Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Brancott Sauvignon Blanc 2008

I am not, as a rule, a big fan of Sauvignon Blancs. They tend to congregate at the ends of the spectrum, being either bland or excessively fruity. The New Zealands are an exception to the rule, however, and this is a nice wine. It comes on with a breathtaking intensity of light fruit flavors, has an alluring nose and, if it doesn't last on the palate as long as some of its brothers from smaller vineyards, can't be said to disappear instantly. It went beautifully with broiled salmon fillets, which can easily overpower a white. The PA price ($12.99) though is is decidedly an overreach (N.J. $10.99). So much for "mass purchasing power".

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Don David Tannat Reserve 2004

This organically produced Argentine red is almost on a level with that vineyard's ( now in Austrian hands ) Torrontes. It exhibits a subtle but pleasing nose and a lovely, balanced blend of dark fruit and oak and lasts well on the tongue. It complimented roast pork wonderfully. It is presently being remaindered in select stores in PA for a truly ludicrous $4.99. If you find any, buy all you can.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Alamos Torrontes 2007

The Torrontes grape has been brought into full form in Argentina. This white, while not quite on a level with the Don David, is nevertheless a superior product. It greets the palate with an almost explosive burst of white fruit, tempered with just the right degree of acidity. My only complaint is that the finish is not as long lasting as one would wish it to be. Ideal as an accompaniment to shell fish, although we had it with veal cutlets and it worked just fine. $11.99 in PA, which strikes me as being on the high side (On sale in NJ at $7.99)..

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Carlos Basso Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Let's be clear about one thing: This Argentinian from the Mendoza valley is no great shakes. It has all of the aloofness of the Sauvignon Blanc without the characteristic edge. Having said that, however, I would like to add that it is a very pleasant, utterly drinkable little wine, with a nicely delineated fresh fruit character. If you are'nt looking for a notable tasting experience but merely want a white to go along with an everyday meal at a reasonable price, it will do very nicely. And, at the present sale price of $4.99, it can't be beat. There is utter plonk that sells for more than that in PA.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Valdubon 2006

Spain's Ribera del Duero, stretching westward from Valladolid to the Portuguese border, produces many fine reds, including the fabled Vega Sicilia. This, however, is by no means among the foremost examples of the region's products, lacking the full bodied presence that characterizes the best of them. What we have here is a nice enough, unpretentious wine, with noticeable dark fruit accents and a strong tannin content. The rather strong acidic aftertaste makes it a good accompaniment to assertive red meats such as steak. $9.99.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Don David Torrontes Reserve 2006

This Argentinian white, grown at mile high altitude, is a marvelous wine. The nose promises a rich but subtly blended mixture of fruits and the wine more than makes good on that promise. The finish is strong and lasting, with every sip one regrets that one is that much nearer the end of the bottle. Now the bad news: On the PLCB web site it lists for $21.19, which would put it well outside the parameters I have set for myself. However, we bought this bottle at a PA closeout sale for $8.99. If you come across any of it at that price, buy all there is of it without giving the matter a second thought.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Norton Malbec 2006

This Argentinian Malbec is a medium bodied wine in which the tannins seem to prevail over the red fruit notes. It is thus very dry and slightly acidic in the finish. It will do well with such assertive dishes as barbecued ribs but was not quite subtle enough for our veal goulash. The price, $8.99 in PA, is on the high side for what you're getting (NJ $6.99).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Vionta Albarino 2006

This is a Rios Baxas from Galicia in NW Spain . These wines have lately emerged as the "new wave" of Spanish whites, noted for their pronounced, sometimes assertive flavor. The Vionta is a robust, straw colored white. It announces itself with a spicy aroma of tree fruits. with more than a hint of lemon. It is crisp and refreshing on the palate and has a reasonable finish. It might well be drunk as an aperitif, or, more commonly, with white fish. The present sale price of $9.99 is very acceptable.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gougenheim Malbec 2007

This is a young but richly flavored full bodied wine. It exhibits the characteristic Argentinian Malbec combination of intense red fruit flavor and just enough tannin to keep it honest. The nose is good , the color is an intense red and the finish is relatively long lasting. At the present sale price of $8.99 it represents good value. I would recommend it as an accompaniment to most grilled meats as well as to roast chicken, which was our choice.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dragani Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2006

This bottle constitutes what might be called, without condescension, a nice little country wine. It comes from a mountainous part of Italy on the Adriatic side.
While Montepulciano has a long history as a wine producing region, most of the smaller wineries are relatively new to the export market। This wine, in particular, while quite unpretentious, has a nice, warm quality which qualifies it as an everyday accompaniment to a good many meat dishes। The overall taste,earthy but largely free of tannin, lasts a longish time on the palate। There's a pleasant bit of fire at first taste।At the present sale price of $7.99 it constitutes good value.

Lindemans Cawara 2007

No, I have not suddenly been bereft of my senses. I am fully aware that Lindemans is a huge South East Australian operation that produces wine by the tanker load for the mass market. While their reserve wines are generally quite nice, their ordinary product borders dangerously near on plonk, and I am familiar with Evelyn Waugh's dictum that life is too short to drink plonk. In particular, their reds are at fault, the Cabernet having so much tannin that it is all but acidic, the Shiraz being far too unripe and fruity. The Cawara is a blend of these two grapes which cuts back on both the excessive tannins and the overly present fruit flavor. Still, as it comes out of the bottle, the latter element is still too assertive, the result being what the English call a plummy flavor--just somewhat too nice. But, and this is a big but, as I discovered once purely serendipetously, if you put the bottle in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before drinking, this undesirable quality is greatly reduced and what you're left with is a very pleasant and nicely balanced mix of berry tastes which lasts nicely on the tongue. And the price, at present on sale at $11.50 for the one-and-a-half liter bottle, is certainly right.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

La Hitaire Les Tours 2006

The Gascon whites deserve to be far better known than, in fact, they are. In general, they tend to be carefully crafted and, mostly, they have a distinctive and pleasing character. This bottle, a blend of Ugni Blanc, Colombard and Gros Manseng, combines a very pleasing fruity quality with a strong spicy note. For a "vin de pays", which is what it is, it reaches an amazingly high level. It accompanied our Maryland crab cakes beautifully, without in the least overpowering At $9.99 it represents good value for money. At this price level it far outstrips the New Zealand and South African whites which are presently so much in fashion. I shouldn't think it will be long lasting, but I would certainly recommend buying some bottles for drinking now.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Montecillo Crianza 2004

This Rioja red, made from the tempranillo grape, has a pleasant, fresh, fruity quality which remains constant. It is a nice accompaniment to the stronger red meats. We had it with lamb, whose pronounced character can make it problematic,for wines, and it turned out just fine. The winery is owned by the Osborne sherry combine, which, at the cost of individuality, does make for predictable quality. At present it is priced at $11.99 in PA ($8.99 NJ), which is too much, but it has gone on sale not too long ago. If it does again, I would recommend that you pick up some bottles.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Las Rocas

This Las Rocas de San Alejandro 2006 ($11.95, although difficult to find, at least in this part of the state) is a truly good buy. Although it does not claim to be a crianza, it is nevertheless aged for six months in American oak. It exhibits all the good qualities of the grenache grape- restraint, fullness, a very even effect on the palate (the taste is there pretty much at once and does not fade rapidly) and (yes, but it really is unmistakable) a dark cherry flavor. It complemented our steak very nicely, without trying to compete with it. This wine comes from one of the best locations in the Aragonese province of Zaragoza, the hillsides surrounding the town of Calatayud. For the history buffs among you, this is near where Al Mansur, the Moslem scourge of Christendom, who at one time sacked both Barcelona and Santiago de Compostella, carrying off the bells of its cathedral, was finally defeated and slain in the year 1002.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Marques de Caceres white

This bottle of Marques de Caceres white 2007 was bought in the Hummelstown store some four months ago. The cost was $9.99 (NJ price $7.99. At one point this wine was put on sale at that price in PA, but it sold out in one day and reordering proved impossible). For reasons best known to the PA Liquor Authority, not only it, but the reds from that bodega too have since disappeared from the bins. This is more than mildly astonishing, since Marques de Caceres is one of the most prominent vintners of the Rioja, as well as being the house wine of the Paradores, the government owned chain of Spanish luxury hotels.

Be that as it may, the Rioja whites undeservedly lag behind the reds in repute. When they are good, as this one certainly is, they are surprisingly light as well as unassertively fruity, but by no means sweet. This bottle would go very well with a delicately flavored fish such as sole or tilapia, which would not stand up to a more aggressive, fierier white. We had it with a super hot chilli, but that is the kind of decadence I would not urge on everyone.