Around the World of Wine
Kick off the summer right with some bubbly.
Bubbly is all about good acidity, making the mouth water and readying the palate for the next delivery. Not all bubbles are created equal. The good news is you can find Champagne-quality bubbles all over the world without having to mortgage your house to get a bottle. You can pick up a bottle of Miguel Torres 2011 Santa Digna Esteldo Sparkling Brut Rosé ($19.95 - #317669) from Chili. This wine is made from the Pais grape which was brought to Chile by Spanish Conquistadors. It was once the most plentiful grape in Chilean vineyards until it was overtaken by Cabernet Sauvignon. Miguel Torres makes a beauty of a rosé with it. Pretty colour with big acidity along with hints of raspberry and blood orange (****). Heading into the Loire Valley in France where Domaine D’Orfeuilles Brut Vouvray ($18.95 - #319954) is made. The Chenin Blanc grape rules the roost here and makes one heck of a well-balanced tasty bubbly for much less than you’d expect. This one is sweet yet zippy with nice acidity, especially on the finish, where you’ll find the wine quite dry even though it starts off with such fruit-driven sweetness (*** ½+).
Now let’s look at some whites. Frei Brothers 2010 Reserve Chardonnay ($23.95 - #317891) is a Cali-Chard which isn’t the usual beat-you-over the-head with oak and butter. It’s much more subtle and balanced with nice acidity, good fruit along with lemon pith and rind, some peach skin and delicious apple. There’s also a real pleasant spicy finish (****+). Head to the Alsatian section and look for Domaine Saint-Remy 2011 Reserve Gewurztraminer ($18.95 - #61150).The Alsatians do the Gew right and it really doesn’t get much better than this one. Honey, peachy, lychee and tasty with hints of spice on the finish. It doesn’t come off too sweet, perfect for spicy-food-night at home. (****+).
Speaking of great taste, Henry Bourgeois 2010 La Chapelle des Augustins Sancere ($29.95 - #322628) fills the bill nicely, if a little pricey. It has great aromatics which lead to a tropical and citrus-blended palate (****+).
That does it for white, now all you cellar junkies get your highlighters ready cause we’re digging deep into the reds. Here are a few good value wines from many good producers and countries.
California has two good Pinot Noirs around the same price point in two very different styles. The Hartley-Ostini 2009 Hitching Post Hometown Pinot Noir ($26.95 - #256644) has a nice balance between fruit and pepper along with hints of black cherry and vanilla. This label was made famous by the movie Sideways. It has some really nice finesse in the glass (****+). While the Talbott 2010 Kali-Hart Pinot Noir ($25.95 - #317693) was a way more juicy affair of primarily black cherry, hints of spiced plum and a gentle spiciness all its own – very pretty aromas and on the palate as well (****).
For those looking to dip just below $20, check out offerings from both Argentina and Chile. Susana Balbo 2011 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95 - #260919) is finally a Balbo I can get behind, with luscious dark fruit, chocolate and dark raspberry. It is juicy throughout (****). Over the Andes the Maycas de Limari 2009 Reserva Especial Syrah ($19.95 - #269423) is killer value in cool-climate Chilean Syrah. It is nuanced wood and spice, mocha, smoky and black fruited. There’s even some violets and sweet bacon jam before it finishes with a hit of chocolate (**** ½).
France and Italy offers up two wines at the $17 mark, made especially for bargain hunters: Chateau Haut-Plaisance 2010 ($17 - #326587) is a very approachable Bordeaux with fruit, smoke, coffee and tannins. Dark plum and leather also make an appearance for the betterment of the wine (****). Casa Vinironia 2011 Appasionato Edizione Oro ($16.95 - #320713) is a great introduction to the appassimento style of winemaking. This one starts off with too much coffee but gradually opens up and turns juicy with sweet cherry and plum notes; it’s really smooth and silky on the palate (****).
That’s it for this round, don’t forget to check out my weekly selections on the Thirst Impressions blog at www.ottawalife.com
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