Wine Reviews: Valentine’s Day Selections

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 02-06-2021

This Valentine’s Day is much different than others, given the global pandemic. But, in the spirit of looking on the bright side, I’ve gathered together some wines that may help bring some joy to your Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re cooking at home or grabbing some takeout, here’s wishing you a happy and loving time with you and yours. (And, don’t worry, I don’t have any wine and chocolate pairings.)

There are plenty of bubbles in this report, including Moscato, Cava and Champagne. There are some solid inexpensive options in this report (because who couldn’t use some savings these days).

Southern Rhone blends, and specifically Cotes du Rhone wines, are largely responsible for getting me to take wine seriously. When I was first getting into wine, I loved the accessible price points and the vibrant, spicy, food-friendly appeal. I still love these wines, and I have a few delightful examples that offer value and quality.

California wines always have a place in my heart, so I’ve chosen a few that recently stuck out and seem like good choices for a wide range of palates.

Lastly, I included two wines from Oregon’s Troon Vineyard because, well, I love them.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

N.V. Domaine Bousquet Brut Rosé – Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $13
Vibrant pink color. A steely, chalky nose with white flowers and tart strawberries, mint. Bright and tangy on the palate with light strawberry and white cherry fruits. Steely, bright appeal with wildflowers, dandelion, lemon verbena and some chalky notes. Simple, inexpensive, fun, salad and seafood-friendly stuff. A 75/25 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. (86 points IJB)

N.V. Laurent-Perrier Champagne La Cuvée – France, Champagne
SRP: $50
Medium yellow color. Lovely nose of biscuits, chalk, sea salt, with lemon-lime, kiwi, ginger, fresh laundry and white floral tones. The palate is framed with precise acidity, and has solid depth of texture. Tangy lemons and limes with yellow apples, and the fruit is backed up by elements of graham cracker, honey, bread dough and shaved ginger. Fresh, versatile, complex, this is juicy but focused, a solid big house Champagne. (90 points IJB)

2018 Clos Bellane Côtes du Rhône Villages Valréas – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages Valréas
SRP: $23
Plummy aromas with deep blackberries, smoky earth with these peppery, grilled lamb and warm clay tones. On the palate, this is full but fresh with moderating acidity and moderate tannins, deep but inviting compote of plums, blueberries and blackberries. Notes of violets, peppered steak, glazed mushroom and balsamic glaze, and these mineral and graphite tones on the finish. Fresh and approachable but also complex and even age-worthy. Great value here. A wine for newbs and nerds alike. (91 points IJB)

2018 Delas Frères Côtes du Rhône Saint-Esprit – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
SRP: $12
Medium purple color. Aromas of plums, suave black cherries and blueberries, with tar, roses, anise, campfire tones. Full-bodiee with chewy texture and medium acidity, a voluptuous style with blueberries and black cherry compote. Notes of cocoa, scorched earth, tar and cigar shop add complexity, some violets and clay thrown in. This is a nice CdR for a cold, wintry night, and a solid value. 60% Syrah, 40% Grenache. (87 points IJB)

2017 Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône Villages France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages
SRP: $15

Light purple color. Aromas of roasted figs and cherry preserves, with smoky earth, violets, paprika, tilled soil. Medium-bodied with smooth tannins and medium acidity. Accessible and fun with roasted figs, black cherries, summery fruit laced with pepper, earth, campfire smoke. Accessible, fun, but sporting some complexity for the price as well. (87 points IJB)

2017 Stéphane Ogier Côtes du Rhône Le temps est venu – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
SRP: $20
A nice, inviting mix of black currants and tart cherries on the nose, with roses, violets, and spicy, complex tones of pepper, paprika and scorched earth. Medium/full-bodied with a chewy texture, velvety tannins, bright acidity keeps if fresh. Plums, black cherries and blackberry fruit shows a tangy but bold feel, and the fruit is backed up by pepper, clove, grilled steak and anise tones. Surprisingly refreshing and complex, it’s accessible but “serious” and a serious food-friendly, crowd-pleasing value 60% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre. (90 points IJB)

2019 Vietti Moscato d’Asti Cascinetta Vietti – Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Moscato d’Asti
SRP: $16
Light straw color. The aromas pop with white peaches, guava and kiwi, along with a tropical burst of orange blossoms and honeysuckle. On the palate, this is sweet and juicy but the acidity is lovely, and keeps it fresh and steers away from being cloying. Guava, canned peaches, farm fresh apple cider tones, with these floral perfume and honeysuckle tones. Crushable but focused and shows surprising balance. For those (like me) who aren’t big fans of Moscato, this is just undeniably good and a lot of fun. (88 points IJB)

N.V. Vilarnau Cava Brut Reserva – Spain, Cava
SRP: $15
Medium gold color. Aromas of yellow apples, white flowers, new tennis ball, honey. Light and fresh with plump yellow apple and zesty lemon fruit. Chalky, stony tones, with some graham cracker and honey. Juicy, bright, sugar woven in nicely. Easy-drinking, sporting complexity and deliciousness for a low price point. Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, aged 15 months in bottle. (86 points IJB)

N.V. Vilarnau Cava Rosé Brut Reserva – Spain, Cava
SRP: $16
Deep copper color. Nose shows tart strawberries, white cherries, with straw, chalk and talc tones, white flowers. Zippy and crunchy on the palate with a brisk , drier, focused feel. Raspberry, strawberry and white cherry fruit mix with some baguette, lemon verbena/mint tones, sliced cucumber and chalk elements. Crisp, focused, and shows a lot for the price. I’d rather sip this with some seafood or charcuterie over a lot of widely-available bubbles at twice the price. (88 points IJB)

2019 Gamble Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Gamble Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville
SRP: $28
Light yellow color. The nose pops with lemons, grapefruit, kiwi, mixed with lemongrass, ramp leaves, chalk and white tea. Plush texture meets refreshing, mouth-watering acidity for a delightful balance. Grapefruit, lemon and kiwi fruit mix well with lemongrass, mint and sliced cucumber tones. Rushing minerals and stony notes follow, and there’s a clear, racy finish. Value and class abound in this Napa Sauv Blanc. (90 points IJB)

2018 William Hill Winery Chardonnay Benchmark USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $75
Deep yellow color. Rich, inviting nose of yellow pears, bruised apples, with nutmeg, cinnamon, hay, honey and yellow flowers. The palate shows plush texture, creamy and buttery, but moderate acidity, too. Yellow apples, apricots and pears, the fruit is generous but lively, not overdone. The honey butter, nutmeg and nougat are matched with minerality, stony and chalky tones. Deep but harmonious, delicious but crisp, too. This should open up nicely with a few years, too. Aged 15 months in all new French oak. (91 points IJB)

2020 Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Rosé Winemaker’s Release – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $25
Pale salmon color. A forward, inviting but bright nose showing lemon, raspberry and kiwi fruit, along with hay, daisies, mint and clover. Dry, zippy, fresh and focused on the palate with fruit more like white cherries and McIntosh apples. Honeysuckle, clover and hint of celery seed. Lots of character and complexity in this direct press rose from estate Pinot grown in Vine Hill Ranch and Owsley Estate. (90 points IJB)

2018 Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $38
Vibrant purple color. The nose shows smoky, beefy, peppery tones that accentuate the tart black currant and blackberry fruit, with notes of violets and graphite. Vibrant acidity frames this wine nice, full-bodied, velvety tannins, it’s wrapped together nicely. Tangy black currant and blueberry fruit blends with these elements of black tea, pepper, violets, anise, scorched earth. The complexity and balance are really something. This is delightful now, but I’d love to see it age five years. Aged 16 months in 1/3 new French oak. (91 points IJB)

2017 Mi Sueño Syrah – USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $55
Dark purple color. A deep, saucy but welcoming nose of blueberries and black currants, wrapped in mesquite, smoky earth, black pepper, leather and clove. Full-bodied, refined tannins, the acidity is quite fresh and keeps this wine moving forward. Deep plums and black currant fruit, mixing well with menthol, mesquite, black pepper, and some balsamic and mushroom glaze. Savory, peppery kick on the finish is welcomed, and the oaky tones are woven in well. Could use air for sure or a few years, but this is a whole lot of Napa Syrah goodness. All Syrah, spends 20 months in 55% new French oak. (91 points IJB)

2018 Troon Vineyard Tannat Estate – USA, Oregon, Southern Oregon, Applegate Valley
SRP: $45
Deep purple color. The nose exudes juicy, dark plums, blackberries, but there’s liveliness to the fruit, too, along with roses, violets, tilled soil and black pepper. Medium/full-bodied, crisp acidity, strong tannic grip but the edges aren’t harsh, nicely balanced. Tangy black cherries and tart blueberry fruit blends with cocoa, coffee, graphite, violets, tobacco. This needs air and/or time to open up but it’s already expressive, and the earthiness and freshness are really attractive. All Tannat aged two years in old French oak. (91 points IJB)

2018 Troon Vineyard Cuvée Pyrénées – USA, Oregon, Southern Oregon, Applegate Valley
SRP: $65
Boisterous purple color. The nose is great, starting off with smoky, beefy, peppery, anise tones, along with graphite and violets, over top of tart black currants and black cherries. Vibrant acidity is really great in here, balancing out the sturdy grip, while the tart blackberry and tangy black currant fruit carries the wine forward. Pepper, black tea, violets, clove, anise, tar, the complexities are great. This is delightful and I’d love to see what this does with six to eight years of age. 70% Tannat and 30% Malbec, co-fermented with native yeasts, aged two years in old French oak. (92 points IJB)

Comments are closed.