From time to time our suppliers have inventory clearance sales. When they do, we pass the savings along to our customers. Herein a list of five new wines that I've gotten in to both stores and am offering at "Special Purchase Prices." These are great additions to our list...and great deals for our customers.
Quinta do Crasto 2007 (Douro, Portugal) Regular $24.35/ Special Purchase Price $19.90
The Douro River valley that runs through northern Portugal from the Spanish border to the Atlantic Ocean at the city of Porto has two famous “demarcated regions” for wine – Douro DOC and Port DOC. The Douro DOC is famous for its red table wines because its vineyards occupy the cooler higher elevations along the valley, leaving the hotter lowlands for the deep ripening of the grapes that go into Port wine. “Quinta” means “farm” in Portuguese and for wineries is used much the same way “Chateau” is used in Bordeaux. Sitting on a privileged location on the Douro River, Quinta do Crasto has been in the family of Leonor and Jorge Roquette for over a century. Like other great Douro quintas, its origins lie in ancient times (the name Crasto comes from the Latin word castrum, a Roman fort). References to Quinta do Crasto date as far back as the early seventeenth century, long before the Douro became the world’s first demarcated wine region in 1756 (180 years before the French developed their AOC system).
This wine is a complex and fascinating blend of Portugal’s best grapes for red wines. To a backbone of 39% Tinta Roriz (known as Tempranillo at the Spanish end of the Douro/Duero) is added three of the grapes that form the basis of the best fortified Port wine -- 25% Tinta Barroca, 25% Touriga Franca and 15% Touriga Nacional). This is a light and refreshing wine with notes of raspberry, licorice and water over gravel. It’s meant to be drunk young and slightly chilled. Treat yourself, and discover the unfortified wine of Portugal.
Chateau Musar Cuvée Rouge 2007 (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon) Regular $24.35/ Special Purchase $18.25
Chateau Musar was founded in 1930 by Gaston Hochar in an 18th Century castle in Ghazir, just fifteen miles north of Beirut. The vineyards are located 30 miles east of the Chateau at an altitude of over 3,000 feet in the Bekaa Valley, where the vines are sheltered by the surrounding mountains running parallel to the Mediterranean coast. And, yes, they have had to dive for cover when they experienced “incoming” rounds from the artillery of the ongoing civil war in Lebanon. But, hey, these folks are of French background…and nothing is more important than the wine.
The wine is a Rhone-style blend of Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The Musar Cuvée is the “second wine” of Château Musar. It comes from the same blending as the Château but has a higher percentage of Cinsault and no oak aging. It is a wine meant to be drunk young and fresh…as in now. Try it lightly chilled in this “shoulder season” and serve it with the hearty soups and stews of the cooler evenings of autumn.
Castillo de Sajazarra Reserva 2003 (Rioja, Spain) Regular Price $32.00/ Special Purchase Price $25.45
Castillo de Sajazarra released its first wine in 1973 and has since then become known as one of the best wineries of the Rioja Alta region. 2003 being designated a “good” year in Rioja, they made this Reserva. It is, remarkably, 95% Tempranillo, with just a little bit of Garnacha and Graciano. That’s probably because the early-ripening Tempranillo did better in 2003 than its tardier cousins. As is required of a Reserva wine, it spent 2 years in barrels of both American and French oak. The wine is exceedingly smooth and well integrated. It glides across your tongue and finishes clean and bright. Like all Rioja reds (and all Tempranillo-based wines) this wine is a stunning companion at the table, regardless of the food…or even the company.
D’Arenberg “The Olive Grove” Chardonnay 2006 (McLaren Vale/ Adelaide, Australia) Regular Price $21.00/ Special Purchase Price $16.60
Since settlement in the 1840’s, olive trees have thrived in coastal Australia. So much so, they are now considered a predator to the native flora. Birds love the olive fruit and spread the pits around, so they grow as weeds among the grapevines. Now, it might just be the power of suggestion, but everyone I’ve had taste this wine finds a hint of dark olive flavor to it. I guess the only way to really test this hypothesis would be to have people taste it without knowing the name. But what fun would that be? I’d rather just drink it with any food that has olive oil in it. And in my world, that’s just about any food we eat.
As is typical of Australian Chard, this one has more fruit than oak. That’s because they ferment only half the juice in oak barrels, keeping the rest in stainless steel vessels to bring out the bright acidity. But the oak is definitely there, giving a rounded softness to the bright tropical flavors. Not being as bright and brash as some Aussie Chards, I think “The Olive Grove” pairs much better with food…more like my favorite Chardonnays from Burgundy.
Hugh Hamilton “The Rascal” Shiraz 2006 (McLaren Vale, Australia) Regular Price 24.35/ Special Purchase Price $19.90
Hugh is the fifth generation of the Hamilton family that planted the first vineyards at Glenelg in 1837, less than one year after European settlement in South Australia. As with all families one scion is a black sheep and Hugh Hamilton is it. From the names of the wines – “The Mongrel,” “The Trickster,” “The Ratbag” – to his philosophy about food and wine and oak, Hugh likes to do it his way. He’s the “Rascal” personified. And that’s probably why he used the name for the signature red of McLaren Vale – Shiraz. Shiraz is a vine that grows so well in McLaren Vale it could be a native weed. It always ripens and produces wines that are generous, bold & ever interesting. And talk about “bold.” This wine is an astounding 16% alcohol, but you wouldn’t know it except that it says so on the label. It carries its alcohol very well, with none of the burn you can get with some high test wines. I think that’s because of the judicious use of oak. Hugh’s preference is for French oak because of the softer, more subtle effect obtained. “The Rascal” spends up to 15 months in oak casks, but the objective is not to “over oak” the wines. It is to produce wines that have character, complexity and are a delight to drink. This wine is everything a premium Australian Shiraz should be and it should continue to drink very well for another decade. Hugh, you rascal, you.