What to Look For In November

casas-del-bosque-reserva-pinot-noir-2015-editedIn November, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers four exciting wines from around the world. The first is the 2015 Casas del Bosque Reserva Pinot Noir. For centuries France dominated the production of world-class Pinot Noir. Burgundy and Champagne were the only games in town until California and Oregon got in the act, followed by Tasmania and others. Now, it is Chile’s turn. Casas del Bosque has fashioned a riveting Pinot in their 2015 Casas del Bosque Reserva Pinot Noir from Casablanca Valley. Medium to full-bodied, this 2015 Pinot offers a savory nose along with plenty of juicy cherry and raspberry flavors, beautiful spice tones, fine texture, and ripe tannins. Youthful, exuberant and full of varietal flavor, it is easy to see why the 2015 Casas del Bosque Reserva Pinot Noir has received numerous 90+ ratings, including 92 Points from James Suckling.

Our next Premier Series feature is Krone’s 2015 Borealis Vintage Cuvée Brut. As a real star, this serious sparkling wine shines and sparkles with Champagne flavor and style. Not only is Krone’s Borealis Vintage Brut comprised of Champagne’s traditional cépage of Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%), whereby only free run juice makes it into the cuvée, the Borealis Vintage Cuvée is totally bottle-fermented Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) in the time-honored Champagne tradition of production. Elegant, flavorful, and delightful to the eye and palate, it is hard to imagine a finer, more affordable Champagne-style sparkling wine than the 2015 Borealis Vintage Cuvée Brut.

Next in this month’s quartet is the bold, beautiful 2013 Cambridge Cellars Elsbree Vineyard Russian River Zinfandel. Zinfandel is California’s own special variety and there is no better place to find exceptional Zinfandel than in California’s Russian River Valley. The 2013 Cambridge Cellars Elsbree Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel provides ample testimony to support that claim, as it is deeply colored, beautifully balanced, vibrant and rich in flavor. One hardly notices the wine’s 14.9% alcohol as it delivers up an enticing bouquet of blueberry and black currant fruit, warm spices and hints of black pepper. On the palate, the youthful Elsbree Vineyard Zinfandel exhibits more of its structure, but never loses its composure; this Zin strikes a fine balance between red and black fruits, spice and tannin in the mouth. Best of all, it unfolds quickly in the glass, becoming deeper and more authoritative with each sip.

Rounding out this month’s offerings is the 2015 Cantarutti Collio Orientali Ribolla Gialla. This rare varietal from Italy’s Collio Orientali offers a rich, eye-catching color and a harmonious aroma redolent with the scents of stone fruits and minerals along with hints of exotic spices. On the palate, the 2015 Cantarutti Ribolla Gialla reveals fine, textured fruit flavors, which provide a more luxurious feel than the more familiar Pinot Grigio and other lighter white wines from northern Italy. Medium-bodied and pleasantly dry, this wine lingers a bit on the palate and ends on a savory note. In typical Collio fashion, a glass of Cantarutti’s Ribolla Gialla invokes the beauty and sunshine of summer in Collio.

les-combes-d-arnevel-chateauneuf-du-pape-2012The International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors Series is pleased to offer three beautiful but uniquely different selections in November. The 2012 Combes d’Arnevel Châteauneuf-du-Pape begins this month’s odyssey, as it cuts a beautiful figure in the glass and captivates all of the senses. This is a smooth, savory Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Jerome Quiot who in the excellent 2012 vintage has taken full advantage of nature’s bounty. Savory scents of black cherry, spring flowers, and Provençal herbs dominate the wine’s enchanting bouquet, while hints of garrigue and wild herbs blend with the wine’s kirsch-like flavors in the mouth. Medium-bodied and impeccably balanced, the 2012 Les Combes D’Arnevel Châteauneuf-du-Pape happily harkens back to a more traditional style of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Our next November Collectors Series offering is the non-vintage Comte Audoin de Dampierre Grande Cuvée Brut, a serious, complex Champagne that offers a delicate and persistent mousse, exquisite texture, delicious fruit, and pinpoint minerality, all of which render Dampierre’s Grande Cuvée irresistibly delicious. Both zesty and compelling in aroma and flavor, the Dampierre Grande Cuvée is a wine that can be enjoyed at any time of day. Pour a glass of Dampierre’s Grande Cuvée, take a sip, and then allow this elixir to bloom in the glass like a flower unfolds on a warm spring day. No wonder this Champagne earns high marks everywhere it goes.

Rounding out or should we say filling out this month’s Collectors Series is the 2013 Shatter Côtes de Catalanes Grenache from the South of France. This bold red tops out at 15.6% alcohol, but one wouldn’t know it from tasting it… that is until one had consumed a good bit of it. Rich, robust, but smooth on the palate, the opaque, nearly black 2013 Shatter offers up an enticing aroma of dark cherries and ripe plums infused with a light, pleasant herbal quality. In the mouth, Shatter is unctuous, rich, and robust, as its opulent fruit appears front and center before being artfully framed by ripe tannins and just the right touch of oak. Layered, long and lingering on the palate, the 2013 Shatter Grenache is no wilting flower.

Salud!
Don

Bold Red Wines: What America Craves

bold-red-wineEveryday wine drinkers, collectors and self-styled connoisseurs alike all seem to crave bold red wines and gobble them up with glee. And why not? Flavor drives our palate preferences and the wines we buy. This is not to take anything away from a lighter, more delicate red wine such as a juicy Morgon Cru Beaujolais or a complex, racy California Pinot Noir. Every wine has a place and its own appeal. Yet, for many of us, there is something compelling about bold-flavored wines that fill the mouth and, on occasion at least, completely satiate the senses.

Bold red wines, like anything else, exist on a continuum. Consequently, what constitutes a bold red to one person may not please the palate of another. Certainly, the level of alcohol and the tannic structure of a wine contribute to the boldness of wines, but bold does not have to mean brawny or brazen. Bold flavors are born of esters, the combination of acids and alcohols, which impart aroma and flavor to wine. Enjoyable bold red wines provide much more than alcohol and tannins; they display rich, complex flavors, pronounced varietal character, and a sense of place, along with authority and structure. Although some bold red wines may register 14.5%-15% alcohol or more, many others will not; they will rely upon rich fruit flavors, pronounced ripe tannins, well-integrated oak tones from expert barrel ageing, physiological ripeness, and the deft hand of a skilled winemaker to engender their bold delicious flavors.

Full-bodied California Cabernets and Syrahs that brim with varietal character, single vineyard red Zinfandels, sublime Priorats, splendid Tempranillos from Spain’s Ribera del Duero, Châteauneuf-du-Papes and flavor-packed Grenache offerings from Languedoc and the Rhône Valley of France, and highly acclaimed Carmenères, Cabernets and Malbec blends from South America are just some red wines that may qualify as bold reds.

For bold, beautiful, long-lived California Cabernets of exceptional quality look to Caymus, Harlan, Lewis, Krug and Obsidian Ridge, with Obsidian Ridge a contender for the title of the greatest of all values in premium California Cabernet Sauvignon. Beckmen and Stoplman Vineyards fashion bold, hedonistic Syrahs from California’s Ballard Canyon, wines that easily match the quality of California’s top Cabernet Sauvignons. Tempranillo-based Bosconcillos, Condado de Haza, Emilio Moro and Pesquera from Ribera del Duero, and the deep, robust blends from Galena and Pasanau in Priorat also demonstrate Spain’s acumen in fashioning bold red wines. Château Beaucastel and Domaine Grand Tinel fashion equally impressive wines across the border in France from old vine Grenache, as do a host of Châteauneuf-du-Pape producers. And then there is Zinfandel from Cambridge Cellars, Martinelli and Tierra Y Mar, Carmenère from Casa Silva, Casas del Bosque and other Chilean producers, and many more bold reds from expert producers around the globe. Bold is indeed beautiful!

Salud!
Don

What to Look For In October

montana-rioja-crianza-2012In October, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers four superlative wines. The first is the 2012 Bodegas Montaña Rioja Crianza, a blend of 97% Tempranillo and 3% Graciano. Montaña’s 2012 Crianza could easily be mistaken for a Reserva. Having spent 12 months in seasoned French oak barrels (the minimum time in barrel for Rioja to qualify as Reserva), Montaña’s Crianza exudes the warmth and velvety characteristics of a traditional Rioja Reserva. Spice, new leather and deep blackberry fruit flavors permeate the nose before seeping deep into the marrow of this wine, only to re-emerge in full force on the palate.

Our next Premier Series feature is the 2015 Martinsancho Rueda Verdejo, another unequivocal success from iconic producer Angel Rodriguez. Farmed organically, the 2015 Martinsancho sports the wine’s usual sun-splashed robe and offers a light but amplifying bouquet of apricot, citrus, spring flowers, minerals, and liquid stones to tantalize the nose. The purity and sensual appeal of Martinsancho come through in the outstanding 2015 vintage, as it is not excessive alcohol or the overlay of oak that makes Martinsancho shine; it is the supreme freshness and natural taste of the 2015 Martinsancho that renders it irresistible.

Next in this month’s quartet is the richly colored 2014 Centonze Nero d’Avola, a wine that provides more than a mere glimpse of Sicily’s viticultural renaissance. A fleshy, full-bodied red wine with a hedonistic bent, this Sleeping Beauty of a wine appears light and sleek at first but quickly blossoms, revealing a deep, powerful mid-palate that is loaded with appealing spice and fruit flavors.

Rounding out this month’s offerings is the 2015 La Cappuccina Soave. Although Soave bears the distinction of being the largest DOC in Italy for the production of white wine, only several dozen Soave producers fashion wines of superior character and quality; La Cappuccina is unquestionably one of those elite. The 2015 La Cappuccina Soave bears the beautiful golden robe of the noble Garganega grape, an enticing aroma, and velvety fruit as well as crisp acidity. This is a white wine with a lithe, gentle spirit that makes the taster beg for more.

terrer-daubert-2012The International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors Series is proud to offer three more special wines in October. The 2012 Terrer d’Aubert Cabernet Sauvignon earned 92 points and a rave review from Wine Spectator, and for good reason. It offers a wonderful bouquet, redolent with the scents of woodland blackberry, cassis, and fennel, rich savory fruit flavors mingled with hints of chocolate, tobacco and complex earth tones alongside ripe toasty tannins. A combination of unique terroir, excellent winemaking and the munificence of an outstanding vintage render the 2012 Terrer d’Aubert a very special wine.

Our next October Collectors Series offering, the 2013 Luca G Lot Tupungato, is a barrel-fermented Burgundian style Chardonnay that hails from a deserted, rock strewn vineyard in the Gualtallary district, an isolated patch of vineyard at the very top of Mendoza’s Uco Valley. The bright straw-colored 2013 Luca G Lot Chardonnay offers a mesmerizing bouquet of freshly picked white peaches, tangerines and orange zest infused with deft touches of hazelnut and spice. On the palate, the wine’s entrancing olfactory continues to work its magic, offering a delightful mélange of succulent Chardonnay fruit as well as an intriguing cornucopia of mineral and nut flavors.

Garnering 92 points from Wine Spectator, the 2011 Losada Altos de Losada rounds out this month’s Collectors Series offerings. This outstanding Altos de Losada mirrors Losada’s 2009 Altos de Losada, which Wine Enthusiast named to their list of the year’s Top 100 Wines! It offers elegance and a depth of complexity rarely found in other Bierzo wines. Simply put, it’s hard to resist this lush hedonistic Mencia, which offers pure velvety fruit flavors, subtle minerality and spice, and ample structure in the form of fine-grained tannins to assure continued improvement for up to a decade or more.

Salud!
Don

The Best Spanish Wines: Rioja and More

Spain12x16_2In spite of the wealth and variety of Spanish wines that lap upon our shores, Rioja remains the name most familiar to Americans. Rioja is a traditional style of wine with longstanding brand recognition that consistently delivers affordable, quality wines in several styles, and its name is easy to pronounce. Names such as Montaña, Martinez Corta, and Valenciso, among others, not only flow easily across the tongue, they connote quality, style and value. Yet, Spain remains a treasure trove of exciting red and white wines from across the Iberian Peninsula that deserve the recognition that Rioja commands.

The refreshing, sprightly Verdejo from Rueda, a historic area south of Rioja, is only now catching on among wine drinkers. An indigenous Spanish white grape, Verdejo was resurrected from near extinction in the 1970s thanks to a couple of erudite wine growers, including Angel Rodriguez who created Martinsancho by grafting Verdejo cuttings from his 300 year old vineyard into a nearby vineyard, and sending those cuttings to nurseries throughout Europe. Pure, natural and unadulterated, Angel Rodriquez’s Martinsancho remains the quintessential Rueda Verdejo.

The full-bodied red wines of Ribera del Duero, Priorat, and Tarragona also deserve better recognition, especially among wine drinkers thirsting for bold red wines with robust frames. Condado de Haza and Pesquera from the flamboyant Alejandro Fernandez, as well as Dominio Basconcillos, Mauro, and the legendary but expensive Vega Sicilia offer unsurpassed quality from Ribera del Duero. Clos Galena and Pasanau from Priorat provide equally compelling bold reds at prices that won’t necessitate a second mortgage. The same can be said for Terrer d’Aubert, a boutique Tarragona winery that crafts exceptional full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha/Cabernet blends.

la-rioja-wine-region-by-alex-porta-i-tallant
La Rioja Wine Region

For elegant, somewhat lighter red wines we suggest looking to Spain’s Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra regions for Mencia – a grape that some have likened to Pinot Noir. Mencia from producers such as Altos de Losada and Peza do Rei fashion age worthy red wines that offer haunting aromatics and considerable complexity. Godello, another indigenous Spanish varietal, also hails from Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra where it yields very tasty white wines that are well worth seeking out.’

Salud!
Don

Photos Credit: WineFolly

What to Look For In September

the-auctor-red-blend-2014In September The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers four unique, highly acclaimed wines. To begin this month’s odyssey is the 2014 The Auctor, a Paso Robles red blend that offers a tasty take on two of the Southern Rhône’s most important grape varietals – Mourvèdre (62%) and Grenache (38%). Although The Auctor doesn’t quite act like a French wine, it exhibits some of the finest characteristics of Bandol, Provence’s greatest Mourvèdre based wine. Born almost exclusively in the ancient, weathered soils of Paso Robles, The Auctor draws much of its character from the area’s unique terroir. It exhibits a stunning bouquet of dark cherries, red berries, spice and violets, all of which follow through on the palate. Rich, ripe, and very comforting, The Auctor takes charge and is sure to delight.

Next in line is Lieb Cellars 2015 North Fork Reserve Pinot Blanc, from one of the nation’s smallest but most dynamic American Viticultural areas. Long Island’s North Fork is the warmest, sunniest part of New York State, and Lieb Cellars is one of the region’s stars. In Lieb’s most award-winning varietal, spring flowers, dried honey, green apple and pear flavors mingle with hints of lemongrass and lime zest to please the palate. And on the finish, this youthful 2015 Pinot Blanc practically explodes. Crisp and refreshing as the sea breeze that wafts from the nearby Long Island Sound, it is easy to understand why Lieb’s Reserve Pinot Blanc is Russell Hearn and Lieb Cellars’ Signature wine.

The 2014 Château de Pizay Morgon personifies the endearing side of cru Beaujolais, which is nothing like the oceans of “Nouveau” that inundate the market each fall. From the first draught, the 2014 Château de Pizay Morgon informs the nose that something wonderful is about to happen. Morgon is not a big brawny wine, but with just one sniff and a single sip, the 2014 Château de Pizay Morgon befriends the senses, confirming why Château de Pizay’s Morgon routinely receives 90 point ratings and high praise from critics and wine publications. Revel in this wine’s pretty crimson color, its scented, savory bouquet, and silky smooth flavors that provide a touch of hedonism in a glass.

The last leg of this month’s “relay” is the 2015 Dopff au Moulin Alsace Pinot Blanc, a wine that exudes charm, flavor, and a clean, creamy texture, which makes this wine both easy to drink and completely satisfying. Aromas of pear, apple, and freshly baked bread with a touch of spice delight the nose, while those same charming fruit flavors enjoin to a gentle minerality to grace the mouth and satisfy the palate. Enjoy!

Luca-Beso-de-Dante-Mendoza-NVThe International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors Series is proud to offer three exciting and highly allocated wines in September from three countries. We begin with Luca’s 2012 Beso de Dante (meaning Dante’s Kiss) from Laura Catena, scion of Argentina’s leading wine family. Named for Laura’s son, the highly allocated 2012 Luca Beso de Dante is a smooth, polished blend of Malbec (55%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (45%) from high altitude vineyards that outshines many a classified Bordeaux in both flavor and finesse. The 2012 Luca Beso de Dante offers a brilliant deep ruby color, explosive aromatics, and a mouthful of luscious flavors. Taste and see for yourself!

This month’s Collectors Series white wine is the 2014 Domaine Renaud Cuvée Vieilles Vignes Pouilly-Fuissé from 50-80 year old vines, a white Burgundy that epitomizes the elegance and charm for which Pouilly-Fuissé is renowned. Sporting an eye-catching, sun-splashed yellow robe, Reynaud’s Cuvée Vieilles Vignes Pouilly-Fuissé dazzles the eye even before it offers up its distinctive aroma of acacia flowers, ripe yellow peaches and plums, and pain grillé infused with clean refreshing mineral tones. On the palate, the wine’s ample fruit flavors and soft buttery notes are balanced by crisp citrus flavors and a gentle minerality, which linger lovingly in the mouth.

To round out this month’s Collectors Series is the 2012 Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero, the latest unequivocal success from Alejandro Fernandez and his incomparable 500-acre Condado de Haza. The deeply saturated 2012 Condado de Haza reflects the bold and brilliant winemaking style of Alejandro Fernandez, Spain’s “King of Temrpranillo.” Not only is this Tempranillo deeply colored, it exhibits an amplifying nose of crushed blackberry, plum, bramble, currant, cedar, and more. It, also, possesses a rich, savory feel in the mouth to buoy its considerable structure and ripe tannins. Firm, full-bodied, and full of flavor the 2012 Condado de Haza sets a benchmark for Tempranillo and the esteemed Ribera del Duero appellation. Enjoy!

Salud!
Don