Prices are the retail price at the tasting venue, our local ABC store, unless otherwise noted. This time, I focused mostly on trying unusual varietals, as well as a slight emphasis on Pinot Noir, a varietal I’ve found to be hit-or-miss. Come to think of it, a good exercise would be to try nothing BUT one varietal. Anyhow, I tasted 24 wines and have 8 recommendations, below:
Acacia, 2009 Pinot Noir, Napa Valley-Carneros, CA. Available online for as little as $16.95. 14.4%. This is a smooth, well-balanced wine with just a hint of spice. NOTE: Acacia makes another less expensive Pinot Noir; the label looks different, with a large “A” on it. They also make a higher-end Pinot Noir that was rated 93 by Wine Spectator. The label pictured with this post is identical to the type we tried and recommend, except for the vintage (2007 pictured, 2009 tried). www.AcaciaVineyard.com.
Cline, 2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, CA. $14.99. 14%. A delicious, lush wine with no rough edges. Mouth-filling and smooth; take the time to chew it. www.ClineCellars.com. (Oddly, their Web site doesn’t feature this wine at all, but we think it’s excellent.)
Cline, 2010 Viognier, Sonoma Coast, CA, $10.00. 14.5%. Lovely floral and fruit nose; rich flavor; full-bodied, silky mouth-feel. A nice alternative to Chardonnay. www.ClineCellars.com.
Movendo (Riunite/Banfi) Moscato, NV, Puglia, Italy, $6.99. This one was interesting! It had a lovely floral nose, was a little sweet but not cloying at all, and was frizzante (lightly sparkling). A friendly alternative to Brut or Champagne. www.banfivintners.com.
Ramon Bilbao, 2007 Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain, $16.99. 14%. Aged in new French and American oak for 15 months. Full-bodied, rich, versatile, and delicious. www.BodegasRamonBilbao.es.
Rodney Strong, 2007 Merlot, Sonoma County, CA, $13.99. Rich, mouth-filling; fruity, yet aged in small oak barrels for a toasty, soft vanilla character; long, creamy finish. www.RodneyStrong.com.
Rodney Strong, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, CA, $18.99. 14.5%. Bold fruit, rich and mouth-filling texture, aged in oak barrels for 18.5 months. www.RodneyStrong.com.
Sterling, 2009 Vintner’s Collection Meritage, $7.50. This was my favorite wine of the evening, and also among the least expensive. It’s a beautiful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (66%), Merlot (24%), Malbec (7%), and Petit Verdot (3%). This delicious wine started well with an intense, fruity nose. It’s full-bodied, mouth-filling, chewy, and juicy, with impressions of cedar, chocolate, oak, and vanilla. www.SterlingVineyards.com.