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Slurping Around with P.D.W. November 2012

Hi all –

Between travel and work, opportunities for tasting have become less and less, so I cannot offer you a report of the usual quality you have come to expect. For this I apologize. While I expect to compensate in November when Harrieth and I will be taking a couple of weeks "off" in Barossa and McLaren Vale (South Australia), I am not sure I can provide a useful column in November since the wines we will see in Oz are likely not available in the United States, plus with the equality between US and AUS dollars, they will have outgrown my budget anyway. But I will try. Just don't hold your breath. Not worth it.

White / Rose wines

2010 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc "private bin”,  Marlborough, New Zealand $10. Villa Maria is very dependable. Despite the moniker "private bin," this is their lowest tier effort. Nonetheless, it is great stuff. Typical NZSB with all the ripe gooseberry/lime/citrus flavors, very clean palate, acidity softer than most NZSB but quite enough, viscosity and length we have come to expect from Marlborough. You can pay more, but you probably won't get more.

2011 Chateau Routas Rose, France $10. Not sure from just where this hails, but that does not matter. You look at this and are not encouraged – just a shimmer of pink, there cannot be much to this wine. The nose has rose petal and some caramel and is stronger than the wine's pallor predicted. So, too, the fruit intensity on the palate is surprisingly good with clean citrusy red cherry and raspberry. It is dry, balanced, and has good length.

Red wines

2010 Seghesio Zinfandel, Sonoma County, CA $19. While this wine is their "lowest tier" zin, it is just as good this year as in past years, and a bit better than the 2009, which I recommended October 2011. It has a young, fresh, and forward grapey/raspberry nose, with a touch of oak char. It has excellent red cherry and raspberry fruit, with soft tannin and good acidity. There is no sweetness, but a nice touch of dry herbs. It is very clean, balanced, and has good length. It is not an over-extracted wine at all, and has elegance. This is a wine to serve your boss, assuming you like her.

2009 Bitch Grenache, Spain. $9. Truly, that is the name. Don't shoot the messenger. It has a forward floral red raspberry nose with some black pepper. The same features on the palate, and the mouthfeel is very ripe and almost sweet, with intense fruit. Acidity and tannin are balanced, length is reasonable. This is a wine to serve your boss, assuming you do not like her.

2009 Bogle Petite Sirah, CA $8.50. Great value for the price, no question. The nose has blueberries and dark cherries. The palate has very rich, ripe dark fruit flavors, which easily cope with the medium-high tannins. This is a big, solid, extracted wine. Interesting element of sage and honey can be identified. There is a freshness to the wine. Needs good red meat, to be sure. Note: I said the preceding in the October 2011 column. The 2009 is still on the shelves, I tried it again last week, and the description has not changed, nor has the price. Go for it.

2010 Van Ruitan Zinfandel, Lodi "old vine" $7. 14.8% alcohol, so drive carefully. This is a steal. Floral red berry nose with a touch of oak char; light oak and good red berry fruit on the palate. It not extracted, tannic, overdone or sweet. Just nice and tasty.

2010 Wine Guerrilla Zinfandel, Sonoma County $12. 14.5% alcohol. There is a nice red berry nose followed by a medium weight wine on the palate, with juicy red berries that are ripe and very slightly sweet. It is not tannic or extracted, has very good acidity to balance the ripeness, making it bright and lively.

2009 Point Concepcion Pinot Noir, "Salsipuedes", Santa Barbara, CA $16. This is a big wine, 14.7% alcohol, with a nose of cherry, vanilla, and anise. The palate is very forward and rich with dark cherry and plum, spice, modest oak, good acid, light tannin, and a bit of heat at the finish.

Enjoy! It may all you get from me until December.

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