Keep an eye out for Red Heads Studio offerings
Wine Advocate awarded La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial 2001 94 points and IWC 92. Highest-rated Spanish Tempranillo of the vintage can be found on sale priced under $30. Eric Asimov, NY Times wine critic, gushed over it back in April 2012 and drove the price through the roof. It is one of only three from Alta Vina that has been designated Especial. Beautiful dark garnet-colored, it opens to a bouquet of cherry, balsamic and lavender. Medium-bodied with wonderful delineation, the smooth tannins and acidity are balanced with the fruit. Clean finish shows cherry, blackberry and anise. Should cellar through 2025 but drinking nicely now. If you can’t locate this label but you enjoy well-made Tempranillo blends, a close runner-up would be Bodegas Luis Canas Amaren Tempranillo Reserva 2005. The window here is only 2016.
Collestefano Verdicchio di Matelica 2012 produced by Fabio Marchioni was awarded 94 points by IWC, the highest-rated Italian white ever from them. I give it an extra 2 points if you buy it on sale under $16. This is a rare bargain, and the 2011 is just about as good. Grab some before the reviews drive the price up. A great summer sipper, pale straw-colored, it opens to a mixed fruit bouquet of quince, pear, peach, acacia, lemon and crushed stone. On the palate, fresh citrus and more white flowers are riding a bright acid frame. This Verdicchio is a palate cleanser extraordinaire with a very concentrated, long, creamy finish that recalls the floral and peach flavors.
Keep your eyes open for Red Heads Studio The Moonlighters Red 2010. Harvey Stieman wrote: “Vibrant, generous and expressive, offering cherry and pomegranate flavors, with fine tannins wrapped around a hint of green tea on the finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Alicante Bouschet. Drink now through 2016.” I liked Red Heads Studio Barrel Monkeys Shiraz 2009. Dark ruby, blueberry and smoke, with a little barrel spice and some floral notes in the nose. On the palate, berry compote flavors, velvety texture and bright, spicy lift. Finishes with sweet persistence and a lingering blueberry quality. 92 McD, 90 IWC, buy under $20. These were follow-the-winemaker picks for me. In the late 1980s, a group of young Aussie guys dubbed themselves the “flying winemakers.” Barrel monkeys is the name for the young Aussie winemaking apprentices who scrub barrels, drag hose and clean floors etc.) They decided to travel to France to learn more about small-scale production. Most Aussie production is done even today in very large-scale houses. After a bit of hard work, observation and learning, they started making some “garage wine,” which enjoyed some success in the British and American markets. This audience provided some financial backers, allowing the purchase of an old bar named Red Heads on the road between McLaren’s Vale and Barossa, to be used as an experimental winery and pub. The wine produced there is as varied as the winemakers who pop in to use the facility.
For cellarers and those interested in high-priced, well-regarded, old vintage wine: As I wrote here a few months ago, Maureen Downey knows her stuff. The Koch vs. Zachys and Eric Greenberg case was decided in Koch’s favor April 12 in Manhattan. The award was $12 million. As you may be aware, Zachys was able to weasel out and was dropped as a defendant. Regarding the Kuriwan case: He reasserted his innocence and the trial is moving forward for early summer. I am mentioning these cases as reminders. You cannot be too careful when buying older, or cellared, or auction wines. Be sure to check, verify and recheck custody chains and never buy as is unless you are a gambler. Here are two websites to look at for info: http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2013/03/wine-fraud-court-case-starts-in-new-york and http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2012/05/thank-you-rudy-kurniawan.
This week’s column was tough to write. Too much angst! Tiger and the “Kid" penalized, stock market, fuels and metals in the toilet and the Boston Marathon bombings. I found it very odd that, as the live feeds from Boston were on TV, runners were still competing and jogging toward the finish line. I’m not making light of this horrific scene, just commenting on the absurdity of this week’s news and the instant reportage that modern handheld communication devices allows.