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2012 La Universal white winesweet_0intense_3body_3wood_1farm_o
2012 La Universal "Dido" Blanc, Montsant
Priorat, Spain

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Venus La Universal is a new project from the dynamic couple of Sara Prez and Ren Barbier (Fils), the children of two great pioneers of Priorat. Sara Prez is the daughter of Josep Lluis Prez of Mas Martinet and Ren is the son of Ren Barbier of Clos Mogador. Sara and Ren are both respected vintners with thriving labels of their own but wanted to do a project together and decided to focus on the quieter D.O. of Montsant. They source fruit from a total of four hectares of organically farmed vineyards owned by four different winegrowing families in Falset and a small plot owned by Venus. Their stated intention for the Venus Universal label is "to interpret femininity through a bottle of wine." That may sound a little silly but you can see what they mean when you taste the wines. We tried both this 2012 Dido Blanco and the 2011 Dido red, both of which are restrained and well balanced with comparatively low alcohol levels for Priorat. This Blanco is a blend of 45% Macabeo, 50% Garnacha Blanca and 5% Xarel.lo, or Pansal, as it's referred to in Priorat. The Garnacha comes from three different vineyard sites which range between 25 and 70 years old and the Macabeo and Xarel.lo vines are 25 years old. 30% of the wine was aged in large clay Amphora and 30% in large oak casks. It is a wonderfully balanced blend with plenty of flavor and character.

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2013 Manincor Rose, Alto Adige, Italy Thumbnail pink wine sweet_0 intense_4 body_3 wood_0
2013 La Rose de Manincor, Vigneti delle Dolomiti Rosato IGT,
Alto Adige, Italy

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Winegrowing at Manincor (the name comes from Latin for Hand and Heart) goes back 400 years and today the entire estate is certified biodynamic. The descendants at the helm now are the Austrian Count Michael Goss-Enzenberg and family. Those of you who recall your history lessons know that the Tyrolean alps were part of the Austro-Hungarian empire prior to WW1, and the Austrian Enzenbergs have been a prominent family in the region for over 800 years. The property not only grows grapes; it also includes many varieties of heirloom apples, gardens for homeopathic remedies, and extensive oak forest where wood for the winery's barrels is harvested. This ros is a blend of 40% Lagrein, 40% Merlot, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is totally dry but not austere, shows lively red berry aromatics and flavors, and when enjoyed over a meal with Michael last week continued to gain in complexity as it warmed over the course of the evening. Lagrein is indigenous to the Tyrolean wine valleys, but modern DNA research has revealed a complex lineage. It is a natural cross between Teroldego and an as yet unidentified other variety. It is a sibling of the local Marzemino, a nephew/niece of Dureza (a parent of Syrah), a grandchild of Pinot Noir, and a cousin of Syrah. Got that?? If so, you have a better memory than me! - Peter Granoff

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