Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Lovely Red Wines
During the last quarter of 2018 I received some lovely red wine samples that we enjoyed during the holidays.
The first bottle we tried was a 2015 Merlot from Propiedad de Arínzano, a Spanish producer from Navarra. The wine was aged for 14 months in French oak barrels and the bottling was a respectable 39,000 bottles. It is a rather intense organic wine with medium to thick body. Black currants, plums, dark cherries, leather and chocolate on the nose; considerably smokey with some lovely earthy notes. I paired it with a roasted lamb shoulder with lemon potatoes and it would have been absolutely perfect, if it had a slightly higher acidity profile. It was not shabby though! I would rate it at 89/100 points.
The estate of E. Guigal produces some interesting wines. The 2015 Saint-Joseph Rouge, from the western bank of the Rhône River is a wine of character with small production, but enough output to offer availability and prices that are somewhat lower than wines from the most storied French appellations. This wine comes from vineyards planted on steep hillside sites. This is a classic French red from one of the larger Rhône producers; 100% Syrah that is rather spicy and well structured. It has been vinified in stainless steel and aged for 24 months in second use barriques. Saint-Joseph can be drunk a bit younger than some of its northern Rhône counterparts, and while the 2015 Guigal is impressive now, it will evolve for several years. For food pairing, this wine has grilled steak written all over it but I paired it with a prime rib roast and we enjoyed it New Year’s Eve. I rate it at 91/100 points.
Susana Balbo stands out not for only her incredible skill but also for her long experience in creating excellent wines. She has been making wine since 1981, and she has produced a wider variety of wines in Argentina. Susana has also made numerous wines outside of Argentina in California, Chile, Italy, Australia, South Africa, and Spain, Her “Signature” 2012 Malbec is a very nice wine; initially not tasting extremely exceptional but pair it with the appropriate foods and it’s a wine one can very easily learn to love. Smoke, cedar, plums and cherries on the nose. Leather, black pepper and black cherries on the palate. Smooth tannins. Well balanced with nice acidity and a long smooth finish. I would rate it at 92/100 points.
Another interesting 2012 bottle was the Aldegheri Valpolicella Classico from Santambrogio. A blend of Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, Molinara and other DOC approved varieties; the grapes are manually harvested in late September in the northeastern Veneto. Lorenzo Aldegheri knows how to make exceptional wines and the Classico is just a good example of taking fruit from 30 year-old vines and turning it into a light and fruity drink great for starters and first courses. The palate has a taste of cherries, almonds and black currants. These wines are the result of special attention paid to the vineyards, scrupulous selection of grapes and constant perfecting of vinification.
To your health!
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