Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc, 2012, $18

Precise, crisp, and delicious.  Beautiful on the nose, full flavor.  Not peppery like some from New Zealand.  So-so value as their are other fantastic sauvignon blanc wines at a lower cost, but this wine was delicious.  14.7% EtOH (pretty high).  90 on Wine Spectator.  Drink now.

2013 Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling, $11

This was a Wine Spectator Favorite in 2014 (#43/100).  We are nearly through our six bottles.  A robust Riesling from Columbia Valley in Washington State, it is delicious.  Goes with everything and is especially well matched to spicy Asian food which can be overpowering to the drier wines.  Available everywhere, this is a reasonable priced "go-to" wine.  Apparently, it is age-worthy and recommended to be good until 2020, but why wait.  Great now.

2012 Ca' Bea Sangue Di Giuda (Italy), $10

This moderately effervescent wine from Italy capped off a perfect dinner with fantastic friends from Richmond.  Not too sweet but paired nicely with a tart key lime pie.  Recommended by Little Washington Winery. 

Although woke up a little hung (may also be due to Old Fashions and wine with dinner), I would definitely buy again.

2012 Scarpetta Babera del Monferrato Blend, $20

Another good wine recommended from our friends at Metro Wines in Asheville.  This from the former chefs of French Laundry.

I liked it.  Definitely some power behind it, but fairly acidic and did not quite come together.  Perhaps allowing this one to sit a bit longer would have refined the balance.  Or pairing with a super-fatty dinner.

I think I want another bottle but if able to find will hold for a few years.

2012 Chateau Ste Michelle Horse Heaven (Washington) Sauvignon Blanc, $11

I recognized this wine as a Wine Spectator top 100 (with a score of 90) for 2013 while shopping at Costco. 

It now ranks as one of my favorites Sauvignon Blanc and I happily purchased the last few 2012 bottles from Costco.  Definitely better than the Ste Michelle's Columbia River offering, the aroma is perfect and the balance is exceedingly well crafted.

We shared this bottle with on of Ginny's friends from high school who we consider quite well versed in wine.  He wanted to find it. We paired with an traditional English savory pie and an ahi salad with gochujang sauce.  The wine carried enough backbone to pair well, even with the spicy sauce. 

I remember reading about the amazing quality control at Ste Michelle, and likely the 2013 will be similarly delicious.

 

2012 A by Acacia (California) Pinot Noir, $10

This is the entry level wine for Acacia, featured at one time at our favorite restaurant in Hawaii (Hoku's).  It is available everywhere.

 This wine is quite good and a great deal at $10.  Of course there are better Pinot Noirs, but this is tasty and well balanced.  I would happily buy again.

2009 Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva, $23

At our favor liquor and wine store (Addy Bassins) we were looking for a good Chianti Classico.  A patron in the store pointed out Monsanto (yes, same name as the giant GMO company, but not associated). 

He said "you will love it". To this point I had been lukewarm on Chianti thinking of the bottomless glass at Macaroni Grill back in the day, which was exceedingly dry and fair at best.

We purchased the last bottle and found out that this particular bottle received many accolades with scores in the 92-93 range from the major reviewers.

Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed this bottle.  It transformed my ideas on Chianti and we would happily buy another bottle again.

2012-2013 Chateau Ste Michelle (Washington) Columbia River wines, $7

Below are a collection of the Chateau Ste Michelle offerings at $7 a bottle.  All are consistently well rated by Wine Spectator in the mid-high 80's, inexpensive, and easy to find.

I enjoyed all except the pinot gris, which I have decide is just a varietal I do not careful.  Comparatively, tasted a tad diluted then when compared to my favorite Riesling and sauvignon blanc wines.  Not overly complex, but again enjoyable.  And of course, Riesling goes well with almost anything.

2013 Mollydooker (Australia) "The Violinist" Verdelho, $20

From the highly acclaimed winery primarily known for its Syrah and very technical viniculture practices, this is one of two bottles named for the winemakers children.  Another factoid is Mollydooker is a term for left-handed.

Very good wine.  Drinks well alone and pairs well with food.  However, for me I am not enamored with the really high alcohol wines, as is a hallmark of Mollydooker.  The Violinist comes in at 16% alcohol which tastes a bit heavy handed in the balance. That said, I would still happily enjoy a bottle again. 

2008 Cameron Hughes 247 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, $16

This is the 4th bottle of 6 purchased by mail in 2012.  The first three bottles seemed a bit underwhelming.  I thought perhaps the wine was cooked during shipping.  However, this wine seems to be hitting its stride.

This is a lighter cab sauv that is now silky smooth and well balanced.  While not as complex as many and a little light on the nose, it is a satisfying wine at a reasonable price.

Paired with leftover thanksgiving fixings.

Sipped: 4/6 (excellent)

Paired: 4/6 (excellent)

 

2011 Clancy Red Blend, $12

This a blend of 58% Cab Sauv, 20% Merlot, and 22% Shiraz.  Enjoyed during the last night of my parents visit over the Thanksgiving weekend.

This wine made Wine Spectator's top 100 (59th) for 2014.

It tastes young and very tannic.  Although WS recommends drinking by 2016, I think this wine would be much better in 3-4 years.

All said, fairly complex, long but a tad harsh on taste.

Paired with leftover prime rib, ham, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, and stuffing.  

I think this would be a good choice to buy and hold, with potential to improve several years past 2016, although I will probably not purchase as I have a sufficient number of aging-potential wines.

Sipped: 3/6 (very good)

Paired: 3/6 (very good)

2013 Mount Warren (France) Pinot Noir, $8

I purchased on impulse a handful of inexpensive pinot noir wines recently.

As expressed on the label, one reader noted "it burns".

I did feel a warming sensation but would not describe as burning.  This wine is drinkable and simple, but did have an odd early after taste.  

We drank at party without a real meal, so just sipped.

I would not buy again.

Sipped: 2/6 (good)

2011 Norton Reserva Malbec, $13

This wine tasted young with good aging potential.  Acidic but long on taste, with alcohol slightly overpowering balance.  

Paired with bossam (Korean "beef & leaf").  This is a spicy dinner, and wine experience changed very little with pairing.  I think we will try a riesling next time we eat bossam.  I will try the malbec with a fatty dish, perhaps heavy in cheese.

Would buy again.

Sipped: 3/6 (very good)

Paired: 3/6 (very good)

2011 Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec, $18

Like other malbec recently sampled, the alcohol seems to pull the wine slightly out of balance.  Slightly acidic, good complexity. 

Paired with Ethiopian chicken dish.  This is a spicy dinner, and wine experience changed very little with pairing.

This wine come recommended from a trusted friend and I don't think the scores are necessary representative. I would like to try this bottle again in the future with a better pairing.

Sipped: 2+/6 (good)

Paired: 2+/6 (good)