While our primary attention must always be on what’s in the bottle, it is interesting at times to focus on where the wine is made. Throughout the centuries, we have seen a variety of styles and shifting of purposes.
Bordeaux, for example, built great châteaux where the owners lived at least part of the year with plenty of room to grow grapes and a simple chai to make wine before it was shipped off to the in-town negociants to elevate and bottle it. Meanwhile, the smaller-scale Burgundians owned a few vines, picked the grapes, then carted them back to the villages where they were made into wine in a dark, cramped underground cellar.
In modern times, almost no winegrower lives in the same building where the wine is made. However, modern wineries have increasingly become commercial centers, with the winery, consumer tasting facilities, and administrative offices all occupying the same super-modern structure. Many are built by specialist architects who either build castle-like structures (look at me!) or elaborate and elegant facilities that are partially sited underground (don’t look at me), often for environmental purposes and to blend into the landscape.
Recently, while tasting a modest vertical of wines from Beronia, a stalwart of Rioja, I was impressed by the wine and figuratively blown away by a photo of the new winery, which accompanies this piece. To learn more about the winery, go to https://www.beronia.com/en/sustainable-winery.
2019 Château la Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Papa Blanc ($58). Lovely tropical and spiced apple fruit – full-bodied, well-rounded with a long finish
2020 Kind of Wild Pays d’Herault Syrah-Grenache Rosé ($24). Lively, well-balanced with crisp orange flavors and a hint of creaminess.
NV Mascota “Unanime” Argentina Brut ($26). Good bubbles, acidity, and metallic minerality to balance the yellow apple and slightly gamey flavors.
NV Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne ($95). A crisp yet flavorful richness that blends light cherry fruitiness with great minerality.
2017 Beronia Rioja Reserva ($19). Lean, with dark cherry flavors and Bordeaux-like structure – a bargain at this price.
2019 Tascante “Ghiai Nera” Etna Rosso ($20). A lightly colored quaffing wine with piquant cherry/berry flavors and modest tannins.
2020 Alois Lageder Alto Adiga Schiava ($21). Lightly colored with bright, yellow-cherry fruitiness and a tangy finish.
2017 La Valentina “Spelt” Montepulciano d’Abrusso ($21). Quite satisfying – polished dark cherry flavors with a few savory notes, dusty tannins, and a tart finish.
2015 Craggy Range “Aroha Te Muna” Martinborough Pinot Noir ($55). A big and bold Pinot in terms of volume and cherry flavors, though understandably mild in tannins.
2017 Montes “Purple Angel” Valle de Colchagua Carmenère ($86). Rich and fruity blackberries with notes of dried herbs – a versatile food wine with good volume, structure, and finishing tannins.
NV Graham’s 10 Year Tawny Porto ($35). A lighter-tasting Port and an elegant one with flavors of sugar cane and graham crackers and a touch of savory balance in the finish.
NV Graham’s 20 Year Tawny Porto ($65). Again, elegant, long, and lovely flavors of prunes and plums and a little tanginess.
Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com. As more wineries are now shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.
Feature photo: Courtesy of Beronia