Welcome Back! Summer is over and it’s back to business. This is the last month of an even number of whites and reds. The white selections are guaranteed to provide some needed relief from the heat and, as an extra bonus, your kid’s homework assignments. Enjoy!
P.S. – My non-Wine Club selection for the month is the 2016 Early Mountain Petite Manseng. That’s right Decatur, you heard it here first (and can try it first, too!) – PETITE MANSENG! It’s a Virginia thing. This grape grows exceptionally well in Virginia. The Early Mtn. has a rich mouthfeel with exotic tropical fruits, small spice notes and a pleasantly round texture. Sounds like a “Must Try” to me!
2016 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc+Viognier (California)
Tasting Notes: This white has been a warm weather staple at DPS for years. It offers a great compromise – lots of fruit and also lots of balancing acidity. The Pine Ridge has an expressive aroma of lime and passionfruit. It’s pleasantly ripe on the palate with crisp litchi, stone fruits and a hint of honeysuckle. It has nice brightness throughout, which helps tame the expressive fruit. The finish is very nice with peach and mandarin orange fruit and good brightness.
Food Pairing: This can be a great starter wine or served by itself. Otherwise, I would pair it with lighter summer fare or salads.
2017 Tierra del Sol Estate Sauvignon Blanc (Chile)
Tasting Notes: This Sauvignon Blanc from Chile is a nice cross between France and the US. It has a minor mineral component like Loire Valley SB’s from France and ripe passionfruit flavors like California SB’s. I recommend letting it aerate a bit to soften the acidity and help coax out its flavor and increase complexity. This white is a good combination of citrus and passionfruit flavors, light mineral/slate notes and good acidity. The finish has a good blend of citrus and tropical fruits and nice length.
Food Pairing: Sauvignon Blancs typically have enough flavor and expression to serve by themselves and this one fits that category. Otherwise, I’d pair with lighter chicken or seafood dishes.
2017 Bodega Piedra Negra Pinot Gris Uco Valley (Mendoza, Argentina)
Tasting Notes: This wine is unique in that you don’t find much Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio from Argentina. In fact, this became the first planting of PG in Argentina by accident. It was supposed to be Chardonnay, but the nursery sent the wrong varietal! This example, made from organically grown grapes, has soft lime and nice floral notes in the aroma. It’s clean on the palate with medium-ripe melon and lime fruit and good acidity. This has both California traits, with good ripeness, and Alsatian traits, with good structure. The finish is bright and flavorful with ripe citrus/lime fruit and nice length.
Food Pairing: This white, given its flavor and structure, is versatile with a number of different foods. It can pair with any chicken dish, but I’d also add and light to medium-bodied pork dishes, as well.
2015 Umani Ronchi Podere Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (Italy)
Tasting Notes: This red is from vineyards that are closer to the Adriatic Sea in east-central Italy. It sees no oak and is made from 100% Montepulciano. This is a great warm weather red because it has vibrant fruit and good acidity. The aroma shows fresh berry fruits with a hint of toast. It’s clean and fresh on the palate with lovely, pure berry fruit and just enough acidity for balance. It has some weight/viscosity on the palate, but still maintains good structure. The finish is medium-bright with fresh cherry/berry fruit, medium tannins and nice length.
Food Pairing: Unoaked reds with good fruit and acidity, like this, can taste better with refrigeration, say 15 minutes or so. I’d pair this one with most everyday meals or picnic foods.
2014 Sur Canyon Red (Monterey, Calif)
Tasting Notes: This Cabernet-heavy red from Monterey is a winner. It starts with a solid berry aroma that’s slightly dark. It’s medium-bodied with slightly bright, dark red fruits and a hint of spice. The Sur Canyon has great structure for its price and the finish has lower tannins, ripe berry fruits and good length. This is a great value as well as a great everyday drinking red!
Food Pairing: This red is slightly heavier than the Montepulciano above, so pair it with more robust everyday foods like hamburgers, pork chops, spaghetti with meatballs, etc.
2013 Campo Viejo Reserva Rioja (Rioja, Spain)
Tasting Notes: I haven’t tasted this wine in ages and that’s a shame because it’s an incredible value. Per law, Reserva Rioja wines need to be aged at least 3 years (minimum of 1 year in oak and up to 2 years in bottle).
Campo Viejo exceeds the rule with 18 months in oak and 18 months in bottle. The fact that it sees 3 years of aging and sells for less than $15 is amazing. The 2013 has a complex aroma with blackberry, vanilla and wood spice flavors. It is VERY balanced on the palate with an exceptional fruit to acid ratio. I found bright black fruits, more vanilla, barrel spice and a near perfect level of acidity. The finish has big brambly fruit notes, medium tannins and nice length. This red has it all – flavor, complexity and balance.
Food Pairing: I’m a big fan of serving Rioja reds with meats and game. Big flavor and big, ripe tannins make for pairing with big, juicy cuts of beef or lamb.