OREGON AND WASHINGTON
2012 Klee Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $22.99/Sale $18.99: The name, of course, inspired by the famous Swiss artist, Paul Klee. Like Klee, from the Bauhaus school, the wine gives us functionality and affordability. It goes for the truth of the matter…straight, unembellished Pinot Noir. A piece of honest art.
2011 Hogue Cellars Merlot, Yakima valley, $9.99/Sale $8.99: Back in 1982, when brothers Gary and Mike Hogue started Hogue Cellars in Washington’s Yakima Valley, it was the state’s 19th bonded winery. Today Washington has over 650 wineries but Hogue continues to be successful with good quality, well priced wines. This Merlot is medium bodied with a soft mouth feel, yet it has structure. Selected by the Broadmoor as a banquet wine, it is a tremendous value.
2012 Thurston Wolfe PGV, Washington, $14.99: The 2012 PGV is Thurston Wolfe’s unique blend of 63% Pinot Gris, 34% Viognier, and 3% Orange Muscat – a delightful wine. This blend is more intriguing that a typical Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris). The fruit aromas are more intense, the peach and citrus flavors are richer, and the finish has more crisp acidity. Enjoy with chicken recipes, steamed mussels, clam linguini or by itself on the patio with good friends. Double Gold Medal – Seattle Wine Awards.
2011 D.R. Wolfe’s Family Red, Washington, $14.99: The 2011 D.R. Wolfe’s Family Red is a unique blend of Zinfandel (55%), Petite Sirah (25%), and Lemberger (20%), all grown in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. The lesser-known grape, Lemberger, gives a lift to the Zin and Petite Sirah – lightening them up a bit. The result is an appealing, soft, flavorful wine which complements a wide range of rich and hearty dishes.
Andre et Mireille Tissot Cremant du Jura Extra Brut NV, $21.99: The Jura is one of our favorite places in France. It hangs over Switzerland and has unique geology, full of fossils and other goodies. And of course Pasteur was born there. This sparkling wine is bone-dry, creamy, fresh and yummy. Drink a bottle and see some Jura dinosaur bones.
2010 Jean Pla Passion Grenache, Roussillion, $14.99/Sale $13.99: What a little gem this is! This full flavored 100% Grenache comes from forty to ninety year old vines which explains why the fruit has such depth and finesse, The vineyards are located in the Fenouilledes hills, named for the “fenouille” (fennel) which covers the hillsides. So, don’t be surprised if you pick up a hint of anise when you drink this.
2011 Domaine de Raspail-Ay Gigondas, $32.99: Golly these guys are amazing. They give us these fruit forward Gigondas that are stunning in their youth. This explodes with red cherries along with dark and red fruits that are artfully tied together. It’s exuberant! If one cares, the grapes are 70 percent Grenache, 20 percent Syrah and 10 percent Mourvedre. The wide variability in Gigondas derives often from the grape blends and the wildly diverse vineyard sites.
2011 Marc Colin St. Aubin 1er Cru, Les Combes, $46.99/Sale $43.99: St. Aubin is a small appellation that is often overshadowed by it famous neighbors – Chassagne and Puligny Montrachet. The good news is that this 1er Cru rivals them for quality at nearly half the price, simply because it is lesser known. Les Combes is a tiny strip of land that touches its neighbors and gives you Chardonnay that is complexly opulent while offering acid and linear minerality. Marc Colin is a name to know in these parts — he is, without a doubt, one of the very best! You don’t have to have deep pockets to spoil yourself to extremes with this white Burgundy!
2010 Chateau de la Maltroye Bourgogne Blanc, $31.99/Sale $27.99: We know this sounds pricy for a Bourgogne Blanc, but believe us, it’s worth every penny and more! This amazing Bourgogne is declassified Chassagne-Montrachet and can rival many of its more expensive neighbors. It has an enticing bouquet, sumptuous flavors and elegant mouthfeel. Don’t miss this chance to drink stellar white Burgundy at an incredibly reasonable price. This white Burgundy is more full-bodied than the above St. Aubin. So pick your style — they are both great!
2010 Terredoro di Paolo Aglianico, Campania, $14.99/Sale $13.99: The Aglianico grape was introduced by the Greeks to Italy in 750 BC. This wine shows dark fruit with spice and a little garrigue. It is full bodied with round tannins and a flavorful finish – a great value which would accent a pizza beautifully. We think you should drink it now! 92 points from James Suckling.
2008 Donnas, Valle D’Aosta, $27.99/Sale $24.99: Here you have some ultra exotic. From the Aosta Valley, south of Mont Blanc and southwest of Switzerland, it is 90 percent Nebbiolo which gives it a certain Barolo or Barbaresco aspect. It would be thrilled with grilled, wild game. A Chamois off MontBlanc would be “parfait.”
2009 Damilano Barolo, Lecinquevigne, Piedmonte, $36.99/Sale $33.99: Good Barolo at a reasonable price … not easy to find, but here we have one. This is a blend of five single vineyards (cinquevigne) and is, of course, 100 % Nebbiolo. It has the classic “tar and roses” scent of Barolo and nuances of plum and dried strawberries in the flavors. The tannins are round enabling you to drink it now if you can’t bear to wait. We liked it as did others … 91 Pts Galloni, 90 Pts WA, and 90 Pts WS. Definitely a good buy.
2012 Venica Pinot Grigio, Collio, $20.99/Sale $18.99: Meet one of the most interesting Pinot Grigios in Coaltrain. Not surprisingly, it is from Collio in northeast Italy, where most of Italy’s best whites are forged. It has a golden hue and is dry, round and full. Yet the structure is delicate because of the full maturation of the grapes.
2010 Moretti Omero, Terre di Giano, Umbria, $15.99/Sale $11.99: In 1992, Omero decided to go organic and what a success it has been. This is a full, earthy, but stylish red. We believe this to be a blend of Umbrian grapes with the region’s great Sagrantino grape being in the blend.
2009 Borsao Berola, Campo de Borja, $15.99/Sale $14.99: Those of you who have savored the values of Borsao and Vigna Borgia from this maker will experience a whole new level with this Berola. It’s more serious and complex than its brethren. Some Cabernet and Syrah are added into the mix and the blend is aged for ten months in American and French barrels. It’s full bodied and tightly structured. A screaming value from Spain.
Elegido Blanco, $9.99: Lemony but not overly acidic, this pleasant, refreshing wine is mainly Macabeo with a touch of Verdejo. It comes in a liter bottle making it a terrific value. A great everyday wine!
2012 Bula, Monsant, $12.99/Sale $10.99: Remember the Niel, which we featured several months ago as our Red Wine of the Month? Well, this Spanish blend comes from the same maker. A blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah, this wine is rich with spice and ripe blueberry fruit. There is a hint of licorice. Quite lush and smooth – you’re going to love it! 90 points from Stephen Tanzer.
2012 Sattler St. Laurent, $19.99/Sale $16.99: This traditional Austrian variety, St. Laurent, is an offspring of the Pinot Noir grape. It is similar in structure and silkiness, showing dark black cherry, with a touch of licorice, soft tannins and a lingering finish. A really pretty wine!
ARGENTINA AND CHILE
2012 Punto Final Malbec, Mendoza, $12.99/Sale $11.99: Characterized by blackberry, blueberry and cassis flavors with a smooth texture, this Malbec is made by the same winery as the popular Enamore, Bodegas Renacer. Full-bodied, elegantly structured and complex … a great value.
2012 EQ Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, $18.99/Sale $13.99: Chile often produces appealing Sauvignon Blancs and this is certainly one of them. The nose is complex with lime, herbal and floral aspects. The lemon and grapefruit flavors are crisp and concentrated. This would be delicious with ceviche, oysters, salmon or crab legs. Or have it with goat cheese or blue cheese. Try a bottle while it’s at this awesome sale price. 90 Pts Wine Spectator
2011 Maimai Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, $18.99/Sale $16.99: Well you don’t see that much Syrah from New Zealand. Usually it comes from Australia and is called “Shiraz.” This is a bit more refined than the Aussie versions. It almost reminds one of a lighter style Cotes du Rhone. If anyone is curious, “maimai” means “duck blind” in the local patois.
2012 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir, North Canterbury, $24.99/Sale $19.99: How can you not like a wine with this name? We love the style of this Pinot …subtlety is its secret. The fruit comes through in a mellow, elegant way, melded with just a touch of earth. It’s lighter in color and has an appealing baking spice and dried herb character in the aroma. It is beautiful!
2012 Mt. Beautiful Riesling, North Canterbury, $24.99/Sale 19.99: We don’t find too many Rieslings outside of Germany and Alsace that we rave about, but this one qualifies as rave-worthy! Only 400 cases were made of this fragrant, fresh wine. It’s off dry with beautiful flavors of apple and lime zest, finishing with lingering acidity. With Asian cuisine, spicy dishes or seafood, it will sparkle.
2009 Emilio Moro Malleolus de Valderammo, Ribera del Duero, $149.99: Only 583 cases were made of this exceptional Spanish Tinto Fino (also known as Tempranillo). It is delicious, with lush dark fruit and a velvety texture. The spicy aromas of clove and coffee are very intriguing. We were all astounded by this wine. The WineSpectator gave it 94 points – we would rate it even higher! This had been opened the day before when we tried it, and it showed beautifully, so be sure to open this 12-24 hours ahead of time if you are going to drink it now. It will age for many years to come, so we recommend drinking one soon and putting a few more in the cellar.
2010 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape, La Crau, $84.99: Always one of the very top Chateauneufs. This surpasses most of its predecessors with plum sauce and cassis fruit flavors along with nuances of tobacco, mint, green fig and toasted anise in the bouquet. It’s complex and dense. A remarkable performance. 97 points from Robert Parker in the Wine Advocate!
2011 Dunstan Chardonnay, Durell Vineyard, Ranch Hills Block, Sonoma Coast, $47.99: If you are looking for a luscious, creamy style of Chardonnay, look no further. Ellie Phipps Price and her former husband, Bill Price, have owned the famous Durell Vineyard since 1997. Durell is considered to be one of the finest vineyards in Sonoma. Many notable wineries, including Kistler, Chateau St. Jean and Patz and Hall have made highly acclaimed Chardonnays with grapes purchased from Durell. Ellie started Dunstan Winery in 2005, and, of course, makes her wines from 100% Durell grapes. This terrific Chardonnay has aromas of butterscotch, toffee, allspice and baked pear. The flavors follow in the same vein. It is beautifully composed and balanced. The Pinot File (great name!) loved it, as did we, giving it 93 points.