Wine Reviews

Browse collection of wine reviews.


Veramonte Primus Carmenere, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Chile's adopted red grape, Carmenere, is now found in all shapes/sizes/price-points, from budget picks to top-end, expensive reds. Veramonte's Primus Carmenere falls somewhere nicely in-between, over-delivering on its cost in the way that many South American wines did when they first started to storm the market almost three decades ago. Substantial black plum flavors mingle with notes of pepper, herbs, and smoked meat to offer a red that may pleasantly surprise you with its sense of depth and concentration.

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Acquiesce Clairette Blanche, Lodi

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

California's Lodi is most famous for old vine Zinfandel, but the region does many things well (and it grows over 100 different wine grape varieties, red and white). Acquiesce's Clairette Blanche white shows off some of Lodi's vinous diversity. While certainly ripe and full of stone fruit flavors and aromas, it balances a sense of mouth-filling weight with refreshing acidity and pretty notes of white flowers.

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Kalfu Kuda Pinot Noir, Leyda Valley, Chile

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Chile's Ledya Valley has a direct line to the cooling breezes of the Atlantic Ocean's Humboldt Current, allowing it slowly ripen the finicky Pinot Noir grape. The Kalfu Kuda Pinot Noir is a great introduction to the Ledya Valley style of Pinot: zesty and fresh, with ripe wild berry flavors, and earthy notes of pepper, tea, and bramble.

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Lini 910 'Labrusca' Lambrusco Rosso Reggiano, Emilia Romagna, Italy

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

The Dog Days of Summer aren't the sole purview of white wine lovers. Those who prefer reds but want something refreshing on a hot day should look to a chilled glass of the Lini 910 'Labrusca' Lambrusco. Prickly and refreshing, this drier style of Lambrusco hits the spot in the Summer heat, but doesn't sacrifice on the dark cherry and red berry flavors.

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Chateau d'Esclans Rock Angel Rose (Cotes de Provence)

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Provence's Chateau d'Esclans is justifiably famous for their roses, particularly the fact that they offer one of the world's most expensive pink wines. The skill that informs their most famous offerings goes into their entire lineup, including the relatively new Rock Angel. This blend is made primarily from Grenache and Rolle (more commonly known as Vermentino), giving it a juicy, vibrant mouthfeel. The verve is tempered by a bit of time in oak, which rounds out the wine nicely, delivering textbook d'Esclans elegance.

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2014 Qupe Bien Nacido Vineyard 'Y' Block Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County)

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Those who have written off affordable California Chardonnay would do well to revisit Qupe's Y Block. There's little not to like in this Chardonnay, which deftly balances tropical fruit and cream flavors with vivacity and great palate energy. An open bottle isn't likely to make it long during a dinner party, given its crowd-pleasing sense of poise.

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The Calling 2014 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley)

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

If you enjoy your Pinot with a bit of heft and substance, or are just looking for an alternative red to enjoy with a steak, The Calling is a good option. This Russian River Valley Pinot Noir can be thought of as being brought to you by the letter C; not just for its namesake, but for the cola, cherry, cinnamon, clove, and cranberry aromas and flavors that it delivers.

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McCay Cellars Trulux Zinfandel (Lodi)

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

The celebrated McCay Cellars has been turning the modern idea of California Zinfandel (big, jammy, and hot) on its ear for a few years now. While certainly not a wine that one would mistake for Italian Primitivo, McCay's Trulux Lodi Zinfandel not only retains the ripe, plummy juiciness for which Lodi is well known, but manages to balance it with notes of pepper, dried herbs, and a sense of palate lift. That combination shows a side of Zinfandel to which many might not yet be familiar: elegance.

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2014 Cusumano 'Alta Mora' Etna Rosso, Sicily

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Tasting an enticing, moderately-priced red like Cusumano's Alta Mora, you can get an immediate sense of why so many people have such a favorable view of the wines coming from Sicily's volcanic Mount Etna region. Showcasing Sicily's native Nerello Mascalese grape, the Alta Mora is vibrant, perfumed, spicy, and smoky, making it a great introduction to the region, the grape, and a great match for duck.

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2013 Roco Winery RMS Brut, Willamette Valley

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

While it will cost you a pretty penny, those looking for a surprise (and to surprise their wine-loving friends) will find much to love in the Roco Winery RMS Brut sparkling wine debut. While it hails from Willamette Valley, this bubbly combines the focus, floral aromas, complexity, and liner acidity normally associated with more famous sparkling wine regions. In a blind tasting lineup with grower Champagnes, you'd be hard-pressed to pick out the RMS, which is a testament to how well this wine is crafted, and an exciting indication of what the future will hold for the brand.

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