Friday, August 15, 2014

Issue IX: Marqués de Cáceres Crianza Rioja [Blend] Edition

Marqués de Cáceres Crianza Rioja [Blend]

If you’ve spent any time following wines at all, you quickly realize it is a very trendy world, where rumor can quickly grab hold in people’s minds (the French make the best and/or only drinkable wine in the world) and where something as relatively trite as a Hollywood movie can sell cases upon a cases of a particular varietal, as the movie “Sideways” did for the formerly much less publicized and formerly considerably less popular Pinot Noir.

Several countries have taken their turn as “the next big thing” and Spain had their moment in the sun before rising prices drove the seekers of bargains and hidden gems elsewhere (I believe the current locations for TNBT are somewhere in South America, either Chile or Argentina). While Spain was hot, it introduced the world to some of the wonderfully luscious and sweet offerings of that locale that was perhaps best known for a crazy practice of letting enraged male bovines run rampant through the streets, footloose, fancy free and horns wild.

One of those was the grape behind this wine, the lively Tempranillo, which yields a very fruity taste, highly reminiscent of berries, both blue and black. Rioja refers to the area from which this comes, probably the most famous wine region of that country, up in the northern part. This particular wine, which is a blend, but clearly utilizing Tempranillo as a backbone, is one that feels light in the mouth and tastes fruity out of the gate. The closer you drink it from opening the bottle, the greater the backbite, though it loses the majority of whatever minor harshness is there starting about 15 minutes after airing. The longer it airs, the greater complexity and fullness emerges, with the full effect coming right around the 60 minute mark. It’s a very adaptable and enjoyable wine and is a fantastic representative of both the wines from that country, as well as that particular grape and region.

For $13 or less a bottle, however, this is another that is mostly SPA Only as my tastes tend towards some of the others that come in on SPA that can be had for less.  Still, if you’re interested in taking a wine tour of the world via package stores, as I did when compiling the list initially, this is a good starting point for Spain.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Issue VIII: Terredora DiPaolo Aglianico Edition

Terredora DiPaolo Aglianico

In the last Edition (#7), when I waxed on about the wonders of the Colosi Sicilia, I mentioned a time when I would only drink French wine, which was mostly where I was at when I met my wife.  When I first started branching out, I started, hesitantly, into Argentinean wines, such the wonderful Navarro Correas and into the Chilean wines, which are mostly a miss with me, but the only Italian wine I really was familiar with was the Ecco Domani line, mostly because I could pronounce the Latin name of the wine (Ecco Domani makes a solid, if unspectacular wine, for the most part).

When I first came across this one, though and tasted that first glass, it was an experience right next door to mind-blowing. This had a stunning taste and the right balance of sweet, just a tinge of bite and an overall smoothness that I’d been wanting in a wine. It was also, for a while, a bottle unto itself, as it was very difficult for me to find this in stock anywhere, yet when people asked me for recommendations and I tried to give them this one, no one had ever heard it and fewer still could pronounce it. Even still, this grape lags behind the Nero d’Avola, the Moscato Bianco and the Barbera in terms of name recognition, which is a shame.

This is one that benefits greatly from either an aerator with a screen or decanter, both because it can be very astringent at first (what they call “grippy”) and because this one trends towards being fairly sediment heavy at the end. If not using one of those two things, you’re probably looking at a minimum of 30 air time with the sweet spot more between 45 and 60. Even though this sounds like a lot of wait time, compared to some of the other wines on this list, it’s well worth it.

Despite this wine being the one that really started off the wine list proper, at $14 regularly, this is more of a SPA-Only wine, given that there are so many others at a lower price range. This also is a good example of really assessing personal value to wines, as I liked this one considerably more when it was closer to $11/bottle.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Issue VII: Colosi Sicilia Rosso [Nero d'Avola] Edition

Colosi Sicilia Rosso

I mentioned in the Navarro Correas Issue (#2) that I wasn’t sure if it was the most frequently purchased, but was right near the top. That would also apply to this one and they’re probably pretty close to neck and neck. I have definitely bought this wine off-SPA more than any other entry in the list, though, that much is certain.

For a long time, I wasn’t much of a wine fan and would drink only French wine. When I started off, it was hard liquor; mostly Seagram’s VO, only for a long time, then eventually beer and then reluctantly wine. I tried a couple times to get going on the wine, but those were hard drinkin’ days and myself and a friend managed to really do a number on ourselves one night. We both got tremendously sick and I gave all my bottles away and foreswore the wine for several years. Fast forward to meeting my wife, who wasn’t much a fan of anything BUT red wine and it came back to the process of building the wine list I’d always wanted to do, since restricting to one country, regardless of the country, is mostly folly.

I say mostly, because if that country is Italy, you’re probably not going to go too far wrong. By having such a narrow view of the delectable liquid, I deprived myself of many years when I could have been enjoying bottles from what is now my overall favorite wine region; the southern part of Italy. This particular one hails from the island of Sicily.

If I had to choose only one wine to drink for the rest of my life, I would be hard-pressed to do better than this. It is always consistent, incredibly delicious and smooth, yet has a dry aspect to it that never gets into astringency. This was a marvel when I found it; full, rich, vibrant, very fruit forward and almost entirely absent of bite, just nearly pure silkiness. This, in fact, is nearly exactly what I was looking for as the ultimate for the under $20 aspect and considering that this, at normal price, is slightly over half of that price, it really makes it near-incomparable. It is also very well-stocked and is sort of the standard bearer for the Standard rating.