2011 Mud House, Sauvignon Blanc — We chose this wine to pour at our recent wine glass class because it is a great example of a crisp white wine with good acidity. But when we saw how much the class loved it—even those who said they normally don’t drink Sauv Blanc—we knew it was a club contender. This one is from New Zealand, known for its often very grassy, tropical Sauvignon Blancs. Sourcing from several different sites in Marlborough, including Mud Houses’s highly coveted Woolshed Vineyard, and combining fruit from different terroirs allows winemaker Nadine Worley to blend for utmost complexity and character. The result is a particularly stylish Sauv Blanc, definitely New Zealand at heart but with surprising finesse and elegance. At $17, it is perfect now, with crab cakes or pan-fried scallops.
2011 A.A. Badenhorst Family Wines, Secateurs, Chenin Blanc — This wine comes from the up-and-coming Swartland region of South Africa. It is made by two cousins who bought an old, neglected farm blessed with some relatively old vineyards. Fruit for this Chenin Blanc comes from bush-vines averaging about 40 years in age, which the two farm as naturally as possible and without irrigation. Sourced from fruit grown on several distinct types of granite soil, and with different exposures, the wine shows wonderful complexity. Extended lees aging in concrete tanks adds depth, texture, and aromatics. It is named for the shears (secateurs) which are used to prune the vines in winter and pick the grapes in summer. It is $14 and, while delicious now, it will continue to develop in complexity over the next year or two.
2011 Lacroix-Vanel, Fine Amor — This wine was a big hit at our Languedoc-Roussillon wine class in April. It is made by winemaker Jean-Pierre Vanel who has ten hectares of vineyards in Caux, a lovely village near Pézenas in the heart of the Languedoc region. His vines are planted on the well-draining old basalt and gravel soils typical of the area, and he farms organically, with minimal intervention. His Fine Amor is always Grenache-based and for this vintage he has added Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and old-vine Carignan to the mix. Jean-Pierre strives to make wines that are expressive and rich in aromas and it is quite evident in this blend. This unoaked wine is deep and complex, with notes of red fruits and licorice—qualities that really shine as the wine opens up, so give it plenty of time to breathe. It is $19.75 and ready to enjoy anytime.
2008 Frontaura, Dominio de Valdelacasa — The very amply-named Bodega del Palacio de los Frontaura y Victoria is located in the western Spanish province of Zamora, but they produce wines in several regions. We’ve featured their wines at several tastings, and two years ago we put their Ribera del Duero Tempranillo in the club. This month, we present a wine from their home region of Toro, which was a big hit when we poured it at a recent Spanish tasting. It is 100% Tempranillo, known locally as Tinta de Toro, and is $19.75. It is expressive and intense, with powerful, yet elegant dark fruit flavors. Like the Fine Amor above, this one really shines with a bit of decanting or air. Perfect for robust dishes, such as steak, pork, or grilled veggies.
2011 Matteo Correggia, Anthos — Piedmont’s Roero region is distinctly different in soil and microclimate from some of the better-known regions nearby. It is only recently gaining recognition in its own right, thanks to winemakers like Matteo Correggia who set out to produce wines of utmost quality from the local grape varieties. Sadly, after completing his new winery and gaining international attention, he died in 2001. But his wife, with the help of Giorgio Rivetti of La Spinetta fame, took over the estate with the same dedication and passion as her husband, and the wines continue to garner much acclaim. This wine is 100% Brachetto, a grape more often associated with the sweet, slightly effervescent, Brachetto d’Aqui. Dry Brachettos are rather rare but, as we discovered when we tried this one, delightfully light-bodied, aromatic, and inviting. This one is $17 and ready to drink now, with lamb with Moroccan spices, rich fish dishes, or calamari.
2010 TintoNegro, Co-ferment Malbec — TintoNegro is a collaboration of two longtime friends who worked together for nearly 15 years at Argentina’s renowned Catena Zapata. Over the years they gained intimate knowledge of, and access to, some of the best vineyard sites in the region. This wine is sourced from high-altitude vineyards in the southern Uco Valley, where the relatively cool days and cold nights help retain the bright acidity and dark fruit flavors of the fruit. Unlike most wines which are blended after fermentation, this Malbec is co-fermented in the same tank with 7% Cab Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Co-fermentation tends to add aromatics and texture to wines, and the partners at TintoNegro find that Malbec is particularly well-suited to the process, gaining complexity from the Cab Franc and fine tannins from the Petit Verdot. At $15, this wine is big and rich, with notes of licorice and chocolate. Great with pork dishes or barbeques.