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Top 10 wines in the US press

Cherry Tart Pinot Noir 2012, California, US

cherrytartpinot12-w-2With the 4th of July celebrations about to kick off in the US, Dennis Sodomka, of the Augusta Chronicle, recommended this Cherry Tart Pinot Noir which he said was perfect for barbecue summer sipping.

He said: “I know most people will have beer with their Fourth of July feasts, and I might even have one or two. But don’t automatically rule out wine. We might not have invented wine (and we didn’t invent beer, either), but Americans drink a lot of it, so there’s nothing wrong with a little patriotic birthday toast made with wine. I looked for a wine that shouted American for my Fourth of July drink, and I found it with the Cherry Tart Pinot Noir 2012 from California. The label features a picture of three cherry tarts on a red-checkered tablecloth just like the one we’ll be eating on for the Fourth.

“It’s a beautiful wine, full of lush cherries, plums, strawberries and vanilla. There might be something to the power of suggestion, because drinking the wine while looking at the label made it taste like I had bitten into ripe cherries. The color even is a bright, cherry red. There’s more to the wine than just cherries, of course. The inviting aroma has hints of cloves and strawberries. The finish is long and elegant. Looking at the label you might think the wine is just a marketing gimmick, but you would be wrong.”

Price: $24-26

Chateau Grand Traverse Whole Cluster Riesling 2012, Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan, US

rieslingA selection of American Rieslings were showcased by Dave McIntyre writing in the Washington Post including this wine from Chateau Grand Traverse – Michigan’s leading producer – which he rated exceptional.   

He said: “Anyone who has spent time in Michigan knows the words “lake effect” are usually followed by “snow.” But on the Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City, Lake Michigan moderates the climate and allows cool-climate white-grape varieties such as Riesling and Pinot Blanc to thrive. Chateau Grand Traverse is the region’s leading producer. The Whole Cluster Riesling is slightly off-dry though definitely not sweet, showing excellent fruit and texture.”

Price: $18

Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling 2012, Columbia Valley, Washington, US

cv_dryriesling_clearMcIntyre also rated Chateau St Michelle’s 2012 dry Riesling describing it as a “terrific buy” and an excellent value white at just $11.

He said: “When this was priced below $10, I considered it the best white wine value produced in the United States. Even with the price creeping up, it remains a terrific buy. Ernst Loosen’s work on the Eroica has resulted in improvements throughout the extensive Ste. Michelle line of Rieslings.”

Price: $11

2011 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, US

1061777xThis “decadent” Cabernet Sauvignon was recommended by Sandra Silfven, writing in the Detroit News – a wine she said was “so lush and delicious, so powerful and concentrated, you need a knife and fork.”

She said: “It’s like a chocolate bonbon filled with raisins, cherries and walnuts. Think black currant, dark plum, cherry, and dark chocolate. It’s approachable for all its power and youthfulness. This wine is produced by the noted California vintner and transplant from Chile Agustin Huneeus, whose many properties include Quintessa in Napa Valley, Faust Napa Valley Caberent Sauvignon, Illumination Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Veramonte and Neyen in Chile, and Longshadows in Washington state, where he is a partner. And his portfolio is bigger than this. Huneeus is obviously a big fan of German writer-poet-playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe by naming this wine after the German author’s famous play. The website is packed with references to Goethe.”

Price: $55

Gnarly Head Pinot Noir California 2012


Silfven described Gnarly Head’s Californian Pinot Noir as a “pleasing” entry-level wine and an example of one of “the world’s prized wines”.

She said: “The brand that launched itself on gnarly old vine Zinfandel, and moved on to a Red Blend and Merlot, also makes a Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. These are affordable wines, often on sale in the supermarket aisles. This Pinot is a pleasing entry-level example of one of the world’s prized wines. It’s an earthy package of intense cherry, plum, spice and vanilla infused with smoky oak. Grapes are harvested off vineyards in the North Coast, Monterey and Lodi appellations. The brand is made by DFW — Delicato Family Wines, which has a long history in the California wine business.”

Price: $12

La Crema Pinot Gris, Monterey, US

image_2698273_fullLastly Silfven picked this “juicy” Pinot Gris produced by the La Crema winery in Monterey, owned by Jackson Family Wines.

She said: “Though “Gris” often signals some use of oak, this wine is all-stainless-steel fermented and aged. It’s a lovely, juicy, summer refresher: Aromas and flavors shout intense lemon, orange zest, lime, melon and honeysuckle. It’s fermented to total dryness, but various fermentation techniques keep it fruity and retain its wonderful acidity for balance. La Crema is owned by Jackson Family Wines, which sources fruit for this wine from Monterey’s cool benchlands.”

Price: $20

2012 Quivira Vineyards “Wine Creek Ranch” Grenache, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, US

quiveraIrene Virbila reviewed this Grenache from Quivira Vineyards in Sonoma, writing in the LA Times – a wine she said was packed with black cherries and dried wild herbs.

She said: “From an experienced hand at Grenache and grapes farmed biodynamically comes this bright, juicy Sonoma Grenache. The 2012 Quivera Grenache from Wine Creek Ranch is silky and smooth, tasting of black cherries and dried wild herbs. It’s delicious and easygoing, but with some depth and character.

“Open a bottle for your best burgers, steak frites, a rack of ribs or a main course salad. Good with cheese too.

“What it goes with: Burgers, steak frites, ribs, main course salads, cheese.”

Price: $32

2011 Domaine de l’Ecu Muscadet Sevre et Maine Granite, Loire, France

image_2928465_fullBill St. John brought together the world of wine and pizza writing in the Chicago Tribune this week, recommending the best wines to pair with a Tex-Mex pizza encouraging his readers to have fun with their selections.

He said: “The origin of pizza is obscure; what it has become is not. Anything goes, as this multicolored Tex-Mex version well shows. In the spirit of the dish, why not have some fun with wines to accompany it? Easily done, for the world of wine is chockablock with bottlings of offbeat grape varieties and from far-flung locales. Play with color, too, because white, pink (sparkling!) or red will do here. As for a style of wine, however, be sure that it is also light on its feet; that is, fresh and lively with crisp, cleansing acidity.”

Of this wine from the Loire, he said: “Made of the grape melon de Bourgogne in the classic super-dry style, all citrus and saline minerals, and as lean as drinking a sunbeam.”

Price: $20

2012 Frontera Moscato, Central Valley, Chile

Frontera_Pinot_Grigio_750_Bottle_NEW_LABELAt just $3 this is the cheapest of our US wine recommendations, but does it deliver on quality? Gil Lempert-Schwarz, writing in the Las Vegas Review Journal, thinks it is an “ultradelicious” wine perfect to celebrate Independence Day with.

He said: “The soft white fruit overtakes the palate in a most delicate way with light prickliness on the tongue, but nothing like a Champagne or sparkling wine. There are supple honeydew melon, golden delicious apple, lychee and pear sparkler notes through the midpalate into the very soft and delicate finish, which lingers for a minute with nice white fruit and good complex minerality that gives the wine a light, yet serious structure.

“I’m going to come right out and say it: This is the wine to celebrate Independence Day with. Now before you all start coming after me for advocating that you drink Chilean Moscato for the July Fourth celebrations, I would like to point out that none of the major American beer brands are American owned anymore. That’s right, Budweiser, Miller, Coors and a whole host of other big-name brands are owned by foreign brewing groups. Another reason is that this ultradelicious and easy-drinking Moscato from giant Chilean producer Concha y Toro is actually on supersale at Lee’s Discount Liquor for the ridiculous sum of less than $3. In addition, with all the snacks and foods that are normally consumed for the Fourth of July celebrations, this is an ideal pairing wine, because it has a bit of sweetness and goes great alongside anything pretty much.”

Price: $2.99

2012 Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon

cab_large1Finally, Colette Bancroft, writing in the Tampa Bay Times,

Vineyards around California’s Lodi region, a cradle of notable zinfandels, were tapped for the 2012 Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon (about $9 at big-box wine stores), thus proving that the region, which people love to love and love to hate, has more than a single string to its bow.

This a dark but hardly moody cab, offering on the nose a nice bouquet of blackberry and cassis. (What is this cassis we’re always citing? Flavor derived from black currants that grow in Burgundy.)

Big, juicy, dark fruits lead the way on the tongue, with concentrated plum, black cherry and raisins chiming in at mid palate. Understated tannins make their presence known without shouting. This well-balanced red finishes medium long with a dark chocolate cherry bass note at the finale.

It goes without saying that a robust cab like this pairs well with steaks of many descriptions, but it will also pair to good advantage with equally robust four-cheese pasta, lamb chops or strong cheeses.

Price: $9

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