Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Picks: Vintages Release -- May 14 2011

This release was a tough one. Never before have I encountered so much difficulty in finding out more about the wines in a release.

Just 2 weeks ago, I noted that some (too many) winemakers don’t devote enough time to their websites, which is their most important medium for connecting directly with consumers. Some don’t have a website at all, while others don’t keep their websites up to date, including some very big names. In this release, the famous Rhone winemaker Guigal is a surprisingly example of the latter case. (Mind you, I found 3 instances where the winemaker’s website featured the vintage after the one offered this week at Vintages. An example: Quails’ Gate features their 2009 Chardonnay on their website, but it’s the 2008 Chardonnay on the shelves this Saturday at Vintages. Where has the wine been?)

The upshot? Well, the theme of this week’s release is Southern Rhone 2009: a great year in a region that’s a personal favourite. But none of the winemakers met the criteria that I set in My Picks.

The secondary theme is rosé wines and 3 made the list. Whew.

Combing through the list, there are still some interesting choices.


BONNY DOON BEESWAX VINEYARD LE CIGARE BLANC 2008, Arroyo Seco (California); #95331; Price: $29.95; 14.3% ABV
If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away. (Thoreau)
Randall Grahm, winemaker at Bonny Doon, marches to a different beat. He’s been one of my favourites for a long time, especially his rosé wine Vin Gris de Cigare, which shows up at Vintages from time to time. He specializes (not exclusively) in grape varieties of the Rhone Valley. This one is a blend of Roussanne (57%) and Grenache Blanc (43%). Roussanne often has an aroma of beeswax, hence the name.  Try it with some grilled portobello mushrooms.

Off the Beaten Track


KIM CRAWFORD UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2009, Marlborough (New Zealand); #991950; Price: $17.95; 12.5% ABV
100% Chardonnay. That’s right, I’m recommending a Chardonnay. What makes this one different? It’s unoaked from a cool climate, the South Island of NZ. 80% Malolactic fermentation. Tasting is believing. Grill some fish.

DOMAINE GEROVASSILIOU WHITE 2009, Epanomi (Greece); #999714; Price: $19.95; 12.5% ABV
A blend of Assyrtiko and Malagousia, both native to the region (if you hadn’t guessed from the names). Assyrtiko brings minerality and citrus aromas and flavours; Malagousia brings more floral notes but lacks the acidity that Assyrtiko offers. They keep the juice on the skins for a few hours, then fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Perfect with grilled seafood. Drink soon.


D'ARENBERG THE LAUGHING MAGPIE SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2008, McLaren Vale (Australia); #936971; Price: $29.95; 14.5% ABV
A Cote-Rotie-styled blend of Shiraz (94%) and Viognier (6%). The two varieties are co-fermented in new and old French and old American oak barrels, followed by aging for 10 months on its lees in the same barrels. No fining or filtration, so decant this one. If you haven’t tried an Aussie Shiraz/Viognier blend yet, don’t pass this up. The Laughing Magpie refers to the local Kookaburra.

TOR DEL COLLE RISERVA 2006, DOC Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (Italy); #211847; Price: $ 12.95
100% Montepulciano. Fermentation for 10 days. Unusual: Aged 12 months in oak, 12 months in stainless steel. What a bargain! A perfect everyday wine for pasta and pizza with tomato-based sauce. Or maybe the next one is the perfect everyday Italian wine…

MAURO VEGLIO 2009, DOC Dolcetto D'Alba (Italy); #214486; Price: $16.95; 12.9% ABV
100% Dolcetto, the little sweet one. But it’s not sweet. Maceration for 4 days. Fermented off the skins in steel tanks, followed by Malolactic fermentation to soften the acidity. Left in the stainless steel tanks for 6 months, then put in oak barrels for 2 months to settle. Bottled without fining and filtration, so it might need decanting. Again, it’s great to have on hand with pizza or some sausages on the grill.

LAR DE PAULA RESERVA 2004, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #208207; Price: $21.95; 14.0% ABV
100% Tempranillo, aged 18 months in American and French oak, then 18 months in the bottle before release. It’s Tempranillo, it’s Rioja, it’s all you need to know. Worth cellaring.

ONDARRE RESERVA 2004, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #723452; Price: $19.95; 12.8% ABV
A blend of Tempranillo (75%), Garnacha (10%), and Mazuelo (15%). Fermented separately; maceration for 16 days. Aged 16 months in American and French oak barrels. Ready to drink now. I tried the 2002 Reserva last year with wild turkey and loved it.


CHÂTEAU D'AQUÉRIA ROSÉ 2010, AC Tavel (France); #319368; Price: $18.95; 12.9% ABV
For many, it’s Tavel that’s the classic rosé! A blend of 4 red grape varieties and 3 white grape varieties: Grenache (52%), Syrah (12%), Mourvèdre (11%), Cinsault (9%), Clairette (9%), Bourboulenc (6%), and Picpoul (2%). Hand harvested, then maceration for 24 hours. All vinified separately with natural yeasts, blended two by two (which two, I don’t know), then they're all blended together. The Tavel designation is for rosé only. Aquéria is the largest estate of Tavel.

MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION ROSÉ 2010, AC Costières de Nîmes (France); #950576; Price: $13.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Grenache (50%), Syrah (30%), and Cinsault (20%). Fermented in stainless steel tanks using the Saignée method, where they bleed the juice off the grapes after a day or so.

MUGA ROSÉ 2010, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #603795; Price: $12.95; 13.0% ABV
The 2009 was one of my favourite rosés from last year. The blend of Garnacha (60%), Viura (30%) and Tempranillo (10%) is unchanged from 2009. Viura is a white variety. 12 hours of maceration, followed by fermentation for 25 days in 1000-litre oak vats, then left to age in the same vats for 2 months before bottling.


MASOTTINA EXTRA DRY, DOCG Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore; #216317; Price: $19.95; 10.7% ABV
Spring is the season of celebrations: weddings, anniversaries, graduations, and more. And nothing says celebration like a sparkling wine. Not looking to break the bank? Here’s your choice. Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore is one of Italy’s newest DOCGs (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). Whether expanding the list of DOCGs is good is a matter of opinion. What’s not debatable is that Prosecco offers great value in a sparkling wine. Made using the Charmat method (fermentation occurs in large stainless steel tanks) it’s crisp and clean, not too high in alcohol. Up until 2009, when the Italian government granted DOCG status to Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Prosecco was the name of the grape and the wine. Because other growers outside Conegliano Valdobbiadene also used the same grape, they changed the name of the grape to another traditional name, Glera.  So now Prosecco is the wine, Glera is the grape.

Subscribing to this blog through RSS or email is easy! Just click on the subscribe link to the left ←

No comments:

Post a Comment