Wines of the Week
Great Wines from Unusual Places
In the Mood for Moldova
One of the most fascinating things about the world of wine is that it…well, covers the world. Example: I guess we can be excused if we can’t instantly find the country of Moldova on a map (it’s sandwiched between Romania to the east and Ukraine, just off the Black Sea), but we recently received some sample wines from there, and guess what. They‘re worth a sip. And a second.
To have a viable wine industry, a country needs a stable central government, an institution which had been sadly lacking in that area until fairly recently. But now winemakers are free to take advantage of their soils and climate and bring some interesting and previously unknown varietals to the market. Moldova has over 275,000 acres of land under vine, so they’re not exactly new at this, and they’re cultivating both familiar international grapes and some that are very indigenous.
We sampled the Asconi Feteasca 2014 and were pleasantly rewarded. This grape grows as both a white and a red, but our enjoyment came from the white. It’s a light straw color with aromas of fruits and flowers, mainly white peach. The palate is sour apple, jasmine and a nice zingy acidity. We liked it. WW 89.
The “Other” Bordeaux
On the east side of the Gironde River, or the Right Bank, there are several well known appellations, including St. Emilion and Pomerol. But some growers from lesser-known areas deserve recognition, and they know it. So they’ve banded together to create an overall “brand” for wines that come from areas such as Castillon (southeast of St. Emilion) and the areas of Bourg and Blaye, directly across the river from Margaux. Sure, we all think of the famous grand cru wines like Lafite, Petrus, and others, but there are bargains – and great taste experiences – to be found in many, many other areas. Here are some of our recent discoveries.
Château Moulin de Clotte Castillon 2010 -- This blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc gives off a nose of earth and minerals, followed by flavors dark earth and black fruit. A bit tannic, so needs time or a good decanting. WW 89-90
Château Roland La Garde Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux 2010 – Earth and smoke on the nose with flavors that are very true to type. Unmistakably a Bordeaux. Made in a lighter style, it’s ready to drink today. WW 90
Château de Francs “Les Cerisiers” Côtes de Bordeaux 2009—In French, cerisiers means “cherry blossoms.” The wine is well named. Inky black in the glass, it certainly offers aromas of dark cherry. On the palate, the black cherry pays off with just a hint of oak. Another blend of mostly Merlot, it’s still tannic and needs time or food. WW 90-91
We’re painfully aware that some of the wines we review may not be available locally, but they’re all worth the search. Even though I like to support my local wine merchants, and I always look around here first, you might consider visiting www.wine-searcher.com. This website gives you a list of retailers that have your wine in stock. Click on their link, order online, and they’ll deliver it right to your home or office. Hint: if you order now, ask them to hold your purchase for delivery in October or November, when the weather cools off.
Ask the Wine Whisperer
“We’re seeing a lot of arguments in print about wine bottles sealed with corks vs. screw tops. Which is better?” Jim M., North Fort Myers
This is an argument that probably will never subside. Cork is, after all, an organic product – the bark of a certain type of oak tree. It breaks down over time, and worst of all, is subject to a fungus called TCA that robs the wine of its freshness or spoils it completely. Screw caps (the makers would prefer that we call them “twist-offs”), seal a bottle completely, and most likely can last forever.
Volumes have been written on this topic, but I’d say that wines you’re planning on drinking over the next few years are perfectly fine with a “twist off.” The more expensive wines will likely still be sealed with corks, at least for the immediate future.