New Customers Save $30 off $100+* with code SEPTNEW30
New Customers Save $30* with code SEPTNEW30
*New customers only. Order must be placed by 9/26/2017. The $30 discount is given for a single order with a minimum of $100 excluding shipping and tax. Items with pricing ending in .97 are excluded and will not count toward the minimum required. Discount does not apply to corporate orders, gift certificates, or StewardShip membership fees. No other promotion codes, coupon codes or corporate discounts may be applied to order.
Clos Fourtet 2003
This estate has come back strongly under new ownership, and the quality of the wines now exhibits the tremendous potential of this extraordinary terroir on the limestone plateau just outside the walls of St.-Emilion. Sampled three times from bottle, the 2003 Clos Fourtet is the finest wine I have ever tasted from this estate. Made in a full-bodied, extravagantly rich style, it is just beginning to close down, but it is easy to see the layers of concentrated black cherry, plum, and licorice-infused fruit. There is also a subtle hint of charcoal as well as loads of mineral, flower, blackberry, and creme de cassis characteristics. This full-flavored, opulent, glycerin-filled 2003 offers impressive richness, silky tannin, and a long, 45+ second finish. It will benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age, and drink well for two decades or more.
Clos Fourtet owes its fame to the Rulleau and Carles families. The latter were lords of Figeac. They were the first to grow vines on this barely arable land, which nevertheless has outstanding natural drainage. Clos Fourtet's old vines, perfectly balanced grape varieties, traditional winemaking methods backed up by the most modern techniques, and aging in new oak barrels in underground cellars complement all the gifts that nature has bestowed on this château.
Highly regarded for distinctive and age-worthy red wines, Rioja is Spain’s most celebrated wine region and also home to whites of equivalent quality but lesser renown. Made up of three different sub-regions of varying elevation—Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Baja—wines are typically a blend of fruit from all three, although single-zone wines are beginning to gain in popularity. Rioja Alta, at the highest elevation, is considered to be the source of the brightest, most elegant fruit, while grapes from the warmer and drier Rioja Baja produce wines with deep color and high alcohol which mainly serve to add body to a blend. While fresh and fruity Riojas labeled “Joven” undergo minimal aging before release, a hallmark of more serious Rioja wines is the aroma and flavor of new oak—traditionally American, which imparts characteristics of dill, coconut, vanilla, and spice to the wine. Tighter-grained, subtler French oak, however, is becoming increasingly common. Crianza and Reserva styles are aged at least one year in oak, and Gran Reserva at least two, but in practice this maturation period is often quite a bit longer—up to about fifteen years.
Tempranillo provides the backbone of Rioja red wines, providing complex notes of red and black fruit, leather, and tobacco, while Garnacha supplies body and alcohol. In smaller percentages, Graciano and Mazuelo often serve as “seasoning” with additional flavors and aromas. These same varieties are responsible for flavorful dry rosés. White wines are made mostly from crisp, fresh Viura, which is usually blended with aromatic Malvasia and weighty Garnacha Blanca. White Rioja has traditionally been made in a nutty, oxidative style, though a bright, unoaked version is currently in vogue.
Notoriously food-friendly with soft tannins, modest alcohol, and bright acidity, Tempranillo is the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. It is important throughout Spain as well as in Portugal, where it is known as Tinta Roriz and is an important component of Port wines and the table wines of the Douro region that Port calls home. California, Washington, and Oregon have all had moderate success with Tempranillo, producing a riper, more fruit-forward style of wine.
In the Glass
Tempranillo is often aged in new oak for the integration of spicy, woodsy, and herbal flavors, often with hints of vanilla, coconut, and dill. The grape itself produces medium-weight reds with bright red and black fruit aromas and hints of spice, leather, and tobacco, with no shortage of flavor.
Tempranillo’s modest, fine-grained tannins and bright acidity make it extremely food friendly, pairing with a wide variety of Spanish-inspired dishes—especially grilled lamb chops, a rich chorizo and bean stew, or paella.
The Spanish take their oak aging requirements very seriously, especially in Rioja. There, a system is in place to indicate on the label how much time the wine has spent in both barrel and bottle before release, which is helpful to the consumer trying to determine the style of an unfamiliar wine. Rioja can range from Joven (fresh, fruity, and unoaked) to Gran Reserva (complex and oxidized from extended barrel aging), with Crianza and Reserva in between.