This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.
American bubbles, Champagne, Sherry, Port, some samples are distinct in style and sporadic enough that they don’t fit into a designated category. Although, most of these bottles scream: Invite people over and open me!
All of these wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.
N.V. J Vineyards & Winery Cuvée 20 - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
A pale gold color. Juicy and fresh on the nose, lots of buttered biscuit mixes with ripe oranges and tangerines, hints of sea breeze. Ripe yet bright on the palate with medium acid and some sweetness. Crunchy apples and tangerine flavors, some minerals, notes of chalk and sea shell. A wine that covers all the bases very well, perhaps a California bubbly that could work with a lot of palates. 54% Chardonnay, 44% Pinot Noir and 2% Pinot Meunier. (87 points)
N.V. J Vineyards & Winery Brut Rosé - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
Pale salmon color, lots of fine mousse. Bready and yeasty on the nose with sliced McIntosh apples, wild strawberries, mixed white and red floral notes. Tangy on the palate, bright acid, subtle creaminess that lingers onto the finish. Hints of mineral and mountain spring on top of red apple and strawberries. Dry and clean on the finish. A refreshing and complex rose sparkler. About half-half Pinot and Chardonnay with some Meunier dashed in. (88 points)
N.V. Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut Réserve - France, Champagne
Light gold color. Golden and green apples on the nose, mixing with sweet flowers. Orange peel, apricot and grapefruit on a medium-bodied frame with fine bubbles. Fresh acid, not super tangy or aggressive, but not soft either. Grapefruit, apricot, golden apples, some sea salt and toasted baguette. Fresh, playful, not the deepest Champagne but good quality stuff. (88 points)
N.V. Jacquart Champagne Brut Mosaïque - France, Champagne
Pale golden color. Very bready, doughy nose, a bit of sunflower seed and peanut shell, mixes with notes of green and yellow apple peel. With time some daisies and honeysuckle come out. Medium bodied, pleasantly tangy acid, a creamy and lovely texture. Flavors of lime and kiwi mix with apricot and yellow apple. Good doughy and nutty aspects, but some interesting mineral and seashell notes as well. Very crisp and seashell-dominated finish. Not incredibly complex, but I like this style. (87 points)
N.V. Jacquart Champagne Brut Rosé - France, Champagne
Pale copper color. Smells of wild strawberries, white cherries, mix in some melon peel, roses, and green almonds. Tangy, light and clean on the palate. Flavors of strawberries (with the white and green top part thrown in as well) white cherries, watermelon rind and roses. Toasted bread, and lemon peel on the finish. Zesty and fun but not very complex. (85 points)
N.V. Aecovi-Jerez Jerez-Xérès-Sherry Alexandro Palo Cortado - Spain, Andalucía, Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
A kind of guava-apricot juice color. Smells of nougat, seaweed, salt brine, olive oil, apricot nuts and orange marmalade — loving it. Full-bodied and bold but fresh acid helps the balancing act. Nutty with dried apricot and olive oil flavors, some dried flowers, marcona almonds, mixed in with orange peel and sea brine. Begs for nuts and hard cheeses, this provides lots of flavors and elements to contemplate and enjoy. A great wine to pour for friends and family and discuss the nuances. (90 points)
N.V. W & J Graham’s Porto 20 Year Old Tawny - Portugal, Douro, Porto
A kind of raspberry-caramel color, very deep. Classic tawny notes of dried fruits (yellow raisins, cranberries, pineapple, prunes), along with spice, clove and cinnamon, dried honey and nougat. Full and caramelized on the palate, with tons of complex dried fruits, all the dried fruits you can name. I also get macadamia nuts, orange marmalade, honey, spiced apple cider, lots of complex stuff going on. Still refreshing though, and not goopy or overdone in any way. This screams holiday bliss. After tasting, I served this to a bunch of friends at a party, and everyone loved it. (91 points)
N.V. Graham Porto Six Grapes Reserve - Portugal, Douro, Porto
Bright plum colored. Nose shows elements of roasted fig, plum cake, raisins and smoke with some anise cookies, coconut, vanilla and loamy and rocky elements thrown in. Full with dusty tannins but seems approachable. Plum cake, sweet cocoa and red licorice, creamy vanilla and mocha notes. Not as dark or dense as a vintage Port but still some nice rocky and mineral elements. Finishes with underlying notes of anise, pepper and spice. Seems ready to drink now and very approachable but still well-structured. (87 points)
2009 Dow Porto Late Bottled Vintage - Portugal, Douro, Porto
Aromas of fig paste and dried blueberries, add in some violets, caramel and coffee. Very approachable, with moderate but accessible tannins and I’m surprised by the acid that comes through. Full bodied but goes down quite easily, showing flavors of dried blueberries, black cherries and blackberries. The fruit is rich and sweet but vibrant, and I get a good dose of complex loam, smashed rocks, coffee and charcoal. Long finish with sweet cola and vanilla. A lovely LBV Port that is a great introduction to Dow’s for a very reasonable price. (90 points)