A Couple of Special Wines for a Small Group of Friends
By Kerry Winslow
Sometimes it is difficult to chose a few wines to bring to an informal occasion to not impress or show up anyone else, but still wanting to provide a unique experience. I was faced with this dilemma last night, and with endless choices I came up with two gems from worlds apart, the Suertes del Marques, La Solana Vino de Parcela from the Canary Islands, and Chad Melville’s Samsara Grenache Larner Vineyard, these are very different reds, but both are super fun and tasty wines, both were 2010’s and they are both under $35 each normally on the shelf. I highly recommend both, these are stylish and thoroughly entertaining wines. I brought these two and opened them back to back, and both proved big hits with people totally unfamiliar with these labels. The Canary Island red with it’s exotic spice and earthy tones marveled the crowd and the Samsara with it’s juicy succulent character charmed everyone, needless to say both were drained with gusto within minutes, I was happy to have created interest in both labels and did so without guile or without pretense, these wines causally seduce from the very first sip!
2010 Suertes del Marques, La Solana Vino de Parcela, Tenirife Valle de la Orotava DO, Canary Islands Red, Spain. (100% Old Vine Listan Negro)
One of the most exotic and rare wines of the Canaries, the La Solana by Suertes del Marques is a masterpiece of the unique and a marvel of vigor and focus with fruit, spice, umami, mineral and textural pleasure. I adore these wines from the Canary Islands, especially the Suertes del Marques set of 7 Fuentes and this beautiful La Solana. The La Solana is racy and profound with a bouquet of dried flowers, porcini and pepper with mixed berry fruit that leads to a lively palate of spiced plum, raspberry, kirsch and currant with cayenne, grilled fennel and saline notes while warm stones, chalk and silky tannin mix in perfect harmony. This wild and natural wine is utterly seductive and has a wonderful sweet vs savory tension that heightens the pleasure factor and leaves you begging for more. This is a thought provoking and beguiling red, made from the native Listan Nergo grape, that will challenge you and keep your attention for a long time. I hope to visit the Canary Islands one day, this exotic Spanish locale is a remote island chain off the coast of Africa and home to some of the most interesting vineyards and wines from incredible volcanic soils and dramatic conditions, I’m beguiled and drawn to this place. (again getting 94/100 from me on April 26, 2014)
2010 Samsara, Grenache, Larner Vineyard, Santa Barbara County.
The Larner Vineyard is in the new Ballard Canyon AVA, in Santa Barbara County in the Santa Ynez area and home to a fine Grenache and Syrah site, which Chad Melville uses to great effect in his Samsara label, and the 2010 vintage is a stunner. I really love what Melville is doing with all his Samsara wines, and anyone heading to the Santa Barbara wine country can find the new Samsara Tasting room in downtown Los Olivos, I can’t wait to visit, it is a must stop destination on the way to SB, be sure to check it out soon. The Samsara Pinots are fabulous too, and it is worth noted the basic Sta. Rita Hills 2012 is a steal and still readily available. While the 2010 Samsara Grenache might be a hard find, it is certainly worth searching out, there must be a few cases out there left, but not for long I’m sure, this is super sexy and tasty stuff with delicious Grenache charm and detailed layers. This juicy red mixes sweet and savory notes and spicy elements perfectly with tangy pomegranate, strawberry, boysenberry, plum and framboise along with pepper, licorice and chalky mineral notes. This is a stylish Grenache with flavors the remind you of Gigondas but still is all Californian in feel, if you want to surprise your Rhone geek friends beside to find some of this intriguing wine, it will impress no question, I did and I’m happy with the results, drink over the next 3 to 5 years. (scored about 92-93/100 on April 26, 2014)
Be sure to try this at home!