Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. This month, four wines that remind us how geeky wine can be
• Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan Großes Gewächs Riesling 2016 ($85, sample, 12%): This German white, which is apparently one of the country’s great wines, showed by magically and mysteriously — maybe a sample from a German wine trade group? It certainly is stunning wine, complex and layered (stone fruit, minerality); frankly, much more than I’m used to tasting. And it should age for years and years. Imported by Banville Wine Merchants
• Gillmore País Mariposa 2019 ($17, sample, 13%): The pais grape — known as mission in the U.S. — is about as trendy as these things get. Having said that, this red wasn’t very interesting. It tasted more like supermarket Beaujolais — some cherry fruit, too tart, yet thin and watery. Imported by Global Vineyard Importers
• Bodega Marichal Tannat 2019 ($16, sample, 13%): This Uruguayan red is adequate tannat — rough-ish and heavy-ish, but not heavy or rough, with some almost cherry fruit and surprising acidity. If you like tannat, you’ll like this. Imported by Global Vineyard Importers
• Tercos Bonarda 2020 ($14, sample, 13.5%): Fine example of bonardo, a little known red grape from Argentina. It’s a little earthy, with some spice and dark fruit, but not heavy. Imported by Global Vineyard Importers
Reviews 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.
The Brumont tannat-merlot shows the tannat grape to its best advantage in a delicious $10 wine
During a recent Skype tasting for the American Wine Society, someone asked me about tannat. It’s a red grape, very geeky, best known in South America. When it’s made as a varietal wine, the result is often hard, tannic, and not all that enjoyable. But when it’s blended, like the Brumont tannat-merlot from Gascony in France, it can be a wine of the week.
I’ve tasted three bottles of this vintage of the Brumont Tannat-Merlot ($10, purchased, 13.5%) over the past three years, and each one has been different. Who knew there would be such a variation in bottle age for a $10 wine?
But that’s the tannat at work, and it’s also worth noting that the 2015 is the vintage in most stores. As such, the third tasting was a delight – some of the tannat’s heartiness was still there, but the rough edges were gone, softened by the merlot. But this is not a soft wine – there’s not any hint of sweetness or too ripe black fruit (blackberry?), and the tannins and acidity remain part of the wine’s still complete structure. Hence, a food wine, and ideal for summer barbecue, burgers, and especially bratwurst.
Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2020 $10 Hall of Fame.
Imported by Kindred Vines
? Wairau River Chardonnay 2012 ($22, sample, 13%): Professionally made California-style chardonnay from New Zealand, with green apple fruit and enough oak to be noticed but not to be offensive. Having said that, why spend $22 for it when there are similar wines costing one-third less?
? Bodega Garz n Tannat 2012 ($20, sample, 13.8%): Tannat is a red grape that has caught on with wine geeks, and this bottle from Uruguay is well made, if pricey. But, save for a funky aroma, it tastes a lot like $15 California central coast merlot without any of tannat’s grip.
? M. Chapoutier Ros Belleruche 2013 ($15, sample, 13%): Dependable French rose has increased in price by almost one-third (thanks to a new importer?), which makes it a lot less dependable. Wine itself is OK, though this vintage has more strawberry fruit and less crispness. But there are dozens of $10 roses with same quality or better.
? Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis 2012 ($20, purchased, 12.5%): This chardonnay from Chablis region of Burgundy in France was sadly disappointing — thin and almost watery, with very little of the crisp, fresh green apple fruit that makes Chablis so wonderful. May have been corked, which is yet another reason for screwcaps. If not, the producer has serious quality control problems.