Wine Musings – Week of 3-22-18

If you were among the lucky few who got in early last Saturday and gobbled up a couple bottles of the Moroder “Elleno” Malvasia from the tasting, we’ve got another one you’re going to want to try. The Benvenuti Malvazija 2016 from Istria, Croatia is dry and crisp with considerable body and complexity. Apples, herbs and minerality with a touch of salinity make for a wine that is refreshing by itself or with fish, antipasta or salads. I haven’t had a chance to try the pairing yet, but I’m thinking this would be excellent with the crumbly cheeses of Northeast Italy.

While we’re on the subject of Croatia, the Stina Cuvee Red 2016 from the Dalmatian Coast was a real crowd pleaser. It’s a blend of local grape Plavac Mali (a cross between Crljenak Kaštelanski [ancestral Zinfandel] and Dobričić), along with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It delivers the whole bowl of fruit – dark berries, plums, cassis, as well as a pleasant hint of pepper.

O.K., let’s do one more Mediterranean wine before we switch hemispheres. The Castellucci Miano Catarratto 2016 ($22.99) from Sicily, Italy is fermented in stainless steel and sees no oak, to maintain the freshness of the wine; additionally it sees no malolactic fermentation to keep those butter and cream notes out of the way of the lively citrus and apple fruit. Speaking of lively, the Catarratto grape produces natural bubbles that survive the bottling (Catarratto translates as Waterfall) and can be detected when swirling; no carbonation was added to the wine. Whip up some Insalata di Mare (seafood salad) to go with this one, or just wait for that first really warm afternoon on the patio.

Hopping across the big pond, and across the great divide to Oregon, we find J Christopher’s 2013 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley (reg. $31.99, Sale $26.99, 90pts WE). This is fairly lush in fruit for Willamette, but still shows good earth and enough acidity for balance. The cherry fruit is accentuated by some cool baking spice notes. This is right in the pocket for maturity/prime drinking. Soft and round enough for sipping all on its own, but I’m thinking this with some sort of bird would be awesome.