Szabo’s VINTAGES Preview – July 22, 2017

Return of the Pergola, Soave Preview 2016, & Wines I Love (And You Might, Too)
By John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

So, you’ve read that vineyards on pergola are best suited to cheap bulk wine? It’s time to rewrite the textbook. Once shunned, the pergola Veronese, so emblematic of Italian viticulture, is making a comeback. In a separate report – The Pergola: A Return to Ancient Tradition in Soave – Sara d’Amato and I trace its history back to wild times, and explain why the system is fashionable again (spoiler alert: it’s for quality, not quantity). I’ve also listed my top Soaves from the 2016 vintage tasted at the annual Soave Preview in May, as well as some top back vintages currently floating around the market. And from the VINTAGES July 22nd release, themed around “wines you love” and “wines you should love”, I’ve selected a half-dozen reds that I love (and you might too) from Italy, France and Spain, a pair of cracking old world whites, and a tasty local rosé to round it all out.

Wines I Love and You Should Too

John Szabo’s July 22nd VINTAGES Buyer’s Guide: Red

Produttori del Barbaresco 2012 Barbaresco DOCG, Piedmont, Italy ($46.95) A really lovely wine here from the outstanding Barbaresco cooperative, so classically nebbiolo on the lighter, more floral and refined side of the appellation/variety. Tannins are so well-dialled here, fine-grained and elegant, and acids so well integrated. It’s hard to imagine a more immediately pleasing wine from this appellation, also with a classic range of floral, rose, tar and red fruit flavour. I could drink this all day (and night). Best 2017-2024.…

Ontañón 2005 Gran Reserva DOCa Rioja, Spain ($38.95) Evolving, classic Rioja, still remarkably fresh and fruity though showing gran reserva quality to be sure. The palate is perfectly pitched, juicy, succulent, saliva inducing, belying the belief that the Rioja Baja, where Ontañón’s vineyards are, is incapable of producing fresh, balanced wines. Tannins are finely-sanded tannins, ultra-fine indeed, and length is excellent length. Best 2017-2025.

Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2012Ontañón Gran Reserva 2005Theulot Juillot Vieilles Vignes Mercurey 2015

Theulot Juillot 2015 Vieilles Vignes Mercurey AC Burgundy, France ($31.95) Fine value red Burgundy! Snap up this increasing rarity, a generously fruity Mercurey mde from vines planted in 1955 and 19790. It offers ripe, almost strawberry purée/liqueur-like aromatics, accurately reflecting the generous 2015 vintage, while the palate is fullish, fruity, still firm and properly tart in the old world-Burgundian style, with very good to excellent length. It delivers plenty of pleasure now, and will certainly continue to do so over the next 4-6 yeas or more. Best 2017-2023.

Jean-Luc Colombo 2015 Les Forots Côtes du Rhône, France ($21.95) An open, floral, violet-tinged CdR, aromatically closer to northern Rhône syrah (half of the blend) than southern Rhône grenache (the other half), also texturally, in the more rectilinear, firm palate. I like the succulent acids and the chiselled tannins, all well harmonized in the more upright, old world, cooler climate style. Best 2017-2022.

Jean Luc Colombo Les Forots Côtes Du Rhône 2015Château Haut Rozier Cuvée Saint Vincent 2010Umani Ronchi Montipagano Montepulciano D'abruzzo 2015

Château Haut Rozier 2010 Cuvée Saint Vincent, AC Côtes de Bordeaux, France ($16.95) Don’t miss this cracking value, Right Bank red Bordeaux. It’s nicely evolved now, also showing the depth of the superb 2010 vintage, while tannins have softened and acids are nicely balanced. The epitome of ‘petit château’ value. Best 2017-2022

Umani Ronchi 2015 Montipagano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, DOC Abruzzo, Italy ($13.95) Montepulciano shows here what a terrific wine it can produce at an enviably low cost. This is fruity, floral, firm but balanced, juicy and fresh, infinitely drinkable. For all of the over, and under-done, wines in the world, this seems to be comfortable over delivering at an under-valued price. Engaging dark fruit meets cinnamon spice. House wine material.

John Szabo’s July 22nd VINTAGES Buyer’s Guide: White & Rosé

Bernard Fouquet 2015 Le Petit Clos Dry Vouvray Domaine des Aubuisières, AC Loire, France ($21.95) If you don’t know Vouvray, start here. If you do, get excited. Fouquet’s Domain des Aubuisières is a benchmark, and this 2015 from a beautiful 2h parcel called “Le Petit Clos” is marvellously honeyed, floral, apple and lemon-scented, very much in the varietal spectrum. The palate really delivers as well, with its firm, crunchy green apple acids, quivering with tension, and terrific breadth and length, very dry as advertised. A genuine sense of place runs through from start to finish. Best 2017-2025.

Bernard Fouquet Le Petit Clos Dry Vouvray 2015Janare Falanghina Del Sannio 2015Westcott Delphine Rosé 2016

Janare 2015 Falanghina del Sannio DOP Campania, Italy ($16.95) The most planted white grape in Campania, falanghina delivers an intriguing amalgam of lemon peel and wild herb flavours. In this case, from the excellent La Guardiense cooperative, it has almost exotic character, more aromatic than the average, with juicy yellow fruit, grapefruit, apple and especially pear. There’s heaps of character here for the money.

Westcott 2016 Delphine Rosé VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($16.95) Another tasty, serious rosé from Niagara, an increasingly common species, Westcott’s latest entry is a is delicate and dry, fine-grained and elegant, succulent and saliva-inducing pinot-cabernet franc blend. I love the salinity that brings you back for another thirst quenching, and inducing, sip.

That’s all for this report. See you around the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS

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Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon 2014