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!


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.

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!