Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Picks: Vintages Release -- February 5 2011

This week's release is all about Tuscany, with some goodies from Washington thrown in as well.  I found 3 Tuscan wines, using indigenous grapes, that are worth your consideration and one wine from Washington, where price is the drawback among the selections on offer.  As always, there are other wines worth looking at.  Prices have inched back up after the bargains of the January releases.

Let's start with something that I can't wait to try:


OUR DAILY RED 2009, California; #203851; Price: $14.95; 12.5% ABV
A blend of Syrah and Carignan from Fresno with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendocino. The winemakers have been organic for the past 20 years. For a US wine to carry the Organic Wine designation, the wine must have no sulphites added and have less than 10 parts per million naturally occurring. This wine goes further; it has zero sulphites detectable at the parts per million level and carries the “Sulphite Free” label. Highly unusual and worth a go!

Off the Beaten Track


CONO SUR VISIÓN SINGLE VINEYARD GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2010, Casablanca Valley (Chile); #912949; Price: $14.95; 13.5% ABV
Gewürztraminer from the Las Colmenas vineyard in the maritime climate of the Casablanca Valley (fog in the mornings, sunny in the afternoon, cool at night). Handpicked. Aged for 5 months in stainless steel. Match it to a dish with ginger.

JEAN-MAX ROGER CUVÉE C.M. BLANC 2008, AC SANCERRE; #196667; Price: $24.95; 12.5% ABV
100% Sauvignon Blanc. C. M. stands for the 2 type of soils where the grapes are grown: Caillottes (pebbles) and Kimmeridgean Marls. They press the grapes immediately, then cold settle for 48 hours. Fermented using indigenous yeasts for several weeks. Aged on its lees (spent yeast). Fined using bentonite, then filtered.

FERRATON PÈRE & FILS SAMORËNS BLANC 2009, AC Cotes du Rhone (France); #73916; Price: $13.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of White Grenache (60%) and Clairette (40%). Cold fermented. Aged about 6 months in stainless steel. A rare treat and good value.


Here's my pick of the wines from Washington:

COEUR D'ALENE CELLARS SYRAH 2007, Washington; #177162; Price: $32.95; 14.4% ABV
Coeur d’Alene? Isn’t that in Idaho? Well, yes. The grapes are from 4 different parcels in Washington, but they make the wine in Idaho. 100% Syrah. Barrel fermented, followed by Malolactic fermentation and aging in oak (23% new) for 19 months.

RINGBOLT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008, Margaret River (Australia); #606624; Price: $19.95; 14.0% ABV
Unlike much of Australia, Margaret River has a cool maritime climate and so the style can be surprisingly different. The wineries do amazing things with CS, and we don’t see them often enough here. This one is fermented at elevated temperatures in stainless steel, followed by Malolactic fermentation. Matured for 13 months in 80% American oak (25% new) and 20% French oak (1% new).

Three good choices from Tuscany, followed by another good choice from Veneto.  If you haven't tried Rosso di Montalcino, there's one at a reasonable price.

ABBADIA ARDENGA 2007, DOC Rosso di Montalcino (Tuscany); #184945; Price: $19.95; 14.0% ABV
Fed up with all that expensive Chianti? Try this. 100% Sangiovese Grosso. Rosso is the little brother to Brunello. Drink while young (the wine, not you). Not a problem.

CECCHI 2007, DOCG Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano (Tuscany); #123588; Price: $24.95; 12.7% ABV
A blend of Prugnolo Gentile (aka Sangiovese – 90%) and other undisclosed red grapes. Fermented on its skins in stainless steel for 21 days. Aged 24 months in oak barrels.

TESTAMATTA GRILLI DI TESTAMATTA 2007, IGT Toscana (Italy); #115659; Price: $32.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of 3 indigenous grapes: Sangiovese (80%), Colorino (10%) and Canaiolo (10%), all from vines less than 10 years old. Separately fermented for 3 weeks, aged for 18 months, then blended.

MASI BROLO DI CAMPOFIORIN 2006, IGT Rosso del Veronese (Veneto); #976092; Price: $24.95; 13.5% ABV
A typical Veneto blend of Corvina (70%), Rondinella (25%), Molinara (5%). Fermented twice over 15 days: once with fresh grapes, fermented again with 25% of grapes of the same varieties that are dried for six weeks (similar to Amarone), then Malolactic fermentation. Aged 18 months in 2/3 Slovenian oak and 1/3 in larger new Allier and Slovenian barrels, followed by 3 months aging in the bottle before release.

BODEGAS LAN VIÑA LANCIANO RESERVA 2004, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #955096; Price: $28.95; 13.4% ABV
A blend of Tempranillo (80%) and Mazuelo (20%) from a single vineyard. LAN aged this Reserva for 6 months in Russian oak, then 12 months in French oak, then 18 months in the bottle before release. I love Rioja!


You should always have some sparkling on hand...and Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  Even better, it's from BC:

BLUE MOUNTAIN BRUT, Okanagan Valley; #206326; Price: $32.95; 12.5% ABV
A blend Pinot Noir (47%), Chardonnay (47%) and (!) Pinot Gris (6%). Made in the Method Traditionelle (as they do in Champagne). Aged on its lees for 24 months, then an additional 6 months in bottle after disgorging. No mention of VQA, but the grapes are estate-grown.

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  1. Nice, I'm going to try the Rhone white. You were my inspiration to try the Picpoul de Pinet and I quite liked it.

  2. I didn't get to the Rhone white, but I did drink a bottle (I shared it) of the 'Our Daily Red' last night and liked it.

  3. Is Our Daily Red aged in oak barrels - the ones with the wheat flour paste? I'm trying to see if it's gluten-free. Thanks!

  4. Here's what Tony Norskog (the winemaker for Our Daily Red) has to say about gluten-free:

    "first, we don't use barrels at all, just make too much to deal with the extra labor, it's chips baby, the best fresh roast chips I can find.

    "The whole flour paste in barrels I believe is an internet myth. I've asked some barrel mfg's and they've never heard of it.

    "Stems from tulies, yes, but not flour."

    Thanks for the myth-busting info, Tony!