Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Budini Chardonnay 2007

This rather full bodied Argentine white is sold with a good deal of hype about feral cats. That aside, it is anything but subtle, tasting strongly of citrus and apricot, with an admixture of oak. The plus side is that it will stand up to about anything, and if you can get it, as we did, at the throwaway price of $4.99, by all means buy a few bottles.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jacob's Creek Pinot Noir Reserve 2006

This red comes from what is either the largest or second largest, depending on how one counts, Australian winemaker. Their standard product is plonk, but they are capable of turning out a nice Reserve, of which this is one. There is a pleasant nose, a nice blending of dark cherry, chocolate, caramel and oak flavors, and an even finish. This makes a very agreeable sipping wine. $10.99.

Carta Vieja Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This Chilean white is presently unavailable in PA. It sells in neighboring states at a bewildering disparity of prices. We picked it up on sale in N.J. at an unbelievable $3.99. The product of a single family vineyard, it's nothing to brag about, but, if you give it a quarter of an hour to breathe in order to dissipate a first, somewhat acidic whiff, it turns out to be a nice, light blend of tropical fruit flavors which stood up nicely to our rather assertive lamb curry. Unbeatable at the price!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Almira Los Dos 2006

This Spanish red, from the Campo de Borja region, directly to the south of Navarre, is essentilly a Grenache with a small admixture of Syrah grapes. It has not been oaked. It is a pleasant drinking, full bodied country wine, with predominantly raspberry notes and a "chewy" quality which is the result of a relatively high glycerine content, that in turn results from a high alcohol level. Tannins are discernible, but not unpleasantly so. The only drawback is the price ($9.99), as it is available in more fortunate states for $7.99.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Carlos Basso Dos Fincas 2007

This Argentine red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The result is a smooth, agreeable wine that will go with about any red meat or can be sipped as an aperitif. There is an element of dark fruit, probably plum, combined with tannin. This is not by any means a memorable wine, but not much can be said against it either. $9.99.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Domaine de Gournier Merlot 2004

I have to admit that I'm not a fan of Merlot. The smoky taste and the hints of licorice generally put me off. However this French red from the mountainous Cevennes region, on the border of Provence and Languedoc, is a nice, uncomplicated country wine. It comes from a small grower rather than from one of the mega vineyards of the region which flood France with "vin ordinaire" and exhibits a decent blend of red fruit flavors with considerable tannin, and should go well with most simple meals. $.8.99.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nederburg Lyric 2008

This South African white, the product of one of the largest wineries in that country, is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. The result is a somewhat mixed up wine. Although it strives for the effect achieved by the better New Zeeland products, namely a smooth integration of white fruit flavors with the aroma of freshly cut grass, what you get is largely citrus. It's by no means unpleasant, it's just not very well rounded. It went well with our chicken wings. The price, $7.99, is affordable.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hecula Monastrell 2005

This full-bodied red is made by Bodegas Castano in the Yecla district of Andalucia in southern Spain. Maturing in the midday sun, in which only dogs and Englishmen go out, it is distiguished by a very rich blend of tannins and dark fruit flavors. (I read four different reviews that identified the predominant taste variously as raspberry, blueberry, cherry and plum -- so much for gustatory expertise). The aftertaste has an unmistakable spicy element. It will go well with almost any red meat. The price, $12.99, is once again too much, it's available elsewhere for as little as $9.99.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chateau Lamargue 2006

This French white, a Costieres de Nimes, is grown in the southern Rhone region where wine was produced already in Roman times. it is a blend of two local grape varieties, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc. This, along with the hot summers of the South, gives it an intensity seldom found in whites. Both nose and taste hint at a red, with a blend of tropical fruit and caramel. I would think it a little too heavy to accompany seafood, but it went splendidly with our loin of pork casserole. $.8.99.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Domaine des Malandes Chablis Premier Cru 2003

Chablis, in the northernmost part of Burgundy, produces white wines made exclusively from the Chardonnay grape. They are lighter than the typical Burgundians, tend to be very dry, and have a characteristic flinty flavor. This Malandes Premier Cru (the second of four categories), made by a reputable grower in a year that produced wines of unusually low acidity, displays a stronger presence of white fruit flavors than one would normally expect, but still retains the typical mineral element. It will go splendidly with fish and shellfish. It is plainly not getting any younger, but at this point is still fine. So long as you're planning to drink it right away pick up whatever bottles you can find at the closeout price of $7.99.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Misterio Chardonnay 2007

This Argentine white from the Flichman winery announces itself with a respectable nose. The flavor is on the mild side, with pineapple and vanilla elements. It proved a good accompaniment to our lamb curry and, at $6.99, will not break the bank.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Misterio Malbec 2007

This Argentine red is atypical in that it has a more pronounced dark fruit taste, mostly plum, than Malbecs generally do. This is set off by just the right amount of oak though, so that if you don't mind a really robust wine, and are not put off by the slightly bitter aftertaste, this recommends itself. The price, on sale at $6.99, is certainly right.

Carlos Basso Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Here at last is a true bargain. This Argentine white, featuring a nice, round blend of melon and apple tastes, with a good nose and a consistant finish, is being remaindered (again, don't ask why, the PA Liquor Authority lives by its own rules) at a ridiculous $4.99. If you find some, buy all you can.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Quara Malbec 2007

This Argentine red, from a relatively obscure vineyard, could be considered a lower end introduction to the variety. As such, it doesn't perform too badly if one doesn't set one's expectations too high. There is the typical Malbec combination of plum and cherry flavors, with moderate tannin, but no oak. It's not terribly well blended, but that's too much to expect at $7.99. Worth a try if one wants to stay within a tight budget.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gascon Malbec 2008

This Argentine red presents a nice blend of dark fruit flavors, plum being the most prominent, set off by a fairly strong element of tannin. But it is definitely on the young side, particularly in the aftertaste it has a tendency to break up. We did not like it as well as the Malbecs listed in our "favorites" column, and even at the sale price of $10.99 it's no great bargain. (N.J. $9.99).