Tag Archives: Wine under $20

Puglia Salento’s – 2013 Verso Rosso

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rossoItaly’s Verso Rosso by wine-maker Alessandro Botter came to me thanks to a Whole Foods Market wine distributor event held last year in Fort Lauderdale Florida. My team leader at the time and I flipped over this wine at first pour. A occurance I have to admit didn’t happen often thanks to his advanced palate. We agreed instantly that this wine had to be shared with our customer base and share we have. The Verso Rosso became an instant hit and repeat seller through word of mouth. The fact that we have now sold 20+ cases at one location is our proof.

Hand harvested, with no irrigation, this blend of 60% Negroamaro, 35% Primitivo [the genetic cousin to our Zinfandel], and 5% Malvasia Nera come from bush-trained vineyards. 3,000 vines per hectare [2.417  acres] which produces 1 bottle per plant average yield.  This would explain the bold flavor profile.

My notes:

Red fruit nose [raspberry] opening to a more dark fruit aroma [blackberry and blueberry] with spice. Light side of medium bodied but full of flavor. Good acidity and light on tannins [smooth]. To me, a port-like finish on the palate which must come from the appassimento [raisined grape] process.

Having earned the Wine Spectator “Top Value” designation just goes to show that I am not alone in this Verso Rosso love-fest. Being a California Zinfandel fan, I love that you get a very similar wine here but with some delicateness. Maybe just more “old-world” than “new world”.  Priced at $19.99 this vino is worthy. On sale at $14.99 this could easily become my go-to every day drink of choice. ¡SALUD!

 

From importer enjoysmall.com:

Verso is a very full-bodied, luscious wine made with a small percent of ‘appassimento’, or raisined, grapes. It comes from the same terrific people who make Casa Contini. The grapes are grown on two non-contiguous crus, with about 10,000 cases total made, which is, of course, very small for Puglia. Rich and dark in color, with vibrant spice flavors, it is a hedonistic experience that captures the polished side of Negroamaro and Primitivo.

Casa Contini:

Tasting notes: The good late maturation gives the characteristic notes of ripe and dried fruits, such as plums and raisins. The subsequent slight oak aging gives the pleasant notes of chocolate and spices that make this wine harmonic and balanced, pleasant and mature.

Wine Spectator:

Creamy and harmoniuos, this shows a pretty palate of creme de cassis, melted licorice and sweet smoke, with accents of grilled herb and chocolate mousse on the finish. Drink now through 2018

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Wine Spectator Top 100 – #44 Piattelli Vineyards 2013 Malbec

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PIATTELLI MALBEC 2013Piattelli Vineyards 2013 Malbec Premium Reserve

I discovered this big luscious Argentinian Malbec when I brought it into our store about six months ago.  It was an instant hit, not only with me, but with all the customers I pointed in its direction.  Developing a big following locally it has now been discovered nationally thanks to Wine Spectator and their annual Top 100 list.  So much so that I’m ordering extra to keep in stock as long as possible. WS Top 100 wines tend to disappear quickly when chosen and once the vintage is gone……

 

Wine Spectator notes: 

“Redolent of blueberry and dark currant, this fresh, pure style is matched with plenty of minerally components. The complex finish offers white pepper and bittersweet chocolate details. Drink now through 2019.”

Winemaker notes:

“A striking, slightly smoky wine with a deep burgundy hue, Premium Reserve Malbec’s fruity bouquet delights the senses and warms the palate with notes of blackberries, blueberries and lavender, lingers with a gentle tannin pull, and finishes with subtle flavors of toasted hazelnuts.”

This 100% Malbec originates from the rocky soils of the Luján de Cuyo region elevation of 3,200 feet in Argentina. Coming in at 14% alcohol this wine is aged for 8 months in oak barrels. The Piattelli family immigrated from Tuscany Italy in the 1940’s. Bringing with them their passion for wine.

My notes:piattelli-malbec-2013

Fruit forward richness on the nose; currant, blackberry and some red fruit too, strawberry. Also oak in the background and a spicy earthiness as it opened up. On the palate I mostly noticed red fruits and cola at the start with a quick change to a drier spicy woody, not oak per sé, but possibly tobacco and cocoa as it opened. Hard to pin down. A fact that may have more to do with pairing a sweeter tomato based pasta sauce with this vino.

Will I continue to recommend this under $20 wine to my fans of big, bold, new world wines? Yes! Will I continue to buy this wine for myself? Yes! Will I pair it with pasta sauce again? Heck no! Lesson learned.  ¡SALUD!

 

GUILTY! Yet Again – 19 Crimes

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This wine has legs, and I am not describing the usual wine reference. Yes, while it longingly coats your wine glass thanks to the alcohol level of about 14%, the longevity of 19 CRIMES on Whine and Cheers for Wine is admirable.  Hard to believe that I discovered this wine over two years ago as reported in GUILTY-19Crimes. In that time my original review has repeatedly made the daily Top visited list on Whine and Cheers. It is included below following this post.

Not having had it for a while and watching it continuously fly off our store shelves I decided it was time to revisit the most recent vintage of 19 CRIMES.  So excited was I that I forgot to notice the listed crime on the cork. Yes as many as you may know, each of the individual 19 crimes are listed on the cork. Turns out it was: #9 ASSAULT WITH INTENT TO ROB. Check out this short entertaining video and see how these “crimes” actually came to be:

The first thing I noticed on this new 2014 vintage was that it was lighter in body than I recalled. I would say on the light side of medium bodied. On the nose leather hit me first followed by red fruit [strawberry, raspberry] and an earthiness [think wet soil] as it opened. On the palate I detected a floral quality [violet] and red fruit [cherry] with cocoa and vanilla as it opened.

One thing didn’t change, three-quarters of the bottle disappeared before I knew what happened! 19 CRIMES continues to be an easy-drinker, a wine that can be paired well with many dishes. In fact maybe even more so now with its lighter body style. I will continue to recommend this wine to customers looking for a fruit forward blend, also those customers new to wine wanting to find their footing. Easy drinker? Check. Nicely balanced? Check. Good value? At under $13.00 you better believe it.  ¡SALUD!

photograph of imprisoned O'Reilly, 1866I recently had the pleasure of attending my first regional wine meeting for Whole Foods Market. We were introduced to hundreds of wines and given the opportunity to taste them all.  As you can imagine it was a bit difficult to differentiate the wines after the first 100 🙂  even though we were spitting and not swallowing. Luckily I took notes that I could actually read and this wine made the list.

Meet John Boyle O’Reilly [pictured at left] from the 19 CRIMES wine bottle label.  John along with others are featured via real mug shots on each bottle with the real crimes listed on each box/case of wine.

19 CRIMES WINE

The corks used in each bottle list the 19 CRIMES which could make things interesting for the cork collectors out there. I got #11 Counterfeiting The Copper Coin on my bottle. Crime #12 pictured here; BIGAMY.

From the 19 CRIMES website:

NINETEEN CRIMES turned criminals into colonists. Upon conviction British rogues guilty of those crimes were sentenced to Australia rather than death.  This punishment by “transportation” began in 1788 and many of the lawless died at sea.  The rough-hewn prisoners that reached Australia lived in servitude under the lash. Pioneers in a frontier penal colony, they forged a new country and new lives, brick by brick. This Shiraz Durif blend celebrates the rules they broke and the culture they built.

19 CRIMES wine

Soon after our regional meeting I brought in 10 cases to display in our Whole Foods Market North Miami wine department. Sales have been brisk and continue to increase as word spreads. The packaging is a big draw; frosted bottle, mug shots, historical facts. Also the sale price of $12.99 is a good price point for those willing to experiment on a new wine while maybe discovering  a new favorite.

Last night I decided to buy a bottle to make sure my somewhat blurred memory of this wine was correct.  Whew, luckily for me it was!  My notes:

Nose; rich red and dark fruit, plum, spice, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, tobacco, molasses.

Palate; vanilla, butterscotch/molasses, pepper, violet, licorice, red fruit finish.

Not included above is my better half’s descriptor of; cherry Popsicle stick. With my dumbfounded gaze he added; “you know, not the Popsicle itself but when you chew the stick afterwards”.  Adding; “if new tennis ball can can be used by others as a descriptor then I can use cherry Popsicle stick!”  There you have it, maybe a first, right here on Whine and Cheers for Wine. Come to think of it; red fruit, cherry, wood…he may be on to something!

This wine is an easy drinker and SMOOTH. Very well-balanced for a wine with 13-14% alcohol. It disappears before your very eyes. So yes, I will continue to recommend this nicely priced, well packaged southeastern Australian blend of Shiraz and Petite Sirah aka Durif.  Heck, I’ll continue to buy it myself!  ¡SALUD!

Wine Spectator Top 100 – #45 tikal Patriota 2012 Malbec Bonarda Blend

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TIKALtikal Patriota 2012 Malbec Bonarda

Once again I was excited to discover a recent 2014 WINE SPECTATOR Top 100 selection among our shelves at Whole Foods Market North Miami. This Ernesto Catena (the eldest son of Nicolás Catena of Catena Zapata) wine had been selling briskly ever since I brought it in a few months ago but now that the word is out I am constantly refilling our shelves. Here’s hoping it continues to be available and does not sell out quickly as vinos tend to do once praised with this kind of attention. Luckily for us earlier vintages have also been rated in the 90+ range and deservedly so.

Ernesto Catena Vineyards info: Tikal is owned by Ernesto Catena and is named after his son. Ernesto spent his childhood in the vineyards of Mendoza among wine-growers and local pundits. Since then, he has experienced a kaleidoscope of cultures, living in New York, Buenos Aires, Berkeley, Cambridge (MA), Milan and London. But his heart remains in his homeland of Argentina (where he now lives), with its natural beauty of mountains, streams and vineyards, its wines, and its people who hold a special passion for living.

Luis Reginato is the winemaker at Tikal behind the 2012 vintage. He has been with TIKAL and the Catena family since 2002 overseeing various wine lines.  In the 10 plus years he has developed a reputation of having a Midas-touch producing wines consistently rated in the 90+ range.  Usually coming in under $25.00, I like the fact that these wines are not exaggeratedly priced. The Tikal Patriota can currently be found for $18-$23.00.

I have long been a fan of the Malbec and Bonarda varietals and am excited to see such blends increasing in the marketplace. Some even including Syrah. This one in particular comes in at 60% Malbec and 40% Bonarda from Vista Flores and La Vendimia Mendoza. Aged 12 months in 70% French and 30% American oak.

My notes included red fruit [strawberry, raspberry] on the nose along with vanilla spiciness. On the palate the fruit flavors turned darker [plum, blackberry], chocolate, with the oak spiciness and earthiness at mid-palate and beyond. For me I think this wine needed to age a bit in the bottle or decant for longer. Although I started to imbibe as soon as the cork was popped, I did not note a varied difference at the 1 hour mark. Unfortunately I was not able to give the wine more time to develop which I feel it would have. Did I enjoy it? Wholeheartedly yes.  Will I continue to recommend this wine and praise its accolades? Yes again. But, the next time I serve this wine you can bet it will be decanted for over an hour or if patience allows I’ll be drinking it 1-2 years from now when I believe it will be at its true peak. ¡SALUD!

 

Winemaker’s Notes

Deep reddish purple with aromas of bright berry/cherry fruit. Like swallowing a whole bowl of mixed ripe berries at once. Big body yet very balanced, with luscious layers of raspberry, cherry, and cocoa flavors. Just a hint of baking spice at the end brings it all together. Pairs well with grilled meats such as beef and pork, smoked ham, and even pizza with meat toppings. Incredibly fun to drink!

WS Tasting Note

Tikal Patriota 2012 is a blend of 60% Bonarda and 40% Malbec hand harvested with no fining and no filtering and aged 70% in French oak (40% new) and 30% in 2nd use American oak. This Argentine red offers intense layered flavors of raspberry, cherry, cocoa, with a hint of spice, full body and excellent balance with a long finish. “A rich red, packed with concentrated flavors of blackberry, dark plum and mocha, featuring plenty of dark chocolate notes. Offers a ripe texture, with creamy accents and hints of savory herb on the long finish.” -Wine Spectator (91 Points)

Taking THE SHOW Pinot Noir on the road – from Chile to California

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THE SHOW 2012THE SHOW 2012 California Pinot Noir

Fun fact: I discovered this wine at a local Whole Foods Market a couple of years prior to being employed by them.  I still remember the moment because I was excited to find a Chilean version of a varietal I enjoyed. Now as a Wine Buyer for Whole Foods I get to turn customers on to this reasonably priced wine on a regular basis.

As per my earlier post [see below], this wine caught my attention because it was from Chile. Fast forward a few years: the production of The Show Pinot Noir has moved to California. I have to admit I was a bit concerned at first and maybe even shied away from it for a while fearing a disappointment.  Soon afterwards at one of our many in-store wine tasting events the opportunity arose and we put on THE SHOW.  Both the vendor, who had the same reservations, and I were pleasantly surprised to find this Pinot Noir still as bold and delicious as we remembered. More importantly customers kept coming back for more.

Now it’s time for the true test. A private wine tasting for one at home. Was THE SHOW from California really as good as its Chilean counterpart?  Cork popped and wine served I swirled, sniffed, sipped and took notes prior to rereading my original review. Here we go:

Light bodied as expected from most Pinot Noirs. Earthiness up front on the nose with fruit in the background [plum].  On the palate I detected dark fruit with wood, leather on the mid-palate and red fruit and spice at the finish.

I recall the Chilean version being richer and heavier bodied. Similarities? Bold and flavorful? Yes. But we have to keep in mind that not only are we comparing a wine made in two different countries but also two different vintages. That said I am sure the winemakers have their recipe down for keeping this wine as consistent as possible from year to year.

At under $20 and usually even under $15 THE SHOW Pinot Noir from California is perfect for those who enjoy this fruity varietal with some power. Light bodied? Yes. Light in flavor? Not even close. ¡SALUD!

 

 

2012 Winemaker notes:

The Show Pinot Noir has aromas of ripe plum, dark cherry and raspberry followed by flavors of earthy truffle, blackberry, cranberry, white pepper and spice. The wine has smooth tannins, a velvety texture and a long, lingering finish.

Grapes for The Show Pinot Noir are sourced from prime vineyards in California’s prestigious sonoma Coast and mendocino AVAs. sonoma Coast contains more than 500,000 acres primarily along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, and extends from san Pablo Bay to the border of mendocino County. Pinot Noir from these regions balance elegance and a sense of place with rich and complex fruit. These wine-growing areas bring dark fruit character and smooth tannins to The show Pinot noir. aged in French oak barrels, this 100% Pinot Noir is a rich and powerful, mouth-watering wine.

 

THE SHOW and tell… 2010 Pinot Noir from Leyda Valley Chile

After recently reading about how promising the Pinot Noir’s from Chile were this lover of South American wines and Pinot Noirs particularly from the Pacific Northwest had his new assignment.

As per previous blogs I’ve always had a problem finding reasonably priced full-bodied Pinot Noirs. Seems my first mistake was starting with $40.00+ wines from Oregon. They were fantastic! What I would call a WOW. For some reason the lower end Pinot Noirs from same regions although likeable lack that WOW factor and for those thinking I may be influenced by the price I should add that I did not know the prices at the time of tasting. I’ve tried the same varietal at $20 or less from France, California, Australia/New Zealand and again; likeable but no WOW’s. My search for an affordable under $20 [heck under $15 even better] full-bodied, flavorful Pinot Noir is  ongoing.

This brings us to THE SHOW Pinot Noir from Chile. After reading the before mentioned articles I happened to come across this wine at our local Whole Food Market. I think it may have picked me but in actuality it was the only Chilean Pinot Noir they stocked. Fate steps in, even better it was on sale for about $10.99. The retail price seems to be closer to $16.00.

At decanting I must admit I was impressed.  My exact first thought was “red berry-licious” which doesn’t actually come to mind very often. As I poured the color varied from red to deep garnet. My next thought was ” I am loving the nose on this!”  I detected; fig, guava, plum, strawberry and cherry with an earthiness that turned to leather as it opened. I decanted for an hour but could have easily started drinking right then and there.  I also noted that this wine tastes just like it smells which doesn’t actually happen all that often to me.

This is a wine I will be coming back to, it made a good impression on me. It may not be a WOW such as my beloved LACHINI, COEHLO Paciencia etc. but it definitely added a bit of a WOW factor to our Wednesday night supper at home with friends.  I wonder how it tastes on Thursdays? 🙂  SALUD!

Winemaker Notes:

The cool winds (from the Humboldt Current) keep the fruit yields naturally to a minimum, giving us wines that have a lot of depth and rich concentration.  That depth is balanced by the refreshing acidity, silky tannins, and good minerality.  The aromatics are of pie spice, wild cherries, red fruit

Revisiting Trivento’s Amado Sur Red Blend

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Recently I had the urge and opportunity to revisit an Argentinian blend that originally caught my eye two years ago. This wine regularly makes the Wine Spectator Smart Buy list and has rated between 88 – 91 points for each vintage over the last 7 years. Pretty good for a wine that averages $15.00 a bottle.  Even more so when one comes across coupons and sales! My 2012 came in at $11.99 and I’ll be the first to admit I’d probably pay twice that much.

Prior to reviewing my 2010 post I was happy to find many similarities as I popped the cork and experienced this Malbec, Bonarda, Syrah blend.  My 2012 notes:

On the nose; dark fruit [blackberry], leather, wood [oak] in the background. Fruit moving forward as it opened. Earthiness gathering strength at about the 30 minute mark.

On the palate; black pepper, cocoa and dark fruits that intensified as the wine opened. Soft velvety tannins noted at the 30-40 minute mark.

Below you’ll find my 2010 review of the Amado Sur where I asked the question: Can a wine make you feel warm and cozy?  I am glad to report that two years later the velvety 2012 vintage felt like home. Searching for a great value? This may be the one.  ¡SALUD!

Warm and Cozy with Trivento’s

 2010 Amado Sur from Argentina

The luck of the red blends was with us again recently when I finally sat down to experience this delicious wine.  As I’ve asked before; can a wine make you feel warm and cozy? My answer is YES and for me the Amado Sur falls into this category.

I was drawn to this wine in our store because of its varietal blend; 80% Malbec, 10% Bonarda and 10% Syrah. Being a fan of all three led me to believe that I was going to enjoy their coming together and boy did I ever. I seem to not be the only one because it is flying off our shelves. I can take credit for a few bottles myself plus the happy returning customers that I have recommended Amado Sur to, but not the one to two cases we are going through weekly. So much so that we just ordered 10 cases for an end-cap display.  With the added benefit of a sale price and coupons we may just be ordering even more soon.

Trivento information from Banfi Importers: When in the mid-1990s Concha y Toro, Chile’s leading wine producer, announced its successful purchase a collection of vineyards (now accounting for 3,185 acres) in the Mendoza region of neighboring Argentina, there was little doubt on either side of the Andes that change was in the air. Wind is the agent of change, so it was only fitting that the new venture was named “ Trivento” (Three Winds), a whimsical reference to three winds that sweep through Mendoza and are such a distinguishing feature of the region’s climate and environment.

Upon decanting the first thing I noticed was its rich aroma which included; dark fruit, caramel and an undertone of wood.  As it breathed I also noted; black pepper, blackberry, black olive and oak on the nose.  Once poured its bright garnet color, more so along the edges of the glass, brought attention to the lovely slow-moving legs. Both of these I believe a cause of the wines alcohol level.  Additionally noted on the palate were; chocolate, a sweetening of the wine as it opened and what I listed as violet but in actuality may have been anise or licorice.

Winemaker notes: A deep red wine with dark blue tones and aromas of dark fruit combining with notes of black pepper, anise, cinnamon and chocolate. Lush flavors of plums and berries give way to velvety tannins and a persistent and pleasant finish.

We paired the Amado Sur with an aged cheddar cheese to start followed by pepperoni pizza. It worked very well with both, making the cheddar explode with flavor and the pizza even more spicy. I am looking forward to enjoying this wine again and again and even more so sharing it with family, friends and customers. ¡SALUD!

Price range: $12-17.00

Wine Spectator Review:

A floral red, with juicy blackberry, raspberry and plum notes supported by medium tannins, as the grippy finish unfolds with hints of mulled spice and licorice. Smart Buy. 90 Points.

Nathan Wesley – Wine Spectator – October, 2012

Chateau Le Cacheflo 2010 – Tobin James

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Tobin James 2010 Chateau Le Cacheflo

 

A recent wine discovery, this red blend out of Paso Robles has been a big hit with all of whom I have shared it with. At the store it is a hand sell due to it not being well-known. At home it’s an easy pour,  I am surrounded by wine lovers.  Our mantra should be POUR. Which is actually not a bad idea for t-shirts….

Sunday Supper a few weeks back found the Chateau Le Cacheflo winning the popularity contest among four or five other wines brought by the afore-mentioned vino lovers. Other good red blends were in attendance but the Cacheflo was the best balanced with intricate flavor layers worth pondering.

I was originally introduced to the wines of Tobin James by the Sommelier at Morton’s Steak House – North Miami Beach via their Cabernet Sauvignon.  It left a mark.  Months later when I realized Tobin James was approved for sale at Whole Foods Market I could not have been happier.Tobin James 2009 Cabernet

The blend is reported to be; Syrah, Barbera and Sangiovese. What is referred to by the winemaker as Mediterranean varietals.  Prior to researching I listed Syrah/Shiraz, Sangiovese and possibly Malbec on the nose. Now I see that the Barbera is what most likely gives this wine its body and richness.

I believe I have now had the Cacheflo at least three times in as many weeks. Glad to report; it was worthy every time. The name itself is a play on CASH FLOW. Originally started as a way of making wine under his own label from available left-over grapes and a way to get the cash to flow.  Their Zinfandel started this way too. With excess grapes a grower needed to move.  Tobin James worked his magic into an award-winning wine and launched Tobin James Cellars.

My notes:

Resilient legs [14.8% ALC]. On the nose; fruit forward [casis, blackberry], jammy, spices [nutmeg, vanilla], tobacco box, cedar and even tar [in a good way].

On the palate; a WOW at first sip, red and dark fruit [black cherry] well-balanced, robust, mouth-watering medium acidity.  A cherry finish with fruit softening and delicate wood appearing.

To learn more about Tobin James check out PasoWine.com where you can find out about his humble wine beginnings, becoming the founding wine maker at Peachy Canyon and recently being awarded the 2010 PASO ROBLES WINE INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE YEAR.

At a retail price of $15.99 or less this easy drinker is a great example of what an everyday to some, weekend wine to others, should be.  This is a welcome addition to Whole Foods Market North Miami and my home cellar. Yes, still the guest room after all these years.

¡SALUD!

 

Notes from the Winemaker: 

Paso Robles is one of the most unique growing areas in the world. So many varietals excel here that the focus has been on the production of great red wines.

In keeping with this great tradition, the wine community has discovered that the Mediterranean varietals flourish and develop distinct and unequivocal character in Paso Robles. This wonderful blend of Mediterranean varietals includes; Syrah, Sangiovese and Barbera.

Year after year Tobin James has produced this Highly acclaimed “Cache-flo” for you to enjoy with just about anything!