Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2008 Kingston Family Vineyards SYRAH "Lucero" (Casablanca Valley, Chile)

Eh.  So "international" in style I wouldn't have had a clue what it was or where it was from if I couldn't see the label.  Dark, ripe, very oaky, and with a short finish.  It could be an over-oaked, young vine Cabernet, Merlot, or Syrah from California, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, or South America.

Since drinking a really good Chilean Syrah from Chono, I've been looking for another one of that caliber and have invariably been disappointed.

I don't get the point of making or drinking a wine like this.  It's not flawed or anything, it's just terminally uninteresting.  Was $15 and change on sale from, and not worth half that.  C-

Thursday, June 21, 2012

2011 Christian Lauverjat SANCERRE ROSÉ "Moulin des Vrillères" (Loire, France)

One of the few things I like about hot weather is that it's an excuse to pop a bottle of my favorite type of rosé:  Sancerre.  Pinot Noir, from very chalky soil and a cool climate.  Trifecta for fragrant, vibrant rosé!  This one is really nice.

Absolutely glowingly crystalline light salmon-pink color.  Exuberant nose -- lightly earthy and yeasty, loads of bright stony minerals, fruit conjuring strawberry, golden cherry, and grape.  Bone dry, with bright acids, it comes on minerally, molts into cherry pit and strawberry fruit, and finishes with clean, clingy, intense, slightly bitter minerality.  In other words, lots going on, particularly for a rosé.  A-.  Was $21 at Whole Foods in Arlington (Clarendon).  That's more than basic rosés from the south of France, but it's worth it when looking for something more than just a thirst-slaker.  Imported by Elite Wine Imports, Lorton, VA.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2007 Fattoria Vignavecchia CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA (Tuscany, Italy)

Beautiful, textbook Chianti Classico.  Gorgeous, focused fruit, medium-full body, minerality, elegance, and excellent balance.  I can't imagine a Sangiovese I'd like more than this.

Vibrant, stunningly crystalline black ruby color.  Laser-focused fresh and dried cherry fruit, along with schist-strewn fragrant gravel and a hint of new leather.  Fills the mouth with ripe clingy deep cherry fruit and intense minerality, in a soft, dry, and improbably lithe package.  Good acidity too. A barely noticeable amount of very fine-grained tannin provides some texture, and the finish is long and pure.  I like that the fruit and terroir shine through and there's no noticeable oak component.  A.  Was $18.99 from Wines Til Sold Out ( making it a great value.  Imported by Superior Wines, Cranford, NJ.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

2009 Jean-Marie Arnoux VACQUEYRAS (Rhone Valley, France)

More on the austere than generous side (which is surprising for the vintage), it's a rustic but serviceable Rhone.  It wouldn't faze me if this were an $8 Cotes du Rhone (though even at that price I wouldn't buy it again), but at $20, it's way overpriced.

Dark black ruby.  Fairly intense but rather severe nose of iodine, scorched earth, and blackberry skins.  Dark, low-toned, bitter-tinged flavors of scorched earth and blackberry skin.  Lots of gritty tannin too, though the finish is clingy and long.  Seems to lack energy.  Drink up, because this isn't going to get any better.  C.  Was $19.99 at Total Wine in McLean.  Imported by Wm. Deutsch  & Sons, White Plains, NY.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

2008 William Knuttel PINOT NOIR (Sonoma Coast, Cal.)

This is one of the best moderately-priced Pinot Noirs I've encountered.  Flavorful, fragrant, complex, and soft.

Medium ruby with a slight ambering at the rim.  Engaging nose with lots of stuff going on:  Soft, sappy cherries, peat moss, maple syrup, root beer, and crushed stone.  Instantly mouth-filling, with ripe, dried sweet cherry syrup, smoked meat, lots of stony minerals, and a smoky not-quite-as-sharp-as-graphite-but-still-darkish component that clings to the sides of the mouth.  Lengthy finish that you wish would be even longer.  Fairly full body.  A teensy bit of tannin. My only quibble is that the acidity is lower than I'd ideally like.  A-.  So much more enjoyable than 50% of the Burgundy Premier Crus out there at double the price.  Was $22.99 from

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

2009 Vincent Girardin FLEURIE "Domaine de la Chapelle" "Vieilles Vignes" (Beaujolais, France)

I usually go for old-school, traditional-tasting wines.  Particularly with Beaujolais, where the old school has tight, intensely stony, refreshing and linear wines, and the new school (DeBouef and many of the negociants) is, to my taste, muddled, sometimes flabby, and usually uninteresting. This one is not old school, but, dang, it's good!  This is how modern style should be done.

Strikingly deep, pure, violet-tinged ruby.  Wonderfully inviting nose of juicy plums and sweet, dark cherries along with a tangy, powdered stone note.  Bone dry, yet ripe and juicy in the mouth.  Nicely structured, with refreshing acids and a little but of very fine-grained tannin.  Nice purity.  A joy to drink.  Great balance too.  The only thing it lacks is a bit more minerally complexity, but it's Beaujolais, so maybe I'm being too analytically hard on it.  A-.  Imported by Vineyard Brands, I got this for $14.99 from

Monday, June 04, 2012

2009 Martin Schaetzel PINOT BLANC "Cuvee Reserve" (Alsace, France)

A textbook example of this inexpensive Alsace staple.  When done right, an Alsace Pinot Blanc can be (to me, anyway) a lot more fun to drink than its more famous and well-distributed price-point competitors, the inexpensive Chardonnays from Macon.

Light, bright silvery-gold with a nice light green glint.  Inviting nose of orange blosson and honey-inflected golden delicious apples.  Bone dry, ripe, soft, and energetic in the mouth.  Loads of minerally apple and pear-skin fruit fills the mouth, with surprising body.  Finish is very minerally and long, with a little alcoholic heat that is surprising given how fun and casual the nose and initial flavors seem.  B+.  Was $16.99 from Whole Foods in Old Towne Alexandria (I think).  Imported by ViniFrance Imports, Alexandria.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

2009 William Knuttel "Musica Vina" ZINFANDEL (Sonoma County, Cal.)

A solid, flavorful, if not elegant, Zin.  Pretty decent value.

Nice, lively, dark ruby color.  Nose shows good blackberry/boysenberry fruit, accompanied by a note of brown sugar and a rustic, slightly scorched earthy/minerally streak.  Mouthfilling and chunky, with good flavor density.  Dusty tannin coats the mouth as low-toned, low acid blackberry skin fruit and a peaty/iodiney/irony component fill the taste buds.  Long and clingy.  It's a rustic style of Zin, and far from elegant, but it was a pretty good value at $12.99 from Wines Til Sold Out (  B.  Would work very well with pasta with red meat sauces or red-sauced pizza.

Friday, June 01, 2012

2009 Jimenez-Landi "Sotorrondero" MENTRIDA (Central Spain)

A wine from an area I'm not familiar with in central Spain, it's composed of Syrah primarily and actually tastes more French then Spanish.

Gorgeous, deeply-tinted dark ruby-violet.  Medium intensity nose of blackberry with a minute, sour twist.  Powdered sandstone is there too, with scorched earth notes and a wisp of high-toned smoke.  Dry, clingy entry, with slightly vegetal dark cherry fruit mixed with dry unsweetened chocolate and lots of powdered stone notes.  Good acids and lots of fine-grained, puckery tannins are the physical characteristics.  It's a unique wine that I probably would have placed as a Carignane-based wine from the Languedoc region of France had I not known what it was.  B.  Imported by Eric Solomon's European Cellars, this was $16.99 from The Wine Exchange (