Friday, October 15, 2010

My Picks: Vintages Release -- October 16

This week’s release has lots of Bordeaux (pass), 7 sparkling wines, a surprising number (8) of organic wines, and a few re-releases.


Making wine from grapes without chemical fertilizers, weed killers, insecticides and other synthetic chemicals is better both for the planet and for the wine drinker. Here are 1 white, 3 reds, and a sparkling.  Santé!

BABICH INDIVIDUAL VINEYARD HEADWATERS ORGANIC BLOCK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, Wairau Valley (Marlborough, New Zealand); #183160; Price: $19.95; 13.0% ABV
Come to where the flavour is. Certified Organic by BioGro New Zealand. Fermented in stainless steel. Let’s get some oysters!

BARRA OF MENDOCINO PINOT NOIR 2006, Mendocino (California); #191890; Price: $21.95; 13.5% ABV
Charlie Barra makes the wine. Charlie is 84. Charlie says, “We need to leave this earth the way we found it, and this doesn’t include chemicals”. But he comes easily to organic farming: before WW2, when Charlie grew up, it’s the only way they farmed. Certified by CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) for over 20 years.

PAUL DOLAN ZINFANDEL 2007, Mendocino (California); #46342; Price: $21.95; 14.5% ABV
Paul Dolan is a fourth-generation winemaker who’s converted to organic and some Biodynamic farming. Why? Check out his video. The California Certified Organic Farmers certifies this Zinfandel as organic. Aged 20 months in American oak.

TIZAC CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Fiambala Valley (Argentina); #173369; Price: $12.95; 13.8% ABV
The remote Fiambala Valley is just 175 km from the Chilean border, about 1400 meters above sea level. At that altitude, the sunshine is intense and the temperature varies significantly from day to night, yielding great flavours and good acidity. Fermented for 11 days. Unfiltered.

DELMAS CUVEE TRADITION BRUT NV, AC Blanquette de Limoux (Languedoc); #179978; Price $18.95; 12.0 ABV 
Another treat from Languedoc.  A sparkling blend of Mauzac, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc.  Methode Traditionelle, just like in Champagne.  Look for aromas of apple, white flowers, honey, and garrigue (the dried herbs of Languedoc).  Organic since 1986, certified by ECOCERT.

Off the Beaten Track

Because it's the Bordeaux whites that need some attention, here’s my only pick from the Bordeaux offering:

CHATEAU DE CRUZEAU BLANC 2007, AC Pessac-Léognan (France); #966010; Price: $24.95; 12.5% ABV
A bit unusual, this white Bordeaux is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. No Semillon here. Fermented in oak barrels. Aged 10 months in oak (35% new).

TERREDORA FALANGHINA 2008, IGT Campania (Italy); #642074; Price: $15.95; 12.0% ABV
Falanghina is one of the native varieties that are the focus of Terredora, perhaps the best producer in Campania. Handpicked. Aged on its lees in stainless steel. No oak. Try it with some whitefish or a mild soft cheese (I’m thinking mozzarella).


CAVE DE TAIN LES HAUTS DU FIEF 2007, AC Crozes-Hermitage (France); #958843; Price: $24.95; 12.9% ABV
100% Syrah, aged in oak for 12 months. Cave de Tain is the wine co-operative in Northern Rhone. Braised lamb, anyone?

KIR-YIANNI RAMNISTA XINOMAVRO 2007, AOC Naoussa (Greece); #178020; Price: $17.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Xinomavro. The name means “acid black”. Meant to be aged, so lay it down for at least a couple of years! Handpicked grapes. Cold maceration for 4 days, then fermented for 12 days, followed by Malolactic fermentation in stainless steel. Aged 12 months in small and large French and American oak casks (15% new), then aged another 6 months in bottle before release.

FATTORIA DEL CERRO 2006; DOCG Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Tuscany); #180059; Price: $25.95; 13.0% ABV
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano...the other Tuscan red. Usually great value. A blend of Prugnolo Gentile (aka Sangiovese – 90%), Colorino (5%), and Mammolo (5%). Colorino adds tannin and (you guessed it) colour; Mammolo adds floral notes. Aged for 18 months in oak, 70% in Slovenian oak and 30% in French oak for 12 months, then 6 months in Slovenian oak. Aged 6 months in bottle before release.

LE FRAGHE 2008; DOC Bardolino (Veneto, Italy); #181198; Price: $13.95; 12.0% ABV
A blend of two of the three grapes used to make Veneto reds: Corvina and Rondinella. Bardolino is a light-bodied red, usually even more so than Valpolicella. Fermentation lasts a week, followed by Malolactic fermentation, then storage in stainless steel tanks until the following spring. No oak. Refreshing, easy-drinking, I love it with pizza.

TOKARA DIRECTOR’S RESERVE RED 2006, WO Stellenbosch (South Africa); #183962; Price: $26.95; 13.5% ABV (?)
A "Left Bank blend" of Cabernet Sauvignon (82%), Petit Verdot (10%) and Merlot (8%). Hand picked and sorted. Cold maceration for 5 days before the fermentation started spontaneously with natural yeasts. Fermented partly in stainless steel and partly in wooden fermenters. Malolactic fermentation, then aged for 20 months in 96% new French oak. Egg white fining (sorry, vegans). Unfiltered. Sounds like a great wine for Steak-Frites. Vintages lists this wine at 13.5% ABV; the winemaker says 15.0%.

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