The flavor and aroma of oak in wine is only second to Red or White in dividing wine drinkers. Many people simply will not give themselves a chance to appreciate how oak can be artfully used to enhance wine quality whether it’s Red or White. I like the flavor of oak in any of its applications especially when it is used to shape a wine into a more complex version of itself. Wine makers have leaned on oak barrels for centuries to give their wine both structure and flavors. The oxygen that seeps into the barrels helps mature the wine while causing the loss of a small amount of wine that is said to be the ” Angel
New Oak Wine Barrel
Share”. Oak wood for wine barrels is grown throughout the world and has a distinctive flavor associated with each region from which it is harvested. American Oak has a pronounced level of flavor that is imparted to the wine while French Oak is said to be more subtle (Let the arguments begin). Coopers are able to give wine makers more control over their flavors by the amount of toasting they do to the inside of a barrel, mixing different kinds oak staves used to make a barrel and even making the oak wood in to chips or sticks that can be floated in vats of wine. Today’s wine makers don’t have to paint the portrait of a wine using only broad brush strokes of oak, they can paint shadows of light and dark accents of flavors with the precision of an artist using small brush strokes to bring out all the nuances of a wine. The organic compounds that are released into the wine give it structure and flavor while drawing out hidden flavors to add complexity to the wine. When done correctly the addition of oak can produce a truly unique wine. The difference that oak makes in the personality of a wine can be seen by tasting three different Chardonnay. The first being made entirely in stainless steel to preserve fruit flavors, the second aged in used barrels for texture only and the third aged in new oak to get a creamy texture plus an aromatic vanilla taste. After tasting the differences in the three you will be able to the tell which methods you like the best.
Vina Equia Rioja 2008
The beat goes on from Bodegas Equía, in the village of Elcigo in the heart of Rioja Alavesa. Their Viña Equía Rioja 2008 is a good example of a well made Tempranillo at great sale price of $8.99 at P.L.C.B. stores. This Rioja has flavors of lush ripe red fruit and lightly toasted oak all contained in a rich medium-bodied wine that displays its’ silky tannins throughout the finish. Bodegas Equía produces this ruby-red colored Rioja by fermenting the Tempranillo grapes for 15 days in stainless steel vats while doing daily pumpovers to extract the greatest amount of color and flavor from the grapes. The wine then goes into stainless steel tanks for malolactic fermentation and then is racked twice before being aged 12 months in American oak. Wine Advocate rated this vintage at 91 points and Wine Spectator gave it an 87 rating, while not as highly rated as the 2007 vintage that I reviewed last April, this is an exceptional wine at a bargain price.
- Rioja Wine – Muga (nov14th.wordpress.com)
- Viña Berceo Crianza 2008 (canadianwineguy.com)
- Wines from Rioja (thedrinksbusiness.com)
- Wines in Spain (allinspainblog.wordpress.com)
This proprietary red blend provides a complexity that can’t be matched by comparable mono-varietals because it has a powerful blend of 55% Syrah, 20% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot coupled with 14 months of aging in new French oak behind it. After starting with an aroma of sweet fruit, it is no surprise that the palate is one of lush black fruit which remains very persistent on your tongue and is then matched by the even longer finish. This cuvee would be an excellent addition to a steak dinner or a nice complement to an evening spent entertaining around your homes outdoor space while you maximize the culinary potential of your grill. Wine Advocate gave this wine a 93 point rating and it can be found in select P.L.C.B. stores at a discounted price of $24.99 with the product code 032370. P.L.C.B. lists the quoted price at $45.00 but I managed to find it listed on Amazon wine for $39.99 making the $24.99 price a very good deal for a wine of this caliper. The Arrayán family of wines are produced by La Casa de Las Cuatro Rayas in the Méntrida region of Spain.
Hot to Trot Red Blend Photo Courtesy: 14 Hands Vineyard
The 14 Hands Vineyard in Paterson, Washington produces one of the best blended red wines made in the United States. This red was once only available to restaurants in selected markets but now can be found in wide distribution due to overwhelming demand. Hot to Trot is a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvgion, Mourverde and Petite Verdot grapes harvested from vineyards in several of Washington’s AVA regions including Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope and the Yakima Valley. It is made using techniques that are usually reserved for more expensive wines, these include cold soaking, performing a daily pump-over to extract color and flavor followed by aging in both French and American oak barrels. This extra care produces a medium body red wine with flavors of very lightly oaked red berries and dark fruit with a hint of vanilla giving way to refined supple tannins followed by a pleasant lingering spice and mocha finish. Reds from WashingtonState can be pricey but this blend always delivers a well crafted wine at a great price and its ability to pair flawlessly with a range of food makes it very difficult to beat. 14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend can be found at P.L.C.B. stores for $12.99 with the product code 5213. I suggest using the in store product locator on the website www.finewineandgoodspirits.com to check for availability of this wine because of demand.
Vina Cobos Bramare Malbec La Consulta Rebon 2009
I usually do not buy a wine with this many words in its name especially when I can not pronounce most of them but I was intrigued by the back story and origins of this Malbec. The Malbec grape is not native to Argentina but was introduced into the region from its homeland of France about 150 years ago, the vines quickly found their new home a perfect match and the rest is history that is still being made today. This Malbec is more complex than the Appellation Malbec with its aroma of exotic spices and floral notes. Dark violet tones treat the eye as the muscular palate of plum, raspberry and black licorice fill your mouth letting you know that this is a seriously complex wine. The finish can only be described as complex and long with rich pliant tannins. The grapes are the key here and are sourced from the Marchiori Vineyard and other properties within Mendoza. The word complex comes up often when describing this Malbec because so many factors come into play during its production not the least being that it is aged 18 months in 100% new Taransaud French oak and then bottled unfined and unfiltered. Wine Advocate gave this 2009 vintage a 94 point rating and commented that it needed to unwind 2-3 years making its cellar life 2014-2024. I am sure it will age wonderfully but I don’t like to wait so I aerated it and it opened up nicely with plenty of aroma. The P.L.C.B. has this wine in limited availability and is most easily purchased through their website www.finewineandgoodspirits.com. The product code is 39329 and the price is more than the normal price of the wines I review at $54.99.
DaVinci Chianti Photo Courtesy DaVinci Wines
I like to try new wines but I also like wines that have a proven track record of high quality and consistency. DaVinci Chiantis are all in this category because they always provide dependable results at a fair price. DaVinci Chianti D.O.C.G. is the lowest priced offering from the DaVinci family of wines selling at the P.L.C.B. store for $10.99 (product code 9380) which is a $4 savings from the retail price. This Chianti is made from 90% Sangiovese grapes and 10% Merlot grapes with produce a medium weight wine with a deep crimson color. The grapes are crushed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and left to ferment to a dry wine for eight days, then 15% of the batch is aged for six months in new and used American oak barrels to add complexity. When recombined the resulting wine exhibits jammy flavors of ripe plums, cherries and red fruit along with round tannins that linger in a soft peppery and mineral finish. The traditional pairing of pasta and meat dishes work well here and remember to serve this wine at slightly below room temperature to enjoy its complete taste palate.
It is no secret that I like a good Malbec and the only thing better is a very good Malbec on sale. Bodega Goulart The Marshall Malbec 2009 is a rock solid wine with a full body that follows through with big bold black fruit flavors and a white pepper spice coming out at the finish. The tannins are intense but rounded off by 18 months of aging in French oak. Another thing you will want to take the time to see is the deep ruby-red color that has to be seen to be understood. This is a very good Argentinian Malbec that is straightforward and not overly complex. My recommendation is to just pull the cork and enjoy it. PLCB code 33023 WE/90 rating 14% alcohol $13.99 that is a savings of $13.01 so why not get 2 bottles.
American Oak barrels rest on the floor of the Ripepi Winery.
I would like to tell you about a wine that I have always kept in my wine rack, while others have come and gone this one has never disappointed. The wine is Cantina Zaccanini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. This wine is a Proprietary Blend Dry Red that has an alcohol content of 12.5% to 13% depending on the vintage. The first thing you will notice is the beautiful dark ruby-red color with a touch of violet. The nose is one of ripe red berries and the taste is that of dark fruit and well-balanced tannins that gives way to a dry oak finish. This wine is made from Montepulicano d’Abruzzo grapes that are pressed and fermented with their skins on in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. It is then aged in oak barrels for 6 months then left to bottle refine for an additional 3 months. Bottles are released for sale 2 years after harvest and can be cellared to bottle refine for 3 or more years. This selection is a good match for dishes with a hearty Italian red sauce and entrée’s of roasted meats. You don’t have to remember that long name just look for the bottle with the little grape-vine clipping tied to it and you will have found one of my favorite reds. Item number 4560 and $14.99 at PA LCB stores.