Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Picks: Vintages Release ─ November 24 2012

The emphasis on holiday extravagance continues this week at Vintages, with the second of what should be 3 consecutive releases with lots of expensive - and often overpriced - offerings.
As always, your faithful servant has scoured the catalogue for worthy choices that meet the criteria for My Picks.  Not surprisingly, only 6 wines made the cut and all 6 come from Italy and southern France.  Even so, just 2 wines are less than $20. 

Off the Beaten Track


TORRE ROSAZZA FRIULANO 2010, DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli (Italy); #289520; Price $19.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Friulano.  Fermented in steel.  Aged on its lees for 4 months in stainless steel.  Look for tree fruit and floral aromas with minerality.  Excellent as an aperitif, the winemaker bravely recommends matching it with eggs and asparagus!


DOMAINE MICHELAS ST-JEMMS SAINTE EPINE 2009, AC Saint-Joseph (Northern Rhone); #296772; Price $31.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Syrah.  Hand harvested.  Aged 12 months in oak.  Family-owned.  Not too expensive for a northern Rhone wine.  Try it with beef or game.

Up next, a couple of Southern Rhone reds, great with braised lamb.

DOMAINE GRAND VENEUR CLOS DE SIXTE 2010, AC Lirac (Southern Rhone); #76349; Price $22.95; 14.5% ABV
A blend of Grenache (50%), Syrah (35%), and Mourvèdre (15%).  Fermented in stainless steel vats with 18 days of maceration.  Family-owned.  Most Lirac producers, including this one, also produce Chateauneuf-du-Pape on the other side of the Rhone River.  But Lirac doesn’t carry the same cachet…or the same price.  Needs another year in the cellar.

PIERRE AMADIEU ROMANE MACHOTTE 2010, AC Gigondas (Southern Rhone); #17400; Price $23.95; 14.5% ABV
A blend of Grenache and Syrah.  Hand harvested.  30-day maceration.  Aged for 12 months, partly in two-year-old oak barrels and partly in larger oak casks.  Family-owned.  Look for dark fruits and dried herbs on the nose.

SALCHETO 2006; DOCG Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Tuscany); #685180; Price $24.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Prugnolo Gentile (aka Sangiovese).  Fermented in large Slovenian oak casks.  Aged partly in those Slovenian casks (18 months) and partly in French oak barrels (6 months), then another 6 months in bottle.  Despite that, this is one of those mystery bottles that turns up every so often at Vintages.  2006, where’s it been?  The winery is working towards being 100% energy self-sufficient, upping the cool factor.

MUSELLA VIGNE NUOVE 2009, DOC Valpolicella Superiore (Veneto); #205757; Price $15.95; 13.0% ABV
A blend of Corvina and Corvinone (70%), Rondinella (20%) and Barbera! (10%) from very young (5 and 10 years old) vineyards.  Maceration and fermentation for 12 days, followed by Malolactic conversion.  Aged for 12 months in 225-litre and 500-litre barrels “of various origins and essence”. Extremely versatile with food.  BEST VALUE!

Honourable Mentions

DOMAINE SPIROPOULOS 2011, PDO Mantinia (Greece); #710970; Price $14.95; 11.5% ABV
The grape variety is Moschofilero, organically grown in Mantinia, which gives the wine a faint pink colour (thanks to short maceration).  Family-owned.  Look for floral aromas (roses, lemon-blossom, bergamot) and crisp acidity.  Organic.
PEWSEY VALE RIESLING 2011, Eden Valley (Australia); #686600; Price $19.95; 12.5% ABV
Look for citrus fruit, white flowers, and minerality.  A taste of paradise.
EWALD GRUBER HUNDSPOINT GRÜNER VELTLINER 2011, Weinviertel (Austria); #298299; Price: $17.95; 13.0% ABV
Gruener Veltliner, the signature white grape variety of Austria.  Known for tree fruit and white pepper flavours with fresh acidity.
CICCHITTI EDICIÓN LIMITADA MALBEC 2008, Mendoza (Argentina); #260893; Price $24.95; 14.0% ABV
Malbec, the signature red variety of Argentina.
DAMALISCO CRIANZA 2008, DO Toro (Spain); #306589; Price $16.95; 14.0% ABV
100% Tinta de Toro (aka Tempranillo).  Aged 10 months in oak.

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