The Patient Vintner: Bodega y Cavas de Weinert

24 05 2019

By Peter Vetsch

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

If I was to tell you that I was drinking the current release of a mid-tier offering from a well-regarded producer and from a name region, made from 70-110 year-old vines, and that the vintage date on the bottle was 2006, what would you guess the region was?  Rioja – maybe a Reserva offering from a traditional-minded producer?  Champagne, if you are extremely liberal with your definition of “mid-tier”?  Somewhere in Italy?  Portugal?  You would probably be most of the way through the global wine region Rolodex before you landed on Mendoza, Argentina, and once you did, you would probably immediately discard the possibility, knowing this to be the heart of bold, fruity, approachable Malbecs that are released and enjoyed in their youth.  Bodega y Cavas de Weinert, and its current-inventory $25 old-vine 2006 Malbec, will cause you to re-evaluate all of your presumptions; they are an anachronism in all the best ways.

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This classical estate actually has a rather recent history:  the winery dates back to 1890, but its current identity was tied to its acquisition by Brazilian Bernardo Weinert in 1975. Swiss winemaker Hubert Webber has been at the helm since 1996, when he was ensconced at the ripe old age of 27; his mission has been to craft wines from Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines that avoid early showmanship and start to reveal themselves after a decade or more, as it is only then that the Bodega will release them to market.  Lengthy barrel aging (up to 5-6 years in large oak foudres in Weinert’s cool granite cellars), then further time in bottle pre-release, is the estate’s hallmark — Weinert follows the old-school Spanish model of only allowing his wines into the public sphere when they are deemed ready to drink, whether or not this follows the standard chronological vintage release playbook.  In other words, don’t necessarily assume that the 2007 will follow the 2006 as the next wine on the shelf.

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The relatively modest prices of the finished wines might be reflective of advantageous land and labour costs in Argentina, but they are not the result of any lack of care in the vineyard:  Weinert’s vineyards, located in Mendoza’s top subregion of Lujan de Cuyo, feature largely ungrafted own-rooted vines that are a minimum of 25 years old and are exclusively hand-harvested.  Fermentation takes place in cement tanks, and Weinert’s cellar boasts both the largest barrel in Argentina (44,000 L) and the oldest barrel in the world, each of which are a reminder that the goal of the Weinert wines’ extended time in barrel is not wood flavour transference (which increases the newer and smaller the barrel is), but gentle, lightly oxidative maturation.  I had the opportunity to taste a trio of Weinert offerings, all 12-13 years old (as is par for the course in this particular corner of Mendoza), to explore this wholly unique take on Argentinian viniculture.  Malbec first, as always. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2006 Bodegas LAN Rioja Crianza

22 10 2012

[This bottle was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

Exhibit A for why Spanish wine should be a part of your life.

When the good vino-importing folks at Christopher Stewart Wine & Spirits asked if there were any bottles in their portfolio that I might be interested in writing up, it took me about 0.02 seconds to zero in on this one.  Accolades and rankings don’t tell the whole story of a bottle of wine, and even the most highly regarded publications need to be taken with a grain of salt (with the exception of this blog, of course), but when a bottle that retails for $15ish CDN and is widely available makes Wine Spectator’s list of the Top 100 wines of the year, it’s worth noting.  The ’06 LAN Crianza was #44 in the WS Top 100 list of 2010 — I remember buying that issue back then and being very curious about the wine.  Two years and 185-odd PnP posts later, I got to crack the bottle and find out all about it.

The constant capitalization of Bodegas LAN is not a typo.  The winery name is actually an acronym for the 3 different provinces within Spain’s famed Rioja region where its grapes are grown:  Logrono (now called La Rioja), Alava and Navarra.  While many reds made in Rioja are blends, this one is entirely crafted from the region’s (and the country’s) star grape, Tempranillo.  Spain has long been known for mandating minimum aging requirements for its various quality designations of wine, and many producers continue to keep their wares from market for even longer than legally necessary, holding them back until they are deemed ready to drink.  In the case of this bottle, the term “Crianza” is a designation that in Rioja requires wines to be aged for a minimum of 24 months before release, at least 12 of which have to be in oak barrels.  The LAN Crianza spent exactly that long in a blend of French and American oak barrels.  Normally when people make such a statement, they mean that, after fermentation, part of the LAN wine went into French oak barrels and another part of it went into American oak barrels, with the two separately aged portions blended together after barrel aging.  Not so here:  in LAN’s case, EACH BARREL used to age its Crianza was made from a blend of French and American oak.  I would love to know the cooperage techniques necessary to make that happen, but I have never heard of anybody doing that before, and it is without question my favourite obscure fact about this bottle. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2006 Brancaia Tre, XMas Edition

31 05 2012

I don’t even know what to say. Oh wait, yes I do.

Yes, I intentionally waited until it was completely seasonally inappropriate to open this bottle.  I bought it back in December (no surprise) mainly because I couldn’t believe someone had done this to a bottle of wine:  pull a back-vintage bottle from a producer’s library (or an importer’s warehouse), replace the original label with a horribly tacky dollar-store-worthy holiday one, and re-release it in time for the Christmas retail rush.  The most amazing thing is that this isn’t some hack wine:  Brancaia is a well-regarded Tuscan producer, and the 2007 vintage of Brancaia Tre (the year immediately after this bottle) was so acclaimed that it cracked the top 10 in Wine Spectator magazine’s Top 100 Wines of the Year.  Meanwhile, the 2006 was stripped of all its dignity, festooned with a cheesy red label and thrown into the hyper-commercialized Christmas arena alongside Justin Bieber’s holiday album and boxes of red and green M&Ms.  My reaction on first seeing this bottle on the shelves probably echoed that of many wine lovers:  “You’ve got to be f______ kidding me.” Read the rest of this entry »





“The Wine Is Sound”

21 05 2012

A great bottle, particularly on a restaurant list for $85!

I’ve been travelling quite a bit for work lately (hence the limited and sporadic nature of my posting in May).  This past week I was in southern Ontario for a couple days and had the chance to eat dinner with some colleagues at a fantastic modern and wine-centric restaurant in downtown Toronto.  The place was built around wine, with a massive temperature-controlled cellar, multiple sommeliers on staff and a huge list of hundreds of bottles covering all points of the vinous spectrum.  Even better, instead of marking up their wines to 2 or 3 times retail price as per restaurant standards, this place took a unique approach to their pricing, tacking a fixed $25 markup onto their cost for each wine on their list and charging only that nominally-increased price to diners.  They basically offered their entire wine cellar to consumers at corkage prices, which is a phenomenal selling feature and an idea that I hope gains greater traction across the fine dining industry in the near future.  As I will describe below, the actual service of the wine was also a thing to behold, with every step from cellar to table carefully handled by a trained sommelier.  It was the epitome of restaurant wine experience…but as I left the place, the only thing I kept coming back to was one little thing the sommelier said as he handed me my glass. Read the rest of this entry »





100th Post Special Wine Review: 2006 Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino

14 09 2011

The name at the bottom of the label says it all: Gaja.

Back!

After a stellar trip to British Columbia that included visits to some excellent Okanagan wineries whose wares will be featured here soon, I am again at my computer in Calgary ready to bring PnP out of its brief hiatus.  A HUGE thank you to everyone who made sure this site didn’t lose any of its momentum while I was away — much to my surprise (and sincere gratitude), Pop & Pour actually set a record for daily views a few days after I left town!  Obviously I need to go on vacation more often.

The blog gets rebooted with a bang tonight, since my return post doubles as the 100th post I’ve written for PnP over the last six months.  The fact that I’ve found 100 occasions since the start of March where the baby was sleeping and the house was quiet and I was able to be at the computer for a consecutive hour is clearly cause for celebration, and your poll voting determined that PnP’s centennial would be feted by way of the 2006 Gaja Brunello, more formally known as the Brunello di Montalcino from Pieve Santa Restituta.  Even though I only got this wine three months ago, I’m very happy that it won the poll and that I get to open it, because it was my first ever Father’s Day present from my now-8-month-old son Felix (likely assisted in some substantial capacity by my lovely wife Heather).  Nothing like a proud milestone gift to celebrate a joyous event. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2006 Inniskillin Cabernet Sauvignon

5 08 2011

$15 Canadian Cab...don't get me started.

Oh, Canada…I had been starting to feel a glimmer of optimism about red wines from my home and native land after positive recent experiences with producers like Laughing Stock (Okanagan) and Tawse (Niagara), but just as I began to forget why Canadian reds have until recently been an endless source of frustration for me, tonight happened.  My consternation isn’t that these wines are terrible (though some are); it’s that too much of the wine industry here seems locked in to grapes and wines that we are hard pressed to make better than many other regions around the world.  Cabernet Sauvignon is a case in point.  Why take one of the most heat-loving, slow-ripening, warm-weather grapes out there and try to specialize in making single-varietal wines out of it north of the 49th parallel?  Why especially would you try to target the sub-$20 price range with your Cabs when better-situated producers with hotter weather and cheaper land from Chile, Argentina, Australia and California basically have that market covered?  Where is the global competitive advantage in that approach?  We need a new business plan. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2006 Therapy Vineyards Superego

1 07 2011

A+ label art -- even cooler up close, AND appropriate Canada Day colouring.

Happy Canada Day, everyone!  I would have been remiss if I didn’t focus on a wine from my home and native land tonight, but that proved to be more of a challenge than I thought, as my cellar’s currently a little thin on the Canada front — out of the 90-odd bottles that I keep stored in an army of wine fridges in my basement, only two of them are from Canada.  One of them is a $15 Niagara Cabernet Sauvignon that I’m a little scared to open, and the other one is this bottle.  Fearing the patriotic retribution that might ensue if I rated a cheap Canadian wine 65 points on Canada Day, I instead went with this bottle, the 2006 Superego from Therapy Vineyards in the Okanagan Valley.  You may know Therapy from their ink-blot labels and punny wine names (Freudian Sip white blend, Pink Freud rosé, etc.); the Superego is their top red bottling, made from top quality grapes using stringent processes to be Therapy’s flagship wine.  As you can see in the picture to the left, it comes in an absolutely spectacular-looking bottle that rivals Chile’s Montes Folly Syrah as my favourite wine label art of all time.  I got this particular bottle from a fellow wine lover and a Therapy devotee (thanks Allison!) and have been holding it for the right occasion.  Happy 144th, Canada — tonight I pop and pour for you! Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2006 Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve

29 06 2011

Long time no PnP!  Sorry about that — I was away on the weekend and discovered both at the time and after coming back that trip-related schedule lulls are multiplied tenfold when babies are involved.  However, I am now back in the saddle and again devoted to reducing my cellar one bottle at a time.  Tonight’s wine seemed like a promising combination:  a region (Alsace, France), producer (Trimbach) and varietal (Pinot Gris) that I love, all at a bargain price (I think this bottle was $17).  Too good to be true?  Oh yes.

"Reserve" is the wine equivalent of "part of a nutritious breakfast".

For those of you wondering if Pinot Gris has any relation to Pinot Grigio, the Italian white that I reviewed a few wines ago, they’re actually the exact same grape, although they usually manifest themselves in the bottle in very different ways.  Pinot Grigio is grown and made to be light, crisp, refreshing and neutral-tasting, whereas Pinot Gris is much fuller, lusher, riper and more flavourful.  If you taste classic examples of the two back to back, you wouldn’t believe they were the same grape.  Pinot Grigio’s home is northeast Italy, while Pinot Gris is best known from Alsace, where it is one of four “noble grapes” allowed to be in the region’s top Grand Cru wines (the others, if you’re curious, are Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muscat).  I personally prefer the Gris to the Grigio, as I find it more interesting and think it has much more personality in the glass.  Even better, like many Alsatian wines, it can be a value:  I’ve seen Grand Cru Pinot Gris on sale for less than $30 a bottle.  It’s also consumer-friendly, because all Alsatian wines actually list the grape on the bottle label, unlike the wines from almost every other spot in France. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2006 Kris Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie

2 06 2011

Every label needs a good dose of Surrealism. Look at the colour on that Pinot Grigio!

I got this wine as a gift from my awesome in-laws…thanks Alan and Margaret!  In my experience, there’s no wine that’s better than free wine.  I don’t often drink Pinot Grigio, but here’s what I know about it: (1) its most well-known renditions come from northeast Italy (as this one does); (2) it remains one of Italy’s best selling wine exports and has found a willing and thirsty audience in North America; and (3) it is the same grape as Pinot Gris, a varietal grown in Alsace (France), Oregon and Canada, among other places, although the wines from the two versions of the PG grape are almost nothing like each other.  Pinot Grigio tends to be dry, light-bodied, very pale, high in acid and neutral, crisp and refreshing, while Pinot Gris is fuller, richer, deeper in colour, more complex in flavour and used for both dry and sweeter wines.  I’ve had my fair share of Pinot Gris, but only a handful of Pinot Grigio, so tonight I broaden my horizons. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2006 Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon

6 05 2011

Happy birthday to me!

OK, time to get serious and prepare yourself for the most expensive wine in PnP’s young history!  It was my birthday yesterday, which automatically meant a bottle out of the “good” wine fridge.  That turned out to be the 2006 Cakebread Cab, which I got for Christmas a couple years ago from my wonderful in-laws (did your in-laws ever give you high-end wine for Christmas?  I didn’t think so).  Cakebread is a renowned producer from Napa Valley, the vinicultural heart of California, and I’ve been a big fan of theirs for a long time.  One of my first ever epiphany wine experiences that opened my eyes to the world of fine wine involved a Cakebread, and since then I’ve tried a number of their offerings and have even been to visit the winery and taken part in a tasting there (highly recommended if you’re ever in the area).  Like many Napa producers, Cakebread makes a lot of different wines but hangs its hat on its Cabernet Sauvignon; this Cab was made from grapes sourced from a variety of locations within Napa Valley and retails for close to $100 CDN, so I was very interested to see how it fared. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2006 Ridge Lytton Springs

24 04 2011

Zinfandel! When made right, still one of my favourite reds.

Happy Easter everybody!!  Special occasions call for special wine, and on this Easter weekend I turned to Ridge, a classic California producer who is giving serious attention to a grape that’s often treated too frivolously:  Zinfandel.  If any of you reading this just said “Hang on, I thought Zinfandel was white?”, banish that thought from your head forever.  While an ocean of blush jug wine has been created bearing the name “White Zinfandel”, Zin is actually a red grape.  What makes White Zinfandel white (or, more accurately, slightly pink) is that when it is made, the fermenting juice is only left in contact with the grapes’ skins for a very short time, after which it is quickly separated so that the skins can’t pass on much of their dark colour to the finished wine (thus preventing it from being red).  White Zinfandel is a cheap, uninteresting, bastardized version of a varietal that, when shown the proper care, can create some of the truest versions of American red wine out there.  The US (especially California) is the predominant producer of Zin in the world; Zinfandel really only shows up elsewhere around the globe in southern Italy, where it is known as Primitivo. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2006 RedHeads Studio Esule

16 04 2011

Awesome label, domineering wine.

Here we have a wine with a great back story, a fun concept and a kick-ass label, but which is made in a style that just makes me cringe.  It’s from the McLaren Vale, one of the premium wine regions in Australia located immediately south of Adelaide in the dead centre of the country’s southern coast, and it takes the super-ripe, ultra-concentrated Aussie style to crazy, irrational extremes.  It is probably a well-made wine for its style, but I will take a rather harsh stand and say that there shouldn’t BE any wines of this style.

But let’s rewind to the good stuff first.  RedHeads Studio is a garage wine collective located in south-central Australia.  “Garage wine” is a term used to describe high-quality, small-production artisan wines generally made by winemakers who don’t own vineyard land themselves but who buy grapes from growers and make custom wines in small crushing/fermenting facilities.  Some of the first such facilities in Bordeaux, France were actually in garages, which is what coined the term.  RedHeads is home to a number of such custom winemakers, who are often responsible for creating modern, edgy wines. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2006 Brundlmayer Langenloiser Berg-Vogelsang Gruner Veltliner

11 04 2011

GruVee name, groovy wine.

Time for a departure here on PnP:  a white wine that isn’t a Riesling.  Don’t adjust your set, because we haven’t gone that far afield from Germany, Riesling’s ancestral home; we’ve just moved slightly southeast into Austria to look at a prime example of that country’s national grape, Gruner Veltliner.  If you’ve never heard of this varietal before, take note:  not only does it have the coolest grape name in the entire world (“Gruner Veltliner” sounds like a luxury airline) with the best nickname (GruVee — no, I didn’t make that up), but it also has a wild and wacky flavour profile that will leave you (and tonight left me) scrambling for adjectives trying to define it.  It makes tremendously interesting and unique wine that isn’t as delicate as some whites and that drinks well alone or with food, and it’s my suggestion if you’re looking to colour a little out of the lines of the Cabernet/Chardonnay book.  Since Austria isn’t as well-established a wine region as France, Italy, Spain, etc., you can find some great, complex Gruners at excellent prices, like this one, a single-vineyard GV from arguably the best producer of the grape in the country, which I got at Highlander in Marda Loop for under $30. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2006 Domaine Les Pallieres Gigondas

10 04 2011

All the CNDP quality, half the price.

There hasn’t been a lot of French wine so far on PnP, not because I’m not a fan, but because I haven’t had a lot of it lately.  But tonight that all changes with authority, as this Gigondas put on quite a show at Sunday night dinner.  Gigondas is a wine region that’s a good bet for killer value wines:  it’s located in the Southern Rhone in the southeast corner of France, very near the much more famous Chateauneuf-de-Pape, and it makes wines that closely resemble those of its more exclusive neighbour.  It has a very similar climate (warm and Mediterranean) as CNDP and uses very similar grapes in its wines (in its reds, predominantly Grenache  with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault the main others in the blend) as CNDP, but since it’s not called “Chateauneuf-de-Pape”, its wines (many of which rival CNDP in quality) are much, much cheaper.  Once you stop paying for the region name on the label, more of your buying dollar goes to pay for the quality of the wine itself.  Case in point:  this Gigondas was only slightly more expensive than this horrible train wreck of a CDNP, but was about a zillion times better made. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: Habla No. 4 (2006)

3 04 2011

The future in a bottle.

I promised to open something worthwhile tonight, so here goes.  I got this bottle of Habla No. 4 for Christmas in 2009 (thanks Josh!) and have been patiently waiting to open it on a special occasion — well, 72 hours without a PnP wine review sounds like occasion enough to me!  Habla’s wines are exclusively carried in Calgary by Kensington Wine Market, and this one retails for around $75 CDN…WAY out of my usual price range, but that’s what Christmas is for, right?  All of Habla’s wines, including the No. 4, come from vineyards located near the town of Trujillo in the Extremadura province of Spain, which is located west and slightly south of Madrid.  If you’re wondering what formal Spanish wine region this falls into, well, it doesn’t:  this area is basically off the grid as far as winemaking goes. Read the rest of this entry »








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