Friday, April 22, 2011

You're An Original, Baby!

Certain wines are completely original. They're impossible to classify and hard to describe. Think about trying to relate a flavor and texture to someone who has never had it before, it's not easy. Well, the wines in this post are all very unique and not well known to people who aren't in the wine business. None of them happen to be red. They are white, yellow, or pink. What they have in common is that they are all made in a way that adheres to long-held winemaking traditions of their respective regions. Looking at the photo clockwise we have:

Monastero Suore Cistercensi "Coenobium Rusticum" 2007 ($29.99) This is a wine made by Cistercian nuns at a convent in central Italy. It starts out with white grapes but then a super long soak on the lees turns it into a multi-layered golden orange/yellow beauty.

Haute Terres de Comberousse "Roucaillat" 2007 Coteaux du Languedoc Blanc($16.99) From southern France, it's made in a very oxidative style in open oak vats then aged for a long time in barrels. What that gives is a golden yellow color, a very rich texture, slight nuttiness, and great interest and complexity for the price.

Herri Mina Irouleguy Blanc 2006 ($18.99) Made with 3 local grape varieties from the Basque region in extreme southwestern France, this unique wine is rich and briny, has an almost oily mouthfeel with lingering tropical fruit and crisp acidity.

Domaine Berthet-Bondet Cotes Du Jura "Tradition" 2003 ($22.99) The Jura region in eastern France is famous for a wine style called "sous voile", aged under a film (veil) of yeast in barrels that are not topped up as evaporation slowly takes place. This version saw 2 years under that process and the wine is very intense and nutty. It's a fantastic wine to pair with cheeses.

Lopez De Heredia Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva Rose Rioja 2000 ($24.99) What? Eleven year old rose? Yes! Spain's Lopez De Heredia is legendary and venerated for making ultra traditional wines the same way for the past 130 years. No rush to market here and what results is a coppery hued wine of great elegance and complexity.