Things return to normal this weekend at your local Vintages corner. Normal, of course, means that the hedonistic wines and prices we saw in November and early December have been replaced by a selection of wines that is more reasonable to the pocket book, but unfortunately not as value-laden as we saw two weeks ago.
Wines from Spain are featured along with a Chile and an Argentina sub-feature. The Spain feature is the most interesting as it includes a preponderance of wines from less well-known regions. A handful of wines are presented from each of the big regions, Rioja and Ribera del Duero, but the majority of the wines are from places we don’t often see (Valencia, Toro, La Mancha, etc.). Two wines from outlier regions make my list
Good on you, Vintages team. It’s nice to see you take some adventurous risks!
Ontario, Prince Edward County – VQA Prince Edward County Rosehall Run Hungry Point Unoaked Chardonnay 2013
I have always been a fan of the County Chardonnays from Rosehall Run, for both character and value. This is one of the best from this maker yet, and it’s unoaked to boot. This wine shows the delightful bright personality of a true cool-climate Chardonnay: green apple and citrus fruit and taut acid. There is a stony minerality and a ripe texture that lends some added complexity. The finish is long. Very good wine and very good value; especially if you enjoy the character of Chablis.
Extra dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle
France, Southwest – AOC Jurançon Sec Château de Jurque Fantasie 2012
We rarely see wines from this small appellation in the south west of France. This is probably due to the small size of the appellation and the hard-to-sell exotic grape varieties used to make these wines: Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng. Despite the local low profile of the appellation, this wine is one I highly recommend. It has oodles of lemon, honey, tropical fruit and flinty minerals. Arguably the best Jurançons are sweet but this wine is bone dry with elevated acids. Fantasie craves food and would be a perfect match with an Easter ham. Serious and four-square wine, this.
Dry, white wine – $19.95 per bottle
Australia, Coonawarra, South Australia – Nugan Estate Alcira Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Coonawarra is the region in Australia which sets the national benchmark for Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a small, densely-planted winegrowing region with a distinct maritime climate, meaning it is warm but with the benefit of moderating influence from the sea, even though the vines are some 60 km from the water. In the glass this wine reflects its fruit, not its winemaking – translated, there is brilliant cassis accompanied by eucalyptus, violet, bright acid, flaky tannins and stony minerals. Don’t look for over-ripe fruit and tons of sweet wood. This is a delightful wine that will re-imagine Southern Australia for many readers. Great!
Extra dry, red wine – $24.95 per bottle
Spain, Jumilla– DO Jumilla Macho Man Monastrell 2012
If there were a prize for the most silly wine label, this wine would win hands’-down. MMM is a perfect demonstration of why we should not buy a wine based on the appeal of its label. This said, let’s talk about the wine.: Jumilla is a winegrowing region in south-eastern Spain, noted for intense heat. Monastrell is a grape normally used in blends where it adds structure, colour and depth (for context, in France this grape is known as Mourvédre). This variety needs heat and a long season to fully ripen and thus Jumilla is an ideal for a place to cultivate Monastrell. MMM is a solid wine with plenty of black fruit, medium-weight tannins and bright acid. Finely-balanced and well-structured, this is a wine to buy now for summer barbecues.
Extra dry, red wine – $18.95 per bottle
Spain, La Mancha – Vino de la Tierra de Castilla Finca Los Alijares Graciano 2009
La Mancha is the largest wine region in Spain (in the world, for that matter), known for its arid conditions and generally for its agricultural output. The vine density in this part of Spain is very low so yields are low and thus the quality of fruit can be high. As the region sits on a high plateau the climate is cooler than the latitude might otherwise suggest – this is good for fruit expression and structure. Graciano is rarely seen on its own, typically appearing as part of blend in the more northerly region or Rioja. It is a grape that displays black fruit, firm, dry tannins, elevated acid and earth notes. This is a beautiful wine that would benefit from several years in the cellar. Buy lots!
Extra dry, red wine – $17.95 per bottle
I close this posting with a follow up on my notes from the last Vintages release.
In those notes I recorded an unprecedented two Run, don’t walk wines. RDW wines are unique values that portray character well-beyond the humble price they command and are truly rare. Over the past 9+ years I may have designated some 30 wines to this lofty category so these are truly special.
I describe these as wines you should run to buy. If you don’t run, there is a great likelihood there will be none left on the shelves when you reach your Vintage shop.
I understand many readers were disappointed when they were unable to buy one of my RDW wines from the last release: AOC Haut-Médoc Château Beauséjour Hostens 2010 ($22.95 per bottle). This was a small Vintages purchase of less than 250 cases and it apparently received kudos similar to mine across the local wine critic community. Hence, this wine didn’t last.
A word to the wise: literally Run, don’t walk NOW, when you see my RDW signal!
Copyright © W. John Switzer 2003 – 2015