Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2011 Tilia BONARDA (Mendoza, Argentina)

This is a terrific value.  Vibrant, loaded with fruit, and balanced.  Buy cases of this to have on-hand for cookouts this upcoming summer (if it ever gets here).

Very dark, blackish ruby.  Fantastically lively nose with loads of bright, ripe raspberries and mixed red berries, along with rock dust.  The attack is intensely fruity, with excellent concentration.  Lots of pure dark and red fruits in the mouth, turning a bit minerally as the finish progresses.  A fair amount of soft tannin gives some structure.  It's not complex, but it's very flavorful and nicely-textured.  B+.  Was $7.99 from  Imported by Winebow, Inc., NYC.

PS, note that Bonarda in Argentina isn't the same thing as Bonarda in Italy.  It's actually the grape called Charbono in this country.

Monday, February 24, 2014

2011 Napa Wine Co. ZINFANDEL (Napa Valley, Cal.)

Organic!  I like that.  And it's a darn good Zin.  Tangy tangy tangy.  I wouldn't have been able to place it as a Napa Valley Zin if it had been served blind.  But it's got lots of character, nice texture, and would be great with Italian or Portuguese meat dishes, or grilled beef.

Very crystalline dark ruby color.  Exuberant nose was earthy and exhibited loads of tangy mixed red berries on the first night.  The earthiness was much more subdued on the second night, but the tangy berries were even tangier, and mixed with some fresh-cut herbs.  Round, vibrant, and dry in the mouth, with very nice concentration of fruit, full body, and pretty good acidity.  It weighs in at 13.9% alc., which is very low for a Zin these days.  Nice soft texture and good length.  B+.  Drink this over the next 1-2 years.  Was $19.99 from Total Wine in Fairfax.

(I remember buying a case of 1979 Napa Wine Co. Zin as a close-out in 1983 or thereabouts for about $5 a bottle at Yankee Spirits in Sturbridge, MA, and passing it out to my family.  That one was very nice as I recall.  I have not had a wine from these guys since then!)

(Sorry: 2009 depicted.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2010 Domaine Coudoulis LIRAC (Southern Rhone, France)

Liracs always seem to me to be the lazy sibling in the Cotes du Rhone family.  Never exuberant,  usually laid back.  Sometimes verging on boring.  This wine needs significant airing, but after it gets it, it's pretty nice in a typical Lirac-ian low-key sort of way.

Very dark, rich-looking black ruby.  The nose sucked on day one.  Nothing there but dark scents.  Like sniffing Darth Vader's helmet.  On day 2 (under a Vacu-vin enclosure), it exhibited low-toned, medium-intensity, rich, sweet dark crushed berry fruit, along with significant crushed stone minerality.  Soft, rich, and low-toned flavors of dark crushed berries and forest floor earthiness.  A little iodiney quality in the finish.  It's got loads of medium-grained tannin, but I wouldn't age it too much longer because as the second night wore on I detected some oxidation.  So give it some air and then kill the bottle.  B.  Was $14.99 from Total Wine in Fairfax.  Imported by Saranty Imports, White Plains, NY (which I think is Total Wine's importing arm . . .  because why not take the middle man's cut yourself?).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

2009 Vecchia Cantina VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO (Tuscany, Italy)

I have never had great luck with Vino Nobiles.  They tend not to be great values, and I think many are basically clumsy relations of Chianti Classico.  But this one, produced by a co-op in the region, was reasonably priced and has very nice fruit and balance.

Dark ruby color.  Nice nose of macerated cherries, tobacco leaf, lemon zest, and gravel.  Lots of dark cherry fruit in the mouth, with a hint of unsweetened cocoa powder and lots of stony minerals.  Full-bodied, with loads of dusty tannins providing a nice framework for some additional aging.  Bright acids keep it fresh.  A touch of bitterness in the finish.  Would be excellent with meat-sauced pasta.  B+.  Was $15.99 from  Imported  by Superior Wines, Cranford, NJ.

2012 Cottanera ETNA ROSSO "Barbazzale" (Sicily, Italy)

I love Etna Rossos.  They have a unique purity of fruit.  This one was very nice, with the purity thing augmented by a smoky note.

Medium dark ruby color.  Bright, vibrant ripe cherry fruit on the nose, along with loads of stony minerality and the aforementioned smoky note.  Bright, pure cherry fruit pounces in the mouth, riding a wave of fine-grained tannins, and there is a lot of clean minerality on the palate as well. It's a little more full-bodied than some other Etnas I've had.  Medium long finish.  A little loose, this would really kill it if it had just a touch more concentration.  But it's a cuspy B+/A-.  Was $15.99 from  Imported by Cottanera USA, Saucelito, CA.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

2010 Shingleback SHIRAZ "The Davey Estate" (McLaren Vale, Australia)

I don't buy many Aussie Shirazes, and I've had way too many oaky, liquid jam-jars, but this one was billed as a leaner, more minerally exhibition of the grape, and it actually is.  It's quite nice.  Still identifiably Aussie, but stripped down.

Impenetrable black ruby, with a violet tinge.  Loads of liquid, slightly saline dark minerals, cedar, and blackberry and cassis skins on the nose.  Bone dry, dark blackberry extract and a clingy, iodiney streak in the mouth initially.  Loads of soft tannin then announces itself, and the lean, concentrated flavor profile grows slightly riper and sweeter on the back end.  Full-bodied, but not nearly overbearingly huge like some of its Aussie cousins.  The finish is very long and linear.  There is a lot going on in this wine.  Really fine.  A-.  Was $14.99 from, making it a very good value.  Would be outstanding with a juicy, grilled prime porterhouse.  Imported by Precept Wine, Seattle, WA.

Friday, February 07, 2014

2011 Kupelweiser LAGREIN (Alto Adige, NE Italy)

I haven't had a Lagrein since the 1980s, I think.  This one is beautifully balanced, a little tight at first, but then opening up in to a food-friendly good value.  And this is yet another wine that was much better on the second night, so be sure to let this one breathe if you open it anytime soon.

Saturated, very crystalline blackish ruby violet.  The nose almost reminds me of a young, unoaked Medoc, with loads of tightly-wound cassis and blackberry fruit and gravelly minerals.  A little tight fist of youthful fruit punches the mouth on entry, but it's wrapped on a smooth-textured, medium-bodied package.  It is not weighty, but has good concentration of fruit and a linear timeline in the mouth.  Bone dry.  Just a wee bit of soft tannin, and really nice, slightly mouth-watering acids make it feel fresh.  The finish is very pure-tasting.  Very nice.  B+/A-.  Was about $18 from Total Wine in Fairfax.  This would be amazing with a basic Yankee Pot Roast.  Drink over the next 3 years.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

2009 Viticcio CHIANTI CLASSICO (Tuscany, Italy)

This is a textbook Chianti Classico.  And I got this for a song on sale (I bought a case for a price that netted out at $10.50/bottle, including shipping, from on a close-out!).  I am an unabashed fan of the wines from this estate.

Very black-tinged ruby.  Lively nose of red berries, tangy rich cherries, and a whiff of dry, dusty gravel.  Smacks the mouth with ripe, zingy red fruits, wine-soaked gravel, and stony minerals.  Very nice acids and well-integrated soft tannin keep the mouthfeel interesting.  Nice length.  Just a pleasure to drink.  It's textbook Chianti Classico, which means not only is it fun to drink but it also will go well with a wide variety of foods.  B+/A-.  Will keep for at least another 2-3 years.  Imported by Massanois Imports, Washington DC.

Monday, February 03, 2014

2011 Cline Ancient Vines CARIGNANE (Contra Costa County, Cal.)

A big, deep, fruity, rich wine.  A bit more complexity and it would have been outstanding, but as is, it's really nice.

Saturated black ruby/violet.  Intense nose of ripe mixed berries and plums, along with wafts of sweet, high-toned smoke.  Intense and pure in the mouth.  Hits right away with weighty, dense ripe dark berry fruit and dark, gravelly minerals.  Lots of weight, but not overbearing, the flavors tenaciously cling to the mouth.  Very full bodied and moderately tannic.  This wine does not skimp on flavor.  A-/B+.  Was $14.99 at Total Wine in Fairfax, VA.