Asheville Wine Focus Group Winner: March

In a bizarre turn of events, the focus group was almost evenly split among the four wines presented by Mike Tiano of Haw River Wine Man. But, I think I saw one more hand for the Colterenzio Pinot Nero. OK, it was my hand but, hey, I count! I love this wine.  Brilliant ruby red in the glass, fresh fruity on the nose with aromas of red currants and black cherry. Colterenzio is medium bodied with ripe berry flavors on the palate. Soft tannins and integrated aciidty round out the wine. This Pinot Nero could go 2-4 years in the bottle. Bottom line is that a Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir in France and Blauburgunder (OUCH!) in Germany and Austria) of this quality at this price, $16.99, is hard to find. Find it @MetroWines!

Tellus Vinea 2016, an unoaked Bordeaux imported by Neal Rosenthal, was a close second, a hand away, OK OK, my hand. But I love this one too. This blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc is earthy and fruity with a waft of cherry. The wine is fermented in concrete allowing the true flavors of the grapes to speak without being smothered by oak. That said, this is a versatile Bordeaux.

Vallevo Pecorino sold out last night. The importer tells the story of how he found this wine:

Some years ago I helped a group of Italian winemakers tour Sonoma County wineries. The following year I was at Vinitaly, the huge Italian wine trade fair, and I went to say hello to one of the winemakers at his booth; his name was Gianni Pasquale, and he was the Technical Director for a small co-operative winery in the Abruzzo region, near Chieti. We talked for a bit, and then he asked if I'd like to taste his wines. I must admit I felt slightly embarassed; I knew roughly how little they cost, and I assumed they'd be pretty dire. But it would have been rude to refuse.

They poured the wines, and I started tasting, mentally composing a white lie to explain why I couldn't buy them. Then I realized that they were in fact exactly right- very flavorful, honest, well-made wines at a perfect price. In a sense this is an importer’s highest achievement; it’s pretty easy to find good wine at $50 a bottle, but very difficult at less than $10.  This extraordinary bottle is $10.99 @MetroWines.


‘No, this is not the sheep cheese: the variety’s curious name refers to sheepherders who ate the grapes while accompanying their flocks…’ Ian d’Agata

Pecorino is a grape variety that almost died out, and has been coming back into production in the last 20 years or so in the Marche and the Abruzzo. The wine is characterized by fresh acidity and very attractive aromas: ‘…usually delicately herbal (sage, thyme, mint) with balsamic nuances to the crisp apple and pear aromas and flavors…’ (d’Agata again).

The Vallevò Pecorino is fermented dry and aged on the lees in stainless steel tanks, and bottled in the Spring following the vintage. Makes a great dry aperitif and works with a range of foods, from seafood to vegetables.



Also a winner, Ostatu. Not a new wine to the shop but a constant favorite with customers and, as of last night, the Focus Group. The Focus Group liked the acidity and freshness of this wine. It is a"porch sipper" or the perfect partner to seafood. The winery says: The Rioja Blanco 2016 from Bodegas Ostatu is a blend of 85% Viura and 15% Malvasia from the highest parts of their oldest vineyards - the vines are between 30 and 80 years old. Pronounced aromas of nectarine, passion fruit and peach, give way to a fresh, lively palate with vibrant acidity and a spicy finish with hints of ginger and lemongrass.



Pet Approval
Graves, L'Oustalet, Rosso di Rocca