Michael Godel’s Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES April 13th

by Michael Godel, with notes from Steve Thurlow and Sara d’Amato

These last few weeks have begun to afford the WineAlign crü some reduced travel time, to get busy recharging and refocusing on what is right in front of our eyes. Tastings have centred on wine coming into our market from so many varied channels and now here we are, returning to your inbox with all in recommendation vengeance for this week’s Buyers’ Guide to the imminent arrivals at VINTAGES on April 13th. David and John were finishing up their winter journeys so Steve, Sara and I set to the task of tasting through the release.

Michael Godel

The first turn towards warm weather is cause to consider aromatic whites and boom, what a coincidence! VINTAGES obliges with examples that have caught our attention; torrontés out of Argentina and riesling from both the old country (Rheinhessen) and the new (New York). What really piques our interest from April 13th is an old friend and great contributor to many releases past. If you guessed Bordeaux you would be correct.

Bordeaux has been the punching bag and recipient of much ado malign these past few years, mainly due to a negative public perception with regards to ego, attitude, success fatigue and most of all, pricing. What so many consumers fail to consider are land prices, production costs and inflation caused by global market demand. Though the wines of several dozen growth and garagiste Bordeaux houses have risen into the stratosphere since the much-hyped (turn of) the century 2000 vintage, there are as point of fact many dozens more that have quietly flown under the radar. This release give us a glimpse or cross-section of those unheralded estates of not just excellence, but also value.

The team found solid consensus from and for a half dozen Bordeaux reds and at prices ranging from $20-60, with drinking windows that begin today and travel well into the next decade. In this regard there is a Bordeaux for every price bracket, from quality to price ratio and for laying down in the cellar. We also have a few additional miscellaneous red picks, including a remarkable value in Chianti Classico Riserva from the organic village of Panzano in Chianti.

Vegan Wine Pairing 


Familia Zuccardi Santa Julia Organica Torrontés 2018, Mendoza, Argentina ($13.95)
Sara d’Amato – While I typically look to the more northerly region of Salta for elegant torrontés, Zuccardi has managed to put forth a great value example from Mendoza that is polished and restrained yet still with a great deal of charm. Peach, pear and rose with a dry, salty palate, this torrontés avoids the trapping of being too intensely perfumed or overly alcoholic.
Steve Thurlow – There is a lovely fragrant nose to this well balanced organic white. Expect aromas of ripe peach fruit with tangerine and floral tones. The aromas might make you think it was sweet but it is bone dry with a rich creamy palate but rather an austere finish. Decent length. Lovely nose.
Michael Godel – Here torrontes from the lower elevations of Mendoza delivers more strength, weight and metallic notes than what comes from higher altitudes. Florals are there but caught in the density of the fruit and acidity is but a whisper to keep it honest and alive. Nice work in a very correct example.

Wittmann 100 Hills Trocken Riesling 2017, Qualitätswein, Rheinhessen, Germany ($17.95)
Michael Godel – The name refers to a beautiful landscape no doubt and if these 100 hills could talk they would tell you about the free verse classicism afforded to riesling from the Rheinhessen. For the price of a song (or a poem) you get citrus, high acidity and length.

PG Zaumau Tempranillo Blanco 2017, Rioja, Spain ($18.95)
Sara d’Amato – An elegant spring-time find, this white Rioja is based on the white mutation of tempranillo and offers an explosion of flavour. Crunchy with authentic floral notes of elderflower, jasmine and chamomile while pear, peach and grapefruit offer a pleasantly juicy mouthfeel.
Michael Godel – Here is a correct, balanced and quality white Rioja with round edges, white flowers and an orange twinge to the fruit. Nothing shocking and everything pleasant make for a a good foil to every kind of tapas under the Spanish sun. Will work for all.

Lamoreaux Landing Dry Riesling 2016, Estate Bottled, Finger Lakes, New York, USA ($27.95)
Sara d’Amato – Lamoreaux has been growing sustainably for three generations. Located on the east side of Seneca Lake, the estate carefully maintains 20 vineyard blocks in strategic locations. Here is a gorgeous riesling you won’t want to stop sipping. Relatively light in style with crunchy acids and a salty finish. Lightly leesy with nervy acids and plenty of tension. Offering a surprising degree of concentration and excellent length.

Familia Zuccardi Santa Julia Organica Torrontés 2018   Wittmann 100 Hills Trocken Riesling 2017, Qualitätswein, Rheinhessen, Germany   PG Zaumau Tempranillo Blanco 2017, Doca Rioja, Spain   Lamoreaux Landing Dry Riesling 2016, Estate Bottled, Finger Lakes

Bordeaux Feature

Château Magondeau 2015, Fronsac, Bordeaux, France ($22.95)
Sara d’Amato – An undeniably enjoyable right bank Bordeaux that should have wide appeal. The oak is not hidden away but it matches the notably high-quality fruit. Presents a lovely dichotomy between old world and new with flavours of smoked black cherry, leather, fig, black grapes and tilled earth. The tannins are mellowing, and this is a fine drink now.

Clos Bel Air 2016, Montagne Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France ($22.95)
Sara d’Amato – Rich and spicy and with a dynamic range of flavours. Notes of pepper and musk are seductive in this merlot dominant blend. Tannins are still quite firm but the fruit is fleshy and abundant on the palate.
Michael Godel – If you’ve managed to miss the recent vintages of this estate you’ll not have discovered the charm and the understated elegance in their Right Bank wines. There is always an earthy, demurred and classic link to the past but also this confident ripeness and succulence by way of acidity. The vintage is a very good harbinger for what they do.

Château Larose Trintaudon 2009, Cru Bourgeois, AC Haut Médoc, Bordeaux, France ($29.95)
Michael Godel – We’ve seen 2009 from this estate here before and it continues to impress though it’s because of great acidity that it does just that. The fruit is waning and probably never came full and fleshy out of the gate but it hangs in a balanced place. Showing some leathery and raising secondary character but will drink well for two more years for sure.

Château Magondeau 2015, Ac Fronsac   Clos Bel Air 2016, Ac Montagne Saint Émilion 2016   Château Larose Trintaudon 2009, Cru Bourgeois, Ac Haut Médoc

Château Saint Hubert 2010, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France ($34.95)
Steve Thurlow – This is a fine mature Right Bank Bordeaux with a classic nose of red and black berry fruit with well integrated oak spice, dark chocolate and fine herbal tones. It is plush and round with fine mature tannins and delicate soft acidity. Very classy and nicely done with a lingering dry firm finish. Excellent length.

Château La Garde 2015, Bordeaux, France ($49.95)
Sara d’Amato – Richly textured, tannic, bold and big but still with the restraint of Graves grown fruit. Offering a great deal of substance a tightly wound palate and a firm but not underripe tannic profile. Fine oak integration with a lengthy finish featuring authentic blackberry fruit.
Steve Thurlow – This is a fine classic Graves red with some modern styling giving it some obvious appeal. Expect delicate aromas of black cherry and blackberry fruit with some singed wood notes and fine herbal complexity. It is midweight and graceful with a lovely creamy texture and long lingering dry firm finish. Excellent length. For fine dining with roast or grilled meats or rich cheeses.
Michael Godel – A wild ride of acidity and a proper smoulder of tobacco deliver fruit that needs time because of the great structure in this Left Bank wine. The classicism of Bordeaux comes clean and clear through dark fruit, long barrel sheathing and time that waits to unfold. This has both the elegance and the stuffing.

Badine De La Patache 2014, AC Pomerol, Bordeaux, France ($53.95)
Steve Thurlow – This is soft and quite correct Pomerol with a round fruity palate finely balanced by acidity and mild tannin. It is very approachable with delicate aromas of red cherry and plum fruit with some sweet herbal tones. The plush palate shows some fine tannin. Unfortunately it falls away on the finish quickly and loses focus. Good to very good length.
Michael Godel – Don’t pass up on 2014 Bordeaux, especially here from which Pomerol merlot educates and divides, separating itself from the astringent and the banal. Ripe and fleshy fruit comes with a note of beneficial verdancy in the ways of proper merlot and then comes the succulence. It’s the acidity and then the sweetness of fine tannin that bring it all together.

Château Saint Hubert 2010, Ac Saint Émilion Grand Cru Classé   Château La Garde 2015   Badine De La Patache 2014, Ac Pomerol

Other Reds

Ferngrove Cabernet/Merlot 2016, Frankland River, Western Australia ($16.95)
Sara d’Amato – A cool, western region just inland from Margaret River, the Frankland River region produces a revered riesling but is also planted to red varieties like pinot noir, cabernet and shiraz. This Bordelaise blend offers old world character on the nose but is notably new world on the palate. Lightly dusty with notes of eucalyptus, plum, black cherry and bay leaf. An absolute delight for the price.
Steve Thurlow – This juicy Bordeaux blend is midweight and well balanced with vibrant lemony acidity giving it some zip and mild tannin giving some grip to the finish. Expect pure aromas of cassis fruit with hints of oak spice plus some sweet herbal tones. The finely balanced palate leads to a lingering fruity dry finish. Very good length. Try with BBQ meats or creamy brie cheese.
Michael Godel – Ferngrove is a savoury and herbal Bordeaux blend with some blood orange on the nose and red currants on the palate. It’s a balanced wine of mid-weight and good length. Well-priced to be sure.

Prieto Pariente La Provincia 2015, Vino De La Tierra De Castilla Y Leon, Spain ($17.95)
Steve Thurlow – This is a classy 50/50 blend of tempranillo and garnacha with a complex nose of plum and red berry fruit with bark and mushroom tones plus some nicely integrated oak spice. It has old world charm with a juicy elegant palate that is finely balanced by soft acidity with a fruity firm finish, with just enough tannin to give some grip. For fine dining with roast meats and strongly flavoured cheese. Excellent length.

Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2014, Tuscany, Italy ($24.95)
Steve Thurlow – This is a classic Chianti Classico Riserva for a very affordable price. Expect delicate fine aromas of red and black berry fruit with hints of lemon and sweet herbal tones. The fruity palate is juicy and finely balanced by soft acidity and mild tannin with a lingering fruity finish. Good focus and excellent length. Try with grilled meats and creamy cheese.
Michael Godel – Riserva 2014 employs darker fruit without any compromise to freshness and this is the magic of this place. Estate director Iacopo Morganti says there is no magic. “I like to see the colour of the vintage.” As a Riserva it demonstrates guts and creates a shell of protection for itself, sufferable to whoever thinks it may fail to validate the idea of a classic vintage, which it most certainly will turn out to be.

M. Chapoutier Bila Haut Occultum Lapidem 2016, Ac Côtes Du Roussillon Villages Latour De France ($26.95)
Michael Godel – The latest Occultum B-H is a most fragrant, more open-knit (then 2015) and grippy one, bringing the best of all worlds to this consistently strong Roussillon red. There persists a charred and roasted temper to the fruitiness but that fruit holds firm within the context of what is always a sweet and viscous liqueur. Another Lapidem wow red though more accessible than the last.

Ferngrove Frankland River Cabernet/Merlot 2016, Frankland River, Western Australia   Prieto Pariente La Provincia 2015, Vino De La Tierra De Castilla Y León   Il Molino Di Grace Riserva Chianti Classico 2014, Docg   M. Chapoutier Bila Haut Occultum Lapidem 2016, Ac Côtes Du Roussillon Villages Latour De France

Thanks for reading up about the April 13th VINTAGES release. The WineAlign team will return next week with more post-release recommendations along with extensive coverage from our tastings at local events and around the world.

Good to go!


Use these quick links for access to all of our Top Picks in the New Release. Non-Premium members can select from all release dates 30 days prior.

Michael’s Mix
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Steve’s VINTAGES Picks

New Release and VINTAGES Preview