Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bridlewood 2008 Reserve Viognier

I tasted this wine with Norman, and then later with a group. Both times, I guessed it might be a Riesling. So apparently I think it has Rieslingesque qualities. However, one of the group - correctly identifying it as predominantly Viognier - volunteered “if this is Riesling, I’ll shoot myself.” So maybe it’s not so like Riesling. I don’t taste much white. Others in the group thought it might be Chardonnay. Style-wise, I found it sweeter, fruitier, and smoother than other Viogniers I’ve tasted.

The nose is delightful and aromatic: honeydew melon, floral notes, citrus and something a bit spicy, like cloves. On the palate it is slightly sweet and crisply acidic with smooth viscosity. The texture is a bit buttery. We enjoyed it on its own, but I can imagine that it would stand up nicely paired with cheese or maybe seafood. Overall, very nice.

Price: $24.99
Score: 89
Value: 3.5/5
Region: Central Coast California
Grapes: Viognier 90%, Chardonnay 4%, Marsanne 4%, Rousanne 2%
UPC: 085000014615

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sterpato 2007

I tasted this wine with a group, and then, coincidentally, with Norman about a week later. Everyone describes it as a Super Tuscan. What is a Super Tuscan, anyway? I know that historically, wines that didn’t adhere to the blending laws for the region question had to be sold as “table wine.” When in the 1970s some Tuscan producers experimented very successfully with international grape varieties, those wines became known as Super Tuscans. The addition of the looser IGT category to the older DOC/G system embraces some of those wines. But if I find myself with a Tuscan wine designated IGT or “vino da tavola,” how do I determine whether it is a Super Tuscan or plain old undistinguished table wine? Does the term describe a particular style and assemblage of grape varieties, or does the wine have to be in some sense “super”?

The first time I tasted this wine, I guessed it was a Bordeaux blend (i.e. mostly Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot). The second time I tasted it, it struck me as unmistakably Italian, and predominantly Sangiovese. Averaging those experiences, I'd wankishly opine that it's a nice hybrid of the international and traditional, and a true expression of its constituent grape varieties. The nose is lovely: dark red berries, stewed fruit, cedar, dried flowers, moss, dusty leather, and spices. All of those follow through on the palate, along with firm tannins and good length and acidity. I found it a bit hollow toward the middle to end palate, with a bit of an edge; but then I tend to find that with Sangiovese. Overall, it’s great value and I would buy more at the price.

Price: $22.79
Score: 89
Value: 4/5
Region: Toscana, Italia
Grapes: Sangiovese 80%, Merlot 10%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10%
UPC: 8029966000512

Friday, December 10, 2010

Collazzi Liberta 2008

Aaron recommended this as a sort of baby sibling to the Collazzi Toscana, which I really like. It’s a winner. The Liberta is very different from the Toscana, but enjoyable just the same. Its nose is relatively reserved, mostly plum, cedar, and something a bit dusty. The same basic flavours follow on the palate, which is full with nice structure, firm tannins, and good length. It seems to stop short a bit mid-palate with a bit of an edge and a gap that I find characteristic of Sangiovese, but that’s fine. Norman says it’s “quite quaffable” and I’d agree. A solid choice at the price. I found it perhaps even better after a night in the half-bottle.

Price: $24.79
Score: 88
Value: 4/5
Alcohol: 13%
Region: Tuscany
Grapes: Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese
UPC: 8033844400011