Liberty School wines, always well done, are ready for Easter

March 29, 2013

College wrestling has come to an exciting end for another year. I'm happy to report that Jarrod Garnett, former Caravel High student and graduating senior at Virginia Tech, made All-American sixth place. My other hopeful, Bobby Telford, St. Marks and Iowa, trashed his knee after a first-round win and had to medical forfeit from the tournament.

Son Daniel's birthday was Saturday, and I opened a very nice Prosecco to serve with crab cakes, homemade french fries and an avocado/red leaf salad. Le Vigne di Alice Prosecco Superiore di Conegliano Valdobbiadene, DOCG, extra dry 2009 was on hand, but I picked up a bottle of 2011 as well. Prosecco is a varietal name. However, in 2009, the EU renamed the grape Glera ( an old-time slang reference) in order to differentiate the grape from the geographic regional name. The 2011 is findable under $20. A pale-yellow wine with an extravagant bead, the nose is clean, with a bouquet of green apple, lemon and floral accent. Usually, extra dry designated sparklers indicate a sweet wine. This is not the case with Alice. Crisp acidity with mineral notes buoys green apple and lemon flavors. Alice provides a lovely, clean, long finish perfect for cleaning up the slight oiliness of the fries, avocado and the butter used to keep the crab cakes from sticking. Rated 88 points plus 1 if bought under $19. This is an excellent food wine for those who fry or use butter in their preparations. Great for Good Friday fish fry. It does show a trace of residual sugar that I found added to its congruity with the meal.

Please keep your eyes open for 2009 Cru Beaujolais. Most are at the end of their drinking window. Stores are trying to move the inventory. As regulars know, I'm not much on Beau Julius, but the Cru 2009 were an exceptional vintage. The best, IMO, such as Morgon, Brouilly, Fleurie, Moulin a Vent and Regnie, will cellar another few years but don't extend the window. I'm touting these because, in many cases, the wines are at a 30-plus percent discount, while in their perfect window. Avoid the Chenas. As an aside, the 2009 was atypical for Beaujolais in terms of its flavor profile, body and its longevity.

Previously written up here at 91 points, Deep Sea Chardonnay 2009 can be found by careful shoppers around $16, down from $22-24. This is a terrific buy for you Chard lovers. It won gold at a 2012 critics' challenge in competition with Cakebread, Jordan and Frank Family, selections usually found over $30. Goes well with rabbit!

As promised last week, here are some selections for Easter. Many enjoy ham or lamb over this holiday.

Those who are luckiest can OD on chocolate. Following are a few selections to accompany your lamb and chocolate. Big buyers can't go wrong with BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cab 2008. It was rated 93 points by RP, WS and IWC. It was reviewed here on release and is ready to start drinking now. I've seen it offered for $70, $20 below initial price in 2010.

Another lamb and ham and a perpetual well done Cab is Liberty School, formerly the second label of Charlie Wagner's Caymus. He sold the label in 1996 to the folks he was buying the grapes from, Hope Family. Austin Hope and Hope Family made a name with Rhone styles and have continued the excellence of Liberty School in their own right. You can buy the 2009 under $10, 87 points.

For those who enjoy one of those spiral honey baked hams invented by Harry Hoenselaar in 1957, there are many suggested wines: a Cali Rosé such as Frog's Leap La Grenouille Rougante 2009, a Josmayer Pinot Gris 2006 or my favorite, BV Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir 2010, 92 points if you can buy a bottle for $30.  

Russian River pinots are normally loaded with sweet cherry fruit and enough acid and complexity to cut the ham fat while underlining the savory qualities of the glaze. The 2010s are well made with a peppery finish. A problem with BV Carneros Pinot is they are vintage specific. Avoid 2005 and 2006; there is a reason they are still on the shelf.

Happy Easter and peaceful Passover!

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