This week’s selections come from a variety of places in the Old and New World and all are exceptional values and all are finely-tuned, balanced wines. Two wines have become regulars on the Vintages roster and – true to form – they get my nod each time they appear.
Australia, Victoria – Domaine Tournon Mathilda Shiraz 2011
This wine is made by Michel Chapoutier, better-known as a biodynamic grower, based in the village of Tain l’Hermitage across the river from the town of Tournon in the Rhône valley of France. Victoria is a generally cool zone of Australia and this wine shows the best characteristics of a cool-climate Shiraz: crisp, juicy texture, black berry fruit and black pepper and modest alcohol. There has been no wood used in fermentation and maturation so the fruit expression is pure and bright. This is a well-balanced wine in every way and will be a pleasure to consume with grilled pork or veal chops.
Extra dry, red wine – $19.95 per bottle
France, Southern Rhône – AOC Saint-Joseph J.L. Chave Sélection Offerus 2011
Chave is a long-established maker in the northern Rhône with wine growing roots which reach back to 1481 (read more about the Chave story in Adventures on the Wine Route, by Kermit Lynch). Chave is better known for its Hermitage, but this wine stands on its own merits and is a stunner. Saint-Joseph wines are lighter in body than some of the other appellations in the north such as Côte-Rôtie or Cornas and the alcohol in this wine comes in at a modest 13.5%. This is a classically-made wine which displays the best of northern Syrah: pepper spice, savoury notes, black berry fruit, juicy acid and medium-weight sleek tannins. Buy a few bottle and put them down for the next few years.
Extra dry, red wine – $33.95 per bottle
California, Sonoma Coast – Cline North Coast Viognier 2012
Cline is a value maker which specializes in wines made from Rhône valley varieties, such as Viognier. This wine is full in flavor, body and character – it punches well above its price. It has the markers Viognier including intense aromatics of ripe tree fruit and white flowers, flavours of ripe peach and honey on the palate and a soft, off-dry, crisp texture.
Dry, white wine – $17.95 per bottle
Spain, Catalunya – DO Catalunya Torres Viña Esmeralda 2012
Viña Esmeralda is one of my all-time favourite wines, not only because of its low price but also for its unique and food-friendly character. It is a blend of Moscatel and Gewürztraminer, two distinctive grapes on their own, but a heaven-sent experience when blended. Viña Esmeralda is a delicate, feminine wine with intense aromas of spice, lychee and white flowers and a bright and intense palate of citrus, lychee, cinnamon and ripe pear. The alcohol is a lowish 11% and the residual sugar brings this wine in as off-dry. Serve as an aperitif or with a starter dish such as pâté.
Off-dry, white wine – $14.95 per bottle
Portugal, Dão – DO Dão Quinta das Camélias Reserva 2010
The red wines of the Dão are bright, tangy and fresh. This beauty delivers these elements with style and does so at a great price. There is complexity and structure on both nose and palate, reflecting a typical Portuguese blend of black varieties, dominated by Touriga Nacional. You will find juicy, black berry fruit, aromatic spices, herbs, violets and vanilla. The wine was matured in wood (oak chips, probably at this price) and the oak is currently out of balance with the fruit. Give this wine a couple of years to resolve the imbalance and serve with roast chicken.
Extra dry, red wine – $13.95 per bottle
Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2014.