Category: Wine Reviews



Here’s a wine I brought into the old shop a decade ago ago because I felt we needed a Malbec at an over $25/under $50 price-point on the shelf when Argentine Malbec was just hitting big in the U. S.. I certainly liked enough to bring in a couple six-packs back then, but what of it now?


50% Malbec/50% Cabernet Sauvignon

Appearance: deep ruby welling into black, grainy sediment in solution after a decanting and an hour-plus

Aroma: blackberry liqueur, a tinge of lime leaf, and leather

Palate: black currant, licorice, dark chocolate—all brooding, and dry

Finish: mouth-watering dryness and velvety leather-tinged tannins


This started badly—cork was engorged and broke apart. Filtered and decanted and everything was reassured.

Ultimately, a dark and mysterious beauty. Takes some patience to reveal itself, but, really, quite engaging when it does. A great winter warmer that would be ideal with grilled steaks or an earthy mushroom dish.



Haven’t opened a cellar wine in a while and simply felt the urge this evening. Went into this one with reasonably high expectations given how remarkably well Montiverde’s 1998 Vigneto Cipressone Chinati Classico showed a few months back.

Appearance: black-cored brick with terra cotta edges

Aroma: faint black cherry, tomato leaf, anise, and saddle leather

Palate: opens fruit-light and dominated by incredibly lively acidity, baking spices and leather. But, after an hour-plus, evolves into light black cherry liqueur; and overt tanginess

Finish: clove/leather sueded tannins

Certainly still alive and not over-the-hill, but a bit off-balance. Acid shows plenty of life but overwhelms the understated fruit. Overall, pleasant but a good bit of fruit shy of a success. Paired well with lentil loaf.


Gold juice.

My goal was to dress up a meal of diner-style open-faced roast turkey breast sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy. That’s easy. Pairing is trickier than it seems because you want to avoid overt fruitiness and neutralize the saltiness of the dish while provding enough body richness to stand up to the full, earthy flavors. Fair roll of the dice, here.

  • Aroma: deep golden hay
  • Nose: beeswax, Bosc pear, lemon, delicate apricot
  • Taste: muted apricot and lemon pulp coated with (not-sweet) honey essence
  • Mouthfeel: viscous with a bit of mineral prickle cutting through a delicate waxiness
This is a classic Saint-Péray blend of of 50% Marsanne/50% Roussanne and all the requisite flavors and textures are here. On it’s own, many consumers might find this a bit too subtle fruit-wise and that is Marsanne doing its thing, providing the prevalent beeswax muting Roussanne’s fruity components. Paired against some salty food, though, the fruit pops beautifully while the wine retains its richness.
This is a lovely wine made from underrecognized varieties from an uner-the-radar Rhône region. Can be found in Maryland for $25-$30.

2015 Los Dos Rosado


Well, that went quickly.

 

After a week of menu planning, I knew I wanted a Spanish (or Argentine) rosé to go with my gazpacho and avocado grilled cheese sandwiches. Linda went to the local shop with a short list and the store employee suggested this. I was indifferent toward it after a few “meh” vintages. This turned out to be the best value choice in the store.

 

2015 Los Dos Rosado (85% Garnacha/15% Cabernet Sauvignon) Campo de Borja 13.5%

A: shimmery peach skin pink with slight blue cast

N: straight-up ripe strawberry juice

T: soft, creamy strawberry and raspberry with gorgeous tangerine and strawberry acidity 

F: bright, refreshing acidity and faint anise-tinged tannins 

 

This is the absolute best choice for our dinner. Easily the best Los Dos (red or rosé) I have ever had. Juicy, but thirt-quenching. Enough fruit to work against the acidity of gazpacho as well as more than enough crisp acidity to blast off of the creamy avocado grilled cheese on brioche. Just right, baby bear!


 

2012 Fattorie Melini Terrarosa Chianti Classico

It’s not exactly big Chianti season, but it’s what I was in the mood for, so there you have it.

Sangiovese and Merlot from vineyards in the Sienese region of Chianti Classio.

2012 Fattorie Melini Terrarossa Chianti Classico DOCG 13.5%

A: Medium black-cored ruby no signs of oxidation

N: rich, plummy/black cherry, slight vanilla, dried violets

T: full and soft, plum and cherry front- to mid-palate

F: fairly soft tannins, licorice, mint, subtle dried violets

 

It’s Chianti, all right, but nothing special. 

Super-easy-drinking but there is little here to excite to sustain interest. What makes the best mid-priced Chianti exciting is overt secondary characteristics. Those are here—suppressed and obscured by a new-world ripe, plummy fruit—but not present enough to keep me interested. Don’t get me wrong, this is plenty tasty. For $20 I want more depth and engaging character.

 


Isn’t she lovely?

 

Perennially one of my favorite rosé producers of recent years, Château Gaillard is a wonderful small biodynamic wine producer from Touraine focusing entirely on Sauvignon Blanc and Gamay Noir. This “gris” is actually made exclusively of Gamay Noir.

Appearance: copper-cored salmon

Aroma: fairly closed watermelon, fresh-cut grass, tarragon

Palate: watermelon rind, strawberry, delicate nondescript floral herbaceousness

Mouthfeel: creamy/silky with cut of acid throughout 

Finish: a bit of heat showing through a surprising touch of chalky tannins on the long, generously fruity finish

I’d normally prefer something a bit more crisp and refreshing on a hot summer day, but this is quite nice. It lacks the intensity of prior vintages but the complexity makes up for the softness.

 


Infinito? Sadly, finito.

 

My wife, Linda, made sure to stop off for two rosés on the way home after closing her shop this evening. We always crave rosé in the summertime and try to sate that craving every chance we get. With a dinner of locally farmed veggies in a slightly spicy Moroccan Ras el Hanout/coconut milk sauce, crisp but fruitful rosés fit the bill.

After a nearly two case binge on 2014 Zeni Bardolino Chiaretto last summer (last-year’s favorite), I thought that her purchase of this Santi Infinito, also a Bardolino Chiaretto, was a conscious decision, but it was simply a happy accident. This presents an opportunity to compare producers and vintages. 

Similar color and visually evident body-weight indicate, perhaps, a similar handling. Those attributes, sadly, are where the similarities end.

Wow! This is a different beast, entirely. The brightness and vibrancy of last-year’s Zeni is nowhere to be found here. Nor is the amazing tangy fruit length. Admittedly, last-year’s Zeni was an incredible outlier of the region’s production, so any comparison is unfair. It has been years since I have tasted the Santi rosé, so I have little basis beyond tasting prior vintages for understanding whether this is a function of vintage, yield, or winemaking choice—though, my suspicion is a combination of all with a heavy lean toward the latter. 

  • Appearance: pale, shimmery beet juice/peach skin pink
  • Aroma: subtle mineral-tinged strawberry 
  • Palate: big shot of up-front acidity that masks shallow peach and strawberry fruit which all drops off the palate almost instantaneously 
  • Mouthfeel: creamy richness that supresses the acidity and gives the impression that rich fruit is to follow…but it just isn’t there
  • Finish: non-existent 
Oh, well. Not a bad wine, but a wine wherein the most interesting thing is the front label’s curious use of an accent grave in (an also curious use of the quasi-French) “rosè”.

Tastelessness


This is about as good as it gets right now.

This is about as good as it gets right now.


I taste things for a living. I currently have a cold (or some such malady). All I can taste is wooly grey with a hint of slightly darker grey upon it. Makes me want to watch “El Camino del Vino” so I don’t feel alone.

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