Best Buy Big Reds #1 Summer ’13

Because I can’t think about crisp summer wines without imagining a big hefty red with some of my evenings!

Casa Lapostolle’s Clos Apalta ’08 or ’09

(Heck, any well priced vintage will be fabulous)

Clos Apalta from the Colchagua Valley, is always one of Chile (and the world’s) top wines. The 2008 was fantastic, but Wine Spectator was one of the rare pubs that gave it a lower score for ‘08 than ‘09, and the ‘08 now becomes an outstanding buy! Seek it out!!

It’s really got all the complexity a lover of big wine looks for. Think of the ’08 Clos Apalta as Heitz Martha’s Vineyard on steroids. Yet it’s beautifully crafted with elegance, layers of flavor, deep lush and incredibly intricate.

’08 Wine Enthusiast : 95 points and ‘Top 100 Wine of 2012 (#49), “[$90 list] Clos Apalta, depending on your point of view, is arguably Chile’s best wine. And this vintage is outstanding! Earth, minty spice, ripe berry, minerality and smoky aromas cover the bases. It’s superbly structured, with a fine texture and depth. Tastes lush and complex, with blackberry, crème de cassis, fine herbs and tobacco. Finishes classy. Drink now through 2016. Alcohol 14.2%. (Feb 2012)”

’08 Wine Spectator  92 points: “[$90 list] Fine-tuned and expressive, yet focused, this red has terrific display of dark, racy blackberry, boysenberry and braised fig flavors finely woven with spice, mesquite and cured olive hints. Silky tannins frame the long finish, with an aftertaste of fruit and mocha. Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2017. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. (2/29/12)”

’08 -Woodland Hills Wine Co., LA $69.95

’08- Zachy’s NY $70

Abeja 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (their 10th Vintage Release)

Abeja is always one of my favorite American reds, making insanely good Merlot (which teaches Cab lovers not to sneer at great Merlot) and their standard bearing Cabernet Sauvignon. John Abbot is the man behind Abeja, and he is the man who made Canoe Ridge famous before this. Abeja is also an annual Best Buy, until it is reviewed, at which point it all sells out. For the cool 2010 harvest, ALL his best fruit went into this bottling…there was no Reserve Bottling.

The 2010 is truly unique, so seek it out before the reviews hit.

“The first aromas hit you with blackcurrant and blackberry, earthy notes of good clean soil, and barrel notes of smoke and oreo. When you get to the mid-palate, you’ll find it plump and pretty, with more dark fruit and minerals, cassis liqueur and dark chocolate shavings, and finishing with dry, ripe tannins that show mocha and English Breakfast tea.”

As is the norm with Abeja, the mouthfeel is transcendent. This is a silky wine that backs up the fruit with just enough tannin and acid to package it beautifully.

Right now:

Woodland Hills Wine Co., LA $41.95

K&L, CA $44.95

Under $20…Best Buy

Do words like rich ripe fruit, tobacco, concentrated, cigar box, massive black berry fruit describe other wines you crave?

Then just look to the port houses for their blends, and pony up the money for the straight varietal bottling if you can afford the extra tab.

Companhia das Quintas 2009 Quinta da

Fronteira Selecção do Enólogo (Douro).

This is a blockbuster red. “Huge and rich, this offers ripe black fruits and a con­centrated structure. It’s packed with a seemingly sweet blackberry flavor that serves as a counterpoint to the firm texture. With both density and a dark edge, this will age over several years.”

$19.99 Total Wine in Phoenix, LA etc…

If you’re in NYC, just suck it up and race to Zachy’s, where they have a smoking deal on the insanely good:

Quinta do Vallado Touriga Nacional Douro 2009…WS 95pts, #13 of the Wine Spectator Top 100, at Zachy’s for only $41.95.

Summer Whites #1

Some Great buys in Summer Whites, with a few sneaking over here from Greece!

2012 Ken Forrester Petit Chenin, Stellenbosch

Ken is trying to provide maximum jobs in his community-which needs them, and still maintain a commitment to farming sustainably, while pruning and harvesting by hand. The result is some pretty great Chenin Blanc, and the Petite is a terrific summer quaffer and a great introduction to Chenin. Picked early, and bottled younger, it displays its crisp, fresh quince and pear drop flavors. Earlier picked freshness shows on the palate with crunchy green apple and grapefruit. Good mouth-feel and appetizingly tangy finish in this fresh and fruity style.

Sherry-Lehmann, NY $9.95

Wine House, LA $9.99

Sauvignon Blanc:

2012 Honig, Napa Sauvignon Blanc

Just classic easy drinking California Sauvignon Blanc. Fresh, zippy flavors with bright citrus, cut grass and dried herbs in the aromas and flavors, and a crisp aftertaste.

K&L $14.95

$14.95-$17 everywhere

 2010 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

Definitive New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with nothing held back. A wonderful balance of brash lime, herb and tropical notes with melon and passionfruit.

(sugg. $18…but shop around and get it for $12)

Most Costco-$12-13…hard to beat for price and quality.

Pinot Grigio…Why?

The good ones are expensive, the inexpensive can be bad. Try looking further afield…how about Greece? I love Kir Yanni’s whites, but the best bottlings are made in tiny amounts and stay in Greece. These whites from the Island of Santorini are subtler than Sauvignons, yet full of interest and complexity

Santorini Whites:

2011 Estate Argyros, Assyrtiko

It’s entirely from the “assyrtiko” grape, and crafted in 100% stainless steel tanks to maximize its clean zestiness. Yet it’s not a fruity wine, but full of savory flavors.

Hi-Time, Costa Mesa $22.95

Traino’s, NJ $19.99

2011 Estate Argyros, “Atlantis” White Blend

Made mostly from the Assyrtiko grape, this crisp, citrusy blend includes the obscure Aidani grape and gets a floral hint from the inclusion of Athiri.

Chelsea Wine Vault, NY $15.99

K&L, CA $15.99

2011 Sigalas, Assyrtiko-Athiri

This Santorini wine is reminiscent of the sea and perfect with briny oysters and the like. Lots of savory flavors and herb notes to accompany a seafood lunch.

Sherry-Lehmann, NY $17.95

Lincoln Fine Wines, Venice CA $16.99

Phoenix Wine of Scottsdale $16.00

2012 Sigalas, Assyrtiko

Young, but may become the best of this group if you are willing to give it a little cellar time. Dense yet not heavy, this tangy 100% Assyrtiko is pleasingly savory with a lemon-zest zing and chalky minerality.

Sherry-Lehmann, NY $22.95

K&L $20.99

Total Wine, $23.99

Coming up:

Rose, Txacoli, Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Albarino, Malvasia, Gavi, un-oaked Chardonnay, and don’t forget Soave, still inexpensive, now it’s good and a fabulous bargain. …next emails