Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wines of the Week - May 3rd

I recently attended Wine Enthusiast's Toast of the Town tasting in New York. These were three of my favourites on the night, and you could happily construct a dinner party around them. Canapes, some simple seafood, and a lamb-rack...

Coincidentally, they are all 19th century, family-owned wineries.

Schramsberg Vineyards Brut Reserve 2004

Schramsberg may have started out in the 19th century, but the modern era started in 1965 when the estate was bought by Jack and Jamie Davies, parents of Hugh Davies who now runs Schramsberg. Phylloxera and Prohibition combined to shutter the business for around half a century, but the last near half century has seen the winery rise to be one of California's leading sparkling wine houses, while also branching into Cabernet through the J. Davies label. The 2004 reserve is a very classy sparkling wine, with a long future ahead of it. Primarily Pinot Noir, with 16% Chardonnay, from various Schramsberg vineyards, the red fruit shines through beautifully, but remains crisp and elegant.

Schramsberg wines at Toast of the Town

Pieropan Soave Calvarino 2009

Leonildo Pieropan's estate in Veneto has long been the standard setter for Soave in the region, and the 2009 Calvarino is yet another tre bicchiere winner - the sixth in a row for this single-vineyard Soave. Made from 90% Garganega with 10% Trebbiano di Soave, the grapes are grown in the Calvarino vineyard at the heart of the estate. Possessing lovely balance and purity of fruit, this is several steps the non-descript wines that make up too much of Soave production. The estate, now passing into the hands of the fourth generation is expanding into red wines under Andrea and Dario, Leonildo's sons.

Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz The Signature 2006

Australia might be the New World for wine, but some of the vines, and the companies, go back a long way. Yalumba proudly claims to be Australia's oldest family-owned winery, and even if there aren't enough old wineries still in family hands, there's no doubting the importance of this company established in 1849. A fifth generation descendant of founder Samuel Smith, Robert Hill Smith has overseen great changes in the company since taking over in 1985, but some things, like The Signature, don't change. Made since 1962, this is a consistently excellent Cabernet-Shiraz that has great aging ability, as this 2009 tasting showed. The 2006 is still very youthful, but already enjoyable, and showing the structure that suggests this will be still going strong after 20 years. Good complexity, with mocha and cedar characters starting to push through the ripe, plush berry fruit.

Previous week.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wines of the Week - April 26th

Terredora di Paolo Greco di Tufo Loggia della Serra 2010

This is a worthy follow up to the excellent 2009 vintage of this wine which featured in the Wines of the Week back in September, and ended up in Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2011. Some tropical characters give richness at first, balancing the lovely minerality evident, before crisp citrus and apple characters keep it fresh and zingy on the dry finish. As the name suggests, the wines come from the beautiful estate-owned Loggia Della Serra vineyard. Terredora has owned all their grape production since 1994.

Photo from the Terredora website.

Ca' Donini Pinot Grigio Venezie 2010

There's plenty to like about this wine, starting with the price. While a quick internet search reveals there seems to be plenty of price variance, it is widely available sub-$10. Nicely made, and very clean and fresh, this wine combines lively acidity and citrus and apple flavours, perfect for warm days so keep a couple handy in the fridge. Not one for evening contemplation, you won't regret opening one of these when an unexpected guest turns up looking thirsty. 

Paul Jaboulet Aîné Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Cèdres 2007

Jaboulet's red Chateauneuf du Pape in their Les vins des Vignerons range is made from vines around 45 years of age, and is 70% Grenache, with Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvedre making up the rest of this Southern Rhone blend. Although not likely to be confused for a New World wine, it is quite fruit forward with aromas of strawberry, plum and hints of lilac, while the palate is starting to develop nicely with some herb and black tea nuances pushing through plenty of red and black fruit. One to enjoy over the next five years or so.

Previous week.