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Tag Archives: wine of the week

Wine of the week: Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc 2012

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Line39 Sauvignon Blanc 2012In the old days, which in wine means the end of the 20th century, sauvignon blanc came in three styles — California, French, and New Zealand. Each tasted like sauvignon blanc, but was just enough different from each other to be noticeable. Some time after that, the first two styles started to merge toward the third, so that most sauvignon blanc tasted like grapefuit. That’s because the New Zealand style was about as trendy as trendy gets, and we know how the wine business loves a trend.

Fortunately, the styles have started moving back to where they used to be, and especially in California. I’ve tasted a variety of delightful California sauvignon blanc over the past 18 months, where grassiness — the smell of a freshly-cut lawn — is the predominant note. There is also citrus and tropical fruit, but those don’t overwhelm the grassiness, and the wines are refreshing and enjoyable.

A fine example of this change is the Line 39 ($10, purchased, 13.5%), which has worked its way from New Zealand to California over the past several years. In this, it was always more than adequate, but has improved the more California in style that it has become. The 2012, which is apparently the current vintage though a bit old, is grassy, with lime fruit and rich mouth feel. All of this makes it more than just another grocery store sauvignon blanc. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2015 $10 Hall of Fame.

Wine of the week: Robert Hall Rose de Robles 2013

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robert hall rose de roblesOne of the best winemakers too many people have not heard of is Robert Hall’s Don Brady. The Wine Curmudgeon has waxed poetic about his work many times, that Brady is able to make interesting, terroir-driven, value-worthy wines in California’s Paso Robles when so many others there go for scores, an excess of fruit, sticker shock, and too much alcohol.

The current version of the rose ($11, purchased, 13%) is a case in point. It’s a blend, including grenache and cinsault, and has a little more strawberry fruit this year than last, so it isn’t as lean or as mouthwatering as in previous vintages. But that’s not a bad thing, for it reflects Paso Robles, which is warmer and produces richer, fruitier wines. And this is a rich, comforting rose that is still low in alcohol. How many others can make that claim?

Highly recommended, not just for summer porch sipping, but as a food wine — hamburgers, smoked chicken, and pulled pork (for the au courant among the blog’s visitors).

Wine of the week: Feudo Zirtari Nero d’Avola-Syrah 2011

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Feudo Zirtari Nero d'Avola-Syrah One more reason that Sicilian wine deserves to enter the mainstream — the Zirtari ($12, purchased, 14%), a funky wine that is delicious yet does not seem especially Sicilian. One knows a wine region has found its niche when you can write that about one of its wines.

First, the Zirtari is almost one-half syrah, hardly a grape indigenous to the island. Second, the syrah gives it an almost Rhone-like character, richer (almost fatty) than similarly-priced Sicilian reds. Plus, there isn’t much earthiness, but there is well-balanced black fruit and the particular character that the Sicilian nero d’avola grape adds to a well-made wine.

In all, a wine that is enjoyable, dark, and almost brooding. It’s intense enough for summer barbecue and red meat, but not so heavy, with its 14 percent alcohol, to be be off-putting in hot weather. It was a most pleasant surprise to find when I was looking for something else.

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