Recently, when I tasted Dalla Terra’s new, negociant-style Barolo – reviewed below – a smile came to my face, not just because of the quality of the wine, but also because it is a new, baby brand for me to follow, vintage by vintage.
I also had a smile when I tasted Treasury Wine Estate’s Stags’ Leap Petite Sirah, which the late Carl Doumani owned until 1997. Once upon a time, Petite Sirahs were common in Napa Valley but were gradually abandoned because they were perhaps too “common.” But Doumani transformed his PS into an elegant, even iconic brand. The smile here is because Treasury eventually took ownership of the brand and kept making the varietal.
Other smiles – the longevity of the Frescobaldi’s brands, which has been in the family since 1300. I’ve had the opportunity to taste wines with Lamberto Frescobaldi, the 30th generation, although not the Chianti Classico noted in this week’s The Dozen. Also, a smile for Marques de Riscal, the brand whose Rioja winery I have visited a few times and which is now finishing its second century, having been founded “only” in 1858. I saw dusty bottles in its cellars much older than I am.
So when wineries annually issue their new vintages, I also think of them as another birthday in a glass to be celebrated.
2021 19 Crimes “Martha’s Lighter Chard” California Chardonnay ($15). Though I’m not generally a fan of reduced-alcohol wines, this one is delightful – 8.5% alcohol, very juicy, yet fairly dry with baked apple flavors and a lingering hint of cloves.
2022 Villa Maria Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($16). Fresh aromas and tastes of kiwi fruit and lime with a medium body and a “green acidic” finish.
2020 Duca di Salapurata “Lavico” Etna Rosso ($17). A very light red with bright cherry flavors, lots of acidity, and raspy tannins.
2020 Villa Maria Marlborough Pinot Noir ($19). A lightish Pinot, but with ripe cherry fruits and cola flavors, lean with savory hints.
2017 Frescobaldi “Tenuta de Perano” Chianti Classico ($28). Quite enjoyable – rich, chalky flavors of red and black raspberries with good tannins, structure, and long finish.
2019 Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($39). Crisp cherry and blackberry flavors with good balance, raspy tannins, and a long finish.
2018 Dalla Terra “Perla Terra” Barolo ($40). A lovely wine with lots of intense, tangy cherry and berry flavors and very long on the palate.
2018 Stags’ Leap Napa Valley Petite Sirah ($50).Lively flavors, yet firm structure with tastes of blueberries and blackberries and a good lilt of fruit in the finish.
2016 Marqués de Riscal “Baron de Chirel” Rioja Reserva ($96). Delicious flavors of blackberries well-blended with barrel notes and lip-smacking tannins – elegant and lightish in spite of 15% alcohol.
2019 Priest Ranch “Snake Oil” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($110). Warm and generous, yet potent, with blackberry fruits and a few savory notes – mouth-filling, with smooth tannins.
2019 Clos Apalta Apalta Red Blend ($160). Led by Carmenère, the blend has lovely aromas and flavors of rounded cherries and blackberries along with complex barrel notes, lots of pecan-shell tannins, and hints of bitters – just lovely
2020 Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore (about $270). Lovely, smooth, and very rich with flavors of blackberries and blueberries, walnuts, light brambles, and bitters with well-integrated tannins, some chalkiness, and very long on the palate.
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.