2009 Landing Place Chardonnay

2009 Landing Place ChardonnayPrice: $2.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Landing Place Cellars “Lively apple and lemon aromas and flavors, medium bodied, crisp and creamy with a hint of oak.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) This wine, a Rodney Strong offering, starts soft with lemon edges. Medium bodied with spiced, oak overtones which give way to green apple flavors on a medium/short, creamy finish. Simple, balanced and straightforward. While not overly impressive this certainly delivers beyond its $3 price tag…

Rating: 12th Bottle <- A guilt free bottle worth keeping around the house...

Wine Geek Notes: Winemaker = Greg Morthole

2009 Bodegas Vinae Mureri Xiloca

2008 Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Blanc - SemillonPrice: $9.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Classical Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Located just outside of the Calatayud D.O. (famous for Las Rocas, amongst other inexpensive Garnachas), Xiloca actually reminds me of the incredible value these wines presented about 10 or so years ago: big, juicy, spicy, plump berry fruit, without the sense of overt fruitiness nor dumbed down to simplicity, which unfortunately has become very common in many Spanish (and French) Garnachas of late. Produced from vines averaging 80 years, yielding only 1/3 ton per acre (!), in arguably one of the world’s best suited terroirs for Garnacha, this wine offers a whole lot for the money. Highly recommended.” (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish Wine Buyer)

What I Think:

(14%) 100% Grenache – Picked this one up after receiving an email offer from K&L Wines. Rich, earthy nose loaded with cherries. On the palate this one is rich, lush and juicy but yet balanced. Nice spice and berry fruit but backed by a mineral, rocky acidity that adds dimension to this wine. Very enjoyable with nice layers of complexity and an earthy finish that goes on and on. Granted I’m a sucker for Grenache but at $10 this is a gem! Just bought 3 more bottles…

Rating: Buy It

Wine Geek Notes: Imported by Classical Wines; Produced from vines averaging 80 years; Yields managed to only 1/3 ton per acre

2009 Bonterra Rose

2009 Bonterra RosePrice: $2.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Bonterra (pdf) “Our Rosé continues to exemplify the standard we set with our first vintage – a dry, crisp, complex and refreshing Rosé with beautiful color. We’ve used a collection of varietals to contribute surprising complexity and a beautiful deep-pink color. For this vintage we focused on Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Carignane and just a little Grenache, all from Mendocino County. The grapes were picked when they had achieved a great balance of ripe fruit and racy acidity. They were then cold-fermented in stainless steel to preserve the great floral and fruit aromas. The knock-your-socks-off color is just the beginning. Chilled a bit, the wine reveals aromas and flavors of strawberry, tart cherry, raspberries, watermelon, and spice with a wonderful dry, lingering finish.

What I Think:

(13.4%) 45% Sangiovese, 26% Zinfandel, 15% Carignane, 9% Grenache – Bright pink (more than I like) and aged this one starts off on the wrong foot but at $3 I couldn’t help but roll the dice. Simple and mineral driven on the palate with spiced edges. Not much fruit left here but you get some faint strawberries on a dry, clean palate with a nice, crisp finish. Certainly not a bad wine to drink but not one you want to spend time “tasting”. Worth buying at $3 if you are looking for something to mindlessly sip on this summer. I may even grab another bottle or two for myself but this isn’t the steal of a deal I was hoping it might have been…

Rating: Try It (at $2.99 you don’t have much to lose…)

Wine Geek Notes: Certified organic; Twist-off

2009 Dos Minas Malbec

2009 Dos Minas MalbecPrice: $11.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Michael Skurnik Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Plain and simple, this is delicious, organic malbec, perhaps the best $12 and under version we’ve tasted all year. It is produced from 15 year-old vines in sandy, rocky clay in the high (5,500 feet plus) elevations of Cafayate, Argentina. A brief four month elevage in used French oak helps to add some texture without taking away from the wonderful fruit. Rich dark fruit aromas lead to a seriously structured palate, full of dark plum fruit and a refreshingly dry, serious quality.”

What I Think:

(14%) Ok, I’ll admit it! When I first bought this one I thought I was trying a wine from El Calafate near Patagonia rather than Cafayate in Salta. Nonetheless still interesting as this one is grown at 5,500+ feet in altitude. Nice mouthfeel here with rough, rocky acidity around the edges protecting a core of plush dark fruits that emerges to coat the mid-palate before velvety, tangy tannins kick in (along with a touch of heat) on a lasting, pepper streaked finish. Delicious! Best Malbec I’ve had in ages. I really like the rocky, earthy balance added to the as expected lush, rich Malbec fruit. This one also gives me the sense it can age. An almost unbelievable value at $12. I’ve already bought more!

Rating: Wow!

2009 Tormaresca Neprica Puglia IGT

2009 Tormaresca Neprica Puglia IGTPrice: $7.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Chateau Ste. Michelle

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines 90 points and a Best Buy from the Wine Enthusiast: “Neprica is an awesome blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon from southern Italy that offers an unbeatable price versus quality ratio. This rising star of Puglia would pair with meats, pasta or aged cheese and offers clean aromas of ripe fruit, spice and leather.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) 40% Negromaro, 30% Primitivo, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon – Tormaresca is owned by the Antinori family, and distributed by Chateau Ste. Michelle. This bottle hails from the south of Italy and opens with lush but rustic fruit (strawberry, sour cherry, red licorice spice) showing nice depth. It comes across as juicy, smooth and balanced with some pleasant earthiness on the edges. Nice acidity and structure on the mid-palate despite the big fruit. Spiced on the mid-palate this one turns dry, meaty and herbal on the finish with smooth tannins and lingering black pepper notes. There is nothing out of whack here. Gets better with time and air so give it an hour if you can. Either way this is still the most exciting $8 bottle I’ve found in some time. I just bought 6 more!

Rating: Bulk Buy

2009 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve

This wine is the equivalent of a long time friend. We can not talk for ages but once we do we can pick up right where we left off. Made by the Perrin brothers, the owners of the famed Chateau de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Southern Rhone (and involved more locally with Tablas Creek) this has long been on of my go to wines. That said this was my first experience with the 2009, what did I find?

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Vineyard Brands

What They Said:

2009 Perrin Cotes du Rhone ReservePer wine.com “A sensational bargain, the 2009 Perrin et Fils Cotes du Rhone Reserve red is composed of 60% Grenache (from the estate vineyards at Prebois), 20% Syrah (from the estate vineyards in Vinsobres), and 20% Mourvedre. It offers lots of black cherry fruit, underbrush, licorice, pepper, and spice notes in a medium-bodied, richly fruity style with no hard edges. Their 2008 was a surprisingly good effort, but the 2009 is slightly riper and bigger.” 89pts, The Wine Advocate

What I Think:

(13.5%) 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre – A classic Rhone blend this is a tried and true value wine. Like the CdP efforts this one is predominately Grenache and starts ripe and juicy with pomegranate, cherry, raspberry and spiced red licorice on the palate. From there the acidity dries turning this one meaty, earthy and rustic before a short peppery finish. That said overall this one is bright, fruity, spicy and delicious. Should only get better with age to boot…

Wine Geek Notes: 87pts Wine Spectator, 89 pts Wine Advocate, 75,000 cases made

Rating: Buy It (I’m leaning towards grabbing 6+ bottles for some short term cellaring)

2009 Heron Hill Unoaked Chardonnay Ingle Vineyard

2009 Heron Hill Vineyards Chardonnay Unoaked Ingle VineyardPrice: $19.99 @ Heron Hill Winery*

What They Said:

Per Heron Hill Winery “Sustainably farmed, grapes were selected from the Ingle Vineyard plots named “Carl & Vern’s Blocks”. These plots are cooler and have a mineral laden, rocky soil. Pure and firmly structured with aromas of crushed granite, lemongrass, citrus and green apple. It has balance and finesse finishing with lingering essences of fresh fruit.”

What I Think:

(12%) Wow did this one surprise. I’m not much of a Chard fan so the “unoaked” certainly left me a glimmer of hope but this wine really stood out. Bright lemon with green apple and a fresh stony mineral driven crispness. Nice pureness and clarity throughout. Certainly simpler but somewhat reminiscent of Chablis. Given its lightness this one is would serve well as an aperitif. $20 via the winery but appears to be available for $16 or so retail which makes it a more compelling choice.

Wine Geek Notes: 87 pts Wine Enthusiast

Rating: Good but… (just a tad too pricey given my wine budget)

*This wine was received as a press sample.

2009 Tribunal Cellars Red

2009 Tribunal Cellars RedPrice: $16.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the “top secret” Trader Joe’s spec sheet “Aromas of raspberry and sage combine with a mouthful of chocolate richness to uniquely express our part of California. Prime rib or a juicy T-bone with garlicy rabe are the first things we think of when we sip this wine.”

What I Think:

Tribunal Cellars Red Shelf Talker(15.6%) 26% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah, 30% Syrah, and 22% other Rhone and Bordeaux varietals – Starts on the downside of up as it is only available via 1.5L bottles (this is the 2nd batch of 2009 and the first to appear as only magnums) which makes me feel like I am being hustled at this price point. That said this wine is big from the get go but integrated. Juicy and focused with spiced fruit turning a bit sweet on the backbone. From there it turns dry on a leathery spiced finish with tangy tannins. Big for me but I know many prefer this style and you could do far worse. For those lucky enough to be spending some time in the mountains this seems like a perfect wine to have by the fire after a day on the slopes…

Wine Geek Notes: ABV per bottle is 15.1%; 7 Months in oak, 25% New French & American; 17 cases to a store, 6 bottles to case

Rating: Buy It

2009 C. Donatiello Pinot Noir

Price: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2009 C. Donatiello Winery Pinot NoirPer C. Donatiello Winery “Spicy black pepper, dried cranberries, cola, mocha and cherries on the nose. The palate starts bright and clean with deeply layered flavors of raspberry and rhubarb which give way to flavors of cinnamon and chocolate. The finish is long and clean with balanced tannins, acidity and oak.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) $38 via the winery in an etched bottle, clearly not intended for Trader Joe’s where I picked it up for $10. Bright, big and clean while at the same time balanced. Forward fruit with cherry (cranberry) cola flavors and vibrant acidity. A bit of oak creaminess on the backbone before the fruit turns a tad tart with cinnamon spice (and a bit of heat) on the finish. Not my preferred style but well made, no harsh edges and smooth throughout. If you’re a fan of Russian River (or even more broadly California) Pinot Noir you likely can’t go wrong here…

Rating: Buy It (if you’re a California Pinot fan!)

2009 Sainte Leocadie Minervois Rosé

2009 Domaine Sainte Leocadie Minervois RoséPrice: $4.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “What do you get when you combine saigneed grapes (40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 20% Cinsault) with one of Southern France’s most ideal terroirs? This deeply colored pink wine is a poolside sipper if there ever was one. Plenty of spice, garrigue and red fruits. Great with grilled Provencal pizza!”

What I Think:

(13%) 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 20% Cinsault – A saignée style rose of the Minervois this one is beautiful salmon pink in color. On the palate this is full and dry with briary strawberry notes showing over a mineral acidity that slowly fades on a soft, spiced finish. A bit richer than your typical rose (attributable to the saignee syle) makes this one a bit better suited to go with a summer lunch than as a patio sipper. Either way for $6 (which is what I paid; $5 now) this is a steal…

Rating: Buy It