February Wine Reviews!

Greetings!
First newsletter of 2017 – hope you find some interesting wines and good values to keep warm through the winter months.
Best regards,
Jack Brice

Bedouet Vigneron Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie 2015
$8.99
Loire Valley, France
PLCB Code# 78511

Nice straw colour with green hues. Some green fruit character with some musky scents, notes of grass and a hint of sweet lemon pie. Light bodied with a crisp acidity and a lemon-salty palate-cleansing finish.
Winemaker’s Notes

Apple skin and sea salt. Crisp and refreshing. Great with raw oysters.
Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program

Muscadet wine hails from the most western Loire Valley near to the cool French/Atlantic coastline. Many tasters suggest the sea air appears in Muscadet flavors – and even more people suggest the light crisp wines of Muscadet are the perfect accompaniment for oysters (given the same geographical location, it makes sense!). I tasted this wine without oysters but I imagine the combination would work nicely.

This Bedouet Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, as the name implies (and by French regulation) must have spent the winter ‘sur lie’ (in contact with lees) which imparts complexity and body to this extremely dry white wine.  Along with light, almost spritzy and dry characteristics of the wine, there are flavors of green apple, grass and lemon with a pleasingly tart finish. For this price, the wine is a great bargain as the fresh crisp wine will happily accompany lighter fare. HINT: avoid Muscadet wines older than 2-3 years (Muscadet is intended to be drunk young).
88 Points Jack Brice

 

Firriato Jasmin Zibibbo Terre Siciliane 2015
Sicily, Italy
$11.99
PLCB Code#  78457

Floral and elegant, this wine has citrus fruits enveloped by scents of Jasmin and Mediterranean maquis. The palate is fragrant and sapid, wide and harmonic. Persuasive fruit with a range of citrus fruits from yellow to red.
Winemaker’s notes

An exotic white filled with floral, Jasmin hints of ginger with wonderful glass-filling perfumed aromas. Try it with bay scallops.
Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program

“It tastes like a young Sophia Loren on a summer date with a handsome man but not necessarily her husband.”
Lisa C.  2/17

Last year I was fortunate to visit Sicily with a stop at Firriato’s stunning Etna winery to learn about their estate and taste some wines (with a constant view of the mildly erupting Mount Etna volcano). I was impressed with their commitment to indigenous grapes and precise wine making – I hope more and more of their wines become available in the United States!

The 2015 “Jasmine” white is an aromatic white produced from Sicilian Zibibbo grapes. Many other parts of the wine world might recognize this grape as a member of the (very large and far reaching) Muscat grape family. While other parts of the world use Muscat grapes for dessert and sweet wines, this offering is a slightly off-dry table wine. Color is bright, light yellow, while the nose is immediately aromatic and floral (possibly the reason for the “Jasmine” name) with distinct sweetness. On the palate, sweetness is far less impacting, with dominant floral and citrus notes over top of peach leading to a stone fruit-ish finish. This wine needs no food and will be pleasing for afternoon sipping by the pool or intense book club discussions.
90 Points Jack Brice  

 

Brancott Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough, New Zealand 2015
$13.99  
PLCB Code# 7245

Fragrant and juicy, with apple blossom, lime zest and chive blossom notes surrounding a core of intense and refreshing lemon and grapefruit flavors.
90 Points Wine Spectator

Color is clear straw, nose displays immediate grassy aromas with citrus underneath. Super fresh lemon flavors with grapefruit tinge near the finish. Very clean and refreshing.   Yet another tasty Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, although – thankfully – a lighter style that doesn’t cause any face-puckering (like many Marlborough SBs of the past). This wine is widely available and deserves consideration for its pleasingly fresh, clean flavors.
89 Points Jack Brice

 

Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Margaret River 2015
$15.99
Margaret River, Australia

PLCB Code# 73121

Named one of the Top 100 White & Sparkling Wines of 2016, the 2015 Cape Mentelle is a blend of 52% Sauvignon Blanc and 48% Semillon. The vibrant, aromatic blend produces a distinctive wine that accentuates both grape varietals. Fresh, intense blended white with aromas of citrus blossom, lime, honeydew melon. Light color; young and fresh with pithy acidity and mineral character balanced by rich fruit flavors of limes, passion fruit and pink grapefruit. Deliciously juicy with a bright, elegant, well balanced palate and a creamy texture. Long finish.
92 Points TheWineFront

Australians like to truncate, so this Suavignon Blanc-Semillon wine often  is called simply “SBS”.  This “SBS” is tasty – with light straw color – lime citrus nose – intense lemon lime melon flavors – full soft mouth feel – and lovely balanced acidity that dances over the palate through to a light mineral/pith finish that persists.  Don’t miss this SBS!
92 Points Jack Brice

 

Duc de Raybaud Chardonnay Brut Blanc de Blancs NV
$7.99
France
PLCB Code# 78437

A beautiful, bright, pale yellow in color. It has a pleasant and complex nose with delicate floral aromas, complemented by a discreet touch of oak. This wine is very refreshing to the palate and characterized by a good persistence. It’s an elegant wine that surrenders a fine, regular foam.
Winemaker’s notes

Citrus and sweet lemon and lime. Toasty and clean. Very good sparkler!
Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program

From Southern France where sunshine is plentiful, this wine is made by a Provencal family with three generations of experience. Made in a dry, brut style, the bubbly shows slight grapey character and smooth, dry ‘foxy citrus’ flavors that provide this sparkler with a more interesting profile than typical inexpensive “manufactured bubbly” – all at a highly approachable price.  Be sure to purchase this by the case and serve at your next big party. Your friends will appreciate the French bubbly you provide and imagine you paid more for it!   A wine professional friend of mine suggested this Raybaud is “far better than Barefoot Brut” that sells for $12.99.
86 Points Jack Brice

 

Les Vignes de Bila Haut Cotes du Roussillon Villages Rouge 2015
$12.99
Rhone, France
PLCB Code# 99395

While the entry level wine from this estate, the quality here is incredible, especially at the price point. Made from 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Carignan from a mix of the estate’s terroirs, aged in concrete tanks and stainless steel, it offers a rich, concentrated and serious feel to go with fabulously pure notes of blackberries, black raspberries, crushed rock and melted licorice. Thick, unctuous and luxuriously textured, this will certainly be the greatest vintage of this cuvee to date.”
91-93 Points, Wine Advocate 4/16

As a note, the previous vintage to this, 2014 Bila Haut, was #51 in Wine Spectator’s top 100. I feel 2015 is as good a vintage as 2014 so we will likely see good value here!Opaque purple in the glass – aromas of blackberries and savory herbs, the mouth feel is significantly dense and smooth, especially for an inexpensive French wine, but not surprising from the warm Roussillon region in Southern France.  Flavors blossom on the palate, dominated by sweet black raspberries with an undercurrent of olive, lavender, and savory notes with a rich, smooth finish.  Keep it a few years if you like, but great to drink today. Flavors suggest a more expensive Rhone red.  This vintage is a fantastic value!
92 Points Jack Brice

 

Description: Bodegas Muriel Fincas de la Villa Rioja Reserva 2011
$12.99
Rioja, Spain
PLCB Code# 78406

Pretty fruit flavors of strawberry and raspberry mingle with vanilla, spice and light herbal notes in this alluring red. The tannins are light but firm, while citrusy acidity keeps this fresh through the vanilla-scented finish. Drink now through 2021.
90 Points Wine Spectator, 5/16

Baked, rooty aromas of sandalwood, exotic spices and berry fruits are attractive. Though slightly grabby on the palate, this shows the right structure and build. Flavors of up-front oak, herbal plum and raspberry finish dry, with firm, pinching tannins. Drink through 2021.
90 Points Wine Enthusiast, 8/16

Spice and floral aromas accompanying a light to medium weight and nicely smooth mouth feel.  Flavors of raspberry and vanilla sit above significant but not overpowering tannins, finishes with return of vanilla and bright freshness.  Solid value, very nice, easy drinking, medium bodied red.
90 Points Jack Brice

 

 

Vidal Fleury Rouge Cotes du Rhone 2013
$14.99
Southern Rhone, France
PLCB Code# 7671

Enjoys a deep nose with white pepper, graphite notes and bright red fruits. The palate is powerful and intense with black cherry and dark, muscular berry fruit, crisp acid and some neat, grippy, slightly salted tannins. The finish is long with berries and spice.
95 Points Decanter Magazine 1/17

Founded in 1781 and continuously operating since, Vidal-Fluery has countless vintages and hundreds of years experience to back up their wine-maker Guy Sarton du Jonchay, who brings global new-world experience to the historic producer. These elements conspire to encourage consistent wine-making in each new vintage.The 2013 Cotes du Rhone is dark red in the glass, with subtle red fruit and metallic aromas. Red Cotes du Rhone often shows rustic flavor elements and here is no exception with medium-bodied mouth feel carrying pure red fruit flavors backed up with dried spices/cherries and noticeable tannin followed by juicy, peppery grip at the finish.  A fine traditional example of Cotes du Rhone to accompany sausages and grilled meats.
91 Points Jack Brice

 

 

 
Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2011
Tuscany, Italy
$24.99
PLCB Code# 44560

A rich, powerful style, this evokes black cherry, black currant, plum, leather and tar flavors. Balanced and ready to enjoy, with lingering accents of spice and tobacco. Drink now through 2023.
93 Points Wine Spectator 2016

The 2011 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva is made with 70% Sangiovese (Prugnolo Gentile) and 30% Canaiolo with other red grapes. The wine shows great authenticity with earthy tones, dried rose, black fruit, cola and balsam herb. This Vino Nobile Riserva reveals a velvety texture and evident tannins at the back. It should evolve over the next decade, but you can also drink it now.
90 Points Wine Advocate

Dark, almost savory in the nose, the wine is medium bodied, but its flavor intensity and texture suggests a bigger weight.   Chewy, intense red and black cherry flavors immediately impress with plum layers underpinned by leathery notes wrapped in serious but smooth tannins. Oak is apparent but not in the way.  Great wine and a good value at the price – why pay more for Brunello?
 91 Points Jack Brice

Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2013
$24.99
Alexander Valley, California
PLCB Code# 32553

Fresh classic aromas of blackcurrants, mineral sweet licorice and warm soil.  It is very mouthfilling, and has swagger and density.  It is packed with fruit and interesting Indian spice notes too.
93 Points (avg of scores from three reviewers: 95, 89, 95) Decanter Magazine 2/17

Outscored many 2013 Napa icons in Decanter Magazine panel review, and since many of them are well out of my price range, I get exited to see a $25 California wine with character and appeal. Dark violet color, blackberry nose – earthy but packed with sweet spicy fruit, medium to full texture and smooth all the way to the lifted tannin crackle finish.  Bottle age will help but is certainly enjoyable now (with breathing/decanting).  Probably too big for most dinner dishes but will impress friends while sipping along side strong cheeses.
92 points Jack Brice