By The Glass
Wines of 2005 are showing a universal sense of quality
IS 2005 the next universal vintage? I'm not talking about a vintage from Mars, the now-downgraded Pluto or planet CX-571. A "universal" vintage means one that is great all around the world. Earth. Apparently global warming has been a good thing for wine.
It seems like every vintage is the next "vintage of the century," but 2005 may very well live up to the hype. I can tell you that after tasting barrel samples of French, German, Spanish and California wine. Australia, by all reports, also did well in 2005, and the year is a "declared" vintage in Portugal, which usually means a good one. So 2005 may be the first universal vintage since 1990.
The great thing is that a rising tide lifts all boats. Not only did the expensive trophy and collector wines do well, but you'll be able to find a ton of inexpensive 2005 wines that are of good quality and interesting.
Some of these are starting to become available, and more will be released over the next few years.
Last year I tasted 2004 samples from Manzanita Canyon, Calif., and didn't think they were worth the money. This year when I tasted the 2005 versions, I was impressed. Part of it was better blending of the wines, but a lot of it had to do with Mother Nature blessing the vintage.
On my last trip to Bordeaux, I was amazed at how many interesting wines were available in the 5 to 10 euro range, $10 to $20 on a retail shelf here. I had more fun discovering quality, unrecognized and inexpensive Bordeaux than tasting $700-plus bottles of first growths such as Mouton Rothschild.
The same is true with wines from Spain. Spain has been producing some of the best values in all the wine world and with the 2005 vintage, all those good values just turned into ridiculously outstanding values.
HERE are a few of the fabulous values from the universal vintage of 2005 available now:
2005 Manzanita Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon ($8.99): Primarily from Paso Robles, Calif., this wine has rich ruby color, rich aromas of juicy cherry and blackberry and a soft, lush texture.
2005 Manzanita Canyon Merlot ($8.99): A big-scale merlot with plenty of baked cherry and plum fruit. A very dense, dark wine, characterized by its rich cherry and bittersweet chocolate qualities.
2005 Manzanita Chardonnay ($8.99): An easy-going wine that will disappear before you know it. Pear, peach and sweet citrus merge with notes of tropical fruit and a gentle overlay of creamy oak. Lush and approachable.
2005 Nekeas Vega Sindoa Viura Chardonnay ($7.50): A clean and refreshing white with floral and tropical fruit qualities. Not heavy, but not a pushover, either. Just a lovely white wine.
2005 Naia Las Brisas ($9.99): A good mingling of citrus fruit such as grapefruit, lime, lemon and orange. A fruity wine that is crisp and enjoyable.
Jay Kam is president of Vintage Wine Cellar. This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org