Wine Reviews: Autumnal Selections

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 10-15-2022

Autumn is in full swing, and I am loving it. I’ve been enjoying cool morning birdwatching walks, seeing the leaves start to change and evenings spent cooking up soups, stews and braised meat dishes after a long summer.

I’m looking forward to hosting friends and family over the coming weeks, and, of course, planning some wines to share.

I’m always stocking up on whites, pinks and bubbles around this time of year, and I’ve got a few selections that would be versatile options for the upcoming season. For sparklers, I have an interesting new project to share: Vara from sparkling wine guru Laurent Gruet. This Brut blends Washington state Chardonnay with some Cava grapes from Spain – and the result is pretty darn cool.

Italian reds will definitely be a big feature of my fall and winter meal planning, and I’ll share some really nice ones this week. Founded in 1857, Bertani knows what they’re doing with Amarone, and their 2011 Amarone Classico is a stunner. And I have some value-driven reds that would be great for big gatherings.

I also have two awesome wines from Shaw-Ross Imports, a delightful aged Gavi from La Scolca and a beautiful Chilean red from Eduardo Chadwick and Robert Mondavi’s Seña.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Rosé, white and sparkling

2021 Vinhos Sogrape Mateus Rosé Portugal
SRP: $13

Deep copper color. Aromas of white cherries, raspberries, red apple peel, along with white flowers, honeysuckle, some chalk dust and mint. Bright and spritely on the palate with raspberries and tart white cherry fruit. There’s a pleasant creaminess and waxiness to the texture with tones of white pepper, honeysuckle, along with some talc and mineral tones. Ripe, pleasant, crisp, food-friendly and fun. (87 points IJB)

N.V. Vara Silverhead Brut USA, American
SRP: $25

Palest copper color. Gorgeous aromas of dough, hay, chalk dust and limestone, with white cherry and raspberry fruit, with floral perfume tones as well. Crisp, nervy and focused on the palate, this has a salty, briny appeal but also nice depth, with juicy white cherry and red apple fruit. Flavors of biscuits, almond and hay mix with saline and mineral-infused goodness. Has a brisk, clear feel but a lot of cool, complex elements. An interesting mix of 72% Chardonnay from the Ancient Lakes AVA in Washington, with 25% Xarel-lo/Macabeo from the Penedés in Spain, and a 3% shot of Syrah from Washington as well. An 8 g/l dosage, aged 18 months, disgorged May 2022. (91 points IJB)

2008 La Scolca Gavi D’Antan Italy, Piedmont, Gavi
SRP: $100

Deep lemon color. The aromas have such a dynamic and shifting display, with spiced tea, honey, and bread crumbs over lemon and orange peels and these chalky, saline-infused elements. The palate shows deep texture, a honeyed feel but so taut and nervy as well, with orange peel and lemon curd. There’s this stony, mineral, salty essence throughout that is great, and complex elements of white tea, mint and umami come out with time. Fascinating and delicious, worth seeking out if you’re into unique, aged whites. Their flagship white from Rovereto in Gavi, it’s a Cortese that’s aged for 10 years before release. (94 points IJB)

N.V. Luretta Principessa Emilia IGT Italy, Emilia-Romagna, Emilia IGT
SRP: $25

Pale lemon color. A refreshing aromatic display of lemons, orange peel and yellow apples, with tones of crushed chalk, talc, fresh biscuits, with white tea and honeysuckle. Delightfully creamy and plush texture combines with racy acidity, which supports the creamy yellow apples and lemon pie flavors. Balanced sugar, notes of saline, enjoyable bread dough and biscuit flavors, topped in some crushed chalk and notes of verbena. This is a fun, fresh, classic method Chardonnay that would be a great idea on for a holiday party or a by-the-glass list at a restaurant that doesn’t shy away from spice. (88 points IJB)


2019 Seña Chile, Aconcagua Valley
SRP: $125

Deep purple color. Beautiful, deep aromas of plums, black currants and tart wild blueberries, supported by a complex host of mint, anise, coffee, loamy soil, tobacco and campfire – a ton going on here. Grippy tannins, refined edges, and vibrant acidity makes for a tangy, dark and balanced wine. The plum, currant and black cherry fruit is tangy and pure, laced with mesquite, black pepper, loamy earth and graphite, roasted red pepper. The complexity of flavors is matched with seamless integration, and this wine, while expressive now, deserves a few years and a really good decant to show its stuff. Cabernet Sauvignon with 21% Malbec, 15% Carmenere, 4% Petit Verdot, aged 22 months in 80% new French oak. (94 points IJB)

2014 Azienda Agricola Spadafora Nero d’Avola Schietto Italy, Sicily, Terre Siciliane
SRP: $45

Medium purple color. The nose is delightfully spicy, like grilled meats topped in black pepper, anise, tar, menthol, over a deep core of saucy plum and black fruit, showing nuanced of age but liveliness for the cellar. On the palate, the tannins are refined and dusty, backed up by tart currant and mulled black cherry fruit. I get a lot of pepper, clove, campfire, anise and clay/earthy tones, along with floral potpourri. Complex, delicious, lovely mouthfeel, this is a Nero d’Avola that offers a lot to ponder and enjoy, and I’d be interested to see what this does with another few years in the cellar, too. (92 points IJB)

2020 Caldora Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
SRP: $15

Bright purple color. Aromas of juicy cherries, raspberry and strawberry jam, along with rose petals, white pepper, a friendly, inviting aromatic display. Ripe tannins and medium acidity make for a vibrant but chewy feel with black cherries and raspberry jam fruit. Juicy and fun but shows some nice complexity in terms of pepper, violets, clove, tar and some dried rose petals. A lively, crowd-pleasing Montepulicano at a very reasonable price. Aged nine months in oak. (87 points IJB)

2020 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Le Orme Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d’Asti
SRP: $18

Vibrant ruby color. Lovely fruit on the nose (juicy blackberries, spiced cranberry relish) with secondary notes of pepper, savory broth, bright red flowers, some earthy tones. Vibrant acidity, a juicy feel with smooth tannins, it makes for a balanced and lively wine. Tangy black cherries and bright red plum fruit mix with tobacco, clay, fallen leaves, adding lots of complexity and depth. Crowd-pleasing but offers nerds a lot to love, too, this is a great bottle to add to the holiday gathering table. Really solid value. (90 points IJB)

2018 Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico Riserva Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
SRP: $40

Bright purple color. The nose shows juicy black cherries, red currants, laced with charcoal, tar, tobacco, balanced with this brighter floral and spicy herbal tones. Structured well, delightfully chewy tannins and moderate-plus acidity makes for a juicy but fresh wine with raspberries, black cherries and currant fruit. Complex notes of tobacco, sage, black olive, violets and black pepper add complexity, but they need air and some time to show their stuff. Drink now or hold for a while, but this is a solid Chianti Classico. (91 points IJB)

2011 Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
SRP: $130

Deep purple color. An amazing aromatic display of tart currants, roasted figs, sweet black cherries, with a host of complex herbal tea, violets, toffee, chewing tobacco, and these rocky/earthy tones. Lots to ponder and sniff with air. Full and deep on the palate, solid grip, while the moderate acidity keeps it focused. Pure, deep fruit (plums, currants, roasted figs and boysenberry) mix with delicious flavors of clove, violet, tobacco, soy and mushroom tones, and there’s a stony, gravelly, mineral vibe underneath that is delightful. 80% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, aged six years and oak and a year in bottle, this will age gracefully for many years, or enjoy over a few cold nights. (95 points IJB)

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