I wanted to introduce my tasting group to sparkling wines and the differences between Traditional method versus Tank method production. We kicked off the 27th VWTC event with this Spanish sparkler made from Macabeo in the traditional way. Apple, citrus, toast, caramel, yeast, and a wet hay component were noted by the group. On the palate we found a dry wine with high acidity and flavors of green (crisp) apple, citrus, almond (marzipan) and the autolytic characters we smelled- toast and yeast. A medium finish that left us somewhat refreshed yet yearning for the minerality this wine promised. I scored it 89 points and for $17 it’s a nice 4 star introduction to this style of wine from Spain. Drink till 2026. Salut….
Tasted blind for practice at my WSET class, this Riesling was pale gold in the glass. Medium (+) intensity nose with aromas of ginger, honey, tangerine, lemon, lanolin and wet stone. I made a note that it was developing ‘nicely’. The palate was off-dry with high acidity, low alcohol and a full body. Medium (+) intensity flavors echoed the nose and the wine finished with a decent medium (+) finish. I thought this was an ‘Outstanding’ wine based on the WSET criteria and feel it could be drunk now or aged some more. I really liked it and for $17 this 90 pointer gets 5 stars. Spicy Asian dishes come to mind. Salut….
The 101st bottle tasted at our Virtual Wine tasting was this Albariño from Uruguay. As always- we tasted it at room temperature first and then chilled. The wine is a pretty, pale gold color. The room temp version had aromas and flavors of honeysuckle, peach, apricot, yellow pear, lemon zest and evidence of MLF and Sur Lie aging by way of yeast, bread and buttered popcorn. We agreed that the wine had high acidity, medium (+) body and a medium finish. I gave it 12/20 on the VWTC scale and 90 points.
The chilled version was a touch flabby- the flavors were muted but we did get buttered popcorn, green apple, tangerine, pear and honeysuckle. Quite a marked difference in flavor profiles. One thing that we noticed was a cotton candy flavor, albeit very faint. Someone mentioned a touch of residual sugar was noticed but at 3.2 g/l, it is considered a Dry wine. Chilled- this wine had a lower weight body and seemed less acidic. It scored 8/20 and I gave it 87 points.
To be fair, this is a decent wine that deserves the 90 points I originally assigned and for $17, it gets 4 stars. Drink now with seafood cocktails or a crisp salad. Salut….
On our recent trip to the Finger Lakes I picked up some bottles to bring home for a more in-depth tasting and evaluation. We kick off that series with this aromatic white made from the Gewürztraminer grape. It’s a medium shade of gold in the glass. The nose is full of aromatics- lychee, rose water, lemon verbena and finely sliced ginger. There is a sharp focus in this wine and some minerality to boot. Th palate tastes off-dry but I doubt there is any residual sugar- the 13% ABV points to a full fermentation. Beautiful flavors of lychee, lemon verbena, ginger, honeysuckle and apricot would make me think I am drinking nectar. Medium acidity makes for a great mouthfeel- this wine coats the palate with it’s full bodied weight and finishes long. I am a big fan of this grape and look for it when shopping- this 91 point effort is well worth ordering if you like an interesting wine that veers away from the usual. At $17 it gets 5 stars from me. I would pair this with spicy dishes, Asian fare, even Jamaican Curry. Drink chilled sooner rather than later to preserve the freshness. Salut….
My local Costcos don’t sell wine so when I go over to the Delaware location, I always pick something up. This one happened to be $17. It is fairly opaque and a lighter shade of ruby. I can smell the wine from a foot away, wow. The nose of this Grenache is lively- red licorice, raspberry, red currant compote, leather and some earth. The palate is full bodied with medium tannins, juicy acidity and robust flavors of red fruit, earth, leather and cedar. The tannins work my gums for a while and the acidity is making my jaw water. The red licorice note is quite dominant and the tannic grip is quite strong on the finish, which is medium length. I like this wine to a degree, but the licorice is a little too candy for my preference. It got a rather hefty 92 points from THE ‘pro’. I am going with 89 and 4 stars. Drink till 2025 with some sort of stew. Salut….
This village level Pinot Noir is 5 years old at this stage with a ruby color that is see-through (pale). On the nose I get a heady dose of strawberry, red cherry, spice box, red currant and pomegranate. There is a woodsy, earthy note that I am digging to go along with a hint of oak. On the palate it is quite tart with red fruit and spice. The tannins are very lithe and the acidity is quite overpowering. The fruit is somewhat subdued by it. The intensity of the flavors are less than ideal and the wine feels a bit out of balance. It is light bodied at best. I am pairing it with that traditional French dish of white beans, Duck Confit and white saucisson. I was hoping for a bit more fruit, less structure and certainly more balance. This wine gets 87 points from me, at $17 it’s a 2 star effort. Drink now. Salut….
When shopping for the 21st Virtual Wine Tasting, I selected Durif as the keyword which is basically another name for Petite Sirah- one of my current favorites. This wine did not disappoint. Basking in sunny Paso Robles (California), the grapes for this elixir were harvested very ripe which makes a pretty potent 15.2%ABV wine that has rich, jammy fruit flavors. It looks menacing, nearly fully opaque with a dark shade of purple. The nose and palate gave the group flavors and aromas of blackberry preserves, black plum, dark chocolate covered raisins, leather, coffee, black pepper, blueberry and black tea (on the finish). Mid grade tannins and nice, gentle acidity made for a beautiful mouthfeel that was mid weight, leading to a decent length finish. I did not score it the highest on my scoring sheet but I believe it is worthy of 91 points. It was a crowd pleasing $17 bottle from DAOU vineyards that gets 5 stars from me. I would love to pair this wine with some grilled Venison. Drink till 2026. Salut….
We went to Montreal recently and dined at a Middle Eastern restaurant that featured lots of Lamb dishes. I selected this Malbec for its fruitiness but I was really hoping for a tannic wine to help cut the usually fatty cut of a Lamb shoulder cooked in the Tagine. In Cahors, Malbec is known as the “Black Wine”. It did not disappoint- Dark hued, opaque and brooding in the glass. Black currant jam, oak, charcoal, funk and garrigue all hit me on the nose and palate where I got medium acidity and medium plus tannins. Fresh and dry with a medium length finish of dried herbs, black licorice and jammy fruit- this 89 point wine get 4 stars from me. You can find it for $17. Drink till 2026. Salut….
As part of my wine education I have purchased all the major types of Sherry to try. It started out with an Amontillado, then I tried Fino and Oloroso. Now it’s time for a Manzanilla. This is a dry, fortified white wine that is aged under Flor and is served chilled.
This particular bottling is very pale lemon in the glass and has a nose of green almonds, yeast, baked bread, sea spray and citrus rind. The palate is quite dry and bitter. The Flor gives these wines a definitive bread component, yeast and all. The characteristic flavors of lemon in whites is somewhat muted by the saline and baking notes. I’m starting to get my head around what a dry sherry is supposed to taste like- certainly not like a sweet Cream Sherry. It has a nuttiness and it begs for food. Tapas, cold appetizers and certainly olives are fit for the role. I can’t even score something I am completely unfamiliar with but I’m enjoying the experience of expanding my palate and slowly getting accustomed to this unique flavor profile. $17 gets you an intro to a unique taste that the pro’s gave 90 points. Salut….
I have had this wine before and raved about it. Now, three years later, it has evolved- still amazing, yet different. I love it when the label tells you exactly what’s going on here, 80% Tempranillo, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in French oak for 24 months. This wine runs a hefty 14.5% alcohol by volume. It is pale ruby in the glass but I was expecting a little more opaqueness. The nose is gorgeous. Luscious oak, blackberry, black currant, cinnamon, tobacco, cedar and a whiff of heat. The legs are literally falling down the sides of the glass. The palate is stunning- rich fruit enveloped in copious yet refined oak, aged beautifully with tertiary notes starting to come through whilst the primary fruit and secondary notes are still very much in force. The spiciness of this wine replaces the usual dusty component that I get from Spanish Reservas. I’m not upset as I love this flavor profile. At 11 years of age it is still young and promises to last another 10 to 15 years. It will develop nicely and gain more tertiary notes with time. Punctuated acidity is going to hold the wine really well as are the very well integrated tannins. I’m loving it. 93 points at the very least. For $20, it’s a steal worthy of 5 stars. Salut….