Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Picks: Vintages Release ─ April 14 2012

Curse you, Vintages!  This week’s theme is about the wines of Argentina, entitled Heat of the Moment.  In my head, this triggered the 1982 song by Asia, which has been running through my mind incessantly since the Vintages release landed in my mailbox.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers that, of the 15 wines from Argentina in this release, only 2 made it onto My Picks.  I don't try to be contrarian.  And I’m a fan of Argentinean wines, as the 3 picks from the previous release will attest.  I’m beginning to think that the most interesting wines don’t always make it to a themed release.

Of particular note are 2 Semillon varietal wines from Australia.  I love Australian Semillon and they don’t show up that often.  And now 2 in the same release!

This release also offers 4 Italians that offer great value, 2 of which are organic or biodynamic.

The secondary theme is “Green Revelation”, featuring “eco-friendly” wines.  I’m sceptical of that “eco-friendly” label.  The 2 wines listed below have both earned an independent certification.


Organic and Biodynamic

LA CAPPUCCINA 2011, DOC Soave (Veneto, Italy); #81489; Price: $13.95; 12.0% ABV
100% Garganega, indigenous to the Veneto region.  Cold maceration on the skins to give it a bit of colour.  Fermented and aged on its lees for 5 months in stainless steel tanks.  Crisp and clean, look for minerality with a slightly bitter finish, which I love.  Great as an aperitif or with white fish.  Drink now.  Organic certification by BIOS, a Veneto-based Certification Institute. 

L'ANTICO DI BURCHINO VIGNA CASANOVA CHIANTI 2010, DOCG Chianti (Tuscany); #160457; Price: $13.95; 12.5% ABV
A blend of Sangiovese (70%), Ciliegiolo (20%), and 10% Canaiolo…Ciliegiolo is a lesser-known grape variety, used to smooth out the Sangiovese.  Certified biodynamic by Demeter.  The estate is located near Pisa, so I’m inclined to try this one.  Drink now with pasta in a tomato-based suace.

Off the Beaten Track


CRIOS TORRONTÉS 2011, Calchaquies Valley (Argentina); #1834; Price: $12.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Torrontés, the signature white grape of Argentina, from way up north in the Salta foothills.  Hand harvested.  Fermented with cultured yeasts.  Left on its lees for 3 months.  Look for refreshing acidity and wonderful floral aromatics.  Drink now.

Two Aussie Semillons, both light-bodied with good acidity: 

ST. HALLETT SEMILLON 2006, Barossa (Australia); #658005; Price: $19.95; 11.5% ABV
100% Semillon.  25% fermented in tank, 75% barrel-fermented (a mix of first, second and third use barrels).  Two-thirds aged on its lees for 10 months.  This one should improve through to 2016.

TYRRELL'S BROOKDALE SEMILLON 2011, Hunter Valley (Australia); #269316; Price: $19.95; 12.0% ABV
100% Semillon from the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, where Semillon thrives.  And it’s from Tyrrell, one of the best producers.  Cool fermentation and minimal aging.  No oak.  Look for fresh, clean citrus flavours.  Hunter Valley Semillon rewards patience, so although it’s great now, put this away for at least 5 years.  Ideal with barramundi!

DOMAINE CHAUVEAU LA CHARMETTE POUILLY FUMÉ 2010, AC Pouilly-Fumé (Loire, France); #274357; Price: $21.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Sauvignon Blanc.  Cool fermentation, followed by aging on its lees for 6 months.  Look for citrus and floral aromas with great minerality.  The classic matches are shellfish and grilled white fish.


CAVE SPRING MERLOT 2008, VQA Niagara Escarpment; #235051; Price: $17.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Merlot (85%), Cabernet Sauvignon (12%), and Cabernet Franc (3%).  14-day fermentation on the skins.  Aged for 18 months in a mix of Hungarian, American and French oak barriques (20% new).   Merlot is perhaps the most versatile red grape variety for matching with meats…beef, chicken, game…no matter how prepared.  Drink within a couple of years.

CARINAE RESERVA MALBEC 2009, Mendoza (Argentina); #261735; Price: $15.95; 14.5% ABV
100% Malbec from 2 sub-regions in Mendoza.  Warm fermentation with a maceration of 4 weeks. Aged 12 months in French barrels.  A pair of transplanted French run the winery.  Can be aged until 2018.

GRANT BURGE THE HOLY TRINITY GRENACHE/SHIRAZ/MOURVÈDRE 2008, Barossa (Australia); #236257; Price: $33.95; 14.5% ABV
A southern Rhone blend of old-vine Grenache (44%), Shiraz (40%), and Mourvèdre (16%).  Cool fermentation on its skins for 7 days.  After fermentation, partially kept on the skins for extended maceration. Aged for 12 months on oak.  More of a winter wine, I’d try it with slow-cooked game.  Drink by 2016.

JORIO 2009, DOC Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (Italy); #134577; Price: $13.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Montepulciano.  Hand harvested.  Fermented on its skins for 10 days in steel vats, followed by Malolactic fermentation. Aged 50% in 5000-litre oak barrels, 50% in smaller neutral oak barriques for 12 months.  Another great value from Italy!

MONTE DEL FRÁ BARDOLINO 2010, DOC Bardolino (Veneto, Italy); #134544; Price: $12.95; 13.0% ABV
A blend of Corvina (65%), Rondinella (40%), and – unusually for Veneto – Sangiovese (5%).  Cold maceration followed by long fermentation on its skins in stainless steel tanks.  Light-bodied (by modern standards), it’s an ideal summer wine that matches well with grilled chicken or pizza.  Drink now.

RIOJA BORDÓN GRAN RESERVA 2004, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #114454; Price: $22.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo (aka Carignan) and Graciano.  Fermented on the grape skins for 10 days, then left to macerate for another 7 days.  Aged in American oak casks for 24 months with additional bottle aging for 48 months before release.  A classic Riojan Gran Reserva with black cherry backed up with smoky leather and earthy aroams!  Ready to drink now and over the next 5 years.  Ideal with herb-infused grilled lamb.

Extra!  Extra!

SAGET LA PERRIÈRE MARIE DE BEAUREGARD VOUVRAY 2009, AC Vouvray (Loire, France); #276691; Price: $17.95; 12.5% ABV
100% Chenin Blanc from Vouvray.

BODEGAS CAMPILLO FERMENTADO EN BARRICA BLANCO 2010, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #657478; Price: $16.95; 12.5% ABV
A barrel-fermented white (mostly Viura) from Rioja.

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