Vinho Verde: Dom Diogo Padeiro from Quinta da Raza

Dom Diogo Padeiro from Quinta da Raza

Even though it’s designated as a “Vinho Verde”, the Dom Diogo Padeiro from Quinta da Raza is not green or even white – it’s pink!

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The Sintra Coastline

The Sintra coastline

Like everything born of Sintra, the Arenae Colares Malvasia is of and from the sea.

I had the good fortune to spend several weeks last summer exploring Lisbon and its surrounding environs, including an unforgettable day in Sintra, guided by two friends of mine who grew up there.

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Mottura Vineyard

Porcupine’s eye view of the Mottura Vineyard

This past April the Formaggio Wine Team took a pleasant trip to visit Sergio Mottura’s estate on our way to VinItaly 2014. We flew into Rome’s Fiumicino airport early in the morning and drove north-east towards Umbria. We eventually split off from the crazy A1 autostrada onto small, one-lane roads. Just along the northern border of Lazio we reached the medieval hamlet of Civitella d’Agliano, and the home, hotel and cantina of the Mottura family.

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Farmers Jane Field Blend WhiteIn celebration of Independence Day weekend, we’re featuring one delicious American wine. The Farmers Jane project is run by friends and wine lovers Angela and Faith in southern California. This tasty white is made from grapes purchased from a Santa Ynez valley vineyard belonging to the Native American Chamush tribe. In this vineyard Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussane grow together, and the grapes are harvested, pressed and fermented all together at the same time, old-school style. (more…)

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