Waiheke Island, New Zealand
$6 at Seattle, WA (purchased 5/21/13)
My first visit back after the sale yielded this gem. This wine (like many coming from NZ) had a Stelvin closure which I am finding more and more to be very beneficial for keeping white wines fresher. Gold in color with a delicious toasty nose suggesting some barrel fermentation along with melon, citrus, pineapple and vanilla spice. Medium weight on the palate and decent acidity. At first, the pineapple was most dominant, but as the wine opened there was lemon lime and apple and all the fruits were well integrated with the toasty oak. Nice lingering finish with a creamy texture. This is a real winner and a great QPR. Thumb’s way up for me and I hope there is some left when I visit again. I might have to make a special trip.
Another bottle that I purchased for $4.79 on the last day of the sale, while I was visiting my in-laws on the Seattle side of the Sound. I had been looking for this wine for months based on the comments of one of our readers, Janet Reed in Seattle. Janet said: “A new bottle spotted is Murphy Vineyards Syrah 2005. Not a lot of information on the bottle–Sierra Foothills grapes, 14.4% alcohol. Website’s latest wines are 2007 cabs, no syrah listed. Much of the website offers consultation services to wine growers, which may explain why this is at GO. The shelf label claims the original price was 25 dollars; it’s 6 at GO. Anybody know anything about this one? And a little later she said: “We popped the Murphy Syrah last night. Age has been kind to it–tannins nicely resolved, berry fruit integrated and a bit of spice. Dark berry and pipe tobacco in the nose. We liked it enough for me to send my husband out to pick up a few more.”
Actually I bought two bottles of this wine and the first one I opened was seriouslycorked. So I immediately opened the other one. That one was wonderful! Very pretty clear ruby/garnet. Nose shows plenty of smoked meat and cinnamon/clove/five spice aromas. On the palate it has medium chewy tannins, restrained oak and plenty of sweet fruit, black plum, blackberry flavors. Acidity is right on the mark. This is a very tasty, well-balanced Syrah that I’d gladly buy more of if there’s still any to be had when I return to the Seattle side for Father’s Day next month. Love the label too.
California; 14.2% ABV
$7 at the Oakland, CA store on 16 May
(I recycled the bottle before I took a photo, but it looked a lot like this M-S label.)
I generally don’t like the soft unstructured nature of Merlot, but this one is pretty good, both more emphatic and more elegant than most. It needs about a half hour of air, continues to develop for a while after that, and is still fine three hours later. It shows classic Merlot flavors of ripe blackcurrant, purplish red cherries, and ripe red currant, with good acid of these fruits, and a little vanilla / oak. I wouldn’t get more because I’m not that wild about Merlot, but I think this is pretty good for the price.
Mendoza, Argentina; 14% ABV
$4 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 12 May
Forget about Torrontés only being related to Muscat. This wine tastes to me pretty much like Muscat, albeit one with more balanced acid, minerality and light bitterness than a California version.
A perfumed nose of fruity white and yellow flowers leads to a full-bodied palate of white (flowers, grape, pear), with some yellow (flowers, pear, grapefruit) and a little green (grape, avocado?), with textured minerality and a slight herbal character. It somewhat triggers my dislike of Muscats (which I often find too cloying), but personal tastes aside if possible, I think this is very good wine for the money.
A beautiful clear deep ruby/garnet. Very fragrant with youthful grapey, raspberry aromas. Flavors of pure, unadulterated liquid raspberry. Great acidity to offset the fruit-forward qualities. Soft and smooth with little to no discernible tannin. Completely uncomplicated, for me, it’s a summer quaffing red. Less than a year old, it’s like a nouveau Grenache…very tasty for what it is. Perhaps a better bargain at $3.99 or less.
This wine is completely different from the Tempranillo/Garnacha blend with similar label that bin5 reviewed back on April 1st. This wine sees only stainless steel, while the far more sophisticated blend that bin5 reviewed spends time in American oak barrels. Here’s a link to the producer’s website.
“Single Vineyard Estate,” La Mancha DO, Spain; 14% ABV
60% Tempranillo, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Syrah
$3 at the Berkeley, CA store on 25 April
I bought this a while ago, but I delayed opening it until last night because (1) I had already reviewed the FA 2007 Tempranillo and 2009 Viura and it seemed enough to give us an idea about these wines, (2) this $3 red disappeared pretty quickly, and (3) very little interesting has shown after the sale so I somewhat reluctantly went back to this bottle.
However, I was pleasantly surprised. After about an hour of air, this wine was fuller, riper, and more complex than the the Tempranillo, showing a range of red fruits – tart cherry, dark cherry, hibiscus – down to some lighter blueberry / blackberry, and some softness of aged wood. It’s still on the more lean and acid side, but I liked it quite well for the price. No wonder it sold out quickly.
The next day, the saved single-glass bottle had fully aired, with greater forward, tangy, ripe fruit and the wood a little spiced. It was slightly oxidized but overall more yummy.
Monterey County, CA
$5 at Renton, WA (purchased 5/12/13)
I wandered in on the last day and this was a wine I hadn’t seen on my earlier trips. Trinchero Family is a big winery behind the likes of Menage a Trois, Folie a Duex, and Sutter Home to name a few. This wine retailed for $13 from what I could gather. I was attracted by low alcohol and Monterey location of the grapes. Further research revealed the cool climate Santa Lucia fog influence.
Dark in color with a encouraging and pleasant nose of blackberry, raspberry, and a touch of spice. Nice balance on the palate and integrated flavors and the raspberry being more prominent is almost a jammy way. Good acidity and showing its age well. It finishes with some tartness that came out more over time. Overall a decent showing, decent price, and worth a try if you like a leaner style. I “lean” to a thumbs up.
During the recent sale, I picked up two different domestic Gewurztraminers and decided I had an excellent opportunity to taste them side-by-side. I liked them both. Will wonders never cease (as my dear mother used to say)? Here’s the scoop.
The first G wine I tasted was the 2010 Swallow from Oregon at 13% alcohol. Price is $3.99 ($3.19 for the sale). From the web site I can’t tell if they’re still in operation. I bought my bottle at the Kenmore, WA GO, but I believe the Silverdale store also carries it. It was my first visit to the Kenmore store (near my in-laws’ home where I visited on Mother’s Day) and I must say that I was most impressed with their selection and the physical space they’ve provided for their wine display. Kudos to the proprietor and employees.
Now, back to the wine. Brilliant pale golden; distinctly varietal spicy floral and lychee nut aromas; in the mouth it’s leaning toward the sweeter side of the Gewurz spectrum ( what I consider to be the more Americanized style). But it shows fairly intense spiced apple, lychee and slightly piney flavors with a nice touch of bitterness in the seriously long finish. There’s an Alsatian richness to this wine—similar to though not as extracted as a Vendange Tardive style. Overall it has great Gewurz characteristics in the nose and the mouth. I’m liking it and will return for more, but it’s likely too sweet for some of our readers. Should do well with spicy Asian foods. Special Note: Be aware that the 2009 vintage of this wine is also out there in some GO’s. See my take on the ’09 in reply comments below about a brief comparison of the two vintages.
Next is the 2010 Ventana Arroyo Seco, CA Gewurz at 13.7% alc. that I purchased at the Silverdale, WA store. Price is a whopping $10.99 ($8.79 for the sale) and $22.00 at the winery. Back label indicates that it’s “sustainably grown” in Monterey County. My notes: Clear pale straw; nose is slow to release it’s bouquet, then shows green apple and light five spice, straddling the line between Riesling and Gewurz character. In the mouth it’s off-dry and light, but showing some extraction from light skin contact. Flavors are more lemony than most Gewurz with subdued Granny Smith apple. It lacks the intensity of the Swallow, which is strange because when I tasted it at my local GO, it seemed mighty varietal. About an hour’s time brings out it’s best in fragrance and flavors, but it’s a more delicate style. A decent Gewurz, but IMHO it’s way overpriced, even at the sale price with 20% off.
Final results: Thumbs Up for both for different reasons, but I’m only buying more of the Swallow. As it’s back label states, “Distinctive wines at a price you can Swallow.”
Dunnigan Hills, CA. 38º Brix at harvest, 200 g/L RS;12.5% ABV
Purchased 5/10/2013 at the Berkeley, CA store
A pretty clear bottle with only painted labeling allows you to see the color, which is a deeper gold than you might expect even given the concentration of this juice; Viognier is not known for aging, so I was a little worried about oxidation, but the clear bottle also revealed a nice natural cork in great shape, so for $4.80 it was worth a try.
Not bad, not great. Some very nice and varietally correct aromas – fat and waxy, honey/honeysuckle over peach/nectarine tending toward the dried apricot end, some slight oxidation notes in a nutty, toasty, caramelized vein. Nice but didn’t have the nose soaring from the glass I look for in great examples of a Viognier, especially for a late-harvest version. Not an aromatic powerhouse, but the palate is full of rich, creamy fruit and has buckets of ripe acidity to balance the syrupy sweetness, so it’s quite drinkable if a little bland. Really a well-made wine with no real flaws, just getting a bit long in the tooth for those who prefer more perfume and freshness in a dessert wine, although you may like it better than I did if you enjoy Vin Santo and other more caramelly, nutty types of dessert wine. I would like to give it a Thumbs Up for effort but really can’t go higher than Drinkable + in good conscience because I just don’t find it exciting enough to be worth the caloric intake regardless of the price. Maybe pour it over ice cream instead of drinking it if you’re really feeling decadent.
Paso Robles, CA. 68% Syrah, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon; 15.5% ABV
Purchased 4/30/2013 at the Berkeley, CA store
Heavy bottle, nice natural cork. Purple-black, inky and viscous with long legs. Big nose of ripe blackberry, roasted plum, cassis, hints of herbs, smoke, sagebrush, cedar and sandalwood. Really impressive but still seems restrained, holding back. The palate has very well-delineated flavors; lush and deep black currant, blackberry, and blueberry fruit, lots of length and breadth. The Cab and Syrah are both high-performance examples of their respective varietals and play well together in this blend. This wine is approachable now but has formidable tannins; it’s going to take years of aging to mellow and bring out all its potential. Unlike the Pope Valley, which may always be too tannic, I feel the Justin is a pretty sure bet to improve with age; it has a lot of tannin but everything seems in balance here. A young wine with a bright future.