The tasting panel consists of Christelle Cotar, wine director at Blantyre; Caitlin Harrison from Mezze Bistro; Dan Thomas, wine director at the Red Lion Inn and Kollin Kozlowski, CSW and wine director at Kelly’s of Dalton. Their individual comments regarding the wines they chose is below.
Ameztoi Getariko Txakolina 2012 Gipuzkos Spain ($17)
In the north of Spain, bathed by the Cantabric Sea and resting at the foot of the Pyrenees, is the Basque Country, a cool, windy and sparse region that produces an almost unpronounceable and obscure white wine, Chacoli. The best way to explain this wine is….it’s Vinho Verde on steroids!! This low alcohol white, made from slightly under ripe native grape varieties, is super intense with mouth-watering crisp acidity, notes of sea air, stony minerality and pure lime. We thought the thirst quenching spritzy quality to this wine would match best with lightly grilled fresh oysters, rich creamy Tetilla cheese or it would cut through fatty charred red meats.
Berkshire Tasting Panel #1 Red Wine
Sella & Mosca Cannonau Riserva 2009 Sardinia Italy ($11)
Known as Cannonau in Sardinia, but to the rest of the world it’s known as Grenache or Garnacha. Out of 60+ selections we had several Spanish Garnacha and Cotes du Rhone manage to make it into the top 20 selections. Grenache is known generally for its upfront pure raspberry & kirsch notes, distinct spice and acid backbone. Sella & Mosca, one of the most historic wineries in Sardinia, encompasses all these attributes and manages to take it up a few notches in complexity. The Mediterranean climate sun bakes the grapes adding notes of tobacco and earth while the two years spent in Slovenian Oak adds a distinct spice note and supple maturity not often found in wines of this price. This Cannonau epitomizes a summer red because it’s versatility, soft and light enough to match with cedar planked salmon but has enough acid backbone to stand up to richer grilled tenderloin.
Christelle Cotar, Blantyre’s Wine Director
Bodegas Rafael Palacios Godello Louro do Bolo 2011 Valdeorras, Spain ($13)
This Spanish white is pale gold in color with aromatically complex notes of pear, quince and spice. While remaining light on its feet, the palate is concentrated with flavors of pear, crisp apple and a creaminess that comes from the time it spends ageing on the lees. For me this Godello showed all the terroir of a Grand Cru white Burgundy!
Château Dubourg 2010 Saint Emilion France ($16)
If you are looking for a wine on the lighter side for the summer, but still crave complexity and character, this blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from Bordeaux hits the mark. This medium bodied red has an elegant ruby color, nose of dark berry and vanilla. It is medium bodied with pure raspberry, supple leather notes and silky tannins are easy to like. Perfect to match with roasted chicken or Belletoie Brie.
Kollin Kozlowski, CSW & Kelly’s Wine Director
Saint Peyre Picpoul de Pinet 2012 Languedoc France($10)
This French white grown on the Mediterranean coast epitomizes summertime for me. Picpoul de Pinet, which loosely translates as “lip stinger”, is a high acid grape that hits all the same notes as Sauvignon Blanc. The bright and fresh upfront notes of tangy grapefruit, lemon and lime are beautifully balance by the delicate herbaceous clean finish that leaves you begging for another sip. A final 5 pick from all the judges…and the least expensive
Durigutti Malbec Classico 2011 Mendoza Argentina ($11)
This was my highest rated wine of the 60+ reds and rose’s tasted. Deep, dark color…(what am I thinking, this is a summer wine???)...Ok, here’s the deal, this red is so impeccably balanced it doesn’t matter how rich and textured it is. What matters is the purity and attentive winemaking. This Mendoza Malbec has refined black cherry fruit with a hint of blueberry, spicy oak and vanilla notes that highlight but don’t overpower. I’m thinking backyard BBQ…whether you’re serving teriyaki tuna or NY strip steak this Malbec will suit it all.
Dan Thomas, Red Lion Inn’s Wine Director
Seebrich Neirsteiner Riesling QBA, Halbtrocken, 2012 Rheinehessen Germany ($13)
This racy German halbtrocken (half dry) Riesling is extremely friendly and so easy to drink. What makes this white so unique is the perfect balance of lively acidity and the plethora of fresh stone fruit flavors. This low alcohol Riesling is refreshing and clean which makes this a perfect go to summer white.
Castillo de Monseran Garnacha 2010 Carinena, Spain ($9)
I enjoyed this Garnacha at the tasting but as the wine opened it became apparent that it was flawed. I figured if it was corked and I liked it…a sound bottle should be even more enjoyable. Another sample was pulled and I tasted it over two days. This is a cool climate higher elevation Garnacha from the Aragon region of Spain. Light strawberry and kirsch notes with pepper and earth notes on the back palate. This light bodied red (12.5%abv) has no oak to mask the fruit, so it is refreshing to taste a Spanish Grenache that isn't overly alcoholic or over made. Enjoy this by itself or with a grilled lamb shank.
Caitlin Harrison, Mezze Bistro’s Front End Manager
Licia Albariño; 2011 Rias Baixas, Spain ($16)
This Albarino shows pale yellow in the glass. Aromatically, the wine has an intense limey citrus quality, balanced by a smoky minerality and an overall freshness that demands a hot afternoon at Tanglewood. On the palate it surprises the average Albariño consumer, that it isn't as overtly fruity. This northern Spanish white is lively and super refreshing with pleasant acidity and great balance. Drink it now and drink it often.
La Calandria "Volandera", Garnacha 2011 Navarra Spain ($16)
This brightly hued, "best served chilled, but not cold" Garnacha from Spain is a real winner. The nose shows bright cherry fruit, intermingled with some lighter earthen elements. Because of the carbonic maceration (a fermentation technique used in the wines of Beaujolais), it zips and zings with all the acidity one could ever want for rich charcuterie, fatty cheese or light fish. This is a fun and playful light red everyone should be drinking.