Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Picks: Vintages Release ─ May 12 2012

The theme of this week’s release at Vintages is California Legends.  It should come as no surprise that a blog that looks for wines that are Off the Beaten Track™ finds little of interest in a release that focuses on California Cabs and Chards.  The Zins, a variety that I love, are an uninspiring choice this week.

So it’s one of the secondary themes that again merits close attention:  Rosés.  For me, drinking rosé is a summertime thing.  But although we only drink rosé in the summer, we do drink lots of it.  My advice for buying rosés is easy:
  1. Drink Youngest Available. Winemakers don’t make rosés for aging. You want the fresh, clean, vibrant flavours that define a good rosé. In 2012, every label of every bottle that you buy should say 2011. Make sure of the vintage before you buy.
  2. Drink Driest Available. This is my personal preference, but dry, crisp rosés are best on hot summer days or warm summer evenings. Extra-dry rosés are such versatile wines for summertime food, especially cold dishes or grilled dishes.
On to My Picks...

Off the Beaten Track

CASA MARIN LAUREL VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2009, San Antonio Valley (Chile); #274050; Price: $24.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Sauvignon Blanc from a small region just south of Casablanca Valley (see next Pick).  Handpicked.  1-day maceration.  Fermented for 3 weeks.  Look for classic grassy and citrus aromas with minerality on the finish.

ERRAZURIZ WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2010, Casablanca Valley (Chile); #738393; Price: $17.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Chardonnay from due west of Santiago, right by the Pacific Ocean.  The Maritime climate yields a crisp version of Chardonnay.  Handpicked.  What makes this Chardonnay interesting is the use of wild yeasts found in the vineyard.  30% underwent Malolactic conversion.  Aged 12 months in French oak barrels (11% new.)

ROGER et DIDIER RAIMBAULT SANCERRE 2010, AC Sancerre (Loire); #82255; Price: $22.95; 12.5% ABV
100% Sauvignon Blanc.  Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats. Aged on the lees until bottled.  Ideal with white fish.

CASAL DI SERRA 2010, DOC Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore (Marche, Italy); #268169; Price: $16.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Verdicchio, one of the wonderful indigenous Italian grape varieties.  Handpicked.  Fermented in steel tanks for 10 days, followed by Malolactic conversion.  Left to age on its lees for 10 months in concrete tanks. The winemaker says to look for aromas of straw, chamomile, ripe apricot, pineapple, mint, sage and hazelnut. How neat is that?  Ideal for grilled chicken or fish.  Best value in the release!


FRANO MILOS PLAVAC 2006, Peljesac Peninsula (Croatia); #261636; Price: $19.95; 13.7% ABV
100% Plavic Mali.  Say what?  Grown in sandy soil, Known for its big tannins and deep colour, the latter it gets from its genetic parent, Zinfandel.  Aged in large Slovenian oak barrels.  Try it with BBQ ribs.

BANFI 2009, DOC Rosso di Montalcino (Tuscany); #681262; Price: $22.95; 14.0% ABV
100% Sangiovese.  Rosso is the second wine of Montalcino, behind Brunello.    Maceration for 7 days.  Aged 10 months in a combination of barriques and larger oak barrels, then 6 months in the bottle before release.  It’s one of my favourites and a great value, although the price inches up every year.  Banfi is one of the best producers.


CHÂTEAU LA TOUR DE L'ÉVÊQUE ROSÉ 2011, AC Cotes de Provence (France); #319392; Price: $18.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Grenache (34%), Cinsault (21%), Syrah (17%),
Mourvèdre (17%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%), and “others”…probably white (6%).   Handpicked.  No chemical weed killers, just animal manure and copper and sulphur treatments to control pests and mildew.  Certified organic grapes.

CHÂTEAU D'AQUÉRIA TAVEL ROSÉ 2011, AC Tavel (Southern Rhone); #319368; Price: $18.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Grenache (52%), Syrah (12%), Mourvèdre (11%), Clairette (9%), Cinsault (8%), Bourboulenc (6%), and Picpoul (2%).  Handpicked.  Macerated for 24 hours, giving a deep pink hue, then the juice is bled off the skins.  They blend the juice from the varieties two by two, ferment, and then finally blend the different batches.

MUGA ROSÉ 2011, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #603795; Price: $12.95; 12.5% ABV
A blend of Garnacha (60%), Viura (30%) and Tempranillo (10%).  12 hours of maceration. Fermented for 25 days in 1000-litre oak vats, then aged in the same vats for 2 months before being bottling.  One of the best rosés that Vintages brings us.

Extra!  Extra!

GEORGES DUBOEUF DOMAINE MONT CHAVY MORGON 2010, AC Morgon (Beaujolais); #276477; Price: $17.95; 12.8% ABV
100% Gamay from a very good producer in a very good year.

NATURA ROSÉ 2011, Rapel Valley (Chile); #277962; Price: $13.95; 13.5% ABV
A Rosé from Chile’s preeminent organic winery.

MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION ROSÉ 2011, AC Costières de Nimes (Southern Rhone); #950576; Price: $13.95; 13.5% ABV
It’s typical blend is Grenache (50%), Syrah (30%), and Cinsault (20%).  Made by the Saignée method, by which they bleed the juice off the skins after a short maceration. Fermented in stainless steel.

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