2008 Monte Carbonare “Suavia” Soave Classico (about $27). Soave is going through the same transition that Chianti did 30 years ago – having people discover that in spite of the lower-quality examples that we generally find in America, there is some really good stuff being made in this region. And this is one of them. Suavia has strong lactic and minerally qualities, tastes a bit like a cross between an un-oaked Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc, although the grapes are 100% Garganega. Lively fruit and acidity. Quite good. Buy.
2008 Ruffino Chianti ($9). As defense secretaries and football coaches like to mutter, “It is what it is,” and this Ruffino is a simple, inexpensive Chianti. Nice cherry flavors and a tin-cup minerality with a touch of the Sangiovese raspy finish. Yet why does it remind me more of a simple Beaujolais than Chianti? Consider.
2006 Cuvelier Los Andes Grand Vin ($40). This Malbec-dominated wine comes from the family which owns Château Le Crock in St.-Estephe and it a part of the Michel Rolland-led Clos de los Siete compound in Mendoza. The breeding shows. The Cuvelier family and Rolland were both raised in the grand Bordeaux blending tradition, and this blend of Malbec (70 percent) and 10 each of Merlot, Caberet Sauvignon and Syrah is delicious. It has loads of stuffing, but it is approachable now – dark fruits, chocolates, earthiness, dusty tannins. Buy
2008 Alice White Southeast Australia Shriaz ($7). Some good fruit in the front, but the finish is too earthy and gawky for me. Pass.
2008 Ruffino “Lumina” Pinot Grigio ($11). It’s enjoyable – fruity with dried spices around the edges – but tastes a tad sweet and artificial. You can do better for the same price. Pass.
2007 “Red Guitar” Old Vine Tempranillo/Garnacha Navarra ($9). I really like this wine and kept coming back to the open bottle. Lots of ripe, rounded fruit, moderately complex, deeply satisfying. Buy.
2007 Think Tank “La Encantada” Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir ($60). In limited distribution. This is a big wine with concentrated black raspberry flavors, yet the taste is more Burgundy than new world. Nice chalky finish with good acidity and a long finish. Very nice wine, though I should warn that the concentration will be too much for those who like lighter Pinots. Buy.
Until next time...