Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Picks: Vintages Release -- March 20

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

What am I looking for? Three things.
Organic: wines certified biodynamic or organic
Off the Beaten Track: lesser-known or underappreciated traditional varietals and blends, or regions
Value: good wines at less than $30

And I try to keep the list to a dozen.


FROG'S LEAP SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008, Rutherford (California); #966036; Price: $29.95; 12.7% ABV
Frog's Leap has been farming organically since 1988. It’s 100% SB, organically grown without irrigation, 100 percent stainless steel fermented and aged. The alcohol is kept low (for California), the acidity high, with a crisp texture. Sounds like they let the wine do the talking.

Off the Beaten Track

Some whites…

GRAND FIEF DE LA CORMERAIE MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE SUR LIE 2008, AC Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie (France); #81745; Price: $13.95; 12.0% ABV
Get yourself a few dozen oysters and enjoy! The Melon de Bourgogne varietal gives us the Muscadet from the western Loire. Somewhat obscure but I know it has its fans out there. The winemakers suggest cellaring until 2011 but it's good right now.

SOGRAPE MORGADIO DA TORRE ALVARINHO 2008, DOC Vinho Verde (Portugal); #960955; Price: $17.95; 12.0% ABV
Alvarinho is the same grape as Albariño, grown in the same area except that it’s on the Portuguese side of the border. Grill some sardines and you’re all set. Don’t serve it too cold. Can handle another year in the cellar. No oak!

MAISON KERLANN CHABLIS 2006, AC Chablis (France); #158964; Price: $21.95; 13.0% ABV
What I want in Chablis? The increasingly uncommon traditional style…unoaked, which should allow the citrus and minerality to come through. Nuff said.

Some reds…

D'ARENBERG THE LAUGHING MAGPIE SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2007, McLaren Vale (Australia); #936971; Price: $28.95; 14.5% ABV
Cote Rotie is the benchmark for blending Syrah and Viognier. But the Aussies have their answer…and then some. If you haven’t tried an Aussie Shiraz/Viognier blend yet, don’t pass this up. The Laughing Magpie refers to the local Kookaburra.

RINGBOLT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007, Margaret River (Australia); #606624; Price: $19.95; 14.0% ABV
Unlike much of Australia, Margaret River has a cool maritime climate and so the style is surprisingly different. Also unlike much of Australia, Margaret River focuses on the fine wine market. The wineries do amazing things with CS, and we don’t see them often enough here.

LINDHORST MAX'S TRIBUTE 2006, WO Paarl (South Africa); #146456; Price: $19.95; 13.5% ABV
Here’s another interesting blend of red and white varietals. The grapes come from three different areas: Shiraz (85%) from Lindhorst, Viognier (11%) from Franschoek, and the Mourvèdre (4%) from Darling. The Shiraz and Viognier were co-fermented. The wine was aged in 40% new oak and 60% second fill French and Hungarian barrels for 22 months. They blended in the Mourvèdre after that. The winemaker recommends matching the wine with Mediterranean dishes.

CLINE ANCIENT VINES MOURVÈDRE 2007, Contra Costa County (California); #66084; Price: $17.95; 15.0% ABV
In recent releases we’ve seen Mourvèdre from Languedoc, from Spain (as Monastrell), and from Australia. Now here’s one from California, where it’s aka Matero! Unfortunately, many California winemakers ripped out their Mourvèdre. Cline’s effort comes from old vines with low yield, which should give excellent concentration.

CHÂTEAU TRINIAC 2007, AC Cotes de Roussillon-Villages (France); #148676; Price: $14.95; 13.0% ABV
This wine is a cooperative effort between Domaine Cazes, Estagel Montner, and Latour de France. The winemakers describe Chateau Triniac as a “delicately fruity red wine”. Considering it’s from Roussillon, it should still weigh in with ripe fruit, dried herbs, and good tannins.

TELIANI VALLEY SAPERAVI 2007, Georgia; #143586; Price: $13.95; 13.6% ABV
The other Georgia!  100% Saperavi. The grape has deep pink flesh and a dark skin, making for a richly coloured wine. It’s unfiltered, so decant if appearances are important. Unusual and definitely worth a try at this price.

A sparkling…

13TH STREET CUVÉE 13 ROSÉ 2006, VQA Niagara Peninsula (Ontario); #147504; Price: $24.95; 12.5% ABV
From one of my favourite wineries, they make this pink sparkling with the traditional method. 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay.

And a Fino!

I’m terrible at predictions but I have a feeling that Fino is next to go up the charts. Hey, all those Spaniards can’t be wrong! Fino is a light-coloured, dry sherry that matches well with a very wide variety of food. Try it with pork and ham, dishes that have saffron and ginger, and with firm and blue cheeses.

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