Ottomonti 2009 Sagrantino di Montefalco

Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG, Umbria, central Italy; 14% ABV
$11 at the Berkeley, CA store on 9 July.  I’m pretty sure I’ve also seen it at Richmond.

Ottomonti_2009_SagrantinoThis is another wine that’s been around for a while, but it took me that long to realize it was a different vintage from the 2007 Lim13 and I liked earlier (more about Sagrantino di Montefalco there).  However, one plus from this delay is that I can be more certain that the long airing time I prescribe is not the result of bottle shock from transit.  :)

This wine didn’t seem to have all that much going for it until after about three hours in a decanter.  Then, it erupted with intense, dark ripe fruits of cherry, plum and maybe blackberry, strawberry jam, rose petals, and a little prune, with a tannic finish.  This wine easily surpasses the 2007 in both power and finesse, if not necessarily in complexity, and probably has another couple years of life in it.  Still, I’ll add a small warning that you must appreciate the earthy fruit and tangy acid of Italian wines in order to enjoy this one.  Although I say “jam,” this wine is not “jammy;” it is a force to be reckoned with.

Macaron 2011 Pinot Noir

IGT della Venezie, Italy; 12.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 3 July

Macaron_2011_PinotNoirNortheastern Italy has given us some nice lighter, aromatic reds, so, although I had never heard of Italian Pinot Noir, I eagerly picked this up despite the corny name and label.  At least on the first night, it wasn’t really what I expected.

The wine starts out with pleasant, light red raspberry and cherry fruit, but the darker and richer finish promises more with air.  I think it was fully aired after about 1:45 in a decanter, when it showed flavors of dark cherry / plum, dark red or black raspberry, with some earth and spice, in a medium body.  Instead of being delicate, acid, and aromatic as I had expected, it was darker, richer, and riper, although not coming close to a heavier Californian Pinot Noir.  As far as flavors go, I almost didn’t recognize it as a Pinot Noir, and found it a little bland and dull.

I liked the second half (stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air) much better.  The wine showed flavors I found more recognizably Pinot-like along the usual cherry, orange, and earth lines, and it had more of the tangy acid I associate with northern Italian reds.  Anyway, for the price, I think it’s quite good and, especially if you like Italian wine, it’s definitely worth trying.  I’d love to hear anyone else’s take on it.

Punto Niño 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva

from the Chilean outpost of southern French producer LaRoche
Maipo Valley, Chile; 14.5% ABV
imported by Wilson Daniels
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 3 July

PuntoNino_2011_CabSResI’ve reviewed a couple decent whites and an outstanding rosé from LaRoche in southern France.  Also, one of my favorite Chilean reds was from the Chilean project of another French producer.  And, finally, it was imported by Wilson Daniels, whose wines have usually been pretty good values at the GO.  So, for me this was an instant grab.  However, I was not so thrilled by this wine.

When I opened the bottle, I first poured out a single-glass (750ml / 4) screw cap bottle and twisted the cap on with very little air.  Even over the roughly four hours over which we drank the remaining 3/4 bottle, I couldn’t tell it had fully aired.  After 2 to 3 hours, it showed pretty nice flavors of “grilled blackberry,” darker plum / mulberry, red cherry, and dark cooked green bell pepper / maybe sulfur, but the wine still felt rather restrained and rather rough, especially on the finish.  I had hoped the rest would be better.

However, the saved single-glass bottle was not particularly different or better.  The flavors were a bit fuller, but the abrasiveness I disliked on the first night was still there in force.  Maybe this would age into a graceful wine, but I’m not optimistic.

2012 Nieto Senetiner Reserva Pinot Noir, Mendoza, Argentina $4.99

Silverdale, WA    14% alc.    (Purchased on 7/3/14)

IMG_1615Mostly clear, dark ruby and on the darker end of the color spectrum for Pinot Noir.  Nose shows dark Bing cherry, cinnamon and a sort of stereotypical California-type PN color and aroma profile.   In the mouth it’s initially somewhat hot from the slightly elevated alcohol.  But the flavors are undeniably Pinot and the extract is more pronounced than I think I was expecting from a Pinot from Argentina.  Not sure why I thought that though because I believe the climate can get pretty warm in the Mendoza region, which would produce more extracted, concentrated reds.

The flavors show fairly intense black cherry with the faintest hint of stemminess and more cinnamon followed by a slight bitterness in the long, flavorful finish.  There’s a pretty hefty amount of tannin here and the acidity is just right for me.  For five bucks this is a pretty decent Pinot, unless you’re into the more subtle, restrained lighter styles of the grape.  And I suspect it would benefit from a few years in the cellar.  Screwtop too…I like it!  bin5 reviewed the 2009 Chardonnay from this producer here.

un4seen 2009 red

blend of Zinfandel, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Merlot, 13.9% ABV; screw cap
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 3 July

un4seen_2009_redblendThis is one of the new wines I picked up a couple days ago.  I’m not usually into this kind of wine: pretty generic producer, from who-knows-where in CA, probably near or past the end of its life.  However, I was intrigued by the grapes in the blend and it had a nice color through the bottle.  I think it’s quite good for the price.

When first opened, it’s rather tart and restrained, mostly showing some Zinfandel flavors, and a raisiny finish.  After 40 to 70 minutes in a decanter, it fills out to be a nicely complex wine, with jammy flavors of darker red raspberry, red plum, cherry, redder blackberry / boysenberry, with a slight amount of raisin now far in the background.  “Jammy” describes the flavor of the fruit; the wine is not heavy and only gently full-bodied.  The ripe fruit is balanced by lip-smacking ripe acid.  If there’s any oak, it’s in a supporting role.  The flavors are more jumbled together than elegantly blended, but they’re all tasty, and, hey, it’s $4.

The next day, the single-glass screw cap bottle I saved, with very little air inside, was a little more forward and textured, but otherwise much the same.  For anyone interested, the producer site is here.

2012 Rocca Ventosa Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy $4.99

Silverdale, WA     13% alc.    (Purchased on 7/3/14)

IMG_1617From Cantina Tollo; For years these wines confused me.  It’s not from Montepulciano, a town in Tuscany that I visited once that makes wines from mainly Sangiovese…it’s a wine made from the Montepulciano grape grown in Abruzzo.  Just slightly hazy medium purple/garnet.  Perfumed nose shows black peppercorn, allspice, rose petals and earth.  In the mouth there’s fairly strong acidity with light tannins and flavors of dried sour cherry, black coffee, mushrooms and more earth.  The finish brings out the tart acidity and more emphasized tannins.  Not particularly extraordinary, but a fine example of Montepulciano and it should match well with tomato based dishes and pizza.

2009 Nugan Estate “Vision” Chardonnay

Riverina, New South Wales, Australia; 13.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 3 July

Nugan_2009_Vision_ChardThis has been around for a while now, but I’m trying it only after receiving a recommendation in the store.  It’s a little on the acid side for my taste, but I agree it’s very good for the money.

I liked it warmed a bit from fridge temperature so the acid was less emphasized.  Then, it shows fairly elegant, engagingly complex flavors of yellow melon, yellow apple, some lemon and green lime, and (as the back label suggests) less ripe yellow peach / nectarine, with supporting oak.  I’d suggest pairing it with white fish.

Nonno Guiseppe 2003 Zinfandel “Neese Vineyards”

Redwood Valley, Mendocino County, CA; 14.8% ABV
$5 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 1 July; only one more bottle there at the time

2003_NG_ZinOn today’s trip to the Berkeley store, I did not see any new wines yet, but I did get a couple that commenters here have liked, including this wine.  It’s been around for a while, but I had ignored it since I thought the 2002 NG Zin was good but not exciting.  This vintage is similar in some ways but more lively.

This wine was pretty tasty right away, perhaps smoothing out some after about 30 minutes in a decanter.  It has flavors of jammy red raspberry with a little black raspberry, and a nice aged complexity of caramel / light earth / dried orange peel.  The ripe fruit is balanced by zesty acid of those fruits and a slight, mildly bitter, herbal finish.  Although it’s still not my favorite Zin, considering other $5 GO Zins of late, it’s pretty good for the price.

As I believe someone else here wrote recently, the available selection today seemed like odds and ends cleaned out from previously hidden corners of warehouses, so maybe inventory levels are indeed getting low enough to accommodate some new wines soon.

Santa Ema 2009 Merlot

DO Peumo, Cachapoal Valley, Chile; 13.5% ABV
$3 for a 375ml bottle at the Berkeley, CA, store on 19 June

SantaEma_2009_MerlotThe nose on this wine showed some green bell pepper, but I didn’t taste it that much.  Instead, it showed nicely complex flavors of blackcurrant, dark plum, dark cherry, and aromatic spice.  My problem with it is that the acid is rather strong, of boysenberry, cranberry, and plum.  It’s ok with food, but I wouldn’t buy it again.

Val Serena non-vintage Toscana rosso

Toscana IGT, Italy; 12.5% ABV
$5 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 13 June.  $7 online.

ValSerena_ToscanaI thought this wine needed about 90 – 120 minutes to air.  Then it showed tangy ripe and tart fruit of cherry and red plum, some earth / wood, in a lighter medium body.  The wine is a pleasant enough quaffer if you want Italian tangy and acid wine.  The stored half bottle (stoppered with very little air) didn’t need air but was otherwise much the same.  So, while it’s not huge, I’ll give it credit for staying power.  It’s acceptable wine, but IMO it should really be $4.  Not too long ago, it might have been $3.