Friday, December 9, 2011

The Last Vintages Release of 2011 and some WS Top 100 comments

Before I get into my release notes, a couple of comments on the Wine Spectator Top 100 issue that just hit the streets.  To me there are two big winners. The first is Washington State. They’ve placed 7 wines in the Top 100, but if you look more closely all 7 are actually  in the Top 50! Considering the number of wineries globally and even taking into account the WS proclivity for jingoism, this is a terrific showing. Perhaps we’ll see more products come thru the LCBO as a result. The second big winner is a huge surprise. WS columnist Matt Kramer picks his own wines of the year – wines that have made a huge impact on him over the previous 12 months – and his first choice was Norman Hardie’s 2008 (and ’09) PEC Chardonnay. He gives Norman, his white wine, and the County  a glowing write up. Congrats to Norman .
 The final release of 2011 is about to hit the shelves and here I am unable to drink! Where’s the justice in that , I ask you? After the last couple of releases,  price wise  this one seems positively penurious. That’s not to say we aren’t getting  gouged on the pricing of a number of the wines but overall they’re back  down from the recent stratospheric offerings.
And it is a good release, a very good release with which to say goodbye to 2011.
The Top 3 for me ‘Quality for the Dollar’  wise are the Cremant D’Alsace from Pierre Sparr at $16.95, the Carles Andreiu Brut Nature Cava from Spain at $15.95 or the Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Sparkling wine at $21.95.
From BC comes the latest vintage (2007) of the critically acclaimed Osoyoos Larose. Yes it’s $99.95 but it’s a big 1500ml bottle for that price.
Two Cabs from California
There are a number of really good wines in this release from California but many are priced out of range. To me, the  better buy is the 2008 Directors Cut from Francis Ford Coppola. At $34.95, this isn’t cheap but last year’s was a terrific wine – smoke, currant, cedar and hints of loam. Great with a roast beef or rack of lamb. Close on its heels and 10 bucks less expensive is the Raymond Family Classic 2008. Lots of fruit with ample tannins to support it but ready to drink.
If the Southern Rhone component of this release wasn’t so good, I ‘d have said this is an Argentina focused release! You can’t go wrong with any of the wines from Argentina in the release.
My pick is the Cicchitti Edicion Limitada Malbec 2008 at $23.95 and I always enjoy the Clos De Los Siete.   2008 should be no different. Cab Fans? Try Suzanna Balbo’s Signature Cab blindfolded against the Raymond family above – but decant it first!
If you’re looking for an upscale malbec, try  the Trapiche  Jorge Miralles Single Vineyard offering. It’s expensive at $39.95 but remember each year Trapiche picks the 3 best of their vineyards and bottles the wines under the vineyard owner’s/ manager’s  name. One of them made the WSTop 100 in 2010. Michael  Schachner preferred this one to the one the WS put in its Top 100 so I’m thinking it’s more than good. Where’s that prime rib?
Is this a price error? Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexander has always been $31 to 34bucks, hasn’t it?! $24.95? Perhaps there really  is a Santa Claus!
Montes Alpha  Cabernet Sauvignon2009 – Can never go wrong with this wine at this price.
I like the D’Arenberg High Trellis and better still I like that it’s keeping the price point unlike a few of the D’arenberg wines  $19.95 
The Rhone
If the Argentinian  component of this release wasn’t so good, I ‘d have said this is an Southern Rhone  focused release! You can’t go wrong with any of the wines from the Southern Rhone in the release.
You know I’m going to pick the Vacqueyras ( Les Haut de Castillas @ $19.95)  and the Gigondas at $27.95 but the Cotes du Rhone  at $14.95 is a good buy as is  the CdR Villages Rasteau from Perrin et Fils @ $19.95.
Of the two Chateauneuf du Papes, I had an ’05 Clos Du Calvaire recently and was blown away by the mouthfeel and gobs of fruit on the palate. At $34.95, the 2009 in this release strikes me as the better of the two choices.
The Pesquera Crianza 2008 $27.95 for laying down .