December 2022 | Enthusiast Wine Clubby Caileen Brison
Ettore Germano 2019 Langhe Nebbiolo
From Oliver McCrum
A tall medieval tower dominates the village of Serralunga, on the south-east edge of the Barolo appellation, giving fair warning of the character of the wines grown there: structured, substantial, uncompromising. Sergio Germano, whose winery is a few minutes walk north of Serralunga, completed six years of study at the School of Enology in Alba, then made wine for a few years at Fontanafredda, one of the larger wineries in the area, before returning to the family estate in 1993. The winery is still named after Ettore, Sergio’s father, who grew grapes, made a little wine for private customers, and was known throughout the area for his skill in grafting vines.
Germano’s Langhe Nebbiolo is made from the youngest vines in their Barolo vineyards. This exalts the fresh, floral side of the Nebbiolo grape. Perfumed (violet, tobacco-leaf, cinnamon), medium-weight in the mouth, and very drinkable. Not all Langhe Nebbiolo is declassified Barolo, but this one is. Bottled with a screwcap for freshness.
The Ettore Germano wines are generally delicate and light-handed and this Langhe Nebbiolo is no exception. On the nose are all the aromas you expect from Nebbiolo such as rose petals, cranberries, currants, and blood orange oil. There’s a fun soft aroma of blueberries, with sage, thyme, and rose water. The structure has that grip you expect from Nebbiolo, but it is by no means aggressive. On day two the wine becomes more red fruit forward and is softer overall. I enjoy the structure on day one, but if you prefer a softer wine you could consider opening the wine in advance or decanting. Drink now – 2026, serve in all-purpose stemware, and serve at cellar temperature. Enjoy alongside rabbit, duck, or prosciutto pizza.
Domaine de la Fontainerie Vouvray 2019 Brut Nature
From Beaune Imports
For more than two decades, Catherine Dhoye Deruet has worked the estate that has been in her family since 1712. This serene farm sits along the rolling hills of the Vallée Coquette in Vouvray, with six hectares planted to vines surrounded by orchards and the cellars carved into the limestone cliffs beneath her Coteau de la Fontainerie vineyard. While other appellations in the Loire grow excellent Chenin Blanc, or Pineau de la Loire as it is also known, the grape has truly found its home in Vouvray, where varied microclimates and terroirs give way to equally varied styles of wine, from sparkling to dry, off-dry, and sweet.
As with the other “C” bottlings from this estate, the grapes for this cuvée are picked a bit more ripe than those for the other basic cuvées. When done for still wines, it tends to make for an off-dry wine, but when done for sparkling wine, combined with a lower dosage, the results are truly splendid. The richer body makes for more complexity while no dosage (Brut Nature) focuses the mineral lines and acidity to greater advantage.
I love this sparkler! On the pop are exuberant high tones of lychee, guava, passionfruit, and lemon oil. The palate has lovely notes of apricot pits, toast, hoisin, and green apple. As time evolves, the wine becomes warmer in tone with parmesan, sea salt, and has a delicious chalk minerality. Unfortunately – due to how delicious this is – I have no notes for the wine on day two. Drink now – 2024, serve chilled in all-purpose stemware, and enjoy alongside appetizers or breakfast quiche.
Domaine Luneau-Papin 2020 Terre de Pierre
Pierre-Marie and Marie Luneau head this 39-hectare family estate in Le Landreau, a village in the heart of Muscadet country, where small hamlets dot a landscape of vineyards on low hills. Their estate, once known as Domaine Pierre de la Grange, has been in existence since the early 18th century, when it was already planted with Melon de Bourgogne (the Muscadet appellation's single varietal). After taking over from his father Pierre in 2011, Pierre-Marie became the ninth generation to make wine in the area.
The harvest is done by hand -also a rarity in the region- to avoid any oxidation before pressing. There is an immediate light, débourbage (separation of juice from gross lees), then a four week fermentation at 68 degrees, followed by six months of aging in glass-lined vats on the wine's fine lees for the entry-level wines, much longer for the rest of the lineup (12 to 48 months). This is the classic Muscadet "sur lie" process, where the wine is kept on its lees, with a fair amount of CO2 as protection, until bottling in the spring following the harvest. The only modern technique used here is macération pelliculaire (maceration of lightly crushed berries before pressing), which varies in proportion according to the cuvées.
This bottling is expressive and iconic; with every bottling I can count on terroir and longevity, and the 2020 is no different. On the pop there are notes of pecorino, toffee, mandarin pith, and sourdough bread. The palate has an oily texture with sunflower, salty chalk, and soft acid. On day two the wine becomes even more yeasty with spikes of cardamom, whole wheat cracker, and heightened acid expressing as lemon oil. This wine shows well after being open for a couple hours and should be served just above refrigeration temperature in all-purpose stemware. Drink from now – 2028 and serve alongside baked cheese crisps, salami, and Olympia oysters.