Tag Archives: Castle Rock

Mini-reviews 153: Tannat, Rioja, and two sauvignon blancs

wine demandReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. This month, cleaning out the wine closet to start the new year.

Marichal Tannat Reserve Collection 2018 ($20, sample, 13%): Well made tannat from Uruguay — softer, which with tannat is a good thing; more dark fruit and less tannic. Price is problematical. Imported by Global Vineyard Importers

Bilbao Rioja Crianza 2017 ($20, sample, 14.5%): There’s nothing really wrong with this Spanish tempranillo, though it’s a bit less subtle than classic Rioja. There’s nothing to make it stand out, either – and $20? Imported by Zamora Company

The Goose Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($12, purchased, 13%): This is a stunning South African sauvignon blanc that has just enough French style — almost flinty — to go with New World citrus fruit. How it aged this well is beyond me – highly recommended. So what’s the catch? It will be almost impossible to find, which seems to be how the wine world works, isn’t it? Imported by IM Premium Imports

Castle Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($10, sample, 13%): Supermarket sauvignon blanc, made to hit the $10 price and not necessarily because it tastes like California sauvignon blanc. Almost bitter, some lemongrass, some minerality.

Mini-reviews 125: Guimaro, Castle Rock, Silverado, Bibi Graetz

guimaroReviews 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.

Guimaro Vino Tinto 2017 ($20, purchased, 13%): Solid, well-made, and very fruity (black cherry?) Spanish red made with the mencia grape. I wish it had had a little more earth and interest, but it’s young and should get some of that as it ages. Imported by Llaurador Wines

Castle Rock Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley 2017 ($25, sample, 14.5%): Not a bad value for $18 – mostly a typical, ripe black fruit, rich and oaky Napa cabernet. But it’s not overdone, and you can drink it without feeling you’re eating Raisinets at the movies. The catch is that the suggested price is $25 (though it may be available at a lower price at some retailers).

Silverado Vineyards Sangiovese Rosato 2018 ($25, sample, 14.5%): Polished, New World- style rose (lots of berry fruit) with a bit of zip and a touch of heaviness from the alcohol. But it isn’t appreciably better or more interesting than a quality $10 rose.

Bibi Graetz Casamatta Bianco 2018 ($12, purchased, 12%): Italian white blend, mostly made with vermentino, that has tart lemon fruit, some floral aromas, and a crisp and rewarding finish. Very food-friendly; one of those wines to sip on the porch as summer ends. Imported by Folio Fine Wine Partners

Mini-reviews 121: Even more rose reviews 2019

rose reviews 2019Reviews 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, six rose reviews 2019 in honor of the blog’s 12th annual rose fest.

The 12th annual Memorial Day and rose 2019 post

La Vieille Ferme Rose 2018 ($7, purchased, 13%): This French pink is not what it was in 2017, when it was among the best roses of the season. The 2018 is a little thinner and less interesting, and the fruit doesn’t jump like it did last year — probably from poorer quality grapes. But it’s still dry, still worth $6 or $7, and still worth buying. Imported by Vineyard Brands

La Galope Comté Tolosan Rose ( $10, purchased, 12%): Once again, $10 buys quality rose — this, time from the French region of Gascony. There is a little tart cherry fruit, some flintiness, and it’s fresh, and clean. Highly recommended. Imported by Bridge Imports

Gianni Masciarelli Rosato 2017 ($11, purchased, 12.5%): Beautiful, zesty, and refreshing, this Italian pink shows off montepulciano, not all that common as a rose grape. Highly recommended, and an example of how rose technical quality has improved so dramatically that some older vintages remain delicious. Imported by Vintus

Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This French pink, made mostly with grenache, is yummy and delicious — another 2017 that has more than held up (though the 2018 is available in some areas). Surprising structure and depth, with tart strawberry fruit and crisp, fresh, and minerally on the finish. Highly recommended. Imported by Pioneer Wine Co.

Paul Mas Cote Mas Aurore 2017 ($10/1 liter, purchased, 12.5%): This is more than competent, Provence-style rose (barely ripe red fruit, a hint of garrigue, clean finish) in a liter bottle, so there are two extra glasses. What more do we need? (The 2018 should be available in some areas.) Imported by Espirit du Vin

Castle Rock Pinot Noir Rose 2018 ($10, sample, 13.5%): The kind of California wine that used to be common, but now is but a distant memory — well-made but affordable and decent availability. Look for a little orange zest to go with the barely ripe strawberry fruit.

Mini-reviews 111: Geyser Peak, Castle Rock, Ranch 32, Tyrell’s

geyser peakReviews 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, a highly recommended white and red:

Geyser Peak Chardonnay Water Bend 2016 ($18, sample, 14.5%): California white that tastes like coconut and pineapple – another example of the post-modern, better living through winemaking approach that dominates so much wine at this price. Coconut and pineapple are ideal for an ice cream sundae, but probably not the way chardonnay should taste.

Castle Rock Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2016 ($15, sample, 13.5%): This vintage of the Oregon red is not what the 2015 was, unfortunately – a little brambly black fruit aroma, but too heavy and not very interesting. It tastes like it has lots of something in it besides pinot noir, a practice that is legal and not uncommon for less expensive pinot noirs.

Ranch 32 Pinot Noir 2016 ($17, sample, 13.5%) If all $17 wine tasted like this California red, I wouldn’t rant about $17 wine. It’s got actual pinot noir character – almost silky, with precise black fruit and actual oak that lends to the wine and doesn’t dominate it. Highly recommended.

Tyrell’s Semillon 2016 ($22, purchased, 11%): This white is another brilliant Australian wine that was lost in the disaster that was 15 percent shiraz and that the Aussie wine business is still recovering from. It’s somehow balanced, soft and crisp and with lots of fresh stone fruit, and balanced. Highly recommended. Imported by Broadbent Selections

Wine of the week: Castle Rock Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2015

Castle Rock Pinot NoirThe Castle Rock Pinot Noir is affordable, well-made, enjoyable and even tastes like pinot noir

After years of complaining that it was almost impossible to find affordable pinot noir that tasted like pinot noir. we’ve already had two as wines of the week this year. The second, the Castle Rock pinot noir, may be the more interesting.

That’s because the Castle Rock pinot noir ($12, sample, 13.5%) is a negociant-style wine, where the people making it don’t necessarily own any grapes or winemaking facilities. It’s a common practice in France, but much less common in the U.S. In the case of the Castle Rock pinot noir, it works well.

Look for the telltale red and black berry fruit in this red wine from Oregon, a little freshness, a competent finish with a touch of length, and what tastes like nicely done fake oak. Also, there are surprisingly professional tannins that hide in the background and don’t get in the way of the wine; in fact, they even sort of complement it. In much cheap pinot noir, the tannins are either missing completely or are so harsh that they overpower the wine.

Is this classic Oregon pinot noir? No, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be affordable pinot noir that tastes like pinot noir, which is as rare as it is welcome. Enjoy this on any weeknight, and be glad you didn’t pay $20 for a pinot that you didn’t like nearly as much.