Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Picks: Vintages Release ─ March 31 2012

This week’s theme from Vintages is “Easter Feasts” and Vintages continues its recent MOR (middle of the road) approach to its themes.  That’s a monopoly for you.

As is often the case, there are some hidden gems is this release and your faithful servant has sifted through them all to come up with a dozen wines worthy of your consideration.

Some of my favourite off-the-beaten-track grape varieties show up this week:  Viognier, Carmenère, and Malbec along with some obscure regions:  St-Joseph in Northern Rhone, Douro, and Roussillon.  More New World than usual, with 3 different Argentinean Malbecs.  And 3 big bruisers that top out at 15% ABV.  These can be difficult to match with food but I’ve come up with what I think works.

I’ve also included 4 wines at the end that don’t make the grade for My Picks but it might be worth taking a flyer on one or more, especially that Morgon!


FROG'S LEAP SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010, Napa Valley; #966036; Price: $27.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Sauvignon Blanc from dry-farmed, organically grown vineyards.  Fermented in stainless steel.  Frog's Leap has been farming organically since 1988.  The winemakers say, “From all of this we have learned a simple lesson: the less we interfere in the cellar with the perfectly grown clusters, the more beautiful the wine becomes.”  Exactly.

Off The Beaten Track

YALUMBA VIOGNIER 2010, Eden Valley (Australia); #954644; Price: $24.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Viognier.  Partially barrel fermented (60%) with the rest in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts.  Left to age on its lees for 10 months to give it a softer, heavier mouthfeel.  Try it with lamb curry...really!  Drink this year.

THE PARING PINOT NOIR 2009, Central Coast (California); #218958; Price: $32.95; 14.2% ABV
Burgundy Basket
100% Pinot Noir.  Aged in 35% new French oak for 11 months.  Unfined and unfiltered, so get a Burgundy basket!  Try it with duck with a sour-cherry port sauce.

Ever tried a typical Argentinean asado?  Think mixed grill.  And these 2 Malbecs are the perfect wines:

ACHAVAL FERRER MALBEC 2010, Mendoza (Argentina); #24737; Price: $23.95; 14.0% ABV
100% Malbec from 3 different vineyards.  Aged for 9 months in French Oak barrels. Bottled without fining or filtering; decanting is a good idea.

ZUCCARDI Q MALBEC 2009, Mendoza (Argentina); #723478; Price: $19.95; 14.5% ABV
100% Malbec from 3 vineyards.  Hand harvested.  Fermented with indigenous yeasts.  Maceration on the skins for 25 days, followed by Malolactic fermentation.  Aged for 12 months in new French oak barrels.  Filtered.

The next 3 alcoholic blockbusters will be excellent with slow-cooked ribs this summer:

FABRE MONTMAYOU RESERVA MALBEC 2009, Mendoza (Argentina); #261867; Price: $15.95; 15.0% ABV
100% Malbec.  Hand harvested.  Fermented with a maceration of 30 days.  Aged (40%) in French oak barrels for 12 months.  Fined with egg whites.  Best value in this release.

FALERNIA RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2007, Elqui Valley (Chile); #269175; Price: $16.95; 15.0% ABV
100% Carmenère.  Hand harvested after being left for 2 extra months on the vines.  Grapes partially dried for higher concentration.  Fermented in stainless steel tanks.  Aged (60%) in American oak for 6 months.

HECHT & BANNIER 2008; AC Côtes Du Roussillon-Villages (France); #142802; Price: $22.95; 15.0% ABV
A blend of Lladoner Pelut (aka Grenache in Catalan), Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Syrah.  Aged 20% in concrete tanks, 40% in 600-litre oak demi-muids (one and two years old), 20% in 225-litre barrels (new oak), and 20% in 225-litre barrels (one year old oak).

GUY FARGE TERRE DE GRANIT ST-JOSEPH 2009, AC St-Joseph (Northern Rhone); #270215; Price: $26.95; 12.5% ABV
100% Syrah.  Hand harvested.  Fermented with indigenous yeasts for 3 weeks.  Aged 7 months in oak.  St-Joseph is on the opposite (west) bank from where most vineyards are in the Northern Rhone Valley.  Similar to Crozes-Hermitage, their wines are excellent value, lighter, and they mature faster compared to Hermitage wines.  Drink now with grilled lamb or duck.

These next 2 wines are “go to” matches with pizza:

TASCA D'ALMERITA LAMÙRI NERO D'AVOLA 2009, IGT Sicilia (Italy); #568089; Price: $17.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Nero d’Avola.  Fermented in stainless steel tanks with maceration for 12 days, followed by Malolactic fermentation.  Aged 12 months in French oak barrels (20% new and 80% second and third use), then in bottle for 3 months before release.

MONTE DEL FRÀ TENUTA LENA DI MEZZO RIPASSO CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2008, DOC Valpolicella (Veneto, Italy); #165662; Price: $15.95; 14.0% ABV
The modern Ripasso technique:  a blend of Corvina (80%) and Rondinella (20%) grapes, left to dry to increase concentration of flavours and sugars, which also gives a higher alcohol level.  Fermented in stainless steel tanks.  After Malolactic fermentation, aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.

LA ROSA TINTO 2008, DOC Douro (Portugal); #933101; Price: $19.95; 14.0% ABV
A blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), the same Douro grapes that they use to make Port.  Fermented in small stainless steel vats and aged in French oak casks for 12 months.  Try it with a late season meat stew (beef, lamb, game) or put it away for next winter.

Extra! Extra!

MEGALOMANIAC ECCENTRIC SAVAGNIN 2010, VQA Niagara Peninsula; #273870; Price: $24.95; 12.0% ABV
Even in France, Savagnin is an oddball.  Difficult to grow, it’s related to gewürztraminer.  The vintners in Jura (eastern France) use it to produce the sherry-like Vin Jaune de Jura but this version avoids that oxidized approach.

MILLTON CRAZY BY NATURE DRY FLINT CHENIN BLANC 2009; Gisborne (New Zealand); #214429; Price: $18.95; 12.5% ABV
100% Chenin Blanc from Certified Organic and Biodynamic Grapes.

JEAN-PAUL BRUN TERRES DORÉES 2010, AC Morgon (Beaujolais, France); #264465; Price: $19.95; 12.0% ABV
100% Gamay.  If you haven’t tasted Cru Beaujolais, find out what you’ve been missing before the rest of the world does.  It doesn’t get any better than Morgon from one of the best vintners, Jean-Paul Brun.

CHÂTEAU DE TRINQUEVEDEL ROSÉ 2011, AC Tavel (Southern Rhone); #729947; Price: $17.95; 13.0% ABV
Just in case we get another heat wave…  Rosé is all they do in Tavel; it's not an afterthought!

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

No comments:

Post a Comment