I haven't had an Aussie Shiraz in a long time -- I find their typical jammy, oaky profile tiring and uninteresting. But I remember drinking some structured, earthy Chateau Tahbilk Shirazes in the late 80s and early 90s, so I picked this one up recently for $13.99 (at Winex.com). And, true to form, it's a bit more structured and interesting than the typical jam-fest.
Nearly saturated black ruby color. Needs some time for the nose to develop fully, but when it does it shows ripe blackberry and sweet cassis fruit, and iodine/graphite note and smoky embers. Full bodied and ripe, but not overripe or jammy, it fills the mouth with clingy deep fruit and smoky flavors. It has considerable but soft tannin, and surprisingly good acids. (And the acidity feels natural, as opposed to many Aussie reds, whose acidity seems so at odds with the jammy overripe fruit that it fairly screams "added by the winemaker.") Fairly lengthy, almost refreshing finish. B+/A-. Imported by Epic Wines, Aptos, Cal. This wine would go well with a wide range of meat and red-sauced pasta dishes.
I drank a bottle of the a couple of weeks ago and didn't write about it because I didn't like it. It seemed overly lean, austere, and dried out.
Once again this is a terrific and cheap wine. Hard to find a better wine under $10. It's a non-vintage Rhone blend, mostly composed of Grenache, and it's balanced, complex, and fun to drink.
Very dark ruby-violet. Energetic nose of spicy blackberry/raspberry fruit, smoke, and minerally/sandstoney notes. Dark, clingy flavors of iodine-laced blackberry/cherry. A light veil of fine-grained tannin adds texture. Very good concentration of flavor, and good acids. Long finish. This will be very flexible with food. I like this a lot. B+/A-. Imported by Epic Wines, Aptos, Cal., I got this for $9.99 from Winex.com.
This is a serious, intense wine. A little on the rustic side, but tons of flavor and a very good value. It's a blend, mostly of Carignane and Grenache.
Deep dark ruby-violet color. Low-toned intense aromas of cracked stones, almost overwhelming the scents of blackberry and cassis. Mouthfillingly rich, but bone dry, this wine assaults the palate with clingy, intensely rocky/minerally-tinged flavors of scorched earth and blackberry skins. Loads of tannin. This will be a dynamite wine to have with beef stews in the cold months to come. And it will be softer and better in a couple of years. B+(+). Was $14.99 from WTSO.com. Imported by Serge Dore Selections, which clearly has some sort of business deal with WTSO.com. since that company's wines seem to constitute the majority of French wines offered on the site. Which doesn't really matter, however, since Dore's wines are consistently good.
(Sorry, 2008 depicted)
A shockingly light-colored wine, but with real fragrance and flavor. A very good value Pinot Noir from the largely overpriced Burgundy region.
Very light garnet color -- almost like an old, oak-aged rose would look. Scents of minerally cherries and fresh-baked honey whole wheat bread. Lively, medium-light bodied flavors have surprising intensity, tenaciously clinging to the palate with earthy, crisp cherries. Long, vivacious finish, with good acidity. It's a unique style of Pinot Noir. It went very well with whole wheat macaroni with cheese and bacon, and would also do nicely with tomato-less chicken dishes. B+. Was about $22 on sale from Flickinger Wines, Chicago. Imported by Chelsea Ventures, Chicago.
A direct, lively, fruity, balanced, and flavorful entry level Chianti Classico. A good value wine to stockpile for weekday pasta dinners.
Surprisingly extracted black, black ruby color. Loads of youthful black cherry fruit and minerals on the nose. No hint of oak here, just pure fruit and stones. Decent weight, and a good, linear attack. A fair amount of tannin, as well as good acids. This will soften and get more fragrant over the next two years. B. Was $12.99 from WTSO.com, making it a really good value. Imported by Superior Wines, Cranford, NJ.
A tight, lean, but flavorful PN. Not as forward and fruity as California versions, but more along the spectrum toward a nice villages wine from the Cote de Beaune.
Dark, clear crystalline ruby. Very tight at first, the wine reluctantly starts to give up scents of cherry syrup and loads of stony minerals. Bone dry, with lean but persistent flavors of underbrush, dry cherry extract, and lots and lots of minerals. Full-bodied, with average acids. Needs some time in the cellar to soften, but it's still nice now. B(+). Was about $20 from wineaccess.com.
A slightly grassy, balanced, and refreshing Sauvignon-Blanc. Not as flinty/minerally as I usually want out of this appellation, but very nice.
Light silvery/gold color. Grassy herbs and fresh gooseberry fruit dominate the lively nose, with only a hint of minerality. Bone dry, herbal, straw-inflected lime/gooseberry fruit, with crisp acids for freshness, and a clean but somewhat bitter finish. Good, but not great. Would be a really nice counterpoint with sweet grilled shrimp or seared sweet scallops. B. Was $18.99 from Winex.com. Imported by Kermit Lynch.
From the last few remaining 125+ yr.-old ungrafted vines in this largely uprooted vineyard, this wine has a plush texture, and an intense concentration of flavor that is out of proportion to its weight (which is not heavy). Very unique. And really really good.
Nearly fully-saturated dark ruby violet. Intense, nearly pungent boysenberry fruit, stony minerals, and bitter herbs leap out of the glass. Intense, focused fruit immediately coats the mouth, with loads of mixed berry and berry skin flavors, and lots of high-toned minerality. No discernable oak to obscure this tremendous character of the old vines and unique soil. Full-bodied, with pretty decent acids. Very long, pure finish. Just outstanding to sip on its own, it would also complement a wide variety of dishes and cheeses. A. Was $27 from WineAccess.com, but obviously worth the high (for me) price.
A big, rustic Aglianico, with a very roasted nose/flavor profile and a broad texture.
Completely saturated black black ruby. Low-toned and woodsy/brambly on the nose, with very dark blackberry fruit, and dark baker's chocolate and scorched earth. Bone dry in the mouth, with very minerally-tinged cassis fruit, with pungent roasted herbs abounding. Loads of medium-fine-grained tannins coat the mouth. Good acidity, and full-body too, so the balance is nice. It's just that the flavor profile is kinda rustic. Bfor now, but it might soften and improve over the next 2-3 years. I got this while eating at Pupatella pizzeria in Arlington (which makes amazing true Napolitana pizzas and fritture), and then took the rest home. Imported by Michael R. Downey Selections, Lorton, VA.
A good value, fully mature, fairly complex Valpo. Tedeschi has been a very good producer in this region for several decades. I used to carry a Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco Valpo in the wine shop I managed back in the mid-80s, and it was very good as I recall. This wine is neither fish nor fowl; it's a unique style. Weight and body-wise, it's mid-way between a normal Valpo and Ripasso style.
Dark blackish garnet color. Big, animated, earthy, yeasty nose with loads of ripe but tartish berry fruit. Mouthfilling and flavorful, this wine counterbalances intensity and a light mouthfeel. Very earthy, mature, satisfying flavors, with dark, dry berry skin fruit. Bone dry, with some drying but soft tannin that is slow to leave. Bit of pleasant bitterness appears in the finish. Good, lively acids. I give it a B+, but others who aren't fond of earthy wines may not like it as much. Was $14.99 from Winex.com. Imported by Dreyfus/Ashby, NYC.
(Sorry, 2006 shown.)
A big, dark low-toned, intensely-flavored, and significantly-oaked Zinfandel. Not my favorite style, but still, very well done.
Fully-saturated, plasma-like, black ruby-crimson. Low-toned nose of smoky sandstone and earth, minerals, dark blackberry skins, and espresso roast coffee. Dense flavors immediately coat the mouth, with chocolatey-dark berry flavors and a lot of graphite-inflected minerals. Dense and large-boned. Loads of soft tannin and very full body. Drink this one in mid-winter with a winey stew and it will shine. B+. Was $27 from WineAccess.com.
(Sorry, 2007 shown.)
A zesty, herb-tinged and very quaffable style of Grenache. Not as big and earthy as Chateauneufs, or as powerful, weighty, and densely-fruity as the best old vine Spanish Garnachas. This is a wine that doesn't necessarily shine on its own, but fits in beautifully with a meal.
Dark, magenta-shot ruby. Bright, slightly tartish raspberry fruit coupled with mixed green herbs on the shy nose. Much more animated in the mouth than the as yet undeveloped nose suggests, it fills the mouth with earthy, iodine-tinged, herby black raspberry fruit. Lots of youthful but soft tannin, and very good acids provide nice framework. Medium-full-bodied, with pretty good concentration. As the finish wears on (it's a long one), the fruit lingers and comes more into focus. This wine will age nicely for 2-3 years, but if you like them young, it works nicely now too (but run it through a Vinturi or decant it to allow it to develop. B(+). Was $22.99 from WineAccess.com. Neither a good nor bad value at that price.
One of the best, and best value Rosso di Montalcinos I've had. Fragrant, deep, ripe, complex, and textured.
Very saturated black ruby/garnet with brick edges. Deep, very ripe blackberry and plummy fruit together with loads of fragrant gravel and minerals on the nose. Intense, deep-toned flavors of pungent graphite-laced earth and bone-dry essence of blackberry extract. Lots of medium fine-grained tannins and full body give lots of oomph, and the finish is long and chewy. I can't imagine this improving much, so drink over the next 18 months. A-. Was $14.99 from WTSO.com. Imported by Palm Bay International, Boca Raton, FL.