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Ribera del Duero 2012, Sélection Chartier ($19.95, 12246622)
Made by Bodegas Arrocal to the specifications of the self-styled créateur d’harmonies. 100% Tinta del Païs (aka Tempranillo) from 50- to 70-year-old vines. After strict sorting, the grapes are destemmed and cold-soaked. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts takes place in stainless steel vats. The wine is transferred to 75% French and 25% American oak casks (first, second and third fill in equal proportion) for ten months’ maturation. 14.5% ABV.
(The bottle my glass came from had been open for about four hours.) Fragrant nose of dark fruit, burned earth, tobacco leaf and spice, especially black pepper. In the mouth, it’s a middleweight. Fluid and fruity up front, turning more structured (lively acidity, lithe tannins), darker (shades of minerals, smoke) and drier on its way to a lightly astringent, heady – not hot – finish. Not notably deep or long but clean, tonic and, of course, food friendly. Light years away from the dense, chewy, often heavily oaked reds most wine lovers associate with the appellation, not that I’m complaining. (Buy again? Sure.)

On the bottle’s front label and on his website, Chartier recommends various food pairings for the wine, including some surprising ones like grilled porgy, dark chocolate (80% cocoa or higher) and strawberries. While none of those seems obvious to me, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt; the one time I asked him to recommend a wine pairing for a tricky dish (chicken roasted with Seville oranges and cumin), he came through with flying colours. Still, I’m pretty sure that, while waiting for strawberry season to roll around, you could get away serving this with charcoal-grilled veal or baby lamb chops.

Written by carswell

March 29, 2014 at 22:41

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