A good, rich, ripe and flavorful Cotes du Rhone. Not especially complex, but offers lots of oomph. 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah.
Nearly fully saturated, youthful black ruby. Cassis, dark berries, and lots of very low-toned minerally stones in the nose. Rich, large-framed, and mouthfilling. Loads of deep, dark berries, and intense stony minerality. Although weighty, intense, and well-extracted, it's pretty one-dimensional, but it's got good balance and a nice finish. Not worth its $27 price tag, however. B. Got it from Flickinger Wines in Chicago.
A more measured, elegant rendition of one of Australia's undervalued specialties. Everything in balance, this is very flexible with a wide range of stews, meats, and pastas.
Dark ruby color with the beginnings of some garnet hues. very ripe cherry and rasspberry fruit, shot through with fragrant, sandstoney spice. Very ripe, and a bit lower-toned in its fruitiness than I would have expected. Very dark cherry cough syrup/black raspberry fruit, along with a leathery earthy quality. Long finish with loads of body (a little heat, but not too much peeks through). B+. A good value for an immediately drinkable rich Grenache will a little bottle age at $16.99. Got it at Total Wine in Fairfax. Imported by USA Wine West, Saucelito, CA. Drink over the next year.
This 70% Merlot/30% Cab Franc was direct, fruity, and very soft. At $9.99, it was a very good value weekday dinner wine.
Dark ruby-garnet. Friendly nose of plummy, ripe, black cherry fruit, along with a hint of some fragrant dry gravelly/nutmeggy scents. Very soft in the mouth, with sultry, direct black cherry skin fruitiness, no tannin whatsoever, and a nice, pure, if not particularly lengthy, finish. Medium-full body. Drink over the next two years. B. Was $9.99 from Wine Exchange (winex.com). Imported by Jeffrey M. Davies Selections, Illinois.
I haven't had a good Rioja in a while. I like them, but the old style, with its heavy-handed use of American oak, always leaves me wondering what the heck to eat with it. This one is very good, but it shows the heavy oak.
Very dark, surprisingly youthful color: very dark ruby violet. Intense concentrated cherry extract fruit on the nose, but it's in neck-and-neck competition with intensely -- almost resiny -- oakiness. Youthful-tasting as well, with bring, penetrating flavors of dark cherry, liquid graphite, and some intense oakiness. Full-bodied, and with a nice freshness in the finish, this wine still has some youthfully tight, fine-grained tannin. This will age slowly and nicely for at least another 5 years. B+if you are an admirer of this style. Was $12.99 from WTSO.com, making it an excellent value. Imported by Classic Wines, Stamford, CT.
Italy's answer to Beaujolais. Fruity, fragrant, with loads of flavor in a medium-light bodied format. Would go with just about anything.
Medium dark ruby/plum color. very young, and so needs some time to hit its stride, but after a while, a richly fruity nose, with gobs of crunchy, plummy, stone-infused fruit emerges. Loads of stony, plum and cherry candy fruit in the mouth, but it's quite dry and smooth, with decent acids and no tannin at all. The only thing it lacks is complexity, but otherwise is an excellent mealtime accompaniment. B+. Was $12.99 at Total Wine in Fairfax. Imported by Saranty Imports, White Plains, NY.
Disappointing. I haven't had an exciting Carmigniano in decades. Bad luck I guess. This was deeply colored, but with a dried out flavor profile.
Dark ruby/garnet color. Nose had a little dried cherry/prune-tinged fruit, but is mostly dominated by crackly old dried leaves aromas. In the mouth, it's austere and mostly dried out, with only a fleeting hint of fruit. The finish basically consists of vanishing flavors and lingering dry, leafy flavored tannin. D+. Was $19.99 at The Italian Store in Arlington. Imported by the usually dependable deGarzia Imports. Avoid at any price . . . it's just not very pleasant.
A terrific value Zinfandel. Not a monster, but balanced, deep, fruity, and fresh. A utility infielder comfortable in many contexts and with a wide variety of meals.
Dark ruby with a violet tinge. Bright, lightly-spiced nose of black cherry and blackberry, along with a whiff of fruitcake and warm sandstoney gravel. Nicely-concentrated, with full body and loads of clean, deep fruit in the fore-palate, with sweet dried cherry and sandstone in the long, lightly tannic finish. Lacking that extra depth and complexity to catapult it into the elites, it's still and very nice B+. Was $10.99 at Total Wine in Fairfax, VA.
This is a concentrated, balanced, deep and complex Cotes du Rhone. 85% Grenache, 15% Syrah. Very good.
Saturated black ruby color. Low-toned nose of roasted nuts, minerals, and dark dark blackberry extract. Low-toned clingy, flavors of blackberry and black cherry extract, along with an iodiney/graphitey nose. Very weighty in the mouth and extremely full-bodied for a CDR. A little heat and some tannin in the long finish. Very ambitious. Was $22.99 from Flickinger Wines in Chicago, pricing it in the category of many higher levels Rhones like Gigondas and Vacqueyras, but it would certainly compete with those wine on quality. B+. Imported by Chelsea ventures, Chicago.
(Sorry, 2006 depicted.)
Atypical for an Alexander Valley Zin, but really good! I usually expect Alexander Valley Zins to be loamy/earthy and have sultry, low-toned ripe fruit. This one is big and athletic, with surprisingly good acidity. It still needs a year or two to settle down.
Almost fully-saturated black ruby. Big nose of tangy, ripe blackberries and a resiny earthy note. Mouthfilling and muscular, this wine has both very full body and tangy acidity, along with some noticeable tannin, giving it a very youthful, disjointed mouthfeel at present. But it is very concentrated and long in the mouth, with tangy ripe black raspberry fruit and lots of clean, stony minerality. Very very good. A-now, with the possibility of a full "A" in a year or two. Was $26.99 from Winex.com.
BTW, I haven't had anything but exemplary Zins from this Zinfandel specialist. Their wines are always worth trying, in my view.
I wanted to open this too-young half bottle of plain ol' generic Burgundy from a good producer close on the heels of the Louis Latour Corton I just panned to make sure I wasn't being too harsh on the Corton. I wasn't. This is very good, though too young. The Corton is crap by comparison.
Medium dark, youthful ruby. Still developing nose, but showing snappy aromas of sappy cherries, lemons, and clean stoniness. Incredibly young in the mouth, but with lots of still-angular dark cherry skins and an intense amount of clean powdered stony minerality that clings to the sides of the mouth. Crisp acids. Not that much tannin. This wine is very nice now if you appreciate wines in their extreme youthful state, but will be way better in a couple of years. B. Was $9.99 for a 375 ml (half bottle) from Flickinger Wines, Chicago. Imported by Chelsea Ventures, Chicago.
This wine embodies what is wrong with Burgundy. Even discounted to $39 from $50, it is a mediocre, characterless wine that had no business being sold under a Grand Cru appellation, and even if it were declassified, as it should have been, to a generic Bourgogne and sold for $15, it wouldn't have been a repeat purchase. Burgundy, unfortunately, is filled with wines like this, as soulless producers, in the name of making money, denigrate the amazing terroir and grapes God blessed them with.
Listless pale brick/ruby. Weak nose of some vaguely old cherry fruit, some mineral, and dried leaves. Lean and diluted in the mouth, with weak, drying flavors of bitter cherry. No finish whatsoever. D.Avoid.
A solid, workman-like, flavorful red for simple weeknight dinners.
Dark black ruby color. Medium intensity nose of smoky peat and black cherry fruit. Hits the palate squarely with full body and loads of direct, dark black cherry fruit. A wee bit of tannin adds structure, and there's very good acidity. Lacks complexity, but it's primarily Carignane, which usually doesn't aspire to great heights of subtlety anyway. I'd give it a B-, but not in the sense of a really good student who disappoints, but of a C student who gives as good an effort as he can. Was $9.99 from Winex.com. Imported by Boutique Wine Collection, Phila., PA.
A tangy, lean, but interesting Chianti.
Dark, blackish ruby with a brick tinge. Nose features sour cherry fruit, fruitcake, and lots of gravelly minerals. Lean and long in the mouth. Lots of soft tannin and acid, and bone dry flavors of tart cherry and mineral that cling to the palate. It went very nicely with a Tuscan braised meatloaf, but definitely needed the food to round out the lean texture. B.
Was $9.99 for a 375 ml (half bottle) from Winex.com. Imported by Wine Warehouse, Commerce, Cal.