2 Amigos 2012 Albariño

Rias Baixas DO, Spain; a Wine Wave selection
un-oaked; 13% ABV; screw cap
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 29 Jan

IMG_1392[1]After looking past this wine’s corny name and label, a recent-vintage Albariño from Rias Baixas DO, (northwest) Spain, in a screw capped bottle, seemed rather promising.  Indeed it was.

The wine tasted of floral, yellow citrus (lemon / yellow grapefruit) fruit and pith (to steal the term from Lim13), with some minerality, a good amount of acid and a little of Albariño’s characteristic bitterness.  It’s certainly tasty and easy to drink.  I would put it on the high end of “quaffer” and perhaps slightly higher.

The next day, the last bit in the bottle (re-capped, kept in the fridge) was less minerally, more forwardly fruity, still yummy.

Mezzacorona 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Dolimiti IGT, (north central) Italy; 13% ABV
$5 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 28 Jan

IMG_1388[1]This wine improves with an hour of air to show ripely sweet, moderately tangy, darker fruit of cherry, red plum, and medium ripe blackberry.  It’s smooth, fuller medium-bodied, and reasonably elegant, if a bit simple.  It’s certainly Drinkable for the price.  However, my personal gripe with it is that the fruit is rather candied and tastes of artificial vanilla in a way that is reminiscent of what I often dislike about American oak.  I did like it better than the Headstand Zin, but they strike me similarly.

Antaño 2010 Crianza

85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo (Carignan); 14% ABV
Rioja DOCa, Spain
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 29 Jan

IMG_1391[1]The Antaño 2009 Crianza (what is a Crianza?) was pretty good, if a little too old, so I thought I’d try this one, which probably wouldn’t be.  It wasn’t too old and if anything, might still be too young.

After a few hours in a decanter, the wine showed tangy, earthy, cherry, plum, less ripe boysenberry, and gentle wood.  However, it never seemed to really air and smooth out.  I left about a glass’ worth in the covered decanter overnight.  The next day, it was richer and more forward, but still didn’t seem to even out.  I suspect that, if I had used my usual method of saving wine (stoppered or screw-capped with very little air), the wine would have been pretty good the next day.  Did anyone have any better experiences with this wine?

Rio Seco 2011 Pinot Noir

Argentina; 13% ABV
$4 at the Oakland, CA, store on 20 Jan

IMG_1382[1]About his bottle of this wine, Lim13 wrote: Took my Rio Seco PN 1.5 liter to a Superbowl party on 2/1/15. We all thought it was varietal and pleasant enough, but on the light, thin side. Worked great for quaffing at a party, but no more for me.

I was pretty sure JWC had written something similar, but I couldn’t find it.  Anyway, I thought this wine had been a quite tasty Pinot Noir for the price, but was unfortunately slightly too old.

I decanted it off sediment that did not taste bad, but was a bit “muddy.”  The wine was okay at first pour, showing varietally true Pinot Noir of tangy darker red cherries and earthy pinot funk / aged complexity, in a lighter medium body.  However, I thought the fruit became sweeter and richer, with part of the cherry heading more toward plum, and the wine overall more elegant, after about 90 minutes in a decanter.  Part of the tangy flavor tended toward vinegar, but not strongly enough to stop us from enjoying it reasonably well.  If you’re not too sensitive to that flavor, this could be a reasonable buy for the price, but drink it up right away!  I’d be worried about getting a magnum of this if it weren’t for a large party.

A day or two later, however, the saved single-glass screw-cap bottle had that vinegary tangy-ness a bit over the top for me.  The wine was otherwise very tasty, but I couldn’t drink all that much or it.

2012 Alfredo Roca Mendoza Malbec-Merlot, Argentina $4.99

Silverdale, WA    12.9% alc.    (Purchased on 1/24/15)
60% Malbec 40% Merlot

IMG_1995Color & Clarity: Clear medium ruby color.

Aromas: Nose of dried cherries and some unidentifiable spice aromas.

Flavors: Some “sweet” cherry and berry fruit on entry, then, as the wine airs in the glass, it shows fairly tart acidity with flavors of pie cherry and understated leather.  To my taste, the wine declines rapidly once poured.

Texture: Soft at the front of the palate; rather light in texture with little tannin.

Likely a fairly decent food wine that tastes more Italian than Argentinian to me.  Old world style.  Appears to sell for around $10 at regular retail.  Lacks real character.  Not a repeat buy for me.

Hudson Shah 2011 Chardonnay

Rattlesnake Hills AVA, WA; 13.8% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 29 Jan

IMG_1390[1]After the Kennedy Shah 2007 Merlot was so good, I was eager to try this 2011 Chardonnay from the same producer.  The label, bottle, and price of this wine were also nice (although slightly oddly, there was no capsule over the top of the bottle), so I probably would have gotten one anyway.  This wine was nowhere near as exciting as the Merlot, but tolerably drinkable for the price.

The wine showed typical Chardonnay fruit of riper yellow and green apple, and lemon, in a clean, elegant taste, with tasty acid bordering on crisp.  It seemed like there was no oak.  However, to me at least, my bottle was marred by a slight sulfur / banana sort of flavor that never really aired out.  It’s not that strong, and may be entirely acceptable in a $4 wine that is otherwise quite nice.  We finished the bottle, so it wasn’t that bad.

Dr. Angove 2012 Red

50% Shiraz, 30% Grenache, 20% Petit Verdot; 14.5% ABV; screw cap
South Australia
$5 at the Oakland, CA, store

IMG_1385[1]I bought this wine on the strength of the Angove 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, its recent vintage, and the interesting blend.  It strikes me as pretty typically Australian and a tasty, easy-pairing wine for the money.

I opened this at lunch to go with pizza, immediately pouring out half of it in a 375ml bottle and stoppering it with very little air.  I thought it needed about an hour in the glass to soften and even out a bit.  Then, it showed ripe fruit of red / purple / black cherries, red / purple plum, and boysenberry, balanced by zingy acid, some bitterness of plum skin, and supporting wood.

At dinner, we drank the other half.  It still needed an hour of air, but was ultimately more smooth and sweet than at lunch.

Kennedy Shah 2007 Rattlesnake Hills Merlot

80% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot, 8% Malbec; 14.1% ABV
produced and bottled by Woodhouse Family Cellars, Woodinville, WA from vineyards in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA
$4 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 28 Jan

IMG_1387[1]Regular readers know I usually don’t go for Merlots, but this one was older, in a nice label and bottle, had two of the more unusual Bordeaux varietals blended in significant quantities, and came from a designated American Viticultural Area.  My hunch was correct; this wine is amazingly good for the price.

I first decanted the wine off a medium amount of sediment that had settled over a couple days.  The sediment didn’t taste bad, really, but the wine probably tastes “cleaner” without it.  At first pour, the wine is a little closed and astringent on the finish.  After an hour in a decanter, it had opened and integrated nicely.  To me, it tasted mostly of Petit Verdot, with ripe fruit of blueberry / blackcurrant and dark cherries.  Despite its age, the wine seemed quite solid and youthful, not showing much aged complexity.  The fruit is ripe enough, although not jammy, that I would have guessed its origin was California, not Washington.  Although it’s not tremendously complex, it’s certainly complex enough to be entertaining, and altogether a steal at this price.  (I couldn’t believe it was $4, but that’s what my notes say.)  None of it survived to be sampled the next day.

douROSA 2010 Douro Red

35% Touriga Nacional, 35% Touriga Franca, 30% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo); 13.5% ABV; screw cap
bottled by Quinta de la Rosa, Douro, Portugal
$5 at the Oakland, CA, store on 20 Jan

IMG_1384[1]Upon opening the bottle, I immediately poured off a single-glass screw capped bottle of this wine, with little air.  The rest of the bottle aired over a few hours.  Over that time, the wine added weight and darkened to give flavors of medium to darker purple plum, boysenberry, and mulberry, with some dark spice and earth.  However, it was always a bit reserved, and especially the finish seemed a bit bitter.  Overall, the wine was substantial enough, but not very charming.

However, the saved small bottle, with another hour or so of air, was delicious.  The wine became silky smooth, with ripe flavors of darker red cherry and rose, blueberry, darker purple plum, softer boysenberry / mulberry, with a moderately tannic finish.  It reminds me a good bit of the Aguia Moura in flavors, but this wine is younger and fresher, less thick and rich, and more delicate and aromatic.  I suspect this wine will be better with a couple more years of age.  If you drink it now, you may want to decant it, immediately pour it back in the bottle, stopper it, and drink it the next evening.

2011 Twin Forks Creekside Blend, Umpqua Valley Red Table Wine $4.99

Produced & Bottled by: Laurel Ridge Winery (as their secondary label)
ABV 12.1%
Purchased: Albany, OR GO 1-29-2015

FullSizeRenderI found no information about this blend online, so I called the Laurel Ridge Winery; spoke briefly with the winemaker (I believe he said his name was Matt) who told me that the wine was a 50/50 blend of Umpqua Valley Merlot and Umpqua Valley Syrah. Then he excused himself for a meeting and handed me over to the owner, Susan Teppola. She was very helpful and I think I will be visiting that winery on our next photo-blog tour.

In talking with Susan about their labels, she remarked that the Laurel Ridge label is offering the more traditional styles of wine while the Twin Forks label seeks to be trendier and edgy.

In the case of the 2011 Creekside Blend, Susan said “It is not a heavy wine. It’s very light, in the Beaujolais style.” She recommended pairing it with Pasta or Pizza.

Color: Transparent ruby red.
Nose: Berry with plum overtones
Taste: Salmonberries, fresh greens and a hint of earth. It reminds me of salmonberries because it’s a bit tart and dry (not-unpleasantly so) and the greens taste reminds of me when the grapes are allowed to spend some time with the stems.
Body: Definitely on the light side. I wouldn’t have guessed it was either Merlot or Syrah. This wine would be perfect chilled (and I never chill Syrah) on a hot summer day. The lower ABV% and crisp dryness would also lend itself to a hot day.

I appreciate the resilience of the Laurel Ridge Winery. They had a 240 acre farm that unfortunately had to be razed because of the Phylloxera , so right now they are making wines from grapes sourced elsewhere. They are in the process of re-planting though and hope to have 17 acres (14 producing) soon.

They do $5 tastings (your choice of 5 wines) and their tasting room is open every day of the year except for major holidays. Living here in the Willamette Valley, I can tell you that may be the most reasonable wine tasting fee I’ve ever come across. While this particular wine isn’t a style favorite of mine (I prefer heavier, more tannic, spicier wines, so I’m rating it a drinkable+ that others may find a thumbs up), it is a decent buy from GO if you prefer the Beaujolais style. I fully intend to further explore their options when I get a chance to get back up to Newberg.

Currently, the Albany GO has several cases of this particular wine. Thus far, I haven’t seen it elsewhere.