VinoTasting December 2012 Tasting Report

Our tasting panel meets several times monthly to taste wines blind, thus providing unbiased evaluations of the newest wine releases.

Best Buy ratings are given for those wines that we feel offer exceptional quality for their price. Most "Best Buy" wines are $20 or less.
Best Wine ratings distinguish exceptional quality wines of any price point, when compared with other similar wines.
For each issue our editors sometimes share their impressions about wines that stand out in the tasting.

VinoTasting Panel Tasting November 20, 2012

Sparkling Wines, Sweet White Wines
Gérard Bertrand 2010 Crémant de Limoux Brut $14 Best Buy!
70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, 10% Mauzac. Pale straw, medium-sized bubbles with medium persistence, distinct aromas of white mushrooms, marzipan, tree fruit (apple, pear skin), with a bitter, apricot pith finish. Aggressive mousse. Pair with Waldorf salad, warm brie with sautéed mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts. 11.5% abv.

Bagrationi 2007 Brut Reserve Georgia


Respectable Sparkler!
Chinebuli, Mtsvane, Tsitska. Méthode Champenoise. Bright medium lemon. Yeasty, waxy nose. Toffee, butterscotch, lemon curd, freshly roasted Brazil nuts. Creamy, rich, balanced acidity, and texturally pleasing. Persistent butterscotch finish. 13% abv.

Bagrationi 2007 Royal Cuvée Brut Georgia $38  
100% Chinebuli. Méthode Champenoise. Bright medium gold, medium sized bubbles with quick persistence; intense nose of caramel apple, brioche, also fresh golden apple, banana; full bodied with crisp acidity, lacking some depth just on the back end. Very fresh bread ­ sourdough - flavors with high toned lemon nuances. Best with buttery scallop or shrimp scampi dishes, fish with gastrique or beurre blanc to match acidity. 13% abv.

Mionetto Prosecco Treviso NV $11 Best in Class, Best Buy!
This is a great example of its style, with pale lemon and green tints, fresh and candied melon, peach, jasmine, green apple jolly rancher, and honeysuckle aromas and flavors. Fresh, medium bodied, soft, pleasant, with good persistence. 11% abv.

Barefoot Pinot Grigio Brut NV California $8 Great Value!
Very pale straw, almost colorless, with large bubbles. Aromas and flavors of ripe red apple and honey; very soft with an off-dry taste. A great cocktail wine or as a canvas for cocktails. 11.5% abv.

Barefoot Moscato Spumante NV California $8 Best in Class, Best Buy!
Pale straw color. Fresh green apple plus apple skin aromas; very grapey and floral with additional notes of canned peaches. A touch of zing on the long, pleasant finish. Not cloying. A wine with mass appeal. "Gives Italian Asti a run for its money". "Remarkably good for the price". (WD) 10.5% abv.

Barefoot Pink Moscato Spumante NV California $8  
Pale pink color. Fresh peach, red apple, rose petal, and fresh fennel aromas. Sweeter than their white Moscato, really fragrant and appealing to the masses. Incredibly drinkable. Long finish. 9.5% abv.

Zonin Asti Dolce NV $13 Best Buy!
Pale lemon color. Smells and tastes exactly like an orange creamsicle. Nice foamy texture, with pretty acacia and jasmine flavors. Quite sweet but fresh. 7.5% abv.

Zonin Baccorosa Dolce Vino Spumante NV $13 Best Buy!
Deep salmon color, interesting, fun complexity here, with aromas of blood oranges and roses, candied blood orange peel flavors, candied ruby grapefruit, orange pekoe tea, and hibiscus. Delicious on its own or for building cocktails. 7% abv.

Mionetto Spriz "Product of Italy" NV $11 Surprisingly Unique!
Watered-down electric orange color, ready to drink take on the Aperol Spritz. "It's the RTD for the hipster, should come packaged in a skinny jean canteen." (WD) Great for picnics or for busy hosts. Serve over ice garnished with green olives or an orange slice. 8% abv.

Rosemount 2012 Moscato SE Australia $9 Best in Class, Best Buy!
Bright pale lemon color, with fresh jasmine, and spicy floral aromas along with fresh green grapes. A tangy, fun, upbeat, balanced, lightly fizzy refresher. 8.5% abv.

Lange Twins 2011 Moscato Clarksburg, CA
Estate Grown
$16 Best Wine!
Pale straw color. Intense rose perfume, orange blossom, white peach, unripe blood orange, fresh ruby grapefruit zest. A very distinctive, unforgettable style. Stands out. Off-dry but with quite high, bright acid for balance, interest, and lift. A still wine, not pétillant like the other Moscatos. 11% abv.

Mionetto Cuvee Rosé "1887" Extra Dry NV Italy $15 Best Buy!
Bright medium salmon color. Tart, zesty, loaded with red fruits, like raspberry, fresh and dried cranberry, and pomegranate. Very barely extra dry. Lacking some intensity on the finish and has some phenolic grip. An intriguing apéritif wine, perfect with smoked salmon or game meats such as Lamb Merguez sausage with spiced yogurt, harissa, curry, or roasted game birds with fresh cherry sauce. 11.5% abv.

Dry White Wines
Martin Códax 2011 Albariño Rías Baixas $15 Best in Class, Best Buy!
Pale lemon color, medium body, white peach pit, lemon pith, saline, bracing minerality, begs for raw seafood doused with fresh lemon. Ever so slight yeasty note, excellent acid-weight balance. 12.5% abv.

Doria 2009 Luberon Grand Terroir $13  
50% Vermentino, 50% Grenache Blanc, 5% Clairette, 5% Roussanne. Slightly past peak, otherwise would be elevated to 3.5 stars. Pale lemon color, with good intensity aromas of green plum, bay leave, quince, and blanched almonds, with a slightly bitter phenolic finish. On the palate, additional flavors of white peach with a full, soft texture and decent length. We all agree we'd love to see this at peak freshness, upon release. 13% abv.

Standing Sun 2011 "Le Blanc" Santa Barbara $24 Great Splurge Wine!
45% Grenache Blanc, 35% Viognier, 20% Roussanne. Medium gold color. "This wine intrigues me." (WD) Aromas of browned butter, toast, honey, nectarine, apricot, caramel, and gingerbread spice. Full bodied, moderate acid, but balanced, fresh. Hedonistic style. Tasted @ 55°F yet surprisingly fresh and
balanced, with well-integrated alcohol and oak. 14.3% abv.

Laguna 2010 Chardonnay "Laguna Ranch Vineyard" Russian River Valley $26  
Bright, medium lemon color. Aromas of cream soda, spiced pear compote, toast/vanilla oak, mango. Full bodied with low acidity and a very creamy texture with that cream soda note coming through on the palate along with banana float. Super-ripe style, long finish. "The Marie Antoinette of Sonoma Chardonnay. Let them eat cake." (WD) 14.5% abv.

Standing Sun 2011 Rosé Santa Barbara $20 Best in Class, Best Splurge
100% Grenache. Deep, bright pink. Wild strawberry jam, candied raspberry, tinges of herbs and white pepper. Incredibly true to varietal and style. Full bodied, with additional flavors of tangerine peel and a very long, fresh finish. "One of the best rosés I¹ve tasted all year" (WD) "That's a hoss." (NF) 14.3% abv.

Marrenon 2010 Grand Toque Luberon Rosé $10 Great Value!
Pale salmon color. Aromas of coriander, sherbert, and white pepper; lovely texture, vibrant finish. Try it with paella, mussels with chorizo, or saffron risotto.

Red Wines
Mirassou 2011 Pinot Noir California $10  
Bright medium ruby color with fresh red cherry, red raspberry and red plum aromas mingled with smoky oak and milk chocolate. Hints of cinnamon and red licorice on the finish. Good Bistro wine, medium-bodied and soft with pleasant fruit and decent length.

MacMurray 2009 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, Ca. $19  
Medium garnet color with distinguishable Pinot fruit, displaying forest floor and cranberry aromas with a savory, minerally finish and fine, powdery tannins. Subtle, but penetrating finish with orange peel and cardamom flavors. "A warm, fuzzy" wine. 13.9% abv.

Mirassou 2010 Merlot California $10  
Deep ruby color, with black plum, black cherry, and spiced chocolate aromas. Great varietal typicity, soft texture, fruit forward, inoffensive style.

Marrenon 2010 Grand Toque Luberon $10  
80% Syrah, 20% Grenache Medium ruby with garnet tints, with peppery spice aromas, dried blueberry and somewhat hard tannins. Lacking fruit depth slightly, but should round out in 3-6 months. 13.5% abv.

Martin Códax 2010 ERGO Tempranillo Rioja $14 Best in Class, Best Buy!
Great blend of modern and traditional. Deep ruby color, with cranberry, black cherry relish, tree bark and wet autumn leaves on the nose. Dark and savory, packing a huge amount of flavor with "sanguine notes at the end". (NF) Polished style that manages to stay true to varietal and regional character. Bright, juicy, fresh finish. 13.5% abv.

Gascón 2011 Malbec Mendoza, Argentina $12 Best in Class, Best Buy!
Deep ruby color with purple tints, aromas of apple blossom, very floral style with violets and lilacs, boysenberry and blackberry fruit with coffee hints. Vibrant finish, long. 13.9% abv.

Alamos Selección 2010 Malbec Mendoza, Argentina $20  
Deep, bright ruby-purple, opaque core. Smoky, rubbery aromas, with wild black raspberry and blackberry. Deeply extracted, with loads of toasty oak and firm tannins. Slightly warm on the finish. "Needs a fatty side of beef immediately" (NF) 13.8% abv

Ravenswood 2009 Zinfandel Lodi, Ca. $14 Best Buy!
Medium ruby-garnet with classic raspberry, blackberry and bramble notes with just a hint of raisin and vanilla oak. Decent length. Good quality. 14.5% abv.

Ravenswood 2010 Zinfandel Napa, Ca. $16 Best Wine!
Bright medium ruby. Pronounced nutmeg aromas with black pepper, black berry fruit, effusive, potent, well-structured. Needs a juicy, peppered ribeye. Bright finish keeps it real. Hint of licorice. Hold 1 year for oak to integrate. Excellent quality. 14.5% abv.

Ravenswood 2009 Zinfandel Sonoma, Ca. $16  
Deep garnet. Fine perfume with red and black fruit, licorice, overripe strawberry and wild cherry. Very appealing nose. Grenache-like. Volatile. Massive mid-palate, gripping tannins, low acidity brings it down a notch. 14.5% abv.

Dry Creek Vineyards 2009 Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley, Ca. $16  
Structured, with pervasive oak. Creamy. Lacking fruit definition slightly but a well-made, masculine style.

Mirassou 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon California $10 Best Value, Best Buy!
Deep ruby. Black cherry, blackcurrant. "No surprises. Old Yeller wines. Dependable" (WD) "Shows exceptional definition and character for its variety and price point." (NG) 13.5% abv.

Alamos 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza, Argentina $13  
Deep, bright ruby. Generous black fruits, hints of tar, well-rounded tannins. 13.9% abv.

Louis Martini 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County $14 Best in Class, Best Buy!
Deep garnet color. Aromas of redcurrant, a slight bell pepper note, ripe tannins define the palate. Delivers creamy fruit, good length. Great for the price. Tasty finish, lovely with roasts. 13.8% abv.

Dry Creek Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon "The Endeavor" Dry Creek Valley, Ca. $50 Best Wine!
"The Sexpot" (WD) Driven by fresh, nicely ripe red and black currant and berry fruit. Good integration of oak on the palate. Sexy, pronounced nose. Big, sweet tannins. Complex, minty, Fernet Branca aroma. A potent, massively appealing wine. 14.5% abv.

Silkwood Petite Sirah "Que Sirah, Syrah" Lodi, Ca. NV $30  
Slightly volatile nose, with coconut and espresso oak notes, good layers of jammy blackberry flavors, coffee and chicory on the palate. Not unlike a 7-layer cookie. Great length. A well-made wine for those that appreciate this in-your-face style. 13.9% abv.

November 2012 Panelists
  • Christopher Davies, Wine Writer, Editor-in Chief & Co-Founder of Wine Country International Magazine
  • Natalie Guinovart, DWS CWE FWS CS, Wine Educator
  • Nathan Frye, CWE FWS CS, Retailer
  • William Davis, CSS, CWE, Wine Trade Professional, Court of Master Sommeliers (Master Candidate),the Wine and Spirits Education Trust