I’ve been drinking a fair amount of wine outside of the confines of the Languedoc-Roussillon spotlight lately, and surprisingly quite a few New World wines. I thought it was worth highlighting a few of these wines briefly.
With all the hype surrounding Bordeaux, it’s a shame that so many neglect the white wines. I always pick up a few at the annual BCLDB Bordeaux release. This is one of those spoils. Very funky and grapefruity, this wine (2007 Chateau Charbonnieux) also had superb acidity and balance – consistent with the buzz that 2007 whites vastly outperform the reds.
Lafon is really hard to find in Vancouver, and this single vineyard Macon is an amazing example of what he can do as a wine maker. It makes the mouth water in anticipation of the Cote D’or whites. This is probably the most balanced, complete and varietally perfect Macon Chardonnay I’ve yet had, and hands down the best chard I’ve had for $50. I picked up several bottles after tasting this one (Comte Lafon 2007 Clos de la Crochette Macon-Chardonnay).
Switching gears, I dipped into some of my collection of Washington wines. The Leonetti 2005 Cab was quite outstanding and well balanced, though very rich. Still, it is the acidity that makes this more drinkable and food friendly compared to most Napa cabs. It went very well with marinated Flank Steak roulettes.
The legendary Pax wines finally went on sale in Vancouver and so I picked up this wine (at $50 off), which is made from grapes grown in the highly respected Griffon’s Lair vineyard. This is textbook cool climate Sonoma Coast Syrah (i.e. from a vineyard actually close to the coast). Brine, olives, cherry, smoke. Pretty amazing stuff, though still too pricey at $90 a bottle.
A goody I brought back from my time in California. This is made by the famed Stolpman Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Qupe and many others make well regarded syrah from this vineyard. Stolpman’s offering takes the fruit to maximal ripeness, almost on the verge of over-extraction, but not quite. Still, this is huge syrah and not for those looking for finesse. I enjoyed it for what it was.
I had this Rioja the day before the Lopez de Heredia tasting, which was a perfect comparison. This is fully modern and very fruit forward – the opposite style from LdH. However, I thought it was impeccably made with tons of forward cherry fruit and great secondary herbal flavours. In fact, it is one of the best Riojas I’ve had lately and it shows how the region can succeed with both ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ wines.
Most of us wine geeks have pretty much forgotten about Australia, which is a shame. There are many great wines being made there that are nothing like the big jammy shiraz’s we’ve come to disdain. This wine is a fascinating approach to cab-shiraz. There is gameyness from the syrah, but huge structure and plummy dark fruit from the cabernet. I think the oak still needs a few years to fully integrate here, but it shows a lot of promise and a massive amount of complexity – cherry, plum skins, blackberry, roasted coffee beans, smoke, and a bit of cigar. A wine that is extremely long in the mouth, and very very elegant despite its great power. It is likely still too big for some, but I thought it was quite well made.
Alejandro Fernandez always seems to fly under the radar somehow despite how delicious these wines are. I can’t think of many other $35 dark and brooding reds I’d rather drink on a cold winter’s night. This wine is one of the few left in Ribera del Duero that truly combines modern cleanliness and fruit with traditional earth, herbs and soft texture. With the right amount of bottle age, this rounds out perfectly.