Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 09-17-2016

It’s time for another grab bag of wine reviews from all over this great big sphere of ours. This batch includes wines from New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Italy and Southern France. We’ve got some serious values in here, as well.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.  

Review: 2014 Robert Oatley Chardonnay Signature Series - Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
SRP: $17
Light gold color. An almost Sauvignon Blanc-like element of grapefruit and cut grass on the nose, and I get some lime and a salty/chalky quality. Bright acidity on the palate with a medium-body and a slight rounded feel. An interesting mix of grapefruit and lime with bruised apple, almond and caramel. Notes of salt and flowers on the finish. A bit simple, but a pleasantly different style Chardonnay, one with a foot in both camps. 12.5% alcohol, this sees some time in 20% new French oak, no maloactic fermentation. (86 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Robert Oatley GSM Signature Series - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $20
Vibrant purple color. Smells of juicy raspberries, black cherries and plums, with sweet flowers, black pepper glaze and eucalyptus. Medium-bodied, some grip to the tannins, medium acidity. Juicy, rich but vibrant – plum sauce black cherries and raspberry jam mixed with pepper, eucalyptus, loamy soil and clove. Fun stuff, very tasty but quite structured and juicy. Cedar and vanilla blended in nicely. 50% Grenache, 45% Shiraz and 5% Mourvedre, this spends 9 months in French oak. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Robert Oatley Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Series - Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
SRP: $20
Light purple color. Smells of plums, juicy black cherries and currants with notes of smoky charcoal and eucalyptus. Juicy fruit and texture with fine tannins, buttressed by pleasant acidity. The black and red currant and plum fruit is vibrant, not baked or candied, and the fruit is topped in spicy tobacco, roasted red pepper, eucalyptus and charcoal notes. Integrated elements of cedar and mocha. A very nice wine for the price. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2015 Concha y Toro Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva Serie Riberas - Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
SRP: $17
Pale straw color. Bursting aromas of lime, white peach and pineapple – nice kick of nettle and honeysuckle with some sliced cucumbers and lemongrass notes. Crisp acidity keeps the lips smacking with this medium-bodied wine. Lime and lemon peel, tangerine, papaya – so much fruit and it’s all bright and crunchy. A bit of chalky minerality to this wine that is quite attractive. The white pepper, cucumber and sliced jalapeno notes are woven in well to the package, and no high-octane grassiness here. From Ucuquer Vineyard near the mouth of the Rapel River. (86 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Concha y Toro Carménère Gran Reserva Serie Riberas - Chile, Rapel Valley, Cachapoal Valley, Peumo
SRP: $17
Deep purple color. Rich plum and roasted fig aromas on the nose. The fruit is deep with sweet, saucy notes, and a sense of pine forest and rich soil. Medium-bodied palate with light grip from the tannins, medium acidity keeps it quite fresh. Fruit flavors: plum skin, blackberry, blueberry, deep and saucy fruit. Notes of sweet basil and wet leaves, some coffee and vanilla accents too. Structured but accessible stuff with lots of flavor and deliciousness. Good Carmenere for the price. From Peumo Vineyard in the Cachapoal Valley, includes 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. (86 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva Serie Riberas - Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
SRP: $17
Medium purple color. Nose of bright red and black currant fruit laced with tobacco, clove, eucalyptus, vanilla. Full-bodied with some tannic grip and medium acid, and it all combines for a velvety feel. Rich black currant and blueberry fruit but silky-smooth. Pretty texture and lots of spice and herbal notes (pine, tobacco, mocha, vanilla). Gets prettier and prettier with air. Impressive stuff for the price. From the Palo Santo vineyard. (87 points IJB)

Review: N.V. Ruffino Prosecco - Italy, Veneto, Prosecco
SRP: $12
Pale straw color. Aromas of: bright white and yellow flowers with some sugar cane, white peach and guava nectar. A tropical and floral cocktail of flavors (white peach, pineapple, guava, lime) topped with honey and perfume. Some fresh acidity keeps it vibrant. Simple, fresh, tasty, entry-level Prosecco. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Ruffino Chianti - Italy, Tuscany, Chianti
SRP: $10
Smells of tart red fruits (strawberry, raspberry) along with some menthol, tobacco and pine sap. Medium-bodied with soft tannins and fresh acidity. The red apple and cherry fruit is light and crunchy and backed up by some tobacco and pepper. A simple but pleasant entry-level Chianti, this is nice for the price. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2011 Caiarossa Pergolaia Toscana IGT - Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
SRP: $25
Deep ruby color. Aromas of smoky meat on top of crunchy plums and currants, and I get some tobacco and earth, too. Fleshy but tart approach with dusty tannic structure and bright acidity. Tart plums, spiced cranberry sauce, the fruit mixes nicely with non-fruit complexity: smoke, tar, tobacco, grilled herbs. Very nice now but likely even better in two or three years. A pleasant rusticity but this is not a simple wine. Sangiovese with 10% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot. This spends 12-16 months in old oak and then aged in concrete until bottling. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2011 Caiarossa Caiarossa Toscana IGT - Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
SRP: $65
Vibrant light purple color. Smells of cool berries (blackberry, blueberry, red currant) along with lots of charcoal, smoke, tar, leafy tobacco and some vanilla coffee. Structured tannins, dry but not harsh, moderating acidity keeps it vibrant. Tart red and black currant along with lots of crunchy, juicy plums. Loaded with tobacco, sage, pepper, lots of complex earthy elements. Cedar and roasted coffee woven in very well. Elegant despite significant concentration. Long life ahead. A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Alicante and Syrah. Aged 18 months in 35% new French oak. (91 points IJB)

Review: 2015 Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
SRP: $14
Light gold color. A bright and floral-driven wine (dandelion, honeysuckle, nettle) with some lemon-lime and apricot. Medium-bodied with a slightly creamy mouthfeel and some moderating acidity. Pear, lime and apricot mix with notes of honey, nettle and sea salt. A plump texture but nice cut and vibrancy to the wine. Not the most complex wine but good stuff for the money. A blend of 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Clairette. (86 points IJB)

Review: 2015 Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorën Rosé - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
SRP: $14
Pale salmon color. Clean and fresh on the nose with red apple peel, wild raspberry and rose hips. Bright and clean on the palate with vibrant acidity and crunchy fruit (red apple, white cherry, strawberry), along with a hint of white pepper and cut grass. Simple but vibrant stuff. A blend of 75% Grenache with some Syrah and Cinsault. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Rouge - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
SRP: $14
Juicy black cherry colored. Peppery and earthy on the nose with some incense sticks and smoke to accent the red and black cherry fruit. Medium-bodied with mild tannins and medium acidity. A chewy but smooth texture lays out for the black cherry and strawberry jam flavors. Notes of incense smoke and grilled herbs add a bit of spice. A blend of 85% Grenache with some Syrah and Cinsault. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2015 Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc - New Zealand, South Island, North Canterbury
SRP: $16
Pale straw color. Smells of ruby red grapefruit and limes topped with white pepper, fresh laundry and crushed chalk. Plump but bright and crisp on the palate. Lemon pith, ruby red grapefruit and kiwi, the fruit is juicy but tangy. Notes of lemongrass, white pepper, chalk and honeysuckle. Tasty and quite complex for the price. Another solid bottle from this producer of reliable and inexpensive wines. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2015 Mt. Beautiful Riesling - New Zealand, South Island, North Canterbury
SRP: $22
Lemon-lime color. Brisk and bright on the nose, with wildflowers, chalk, bright limes, lychee and juicy orange, too. The palate is balanced between sweet fruit and bright acidity. A light-bodied wine with an understated approach, but it’s clean and clever and has some exciting flavors (orange, lime, lychee) and notes of chalk, minerals and honeycomb. Lovely clean texture and minerals on the finish. Very impressive for the price. (89 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Giesen Sauvignon Blanc The Brothers - New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
SRP: $22
Pale yellow. Bursting aromas of ruby red grapefruit and nectarine, backed up with green pepper, green onion, hops and floral perfume. Crisp acid throughout but a round profile, this wine has integrated flavors of ruby red grapefruit, orange and lime. Great mix of bell pepper, nettle and hops along with honeysuckle and daisies. A classic style, but this is more than typical, it has loads of character with a clean, chalky and mineral-laden finish. Really interesting stuff, worth a shot for those who think all Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs taste the same. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Giesen Pinot Noir The Brothers - New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough, Wairau Valley
SRP: $30
Light ruby color. Smells of juicy red cherries mixed with tart strawberries and raspberries. I love the rose hips and rhubarb spice elements. Surprisingly full and chewy on the palate (14.5% alcohol), but it sports moderate acidity and fine tannins. Gushing red cherries combine with raspberry jam and strawberry rhubarb pie notes. Spicy pepper, coffee and cedar, the latter is integrated quite well. Interesting in its bold posture and chewy approach, yet it shows vibrant red fruit. For those who like a bigger Pinot but don’t want those baked/black fruit elements. A lot of fun and a cool style. (88 points IJB)

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