Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Picks: Vintages Release, January 8 2011

Before Christmas, it was a lot of premium wines at Vintages.  Now the pendulum swings all the way back to the bargain basement with the theme of "Smart Buys".  The cover photo even has a picture of a wine glass half-full of Loonies and Toonies, the message being that's all we have left!

It's a mixed bag:  lots of bargains (only a baker's dozen at more than $20) with some previously released wines making a second appearance.  Many of these wines are meant to drink we need a reason.

For my part, I could only find 11 wines that meet my criteria.


PECH MATELLES MARSELAN 2008, Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhone (France); #148684; Price: $13.95; 14.0% ABV
Certified by ECOCERT, this wine’s producer, Les Celliers du Languedoc, is like a “super organic co-operative” with fifteen producers and co-operatives in the south of France. Even more interesting, Marselan is a “new” cross of Cabernet Sauvignon & Grenache Noir and authorized for Vin de Pays in 1990. Previously released a year ago at $12.95. I guess we’re paying a warehousing fee.  Tasting Note

PERRIN NATURE CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2009, AC Cotes du Rhone (France); #948059; Price: $ 16.95; 13.0% ABV
Grapes certified by ECOCERT. I’m nothing if not forgiving: the 2007 vintage was a big disappointment, but let’s see what’s up with the 2009. After all, Perrin is one of the better producers in the southern Rhone.  Tasting Note

UMANI RONCHI MONTIPAGANO 2009, DOC Montepulciano D'Abruzzo (Italy); #134585; Price: $12.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Montepulciano. Harvested by hand. Fermented in a steel tank for 10 days, followed by Malolactic fermentation. Aged in oak. Simple wine for simple Italian dishes, like pizza and pasta Bolognese.

Off the Beaten Track


JACKSON TRIGGS NIAGARA ESTATE SILVER SERIES SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, VQA Niagara Peninsula; #209577; Price: $17.95; 12.5% ABV
They say they’re going for a New Zealand-style Sauvignon Blanc. Cold fermented with selected yeasts after extended skin contact of 4 hours. And since it’s from just down the road, it should be crisp and fresh!

13TH STREET WHITE PALETTE 2009, VQA Niagara Peninsula; #207340; Price: $14.95; 12.5% ABV
Funky Alsatian-inspired blend of separately-fermented Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay Musqué, Riesling, and Pinot Gris with Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Chardonnay. Fermented in stainless steel, with some partial Malolactic fermentation, and then blended. Drink ASAP as an aperitif.

KING ESTATE SIGNATURE COLLECTION PINOT GRIS 2009, Oregon; #983627; Price: $17.95; 13.0% ABV
A blend of seven different blocks of Pinot Gris, which many consider the signature white of Oregon. 100% steel tank fermented, then aged for 11 months on the lees in stainless steel. Oregon Tilth certified the vineyard as organic, but not the wine.

DOMINIO DEL PLATA CRIOS DE SUSANA BALBO TORRONTÉS 2009, Calchaquies Valley (Argentina); #1834; Price: $11.95; 13.5% ABV
If you like Viognier, try Torrontes. It’s at its biggest and best in southern Argentina, where this one is from. No oak. Loved the 2008. Another wine to drink young. Susana Balbo is the most known female enologist in Argentina.

This next wine was a no-show in the release of November 13.  I guess its ship came in:

PIKES TRADITIONALE RIESLING 2009, Clare Valley (Australia); #66894; Price: $19.95; 12.0% ABV
The label has a fish on it, but since their name is Pike, I’ll overlook the “critter wine” stigma. Fermented in stainless steel with cultured yeast. Clare Valley turns out some great Riesling. Citrus and mineral when young. Capable of 10 years of aging.  Tasting Note


BAGLIO DI PIANETTO Y NERO D'AVOLA 2008, IGT Sicilia (Italy); #207423; Price: $14.95; 13.3% ABV
100% Nero d’Avola, indigenous to Sicily where it’s the signature grape. Handpicked. Fermentation and maceration for 8 days. Aged for 10 months, half in new French oak.

FATTORIA DI BASCIANO RISERVA 2006, DOCG Chianti Rufina (Tuscany); #209478; Price: $25.95; 14.0% ABV
A blend of Sangiovese (95%) and Colorino (5%). I prefer Chianti Rufina to Chianti Classico because it’s more assertive. Tends to need more aging, but worth the wait.

REAL COMPANHIA VELHA EVEL TINTO 2007, DOC Douro (Portugal); #190694; Price: $14.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of the Douro varieties of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), Tinto Cao, and Touriga Francesa. Aged in Portuguese oak barrels. This is the winemaker’s entry-level wine.

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