Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 11-17-2018

This week’s report covers wines from all over the globe, including Chile, France, Israel, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

The new vintage of Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor (the 2015), is a real stunner, while the Chilean producer Odfjell offers less expensive but exciting wines.

I cover a few wines from the Abruzzo region of Italy, along with the perennially value-driven wines from M. Chapoutier’s Bila-Haut brand. Yarden offers up a delicious Champagne method bubbly from Israel, while the Spanish region of Navarra (keeping with tradition) comes through with some solid buys.

These wines were all received as samples and tasted sighted.

2017 Odfjell Carignan Orzada-Chile, Maule Valley
SRP $23
Medium purple color. The nose is vibrant but bold with black cherries, red and black currants, and a great mix of black pepper, leather, grilled steak, with some nice floral undertones, too. Full-bodied (15%) with a velvety feel, and the solid tannins align well with medium acidity. Rich but tangy fruit (black cherries, dark plums, saucy black currants), backed up with a mix of leather, roasted herbs, rose petals, anise, charcoal and earth. Loving the depth and complexity here, and I’d like to age this 3-5 years. From 20- to 80-year-old, dry-farmed, Carignan vines. (89 points IJB) 

2013 Odfjell Aliara- Chile, Central Valley
SRP: $44
Rich purple color. So spicy on the nose, with a mix of menthol, mint, roasted herbs and pepper on top of black currants and cherries. Full-bodied, nice grip to the tannins but not harsh, this is a smooth and nicely balanced wine with medium acidity. Black cherries and currants are topped in loamy, rocky, earthy notes, as well as black pepper, roasted red pepper and mushroom. This makes me crave steak! Complex, long, this could use a few years of cellar time. A blend of 65% Carignan, 20% Syrah and 15% Malbec from vineyards in Cauquenes, Lontué Valley and Maule Valley. (90 points IJB)

2015 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Don Melchor- Chile, Maipo Valley, Puente Alto
SRP: $120concha
Rich purple color. The aromas show rich tobacco, pepper, scorched earth, grilled herbs, on top of tangy black currants, dark plums, cocoa and cedar. Full-bodied on the palate with serious grip on the tannins but vibrant acidity, the balance is impressive for a wine this young. Crunchy plums, black currant, rich but fresh fruit laced with complex earth, pepper, chewing tobacco, mint, charcoal, tar, coffee. Wonderful depth and balance with a long finish full of graphite and minerals. So young, with many years ahead, but classic Don Melchor stuff, an excellent vintage of this wine. 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. (94 points IJB)

2017 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Blanc- France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon
SRP: $15
Pale lemon color. Aromas of lemons, pineapple and kiwi, bright yet rich fruit, along with yellow flowers, honey and sea salt. Rich texture, lovely honeyed and waxy notes but fresh acidity and a crisp feel, too. Flavors of lemon, kiwi and pineapple mixed with flower petals, sea salt, honeyed tea. Plush but crisp, this is fun but serious, and would be so good with a diverse array of foods. A blend of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Macabeo and Vermentino, this is a perennially awesome value. (88 points IJB)

2017 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Vignes de Bila-Haut- France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages
SRP: $15
Light purple. Nose shows bright raspberries mixed with juicy black cherries, along with rhubarb, black pepper, leather, sweet eucalyptus and rose petals. Fleshy texture on the palate, light and dusty tannins with crisp acidity, lots of red and black cherries, raspberries and plums. Notes of smoke, lavender, charcoal, black pepper and rose petals. Lovely, vibrant, delicious stuff, as usual, seriously delivering for the price. Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. (88 points IJB)

2010 Golan Heights Winery Yarden Blanc de Blancs- Israel, Galilee, Golan Heights
SRP: $33
Light gold color. On the nose, this is breezy and floral, with chalk dust, sea salt and slight biscuit notes on top of lemon, lime and green melon. Crisp and bright on the palate with fine bubbles and a zesty appeal. Lime, lemon, green apple, topped with white flowers, crushed chalk, sea salt. Some light biscuit notes, but this is a bright, light (11.5% alcohol) Chardonnay-based sparkling wine that would be great with salads and sushi. (88 points IJB) 

2017 Citra Trebbiano d’Abruzzo- Italy, Abruzzi, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
SRP: $10
Light yellow color. Aromas of lemons, white peach, along with floral perfume and honeysuckle. Fresh and bright on the palate, this is plump and peachy but shows nice acidity as well. Lemon, apples, simple, pleasant and fun with notes of honeysuckle, cucumber slices and sea salt. Good for the price. (85 points IJB)

2017 Citra Pecorino Ferzo- Italy, Abruzzi, Terre di Chieti IGT
SRP: $26
Light yellow color. Aromas boast white peaches, green melons, along with flowers, perfume, so bright and vibrant, too. Crisp acidity on the palate with fleshy texture, almost waxy, and the balance and depth is impressive. Melon, lemon, apricot, along with deep floral and mineral tones, some stony, chalky complexity. A juicy and fun-loving wine, this would work nicely with so many different types of foods, but it has a lot of complexity as well. (89 points IJB)

2016 Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Ferzo- Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
SRP: $26
Light purple color. Aromas of black cherries, plums, dark and fruity with elements of spiced tea, espresso and grilled herbs. Medium+ bodied with tangy, refreshing acidity and moderate tannins. Dark plums and cherries, deep but crunchy fruit, along with some pepper, loamy earth and espresso. Enough grip and depth to age for a few; this could stand up to some hearty grilled meats as well. (88 points IJB)

2012 Dow Porto Late Bottled Vintage- Portugal, Douro, Porto
SRP: $24
Rich purple color. Nose of roasted fig, sweet plums, blackberry and black cherries, saucy and jammy, with coffee and clove and anise. Full and sweet but fresh, with accessible tannins, moderating acidity, and flavors of juicy black cherries, roasted figs and plum cake. Notes of clove, vanilla, sweet fig cookies and violets. Accessible and fun, but not simple, this delivers a lot of complexity for the price – great cold weather, holiday party choice in LBV Port category. (89 points IJB)

2016 Castillo de Monjardín Navarra La Cantera- Spain, Navarra
SRP: $12
Deep ruby color. Smells of strawberry and black cherry jam, smoky tobacco, herbs, clove and vanilla. Fresh and bright on the palate with light tannins and juicy raspberries, strawberries and red plums. Flavors of tobacco, mint, cola and vanilla add some complexity. Fresh and fun, accessible but balanced, too. Nice for the price. 85% Garnacha and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Stainless steel-fermented, aged six months in old French oak. (87 points IJB)

2016 Bodegas Nekeas Garnacha El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa- Spain, Navarra
SRP: $14
Light purple color. Smells of raspberries and jammy plums, saucy and smoky, with tobacco and anise notes. Light tannins, full-bodied, yet medium acidity helps it balance out. Black cherries, plums, this is a juicy, ripe and plush wine with a nice mix of violets, tobacco, espresso. Fun, crowd-pleasing, value-driven stuff. All Garnacha aged five months in French oak barrels. (87 points IJB)

2010 Bodegas Ochoa Navarra Reserva- Spain, Navarra
SRP: $33ochoa
Light purple color. Nose boasts dark plums, currants, blackberries, mixed in with a hefty amount of charcoal, leather, coffee grounds and grilled herbs. Dusty tannins but nice grip, velvety feel but bright acidity, and the balance is nice. Tart black currants and tangy plums, I get a lot of deep earth, graphite, leather, violets and soy. Complexity is impressive, this is ready to drink now or hold for a few years. Tempranillo with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, aged 18 months in new American and French oak, aged 36 months in bottle before release. (89 points IJB)

<85 points

2017 Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo- Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
SRP: $10
Medium ruby color. Nose shows raspberries, red cherries, rhubarb and white pepper. Medium-bodied on the palate with dusty-light tannins and tart acidity. Cherries and raspberries mix with notes of spiced tea, coffee and earth. Simple, fun, crowd-pleasing, pizza-friendly wine.

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