Selections for May 2017

Smell it and KNOW!

2014 CHATEAU CAPBERN – Saint-Estephe, Bordeaux, France

I commit a lot of wordspace to calling red Bordeaux an ultimate winter wine.  Its more serious provision of sturdy fruit along with a certain severity of structure better accommodates gloomy weather and the rich fare we cook up to warm our tummies. 

Why, then, are we giving you such a sturdy, braised short rib-preferring red now that the sun’s out and the tomato vines finally know it’s time to party?  Because the importer ran out of this, mid-order.  Three cases have rested in the back room awaiting the next boat with the needed supplementation.  NOW we have enough of this nice value to show you. 

- And, regardless of season, it’s kick-ass Bordeaux so let’s just be grateful!

Here is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot from Bordeaux’s Left Bank, which means you’re getting the more durable type of Bordeaux.  The critics say to allow this to loosen up over the next 3-4 years.  I say that depends on your tolerance of tannins, because I rather like a Bordeaux that’s a little too young versus one which sat around a little too long.  “Damn, we should have uncorked this sooner!” is rarely heard at my table.

Bordeaux is such a vintage-sensitive wine region.  The last time everyone was happy with nearly all of its output was 2010.  2011, 2012, and 2013 all had issues and we had to cherry-pick like crazy to keep good Bordeaux on our shelf.  While a big, fruit-forward, and much-anticipated 2015 supply of Bordeaux awaits us, I’m happy to be finding some perfectly-proportioned and traditionally–flavored 2014’s.  I believe we’ll be admiring ’14 with the provision of a little more hindsight as a perfectly “classical” vintage. 

2013 CASARENA MALBEC – Naoki’s Vineyard, Agrelo, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina

We, the American Argentine Malbec-Admiring People (those who spend more than 8.99 for the stuff) are ready to embrace the next era of this wine type – I hope.  Yes, it’s up to YOU to approve or disapprove of a style thoughtful producers would like to show you; less black and bombastic and more elegant in texture and complex in scent and flavor.  Here is such a Malbec.  Those anticipating a more deliberate application of new oak will frown.  Others, hoping for a higher incidence of black fruit richness will wonder.  Considerate World Class Wine Club members will pause and reflect – and perhaps ALSO consider the validation of the wine critics.  More and more of those are supporting such wines with accolades previously reserved for wines delivering more New World bombast.

The fact is, of all the Bordeaux grape varieties Malbec is the least adept at carrying the weight of modern, “more is more” winemaking where riper fruit and newer barrels are utilized for a trophy wine effect of thickness and richness.  Nope, Malbec will always have a certain savory, nearly-green tanginess that simply doesn’t jive with that treatment.  “Let Malbec be Malbec” is the theme more recently heard from the more careful, lower-production makers, and the winemaking has adjusted to accommodate. 

Here is a wine emphasizing the LIVELINESS inherent in the grape.  It is FRESH and ENERGETIC and I’m CAPITALIZING many of my WORDS to DRIVE this point HOME!!  Think of how many more great meals would accompany such a vibrant experience.  Finally, those heavy meat dishes aren’t matched by a wine of similar weight and ponderosity; they’re relieved.  Now, the liveliness happening here is borne not only of less-heavy-handed winemaking but of its source as well.  Its makers have planted these young vines on some of the only limestone discovered in the Agrelo neighborhood of Mendoza.  Limestone, my friends, will always make a wine that’s more exciting to the palate, as great White Burgundy endlessly demonstrates.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate awards this 91 points, noting that the next vintage of this very young project will demonstrate more depth.  We’ll keep an eye out for that, but in the meantime please appreciate the levity accompanying the rich flavors happening here; a very “New Malbec” thing for Argentina!