ottoVini 2013 Rosso

Piemonte, Italy; 13.5% ABV
68% Dolcetto, 8% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon,  6% Barbera, 4% Freisa, 4% Bonarda, 1% Albarossa, 1% Syrah
From Dezzani and imported by 8Vini
$7 at the Point Loma (San Diego) store on 10/1/15

ottoVini_Rosso_PiemonteDOCPopped and poured through a Vinturi and tasted right after being poured into a decanter, this wine opens on the tight side but with some nice, smooth ripe fruit (definitely the Dolcetto) and acid coming through. It was very closed on opening and certainly needed some time for its flavors to emerge.

Returning to it 30 minutes in, the wine began to open up pretty nicely revealing a pleasant underlying, if soft, tone of the Dolcetto with a touch of that ripeness I associate with Rossos, which I don’t tend to hold in that high of regard having just finished a two week trip in Italy. I find them on the simpler end of the spectrum but it seems that they are certainly created (and priced) for every day drinking. To that end, I would say this is a pretty successful little bottle. The wine really showed best about 2 hours in when some of the alcohol blew off. I’m very sensitive to heat and it really came together well for me then.

What complexity the wine lacks is made up for by a pretty nice overall balance of sweet (but not saccharin) fruit, the smooth mouthfeel that I associate with Rossos, soft tannins and a touch of acidity to bring things all together. I found this best on day one since the only other day I opened it (to finish) was on Day 3 (after being stoppered in the original bottle). Tasting it now, it has come apart mostly and could potentially be mistaken for any California designated (likely Central Valley) red wine, so don’t wait as long as I did. Even now, however, there is something very much Italian about it. I think it is in the finish with the tannins holding on as the wine fades even as it has sat untouched for 2 days.

If you’re unfamiliar with Italian reds or have someone to enjoy the wine with who might, say, normally find themselves attracted to middle of the road softer, sweeter Merlots, I would recommend this bottle. It sits well with me for what it is, a relatively simple, transparent wine that is enjoyable without any major flaws. Drinkable.

After some sleuthing, I found a fact sheet here for what is essentially the same wine:


Lo Nuevo “L’Opaco” 2012 Garnacha Tintorera – Monastrell

95% Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet), 5% Monastrell (Mourvèdre); 14.5% ABV
Old Vines and Estate Grown in Almansa DO, Spain
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 30 Sept

LoNuevo_2012_GarnachaTintoreraMonastrellTwo or three months ago, a MonastrellGarnacha from Lo Nuevo showed up at the Richmond store.  I was pretty eager to try it until a customer said it reminded him of a late harvest Zinfandel, which I thought was not at all what a Spanish dry red should taste like.  Today, we got a couple more Lo Nuevo wines: a Merlot and this wine.  Of course, I’m a sucker for an unknown varietal, so I bought one.  It turns out that Garnacha Tintorera is another name for Alicante Bouschet, which the wiki page says is one of the few red-fleshed grapes in the Vitis vinifera species.  I have thought of Alicante as a grape making uninterestingly coarse wines, but while this wine is certainly not going to win any prizes for elegance, I liked it quite a lot.

On opening, the wine was rather rough and acid.  However, in the glass, it smooths out pretty quickly to show smooth, darker red cherry and raspberry fruit, still with plenty of tasty, ripe acid.  After about 70 minutes in a decanter, the “grip” of the wine relaxes, and the flavors keep evolving nicely for the next hour or so.  At that time, it has rich flavors of blackberry / purple grape, red plum / black cherry, some herbaceous bitterness of stem / seed / tar, still backed by strong, ripe acid.  My thought after the first evening is that you should try this especially if you like Petite Sirah, another grape with powerful, rich fruit and strong acid.  I thought it was pretty good and interesting wine, although not stellar.

However, the saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was a real treat!  It had integrated much more fully to show slightly tangy and syrupy flavors of blackberry / dark blueberry, brown sugar, dark purple plum / grape, very dark red raspberry, with slight tar, all supported with the same acid.  I am tempted to get another bottle so I can try decanting it, immediately pouring it back into the bottle and putting the cork back in, and drinking it the next day.  :)

Parducci 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Mendocino County, CA; 13.5% ABV
back label lists a number of sustainable practices, including
-locally owned and operated
-sourced from family farms
-100% green power
-earth-friendly packaging
-carbon neutral
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store a couple weeks ago.  Still some there.

Parducci_2008_CabSauvOn the first night, I thought this wine was rather boring.  There was nothing wrong with it, but the mild red cherry fruit was quite simple, with a slight herbaceous note.

The saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was better.  Some of the red cherry had darkened to purplish dark red cherry, and the herbaceous notes were more pronounced and complex.  It was much better, but still hardly exciting.

Marvelous 2011 Rhone-style red

Wine of Origin Western Cape, South Africa
83% Syrah, 9% Grenache, 5% Viognier, 3% Mourvèdre; 14.5% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store in the last week or so

Marvelous_2011_RhoneBlendAt opening, this wine showed quite simple, light red cherry fruit with a little sweetness of oak.  After 1.5 – 2 hours in a decanter, the fruit darkens and becomes more complex, becoming dominated by flavors of boysenberry / blackberry, less ripe blueberry, and black earth / pepper, still in a lighter body, and still with the artificial-tasting sweetness of cheap oak flavor.  (I think what I have been objecting to as “American Oak” is actually wood chips thrown into the wine or something called liquid oak extract.)  The wine is yummy enough for easy drinking, but I wasn’t that fond of it.

The saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was smoother richer, more integrated, but otherwise about the same.

Berberana 2009 Crianza

Rioja DOCa, Spain; 13.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 20 Sept

Berberana_2009_CrianzaGood from first pour, tangy red cherry fruit, slightly syrupy and tart, earthy.  Over 1.5 – 2 hours, darkens to include more purplish cherry / almost plum, a little tangy black raspberry, perhaps a little orange, supported by wood.  Drinkable and very near the end of its life.  Drink immediately.

The saved single-glass, screwcap bottle is initially no longer syrupy, a little more tart, with the wood more spicy.  After a while in the glass, the fruit sweetens and becomes a little more viscous again, becoming again fairly good.  It still tastes like it should be drunk soon, but it’s also still tasty enough.

Saga 2011 Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France; xx.x% ABV
60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon
from Barons de Rothschild [Lafite]
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on about 21 Sept

Saga_2011_BordeauxThis wine was brought to us by the same company who made the lovely Las Huertas 2011 Cabernet, so I thought it was worth trying it for a dollar less.  (Besides the same name, note the same “sheaf of arrows” design at the top of the Las Huertas bottle as on this label.)  This wine is a bit young, and, so far, solid but not especially exciting.

On the first night, the wine needed about a couple hours to air as much as it was going to.  Then, it showed rather dull and hard blue fruit, with a tannic finish.  It was not bad, but I found it a little boring and unyielding.  It seemed to promise more the next day.

The saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was at first redder but still rather hard and dull.  After about 90 minutes in the glass, it finally softened up to give earthy flavors of medium ripe red cherry, tart red currant, and a little dark cherry / blackcurrant (cassis), with a dusty, tannic finish.  While this is hardly an amazing wine, it would be pretty safe to buy some at this low price and have it as a casual drinking wine for the next 4 to 5 years, especially if you like the earthy, less ripe-fruited Bordeaux style.

Nativa Terra 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

Colchagua Costa Valley, Chile
made with organic grapes; 13.5% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store about a week ago

NativaTerra_2014_SauvBlancOn the first night, I had just a glass (maybe less) of this while making dinner.  While the nose was delightful with yellow flowers and gooseberries, I found the taste didn’t quite deliver, being a little light and thin, with a little too much acid for the body.  It might have come around more if I had waited a little longer.

The next day, the wine has filled out a little more in body and a lot more in flavor and is pretty good, although still a little on the acid side for me.  The wine tastes of less ripe gooseberry, yellow melon, with some grassiness / maybe green bell pepper, finishing with zesty acid.  I’m on the fence for Thumbs Up or Drinkable, but I’ll go with the folks who have been very enthusiastic about this wine.

Rutz 2012 Chardonnay

Sonoma County, CA; 13.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 23 Sept

Rutz_2012_ChardonnayI seemed to recall others’ having said good things about Rutz (written on the front label as RVTZ), so I picked up one of these.  It’s decent Chardonnay for the money.

On the first day, the wine showed very ripe, perhaps a little over-ripe, fruit of yellow apple / pineapple but was nonetheless reasonably well balanced by good-tasting, ripe acid.  Despite the intense flavor, the body lacked much texture, allowing the acid to shine through.   While a sip started out pretty tasty, there was some sort of off flavor in the finish, as if the over-ripeness included some oxidation.  My friend with whom I opened this, who doesn’t drink wine much, thought it was much better than any Chardonnay he’d run into recently, but I disliked that off flavor.

The next day, the off flavor was to my surprise largely gone, and the wine was pretty good, if still not extremely exciting.

The third (!) day, the wine had gone distinctly downhill, so drink it up in the first one or two days.

Fable 2010 “Jackal Bird” white blend

54% Chenin Blanc, 17% Roussanne, 13% Grenache Blanc, 10% Chardonnay, 5% Viognier, 1% Clairette Blanc; 14.0% ABV
Wine of Origin Western Cape, South Africa
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 17 Sept

JackalBird_2010_FableThe blend in this wine looked very interesting and the low price sealed the deal.  It is indeed very good!

At first opening, the wine is a bit tightly wound, showing very elegant yellow and white fruit embedded in a minerally structure.  However, after a little bit being open, and especially as it warms from fridge temperature, the fruit comes out into a very nice blend showing flavors of yellow apple and melon, a little lemon, a little tropical yellow fruit (golden kiwi?), white melon / maybe pear, with a minerally finish.  It was at times a little disjoint, but it seems substantial enough that it might be better the next day.

That’s indeed the case, as the wine is much better integrated and more overtly delicious the second day, with the flavors very much the same and still showing some minerality on the finish.  Overall, a big Thumbs Up for this one.

Care 2012 Crianza Tempranillo – Merlot

70% Tempranillo, 30% Merlot; 13.50% ABV
Cariñena DO, Spain
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 10 Sept

Care_2012_TempMerlotThis bottle and label looked quite promising to me, but to my surprise had not been selling well, so I thought I’d check it out.  I think it’s quite good for the price.

The wine was promising right away, but needed 2+ hours in a decanter to air to my satisfaction, when it showed flavors of dark purple plum and grape, red plum, bitterness of plum skin / tar, and a still somewhat tannic finish.  Although tasty, especially with food, it really did seem like it had not totally relaxed and opened up, and like it could age well in good storage for the next few years.

A few days later, the saved single-glass screwcap bottle still needed a little air before becoming better than on the first night: similar flavors, but well-integrated, smooth and ripe, although very slightly rough or maybe sulfurous.  Overall, I think it is pretty good wine for the low price.