Short notes on wines we’ve recently tasted.


Peltier Station Viognier Lodi 2009franciscan-chardonnay ($6.99)
A Chairman’s Selection with some mileage under the hood, not one to store on the rack for long. Slightly funky aromas, floral and rich fruit flavors on the palate – pineapple, melon – medium finish and acidity. A slightly clumsy Californian but generally holding up pretty well, and hard to miss at the price. (Review by Jeff)

Collevite Offida Pecorino 2012 ($11.99)
Pecorino is the most important white grape of Piceno, a subregion of Marche, in central Italy just north of Abruzzo. It is lush, full-bodied white, featuring tropical fruits, yet retaining a bright, citrusy acidity. It is also notable for its minerality, and this bottling is particularly so, with a salinity that will pair well with hearty fish preparations. A great buy at $12. (Review by Mike)

Franciscan Estate Chardonnay Cuvée Sauvage 2012 ($19.99)
Always enjoyable. Complexity, terroir, toasty-tasty and some edge. Flavorful pineapple, buttery caramel and stone meets acidity and length. On the border of alcohol heat. Extremely limited quantities remain in PA. (Review by Jeff)

St. Urbans-Hof Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett 2010 ($20.99)
Rich in color, broad in body and mouth feel. Expressive aromas. A perky German with its amped acid, viscosity, lemonade flavors and medium-plus finish length. The cumulative ingredients should make for rewarding years ahead. (Review by Jeff)


Domaine d’Andezon Cotes du Rhone 2012 ($10.98)
I do like a southern Rhone wine now and again, especially one that has more Syrah than Grenache and therefore more of a northern Rhone feel. Though it maintains the directness and unfussy persona of its latitude there’s a lot going on from start to finish – meat, cassis, dark cherries, minerals, burnt tobacco, olives. Medium body, with the acidity that make Rhone reds food friendly or ready –to- pour drinking partners. You don’t need Vacqueyras or Gigondas on the label, or even a village designation, to find a satisfying bottle at a bargain price. Available at Wine Works, Marlton, NJ

Pat Paulsen Primitivo Lodi 2012 ($10.99)
Odd to see a California wine labelled “Primitivo”, considering the fact that Zinfandel and Primitivo are essentially the same grape, although one can assume this would be the Primitivo clone of the grape. Still, it leans more towards the Zin than the Italian style, with big, jammy fruit leading the way. This is a wine that should please a crowd at a friendly price. It’s a touch hot and slightly off-balance, but not bad for $11. (Review by Mike)

Teliani Valley Saperavi Kakheti 2011 ($11.99)
Exotic, intense Georgian wine. Look for a shovelful of earth, reddish-dark stewed fruit, spice, blood-metallic undertones and brambly herbal flavors. A one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others kind of wine, I would recommend pairing this variety with duck and other game meats, stews and similar heavy duty victuals. (Review by Jeff)

boordy-shirazMarques di Riscal Proximo 2009 ($13.19)
Tempranillo from Rioja that packs almost as much power and concentration as the estate’s Reserva at a much lower price. Mouth filling layers of blackberry and dark plum with recurring sensations of bitter herbs and savory minerals on an earthy base. There’s a toasty warmth on the end, but without annoying and obvious oak intrusion. The quality and adaptability to a broad range of food makes this a wine you keep going back to. SLO, minimum qty 12. Also available at Total Wine for $9.99.

Boordy Vineyards Icons of Maryland Shiraz 2012 ($13.99)
Interesting choice now in stores from a star of the up-and-coming Maryland wine scene. On the lighter side (12.5% abv), this most obviously recalls black tea. It starts out slightly earthy on the nose, features brambly berry notes that suggest tart but sweet candy, and finishes smooth. A reasonable buy for the price, especially for those interested in trying something local.

Da Capo Ruche di Castagnola Majoli 2012 ($19.99)
Some say “roo-shay”, some say “roo-kay”, but even though there seems to be no consensus even among Piedmont’s winemakers we’re not going to call the whole thing off. Not for this excellent expression of a native grape that’s getting deserved notice stateside. It’s all about finesse and restraint, presenting the purest characteristics of the varietal through a balancing act of spicy with a tannic undertow; refreshing and invigorating but substantial; smooth yet sporting an edgy bite. If you’ve never had Ruche this is an eye-opening introduction. Purchased at Flatiron Wines, NYC.

Tolaini Al Passo 2010 ($22.49)
The sort of Super Tuscan that’s on the fence of overdone v. getting it right. Merlot’s presence comes to the surface with green herbs and a plummy ripeness that add a rich patina that offsets the normal Sangiovese acidity. Some of the latter’s leather and tobacco are toned down. The tannins are supportive without being overtly dry. It won’t hold up to a comparison with pricier versions from Bolgheri or even some of the recent IGT blends from its Chianti Classico neighbors, but it’s a solid wine for the price. SLO, minimum quantity 2. Also available at Wine Works for $19.98

D’Auvergne Vacqueyras 2009 ($28.99)
Perfumed, herbal and savory, sporting a bushel of garrigue, but a fairly straightforward Rhone red with medium-plus tannins and medium finish. Earthy and stewed, modestly spiced. Good everyday Vac that skimps on verve. Not unpleasant by a stretch but not in its prime and a letdown at nearly 30 bucks. (Review by Jeff)

Published by Frank Cipparone

A lifelong Philadelphian, Frank spent four decades as an educator, coach, and curriculum specialist before teaching and writing about wine in general and the wines of Italy in particular. Annual sojourns in the land of his ancestors fuel his passion for the culture and history of its regions, not to mention restocking his cellar with obscure varietals and hard-to-find rarities. A self-described “anti- foodie”, those trips also unearth authentic culinary treasures for him and his wife to replicate at home. Frank is an avid and eclectic reader, historian, aficionado of old school jazz and techno-Luddite who views social media as a plague on society.

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