Issue 168 of the International Wine Cellar, published last week, leads off with our most extensive coverage to date of new releases from Napa and Sonoma, featuring tasting notes on nearly 1,800 wines. The new issue also includes in-depth coverage of Bordeaux 2012 and a special report on the wines of South Africa. For as little as $19.95 for a two-month subscription, you can get immediate and unlimited access to the current issue, as well as to the easily searchable and sortable IWC data base of over 100,000 tasting notes.
Should wine’s first duty be to pleasure the senses or to stimulate the brain?
Manfred Krankl, Sine Qua Non (Central Coast, California). My knee-jerk reaction is to say “pleasure the senses” because to me, at the very core of it all, that is what wine’s essential function is. Particularly if one ventures beyond the very high-end wine market. I know a number of people who are not wine geeks; they do not study the subject or get too deeply into it all and so they certainly don’t spend much money on wine, but they still get a lot of pleasure from a rather simple bottle. READ MORE »
Why should you care? The distinctive South African variety called pinotage was created in 1925 at the University of Stellenbosch by crossing pinot noir and cinsault, the latter grape known at the time as “hermitage” in South Africa. Although pinotage is the Cape wine region’s signature red grape, it’s a variety that polarizes tasters, especially those outside South Africa. Its detractors are put off by what they describe as aromas of burnt rubber or banana, and many traditionally styled examples make rather rustic ambassadors for South African wine. But the best pinotage bottlings are complex, deep and serious wines, and many modern-style examples are juicy, stuffed with fruit and utterly satisfying at a reasonable price.
What does it taste like? The suave, cleanly made Painted Wolf 2010 Guillermo Pinotage Swartland from Painted Wolf is one of the best values in pinotage I’ve tasted in recent years. Its perfumed aromas of black raspberry, blueberry, spices, game and smoke reminded me of syrah. On the sweet, pliant palate, ripe acidity frames black and blue fruit flavors, and the wine’s smooth, building tannins give it the structure for at least a few years of positive development in bottle. My rating: 90 points.
How much does it cost, and where can you find it? $20; Southern Starz.
Veteran Winophilia readers know I’m a fan of cabernet sauvignon from Argentina, where this noble variety exists in the shadow of its hugely popular sibling malbec. When Argentina’s producers dream up expensive icon wines for their wealthiest local and export clients, the luxury bottlings are mostly malbec. Happily, though, Argentine cabernets are both good and affordable. In fact, in the context of cabernet-based wines from California, Washington and Bordeaux, cabernets from Mendoza are a bargain. READ MORE »