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Top 10 wines in the US press

2011 Pennywise Cabernet Sauvignon, California

Colette Bancroft, writing in the Tampa Bay Times, recommended this 2011 Pennywise Cabernet Sauvignon which she said would find favour with those “whose taste runs to lots of juicy fruit and who don’t care a fig for structure.”

She said: “This blend of cab plus snippets of Sirah and Merlot is tasty, though, and a good deal at $11 or less at wine shops and elsewhere.

“Big blackberry and black currant lead the way on the nose, with subtler notes of cherry and mocha, perhaps even a hint of pipe tobacco. The blackberry recedes on the tongue but the other three flavors are up front and lively. There’s even a bit of sulfur-y blackstrap molasses nipping around the edges of the palate and a faint prune bass note. The prune intensifies and carries a rich, dark, intense finish.”

Price: $11

2012 Tenuta Sarno ‘1860’ Fiano di Avellino, Campania, Italy

Irene Virbila, writing in the LA Times highlighted this “southern Italian beauty” which she said was “real stunner” and brilliant with seafood.

She said: “Southern Italian wines are just beginning to get their due. It’s been a long time coming. And the whites are less known than the sturdy reds. This Fiano di Avellino, a white from Tenuta Sarno in Campania (Naples is its capital) is a real stunner. I’ve always loved Fiano: This one is top of the class, with a deep minerality and complex flavors of quince, pears and almonds, it is brilliant with seafood.

“Have it with a grilled lobster or a thick swordfish steak, with Santa Barbara spot prawns or steamed shellfish.”

Price: About $25

McManis Family Vineyards Viognier River Junction, California, 2013

The wines of McManis Family Vineyards were showcased by Sandra Silfven, writing for Detroit News this week, a vineyard which she said offers “well-made, affordable selections” from their River Junction vineyards in Northern California. 

First up was this Viognier which Silfven said was a “fine introduction” to the work of the McManis family.

She said: “The aromas are citrus, floral, followed by flavors that give the immediate impression of sweetness but finish dry — grated orange rind, lime and honeysuckle notes are married with dry herbal, minerally traits. It’s stainless-steel fermented to retain the fresh fruit flavors. It’s yummy.”

Price: $11

McManis Chardonnay River Junction California 2013

Another of Silfven’s recommendations was the McManis family’s Chardonnay.

She said: “This Chardonnay has a floral, citrus, white stone fruit personality with a silky mouthfeel and dry, herbal finish. It is 100 percent fermented in stainless steel, so you are getting the full freshness of the fruit without any wood overtones.”

Price: $10

Funky Llama Shiraz 2011, Mendoza, Argentina

Gil Lempert-Schwarz, writing in the Las Vegas Review Journal turned his attention to south America this week picking this “tremendous wine” from Argentina which he said was “incredibly good value for money” at just $3.99.

He said: “On the nose: Freshly crushed black peppery fruit, bramble and woodsy mint first emanate from the bowl of the glass, then followed by crushed black plum skins, vanillin phenols, black cherry juice notes and hints of spices and sweet tobacco as well.

“On the palate: It is immediately an extremely juicy and mouth-coating wine, full of crushed black cherries, loganberries, huckleberry sauce, licorice root extract and black twizzlers. There is tremendous concentration through the midpalate that also shows a delineation not normally seen in wines of this level. It is well-structured to the finish that lingers surprisingly long with yet more anise, cherries jubilee and dry extract.”

Price: $3.99

Zin-Phomaniac Old Vines Zinfandel 2012, Lodi, California

Two “flirtatiously named” Zinfandels, perfect with grilled meats, were recommended by Dave McIntyre writing in the Washington Post this week.

Zin-Phomaniac is from Lodi, an area of central California “known for its old-vine zinfandels” featuring “textbook zin flavors of raspberry and cranberry”.

Of the wine he said: “Spicy raspberry and cranberry flavors are carried by a lush mouth feel and a long finish.”

Price: $18

Alexander Valley Vineyards Temptation Zinfandel 2010/2011, California

This “juicy” Temptation blend is part of a trio of “Sin Zins” from California’s Alexander Valley Vineyards.

McIntyre said: “The Temptation gives us a clean, juicy expression of the Zinfandel grape. The wine has been a reliable bargain, vintage after vintage. I most recently tasted the 2011, though the local distributor still has the 2010.”

Price: $13

Domaine du Savard, Cheverny AOC, Delaille Rosé 2013, Loire Valley, France

Rebecca Murphy, writing for Dallas News, recommended this “luscious rosé from the Loire Valley” made from Pinot Noir and Gamay.

She said: “The fruit is full of cherries and raspberries layered with citrus and savory, dusty mineral notes. It’s light bodied and totally dry, with vividly crisp acidity, a perfect refresher for a hot summer day. Try it with fried oysters or a fresh goat cheese.”

Price: $17.99

Baron de Hoen Cremant d’Alsace Brut NV, Alsace, France

A “less expensive” alternative to Champagne – Crémant d’Alsace Brut NV – was put forward by Dennis Sodomka, writing in the Augusta Chronicle this week.

He said: “This is sparkling wine from the eastern French region of Alsace, made in the same method as Champagne. Crémant d’Alsace is growing in popularity, and for good reason. It is a festive wine, pairs well with food and is relatively inexpensive.

“The Baron de Hoen Crémant has a beautiful bright straw color, with lots of small bubbles. Aromas of citrus, spice and green apples lead to lemon, orange and almonds on the palate. This medium-bodied wine finishes with a delicious, crisp acidity.”

Price: $17 to $19

2012 Biltmore Estate Reserve Chardonnay, North Carolina, USA

Finally, sommelier double act Allie Albanese and Melissa Diaz, writing for Parade Magazine, recommended Biltmore Estate’s Reserve Chardonnay from North Carolina.

They said: “Having never had a wine from North Carolina before, we were excited to taste Biltmore Estate’s Reserve Chardonnay. We had no idea what to expect, but were pleased to discover a well-balanced, fruit-forward wine with a healthy presence of oak that isn’t overwhelming.”

“Pairing suggestions: Grilled white fish with citrus or butter sauce, chicken kabobs, grilled pineapple, pork loin, lobster with butter, butternut squash, prawns, and Asiago cheese.”

Price: $15

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