By The Wine Guy
How about a $15 Cabernet that drinks more like a $25-$30 bottle? The San Pedro 1865 Selected Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is one of those wines. It’s what I like to call the whole package. Rich red and blue fruit, a deliciously herbal, earthy side, nicely integrated tannins and a distinctive, balancing acidity. What more could you want? How about a homemade meatball slider or a big, steaming bowl of homemade fettucine bolognaise? Or maybe a prosciutto, mozzarella, black olive, onion and basil pizza?
“The ultimate viticulturist.” That’s what Australia’s greatest critic, James Halliday, called Bleasdale winemaker Paul Hotker after naming him 2017-2018 Winemaker of the Year. The award caps an unprecedented hot streak dating to 2007, when Hotker arrived at Bleasdale. Since then, Hotker has turned out 11 wines rated 95 points or above. From this tremendous winemaker, the 2014 Frank Potts Cabernet Blend, ($25.99) from Bleasdale’s “Flagship Range” named for the founder and representing one of the finest expressions of Langhorne Creek Cabernet. 96 points from a mesmerized Halliday, and a gold medal from Australia’s most prestigious wine competition, the National Wine Show. What Halliday heralded as Hotker’s “extraordinary skill” is on full display in this 2014.
Michel Torino Cuma Malbec Cafayate Valley, 2015, ($14.99), is another wine considering. Herbs, particularly rosemary, and black plummy fruit greet the nose followed by decidedly balsamic and bitter aromas of quinine and Chinato. Light, fresh, and energetic in the mouth, there’s a nice blend of power and clarity here and unlike much Malbec with is nicely dry. At its core there is that faint bitterness and touch of black spice that Malbec is capable of and this gains complexity in the mouth while retaining the fresh perfumes of crushed berry fruits, most notably mulberries and blackberries. Clean, fresh and clear on the finish, this lacks a touch of length but does gain some nuanced oak influenced complexity as the fruit, now turning red and a touch austere, fades from the palate.
Fontaleoni ‘Colli Senesi’ Chianti, 2014, ($13.99), is a family whose centuries of great wines speak volumes. Reticent on the nose and herbal with aromas of dried graasses, hay and subtley spicy red fruits. Light, fresh and zesty in the mouth, this is laden with bright, clear and slightly sweet cherry fruit. It’s a simple wine but round and yet bright in the mouth. Very refreshing and gaining some savory complexity on the backend, this goes down dangerously easily and has just enough tannin to add some real body.
Jose Maria Da Fonseca Jose De Sousa 2015 ($24.99), is a fantastic value, with dense, full body, ample fruit and beautifully balancing acidity. The Trincadeira and Aragones grapes temper the intensity of the Grand Noir (aka Baga) beautifully. Fill your glasses and enjoy with lamb and pea samosas to start. A big, steaming bowl of pasta bolognaise family style is perfect for the bold nature of the wine. A little more time intensive, but equally rewarding, is a roast suckling pig. The lovely acidity of the wine works well with rich dishes. And finally, fried rice with char siu, Chinese sausage and bok choy attest to the versatility of this wonderful red.
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