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Posts Tagged ‘$20-$29’

The must-try 2011 Nino Negri, Inferno Valtellina Superiore

Nino Negro has produced wine in Valtellina since the late 19th century.  Located in northern Italy, the vineyards for the 2011 Nino Negri, Inferno Valtellina Superiore are located on the Alps which form the border with Switzerland.  The rocky Inferno sub-region is regarded as the hottest in the area.  So steep and treacherous are the vineyards that Negri transports the grapes to the winery by helicopter.  This wine offers an aromatic showing right out of the bottle with improved flavor after double-decanting.  It is a compelling wine with a proper nose and dry, expansive flavors.  It has benefited from bottle age and while enjoyable now, should continue to improve over the next few years.  My thanks to Tim for recommending it at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Nino Negri, Inferno Valtellina Superiore – $23
Imported by Frederick Wildman.  This wine is 100% Nebbiolo fermented in stainless steel then aged for 24 months in a mixture of Slavonian and French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  A proper nose, already engaging due to some bottle age.  In the mouth are brighter flavors in this lighter weight wine.  Dry flavors of tart cherry and leather give sappy complexity, blending with spot-on acidity.  A compelling wine with expansive, ethereal flavors and a slightly, baking spiced finish.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

The must-try 2017 Domaine de Saint Cosme, Les Deux Albion blanc

The 2017 Domaine de Saint Cosme, Les Deux Albion blanc, IGP Vaucluse came with a fine recommendation from Phil at MacArthur Beverages.  This is only the second vintage of this wine made using fruit from a vineyard located across from Gigondas.  It is here that the limestone concentration in the soil is amongst the highest in the region.  It is these soils which must contribute to the wine being more floral and nutty than fruity.  Aging on the lees and a judicious use of oak impart attractive body.  Do not fear if you cannot finish the bottle in one night because I find it stays in top shape for days.


2017 Domaine de Saint Cosme, Les Deux Albion blanc, IGP Vaucluse – $20
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 50% Viognier, 30% Picpoul, and 20% Marsanne aged on the lees for 5 months in a mixture of stainless steel and oak.  Alcohol 14%.  A very light, dry straw color.  In the mouth this wine is dense and rounded in body with a floral middle backed by white nuts, stone, and modest fruit.  This drinks well immediately upon opening but also delivers the same quality and satisfaction after opening the bottle for days. *** Now – 2020.

A diverse wine selection at The Locke Store in Millwood, VA

The wines of Agrina from Croatia, Burlotto from Italy, and Historic Series Madeira from Portugal may all be found at The Locke Store in Millwood, Virginia.  I found myself in the small community of Millwood as we returned with our daughter from sleepaway camp the other week.  After eating fried chicken for lunch and ice cream for dessert, she was of course, in need of a snack.  The Locke Store was the closest store I could find so through the country road we drove.  What good luck for me as the wine selection is more akin to what I find in Washington, DC, some 60 miles away.

The Locke Store was built in 1836 but it is since 1844 that it has continuously operated as a store until this day.  In 2002, Juliet Mackay-Smith became proprietor, and under her eye a surprisingly diverse wine selection occupies a good portion of the store.  I grabbed several bottles from vintages I had yet to taste.  If you find yourself in the area, perhaps visiting the Burwell-Morgan Mill or Carter Hall, then be sure to store by the store to pick up some wine as well.

2016 Badenhorst Family Wines, Secateurs Vintage Red Wine – $19
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is a blend of 56% Shiraz, 27% Cinsault, 21% Grenache, and 1% Tinta Barocca.  Alcohol 13%.  The tart berries in the rounded start soon take on flavors of black tea and black fruit.  This is a drier wine but with a good vein of flavor.  Medium bodied with some supportive structure in the middle, this is a solid wine for drinking now.  ** Now – 2019.

2015 Frederick Brouca, Champs Pentus, Faugeres – $20
Imported by Elite Wines.  This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 30% Carignan.  Alcohol 13%.  Needs some air to come together and shake off a bit of yeast.  It is lively on the tongue, almost with spritz, which moves the wine into a vein of dry, mineral, black flavors.  There is a structure of very fine tannins, almost too powerful when first opened, which eventually balance out due to a developing core of round, cherry flavors upfront.  This should improve once the structure resolves. **(*) Now – 2023.

2015 Chateau Puech-Haut, Le Prestige, Saint-Drezery – $23
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.  A cuvee for Philipe Cambie and Eric Solomon.  Alcohol 15%.  A touch earthy with creamy blue fruit that drapes over the tongue due to the lower acidity start.  It transits to a mineral, black finish with a touch more acidity.  Notes of some sweet oak are at the end. This is satisfyingly flavorful wine with minimal tannins that is easy to drink now.  *** Now.

Famille Brunier’s (of Vieux Telegraphe) other flavorful wines

The Brunier family are famous for their wines of Vieux-Telegraphe in Chateauneuf du Pape and their project with Kermit Lynch, Les Pallieres in Gigondas.  They also produce other wines of which I recently tasted one from Ventoux and one from Vaucluse.  Both wines are made from hand-harvested fruit which was destemmed then raised in a combination of cement tanks and foudres.  Though both are largely Grenache based, they are distinct.  The 2016 Famille Brunier, le pigeuolet, Vaucluse is a wine to drink young with the tannins and acidity playing a supportive role to the red fruit and garrigue.  The 2016 Famille Brunier, Megaphone, Ventoux is to be drunk now and over the next several years.  The fruit is clearly more complex with a crispness and tension that brings you back.  I simply relish the flavor profile!  My recommendation is to spend the extra $4 to load up on the Megaphone.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Famille Brunier, Megaphone, Ventoux – $22
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Aromas of mulberry, red cranberry, and raspberry attract.  In the mouth are lively black cherry and tart red fruit flavors with drying tannins providing grip through the aftertaste.  There is good tension from the acidity.  With extended air there is another vein of crisp, red fruit and chalk at the end.  This is a young wine that, though open, will develop for a few years.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

2016 Famille Brunier, le pigeuolet, Vaucluse – $18
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Cinsault, and 5% Carignan.  Alcohol 14%.  Rounded red fruit, garrigue, some tartness, and just the right amount of acidity with minimal tannins.  The flavors always have a round edge before the tart structure and crunch acidity.  With air ripeness builds in the finish.  **(*) Now – 2021.

Tenerife and Ribeira Sacra from Envinate

July 2, 2018 1 comment

There are some rather interesting wines produced by Envinte and of the most recent vintage I particularly like the 2016 Envinate, Lousas, Vinas de aldea, Ribeira Sacra.  It needs air to come into balance but then there is a tension between the high-toned, acidic flavors and the oily, ripe citrus fruit.  Cool stuff.  I could not coax the same complexity out of the 2016 Envinate, Taganan, Parcela Margalagua, Tenerife.  I often feel these Tenerife wines need short-term aging and that is my impression of this wine.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Envinate, Taganan, Parcela Margalagua, Tenerife – $28
Imported by Llaurador Wines.  A field-blend of Listan Negro, Listan Prieto, Baboso, Negramoll, Malvasia Negra, and more from 100+ year old vines.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Brighter, lighter, tarter, with dry tangy middle and watering acidity.  Finishes with fresh tannic service.  Needs time.  ** 2020-2025.

2016 Envinate, Lousas, Vinas de aldea, Ribeira Sacra – $32
Imported by Llaurador Wines.  This wine is 100% Mencia sourced from 60 year old vines.  Alcohol 12.5%.  High-toned and yeasty flavors to start but by the middle a gentle ripeness spreads through the mouth with an old leather note by the finish.  The acidity is almost sharp but with air the oily, ripeness contains it, bringing balance to the orange citrus and dry floral flavors.  Needs some air to show best.  *** Now – 2020.

A diverse set of wines: Armenia, Macedonia, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, and others

It was over the bottle of Ethiopian Chardonnay, brought by Jacques several weeks ago, that he proposed the idea of hosting a wine dinner to include bottles from Macedonia and Lebanon.  The origins of the wines we tried were nearly as diverse as the guests he hosted, who together represent nine different nationalities.  Jacques supplied a number of wines he had acquired over the years, bringing them from his home cellar to the Washington, DC, area.

A few other wines were added, including those I had purchased from MacArthur Beverages, from which we started with the 2017 2016 Domaine Neferis, Rose Magnifique, Sidi Salem, Tunisia.  A solid rose from Tunisia, how can you not try it?

My favorite red wines all came from Jacques.  It took me several minutes to realize I had drunk an earlier vintage of the 2012 Domaine des Tourelles, Syrah, Grand Cuvee, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.  The 2012 vintage is clearly much better than the 2009 I had drunk earlier with Taz, which was also supplied by Jacques.  The 2012 is a dark flavored wine with strong development potential.  I would try it again in a few years.  My favorite wine is the 2005 Chateau Musar, Rouge, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.  It is mouth filling with mature flavors that do not weigh you down and capable of further development.  Purchased pre-war, the 2008 Domaine de Bargylus, Syria struck me as the biggest surprise of the night.  The 2008 vintage is only the third for the domain.  It is very well-made and drinkable, perhaps a nod must be given to consulting oenologist Stephane Derenoncourt.  The family produces wine in both Syria and Lebanon but I believe Jacques prefers their Syrian wine.

Our final wine was sat for most of the evening in a decanter.  Complete with wooden presentation box and metal label, the 2013 Kamnik, Vranec, Terroir Grand Reserva, Macedonia is big both in bottle and in alcohol.  I notice power more than terroir but it is a good drink with the alcohol integrated.

Thanks again to Jacques and his wife.  Please find my tasting notes for these and the other wines I tasted below.

2017 2016 Domaine Neferis, Rose Magnifique, Sidi Salem, Tunisia
Imported by Travis Wine Imports. This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache. Alcohol 13.5%.  A medium, dry rose color.  In the mouth is a moderate body, floral middle, watering acidity, and a lighter finish.  Light and bright in flavor, it takes on a creamy mouthfeel and notes of pastilles in the finish. ** Now.

2017 Minuty, Rose M, Cotes de Provence
Imported by Chateau & Estates. Alcohol 13%.  A rather light dry rose color.  This light, acidity driven wine bears just a touch of texture but plentiful stone notes.  ** Now.

2013 Yacoubian-Hobbs, Aghavnadzor, Vayots Dzor, Armenia
Imported by Paul Hobbs Selections. This wine is a blend of Voskehat, Khatuni, Qrdi, and Garan Demak. Alcohol 12.8%.  Both a light color and a light nose.  Improves with warmth to reveal white nuts, hints of wood but is overall modest in flavor.  Interesting but left me wanted for more.  *(*) Now – 2019.

2003 Chateau Musar, Blanc, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This wine is 100% Merwah.  Alcohol 12%.  A copper-yellow color.  Mature in the mouth with an oxidative note then Sherry flavors with some toast.  At first moderate in body with watering acidity it eventually develops an enjoyable lanolin roundness through the long aftertaste.  Certainly an acquired taste.  **(*) Now but will last.

2010 Tsantali, Xinomavro Reserva, Naoussa, Greece
Imported by Fantis Imports. Alcohol 13%.  Quite nice actually with initially dry flavors of black cherry then an engaging racy bit.  *** Now – 2020.

2004 Domaine Ferrando, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is 100% old-vine Grenache.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Fully mature with wood box, black cherry, and Kirsch all delivered in a rounded style.  Very good finish.  *** Now.

2012 Domaine des Tourelles, Syrah, Grand Cuvee, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This wine is 100% Syrah. Alcohol 14.5%.  Very dark in the glass with dark flavors of incense.  There is extract and tannins structured for a requisite few more years of development.  I like the dark fruit profile and mouthfeel.  The new oak needs to integrate but strong potential.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2005 Chateau Musar, Rouge, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, and Carignan aged in cement vats, French oak barrels, and finally vats.  Alcohol 14%.  Mature with mouth filling flavors of cherry, good acidity, and animale bits adding complexity.  The citric tannins and acidity will see further development.  Unique!  **** Now – 2028.

2008 Domaine de Bargylus, Syria
This wine is a blend of 45% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Merlot. Alcohol 14.5%.  Very dark in color.  Some roast on the nose but mature overall.  In the mouth are good flavors and fine extract.  A successful blend that opens up to a modern profile with good length.  *** Now – 2023.

2013 Stobi, Vranec, Veritas, Tikves, Macdeonia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Vranec aged 24 months in 80% new Slavonian oak casks and 20% Slavonian oak barrels. Alcohol 14%.  Modern flavors of cherry with some brightness, certainly clean and balanced with no hard edges.  Could use a year or two to open up.  ** Now – 2023.

2013 Kamnik, Vranec, Terroir Grand Reserva, Macedonia
This wine is 100% Vranec sourced from 17 year old vines aged 28 months in French and American oak barrels. Alcohol 16.3%.  An intense, yet flavorful wine with powerful ripe dark fruits and a long, powerful finish.  One notices power and not alcohol.  A bit unevolved at this point so come back in a few years.  *** 2020-2028.

A pair of Oregon Pinot Noir

If you are interested in Pinot Noir then I strongly recommend you try the 2016 Walter Scott, La Combe Verte, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley.  It is best left to age for a year or two but if you are tempted now then give it a long decant.   It is a serious wine with deep flavor and sappy acidity all at a great price.  Stock up!  The 2014 Bryn Mawr Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley could use a touch of age as well, though I suspect it will always be closely played.  There is a certain old-school quality to it.  Thanks to Andy at MacArthur Beverages for the recommendations.

2016 Walter Scott, La Combe Verte, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley – $26
Alcohol 13.6%.  Fine, ripe varietal aromas on the nose make way to fresh, yet weighty flavors and almost sappy acidity.  Blue fruit flavors develop over a moderately ripe structure with a hint of fresh greenness at the end.  Tasted over two days this young wine already has good depth but remains tight as it needs to develop for a year or two before you should drink it.  ***(*) 2020-2025.

2014 Bryn Mawr Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley – $22
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir aged 9 months in 30% new French oak.  Alcohol 13.3%.  A firm profile with slightly zippy, citric acidity mark this closely played wine with flavors of black cherry.  There is some spice, a stemmy nature, and an old-school herbal note.  **(*) 2019-2022.