Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wines of the Week - May 3rd

I recently attended Wine Enthusiast's Toast of the Town tasting in New York. These were three of my favourites on the night, and you could happily construct a dinner party around them. Canapes, some simple seafood, and a lamb-rack...

Coincidentally, they are all 19th century, family-owned wineries.

Schramsberg Vineyards Brut Reserve 2004

Schramsberg may have started out in the 19th century, but the modern era started in 1965 when the estate was bought by Jack and Jamie Davies, parents of Hugh Davies who now runs Schramsberg. Phylloxera and Prohibition combined to shutter the business for around half a century, but the last near half century has seen the winery rise to be one of California's leading sparkling wine houses, while also branching into Cabernet through the J. Davies label. The 2004 reserve is a very classy sparkling wine, with a long future ahead of it. Primarily Pinot Noir, with 16% Chardonnay, from various Schramsberg vineyards, the red fruit shines through beautifully, but remains crisp and elegant.

Schramsberg wines at Toast of the Town

Pieropan Soave Calvarino 2009

Leonildo Pieropan's estate in Veneto has long been the standard setter for Soave in the region, and the 2009 Calvarino is yet another tre bicchiere winner - the sixth in a row for this single-vineyard Soave. Made from 90% Garganega with 10% Trebbiano di Soave, the grapes are grown in the Calvarino vineyard at the heart of the estate. Possessing lovely balance and purity of fruit, this is several steps the non-descript wines that make up too much of Soave production. The estate, now passing into the hands of the fourth generation is expanding into red wines under Andrea and Dario, Leonildo's sons.

Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz The Signature 2006

Australia might be the New World for wine, but some of the vines, and the companies, go back a long way. Yalumba proudly claims to be Australia's oldest family-owned winery, and even if there aren't enough old wineries still in family hands, there's no doubting the importance of this company established in 1849. A fifth generation descendant of founder Samuel Smith, Robert Hill Smith has overseen great changes in the company since taking over in 1985, but some things, like The Signature, don't change. Made since 1962, this is a consistently excellent Cabernet-Shiraz that has great aging ability, as this 2009 tasting showed. The 2006 is still very youthful, but already enjoyable, and showing the structure that suggests this will be still going strong after 20 years. Good complexity, with mocha and cedar characters starting to push through the ripe, plush berry fruit.

Previous week.

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