Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava NV ($15)   Vilarnau is a small artisanal handcrafted Cava house located just outside Barcelona Spain.  This  Cava  is made the traditional way with 50% Macabeo, 35% Parellada and 15% Xarello. It is a dry Cava with soft fruity flavors. It is classified as a "Reserva" because it was aged for 15 months.  The bottle art honors the winery's Catalon roots with avant-garde imagery of Antoni Gaudi.  Vilarnau is one of several family-owned wineries of Gonzáles Byass. Established in 1835, their wineries span across most of the important wine producing regions of Spain.  This Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava is a perfect bubbly for the any occassion and goes well with most any food or snack (works really well with popcorn!).
  2015 Foggy Veil Hillside Selection Santa Barbera County Red Blend ($13)   This red blend is 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, in a traditional Rhone style. And the California Central Coast, Paso Robles and Santa Barbera, are doing tremendous Rhone blends.  This one is full-bodied with big fruit flavors of plum, fig and blueberry. It needed a bit of time to breathe in the decanter, but smoothed-out and was quiet enjoyable. This appears to be a Trader Joe's wine and a great value worthy of being featured in  Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week . Cheers!
  2016 Josh Cellars Rosé by Joseph Carr ($10)   We're quickly coming up on Valentine's Day, and what better wine to have in your glass than a rosé.  This "Josh" rosé from Joseph Carr is a nice one. At 12.5% alcohol by volume (ABV), it's a dry wine but the bright, crisp fruit flavors and acidity  give a bit of a sweet sensation on the palate  with 5 g/L of residual sugar.  According to their data sheet, this rosé is a blend of 89% Barbera and 11% Muscat that provides hints of strawberries and peach while finishing with a mouthwatering citrus flavor.  So, if you're looking to raise a nice glass of pink wine for Valentine's Day, check this one out. Cheers!
 2016 Cloudline Pinot Noir ($15)  Oregon's Willamette has become quite well known for its Pinot Noir and this one from Cloudline is a fine example.  The Cloudline wine was created in 2002 by Dreyfus Ashby who have been  This Pinot is part of the Droughin Family wines  Cloudline Cellars, created in 2002, represents a first for Dreyfus, Ashby who have been purveyor so fine wine and spirits since 1946 — their own wine.  Given their love for Pinot Noir and their long history developing  Domaine Drouhin Oregon, it’s not surprising that they choose Oregon’s Willamette Valley as the home for their own project. And, this wine is vinified by winemaker Véronique Drouhin.  This Pinot is medium-light in body, with delicate red fruit flavors of cherry and raspberry. And, at this price, it's well qualified as a  Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week   for its great value.
  2015 Hess Select Monterey County Chardonnay ($9)   Several wines from the Hess Collection of wines have been featured in my reviews, and this Chardonnay from Monterey County shows the consistency of their wines.  With just a bit of a chill on this one, it exhibits wonderful flavors of baked apple with just a hint of citrus flavors of lemon and lime.  This 100% Chardonnay saw just 25% new French oak that contributes to the baked apple flavor while the remaining 75% was kept in stainless steel to protect those tropical fruit and citrus flavors.  At just 0.2 gms Residual Sugar, this is a dry wine that lets its fruit shine though.  As always in the Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week features, this is a really nice wine at a great value that you should be able to find in your favorite wine store.  A good one!
  2015 Godelia Godello-Doña Blanca White Blend ($17)   I must admit, I had to do a little research on this one. The Godello and Doña Blanca grapes were ones that I wasn't familiar with, but am so glad that I had the opportunity to learn something new.  The Godello grape is grown in both Spain and Portugal. And, it's one that was on its way to extinction in the 1970s. But efforts were made to rescue this grape that now has a solid foot-hold in Galicia. These grapes produce intensely bright, acidic wines with citrus flavors and noticeable minerality. This leads to a long finish, ending with hints of saline.   To counter the bold Godello, the Doña Blanca grape, also from Spain and Portugal, is often used. This grape is aromatic, but light and delicate. In the past, it was used to produce white port, but now seems to be most often blended with other grapes, as is done with this wine.  This Godelia Godello-Doña Blanca white blend is produced from hand-picked grapes that are chilled for 24-48 hours to 23 degrees F. This process causes the grapes to split and begin maceration on the skins. The grapes are then pressed while simi-frozen and fermented in stainless steel tanks, thus preserving their bright fruit flavors.  This white blend was a real pleasant surprise. Not only did I get to learn about a couple of grape varieties, but I got to enjoy a really nice, bright and flavorful wine.  If you are able to find this one,  pick it up! This was a real eye-opener for me and one that I'd go back to often!  .................................................................................   Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission:   I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample Provided by Donna White Communications
  2014 Godelia Mencia ($19)   In a recent  Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week  I reviewed Godelia's White blend of Godello & Doña Blanco. I had to admit that I needed to do some research on these grape varieties. Here again, I need to do some homework.  The Mencia ( men-thee-ah ) grape is native to the northwest of Spain, with probably origins in Portugal. While in the past it has been only associated with table wines, the Mencia grape is becoming more widely known as a varietal.  The Godelia Mencia is cold-soaked and then begins to ferment as the tanks warm. The wine continues to soak on the skins for another six day. It spends 12 months on 90% French oak and 10% American oak, one-third of it being new oak.  This wine is very light on the nose, but exhibits good acidity and tannin, medium-bodied flavors of sour cherry and black licorice and finishes with a bit of characteristic acidity.  This was another fascinating introduction to a grape varietal. Godelia Mencia is definitely worth checking out. As a medium-bodied wine it pairs well with meat and cheese platters, a bold Spaghetti sauce or a nice grilled steak.  If you aren't familiar with Mencia, I strongly suggest given this one from Godelia a try! Cheers!  ............................................................................................................   Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission:   I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample Provided by Donna White Communications
  2016 Daou Chardonnay Paso Robles ($13)   I was well aware of the excellent red wines being produced by Daou in Paso Robles, but was extremely surprised by their Chardonnay. This wine seems to fall somewhere in between a bright, crisp, fruity Chardonnay that would come from stainless steel tanks and one with oak aging. While this one sees seven months in neutral French oak, it retains flavors of pear and white peach, but adds on some vanilla notes from the oak. Another really nice wine from Daou. And, a great value. Pick this one up. I'm going back for more!
  2013 Elevation 1250' Paso Robles Red Wine ($7)   This Elevation 1250' is a nice blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah from Paso Robles. And, as with all  Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week  features, it's a great value.  I must admit this is a unique find at Trader Joe's, and when I went on-line to learn more about the wine I came up empty handed. It is produced by Riboli Family Wines, a large conglomerate, but even their website does not include this one in their portfolio. So, it's not a mainstream wine and probably will come and go quickly.  Regardless, this is real nice red wine blend at a great price. I'd definitely suggest giving it a try. I went back for more! Cheers!
  2017 Beronia Verdejo ($13)   This Beronia Verdejo (Vehr-DAY-hoh) is imported to the USA from Spain's Rueda region by González Byass ( www.gonzalezbyassusa.com ).  Rueda, located in Spain's northwest, is home to the largest number of plantings of Verdejo grapes in the entire world. And, if you haven't ever tried a Verdejo, you're missing out.  This varietal is medium-bodied, with balanced acidity and stone-fruit characteristics.  The generic Rueda Denominación de Origen (DO) requires their wines to be at least 50% Verdejo, with the remaining blend made up of Sauvignon Blanc or Viura.  This Verdejo is a bright yet subtle white wine with flavors of grapefruit, stone fruit and fresh-cut grass. It’s a lot like Sauvignon Blanc but isn't. While the nose can fool you into believing it's Sauvignon Blanc, it's a lot more subtle on the pallet, and finishes with just a hint of acidity. It's a welcome alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.  I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. It's a really nice wine and a great value that is very enjoyable with Spring and Summer warm weather fare. Look for Beronia's Verdejo. You won't be disappointed.  ——————————————————————————————————————   Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission:  I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.    Sample Provided by Donna White Communications
  2017 Beronia Rioja Rosé ($13)   This wonderfully refreshing Rosé comes from the Rioja region of Spain, is produced by Beronia winery and distributed in the U.S. by González Byass wines. It's a nice blend of 40% Garnacha, 30% Tempranillo and 30% Viura (a.k.a. Macabeo) which is also used in the production of Cava.  This is a dry rosé (13% ABV) that is pale pink in color with bright strawberry aroma. It has refreshing acidity that results in a nice fresh finish.  This is a great choice for picnic outdoors or just enjoying its refreshing flavors on a warm day in the backyard. Pair it with Spring! Look for this delicious rosé. You will enjoy this one!  —————————————————————————————————————   Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission:  I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.    Sample Provided by Donna White Communications
  2016 Lusco Albariño ($25)   This 100% Albariño by Lusco is from Rias Baixas, in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain, located along the Atlantic coastline.  Imported into the U.S. by González Byass, this wine is fermented with natural yeasts produced by the grape. After its fermentation, the wine remains on lees for six months. This results in a more rounded and balanced wine.  It has great tropical flavors of pineapple and grapefruit with good acidity that is quite refreshing.  This is another nice wine to enjoy on a warm spring day or during the summertime. One sip and it will win you over! Enjoy this one!  ————————————————————————————————————   Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission:  I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample Provided by Donna White Communications
  Tio Pepe Fino ($20)   This Tio Pepe Fino Sherry is from the Jerez region of Spain. Jerez is the home of sherry and all true Sherry comes from the vineyards around Jerez.  Made from the Palomino grape, this Sherry uses only the free run and first press must. Following fermentation, the 11-12% ABV wine is fortified to 15.5% before entering the Tio Pepe solera. There it spends a minimum of four years in oak.  This Sherry has wonderfully light flavors and low acidity making it a perfect aperitif. It does have some hints of toasted almond. Serve it well chilled and enjoy!  —————————————————————————————————————   Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission:  I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample Provided by Rebekah Polster, Donna White Communications
  2016 Matsu El Pícaro Tinto de Toro (Tempranillo) $14   From the D.O. Toro in Spain, this 100% Tinta de Toro is grown in 50 to 70 year old vineyards and manually harvested.  It is fermented in concrete with natural yeasts.  Matsu pays homage on their labels to those that have been working the vineyards. And this "El Pícaro" translates as swindler, rascal, or scoundrel. But, I don't suspect there is any correlation.  This is a delicious medium-bodied Tempranillo with wonderful juicy fruit flavor of sour cherry, some moderate acidity, light herbal notes, a bit of spiciness and an easy finish. The concrete vessels truly do allow the fruit flavors to be the star in this wine without the addition of flavors typically associated with oak.  This is a nice one. And, as always in the  Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week  feature, it's a great value! Keep your eye out for this scoundrel - El Pícaro. He'll treat you nicely! Cheers!  ————————————————————————————————————-—  Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample provided by Rebekah Polster 401 West Communications and supplied by Vintae (www.vintae.com)
  2015 Matsu "El Recio" Tinta de Toro ($22)   This is the second in the lineup of 100% Tempranillos from Matsu. This one also comes from the D.O. Toro in north-western Spain.  The grapes used in this wine come from 90 to 100 year old vineyards that are manually harvested. After being softly pressed, it is fermented in concrete vessels with natural yeast.  But, unlike the  "El Pícaro" Tinta de Toro from Matsu  that I reviewed last week, this one is aged 14 months in second use French oak barrels.  The "El Recio" ( the tough or strong ) is a nicely produced Tempranillo. It delivers the deep, dark-fruit flavors of blackberry and fig while the addition of oak aging yields wonderful hints of chocolate, coffee and vanilla. If you prefer a more fruit-forward wine, the "El Pícaro" is the Tempranillo for you. But, if you are like me, and enjoy the added complexity that goes with a wine that has been aged in oak, this "El Recio" really comes through. It's a medium to full-bodied wine that's easy to drink and finishes very easy.  Keep your eyes out for this one. He's looking for you, too! Cheers!  ————————————————————————————————————-—  Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample provided by Rebekah Polster 401 West Communications and supplied by Vintae (www.vintae.com)
  2015 Matsu "El Viejo" Tinta de Toro ($47)   I saved the best for last! In previous  Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week  reviews I've featured Matsu's "  El Picaro  " and "  El Recio  " wines, both of which are very nice Tempranillos from the Toro region of Spain. But, " El Viejo " is Matsu's finest.  While Matsu pays homage to those who have worked in the vineyards with their real-life photos on the labels, " El Viejo " (meaning ' The old ') is a reference to the vineyard where these grapes are grown. Matsu selects only the best grapes to make this wine from their very old vineyards of more than 100 years of age.  Along with only the best grapes from the vineyard, this wine is treated to 16 months in new French oak during aging. The result is wonderful.  This full-bodied Tempranillo exhibits rich dark fruit flavors of fig, blackberry and raisin while the new French oak gives it a chocolatey flavor with a nice finish.  If you see " El Viejo " staring at you, be sure to pick it up and take it home. Enjoy! It's a treat!  ————————————————————————————————————-—  Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample provided by Rebekah Polster 401 West Communications and supplied by Vintae (www.vintae.com)
  2013 Hacienda López de Haro Reserva ($16)   This Rioja Reserva is a blend of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Granacha and 5% Graciano. It's grown in vineyards located near the heart of La Rioja, surrounded by the Sierra de Cantabria mountain and the river Ebro.  A Rioja Reserva wine must spend a minimum of one year in the barrel, and cannot be sent to market until a full three years after vintage. But, this Reserva spent a full 20 months in French and American oak.  This Rioja has bright, fruit-forward red and black fruit flavors while remaining on the lighter side of medium-bodied. The oak aging helps give complexity to soften the fruitiness. It has a nice easy finish with just a hint of spice.  In Rioja, "Reserva" truly has meaning and is certainly worth seeking out. This is one of those. And, while many Rioja Reserva wines can go well above $20, this one is a great value. Look for this one. You will enjoy it!  Look for the red Rioja Reserva label to ensure authenticity.  ————————————————————————————————————-—  Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample provided by Rebekah Polster 401 West Communications and supplied by Vintae (www.vintae.com)
  2015 Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon ($20)   This Cabernet from Hess Select is from California's North Coast. The wine is produced from Hess estate vineyards in Napa along with grapes from Lake County and Mendocino County.  Hess states that " The rolling hillsides and benchlands offer prime vineyard sites producing flavorful fruit with layers of agreeable acids and balanced tannins ." I would certainly agree.  This wine is a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petite Sirah, 4% Malbec, 2% Syrah, 2% Merlot and 2% Zinfandel. It's aged in 35% new French oak and American oak for 18 months.  The wine maker, Dave Guffy, describes this wine as having " Bright and vivid aromas of roasted vanilla, mocha and baking spices meet layers of blackberry and ripe cherry flavors ."  To find all these wonderful flavors in a California North Coast Cab for around $20 is a great find!  This Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon is another winning value feature in  Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week  that, as usual, is affordable and attainable. Look for this one! You will enjoy it. Cheers!   Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission:  I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample Provided by Donna White Communications
 2016 Hess Select Pinot Noir ($20)  This Pinot Noir from Hess Select is from California's Central Coast. Specifically, the Sarmento Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands region. From the Gablian Mountains in Monterey, these grapes experience the cool afternoon breezes from the Pacific Ocean that result in an extended ripening over a long, moderate growing season.  This 100% Pinot Noir is aged in neutral French oak for up to 12 months. Dave Guffy, Winemaker at Hess, states " A flavorful palate is highlighted by warm vanilla notes and a touch of clove all wrapped up in smooth, velvety tannins. "  Dave goes on to say " This wine invites you right in with bright aromas of cherries, raspberries and subtle hints of sweet spice ."  To find all these wonderful flavors in a California Pinot for around $20 is spectacular! With a slight chill on it, this wine is just as excellent on its own as it is with foods.   This Hess Select Pinot Noir is another winning value feature in  Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week  that, as usual, is affordable and attainable. Look for this one! Cheers!   Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission:  I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample Provided by Donna White Communications
  2017 Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina ($22.99)   I always enjoy learning something new about the wine world and this 100% Falanghina from Feudi di San Gregorio in Italy is just another example.  Prior to this bottle, I was not aware of the Falanghina grape. It turns out that it is an indigenous Italian grape from the Campania region, near Mount Vesuvius. And, it's no surprise that this grape isn't planted much outside of the Campania region of southern Italy.  These grapes were hand-harvested then individually selected for soft pressing, followed by 24-48 hours of cold settling at 57 degrees F. Cold fermentation in stainless steel vats and no malolactic conversion means that this wine holds true to its fruit flavors.  It has a nice light straw color, delicate flavors of apple and pear and crisp acidity that makes for a mouth-watering finish. Its delicate flavors and bold acidity make a chilled glass of this wine enjoyable on its own. But, it also pairs wonderfully with cheeses and light foods.  So, add Falanghina to your list to try if you haven't already. This one from Feudi di San Gregorio is a winner!   Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission:  I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample Provided by Will Rogers of Donna White Communications
  2016 Oremus Mandolás Furmint ($25)   Tokaj ( toe-kay ) is Hungary's most famous and respected wine region, mostly due to its super sweet, botrytized Tokaji dessert wines.  But, a new set of wines has emerged from the Tokaj region that are dry. This offering from Oremus is 100% Furmint (“f oor-meent ”) and is a dry white wine.  The Mandolás name is derived from the way in which these vines are grown.  This wine is aged in oak under a new barrel toasting method. This process only adds subtle hints of oak that preserve the minerality and acidity of this wine.  The acidity is what's most striking about this wine. While this Furmint shows very light tropical fruit notes in mid-palate, the acidity shines through brightly on the finish and just keeps on going. A very refreshing wine that will complement cheese plates and lighter meals.  If you haven't experienced a dry Tokaj wine, look for this Oremus Mandolás Furmint. It's really nice!   Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission:  I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample Provided by Will Rogers of Donna White Communications
  2016 Rancho Sisquoc Santa Barbara "Sisquoc River Red" ($10)   Now here's a red blend that recently caught my eye. Not because of any fancy label or special promotion in the store.  According to the Rancho Sisquoc  website  this is 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 14% Pinot Noir, 10% Syrah, 4% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Sangiovese and 2% Petite Verdot. Now, you might say "Wow" that's quite a number of reds in this blend. And, it is. But, what really caught my eye was the Pinot Noir.  I found it unusual to find 14% Pinot Noir in among all those other big players. Pinot is typically a lighter-bodied red wine and you'd think it would get lost in the mix.  But, this red blend really works. And, to find it for $10 when the winery website lists it for $22 is an added bonus. So, another  Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week  that's attainable and affordable. I went back for several more bottles. Give it a try. Cheers!
  2015 Feudi di San Gregorio Rubrato Aglianico ($19.99)   Aglianico (Ahl-YAH-nee-koh) is a native grape to southern Italy. This one, from Feudi di San Gregorio, is from the Campania Irpinia region of Italy, near Mount Vesuvious.  After being hand-harvested, these grapes were de-stemmed and pressed. Maceration and fermentation occur in stainless steel tanks for 10 days at 79 degrees F. Finally, it spends an additional 8 months of aging in stainless steel to preserve the fresh fruit flavors, then a minimum of 6 months in the bottle prior to release.  The first thing you notice with this wine is its brilliant ruby-red color. Then, the light fruit notes of the aroma draw you in. The flavors match the aromas with medium-light hints of red cherry and even a bit of strawberry. This grape is known for its firm tannins that are evident mid-pallet but do not overwhelm the light finish.  This is a really nice wine that leans on the light to medium-bodied side of things. With just a slight chill (cellar temperature) its acidity leads to a very refreshing finish. Keep your eyes out for this nice value from Feudi di San Gregorio. It's a good one!   Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission:  I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Sample Provided by Will Rogers of Donna White Communications
prev / next