Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Picks: Vintages Release -- July 24

Here’s my shopping list for the Vintages Release on July 24.


DOMAINE SPIROPOULOS 2009, AOC Mantinia (Greece); #710970; Price: $16.95; 11.5% ABV
Mantinia is home to the Moscophilero white varietal.  With its deep pink skin, it can give the wine itself a pinkish hue. Pink, but not rosé. A perfect summer wine, it's light-bodied, often similar to Muscat with a grapey aroma. The winery has its domestic organic certifications; I tried to decipher them but it’s Greek to me.

BONTERRA ZINFANDEL 2007, Mendocino County (California); #530139; Price: $18.95; 14.5% ABV
The latest addition to the Vintages' lineup from Bonterra, it’s a blend of Zinfandel (86%), Petite Sirah (11%) and Syrah (3%). Certified organically-grown with some biodynamic grapes. Aged 8 months with 40% aged in once-used toasted French and American oak, 25% aged in twice-used oak, and the remaining 35% aged in oak used 3 or more times.  Zin and organic! 

Off the Beaten Track


BIELER PÈRE & FILS SABINE ROSÉ 2009, AC Coteaux d’Aix en Provence (France); #71423; Price: $12.95; 13.6% ABV
Some people buy wine from the same vintage in which their child was born. Winemaker Charles Bieler went one better: he launched this wine five years ago when his daughter, Sabine, was born. It’s a blend of Syrah (60%), Grenache (30%), and Cinsault (10%). Another chance to try a classic rosé from Provence.

LA CADIÉRENNE CUVÉE GRANDE TRADITION ROSÉ 2009, AC Bandol (France); #119453; Price: $17.95; 14.7% ABV
A blockbuster rosé! Watch out for the alcohol. Wine co-operatives are very common in southern France and La Cadiérenne, a bit east of Marseille, dates from 1929. Bandol is THE name in Provence rosé. It’s mostly Mourvèdre, with Grenache and Cinsault.


DOMAINE J. LAURENS LE MOULIN BRUT, AC Blanquette de Limoux (France); #180323; Price: $16.95; 12.0% ABV
Good golly, a delicious sparkling for $17? Why not? My sister-in-law, who comes from the Champagne region, will be very disappointed by this recommendation. For her, the only worthwhile sparkling is Champagne. I admire her loyalty, but… Blanquette means “white” in Occitan, the ancient language of Languedoc. Blanquette has at least 90% Mauzac, a local white varietal, using the traditional method, same as in Champagne. Brut means bone dry (no, not literally).

ANDRÉ & EDMOND FIGEAT LES CHAUMIENNES 2008, AC Pouilly-Fumé (France); #171470; Price: $21.95; 12.5% ABV
100% Sauvignon Blanc from its traditional home, the Loire Valley. André and Edmond are son and father who ferment with indigenous yeast in stainless steel tanks. No Malolactic fermentation. Aged in stainless steel. Crisp, fresh, tasty.


LYKOS KRATISTOS 2005, Nemea (Greece); #61473; Price: $16.95; 13.8% ABV
From a winery owned by the Lykos family, who first made their name in restaurants. It’s 100% Aghiorghitiko, native to the Nemea region. Try it with grilled lamb or beef kabobs.

The feature of this release is wines from Languedoc-Roussillon, one of my favourite areas. Here are 5 selections (plus the Blanquette listed in the whites):

CAVE DE ROQUEBRUN ROCHES NOIRES MACÉRATION 2007; AC Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun (France); #177519; Price: $17.95; 14.7% ABV
More great wine from the outstanding 2007 vintage in Languedoc. A blend of Syrah (60%), Grenache (20%), and Mourvèdre (20%). I’m not a big fan of carbonic maceration but I’ll still try it here. Drink now!

CHÂTEAU DE PENA 2006, AC Cotes du Roussillon-Villages (France); #178392; Price: $13.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Syrah, Carignan, and Grenache from Roussillon, just north of the Spanish border. Hand picked. Syrah and Grenache fermented separately for 4 weeks; Carignan vinified by carbonic maceration to soften the tannins. Aged in stainless steel. Another one for immediate consumption.

CHÂTEAU DE SÉRAME RÉSERVE DU CHÂTEAU 2007, AC Corbières (France); #175216; Price: $15.95; 13.0% ABV
A blend of Syrah (58%), Grenache (23%) and Carignan (19%). Some cold maceration for 8 days; fermentation for 20 days with natural yeasts; aged 12 months: roughly half in second-use oak. Yet another chance to taste a Languedoc wine from the super 2007 vintage. Try it with BBQ lamb chops.

DOMAINE LES YEUSES LES ÉPICES SYRAH 2007, Vin de Pays D’Oc (Languedoc, France); #177584; Price: $12.95; 13.5% ABV
From vineyards just off the Mediterranean, more famous for white wines (Picpoul!) than red. Carbonic maceration again here, with aging in oak for 9 months. A real bargain from a terrific vintage. For drinking now.

LES CLOS DE PAULILLES 2005, AC Collioure (Roussillon, France); #7245; Price: $21.95; 13.0% ABV
Located hard by the Mediterranean, oh-so-close to Spain. A blend of Mourvèdre (65%), Syrah (20%), and Grenache (15%). Maceration for 3 weeks. After fermentation, aging for 15 months, 2/3 in oak and 1/3 in stainless steel. Blended just before bottling. Excellent match for grilled meat.

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