Spain (no Denominación de Origen); 13.5% ABV
imported by Quintessential, LLC, Napa, CA
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 18 Aug
GLPease recommended this rosé, so I was glad to try it. It is very good for the low price. The flavor starts with nice cantaloupe and red berries with some sweetness of fruit, moves into some white (maybe slightly green) melon, and finishes with balancing tartness and bitterness, and a little sort of chalk-dust minerality. It stayed good and tasty for a few days.
This bottle was courtesy of Sopheap Yin at the Richmond store.
Toscana IGT, Italy; 12.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 12 Aug
This wine looked very promising, with its lovely pale orange / pink color and elegant modernist label, but it took me a little while to get to it. It is indeed quite lovely.
The wine shows delicate flavors of riper pink grapefruit / tangerine, strawberry / raspberry, light yellow melon / lemon, a little balancing bitterness of grape skin / stem, with perhaps a hint of raw almond. The fruit is accessible but not overpowering, nicely integrated with a soft minerality. I could find no information about this wine online. To my surprise, it is not mentioned on the producer’s web site.
The next day, the wine was a little less elegant and balanced, but still nicely complex and tasty.
Produced and bottled by Altocedro, Mendoza, Argentina; 14.9% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 13 Jan
This wine, with its back label describing the winemaker’s passion for poetry and high-altitude vineyards, looked promising. It turned out to be outstanding.
I thought the wine needed about 80 minutes in a decanter to fully air, when it tasted of dark blueberry and boysenberry, dark roses / violets, and black earth, with only the occasional slight hint of green bell pepper, and probably other complexities I couldn’t pick out. The body was full and richly textured. To me, it tasted mostly like Syrah and Malbec, with some other grape(s) in smaller amounts. IMO, this is an exceptional GO buy, but you should drink it now. I don’t expect it to improve, and it could start going downhill soon.
The next day, the saved single-glass screwcap bottle still needed about the same amount of time to air. It was redder and less rich and complex than on the first night, but still very tasty. That reinforces my opinion that this is a “drink now” wine.
France; 11% ABV
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store on 4 Nov
The presentation of this wine impressed me enough to get a bottle during the last sale in early November. I’ve finally opened it for Christmas Day, and I think it’s very nice.
This decently complex and nicely balanced wine tastes of yellow / white pear, some yellow apple, lemon, and mild yeast / egg bread, with soft carbonation that gives a slightly creamy texture. I’d guess its retail would be about $14 – $16, putting its discount in about the usual range for the GO, and making it a solid value.
produced and bottled by La Vignerons de la Mediteranee, Narbonne, France; 11.5% ABV
imported by Pasternak Wine Imports, NY
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on about 6 Aug.
This wine did not seem to have anything going for it — no geographical designation, no vintage, no real producer — but it was imported by Pasternak, of whom for some reason I have a good impression. Well, it was no huge discovery, but it was not bad, either.
On the first day, it was not bad right away, but I thought it benefited from about an hour of air. Then, it showed fruit, fairly jammy but also gently tangy, of black cherry (Grenache?) and red / purple plum, a little earth / spice, nicely integrated, with reasonably balancing acid. It doesn’t really exhibit any specific terroir, but I guess you could say it’s slightly more French than anything else. The rest was tasty enough to drink over the next hour or two.
The saved, single-glass bottle still needed a bit of air before the fruit sweetened and filled out again. It was slightly more pruney and acid, but otherwise much the same as on the first night. Overall, a perfectly serviceable red.
Casteggio, Oltrepò Pavese, Lombardy, Italy (no classification); 7% ABV
$3 at the Richmond, CA, store on 8 June
I 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.
Silverdale, WA 11% alc. (Purchased on 12/27/14)
Color & Clarity: Brilliant pale golden with an abundance of tiny bubbles.
Aromas: Slightly closed nose is more fruity than yeasty, but not overly fruity; shows some peach and grapefruit aromas.
Flavors: Little yeast and more fruit with flavors of grapefruit, peach and slightly bitter almond in a bone dry package.
Texture: It shows a mildly foamy mousse; moderate acidity, so it’s not overy tart and lemony. Not a lot of extract in terms of texture; more light and fanciful…a quaffer.
Finish: Clean, dry finish. A decent food bubbly.
I could find nothing of any consequence about this wine on the internet. I found a fair amount of info about their extra dry Prosecco, but not the brut spumante (which means only sparkling wine in Italian; not to be confused with Asti Spumante made from Muscat grapes). Just guessing, I’d say this wine might well be made from Pinot Grigio, as it does have similar qualities.
Silverdale, WA 11% alc. (Purchased on 11/6/14)
Beautiful medium ruby grapefruit color with a nice steady stream of tiny bubbles. Looked really nice, but it took forever to begin to open (which is not a quality I expect or want in a bubbly). Eventually showed a very slight dosage (sweetness) and flavors of strawberry and grapefruit pith with bitterness in the finish. No discernible yeastiness/bread dough qualities. Hardly compelling…even at five bucks…one bottle was plenty. Just not enough character or fruit for me. Appears to be selling for $10-$11 at regular retail.
Spain; apparently made from Macabeo / Viura; 11.5% ABV
$7 at the Oakland, CA, store on 2 Nov
At first, I thought this wine showed a bit too much candy / aspirin character, but, by the second pour, I was convinced. It shows flavors of riper yellow apple and lemon, and some yeasty character, balanced by some green grape skin bitterness, nicely crisp acid, and exuberant carbonation. Thumbs Up!
“an alluring red wine blended in a classic Bordeaux style” with 13.5% ABV
$5 at the Oakland, CA, store on 30 Oct
I picked this up because I was amused by the “Heritage Red Blend” description on the label. Its makers so obviously wanted to call it a Meritage (a Bordeaux-style blend not made in France), but there is restricted licensing to go through before you can do that. So I suspected that the apparently suppressed enthusiasm might show up in the wine, and it was indeed pretty good.
It was okay at first pour, but I thought it needed about 2 hours of air in a decanter to show what it had: ripe fruit of medium to dark cherry, blackberry, maybe a little raspberry, with supporting oak. While there’s still a little “unseriousness” to the fruit, it is lighter, more reserved, and better balanced than, for example, the more fruit-bomby Hart & McGarry. It will probably age well for a couple years. While I’d say the H&M is overall the better wine, this wine tastes more like a Napa Cabernet or, I suppose, a Meritage.