We drank this wine over a week ago, so the notes are a little hazy. I can say that like almost all Blenheim wines, it’s competently made and easy to drink.
There’s some chocolate and oak and a very Virginia nose to this Merlot-dominant wine, which is one of the two Blenheim flagships and sports a cool, Dave Matthews-painted label.
Priced in the high $20s, I would not rate this terribly highly on a QPR scale, but it’s solid Virginia wine from a good vintage. Also, Blenheim gets extra points for bottling everything they do under twist-off. I wish everyone in the state was as forward thinking.
Here’s an example of the kind of top-notch, small-batch Washington state wines that seem to be exceptionally difficult to find outside of the winery itself.
We paid a visit to these guys when we were in Walla Walla in 2010. They were among the wineries in the very charming Walla Walla Wine Incubators, which is are basically little pastel garages by the airport where talented winemakers get to ply their trade for a period of time.
Anyway, the Kontos brothers aren’t messing around. Every wine they made that we tried tasted great. Rich like most WW wines, but not overdone at all. Very impressive stuff.
This wine, a 5-year old Merlot dominant blend, still tasted fresh when we popped it with Sunday dinner, so who knows how long it has in its future? Another ten years, easy.
This is a very compelling wine. I’m sure some people will wine about the new oak, but I think its perfectly integrated here. The wine tastes like meat, berries, chocolate and velvet, and has enough acid to easily go with food.
A big, serious wine that shows an important side to Walla Walla merlot.
Grace Estate is the name given to the Albemarle Vineyard that’s long been known as Mt. Juliet. This relatively large grape producer has supplied fruit to a lot of the best Virginia wineries for years, and is now striking out on its own (in addition to continuing to produce fruit for other wineries.)
The winery opened for public tastings in mid-April, and pours wine in a modest building a top of a rustic wooden bar. For now, it’s all about the wine at Grace Estates, and the wine seems pretty good.
At opening, the winery was pouring a Chardonnay, a Viognier, a white blend, a red blend, a Tannat and a Cab Sav. All of the wines fell on the “good” side of the spectrum, but the Chard, the white blend and the Cab Sav were very, very good.
This appears to be a welcome addition to the Central Virginia wine scene, and the people behind the venture clearly know what they are doing. We paired a visit to Grace with a stop by the nearby Stinson Vineyards, which continues to make good and distinct wines in a friendly, no-frills tasting room.
No bad wines at Stinson–we bought a nice dry Rose.
Both Grace Estate and Stinson are highly recommended.
Who doesn’t like Beaujolais? Dummies, that’s who.
This is, for my money and taste buds, the best place to look for interesting, fairly priced bottles that you could drink year round. If I could snap my fingers and make half my collection into Beaujolais, I’d do it. It’s crazy what people pay for pinot from Burgundy or the best Napa bottles given that world-class Bojo can be found for $20, and usually tops out around $35.
(Here’s a great recent primer from the NY Times about the region and its high-quality wines.)
Anyway, this particular wine is textbook quality Beaujolais from an esteemed producer in a good vintage. It has the hallmark freshness of most bottles but with the seriousness of a gamay that is not messing around. Sour cherries and minerals. Put a slight chill on it and set sails to the Isle of Delicious.
If you’re remotely interested in value wines, this one probably needs no introduction. The 2011 got crazy press, and now seems to fly off the shelf as soon as it’s restocked. At $7 to $9 a bottle, it’s easy to taste why.
I’m not sure I’d go in for a case of this stuff, because I feel like you might tire of it after a bit. But again, for $7, it’s an all-time great red wine value.
It tastes like raspberry jam and dirt. It’s big and rich and sweet, but not cloying. No one wouldn’t like this.
I think that what these big cheap Spanish wines get right that big cheap Australian wines fail at is modest to no oak and decent acidity.
It goes in the Cheap Wine Hall of Fame.
Champagne is expensive, and cavas are cheap but mostly only fleetingly interesting.
For middle-ground, you should look to various French sparklers, and specifically, this one.
This sparkling rose from the tiny Jura region is simply the best non-Champagne French sparkler I’ve ever had. There’s plenty of strawberries and minerals here and a hint of pleasant funky oxidation, but what sets it apart is that yeasty, dough-y goodness you find in so much Champagne.
For just over $20, that’s a deal.
Picked this up when I needed to fill up a case to get free shipping. It had a lot of glowing press and I didn’t have any other Grenache Blanc-dominant blends.
So, for $15, I figured the chance of disappointment was slim.
And, and, and…it’s a good bottle. Very rich. Full of honey and super ripe apricots. It definitely trends toward the “fat” side of the spectrum, as opposed to crisp, but it’s fat and pretty, like my favorite cat. Not fat and oaky.
Solid buy that should impress the other people at your table and will go with a variety of food.