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Wine recommendations and comments from Dean and Lisa Foster, Vintage Connections Wine Educators and Consultants. Most wines are available in Southeastern Pennsylvania and are priced between $10 and $20. Up-coming "wine events" available in the Pottstown Tri-county area are listed.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wine Tips of the Week: Don't Buy Beaujolais Nouveau This Year! And praising Malbec.

Cheers from Vintage Connections 
Dean and Lisa Foster 
Wine Educators and Consultants   

Beaujolais Nouveau (Georges Duboeuf) 2011

We've never directly recommended against buying a wine before (not in our newsletter or blog, anyway).  Last year we recommended the Beaujolais Nouveau 2010, bought several bottles ourselves including the 1.5 L bottle, and took this wine to a party or two.  Not this year. 

Nouveau is released every year on the 3rd Thursday of November.  This year that was Thursday, November 17.  The Georges Duboeuf is the only 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau available off the shelf in PLCB stores.  Others are available by special order.

The Georges Duboeuf is
Beaujolais Nouveau thin and bitter.  We don't expect much of this wine in any year but this year, despite our low expectations, we were REALLY disappointed.  But, don't take our word for it.  Go ahead and buy a bottle and let us know what you think.  It's currently available at all PLCB stores, product code 5877, for $12.99 (plus tax) per 750 ml bottle.  1.5 L bottles are also available for $23.99 (plus tax).  Most stores have big displays near the front of the store.

A Reuters news release says "Beaujolais seeks to burnish its image as a wine to celebrate the new vintage and dampen criticism that its popularity lies more in the marketing than in the quality of the wine."  Judge for yourself.  This year we think it's all about marketing. 

The Beaujolais region, within the Burgundy region of France, produces some fine wine.  Like Nouveau Beaujolais, other Beaujolais wines are made from the Gamay grape.   Generally, wines made from Gamay are light and fruity and easy to drink.  We've tasted (and bought) a few made in the USA and they have been good wines. 

Nouveau Beaujolais is made differently from other Beaujolais and Gamay wines.  It is made quickly, taking about 10 weeks from harvest to market.  The juice spends almost no time on its grape skins and never sees oak, so it is light in tannin.  The idea is to produce an inexpensive, light, drinkable wine quickly to celebrate the new harvest (and to help with cash flow).  The wine and its release is highly celebrated and usually a lot of fun.  But, we're not buying any more this year and aren't sure if the wine still in the bottle we opened yesterday will find its way to the glass, or just the kitchen sink. 


Let's talk about some good wine.  Last night we went to a Malbec tasting  at the monthly meeting of the Indian Valley Chapter of the American Wine Society. 

We've been looking forward to this tasting for months and we were not disappointed.  The hosts served six Malbecs including three from Argentina, two from France, and one from Washington State.  Some were blends with Malbec composing less than half of the blend.  In the case of Washington wine, only 4% we Malbec.  But, we're fine with these blends because Malbec is often used as a blending wine to add color and complexity to other wines.  Tasting the blends was interesting and educational.  However, we're still fans of 1005 (or close) Malbecs from Mendoza, Argentina, and have been drinking, writing, and recommending several over the past few years. 

Our favorite last night was Maipe Reserve from Mendoza.  However, the surprise of the evening and the overall favorite of the group was Chateau Caminade Cahors "La Commnadery 2088 (Cohors, France).  Although our hosts purchased all of their Malbecs from, this favorite is available in PA as a special order, PLCB code 52318 for $21.89 per bottle with a minimum order of 12 bottles.

A Maipe Malbec is available at some PLCB stores, code 25616, for only $11.99 per bottle.  This is NOT the reserve we tasted last night, but at this price, we're going to try it (the reserve from was only $13.79 per bottle).

In our last blog and newsletter, we recommended Altivo Barrel Select Malbec, which we used at the benefit wine tasting at the Pottstown Regional Public Library, which was very successful thanks to the 70 people who attended.  We've repeated that past article below.

We've found that there are different styles of Malbec fruity, powerful, and complex.  We prefer the complex style, which is big, bold, and with a little less alcohol (13.5 % vs. 14.9%) than the powerful style.  Overall, Malbec is usually lighter in tannins than you'd expect given its color.  We like the sharper tannins, more complex and intense taste, which is why we probably preferred the Maipe over the Cahors and other four Malbecs last night.
Altivo Barrel Select Malbec
This rich full-bodied dry red wine comes from the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina. 
It is made from 100% malbec grapes from one of the oldest estates at Altivo vineyards.  Pleasantly aromatic, it features lovely aromas of boysenberries with a hint of basil.  Flavors of rich dark fruits are well balanced with tannins and acidity.  It has a long lasting finish. 
 barrel room
This is one more of the wines we'll be featuring at the Pottstown Library Benefit Tasting on Saturday, November 5.
Alcohol is 13.5% by volume with residual sugar at 2.6 grams per liter.    Great when paired with beef of lamb.  PLCB product code is 19768 and sells for $14.99 at many PA Wine and Spirit stores, including the Pottstown store the last time we checked.
Up-coming Events
Lehigh Valley Wine Trail

November 19 & 20

(From the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail website)
This is the earliest chance to sample the first vintages of the new harvest. Nouveau wines are light, fruity and semi-dry to dry red wines.

It's also a great opportunity to purchase wines for the upcoming holiday season to give as gifts or to drink at dinner.

Tip: March Madness passports also go on sale this weekend. Get them before they sell out!


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