In The Washington Post this week, Dave McIntyre sings the praises of Muscadet, with its flavors of “melons and tree fruit,” its minerality and its low acid. He suggests that there are bargain wines to be had from this Loire appellation, as a result of it being less celebrated than its compatriots. McIntyre’s favorite producer is Guy Bossard, of Domaine de l’Ecu, but he also recommends the 2009 Domaine des Herbauges Clos de la Fine, which, he writes, “smells like a melon patch by the sea.”
Meanwhile, Susy Atkins of The Telegraph is keen to move beyond Muscadet and its traditional pairing with oysters. She offers some “more unusual marriages” between shellfish and white wine. Match 2010 Sharpham Estate Selection with crab, 2010 Felsner Moosburgerin Grüner Veltliner with scallops, and 2011 Paul Mas Chardonnay with lobster.
Good and bad whites:
Vines Magazine regularly recommends the best expressions of riesling, which, the contributors claim, may return balance to your life. Kabinett Moselland Bernkasteler Kurfurstlay Riesling is the latest must-have, for its “aromas of peach, apricot and apple.”
Eric Asimov of The New York Times writes much less kindly about Chenin Blanc, which he says is not being taken seriously in South Africa. In a recent tasting of 20 different bottles, Asimov and his colleagues were “hard pressed to find many that we liked at all, and somewhat mystified as to why this might be so.” A fan of the grape variety’s “signature floral, minerals and citrus aromas and flavors,” he found that many of the wines lacked these identifying characteristics and were “flabby or dispiriting.” Asimov does, however, gallantly compile a list of ten favorites. At the top were the full-bodied 2010 Badenhorst Family Secateurs with its “herbal, floral and citrus flavors,” the well-balanced 2010 Mullineux Straw Wine for its “aromas of honeysuckle, citrus, oak and minerals,” and the “clean and succinct” 2010 Fairview La Capra.
Easy on the wallet:
Jancis Robinson is on the value trail this week, looking for “great wines in the £10–£30 [$16-47] price category.” She’s super keen on 2009 red Bordeaux and 2010 northern Rhône but also recommends lesser-known treats, including a “glamorous, and very well judged” Mendoza red – the 2010 Mendel Lunta Malbec.
The 2010 Cuvee Balthazar Syrah from the Languedoc region is compared to “Syrah on steroids” for all the right reasons, while on the whiter side of life, the Eden Valley’s 2010 Pewsey Vale Riesling gets the nod for its “delicate, lifted, sophisticated palate.”
Rioja is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. Is it going to be a traditionally styled blend that has been aged in American oak over the long term, or will it be a fruit-forward Tempranillo that doesn’t have much in common with the Rioja of old? This week, Fiona Beckett of The Guardian ponders the issue.
“The best clue is how the bottle looks and feels. A heavy bottle with a contemporary label and recent vintage generally indicates a modern style. A more old-fashioned script and gold wire mesh cover? That’s probably more traditional.” So, you can read a bottle by its cover.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, admits Beckett, like the fruit-forward 2008 Bodegas Palacio Glorioso Crianza that could sit in either camp. For those who like the supple characters of mature Rioja, 2005 Beronia Gran Reserva is her value-for-money find.
To the crystal ball:
It’s around this time each year that Jon Bonné of the San Francisco Chronicle turns seer and publishes his five things to watch for in the Californian industry. Local wines are top of his list. New York has caught on to the "local" trend, with bottles from Long Island and the Finger Lakes peppering Manhattan wine lists. “California has no excuse,” says Bonné. As a success story, he cites the grenache and carignan blend of San Diego wine producer Los Pilares.
Among other trends, Bonné mentions the rise of screw caps and zinfandel – a grape that has largely been viewed with disdain by connoisseurs while selling its socks off. But Bonné believes that more-restrained examples, including Dashe Cellars L’Enfant Terrible, Broc Cellars’ Vine Starr and a “serious rose” made from zinfandel by Turley Wine Cellars, might be just the push this grape needs to gain cred.