Monday, October 29, 2012

2008 Domaine Dublere SAVINGY-LES-BEAUNE "Les Planchots du Nord" (Burgundy, France)

A shockingly light-colored wine, but with real fragrance and flavor.  A very good value Pinot Noir from the largely overpriced Burgundy region.

Very light garnet color -- almost like an old, oak-aged rose would look.  Scents of minerally cherries and fresh-baked honey whole wheat bread.  Lively, medium-light bodied flavors have surprising intensity, tenaciously clinging to the palate with earthy, crisp cherries.  Long, vivacious finish, with good acidity.  It's a unique style of Pinot Noir.  It went very well with whole wheat macaroni with cheese and bacon, and would also do nicely with tomato-less chicken dishes.  B+.  Was about $22 on sale from Flickinger Wines, Chicago.  Imported by Chelsea Ventures, Chicago.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2010 Fattoria Vignavecchia CHIANTI CLASSICO (Tuscany, Italy)

A direct, lively, fruity, balanced, and flavorful entry level Chianti Classico.  A good value wine to stockpile for weekday pasta dinners.

Surprisingly extracted black, black ruby color.  Loads of youthful black cherry fruit and minerals on the nose.  No hint of oak here, just pure fruit and stones.  Decent weight, and a good, linear attack.  A fair amount of tannin, as well as good acids.  This will soften and get more fragrant over the next two years.  B. Was $12.99 from, making it a really good value.  Imported by Superior Wines, Cranford, NJ.

Friday, October 19, 2012

2009 Foris PINOT NOIR (Rogue Valley, Oregon)

A tight, lean, but flavorful PN.  Not as forward and fruity as California versions, but more along the spectrum toward a nice villages wine from the Cote de Beaune.

Dark, clear crystalline ruby.  Very tight at first, the wine reluctantly starts to give up scents of cherry syrup and loads of stony minerals.  Bone dry, with lean but persistent flavors of underbrush, dry cherry extract, and lots and lots of minerals.  Full-bodied, with average acids.  Needs some time in the cellar to soften, but it's still nice now.  B(+). Was about $20 from

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2010 Regis Minet POUILLY-FUME "Vieilles Vignes" (Loire Valley, France)

A slightly grassy, balanced, and refreshing Sauvignon-Blanc.  Not as flinty/minerally as I usually want out of this appellation, but very nice.

Light silvery/gold color.  Grassy herbs and fresh gooseberry fruit dominate the lively nose, with only a hint of minerality.  Bone dry, herbal, straw-inflected lime/gooseberry fruit, with crisp acids for freshness, and a clean but somewhat bitter finish.  Good, but not great.  Would be a really nice counterpoint with sweet grilled shrimp or seared sweet scallops.  B.  Was $18.99 from Imported by Kermit Lynch.

Monday, October 15, 2012

2010 Three Vineyards ZINFANDEL "Live Oak Vineyard" (Contra Costa County, Cal.)

From the last few remaining 125+ yr.-old ungrafted vines in this largely uprooted vineyard, this wine has a plush texture, and an intense concentration of flavor that is out of proportion to its weight (which is not heavy).  Very unique.  And really really good.

Nearly fully-saturated dark ruby violet.  Intense, nearly pungent boysenberry fruit, stony minerals, and bitter herbs leap out of the glass.  Intense, focused fruit immediately coats the mouth, with loads of mixed berry and berry skin flavors, and lots of high-toned minerality.  No discernable oak to obscure this tremendous character of the old vines and unique soil.  Full-bodied, with pretty decent acids.  Very long, pure finish.  Just outstanding to sip on its own, it would also complement a wide variety of dishes and cheeses.  A.  Was $27 from, but obviously worth the  high (for me) price.

2009 Tenuta Vicario AGLIANICO CAMPANIA (Southern Italy)

A big, rustic Aglianico, with a very roasted nose/flavor profile and a broad texture.

Completely saturated black black ruby.  Low-toned and woodsy/brambly on the nose, with very dark blackberry fruit, and dark baker's chocolate and scorched earth.  Bone dry in the mouth, with very minerally-tinged cassis fruit, with pungent roasted herbs abounding.  Loads of medium-fine-grained tannins coat the mouth.  Good acidity, and full-body too, so the balance is nice.  It's just that the flavor profile is kinda rustic.  B for now, but it might soften and improve over the next 2-3 years.  I got this while eating at Pupatella pizzeria in Arlington (which makes amazing true Napolitana pizzas and fritture), and then took the rest home.  Imported by Michael R. Downey Selections, Lorton, VA.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2007 Tedeschi "Capitel dei Nicalo" VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE (Veneto, Italy)

A good value, fully mature, fairly complex Valpo. Tedeschi has been a very good producer in this region for several decades.  I used to carry a Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco Valpo in the wine shop I managed back in the mid-80s, and it was very good as I recall.  This wine is neither fish nor fowl; it's a unique style. Weight and body-wise, it's mid-way between a normal Valpo and Ripasso style.

Dark blackish garnet color.  Big, animated, earthy, yeasty nose with loads of ripe but tartish berry fruit.  Mouthfilling and flavorful, this wine counterbalances intensity and a light mouthfeel.  Very earthy, mature, satisfying flavors, with dark, dry berry skin fruit.  Bone dry, with some drying but soft tannin that is slow to leave.  Bit of pleasant bitterness appears in the finish.  Good, lively acids.  I give it a B+, but others who aren't fond of earthy wines may not like it as much.  Was $14.99 from  Imported by Dreyfus/Ashby, NYC.

(Sorry, 2006 shown.)

Monday, October 08, 2012

2008 Saddleback Cellars ZINFANDEL "Old Vines" (Napa Valley, Cal.)

A big, dark low-toned, intensely-flavored, and significantly-oaked Zinfandel.  Not my favorite style, but still, very well done.

Fully-saturated, plasma-like, black ruby-crimson.  Low-toned nose of smoky sandstone and earth, minerals, dark blackberry skins, and espresso roast coffee.  Dense flavors immediately coat the mouth, with chocolatey-dark berry flavors and a lot of graphite-inflected minerals.  Dense and large-boned.  Loads of soft tannin and very full body.  Drink this one in mid-winter with a winey stew and it will shine.  B+.  Was $27 from

(Sorry, 2007 shown.)

Sunday, October 07, 2012

2010 Beckman Vineyards GRENACHE "Estate" (Santa Ynez Valley, Cal.)

A zesty, herb-tinged and very quaffable style of Grenache.  Not as big and earthy as Chateauneufs, or as powerful, weighty, and densely-fruity as the best old vine Spanish Garnachas.  This is a wine that doesn't necessarily shine on its own, but fits in beautifully with a meal.

Dark, magenta-shot ruby.  Bright, slightly tartish raspberry fruit coupled with mixed green herbs on the shy nose.  Much more animated in the mouth than the as yet undeveloped nose suggests, it fills the mouth with earthy, iodine-tinged, herby black raspberry fruit.  Lots of youthful but soft tannin, and very good acids provide nice framework.  Medium-full-bodied, with pretty good concentration.  As the finish wears on (it's a long one), the fruit lingers and comes more into focus.  This wine will age nicely for 2-3 years, but if you like them young, it works nicely now too (but run it through a Vinturi or decant it to allow it to develop.  B(+).  Was $22.99 from  Neither a good nor bad value at that price.

Friday, October 05, 2012

2007 Col d'Orcia ROSSO DI MONTALCINO "Banditella" (Tuscany, Italy)

One of the best, and best value Rosso di Montalcinos I've had.  Fragrant, deep, ripe, complex, and textured.

Very saturated black ruby/garnet with brick edges.  Deep, very ripe blackberry and plummy fruit together with loads of fragrant gravel and minerals on the nose.  Intense, deep-toned flavors of pungent graphite-laced earth and bone-dry essence of blackberry extract.  Lots of medium fine-grained tannins and full body give lots of oomph, and the finish is long and chewy.  I can't imagine this improving much, so drink over the next 18 months.  A-.  Was $14.99 from  Imported by Palm Bay International, Boca Raton, FL.