Vina Arnaiz 2009 Crianza

Ribera del Duero DO, Spain; 100% Tempranillo; 14% ABV
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store on 2 Nov. Probably still there.

VinaArnaiz_2009_CrianzaHi all.  I apologize because I thought I had published this a while ago, but I just noticed it in the “Drafts” section.  My recollections are that I liked this wine a lot.  I thought it needed a couple hours in a decanter to show soft, ripe red cherry fruit with nice earthy, woody, aged complexity.  The red cherry gained a tangy, slightly purple, liqueur-like character after a little more air.  It was very similar to a nice Rioja Crianza, but was softer, riper, and less acid than the Riojas I’ve tasted.

The saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was also good, but not as yummy as it was the first night.  IMO, this would be a good red to go with turkey dark meat for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Vini 2013 Rosé of Pinot Noir and Syrah

60% Pinot Noir, 40% Syrah; 13% ABV
Thracian Valley, Bulgaria
imported by Bulgarian Master Vintners, LLC, of Sonoma, CA
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 6 Nov

Vini_2013_RoseAs the third of the three Bulgarian wines we received in a shipment, I wanted to try this one, too.  (Previously reviewed: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.)  While I still prefer the more minerally southern French rosés (at a very similar latitude), this is pretty good.

The wine is a pretty elegant meld of light raspberry / quince jelly, orange / tangerine, white flowers, and light vanilla.  I slightly miss the structure and  delicateness of the Southern French rosés, but this is pretty good.

Forefront 2012 Zinfandel by Pine Ridge

Sonoma County, CA; 14.8% ABV
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store on 4 Nov

Forefront_2012_ZinOn the first night, I thought this wine needed 1:15 – 1:45 to air, but then showed tasty fruit of dark blackberry / boysenberry, tar, earthy orange / orange peel.  I thought, “Well, the flavors are pretty tasty, but the body’s kind of light and there’s not all that much depth to it.”  So, I thought, for the price, this is definitely Drinkable, and maybe should be Thumbs Up, but I’m not sure I can go there…

However, the saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was delicious.  The flavors were quite similar, but with a thicker texture, the fruit a little redder and a lot more integrated and aromatic.  The “orange” broadened to include some nutmeg, and was overall quite lovely.  So… while I still think this wine probably shouldn’t be held for more than a year or maybe two, I’ll go with Thumbs Up!

Turn Key 2012 Chardonnay

Santa Maria Valley, CA; 13.6% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store a few weeks ago

TurnKey_2012_ChardonnayThis wine shows medium-intensity fruit of yellow apple, some tropical yellow fruit (golden kiwi, less ripe pineapple), lightly lemony acid, a little creamy vanilla, with a slight funkiness around the supporting oak.  Pretty good Chardonnay for the price.  Pleasantly Drinkable.

The next day, the fruit and the oak are both more forward and integrated, although the overall character is still a little on the more delicate side.  I liked it a little better the second day, but I could see how some might think the oak gets too strong, especially as it warms to room temperature.

As a side note, I also got the Turn Key Pinot Noir on the same day, but I didn’t like it that much.  On opening, it seemed like it would be lighter but very good.  However, after a bit of air, I thought the fruit got a sort of candy-like pomegranate component I disliked.  Also, Drinkable, but less so.

(The label is white and looks yellowish tan only because of the poor light under which I took the photo.)

Nugan Estate 2007 Shiraz “McLaren Parish Vineyard”

McLaren Vale, South Australia, 14.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 9 Nov

NuganEstate_2007_ParishVnydShirazThis older Shiraz, from a good area, looked quite promising.  It took me a week to get to it, but it is indeed very good.

It was pretty tasty right away, but for me, it definitely rewarded giving it about 90 minutes of air in a decanter, when some roughness smoothed out and more complexity emerged.  Then, it showed richer, dark fruit of purple plum and black raspberry, with black pepper and slightly pruney aged complexity.  The ripeness is well balanced with acid of these fruits.

The saved single-glass, screwcap bottle shows more tasty earthy and tarry / herbal complexity, but is also is a little less smooth and rich.  I think I preferred it the first night, but both are good, and overall definitely Thumbs Up!

(The label is white and looks yellowish tan only because of the poor light under which I took the photo.)

Antaño 2008 Graciano

Rioja, Spain; 14% ABV
$7 (I think) at the Richmond, CA, store on 4 Nov.  Long gone from there.

Antano_2008_GracianoI had seen the Graciano grape listed as a component of a number of Crianzas, but I had never seen it bottled on its own.  So when I saw this bottling, especially with the “90+ Wine Advocate” addition to its label, I eagerly got a bottle.  It was a very interesting experience, but I think I can see why it’s usually blended.

The wine was pretty tasty at first pour, with an aromatic nose, and showing fairly acid fruit of purple plum / cherry and black raspberry.  It slowly improved as it aired over a few hours, to include nice complexities of violets / dark roses, black olives, and a little rosemary.  However, even after it seemed to fully air after about three hours, the wine never integrated completely and the finish was still a bit rough and tannic.  I can see how Graciano would firm up and add complexity to a wine, but this one, at least, was not really complete on its own.  Still, it was pretty good for the price and an interesting experience, so I’ll go with Thumbs Up.

Torre de Lancia 2012 “Rosso Fuoco” Negroamaro – Primitivo

60% Negroamaro, 40% Primitivo (Zinfandel); 13.5% ABV
Salento IGT, southern Italy (“heel of the boot”)
imported by Epic wines, Capitola, CA
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 13 Nov

RossoFuoco_NegroAmaroPrimitivoThis wine looked quite promising, with an interesting blend from the right part of Italy for these grapes, and having a nice dark color through the bottle.  It’s quite soft and fruity, especially for an Italian wine, but it’s really delicious.

This wine really doesn’t need any air, but might be a little softer and richer after about an hour.  It has ripe flavors of dark blackberry / loganberry, maybe a little blueberry, dark red cherry / plum, and some of the earthy raisin / prune that many southern Italian wines seem to have.  It was so good that we easily sucked down the whole bottle on a Friday night.

Castillo del Tornos 2005 Gran Reserva

from Bodegas Ignacio Marin, Cariñena, Spain
60% Tempranillo, 40% Garnacha; 12.5% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 9 Nov

CastillaDelTornos_2005_GranReservaThis wine certainly looked impressive, and 2005 was a good year in Europe, but while there was nothing wrong with this wine, I was a little underwhelmed.

I thought it needed 1.5 – 2 hours of air in a decanter to show softer, ripe, darker red, cherry fruit of Grenache and some medium red cherry fruit of Tempranillo, with a slightly herbaceous character.  Although it was pleasant enough, I thought the wine could have used a little more acid and complexity.

The saved single-glass, screw cap bottle was certainly more acid, bordering on too much so, and showed more of the herbaceous character as stemmy or even a little green bell pepper (although I liked it).  Overall, I thought this wine was okay to good, but not very exciting.

Woodbridge 2001 Portacinco

Lodi, CA; 19% ABV
62% Touriga Nacional, 13% Bastardo (also known as Trousseau), 12% Alvaralhao, 10% Souzao, and 3% Tinta Cao (not sure if this is really right, but it does use traditional Portuguese varietals)
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store on 4 Nov

Woodbridge_2001_PortacincoI don’t think I’ve ever tried one of the Woodbridge Portacincos that regularly show up, and thought I’d take advantage of the sale to do so.  I’m not totally sure what to make of this, but it seems a reasonable port-style wine for the price.  Also you should keep in mind that I’m not very familiar with Port wines.

On the first couple days I had this open, I thought the fruit was pretty nice — dark red cherry and rich, red plum — with some nice wood and spice.  But I thought the fruit was somewhat overwhelmed by the brandy added for fortification.  However, after it had been open a few days, these two components integrated better to meld the dark purple to medium red fruit with the more sherry-like / citrus-y elements of the fortifying spirits.  So, while I didn’t find it as satisfying as other Port-style wines I’ve had, I have to admit it’s pretty tasty for the price point, especially at the sale price.

Lim13 reviewed the 1997 vintage of this wine here, and his review contains a link to a reader review of the 1999 vintage.

Domaine Boyar 2011 Merlot Reserve

Thracian Valley Region, Bulgaria; 13% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 8 Nov

DomaineBoyar_2011_MerlotResSo… I’ve been thinking that, in order to reconcile my work at the Richmond GO with my hobby of blogging here, that I have to provide less perfect reviews (a subjective judgement, to be sure) and get more out regardless.  So, in that vein, here goes.

After the Villa Yambol 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (also from Bulgaria) was so tasty, I really wanted to try this, too.  (There was also a Bulgarian rosé “Vini” that arrived in the same shipment.  Haven’t tried it yet.)  This Merlot followed a similar pattern, of being pretty tasty right away, but really showing its best after about an hour in a decanter.  Then, it gave full flavors of dark, very ripe, blue / black fruit, but still with a delicate character showcasing the lower-tannin Merlot grape.  I thought this was quite good, and none of it survived to the next day.  Today, I got another bottle of this and of the Yambol Cab, and I intend to blend them.  I’ll update here after I try this experiment.  :)