Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Picks: Vintages Release -- October 2

This week's release is all about Oz and Italian Reds; well, that's the theme anyway.  And yes, there are some that are worth picking up.  And lots more besides.  Just 2 organic wines in the Release this week; neither one made the cut.

Off the Beaten Track


PETER LEHMANN RIESLING 2008, Eden Valley (Australia); #186361; Price: $14.95; 11.0% ABV
Eden Valley Rieslings are some of the most underappreciated wines in the world. Cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks. No oak. You can drink it now or put it away for a few more years. I don’t often buy multiple bottles of a wine, but this is an exception.

TRIMBACH PINOT GRIS RÉSERVE 2006, AC Alsace (France); #971762; Price: $18.95; 13.5% ABV
OK, all you Pinot Grigio fans, time to step up to the real thing. Fermented in stainless steel. No oak. Look for good acidity and a creamy mouthfeel with peaches and pears and some smokiness on the nose and, yes, some nuts on the finish, Kyle. Perfect with the Thanksgiving bird.

INAMA VIN SOAVE CLASSICO 2008, DOC Soave Classico (Veneto, Italy); #949768; Price: $17.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Garganega, grown in the “classic” demarcation of Soave. Juice kept on the skin for 4 hours. Fermentation in stainless steel vats, followed by Malolactic fermentation. Aged in stainless steel for 8 months. No oak…can you spot the trend here? Should be great with whitefish.

BURGÁNS ALBARIÑO 2009, DO Rias Baixas (Spain); #945063; Price: $16.95; 12.0% ABV
100% Albarino from Galicia, that's the northwest corner of Spain, just north of Portugal, right next to the Atlantic. From Martin Codax, a specialist in Albarino. In this version, look for tree fruit and floral aromas, white flowers, and the sensation of residual sweetness.


The most interesting wines coming out of Australia these days are the ones from cool Maritime climates (Margaret River, Yarra Valley, Tasmania). Here are picks from each of the first 2 of those regions:

COLDSTREAM HILLS PINOT NOIR 2008, Yarra Valley (Australia); #472613; Price: $29.95; 14.0% ABV
The Yarra Valley is a bit east of Melbourne, with a cool Maritime climate that’s perfect for Pinot Noir. Handpicked. Different batches fermented using different techniques, including carbonic maceration. Aged separately for nine months in a mixture of new (27%) and seasoned French oak, then blended. Look for typical PN fruits (cherry and raspberry) with some earthy gaminess and spice from the oak.

XANADU CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Margaret River (Australia); #59956; Price: $19.95; 14.0% ABV
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree: / Where Alph, the sacred river, ran / Through caverns measureless to man / Down to a sunless sea.
I haven’t been to Margaret River yet, but if this is what it’s like, book me a trip now, Danno. The winemakers at Xanadu say, “Our philosophy is strongly held, but extremely simple: grow great fruit, pick it at the right time and guide it through to the bottle without too much intervention. Which sounds easy, but actually requires a profound depth of knowledge, years of experience, and nerves of steel.” Ah, exactly right. Small batch fermentation for 7 days, followed by partial extended maceration and Malolactic fermentation. Aged 14 months in French oak (40% new) before the blending. Egg white fining, so not for vegans.

COLIO CEV PINOT NOIR 2007, VQA Ontario; #500454; Price: $19.95; 12.5% ABV
Here’s a local candidate for the Thanksgiving turkey. Fermented 10 days followed by 14 months aging in European oak. From the wonderful 2007 vintage. Pinot Noir, a cool climate variety that makes sense for Ontario.

EL ARTE DE VIVIR 2007, DOC Ribera Del Duero (Spain); # 137679; Price: $13.95; 14.0% ABV
100% old vine Tempranillo from Ribera Del Duero, southwest from Rioja. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Aged 6 months in 70% French and 30% American oak. Ah, Spanish Tempranillo…that’s the art of living!

MEDRANO IRAZU GRAN RESERVA 2001, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #182493; Price: $27.95; 13.5% ABV
100% old vine Tempranillo, this time from Rioja Baja, where Tempranillo is king. Fermented for a week, with continued maceration for another 15 days. Aged in 70% French oak and 30% American oak barrel for 24 months. Riojan wine-producers supposedly make Gran Reservas only in outstanding vintages, which 2001 was in Rioja. Look for typical aromas of dried fruit and leather.

LOUIS JADOT CHÂTEAU DES JACQUES 2006, AC Moulin-À-Vent (Beaujolais, France), #700187; Price: $27.95; 13.5% ABV
Moulin-à-Vent is the King of Beaujolais and if you haven’t tried a “Cru Beaujolais” yet, this is a good place to start. It’s something different from easy drinking, fruity Beaujolais and sometimes compared to a Burgundy wine, although it’s Gamay, not Pinot Noir. Carbonic maceration, followed by aging in oak for 6 months.

GLORIA RESERVA 2004, DOC Douro (Portugal); #146522; Price: $16.95; 13.3% ABV
A 50-50 blend of Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo) and Touriga Nacional from a new winemaker in Douro. Aged in oak for 12 months.


ANDRÉ ET MICHEL DRAPPIER BRUT NATURE ZERO DOSAGE, AC Champagne (France); #179275; Price: $42.95; 12.0% ABV
OK, this is interesting. I’ve been on the lookout for a “zero dosage” sparkling for a while now…and this release has 2! What’s dosage? It’s a sugared liqueur that producers add to a Champagne just before corking to increase its sweetness. Zero Dosage means just that; there’s no dosage added. It’s rare. 100% Pinot Noir. A splurge for a special occasion.

If you’d like to try a zero dosage sparkling that’s more affordable, check out
FREIXENET BRUT NATURE VINTAGE RESERVA CAVA 2007, Spain; #180844; Price: $16.95; 12.0% ABV

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