Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Picks: Vintages Release -- June 12

Here’s my shopping list for the Vintages Release on June 12.  The focus is on South Africa, but I only found one wine that met my criteria.  Lots of BBQ-worthy wines available and good selections from Italy.

WESTERN RANGE JULIMAR ORGANIC SHIRAZ 2007, Western Australia; #165951; Price: $ 24.95; 14.5% ABV
This Shiraz comes from the Perth Hills Region on the west coast of Australia, a region with a reputation for quality over quantity. Their climate is Mediterranean, with cool, wet winters and warm dry summers with cold nights, favouring slow ripening. Western Range Wines is certified for the production of organic wines by the “National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia” and the "International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements". Trips off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Off the Beaten Track

MORGENHOF ESTATE CHENIN BLANC 2008, WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch (South Africa); #978544; Price: $14.95; 13.5% ABV
South Africa is coming back to Chenin Blanc. In the bad old days, South Africa produced lakes of insipid Chenin Blanc. The pendulum swung away from Chenin Blanc (justifiably) but gradually it dawned on producers that they could produce good Chenin Blanc, rather than switching everything over to the international varietals. Morgenhof is a highly regarded producer. They fermented half the wine in oak barrels, half in stainless steel, then aged 7 months in French oak. Look for citrus and tree fruits, with typical acidity. Should be great with grilled seafood.

MUROS ANTIGOS ESCOLHA VINHO VERDE 2009, DOC Vinho Verde (Portugal); #166710; Price: $11.95; 12.0% ABV
100% Alvarinho, known in Spain as Albarino. Fermented in stainless steel. Crisp acidity, it’s another great wine for the summer. Perfect as an aperitif, or with some grilled seafood on the BBQ, even some oysters!

D'ARENBERG THE MONEY SPIDER ROUSSANNE 2008, McLaren Vale (Australia); #656710; Price: $19.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Roussanne, a varietal originally from the Rhone Valley, probably brought to Australia at the same time as Shiraz. At first, I though this was a misprint…they meant spider monkey? Turns out there are money spiders, and they covered the first crop of Roussanne at D’Arenberg. No, they didn't crush the spiders with the grapes. Roussanne is known for floral, tree fruit, tropical fruit, minerality, and wax aromas. No oak!

LIBRANDI DUCA SAN FELICE RISERVA ROSSO 2007, DOC Ciro (Calabria, Italy); #695874; Price: $16.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Gaglioppo, the dominant red varietal of Calabria (the toe of the Italian boot), known for its spicy aroma. The Greeks introduced Gaglioppo’s ancestor here 2000 years ago. It’s usually rustic, ideal for some grilled meat on the BBQ!

TERREDORA LACRYMA CHRISTI DEL VESUVIO ROSSO 2007, DOC Lacryma Christi Del Vesuvio (Campania, Italy); #93088; Price: $18.95; 13.0% ABV
When I was a kid, Lacryma Christi (because of its name, Tears of Christ) had a certain cachet, but it was a cheap way to get a buzz. Today, it’s an illustration of how much improvement the winemakers of Campania have made. Another of those uncommon Italian varietals, 100 % Piedirosso, from the largest producer in Campania. Handpicked. 6 days maceration. Aged 8 months in French oak. Look for aromas of red and black fruit, minerality, smoke, spices, and dried herbs.

TAURINO SALICE SALENTINO ROSSO RISERVA 2006, DOC Salice Salento (Puglia, Italy); #177527; Price: $15.95; 14.0% ABV
The region’s standard blend of 80% Negroamaro – means black and bitter – and Malvasia Nera (20%). Good grippy tannins. Another timely BBQ wine.

TOCCHI SAGRANTINO DI MONTEFALCO 2004, DOCG Sagrantino di Montefalco (Umbria, Italy); #174664; Price: $18.95; 14.4% ABV
Hmmm, a Sagrantino (that’s the varietal) for $19? A bargain from a winery that started in 2000. Handpicked. Aged 25 months in oak. A wine for aging.

TORRES GRAN SANGRE DE TORO RESERVA 2005, DO Catalunya (Spain); #315648; Price: $15.95; 13.5% ABV
Excellent value from one of the most reliable producers in Spain. A blend of Garnacha, Cariñena and Syrah.  Yup, great with BBQ!


So far this year, the Rosé wines have been mostly disappointing.  Let's hope that these ones have more to offer.

DOMAINE HOUCHART ROSÉ 2009, AC Cotes de Provence (France); #118653; Price: $13.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Cold maceration for 24 hours, the varietals are vinified separately, then blended. Bone-dry, as I like it.

DOMAINE MABY LA FORCADIÈRE ROSÉ TAVEL 2009, AC Tavel (Rhone, France); #701318; Price: $15.95; 13.5% ABV
Here’s a chance to try another rosé from Tavel, considered the best rosé in France. A blend of mostly Grenache Noir and Cinsault, with Bourboulenc, Carignan, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Mourvèdre, and Syrah. Look for cherry and floral aromas. Yes, bone-dry.

SANTA MARGHERITA MERLOT/CABERNET CUVÉE ROSÉ 2009, IGT Veneto (Italy); #167692; Price: $14.95; 12.5% ABV
From the producers of that ubiquitous Pinot Grigio. They vinify the two varietals separately; maceration of 36 hours, then fermented in stainless steel, followed by Malolactic Fermentation (hmmm), then aging in stainless steel tanks, then the blending.

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