Planet Wine: Articles

Island Holiday in a Bottle: More Greek Wine Discoveries

Greek wine transports me back to my trips to Greece’s many beautiful spots from Athens to the Islands. I think that’s why I love them! So it’s very exciting to see Greek wine showing up in wine stores and restaurants more and more.

Planet Wine, my local wine shop in Alexandria, is putting a full Greek section together as Tim, the manager, is a big Greek wine fan. This Wine Wednesday tasting he shared seven wines…

  • Tselepos Amalia Brut
  • Tselepos Moschofilero 2011, $11: Dry white wine made from the Moschofilero grape, it has a white floral aroma and crisp taste.
  • Gavalas Santorini 2011
  • Tetramythos Roditis 2011, $11: This Roditis grape variety produces a full body white wine with green apple notes.
  • Tselepos Agiorgitiko 2011, $11: This is a nice simple red wine made from the Agiorgitiko grape.
  • Foundi Naoussaia, $15: Xinomavro is the grape variety making a wine similar to Pinot Noir. From Northwest Greece.
  • Aivalis Family Vineyards Nemea, $19: Also made with 100% Agiorgitiko, this wine was more complex with smokey,  herbal and strawberry notes.

It’s crazy the number of unique grape varieties found in Greece. It was neat to taste whites and reds together…all acidic in different levels and different bodies. I liked all the wines but here were the two standouts…

  • Variety: 95% Assyrtiko, 5% Aidani
  • Aroma: Citrus and pear
  • Taste: Crisp pear and lemon
  • Price: $16
  • My thoughts: I loved discovering Santorini wines when we visited the island. The grapes are grown in the unique cylindrical bushes close to the ground. The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard considered to be the oldest in Greece, it has never been affected by the Phylloxera disease, and the grapes are grown on original stock. Most Santorini Assyrtiko wines I’ve had are very minerally from the volcanic soil but this had more crisp acidity.

Tselepos Amalia Brut

  • Variety: 100% Moschofilero
  • Aroma: Honey and brioche
  • Taste: Crisp citrus and honey
  • Price: $24
  • My thoughts: This was my first time having a Greek sparkling wine. Very nice! It’s made in the traditional Champagne method.

I’ve made great Greek wine discoveries in the last month with more coming at the Wine Bloggers Conference in August brought by New Wines of Greece. They are a great resource for more information.

Order a glass or pick up a bottle and let me know what you think.


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Sweet Easter Wine

Out biking Saturday, we popped into two of our local wine shops, both doing Easter Wine Pairing tastings.

Second stop was Planet Wine Shop…they were tasting a French Vouvray, Argentinian Sparkling Malbec Rose, Rioja Rose, Oregon Pinot Noir, Cotes-du-Rhone and French Muscat.

Our favorite and we picked up a bottle for dessert…

Château De Caladroy Muscat De Rivesaltes 2010

  • Varietal: Muscat de Alexandrie : 70%, Muscat petit grain : 30%
  • Aroma: Fragrant gardenias
  • Taste: Gardenia and tropical fruit
  • Price: $12
  • My Thoughts: Gardenia and tropical fruiI’m usually not a Muscat or sweet wine fan but boy is this delicious! Not too syrupy sweet, it was an easy to drink perfect aperitif/dessert wine after Easter dinner. This wine is made in the Pyrenean foothills near Spain and named after the French Mediterranean town Rivesaltes, where fortified wine has been made since the 13th century using the same technique that created Port 400 years later.

Cheers to my kind of Easter candy!

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Wine Discoveries: Not Your Typical Italian Wines

Planet Wine, one of my neighborhood wine shops in Alexandria, Virginia, started Wednesday evening wine tastings, in addition to their usual Saturdays. I noticed on Twitter, Siema Wines, a local importer/distributor I like, was going to be featured on Wednesday so I stopped by for what turned out to be a tasting of fun and different Italian discoveries.

La Cappuccina San Brizio Soave

The Tessari family has been growing grapes at La Cappuccina, the site of an ancient chapel of Franciscan friars, for over a century. The vineyards, which surround the family villa, are locaed at Cosalunga, in the Soave DOC production area of Verona in northern Italy. La Cappuccina is a certified organic wine estate.

  • Grape Variety: 100% Garganega
  • Aroma: Sparkling lemon
  • Taste: Creamy lemon curd with touch of spice
  • Price: $12.99
  • My thoughts: Gorgeous golden color. Not your typical Soave wine…it is still lemony and grassy but also has a spice (due to 7-8 months in barrique barrels), richness and weight to it. As Timothy said at Planet Wine, “This is a good white for red wine lovers.” Bought a bottle of this and enjoying a glass now. :)
From the same winery as above. Madégo, the name of the vineyard from which this wine comes, is the word in the local dialect for the second harvest of the alfalfa that was once grown on this plot of land.
  • Grape Variety: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc
  • Aroma: Herbal, berry
  • Taste: Raspberry, cedar, clove and cinnamon
  • Price: $11.99
  • My thoughts: This combination of grape varietals is a class Bordeaux combo wine yet this is from northern Italy. Extremely unique wine in Italy…French yet Italian!

The Kaltern estate sits in one of the most beautiful corners of the Dolomites, overlooking Caldaro Lake, in the Alto Adige region of northern Italy. There are 400 tiny growers who are the members of this winery and some of the parcels of land are as small as 1/4 acre. The patchwork of vineyards form a design that is breathtaking.

  • Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Nero (the name for Pinot Noir in Italian OR Blauburgunder, the name for Pinot Noir in Austrian)
  • Aroma: Berry
  • Taste: Strawberry and cranberry
  • Price: $15.99
  • My thoughts: It’s a light bodied Pinot Noir yet long on the finish. You don’t typically find a Pinot Noir grape in Italy. And this one is so far north in Italy, close to the Austrian border, they also use the Austrian grape name.
This is a UNIQUE wine!! Lacrima di Morro d’Alba is the smallest DOC (Italian designated wine region) in Italy. Name meaning “the tears of the Moors from Alba.” The story goes that this tear drop shaped grape starts to ‘tear’ from the top when its ripe…thus the name.
  • Grape Variety: 100% Lacrima
  • Aroma: Smells just like a Cru Beaujolais, the French wine, with strawberry and spice
  • Taste: Fragrant floral, strawberry, herbal, nice tannin/weight in the mouth feel of the wine
  • Price: $17.99
  • My thoughts: This is another extremely unique wine in Italy…French yet Italian! Brought home a bottle of this as I’m a Cru Beaujolais fan.

Cheers to new wine discoveries from Italy! Thank you Planet Wine & Siema Wines!

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