Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Picks: Vintages Release -- May 1

Here’s my shopping list for the Vintages Release on May 1.

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

And I try to keep the list to a dozen.


BONTERRA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008, Lake & Mendocino Counties (California); #86249; Price: $17.95; 13.1% ABV
Organic since 1987. Sauvignon Blancs from California tend to run the spectrum from citrus to tropical fruit, although the touch of Muscat (3%) and Chardonnay (1%) helps bring out the tropical fruit here. No oak.

BRICCO ROSSO DOLCETTO DI DOGLIANI 2007, DOC Dolcetto di Dogliani (Italy); #705699; Price: $15.95; 13.0% ABV
Haven’t yet tried the Dolcetto varietal from Piedmont? Here’s your chance! Typically light in acidity, it’s ready to drink young and it’s very versatile in year-round food matching. Aged 6 months in oak.

CEDRO CHIANTI RUFINA 2006, DOCG Chianti Rufina (Italy); #164723; Price: $16.95; 13.5% ABV
I prefer Chianti Rufina to Chianti Classico because it’s more assertive. A blend of Sangiovese (90%), Black Canaiolo (5%), and Ciliegiolo (5%), aged 14 months in French oak. Tends to need more aging, but worth the wait.

Off the Beaten Track

SIGALAS SANTORINI 2008, AOHQ Santorini; #74781; Price: $21.95; 14.4% ABV
100% Assyrtiko (a white varietal) from the volcanic soil on the hot, dry, and windy island of Santorini. Known for its minerality.

SEGHESIO ZINFANDEL 2008, Sonoma County (California); #942151; Price: $29.95; 15.5% ABV
I LOVE Zin and this one is my pick of the Zins in this release. The Seghesio family first planted zinfandel in Sonoma County in 1895. A blend from sites in Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley. Seghesio focuses on Zins and (other?) Italian varietals.

And here’s my pick of the Primitivo, from way down south in Puglia. You like Zin? You’ll like this (DNA testing shows it’s the same grape.) Whoa, 16% Alcohol! Grandpa liked a BIG wine. Put this one away for next winter.

DOMAINE PUIG-PARAHY GEORGES 2007, AC Cotes du Roussillon (France); #171025; Price: $13.95; 13.5% ABV
One-third Carignan, one-third old-vine Grenache, one-third Syrah, harvested by hand. Aged 12 months in concrete tanks. Looks like a bargain to me. From Roussillon, the French part of Catalonia. The Parahy family has owned the vineyard since 1446.

CHÀTEAU DE NAGES JT COSTIÉRES DE NÎMES 2006, AC Costières de Nîmes (France); #736876; Price: $21.95; 14.5% ABV
JT stands for José Torrès, founder of the vineyard, located in south-west Rhone, just on the border with Languedoc. A blend of Syrah (95%) and Mourvèdre (5%). Aged in French oak (1/3 first-use, 1/3 second-use, 1/3 third use) for 12 months

LAURUS GIGONDAS 2006, AC Gigondas (France); #163113; Price: $24.95; 14.5% ABV
A blend of Grenache and Syrah. The Syrah is aged in special barrels with a capacity of 275 litres (about 20 percent larger than the standard Rhone barrel, giving less exposure to oak) for 14 months, and then blended with the Grenache.

BURGO VIEJO RESERVA 2001, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #168823; Price: $19.95; 13.5% ABV
From Rioja Baja, a producer in the traditional style. A blend of Tempranillo (85%), Graciano (10%) and Carignan (5%), aged in 50% American oak and 50% French oak barrels for 18 months, then 2 years in the bottle before release.

MUSTIGUILLO MESTIZAJE 2007, Vino de la Tierra el Terrerazo (Spain); #168302; Price: $16.95; 14.0% ABV
This one comes from Utiel-Requena, just west of Valencia. A blend of the native varietal Bobal (70%) with Tempranillo (10%), Garnacha Tintorera (10%) and that import Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) thrown in. Aged in oak for 6 months. Unfiltered. Mustiguillo specializes in making great red wines from Bobal, another Rodney Dangerfield varietal.

The rosés are coming! The rosés are coming!  Here's my first pick for summer:

CHÂTEAU CAHUZAC ROSÉ 2009, AC Fronton (France); #117317; Price: $13.95; 13.0% ABV
I like my rosés dry, very dry. Here’s one from France’s southwest that’s a blend of mostly the local varietal Négrette, with Gamay and Syrah.

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