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Winners for Dinner


Tom Gore in his vintage truck at Tom Gore Vineyards.

Tom Gore in his vintage truck at Tom Gore Vineyards.

Great Finds At All Prices

By Denman Moody author, The Advanced Oenophile

WHITE WINES

Tom Gore Vineyards Chardonnay California 2013 — “Great wines start in the vineyard.” Tom Gore has worked in the family vineyards from the time he learned to walk, working the harvest alongside favorable reception, burst onto the market with 75,000 cases each of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Chardonnay is a beauty with lovely tropical fruit flavors and a kiss of toasty oak and toffee. Under-priced. Over-delivered! $13.95

Charles Baur Vin d’Alsace Pinot Blanc 2012 — Elegant, with white flowers. Aged on the lees for 10 months. Should drink well for up to 10 years. Run by second and third generation winemakers Armand and Arnaud Baur, this is a delightful find. I don’t know Armand, but Arnaud’s knowledge and credentials are beyond impressive! $14.50

Benziger Family Winery Chardonnay Sonoma County 2013 — Implementing Certified Sustainable Farming methods, the result is an elegant offering with hints of peach and pear, accompanied by a full and refreshing finish. A Chardonnay with class and breed — and under-priced. $16

Landmark Overlook Chardonnay Sonoma County 2013 — Fermented in 100 percent French oak barrels with wild yeast, this is an artful blend of grapes from 21 vineyards, many of which have been under contract with Landmark for decades. On the palate, “…flavors of quince, pear blossom, apricot and pie crust…” Another harmonious offering from this consistently excellent value. About as good as it gets at this price point. $22

OTHER GREAT VALUES

Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc Regional Collection Marlborough 2014 — Clean and crisp. 12.5 percent alcohol. A steal at $13; Trinity Oaks Chardonnay California 2014 — The Trinchero family will plant a tree for every bottle purchased. Easy-drinking with or without food. $15; Alois Legeder Pinot Grigio 2013 and Chardonnay 2013 — Each a good find. From Alto Adige. Each $15; Charles Baur Vin d’Alsace Riesling Cuvée Charles 2013 — Crisp, dry, citrus with good acidity and minerality. $19; Migration Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2013 — Hard to believe, but even better than the 2012; Jordan Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2013 — Bright, elegant, peach, with balancing acidity/minerality. $35; Frank Family Chardonnay Carneros 2013 — Fresh tropical fruit, sweet vanilla and pear. $35

SPARKLING AND STILL (Rosé)

Valdo Vino Spumante Brut Rosé — A startling encounter for anyone expecting an Asti Spumante look-alike. Although labeled “Brut,” this wine tastes more like a “Natural,” with no discerned residual sugar, which in a Brut is generally in the 1 percent range. A great find for one looking for a truly dry, but titillating and juicy sparkler. Only 12 percent alcohol. $15

Lucien Albrecht Cremant D’Alsace Brut Rosé — Made in the strict Champagne Method with 100 percent Pinot Noir, this is a sparkler with fresh, rich strawberry flavors and impressive mouth feel, and is a perfect accompaniment to smoked salmon on a little toasty with crème fraiche, capers and a squirt of lemon. $21

J Brut Rosé Russian River Valley — A very successful blend of 66% Pinot Noir, 32 percent Chardonnay and 1 percent Pinot Meunier. All estate fruit. Pink salmon hue, intriguing bouquet and elegant raspberry flavors. Perfect with truffle mousse (paté). Also works well with chicken dishes. $38

Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone Rosé — a fabulous introductory wine to the Cotes-du-Rhone from M. Chapoutier. Deep pink in color, this pretty young lady dances across the palate sprinkling essence of raspberries and cherries as she goes. This pretty blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault is a perennial winner. $16

Prieuré de Montézargues Tavel 2014 — Once you stumble past the name, you will find an exciting, beautiful pink wine with “…lush, ample body, freshness and balance, with bright flavors of red berry fruit and ripe peaches.” Consistently at the top tier of rosé wines. A “must try.” $24

RED WINES

Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon California 2012 — Like his 2013 Chardonnay, over-delivering on quality. Black currants with tones of dark chocolate, this medium-bodied, fruit forward wine is aged for 16 months in French and American oak and would sell out at double the price. $13.95

Kim Crawford Pinot Noir South Island 2013 — From cool-climate vineyards in Marlborough, Central Otago and Nelson, this meticulously made wine was aged in a combination of new and old French oak for 8 months prior to bottling. Strawberries, cherries and spice. A great value. Try with a mushroom risotto! $14.99

Mark West Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands 2013 — Suddenly I find that in addition to its decent $10 California appellation Pinot Noir, this winery procduces some excellent higher-priced wines, which soar above the former. This one has dark cherries, excellent balancing acidity and a hint of forest floor/mush­­­rooms. The Russian River Valley appellation is just as good. Each only $20.

K Vintners Syrah Wahluke Slope Milbrandt Vineyard 2013 — The Milbrandt name pretty much assures quality grapes. Winemaker Charles Smith makes some huge Syrahs. Here is a big, winning red at a bargain price. Try with prime rib! $28

Canvasback Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2012 — In Duckhorn’s continuing, successful quest to be one of the best wineries on the planet, it has gone to the celebrated Red Mountain Vineyard in Washington State. It is surprising to me that there are still vines for lease or purchase in that unique location. This wine attains Duckhorn’s goal of a wine that expresses the depth, structure and sophistication of this exciting appellation. A tremendous first offering with perfectly ripe fruit, intensity and persistence. $45

Kaiken Mai Mendoza 2008 (current release) — “A perfect collaboration between climate, soil and the artistic skills of winemaker Aurelio Montes.” On the color and bouquet alone, I knew this was something special. Luscious in the mouth. Long, memorable finish. On par with the $100 single vineyard wines of Achaval Ferrer and Revana’s Corazón del Sol Soleando. Almost a perfect Malbec. $65

Palazzo Right Bank Red Wine Napa Valley 2009 (current release) — This beauty has been a success since introduced by Scott Palazzo in 2003. Mostly Merlot “power and strength, silky texture and beautiful layers of rich cherry and blackberry fruit,” Cabernet Franc which adds “brightness, acidity and floral notes” and a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon which contributes “earth and cocao/expresso bean to the finish,” this wine is a consistent winner. Scott is equally well-known for his over-the-top Cabernet Franc. $70

Kaiken winemaker Aurelio Montes Jr.

Kaiken winemaker Aurelio Montes Jr.

Brian Rudin, Canvasback winemaker.

Brian Rudin, Canvasback winemaker.

Greg Stach of Landmark Vineyards

Greg Stach of Landmark Vineyards

Mike Benziger of Benziger Family Winery.

Mike Benziger of Benziger Family Winery.

 

Winners for Dinner


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