2010 Pontificis Red

2010 Pontificis RedPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s “The meal isn’t quite ready… still. An interesting, smooth-drinking bottle is just the thing to placate palates and provoke conversation – a “bridge builder,” if you will. This cheeky nod to Châteauneuf-du-Pape is perfect. Made from the signature Côtes du Rhône GSM blend – Grenache, Syrah & Mourvèdre – Pontificis boasts intense aromas of black fruits with spicy nuances and floral hints. With satiny tannins, it’s rich and full-flavored without being dogmatic (too early for that). It’s good. It could even carry you right through the turkey, should you wish, and you may very well at our price of $5.99* for a 750 ml bottle.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre – This one comes in a formidable bottle and starts with dark, voluminous fruit but balanced, smooth and spiced too. Nice stuff. Not complex but I’d be pleased with this one in the $10-12 range so definitely worth stocking up on at $6. I picked up another half case. And if you’re looking, given the blend, this is a fine match for turkey. Drink up!

Rating: Bulk Buy <- been a long time since I dished one of these out…

Wine Geek Notes: Appears to be associated with Laurent Delaunay and hat tip to my friend Pierre for turning me onto this one

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

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 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!

Top 10 Trader Joe’s Wines: 2012 Spring Edition

Top 10 Trader Joe’s Wines: 2012 Spring EditionWell perhaps you are surprised as I am to see this but the fact is that Trader Joe’s is on a decent little run of getting some nice juice in. Certainly the best that I can remember in at least the last 18 months. Coupled with the fact that many from my previous version are no longer available and it seemed like the time was ripe to refresh the list. So without further ado I present the latest:

Enjoy! And let me know your thoughts and more importantly your favorites; Trader Joe’s or not. Until then may you find something good in your glass!

2008 Mud House Swan Pinot Noir

Price: $10.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Maritime Wine Trading Collective

What They Said:

2008 Mud House Swan Pinot NoirPer K&L Wines “This is a great deal in Pinot Noir coming in at 1/2 the normal price. The fruit comes from Central Otago which is the new “darling” area for New Zealand Pinot and to be specific the sub-region of Bendigo. The wine which spent 10 months in 30% new French oak offers a bouquet of raspberry, cherry, clove, earth and mocha. On the palate, there are fine tannins that frame the core of fruit with good acidity supporting the fine finish. Buy a case of this one. (Jim Chanteloup K&L New Zealand Wine Buyer) Stephen Tanzer adds: “Bright medium red. Red berries and cherry dominate the nose and palate, with some spice notes emerging with air. A juicy, fresh, supple wine with the sweetness of fruit to support its oak element. Finishes with good life and lift.” (Sept/Oct 09)”

What I Think:

(14%) Warm, ripe, supple fruit (tart cherry and raspberry) out of the gate with a beautiful inflection to the proper acidity which also delivers a nice clove spice. This one is a fine choice. Great balance, smooth and lengthy on the palate. A very nice Pinot for the $11 (retail is $24) this one cost me; too bad I didn’t figure that out before they sold out of this one. A very nice, lush, new world, fruit forward Pinot. Would buy more if I could…

Wine Geek Notes: 10 months in 30% new oak; Screwtop; Imported by Maritime Wine Trading Collective

Rating: Buy It

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

2008 Buena Vista Pinot Noir

While we wait for me to get in gear on formally starting the 2012 writing season I thought I’d sneak this out in the meantime. And what better place to start than with one of Angela’s, my right hand (wo)man’s, recommendations. For those that don’t know she is a very trusted palate so when she says run I do and you should feel free to do the same. Not that I needed it but this one also earned some accolades from Joe and the crew over at GoodCheapVino.com which is another trusted resource. Now as for James’s take that this one is no big shakes in comparison to daily deal sites the difference to me is I don’t have to commit to multiple bottles in advance and/or pay shipping charges. Now as for the Fort Ross Pinot he mentions as available at Grocery Outlet ($13) I’d love to give it a try. But in the meantime let’s see what I think of this one…

2008 Buena Vista Pinot NoirPrice: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’sBuena Vista Carneros Pinot Noir is made with grapes grown in the Carneros region, the area that spans the distance between the Napa & Sonoma Valleys. The grapes were handpicked at night to preserve the fruit’s character, then hand sorted to ensure only the very best of the lot were used in the winemaking. After fermentation, the wine is aged for eight months in 33% new French oak barrels, with the remaining wine aged in one to two year old barrels.

This Pinot Noir is bright with Bing cherry, allspice and earthy elements. Blackberry & plum fruit flavors give way to undertones of coffee and clove and a long, supple finish.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) Initially this one comes across as more earthy and minerally before opening up to dark, lush (mainly cherry) fruit with sandalwood and spice. The rich, creamy finish lingers softly with cherry-cola spice. Once given time to breathe this one is smooth and easy drinking throughout. That said be sure to crack the top on this one an hour or two prior to planned consumption. If you can handle that this one offers some nice QPR at $10.

Rating: Buy It

Wine Geek Notes: Screwtop, Aged in 33% new French oak

Top 10 Trader Joe’s Wines: 2011 Holiday Edition

Top 10 Trader Joe’s Wines: 2011 Holiday EditionI’ve been patiently awaiting the arrival of the Trader Joe’s Holiday Guide so I could unveil the latest version of the Top 10 list. So when it arrived in the mail last night I hopped right to action. Well not exactly… This is long overdue and I apologize for anyone that I left hanging for Thanksgiving but have no fear. The The new and improved Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wine List is now available with gift ideas for Christmas and wines to ring in the New Year. Hopefully a little something for everybody. And for those that can’t find these don’t fret. Leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you find something you like. So without further ado I present the latest:

Enjoy! And let me know your thoughts. Stay tuned for my report on my top wines of 2011 (where did the year go!). Until then may you find something good in your glass!

2010 Bodegas Muga Rioja Blanco

2010 Bodegas Muga Rioja BlancoPrice: $13.00 via Bodegas Muja*

What They Said:

Per Wine Library “The 2010 Blanco is a blend of 90% Viura and 10% Malvasia fermented in new French oak where it remained sur lie for 4 months. White flowers, mineral, melon, and mineral notes inform the nose of this tasty, lively, impeccably balanced wine. This lengthy effort is an outstanding value for drinking over the next 3-4 years.” – 90 Points, Jay Miller The Wine Advocate

What I Think:

(13%) 90% Viura, 10% Malvasia – Ripe, lifted citrus blossoms on the nose. Fuller bodied, juicy and lush on the palate with peach, tangerine and melon flavors. Turns a bit oily with a mineral driven acidity before the oak imparts a pleasant vanilla creaminess which leads to a tart, spiced, finish that lingers nicely. An interesting use of oak (this one is barrel-fermented) as it is clearly present but interplays well with the vibrant, ripe fruit. The end result is a wine that strikes a nice balance between the fruit, richness and acidity. At $13 or so retail this one shows some nice QPR.

Wine Geek Notes: 90pts Wine Advocate, 88pts Wine Spectator

Rating: Interesting (this one had a unique appeal that I look forward to trying again)

*This wine was received as a press sample.