Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Picks: Vintages Release ─ January 21 2012

This week's major theme is "Australia's got style".  Yes, it does.  The good news is that Vintages goes beyond the obvious (Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds, Chardonnay for the whites) and features some interesting choices.

Vintages also has a minor theme:  6 lesser-known varietals that deserve your consideration.

I found my own themes in making My Picks this week.  You'll find them below.

Nothing organic this week.

Off the Beaten Track


Theme #1:  All of the white wines are good little wines that are a perfect match with light fish or seafood (oysters!) with a wedge of lemon.  

LA CHABLISIENNE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010, AC Saint-Bris (Burgundy, France); #641753; Price: $13.95; 12.5% ABV
100% Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s the black sheep of Chablis:  even the winemaker’s website is silent about this wine.  Why?  Well, white Burgundy is Chardonnay, except for this very small area just southwest of Chablis, where they grow Sauvignon (Blanc and Gris).

SANTA MAGDALENA PINOT GRIGIO 2010; DOC Alto Adige (Italy); #249466; Price: $15.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Pinot Grigio.  Up in Alto Adige, near the Austrian border, they make a crisp, citrus, minerally Pinot Grigio.  None of that insipid stuff.  No oak, of course.

I CAMPI CAMPO VULCANO 2009; DOC Soave Classico (Veneto, Italy); #269969; Price: $19.95; 12.5% ABV
A blend of Garganega (85%) and Trebbiano (15%), grown in volcanic soil, which they say gives the wine its minerality and flintiness.  No maceration.  Fermentation for 15 days, followed by partial Malolactic fermentation to take the edge off.  Aged on its lees for 6 months in stainless steel.


Theme #2:  I’m a big fan of the Languedoc/Southern Rhone SGM recipe:  blends of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre…not necessarily in that order and sometimes with a few other varieties thrown in.  This week has quite a few examples.  Here are 5, all of which are ideal for winter comfort dishes such as braised meats and stews.

HEWITSON MISS HARRY 2009, Barossa Valley (Australia); #107870; Price: $23.95; 14.0% ABV
A Languedocian blend of Grenache (50%), Shiraz (40%), Mourvèdre (5%), Cinsault (2.5%), and Carignan (2.5%) from old, old vines (>100 years).   Dry grown (no irrigation).  Each variety fermented separately on their skins.  Malolactic fermentation in old French barrels, then aged in these same barrels for 12 months.  Grill up some lamb chops.  Miss Harry is Harriet Hewitson (Daddy’s girl?).  Check out the video. 

TORBRECK CUVÉE JUVENILES 2009, Barossa Valley (Australia); #723940; Price: $29.95; 14.5% ABV
A blend of Grenache (60%), Shiraz (20%), and Mourvèdre (20%) from vines that are 40 to 150 years old.  Fermented separately, then blended for the Malolactic fermentation.  No oak aging.  No filtration or fining.  This wine is made for a wine bar in Paris, which (as coincidence would have it) I was reading about just last night.

HECHT & BANNIER 2009, AC St-Chinian (Languedoc, France); #184184; Price: $23.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre.  Aged in a combination of concrete tanks (35%); 600-litre oak demi-muids, 1 and 2 years old (20%); and both 225-litre and 500-litres oak barrels, new and 1 year old (45%).  From the winery website:  “2009 showed a contrasted pluviometry.”  Put down that thesaurus!

DOMAINE DE CABASSE GIGONDAS 2007; AC Gigondas (Southern Rhone, France); #142075; Price: $29.95; 14.5% ABV
A blend of Grenache (80%), Mourvèdre (10%), and Syrah (10%).  Maceration and fermentation for 15 days, followed by 6 months in large, neutral oak barrels.  Great with a Provençal lamb stew.  The name “Gigondas” is believed to come from Jucunditas, Latin for “joie de vivre”.  Taste the joy.

DOMAINE BEAU MISTRAL SAINT MARTIN RASTEAU 2009, AC Côtes du Rhône-Villages (Southern Rhone, France); #251629; Price: $22.95; 14.5% ABV
A blend of Grenache (45%), Syrah (45%), and Mourvèdre (10%) from old vines.  Handpicked.  Fermentation over several weeks.  Partly aged in tanks and partly in oak barrels for 15 months before blending.

VIÑA HERMINIA RESERVA TINTO 2004, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #236927; Price: $24.95; 14.0% ABV
A blend of Tempranillo (85%), Garnacha (10%), and Graciano (5%).  24 days maceration and fermentation.  Aged 18 months in 80% American and 20% French oak barrels, then another 18 months in bottle before release.  Traditional Rioja style, which I love.  I'm thinking hanger steak.

LIA'S VINEYARD LONGPLAY PINOT NOIR 2008, (Chehalem Mountains, Oregon); #267344; Price: $23.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Pinot Noir.  7 days cold maceration.  Spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel tank for 9 days.  Aged in small French oak barrels (20% new) for 10 months.  Lia’s Vineyard is a relatively small producer (even by Oregon standards) that sells most of its crop to other wineries, keeping a bit aside for its own wine.  They claim that “we aren’t big fans of interventionist wine making techniques” and that they make “analog wine for a digital world”.  I get it.  Great label, too.  Lia is the owner’s daughter.

ALAMOS MALBEC 2010, Uco Valley (Mendoza, Argentina); #467951, Price: $13.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Malbec from the high-altitude Uco Valley.  2 days of cold maceration, fermented for 9 days, followed by 2 more days of maceration to pull those tannins out of the skins.  Aged for 6 months in French and American oak. Good entry-level Malbec.  Ideal with any stew.

LUCA LABORDE DOUBLE SELECT SYRAH 2009, Uco Valley (Mendoza, Argentina); #167346; Price: $22.95; 14.5% ABV
100% Syrah from old vines.  Hand harvested.  Aged 15 months in new (50%) and second-use (50%) French oak barrels.  Neither filtered nor fined, so decant.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Dave, Thanks for noticing the Lia's Vineyard Pinot Noir. I've been sold out of it here in Oregon for several months now and kind of regretted offering a few cases to Vintages! But knowing that I'm sharing the wine with people who will appreciate it is all that really matters. Get it while you can. The label is a photo of my turntable ... it is always spinning vinyl on weekends in the tasting room. If anybody has questions feel free to email me. Kind of sloppy in the vineyard right now so I'm stuck working on my taxes...