CALIFORNIA AND OREGON
2012 MacRostie Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, CA, $22.99/Sale $19.99: The grapes for this Chardonnay come from several outstanding vineyards including Sangiacamo in southern Sonoma and Saralee’s and Dutton Ranch in the Russian River Valley. The various sites knit together well resulting in a gentle and harmonious Chardonnay with a creamy, elegant texture. There’s honeysuckle in the nose and tangerine, pear and a touch of vanilla caramel in the flavors. This is very appealing! Wine & Spirits Magazine, 92 Points, “Best Buy”
2012 Knock on Wood Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, OR, $19.99/Sale $17.99: Former sommelier at The French Laundry and Per Se, Andrew Mack is now crafting terrific garage-style wines like this stylish unoaked Chardonnay. If you like Burgundy, but don’t want to shell out that much money, give this a try. Showing honeydew on the nose and pretty pear flavors, it is best served on the patio on a sunny day with fish, but would go well anywhere.
2012 Franciscan Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, Ca, $15.99/Sale $11.99: Clean, crisp, not too assertive, this fragrant, floral and juicy wine presents an intense but balanced mix of honeysuckle, apple and lemon zest notes. Great on a warm spring day. Wine Spectator, 88
2013 Bonny Doon Vineyard Clos de Gilroy, Monterey County, Ca, $16.99/ Sale $14.99: This GSM (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre) comes from the delightful Randall Grahm, our recent guest winemaker at the Wine Festival. This wine has a very pretty, opalescent ruby color, an exceptional spicebox nose and notes of strawberry and rhubarb. You will find very soft, plush tannins in the mouth – this is the genius of Grenache. Best served with a slight chill, especially as the weather warms up. Reminiscent of a Beaujolais, but a little heartier. 91 points, Wine Spectator
2010 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Ca, $79.99/Sale $73.99: We taste a lot of Napa Cabernets and like them, particularly when they are aged, but this really struck us as being extraordinarily good. It has deep, dark blackberry /black cherry/cola aromas and flavors with a touch of cedar. The winery embraces proven, old-world winemaking methods, using native yeast, natural secondary fermentation, and minimal racking with no fining or filtering. They state that they strive for balance with regard to alcohol, PH and oak. We think they succeeded in achieving that in this Cabernet. That balance, along with supple tannins and rich flavors, makes the wine very enticing. You can enjoy this wine now if you decant it and give it some breathing time or you can put it in the cellar. It will age beautifully for 10-15 years.
A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of tasting through an array of Ridge wines. Ridge has been making exceptional single vineyard wines since 1962. The winery has been under the direction of the highly esteemed winemaker, Paul Draper, since 1969. They make 14 different Zinfandels … we selected two for you to try. Both are delicious but differ greatly from each other in style. And, don’t miss the Chardonnay… it dazzled us all. -PM
2012 Ridge Estate Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA, $47.99: Ridge produced its first Chardonnay in 1962 from fully-mature vines planted in the late 1940s on the Monte Bello estate vineyard. The cool climate and fractured limestone sub-soils are well suited to the varietal. Tropical notes of ripe pineapple, fig, and honeysuckle come through on the nose with apple and pear on the palate. The wine is well balanced with just the right amount of oak, richness and acidity. Just nine cases came into Colorado, so get some fast before it’s gone.
2012 Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel, Benito Dusi Ranch, Central Coast, CA, $31.99/Sale $28.99: The Benito Dusi Vineyard was planted to Zinfandel in 1922, which is unusual because Prohibition had started two years earlier. This is 100% old vine Zinfandel and it tastes like it with juicy black cherry and berry flavors sprinkled with peppery spice. It’s not over the top, but you’ll definitely know it’s Zinfandel. Roll out the barbecue grill.
2012 Ridge Geyserville, Sonoma, CA, $35.99: 71% Zinfandel, with a dash of Carignane, and a dollop of Petit Sirah, Mourvedre and Alicante Bouschet, this wine is complex. It does not have the forward, juicy fruit of the previous Zin. It is more subtle with bramble fruit, wintergreen, licorice, and sweet toasted oak in the bouquet and flavors, all combined with a bit of gravel/rock minerality. This wine is not to be missed. It is certainly one of Ridge’s flagships.
2011 Scott Harvey Barbera, Amador County, CA, $18.99/Sale $16.99: Originally from the Piedmont region of Italy, Barbera flourishes in Amador County. Extremely versatile with food, this wine is bright and fresh with earthy aromas and tastes of fresh blackberry and raspberry with cola notes. We’ve known Scott for many years and we attended a dinner featuring his wines at 2South a month or two ago. This was the hit of the evening!
2011 Ca’Momi Rosso di Napa, Napa Valley, $12.99/SALE 11.99: We don’t know what the blend is on this red wine because the winery doesn’t tell us, but we like it. It’s quaffable with black cherry, red currant, mocha and spice flavors. Perfect for a summer party! Wine Enthusiast, 88 Points, Editors’ Choice
2013 Trisaetum Dry Riesling, Willamette Valley, $17.99: As a family business with three generations working side-by-side, Trisaetum (tris-say-tum) is a blossoming winery exclusively producing Riesling and Pinot Noir in the heart of Oregon’s Ribbon Ridge AVA. This Riesling is Halbtrocken (half dry) in a clean, vibrant style. Really outstanding domestic Riesling! Just 712 cases were produced from sustainably farmed grapes.
2011 Trisaetum Vineyards Trisae Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $22.99/Sale $19.99: This and the above Riesling are new to us and we are really happy to have discovered them. Trisae Pinot is characterized by its red and dark cherry fruit and spice with a touch of smoke. It has a round texture and lingering finish. This is a great value in a classic Oregon Pinot Noir. Number 23 in Wine & Spirits’ Top 50 Restaurant Wines
2012 La Croix Peyrassol, $18.99/ Sale $16.99: This cuvée is the result of a close collaboration between the US importer, Rosenthal Wine Merchant, and the team at Peyrassol, located in the heart of Provence. The first recorded vintage on this property, which was founded by the Knights Templar, was 1256. Composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, this blend highlights the fresh wild berry fruits of the region married to a firm minerality that provides structure and discipline to the wine. It has some earthiness…but not too much. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in stainless and concrete. Really good! 1,000 cases produced.
2011 Auvigue Mâcon Solutré, $23.99/Sale $21.99: Hailing from the sunny Mâconnais, this is the pure expression of Chardonnay. Pale gold with green tints, the wine’s balance between fruit, acid and minerality is perfect and leads to a long and satisfying finish. Definitely a step above the typical Macon. Superb!
2012 Domaine De La Herré La Galope Sauvignon Blanc, Côtes de Gascogne, $10.99/ Sale $9.99: This is perfect for lovers of light, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc. All the grassy and citrus flavors are here, attractively crisp while not aggressive. Reminiscent of the Loire, vibrant, fruity with a citrus nose, this lovely wine is best enjoyed as an aperitif or with first courses, mixed salads, seafood, or fresh cheeses.
2010 Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre, Gondonne, $28.99: 100% Chardonnay. If this was a 1er cru Chablis you would be delighted. It is very Chablis in style, but fuller and rounder, with complex brine, lees, honey and stone fruit. aromas and flavors. It finishes long with verve and precision. We simply cannot recommend this highly enough.
2010 Château Les Quatre Filles Rochegude, Côtes Du Rhone Village, $15.99/ Sale $13.99: An equal blend of organically grown Grenache and Syrah aged one year in oak. Notes of tobacco and terroir complement the fruit in this biodynamic wine. It’s delicious… and a steal at this price! Pairs well with grilled meats – get some and fire up the charcoal.
2011 Château Haut-Lamouthe. Moelleux, Côtes de Bergerac, $11.99: Coming from the left bank of the Dordogne River, this slightly sweet 50/50 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend is mid-bodied throughout, displaying lush notes of pear and tropical fruits with light acidity. Terrific on its own as an aperitif, with dessert, or paired with light pork dishes or foie gras, if you have some on hand!
2012 DeForville Langhe Nebbiolo , Piemonte, $22.99: A selection of Nebbiolo from the younger vines of the family’s Barbaresco Crus, with an average vine age of 30 years. With tart cherry flavors, a great earthy note carrying across the palate, and pleasantly rustic tannins, it is complex enough to be served with a serious meat or pasta dish, but light enough to be happily consumed with a hamburger at a summer cookout.
2012 Borgo Conventi Pinot Grigio, Collio, $15.99/Sale $14.99: From Friuli in the northeast of Italy, this wine’s elegant and fruity bouquet leads to a well-structured harmonious body with a long-lingering finish. Good acidity and amazing minerality throughout. Definitely a step up from the everyday Pinot Grigios out there.
Taylor and I attended a lunch with Antonio Zaccheo, Jr. of the Tuscan winery, Carpineto, several weeks ago. We tasted six of their wines and were very impressed by the style which is true to tradition. The wines are quite approachable due, in part, to the extensive bottle aging Carpineto gives to most of their portfolio before release. Carpineto was founded in 1967 by Giovanni Sachel and Antonio Zaccheo, Sr. It was featured as one of Italy’s Rising Stars in the May 2013 issue of Decanter magazine. We highly recommend the five wines listed below. -PM
2007 Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva, $32.99/ Sale $29.99: Intriguing aromas of ripe blackberry, leather, exotic spice and tobacco made us love this wine immediately. Then we tasted this complex, elegant wine and knew we’d found a winner. Carpineto’s practice of aging wines much longer than is required is a huge bonus for the consumer. This 2007 Vino Nobile is the current release and it has already been aged six years. It is drinking beautifully. Wine Enthusiast gave this delicious wine 92 points.
2012 Carpineto Dogajolo Toscano, $11.99: Sangiovese with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon – this young “Super –Tuscan” wine shows fruity and intense flavors, with hints of berries, coffee, vanilla and spice with supple tannins and a long finish. Would pare well with a roast, grilled meats or, why not, pizza and pasta dishes. A screaming deal.
2009 Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva, $26.99/ Sale $23.99: Carpineto has chosen to age this wine longer than the two years required by appellation rules for a Riserva and to make it from 100% Sangiovese. The bouquet of this Riserva has raspberry, currant and violet notes and is followed by generous warm flavors with an earthy spice aspect. Would be wonderful with grand roasts or game dishes or a homemade lasagna. We can’t recommend it enough.
2007 Carpineto Farnito Cabernet Sauvignon, $37.99/ Sale $33.99: Cabernet Sauvignon farmed from the hillsides of Florence and Siena, this wine’s nose is complex, with hints of spices, tobacco, vanilla and cherries. The flavor is rich and persistent, with elegant tannins and a silky finish. Dark, brooding and masculine, the Wine Enthusiast gave it 92 points. If you love aged California Cabernets, try this. The value is unbelievable. Extensive cellaring will be rewarded, so buy enough to have some later as well as now.
2011 Carpineto Spolverino Toscano, $14.99: Carpineto decided to sweep away centuries’ old customs and bottled one of their best wines with the modern convenience of screw cap technology. A traditional blend of Sangiovese produced from historic hillside, dry farmed Tuscan vineyards, this wine is basically Chianti Classico but can’t be called as such because of rules about using cork. Hence whimsical the label depicting the Chianti rooster sweeping up corks! Classic red cherry with tobacco aromas and juicy richness, it will sweep you off your feet.
2010 Paolo Manzone Dolcetto d’Alba, Piemonte, $19.99/Sale $16.99: Rustic hints of licorice, rose hips, juniper and pine provide an Old World character to this Dolcetto. The fruit itself is black and smoky, like cherries muddled with herbs. A rich brew and a conversation starter, this will match braised lamb. Wine & Spirits Magazine, 91 Points, “Best Buy”
2011 Marchesi Incisa Grignolino d’Asti, Piemonte, $17.99: The wine derives its name from the Piemontese dialect word grignole, which means grape seeds. The Grignolino grape has a lot of these seeds, responsible for great tannic structure. So light in its red color that you might mistake it for a Rosé, but it is not. It has bright acidity, a firm tannic backbone and a lighter body weight that make it a great choice for a summer wine.
2009 Abadia Retuerta, $38.99/Sale $34.99: Combining the richness of a Tempranillo, the elegance of a Cabernet Sauvignon and the strength of a Syrah, this wine is dark red in color with a clean, complex and fresh nose. On the palate, it has an intense fruity touch, mainly red fruits, with undertones of chocolate, toffee and licorice in the background. Aged 16 months in French and American oak barrels, the wood infuses notes of cedar, pastry and dark roasting. It attacks the palate politely but firmly. Quite exceptional!
Hillinger Secco NV, $21.99/Sale $18.99: 100% Pinot Noir crafted into a sparkling rose made in the Prosecco style. It has delicate aromas and flavors of fresh strawberries and raspberries. Vibrant and refreshingwith a dry finish, it’s the perfect wine for Mother’s Day!
ARGENTINA AND CHILE
2010 Zolo Reserve Malbec, Argentina, $19.99/Sale $17.99: This Malbec has a rich blueberry flavor with touches of chocolate and vanilla. It’s smooth and velvety and has some complexity, which can’t be said for all Malbecs! Owner Patricia Ortiz spends much of the week working in Mendoza, leaving her husband alone in Buenos Aires. Hence, the name Zolo (solo).
2010 Koyle Cabernet Sauvignon Royale, Alto Colchagua, Chile, $26.99/Sale $23.99: We recently hosted Koyle winemaker Cristóbal Undurraga, a 5th generation Chilean winemaker, at the Wine Festival, and he and his biodynamic wines were Fest favorites. Coming from a unique terroir bordering the Andes, this top line Cabernet is ages 18 months in French oak. Is complex, layered and elegant – perfect with that rib eye steak you’ve been craving. 91 points, Wine Spectator
2010 Primus Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley, Chile, $18.99/Sale $16.99: An elegant wine with plum and cassis aromas that lead to rich, ripe, and balanced red berry flavors. The grapes are hand-picked, double sorted, fermented and left on the skins after fermentation to extract deep color and rich flavors. The best lots of the vintage are selected, married to blend harmoniously and aged in French oak for a minimum of 12 months. This is a serious Cab!