January Wines of the Month
It’s January and it’s a New Year! Happy 2011!
So many of the best value wines are coming from South America, so I thought we’d go to Argentina and look at 2 grapes that most of us don’t widely associate with Argentina, Pinot Gris and Bonarda.
Bodegas Francois Lurton Pinot Gris 2010 (Argentina) $11.99 – This is the 1st winery to plant Pinot Gris in Argentina…..and, they planted it because of an accident in France. They’d ordered Chardonnay vines from the nursery, but were sent Pinot Gris (Clones 52 and 53 from Alsace). Rather than forego the planting season in 2002, they planted the Pinot Gris to see what would happen. It turns out that the site is well-suited to Pinot Gris. Today, it is the winery’s best-selling wine! This has aromas of peaches, melons, lemons, smoke, spices and flowers. It’s zippy and zesty in the mouth. Lots of minerals in the wine. Dry flavors of lemons, orange peel and stone fruits. Food pairing – salads, lighter appetizers, shellfish, light, creamy cheeses.
Colonia Las Liebras Bonarda 2009 (Argentina) $11.99 – Bonarda is an Italian grape from Piedmont. Until recently, Bonarda was the most widely planted grape in Argentina. Originally, it was brought to Argentina by Piedmontese immigrants. They also brought Barbera with them and over the decades the winemakers have learned that East Mendoza is ideal for Bonarda and not-so ideal for Barbera, so they been replacing Barbera vines with Bonarda. Bonarda needs a LONG growing-season and East Mendoza provides one for the grapes. This is a delicious red……it sees no oak aging in order to preserve and heighten the raspberry and strawberry flavors. The tannins are silky smooth. This is a wine that packs a wallop in terms of price/value! Food pairing – grilled steak, grilled pork chops or pork tenderloin, baby back ribs. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 89 points
For Tier 2, we are off to Piedmont in Italy for a classic white wine, Gavi, made from the Cortese grape and a beautiful red made from Nebbiolo (the Barolo grape).
Broglia Gavi di Gavi “La Meirana” D.O.C.G. 2009 (Piedmont, Italy) $23.99 – Too often, many Gavis are plain, uninspired wines. That’s not the case with this one. Broglia is one of the finest Gavi producers. Medium-bodied. Aromas and flavors of anise, flowers, tropical fruit, peaches, apricots and spices. Dry wine with a crisp finish.
The name of this farm, “La Meirana,” first appears in a document from 971 A.D. This document is kept in the state archives in Genova. This document states that the vineyards and chestnut trees at this spot is called Meirana. This dates winemaking to this farm to the founding of the town of Gavi. The Broglia farm was founded in 1972 by Bruno Broglia. They first produced wine in 1974. Gavi is made from the Cortese grape.
Food pairing – grilled fish, fish soup, shellfish, lobster.
Damilano Nebbiolo D’Alba D.O.C. 2008 (Italy) $18.99 – Nebbiolo is the great used to make Barolo and Barbaresco.
This has great aromas and flavors of red berries, black cherries, earth, minerals and violets. Medium-bodied. This is dry and has a nice spiciness to it. Firm tannins. Aged in oak barriques for 16 months. The Nebbiolo grapes come from Diano d’Alba and Montforte d’Alba. This winery dates to the end of the 1800’s, when the great-grandfather, Giuseppe Borgogno, planted vines and began making wines in the Langhe part of Piedmont. Food pairing – hearty stews, red meat dishes, mushroom dishes.
Bodegas Catena Zapata was founded in 1902 by Italian immigrant, Nicola Catena. It is still owned by the Catena family. Today, Nicola’s grandson, Nicolas, and great-granddaughter, Laura, run the winery. Decanter Magazine named Nicolás Catena its “Man of the Year” for 2009.
Nicolas Catena is one of the landmark, pioneering people in Argentina’s wine business. In the 1980’s, he sold off the family’s bulk wine business that made cheap wine…..his peers called him “completamente loco” (completely crazy). He had a vision and that was to produce great wine. He even developed Argentine Malbec clones to improve the wines.
Catena Chardonnay 2009 (Argentina) $26.99 - This is a rich, smooth and soft Chardonnay! Aromas of tropical fruit, citrus, honey, flowers and steely minerals. Flavors of pears, figs, minerals, citrus and baking spices. This is a really full white wine! At the same time, the crisp acidity makes for a really clean finish. Dijon clones 76 & 95. Whole cluster pressed and 100% barrel fermented in French oak and aged for 9 months (30% new) with aggressive batonage (stirring of the wine in the barrels – this adds a lot of softness and lush texture to the wine). Food pairing – poultry, salmon, tuna. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points
Catena Malbec 2007 (Argentina) $29.99 – This is a rich, lush, elegant and powerful Malbec. Aromas of baking spices, licorice, cherries, dark plums and dried herbs! Flavors of black raspberries, dark cherries, minerals, vanilla and toasts. Soft, dusty tannins. Long finish. Aged 12 months in 35% new French and American oak barrels (barriques – smaller barrels). 100% Malbec from 4 vineyards. Each vineyard is fermented separately and then blended after barrel aging. Food pairing - steak, beef, lamb, pasta dishes, lasagna, etc. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, 90 points; Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 points, Wine Spectator, 91 points, #69, Top 100 Wines 2009