Bosio 2014 Barbera D’Asti

Barbera D’Asti DOCG, Piedmont, Italy; 13% ABV
(pretty sure it was) $6 at the Richmond, CA, store

Bosio_2014_BarbaraDAstiThis wine’s back label touts “rich plum and blackberry flavors,” and  I agree with this description.  However, except for a slight liqueur character, I don’t have much else to add.  Although the fruit is somewhat rich and quite ripe for an Italian Barbera, it’s a fairly simple wine although pleasant enough.  The acid is perhaps less than typical of Italian wines, and not showing much of the usually more tart Barbera acid.  After being decanted about 2 hours, the wine lightens to a ripe red cherry, with a little more complexity of wood, but it is still not especially interesting.

I liked the second half (stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air) better.  The plum and blackberry flavors are nicely integrated with the cherry, with a smoothly polished, mild liqueur character, and a little woody / almondy bitterness.  The acid is still less than usual for Barbera, but not bad.  Overall, this is a quite enjoyable wine for the price.

Alta Vineyards 2010 “Nonno’s Rosso”

33% Zinfandel, 23% Alicante Bouschet, 23% Syrah, 21% Mourvedre; 14.8% ABV
Sonoma County, CA
produced and bottled by Seghesio Family Vineyards (info sheet here PDF)
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store on 15 July

AltaVineyards_2010_NonnosRossoThis wine looked like an unusual offering from the GO, so I made a pricey indulgence. 🙂

On first pour, it tasted of roughly textured fruit, startlingly acid.  After about two hours (I think, I’m afraid I lost track this time) in a decanter, the fruit had smoothed out and darkened, but the acid was still on the strong side for contemporary CA winemaking, more like an Italian wine.  Very enticing nose of red / purple and black fruit. On the palate, tangy dark fruit of black raspberry / boysenberry and purple plum jam, allspice / black pepper, and wood / black earth / hint of tar, with a touch of hibiscus tea in the acid.  After about 2:40 in a decanter, the fruit becomes much softer and riper, with the acid becoming more integrated and less sharp.  IMO, this is very good wine for the price.

A couple days later, the saved single-glass, screwcap bottle still needed a bit of air for the acid to die down a little, but not all that long, and it’s not that bad a little on the acid side, too.  Unfortunately from my perspective, it never reached the soft, dark and rich state that the first portion of the bottle did.  Instead, it was always more medium purple and more acid.  So…  I’d guess you shouldn’t keep this wine that much longer.

Spellwine non-vintage “Spellonu” red blend

34% Merlot, 34% Syrah, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon; California; 14.8% ABV
Bottled and cellared by Spelletich Cellars
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 20 July

SpellWine_red_1After the Spelletich Pinot was pretty good, I thought I’d try their basic red blend for a change of pace.  Also, I was kind of stunned by the label. 🙂

The wine seemed promising but a little rough at first pour, and as usual, I liked it better after 30 minutes of air.  Fully aired after 60 minutes, it shows softer, ripe, California fruit of medium to darker red / purplish cherry with a hint of blueberry / blackberry, good balancing tangy acid, and complexities of raisin, wood, and earth.  This pleasant, easy-drinking red seems like a pretty good value.


SpellWine_red_2A few days later, the saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was only slightly less good.  It still needed a little air, and was then at least as good as the first night, but then became good but slightly more acid than I’d prefer.  Anyway, for a non-vintage red blend at a low price, it’s pretty good.

Schulz 2013 Albariño

Dragone Vineyard, close to Murphy’s, Calaveras County, CA; 13.4% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 18 July

Schulz_2013_AlbarinoThis bottle had a nice presentation and the color of the wine was lovely.  It is indeed very good.

The wine showed a delicate and complex nose with the same flavors on the palate: less ripe yellow melon / pear, lime / lemon, a little green melon, with a floral aspect, crisp acid, and a lot of slightly rough minerality,  None of my bottle survived to be tasted the next day.  I wouldn’t say this is a totally huge Thumbs Up, but it is a very nice wine for the money.

Graham Beck 2011 Rhona Muscadel sweet dessert wine

made from Muscat de Frontignan and named for the proprietor’s wife
produced and bottled by Graham Beck Wines, Robertson, South Africa; 16.5% ABV
$6 for 500ml at the Richmond, CA, store on 15 July.  We got only 12 bottles.

GrahamBeck_2011_RhonaMuscadelI was very excited when I saw these bottles, as it’s quite rare that the GO gets a dessert wine.  However, it’s not a typical dessert wine, in that it’s fermented on the skins for a while and then fortified (video).  While it’s not as exciting as its lovely appearance, it is a pretty tasty sweet wine for the price.

Like a couple ports I’ve reviewed here, this wine’s flavors (and acid) came out more after it had been open a few days.  (I took only small pours each day.)  Now, the wine shows flavors of golden grape / raisin, apricot, hints of orange peel, balancing acid, and an edge of caramel / roasted nut on the finish.  I couldn’t taste any Botrytis, but it bears enough of a resemblance to my memory of Tokaji to be entertaining.

Praxis 2013 Viognier

Sonoma County, CA; 14.1% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 8 July

Praxis_2013_ViognierAs usual, I was excited to see a Viognier arrive, and was, as ever, hopeful it would be good.  This one is not an exceptional example of the varietal, but it is a decently tasty Viognier for the price, made in a more reserved and structured style.

While I thought the wine showed a bit of yellow apple and lemon that reminded me more of Chardonnay, there is also a good bit of (what I think of as) more typical Viognier flavors: yellow peach / apricot, white peach / peach pit, with a bit of melon rind acid making it on the crisp side.  With more air and warmth (than fresh from the fridge), the fruit softens some to become more balanced, a really quite enjoyable wine for the price.  The next day it was much the same.

There have been a few wines lately, this one included, which I think are probably pretty good wines for the price, but just not that much to my liking.  In this style of crisp and structured wines that I wasn’t that into, we’ve had the Trivento “Amado Sur” Torrontés, the Errazuriz “Max Reserva” Sauvignon Blanc, and the Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône.  Certainly these wines have been popular enough at the Richmond store, with the exception so far of the CdR, which might be because it’s $7, slightly pricey for the GO.    So… has anyone out there been fans of these wines, who wants to tell me about them, to expand my horizons a little? 🙂

Spelletich 2012 Pinot Noir Reserve

Elkhorn Peak Vineyard, Napa Valley, CA; 14.0% ABV
$9 at the Richmond, CA, store on 15 July

Spelletich_2012_PinotNoirReserveThis bottle looked very interesting at first sight.  The wine inside the bottle is indeed excellent for the price.

The wine is pretty good after being decanted about an hour, but continues to improve.  At two hours, the wine shows a complex nose of dark red and black cherry, perhaps slight plum, orange peel, vanilla, and wood / spice.  There’s more of that on the palate, in very nice balance.  Despite the slight viscosity of the ripe fruit, the nearly-zingy raspberry acid on the finish helps the wine go well with food.

The next day, the saved single-glass, screwcap bottle was at first more dark and rich, but still basically the same.  However, it also became a little more acid, with the plum jam aspect becoming more like dried salt plum, but still very good.  While this wine is not at all over the hill, you probably shouldn’t wait another year to drink it, and there’s certainly no need to.

Les Dauphins 2013 Côtes du Rhône Reserve

Côtes du Rhône AOC, France; 12.5% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 14 July

LesDauphins_CotesDuRhoneAt first, this struck me as too acid for the ripeness of its fruit.  After some air, the fruit became a little more rich, but still with a good amount of acid and minerality.  Although the flavors were rather subdued, there were nicely complex: honeysuckle and peach of (apparently) Viognier, yellow grapefruit / lemon (Marsanne or Roussanne?), yellow melon (becoming very ripe or even slightly oxidized melon with more air), white pear.  For me, it’s not very “Ooh! Yummy!”, but nicely complex and structured.  I’m hoping it will be a bit more accessible tomorrow.

Unfortunately, no.  The next day, the rest in the bottle was quite similar to how it was on the first day.  It’s well made and all, but for me, not very pleasurable.  Those who like the more acid and bitter styles of European winemaking may like it.

Michel-Schlumberger 2012 Malbec

Sonoma County, CA, 14.4% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 1 July

MichelSchlumberger_2012_MalbecA number of wines from this producer have been popular here, so I thought I’d try this one.  I think it’s very good, too.

This wine was not bad from first pour, but not very interesting.  I thought it needed 2 – 2.5 hours in a decanter to become pleasurable.  Then, it showed richer, ripe fruit of dark cherry, boysenberry, and purple grape, with a tinge of roses / violets (especially in the acid), and a little spice.  The fruit darkened as the wine continued to air.

The next day, I liked the saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle better.  All the flavors were more forward and integrated, more obviously complex, and with more oily mouthfeel.  This is very good wine for $7.

Pata Negra 2013 Verdejo

Rueda DO, Spain; 12.5% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 4 July

PataNegra_2013_VerdejoI initially wanted to order this wine after having liked the Pata Negra 2005 Gran Reserva (Valdepeñas DO).  When it showed up, I thought its darker yellow color did not bode well.  However, after Seedboy wrote of it, “Delicious, full bodied, balanced white wine,” I got one to try.  In this case, I disagree with him.

I found the wine damaged by oxidation.  It tasted of over-ripe yellow apple / pineapple, with sort of sherry-like aftertaste.  I agree with “full-bodied,” but I think it’s not very well balanced.  The next day, it was still pretty much the same, so, whatever may have happened to it, it’s not on a fast downward slope.