Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,
The first month of the year is in the books and ‘The Thirteen’ picks are off to a record start for the year. Thank you everyone! Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, so I will save all of the gentlemen some headaches by reviewing several selections of sparkling wines that your loved one is sure to enjoy with the ensuing chocolates and goodies. I am also reviewing a slew of other selections from France, Argentina, Italy, Australia, South Africa, and, of Course, California. Enjoy!
O. Fournier ‘Alpha Crux’ Malbec 2010
Cash Price $44.99
O. Fournier makes wines around the world, but have really found a niche in South America. The Alpha Crux name and label is based on the stars of the Southern Cross, which is a constellation only visible in the Southern hemisphere. The Mocovi Indians from Argentina captured the symbol of the ostrich, which symbolizes the joining of the earth and the sky, through paintings in the caves they inhabited and tales spun through the sands of time. This unfiltered Malbec is pure and plush from the first sup. Flavors of intense dark plum lift off into the palate with blackberry and dark currant following through the mid mouth feel. Medium tannins and acids give this wine backbone and balance with 80% French and 20% American oak aging for 20 months. Notes of roasted meat, toasted oak and a touch of peppercorn are encompassed by a plush richness that gives the wine an intensity of flavor while seducing the palate with its velvet complexity. The finish offers creamy vanilla, graham crackers, and just a touch of all spice. Wine Spectator gave this wine 94 points and was#25 on the ‘Top 100’ wines of 2014. Wine Advocate scored it with 93 points. Limited Availability!
Chateau Bouscasse Tannat 2009
Cash Price $26.99
Madiran is the home of the geeky grape Tannat in the foothills of the Pyrenees, just south of Bordeaux. Tannat is an intense grape with naturally high acidity and broad tannins, with a deep, rich character that grows well in the limestone and clay soils of Madiran. This wine is primarily Tannat based, with smidgeons of Cabernet and Cabernet Franc to add complexity and depth. Bouscasse owner, Alain Brumont was awarded ‘Producer of the Year’ in 2010. Bouscasse is unfiltered with malolactic fermentation being completed in barrel. Flavors of dark black currant and blackberry sing through ripe, yet integrated tannins and acids. Notes of plum and black pepper race through the mid palate with a rustic terroir that leaves the palate begging for more. Brumont prefers to let this brawny black grape offer its natural characteristics , while allowing the finesse rise forward in the wine to give a silky mouth feel. The finish is round and supple with hints of cream and truffles. Great Food Wine!
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs N/V
Cash Price $15.89
Gloria Ferrer is producing some of the best priced sparkling wines in the United States. I prefer Blanc de Noir, which means they use mainly red grapes in the cepage to make a white wine, because it gives the aromatics of red grapes without the heavy mouth feel. This wine is 92% Pinot Noir and 8% Chardonnay. Blanc de Noir sometimes shows just a hint of color, giving the wine a salmon tint. This delicious bubbly is divine with crisp, tight bubbles. Flavors of sweet red cherries and raspberry flow cleanly through the palate with notes of brioche and confection. Hints of butter and almonds show on the finish with tinges of creamy vanilla and rose petals. Wine Enthusiast gave this wine 90 points. It is a sure hit for your significant other on your special day!
Consilience Syrah 2012
Santa Barbara, California
Cash Price $18.99
Syrah is finally finding its home in the heart of the American wine drinker. Sommeliers and critics alike have vaunted this grape into the ‘darling’ category, yet traction for the grape has been gradual. I have noticed an intense spike in sales in the past year with Syrah and I couldn’t be happier. American Syrah is some of the best wine produced in the entire world. Consilience comes from Santa Barbara which is a hot bed for intense, richly concentrated Syrah. Bill and Jan Sanger created this brand to focus on Rhone varietal that grow so well in the central coast. Thick, rich flavors of boysenberry and black raspberry jump in a creamy core of dark chocolate and cassis. The mid palate is soft and plush with medium tannins and acids that sink into touches of kitchen spices. The finish is silky with notes of black cherry that sinew through touches of toasted oak, molasses and caramel. Consilience is a great way to fall in love with Syrah!
Meerlust Merlot 2007
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Cash Price $25.89
Meerlust is undoubtedly one of the highest quality wineries in all of South Africa. They produce Iconic wines that are age worthy and classic. This wine is tailor made for a big slab of meat roasted in a peppercorn rub and a plate of vegetables. Flavors of red currant and wild berries are eloquently pronounced through medium plus tannins and medium acids. Notes of green and black pepper lick easily through the minerality with hints of dark mocha and stewed plums. Meerlust Merlot is well structured with age worthy quality, but is showing hues of brick color, which lead me to believe this wine will be peaking within the next couple of years. Perfect Rodeo Rib Wine!
Calcareous ‘Twisted Paso’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Paso Robles, California
Cash Price $17.99
The Calcareous ‘Twisted Paso’ (formerly Twisted Sister) line has become one of the best selling wine selections in Spec’s entire portfolio. They produce a wine with silky smooth approachability that is heaven on the palate. Lush flavors of blackberry and currant flow seamlessly through the palate with licks of milk chocolate and cedar. The mid palate give medium tannins and acids that are soft and integrated. The core offers creamy blueberry with notes of leather and cigar box. The finish offers hints of graham cracker and toasted oak with smidgeons of vanilla and cinnamon. Awesome Value Cab!
D’Arenberg ‘Footbolt’ Old Vine Shiraz 2011
McLaren Vale, Australia
Cash Price $17.19
D’Arenberg has consistently been one of my favorite Aussie wineries for years under the loving care of their eccentric wine maker Chester Osborn. The Footbolt name comes from the thoroughbred racehorse and stable that founder Joseph Osbourn decided to sell to start his winery. This wine is his homage to that history. Footbolt offers restraint that I prefer in wines from Australia. Flavors of fleshy mulberry, black plum, and wild cherries jump off the palate with vibrant acids and medium tannins. Notes of baking spices dance sprightly through the outer palate with touches of mineral and black pepper. The finish is structured with licks of creamy vanilla bean and charred oak, from 12 months of aging in new and used barrel, that sit on the palate for a good long time. Try the Consilience and Footbolt side by side and compare the contrasting styles!
Villa Rogole Fiorosa’ Brachetto N/V
Cash Price $13.99 BUT $4.00 SAVINGS WITH YOUR SPEC’S KEY FOR A LIMITED TIME!
Brachetto is perfectly suited for Valentine’s Day. It is fully sparkling and deliciously sweet red wine. Banfi’s Rosa Regale brought this grape into popularity and it has become a staple for the upcoming holiday. Villa Rogole is of the same ilk and offers light alcohol with refreshingly fun bubbles. Flavors of ripe red strawberries and cherries dance melodically through the palate with effortless ease. Bubbles weave through licks of rose petals and soft strokes of sweetness. The finish is supple and inviting. Find love with your love for Valentine’s Day with Fiorosa!
Trig Point ‘Diamond Dust’ Merlot 2013
Alexander Valley, California
Cash Price $15.99
Nick Goldschmidt is one of my favorite wine makers. He consistently crafts wines of high quality in different climates and even hemispheres. His father was a land surveyor and a ‘Trig’ is used to establish boundary lines. Goldschmidt’s Trig Point wines show the unique soils of the area he gets the grapes from, namely Alexander Valley. The vineyard is located on the southern (and cooler) end of Alexander Valley which makes it prime territory for producing low yield, high quality Merlot. Flavors of intense black cherry and blackberry jump into zesty acids and well rounded tannins. Notes of raspberry and freshly picked plum meld into the core of the wine with touches of graphite and dusty minerality. The finish is dangerously long with 12 months of French oak aging in 20% new barrels and just a touch of new American oak which gives hints of creamy vanilla bean, cinnamon, and cedar. The finish smacks of blueberry pie!
Chateau Le Conseiller Red Blend 2010
Cash Price $19.94
This offering from famed Wine maker Jean Philippe Janoueix is brilliant. Conseiller is one of Bordeaux’s best offerings for the price point and in one of the best vintages in recent history. The wine is a no brainer for Old World lovers. Flavors of blackberry and cassis layer into graphite and dense minerality. The wines has medium plus tannins and acid which make it age worthy, but Janoueix makes his wines quite accessible in their youth. The mid palate softens into touches of cream and currant with touches of iron. The finish is complex and well balanced with notes of cedar, leather, and tobacco. This Wine Rocks! Wine Advocate scored this wine 90 points. Great Rating at a Great Price!
Les Tuiles Chardonnay 2013
Cash Price $11.89
I have a true love for Chardonnay, especially the un oaked style. I enjoy the ripe deliciously fresh fruit that this wine offers. Vibrant flavors of fresh yellow apples and meyer lemon citrus zing through clean acids. Fleshy pear and pineapple lead the mid palate with touches of crushed wet rocks. The finish offers a soft, creamy texture that is a perfect ending for this wine. Fresh and Un Oaked!
Dauvergne Ranvier ‘Vin Gourmand’ Red Blend 2013
Cash Price $12.19
Jean-Francois Ranvier and Francois Dauvergne are the masterminds behind the various Rhone Valley wines from this winery. This southern Rhone, Grenache based red offers silky finesse that Luberon wines have become known for on the clay and limestone soils near the Mediterranean. Gourmand offers flavors of red currant and red cherries mingled with wild red berries. Notes of garrigue are evident throughout with tinges of basil and thyme. Plum is prevalent in the mid palate with medium tannins and acids. The finish is smooth and user friendly. Some of the best priced value red wines in the world come from the Southern Rhone. Great Daily Red!
Peirano ‘Immortal’ Old Vine Zinfandel 2012
Cash Price $11.99
Peirano Zinfandel is an estate grown wine developed in a vintage that was perfect for making spectacular Zinfandel. So, when 113 year old vines in a perfect vintage are harvested, you get something special in the bottle. Fermented to dryness, this Immortal wine exudes flavors of rhubarb, bramble, and black cherry that zing through the palate. The mid palate shows hints of strawberry and juicy red fruits with notes of spice and roasted meat through medium tannins and medium minus acids. The finish is lengthy and begs for some brisket! A Zin to Remember!
James C. Barlow
Certified Wine Educator