Out with the Old,
In the with New
Like many of you, I am pretty over 2020. In that spirit, let's kick out the old and bring in the new, the new world that is! This pack is comprised completely of wines from the New World (that is any wine region outside of Europe, the Middle East and the Caucasus). We are traveling far and wide here, including two regions we have previously not featued in any pack. Scroll down to see what they are. You are in for a treat.
1. Vasse Felix, Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon Filius, 2018 - When I said, far and wide, I meant really far. Jutting out into the Indian Ocean the Margaret River wine region of Western Australia may be completely new to you, it was to me. Their wines don't get out much and it is quite the journey to get to this gem of Australia viticulture. If you wanted to visit, it is a 3 hour drive from Perth, which is a 5 hour flight from Sydney, which is, on a good day, about 18 hours from Portland with several layovers. Despite the isolation of this area and despite producing only 3% of Australia's wines, the Margaret River region produces over 20% of its premium wines, largely focused on Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Climate wise, it's a strange place. More maritime influenced and with the lowest average temperates than any region in Australia, but with a rainfall pattern like the Mediterranean. It's kinda like Bordeaux in a dry year. Hence, the grapes that dominant are Bodeaux varities. Anyway, back to the wine. Vasse Felix was the first estate in the region back in 1967. Everything since has grown from their pioneering leadership and guidance, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. This is my kind of Cab! It's a dream. Perfect for pairing with food or with a glass. Black currant and cherry dominate on the nose, with bursts of cedar, polished stone and dried herbs taking it full circle. Tangy, ripe bramble fruit, toasty oak and chocolate bring it home. As more of you get to know me and what I look for in wine, you'll find I seek out balance, nuiance and elegance in my wines. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy, ripe, bold, powerful wines, it just means they need to be in balance with their surroundings. Think of a dancer; strong, powerful and intense, but all channeling toward elegance, grace and and most importantly finesse. That is Vasse Felix.
2. Kumeu River, Chardonnay Village. 2019 - We are staying down under, but moving to one of the most stunning countries in the world and specifically to and arguably New Zealand's finest Chardonnay producer, Kumea River. Owned, operated and completely run by the Brajkovich family, who first arrived in New Zealand in 1937 from Croatia; Kumea River is now in its third generatio. The estate has grown to encompass 60 acres of vines, all hand harvested, and specializes in Chardonnay. What we are featuring is their "entry-level" Chardonnay, an exceptional expression of this grape and vastly underpricedfor its quality. This wine is reguarly price around $27-$30, but today we are offering it for just $20 a bottle. Where I could find it online, it ranged from $23 - $34 a bottle. If this were a Burgundian, it would be among the greats of the Côte de Beaune, which are typically price well north of $50. This bottle represents what Multnomah Wine Studio strives to offer its subscribers. Hard to find wines, unbeatable prices and lively stories that teach and inspire another glass. This wine is a perfect aperitif, goes extraordinarily well with seafood and makes the dark and cold of winter bright and exciting. Subtle oak spice, hints of lemon-lime with a mineral edge finishing with flavors of white peach and fresh fig is the simpliest way to describe this incredible wine. Tim Atkin, the British Master of Wine put it best, "a Kiwi wine that’s better than many Puligny-Montrachets."
3. Gillmore, Vigno Old Vines Dry Farmed, Maule Valley 2014 - I first visited Gillmore in April of 2013 on my first trip to Chile. Run by Daniella Gillmore and winemaker Andres Sanchez, Gillmore embodies a movement that has gripped the southern Chilean wine growing areas over the past 10 years. A movement that embraces farmers, old vines and centuries old methods for growing grapes and often centuries old grape vines themselves. This movement organized into MOVI, the Movement of Independent Vintners. Their first project was VIGNO, Vignadores de Carignan, an appellation of origin label designation to promote and highlight old vine, dry farmed Carignan of the Maule Valley. Daniella and Andres, were founding members of both groups.
In order for a winery to use the distinctive VIGNO designation on its bottle, it must meet the below criteria:
1. The grapes must be from dry-farmed, gobelet or bush trained vines that are at least 30 years old and located in the area known as Maule Secano or the dry Maule
2. 70% or more of the blend must be Carignan (this has just changed from 65%)
3. The other grapes must meet the same criteria as the Carignan grapes
4. The wine must be aged for a minimum of two years.
Criteria like this, wine commonplace in other wine regions, like the Crianza/Reserva/Gran Reserva designations of Rioja, is unheard of in Chile. Not only has the organization codified these requirements, they have dramatically helped family farms in the Maule by increasing the price of the grapes they grow. 10 years ago a kilo or 2 pounds of Carignan would sell for 10 cents, now they sell for over a $1.
Carignan is a peculiar grape, often not really expressing it's potential until the vines are over 20 years old. Once the age is right, the grapes old Carignan vines produce are incredibly dynamic. Andres has learned to tame the wild 50+ year old estate grown vines used to make this wine. An intense nose, offers blackberry, blueberry and coffee aromas while the palatte is ripe, bold, yet refreshingly rich. This is a fantasic alternative to the restaurant mantra of a "Cab and a slab;" meaning, drink this instead of Cabernet Sauvignon with your next steak or roast.
4. Leah Jorgensen Cellars, Cabernet Franc 2018 - What a trip! Now we are back home and onto Oregon's premier Cabernet Franc producer. Lured west by the Willamette Valley and Pinot Noir, Leah quickly tuned her sights on Southern Oregon. In 2011, she stated Leah Jorgensen Cellars and quickly garned a well deserved reputation for her skill in crafting incredible Old World meet Southern Oregon Cabernet Franc. This is 100% Cab Franc and just 300 cases were made, and not many are left, hence the 11 packs available this time around.
I've featured Cab Franc before, most recently in "Wines to Drink Alone" but never one from Oregon. Leah's wines are very aromatic. Wafts of smoke blend with herbs and red fruit. This gives way to just the slightest bit of pyrazine aroma (that red bell pepper aroma, typical of Cab Franc and Carmenere), but it is far from unpleasant, in fact it integrates nicely. This young wine, balanced and complex needs about 15-20 minutes to open up, but once it does you will be rewarded with intense floral aromas and a perfect wine for dry-rubbed ribs, tri-tip or grilled portabella mushrooms.