As the holiday season comes to a close, I want to share some wines I have enjoyed over the last several months that merit mentioning. These wines represent California, Argentina, Chile, Spain and France.
The first two wines come from Spain’s Rueda region, which is none for the Verdejo grape. Verdejo is the most popular white varietal in Spain. During the summer I sample two excellent Verdejo and have now discovered two more that are also exceptionally good. The first is the 2011 Protos. This wine is barrel fermented. The grapes come from very old vineyards and are aged for 6 months. The wine has a viscous quality, which makes the Verdejo very full bodied and complex. The nose is crisp with citrus and floral aromas of orange blossoms and Jasmine. One tastes the citrus flavors along with honeydew melon. There is sweetness on the finish that reminds one of honey and lychee.
The second wine from Rueda is the 2012 Viña Mayor. This is a crisp refreshing wine with citrus aromas. The wine has a nice minerality and hints of lemongrass.
Gamling & McDuck’s 2012 Suisum Valley Chenin Blanc, Mangel’s Ranch is a fun wine. Visiting the wineries website gives one a unique and eccentric take on the wines Gamling and McDuck produce. Let’s just say the winery owners’ love what they are doing and are having fun in all aspects of the process including their marketing of the wine. If you were to go by their description of this wine “like kitten kisses and a honeycrisp lollipop while riding a homecoming float” you might be lost in a dream but the wine itself has a nice balance with the perfect amount of acidity and minerality. One finds flavors of citrus, pineapple and some spice.
I am not a lover of the very grassy and grapefruity flavored Sauvignon Blancs so it is rare that I find one that really grabs me. The 2013 Charles B Mitchell Sauvignon Blanc pleasantly surprised me. This winery is located in the Fair Play area of El Dorado County. Here the wines are influenced by their elevation in the Sierra Foothills. This Sauvignon Blanc was more viscous than your typical Sauvignon Blancs. This had flavors of citrus and pears. The thickness and quality almost reminded me of a Viognier.
Moving from Spain to Chile where the Carmenere grape is very popular. This varietal was initially planted in Medoc and was used typically in blending. It is a member of the Cabernet grape familybut was used like Petite Verdot. In Chile it is becoming known for its own merit. The 2011 Rios de Chile Carmenere with earthy tobacco aromas gives way to flavors of mushrooms, licorice, leather and dark fruits such as prunes. This wine best pairs with a heavier meat dish.
The 2012 Seigneur De Fontimple Vacqueyras Cru De Cotes Du Rhone is a French blend of Grenache and Syrah. Compared to similar blends from California, this one is more refined and softer. Perhaps it is a little earthier but the red fruit flavors with hints of allspice, cinnamon, cloves and tobacco make this a superb wine.
After sampling the Rutini Trumpeter Cabernet Sauvignon (click here for my review), I was intrigued to sample more from this Argentine Winery. The 2012 Malbec Syrah was a light to medium bodied wine that was very smooth from start to finish. Although the blend is 50% Malbec and 50% Syrah, the Syrah was most predominant on the palate. The Malbec gives the wine its earthy qualities. The flavors were those of currants, prunes, mocha and leather.
The last two wines also come from El Dorado County in the Sierra Foothills. Both are from Skinner Vineyards, a winery that began with the discovery of a family legacy that began in the mid 1800s. The first was a 2012 Grenache. This wine is an intense medium bodied wine with flavors of blueberry and boysenberry. The wine has an elegant smooth balance that will not overpower the cuisine it is paired with. The second was a 2011 Mourvédre with its floral aromas of violets and blueberry flavors. This also is an elegantly smooth and balanced wine. I am so impressed with the wines and story of Skinner that you can expect an article about the winery and more about what they produce in the first quarter of 2015.
All above-mentioned wines are excellent and can be savored at any time of the year.
If you would like to follow more of Cori Solomon’s articles, she would love you to subscribe to her column by clicking Subscribe to Author link below.