Spell Checking Australia’s Coonawarra and Tuscan Splurges

15 Feb

The next wine has been unavailable in Ontario for a number of years, I seem to think. Harkening back to this post about my lost virginity of tasting wines for the first time, when I tried a cabernet from Coonawarra called Majella and fell in love. Not just with this example of Coonawarra cab but with the whole portfolio of Coonawarra. You’ll have heard me talking about Wynn’s a bunch. I think that Coonawarra justifiably deserves its own post – and I love saying and typing Coonawarra! Although it’s a bit of a cool climate area, the red wines are pretty extracted – also earthy and structured. Especially Cabernet Sauvignons and Syrah (shiraz). They say it’s the red soil – ‘terra rosa’. Regardless, the Majella is one of those cabernets that you savour, not gulp – 2009 Majella Cabernet Sauvignon (#301531 $36.95). You’ll be surprised with how much stuff goes on at the sniff, the swish and the swallow – but it’s never overpowering. If you trend to California Cabernet sauvignon, pick this up and compare. Sterner and cleaner than most similarly priced Cali Cab, I think. I bet you’ll love it. Plus, cellar potential.

This wine has been a regular purchase of mine for a number of years. It’s an old school chianti classico riserva and I always recommended it as a sure bet (remember Janice T?) and would do the same with this vintage – 2008 Castello di Querceto Choianti Clasico Riserva (#650754 $27.95). This has the typical cherry pie thing going on and is a bit more full-flavoured than your normal Chianti Classico. The recommendation for the daily slosh Chianti talks about herbality (oh yeah, that’s a word?) and spices. This one is smooth, clean, and quite balanced already. You could serve it with a pork roast, a pile of meat lasagna, or a meat pizza. It has enough stuffing to stand up to pepperoni – just not double pepperoni and certainly not Pizza Pizza.

BadiaStaying in Tuscany, we are featuring one of the largest, most consistent, and celebrated wine operations in the country – Antinori. This time it’s their 2007 Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva (#384552 $44.95). I hadn’t had any of this product until I decided to spring for the 2005. Now, many reviewers didn’t sing that particular vintage Badia’s praises. But, I loved it and have been getting some ever since. This is what sangiovese can become when there are masters involved and great bones or agricultural underpinnings. “Bill, that’s BS wine talk that doesn’t really say anything.” You expected something else? I’ll try again then – it’s big but has a softness to it once it hits the air. Regardless of my less-than-eloquent description, give it a try with some wild boar. What, no wild boar at your local Loblaws? This would do steak, I think, and absolutely pizza with tomatoes and olives. And, as Paul sang, “Let It Breathe, Let It Breathe, Let It Breathe, oh Let It Breathe.”

brunelloWhat would a Tuscan splurge be without Brunello di Montalcino? Yes, I see a hand up at the back – “Less expensive?” Good answer but not exactly what I was looking for – smart aleck. This stuff is expletive-deleted great. There are a number of worthy brunellos this week (Carpazo, Altesino, Mocali). You couldn’t go wrong with any of them. The one that I’m going to present is 2006 Terre Nere Brunello di Montacino (#208462 $34.95). Why this one? Well, I have had the others in earlier vintages and loved them. Have read the reviews – all positive. But, I haven’t had their 2007’s. But, I have had earlier vintages of the Terre Nere and I have had the 2006 recently and loved it. Plus it’s a bit cheaper. The review from Bruce Sanderson of www.winespectator.com tells us that it has “mushroomy and woodsy aromas” and goes on to say “complex and flavorful with cherry and tobacco notes with a touch of licorice”. Now, I didn’t get the mushroomy stuff, but if you like tobacco (it’s still OK to like it in wine flavours) and licorice, this wine will get you. It needs some time decanted, or in the bottle but that is fun too – waiting to serve it on a special occasion. If you’ve never had a Brunello, this would be a reasonably priced introduction and you will love what it becomes with age.

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