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Weekly Wine Review

Greg Marshall, Of the Record staff

I don’t know about you but I am getting really fed up with all of these overripe and ultra-concentrated red wines.

It is not that I don’t like the style, it is just that I like other styles of red wine as well and it seems that they are become increasingly hard to find.

It seemed that these monstrous wines were once primarily from New World regions such as Napa Valley or Australia’s Barossa Valley where the availability of sunlight was abundant and the ripening seasons are long.

It seems, however, that this trend has reached the Old World as well and wines that I have long expected to carry a lighter more elegant style have beefed up in favor of the bombastic and highly alcoholic style that seems to earn so many points from the countries most influential wine critics. Hey, who can blame them? Everybody has got to make a buck and the majority of the big wine critics seem to give higher rating to the bigger and badder wines.

Before I get into my favorite lighter body wines allow me to explain what I perceive as the defining qualities of the style.

Just because a wine has lighter body and less alcohol doesn’t mean that it would have any less flavor or intensity. These wines will often have more acid making them excellent and versatile food wines. To get the most out of these wines one really needs to take some extra time and care to pay attention to it and I think best express their quality and nuance on the finish.

I have found that many of my favorite wines that fill that lighter style profile come from cooler climate regions. This of course makes a lot of logical sense as potential alcohol level is directly related to sunlight. This is why I have a general tendency to lean toward the Willamette Valley in Oregon when I in the mood for New World Pinot Noir.

The climate in the Willamette is quite close to that of France’s Burgundy region, which is the world’s oldest and finest Pinot Noir producing region. One of the great pioneers of the region is David Lett and his winery Eyrie Vineyards have been making stunning Pinots for almost 40 years now! The ’05 is available in Utah for $26 and is a pretty great buy at that.

I think that the largest concentration of this style of wine comes from Europe in places that often practice an older style of viticulture and vinification. The older style of wines from the Rioja region can be spectacular examples of the style. The best of the older style are packed with leather, tobacco, and clove spice but somehow feel fresh and lighter in the palate. The ’95 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva is about as classic styled as it gets and if you are willing spend $50 for a bottle you are indeed in for a treat.

Zev Rovine is the former wine sommelier for The Spotted Frog Bookstore and Winebar. He now lives in New York City.


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