Wine Varietal discoveries of 2011
2011 was a very good year for discoveries, considering mostly all but the very well-known varietals were new to this wine novice. As I review my wine diary of 2011 including 130+ wines, a handful of “discoveries” come to mind. A handful that we found ourselves going back to again and again [okay and again], confirming we really did like them the first time around and checking their consistency.
Luckily the world was our oyster as we discovered wines from Oregon [Pinot Noir/ Pinot Gris], Chile [Carmenere], Uruguay [Tanat], Argentina [Bonarda], France [White Bordeaux], Spain [Garnacha] and even Italy [Primitivo].
BONARDA- Argentina; peppery, earthy aroma. Great out of the bottle but we always decant. Rich dark fruit taste; plum, raisins, casis. Suggestion; Maipe Reserve approx. $12-15.00. They also have a non Reserve, I say splurge the $2-3.00 it is well worth it. Also; Durrigutti 2008 Bonarda at $13.00 is worthy. Mr. Durrigutti has the midas touch these days in Argentina. Co-owner of Lamadrid winery a personal favorite of our household.
CARMENERE- Chile; earthy, leather aroma. Sweet dark fruit taste with plum, blackberry, and cherry. Mellows after 20 minutes of decanting. Suggestion; Porta Reserva 2009 approx. $12.00. Also Santa Rita Reserve Santa Rita Reserva 2008 approx. $8-14.00 [usually good sales out there].
TANAT- Uruguay; fruity, smokey and buttery on the nose. A rustic and robust deep garnet colored wine that must be decanted, heavy tannins. Dry yet sweet finish. Suggestion; Pisano Cisplatino 2009 blend approx. $9.99!
White BORDEAUX- France; White? Really? I am maybe the only one in the world who thought all Bordeaux was red. Go figure. This is now considered a staple at our house. Suggestion; Chateau Montet 2009, 2010 approx. $8-9.00. BTW stay away from their red!
GARNACHA- Spain; purple almost black in color. Peppery on the nose, jammy taste with plum, ripe raisin in there too. The tannins seem to grow at the finish for a nice finale. This is the first time I have ever been able to detect strawberry[!] while tasting a wine. It just jumped out at me. Although this varietal is blended in many if not most Rhone wines it is quite distinctive on its own too. Suggestion; Evodia Altovinum Old Vine Garnacha 2009 approx. $12.00.
PRIMITIVO- Italy; related to America’s Zinfandel. Dark, rich and peppery tasting, fruit forward and woody. We also detected a clove taste. It is smooth on the tongue. Suggestion; Il Primitivo Puglia 2009 approx. $12-15.00. Pillastro Primitivo Negro Amaro Selezione de Oro approx. $20.00.
PINOT GRIS/NOIR- Oregon; nose and flavors of apple, pear, honey, grapefruit, pineapple. Very crisp. Suggestion; Kudos Pinot Gris 2009 approx. $8-10.00. NOIR is where I have discovered price does make a difference. The lower end variety have a light viscosity as most Pinot Noir’s do but the higher end ones in the $40.00 range coming from Oregon’s small production vineyards are actually rich and Port like. Making me want to drink the entire bottle. Purple/ruby in color, smooth flavorful lingering dark fruit throughout and finish. Suggestions; Lachini 2007 from Chehalem Mountains and Coehlio 2006 from Willamette Valley. Both in the $35-45.00 range.