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.


The Bold Reds Wine Club Is Here!

bold-reds-wine-clubFor quite some time we’ve had members ask us for a club that features bold, red wines and we are happy to announce that it is finally here! Our two-tiered tasting panel will be looking for medium- to full-bodied wines with superb structure, pronounced ripe tannins, deep fruit flavors, and well-integrated oak tones from barrel aging.

Examples of bold red wines members of the club will receive include highly acclaimed Cabernets, Malbec blends and Carmenères from South America, single-vineyard red Zinfandels, full-bodied California Cabernets, Spanish Priorats and Ribera del Dueros, and Châteauneuf-du-Papes from the Rhône Valley.

Don Lahey, Director of Product Development, has selected two outstanding wines for the inaugural selections. “The panel came across the 2012 Terrer d’Aubert D.O. Tarragona Cabernet Sauvignon earlier in the year and we all felt it was a perfect fit and well deserving of its 92-point Wine Spectator review. We found its savory fruit flavors mingled with hints of chocolate, tobacco, and complex earth tones and plenty of ripe toasty tannins. Our second selection, the 2014 Centonze Nero d’Avola Sicilia, is a relative newcomer to the American market and a winery we have had our eye on for some time. We found it clean, fleshy, and full-bodied, offering dark cherry and currant flavors, powerful tannic notes, and appealing spice and fruit flavors. We’re pretty pleased with our first month’s selections.”

To order or to learn more about this exciting new club, visit: The Bold Reds Wine Club page.

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!


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!


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.