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Tag Archives: zinfandel

Mini-reviews 57: Bonterra, Carlos Pulenta, Da Luca, Tormaresca

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Mini-reviews 57: Bonterra, Carlos Pulenta, Da Luca, TormarescaReviews 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.

Bonterra Zinfandel 2011 ($16, sample, 14.5%): More old-style zinfandel than new, with brambly black fruit and alcohol in balance instead of a fruit-infused cocktail that makes you reach for a glass of water after a sip and a half. Another winner in my recent zinfandel streak, and a treat to drink.

Carlos Pulenta Malbec Tomero 2011 ($15, sample, 14%): Fairly-priced Argentine red that doesn’t have too much black fruit — which means it’s drinkable and not syrupy — and somehow manages to be mostly balanced. A very pleasant surprise.

Da Luca Pinot Grigio 2012 ($13, sample, 12%): Disjointed pinot grigio with requisite tonic water at back but also weird fruit in the middle, almost tropical. Not much better than grocery store pinot grigio but at almost twice the price.

Tormaresca Chardonnay 2012 ($9, purchased, 12%): How the mighty have fallen. This white, like the Tormaresca Neprica, used to be value-priced quality wine. Now, it has just one note — lots of what tastes like cheap fake oak, with very little fruit or interest. Very disappointing.

Expensive wine 57: Ridge York Creek Zinfandel 2009

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Dollar for dollar, the best winery in California may be Ridge Vineyards. This may seem an odd thing for the Wine Curmudgeon to write, given that none of its wines cost less than $25. But Ridge crams value in every wine, and I’ve long admired its commitment to quality and fair pricing.

How well run is Ridge? How about the York Creek ($28, purchased, 15.3%), made in a style that usually makes me hit the wine rant key on the computer. It’s Ridge’s version of a high-scoring Wine Magazine zinfandel, which means lots of alcohol, too much oak, and plenty of sweet black fruit, and in this often tastes more like port than table wine. The difference, of course, is that since it’s a Ridge product, the York Creek has structure, body, and tannins, and tastes like wine and not a novelty act. Look for some very nice herbal notes, too, something that seems almost impossible given all the alcohol.

Very nicely done, and if I didn’t like it as much as Ridge’s Lytton Springs zinfandel (which didn’t seem to be available in Dallas), that’s my preference and not a reflection on the wine. It’s well worth drinking, a prime rib wine for Christmas at about half the price of the Winestream Media’s over-the-top zinfandels.

Wine of the week: Ravenswood Old Vine Vintners Zinfandel 2009

image from 3.bp.blogspot.comOne of the things that the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t like about this job is how cynical it has made me about grocery store wine. So many of them have been so disappointing that I’m at the point that if the front or back label uses adjectives or descriptions like reserve, old vine, or artisan, I figure the marketing department is compensating for quality (given that federal regulations for using terms like these is vague, at best).

So I expected absolutely nothing from the Ravenswood ($10, sample); that’s why it sat in the wine closet for 13 months. Shows how much I know, other than to reiterate the No. 1 rule of wine reviewing: Don’t judge the wine until you taste it.

This red is surprising in many ways, not the least of which is that it held up for a year. There is lots of sweet berry fruit in the modern zinfandel style, but it’s not unpleasant and it’s balanced by some some traditional zinfandel character (particularly pepper). It’s a nice value for $10.

Don’t worry too much if the wine you find is the current vintage and not this one. One of the good things about grocery store wines is that they are consistent in taste and style from year to year.

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