2011 No. 33 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $15.99/Sale $13.99: This delicious Pinot Gris gets its moniker from Oregon’s place as the 33rd state to join the Union. With aromas of green apple, lemongrass, grapefruit, and pear, the wine has great balance, weight and substance throughout the palate. Flavors of passion fruit and lemon linger on your palate, while an appealing acidity and vibrancy are displayed in its long finish. We all were charmed by this perfect autumn sipper.
2011 Notebook White Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, $12.99/Sale $10.99: 2011 was the coldest growing season on record in Washington, and consequently this aromatically stimulating wine is not your typical Washington Riesling. Characterized by generous fruit with just touch of sweetness and balanced acidity, it’s more like a halbtröcken with a dash of petrol on the nose. We really like it!
2012 Peirano Estate Petite Sirah, Lodi, California, $13.99/Sale 11.99: Lodi’s climate and soil are ideal for Petite Sirah production, which is why the area is the state’s leading producer of this varietal. Almost inky in color, the fruit is concentrated, but not overblown, and rounded out with a touch of oak.
2011 Vina Robles Petite Sirah, Paso Robles, California, $24.99/Sale $22.99: And here’s another Petite Sirah. Notable for its smooth mouthfeel and deep, rich flavor, again, we like it because it is not too fruit forward, instead displaying complexity, structure and balance. 92 points, Wine & Spirits
2011 Scott Harvey InZINerator, California, $14.99: They call it “a wine made for the “Super Hero.” Full of big, bold black cherry flavors, it is a lone warrior in the world of Zinfandel blends. Oak aging contributes to the rounded complexity, with just a hint of sweetness. Try this wine with any grilled meat or chicken, or pair with pizza, pasta and burgers.
2012 Bon Anno Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $22.99/Sale $19.99: 2012 was a classic growing season in Napa, and this seductive Cabernet shows classic aromas of spice and sage followed by not too fruity notes of blueberry and blackberry. With a nice balance of acid and smooth tannins, you can drink this wine now or wait a few years. Food & Wine calls this “one of the best values in Napa Valley Cabernet,” and we couldn’t agree more! You can try it at MacKenzie’s Chop House, where it’s poured by the glass.
2011 Fisticuffs Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $29.99/Sale $26.99: A Napa Cabernet with a touch of Petite Verdot and Petite Sirah, its nose of dark chocolate, black cherry and cedar complement a mouth coating palate of vine ripened blackberry and raspberry jam. The tannins are fine-grained and expansive, and slowly yield to mocha and candied pecans on the finish. Quite a mouthful!
2011 J. Bookwalter Foreshadow Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington, $38.99/Sale $34.99: John Williams, winemaker /owner of Frog’s Leap Winery, stated, during one of our Wine Festival seminars last spring, that great wines show restraint. We agree…the goal is not to make the biggest, boldest, most extracted wine possible but rather to make a balanced wine that “shows restraint.” This blend of 85% Cabernet and 15% Syrah certainly falls into that category. Subtle aromatics lead to nicely interwoven fruit and terroir components on the palate. Very well made!
2012 Goisot Exogyra Virgula Sauvignon Blanc, Saint-Bris, $20.99/Sale $18.99: An estate that dates back to the 1500’s, Domaine Goisot is without a doubt one of the premier winemaking families of the Auxerre region. Their focus is on having a soil and ‘terroir-driven’ style. The Blue oyster fossils embedded in the site result in a refreshing acidity in this Sauvignon Blanc. The finish is absolutely stunning, as it persists for minutes with overtones of white peaches.
2013 Domaine Begude ‘Exotique’ GV, Languedoc, $14.99/Sale $12.99: What makes this wine so ‘exotique’ is that it is possibly the only estate in all of France daring to grow the Austrian-born Gruner Veltliner grape! This Gruner has all the spunk and vibrancy of that in its homeland, except the warmth of this region softens its edges a bit, offering up a little richness on the palate as well. A perfect juxtaposition, your palate will be dancing to the rhythm it creates.
2009 Harmand Geoffroy Gevrey Chambertin, Côtes de Nuits, $58.99/Sale $53.99: From a family-run estate established in the late 1800’s comes this “uber-classic” Gevrey, which captures the true nature of this grand appellation. The youngest vines for this cuvée are 25 years old with the oldest being 80. Rich yet graceful, this wine is tremendously approachable, showing the wild berry fruit and charming rusticity that are the hallmarks of true Gevrey Chambertin. From a stellar vintage, this is a great price for an outstanding red Burgundy. Very limited supply.
2011 Lagone Aia Vecchia, Toscana, $14.99/Sale 13.49: Three Bordeaux grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot) make up this blend from Aia Vecchia, coming from just outside coastal Bolgheri, the heart of the Super Tuscan zone. It is primarily Merlot, which gives this wine its velvety tannins and rich plum tones. Vibrant black cherry, tea and fennel notes define the complex bouquet. Similar flavors follow on the palate with medium body and richness. There’s a lot of “bang for the buck” here.
2011 Iuli Nino Pinot Nero, Monferrato, $34.99/Sale $29.99: You don’t usually think of Pinot Noir when you think of Italian wine, but there are some beautiful ones produced in northern Italy. Pinot Noir has an amazing ability to reflect the quality of a vineyard’s terroir in the glass. And, in Piedmont’s Monferrato district, there’s no higher quality than the wines of Fabrizio Iuli. Matching the depth and complexity of a fine Burgundy, the Iuli Nino is a revelation of elegance, terroir and gorgeous fruit and spice. Treat yourself…we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good this Pinot Nero is.
2013 Marqués de Irún Verdejo, Rueda, $14.99/Sale $12.99: Owned by famed sherry producer, Lustau, this 100% Verdejo is pale straw in color, with a fresh and aromatic nose. On the palate, the wine is light and dry, with a concentration of green apple followed by a crisp finish. Perfect refreshment.
2010 Durigutti Bonarda, Mendoza, $13.99/Sale $12.99: From the Durigutti brothers, two of Argentina’s hottest (as in most sought-after) winemakers, this boutique project is their pride and joy. While Malbec is Argentina’s most recognized grape variety, Bonarda is its most planted and lends juicy plum and boysenberry flavors to the wines it produces. The balance of fruit to acid is scrumptiously enjoyable here, and with the wine’s prominent cigar-box aromas, it is a fine red for casual dinners of rich steaks, spicy char-grilled meats, and green pepper. A palate friendly guzzler, if there ever was one!
2013 Wirra Wirra Scrubby Rise White, Adelaide, $11.99: This Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier blend from Down Under bursts with bright fruit and zippy acidity. While dominantly Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, it’s crisp but not grapefruity, with a lovely dry finish.
2012 Wirra Wirra Scrubby Rise Red, Adelaide, $11.99: Predominantly Shiraz and Cabernet, with a dash of Petit Verdot, this charming red’s palate is soft and juicy with rich plums and rhubarb. The plush fruit dominates and is supported by subtle cedary oak and bright acid. Bright, juicy and fresh.
2012 Mt. Beautiful Riesling, North Canterbury, $24.99/Sale $15.99: 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.