2011 Weingut Allram Grüner Veltliner

2011 Weingut Allram Grüner VeltlinerPrice: $10.99 (for 1L) @ K&L Wines imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “From some of the top sites in the Kamptal. Michaela Haas is the 4th generation of this family to run the 23 ha domaine. Fermented and aged in stainless steel and bottled with a crown cap, this is the perfect liter – fresh, light and snappy; delivering all the thirst quenching qualities you look for in a wine like this. The nose is textbook Gruner Veltliner filled with spice and pepper, snap pea and grapefruit. It is sleek, focused and juicy owing to the wonderful bright acid structure of the 2011 vintage.”

What I Think:

(13%) Fresh and zippy with bright, juicy grapefruit before a refreshing, white pepper laced finish that lingers on nicely. A thirst quencher except that it keeps calling you back for more. Before you know it the 1L bottle is gone. Perhaps Grüner on summer solstice should become a new tradition. Between this and the Franz Etz one should always be on hand…

Rating: Buy It

Wine Geek Notes: Direct K&L import, Fermented and aged in stainless steel, Pop-top so have your bottle opener handy

2010 Grifone Primitivo

2010 Grifone PrimitivoPrice: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s “Grifone Primitivo comes to us from Italy, Zinfandel’s ancestral home. Grapes from vineyards in the Manduria region (geographically, in the boot’s heel) are handpicked at their peak and crafted into a deep, inky red wine with concentrated aromas of red berries and licorice. Not quite as spicy as American Zinfandels, this Primitivo is full-bodied, warm & fruity, with strong, lingering tannins. It’s a wine that’s meant to be enjoyed now”

What I Think:

(13%) 100% Primitivo – Ruby red in the glass with a light strawberry/raspberry, floral nose. On the palate this one is fruit forward with more of those tart red berry fruits. This one turns a tad creamy before an acidic streak kicks in delivering loads of spice on a (slightly hot) tangy, tannic finish. While this one has nice forward fruit it is a bit rough and rustic around the edges which I like. For $4 this is an enjoyable wine I am likely to be buying again (but steer clear of the Toscana…)

Rating: Buy It

Interested in reading more about the Grifone Primitivo?

  • My friends over at Beards & Bellies describe this as “Not an overwhelming wine, but a great and enjoyable everyday drink to go with dinner, although it is more than fine on its own.”
  • The folks over at Cheap Wine Finder call this one a “very complete wine for $3.99.”

2010 Quinson Fils Rose

Long a fan of rosé from Provence not only was I curious but just had to see what this one could deliver for a five spot…

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

2010 Quinson Fils RoseHmmm… Not a word to be found. Guess you’ll just have to trust me…

What I Think:

(12.5%) Nice pale salmon pink color (not dyed). Medium bodied, pleasant Grenache like strawberry and watermelon fruit. Spiced minerality. Dry, crisp and pleasing. Perhaps a bit faint or simple on the back of the palate but no flaws here. Still delivers for the price point despite the strange bottle. If you are looking for a rose this is as good as it is going to get for $5 (unless you can grab the 2009 Domaine Sainte Leocadie Minervois Rosé at K&L Wines).

Rating: Buy It (if you’re a rosé fan…)

2011 Ferngreen Sauvignon Blanc

As part of my quasi-investigative Trader Joe’s Thursday series I delved back into the New Zealand section, where I’ve always had much success, to see what I might find. The beloved King Shag is no more so I was curious as to see whether this one (which is by the way my very first wine from the 2011 vintage) might be an apt replacement and a potential candidate for the Holiday 2011 Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wine List. Word on the street on is that it might be an early favorite for a midrange spot. Want to hear more? Read on my friends…

2011 Ferngreen Sauvignon BlancPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Marlborough is one of the regions of New Zealand, located in the northeast of the South Island, known for its dry climate, the pictueresque Marlborough Sounds, and sauvignon blanc wine. Between two mountainous areas in the long straight valley of the Wairau River. This broadens to wide plains at the eastern end, in the centre of which stands Bleinheim. This region has fertile soil and temperate weather, and as such has become a centre of the New Zealand wine industry.”

What I Think:

(13%) This one is a fairly spot on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with a big, bright mouthfeel showing loads of ripe gooseberry, guava and passion fruit flavors. A lemon, citrus acidity emerges on the mid-palate and drives through to a dry, lip smacking finish. Perhaps a bit too ripe for my taste but no doubt a good value for those fans of this style.

Rating: Buy It

2006 Chapillon Priorat Reves

Price: $8.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

2006 Chapillon Priorat RevesPer Trader Joe’s (pdf) “Tenacity and grace—that’s Priorat. This small region, southeast of Barcelona, is known for its steep hillsides, hot days and unforgiving, slate-based soils (known locally as licorella). Cultivated since the Carthusian monks in the Middle Ages, this formidable terroir, now a Spanish Denominació d’Origen Qualificada (DOQ1), gives rise to grapes that are equal parts perseverance and elegance. Their juice is surreal: intense and stunningly structured with soft tannins. Experience it in Rêves.”

What I Think:

(14%) 40% Carignan, 35% Garnacha, 25% Syrah – Dense and dark in the glass. Aromatically interesting with dark fruit, sweet cigarbox, spice and graphite notes. Supple and dense (again) on entry with tart blackberry flavors this one shows slight creaminess and vanilla on the mid-palate before leading to a short, dry leathery finish with mild tannins. On open it seemed overly oaked but this blew off with time. This wine showed nice structure and balanced throughout. Certainly an interesting find for $9.

Rating: Buy It – This wine might not be for all but if you like a dry, rich, dense wine or are comfortable trying something new at this price point it is worth giving this one a shot.

For those willing to spend just a bit more Joe over at Good Cheap Vino recommends the 2003 Les Mines Priorat which you can pick up as part of the 5 cent sale at BevMo for $12.52 a bottle. Joe has this to say; “This bottle is severely under-priced and could easily take on bottles that are $40-$50.” and compared it to the Reves as so “for $4 more, the Les Mines Priorat 2003 is 20 times better”. I know I am going to try and track a bottle down and you may want to do the same…

2009 Laurent Reverdy Sancerre

2009 Laurent Reverdy SancerrePrice: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

De nada which comes as no surprise given the importer here, Latitude wines, only handles import and logistics for Trader Joe’s. Given that I would love to hear the story of how this one ended up on the shelves of my local store. Does Trader Joe’s send buyers to France to scout out these bargain offerings? If so I clearly have the wrong job…

What I Think:

When something comes recommended from Angela you have to try it (the Trader Joe’s Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir is on deck). Given the conversations we have had over the last years I could count the palates I trust more on one hand. So when she gave the word I headed straight out to scoop up a bottle of this one. What did I find?

Mineral, fresh grass and loads of lemon on the nose. You get more of the same on the palate where you find mild white pepper overtones as well. Slight pucker emerges but quickly fades into a tangy, balanced finish. I haven’t had much Sauvignon Blanc from France but this finish surprised me. The acidity on this one was not overpowering which is different from what I generally see in the new world offerings (which I typically drink) from New Zealand or Chile. This made it come across as somewhat “refined” and makes it quite food friendly. At $10 this wine, while straightforward, is very well made and delivers a fair quality to price ratio. If you are a fan of or interested in Sancerre (or are interested in a mellower version of Sauvignon Blanc) this one is certainly worth a try…

Rating: Pricey

What did others think about the Laurent Reverdy Sancerre? Here’s Jeff’s thoughts from over at Viva La Wino

2005 Monte Ducay Cariñena Reserva

2005 Monte Ducay Cariñena ReservaPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per Bodegas San Valero (on the ’06) “Beautiful morello cherry colour, with brick red sparkles. Fragrant and delicate in the nose. Refined bouquet, rich and well balanced. The aftertaste is long and persistent.”

What I Think:

As mentioned in a previous post this one has some interesting packaging as it comes wrapped in brown paper. From a marketing perspective I’m not sure how that would have affected me but we will never know as buying this one was a foregone conclusion based on a mostly positive review by Jeff over at Viva la Wino!. Funny enough like him I ripped the wrapper offer expecting to find something underneath but alas no. Either way, no matter. Let’s get to what’s in the bottle.

This one is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon (special shout out to Æsop for tracking that one down!) On opening you get all wood on the nose with the only exception being some barrel spices that manage to sneak through. The palate starts with an overpowering herbal acidity which takes a moment to reveal some sour, under ripe cherry flavors that come across on a juicy backbone before leading to a hot finish. This wine becomes more approachable with time showing some dark fruit aromas on the nose and remnants of the same on the finish. This leaves me in somewhat of a conundrum as initially I almost hated it but found a trace of enjoyment towards the finish. Couple that with the fact that others have liked it and perhaps I’ll give it another try but not likely. If I do, one thing is for sure I’ll be giving it lots of air and pairing it with strong foods or cheeses. Hoping for better I tried the 2008 Darien Tempranillo ($6) the same night and that one didn’t work for me either.

So how about you? Have you had any Spanish wines you’ve enjoyed lately? If so let me know in the comments below. I look forward to hearing!

Rating: 12th Bottle

NV Albero Sparkling White

NV Albero Sparkling WhitePrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per RJ’s Wine Blog “Very nice bubbly for $5, that’s for sure. Nice acidity levels, but still a creamy / buttery finish, with just a touch of lemon and the right amount of crispness. The bubbles are closer to a Prosecco than a champagne, which I really like because I think you can taste the fruit and the wine more with lighter bubbles than with most champagnes. Definitely competes with a $15 – $20 bottle of champagne and much more flavor than most sub-$15 champagnes I’ve tasted. Overall, a great value at $5.”

What I Think:

Having tried both the Monastrell (Mourvedre) and Tempranillo from Albero with lukewarm results this one was on my pass list until I stumbled on RJ’s review mentioned above. On opening the first thing I notice is the lack of bubbles in the glass, as in almost none. On the nose crisp white fruit notes, apple and pears. Simple on the palate, not much flavor at all. The overall structure is yeasty and/or creamy but nothing is happening on top of it. Just a slight hint of citrus/tartness on the finish. Nothing wrong with this one, just better options available. That said, I think this one jsut doesn’t match my palate as the sentiment on this one across the blogsphere as been widely positive.  At 11.5% reminds me of the NV Espiral Vinho Verde from Portugal which checks in at 9%. I prefer that one, with its effervescent quality it reminds me more of a sparkler than a still white wine.

In need of other sparkling recommendations? The Zonin Prosecco is my pick in the more traditional flavor profile style. Another favorite is the Schloss Biebrich Sekt from Germany.

Rating: Skip It

Editor’s Note (05-Jun-2009): Per my comment below I modified this post to reflect that the general impressions of this wine across the internet have been largely positive.

2006 Albero Tempranillo

2006 Albero TempranilloPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Tempranillo Barrica is made by Spain’s Oldest Estate Bottled Winery. Spain’s finest, proudly made with hand selected certified organically grown grapes. Albero Tempranillo Barrica is perfect when enjoying with friends or in giving the gift of wine.” <– thanks for all the helpful information :)

What I Think:

Reading the bottle I find two bits of information for me to start my investigation. The first is to Iranzo Vineyards. Checking the site there is no mention of this offering there. As we learned from the Terrenal Mendoza Cab it could be the case that they are relabeling one of the offerings we see here as the Albero that landed in Trader Joe’s. That is pure speculation of course. The second clue is to Latitude Wines. If anyone from either of these companies is listening I have some advice. Please, I repeat please, never post your web address somewhere (like the bottle!) when you have nothing for me to see on the other end!

Ok, got that off my chest. Now let’s move on to the main event, the wine. As you can see from above the world, nor the winery, has much to say about this one. My friend @oenanist does. He tipped me off to this one via comments and posted a review on cork’d as well. What did I think? On the nose I sensed dark fruit with hints of spice (and possibly some green vegetal) aromas. Sage? Or maybe it was floral, violets? On the palate a nice dose of cherries greeted me that turned a bit sour towards the mid-palate. That was followed by a nice dry finish on the back of the throat that tickled with light tannins. This was night 5, hardly remember day 1 but it seems a lot smoother. Compared to a typical light, juicy Tempranillo this one seems a bit heavier in the mouth and darker in fruit. My verdict, drinkable but not all that memorable. I’d stick with the Raimat over this one but that is just my opinion. Let me know what you think…

Rating: 12th Bottle

2004 Chateau de la Galiniere Cotes de Provence Rouge

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per the bottle “The Chateau and its vineyards are situated at the foothills of the majestic Cengle de la Sainte Victoire range of hills in the village of Chateauneuf-le-Rouge. From hand-picked grapes, this elegant wine reveals a complex bouquet of plums, aniseed and violets and rick, silky flavours.”

What I Think:

Can this really be hand picked at this price point? If so it must be the seconds or thirds of something much better. Before I get too much further I should explain that I have somewhat of an infatuation with wines from the Provencal region so keep that in mind as you read on..

On pulling the cork the first thing you get is something barnyard-ish on the nose. Not in a bad way, or a great one either. It was kind of dry and dusty with hints of flower and spice. On the palate you get some light fruit, perhaps plums, which quickly fade leading to a slightly tart, tongue smacking dry finish. On the second day it started to open up a bit more and there was more dark fruit noticeable. Given my relationship with this region I will be giving it another try, whether you do or not is your call.

Rating: 12th Bottle