Wine Reviews

Posted by Keith Wallace

Tormaresca “Trentangeli” Castel del Monte

I am a big fan of Aglianico, but it isn’t a crowd-pleaser. It’s more like the Metallica of the wine world. Even some of our sommelier friends balk at the molten minerality of the grape. So I’ve been waiting for a smooth version of this overtly aggressive wine, and this is it.

This bottle is accessible and elevated, with cassis, espresso, and toasted vanilla barrel notes throughout the fleshy structure. There are also beautiful aromas of wet earth and savory spices that open up on the finish.

Glenelly “The Glass Collection” Syrah, Stellenbosch

When this bottle dropped into the shelves of my local wine shop, I hoarded it like a squirrel sitting on a lifetime supply of black truffles. It wasn’t for personal consumption (that’s what the Yuengling is for): This was the perfect bottle of Syrah for our Wine 101 classes.  For a syrah under $25, it had more bang for the buck than a hitman in a speedo contest. If a Milkyway bar and a bag of teriyaki beef jerky had a love child, it would grow up to be this wine.

Shirvington Shiraz, McLaren Vale 

Kim Jackson is one of my favorite winemakers. She knows how to tame the beast that is Aussie Shiraz. Burnt incense, toasted allspice, and chocolate-covered cherries bobbing in a gigantic vat of blackberry jam. Oh, and the tannins are as big and round as the face of a velvet dolphin—pure hedonism.

Zotovich Estate Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

The wine regions tucked away in Santa Barbara are the best-kept secrets in American wine.  Taut red fruit with layers of wild rose and honeysuckle. It is a lithe expression of Pinot Noir that offers great finesse and clarity.

Wynns “Black Label” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra

This is the wine that put Coonawarra on the map as one of the world’s top regions for growing Cabernet Sauvignon.  Scents of dried roses and cigar ash mix with aromas of fresh, dark fruit.  Fruit flavors veer towards plum and cassis, while spice notes —cardamom, allspice, cinnamon—begin with the attack and follow through to the finish.

Robert Young Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Scion Estate

A five-generation family of farmers turned winemakers in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. How could you go wrong? Aromas of Earl Grey tea and hibiscus are balanced with fresh mint and tobacco. The wine is rich and voluptuous, with flavors of sun-dried plum and fresh red fruit accented by cedar and allspice. The finish moves toward chocolate and allspice but then rises into espresso and raspberry.

Venus La Universal “Dido” Montsant 

One of the most romantic wines we tasted all year. Our Advanced Sommelier students became so enamored of this bottling that they raided wine stores in three counties to stock their cellars.

Dried lavender on the nose, with blue fruits and a wisp of a forest floor. Flavors of smoke and mineral intermix with orange blossoms and tart cherries. Medium-bodied with a sexy lushness that is backed up with structured tannins and an open, appealing freshness.

Anzivino Gattinara

For all the  Barolo I’ve tasted this year, this Nebbiolo from up north charmed the hell out of me. I wish I had a few more bottles. Aromas of crushed lilac rose water and sage. Rum raisin and cherry compote fill in the edges with a bit of wood smoke. On the palate, it is elegant with bright acids and finely-grained tannins.

Delille Cellars “D2” Columbia Valley

All of a sudden, our sommelier students are in complete love with  Washington State wines.  We’ve had to run two classes on the subject to keep up with demand. This wine (along with the 2:2 reviewed back in 2016)  may have something to do with it.

Complex aromas of burnt cedar, ocean air, and marjoram fill the nose. Flavors of anise and dried plum move into vanilla and cardamom on the palate. The finish reveals savory herbs and dark berries.  

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