A nice, very soft, fruity, weighty, varietally-true Grenache. The only complaint I have -- and it's a minor one for a $9.99 bottle -- is a just barely perceptible bit of residual sweetness.
Inky ruby-violet color. Open and inviting nose of oozing raspberries, plum jam, and some clean, stony minerality. Mouthfilling, richly fruity, and full-bodied, this offers loads of ripe plummy, raspberry fruity, leaving behind a vaguely bitter-tinged liquid rock taste at the very end. Low acidity. As I said, it's got a barely perceptible bit of residual sugar, and it's pretty simple, so this gets a little tiring to sip on its own, but it's a nice accompaniment with casual weeknight fare (it went well with a simple roast chicken). B. Was $9.99 at Total Wine in Fairfax. Imported by The Country Vintner, Ashland, VA.
Dirt cheap and very good. A great weeknight dinner choice. Simple but varietally true and satisfying.
Fully saturated black ruby/violet. Straightforward scents of ripe, sweet, perfumey blackberry and a nice classic Mourvedre (Monastrell) scent of tree bark. Lots of oomph entering the mouth, with loads of smoky blackberries, full body, some nicely integrated if not super-soft tannin, and surprisingly good acidity. A bit of heat, but not intrusively so, on the finish (which is long and fruity). B/B+. Was only $7.99 from B-21 Wines in Florida, but it's pretty widely available (including being available at Total Wine in Fairfax at the same price). Imported by Jorge Ordonez Selections.
A really good, large-scaled, ambitious Côtes du Rhône that thinks it's something more important. Dark and extracted, but nicely-balanced at the same time. Apparently it's an unfiltered 50/50 Grenache/Syrah blend.
Completely saturated black ruby-violet. Interesting and atypical nose, with lots of smoky, iodiney minerals, and a thing that alternately reminded me of either roasted herbs or a big pan-full of sauteed spinach with garlic and olive oil. And some blackberry skin fruit in there too. Mouthcoating flavors of iodine, blackberry, and faintly bitterish minerals, with a long finish that clings and clings. Some fine-grained tannins for physical structure. Very good acids for a wine this large-framed. Basically, tastes like a very good Gigondas. B+. Got this for $12.99 from B-21 Wines in Florida. Excellent value at that price point. Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.
A young wine that needs a lot of air to show its stuff. Definitely on the darker, more-extracted end of the spectrum.
Impenetrable, fully saturated black black black ruby. The first night the nose was very scorchy and burnt, showing zero fruit. I was unimpressed and put the Vacu-Vin on it. The next night was a different story. Still smoky and low-toned, but oozy-ripe raspberry syrup fruit was insinuating itself into the equation. Very full-bodied and a bit hot in the mouth, with a somewhat coarser texture than expected for a Grenache. Clearly the winemaker was going for intense extraction here. I prefer Grenaches with a more fluid, less macho feel. Still, it had a lot of low-toned berry and scorched stone flavors. Low acids. It's a B-, but only if you can appreciate this intensely ripe, ambitiously-extracted, massive style. If you don't, it's just a heavy mouthful of bricks. Imported by Eric Solomon-European Cellars. $8.99 from B-21 Wines in Florida.
This was a fantastic white. If I had tasted it blind I would have thought it was a young premier cru Chablis. Ripe, cleanly minerally, and crisply refreshing. Excellent value.
Light gold color. Enchanting nose of ripe apple, ripe pear, nose-tingling lemony acids, and crushed seashell minerality, along with a hint of that Burgundian earthiness that frequently, in the whites, reminds me of dried hay lying around a barn. Absolutely refreshing in the mouth. Concentrated flavors, yet light on its feet, with a linear, lemony streak through the apple/green apply fruit, and a bolt of chalky, seashelly minerality follows through from the nose to the mouth. Soft texture. Brilliantly clean, lengthy finish. I know it's just a Macon, but I have to give it an A. Was $14.99 from WTSO.com, making it a steal. Imported by MHW, Ltd., Manhasset, CT.
Tight, tight, tight! This wine is very youthful and tightly-wound, but contains all the elements to become a very good Pinot in 2-4 years.
Bright medium ruby with the beginnings of some garnet. Very shy nose (even when poured through a Vinturi). Just a few subtle scents come through: crisp, just-picked cherry and stony minerals, with a lifted floral element. Bone dry, crisp (mouthwatering acids) and lightly tannic in the mouth. Fairly full body. Lots of cherry-skin fruit and lean, stony minerals in the mouth. Clean, medium-long finish. This just needs time to shine (at least a couple of years). For now,B. In a few years, probably higher. Was $24.99 from WTSO.com. Imported by MHW, Ltd., Manhasset, NY.
This is excellent. Shows classic Nebbiolo character, in a medium-bodied, soft, and ready-to-drink style. I'm glad to see this old-line producer (whose Spannas from the 60s and 70s are legendary) is back on line.
A deep, soft, sultry Cotes du Rhone from a producer much better-known for its excellent and reasonably priced Chateauneuf. It's 70% Grenache, 20% Carignane, and 10% Syrah. For those who like their Cotes du Rhone to show lots of vibrant, earthy raspberry and/or blackberry fruit, this is not your wine. It's on the lower-toned, chocolately end of the scale. But expectations aside, it's quite good.
Saturated black-black ruby color. Somewhat aloof, low-toned nose of dark chocolate, blackberry skins, loamy sandstone, and slow-roasted herbs and meat. Weighty and soft in the mouth, it's very full-bodied, low in acidity, and shows loads of chocolatey, minerally flavors. Lengthy finish. Not my cup of tea, so for me it's a B-,but those who like this style will undoubtedly rate it higher. Was $19.99 at Total Wine in Fairfax. Imported by Saranty Imports, White Plains, NY.
This is a very easy-drinking, soft, but flavorful Chianti. A pretty good value. Great for weeknight or casual Italian dinners. Atypical, but very good.
Fairly dark (for a Chianti) blackish ruby. A lower-toned nose than is usual for a Chianti, featuring dark-roasted minerally notes battling for equal attention with dark cherry fruit, and a light note of menthol in there too. Low-toned in the mouth too, with lots of dark, earthy, gravelly minerals, a dark chocolatey note (where's that coming from in a Chianti?). Medium full body, and lowish acidity. A fluid and very velvety mouthfeel is this wine's best feature. It's a B+if you're not detracting points for atypicality. Was $14.99 from WTSO.com. Imported by Superior Wines, Cranford, NJ.
(Sorry, 2008 depicted).
(One more thing: drink this before the summer of 2013.)
Update (1/20/13): A second bottle seems a little more advanced, and I'd give it a B.
A bright, minerally, high-toned red. I got it for $36 at a restaurant in Charlottesville, so I think that would make it something that would retail for between $15 and $20. Both stylistically and price-wise, consider this wine as an alternative to a Valpolicella.
Superb example of a full-throttle style of Zin (a style that Mazzocco is known for). Rich, ripe, extracted, but with not noticeable oak and no heat. My brother got this direct from the winery and gave it to me, so I have no idea what it costs.
Fully-saturated black ruby with violet highlights. Deep rich exuberant nose of rich, ripe blackberries, maple syrup, and dark stones. Incredibly rich fruit slams the palate, initially making a fleeting port-like impression and then resolving into ridiculously pure, ripe fruit. Very concentrated, with a dense texture, but with very little noticeable heat despite its 16.2% alcohol. Slightly low but still OK acids, this wine successfully walks a tightrope between extraordinary ripeness and over-blownness. All it lacks is a bit more complexity. A-.
A well-made good value Riesling. Made in a fuller-bodied Alsace style, but on the slightly sweet end of the spectrum.
Medium gold color. Loads of up-front fruit on the nose (ripe Delicious apples, pear), along with melted butter and slightly-petrolly minerals. Mouthfilling fruit, full-body, and with somewhat lower acid than I usually like in a Riesling, but it offers lots of clean, slightly sweet fruit and mineral flavors and has decent balance despite its size. B,but you have to be ready for the style. I think this was around $11 from Total Wine in Fairfax. Imported by Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL.
This is probably the cheap wine value of 2012. I like it even better than its more expensive, older sibling, which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. This is akin to a balanced, soft, deep, very drinkable non-oaky Cabernet from California (or a newer style Bordeaux).
Deep, intensely red ruby color. Deep and pure on the nose, with very ripe, rich cherry/berry fruit, augmented with very subtle smoky gravelly quality. Ripe, pure, soft and intense on the attack, with excellent balance, and good cling. This would pair well with lots of foods, and is also really nice on its own. A-. This was ... wait for it ... $9.99 from WTSO.com. If and when they list it again, get some. Imported by Classic Wines, Stamford, CT.
A fantastic value in a crisp, zingy, fragrant, bone dry Riesling. Can easily compete with entry-level Alsace Rieslings costing 50%-100% more.
Very light silvery-gold color. Vivid nose of crisp white grapes, lime, and petrol-inflected minerals. Flavorful, dry, and with mouthwatering acids, there are loads of citrusy, green apple fruit and lots of clean minerality. Medium-bodied, with a very clean, refreshing, and fairly long finish. I'm very impressed this wine was this good at $9.99. B+. This tastes very young and should continue to drink well for 1-2 more years. Got this at Total Wine in Fairfax. Imported by Saranty Imports, Harrison, NY.