Woodwork 2013 Chardonnay

Central Coast, CA; 13% ABV
wood: French White Oak
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 19 October

woodwork_2013_chardonnayI wanted to try this wine after liking the Woodwork red blend several months ago, which I thought I had reviewed, but I apparently didn’t.  Anyway, I thought that red blend — which could have been called a Meritage by composition, but the producers probably didn’t want to pay to use the trademarked name — was on the lighter side, but nicely complex, and featured quite tasty wood.  IMO, this Chardonnay is better!

The wine shows juicy, ripe, Central Coast fruit of typical Chardonnay yellow apple and lemon, with some green apple, and nice, slightly buttery oak.  I found the fruit, acid, and wood all in nice balance and delicious, going down way too easily.  The body is perhaps a little light, but it’s heavy enough for the low price and wine has a lot of flavor.

The next day, the last glass in the bottle was regrettably not as good, becoming more simple and acid, and the wood becoming less well integrated and more blunt.  However, as it warms from fridge temp and the fruit becomes more prominent, the wine becomes palatable, still pretty tasty, even.  Overall, I think this wine is a very good value, especially if you’ll consume it in one evening.  But even if not, it’s amazingly good on the first day and not bad on the second.

Pelerin 2006 Syrah

Monterrey County, CA; 14.5% ABV
$3 for 375ml at the Richmond, CA, store in early October.  Gone now.

pelerin_2006_syrahI decanted this wine off some sediment for about a half hour of so before I tasted it.  The wine tasted of ripe, dark red cherry and a little dark blueberry, with a slightly blackened character, dry woody oak, and slightly sharp acid on the finish.  As the evening went on, the flavors darkened to emphasize the blueberry, almost blackberry, and the roasted or grilled character, still with the dark red dried cherry as the textured base.  Probably unsurprisingly, none of this half bottle survived to the next day.  If you find some or still have any, drink it up soon.

Forty-Seven Friends 2010 Pinot Noir

Sonoma County, CA; 14.1% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 19 Oct

fortysevenfriends_2010_pinotnoirI had been intrigued by this bottling because the color of the wine through the bottle looked nicely complex, and, hey, some quirky one-off bottling like this could be a sleeper hit.  And, indeed, it is delicious!

The wine needs only a little air in the glass to become very smooth, ripe, rich, and elegant, showing flavors of dark red cherry, strawberry jam with hint of dark red or black raspberry, dried orange, and earthy root beer / cola.  It starts out a little more full than I generally prefer Pinot Noir, but (1) it’s delicious anyway, and (2) it actually becomes less heavy, less dark in flavor, and more liquidy elegant as it airs.  It was so good, we greedily sucked it all down, leaving none for the next day.  While it did not taste at all too old, I expect the day when it does is coming soon, so drink up.

Thomas Halby 2010 Zinfandel

Sonoma County, CA; 13.0% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 12 Oct

thomashalby_2010_zinfandelOn the heels of a couple other good Zinfandels recently, I was hopeful that this would also be good.  However, I found it a rather weak effort.

The wine initially showed only rather tart, light red fruit.  After about 90 minutes, the tightness of the wine relaxed a bit, with the fruit becoming more accessible and less acid, but overall not improving that much.  After over two hours in a decanter or glass, the wine still tasted of fairly light and simple fruit of tangy dark cherry, and some black and red raspberry, a little raisin, and acid that I still found unpleasantly sharp and possessing at moments hints of being too old,

The next day, the saved, single-glass. screw-cap bottle was better — softer and sweeter and more pleasant — but not significantly different.  Try it if you want, but I’d generally recommend against it for this price.

Diablita 2012 Zinfandel “Zin-A”

Sonoma County, CA; 14.7% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 12 Oct.  Gone now.

diablita_2012_zinfandelWe got three cases of this on Monday, and there were only 8 or so bottles of it left on Wednesday morning, so despite the kinda cheesy retro label, I had to try it.  I concur with whoever bought so much.  If you see it, buy it.

While it’s obviously good from first pour, the wine benefits from a couple hours’ air, or more.  The label says the fruit was sourced from Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys, and the wine very much tastes like it.  They are the areas from which I first started drinking Zinfandel, helping to make this what I regard as a real Zin.  The tangy dark red cherry / black raspberry of Dry Creek is more prominent, supported by the darker spiced blackberry of Russian River.  After about 2.5 hours, the two integrate very nicely.  At the end, there was some slightly bitter roughness that made me wonder: would it smooth out the next day or fall apart?

The next day, the wine (stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air) still needed a little air to smooth out wonderfully, with softly textured richness, distinctly better than on the first day.  This is terrific Zin for the price.

Eighth Wonder 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Cape Cauldron, Stellenbosch, South Africa; 14.0% ABV
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store

eighthwonder_2012_cabernetThere was an Eighth Wonder Chardonnay that didn’t sell very well, but this Cabernet looked like it could be pretty good.  It might be, but I can’t tell yet.

On the first night, I felt this wine never really opened up.  While it showed promising flavors of earthy bing cherry, plum / blackberry, typical SA savory flavors (bay leaf, rust / dried orange peel), the fruit never really came forward, and it stayed rather closed and cranberry / plum acid.  It seemed like there was a bit packed in that that was not coming out, so I am hopeful about the saved bottle.

However, the saved, single-glass, screw-cap bottle of this wine, while still tasting like good Cabernet — ripe and tart earthy bing cherry, maybe a little green bell pepper — still did not really open up.  So, while this seems like pretty good Cabernet for the money, I’m guessing it still needs a bit more age for me to really appreciate it.  Folks who like more reserved and tannic wines might like it now.

Castillo del Moro 2015 Airén – Sauvignon Blanc

75% Airén, 25% Sauvignon Blanc; 11.5% ABV
Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 10 Oct

castillodelmoro_2015_airensauvblancAt first, I mentally categorized this as another nondescript Spanish white, but then I noticed it had been selling pretty well, and finally got a bottle.  It is indeed quite tasty for the price.

I had not heard of Airén before, but according to that Wiki page, it represents about 30% of all grapes grown in Spain, but is increasingly being uprooted because it “often produces an acidic and characterless wine.”  However, when I first tasted it, I exclaimed, “That’s delicious!”.  It tasted juicy and crisp, green- and white-fruited, and nicely structured (minerally). With some air, the wine showed a little more softness of fruit, with flavors of lighter yellow and green fruit of grape, apple / melon, Asian pear, balancing bitterness of yellow / green grape skin, and lighter minerality.  While not as amazing as it seemed at first pour, it is pretty tasty for the price.

The next day, the rest of the wine in the bottle was softer, less minerally, and more fruity, but still quite tasty and pleasant.  While not an outstanding wine, it’s pretty good for the price.  (A little survived to the third day, and was still quite enjoyable.)

Windstorm 2015 Zinfandel

California; 14.7% ABV (IIRC)
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on about 5 October.  Gone now.

windstorm_2015_zinfandelThis wine as a bit funky (sweet rubber?) for a while after being decanted, but started settling down after about an hour or so.  Wine tastes nicely of dark cherry, black raspberry / blackberry, some allspice / maybe black pepper or licorice, and black earth, but has sweet, syrupy oak that is a little too strong for my taste.  This is likely just my apparent aversion to American Oak.  The fruit is ripe but has nicely balancing acid and finish of mild and smooth tannin.  The last bit of wine in my glass, nearly 4 hours after opening, was very smooth and elegantly complex.  Even if it’s not the style I personally favor, I have to admit this is excellent Zin for the price.  Seedboy earlier posted the link to this review of this wine, and his reaction to this wine is here.

The saved, single-glass, screw-cap bottle is also very good, tasting of rich and syrupy blackberry / mulberry / maybe blueberry / boysenberry / dark red raspberry, coffee, vanilla / American Oak.  Again, despite this not being “my style,” I give it a big Thumbs Up.

Update same day: Oakland store still has this wine.

Colavita 2013 Verdicchio

Verdicchio di Matelica DOC, Marche, Italy; 12.5% ABV
imported by Terlato Wines International
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 3 Oct

colavita_2013_verdicchioI had been curious about this since it showed up, but it was only after Seedboy wrote that he really liked the Colavita Pinot Grigio that I thought I should try the Verdicchio.  That Wiki entry made it sound like a pretty uninteresting grape, but this wine is decently good for the price.

The wine has some yellow apple / maybe pear, but is mostly citrus juicy with yellow grapefruit and lemon, perhaps a touch of green lime, that is ripe and crisp with a bitter tang of citrus pith.  I’m not wowed, but it is interesting and good wine for the price.

The next day, the wine’s rough edges have smoothed over, but it’s still pleasantly tasty and minerally, with a little orange flavor I didn’t notice on the first day.  Quite good.

Leone 2009 Nebbiolo

Columbia Valley, WA; 13.5%
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store on 29 Sept

leone_2009_nebbioloI’ve now consumed two bottles of this wine, and although I liked them both, they were a little different.

I thought the first bottle was considerably like a good CA Pinot Noir.  Although it lacked the strawberry / raspberry aspect of Pinot, it didn’t need much air to show a lot of the same darker red cherry, orange, and probably a little more of the usual earthy / woody aspect.  It went quite well with salmon. A day or two later, the saved, single-glass, screw-cap, bottle still needed a bit of air to come around, but was then much the same.  I quite liked it.

My second bottle was distinctly not Pinot Noir, showing darker tangy cherry, tending more toward plum, more cherry pit bitterness, and less orange.  Overall, I preferred the first bottle, especially since the saved screwcap bottle of this was rather dull and boring.

Did anyone out there try this?  What’d you think?