Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Tue, 02 Sep 2014 09:25:37 -0400 Tue, 02 Sep 2014 09:25:37 -0400 Snooth Great Balls of Melon! <p><p><br /> Melons are a rite of summer. They are juicy, delicious and refreshing, and often just too big! What can you do with a whole melon before it goes all wobbly in the fridge? Well in addition to enjoying it au natural you can use it some pretty delicious recipes. Salads and salsas that are great for large gatherings, like the ones you&#39;ll be having this weekend for example!</p><br /> <p><br /> And when you&#39;re done with all those great suggestions make sure you check out our cocktail of the week, a delectable way to use up any excess melon you may have around the house. in fact it&#39;s so delish you might actually have to buy some more melon to make another round!</p><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Make sure to check out our <a href=""><strong>Wine of the Week</strong></a> and <a href=""><strong>Cocktail of the Week</strong></a>!</div><br /> <br /> </p> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5545 Grilling the Bounty of the Sea Gregory Dal Piaz <p>While we may not be getting ready to put the grill away quite yet, this last gasp of summer, or the summer we almost had, does deserve a bit of celebratory grilling. As an avid griller, I grill well into the fall, and even the winter, though my choice of grillee changes with the seasons. Slow smoked beef and pork dominates the cooler climate grilling season, replacing the lighter fare of summer. having just enjoyed a few killer Assyrtikos this past week i also took advantage of the open bottles to prepare some delicious seafood on the grill, so don&rsquo;t be surprised if this week&rsquo;s recipes have a decidedly Grecian flavor to them.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Now, while we really haven&rsquo;t had a terrifically warm summer it is still pleasant, handing out on the patio and dining as the sun and temperatures dip. It&rsquo;s still summer and I&rsquo;ve been making the most of it. That has meant lots of variety coming off the grill and dishes prepared specifically to match with the light, fresh, and mostly white wines of summer. To that end I propose we all grill out some delicious shellfish this weekend. A great way to close out the season, and really next weekend is more about burgers, hot dogs and getting rid of leftovers with visiting friends and family &nbsp;anyway so why not splurge on yourself now!<br /> </p> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5539 Assyrtiko. Again! Gregory Dal Piaz <p><div><br /> There are some wines that even the pros can forget about. Wines that really never fail to wow when tasted but are too often missed or skipped over. Take Assyrtiko from Santorini for example. These are wines that never seem to really underperform. yes there is a range of quality and style, going from incredibly complex and detailed artisanal wines that capture the salty, minerally character of the terrain and climate of Santorini, but there are also wines that are targeted towards consumers looking for a fruitier rendition of this classic variety.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In either case, or any case for that matter, there is the unifying nature that the terroir of Santorini seems to imprint on these wines. It&rsquo;s that minerality, born of silty volcanic soils, little rainfall that forces the vines, often truly ancient, to big deeply through layers of pumice in search of water, and near endless sun that produces rich, ripe, and complex fruit ready to be turned into world class wine. For more information on the island of Santorini and the way these wines are produced please reference <strong><a href="">Sunsational Santorini</a>.</strong></div><br /> </div><br /> <br /> When one thinks of minerally wines, salty wines, this sort of class of wine one often thinks of wines that are light and crisp. At least I am guilty of that generalization. the incredible and unusual things with Assyrtiko from santorini is that it can be minerally and crisp, and profoundly rich at the same time. Deceptively rich, as all that minerality and acidity can help mask the depth and textural richness of these wines. The real truth is often only revealed when these wines are paired with food. Grilled fish for example, often a bit of a dominating presence with light crisp wines, when paired with Assytiko the wines fills out, gains depth, and marries with the smoky and even oily flavors of the fish almost seamlessly.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Add to this brilliance in the mouth the fact that these wines are virtually all available for about $20 a bottle and you have a wine that should be in wide demand and with world class acclaim. The fact that neither of things are true, due mostly to the limited supply of the wines and the correspondingly limited market penetration that supply allows, gives consumers a terrific opportunity to experience one of the great white wines of the world for a song! Take advantage of this opportunity while it lasts, and to make the most of it pair one of these great wines with some grilled fish this weekend; recipes will be coming on Thursday to make that an easy reality.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I paired these wines with grilled squid, shrimp, octopus, and Branzino and I can say that each and every wine worked brilliantly, though the hatzidakis was best with the octopus and Branzino while the Sigalas as better with the squid and shrimp. &nbsp;It made for a summer&rsquo;s feast to be remembered. Now it&rsquo;s your turn to make some memories. Try some Assyrtiko and see for yourself how good these wines truly are.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Hatzidakis Santorini 13.5% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>100% Assyrtiko</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Hugely salty and mineral on the nose right out of the bottle with slow to emerge aromas of lightly melony and orange rind tinged fruit. this gains a hint of apricot with additional air but never loses its piercing seabreeze and salty notes. &nbsp;This is rich yet cutting in the mouth. A real wow wine with terrific energy even though there is substantial weight on the palate and simply terrific depth of fruit. Incredibly electric on the palate with acidity, there&rsquo;s plenty of fruit to keep things balanced and just when you start wondering if this is a fruit bomb the cutting minerality arrives leaving the palate salty and refreshed on the long, pure finish. An absolute brilliant wine. 94pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Sigalas Santorini 13.7% $20</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dusty on the nose with decidedly volcanic soil aromas, steely white fruits, a hint of something vaguely celery like, more like cardoon and some dried citrus pith notes. Broad on entry, and rather elegant, this is chiseled in the mouth with great salinity and savoriness up front followed by hints of white peach, lime pith and a faint red apple note. The acidity is quite firm but well covered so you think this is a touch soft for a moment, then this turns firm and structured in the mouth with huge minerality on the backend and through the spicy, peppery and moderately long finish. This is youthful with electric acidity on the finish. Could use some time in the bottle but the fabulous intensity, structure and balance here already makes it irresistible with food. Grilled squid and shrimp I should add. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Gavalas Nekteri 14% $16</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>100% Assyrtiko</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Earthy with the wood from barrel ageing immediately apparent on the nose. It&rsquo;s well integrated adding resiny, sweet and smoky nuances to the nose but obvious and slightly more pronounced than the ripe pear and green floral notes that emerge in the glass. Lovely and bright on entry, this has a little weight and just a touch of roundness and creaminess from its time in barrel. The fruit is rather orchard toned, all pears, apples and with a little peachiness and quince on the backend where this gains some floral and slightly toasty oak power. The finish has a lovely sweet/tart tension and fine length with the acid really driving the sweetness and subtle spice from the wood that turns a bit sticky on the finale. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s a lovely wine, and while the wood adds complexity and texture I&rsquo;m not sure it improves the wine. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Santos Wines Nykteri 14% $20</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Candied and sweetly floral on the nose with a hint of butteriness and a touch f honeycomb along with gentle suggestions of sweet fruit and a hint of a spearmint top note. A touch of gas on the palate lends this a prickle on the tongue. Easy drinking, round and full, this remains well grounded with smoky mineral notes, a hint of saltiness, and fruit flavors that are rather restrained. Gorgeously drinkable, this is a party wine par excellence. The finish is brisk if modest with a fine blend of saltiness and citrus and sweet orchard fruit notes. On the simple side for Assyrtiko but at the same time this should be wildly popular with anyone who enjoys white wine. There&rsquo;s a hint of tannin here and austerity that really adds energy on the modest finish. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Karamolegos Santorini Assyrtiko 13.5% $21</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This smells almost sweet on the nose with lots of baked apple, lemon cream pie aromas over a base of dusty and white peppery minerality. Bright and clear on the palate, the texture here is lovely, tissue thin and fine with plenty of juicy acids and the flavors are nicely detailed if subtle with layers of creamy citrus, citrus pith and quince on the palate but this lacks the explosiveness and depth of the finest examples. A bit short on the finish, though admirably dusty and mineral driven, this feels like a cautious wine. Still delicious but lacking wow factor. To it&rsquo;s credit this does gain length with air. &nbsp;88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5535 Great Grilled Seafood and...? Gregory Dal Piaz <p><div><br /> Tomorrow I&rsquo;ll be reviewing a handful of Assyrtikos from Santorini. Inarguably one of the great white wines of the world and one of the great grilled fish partners as well. I&rsquo;ll be following that up with some fabulous suggestion for grilled seafood and wine on Thursday but today I thought it would be fun to preface my preferences with those of my fellow wines writers.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Grilled seafood is a decidedly summery option for most people&rsquo;s menus, found the rest of the year most frequently on restaurant menus. So lets enjoy what summer we&rsquo;re having and break out the barbie, and a couple of bottles of our favorite wines. Not sure what to pair? let our crack team of collaborators give you great advice!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Photo courtesy&nbsp;<a href="">Ray Bouknight</a> via flickr cc</em></div><br /> </div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> </p> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5534 Cotes Du Rhone in 2014 Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Cotes du Rhone. It&rsquo;s a surprisingly well known wine in a world where the wines people are generally more comfortable with come with varietal designations as opposed to regional ones.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sure there are Chianti, and Bordeaux, but how many other regional appellations are most people familiar with? And is there any other that is exclusively focused on wines that are, or really I should say were, value priced.</div><br /> <div><br /> <br /><br /> Yes even humble Cotes du Rhone have been bitten by the exuberant bug! It&rsquo;s a classic case of high tides lifting all boats. The prices for Chateauneuf du Pape, the pinnacle of the Grenache based Rhone blends, have enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past decade. Driven by critical hype more than anything else as these are neither particularly rare wines, except among the explosive proliferation of luxury cuvees, nor particularly challenging to farm,though the ever escalating pricing for these wines left a void in the marketplace. What to buy when your $40 Chateauneuf becomes $75? For a year or two it was a $28 Gigondas, but that is now $40, so what is next? Why $40 Cotes du Rhone of course!</div><br /> <br /> Seriously. That is happening. The light, fresh, fruity and totally enjoyable, not to mention practical Cotes du Rhone has become the next inflictor of sticker shock. Of course there are still many great values out there. In fact most of the wines continue to be value priced, but for how long? There will always be great values in Cotes du Rhone, they simply produce too much wine to make the jump to luxury pricing, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean that they&rsquo;re not trying.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You see the first thing one does when one makes their wine more expensive is to justify the price increase. That usually means making your wine more. More black, more fruit, more alcohol, more wood, more extract. You get the picture. Is that what we want from our Cotes du Rhone? Sure on occasion I can see that, but the category as a whole risks losings its identity if it continues down the blacker is better path. Will the next generation of wine lovers be as familiar with the name Cotes du Rhone, or will this &ldquo;improvement&rdquo; of the brand lead them down the path Australian Shiraz blazed in the last decade?</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It&rsquo;s a real risk. For the moment a few producers, perhaps with three dozen bottlings among them, have braved the $30 barrier. And certainly, some of these wines with their fabulous terroir and ancient vines deserve the pricing they are trying to get, but not all. And the competitive effect this pricing escalation has on the marketplace as a whole is troubling. Of course when you look at the issues facing producer in Europe today, plummeting consumption paired with peak plantings, it&rsquo;s totally understandable that each will want to maximize their share of a shrinking market. That means producing less, which in turn means charging more. I get that. But does producing less have to mean jacking up your wines? If you want to charge much more, then the sad answer is of course yes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I for one will happily pay a bit more for the beautifully playful and pure Cotes du Rhone. The $8 bottle has become the $12 bottle. we as consumers need to support that idea, lest the category of terrifically fresh and bright wines disappears entirely, replaced by yet another version of something that resembles wine, from someplace wine is produced. Perhaps I am too much of a pessimist, though I see this trend all over. In an effort to see how current Cotes du Rhone stack up against its competition, and there is plenty of competition with value priced Rhone blends being produced virtually around the globe, I put together two cases of predominantly Grenache based wines to see how they fared.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The answer is mixed.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While Cotes du Rhones represented fully half of the top ten wines of the tasting, the &ldquo;best&rdquo; wines are not necessarily what I think of or am looking for when I&rsquo;m thinking Cotes du Rhone. The wines that most fit that bill were the wonderfully familiar 2012 VRAC Cotes du Rhone ($12), the super 2011 Domaine Pelaquie Cotes du Rhone ($12),the 2009 Domaine de la Bouysse Pays d&rsquo;Hauterive ($10), and the 2012 Delas Ventoux ($11).&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Still this is a fascinating segment of the marketplace, and one where it still does make sense to compare wines from around the globe, which is much more reasonable when comparing varietally bottled wines and a true rarity when it comes to a blended wine, the only other case for it being comparisons of Bordeaux blends.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Where does all this leave the consumer? Still swimming in riches for the moment I would think. There is just too much great competition from around the world for anyone to think they can just slide by anymore. From within France of course, but also from such far flung corners of the globe as South Africa, Australia, Spain, and of course even the USA.&nbsp;Cotes du Rhone can still deliver the goods, and at a fair price, but they are not the only ones capable of doing so and consumers are catching on to that fact.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Chateau Tour Boisee Minervois 13.5% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Upslope Wines NYC</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit smoky on first whiff with slightly spicy and earthy aromas of cherry and date fruit on the nose. &nbsp;Big on entry and moderately firm with fine backing acids and rounded tannins lending this body and richness on the palate. The flavors show a fine blend of black cherry fruitiness with leather and dried herbal notes along with late arriving mulberry and inky accents. rich and bit oozy on the palate, this retains a subtle rusticity to it that I find appealing with rich herb tinged fruit on the backend that leads to a moderately long, complex and transparent finish rich with blue fruit. &nbsp;This is absolutely lovely 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Marrenon Grand Toque Luberon 14% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Syrah/Grenache</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight and focused on the nose with Syrah driven aromas of blue fruit, fine gently meaty spice notes hints of warm red fruit, cracked pepper and baking spice. Lighter bodied in the mouth than the nose suggest, this shows a lovely transparency on the palate with flavors that like the aromas, are driven by the slightly spicy and gamy nature of Syrah and lean towards the wild blueberry end of the spectrum. With some herbal nuances, a blue mineral note and some stemmy spice accents on the palate, that lead to moderately long, clean and texturally engaging finish. This has great energy and balance with wonderful freshness to the flavors. It&rsquo;s not a big wine, which may make it less impressive to some, but it is delicious. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2012 Vinas Del Vero Tinto Somontano Spain 13.5% $12</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>60% Garnacha, 40% Syrah</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Vin Divino Imports Chicago</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Raspberry, herbs, and some rusty, dusty mineral notes emerge on the nose along with some gamy hints and a nuance of burnt brownie and herb. A touch of trapped CO2 adds a prickle on the tongue, though when it&rsquo;s released this is clear, light and transparent in the mouth. There;&rsquo;s a nice acid edge blending tartness to the raspberry and wild cherry flavors that gain subtle herbal, inky and violet flavors in the mouth. perhaps uncomplicated, this is very well balanced and just a pleasure to drink with some saddle leather notes emerging on the backend and Syrah driven gamy notes gaining prominence with air. The finish is moderately long and fresh with this small little tannins just rolling off the tip of one&rsquo;s tongue. Really fun to drink. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href="">2012 Chateau Beauchene Cotes du Rhone Grande Reserve 13.5% $13</a></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Regal Wine Imports Moorestown NJ</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A hint of leathery funk greets the nose followed by lovely layered aromas of dried mushroom, baking spice, candied violet, strawberry, juniper and beef blood. A little weighty and plush in the mouth, this feels just a bit clumsy while it delivers light if fresh flavors of red fruits, raspberry and strawberry with hints of rhubarb and almost a beet root note. Rather subtle, this is also relatively complex and nuanced in the mouth, and the rusticity is ultimately appealing when paired with a &nbsp;flavor profile that is not all fruit driven. Some medicinal licorice and dried herb notes emerge on the modest finish, along with brushy little bristly tannins. 89pts&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2011 Badenhorst Secateurs Red Blend Coastal Region South Africa 13.5% $15</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Shiraz 64%, Cinsault 26%, Grenache 6%, Mourvedre 2%, Pinotage 2%</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Broadbent Selections SF</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight and focused on the nose with a smoky top note and lots of sour red fruits framed with hints of sweet green spices and perhaps a hint of banana and band aid on the nose. With a very attractive blend of lightness and richness on the palate, this delivers a lovely textured wine, supported by integrated acids and rounded soft tannins. the fruit is a bit earthy with hints of mushroom and toasted nuts on the palate along with red cherry and strawberry flavors. Gaining some brightness on the midplate and a bit more spicy complexity, this flows to a slight austere, refreshing and juicy finish that shows off fresh raspberry flavors framed by dried herb, earth, and old wood notes. &nbsp;Fairly complex and with a very attractive texture. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2011 Pierre Henri Morel Signargues Cotes du Rhone Villages 14.5% $15</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Massanois Imports DC</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Reticent on the nose with clear notes of candied strawberry and blackberry fruits wrapped in hints of leather, dried herbs, grilled meat and licorice. Smooth and moderately rich in the mouth, this really could use a bit more acidity for my palate, though many will appreciate the wine&rsquo;s seamless character and slightly weight feel. On the palate one fined herb streaked slightly jammy strawberry fruit with the impressive complexity found on the nose. A bit meaty, leathery and briary, this is quite nuanced on the palate with a moderately big rush of wild plum and slightly gamy fruit on the backend. There&rsquo;s a little candied quality here on the finish, but the flavors remain fairly savory so it&rsquo;s quite attractive and not intrusive on the moderately long, clean fresh finish. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2012 Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone 14.5% $15</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>The Country Vintner Ashland Va</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Gamy, savory and spicy on the nose, this is cut from a different cloth than most Cotes du Rhone. Barnyard, deeply aromatic and rich with slightly lifted aromas of earthy raspberry fruit,, green olive, worcestershire sauce and lamb with a hint of orange and mint, there&rsquo;s a &nbsp;diner in my glass. Big rich, and black fruited right up front, this is a touch dense and opaque on the palate but silky enough to remain interesting. A bit chewy with extract and tannin in the mouth, this slowly reveals layers of earth, dried herb, tree bark and wild berry flavors with spicy violet tinged top notes on the palate. Elegant and refined, I&rsquo;m not sure it&rsquo;s what I would look for from a &nbsp;Cotes du Rhone but this does deliver a lot of flavor and intensity at this price finishing with a blend of chocolate and herbs that lingers on the rich finish. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2011 Domaine Pelaquie Cotes du Rhone &nbsp;14.5% &nbsp;$12</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>David Bowler Wine NYC</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Vividly fruity on the nose with great floral notes and a touch of peppery spice underlying the tobacco tinged blue plum and mulberry fruit. This has fine and subtle earthy complexity on the nose, if just a hint of VA adding lift. In the mouth this is quite smooth, moderately rich and yet on the midpalate it turns just a little austere and wonderfully transparent. the flavors are pure and bright, fresh wild strawberry, a hint of leafiness and some black pepper accents followed by a bit of blueberry and lovely fresh herbal notes through the moderately long finish. The tannins, slightly dusty, chocolate, &nbsp;and fresh, emerge on the finish lending mouthgrab and a hint of austerity to the finale. Lovely stuff. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2012 Chateau Pesquie Terrasses Ventoux 14% $14</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>70% Grenache, 30% Syrah</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>European Cellars Charlotte NC</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A touch leafy on the nose then filling with dark raspberry/blackberry aromas along with lovely spicy, herbal base notes and a touch of licorice. Showing a hint of flesh on entry, this fills out gently in the mouth with soft tannins and good supporting acidity supporting clear and fresh red currant and blackberry &nbsp;flavors. There&rsquo;s a little inherent sweetness to the flavors and a touch of lingering richness on the finish, which remains packed full of fresh fruit flavors and is decidedly long. With some herb and mineral notes adding complexity on the palate this is a wine that should please all tastes, though the fruit might be a bit much for some. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2011 Chateau Saint Jean Plan de Dieu Cotes du Rhone Villages 14.5% $14</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Carignan</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Grapevine Imports Somerville Mass</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Deeply aromatic on the nose this jumps from the glass with slightly lifted aromas of plum jelly tinged with cracked pepper, dried floral notes, sweet nutty hints of wood and fine beefy top notes. Smooth and rich in the mouth, this has a fair amount of power behind its rich, slightly plummy and candied herb tinged red cherry fruit. Moderately tannic, this is a wine that can stand some age and while the acidity is a bit low this remains fairly well balanced. earthy, slightly mushroom and inky flavors emerge on the backend along with blue fruit and violet notes that fade quickly on the modest finish. Big and a little brutish, this does get your attention.Many will like this more than me for those exact reasons. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2011 Lafage Tessellae Old Vines Cotes du Roussillon 14.5% $15</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Grenache Noir 50%, Syrah 40%, Mourvedre 10%</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>European Cellars Charlotte NC</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Jammy and rich on the nose with lots of almost grapey, black berry fruit that&rsquo;s framed by hints of truffle, black spice and cardamon. Smooth and plush in the mouth, there&rsquo;s enough acid to keep this bright on the palate but this is a rich and seamless feeling wine. The fruit has a nice clear quality to it, transparent wild strawberry and wild berries all surrounded by dried herb and old wood notes. Turning more red fruited on the backend and through the clean and focused finish, this ends a bit abruptly but has a bit more finesse than one might expect at this price point. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2011 Schild Estate Old Vine Bush Grenache-Mourvedre-Syrah Barossa 14.5% $15</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>55% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, 20% Shiraz</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>The Australian Wine Connection Concord Ca</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Big aromas of dried herbs, green spices, green olive, leather and gamy fowl greet the nose along with rusty red berry fruit and some emerging vanilla. Big and weight in the mouth, this has some viscosity to it and while I prefer my wine a bit leaner and fresher this does deliver a rich and soft mouthful of dark berry and slightly plummy fruit layered with wood spices and a hint of milk chocolatiness. The finish is a bit drying and driven by tannins with more of the rich dark fruit and dried fruit character found on the palate. Chewy and smooth, this is a big wine at this price point. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2009 Domaine de la Bouysse Pays d&rsquo;Hauterive 13% $10</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>40% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 15% Merlot, 20% Carignan</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Massonois Imports DC</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Gamy, funky Syrah driven aromas fill the nose followed by great spicy notes of licorice, rosehips, camphor and dried leaf all layered over gorgeous juniper and violet laced berry fruit. A touch soft on entry, this fleshes out a bit in the mouth with clear red fruit that is gauzy and a touch loose at the edges. The flavors slowly emerge on the palate mimicking the nose but lack the aromatic intensity, complexity and purity this shows. Still it&rsquo;s an attractive wine with a hint of milk chocolatey creaminess on the palate and easy flavors of wild berry fruit and red plums that wrap up on a rather long an elegant finish. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 VRAC Cotes du Rhone 14% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Village Wine Imports NYC</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Flowers and red fruits jump from the glass greeting the nose here along with some underlying candied and spiced cherry aromas. Cool in the mouth, and yet with sweet fruit up front, this is a touch simple in the mouth but is fresh, clear and actually fills the mouth nicely given some air. It&rsquo;s all red fruit, rather grenache with its size in the mouth and that classic candied strawberry and re cherry notes and slightly hollow feel. Fruity right through the finish, and with some youthful aggressive tannins on the finish to help refresh the mouth, this is classic Cotes du Rhone. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2012 Michel Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila Haut Cotes du Roussillon Villages 14.5% $13</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>HB Wine Merchants NYC</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight on the nose with bright aromas of black fruits nicely framed by sweet baking spices and layered over dried herbal and floral notes. With air this picks up some strawberry rhubarb as well. A touch soft on entry and broad in the mouth, this is chewy and a bit dense on the palate with attractive black and blue berry and plum &nbsp;fruits but the feel is a bit extracted and coarse. The flavors really gain focus on the back palate but the tannins, seemingly woody and dry grab the mouth as well. The finish shows beautiful fruit flavors and a very aromatic quality, all filled with blue flowers and mineral flecked fresh berry fruit. I love the flavors here, but the tannins are not my speed. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2012 Mas de Guiot Pays du Gard 13.5% $10</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Grenache/Syrah</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Robert Kacher Selections NYC</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Earthy on the nose and pungent in a not particularly fruity way. This is all about earth, herbs and flowers on the nose with a big leathery base note. A touch soft, this is fairly rich in the mouth with a seductively smooth and supple texture. Not terrible intensely flavored, this does deliver a fine blend of earth, mineral, slightly salty and licorice toned flavors along with hints of dried blueberry and dates. While the fruit flavors are of the dried variety this does remain fresh in the mouth with a clean finish rich with wild blackberry and tea flavors that show fine persistence. 86pts&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2012 Delas Ventoux 14% $11</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Maisons Marques &amp; Domaines Oakland Ca</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight on the nose and not terribly impressive but what is there shows a blackberry jam edge and cinnamon spice notes and vanilla/powdered sugar accents. &nbsp;Bright, attractively lean and energetic in the mouth. This is not a rich wine, though it does deliver lovely, tense sour cherry and raspberry fruit on the palate. there&rsquo;s lively acidity here and dusty, somewhat angular tannins lending this a touch of a rustic feel. Probably better in a year this is a lovely, simple, fresh country wine. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2012 Domaine Pere Caboche Cotes du Rhone 13.5% $13</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Monsieur Touton NYC</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fresh and slightly creamy on the nose with lovely aromas of blueberry and raspberry candy framed by hints of hay, paprika and ink along with a light stewed tomato note. Soft and easy on the palate, this shows off that slight stewy tomato note early on the palate but the savory aspects, along with dried floral tones and herbal notes, help to frame the modest and slightly muddied strawberry flavors here. The berry fruit sticks around on the moderately long finish and this shows some fine grained tannins that lurk beneath the fruit. Easy drinking and quite typical. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2012 Laya DOP Almansa Old Vines 14.5% $10</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Garnacha Tintorera 70% Monastrell 30%</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Opici Imports Glen Rock NJ</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Spicy on the nose with a taut character that hints at jammy red fruits, nutmeg, and toasty spice. Weird in the mouth, almost like an echo of a wine. There&rsquo;s soft tannins and acid, but not much flavor though with air sour red fruits and a gamy edge do emerge on the palate. There&rsquo;s more flavor on the finish than the palate though this remains subtle and not particularly expressive. It&rsquo;s easy to drink with oaky spice becoming more apparent the more air it gets. Fun and easy, though with a dry finish that does taste like raspberry jam on toast! &nbsp;85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2011 Tortoise Creek Le Charmel Costieres de Nimes 14% $12</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Syrah 70%, Grenache 30%</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Winesellers Ltd. Niles Il</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit peppery on the nose and while oddly jammy this comes off as slightly under-ripe aromatically with aromas of leather and herb laying over the spicy currant base notes. Smooth and soft in the mouth, this really floats across the palate with that same slightly under-ripe quality found on the nose. I happen to like this more savory side of Syrah, but plenty of folks will find this under fruited. The tannins are soft and well judged and while the acid is unobtrusive it is supportive enough to keep this fresh on the palate. Not much of a finish leaves me wanting a bit more but the growing beefy/bloody character on the palate invites another sip. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">NV The Messenger Telegram Red Wine Number Two California 14.1% On Sale for $15 normally $17</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>lot# 511 60% Grenache, 19% Mourvedre, 18% Syrah, 3% Viognier</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Art+Farm Wine Oakville Ca</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit honied on the nose with some assertive raw wood notes and jammy, black licorice and dried fruit aromas all topped with a hint of white pepper and something vaguely green and gummy. Soft on entry,this is rather simple with toasty spice flavors and fruit that tastes a bit cooked and dull. It freshens up a bit with air but the wood tannins here dominate the flavors and lead to a dry and tough finish. &nbsp;Chewy, chunky and moderately rich with some pleasant strawberry and black cherry flavors and attractive hints of ink, violets and game I can&rsquo;t get past the texture here. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><a href="">2011 Wine Men of Gotham Shiraz Grenache South Eastern Australia 13% $10</a></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>75% Shiraz, 25% Grenache</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Gotham Wines Sausalito Ca</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Stemmy and fairly herbal on the nose with aggressive aromas of tar, butchers wax, and cigar ash. A touch round and perhaps just a smidgen sweet on entry, this shows off plenty of acidity in the mouth with wild cherry and slightly nutty and perhaps herb stem tinged flavors on the palate. It&rsquo;s an easy going wine with a very modest finish and jammy plum and rhubarb flavors. Not bad in any way, but certainly undistinguished. 82pts&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5529 10 Grilled Fish Recipes <p>Summer is the time of grilling, but it&#39;s also the time lot&#39;s of our fishing friends get out on the water and bring home the bounty of the sea. With so many easy ways to make delicious grilled whole fish we thought we&#39;ld have to put together our favorties and get you inspired for the weekend!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> You can pair this recipes with just about any white wine. Just check out the recipes and pick your favoites. Just remember Sauvignon Blanc goes with herbs, Resiling with spicy dishes, Chardonnay with grilled dishes, and Gruner Veltliner with just about anything<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Make sure to check out our <a href=""><strong>Wine of the Week</strong></a> and <a href=""><strong>Cocktail of the Week</strong></a>!<br /><br /> <br /> </p> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5525 Great Grilled Eggplant Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Yesterday I finally published a rather extensive look at the Barberas tasted during my visits to Piedmont earlier this year. In that review I mentioned how wonderfully Barbera pairs with grilled veggies, even the most simply prepared recipes. I love the zing of Barbera&#39;s acid with grilled vegetables and fine olive oil but perhaps the best partner for all that acid might very well be the slightly astringent flavor of eggplant.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Now in season, and abundant as usually, reliable old eggplant really transforms itself when grilled and garnished. Each and every one of the recipes that follows is a winner and showcases the beauty of eggplant. it can serve as the centerpiece for so many recipes, and is a nice change of pace from a meat based meal. While I would love a Barbera with any of these dishes, they also pair effortlessly with a broad range of wines. Lets take a look and see why some of the pairings are so successful!<br /> </p> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5526 Barbera is Taking on Airs Gregory Dal Piaz <p>I got so excited about dolcetto this year, see my report on <a href=""><strong>The Return of Dolcetto</strong></a>, that I almost forgot about Barbera!&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I love Barbera. It&rsquo;s a rich wine, though too often spoofed up with too much oak, but when you find an example that focuses on the fruit you get a wine that is bursting with mouth cleansing acids, rich with plummy fruit, and lightly tannic at best. The downside to Barbera? The alcohol tends to be pretty high. That&rsquo;s due to the grape&rsquo;s inherent acidity, which can produce overly acidic wines when the fruit is not fully ripe or the yield is too high.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Those battery acid barberas are something many of us of a certain age vividly remember. It was generally due to the high yields back in the day, when wine was cheap and farmers cared more about yields than quality.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Today we live in a different world and not only do producers simply lack the demand for such high production wines, but consumers can easily find out what&#39;s a good example of a wine and what&rsquo;s a bad example, and often those two bottles are essentially the same price! On the other hand, really good Barbera has joined the ranks of the expensive wines in many case, though the accompanying quality is usually there. $50 bottles of Barbera, who&#39;d&#39;ve thought?</div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> Fortunately you don&rsquo;t have to break the bank to great a fabulous bottle of Barbera and those gentle tannins make Barbera a wonderful wine with a little chil. I&rsquo;ve always loved a cool bottle of fresh Barbera paired with great, farm fresh vegetables simply grilled and served on grilled European Rye bread (Silver Bell&rsquo;s from Queens is the best!) then drizzled with the best Olive oil you can find. It&rsquo;s a simple dish but the slightly vegetal undertones often present in barba marry perfectly with the veggies and the acids in the wine join the fats in the oil to create a symphony in your mouth. All the grilling also helps to temper and evidence of barrel ageing should there be any.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I will come out and say that I do not like new oak with barbera, though a little bit can help add some tannin to the wine which can improve mouthfeel for those used to more muscular wines. For me the oak just gets in the way, though ageing in larger, neutral oak can have a wonderfully effect on Barbera, adding a subtle softness to what is inherently a taut and edgy wine. Of course oak ageing makes Barbares a better wine if you&rsquo;re pairing it with a fatty steak or such fare, but that is not the role Barbera plays in my life.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> For me it&rsquo;s all about the acid, which is why so many people enjoy barbera so much with high acid dishes such as pasta in red sauce. As you&rsquo;ll see from my notes I prefer Barbera when it is elegant and fresh, which does not mean simple and light. A gentle hand can produce Barbera that is downright Burgundian! Yes barbera, the battery acid of yore is now elegant. Give a few bottles a try. Pasta, grilled veggies, even some meaty fish can make Barbera shine, and offer a hint as to why demand for these wines is continuing to push up pricing. One last note. Barbera also ages. It won&rsquo;t make old bones like Barolo for example but give a good Barbera three to five years in the bottle and you&rsquo;ll find a wine that has lost some of it&rsquo;s early fruit but replaced it with the leathery, spicy, earthy character so common in Piedmontese wines. I prefer my Barbera roughly during this period as it combine the brilliant fruit found in the young wines with all the nuance and detail you might expect to pay more for.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Having said that. many of the wines in this tasting represent the creme de la creme of Barbera, and they don&rsquo;t come cheaply. The wine world is a odd place where wines get priced to match demand and demand usually, but not always, follows critical acclaim more than anything else. Barbera, and dolcetto to a certain extend, have benefitted from the incredible increase in attention to and appreciation of Barolo and Barbaresco over the past decade.<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Cappellano Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $38</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Smoky, ripe and complex on the nose, with deep earthy, medicinal accents to the candied black fruit and a lovely hint of chocolate liquor and chocolate covered cherry. Electric acids on attack are followed by rich,powerfully dark yet fresh fruit, unfolding gorgeous layers of plum, earth, and gently spiced fruit. This is an incredible wine, long and incredibly pure considering the power, with a little wild yeast nose adding lots of complexity on the nose. Finishing with incredible length and minerality to the tight, small wild dark cherry on the finale, this is one of the best Barberas ever tasted. Stunning.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Cascina Francia $55</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tight floral notes that are a little peppery greet the nose along with some soil spice notes violets and a bit of beefiness. Black plum and juniper pop on entry where this is bright, with great cut, and super freshness. Truly a clear, &nbsp;light on its feet exaltation of Barbera that shows a subtle chocolate ripeness on the back palate back note, along with fine fresh plum and blackberry fruit that pumps across the palate with life and draws through a long, well defined finish. With some beautiful fine grained tannins, and well integrated acid supporting the fruit, this is long and exceptionally balanced. A classic example of this wine and one that should age well for a decade or longer. 94pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Elio Grasso Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $35</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>16 months plus in barrique,50% new</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lots of wood on the nose, sweet and toasty with spicy notes concealing but not totally covering the core of black cherry skin, black plum fruit. This is silky, elegant and savory in the mouth, with spicy wood up from the superb tense fruit with &nbsp;great minerality and clarity on the backend. The wood tannins are well integrated, and this is very refined on the palate with a finish that is a bit short, but shows finesse, I want to like this less than I do but this is superb. 93pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Bartolo Mascarello Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $50</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>In San Lorenzo</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Black fruit, spice, soil, and dried green herbal accent greet the nose followed by hints of shoe polish, leather, and black cherry pits. This is gorgeously perfumed and detailed. Round, ripe with deep fruit on the palate, this shows off fine acid that is bright but integrated with soft tannins highlighting the purity and a subtle richness that this has. I really love the way the great acids that are buffered superbly by the big juicy plummy fruit with some wild berry accents and hints of plum pit and black currant on the moderately long finish. Just a silky joy to drink 93pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2008 Scarpa Barbera d&rsquo;Asti La Bogliona $60</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>24m in botte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Meaty, with lots of savory culinary aromas like roasting steak and pretty big brewing coffee filling the glass while mineral hints of something saline and magnesium like creep in around the edges of the dark fruit. &nbsp;Smooth and powerful, and seamless in the mouth, there&rsquo;s great depth on the palate with fine mineral, herbal and floral detail along with a bit of coffee all woven together with dense, taut ripe fruits. The huge almost medicinal herbal notes that drive the long, juicy, slightly mineral water salty and quite fruity finish leaving one with a finale filled with macerated flowers. Not your typical Barbera, this shows the mineral complexity, power and detail Barbera d&rsquo;Asti is capable of. 93pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Burlotto Barbera d&#39;Alba Aves $28</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Chocolate, ivy, black cherry, and mineral come together on the nose with just a subtle underlay of wood,. Big acids on entry let you know this is Barbera, and this remains brilliant in the mouth with huge drive on the palate and great clarity to the red cherry and black plummy fruit. With fabulous balance and integration of flavors, you get just a hint of cognac spice from the oak accenting the fruit on the palate, this has great drive and focus in the mouth and shows great length on the gorgeous finish. A Barbera that seems likely to age exceptionally well for more than a decade, this is only held back by a little alcoholic warmth on the finish. 92pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Ferdinando Principiano Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Laura Romualda $50</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>One year to 18 months in ten year old botte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A little spicy note on the nose, which is richly sweet and spicy, with aromas of small cherry fruit framed with smoky, earthy and quite spicy notes along with floral nuances. Upon entry this explodes aromatically in the mouth with gorgeous scents of &nbsp;small black cherry fruit and more light, perfumy, floral notes in the mouth. The fruit shows a bit simple, finely etched cherry flavors that gets great cut from the acids, and then shows mineral notes on the long finish. This impresses with elegance rather than power, though it is impressively perfumed and deep on the palate. 92pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Elvio Cogno Barbera d&rsquo;Alba &nbsp;Pre-phylloxera $55</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Intensely aromatic on the nose and deep with hints of herbs and burnt brownie, apples and asian spices. On the palate this displays a superb texture, integrated and tightly knit showing a soft and broad density in the mouth though remaining transparent and freshly fruited with palate staining intensity to the cherry skin and wild berry flavors. Showing pretty big tannic structure for Barbera, this remains lacy but with firm edged tannins, showing a little Burgundian texture on the backend where bright acids really come out on leading to a long finish with fine persistence to the fruit. A hint of heat mars the otherwise pure and precise finish. 92pts<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Vietti Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Vigna Scarrone &nbsp;Vigne Vecchie $75</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tight and sweet on the nose with an oaky overlay of vanilla and spice laying atop the core of black fruit. Supple and old viney in the mouth, this has super fine tannins supporting big and dense liquory black cherry fruit that shows a bit of sour plum in the mouth. Big fruit, density and power in the mouth are trademarks of this wine along with with plenty of mineral character and a long chocolate streaked finish. This is wilky and long, with great fruit but the oak is certainly present and might detract from the fruit a bit. 92pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Cascina delle Rose Barbera Superiore Vigna Elena $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Deep floral notes and a bit of burnished wood emerge quickly on the nose followed by a bit of beefy, black fruit, blackberry aromas and something a little leathery. Elegant, refined, and bright this is really very precise for Barbera with lovely fresh and wild black fruits on the palate that exhibits such freshness without having huge acids. Long, pure and elegant, this finishes with more red fruit and sliced plum notes. I&rsquo;ve had this wine with several years of age on it and it ages spectacularly well. 92pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Massolino Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Gisep $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Fruit from the lowest part of Rionda and west facing part of Margheria, called &nbsp;le tourne. Only produced in top vintages</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Creamy on the nose with a wood smoke top note over fine candied medicinal notes, the oak is fairly obvious. Big, ripe, polished, powerful, and deep on the palate with big fruit and creamy oak on the backend leading to long black cherry slightly candied finish. Integrated but powerful acids keep this lively in the mouth and while this has potential to improve, it&#39;s rather regal for Barbera already. It&rsquo;s not my favorite due to the obvious oak but you can&rsquo;t deny the quality here. 92pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Scarzello Barbera d&#39;Alba Superiore $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>18 months of botte, a piece. 80% comes from Piagallo, historically a Barbera vineyard, the rest the lower part of Merenda, Merenda contributes body, Piagallo freshness and salt, mineral,</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Huge macerated herbs greet the nose along with notes of camphor, chalk, a hint of cocoa, and very complex, clear, and firm hints of blackberry with a little creamy edge. This shows real freshness in the mouth and while it is rich, powerful and notably dense , it remains bright and fresh. Rich with pure fruit, black plum and blackberry layered over a firm mineral note. This has a smooth texture supported by bright but not elevated acidity and wrapping up with a long and elegant finish replete with the twang of black cherry twang acids on the finish,. There&rsquo;s great depth to the fruit here with emerging complexity. 92pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Guido Porro Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Santa Caterina $20</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>2 or 3 months in botte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tight, focused and pure on the nose with beautiful aromas of violet tinged black plum and black currant fruit. Bright, lean brilliant fruit greets the palate, edgy with such cut, freshness and purity to the plum skin and earthy raspberry fruit. Quite long on the palate, racy and focused with a hint of minerality on the finish, this is fabulous. An outstanding big-boned yet elegant Barbera. 91pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Brezza Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Superiore $26</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Cannubi Moscatel, Cannubi<br /><br /> Second vintage. One year in large wood, newer wood,</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Musky on the nose with tight chalky aromas and a hint of wood, dark fruit along with soil tones that are spicy and dry. A big wine on entry with lots of power, this is rich and polished with integrated acids, lovely plum and almost black raspberry fruit showing a hint of bramble and briar wood. Smooth polished and moderately long in the mouth, this reveals a deep vein of rosewood on the backend and lovely persistence to the fruit with superb balance and scale in the mouth. &nbsp;Perhaps a touch simple but gorgeously pure. 91pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Chiara Boschis Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $28</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A little minty from wood on the nose but that doesn&rsquo;t detract from the beauty of the candied red fruit gently framed with aromas of rose petals on the nose. Elegant and with perfect richness on the palate this has just the right density of fruit flesh wrapped around the acids. There&rsquo;s great plum and tart red here with a juicy sweetness that remains fresh and right through the long finish that shows a little blueberry and long raspberry finishing notes. This is downright gulpable,so firm and pretty, with fine length and great freshness of fruit. Not the best Barbera of the trip but the one I want to drink the most of. 91pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 &nbsp;Pio Cesare Barbera d&#39;Alba Fides $37</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Planted in a Nebbiolo vineyard attached to ornato in Serralunga, &nbsp;80% barrique, 6000 bottles</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Remarkably brilliant color. A bit oaken the nose with some shoe polish notes but with air aromas of wild black cherries, plums, dates, chocolate, &nbsp;and fruitcake fill the glass. the smells a little sweetly after wood. Decidedly a big wine, round, transparent and still a little rustic in the mouth with fabulously fresh plum skin fruit. One finds mineral edges on the palate balanced by the sweetness from wood, and this remains very aromatic in the mouth, with wonderful herb inflected inner mouth perfumes melding with the light toasty spice notes providing compelling complexity. The cutting acids on the finish are masked on the palate by richness, and this is powerful but lightweight in a good way. Just a bit short today and with oak that is a bit too prominent for my palate, this is still quite good. 91pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Cerretta $52</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dark, spicy and soil driven on the nose with a hint of sweet vanilla candy framing rich dark fruit. Delivering lots of fruit on the attack, this fills the mouth with big plum fruit and shows a hint of black currant jam. Texturally this is quite round, with some tannins contributing to a feel that is a bit chewy and chunky. The acids kick in on the back end and drive the powerful spicy plummy fruit through the very long finish. This is fairly elegant in the mouth though it does show heat on the finish. 91pts<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Burlotto Barbera d&#39;Alba $20</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>only botte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Gorgeous on the nose, just classic Barbera with hints of tart blueberry, mulberry, a whisper of smoke and just gorgeous precise aromas of something sweet, with hints of dried berry fruit, and coffee toned shoe leather. Bright on entry, rich, even broad in the mouth.&nbsp;this is fruit driven, and just joyous in the mouth, showing zesty on the back end then following through with great length and just a whisper of heat on the finish. This lacks the complexity of the best but doesn&#39;t need it, as it&rsquo;s all about clarity and purity which it has in spades. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Ferdinando Principiano Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Laura $20</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>SS</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tight with a little sweetness on the nose and the graphite I find typical of barbera aged in stainless steel. Delicate, juicy, and with fabulous purity in the mouth this is a bit simple with midpalate flavors of ivy and black cherry &nbsp;but with fabulous body Finishing with acid and a lovely gentle sweetness to the black cherry fruit, this is long and pure. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Oddero Barbera d&#39;Asti $24</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> With aromas of cherry, game, balsam, fresh flowers, and sour plum on the nose this shows attractive aromatic complexity. Backed up with power and nuance in the mouth, this is powerful, smooth, and easy going up front, with darker fruit and minerality emerging later on the palate, which is long and finishes with focus and layers of dried red fruit, a touch of old wood, and savory, leathery dried meat notes. Complex and distinctive. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Vietti Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Vigna Scarrone $35</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Minerally on the nose and subtly floral with a little spicy black juniper and a bit of sweet cherry compote. Sweet fruit greets the mouth then this turns taut and a little chewy in the mouth while delivering a rich mouth full of black fruit, spicy with good acids and lots of flesh surrounding the acids. There&rsquo;s a little sweet toasty spice adding detail and length here, but this is pretty powerfully laden with fruit and a few year ageing should see the spice note integrate fully and the deep fruit should relax and extend the already attractive finish. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 &nbsp;Prunotto Barbera d&#39;Asti Costamiole $40</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>100% new barrique</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Smoky but briary on the nose with obvious wood spice supporting rich, dark fruit, this wraps everything up in a gauze of cocoa and tobacco. Rich with fruit, and just a touch softer than one might like yet retaining plenty of acidity, this offers clear and slightly chewy plummy fruit with hints of red currant and raspberries on the palate, finishing very clearly with wood tannins emerging and drying out the palate a touch. Air bring out lots of coffee cream on the nose, but this is a fairly elegant expression of barbera, with a hint of caramel. Not my style but in the style pretty good. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Cascina delle Rose Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Black fruit, a little lime-ade, soil tones and lots of leather come together on the nose in this spicy almost passion fruit, very perfumed, elegant rendition of Barbera. A Little soft on the palate due to the richness and depth of fruit here, though this doesn&rsquo;t feel extracted. &nbsp;Just natural expression of ripeness, focused, with good snap, in a very friendly Barbera that is easy going but still interesting. The texture though is so supple and delicately full, and this has an impressively sweet, long, balsamic toned finish. Really enchanting. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Rizzi Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pretty on the nose with aromas of tight black fruit and wild flowers. Rich and fairly powerful on the palate, this shows off good acids supporting &nbsp;plenty of bright juicy fruit that gains a polished edge with air. Elegant for Barbera, there is great cut and energy on the palate here and good length with dark berry and tart plum fruit that is pure and vivid. Fruit driven in the best sense of the word. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Massolino Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $24</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Aged in concrete and in SS</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Finely focused on the nose with floral laced &nbsp;high toned, black fruit. In the mouth one finds a clean and fresh feel that shows off the classic weight of Barbera. There&rsquo;s just a hint of flesh, soft tannins, good obvious but not high acid all supporting lovely pure of fruit on the palate. Finishing firmly this unfolds in the mouth with mineral notes and a clean, palate cleansing wash of acid on the finale.Perfumed in the mouth, this does seem to be missing just a bit of fruit. 89pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2008 Scarpa Barbera d&rsquo;Asti I Bricchi $34</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>18m in botte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Very pretty wood supported aromas of blue fruit, &nbsp;mineral, ripe plums, leather, asphalt and slightly medicinally tinged black fruit greets the nose. This offers lots of fruit and power up front with a good acid spine supporting the powerful black plum and black cherry flavors. While fairly easy to understand up front, this drops off a bit on the finish, still showing nice life and freshness to the fruit, but leaving one with hints of minerality and incipient complexity that takes some faith. I expect this to improve with a few years of age. 89pts<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Giuseppe Mascarello Barbera Superiore Santo Stefano di Perno $40</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Va, a little spice and red cherry pie on the nose which is a little flat with aromatic rosemary, herbal, and medicinal components. A bit soft on entry, though with lots of superbly fresh red fruit that shows hints of root beer and ivy in the mouth. With, fresh little furry tannins, and decent but not great acidity, this is a pleasure to drink with a medicinal finale and more herbal ivy notes on the moderately long finish. not entirely typical of Barbera though typical of this bottling. 89pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Prunotto Barbera d&#39;Alba $15</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Nicely floral on the nose with streaks of blue fruit, a whiff of smoke and some ash and tart black currant fruit rounding out the aromas. Round fresh and zesty in the mouth, this shows nice depth on the palate and is almost rustic in an attractive way showing savory complexity and attractive nuance. On the palate the acid really drives the wine with nary a tannin to be found, but they are there, soft grape skin tannins. The finish is all cherry and plum skin, tart and slightly astringent and quite fresh in the mouth with an aromatic hint of blackberry preserves on the finale. Kind of textbook Barbera. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Prunotto Barbera d&#39;Asti Fiulot $15</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>All ss</em><br /><br /> Bottling the 2013 now, to be released in 6 weeks<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Very floral on the nose, which shows a bit of freshly ground coffee and black spice along with a hint of fish sauce, though it remains tight and earthy. Clean fresh and bright in the mouth and displaying absolutely pure fruit, this is very pretty with juicy acids that are very Barbera. This still has enough fruit to buffer the acids but this comes off as somewhat mineral on the palate with a bit of black raspberry fruit emerging on the back end leading to a clean, fresh, fairly long black plummy fruited finish. Fun yet this really shows a nice hint of complexity of fruit on the palate. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Francesco Rinaldi Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $24</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>1 year in wood</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Hints of ruby red grapefruit, violet, and soil tones all add attractive complexity to the core of &nbsp;black fruit aromas on the nose. Unusually this shows some new wood on the nose. with a lovely texture, this displays fresh. tart red berry fruit on the palate with integrated but bright acids that are very palate cleansing. There&rsquo;s a little grapefruit on the backend again, and &nbsp;lovely energy to the flavors that are not super complex but so fresh and fun. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Brovia Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Sori del Drago $28</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>SS</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Ash greets the nose with a hint of redux along with aromas of ink, very black fruit, and a little pepperoni Rich with some breadth on entry followed by bright cutting acids supporting very pure black plum skin and black berry that is bright and energetic. There&rsquo;s a hint of mintiness here on the backend that leads to a long acid driven sour cherry finish. Nicely fruit driven. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Brovia Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Ciabot del Fi $32</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>From the Brea vineyard in Serralunga, aged in mid sized barrels and SS,</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A bit tarry and balsamic on the nose with hints of &nbsp;pine cone and pignoli along with a little VA lifted gamy and sour plummy fruit. This is already showing some evolution on the nose. Quite beefy on entry with powerful fruit, good acids but well integrated in the &nbsp;small red fruit and candied plums on the palate. there&rsquo;s also a bit of sweetness on the palate, with acid adding a nice counterpoint. This is smooth and chewy and while long in the mouth it does lack a bit of freshness. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Vietti Barbera d&rsquo;Asti La Crena $40</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lots of red fruit shows up on this sweet nose which picks up a little forest floor and clay soil notes with air. A Touch soft for Barbera, with soft tannins lending this a velvety, easy to drink texture. Lots of plummy, red fruit is large scaled and fresh in the mouth with those tiny tannins making this fun to drink but the finish, slightly jammy but still with plummy red fruit flavors, is a bit on the short side. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Brezza Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Santa Rosalia $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>All SS.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pretty floral, iris aromas with some pencil lead and earth on the nose. In the mouth this is bright, clear and decisive, with excellent energy and transparency of fruit. It&rsquo;s light on the palate with a bit of sweet/tart going on in the mouth, and terrific purity to the raspberry fruit. Picnic styled but superb in the style with nice length on the palate. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Giovanni Sordo Barbera Superiore $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Massucci vineyard in Monforte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Black berry jam is deep on the nose framed with hints of nutty cola and lots of very subtle prosciutto and herb accents. Almost jammy on entry, there&rsquo;s lots of fruit but but tart fruits, jammy wild berry, black frutti del Bosco that pick up nuanced balsamic, forest floor notes on the palate. This shows attractive complexity, though it comes across as a touch dried out, perhaps from its sojourn in wood, where it also picked up some fine grained tannins. Quite serious with savory depth, and some finesse on the finish. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Coppo Barbera d&#39;Asti L&rsquo;Avvocata $15</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Very fruity on the nose and spicy with softly herbal and dried spice notes framing gentle and dusty red berry fruit. A bit chewy early on the palate and with plenty of acidity, this is moderately tannic and has a bit of an stringent nature to it. There&rsquo;s a slightly jammy quality to the red fruit on the palate, and through the long and slightly warm finish. This is simple and a bit raw in the mouth, but certainly a great example of typically zesty Barbera. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Oddero Barbera d&#39;Alba $18</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Nicely focused on the nose with dark floral notes a little earthy, dark plummy fruit, and a little mineral top note. In the mouth this is very clean, fresh and bright, with a character that is a touch on the simple, easy going side. There&rsquo;s nice earthy length here and fine purity to the fruit which is tense and shows a nice mineral edge, growing in the mouth on the finish, which shows good length, but overall this lacks a bit of detail. Easy to drink and delicious but a bit simple. 87pts<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Elvio Cogno Barbera d&#39;Alba Bricco dei Merli $28</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Macerated plums, sandalwood, and jammy boysenberry fruit greet the nose in a rather fruit driven and pronounced way. Round on entry with nice fleshy plum fruit that shows little boysenberry flashes along with a little jammy black currant note and black cherry preserves. This is very well knit, though very fruity in style with soft tannins and a soft feel through the backend before the acid kicks in on the &nbsp;plummy finish. Huge and simple but if you&rsquo;re looking for a fruity barbera this could be magic. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Cavallotto Barbera d&#39;Alba Vigna del Cuculo $30</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Medicinal on the nose with early &nbsp;hints of bit shoe leather followed by fruit that is dark and earthy in style. Dark fruit on entry is surprisingly fresh in the mouth but has a lot of dried fruit and black fruit character. There&#39;s acid here but this shows plenty of flesh black fruit, &nbsp;a little soft edge of tobacco wood spice, in a style that is a little chewy, powerful, and slightly dense yet focused. Fairly long on the finish, this wine impresses with its fruit and richness but lacks the character I look for in Barbera. &nbsp;87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Prunotto Barbera d&#39;Alba Pian Romualdo $30</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>All botte with a part in Acacia, some in new botte since they recently acquired new botte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> An initial whack of wood hits the nose, just too oaky and raw. Once you get past that there is a honeycomb like floralish aroma here, dominated by violets layered atop black currant, and jammy black fruit on the nose with hint of fresh leather and shoe polish. On the palate the fruit does shine through, framed by sweet toasty oak flavors, tart black plum and black berry pop on the palate and while this is arguably better than the standard version it&#39;s less fun to drink. The finish is a bit short, rather rich with fruit but the sweetness of the wood pops quickly then fades leaving light fruit and acid to dissipate fairly quickly. &nbsp;87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Einaudi Barbera $35</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>A vineyard selection</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tight on the nose with hints of pencil shavings and a bit of toasty oak over reticent fruit. This offers up great mouthfeel, a bit soft for Barbera but still has good acids, &nbsp;just a bit fleshy yet retaining nice transparency on the palate for a big wine that shows a hint of woody sweetness accenting the somewhat simple black plum and &nbsp;black raspberry fruit. The wood tannins emerge on the backend, and air brings out some lovely hints of violets on the nose and adds to the chewy character on the backend and sticky note on the finale. A bit too forced and extracted. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Barale Barbera d&#39;Alba Preda $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Prosciutto, crushed berry fruit, tree bark, ink, and hints of smoky, candle wax and cocoa greet the nose with great nuance. In the mouth this is pretty round and decidedly big on the back end with a powerful, round finish that shows good persistence to the dark berry fruit. In spite of its size this is pretty easy going on the palate, not soft, but supple for Barbera with fairly long, easy finish. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Francesco Clerico Barbera d&#39;Alba 13% $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Quite fruity on the nose with VA offering lift to the aromas of black fruit, blackberry, black currant, and a little shoe black and almond over nuanced minerality. Very fresh in the mouth, with a texture that is clear and bright. the fruit here is very clear on the palate and very light for modern Barbera. The fine tannins and bright acids support ripe plum skin and black cherry skin flavors. While a bit short and showing a bit of volatility, this is quite engaging on the palate. &nbsp;87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Giovanni Sordo Barbera d&#39;Alba $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Attractively vinous on the nose with mineral and gently smoky aromas that still show a hint of malo. Bright acids temper a little fruit sweetness early on the palate, then this turns mineral through the midpalate, with flavors of red plums and blackberries that are simple but nicely balanced. Acid is present but there&#39;s a softness to this wine with a very fruity backend that shows just a suggestion of grapes skin tannin. The finish shows a soft fruitiness making this super easy to drink. fruity but boy is this long. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Casa Scarpa Barbera d&rsquo;Asti Casa Scarpa $18</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>All SS</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Big black fruits on the nose with hints of shoe polish, lots of black cherry fruit, and a little spicy blue floral and graphite background notes. Smooth and rich in the mouth, a nice bit of flesh helps to cover the acid on the midpalate, then the acids drive the finish. A little chunky and raw with lots of mineral and blue fruit on the finish. This is a bit tough going today, too raw and aggressive in the mouth without enough flesh to cover the acids through the finish. 84pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Coppo Barbera d&rsquo;Asti Camp du Rouss $20</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dark, earthy and funky on the nose this shows Barbera as the fruit begins to fade leaving behind complex spice, earth, and dried red and black fruit aromas along with some obvious VA. Smooth, supple and polished in the mouth, while the fruity aromas have faded significantly here the plummy, slightly dried cherry flavors remain on the palate along with earthy edges and a dark mineral edge. The finish is quite abrupt here, with some drying wood tannins appear on the palate here. &nbsp;A bit rustic and rough around the edges, with a touch of wood tannin picked up in barrel turning this harder in the mouth. The VA really blooms in the glass and is excessive making this tough to drink. This is usually a classic but this bottle at least is flawed and undrinkable.&nbsp;</p> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5522 Pinot Gris(gio): Yea or nay? <p><div><br /> Yesterday we had a run down of some recently released Pinot Gris. While there were some truly lovely wines in that selection, Pinot Gris remains a divisive wine. Many typical consumers love the way the wine fits comfortably between the richness of Chardonnay and the acid driven dinginess of Sauvignon Blanc, and without Sauvy&rsquo;s often off putting herbaceous character.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In my hour of weakness, while considering whether to simply let that sleeping dog lay or to give it a figurative kick, I turned to my fellow wine writers to see what they had to say on the subject. Not surprisingly they were divided! Some love the wine, some hated it! Find out why as we ask our wine writing friends.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Photo courtesy <a href=",_King_Estate,_Oregon.jpg">wikipedia commons</a></em></div><br /> <br /> </p> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5518 Time to Ponder Pinot Gris(gio) Gregory Dal Piaz <p><div><br /> I&rsquo;ve been through this so many times before that it becomes rote. The differences between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio. Well, there really aren&rsquo;t any, when we are referring to the grapes. One is the name in French while the other is the name in Italian. When it comes to the wines though, there remains some distinction, though that is disappearing as producers seem to be tuning their style towards a price point today, rather than a regional expression.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> That is not entirely fair of course. There are certainly regional expressions. Pinot Gris from Alsace continues to be richer, spicier and generally sweeter than Pinot Grigio from northern Italy, which historically has always been about crispness, freshness, and juicy fruit. Bottles labeled as Pinot Grigio, regardless of origin, generally had those traits while bottlings using the Pinot Gris nomenclature generally showed more of that Alsatian style. Today that is increasingly not true.</div><br /> </div><br /> <br /> It seems to me that Pinot Gris is simply winning the battle of the greys, both grigio and gris mean grey in their respective languages, in more ways than one. More producers around the globe are using Pinot Gris on their labels but perhaps more importantly, even more are putting something more stylistically akin to Pinot Gris in the bottle, no matter what the label says.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While the overall level of quality for these wines continues to improve, it&rsquo;s not helpful for the consumer to have to wonder about a bottle of wine. whether it will be sweet or dry, soft or acidic. it&rsquo;s a wonder that Pinot Gris(gio) continues to be as successful as it has been, but maybe that is a bit of an illusion driven by the massive numbers sold by a handful of Italian producers. In truth some of those wines, remarkably inexpensive as they are, offer tremendous value to the casual wine drinker. Easy to drink, fruity, and light on the palate, they offer a real alternative to Chardonnay or Sauvignon blanc, falling roughly between those two varieties.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Once we move away from the true volume producers a funny thing happens. The inexpensive options seem to all get a little sweet on the palate, reflecting both the grapes naturally fruity character, but also the current trend towards wines that have enough residual sugar in them to be soft, fruity, and frankly sweet. While with red wines this has been the domaine of the &ldquo;innovative&rdquo; red blend, with Pinot Gris, in particular, there is a historical precedent for these wines. And let&rsquo;s not forget that Chardonnay in California received a big boost when it went from being a dry wine to being a &ldquo;dry&rdquo; wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> People love their little touch of sweetness in wine. It make the fruity flavors fruitier, covers the acid, and makes the wine easier to drink, particularly on its own as so much wine in this country is consumed. So it&rsquo;s not surprising to find that Pinot Gris(gio) is now sweeter on the whole than it was a few years ago. That is not universally true as i see many producers in Oregon, for example, reigning in their sugar levels. And incidentally, as if further proof was needed considering the Rieslings and Chardonnays, Oregon continues to emerge as the greatest terroir for white wines in the US, Pinot Gris included.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One interesting result of this tasting was that there appears to be a real difference between the quality of the less expensive and more expensive wines samples for this report. Five of the six most expensive examples finished atop the leaderboard, with the least expensive examples clustered towards the bottom. And while there were some outliers in the middle, the difference between the two price categories was quite significant.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Still there were two standouts at the $15 price point, one predictably from Italy, the other surprisingly from Idaho. Which just goes to show how well Pinot Grigio can do just about anywhere it&rsquo;s planted. For my palate though the wines tend to be a bit too fruity, and while not my favorite I can appreciate many of these wines for the way they express the distinct varietal character of this grape that is beloved around the world.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Vista Hills Pinot Gris Treehouse Willamette Valley 13.8% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweet, nutty and candied on the nose witha fascnatinglycomplex array of fruit, berry, apple, lime, floral, savory/spicy and candied aromas. Sweet on entry and obviously so but in the mouth the acids here do a fine job of balancing the sweetness and while the explosion of aromas on the nose doesn&#39;t quite come across on the palate this does offer up rich fruit flavors with an earthy edge to them all wrapped up in a juicy, suave yet soft and creamy texture. The finish is fairly long with lovely nutty undertones, a hint of minerality and fine length to the floral toned fruit. A fascinating and beautiful wine, even iritis a touch too sweet formy a palate. Break out some stinky wash rind cheeses. &nbsp;92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Willakenzie Estate Pinot Gris Yamhill-Carlton 14.3% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Polleny on the nose with hints of bitter melon and unripe pear fruit laid over a sweet, almost buttery, creamy nuance. Sweet for the first second then this turns bright and juicy with I rant acids that dance on the palate. There&#39;s a fine balance of fresh fruit and intensity here and frankly this holds it&#39;s alcohol astoundingly well. &nbsp;The finish is fresh and clear with a suggestion of wildflowers and honey layered over creamy apple and white peach fruit. A grand bottle of Pinot Gris that straddles the line between the finest examples from Italy and Alsace. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Tenutae Lageder Pinot Grigio Porer Alto-Adige 12.5% $24</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Reticent on the nose with hints of soil, wild flowers, honeycomb and dried pear fruit topped with some toasty nuance. Rich on entry, the not insignificant acidity here manages to stay in the background while fully supporting the bright, if earthy fruit flavors on the palate. A lovely nuance of bitter almond appears on the palate adding complexity and contrast to the sweet orchard fruit flavors. This finish with power and a flourish, subtly spicy and with a touch of quartz adding a hint of salinity on the finale. Elegant, refined and complex. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Redbank Pinot Gris Sunday Morning King Valley Australia 12.5% $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweet tart on the nose with layered aromas of pear, nori seaweed, citrus pith and rose petals. A bit on the subtle side, this has a very attractive texture, transparent, gossamer thin yet with some tensile strength and energy behind the mineral and apple core flavors. The acidity is nicely supportive and brings out a fine mineral note on the backend that leads to a modest yet right and refreshing finish. I wish this were a bit longer in the mouth and in truth it makes me think of Muscadet as much as Pinot Gris, but I do like this quite a bit. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 13.5% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit earthy with hints of dried apple fruit on the nose along with a spicy, honeycomb like character. Elegant and fresh in the mouth, this is transparent and dances on the palate. Neither rich nor intense, this is more a wine of finesse with zesty apple fruit and a touch of river stones on the palate and through the moderately long, grapefruit pith tinged finish. Gently fruity with a shade of bitterness adding some detail to the palate. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio delle Dolomiti 12.5% $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight on the nose with subtle aromas of pressed flowers, citrus pith and pear skin. Fruity with good intensity in the mouth this skirts the limits of a lightweight wine, showing a bit of depth and viscosity on the palate while delivering the classic fresh flavors of crabapple, pear and subtly polleny spice. The finish is edgy and decisive with a touch of astringency that refreshes the palate along with hints of bitter nuts and lemon. This is roughly what Pinot Grigio should be. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Sawtooth Pinot Gris Snake River Valley Idaho 12.7% $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Quite fragrant and floral on the nose with spicy notes that recall cardamom and coriander layered over crisp Asian pear fruit and salty mineral tones. Round and bright in the mouth with a lovely blend of fruitiness and fresh minerality in the mouth. This is vibrant on the palate with orange cream and pear fruit but there is a lovely mineral/savory basenote that adds complexity and tension in the mouth Clean and brisk on the finish, this is fairly long with a hint of creamy pineapple and plenty of acidity on the finale. Fairly intense and nicely varietal in the mouth with an attractive freshness and clarity to the fruit. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Sockeye Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley 13% $10</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mineral, slightly savory and rich with green apples on the nose this smells tense and nervous. High acid on entry and still with a hint of trapped co2, this is a high wire of a wine with steely mineral character, dried apple peel flavors and crisp acids. Clean if a bit short on the finish, where this turns savory once again, this is a bit simple but pure and electric in the mouth with a sneaky mangosteen finish. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Hahn Winery Pinot Gris Monterey 14.5% $14</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A little green pear greets the nose along with some yeasty notes and sweetly candied citrus notes. Pretty big in the mouth with a hint of RS adding weight and richness on the palate, theres plenty of acid to balance it and nice underlying polyphenolic pear skin. Internets that adds a nice counterpoint to the almost melony sweetness on the palate. Spicy and fresh on the modest finish, this is rather boldly flavored and rich. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Redbank Pinot Gris The Long Paddock Victoria Australia 14% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dusty with a touch of resin on the nose over leafy green herb flecked apple aromas along with hints of mint. Elegant and refined in th enough, this is subtle but well defined on the palate with clear white apple and Asian pear flavors that are wrapped around subtle mineral and bitter apple seed notes. A bit rounder and richer than the Sunday Morning from the same producer, this is perhaps more varietal but at the same time I find it shorter and a bit less interesting, though it also has a terrific texture. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 J Vineyards &amp; Winery Pinot Gris California 13.8% $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight, fresh, lemony and slightly muscatty with floral notes on the nose. &nbsp;In the mouth this is lighter that you might expect front he nose with simple yet fresh flavors of sweet apple and pears buttressed by gently supporting acids. It&#39;s a Iight and fresh wine that turns more citrusy with air and gains a subtle chalky note on the fairly long finish that ends with a classic pop of spicy apple fruit. &nbsp;Light, fresh and pure. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Kenwood Pinot Gris Russian River Valley 13.5% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This is certainly pungent, and fruity though with aromas of tropical fruit leaning towards guava along with cooked apricot and melon it is somewhat atypical. Gentle on the palate, a little swet and with fruity flavors that recall the nose but show nice restraint this is a very appealing wine to a broad spectrum of consumer looking for something a bit complex, easy to drink and yet not without weight in the mouth and fresh fruit character. Rather clean and bright on the finish with an appealing underlying astringency and peach pit character, this is an interesting drink. &nbsp;86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Hoyt Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio California 14.1% $22</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dried herb and leafy notes greets the nose joined by aromas of sweet candied grape, honey, old wood, a hint of forest floor and lovely nuanced floral aromas. Small scaled and bright in the mouth, this is driven by acids that keep the palate fresh even if the fruit has a dried edge to it, slightly spricotty and with a hint of fig and dried herb on the backend. The finish is modest and shows more fresh fig character. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Alois Lageder Riff Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 12% $10</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Perfumed on the nose with gentle dried floral and apple skin notes along with hints of chestnut and dried lemon peel. Round in the mouth without much detail while delivering polleny orchard fruit flavors. There&#39;s enough acid here and some mineral note but this is rather boring if cleanly made. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Da Luca Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 12.5% $13</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fairly neutral on the nose with pithy citrus aromas, hints of pistachio, and some raw green herbal notes. &nbsp;Bright and juicy in the mouth, this does deliver some attractive citrus fruit and pith flavors early on the palate and reverts to that hint of pistachio and pithy character with a hint of honey on the backend through the modest if clean and gently fruity and even mineral toned finish. Perfectly serviceable. &nbsp;84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Oxford Landing Estates Pinot Grigio South Australia 12.5% $9</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit reduced on the nose though with air this reveals twiggy herbal and juicy red apple aromas with a touch of fig on the nose. A touch sweet on entry, there is enough acidity to keep this live.y on the palate but that touch of sugar remains obvious, a decided plus for some consumers. This is a bit of a simple wine with fresh apple fruit and a touch of dried herbal nuance that lingers on the sugar lengthened, yet clean finish. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Geyser Peak Pinot Grigio California 13% $10</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit earthy with hints of dried fruit and lemon curd on the nose. This smells a lot like a lemon square. A hint of sweetness early on the palate is followed by good acids that help keep this from oozing across the palate and losing its shape. The fruit shows a bit of a dried fruit, dried citrus peel character along with rich hints of peach and fig on the palate. Short on the finish with pithy citrus flavors and a hint of peach, this is serviceable with a texture that lets you know you are. Drinking something. The tension on the finale, between sugar and weirdly assertive acids is a bit off putting. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Parducci Pinot Gris Small Lot Blend Mendocino County 13% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Aromas of lemon hard candy greet the nose along with a suggestion of spearmint and green pear skins. &nbsp;A bit soft in the mouth, though very broad, this is rather mouth filling with subtle flavors of raw nut meats, green apples and citrus pith along with a little cooked fruit character. Easy drinking with a very modest finish, this smells better than it tastes. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Colavita Pinot Grigio Trentino 12.5% $13</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Candied lemon notes and aromas of honey dominate the nose along with gentle orange fruit gel notes. This is soft and easy going in the mouth. A subtle nutty note punctuates the rather neutral citrus flavors that are rather flat on the palate with no discernible acidity and a very modest finish. 78pts</div><br /> </p> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5516