Amy 2015 Sauvignon Blanc

Wine of Origin Western Cape, South Africa; 13% ABV
$5 or $6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 1 April

Amy_2015_SauvBlancI got this after liking the Amy 2014 Merlot, and thinking that the description on the back of that bottle was pretty accurate.  The back-label description on this bottle sounded good, too, so I got one.  This wine is indeed pretty good, and its back-label description is also mostly accurate.

This wine tasted of tropical yellow fruit, yellow and white melon, and gooseberry, balanced by minerality, acid that is slightly lemony, and a little grapeskin bitterness.  Especially a little warmed from fridge temperature, this wine was very tasty and easy to drink.

The next day, the rest left in the bottle was more forward and integrated, but otherwise much the same.

Nexus 2007 Crianza

Ribera del Duero DO, Spain;14% ABV
the 2009 was 100% Tempranillo
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 1 April

Nexus_2007_CrianzaThis wine came in beautiful packaging, and I had very much enjoyed the Viña Arnaiz 2009 Crianza from Ribera del Duero, so this was an immediate buy.  I think it’s very good.

I preferred it after 2.5 – 3 hours in a decanter.  The soft and ripe fruit tastes of dark red / purple cherry, slightly funky, leathery / earthy wood, with complexities of licorice, purple grape, boysenberry, and nutmeg / cinnamon, and acid of black and red raspberry, finishing with felt-like tannins,  It shared the soft red / purple fruit and woody complexity with the Vina Arñaiz, but was more rich and complex.

The next day, the saved single-glass, screwcap bottle was still richly fruity and woody / earthy, more integrated and less overtly complex.  Still delicious.

Amy 2014 Merlot

Stellenbosch, South Africa; 13.5% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 March

Amy_2014_MerlotAlthough I’m not much of a Merlot drinker, the description on the back label sounded pretty good, so I got a bottle during the sale.

I felt this wine needed 1.5 – 2 hours’ air to show dark red cherry, blackberry, red / purple plum, rusty earth, green bell pepper, and black pepper, with a drying, tannic finish.  The fruit has some soft ripeness to it, but there is also plenty of tangy acid.  The wine seems a little young, but is otherwise nicely elegant and well-made.  Fans of the savory style of South African wines should find a lot to like here, especially if you are more of a Merlot drinker.

The saved single-glass, screwcap bottle of this wine was really good.  The flavors overall are much the same, but more forward and better integrated, and the savory, rusty earth quality had a smokiness that’s delicious.  The finish is still a bit tannic.  In light of this second-day performance, you don’t even need to be much of a Merlot drinker to like this wine.

Chateau Haut Jongay 2012 Côtes de Bourg

Appellation Côtes de Bourg Contrôlée, close to Bordeaux, France
85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec; 13% ABV
Imported by Bercut – Vandervoort & Co, San Mateo, CA
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 March

ChHautJongay_2012_CotesDeBourgWhen this showed up, I was very intrigued by the blend, especially the 5% Malbec.  It’s a little on the pricey side for the GO, so I waited for the sale to get one, and finally opened it tonight.  I really like it!

To my taste, this wine took 3:15 – 3:45 of air to open up, and it kept improving from there.  I tasted black-earthy, blackberry / plum, thick tannins, hints of boysenberry, violets, and caramel / prune, and acid of light red cherry / cranberry.  For those who enjoy young wines, this is good now, but IMO this has plenty of promise for the years ahead.

Indeed, while the saved single-glass, screwcap bottle was still good, I didn’t really know what to make of it.  It had a lot of the same flavors as the first day’s portion, but my best guess is that the wine seemed a little shut down, never showing the exuberant fruit it had the first night.  It might be better to just leave any leftover wine in the original bottle with the cork in it, or to just cover the decanter.

A pleasant surprise from the current buyers has been the good Bordeaux and Bordeaux-area wines, the latter of which this wine and the Bel-Air 2013 Bergerac are excellent examples.  Now… how about Burgundy, Rhone, and Loire wines? :)

Castello del Poggio non-vintage Riesling

Provincia del Pavia IGT, Lombardy close to Piedmont, Italy; 10.5% ABV
imported by Zonin USA
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 March

CastelloDelPoggio_NV_RieslingI recalled previously liking another white from Provincia de Pavia, northern Italy, so I was quite interested in this wine, since I think of Riesling generally doing better at more northern climes.  This wine has some of the delicate yellow fruit I associate with Piemontese whites, and while not quite what I was expecting, on the second day I thought it was really very good.

In the first couple pours, I thought this wine showed similar, slightly floral delicateness in the fruit as the previous Piemontese whites I’ve tasted, but without enough acid to balance the wine’s sweetness.  After a bit of air, the wine shows rich yellow apple with maybe some ripe pineapple, with slight acid of green apple and pineapple, and perhaps a slight oxidized character.  Although I thought the Waugh Riesling had good fruit / acid balance, a couple regualars thought there wasn’t enough acid.  In this wine, I thought there wasn’t enough acid to balance the fruit and sweetness.  However…  Seedboy, who usually loves tart wine, wrote, “The Castello del Poggio Riesling, Provincia di Pavia, Piemonte, is delicious. Dry, minerally, balanced, no petrol. I am buying some more.”  When I queried him, he replied, “I don’t even think it is sweet. It is fruity.”  That was not my perception at all, but maybe, in a possible Grocery Outlet situation, multiple incarnations of this non-vintage wine are being sold at once?

Trying it again the next day, I still think the wine is a little sweet, but the fruit / acid balance seems better and, wow, is it delicious.  The flavors have integrated into a very elegant wine.  This wine, although with a more aged character, is really lovely.

Gustave Lorentz 2014 “Le Rosé” (of Pinot Noir)

Alsace AOC, France; 12% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 March.  Another customer came to the same conclusion I did and cleaned out the remaining 30 bottles on 25 March.

Lorentz_2014_RoseOfPinotNoirDespite being put off by the recent Pinot Noir from Alsace, this wine looked quite intriguing to me, so I bought one when the sale started.  It’s certainly not like my favorite southern French rosés, but it is quite good for the price.

Seedboy wrote that this wine is “nice and crisp and minerally with just enough fruit.”  When I opened it, I found it a little fuzzy and funky, but after being open a bit, it “clarified” and became very clear-tasting and elegantly structured.  I tasted quince jelly, yellow apple, rose hip, orange roses, with crystalline minerality.  Really beautiful and delicious.

The next day, the second half in the fridge was more fruity but less structured, still tasty but falling a little flat.  Overall, still Thumbs Up.

Seghesio 2009 “Quindici” Toscana IGT

Toscana Indicazione Geografica Tipica, Italy
80% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, 10% Alicante Bouschet; 13.5% ABV
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 March

Seghesio_2009_QuindiciThis wine was made in cooperation between Seghesio, a Sonoma county winery, and Italian winemakers, produced near Montalcino, Tuscany.  The blend certainly sounded interesting to me; I surmised the medium structure of Sangiovese would be made a little more accessible by Merlot, and a little more supported by the tannin of Alicante Bouschet.  I did not find the wine to be that easily dissected, but it is pretty good.

I thought it needed 2.5 – 3 hours in a decanter to air, then showing earthy flavors of dark red cherry, cherry pit, tarry dark plum, black raspberry, wood, and some lighter red cherry and a rather tannic finish.  (It’s possible that, given some time to settle, the wine could have been decanted off some tannic sediment.  I didn’t want to wait.:) )  I think it’s a nicely complex and interesting wine.  In overall character, and as a slightly nontraditional Sangiovese-based wine, if not in the flavors exactly, this reminded me of the Arceno 2005 Chianti Classico RiservaDavidLikesWine wrote, “Definitely more old world cedar-y notes along with something I’d call leather and some mineral-y acidity. I get the cherry and violets from the Sangiovese, but definitely more restrained in fruit than even some of the chianti’s I’ve had.”  Expat seemed to like it, too.  After three hours of air, the fruit became soft and gently textured, making me think this is perfectly mature now.

The next day, I thought the saved single-glass, screwcap bottle still needed about an hour to air.  The flavors were similar to the first day’s, but were a little redder and perhaps more acid.  Although it’s probably better on the first day, it’s still very tasty.  I would say it’s not one of GO’s best bargains at $10 (although still not bad), but it’s definitely worth the sale price of $8.

Barão de Figueira 2014 white

DOC Beira Interior, Portugal; 100% SÍria; 13% ABV
bottled by Companhia das Quintas
imported by Flavor Seekers, San Diego, CA
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 21 March

Figueira_2014_SiriaAfter I liked the Figueira red and Bill recommended trying the white, I picked up a bottle of it as another waiting-for-the-sale wine.

I found this a pleasant white, with flavors of yellow and white melon / pear, with a little green melon and minerality on the finish.  The fruit is soft and slightly creamy, with a nice fruit / acid balance.  Similar to the red, I’m not totally wowed by it, but it is quite pleasant and tasty wine for the price, and an interesting new varietal to me.  If I had tasted this blind, my best guess would have been that it’s a Grenache Blanc.

The next day, the fruit is more forward and integrated, becoming nicely textured, but still with nicely minerally structure.  It was pretty good the first day, but its second-day performance pushes this into Thumbs Up.

Morandé 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva

Maipo Valley, Chile; 14% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 20 March

Morande_2009_CabSauvThis has been at the Richmond store for a while, and had always looked interesting, so I thought I’d try one while waiting for the sale to start.  It’s not my favorite, but it’s pretty good wine for the money.

Maybe take this with a grain of salt since I’m “the air guy,” but this wine really needs some air, so I’d recommend decanting it for about an hour and a half.  I thought it continued to improve, becoming darker and riper, during the time we drank the first 3/4 bottle, up to 3 hours after opening.  The wine showed typical Cabernet flavors of ripe red / purple cherry, blackcurrant, and (with more air) blackberry, with a definite note of green bell pepper that became more submerged as the wine opened.  The finish was slightly rough to my taste, suggesting to me that this wine is near the end of its life, but this was not too bad on its own and was easily smoothed over with food.

The saved single-glass, screwcap bottle confirms my impression that the wine is a little past its prime.  The flavors are much the same, but the green bell pepper has gotten stronger and the finish more abrasive.  It’s still tasty enough with food, but it’s probably better consumed in one evening, and soon.

Two Current Pinots Noirs

I opened these both tonight with pan-fried salmon, saving a half bottle of each (stoppered in 375ml bottles with very little air) for later.  I’ll update this post if the second halves change my opinions much, but I doubt that will happen as they both seemed quite stable.  (See update below.)

Weibel Family 2012 Pinot Noir
Potter Valley, Mendocino County, CA; 13.5% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 16 March

Weibel_2012_PinotNoirOf the two, I thought the color through the bottle looked more promising in this wine: more delicate and nuanced in the way I prefer.  It’s indeed pretty good Pinot for the money.

I thought both of these wines benefited from a couple hours of air in the bottle.  (That’s after I poured out the first halves.  I suspect this method results in longer airing times than my usual decanting, not that it matters that much for these wines.)  The Weibel showed lighter red cherry with a little strawberry, gentle sappy / earthy Pinot funk, with a lively, airy juiciness.  I would have thought this was pretty good CA Pinot for the money if I hadn’t opened it with…

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Pinnacalitos de Chalone 2009 Pinot Noir “La Belle Vue”
Chalone Appellation, Monterey County, CA; 14.8% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 16 March

Pinnacalitos_2009_LaBelleVuePNThis was pretty engaging from the first sip, but, again, I thought it was better after a couple hours of air.  Then, it showed earthy, almost rocky, very dark red cherry fruit, with smoky complexities (bacon? leather?), intense but with nice delineation.  Sorry I had so much fun drinking it I didn’t stop to take notes.  My impression is that while it’s great to drink now, it’s not heading over the hill immediately, and could keep well in good storage for a couple more years.  I think this is an outstanding value in CA Pinot Noir.

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Update next day: The second half of the Weibel Family Pinot Noir surprised me by airing to become dominated by flavors of red / purple table grape and a little raisin.  It’s still pleasant enough wine, just not what I expect from Pinot Noir.