Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Picks: Vintages Release ─ February 18 2012

As soon as I saw this week’s theme at Vintages, I knew it would be tough sledding.  Entitled “Popular Front”, it features “22 customer favourites”.  Finding wines that are "popular" are not what we’re about here.  (Why customer favourites need this type of marketing boost escapes me.  And that term – Popular Front – brings all sorts of political echoes.)  Despite that, 2 of My Picks are among the 22 customer favourites.  The mainstream is wide and I do dip my toes in there from time to time!

The secondary theme – Tasting Terroir – holds more promise.  In 3 instances, Vintages brings us wines from the same producer growing the same grape variety – Chardonnay, Riesling, or Pinot Noir – in different places.  The attempt is to show how terroir can yield different results.  By far the most interesting comparison is among the 3 Chardonnays from Bachelder, who has properties in Niagara, Oregon, and Burgundy.  It’s an interesting concept and I hope that Vintages does this more often!  (The other comparisons are less compelling, but it’s a good start.)

Nothing organic this week.

Off the Beaten Track


TABALI RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011, Limari Valley (Chile); #662999; Price: $14.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Sauvignon Blanc from way up north in the hot Limari Valley, but on the cool Pacific coast.  Handpicked.  Fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks.  Great, refreshing acidity.  Drink now…ideal as an aperitif.

MURI-GRIES PINOT GRIGIO 2010, DOC Alto Adige (Italy); #270983; Price: $18.95; 13.2% ABV
100% Pinot Grigio.  Fermented in stainless steel.  Aged 75% in stainless steel and 25% in large oak barrels for 5 months.  Drink young with pasta in Alfredo sauce.

VARANDA DO CONDE ALVARINHO/TRAJADURA 2010, DOC Vinho Verde (Portugal); #966663; Price: $13.95; 12.0% ABV
A blend of Alvarinho (70%) and Trajadura (30%), a couple of native grape varieties.  They say that they press each grape separately!  Fermented for 10 days.  No oak.  Always drink young, either as an apero or with seafood.

Here are those 3 Chardonnays that I mentioned at the top.  Hey, I never said education was cheap!

BACHELDER CHARDONNAY 2009, VQA Niagara Peninsula; #271841; Price: $34.95; 13.0% ABV

BACHELDER CHARDONNAY 2009, Willamette Valley (Oregon); #273334; Price: $34.95; 13.0% ABV

BACHELDER CHARDONNAY 2009, AC Burgundy (France); #272005; Price: $34.95; 13.3% ABV


CREEKSIDE LAURA'S RED 2007, VQA Niagara Peninsula; #117960; Price: $19.95; 12.7% ABV
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (39.5%), Merlot (39%), Cabernet Franc (15%), Malbec (6%) and – why bother – Petit Verdot (0.5%). Fermented separately on the skins in stainless steel tanks. Aged mostly in French oak barrels (56% new) for 22 months, then blended.  Drink by 2013.  Lamb ragout is a good match.

CHÂTEAU SAINT-ROCH CHIMÈRES 2009, AC Cotes du Roussillon-Villages (France); #119354; Price: $18.95; 14.0% ABV
A blend of Grenache (60%), Syrah (30%), and Carignan (10%) from the sunny Roussillon.  Hand harvested.  Fermentation with maceration for 4 weeks.  A big winter wine.  Very good vintage that you can keep for a few years.

SANTA DUC LES GARANCIÈRES 2009, AC Gigondas (Southern Rhone, France); #234989; Price: $27.95; 15.4% ABV
A blend of Grenache (80%), Syrah (10%), and Mourvèdre (10%).  Hand-harvested.  Long maceration.  Aged 50% in neutral oak vats and 50% in tanks on its lees.  Beware:  high alcohol.  Needs a hearty braised meat dish as a match.

MASI BROLO DI CAMPOFIORIN 2007, IGT Rosso del Veronese (Veneto, Italy); #976092; Price: $24.95; 13.5% ABV
A typical Veneto blend of Corvina (70%), Rondinella (25%), Molinara (5%). Fermented twice: once with fresh grapes, fermented again for 15 days with another 25% of grapes of the same varieties that are dried for six weeks (similar to Amarone), then Malolactic fermentation. Aged 18 months:  2/3 in very large Slovenian oak barrels and 1/3 in new, smaller Allier and Slovenian oak barrels, followed by 3 months aging in the bottle before release.  Ideal with pasta with a meat and mushroom sauce.  Capable of aging until 2017.

LUA NOVA EM VINHAS VELHAS 2009, DOC Douro (Portugal); #266882; Price: $15.95; 14.5% ABV
Vinhas Velhas means the grapes are a field blend of indigenous varieties from old vines.  In other words, they don’t know (or care) what grapes are in here.  It’s what they have, take it or leave it.   Take it.  Half vinified in stainless steel vats with temperature control (modern) and half foot-trodden and vinified in traditional old granite lagars (troughs).

BUDUREASCA ORIGINI FETEASCA NEAGRA 2007, DOC-CMD Dealu Mare (Romania); #263913; Price: $13.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Feteasca Neagra, an indigenous variety that translate as “young girl’s grape”.  Fermented on the skins for 15 days, followed by Malolactic fermentation.  Aged for 6 months in oak barrels.  Known for its spicy character.  Best value in the release.  Drink now.

BODEGAS LAN CRIANZA 2007, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #166538; Price: $15.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Tempranillo.  Fermented in stainless steel with maceration for 15 days, followed by 12 months aging in French and American oak, then a few more months in the bottle.  A classic easy-drinking Riojan red that’s ready to drink now.  Works with a very wide variety of dishes with meat, mushroom, or cheese.

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