Early Autumn Wines 2018 September Vol 3 Issue 2

Wines for early Autumn (where did the summer go?!?!)

Early Autumn brings pros and cons… on one hand we benefit from broad choices of beautiful fresh produce – on the other hand we must start carrying a jacket as we brace for the oncoming shift to cooler weather.

Fortunately plenty of good quality high-value wines are available to help us enjoy summer’s lingering moments.  After countless tastings (and a number of wines poured down the drain in disappointment), presented below are a number of interesting, characterful whites and several solid-value reds that will pair nicely with autumn vegetables and anything grilled!
I hope you enjoy the suggestions below!

Warm regards,
Jack Brice


Domaine Ste Michelle Brut Washington State NV
Price: $13.99 ($9.99 until Sept 30)    

Washngton State, USA
PLCB Code# 4550 (Widely Available, 11.5% ABV)

“Fresh and inviting, lithe and reticent, with pretty pear and spice flavors that finish with finesse. Top Value Pick.” 89 Points Wine Spectator

Why this is good value: Apple and pear flavors with slight grape and spice notes in the background – foremost feature is the strong grip and energetic effervescence followed by a clean finish. Nothing takes away from the apple and the bubbly grip. Fantastic value at this sale price (on sale until Sept 30) I plan to purchase a case or two and save for holiday parties! Great Value!
89 points Jack Brice


Aime Roquesante Rose Cotes de Provence 2017

Provence, France
PLCB Code# 73845 (Specialty Stores, 13% ABV)

“…With lots of strawberry, some tart citrus and nice touches of peach this is a light, refreshing drink. Good, bright acidity offsets all the fruit quite capably and a smooth and slightly creamy mouthfeel rounds things out. It ends dry with lingering tart fruit and just a hint of garrigue (dried herbs) on the finish…”  Overall rating 7/10  Reverse Wine Snob

Why this is good value: For absolutely traditional Provencal Rose, I really like the Aime Roquesante Rose Cotes de Provence 2017. From the heart and soul of rose country, this wine displays the expected light salmon color and delivers a dry (rose shouldn’t be sweet!), fruity sipper with slightly tart and super refreshing red berries, strawberry and watermelon flavors – everything Provencal Rose should be!  Drink soon before warm weather abandons us.
88 Points Jack Brice 


Planeta Etna Bianco DOC 2016

Mount Etna Sicily, Italy
PLCB Code# 74745 (Only in Specialty Stores, 13%ABV)

“Radiant and refined, this white opens on aromas of Spanish broom, white flowers and Mediterranean brush. It is savory and racy, offering apple, pear and orange flavors alongside bright acidity. A salty mineral note lingers on the finish..” 92 Points Wine Enthusiast, February 2018

Why this is good value:  What an interesting wine!  Loads of character here, but none of it overdone.  Bright and vibrant with flavors of stone fruits mixed with lime across the top and undercurrents of savory minerality.   All of this is followed by a lightly chalky (Chablis-like?) finish.   An interesting and well made wine from Mt. Etna’s high altitude vineyards planted in volcanic soils. If you aren’t familiar with Etna DOC wines, this 100% Carricante white is a fine introduction to the delicacy and complexity for which this region is becoming famous.
93 points Jack Brice


Bergerac 2015

Bergerac, France
PLCB Code# 74856  (Specialty Stores, 13.5% ABV)

“Very fruity and fresh, with aromas “crunchy” strawberry and raspberry. Light buttery notes and aniseed nuances. Tart and sweet spice notes. Salivating and fruity finish. Wine roundness no lack of appetite.” VineRepublic

Why this is good value: French table wine!  Anyone visiting France will likely find themselves in an affordable bistro sipping an affordable table wine like this one. This red is a blend (very commonly associated with Bordeaux’s right bank, and St. Emilion is only six miles from this Bergerac estate) of 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Traditional black fruits fill the nose while the palate delivers straightforward old-world flavors of spicy dark fruits and a hint of licorice with a touch of oak in the tannic finish.  Taste the old world with this solid French table wine at a good price.
88 points Jack Brice


Chateau Grand Medoc, Haut Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2015

Bordeaux, France
PLCB Code# 74955 (Specialty Stores, 13% ABV)

“Very fruity on the nose with lots of dark fruit & minty expression. Quite a powerhouse for the value price, with lots of dark cherry & blackberry.  Tannins not that far off an undecanted Barolo which did make the conversation tricky!!  Nice fruity wine but full enough that it would be recommended it be accompanied with food.” Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program

Why this is good value: Classic – This red Bordeaux is marked “Cru Bourgeois” which is an elevated classification, implying higher quality than typical table wine, and would expect to fetch a higher price (often $20-$50).  Produced from “Left Bank”, Haut-Medoc grapes, (not revealed but likely Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc as main components) this is what I consider an old world classic claret with no hints of “Californication” (in other words, not over ripe, not thick and not over-sweet).  Very nice black fruit, earthy tarry flavors with velvety mouth feel at opening with some tannin grip at the end, needs food or strong cheeses to show its merit. Famous reviewer James Suckling awarded a 92 rating for this red.  Drink/decant now or keep for next year or two.
90 points Jack Brice


Les Vignes de Bila Haut Cotes du Roussillon Villages Rouge 2016

Languedoc-Roussillon, France
PLCB Code# 45247 (Specialty Stores, 14.5% ABV)

“An inky colored effort, the 2016 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Vignes de Bila Haut offers a beautiful freshness and purity as well as fabulous notes of jammy blackberries, violets, pepper and hints of leather. Rich, concentrated and tasting like it costs four times the price, drink it over the coming 4-5 years.” 92 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Why this is good value: Here is your barbecue wine!  A common Rhone-style blend made from Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, this big-boned red is the perfect accompaniment to barbecue flavors but also Mediterranean foods.  Offering a nose full of raspberries and violet floral aromas, the palate delivers a fleshy mouthful of red and black fruits backed by significant grip – all of which allows the wine to stand up to all kinds of meat or strong cheeses (try some blue cheese).   A rewarding hot climate red!
91 Points Jack Brice


Cambria Benchbreak Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley 2014

Santa Maria Valley, California, USA
PLCB Code# 78871 (Widely Avalable, 14.5% ABV)

“Pale to medium ruby colored with a hint of purple, the 2014 Pinot Noir Benchbreak has intense red currant and red cherry notes with hints of violets, Chinese five spice and dried herbs. Medium-bodied, fine and fresh in the mouth, it has a lot of varietal expression and sense of place for this price point without sacrificing flavor, which is a dorky way of saying, it rocks!” 90 points Wine Advocate Sep 2017

Why this is good value: Everyone knows Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to grow and wine to make – hence the price point is often high, despite quality inconsistency. Fortunately, we sometimes find relief. This Cambria, a sustainable farmed Pinot from Santa Maria Valley (north of Santa Barbara), rewards us with trademark Pinot Noir red fruits and spices wrapped in a velvety package.  At this price, it is a bargain – and my new favorite California Pinot Noir!
90 Points Jack Brice


Firriato Soria Frappato Sicily 2015

Sicily DOC, Italy
PLCB Code# 75154 (Specialty Stores, 13.2% ABV)

“Aromas of red berry, cooking spice and graphite emerge from the glass. The bright palate offers  strawberry jam, Marasca cherry and clove alongside fresh acidity and round tannins.” 89 points Wine Enthusiast Aug 2018

Why this is good value: Ruby color and a nose full of red fruits – mouth feel is light and smooth but packs plenty of fruit density on the palate.   Despite being produced exclusively from Sicilian native grape Frappato, this wine conjures comparisons to nice quality new world Pinot Noir due to the red cherry, red raspberry and spice flavors presented in a not-too-hot package (ABV is 13.2%), light tannins and persistent finish.  This is a very appealing medium bodied wine.
90 points Jack Brice


Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso 2016

Mount Etna Sicily, Italy
PLCB Code# 74461  (Specialty Stores, 13.5% ABV)

“This well-balanced red is medium-bodied and fresh, with flavors of cherry, grilled plum, tea rose and smoke framed by sculpted tannins. Drink now through 2023.” 90 points,Recommended Wines from Etna, Wine Spectator, Oct 2018

Why this is good value: Produced in the high altitude volcanic soils on the slopes of Mt. Etna, this DOC red is a blend of mostly Nerello Mascalese (roughly 95%) and a small amount of Nerello Cappuccio (roughly 5%).  Reminding me of a fine Pinot Noir, with flavors including intense cherry fruits and undercurrent notes of sweet raspberry and plum, all wrapped in solid but unobtrusive tannins that finish cleanly. I believe many people will enjoy how this wine packs copious amounts of fruit intensity in a light to medium bodied package!
91 points Jack Brice

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