Wine Maven – March/April 2014

Medrano_malbec2007 Medrano Estate Malbec, Mendoza Argentina

Inexpensive Malbec from Argentina can suffer from heavy tasting, jammy fruit and a lack of freshness. How novel to taste one that is bright and fresh yet well priced. The Medrano has ripe fruit and warm spice in spades balanced by fresh acidity and ripe silky tannins, rounded off by a bit of French oak aging. More than drinkable with lamb skewers or beef tataki. $17ish.

amaretto-01Berta Amaretto

Who doesn’t have a half empty bottle of Amaretto in the cupboard from the time you thought you’d make blueberry teas after dinner? Welcome to Berta, an entirely different creature — not too hot or sweet with subtle, elegant and complex flavours of almond, maraschino cherry and citrus. $60ish.

Roberto Voerzio Dolcetto

Dolcetto, meaning little sweet one, could be described as the younger cousin to Nebbiolo — lighter, juicier, certainly not as serious or ageworthy, but delicious nonetheless. Those enamoured by the effortless charm of the grape will absolutely adore the Veorzio bottling. Enjoy with pasta at corso 32.

PergolasNavarro Lopez

makes delicious, affordable wines. One of the most popular Spanish wines in the market, Pergolas Old Vines Tempranillo Crianza (2010 do Valdepenas) has a new label. It’s popular for the right reason — a great taste/value ratio. We love its fresh red fruit with sweet cedary and leather notes, and the mellow, medium-bodied juiciness in the mouth. We especially like that the alcohol is under control at 13 per cent, meaning you can easily have another glass. $15ish.

Another example is the Rojo Tempranillo from the Tierra de Castillo region—good structure and acidity surrounding ripe red and black fruit with flavours of juicy plums, fresh herbs, and a bit of fresh tobacco leaf. Rojo Tempranillo 2011 $17ish.

Anna_13RoseAnna, the flagship wine of cava producer Codornui, has a new dress; an elegant wrap of white for the Brut, a 70/30 per cent Chardonnay/Parellada cuvee, and pale pink for the Rosé, a blend of 70 per cent Pinot Noir and 30 per cent Chardonnay. The Brut, fresh and delicate has a fine bubble, lovely flavours of tropical fruit and citrus and a whisper of sweetness. The Rosé has fresh strawberry and cream aromas and flavours, and, being dryer and more robust, suitable for dinner. Expect to see these best-dressed bottles at showers and weddings this season.

chartreuseGreenChartreuse celebrates its 250 year anniversary this year in a happy way — with a resurgence in popularity due to the burgeoning cocktail culture. How people drink Chartreuse may be new but the distillation is the same as in 1764; macerated and infused herbs, spices, flowers, honey and roots. The exact recipe is of course a secret — only two monks know, the Father Superior of the Carthusian order and the master distiller. Over 100 counties import Chartreuse, the original green being the most popular and 80 per cent of production. Green $30 ish, Yellow, $28ish.

“Mixoligists love working with Chartreuse because it’s not just for one specific cocktail— it’s so complex and nuanced in flavour they can use it in so many ways,” says export director Philippe Rochez. His favourite way to drink Chartreuse? ”I do like a Chartreuse Mohito but my favourite way to drink it remains on the rocks, it creates a nice moment at the end of the day.”

Who says points don’t matter?

Once Alvear’s 2011 Pedro Ximenez de Anada hit 100 points on the Wine Spectator’s Top 100, it started to disappear from shelves where it had once languished, being thought of as too sweet, or not trendy enough. Now that this PX has been eagerly snapped up by trophy hunters, let’s hope that wine lovers are more willing to pay attention to the category and the other fine wines Alvear’s makes in Montilla Morales from the Pedro Ximenez grape — tasting of bottled sunshine, figs, chocolate and treacle.