Vail Daily Finds from the Vine: 2009’s red wine of the year
VAIL, Colorado -Winnowing the reds down to a manageable level took some time. There were so many lovely wines and many deserving of the best of 2009 designation. But we refuse to follow the Major League Baseball model, where 10 pitchers make it, 8 outfielders and they try to represent every club in All Star Game. Bah, you’re in or you’re out, there’s no crying in wine lists.Pinot Noir continued its popular rise, and Burgundy, Oregon and California led the way. The newcomer of the year is Sequana, with three great Pinot Noirs from three vineyards in California. The 2007 Sequana Sundawg Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir ($52) is from Green Valley, a sub-region in the Russian River Valley. Silky but crisp with dark cherry, dry earth and bacon notes, a little toasty oak and some nice nori-herbal aromas, it’s perfectly balanced, with enough heft to last five more years. This is the first vintage for James MacPhail’s new project in conjunction with the Hess Group.The southern Rhone has had a string of awesome vintages, and these wines represent values in the French wine world. I tasted the 2006 Domaine La Barroche “Signature” Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($57) on three separate occasions and,each time it showed huge depth and complexity. The blend is 60 percent Grenache, 35 percent Mourvedre, and 5 percent Syrah, giving the wine a spicy and heady nose with flavors of dark berry, black cherry, dark oak, rich tobacco, earth, some coffee notes and a gamey and leathery streak on the finish that shows its origin.The Dom. La Barroche is the best of Old World and New World styles with the earth, leather and tannins to last for years but enough dark fruit to justify drinking now, albeit with a little decanting and a big steak on the side. Now for the bargin of the year: From Argentina, the 2007 Bodega Colome Amalaya is around $20. This blend is mainly Malbec, with 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 percent Syrah and 5 percent Tannat. The Malbec gives the typical big, dark berry fruit, with plum and game notes. The Cabernet and Tannat give the wine a strong body with some soft tannins and earth notes. The Syrah augments the dark fruit of the Malbec and adds white and black pepper spice. Together, the wine is seamless, juicy and bright with a nice acidic finish to keep it lively. Perfect for spicy barbecue.The 2007 vintage for port looks to be a great one. The 2007 Quinta do Vesuvio Port ($80) is, as it should be, still a baby. Huge dark berry, heady mint and sweet anise, spicy black pepper and strong but silky tannins show the future of this wine. Ideally, great vintage port should age for 15 to 25 years, but with a healthy decanting you can enjoy this port in 5 to 10 years. By waiting, this port will gain complexity and nuances of flavor not detectable now. Cool.The wine of the year is the 2005 Pio Cesare Barolo ($70). It’s 100 percent Nebbiolo from the northwest of Italy – and it’s nearly perfect. Classic leather and dry berry start the wine with a touch of mocha, strong tannins, white pepper and rose notes. So young, the Pio Cesare already displays great depth and complexity. Like a great Burgundy, Barolos do not get bigger as they get better (or more expensive). Instead, they gain an elegance lacking in lesser bottlings. If you open this wine tonight, decant it for 30 minutes to one hour to let the air attack the wine and soften the tannins. The aromas will jump out of your glass. Pair this with food, please. Try something with mushrooms and truffles, roast duck or lamb. Or stick the bottle in your cellar for 10 to 20 years for a real treat.Jarrett Osborn is the wine buyer at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards.