Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-22-2021

It’s been a very long time since I’ve traveled internationally, and with no plans for the future, I’m assuaging my travel lust this week with a mix of wines from all over the world.

I have some solid French wines in this report, including a diverse group of wines from the Languedoc region, some summer-friendly pink wines, and a delightful Chateauneuf. There are a few interesting wines from Germany (including a stellar Riesling), and some value from Portugal as well. Some crushable yet complex New Zealand reds make quite an impression, too.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2020 Domaine De Cala Côteaux Varois Rosé – France, Provence, Côteaux Varois
SRP: $20
Aromas of lemon, lime and guava, topped in sliced cucumber, chalk, hay and verbena. Light and zippy on the palate with crunchy, steely vibes, and flavors of grapefruit, orange peel and limes. Notes of white flowers, sea salt and celery seed add some complexity. Fresh, fun, springy-summery, salad-friendly rose. Grenache, Cinsault, Rolle and Syrah. (88 points IJB)

2019 Domaine Montrose Côtes de Thongue Rosé – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Côtes de Thongue
SRP : $15
Pale salmon color. Aromas of peaches and lemons, along with spiced white tea, shaved ginger and chalk tones. Zippy and tart on the palate with strawberry and wild raspberry. Spicy tones of pepper, mint and basil add some complexity. A tangy, fun rose. (86 points IJB)

N.V. Michèle Capdepon Blanquette de Limoux Brut – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Blanquette de Limoux
SRP: $19
Rich yellow color. A nice bready nose with salted cashews, honey, chalk, flowers, over top of yellow apples and orange peels. Crisp and focused on this medium-bodied wine, moderate acidity, some pleasant, light toastiness and creaminess. Rich texture, moderate depth, with yellow apple fruit topped in almond, graham cracker, honeycomb. Quite focused, food-friendly, a solid value sparkler that outperforms a lot of other sin this price range. Mauzac and Chardonnay. (88 points IJB)

2017 Clos Fantine Faugères – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Faugères
SRP : $25
Lovely spice and pepper on the nose with meaty, leathery, paprika-laced tones, over top of red and black cherries and currants. The acidity is really refreshing on the palate, with dusty tannins, medium-bodied, with juicy black cherries and plums. Complex notes of pepper, beef drippings, campfire, with violets and clove. There’s a stony and mineral presence as well. Great now, but decant it or cellar it for a few years. Aged 18 months in concrete. (89 points IJB)

2018 Domaine de la Mordorée Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de la Reine des Bois – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
SRP: $112
Medium purple color. A dark core of black cherries and roasted figs on the nose, with smoky, minty, charcoal, anise tones, grilled meats. Full-bodied, chewy tannins, medium/low acidity but enough to keep it together. Juicy black cherries and roasted plums, along with cocoa, menthol, dark chocolate, pepper, lamb hide – a lot going on here. Red and black licorice flavors, too. This is concentrated and young, one for the cellar for sure, but this opens up nicely, especially on day two. Should be great in six or seven years. Grenache with Mourvedre, Syrah and Vaccarese, aged 10 months in stainless steel and 20% oak. (93 points IJB)

2018 Weingut Josef Leitz Rosé Pinot Noir Trocken – Germany, Rheingau
SRP: $17
Beautiful salmon color. Aromas of red apple peel and wild raspberry, fresh and floral with honey pot tones. Pure and vibrant on the palate, with a salty, mineral, talc-laden feel. Crisp and cool with raspberry, white cherries, lots of honey and floral complexities. Absolutely delicious, springy, versatile rose. 6.8 g/l residual sugar. (88 points IJB)

2015 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese – Germany, Nahe
SRP: $50
Medium yellow color. Beautiful aromas of rushing mountain streams, chalk, sea shells, over banana, lime and white peach, tones of white flowers and green herbs. Plump fruit on the palate with white peach, papaya, drizzled with lime, met with racy acidity and balanced sugar – pristine and focused feel. Lemon drops and white peach topped in shells, minerals, ginger, peanut shell and white flowers. Crystalline in its focus, delightful and refined. Aging well with many, many years ahead. (95 points IJB)

2020 Giunta Malbec Nouveau – New Zealand, North Island, Hawke’s Bay
SRP: $19
Deep purple color. Juicy and fresh on the nose, very Beaujolais-esque, with cherries and red plums, along with some cola, violets, floral potpourri. Fresh and delightful feel on the palate, with light tannins and crisp acidity, gushing with cherries and wild raspberries. Floral and perfumed with some slight clay, loam and tobacco tones for complexity. This has a good amount of balance, freshness and mouthfeel – a fresh, fun, semi-carbonic Malbec that should be a big hit with a lot of different palates. (88 points IJB)

2016 Decibel Pinot Noir Single Vineyard – New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough
SRP: $35
Light ruby color. Lovely spice tones life the aromas, with black pepper, red pepper flakes, beef jerky, over top of tangy raspberries and wild cherries. Zippy on the palate, pleasantly dusty-light tannins, and the fruit is refreshing and tangy (raspberries, spiced cranberry sauce, black cherries). Notes of black pepper and smoked meats, pepperoni, rose petals, I really like these elements and the racy, vibrant feel, here. A Pinot for those tired of baked fruits and high alcohol.  Aged 10 months in 10% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

2019 Dow Douro Vale do Bomfim – Portugal, Douro
SRP: $13
Medium purple color. Smells of plums and blackberries, deep and ripe, with smoky earth, pencil lead, violets and coffee grounds. Medium/full-bodied with a pleasantly chewy texture and medium acidity. Chunks of plums and juicy blackberries, laced with cocoa, cedar, iron and earth. Straightforward but balanced, ripe but nuanced. A blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and others. Great introduction to Douro dry reds at a very attractive price point. (87 points IJB)

N.V. Graham Porto 10-Year-Old Tawny – Portugal, Douro, Porto
SRP: $39
Deep tawny color. Pretty, expressive nose of dates, figs, caramel and toasted nuts, that classic warm, inviting aromatic display. On the palate this is full but shows moderating acidity, and chunks of glazed pear, dried pineapple, baked apples. Notes of cinnamon crumb cake, candied pecans and some salted almond add complexity. This is warm, inviting, delicious, and a great introduction to Tawny ports, but enough complexity to keep any tawny-lover intrigued. (90 points IJB)

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