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Slurping Around with P.D.W. May 2013

Hi all: The wine shops I frequent are for some reason not bringing in as many whites, so once again the column will be red-dominated.

Whites Wines

Here are a couple of pleasant, inexpensive “party whites” – wines that are not great but quite drinkable at a party and free of real flaws:

2011 Hugues, Picpoul de Pinet, Caves de Pomerol $8.
The picpoul grape is pretty new to me. It seems to make a clean if generic and nicely balanced wine with good citrus-based fruit, good to very good acid, and an overall pleasant balance. This one has a nice nose and palate of lemon and grapefruit plus a little baked apple. It has richness, viscosity and is clean.

2011 Coteaux du Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet $8.
Not quite as rich as the above, it has lemon and a little pear on the nose and palate.

2011 Josh Cellars Chardonnay $10.
The nose has vanilla and ripe tropical fruit. The palate is similar with a nice lemony tart kick at the end. Good but not great. Oak is medium to light.

2012 Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $17.
There are several NZSB’s at half the price, but they are also half as intense. This wine is amazing in its fruit concentration both on the nose and palate. Full of grassy, herbal gooseberry and lime, rich and viscous, not too tart, almost sweet in its ripeness, very clean.

Red Wines

2011 Josh Cellars Merlot $10.
This is a light style Merlot that is quite well made, a decent party red. A little green bean in the nose (common in Merlot) and nice black cherry fruit. The palate is similar. Not tannic, not tart, but clean, varietal and with good fruit intensity.

2011 McManis Merlot $8.
Ya gotta like American oak (dill, vanilla, coconut). The nose is dominated by these characters, with red/dark cherry fruit behind the oak. The palate is also very oaky, but the fruit intensity is really, really good. Very good length, not tart or tannic, just oaky. You have been warned.

2010 Route 152 Pinot Noir $9.
Can’t get many Pinots at this price that are actually drinkable. This one has a floral grapey nose with cola and black cherry. The palate is very similar with slight earthiness, soft tannins, balanced acid and light tannin. It is a lighter style and not too oaky (too much oak is a common fault in Pinots in my opinion).

2011 Cosentino Cabernet Franc, Lodi, $10.
This has a floral, almost candied raspberry nose and palate. The fruit is ripe and almost sweet, but it has decent tannins and acid to balance this. This is a nice food wine – grilled anything.

2010 Terra D’Oro Zinfandel, Amador County $11.
Amador is famous for a very hot climate in the Sierra Foothills near Sacramento. The wines are usually big, rich, ripe, and even slightly sweet, with high alcohol. This is no exception. The nose has lots of red berries, and a little earth and oak char. The palate is forward and rich, with ripe, almost sweet red raspberry fruit, some American oak (dill), but is neither tart nor tannic.

2012 Meiomi Pinot Noir $17.
This is a blend made from grapes from Monterey, Sonoma and Santa Barbara counties. A little pricey, but nowhere near the now-common $30++ Pinots, this is very dark in color, and big for a Pinot. The nose has dark cherry and slight oak char. The rich palate has dark cherry fruit, cola, light oak char, with vanilla. It is intense, with great fruit/tannin/acid balance. A really nice wine.

2011 Laya Garnacha (30%)/Monastrell (70%), Almansa, Spain $7.
This is a lush, somewhat simple, but very drinkable wine at a good price. Garnacha = Grenache; Monastrell = Mourvedre, so this is a Rhone blend. It has plums, light black pepper, and anise. The palate has simple, young grapey/plumy fruit with soft tannin and acid, and is easy to drink. Very good party wine.


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