Drink Up: Odds and Ends From the Last 6 Months

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A strange aspect of blogging is that it can start to permeate your non-analytical enjoyment of wine. To combat this, sometimes I drink great wine and purposefully don’t write about it. Sometimes you just need to enjoy and not analyze. Going back through my old wine photos from the last 6 months, however, has revealed that a number of these bottles are stunning examples worthy of retrospective comments. All tastings notes are from memory and driven more by what I noticed without being overly analytical. All of these wines were consumed with food and company.

Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva “Rancia” 1988: Felsina is one of the few Chianti producers who has been making consistently great wine for decades. This 1988 is back from an era before supertuscans and modern wine making took over the region. Back then, very few wines of this calibre were made, and it’s stunning to see how beautiful this turned out.

Marion Calto 2006: Some of Marion’s wines can feel overtly modern. But Marion is also a producer that promotes indigenous varieties, making one of the few varietal Teroldego’s in Italy. This Calto is a blend of Tereldago, Corvina and a few other classic grapes from Valpolicella. It’s an elegant wine and fundamentally delicious. It’s also my favourite wine from the Marion line up.

Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling 2006: Australian Riesling can be stunning – and this “museum reseve” release from Eden Valley’s Pewsey Vale combines stunning aromatics with the openings of beautiful secondary development that provides the potent, waxy counterpoint to the naturally high acidity. Really beautiful stuff.

Foradori Fontanasanta Manzoni Bianco 2010: Foradori are one of my favourite northern Italian producers. Famous for their Toreldego bottlings (including single vineyards), their whites are no slouch. Made with the indigenous variety Incrocio Manzoni, this wine is all about texture – soft, silky and slightly waxy, with orchard fruit notes and subtle aromatics. It’s a versatile texture rather than aromatics driven food wine and totally delicious.

Domaine Gauby Muntada 2004: One of the Languedoc-Roussillon’s top producers, Domaine Gauby has unfortunately disappeared from the B.C. market after its importer went under. This wine, priced to match the reputation, is, however, an utterly stunning example of the viticultural possibilities in difficult, hot regions. This is under 14% ABV and all about elegance rather than power. It’s in a perfect place.

Shafer Relentless 2005: I’ve been drinking through my remaining wines I brought back with me from California when I lived there. So many have proved to be disappointing and unbalanced. Surprisingly, this Shafer blend of Syrah and Petite Syrah from Napa Valley proved to be one of the standouts – a massive fruit driven wine that is yet balanced and not over-extracted. It was wonderful with burgers.

Beaucastel Chateaneuf du Pape Blanc 2011: Purchased at the Vancouver Wine Festival, this is one of my favourite white wines from France. A blend of old vine Roussane, Grenache Blanc and a few others, this is sexy, luscious white wine with hefty aromatics, power and yet finesse and minerality. I’ve heard there were issues with TCA taint in the 90’s, but this was whistle clean. Drink with seafood.

Borgogno Barolo Riserva 1998: One of the best Barolo’s I’ve had this year, from the iconic old-school producer Borgogno. Somewhat like Lopez de Heredia, Borgogno has massive reserves of old wine that it releases at various intervals. This means that you can get a great Barolo with serious age on it for extremely reasonable prices from this house. I picked this up in Portland a couple years ago for about $70.

Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Bianco Reserva 1996: As mentioned, Lopez holds back old bottles for release at very reasonable prices. This white is stunning. The initial massive VA nose integrates with air and becomes Premier Cru Burgundy in complexity, though not in style. Honey, lanolin, and that slight sherried oxidativeness proves a versatile combination with food.

Jermann Ribolla Gialla: Jermann is one of the top producers in Friuli, and this dense, powerful white, consumed at a very nice lunch with a friend, was also a perfect accompaniment for Italian seafood dishes. This was the first wine from this producer I’ve had, and I will be seeking out more.

Asamai-Junmai Sake Amanoto: I’ve always greatly appreciated Sake, but known very little about it. With an upcomming trip planned for Japan, it’s time to start learning more. At 55-60% rice refinement, this is qualitatively superior to many basic Junmai sakes. This Sake was very dry and subtley fruity with a subtle earthy element. It’s interesting to me that Sake’s distinctions, especially amongst the finest Ginjo and Dai-Ginjo sakes, is all about subtlety. You need context and careful appreciation to note regional and stylistic differences.

Posted in: Features, Tastings

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