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Distinctive New Wines

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Call For Torrontes, Other Terrific Inexpensive White Wines, An Old Friend Chardonnay, And A New Friend Pinot Noir

John Tilson • 5/8/11        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

Recently, in buying wines for my Inexpensive Red Wines article, I picked up a few other wines. Voila! I hit the mother lode! All these wines are Outstanding and Best Buys.

I found a new Torrontes, 2009 Trapiche. Earlier, in my Under The Radar 2009 Wines article, I reviewed two others, 2009 Inacayal Vineards and 2009 Zolo. All are from Argentina and all are outstanding. The wines to me are reminiscent of a blend of Muscat, Viognier, Pinot Gris, and Chenin Blanc. If you have not already done so, you absolutely must try Torrontes. So here is my third call for Torrontes. If you like it as much as I do, you will be happy, happy. And, if you don’t? Well, you are forgiven. That means more for the rest of us!
And I tried another Oregon Pinot Gris, 2009 Ponzi Vineyards. It is a bit different from the 2009 I reviewed in February from Willamette Valley Vineyards in an article called “Pinot Gris. It’s For Me. Do You Know Pinot Gris?” And, again, if you have not tried an Oregon Pinot Gris you simply must give them a try. These two are a great place to start.

Revisiting an old friend, I found a great 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from St. Clement in Napa Valley. Years ago, this was consistently one of our favorite California Sauvignon Blancs and, based on this, St. Clement has not lost their touch. If you like Sauvignon Blanc you really should try this. And another very old friend, Chalone, turned up with an outstanding 2009 Estate Chardonnay that is a great value in top notch Chardonnay.
Finally, I had  a gorgeous New Zealand Pinot Noir, a 2009 Craggy Ridge. It is delicous and worth a search to find. Recently, I attended a trade tasting for New Zealand wines (look for notes on that tasting soon). New Zealand is one of the wine world’s great new frontiers with lots of newly planted vineyards. As these vines age the quality of the wines should soar and the potential for New Zealand wines is huge, especially for Pinot Noir. I hope to have a lot more notes on New Zealand wines in the future.
So here are my notes on these outstanding and well-priced Distinctive New Wines. Get them while you can!

2009 Trapiche Torrontes Broquel Cafayate Valley, Argentina.
This wine is gorgeous. Light yellow in color with a faint golden hue, it has a stunning perfume of lichee nut, melon, spice, and citrus. It has gorgeous fruit with hints of the same components of lichee nut, melon, spice, and citrus and is lush and flavorful, yet elegant and balanced with an underlying crispness –- Outstanding. Frederick Wildman & Sons Ltd. New York, N.Y. $11.99 Best Buy 3-yellow-stars

2009 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Gris Williamette Valley, Oregon.
This is a delicious Pinot Gris. It is crisp, fresh, and bright with a pale yellow color and a lovely perfume with floral and herbal notes and a faint hint of spice. With gorgeous fruit it is flavorful with floral-toned citrus and melon and hints of herbs and spice. The wine is most appealing over the near term and is great with lighter summer foods –- Outstanding. $11.99 Best Buy 3-yellow-stars

2009 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris Williamette Valley, Oregon.
When purchasing wines for the Inexpensive Red Wines article, I was surprised to still find this wine on the shelves. Evidently a lot of people do not know Pinot Gris. Geez, I guess they are not reading the Underground where they can get the real scoop. But I do, so I bought some more. Once again, here is my note. The wine is pale yellow in color and has a gorgeous perfume with hints of pear and apple and floral and spice nuances. Refined and elegant, yet complex, this Pinot Gris has flavors of apple and pear with a hint of citrus and spice. Very tasty and extremely well balanced, it has a nice crispness and a lovely finish. The alcohol is 12.5% making it extremely compatible with a wide variety of lighter foods, especially fish. This is one to buy — Outstanding. $12.99 Best Buy 3-yellow-stars

2010 St. Clement Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley, California.
For me this is textbook California Sauvignon Blanc. Not too heavy, not too light, not too grassy, not too woody, and not too alcoholic, but just right. You owe it to yourself to try this and see if you do not agree with me. If you do, you have just found yourself a new favorite Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is light yellow in color with a gorgeous perfume that is faintly floral and citrus tinged with vanilla and herbal nuances. Balanced, with gorgeous flavors of grapefruit, herbs, and vanilla that are intermingled and subtle, it is crisp on the finish and oh so easy to drink –- Outstanding. $11.99 Best Buy 3-yellow-stars

2009 Chalone Vineyard Estate Chardonnay Chalone Appellation, Gavilan Mountains Soledad, California. Chalone was the pioneer winery in what is now the Chalone appellation of the Gavilan Mountains in Monterey County, California. The late Dick Graff made the first wine here in 1966 and he and others, such as Phil Woodward, built this into what is, for me, one of the most consistent producers in California of terrific Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, not to mention, Pinot Blanc. The reason is simple — the right grapes, grown in the right area, and non-manipulative winemaking that produces wines of flavor, complexity, harmony and balance. This Chardonnay is a classic style that is  what I like in Chardonnay. Not an alcoholic oak bomb that attacks your palate, but a balanced wine with complexity that caresses your palate and complements food rather than destroying it. This  is a must buy Chardonnay. Light yellow in color, the wine has a gorgeous perfume with hints of spice, vanilla and mineral and floral, citrus notes. It is balanced and finesseful, yet with lots of complex flavors tinged with apple, spice, and citrus. The finish has a nice crispness and this Chardonnay is delicious to drink now, but is likely to keep and develop over many years – Outstanding. $17.99 Best Buy 3-yellow-stars


DSC_12032009 Craggy Ridge Pinot Noir Te Muna Road Vineyard Martinsborough, New Zealand.
This is one of the new breed of New Zealand wineries which was established in 1997. This is a delicious, balanced Pinot Noir (even with 14.5% alcohol)  that really sings. It has a deep color and a gorgeous perfume with floral and spicy nuances. On the palate, the wine has lots of rich, supple blackberry, cherry-tinged fruit and has great structure and balance. It is certainly delicious to drink now. But I think it will be even more fascinating to watch it’s evolution over time as I expect the wine will develop a decidedly Burgundian character –- Outstanding. Kobrand Corporation, New York, N.Y. $29.99 Best Buy 3-yellow-stars

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