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.

food, wine

Three Views on Wine With Oysters

Wine With OystersEveryone has a thought on what to choose when it comes to wine with oysters. I feel that you can’t go wrong with white wines that hit all points on the crisp/dry/well-chilled mark. And bubbles are always welcome to the party. But we all have our favorites.

I’m going to go with the 2010 Pepiere Muscadet Clos des Briords.  A lovely, single-vineyard old-vine Muscadet from France’s Loire Valley. This wine was born to be consumed with bivalves. It’s a got a bit more richness and texture than your average Muscadet. And you can get it in magnums! What’s not to love about that? For bubbles, I’m sticking to the Loire and recommending any high-quality Cremant or sparkling wine from that region.

As the European wine buyer here at Esquin, I hope you can forgive me for showing my French bias. But in the interest of highlighting local wines to go with local oysters, I have consulted two bastions of Pacific Northwest wine for their two cents’ (two half shells’?) worth:

  • Clive Pursehouse of the Northwest Wine Anthem: “For Oregon wines that match up well with your favorite shellfish acid is king, and some of the beautiful dry Rieslings from Oregon’s Willamette Valley certainly fit the bill.  You don’t have to go far into the Valley to come across some beautiful cool climate Rieslings with some of the acidity, balance, and zest to properly pair with oysters. You’ll find wonderful examples in the northern end in Chehalem Mountain or Yamhill-Carlton. One example is the Trisaetum Coast Range Vineyard Dry Riesling; it delivers with zesty spice and green apple tartness.  Brilliant acidity brings this Riesling to a beautiful crescendo.”
  • Sean Sullivan of the Washington Wine Report: “The 2010 vintage in Washington saw the type of cool conditions and high acid that leads to fantastic white wines, and particularly wines that go with oysters. Two of my favorites from the 2010 vintage are the Cadaretta SBS and Guardian Cellars Angel Sauvignon Blanc. The 2010 Cadaretta SBS–a blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon–has a full, rounded feel, with white grapefruit flavors and tart, mouthwatering acidity. Guardian Cellar’s 2010 Angel Sauvignon Blanc is barrel-fermented, giving the wine a textured feel to balance it’s racy acidity. Both simply should not be consumed without an oyster shell in hand.”

So what is your pick for oysters? I’m always looking for a new wine to enjoy with oysters. And if it requires more research by the dozen, so be it.

wine with oystersThanks to Taylor Shellfish Farms in the Melrose Market and my host Jon Rowley for providing the oysters and the inspiration. (Well, oysters for me. Clive and Sean, I owe you a dozen. Each.) View the winners from Taylor Shellfish’s oyster wine competition.


Our Fall Sampler is Here!

Fall leaves

We’ve selected an eclectic, interesting, and tasty roster of a dozen wines for our ever-popular sampler. Take a look at our selections below with tasting notes and food pairings. Pick up a case today!

Buried Cane Pinot Grigio (Washington)

Zesty and vibrant, with floral and tropical aromas, followed by peach and lemon fruit flavors. A note of pear and spice adds complexity. Enjoy with grilled lemon prawns.

Arabella Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa)

Complex green grassy nose with passion fruit, guava and pear aromas. Gooseberry and tropical flavors on a full, rich palate with a long sweet-fruited finish. Delicious with fresh cheeses or sugar snap salad.

Domaine Maby Cotes du Rhone Blanc “Variations” (France)

Primarily Grenache Blanc blended with Picpoul and Clairette. White flower and bright peach scents start you off. The palate is a medley of tropical and pitted fruit flavors finishing with a delicious crispness. Try this with white fish topped with mango sauce.

Viano Chardonnay (California)

A nicely balanced, gently oaked Chardonnay from Contra Costa County. Ripe notes of apple, pear and allspice lead to a beautiful mouthful of fruit where tropical flavors emerge. All nicely accented with toast and cream. Serve with rosemary orange roast chicken.

Fiefs Les d’Anglars Cahors Malbec (France)

From the home of Malbec, where it is produced to reflect the true dark essence of the grape. This wine has fruity aromas of blackberries joining harmoniously with the mocha tannins. Fantastic served with beef pot roast.

Los Ailos Syrah Tannat (Argentina)

The addition of Tannat to this blend adds texture to the bright Syrah fruit. The wine is lush with deep berry, black pepper spice and subtle herb. The tremendous depth of this wine make it a great accompaniment to smoked meats, rich red sauces and savory beef dishes.

Cardiff Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

This Cali Cab will draw you in with aromas of blackberry cobbler. The palate continues with plum, vanilla and allspice. Serve this with a top loin of beef or a savory lamb stew.

Ch. St. Louis la Pedrix Costieres de Nimes (France)

A tasty blend of Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. Ripe, fresh fruit scents lead you to mouthfilling flavors of ripe raspberry and plum with subtle smoky notes. Serve with sirloin burgers.

La Radela Tempranillo (Spain)

A dark ruby colored delight from the famed wine region of Rioja. Cherries, raspberries, minerals and earth combine to perfection. Elegantly intense and intriguingly complex. Try this paired with herbed roast pork tenderloin.

JP Azeitão Tinto Red (Portugal)

A fruity modern-styled blend of Castelao, Aragonez and Syrah. Intense aromas of black cherry, damson, spicy licorice and subtle smoky notes. Robust and flavorful with forest berries and delicious texture. This would be great with roast beef.

Zolo Malbec (Argentina)

Malbec with a deep purple color, with a high intensity of black fruits, raspberries, and violets. Spices play on the palate of fruit, combining with sweet earth and plum. The rich and spicy character of this wine make it a great match for BBQ Ribs.

Stella Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (Italy)

Serve up your favorite recipe of lasagna with this red. Black cherry aromas are highlighted by dark chocolate and soft leather notes. The palate has a traditional rustic style, with true Italian texture running through the dark fruit flavors.

France, red wine, wine

Powerhouse Cotes du Rhone

Andezon Cotes du RhoneCotes du Rhone has been a go-to wine for me for years. It’s always an inexpensive, safe bet. There’s a lot of good examples I try regularly, but what does it take to stand out from the pack? Well, you’ve got to have some serious sizzle. I found it in the 2010 Andezon Cotes du Rhone.

The first thing that caught my attention about the Andezon (after realizing that it did not actually say Amazon) was the blend. Most Cotes du Rhones tend to be very Grenache-intensive. The Andezon,  however, is almost exclusively Syrah. (90% if you must know.) It reminds me of another favorite Cotes du Rhone, the Saint Cosme, which is an all-Syrah standout.

This is a big, brawny red. It doesn’t get it’s muscle from oak, though. The Andezon is fermented old-school, in concrete tanks. It’s delicious on it’s own but if you wondering what goes best with this delicious red, I’d say pair this bruiser with a bacon cheeseburger. Or anything you can eat with one hand so as not to obstruct a clear path to your glass.