Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 10-31-2020

Happy Saturday, and I hope, if you’re reading this, you are healthy and well. This week, I have a mix of wines from different, interesting regions.

Tasca d’Almerita produces a wide range of delicious, value-driven wines from Sicily. These are zesty, bright white wines from indigenous grapes, and the Etna Rosso packs a lot of punch for the price.

I’ve written a lot about Arizona wines in the past, since I’ve been visiting the state to hike and visit family for the past 10 years or so. The Arizona wine scene is diverse, and my favorites tend to be hard to find. But Aridus, based in the high-elevation region of Willcox, makes more widely-available wines that offer a good introduction to what the state has to offer.

Living in DC, I will admit my local bias: I am passionate about the land and wines of the commonwealth of Virginia. I recently joined a virtual chat with Virginia wine guru Frank Morgan and four wine producers to taste and talk about what’s going on in Virginia wine these days. If you haven’t tried Virginia Petit Manseng or Petit Verdot, and are up for venturing out into new territory, there are two excellent examples in this report.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. 

2019 Tasca D’Almerita Tenuta Capofaro Didyme Italy, Sicily, Salina IGT
SRP: $26
Light yellow color. Peachy and tropical on the nose with pineapple and guava topped in orange blossom and honeysuckle. Juicy and plump on the palate, medium acidity, with papaya, peach nectar and lemon. Lots of floral, herbal components woven in nicely. It’s fun and approachable but quite a lot going on for it as well. 100% Malvasia di Lipari, aged 4 months on the lees in stainless steel. (88 points IJB)

2019 Tasca D’Almerita Tenuta Whitaker Grillo Italy, Sicily, Mozia
SRP $22
Light yellow color. Nose shows zesty, bright elements of white flowers, oregano and mint over top of peaches and limes. On the palate this is punchy and peachy with bright acid and a light, fresh appeal. Peaches, limes and papaya mix with notes of basil, white flowers and chalk dust. Fun, lively but shows complexity, too. 100% Grillo aged three months on the lees in stainless steel. (88 points IJB)

2019 Tasca D’Almerita Tenuta Tascante Buonora Etna Bianco Italy, Sicily, Etna
SRP: $21
Pale straw color. Aromas show daisies, peach blossom, with guava, lime, wild green herbs. On the palate, this is punchy, creamy but bright and focused with peaches, guava, lemons, along with notes of saline, celery seed and salty minerals. Flinty, floral, fresh, a lot of complex, vibrant elements. Made from Carricante, all stainless steel, no maloactic fermentation. (89 points IJB)

2017 Tasca D’Almerita Tenuta Tascante Ghiaia Nera Etna Rosso Italy, Sicily, Etna
SRP: $21
Pale ruby, autumnal color. Aromas of spicy herbs, clove and black pepper mix well with juicy raspberries, wild cherries, spicy red currants. Medium-bodied, dusty and crisp on the palate, this is accessible and vibrant but shows solid complexity as well. Tangy red cherries and currants, blended with airy, floral, wild herb tones (rose petals, crushed limestone, oregano, black pepper. Dusty, earthy, mineral tones on the finish. Fun, friendly, inviting, but sports depth and balance as well. All Nerello Mascalese, aged 24 months in Slavoniak oak. (90 points IJB)

2015 Aridus Chardonnay Barrel Select USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley
SRP: $47
Rich yellow color. Aromas of lemon curd and bruised pear with salted peanut, pecans, whipped butter. Plump texture on a medium-bodied frame with balanced acid and notes of nougat, honeycomb, butterscotch and white tea to mix with the apricot and yellow apple fruit. A fun, crowd-friendly style. (86 points IJB)

2016 Aridus Grenache USA, Arizona, Cochise County
SRP: $40
Deep raspberry color. Nose shows melted red licorice with spicy red currants and raspberries, topped in smoky earth, a dry rub of paprika, pepper and red pepper flakes. On the palate, this is a medium/full-bodied wine with a juicy and fun appeal, low tannins, medium/low acidity. Cherries and raspberries mix with pepper, clove, paprika and rose petals. Ripe but nuanced. Showing freshness and spiciness – solid introduction to Arizona’s take on Rhone varieties. Includes 10% Graciano, aged 18 months in oak. (88 points IJB)

2017 Aridus Tempranillo USA, Arizona
SRP: $40
Deep purple color. Aromas show jams of sweet raspberries and red cherries, along with some tobacco, smoky earth, warm clay and mesquite smoke. Plush texture on a medium-bodied palate with some moderate acidity for balance, showing a smooth, chewy but fresh approach.  Jammy raspberry and plum fruit mixed with notes of oregano, creosote, dusty earth. Ripe and fun, but fresh and shows savory complexity – a killer grill wine that could also age for a few. (88 points IJB)

2017 Aridus Petite Sirah USA, Arizona, Cochise County
SRP: $39
Dark purple color. On the nose, I get blackberry, roasted figs, with black pepper, pine, wild herb tones. Full-bodied, the tannins have this chewy feel and medium/low acidity holds it together. The blackberry and black currant fruit mixes well with notes of tar, dark chocolate, black tea and some mineral, rocky tones and cedar. If you’re a Petite Sirah fan, and interested in Arizona wines, you have to check this one out. Aged in 90% new oak for 28 months. (88 points IJB)

2018 Acrobat Winery Pinot Gris USA, Oregon
SRP: $15
Light yellow, copper-tinged color. Perfumed aromas of dandelion and magnolia petals, with cucumber slices, over top white peach and kiwi fruit. Texture is juicy and ripe with pleasantly balanced, bright acidity. Lemon and white peach fruit blend with verbena, dandelion, some chalky, flinty tones. Quite complex and balanced for a wine at this price point. Solid value! (88 points IJB)

2018 Narmada Winery Chardonel Mom USA, Virginia, Northern Virginia, Rappahannock County
SRP: $21
Light yellow color. Bright aromas of lemons and peaches and lots of tropical flowers, topped with nettle and sea salt notes. Juicy chunks of pineapple, peach and papaya on the palate, but this is a focused wine with precise acidity. The 1.7% residual sugar is woven in really well, and the acidity keeps this zesty and fresh. Lots of floral complexity, verbena, mint, sea salt. Really interesting stuff, worth checking out, especially for the price. It made me think of a blend between Alsace and Alto Adige white wines. A stainless steel blend of Vidal Blanc, Chardonel and Chardonnay. (88 points IJB)

2018 Walsh Family Wine Petit Manseng North Gate Vineyard USA, Virginia, Northern Virginia, Loudoun County
SRP: $30
Light gold color. Delicious, inviting nose of white peaches, guava, limes, along with honey, white flowers and a cool kick of sea salt and chalk dust. Plump texture but the acidity is focused and sharp, mixed with juicy nectarines, peaches and lemons. I get complex elements of almond skin, honeyed green tea, with rushing minerals and chalk dust. Deep but precise, complex but gluggable, this is a beautiful Petit Manseng that should age nicely. (90 points IJB)

2018 Blenheim Vineyards Cabernet Franc USA, Virginia
SRP: $22
Vibrant purple color. Juicy, fresh aromas of plums, tangy blackberries and black cherries, with smoky, earthy tones, anise and magic marker. Accessible on the palate with dusty tannins and fresh acidity, with a core of tangy black cherry and blackberry fruit. Notes of violets, tobacco, mint mix with graphite and cedar. Tangy, fresh, but enough depth, too. Delicious and a solid value, reliable Virginia Cab Franc. Sourced from two sites in Shenandoah and Southern Virginia. Aged nine months in 90% French and 10% American oak. (88 points IJB)

2017 Williamsburg Winery Petit Verdot Reserve USA, Virginia
SRP: $49
Vibrant purple color. Nose shows tart dark currants and plums, saucy black cherries, with smoky, graphite, charcoal tones, cocoa powder and some leather, too. Vibrant acidity meet grippy tannins, and the balance is impressive. The fruit is a warm, tart compote of blackberry and black currant, tossed with oregano, anise, roasted coffee, cocoa, cedar and graphite. Lovely now but this deserves some time in the cellar (four to six or so). All Petit Verdot, aged in 40% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

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