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

Tomorrow, in the cool of Spirit Haus, beginning at 2:00 o'clock, we jump around from the Dolomites above the alpine city of Trento to the hinterland of Sicily's Agrigento, to the Loire Valley's Vendemois and Chinon, to Burgundy and to Piemonte's Monferrato before finishing in the hills south of Piacenza in Emilia Romana. Such a ranging wine tour!

We begin with Cantina Furlani's Vino Bianco [$19.99] a bio-dynamically farmed, spontaneously-fermented blend from vineyards at 2200 feet elevation of Nosiola, Muller Thurgau and Pinot Bianco, aged in stainless steel with no skin contact and no sulfur added.  Winemaker Matteo Furlani is a fourth generation custodian of his family's several tiny plots working the land in the most natural of ways. This mountainously fresh wine is a wonderful slap.

Then to a touch inland from Agrigento in the middle of Sicily's southern coast for a traditional variety modernly produced by Civias – their Grillo Acanteo 2017 [$15.99], recommended to us by patrons of Osteria Vespa up-town. Let us imagine a glass of this Grillo as an aperitif after a movie; or with prawns, mussels or their pan-seared stripped bass.

On to the Loire, le Jardin de France, for two Roses – Le Cocagne 2018 [$10.99] from the Coteaux du Vendomois appellation, a 100% Pineau d'Aunis with its finishing touch of pink grapefruit, perfect for 100 degree threats; and Jean-Maurice Raffault's 2018 Chinon Rose, a lively and savory 100% Cabernet Franc bottling. Dear Rose doubters, if not now, then when?

Next, to two Pinot Noir from Burgundy to showcase the affability of their 2017 vintage and to check in on how an example from the superb 2015 vintage is developing. Our 2017 Bourgogne is from Hubert Bouzereau-Gruere et Filles of Meursault [$22.99] and our 2015 is Thibault Liger-Belair's Hautes-Cotes de Nuits “La Corvee de Villy” [$44.99], from a grey limestone plateau beneath about a foot of red clay topsoil above the town of Nuits Saint-Georges. Burgundian expert Alan Meadows says of the "Corvee de Villy" that this “Outstanding Top Value” is a “pretty effort worthy” of our interest! After an hour's decant, we'll take the measure of how trustworthy a taster Mr Meadows is. After a difficult vintage in 2016, Burgundy in 2017 was favored with a plentiful and pleasurable crop, as the “little” Bourgogne value from Bouzereau-Gruere will show.

Finally, to Italy for La Miraja's 2016 Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato [$24.99] and La Stoppa's 2011 Macchiona [$37.99] bottling, which is a 50/50 blend of Barbera and Bonarda (aka Croatina). Macchiona is La Stoppa's flagship red from the estate's oldest vines (about 65 years), is farmed organically since the early 1990's with no fertilizers and with wild plants flourishing between rows. The fruit is harvested by hand, then destemmed and crushed. The juice is fermented with native yeasts and without sulfur in concrete and stainless steel; maceration with the skins lasts 45 days. The wine is aged for about 3 years in 10-to-20-hectoliter Slavonian oak botti, is bottled unfiltered and then aged for at least 2 more years before release. Hence, vintage 2011.

Until about two years ago, the singular wines of La Miraja had been impossible to find in the States. The estate is nestled within the original castle of Castagnole Monferrato, constructed in the 11th century and retrofitted to serve as a cellar in the 1400s. In this armory-turned-cellar, Eugenio Gatti, a seventh-generation viticulturist, turns out Barbera d’Asti, Grignolino, and the fabled Ruché we taste tomorrow from the oldest vineyard of Ruché in Castagnole Monferrato, the original birthplace of Ruché. In a good year, Gratti produces about 840 cases. Ruche mixes an in-drawing aromatic with an earthiness that both expresses and transcends its Monferrato home.

Eight honest wines comprise our tasting, the paid portion of which is $5. A baguette, cheese and salumi will accompany. Below please find reviews of the 2015 Hautes-Cotes de Nuits.

Thank you all so very much for your time and interest.



Thibault Liger-Belair – Bourgogne-Hautes Côtes de Nuits "Les Corvées de Villy" ♥ 2015

Stephen Tanzer, Vinous, December 2016: from a limestone plateau above Nuits-Saint Georges; 100% destemmed): Bright dark red. Reduced nose dominated by redcurrant and smoke. Sappy red berry flavors show good definition, depth and breadth. A step up in complexity from the La Roche and showing a more sophisticated texture. Finishes with noteworthy energy and length. 89 points.

Neal Martin, Wine Advocate, Dec 2016: The 2015 Hautes Côtes de Nuits La Corvée de Villy, which comes from more grey limestone soils with 30 centimeters of red clay topsoil, has an elegant raspberry and wild strawberry bouquet, damp undergrowth scents emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy red fruit on the entry, nicely weighted in the mouth with a crisp, focused and elegant finish. I admire the density and depth here, and it should drink well for several years. Drink: 2018-2025. 89-91 points.

Alan Meadows' Burghound Tasting note: Reduction is present here as well. By contrast there is once again good punch and volume to the fleshy and lightly mineral-inflected flavors that possess an admirable level of dry extract, all wrapped in a dusty, saline and lingering finale. This pretty effort is worthy of your interest. Outstanding Top Value. Drink: 2020+.