Hello and Happy Friday!
It’s back! The “Six for $120,” my brand new sampler that offers six exciting wine values for $120.
In May I introduced this new sampler to all you out their in e–mail land. The feedback has been really great, and I’m excited to keep it going with some new finds.
As with the “Six for $60,” sampler, this is a tremendous way to learn about wine you may not normally pick off the shelf. Order your “Six for $120” today by simply telling me “hey Craig, really hook me up.”
All of these wines are also available by the bottle or case, but for maximum pleasure you should be trying the whole sampler. As always, I am willing to sub something out if you really can’t stand it, but c’mon, how do you know you don’t like it if you didn’t try it?
For maximum wine learning print out the descriptions below, and keep it with your wine. You will have a mini–wine lesson on your hands every month.
These are in stock and ready to go!
Have a great weekend,
2005 BODEGAS ZUGOBER “BELEZOS” RIOJA CRIANZA
I never get tired of drinking the wines of Rioja. It is a wine region that has provided me with thousands of different examples, yet when it comes down to it, I am constantly making new discoveries. The more you drink the wine of the region, the more you recognize its enormous diversity.
Rioja has earned its reputation as one of the greatest wine regions of the world. Tempranillo, sometimes blended with proportions of Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano thrives in three distinctive areas: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja, and Rioja Alavesa.
Aside from the diversity of the soil in the vineyards and climates of the sub-regions, one can spend endless hours learning about the distinctions in production practices of the many terrific producers. The often used traditional vs. modern argument comes up in Rioja, with traditionalists using various ages and sizes of American oak barrels, and modernists using small French Barrique.
House style can sometimes be as important as location, and that is why it is so interesting to taste from as many exciting producers as possible.
Through my tastings I was able to find Bodegas Zugober, a terrific producer located in La Rioja Alavesa. A relatively young producer, started in 1987 by two enologists, Eduardo Gomez and Isabel Bernardo. This is a small producer by Rioja standards, and sells mainly in Spain particularly in the Basque region. Only about 15% is exported to the rest of the world.
2005 was a terrific vintage at Zugober and it shows through in this delicious Crianza. Composed of 95% Tempranillo with the rest Graciano and Mazuelo, it was fermented in tank, and aged in American oak barrels for 14 months.
This aromatic red offers notes of cherry, cedar, and hints of mushroom on the nose. Silky and soft on the palate with medium weight, bright red fruits and a nice snap of acidity on the back end. This really opens up with a bit of time in a decanter or big glass.
Amazingly versatile with food, you can pair this with chicken, pork or lamb. It also works well with different types of peppers. Rioja fans are going to dig this!
$19.00 BTL. / $228.00 CASE
2008 JOHANNESHOF REINISCH ROTGIPFLER
What can I say, I’m big into Rotgipfler these days. Ok, so maybe I can count the number of times I have tasted this obscure Austrian varietal on one hand. Yet it is still a varietal worth trying especially when it comes from a great producer like Johanneshof Reinisch.
Rotgipfler is a cross-bred varietal, a mix of Traminer and Roter Veltliner. It is mainly found in the Thermenregion of Austria which lies directly south of the city of Vienna. This continental climate offers lots of sunshine, and very little rain, while at the same time offering cool breezes from the north.
The Reinisch family has been a leader in the Thermenregion for over 80 years. Based in the village of Tattendorf, they also harvest vineyards from nearby Gumpoldskirschen. This is where the majority of grapes for this wine comes originate.
In my limited experience with the varietal, this is the best interpretation that I have tasted. It also just happens to be a really delicious and exciting white wine.
Bright and very aromatic, this has both some tropical fruit notes as well as citrus notes. The wine has great dimension with medium weight on the palate and well rounded acidity. This wine is a natural to be paired with all things pork.
$19.00 BTL. / $228.00 CASE
2007 BELASCO DE BAQUEDANO “AR GUENTOTA” MALBEC
Old vines, inexpensive labor, consistent growing seasons – everything that one could ask for when looking for the next “it” growing region.
Yes, it is official Argentina is the new “it” growing region. It seems like it happened overnight, the popularity of the Malbec varietal exploding onto the wine scene. In reality, Argentina has a relatively long history of growing grapes. What did happen seemingly overnight is the amount of foreign investment, explosion of wineries, and export of the wines to countries like the United States.
I taste so much Malbec it is hard to keep track, and quite frankly many of them taste the same. When you do taste a really terrific example of Malbec – a light switch goes on.
That is what happened a couple weeks ago when I tasted this really great Malbec from Belasco de Baquedano. A great example of the foreign investment into Argentina, this is owned by the Belasco family who operates four wineries in Spain. They have built a state of the art facility in Agrelo, a sub-region of Luján de Cuyo.
The pride of the Belasco family is not the winery, but the exceptional vineyards. They own over 200 acres of vineyards in the exclusive Agrelo district.
The grapes that go into this exceptional value called “AR Guentota” come from 100 year-old vines that yield just 2.4 tons per acre. The wine is fermented in tank, but aged in new French oak for one year, and afterwards aged in bottle for one year.
You will taste the quality of the fruit in the glass, as it has really intense blackberry and strawberry notes on the nose and the palate, along with hints at cedar, tobacco, and pepper notes. This full-bodied wine is not for someone that likes wimpy wines! It is naturally a good pairing with grilled rack of lamb or a big old hunk of steak.
$19.00 BTL. / $114.00 SIX-PACK CASE
2008 CA’RUGATE SOAVE “MONTE FIORENTINE”
Every once in a while I get to sneak in a really special wine into the “Six for $120. ” It’s kind of like the “Best in Show” of wine. This Soave is one such example.
At its apex the appellation of Soave can produce some of the best white wines of Italy. This is not the over-cropped, innocuous plonk that found its way to America in the 1970’s. Instead, this is the wonderfully layered and detailed expression of the Garganega grape.
The Tessari family has over a hundred years experience in growing Garganega in Northeast Italy. The vineyards for this grape are located in the area of Monteforte d’Alpone at the heart of the Soave Classico region. Monte Fiorentine is a single cru within this area, and the vineyard has volcanic soil rich in minerals.
One could smell this wine all day, as its aromas are really pretty, with notes of stone fruits such as ripe peach and flowers. It is a very elegant and discreet wine on the palate, and if you are a wine geek like me you will appreciate all its detailed nuances. The key with this wine is to not serve it too cold, and to enjoy it with the most simply prepared shellfish or white fish.
For those of you thinking of getting both this sampler and the new “Six for Sixty” to be released next Friday, you are in for a treat. I am putting a great value Soave in next weeks sampler, and it would be great fun to try the two wines next to each other. You will then get a chance to see what that extra cash can get you in terms of complexity. Don’t miss this delicious white wine!
$28.00 BTL. / $168.00 SIX-PACK CASE
V.6.7 SCHERRER ZINFANDOODLE
Fred Scherrer is one of my favorite winemakers in California. Every time I taste one of his wines I am reminded about what that varietal is supposed to taste like.
I think Fred sums it up best when writing about his philosophy – “Everyone seems to believe in doing minimal manipulation with the goal of letting the vineyard site speak. Additionally, I try to make good tasting wine that will age well. ”
The truth is, in the quest to make great wine in California, many wineries have completely forgot this last part to which Fred speaks – it is supposed to be enjoyable and you should want to come back for another glass!
I have fun drinking Fred’s wines, and it is his work with Zinfandel that has for a long time reminded me of how good this grape varietal can taste.
Zinfandoodle is a multi-vintage blend of 100% Zinfandel. Not all the Zinfandel that Fred grows makes it into his “Old & Mature Vines, ” and not all of it even makes it into his wines. Making a multi-vintage blend, in this instance from the 2006 and 2007 vintage, has given him the ultimate flexibility in making the best wine that he can.
Many of Fred’s wines need time in the bottle, but Zinfandoodle is one wine that tastes good from the outset. This is a classic Scherrer wine – pinpoint flavors with layers – and oh so fun to drink.
Expect to find flamboyant brambly notes of blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, cocoa, and spice on the nose and the palate. This wine can work with a lot of different grilled foods, but I particularly like it with things that fly – such as duck or squab.
$18.00 BTL. / $216.00 CASE
2009 DE FORVILLE CHARDONNAY
The world of Chardonnay is a divisive one. Love it, hate it or probably just confused about it.
It is a fact that Chardonnay is one of the most noble grape varietals that we have on earth. So to me then, it isn’t surprising that some places where it is not indigenous have planted it to see how it works in their terroir.
In Italy, Chardonnay can be found in virtually every corner of the country. Because of the diversity of climate and soil, it is really interesting to try the various examples.
One region of Italy that excels in its production of Chardonnay is that of Piedmont. Certain sites within this cool region have been planted with Chardonnay in the last 30 years, and have gained a following.
De Forville is a tiny 10-hectare estate located in the village of Barbaresco. They can trace their roots in the region back to 1848, and established themselves in the wine business in 1860.
It is nearby the village of Barbaresco that De Forville planted Chardonnay in the mid 1980’s. In the winery the grapes are fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, and the malolactic fermentation is blocked. The emphasis is on the fruit and mineral components of the wine.
This unique style of Chardonnay displays notes of spiced pear, white licorice and mineral on the nose. On the palate, it offers medium weight, a touch of pineapple and orange citrus, and a clean, refreshing finish.
An excellent Chardonnay for food, I would drink this with roasted chicken or rabbit loin.
$17.00 BTL. / $204.00 CASE