Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Picks: Vintages Release, January 22 2011

The main theme of this week's release is Chile (3 worthy picks, 2 organic), with a minor focus on wines from SouthWest France (2 more there).  Wines from SouthWest France offer some the best values in today's market.  Some good bargains all around, continuing the post-holiday trend.  Check here to see how I make My Picks.    


EMILIANA NOVAS LIMITED SELECTION CHARDONNAY 2009, Casablanca Valley (Chile); #4515; Price: $14.95; 14.0% ABV
Grown right near the Pacific Ocean (OK, everything in Chile is near the Pacific Ocean) where the influence of the cold Humboldt Current plays a big role in making the wines, bringing cool morning fog and conditions for slowly ripening grapes. Aged 4 months, 30% in French oak. From Chile’s leading producer of organic wines.

COOPER HILL PINOT NOIR 2008, Willamette Valley (Oregon); #199802; Price: $21.95; 13.0% ABV
Here’s a chance to try some good Oregon PN at an affordable price. They say they make the wine from oreganic grapes. Oh, brother. But I think the wine is better than the humour! Cooper Hill uses Biodynamic practices but they’re not certified. Fermented in stainless steel, aged in 5% new oak.

EMILIANA NATURA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009, Central Valley (Chile); #61069; Price: $15.95; 14.0% ABV
100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 20% in French oak barrels for 6 months. Certified organic by the Institute for Marketecology.

Off the Beaten Track


CREEKSIDE ESTATE BUTLER'S GRANT RIESLING 2008, VQA Twenty Mile Bench – Niagara Peninsula; #220293; Price: $15.95; 11.5% ABV
Fermented entirely in stainless steel, with fermentation halted “based on sensory analysis”. That’s a fancy way of saying, “We liked how it tasted, so we stopped.”  God bless winemakers who know when to stop!

CÉDRICK BARDIN 2009, AC Pouilly-Fumé (Loire); #202416; Price: $21.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Sauvignon Blanc grown in Kimmeridgean soil (same as Chablis, but a different grape). Cold fermented for 10 days, then aged on its lees for 4 months. Unlike Fumé Blanc from California, this Fumé refers to its typical smoky or gunflint aroma from the grapes, not the barrel.

BEAUVIGNAC PICPOUL DE PINET 2009, AC Coteaux de Languedoc (France); #350124; Price: $11.95; 12.3% ABV
100% Picpoul, one of my favourite white wines from Languedoc. Typically citrus flavours, crisp, refreshing, wonderful with fresh oysters or as an aperitif. Short maceration, cold fermentation. Drink now.


MISSION HILL S.L.C. MERLOT 2005, VQA Okanagan Valley; #68353; Price: $34.95; 14.0% ABV
SLC = Select Lot Collection from Oliver and Osoyoos. Hand harvested and sorted. Gravity fed into fermentation, then aged in French oak for 13 months.  Another goody from BC.

ANTU NINQUÉN SYRAH 2008, Colchagua Valley (Chile); #675371; Price: $17.95; 14.5% ABV
100% Syrah. Handpicked. Cold Maceration for 4 days, fermented on the skins for 23 days. Aged 18 months in 80% French, 20% American oak, 50% new, 50% second use. Unfined and unfiltered. Grown at altitude.  Antu Ninquén means “Sun on the Mountain”. Owned by Montgras.

Here are my two Picks from SouthWest France:

CHÂTEAU LECUSSE CUVÉE SPÉCIALE 2008, AC Gaillac (France); #198937; Price: $14.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Fer. Heard of it, never tried it. I’m in.

CHÂTEAU PEYROS 2005, AC Madiran (France); #208249; Price: $14.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of 70% Tannat, 25% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes for a less tannic wine than with the more traditional 100% Tannat. Fermented in stainless steel. Micro-oxygenation used to allow earlier drinking - whatever happened to patience? - but can age for a few more years. Malolactic fermentation in oak. A classic regional match with duck confit.

BUIL & GINÉ GINÉ GINÉ 2007, DOCa Priorat (Spain); #67843; Price: $17.95; 14.0% ABV
A blend of separately fermented Garnacha and Cariñena from 50% young vines (less than 20 years old) and 50% old vines. Maceration and fermentation followed by Malolactic fermentation.

VINOS SIN-LEY TRAZA GRA 2 2008, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #190819; Price: $16.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Graciano, unusual for Rioja where Tempranillo is king. Graciano is indigenous to Rioja but fell out of favour for quite a while. But these people are bringing it back. Even more unusual: aged in stainless steel tanks with no oak! Makes sense, because “Vinos Sin-Ley” means “Wines Without Laws”. Not exactly Ontario’s motto.

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