What to Look For In January

chateau-beauregard-ducasse-graves-rouge-2012In January, The International Wine of the Month Club offers four outstanding wines from two continents.  Produced from Bordeaux’s classic red wine varieties of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the 2012 Château Ducasse Graves delivers an exceptional glass of red Bordeaux from Bordeaux’s oldest and greatest wine-producing appellation.

The 2014 Château Chanteloiseau Cuvée Jean Jules Graves Blanc is a fine white wine from Graves.  As a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, this classic white Graves is blessed with beautiful citrus aromas and flavors, pinpoint minerality, and a refreshing finish.  It makes a wonderful aperitif and comports itself equally well at table with seafood, salads, pastas, and white meats.

From the golden hills of Amador County, the 2013 Terra d’Oro Amador County Zinfandel delights the nose and palate with juicy berry flavors, hints of bramble, spice, and wild herb.  This is a bold, beautiful red Zinfandel that combines rich flavors and fine-grained tannins.  As a classic, old-vine California Zinfandel from America’s own red grape varietal, this Terra d’Oro offering over-delivers in every way.

Wine lovers in search of hand-crafted Chardonnays are in for a treat with the 2014 Complicated Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.  Fashioned by two next-generation winemakers, Carlo Trinchero and Josh Phelps, from two of California’s iconic wine families, this seductive Chardonnay offers opulent fruit aromas and flavors that integrate deft touches of spice and French oak to provide one tasty, uncomplicated Chardonnay.

The International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors SeriesSilvio-Grasso-Barolo-2011 is proud to offer three special January features.  Our first January feature is the outstanding 2011 Silvio Grasso Barolo from one of Italy’s iconic producers.  Barolo, known as, “the king of wines, and the wine of kings,” ranks as one of Italy’s best red wines.  The 2011 Silvio Grasso Barolo offers up an amplifying bouquet of red fruits, plum, rose petal, and spice, while it delights the palate with supple, complex, and expansive flavors. This is a wine perfect for enjoying now or cellaring for a decade or more.

The 2013 Maison Gille Rully Premier Cru Rabourcé 2013 is this month’s Collectors Series special white wine.  It offers a radiant straw color and scents of acacia, privet, and orchard fruits before revealing pure Chardonnay fruit flavors in the mouth.  Born in the fashionable Rully appellation of Burgundy, this Premier Cru demonstrates why Burgundy is the spiritual home of Chardonnay and why Rabourcé’s special terroir merits Premier Cru status.

The 2009 Château Armandière Diamant Rouge Cahors Malbec is a rich, ripe, and sophisticated Malbec that delivers the boldness and intensity of the finest Argentinean Malbecs, along with the added complexity, refinement, and sophistication of the best French wines. The 2009 Diamant Rouge is a rare and highly allocated wine from Château Armandière, one of the greatest estates in Cahors, the original home of Malbec.

The Best Red Wines of Bordeaux

Cars_GirondeFor most red wine drinkers, Bordeaux aficionados included, the best red wines of Bordeaux are not, and will likely never be, the region’s illustrious First Growths, Grand Cru Classés, and other classified or press-deified garagiste wines of miniscule production. Many wine lovers know the best red wines of Bordeaux will be the finest red wines they can afford from the world’s most renowned wine region, but let’s face it: only a small handful of billionaires can afford to fork over thousands of dollars for a single bottle of a fine vintage of Château Margaux, Petrus, or Haut-Brion, and fewer still will wait until these sanctified reds are truly ready to be enjoyed to the fullest.  So, what can red Bordeaux lovers do to slake their thirst for fine red Bordeaux?

Bordeaux, France, is the largest fine wine producing region in the world – a viticultural paradise jam-packed with small, family-owned châteaux and affordable red wine treasures.  This is particularly true in excellent vintages produced in 2010 and 2012.  Consequently, some of Bordeaux’s best bargains and most pleasing, ready-to-drink red wines can be found among Bordeaux Petits Châteaux, many of which bear just a Bordeaux Supérieur classification.

These are not the “big” names of Bordeaux, nor are any of these châteaux’s wines household words. However, select Petits Châteaux, such as the 2010 Château Barreyre and 2010 Château Laronde Desormes, constitute some of the best bargains in all Bordeaux and are ready to enjoy now. These are tasty, beautiful reds that over-deliver in every way.

For even more bang for the buck, the elegant, silky smooth 2012 Château Saint André Corbin St. Georges St.Emilion is downright irresistible now and much more inviting than many of the wines from its St. Emilion neighbors, most of which cost two to three times the price.  Another tasty, affordable gem is the 2012 Château Ducasse Graves, a sophisticated red Bordeaux that demonstrates why Graves, the oldest wine-producing area in Bordeaux, continues to enjoy the favor of critics and consumers alike.

The keys to finding the best red Bordeaux are the track record of a given château and the quality of the vintage.  Presently, the 2010 and 2012 vintages are the ones to look for, while we await the best red Bordeaux wines from the outstanding 2014 and 2015 vintages.


What to Look For In December

Alejandro-Fernandez-El-Vinculo-2011In December, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers four outstanding wines from around the world.  Produced from 80-year-old vines by Alejandro Fernandez, Spain’s “King of Tempranillo,” the 2011 Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez El Vinculo exudes infectious charm, stunning aromatics, and plush juicy flavors.  Blackberry and currant scents and flavors mingle with hints of sandalwood, Asian spices, and smooth new oak to delight the nose and palate.

Another of this month’s special features is the 2014 Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer, which hails from South Africa’s Western Cape, an area regarded as the planet’s most spectacular wine country and the source of many of the greatest white and red blends.  The 2014 Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer is a unique, dry white blend of Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc that provides enormous drinking pleasure.  This is a complex dry white wine whose fragrant aroma alone is worth the price of admission.

The Laronde Desormes Bordeaux Supérieur winery fashions one of the finest and longest lived Bordeaux Petit Château wines.  This little gem of a property produces only a few thousand cases of Bordeaux wine each year from the estate’s 22 acres of vines.  Born in the sublime 2010 vintage, the 2010 Château Laronde Desormes is classic red Bordeaux from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot that over-delivers in every way.  Enjoy!

The 2014 Château Andrea Graves Blanc rounds out this month’s Premier Series wine selections.  Château Andréa is a superlative, well-situated property of less than 5 acres in the Graves appellation of Bordeaux, and its 2014 Château Andréa Graves Blanc is a compelling white wine.  Imbued with subtle floral, citrus, and ripe melon scents, along with polished fruit and mineral driven flavors, this wine delights the tongue and slips easily down the thirsty throat.  Add a long, truly dry, mineral-driven finish, and you’ll find a recipe for fine drinking pleasure.


valenciso-reserva-nvThe International Wine of the Month’s Collectors Series is proud to offer three special December features.  Our first December feature is the 2008 Valenciso Rioja Reserva, Decanter Magazine’s Wine of the Year and a wine to which Luis Gutierrez of Wine Advocate awarded 93 Points and succinctly described as, “… explosive, aromatic, perfumed Tempranillo that mixes the more common strawberries, raspberries, and cherries with unusual violet and subtle spices with plenty of nuances and changing details, elegant and complex, starting to develop tertiary characteristics.”  All we can add to this description are two words: taste it!

The 2013 Château Beauregard Ducasse Cuvée Albertine Peyri is another special wine that underscores the success of white Bordeaux in the 2013 vintage and especially classic white Graves.  Dry and rich in flavor, the 2013 Château Beauregard Ducasse Cuvée Albertine Peyri demonstrates the essence and charm of traditional white Graves, which are a blend of barrel-aged Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Rounding out this month’s Collectors Series is the 2012 Domaine Raspail-Ay Gigondas, a powerful Southern Rhône offering from Dominque Ay, who fashions wine ideal for a cold winter’s night.  No one consistently turns out better Gigondas than Dominique Ay, as the superb, full-bodied 2012 Raspail-Ay Gigondas attests.  Enjoy this outstanding Gigondas now and for another decade.


The Best Red Wines from Spain

TempranilloThe quintessential Tempranillo grape varietal figures prominently in the greatest red wines of Spain. Whether it is the iconic Vega Sicilia in Ribera del Duero, Valenciso in Rioja, or a bevy of extraordinary values from Castilla, Leon, Toro, La Mancha, and elsewhere in Spain, Tempranillo grapes reign supreme.

Tempranillo, a dark-skinned grape variety indigenous to Spain, is Spain’s noble red grape varietal.  It is grown throughout Spain, though it thrives in Ribera del Duero, Rioja, and in the interior of Spain, where the climate is continental rather than Mediterranean. The grape derives its name from the Spanish word temprano, meaning “early,” for its propensity to ripen earlier than other red grape varietals.  In some parts of Spain, and especially in Ribera del Duero, Tempranillo shines on its own as a varietal, while Rioja and other Spanish wine regions blend Garnacha, Mazuelo, or other grape varieties with a predominance of Tempranillo. Tempranillo yields a medium- to full-bodied wine, which benefits greatly from extended ageing in French and American oak barrels.

The list of incredible Tempranillo wines from Spain is nearly endless, yet no one consistently produces a better portfolio of estate grown and bottled Tempranillo wines than the legendary Alejandro Fernandez, the “King of Tempranillo.”  Fernandez fashions four outstanding Tempranillo wines at his four estates: Pesquera, Condado de Haza, Dehesa La Granja, and El Vinculo.  Pesquera and Condado de Haza bear the great Ribera del Duero DOC, while Dehesa La Granja hails from a prized property in Zamora along the Duero, a sprawling ranch which once served as Spain’s greatest bull raising ranch. El Vinculo hails from La Mancha, whose vines are over 80 years old.  For consumers searching for great Spanish red wines, they need look no further than Alejandro Fernandez’s four Tempranillo jewels.


What to Look For in November

antucura-calcura-2011In November, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series delivers four delicious and exciting wines to its members. The 2011 Antucura Calcura, a complex, robust Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec from Uco Valley, Argentina, leads the charge. The 2011 Antucura Calcura received 94 points from Patricio Tapia’s Descorchados, South America’s definitive wine guide. The 2011 Antucura Calcura certainly merits Tapia’s high score and should not to be missed.

The 2012 Mont Marçal Reserva Cava offers another treat. It is an aromatic, sensual sparkling wine that hails from one of Spain’s finest cava estates.

The 2013 Cambridge Cellars Elsbree Vineyard Russian River Zinfandel cuts another fine figure this month. It is a deeply colored, beautifully balanced Zin that is both rich in flavor and vibrant on the palate, which underscores why Zinfandel is America’s own special red grape varietal.

Last, but certainly not least, is the 2014 Tavignano Misco Verdicchio Classico Superiore from Italy’s majestic Adriatic Coast. Misco is a limited bottling of rich, highly aromatic Verdicchio, and is an ideal wine to sip and savor, or to pair with the freshest seafood one can find. Enjoy!

Jacques-Girardin-Santenay-Clos-Rousseau-Premier-Cru-2012The International Wine of the Month’s Collectors Series is proud to offer several very special wines from France and California. The 2012 Jacques Girardin Clos Rousseau Premier Cru Santenay is a sexy, seductive Pinot Noir from Burgundy that is nothing short of enthralling. It is an authentic, delicate red Burgundy with a knockout bouquet of rose petals, violets, and Asian spices, which flaunts its Premier Cru status.

Joseph Perrier’s Cuvée Royale Brut Champagne is another special wine from France that will head to our Collectors Series members. The non-vintage Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Brut is traditional, full-bodied Champagne that emanates from one of the last great family-owned-and-run Champagne houses. Simply exquisite!

Rounding out this month’s Collectors Series is the 2012 Walt Blue Jay Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, a full-bodied Pinot Noir that garnered a well-deserved 93 points from Wine Enthusiast. The 2012 Walt Blue Jay Pinot Noir is no shrinking violet. It comes packed with concentrated aromas and flavors of woodland blackberries, blueberries, lavender, cinnamon, nutmeg, and more. Enjoy this incredible Pinot now or sometime over the next 10 years.