Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Picks: Vintages On-Line Exclusives -- Trawling for Treasures

It’s been a month since the last new release from Vintages Online Exclusives. (Usually, a new release comes out every 2 weeks, alternating with the store releases.)  Not sure what’s going on. I’ve asked Vintages and if I find out, I’ll let you know.  [UPDATE September 10:  Vintages says, "We would suggest checking the web site periodically for new releases..."  Hmmm, something's up.]

In the meantime, I’ve gone trawling for bargains from the existing inventory of 460 wines already available from Vintages online. Here are nine wines, all worth your consideration and all $25 or less. Regular readers won’t be surprised that Spain and Italy, two regions with unusual varietals, are well-represented.

None of them are organic or Biodynamic.

Let’s start close to home:

SUMAC RIDGE BLACK SAGE VINEYARD WHITE MERITAGE 2007, VQA Okanagan Valley (British Columbia); #434977; 14% ABV; $24
A Bordeaux-style blend of Sauvignon Blanc (80%) and Semillon (20%). Aged in French and American oak for 8 months. North American vintners use “Meritage” for wines that they make exclusively from Bordeaux varietals but that (often deliberately) don’t meet the standard required to designate the wine by its varietals.

Now to the Old World, first stop is Spain, with a white and 2 reds:

TRASCAMPANAS VERDEJO 2007, DO Rueda (Spain); #143693; 13% ABV; $19
100% Verdejo, the signature grape of Rueda, located just a bit east of the Portuguese border. Known for its herbal aromas with citrus notes; try it instead of Sauvignon Blanc. From Bodegas Jesus de la Hoz Monsalve. WWJD? Verdejo!

RENTAS DE FINCAS RESERVA 2002; DOCa Rioja (Spain); #157800; 13% ABV; $22
A blend of Tempranillo (80%), Garnacha (10%), and Mazuelo (10%). 20 days maceration in stainless steel, Malolactic fermentation, aged in American and French oak for 12 months. A great example of Riojana wine.

GEMINA CUVÉE SELECCIÓN 2004, DO Jumilla (Spain); #132423; 14% ABV; $25
100% old vine Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre in France) from Jumilla, down in the hot southeast part of Spain. Aged four months in American and French oak. Usually grippy tannins, ideal with a grilled bavette.

And now 3 whites from Italy:

ST. MICHAEL-EPPAN PINOT GRIGIO 2008, DOC Südtirol-Alto Adige (Italy); #163030; 13% ABV; $22
I know what you’re thinking…$22 for a Pinot Grigio?! Ah, but here in the Southern Tyrol, they make some fine Pinot Grigio with tree fruit aromas and crisp minerality. Fermented in stainless steel.

CANTINA TERLANO WINKL SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007, DOC Terlano (Trentino – Alto Adige); #124008; 13% ABV; $24
OK, so you don’t like Pinot Grigio? How about a Sauvignon Blanc from the same region? Fermented in stainless steel vats; aged on lees (spent yeast) for 6 months. More fruit than herbal, so it’s somewhat closer to Loire than New Zealand in style. Just the same, it has its own style.

PODERE CASTORANI AMORINO 2007; IGT Colline Pescaresi (Abruzzo, Italy); #111708; 13% ABV; $25
100% Pecorino, a specialty of the Adriatic coast of Italy. Known for its minerality. Why not try it with some cheese, Pecorino perhaps?

Of course, Languedoc also shows up on my list:

L'OSTAL CAZES ESTIBALS 2007; AC Minervois (Languedoc, France); #161869; 14% ABV; $25
A blend of Grenache (35%), Carignan (35%) and Syrah (30%). Aged 12 months in French oak. If you’re still wondering whether Languedoc can produce great wines, Jean-Michel Cazes isn’t. Owner of Chateau Lynch-Bages, a Fifth Growth in Pauillac, Cazes bought 50 hectares of AC Minervois vineyards in 2002. See what happens when Bordeaux expertise meets Languedoc’s natural gifts. And it’s from the amazing 2007 vintage.

Finally, an unusual New World blend from down-under:

WYNDHAM ESTATE GEORGE WYNDHAM FOUNDER'S RESERVE SHIRAZ/TEMPRANILLO 2007, Adelaide Hills/Barossa (Australia); #159830; 14% ABV; $23
A blend of Shiraz (70%) and Tempranillo (30%), two of my favourites. Leave it to the Aussies to bring them together. Fermented for 10 days. Some Malolactic fermentation. Aged 12 months, some in new French oak, and some in older barrels.

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