A Summer Travelogue of 25 Geographically Diverse Wines
Sometimes, tasting through a group of recently released wines is like taking a tour of the world’s wine regions, some well-known, others relative newcomers.
Such is the case here, with three wines from the beautiful but barely known North Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island. Add to this some prickly and refreshing red sparkling wines from the region around Bologna in northern Italy, a group of geographically and stylistically diverse red wines for less than $30 and, finally, a deluxe, delicious and very expensive Champagne, and it’s time to bring out the wine atlas and start looking at its maps.
Wines for review were provided by their producers or importers at no cost to the writer.
Tenuta Sant’Antonio “Scaia” Veneto IGT Garganega/Chardonnay 2017 ($13). Nice green flavors of lime and gooseberries with a lot of spritz, yet a little soft in the middle.
Mt. Beautiful North Canterbury Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($16). A sweaty sauvignon with flavors of green grapes and lime with a hint of cream.
Mt. Beautiful North Canterbury Chardonnay 2016 ($22). A “soft” chardonnay with creamy fruit surrounded by lightly tart, dusty tannins.
Ehlers Estate Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($29). An all-purpose white table wine — mellow and rich with green apple and light oak flavors and a touch of spritz.
Pascal Jolivet “Les Caillottes” Sancerre 2017 ($34). Fresh strawberry flavor, crisp acidity, and a great mouthfeel.
Cleto Chiarli Grasparossa di Castelvetro Lambrusco Amabile NV ($12). Lambruscos are everyday red sparkling table wines from Bologna, either sweet or dry, at around 11 to 12 percent alcohol. This one is sweetish — lots of cherries — but still with typical lightly bitter, crisp finish.
Cleto Chiarli “Vecchia Modena” Lambrusco di Sorbara NV ($15). Tangy, fresh, and crisp with red fruits; very refreshing.
Cleto Chiarli Vino Spumante Rosé Brut NV ($15). Lightly sweet with grape-y flavors and a long finish.
Cleto Chiarli Vigneta Cialdini Lambrusco NV ($16). Bright red cherries and elderberry tastes with a tart finish.
Barone Pizzini Franciacorta Rosé Brut 2012 ($38). A little gamey in the nose with refreshing cherry flavor and plenty of mousse, although a little more structure would be good.
Krug “21ème Édition” Champagne Rose Brut NV ($331). This blend was assembled in 2008 from wine from that vintage along with others dating back to 2000, giving it great complexity. This is a very textured wine, not at all shy and retiring, with dried red fruits, lots of metallic minerality and a very crisp finish. Enjoy it on its own or with any food for which a lighter red would normally be the pairing.
E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2015 ($16). A good value with very nice, flavorful fruit —rich raspberries — and lots of dry tannins.
Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016 ($16). Well balanced and straightforward with lots of black raspberry flavor.
M. Chapoutier “Bila Haut L’Esquerda” Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2016 ($24). Mixture of blackberry, raspberry and cassis flavors with lightly-textured chocolate brownie notes.
Mt. Beautiful North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2016 ($24). A light-ish pinot with creamy cherries and moderate acidity.
E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage Rouge 2015 ($25). Lovely flavors — dried cherries and garrigue — and a long finish, although a tad flabby in the middle.
Inama “Bradisismo” Veneto Rosso IGT 2015 ($28). Dark purple fruits with lots of texture and a finish of earthy, chocolate flavors.
Long Meadow Ranch “Farmstead” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($29). Fresh raspberries and cherries with quite a bit of acidity and chewy tannins.
Trefethen Oak Knoll Merlot 2015 ($40). Nice touches of oak to accent the spicy cherry and berry fruits.
Geyser Peak “Devil’s Inkstand” Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($45). A nice middle-of-the-road cab with mellow fruit blended with mature oak flavors.
Beaulieu Vineyards “Tapestry” Napa Valley Reserve Red Wine 2014 ($51). Plumpish, with lots of red fruits, but well-balanced.
Charles Krug “Generations” Napa Valley Red Wine ($53). Prominent cherry and blackberry fruit with well-integrated tannins and voluminous mouthfeel. Although 15 percent alcohol, it doesn’t feel hot.
Long Meadow Ranch Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($53). Lots of blackberry fruit and oak notes — this wine should be decanted in spite of its age.
Frank Family Lewis Vineyard Carneros Reserve Pinot Noir 2016 ($59). A big and rounded pinot with lots of fruit-forward dark cherries and mild tannins.
Beaulieu Vineyards “Georges de Latour Private Reserve” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($124). Subdued dark fruits with lots of oak notes and tart tannins, but not as complex as earlier vintages. The American West Coast continues to expand in the number of wineries it supports. We have a great variety of them here, some from well-known wineries, and others from lesser-known producers.