Let's start this week with a truly stunning Chardonnay from what is quickly becoming the gold standard for Southern Hemisphere Chardonnay, the Limari Valley in Chile. This single vineyard bottling from Merino is outstanding, and at $30 puts many California Chardonnays that cost twice as much to shame.
Chile makes up a good portion of this week's samples. From a lovely Sauvignon Blanc from one of the regions nearest to the coast, courtesy of Boya, to a rich and dark Petite Verdot from the Aconcagua Valley.
We've also got a Dolcetto (of all things) from the Willamette Valley, and a pretty Pinot Noir from Sequana, a label owned by the Hess Collection empire.
All of these and more below. Enjoy!
2013 Boya Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda, San Antonio Valley, Chile
Palest gold in color, this wine smells of gooseberry and green apple with a hint of that feline extract that has made Sauvignon infamous. In the mouth the wine is an explosion of fresh lime juice and the salty kick that makes this a picture perfect margarita flavor. The saline note lingers through the finish for a long time. The winemaker swears that the proximity to the ocean add this note. No matter how it got there, it is delightful. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $18. click to buy.
2012 Amayna Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda, San Antonio Valley, Chile
Light blonde in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and lemongrass. In the mouth, lemongrass and lemon curd flavors have a silky, creamy texture, and a tropical richness that is quite compelling, albeit a bit high octane. Some heat lingers in the finish. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2011 Clos des Fous "Locura 1" Chardonnay, Cachapoal, Chile
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of baked apples, wet stones, and pomelo pith. In the mouth, grapefruit and lemon juice flavors mix with a hint of baked apples and deep wet stone minerality. Excellent acidity and wonderful length with just a hint of quince linger in the finish with a brilliant lemon skin kick at the end. 14% alcohol. Score: around 9 . Cost: $30. click to buy.
2012 Merino "Limestone Hill" Chardonnay, Limari, Chile
Pale yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of cold cream, wet stones, and lemon zest. In the mouth gorgeously delicate flavors of wet stones, lemon zest, sea air, and beautifully silky cold cream goodness dance on the palate. This is a beautifully refined wine with great elegance and only the slightest trace of wood (30% new oak). Saline lingers in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2009 Vina Aquitania "Sol de Sol" Chardonnay, Traiguen, Malleco Valley, Chile
Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of buttered sourdough toast, cold cream and lemon curd. In the mouth the wine offers powerful lemon curd and more tropical flavors married to beautifully stony flavors. Gorgeous silky texture, wonderfully balanced, with a nice saline kick in the finish. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2007 Gloria Ferrer "Estate Grown" Pinot Noir, Carneros, Sonoma, California
Light ruby in the glass with a hint of brick red at the rim, this wine smells of raspberries and cedar and hints of pomegranate seed. In the mouth beautifully silky raspberry and red apple skin flavors are bright thanks to excellent acidity. These flavors linger for a long time with notes of crushed herbs and flowers through a long finish. Excellent. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $ . click to buy.
2009 Sequana Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, California, USA
Light ruby in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry and redcurrant with hints of red apple skin. In the mouth, flavors of red apple skin, raspberry, and raspberry leaf have a nice herbal note even as a mineral underbelly to the wine shows through. Somewhat high-toned, but quite pretty, and aging nicely in part thanks to excellent acidity. Orange peel lingers in the finish. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $32. click to buy.
2007 Tartan "Sunnyside Vineyard" Dolcetto, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of leather, mulberry, and wet dirt. In the mouth, crushed herbs, mulberry, and raspberry flavors take on a raspberry leaf quality as they linger in the finish. Great acidity and faint, somewhat stiff tannins linger for a while in the mouth. 86 cases made. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2009 Bonterra Vineyards Merlot, Mendocino County, California, USA
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright plummy, cherry fruit and a hint of tobacco. In the mouth, plum and cherry flavors are somewhat simple, but pleasurable, dusted by light tannins and a hint of oak. Good acidity and nice texture.13.6% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $ . click to buy.
2011 Garcia & Schwaderer "Special Selection Sofia" Pinot Noir, Casablanca, Chile
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of rich black raspberry and cranberry fruit. In the mouth the wine has a creaminess and soft acidity that delivers velvety flavors of cherry and cranberry fruit with a hint of red apple. The acidity is quite delicate, and the fruit quite powerful, and the wine seems to be missing the delicacy that I would like. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $39. click to buy.
2011 Vina Aquitania "Reserva" Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo, Chile
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of roasted nuts and bright cherry fruit with just the barest hint of vegetal notes. In the mouth bright cherry and roasted hazelnut flavors are wrapped in leathery tannins. Excellent, bright acidity keeps the fruit juicy and long through the finish. The overall package has a medium-bodied, claret style to it that is quite charming. Hints of green herbs linger in the finish along with cherry and a hint of wood. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2008 Von Siebenthal "Toknar" Petit Verdot, Aconcagua, Chile
Inky purple in the glass, this wine smells of woodsmoke and deep cassis fruit. In the mouth, rich cassis and blackberry fruit are tinged with flavors of new oak. Powdery tannins wrap the fruit in a gauzy haze. Nice acidity and a wonderful delicacy, if one can say that about such a powerful wine. Still to much oak for my taste, but it is pretty well integrated into the wine. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $100. click to buy.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
In Pursuit of Balance Tasting: March 10, San Francisco Vinography Images: Electric Vineyard Premiere Napa Valley and 2012 Cabernet Robert Parker Addresses Wine Writers 12th Annual Pinot Noir Summit: March 9, San Francisco Vinography Images: Sunset Oak The Worst Drought in Five Centuries Journalists Banned from Tasting Domaine Huet Wines 2008 Rivers-Marie "Summa Old Vines" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast Vinography Images: Long Shadows
Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 KirÃ¡lyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy