Vinotasting March 27, 2013

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 March 27, 2013

Chris Davies
Darcy Davies
William Davis
Natalie Guinovart

Notes Edited by Natalie Guinovart DWS CWE CS

Sparkling Wines, Sweet White Wines
Barefoot Bubbly Extra Dry NV, California 4 Glasses $9.99 Best Value!

Pale lemon color with a large bead. Aromas of baked golden apple; fresh, fruit-driven, orchard aromas, and a little sweet dough. Full mousse on the palate with bright, cleansing acidity and fresh green apple and Meyer lemon flavors. Good length. A well-made, accessible sparkler. Dry, but has a soft edge with sweet fruit expression. 11.5% abv.

White Wines
Zink, Paul & Philippe 2009 Riesling, Alsace Grand Cru Eichberg 4 Glasses $30 Best Splurge Wine!

Medium lemon-gold color. On the nose, a hint of petrol, lemon curd, a whiff of honey, green apple-ginger chutney, apricot and spice, suggesting a hint of botrytis. Just off-dry with nice flavor intensity and a clean finish that even has a slight grip to it. A robust, concentrated, drier style of Riesling. 13.5% abv.

Kingman 2012 Viognier, Grand Valley, Colorado $21  

Deep gold. Quite honeyed, buttery creamy nose, with aromas of honeysuckle, musk and peaches. Oily, viscous, “distinctively opulent New World style”. (WD) 13% abv.

African Passion 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa $8.99 Best Value!

Pale lemon-green color. Medium intensity aromas of spearmint, elderflower, green plum, and fresh lime juice. Medium bodied, lean and clean. Spicy leaf and green fruit dominates the palate, with a hint of green plum and green melon. Though it’s lean, it also has a nice roundness to balance out the mouthwatering acidity. 12.5% abv.

M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2011 Côtes du Roussillon Blanc $10.00  

Pale straw color. The nose is fairly neutral, with all of the flavor coming through on the palate – white Anjou pear, apple skin and fresh fennel. Waxy texture, medium bodied with a grippy finish, and bright, lemony acidity. A unique and delicious white for those tired of the tried and true. 13% abv.

KWV Classic Collection 2011 Chardonnay, Western Cape, South Africa $10.99  

40% matured in oak for four months. Pale straw color, with straightforward ripeness on the nose, suggesting white peach, white fig, overripe red apple with some butter and vanilla. Fruit-focused, with sappy stone fruit coming through on the palate. Good weight and mouth feel. 13.5% abv.

Rose Wines

Mommy’s Time Out ‘Delicious Pink’ NV, California $8.00  

Pretty pale pink color. Frizzante (slight prickle of bubbles) on the palate with sweet strawberry fruit fresh grapes and a bouquet of purple and white flowers. Light-bodied, simple yet pleasant, not overly sweet and has lovely lift on the end. An apéritif wine or for avocado-strawberry chicken salad. 9.5% abv.

M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2012 Rosé Côtes du Roussillon Villages $12 4 1/2 glases $12.00

Best Value!

Medium salmon color. Onion-skin aromas with dried strawberry and raspberry. Opens up on the nose to reveal wild brush and spice, a shining example of typicité.  Broad, with well-defined red berry fruit, big structure, meaty, spicy, yet retains elegance throughout with perfect balance and a long, long length. Buy this by the case for Spring and Summer sipping! 13.5% abv.

Red Wines

Ghost Pines 2010 Merlot, 71% Sonoma, 29% Napa $21.00 Best Splurge Wine!

Opaque ruby throughout, displaying pronounced aromas of toasty oak, cocoa, black olive, sweet spice, and liqueur-like black plum and black cherry. Very ripe and expressive Merlot fruit here, just lovely concentration.  Oak and ripe fruit is well-integrated and the palate is rich and silky; a polished style. 14.5% abv.

KWV Cathedral Cellar 2009 Merlot, Paarl, South Africa $10.99  

Deep garnet color. Meaty, almost iodine aroma, with green pepper and black cherry underneath. Rustic and smoky, with firm tannins. Perfect for smoked or grilled meats and vegetables. 14.5% abv.

KWV Classic Collection 2011 Pinotage, Western Cape, South Africa $17.00
Best Buy!

Medium to deep ruby core. The nose is dominated by red fruit, particularly wild strawberry and raspberry with a soft meatiness, almost like freshly roasted lamb, adding just a hint of complexity and interest. Sweet red cherry jam on the front palate which takes you by surprise, but balanced by an uplifting  zing. Medium, grippy, dry tannins, though not astringent or hard. Good length, nice mingling of fruit and smoky, earthy complexity.  A great introduction to Pinotage. 14% abv.

Rancho Zabaco 2011 Zinfandel Sonoma Heritage Vines, Dry Creek Valley 4 1/2 glases $17.99 Best Wine!

97% Zinfandel, 3% Petite Sirah. Opaque ruby-purple. Concentrated aromas of blackberry, black raspberry, quite ripe but not raisined. Loads of toasty oak and sweet spice, but meshes with the fruit just beautifully. Of course, it’s high in alcohol but all in check. Intense flavors of boysenberry, blackberry, and blueberry preserves with a long finish. Stylish, inherently pleasant.  Made for barbecued ribs. “Sexy, voluptuous.” (WD) 14.9% abv.

Roodeberg 2010 Western Cape Red Blend, South Africa $14.00  

Deep ruby core with a thin, pale ruby rim. Aromas of blackberry and a hint of green pepper, vanilla and cocoa oak inflections, and a hint of cassis. Bold, full bodied with fairly aggressive tannins that need some aeration to resolve and let the fruit shine through. Interesting flavors of boysenberry, cola, and hints of black olive. 14.5% abv.

Dry Creek Vineyard 2009 ‘The Mariner’ Meritage, Dry Creek Valley, Ca. $40.00  

43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 10% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot. 24 months in French oak, half new.
Deep, true ruby core with a pale ruby rim. Fruit seems fairly forward and soft on the nose; black cherry and black plum jam with caramel and toasty oak and just a little touch of green pepper. Nice length. For fans of that obviously oaky, richly-fruited style. Needs food to show its best; try it with grilled lamb with rosemary! 14.5% abv.

Standing Sun 2010 S & M Red Blend, Santa Barbara, Ca. $34.00
Best Splurge Wine!

Medium to deep ruby core with a pale ruby rim. Pretty aromas of dark crushed violets, black pepper, wild strawberry and raspberry jam, sage and thyme. More acid structure than tannic structure but a lovely, soft viscosity and those aromas come shining through on the palate with excellent persistence. Purity of fruit is the focus. A lip-smacking wine to please all palates! 14.6% abv.

Don Miguel Gascon 2011 Colosal Red Blend, Mendoza, Argentina $15.00 Best Value!  

Deep garnet color. Mocha-cherry, menthol, and pine notes. Clearly a very highly-extracted wine, with long hang time and ample new oak. The acid-alcohol balance is a bit off. For fans of a hedonistic, super-ripe style. 15% abv.

M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2011 Côtes du Roussillon Villages $12.00 Best Value!  

Opaque ruby-purple color. Jammy, dark red fruit lurking behind an incredibly powerful structure with loads of tannin and acidity. The tannins are good-natured and balanced with the acidity, allowing the depth and purity of fruit along with dark mineral and garrigue notes to dance on the palate.  An intense wine that is best enjoyed with meaty cuisine. 14.5% abv.

African Passion 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Western Cape, South Africa $8.99  

Deep garnet core with a small garnet rim. Aromas of red currant, black plum, and a hint of green pepper and vanilla oak. Confected red fruit on the entrance with medium to full body and a round texture that finishes with mouthwatering acidity, moderate but firmly structured tannins and decent length. 13.5% abv.

Ghost Pines 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, 70% Napa, 30% Sonoma $23.00  

Deep ruby color throughout.  Aromas of vanilla, blackcurrant verging on cassis, toast, caramel, blackberry, ripe but not overripe. Pure and concentrated but not overly complex on the nose, focused on opulent fruit and sweet oak. Full bodied, rich and velvety, quite potent, with a distinctive, creamy, caramel latte taste and mouth feel. Stylish, hedonistic style. 13.9% abv.