2014 Presqu’ile Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Maria Valley, CA , $20.99/Sale $19.99: From the cool climate and sandy soil of the Santa Maria Valley comes this different style of Sauvignon Blanc – more pineapple and less grapefruit flavors. The wine is aged 7 months in 1/3 neutral French oak, 1/3 stainless steel and 1/3 concrete egg, producing complex and distinctive flavors. Very good!
2013 Flowers Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, CA, $48.99/Sale $43.99: From the extreme Sonoma Coast comes this beautiful, lightly oaked, very balanced Chardonnay. Flowers has been named the Artisan Winery of the Year for the eighth consecutive year, and their wines deliver impeccable quality. 93 points from Wine Spectator and 91 points from Wine Enthusiast
2012 Amavi Syrah, Walla Walla, WA, $28.99/Sale $27.99: This 100% estate, sustainably farmed Syrah comes from some of the highest vineyards (at 1,350 feet) in Walla Walla, where the cobbled soil provides excellent drainage, but limited nutrients that that force the vines to struggle to produce their precious fruit. This is a big, rich, voluptuously-styled wine that would definitely benefit from decanting. 90 points from The Wine Advocate.
2013 The Pundit Syrah, Columbia Valley, WA, $20.99/Sale $19.99: This is a collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle and the acclaimed French winemaker Michel Gassier and enologist Philippe Cambie. You can definitely see the influence of both wine regions in this wine. The lush fruit of Washington is integrated with Rhone aspects like bacon fat and garrigue. We aren’t the only ones who liked this Syrah. The Wine Advocate gave it 91 points. Try it with lamb with fresh herb salsa or with lasagna or French Onion Soup. Delicious!
2012 Open Range Red, Capay Valley, CA, $11.99/Sale $10.99: We bought the last of this wine we could get, as Casey Flat Ranch’s future is unknown due to the Butte Fire. This is mainly Syrah and Petite Syrah, and it’s bright, bold and delicious. It tastes like it would cost much more than its modest price. Get some while it lasts!
2013 Cougar Crest Viognier, Walla Walla, WA: $15.99/Sale $14.99: Viognier is the signature white wine of Cougar Crest and the only white grape grown in their estate vineyards. Relatively light and quite expressive, this is brimming with spicy pear and lime flavors. A nice change of pace in white wine. Wine Spectator gave it 90 points.
2009 Cougar Crest Anniversary Cuvee, Walla Walla, WA, $35.99/Sale $34.99: A classic blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, this wine shows the complexity of Bordeaux blends, offering balanced notes of ripe cherry, subtle tobacco and cedar which persist easily against the refined tannins on the finish. Only 949 cases were made and it is drinking beautifully now. 93 points from Wine Spectator.
2013 BonAnno Chardonnay, Carneros, CA, $19.99/Sale $16.99: Fifteen-year old Dijon clones produce this pretty Napa Valley Chardonnay that spends 10 months in French oak. Bursting with apple, peach and apricot, this wine’s texture and clean flavors are balanced with bright acidity, minerality and light oak.
2012 Domaine de la Janasse Terre D’Argile, Côtes du Rhone Villages, $24.99/Sale $20.99: At a stone’s throw from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this wine comes from beautiful terroir of pebbles and red clay just north of the city of Courthézon. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Censault and Mourvedre, the deep fruit is accompanied by just the right amount of leather and a touch of barnyard. The 40 – 60 year old vines produce concentrated flavors, which make this a perfect pairing for lamb. 91 points from The Wine Advocate.
2013 Joseph Drouhin Domaine de Vaudon Chablis, $25.99/Sale $23.99: An elegant wine, brilliant in color, with the typical Chablis nose, where aromas of citrus (lemon) fern and even salty sensations predominate. On the palate it is vigorous and lively, but in a soft mode. A lot of finesse and balance.
2013 Coquelet Chiroubles, Beaujolais, $27.99/Sale $21.99: Damien Coquelet is one of the young rising stars in Beaujolais, and at 28 years-old, he just finished his eighth harvest. Damien’s philosophy focusses on organic viticulture (though not certified), indigenous yeasts, extremely minimal intervention in the cellar, and little to no sulfur use. The Chiroubles comes from three small vineyards in the region. Fermented and aged in concrete and released young, this slammin’ wine is light in tannin, with delicate fruit intertwined with intriguing earthy components. Just a pretty wine.
2013 L’O de Joncier, Côtes du Rhone, $18.99/Sale $16.99: Early harvesting and a quick fermentation help keep this biodynamic red (100% Grenache) light on its feet. The nose shows garrigue and the palate is full of fruit, darker than often found with Grenache. This wine has depth and manages to refresh—an ideal combination for extended patio enjoyment.
2013 Régis Minet Pouilly Fumé “Vieilles Vignes,” Loire Valley, $25.99/Sale $22.99: For Sauvignon Blanc lovers, especially those that drink Sancerre, this is a must. A perfect balance between classic Sauvignon Blanc fruit and a gorgeous minerality that brings the terroir straight to your glass. The luscious feel over your tongue is contrasted by a lively, flinty acidity on the finish. Great with goat cheese.
Saint Cosme Little James’ Basket Press, NV, Rhone, $13.99/Sale $12.99: Much more interesting than its price indicates, this multi-vintage blend of Grenache is dusty and rustic – in the right way. Classic barnyard aromas, red fruit, pepper, spice in a medium-bodied, easy drinking package. Perfect with braised beef or sautéed mushrooms.
2011 Valenti “Norma” Etna Rosso, Sicilia, $22.99/Sale $19.99: Brickish in color and stylistically between a Pinot Noir and a Nebbiolo, this red has the classic Nerello Mascalese nose. It is medium weight, refined and elegant, with great freshness and age ability. A very pleasant wine from 2,700 feet up the slopes of Mount Etna.
2013 Cantine del Notaio Aglianico L’Atto, Basilicata, $24.99/Sale $19.99: While exact evidence is difficult to uncover, experts agree that the Aglianico grape was found in the Basilicata region (the instep of the boot) as early as the 6th century B.C., likely brought by the Greeks. Old vines growing in volcanic soil and 12 months barrel-ageing in tufa cellars produce this balanced, harmonious and not overly extracted wine. Elegant and fresh, it would pair well with sauces, roasted meats and ripe cheese. We all loved it!
2013 Ceretto Arneis Blangé, Piemonte, $25.99/ Sale $24.99: When this wine was conceived back in 1985, it was hard to envision a white wine in a land of great reds. But for Ceretto it was a challenge. Arneis is a native varietal producing a very fruity wine with hints of peach, apricot and apple. Its fragrance and flavor are enhanced by the light frizzante produced by air-tight fermentation, which also helps to make up for the varietal’s typically low acidity. This is one gorgeous bottle of wine, which we just tasted on our recent trip to Italy
2012 Vini Menhir Quota 31 Primitivo, Puglia, $13.99/Sale $11.99: Hailing from the fertile, hot heel of the Italian boot, this playful wine’s dark, dense fruit profile shows round tannins, a satiny mouthfeel, balance and a long finish. The rich, ripe berry flavors maintain a sense of elegance that works just as well with burgers as they do with hearty pasta carbonara.
The region of Priorat, about 80 miles west of Barcelona, has risen to prominence in the last 25 years, going from being relatively unknown to now producing some of the most highly valued wines in the world. There is, however, a long history of wine production in Priorat; Carthusian monks from Provence first planted vines in the 12th century. Indeed the region of “Priorat” is named after the Priory they built in the hills there.
2013 Ònix Clàssic, Priorat, $19.99/Sale $18.99: This blend of 50% Cariñena – 50% Garnacha is dark ruby in color and shows aromas of plum with hints of earth and meat. The red fruit is rich and concentrated, accented by mountain herbs and exotic spices. Lush on the palate with round, firm tannins and a solid finish, Wine & Spirits gave this wine 93 points.
2013 Clos Gebrat Tinto, Spain, $19.99/Sale $18.49: From the same winemaker as the Ònix, yet poles apart! The blend is different (35% Cariñena, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Garnacha), and the wine is ripe and oaky up front, with a sweet vanilla aroma balanced by darker notes of blackberry and asphalt. Jammy and full-bodied with a dense, ripe and chewy finish. 92 points Wine & Spirits, “Best Buy”
2014 Esporão Assobio White, Douro, $16.99/Sale $14.99: Assobio means whistle and refers to the wind that whistles through the vines that make up this fresh, zippy, citrusy wine. Produced with local grape varietals grown in schist soil, it is fresh and minerally. A perfect pairing with white meat, fish or seafood.
Hungary and Austria
2014 Pajzos Tokaji T Furmint, Tokaj, Hungary, $11.99, Sale $10.99: Furmint is a white grape variety native to Hungary, known for its racy acidity. This wine’s bright, fresh and zesty flavors range from grapefruit to apricot with notes of nuts, minerals, and spice. A unique wine whose flavors are as appealing as they are original, it would be an excellent choice with grilled poultry, fish and cheese dishes, grilled cheese with green salad.
2012 Weingut Claus Preisinger Basic, Burgenland, Austria, $18.99/Sale $17.99: Reminiscent of Syrah’s deep berry character and black pepper, this blend of Zweigelt and Blaufrankish from one of Austria’s rising stars is sure to become a fast favorite. Lighter bodied, fresh and beaming with flavor a of raspberry, blackberry and cured game, you want to grab for this one next time you are grilling out, enjoying lamb or salty hard cheeses. Organic, intriguing, different–take a chance!
2010 Neyen Espiritu de Apalta, Colchagua Valley, $46.99/Sale $39.99: 55% Carmenere-45% Cabernet Sauvignon, from vines planted in 1890! Due to the vines’ deep roots, Neyen is able to reap the benefits that come with the richness and elegance of the passage of time. Pleasing exotic aromas of soy and chocolate as well as a whiff of tobacco and green olives, the wine pulls you in with its uniqueness. It may remind you of Bordeaux. Intriguing!
We’ve just added 5 fabulous wines to our South African selection, which consistently offers some of the great values of the wine world.
2013 Raats Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, $14.99/Sale $12.99: Truly a labor of love for the Raats family, winemaker Bruwer Raats travels to the US and Europe each year to visit top restaurants and loyal customers, in the belief that personal relationships with the consumers and sellers of his wines are vital to the brand. This Chenin is a classic example of the varietal and shows the balance between power and elegance. Beautifully structured on the palate, it is bursting with fresh yellow and white fruit flavors. The finish is subtle, yet distinct, with great minerality and citrus flavors. Great with sushi and oysters.
2012 Kanonkop Pinotage, Stellenbosch, $40.99/Sale $39.99: Kanonkop is known as one of the greatest exporters of red wine from South Africa. The family is in their 4th generation with winemaker Abrie Beeslaar and is still making the top reds in the Stellenbosch region. The 2012 Pinotage is no exception. Complex, big, yet elegant, this wine’s deep red fruit flavors and ripe tannin structure make it a natural with lamb dishes. Aged 17 months in French oak (75% new), this wine could age up to 20 years, if you can wait… Or open it now and enjoy one of the great wines from South Africa!
2013 Kanonkop Kadette, Stellenbosch, $14.99/Sale $13.99: The “Cape Blend,” as they call it, has a deep ruby color with ripe raspberries, black currents, and mocha flavors on the nose. On the palate you will find a collection of dark chocolate and blackberries. A great wine to enjoy a cool fall night with some slow Italian food such as a mushroom risotto. Biodynamic and vegan friendly, this is a great value.
2012 Thelema Mountain Red, Stellenbosch, $14.99/Sale $13.99: An icon in the South African wine landscape, Thelema was recently rated one of the world’s top 100 wine estates. The Mountain Red, a blend of Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache and a smidge of Cabernet Franc (whew!), offers that pedigree in an affordable package. Spicy aromas of black pepper and mulberry mingle with plum flavors for a soft, approachable wine. Great for a date night at the house with a pizza or something off of the grill.
2011 Glenelly Glass Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, $16.99/Sale $15.99: Located on the southern slopes of the Simonsberg, Glenelly is owned by May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, a fixture in Bordeaux and former owner of Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, a classified Second Growth in Pauillac. Struck by the tremendous potential of South Africa’s terroir and the beauty of the country, Madame de Lencquesaing decided to embark on a French adventure on African soil. Glenelly’s estate vineyards are characterized by decomposed granite and sandstone soils, on cooler east-facing slopes unusual for Stellenbosch. This location allows for slower, more even ripening, resulting in wines of great elegance and finesse, such as this charming Cabernet. Deep ruby red, with a nose of currants, smoky oak and herbs, the wine is just shy of full bodied, with deep, dark fruits on the palate. The oak is not prominent. There is good length to this, and the tannins are dusty but firm, framing the fruit nicely. The Bordeaux influence is obvious. It’s something different, and something good.