Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Peaches & Cream

 You talk about a misleading title!  This one takes the cake!  Peaches & cream cake, of course!  

What we're really talking about here is the 2017 Beronia Rueda (roo-ay-da) 100% Verdejo (vurr-day-ho) Spanish varietal white wine.  Characterizing this beauty, of course, is where the "peaches and cream" business comes in.  Make no mistake, this wine is dry, like most European whites are dry, so don't think the "peaches and cream" refers to dessert.  The more accurate term for this one would be "stone fruit" and "malolactic" (fermentation) so lets dissect these terms.

In wine lingo, stone fruit really applies to peaches and apricots, two fruits with pits.  For wine geeks the pits flavor the wine also.  Viognier is quintessential stone fruit wine.  From the first sip of our Rueda, the wine explodes with stone fruit except it's more apricotty than peachy.  Apricots and cream just doesn't have the same mouthwatering appeal as peaches and cream.

Malolactic fermentation is that winemaking process that converts the grapes' malic acid into the lactic acid that dairy products exhibit, hence the creaminess referred to in the post title.  While I get that creaminess in this wine it's just negligible compared to other examples of malolactic.  The creaminess that I get may be intrinsic to this grape type.  In any event the creaminess enriches the body of the wine.

This wine also has a distinct herbaceousness that adds yet another dimension to its flavor profile.

Here's some actual information about Rueda, just so you don't feel you've wasted your time here.

Rueda is a DO (denominacion de origen protegida), a legally defined and protected wine appellation.  It encompasses 13,005 hectares (32,000 acres) in the provinces of Valladolid, Segovia and Avila in north central Sspain.  The entire appellation is a plateau at 6-700 meters above sea level.  In the center of the appellation lies the town of Rueda.  

The Rueda appellation has a continental climate of hot summers and cold winters with maritime affected rainfalls in the spring and fall.  The soils are alluvial with an iron content in either a sandy or clayey consistency.  The soil drainage is good here which belies the fact that the soils are poor, which means the grapevines have to struggle for nourishment leading to deeper taproots and ultimately, more flavorful wines.

Verdejo is the indigenous grape of the region and eighty percent of Rueda is planted in that one type.  Some of those vines are a hundred years old.  90+% of the wine produced in Rueda is white wine.  If it is labelled "Rueda" it must be at least 50% Verdejo.  If it is labelled "Verdejo" it must be at least 85% Verdejo. 

Interestingly enough the Rueda appellation is flanked by two great red wine appellations, Toro to the west and Ribero del Duero to the east.  All three lie on the same latitude with their respective wine regions inhabiting the same Duero River basin.  To the west of them all lies Portugal's finest wine region of the same name.

Just in case you can't tell, we like this wine.  So stop in and give it a try.  

Did we mention it's modestly priced?


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Scarlet Vine


 "Scarlet Vine was born in a lush, century-old mountain vineyard, where vines dance in the wind and produce perfect fruit - so intensely flavored and rich in color that they appear as a sea of scarlet red.  Anyone who tastes wine crafted from this fruit is destined to fall under her spell.  Do you dare?" 


I hate winery websites.  

The above quote is taken from scarletvine.com.  It is actually the first thing you see when you go there.  It's a real crock of s__t.

If gag reflexes are your thing, you should check out the back label of the Scarlet Vine bottle.  There you will find some more fine literary grease for your gullet. 

Alternatively, what I would really love to learn from a winery website is technical data - grape types, viticulture and viniculture, terroir.  In short, what I want to know is how the grapes grown in the vineyard become the wine in the bottle.  Am I asking too much?

Scarlet Vine Cabernet Sauvignon is new on the market and my supplier has successfully placed it on several restaurant wine lists.  She did this by tasting it out to us in the trade.  Obviously the wine is quite good.

By the way, the Scarlet Vine label art is frankly beautiful.  It depicts a svelte feminine figure growing from a grapevine.  Doing it justice in words is not possible.  It really is well done.  So well done you don't notice the lack of any information about the wine...and therein lies the rub.

Scarlet Vine is marketed by one of the largest wine companies in the world.  They deserve their success.  They do a good job.  But as a California mass marketer the aim is never to enlighten but rather to turn cases by aiming for where most of us Americans live.  And as we have said, they do a fine job at that.

So in summary - we have a fine moderately priced Cabernet Sauvignon in a bottle that features beautiful label art.  If you look hard enough at the small print on the back label you will find relevant information about the wine but obviously someone doesn't care if you see that so they bloviate about an anthropomorphic grapevine goddess.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Barbaresco

It seems like forever since we've had a Barbaresco in the store and we wouldn't have the Franco Serra model if we hadn't poked and prodded our distributor for "other types."  The Barbaresco, it turns out, is a new addition to the local portfolio.

Barbaresco is one of the truly great Italian reds...period.  It gets short shrift because, according to wine industry royalty, it doesn't compare to Barolo.  I get it.  Barolo is massive.  Barbaresco is lighter.  That's actually the selling point for some of us.

That's not to say Barbaresco is light red wine.  We have the Barbera and Dolcetto from Franco Serra in the store and they are most definitely light.  Body-wise, Barbaresco may be more like a hefty Sangiovese.  The Dolcetto, by the way, has become quite popular here so, by all means, give it a try.

So here's what we learned about Barbaresco from the Hugh Johnson/Jancis Robinson The Concise World Atlas of Wine:

Barbaresco is a single varietal Piemontese wine made from the same Nebbiolo grape as Barolo, the greatest red wine of Italy.  Prior to the 1850's it's style was light and sweet.  Then French-style winemaking overcorrected that effort and turned it very dry and heavily oaked.  Around 1970 modern winemaking began its intervention in this history resulting in the following changes:

    1. Grape picking was greatly improved by measuring phenolic ripeness.

    2. Stainless steel fermentation in temperature controlled tanks brought out the inherent fruit in wine grapes.

    3. Shorter oak aging in smaller barrels became a normative qualifier for estate wines.

    4. Grape maceration was accomplished in days and weeks rather then over months, again, to make a lighter, fresher tasting wine.

The result?

Barbaresco became more complex with layers of leafy lighter red berry flavors over smokey jammy concentrated leather and spice.  The tannins in the wine no longer overwhelm it but rather frame and refresh the wine's inherent complexity. 

Want to taste it?  Stop in this Saturday afternoon.  No promises, but...we just may have it open!