• Matua Pinot Noir 2018 ($13, purchased, 12%): This New Zealand pinot noir usually offers terrific value and pinot character. But the 2018 isn’t as pinot-ish as in past years – lighter in body, and less fresh and lively. It’s OK, but there are lots of OK pinots at this price. Imported by TWE Imports
Reviews 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; four California wines for July.
• Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare 2019 ($15, sample, 13.5%): Something is missing in this rose, released after Randall Grahm sold his legendary company in January. It’s not bad – some watermelon fruit, some minerality – but it’s not the top-notch rose of vintages past.
• Bota Box Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($18/3-liter box, sample, 12.5%): Decent California white that works out to less than $5 a bottle, though it’s nothing more than that. Not sweet but not especially tart, either, with a bit of green herb and citrus. There’s an odd grapiness in the back that makes me think it was blended with something like French colombard to stretch the sauvingon blanc.
• Wente Cabernet Sauvignon Southern Hills 2018 ($12, purchased, 13.5%): Ordinary (if well-made) supermarket-style California red from a quality producer. Not much in the way of tannins or acidity — just lots of very ripe black fruit, lots of oak, and that sort of smooth finish that focus groups prefer.
• Cameron Hughes Lot 676 2016 ($14, sample, 14.3%): Heavy, rich, hot, and full California white blend, made in the classic “Trying to get 94 points” style. There’s some fruit (stone, lime?), and a surprising amount of oak. Given its age, the style, and that Hughes buys what other producers can’t move, this may well be a pricey bottle that was sitting in a tank somewhere, unloved and unsold.
Big Wine delivers price, value and quality with this vintage of the Bota Box rose
Big Wine’s rose offerings have often been indifferent, with little consistency in style and quality, plus more sweetness than dry rose requires. Because, of course, Big Wine. So how has Delicato done so well with the past three vintages of the Bota Box rose, and especially with the 2018?
Call it our good fortune as we celebrate the blog’s 12th annual rose extravaganza. In fact, this version of the Bota Box rose ($16/3-liter box, sample, 11.5%) is the best of the three – more structure, more interest, and more going on than you get in most box wines. And the price is amazing – three liters is four bottles, so this is the equivalent of $4 a bottle.
The 2018 is fruitier than the previous efforts (berries and a little lemon?), as well as crisp and refreshing, just like a dry rose is supposed to be. In this, it’s not just a one-note wine, like last year’s was, and it’s more rounded than the 2016 version. That wine was enjoyable, but not necessarily something you believed in. The 2018 is not just better made with better quality grapes, but you can taste the difference.
Best yet, the Bota Box rose is actually dry. Delicato has resisted the temptation to tart the wine up after it has established a market, something that’s common practice among Big Wine companies. So more good fortune for those of use who care about value and not Instagram posts.
Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2020 $10 Hall of Fame and the 2020 Cheap Wine of the Year.
Reviews 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, an all California lineup:
? Bota Box Malbec 2009 ($18 for a 3-liter box, sample): Wine for people who aren't all that fussy about what their wine tastes like. Lots of sweet blackberry fruit without much tannin or acid.
? Raymond Merlot Reserve 2007 ($23, sample): A fair bit of merlot character, which means it's not as fruity as other California merlots at this price and even (dare I say?) a little more subtle. A step up from the $15 merlots that so many people drink.
? Fess Parker Syrah 2007 ($24, sample): Big, huge syrah with traditional bacon fat aroma, lots of rich, black fruit and 14.9 percent alcohol. If you like this style of wine, you'll love this wine.
? Freemark Abbey Viognier 2009 ($27, sample): I didn't think there was any way I would appreciate this, given that it was oaked and had 14.5 percent alcohol. But it was mostly in balance, with apricot fruit and peach pit finish.