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The Cellar: New Wines, Great Values

Friday, March 22, 2013

 

Here's to discovering great wines at incredible prices--stock up on both of these right now.

This week’s wines were recommended to me by fellow winos. British wine publication Decanter awarded the first wine, a $15 Soave Classico, a whopping 95 points – which would make it a contender for the best value of the year. The second wine is a first for me. It’s a wine made from the Vranec grape – an indigenous Zinfandel-like grape from Macedonia. This is the kind of episode that makes me happy – new wines – great values.

2011 Santi Soave Classico DOC, Monteforte, Italy

The wines from Soave are becoming increasingly popular with American wine drinkers. Every year more and more delicious, inexpensive examples are hitting our shores so if you haven’t tried one yet –

this is the year to do so! Soave is considered one of the Veneto’s most important white wine regions. The principal grape of this appellation is a varietal called Garganega – sometimes blended with up to 30% Trebbiano, Chardonnay or Pinot Bianco.

Valpolicella-based house Santi, which dates back to 1843, sources its fruit from a network of growers in and around the commune of Monteforte d'Alpone. They only make around 45.000 bottles of this wine which is made from 90% Garganega and 10% Trebbiano - ripasso-style (sort of). After fermentation, a small portion of wine made from later-harvested, lightly dried Garganega grapes was added back to the must to boost the aromas and body of the wine. The wine was then aged 7 months on the dead yeast cells prior to being bottled. The result is a wonderfully aromatic, medium-bodied white displaying ripe tropical fruits (especially lychee) and fresh squeezed lemons on the finish. This is a well-made wine that finishes long and strong. While I wouldn’t give it a 95 point score, this certainly is a solid Soave and a great example of what these wines bring to the table.

2010 Tikves Wines Special Selection Vranec, Macedonia

This week’s second wine is a Cellar first - it is a Macedonian wine made from the Vranec grape. Macedonia is an up-and-coming wine producing nation – one that I think we will see a lot more from in

years to come. With an interesting mix of classic vinifera grapes (Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot, etc.) and a slew of indigenous grapes as well, there is something for everyone to taste. This particular Vranec is made by the country’s oldest producer Tikves, which dates back to 1885. Made from 30 to 60 year old vines this $10 wine was awarded 90 points by famed wine critic Robert Parker, so obviously this was one I had to taste!

As mentioned in the preview the highly productive Vranec vine grows grapes that make wines similar to Zinfandel. That being said, this is not a big hedonistic Lodi Zin – far from it. This is more like a Primotivo or a Crljenak Kaštelanski. What I mean by that is this: This wine is intensely colored and soft (very much like a Zin), displaying many of the same dark fruits and spices. But the 2010 ‘Special Selection’ Vranez is lighter than your Californian Zin with more pronounced acidity – especially on the finish. It’s a well-made wine with extraordinary length. I like it a lot, especially for ten bucks!

Enjoy!

Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected] with any wine-related question.

 

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