Saturday, March 25, 2017

Vina Perez Cruz

Have you ever tasted a wine that was so good you couldn't shake it from your memory?  I know some of you have because you bring in your often old and tattered notes from some bygone time and place where the stuff was so great you simply must have it again.  This is where some sober figure is supposed to step in and remind you that that was then and this is just grow up!

Well, I'm with you on this one because when I tasted the 2012 Vina Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva from Chile I didn't just write it down, I kept the bottle behind the counter here to make sure I eventually got the wine.  That was over a year ago when the vendor convinced me that, as good as it was, Perez Cruz wouldn't sell and I'd be better off with the well known brand.  And I let him!

Now a year and a half later I'm in the Perez Cruz business, albeit with the current 2013 vintage.  So because this is an unknown brand with an exceedingly plain white label, I did some much needed homework and here are the selling points:

     1.  Perez Cruz is a Paul Hobbs import which means a lot to many of us.
     2.  It is a family-owned, single vineyard, estate bottled effort, which means quality control.
     3.  The grapes are hand harvested from low yielding vines, again, quality control.
     4.  The property exhibits the diurnal effect of contrasting temperatures (Mediterranean Climate) meaning ripe fruit.
     5.  The vineyards are sustainably farmed in stony soils poor in nutrients, just what you want.
     6.  The vineyards are situated in the Andean foothills of Maipo Alta at 1,400-1,700 feet altitude.
     7.  The estate's thoroughly modern, gravity-fed winery is an architectural masterpiece which may not have a bearing on the wine quality but impressive none the less!
     8.  German Lyon is the French winemaker who probably knows what he's doing.

Now here are the adjectives culled from several reviews: fresh, soft (tannins), well-balanced, bright acidity, smoky oak, red fruits, black cherry, cassis, herbs, and mint.

Instead of doing the same with food affinities, let's just say burgers and any other red meat off the grill.

Now, buy it here for under twenty dollars!    

Monday, March 20, 2017

Franciscan Vineyards Magnificat

This coming Thursday, the 23rd of March, we will be tasting the 2012 vintage of Magnificat, one of the original Meritage wines from the creation of that category in 1985.  This vintage is 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, and 3% Malbec.  The grapes are sourced from Franciscan's best Napa Valley vineyards and aged for twenty months in 70% new oak barrels.  This vintage received 91 points from the Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Magnificat is named after the Bach masterpiece so you would expect complexity and more.  If the reviews on the internet are to mean anything then they reflect that complexity to a fault; that is, every review sites different flavors and aromas, which, to put a good slant on it, means the wine oozes complexity and defies easy description.  I guess maybe it could have been reviewed at different times too to account for the divergent observations.  The great New York retailer Sherry-Lehman may have stated it best with "multi-layered, remarkably complex, impressive array of aromas and flavors." The most common color description noted is "garnet".

In 1985 the great twentieth century wine giant, Agustin Huneeus (blogposts 1/31/13, 4/7/15), bought a floundering and thoroughly mediocre Franciscan Vineyards and instantly turned around their fortunes.  In the 1985 inaugural year for Meritage wines Magnificat was one of two dozen offered in the category.  A Meritage red by definition is the best wine a California estate can make using all or any of the Bordeaux blending grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petite Verdot.

In 1999 Huneeus sold Franciscan Vineyards to Constellation Brands, the second largest wine company in the world (after Gallo).  It is now operated as part of a separate division of the company dedicated to prestigious northern California Estates and has been re-christened Franciscan Estates.