Thursday, August 29, 2013

Laurenz Singing Gruner Veltliner 2011

 Austrian wines are not much in favor in the U.S. If one asks why, the answer one gets is usually that they don't travel well. Allow me to say unequivocally that this is nonsense. A good wine, like this one, is good anywhere you drink it. This white from Krems on the Danube (think of the vast monastery high over a bend in the river) is typical of the variety: a crisp, just slightly effervescent wine, with notes of apple and citrus. The only reason I can come up with for remaindering it at the truly ridiculous price of $6.99 is the public's lack of interest in Austrian wines in general. Anyway, snap it up at that price!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Finca Flichman Paisaje de Barracos 2010

The Finca Flichman is one of Argentina's leading producers, if not in size, then certainly in quality. This red, a blend of Syrah, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon, is one of their premium products. It's a big wine, feels big in the mouth, with elements of plum, fig and, at the finish, chocolate and tobbacco. Really a treat and, at $11.99, a great bargain. I'm not sure how it will age in the bottle, my impression is that it's a bit fragile, so drink it now.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Whitehaven Pinot Noir 2008

 This Marlborough red from New Zealand is truly a remarkable wine. It combines nicely modulated plum and blackberry elements, with just the right amount of acidity and some coffee at the finish. At the closeout price of $11.99 it's a fantastic buy. If you can find it at that price, be sure to get some.

Gri/gio Pinot Grigio 2012

Inventive spelling of wine names isn't exactly the way to my heart, but this white from the Venezie is a full bodied, aromatic, and decent enough Pinot Grigio. It falls a little short on flintiness and goes more in the direction of a Chenin Blanc, but it's alright. $7.99.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Calcu Carmenere 2009

The Carmenere grape thrives in warmer climates and has found a nearly ideal home in Chile. This red is one of a grouping that is nowadays being referred to as "Super Chileans". I don't know if the motivation is similar to that of the "Super Tuscans", which are from just outside of the legally defined Chianti area, but equally good.At any rate, this is a nicely rounded wine, with cherry and black cranberry elements, and soft tannins. $9.99.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Debut Chardonnay/Chenin Blanc 2010

Some blends are just a mishmash, others manage to bring out the good qualities of their constituent elements. This 70/30 Chardonnay/Chenin Blanc mix from Argentina falls into the second category: it's a nicely rounded white melon and mango mix, with enough of a flinty edge to keep it from  the fruit juice quality that characterizes so many of the cheaper Chardonnays.  An extremely nice buy at $5.99.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Domaine de Bel Air Pouilly Fume 2008

Because of its age, this Loire Sauvignon Blanc is now being remaindered. Our bottle turned out to be just fine. It exhibits a very strong lemony element, with just enough of the gunpowder flintiness typical of the variety to pull it back from an over-the-top citrus character. A truly outstanding wine and a great bargain at 10.99. If you find some at that price, get it!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Luzon Verde 2008

When I first reviewed this Spanish red from Jumilla I said it was an uncomplicated and pleasant enough wine, but badly overpriced. It's now been reduced to 6.99, and at that price it's surely worth getting. These days that's what you pay for a bottle of plonk.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Farnese Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2011

A young, light bodied red from Italy's South, this has somewhat muted blackberry and plum elements, with quite a lot of acidity and, unless thoroughly aired, a slightly medicinal taste. It remains a puzzle to me why the Tuscan Montepulcianos are uniformly so much better, but then they cost a lot more. This one at least is cheap at $6.99.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fingerprints Chardonnay 2010

What we have here is an Argentine white from the Mendoza Valley. (This is somewhat confusing because the same winery grows a very similar product in Chile). It's on the full-bodied side, with elements of white melon, peach, and even banana. This too I would characterize as semi-sweet. Curiously, it went down well with our rather spicy chile con carne. If this is your thing, this is certainly a bargain at $6.99.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mastroberardino Mastro 2010

I've not been able to determine whether this Campanian white is identical with that winery's Falanghina -- the label gives nothing away, nor is there anything very helpful on line. If anyone knows, I'd be most grateful for the information. At any rate, the taste and color are similar, but there is rather more of an apricot element here. That, of course, may just be a difference in vintages. I'd say, on the verge of semi sweet. $8.99.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Chateau Haut-Roquefort Cadillac 2004

We recently drank this at the home of friends in MD. It's a white Entre-Deux-Mers, a sweet dessert wine marketed as an alternative to the considerably more expensive Sauternes. It's quite pleasant but lacks the tang and (yes) the underlying acidity of a good Sauternes. It sells in the range of $10-12 for the half  liter bottle, but seems not to be available in PA at this time. If you like dessert wines and your wine budget is limited, you might want to give this a try.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Vina San Esteban Malbec Reserve 2011

Here is a source of endless confusion. The winery is Chilean, they do produce a wine of that name  there, but most bottles with that designation come from neighboring Argentina. This one, however, is labeled a product of France. Curiously, the blurb on the back is identical with that on the Argentine bottles, with "foothills of the Pyrenan mountains" substituted for "foothills of the Andes". Clearly something creative is going on here, but I'm at a loss to say what. The wine itself is a nice, very fruit forward Malbec, with none of the chocolate one associates with the Argentine Malbecs; nor does it have the inky assertiveness of the Cahors, made from that grape. Tastes of red currant and cherry abound. $9.99, available for three dollars less in N.Y.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Zita Pinot Grigio 2011

Pinot Grigio is much maligned in vinicultural circles as being bland, uninteresting, too light, and whatever pejorative the reviewer can come up with. It certainly, along with Chardonnay and Merlot, figures in in any list of wines that a wine snob will condemn out of hand in order to establish his credentials.While this may be true of the majority of Pinot Grigios out there (they just tend not to come up to a French Pinot Gris in body and character) there are some good ones, one of our favorites being the Santa Margherita. This one, from the Venezie, is sort of on the fringe. While it doesn't have the Chenin Blanc- like flintiness that the best ones exhibit, it does have some body and nice enough pear taste to give it some interest. I realize that this is damning it with faint praise, but that's the best I can do. $8.99.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Zita Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2010

The Abruzzo is an up and down region (That means if it's not mountains, it's hills) in central eastern Italy. It produces large quantities of wine, the soil isn't much good for anything else. Its Montepulcino designation should not be confused with the Tuscan version, which is miles above it, not in altitude but in quality. Still, this is a decent enough red, with perceptible cherry and red berry flavors, perhaps a little too forward, and some acidity. $8.99.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Massi di Mandorlaia I Massi 2009

A red from that part of Tuscany referred to as the Mareme, this 100% San Giovese is somewhat lighter and more reserved than the Chianti Superiores. It exhibits a slightly dusky combination of cherry and dark berries with nice background acidity and a long finish. I have no idea what got into Big Brother, but at $10.99 it's a good five dollars cheaper than you can get it anywhere else. In my opinion it'll go for at least another couple of years, so I wouldn't hesitate to put down a few bottles.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Naked Grape Pinot Grigio

T'is the season for cookouts and picnics. This non vintage CA white, while certainly undistinguished, is nevertheless light, a reasonably pleasant mix of apple and citrus, and, above all, affordable.With the instant refund coupon it sells for $4.99, which should make for many a jolly outdoor (or, if you prefer, indoor) festivity.