Category Archives: Other Wines from Around the World
Leviathan Wines 2012 Red (about $48) – This four-varietal blend from Napa Valley may cause you to contemplate the wine inside the bottle – with its complexity, power and taste – as well as the bottle itself.
Fragrant plum aromas lead off, with dark fruits of cassis and blueberry on the palate, sturdy tannins, and a finish of toasted hazelnut.
Nearly half of the wine is comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, and this varietal clearly takes center stage with it’s big, heady characteristics that require a bit of aeration time in order for the wine to “settle down” and evolve into something worth waiting for.
An added bonus: The beautiful and thought-provoking label, which might serve as a Rorschach test for wine drinkers as they savor their first taste.
From Spain’s Jumilla region, this stunning red wine should be on your must-try list of reasonably priced European wines.
Made from 100-percent Monastrell (the Spanish equivalent of France’s Mourvedre grape), this particular vintage from the Barinas winery is filled with beautiful blackberry and violet aromatics, plenty of jammy berry fruits on the palate and hints of spice on the finish.
Overall, there’s an almost rich quality to this wine, while the proper balance of acidity and gentle tannins keep it from being overbearing and make it an absolute pleasure to taste.
At about $16 a bottle, this is one Spanish red that you can easily stock up on for current and future enjoyment.
(Note – The pictured bottle is similar in design to the actual label. Also note that the winery produces a Barinas “Robles” option that is priced at about $12 a bottle.)
This week, I’ll venture outside of the Pacific Northwest to feature a number of wines from South Africa.
This part of the world of wine has really come into its own during the past decade or two, but its winemaking roots trace back to the 17th century.
European settlers, particularly the Dutch and French, brought the initial vines to this area and began making wines with the first recorded South African vintage in 1659.
Today you’ll find varietals such as riesling, chardonnay, chenin blanc sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, grenache, malbec, and merlot – to name a few – commonplace among South Africa vineyards. Also notable is pinotage, a pinot noir-esque grape that is the only grape variety authentic to the country.
The combination of winemaking history and diverse wine grapes has made South Africa a formidable player in the world market.
Here are some current releases I think you’ll enjoy:
MAN Family Wines 2014 Chenin Blanc (about $11) – Sourced from South Africa’s Paarl District, the vineyards for this wine are planted at higher altitudes in mostly shale soils. Gentle tropical fruit aromas lead to a zingy streak of ruby red grapefruit on the palate. There’s also plenty of steely minerality on a linen-crisp finish that allows it to pair with oysters, creamy pasta salad and roast poultry. Outstanding!
Seven Sisters Non-Vintage Odelia Sweet White Wine (about $12) – If you have an aversion to sweeter wines, don’t let the label deter you from giving this a try. A nice splash of acidity balances out the wine’s sweetness, making it instantly enjoyable when served well-chilled. Made from the bukettraube (pronounced bu-ke-traw-bah) grape, it’s packed with golden delicious apple flavors and a touch of tangerine on the extreme finish.
Indaba Wines 2014 Mosaic (about $12) – This cabernet sauvignon-based Bordeaux blend of five red varietals is released early in a Beaujolais style and might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Still, it’s an interesting and rather unique wine with big blackberry fruit, clove and spice undertones, and somewhat bright and tangy finishing notes.
De Wetshof Estate Limestone Hill 2014 Chardonnay (about $20) – This chardonnay is grown in the higher elevations of South Africa’s Robertson District; an area that is known for its lime-rich soils. Baked apple flavors are rounded with a nice touch of toasted almond and then capped with lemon-citrus accents on a slightly earthy finish.
Reyneke Wines 2012 Capstone (about $25) – This superb blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc is made from biodynamically-farmed grapes without the use of yeasts, enzymes or added acidity. Gorgeous aromas of spiced berries fill the glass, with juicy black currant and berry flavors, hints of white pepper, and a dense, meaty/gamey texture that demands a pairing with anything beef.
Have you ever had a great experience somewhere, only to return years later and find that things just weren’t the same?
I remember having an excellent visit at Chaberton Estate Winery three years ago, and not wanting to get my hopes up too much, set the bar a bit lower for my return earlier this month. After all, it couldn’t get much better than that first experience, could it?
Oh yes it could. In fact, it was exceptional.
General Manager Brian Ensor took me through a tour and tasting at the winery’s Langley, British Columbia facility that concluded with a first-class dinner and very reasonably priced wines that should have Whatcom County residents lining up for reservations.
But before I get too far, let’s start with the grapes.
Chaberton Estate is home to about 50 acres of estate grown grapes in its cooler climate, Fraser Valley location. The bacchus grape is responsible for about one-third of the total plantings and Ensor feels that the wines it yields are among Chaberton’s best.
The winery also produces wines from a number of warm-weather varietals, such as Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are sourced from the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys in Eastern British Columbia.
Together, they contribute to a sizable production totaling about 48,000 cases annually, making it the fourth largest winery in the province.
After spending time in the tasting room and retail store, visitors can have lunch or dinner at the adjacent Bacchus Bistro, where Executive Chef Ashley Chisham provides a small but sumptuous menu designed to complement a wine list that consists almost exclusively of Chaberton wines.
Here’s a small sample of some of the wines I tasted during my most recent visit. Note that all prices are in Canadian dollars at the tasting room, excluding taxes:
2013 Reserve Bacchus ($15) – This lovely white wine displays stone fruit and white flower aromatics, generous flavors of peach, tangerine and citrus, and a spicy/semi-sweet finish. The 2013 Reserve Dry Bacchus ($15) replaces the sweetness with refreshing, laser-sharp acidity that is absolutely astounding.
2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($21) – Dark berry and plum flavors predominate, with touches of toasted oak and cocoa powder on the slightly textured finish. Try it with the restaurant’s signature dish, beef bourguignon.
2012 Reserve Meritage ($24) – This blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc is big on black cherry and currant aromas and flavors that extend into a surprisingly soft finish.
Chaberton Estate Winery and Bacchus Bistro are easily accessible via either the Blaine/SR-543 or Lynden/Aldergrove crossings and only about an hour’s drive, plus border wait times, from Bellingham.
For a complete list of the winery’s current releases, along with hours, directions, and restaurant information, go to chabertonwinery.com.
April 17 is World Malbec Day, a celebration of the red wine grape that originated in France and is now grown in vineyards around the world.
The day was chosen to coincide with a reported declaration by the president of Argentina to acquire French vines, including malbec, and plant them in Argentinian soils in 1853.
Quantity-wise, the French version of the grape has been long overtaken by the large number of vineyards now grown in the Mendoza region of Argentina, where malbec is the region’s undisputed king of grapes. Malbec has also become increasingly popular in other wine-producing countries including Chile, Australia, and the United States.
In Washington, malbec only accounted for about two-percent of the state’s red wine grape production in 2014. But in spite of that small overall total percentage, its production here as a single varietal has doubled in just the last four years.
That’s good news to anyone who enjoys a solid, medium-bodied red wine – whether domestic or international – that generally features a good amount of fruit, balanced acidity, supple tannins, and spicy/peppery accents.
Here are several recommendations of Argentinian malbecs that can be found at or ordered through Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants in Bellingham:
Árido 2013 Malbec (about $11) – Nice, understated red cherry and berry fruits lead off, with a bit of an earthy finish and good tannic structure. This should make for a great “everyday” malbec, especially when paired with beef stew, burgers, or meat loaf.
Argento 2013 Malbec (about $11) – Here’s another good, bargain-priced malbec to keep on hand for the dinner table. Red plum flavors predominate with undertones of black olive and just a touch of herbaceousness on the finish.
Vistalba Corte C 2013 Malbec (about $15) – Spicy, brambly blackberry aromas and flavors fill the glass, with additional fruits of black cherry and fig and a slightly oaky finish. It’s blended with 20-percent cabernet sauvignon, which lends a bit of a heady character to top off an otherwise elegant wine. A great value at this price point.
Tomero 2011 Reserva Malbec (about $30) – This malbec displays considerable depth and complexity with raspberry and cherry fruit flavors to begin and then darker touches of anise, coffee, and black currant on the finish. Slightly grippy tannins suggest no harm in cellaring the wine for a few more years.
For malbecs from Washington, I’d suggest any of the current releases from Red Mountain’s Hamilton Cellars or the 2012 vintage from J&J Vintners in Walla Walla. Also, Bellingham’s Dynasty Cellars is planning to release its highly anticipated, first-ever malbec sometime this spring. Only 45 cases were produced and the wine will retail for $30 a bottle.