Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Picks: Vintages Release ─ March 3 2012

This week’s main theme is “Made in France”, showcasing eight of the justifiably famous regions and their grape varieties that France has brought to the world.  It’s a noble idea but, for the most part, the execution fails.  Four of the regions have just one wine on offer!  The 3 Alsatian wines are all off-dry; where Alsace excels is in deliciously crisp varietal wines.  Vintages continues its underrepresentation of the Loire Valley, with just one wine, a white of course.  (But it’s a good one.)  3 of the wines made the cut here.  

The secondary theme is Carmenère, the delicious and accessible signature varietal wine from Chile.  As usual, I find the secondary theme to be the more interesting one.  There are 6 examples to choose from and 2 made it onto My Picks.

Nothing organic this week.  Again.      

Off the Beaten Track


The 3 whites share a common profile, which happens to be one of my favourites:  citrus aromas and crisp, even sharp, acidity.  Ideal as aperitifs or with white fish (cooked any way you like) and grilled seafood.  Oh, and don’t forget the raw oysters!

CHÉREAU-CARRÉ LA GRIFFE BERNARD CHÉREAU 2010, AC Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie (Loire); #948182; Price: $14.95; 12.0% ABV
100% Melon de Bourgogne.  Aged briefly on its lees (spent yeasts) to take off a bit of the acidic edge.

PASCAL JOLIVET 2010, AC Sancerre (Loire); #264945; Price: $24.95; 12.5% ABV
100% Sauvignon Blanc from several vineyards in one of its classic regions.  In other words, you pay for that name, Sancerre.  Different batches fermented separately with natural yeasts, then blended.

ZENATO LUGANA SAN BENEDETTO 2010, DOC Lugana (Veneto, Italy); #707158; Price: $13.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Trebbiano di Lugana.  Cool fermentation in stainless steel.


CONCHA Y TORO TERRUNYO VINEYARD SELECTION BLOCK 27 CARMENÈRE 2008, Cachapoal Valley (Chile); #562892; Price: $29.95; 14.5% ABV
A blend of Carmenere (85%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (15%).  From Cachapoal Valley, known for its Carmenere.  Handpicked.  Aged 19 months in French oak barrels (70% new and 30% one-year-old).  Put this one away for the summer with BBQ ribs.

MISIONES DE RENGO GRAN RESERVA CUVÉE CARMENÈRE 2010, Rapel Valley (Chile); #264937; Price: $19.95; 14.5% ABV
A blend of Carmenère (89%), Cabernet Sauvignon (7%) and Syrah (4%).  Handpicked.  Pre-fermentation maceration for 5 days.  Fermented separately in stainless steel tanks, followed by post-fermentation maceration.   Aged in first- and second-use French and American oak barrels for 12 months, then blended. Bottled and aged for 6 months before release.  The winemaker suggests matching with, among other things, full-bodied fish such as tuna or albacore.  Hmmm, I like it!

DOMAINE THUNEVIN-CALVET CUVÉE CONSTANCE 2008, AC Cotes du Roussillon-Villages (France); #168690; Price: $18.95; 13.5% ABV
An equal blend of Grenache and Carignan.  Aged 14 months in concrete tanks.  No fining or filtration.  A classic example of what sunny Roussillon wines are all about.  Try it with lamb stew. (St Paddy’s Day is coming!)

DELAS FRÈRES LES LAUNES 2009, AC Crozes-Hermitage (Northern Rhone, France); #701359; Price: $20.95; 12.8% ABV
100% Syrah.  Handpicked.  Fermentation in open concrete tanks, followed by Malolactic fermentation.  Aged 30% in oak barrels, 70% in concrete tanks.  Filtered.  Try it with grilled meats.

UMANI RONCHI SAN LORENZO ROSSO CONERO 2008, DOC Rosso Conero (Marche, Italy); #981191; Price: $14.95; 13.2% ABV
100% Montepulciano.  Handpicked.  Maceration and fermentation for 10 days in stainless steel tanks, followed by Malolactic fermentation. Aged 50% in large oak casks and 50% in neutral oak barrels for 12 months, followed by 6 months in bottle before release.  Ideal with pasta with Puttanesca sauce.  Best value in the release.

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