Sara d’Amato’s Vintages Preview for Sept 3rd, 2011: Bodacious Blends, Italian Unite and International Bonnes Affaires
[Editor's Note: Due to scheduling difficulties John was unable to taste the wines in time for this newsletter. The eminently qualified Sara d'Amato is pinch-hitting for John this week. John's reviews and picks for this release will be available on WineAlign before September 3rd.]
The main theme of the Vintages’ release this week focuses on blended reds with bold, intense flavour profiles. The broad-ranging series includes prized wines such as Quintessa and Yalumba’s The Signature. Among the less celebrated labels however, one wine that grabbed my attention was the2006 LE MONTEIL D’ARSAC AC Medoc $16.95. This wine stood out not only for its price but for its subtlety, elegance and complexity. As well, it certainly exceeds expectations in terms of longevity and quality, especially coming from a somewhat challenging and troubled vintage.
An interesting mini-feature of this release are wines celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Italian unification. Although the exact date of the unification is debatable, it is generally recognized that in 1861, Italy, which had previously been divided and ruled by several European nations after the collapse of the Roman Empire and the disintegration into various city states, became one country under the rule of King Victor Emmanuel II. Although the wines have different vintage dates, they have all been released in 2011, the generally accepted anniversary. A terrific value in this release is the 2006 TERRE DEL BAROLO BARBARESCO Piedmont $24.95 which is just beginning to come into its own. In addition, the 2006 POGGIO VALENTE MORELLINO DI SCANSANO RISERVA Tuscany $34.99 is drinking superbly now but also has the staying power to cellar. This celebratory wine release is a great excuse for a themed party in commemoration of this unity.
The general release is a great mélange of international and local selections with several intriguing odds and ends. The 2007 WOHLMUTH BLAUFRÄNKISCH AC Burgenland Austria $15.95, for example, is a well-priced introduction to the world of Austrian red wine. Blaufränkisch finds its home in the eastern realm of Austria in Burgenland close to the Hungarian border where it is otherwise known as Kékfrankos. Although the variety is often compared to Pinot Noir, this example is more akin to a beefy Gamay with similar spice, floral and cherry notes.
Delivering a big impact, seductiveness and style is the 2008 MULLINEUX SYRAH WO Swartland South Africa $28.95. A mere 50 km from Cape Town, in the Western Cape, Swartland’s vineyards are free of irrigation and are home to some of South Africa’s top and most progressive wineries. Named after the dark “rhino bush” (Swart, meaning black) the region is best known for its success with Rhone varietals and blends.
Finally, a modern style and wonderfully complex Chardonnay from the cooler region of Central Victoria is not to be missed. The 2010 MCPHERSON BASILISK CHARDONNAYCentral Victoria Australia $17.95 is inviting and refreshing with an almost perfect natural balance. Sustainably produced, this Chardonnay boasts beautiful floral aromatics, zesty citrus notes and steely minerality.
Cin Cin! Happy tasting and enjoy what is left of this tempestuous summer,
From the September 3rd Vintages release: