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2 Easter Wines That Out-Do Them All


The best part about Easter is that no matter when it actually falls on the calendar, it beckons and embraces Spring. It is a time to open the windows, set your table with bright colors, and pull the gang out of hibernation for a festive get-together. The wines you choose, naturally, must rise to this occasion; they must meet their match and over-deliver on the fresh and delight-ing scale! If you choose to serve the "traditional" Easter Ham, leg of Lamb, Sunday brunch, or none of the above - we have the answer for both a red and white selection. In fact, these two slam-dunk wines out do them all - and not just on a 'normal' assessment scale either (read: bouquet, flavor, and texture). Oh, no. The best part is that these wines are virtually unknown entities. Your guests (or your host and their guests) will simply be left to sip and enjoy a serious Ah-ha! sample, likely interrupting all other conversation with their delighted revelation and subsequent inquiries about what magic could possibly be before them. Here we go!

Verus Dry Furmint ~ Slovenia

A guest at a recent Pour Favor tasting said that he is more "judgmental" of whites than reds - for him they have a greater risk of disappointment and need to offer something particularly intriguing on the nose to capture his interest and then follow through on the palate. While our own team can agree or disagree with such sentiment, the point is very well taken. This is not an uncommon feeling. Fortunately we have the remedy this Easter: the Verus Dry Furmint will get you fully on board the white wine bandwagon - or absolutely blow you away, if you are already a white wine aficionado!

Here was our play-by-play reaction during our last encounter with this gorgeous, expressive wine:

A touch of smokey petrol leads way to chalk and talc, clean earth - wow, like spring rain on gravel; kind of ocean-spray minerality; no - it's the aftermath of a monsoon! Fresh rain and wet earth, stones and cut grass - and that's just the nose! [Insert Taste...] Wow, the palate is just as bright - I'm getting white peach and a kiwi note with a lot of mouthwatering Granny Smith apple; but all of the dimension from the nose is playing out, too. And, nice, the finish has a really great bite of scallion, too."

And those, friend, are the notes of a woman in love! Such complexity, freshness and familiar notes are more rare than they are regular (good news/bad). Generally speaking, this extraordinary dry white sets a very high bar; but the acidity, weight and dynamic flavor composition are just what we're looking for when it comes time to gather friends for a meal - and in this case, are the makings for a fabulous springtime Easter fest!

Of course, don't get distracted - remember we also promised you lesser-known finds for this great feast... so note that this white takes you to Slovenia! Arguably the only reason the world doesn't yet know Slovenian wines is political. They have, however, been making wines there since before the Romans even got a whiff of the idea. Exploring the Verus Dry Furmint is both a wine lover's and a nature lover's dream. Enjoy!

Domaine Skouras Aghiorgitiko ~ Peloponese

While great white wines (clearly) more than just tickle our fancy, there are equally great reds to behold! And we believe every good host should offer both a "House White" and a "House Red" selection for all to explore at any given meal, let alone a feast. As such, we take you and your guests next to another historic producing region: Peloponese, Greece!

Here Aghiorgitiko (Eye-Oh-Reet-EeK-O (say it fast)) is the flagship red varietal - and Skouras makes a charming, yet enjoyably complex example. An oh-so-slightly lighter-bodied red wine, St. George (aka Aghiorgitiko) wines can deliver a subtle, Old World earthy twist on the more familiar. Skouras respects and nurses this natural tendency, gingerly oaking the wine simply to add texture, and not to detract from the red fruits and other nuances therein. Yes, this is a wine that easily reminds the palate of the incredible, French Pinot Noirs hailing from Burgundy.  Subtle herbs and dried earth notes glide across the palate in a smooth, sultry rush of flavor. Incredibly versatile, this is a wine that just gets started at Easter, but will consistently impress and delight you through Thanksgiving!

It's just too fun to get back on the swing set, kick your legs up in the air and take a ride down the slide. Our sandbox is your sandbox! Embrace this opportunity to out do them all. Cheers!



"Greek-ing" out

It's not often I repost an entire post anymore because I've streamlined my efforts in the last year. But this piece from Hungrily Ever After blogger/Pour Favor staffer Rebeccah M. is so tasty - and so seasonally topical - I can't resist. Check it out! Geeking Out with Greeks

How often do you take home a Greek?



Is it all greek to you?

Greek wines get a bad rep in "mainstream" wine consumption - here in the US, at least. Did you know it was the Greeks back in 4000 BC that started cultivating grape vines? They believed that wine was a gift from the gods and worshipped Dionysus, a creature with the mind of a man and the instinct of beast. Fortunately  modern times have not only brought back a resurgence in Greek wine production, but now in the 21st Century, we have a MUCH great chance of enjoying delicious Greek wines on our shores. I'm serious. Because of my connection with Ball Square Fine Wines in Somerville I've been fortunate to have been exposed to these wines and have tasted what I believe is the best of what Greece has to offer. And the offering is ample. There are serious, well made, sometimes even "nerdy" wines on the market. Sure, you might be lulled by the new "My Big Fat Greek Wine" that has recently come to Boston. And no, I by no means think that this is a good example of fine Greek wine; (in fact, I think it is a disservice to Grecian wine making and American consumers alike that they've used such a clever marketing ploy to pimp what I find is a fairly insipid wine, regardless of origin. I'm just saying...)

So why hasn't Greek wine taken off? Well, the names are a bit of a mouthful. Greece excels at producing wines from indigenous, local varietals that you really can't pronounce. I'm still working on it, admittedly, and I've been tasting them for 4 years now! Yes, there are some wineries that are blending in "international varietals" like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Syrah. But it is the Moscofilero-s and St.George's (aka Aghiorgitiko-s) of the world that set Greek wines apart from the rest.

Moscofilero is a white grape that gets its name from the Greek words for Mosco (meaning fragrant) and Filo (meaning leaf). It is an ancient varietal for sure, but it's aromatics are so fresh you'll be thinking of spring in an instant. It is a wine that I often suggest is akin to Sauvignon Blanc (especially from the Loire Valley, France) or even Viura or Verdejo from Spain. Earlier this week at a Greek-themed wine dinner at Bistro 5, one of the guests said the same thing.

One of my favorite red varietals at the moment (i.e. a grape I have been showing a little "favoritism" to on the home-front, yes, something that is hard to do and admit in this trade) is St. George, aka Aghiorgitiko. (Specifically, I'm enamored with the Skouras Nemea St. George, which for a mere $14.99 is a FIND as far as I'm concerned. It definitely "over delivers" - and would be perfect with your Thanksgiving feast.)  Back to the grape, Aghiorgitiko translates to St. George and is a name change that came about back in antiquity, when the wine was known as the Blood of the Lion. It got its name St. George during the conversion to Christianity - something about the parallel between Hercules killing the lion and St. George killing the dragon.... New wine name, new religion and poof! Rebecca has a new wine find to share with universe in the making. Un-oaked styles are fruit forward and lively, yet display a truly Old World earthiness in perfect moderation. I can't get enough.

Bottom line: Most consumers only seek out Greek wines after they've returned from a vacation or honeymoon in Santorini, for example. I say let your curiosity guide you home.

BSFW will be having a Greek wine tasting this Wednesday, Nov. 17. Check it out!

Are you familiar with Greek wines? Which is your favorite varietal?



Drinking red after Memorial Day

Lambrusco at Pour Favor's March Wine & Style eventFolks have been coming by the shop with great gusto for warmer temps;  and they have been seeking out red wines for the occasion! No, we're not just talking about "BBQ wines". We're talking about wines to sip and enjoy with or without a meal while you sit on your porch watching the sun go down. Today I'm going to share some lesser known varietals or unique regional offerings (hybrids or blends) perfect for just such an occasion. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is taking this list (or a modified version, as you see fit) to your local shop to see which offerings they have on offer. These are some cool wines to keep your summer fresh - but they aren't necessarily available at every shop. They are, no less, worth seeking out.

Zweigelt. Austrian fruity goodness. Some earth. Often a touch tart. Lively. A hybrid of  St.-Laurent and Blaufrankish.

Dole. A Swiss wine, which blends Pinot Noir and Gamay. Fresh, ripe redberry fruits and cherries. Distinct in its own right, it has a unique identity I think many palates will embrace.

Dornfelder. Some argue this is the new "hottness" out of Germany. Another red berry-fruited wonder, but with a great spice. Terrifically light on its feet - without ever leaving planet Earth.

Gamay. Low tannin, light style red. Very fruity and THE grape in Beaujolais red wines. Seek out Beaujolais Villages offerings to get a bit more depth in your glass (aka a dash of Burgundian earthiness).

Lambrusco. An Italian, frizzante style wine. Vinified sweet and dry - so ask to accommodate your taste or intentions. A lovely spectrum of depth and redberry fruit flavors on the market.

Some of these may be familiar to you as we've bantered about several in the past. But I've been known to get stuck in traditional ruts when on a mission for an aperitif or a lighter style red to accompany a meal on a hot day. So, go on! It's a big bad world of refreshing RED wine out there.  Remember these options and... experiment!

What other reds do you like on a hot day? There are several more out there... please chime in!



Wines with Style

Thanks to Gourmet for their image of The Achilles Project/Persephone!Ever been wary of a "Wines by the Glass" list? Been dubious the wines were opened two days prior to your debut at the bar? Or better yet, ever been overwhelmed by a list that's a real list, offering an ample array of wines you've never heard of?  The bars/restaurants that take their glass pours seriously are a rare and wonderful breed. The trick is navigating their list with style and grace. Not always an easy task! The Achilles Project/Persephone here in Beantown offers more than 20 different wines by the glass. To me, this is the first indicator they are serious about wine. The second indicator is that a good number of the wines on their list are "nerdy" (read: boutique offerings you don't see everyday). Like the boutique shop they run up front, they are focused on being fashion-forward, offering something new for folks to try. And because they are serious about glass pours, they also tend to be on the lookout for any wine that is past its prime, giving customers a greater opportunity to enjoy a "fresh" experience.  Sign me up!

Today I thought it would be fun to go through their "Wine By The Glass" list and pick out a handful of grapes that might cause a customer or two to scratch their head - when really they should be doing a little jig and embracing the list's fabulous uniqueness. Buckle your seat belt!

Lambrusco: This red wine varietal from Emilia Romagna, Italy is something else... Lightly sparkling (frizzante, as the Italians like to say), this wine offers smart red berry fruit flavors, often with just a touch of sweetness eminating from the ripe grapes they pick for this elixir. Think antipasto or anything with a touch of saltiness or lightly fried (calamari anyone?) as a perfect pairing. Or sip it on it's own! It's a real charmer.

Assyrtiko/Asirtiko: This white grape varietal may have different spellings, but to me they say the same thing: crisp, citrus deliciousness. The closest "mainstream" varietal I can reference for new Assyritko drinkers would be Sauvignon Blanc. But Assyrtiko brings additional minerality and even a hint of smoke to the table. This is a probably one of the most well respected varietals in Greece, with its real home in Santorini. Unique, bright goodness in your glass.

Scheurebe: This is one of Germany's best known hybrid varietals, yet it is still somewhat of an orphan.... DNA tests prove that this grape's dad is Riesling, but Mom is still unknown (though previously thought to be Sylvaner). Gotta love a freak! This wine typically offers tremendous floral aromatics and a touch of residual sugar (RS).  Tasting the wine out on the town can be a bit of a gamble, but your bartender should be able to guide you on just how sweet it is (though often enough you'll find they err on the drier side). Very much worth the experimentation, I've found. Often a great match for slightly spicy Asian dishes.

As for the Reds on their list, well.... some of these may be better paired with food than as a "cocktail wine" but it is certainly not everyday you see Austria's own delicious and lightly refreshing test-tube varietal Zweigelt on the roster, let alone a Mencia or a even a Monastrell (the Spanish name for the grape Mouvedre, which is better recognized in French wines). Nero d'Avola is up and coming, thought to be a pseudo Syrah with additional notes of currants, clove and vanilla; I find them more often distinct in their own right and offering far less oomph than Syrah can. But they are often just the thing to scratch the itch at a very reasonable price. Carignane can be wonderful, but I prefer to enjoy it when dinner's up, rather than at the bar with friends. I find it too dry, earthy and edgy without a bit of food on hand.

Any which way you look at it, the key thing is context. Do you want to sip something easy like a bit of Zweigelt while you chat with friends? Do you prefer something more familiar but still adventurous (like an Assyritko) to take the edge off a long day? Or do you crave a bit more body in your wine as you snack throughout the evening? If you're unsure you can either start with a bit of bubbly or white wine to get the ball rolling - and you can always ask your bartender for a recommendation to suit your mood!

Half the fun of wine is where you  are, what you're doing or who you are with. It's worth a touch of experiment; don't you agree?