A lot of new releases come into the market after Labor Day, and I’ve been doing my best to keep up with them. As I’ve noted before, I never sample wines without food, so here are several I’ve been enjoying at lunch and dinner, at home and out and about.
CASTELLO DI ALBOLA ACCIAIOLO 2013 ($62)—Here is abundant evidence that the simplistic I.G.T. appellation for Italian wines is fast becoming a badge of honor. This Tuscan of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Sangiovese is not an innovation but it shows how well Sangiovese can add luster and tame down a big Cab and still stay at 13.5% alcohol. It’s a truly luscious wine and worth every penny.
VIETTI LANGHE NEBBIOLO PERBACCO 2015 ($26)—I was disappointed in the most recent vintage of Vietti’s Barolo—rather thin and one-dimensional—made from the Nebbiolo grape, so I was doubly delighted with this 100% Nebbiolo from the Langhe region, within the Barolo area. It’s a pretty powerful reason to consider Nebbiolo, which at least in this case, delivers a great deal in terms of complexity for a very reasonable price.
BADIA A COLTIBUONO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2013 ($35)—A classic Chianti Classico that shows the appellation takes age well, smoothing out the components of organically grown grapes, principally Sangiovese, with excellent aromatics, color and concentration. It’s quite ready to be enjoyed right now with everything from pasta with mushrooms and truffles to stews of rabbit and beef.
BERONIA CRIANZA 2015 ($16)—A Crianza, within the Rioja appellations, indicates the wine has been aged for at least two years, at least one in oak. This one was bottled in September 2017 and aged for three months more. Alcohol is 13.5%, a blend of 91% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha and 1% Mazuelo (elsewhere called Carignan). This is a very versatile wine, especially with simply prepared grilled or roasted meats and poultry.
DRY CREEK VINEYARD OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2015 ($35)—Zinfandels, by and large, tend to be big, even inky wines, and those made from old vines have a fine balance of spice and tannins. Their alcohol levels can be high, but Dry Creek’s, at 14.5%, isn’t over the line of drinkability, and you get all those good Zin flavors like nutmeg, black pepper and dark berries. At three years old, it’s loosened its tannins, and this is a very good wine with roasted game.
MICHTER’S US*1 TOASTED BARREL FINISH BOURBON ($55)—A very limited release, coinciding with Bourbon Heritage Month, had been out of the market for three years, and I’m glad it’s back. It is double aged, that is, in two successive barrels, the second made from 18-month air-dried wood toasted but not charred, so, while it’s not a mild flavor, neither is it harsh or too oaky. I can certainly imagine it in a bourbon Manhattan, but it’s ideal for sipping either before or after dinner.
SUNTORY HIBIKI JAPANESE HARMONY WHISKY ($100)—No one any longer seriously debates whether Japan can produce superior whisky in the style of Scotch, and this new holiday release in a gorgeous bottle (as is favored by the Japanese) embellished with the tabane-noshi symbol of celebration used on special gifts shows just how amazingly the distinctions have lessened. It’s a blend of grain and malt whiskies that results in what its name implies—harmony, with a touch of sweetness and a little Japanese oak called Mizunara.