? Carlos Pulenta Malbec Tomero 2011 ($15, sample, 14%): Fairly-priced Argentine red that doesn’t have too much black fruit — which means it’s drinkable and not syrupy — and somehow manages to be mostly balanced. A very pleasant surprise.
? Da Luca Pinot Grigio 2012 ($13, sample, 12%): Disjointed pinot grigio with requisite tonic water at back but also weird fruit in the middle, almost tropical. Not much better than grocery store pinot grigio but at almost twice the price.
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:
? Beronia Tempranillo 2010 ($15, sample, 14%): Spanish red is rich, has lots of red fruit, and is professionally made. That it doesn’t especially taste like it ?s from Rioja is only a problem if you care about those things.
? Toad Hollow Chardonnay 2011 ($13, sample, 13.9%): California white is unoaked, and mostly tastes as it always does, with green apple fruit. But seems to be a hint of sweetness.
? Tormaresca Neprica 2011 ($12, sample, 13.5%): This vintage of the one-time favorite is more balanced and Italian than the 2010, but still firmly in the international style with lots of sweet red fruit.
The first time time the Wine Curmudgeon tasted the Tormaresca chardonnay, I knew two things. First, that Italian chardonnay was not something most people wanted to write about. The Italians had plenty of other white wine grapes; what were they doing messing around with chardonnay? The other thing I knew was that Tormaresca made really good cheap wine.
So I really wasn’t surprised at the quality. Tormaresca, as a producer, is that good. Somehow, on their property in Puglia in the Italian boot heel, they do things that other wineries can only dream about.
The current vintage of the chardonnay ($12, sample) is better than ever — bright, clean and crisp (almost too much crisp, actually, though that should not be a problem as the wine ages). There is lots of green apple fruit, enough oak to complement the fruit but not to overwhelm it, and only 12 1/2 percent alcohol. As always, I wonder why the Italians can make such a pleasant chardonnay while so many in California, where chardonnay is an important grape, stumble in the dark trying to do the same thing. Drink this chilled on its own, or pair it with a variety of white wine food — roast chicken, spaghetti carbonara or even Sunday brunch.
And, for those keeping track of these things, I’ll review the current vintage of the Tormaresca Neprica during the blog’s Birthday Week in November — and yes, we’ll once again give a bottle away of Neprica.