Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-20-2019

This week brings another roundup of wines from all over the world. Let’s dig in.

Included in this report are a pair of appassimento style wines from Pasqua, a producer from Italy’s Veneto region. For the price, they offer up a really cool springboard into this traditional style of wines.

While I love wines from the Italian region of Alto Adige, it’s not that often I taste a Pinot Grigio that stands up and slaps me in the face (in a good way). Peter Zemmer’s Riserva Giatl is a super complex and invigorating PG that deserves some attention.

Per usual, the Port producer Dow’s delivers, this time with two aged Tawny Ports (10- and 20-Year-Old), which reminded me again why I love aged Tawnies.

I also tasted four wines from the northern Spanish region of Navarra, which is home to many solid wines that sell here in the U.S. for very little money. There’s a rosé, a Chard, a Pinot and a Merlot blend, and they all punch well above their price point.

Lastly, I want to highlight two wines from Early Mountain, a Virginia producer who has been going from strength to strength lately. Their newly released Chardonnay and Shenandoah Valley Cabernet Franc show what this exciting winery has to offer.

2017 Pasqua Romeo & Juliet Passione e Sentimento BiancoItaly, Veneto, Veneto IGT
SRP: $16
Medium yellow color. Noses of peaches, lemons, green apples, along with sea salt, nettle and floral perfume. Medium-bodied, this is juicy and plump, fun wine with medium acidity and plenty of yellow and green apples, apricots. Notes of yellow and white flowers, white tea, candied ginger, this is a lot of fun for the price. 100% Garganega, which spends a bit of time drying (appassimento) before fermentation. (87 points IJB)

2016 Pasqua Romeo & Juliet Passione e Sentimento Rosso - Italy, Veneto, Veneto IGT
SRP: $16
Light purple. Nose of candied cherries, sweet raspberries, with chocolate, roses, cinnamon and vanilla. Light tannins, super fresh and tangy, but there’s some rich texture. Cherries, raspberries, sweet and juicy with notes of chocolate, black tea and sweet vanilla. Yummy, fun, goes down easily, a good introduction to the appassimento style. A blend of Merlot and Corvina (which was left to dry for a month) and Croatina. (88 points IJB)

2014 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT - Italy, Veneto, Veronese IGT
SRP: $25
Deep purple color. Aromas show a compote of plums, roasted figs, sweet plums, with anise, tobacco, dark chocolate and vanilla. Full-bodied and juicy with velvety tannins and tangy acidity. Roasted plums, figs, black cherries mix well with accents of black tea, coffee grounds, anise, dark chocolate. Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese, some of the grapes are left to dry until December before being vinified. This is a great intro to this style of wine and it always delivers for the price. (88 points IJB)

2016 Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio Riserva GiatlItaly, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige – Südtirol
SRP: $38giatl
Rich yellow color. Gorgeous nose of peaches, limes, laced with floral perfume, fresh Spring breeze, wildflowers, cucumber and mint, with crushed rock notes. Plush on the texture with lovely depth on a full-bodied frame, but the acidity is nervy and fresh, pushing the wine forward. Yellow plums, peach nectar, lime, the fruit is laced with pretty, complex notes of saline, crushed chalk, floral perfume, mint, honey, Balanced, deep, complex, a Pinot Grigio to silence skeptics. Fermented in French oak, this wine is sourced from sandy, chalky soils in Giatl. A rare “Riserva” designation, this is some exceptional stuff. (92 points IJB)

N.V. Dow Porto 10 Year Old TawnyPortugal, Douro, Porto
SRP: $37
Auburn color. The nose shows dates, figs, candied nuts, dried flowers and spiced tea. Full but fresh on the palate, a velvety, smooth, rich but lively feel. Dates, plum cake, candied pecans, and I get notes of cinnamon, graham cracker, spiced tea, dried flowers and clove. Rich yet vibrant, the sweetness is woven in really well and the wine comes across lively. This is a really solid Tawny for the price. (89 points IJB)

N.V. Dow Porto 20 Year Old Tawny - Portugal, Douro, Porto
SRP: $65
Deep auburn color. Nose shows deeper, more complex elements of digs, candied nuts, caramel, plum cake, I get some crème brulee and candied ginger. So smooth on the palate, full and sweet but really fresh and vibrant, too. The balance here is really lovely. Candied pecans, orange marmalade, almond cake, graham cracker, gingerbread – lots of deep flavor but it stays so vibrant. (91 points IJB)

2018 Castillo de Monjardín Chardonnay El Cerezo Unoaked - Spain, Navarra
SRP: $12
Medium yellow color. Aromas of yellow apples, glazed pears, salted peanuts, hay and honeysuckle. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity, this rides a nice line between styles of Chardonnay, with juicy, ripe elements, but it’s not too plump or over-oaked (all stainless steel). Tropical mix of pineapple and lime blends with minerals, chalk, salted almond, cream and ginger. Nicely balanced, and offers deliciousness but enough to keep me thinking, too. Really good value. (88 points IJB)

2018 Bodegas Ochoa Garnacha Rosado Calendas - Spain, Navarra
SRP: $12Ochoa
Juicy watermelon colored. Nose boasts raspberries, white peaches, candied apple, topped in spiced herbal and nettle tea, cinnamon candies. Plush and juicy on the palate with a medium+ body and moderate acidity. Red fruit-forward in style with plump cherries, raspberry jam and watermelon. Nots of nettle, verbena, spiced tea add some complexity. This is juicy, forward rose that could stand up to meats and grilled veg with ease. Lots of fun for the price. (87 points IJB)

2016 Castillo de Monjardín Pinot Noir Navarra El Cerezo- Spain, Navarra
SRP: $12
Deep ruby color. Nose of jammy cherries and strawberries, with a good amount of black pepper, sage, roasted earth, rose petals. Fresh on the palate with light tannins and bright acidity. Cherries, raspberry jam and red plums, juicy but not too sweet on the fruit. The elements of spiced tea, pepper and bay leaf add a nice spicy kick, with notes of rose petals and cola. Surprising amount of personality for a $12 Spanish Pinot Noir, which is not a statement I’ve made before. Stainless steel fermented and aged nine months in old oak. (86 points IJB)

2015 Bodega Inurrieta Norte - Spain, Navarra
SRP: $14
Light purple color. The nose shows lots of spiced coffee, black pepper, clove, on top of juicy raspberry, black cherries and plum sauce. Full-bodied, velvety, accessible feel on the palate with medium acidity. Tangy black currants and sweet black cherries, the fruit is laced with lots of spicy black pepper, clove, leather. I like the savory kick here. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, this is a tasty, crowd-pleasing, barbecue-friendly red blend from Navarra for a solid price. (87 points IJB)

2017 Early Mountain Vineyards Cabernet FrancUSA, Virginia, Shenandoah Valley
SRP: $30earlymtn
Light purple color. On the nose, I get black cherries, juicy plums, cassis, along with a complex mix of anise, licorice, menthol and charcoal. Plush on the palate yet structured well with medium tannins and vibrant, crisp acidity, and the texture and balance are on point. Black cherries, cassis, laced with violets, spicy pepper, cocoa, earth, mint, coffee. With air, this opens up nicely and shows more spicy, floral tones. This is a really exciting Virginia Cabernet Franc. All Cabernet Franc sourced from Baer Ridge and Shenandoah Springs vineyards. (90 points IJB)

2017 Early Mountain Chardonnay - USA, Virginia, Central Virginia, Madison County
SRP: $30
Light yellow color. Such a burst of freshness on the nose, with lime, lemon, chalk dust, sea salt, white flowers and orange blossom. Plump and generous on the palate yet there’s a nervy, salty, chalk-infused vibrancy to this wine that doesn’t quit. Peaches and lemon curd mix nicely with complex elements of chalk dust, honeysuckle, floral perfume, lemon pith and a hint of green herbs. Deep yet bright, this is a stunner of a Virginia Chardonnay, sourced from Early Mountain and Quaker Run vineyards. Fermented in French oak, less than 20% was new. I’d love to see how this ages. (90 points IJB)

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