2010 Westerly Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley, $14.99: Certainly a style of Sauvignon Blanc we’ve yet to encounter. It’s not citrus or herbal. But complex and intriguing. Perhaps the cause of all this is that the wine comes from the warm foothills of the Santa Ynez Valley. A singular experience to say the least.
2011 Les Cousins Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $34.99/$26.99: The winemaker, Mike Etzel, is an old friend of ours. Still we can be objective about his wines. If in doubt, check out the wine press and see the raves his Beaux Freres winery continually attracts. This is a lighter, fine, sensuous Pinot. As one of our Courtesy Clerks bugled, “Tastes just like Vosne-Romanee” (one of the most revered Burgundies).
2011 La Guera White, Central Coast, $19.99: An idiosyncratic blend of Viognier, Albarino and Chardonnay. It’s a soft and easy slamming white. Winery owner and founder, Edgar Torres, calls it a “fiesta wine.” Could be, our Courtesy Clerks started dancing the “Harlem Shake” after a couple glasses.
2011 Coppola Rosso, Califronia, $9.99/Sale $7.99: Certainly not as bloody as The Godfather. But this is a wine you could see Don Corleone drinking every night with the “famiglia.” A soft, round, delicious red with a touch of Sicilian feistiness. Just don’t let Sonny drink too much. We think Michael could handle a couple drams.
2010 Domaine Saint-Damien Gigondas, $31.99: Gigondas has been one the constant stars of the Rhone river valley. Granted the prices have risen in the last ten years, but they are still are less expensive than Chateauneuf-du-Pape. And they can provide equal pleasure. This gives you composed Papal flavors derived from Grenache and Mourvedre grapes. And, if you have never visited the village of Gigondas, it is to see or dream of over a bottle of this lovely wine.
2011 Bousquet du Sanglier Viognier, VDP Vauclues, $10.99: Good grief what a pretty Viognier from southern France. It’s so crisp and clean, and to the point. There is none of the “bubble gum viscosity” that infects so many Viogniers from heated southern climes. Plus, it is organic too.
2012 Commanderie de la Bargemone Rose, Coteaux D’aix-En-Provence, $16.99: The lightest of hues and delicious aromas of strawberries, apple and red currents. It is without doubt our “coy seducer” of roses this year.
2012 Domaine De Fontsainte, Corbieres, Gris De Gris, $15.99: Always one of our stalwart roses. And the latest vintage has just come over the transom. It’s fresh, clean, satisfying awaiting a windy day in Corbieres or a serene spring afternoon on your back deck. There is also some food potential here.
2010 Mas Carlot, Clairette de Bellegarde, $12.99/Sale $10.99: Talk about exotica! This is a shockingly small production white wine produced between Nimes and Arles, yes, where Van Gogh’s famous yellow bedroom existed. It can only be made from the Clairette grape. Anyway, it has a pale golden color with seductive floral aromas of honeysuckle and violets. The fruit is soft and the acidity low. Something to drink on the broken bridge in Avignon and watch the Rhone River trickle by.
2011 Domaine de Bernier Chardonnay, Val De Loire, $11.99/Sale $10.99: Here’s an unusual Chardonnay from the Loire River Valley, where Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc normally reign. It’s a crisp, clean Chardonnay with some unusual characteristics. We’d like to try it with some Loire river fish or sea urchins from the west, snagged off Brittany.
2011 Domaine Fabrice Gasnier Chinon, Les Graves, $16.99: Cabernet Franc is a cryptic grape. It’s unlike Cabernet Sauvignon…normally less tannin, but not always. Here we have one in a fruitier style, with no oak. Thus you get to experience what a naked Cabernet Franc tastes like.
2009 Clos Des Moiselles, Cotes De Bourg, $14.99/Sale $13.99: You know, you can get some truly satisfying Bordeaux from lesser locales when it is a fine year. Most important, you don’t have to pay insane prices for them. This is a prime example. It comes from the “right bank,” where generally, Merlot is king. It’s full bodied, but soft, with tobacco and leather nuances in the bouquet. There are wild berries, spice and a dash of oak. A dandy intro to the world of Bordeaux without having to take a mortgage.
2011 Rojo Garnacha, Tierra De Castilla, $11.99/ Sale $9.99: Spain just keeps sending us quaffable, little delights. This velveteen beauty gives you red fruit and soft loveable flavors. You could enjoy it alone or with many foods, from lasagna to lamb chops. But, we’d prefer it at a dinner with Penelope Cruz.
2011 Rioja Madre Rios, $13.99/Sale $12.99: A unique Rioja because it is composed of the Graciano grape, not the normal Tempranillo. It seems to have a little more body than the everyday Tempranillo. In Rioja, they often say “gracias no” (no thanks) to Graciano, but this version is most agreeable.
2008 Marques De Caceres Rioja Reserva, $29.99/Sale $19.99: For us, Rioja continues to hold the top spot in Spanish red wines. Though there are scores of new contenders, most just don’t have the finesse. Not to say that we haven’t tasted some fantastic Spaniards that weren’t Rioja. But here you have that finesse and style that have made Rioja renowned the world around.
2005 Valderiz Ribera Del Duero, $33.99: Though eight years old this packs a punch. It’s dark and mouthfilling. A combination of American and French oak barrel aging provides strength, harmony and complexity. California Cab lovers would go nutty over this wine.
2008 Azelia Barolo, $39.99: This Barolo comes from the bottom reaches of the revered Castiglione Falleto hill in Barolo. Though a youngster it gives soft, approachable Barolo flavors, not the tannic brute you might expect. So there are dried roses in the nose and cherries in the flavor. A great value!
2010 Damilano Marghe, Nebbiolo d’Alba, $16.99: When you purchase Nebbiolo d’Alba from a great vintage, you almost get a wine of Barolo stature, at a third of the price. This gives the fetching cherry and dried roses of the grape, but with a tongue twisting touch of tannin. A fine intro to the greatness of the Nebbiolo grape.
2007 Casaloste Chianti Classic Riserva, $33.99/Sale $24.99: Considering the fine year and superb maker this would have to be a superlative Chianti. It is still showing youth with its dark color and firm flavors There is detectable Tuscan earth thrown in to complex matters. Could age many years more, easily a decade.
2010 Heartland Shiraz, Director’s Cut, Langhorne Creek, $33.99/Sale $30.99: Of course, Shiraz is the local hero of Australian wines. Many are a bit overtly jammy and fruity for us. Not this. It has smoke, dirt and intestinal fortitude. It easily could be taken for a top shelf Syrah from France’s Rhone Valley.
2010 Ruca Malen Petit Verdot, Mendoza, $16.99: Malbec has hogged the limelight in Argentina, but the Argentines can make estimable wines from other grape varietals as well. This lovely Petit Verdot is dark red in color. It gives you plums and cherries on the nose and dances tango in your “boca.” The tannins are soft, but serious. Try something Argentine other than Malbec.