Wine Reviews: Year-End Selections

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-18-2021

As a long year winds down, I hope you have some nice bottles lined up to share with loved ones. With the holidays in full swing, I’m taking a break from sparkling wines and focusing on some wines that offered me a chance to travel. In my mind at least; I’ve been cooped up for a long time. But there are places I want to visit and wine regions I want to dig into, and tasting wine always gets me thinking and planning.

I’ve long been a fan of wines from Argentina, and I recently tasted through several wines that reminded me that there’s a lot more to explore. The value to be found there has always attracted me, but more and more I’m finding wines that show a whole lot more depth and nuance than I expected. Oh, to visit one day!

Chile is another country I have had on my list. Surfing the coast, climbing some mountains, and visiting the wine regions in between, it’s a bucket list trip I plan to take one day. But, in these pandemic times, some delightful reds from Chile offered a peek into a beautiful country.

I also have three wines that could only come from Southwest France. With some many varied appellations and styles, I always enjoy trying to dig into the diversity and history of the wines from this region. With a host of indigenous varieties, plenty of value to find, and a fascinating winemaking culture and history, the three wines in this report are barely scratching the surface.

An inexpensive red from Veneto and an impressive Napa Cab round out this report.

These wines were received as samples and tasted sighted.

Argentina

2020 Piattelli Vineyards Torrontés Argentina, Salta, Cafayate
SRP: $14
Medium straw color. The nose pops with peaches and white flowers, mango and papaya, lots of tropical flowers. The palate shows crisp acidity and moderately creamy texture, but there’s a nervy, salty vibe that helps keep things fresh against the juicy, papaya and peach fruit. Some slate and mineral elements on the finish, with flowers, too. There’s quite a lot going on here, and shows freshness and balance. (89 points IJB)

2018 Mascota Vineyards Malbec Unánime Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $25
A vibrant purple color. Juicy nose of black cherries and red plums tossed with a generous dose of mesquite, violet petals, cocoa, really lush and inviting. Full but suave on the palate with medium acidity and smooth tannins. Flavors of blueberries and plum sauce mix well with a nice, stony, mineral, graphite component. Those smoky, meaty, bacon elements linger onto the finish. Fun and highly delicious but shows nice complexity as well. (89 points IJB)

2014 Mascota Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Magnánime Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $70
This Cabernet sports a deep, dark, inviting nose of currants and blueberries, with complex elements of coffee, dark chocolate, roasted chestnut and herbal, floral tones – just a beautiful, enticing aromatic display. The palate delivers what the nose promises, with deep concentration and grippy tannins but lively acidity and plenty of freshness. Tangy blueberries, blackberries and figs, mixes with smoky, earthy tones, and iron/graphite elements. A wine worthy of cellar contemplation and the choicest grilled meats, this is a delightful Mendoza Cabernet. (93 points IJB)

2020 Bodega El Esteco Torrontés Don David Reserve Argentina, Salta, Cafayate
SRP: $20
Light yellow color. The nose pops with classic notes of peaches and guava, with interesting salty, yellow flower and honeyed tones. The palate shows zippy acidity and a pleasantly creamy texture. Peaches and papaya flow, with tones of tropical flowers, sea salt and whipped honey. Crisp and bright but delightful textural depth and lovely Torrontes tropical goodness. (89 points IJB)

2020 Durigutti Proyecto “Las Compuertas” Criolla Parral Argentina, Mendoza, Lujan de Cuyo
SRP: $ 25
Pale ruby color. So juicy with aromas of raspberries, strawberries and red apple, with complex notes of spiced tea, pepper and airy roses. The palate is medium-bodied with silky tannins and bright acidity, which supports bright red fruit (red apple, raspberry and strawberry). Notes of lavender, rose petals, violets and clove add complexity, and air brings out sage, rhubarb and clay tones. So fresh, airy and floral with elegant, flora, spicy tones. I really want to see more wines like this from Argentina in the U.S. Made from Criolla Chica (Pais), this is something else! Crushable but complex and beautiful. (91 points IJB)

Chile

2017 Viña San Pedro Cabernet Sauvignon Cabo de Hornos Chile, Rapel Valley, Cachapoal Valley
SRP: $57
Dark purple. The aromas are so, so good, with deep currants, plums, smoky earth, menthol, a warm holiday cider vibe, really lovely. Full but fresh on the palate, the tannins show solid grip with refined edges, and the acidity is lively. Fresh currants and blackberries, joined with a unique mix of mint, tobacco, eucalyptus, clove, violets, a lot comes out with air. Nice concentration and freshness that will pay off in the cellar. 100% Cabernet. (92 points IJB)

2019 Concha y Toro Carménère Marqués de Casa Concha Chile, Rapel Valley, Peumo
SRP: $24
Deep purple color. Aromas show a classic mix of black cherries, tobacco, bell pepper, along with violet petals and coffee grounds – just delightful. Full-bodied, suave with blackberries and fig fruit, balanced with fresh acidity. Blackberries and cherry fruit, tangy but saucy, and it mixes well with roasted red pepper, coffee and tobacco tones. A lot of complexity in here for the price, and a really interesting expression of Carménère. (90 points IJB)

2019 Concha y Toro Pinot Noir Marqués de Casa Concha Chile, Limarí Valley
SRP: $20
Vibrant ruby color. A really spicy, floral and perfumed display on the nose with rose petals, black pepper, rhubarb and pepperoni over tangy red cherries. Crisp acidity, light tannins, this is a bright and floral Pinot with juicy strawberries and cranberry fruit. Notes of rose teal, paprika, rhubarb and sage add complexity to this fun, fresh wine. Shows a lot more complexity and authenticity than a lot of similarly-priced Pinot Noirs from a lot of other regions and countries. (89 points IJB)

Italy

2020 Gran Passione Veneto Rosso Italy, Veneto, Veneto IGT
SRP: $14
Light purple color. The nose shows a pleasantly jammy mix of raspberries and cherries along with sweet rose petals and red licorice notes. The palate shows medium acidity and smooth, chewy tannins with sweet plums and raspberries. Has a saucy, fun appeal with notes of roses, clove and licorice. A fun, value-driven blend of Merlot and Corvina. (87 points IJB)

France

N.V. Domaine du Moulin Gaillac Méthode Ancestrale France, Southwest France, Gaillac
SRP: $20
Rich yellow color. The nose shows a delightful mix of white tea and candle wax, chalk dust, over lemons and yellow apples. The palate is zesty and brisk with a nice mix of whipped honey and limestone/chalky tones and delightfully fine bubbles. The yellow apple, lime and lemon fruit is fun and fresh and the wine maintains a floral, bright, steely appeal that would make this delightful with Ramen, sushi and more. Crisp and fun but enough depth to keep it interesting. Made from 100% Mauzac, a Pet-Nat lover’s wine for sure. (88 points IJB)

2020 Domaine Duffour Côtes de Gascogne France, Southwest France, Gascony, Côtes de Gascogne
SRP: $12
Medium yellow color. So bright on the nose, with limes and kiwi, lemongrass, tones of white pepper and oregano, a really fun, bright and spicy wine. Crisp and floral on the nose, zesty but some pleasant creaminess. Kiwi, lemon, green apples and white peach fruit mix well with floral perfume and celery seed tones. Super fun and fresh, nice creaminess, a delightful shellfish and salad wine. (87 points IJB)

2018 Producteurs Plaimont Saint-Mont Nature Secrete France, Southwest France, Gascony, Saint-Mont
SRP: $13
Deep, dark purple color. The nose shows a pleasant mix of campfire, roasted coffee and anise over top of black cherries and currants. On the palate this shows fresh acidity, some rough edges around the tannins but its also packed with tart currant fruit that makes it accessible. A complex mix of menthol, tar, pepper and earth. A spicy, tangy but friendly wine that would pair well with any grilled game and veg you could throw at it. Tannat with 15% Pinenc and 15% Cab Sauv. (86 points IJB)

USA

2017 Gamble Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
SRP: $60
Bright purple color. The nose shows a warm compote of roasted figs and tangy blueberries with deep tones of anise, clove and graphite, along with pepper, cocoa and some gravelly, loam tones. The palate shows firm tannins and medium acidity, along with a tart but sweet mix of blueberries, figs and black cherries. There’s a complex mix of smoky, minty, cocoa, tobacco and roasted chestnut elements. This wine sports a lot of concentration, age-worthiness and mystique, especially for a Napa Cab at this price point. Includes a combined 11% Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot, aged 20 months in 43% new oak. (91 points IJB)

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