Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year PLCB

This will be my last post of 2009 and I want to use it to award the gold medal for sophistry to the PLCB. I came across an on line offer on the PLCB site for splits of Freixinet Brut at the sale price of $1.98 each. This works out to just under $8.00 the bottle, a very nice price for that excellent Cava. My local store had it alright, but it was priced at $3.67 the split. When I objected the salesman told me that that was the price and that computers were often wrong. Thereupon I asked to speak to the store manager and brought up the site for him (which, incidentally, he had claimed that he could not access). After studying this fo a while, he told me that the sale price was for single splits, what they had was a three-pack. This was, of course, a completely different animal. He then kindly offered to order in the sale bottles for me from a store which had them on hand if I paid the U.P.S. charge of $10.00 for a half case, an offer that, having done the math, I declined.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz/Viognier 2007

This wine is truly multinational, being the result of a Franco-Californian cooperation and grown in Australia. The grape combination is a conscious imitation of Rhone practice, and it does resemble a Cote Rotie in some ways. It is distinguished by a strong red berry flavor with a very peppery note and hints of chocolate. Not available in PA presently, but it sells in NJ for about $17.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Marques de Irun Verdejo 2008

This Spanish white from Rueda doesn't have the slightly aerated character of most Verdejos. It exhibits a nicely blended peach character, tempered by sufficient acidity, but does slide off into a certain sweetness at the end. At $12.99 it does not compete successfully with similarly priced New Zealand or Argentinian whites.

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut

This Catalan sparkling wine has been my standard holiday bubbly for some time. It does not vary over the years, is consistently pleasing, with sour apple and nutty flavors and conveys the impression of extreme freshness. It doesn't come up to a superior Champagne, but then it costs about a quarter as much. $9.99.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Eugenio de Almeida Red 2007

This is a very simple Portuguese country red. It comes without any varietal indication, but is, in fact, a blend of four little known local grapes. It has a slightly smoky, but not unpleasant, taste with red berry elements. However at $9.99 it is grossly overpriced, being available for three dollars less elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Montessiera Chardonnay/Macabeo 2008

This Spanish white comes from Aragon, in the foothills of the Pyrennees. It has a nice blend of fruit (mostly apple and pear) and just enough acidity in the finish to make it interesting. Sadly, however, as is so often the case in PA, it is well overpriced at $10.99.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A very loud complaint

I noticed on line that the Navarro Correas Chardonnay was being offered on sale for $7.99 at at least a dozen locations. When I went to my local store in Hummelstown they had it alright but the price was $12.99. I then asked if it could be shipped in from another location at the sale price and was told yes, but I would be charged the U.P.S. fee for the shipment. And Merry Christmas to you too, P.L.C.B. At the very least, I would think that, in a standardized statewide system, sale prices would apply throughout the system. Is it not time for us to react at the polls to these extortionate practices?

Starborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This New Zealand white is fairly typical of the variety. It comes on with a grassy nose and delivers citrus and tropical fruit flavors. It's a bit on the thin side, lacks the mineral flintiness which characterizes the better Marlboroughs and has a very short finish. Certainly not bad, but even at the sale price of $11.99 you can do better.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Alta Vista Premium Torrontes 2008

This Argentine white has a strong flowery aroma, as any respectable Torrontes will have. It tastes strongly of pear. I detected citrus undertones but my CDC found it one dimensional and objected to the fact that it underwent no transformation whatever on the tongue. $9.99, and you're probably better off buying a New Zealand white at that price.

Barefoot Pinot Grigio

I admit to harboring a prejudice against the cheaper California wines and this one does nothing to disabuse me of that. It's so generic that it comes without a harvest year, has none of the bite characteristic of the variety and, to make matters worse, is decidedly on the sweet side. It comes with a sticker boasting that it took a double gold medal at a N.Y. tasting. I would not even speculate about what its competitors might have been like. $5.99, but don't waste your money on it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Funky Llama Chardonnay 2008

This heavily marketed Argentine white is not the product of a single vineyard but rather of a combine which buys up grapes from various sources, produces the wine and then sells it under its own label, usually a cute one meant to appeal to the American consumer. If you're on the lookout for a bargain quaff you might want to try this. It's fruity, with citrus accents and no oak but disintegrates at the finish. Drinkable, but no more. Still, at the present sale price of $4.99 it's certainly cheap.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Domaine du Tariquet Sauvignon/Semillon 2008

Like many whites from Gascony this has just a hint of the "petillant", without being actually bubbly. It has an intense flowery nose and peach and white mellon flavors. At $9.99 it competes with many New Zealand whites at this price level.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ergo Rioja 2006

This Spanish red, a Rioja but marketed by a Galician combine owned by Gallo, is made mostly from the Tempranillo grape. Allowed to breathe for at least an hour ( I know that I harp on this ad nauseam, but it really is essential), it exhibits a nicely balanced character, mostly dark cherry and vanilla, with just enough acidity and soft tannins to give it substance. It was perfect with our steak. At the sale price of $8.99 it constitutes a genuine bargain, to be snapped up while it lasts.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Finca Monte Lindo Malbec 2007

Readers of this column will know that I tend to be partial to the Argentine Malbecs, but this one doesn't make it. Even after a good hour's airing a bitter taste overrode whatever other elements this had to offer. $7.99.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Jibe Sauvignon Blanc 2007

This white from New Zealand's Marlborough valley comes from an ambitious vineyard (they sponsor major sporting events) and features strong citrus notes with just a hint of the freshly mown grass aroma that the whites from that region are known for. It's attractively priced at $7.99.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Torres Sangre de Toro 2007

In the 70's, before Spanish wines had established themselves outside of Spain, a blind tasting was held in France in which a Torres Gran Reserva was matched against all the first growth Burgundies. It won hands down. This is their entry level wine, and while it's far from that level, it is nevertheless a nice bottle: a simple, robust mix of cherry and red berries with fairly mild tannins and no break-up at the end. It even stood up to our four alarm chili. The sale price of $7.99 is about average for this wine.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Terra de Lobos Castelao/Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

It's a truism that a lot of reds have to breathe a good hour or so to be drinkable, and this Portuguese is no exception to the rule. If drunk straightaway there is a somewhat unpleasant, almost bitter dominance of oak, but once this dissipates one is rewarded with a nice blend of raspberry and cherry notes. At $7.99 this is priced a little on the high side.