Hello Ladies and gentlemen,
Spring is right around the corner and winter is showing its last vestiges before it digresses for warmer weather. This month I will be reviewing wines of different origins and flavor profiles throughout the world. Wine making techniques are at the highest level that the world has ever seen and that is evident in the ensuing wines. It is a perfect time to catch the wine ‘fever’ because of the high quality being produced all over the globe! Enjoy!
Perrier Jouet Grand Brut N/V
Cash Price $39.89
Perrier Jouet is one of the highest quality houses in all of Champagne. This house prides itself on offering bubbles of harmony, finesse, and elegance. The grand brut is every bit as good as the bigger houses of Moet and Chandon or Vueve Clicquot. This wine has a higher amount of Pinot Meunier in the cepage (blend) which gives this wine a unique flavor profile that is quite delicious. Jouet’s cepage is driven by Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with Chardonnay rounding out the blend. Delicate bubbles flow seamlessly through the palate with flavors of bright cherry, meadow flowers and honeysuckle. The mid palate softens into a delicate core of Bosc pear and green apples with integrated acids. It is the finish that takes this wine to the next level. Notes of vanilla wafers and confection lay on hints of buttered pecan and hazelnuts that linger on the palate till the next sup. SPECtacular bubbles!
Buoncristiani ‘OPC’ Red Blend 2010
Napa Valley, California
Cash Price $47.49
The Buoncristiani Brothers were born and raised in Napa Valley. Wine is in their blood. They produce small quantities of very high quality wines that have always truly impressed me. They strive to create optimum complexity while retaining balance and varietal character. I like it when a winemaker blends Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Those two varietals make up a lion’s share of this blend with touches of Malbec and Merlot to finish up the cepage. The grapes come from pedigreed sites such as the famed Stagecoach vineyard. Silky rich flavors of jammy plum and black currant sinew through a thick, creamy mouth feel. Medium tannins and acids lead into notes of vanilla, tobacco, and just a touch of smoked meat. The finish shows off 20 months of French oak aging with hints of toasted oak, charcoal and cinnamon. This wine is ridiculously sleek. Wine Advocate gave this wine 92 points. Limited availability!
Francois Labet Chardonnay
Pouilly Fuisse, France
Cash Price $27.99
Pouilly Fuisse is located in the Maconnais and is highly regarded for making value Chardonnay in Burgundy. Prices inside the Cote D’Or region of Burgundy can become astronomical very quickly, so I often find myself purchasing wines in the southern portions of Burgundy. Not far from the town of Chardonnay are where the vineyards are located. What I enjoy most about the area is rare use of new oak as almost everyone ages their wines in either used oak barrels or (more often) stainless steel vats. Labet offers flavors of fleshy green apples, citrus and melon. The acids are well integrated but serve their purpose on the backbone. The mid palate offers a minerality of crushed cobblestone with lemon lime zest. The finish is chalked full of pear with smidgeons of white pepper, guava and just a touch of key lime pie. Excellently balanced Chardonnay.
Chateau Cote Montpezat ‘Cuvee Compostelle’ Red blend 2010
Cotes de Castillon, France
Cash price $22.99
The best Bordeaux values can typically be found in the Cotes de Bordeaux regions. Castillion is on the right bank of Bordeaux and therefore a high volume of the wine is Merlot based. Flavors of red cherries and plum play into medium plus tannins and medium acids. Notes of mouthwatering spices and herbs play through the mid palate. The finish is long and filled with hints of cedar, leather, and just a touch of licorice. As is always evident, the 2010’s are stunning. Wine Spectator gave this wine 90 points.
St. Michael Eppan Pinot Grigio 2013
Alto Adige, Italy
Cash price $16.99
Pinot Grigio has become one of the more popular white wines in the world, but did you know that the grape’s skin is actually blueish gray in color? Much like in Chapagne’s Blanc de Noir style, the varietal will not spend any time with the skins so the white juice does not retain any color. Although its origins are most likely in Germany (called grauerburgunder) or Burgundy (called Fromenteau or Pinot Beurot), it has become most famous in Northeastern Italy. It grows extremely well in the calcareous soils near the Tyrol. St. Michael Eppan is based just south of Tyrol and is producing quality Pinot Grigio at a better price point than Santa Margherita. Flavors of crisp lemon lime and green apples zing through pinpoint acids. Notes of hay and citrus continue through the mid palate with a touch of wet stone minerality. The finish offer a hint of meadow flowers and a touch of candied peach. A Must Try!
Osso Anna Merlot 2012
Napa Valley, California
Cash Price $19.94
The Buoncristiani families 2nd tier label is Osso Anna. This wine is a classic representation of Merlot. The varietal is often overlooked due to its huge success during the 1980’s which caused a glut of cheap, flavorless wine to flood the market and kill its reputation. Merlot is finally making a resurgence and the Buocristiani Brothers are showing why we should drink this age worthy varietal again. Flavors of baked plums and boysenberry sink through medium tannins and acids. Notes of violets and black cherries are pure and rich throughout the mid palate with touches of black raspberry. The finish is silky with smidgeons of cedar, cinnamon and vanilla. Fall in love with Merlot all over again!
Sonoma Highway Pinot Noir 2012
Cash Price $17.99
Talented Wine maker Michael Sebastiani (Yes, that Sebastiani family) is the genius behind this delicious Pinot Noir. He was intent on producing a juicy, fruit forward style of wine and knocked it out of the park with Sonoma Highway. The fruit comes from vines that are adjacent to the famed Gap’s Crown vineyard. Flavors of raspberry and bing cherries sink into plush acids and a cream filled core. Soft tannins integrate deftly throughout the notes if red currant and cola. The finish is rich and stuffed with vanilla bean and cinnamon spice from aging in French Oak. Sonoma Highway is built to be a crowd pleaser!
Guicciardino Strozzi Sangiovese 2012
Chianti (Colli Senesi), Italy
Cash Price $17.99
The history behind these families and this winery is almost unbelievable. Francesco Guicciardini was a political figure for whom Machiavelli was a secretary for as well as being a historian and philosopher. The Strozzi family has ties to the actual Mona Lisa (Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo). Prince Girolamo Strozzi has run the estate and his princesses were recently in town showing off the wine. The estate in San Gimignano, Villa Cusano, can boast over a thousand years of history! The wine shows flavors of freshly picked picked strawberries and tart red cherries. Notes of tomato and thyme play through the mid palate with med plus acids and medium tannins. Hints of black pepper and sage are noticeable on the un-oaked finish. This is a perfect pizza wine!
Felipe Rutini Coleccion Malbec 2012
Cash Price $18.99
I was really pleased when Felipe Rutini came back into the market. I have always enjoyed their wines, especially for the price point. This 100% Malbec is rock solid. The wine is aged for twelve months on French and American oak. Rutini offers flavors of blackberry and cassis that move quickly into mocha and coffee beans. The mid palate gives a creamy core with notes of toasted fig and almonds with medium acids and tannins. The finale shows touches of black pepper, vanilla and oak. This wine is worth every penny!
Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Western Cape, South Africa
Cash Price $12.99
Mulderbosch is widely considered one of the best wineries in South Africa. Sauvignon Blanc is what they have become famous for with wine guide author John Platter referring to it as ‘South Africa’s most celebrated Sauvignon. This 100% Sauvignon Blanc never touches oak and is known for its crisp, refreshing appeal. Delicious flavors of grapefruit and lemon lime zest zing through the palate with medium plus acids. A wet stone minerality is prevalent on the mid palate. Touches of honesuckle and green figs flow into a clean, persistent finish. A Sauvignon Blanc lovers dream!
Highway 12 Red Blend 2012
Cash Price $14.99
The Highway 12 line is also produced Michael Sebastiani. This Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet blend is a true value for the daily wine drinker. The 2012 vintage is turning out to be one of the best vintages of this decade with a bountiful harvest and perfect growing conditions. The wine from this vintage does have a touch of sweet fruit that was absent from the 2011 vintage. This wine exudes flavors of black cherry, plum, and black currant that flow through the core of this wine with medium acids and tannins. Notes of tobacco and cedar play into the mid palate with silky tannins. The finish is velvety with soft notes of vanilla bean and milk chocolate. Awesome BBQ wine for the Rodeo!
Cuesta Amontillado Medium Dry Sherry
Cash Price $12.99
Medium Dry Sherry is one of the finest aperitifs that no one is talking about. The fortified wine is quite light and refreshing with a touch of salinity on the nose. Amontillado is considered a step between Fino (dry) and oloroso (typically sweet). It is produced from 95% Palomino and 5% Pedro Ximinez. Flavors of nuts and raisins sink into a touch of salted caramel. The wine is soft, yet plush in the mouth feel with hints of hazelnut and just a touch of citrus. A great way to start the evening!
Arrowflite Chardonnay 2013
Sonoma Coast, Calimfornia
Cash Price $12.99
This Chardonnay is built to go against the likes of Kendal Jackson and La Crema Chardonnay. Rich and creamy, this wine offers flavors of pineapple and melon that quickly turns into a hedonistic creamy texture. Notes of brioche and buttered popcorn seep into medium minus acids. The finish is soft, offering butter and caramel with just a touch of citrus. Hedonistic Chardonnay!
James C. Barlow
Certified Wine Educator