Mini-reviews 104: Maybe Christmas wine, maybe not

christmasReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month. This month: Maybe Christmas wine, maybe not

Le Petite Frog Picpoul 2016 ($30/3-liter box, purchased, 12.5%): I really wanted to like this French white, made with the picpoul grape. But all it did was make me appreciate the Rene Barbier white that much more. The La Petite Frog is pleasant enough, with soft lemon fruit, but could be fresher and more lively; at the equivalent of $7.50 a bottle, it’s not two bucks a bottle better than the Barbier. Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.

Norton Malbec Reserva 2014 ($16, sample, 13.5%): Premiumized grocery store red from Argentina that is about as boring as possible, and with entirely too much oak (even if I liked a lot of oak). It is focus group wine, made for the Cellar Tracker user who wrote: “Nice, smooth and very drinkable, especially at this price point.” Imported by Guarchi Wine Partners.

Seaglass Pinot Noir Rosé 2016 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This California grocery store pink was more than I expected, with barely ripe strawberry fruit and surprising freshness instead of the cloying, almost sweet quality, that some of these wines have. It’s a little thin on the back, and not quite up to a wine of the week, but you won’t be unhappy by buying it.

Tenuta Marsiliana Maremma Toscana 2012 ($32, sample, 14%): This Italian red, a Super Tuscan heavy on the cabernet sauvignon and merlot, is professionally made, but doesn’t suffer from being more New World than Old in an attempt to get 92 points. Look for more black fruit and less acidity than in a traditional Tuscan red, but it does have that earthy finish and elegant tannins. Highly recommended, but availability may be limited.