Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 27th Vintages - The drying rack, organics, and one 50 Shades of Grapes Review

April 27th delivers a pair of features that are difficult to get enthused about. The first feature is   Appassimento styled wines. The second is the politically and environmentally correct Organic wines. Appassimento wines are an acquired taste but once acquired some nice wines can be had just not from this week. Many of my choices this week are from Italy but only one, and it was a stretch,  is from the ‘Drying art’. The second feature is more of a life choice but finding quality wines worthy of the organic descriptor can be pretty difficult. I don’t hold much hope for this one.
The release earns a VRSS of 62 points. It might be a bit higher if two of the best wines in the release weren’t ISDs.
The Reds
Marchesi de Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni 2010 $20.95 – Always a superior wine at a good price, this Vintage may not be up to my favourite for this wine (2007)  but will still be very good.  Lay down or decant and serve with spring rack of lamb on the bar-B.
Langa Tradicion Centenaria 2008 Garnacha – $14.95- Did you enjoy Tres Picos a while back? If so, jump in with both feet here, this one is 5 bucks less and could be very good.
Suzana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 - $19.95 – From Argentina’s best known female wine maker. Her attention to quality in the vineyard and in the winery is displayed in this wine.
Torrevento Vigna Pedale Reserva 2008 - $20.95 – 3 of 3 from Gambero Rosso the $21 Italian made from the Uva de troia grape. It’s always nice to have a different option or at least a wine that’s off the beaten grape path. This is from Puglia in the south eastern extremity of the heel of the boot that is Italy.
San Jacopo Vichiomaggio Chianti Classico 2009 - $19.95 – Dry, saliva inducing. Where’s that roast pork, eggplant parmesan, veal scallopini, or other rich dish of your choice?
The Rose, Fizzy or White Picks
Carpineto Dogajolo Rosado 2012 $13.95 – Ahhh, those first warm springtime days. Means it’s time for a nice light strawberry hinted rose with some planked salmon or shrimp. Perhaps a duck saucisse snack?
 Huff Pinot Gris 2011- $19.95 This is a tad expensive  for a  sample of ‘The county’s’ dry, bracing Pinot Gris. The slightest hint of pink on this one brings to mind the terrific Kettle Valley PG from BC. Huff is not quite there yet but give them time. Mmmm, has pickerel season opened yet?
Duca di Quadri Catemario  Collezione Privat 2010 $14.95 - Pinot Grigio from Friuli. Has calamari season opened yet? (Yes I know it’s always open.)
Wakefield Clare Valley Chardonnay 2010-$14.95 – Simple, coolish climate chard with ample oak.
Miguel Torres Santa Digna Estelado $18.95 – A sparkler made with 100% Pais grapes. To quote the producer’s website “…..Chile’s oldest grape varietal has been recovered from the past…, a varietal that arrived in the 16th century …cultivated by a large number of small growers".
The Big Bucks
Domaine St. Siffrein Chateauneuf du Pape 2010- $41.95 – A nice example of the 2010 vintage. Sweet, savoury, spicy, juicy.  I could go on. The finish of this wine surely does….But hey, it was 2 bucks cheaper last fall! Vintage? Same. Producer? Same.  Price? 5% increase! WTF?  The Vintages Panel should have given this wine a 50 Shades of Grey review as foreplay to get Ontario shoppers in the mood for the screwing they’re about to get.  Something along the lines of “A turgid wine with long, hard tannins that assault your forgiving tongue while the silky, burgundy coloured elixir pleasures it with fruit and spice. Your tastebuds just begin to acclimatize to the delightful assault flowing across your pink, vibrant, fleshy, mouth-muscle when the scent of soft calfskin fills your nose. You realize too late it’s the unstoppable fingers of the uncaring government bureaucrat roughly peeling open the supple, soft leather of your wallet, plundering  it of your hard earned wad of dough”.  Now that’s an appropriate Vintages Panel review for this wine. The same wine, the same vintage and a 2 buck increase in a few months indeed.
Fontannafreda Barolo Serralunga d’Alba 2007 –$37.95  I really enjoyed the 500ml bottles of this wine in previous releases. Perfect for when I’m bach-ing it! It’s a shame that they’ve reverted to the 750 ml size for this release.
Il Marroneto Brunello di Montalcino 2007 – Age worthy and well scored, if you’re looking for a splurge wine this one gets a terrific review from Antonio Galloni.
Monte del Fra Lena di Mezzo  Amarone della Valpolicella 2007 –$48.95 -  For me, the only choice from either feature.
And a pair of ISDs (In Store Discoveries) that are definitely  worthwhile hunting down
Thorn-Clarke William Randell Shiraz2010 – $45.00 – A big young brut with some subtleties. Think of it as an all pro linebacker who can play concert piano.
Delas Domaine des Grands Chemins Crozes Hermitage 2010 - $31.95. Almost 50 weeks to the day since its last vintage was available, this wine has taken a 10% increase in price. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s probably worth it if you can find it! Want a review? Read the St. Siffrein above.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Vintages April 13 - NZ, Portugal and the county

The April 13th Vintages release focuses on two of the smaller wine producing nations. New Zealand and Portugal are the features along with a nice little tourist feature on ‘the county’.  The NZ  focus is on a small number of very well known wineries  among them Kim Crawford, Cloudy Bay and Dog Point.  Among the three the cult leader  is Cloudy Bay.  Dog Point is almost as famous. Some say that’s the result of their incestuous (or was that oencestuous? ) relationship with Cloudy Bay. All of them  specialize in white wines which are particularly suited to NZ’s climate and soils.  
The second feature is Portugal. It’s interesting to see the disparate perceptions of the wines of the two countries. NZ is seen as an up and comer while Portugal, in spite of a long history of production of very good red and white table wines, is best known for the production of sweet Port. Try as they might, the Portuguese cannot shake the perception that they produce only cheap, cheerful, simple table reds. Publications like the Wine Spectator have tried to shift that paradigm by awarding midpriced Portuguese reds places in their Top 10 wines of the year but people are slow to come around. Perhaps it’s the fact that the most often used grapes are indigenous to Portugal and are simply not widely known outside that little strip of land.
As mentioned, the 3rd feature is ‘the county’. In general, I like the whites, some sparklers  and the odd rose from the county better than the reds. That holds true for all of Ontario though.  If you’re going to take a visit and expect Niagara on the Lake pseudo-sophistication you should take a listen to the Frere Brothers for a preview of county culture. I like it. The county is a proud community of farmers who happen to be able to grow some great grapes among many other great things. 

On to the recommendations.  This is a slightly improved release, 64 points in the VRSS.

Quinta do Portal Frontaria 2009 - $13.95 for a Best Buy 90 pointer. At this price they’ll blow out of the stores I’m sure.
Delaforce Touriga Nacional 2009 -$18.95 From a renowned port house, this is a great sample of Portugal’s equivalent to Cab Sauv, Touriga Nacional. Just don’t expect it to be a cab sauv.
Marques de Caceres Tinto Reserva 2005 – $24.95 - Call me a point whore, but this one made the WS Top 100, scores 91 points from a reviewer’s palate that  I trust and is under 25 bucks!
Domaine de la Tete Noir Tradition Vacqueyras 2010 –$25.95 – Look for intense depth of flavour. A little steep in price for a Vacqueyras but I haven’t picked one in a while.
Balma Venitia Terrasse Pavee Seguret Cotes Du Rhone villages 2010 –$16.95 Another new one for me from the 2010 vintage , Seguret is one of the named ‘villages’ in the CdR. Could be very good.
Le Cirque CMS 2011 -$15.95 – From the Midi in France, I expect a big, solid mouthful at a very reasonable price. Very young , decant this bad boy  for an hour or so.
Castello di Monterinaldi Chianti Classico Reserva 2007 – From a terrific vintage, ready to drink and well priced.  New producer for me , so I’ll try one.
Beaulieu Vineyards Cabernet $25.95 – Well priced for a (somewhat  atypical) Napa cab.
Brampton Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – $15.95 - New Product? I doubt it. If I could dig through my old empty bottles there’d be more than a few of these.  Given vintages predilection for alliteration, I’m surprised there is no mention of the big bull Brampton Beacon Bloomer.
Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $29.95 – If this was the actual tasting note from the Vintages tasting panel, they should all be PUNished. The male Vintages panel members gelded perhaps? 
Of the whites, any of the Kim Crawford offerings always present the best in New Zealand.

Big Bucks
Domaine Durieu  Chateauneuf du Pape 2010 - $35.95 – Still another from the brilliant 2010 vintage, new to me so I’ll buy one just to have it.
La Velona 2007  - Brunello –$38.95 -  Recommended and best served with the 1979 hit by the Knack.  Well ok make that the slightly revised hit…. Two  glasses in and I’ll be singing
Oooo my little pretty one,   my pretty one. 
When you gonna give me some wine, Velona?
Ooh you make my motor run, my motor run. 
Gun it comin' off the line, Velona

Glen Eldon Dry Bore Shiraz 2004 - $46.00 – An ISD so it’ll be rare, at 9 years old, this Barossa beauty will be drinking so well and it makes a nice juicy filling for the two Italian wafers on each side.
Ferdinando Principiano Serralunga Barolo 2007 -$41.95 – Lay it down or decant.
E Guigal Gigondas 2009 – There are Gigondas examples from the slightly better 2010 vintage available for $2 to $5 less. Take a pass for now but watch it, it could go on sale.