Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Picks: Vintages Release -- February 19 2011

This week’s release is about Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the big boys in the wine world. Now, I focus on wines that are “off the beaten track”. But nothing says “beaten track” like Cabernet Sauvignon. Maybe there are some Cabernet Sauvignons from lesser-known regions? Let’s see. Bordeaux…California…Chile…Italy…Spain…Australia… uh no. There’s one from Washington, so if you really, really have to buy a Cabernet Sauvignon, that’s the one. Well, except for my bonus pick at the bottom of this post.

But sorting through everything else in this release, there are wines that are not as over-famous as Cabernet Sauvignon but certainly merit a try.


EMILIANA ADOBE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010, Casablanca Valley (Chile); #211912; Price: $12.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Sauvignon Blanc from the maritime climate of Casablanca, just a bit west of Santiago. Yes, it’s that Humboldt Current again. Aged 3 months in stainless steel. Certified Organic by IMO (Switzerland). I’m thinking pasta with clams.

BONTERRA SYRAH 2007, Mendocino County (California); #573709; Price: $19.95; 14.4% ABV
Organic since 1987. A Southern Rhone-ish blend of Syrah (83%), Petit Sirah (11%), Grenache (4%), and Mourvèdre (2%), partially sourced from Biodynamic vineyards. After Malolactic fermentation, aged 24 months in French Oak, then aged several months in bottle before release.

CHÂTEAU PECH-LATT TRADITION 2009, AC Corbières (Languedoc); #76513; Price: $16.95; 13.0% ABV
A traditional Languedoc blend of Carignan (60%), Grenache (15%), Syrah (15%), and Mourvèdre (10%) – I love that the Carignan is the dominant Varietal. Handpicked. Fermented for 20 to 25 days, depending on the Varietal. Aged in cement vats for 8 months. No oak, drink now. Certified organic by ECOCERT.

Off the Beaten Track


DOMAINE JAEGER-DEFAIX RABOURCÉ 1ER CRU 2007, AC Rully (Burgundy); #200139; Price: $27.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Chardonnay. Rully is part of the Cote Chalonnaise, south of Beaune, the much, much less-known part of Burgundy. It’s affordable Burgundy premier cru, if such a thing exists. Barrel-fermented, followed by Malolactic fermentation, then aged on its lees for 12 months in oak barrels. Filtered.

BÜRGERSPITAL SILVANER KABINETT TROCKEN 2009, QmP Wuerzburger Innere Leiste (Franken, Germany); #197194; Price: $18.95; 13.0% ABV
Silvaner is a white Varietal, very popular in Franken. You can buy it just for the unique classic stubby boecksbeutel! But the wine is worth it as well. The 2007 surpassed my expectations.  I'm looking for more of the same.


13TH STREET GAMAY NOIR 2008, VQA Niagara Peninsula; #177824; Price: $17.95; 12.0% ABV
13th Street Winery is one of the all-too-many Ontario wineries that, inexplicably, tell you almost nothing about their vinification techniques, something that drives me crazy. Makes me suspect they’re hiding something. But 13th Street tells me that they’re launching a new website next month that will have those “technical sheets”. I think that Niagara is made for Gamay (or vice versa) and I’m a fan of 13th Street’s other efforts, so they get a pass this time on the promise of more disclosure to come.

JACKSON-TRIGGS ESTATE PROPRIETORS' GRAND RESERVE SHIRAZ 2006, VQA Okanagan Valley; #33241; Price: $24.95; 14.3% ABV
There’s been a slow but steady trickle of BC wines flowing through Vintages for the last few months. I hope that you’re buying some, ‘cause that’s another way to keep breaking down those silly provincial trade barriers and keep them coming. This one is 100 % Shiraz. Handpicked. Malolactic fermentation, followed by aging for twelve months in 50% French and 50% American Oak.

ANNE BOECKLIN RÉSERVE PINOT NOIR 2008, AC Alsace (France); #196949; Price: $17.95; 12.5% ABV
The only red Varietal of cool climate Alsace, it doesn’t show up that often in Vintages but it’s certainly worth trying. Another trip down memory lane from my days in the Black Forest, just across the Rhine from Alsace. Typically fresh and not made for extended aging.

ABBONA PAPÀ CELSO 2008, DOCG Dogliani (Piedmont, Italy); #193730; Price: $19.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Dolcetto. Fermented for 5 days at the temperature of 28-30°C in stainless steel, then bottled. No oak. Drink this year.

CALLABRIGA 2008, DOC Dao (Portugal); #43638; Price: $18.95; 14.0% ABV
A blend of Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro Preto, the latter adding colour and acidity. Fermented separately. After Malolactic fermentation, aging for one year in 225 litre oak barrels. After aging in oak, the wines are blended and aged 6 months in bottle before release. Dao is in northern Portugal, just south of Douro.

PALACIO GLORIOSO RESERVA 2005, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #930164; Price: $19.95; 12.5% ABV
100% Tempranillo. Grapes from old vines in the Rioja Alavesa, which (not surprisingly) is between Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja. Fermentation and maceration for 25 days, followed by Malolactic fermentation, clarification and fining. Aged in 225L French oak barrels for 18 months, then aged in the bottle for another 18 months before release.


GLORIA FERRER BLANC DE BLANCS 2005, Carneros (California); #223792; Price: $24.95; 12.5% ABV
100% Chardonnay (that’s what Blanc de Blancs means for a sparkling wine). Made by the Methode Champenoise. They fermented 8 different base wines in stainless steel tanks. Aged three years on the spent yeasts. We drank the Brut NV from Gloria Ferrer on New Years Eve and if that’s any indication, this is a bargain.

Bonus Pick:

HAUTS DE PONTET-CANET 2007, AC Pauillac (Bordeaux); #100719; Price: $36.00; 13.0% ABV
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (35%), Cabernet Franc (4%), and Petit-Verdot (1%). I wrote about Pontet-Canet last month, when Agence Bio granted organic status to this winery. 2007 is the vintage with the conditions – rain and cold in late spring and early summer, resulting in mildew – that pulled them off the Biodynamic track, which they are now pursuing again. Pontet-Canet is one of the best turnaround stories of a winery that you can find. It had fallen on hard times (and scandal) in the ‘70s, then new owners took it over. The Tesseron family have slowly brought it closer to the stature of its neighbours in Pauillac. The mark of an excellent producer is what it can do in a difficult year. Let’s see.

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