This weekend’s release might be the largest, measured by number of sku’s, in the annals of the Vintages program. I count 137 different listings in the release (not counting 4 additional sku’s for Ch. Leoville-Les Cases, obviously wines bought from different Bordeaux shippers).
The size of the release is driven by a large number of feature wines in three sub-features: Thanksgiving, Portugal and regional pioneers. For this reviewer the Portugal feature is the one of greatest interest.
Why is this so?
First, Portugal is the home of a wide array of indigenous grape varieties. These varieties are both white and black in colour but more importantly they offer wonderful colour, structure and flavour with a commonly-found expressive fruit and bright acid personality. Secondly, the wines of Portugal are rarely expensive value. Modest prices and wines of wonderful character deliver enormous and consistent value.
With this background it should be no surprise that two of the Portugal feature wines make my list this week (even considering that one of my selections is a blend of indigenous varieties with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot).
September 27, 2014 Release Selections
France, Loire – AOC Vouvray Clos de Vigneau 2012
Vouvray is an appellation which confuses many wine lovers. This confusion comes from the fact that still or sparkling Vouvray comes in both dry and sweetish styles, yet the label often does not distinguish one level of sugar from another. Thus there often can be an element of unfortunate surprise for the consumer when the bottle is opened. This wine is a dry Vouvray with just a hint of sweetens, sweetness that is balanced by a taut acidity that is the hallmark of wines from this part of the Loire valley. In the glass this wine delivers citrus fruit, honey, flinty minerality and a round, rich mouth feel. The finish is long and clean. This is a fine Vouvray and will evolve well in your cellar for the next 3 -5 years.
Dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle
Portugal, Vino Verde – DOC Vinho Verde Monção e Melgaço Deu la Deu Alvarinho 2013
For many, Vinho Verde (along with Mateus or Lancers rosé) defined Portuguese wines. That is, until the late 1980’s when the Portuguese wine industry started its journey to modernization courtesy the benefits of funding from the European Union. This is a classic Vinho Verde with an aromatic lime and floral nose and a complex palate of lemon, lime, and green apple. The body is light but the texture of this wine is taut with assertive acid and flinty minerals. The finish is clean with a light saltiness. Serve with roasted or grilled chicken.
Dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle (Portugal feature wine)
Portugal, Lisboa – DOC Lisboa Quinta de Panca Selecção do Enólogo 2010
This wine is made in the Estramadura region north of Lisbon, an area of many small growers and a number of large co-operatives. Quinta de Pancas is known for its success as a maker of wines from international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, this wine is made from a blend of indigenous Portuguese varieties with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The result works: this is a complex wine with an intense nose and palate with ripe dark fruit, spice and smoke, brilliant acid round tannins and a long spicy finish. This is a perfect wine for winter comfort food such as stews or chili. Great value!
Extra dry, red wine – $18.95 per bottle (Portugal feature wine)
Spain, Rioja– DOCa Rioja Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva 2005
You will know this wine when you see it on the shelf by its retro-1940’s style label. The label is fitting as this reserva is made in the mode of the traditional school with plenty of time spent in oak barrels, beyond the minimum maturation required by the DOCa regulations. Despite its age this is fresh and bright Rioja, a blend of 90% Tempranillo with some Garnacha and Graciano. The depth and structure of this wine is a delight, especially considering its price: dark berry and cherry fruit, crisp acid, firm tannins and a rustic, medium-length finish. This wine can be enjoyed now but has the bones to evolve nicely for another 3 to 5 years in your cellar.
Extra dry, red wine – $18.95 per bottle
USA, California, Sonoma County – Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay 2011
Long time readers will know I have a soft spot for the wines of the Carneros zone, a wine growing area which straddles the bottom of both Sonoma and Napa counties on the northern reaches of the San Pablo Bay. The cool, damp breezes from the bay lend the zone as a natural place to grow grapes which make bright, delicate, crisp wines, many of which are sparkling. Gloria Ferrer is a property of the Freixenet group of Cava fame, one of many sparkling wine makers who came to this region some 30+ years ago to exploit the attractive local growing conditions. This wine is a refined, balanced beauty with a lime, toast, leesy character all sitting on a medium-weight, crisp body. Subtle, expressive and finely-balanced, this is a very fine wine.
Extra dry, white wine – $24.95 per bottle
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