A summer sampler of diverse wines

July 15, 2019

Riff Pinot Gri­gio sent me a puff pie­ce with hints about glo­bal war­ming. Riff stands for reef. Some 220 million years ago, the area near the Alto Adi­ge foot­hills of the Dolo­mi­te Moun­tains was a reef-filled ocean. Yes, friends, this seems to imply the­re was a dearth of flo­ra back then. The pre­vious era’s wealth of vege­ta­tion suc­ked too much CO2 from the atmosp­he­re, pro­vo­king glo­bal cooling, the­reby cau­sing an ice age, which killed off all the flo­ra and laid down the mate­rial for today’s car­bon fuels. Huge ice sheets deve­lo­ped and suc­ked up all the water. That ridicu­lous posit was prom­pted by a recent arti­cle in Scien­ti­fic Ame­ri­can that clai­med if we plan­ted 1.25 tri­llion trees, the Earth’s atmosp­he­re could be sta­bi­li­zed and glo­bal war­ming ame­lio­ra­ted. I nor­mally read the­se type arti­cles over a glass or two of wine, becau­se the abso­lu­tism in them makes me apprehen­si­ve. For­tu­na­tely, so far, I’ve avoi­ded death by mer­cury in sword­fish, Alar, Mexi­can pro­du­ce, che­mi­cal bug spray on food, and rare meat. What will likely kill me is losing the abi­lity to open my child­proof meds, or typ­hus or the black death pic­ked up in San Fran or LA on my way to the wine regions.

Riff 2018 is a lovely dry PG which uti­li­zed the exper­ti­se of Alois Lage­der, a well-known pro­du­cer in Alto Adi­ge. In addi­tion, Riff can be ship­ped by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, the­reby avoi­ding the pri­cing incu­rred due to the nor­mal three-tier dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem. Regu­lars are awa­re of my posi­tion on Delaware’s ridicu­lous “lik­ker” laws, so I won’t riff on that. Talk about a bar­gain, Riff can be had under $10; it is a solid 87 McD points.

Pale straw-colo­red, Riff opens to varie­tal notes with apple and citrus. This is a light-bodied wine, in the good sen­se. Its mine­ral aci­dity, dri­ven by the limes­to­ne gro­wing area, sup­ports the nose and pro­vi­des a crisp, clean finish.

Sta­ying with dry whi­tes, Domai­ne Bous­quet 2019 Sau­vig­non Blanc from Tupun­ga­to, Men­do­za, Argen­ti­na, is a con­sis­tent 88–90-point, $13 bar­gain, for­merly labe­led Domai­ne Bous­quet. The 2019 is pale yellow with a green tint. It shows tro­pi­cal fruit with no grass. On the pala­te, limey aci­dity sup­ports the nose and deli­vers a bright, clean finish; 89 McD, 2 pri­ce points.

Bode­gas Vir­gen del Agui­la Pani­za Vinas de Pani­za Char­don­nay from Cari­ñe­na, in Ara­gon, Spain, may be a tough find but it is a darn good Char­don­nay under $12. Don’t look for oak. This is fresh bou­quet wine with char­don­nay fruit, citrus and her­bal notes. On the silky pala­te, a touch of honey and bal­sa­mic spi­ce leads to a long finish. The pro­du­cer clai­med the finish reminds one of Werther’s Ori­gi­nal candy. They were correct. Or may­be I’m just sus­cep­ti­ble to sug­ges­tion. A lovely Char­don­nay, 88 points under $12. Labe­led Fabu­la de Pani­za.

Cli­ne Cellars Ancient Vine series are sta­ples for me. If you ever visit Con­tra Cos­ta County, plea­se don’t miss seeing the­se old vines plan­ted in the 1880s by Vale­riano and Giu­sep­pi­na Jacuz­zi, Fred Cline’s grand­pa­rents. The­se should be a heri­ta­ge site. Yes, the same family inven­ted the epony­mous Jacuz­zi. Fred and Nancy Cli­ne also inven­ted Red Truck Wines. Their 2017 Zin came in at 88–89 points pri­ced under $15. Dark ruby-colo­red, opens to straw­berry, rhu­barb, pie spi­ce and oak-dri­ven vani­lla. Pala­te repeats straw­berry with cho­co­la­te and cof­fee nuan­ce. Medium-long, clean finish.

The Mour­vè­dre is also con­sis­tently 88-plus with pri­ces under $16. In Spain, this is named Monas­trell, and Mata­ro in Aus­tra­lia. Very dark-skin­ned gra­pes. After vini­fi­ying dry, the wine spends 1 year in darkly toas­ted Ame­ri­can oak. This pro­vi­des a ruby color like 10-year-old Tawny Port. The 2017 is a bit alcoho­lic at 15.5 per­cent, but not offen­si­ve.

Opens to plums and dark cho­co­la­te. Huge body, and check out tho­se legs! Reminds me of an olo­ro­so sherry with cho­co­la­te che­rries nuan­ce. Will stand up to smo­ked bar­be­cue, but I pre­fer it as a stan­da­lo­ne. The Mour­ve­dre Rosé was not labe­led Ancient Vines until the 2017 vin­ta­ge. 2018 — look for red currant, cherry and plum aro­mas, che­rries and plums on the bright pala­te and a long, clean finish; 87 plus 2 pri­ce points under $14. Great porch sip­per.

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