My inner Bing Crosby really isn't working well today...
CHI125, $14.99 2009 Vina Sutil Colchagua Estate, Colchagua Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Chile:
Sauvignon Blanc may have emerged as Chile's signature white, as the Chileans continue to figure out what works best there. At the very least it's a sensible alternative to the other Southern Hemisphere Sauvignons, particularly because the Chileans are less likely to fall in love with their own press. In this 09 Vina Sutil, Loire Valley tradition, 100% varietal, no oak, meets New World terroir in "Chile's Napa Valley". Fresh, vibrant gooseberry, herbs, grapefruit and pineapple aromas and flavors mark this as the perfect into-the-warm-weather-affordable-white. And keeping the recent Chilean earthquakes in mind, supply is not what it should be, so you're advised to take advantage while we've still got the wine in stock. Chile no longer means cheap, it now means exemplary price/value ratio, as represented by this 2010 World Wine Championships silver medal winner, highly recommended, best buy. For a true "a-ha moment" pair the 2009 Sutil Sauvignon with goat cheese.
ITA683, $14.99 2008 Feudo Marino, Nero d'Avola, Sicilia IGT, Italy:
Nero d'Avola may be the best known grape of Sicily, aka Italian Value Central. This 08 bottling from legendary Northeast vintner Gian Andrea Tinazzi, who has expanded his empire to the south & Islands, is perfect for barbeque. I teach Nero d'Avola to beginners as the love-child of two previous American vins du jour - Syrah and Pinot Noir. Deceivingly dark like Syrah, it is also sleek and supple in the mouth, with that same chameleon quality Syrah has that works well with a wide variety of foods. And it exhibits the same heft, feel and quite fruit driven, less tannic quality as Pinot Noir - beginner friendly while serious simultaneously. Slightly rustic cherry & rhubarb aromas and flavors beg for Mediterranean cuisine.
ITA670, $19.99 2007 Salvano, Barbera d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy:
The locals that produce Barolo and Barbaresco drink Barbera at home - they sell them big Nebbiolos at export for top Euro. The 07 Salvano price/value factor is exceptionally strong here, as Barbera is somewhat out of favor in the New World. This "wily" grape is a vintner's favorite, unfurling vibrant, exhuberant herbaceous raspberry aromas and flavors that display the local terroir - it's fruit driven with immense character. The Salvanos don't overdo the oak, which allows the raspberry and powdery, rustic dark chocolate dust components to sing. Time for smoked turkey on the grill.
From November 2, 2010 blog:
CAL893, $19.99 2005 San Valencia Winery, Reserve Malbec, Mendocino County, California:
San Valencia Winery is our almost-too-good-to-be-true-deal California label Shahin Shahabi, Dennis Patton, Jon Alexander-Hills.
Is Argentine Malbec still the current vin du jour, or is it Malbec, the wine grape? Argentina clearly benefits from varietal labeling – there was no Malbec madness in the US due to it being a part of the traditional Bordeaux blend. Even less Americans know the “black wine of Cahors”, in spite of the region’s recent educational blitzes. When compared with Argentina, a stronger US dollar makes most Argentine Malbec sold here at least as much about price as it is about quality. But at the $15 and up price points, it becomes far more about value - does the wine deliver - and just like the Merlot boom of 15-20 years ago, Argentine Malbec at the most affordable price ranges has slipped. Supply and demand, Argentina’s fiscal strength and the world financial crisis have all eroded price/value ratios. Most of all I miss the display of affordable complexity – inky purple fruit juxtaposed against a delicate violets nose, followed by juicy, yet still rustic fruit – too many wines are now “homogenized”, lacking any sort of personality or dimension. What I am find more and more is that non-Argentine Malbecs often now clearly out-deliver the world market leader when at the same price. Time to abandon the soapbox…the cost-effective Mendocino County fruit for this gem hails from one of the best vineyard sites in Sanel Valley, Southern Mendocino County. Here, the “reserve” on the label is not just a legal marketing term, as was we culled this lot out of a somewhat larger production that retails for approaching $30 per bottle - our San Valencia label, remember – feeling it has about a 10 year bottle age potential. Small tank fermentation was the key, allowing the dense, inky purple-black color to emerge. An almost dainty floral nose leads into a hefty, slightly rustic (plenty of pepper) juicy, soft, silky mouthfeel bursting with black cherries, blackberries, anise, hazelnut and white chocolate. This Malbec will be magnificent - give the Argentines credit where credit is due – they know their beef - with a grilled steak, chimichurri sauce and fries.
Don't just take my word for it - I'm the guy that puts these features in the bottle! I'd rather you believe the 2010 World Wine Championships panel of judges, who awarded this 2005 San Valencia Winery Malbec a silver medal, highly recommended...