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Herb's Wine Choices

“December 2013”

Happy Holidays, part 2!  There’s just a short break before Christmas, so make it easy on yourself this year and give everyone a Herb’s Half Case Wine Club.  Trust me, the recipients will thank you!  Enjoy!

From all of us at Decatur Package Store, we thank you for your continued support and wish you the best this holiday season.

Cheers, Herb

Pappy Van Winkle Dinner/Tasting on January 12 & 13  
I’m partnering with the folks at The Pinewood for a charity dinner/tasting of all the Van Winkle products.  All profits will be donated to Poverty is Real.  You have one of two dates to choose and tickets are available at:

2009 Castle Rock Chardonnay Russian River Valley (Sonoma Cnty, California)
Tasting Notes:  Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grow exceptionally well in the Russian River Valley, due to hot days and cool nights.  It’s always nice to find one that fits in the Wine Club. This example has a pleasant touch of oak with pineapple and butterscotch aromas.  On the palate, I found a creamy, buttery texture followed by apple and lemon fruit on the mid-palate.  There’s a nice dose of acidity that balances it.  The finish shows light oak notes, lemon curd, and a bit of toast.

Food Pairing:  I like to serve heavier Chardonnays in the colder months because they pair better with the heavier foods of the season.  Try this one with roast pork or ham.  

NV Tenuta Capoest Prosecco Treviso (Italy)

Tasting Notes:  I’m a big fan of the Capoest Prosecco.  It’s the perfect example because it has great balance, neither too dry, nor too ripe.  Meyer lemon aromas rise from the flute and lead to fresh, clean flavors on the palate of ripe apple with the perfect amount of dryness.  Prosecco, in general, is not overly complex, but this one has quite an enjoyable flavor and good structure.  It’s the perfect choice to celebrate the holidays or the New Year.

Food Pairing:  You can certainly pop this one on the 31st, but it will also work exceptionally well as a starter wine for any parties.  Sparklers always add a festive atmosphere to any gathering.

2011 Latúe Tempranillo Organic (La Mancha, Spain)
Tasting Notes:  Bodegas Latúe in the west central area of La Mancha is the world’s largest producer of organically farmed grapes.  This is their organically grown Tempranillo.  It has a pretty cherry color with aromas of fresh berry fruits.  On the palate, I tasted slightly darker berry fruit with a hint of earth.  This wine is pleasing on the palate with a smooth mouthfeel and plenty of rich flavor.  The finish is solid with dark berry, almost brambly fruit and nice length.

Food Pairing:  This is an unusual wine because it’s fruit forward, but has big tannins on the finish.  Pair with medium-bodied meats.  You will need a cut with some marbling to cut the tannins.
2008 Villa Silvia Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (Italy)
Tasting Notes:  The Montepulciano grape is quite versatile, in that its medium-body allows it to pair with a variety of foods.  This example has an expressive aroma of brambly fruit and underbrush.  On the palate, it’s smooth up-front, with dark cherry and dark berry fruit.  It has a bit of bottle age so I also found some roasted fruit and underbrush notes.  The mid-palate leans towards light raspberry and violet flavors.  The finish is dry with big, but integrated, tannins and gobs of black raspberry fruit.

Food Pairing:  Pair this red with hard cheeses or red sauces because it has a medium body and isn’t overly acidic.

2010 Clayhouse Vineyards Malbec (Paso Robles, California)
Tasting Notes:  With the skyrocketing sales of Argentine Malbec, it was only a matter of time before you started seeing California wannabes.  I've tasted a bunch and this one is quite good.  It starts with aromas of dark blueberries with a hint of underbrush.  This Malbec is juicy and flavorful on the palate with pleasantly ripe boysenberry and blueberry fruit, a hint of earth, and balancing acidity.  This wine has good complexity and the finish has nice tannins and plenty of dark berry fruit.  It’s a solid offering and an excellent alternative to Argentine Malbec.

Food Pairing:
  I would serve this wine with heavy appetizers or just about anything from the grill.  Given that this version is more Argentine than French in style, meat would be the better pairing.

2010 Château Grand-Jour Cotes de Bourg (France)

Tasting Notes:  I'm finding more value in the smaller, sub-appellations of Bordeaux, like this Cotes de Bourg, which is a stunner.  It starts with a complex aroma of roasted cherry, mineral, and spice.  It's pleasantly ripe on the palate (for Bordeaux!) with dark berry fruit, hints of tobacco, a little toast, and some earth.  All tied together with balanced grip and acidity.  The finish has big, ripe tannins, earthy berry fruit, and good length.  This is an outstanding value!

Food Pairing:  This Bordeaux has the heavy body of a Cabernet, but with higher acidity and bigger tannins than its California brethren.  Therefore, I would pair it with heavier bodied foods, like beef, pork or game, which are juicier.  

October 2013
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2012 Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc

This is the second label of Mason Cellars from Napa and represents a wonderful value. It has aromas of sweet lime that lead to lovely ripeness on the palate with passion fruit, guava, and quince. This SB even has a hint of mineral. The finish is quite lengthy with citrus and grapefruit notes. This white really packs a lot of flavor into a very friendly price tag.

2012 3 Pears Pinot Grigio

This is a solid Pinot Grigio because it deftly balances ripe California fruit with enough acidity. Aromas of ripe melon rise from the glass and are followed by ripe lime and melon then white peach on the palate. This white maintains nice dryness throughout and has fresh and lively flavors. The finish shows stone fruit flavors and good length. Nice value.

2012 A to Z Pinot Gris

This is my favorite wine from A to Z and, I believe, their best value. Aromas of crisp lime and apple flow from the glass and are followed by pleasantly bright, but not bracing, fruit on the palate - melon, tangerine, and light citrus flavors. The finish shows crisp lime flavors and nice length. Well made, refreshing white.

2012 A to Z Chardonnay

This is solid unoaked Chard and the best selling Chardonnay from Oregon. It's 100% Dijon clones with crisp, dry aromas. On the palate, you'll find no malolactic fermentation, so the acidity is maintained, and tons of fruit - tropical fruits with peach notes. The finish is dry with a continuation of stone fruit flavors. Crisp, clean, and refreshing unoaked Chardonnay.


Red Bordeaux Wines

I recently added many Red Bordeaux wines. Bordeaux is a great choice for cooler weather and heartier foods and it's a great alternative to Calif. Cabernet. They're structured, full-bodied wines and, thanks to warmer weather, riper than past vintages.

2010 Vinterra Howell Mountain Cabernet

Howell Mountain Cabernet at this price? Yes, please!!! This beauty is a steal. It starts with rich berry fruit aromas that are almost liqueur-like with a hint of violets. It's pleasantly bright on the palate with excellent fruit - dark berry and blackberry - and solid structure with just enough acidity. The finish is lengthy with balanced tannins and dark berry and boysenberry fruit. Stellar Value!

2009 Chateau Bellevue Lalande de Pomerol

It's that time of year to switch back to reds and this is a great one. Dusty and slightly earthy aromas are balanced with dark berry fruits. It's slightly Old World on the palate, but has fairly lush, for Bordeaux, roasted, dark berry fruit with a hint of tobacco. The finish is flavorful with roasted cherry, more tobacco, and integrated tannins. Well done!

Wine Enthusiast - 91 Points!

2009 Querciabella Mongrana

"This is a terrific super Tuscan blend (of 50% Sangiovese with equal parts Merlot and Cab) that drinks beautifully. Bright red fruit and cherry give the wine a lively, cheerful personality and the wine’s structure is perfectly balanced and smooth. It’s a one-size-fits-all wine for our favorite Italian foods." Editor's Choice I've personally tried this one and I agree. It's a fantastic Sangiovese blend. Herb

2010 Sebastiani Cabernet

I haven't tried this wine in ages, but I'm glad I did. It starts with an intoxicating chocolate, cherry aroma that leads to ripe, juicy cherry fruit on the palate with a nice hint of vanilla from the oak. This Cabernet has good concentration and maintains a dry backbone for balance. The finish is dry with medium tannins, dark berry fruit, and a hint of caramel.

2010 Mettler Old Vine Zinfandel

Had this at a trade show and was quite impressed. This is a BIG Zinfandel, but has plenty of structure to balance the explosive fruit. It's a mélange of aromas with blue fruits, vanilla, and spice that lead to blackberry, blueberry, and spice on the palate. This Zinfandel has a great oak component that delivers a burst of vanilla that somehow ties it all together and rounds out the wine. The finish doesn't disappoint with plenty of dark berry fruit and nice length.

2011 Tedeschi Lucchine

This Valpolicella is a blend of 5 grapes and has an excellent fruit component. It's bright on the palate with fresh cherry fruit that has just the slightest hint of a roasted note. There's a slight earthiness on the mid-palate, but the fruit is the real star here. The finish is medium-dry with balanced tannins, dried cherry fruit, and nice length.

2010 Chateau Rocher Calon

If you haven't tried Bordeaux in awhile, this is a good place to start. It has more complexity than the $10 offerings, yet still has ripe fruit. This example has a pleasantly ripe cherry aroma that is followed by good acidity, medium-ripe berry/cherry fruit on the palate. It's a cleaner style of Bordeaux with more structure (read: good fruit to acid ratio). The finish has nice length and more berry fruit. Great example of the region.

2012 19 Crimes Red

This is an Aussie blend of Shiraz and Petite Sirah. It has a pleasant aroma of berry fruit and has a freshness on the palate that is quite nice. This is a fruit forward offering with gobs of fresh berry fruit, but also has plenty of acidity to tame that juicy fruit. The finish has ripe, red fruits and good length. Well made, everyday quaffer.

2004 Campo Viejo Gran Reserva Rioja

This is what I LOVE about Rioja. You can buy a 2011 Napa Cab or 2010 Bordeaux or a NINE YEAR OLD Rioja for roughly $20. One dimensional flavor versus lots of complexity? hmmm, tough choice. This wine is stellar - aromas of dusty, black fruits with huge flavors on the palate of blackberries, spice, and a hint of underbrush. This Rioja has concentration AND structure. Add a big brambly berry finish with great length and it's a no brainer.


2011 Urban Carignan

This was a unique find from Chile - and a tremendous value as well! Aromas of dark berry fruits with a hint of spice are followed by pleasantly dark berry flavors and a hint of eucalyptus and graphite. The fruit is the focus here with the more rustic flavors delegated to background notes. The finish has balanced tannins, nice length, and solid black fruit. Great example of the varietal!

2011 Ste. Damien Gigondas La Louisane

Gigondas is a great alternative to Chateauneuf du Pape and this one might be even better. It's Grenache dominant (80%) from vines planted in 1942 and has a liqueur-like aromas of "blue" fruits with a hint of dried herb. It's perfectly ripe on the palate with pure raspberry fruit flavors that are tempered by underbrush notes. This red has a ton of fruit, but has excellent acid balance. The finish has concentrated black raspberry, medium tannins, and nice length. Superb wine!

2009 Prazo de Roriz Douro

This is a blend of the 5 main red grapes of Portugal. It has a lovely aroma of roasted black fruits with a pleasant smoothness on the palate. I found flavors of dark, black fruits, vanilla, and a hint of mineral. The finish has violets, "blue" fruits, medium tannins, and nice length. This blend has New World fruit and Old World structure, which creates the best of both worlds.