Wine Reviews: European Roundup

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-09-2023

This week I have a round-up of new releases from France, Spain, and Italy.

My first international wine trip was a deep dive into the Languedoc region of Southern France ten years ago. I was blown away by the history, the different terroirs and wines, the rock outcroppings, and gnarly old vines. Today, I’m revisiting Southern France with four diverse wines, classic styles, and varied regions. The quality and value in these wines has always been attractive to me, and that trend continues here.

I also have some really interesting Tuscan red blends for the Super Tuscan lovers out there. Podere Sapaio and Tenuta Luce deliver some cellar worthy gems.

In summer, Albarino has been a favorite of mine for a long time. And it is expressed most clearly in Spain’s Rias Baixas region. But there are also a ton of styles and nuances in the different subregions and producers. This week, I have a few that would hit the spot this summer.

These wines were received as samples and tasted sighted.


2022 Château Haut-Gleon Corbières Rosé France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Corbières
SRP: $20
Such pale pink color. Aromatically, this pops with fresh strawberries, crunchy red apples, with sliced rhubarb, white pepper, celery seed, with flinty, fresh blossom notes. Creamy texture, surprisingly deep, but super tangy acidity, and flavors of white cherries and strawberries. The fruit mixes with fresh cucumber, rhubarb, celery, with white and yellow flowers, and notes of honey and dandelion. Vibrant, well-balanced, a complex rose that would be great this summer or any time of year. A blend of Grenache Gris, Sauvignon Gris, Syrah, and Marselan. (90 points IJB)

2022 Fleurs de Prairie Côtes de Provence Rosé France, Provence, Côtes de Provence
SRP: $20
Pale copper color. The nose shows a spritely mix of red apples, wild raspberries, crunchy red apples, with chalk dust, flinty minerals, celery seed, and mint. The palate is light and racy with a brisk appeal and flavors of green melon, crunchy green and red apples, with notes of sea salt, dandelion, white pepper, minerals, chalk dust. Fun a vibrant. Grenache Noir, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. (87 points IJB)

N.V. Jean-Claude Mas Crémant de Limoux Cote Mas France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Crémant de Limoux
SRP: $22
Light gold color. Aromas are vibrant and perfumed, with tart green and red apples, white peach, along with apple cider, spiced tea, some crunchy, herbal tones. The palate shows a ripe texture but brisk appeal with flavors of orange peel, white peach, and crunchy green apples. Flinty, floral, crushed shells and sweet tart tones, with a nice herbal, salty appeal. Such a fun, modern example of an ancient wine, one that would be great by-the-glass or for summer celebrations. Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Muazac. (89 points)

2020 Château d’Aussieres Corbières Altan d’Aussières France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Corbières
SRP: $25
Deep purple color. Super juicy, dark and vibrant aromas with a spicy, sun-roasted mix of delightful scents: black pepper, paprika, menthol, roasted herbs, warm clay – classic Languedoc goodness. The wine is full but fresh, a chewy mouthfeel with rich flavors of black cherries and dark plums. The complexities are classic and delightful, with notes of dusty earth, tobacco, anise, savory broth, sage, roasted red pepper. There are deep tones of mocha and black tea as well, with gravelly loam and black pepper. Fruity and easy-drinking but complex and woven together so well, too. I love the value and flair of Corbieres, and this one is sure worth checking out. Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan. (90 points IJB)


2022 Mar de Frades Albariño Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas
SRP: $27
Light yellow color. The nose pops with spritely elements of sea salt, chalk dust, along with lemon, quince, tart green apples, and tones of dandelion and white flowers. The palate sports racy acidity and crunchy fruit of yellow and green apples and some tangy kiwi. There’s a nice mix of yellow and white flowers, along with saline, oyster shells, steely flinty vibes. So crisp and friendly but nice complexity as well. Summertime, beat-the-heat goodness for sure. (88 points IJB)

2021 Bodegas La Val Albariño Finca de Arantei Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas
SRP: $18
Medium yellow color. Nose is peachy keen with cantaloupe and lemon, plenty of slate, chalk dust, white and yellow flowers. On the palate, this is precise and clear with juicy yellow pears, white peach, lemon zest, along with a salty, pure vibe, with jetty rocks, sea breeze, and notes of honey, peach tart, some creamy depth. Super fun, love the juiciness and balance. (90 points IJB)

2022 Attis Bodegas y Vinedos Albariño Lias Finas Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas
SRP: $20
Rich yellow color. Fresh and floral aromas with white peach, guava, lime, topped in honeysuckle, mint, hat, some crushed shells and sea salt. The palate is creamy but super vibrant, with flavors of ripe peach and yellow apples, lime zest. Racy and crunchy but has a nice textural depth and the balance is impressive. Floral, perfume, sea salt. Bring on oysters or clams and this would do wonderfully. (89 points IJB)

2022 Adega Condes de Albarei Albariño Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas
SRP: $19
Light yellow. Bursting with white peach, guava, lime zest, a punchy and floral vibe with fresh celery and hints of mint, some sea salt – really fresh and enticing. The palate is crisp on a medium-bodied frame with a surprising and pleasant creaminess. Summery and floral with cantaloupe, white peach, and green apples. Yellow flowers, fresh cut flower stems, along with saline, hay, some peach nectar. This wine is zippy and complex and begs for grilled prawns and an afternoon on the beach. (89 points IJB)


2019 Podere Sapaio Toscana IGT Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
SRP: $94
Deep ruby color. The aromas show a deep but vibrant mix of black cherries, plum cake, tart currant, with stony, violets, spiced tea, anise – a lot to parse through. The palate shows nice grip, tangy acidity, and delightful balance. Flavors of tangy plums, black currants, wild blueberries, laced with complex tones of violets, black pepper, paprika, smoky earth, floral potpourri, and complex tones of graphite and minerals. Deep, stony, with savory tones that need time and air to come out and show their best. Love this stuff, and would love to see where it goes in five to 10 years. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot and 10% Cabernet Franc. A Super Tuscan worth checking out! (93 points IJB)

2020 Tenuta Luce Toscana Luce Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
SRP: $130
Ripe purple color. A gorgeous nose of raspberries, red currant, saucy black cherries (the fruit is amazing), mixed with complex notes of tobacco, tar, pepper, anise, with nuances of charcoal and dried violets. The palate is juicy and fleshy in a great way, buttressed by structured but fine-edged tannins and lively acidity. The fruit is pretty and delicious with raspberries and red and black currants. The non-fruit flavors are great – charcoal, tobacco, violets, sun-dried tomato, anise, pepper, leather, cocoa. This is a beaut, and while it will age wonderfully, I’m surprised by how refined and expressive it is at this youthful stage. Merlot and Sangiovese, aged 24 months in 80% new oak. (93 points IJB)

2015 Sartori di Verona Amarone della Valpolicella Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Amarone della Valpolicella
SRP: $34
Vibrant purple color. Deep and dark with blackberry, oozing with black currants, dark chocolate, mint, with coffee, black tea, anise, smoky earth, minerals. The palate is deep and full, rich and suave, with a dense but expressive feel. Tangy blackberries, blueberries, laced with notes of anise, roasted red peppers, with stony minerals, rich mocha and coffee, dark chocolate, and tones and toffee and pepper. Lovely stuff, and serious value! A blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Cabernet Sauvignon. (90 points IJB)

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