The Spirit Haus
Welcome to The Spirit Haus, Amherst's Specialty Beverage Center

The soft, reflective glow of last night's Giacosa/Sandrone tasting leaves one at once thrilled and emptied, talkative and quiet, blue and green as April's rain greys the sky. And so, tomorrow afternoon after a new vintage of a white, mostly Nebbiolo blend from the Valtelina in Northern Lombardy, we'll ride new vintages of some wines of Elizabetta Fordori of the Dolomites alongside older Foradories, before visiting a Kermit Lynch import from Languedoc's Pic Saint Loup appellation and finishing in Chile with an old-vine, dry-farmed Carignan. A mix here of two whites and six reds accompanied by cheese, salami and bread makes our afternoon beginning at 2 pm.

Pietro Nera's 2017 La Novella Bianco [$17.99] from the Alpi Retiche IGT, the new name from 2017 for the region in and around the town and province of Sondrio in the heart of the Valtellina, starts us off. It is made by vinifying Nebbiolo and a little bit of the local red varietal Rossola, a child of Nebbiolo as white wines, and then including Chardonnay and Incrocio Manzoni, a winter-hardy varietal with good frost resistance. We have enjoyed having other vintages here. Pietro Nera is an excellent family winery.

Then eastward to the Dolomites with Foradori's 2017 Fontanasanta Nosiola [$44.99], an amphora-aged, unmistakably unique ancient varietal bio-dynamically farmed in poor soils, vinified on the skins, needing at least an hour of breathing time and best served at cellar temperature. Tomorrow, we promise to do our part. Here is a review:

Monica Larjner, Wine Advocate, Dec 2018: This wine sees extended skin contact in clay amphorae that lasts up to six months. The 2017 Nosiola Fontanasanta opens to a beautifully luminous and light appearance. In fact, you'd hardly know the wine had so much skin contact if you were only to consider its clear and transparent appearance. However, the key to reading this wine is through that extended skin maceration, because the Nosiola grape tends to offer very neutral aromas in its natural state. The chemicals in the skins add layers of candied orange, beeswax and chamomile flower. There are terpene tones of dried sage and white pepper as well. Some 10,000 bottles were made. Drink: 2019-2030. 94+ points.

Next, to four expressions of her Teroldego – the current vintage and examples from 2011 – of her “basic” Vignetti delle Dolomiti 2016 [$26.99] and the 2011, and one of her single vineyard bottlings, Sgarzon 2017 [$44.99] and 2011. Here is a very fair assessment from 2014 of Foradori's wines from Antonio Galloni, and then reviews. She farms bio-dynamically.

Elisabetta Foradori's wines remain compelling. The whites both see a short period of contact on the skins, a relatively recent development here. This year I was especially struck by the 2011 Teroldego, a wine that delivers superb quality for the money. Both of Foradori's single-vineyard Teroldegos are worthy follow ups to the 2010s. Overall, the 2011 reds are bulit on volume and texture, never a bad thing with Teroldego, which can at times be excessively gamy. The two single-vineyard Teroldegos spend eight months in terra cotta amphora, which seems to allow for magnificent purity and expression of fruit. ...Foradori has made compelling wines for some time, but she never seems to tire in her relentless pursuit of excellence.

Foradori – Teroldego Vigneti Delle Dolomiti 2011

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, March 2014: The 2011 Foradori (Teroldego) is drop-dead gorgeous. Silky, layered and polished, the 2011 impresses for its raciness and textured, inviting personality. This indigenous red grape can veer towards the gamy side of things, but Foradori's Teroldego is all about purity of fruit laced with floral and spice notes throughout. This is a fabulous vintage for the Teroldego. Drink: 2014 – 2018. 90 points.

Foradori – Teroldego Vigneti Delle Dolomiti 2016

Ian D'Agata, Vinous, September 2018: Inky-purple. Perfumed violet and black cherry aromas and flavors. Then quite tannic but fresh with the fruit flavors slightly compressed by herbal and earthy nuances. Finishes clean and bright, with very high zingy acidity that may not be for everyone. Drink: 2018 – 2025. 89 points.

Monica Larjner, Wine Advocate, Dec 2018: This wine will not be produced in 2017. The 2016 Teroldego Foradori (with 50,000 bottles made) shows some of the youth of the fruit with primary aromas of black fruit and blackberry preserves. Teroldego shares some characteristics that are similar to Syrah in terms of the rich fruit density and darkness. It also exhibits soft tannins and full-bodied appeal. Drink: 2018-2024. 90 points.

Foradori – Teroldego Sgarzon 2011

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, March 2014: Raspberry jam, black cherry compote, smoke, incense, blood orange and game flow across the palate in Foradori's 2011 Teroldego Sgarzon. A rich, sumptuous wine, the Sgarzon impresses for its pure volume and resonance. The 2011 has more than enough density to support at least a handful of years of aging. What a gorgeous wine this is. Drink: 2014 – 2021. 93 points.

Foradori – Teroldego Sgarzon 2017

Ian D'Agata, Vinous, September 2018: Lovely deep ruby color. A brooding nose hints at ripe red cherry, strawberry, minerals and sweet spices, complicated by aromatic herbs. Then also reticent on the palate with juicy acidity lifting the floral and red fruit flavors. Finishes long and fresh, with building salinity. Drink: 2020 – 2028. 92 points.

Monica Larjner, Wine Advocate, Dec 2018: Tasted at the winery just a few weeks after its release, the 2017 Teroldego Sgarzon is a step above the 2016 vintage. You feel that extra heat and flavor intensity that seems to radiate off the primary fruit. This was a warm growing season, and the quality of aromas is more open, generous and immediate as a result. This wine is fermented on the skins in clay amphorae for six months. Aromas of dark fruit are followed by cigar smoke, scorched earth and wet clay. In the mouth, this vintage offers noticeable density and richness. Drink: 2019-2033. 93 points.

We leave Italy now for France, to Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup's “Tour de Pierres” 2015 [$17.99], a blend of half Syrah, 40% Grenache and 10% Mouvedre that beautifully expresses the charm of the vintage, standing eye-to-eye with many more famous Southern Rhone appellations. Organic farming, natural fermentations, non-interventionist vinification are some fo the practices that translate into wines with a purity of fruit, character-filled delineation of layers and distinctness of place. The microclimate in Pic St. Loup is also particularly unique in this otherwise dry region. Though the summers are typically very dry, cool nights and winter rainfall allow for long ripening of the grapes and sufficient water supply. Vines for the “Tour de Pierres” are 30-40 years old.

Finally, we jump to the Maule Valley of Chile to Garcia & Schwaderer 2014 Vigno [$44.99], a selection from a single vineyard, dry farmed, 100% old vine Carignan planted in 1958. It is an aromatic, earthy and a spicy kind of wine with possibly a hint of that famous “tar.” Aged in three and four year old French oak barrels for 24 months. Here is a review from Luis Gutierrez of the Wine Advocate: The 2014 Vigno is sourced from an old vineyard in Melozal, which is also the source for the Vigno of Torres and Valdivieso. The nose is ripe, open and aromatic, elegant and nuanced. Tasted next to the other Vigno, this is one of the most aromatic and heady. The palate is full-bodied but nicely balanced by electric acidity; it is powerful and elegant at the same time. A very showy Vigno, it is juicy, chewy and tasty. Drink: 2017-2023. 94 points.

Eight wines in all excite our tasting. The paid portion of the afternoon will be $5.

Thank you so much for your interest and time.