December Roundup

Short notes on recent bottles we’ve tried.


Fox Run Vineyards Dry Riesling 2013 ($14.99)
Subtly yeasty aroma. More slatey and fruit-neutral, an austere white that shows the Finger Lakes flexing its terroir muscle. With a medium-plus finish, one to consider as an oyster companion. 11.5% ABV. 2012 vintage available in PA.

Red Newt Dry Riesling 2013 ($16.99)
One clean drink. A drop of petrol aroma precedes flavors of peach, light citrus and a mineral vein. Steely and bracing, it represents truth in marketing in that it’s dry without doubt. Well-made Riesling from an always-dependable Finger Lakes producer. 11.8% ABV. 2010 and 2012 vintages available in PA.

Lamoreaux Landing Riesling Yellow Dog Vineyard 2012 ($19.99)
Petrol and white peach on the nose. Emphasis on the mineral bounty of vineyard. White pepper, apricot, melon, light tropical notes and herbal hints. Medium acidity and a dry edge on the finish.


Pat Paulsen Vineyards Primitivo ($10.99)
Jammy red fruit takes center stage in this fun, friendly crowd-pleaser that says Primitivo but brings to mind Zinfandel (they are clones of the same grape). The one knock here is high alcohol that pushes this wine slightly out of balance. Coming soon – Review by Mike.

Rutz Cellars Syrah Maison Grand Cru Russian River Valley 2013 ($13.99)
Of similar crowd-pleasing vein to the aforementioned Pat Paulsen, however in a more brooding style. Dark fruit and oak spice, rich and deep, also a bit hot from alcohol. Though over the top for my taste, lovers of big, rich wines may find something to like here. BTW it is technically rUtz, not rVtz, despite what the PLCB tries to tell us or the styling on the label. Review by Mike.

shannon-ridge-cabernet-sauvignon-home-ranchJ Hofstatter Pinot Nero DOC Meczan 2012 ($13.99)
A light, cool climate Pinot Noir with classic aromas, an initial burst of tart cherry and spice and a light finish. Good balance in the form of minerals and acid. A bright table red you don’t need to over-think.

Artesana Tannat-Merlot 2012 ($15.99)
Smoke in a bottle, at least upon first pour. Make that smoky asphalt. Weighty body, deep color. There’s a satisfying twist of blueberry and meaty and earthy with a vegetal notion. Mocha. Fine tannins, plenty of weight. Hearty, smooth drinking. Shows more Tannat influence than the 2011 model which weighed in more definitively as Miles’ least favorite variety. An easy play for stew. Available as a special order, minimum quantity of a case. Code 548427.

Shannon Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Home Ranch 2011 ($16.99)
Hailing from a lesser-known appellation situated north of Napa (High Valley), this Chairman’s Selection is worth consideration. It’s a single vineyard red grown at higher elevations and recipient of healthy marine breezes, making for red-tinged, dark fruit and some complexity. Showing toasty, smoky aromas and flavors ranging from chocolate and blackberry to cherry and sweet tobacco. Good length and tannic finish.

Tamarack Firehouse Red 2012 ($16.99)
Washington State jumble of a dozen red varieties (largest shares are Cab Sauv, Syrah and Merlot). Dense in body yet a brightly intense blend with a mulling spice nose.  Concentrated blue- and blackberry flavors, with plenty of energy on the finish, and just a pinch of vanilla that’s endearing. Vigorous acid, and gentle tannins make for good form. Nearly zero oak interference. An easy go-to bottle for the money, with no edges whatsoever. A few hours decant recommended at this stage.


Osborne 1827 Pedro Ximenez NV ($16.99)
Though technically Sherry, Pedro Ximenez falls into a class of its own, made from a different grape (100% Pedro Ximenez) than all others. Intensely, maybe even cloyingly sweet (to the point that it’s sometimes referred to as diabetes in a glass), “Pedro” is an acquired taste that’s cultishly loved by devotees. Well-made versions such as this one also bring intriguing notes of toffee, caramel, raisins, chocolate, and earthy funk to the nose and tongue, as well as a hint of acidity on the finish. Just a nip’ll do you after dinner, as anything more is often too darn much. Thankfully, it’ll last for weeks once opened (store it in the fridge and serve cold). Coming Soon – Review by Mike.

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