During Sauvignon Blanc season, beware of fads and rip-offs

July 17, 2017

Our pleas and supplications for a true, highly rated, inexpensive Chianti have been answered by Tenute del Cerro Colli Senesi DOCG 2015. Del Cerro is better known as one of the largest producers in Montepulciano. It is a quality producer and this Chianti, if produced by many others, would have been named a Super Tuscan. It is blended of 85 percent Sangiovese, 10 percent Merlot and 5 percent Canaiolo. It was cool fermented in stainless to preserve the fruit characteristics, aged three months in oak and then in the bottle before release. Don’t panic! All that for less than $9/bottle. I’ve seen cases at $108. Suckling wrote it up in WS at 92 points, claimed it reminded of Burgundy. I’m down with most of that. But Chianti, especially DOCG Chianti, reminds me of Chianti, Tramps and Ladies.

It doesn’t need the term Red Burgundy dragged in to support its claim. Sadly, too many wonderful Chianti producers were caught up in the Super Tuscan or straw basket marketing crazes. The 2015 is bright ruby-colored, tinged with grape juice purple. The bouquet is complex with roses, dried flowers, cherry and a balsamic undertone. On the medium palate, berries with mild tannins. These are refined but somehow provide a full mouthfeel. Finishes long and clean with more dusty rose notes. If memory serves, this is the best Chianti from this producer to date. 

Trisaetum Winery in Oregon is releasing its beautiful 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir. This was awarded 94 points by many of the likely suspects. Barbara and I sampled some at the winery. I’m happy to say it lived up to the hype.

May be a bit pricey at $85/bottle but a very good value in my opinion. Look for lovely, clear, red ruby color that opens to pretty fruit nose which flows into blackberry, pepper, cream and barrel spice nuance. These finish long and clean with the flavors lingering. Contact Alice, 

As usual, it is Sauvignon Blanc season and many are foisting “stuff” on the market. A recent ad claimed Graham Norton, late-night Irish comedian, blended a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc NZ 2016 that filled every bill. They used terms such as European, lime, lanolin, saline, stone fruit, grassy, melon, herbaceous, tropical, all but the ubiquitous “grapefruit” and concluded with only 60K cases made, to describe the SB that fits everyman’s palate. Plus it is cheap! As you may observe from the Chianti/burgundy comments in the preceding paragraph, I’m not enamored of the trend. Reminds me of the 1980s when the Cali cartels nearly wrecked their Chardonnay industry by dumbing to the muddle, trying to move all of us into the flat-line, no-character plonk of $6 Chards. No, thank you! While some may love Norton’s comedy and entertainment, I think his wine blending instinct may be driven by greed.

The wine smells of newly printed money and has the flavor profile of what we formerly made at a trash can party.

Sorry, old chap, but your wine is a rip-off, in my opinion. Folks who read here on a regular basis know I rarely write a bad review concerning wine. There are far too many wonderful products that are fairly priced, so why bother? Part of the hype reads, “It also is great with a couple of friends and a few laughs!” I agreed here. My friends would laugh me out of the room if I served this. This reminded me of an old saying, “We cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you.” 

Those who enjoy great, inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc can search out Dry Creek 2016, White Knight 2014, Duckhorn 2015 and Kunde Magnolia Lane 2015. All can be found under $20. For those who want to see SB at its very best and can afford the candle, look for Rochioli Estate Grown RRV from Sonoma, 94 McD under $35; or Henri Bourgeois (this producer makes great Sancerre but he isn’t very funny) La Cote des Monts Damnes 2015, $55, 93 points McD.

Those looking for an inexpensive, consistent good value NZ SB can buy Oyster Bay 2012-16 rated 87-88 and costing under $150/case. The 2016 may be the best of recent vintages.