Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Picks: Vintages Release ─ December 8 2012

We arrive at this week’s release at Vintages, the third of 3 with a holiday theme. This one is Fine Wines and Sparklers for Festive Get-Togethers, which makes me think that the marketing folks at Vintages must be getting tired. Blah, humbug! This is the last release before 2013 (or the last release ever if that Mayan calendar is right). Already looking forward to the Smart Buys in the next release.

There are some expensive items again in this release but at least, among the wines, there’s nothing over $100 and just 10 items over $50. Small mercies.

There’s good variety among the sparkling wines but nothing that makes My Picks, although one merits an Honourable Mention.

Of the 8 wines that do make my list, it’s once again the usual suspects who consistently bring value to your table: Italy, southern France, and Spain. Don’t miss the Mencia from Bierzo.

AMASTUOLA PRIMITIVO 2010, IGP Puglia (Italy); #300004; Price $15.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Primitivo, what the Italians call Zinfandel. Harvested at night to reduce heat stress. Fermented in stainless steel vats with 3 weeks of maceration. Aged in stainless steel tanks with micro-oxygenation. Certified organic grape production.

Off the Beaten Track

ROBERT MONDAVI FUMÉ BLANC 2009, Napa Valley (California); #221887; Price $22.95; 13.9% ABV
A blend of Sauvignon Blanc (90%, sourced from 2 vineyards) and Semillon (10%). Fumé Blanc is a term invented by Robert Mondavi in 1966 to distinguish this dry style from sweeter versions that were then in vogue. 60% barrel fermented. Aged, sur lie, in French oak. Look for tropical and tree fruit flavours with refreshing acidity. Drink within a year.


E. GUIGAL 2009, AC Crozes-Hermitage (Northern Rhone); #704908; Price $24.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Syrah. Fermented for 3 weeks. Aged 24 months in oak barrels. Look for flavours of cassis and vanilla (from the oak).
CHÂTEAU EUGÉNIE CUVÉE RÉSERVÉE DE L'AÏEUL CAHORS 2008, AC Cahors (South West France); #295949; Price $19.95; 13.5% ABV
A blend of Malbec (85%) and Tannat (15%). Fermentation on its skins for 20 days in stainless steel vats. Aged 18 months in oak barrels (1/3 new). Unfiltered (so decant). Look for red fruit, earthy aromas. (Terre de nos aïeux!) Ideal with a winter lamb or game stew. You can drink this one now or put it in the cellar for the next 10 years.
TERREDORA AGLIANICO 2009, IGT Campania (Italy); #602284; Price $15.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Aglianico. Maceration for 7 days. Aged in a combination of oak and stainless steel tanks. Look for aromas of red berries, violets and meat. Not a BIG Aglianico but ideal with hearty winter fare, such as stews and pasta.

BODEGAS DEL ABAD DOM BUENO MENCÍA 2008, DO Bierzo (Spain); #291989; Price $15.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Mencia, a grape that’s indigenous to Bierzo in northwest Spain. Fermented for 10 days in stainless steel tanks; maceration for 20 days. Aged 5 months in American and French oak barrels. Meant for aging. BEST VALUE.
LAN CRIANZA 2008, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #166538; Price $15.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Tempranillo. Aged in American and French oak barrels for 12 months, then several months in the bottle. Not every pizza wine comes from Italy!
LEALTANZA RESERVA 2007, DOCa Rioja (Spain); #208223; Price $19.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Tempranillo. Fermented in stainless steel tanks for 15 days, plus 10 days maceration. Malolactic conversion in French oak vats. Aged 18 months in French oak casks (1 or 2 years old) and then 3 more months in larger French oak vats. Look for aromas of black fruits, spices, and coffee. The winemakers suggest trying it with salmon.

Honourable Mentions

NATURA UNOAKED CHARDONNAY 2011, Casablanca Valley (Chile); #61895; Price $14.95; 13.5% ABV
Chardonnay... yes but …organic (from Emiliana) and unoaked.

JIM BARRY THE LODGE HILL DRY RIESLING 2011, Clare Valley (Australia); #262469; Price $19.95; 12.0% ABV
100% Riesling from the Clare Valley (one of my favourites), a region known for high acid, steely, minerally Rieslings with citrus and floral aromas. Harvested at night. Capable of cellaring for 5 years.

JACQUES DEPAGNEUX CÔTE DU PY MORGON 2011, AC Beaujolais (France); #299925; Price $18.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Gamay. Morgon is the Beaujolais Cru that has the best capability for aging.

A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. As the label says, it’s a sparkling made using the classic method, as in Champagne.

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