Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Picks ─ Vintages Release March 17 2012

The last few releases from Vintages haven’t really boosted my enthusiasm.  So when this week's Vintages Release catalogue landed in my mailbox, I was delighted to see the main theme:  Flavour Fiesta – Spanish Wines & Their Perfect Pairings.  The catalogue has some interesting ideas for matching Spanish wines with food ingredients.  Some of them are classics, others are quite inventive and worth trying.

With Spanish wines, I’m a traditionalist.  Over many decades, Spanish winemakers mastered the art of using American oak in aging their wines.  Now I’m not that keen on oakyness in wine.  But what the traditionalists in Spain do is hold on to those big oaky wines until the oak has integrated into the wine, producing wonderful aromas of leather, tobacco, cedar, smoke, gamy-bacon, and earth while, in the good cases, still offering a delicious dried fruit profile.  Sometimes this takes many years, but Spanish vintners would hold onto those wines and only release them to the market when they were ready to drink.  How much more consumer friendly can you get?  

The modern approach in Spain is to use French oak, which (with its tighter grain) doesn’t contribute as much of its character to the wine.  The wines can be consumed as soon as purchased or, in many instances, cellared for a few years.  It’s more in tune with popular tastes.  But those Spanish wines can end up tasting like many other wines from around the world.  Whether that’s good or bad is up to you.  Perhaps we’re lucky that we can still sample both approaches.

Of the 15 Spanish wines in this release, 3 made the cut for My Picks, more traditional than modern.  The western end of the Iberian Peninsula makes a good showing as well, with 2 wines from Portugal.

Otherwise, it’s a thin release.  Maybe I should just pick up some Irish whiskey.

The dry spell for organic wines continues this week.

Off the Beaten Track


GRÓF DEGENFELD TOKAJI FURMINT 2009, (Hungary); #263905; Price: $15.95; 13.3% ABV
100% Furmint, the grapes that the Hungarians use more commonly to make their famous sweet wines.  Here they vinify the grapes to make a bone-dry, high acid wine.  Fermented (furminted?) in large first-use 500-litre barrels (60%) and in tanks (40%).  Left on its pressed skins, seeds, and stems for 4 months after fermentation, with frequent stirring.  Followed by partial Malolactic fermentation.  Look for buttery and nutty aromas with tree fruit.  Think about a tropical curry as a food match.  Drink within next 12 months.


MICHELE CHIARLO LE ORME 2009, DOCG BARBERA D'ASTI SUPERIORE (Piedmont, Italy); #265413; Price: $14.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Barbera from one of my long-time favourite producers in Piedmont.  Aged 8 months in 50-hectolitre French oak barrels, then 4 months in bottle.  Match it with any pasta in a tomato meat sauce.  Outstanding value.

QUINTA DO PORTAL GRANDE RESERVA 2006, DOC Douro (Portugal); #74666; Price: $28.95; 14.0% ABV
A blend of Touriga Nacional (50%), Touriga Roriz, aka Tempranillo (35%), and Touriga Franca (15%).  Handpicked.  Maceration and fermentation in stainless steel tanks, followed by Malolactic fermentation.  Aged 14 months in new French oak.  You can put this one in the cellar for a few more years.  Excellent with stews and braised meats.

QUINTA NOVA POMARES 2009, DOC Douro (Portugal); #214007; Price: $16.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional.  Fermented in stainless-steel tanks for 8 days.  Partly aged in French and American oak barrels for 6 months.  Try it with game.

BARON DE LEY GRAN RESERVA 2001, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #642496; Price: $29.95; 13.0% ABV
A blend of Tempranillo (90%) and other grapes that prefer to remain anonymous.  Handpicked.  Fermented in stainless steel with additional maceration for 10 days.  Aged 24 months in new French (50%) and American (50%) oak casks, then aged another 5 years in bottle before release.  This is an example of classic Rioja in the traditional style, one of my top favourites.  And you really can’t go wrong with grilled lamb.  Just in time for Easter!

CERRO AÑON RESERVA 2005, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #114306; Price: $18.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Tempranillo (80%), Garnacha (5%), Mazuelo (aka Carignan) and Graciano (15% combined).  Aged 20 months in oak casks.  Another great value.

VEGA SAUCO ADOREMUS TINTA DE TORO 2004, DO Toro (Spain); #268813; Price: $19.95; 14.0% ABV
100% Tinta de Toro, the local name for Tempranillo.  Aged 18 months in French (50%) and American (50%) oak barrels, followed by one year in bottle before release.  Roast chicken for me.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment