Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Picks: Vintages Release -- June 11 2011

This week’s release from Vintages features wines from Veneto, yet another Italian region with it own distinctive grape varieties. Mostly it's Valpolicella in all its glory: Ripasso, Amarone, and Recioto. I can’t get excited about these heavyweights; perhaps it’s the 30-degree weather.

But a couple of lesser-known offerings caught my attention. Bardolino is a light-bodied red that uses the same grapes as Valpolicella, and it’s perfect for lots of summertime fare. There’s also a Soave Classico. Soave wines still suffer from a poor image but wines from the Classico area are generally of better quality. Both the Bardolino and the Soave Classico are less than $14.

No doubt about it.  When summer comes, my mind, and palate, turns to wines that will find a place out on the patio:  something light, refreshing, and crisp...or wines that match up with grilled meats.  That's what, for the most part, you'll find here this week.

Find out more about My Picks.


EMILIANA NOVAS LIMITED SELECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON/MERLOT 2008, Maipo Valley (Chile); #685792; Price: $14.95; 14.5% ABV
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) and Merlot (15%). 70% was aged for 12 months in French oak. Certified organic by IMO Switzerland. Fire up the grill and throw on a couple of steaks.

Off the Beaten Track


DOMAINE CHIROULET TERRES BLANCHES 2009, IGP Cotes de Gascogne (France); #223222; Price: $13.95; 12.5% ABV
A blend of Gros-Manseng (50%) – one of the indigenous varieties of Southwest France and not often seen here – as well as Sauvignon Blanc (25%) and old vine Ugni Blanc (25%), which is most often used in making Cognac. The latter 2 grapes soak on the skins before fermentation, but not the Gros-Manseng. Partially barrel-fermented, partially fermented in stainless steel vats. Aged for 10 months on its lees. A good match with grilled fish and asparagus.

NICOSIA BIANCO 2009, DOC Etna (Sicily); #212928; Price: $13.95; 13.0% ABV
A blend of two indigenous Sicilian grape varieties: Carricante and Catarrato. Both of these varieties offer crisp acidity. Fermented and aged in stainless steel vats. Makes for an easy patio drinking on a lazy summer afternoon, or a match with grilled whitefish.

GIUSEPPE CAMPAGNOLA LE BINE MONTE FOSCARINO 2009, DOC Soave Classico (Italy); #134551; Price: $13.95; 12.5% ABV
This one’s a blend of Garganega (70%) and Trebbiano (30%). Hand harvested. No oak. We used to know Soave for its insipid wines (like so much Pinot Grigio) but quality has improved across the board. Great with grilled seafood.

MARQUÉS DE CÁCERES ANTEA 2009, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #518985; Price: $14.95; 13.5% ABV
A very Riojan blend of Viura and Malvasia. Aged in new oak for a modern twist. Can handle heavier fish (swordfish, tuna) or lobster.


COLONIA LAS LIEBRES BONARDA 2009, Mendoza (Argentina); #219303; Price: $11.95; 13.5% ABV
Argentina’s Bonarda is a mystery grape. It might be the same Bonarda grown in Italy. That’s what this winemaker says. Or it might be the same grape as Charbono, also found in California. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, followed by Malolactic fermentation. No oak aging. Look for tree and dried fruit flavours with tannins. Try it with grilled lamb…or rabbit.

FALERNIA RESERVA SYRAH 2007, DO Elqui Valley (Chile); #208371; Price: $15.95; 14.0% ABV
100% Syrah from way up north in the Elqui Valley. Thank goodness for that cool Humboldt currant. Hand picked. Cold maceration for 72 hours. Fermentation on the skins in stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation. Half aged in a combination of French and American new oak barrels for 5 months. I feel some ribs coming on.

CHÂTEAU DE CHATELARD CUVÉE LES VIEUX GRANITS FLEURIE 2009, AC Fleurie (France); #207886; Price: $17.95; 13.0% ABV
Fleurie is one of the Beaujolais Cru and if all you know about Beaujolais is Nouveau, you’re in for a big and very pleasant surprise. Hand harvested. Carbonic maceration (fermented in whole bunches with immersion for 12 days in their own juice to extract tannins). Matured on the lees for 8 months. A real summertime treat: chill it and serve with grilled sausages. 2009 is a super year for Beaujolais, so enjoy!

PASQUALE PELISSERO BRICCO SAN GIULIANO 2007, DOCG Barbaresco (Piedmont); #214551; Price: $27.95; 14.0% ABV
100% Nebbiolo, a Varietal I can’t get enough of. Hand picked. Long maceration. Malolactic fermentation. Aged 24 months in oak barrels, smaller barriques and tonneaux, then aged another 6 months in the bottle. Suitable for long aging.

MONTE DEL FRA 2010 DOC Bardolino (Veneto); #134544; Price: $11.95; 12.0% ABV
A mostly-typical regional blend of Corvina (65%), Rondinella (30%), and – a Tuscan surprise – Sangiovese (5%). Cold maceration followed by fermentation on the skins in stainless steel tanks. A wonderful, light, chilled, summertime red! Red wine with fish off the grill? Yes!

BODEGAS HERMANOS LAREDO SENORIO DE LAREDO GRAN RESERVA 1998, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #218347; Price: $25.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Tempranillo (80%), Graciano (10%), and Mazuelo (10% -- it’s what the Riojans call Carignan). Long maceration. Aged for 24 months, alternating between French oak and American oak casks, then 3 years in the bottle. A classic treat. I’m putting in away for the winter.


This one’s here for all those folks who lived and worked, and partied, in the Black Forest. Ah, the memories! Perfect with grilled chicken, a salad, and fries.

Bonus Pick
I'm a fan of Randall Grahm of Boony Doon.  One of his wines is out this week.  A bit over our usual price ceiling, but if you're in a mood to splurge, give it a look:

BONNY DOON VINEYARD LE CIGARE VOLANT 2006, California; #975847; Price: $39.95; 13.5% ABV

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