Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,
I always find hope in March. The promise of spring is just around the corner. People and things come buzzing to life with new, energetic attitudes. Bright sunny days with temperatures that are just right seem commonplace. Yes, I love March. I have picked out a bevy of new deliciously, fresh wines for you all to try as you start to crack open that winter shell and begin to bud into what is going to be a beautiful month. Enjoy!
Venge ‘Silencieux’ Cabernet 2011
Napa Valley, California
Cash Price $41.49
Kirk Venge is considered one of the best wine makers in all of California. His father, Nils Venge, produced Napa Valley’s very first 100 point wine by Robert Parker with the 1985 Groth Reserve Cabernet. Kirk’s handprint is all over Napa Valley making iconic wines for smaller wineries such as Bacio Divino, Frazier, and Macauley. I find gorgeous depth and concentration in his wines with layers of flavor that integrate throughout the levels of tannins, oak and acids. There is a saying ‘Good wine makers make good wine no matter what the vintage’ and Venge proved that with this 2o11 Cabernet. Big, thick flavors of black currant and black raspberry jump into the palate with smooth, yet gripping tannins. The mid palate is rich with moderate acids that melt into a background of toasted vanillin and cedar. The finish is long with notes of clove, tobacco and milk chocolate. Silencieux received 93 points from Wine Enthusiast and 92 points from Robert Parker!
Pierre Labet Savigny Vergelelles Premier Cru Chardonnay 2011
Cash Price $35.99
Burgundy’s mystic is due to the hallowed ground that it lies on. This premier cru vineyard is just a stones throw from the historical Grand Cru vineyards of Charlemagne. This vineyard has been lovingly referred to as ‘Baby Charlie’ by renowned wine maker Francois Labet. This organically grown Chardonnay is rich and intense. Flavors of green apple and melon converge gracefully on the palate. The mid palate is wonderfully textured with a soft roundness that keeps the acidity in check. The finish is beautiful with notes of toasted oak and just a dollop of cream. The wine is well balanced and integrated. Labet is a spectacular Premier Cru at a great price. A must try for Chardonnay lovers!
Domaine Des Hautes Chassis Syrah 2009
Cash Price $28.69
Crozes-Hermitage is considered one of the premier regions in the Rhone Valley. I have consistently found some of the best wines in the world in the Rhone. Crozes-Hermitage is in the Northern Rhone and known for making some of the best Syrah on earth. Syrah is an over looked varietal by the average consumer although you would be remiss to find a Sommelier that isn’t in love with this versatile grape. Chassis is robustly textured with flavors of roasted plum and red berries that sink into the palate with plump tannins and cleverly hidden acids. Notes of singed bacon fat lingers on the mid palate with hints of garrigue and black pepper. The finish offers graphite and weathered leather on a bed of stewed fruits. This is an outstanding Syrah!
J. J. Prum Riesling Kabinett 2011
Cash Price $19.94
JJ Prum is my absolute favorite producer in the Mosel. The wines produced by this dynamic producer are some of the best and age able whites in all the world. I love Kabinett Riesling because it is not sweet per say, but more off dry with just a whiff of sweetness that counter balanced the zesty acids that are prevalent in these wines. These wines have unbelievable complexity and balance. Flavors of apple blossom, citrus and honeydew envelope the palate with pleasure. The mid palate is juicy and refreshing with excellent acidity that reaches into a core of crushed rocks and white flowers. The finish is filled with peaches, lemon lime and just a kiss of smoke that sinews deftly throughout. Robert Parker and Wine Spectator gave this wine 90 points. I would put it in the 92-93 point range.
Chateau Patache D’Aux Red Blend 20010
Cash Price $18.99
The 2010 vintage will go down in history as one of the finest that Bordeaux has ever seen. Right now is the perfect time to start drinking Bordeaux if you have yet to dip into French Cabernet and Merlot. The 2010 daily drinkers from Bordeaux are phenomenal and some of the best reds available in the market. This delicious Cabernet, Merlot blend drinks perfectly from the pop of the cork. Flavors of red currant and black cherry dance into voluptuous and supple tannins. Notes of cedar and vanilla sink into hints of leather on a full, lingering finish. Great Daily Cabernet! Wine Spectator gave this wine 90 points!
Gloria Ferrer Brut N/V
Sonoma County, California
Cash Price $16.29
I love great value sparklers. Gloria Ferrer is one of the best producers of bubbles in United States. It is consistent and a treasure in the mouth. The wine is Pinot Noir heavy (which I prefer) with just a smidgeon of Chardonnay which offers intricate nuances for such a marginal price. Deliciously tight bubbles form in the glass with flavors of red roses and cherry that dance through the palate with a lush mouth feel. Notes of green apple sit on a plethora of cream and brioche. The finish is clean and mouth watering with hints of pear and vanilla. Complex and perfectly priced!
Castilla Perelada ‘Finca La Garriga’ Samso 2007
Cash Price $24.99
Samso is a synonym for Carignan in Emporda. It is typically a blending grape in most of the world, but truly impressive single varietal expressions pass through my palate from time to time. The Garriga vineyard is the source of Perelada’s oldest vines which have an average age of 50 years. This dynamic red is drinking quite well right now with 8 years of age in the barrel and bottle. Flavors of densely roasted red cherries and plum sink into rounded, yet still firm tannins. The mid palate delivers darker fruits of blackberry with tinges of red flowers and violets. The finish is long and full with bits of caramel, coffee beans and vanilla. Wine Advocate gave this wine 90 points. I think it is drinking closer to 92 points right now.
Ca’Momi Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Napa Valley, California
Cash Price $17.99
Ca’Momi is one Spec’s gem Cabernet’s for under $20. This American winery with Italian roots produces excellent value wines across the board. This 100% Cabernet is wonderfully complex with flavors of ripe cassis and black cherry. The wine has been aged for 18 months in oak and it shows on the palate. Notes of spice integrate through the balanced tannins and acids. The finish offers plush hints of currant, cream and toasted oak. Chocolate mocha sits on the palate for a good long time. Excellent Value Cabernet!
Marchesi Incisa ‘Valmorena’ Barbera d’Asti 2011
Cash Price $14.99
I love Barbera. It is northern Italy’s workhorse grape and is best produced in the hills of Asti. This unabashedly fruit forward wine is completely un-oaked and bursting with excitement. Flavors of bright maraschino cherries sing into the palate with red flowers and violets weaving throughout the core. The tannins are minimal, but the acids are pure and refreshing. Notes of fig and red berries play through the mid palate with tinges of juicy strawberry. The finish is clean and fine with a plush core of fruits. This wine is perfect for sitting on the patio with a loved one after a long day of work.
Waterford Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Elgin, South Africa
Cash Price $14.99
Waterford is one of the highest quality wineries in all of South Africa. I originally fell in love with their Cabernet, but recently tried and loved the Sauvignon Blanc they produce. The passion put into the wines are second to none and the minerality that comes through on the palate is tantalizing. This 100% Sauvignon Blanc exudes flavors of fresh grapefruit and lemon lime with searing acids that cleanse the palate. Notes of wet rocks play through the core of this wine with smidgeons of lemon and freshly cut grass. Hints of tangerine play on the outer edges of the palate and finishes with bits of gooseberry. Truly refreshing and a perfect companion with crawfish or oysters.
Vetrice Rufina SangioveseReserva 2009
Cash Price $14.99
The sub zone of Rufina located in the region of Chianti is, in my opinion, the highest quality area in Chianti. This classic offering gives flavors of ripe cherries and cranberry with finely tuned acids and light tannins. There is a rustic undercurrent to this wine that shows bits of wet leaves and iron rich clay. The finish offers sweet and sour cherries that mingle effortlessly throughout the core. Vetrice is a great spaghetti wine or pizza wine that is perfectly priced for early and often consumption.
Chateau Lauriol Red Blend 2009
Cotes de Francs, France
Cash Price $12.99
You all will see me consistently writing up these amazingly priced wines from Bordeaux for the foreseeable future. The wines are just plain delicious. The Cotes de Francs is one of the better value regions on the right bank. The wines are dominated by Merlot, but can have Cabernet and Cabernet Franc as well. This is the ‘second’ wine of the famed Chateau Puygueraud of whom I have written of fondly in the past. Fresh and fruit forward, this wine offers flavors of black berry and cassis which play easily through the plush tannins and approachable acids. Hints of framboise concentrate on the mid palate with a smooth, lingering finish that gives bits of vanilla and mocha. Awesome Value Red!
Georges Vigoureux ‘Gouleyant’ Malbec 2012
Cash Price $11.19
The original home of Malbec is in Southern France and the region of Cahors is its most ardent supporter. Argentina may have made the grape popular, but Cahors is becoming the new darling of the Malbec world. Flavors of plump plum and wild cherry race through gracious amounts of fruit with easy, smooth tannins and acids. The finish gives rich blackberry that is encompassed by hints of violet and coffee beans. Thick and Tasty Malbec!
James C. Barlow
Certified Wine Educator