Short notes on recent wines we’ve tried.
Paul Dolan Gewurztraminer Revolution 2013 ($9.99)
A Chairman’s Selection that’s a simple, safe American rendering. The outline is there – lychee, melon, light spice, some mineral – with fleeting moments of intensity, but it lacks the bottom end and merely musters a clipped finish that goes watery. Screw top party Gewurz, if there is such a thing.
Terra da Vino Erbaluce di Caluso 2013 ($12.99)
Fresh and bright, this is a nice alternative for Pinot Grigio drinkers, perhaps more notable for its rarity (Erbaluce di Caluso is the grape name) than its quality, it will serve well as a palate cleanser with seafood or a refresher on a warm day. In other words, I wouldn’t go out of my way, but it wasn’t bad. (review by Mike)
Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2013 ($15.99)
Distinctive petrol on the nose. Rich and spicy, with enjoyable concentration and a pleasurable unctuous quality. Mineral, complex and a touch of biting acidity. If you don’t know South African Chenin Blanc, this is a natural entry point and I dare you not to dig it. Serve slightly chilled, NOT cold; the wine’s best qualities come out closer to room temp. Screw top and 13.5% ABV.
Maison Bouachon Cotes du Rhone Les Rabasieres 2012 ($9.99)
Though I didn’t taste them blind or directly against each other, I also tried the Boachon Gigondas Due de Monfort 2012 ($19.99), and must say that I much preferred the Cotes du Rhone, especially for $10 less. Did my knowledge of the price point and thus expectations for each play a part? Perhaps. But I still found the CdR to be bright, complex and tasty, whereas the Gigondas was simply flat. For $20, I’d much rather have 2 bottles of the former than one of the latter. (review by Mike)
Maison PUR Marne Bleu Vin de France 2011 ($14.99)
Earth-scented, mellow Côtes du Rhône Syrah with an upfront insistence of cherry and darker fruits that sunsets very smoothly as the long finish unfurls. In European fashion, a more proportioned representative of the variety and a solid value for the price. Available by special order, minimum order of 12 required.
Truchard Syrah 2012 ($15.49)
An entirely different animal than the French Syrah. Concentrated and jammy, it leans on the palate with weight. Dusty and heaped with black-blue fruit, pepper and a dose of acidic zing on the extremely long finish. Indulgent but enjoyable. Available by special order, minimum order of 12 required.
Fero Estate Lemberger 2013 ($16.99)
Distinct Lemberger flavor, which might be described as Pinot-meets-stinky-cheese. This Pennsylvania offering is pungent, bold and big on personality. Medium of body and hue, there’s a complex blend of well-integrated attributes to dig into: Acid, spice, exotic fruit. Decent length. I’m quite impressed with this effort. Give it a good hour of aeration and the rich core will emerge. 12.5% ABV. Available from the winery.
Charles Smith Boom Boom Syrah 2013 ($16.99)
The nose signals lower intensity when comparing to Napa, a slightly cough syrupy quality. But, of course, it’s Washington and, yes, it’s respectful on the palate – less boom-boom than you might expect. Look for some vanilla, spice and darkish fruit. Exactly what you should want from a value-tagged Pacific NW red. Not an explosion, and definitely not a bomb.
ZAP The Heritage Vineyard Zinfandel 2012 ($19.99)
The Zinfandel Heritage Vineyard Project is a collection of rare Zinfandel vine cuttings grown from some of the best vineyards in California, and each vintage they partner with a different winemaker. This year’s winner is Terra d’Oro’s Chris Leamy, who has produced a lean, elegant version of Zin that stays away from those jammy, high-alcohol notes that this grape can veer towards. Instead, fresh berry flavors mix with caramel and spice. Though not currently available in PA, this bodes well for upcoming Terra d’Oro Chairman’s Selection Amador County Zinfandel 2012, which should be arriving in stores any day now. Heritage Vineyard Zin available at Wine.com. (review by Mike)