Contact Us

How can we help?

3143 Ponce De Leon St
New Orleans, LA, 70119
United States


swirl and savor

Filtering by Tag: wine of the moment

Wine of the Moment, 2005 Larose-Trintaudon Bordeaux

Beth Ribblett

The 2005 vintage in Bordeaux was touted by many as one of the best seen in decades.  Even those who disagree, finding the 2000, 2003, 1996 and 1982 the finest in recent history, still regard 2005 as a stellar year.  But the overall consensus seems to be that it's difficult to go wrong when selecting a 2005 red Bordeaux.

The trick for people like us is finding those stellar wines that you can drink at a reasonable price.  It is easy to find expensive great wine, especially with Bordeaux, if you have the wallet to support such a habit.  Our goal at Swirl is to find those hidden gems that won't cost you an arm and a leg but provide a really enjoyable experience.  And we struck gold this week, and we want to share it with you...

So back to that great vintage.  In Bordeaux the summer of 2005 was hot, but not excessively so, which allowed the fruit to develop good flavor and fresh acidity.  Also the near drought conditions produced small, concentrated berries with a tough skin, resulting in wines with nice tannic structure.  So in a very brief nutshell you have all of the conditions needed for age-worthy wine:  great fruit, good acid and substantial tannic structure.

The Larose-Trintaudon is one of those bottles that you just shouldn't pass up, whether you care anything about 2005 Bordeaux or not.  It's just a beautiful expression of both the vintage and the region and at the $18.99 price tag, you've got nothing to lose.  It is a "Cru Bourgeois Superieur"  a category developed for wines of high quality that were not included in the original 1855 classification.  This wine is not new to the store as we've carried the two previous vintages as well, which have been very good, but this has definitely been the best to date.

This Haut Medoc is 60% Cabernet and 40% Merlot.  Medium bodied with ripe blackcurrant fruit, a judicious use of oak, integrated tannins and nice acidity.  On the palate there's a little mocha and smoky coffee; it is round, supple and elegant and is drinking beautifully, but I'm not sure how much longevity is has so buy it now!

Wine of the Moment, 2010 Abiouness Carneros Rosé

Beth Ribblett

As it happens every "spring" here in New Orleans, suddenly, its hot.  Usually we can at least make it to Jazz Fest before the thermometer bumps into the nineties, but early April?  So that means it is time to start stocking up on Rosé and and while you'll see some old favorites in the shop, look for some new fresh facings as well like my new favorite, the Abiouness...

I tried this wine a few weeks ago with Monica and Neil from Neat Wines and fell in love with it.  Female winemaker Nicole Abiouness makes only 175 cases of this Pinot Noir Rosé made from a blend of the vineyards used in her single vineyard Pinots:  Stanly Ranch and Hudson Vineyard.  It is fruity, fleshy, and deliciously dry, with a juicy nose of red cherries and spice.   On the palate you get everything a good pinot should give while still retaining the characteristics of a Rosé….light yet crisp on the finish with  strong, typical fruit characteristics of Pinot Noir:  strawberries, red raspberries and a touch of tart cherry with a balance of green earth and terrior.  You can almost taste the crisp, cool Carneros breeze!

Also look for the Abiouness Eagle Point Range Sangiovese at the bar in half bottles and her Pinot Noir should hit the shelves soon.  And as a side note she donates a portion of the proceeds of this deliciously pink wine to breast cancer research.  Way to go Nicole, I hope we get to see you in the shop one day!

Wine of the Moment, 2008 Chono Reserva Syrah

Beth Ribblett

Matt Lirette brought this delicious Syrah to me a few weeks ago to try and I knew we had to have it!  Chono is situated in the Elqui Valley, 500 kilometers north of Santiago, Chile and close to the Pacific Ocean which makes for cooling breeze and longer hang time for ripeness.  Handpicked from the stony, wind-swept slopes of this semi-arid desert vineyard, grapes give rich color and intense spice, with notes of tar and touches of bacon fat, a true poor man's Côte Rôtie!  Small yields give the wine great concentration, the tannins are round and supple, and the mouth delivers an endless flood of rich, black fruits.  One of Chile's most renowned winemakers, Alvaro Espinoza, guides this wine from field to bottle making for an outstanding value for its high quality, and a sheer pleasure to drink.  

$15.50; Try  it Wednesday in our 90under20 Tasting!

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 90 pts
Medium purple; smoked meat and game, lavender, spice box; lots of flavor, no hard edges.

Wine of the Moment, 2003 White Rock Cabernet

Beth Ribblett

It is Sunday night, I've had a great day cycling, taking Sangi to the park, playing frisbee with Kerry, working on the blog, and of course, making pasta! I had a little bit of the pork ragu left from last night's lasagna as well as another pound of dough in the frig, so I made some quick fettuccine, Kerry did a beautiful salad and we were in for a delicious meal. But, what to drink? Kerry was in the mood for beer, which I seldom am, especially not when pasta is involved, so I decided to do something very unlike me and drink a Napa Valley Cabernet with my Italian dinner! But it wasn't just any Napa Cab...knowing I would be drinking it myself, I chose one of the 375ml bottles of White Rock Cabernet that we have on the menu at the bar.

Opening it up and putting my nose to the glass, I instantly remembered why I like the White Rock wines so much. They have a very distinct old world quality to them with their crisp acidity, spicy fruit, leathery notes and lower alcohol content and the 2003 Cabernet was absolutely gorgeous with the food. At retail, this is a $50 cabernet that you can enjoy at the bar for $14 a glass. While that may seem a bit steep, it is basically just a smidge above the retail price when you break it down and it is so worth the $14 and it gets even better if you buy the half bottle. But it is only available at the bar and quantities are extremely limited.

It was scrumptious and great to the last sediment filled drop. Gotta luv it!

Winemaker's Notes: “ The 2003 White Rock Cabernet Sauvignon is a rich and ripe vintage. It has a complexity of cassis, plum and dark fruit with undertones of oak and leather. It is textured and multilayered and its mouthfilling character remains throughout to a long full finish. Present tannins promise excellent ageability.”

Wine of the Moment, Caposaldo Prosecco

Beth Ribblett

During these festive holiday times, I am constantly searching for great bubblies at all price points. And while Prosecco used to be the answer for fun, inexpensive sparklers, lately I find the prices are climbing without any great increase in quality. Needless to say, I was very excited when Antonio brought me this wonderfully refreshing, well made Prosecco that I could sell for under $15!

Italy's famous sparkling wine is made primarily in the district of Valdobbiadene (Val-do-bi-ad-en-ay) near the town of Conegliano in the region of Veneto. Prosecco is the actual name of the grape that is used to make this sparkling wine and many of the best examples are 100% Prosecco. As this is a grape that is prized for its delicate flavors and aromatics is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine. The Charmat method allows the wine to go through the second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles. The shorter, tank fermentation helps Prosecco preserve the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

The fruit for the Caposaldo comes from 4.5 ha owned by an artisanal small producer Antoinio Fattori along with those of other local growers he works with in Valdobbiadene and Conegliano in Treviso. Estate-grown Prosecco fruit, sourced and hand-harvested from high-density, low-yielding vineyards, with an average age of 20 years. It has lovely fruit with citrus, green apple and acacia flowers. The fine and persistent bubbles creates a soft, round mouth feel. Pleasant acidity, freshness and full-bodied flavor finish make this a a versatile wine excellent for an aperitivo, appetizers or throughout your whole meal! The best part, it's only $13.99!

Wine of the Moment, 2005 Bennett Lane Maximus

Beth Ribblett

If you follow Napa Valley's Route 29 north to Calistoga, and then keep going just 2 1/2 more miles you'll arrive at the pinnacle of the Napa Valley. This is the northernmost wedge where the Vaca mountain range meets the Mayacamas range and where you'll also find Bennett Lane Winery, sitting snugly at the edge of its own beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard.

Owners Randy and Lisa Lynch purchased the property only five and a half years ago, but Bennett Lane is already making a name for itself with its lush textured Cabernet Sauvignon and the no-nonsense red wine varietal blend Maximus, composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The winery has garnered an incredible thirteen 90+ Point Scores from Wine Spectator in four short years and produces an amazing line up of both red and white wines.

The best deal in the Napa Valley, with Wine Spectator calling the 2005 release of the Maximus an "Outstanding Value" and with even more Cabernet in this blend than ever before, this deal has gotten even sweeter! The current blend is 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 11% Syrah. The wine opens with aromas of dark cocoa, plum, ripe black cherry and subtle hints of vanilla. On the palate you get black cherry, plum, blueberry and subtle layers of cinnamon, nutmeg and cedar. With elegant, velvety tannins that enhance the mouthfeel, the wine has a long fruit driven finish and pairs well with practically everything, especially the Maximus Lamb Burger recipe this week!

Wine Spectator says 90pts: Firm, rich and intense, with ripe, vivid blackberry and wild berry fruit and a mix of currant and raspberry. Keeps a tight focus on the long, layered finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2013. 7,000 cases made. –JL


Look for the Napa table on Tuesday night at our Swirl Uncorked event and get a taste of the Maximus as well as the other amazing wines by Bennett Lane and Nine North Wines!

Wine of the Moment, Finca Labajos Ibero

Beth Ribblett

Although the area of "La Mancha" is more famously known for a certain Spanish knight, Don Quixote's stomping grounds are also home the world's largest wine-producing area, with a total of 191,699 hectares under vine. Once known only for producing large quantities of simple quaffing wine, the last ten years has seen a huge cut back in production matched with a giant leap in quality.

Located in the heart of the Iberian peninsula, halfway between Madrid and Andalusia, this immense plateau of arid lands experiences extreme temperatures, hot summers and very cold winters. The vineyards are set out on a large plain with loose and healthy soils of limestone-clay composition. Its climate is suitable for creating wines of high quality, Mediterranean with continental influences, it experiences marked seasons and considerable contrasts in temperature, which is a very favorable factor in the production of aromas.

A look at the label of the Finca Labajos Ibero states that it is a "Vinos de la Tierra" denomination, a concept that is similar to the "Vins de Pays" of France and, according to Spanish law, is seen as a sort of transitional term for areas that can, after 5 years, apply for Denominación de Origen status. However, many wineries in Vinos de la Tierra areas are embracing the greater freedoms allowed outside of the D.O. system and are producing some really innovative and exciting wines. The main requirement under the Vinos de la Tierra designation is that the wine has to be made from grapes grown with in the region, which leaves the door wide open for creative winemakers to compete on an international stage.

The Finca Labajos Ibero is made by a female winemaker, Raquel Labajos, the current owner of the property that has been in her family for over 300 years. A blend of 40% Merlot, 30% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Tempranillo, the wine epitomizes what is happening in the region with its intense complexity, red fruit aromas, juicy ripeness combined with earthy spice notes.

Robert Parker gives it 90 points and says "...Purple-colored, the wine reveals aromas of cedar, earth, mineral, black currant, and blackberry. This leads to a medium-bodied, balanced, structured wine with 2-3 years of aging potential. It has excellent grip and depth followed by a firm, pure finish. It should drink well through 2015."

We paired this a few weeks ago with Chef Glen Hogh's Pinchos Morunos at our Tapas event and was a show stopper! The best part? It's a lot of wine for only $13.50!!

Wine of the Moment: 2007 Adelaida Version White

Beth Ribblett

Referred to locally as the Adelaida Hills (not to be confused with Australia’s Adelaide Hills), they’re part of the Santa Lucia Mountains, which span 140 miles from Carmel Bay through San Luis Obispo County in California's Central Coast. Exciting things are happening in these remote hills, valleys and benchlands northwest of Paso Robles, so much so that in the June 30, 2005 issue of Wine Advocate, Robert M. Parker, Jr. asserts “there is no question that a decade from now, the top viticultural areas of Santa Barbara, Santa Rita Hills and the limestone hillsides west of Paso Robles will be as well-known as the glamorous vineyards of Napa Valley.

So just what is it that makes this area so special in terms of winemaking? As in all of the great wine regions of the world, the soil, climate and topography together create an ideal environment for quality grape growing. Given that they have some pretty special ground, with some of the highest elevations in the area, a wide variety of slopes and orientations, and those sought after limestone soils, it's not surprising that the area is producing concentrated, well-structured, age worthy wines.

More specifically here is what you'll find:
-the calcareous soils (calcium carbonate, limestone or chalk) of the area and the significance of this rocky, relatively infertile type of soil contribute to the exciting quality of the wines on the Westside. Calcareous soils, in particular, contribute intense bouquets, firm acids and strong alcohol but with finesse.
-climate during the growing season, specifically the hot days and cool nights. The Westside commonly has temperature swings of 50-55 degrees day-to-night, largely due to cooling breezes from Pacific Ocean creating prime conditions for ripe fruit with a balance of sugar and acid.
-dominated by the Santa Lucia Mountains it is an amazingly varied area with flatlands, river bottoms, benchlands, hills and mountains. There are multiple microclimates and diverse vineyard sites ranging from 800-2000 feet above sea level.

Over forty years ago, Dr. Stanley Hoffman recognized the area's potential and planted some of the region's first vines. The wines produced with legendary consultant Andre Tchelistcheff
under the Hoffman Mountain Ranch (HMR) label provided early proof that world-class wines could be grown in Paso Robles.

Today, the Von Steenwyk family owns a portion of that HMR vineyard as part of the Adelaida Cellars holdings that includes about 500 acres of walnut trees and 150 acres of vineyards. The winery, which originated in 1981, is located 14 miles east of the Pacific Ocean at an elevation of 1,800 feet in the Santa Lucia mountain chain. Adelaida's wild and rugged mountainside vineyards are loaded with limestone and calcareous shale. According to winemaker Terry Culton, "these characteristics cause the vines to strengthen. This results in added stress on the vines, which lowers the yields but produces more intensely flavored fruit". In keeping with the winery's sustainable philosophy, the vineyards are not tilled, encouraging native grasses, wild sage and rosemary to flourish between the rows.

Adelaida produces from its own Estate vineyards and a select group of contracted vineyards on the west side of Paso Robles. The fruit for the Adelaida Cellars Version comes from the Glenrose Vineyard, at 1,200 – 1,600 feet in elevation and 16 miles from the Pacific Ocean, and is adjacent to their own Viking Estate Vineyard.

Adelaida Version (Rhone Style White) Glenrose Vineyard 2007 - (58% Roussanne, 42% Grenache Blanc) Beautiful lime, pear and honey aromas with thirst quenching acidity and a fresh minerally finish this is an amazing food wine! Try it with my recipe this week, Lidia Bastianich's Whole Roasted Fish.

Try this wine at our Friday Free All this week with Gabe Daigle, $21.99.

Wine of the Moment, 2006 Moises Wahle Vineyards Yamhill Carlton Pinot Noir

Beth Ribblett

Located 35 miles southwest of Portland and 40 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, the Yamhill-Carlton District is a sub-appellation of Oregon’s famed Willamette Valley AVA. It is a horseshoe shaped appellation that surrounds the two communities from which it is named, Yamhill and Carlton, and is home to some of the finest Pinot Noir vineyards in the world.

Once primarily known for tree-fruit orchards, nurseries and livestock, wheat and logging, the area now known as the Yamhill-Carlton District has a relatively recent wine history. In 1974, pioneers like the Campbells and the Wahles were planting vines long before other areas of the North Willamette Valley. Other quickly followed suit and today it is known as one of the country's finest producers of cool-climate varietals and was officially established as an AVA in 2004.

The vineyards of the Yamhill-Carlton District were planted mostly in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The primary soil of this area is called Willakenzie, named after the Willamette and McKenzie rivers. It is comprised of coarse-grained, ancient marine sedimentary soils, over sandstone and siltstone, that drain quickly, making them ideal for viticulture. Grapes grown in this soil type often result in wines lower in acid than those made from grapes grown in other areas.

Yamhill-Carlton vineyards grow on sites with elevations between 200 and 1,000 feet, avoiding low valley frost and high elevation temperatures unsuitable for effective ripening. Geographically, this area is protected by the Coast Range to the west, the Chehalem Mountains to the north and the Dundee Hills to the east.

With the orientation of vineyards and unique soil conditions found in the AVA, the Yamhill Carlton District is a leading producer of concentrated, more lush styles of Oregon Pinot Noir. As with other Willamette Valley AVAs, only those vineyards falling within defined elevations (in this case between 200 and 1,000 feet) are permitted to use the AVA designation. This trend amongst the new Willamette Valley sub-appellations, such as the Yamhill Carlton District, only reaffirms Oregon as the leader of ‘terroir’ consciousness in North America.

The 2006 Moises Wahle Vineyards Yamhill Carlton Pinot Noir is produced with wine sourced from the Wahle Family’s initial vineyard planting located in the heart of Oregon’s Yamhill-Carlton District. Established in 1974, it is one of the oldest Pinot Noir vineyards planted in Willakenzie soil. The vineyard sits at 450' elevation and enjoys a beautiful southern exposure.

The wine was aged 11 months in French oak and another year and 9 months in the bottle. It has aromas of red and black fruits, with added elements of herbs, cloves and fresh-turned earth. On the palate, cherry and cassis dominate with herbal notes and continued spiced undertones. The lower acidity level brings a lush mouth feel and makes the Yamhill Carlton approachable young. Less than 100 cases produced.
Retail Price: $39.99

This wine is one of the gems we'll be tasting with Dr. James Moises at his launch party on August 15 from 6 to 9pm at Swirl. This is a "don't miss" event for anyone interested in tasting high quality, small production Oregon Pinot from a native New Orleanian. For more information on James and his wines, check out my blog post, Moises Wines, Driven by Passion, Heart and Healing.

Wine of the Moment: Alta Vista Premium Malbec

Beth Ribblett

Argentina's Luján de Cuyo is a part of the Mendoza River high region (along with Maipú). The majority of the vineyards in Luján de Cuyo are planted with red varietals with Malbec making up the majority of the plantings . Considered by many winemakers as a viticultural 'promised land,' Luján de Cuyo was the first region to institute the DOC (Denominacion de Origin Controlada) for Argentine Malbec. Approximately 40 minutes southwest of the city of Mendoza, many Argentine wine experts regard Luján de Cuyo as the birthplace of the movement that put Argentina on the map as a serious player on the international stage.

Located in a region known as the Northern Oasis, an odd name considering the region is technically a desert, this appellation sits in the foothills of the Andes where it receives very little rainfall and extremely large differences between day and night temperatures, two key characteristics that make for excellent growing conditions. Most vineyards lie in a relatively wide band between 1500 and 4000 feet in altitude.

The d'Aulan family oversees the Alta Vista winery, one of Argentina's largest independently owned wine producers. They pride themselves on being "Terroir Oriented Winemakers" and have invested considerable time and finances in researching and understanding their homeland. Extensive study was put into the area immediately surrounding Mendoza City, as well as that of Salta, a region in the north that lies in the Andes foothills. Their efforts in Mendoza led to the first comparative study of single vineyard Malbec wines from that region, which then led to the development of their flagship ALTO red wines. Robert Parker has named Alta Vista as one of the top 5 wineries in Argentina.

Alta Vista’s Premium line is made from a careful selection of their old vines mainly from the Serenade Vineyard, in the Lujan de Cuyo region. Their Premium Malbec is quite elegant, the bouquet is concentrated and dense, filled with black raspberry, licorice and spice. The fruit is powerful yet smooth on the palate and it keeps unfolding for ages revealing layers of savory black berries and cocoa touched by a note of earthy minerality.

$18.89/bottle with case discount
$17.75/bottle with club swirl case discount

Wine of the Moment: Michele Chiarlo Gavi

Beth Ribblett

The history of the white wine of the Cortese vine is as old as that of the town of Gavi where it was first produced over one thousand years ago. Believed to be native to the province of Alessandria, at the foot of the Appenine Mountains, the white wines of Gavi are mentioned in writings dated June, 972, when the vineyards surrounding the castle of Gavi belonged to the Bishop of Genova and were leased to local free peasants to grow white grapes. Over the centuries, the castle and its vineyards were passed from one royal family to another, and in 1411 fell to the French as the spoils of a war waged with the viscounts of Milan. Both Gavi and Genova remained in French hands until June of 1800.

Its steeply inclined upper slopes, extremely difficult to cultivate, are characterized by argilo-calcerous and volcanic soils with noticeable iron content, shot with veins of chalky limestone similar to that found in Champagne and Chablis. Situated a distance of 30 miles inland from the sea, the zone is warmed by Mediterranean breezes which temper cool mountain air, creating a perfect variation in temperature for the maturation of the fruit. The resulting wine is very dry and delicate.

Because the Cortese grape is so extremely fragile, Michele Chiarlo is particularly watchful to acquire fruit of the most perfect soundness possible, and of optimum maturity, from the most exceptional vineyard areas of Gavi. The grapes are pressed without crushing within ten minutes of their arrival at the winery, and the must is immediately refrigerated to 40 F to 45 F and allowed to settle for 12 to 15 hours. It is then racked into stainless steel tanks in which a low-temperature fermentation, at 60 F to 65 F, lasts from twenty to twenty-five days. The wine is left on its lees until ready to be bottled. The alcoholic fermentation is initiated only with natural yeasts, and no malolactic is carried out.

Michele Chiarlo Gavi is an extremely elegant wine, pale gold with hints of green, and delicately scented in bouquet. It is a classic expression of the Cortese grape; delicate and refined, with lean, subtle pear and white fruit flavors and a fragrance of acacia blossoms offset by notes of almonds.

Want to try it before you buy it? This wine will be featured in our upcoming tasting on July14th with Antonio Molesini. We'll be tasting 6 wines from the Piemonte region including Gavi, Arneis, Dolcetto, Barbera, Moscato and more. But space is limited so please call to reserve a spot, 504.304.0635

Wine of the Moment: Bodegas Val de Sil Montenovo Godello

Beth Ribblett

Not familiar with Godello? Don't worry, it's not on most people's wine radar! It’s an ancient white varietal that has laid its claim in Valdeorras since the Roman occupation. The area juts out north of Portugal and east of Rias Baixas, in the Galicia region of north west Spain. The Romans were attracted to Valdeorras (Golden Valley) for its gold mining, but like other areas they conquered, vineyards followed.

Brought back from near exctinction 30 years ago, Godello (go-day-o) tends to get overshadowed by its cousin Albarino from Rias Baixas. It was only in the 1990s that certain mavericks, intent on preserving this ancient cultivar, were noticed by boutique American importers and the Spanish wine press. The grape has gained more popularity in the American market due to the effort of U.S. importers like Eric Solomon.

A great Godello combines the minerality of a Chablis with the acidic snap of a Sauvignon Blanc—it comes at you quietly, with elegance and persistence. With its delicate aromas of wild flowers and lemon, usually a graceful mid palate, it should have crisp seductive fruits and finish with a good length.

The problem is that Godello tends to be pricey, most I've seen start in the low $20's. So when Morgan Stroud from Purveyor brought me this little gem that retails for $11.99, I was floored by the quality for the price!

Fresh and uncorrupted by oak, the Val de Sil has bright, racy white peach and lemon aromas with nice minerality and a crisp acid finish. Perfect for light seafood, a Spanish sheep's milk cheese or summer quaffing, it is delicious and different.

Want to try it before you buy? Morgon will be in the shop Tuesday, June 30 from 6:30 to 8:00pm opening bottles of this as well as 5 other great wines from Spain, France and Argentina. Come check it out! $10.

Wine of the Moment, 2006 COS Nero di Lupo

Beth Ribblett

As we were researching wineries to visit on our upcoming wine and culinary tour of Sicily, I knew we could not miss a small, biodynamic producer making some of the most exciting and individual wines in Sicily in the province of Ragusa. C.O.S was created in 1980 by three founders, Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti and Giuseppina Strano, former school friends who shared a passion for the wines of their native territory. Starting in a garage as students, they’ve taken advice along the way from Giacomo Tachis, the creator of Super-Tuscan wines Solaia, Tignanello and Sassicaia. They named their new project COS, using the first letter of each of their surnames.

Owner and marketing director Giusto Occhipinti is one of the stars of the contemporary Sicilian wine scene. A trained architect, he is a traditionalist winemaker, but with modern aesthetic sensibilities. He makes great wine by keeping it simple, adding virtually nothing to his wines but patience and attention, showing the true identity of the region and the land with a sense of style and attention to detail.

All COS wines are made naturally, unfiltered and with very little sulfur added. One COS wine, Pithos, is even fermented in Greek-style terra cotta amphorae, which is about as traditional as winemaking gets. COS also makes a couple of excellent straight nero d'avolas, including our featured wine the Nero di Lupo. As rustic as these wines may sound, they're also some of the best made in Sicily, proving that respect for tradition and excellence can go hand in hand.

The COS Nero di Lupo is 100% Nero D'Avola, but very different from the fat, super ripe, fruit forward style being produced with the American market and high scores in mind. The Nero di Lupo is unfiltered 100% Nero d'Avola made from grapes grown at their local Bastonaca vineyard. Fermented in stainless steel and aged for a further 24 months in cask it has remarkable finesse with rich fruit flavors balanced by flinty notes, balance, and complexity. This has extremely supple tannins and is about as varietally pure a Nero d’Avola as you will ever find. Pure, dark red fruit balanced with fresh acidity. This is distinctive, delicious stuff from a classic Sicilian producer. $26.99

We also carry one of their whites, the Ramí is made from Inzolia and Grecanico farmed at C.O.S.’ Ramingallo vineyard at nearby Comiso. Pale green in appearance, this has a deliciously appealing nose of blossom, peach and apricot. The palate shows mouthfilling fruit, and indeed this is full bodied, soft and rounded. After the initial rush of peach, apricot and melon comes an unexpected but very welcome hint of thyme. The lingering bitter almond finish makes this hugely drinkable and seductive. $24.99

But, if you are interested in either of these wines, you need to visit Swirl because we are the only store in Louisiana that has them!

Wine of the Moment: 2008 Domaine des Aubuisières Cuvee Silex

Beth Ribblett

Americans, the creators of White Zinfandel, have become funny about fruity sweeter styled wines and it’s now seen as a social faux pas in many circles to admit to liking your wine in anything other than a bone dry style. Take Vouvray as an example, a wine that is widely available on the international market but whose quaffing and food flattering qualities are rarely appreciated outside of France. Vouvrays are delicious with the fiery foods of Louisiana are a refreshing respite from the hot humid days of summer here in the south.

Vouvray is the name of AOC appellation as well as the village around which it surrounds and it produces delicious wines ranging from the dry and austere to the richest dessert wines, as even excellent sparkling wines. Vouvray is made exclusively from Chenin Blanc, which has been grown in the region since the 4th century.

The siliceous-clay, and limestone-clay soils lie on top of tuffeau, the limestone used to build the many châteaux of the surrounding countryside. The cool climate insures good acidity, which is balanced by the distinctly fruity character of the Chenin Blanc, and the mineral qualities imparted by the soil. Good Vouvray is charming, firm, and delicate, exhibiting a nutty, floral, honeyed character whose rich flavor is balanced by great acidity and bracing minerality. It ranges in style from dry (sec), to sweeter (demi-sec) to it's most complex and age worthy sweet form (moelleux).

Vouvray can age beautifully for decades and has been known to remain in prime condition for more than a century. The wine develops richness and depth over time but will never lose its fresh and fruity character. Sparkling Vouvray shows all the qualities of the still wines but with an even more pronounced flavor of minerals. It is an excellent aperitif, but also an ideal sparkling wine to drink with a meal.

Domaine des Aubuisières has 25 hectares of vines planted with Chenin Blanc around Vouvray, just East of Tours. This wine is mostly fermented and matured in thermo-regulated vats although his more prestigious dry cuvées and all the moelleux wines are aged in oak. After alcoholic fermentation, the dry wines are aged upon their lees with regular stirring to add depth and complexity.

The Cuvée de Silex is Bernard Fouquet's entry level dry Vouvray and comes to us from one of our favorite importers, Peter Weygandt. Fouquet is regarded as one of Vouvray’s top producers and Robert Parker’s recently published 7th edition of the Wine Buyer’s Guide lists Bernard as an ‘outstanding’ producer along with Domaine Huet and Philippe Foreau. It comes from three different parcels of grapes, les Perruches, les Girardières and les Chairs Salées. The nose is enticing, a little floral with hints of honey and pears. On the palate, it's fresh with a taste of sherbet lemons - the fruit continues and it finishes with a crisp, balanced acidity. It's absolutely delicious now but will probably taste even better given a little time to develop. It was a great match with the Spicy Fish Cakes I paired it with last week.