Sara’s Sommelier Selections – Jan 18, 2014
Up for adventure? So am I at this time of year. Whether it is because of the weather that puts me in an escapist mindset or because of an idealist New Year buzz, I’m open to new experiences. So, for those of us who are stranded at this time, I’ve put together a list of exciting gems in this recent release that will hopefully satisfy the adventurer in you. Besides, a sommelier has an important responsibility to introduce unfamiliar, unusual and memorable new wines to their guests. So, have your Tilley hats at the ready along with your finest crystal and let’s brave the unheralded finds of this wintry Vintages release.
Mas Des Bressades Cuvée Tradition Blanc 2012
Costières De Nîmes, Rhone, France
We begin our world tour on familiar ground – the south of France. We start the selections off somewhat comfortably with a traditional white blend from the southern Rhone. Deliciously exotic, versatile, often crowd-pleasing and certainly outside of the norm at the dinner table. These are the wines that sommeliers love to pour for you in order to widen your experience without taking you out of your comfort zone.
Food Match: Crab cakes
L.A. Cetto Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Guadalupe Valley, Baja California, Mexico
That’s right, Mexico! In order to grow grapes in this hot climate, the place must be chosen carefully. Baja California is a coastal, peninsular state located just south of California across the Mexican border. Most of the agriculture, including grape growing for the purposes of wine is limited to particular, narrow, mineral-rich valleys whose altitudes allow for enough moisture and moderate enough temperatures for growth. Surprisingly, this wine is far from sun-baked or over-ripe. Rather, there is a real elegance and vibrancy here and certainly with more complexity than one would expect given the price.
Food Match: Cassoulet with sausage
Clos Teddi Patrimonio Tradition 2011
Corsican wine is certainly something you don’t see on the shelves every day and I was therefore thrilled that this one was also a terrific example. Produced from nielluccio – the most widely planted grape of Corsica that must make up a great majority of the blends of the northern coastal region of Patrimonio. Some believe this varietal to be a clone of sangiovese and others regard it as native to the region. Certainly, there are some notable similarities to sangiovese but the aromatic profile of sandalwood, anise, wild herbs and kirsch is certainly unique. In addition, the heat seeking grenache is blended in for added juiciness and softness. Neither varietals are particular dark in colour but nor are they short on flavours.
Food Match: Roast duck
Boutari Grande Reserve 2007
The wines of Naoussa are planted with the xinomavro grape variety – huge on complexity and best appreciated after at least 3-5 years of age. If you have a penchant for aged northern Italian wines, this captivating Greek wine at a small price will wow you. Avoid pairing with foods that are too rich and spicy.
Food Match: Coq au vin
Planets De Prior Pons 2009
Finally a wine well-suited to mid-term cellaring from the progressive Catalonian region of Priorat in northeastern Spain, not far from Barcelona. You can expect wines emerging from this area, rife with quality-driven producers, dominated by grenache and carignan, to prove surprisingly modern and richly flavoured. A unique mineral character is often distinguishable due to the region’s hilly terrain featuring intriguing black slate soils. This version is produced from a blend of old vine grenache and carignan with the balance made up of 40% cabernet sauvignon. It is both intriguing and crowd-pleasing with substance and charm.
Food Match: Osso Buco
Santé et Bon Voyage!
Editors Note: You can find Sara d’Amato’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!
From the Jan 18, 2014 VINTAGES release: