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Top 10 wines in the US press

Maison Roche de Bellene, Bourgogne Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes 2011, Burgundy, France

204Two “outstanding, moderately priced” white Burgundies and a Moscato, perfect for al fresco dining, were recommended by Dave McIntyre, writing in the Washington Post this week.

In rating this white Burgundy “exceptional”, McIntyre said: “Good news for wine lovers: basic Burgundy, as in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir labeled “Bourgogne,” is getting better and better. Maison Roche de Bellene is a negociant — producing wines from purchased grapes or blending purchased wines — run by popular winemaker Nicolas Potel and imported by Loosen Bros., the import company of famed German winemaker Ernst Loosen. It is impeccable, rich with tree fruit flavors and moderate oakiness. Consider this a mini-Meursault, and stock up.”

Price:  $23

Santa Ema Moscato Soul 2013, Central Valley, Chile

image_2992716_fullThis “off-dry” Chilean Moscato, a cheaper alternative to McIntyre’s Burgundian selections, is makes a perfect aperitif, according to McIntyre.

“Fans of Moscato should try this off-dry version; it’s not as sweet as most but quite fruity, and delightful for sipping before dinner or with light appetizers,” he said.

Price: $10

Pedroncelli Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley, US

Pedroncelli Cabernet Sauvignon 2011This “graceful” blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot delivers “far more flavor and character than you might expect for the modest price”, according to Rebecca Murphy, writing for the Dallas News.

She described the wine as “packed with black currant, blackberry and plum fruit” with “notes of vanilla from American oak”, adding: “The wine is sturdy of structure, with tangy acidity and ripe tannins. Keep this one in stock for your weeknight burgers or tacos and your weekend family roast chicken dinners.”

 

Price: $12.99 to $13.99

Columbia Winery Chardonnay Columbia Valley Washington 2012

columbia-winery-chardonnay-2012-bottleSandra Silfven, writing in the Detroit News, chose to highlight a selection of wines produced by wine giants E.&J. Gallo, which in 2012 set its sights on a new winemaking region – Washington State – purchasing the Columbia Winery and Covey Run. The wines produced from the 2012 vintage she said are “spot on — in taste and price point.”

She said: “Like California, the 2012 vintage in Washington was also spectacular with uninterrupted long sunny days and cool nights. This Chardonnay reflects the style of the Northwest — good acidity and minerality to make the fruit more complex. Swirl and inhale aromas of ripe pear, apple, citrus and tropical notes.

“In the mouth, it’s crisp and dry, with nice body and complexity to complement the fruit with its many tropical nuances. This wine sees no oak and is aged on the lees in stainless steel for nine months. Perhaps what sets it apart and creates the charm is the addition of small amounts of Semillon, Chenin Blanc and a few other varieties.”

Price: $15

Columbia Winery Composition Red Blend Columbia Valley Washington

columbia-winery-composition-label

Silfven took a second of Columbia Winery’s wines to task – its red blend – describing its as a ” a symphony of berries, dark plum, espresso and spice”.

Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot from multiple vintages, she said the wine was bursting with flavours of “blackberry, cherry, cranberry, dark plum and black pepper with acidity for balance and velvet tannins,” calling it a “complex” glass of wine.

“This is a terrific-drinking wine for the price. It showcases the quality and character of Washington reds,” she said.

Price: $17

2012 Enkidu “E” Old Vine Field Blend, Sonoma County, Napa, US

Sonoma_Cab3Made from an “appealing rustic blend” of Zinfandel, Carignane, Alicante Bouschet and Petite Sirah , Irene Virbila, writing for the LA Times, described this wine as a “wonderfully vivid and complex red wine”.

She said: “In this old way of making wine, all four varietals are planted, crushed and fermented together. Those wine pioneers must have known what they were doing because the assemblage makes a wonderfully vivid and complex red wine. With its flavors of dark berries and wild herbs, “E” recalls village wines of the southern Rhone. I took one sip and wanted another and another.

“Great with burgers, barbecue and especially those baby lamb chops called scottaditta —”burn your fingers.” But it’s also supple enough to work with grilled vegetables and main course salads.”

Price:  $18 to $22

Alta Luna Rosso IGT 2009, Dolomites, Italy

image_2822753_fullGil Lempert-Schwarz, writing in the Las Vegas Review Journal, described this wine as having the “most unusual blend of northern Italian indigenous varieties with classic Merlot”. The result, he said, was a “stunner of a wine that has tremendous staying power both in the glass and on the palate.”

In recommending this Italian red, made from Teroldego, Lagrein and Merlot grapes, Lempert-Schwarz said: “Powerful and rounded, the wine hits the palate with black cherry juice, elderberry jam, concentrated blackberry liqueur, creme de cassis, oak references and other pungent black fruit concoctions.

“It eases off on the mid-palate with soft, supple tannins that although very present are finely balanced, and then finishes with a big black fruit kick, invoking freshly crushed elder fruit and those slightly rustic characteristics to the end. Based on its concentration and forceful flavor profile, this is an excellent alternative to Cabernet and Merlot-based wines, but it clearly has its own style and character.”

Price: $9.99

2010 Buty Winery Red Blend “Rediviva of the Stones,” Walla Walla, Washington State, US

0222_Butybottle_WebThe wines of Washington State were given another showing by Bill St John, writing in the Chicago Tribune this week, a region he said benefitted from an average of 300 sunny days a year, “deep, well-drained” soil and constant wind which helps “prevent mold, rot and fungus”.

Of this wine from the Walla Walla Valley, he said: “Another go-to red wine Washingtonian. It is unusual to find blends of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon (2/3 Syrah, 1/3 Cab; touch of Mourvedre), but it’s carried off here: huge aromatics, enormous concentration, but suede-like tannins and beautiful presence on the palate. It takes Syrah’s plush fruit and ties it into a pretty package with the cabernet. Nice idea.”

Price: $60

2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot Indian Wells, Columbia Valley, Washington State, US

2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot Indian Wells, Columbia ValleyAnother of St John’s picks was this Merlot from Chateau Ste. Michelle, describing the decision to recommend its as “close to being a no-brainer”.

He said: “Merlot is the second-most-planted red grape variety in the state (after Cabernet Sauvignon), and this exhibits all that we miss about Merlot, post-“Sideways”: chocolate-wrapped cherry, hint of mint, effusive dark red fruit character, can’t-see-’em tannins.”

Price: $19

 

Flora Springs Soliloquy Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Oakville, US

2012_soliloquy_oakville_sauvignon_blancFinally Dennis Sodomka, writing in The Augusta Chronicle, recommended this Sauvignon Blanc which he said starts with “aromas of  lemon peel and lime zest with hints of ginger.” On the palate, he said it was “full of bright, fresh notes with citrus and lemongrass leading to a crisp minerality.”

Elaborating, he said: “This medium-bodied wine finishes with plenty of elegance and finesse. The grapes come from two blocks in the Soliloquy Vineyard, 57% Soliloquy clone and 43% Musque clone. It is amazing Flora Springs devotes this much attention to Sauvignon Blanc in the heart of Napa Valley, where Cab and Chardonnay are king and queen. The wine proves this gamble was worth it. Flora Springs has been making this Sauvignon Blanc since 1989.”

Price: $24 to 26

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