John Szabo’s VINTAGES Preview – Jan 19, 2019

John Szabo’s Vintage’s Preview January 19th: Smart Buys

By John Szabo, MS, with notes from David Lawrason and Michael Godel

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

This week we cover the smart buys of the VINTAGES January 19th release, at least those outside of South Africa. We’ll cover the best from the Cape next week – a very fine collection featuring both quality and value – along with a detailed report from Michael Godel, fruit from his journey there last fall. In the meantime take note of these superb buys from the Old World, including textbook Mosel riesling from an unofficial grand cru site (it should be), an excellent, mid-winter-suitable Provençal rosé, and some sharp value, warm and comforting reds from Spain, southern France and Tuscany. All are in the sweet spot from $18-$25, where quality and value often intersect.



January 19th Buyer’s Guide: White

Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier 2016 Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany ($25.95)
John Szabo – From one of the most spectacular vineyards in the Mosel, this is grand cru riesling for a song. It has such a gorgeous nose, effusive, very floral, fruity, spicy, everything one hopes for in Mosel riesling. Acids are crackling, balanced by a pinch of sweet fructose, while the finish lingers on and on. A textbook classic. Drink or hold a decade or more. Best 2019-2029.

Gorgo San Michelin Custoza DOC 2017, Veneto, Italy ($16.95)
Michael Godel – From the southern shores of Lago di Garda and its morainic meeting sandy soils the assemblage is in for this Gorgo by San Michelin. Likely a combination of trebbiano di lugana with perhaps riesling and garganega, there is a seamlessness about the organization. Well heeded, added and equated. Citrus, florals and orchard fruit with some sweetness, residually, in the end.

Schloss Schönborn Estate Riesling 2012, Qualitätswein, Rheingau, Germany ($18.95)
Michael Godel –  If you’ve not yet taken a leap of faith into the Feinherb category or stylistic it’s high riesling time you tried. This nether world between basic and Kabinett (for all intents and purposes) is full of ripeness, mitigated sweetness and all the acidity you could wish for in German Riesling. The balance here is spot on and frankly a perfectly tidy value in the category.

Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett 2016  Gorgo San Michelin Custoza 2017  Schloss SchÖnborn Estate Riesling 2012

Pepper Tree Estate Grown Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Hunter Valley/Orange, New South Wales, Australia ($19.95)
Michael Godel – It’s a really pale affair this Bordeaux blend from the Hunter Valley with that portion of sémillon begging to be aged so that the whole affair can become something secondary and exciting. Tropical nuance from the sauvignon blanc keeps it grounded in fruit and therefore amenability but the sém is really the thing. Isn’t it always?

Duca Di Quadri Catemario Collezione Privata Pinot Grigio 2017, Collio, Italy ($14.95)
David Lawrason – This is a fairly rich pinot grigio with medium weight and a hint of rounding sweetness. The nose is nicely generous with poached pear, cream and blanched almond. The flavour depth is very good. Altogether quite classy for the money. Would have paid close to $20.

Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand ($19.95)
David Lawrason – The sauvignons of the cooler, more coastal Awatere Valley are usually lighter, tighter and greener than those from the Wairu, and this fits the bill. There is some grapefruit but all the other descriptors are herbal – like juniper, fresh dill and thyme. It is mid-weight, slightly tart and racy with excellent cohesion and depth and focus.

Pepper Tree Estate Grown Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2017  Duca Di Quadri Catemario Collezione Privata Pinot Grigio 2017  Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2017

January 19th Buyer’s Guide: Rosé & Red

Château De L’Aumerade 2017 Cuvée Marie-Christine Rosé, Provence AC, France ($19.95)
John Szabo – A year-round rosé, L’Aumerade’s flagship cuvée since 1932 offers a very pretty nose in the classic register and a fullish, fleshy, flavourful palate – far more serious than the average. Lees contact broadens the palate and softens the texture while adding some yeasty flavours. Very good length, too. Very solid indeed.

Gabarda 2015 Selección Cariñena, DO Cariñena, Spain ($19.95)
John Szabo – A relatively new bodega in the old Cariñena appellation, this cuvée, also based on the variety of the same name (aka carignan) with 15% garnacha, displays the unsung potential of this Mediterranean grape. It has a warm and rich nose, like raspberry and blackberry jam, and generous, polished and supple palate, satisfying all around. Some toasted caramel flavours pick up on the back end, but there’s enough fruit to compensate. Bold and satisfying in a plus-sized, appealing style. Best 2019-2023.
Michael Godel – The fruit density climbing into structure of this cariñena-garnacha joint is part impressive and part formidable in one of the larger and more ambitious regional examples you are likely to find. The wood effect is heady and sheathing while the origins are always a tough nut to crack. This will settle in and act as a great foil to Aragonese inspired cuisine, like migas an an example, for years to come.

Domaine Lerys 2015 Fitou ‘Pur Schistes’, Languedoc AP, France ($20.95)
John Szabo – This is a wine that immediately transports you to a place, a good thing in the wine world. Inhale those wild southern France aromatics, the wild herbs like fennel and thyme that grow by the roadside in the Languedoc, alongside zinc oxide and wild blueberries, black cherry, plums and more. The palate by turn is mouth-coating, richly flavoured, earthy-herbal, an intense expression of schist soils to be sure, tightly wound, complex, and long. There’s a touch of brettanomyces (leather, smoke) it seems, but it works in this case. Best 2019-2025.
David Lawrason -This is a quite full bodied, dense and flavour-packed red from a 50ha organically- farmed site. It is loaded with dark mulberry/blackberry, rosemary, licorice and some hot stone essence particular to the carignan grape. It is firmly tannic yet not austere and well proportioned. The length is excellent. Best 2022 to 2028

Château De L'Aumerade 2017 Cuvée Marie-Christine Rosé  Gabarda Selección 2015  Domaine Lerys 2015 Fitou ‘Pur Schistes’

El Valao 2015 Pago De Valdoneje Mencía, DO Bierzo, Castilla y León, Spain ($24.95)
John Szabo – Pago de Valdoneje delivers here again with this single vineyard offering from 90 year-old mencía vines in the sub-region of Valtuille de Abajo, one of the lower, more clay-rich zones of Bierzo. The wine is open, fragrant, and floral in the typical register, firm and juicy, crunchy and fresh, representative of Atlantic Spain. Tannins are still gritty, so don’t come here looking for plush and supple. Serve instead with grilled lamb or hard cheese (salty, fat, protein), to maximize the experience, or cellar another 2-3 years. Loads of complexity here for the money. Best 2019-2027.
Michael Godel – From Vinos Valtuille, here is a youthful mencía and still quite reductive at three years of age so time and certainly air are needed to coax out the pleasures of the fruit. The hard shell not yet cracked is markedly peppery and if the juicy fruit is to emerge you’ll need to agitate, cogitate and intimate your willingness for patience. High acids and some dried leathery fruit are inextricably tied into the drying tannin of this ambitious red from Bierzo.

Borgo Scopeto 2015 Borgonero, Tuscany IGT, Italy ($18.95)
John Szabo – Here’s a solid wine for the money to be sure, ready for grills and roasts. Enjoy the supple texture, the fruity-earthy, herbal and spicy flavours, and the above average density and complexity overall now, or cellar short term. Best 2019-2025.

Lento Dragone Rosso 2015, Calabria, Italy ($16.95)
David Lawrason – From local magliocco grape blended with merlot, this has a complex nose of stewed red plum and berries, with some bay leaf, pepper and herbs. A nice sense of minerality as well. It is medium-full bodied, warming and rich, with alcohol heat and considerable tannin burnishing the finish. Lots going on here, and punches way above its price. But 98 points as expressed by Vintages is absurd in my opinion.

El Valao Pago De Valdoneje Mencía 2015   Borgo Scopeto Borgonero 2015   Lento Dragone Rosso 2015

Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Grenache/Shiraz/Mataro 2016, Clare Valley, South Australia $19.95
David Lawrason -This is a very appealing, easy-drinking and full-bodied red with all kinds of berry jam/coulis on the nose, plus menthol, tobacco and pepper. It is full bodied, dense, a touch sweet with some alcohol heat (14.5%) and tannin.  Drinks well with fruit hitting excellent length.

Salentein Reserve Malbec 2016, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina ($17.95)
David Lawrason -This is a quite powerful, dense and firm malbec – if missing some elegance. It has classic Uco malbec mulberry/blackberry fruit, floral plus wild thyme and tea notes. It is full bodied, firm and quite tannic, with excellent length. Interesting spearmint/thyme on the finish. Not ready for prime time but this is solid and impressive. And very good value for the cellar.

Umani Ronchi Montipagano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2016, Abruzzo, Italy ($15.95)
Michael Godel – Umani Ronchi varietal montepulciano is classic Abruzzo really with a liquorice twist around savoury, plummy and white peppery red fruit. There is a proper balancing act being walked between developed and high acid, with a stop along the way for tangy dried fruit leather to have its say. Tidy value because it stops short on the correct side of glycerin and wood.

Kilikanoon Killerman's Run Grenache/Shiraz/Mataro 2016   Salentein Reserve Malbec 2016   Umani Ronchi Montipagano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2016

That’s all for this report. See you around the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS

That’s all for this report. See you around the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS

Use these quick links for access to all of our Top Picks in the New Release. Non-Premium members can select from all release dates 30 days prior.

Szabo’s Smart Buys
Lawrason’s Take
Michael’s Mix

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