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UNDER THE RADAR AND VALUE PRICED WHITE WINES, SPARKLING WINES, AND RED WINES FOR SPRING

John Tilson • 5/7/13        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

FEATURING A SELECTION OF WINES FROM AUSTRIA, CALIFORNIA, ITALY, FRANCE, AND SPAIN

One of the nice things about wine is that there are many choices to choose from. But, while to some this is a challenge to be approached with gusto, to others it is daunting.

But, no matter where you are in the spectrum, it is fun to try new things, particularly if you can find bargains. That’s where this under the radar and value priced commentary comes in. It is done regularly as part of Distinctive New Wines (to read the last article click here).   There is a wide variety of wines at attractive prices points. Celebrate spring and be adventuresome. Cheers!

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White Wines

Austria

Grüner Veltliner
Grüner Veltliner is a very food friendly wine that is great with a wide variety of foods including vegetable dishes. This is a lovely example.

2011 Weingut Allram Grüner Veltliner Reserve Gaisberg Kamptal.
Light yellow gold in color this wine has a lovely complex perfume with floral/herbal  nuances and hints of citrus, peach and apricot. With lovely subtle fruit flavors showing faint suggestions of peach, melon, and citrus it is rounded and supple with a faint crispness on the finish. This is a wine to drink now, although many Grüner Veltliner’s are capable of aging for an extended period – Highly Recommended Plus. 2-n-half-yellow-stars     $19.99  A K&L Wines Selection imported by Premier Wine Company Richmond, CA.

California
Below are notes a wonderful and unusual white wine from Tablas Creek Vineyard and a Chardonnay from Toad Hollow Vineyards made without oak. Tablas Creek makes consistently excellent Rhone varietals sourced from their estate vineyards and other vineyards in Paso Robles. Toad Hollow Vineyards makes consistently fine food friendly and value priced wines sourced from Northern California vineyards.

Vermentino
Vermentino is Mediterranean varietal grape grown in Corsica, Northern Italy, and Sardinia. It is also grown in the Rhone Valley and particularly in the Côtes de Provence where it is known as Rolle.

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2012 Tablas Creek Vineyard Vermentino Paso Robles.
This is the 11th vintage for Tablas Creek Vineyard Vermentino. It is a great example of this relatively unknown varietal. Initially a bit closed, the wine really benefits from some air. This is a wine I would recommend decanting before serving.  It is light yellow in color and has a lovely floral tinged perfume with hints of peach and quince. The wine has great elegance and balance with a low 12.5% alcohol and is also very flavorful with hints of peach and quince accented by a tinge of citrus. A particularly attractive feature is the bright crispness that is very transparent in the finish. This is a unique wine and one that has a lot of appeal with a wide variety of lighter foods – Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars    $27

2011 Toad Hollow Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay Francine’s Selection Mendocino County.
This is the 19th vintage for Toad Hollow Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay. The grapes come from three 20 to 40 year old low yielding Mendocino vineyards that have been tended for decades by their family growers. This is a lovely expression of Chardonnay fruit without the influence and it is very food friendly.
Light yellow in color the wine has a lovely floral perfume with hints of apple and pear and a very faint tropical nuance. Very pure, with apple and pear fruit complemented by tropical and citrus notes, this Chardonnay is balanced and very tasty with a lot of early appeal – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars    $14.99    Best Buy

France
The long history of winemaking in France results in a wide variety of wines. The best known classified growth Bordeaux and Burgundy are very expensive. But there are also really fine lesser known wines from these areas. And from Corsica, the Rhone valley, the Loire valley, and many lesser known areas come wonderful wines made from a wide variety of grapes such as Muscat, Aligoté, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Chateau Couronneau
Located in the southwest of France in the district of Libourne, Chateau Couronneau has a history going back to the sixteenth century. The Cartier family, who are the current owners, are descendents of Jacques Cartier who lived here and who is also credited with the discovery of Canada in 1534. Chateau Couronneau is designated Bordeaux Superieur which is an appellation that covers the whole of the Bordeaux region. Today the vineyards are organically farmed with the goal of making great wines. I’d say they are achieving their goal. This is certainly a property to watch.

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2011 Chateau  Couronneau Blanc Bordeaux Superieur.
This wine comes from less than 10 acres of vines that are planted equally to Sauvignon Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. It is stunning and a great value. Light yellow in color the wine has a great perfume showing melon and citrus with a floral nuance and hints of fresh herbs. On the palate there is lots of fruit with melon and citrus accented by a floral nuance and a kiss of spice. Supple and rounded, yet with a gorgeous underlying crispness, this is a wine that is balanced and complex with a lot of charm – Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars    $15.98    Best Buy    Shipped by Jeanne-Marie De Champs Beaune, FR and Imported by Wine House Limited San Francisco, CA

Aligoté
Aligoté was the original white grape of Burgundy. But, after Burgundy was ravaged by disease in the late 1800s, Aligoté was replaced with Chardonnay. Today only a little Aligoté is grown in Burgundy. In the Côte d’Or there are a few small plantings including those at Domaine Roulot.

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2010 Domaine Roulot Bourgogne Aligoté.
This wine is pale yellow in color and exhibits a gorgeous perfume showing floral, herbal nuances and a suggestion of mineral and citrus. The flavors are subtle yet complex with hints of grapefruit offset by a faint floral spice tinged quality. And, the wine is silky and refined with a lovely crispness on the finish. This is an exquisite Aligoté of great breed and finesse – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars   $29    Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA.

2011 Michel-Andreotti Montagny Les Guignottes Saint-Vallerin.
Montagny is located in the southwest part of the Côte Chalonnaise subregion of Burgundy. Only white wines are made here and all are made from the Chardonnay grape. There is a wide variance in quality in this area and selectivity is the key. From Michel-Andreotti located in the village of Saint-Vallerin, this is a lovely example.
With a light yellow color this wine has a lovely perfume of peach and citrus with a faint floral undertone and a kiss of spice. It has very pure fruit with citrus and peach accented by a touch of spice and a faint underlying minerality. Balanced and supple yet with a nice crispness on the finish this is a wine with a lot of early appeal – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars    $19.99   Shipped by Jeanne-Marie De Champs Beaune, FR and Imported by Wine House Limited San Francisco, CA

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2011 Domaine Leccia Muscat Sec Cuvée 281 Vin de Pays de l’Île de Beauté, Patrimonio, Corsica.
This wine is made from Muscat grapes grown on young vines grown in a small vineyard just over an acre in size. It is different from any other Muscat wine I have ever tasted and is simply gorgeous. Certainly the wines from Corsica are very distinctive and under the radar (to read more about wines from Corsica click here).
The wine is light yellow in color and has a lovely floral perfume with a faint exotic citrus note and a faint suggestion of spice. On the palate it has lovely fruit with hints of melon and citrus and a faint exotic floral quality. The wine is very elegant, rounded, and soft with great purity and gorgeous balance. This is a seriously outstanding wine that is distinct and unique and you simply have to taste it to believe it – Outstanding.    3-yellow-stars   $26   Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA.

Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine is a subregion of the greater Muscadet appellation which lies at the western end of the Loire Valley. Muscadet is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape which has been grown here since the 17th century. It is the most widely produced wine in the Loire Valley. Michel and Nathalie Delhommeau farm nearly 70 acres in Muscadet Sèvre et Maine. The vineyards are planted in very rocky soils and Michel vinifies by soil type, separates wines by vine age, and keeps volumes quite low.

2010 Michel Delhommeau Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie Symbiose. $14.99 K&L
This Symbiose bottling is made from a selection of grapes grown on vines in amphibolites soils. It is a really lovely Muscadet that is very pure, bright and crisp. The color is light yellow and the wine exhibits and lovely citrus and melon perfume with lots of minerality. It is beautifully balanced with a subtle fruitiness and lots of citrus and mineral notes. This is the classic style of wine to accompany raw shellfish and sashimi – Highly Recommended Plus.    2-n-half-yellow-stars  $14.99   Imported by John David Hendrick Selections Asheville, NC   

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2009 Michel Delhommeau Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Monnières Saint Fiacre. 
This is a premium bottling named after the village. It is based on wines made from grapes grown on a type of soil called gabbro (which is basically rock formed from molten lava) and was kept 36 months before bottling. This is a very special wine, not unlike a top Chablis with lots of depth and richness and a firm core of minerality. It is light yellow in color and has a lovely floral tinged perfume with underlying hints of citrus, melon, and a faint smoky flintiness. The fruit is very pure and the wine is supple and rounded yet with a distinct mineral tinged crispness that carries through on the finish – Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars  $24.99    Imported by John David Hendrick Selections Asheville, NC   

2011 Domaine de la Petite Chassagne Blanc Costières de Nimes.
From the Rhone Valley, this is a lovely lighter styled white wine. It is pale yellow in color with a delicate floral perfume showing hints of melon and citrus. It is subtle and refined with floral tinged fruit and has a nice underlying crispness – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars   $12.99   Imported by Robert Kacher Selections New York, NY

2011 Boudinaud Grange Des Rouquette Viognier Pays d’Oc. 
The Boudinaud family have been growing grapes and making wine in Southern France for five generations. This is a lovely Viognier that is blended with 15% Marsanne. I don’t every remember tasting a wine made from these two combined grape varieties. So it is unusual to be sure, but is very attractive also very attractively priced.  Light yellow gold in color the wine has a lovely floral perfume with tinges of spice, citrus, and fresh herbs. On the palate, the fruit is very well defined with hints of citrus and pear and a faintly floral spiciness and the wine is supple and rounded with a nice crispness on the finish – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars   $11.49   Best Buy   Imported by Wine House Limited San Francisco, CA     

Domaine de l’Aujardière
This nearly 70 acre domaine is located in the Nantais of the Loire Valley not far from the Atlantic Ocean. Éric Chevalier, representing the 4th generation of the family, returned in 2005 to take over from his father. Prior to his arrival, most of the wine was not bottled, but sold in bulk. Now Éric is bottling more and more of the wine. Several different wines are being made including this unusual Fié Gris. Fié Gris, also known as Sauvignon Rose or Sauvignon Gris, is indigenous to the Loire, but for many years has been steadily replaced with the more profitable Sauvignon Blanc. This now rare wine is made from Fié Gris grapes grown on 7 acres of vines. It is unique and delicious.

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2010 Domaine de l’Aujardière Vin de Pays Blanc Fie Gris. 
Light yellow in color with a lovely floral perfume showing citrus and herbal notes with a faint mineral tinge, this wine is very pure and elegant with a beautifully balanced crispness. The flavors suggest melon with an exotic tinge. Underlying are herbal citrus notes also showing a faint tinge of green pepper. Delicate to be sure, but with a beguiling complexity, this wine is a lovely accompaniment for delicate white fish and is also a wonderful complement to fresh goat cheese – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars    $24.95   Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA.

Spain
The white wines of Spain have improved dramatically since I first started tasting them way back in the seventies. And, while there have been a lot of really nice Spanish white wines made in more recent years, most still are very much under the radar and not expensive.  This is a great example that is available at a very affordable price.

2011 Bodegas Puelles Blanco Rioja.
This wine is made primarily from Viura with a bit of Grancha Blanca, Malvasia, and Chenin Blanc in the blend. It is light yellow in color with citrus tinged perfume showing herbal and floral nuances and a hint of white peach. On the palate there is lovely melon like fruit with flavors also offering subtle nuances of citrus intermingled with herbs. This is a very pure and clean wine with a delicacy that makes it very versatile with a wide range of lighter foods – Highly Recommended.   2-yellow-stars  $9.99    Best Buy   A K&L Wines Selection Imported by Premier Wine Company Richmond, CA.

Sparking Wines
Outside of Champagne, France makes a wide variety of sparkling wines. Here is a really good one that comes, from all places, Beaujolais. And, from Spain here are two sparkling wines that represent very good value.

France

NV Nicole Chanrion Sparkling Wine Efference.  
Nicole Chanrion makes a wonderful Côtes de Brouilly Beaujolais (to read my note on that wine click here).
She also makes this sparkling wine from grapes grown on the same 50 year old Gamay vines in her Côtes de Brouilly vineyard. It is a vintage wine, although she always uses a non vintage label. This wine is from the 2010 vintage. Light yellow gold in color it has a lovely floral perfume with a faint minerality tinge and a hint of citrus. It has a nice freshness and is creamy with subtle fruit flavors suggesting apple, peach, and citrus. Balanced with a nice underlying crispness that carries through on the finish, this is a lovely sparkling wine – Highly Recommended Plus.   2-n-half-yellow-stars      $27     Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA.

Spain

NV Mas Codina Cava Brut Reserva Penedès.  
Mas Codina is a 100 acre estate in Penedès with a history dating back to 1681!
This sparkling wine was made from 50% Macabeo, 35% Xarel-lo, 10% Chardonnay, and 5% Pinot Noir. The wine is pale yellow in color and has a nice floral perfume with faint herbal and mineral notes tinged with citrus. Very clean, fresh, and pure it has a nice creaminess and lovely peach and citrus tinged fruit. This is a really nice sparkling wine at a very affordable price – Highly Recommended.      2-yellow-stars  $12.99    Best Buy    A K&L Wines Selection Imported by Premier Wine Company Richmond, CA.

2008 Can Mayol Loxarel Cava Reserva Brut Nature Refugi.
The Can Mayol winery, located in one of the highest parts of the Penedès, bottles their wine under the trademarked name “Loxarel”. This sparkling wine is composed of Xarel-lo, Macabeo, Parellada, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir and was disgorged in July 2012. It is made with no dosage and is bone dry with a distinct minerality. Light yellow gold in color the wine has a lovely citrus perfume with hints of vanilla and spice and a faint hint of roasted nuts. Creamy and rounded with hints of citrus, vanilla, and roasted nuts there is also a distinct minerality that shows through and the finish is very clean and crisp. This is a very distinctive and appealing sparkling wine that is great with a wide variety of foods –  Highly Recommended.    2-yellow-stars  $17.99  A K&L Wines Selection Imported by Premier Wine Company Richmond, CA.

Red Wines

California

For red wines as well as whites, Tablas Creek Vineyard and Toad Hollow Vineyard consistently make really good wines. For proprietary red wine blends Tablas Creek makes Côtes de Tablas and Toad Hollow Vineyards makes Eric’s The Red. The two latest releases are representative of the distinctive style of each wine.

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2011 Tablas Creek Vineyard Côtes de Tablas Paso Robles.
This wine is made from four estate Rhone varietals and is composed of 49% Grenache, 28% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre, and 8% Counoise. Tasted over a period of 10 days the wine really benefits from air. It will be at its best with some bottle age, but to drink now the wine really should be decanted. It has a deep color and a lovely perfume that shows berry and plum spice tinged fruit intermingled with a faint floral, herbal nuance; and, on the palate, there is a myriad of fruits with a faintly smoky spicy complexity. Balanced with depth and richness the tannins need some time to be fully resolved, but this wine should be outstanding over time – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars    $30

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2011 Toad Hollow Vineyards Eric’s The Red California.
This wine is named for the famous Norseman, Eric the Red, and Eric Thorson of Toad Hollow. It is made from five different California vineyards. Zinfandel and Petite Syrah are from vineyards in Lodi, Syrah and Malbec come from cool climate Central Coast vineyards, and Dolcetto comes from Mendocino. With a deep color the wine has a stunning floral perfume with berries and plums tinged with spice and vanilla. Loaded with fruit, it is supple and rounded, yet with a nice underlying structure. This is a seriously fruity, flavorful, and delicious wine with a nice faintly exotic spice complexity. The combination of grapes here is superb and the wine is a great example of the type of wine that can be made from careful blending.  And, yes, it is also a great value. This is a wine to be enjoyed now or over several years – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars   $14.99    Best Buy

France
Like the white wines, France has many small producer red wines from well known areas such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Loire Valley, and the Rhone Valley as well as other lesser known areas. This selection represents relatively unknown wines from the well known areas listed above as well as some terrific wines from the largest wine region in France.  These wines are priced from $15-$37.

Chateau Couronneau
The 2011 Chateau Couronneau Blanc is outstanding as are these two terrific 2010 red wines. The nearly 100 acre estate is planted about 90% to red wine grapes with the great majority being Merlot. These two wines are great values in red wine and especially in the context of 2010 Bordeaux. The Cuvée Pierre de Cartier is a bit richer, but also a bit more tannic and will repay aging. The regular cuvée is softer and delicious now, although it will certainly keep. Both are outstanding.

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2010 Chateau Couronneau Rouge Bordeaux Superieur.
With a deep color this wine has gorgeous perfume showing berry fruit and cedar with a faint floral spice undertone. It has lots of very pure blackberry and plum fruit with cedar and spice notes and is balanced with depth and richness. The tannins are soft and very well integrated. With air the wine opens noticeably. Tasted over a week it continued to improve. This Bordeaux is enjoyable now and will evolve beautifully over several years – Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars    $15.98   Best Buy   Shipped by Jeanne-Marie De Champs Beaune, FR and Imported by Wine House Limited San Francisco, CA

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2010 Chateau Couronneau Rouge Cuvée Pierre de Cartier Bordeaux Superieur.
This wine is a real sleeper. It is a large scaled Merlot based Bordeaux that will benefit from additional bottle age. The color is dark and the wine has a deep perfume of plums and cassis with cedar and spice nuances. It has lots of  plum and blackberry fruit with floral and cedar accents. Full and rich the wine has backbone and tannins that are noticeably present. Over a period of several days the wine did soften, but it really needs a bit more age – Outstanding. 3-yellow-stars  $19.98      Best Buy   Shipped by Jeanne-Marie De Champs Beaune, FR and Imported by Wine House Limited San Francisco, CA

2010 Sylvain Langoureau Hauts-Côtes-de-Beaune Clos Marc. 
With just 12% alcohol this wine in light and bright. It drinks like a white wine but with red fruit. With a deep color the wine has a lovely berry perfume with floral spice nuances. On the palate it shows lovely crisp and very pure raspberry and cranberry fruit flavors with a bright crispness on the finish. This is a terrific red wine that lends itself to light foods. I can recommend a lovely beet salad with this wine at cellar temperature as a wonderful match on a warm day – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars     $19.99     Shipped by Jeanne-Marie De Champs Beaune, FR and Imported by Wine House Limited San Francisco, CA

2010 Francine et Olivier Savary Bourgogne Rouge Epineuil.      
This wine has a nice color and a lovely floral, herbal, raspberry tinged perfume. It is light and crisp with hints of raspberry fruit and a faint floral undertone and is tasty and very easy to drink – Highly Recommended.    2-yellow-stars $19.95    Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA.

2011 Domaine La Cadette Bourgogne Rouge l’Ermitage. 
With a very nice color this wine has a lovely floral perfume with hints of cherry fruit. Bright and crisp with pure cherry fruit it is very finesseful and has a lot of charm and early appeal – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars    $29     Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA.

Corbières
The Languedoc – Roussillon region in southern France covers some 700,000 acres and is the largest wine producing area in the world. Within this area Corbières is the largest appellation and is responsible for nearly 50% of the region’s wine production with red wine accounting for almost 95% of the total. With a very long history of wine production, there is a wide variance in the type and quality of the wines produced here. In recent years there has been an increasing focus on the highest quality wines. These can be very good relative values.

Maxime Magnon
Maxime Magnon is a young Burgundian who purchased some prime parcels of old vines from abandoned plots and rents his cellar. He began in 2002 and now farms nine parcels totaling just under 30 acres located in the sub-appellation Hautes Corbières. Most of the land is composed of schist and limestone subsoils with virtually no top soil.

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2011 Maxime Magnon Corbières Rouge Rozeta. 
This wine is made from grapes grown in Carignan vineyards that are dispersed with numerous varietals of older vines, namely Grenache Gris, Macabou, and Terret, which are all picked and fermented together in a field blend. Dark in color this wine has a lovely perfume of cherries and berries showing complex floral nuances with underlying spice and cedar. On the palate, it has a floral character with very pure cherry and berry fruit accented by cedar and spice. Beautifully balanced, this Corbières has a lovely suppleness and impressive richness – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars   $29    Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA

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2011 Maxime Magnon Corbières Rouge Campagnès.
This wine is made from Carignan grapes grown in a single 100 year old vineyard. It has a deep color and a gorgeous perfume with floral berry fruit accented by spice and a very faint earthiness. On the palate the wine has very pure fruit with cherries and berries accented by cedar and spice. Supple and rich this Corbières is a real powerhouse yet with balance and a lot of charm. It should age beautifully for an extended period – Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars  $37   Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA

Loire Valley
This area is most noted for its white wines, but there are many lovely red wines made here that are less known. Mainly based on Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc depending on where the grapes are grown, there are many terrific Loire Valley red wines that also represent great value.

2010 Domaine Corbilliéres Touraine Les Demoiselles.
This is a lovely supple wine that has a lot of charm and finesse. With a deep color it has ha lovely floral, berry perfume. It is balanced with very nice berry fruit showing just a tinge of spice and a nice crispness on the finish – Highly Recommended. 2-yellow-stars    $14.99  Imported by Robert Kacher Selections New York, NY

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2005 Jean-François Merieau Touraine Rouge Alliance des Generations.
This is a unique wine that is Cabernet Franc blended with 20% of the local version of Malbec called Côt. Dark in color it has a deep perfume of plum and blackberry with just a touch of spice. On the palate there is a lot of plum fruit intermingled with blackberry and a touch of spice and smokiness. The wine is very flavorful and firmly structured with balanced underlying tannins. It opens with air and will benefit from some bottle age, although with decanting it is very enjoyable now – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars   $21.99    Best Buy    Imported by John David Hendrick Selections Asheville, NC

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2010 Domaine Gueneau Sancerre Rouge Les Clos Chartier. 
This is a gorgeous wine with 12.5% alcohol that is really delicious. With a nice color the floral perfume is stunning with strawberry and cherry fruit accented by a very faint tinge of spice. Floral and strawberry notes carry through on the palate and the wine is very pure and beautifully balanced. This is a wonderful example of Pinot Noir that is elegant and finesseful. It has a lot of early appeal and is oh so easy to drink – Outstanding.       3-yellow-stars $19.99  Best Buy   A K&L Wines Selection imported by Premier Wine Company Richmond, CA

2009 Daniel Chotard Sancerre Rouge Chant de l’Archer.
This Pinot Noir has character as well as depth and structure. It has a deep color and a lovely cherry perfume tinged with spice and a very faint smokiness. The wine has lots of fruit with floral nuances and a faint spiciness and is flavorful and well balanced. It opens with air and should benefit from a bit more bottle age – Highly Recommended Plus.   2-n-half-yellow-stars      $35   Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA

Domaine Chanteluserie
This domaine is in the heart of the Touraine with a name that means “place where the larks sing”. Thierry Boucard and his wife, Christine, represent the seventh generation here. The wines are made from 100% Cabernet Franc which is known locally as “Breton”. There are several amazing things about the Domaine Chanteluserie wines. First, they are delicious young. Second, some are capable of aging for decades. And, third, they are great values.

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2010 Domaine Chanteluserie Bourgueil Cuvée Alouettes. 
Alouettes is French for larks and alludes to the name of the domaine. This Cuvée is made to be consumed young. It has a dark color with a lovely floral perfume showing just a tinge of spice. Rounded and supple with lots of fruit the wine has balanced tannins and is delicious to drink now and over the next few years  – Highly Recommended.     2-yellow-stars  $16   Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA

2010 Domaine Chanteluserie Bourgueil Cuvee Beauvais.
This Cuvée is made from grapes grown on a prime hillside vineyard that is over 40 years old. Dark in color the wine has a lovely floral perfume with a tinge of spice and a faint exotic nuance. It is loaded with spice tinged berry fruit showing an exotic nuance and a faint floral undertone. Balanced and lush with a nice underlying crispness this wine has lots of depth and can be enjoyed now or kept for decades – Outstanding.     3-yellow-stars     $17.95    Best Buy    Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA

2009 Santa Duc Côtes du Rhone Vielles Vignes.
This is a lovely Côtes du Rhone with depth and richness. It has a deep color and a floral tinged berry perfume with a faint exotic tinge. With lots of supple fruit showing just a tinge of spice and cedar the wine is balanced with a nice tinge of crispness on the finish – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars     $14.99     Imported by Robert Kacher Selections New York, NY

Côtes du Vivarais
This area in the northern part of the Southern Rhône Valley was just awarded an appellation in 1999. The hills of the Côtes du Vivaris mirror those of the Côtes-du-Rhone on the other side of the river, but the climate here is cooler and wetter. Alain Gallety began making wine in the Côtes du Vivaris with his father. They built a winery into the hillside below their high altitude vineyards. The vineyards have been farmed organically since the 1980s and now total some 35 acres planted equally to Grenache and Syrah with an average age of 40 years.

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2009 Domaine Gallety Côtes du Vivarais Rouge.  
Dark in color this wine has a complex perfume with hints of earth and spice accenting the blackberry fruit. Loaded with blackberry fruit tinged with spice and a faint smokiness, it is full, rich, and rounded with a firm underlying structure and balanced tannins. The wine benefits greatly from air and should evolve beautifully over a long period of time – Outstanding.    3-yellow-stars   $32   Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA

Italy
With its long history of wine making Italy has many small producers of relatively unknown wines. Here are notes on two as well as a terrific dry Lambrusco that will change many preconceived notions.

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2011 Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco Secco Monovitigno.
Founded in the 1990s, Fattoria Moretto is located in the hills of Castelvetro near Modena.
The vineyards are planted to the local grape Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro. But, this is not your father’s Lambrusco. It is something much more serious. And, given its proximity to the Ferrari factory, you might say that this is a sexy wine with a real pedigree!
This Lambrusco is made from vines that are over fourty years of age. Dark in color with a purple hue the wine has a stunning floral tinged blackberry perfume. Brimming with very pure blackberry fruit it is lush and supple with a faint effervescence and is beautifully balanced with a nice zestiness on the finish. Low in alcohol(12%), this Lambrusco is, in a word, delicious and, served with a slight chill, it is irresistible – Outstanding.  3-yellow-stars   $24    Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA

NV Tenuta La Pergola Vino Rosso Il Goccetto Blended by Kermit Lynch. 
This wine was blended by the importer, Kermit Lynch, from 50% Croatina and 50% Brachetto grown in the Monteferrato Rosso appellation and made at Tenuta La Pergola. All the fruit comes from the 2011 vintage but Vino Rosso cannot take a vintage date because it does not have a regional specificity. And, the wine is declassified to Vino Rosso because of the unique blend and character. “Il Goccetto” is Italian for “A little nip.” And, quite a “little nip” it is!
With a deep color the wine has a lovely floral perfume with hints of plum and a touch of spice. Rounded and supple it has lots of plummy fruit with spice and cedar nuances and is beautifully balanced with a nice underlying crispness. A wine with an unusual background for sure, but drinking it is nothing but pure pleasure as it even exhibits an almost Burgundian character. And, it’s also a great bargain – Highly Recommended.    2-yellow-stars      $9.95   Best Buy   Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA

2011 Château Feuillet Valle d’Aosta Torrette.     
This wine is made from 90% Petit Rouge and 10% Mayolet grapes grown in Northwest Italy. It has a deep color and a nice perfume that shows a faint briary quality intermingled with blackberry and floral nuances and a tinge of black pepper. Rounded with plumy fruit the wine also has a peppery quality and a nice zestiness. It is unusual, but attractive and quite tasty – Recommended Plus. 1-n-half-yellow-stars     $24     Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Berkeley, CA

Spain
Spanish red wines in general, and particularly those from the Rioja, represent some of the best red wine values being made anywhere in the world today. Here are notes on wines from recent vintages as well as some older vintages. One of the greatest things about Spanish red wines is that most producers keep a stock of old wines. And, as a bonus the wines also represent really good value.

2008 Bodegas Puelles Crianza Rioja.
Produced primarily from estate fruit (Tempranillo with a small amount of Garnacha and Graciano) this wine has a deep color and a lovely perfume with berry fruit intermingled with cedar and spice. The fruit is very pure and bright with hints of cedar and the wine is beautifully balanced. This is a wine with a lot of youthful appeal that should also age very well – Highly Recommended Plus. 2-n-half-yellow-stars      $15.99    A K&L Wines Selection imported by Premier Wine Company Richmond, CA

Marques de Legarda
Marques de Legarda is the trade name of Bodegas de la Real Divisa which is the oldest bodega in Rioja with a history of wine growing dating back to the 14th century! Located in Abalos there are 75 acres of vineyards planted primarily to Tempranillo with some Graciano and Mazuelo.

2008 Marques de Legarda Crianza Rioja.
This wine has a deep color with a faint amber edge and lovely cedar tinged perfume with hints of cassis. It has nice cedar tinged fruit and is refined with subtle flavors and very nice balance. This is a wine to enjoy now or keep for a few years – Highly Recommended.  2-yellow-stars  $14.99   A K&L Wines Selection imported by Premier Wine Company Richmond, CA

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2001 Marques de Legarda Gran Reserva Rioja.
This wine was aged for 37 months primarily in used American oak with about 30% new French oak. It has a deep amber tinged color and a gorgeous spicy cedary perfume with floral undertones. On the palate there is lovely supple fruit with cedary notes and the wine is velvety and elegant with lots of flavor and beautiful balance. This is drinking really well now, but it should age for 10-20 more years – Outstanding Plus.3-n-half-yellow-stars     $29.99     Best Buy   A K&L Wines Selection imported by Premier Wine Company Richmond, CA

Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos
This small family bodega located in Laguardia. All the grapes are hand harvested and vinified with native yeast.

2011 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Cuarteto Rioja.
This wine is made using whole cluster fermentation and the wine never sees oak. It has a nice color and a subtle berry perfume with a hint of earthiness. Zesty with crisp berry fruit, this is a wine for near term consumption – Recommended Plus.  1-n-half-yellow-stars    $9.99  A K&L Wines Selection imported by Premier Wine Company Richmond, CA

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2006 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Crianza Rioja.
This wine is produced from 85% Tempranillo and 15% Manzuelo. It has a deep color and a gorgeous perfume of plums, cedar, and vanilla with a faint exotic tinge. Elegant and supple with lots of fruit tinged with spice, cedar, and vanilla, the wine is flavor and beautifully balanced with a nice underlying crispness – Outstanding.   3-yellow-stars  $12.99   Best Buy    A K&L Wines Selection imported by Premier Wine Company Richmond, CA

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2005 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Reserva Rioja.
This wine is produced from 85% Tempranillo and 15% Manzuelo. It is a barrel selection of wines that are aged longer. It was aged 27 months in barrel, then more than a year in concrete vats, and then bottled and released for sale when it is deemed ready. This 2005 has a deep color with a faint amber edge and a gorgeous plummy perfume with floral notes and tinges of spice and cedar. It has depth and richness with lots of cedar tinged fuit and is well structured with soft underlying tannins. This is a wine that drinks well now, but will be even better with time and should be around for decades – Outstanding Plus.   3-n-half-yellow-stars     $19.99      Best Buy    A K&L Wines Selection imported by Premier Wine Company Richmond, CA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 comments for “UNDER THE RADAR AND VALUE PRICED WHITE WINES, SPARKLING WINES, AND RED WINES FOR SPRING”

  1. Although, like you, I love the Roulot Aligote, it is extremely hard to find, and often allocated. There are other producers, including Charles Ballot of Ballot-Millot, who grow and produce this grape, and are less impossible to find…

    Posted by Keith Wollenberg | May 8, 2013, 9:52 am
  2. Thanks Keith. I know the Aligotés from Ramonet and Ponsot as well, but not Ballot-Millot. I have done several articles on Ballot-Millot, but have never seen the Ballot-Millot Aligoté. If you stock it, please send me a bottle. Thanks! By the way the Aligoté from A&P Villaine is really nice as is the one from Calera. I have also written about both of these. I am an Aligoté fan!
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | May 11, 2013, 10:34 am
  3. I’ll be pleased to send you one of Charles Ballot’s Aligotes, John.

    i knoew you liked his wines, as do I.

    Cheers,

    -Keith

    Posted by keith wollenberg | May 13, 2013, 3:05 pm
  4. Thanks Keith. I’ll look forward to trying it!
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | May 21, 2013, 5:39 pm

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