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Top 10 wines in the US press

Assobio White Douro DOC 2014, Portugal

“If you think Portugal is only famous for Port wine — the bracing sweet wine fortified with brandy that goes with chocolate and a fireside setting — you would be missing out on the wonderful non-fortified wines from here”, stated Sandra Silfven writing in Detroit News.

This white, a blend of Viosinho, Gouveio, Verdelho, Arinto and assorted other local varieties, is produced by Esporão at Quinta dos Murças in the Douro. Its name refers to the winds that blow through the vineyards.

“It’s crisp and dry with flavors of white stone fruit — nectarine, peach — along with apricot and tart notes of white grapefruit peel and green apple”, said Silfven. “It would be terrific with fresh seafood and entrée salads. It has a lot of character and demonstrates how versatile and unique these native grape varieties are.”

Price: $12.99

Tablas Creek Mourvèdre Paso Robles 2013, California, US

“This gorgeous, inky-colored dry red starts with aromas of rose petal, dark berries, dark chocolate and sweet brown baking spices, followed by yummy flavors braced with smooth round tannins and sturdy acidity”, said Silfven of this Californian red from Tablas Creek. “It’s tangy and balanced with notes of plum, dark berries, cocoa, leather and spice. It’s all about fruit from beginning to end.”

Tablas Creek Vineyard was established in 1989 in Paso Robles, an area “much like the Southern Rhone with a Mediterranean-type climate – where even the shallow limestone soils are reminiscent of the rocky Rhone”, said Silfven. It’s owned by importer Robert Haas, founder of Vineyard Brands, and the Perrin family, which owns the French winery Château de Beaucastel.

Price: $40

Ravines Dry Riesling 2013, Finger Lakes, New York

Dave McIntyre, writing for the Washington Post, explored the wines of Finger Lakes in New York this week, taking a look at not only the Rieslings on offer, but also its sparkling and red wines.

Of this Riesling, he said: “Ravines has achieved near-cult status for its Rieslings, especially the single-vineyard bottling from Argetsinger Vineyard on the eastern side of Seneca Lake. A few cases of the Argetsinger get to Washington each vintage, primarily in restaurants; the Dry Riesling is a bit easier to find, though by no means widely available.”

Price: $20

Hermann J. Wiemer Cabernet Franc 2013, Finger Lakes, New York

“Although known for Riesling, the Finger Lakes region is staking a claim to sleek, light reds with moderate tannins and alcohol, a distinct contrast with California’s weightier wines”, said McIntyre of the region.

“Cabernet Franc is one of those varieties, though Lemberger (a.k.a. Blaufränkisch, a prominent red wine of Austria) rivals it for regional prominence. Hermann J. Wiemer is another producer you can rely on for quality and value with any wine. The Rieslings are outstanding, including a reserve bottling from the Magdalena Vineyard. The Cabernet Franc is spicy and rich, great to enjoy with charcuterie or grilled meats.”

Price: $23

Handley Cellars 2012 Pinot Noir, Mendocino County, California, US

“The 2012 vintage was a dream for much of the California wine industry”, wrote Laurie Daniel in the San Jose Mercury News, noting Mendocino County to be one of the beneficiaries of the good weather.

“That certainly was evident at the recent Mendocino County Fair Wine Competition, where I was on the panel that assessed the 2012 pinots”, he said.

Highlighting Handley Cellars’ 2012 Pinot Noir as an “excellent buy” Daniel said: “The wine offers plump, lively cherry and crushed strawberry with some spicy notes and a slight leafy character.”

Price: $25

DeMorgenzon, Western Cape, DMZ Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2013, South Africa

Rebecca Murphy, writing for Detroit News, described this South African rosé from DeMorgenzon in Stellenbosch as a “cheerful mélange of red currant, orange zest, pomegranate and strawberry fruit with a bit of black pepper and dusty mineral notes”.

Detailing the history of the estate, Murphy added: “The DeMorgenzon estate is in the small town of Stellenbosch, east of Cape Town, in an area called the Cape Winelands. This is a stunningly beautiful place with cloud-crowned mountains rising above the vineyards. Winemaking was brought to South Africa with the establishment of the Dutch East India Company’s refueling station in the Cape of Good Hope area in the mid-1600s. The land that is now the DeMorgenzon estate was originally a part of the Uiterwyk farm, one of the oldest farms in South Africa.”

Price: $10.00-$14.99

CrossBarn Chardonnay 2014, Sonoma Coast, California, US

This Californian Chardonnay was described as “light and fresh, full of beautiful fruit flavors balanced by vibrant acidity”, by Dennis Sodomka writing for the Augusta Chronicle.

“The CrossBarn wines are nice because they are a way to get your foot in the door with Paul Hobbs wines, without paying the kind of prices those wines command”, he said. “The wines are still great, but at friendlier prices.”

Describing its flavour profile, Sodomka said: “The wine is a gorgeous pastel gold in the glass, with aromas of stone fruit and hints of lemon zest. When you sip it you get tastes of juicy gala apples, apricot and nectarine. It is a round wine, well-balanced with crisp acidity and lingering mineral notes in the finish. This is a lush wine, but the acidity gives it plenty of structure, putting everything in balance.”

Price: $24-26

2013 Ram’s Gate Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard, Carneros, California, US

Jeff Anderson from The Robb Report, which describes itself as “the definitive authority on connoisseurship for ultra-affluent consumers”, recommended Ram’s Gate’s Chardonnay, produced by third-generation vintner and a past chair of California’s Wine Institute Jeff O’Neill.

“The bouquet leads strongly with honeydew melon, accented with orange blossom”, he said. “On the palate, tropical notes of banana meld with honeycomb yet remain classical in character, and the finish is brisk and acidic. The wine would pair especially well with prawns, scallops, or crab.”

Price: $68

Mill Creek, 2013 Dry Creek Valley Gewürztraminer, Sonoma County, California, US

Peg Melnik, writing in the Press Democrat, picked this Californian white as her wine of the week, describing it as a “striking Gewürztraminer with yin-yang appeal”.

“It’s bright and zesty but has a honeysuckle finish”, she said. “It has perfect balance, and bright acidity, with layered notes of grapefruit, lemon and honey. It’s very aromatic, a gorgeous Gewürztraminer.”

Price: $23

Chloe 2013 Pinot Noir, Monterey County, California, US

Finally Stacey Vreeken, of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, recommended this Pinot Noir from Monterey, which she oddly described as “gentle and polite”.
“While the 2013 Chloe Pinot Noir shows pronounced fruit, its subtle tannins keep it quite polite and restrained. The grapes primarily come from Monterey County, adding flavors of strawberry, plum and cherries”, she said. 
She added: “Ruby in color, it has fruity, earthy aromas. On the palate, Bing cherry and plum push to a fruit-forward Pinot Noir. Tobacco, cinnamon, anise and subtle tannins offer a smooth finish and a well-developed wine.”
Price: $17

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