Thursday, September 25, 2014

Beso de Vino Carinena, 2011 (85% Syrah, 15% Grenache)

Proclaiming your Tanzer score (International Wine Cellar) on the neck label is not subtle. But the wine is. And that's probably why Steve Tanzer awarded it 90 points and called it an outrageous value for $8 to $10 a bottle. Probably unoaked, 13.5% alcohol.

Medium ruby. Syrah black fruits dominate over the red berry Grenache at this point. More fruit depth and subtlety than expected for an $8 wine. Plush mouth feel, but flavors are also subtle. I like it better than the Altitude 500 (below) even though I am a lover of Ventoux wines. I don't think Beso de Vino is a wine to age, but count me in on the 90 point rating.

Veglio Barbera d'Alba, 2012

There seem to be an increasing number of $10 to $12 Barberas on the market right now. This is a good example, ready to drink and give pleasure whether you open it tonight or five years from now.

This is not Barolo or Barbaresco, but it has many of the same haunting qualities: dark cherries, roses, dark tones of licorice. I love it. Licorice in front, cherries on the finish. Pleases and teases the palate from front to back. Not very tannic but good acidity for aging...or for current drinking.

Other Barberas in this price range that I have enjoyed include Franco Serra, Michele Chiarlo, Cost di Bussia and Marchesi di Barolo.

Mount Langi Ghiran Mast Rare Reserve Block Victorian Shiraz, 2002

The late Trevor Mast and his wife, Sandra, were no longer the owners of Mount Langi Ghiran when this wine was produced. But Trevor was apparently still involved in the winemaking process, and this beautiful Shiraz has Trevor Mast written all over it--excellent fruit with just enough handling to let the vineyard do its thing.

Deep, dark red violet. Still young but at a good stage for drinking. Lovely nose of red and black cherries, coffee and a hint of black pepper. Pinot-like in its elegance and intensity. Very smooth on the palate. Some of the Syrah herbal element that is more often found in Rhone wines from France. Sweet fruit  but with brisk acidity that keeps it in its place. Slightly chewy tannins, but open and friendly. Sings on the finish.

This Shiraz was imported and sold in the United States several years ago by Jon Rimmerman of I bought my bottles for a good price at auction. Wish I had bought more.

Gaetano d'Aquino Pinot Grigio delle Venezie, 2013

Whenever I visit a Trader Joe's store, I always pick up a bottle or two of this Pinot Grigio. At $3.99, it's one of the least expensive wines in the store--or any other wine outlet. When I open the bottle, I always wonder why I didn't buy a dozen. It is a truly enjoyable Pinot Grigio, particularly in the 2013 vintage.

Very light color. I smell pears, grapefruit, minerals, herbs--fresh and lively. It dances lightly on the tongue but leaves behind substantial flavor interest. Good balance of fruit and acid. And, as always, a pleasantly bitter finish. A wine for enjoying on the deck, with appetizers or with a serious dinner. (Do I dare to open a $3.99 wine?)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Altitude 500 Ventoux, 2011

This is a co-op wine from the Vignerons of Mount Ventoux. I have enjoyed past vintages--2005, 2006, 2007--but this is my first try of the 2011, a pretty good year in the Southern Rhone.

Medium ruby. Spice, red and black fruits, very much in the Ventoux style--fruity but bold. Initially, the aromas do not seem as peppery as past vintages but that changes as the wine airs. Very smooth. Fruit leather flavors. Now some traditional pepper and warmth. A bit high in alcohol (15%) for a Ventoux, but that seems to make the wine all the more attractive, at least at this stage of its development.

Joseph Mellot Destinea, 2012

Joseph Mellot makes very fine Sancerre, but this is his lower priced Sauvignon Blanc, apparently from lesser appellations but still delicious and classy.

Medium yellow. Mellow Sauvignon smells--mint, melon and flowers. Citric acidity but, again, mellow rather than shrill. Very refreshing, makes the tongue tingle. The flavors are surprisingly deep for a wine at this price level. I would be very happy to find this wine on a restaurant wine list.

Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhone, 2001

This 2001 is approaching a lovely stage of maturity. Although only a Cotes du Rhone, it is showing better right now than most of the higher priced Sainte-Anne CDR Villages in my cellar.

Medium deep ruby, some sediment forming on the side of the bottle. Mature smells of red and black fruits, flowers and wild herbs--all nicely integrated as in a mature Chateauneuf or Gigondas. Flavors are more savory than sweet. Age has taken away the glossy sheen that this wine had in its youth. Red berries and spice--very complex flavors. The spice is more what I expect from Mourvedre, even though I believe this Cotes du Rhone is produced from Grenache, Syrah and a small amount of Cinsault. Cool and relatively low in alcohol (13%). Even better on the 2nd and 3rd nights.

Sabrego Valdeorras Godello, 2010

This bottle took a little longer to open up than I expected, but that's a good sign. It's not just getting older; it's also getting better. From northern Spain, a white wine varietal that was neglected for far too long but is now getting some notice.

Medium deep yellow. Not as fragrant as I remember. Minerals, flowers, white peaches. Reticent at first, then gets fuller and fuller. Full range of creamy flavors and a long finish. Godello is good; wish there were more on the market.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Chateau Grand Traverse Old Mission Peninsula Pinot Grigio, 2012

The more Michigan wines I drink, the more impressed I become by the wines from Old Mission Peninsula, that sliver of land that juts out from Traverse City into Lake Michigan. Vineyards on old Mission produce excellent Rieslings but also very good Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.

Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are two names for the same grape, of course, and I would have labeled this one Pinot Gris because of its fuller body. It does, however, have some of the herbal element that characterizes some northern Italian Pinot Grigios. Medium light yellow. Green pears, herbs, flowers. Smells rich, and it is. Plush mouth feel, but also fine mineral and fruit acidity. Easy to drink now, and it should get better after a few years in the bottle.

M Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone, 2009

I'm becoming very particular about the Cotes du Rhones I buy. So many are now made in what I would call an international style, designed to appeal to a broad range of wine consumers. Some have  been produced with use of new oak or barriques; many are overly fruity or alcoholic and lack the spicy, peppery qualities that I love about Cotes du Rhone wines. This Belleruche CDR from Chapoutier meets my expectations. It's 60 percent Grenache, 40 percent Syrah.

Deep, dark ruby./ Plums, blueberries, lavender and a dash of black pepper. Smells tannic, and it's initially somewhat tannic on the palate. Plums and berries, enough acid to maintain balance and fruit presence despite the tannins. Over the course of the meal, the tannins tend to fade, and the wine becomes more and more appealing.

Cameron Hughes Lot 324 Atlas Peak Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2010

This wine has a beautiful bright gold appearance and captivating scents of Spring flowers, white peaches and limey French oak. The aromas are delicate and appealing. On the palate, though, the wine loses some of its prettiness. Lemon-tinged fruit. Firm on mid-palate but nothing that brings me back for more. For my taste, the wine would benefit from more acidity. It may be that the oak is taking over from the fruit at this stage of the wine's maturity.

Atlas Peak is a special appellation in Napa Valley that generally draws a much higher price than the $12 I paid at World Market. Cameron Hughes apparently purchased some juice or ready made wine that either didn't meet the producer's expectations or did not sell as expected.