Household Wine Reviews
These are notes on wines we've bought and drunk at 1105 Altschul Ave., for reference when we're in the market again. So far, they're mostly reviews by Rick Moen.
- Red Wines
- Agiorghitiko / St. George's Grape / Mavro Nemeas
- Cabernet Franc
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Cesanese / Cesanese Comune
- Charbono / Douce noir
- Gamay Noir / Gamay / Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc
- Grenache / Garnacha
- Monastrell / Mourvèdre
- Nero d'Avola
- Petite Sirah / Durif
- Petite Verdot
- Pinot Noir
- Syrah / Shiraz
- Zinfandel / Primitivo / Tribidrag
- Red Wine Blends
- White Wines
- Dessert and Fortified Wines
- Related stuff
Agiorghitiko / St. George
Domain Skouras's Red, 2009. Argos, Peloponnese, Greece. 95% Agiorghitiko (St. George), 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a wine processed by carbonic maceration, like a Beaujolais Nouveau, and and like that type is a young, spirited, low-acidity wine. It's a bit light-bodied, spiced, with an aroma and taste of strawberries. Delightful, especially at the price. 2011-10-23. $10 at Beltramo's.
Tetramythos, Ltd.'s Agiorgitiko (St. George), 2010. Aigio/Egio, Achaea, Peloponnese, Greece. 2011-11-06. $13 @ Beltramo's.
Papantonis Winery's Meden Agan, 2011. Malandreni, Argos, Greece. Agiorgitiko (St. George). Soft, lush, rounded, only slightly tannic (probably from the one year of aging in French oak), like a Merlot except with much more interesting character. Dark red, tastes of cherries, plums, blackberries. Velvety mouth feel and long finish. Note: The name 'Meden Agan' is an idiomatic Greek phrase meaning 'nothing in excess' (meden=nothing, agan=too much). The saying was an inscription on Apollo's temple at Delphi. 2015-02-12. $15 at Beltramo's.
Terre Di Epicuro Aglianico del Beneventano. 2009. Beneventano, Campania, southern Italy. Full bodied red, soft tannins, acid, cherry taste, subtle spice. Aglianico was brought by Greek settlers to Magna Graecia in central and south Italy, and the name might be a corruption of 'Vitis hellenica' or of 'Apulianicum' (south Italy). 2011-10-16. $5 @ Trader Joe's.
Feudi di San Gregorio's Rubrato Aglianico, 2006. Sorbo Serpico, Campania, Italy. 2012-02-04. $15 @ Beltramo's.
Jeff Runquist Wines's Runquist Barbera. 2007. 2009-10-17. $20 @ Beltramo's.
Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne, 2009. Castiglione Falletto, Langhe area, Piedmont, Italy. Unfiltered, young-vines Barbera. 2011-10-16. $16 @ Beltramo's.
Poderi Elia Barbera d'Asti Superiore 'Vi Veje', 2008. Neive, Piedmont, Italy. Made from 50-year-old vines. 2011-10-16. $16 @ Beltramo's.
Bodega Aranléon S.L.'s Encuento Bobal. 2013. Los Marcos, Valencia, Spain. Plum, fig, blackberry, pepper, some other spiciness. Medium-bodied, dark, smooth mouth-feel. Grown vegan and organically, for whatever that's worth. Sensational for the price, and it's very rare that this varietal is produced by iteself, like this. 2016-02-29. $6 @ Trader Joe's.
Filippo Gallino 'Birbet', 2008. Bracchetto. Piedmont, Italy. Fun, light tasting, fragrant, lightly carbonated (frizzante). 2009-10-17. $15 @ Beltramo's.
M. Cosentino 'California' Cabernet Franc, bottled by Crystal Valley Cellars, Yountville. 2006. Lovely in its own right; tastes smooth (of course) and is full-bodied but has a nice, long finish. Not all that memorable by my standards, though. 2009-12-13. $13 @ Beltramo's.
Sterling Albert Winery, Mt. Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003: This one was pretty much your basic Cabernet Sauvignon. Nicely well rounded flavours, but nothing to write home about. 2009-01-11. Gift bottle.
Castle Rock Winery, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005, Geyserville, Napa County. Classic Cabernet Sauvignon, with all the overtones of flavour one hopes for, but good rather than great. Definitely needed to breathe, to get the oak out. 2006-01-26. $10 @ Beltramo's.
Beringer, Founders' Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005. Interesting. At first, I thought this wine was both thin-tasting and tasted too much of new oak, even after breathing for several hours. After letting it breathe overnight and trying again, it still seems light but has an interesting mix of fruit tastes, and most of the oak has faded. Very good. 2009-02-02. $8 @ Beltramo's.
Avalon, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005, Graton, Sonoma County. Nice, clean, tasty Cabernet Sauvignon, though I'm not hugely excited about it. Might want to try this one again when I don't have a head cold. 2009-02-09. $11 @ Beltramo's.
2Sons Winery's (Terlato Wines International's) Hunter Ashby Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005. It has black currant and cherry, spicy, dry, smooth. 2009-08-24. $9 @ Trader Joe's.
Twenty Rows Winery's Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007. Napa. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon from Howel Mountain and the Yountville foothills. 5% Merlot from Oak Knoll. 2010-04-14. $20 @ Draeger's.
Menzies Vineyard's The Cigar Cabernet Sauvignon. 2006. Yalumba Coonawarra Estate, South Australia. Really nice classic Cabernet Sauvignon. 2010-05-09. $20 @ Beltramo's.
Milat Vineyards's Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006. St. Helena. Notably thin and lacking in character for a Cabernet Sauvignon. Would be unsatisfactory for 1/6 of the price. 2010-11-12. $36 @ Milat Vineyards.
Viña Jose Canepa Finisimo Cabernet Sauvignon, 1993. Maipo, Chile. $10 at an estate sale.
Cesanese / Cesanese Comune
Casale della Ioria's Tenuta della Ioria Cesanese del Piglio Superiore, 2013. Anagni (Ciociaria), Frosinone province, Lazio region, Italy. A light, fresh, fruity red, with a bit of raspberry, a bit of spice, medium acid, tannins, and a long finish. Elegant. 2015-09-10. $25 @ Beltramo's.
Viñedos Marchingüe S.A.'s Panilonco Carménère Reserve. 2014. D.O. Colchagua Valley, O'Higgins Region, Chile. Bottled by Viñedos Errazuriz Ovalle S.A. of Santiago. Slightly sweet, fruity, jam and berry character, and not very complex. A light wine. Far, far better than you would expect for the price. 2016-02-29. $4 @ Trader Joe's.
Summmers Winery Villa Adriana Vineyard Charbono, 2008. Calistoga, Napa County. Charbono turns out to be a rich, bold, inky red varietal from Savoy/Savoie, acid, a bit tannic, superb long finish / aftertaste. Mid-taste is muted and smooth but makes me think of raspberries. Memorable. 2012-01-13. $20 @ Beltramo's.
Andrew Lane Wines's Nouveau Suisun Valley Gamay Noir, 2009. This is a young summer wine made using the Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc aka Gamay Noir aka Gamay grape that is the traditional red grape of the Beaujolais region and a cousin of Pinot Noir. And yes, the grape is what produces those lightweight 'Beaujolais Nouveau' things from the southern Beaujolais region of France, where the alkaline soil and use of carbonic maceration for quick production makes it come out like alcoholic soda pop, whereas Beltramo's claims this one will come out complex and interesting. Confusingly, Gamay Noir / Gamay is not the same as California's 'Gamay Beaujolais' grape, which is an early-ripening Californian clone of Pinot Noir that pioneering vintner Paul Masson imported in the 1930s from Burgundy under the mistaken impression it was Gamay Noir, and promoted as that: Real Gamay Noir wasn't planted in California until 1973. Nor is the 'Napa Gamay' varietal Gamay Noir, either (as was also claimed until recently): That turns to actually be the Valdiguié grape from Languedoc-Roussillon. Perhaps even more confusingly, it's now known that (the real) Gamay Noir / Gamay originated in the classical era as a viticultural cross between Pinot Noir and the ancient Gouais Blanc varietal from Central Europe, brought west by the Romans. This one is young and fruity, light, dry, and well balanced. 2010-06-23. $10 at Beltramo's.
Librandi Antonio & Nicodemo S.P.A.'s Duca Sanfelice Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore Riserva, 2010. Cirò Marina, Calabria, Italy. Very interesting: A light red, dry, a little fruity, a little spicy, a bit of cherry, a bit of raspberry. Well balanced, need to try this again. 2015-09-10. $15 @ Beltramo's.
Grenache / Garnacha
Bodegas Borsao 'Monte Oton' Garnacha (Grenache). 2008. Borja, Aragón, Spain. Very pleasantly full-flavoured, unlike most California Grenaches. Should try more of this. 2010-01-02. $8 @ Beltramo's.
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Grenache, McDowell Valley, 2007. Vines are in Mendocino County. By far, the tastiest Grenache I've ever had, much more robust tasting than is typical, and dry with a fair amount of tannin. Has sort of a peppery finish. Wonderful. 2010-06-19. $18 @ Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard.
Marques de Montañana Garnacha Red Wine, 2009. Villaroya de la Sierra, Zaragoza, Aragón, Spain. Gee, I wish I could have evaluated this bottle on its merits, but it was so extremely sour, even after breathing, as to drown any flavour. Possibly a bad bottle. 2010-12-27. $5 at Trader Joe's.
Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha, 2009. San Alejandro, Calatayud, Spain. Cheryl likes this one a great deal. I find it a pleasant but not exceptional, well-balanced Garnacha. 2012-05-20. $11 at Safeway (Safeway Club sale price; regular price $14).
Lechuzo Winery's Lechuzo Garnacha, 2012. Cariñena, Zaragosa province, Aragón, Spain. Garnacha. Full-flavoured Garnacha, peppery, licorice, lovely finish with a sweet aftertaste and unobtrusive tannins. 2015-02-27. $10 at Beltramo's.
Bodegas Borsao 'Monte Oton' Garnacha (Grenache). 2013. Borja, Aragón, Spain. Blackberry, pepper, plum, raisin. Medium dry, a classic Grenache. 2015-09-10. $8 @ Beltramo's.
Sella & Mosca Winery's Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva, 2013. Grenache. Alghero, Nuoro province, Sardinia, Italy. Very mild Grenache, perfectly OK, but the Bodegas Borsao 'Monte Oton' is more interesting and cheaper. 2015-09-10. $13 @ Beltramo's.
Le Grotte Reggiano Lambrusco, Rosso Dolce (Soft Red Wine), bottled by Cantine Mederfil, apparently bottled 2008. 'Lambrusco' is the grape varietal. Region is Emilia-Romagna ('reggio' meaning region), on the northeast side of Italy, from the Apennines down to the Po River delta, capital Bologna. This wine comes from Emilia, the western, upland portion. Wow. This is the first sparkling wine I've actually liked. It's slightly (but not very) sweet or 'amabile', slightly (but not very) bubbly (which the Italians call 'frizzante'' = sparkling, which results from only a partial secondary fermentation, as opposed to 'spumante', which means full methode champagnoise), bright, and fruity. 'Soft' flavour. Interesting sour-plum taste. Delicate bouquet. Serve chilled. 2009-02-25. $5 @ Trader Joe's.
Barbolini (Azienda Agricola Cantina Barbolini) Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro. Made from the Grasparossa varietal. Not bad, but just a bit of a let-down from the wonderful Le Grotte Reggiano Lambrusco. Still fruity, but a bit flat and uninteresting. 2009-04-23. $13 @ Beltramo's.
Ca' De Medici Lambrusco Reggiano, 2006. Light, fun. I would try this again. 2009-08-24. $5 @ Trader Joe's.
Ca Berti Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro 'Semi-Secco', Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Another fun Lambrusco. Not quite as festive as Le Grotte Reggiano's, but worthy of respect. Well balanced, plummy but not very complex. 2010-06-27. $8 @ K&L Wine Merchants.
Cleto Ciarli's Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Amabile, Vino Frizzante. 'Amabile' means slightly sweet, and 'frizzante' means lightly sparkling, as a result of a partial secondary fermentation. Lovely, and almost as winning as our favourite Lambrusco. 2011-10-23. $11 at Beltramo's.
Bodegas y Viñedos O. Fournier's 'Urban Uco Malbec', 2007, La Consulta, Mendoza region, Argentina. Almost as good as our favourite Malbec, Terrazas de los Andes. A little less smooth and interesting, but still notable. 2009-03-03. $10 @ Cost Plus World Market.
Terrazas de los Andes Winery, Malbec, Mendoza region, Argentina. Winery is a subsidiary of Moet et Chandon. Just perfect, intense, rounded. $10 @ Beltramo's.
Doña Paula Malbec. Mendoza region, Argentina. Lovely, almost as nice as our favourite. 2009-10-17. $8 @ Beltramo's.
Bodega Catena Zapata's Alamos Malbec, 2008. Mendoza region, Argentina. Another really tasty, well-rounded, full-bodied Malbec. Not a very complex wine, but perfectly OK. 2010-03-12. $9 @ Beltramo's.
Dominio Del Plata Winery's Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec, 2008. Mendoza region, Argentina. Wow, spicy, cherry, plum, and blackberry flavours. Very pleasantly zingy aftertaste. Needs to breathe, to lose tannin from its time in new oak. 2010-04-26. $11 @ Draeger's.
Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón's Gascón Malbec, 2009, Mendoza region, Argentina. It was OK, but nothing approaching the really good Argentine Malbecs. 2010-11-30. $10 @ Trader Joe's.
Bodega Catena Zapata's Alamos Malbec, 2010. Mendoza region, Argentina. 2011-06-26. $10 @ Safeway.
Dominio Del Plata Winery's Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec. 2009. Mendoza region, Argentina. 2011-10-16. $12 @ Beltramo's.
Bodega Santa Julia's Santa Julia Malbec Reserva Malbec Valle de Uco, 2013. Maipu, Mendoza region, Argentina. Well, it's a Malbec, but I just don't find much to say about it. Typical Malbec complexity (a good thing), full bodied, ripe fruit, blackberries. Nice long finish. 2015-09-10. $10 @ Beltramo's. Also 2015-10-31. $9 @ Beltramo's.
Blackstone Winery, Merlot, 2007. I enjoyed this more than any other Merlot I've ever had; those usually strike me as bland. This had surprising depth, and I'd welcome having it again. 2009-05-19. $8 @ Beltramo's.
Grand Cru Vineyards's California Merlot, 2008. Napa or Sonoma County. Perfectly inoffensive Merlot with nothing special to recommend it. 2010-12-28. $3 @ Sigona's.
Stonestreet Winery's Alexander Valley Merlot, 1996, Healdsburg, Sonoma County. 76% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc. $20 at an estate sale.
Rex-Goliath Winery's H.R.M. Rex-Goliath Free Range Giant 47 Pound Rooster California Merlot (non-vintage). Yeah, it's Merlot, but one doesn't expect memorable for $5. Woodbridge, San Joaquin County. 2011-11-06. $5 at Target.
Monastrell / Mourvèdre
Bodegas Volver's Tarima Hill Old Vines Monastrell, 2012. Pinosa, Alicante, Spain. Chocolatey taste, rich, deep colour, slight bitter accent, cherry. 2015-02-27 $13 @ Beltramo's.
Castillo del Baron's Monastrell, 2012. This Monastrell came out very mild flavoured, which is unusual. Some spice, black fruit, soft taste, slightly acid. Yecla DOC, Murcia, Spain. 2015-02-27 $9 @ Beltramo's.
Azienda Agricola Masciarelli S.N.C.'s Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, 2006. San Martino sulla Marrucina, Abruzzo, Italy. 2010-03-12. $7 @ Beltramo's.
Azienda Agricola Sant'Elena's Tato Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, 2008. Gradisca d'Isonzo, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy. A bit of cherry flavour, a bit of tannic edge. 2011-10-17. $8 at Trader Joe's.
Fattoria Bruno Nicodemi Notaresco Italia's Nicodemi Notari Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, 2007. Notaresco, Abruzzo, Italy. Dark, intense, concentrated, smooth. Plum, pepper, berry, more than a bit tart. 2011-10-23. $20 at Beltramo's.
Casa Vinicola Zonin S.P.A.'s Villa Cerrina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. 2014. Gambellara, Abruzzo, Italy. 2016-02-29. $5 at Trader Joe's.
Ettore Germano Langhe Nebbiolo, 2009. Serralunga d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy. Medium-light body for a Nebbiolo, aromatic, well-balanced mixture of light spice, floral scent, raspberry. I could learn to like it, but didn't find it very memorable on first encounter. 2011-06-19. $23 @ Beltramo's.
Donnafugata Societadà a Responsabilitadà Limitata's Sedàra, 2008. Marsala, Sicily, Italy. Nero d'Avola, with some amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and other grapes. Very fruity, balanced. Spice, raspberry, plum. A young wine; not a lot of depth. 2011-10-16. $13 @ Beltramo's.
Cantine Colosi's Nero d'Avola, 2012. Medium body, cherry, blackberry. Low on tannin, high on octane (alcohol). Not too inspiring, but OK. 2014-12-28 @ 13 @ Beltramo's.
Petite Sirah / Durif
Huntington, Petite Sirah, 2005, Soledad, Monterey County. A little subdued for a Petite Sirah, but otherwise OK. Cheryl likes it a great deal. 2009-03-13. $10 @ Beltramo's.
Bogle Vineyards California Petite Sirah. 2007. Grapes from Clarksburg (Northern Solano County, near Sacramento) and Lodi. 2009-11-17. $10 @ Beltramo's.
David Bruce Central Coast Petite Syrah, 2000. An absolutely classic, perfect Petite Sirah. $8 at an estate sale.
Andrew Lane Wines's Petite Sirah, 2007. St. Helena, Napa Valley. I really love this one. It has subtle fruit (especially for a Petite Sirah), with a sort of blueberry-plum character and a really lovely, long finish. 2011-06-19. $20 @ Beltramo's.
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Durif, McDowell Valley, 2007. Vines are in Mendocino County. This is the varietal known in the USA mostly as Petite Sirah. I think this is the first subtle-tasting Petite Sirah I've ever had. It's a bit peppery like a typical Petite Sirah, and with all the berry flavour, but more restrained and balanced. On balance, really good. 2010-06-19. $18 @ Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard.
Trader Joe's Reserve Petite Verdot, 2009. Grown at Santa Margarita Ranch, Santa Maria, near Paso Robles. Really lovely, relatively simple wine with vanilla, plum, blackberry, and peppery tastes. Tannic. Some bottles are a lot better than others. I've never had a Petite Verdot before; my understanding is that it's one of the varietals used to make Bordeauxs. 2010-10-08. $10 @ Trader Joe's.
Cartlidge and Browne, Pinot Noir, 2007, American Canyon, Napa County. Nice, light, subtle taste with a haunting aftertaste. Sort of plummy but bright and sharp. Worth considering again. $11 @ Beltramo's.
Drouhin Laforêt Bourgogne Pinot Noir, 2006, Burgundy, France. Nicely rounded, fruity, smooth. Worth having just to see what a Burgundy / Pinot Noir is supposed to taste like. 2009-03-09. $13 @ Beltramo's.
Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune Clos de la Mousse. Burgundy / Pinot Noir. Beautiful, lush, smooth Burgundy. 2009-11-21. $45 @ Beltramo's.
Walter Hansel 'Estate' Pinot Noir 2007. Russian River, Sonoma County. 2009-11-21. $32 @ Beltramo's.
Taz 'Santa Barbara County' Pinot Noir. 2007. 2009-12-13. $19 @ Beltramo's.
Brucher Winery Pinot Noir, 2007. Produced from grapes produced by Brucher Winery and Wolff Vineyards, Edna Valley, near San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria. 2010-04-14. $16 @ Draeger's.
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir, Branciforte Creek, 2007. 2010-06-19. $29 @ Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard.
Hangtime Cellars's Hangtime Pinot Noir, 2013. Napa. Light, sweet, and fruity, well-banaced. This is a label owned by the Michael Mondavi family. 2015-10-31. $11 @ Beltramo's.
French Hill Winery Pinotage Grand Reserve, 2004. Mokelumne Hill, Calaveras County, Sierra Nevada foothills. 2010-06-22. $13 @ Trader Joe's.
Kanonkop 'Kadette' 2008. 50% Pinotage, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. Stellenbosch, South Africa. I've never before had a Pinotage, which is a viticultural cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage, bred in South Africa in 1925 (Hermitage being the South African name for Cinsault), and that is sometimes faulted for sometimes developing an acetone-like smell. Very unusual, complex, and interesting. A bit smoky tasting, spicy, acidic, a bit tannic with a sharp dry aftertaste. 2009-12-13. $11 @ Beltramo's.
Noceto Sangiovese, 2006. Plymouth, Shenandoah Valley, Amador County. Perfect replica of a Chianti. Medium dry, well balanced. Mild cherry taste and a bit of spice. Not overpowering. 2009-01-21. $15 @ Beltramo's.
Bonny Doon Vineyard's Ca' del Solo Sangiovese, 2006. San Benito County. Has that classic north Italian character, but also an individual taste all its own. I was going to call it a bit rough and unfinished, but it's really quite lovely once you get to know it. 2009-06-06. $12 @ Bonny Doon Vineyard.
Noceto Sangiovese, 2007. Plymouth, Shenandoah Valley, Amador County. Superb Chianti-replica as always. Medium dry, well balanced. Mild cherry taste and a bit of spice. Not overpowering. 2010-06-11. $15 @ Beltramo's.
Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico, 1995. Pontassieve, Tuscany, Italy. 85% Sangiovese. $7 at an estate sale.
Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico, 1999. Pontassieve, Tuscany, Italy. 85% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot / Colorino. $10 at an estate sale.
Syrah / Shiraz
Bonny Doon Vineyard's Syrah 'Le Pousseur', 2005. Superb example of a Syrah: dry, full-bodied, complex. Nice, subtle bouquet. 2009-06-06. $18 @ Bonny Doon Vineyard.
Martella 'Hammer' Syrah. 2006. 2009-10-17. $17 @ Beltramo's. Perfectly fine, representative Syrah.
M. Cosentino 'California' Syrah, bottled by Crystal Valley Cellars, Yountville. 2005. Blend of grapes from Mandeville Island and the Kirschenmann and Knoll vineyards in northern Lodi. A keeper. This is light but complex and rounded, slightly plummy, really nice finish. 2010-02-10. $10 @ Beltramo's.
Rosenblum Cellars's California Syrah, Vintner's Cuveé, 2007. Sonoma. 2010-03-12. Sort of 'soft' flavour for a Syrah, but with a really delicious aftertaste, very smooth, not much body, but on balance very refreshing and nice. $10 @ Beltramo's.
Tin Barn Vineyards's Syrah, 2005. Coryelle Fields Vineyard, Sonoma Coast. Ah, tasty! Nice body, full and characteristically Syrah flavour. 2010-04-14. $11 @ Draeger's.
E. (Etienne) Guigal's Cotes du Rhône, 2006. Chateau d'Ampuis, Rhône, France. The greatest Rhône wine I know, and a classic Syrah blend. 2010-04-14. $16 @ Draeger's.
Frei Brothers Reserve Russian River Valley Syrah, 2007. Healdsburg. 2010-04-14. $18 @ Draeger's.
Spicerack Vineyards's 'Punchdown' Syrah, 2008. Rodgers Creek ranch area, Sonoma coast. Really good. 94% Syrah, 4% Viognier, 2% Grenache. 2010-04-14. $17 @ Draeger's.
Martella 'Hammer' Syrah. 2007. Classic, rather lovable Syrah taste. 2010-06-11. $17 @ Beltramo's.
Charles Shaw California Shiraz, 2008. Ceres, Stanislaus County. This is the famous 'Two-Buck Chuck' bulk-wine label of Bronco Wine Company (Fred and Joe Franzia). 2010-11-06. $2 @ Trader Joe's.
Sea Ridge Coastal Winery's Sea Ridge Syrah, 2008. Napa and Sonoma. This turns out to be an alternate brand of Fred Franzia's Bronco Wine Company, makers of the famous/infamous Charles Shaw wines aka Two-Buck Chuck. Grapes probably come (mostly) from Franzia's vineyards in the Tehachapi foothills and are merely processed at a big plant at the south end of Napa Valley. Other Franzia / Bronco brands include ForestVille Vineyard, Montpellier Vineyard, Hacienda Wine Cellars, Forest Glen, Estrella, Napa Ridge, Coastal Ridge, Silver Ridge, Salmon Creek, Domaine Napa, and Crane Lake -- most or all of those being names of distressed wine businesses that Bronco picked up cheaply. In this case, lots of fruit: cherry, plum, blackberry. The finish is a bit off, but not badly, especially considering the price. 2011-06-26. $3 at Safeway.
E. (Etienne) Guigal's Cotes du Rhône, 2011. Chateau d'Ampuis, Rhône, France. The greatest Rhône wine I know, and a classic Syrah blend. 2015-10-27. $13 @ Costco.
Andrew Murray Vineyards's Tous les Jours Syrah, 2014. Los Olivos, Santa Ynez Valley. Full-bodied, intense, peppery, a pretty big wine. 2015-10-31 $14 @ Beltamo's.
Rock Wall Wine Company's The Palindrome Tannat, 2011. Very rich, heavy varietal with taste of plums or dark cherry, a smokey & chocolatey overlay, and a lot of tannin. (Let it breathe.) Lots of body, dark, complex nose. Winery is in Alameda, California, but the grapes are from Yolo and Solano Counties. This grape is said to now be the national grape of Uruguay, and originated in southwest France. 2015-02-11 $17 @ Beltramo's.
Bodegas Solar Viejo's Vaza Rioja Crianza, 2006. Laguardia, Rioja region, Spain. Tempranillo, which typically is blended with Graciano, Mazuela (Carignane), and Garnacha, but is not in this case. Definitely a little different; we'd need to try this one again. 2010-04-14. $14 @ Draeger's.
Vinedos De Aldeanueva's Cortijo III Tinto 2008. 80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha. Hormilla, Rioja region, Spain. Perfectly OK Tempranillo. 2010-04-14. $10 @ Draeger's.
Bodegas Bilbaínas Viña Zaco, 2006. Haro, Rioja Alta region, Spain. Tempranillo. It's a bit heavy, rough, and generally not very interesting. Neither Cheryl nor I was very impressed. 2010-04-14. $14 @ Draeger's.
Beaulieu Vineyards's Tempranillo Maestro Collection, 2007, Rutherford. Very much like a good Spanish Tempranillo. 2010-11-12. $25 @ Beaulieu Vineyard.
Bodegas Riojanas Sociedad Anónima's Rioja Gran Reserva 'Monte Real', 1998. 80% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo, 5% Garnacha. Superb well-rounded red. A little cherry, a little chocolate, a little coffee. Lovely finish. 2011-09-17. $40 at Beltramo's.
Zinfandel / Primitivo / Tribidrag
Fife Vineyards, Redhead Vineyard Zinfandel, 2003, Redwood Valley, Mendocino County. Nice heavy Zinfandel, kind of full and cherry-like, but a bit monochromatic for a Zinfandel. 2009-01-25.
Sobon Estate, Zinfandel Old Vines, 2007, Plymouth, Amador County. Exceptionally interesting and lively. Both Cheryl and I considered this a winner. 2009-02-02. $10 @ Beltramo's.
Marietta Cellars's Old Vine Red Lot 49. Zinfandel blend. 2009-10-17. $10 @ Beltramo's.
Marietta Cellars's Old Vine Red Lot #50. Zinfandel blend. Cheryl says: 'Sharp, but not unpleasant aftertaste. Slightly bitter on the tongue. I like it.' 2009-12-13. $10 @ Beltramo's.
Marietta Cellars's Old Vine Red Lot #51. Zinfandel blend. Every bit as good as lots 50 and 49, for the same reasons. 2010-03-12. $10 @ Beltramo's.
Trinitas Cellars's Spinelli Live Oak Vineyard (Contra Costa County) Zinfandel, 2005. 2010-04-14. $20 @ Draeger's.
Seghesio Family Vineyards's Sonoma County Zinfandel, 2008. Healdsburg. My very favourite Zinfandel. Cheryl concurs, liking this wine very much. She comments: 'Happiness is a bottle of this.' 2010-06-11. $19 at Beltramo's.
Rancho Zabaco's Sonoma Heritage Vines Zinfandel, 2007. Healdsburg. Before the tannin went away: Plum and blackberry flavours, heavy but a bit bland and flat-seeming. Tannic. 24 hours later, after the tannin went away: Delicate and lovely, still strongly tasting of plum and blackberry, but nicely rounded with a pleasant finish. Conclusion: Let it breathe, and this becomes a quite nice wine for the price. 2010-06-23. $12 @ Beltramo's.
Chateau Sauvage Winery's Canard Sauvage Zinfandel, 2008. Winery in Sebastopol, Sonoma County. Grapes from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. I'd be really surprised if 'Canard Sauvage / Chateau Sauvage' didn't turn out to be either some more-famous winery's inexpensive-wine alternate brand, or a clever Sebastopol wine-making entrepreneur who buys up other growers' excess pressings. The bottle's label is subtitled 'Better than most at this price', and that's about right: It's a very polished Zinfandel blend, a little sweet for a Zinfandel, lacking most of Zinfandel's spice, sort of cherry, berry, plum. Yeah, a Robert Parker-style fruit bomb, but relatively subtle given that fact. No distinctive character, but an OK dinner wine. Be warned that it's almost 15% alcohol by volume. 2010-10-08. $10 @ Trader Joe's.
Trader Joe's Coastal Zinfandel, 2008. Castoro Cellars, San Miguel. It's a light, understated Zinfandel without much of the grape's spiciness, but some well-rounded fruit flavour and a perfectly OK casual wine. 2010-10-28. $4 @ Trader Joe's.
Gnarly Head Cellars's Old Vine Zin, 2008. Zinfandel. Lodi, San Joaquin County. 2010-10-31. $11 @ Target.
Milat Vineyards's Zinfandel, 2007. St. Helena. Perfectly decent Zinfandel (but expensive). 2010-11-12. $25 @ Milat Vineyards.
Kenwood Vineyards Zinfandel, 2007. Kenwood, Sonoma County. 2011-01-16. $9 at Safeway.
Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel, 2006. Healdsburg, Sonoma County. A classic old-style Zinfandel, as good as they come. $12 at an estate sale.
Beaulieu Vineyard Coastal Zinfandel, 1999. Rutherford, Napa County. $5 at an estate sale.
Orin Swift Cellars's Saldo Zinfandel, 2009. Rutherford, Napa Valley. Extremely fine Zinfandel: Dark, berry flavours, very long and impressive finish. 2011-06-19. $28 at Beltramo's.
Sobon Estate, Amador County Primitivo, 2008. Plymouth, Amador County. Hello, another winner from Sobon. Bold and spicy. In 2001, now-retired UC Davis grape geneticist Dr. Carole Meredith's DNA fingerprinting work proved that Primitivo and Zinfandel are genetically identical, and also identical to an ancestral, then nearly extinct varietal in Croatia's Dalmatian coastal hills named Crljenak Kaštelanski in Kaštel Novi, Tribidrag (its oldest name, with variant spelling Pribidrag) in Omiš, and Kratosija in Montenegro and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Notwithstanding the genetic match, Primitivo and Zinfandel tend to taste just a bit different. Dr. Meredith often refers to the grape as 'ZPC', for Zinfandel / Primitivo / Crljenak Kaštelanski. However, oddly enough, the wine she and her husband make from this grape at Lagier Meredith Wines in Mt. Veeder, Napa County is called a 'Tribidrag'. 2011-08-13. $20 @ Beltramo's.
Marietta Cellars's Old Vine Red Lot #55. Zinfandel blend. 2011-10-16. $10 @ Beltramo's.
Shenandoah Vineyards's 'Special Reserve' Amador County Zinfandel, 2012. Plymouth, Amador County. A full-fruited Zinfandel with deep, complex structure and a long finish. Both Cheryl and I love it. Shenandoah Vineyards is a second label of Sobon Estates. 2015-01-04 $9 @ Beltramo's.
Sobon Estate, Zinfandel Old Vines, 2012, Plymouth, Amador County. Still the same standout that the 2007 vintage was. (See entry.) 2012 2015-02-11 $10 @ Beltramo's.
Tenuta Cocci Grifone Primitivo, 2012. Puglia, Italy. 2012-02-14. $4 @ Trader Joe's.
Seghesio Family Vineyards's Sonoma County Zinfandel, 2013. Healdsburg. 87% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah, 2% Carignane, 2% Syrah. Still the best Zinfandel around, outclassed only by Seghesio's own Old Vines Zinfandel. Cherry, tarragon, black pepper, raspberry, mocha. Spicy, full-bodied, d?ry. 2015-10-25. $20 @ Beltramo's. Also 2015-10-27. $20 at Costco.
Red Wine Blends
LIOCO Indica, 2006 (blended red wine from Redwood Valley, Mendocino County; 87% Carignane, 13% Petite Sirah). Lovely. Has a very complex, velvety texture, medium body, slightly tannic, very intense, spicy berry taste. 2009-01-17. $18 @ Beltramo's.
Durban Vin de Pays du Vaucluse, Red Wine, 2007, cuvée sélectionée par Kermit Lynch, mis en bouteille par Leydier et fils, propriétaires, 84190 Vaucluse, France. Vaucluse is in the eastern part of Provence, east of the Rhône River. This wine is a perfectly fine 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Marsellan mix, a little peppery, smooth, subtle, interesting flavours. Worth trying again. 2009-02-11. $10 @ Beltramo's.
JR Storey Winery's Sisyphus, 2006, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County. 80% Syrah, 20% Grenache. Extremely nice blend. Complex, spicy, a big wine. 2009-02-23. $14 @ Beltramo's.
Tres Pinos Tierra Roja Paso Robles Red Wine, 2007, bottled by Maddalena Vineyards, Los Angeles, for Trader Joe's. Mix of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah grapes from Paso Robles. Nice, a big wine, kind of jammy, plummy, cherry, raspberry flavour. 2009-03-15. $5 @ Trader Joe's.
Aquila D'Oro, Toscana, Indicazione Geografica Tipica, 2006. Classic north-Italian dry red, mellow tasting, not as sharp as a Chianti. Flavour is growing on me: pleasantly jammy, not overwhelming. 2009-04-23. $4 @ Trader Joe's.
Perrin et Fils Réserve, Côtes du Rhône Rouge, 2007. Complex. Peppery, cherry. I like it, but I have to say it tastes a bit unbalanced and raw compared to my favourite, E. (Etienne) Guigal. Label says it's 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Cinsault. 2009-04-23. $8 @ Beltramo's.
Beckmen Vineyards's Cuvee le Bec, 2007, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County. 44% Grenache, 28% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre, 8% Counoise. Man, this was delightful and tasty -- going by memory, sort of jammy, with deep complexity. Really good. 2009-05-19. $14 @ Beltramo's.
Bodegas Marqués de Cáceres's Rioja Crianza. 2005. Tempranillo, Garnacha (Grenache), and Graciano grapes. From Cenicero in Rioja Alta region, Spain. I can't remember details, but remember this being a pretty pleasing and sophisticated wine, worth getting again. 2009-05-19. $13 @ Beltramo's.
Ceago Vinegarden's Dynamic 2007 Red Table Wine. Redwood Valley, Lake County. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 17% Syrah. Interesting, fruity, cherry, complex, unusual flavour. Grapes are grown according to 'biodynamic' agricultural principles. I'll want to try this again, before I can really judge it, but I do like it. 2009-08-23. $9 @ Trader Joe's.
Bedrock Wine Company's The Sherman and Hooker's Shebang Sonoma Valley Red Jug Wine. 1 litre. Old Vine Zinfandel, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault grapes. 2006-07 vintages. 2009-10-17. $14 @ Beltramo's.
Hedges Family Estate's 'Three Vineyards' Red Mountain Red Wine. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. From Yakima Valley, Washington. I liked this very much but didn't keep notes. Lucky us, we get to buy it again to study it some more. 2009-12-13. $18 @ Beltramo's.
Boekenhoutskloof's 'The Chocolate Block'. 2008. 69% Syrah, 12% Grenache Noir, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cinsault, 2% Viognier. Franschhoek region, South Africa. Really interesting, complex wine with (indeed) a bit of a chocolate overtone. 2010-01-02. $33 @ Beltramo's.
Robert Foley Vineyards's 'The Griffin'. 2007. 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Petite Sirah, 22% Merlot. Angwin, Napa Valley. Really tasty blend, slightly spicy, berry-like, medium body. Good. 2010-01-02. $30 @ Beltramo's.
Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Val de L'Ours Cabernet Sauvignon 75%, Syrah 25%. 2008. Vin de Pays d'Oc, northern Languedoc-Roussillon, France. Produced and bottled by SAS Aussières. Not very good in my opinion. It has a rather flat, off taste, and the average cheap California Shiraz at half the money is far and away more satisfying. 2010-01-12. $10 @ Beltramo's.
Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2006. Blend of 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Sangiovese grapes. Full-bodied, rich, dense smooth, black berry/cherry, long finish. Made in Fumane, near Verona, Italy. 30% of the grapes picked are held back and dried after the harvest until December, then added back in (Amarone or ripasso style). 2010-03-12. $17 @ Beltramo's.
Castello di Monastero's Chianti Superiore, 2006. 85% Sangiovese, 8% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon. From vintner Lionello Marchesi, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Tuscany, Italy. Classic Sangiovese-blend Chianti flavour. A steal at the price. 2010-03-12. $7 @ Beltramo's.
Charles F. Mara Winery's Syrage Red Wine, 2007. 42% Syrah, 41% Petite Syrah, 16% Malbec. St. Helena. Complex, somewhat heavy mix with an interesting aftertaste. Not a lot of synergy among the varietals, in my opinion, but the result is about what you'd expect from throwing those three grapes together, anyway. 2010-03-25. $17 @ Beltramo's.
Acacia Vineyard's A by Acacia Red Blend, 2007. Sonoma. Rhône-style: 92% Syrah, with some Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Viognier. 2010-04-14. $11 @ Draeger's.
Bordegas Borsao, Sociedad Anónima's Borsao Red Wine, 2008. 75% Garnacha, 25% Tempranillo. Very polished, i.e., rounded taste that is very much typical of a Garnacha/Tempranillo, but I just didn't find it very interesting. 2010-04-14. $8 @ Draeger's.
Beckmen Vineyards's Cuvee le Bec, 2008, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County. 51% Grenache, 27% Syrah, 16% Mourvèdre, 6% Counoise. The 2007 vintage (reviewed above) knocked our socks off, so I expect greatness of this wine, not yet opened at this writing. 2010-05-09. $16 @ Beltramo's.
Carica Wines's Kick Ranch 'Temptation' Red Wine, 2007. Santa Rosa. Absolutely delightful Rhône-style blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre. Lots of plum and other fruit/berry flavours. Intense. Badly needs to breathe before it's drinkable, to lose the tannin. 2010-05-11. $22 @ Beltramo's.
Tres Pinos Tierra Roja Paso Robles Red Wine, 2008, bottled by Maddalena Vineyards, Los Angeles, for Trader Joe's. Mix of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah grapes from Paso Robles. 2010-06-22. $5 @ Trader Joe's.
Symington Family Estates's Vale do Bomfim, 2007. Douro Valley, Portugal. This is the same house that produces Dow ports. Red wine blend: 58% Tinta Barroca, 15% Tinta Roriz, 14% Touriga Nacional, 8% Tinto Cão, 5% Tinta Amerela. 2010-06-23. Really nice, dry blend. It's unfamiliar enough that I'd like to try it again before I comment more. $11 @ Beltramo's.
Orin Cellars's Prisoner' Red Wine, 2008. 46% Zinfandel, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, 10% Petite Sirah, 2% Charbono, 1% Grenache. Cheryl says: Smooth, no tannic bitterness, has pleasing body texture. Rick agrees: This is a very nice blend, with a character all its own. 2010-06-23. $35 @ Beltramo's.
Cinnabar Cellars's Mercury Rising, 2007. Bordeaux-style red blend. An attractive blend that's well worth the money. Spicy, bright, with cherry flavour. Needs to breathe to get the tannin out. Paso Robles. 2010-06-23. $15 @ Beltramo's.
E & J Gallo Winery / Apothic Wines's Apothic Red 2008 California Winemaker's Blend, Modesto. Pleasant mix of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Syrah. Interesting, different, vanilla-tinged, more than a little sweet, unsubtle fruit with not much body or complexity. Zinfandel influence is foremost. A not-very-serious but fun blend, worthy of respect for the price. Cheryl writes: 'Like. Interesting aroma, taste, and aftertaste.' 2010-09-04. $11 @ Draeger's.
San Nicolas Tolentino's La Granja 360 Tempranillo Garnacha, 2009. 50% Tempranillo, 50% Garnacha. Perfectly OK Spanish red, not exceptional but great for the price. 2010-10-08. $5 @ Trader Joe's.
Pine Station Red Table Wine, 2006. St. Helena. 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 33% Zinfandel. Pine Station is the lower-priced brand of Milat Vineyards. Pretty tasty blend but without a lot of distinctive character. 2010-11-12. $18 @ Milat Vineyards.
Tres Pinos Three Pines Cuveé, 2009, bottled by San Antonio Winery, Los Angeles, for Trader Joe's. Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, from San Luis Obispo County. 2010-12-27. $5 at Trader Joe's.
Robert Hall Winery Rhône de Robles, 2006. Paso Robles. 46% Grenache, 45% Syrah, 6% Cinsault, and 3% Counoise. 2010-12-30. $12 @ Trader Joe's.
Moss Brothers's Jane Moss Western Australia 2002 Moses Rock Red. Really nice red varietals blend. Unusual; we should keep an eye out for similar offerings. $7 at an estate sale.
Cascina Gagliassi Langhe Rosso, 1997. Red blend. Winery is in Monforte d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy. (Monforte d'Alba is part of the zone known for producing the Barolo varietal. Langhe is a hilly wine-growing region in that same area.) Very fruity (cherry, citrus). Might just need to cellar some more? $10 at an estate sale.
Bedrock Wine Company's The Sherman and Hooker's Shebang Sonoma Valley Red Jug Wine, Third Cuvee. 1 litre. Old Vine Zinfandel, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault grapes. 2011-06-19. $14 @ Beltramo's.
Churchill's Estates Douro Red, 2007. Oporto, Portugal. 30% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca, 30% Tinta Roriz. Another lovely Portuguese blend. It's dry, dark, fragrant, a bit acidic, a little subdued and smooth. There's plenty of fruit, but it's subdued. Easily worth the asking price. 2011-06-19. $18 @ Beltramo's.
Vina Robles's Red4 Huerhuero, 2008. Paso Robles. 2% Mourvèdre, 34% Petite Sirah, 62% Syrah, 2% Grenache. Pleasant young red-varietal blend, with sweet fruit and full body with medium acid but not a lot of complexity. 2011-06-19. $12 @ Beltramo's.
Dearly Beloved Forever Red. 2009. Dearly Beloved Wines is in Ukiah, and is a brand of H.D.D., LLC (formed by Paul Dolan, Heath Dolan, and Phil Hurst) of Healdsburg, owners of Stoneridge Winery in Napa, which put together this big-wine blend as a Trader Joe's exclusive. Blend of 53% Syrah, 19% Zinfandel, and 28% a combination of Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Carignane, and Grenache, from Mendocino County. Fruit-forward, berries, cocoa, a little vanilla, not very complex but a perfectly fine everyday wine. 2011-10-16. $7 @ Trader Joe's.
Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella. 2008. Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy. This is a Corvina blend, which is typically 40-70% Corvina, 20-40% Rondinella, and 5-25% Molinara or other. Amarone wine grapes are dried 3-4 months on bamboo racks ('appasimento') before pressing. 2011-10-16. $17 @ Trader Joe's.
Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. 2008. Montepulciano (not to be confused with the varietal), Cortona, Tuscany, Italy. Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese) with some Canaiolo and Mammolino. Quite acid, rich, well-balanced, full-bodied. Blackberry, cherry, licorice, coffee. This is a substantial wine that would cellar well. 2011-10-16. $26 @ Beltramo's.
V. Palamà Societadà a Responsabilitadà Limitata's Arcangelo Salice Salentino, 2009. Puglia, southernmost Italy. 80% Negroamaro, 20% Malvasia Nera. Lovely, plum, cherry, with some pepper and berries, mixed with a bit of a bitter twist. 2011-10-16. $12 @ Beltramo's.
JR Storey Winery's Sisyphus, 2008. 80% Syrah, 20% Grenache. Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County. Extremely fruity (and high-alcohol) but well-balanced red Rhône blend. 2011-10-16. $14 @ Beltramo's
Bedrock Wine Company's The Sherman and Hooker's Shebang North Coast Redwine, Fourth Cuvee. 80% Syrah. The rest is a mix of Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a few white Rhône varietals such as Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Marsanne. 2011-11-06. $11 @ Beltramo's.
Evangelos Tsantalis S.A.'s Rapsani, 2007. 34% Xinomavro, 33% Krassato, 33% Stavroto. Halkidiki (Chalcidice), Macedonia, Greece. 2011-11-06. $18 @ Beltramo's.
Mas des Bressades Syrah Grenache Vin du Pays du Gard, 2007. 50% Syrah, 50% Grenache (Rhône blend). Languedoc-Roussillon, France. 2011-12-31. $8 @ Beltramo's.
Peter Lehmann Layers Barossa Red Wine, 2008. 46% Shiraz, 20% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache, 17% Tempranillo, 2% Carignane. Barossa Valley, South Australia. 2011-12-31. $15 @ Beltramo's.
Taurino Notarpanaro, 2004. Azienda Agricola Cosimo Taurino, Guagnano, Puglia (Apulia), southeast Italy. 85% Negroamaro, 15% Malvasia Nera. Spicy, dark/inky, has a nice strong bouquet. Dry, full-bodied: berry, tobacco. Sharp, bitter finish. I think this wine might be superb if cellared for a few years. 2011-12-31. $16 @ Beltramo's.
Tormaresca Società Agricola a responsabilità limitata's Neprica, 2009. Puglia, Italy. 40% Negroamaro, 30% Primitivo, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fruity, tastes strongly of berry, sour cherry, spice, a bit of licorice, a bit of black tea. 2012-02-04. $9 @ Beltramo's.
Domaine Andre Aubert, Grignan-les-Adhemar Rouge, 2009. Classic Rhône blend, and an exception bargain. Acreage is at the northern end of the southern Rhône Valley, France. 2015-01-04. $11 @ Beltramo's
Perrin et Fils Réserve, Côtes du Rhône Rouge, 2011. Complex. Like the 2007 vintage except better balanced, which makes it quite luscious indeed. Label says it's a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. 2009-04-23. $8 @ Beltramo's.
House of Dow's Vale do Bomfim, 2011. Intense, dark, complex blend of classic Port varietals. A clear favourite at our house. Douro DOC, northern Portugal. 2014-12-20 $10 @ Beltramo's.
Casca Wines's Monte Cascas Colheita Tinto, 2011. Cascais, Colares region, Douro River valley, Douro DOC, northern Portugal. 50% Touriga Nacional, 20% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Barroca, 10% Souzão. Full bodied and spicy, has a deep red tint, carries an aroma of oranges, chocolate, berries. Taste reminds me of berry and sour cherry. Long finish. 2015-09-10. $15 @ Beltramo's.
Lucky Winery's Lucky Proprietary Red Blend, year not stated (often written as "NV" = no vintage). Made from North Coast grapes. Winery is on Treasure Island, San Francisco, and is a brand of winemaker Derek Rohlffs's Outlier Wine Co. This is big, bold, light-bodied and spicy red, fruity with dark berry taste. Very approachable for all drinkers, excellent for the price. 2015-10-31. $10 @ Beltramo's.
Angelo Rocca & Figli S.R.L.'s Trentatre "33" Rosso. 2013. Salento Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT), Puglia, Italy. 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 33% Montepulciano. A budget-priced winner. Raspberry foremost, cherry, and a bit of a milk-chocolate aftertaste. Smooth, dry, medium-bodied, rich. 2016-02-29. $6 at Trader Joe's.
Pazo de Señoráns Sociedad Limitada's Albariño Rías Baixas, Meis, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain, 2010. Light, crisp white wine, tastes a bit like a dry Rhine wine, with subtle fruit. Albariño is the varietal, and means 'white Rhine', so it could be a Riesling relative. 2011-09-17. $22 at Beltramo's.
Sigalas 'Santorini', Assyrtiko, 2009. Santorini Island, Greece. Assyrtiko is a white-wine grape dry-farmed on Santorini since ancient times. Not as intense as the red wine we brought home with us from Santorini, but I like it. Citrusey, delicate, tastes a bit like a good Riesling. 2010-06-23. $20 @ Beltramo's.
Patricius Winery Tokaji Furmint. 2008. Dry white wine from Tokaj, northeast Hungary. Interesting and unique flavour combination, worth trying again but overall I just didn't find it compelling. 2010-02-10. $15 @ Beltramo's.
Trimbach Gewürztraminer. 2006. Alsace, France. 2009-10-17. $18 @ Beltramo's.
Thomas Fogarty 'Monterey' Gewürztraminer. 2006. 2009-11-17. $12 @ Beltramo's.
Hugel et Fils Gewürztraminer. 2009. Alsace, France. 2011-10-16. $20 @ Beltramo's.
Grechetto / Grechetto Bianco
Ernesto & Remo Sportoletti's Assisi Grechetto, 2014. Spello, Umbria region, Italy. Dry, lightly acid, like a Riesling, with a suggestion of apricots and honey. Brilliant straw colour. 2015-09-10. $13 @ Beltramo's.
Qupé Marsanne, 2010. Santa Ynez Valley. 88% Marsanne, 12% Roussanne. Dry, wonderfully rich for a white wine, with tastes of apple, orange, butter, peach, honey, and spice. This is the first Marsanne I've ever tasted; the Marsanne / Roussanne blend is common in the northern Rhône, France. 2011-10-16. $16 @ Beltramo's.
Domaine Porto Carras's Malagouzia, 2013. Aromatic, has fruity taste, not quite like anything else. A bit of acid sharpness like a Reisling, but softer and fruitier, more multifaceted. Chalkidiki Peninsula, Macedonia, Greece. 2015-02-27 $16 @ Beltramo's.
Zind Humbrecht Riesling. 2007. Alsace, France. Lovely aroma, crisp, slightly acid / fruity flavour, i.e., exactly the way a Riesling is supposed to be. 2009-11-21. $22 @ Beltramo's.
Weingut Gebruder Anselmann GmbH's Villa Palatina Riesling Eiswein, Edesheim, Pfalz, Germany. 375 ml. 2010-10-08. $20 @ Trader Joe's.
Hugel et Fils Riesling. 2009. Alsace, France. 2011-10-16. $17 @ Beltramo's.
Dr. Loosen Winery's Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett, 2014. Mosel, Germany. A bit sweet, tasted a bit of peach, lacks some of the nose one expects of a Riesling. Light, fruity, and refreshing. "Kabinett" indicates an outstanding everday wine. 2015-10-27. $15 at Costco.
Hillgate Winery Roussanne Lake County. 2010. Winery is in Napa. Roussanne is a southern Rhône white varietal, said to be rich and creamy, full bodied with tastes of peaches and pears. 2011-10-16. $7 @ Trader Joe's.
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard Quinta Cruz Verdelho, 2009. Vines are at Silvaspoons Vineyard, Galt, Sacramento County. Verdelho is cultivated in Portugal's Dão region to make aromatic dry table wines. 2010-06-19. $20 @ Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard.
Bonny Doon Vineyard's Chequera Vineyard Paso Robles Viognier, 2008. Nice white wine, a rare varietal from the Rhône Valley with a floral aroma. Crisp, dry, fruit-forward. 2009-06-06. $20 @ Bonny Doon Vineyard.
White Wine Blends
Tablas Creek Vineyard's Côtes de Tablas Blanc, 2010. Northern Rhône blend of 54% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 8% Roussanne, and 8% Marsanne. A nice sharp front taste with citrus in it. Acid. Then you taste melon and peach. It's a bit fragrant, sort of bright-flowery. Dry aftertaste, and a tannic, fruity finish. Cannily balanced among the varietals. 2011-10-16. $23 @ Beltramo's.
Quinta da Raza's Vinho Verde Raza, 2014. Characteristic Vinho Verde blend of 50% Arinto, 35% Azal, and 15% Trajadura. This wine is from the Lesser Kestrel Place, Parish of Veade, Municipality of Celorico de Basto, Sub-Region de Basto (DOC), which is the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. Crisp, fresh, a bit of mineral, a bit of a citrus twist. Very slightly bubbly like other Vinho Verdes.
Rebel Coast Winery's Sunday Funday, 2013. Grapes from Carneros region, Sonoma Valley. Winery is in Rancho Palos Verdes. Blend of 90% Chardonnay, 8% Sauvignon Blanc, and 2% Viognier. Nicely balanced with some acid, some green apple, citrus, pineapple, mango. Refreshing, crisp. 2015-10-31. $13 @ Beltramo's.
Dessert and Fortified Wines
Bonny Doon Vineyard's California Viognier Light Port, 2001. 92% Viognier, 3.7% Strawberry Eau-de-vie, 3.0% raw grape spirit, 1.3% Peach Eau-de-vie. It's indeed light, and fruity (which would be the fresh grape spirits plus peach and strawberry brandies in it), with a really lovely, long finish. Slightly sweet and dry at the same time. 2009-06-06. $20 @ Bonny Doon Vineyard.
Wiese and Krohn, Sucrs., Limitada's Krohn 20 Year Old Tawny Port. Very soft, sweet, sensuous on the tongue. 2009-11-21. $39 @ Beltramo's.
La Spinetta 'Bricco Quaglia' Moscato D'Asti. 2008. Northwest Italy. 2009-12-13. $16 @ Beltramo's.
Fetzer Reserve Port, 1996. 80% Petite Sirah, 20% Zinfandel. An extremely likable New World reinterpretation of the fortified-wine port idea. Not the same thing, but very worthy of respect. $10 at an estate sale.
R.L. Buller and Son Fine Tokay - Victoria. Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia. Bought based on recommendation of this winery's excellent port-style fortified wines. This is a lovely fortified somewhat sweet dessert wine made from Muscadelle grapes and made from solera-blending several years' vintages. Smooth, complex. Toffee, caramel, nuttiness, long, pleasant aftertaste. 2010-06-23. $15 (375 ml) @ Beltramo's.
Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port, 1980. Bright ruby colour, berry, strawberry, licorice, cherry. Incredibly smooth, silky feel, moderately sweet. 2010-06-11. $80 @ Beltramo's.
Seppeltsfield No. 7 Tawny, South Australia. Recommended by K&L staff, this port-style fortified wine is pretty good and moderately complex. Generally worthy of respect, though I guess I'm spoiled by good Portuguese ports. 2010-06-27. $22 @ K&L Wine Merchants.
Osocalis Alambic Brandy, Soquel. Colombard, Pinot Noir, and other Coastal California grape varieties. $45 @ K&L Wine Merchants. A bit 'hot', but enjoyable. (I'm not a brandy guy normally, so I don't know what else to say about it.)
Royal Tokaji Borászati Zártkörûen Mûködö Részvénytársaság's Royal Tokaji Aszú 5 Buttonyos, 2006. Mád, Tokaj, Hungary. Blend of Furmint, Harslevelu, and Muscat de Lunel. This is a very famous dessert wine, produced since around 1600. It's light, sweet, strongly reminiscent of apricot, orange, and honey, with a light colour to match. 500 ml. 2011-06-19. $35 @ Beltramo's.
Martinez Gassiol & Co. Ltd. Vintage Port, 1985. Oporto, Portugal. $20 at an estate sale.
Bodegas Emilio Lustau, Sociedad Anónima's Pedro Ximénez San Emilio Sherry Solera Reserva. Pedro Pedro Ximénez is the name of the varietal. Fortified white wine. 2011-06-19. $28 @ Beltramo's.
Telmo Rodríguez Moscatel Málaga 'MR'. 2007. Cómpeta, Málaga Province, Andalusia, Spain. 500 ml. Intense white dessert wine, aromatic. 2011-09-17. $30 at Beltramo's.
Alvear Pedro Ximénez Montilla-Moriles Solera 192 (Sherry). Montilla-Moriles, Andalucia, Spain. 500 ml. 2011-10-16. $23 @ Beltramo's.
Quady Winery's Essensia Orange Muscat, 2010. Aromatic dessert wine with an aroma of orange blossoms and apricot. Acid nicely balances the sweetness. Not quite to Rick's taste (way too sweet), but Cheryl liked it. Madera, California. 2015-02-11 375ml $12 @ Beltramo's.
Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port, 2009. Dark cherry, black fruit, loads of depth and character. Everything a Port should be. 2014-12-28 @20 @ Beltramo's.