Best wine of the tasting ...
With all the Italian stuff I was surprised to find my favorite wines were actually at the lone American table, where seven producers showcased fifteen wines. The most impressive white of the afternoon was the Y3 Chardonnay ($33.95 - #67264) from Jax Vineyard, nice flavors and smells that leapt from the glass onto your tongue and down your throat, leaving behind a great long finish with crisp acidity: white fruit, spiced vanilla, tropical pineapple, caramel and brown sugar all combined in this smooth and balanced beauty.
My favorite red was also on this U.S. table, from a winery called Bishops Peak. Their 2005 Rock Solid Red ($20.99), a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Sirah, created a luscious sweet vanilla, plum, chocolate concoction - and that was just on the nose; the palate had juicy blackberry, black cherry and a smooth palate with a pleasing finish ... great price for a wine you can happily drink all night.
Best Portfolio ...
From the $14.99 2006 Tempranillo (great red fruit driven nose and flavors), to the $39.99 2002 Seleccion (88% Tempranillo, 8% Grenache, 4% Mazuelo – dried fruits, blackberries and quite juicy) the Bodegas Darien line really impressed - especially at the price points. The 2004 Crianza ($19.99 – drier with blacker fruits, as compared to the ‘06 Tempranillo above) and the $26.99 2002 Reserva (cinnamon, vanilla, blackberry and toasted caramel - made with the same grapes as the Seleccion) all offered value for the money from this Rioja (Spain) winery. Ole.
Not Just Wine ...
An Italian brewery called Birra Bruton was also on hand sampling seven different kinds of beer which came in 750ml bottles, now that's a civilized way to sell beer. There was the Momus with its caramel, coffee, latte notes; the Stoner, which was white fruit dominated; the Lilith, with its sweet nose, citrus palate and touch of bitters on the finish; along with seasonal beers like the 10% Dieci (barley wine style) which was simply delicious and the St. Renna, their Christmas beer, that has caramel added and a Christmas spice nose. All beer was $16.99 for 750 millions.
Notable values ...
Az. Agr. Collemattoni 2006 Adone ($19.95) – ripe and juicy, with cinnamon, spice and black fruit.
Vinicola Tombaco 2007 Ca’del Doge Primitivo ($12.99) – ripe and jammy, sweet fruit with plum on the mid-palate. Very dry finish.
Vinicola Tombaco 2007 Syrah “Terra Nuova” ($12.99) – more Zin-like than the Zin-like Primitivo, if you know what I mean: plum, raspberry, cola nut and vanilla.
Woolshed 2006 Shiraz/Cabernet ($14.99) – peppery, jammy and chocolate … nice price too.
Other Wines that were nice with a “fine” price …
Boroli 2003 Barolo ($79.99) – herbs and spice, cherry bite and dried sweet cranberry.
Ca’del Baio 2005 Barbaresco ‘Asili’ (part of 9 wine box for $500) – ripe red fruit, cherry, strawberry – drier, more straight forward than the other 2 bottles in this collection of wines.
Delibori Vignetti e Cantine
2000 Villabella, Amarone della Valpolicella ($59.95) – 2001 Villabella ($65.95)
the 2000 is perfect with its liqueur cherry taste, while the 2001 is getting there … both have the rich robust chocolate, cherry jam, raspberry, strawberry with an oak derived spiciness.
Tenuta Monteti 2005 Monteti ($59.99) – blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc … ripe red fruit with funky herb notes, beautiful nose – nice juicy blackberry-blueberry taste.
Az. Agr. Masciarelli 2006 ‘Marina Cvetic’ Trebbiano d’Abruzzo ($49.99) – unusual spiced pumpkin seed nose, and a nice taste … good Halloween wine.
Merry Edwards Wines 2006 Sonoma Coast and Russian River Pinot Noirs ($63.99/$74.99)
Sonoma has the sweeter fruit here; Russian adds the complexity of herbs, vanilla, cinnamon with a long finish.
Maison Camille Giroud 2003 Chambertin Grand Cru ($249 - #76620) – only 40 cases came in from Burgundy and some bottles still reside in the Classics catalogue … dried cherry on the nose; dried fruit and a nice smoothness on the tongue, combine with the 13.5% alcohol to give it a sweet flavour.