Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Report from ... Andeluna Cellars Tasting - July 29, 2009

It’s always exciting when a new wine comes to town – especially one you can buy – and I mean actually buy, not just because it’s available, but because it’s priced to purchase.

Andeluna (moon over the mountain – Andes) was started up by a Texas good old boy named H. Ward Lay. If that last name sounds a trifle interesting or seems to jog the memory a bit it’s because his father was Herman W. Lay – founder of … you guessed it, Frito-Lay … and it’s pretty fitting too because after trying these wines all I kept saying to myself was, ‘can’t buy just one’. Ward made his money as a Pepsi bottler in Mexico, in fact he owned the Mexican market until head office stepped in and bought him out. He then traveled to Argentina where he was convinced to buy property, and start a winery with the vision of making wines of world-class quality and value (a company vision and philosophy maintained to this day – as you will see in the pricing). The first vintage was in 2003 and the original idea was to sell wine in the United States … but they soon learned that the U.S. wasn’t the only market interested in these wines; nor can you survive as a wine company selling to only one country, so they went to places like the Netherlands (big for them) and other European markets, the Orient and now they are coming to shore here in Canada.

Enough background, time to talk turkey about the wines themselves. Today, we tried 8 wines from the entry level tier to the reserve and grand reserve line up … keeping my eye on value for price I would say these guys have stuck to the marketing plan, as many of these wines offered excellent value to the consumer; in fact 6 of the 8 received more than 4-stars on my grading scale, here are my top three picks:

2005 Chardonnay Reserve ($24.00 – private order, Stem Wine Group) …
A nose of vanilla and pineapple really drew me into the glass. Only 60% of this wine has gone through malolactic – which means it retains quite a bit of acidity; the palate delivers buttery vanilla notes, a creamy mouth feel, hints of butterscotch and enough fruit to keep you coming back to the glass for another sip. (****½)

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon ($16.00 – consignment, Stem Wine Group) …
Aged 7 months in a combination of French and American oak, then bottle aged an additional 6 months before release. Red and black berries with sweet herbs on the nose; palate loaded with sweet fruit, blackberries and spice. Value of this wine merits and extra half star. (****½)

2007 Malbec ($16.00 – consignment, Stem Wine Group) …
Aged 7 months in French and American oak, then 5 months in bottle. The ’06 version of this wine garnered 90-points and thankfully, even with that kind of rating, the ’07 has not seen it’s price rise into the stratosphere. Nose is sweet raspberries, red licorice and luscious red fruit – palate retains the bitingness of the raspberries with chocolate, blackberry and a slight bit of pine on the finish – very smooth on the palate. 350 cases currently in Ontario and an absolute steal of a price, which is why I give it 4-and-a-half stars. (****½)

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