Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Nose Knows Tuscany - Casamatta Sangiovese 2011

I have always been swayed as much by the aromas of a wine as I have been by the taste. In fact, if the aromas are stunted or even worse, unflattering, then it almost doesn't matter what the flavors are. The aromas convey most of the nuance of wine, the art of it if you will, while the taste and mouth feel frame the picture. There's a posting on Wikipedia that says it very well;

"It is through the aromas of wine that wine is tasted. The human tongue is limited to the primary tastes perceived by taste receptors on the tongue - acidity, bitterness, saltiness, sweetness and savoriness. The wide array of fruit, earthy, floral, herbal, mineral and woodsy flavor perceived in wine are derived from aroma notes interpreted by the olfactory bulb.

In the entry level wine category that I frequent, there are very few examples that really give you that "sense of place". A recent and welcome addition to the inventory of my local joint is a Sangiovese from a producer named Bibi Graetz with the "Toscana" designation - an IGT. IGT stands for Indicazione Geografica Tipica and this designation was created to give credence to "Super Tuscans" that were being made in ways that did not adhere to the lawful requirements of DOCs and DOCGs.
In truth, I never really paid that much attention to those categories, and if you put this lovely $9.99 Sangiovese in a blind tasting with a bunch of entry level Chianti Classicos, it might show better than more than a few. A trained artist, the colorful labels of Mr. Graetz's wines are reproductions of his art.

Now back to the aroma thing. I could sit and sniff this wine all day. This incredible bargain gives much more complexity than is usual at this price point with classic Sangiovese aromas of red cherry, raspberry, licorice, cinnamon and that wonderful earthy element the Italians call "sottobosco", which means underbrush. It's got almost perfect balance and a soft medium bodied mouth feel with wonderful berry fruit flavors and currant notes. It finishes a bit short but soft and elegant. Imported by Martin Scott and fermented entirely in stainless, this wine sees no wood whatsoever. Cheers.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

More Spain, More Great Value - Honoro Vera Monastrell 2010

It's been awhile since I last checked in. Work, the flu - it can all get in the way of what I really like to do, and that's drink and talk about the world's greatest beverage of course. Yes beer is up there also and some will put that quaff number 1. But for me, the beer just warms up my palate for the wine.

Anyway, while perusing my local joint I came upon another fine Spanish bargain from the Bodegas Juan Gil. This producer seems to make everything well, but when you can put out juice like this for a mere $7.99 then the consumer is the real winner. Honoro Vera is a 100% Monastrell Cuvee from the very warm Jumilla region of Southern Spain. Monastrell, which is called Mourvedre in southern France, has been found in both regions since the 1500s. It's a late ripening grape with thick skins that needs plenty of warmth and hang time to ripen fully. There is an organic version of this bottling as well, though I did not get to try it. The vines for this wine are situated at approximately 2000 ft. in altitude. This brings wide temperature swings from day to night, thus slowing the ripening process and allowing the juice and the skins to ripen in harmony.

This great little weeknight wine presents bold dark berry and plummy aromas with coffee and spice notes that gained in intensity as it aired. In the mouth it's not as concentrated as I thought it might be, but still brings a very nice medium-bodied texture to the glass. The blackberry and blueberry flavors are soft and round but not flabby, with no astringent tannins. It finishes smooth as well with the spice notes and a touch of smoke on the finish. Imported by Opici Imports. Cheers!