Selections for September 2016

Small World . . .

2015 Domaine de la Damase Grenache – Vaucluse, South of France

For us to choose you a wine it has to be good.  I think this one’s brilliant.

- But this particular one is personal too, making it even more eligible for a TWS club placement.  I’ve known and envied Kenny Likitprakong for quite some time.  While I chose (or fell into) wine retail, Kenny is a producer - small-time - in a good way.  He’s who I’d be if the stars were aligned:  Kenny buys fruit from various northern California vineyards where he observes something special going on, and TWS has some of his domestic “juice” on our shelves.  Beyond that – or enhancing it – is Kenny’s appreciation and participation in a small southern Rhone (France) winery.  This, for me, is real California winemaking, where you produce good things here that are better for your awareness of / involvement with an Old World situation.  Kenny’s wine tasting experience is equipped with impressions from both sides of The Pond.

Kenny imports this Domaine de la Damase product and even participates in its making when he can.  His preference for a direct and balanced wine message is immediately evident in this 100% Grenache:  Nothing but pure, charming red fruit and dusty white pepper greet the nose, and the mouthfeel is perfectly proportioned.  No barrels impose their own will on this; Domaine de la Damase is aged entirely in concrete vats. 

This is an honest picture of Grenache, unfettered by wood and unaccompanied by common accomplices Syrah and/or Mourvédre which might endow more color and enrich the body but steal from the intended, mono-varietal message.  It is exactly as Kenny would have it.    

Enjoy with anything off the barbecue!

The Real Deal

2013 SIERRA CANTABRIA ‘Selección’ – Rioja, Spain

Tempranillo is the Cabernet Sauvignon of Spain they say (Actually, I say it.  I might have even made it up).  It is that country’s “noble” grape, rendered at all price points and with many stylistic interpretations.  You can buy $6 “jovens” or spend nearly 1K for Pingus.  Tempranillo happens in Lodi-like regions where it delivers dependably for the jug wine crowd.  It performs bombastically in Toro.  In Ribera del Duero it aspires to the dark finesse of French Bordeaux.  Here in Rioja it occurs one shade lighter and – often – a notch up in suave elegance.

Regardless of source, style, and price Tempranillo can be depended upon for three attributes:  Good color, rich textures, and a corresponding tanginess.  Not all domestic wine drinkers fathom a dark, flavorful red that’s simultaneously lively with citric acidity.  That might be because they mistreat Spanish Tempranillo as a stand-alone cocktail wine.  Rather, they should take their cue from the Spaniard gourmand:  In Rioja and Ribera del Duero you would most traditionally serve this alongside LAMB, whether quickly grilled over flame or slowly roasted on the bone.  A bite of that rich protein followed by a flavorful yet refreshing sip of good Rioja is a wonderful duet of reciprocating palate effects.

Now, this “Selección” is no whopper.  - Nor is it as complex, deep, or durable as Rioja twice or three times the price.  However, it plays to all we’ve said here.  In the nose you can find cherries, plums, fresh leather, and tobacco leaf.  In the mouth a plum and vanilla softness is jazzed up with the juicy tang of blood oranges.  If you’ve been carefully reading you know exactly what to do about this!