April 2013 Wine Club Selections
This month I chose two wines for The Oconee Wine Club from one of the fastest growing wine growing countries in the world, Argentina. The popularity of these wines have taken the world by storm. When The Oconee Cellar opened in 1998, we did not have a section dedicated to Argentina wines. There was probably only a handful of wineries making good wines.
Today, you are hard pressed to find one of the thousands of wines available, that are not tasty, well balanced and full of flavor.
The winery I chose to showcase this month is a winery called Bodega Cuarto Dominio. It is owned by Javier Catena, who is a 4th Generation of the Catena family. Their tradition started in 1902, when his great grandfather planted his first Malbec vineyard in Mendoza. His great grandfather, was born in the little town of Tolentino, Italy in the 1800’s. He was a vineyard worker there until he sailed from Italy to Argentina in 1898. When he arrived in Mendoza, he was taken aback by the splendor of the Andes, its landscapes and by the people that received him warmly. He was convinced he wanted to pursue his wine making dreams in Argentina, and planted his first Malbec vineyard in 1902. Up until that time, Malbec was a blending grape in Bordeaux; but he believed it would flourish into a world-class varietal in Mendoza.
Javier’s grandfather, Domingo, carried on his father’s dream and took the family winery to the next level, becoming one of the largest vineyard owners and producers in Argentina. During that time, my father, Jorge Catena, studied oenology in Mendoza and began working in the family winery in the mid-1960’s. Jorge specialized in wine making and viticulture.
Towards the end of the 1970’s, Javier’s father believed that in order to produce the best wines of Argentina and compete with the greatest wines in the world, he must learn the latest technologies and wine making techniques, so he travelled to California to study at the University of California at Davis. He also travelled to Europe to study the French wine making techniques and to Australia several times. This philosophy of learning and dedication shows in these great wines.
Bodega Cuarto Dominio Tolentino Winemaker’s Selection Malbec 2011 $ 14.99
90 Rating by Robert Parker!
This Malbec has a dark violet color with dense black-fruit aromatics and some mocha character in the nose.
It also has very soft and silky tannins, a natural balance, nice concentration and a distinctive smooth lengthy finish.
The wines go through a cold pre fermentary maceration to preserve primary aromas, then a series of delestages and pumpovers during fermentation for a more balanced extraction. The juice is fermented for about 14 days at low temperatures and it is followed by a post fermentation maceration. The wines spend around 6 to 8 months in contact with 100% French oak.
Robert Parker’s review, “The 2011 Tolentino Malbec Winemaker’s Selection, which sees six to eight months in French oak, has a pinched bouquet of raspberry, mulberry and a touch of banana skin (from a little reduction). The palate is medium-bodied, with sappy, ripe red berry fruit on the entry. The acidity is well-judged and builds nicely with copious raspberry jam and boysenberry notes, towards the satisfying, structured finish that is pure and silky smooth in the mouth. This is a delicious Malbec to savor over the next five or six years. Drink now-2018.”
Tolentino Pinot Grigio 2011 $ 14.99
This Pinot Grigio has a light yellow- greenish color with intense notes of white flowers, delicate and complex aromas of jasmine, yellow fruits, a natural well balanced acidity and long elegant finish. This Pinot Grigio comes from the foothills of the Andes Mountains, in the Uco Valley, Mendoza, at 1,100 meters above sea level. The soil is sandy and rocky. The climate typically presents hot days and cold nights, with a considerable temperature variation. Harvest takes place in two different moments: an early harvest to obtain good acidity and freshness and floral notes. A second harvest is carried to obtain tropical fruits aromas.
Connoisseurs Club Selections
Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet 2009 $ 36.99
The Ladera story is a tale of great hillside vineyards in Napa Valley. Ladera’s flagship vineyard on Howell Mountain ranges
in altitude from 1,600 feet to 1,800 feet: a gently rolling terrain, but set on a broad ridge of the mountain high above the Napa Valley floor. Our name reminds us of the virtue of producing intense fruit from well-drained hillside and
mountain vineyards. Ladera’s Howell Mountain vineyard was considered from the very beginning to be a little piece of France, and was named Nouveau Medoc Vineyard by the men who founded it. Jean Brun, a native of Bordeaux, and Jean V. Chaix, whom he met in Napa, first planted 20 acres of Medoc grapes on Howell Mountain in 1877— among the first to plant vineyards up on Howell Mountain instead of on the Napa Valley floor.
It sits on a what is considered a High Plateau that includes extremely volcanic soils that are rich in minerals but low in nutrients which together bring natural stress to our vines and result in smaller, more intensely flavored berries. The 2009 Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was fermented using a number of different wine yeasts including native yeasts at approximately 50%. The fermentations finished in 6 -12 days. As soon as the wines neared dryness they were immediately pressed. The wine was barrel aged for 20 months in new (40%) and used French oak barrels, and was bottled June 6th, 2011. The 2009 Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon produced a fruit driven wine with an intense nose and flavors, great texture and seamless balance. Aromas of ripe plum and black cherries are complimented with notes of cedar and anise. The palate is layered with black fruits, sweet oak spice and ripe tannins that linger to a long velvety finish.
Neal Family Sauvignon Blanc 2011 $ 19.99
Neal Family, located on Howell Mountain in the Napa Valley of California, is know for producing high quality wines. The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc is their fifth vintage of a food friendly white wine that is not overdone with winemaking techniques. This wine is made from 100% Organic grapes which produced only 924 cases. Their choice for this style of wine is a single vineyard from the lower, eastern foothills of Howell Mountain in Napa Valley. There, the vines don’t grow as aggressively as in deep valley soils and we see fruit characters that go beyond simple grassy, grapefruit flavors.
Similar to the 2010 vintage, the cooler growing season extended the growing season into September. At harvest, they
whole-cluster press and allow a couple hours of skin contact in the press. The resulting juice is fermented in stainless steel for a long, very cold fermentation and over four months of ‘sur lie’ aging. The result is a bright, crisp, flavorful Sauvignon Blanc that is a delightful food wine. This is a wine that captures classic Sauvignon Blanc fruit characters and a hint of very ripe tropical flavors.
Very intense aromas include pure Sauvignon Blanc fruit, gooseberry, citrus, floral blossoms, and tropical fruits. While the bright acidity contributes to a long, lingering character, a richness softens the mouth-feel and adds complexity. Best served cold and pairs well with chicken, seafood and rich, flavorful sauces.