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A Grape of Many Hats [and a $1 bottle!]

Every time I open my wardrobe, I am struck by what an awful lot of hats I've got. A glance out the window will lead to a good rummage to find the right hat for the weather and the occasion. It could be a Panama to shade my wilting brow, or a Cornish fisherman's hat for a night of singing sea shanties at the Pelican Inn, and of course a waxed Barbour to walk the dogs in the most appalling of storms. The list goes on.

And yes, figuratively, I've worn many hats over the years in the wine business too, from sommelier, to winemaker, to chef, to entrepreneur -- so I do love a grape that follows my spirit. This week's wines are made from grapes that can wear many hats. While they are often associated with off-dry or sweet wines, they also make fantastic dry wines. My advice to you is, don't be too fast to judge varietals or styles because you may be spoiling a wonderful experience.


Dry Riesling has always existed, but these days more and more producers are focusing on the dry expression, which can be so complex and refreshing. This is a wonderful example from the Ecker-Eckhof Estate in the Wagram region of Austria on the banks of the Danube. Winemaker Bernard Ecker follows a family tradition of winemaking that dates back to 1580. Today, Bernard and his partner Alexandra farm 24 acres of grapes in the region's famous loess soils formed from deposits of the primordial sea. The family has intuitively used natural farming practices for generations, and will soon have their organic certification. This white is crisp, bright, and layered, with notes of honeysuckle, citrus fruits, dried hay and apricot skins. We drank this over a few days, and have to say it just got better and better as the flavors unfolded.


Try a bottle of the Loewen off-dry Riesling for $1 when you order six or more bottles of wine.


Our eyes all lit up when we took the first sip of this off-dry Riesling. When the balance of sugars and acids are just right, like this one, it dances on your palate. From the famous Riesling region of Mosel, Germany, the Loewen Spätlese Riesling is made from old vines on high altitude slopes, adding a wonderful depth and minerality. This is a truly mouth-watering glass full of apricots, peaches, spritely citrus and herbs, with a finish that lingers. Lower alcohol (8.5%) makes it oh so easy to sip all day in the sun. Try it as a refreshing aperitif with aged prosciutto and ripe melon, serve with a juicy pork loin, or simply open a chilled bottle to enjoy on the patio with friends. We know off-dry may be out of your comfort zone. We are so enthusiastic about opening our Wine Friends' eyes to exciting wines that we will add a bottle to your orders this week for $1 (use this link to add to your basket). Come on -- you have no excuse not to try it!!

Mavrodaphne is native to the Peloponnese Islands in Greece, and often used to make sweet wines like Port -- but not always. It can also be dry, like this one. Brothers Panagiotis and Konstantinos Koukos started planting vines on their family land in the 1990s. Their vineyard is surrounded by olive trees, fruit trees, and pastures, and is one of the only vineyards in the area. The brothers saw great potential for vines and have indeed struck gold. The Greek tradition of aging in clay amphorae is often considered to create a pure flavor. This is a serious red wine full of fresh berries and a certain honeyed nature that is so delicious. Greece continues to be a source of wines that are just a treat for the price point. Drink with a spicy tomato pasta or mediterranean-style lamb.

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