VQ 2012 Cuvée VIII red blend

25% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Tempranillo, 10% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah
5% Cinsault, 5% Mourvèdre, 5% Counoise, 5% Graciano; 14% ABV
California
from Odisea Wine Company, Napa, CA
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 1 July

VQ_2012_CuveeVIIII was definitely intrigued by this complex sort-of Rhone-style blend, and the not-bad label.  When I looked at the blend, I thought, “Hey, it’s missing Zinfandel!”  It turns out that I think the easiest description of this wine is “Zinfandel,” although with kind of strong acid.

On the first night, the flavors were immediately interesting and quite complex, but the sharp acid overwhelmed the pleasure I found in it.  After 2 – 2.5 hours in a decanter, the acid had mellowed somewhat, and the flavors were still very nice: darker red and purple fruits, with earth, prune, slight herbs, and spice, quite assertively complex.  Still, I hoped the second half would be more mellow.

Indeed, the second half (stored in a 375ml screwcap bottle with very little air) was a bit better.  All the flavors were nicely integrated and tasty, and the acid had calmed down significantly.  However, the acid was still strong enough that I’d probably not get another bottle, even if I were not inclined to get something new to review.  It was fine enough with food, though.

“Cuvée Darius” 2013 Fitou

Appellation Fitou Protégée, France
40% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 30% Syrah; 13% ABV
$6 on 4 July

CuveeDarius_2013_FitouThe Wikipedia entry on Fitou wine says that any Fitou AOC wine is required to be at least 40% Carignan.  This wine is clearly not AOC and has no Carignan, so it seems likely of a lesser designation.  Still, I hoped it would be a satisfying wine given how rarely southern French appellations show up at the GO.  I found it lighter-bodied, but pretty tasty.

As per my usual, I thought it needed about 1.5 – 2 hours in a decanter to open up, and it kept improving from there.  It showed the ripe, tangy, earthy / funky style I adore, pleasantly complex if hardly overpowering: black and red raspberry, purple grape, blackberry, funky black earth, slight roses close to the acid, in the finish some woody / earthy complexity / richness.  The GO “Elsewhere” price for this wine is $20, but I cannot believe this wine ever sold for $20.  It’s just not that substantial.  Online prices I found were $8.  It’s still a pretty tasty wine for $6, but it would be a better bargain for $5.

The next day, the second half, stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air, was more soft and rich, slightly redder and more acid, less overtly complex.  It was still yummy but, especially toward the end, seemed to be falling apart.  Overall, it’s probably better on the first day.

As a word of warning, JoelA wrote about this wine:

Had somewhat high (well, medium-high) hopes for this wine, a GSM (40/30/30) blend from one of the older appellations in the Languedoc (southern France) area.
Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver. On opening, a dark purple color, very fruity entry with significant tannin (it’s young, after all). But the wine quickly faded, to the point that the same evening it could easily be drunk with some broiled trout, and the next day was pretty flaccid.

This was a bit different from my experience, so there may be some bottle variation.

Gibbs 2012 Chardonnay “Terroir NV Block”

Napa Valley, CA; 14.1% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 4 July

Gibbs_2012_Chardonnay_TerroirNVBlockThis wine looked quite promising, from a single vineyard in Napa Valley, nice label, good year, low price, etc.

On first pour, the wine seemed okay but not particularly interesting.  However, the second glass showed nicely complex and integrated medium-intensity flavors of ripe yellow apple with a little pineapple, green apple, white pear, a little bitterness of skin / stem, and a slight aged caramel / nuttiness.  The texture was smooth and moderately viscous.  This seems quite good for the price.

The next day, the nose is forceful and lovely, showing ripe, lightly caramelized golden apple / pineapple / golden kiwi / maybe yellow / white pear.  There’s a lot more of that on the palate, with just a slight tinge of that green apple, well integrated with something a little funky that’s very close to (and might be part of) the oak.  It still has the slightly viscous texture, and is still quite tasty, although now in a more over-the-top kind of way, but still reasonably balanced.  Given that it needed a bit of air on the first day, I’m a little surprised by how much it changed on the second, but it was very good for the price on both days.

Errazuriz 2013 Sauvignon Blanc “Max Reserva”

D.O. Aconagua Costa, Chile; 13% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 29 June

Errazuirz_2013_SauvBlancResI thought this was a very well-made wine, with flavors mainly of lemon, yellow melon, and less ripe gooseberry / green bell pepper, in a tight and elegant minerally structure.  However, the acid was a bit too sharp for me.  Even after the second half of the bottle had been sitting in the fridge for a few days, the wine was very similar: still nicely structured but a bit too tart for my taste.  Those who like wine especially crisp may consider this Thumbs Up.

Villa Aganoor non-vintage Cabernet Franc

della Venezie IGT, northeastern Italy; 12% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 24 June

VillaAganoor_NV_CabFrancWhen we saw a Veneto-area Cabernet Franc in the order guide, we thought this sounded pretty good!  In particular, I thought that a CF from an area that makes lighter, more aromatic reds, could be really very interesting.  However, when the wine arrived, it turned out to be non-vintage, and thus likely lower quality.  Still, I had to try one to find out.  It’s not as bad as I had feared, but nowhere near as good as I had originally hoped.

I thought this wine needed about 1.5 hours of air in a decanter to open.  Then, it shows soft, purplish dark red cherry, cherry / red raspberry acid, hint of blueberry / blackberry, very slight sweet black pepper.  My impression is that, while it’s not bad wine, there’s neither anything especially expressive of Cabernet Franc (okay, it’s not Zinfandel, but it could credibly be Cabernet Sauvignon), nor anything especially Italian about it.  Except for perhaps slightly stronger acid, it could almost be Californian.

The second half, saved in a 375ml bottle and stoppered with very little acid, was very similar to the first half, so it’s at least a pretty solid wine.

 

Jardin des Charmes 2015 rosé

Coteaux de Béziers Indication Géographique Protégée, Languedoc, southern France
70% Cinsault, 30% Grenache; 12.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 29 June

JardinDesCharmes_2015_roseThis wine looked lovely and is from the current vintage, so I had to try it.  Compared to the also-current Chateau La Sauvageonne rosé, this wine is more austere and structured, but also delicious.

The wine shows flavors of medium-ripe pink grapefruit, a little tangerine / quince, less ripe white melon, hint of lavender / jasmine, with slight skin bitterness and minerality, and crisp acid.  Some red berries and yellow apple come out more as it warms.

None of my bottle survived until the next day, but I expect it would follow the usual pattern: fruit more forward and integrated, less minerality and complexity, still quite tasty.

Chateau La Sauvageonne 2014 rosé

50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah; rubber-sealed glass stopper; 13% ABV
Coteaux de Languedoc, France
from Gerard Bertrand
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 24 June

Bertrand_2014_ChLaSauvageonneRoseI immediately got a bottle of this wine, with its lovely presentation and southern French origin.  IMO, this is what rosé’s about.

Its delicate nose is equal parts cantaloupe, tangerine, pink peach.  It has delicate flavors of these on the palate, with some red cherry and tart redcurrant acid, slight lavender, and perhaps a little yellow apple.  Despite the delicate flavors, the mouthfeel is thicker, with a minerally character.  This is a little more expensive for a GO rosé, but IMO worth the price.  Still, I would guess from the slight aggressiveness to the acid that it’s not one to keep around, so drink up.

The notes from the link above are, “The bouquet offers up intense aromas of red fruit, blackcurrant and redcurrant as well as floral elements (violet and rose) and citrus notes (grapefruit). This wine has a delicate oaked dimension, developing into vanilla and gingerbread notes. Fresh, rich and unctuous on the palate.”  It didn’t occur to me, but I second the “vanilla and gingerbread notes”.

On the second day, the wine was at least as good, with the fruit more forward and integrated, showing a juicy pink grapefruit and yellow apple more prominently.  As it warmed, it was more sweet than on the first night.

Apparently from the label, the translation of “La Sauvageonne” is “wild woman,” but I’m guessing that “wild” means less “unhibited / crazy” and more “living in nature, outside civilization” in a Rousseau-esque sort of way.  (The left side of the label features an embossed naked woman with long hair and a horse.)

 

Giguiere 2013 Musqué Chardonnay

Dunnigan Hills AVA, Yolo County, CA; 13.5% ABV
from Matchbook Wines
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 24 June

Giguiere_2013_ChardMusqueThe back label reads, “Musqué is the French term meaning both perfumed and muscat-like.  Many grape varieties, including the Clone 809 of Chardonnay have a Musqué mutation, which produces a highly aromatic wine.  The wine has beautiful aromas of honeysuckle and orange blossom with flavors of apricot and honey.”  This is a good description.  Its most immediate flavor is Chardonnay’s usual yellow apple, although quite ripe, but the other flavors describe above are also prominent.  In its honeyed, ripe-fruited, slightly viscous, aromatic elegance, this wine is a lot like a dessert wine, although not sweet.  (I’d call this wine on the sweeter end of dry.)  I think this is an interesting, delicious wine, but don’t get it if you want your usual Chardonnay.  It strikes me as showing its age a little, with some of the honey heading in the direction of oxidation, but it was also quite good the second day.  On the third day, the last bit seemed a little tired, and went into the tangerine ginger chicken.

 

RoxyAnn Winery 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

Rogue Valley, (southern) OR; 14.1%
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 20 June

RoxyAnn_2014_SauvBlancThe label and color of this wine looked very nice, and I was intrigued by its southern Oregon appellation.  It’s pretty tasty, but like another Rogue Valley Sauvignon Blanc we’ve seen, the main thing about it is the acid.

The wine has a very pleasant nose, and shows smooth, elegant, lower-intensity flavors of lemon / yellow grapefruit, light lime, less ripe pear / nectarine, with crisp acid, a slight minerality and grapeskin bitterness.  Moderating the acid somewhat is a slight viscosity to the texture.  I didn’t find it extremely exciting, but it’s a tasty and well made wine, especially in the warm weather we’ve been having.

I liked this wine a little better the next day, when the fruit came forward and integrated with the acid, making the acid more juicy.

La Hormiga Roja 2015 Garnacha

100% Garnacha (Grenache); 13% ABV
Jumilla DO, Spain
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 June

LaHormigaRoja_2015_GarnachaI was a bit wary of a wine, especially a red, showing up now from last year’s vintage, but the notes on the printed price sign (I find it interesting that GO started including wine notes on price signs in the last year…) sounded pretty good, so…

On first pour, the wine tastes of ripe, slightly syrupy, red cherry with a roughly woody finish, fairly full-bodied.  It’s enjoyable enough right away, but of course the “air guy” thinks it needs about 2 hours in a decanter to fully air.  Then the wine smooths out, darkens, and integrates to show earthy / funky / tangy dark red cherry (I would have guessed this had a good percentage of Monastrell (Mourvèdre)), black raspberry / loganberry, tinge of blueberry, with smoother wood on the finish.  It’s still very fruity / slightly syrupy, in a way that is not very Spanish, IMO.  It’s really almost Californian.

The next day, the saved single-glass, screwcap bottle was very similar.  It’s pretty tasty, but not really structured enough for my taste.  It should hold on easily, perhaps even improve to my taste, for a couple more years.