It is always a great evening when we can be with The Caller and his wife. He received the nom de plume of The Caller, from the early days of my writing this blog, as he was always sending me messages about which wine, while they were out and about, especially when he was on the road for business. They live out in the hinterland, in fact, Google-Earth or any of the other road apps start questioning where in the world you are, when you start the return trip home. We try to find someplace interesting and in between our two homes, with the criteria being that the establishment has good food and they have good wines.
We found ourselves back at Arta’s in Brighton, Michigan and the place is easy to miss, as it is in a medical center complex and looks more like a family lunch restaurant compared to a fine dining establishment; looks can be deceiving. The restaurant opens at five in the evening, but we found out the last time, that the bar is open earlier and we ended up having cocktails to start the evening off. We finally got to our table and we started off having some appetizers like Carpaccio di Filetto, soups and salads. The entrée orders were mixed and so I thought just a couple of different wines that could be enjoyed several ways, so one white and one red. The Caller had shown me a wine that they had on one of their many adventures from a volcanic island in the Canary Islands. For the white wine we had Varvaglione 12 e Mezzo Malvasia Bianca Del Salento IGT Fashion Label 2020. Varvaglione Vigne & Vini srl was established in 1921, located in Puglia and the produce a wide array of assorted wines under multiple DOC and IGT designations; and they are one of the oldest wineries in southern Italy and are now in their fourth generation. They have one-hundred-fifty hectares of vineyards, and they also have contracts with many of the other vineyards in the area and they specialize in predominately Italian varieties. Salento IGT is the most commonly used designation in Puglia and technically encompasses all wine types produced, as there are over fifty different varieties that are accepted for the region. Malvasia Bianca is grown across Italy and is known by various local names and is often blended as well. The fruit undergoes Maceration and Initial Fermentation in the first twenty-four hours in Stainless Steel and then continues aging for a short period after, to maintain the fruit flavor of the wine. This very pale-yellow wine offers notes of stone fruit and soft florals. On the palate, soft fruit and flowers, with a balanced natural acidity and a pleasant finish of limestone.
For the entrée choices, it was seafood, but it was mentioned that some would prefer red to white with their choices. There was Grilled Bronzini, Classical interpretation of Mussels, and Lobster in a Saffron Crème. So, the hunt was on for a more subtle red wine. We had a bottle of Arnaud Lambert “Breze” Clos Mazurique – Monopole Saumur 2020 and the wine used to go by the name of Chateau de Breze. Arnaud Lambert calls himself a “winegrower in Breze” and a “Loire craftsman.” Yves Lambert created the domaine in 1996, with the desire to exploit the terroir of Saumur-Champigny for both Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc. Arnaud joined his father in 2005 and in 2009 began their goal of working organically and they also acquired eight plots in the Monopole of the commune of Breze. Saumur Rouge is the appellation for the area around Saumur in the central Loire Valley and Cabernet Franc, must be at least eighty-five percent of the wine, but in practice the wine is usually unblended. The age of the vines in Breze are about forty years of age. The Maceration, Initial and Malolactic Fermentation are done in Stainless Steel, followed by some aging in Concrete vats. The wine had a deep-red color and offered notes of red and black fruits, smoke and spices. On the palate very subtle notes of fresh plums and currants, with a smoky presence, and dry tannins with a softer interpretation of a Cabernet Franc and a nice finish of limestone terroir.
While the others were sharing assorted desserts, I decided to share some of my liquid dessert. I indulged in a glass of W&J Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Porto Douro Valley NV. Graham’s is a prominent Port house in the Douro Valley and originally began as a textile company and were established in 1820. They received a barrel of Port as payment for a debt, and the business began, and they are now owned by the Symington family of Dow’s and Warre’s. They have a fine offering of assorted classic Porty wines, vintage and non-vintage. The seven major varieties found in Port wines are: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinto Cao, Sousao, Tinta Amarela, and Mourisco Tinto. The old barrels as they aged ended up having from one to six grapes drawn on them indicating complexity, structure and balance and some of the barrels were destined for vintage port. Six Grapes is a reserve port that is bottled younger and it has become their signature reserve port. This deep ruby-red wine after its two years in seasoned casks offers notes of blackberries, cassis and licorice. On the palate, the fresh fruit and subtle spices just beckon one to sit back and enjoy the smokiness, the velvety tannins and finish that even evokes chocolate and terroir to me. The perfect way to end the evening, until our next dinner.