A dear colleague in PR who sends me wine samples for review emailed me an interesting question or comment the other day: “Out of curiosity, did you like the wines? I couldn’t tell from the write-up.”
I’m not sure that it was, but I took it as a compliment as well as a question. As a reviewer, I’ve always thought it more important to describe what a wine tastes like (news you can use?) rather than what I think of it. If a wine is honestly made, I generally hesitate to say, “It’s not my kind of wine.” Instead, I prefer to give the message, “If you like my description, this may be your type of wine.” When I’ve toured with other wine writers, I’m not surprised during tastings that we are all over the board in which wines we prefer – or not.
Beyond this, I’m hesitant to say something is a “flaw” in a wine when it may be what the winemaker intended. Then, too there are a couple of different winemaking approaches. One is to say, “I want to make a perfect Napa Valley Cab or perfect Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc,” however it is defined. It’s a straitjacket, but often a cozy one. Other winemakers are more like chefs. “These grapes are interesting. Let me see what I can do with them.”
This edition of The Dozen has several wines where it is obvious that the winemakers want to make something interesting more than trying to achieve an ideal. Some of them I like more than others. But I think the descriptions are simple and accurate, which may help you decide which ones you prefer.
2019 ilandro Lugana Riserva ($16). Some tropical fruits and squash-like vegetable notes with medium body and good texture.
2021 Domaine Bousquet Tupungato Reserve Chardonnay ($18). Full-bodied, creamy, though not toasty, with pear flavors and good balance.
2021 Cline “Hat Strap” Los Carneros Chardonnay ($30). Full flavored, with a lot of piquant baking spices – ginger, a hint of cinnamon – to go along with apple flavors while not being sweet or toasty and with good finishing acidity.
NV Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rosé Spumante ($16). Very refreshing with tart strawberry and pineapple citrus flavors, clean and crisp with some minerality.
2021 Adami “Col Credas” Rive di Farra Di Soligo Valdobbiadene Extra Brut ($26). Creamy, delicious Prosecco with complex flavors of hops, icy cake, and apples, all harmoniously wrapped together with fine bubbles and a crisp finish.
2018 Enrico Serafino “Oudeis” Alta Langa Brut Rosé ($31). Very fizzy, crisp citrus flavors, a little gamey, lean and refreshing.
2021 Masseria Li Veli “Orion” Salento Primitivo ($15). Lovely berry fruitiness – almost juicy, but still relatively dry – with good volume and tannins.
2021 Domaine Bousquet Tupungato Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($18). Quite enjoyable with lightly purple berry aromas and tastes of cassis, blueberries, and blackberries with creamy oak.
2021 Domaine Bousquet Tupungato Malbec Reserve ($18). Supple texture with very smooth cherry and raspberry flavors, lightly creamy and with a hint of mint.
2020 Inama “Carmenère Più” Veneto Rosso ($21). Warm, muddled fruits like mulberries with good tannins and pleasant, light bitters.
2018 Capezzana “Villa di Capezzana” Carmignano ($32). Raspy and richly fruity with black raspberry flavors and lots of tannins.
2020 Cline “Eight Spur” Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel” ($38). A very herbal Zin with almost topical fruitiness and a raspy blend of cherry and plum flavors with lots of dusty tannins.
Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com. As more wineries are shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.