2010 Telmo Rodríguez “Al Muvedre” Tinto Joven, Alicante, Spain
As a winemaker, the power of perception is in one’s hands. Often the wine consumer gives a region or varietal a single chance to impress. So it is important then to be authentic, to offer someone an impression that truly tells that tale.
Telmo Rodríguez and his partner Pablo Eguzkiza are committed to showing the world what indigenous treasures Spain has in its varied regions. Working closely with farmers in 9 different zones of Spain, they produce an authentic range of wines, many of which are remarkable values.
Al Muvedre comes from the Alicante region of Spain located on the Southern Mediterranean coast of Spain, not too far away from Valencia. Monastrell is the main grape of the region, a synonym for the Mourvèdre of Provence. Contrary to what many believe, Monastrell originated in Spain, and then spread to other regions with long, warm growing seasons. It needs heat especially toward the end of its growing cycle, and really benefits from cool night time temperatures and wind.
Telmo and Pablo source traditional bush-vine Monastrell, hand picking the fruit, using indigenous yeasts, and fermenting in a mix of concrete and stainless steel tanks.
I’ve offered many a Monastrell on the Six for $60-Something before, yet this is the one I would choose to best represent the authenticity of the grape and its region. It is a delightful representation towing the line between dark and red berry fruit, but never losing that pepper edge.
Drink alongside a lamb tagine, redolent with Ras El Hanout, raisins, saffron and almonds. A terrific Spanish value.
$12.00 BTL. / $144.00 CASE
2008 Meinklang Blaufränkisch, Burgenland, Austria
Here’s a question: What is the name of heaven is Blaufränkisch? This is yet another progeny of that gloriously fecund Mother variety, Gouais Blanc, and a parent of Gamay Noir (the Beaujolais grape). Sometimes in Germany, and curiously enough, Washington State, it is also called Lemberger. Always with Blaufrankisch, there is a velvety soft texture. It’s dark-hued, nearly always bursting with dark, plump ripe berry flavors and an aromatic agenda of potpourri laden with lavender.
Meinklang is a large, bio-dynamically farmed property in Burgenland, right on the Hungarian border. The vines are not viewed as a mono-species on the farm, there to produce a sellable product, but rather as a biotope, an aspect of the entire whole. A herd of 300 cattle resides on the property, and ancient wheats such as emmer and einkorn are cultivated, as well as apples, maize & sunflowers. We are merely a few woolen trousers and one pair of sensible, leather boots away from our utopian dream of farm work and a life void of materialism.
But getting back to the business at hand, isn’t it time to relinquish those silly pipe dreams of finding super cheap Pinot Noir, and instead turn to something fruity, round and infinitely more interesting?
$10.00 BTL. / $120.00 CASE
2006 Domaine du Mas Blanc Collioure “Cosprons Levants,” Roussillon, France
Collioure is located in the Roussillon, intrinsic to and immeshed within the Banyuls dessert wine region. It is essentially the dry wine zone for the region. It makes sense; even the people of Banyuls don’t always want to drink something fortified and sweet.
Collioure AOP allows for white, rose and red wines. The 2006 Domaine du Mas Blanc red comes from an ancient and historical property, 900m from the sea. This is where Catalon recklessness and French sensibility meld into one, gigantic, Mediterranean cloud. It’s cepage is a blend of the usual suspects; Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre & Carignan.
Because we were able to purchase an older vintage, seven years of bottle age have bought you a noticeable softening of tannins and marked lessening in reduction. This guy is ready for drinking action; and offers immediately a supple, fruity kiss of a mouth, and nuances of dried sage and violet flowers.
If you still eat carbohydrates, we recommend a pizza, not the cheese & tomato kind, but the über umami, anchovy, caramelized onion and olive strewn kind. Or, how about some lamb tartare, capers and salted almonds?
$15.00 BTL. / $180.00 CASE
2011 Fattoria Laila Verdicchio del Castelli di Jesi, Marche, Italy
The variety Verdicchio is responsible for fresh, everyday drinking whites that arrive without pretense or fuss. It is widely planted in the sub-region of Marche, in Central Italy on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. Fattoria Laila (the Laila farm) is located in Corinaldo, in the gently undulating hills of the Marche not far from the sea.
I like to think of this Verdicchio as a nice way to start an evening. It is light and savory, with hints of meyer lemon, orange and wildflowers. There are nuances of honey and bitter almond and it’s levity and freshness remains pure, unencumbered by oak aging.
It is certainly fine for drinking alone, or with a small snack, perhaps some nuts & cheese. You can drinking it while you are cooking dinner, and you won’t be felled by heaviness or extraction.
Even though you may be gravitating towards heavier reds to ward off these frigid days, I think it’s nice to have a nip of something light and white around, of not for warmth but for the promise of warmer days ahead.
$10.00 BTL. / $120.00 CASE
2010 Riebeek Cellars Pinotage, Swartland, South Africa
This wine is markedly South African, made from the country’s signature red grape variety, Pinotage ( a cross between Pinot Noir & Cinsault) and named for Jan van Riebeeck, founder of Cape Town and the first person to plant vines there, in 1655.
Swartland is the most northerly of the 9 sub-districts of the Coastal region, South Africa’s most prolific wine region. Although many international varieties are planted all over South Africa, the most interesting grapes have proven to be Chenin Blanc (called Steen there) and Pinotage.
Pinotage is capable of making complex and compelling wines. It inherits a fruity silkiness from its Pinot Noir parentage, and spicy smoke and cinnamon qualities from its Cinsault side. Riebeek Cellars offers black and red fruit, soft textures and a little fresh earth.
$9.00 BTL. / $108.00 CASE
2009 Malpertuis Bordeaux Rouge, France
Are the wines of Bordeaux “sexy” to the young American wine consumer? The answer would have to be a resounding no. It is difficult to be appealing when you don’t have a story. The lack of flair comes from Bordeaux’s long history of a business-like approach to wine.
Lost in all of this is the fact that Bordeaux is producing some excellent values, technically well-made wines, that do excite from a price quality ratio.
This wine is a perfect example of the juxtaposition between quality and sex appeal. Malpertuis is produced and bottled by a large négociant, that has purchased the grapes from growers in the southeastern edge of the appellation on the banks of the Garonne. The age of the vines are a healthy 40 years-old. This wine is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet, fermented and aged using indigenous yeast all in vat.
All in all this is a delicious wine, especially for its $9 price tag. It offers notes of cherry, dark plum and spice, all framed nicely in a medium-bodied package.
The négociant says it goes well with “sauced foods,” whatever that means. We’re more likely to pair it with a simple but elegant dinner of Steak au Poivre with a potato gratin.
$9.00 BTL. / $108.00 CASE