Tasting Notes with Jim Beauregard: Two reds to remind us of warmer climes

By JIM BEAUREGARD January 02. 2018 9:30PM

Happy New Year! Yes, 2018 is upon us and hopefully we all have made some good resolutions for the new year. Given the cold we have been experiencing — it’s about 5 degrees outside as I’m writing this — I thought I would turn to a couple of red wines to start the new year. We can do that by turning to a couple of warm places:

Greece, of course, has been making wine since, well, forever. My Oxford Companion to Wine tells me that winemaking in the region goes back to the seventh century B.C. In other words, they have had lots of practice. In addition, the Greeks colonized the south of Italy, bringing their grapes with them and creating the conditions for viticulture around much of the Mediterranean as a result.

Here’s a good choice from Greece:

Agiorgitiko Boutari 2015, Nemea, Greece. 12.5% ABV. Those of you who are on the century quest (the quest to try 100 different great varietals) will already be familiar with the Greek grape Agiorgitiko. If you are not, however, this one is worth a try. It is a grape that tends to produce a wine with a flavor profile of fruit, spice and plums. It has been produced in the region of Nemea since about 500 B.C. The name of the grape translates to “St. George” and it’s also known as “Blood of Hercules.” Nemea is located in the Greek Peloponnese — the large southern island of Greece, the land of the Spartans, not far from the city of Corinth. Agiorgitiko is the principal red grape grown and vinified in that region.

This wine is of medium intensity, purple to ruby in color, with the nose of red fruit. It is a dry red, of medium-plus acidity, suggesting it was grown at higher elevations, with medium tannin and well integrated alcohol, medium body and medium flavor intensity that yields raspberry, plum and a certain jamminess. It has a medium-length finish and is of good quality. 85 points.

Staying with someplace warm, let’s look to the West Coast for our second wine today:

90+ Zinfandel, 2016, Lodi AVA (American Viticultural Area), California. 14.5% ABV; $13.99, Harvest Market and elsewhere.

The 90+ wines were originally created by an entrepreneur to bring wines to market that might not otherwise have gotten there due to higher prices during a period of economic slump. As a whole, these wines have been fairly high-end; one of the criteria being that each must have at least one score of 90 points or better from a wine writer/journal. That means its other scores may be lower, most likely in the 80s. This is the case for today’s wine, which I think is a very good everyday drinking wine, but not one that would ever score way up into the 90s.

It’s purple in the glass with a clear rim suggesting that it is still fairly young. The clean nose brings aromas of red fruit, as well as some slight oak hints. The palate is dry, with fairly high acidity, medium tannin, and well-integrated alcohol. The body is medium and pretty smooth, with primary fruit characteristics of red currant, raspberry and red plum, as well as some oak flavors of vanilla and charred wood. It has a medium-length finish and would pair well with anything that has red sauce, including an occasional pizza.

Contact wine and beer writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh@aol.com.


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