Our Wine Of The Year Is......
The time has come for the big unveiling, PJ Wine’s 2021 Wine Of The Year is…. Black Slate Escaladei Vi de la Vila Priorat 2018. This was the clear winner tallying the highest scores from our tasting panel. When we revealed the wines from their brown bags we were pleasantly surprised to see our old friend the Black Slate.
Black Slate is the idea of famed wine importer Eric Solomon. He went to several of the top Priorat producers and asked them to make him a wine, a value that over delivers. We have sold other Black Slate labels in the past, I am sure many of you are familiar. This wine is vinified by Jordi Vidal of Conreria d’Scala Dei.
Black Slate Escaladei is a blend of organically grown Garnatxa with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and/or Carinyena sourced from the foothills of the Montsant mountains. It stands out among its Black Slate siblings as the most elegant of the lineup, inclined more towards red fruit than black, with a high-toned minerality and spiciness. The wine spent 18 months in French oak foudres (50HL) and 500L French oak demi-muids.
This Priorat is an absolute crowd pleaser. One of our tasters commented , “Who’s not going to like this?” I couldn’t agree more, this is stellar!
#1 Black Slate Escaladei Vi de la Vila Priorat 2018
Shelf Price $25.99
Sale Price $21.97
92 pts Vinous
Deep, shimmering violet. Lively dark berry, potpourri and licorice aromas are complemented by smoky mineral and exotic spice flourishes. Juicy and lively on the palate, offering pliant black raspberry, bitter cherry and violet pastille flavors that deepen and become sweeter with air. Finishes very long and spicy, with solid mineral thrust and polished, slow-building tannins that sneak in late.
Wine Of The Year - Second Place!!!
Cascina Preziosa Coste della Sesia Spanna 2018 is an exquisite expression of Nebbiolo from Alto Piedmont. Spanna is another name for Nebbiolo used in the Alto Piedmont area. This elegant complex wine has so much to offer even in its youth. Nebbiolo can be a bit rough when young, especially in the Barolo region, but this is a cool climate. This wine is pretty, not rough, and although the tannins are youthful, they’re still pleasant and enjoyable.
The small family estate of Cascina Preziosa cultivates vines on its three hectares of land. The ssoil is rich in marine sand, which are perfect for growing Nebbiolo, Vespolina and Barbera. The cultivation takes place through natural methods without the use of herbicides and chemical agents (organic).
We were blown away by how good this is. You could smack a Barolo label on this and charge twice the price without anyone complaining. This is definitely a wine to stock up on and see it evolve over time, I know I am!
Fun note, vines have been grown on the Cascina Preziosa property since the 1700s!
Cascina Preziosa Coste della Sesia Spanna 2018
Shelf Price $28.99
Sale Price $24.97
85% Nebbiolo and 15% Barbera make up this traditional blend. The color of the wine is ruby with hints of garnet. The bouquet is quite expressive displaying a unique eucalyptus note. The body is complex, refined and dominated by fresh red fruits. Delicate notes of wild berry preserves, balsamic, and violets. A terroir driven backbone has hints of forest floor and baking spices. Balanced bright acidity and savory tannins suggest great aging potential. Long, complex finish.
Spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts for approximately 22 days in open stainless-steel tanks, followed by continued maceration in closed tanks on the skins for 7-15 days depending on vintage. Racked off the fine lees in mid-December. Aged for twelve months in large 1,500-liter, medium-toast, oval oak barrels followed by 6 months in bottle.
Wine of the Year - Third Place
For the first time in doing our Wine Of The Year tasting we have a tie for third place. Two wines received similar scores from our tasting panel, even though they were complete opposites. We unveiled the wines and went back to taste them, but we just couldn't put one over the other. They were just too darn good!
The first third place finisher is Clos Fornelli Corse La Robe d'Ange Sciaccarellu Rouge 2020 from the island of Corsica. This medium-bodied red is bursting with personality! The bouquet caught our attention instantly displaying a floral quality that was enchanting. This is a fruit forward Mediterranean red with very bright acidity. It is very red fruit dominant, dark cherries and strawberries galore, with a slight peppery characteristic that makes this extremely food friendly. Picture an “island Cru Beaujolais.” FYI - this is absolutely perfect for Thanksgiving dinner!
The second third place finisher is Chateau Belregard Figeac Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2017. This is as classic as they come for Bordeaux. No ripe fruit and polished edges here, just garrigue and terroir. Darker fruit intertwined with raspberry here with lovely cedar and saddle leather notes. The wine is full on the palate with youthful chewy tannins. This Grand Cru Saint Emilion is ridiculously structured with layer upon layer being revealed as the bottle opens up. There is so much complexity to appease a wine collector as well as the novice alike. I can’t wait to see how this wine will evolve over the years to come!
Enjoy, we did!
Clos Fornelli Corse La Robe d'Ange Sciaccarellu Rouge 2020
Shelf Price $23.99
Sale Price $19.97
Pale brilliant orange. Mineral-accented red berry, pit fruit and citrus fruit aromas, along with subtle floral and herb flourishes. Juicy and seamless on the palate, offering sharply delineated blood orange and raspberry flavors that deepen on the back half. The mineral quality comes back on the finish, adding nervy cut to lingering red fruit and fennel notes. Drink 2019-2022. (91 points Vinous)
From vines near the eastern coast of Corsica, below the massif of Castagniccia. The proximity of the sea protects the vineyard from excessive drought, while the neighboring mountains (which reach a height of more than 2500 metres) generate cool air at night that refreshes the grapes and allows them to recover from the stress of the daytime heat.
Their winemaking philosophy is straightforward and lends itself to a style that speaks of the place with a clear voice of each grape’s primary characteristics, with little intervention. The fermentations are all natural and the wines are bottled after a short time in vat with sulfites kept to a minimum; it’s easy to feel this deft touch through these wines bursting with pleasure; even her Sciacarello, a thin framed, fresh and aromatic red (often over-sculpted in other cellars) is a darling here with no uncertainty in its naturally sensual aromas.
Chateau Belregard Figeac Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2017
Shelf Price $36.99
Sale Price $29.97
Organic. The composition is 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is marked by a vibrant ruby/garnet color married to a richly spicy nose with hints of tobacco and coffee in the background; the flavors are dominated by red currant, cassis, and raspberry; the texture is silky and the wine is smooth and generous on the palate; the subtle tannins have grip but are graceful making this wine particularly welcoming over the near term.
The Pueyos follow traditional vinification techniques. After a 3 day cold maceration, fermentation takes place in both cement tanks and stainless steel tanks. Either way, temperatures are closely monitored so the fermentation proceeds at a controlled pace with maximum temperatures reaching 28 degrees Celsius. The “cuvaison” (fermentation + maceration) usually lasts between 15 and 20 days. Closely monitoring the temperature during fermentation helps avoid extracting the harsher, more bitter tannins that can appear if the temperature gets too high. Half of the wine is aged in barrels for 18 months following fermentation. Only 25% new barrels and 25% one-year-old barrels are used each year, to avoid overwhelming the fruit. The second part of the cuvée is aged in cement tanks. The two parts of the wine are ultimately blended, then fined with egg whites before bottling.