Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Picks: Vintages Release - April 2 2011

The theme of this week’s release is Burgundy, with South Africa as a supporting player.

For this blog, the problem with Burgundy is threefold. First, Burgundy is not exactly “off the beaten track”, although there are parts of Burgundy that are: Côte Chalonnaise, Le Mâconnais, and the Haut-Côtes, some of which are in this release. Second, the price of many Burgundy wines lands north of $30, which I generally use as the cut-off for My Picks. And third, many producers this week are small and don’t devote any effort to a web presence. I like to learn a little something about the Terroir, the climate, and the vinification techniques of a wine before I recommend that you try it. With rare exceptions, no disclosure means no recommendation. Sometimes, if I can find the email address of the winery or importer, I’ll write to them. But this week, even those are impossible to find.

The result? Only one Burgundy wine, a white from Le Mâconnais, makes the list. And there are only 10 Picks in total, of which 3 are Italian. (Ah, Italy, you always come through.)  And a Sparkling Shiraz and some Sherry.

And, once again this week, no organic wines!

Off the Beaten Track


CHÂTEAU-FUISSÉ TÊTE DE CRU 2008, AC Pouilly-Fuissé (France); #208546; Price: $29.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Chardonnay (of course), blended from grapes grown in 20+ vineyards, vinified separately, then blended. Aged 70% in oak barrels (25% new) and 30% in stainless steel. I’m thinking grilled scallops.


HENRY OF PELHAM GAMAY 2009, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula; #291112; Price: $14.95; 12.7% ABV
100% Gamay, a Varietal that Niagara can do quite well. Conventional fermentation with the addition of 20% whole grape clusters added for a touch of carbonic maceration. Aged in stainless steel. Drink this year with roast chicken.

PIRRAMIMMA PETIT VERDOT 2006, McLaren Vale (Australia); #986752; Price: $24.95; 14.5% ABV
100% Petit Verdot, most known as a blending grape in Bordeaux, offering deep colour, tannins, and spicy flavours. We don't often see Petit Verdot as a single Varietal, although I do remember drinking a delicious Ontario PV a couple of years back. They fermented this one in concrete vats and then finished in French and American oak. Aged in oak (30% new, 70% older) for 24 months.

BELLINGHAM DRAGON'S LAIR 2006, WO Coastal Region (South Africa); #68692; Price: $19.95; 14.5% ABV
A Northern Rhone blend of Shiraz (84%) and Viognier (5%) with a Southern Rhone variety, Mourvèdre (11%), thrown in. Hand harvested. Co-fermented in stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation in oak (50% first use, 50% second use), followed by 18 months aging in the oak barrels. A first BBQ wine of the season.

ORTAS TRADITION RASTEAU 2009; AC Côtes Du Rhône-Villages (France); #998716; Price: $15.00; 14.0% ABV
A typical Southern Rhone blend of Grenache (70%), Syrah (20%), and Mourvèdre (10%). 90% handpicked (90%?! Why not 100%?) Long maceration, aged in concrete vats. No oak. Great year, keep your eye out for more 2009s from the Rhone over the next year or two.

IPPOLITO 1845 LIBER PATER 2008, DOC Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore (Calabria, Italy); #121061; Price: $13.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Gaglioppo, the indigenous grape variety of Cirò (and Calabria at large), known for its tannins. Long maceration on the skins, then aged in French oak barrels for 6 months.

UMANI RONCHI SAN LORENZO 2007, DOC Rosso Conero (Marche, Italy); #981191; Price: $15.95; 13.2% ABV
100% Montepulciano, the workhorse grape of the Adriatic coast. Hand harvested. Maceration for 10 days in steel vats, followed by Malolactic fermentation. Half aged in 5000 litre oak casks, half in oak barrels (third and fourth use) for 12 months, followed by bottle aging for 6 months before release. It’s a classic wine for pizza or pasta with tomato sauce.

RIVERA CAPPELLACCIO RISERVA AGLIANICO 2005, DOC Castel del Monte (Puglia, Italy); #984120; Price: $18.95; 12.0% ABV
100% Aglianico. Maceration for 12 days in stainless steel. Aging for 12 months in French oak barrels of varying ages, then another year in the bottle before release. Do the math, a 2005, where’s it been? But for the price, it’s a good value. I’d try it with lamb, either a hearty ragout or, if spring ever comes, grilled chops.


HARDYS OOMOO SPARKLING SHIRAZ 2004, Clare Valley (Australia); #221853; Price: $19.95; 14.0% ABV
Well now, this is interesting, an Oz sparkling made of 100% Shiraz. Primary fermentation in stainless steel and oak, followed by Malolactic fermentation. Aged for a year in oak. Secondary fermentation in bottle, kept on its lees for 4 years.


WILLIAMS & HUMBERT WALNUT BROWN RARE OLD BROWN OLOROSO, DO Jerez (Spain); #437467; Price: $11.95; 17.5% ABV
OK, get over the fact that your grandmother – and Fraser Crane – drank sherry. A blend of Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Muscatel grapes.  The wine itself is a blend of Oloroso (a dry fortified sherry that has more exposure to air while aging in the cask for 4 years, making it darker and concentrated) and Cream (a sweet dark sherry).  Look for the classic flavours of nuts and dried raisins.  Made for the UK market.  Quite sweet; serve very cold, it’s dessert in a glass.

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1 comment:

  1. I like your style! I am into trying wines that are good but also different and uniquely identifiable. I find that drinking wines such as cabernet franc and petit verdot helps to identify them when blended with other varietals. Recently drank a Rosenblum Petit Syrah while visiting New Hampshire. It was so purple it was almost black!