Thomas Goss Shiraz and BBQ Brisket

When you meet Ben Riggs, after you get over the sheer size of the him, you see a man who is seems very comfortable in his own skin – a guy who would be as comfortable in a board room, a lab or a vineyard. But, talking to Ben you soon figure out that Ben sees himself primarily as a farmer.

Ben Riggs is one of the most sought after wine-making consultants in Australia. He has help craft wine in France, Napa, Greece and Italy. For a relatively young man, (let say around my own age.) he clocked in more than 42 vintages, 14 at the helm of his own winery in Wirra Wirra in McLaren Vale. Ben’s wines have won many awards and top scores in the media, he has twice been named Winemaker of the Year Gourmet Magazine (2005 & 2013).

Shiraz is Ben’s first love, McLaren Vale, Shiraz’s spiritual home, is Ben’s other love, and it is this dual passion that drives him to champion McLaren Vale Shiraz on a global scale.
2014 Thomas Goss Shiraz McLaren Vale $14.99

“An attractive, bright and clearly defined shiraz that offers up the full array of red to dark summer berry fruits, some plum too. All coached in attractive spicy mocha-scented oak. Balanced, ready to drink.”
91 points – James Suckling

The Shiraz grapes used to make this wine have been sourced from select vineyards in McLaren Vale including those planted on the original Goss property. McLaren Vale has one of the most consistent climates in which to grow premium wine grapes, particularly Shiraz.

The wine is made by Ben Riggs and Alexia Roberts, this wine has a long, soft and juicy palate and lush mouth-feel, bursting with blackberry, blueberry jam and licorice. This wine guarantees a true Australian Shiraz experience.


1 beef brisket (9-11 lb) Mesquite Charcoal 4 onces soaked wood chips in foil pouch

Rub: 2 tbsp. salt 2 tbsp. dry mustard 2 tbsp. cracked black pepper 2 tbsp. brown sugar 2 tbsp. Chili powder

Wrap 1 cup apple cider 4 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Barbecue sauce 1 each Onion, diced 1 clove Garlic, Minced 2 cup Apple Cider ½ cup Cider Vinegar ½ cup Brown Sugar 1 cup Ketchup 1 cup Stone Ground Mustard 1 Tbsp. Tabasco 1 tbsp. Chili Powder

1. Clean brisket of any excess fat and silver skin.

2. Combine seasoning for rub.

3. Rub brisket with seasoning and let come to room temperature (1 hr.)

4. Light mesquite and move coals to one side of barbecue place wood chip pouch on coals.

5. When coals are ready place brisket on grill turning regularly.

6. After 30 to 40 minutes’ move brisket to cool side of grill, close and let smoke for 2 hours turning brisket regularly.

7. Remove brisket to roasting pan, add cider and Worchester, cover with foil.

8. Place in 250-degree oven for 4 -5 hours.

9. For Sauce: In bowl of blender combine onion, garlic and apple cider. Puree.

10. Add remaining ingredients and pulse

11. Pour into a sauce pan and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes

12. Remove brisket from oven and let rest for 30 minutes.

13. Drain liquid from pan.

14. Place brisket on cutting board and slice against grain.

15. Serve with Barbecue sauce.


Featured Winery ~ Renacer

Renacer’s vineyards are located in Perdriel, a unique zone in Mendoza, Argentina, where the soil, altitude, climate and water come together to create the perfect growing environment for Malbec.

Through hundreds of years of trial-and-error experimentation, winemakers noticed that certain areas within a single vineyard produce grapes with different characteristics than other areas within that same vineyard. Fruit from one section within one vineyard, farmed the same way, harvested at the same time by the same method, and produced into wine with the same technique, can be dramatically different! The soils play a significant role in these differences for each unique terroir within a vineyard.

Due to natural geological processes, soil properties can vary over distances as small as a few meters. Recognition of these small-scale variations within a vineyard can lead to wines that better reflect the terroir.

Renacer’s modern and sophisticated winery produces well-crafted, enjoyable wines that offer tremendous value and garner praise from industry critics and publications worldwide, most notably Wine Spectator and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.


Cabernet Sauvignon ’14
$8.99 / btl – save $5
New! Aromas of blackberries and cassis with a touch of spice. On the palate, notes of vanilla and sweet spice lead to flavors of juicy black cherries and plums. Elegant with a lingering finish and a bright acidity.
Malbec ’15
$8.99 / btl – save $5
90 Tim Atkin, Beautiful aromas of red currants, blackberries, and plums, with notes of pepper and clove. Black cherries and juicy plums fill the mouth leading to a bold lingering finish.
Malbec Reserva ’13
$18.99 / btl – save $3
90 Suckling! A deep ruby red color with violet highlights. On the nose, a combination of red and black fruit aromas mingle with earthy mineral and floral notes highlighted by sweet spice and vanilla. Black raspberry and plum flavors dominate the palate along with more subtle flavors of tangy cherries, vanilla, and mocha. The sweet tannins carry through to the long, robust finish.



House of Independent Producers

The House of Independent Producers is a project of Christophe Hedges from Hedges Family Wines. Its purpose is to showcase varietal character and terroir with single vineyard wines from Washington’s greatest vineyards at incredibly affordable prices.We’re pleased to be showcasing two releases this month that will surprise and delight you.


2014 Cabernet Sauvignon.

This Cabernet is sourced from the great Sagemoor Farms Vineyard in the Columbia Valley whose fruit is found in  the far more expensive wines of Corliss, Delille, Abeja and Woodward Canyon, to name a few. Christophe’s goal here is to display Cabernet’s world class power and structure, rather than produce a mere simple fruit bomb often found at this amazingly low price.

2012 Merlot

This Merlot is from the prized Bacchus Vineyard, a sister vineyard to Sagemoor, with its commanding view of the Columbia River and the Rattlesnake Hills. Merlot is the most widely planted grape in Bordeaux and a major part of blends like Lafite, Mouton and all the other 1st Growths. Merlot endows its wines with fleshiness, black cherry/black plum fruit and soft, supple tannins.

Both HIP 2012 Merlot and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon are priced at $9.99 a bottle, with a $5 savings, and can be purchased in our shop or online.


Athenee Imports & New Wines of Greece


Rocky, steep slope of Robola at high elevation on the island of Cephalonia

Esquin Wine Buyer Jeff Fournier recently took a two-week trip to Greece with Athenee Imports to gain more in-depth knowledge on one of the world’s most ancient wine regions. Here’s some of what he found.


I was impressed with the diversity of climate and terrain. Many people think of Greece and imagine white beaches and bright blue waters but there is a lot more to this beautiful country. More than half of Greece is mountains and I drove and wound thru a lot of them. But let’s start with my first stop. After flying into Athens and a walk up to the Acropolis we headed for the island of Crete the next day.


Slate from Karavitakis Vineyard

Crete is the southern most of the islands and the largest. We feasted on fish soup, sea urchin and octopus, and drank wines from the Karavitakis Winery. We had a Malvasia Aromatica, A Vidiano & Assyrtiko blend, and The Little Prince, which can be found here at Esquin which is 65% Viana and 35% Vidano for around $12. All of these wines had bright acidity with lemon-lime zest and of course the savory richness in the Assyrtiko. Check out these pictures of the slate in my hand and the rocky soils that provide the bright acidity in these wines.

The next day took us to the far north and the town of Drama. We visited cool-climate vineyards close to the Albanian border and the Pavlidiis Winery, which sits in a valley surround by mountains that was once a lake. Old boat anchors have been found in the hills. The vineyards are planted to Agiorgitiko, Tempranillo and Syrah for reds and Assyrtiko, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for whites. We have a couple here at Esquin and the wines tend to be sophisticated and elegant with a modern flare.

Next stop, and one of my favorites, was the northern town of Naoussa and biodynamic producer Thymiopoulos Winery. The vineyards are cultivated biodynamic and are certificated organic. The soils have dark-green granite, light green schist and lime stone with cover crops of wild chamomile, clover, grass and wild roses. These mountain vines are 50 years old see pictures below. Xinomavro is the focus here and Thymiopoulos’ could be a good ringer in a Nebbiolo blind tasting. This is a very small winery that uses only wild yeast fermentation, no inoculation. Check out the Young Vines Wine in the store now at $17.99.


Old vines and cover crops in Thymiopoulos’ vineyard


Light green schist and cover crops in Thymiopoulos’ vineyards


Mercouri Estate Foloi

Another one of my favorites is the Mercouri Estate, on the western coast of the Peloponnese, near ancient Olympia. Mercouri has a section of 140 year old Refosco vines in front of the winery. There are three wines currently here in the store you may recognize: the Foloi Label, always a favorite, blended with 90% Roditis and 10% Viognier for complexity. Check out the Domaine Mercouri and the Mercouri Cava. Both are blended with around 80% Refosco and 20% Mavrodaphne. Ask me about them next time you are in the store.

Next, a ferry ride to the island of Cephalonia and some fabulous Robola grown at high elevation on steep slopes from the Gentilini Winery. We have the Cellar Selection here in the store. This wine has citrus dry white flowers, thyme and herbs with chamomile. Check out these pictures of the rocky soils, wild thyme.


Wild thyme in the Robola vineyards of Cephalonia



Pumice stones from Santorini

Last but not least, everyone’s favorite the island of Santorini. The eruption that created Santorini was the second largest known on the planet, only to Krakatoa, and created a tsunami estimated between 150 to 500 ft. that destroyed Crete, and some believe caused the destruction of Atlantis, if it actually existed. Volcanic soils filled with pumice stones give these wines bright acidity. After a scary plain landing because of the wind, I now realize why the grapes are grown close to the ground. The method of coiling the vines is called Koulura, a technique I have never seen before and unique to Santorini.


I visited two brilliant wineries. First, Estate Argyros – we have two wines in the store right now, which are the Atlantis red and white. For $21, the red is 90% Mandilria and 10% Mavrotragano. It is fruity with good tannin and spice. The white is Aidani and Athiri, it is bright with lemon blossom and great with seafood. My favorite is the Aidani, a rare indigenous variety with tropical notes scented herbs and flowers but very dry. I hope to have it in the store soon.

Next off to the Gaia Winery. We carry the Thalassitis Assyrtiko, beautifully rich and complex with tropical fruit and alittle spice at $29.99. My favorite, the wild ferment Assyrtiko has more complex layers of fruit, spice and earthly minerals for $33.99. Gaia also makes a good Retsina that is 100% Roditis with a delicate balance of the pine resin that goes great with garlic sauce. And for red, we carry the Agiorgitiko, good fruit nice peppery notes, a little like Sangiovese but not as tannic and with more spice at $23.99.

Look me up next time you’re in the store and looking for Greek wines, I’ll be happy to talk with you!

-Jeff Fournier, Wine Buyer.

Italy, Lacrima, Marche

Azienda Agricola Mario Lucchetti


In the world of wine that at times seems overwhelming in its complexity from the number of varietals, ever-changing rules, new and evolving appellations, wine styles, trends and so on, Italy may pose the greatest challenge. Spend some time unlocking some of its mysteries, however, and you’ll be endlessly rewarded.


A case in point is the relatively obscure grape named Lacrima, an indigenous varietal of the Marche region of Italy’s eastern coast. Lacrima translates as ‘tears’, the moniker supposedly earned by the variety’s tendency to release droplets of juice through the thin skin of fully ripe grapes when they inevitably rupture. It is almost entirely found in the DOC Lacrima di Morro d’Alba and owes much to local producer Mario Lucchetti, who played a pivotal role in its survival and modern day renaissance.

Azienda Agricola Mario Lucchetti is the third-generation estate that he helms alongside son Paolo, daughter-in-law Tiziana and acclaimed winemaking consultant Alberto Mazzoni. It now produces four separate iterations of Lacrima, including ultra small quantities of a highly sought after Amarone-styled example, as well as a Verdicchio on 34 acres that Mario began planting in the early 1980s.

We were able to sit and taste through the current vintage of Mario Lucchetti wines with Paolo and Tiziana a couple of months back prior to their release. It feels like we’ve been waiting a lifetime for these wines to arrive – that’s how much we enjoyed them.

paolo and tiziana

Paolo and Tiziana Lucchetti

As we quizzed them on farming and winemaking techniques, the pair repeatedly stressed the hands-on, small scale approach they take in every aspect of production, from employing hand harvesting to ensure optimum selection to using only organic treatments and forbidding the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides altogether. They use nothing but ambient yeasts and renounce the use of oak, or other grapes for that matter, in order to showcase 100% Lacrima at it’s unmasked best. This is worth noting in a DOC which allows blending of up to 15% of Montepulciano or Verdicchio to help round out a vintage.

Light to medium-bodied, Lucchetti’s reds are perfect summertime wines that will pair nicely with lighter fare, outdoors on one of Seattle’s warmer afternoons, perhaps with a slight chill on them. And don’t be fooled – these wines do have some aging potential (3-6 years). They’re also priced fantastically, so don’t be shy about grabbing a bottle or three next time you’re in the store. Give them a shot and let us know what you think!

Cabernet Franc, France, loire

Domaine de la Pépière ‘Cuvee Granit’ VdP Loire ’14

PepiereThis little gem was recently brought to our attention, and wow – what a find. Domaine de la Pépière is in the Muscadet country in Nantes, in the western part of the Loire. Now, Muscadet is known for its white wines but here’s to hoping this lovely little red gets other vignerons in the area thinking outside the box a bit.

Cuvée Granit is a blend of Cab Sauvignon, Côt (aka Malbec), and Cab Franc on a vineyard with south-western exposure that is strewn with granite – hence the name. The other red vines are still relatively young, but the Cab Franc vines clock in at an impressive (for the area at least) 40+ years old.

Incredibly bright and focused, both on the nose and the palate, the wine showed off fresh notes of raspberry, cranberry, white pepper and pomegranate with enough darker, riper fruits on the finish to keep you interested coming back for more. Lots of minerality, as would be expected considering the soil, with a touch of smokiness and a hint of roasted peppers.

There’s clear structure to the wine and given time, this will settle down from its youthful pep into a very versatile food wine for the summer months. Serve this at cellar temperature when the weather warms back up and you’ll be the hit of the party.

rosé, Uncategorized

Do you drink pink?

IMAG3674Normally, we would feel like we were just settling in to summer… but it seems like every year, our summer starts a little earlier.  Whether its the anticipation of  fresh rosé arriving, or the weather changing sooner (like a June summer!  What?) or the anticipation of vacations! Either way, we are seeing an increase in people that drink pink every year and we are thrilled.  Rosé isn’t what it used to be.  It’s not your grandma’s jug in the fridge (not that there’s anything wrong with that Grandma! <wink>).  We see rosé coming from all over the world now and at many different price levels. So the two questions we hear all the time are…does price matter and is darker really sweeter?

Here’s the thing. Don’t be afraid of affordable wine! Sure. Price CAN matter. But as with anything, you can find a great wine to fit your budget. And when the occasion allows itself, you can surely find one to spoil your palate.  We are firm believers in quality to price ratio.  And we truly believe you can find an affordable every day Rosé and you can find that incredible pale Tavel you keep hearing about, and splurging on it…is ok!

‘Its dark! It must be sweet!”. We’ve heard this countless times and sure. Some of the dark rosé’s are sweeter. But its not always the rule. If you aren’t sure, check the alcohol level…the color comes from skin contact, so its not always a sure fire way to know. Look for a rosé over 12%…

But.  When in doubt…ask us!  That’s what we are here for!  And we love talking about wine!

Here are a few favorite’s this season:

Esquin Exclsive: 2014 Clos Alivu Rosé, Corsica ~ $18.99/bottle

Hot Seller: 2014 La Spinetta Rosato, Italy ~ $19.99/bottle

Fresh off the boat!: 2014 Serpolet  Rosé, France ~ $12.99/bottle (this sexy little bottle come in…well, just that!  a little bottle!  375ml available for only $9.99! 

Esquin’s Rhapsody of Rosé Sampler: 6 bottles to try! only $59.99