Ceibo 2012 Torrontés – Chardonnay

Mendoza, Argentina; 13.5% ABV
$2 at the Oakland, CA, store on 25 June

Ceibo_2012_TorrChardOver-ripe, possibly slightly oxidized, fruit of yellow apple / pineapple, muscat, golden kiwi, and a little green apple.  Rather out of balance.  I guess for $2 it’s reasonable, but I certainly won’t be getting more.

The next day, the rest in the bottle was actually better, with the rougher edges smoothing out, the taste becoming more balanced and even.  The heavy, ripe fruit is nicely held up by tasty acid, with no sign of oxidation.  I think for this price, I have to go with Thumbs Up.

Revolera 2009 red

produced and bottled by Bodegas Pagos de Aráiz, Navarra DO, Spain
55% Tempranillo, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Graciano; 14% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 23 June

Revolera_2009_NavarraRedAlthough I usually take care to note how much air a wine needs (to my taste only), I can’t recall this wine changing very much over the few hours it was open on its first night.  It showed ripe, robust fruit of red / purple plum / maybe cherry, some rough earth / spice, with stronger acid of those fruits.  It’s satisfying enough with heavier fare (in my case, salami, bread with olive oil, or bread with bacon fat).

The saved single-glass, screw-cap bottle was pretty similar until it had aired a couple hours or so, when the fruit smoothed out and sweetened considerably, becoming more pleasant to my palate, at least.  This might be one to put in a covered decanter for a day before drinking it, or something to look forward to the second day of.

Sassello 2013 Toscana Rosso

Toscana IGT, Italy; 12.5% ABV
apparently bottled anonymously for 8 Vini importers
2011 bottling is listed on their web site as 85% Sangiovese, 15% other grapes
$4 at the Oakland, CA, store on 25 June

Sassello_2013_ToscanaWhen first opened, this wine is light red, thin and tart.  It slowly airs over 2- 3 hours to show flavors of tangy dark cherry and some bitterness of almond / pit, maybe slight prune, still in a rather light body.  This wine is a pleasant enough light, fruity, quaffer, without much complexity or substance.  Fine for $4, but not especially exciting.

The next day, the saved single-glass, screw-cap bottle is redder and perhaps a little more acid and forwardly fruity, and overall more bland than on the first night.  Even at $4, I’d like to think one could do better at the GO.

SB³ Enigma 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough, New Zealand; 13.5% ABV
$3 at the Richmond, CA, store on 8 June

SB3Enigma_2012_SauvBlancI found this wine not very complex but solid and flavorful.  I tasted tart citrus of lemon / yellow grapefruit and some green lime.  It’s more bitter than most, especially in the finish, but not badly so.

The saved single-glass screw-cap bottle was much the same, full-flavored and solid, not all that tasty, and a little bitter.

Villa Trasqua 2010 “Evoluto” Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico DOCG, Italy; 14.5% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 23 June

VillaTrasqua_2010_EvolutoChiantiClThis wine looked promising as a select designation (Chianto Classico DOCG) in a good year.  It’s not spectacular, but it is pretty good for the money.

I decanted this and came back to it half an hour later, when it was already surprisingly tasty, with flavors of tart, medium dark, red cherries balanced by tannin and some bitterness of seed, stem, and wood, in a medium body.  After an hour or slightly more, it had darkened to include plum / purple grape, but it wasn’t until about two hours of air that I felt it really relaxed and fully opened, with the seed / stem moving to the background.  Even after three hours of being open, it’s still quite tasty, showing the flavors above plus a little orange and a hint of licorice, with the same earthy tannic finish.  It’s hardly the most substantial Chianti, and it should probably be drunk up soon, but for the price, it’s quite good.  None survived to see the next day, but I’d guess it would be okay.

La Puerta Alta Bonarda 2009 $5.99

Produced and bottled by: Valle de la Puerta S.A. SRV $20
ABV 13.5%
Purchased: Lebanon OR GO 6-20-2015

FullSizeRenderBonarda is a new varietal for me so of course I had to do some research. I linked a site that gives a basic overview if you are interested. One thing of note, pointed out on the above page, “Bonarda…is used mainly to make fruity, medium-bodied bulk wines with low tannins…” and I found that to be true with this wine. Another reviewer found it to be heavy bodied so I’m linking that too…as a comparison.

Upon opening, fruity & floral aromas permeated the kitchen. It’s a very fragrant wine.

Color: Dark, but not inky, red (cork-composite)
Body: medium and surprisingly smooth. Easily quaffable.
Taste: Dry. Cherry, currant (couldn’t decide if I was leaning more towards red or black), lavender, a bit of grape jolly rancher, lightly spiced…mild to moderate alcohol heat. Very low tannin. Low oak presence for those that prefer not to notice it…just barely evident in the spices. The bottom of the bottle had quite a bit of debris in it.

After being open for about 4 hrs, the wine was a little more earthy and had a fragrance (but not taste) of raisins/prunes. I liked it…really unusual one for me but I did enjoy it. It morphed very quickly IMO so I wouldn’t call it a cellar candidate.

Not very complex but it is nice to find another wine with no unpleasant surprises…simple but enjoyable. Easily recommended as a summer red…being dry and not at all heavy or cloying.  While the reviewers (linked above) may not agree on the tastes, we all seem to rate it about the same (85points to me is a daily drinker-esque wine).

I know we are all looking for that next amazing G.O. wine…this isn’t it, but it is a decent every day drinker.

Maranet 2012 Pinot Noir

Russian River Valley, CA; 14.1% ABV
$7 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 17 June

Maranet_2012_PinotNoir_RRVIt’s always exciting for me when a Pinot Noir with the Russian River Valley appellation shows up, and MrVino had praised this wine, writing about it: “good length, some smoke, light oak, nice mouth feel/glycerin.”  I thought it was pretty tasty, too, but also a little unusual.

I decanted it before running an errand, so I first tasted it after it had been open for about 30 minutes.  Then, it was delicious, tasting of intense fruit (black cherry, dark red and maybe black raspberries) driven by zingy acid, and the smoke and supporting oak MrVino described.  I didn’t really get the glycerin mouthfeel, although it is relatively full-bodied for a Pinot Noir.  While it tasted like Pinot Noir, the darker flavors and intense, tangy fruit almost made me wonder if it contained some Zinfandel.  (Not likely, I think.)  As the evening went on, the wine did not change all that much, softening and filling out only a little, and eventually falling apart slightly.  The back label says is was “bottled exclusively for fine restaurants and private clubs,” so probably it was made to be delicious from first pour.  My reaction is that, while it’s pretty good, I think the 2010 Swami is a more complex and substantial wine (and a dollar less) as long as I am able to give it 2+ hours of air before serving.

The saved single-glass, screw-cap bottle was at first still tasty in a tongue-catching way (taste equivalent of eye-catching?), but was thinner and more acid, less complex and a little more cheap candy-like.  After a couple hours, however the fruit darkened and filled out and was very nice.  For scientific comparison purposes only, of course, I had also opened a saved single-glass screw-cap bottle of the 2010 Swami Pinot.  It also exhibited a similar transition about the same time, and was slightly better.  Thinking back on it, this wonderful transition these wines exhibited is suspiciously correlated with when I managed to get the kids to bed.  :)

2011 Boccali Vineyards Topa Topa Syrah $5.99

Produced & Bottled by: Boccali Vineyards
ABV 14%
Purchased: Lebanon OR GO 6-20-2015

FullSizeRenderThere has been a lot of talk about this wine, buried in other parts of the blog:
“A new wine I’ve seen in some of the stores is the Boccali Vineyards Ojai (Ventura County) Syrah 2011 for $4.99. This wine is medium bodied and needs a half hour of air but then becomes a really elegant Syrah, nice pepper and black fruit and meat flavors. My favorite GO syrah since the Russian Hill 2001 Windsor Oaks.” ~ Seedboy

“That Boccali Vineyards Syrah turned up at the Lake City Seattle GO this week, and I concur it’s a really nice California Syrah. Sounds like a family run winery that started out supplying wine to their Italian restaurant, according to the website. Hope the wine’s appearance here isn’t a bad omen for them, because they clearly know what they’re doing, even though they’re a little tiny operation.” ~ Flitcraft

“I picked up several bottles of the Boccali Syrah from Ojai earlier based on SB’s glowing review and enjoyed them.

Although a good value for the money, they are IMHO a discernible step below the quality and complexity of the Russian Hill Windsor Oak/Top Block Syrahs, which ran a couple of bucks more…” ~EHL

Color: Magenta
Fragrance: Combination of tart fruit and plum
Body: lighter than the warmer climate AU Shiraz I’m used to but perfect for its taste profile.
Taste: A really nice balance here. I was surprised at the listed 14% alcohol.  In my experience, colder vintages tend to be lower alcohol. This doesn’t taste heavy with alcohol heat though, and since the percentage can vary from the label up to 2%, I would put it tasting more at 12.5-13%. Semi-tart (reminded me of gooseberry a bit..tangy fruit with a bit of grass) fruit, mild plum notes, pepper and a bit of earth. I didn’t get any of the meat flavors that SB mentioned but I agree with the above assessments; this is a nice cold vintage Syrah.

For those of you who enjoy the heavier bodied, fruit, spice, cocoa & leather style AU Shiraz (which I do very much also enjoy), this is not your wine. In comparison, this is a much lighter, herbal, softer approach, style of Syrah. It would have been a perfect summer purchase (and a repeat buy for me) if I could have even slightly detected the savory flavors mentioned above.

Masquerade Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2014 $8.99

Produced by: C.V.B.M. S.R.I. Salgareda-TV-Italia
ABV 11.5%
Purchased: Salem GO 6-17-2015

FullSizeRenderApparently the DOGC “Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene” is only given to the “finest Prosecco wines coming from the Veneto region” and they only may be labeled as such if they come from vineyards within the San Pietro di Barbossa area.

As to this particular wine, some of you from my generation might perhaps appreciate the Addams Family moment I had when opening it. As soon as the cork popped, some sort of condensation, giving the appearance of steam,  issued from the mouth of the bottle and continued to do so even as I poured a sample into the glass. It made me laugh and remember fondly the smoking toasts of Gomez and Morticia.

Color: palest straw, almost clear with a hint of golden tone.
Fragrance: citrus, floral
Category: I would put this at “Extra Dry”. It’s not dry enough to be Brut but there isn’t a marked residual sugar sweetness so I’m thinking it fits nicely in “Extra Dry”.
Taste: On first sip, there was a noticeable yeastiness and I was concerned (IMO, one will often find a yeastiness in the lower quality Prosecco but it should not be a factor in the best Prosecco), however it blew off almost immediately and was not discernible in the 2nd sip. What I did find was clean, crisp citrus at the fore with floral (hibiscus-like) supporting notes and a nice (but not overpowering) minerality. Overall, exactly what I’d expect from a tasty Prosecco.

I do not know what the MSRP of this wine is, originally…but $8.99 is a decent price for what I am tasting. I wish I’d picked up a couple of bottles. As of 6-17-2015, this wine was still plentiful on the shelves of the “D” Street Salem, OR G.O.

Edit: one thing my husband and I were talking about as we finished this off tonight…it is good and $8.99 is a decent price for a good Prosecco. However, we would be hard pressed in a blind taste test to tell the difference (taste/quality-wise) between this and Kirkland’s Prosecco (Veneto DOGC) at $6.99/bottle.

Cantina di Casteggio 2013 Rosato

CasteggioOltrepò Pavese, Lombardy, Italy (no classification); 7% ABV
$3 at the Richmond, CA, store on 8 June

Casteggio_2013_RosatoI had expected this to be a dry rosé, but it was not so.  Instead, it was like a Moscato, off-dry and very lightly carbonated (frizzante).  Maybe the low alcohol should have clued me in.  It tasted of fruity strawberry, raspberry, and orange / quince jelly.  I could barely feel the carbonation in my mouth.  It was quite yummy, and we had no trouble finishing it off, but I found it a little too sweet.  But if sweet, fruity wine sounds up your alley, this is a good one for the price.

This winery apparently makes frizzante wines from a number of red and white grapes.  But this is not obviously a varietal wine, so it could be a blend of any, or it could be made from the red grapes they use to make their still, dry red wines: Croatina and Uva Rara.