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November Wines of the Month 2021

November 14, 2021

November Wines of the Month 2021

Is it November already? Hard to believe another holiday season is already (almost) upon us, but we are especially excited for this one. After 2020’s necessarily smaller and more low-key gatherings, we are very thankful for the opportunity to share a meal and raise a glass with loved ones in more regular circumstances.  And Thanksgiving is truly a wine lover’s time to shine; though some of the traditional elements of the meal are quite specific (turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce aren’t on a lot of menus the rest of the year),  there are so many different possible preparations that the pairing options are almost endless. It is difficult make a bad wine choice for Thanksgiving, and a thoughtful one is a relatively easy and stress free way to contribute to the celebration. Our selections this month - a Frappato from Sicily and a Burgundnian Aligoté - are two undersung  but intriguing varietals that, in the hands of two expert winemakers, complement a wide array of plates, fish, fowl or vegetable, and are vital and appealing on their own as well. They will make great additions to any holiday table, so feel free to save them for December if you’d like. Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appetit! 


Sicily is one of the one of the biggest wine success stories of the past twenty years and small wonder. The largest island in the Medditeranean, it boasts  approximately 135,000 hectares of vineyards – more than in all of Bordeaux - a winemaking tradition some 2500 years old, and an alphabet (from Acitana to Zibibbo) of native varietals thriving in near ideal viticultural conditons. The classic Mediterranean climate, lots of consistently bright sunshine, and reliably moderate rainfall allows for a long three month harvest season, beginning in the August heat of Trapani on the west coast and ending on the snow-crowned slopes of  Mt. Etna in mid-November.  And while Etna’s active volcanic drama tends to get the most attention,  some of the island’s best reds come from the mostly flat, arid and  less picturesque Vittoria, in the Southeast. Ceruosola di Vittoria, the island’s only DOCG status wine is produced here, from two indigenious grapes, Nero D’Avola and Frappato, both of which make for distinguished mono-varietal bottlings on their own. While Nero D”Avola is full, dark and tannic, Frappato is lithe, fresh and, due to its vibrant acidity and ripe red fruit, very versatile with food. Valle Dell’ Acante is one of the best producers in the area - it’s hard to find a better Frappato - and the classically peppery and aromatic 2019 bottling is characteristically excellent. 


Like Frappato, Aligoté has sometimes been an afterthought in its native land. A centuries-old hybrid of Pinot Noir and the very rare Gouais Blanc, it is the other white grape of Burgundy,  forever failing to be Chardonnay. Prior to the late 19th century phylloxera plague that killed most of Burgundy’s grape vines, Aligoté was widely planted and enjoyed; following replanting and the introduction of American rootstock, it was relegated to the least prized soils in favor of the less high maitenance (and more profitable) Chardonnay. When Burgundy’s appellation system was set up in 1936, Aligoté was considered so unable to express the characteristics of a particular place that every bottle was slapped with the generic label “Bourgogne Aligoté.” Today Aligoté still only accounts for 6% of Burgundian wine production, but many of the best  local vignerons are showing that if you treat Aligoté right - give it some hillside exposure on limestone soils -  it will yield delicious wine that pairs wonderfully with a variety of dishes. There are two areas of Burgundy responsible for the best Aligoté: Bouzeron, a village in Cote Chalonaisse, just south of the  famous Cote D’Or, which in 1998 became the only AOC devoted solely to the grape; and the area surrounding the prestigious Morey St. Denis appellation in the Cotes de Nuits. Our selection this month comes from Domaine Castagnier, in the latter region, from vines planted in 1925 on rocky limestone soils. It situates Aligoté’s signature minerally acidity within a remarkably deep and supple texture that will harmonize beautifully with whatever Thanksgiving tradition it accompanies.


We are very thankful for all of our club members, and we hope you enjoy your holiday,

The PlumpJack Wine Team 


Valle Dell’ Acante il Frappato di Vittoria 2019

Region / Country of Origin: Vittoria DOC, Sicily, Italy

About the winemaker:   Founded by Giuseppe Jacono in 1800s, Valle dell’ Acate is in the south east corner of Sicily in the province of Ragusa. Since the founding of the estate, six generations of this family of vignerons have toiled in the Dirillo valley. In 2000, Gaetana Jacono got her degree in pharmacy, but she abandoned her career to join the family winery. Gaetana is unquestionably a force: an outspoken advocate for her native vines.  In 2013 she was elected the brand ambassador for the wines of Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a role she takes very seriously. Valle dell’ Acate is world-renowned for making high quality Sicilian wines of incredible elegance and a very special sense of place. Today the estate has about 80 hectares of organically cultivated vineyards planted to mostly Frappato and Nero d’Avola, with also Grillo and Chardonnay. The vineyards are between Acate, Comiso and Vittoria in the historical “Classico” district for Cerasuolo, which was one of the first Sicilian red wines to earn DOC status in 1973.

About the Winemaking: From 10-20 year old vines planted in black soils with white stones. Spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts happens in stainless steel. Maceration lasts about a week, and aging in steel lasts 6 months. 1995 was the first year of production. 6000 cases are produced on average per year. Certified organic from the 2018 vintage.

Tasting Notes:  Bright translucent ruby with purple hints. Pretty floral aromas of raspberry, red cherry, rose, fresh herbs. Explosive juicy red berry fruit. The delicate red fruit flavors continue on the palate with lovely texture and depth to its impressions of red fruit. All this aroma is supported by a zesty acidity.

Winemaker: Gaetana Jacobo

Price: $25 bottle/$270 case

Suggested Food Pairing:  Thanksgiving fare of course but Frappato also goes well with fresh and aged cheeses, salamis and fish dishes with tomatoes or tomato sauce. 









Domaine Castagnier Bourgogne Aligoté 2018

Region / Country of Origin: Burgundy, France 

About the Winemaker: Jérôme Castagnier has been at the helm of Domaine Castagnier since his father’s retirement in 2005; he represents the fifth generation to run the family winery. Today, he owns four hectares total, and exceptionally, he makes four grand cru from two hectares in some of the most sought-after vineyards. Castagnier owns vines in Clos de la Roche, Clos Saint Denis, Charmes-Chambertin and 27 rows together in the Clos de Vougeot, just across the road from the Echezeaux of Romanee-Conti. 

 About the winemaking: Biodynamic practices employed in the vineyard, but no certification. Ambient yeast is allowed during fermentation with juice macerating in stainless steel tanks before aging 14-15 months with 2/3 in stainless steel and 1/3 in neutral barrels. No fining or filtration prior to bottling. Aging The wine receives 14-15 months in a combination of stainless steel and older barrels.

Tasting Notes: Pale lemon color with a  floral, citrus and mineral nose. The palate foregrounds ripe citrus with a round mouthfeel and a long, chalky finish.

Winemaker: JérômeCastagnier

Price: $25 bottle/ $270 case

Suggested Food Pairing: 

Turkey and poultry dishes,

Mashed potatoes and stuffing

Roast vegetables 

Fish dishes with cream sauce

 

TWO REDS:

Normally those of you who get 2 reds get 2 of the same, but this month we found another hidden gem that was only available in a small quantity that we wanted to share with you as well. The second red also falls into theme of being a truly unique and food friendly wine for the holiday season. 

Like Frappato, Mollard is a food friendly grape that thrives in its native habitat. A thin-skinned, late-ripening red varietal perfectly suited to alpine terroir, it was once widely planted in the tiny Hautes-Alpes region of Southeastern France, home of the highest vineyards in the French Alps. Phylloxera and a focus on more commercial grapes reduced plantings from 300 hectares in 1958 to less than 30 today. Mollard might be completely extinct without the efforts of Haut-Alpes native and 2nd generation vigneron Marc Allemand and his family. Starting in the early 1990s Marc embarked on a joint project with the French Vine Institute to study and preserve the grape (which Allemand calls “my second wife”), culminating in Mollard’s official inclusion in the registry of French wine grapes in 2005. Domaine Allemand now possesses the only rootstock nursery vineyard from which all from which all new certified plants of Mollard originate. It seems safe to say that Marc’s old vine, single varietal bottling is definitiveeven if it is the only Mollard any of us have ever had. We can confirm it is delicious, lush and silky, with great aromatic complexity and a gently spicy palate of red fruit and mineral earth. You also might be seeing more of it in the years to come; there are rumors of an old vine Mollard vineyard somewhere in Sonoma, as well as some more recent local plantings.

 

Domaine Allemand Le Théüsien Rouge 2020

Region / Country of Origin: Hauts-Alpes, France 

About the Winemaker: Following a military posting in Champagne, Louis Allemand settled in the Hautes-Alps region in 1954 with the intention of becoming a vintner. He was the very first in the area to devote himself entirely to viticulture and focus on the quality of his grapes and his wines. In 1964, his wife Marcelle opened the region’s first tasting cellar. Their son Marc took over in 1984, and became the first  local winemaker to obtain the Vin De Pays label for his wine. His daughter Laetitia spent 15 years working as a journalist in Paris before returning to succeed her father at the helm of the estate where she spent her entire childhood.  

About the winemaking: Vineyards around 2,000 feet high. Very stony limestone clay soil and optimum sunshine exposure. Organically farmed from  50+ years old vines. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks then aging in used barrels. 100% Mollard.

Tasting Notes: Deep and intense, magnificently brilliant and limpid with violet gleams.Magnificent structure, with silky tannins. Superb balance and architecture with aromas of cranberry and grenadine, and a slightly smoky, liquorice finish. 

Winemaker: Marc & Laetitia Allemand 

Price: $24 btl/ $259.20 case

Suggested Food Pairing: 

Thanksgiving hams, 

sausage or mature cheeses from the Queyras region, Stuffing with mushrooms




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