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Staff Favorites - Mahon McGrath
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2005 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 2-25-2015
Roasted herb, leather, and iron meet up with salty, balsamic, caraway notions, and light shadings of toasted coconut, on the nose. Somewhat fresher than the nose might lead you to believe, the dusty fruit on the palate is still well seasoned with spice and anise. The tannins are fairly gentle, though sufficient to imagine a future for this wine: whether you hold it will be down to how patient you are! The acidity, while there, never makes its presence obvious. Great Riserva for a great price!
2012 Tongue In Groove "Clayvin Vineyard" Pinot Noir Marlborough
Review Date: 2-25-2015
Maybe I need to taste more Kiwi Pinot Noir; I never would have pegged this as an antipodean wine! There’s a richness, ripeness, and density to this that I’d probably have pegged as Oregonian if I’d been blinded on it. Smoky, dark fruit, parched earth, and woodsy vanilla on the nose leads into a pure, plump medium bodied wine with elegant, silky tannins, and a cocoa-powder dusted finish of good length. There is more power than simple opulence here, so while it is far from being “wound up” or in-accessible now, it would be very interesting to revisit this five to eight years down the road to see how it evolves when it has had a chance to relax. Home run!
Marietta "Old Vine Red-Lot #62" Red Blend
Review Date: 2-25-2015
Bright cherry-berry fruit, with warm baking spice accents framing it, lead into a medium bodied, juicy mouthful of wine. There is only the faintest whiff of tannin here; the wine derives its freshness and structure courtesy of its vibrant acidity. There aren't many domestic wines that stand up to the best of the competition at this price point from Spain, say, but this is one that really does, and boasts an unmistakably Californian character besides. This slides easily into the roster of top, everyday-red deals!
2013 Santo Assyrtiko Santorini
Review Date: 2-20-2015
You don’t necessarily need to cleave to cool climate wine regions in order to find a nice core of minerality in your white wine. This Assyrtiko, from the island of Santorini, situated out alone in the bright blue of the Mediterranean about equidistant to Turkey, Crete, and the Greek mainland, handily proves the point. The palate shows richness and breadth, with some ripe, sweet flavors, before tightening up on the finish as the wet stone character re-asserts itself. If you want a slight detour from your usual Muscadet or Chablis, say, this would be well worth exploring in similar contexts food-wise.
2012 Von Strasser "Rudy" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 2-16-2015
One of the best deals going in domestic Cabernet Sauvignon! First and foremost, Von Strasser's Rudy is balanced. The acidity and tannins are poised just right to set off the dark fruit flavors accented with pencil shavings and mint. The cherry on top is that it comes in at an eminently fair price, too!
2012 Château de la Charrière Bourgogne Rouge Domaine Yves Girardin
Review Date: 2-9-2015
This is everything you'd hope for in a Bourgogne rouge: dusty, earthy, dark cherry fruit enlivened by a touch of blood orange on the nose, leading to low-key, natural fruit and spice notes on the palate, with good flesh, gentle tannins, decent length on the finish, and for a low price to boot! Stock up while you can!
2013 Franck Millet "Insolite" Sancerre
Review Date: 2-6-2015
The 2013 Insolite boasts a veritable rainbow of citrus scents: lemon, lime, and orange mingle with a pungent quality reminiscent of the first bite of a kumquat, along with pea shoot and lemon grass. The palate is clean, streamlined, sleek, and cool, with the cuvee’s characteristic richness all but enveloping the bristling acidity until the very end, and a smidgen of talc dusting the robust fruit.
2013 Les Roches Sauvignon Touraine
Review Date: 2-2-2015
The core of this wine centers on citrus, around which spirals gooseberry, lemon grass, and even a hint of guava. The effusion of the nose comes into focus on the palate, which has hints of herb and mineral around the edges, with a taut finish that nevertheless shows a bit of green melon. This will appeal to a broad range of Sauvignon Blanc fans, and makes a perfect cocktail wine!
2012 Georg Albrecht Schneider "vom Rotliegenden" Niersteiner Hipping Riesling Spätlese Trocken (dry)
Review Date: 1-14-2015
The nose on the Schneider Red Slate offers spice, sweet pea blossom, honey, golden apple, and just the faintest whiff of mineral and petrol way in the background. On the palate it is graceful and elegant, sporting a lush mouth-feel and weight, without any heaviness. The flavors keep to the floral, delicate side, and it wears its mineral component lightly. While dry, it finishes more plush and supple than brisk or austere. All in all, this is a complex and charming white wine that’s yours for a pittance!
2013 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre Rosé (last of vintage)
Review Date: 1-12-2015
I confess a particular weakness for a good Sancerre rose, and Domaine des Cotes Blanches twenty thirteen vintage showcases its virtues handily. I find it holographic. There is beauty and dimensionality here, and yet this is buoyant, almost weightless: there and not there, with delicately floral and fruity flavors dancing along a knife edge of citric vibrancy.
2013 Guy Saget "Marie de Beauregard" Vouvray
Review Date: 11-7-2014
The Marie de Beauregard displays a clean mineral streak, wed to deep aromas of apple, pear, quince, and spice. While the palate begins with a dense texture and broad flavor, on the finish it is a chameleon, turning firm, taut, and bracing, with a slight mineral rasp: this is a lot of Vouvray for the price!
2012 Textbook Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-2-2014
Looking for a well made California Cabernet Sauvignon to enjoy right now? Here’s one that needs no more time than it takes to buy a bottle, carry it home, and pull the cork. While round and open, it also shows exquisite balance, and boasts an attractive nose of plum, charcoal, and bitter chocolate, accented by a subtle hint of mint. Modest tannins lead to a dry, focused finish which dovetails down to a slight recurrence of the bitter chocolate note.
2013 Rutherford Ranch Napa Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 10-20-2014
Round and juicy, this Chardonnay is driven by clean, tropical flavors of sweet citrus and pineapple. Its easy-going style, with a price to match, should make it a hit with those looking for an everyday white that has a little more richness than a Sauvignon Blanc, say, but avoids the oak-and-butter side of the Chardonnay spectrum.
2012 Joseph Jewell Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 9-15-2014
From out of a lineup of domestic Pinot Noirs recently, this one really stole the show for me. Funny thing is, it isn’t a show stopper: it is commendable for the restraint it displays. The fruit is very pure and natural, dialing back the ripeness quotient you often contend with in California Pinot Noirs, the flavors have intensity without heaviness, and the body is trim, taut, and focused; in other words, it shows all the gracefulness you might hope for in a Pinot, but which is often sadly lacking for one reason or another.
2012 Züm Mosel Riesling
Review Date: 9-12-2014
The Zum qba has flavors of lemon, and lime, mineral, and sweet golden apple. Sweet-tart, this has a round mid-palate followed by bracing acidity. All in all, this is a tasty, low-alcohol, balanced bottle of Riesling; and at a price where you can twist the cap off with abandon.
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