Wine Reviews: Late Summer Selections

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-31-2021

I can’t believe it’s almost August. But there’s still plenty of summertime left, and this week I have a mix of wines to keep the summer vibes going.

There are some diverse white wines in here, from Austrian Gruner and a kicking South African Chardonnay. Plenty of value is on display as well, with some Rioja rosés and a delightful Rioja Blanco. And Napa’s Shafer turns out a really impressive vintage of their Red Shoulder Chardonnay.

I also received several wines from Jumilla Wine, which promotes this Spanish region’s wines in the U.S. These inexpensive wines are branded by the region to show the importance of Monastrell to this sun-roasted region of Southeastern Spain.

I rarely review anything besides wine, but I’m making an exception in this report for these non-alcoholic grape juices from Castello di Amorosa. They harvest some grapes a few days early for acidity, and make juice out of them. Yes, clearly they are sweet, but they’re also well made, smell and taste like their respective varieties, and are yummy.

The juices are sold at their Calistoga location or on their website. I’m glad to see these being made, because they’re interesting and offer the sense a lot to unpack without the alcohol, and would be great drinks to share with friends and family who do not consume alcohol. I tasted these with my six-year-old daughter and we took tasting notes together, and it was a blast. (She’s a big Gewurz juice fan.)

All of these wines (and juices) were received as samples and tasted sighted.

2020 Domaine Wachau Grüner Veltliner Terrassen Federspiel Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
SRP: $18
Pale lemon color. A nose of white peach and lemons topped in mint, honeysuckle, honeyed white tea. Zippy and crisp on the palate with a bright, racy appeal yet a punchy texture. Limes, lemons and green melon fruit, tossed together with celery seed, lemongrass and spicy mint. A lot of fun, solid value, this would be such a good sushi wine. (89 points IJB)

2019 Veramonte Chardonnay Reserva Chile, Casablanca Valley
SRP: $12
Light yellow color. Honey, apples, lemon curd on the nose, a creamy display with some peanut shells but also some bright floral tones. Crisp acidity on the palate with some solid textural depth. Lemons and yellow apples are tossed together with honey in this wine with some graham cracker and biscuits. Notes of saline and breezy floral tones, too. Stays lively on the finish. Lots of value for this price. (88 points IJB)

2017 Capensis Chardonnay “Silène” South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
SRP: $40
A bold yellow color. Deep and rich aromas of honey, cream, mixed nuts, almond and crumb cake, and sea salt, over top of juicy lemon and yellow apples. The palate shows a deep texture but moderating acidity. Lemon curd and pear butter fruit mixes with nuances of peanut shell, salted pecans and honey. But these vibes of chalk, flint, minerals and dried white flowers bring these elevated, airy vibes to the richness. Lovely stuff, complex but vibrant, their first release of this wine and it is on point. Sourced from two mountain vineyards, their estate Fijnbosch Vineyard and its neighbor, Nooitgedacht. (91 points IJB)

2020 C.V.N.E. Rioja Blanco “Monopole” Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
SRP: $16
Straw color. A bright an perfumed appeal on the nose with peaches and limes, topped in dandelion and daisies, some talc and steely tones. On the palate, this is really zesty but also shows a good amount of depth. White peach and green apple fruit blends nicely with elements of talk, chalk and minerals. Cucumber slices and dandelion add a pleasant kick. This is brisk but delightful and sports solid complexity for the price. (89 points IJB)

2020 Bodegas Beronia Verdejo Rueda Spain, Castilla y León, Rueda
SRP: $12
Light yellow color. The nose pops with honeysuckle and dandelions, with pineapple, lemons and orange peel. Nice, creamy texture with fresh acidity. Limes, kiwi and pineapple fruit mix well with sea salt, sliced cucumbers, white tea and some white pepper. Simple in the best way, as in it is well-made, crushable, but complex. A perfect hot day and gazpacho kind of wine. 100% Verdejo. (88 points IJB)

2020 Bodegas Muga Rioja Rosado Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
SRP: $17
Pale salmon color. Delightful aromas of rose petals, white cherries, dandelion, clover and chalk dust – so fresh and exciting. Crisp and juicy on the palate with a chalky essence. Lemons, watermelon and kiwi fruit tastes vibrant and delicious. Floral, minty, spring meadow vibes. Versatile across the pink wine palate spectrum, I think, and it sports a whole lot of balance and complexity for this price point. Well done! (90 points IJB)

2020 Bodegas Alceño Jumilla Rosado Spain, Murcia, Jumilla
SRP: $10-12
Deep watermelon color. Aromas of white cherries and strawberries, topped in wildflowers, honey, mint, fun and inviting stuff. Punchy but fresh on the palate, zesty but juicy with strawberries and white cherries, topped in white flowers, dandelion and honey. Lots of summery fun, ripe but nuanced. (87 points IJB)

2020 Bodegas Xenysel Monastrell Tinto Joven – Spain, Murcia, Jumilla
SRP: $10-14
Medium ruby color. A fun, juicy approach on the nose with jammy raspberries and plum sauce, with some mocha, anise and coffee tones. Full but smooth with moderate acidity, along with jammy, ripe plums and baked raspberries. Juicy and ripe but stays moderately fresh, with tones of coffee, cocoa and vanilla. I could see this being a serious crowd pleaser at cookouts. (86 points IJB)

2019 Shafer Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros
SRP: $52
Dense yellow color. The nose exudes rich apricot and yellow apples, with a generous dose of honey, marmalade, ginger, also some white tea and chalk dust. The texture is viscous and creamy but the acidity is lively and holds everything together really well. Apricot marmalade and baked yellow apple fruit blend well with complexities of whipped butter, honey, raw almond, but there are also these oyster shell and flinty, mineral elements – and they intermingle in lovely fashion. This is definitely hedonistic, but it presents itself wonderfully. Beautiful, age-worthy Chardonnay. Aged 14 months in 75% new French oak. (94 points IJB)


N.V. Castello di Amorosa Gewürztraminer Grape Juice USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
SRP: $14
A light yellow, slightly pale copper color. Ooh, classic nose of ripe lychee, kiwi, white peaches, with lots of honey, clover and all sorts of tropical flowers. Plump texture on the palate with a pleasant creaminess and a sense of depth that you don’t get from your typical fruit juice. The complexities of honey and white tea are lovely. The acidity is a bit low to balance out the sugar, but it’s undeniably delicious. From Anderson Valley Gewurz.

N.V. Castello di Amorosa Muscat Canelli Grape Juice USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $14
Light yellow color. Bursting with peaches, guava and lychee on the nose with dandelion and sweet honeyed tea. Ripe and plush on the palate, but the acidity is really nice here, too, helps keep things focused. Peaches in syrup and lychee fruit play well with notes of honey, sugar cane, floral potpourri and a hint of ginger. The balance here is really nice. All Muscat Canelli from Sonoma, Solano and Santa Barbara.

N.V. Castello di Amorosa Sparkling Grape Juice Red Blend USA, California
SRP: $14
A pretty watermelon/cherry color with a slight fizz. The nose shows wild raspberries, peeled red delicious apples, some interesting tones of hayfield and barley. Pleasantly soft bubbles with medium acidity and the sugar is woven in well. Fun flavors of strawberries and watermelon Jolly Ranchers, with some rose hips and earthy, herbal kicks, too. Interesting stuff. A blend of 90% Gamay and 5% apiece of Grenache and Cab Sauv. From Calistoga and other Napa fruit.

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