10 Mezcals: Our Current Favorites

Last week we dove headfirst into mezcal with the hopes of getting you as passionate about the spirit as we are. This week we’re hoping to help you put your new knowledge into practice by sharing 10 of our current favorite bottles, all stunning expressions of the art, tradition and skill that goes into artisanal mezcal making. Take one or two or more home and taste them side-by-side for a truly instructive (and really, really delicious) tasting experience.

Del Maguey produces spectacular single village mezcals, all with very distinct personalities. The “Minero Santa Catarina Minas” is made in a region of Oaxaca that’s only accessible via a small mountain pass, using clear, clean water and well-fertilized pinas that make this bottling extraordinarily approachable. It has mellow flavors of vanilla, fig, charred honey and a hint of lemon – just delicious. $69.99

The Del Maguey “Vida de San Luis del Rio” is an excellent, soft, versatile and user-friendly mezcal made by mezcalero Marcos Cruz Mendez in Oaxaca. The Espadin agave is roasted over a wood burning pit, which lends a complex array of flavors that include honey, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, burnt sandalwood, banana, and tangerine. A terrific gift for a mezcal newbie, it’s suitable for sipping on the rocks or for cocktails. $34.99

Made by mezcalero Espiridion Morales Luis and his son, Del Maguey’s “Santo Domingo Albarradas” comes from a lush, tropical region in southern Oaxaca similar in many ways to parts of Hawaii. It’s light, with lots of pear and spicy wood notes, with a clean and dry finish. This is the mezcal to pick when you’re looking for something that’s more elegant and refined, but not too dear. Great for sipping either neat or with a single cube. $69.99

Bozal’s “Cuixe.” Sure, it’s a great looking bottle (really) but it’s more than just a pretty package. Cuixe is a very tall, very fibrous agave, which the mezcaleros roast over a wood burning pit. Its flavor profile is a balancing act between fresh and tropical fruit flavors, and earthy, piney, starchy ones. And at this easy price (for a mezcal) it’s a great starting point for those looking to explore. $59.99

The Bozal “Castilla” is made from the Castilla agave, which is a close cousin to Espadin, but is smaller and harder to find. The piñas used in the making of this bottle were harvested deep in the Oaxacan valley, in San Juan Bautista Jayacatlan, and contribute a lush, fruity, tropical nose to an otherwise austere mezcal. It finishes with notes of mint, mocha, and subtle smoke. $89.99

If you’re really into mezcal, grab a bottle Bozal’s “Coyote” while it’s here. It’s extremely subtle and beguiling, with a rich minerality and marked dark chocolate/cocoa notes. It finishes dry and balanced and wants nothing more than an ice cube to liven up. It’s made in Sola de Vega, Oaxaca, in very minute quantities. Very special. $89.99

The Alipus mezcals highlight the regions and terroir of their origins. The San Andreas, made by Don Valente Angel Garcia Juarez in Miahualtan, Oaxaca, is the most well known, with a bright and fragrant Espadin agave characteristic, backed up with a piquant alcohol kick. It’s a very food-friendly mezcal: The bold flavors stand up well to grilled or roasted meats, veggies and spicy dishes. $44.99

This “San Juan” is the smokiest Alipus. San Juan del Rio is made from Espadin grown high in the Oaxacan mountains where it is very dry, by mezcalero Don Joel Cruz. It’s another bold offering, with subtle fruity agave notes balanced by a rich, mouth-coating smokiness. This is the mezcal for that Scotch drinker you know who refuses to try anything but Scotch. $44.99

The Pierde Almas “Dobadaan” is the bottle for the super fan. It’s the only commercially available Dobadaan (a variety of agave) that we know of, and it’s extremely rare. It’s made in San Baltazar by Alfonso Sanchez and Gregorio Velasco. The aroma is of a smoldering autumn leaf fire, smoky and rich, with stewed fruit flavors and a finish of clove and sandalwood. $84.99

Here it is. The King Of The Agave. Tobala is grown in the wild, and yields ridiculously low harvests. A mezcal made from Tobala is something to be prized and savored. Do yourself a favor – if you’re into mezcal, put this El Jolgorio Tobala on your bucket list. It’s made by Gregorio Garcia, Gregorio Hernandez, Valentin Cortes in Oaxaca’s Santiago Matatlan and is worth every penny. Trust us. $124.99

To learn more about mezcal, stay tuned into our newsletter, where we’ll be announcing our May schedule of mezcal tastings. We’ll be opening up a new bottle or more each Thursday in May 2018. We hope to see you in store!

prices subject to change

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All About Mezcal

At the time of this writing, mezcal is undeniably the hottest spirit amongst true cocktail aficionados. The demand for quality mezcal is growing, specialized mezcal bars are sprouting up in cities around the globe, and more and more premium brands making their way to our shores from Mexico. Yet there’s still a fair amount of confusion around what mezcal is, and why it is costs so much.

Simply put: Good mezcal ain’t cheap, and cheap mezcal ain’t good. Read on to find out what mezcal is, and why the good stuff is absolutely worth exploring and enjoying.

What is mezcal and how does it differ from tequila?

Mezcal is a category of spirits made from a distillate of fermented agave that comes from any of the 10 Mexican states listed above.

Mexico’s more famous spirit, tequila, is a type of mezcal that can be made only in the five states of Nayarit, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato, Michoacán, and  Jalisco. That said, 90+% of all tequila comes from Jalisco.

Different species of agave, climates, production methods, and other factors all contribute to the myriad differences between between individual mezcals and between tequila and mezcal, but very simply put:

  • tequila can ONLY be made from the “Blue” agave (agave tequilana).
  • the piñas (the harvested heart of the agave plant – it looks like a pineapple) used in tequila production are pressure cooked inside a giant industrial oven and often distilled in larger industrial-scale stills with large production capability.
  • mezcal, on the other hand,  can be made from any of the 50+ known species of agave, including “Blue,” although 90+% of all mezcal is made from Espadín (agave angustifolia).
  • piñas for mezcal are most often cooked in earthen pits (less often in rustic brick ovens) over mesquite or other hardwood. In some instances, these ovens are lined with volcanic rock or some vegetation to separate the piñas from the fire.
  • mezcals are distilled in extremely small clay or earthen stills, sometimes copper, often with rudimentary cooling and filtration systems.

In terms of how these production differences translate into flavor, you’ll find that steamed, or pressure-cooked tequila is usually a sweeter, mild, and fruity spirit, while the roasted, baked mezcal is much more robust: smoky, earthy, vegetal, and herbal.

What is agave?

Agave is a species of succulent in the asparagus family. A remarkable plant that can thrive in low moisture areas, its use is intrinsically tied to the history of the regions in which it grows. It is an extremely useful plant with edible leaves, flowers, stems, and sap. It has a fibrous core and stiff leaves that are used to make pens, rope, clothing, baskets, musical instruments – the list goes on.  Agave grows wild, abundant, and reliably in Mexico, so it became a natural source for spirit production, as opposed to labor-intensive grains or grapes.

Agave comes in many different shapes and sizes. Some are very large, growing up to 10’ tall and weighing a hundred pounds when harvested, while others grow more like shrubs, and will weigh 5-10 pounds at harvest. Each agave has its own unique life-cycle. Some mature in 5-8 years, others in 7-10 years, still others in 20 years or more. Each agave flowers once, and then dies. This is its natural life-cycle. The cortadors (farmers who cut a harvest agave for the mezcaleros) decide when to arrest this flowering to allow the agave to fill with nectar before harvesting and roasting.

And just like wine grapes, each agave has its own unique flavor characteristics, much like a pinot noir is distinct from a cabernet sauvignon, or a malbec, or a zinfandel, etc., that is influenced by its climate and soil. A sauvignon blanc from France’s Loire Valley will taste very different from the same grape grown in California. In the same way, a mezcal produced from the same Espadín variety will taste very different when grown in the hot, dry desert of Chichicapa as opposed to one made in the lush, tropical forest of Santo Domingo Albarradas.

Why the high price tag?

Quality mezcals are, quite literally, handmade, artisanal products. “Artisanal” is a much overused word in today’s marketing canon, and its meaning has become muddied through repeated use. It bears reminding what “artisanal” means.

According to Miriam-Webster, “artisanal” is defined as:

1: of, relating to, or characteristic of an artisan

2: produced in limited quantities by an artisan through the use of traditional methods

So unlike mass-produced foods easily found in your grocer’s freezer section and the large chain fast-food restaurants who claim to sell “artisanal” products, premium mezcal is absolutely, wholly artisanal. It is made in small batches by a handful of people in an extremely labor-intensive processes under less-than-ideal conditions in the same method that it’s been produced for hundreds of years. Where the cuts on the agave are made, how the pits are dug, how long the agave is roasted, what wood is used to fuel the oven, the temperature at which it’s distilled – all these decisions and many more have been passed down from father to son, grandfather to grandson for generations.

Furthermore, most of the villages where mezcal production takes place are in remote locations, and the agave that is used is often grown dozens if not hundreds of miles away from the village. When you take into account the amount of time it takes for an agave plant to mature, then to be harvested at just the right time, transported to a palenque (the cool name for a mezcal distillery), roasted and tended by hand (the cooking process can sometimes take weeks to complete), mashed either by a giant stone (called a tahona) pulled in a circle by a horse or, more commonly, beaten into a pulp by hand, then distilled twice in super small batches – you can see where the time and effort add up. And we still haven’t gotten the finished spirit bottled, tested and approved by the mezcal authorities (yes, every batch is tested for proof and quality before it can be released), and then transported north to the United States, where tax must be paid…it all adds up.

A good mezcal is going to run you about $35-$40 dollars (note, not a bad mezcal, not a stupendous mezcal, but a solid bottle). For a superior mezcal, you’re looking at closer to $50-$70. And a rare, extraordinary mezcal is going to run you $80 – $100+. (Cheap mezcal is the one with the worm in it and is garbage – we’re not talking about those here.)

A final consideration in expense, and an important one, is the agave used to make the mezcal. As mentioned earlier, most mezcals are made from Espadín. This is because Espadín matures relatively quickly (5-7 years) and has a hefty yield. A single Espadín piña will make about 15 liters of finished spirit. A mezcal made from the small, wild-growing Tobala agave is going to be much more expensive. Tobala takes closer to 25 years to mature, and each piña yields a mere liter. Due to it’s small size and concentration of flavors, Tobala is often referred to as the ‘King of Agave’ because the Mezcals it produces are so darned tasty.

Is Tobala better than Espadín? Is Espadín from southern Oaxaca better than an Espadín made in San Luis Potosi? No! They are merely different, and just like anything else, people like what they like. That doesn’t make them wrong or right, better or worse. Tobala is more expensive because it’s harder to find and produces smaller quantities, but that doesn’t preclude that any mezcal made from Espadín is inferior in any way.

To help you on your road to discovery, we’ll be featuring a variety of mezcals at all price points. This week, we start with the unique and delightful Reyes y Cobardes mezcals, which can give you a sense of the variances in flavor that different regions and agaves can give you.

Their “Cupreata” is made by Don Rafael Cuenca, a fourth-generation mezcalero in Zitlala, Guerrero. It’s an easy and welcoming mezcal, with sweet flavors of lemon, citrus and vanilla, under a soft smoky blanket. At a relatively low 83°, it’s an excellent entryway into the world of mezcal, equally suited to sipping or mixing in a cocktail.
$34.99 (IL) through April 30th. Regularly $39.99

The Reyes y Cobardes “Duragnesis” is made by Don Jorge Garcia, a third generation mezcalero who harvests his own agave off the banks of the river on his family farm in a town with a mere 140 residents. This is an unusual mezcal, with characteristics of wet earth, a touch of funk and a cheesy-aroma which is typical of the Cenizo agave plant. It’s a great starter mezcal, especially if you’re looking to experiment with savory/smoky cocktails.
$34.99 (IL) through April 30th. Regularly $39.99

Tune in next week when we present more of our expanding mezcal selection. And if you want to geek out with us even more, stop in the store anytime to talk with our team members who’ve been bitten by the mezcal bug.

Wherever your exploration takes you, we hope you’re able to try this extraordinary spirit and find something to love. Many who develop a taste for mezcal never look back, and they never drink tequila again!

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prices subject to change

Our Top 6 Spring Wines

Channeling our inner Kevin Costner here, and putting out there that If You Drink Them, It Will Come. We’re talking spring wines and spring weather, folks. Who knows if we’re out of the snow  woods yet, but gosh darn it, we’re going to drink like we are. And here’s what we’ll be opening:
Underwood “The Bubbles” Sparkling Wine in a Can, Oregon
Oh where to start with this one. Do we talk about how cool it is to have wine in a can (great for the wine! environmentally friendly!)? Or how cool it is to have sparkling wine in a can (instant party anywhere!)? Or do we talk about just how yummy these bubbles are (oh hello ripe citrus, tropical fruit, and white flower flavors). Or, maybe we should just shut our mouths and drink it, and encourage you to do the same. (The drinking part, not the mouth-shutting part.) 
Underwood “The Bubbles Rosé” Wine in a Can, Oregon
You probably didn’t set out today looking for springtime in a can, but man did you find it. Each of these little aluminum gems are bursting with effervescent wild strawberry and tart cherry flavors that’ll make you look forward to mowing your lawn, weeding your garden, and mulching your beds. We guarantee it.
$6.99 per can (each flavor)
Boya Rosé of Pinot Noir, Chile
And now for a refreshing coastal Chilean rosé with bright raspberry and tangerine notes, and a dry, mineral-y finish. Crack open a bottle, invite friends over for freshly shucked oysters and grilled chicken and vegetables and you win. It’s a food-loving, crowd pleasing blockbuster of a wine for sure!
$15.99
Domaine d’Ourea “Tire Bouchon” Gigondas, Rhone Valley, France
Quench your thirst with this juicy, funky, deep and fascinating Grenache-based wine while you slow roast ribs or slather that chicken in barbecue sauce for the season’s first cookout. It’s all dark fruit, with an undercurrent of dried-herb earthiness and some grippy tannins that whip in at the end. It’s super stuff.
$13.99
Foris Estate Grown Pinot Noir, Rogue Valley, Oregon
We can’t stop thinking about salmon when we think of this wine! It’s an Oregonian Pinot Noir with bright Bing cherry, red plum, and floral aromas, and beautifully assimilated flavors of cherries, currant, cranberry gratin, dried strawberries, and barrel spices. Bring on spring!
$21.99
Lelievre Pinot AuxerroisCotes de Toul, Lorraine, France
No really, you need to try this wine! We are so excited about it! It’s from Lorraine, near Champagne and Chablis. Though different from those two wines, if you like them, you’ll love this, too. It’s incredibly, beautifully aromatic, and round with pear and white-fruit flavors, all brought together with a delicate acidity. It’s pure springtime in a bottle (though would be amazing with Thanksgiving dinner, too!). And did you notice the bunny on the label? Could it be more perfect for this spring and Easter? 
$18.99

Our Top 3 Wines That Just Happen To Be Kosher For Passover

It’s really quite exciting to see the year-over-year increase in the number of excellent wines available to us that just happen to be kosher for Passover. Our 2018 selection is larger than it has ever been, which made our choosing the top three a bit of a challenge. But we did it, and here they are: Our top 3 kosher wines for you this Passover season.

The Butcher’s Daughter Sparkling Muscat
Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Popping open a bottle of this bright, sweet-ish sparkling wine would be a delightful way to kick off or end all spring celebrations. It’s lovely with fresh aromas of honeysuckle, passion fruit, subtle lychee, crisp Fuji apple, and a touch of mango. And its decent acidity assures that the ripe fruit-sweetness never gets cloying. $14.99

La Citadelle de Diamant “Mademoiselle” Rosé
Upper Galilee, Israel

It’s an Israeli rosé done Provencal style and we love it. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot that delivers grapefruit & melon flavors, with a hint of lychee. Try it with fresh goat cheese drizzled with honey while you wait for your perfectly roasted herbed chicken to come out of the oven. $24.99

Guillermo De Mendoza Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina

A luscious, dark purple wine loaded with big soft fruit, and lots of blackberry & blueberry jam notes that make our mouths water for brisket or a fatty steak. There’s a touch of spice and licorice on the finish, just to keep things interesting. $10.99

Drop by the store to peruse our greatly-expanded kosher section, or call for a delivery anywhere in Rhode Island.

We wish you a kosher and joyous Passover!

3 New Irish Whiskeys

We’ve been really impressed by the number and quality of new Irish Whiskeys hitting the marketplace. We’re big fans of the stuff here at Bottles, and it’s a special day when we’re able to add new offerings to our shelves. 

If you’re new to the spirit, read our 101-style dive into the various styles of Irish Whiskey. Then, read on below to learn about the three new standouts that we’ve selected for the store.
The Sexton Irish Whiskey
Made from 100% Irish Malted Barley, The Sexton is triple distilled in copper pot stills and aged in casks formerly used to aged Oloroso sherry. It has a balance of rich, dried fruits and subtle oak notes with a smooth finish. Die-hards say the only way to enjoy it is straight. For the rest of us, The Sexton’s smooth and rich finish makes it an intriguing replacement for bourbon in a Manhattan.
On sale thru 3/31:
$24.99 (Compare to $29.99), 750ml
Redbreast Lustau Edition
This special treat spends between 9 and 12 years in bourbon and sherry casks before aging one additional year in Oloroso barrels. The result is one of the tastiest, sweet-finishing Irish offerings to come along in a while! This one won’t last! 
$69.99, 750ml
Irishman Single Malt
This is Josh’s personal choice for the holiday this year. (And Josh is a whiskey-loving  guy with strong Irish genes so we suggest listening to him.) It’s a well-developed and layered single malt that finishes with a pleasant, soft burn and drinks well beyond its price point.
$44.99, 750ml

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

prices subject to change

Why We’re Making Such a Big Deal Over the Cedar + Salmon Wines

So a few months back I got wind that there was a crew of really cool folks up in the Pacific Northwest who were about to launch a line of really cool wines. I sat forward immediately – PacNorth wines are near and dear to my heart. Specifically those that come from responsibility-minded producers, using sustainable methods to produce outstanding wines. Which these wines do.
The line is called “Cedar + Salmon,” in honor of the distinctive character of the Pacific Northwest, its spirit, and its abudant natural resources. In keeping with the region’s authenticity, these wines are made in the most natural, unadulterated ways possible: with gentle handling, hand-harvesting, minimal racking and other small-lot winemaking techniques. Only a few hundred cases of these beauties are made and man am I glad that I was able to bring some to Rhode Island. They’re really unique and exciting – particularly their Cabernet Sauvignon. Wait, Cab Sauv from Washington State, you say? Yes, I say. It’s a style that you don’t hear about often – but this team nailed it. I believe it and the others in this line may be the sleeper hits of 2018. So let’s discuss:
The Cedar + Salmon Pinot Gris was made with 100% Willamette Valley fruit from the 2016 harvest, which produced smaller quantities. Smaller yields typically lead to banner wines with lots of acidity, amazing fruit and balanced profiles. This is no exception. It’s a stunner.
$18.99 compare to $21.99
One of the things I like best about Oregon Pinots is the iron and copper profile they give off, which has everything to do with the region’s distinctive red “Jory” soil. The Cedar + Salmon Pinot Noir has a big nose of blackberries and dark berry fruit, and lots of spice and floral notes. It can lay down and age for a few years with ease.
$24.99 compare to $27.99

You really need to try the Cedar + Salmon Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State’s Horse Heaven Hills. As I alluded to before, these wines are just plain underrated. This one has solid fruit and complex tannins, rounded out with just plain awesomeness. 18 months of aging in new and neutral oak finishies this off with finesse and jam. Why yes, I will have another!

If you’re interested in learning more about these beautiful wines, swing by the store on Saturday March 10th, 2018. We’ll be opening them from 4-7pm. And if you can’t make it, just come by anytime and call out my name. You can purchase the wines exclusively in-store at Bottles through the end of the month, at the special introductory pricing above. 

Give them a try – I’d love to hear what you think!

 -Melissa
(prices subject to change)

Milk Stout & Chocolate Chip Cookies

photo credit: Stephanie Ewens

It almost seems too simple, doesn’t it. But when brainstorming on what to pair with this easy and delicious Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie from our friends at 
Easy Entertaining, we automatically went to the tried and true standards: Madeira, Port, Moscato. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of those wines, we had a head-slap moment when we remembered one of the most iconic and classic pairings of all time: milk & cookies.

Which is why we opened Hitachino’s Sweet Stout when we made the recipe, featured in the Winter issue of 
Edible Rhody. It’s a 21+ pairing of a sweet milk stout that just loves this hot-from-the-oven masterpiece.
The milk stout comes from Japan’s most acclaimed brewery, Hitachino, and unlike some popular stouts, this one has absolutely no bitterness but all lusciousness. It has notes of chocolate, roasted nuts and coffee that bring out the warmth of this simple, rustic and oh-so comforting dessert.

The Skillet Cookie was featured in Edible Rhody’s wonderful profile of local artisan Matt Cavallaro who crafts stunning cast iron cookware here in Providence via his company, 
Nest Homeware. His 4.5-inch Egg Pans are shown in the photo above. 

Visit Edible Rhody online to find 
Easy Entertaining’s recipe for these individual chocolate chip cookies a la mode, then stop in at Bottles to pick up a bottle or two of Sweet Stout.
Bon Appetit!
-Alex

The Top 7 “Unicorn” Beers

We take a lot into consideration when deciding which products to bring into our store. Of course we have all of the staples, classics and favorites to form the foundation of the Bottles beer program, but where we really have fun — and what we take great pride in — is finding the bottles that are off the beaten path, unfamiliar and unique – ‘unicorns’ if you will! We believe that bringing in these unicorn products for our customers is what sets us apart from the rest. We want to be that place where you can find that super weird thing you read about in Bon Appetit, or that your cousin heard on a rando podcast about micro brews.

Below are our 7 favorite ‘unicorn’ beers, why we’re drinking them and why you should, too. To find them, just look for the sign of the unicorn in store. (Or, ask a staff member – naturally, the unicorns can be hard to spot!)

ENJOY! -Alex

La Fleurette
This beautiful Italian pilsner is a gorgeous orangey-pink hue, and has fun tart little punches of flavor. Birrifico Italiano added roses, violets, bee honey, elderberry and black pepper (to name a few!) to this brew for pretty floral, earthy notes that will be perfect to drink this coming spring.
$6.99 

Montegioco Bran Reserva
What an intense bottle of suds we have here! This deep brown ale gets aged in Barbera wine barrels for at least six months before bottling. So you’re looking at a very rich, oaky, chocolate brew with tons of plum and raisin flavor. We recommend aging this guy for a bit to let that heat from the Barbera barrels cool off a bit. This one will be interesting to watch.
$11.99  

Proefbrouwerij and New Glarus Absolution
A really fun collaboration between Proefbrouweij and New Glarus brings us this malty Belgian Quad that is velvety smooth due to the addition of lactose. This beer is rich and woody because of its time spent in French and American oak. Get two – one to try now and one to age, and keep notes to see how it changes over time!
$22.99 

Alvinne Cuvee D’Erpigny
This ale has a little bit of everything – which makes it great for everyone! It is strong, yet dangerously easy to drink down. Its sour, but sweet like honey. There are deep, rich chocolate notes, but delicate berry flavors as well.
$8.99 

Uerige Doppelsticke
Dark brown and malty with loads of caramel and yet a slight bitterness from the hops. It is very complex, and trying it while tasting different cheeses will bring out a ton of different characteristics of the brew.
$5.99

The Bruery Mash & Vanilla
If you’re unfamiliar with Mash from The Bruery, I highly recommend checking it out. It is a sweet, oaky bourbon-barrel-aged barleywine and is super intense and rich and delicious. But it’s what they’ve done to that Mash that makes this bottle next-level. They took that super dessert-perfect barleywine and added a heap of aromatic vanilla beans. As much as this seems like something you’d want to age, drink it sooner rather than later to enjoy that fresh warmth of the vanilla.
$29.99

Apostelbraeu First Bavarian Pale Ale
In my opinion, this is the underdog of this selection. It is so no-frills delicious and approachable, but at the same time is complex and interesting if you’re looking hard enough. Light, hazy and chuggable. This would love to be on the table for BBQs, weeknight roasts and alongside salty oysters.
$6.99

Prices as of February 15, 2018 and subject to change

Melissa’s Winter Wine Picks

“This winter I want to share with you the wines that I grab when I am looking for comfort. Like the crackers you still buy when you don’t feel great. The crackers your grandmother fed you when you stayed home from school in January, that immediately made you feel better. Each of the wines are from vineyards I know well, having visited nearly all. Several of them I’ve brought into Rhode Island for the first time, and are available exclusively at Bottles. Each has left a mark on me, and I think lots of them will do the same for you. I encourage you find me to learn more about each, and to let me know what you think!” -Melissa Principe, Wine Director

Dei Rosso di Montepulciano, Italy
Dei is one of the very first vineyards I spent time at in Italy. The owners were just in the process of plotting the land for their new tasting room and winery expansion. It was not a huge winery and I can still smell the cellar where they age their wines. They produce one of the best olive oils I have ever had in my life (unfortunately, they don’t sell it outside of the vineyard). This wine is dirt and roses all at the same time. Amazing. $19.99

Villa Giada “Suri” Moscato d’Asti, Italy
I introduced you to this winery and wine last week, though because I love it so much, I’m including it here. It’s made by my friend Andrea Faccio, who owns Villa Giada. His mom happens to make amazing biscotti, and though we can’t get them here, I suggest dunking any well-made version into this wine for an authentic Italian experience. On sale through February 11, 2018: $12.99 (compare to $16.99)

Tikal “Natural” Malbec, Uco Valley, Argentina
I picked this wine because not only is it outstandingly-well made and easy to drink, but because I think a lot of us try to be healthier in the winter – at least the first few resolution-filled months of it. Tikal is hand-harvested and biodynamic. It’s made from 60% organic Malbec, 40% organic Syrah, 100% of which will change your life for the better. I met winemaker Alejandro Kuschnaroff when I visited Tikal in April 2017 – and I’m not the first nor the last to report that this talented man bears a striking resemblance to our most common representations of Jesus. Which may or may not have any bearing on your decision to buy this wine, but there it is. $23.99

Barros Ports, White, Tawny & Ruby, Douro Valley, Portugal
One of the 2018 goals of the Bottles Wine Department is to get more of you turned on to good Port. If you’ve never experienced one, you’re starving yourself and you don’t even know it. The Ports made by Barros are my favorites, and at this excellent price, you can afford to purchase without ever having tasted one before. Grab any Bottles staff member for a quick primer on these different styles, how to store, serve and enjoy. And stay tuned for upcoming Port tastings in store. $13.99 each

White Knight Prosecco, Veneto, Italy
My pick for winter bubbles is this stunner. It’s perfectly crisp and light, with a creamy mouthfeel, and balanced acidity. The bubbles are soft with an aromatic nose of apple and pineapple. I serve it to start all of my cold-weather dinner parties. Also, because it’s so light, I serve it to myself after a long day of studying. I could make some White Knight puns here, but I’ll spare you. Just buy it and enjoy. $14.99

Mayu Carmenere & Syrah Blend, Elqui Valley, Chile  
I was recently asked what my favorite pairing is. This is the wine, and I love it paired with … drumroll please … The Chicago Blend. For those of you not from Chi-Town, the blend is a mix of caramel corn and cheese popcorn. And the wine is a blend of 55% Carmenere and 45% Syrah – two big grapes that can stand up to all that flavor. The pairing is ridiculous. It’s totally goofy and it totally works. Particularly with all of the binge watching we’re all doing to escape the cold. (PS – you all told me winters here wouldn’t be as bad as they are in Chicago. Thanks for nothing.) $14.99

Mayu Pedro Ximenez, Elqui Valley, Chile
Wait..what? A still Pedro Ximenez??? Isn’t that the grape that’s usually used in sparkling Cava! Yes, yes it is, you smart thing you. And it is yummy and delightful and perfect and you should drink it. It has beautiful fruit and floral flavors, all evened out with good minerals and acidity. Branch out and try something new in 2018. Then be sure to find me and let me know what you think – I’d really love to know! $14.99

Dry Creek Heritage Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California
I love Dry Creek Vineyard! It was one of the first vineyards to go completely 100% sustainable! Oh…and the wines are stunning. I could drink their Chenin Blanc all day. But, we are talking Zinfandel here, and their Zin has some serious chops. It has a stunning depth and richness, with a long finish on the palate. There’s a pepper spice to it, too, that is not the norm in California Zinfandel, so if you’ve been a skeptic before, try this one. Scrumptious. $19.99

I truly do hope that you’ll give a few of my go-to wines a try and will let me know what you think of them. Enjoy!

prices subject to change

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The Spectacular Wines of Villa Giada

Villa Giada

We’re so excited to introduce you to the very special Villa Giada wines, which Melissa had imported into Rhode Island just for us. She visited the winery, in the northern Italian region of Piedmont, in the summer of 2017, where she spent time with winemaker and owner Andrea Faccio. To celebrate their arrival, we’ve put them on sale through February 11, 2018.

Says Melissa:

“I learned more about wine in four hours in the vineyard and cellars of Villa Giada with Andrea than I have in the past four years of my intensive wine study.  All of the Villa Giada wines are produced in small quantities, hand-harvested, and sustainable. Just five days before harvest we bounced around in his 1972 Jeep driving through the vineyards and tasting Moscato grapes. (Thankfully, there was a “hold on for dear life” handle in that Jeep.) We then spent time in his cellar, where, walking and at times crawling, I had the most meaningful lesson about WW2: Still in place was a false wall they had built to protect their wines, their history, their lineage and their way of life from the Germans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea’s 1972 Jeep

The cellar at Villa Giada

“All of Andrea’s wines are special. One of their most critically-acclaimed is the Moscato d’Asti. And truth be told, I was never really a huge fan of Moscato – it was to me just the wine my mother drinks by the bucket with ice cubes. But Andrea’s Moscato has a subtle nuance and complexity that only become more prominent once its opened. All of his wines have similar layers of interesting and alluring complexity and flavor. They really are something.”

Moscato grapes at Villa Giada

Here are the wines that Melissa brought into Rhode Island. We do hope that you’ll give them a try and will let us know what you think:

Suri Moscato d’Asti

Moscato is sweet, there’s no question about it. But the sweet in Andrea’s Moscato is like honeysuckle, not like white sugar. There is a huge difference. There’s a lightness and floral tones in the Suri’s sweetness, compared to the bracing, make-your-teeth-hurt sweetness in other Moscatos on the market today. On sale: $12.99 (regularly $16.99)

Suri Barbera d’Asti

Barbera can be really acidic depending on where it is planted. This Barbera is far more floral and has a softer mouthfeel than most at this price point. Think lavender and cocoa with a soft berry finish. On sale: $12.99 (regularly $16.99)

San Pietro Dolcetto
Oh yes please. As a grape, Dolcetto is taken for granted. Everyone kinda knows it, but really, they don’t.  This is the wine for the California Pinot Noir drinker who is looking for something different. It has spicy structured tannins, and underlying bright red berry fruit, and it finishes with happy. On sale: $12.99 (regularly $16.99)

Tre Ponti Monferrato, Nebbiolo

Unlike lots of Nebbiolos that need years of aging to be enjoyed, this bottle is ready for you tonight. Once you open it, give it some time to breath, and it will show you what it is all about. It has so many layers – it’s very complex. It lures you into letting it stay for awhile, it begs you not to finish the bottle right away. If you have patience, and are able to hold off on finishing it in one day (I can’t), you’ll enjoy its evolution for days. On sale: $19.99 (regularly $24.99)

Salut!

***prices subject to change