La Rioja Tempranillo the top Spanish Reserve

May 14, 2012

This week brings more summer treats. First, however, I wish to alert all to a Reserva Especial 2001 named La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza. This beautiful Tempranillo was properly aged by the producer before release. It came to my attention when Eric Asimov wrote about it. The wine was chosen as the top Spanish Reserve Temp of 20 tasted by a New York Times tasting panel. While I generally don’t trust most of the opinions in that paper, its wine, book, theater and music articles are generally on the money. This 94-point wine will fly from the shelves, so order it soon.

Best of all, Ardanza is available in halves. As you are aware, halves mature more quickly. You will find them priced well under $20 and a case of fulls under $25. Don’t forget, folks, these are sale prices and do not include sales tax or shipping.

Your local wine store pal has to eat too. The wine is dark cherry with a slight orange cast, and the 2001 nose is a powerful bouquet of lavender, incense, balsamic, tobacco, pie spice and cherry.

Full-bodied, already complex, it shows good structure, and the tannins are beginning to incorporate. The finish is over a minute and the nose runs through it. While it is approachable, it should improve over the next five years and drink well for at least 25.

Recently Chilean SBs are being pushed hard by the wine trade. Sorry to say, although it is painting with a very broad brush, the values are not there.

Right now Cali, France, Portugal and Spain are the places to look for summer sippers. Recently, I read an ad for a six-pack of two each of Lail Blueprint 2010 and Champy Rully 2008, both of which were touted here a few scant weeks ago, and a very lovely Chateau Villa Bel Air Graves Blanc 2010. Bel Air is a Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion blend; it opens to a wet straw nose that dispels on swirling, allowing grapefruit, white peach, quinine and straw with a touch of toast from the oak to come through on the palate. Well balanced with a slight acid verve, perfect for a summer evening. The package was offered at $99 delivered. Don’t know how your local source competes, but give him/her a chance.

Another steal is Maison Champy St. Romain White Burgundy 2009. I found some priced under $18. It is delicious and drinking well now. Pale golden fruit with a bit of oak nose; on the palate, white peach, lemon-lime and green apple with a hint of almonds.  Pleasing, long, mineral finish with a creamy feel. Champy is one of those regions the critics love to hate. Due to its elevation, the wine is not consistent, vt to vt, so they have to work a bit. At less than $18 this is an 89-90-point wine; two price points. It does show its oak, and another couple of years will provide great improvement.

A little off topic, but worth a look is Jos. Drouhin Cotes Du Beaune Village Red Burgundy 2009. Drouhin is a fine shipper and a good place to look most of the time. This 91-pointer is on the market under $250/case. Fruit nose opens with strawberry jam and red plum flavors. Fruit flavors ride a fresh acid and dry tannic frame. Finishes with clean fruit aftertaste. Nice table wine for the pasta and beef crowd. Big buck buyers check out the 2009s from Pascal Marchand. The Latricieres Chambertin 2009 is terrific. Decent value at $135. McD 94 points.

Finally, the deal of the day. As you know, I read David Schildknecht regularly. Not only do I credit his taste, but also I love his prose. On his recommendation I bought a few bottles of Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Cotes de Roussillon Village 2010 (92 points/$160/case).

The wine is produced by Michel Chapoutier out of rocks, schist and clay. Michel is a genius wine guy. A dark garnet-colored Syrah with a pronounced cherry nose, some plum and raspberry.

Nice structure with dark chocolate and a hint of smoke; drink now. Short window - about two to three years. Folks, you can't buy much 92-point wine at this price. I did not even access any price points

Happy Mother’s Day! My mom died in 1996. I still miss her! Love the one ya got!

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