David 11 December 2014
Whether you enjoy clinking glasses and the rabble of the Christmas feast, or sitting quietly with a leftover turkey sandwich, a good view of the Sydney to Hobart and a glass of something nice - these three reds are just the ticket. With three of my favourite wines from this year, one from Australia, one from France and one from Spain, you can choose how to savour the moment.
1. Smallfry Wines ‘Joven’ Red 2014
I’ll be opening a few bottles of this light, Spanish-inspired red over Christmas. A recent discovery, it’s turned out to be a great find. This handmade Australian wine is certified organic/biodynamic, is great drinking and best of all, affordable.
Fast gaining the recognition it deserves, Smallfry Wines was awarded 5 Stars in the latest edition of James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion. This is an incredible result for such a tiny and low profile winery.
Joven (pronounced with a back-of-the-throat H, as in jalapeño) means young in Spanish and that’s what this wine is all about. It’s released young to drink now. In Spain you’ll often find it drawn straight out of a cask in the bar.
The wine is a blend of 45% Tempranillo, 40% Garnacha (Grenache), 8% Monastrell (Mourvèdre), 5% Bastardo and 2% Tinta Amerilla, all sourced from the biodynamic vineyard in the Barossa.
The wine is a clear garnet colour with a rosy edge. I love the combination of upfront, jubey, raspberry, flavours from the Garnacha, with the sour cherry and redcurrant fruit of the Tempranillo - it works a treat. With time in the glass, savoury characters such as sandalwood, pepper, incense and cedar emerge on the finish. Light in weight, with no oak, its soft tannins are backed by fresh, crisp acid. This is easy and luscious drinking.
“… the inspiration for Aherns came from a year working in Spain, and now attempting an appropriation of Joven styles from there. Very vibrant perfume with big whiffs of sweetish fruit - could be a bowl of forest berries, but with a dusting of savoury spice and a hint of sweet balsamic. Nice. Nice. Cuddly in texture but very fresh, very crisp and spiked with some peppery heat. Has a succulence and dustiness to tannins.” Mike Bennie, The Wine Front, Aug 2014.
The upfront fruit, crisp acidity and savoury finish make this wine a delight with so many different foods and at this price, it’s an easy choice.
I can offer it for $24 a bottle. SOLD OUT - Check availability
This is the first release in a more affordable range of wines from top Châteauneuf-du-Pape (CNDP) producer Domaine du Pegau.
Domaine du Pegau produces some of the most highly sought after and expensive wines in the southern Rhône. Robert Parker has been a fan for many years and not surprisingly gives the Domaine his highest rating, 5 stars (outstanding).
In 2012 Domaine Pegau purchased an established 100 acre estate which, while in the Côtes du Rhone appellation, is just a few kilometres from the southernmost border of CNDP. They renamed it Château Pegau (as opposed to Domaine) and made several wines in that year. Their first vintage, the Côtes du Rhône Villages Cuvée Setier, is the best of them. It’s a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre, from 35-60 year old vines, planted in stony soil, similar to CNDP.
An established and highly regarded producer bringing out a more affordable range like this is a rare opportunity. In order to maintain their stellar reputation, they’re bound to over deliver - and this wine does exactly that.
“Aged in enamel tanks... fresh and focused, with medium-bodied richness, loads of cracked pepper, black fruits and herb aromas and flavours, and chewy tannin on the finish. It too has outstanding potential and should have upward of a decade of longevity.” 88-90 points, The Wine Advocate #209, Robert Parker. A great review, given the modest price of the wine.
Red Côtes du Rhône is, at heart, a pretty informal wine - not too structured, usually mid-weight, fruity, fragrant and easy to drink. Most is enjoyed young and offers terrific value. Wine writer Andrew Jefford: “Delicious, and supremely drinkable red wine, almost nowhere in the world can match the Côtes du Rhône at its best.”
This wine is crimson in colour, a little darker and denser than your average Côtes du Rhône. On the nose it reveals redcurrants and spice and is cedar city. On the palate, ripe blackberry flavours mingle with cranberry astringency - a wonderful combination, interspersed with rich notes of cedar (a typical CNDP characteristic) and chinotto. Structurally it has fine, dry, chewy tannins and a typical French savoury acidity on the finish. Definitely a firmer and more structured red than a Côtes du Rhône of the same price.
This is a real treat.
I can offer it for $25 a bottle. Order this wine.
3. R. Barbier Clos Mogador Priorat 2010
And lastly a top red that’s the perfect gift for a winehead... or you could just drink it yourself. Why not?
I can still remember the first time I tasted Clos Mogador several years ago… the rich texture, the velvety tannins and the deep, dark flavours. It’s intense and complex with an incredibly long and smooth finish and despite its hefty price, I reckon it’s worth every cent.
Clos Mogador is widely recognised as one of the great red wines of Spain. It comes from a dramatic landscape in the region of Priorat, and with Rioja, make up the only two regions to qualify as DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada), the highest qualification in the country. Priorat is in the south west of Catalonia, about 20km inland from the Mediterranean and 150km south of Barcelona.
This region has a history of viticulture dating back to the 12th century and by the mid-1800s had several thousand hectares of vines. But like most of Europe, phylloxera had decimated it by the late 19th century, so that when René Barbier arrived from France in 1979, there were less than 600 hectares remaining. Barbier is the man credited with rediscovering the region, recognising its potential and driving its development. These days he’s considered nothing short of a living legend in Priorat.
The Grenache dominant blend may vary slightly from year to year. It’s ‘basket pressed’ in an old, repurposed olive press and most of it is aged in 500 litre French oak casks for one year. After blending, the wine spends the second winter in vat. Interestingly no stainless steel is used. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered.
“… a magnificent example of what Spain can produce at the top quality level.” Robert Parker.
“... suave and sophisticated. Clos Mogador, 40 per cent Grenache, 35 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 per cent Syrah and small quantities of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Mourvèdre, an eclectic mixture but what a wine it produces.” Wine Spectator.
“It has a stricter, fresher bouquet than the 2009, with great minerality and sparkling precision. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannins and wonderful purity. It exhibits notes of dark cherries, crushed stone, slate and touches of thyme and white pepper towards the finish, which has immense precision and focus. This is going to be a razor-sharp Clos Mogador - do not wait to place your order!” Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #200, 94-96 points.
I can offer it for $155 a bottle. (Very limited) Order this wine.