The 2012 Les Cadrans de Lassegue, St. Emilion Grand Cru is a case in point. Winemaker and co-owner Pierre Seillan selects specific blocks of the vineyard to harvest and vinify for the second-label Les Cadrans de Lassegue. The 2012 vintage was wet in the spring, drought-dry in August, and the autumn harvest mixed days of sunshine and rain. Such years are referred to as a “winemaker’s vintage.”
It was also a year where merlot--the primary grape in St. Emilion and Pomerol-- did better than cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Seillan blended 90 percent merlot with seven percent cabernet sauvignon and three percent cabernet franc, producing a pleasantly blackberry, earthy, and mild toasted-scented wine. Plum and pomegranate flavors, wrapped in soft tannins, makes the 2012 Les Cadrans de Lassegue eminently drinkable and immediately enjoyable. Just what second-label wines are meant to be. 88 points. Retail pricing is $22 to $36, about one-third the cost of Chateau Lassegue.
Ribera del Duero is one of the Spanish appellations that pushed Rioja to the sidelines for some wine consumers. But for others, it is unknown. Located on a northern plateau, it has the highest altitude (and some attitude) in Spain.
One of the leading wineries in Ribera del Duero is Bodegas Emilio Moro established in 1989 and now led by its third-generation winemaker Jose Moro. Bodegas Cepa 21, a new project of the Moro family, opened its doors in 2007. The wine it produces is made only of tinto fino, a local variety of tempranillo grown in the winery’s highest vineyards. Knowing the heavier style of Ribera del Duero and Moro’s legacy wines, I poured the Cepa 21 into a decanter.
In its first hour of aeration, the 2014 Bodegas Cepa 21 Ribera del Duero Tempranillo offered a black-cherry hue, with cinnamon, and blackberry aromas, and ripe, blackberry fruit flavor. Then the expected transformation occurred as elegant blackberry, cedar and black-pepper aromas appeared and delicious blackberry, peppery fruit flavors with integrated tannins emerged. Even though the wine contains 15 percent alcohol, there was not the slightest hint of it as I enjoyed it with lamb chops and sautéed mushrooms. 91 points. Prices range from a remarkable good value $15 to a reasonable $22.
About 70 percent of Italy’s northern Alto Adige wine region’s production is red. Two abundant indigenous grapes are schiava (SKI-ah-vah) and lagrine (la-GRINE as in rhine).