Wine Reviews: Year-End Round-Up

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-22-2018

Happy holidays, wine-lovers! I sure hope your holidays are filled with friends, family, fun, and plenty of good wine. As the year wraps up, I have a bunch of wines that didn’t fit neatly into a particular category, so I wanted to include them in my final grab bag report of 2018. And this one has some goodies.

Starting with Argentina’s Domaine Bousquet: Their vineyards, in the Andes foothills appellation of Tupungato, sit in gravelly, sandy soils at about 4,000 feet in elevation. The wines have lots of juicy fruit but the freshness is really attractive, and the balance and depth for their prices is quite impressive.

Ferraton Père & Fils deliver yet again with a pair of sub-$20 Rhone blends, a white and a red, which offer up a lot of class and style in this price point. At $30, M. Chapoutier’s new vintage of the Occultum Lapidem red blend is insanely good, deep, and cellar-worthy.

Italy’s Abruzzi region has a few value-friendly wines in this report, as well as an Amarone that would pair perfectly with a snowstorm and a campfire. Portugal’s Douro provides a few tasty red blends in this report, while I’ve included three American reds from Inconceivable. Lastly, Troon, from Oregon’s Applegate Valley, comes through again with an excellent pair of Tannat-based reds. They excel with all sorts of grapes and wines, and I loved these reds for their uniquely fresh, crunchy, lip-smacking appeal.

All of these wines were received as samples and tasted sighted.

2017 Domaine Bousquet Chardonnay Reserve- Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco, Tupungato
SRP $18
Medium yellow color. Nose shows honey, peanut brittle, almond and ginger on top of yellow apples and apricots. Plump and rich texturally, but zesty acidity, and the balance is quite nice. Juicy apples and apricot mixed with graham cracker, almond, honeyed white tea, with salty, floral tones, too. Rich but fresh, a nice combination of elements here, this is delicious and good for the price. (88 points)

2017 Domaine Bousquet Malbec Reserve- Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco, Tupungato
SRP: $18
Rich purple color. Deep and saucy but bright with spiced cranberry sauce, fig paste, smoky blackberries, with pipe tobacco, charcoal pit, and sweet, spiced black tea – lots going on here. Rich texture, velvety tannins, the acidity is vibrant. Tangy black cherries, plum, cranberry jam, with lots of herbal, earthy, spicy elements, an underlying mineral, floral aesthetic. Toffee and cocoa notes woven in nicely. Lots on offer here, but it’s still fresh, fun, and easy-drinking style for consumption over the next few years. Includes 5% apiece of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, aged 10 months in French oak. (90 points)

2017 Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Blanc Samorëns- France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
SRP: $16
Light yellow color. Juicy peaches and guava, some lemon crème pie, sea salt and honey. Juicy, plump, waxy texture but fresh acidity. Yellow apples, peaches, guava, the fruit is topped in flowers, honey, hay, sea salt. All elements woven in quite nicely, and there’s a delicious mineral kick on the zesty finish. A blend of Clairette and Grenache Blanc. Solid value, loving the freshness. (88 points)

2017 Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Villages Rouge Plan de Dieu- France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu
SRP: $18
Light purple color. Super spicy on the nose, with sage, menthol, black pepper, bay leaf, scorched earth, over top of raspberries and black cherries. Suave and velvety on the palate, medium/full-bodied with moderating acidity. Raspberries, black cherries, plum sauce, the fruit is mixed with anise, pepper, earth and leather. Lots of interesting flavors here, this is really nicely done for the price. 65 % Grenache, 25% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre. (88 points)

2016 M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages Latour
SRP: $3012-21-2018 10-50-54 AM
Deep purple color. Nose of concentrated black currants and dark plums, mixed with lots of violets, menthol, anise, grilled herbs, some leather and pepper, too. Serious grip from the tannins but the acidity is lovely and balancing, and the black fruit is dark and deep but crunchy. Lots of black pepper, sage, mint, coffee anise, this is packed with depth and flavor but stays fresh. This has the stuffing to age and improve for at least a decade. 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 20% Carignan from vines averaging 60 years old. (92 points)

2017 Fattoria La Valentina Pecorino- Italy, Abruzzi, Colline Pescaresi IGT
SRP: $16
Deep yellow color. Aromas of pineapple, lemon, papaya, with some flowers and honey. Juicy and plump on the palate with crisp acidity, and flavors of pineapple, apricot and lemon cake. Notes of sea salt, minerals, whipped honey and almond, this is rich and deep but stays lively and crisp, too. Complexity is impressive. All stainless steel. (89 points)

2015 Fattoria La Valentina Montepulciano d’Abruzzo- Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
SRP: $14
Rich purple color. Plump and juicy on the palate with plump black cherries, cassis, coffee, vanilla. Chewy texture on the palate with medium/light tannins and moderating acidity. Juicy black cherries, plums, topped in smoke, earth, coffee and vanilla. Juicy, accessible, fun stuff. Mostly stainless steel with some Slavonian oak. (86 points)

2015 Fattoria La Valentina Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva Spelt- Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
SRP: $21
Light purple color. Aromas of dark cherries, plums, blackberry, along with earthy, dark flower petals, clove, some leathery notes. Smooth texture on the palate, dusty tannins with moderating acidity, fresh black cherries and plums abound. I get notes of smoky charcoal, leather, mint, clove and earth. Some floral and savory elements on the finish. This is in a good place now but could do well with a few more years. Aged 16 months in Slavonian oak. (90 points)

2013 Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella- Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Amarone della Valpolicella
SRP: $50
Deep purple color. The nose shows lots of roasted plums and figs, cassis, violets, and some cool incense, coffee, earth and peppery notes. Full and rich, grippy but not too heavy or harsh, with some medium acidity for balance. Suave but tart black cherries, raisings and roasted figs, backed up with black licorice, coffee, cedar and dark chocolate. Impressive depth, but not heavy, this shows some interesting earthy, savory elements on the finish as well. Cellar-worthy but surprisingly accessible in its youth. 65% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Corvinone and 5% Negrara. (90 points)

2016 Dow Douro Reserva Vale do Bomfim- Portugal, Douro
SRP: $13
Deep purple color. Nose is deep and dark with roasted plums, blackberries, violets, earth, warm black tea. Juicy on the palate, a medium/full-bodied frame with velvety tannins and lively acidity. Dark, saucy fruit (plums and black cherries) mixed with dark chocolate, violets, loamy earth, charcoal. Warm, lovely, dark and earthy but vibrant, this is so good at this price point. (88 points)

2015 Quinta do Vesuvio Douro Pombal do Vesuvio- Portugal, Douro
SRP: $28
Rich purple color. Nose shows lots of plums, black cherries and blackberries, topped in vanilla, cocoa, but also soy and spicy herbs. The palate shows structured tannins (not harsh), moderating acidity, and lots of tangy black cherries and cassis. Quite complex in terms of the pepper, earth, sage, smoky charcoal and mineral tones. Showing well now but will improve over the next few years. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Naciona and Tinta Amarela, aged 10 months in French oak. (89 points)

2015 Inconceivable Wines Pinot Noir- California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $25
Medium ruby color. Bright red and juicy black cherries, along with sweet raspberry, cola, with cocoa, mint and sweet tobacco. Juicy but really fresh on the palate, with vibrant acidity and smooth, light tannins. Red cherries and juicy plums, tangy but plump fruit, mixed in with notes of roasted chestnut, mint, eucalyptus, cola and roses. A lot going on here for the price. Aged 10 months in 60% new French oak. (88 points)

2016 Troon Vineyard Tannat- Oregon, Southern Oregon, Applegate Valley
SRP: $40thumddbnail
Deep purple color. Tart but deep on the nose, with tangy black cherries, dark plums, and loaded with lavender, violets, roses, inky and coffee and clove. Full-bodied with some serious grip to the tannins, but moderated by lovely acidity. Tart black cherries, cassis, lovely fruit mixed with complex notes of flowers, potpourri, clove, anise, rocky earth. Long, full, complex, I’m stoked to see what this does with five years or so in the cellar. Aged 18 months in mature oak. (90 points)

2016 Troon Vineyard Cuvée Pyrénées- Oregon, Southern Oregon, Applegate Valley
SRP: $60
Bright purple color. Aromas of tart blackberries, sour cherries, black currant, raspberry, such bright and lively fruit mixed in with sage, violets, clove, warm leather and herbs. Crisp and lively acidity from start to finish on the palate, with velvety tannins and vibrant red and black fruit (currants, plums, raspberries), laced with savory herbs, lots of violets and floral potpourri. Deep earthy, mineral element here, too. Vibrant and delicious now but I’d be interested in what this does over the next few years. Tannat and Malbec, co-fermented, aged 18 months in old oak. (91 points)

2014 Inconceivable Wines Cabernet Sauvignon- Washington, Columbia Valley
SRP: $25
Light purple color. Nose shows tangy black cherries and juicy plums, I get a nice mix of earth, cocoa, cedar and eucalyptus. Full-bodied (14.5%) with slightly chewy tannins and medium acidity. Tangy black currants and cherries, nice zip to the fruit. Mixed in with tobacco, earth, charcoal and some moderate cocoa and cedar. Fun stuff, accessible but nice complexity as well. Includes some Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec, this wine spends 23 months in a mix of used and new French oak. (88 points) 

2014 Inconceivable Wines Red- Washington, Columbia Valley
SRP: $25
Light purple color. Nose boasts juicy plums and sweet black cherries, along with a nice mix of tobacco, smoky charcoal, pepper and earth. Full-bodied and smooth, light grip to the tannins, not harsh but nice structure, medium acidity, all balanced quite well. Plums, blackberries and tart black cherries mix with tobacco, pepper, leather, soy, some cocoa and vanilla. Complexity and balance is really impressive at this price point. Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier. (90 points)

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