Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-18-2019

This week I have a few wines from around the globe that didn’t fit nicely into a larger tasting theme. But, these are wines I want to highlight for several reasons.

Argentina’s Domaine Bousquet is a producer I’ve grown to associate with quality wines and very low prices, and the 2018 “Virgen” red blend for $13 is a great example.

M. Chapoutier’s Bila-Haut label returns once again with an exceptional L’Esquerda red blend. And I also enjoyed some wines from Maryland’s Big Cork Vineyards, a reliably good producer in this state.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2018 Domaine Bousquet Virgen - Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco, Tupungato
SRP: $13
Bright purple color. Juicy and lively aromatics of roasted figs, plum sauce, black cherries, with smoky charcoal, black pepper and leather notes. Fresh and bright on the palate with light tannins and medium-plus acidity. Fun and fresh but loaded with fruit (black cherries, plums, fig paste), and backed up with notes of charcoal, coffee and leather. Lots and lots to offer for a wine at this price point, and this lighter, fresher, more savory style is really interesting to see at $13 or less. 35% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc. (87 points IJB)

2017 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon Villages Domaine de Bila-Haut L’Esquerda - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages
SRP: $28
Deep purple color. Dark but lovely nose of roasted plums, black currants and cherries, along with deep, pure, fruit, I get complex notes of pepper, leather, scorched earth, grilled herbs, lavender. Full-bodied on the palate with solid structure but the tannins are rounded around the edges, and the acidity is medium. Black cherries, cassis and blueberry, the fruit is loaded with complex pepper, sage, leather, clove anise, roasted chestnut and that lavender note again, which is a really cool accent. Deep, complex, vibrant, drinking well now but will improve with a few years in the cellar for sure. Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault sourced from a 40+ year-old vines, a single-vineyard planted in granite and schist soils. (91 points IJB)

2014 Ruffino Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Ducale Oro - Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
SRP: $41
Light purple color. Aromatic and inviting with notes of cherries, plums, cedar, mint, tobacco, graphite, with smoky tones as well. Full yet velvety with medium-dusty tannins and lively acidity. Cherries and plums, a nice tangy edge to the fruit, with a complex mix of incense, rose hips, tobacco, pepper and earth. Coffee and cedar notes woven in well, this is balanced, fun and fresh but shows solid complexity. 85% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, and 5% Colorino. (89 points IJB)

2018 Ovum Big SaltUSA, Oregon, Southern Oregon, Elkton
SRP: $18
Pale lemon color. The nose pops with peach nectar, guava, lemon juice, along with lemon verbena, mint, chalk dust and some sea salt. Medium-bodied on the palate with a lightly creamy texture and medium-plus acidity. Peachy, juicy and fun, tropical yet salty and bright, not too rich or nectary. Floral, spiced tea, and honeyed notes add complexity. Everything is balanced quite nicely, and I love the freshness in here. Really good value. 45% Riesling, 45% Gewurztraminer, 8% Early Muscat, and 2% other white varieties, co-fermented in stainless steel. (88 points IJB)

2017 Big Cork Vineyards ViognierUSA, Maryland
thumbnail (6)SRP: $27
Light yellow color. On the nose, a nice mix of lime, white peach, papaya, with brighter notes of sea salt, honeysuckle, white pepper and crushed chalk. Medium+ bodied, pleasant texture, but this has surprisingly fresh acidity, and the balance is lovely. There’s honeyed depth with notes of marmalade, almond and wax, but it shows a ton of vibrancy, with juicy white peaches, limes, notes of honeysuckle and chalk. For those who have grown wary of chunky Viogniers, this is a real treat, and worth seeking out. Includes 6% Chardonnay, 13.3% alcohol. (88 points IJB)

2016 Big Cork Vineyards Cabernet FrancUSA, Maryland
SRP: $47
Light purple color. Spicy, earthy nose of pepper, smoke, leather and bell pepper (inviting scents to this Loire-lover), along with cherries and plums. Medium+ bodied, medium-light tannins, crisp acidity, this has a structured but accessible and zesty feel. Cherries and plums mix well with bell pepper, leather, smoke, anise, but it’s woven in nicely. Dusty yet bright, with pleasantly spicy and earthy appeal. All estate Cabernet Franc aged 15 months in oak. (87 points IJB)

2016 Big Cork Vineyards Cabernet Franc Black Label Vintner Select - USA, Maryland
SRP: $70
Deep ruby color. The nose shows sweet red cherries, black cherries, plum sauce, along with sweet clove, anise, spiced black tea and cedar. On the palate, the wine combines medium tannins with refreshing acidity and rich but tangy fruit (plums, black and red cherries), and the combination is velvety and quite balanced. Lots of complex flavors of bitter black tea, anise, clove, charcoal, along with cedar and coffee notes. I’d love to age this for 5-8 years, or if drinking now, give this a good decant, because it really blossoms with air. All estate Cabernet Franc aged 29 months in barrel. (89 points IJB)

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