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Category Archives: Wine reviews

Wine of the week: Shannon Ridge Wrangler Red 2012

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shannon ridge wrangler redThere are a variety of red blends from California, usually older vintages from smaller wineries, that you won’t find unless you dig through the bottom shelves at your local retailer. The Wine Curmudgeon, who is infamous for this sort of behavior, found the Clayhouse, Josh Cellars, and Stephen Vincent reds this way.

My most recent shelf digging turned up the Shannon Ridge Wrangler Red ($14, purchased, 13.9%), a blend from from Lake County, a region probably better known for its whites. Nevertheless, the red — a combination of zinfandel, syrah, petite sirah, and cabernet sauvignon — was more than up to the standards set by the region’s whites. It had a most welcome freshness, without any of the cloying fruit that dominates so many of these kinds of wines.

Look for red fruit (cherries and raspberries?), but much more than fruit, including a surprising depth from the cabernet that most winemakers don’t bother with when they make this style of red blend. The oak was a little top heavy, but given the wine’s age, it didn’t get in the way and even sort of faded as the bottle emptied. Drink this with any summer barbecue; it’s the kind of wine to sip while you’re grilling burgers and getting ready for Fourth of July fireworks.

Mini-reviews 74: White wines for summer

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white winesReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. This month, white wines for the beginning of summer:

Honora Vera Rueda 2013 ($6, purchased, 13%): Ordinary grocery store verdejo, missing some lemon fruit that should be there and a little harsh on the finish. Yet, having said this, that a national retailer is selling this hardly common Spanish white speaks to how far cheap wine has come.

Canals Canals Cava Classic NV ($15, sample, 11.5%): Very pretty cava, the sparkling wine from Spain, that is softer and more Prosecco like, with green apples and lemons. Not crazy about the price, if you appreciate the style, worth the money.

Amarte Mas Albariño 2013 ($15, sample, 13%): Quality albarino, a white wine from Spain, though there are equally as good wines made with the same grape for less money. Look for soft white fruit aromas, some lemongrass in the middle, and a full finish.

Vinum Cellars Chenin Blanc 2013 ($15, sample, 13.5%): This California white is a touch overpriced, but a solid, dry, crisp, and lemony chenin blanc — the kind of inexpensive and well-made California white wine we need more of.

Wine of the week: Maxwell Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2013

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Maxwell Creek Sauvignon BlancThe Maxwell Creek Sauvignon Blanc is the wine that could destroy every assumption wine snobs, the Winestream Media, and the wine business make about cheap wine. It doesn’t taste cheap, it’s made by a one of California’s most respected producers, and it comes from Napa Valley. That this wine costs $10, given all of those, speaks volumes about high overpriced so much wine in the world is.

The Maxwell Creek ($10, purchased, 13.5%) is a second label from Napa’s St. Supery, long-regarded as one of the country’s top sauvignon blanc producers. This wine offers a hint of citrus, appealing California grassyness, and minerality, and it’s round and especially balanced for a $10 sauvingon blanc. This comes from a little semillion that is blended in, also unusual for a $10 sauvignon blanc.

The Maxwell Creek is not a big, showy wine, and it’s less full, not as intense, and not as sophisticated as the $20 St. Supery, but I’d argue that doesn’t matter. I don’t want to impress anyone; I want wine for dinner that is cheap and well-made, and the Maxwell Creek is not only that, but offers more than enough value for what it costs.

Highly recommended, and the best vintage in recent memory. The catch? It’s a World Market private label in much of the country, so it may be difficult to find if you don’t have World Market near you. Otherwise, almost certain to be in the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame.

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