Re Midas 2012 Soave DOC

Soave DOC, Italy
100% Garganega; 12% ABV; screw cap
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 4 May

ReMidas_2012_SoaveI’ve previously enjoyed a number of GO wines made partly or entirely from the Garganega grape, so, since this wine boasted about its composition on the back label, I picked it up.  I’ve liked others better, but for this price, I think this wine is quite good.

In a gently textured medium body, the wine shows solid flavors of floral apple / lemon / pear, with a nicely minerally structure, pleasant acid, and a little supporting wood / roasted almond.

The next day, the rest left in the bottle was more forwardly fruity, maybe with more yellow grapefruit, and less minerally.  Still yummy.

Benessere 2011 Zinfandel “Black Glass Estate Vineyard”

Napa Valley, CA; 14.1% ABV
$8 at the Richmond, CA store on 4 May

Benessere_2011_ZinBlackGlassAfter I rather disliked the Benessere 2010 Sangiovese (though many liked the 2009), I wasn’t going to touch this wine.  But the store manager thought I should try it, and gave me this bottle. To my surprise, I loved it, but I had to be patient.

When I first opened it, it showed a good bit of the character that I have been thinking is American Oak (but might well not be) — artificial vanilla and rhubarb candy — but it seemed to fit better with the tangy raspberry fruit of Zinfandel than it had with the Sangiovese.  The wine at first seemed to have only simple red fruit, but over time in a decanter, it slowly darkened and filled out.  It wasn’t until it had aired 3 – 3.5 hours that I thought it really showed its stuff: ripe dark blackberry, purple / black grape, with complexities of black and red raspberries and cherries, set off by somewhat zingy acid.  The slightly syrupy candy-like style is not typical of the Sonoma Zins I have liked best in the past, but I can accept it as more Napa-like.

The next day, the saved single-glass screw-cap bottle behaved similarly, still needing 3 – 3.5 hours in the glass to fully air.  The flavors were more soft and plummy, but otherwise very similar.  IMO, this is quite a good wine for the price, but you will need to let it air or age a while to get the most out of it.

Señorio de Sotillo 2010 red

100% Tempranillo; 13.5% ABV
Ribera del Duero DO, Spain
$3 at the Richmond, CA store on 27 April

SeniorioDeSotillo_2010_TemprI’d seen this on a previous trip to the Richmond store, but other wines seemed more interesting at the time.  However, this is at least as good a wine than most that had seemed more interesting.

On the first night, after a much-needed 75 – 90 minutes in a decanter, it was delicious, with ripe, fruity flavors of medium dark blackberry and plum / cherry, with a nice woody, earthy complexity.  The body was on the fuller end of medium, with  a slightly syrupy texture.  I would say it’s very nearly a New World wine.  After that, I was expecting to give this wine a huge Thumbs Up.

However, on the second night, the saved single-glass bottle was a bit rough and sulfurous.  After some more air, it was okay to drink, but was nowhere near as yummy as it was on the first night.  Don’t wait to drink it.  So, if you have time to let it air and you’ll then drink it all in one evening, this is a great deal.  Otherwise, not so much.

Leva 2010 Chardonnay – Dimiat – Muscat “Winemaker’s Selection”

50% Chardonnay, 30% Dimiat, 20% Muscat; 13.0% ABV
“Regional white wine from the Thracian Valley”
produced and bottled in Bulgaria by Vinex Slavyantsi
imported by Texavino LLC, Wilmington, DE
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 15 April

Leva_2010_WhiteI am pretty sure I’ve never had a Bulgarian wine before, and I had never heard of the Dimiat (димят) grape.  I was a bit wary, but the possibilities of wines like this are, for me at least, a lot of my enthusiasm for shopping at the GO.  While this wine was rather different from any I can recall, I thought it was delicious!

On the nose, I smelled mostly the perfumed, floral aromatics of Muscat, with some yellow and white fruit.  On the palate, this totally dry wine showed full but delicately balanced flavors of light yellow apple / melon and white pear, with juicy acid of yellow lime / grapefruit and white nectarine.  I couldn’t detect any wood.  This could pair with white fish or fresh cheeses, but is delightful on its own.

The next day, the wine was more forwardly fruity, adding a little more bitterness of grape skin, but still delicious.

Rowland’s Brook Shiraz/Cabernet South Eastern Australia 2014 $3.99

Produced & Bottled by Wine Tiger 97
ABV 13.5%
Purchased: Corvallis OR GO 4-16-2015

IMG_144156% Shiraz, 44% Cabernet. Couldn’t find anything online about this wine’s origin other than it is imported by TWE Imports, Napa, CA. However, for $3.99 I thought it was worth sampling.

Color: Dark Burgundy
Fragrance: Black currant, spices. Very fruity and slightly exotic (likely due to the spices).
Body: medium…as would be expected in a blend between a Cabernet and a Shiraz.
Taste: Very fruity/jammy (and I’m one that doesn’t mind a bit of jam). So right up front, if you don’t like jammy wines, this isn’t for you. Black currant is at the fore, with a bit of cocoa & plum supporting it…balanced by baking spices (not pepper…it’s much more of a dessert type of spice combo). Moderately high alcohol heat for 13.5% IMO.  Not sweet but as I mentioned before, very fruit forward.

We liked it. It’s not an elite wine, but I could easily see it balancing summer BBQ’s. The Shiraz lightens the weight enough to make it a moderate evening BBQ red. For $3.99 (SRV is $10) it’s a decent buy. Not outstanding but I’d buy it again for an “every-day” style wine.

Grifoll Declara 2011 “Predicat”

30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 35% Samsó (Carignan), 15% Merlot; 14.5% ABV
Priorat DOQ, Spain
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 15 April

GrifollDeclara_2011_PredicatThis wine, with its Priorat origin, interesting blend, and saturated color through the bottle, looked quite promising.  It was mostly good, but also a bit weird.

The wine had tasty, dark, tangy fruit of blackberry / boysenberry, plum, and blueberry / mulberry that was elegantly complex, but also with a strange character I can’t quite put my finger on.  It’s sort of a combination of artificial candy / cough syrup plus brown / black rubber.  Despite those unpleasant-sounding descriptions, it actually wasn’t terrible to drink, especially as it aired over a few hours, even if it didn’t really taste like what I think wine should taste like.

The second half, stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air, was better.  The strange aspects were more subdued and integrated and, if I just took it as a tasty beverage, and didn’t think about it too much, it was fine.

2012 Twin Palms Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay Single Vineyard $4.99

Produced & bottled by Twin Palms Vineyard
ABV 13.5%
Purchased: Corvallis OR, GO 4-16-2015

FullSizeRenderIt’s interesting. I clicked on this morning to add my review of this wine and saw Flitcraft’s comment: “I’ll be interested in your review for the Twin Palms Chardonnay. We thought it pretty restrained by Napa Chardonnay standards. It definitely has some oak, but in good balance with the fruit. It’s not sweet or vanilla-y, and was actually food friendly. We don’t drink much Chardonnay, but ended up picking up several bottles at that price.”

By its taste, I would have wondered if this was actually an oaked Chardonnay. (The Twin Palms blurb says “the wine is aged in a combination of new, one year old and two-year old French oak barrels for approximately 12 months”.) The taste does hint at it, but it is delicately enhancing, not intrusive at all. I sincerely hope the store has more. It reminds me of an Atlas Peak Chard I had a while back…very citrusy without the acid, lighter in body and a bit crisp (and @ $4.99, much less expensive). It is still selling at the vineyard for $25/bottle.

Color: Lemon straw
Body: Light (more like an Italian Pinot Grigio than a Chardonnay)
Fragrance: citrus fruit, honeysuckle
Taste: Tropical, citrus, crisp, just off dry IMO

We also only have Chardonnay on occasion and I was expecting traditional fare with this one. It’s not…and it’s good. At least, it suits my taste profile; I enjoy crisp non-acidic whites. I agree that it would be very food friendly. I’d add that it drinks well on its own and would be a good “summer heat” style Chardonnay…not at all cloying or sweet, just refreshing.

One last thing, I did not notice the “smoke” or “bread dough” that Twin Palms mentions in their description.

Echeverria 2011 Unwooded Chardonnay “Classic Collection”

Curico Valley, Chile; 13% ABV
$3 at the Oakland, CA, store on 31 March

Echeverria_2011_UnwdChardThis wine, the last of my Echeverria purchases, shows typical Chardonnay flavors of slightly floral, riper yellow apple and lemon in a pleasant taste, with a touch of something that might be a little too much sulfur.  Still, for this low price, it is eminently quaffable, having held up well over three days.

Echeverria 2011 Carmenere “Classic Collection”

Curico Valley, Chile; 13.5% ABV
$3 at the Richmond, CA, store on 1 April

Echeverria_2011_CarmenereOn the last day of the sale (for those stores open on Easter), EHL commented on this wine:

Upon opening, the wine was a brilliant dark ruby-purple color, with a muted nose that didn’t open for about an hour, whereupon it revealed notes of blackberry, black cherry, tar, leather and espresso in both aroma and flavor.

There was also a vegetal element, that distinctly reminded me of the RLT Cabs. In fact, this wine really tastes remarkably similar to the those smooth and memorable South African Cabs.

I very much enjoyed this medium/full-bodied wine, that was nicely balanced with fruit, acid and tannins working in harmony, providing an inviting sweet and savory contrast. As to the finish, it was lingering and marked by a peppery, spicy aftertaste.

For the price of “Two-Buck Chuck,” you can get this substantive wine which received a “Silver Medal and Best Buy” designation from the Beverage Tasting Institute. While not a stunner, the ’11 Echeverria Carmenere delivers a lot of punch for the pennies and is perfect for a daily quaffer.

I picked up a case… and there are still about 10 cases left, which even post-sale presents quite the bargain!

I agree!  I finally got to my bottle, probably too late for me to go back and get more, sale or not.  My notes were: Full-bodied, darker boysenberry / blackberry, plum, darker red cherries, green bell pepper, a little tar / black pepper and caramelly earth.  Slightly rough straight out of the decanter, but smooths out very nicely in the glass.  Very nice now, after about 75 minutes in a decanter, but should hold on fine for the next year or two.

The saved half bottle (stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air) was, if anything, better.  It still needed about 45 minutes in the glass, but then was darker and richer than on the first night.

Harding Estate 2012 Napa Valley Pinot Noir $8.99

Produced & Bottled by: Harding Estates, Healdsburg, CA
ABV 14.5%
Purchased: Corvallis OR GO 4-16-2015

FullSizeRender 2I looked online for this wine, and after two re-directs to another Napa Valley Pinot noir, gave up. The website on the bottle is: but this wine isn’t listed there.

To me, this is a typical, fruit forward, alcohol heavy, California Pinot Noir.

Is that bad? No, not if you like that style. I don’t mind it on occasion.

Color: Ruby red
Fragrance: Black cherry jam, plum
Taste: Very fruit forward (plum, black cherry), somewhat jammy without having a super heavy body; there is a bit of dryness (possibly caused by the high alcohol content) which balances out the jammy fruit, a bit. You definitely taste the “alcohol heat”.

Not a very dimensional wine IMO and rather high-priced for a GO offering. On the other hand, it’s easily drinkable. Not offensive…not too jammy, yes fruity but not too sweet; sweeter than my normal favorites though. No bell pepper (bonus). No earth, tobacco or leather either…I was hoping for at least one of the last three to balance out the fruit.

It has got a heavier body than its Oregon counterparts, but not as heavy (and definitely not glycerin-like) as that Steamboat Pinot Noir that came through last year however its high alcohol content and jammy-ness reminded me of it a bit.

If you are looking for nuances, this probably isn’t your wine. If you are looking for an easy quaff for bbq pairing, give it a go.