Category Archives: White

Ziobaffa 2014 Pinot Grigio “Filmakers Edition”

Puglia IGT, 12% ABV
Certified Organic. Sustainable.
Bottled by Castellani
imported by Sage Beverages, Carlsbad, CA
$3.99 at the San Diego (Downtown), CA, store on 3 June

20170624_120413An organic, sustainable Pinot Grigio that’s years behind current vintage, comes in a funky bottle with a strange cork wrapped in plastic at Grocery Outlet for $4? What could go wrong?

To be short, this wine is inferior to $2.99 “2 buck Chuck” Pinot Grigio that I bought to use as cooking wine last week in almost every way. It drinks as over the hill and not coming back. It offers some oak and pear on the nose, pours a slightly golden, straw color and there’s a medium mouthfeel with green mango and sourness and that flavor carries through the finish, completely distracting from any positive characteristics the wine may have once offered. This is the first date that shows up bitter and incompletely recovered from his or her last relationship when your first conversation on the phone was promising.

This is a strong no go for me.

Eo 2014 Trebbiano D’Abruzzo

Trebbiano D’Abruzzo DOC, central Italy; 12.5% ABV
produced and bottled by Azienda Collefriso
imported by Wine Appellations, LTD, Mill Valley, CA
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 12 June

I seemed to recall that I had seen Trebbiano-based wines only from the province of Veneto, but the Wikipedia page linked above says that

The Trebbiano family account for around a third of all white wine in Italy. It is mentioned in more than 80 of Italy’s DOCs (“Controlled origin denominations”), although it has just seven of its own : Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano di Aprilia, Trebbiano di Arborea, Trebbiano di Capriano del Colle, Trebbiano di Romagna and Trebbiano Val Trebbia dei Colli Piacentini and Trebbiano di Soave.

Perhaps the most successful Trebbiano-based blend are the Orvieto whites of Umbria, which use a local clone called Procanico.

As I’d expect from a wine grown farther south, this Trebbiano is a bit more robust that those I recall from Veneto, but it is still very Italian.

The wine tastes of yellow / white melon and pear, some green lime, and a slightly aspirin-like grape skin bitterness, with a somewhat fleshy mouthfeel, crisp lemony acid, and supporting, integrated minerality.  Anyway, I really like this wine for this price.  In terms of food pairing, it would fit in the same niche as a more crisp Sauvignon Blanc.  None of my bottle survived to be tasted the next day.

Also, the front label seems to indicate that the wine may have been made with organic grapes.  The back label doesn’t say anything on the subject.

Two 2013 German Rieslings

Bruno M. 2013 Kreuznacher Kronenberg – Nahe Riesling, Bernkasteler Kurfustlay – Mosel Riesling
Both 100% Riesling
Mosel- 10.5%ABV, 21.7g/L residual sugar, 6.3g/L acidity
Nahe – 10%ABV, 22.5g/L residual sugar, 5.8g/L acidity
$3.99 at the San Diego, CA store on 3 June

A Tale of Two Rieslings: sampling these two, side by side is like a good riddle – hard to crack. They are very, very similar, so much so that I wouldn’t even suggest trying to find one singly or choosing one over the other. The following are my observations after a quick pop and pour and letting them come up to a more appropriate temperature once taken out of the fridge.

These are two, nice, sweet Rieslings with good mouth feel and a touch of minerality, which you absolutely can’t go wrong with at $3.99 per bottle. They are semi-sweet by residual sugar numbers in the U.S. but sweet by German standards. Buy them both and do a blind tasting. Maybe it’s the wistfulness in me for not having sampled more regional Rieslings while in Mosel last summer (don’t get me wrong, we had our fair share, but there is only so much Riesling you can even sample, let alone drink in one trip) or maybe its just remembrances of relaxing alongside the Mosel River, but I find these both really tasty. They’re not complicated, but if you don’t mind sweet wines, give them a shot by all means. These are *not* trocken (and the numbers and the palate don’t lie). Like most sweeter wines, they’d pair great with spicy Asian food – we cooked up some Thai barbecue chicken and Thai beef salad with a generous amount of birds eye chilies.

Now, for some non-alternative facts: According to the trade info at Grapex (see bottom of post for more info), the Mosel is less sweet than the Nahe and also has more ABV (0.5%) and acid. The difference is pretty negligible but it is identifiable in taste, and the Mosel has a touch more minerality to it. The Nahe is the more floral of the two, both in nose and on the palate, as the literature states. Melon and lychee predominate on the palate. Mouthfeel is darn near the same and is silky, slightly viscous.

If you are interested, these are distributed out of Germany from MO-RHE-NA which is an export association.  They have a very comprehensive PDF of the wineries in their portfolio that might make planning a German wine trip fun (http://www.mo-rhe-na.com/doc/Introduction_2016.pdf).

Grapex Trade Info: http://www.grapex.com/sites/default/files/wine_pdf_files/bruno_m._-_nahe_kreuznacker.pdf, http://www.grapex.com/sites/default/files/wine_pdf_files/bruno_m._-_mosel_bernkasteler.pdf

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.

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…