Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Picks: Vintages Release ─ January 5 2013

Happy New Year!

After Vintages’ excesses of the holiday season, with lots of high-end beverages on offer, the New Year brings one of my favourite releases:  Smart Buys.  Along with 2 of the featured wines, the cover on the Vintages catalogue shows a piggy bank, some loose change on the table, and a pair of wire-rimmed glasses.  The subliminal message is that these are wines that a miser would love.  Well, if the shoe fits…

Despite that, the pickings are a bit slim, with just 1 white and 4 reds.  And nothing organic.  Part of the reason for the smaller selections recently is that the criteria for My Picks are getting a bit “tighter”, with more focus on wines that come in at less than 14.5% alcohol-by-volume and on independent and family-run wineries.  In the case of the latter criteria, it's difficult and sometimes surprising to find out who the real owner of a winery is.
Off the Beaten Track     


TIKI PINOT GRIS 2011, South Island (New Zealand); #295279; Price $17.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Pinot Gris from a cool climate.  Fermented in stainless steel with cultivated yeasts.  Ideal as a winter aperitif.  Drink now.


DE MARTINO LEGADO RESERVA CARMENÈRE 2010, DO Maipo Valley (Chile); #236059; Price $16.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Carmènere.  Fermented with indigenous yeasts.  Aged for 14 months in previously used oak barrels.  The bottle is lightweight and made from recycled glass.

M. GASSIER NOSTRE PAIS 2010, AC Costières de Nîmes (Southern Rhone); #295410; Price $18.95; 14.5% ABV
A blend of Grenache (25%), Carignan (25%), Mourvèdre (20%), Cinsault (15%), and Syrah (5%) from the southern Rhone (yes, Costières de Nîmes is part of the southern Rhone, not Languedoc).  Hand harvested.  Aged in French oak barrels for 6 months; half on its lees.  No filtration, so decanting is advised.  Extremely flexible with food, such as roasted or braised lamb, veal, or duck.  From a family-run winery.

DONNACHIARA IRPINIA AGLIANICO 2008, DOC Irpinia (Campania); #262956; Price $18.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Aglianico from Irpinia, the same region that produces DOCG Taurasi.   Aged in oak barrels for 4 months.  An ideal choice with braised game with a mushroom sauce.  Not meant for extended aging, so drink this one now.

COTO DE HAYAS CENTENARIA GARNACHA 2011, DO Campo de Borja (Spain); #94805; Price $17.00; 13.0% ABV
100% Garnacha from Aragon, just southeast of Rioja. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, followed by 4 weeks of maceration on its skins.  Aged 4 months in American oak barrels.  Try it with roast pheasant.

Honourable Mentions

SANTO ASSYRTIKO 2011, PDO Santorini (Greece); #627760; Price $16.95; 13.5% ABV
100% Assyrtiko, the signature white grape variety from Santorini.  Known for its crisp acidity and minerality.
RABL ST-LAURENT 2009, Kamptal (Austria); #301960; Price $15.95; 13.0% ABV
100% Saint-Laurent.  Similar in style to Pinot Noir and like Pinot Noir it’s a bit fussy about where it’s grown.  Seems most at home in Austria.
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