Category Archives: Review

Gina Nero D’Avola

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2010
Sicily, Italy

The light cherry bouquet wafting up from my glass was an auspicious start to this Sicilian charmer, which didn’t let me down when it hit my tongue. Tart and sassy she is, making the most of a simple boysenberry and oak core with a gentle but lingering finish. Sometimes, all you want is a glass of decent wine after a long day–this one fits the bill nicely.

%15 at BevMo…but just $10 for ClubBev members–a much better price match.

Tormaresca NePriCa

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2009
Puglia, Italy

The funny name for this wine comes from a blend of three grapes–Negroamaro (40%), Primitivo (30%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (30%). Negroamaro (“bitter black”) is a varietal unfamiliar to me until now–grown primarily in Puglia, Italy’s heel, and characterized by a particular bitterness. I definitely got that in the finish; not overpowering, but very distinctive. The Cab no doubt balances that out.

Dry and dusty in the nose, NePriCa is a beautiful, velvety scarlet with substantial legs. There’s definitely a lot of licorice up front (hello, Primitivo), a peppery center and a redolent perfume of cherries, cassis, and flowers. Very earthy and mineral-y. Then there’s that bitter finish, with just a tinge of sweetness at the very end. It’s interesting to taste a blend where each grape’s personality stands out so clearly, like instruments in a symphony. Drinks far beyond its very reasonable $10 price.

Gina Chianti DOCG

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2009
Prato, Italy

So this is the only chianti I picked from BevMo!’s 33% off sale (shocking, I know). I just love a good, honest chianti. Not afraid to be a little acidic, or tannic, or a little punchy in the finish. Maybe it doesn’t have the finesse of a pinot or the bold structure of a cabernet, but chianti doesn’t care: it’s humble, it’s flavorful, it’s salt of the earth — and proud of it.

Gina’s delicious example is easy on the acidity, so maybe it’s not exactly what I think of when I hear the word “chianti,” but it’s somehow still true to its roots. Super inky, but not super thick. Juicy, ripe boysenberries and plums. Mmmm. Nice, long, leathery finish with that piquant tartness that tickles the back part of your tongue. It is literally mouthwatering. And there’s that shadow of moldy soil that echoes aftterwards, too…what a curious and tantalizing place for my tastebuds to go. It’s a journey in every glass.

Currently available at BevMo! for $17; it was a lot cheaper before February 6, 2012 — and I wish I had stocked up.

 

Fratelli Nero D’Avola

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2009
Sicily, Italy

From the Tuscan hillside to the tip of Sicily, my journey through BevMo’s Italian varietals continues. And what this modestly priced offering lacks in elegance it makes up for in liveliness.

Nero d’Avola (“Avola Black”) is indigenous to Sicily, named for the Avola region in the far south from which it hails. The varietal has traditionally been used in blends to add color (it’s a beautiful, dark, purply red) and body, but it’s starting to come into its own. Fratelli’s definitely displays the peppery/spicy notes for which the grape is known, but those are anchored by rich, plummy tannins and an oaky finish: a nicely structured combo of fruit, spice and earth. It’s fun to drink: a perfect party wine, or switch it out for beer the next time you’re ordering pizza.

I didn’t love it at first sip, I’ll admit, and it was dry as a bone to my palate. A few hours of breathing, however, really let the sweetness come through and brought the fruit front and center. At $10 on sale it’s a good value, especially for everyday drinking. But at the regular retail price of $15? Eh, you could do better.

Part of BevMo!’s 33% off sale–get it while the $10 price tag lasts!

Argiano Non Confunditur

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2009
Tuscany, Italy

Feeling my Italian roots this week. Too much going on at the moment for making gnocchi, so I contented myself with a bunch of vino courtesy of BevMo!’s 33% off sale. This was a great opportunity for some branching out — my recent pinot and shiraz addiction has kept me in a Transpacific rut between California and Australia for months. I know not every wine lover can appreciate the youthful exuberance of Italian varietals and styles (including most of my close wino buddies, who leave me to sip my chianti in solitude) but this one finds much to appreciate in what the Boot kicks stateside.

So without further ado…I present Non Confunditur from Argiano in Tuscany. The name comes from the Latin motto on the Argiano’s crest, and loosely translates to “don’t get confused.” I love that motto, but let’s be ┬áhonest: such playfulness attests to the trend of Italian winemakers looking to the New World more and more as they create their wines and marketing strategy. Not sure that’s a good thing, but que sera sera.

NC is a delicious blend of French and Italian grapes: 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Syrah, 20% Sangiovese. It’s rich and full and very earthy, even a little musty. Even the color is kind of…dirty. There’s that smoky tobacco and leather in the long finish. Real grapy and oaky in the nose. But inside those layers is a nice plum and red fruit core that coats the tongue. I totally love this wine — it was worth the $18 (after discount; normally it retails for $27) and I’m enjoying every drop.

Dinner awaits. The pasta is not forthcoming due to aforementioned “stuff” so we’ll just have to see how NC holds up to hot dogs. Si, Nonna — hot dogs Americano; non salsiccia. I’m sorry Nonna.

On sale now at BevMo!

Cameron Hughes Lot 230 Cabernet Sauvignon

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Cameron Hughes Lot 230 Cabernet2009
Chalk Hill
Sonoma County, California

Extra tar, hold the jam. An inky and serious powerhouse of a cab, with plums, cassis and cedar in the nose and a surprisingly supple mouthfeel. Oak, smoke and coffee at the core, with an undertone of licorice and that tar-and-leather finish that glides smoothly off your palette. This wine is not subtle, but it is surprisingly elegant, and delicious on its own (although undoubtedly it would be dynamite with steak and roasts).

Get it at www.chwine.com or available for a time at CostCo.

Emile Chandesais Bourgogne Pinot Noir

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2009
Burgundy, France

Pert and lighter bodied with cranberry, oak and a touch of smoke. I’m not really a fan of the tartness this Burgundy-style pinot exhibits, but I suspect a decent food pairing would dull that tannic edge. Salmon (of course), lighter pasta dishes, pizza, and maybe some roast turkey? What I do like is the gentle yet persistent finish; a lingering essence of musty leather, which sounds terrible but works somehow–it’s that earthiness Burgundy varietals are known for, no? You might give it a spin if you can find it on sale, but I personally wouldn’t pay full dollar.

On sale now at BevMo!

Vigilance Cimarron

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Vigilance Cimarron 20102010
Lake County, California

Fruit and spice, earth and oak–there’s something for everyone in this sparkling red blend, perfect for the holidays and sustainably farmed in Lake County. Berries and plums dance in the bouquet, and the pallet is full and lively with tart blackberry and allspice. There’s a chewy core of leathery oak, too, to back up those exuberant top notes. The finish is deep, rich and creamy. A seasonal celebration in every glass!

On sale now at BevMo! Stock up for Christmas and beyond! (I certainly intend to.)

Penfolds Rawson’s Retreat Cabernet Sauvignon

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2009
Australia

Dusky and earthy with great depth of character. Dried cherries and cedar and a bit of smoke give it a heady aroma. Loads of flavor: tart raspberries tickle the tip of the tongue while the rest of it is coated in luscious licorice and leather. Rich and oh, so yummy. A wonderful choice if you like them big but not jammy.

Kirkland Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon

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Kirkland Cab

2008
Napa Valley

Damn…what squid did this inky Cab ride in on? Black and opaque with some cuh-razy legs! You would not believe how smooth this black beauty is, though…and I still find it hard to believe it’s the Kirkland label! Delectable aroma of vanilla and raspberries and spice, with soft berries up front, a gentle pepper edge, and a silky finish with a touch of coffee. Elegant from start to finish; Costco does the varietal proud.