Victor Vineyards Roadside Red
Fun little Zinfandel-based bottle from the town of Victor in California’s Central Valley. Red fruit, port-y raisins, licorice, and milk chocolate notes. My current “house red” for everyday drinking.
A serious red from Portugal for very little money. A fistful of mineral and a gritty mouthful of tannin. Ripe, dark fruit, and Belgian chocolate appear as the wine opens. It could be cellared for 5-7 years with impressive results.
Pillar Box Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
This should be priced at $20 to $25, but it’s not. Its high quality will be evident to anyone picking up a bottle (and I suggest you do). Cedar, smoke, dynamic, lush fruit, with full-bodied, well-balanced, and excellent texture. What else could you want?
Dr Pauly Bergweiler Riesling Kabinett Wehlener Sonnenuhr
A balance of peach and Meyer lemon with an undercurrent of ginger. The attack is fleshy pear, and the finish a bright, mineral whoosh—a sexy and versatile wine from one of the best vineyards in Mosel, Germany.
Top French Wine Buys
Domaine St Eugene Corbieres Rouge
Corbieres is a wide swath of vineyards in the Languedoc of France. This bottle captures some of the best aspects of this Mediterranean wine region—dense dark fruit with a dose of minerality that veers toward iron and earth. Floral and spice notes in the finish complicate things nicely. This would be perfect for a simple beef stew.
No 2 et No 5 de Francarney Fronsac
Fronsac is an unheralded wine region in Bordeaux, often producing excellent bottles at affordable prices. This bottle is no exception—beautiful aromas of burnt cherry wood and allspice on the nose. Lush plum and Rainier cherries are followed by Earl Grey tea and cracked coriander notes on the palate.
Chateau Carignan “Prima” Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux
This is the second release of the “Prima” offered up by the PLCB. The first was 2005, which we opened at the Wine School just a few months ago to the pleasure of our students. Chateau Carignan’s wines are showing great finesse and beauty after a few years in the cellar. 2008 is going to fare in the same manner. While a bit tight right now, give it five years in the cellar for maximum enjoyment.
Top Italian Wine Buys
Coli Villa Montignana Chianti Classico Riserva
Aromas of Birchbark, jasmine, and old suede on the nose. The palate offers up a rustic version of Chianti, with unrefined tannins, bright acidity, and Bing cherry flavors. The finish veers towards refinement with toasted mocha and ripe blackberries. A lovely wine; I wish that the PLCB would stop claiming this wine has a retail value of $40. The only place in the world that this wine costs that much is a single shop in Malaysia.
Zisola Nero d’Avola
Another repeat offender in the Chairman’s Selection program. When this wine was first released in Pennsylvania, Jonathan Newman was still the chairman of the PLCB. I am glad to see this wine back, as it’s a great introduction to Nero d’Avola. Medium-bodied and boasting flavors of dark fruit compote, the wine opens into burnt earth and wet basil.
Tedeschi Amarone della Valpolicella
For years, the popularity of Amarone kept pushing prices higher and higher. Whether it was the Great Recession or simply a movement of American tastes away from this particular style, prices have started to soften. And that is a great thing for us wine lovers. This bottle is one of the more complex and nuanced bottlings, with damson plum and smoked chocolate notes mingling with wildflowers and fennel pollen.