Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Picks: Vintages Release -- February 20

Here’s my shopping list for the Vintages Release on February 20.

What am I looking for? Three things.
Organic: wines certified biodynamic or organic
Off the Beaten Track: lesser-known or underappreciated varietals and blends, or regions
Value: wines at less than $30 (OK, I break the rule once here)
And I try to keep the list to a dozen.

Bit of a stretch here, as neither of these wines has achieved certification, although both claim to use organic methods.

DOMAINE FERRER-RIBIÈRE TRADITION 2007, AC Cotes du Roussillon (France); #148627; Price: $16.95; 13.5% ABV
Starting with the 2007 vintage, this winemaker converted to organic winemaking, using biodynamic methods, although, to my knowledge, they haven’t yet achieved certification. This wine is a blend of Syrah (40%), Grenache (30%), Carignan (20%) and Mourvèdre (10%).  Tasting Note

LA PIEVE CHIANTI 2007, DOCG Chianti (Italy); #161851; Price: $15.95; 13.5% ABV
Chianti, outside Chianti Classico, can still include white varietals; this wine is a blend of Sangiovese (80%), Canaiolo (15%) and Malvasia (5%). Uses organic methods, but doesn’t have any formal certification.  Tasting Note

Off the Beaten Track
We’ll start with 4 whites, from 4 different countries, using 4 different varietals:

VINELAND ESTATES ST. URBAN RIESLING 2007, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula (Ontario); #38117; Price: $20.00; 9.0% ABV
It’s great to find a very light-bodied Riesling. Maybe one to tuck away for summer on the patio.

DOMÄNE WACHAU TERRACES GRÜNER VELTLINER 2008, Austria; #155812; Price: $15.95; 12.0% ABV
If you haven’t tried GV, here’s a good place to start. Typically, GV has great fruit and minerality, complemented by crisp acidity.

MASSERIA ALTEMURA FIANO 2008, IGT Salento (Italy); #159475; Price: $13.95; 12.5% ABV
Another example of the unusual (and delicious) whites from southern Italy. This one’s from Puglia.

AGNUSDEI ALBARIÑO 2008, DO Rias Baixas (Spain); #146241; Price: $17.95; 12.5% ABV
Ah, wonderful Albarino! Grown in northwest Spain near the ocean, perfect with seafood. If you prefer, tuck it away for summer.

I don’t usually highlight chardonnay, but I do like to identify chards from lesser-known regions. Here are two from the extreme ends of Burgundy:

CROIX DE MONTCEAU ST-VÉRAN 2008, AC St-Véran (France); #159046; Price: $21.95; 13.0% ABV
Here’s a chardonnay from the southern (more affordable) end of Burgundy, just before you reach Beaujolais. If you like white Burgundy but shudder at the price, try this one.

DOMAINE CHEVALLIER CHABLIS 2007, AC Chablis (France); #112227; Price: $22.95; 12.2% ABV
Yes, another chardonnay from Burgundy but this time from the northern end. I love a Chablis with the classic (for me) steely minerality that goes so well with oysters. But too many Chablis now spend too much time in oak, robbing Chablis of its wonderful crispness. This one is aged 75% in stainless steel and 25% oak. Not perfect, but I’ll take it!

Now the reds, staying in Burgundy for the first one:

ANDRÉ DELORME LE MEIX RULLY 2007, AC Rully (France); #158956; Price: $21.95; 13.0% ABV
We went off the beaten track in Burgundy for some whites; now here’s a Pinot Noir. Rully is in the Cote Chalonnaise, south of the pricey Cote de Beaune section. Drink now.

DOMAINE DU GRAPILLON D'OR 1806 GIGONDAS 2007, AC Gigondas (France); #981787; Price: $31.95; 14.5% ABV
Looking for a “bargain” from the stunning 2007 vintage? Gigondas lives in the shadow of Chateauneuf-du-Pape so it’s a place to find the same style and quality at a smaller price. This wine is a blend of Grenache and Syrah.

CELLER PIÑOL SENORA DEL PORTAL 2007, DO Terra Alta (Spain); #146183; Price: $19.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of 20 % each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Merlot, Syrah, and Tempranillo. Modern approach, but it’s from a favourite region (Cataluña), so worth a try.

DUQUE DE MEDINA GRAN RESERVA 2000, DO Cariñena (Spain); #148494; Price: $19.95; 13.7% ABV
Gran Reserva usually means that this wine aged a minimum of 2 years in oak and the winemaker released it at least 6 years after the vintage (although the rules vary from one region to another within Spain). It’s not for everyone, as the fruit tends to be less forward, but other aromas, especially leather, come to the fore. I love it. This is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Cariñena.

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