Not every wine you taste will be a great depiction of the varietal or the region it is from. Many of us who have spent some time tasting a variety of different wines can certainly attest to this. Then there are times you try a wine and know it is a fantastic expression of the grape and terroir. Sure, not everyone likes all the grapes, all the regions, and all the winemakers equally but when you buy wine for your restaurant or retail shop you can’t just pick all your favorite wines. Instead you pick what you believe will sell well and what you think is a great example. That is what I have found in our June Featured Wines: fantastic wines that do justice to their varietal and the place they come from.
The 2012 Vermentino “Aragosta” from Cantina Santa Maria La Palma is one of the most fantastic seafood pairing wines I’ve ever had. This isn’t all that surprising since it comes from the island of Sardinia and is named for the aragosta, a shellfish native to the area. It’s lively but not overpowering citrus flavors harmonize on your palate with a beautiful minerality that takes your mind away to a coastal setting. Sometimes you taste a wine and you can just picture where it came from. This is one of those wines, perfectly exemplifying the terroir, the grape, and it’s culture.
The Veneto is home to one of Italy’s most famous and most exported wines, Soave. As with most things that have certain popularity more people try to get a piece of the pie, or in this case the wine. There are great producers of Soave and there are many more average producers. Fattori Vineyards is one of the great ones, their 2012 Soave “Gregoris” is what you want to find. It has a seductive subtlety about it, that makes you long for another glass. This Soave is an excellent example of what it should be, blending together perfectly floral characters with delightfully crisp fruits, alongside undertones of minerality that can only be obtained from the glacial deposits left centuries ago.
There is a lot of weird, funky, hastily made Pinotage in the market today. When you find one that was well cared for with the grape and vineyard solely in mind and not just money it becomes a real eye opener to all that Pinotage can be. One of those wines is The Grinder 2012 Pinotage. This wine is made from grapes that are allowed to grow in a more natural way where they sort of curl close to the ground, this helps with moisture and shade. A decent amount of shade is quite important for Pinotage, for when it is trellised the skins can often burn in the sunlight leading to that odd burnt rubber taste you see in the eventual wine. Great care is taken for the grapes that will become The Grinder wine and is evidenced by its rich coffee, chocolaty goodness. Once you try it you’ll realize how great Pinotage can be and also probably wish it was acceptable to have this in your cup in the morning instead of coffee.
I recently had the pleasure of working with Matias Fraga, who works with Ernesto Catena Vineyards. He was a fascinating and knowledgeable man who really seemed to love his job. It is no wonder he does; not only does he really enjoy the wine but also working with Ernesto. Ernesto’s wines are interesting and provocative especially the 2012 Siesta Pinot Noir. This wine is richer and fuller than your average Pinot Noir from other places. Notes of anise, hazelnut, mocha, and red fruits dance through your mouth and take their final bow with a slightly tannic finish. It is a beautiful representation of Pinot Noir in Argentina and an even better example of the winemaker’s style. The finesse and care that Ernesto Catena puts into his wines is shown in every mouthwatering sip.
We are all looking for the wine that fits the bill, the wine that makes you go “Ohh, that is it! That is the perfect example. I need that!” These four wines are amazing examples of their location, their varietal, and most importantly what expert winemaking can taste like.
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