A couple new members of the family

One of the best things about loving and studying wine is the constant discovery of new styles and varietals. Letting go of your own favorite brand and diving into the unknown can indeed be frightening but it’s where growth and discovery lie. My goal with the wine list here at Bitto is to try and make the process of discovery less intimidating but still exciting. At last count, our flight and glass list represents over 60 different varietals! Picking a favorite is impossible, some wines shine by themselves, some need a cloudy day, some need food, some work with dessert and some work best with breakfast!

We’ve recently brought in a number of new wines and I wanted to show off just a couple of the new faces. The Godello had a great following, but the new vintage didn’t live up to the last one so I found a new Spanish white that I’m now in love with. It’s the Mustiguillo Mestizahe from the hills outside Valencia not far from Don Quixote’s plains of La Mancha. Here at almost 2500 ft, Toni Sarrión has almost singlehandedly saved the indigenous Merseguera from extinction. These cool hillsides are also great for the notoriously challenging Viognier. This organic blend of 75% Merseguera, 20% Viognier and 5% Malvasia brings so much to the table retailing at only $14 a bottle (in the Wine Cellar). Viognier’s floral and candied apricot nose, soft white peach flavors are present and envelop the sturdy body and bracing citrus acidic foundation of Merseguera. The limestone shows subtly as the wine warms and even more flavors of pear, Meyer lemon and a hint of herb become apparent. Bottom line is bottom’s up!

When our Washington Merlot suddenly left the market, (it happens a lot in Colorado) I searched for another domestic Merlot. While they seem to be a dime a dozen (not literally), I strive to serve wines that are grown, produced and bottled by the folks on the label. I’m sorry, but if you made your name at the Judgement of Paris, or have a Wine Speculator 95pt estate grown wine, trading in on your name recognition with bulk juice from the Central Valley in a pretty package (add some edgy name or sexy picture) is not the kind of “discovery” I’m shooting for here at Bitto. I was tasting and tasting and tasting until I chanced upon a lovely Italian Merlot from the Veneto. I know I have a lot of Italians, but sometimes you can’t help yourself (I married an Italian after all!).

Corvina grapes drying for AmaroneThe Veneto is home to a special technique known as Appasimento (finished wines are named Passito wines). This process involves drying the grapes to concentrate flavors and sugars prior to fermentation. The most famous example of these wines are the Amarones. My personal theory is the Venetians were jealous of the fame (justifiable) of their neighbors in the Piedmont who crafted the magically monstrous Barolos and Barbarescos from the ethereal Nebbiolo. Their own thin skinned grapes were much better suited for light quaffable styles like Bardolinos and Valpolicellas unless they found a way to strengthen the must and hence boost alcohol and concentration. But they have been doing this style since Roman times, and yes, I’ve completely diverged from my WA Merlot challenge but bear with me as I circle back!

Merlot has been grown in the Veneto and in neighboring Friuli for a few hundred years and does very well there, bringing softness to acidic or tannic wines although we don’t yet see much of it here in Colorado. Bertoldi’s Gran Passione is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Corvina (the most important grape in Amarone) with the Corvina dried on mats in the appasimento process. What ends up in the bottle is a delicious “baby Amarone”, an affordable introduction to this style of wine that suits American palates perfectly. Intense aromas of plum, cocoa and blackberry greet you and flavors of blackberry chocolate covered blueberries with a ripe tannic foundation round out the tasting experience. And it retails for about $15!

Obviously with about a dozen or more new wines coming onto the list this month, I can’t describe them here but will try to tell a few more stories about our new additions in the coming weeks and months! Got to run taste some rose's for our direct import this summer...


Barney


Orchard Wine Cellar Movers and Shakers This Week

  • Armas de Guerra Rose

    #1 Armas de Guerra Rose

    My heavens! 50+ year old, organic Mencia vines from some of the highest vineyards in Bierzo. Subtle aromas of strawberry, pink grapefruit and white pepper play with clean river rock minerality touched by zesty key lime. Balance and finish are tied together with a vibrating acidity. Structured and executed like a world class ballerina doing flamenco. Sells out every year for good reason. Lighter than Provence, a different planet than White Zin. The only hard part is only opening one bottle at a time.
    (Holding the #1 spot)

  • Gran Passione

    #2 Gran Passione

    From the land of Amarone comes a delicious Merlot based blend. To perfectly ripe Merlot (60%) is added juice from dried Corvina grapes ala Amarone. Rich, deep and smooth, this is a remarkable Merlot that may just change your Merlot worldview! (behind by 34 bottles)

  • Lavender Row Pinot Noir

    #3 Lavender Row Pinot Noir

    While French Burgundy may be the highest echelon of this grape, the warm and rugged south of France has a climate similar to CA and can make easy drinking affordable Pinots too. This affordable French beauty offers notes of toasted oak, rhubarb, strawberry, red flowers and crushed stone. But the nose! It truly explodes with the lavender that is grown all around the vines. (behind by 7 bottles)

  • Tintero Moscato

    #4 Tintero Moscato

    Sori Gramella refers to the one of the only single vineyard Moscatos, and Marco is the only producer to bottle this striking limestone amphitheater commercially. Once the 30 year old vines give up their bounty, and the grapes are harvested and pressed, they are kept in stainless steel at a low temperature to prevent fermentation until an order is received in order to provide the freshest wine possible. (behind by 7 bottles)

Fun New Arrivals

  • Farm to Table

    Farm to Table

    A fun and lighter style from the cool mountains of Victoria. Aromas of fresh strawberry, cherry jam flirt with notes of forest floor a touch of peppery oak. Lively cola and raspberry flavors with vibrant acidity. Darn good value too!

  • Armas de Guerra Mencia

    Armas de Guerra Mencia

    An excellent introduction to Bierzo's native varietal, the palate is fresh, elegant, and clean. Energetic aromas of fresh blue fruits, violet and white pepper, plus a subtle touch of licorice. Supple and gently sweet on the palate, offering sappy boysenberry and floral highlights with a hint of smokiness.

  • Chateau Deux Rocs

    Chateau Deux Rocs

    A rose of lovely character, with fleshy red fruit and floral aromas. Its intense fruit and tannic backbone will make it the perfect match for spicy Mexican or Thai food.

  • A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon

    A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon

    This four grain whiskey uses a blend of rye, wheat and barley sourced from the Colorado Malting Company, and corn from Briess Malting in Wisconsin - encompassing the "mother grains" of bourbon. The whiskey ages about 3 years, all year round to capture the seasonal nuances from the ever-changing Colorado mountain air, in new, 53 gallon charred oak barrels source from Independent Stave Company.