Behind the Cork™ Wine of the Week
I frequently get asked "What's a good bottle of wine to buy?" And my response is always the same "What kind of wine do you like?"
Most people are just looking for a nice bottle of wine to have with dinner or for a party. Something that's easily obtainable and affordable. These are wines I've tried and liked. Wines that you can pick up and enjoy.
While I always say that you should drink whatever you like, hopefully these Behind the Cork™ Wine of the Week recommendations will give you the opportunity to try something new without fear of the unknown. Cheers!
2014 Il Tarocco Chianti Classico ($10)
As you can immediately tell from the black rooster on the neck of the bottle, this is a Chianti Classico. The black rooster let's you know this is a nicer Chianti. While Chianti is required to be made from at least 70% Sangiovese, and Chianti Classico must be at least 80% Sangiovese, the Il Tarocco is 90% Sangiovese along with 10% Canaiolo Nero. This is a great, affordable and attainable Chianti Classico. Enjoy with beef, pork and lamb dishes. Cheers!
J Vineyards 2014 Pinot Gris ($14)
This Pinot Gris (pee-no gree) from J Vineyards has light and delicate fruit flavors of lime, pear and pineapple. Pinot Gris, also known as Pinot Grigio in Italy, has medium acidity. In the USA, Pinot Gris is typically described as fruity and dry as compared to the Italian version that has more mineral flavors. Chill this wine and enjoy it with soft, light cheeses, fish and chicken.
Lyeth 2013 Meritage ($10)
This Meritage from Lyeth is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The name "Meritage" was created in 1988 when U.S. wine makers decided to form an alliance and a name for their blended wines. By blending the words 'Merit' for having worth, and 'Heritage' for the Bordeaux style of wine making, they created a new word, Meritage. But instead of making this blend sound like a French wine, they insisted that Meritage be pronounced like the word heritage. This Meritage from Lyeth is a nice example of a traditional Bordeaux blend.
2014 Old Zin Vines Zinfandel ($12)
This Zinfandel from Lodi comes from 50 to 100 year old vines. And it's a big jammy Zinfandel. Loaded with flavors of blackberries, raspberries, chocolate and mocha, it's smooth with very soft tannin. This is a great value that goes well with anything from a great burger, to BBQ ribs or a steak.
Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay ($12)
This Chardonnay out of Livermore Valley California (East of San Francisco) is a well balanced Chardonnay, meaning that everything works together beautifully. Because it is fermented in 50% neutral American oak barrels and 50% in stainless steel tanks it retains its great fruit flavors with just a hint of vanilla. While having a creamy mouth feel its the fresh fruit character that really comes through. Enjoy this one with a light white fish, pork, chicken or a selection of mild white cheeses.
2014 Charles & Charles Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah($12)
This red blend from Washington State's Columbia Valley is another collaboration from Charles Smith along with Charles Bieler. Although having the requisite 75% of Cabernet Sauvignon to be labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon, this pair has chosen to identify both the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (the other 25%) on the label. They describe it as "...bringing together the structure and dense black currant flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon and the sumptuous dark fruit and spice of whole cluster Syrah." This is a big and bold red that is very nicely done and a great value. Enjoy with some sharp cheeses, BBQ or steak.
2015 Justin Sauvignon Blanc ($12)
This Sauvignon Blanc from Justin in Paso Robles CA is very nice one. Loaded with bright, crisp fruit flavors of lemon, green apple, white peach and guava. At 14.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) it is quite dry (not sweet). This one is great with cheeses, seafood or appetizers.
Kenwood Russian River Pinot Noir ($13)
The Russian River Valley is home of some of the greatest Pinot Noir to be found. This one from Kenwood is a very nice example and a great value. With red fruit flavors of raspberry and cherry along with hints of vanilla from being aged in French oak barrels, this Pinot Noir is delicate and smooth. Give this one a slight chill and enjoy with most foods, especially grilled salmon.
Nielson by Byron Santa Barbara County Chardonnay ($13)
This Chardonnay out of Santa Barbara County was an unexpected delight. While being a great value, it is lightly oaked so as to not be over-powering and lets though the wonderfully bright fruit flavors including fig, honey and brown spice. But what makes this Chardonnay unusual is it's minerality. You may also find this one with "Byron" as the main name on the label. Which ever way, this is a Chardonnay well worth trying.
Amancay Winery 2014 Uco Valley Reserva Malbec ($7)
The Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina, is well known and respected for its Malbec. And this one is a nice entry-level example. This medium bodied Malbec is full of flavors of blackberry and blueberry. It's soft and smooth with a nice finish. This is another great value wine that can be enjoyed by itself or with anything from a craft burger to your favorite steak.
Peachy Canyon 2012 Cirque du Vin Red Blend ($12)
This red blend from Peachy Canyon in Paso Robles is a real nice combination of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Merlot, Malbec and Tannat. The 60% Syrah gives it a bold flavor while the Zinfandel and others smooths it out for a very drinkable wine with a nice finish. Another nice wine from Peachy Canyon and a great value.
2014 Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling ($7)
This Riesling out of Columbia Valley is refreshing with flavors of peach and lime. This is considered somewhere between a medium-dry and medium-sweet wine and the 12% alcohol level confirms that there is some residual sugar in this one. This makes a great pairing with spicy foods, while working well with any poultry dish and can be simply be enjoyed with some flavorful white cheeses.
2014 Robledo Family Winery - The Seven Brothers Sauvignon Blanc ($7)
This Sauvignon Blanc from Lake County is really nice. Thinking that this was so much better than a $7 bottle of wine, I headed out to the Robledo Family Winery website (www.robledofamilywinery.com) to investigate. Much to my surprise they are offering this bottle of 2014 Sauvignon Blanc for $22 ($15.40 for Club Members). It's a steal at $7. It's aged in Stainless Steel tanks for eight months which delivers bright aromas of honeysuckle and mango with citrus and lemongrass flavors.
If you too are so lucky to find this wine, get more than a bottle. You'll enjoy it!