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Diverse Italian wines

I admit to being behind in posting my tasting notes.   In an effort to clear some backlog, you will find nine notes from recent Italian bottles in order of preference.  I would try anything rated *** or **(*).  These selections are priced between $15 and $25 at MacArthur Beverages which is quite an affordable range.

2015 Rainoldi, Inferno, Valtellina Superiore – $25
Imported by Winebow. Alcohol 13%. A darker flavored wine with a ripe vein in it. There is some stemmy, supportive structure but it becomes rounder towards the end. The underlying black fruit picks up the chewy tannins to good effect. Satisfying. *** Now – 2024.

2010 Vigne Marina Coppi, Castellania, Colli Tortonesi – $25
Alcohol 14.5%. This wine has power to the black fruited, slightly puckering flavor. There are some astringent tannins and a sour tilt in the finish but this is thoroughly enjoyable. *** Now – 2029.

2015 Pertimali, La Querciolina, Montecucco Rosso – $17
Imported by Le Storie Wines.  Alcohol 14%.  Dark fruited with some red flavors as the slightly lively acidity comes into play.  There is a crisp edge to the mineral flavor but this is a robust wine with cola-like verve before the drier, baking spiced finish.  **(*) Now – 2029.

2015 Conte Guicciardini, Massi di Mandorlaia, I Massi, Morellino di Scansano – $19
Imported by Michael R. Downey. Alcohol 14.5%. There are dark, floral berry aromas on the nose. Rounded flavors of mixed red and blue berries are almost earthy with a stone note. There is fine structure and watering acidity framing the wine. The fruit focuses in the finish. **(*) Now – 2023.

2014 Tolaini, Al Passo, Tuscany – $18
Imported by Banville Wine Merchants. Alcohol 14.5%.  An herbaceous edge before the ripe, blue and black fruit.  The flavors are carried on a dry, acidic edge which makes it fresh in the middle.  This is attractive in a cooler, tannic way.  **(*) Now – 2024.

2010 Villa S’Anna, Chianti Colli Senesi – $20
A maturing wine with firm aromas of cherry and soil. In the mouth it is focused with firm, black cherry flavor and watering acidity. It is still structured but in an enjoyable, integrated way. It wraps up with dry, earthy soil notes. **(*)  Now – 2024.

2017 Coppo L’Avvocata, Barbera d’Asti – $15
A good nose. In the mouth is lively red fruit, red tart fruit with black fruit underlying it. This is acidity driven with a mineral zip at the end. Flavorful with ripe hints of rolly polly stones and some heat. **(*) Now – 2022.

2016 Benanti, Etna Rosso – $20
Imported by RWK Imports. This wine is a blend of 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio. Alcohol 13.5%. A good nose with floral perfume. Robust nerello flavors greet but they are a bit simple. The wine is clean and while it retains focus it does reveal some weight which becomes integrated with the dry structure and acidity.  ** Now – 2024.

2016 Leone de Castris, Villa Santera, Primitivo di Manduria – $17
Imported by Winebow.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Sweet vanilla and bakery aromas.  In the mouth are blue fruits with a rounded edge.  This is a ripe wine, bordering on sweet but fortunately becomes more mineral and balanced towards the finish. ** Now – 2021.

Good value in Bordeaux


Jenn and I tasted through several value recommendations from Phil and John at MacArthur Beverages. At the budget end you cannot go wrong with the 2016 Chateau Croix-Mouton, Bordeaux Superieur or 2015 Chateau Camino Salva, Haut-Medoc. The Croix-Mouton is fresh, somewhat herbaceous with a slightly juicy core of fruit. It has balance. The Camino Salva offers a touch more fruit and fat with a saline aspect that I like. You should drink both of these wines over the next few years.  The 2015 Les Brulieres de Beychevelle, Haut-Medoc is more expensive but finer with creamy blue fruit and a juicy spiced finish. There are no coarse edges in this bottle. Jenn remarked on her enjoyment several times.

2016 Chateau Croix-Mouton, Bordeaux Superieur – $17
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 14%. Bright with an herbaceous edge and spine of acidity. There are fresh flavors of black and red fruit supported by ripe, herbaceous tannins in the form of modest structure. It needs half an hour to an hour of air before it shows best, offering a fresh, slightly juicy core of fruit and grip. ** Now – 2022.

2015 Chateau Tour St Bonnet, Medoc – $20
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 13.5%. An herbaceous nose. This is a bright wine has bright fruit, bright acidity, and dry flavor through the solid aftertaste. There is some grip and mouthfeel from the slight structure. Lurking underneath are blue fruits and cassis. ** Now – 2022.

2015 Chateau Camino Salva, Haut-Medoc – $15
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13.5%. Black fruit, greenhouse, and vanilla are delivered with almost crisp acidity. With air this improves, offering modest density to the flavor of cassis. It shows a slightly saline and savory edge that I find attractive. The freshness coupled with modest structure and fat should make for a good drink over the next several years. **(*) Now – 2023

2015 Les Brulieres de Beychevelle, Haut-Medoc – $25
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13.5%. A fine nose. In the mouth are weighty, almost creamy flavors of blue fruit and cinnamon before the juicy, baking spiced finish. The cool fruit flavors are of blue and black berries, though it becomes more black with air. A finely flavored wine carried by watering acidity into the modestly grip at the end. Closely played right now, but will open up over the next year or two. *** Now – 2025.

Exciting wine from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia

February 20, 2019 Leave a comment

At MacArthur Beverages, John recently recommended two wines made from indigenous varieties which I must recommend that you try out.  The 2017 Vilinka Cellars, Zilavka, Bosnia-Herzegovina is a very fine white wine.  Think white fruit, nuts, lively acidity, and some chalk.  I do not usually drink much white wine but I felt compelled to start every night with a glass.  It dances on the tongue with plenty of fruit to back it; these are qualities I find in good German Riesling.  If that is lively and youthful, the 2015 Ivika Pilizota Winery, Babic, North Dalmatia, Croatia is hitting its mature phase.  There is some earth, lifted ripeness, and a floral, black tea finish.  In short, a mature wine to drink this year.  These unique wines are adeptly made and outperform their pricing.  Stock up!

2017 Vilinka Cellars, Zilavka, Bosnia-Herzegovina – $20
Imported by Winebow. Alcohol 12.7%.  A pale, yellow straw color.  Articulate on the nose with bright white fruit and nuts.  In the mouth are lively herbaceous flavors reminiscent of the nose, white fruit and nuts but also lychee with baking spices.  There is density to the mouth feel.  It wraps up with chalk and a woodsey/stemmy bit.  Once open, it drinks in top form for days.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

2015 Ivika Pilizota Winery, Babic, North Dalmatia, Croatia – $17
Imported by Vinum USA.  This wine is 100% Babic.  Alcohol 13%.  Earthy and maturing aromas greet.  In the mouth is a rounded start with dense fruit that is integrated with the minimal tannins.  The flavors turn bluer in the marshmallow-like ripe finish.  This is a smooth wine for drinking now.  With air it shows a floral, spiced middle, lifted ripeness, and a little floral black tea in the finish.  *** Now – 2020.

A good pair from Erich Sattler

February 13, 2019 Leave a comment

I returned to MacArthur Beverages to pick up more 2017 Erich Sattler, Zwiegelt, Burgenland.  Both Jenn and I really enjoyed a bottle drunk mid week.  It is a satisfying, easy to drink wine with a good balance between green lightness and ripeness.  Sadly, there was none left in the store so I picked up the 2015 Erich Sattler, St. Laurent, Burgenland instead.  I was a bit underwhelmed at first for it does not have the tension of the Zwiegelt.  A bit reduced at first but with air it came into focus with the saline qualities balancing the tart fruit.  Well-done.

2017 Erich Sattler, Zwiegelt, Burgenland – ~$20
A Terry Theise Estate Selection imported by Skurnik Wines.  Alcohol 13%.  Bright with hints of green herbaceousness that provide attractive contrast to the ripeness.  There is watering acidity but also tension between the acidity and flavors.  This is an easy to drink, complete wine for the near term.  There is even a hint of fat.  *** Now – 2020.

2015 Erich Sattler, St. Laurent, Burgenland – ~$19
A Terry Theise Estate Selection imported by Skurnik Wines.  Alcohol 13%.  Salty flavors of modestly ripe fruit exhibit a cool tilt.  The wine has rounded edges and watering acidity.  At first the focus is on somewhat tart mulberry flavors but with air, the wine comes into focus.  It improves after an hour or two taking on dry leather, stones, and becoming more saline in the end.  *** Now – 2022.

A blind tasting featuring wines from Yvon Clerget and Duroche

February 12, 2019 Leave a comment

I was fortunate to be Phil’s guest at the lastest blind tasting he held for the group.  Phil had smoked some chuck for dinner, providing a savory reminder of what was to come after the blind tasting.  First up, we sampled the 2017 Chateau L’Ermitage, Auzan, Costieres de Nimes.  It is a good wine to drink this year and a reminder that I do not drink enough Rhone-style white wines.

I do not drink enough red Burgundy to have even remotely narrowed in on the six blind wines we tasted.  Beyond the particularly tasty bottles, Domaine Yvon Clerget and Domaine Duroche represent wines made by a young generation.  Thibaud Clerget produced his first wines in 2015 and Pierre Duroche took over his father’s estate in 2005. It is quite something then, that the 2015 Domaine Y. Clerget, Volnay 1er Cru Carelle sous la Chapelle is in the best spot for a wine to drink now or cellar for the future.  It is tasty from the first pour but develops over an evening.  I will admit the ripeness of the 2016 Domaine Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin Champ had me guessing New Zealand Pinot Noir!  Despite that grave error, this is satisfying being the most fruited, forward wine we tasted.  The 2015 Domaine Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Champeaux  is another fine wine for drinking now.  There is maturity already reflected in palate with additional complexity from the earth.  It is the most expensive wine of the evening yet also the most attractive.  I found these three wines the most enjoyable that evening.  I guess that the others did as well for these bottles were completely finished.  For those with patience, do not overlook the 2015 Domaine Y. Clerget, Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens.  It has an impressive future ahead.

With dinner we drank a bottle of 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja.  While not the most impressive wine, it was consumed quickly and I suspect it would benefit from further decanting.  I typically like Rabaja very much.  The final wine of the night is a library release that was recorked in 2018. At 27 years of age the 1992 Weingut Wegeler, Vintage Collection, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel is a modest, fully mature wine.  It is quite lively on the tongue which keeps it refreshing.

Starter

2017 Chateau L’Ermitage, Auzan, Costieres de Nimes
Imported by Terrison Wines.  This wine is a blend of 60% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc, and 20% Viognier.  Aromas of flowers and nuts.  Modest in body and light in weight.  Quite floral in flavor with tree fruits, stones, and a very floral finish.  A solid wine to drink once the spring weather arrives.  *** Now – 2021.

Burgundy

1 – 2015 Domaine Y. Clerget, Volnay – $59
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13.5%.  A young color with a touch of VA on the nose.  The young flavors in the mouth are tart with ripe fruit soon developing.  Some concentration, slightly chewy, young structure, and tart acidity.  Becomes tighter with air.  **(*) Now – 2024.

2 – 2015 Domaine Y. Clerget, Volnay 1er Cru Carelle sous la Chapelle – $69
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13.5%.  A young color with violet.  A touch more aromatic.  In the mouth are expansive flavors of blue and black fruit supported by fine and drying tannins.  It picks up more weight in the finish.  Clearly more serious than #1.  This remains the easiest drinking of the six blind wines, taking on hints of spice and some lifted, ripeness in the finish. ***(*) Now – 2029.

3 – 2015 Domaine Y. Clerget, Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens – $119
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13%.  Tart, young, and dry structured yet clearly possess power for the flavors to develop.   Younger in profile than #2, it has a big future ahead.  Though primary and grapey with a mineral, black fruited finish, the fine almost bitter tannins make it trying to drink at this point.  It is best left in the cellar for several more years.  **(**) 2022-2037.

4 – 2016 Domaine Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin – $59
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Aromas of sulphur never blow off but there is some grapiness.  In the mouth it tastes like a natural wine with cranberry fruit, crunch acidity, and light finish.  In no way like the other wines so must be off.  Not Rated.

5 – 2016 Domaine Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin Champ – $69
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  A lovely nose.  Very ripe and sweet fruit with just enough acidity and supportive structured.  Perhaps a hint of heat in the end.  It develops citrus notes.  Structured.  Tart acidity. *** Now – 2024.

6 – 2015 Domaine Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Champeaux – $129
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Kirsch on the nose.  A hint of maturity in the mouth make this the most drinkable of the Duroche.  A ripe core of fruit, cherries, and a hint of earth make this a beautiful wine. **** Now – 2024.

Dinner Wines

2004 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja
Imported by Vias Imports.  Alcohol 14%.  Starting to mellow, maturing but focused with ripeness and grip to support future life.  Balanced.  Served immediately from a decanter, it was consumed quickly.  ***(*) Now – 2034.

1992 Weingut Wegeler, Vintage Collection, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel
Imported by Comete Wines.  Alcohol 8%.  A little spritz on the tongue then fully mature flavors are evident.  Dense lemon with modest ripe yellow fruit are fresh but the finish is short.  A slightest hint of tea.  *** Now but will last.

Two Affordable Wines for the Shutdown

January 24, 2019 1 comment

As the shutdown continues and a second missed paycheck is all but inevitable, today’s post features two wines that offer plenty of flavor at attractive prices.  The 2013 Domaine Boudau, Clot del Pila, Les Gargolines, Cotes du Roussillon might the best value out there. It is a personable wine about to reach its open, mature period.  This means you can tuck away a few cases to get you through the shutdown or to drink over the next several years. You should also try the latest vintage of 2015 Sella & Mosca, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva.   The nose is a subtle right now and the flavors are a bit firm so while pleasurable , it will be even better this summer.  You may find these honest wines at MacArthur Beverages.  If you are short on funds then just grab the Clos de Pila.

2013 Domaine Boudau, Clot del Pila, Les Gargolines, Cotes du Roussillon – $13
Imported by Zwine Gallery Imports.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache.  Alcohol 14%.  Still focused upon opening but after one hour or so it opens up.  The flavors of cherry are supported by fine and firm structure with fresh acidity.  It tastes of vintage hard candy with ripe kirsch in the finish.  Really quite tasty and will drink well for a few years.  *** Now – 2023.

2015 Sella & Mosca, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva – $15
Imported by Palm Bay International.  This wine is 100% Cannonau fermented in stainless steel then aged for two years in large Slavonian oak casks.  Alcohol 14.5%. A subtle nose right now but fresh tasting fruit and minimal structure indicate it will soon be ready to drink.  There are bits of firm cherry, black fruit, and some sour fruit towards the finish.  It is even a touch mineral.  **(*) Now – 2022.

Saperavi for a Snowy Day

January 13, 2019 Leave a comment

If you spent part of your day shoveling snow then you should recuperate by a fire.  A hearty meal and a glass or two of Georgian Saperavi will shake off any remaining coldness.  Of the trio featured in this post, the label of the 2016 Zurab Topuridze, Iberieli, Saperavi Light Bodied, Kakheti leaves something to be desired but the wine does not.  Though the lightest colored and lightest bodied, it requires a full day in the decanter to open up.  You are then treated to a nose of berry fruit and more interestingly, black tea and floral flavors.  It is almost zippy which keeps it fresh.  It becomes a touch yeasty with extended air so my recommendation is to drink between 24-48 hours in the decanter.  It is my favorite of the three being a lighter wine,which makes it easier to experience the various flavors.  I have tried two bottles of 2016 Tanini, Qvevri Saperavi, Kakheti.  Decanting is required as well.  This wine exhibits the inky intensity that I have only experienced with Saperavi raised in qvevri.  This is a more mineral wine with one bottle exhibiting floral notes.  Though it should be drunk after decanting, I believe it should be cellared for another year.  The 2016 Pheasant’s Tears, Saperavi, Kakheti represents the most amount of flavor for the cost.  If you want a fully immersive experience then grab a bottle.  Despite the packed in flavors of black fruit and minerals there is spot-on zippy acidity.  You may find these wines at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Zurab Topuridze, Iberieli, Saperavi Light Bodied, Kakheti – $22
Imported by Terrell Wines. This wine is 100% Saperavi that was fermented and raised in qvevri. Alcohol 13.%.  A medium, cranberry-cherry color.  Brighter berry fruit, almost delicate on the nose.  In the mouth the acidity is lively almost zippy on which the flavors of black tea are floral accented.  Actually quite attractive with extended air.  Unique with a long aftertaste.  *** Now – 2029.

2016 Tanini, Qvevri Saperavi, Kakheti – $20
Imported by Terrell Wines. Alcohol 15%.  An almost black cherry color, bordering on completely opaque.  An intense fruit start mineral middle with focused fruit flavors textured by fruit extract. One bottle showed more floral tones. Lively acidity with a nutty undertone.   **(*) 2020 – 2029

2016 Pheasant’s Tears, Saperavi, Kakheti – $17
Imported by Terrell Wines. This wine is 100% Saperavi that was fermented and raised in qvevri. Alcohol 14%. This is surely, completely opaque in the glass.  An intense wine with black fruit and minerals.  The fruit is focused with a zippy personality then watering acidity by the finish.  The flavor is closely played right now but it is clearly packed in.  Incredible amounts of flavor but a bit much for me.  ** Now to whenever.