The bottle says 14.5% alcohol. My nose and eyeballs suspect if might be well north of 15%. This is a big wine, with brawny red fruits, a bowl of mixed cherries ranging from barely ripe to nearly black and strawberries to match, fighting it out with blackberries in a ring made of American Oak, refereed by a box of raisins. Sweet dusty tannins abound, but there is enough acid to match. This might settle down and blend together with a few years in the cellar. It is more a stand-alone snack than a food wine, but if you must, match it with a very sloppy cheese steak sandwich. Recommended.
Clear, medium-light intensity, ruby. Clean aromas of earth, moss, leaves, dirt, anise, baking spice, fennel, savory herbs, dark fruit, cherry, blackberry. Dry, medium-full body, medium tannin, medium-low acidity, fleshy, round, medium-long finish, round, lush dark fruit, smoke, brown sugar. Recommended, but hold for another year.
A mouthful of wine, this Zin is a moderate (by today's standards) 14.8% alcohol, but has loads of black fruit, cocoa, and coffee. The nose is slightly vegetal, suggesting perhaps some whole cluster fermentation. Blackberries on attack are followed by raspberries on the mid-palate and finish. Black pepper runs under everything from attack to finish. On the mid-palate, first mocha, then dark chocolate, come through. The long finish tastes of dark chocolate and dusty tannins. Drink with well smoked pork ribs. Recommended.
Cherries and some cola and caramel show up on the nose, along with a little more burn than you would expect from the 13.7% alcohol reported on the label. On the palate the wood speaks loudest, in vanilla and caramel, followed by dark cherry and Dr. Pepper. A bit of allspice and white pepper appear on the palate, but none of it breaks through the wood. Drink with baked chicken, the dark meat if possible. No recommendation.
All over Europe, 2009 often yielded some ripe and expressive wines with intense aromatics yet good balance—we’re talking ripe, but not overheated. The 2009 Borgogno Barbera d’Alba Superiore is no exception. It shows gorgeous and intense aromas and flavors of cherry, with a dash of spice to give it character, and a long, lovely finish, with enough acidity to avoid it being overrun by the ripe red fruit character. A fun wine at a very reasonable price. Recommended.
Offering just the tiniest tickle, this has less fizz than most Vinho Verdes. It is vibrantly acidic, with light flavors of fresh peaches and lemons. Pears make an appearance on the finish. Alcohol is moderate, at 11.5%. Like all the better wines of its class, this is bottled summertime, the perfect sipper when the mercury is north of 90ºF and the kids are old enough to play on their own. Drink with sunshine by the side of the pool. Recommended.
Clear, bright, pale gold color. Clean nose with aromas of pear, apple, soft citrus, and tropical fruit. Dry on the palate, medium-low acidity, medium body, simple flavors of pear and yellow apple, with a medium yeasty finish. Drink with grilled tilapia in a spicy ginger glaze. Recommended.
Achaval-Ferrer is famed for producing extremely complex—and extremely expensive—Malbec, but their Quimera blend (made from malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot from varying locations and in varying percentages) is a steal even at forty bucks. Quimera is a demanding wine, with huge structure, dark fruits, and savory, herbal notes. It’s also a unique wine, blending the best of Argentina’s Malbec qualities with those of red grapes usually associated with Bordeaux and California—and in the best years it can age for decades, gaining similar complexity, nuance and elegance as its much pricier counterparts north of the equator.