Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 19th - Spain, Portugal and Cali Cults

 The cover stories this week are Portugal and Spain and Cali Cult wines. There are some well priced gems from Spain for fans of the region or for those wishing to expand their palates.  But buyer beware. With the release this week of the Cali Cult wines, the boys and girls of Vintages have also taken the opportunity to load in a few wines from other regions that would normally look expensive but now look positively bargain priced comparatively speaking. And as for those Cali wines, most of them are just too expensive.

All that said, there is some good news. I do think you could buy a case of wine from this release, not spend more than $15 a bottle, and be quite happy.

The White
The Hamilton Russell 2009 South African Chard $29.95 in this release has some real buzz around it. It’s in very limited quantities (99 cases of 6) but should be very nice if a little oaky. If you see it, buy it.

The REDS – Lots to choose
BODEGA COLOME MALBEC $34.95 – A great producer and a WS Top 100 pick, a touch over- priced but a very good wine.  
FETISH – THE WATCHER $19.95 – Another WS Top 100 this year. From a collaboration among Aussie winemakers, growers and artists for whom “wine is more than an obsession, it’s a fetish”. Hmmm, I think I’d prefer my winemaker to have an obsession. Fetish still conjures up images of him or her doing odd things in the barrels. Among Fetish’s other offerings, Playmates, and V-Spot. I suppose Rolf Binder should be applauded for his attempt to go adult with the wine and get away from fuzzy, cutesy, animal names.
D'ARENBERG THE HIGH TRELLIS CABERNET $19.95 – Well priced, quality Cab from Oz. If you must have a cab, it’s either this or the Geyser Peak from California.
PENFOLDS BIN 28 KALIMNA SHIRAZ 2007 $34.95- Always high quality, but too expensive. It seems all Penfolds upper mid priced wines (like the Bin series) are suffering from ISHP (Inflationary St. Henri Pricing) disease and should be at least 15% less. Whatever happened to $29.95 as a viable price point?
MISSION HILL QUATRAIN 2006 $44.95 – Not many cases and expensive, but if you want to show  someone that Canadian wine can be big and bold, this is a good expression of western Canada fruit.
ALTAÏR SIDERAL 2005   $24.95 Again, not huge numbers but a nice wine to serve with grilled beef. Some green flavours, followed by black fruits and tannins, even after 6 years.
GABRIEL MEFFRE LAURUS GIGONDAS  2007 $26.95 – The ’06 was very nice – olive, back fruit, hints of herbs, and this is an OK price for a Gigondas.
CAVE DE MONTERAIL 2009 SEGURET Cotes du Rhone Villages $13.95 – The quality of a named  village for $13.95. Based on vintage and price, a better choice than the following one perhaps.
PERRIN & FILS VINSOBRES LES CORNUDS $17.95 Always good but given a choice between this sub par Vintage 2008 CdRV and the above 2009 at  $4 less, take the bargain one. Better year, almost as good a village.
DOMAINE DU PÈRE PAPE LA CRAU DE MA MÈRE Chateauneuf Du Pape $46.95 – See? This looks cheap compared to California. 3 of these or one Cali ‘cult’ cab? There are better, less expensive CNdP’s available from earlier releases.
TALAMONTI TRE SAGGI MONTEPULCIANO $15.95 A very nice wine at a nice price – the review reads oaky so if you’re allergic to wood, take a pass but if you like toasty vanilla  with your fruit, it could be for  you.
VIÑA MAYOR RESERVA 2004 $25.95 This wine was # 38 in Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2010 scoring 93 points. If you are looking for new world fruit, look elsewhere, but this should be a great food wine and be ready to drink.
LEALTANZA RESERVA SELECCIÓN 2004 $17.95 Lots of cases, so no rush to buy this one. It’s a nice food wine, has some age on it and is well priced.
FINCA SOBREÑO CRIANZA 2007 $17.95 – Another 90 pointer – watch for an abundance of oak
PEIQUE TINTO MENCÍA 2009 $13.95 – Want to try something different? Try this, cheap and cheerful, the Mencia grape is unique to Spain.
MONTEBUENA 2009 $12.95 – Do I really expect a 90 point wine for $12.95? No, but at that price if I get anything even close, I’ll be very pleased!
A few inexpensive ‘could be’ sleepers from Portugal but I’m not familiar with any of them. If I was to risk a pick, this is the one I’d try.
COLUMBIA CREST GRAND ESTATES MERLOT 2006 $15.95 – Another wine that has dropped in price from previous years. While it may not have quite the single vineyard cachet of the H3, it’s always a terrific merlot. Buy a bunch and be glad you did.
GEYSER PEAK $21.95– This standard cab is always good. Nothing earth shattering but easy drinking with BBQ’d burgers. My review? It should be priced with the Columbia Crest merlot above, but it’s not.
All those big Cabs – I’d love a few but the stratospheric prices put them way out of my league.