I love wine. I love its amazing array of flavors, aromas and weight. I love its affinity for food. And I especially love the fact that no matter how much I taste and learn there are always new discoveries.
This column is dedicated to some of my most recent wine finds.
First, the Greek island of Santorini. The average wine drinker may not realize it, but Greek wines are white hot, especially among the country’s top sommeliers.
Santorini has a long and proud history of wine production, something in the nature of 3,700 years! Its terroir, volcanic soils with little water available for the wines, a lack of clay, and a high concentration of minerals, leads to extremely low yields and wines with a distinct minerality. In other words, wines that are right up my alley.
For my last two wine discoveries, let’s hop over to Spain for some wines from Navarra. Dominated by the town of Pamplona and its famous “Running of the Bulls,” Navarra is also both a historic and significant wine producing region. All of the wines I tried were from family-owned wineries in Navarra and featured both indigenous and international grapes.
From Bodegas Ochoa, I especially enjoyed the Tempranillo Crianza, which to my palate had more character and depth than most Crianzas from Rioja. I’d match this beauty with some grilled pork chops.
Lastly from Bodega Inurrieta, there is the Inurrieta Laderas. At $40, this was by far the most expensive of the Navarra wines I sampled and also the most complex, layered and age-worthy.
The Bodegas’ website describes the Laderas as “restless and innovative,” and while I’m not sure what either of those descriptors relate to how the wine tastes and smells, this is clearly a well-made red wine with layers of flavors and aromas, a judicious amount of oak, and years of life ahead of it.
Wow, that’s a lot of new wine discoveries for me. I’m positive there will be more! Cheers!
This week’s report covers wines from all over the globe, including Chile, France, Israel, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
The new vintage of Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor (the 2015), is a real stunner, while the Chilean producer Odfjell offers less expensive but exciting wines.
I cover a few wines from the Abruzzo region of Italy, along with the perennially value-driven wines from M. Chapoutier’s Bila-Haut brand. Yarden offers up a delicious Champagne method bubbly from Israel, while the Spanish region of Navarra (keeping with tradition) comes through with some solid buys.
These wines were all received as samples and tasted sighted.
2016 Castillo de Monjardín Navarra La Cantera– Spain, Navarra SRP: $12
Deep ruby color. Smells of strawberry and black cherry jam, smoky tobacco, herbs, clove and vanilla. Fresh and bright on the palate with light tannins and juicy raspberries, strawberries and red plums. Flavors of tobacco, mint, cola and vanilla add some complexity. Fresh and fun, accessible but balanced, too. Nice for the price. 85% Garnacha and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Stainless steel-fermented, aged six months in old French oak. (87 points IJB)
2016 Bodegas Nekeas Garnacha El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa– Spain, Navarra SRP: $14
Light purple color. Smells of raspberries and jammy plums, saucy and smoky, with tobacco and anise notes. Light tannins, full-bodied, yet medium acidity helps it balance out. Black cherries, plums, this is a juicy, ripe and plush wine with a nice mix of violets, tobacco, espresso. Fun, crowd-pleasing, value-driven stuff. All Garnacha aged five months in French oak barrels. (87 points IJB)
2010 Bodegas Ochoa Navarra Reserva– Spain, Navarra SRP: $33
Light purple color. Nose boasts dark plums, currants, blackberries, mixed in with a hefty amount of charcoal, leather, coffee grounds and grilled herbs. Dusty tannins but nice grip, velvety feel but bright acidity, and the balance is nice. Tart black currants and tangy plums, I get a lot of deep earth, graphite, leather, violets and soy. Complexity is impressive, this is ready to drink now or hold for a few years. Tempranillo with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, aged 18 months in new American and French oak, aged 36 months in bottle before release. (89 points IJB)
This second edition of the 12 Rosés of Christmas features wines that will be as good this year as the one to come. Enjoy these for the New Year or with rare hamburgers, spicy pork dishes or Asian cuisine for a festive, and sparkling, evening in.
Many of the emerging wine regions of the world to keep an eye on are not the traditional ones in France and many are actually located in the New World. Other regions of France are making top-notch sparkling wines as are other countries in Europe, like Portugal.
The alluring Spanish countryside is as intoxicating as its complex, vibrant, and delicious wines. From fresh, pergola-grown Albarino in granite-filled Galician soils, to robust Tinta de Toro grown in the boulder-filled rocky soils of Toro, to fruit-forward, indigenous Garnacha Tinta of Navarra, and cherry, vanilla, and leather filled Tempranillo from Rioja and Ribera del Duero, Spanish wines have much to offer. Consider one of these with your evening meal. (Some selections were sent for editorial consideration.)
Delicate floral notes meld with crisp acidity, crushed stone minerality, and briny salinity in the Albarino wines of Galicia’s Rias Baixas. Like sunshine in the glass, the textured wines tell the story of the ocean-bordering villages the vineyards meander through, gathering character along the way.
Zesty, refreshing Fillaboa Albarino ($17) delivers crisp apple, white flower, and salty minerality. Terras Gauda “Abadia de San Campio” Albarino ($20) melds ripe peach, pineapple, lemon, and orange blossom.