Author Archives: BargainWhine

About BargainWhine

SF Bay area wine lover. Husband and dad. Foodie and wild mushroom hunter. Wine motto: "If you like it, it's good wine." Please send electronic communication to my screen name on Google's service.

Meerlust Estate 2013 Pinot Noir

Wine of Origin Stellenbosch, South Africa; 13.0% ABV
imported by Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Inc., Oakland, CA
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 May

I don’t recall previously tasting a South African Pinot Noir.  However, I have liked the more savory, rusty earth flavors in other SA reds, and they seemed like they might be good in a Pinot, so…

At first pour, the wine seemed mildly promising: light, delicate, restrained, and acid, in a more “Old World” style.  However, when it finally aired after about 2.5 hours in a decanter, I was not sure where to put it in the New / Old spectrum, and I was pretty impressed.  The wine tasted of soft and ripe dark red cherry, lighter red tart cherry, orange / dried orange peel leading to earthy root beer, a tinge of nutmeg / cinnamon, and nice Pinot funk.  With a little more air, some of the cherry darkens to black cherry and other black fruit.  Unfortunately, fairly soon after fully airing, the last bit of the wine seemed like it started shutting down, indicating to me that this wine would be better with more age.

The saved screw-capped bottle of this wine was more immediately accessible, with similar flavors, although the fruit never fully came out the way it did the first night, at least during the 1 or maybe 2 hours I drank it.  It was also more fully integrated and elegant.  While it’s not the Bailiwick Pinots (c’mon, what is?), I think this is very nice and interesting Pinot for the money.  It’s fine to drink now with enough air, or the next day, but would probably benefit from 2 or 3 more years of age.  I’ll probably get a few more bottles to do just that.

La Croix St. Vincent 2015 Sauvignon (Blanc)

75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Sémillon; 12% ABV
Bordeaux, France
imported by Max Beverage, South Pasadena, CA
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 May

I don’t remember seeing a white Bordeaux at the GO for some time, and the reds on this label, and from this importer in general, have been good, so I was excited to try this wine.  I found it tasty and so easily drinkable.

The nose is lovely, of yellow and green melon and gooseberries, with aromatic floral / musqué character.  On the palate, the body is light, giving the flavors – those in the nose plus some yellow grapefruit and green lime, minerality, slightly astringent bitterness on the finish – a nice delicateness.  For me, this went down way too easily, and we had no trouble finishing the whole bottle.  Highly Drinkable.

Bodkin 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve “The Albino”

Sandy Bend Vineyard, Lake County, CA; 13.5% ABV
“Fermented upon the skins.  Bottled without fining or filtration”
“Christopher Reid Christensen, Winesmith”
Produced and bottled by Wefew Vintners, Healdsburg, CA
$7 (or maybe $6) at the Oakland, CA, store about a month ago.  Almost certainly no longer there.

This label struck me as unusual and interesting and, indeed, the wine is one of the most unusual and interesting Sauvignon Blancs I have ever tasted.

The aromatic profile resembles that of a Riesling: perfume-like white / yellow flowers and light yellow fruit.  On the palate, I tasted lightly lemony yellow peach, yellow melon, cherimoya / light gardenia, green lime, some balancing minerally grape skin bitterness, and a hint of fresh herbs on the finish.  The wine had a pleasantly viscous mouthfeel.  Good on its own, it was spectacular with food.

The next day, the wine was a little softer and more forward, but overall it was very similar.

Gauthier 2014 Chardonnay

Rockin’ H Ranch Vineyards, Sonoma Coast, CA; 13.9% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store many weeks ago.  No longer there.

Some folks may have liked this wine, but to me this was a weird Chardonnay.  It tastes intensely of assertive, even abrasive, ripe or over-ripe tropical yellow fruit (starfruit (Carambola), maybe mango), caramelized yellow apple, with perhaps even a slightly spoiled character, and slight green apple.  I don’t like it, and my suspicion is that it will be worse the next day.

Indeed, the next day it’s just awful: sour and abrasive.  I would be glad to hear from anyone who had a better experience with this wine, since I have generally liked the Gauthier selection wines, but my bottle definitely gets a Thumbs Down.  I won’t even cook with this.

Saint Andre de Figuiere “Le Saint Andre” 2015 Vermentino

IGP du Var, eastern Provence, France
100% Rolle; 12.5% ABV
produced by Famille Combard
imported by Paul M. Young Fine Wines, LA, CA
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 17 May

In this wine, I tasted white and darker yellow melon with a hint of green grape skin / maybe lime, a nice viscosity, quite minerally, dry and crisp.  (Looked up later, the producer’s notes (PDF) suggest flavors of stone fruits, which is reasonable.)  I thought it was not especially exciting, but quite pleasant and easy to drink on a hot afternoon, especially if you are fond of a French style.  It’s substantial enough that it stood up to richer cheese and salami.

The next evening, when I arrived home after work on a hot day, the wine was delicious, showing elegantly and minerally structured white and green melon.  Later in the evening, it also tasting of the riper yellow melon, as it did on the first day.  Again, it’s not super exciting, but quite good and reliable, especially at this price.

Macarico 2010 Serre Delle More Vino Spumante di Qualita

Alto Vulture, Vini da Vulcano, Basilicata, Italy
100% Aglianico; 13% ABV
North Berkeley Imports
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store at least a few months ago.  No longer there.

This sparkling rosé arrived probably about 6 months ago, with two other NBI wines.  A couple people told me this was awful, so I had just let this bottle sit around unopened.  However, tonight I opened it, expecting to dump it down the drain, with a backup ready.  But I was surprised: I love it!

The wine was pleasantly aromatic, showing fruity flavors of cantaloupe / quince, red berries, and a dark red cherry close to a savory, almost-meat flavor.  It was well-carbonated and pleasantly dry and crisp.  It kept well over the evening in a stoppered bottle in the fridge.  More light tangerine flavor came out over time.

Chateau Bellevue 2015 Bergerac

Merlot 30%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Cabernet Franc 30%, Malbec 10%; 13% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store during the last sale.  Still there.

This wine is promising and tasty enough at first pour, but starts to really come around after being decanted 2:15.  I thought it fully aired after 3 hours, but tasty along the way.  It’s bit light, but nicely blended and complex, with flavors spanning the full usual range of Bordeaux, plus a little more thanks to the Malbec: earthy / woody red cherry / ripe redcurrant, cassis / almost blueberry, boysenberry / blackberry / hint of violets, gently drying tannic finish.  Thoroughly enjoyable for the price.

The saved, single-glass, screw-cap bottle was more accessible, tasty from the start and following a similar evolution of darkening fruit.

Volpe Pasini 2014 Ribolla Gialla

Delle Venezie IGT, northeastern Italy; 12% ABV
imported by Diageo “Chateau & Estate” wines
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 12 April.  Still there.

The last Ribolla Gialla I reviewed was quite good, so I had to try this one, too.  It is even more tasty, IMO easily worth the dollar more.

I find the wine a little closed straight from the fridge, but warmed up a little, it shows good intensity of lemony pear, yellow melon, white and yellow flowers, slightly astringent minerality and grape skin bitterness, green lime, and a little orange on the finish.  In trying to help customers, I usually ask if they want something more fruity like a Chardonnay or more crisp like a Sauvignon Blanc.  To me, this wine is somewhere in between, more fruity than most SB, and more acid than most Chardonnay.  Yum!

The next day, the wine had smoothed out and integrated, and had a viscous minerality.  It was more mellow but still delicious.

Magnolia Court 2013 Chardonnay

Central Coast, CA; 13.5% ABV
Cellared and bottled by Turn Key Wine Brands
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 12 April.  A small amount still there.

I was very intrigued by this wine because the back label reads, in part, “Our Chardonnay combines the structure and minerality often associated with coastal Chardonnay, with a seductive, measured oak profile.  It has generous notes of sub-tropical fruit, toasted hazelnut, and crushed wet stones.”  At one point, I urged Seedboy to try this wine if he saw it, because the above sounded up his alley.  However, now that I try it, it’s almost certainly not.

On the first night, I wondered what those notes meant by “structure and minerality,” since the wine struck me as soft and sweet.  I thought it had a rich and smooth, fairly complex and delineated taste of ripe white and yellow pear, yellow apple, slight yellow tropical fruit, with a creamy, oak / vanilla finish.  There was some minerality, but it was rather soft or even oily.  I conceded it was pretty tasty wine, if not in a style I prefer.

On the second night, however, the wine gained some more acid and, to my taste, became much more balanced.  The flavors were all still there without degradation, and I tasted the “toasted hazelnut” in the label notes.  It’s very Central Coast, and, to me, quite good.

JoelA noted recently that there is a Magnolia Court Pinot Noir, also $7, available at the Oakland, CA, store.  I’d be curious about the reactions of anyone who has tasted it.

Flagstone 2012 “Noon Gun” white blend

43% Chenin Blanc, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, 21% Viognier, 1% Nouvelle; 13.0% ABV
Wine of Origin Western Cape, South Africa
imported by Accolade Wines North America, Napa, CA
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store.  Still there.

This wine has interested me since it arrived a while ago, especially after the Rustenburg white was pretty tasty, but I am getting to it only now.  It’s also quite good.

It has a pleasant nose of yellow peach / pear and white pear / melon.  On the palate, the wine shows these flavors with some yellow and white floral character, some less ripe green lime, bitterness of citrus pith and grape skin that is close to a light minerality.  Anyway, if you liked the Rustenberg white, you’ll probably like this one, too.  For me, it’s a Thumbs Up.

My hesitation about this wine was that it would be too old.  The first day, I thought it was not showing its age at all, but the second day, it did show a tinge of oxidation.  Otherwise, however, it was still quite tasty the second day, with more forward yellow tropical fruit, still balanced with the same minerality and bitterness.

About the grape Nouvelle, this site had this to say:

Nouvelle – This grape, a crossing of Semillon and Crouchen Blanc (better known as Cape Riesling), was developed in South Africa by Professor CJ Orffer of Stellenbosch University. While plantings remain tiny they are increasing, mainly for inclusion in blends. It produces wines with a strong grassy, green peppery character.

The next day…