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From popularity to perfection

At the end of last summer Forbes magazine ran an article on popular pandemic wines based on statistics from a home delivery service called Minibar Delivery.

In the top ten, over half were wines that we import: Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc, Whispering Angel rosé and La Marca prosecco were in the first few.

My feeling is that, as most of us have stayed at home, the thought of cheerful bubbles has been necessary and as we add fresh-picked citrus, green apple, honeysuckle, juicy peach and ripe lemon they can bring on a needed smile. So why not pop the cork on a bottle of La Marca prosecco with its light and tantalising hint of sweetness? Canadian critic Natalie Maclean feels this way: “A toasty, crisp, fresh Italian sparkling wine that's both robust and mouth-filling. Aromas of freshly baked bread and green apple. This is a consistently great product of Italian bubbly with a prosecco that's styled to enjoy on its own or with seafood. 89/100.” $24.95 (Stock #6708).

The 2019 Alamos Malbec is amongst this group as it offers layers of dark cherry and blackberry and a velvety mouthfeel. Aromas of violet intertwine with spice and vanilla, while balanced tannins create a velvety mouthfeel and expansive finish. This malbec delivers a complex fine red wine that pairs beautifully with a wide range of cuisine and goes beyond the expected. In fact, for a wine that will only set you back $16.80 it achieves an impressive 91/100 from James Suckling, who writes: “A red with blackberries, wet earth and dark tea leaf. It’s medium-bodied with lightly creamy texture and a long, flavourful finish. A fresh, delicious malbec that won’t disappoint.” Alamos wines are made by the Catena family in Argentina and the fruit for them comes from their youngest vines. (Stock #6157).

I have just had a chat with Allan and Garrett in our store on Harbour Road in Paget and they confirmed that one of the Forbes wines is also very much in demand in their location. It is the four-grape blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and zinfandel that combine to give us 2018 Apothic Red. The dark colour and the way it falls slowly in “legs” on the side of the glass lets us know that it is not what I would call wimpy wine. In fact it shows quite intense black cherry complimented with hints of mocha, chocolate, brown spice and vanilla. Altogether it is quite silky; one reviewer calls it “wickedly smooth”. $22.40 (Stock #8684).

We have recently received some amazing reds from California including 2019 Austin Hope Paso Robles cabernet sauvignon, 2017 Pine Ridge Napa cabernet sauvignon and 2018 Mount Veeder cabernet sauvignon but I will wrap this up with two others that are examples of perfection.

The 2016 Beringer Private Reserve Napa cabernet sauvignon is rich, full-bodied and deeply rewarding as this vintage expression is one for the ages (and ageing). Notes of crème de cassis, black and blue fruits and baking spices frame flavours of ripe plum, dark cherry and chocolate in a muscular yet exceedingly well balanced and elegant wine. The blend is 97 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 2 per cent cabernet franc and 1 per cent petit verdot.

For James Suckling this Beringer wine misses total perfection by 1 per cent as he awards it 99/100. Here is how he describes it: “Breathtaking. Exceptional integration of super ripe blackberries and the very finest oak. The tannins build up beautifully, forming wave upon wave as the wine flows across the palate. Then the wave breaks on your palate and shoots way out at the finish, so that you wonder where it will end and normal life begin again. Needs time to soften, but this is so, so good. Give it two or three years.” $198 (Stock #6311).

I will quote from three perfect scores that a wine has already secured. As I tell you about 2016 Shafer Hillside Select cabernet sauvignon from this hallowed vineyard, nestled below the two rock precipices that the legendary stag leapt across in the heart of Napa Valley, two thoughts come to mind: standing there with John Shafer as he explained his dream, and later welcoming him and his wife Barbara into our home. When will we open the bottle of 1996 that they gave to us in Bermuda?

Here are the reviews.

Jeb Dunnuck gives 100 points and writes: “Pure perfection, the prodigious 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select reveals an even deeper purple/blue hue as well as extraordinary notes of unsmoked tobacco, crushed rocks, graphite, crème de cassis, and blueberries. With a massive, full-bodied profile and a texture that builds incrementally on the palate, it has a stacked mid-palate, ultrafine (yet lots of them) tannins, flawless balance, and a monster of a finish. It should age at a glacier pace.”

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate also gives 100 points. “Very deep, vibrant purple-black coloured, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select strides confidently out of the glass with expressive notions of blueberry preserves, Black Forest cake, cassis and cedar chest with touches of pencil lead, licorice, violets and sandalwood plus an exotic waft of Indian spices. The rich, densely packed, full-bodied palate is at once thrillingly hedonic and perfectly poised, featuring a rock-solid frame of firm, exquisitely ripe tannins and tons of freshness, finishing epically long and with stunning opulence. Bravo!”

Finally from Vinous, who also gives 100 points: “The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is a wine of extraordinary beauty. The purity of the flavours is simply striking, but what really stands out is the wine's mind-blowing balance and total sense of harmony. An exotic mélange of inky blue/purplish fruit, spice, new leather, lavender and licorice build as this sumptuous, dazzling cabernet sauvignon shows off its alluring personality. In a word: magnificent.” $350 (Stock #6807).

I have a suggestion. Five of you contribute $70 each and, as you celebrate friendship, enjoy a glass of this absolute pinnacle of vinous perfection. I promise that you will always remember the moment as every layer, every aroma, every bouquet and faultless balance will remain in your memory banks always. I know, as I have many tucked away.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

Michael Robinson recommends Beringer’s 2016 Private Reserve cabernet sauvignon

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Published March 19, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated March 17, 2021 at 1:56 pm)

From popularity to perfection

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