2010 Jaja de Jau Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $9.99 via Pasternak Wines (pdf)*

What They Said:

2010 Jaja de Jau Sauvignon BlancPer Palate Press “The nose is very aromatic, offering up tropical white flowers, sweet pink grapefruit, and a very light touch of gooseberry. The flavors tend more to citrus on the palate, lemons and white grapefruit lead the attack, adding white flowers and starfruit on the mid-palate. A distinct minerality and salinity underlie all the flavors, from start through the finish. A very strong backbone of acid runs through the wine, giving it very clean, bright flavors and the ability match up to the heaviest foods. Drink it with stuffed flounder. Highly Recommended.”

What I Think:

(11.5%) 100% Sauvignon Blanc – My 2nd vintage of this wine (I covered the ’09 here) this one is pale yellowish gold in color with a grassy nose. Bright and fresh on the nose with some red grapefruit flavors before a zingy acidity (with a tinge of mineral salitness) kicks in leading to a (whole lot of) puckering tart, lemon finish that is crisp and refreshing while lingering nicely. I was again surprised at how much I liked this one. Not tropical but New Zealand like in style this is a simple (yet aggressive) wine. That said with my penchant for exploring I’m not sure I’ll revisit this one but given two years of consistency you could certainly do far worse at the $10 (or less) you can pick this one up for… Ready made to pair with the seafood dish of your choice.

Rating: Good but…(given my exploring ways I’m unlikely to be stocking up)

*This wine was received as a press sample

2010 Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc

I’ve had a few vintages of this one and it has always been a good choice for the money. Long a fan of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (and given the broad distribution reach this one has) I was hoping it would once again highlight why Chile is an area to be exploring further. Did it? Read on my friends…

Price: $10.99 via Pasternak Wines (pdf)*

What They Said:

2010 Los Vascos Sauvignon BlancPer International Wine Cellar “Bright straw. Spice and herb-accented aromas of citrus zest and green apple, enriched by a deeper honeysuckle nuance. Dry, taut and linear, offering dusty lemon and grapefruit flavors, along with a suggestion of melon. Shows good clarity and closes with fine cut and lingering spiciness. I like this wine’s uncompromising character. ” 88pts – International Wine Cellar

What I Think:

(13%) Pale greenish yellow in the glass. Big grassy, lemon nose. Big and tropical on the palate with bright flavors of pineapple, grapefruit and peach. This one is lively and fresh with an herbed, spiced mineral acidity that keeps it bright and refreshing throughout. This all leads to a zesty citrus finish that is clean, focused and persistent. Available for as little as $8 retail. Given its broad availability this one is worth grabbing if you don’t mind your wines aggressive or should you ever find yourself in a pinch…

Wine Geek Notes: 20,000 cases made

Rating: Buy It

*This wine was received as a press sample.

2008 Terracita Tempranillo

2008 Terracita TempranilloPrice: $9.00 @ Pasternak Wines imported by Pasternak Wine

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Feel like dancing the Flamenco, running with the bulls or lounging on the Costa del Sur? Grab a bottle of Terracita, gather your friends and share a little piece of authentic Spain. Terracita is elegant and full bodied, balancing the signature red raspberry flavors of Tempranillo with vanilla and toasted coconut. A solid choice with barbeque spicy sauces and tapas of course.”

What I Think:

This one is made by Bodegas Roqueta and hails from the “region” of Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla which is similar to Vins de Pays designation of France. The “Vinos de la Tierra” designations are, according to Spanish law, a transitional term for areas that can, after 5 years, apply for “Denominación de Origen” status. During this time they benefit from greater freedom than exists under the D.O. system to produce wines as they wish. This gives them leeway in terms of more flexible vineyard management, vinification and aging techniques with more “approved” varietals. The result can be wines that are more innovative and exciting than those of D.O.s. What was the result here? A nice, light wine (which I received as a sample some time back) bursting with bright cherries integrated onto a dry, herbal, earthy backbone with hints of oak, toast and vanilla on the finish. In a word quaffable. Feel free to grab this one whenever that fits the bill.

Rating: 12th Bottle

If you’re interested in another take check out what Rob had to say about this one on the Wine Post.

Summer Time Barbecuing

Summer time makes me think about barbecuing. Along time ago, when I was newer to wine, I had some generalities and preconceived notions about reds… California = Steak. Italian = Pasta. Spain = Spicy. And last but not least France = Chicken, especially at the lower end of the price range. So when these two value French offerings showed up as samples on my doorstep I knew what to do with them. Given those notions are dying slowly I broke out the barbecue sauce and fired up the grill…

2007 Jaja de Jau Syrah2007 Jaja de Jau Syrah – “JaJa” is slang for the Languedoc’s delicious full-flavored everyday wines. This one, a nice juicy quaffer, fit the bill from the start. Made of 100% Syrah was loaded with dark fruit and spices with just enough acidity to provide some balance. While it didn’t stand out it was pleasant and a good match for barbeque fare. That said, as I was drinking this one I noticed the bottle recommended trying this one slightly chilled so in the fridge it went. What a mistake! From there on out it was undrinkable to me. So if you happen to buy this one whatever you do, don’t let it anywhere near the refrigerator… If you want to read more about this one, check out what the Wine Post had to say. If you’ve heard enough and are ready to track down a bottle check out this handy, dandy search feature from the importer, Pasternak Wines, who can help you find it at a retailer near you.

2007 Les Deux Rives Corbieres Rouge2007 Les Deux Rives Corbieres Rouge – Hard to pronounce (lay doo reev core bee air rooozh), this one is from the Corbieres area of the Languedoc. The Corbieres is one of the largest wine appellations in France and the main grape grown here is Carignan which is often, as here, used for blending. This one is 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre and 10% Carignan. It too qualifies as a quaffer. A soft nose of light cherry aromas greet you. On the palate this one is easy going with a bit of acidity and tannins to keep it well balanced. Along the way it shows notes from a variety of red fruits; cherries and cranberries, that lead to a warm, dry, slightly tart finish. A great match for grilled chicken. The bottle notes here also recommended serving it “slightly cool” but given my experience with the above I decided to pass this time around. You can read more about this one over on Wine Weekly or if you’re interested in tracking this one down search for a retailer near you here.

There you go, a couple quaffers for sipping by the barbie. Thanks to Pasternak Wine Imports for sending these my way.

2008 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Pasternak Wine

What They Said:

2008 Dashwood Sauvignon BlancPer K&L Wines “90 points in the Wine Spectator: “Vivid, refreshing and brimming with lime-accented pear, star fruit and light vanilla flavors, lingering nicely on the expressive finish. Drink now. 2,000 cases imported” (April 2009) Meyer lemon, tangerine, lime zest, papaya and pineapple. A veritable cocktail of fruit flavors, but fortunately the Dashwood never tastes like fruit cocktail. Nor is it overwhelmed with the grassy, herbal flavors that sometimes plague the value wines of New Zealand. This wine has lovely delineation of flavors ranging from the citrus to the tropical, but it never becomes cloying or overbearing. The Kim Crawford SB may currently hold the crown as our best-selling Kiwi wine, but for less money (and, I feel, better quality) the Dashwood should easily knock it from its throne.. All this and a terrific review in the Wine Spectator and you have our best bargain in Sauvignon Blanc this year. (Keith Mabry, K&L Hollywood)”

What I Think:

I was tipped off to this one by Danny a while back and shortly thereafter picked up a bottle. The bottle made it to the fridge and eventually onto the table and into the glass. As I stuck my nose in for the @garyvee sniffy, sniff it was as if I was standing under a lime tree near a pile of freshly cut grass which was dumped over a bed of rocks lying next to a cool stream. Were you able to follow all that? Now that I’ve had my fun with words let’s try this a different way. You get fresh cut grass and mineral on the nose. Once in the mouth you’re greeted with limes galore on a nice acidic backbone. Meyer lemons and gooseberry greet you on the mid palate leading to a tart, crisp finish. This one is a winner. There is a lot of great value Sauvignon Blanc’s coming out of New Zealand. If you’re still looking for your go to bottle, of if me you like a little variety, definitely give this one a try. Thanks again to Danny for the tip!

Rating: Buy It

2007 Trumpeter Malbec

2007 Trumpeter MalbecPrice: $9.99 @ Pasternak Wines imported by Pasternak Wine

What They Said:

Per wine.com “Inky and dense with attractive berry aromas and a touch of cinnamon and sweet spice. A fully, fruity wine, with excellent body, intense tannins, flavors of cherry, blackberry, boysenberry and plum intermingled with hints of cardamom and pepper, and a long, full finish.”

“Juicy raspberry, blackberry and fig flavors are backed by well-integrated toast on the medium-weight finish. Drink now.” 87 Points, Wine Spectator, February 28, 2009

What I Think:

The Trumpeter label is under the Familia Rutini umbrella which dates back to 1885. They currently own estates in five different areas of Mendoza. If I recall correctly, this one use to carry the Tupungato designation on its label though that now seems to have disappeared. Given that this wine is widely available and Familia Rutini has 255 hectares under vine I was thinking perhaps these grapes are being, at least partially, sourced. Then I realized I had no idea what I was talking about and set out to learn a bit more. To get to bottles you need to know how many hectoliters of wine they get per hectare. This can vary drastically and averages near 25hl in Spain to areas of the Mosel that yield 100hl. Let’s assume 60hl here. Given I know 1 hectoliter equals 133 bottles we arrive at approximately 170,000 cases from 255 hectares. Visiting the Rutini Wines website I found that they reported producing 7-8 million (80k hl) liters annually which equates to 888,000 cases. Reversing my previous exercise this would require a yield 313hl per hectare. It looks like my instinct on them sourcing grapes is correct. Wow did I wander off the topic here, apologies! Let’s get back to the wine shall we…

This wine, which I received as a sample some time back, is exactly what you’d expect from a Malbec. Juicy and dense, loaded with plum flavors intermingled with spices that lead to a warm, vanilla toasty (barrel tannins?) finish. Add this one to the long line (Alamos, Pascual Toso, Terrazas de los Andes) of quality Malbec’s out there for less than a $10 spot. Don’t hesitate to pick this one up should it grab your attention, it makes a perfect pairing with nearly any evening summer barbeque.

Rating: Buy It