Les Chaberts 2012 rosé

50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% Cinsault; 13.5% ABV; screw cap
Appellation Ventoux Contrôlée, France
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 20 March

LesChaberts_2012_roseI got this because I thought the recent white and red Les Chaberts wines had been good and decent, respectively.  I was a little worried at how red its color was, that it might be more forwardly fruity than I like.  However, when I opened it, the opposite was true.  It seemed to have hardly any flavor at all.  I screwed the cap back on, put it back in the fridge, and tasted it again a few hours later.  The result was the same.

I tasted this again this evening, a couple days later.  While an edge of strawberry fruit was more forward, it still struck me that there was not much to this wine.  I suppose it’s Drinkable, but I would guess there are better options for rosés.

The Tractor Guy 2010 Pinot Noir

Sonoma Coast, CA; 14% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 27 March

TractorGuy_2010_PinotNoir_SonomaCoastThe first sip of this wine made it seem like it could be quite good with more air.  As it aired, it continued to ripen and darken until, after about 3:15 of air when it seemed fully open, it more resembled Syrah than it did Pinot Noir.  It showed ripe, fairly heavy, dark purple cherries and plums, roast beef, and black pepper / earth.  I found this quite surprising for a Sonoma Coast Pinot in a cool year.  There was, at times, a significant component of what I have been calling (perhaps inaccurately) “American Oak,” a sort of unpleasant red candy / funky wood.  However, it’s not dominant, especially as the wine aired more.

As often happens, the last few sips of this wine in the glass seemed to expand into something much more expressive.  In this case, more usual Pinot flavors surfaced, substantial and nicely complex, that I didn’t get a chance to really delve into.  In any event, it’s a very interesting Pinot and I’m hoping to get a more complete impression from the saved single-glass bottle of it.

The next day, this saved glass started out tasting much as the original bottle had.  However, this time, it never entered a Syrah-like phase.  Instead, after a couple hours, it came fairly close to being a fairly rich, complex and elegant young Pinot.  Thereafter, it seemed to become rougher and more simple again.  So… I don’t really have a conclusion about this wine.  It seems likely it would reward either 4 hours of air or a number more years of age, but I’m not sure.  Please report the results of any investigations you may conduct.  :)

Vin du Pays reviewed the 2009 bottling of this wine here.

É got 2014 Trebbiano – Chardonnay

Trebbiano 70%, Chardonnay 30%; 11% ABV
Rubicone IGT, Emilia-Romagna, Italy; Imported by 8 Vini, Hayward, CA
$4 at the Oakland, Ca, store on 25 March

Egot_2014_TrebChardInitial nose is of nice Chardonnay yellow apple; initial palate is a bit disjointed and mostly of green lime juice, something I don’t really associate with either Chardonnay or Trebbiano, at least not if they’re ripe.  However, a little while after opening, these flavors, with some melon (green / white / yellow), meld into a nicely delineated taste, with a delicate, medium body.  I’d say this wine is a pleasantly tasty and gently crisp summer quaffer.

I was going to go with a “high Drinkable,” but it was so lovely and yummy the next day, I’ll go with a “low Thumbs Up.”

Lion’s Lair Swartland Shiraz 2012 $3.99

Produced by Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards
ABV 13.5%
Purchased 5-27-2015 Albany, OR

FullSizeRender 3I was happy to see another South African offering at GO. Sadly this one was a disappointment.

Color: bricked red
Fragrance: a bit of aspirin and rhubarb
Taste: sour, definitely tart cherry/rhubarb kool-aid (either due to age or mishandling at some point…just tastes like sour wine).
Body: on the lighter side, especially compared to the Washington Hills Syrah (an older GO buy that we liked okay) that we decided to have in its place.

Zynergy 2013 Zinfandel

Lodi, CA; 13.9% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, on 27 March

Zynergy_2013_Zin_LodiLim13, you’ve complained that there’s nothing new and interesting at the GOs near you.  I don’t blame you for being concerned that the blog will have to do without your occasional habit of buying Zinfandels with silly names that turn out to be about as good as you’d expect.  But don’t you worry, mate.  I’ve got you covered here.

I have tended to avoid all wines from Lodi except Petite Sirahs.  But when I saw this Zinfandel, with its catchy logo and back label going on about its carefully selected lots of grapes, right across the aisle from the Victor Zin, a Lodi Zin I really liked, I knew I had to have it.  Of course, you know where this story is going.  Once I got it home and opened it, I realized I could have chosen more wisely.

The wine poured a translucent red that is pretty light for a Zinfandel.  The fruit was red cherry and some black raspberry that, for having a rather jammy texture, was not very intense or complex.  And it had a vegetal woody component with aspects similar to the “American Oak” (whether or not it actually is) that I often complain about.  However, in this wine, that latter component is not too strong, and instead adds a relatively interesting complexity.  I didn’t like this wine very much, but since I can still say I didn’t totally hate it, I guess I have to go with Drinkable.

The next day, I liked the second half (stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air) slightly better.  The fruit had darkened some, additionally showing some black cherry and maybe some red plum.  Still, while I wouldn’t recommend it, I can’t quite give it a Thumbs Down.  So, Drinkable.

Gancia Prosecco NV $6.99

Produced & bottled by: F.LLI Gancia & C.S.P.A. Canelli, Italy
ABV 11.5%
Purchased 3-27-105 Albany OR GO

FullSizeRender 3The back of the label says: “Heralding from cellars known as the ‘Underground Cathedrals’ in Canelli, Gancia, the first Italian sparkling wine has been prized by Kings of Italy since 1850. Crafted with carefully gathered Glera grapes….” (etc etc etc).

The above is what caused me to make the purchase. Glera grapes used to be universally referred to as Prosecco but in 2009, Prosecco became the wine designation and the grape went by its varietal name, except in the Veneto Prosecco DOC or DOCG areas. Also, as a side note, Prosecco is primarily made from the Glera grape but can contain wine from other grapes, such as the Bianchetta, or in the case of Rose Prosecco, Rabosa.

Mostly my purchases have come from the Veneto DOC and DOCG designations, so I haven’t seen one with the Glera (instead of Prosecco) grape designation yet. The Veneto (traditional) area is near the top/right side of Italy where the Canelli, Gancia region is nearer to Monaco/France/Switzerland side. Anyway, that’s what piqued my interest in this wine.

Color: pale straw
Taste: Green, crisp apples (lots of apples), mildly sweet
Body: normal for Prosecco. Light bubbles.

Overall, this was the sweetest of the three Prosecco wines we’ve had this week and my husband’s favorite. It isn’t sickly sweet, just the sweetest of the three. It also was the least layered in taste. Neither of us tasted anything more than just ripened apples. No pears or other citrus, no minerality to speak of, but it would be very nice with waffles or fruit etc…a breakfast style brunch. We had it with Cobb salad. It was nice but not a great pairing. Although frankly, I haven’t found anything that pairs well with Cobb salad yet.

Not very complex, but a decent buy for $6.99 (Prosecco is so versatile, there’s always the mimosa option if it’s bad) and a better buy during the sale.

Cloud Cap 2011 Malbec

Columbia Valley, WA; 12.3% ABV
$6 at the Oakland, CA, store on 25 March

CloudCap_2011_MalbecAlthough the back label reads “vinted and bottled by Cloud Cap Winery,” I could not find anything about it online except for a few menus serving this wine.

Upon opening, the wine shows somewhat lean, lighter red fruit that doesn’t seem very promising.  However, after about 75 minutes in a decanter, it filled out nicely, showing textured fruit of darker boysenberry, blueberry, and mulberry, with a little lighter violets / roses, and a nice fruit / acid balance.  It’s slightly funky in the finish, but not in a bad way.  Quite pleasant to drink, but don’t try to age it, as it doesn’t have the structure to last.  (It just occurs to me, it could have been good blended with a little Petite Sirah.  Is there PS in the Pacific Northwest?)

The next day, the second half (kept stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air) was redder, more acid and simple.  It was still decent to drink, certainly better than the other GO wine I opened, but I definitely preferred it on the first night.

Primarius 2011 Pinot Noir

Oregon; 12% ABV
$8 at the Oakland, CA, store on 25 March

Primarius_2011_PinotNoirThis light-bodied Pinot Noir seemed okay at first pour, but a bit closed.  I thought it needed about 1:40 of air in a decanter to show medium dark red cherry, root beer, orange and an unpleasantly bitter, vegetal component that could be called “raspberry leaf.”  While it was acceptably complex and had a nice fruit / acid balance, the fruit seemed to lack sweet ripeness and its components struck me as rather disjointed.  Overall, an okay wine, and good with food, but lacking the charm I hope for from a Pinot Noir.

The next day, I liked the saved single-glass screw-cap bottle better.  The fruit showed plenty of sweet ripeness, and all the flavors were nicely integrated, with the bitter vegetal aspect becoming more of a tasty balancing flavor in the background.  For me, there was still never a “Wow, this is good!” moment, but I do think it’s pretty good Pinot for the money, especially with 20% off during the upcoming sale.  It may well improve with a year or two in cool storage.

Kaikoura Estates 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough, New Zealand; 13% ABV; screw cap
$3 at the Oakland, CA, store on 16 March.

KaikouraEstates_2012_SauvBlancThis wine has a lovely nose of white flowers, yellow grapefruit, gooseberry, and grass / raw asparagus.  On the palate, there was plenty more of the same plus juice and pith of moderately ripe yellow grapefruit, lemon, and green lime, a little chalky minerality, and crisp acid.  While not the most amazing wine, if you like this style, it is outstanding for the price.

The next day, the rest of the wine is more juicy, less structured and complex, but still pretty good.

Mersá 2002 Old Growth Red

76% Carignane, 24% Zinfandel; 15.5% ABV
Alexander Valley, CA, $6 at the Oakland, CA, store on 16 March.  I believe I was told this was only at the Oakland store.  Unfortunately, likely gone by now.

Mersa_2002_CarZinI read about this wine in comments here long before I saw it at the Oakland store.  Seedboy commented, “The label says it is unfined and unfiltered, and the bottle does have something of a robe to show for it. Real cork whose very end is very dark but the rest is pristine. When I first tasted this I was overwhelmed with wood. It eventually rounds into a very thick red wine that shows its 15.5% alcohol. Might be a good summer barbeque wine.”  I pretty much agree with this, although I think I liked it better than he did.

At first, I found this wine overly simple cherry / raspberry with a bitter, woody finish.  I thought it needed about 2.5 – 3 hours in a decanter to show more depth.  Then, it presented slightly rough darker blackberry, raisin, black and red cherries and raspberries, licorice, and earthy aged complexity, still with that same bitter tarry / woody component, especially on the drying, tannic finish.  The texture is rich and full-bodied.

The next day, the saved half bottle (stoppered at first opening in a 375ml bottle with very little air) was smoother and better integrated, but otherwise much the same.  While I agree this robust California wine would go well with BBQ, I think it’s more than just a BBQ wine.