In the wine world (and in the rest of life, I suppose) nothing lasts forever. Wines come and wines go. Some diminish in quantity slowly and others disappear in a heart beat, but one way or another they all grow scarce before becoming extinct.
Fortunately for wine drinkers, the joy of a new discovery is matched by the familiar pleasure of a well loved favorite. Exploring new regions and grape varieties is always exciting, but so is revisiting familiar territory to see how a particular wine or producer has evolved over time.
This week we have some fine examples of new wines that are just starting on their journey in the marketplace as well as mature wines that are the last examples of their particular vintage. Check out the following selections from our ever changing collection and act fast if you want to pick up some of the end-of-vintage wines before they are gone.
Here too is a quick recipe using the best of late summer seasonal produce. This recipe comes from the famous Catalan chef Ferran Adrià by way of the increasingly (thanks to his new show on PBS) well known Asturian chef José Andrés. I’ve adapted the recipe a bit to simplify things, but you can find the original version of this recipe along with dozens more in the boxed set of recipe cards called ‘Tapas Deck’ ($14.95 at The Spanish Table) by José Andrés and Richard Wolffe.
Tomato and Watermelon Skewers
(Serves 6 as a tapa)
6–cherry tomatoes cut in half
12–1 inch cubes of freshly cut watermelon
1-tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1–teaspoon lemon zest
¼ cup-sherry vinegar
¼ cup-Spanish extra virgin olive oil
1-tablespoon sea salt
1-tablespoon minced parsley
For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and parsley in a bowl and mix briefly.
Skewer each tomato half (cut side up) with a toothpick, followed by a watermelon cube on the bottom. Stand the skewers up on a plate. Pour the dressing over the skewered fruit and serve.
Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde The non-vintage version of Aveleda Vinho Verde has just come in with a new look and name. Now called ‘Fonte’, this is in fact the same fresh, spritzy white wine you know and love. Light mineral foundation and abundant citrus aroma and flavor combine to create this uniquely delicious white wine that is low in alcohol and big on refreshment. $7.99
Dorado Alvarinho 2006 Marcial Dorado, from Galicia in Spain, makes this excellent 100% Alvarinho wine in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. After searching in vain for the perfect Albariño vineyard in Spain, he crossed the Minho River and bought a vineyard of 70 year old Alvarinho located just above the little town of Melgaço where he also built a small gravity fed (no pumping of wine from tank to tank) winery called Quinta do Feital. The unoaked ‘Dorado’, the flagship of the winery, is rich with melon and pear aromas and flavors. Bright acidity punctuates the ripe fruit character, creating a long, lingering finish. A quantum leap in quality compared to just about any other Vinho Verde. $28.99
Auratus 2007 This blend of two local grapes sourced from the northern end of Portugal is a declassified Vinho Verde (officially it is a ‘Vinho Regional do Minho’) made by Marcial Dorado at Quinta do Feital from a blend of Alvarinho and Trajadura grapes, vinified without any use of oak. The lean, flinty mineral notes from the Trajadura blend effortlessly with the riper melon and citrus scented Alvarinho. This crisp, dry wine will find favor with both Spanish Albarino appreciators as well as Portuguese Vinho Verde drinkers. $17.99
Quinta do Infantado Reserva 2003 One of our favorite small Porto producers, Quinta do Infantado, has made their first Reserva level red wine. This dark, rich, elegant blend of traditional Douro region grapes was made from the same field blend as used in the Porto. The fruit was crushed by foot in stone lagares, fermented in tank and then aged for 18 months in oak. This small production wine (just over 500 cases, total production) is expressive and full bodied while retaining a fine balance of aromas and flavors. Dark berry fruit character rounds out brambly herb and mineral back notes. $35.99 (very limited)
Rioja Bordon Crianza 2001 The last five cases of this excellent, very well priced, traditionally styled Rioja wine are going fast. A few months ago Jon Bonné from The San Francisco Chronicle described the wine well. He said: “Traditionally made Rioja, in well-worn American oak casks, wears its age remarkably well. More basic Crianza wines are meant to drink young. But this one from Bodegas Franco-Espanolas (founded when 19th-century Frenchmen journeyed south to find a solution to phylloxera that devastated Bordeaux) radiates with all the beauties of aged Rioja. Hints of wood and coriander merge with dried cherries and an almost translucent softness.” $11.99
Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2001 We are down to the last few cases of this superlative Rioja from the picture perfect 2001 vintage. This rare single vineyard wine, fashioned from 90% Tempranillo with the balance made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Mazuelo and Graciano is dark garnet colored with smooth, well integrated oak aroma and tannins adding contrast to the silky, ripe fruit character. In the upcoming 2004 vintage (the wine is only made in the best years) the wine will get the new “vinos de pagos” designation (indicating a wine made from only estate grown fruit and made on the same property as the vineyard) and will go up significantly in price. $23.99