What to Look For In June

Valle Secreto First Edition Carmenere 2013In June, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers four enjoyable, highly acclaimed wines.  Valle Secreto’s sophisticated 2013 First Edition Valle de Cachapoal Carmenère leads the way.  The wine’s charming, extroverted personality and amplifying black fruit aromas bound from the glass.  To complement its seductive aroma, the 2013 Valle Secreto First Edition Carmenère follows up with smooth, rich palate appeal.

Standing alongside First Edition are two superb wines from Casas del Bosque: the 2015 Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc Reserva and the 2014 Casas del Bosque Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, both world class offerings from International Wine and Spirits’ Chilean Winery of the Year.

Completing this month’s Premier Series is the outstanding 2014 Domaine Gilles Noblet Mâcon-Fuissé, a classic Mâcon Chardonnay with a savory bouquet of acacia flowers and apple blossoms and plenty of pure fruit flavors that please the palate.  Enjoy!

Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2012The International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors Series is proud to offer three exceptional wines in June.  The 2012 Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano begins this month’s wine odyssey.  The 2012 Dei Vino Nobile carries the deep, telltale color of Vino Nobile’s Prugnolo Gentile grape and offers a beguiling aroma of red and black fruits infused with hints of rose petal and violet.  On the palate, this elegant wine comes across as seamless, with well-integrated fruit, purity of flavor, superb texture, and supreme balance, all of which account for the numerous 90+ point ratings the 2012 Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has received.

Paired with Caterina Dei and Nicolò d’Aflitto’s benchmark Vino Nobile is the 2015 Casas del Bosque Pequeñas Producciones Sauvignon Blanc or the 2014 Casas del Bosque Pequeñas Producciones Syrah.  Both wines are extremely limited productions of the finest wines from Casas del Bosque, the multi-year recipient of the International Wine and Spirit’s award for Chilean Winery of the Year.  The 2015 Casas del Bosque Pequeñas Producciones Sauvignon Blanc provides more than a match for France’s finest Sancerre, the benchmark for 100% Sauvignon Blanc wines around the world.

From the moment it is poured, Casas del Bosque’s tiny-production Sauvignon Blanc offers broad, delicious, seamless draughts that are wrought with flavor and finesse.  Endowed with supreme balance, texture and vivacity, the 2015 Pequeñas Producciones Sauvignon Blanc offers a mélange of herbal fruit, white peach, melon, and Meyer lemon flavors, along with an explosive finish.  The 2014 Casas del Bosque Pequeñas Producciones Syrah is equally impressive, offering a rich aroma of crushed strawberry, bramble, and violet.  In the mouth, polished black fruits, spicy cinnamon notes, and hints of cedar, cherry, and white pepper delight the palate, while well-integrated oak tones backed by abundant, round tannins add backbone and superb length to this quintessential Syrah.  Enjoy!

Salud!
Don

Carmenère: The Best Red Wine for Under $25.00

Carmenere GrapesAlthough one person’s passion may indeed be another’s poison, few red wine lovers today would refute that Carmenère, Chile’s emblematic red grape variety, almost always over-delivers in every sense.  A good Carmenère (and many fine examples abound) not only offers amplifying aromatics and tremendous flavor, its ripe, fine-grained tannic structure allows for early consumption, yet Carmenère is a wine that can age gracefully for 5-7 years or more.  Carmenère’s vibrant purple color with flashes of rich ruby captivates the eye, while the wine’s aroma evokes a whole set of savory aromas from deep woodsy scents and wild blackberry to dark chocolate and roasted coffee tones. Authentic Carmenère never lacks for flavor, which makes it the ideal accompaniment to an enormous variety of foods and cuisines, such as grilled barbecued chicken, flank steak, and zucchini parmigiana.

I love everything about a good Carmenère, not the least of which is that I don’t have to take out a bank loan or tap my line of credit to enjoy one.  When made from physiologically ripe grapes, it rarely fails to provide a rich and rewarding experience.  It drinks well young, needs very little breathing time, and consistently delivers more flavors for the money than almost any other grape varietal.  The best examples are great on their own and are equally compelling in the company of simple dishes as well as grand cuisine.

Alas, all Carmenères are not created equal, as one can find underperformers in every wine category.  Nonetheless, the following producers can be counted on to furnish consistently fine Carmenères that offer pleasure: Carmen, Casa Silva, Casas del Bosque, and Valle Secreto are certainly four of the finest producers of Carmenère.  Carmen re-discovered Carmenère and pioneered organic viticulture in Chile with the varietal, while Casa Silva’s oenologist, Mario Geise, has been dubbed the King of Carmenère for his outstanding work with Carmenère and bringing Chile’s Colchagua Valley to the forefront of viticultural excellence.

Meanwhile, Casas del Bosque holds the distinction of being named Chilean Winery of the Year at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London for two years in a row (2013 and 2014), while Valle Secreto’s very limited production First Edition Carmenère has upped the ante on this varietal by adding another layer of richness and sophistication to Chile’s special grape.  For between $15 and $25 a bottle, one can enjoy great Carmenère.  Few other varietals could consistently entertain that claim.

Salud!
Don

What to Look For In May

rocks-by-cornerstone-california-red-wine-2013In May, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers four exceptional and unique wines with a delicious California blend leading the way. From one of Napa Valley’s great Cabernet producers comes Cornerstone’s 2013 California Rocks! Red, a bodacious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Syrah, which offers a deep purple potion of smooth rich fruit and a velvety elegance. Add a heady bouquet of cassis and currant fruit, along with a toasty patina born of oak barrel ageing, and you’ll wonder why more California producers aren’t more daring.

Our next Premier Series feature is the 2015 Montinore Willamette Family Pinot Gris. The 2015 Montinore Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Gris offers dynamic aromatics, pure fruit flavors, and supreme balance that reflect the organic, biodynamic methods employed at this exemplary estate. Citrus and stone fruit aromas waft from the glass the moment Montinore’s Pinot Gris is poured. On the palate, the wine’s crystalline aromas become infused with tropical fruit notes and become enveloped by crisp acidity, lending lift and dynamism to the wine’s long, lingering, and refreshing finish.

Next in this month’s quartet is the 2006 Core Ground Around, an artful blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Tempranillo that has matured to perfection. Core’s Ground Around offers an amplifying aroma of blackberry, cranberry, dried cherries, baking spices, fennel, and dried herbs.  In the mouth, complex fruit flavors infused with eucalyptus, dark chocolate, and expresso tones dominate the flavor profile and gratify the thirsty palate.

Rounding out this month’s offerings is the 2014 La Vis Simboli Trentino Chardonnay, a wine that sparkles in the glass, offering a glint of sunshine and a bright, sunny color. Lovely aromas of spring flowers, ripe mountain apples, pears, pineapple, and quince delight the nose. Fresh and lively in the mouth, the medium-bodied 2014 La Vis Chardonnay offers pure fruit flavors and a gentle minerality, much like its French counterparts from the Maconnais in southern Burgundy. There’s no smoke or mirrors in this wine; only unadulterated Chardonnay fruit and the distinct minerality of Italy’s Trentino to delight the senses.

fore-family-vineyards-carneros-napa-valley-pinot-noir-2010The International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors Series is proud to offer three more superb wines in May. The 2010 Fore Family Carneros Napa Pinot Noir leads the way. This hand-crafted Fore Family Pinot Noir offers superb balance, an entrancing bouquet of Morello cherries, freshly picked strawberries, cinnamon, and assorted baking spices, along with a deep, youthful color, plenty of stuffing, and an array of palate pleasing flavors. Draughts of red and black fruits, rose petals, and Asian spices fill the mouth, while ripe tannins add definition and structure to frame this pretty Pinot’s mid palate.

In our next May Collectors Series offering, the highly allocated 2014 Domaine Gilles Noblet Pouilly-Fuissé demonstrates how low yields and a strict selection process yield superior concentration. Gilles Noblet’s Pouilly-Fuissé offers all one can ask for in a Pouilly-Fuissé, including a bright, sunny color and Noblet’s signature aromatic profile – an intriguing cornucopia of acacia blossoms, mountain apples, and soft mineral tones. Add an elegant, seductive mid palate in a slightly larger than normal format and you have one fine Pouilly-Fuissé.

The medium to full-bodied 2006 Kuyam Cuvee Nolan rounds out this month’s Collectors Series offerings. The 2006 Kuyam Cuvee Nolan, a mere 270 case production, is a blend of five red Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec, all from Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, that drinks like first class Bordeaux. This mature Meritage offers a beautiful purple robe, a complex bouquet of forest blackberries, cassis, boxwood, and unsmoked tobacco, along with plenty of palate-pleasing flavors. Cheers!

Salud!
Don

Pinot Noir: The World’s Most Expensive Wine Need Not Break the Bank

pinot-noir-grapePinot Noir grapes are, without a doubt, one of the world’s most expensive grapes to grow, as well as one of the most difficult grapes to cultivate. Like an orchid, it requires constancy, just the right soil with a precise environment to thrive, and temperatures that are neither too cool nor too warm. More often than not, the temperamental Pinot Noir grape acts as a jealous and demanding lover. However, when the stars align, the terroir is ideal, and the winemaker possesses enough knowledge of the finicky, thin-skinned Pinot Noir grape to know when less is more in the winemaking process, Pinot Noir becomes transfigured and the wine it yields shines with a luster like no other.

Adored by connoisseurs and idolized by collectors and critics, Pinot Noir enjoys worldwide appeal. Pinot Noir’s ancestral home is France, where it is responsible for all of the great red wines of Burgundy, including Chambertin, Clos de Vougeot, and Romanée Conti – the latter being the world’s most expensive wine. For centuries, French Burgundy enjoyed the reputation as the only great Pinot Noir. However, in the past forty years, California’s Carneros, Monterey, Russian River, Santa Barbara, and Santa Lucia Highlands appellations have lured Pinot Noir lovers by fashioning world-class Pinot Noirs. Oregon’s Willamette Valley, New Zealand’s Central Otago, and most recently Chile’s cool Casablanca Valley also rank as meccas for the mercurial Pinot Noir.

Although fine Pinot Noir will never be cheap, it need not break the bank. Some exceptional affordable French Burgundies still exist, including the 2012 Domaine Jacques Girardin Clos Rousseau Premier Cru Santenay, and the 2010 and 2012 Jacques Girardin Les Feuillets Premier Cru Savigny-les-Beaune. From California, Fore Family Vineyards’ 2009 and 2010 Carneros Napa Pinot Noirs truly outperform the pack by delivering complex, age-worthy Pinot Noirs that keep on giving. Benovia, Freeman, Molnar, Paraiso, and Walt are other outstanding boutique California producers of world-class Pinot Noir, but whose wines cost a fraction of most Premier and Grand Cru French Burgundies.

bethel-heights-aeolian-pinot-noir-2012-bottleWalt’s La Brisa and Blue Jay offerings are especially worth seeking out. Oregon’s Willamette Valley holds another treasure trove of outstanding Pinot Noirs. Bethel Heights 2012 Aeolian Estate Eola Amity Hills Pinot Noir is just the most recent success from this pioneering Willamette Valley family estate. And from lands “down under,” few can match Josef Chromy in Tasmania or Rockburn in New Zealand’s Central Otago in fashioning outstanding Pinot Noir. Enjoy!

Salud!
Don

What to Look For In April

cepas-antiguas-rioja-2014In April, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers four special wines.  To begin the parade is Bodegas Martinez Corta’s 2014 Cepas Antiguas Selección Privada Rioja, a wine that constitutes one of the best values in Rioja wine.  This Cepas Antiguas spent just enough time in new French oak barrels, which imbue it with everything it needs to please and succeed in life, including a bright ruby robe, a soft, seductive aroma of blueberry, red cherry, and plum mingled with hints of cinnamon, clove, and vanilla, as well as wonderful flavor and texture.

Our next Premier Series feature is the 2014 Tamellini Soave DOC.  Year after year, Tamellini Soaves consistently impresses critics and consumers alike, as the many 90+ point scores for Tamellini Soaves readily attest.  However, no Tamellini Soave DOC to date outshines the quality and purity of the 2014 Tamellini Soave DOC.

Next in this month’s quartet is the 2011 Santa Lucia Castel del Monte Nero di Troia, a soft, rich, velvety wine with plenty of flesh and backbone.  As a quintessential southern Italian red from one of the region’s indigenous varietals, it offers an eye-popping, deep purple color, a heady aroma, and a big mouthful of wine.

Last, but certainly not least, is a first time offering from Camille Braun.  Thanks to the natural, biodynamic viticultural practices at the estate, the 2014 Camille Braun Cuvée Marguerite-Anne Pinot Blanc offers a delightfully fruity, crisp, delicate glass of Pinot Blanc with superb definition.  Light and ethereal in bouquet and supple and supremely clean on the palate, Camille Braun’s 2014 Pinot Blanc stands out for its pinpoint precision and clean energizing flavors.

beckmen-vineyards-pmv-ballard-canyon-syrah-2013The International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors Series is proud to offer three more superb wines in April.  Our first April feature is the outstanding 2013 Beckmen Vineyards Purisima Mountain Vineyard Ballard Canyon Syrah, a wine that recently received 93 points from Wine Spectator.  This Syrah catches the eye and captivates the senses from the moment it is poured.  Beguiling scents of blackberry, kirsch, violet, and sizzling bacon pour from the glass.  In the mouth, this dense, beautifully endowed Syrah offers massive appeal in the form of rich berry fruits, plum, dark chocolate, wood smoke, and pepper, all wrapped in polished, tightly-wound tannins.  From its savory bouquet to its authoritative finish, the 2013 Beckmen Vineyards Purisima Mountain Vineyard Ballard Canyon Syrah embodies the essence of great Syrah.

In our next April Collectors Series offering, Clelia Romano clearly demonstrates why her 2014 Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino is the premier Fiano and the benchmark by which other premium southern Italian white wines have come to be measured.  Brilliant and sparkling in the glass, the 2014 Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino offers up an enticing array of aromas and flavors: spring flowers, stone fruits, and incense all make their appearance and exude a seductive energy with pinpoint precision, refreshing acidity, and gentle minerality.

The 2012 Bethel Heights Aeolian Estate Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir rounds out this month’s Collectors Series offerings.  For nearly four decades, Bethel Heights has produced many of Willamette Valley’s most compelling, estate-grown Pinot Noirs.  In fine vintages and fair, Bethel Heights has fashioned top notch Pinot Noir.  In the blessed, highly favored 2012 vintage, Bethel Heights has produced a truly exceptional Aeolian Estate Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir.  Consummate winemaking skills, great terroir, and exceptional weather conditions in 2012 have resulted in an outstanding 2012 Bethel Heights Aeolian Estate Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir.

Salud!
Don