Friday, December 11, 2009

2005 Callaghan Vineyards "Padres" red blend

As I mentioned in my review of Callaghan's white blend below, this small winery located in a remote area of southwest Arizona improves with every vintage. There are several other wineries in the area, but in my opinion this one is by far the best. Kent Callaghan and his wife run the tasting room also, open 11 to 3 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

This 2005 "Padres" is a blend of 39% Tempranillo, 31% Petit Verdot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Cabernet Franc. This is a muscular, full-bodied wine that manages to maintain a nice balance of ripe fruit, ripe tannins, good extract and refreshing acidity. This wine is drinkable now but it should benefit from several years in your cellar.

The price per bottle is a reasonable $28, or $25 per bottle by the case. If you can't find it in your market, you can buy it on line ( or by phone @ (502)-455-5322.

2008 Callaghan Vineyards "Lisa's" white blend

Callaghan Vineyards is located in the southwest corner of Arizona, near the small town of Sonoita. This would seem like a very unlikely place to produce good wine, but the 4,500 foot elevation and the volcanic soil make it all possible. Kent Callaghan has been experimenting with different red and white varietals for over a decade and he now knows what works and what doesn't in this macroclimate (surprisingly, Zinfandel just doesn't do well here).

This white wine is made from a field blend of Viognier, Riesling, Malvasia Bianca, Marsanne and Roussanne. Intense and complex aromas lead to a full-bodied, almost chewy mouth feel. Oak is just a background note. A long finish completes the picture. This medium-acid wine would pair beautifully with salmon or any other full-flavored dish.

This wine may be difficult to find in your market. You can order it on line at or call the winery at (520) 455-5322. The price is a reasonable $22 a bottle, or $19 a bottle if you order a case.

Monday, November 9, 2009

2006 Mayo Family Winery Cabernet Franc, Alexander Valley, Ridgeline Ranch

I tend to have a love-hate relationship with Cabernet Franc. I love the stuff when it is made from fully-ripe grapes; I hate it when it has that unripe, leafy, green bean aroma and flavor. This wine is one to love. It was sourced from a vineyard located in the mountains that separate Alexander Valley from Napa Valley. Ripe raspberry and black cherry aromas evolve in the glass, showing just a touch of oak. The lush flavors are supported by silky tannins and nicely balanced acidity. It is drinking well now but a few years in your cellar will do it no harm. The wine is available only from the winery and can be ordered on line ( or by phone (707 833 5504). The cost was $50 but a discount is available if you are a member of their Cellar Club.

Monday, September 14, 2009

2007 Spinifex "Papillon"

This Aussie (Barossa Valley) blend of 66% Grenache, 18% Cinsault and 16% Mataro is not the muscular red we tend to expect from this country. For starters, the light ruby color catches you off guard. Almost flamboyant aromas jump from the glass, showing gingerbread and black olive notes. Other complex aromatics develop as it airs. The supple tannins and the sweet, layered flavors are very satisfying. This wine has its fair share of finesse - even the alcohol is a moderate (for Australia) 14%. I bought this bottle at the Kansas City Lukas store at Metcalf and 119th Street. The cost was $24.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

2007 Colosi Nero d'Avola

I gained a appreciation for Sicily's most widely planted red grape when I spent a week on that lovely island five years ago. At $15 retail, this Nero d'Avola delivers a lot of bang for the buck. The deep red-black color and focused ripe black fruit aromas are nicely complemented by ripe tannins and a lengthy finish. This wine should hold well for several years, but I do not think it would benefit from extended ageing. This is the perfect match with BBQ or burgers from your grill. I would love to see this wine appear on restaurant wine lists - it would be the ideal go-to wine when you don't want to spend a lot of money on a pricey cab. I bought this bottle at the Kansas City Lukas store (Missouri side).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

2006 Anderson's Conn Valley, "Right Bank"

This Napa Valley producer continues to crank out high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends at prices that make the pricing strategy implicit in many over-$100 bottles seems absurd at best. This wine is a 70/30 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The complex aromas that jump from the glass say "Pomerol" with a California twist. The raspberry and black currant nose has balanced oak support. Full-bodied but not overly tannic, this wine tastes delicious now but will age gracefully for another 10 years. Parker gives it a 95 and I can't argue with that appraisal.
The price was $52 at the Lukas stores in Kansas City. This wine should have wide distribution. Their "reserve" 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is about the same price and it is also lip-smacking delicious.

Monday, August 31, 2009

2007 Argiolas Vermentino "Costamolino"

With good quality wines being produced all over the globe, I was not surprised by the outstanding quality of this white wine from Sardinia. I have tasted previous vintages of this wine but 2007 must have been an exceptional vintage for this producer. The wine is full-bodied, which is to be expected from this varietal. A rich, slightly viscous feel in the mouth is balanced by good acidity and a crisp finish. The aromatics are also interesting with roasted nuts and ripe lemon notes. I don't think this wine has seen any oak and that is a good thing given the distinctive varietal aromas that can stand on their own.

I purchased this wine at the Lukas store in Kansas City for $14. This wine should have good nationwide distribution.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

2007 Frei Brothers Reserve Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley

Frei Brothers winery has been owned by the Gallo empire for quite some time and this wine proves that ownership of a small winery by a huge corporation is not always a bad thing (although it certainly can be). This zin impresses right away with its dark ruby color. The aromas and flavors are pure ripe raspberry and black cherry. Dense and rich in the mouth with silky tannins. The 15% alcohol is invisible. This wine has an expensive quality to it which makes its price at the KC Lukas store ($18) an amazing bargain. It should have good nationwide distribution. If you like Zinfandel, you would not regret bringing home a case of this wine.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

2008 Kirkland (Costco) Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

I like Costco for their wines and everything else I might need. When I recently visited their wine section, I probably would not have given the displayed cases of this wine a second look had I not had such good luck with this Costco proprietary brand. One of he best experiences I have had with Kirkland was a bottle of vintage dated extra virgin olive oil from Tuscany - a one liter bottle turned out to be the real deal at a bargain price. So, I gave the Pinot Noir a try ($12.95) and this wine has some authentic pinot black cherry aromas and flavors. Good overall balance and a pleasant finish seal the deal. Now, this wine offers no competition to the luscious pinots from Martinelli and Rochioli. It is simply a light but honest bargain pinot for summertime meals on your deck.

Friday, July 31, 2009

2007 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County

In April I posted a blog about the 2006 vintage of this wine. This newly-released 2007 version is perhaps even better, reflecting the generally outstanding vintage enjoyed by wineries throughout northern California. This wine is medium-dark in color and has an exceptional balance of ripe tannins, acidity, fruit and extract, with broad satisfying flavors. It is drinking well now but a few years in your cellar would do it no harm.

The Wine Exchange in Orange, CA has this wine for an amazing $12, plus shipping. The Kansas City Lukas store at Stateline and 135th Street has it on the shelves for $15. I think this wine is easily worth twice that price. Why the low cost? Because of tough economic times wine consumers are still buying wine, but they are spending less per bottle. This wine appears perfectly positioned to do well in this market. The 2006 vintage bottling was very large so I suspect this one will also have widespread availability.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

2007 Odisea "Angele", Sueno Vineyard, Lodi, California

This winery produces a number of red and white varietal blends and this was the one that captured my attention. It is a blend of 35% Marsanne, 35% Roussanne and 30% Grenache Blanc. 25 years ago even a hardcore wine lover would probably not know how to find Lodi on a California map. A lot of wine has been produced in this area for a long time, but until recently most of the grapes ended up as anonymous components in inexpensive blends. This AVA has been steadily receiving increased attention and appreciation.

This dry white wine has good acidity and lively aromas of apricots and tea. Some oak is present in the nose but it does not intrude on the fruit. What is really interesting about this wine is how it has captured the rich flavors and viscous mouth feel of these full-bodied white Rhone varietals. This wine is a nice change of pace if you are tired of sipping on summer whites that have little personality. The price was $19 at the Kansas City Lukas store at 135th and State Line Road.

Ridge Vineyards may have been the first winery to source fruit from Lodi and give credit to this region on their label. Please take a look at my "Old Tastes." Scroll down to "Zinfandel" and click on the Lodi 1972 and L1D 1969 labels. I would appreciate hearing from you if you are aware of any earlier bottles of Lodi-identified wine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

2005 Hopler Austrian Pinot Blanc

Sometimes finding a nice wine is just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. I bumped into a wine distributor friend at the Lukas wine store in Kansas City (Overland Park) and I was invited to sit in on a presentation by Mr. Hopler's son. His PowerPoint show was so interesting I purchased a bottle of this wine as I was leaving. I am glad I did. This is a delicious, dry and refreshing wine that possesses plenty of structure and flavor to stand up to rich and spicy dishes. The winery is located in Austria's eastern Burgenland viticulture area. Although I was suspicious that the wine, now almost four years old, may be fading fast,such was not the case. The cost was a very reasonable $15. The Lukas store on the other side of the state line has the 2007 vintage, which I have not tried.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

2006 Martinelli Pinot Noir, Bondi Home Ranch, "Water Trough Vineyard"

I have to admit up front that Martinelli Pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley and the "true" Sonoma Coast just plain knock my hat in the creek. I love the seamless, dense fruit aromas and flavors that are found in all their separate vineyard bottlings. But I would ask those who favor more delicate, polished Pinots to give this one a try. Now, there is nothing wimpy about this wine from the Green Valley AVA (overlaps Russian River Valley AVA). This cool site gives this wine a lighter color and a delicacy and finesse that is very charming. It says Helen Turley (the consulting winemaker) sotto voce.

The cost was $60 and I have no problems with that price, given the quality of the wine. Parker gave it a 91 and Tanzer scored it 92+. Martinelli's top wines are available only by allocation, but I don't think you would ever regret being on their list.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2005 Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet, "La Romanee"

Buying white Burgundy can be, like buying red Burgundy, an exercise that often ends is disappointment, and an expensive one at that. My wife Annie bought this wine for me last Christmas and I think I should let her do more of my wine purchases. The aromas that leap from this glass are amazingly intense. To be sure, there is French oak in the foreground, but the pear and apricot notes are fresh and focused. The full, silky flavors and overall balance complete the picture. This was the most satisfying white Burgundy I have had in many years.

Annie bought the wine at the Kansas City Lukas store at 135th and State Line. She paid $63 and, given the quality received, you can't argue with that price. You can pay that price for a California Chardonnay with no guarantee that it will be as satisfying.

2007 Turley Zinfandel, Grist Vineyard

Turley sourced this wine from an old-vine vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. This AVA, a prime location for zins, and an exceptional vintage combined to allow the winery to produce this delicious wine. In typical Turley style, the lush, ripe fruit hides the supple tannins and creates a seamless mouth feel. This is a wine that is all about ripe fruit - raspberries and black cherries with a touch of black pepper. I was amazed the label indicated the alcohol was 16.2%; there is not a trace of heat to be found.

The cost was $40. This is a substantial price for a zin, but the quality is there. These wines are generally available only from the winery on an allocated basis, but I suspect that the economic conditions that now exist will make it much easier for you to get on the mailing list.

Friday, May 29, 2009

2006 Rochioli Chardonnay River Block Vineyard

The Rochioli family was one of the early Chardonnay and Pinot Noir growers in Sonoma County's Russian River Valley. They planted their first Pinot Noir vineyard in 1968. After many years of selling the entire crop to local wineries (including such notables as Davis Bynum, Gary Farrell and Williams Selyem), Tom Rochioli, and his father Joe Jr., decided to produce and bottle wine under their own label. And the rest was history. Although the Rochioli Pinot Noirs are the most coveted, their single-vineyard Chardonnays are beauties in their own right and provide further proof of the concept of terrior.

This River Block Vineyard Chardonnay has a bright light gold color. Splendid aromas of butterscotch and hazelnuts jump from the glass. This wine is all about layered aromas and flavors but with nothing out of balance, including the alcohol. Intensity and finesse in the same package. Rochioli Chardonnays have a reputation for gaining complexity with substantial bottle age., but the wine is irresistible right now.

Sales of the single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are allocated by the winery and this one cost $65. For me, at that price, a Chardonnay had better be very special and this one is.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

2006 Robert Mondavi Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

In spite of all the unfortunate past drama at this winery, they continue to produce some wines worthy of attention. This cabernet has a healthy dark color. The nose was initially closed but it opened up quickly in the glass to show sweet herbal and ripe cassis notes. Lush but lively fruit and supple tannins make this wine a pleasure to drink now, but I think it will age gracefully for at least 10 years. I was amazed to note that the alcohol content was 15% - because of its near-perfect balance there is not a trace of heat in this wine.

The Wine Advocate gave this wine 90 points and estimates the retail cost is $40. That would be a fair enough price given the quality, but I found this wine at the Kansas City Costco (just off Main Street) selling for $20 - now that is a real bargain!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

2003 Chateau La Vieille Cure

This wine is from the Fronsac appellation, which is located adjacent to Pomerol. 20 years ago it would have been unlikely that you could have found a wine of this quality from one of the so-called Bordeaux satellite appellations. I recall buying wines from Cotes de Bourg and Blaye in the early 80's and they were thin and fruitless. They certainly were inexpensive, but that was the kindest thing you could say.

This wine, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, is a revelation. I think it could hold its own against many prestige (and far more expensive) wines from the Haut-Medoc. This wine's dark color and 14.5% alcohol reflect the heat that descended on France in 2003, but the alcohol is completely hidden by the wine's fruit and structure. The nose, which built complexity as it sat in the glass, displays generous cassis and cedar notes, with a touch of eucalyptus. The flavors are full and cushy with deep fruit and substantial ripe tannins. The finish is long and satisfying. Although the wine provides lots of pleasure now, I would cellar it for several more years to smooth out the tannins.

I bought the wine at the Kansas City World Market located just south of 135th Street on the Missouri side of the state line. The price was $35. Since this wine has been on the market for three years, you may have difficulty locating it in your area. I think you would be completely safe to purchase the 2005 version, which Parker gave a 93 rating.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

2006 Turley Zinfandel, Dragon Vineyard

2005 and 2006 were not prime Zinfandel vintages in northern California. Zinfandel needs lots of heat during the ripening process and these two years were generally a bit too cool. Several of Turley's zins from these vintages lacked the lush, ripe fruit you would expect from this producer, but such is not the case with this Dragon Vineyard offering. The vineyard is located in Napa Valley's Howell Mountain AVA.

Dark ruby color. Ripe raspberry and cinnamon aromas leap right out of the glass. Meaty, mouth-filling flavors are fully extracted but not ponderous. Fully ripe tannins. This wine is just plain delicious. It will hold for several years but who can resist pulling the cork now?

The cost was $45. Turley wines are allocated but, given the fact that our economy is in the tank, you might be able to get on their subscription list without a long wait. Both Parker and Tanzer rated this wine in the low 90's and I can't argue with that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2005 Chateau Teyssier Saint-Emilion

Although this Saint-Emilion producer has seldom run with the big dogs in past years, the winemaker took full advantage of the splendid 2005 vintage in Bordeaux, producing a Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend that is more than worth its relatively modest price ($30 in Kansas City).

The color is dark ruby-black. The nose was initially closed but opened with a bit of air to display rich cassis and cedar aromas with a complex eucalyptus note. The flavors are rich and broad with generous but fully-ripe tannins. The finish is impressively long. This wine is drinking well now, but I think it would benefit from several years in your cellar.

2006 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County

It does my heart good to see this venerable winery emerge from a couple of decades in the doldrums and begin producing quality, reasonably priced cabernets. Although the winery is now owned by Gallo, it is being run by a member of the Martini family.

I purchased this wine in Kansas City for $14. 140,000 cases were produced so it should have wide distribution.

The wine is a medium-dark ruby color with a touch of garnet. The nose was initially closed but it opened up in the glass to show sweet cedar and spice notes. The broad flavors and a good balance of acidity, tannin, fruit and extract are not what you would expect from a cabernet of this price. Surprisingly long finish. The alcohol is 13.9%. Very drinkable now but should hold for at least five years.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

2006 Juan Gil, Jumilla

A good friend in Denver gave me a heads up about this Spanish red wine. It is from the Jumilla wine region and is made from Monastrell (Mourvedre). This region can produce some blockbuster wines but this effort shows considerable restraint. Medium-dark color. Sweet, ripe aromas with subtle suggestions of leather and smoked meat. Present also was a distinctive, high-toned menthol note. I could not pick up much oak in the nose even though the label claims the wine spent 12 months in French oak. Perhaps older barrels were used.

Flavors of ripe plums combine with ripe tannins, good acidity and a nice finish to deliver a balanced, harmonious wine. Ready to drink now but it will easily hold for at least two more years. I purchased this wine from the Kansas City Lukas store at 135th and State Line for $15, a price that makes this wine a bargain. I believe this wine has good nationwide distribution.

Monday, April 13, 2009

2005 Hartford Court Pinot Noir, "Haley's Block"

Hartford Court can be relied on to turn out excellent quality Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel, and this wine is no exception. Haley's Block" is a portion of the larger Arrendale Vineyard located in Green Valley AVA, an area carved out of the Russian River Valley AVA. Green Valley has a climate even cooler than Russian River Valley, which makes it ideal for Pinot Noir.

The wine's color is medium red. Ripe cherry aromas predominate with just a hint of cola and wet earth. Oak plays only a supporting role. The flavors are fresh and focused. The cool vineyard site helps keep the acidity up even though the alcohol was in the high 14%. 298 cases were produced.

The wine's price was $47, which I think is reasonable for a pinot of this quality. Hartford Court wines can often be found in the Wine Exchange newsletter or on their website. You can also purchase them directly from Hartford Court using their website. You might also want to consider their 2005 "Far Coast Vineyard" Pinot Noir, which is sourced from a "real" Sonoma Coast vineyard. This wine is more expensive ($65).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

2005 Venta Mazzaron, Tierra del Vino de Zamora

This Spanish wine, 100% Tempranillo, is from the Castilla y Leon region. The wine was priced at $13 in the Lukas store at 135th and State Line. This wine is a good example of the great values that can be found today in Spanish wines. Dark ruby-purple color. The nose was initially closed but it opened up in the glass to show aromas of leather, coffee beans and figs. Good extract with deep fruit and ripe tannins. Nice long finish. Overall, this is a serious, full-bodied wine that would benefit from several years of bottle age.

A note about the wine label: It claims this wine was made "...mostly from ungrafted pre-phylloxera vines..." I can buy into the ungrafted part, given the fact that there are several regions in Spain where vinifera vines can be grown on their own roots. But I am a little dubious about the pre-phylloxera claim since this would mean the vines are at least 130 years old. Possible of course, but for $13?

Friday, April 3, 2009

2007 Tormaresca "Neprica"

This red wine from the Puglia region of Italy is an unlikely blend of 40% Negroamaro, 30% Primitivo and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The price in Kansas City was $10 at the Lukas store on 135th Street and State Line. The color is deep ruby. The extroverted nose is very southern Rhone-like with suggestions of leather and dried herbs. A well-extracted wine with slightly rough tannins and a very lengthy finish. Drink it now with burgers or stews or cellar it for a couple of years to round out the tannins. A lot of wine for $10.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2001 Ridge Zinfandel, Pagani Ranch

A visit to my OLD TASTES page will tell you I have been a fan of Ridge Zinfandels since the early '70's. Ridge began bottling old vine, field-blend zins from the Pagani Ranch in 1991. I purchased a couple of bottles of the 2001 vintage on its release in August of 2003 ($28 each) and I opened the first bottle on March 25, 2009. This zin is fabulous! Dark ruby color with very little garnet hue. Huge aromatics leap from the glass - raspberry, spice and cinnamon. Super-ripe but no signs of jam or prunes. Lush, massive, mouth-filling flavors are supported by crisp acidity. Soft, ripe tannins. If you did not check the label, you would never suspect this wine has 15.4% alcohol. I guess its overall balance is the key. I think this zin can hold its own with Turley Hayne Vineyard and Martinelli Jackass Hill Zinfandels, and that is high praise. I hope you have some of this wine in your cellar.

Rhoda Stewart's fine book, A Zinfandel Odyssey (2001), contains a section on page 319 about the Pagani Vineyard, which was planted by the Pagani family in stages between the late 1800's and 1918. Her interview with Louis Pagani is both interesting and poignant. Mr. Pagaini passed away in 2000 at the age of 98.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2007 Breggo Pinot Gris, Wiley Vineyard

This wine is not available in the Kansas City area, so I purchased it directly from the winery in December of 2008. The cost was $27. Now, I must admit that California (and Italian) Pinot Gris, particularly at this price, generally leave me much less than enthusiastic and I bought this wine based on Parker's 93 score. Well, he was right on the mark with that number. The color is a bright yellow. Intense aromas jump from the glass - lots of ripe melon, peach and ginger notes. This is a flavorful, mouth-filling wine, but the overall balance allows it to bear its weight gracefully.

Breggo is a relatively new winery located in the northern California's cool-climate Anderson Valley. These folks have hit the ground running and I am looking forward to trying their Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer offerings. Has anyone tried these varietals? They have a nice website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2006 Martinelli Pinot Noir, Lolita Ranch

Although many fine Pinot Noirs are produced all along the California coast (and Oregon), my clear favorites are the ones that come from vineyards in the Russian River Valley and the "true" Sonoma Coast AVA's. This Martinelli pinot is a single-vineyard wine from one of their Russian River vineyards. The cost was $60. The production of this wine, and all other Martinelli wines, was supervised by Helen Turley. The wine has that silky, seamless quality you find in any Pinot Noir she has had a hand in making. The focused aromas of ripe cherries and wet earth are supported by subtle oak. The supple flavors are all about ripe fruit balanced with good structure and lively acidity. Parker gives this wine a 94 and that seems reasonable to me. A note on alcohol level, which seems to be a big point of contention today. This wine has an elevated alcohol content, but I suspect a person would not suspect that unless he or she looked at the bottle label. I guess it is all about balance.

The only downside to Martinelli wines is that all of the single-vineyard wines are allocated, so you will have to sign up to be on a waiting list. But, when you are finally on their mailing list, you will also be offered some of their delectable Zinfandels, Chardonnays and Syrahs - they are all beautifully crafted wines.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

2005 Archaval Ferrer, Quimera

This red wine is from the Mendoza region of Argentina and consists of a blend of 37% Malbec, 28% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. I paid $27. This is a big, extracted wine with loads of ripe fruit and moderate ripe tannins. This delicious wine is very much in the California style. If you like this style, this wine is a lot of bang for the buck. It has all the balance needed to age well for several years. Parker gave it a 92+.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2005 Teruzzi & Puthod, Terre di tuffi

If you are looking for a terrific bargain in a food-friendly white wine, give this one a try. It is from a Tuscan producer known mostly for its Vernaccia di San Gimignano. This bottling is 80% of that varietal, with some Chardonnay, Malvasia and Vermentino thrown in. I believe the usual retail price is about $15, but I found it at World Market in south Kansas City for $8! At that price, it's a steal. Surprisingly full-bodied with fresh, clean pineapple and fig aromas. I initially viewed this wine with skepticism because a four year old Italian white can often be risky, but this one had a bright yellow color showing no signs of fading. A slightly short finish is my only complaint, but at this price that is a real nit pick.

2006 La Peira, Les Obriers de la Peira

This red wine, a blend of Carignan and Cinsault, is from the Coteaux du Languedoc (Terasses du Larzac). The most recent Wine Exchange news letter raved about it so I purchased a couple of bottles. The cost was $20 plus shipping. Parker gave it a 93 and he did not miss the mark with that score. This wine shows what a skilled winemaker can do with these two workhorse varietals. Deep ruby color, ripe blackberry and pepper aromas and flavors, full-bodied but not overly extracted. Ripe tannins complete the package.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2005 Mayo Family Zinfandel, Casa Santina Maria Vineyard

Mayo Family Vineyards is located in Sonoma County and they specialize in small case lots of selected varietals. I purchased several bottles of this Zinfandel in late '08 at a cost of $40 a bottle. This price is the threshold of pain for me as to Zinfandel, but the wine is worth it. A very dark ruby-purple color. Intense ripe raspberry and black cherry aromas and flavors, with a touch of black pepper. Soft, ripe tannins contribute to an almost viscous mouth feel. If there is any residual sugar, I did not pick up on it. This is a knock-your-hat-in-the-creek Zin from 99 year old vines. These wines are not available in the Kansas City area so I buy them directly from the winery using their web site.

2004 Clos de la Coulee de Serrant Savennieres

A couple of cases showed up in the Kansas City market and I just had to try a bottle. The cost was $40, which I recognized was a good buy. Now, I am a long-standing fan of Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, both the dry and the sweet versions. Domaine Baumard is my favorite Savennieres producer, but I simply do not understand this wine from Nicolas Joly. For me, weird is the only way I can describe this wine - from color, aroma and flavor to the finish. Does anyone have a different read on this wine (or agree)?

2004 Sandrone Barbera d'Alba

Sandrone's famous Barolos tend to cast a shadow on his other efforts, such as this serious Barbera. Good sites, low yields and oak ageing elevate Barbera to something special. I purchased this wine in Kansas City about a year ago for $27.75. Dark ruby-black color. Classic sour cherry and plum aromas and flavors. Nicely extracted with good overall structure. Ripe tannins and good balancing acidity. I suspect the '05 version has been released and it should be worth looking for.

2006 Bodegas Naia, Naides

This is a white wine from the Rueda region of Spain. The cost in Kansas City was $26. The wine, in a very heavy bottle, is made from 100% Verdejo, a varietal found mostly in the Rueda region. The vines are very old (80 years) and have survived non-grafted because the sandy soil in the region is unattractive to phylloxera. This is an excellent food wine. The color is bright yellow. The aromas and flavors are focused and show peach and pear notes. Crisp acidity and a clean finish make for an attractive package at a fair price. Parker gave it 90 and Tanzer gave it 91.