Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Picks: Vintages Release – January 23

Here’s my shopping list for the Vintages Release on January 23.

What am I looking for? Three things.
Organic: wines certified biodynamic or organic
Off the Beaten Track: lesser-known or underappreciated regions, varietals, or blends
Value: wines at less than $30 (More values in these picks; only one over $20)

And I try to keep the list to a dozen.


PECH MATELLES MARSELAN 2008, Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhone (France); #148684; Price: $12.95; 14.0% ABV
Certified by ECOCERT, this wine’s producer, Les Celliers du Languedoc, is like a “super organic co-operative” with fifteen producers and co-operatives in the south of France. Even more interesting, Marselan is a “new” cross of Cabernet Sauvignon & Grenache Noir and authorized for Vin de Pays in 1990. How can I say no?  Tasting Note

Off the Beaten Track

5 whites, quite a good variety:

ALAMOS TORRONTÉS 2008, Salta (Argentina); # 81539; Price: $13.95; 13.5% ABV
The Torrontes varietal is at its biggest and best in Argentina. Often compared to floral varietals like Viognier, Chenin Blanc, and Gewurztraminer, it usually has good acidity with citrus and tree fruit flavours. This one is from way up North, grown at high altitude.

LA CHABLISIENNE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008, AC SAINT-BRIS (France); # 641753; Price: $14.95; 12.5% ABV
Sauvignon Blanc from the Chablis region? Hmm, why not try it?

NASIAKOS 2008, AOC MANTINIA (Greece); # 143032; Price: $15.95; 12.5% ABV
Made with the Moscophilero varietal, it’s typically very aromatic, similar to Muscat.

SURANI PIETRARICCIA FIANO 2008, IGT Salento (Puglia, Italy); # 159582; Price: $16.95; 13.5% ABV
It’s a shame that the whites from southern Italy (Greco di Tufo is another) aren’t appreciated more. More common to Campania, this Fiano from Puglia is worth a try.  Tasting Note

REAL SITIO DE VENTOSILLA PRADO REY VERDEJO 2008, DO Rueda (Spain); # 146001; Price: $13.95; 13.5% ABV
Native to Rueda, Verdejo is characteristically aromatic and herbaceous.

And 6 reds, all from regions near the Mediterranean:

CHÂTEAU DONA BAISSAS PER DONA 2007, AC Cotes du Roussillon-Villages (France); # 151365; Price: $15.95; 14.1% ABV
A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, from next door to Languedoc and just north of Spain, which often has more influence on winemaking in Roussillon than does France.  Tasting Note

APOLLONIO VALLE CUPA 2001, IGT Salento Rosso (Puglia, Italy); # 84046; Price: $19.95; 14.5% ABV
50/50 blend of Negroamaro and Primitivo, two princes of red varietals grown in the heel of Italy’s boot. Primitivo is the same varietal as Zinfandel, one of my favourites.  Previously released in 2008.

QUINTA DO INFANTADO RED 2007, DOC Douro (Portugal); # 95158; Price: $23.95; 13.5% ABV
Another wine from Douro in northern Portugal, the region better known for port, which this producer has made for almost 200 years. The indigenous grapes were crushed by foot (yes, still happens in Douro) and fermented in traditional stone lagers.  Tasting Note

SÃO MIGUEL DAS MISSÕES RESERVA 2008, Vinho Regional Alentejano (Portugal); # 155796; Price: $15.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Touriga Nacional, Aragónes (Tempranillo) and Alicante Bouschet (a red-fleshed grape) from southeast Portugal.  Tasting Note

DOMAINE LA BOUSCADE OLD VINE CARIGNAN 2007, AC Minervois (France); # 78758; Price: $18.95; 14.6% ABV
Made from 60-year vines. The Minervois appellation is in the Languedoc region. Carignan still is the most planted grape variety in Languedoc, but it really gets no respect and winemakers traditionally use it as a blending grape. But some winemakers are trying to rescue Carignan from the depths of contempt and I discovered some great examples on my recent trip to Languedoc.

ÈTIM NEGRE 2007, DO Montsant (Spain); # 146019; Price: $14.95; 14.7% ABV
Montsant is a new wine appellation in Catalonia, next door to Priorat, known for its higher quality. This is a blend of Syrah, Garnacha, and Carignan.

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