What to Look For In August

paraisoIn August The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers exceptional wines from three continents. The 2010 Paraiso Vineyards West Terrace Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir leads the way. This is a fleshy, full-bodied Pinot Noir with excellent ageing potential. The cool, extended 2010 vintage in the Santa Lucia Highlands rendered the 2010 Paraiso Vineyards West Terrace Pinot Noir especially fine, highly aromatic and packed with flavor. It also imparted an elegance and suavity typically reserved for fine red Burgundy. Rich in color and extroverted in personality, the 2010 Paraiso Vineyards West Terrace offers deep berry flavors along with complex floral and spice tones that made our tasting panel members beg for more.

Grown in one of the highest vineyards on earth at an altitude of 6,320 feet, the 2015 Mayu Valle de Elqui Huanta Vineyard Pedro Ximénez offers an intriguing mineral-driven aroma and an abundance of citrus and orchard fruit flavors to please both the nose and the palate, and at the same time slake the thirst. The 2015 Mayu Valle de Elqui Pedro Ximénez possesses crisp acidity and laser-like precision to accompany its wealth of unique white and yellow fruit flavors and exceptional minerality. Light on its feet yet long on the finish, Mayu has fashioned a distinctive, character-filled wine in the 2015 Mayu Pedro Ximénez from the lofty Huanta Vineyard.

Next in line this month is the 2013 Mayu Valle de Elqui La Compañia Vineyard Carmenère-Syrah, a unique blend of two of Chile’s finest red varietals that offers exceptional drinking pleasure. Made in the finest Old World tradition, Mayu’s 2013 Carmenère-Syrah sports a deep purple color and exudes juicy blackberry and plum aromas and flavors. Add perfect balance and hints of exotic spices from the Syrah, which blend harmoniously with Carmenère’s racy fruit and delightful earth tones, and the 2013 Mayu Valle de Elqui La Compañia Vineyard Carmenère-Syrah adds up to one tasty, fine drinking red.

A superlative French rosé rounds out this month’s Premier Series selections. Mâitres Vignerons de la Vidaubanaise’s 2015 Le Provençal Côtes de Provence Rosé captures the warmth of the sun-drenched Provençal countryside along with the region’s rarified air and illuminated landscapes, all of which shimmer beside the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Le Provençal is bottled in the traditional “flute à corset,” the distinctive bottle of the Provence region, that recalls charming flower-bedecked villages, colorful outdoor cafés, and fun in the sun. Delicate in color, much like the lightest of pink roses, the 2015 Le Provençal Rosé enchants the eye as well as the nose and palate. Enjoy!

dog-pointThe International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors Series is proud to offer three exceptional highly allocated wines in August from three countries. Ernesto Catena’s sophisticated 2012 Tikal Júbilo, an artful blend of Malbec (60%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), leads the way. For our money and palate, high-end Bordeaux blends such as Júbilo from top Argentine producers represent Argentina’s finest oenological endeavors. And apparently we are not alone. Wine Spectator awarded the 2012 Tikal Júbilo 94 Points. Deep in color, the 2012 Júbilo offers an amplifying bouquet followed by layers of blackberry, currant, black cherry liqueur, raspberry, spice, and dark chocolate flavors that glide gracefully over the tongue. Medium-bodied but amply structured, the 2012 Tikal Júbilo unfolds gracefully in the glass, becoming lush but never heavy, recalling the much beloved style inherent in the best wines from Pomerol.

Next in line is the 2013 Dog Point Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc, a wine widely touted as New Zealand’s premier Sauvignon Blanc. Dog Point spares no pains in fashioning their wines, especially the vineyard’s premier offering, Section 94. The Dog Point 2013 Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc readily affirms the estate’s acumen with Sauvignon Blanc: it garnered 96 Points from Bob Campbell MW, New Zealand’s wine specialist, and 93 Points from Wine Spectator. The 2013 Section 94 offers an attractive pale straw color, wonderful aromatics replete with savory scents of herb, melon, nectarine and orchard fruits, a textured, smooth mouth-feel, and a delicious mélange of herb, fruit, and well-integrated oak flavors. Rich, expansive, and powerfully structured, there is no wimp in this wine.

Last but hardly least in this month’s Collectors Series is the 2013 Franklin Tate Estates Alexanders Vineyard Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes for the 2013 Franklin Tate Estates Alexanders Vineyard Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon were sourced from a single block of low yielding Cabernet Sauvignon. Enchanting to behold with its purple robe and emitting aromas of ripe blackberries, cassis, cinnamon, dark chocolate, eucalyptus, and mint, it takes extraordinary patience not to quaff this wine and make short order of this gracious Cabernet. Thanks to basket pressing, the 2013 Alexanders Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon offers a soft, rich mouth-feel of delicious fruit and fine-grained tannins, which add body and complexity. Enjoy!

Salud!
Don

Casas del Bosque: Winery of the Year and the Source of Chile’s Best Wines

Casas del Bosque not only holds the distinction of Chilean Winery of the Year, having been so chosen two years in a row at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London, it may also be the “hottest” winery on the planet with more recent 90+ scores than anyone of us can count. Located just 40 miles from Chile’s capital of Santiago and a mere 18 miles from Chile’s principal port of Valparaiso, it is almost mind boggling to think that Casas del Bosque sprang to life in 1993, yet this seeming upstart has already garnered worldwide attention with a plethora of delicious, hedonistic wines at all levels.

casadelbosque
Casas del Bosque Winery

Although Casas del Bosque cultivates nearly 500 acres, it very much remains a boutique operation. In addition to its vineyards in Casablanca, the preferred South American locale for Pinot Noir, Syrah and premium white wine production, Casas del Bosque also possesses significant vineyard holdings in the premier red wine producing valleys of Maipo and Rapel south of Santiago, areas noted for fashioning exceptional Carmenère and Cabernet Sauvignon. Casas del Bosque’s meticulous attention to vineyard management and careful site and varietal selection guarantee superior fruit for the winery’s extensive portfolio of high quality wines.

Most premium wineries specialize in one or at most a few varietals that burnish their reputation and earn them medals at competitions and points from leading wine critics. In the case of Casas del Bosque, it is difficult to decide which wine stands out, as each varietal offering seems to have been blessed by the Midas Touch. Perhaps it is the fact that Casas del Bosque’s vineyards have been meticulously selected for the right varietal and are spread throughout Chile’s best viticultural valleys and microclimates. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling hail from the winery’s superb Casablanca holdings and form the backbone of the estate’s white wine portfolio. Exceptional Pinot Noir and Syrah are also cultivated by Casas del Bosque in Casablanca. Casas del Bosque’s exceptional Carmenère and Cabernet Sauvignon emanate from the warmer Rapel and Maipo valleys, while the winery’s Pequeñas Producciones (very limited productions) of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Syrah are Casas del Bosque’s ultimate luxury offerings. Among all varietals and at every price point, no one appears to be offering finer quality and value than Casas del Bosque. From Casas del Bosque’s entry level 2015 Reserva Pinot Noir (92 points James Suckling) and 2015 Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (91 points Descorchados) to the estate’s hallmark Platinum Award recipient 2014 Pequeñas Producciones Syrah (96 points Decanter), which was also Decanter’s “best Rhône style wine in Chile,” no one tops Casas del Bosque right now for quality, value, and variety. Enjoy!

Salud!
Don

What to Look For In July

In July, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers four unique and enjoyable wines from four different countries.  Val de Vie’s 2014 Barista Pinotage from South Africa begins this month’s selections.  Recently, some premium South African Pinotage producers have introduced what they affectionately call “Coffee Pinotage,” a unique 100% Pinotage that offers a distinctive coffee flavor to complement Pinotage’s rich fruit.  A combination of special yeasts and toasted oak barrels or staves is responsible for the wine’s coffee flavor as the wine contains no coffee.  Blended with the redolence of cranberry, pomegranate and wood smoke, the aromas and flavors of the 2014 Barista Pinotage are both seductive and unique.

Kir-Yianni-Paranga-White-2015The delicious 2015 Kir-Yianni Paranga White from Macedonia, Greece sparkles with a glint of the Aegean sun and cuts a fine figure in the glass, adding eye appeal to the wine’s olfactory and gustatory charms.  A combination of two premium Greek grape varieties, Roditis and Malagouzia, the 2015 Kir-Yianni Paranga White offers seductive aromatics and a round soft mid palate with hints of apricot, peach and wild mint, which are followed by good crisp acidity to aptly frame the wine’s juicy flesh.

Next in line this month is the big, bold, beautiful 2014 Tierra y Mar Russian River Zinfandel.  Born during the magical 2014 vintage, the 2014 Tierra y Mar Russian River Zinfandel displays all of the hallmarks for which Russian River Zinfandel is renowned, from a deep regal purple hue and vibrant aromas of ripe blueberry, strawberry, and black fruits to lush berry, bramble and spice flavors that coat the palate, but that’s not all.  This Zin finishes with plenty of fireworks in the form of ripe lush tannins and beautiful spice tones.

Rounding out this month’s Premier Series is Caminhos Cruzados’ 2014 Titular Dão White (Branco), a blend of Portuguese varietals that has quickly become a staple among our tasting panel members.  Light, fresh, and highly aromatic, this tasty white wine makes for a wonderful anytime quaff.  It exhibits a pale straw color, an enticing bouquet redolent with orange and lime blossoms, and a soft gentle minerality on the palate, which makes it go down ever so easily.  Enjoy!

As a sneak preview, in August look for the 2015 Le Provençal Côtes de Provence Rosé, a special cuvée selected from various parcels of vines from light, sandy soils as well as hillside vineyards planted on ancient limestone terraces. The combination of terroirs yields an elegant, dry Provençal rosé of distinction.

bishop-barossa-valley-shirazThe International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors Series is proud to offer three exceptional wines in July from three countries. This month, Ben Glaetzer’s 2013 Bishop McLaren Vale Shiraz leads the way, a wine that displays an inviting royal purple robe, bold, textured flavors, and wonderful purity.  The wine’s visual appeal is followed by an enticing aroma of cassis, mulberry, and spice that greets the nose from the moment the 2013 Bishop exits the bottle, and the wine’s sensual bouquet and flavor are just this Bishop’s opening remarks, which has no doubt earned Glaetzer’s 2013 Bishop McLaren Vale Shiraz 95 Points from James Halliday as well as 92 Points from Vinous.  Enjoy!

Next up is Bethel Heights’ 2013 Estate Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay, a wine that is sure to turn some heads and elicit more than a few smiles.  For decades Bethel Heights has produced many of Willamette Valley’s finest estate grown Pinot Noirs, but equally compelling is Bethel Heights’ Estate Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay, a very small production made in a tasty Burgundian style.  Awarded 90 Points from Wine Spectator, the 2013 Bethel Heights Estate Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay offers an enticing bouquet resplendent with soft textured fruit, hints of spice, a gentle minerality, and just enough oak from barrel ageing to burnish the wine’s components to a fine art.  Reminiscent of Premier Cru white Burgundy, this Bethel Heights Chardonnay caresses the senses.

Completing this month’s Collectors Series is the 2013 Lavau Gigondas, a wine we described as packed, pure, and polished.  It is a stunning contemporary rendition of Gigondas with deep, amplifying aromas of blackberry, cassis, cherry, and anise mingled with a faint waft of the most pleasing incense.  On the palate, this heady Gigondas is downright juicy and ripe, decadent with luscious fruit flavors, but not the least bit flabby as it is held perfectly in check by ripe, polished tannins that afford it a taut body and a smashing finish.

Salud!
Don

Rosé is the Summer’s “Hottest” Wine

Rose WineWhen the weather turns warm, the tree frogs and cicadas begin to sing, and barbecues and backyard parties are in full-swing, it is time to pour a glass of cool rosé – the summer’s hottest wine.

Rosé has been popular in Europe for centuries and enjoys a long, illustrious history.  Nonetheless, with the exception of the low alcohol White Zinfandel craze of the 1980s, Americans have been reluctant to embrace anything pink but a high octane Cosmopolitan, until now.  Fortunately, long gone are the days when White Zinfandel is the only rosé game in town.  Today’s rosé wines emanate from many different grape varieties and come in all different flavors, shades of color, and levels of sweetness from around the world.  However, it is dry rosés from California, Spain, South Africa, and most prominently Provence in southern France that constitute this summer’s “hottest” wine.

Provence is the spiritual home of today’s dry rosé.  It is a land that elicits visions of scintillating landscapes, eye stopping vistas, and undulating fields of lavender and massive cypress as they wave in the winds that wash the countryside clean.  Provence is also the birthplace of troubadours and Provençal, the lyrical language of poetry, and the planet’s most endearing wines.  More than 140 million bottles of wine are produced annually in Provence, a region famous for its wines since the Roman era, and over 105 million bottles (75% of that entire region’s wine production) is rosé.

Many of today’s most popular domestic and imported rosé wines flow from traditional Provençal grape varietals such as Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Carignan and Rolle.  However, around the world, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and other varietals make fine dry rosés, too.

Provençal rosés and many of their New World counterparts are dry, delicate wines that are much more akin to white wine than red wine, as they are produced like white wines with minimal skin contact and no time in oak barrel.  After harvest, a portion of the grapes undergo a cold maceration at various temperatures and lengths of time according to the grape variety in order to preserve the wine’s delicate aroma. The remaining grapes are vinified by a direct pressing, which imparts a slight pink color from the skins of the dark grapes.  The wines are then blended and their élevage (upbringing) takes place entirely in stainless steel tanks until early February, when the young rose-colored wine is bottled for maximum freshness.  Rosés are this summer’s “hottest” wines because they are fresh, flavorful, and served cold from a variety of premium grape varieties.  In most cases, dry rosés are at their best in the first year of their life, which means looking for the current vintage or most recent release.  Enjoy!

Salud!
Don

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