Sunday, December 31, 2017

In the #MeToo Era, Feminist Punk is Still a Powerful Weapon

Everything I know about feminism, I learned from punk rock.

Well, that’s not entirely true, a lot came from reading Simone de Beauvoir and Emma Goldman, and talking with strong women in my life who helped me understand the privileged position I hold as a male in my culture. But the importance of sexual equality, the need to dismantle patriarchy, these are values I hold, values I derived from punk rock.

The enduring #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment and assault (and the numerous revelations about so many well-known predatory men), has left me with a range of complex emotions. While listening to these conversations, I’ve struggled with feelings of helplessness. But I think the best thing I can do as a man is to listen to what women are trying to say, and maybe amplify a few voices.

With about 20 years of experience in various punk, hardcore and metal scenes throughout the United States, I realize I do have something to add, a lesson I’ve learned: Feminist messaging in extreme music has been, and continues to be, a prophylactic and necessary measure to combat sexual harassment and assault of women.

Shawna Potter of War on Women. Photo from Cody Ganzer.
The Baltimore punk band War on Women is one of today’s most outspoken feminist groups, and I’m a huge fan. The band comprises two men and two women, and they really rock the hell out of a live show (that’s what this is all about, after all). War on Women’s message is both empowering (as hardcore should be) and challenging (as punk rock and metal should be).

“We started very intentionally,” singer Shawna Potter said in a recent video interview with the music site Noisey. “We knew we wanted to make a feminist band, and we wanted to talk about things that matter… really explicitly and overtly.”

War on Women is an easy target — they are openly feminist social justice warriors who challenge patriarchy and sing with righteous indignation about rape culture, street harassment, and the infringements upon reproductive rights. Whenever strong and talented women enter a male-dominated space and stake a claim to it, there is a backlash from men, and it’s the same damn thing in the punk scene. The backlash against War on Women has been both disheartening and boringly predictable.

In an essay she wrote for Noisey, singer Shawna Potter tells the story of some of the vitriolic bullshit that happened while on the Vans Warped Tour this year. When a woman holding up a sign that said “Punk shouldn’t be predatory,” showed up at a set from the Boston band The Dickies, a member of the band (known for saying disgusting things about young women), went on an unhinged, threatening rant. Internet storms erupted, and unfortunately The Dickies found their fair share of men coming to their defense and lecturing War on Women and other feminist punk activists to, basically, shut up and leave the punk scene to the boys.

Photo from Cody Ganzer.
To these reactions, Potter has a simple message, which she told Noisey: “If you don’t like our band, that's fine. End sexism and I’ll literally have nothing to sing about.”

But sexism is, and has historically been, a serious issue in punk music. There are far too many stories of abusive men demeaning, harassing, assaulting, and raping women. I’ve seen men grope women at punk shows and take advantage of women who were drunk. One of the only times in my life I ever threw the first punch was at a man assaulting a woman at a punk show. Sexual harassment and assault in punk scenes happens too often, unfortunately, but it can be reduced.

The night before Trump’s inauguration, I attended a show by the British punk/folk songwriter Frank Turner. He said that the most beautiful thing about punk rock is that it allows people to create their own culture, to set their own values. Smashing sexism, stopping sexual violence, these are values, as long as the people within the culture claim them.

I grew up going to every Warped Tour to see bands like Bad Religion, Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, but haven’t been to one in years, and I was skeptical of War on Women’s decision to go on the tour, given its reputation for being a haven of drunken bros and teenage girls. But as I followed War on Women’s statements on social media, I realized the band saw the tour as an opportunity to reach people who might not otherwise be exposed to feminist ideas. Most punk, hardcore and metal shows are dominated by men, and the shows where women match the men in number are rare. War on Women made the most of this opportunity by organizing a campaign called “Safer Scenes.” The band described this campaign as a means of formulating proactive, preventative solutions to sexual harassment and assault that takes place in concerts and festival atmospheres.

“We want to help rid the Warped Tour of the ugliness it’s been plagued with over the years, and to do that we must shine a light on it,” Potter wrote. The idea was to train band members and concertgoers in bystander intervention, to help empower not only would-be victims of sexual harassment and assault but everyone else around to refuse to tolerate sexually abusive behavior.

I have to quickly highlight another example of punk as a weapon against sexual assault, and it comes from a Massachusetts band called Goolagoon. They are an insane amount of fun — after all it’s a Spongebob Squarepants-themed punk/grind band. I saw them play last year at a metal festival in Baltimore, and the fury of their live performance was incredible. The frontwoman, who goes only by Lily, is dynamic singer with an engaging stage presence, and she doesn’t mince her words when it comes to sexual violence.

Southern-California hardcore punk band Abjection. Credit: Cody Ganzer 
As she started off the band’s song “Life of Crime” (from their blistering record of the same name) Lily gripped the microphone and screamed at the top of her lungs: “To every man who’s ever sexually terrorized women: WE ARE NOT YOUR FUCKING PROPERTY! FUCK! RIGHT! OFF!” The band then goes into a brutal 50-second assault full of speedy riffs contrasted against slow, heavy noise. The crowd, myself included, was blown away and the band received loud applause from an audience composed almost entirely of men.

“PRO-FEMINIST” is written in block letters on the cover of Propagandhi’s album, Less Talk, More Rock. As an angry teenage boy (surrounded by a lot of other angry teenage boys), the loudly pro-feminist position of the band jumped out at me. I was 13 when that album came out and I bought it largely because the feminist message struck me as empowering and deserving of respect.

Propagandhi at DC's Rock & Roll Hotel - 2017
This band (one of my all-time favorites) has always been outspoken and in-your-face. I’ve supported the band for years, and saw them play a few weeks ago. They played flawlessly to an insane, excited, diverse crowd of fans, and their new album Victory Lap is a pristine and empowering if you’re feeling depressed in the Trump era.

In a recent interview on Canadian radio, Propagandhi frontman Chris Hannah talked about the “frat boy” punk scene culture that he was speaking out against when the band released Less Talk. “We made a conscious decision, the only conscious decision we ever made, to make sure people knew exactly what we were about, and we put out that record Less Talk, More Rock, which actually said ‘Gay-Positive, Pro-Feminist’ on the cover, and our record sales plummeted, and none of those jocks were at our shows anymore,” Hannah said.

He calls taking that stance “career suicide,” but the album (and the band) has stood the test of time. And the punk scene’s progressive shift has proven that, for every guy who got pissed and left when a band took a pro-feminist stance, more open-minded punks took their place. More women filled that space.

Of course, feminist punk is nothing new. As anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s knows, plenty of momentous feminist punk bands have been sounding these alarms since before I was born. (The music magazine Pitchfork released a great discography of feminist punk classics, which you can check out here. I think it’s an awesome list.)

For me, Crass’ “Penis Envy” is a classic feminist punk record, and one of my favorite punk albums of all time. Musically astringent, raw and chaotic, with intense vocals from Eve Libertine and Joy De Vivre, and lyrics immersed in feminism and anarcho-politics. It’s as powerful today as it was in 1981. Bikini Kill, X-Ray Spex, Vice Squad, the Slits, even pre-punk rockers like Patti Smith — this movement goes way back. But feminist punk culture is still alive and well. And that’s a great thing, because it is necessary, effective, and a whole lot of fun, too. 

What drew me to punk and metal scenes was the welcoming atmosphere, as strange as that may sound considering how loud and abrasive the music can be. I found punk shows to be spaces where people from all backgrounds could find other misfits and forget their problems while listening to some kick-ass music. Punk hasn’t died and won’t anytime soon, young men are being attracted to punk scenes for the first time right now. My hope is that they, like me, will be introduced to powerful feminist messages at a young age. And I hope that fighting sexism, misogyny and sexual violence will continue to be a value that many punk rockers hold.

This post first appeared on the site Good Men Project.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Tasting Through Some Value-Driven New York Wines

We’re off to the Empire State today for a host of wines, most of which hail from the Finger Lakes region.

From Prosecco-inspired bubbles to Rieslings to Lemberger, these largely inexpensive wines offer a brief snapshot into the large, dynamic New York wine culture. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2016 Damiani Wine Cellars Bollicine - New York, Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake
SRP: $16
Pale lemon color. Smells like floral perfume, green melon, peaches and lemon pith. Fresh acidity, medium-bodied, a brisk, leaner style with flavors of sliced green apples, lemon and green melon. White flowers, hints of honey and salted almond. Simple but pleasant, a Prosecco-kinda wine, made from Cayuga grapes with 17% Chardonnay and 1% apiece of Pinot Noir & Meunier. (85 points)

2016 Dr. Konstantin Frank Riesling Dry - New York, Finger Lakes
SRP: $15
Light yellow color. Smells o white peaches, guava, apricot, drizzled with lime, topped with chalky and honeysuckle notes. Crisp and clean on the palate with focused acidity and pleasantly creamy but dry texture on a medium-bodied frame. Apricot, summer peach, lime, doused with white tea, crushed sea shells, floral air freshener, dandelion. Long finish with quinine and mineral notes. Impressive stuff from a classic producer. (90 points)

2016 Lakewood Vineyards Riesling 3 Generations - New York, Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake
SRP: $20
Light yellow color. Super floral on the nose with orange blossoms, honeysuckle, peaches, pineapple, lime, along with chalk dust and waxy notes. Zippy and zingy on the palate with precise acid on a dry frame. Peaches, limes, green apples, generous fruit blends so well with flowers, chalk dust, mint, sea breeze. Delicious, elegant, precise, impressive. (90 points)

2016 Glenora Wine Cellars Riesling - New York, Finger Lakes
SRP: $12
Pale lemon color. Lemon/lime aromas along with apricot, orange blossom, sea shells and peach nectar. Plump peaches and apricots on the palate with evident sweetness but moderating acidity. Notes of sea salt, floral perfume, cucumber slices. Fun, tasty stuff. 11.5% alcohol and 3% residual sugar. (86 points)

2015 Fox Run Vineyards Lemberger - New York, Finger Lakes
SRP: $15
Medium ruby colored. Smells of spicy black cherries and summer plums, along with sweet roses, rhubarb, black pepper and anise. Medium-bodied, medium-light tannins, fresh acidity, nice balance, tangy and tart (with black cherries and dark plums), but not lean. Lots of complex herbal liqueur, ginger snap, cocoa, black pepper, spiced black tea. Fun stuff that might do interesting things over the next few years. (88 points)

2014 Whitecliff Vineyard Sky Island Red Wine - New York
SRP: $32
Medium ruby colored. Super spicy on the nose with red cherries and raspberries, along with leather, oregano, pepper and tobacco barn. Medium-bodied, fresh acidity, light tannins, a tangy appeal to this wine with cherries, raspberries and red currants. Lighter style but not weak on flavor, along with leather, pepper, tobacco, cedar and coffee. Ready to drink but surprisingly good. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. (88 points)

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

More Intriguing New Releases from Paso Robles

In September, I spent a few days exploring the winelands of Paso Robles, California, and came back with a renewed love of these wines and a deeper understanding of what makes them special. Diversity among grape varieties, blends and winemaking styles is on the rise in Paso, but Rhone and Bordeaux grapes (mostly red) dominate, and for good reason. Over and over again, these Paso wines show me richness of fruit combined with freshness and complex, non-fruit flavors.

Today’s report features three wines from
Le Cuvier, whose wines blew me away when I tasted them in Paso Robles earlier this year. I jumped on the chance to taste a few more, and they were even better than I remembered. The skin-contact Viognier is exceptional, and the Grenache is one of the burliest things I’ve tasted all year.

Also included is an exceptional Roussanne from
Alta Colina and a fascinating Aglianico from Giornata, which focuses on Italian grape varieties. Lastly, we visit a delicious Grenache-based red from The Farm Winery. Owned by Jim and Azmina Madesen, the wine is made in consultation with Azmina’s brother, Santiago Achaval, of renowned Mendoza powerhouse Achaval-Ferrer.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2013 Le Cuvíer Viognier Glenrose Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $59
Rich gold color. I’m loving the aromatics, olive oil, candle wax, almond, honeycomb, on top of mango, apricot jam and circus peanut candies. On the palate this has a rich and oily texture but actually some acid, so it helps balance things out nicely. Skin contact is evident in the mouthfeel, this drinks like a heavier orange wine, but stays fresh. Flavors of mango, apricot, orange peel, laced with complex elements of honeyed tea, spiced apple, almond cake, clove. Wow, this is so, so delicious, very complex, and certainly one of the most fascinating California Viogniers I’ve tasted this year. Lots of time ahead here. Aged more than three-and-a-half years in cask before bottling. (92 point)

2014 Le Cuvíer Grenache - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $59
Medium ruby color. Smells or rich, gushing cherries, strawberries, juicy plums, along with cola, sweet black licorice, menthol, pepper. On the palate, this is full-bodied and massive (17.3% alcohol!) with chewy tannins and low acidity, but somehow it all works for me. Tons of cherries, red apple peel, raspberry jam, the fruit is laced with rich earth, clay, fallen leaves, coffee grounds, red and black licorice, rose and violets, clove, cedar. So big and bold but complex as well, a brooding beast of a Grenache but so, so good. (91 points)

N.V. Le Cuvíer Pentimento - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $47
Dark and richly purple color. Smells jammy and rich with complex plum, roasted fig, blackberry jam, along with caramel, pie crust, coffee and fig cookies. On the palate this is full-bodied with medium tannins and medium-low acidity. Juicy and suave with sweet plums, figs, blueberry jam, mixed with coffee, cola, pepper, dark chocolate, cedar. Bold, rich, smooth, delicious. What a cool and unique blend, basically a blend of other finished wines. This is composed of 44% of last year’s Pentimento, with the rest coming from the 2014 Petite Verdot Kirk-Landry, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Kirk-Landry, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Conway and 2013 Malbec Kirk-Landry. (90 points)

2015 Alta Colina Roussanne Model Citizen - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles Adelaida District
SRP: $35
Rich golden color. Gorgeous aromatic display of apricot, yellow pears, cantaloupe, also lots of fresh aspects like clean laundry, baby’s breath, lilies, some almond. Full-bodied but surprising acidity, oily and waxy but balanced. Peaches, apricot, nectarine, the fruit is topped in baby’s breath, cut flower stems, sea salt, honeycomb, almond, salted caramel. Rich textural depth and lots of intense flavors but there’s a real sense of freshness in this wine, too, which I love. Aged in 25% new French oak for 16 months, no maloactic fermentation. (91 points)

One of the coolest uses of cork text I've seen: The Farm Winery
prints the names of the winery and vineyard workers on their corks!

2013 The Farm Winery Touchy-Feely - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles Adelaida District
SRP: $60
Deep ruby color. Gushes with aromas of sweet cherries, raspberry jam, and waves of cola, coffee, rose petals, black pepper, bold and hedonistic but lovely. Full-bodied (duh, 14.9%) but not heavy, the tannins have grip but feel suave and there is a surprising amount of acidity in this wine that makes it refreshing. Cherries, raspberries, dark plums, bold but fruit has some tartness to it. Notes of coffee, pepper, mocha, cola, clove and leather add complexity. Delicious, polished, really opens up with time so there’s no rush to drink this. From limestone soils, this is made from Grenache with 20% Syrah, aged in old French oak for 24 months. (92 points)

2015 Giornata Aglianico French Camp Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $30
Light purple color. Aromas of dark cherries and plum cake mix with coffee grounds, anise, sweet pipe tobacco, incense sticks and loamy soil. Suave on the palate but structure to the tannins and moderating acidity makes for a fleshy, smooth wine. Plummy with sweet black cherries and laced with cola, coffee, eucalyptus, loamy soil, incense sticks. Despite texture and depth, this is lively as well. Impressive Paso example of this grape! All Aglianico aged in 20% new French oak. (90 points)

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

An Exceptional Orange Viognier From Virginia

Orange wines (ancient as they may be) have seen quite a renaissance over the course of the 12 years or so I've been paying serious attention to the American wine market.

If you've heard much about orange wine you probably fall into one of two categories: you enjoy them and seek them out, or you dismiss them as generally flawed wines promoted ad nauseam by obnoxious "hipster sommeliers."

Orange wines are called such because they are made from white grapes but, unlike white wines, the juice is allowed some period of contact with the skins of the grapes. Grape skins give wine its color (this is why red wines are red and not pale copper in color), so white grapes that get skin contact come out in a range of orange-like hues. Usually categorized as so-called "natural" wines, they tend to be made in an old school, minimal-intervention kind of way. And, yes, while some surely suffer from a specific wine flaw, I've found the vast majority to be as delicious as they are fascinating.

During a recent Twitter tasting with my friend, and Virginia wine buff, Frank Morgan, I cracked open a Virginia orange wine that really astounded me. Hailing from Virginia powerhouse producer
King Family Vineyards (in Crozet, VA) this Viognier is, hands down, the best I've tasted from Virginia all year. I don't usually do posts on a single wine, but I couldn't help myself with this beauty.

My notes...

2014 King Family Vineyards Viognier Small Batch Series - Virginia, Central Virginia, Monticello
Rich golden, slightly orange color. Smells amazing: orange peel, shaved ginger, salted almond, yellow flowers, honey, spiced white tea — wow! Full-bodied with a plump and waxy mouthfeel but not heavy, and medium acidity keeps it alive. Complex, interwoven flavors of sea salt, crushed shells, salted almond, ginger, graham cracker, lemon curd, orange liqueur. Wow this is exceptional, delicious, complex, harmonious stuff. Virginia Viognier orange wine is apparently a thing and I, for one, am stoked. (92 points)

Sorry to report that the wine is sold out! This was the first year the wine was produced, and they only made one barrel of it. Good news is, the next release comes from seven barrels, which, while not a lot, is at least a bit more to go around.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Diversity and Value are Yours in Chilean Carmenere

Alright, folks, it’s Carménère time!

As many wine nerds know, this native Bordeaux grape has found a thriving home in the warm, high elevation vineyards of Chile. Brought over from France in the 1800s, its true identity lay undiscovered until relatively recently — most people thought it was Merlot.

Nope! Carménère endures, and we have Chilean growers to thank for that. The country accounts for the lion’s share (>95%) of Carménère wine made anywhere in the world.

Within Chile, the grape has been challenging Merlot for the #2 spot (after Cabernet Sauvignon). With so many different valleys, terroirs, winemakers, growing and winemaking philosophies, Chilean Carménère is a diverse and dynamic category. I love the dark fruit, the herbaceous and spicy qualities, along with the tannic grip and moderating acidity I find in a lot of these wines, but the nuances are significant. While many are made to be consumed young, the more structured Carménères are clearly built to last.

And, when you consider the value of these wines, there’s a lot to get excited about. Year after year, I find more of these wines on offer in the U.S., and the quality and value seems to be consistent, with a few notable standouts.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2015 Concha y Toro Carménère Casillero del Diablo Reserva -
Chile, Central Valley
Bright purple color. Juicy red currants and cherries, along with cola, sweet roses, rhubarb, black pepper, grilled bell pepper. Palate is medium-bodied, light tannins, tangy acidity. Strawberries, black cherries, showing notes of coffee, clove, charcoal, cracked pepper, violets. Fresh and lively style but still a range of quite complex flavors. (87 points)

2014 Errazuriz Carménère Max Reserva
 - Chile, Aconcagua Valley
Rich purple color. Dark and spicy aromas with black tea, clove, roasted poblanos, coffee, on top of black cherries and currants. Full-bodied, fleshy tannin, medium acidity, tangy black cherries and currants. Complex notes of tar, graphite, iron, dark chocolate, cedar, coffee. Delicious now but this has time in the cellar. Aged 12 months in about 28% new French oak, includes 5% Syrah. (89 points)

2013 Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Carménère Los Vascos Grande Réserve - Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
Light purple. Aromas of black cherries, cranberry sauce, mixed with bell pepper, spicy green herbs, menthol, leather. Full-bodied with fresh acid, medium tannins, a spicy, tangy but structured wine. Lots of spicy tobacco, charred herbs, menthol, coffee and cedar to accent the black cherries and tart currants. Stays vibrant but nice structure here, spicy, herbal, delicious. All Carmenere aged 12 months in French oak. (89 points)

2013 Montes Carménère Alpha - Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
Bold purple color. Tart black currants, smoky black cherries, the fruit is dark and tangy but loaded with charcoal smoke, grilled herbs, roasted red peppers, bacon fat, vanilla coffee. Solid grip on the palate but the acidity is refreshing, and the black currant and cherry fruit is rich but tangy. Lots of charcoal, magic markers, campfire smoke, roasted bell peppers, mocha, black pepper glaze. A loamy, earthy, mineral element lingers on the finish. This has a bunch of years in the cellar, but it’s seriously good stuff. Includes 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 12 months in 55% new French oak. (91 points)

2015 Concha y Toro Carménère Gran Reserva Serie Riberas - Chile, Rapel Valley, Cachapoal Valley, Peumo
Deep purple color. Aromas of charcoal smoke and grilled herbs on top of dense black cherries and blackberries, along with some graphite, roasted coffee and cedar. Full-bodied, nice grip, medium acidity, juicy but sturdy. Roasted fig and black currants mix nicely with coffee grounds, charred herbs, roasted chestnut, violets, dark chocolate. Highly delicious but quite complex. Includes 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 13 months in cask. (88 points)

2015 Concha y Toro Carménère Marqués de Casa Concha - Chile, Rapel Valley, Cachapoal Valley, Peumo
Deep purple color. Love the rich blackberry and sweet plum aromas with coffee, mocha, violets, eucalyptus and sweet pipe tobacco. Full-bodied, medium tannins and acidity, balance is on point, which is something because this is a suave and rich wine. Blackberries and black currants, lit up by complex elements of coffee, roasted chestnut, dark chocolate, graphite and loamy earth. A richer, flavorful style (less on the herbs and spice), but so good. 2-4 years in the cellar is fine but this is delicious now. Includes 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 16 months in French oak. (90 points)

2015 Apaltagua Carménère Envero Gran Reserva - Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
Rich purple color. Smoky and earthy aromas with clove, coffee, cedar, bell pepper, and blackberry and juicy plums. Medium/full-bodied with fleshy tannins and fresh acidity. Blackberries, dark plums, suave fruit but also lots of earth, charcoal, graphite, charred earth, cedar, and savory spices. Richly flavorful, impressive complexity, but also quite fresh and accessible. (88 points)

2013 Viña Santa Rita Carménère Medalla Real Gran Reserva
- Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
Rich purple color. Nose shows juicy blackberries, plum cake, blueberry, along with smoky herbs, espresso, violets. Full-bodied with chewy texture, medium tannins and moderating acidity. Black currants and cherries loaded with flavors of pencil lead, fallen leaves, chicory coffee, cedar planks. Impressive structure but balanced and accessible already. (89 points)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Zachy’s Makes an Extravagant Splash in DC Wine Scene

New York-based wine importer, auction house and wine behemoth, Zachy’s, opened up shop here in Washington, DC, earlier this year, and I’m happy to have them as part of this dynamic wine scene.

They’ve been hosting tastings, seminars, auctions, and other wine events for a few months now, trying to attract savvy DC-area wine-lovers, of which there are many. I’ve been to a few events and have been impressed with the wines, the staff (some friends of mine), and service. For more info on Zachy’s DC branch and their wine sales, events, and storage facility,
click here.

This fall, I attended a large tasting organized by Zachy’s at DC’s Longview Gallery. It was a massive event with hundreds of wines, and unfortunately I didn’t have the time or palate ability to taste and take notes on all of them. 

But here is a good spread of some epic wines...

2016 Peter Lauer Ayler Riesling Senior Faß 6 (Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer)

Complex, deep aromatics. Crazy mineral depth, pristine fruit and floral tones. Wow, this is gorgeous young but will be phenomenal in a decade. (93 points)

2016 Peter Lauer Riesling Barrel X (Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer)
Incredible how complex this wine is already. Acidity is precise, texture is intriguing, pure fruit and tons of mineral depth. Wow, this will be something special in a decade but really exciting now. (91 points)

2015 Lioco Chardonnay Estero (USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley)
Another data point in support of my argument that Lioco Chardonnays are most excellent. This is pretty, vibrant, complex, fascinating stuff. Balanced between lighter body and intense acidity with complex fruit flavors, mineral and oceanic notes, some honey and nougat. Love it. (92 points)

2015 Lioco Pinot Noir Laguna (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast)
Tart red fruits, bright acidity, nice grip to the dusty tannins, lots of pomegranate, crunchy cherries, some complex spice tones. This has interesting development in the years ahead but so beautiful already. (93 points)

2016 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay (South Africa, Cape South Coast, Walker Bay, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley)
Buttery nose but also bright and chalky with lots of green and yellow apples. Zesty and chalky but lots of depth and richness as well, along with plenty of rich apple and apricot fruit. I’d love to cellar this for a few years. (92 points)

2016 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir (South Africa, Cape South Coast, Walker Bay, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley)
Lots of spice and rhubarb on the nose, with tart red fruits and pepper. Crisp, bright, but solid tannins. Bright but ripe red and black cherries, some cola, rhubarb, grilled rosemary – very pretty stuff that will improve for 5+ easily. (93 points)

2014 Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir San Andreas Fault (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast)
Cool, crisp but lots of bright red fruits and spices. Precise acidity, very bright and spicy but also some textural richness. (93 points)

2013 Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast)
Wow, so much more herbs and spices and savory elements here. Also lots of structured tannins, fresh acidity, and aging potential. Beautiful, balanced, wow. (94 points)

2012 Cobb Pinot Noir Emmaline Ann (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast)
Aromatic bliss of roses and red cherries. Airy and elegant but well-built, crisp on the palate with lots of bright red fruits and spicy herbs. Lovely stuff. (93 points)

2013 Cobb Pinot Noir Coastlands Vineyard (USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast)
I love the depth of herbal, spice, floral and red fruit elements in this wine. Balanced, plenty of ripeness but so fresh and lively and, despite complexity and age-worthiness, easy to drink. (93 points) 

N.V. Buena Vista Champagne La Victoire (France, Champagne)
Crisp, fresh, bright style with lots of tart green apples and pears, some almonds. Leaner style but well done. (88 points)

2013 Buena Vista Cabernet Sauvignon Carneros (USA, California, Napa, Carneros)
For a rich and fruit jam-packed Cab this stays lively and goes down easy with some fun non-fruit complexity. (89 points)

2008 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva (Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja)
So fresh and herbal with love red fruits and lots of complex pepper and spice. (93 points)

2007 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904 (Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja)
Spicy, tangy, structured well but also accessible – my notes say “wow” like three times. I’d love to bury a few bottles of this for a decade. (94 points)

2013 Zena Crown Pinot Noir The Sum (USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola - Amity Hills)
I’ve taken detailed notes on this wine in the past, and I stick by them – this wine is excellent. Love the briskness and depth, complex floral notes. Will only get better. (93 points)

2013 Zena Crown Pinot Noir Slope (USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola - Amity Hills)
Crisp but not lean, full of gorgeous flavors. Wow, I’d love to see what this does in five to eight years. (94 points)

2013 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Don Melchor (Chile, Maipo Valley, Puente Alto
Wow, tobacco city! This has a lot freshness in it for such a young Melchor, but delicious stuff. (92 points)

2014 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Don Melchor (Chile, Maipo Valley, Puente Alto)
Wow, a powerful young wine but so elegant and velvety even at this early stage. The violets, graphite, earth, savory spices – gorgeous. (94 points)

2015 Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis (Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Roero)
Peachy and floral with zesty citrus fruit, fun but not simple. (88 points)

2009 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Albesani di Neive (Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco)
Fresh and lively despite youth, so much earthy, savory complexity already but structure for the long haul. Beautiful stuff. (93 points)

2011 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Riserva Falletto Vigna Le Rocche (Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo)
SRP: $425
So floral and complex and earthy on the nose with tart, deep fruit and loads of spice. Deep tannins, brisk acidity, structure for aging is amazing. Still so pure and delicious at this young age. My wine of the night. (97 points)

2015 Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto Toscana IGT (Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT)
Earthy, dusty, rich texture, bold fruit, depth of non-fruit element. I’d love to let this sit for five to eight years. (89 points)

2014 Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri Sassicaia Sassicaia (Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Bolgheri Sassicaia)
Love the vibrancy and relatively early-drinking appeal of this vintage at this point in its life. I’ve tasted and taken detailed notes on this before, and this bottle was also delicious, and went down so easily. (93 points)

2015 Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo Toscana IGT (Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT)
Bright and spicy but dry and structured, really pretty red fruits and lots of floral/herbal/spice complexity. So good for the money. (89 points)

2015 Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno Toscana IGT (Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT)
Wow, this was fantastic. Super earthy and spicy aromatics with rich cherry, cedar, tobacco. So silky and velvety texture but serious grip and freshness for the cellar. Deep, rich, vibrant, complex – a really good one to forget about for five to eight to ten years. (94 points)

2014 Le Marquis de Calon Ségur (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe)
Super fun but also impressive structure and depth for a wine of this price point. Black cherries, earth, tar, floral – could improve for at least a handful of years easily. (89 points)

2014 Château Calon-Ségur (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe)
Still very young with strong grip, medium acid, tart currants, laced with sage, earth pepper. Impressive depth and concentration for the cellar. (94 points)

2008 Château Calon-Ségur (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe)
Great depth of spicy and herbal aromas (sage, bay leaf, pepper) on top of plums and red currant. Still grippy with plums, currants, herbs, leather. Long way to go still but showing nicely, although I’d decant this bad boy if drinking now. (93 points)

2009 Château Sociando-Mallet (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc)
Wow this is really showing well. Dark and rich but suave with pretty currant fruit and evolving tobacco/earth notes. (92 points)

2014 Château Malescot St. Exupéry (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux)
Nice grip, solid currant fruits, mixed with olive and graphite. Good now but lots of time ahead. (90 points)

2014 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)
So smooth despite density and structure. Lovely tart currant fruit and lots of earth. Obviously needs time but impressive. (91 points)

N.V. Allart & Fils Champagne (France, Champagne)
Lean, apples, tart, simple but fun. (87 points)

N.V. J-M Seleque Champagne Brut Solessence (France, Champagne)
Good amount of depth and precision on this wine, loaded with pears and biscuits. (88 points) 

N.V. Marguet Père et Fils Champagne Grand Cru Shaman (France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru)
Crisp, lemon curd, dusty minerals and chalk, fresh biscuits. Solid. (89 points)

N.V. Bollinger Champagne Special Cuvée Brut (France, Champagne)
Classic, zesty, toasty, always reliable and solid stuff. (89 points)

N.V. Tattinger Cuvee Prestige Rose Champagne (France, Champagne)
Fleshy, tangy, brisk strawberries and raspberries, easy and fun, lacking a bit of oomph but delicious. (88 points)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Awesome Arizona Wines from Aridus

Scott and Joan Dahmner founded Aridus (a derivation of the Latin word for dry or arid) in 2012 in Wilcox, Arizona. Aridus sources grapes from about 40 acres of estate vineyards above Willcox, Arizona (which sits at an impressive 5,200 feet in elevation). They also crush grapes from other vineyards in Arizona, and some grapes from New Mexico and California.

Built in a re-purposed apple warehouse, the Aridus winery produces a dizzying array of wines, everything form a New Mexico Pet-Nat Malvasia Bianca to Cochise County, Arizona Syrah and Malbec.

2017 marked the fifth vintage for this winery, and the first for their estate vineyard white wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Malvasia Bianca). This ambitious effort represents, for me, the evolving face of Arizona wine, which I find to be a dynamic wine scene full of exciting producers and diverse, delicious wines.

Why Arizona? “Hot days, cool nights, minerality in the soil,” Proprietor Scott Dahmer explains. “I believe Arizona is the next up and coming grape growing region which will produce unique, world-class delicious wines.” (For more details on my recent Arizona wine country jaunts, and why I tend to agree with Scott’s strong statement, check out
this article I wrote earlier this year.)

I received these wines as trade samples and tasted them sighted.

2016 ARIDUS Malvasia Bianca - New Mexico, Mimbres Valley
SRP: $37
Light yellow color. Wow, these aromatics pop! Limes, apricot, white peach, guava, all sorts of flowers and candied fruits. I like the plump texture on the palate, but the bright acidity is really refreshing – apricots, white peach, yellow raisins, matched with lots of white and yellow fruit blossoms. An impressive interpretation of this grape from a vineyard in New Mexico. Eight months in stainless steel, 13.7% alcohol. (88 points)

2016 ARIDUS Rosé - Arizona, Cochise County
SRP: $30
Light strawberry color. Aromas of peaches, roses, cut flowers, lively and fresh. Juicy and creamy texture on the palate, plump abut dry, bright acidity. Flavors of ripe apples, white peaches, strawberries, laced with spiced apple, clove and honeyed tea. Rich but zesty, a really interesting buttery characteristic to this rose, a richer style but delicious and quite balanced. A blend of Mourvedre and Grenache. (87 points)

2015 ARIDUS Malbec - Arizona, Cochise County
SRP: $37
Light purple color. Aromas of spiced cranberry sauce, tart plums, violets, sweet cola and molasses. Juicy texture, light tannins, medium acidity, but this is a jammy, rich Malbec with elements of espresso grounds, vanilla bean, fruitcake, some earthy charcoal elements. Tasty stuff. Aged 19 months in a mix of new French and new/used American oak. (87 points)

2014 ARIDUS Petite Sirah - Arizona, Cochise County
SRP: $40
Dark purple color. Aromas of tart black currant, juicy black cherries, and deep earthy notes (charcoal, scorched earth, loam, black pepper). The palate bold and grippy as expected, but the chocking thing about this wine to me is the freshness, really impressive. The fruit is dark and concentrated but also tangy, and mixed well with flavors of mesquite, sweet cocoa, black pepper and mocha, finishes with notes of stony minerals. Wow, I am really surprised by how good this wine is. Hats off. 14.2 % alcohol, all Petite Sirah, aged 16 months in 40% new French oak. (90 points)

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

This week I have another catch-all report, sourced from various samples received from wine regions around the world. The stars of the show for me are the Don Melchor, which is true to form and so suave, and a killer Merlot from McLaren Vale’s Hickinbotham. Oh, and Spanish producer Arinzano makes another appearance. We also have some more budget-friendly wines from France, Spain and Italy.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2016 Achával-Ferrer Malbec - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $23
Deep ruby color. Aromas of sweet plum, black cherry, roses and violets, mocha and sage. Full-bodied on the palate with medium-light tannins and fresh acidity, this wine goes down easily. Red plums and black cherry fruit, juicy and delicious, with some tangy cranberry spiced jelly, roses, coffee and mocha notes. Accessible texture and flavors but well-built and shows impressive balance. (87 points)

2016 Wolf Blass Chardonnay Blass Reserve Release - Australia, South Australia
SRP: $15
Bright yellow color. Aromas and yellow apples, apricot, honey and butter notes, some almond and vanilla. Medium-bodied (13% alcohol) with juicy, creamy texture and medium acidity. Rich apple fruit, but there’s a shot of lively citrus, too, and notes of honey and clove. Tasty, balanced, good value here. (87 points)

2016 Wolf Blass Red Blend Blass Reserve Release - Australia, South Australia
SRP: $15
Light purple color. Aromas of cola, cocoa, vanilla, on top of sweet plums, blackberry jam. On the palate, this has a plump mouthfeel, medium-body, light tannins. Black cherry and plums mix with smoky charcoal, cocoa, black pepper glaze. Rich fruit but the acidity helps it stay fresh. No grape variety info available. (87 points)

2016 Wolf Blass Cabernet Sauvignon Blass Reserve Release - Australia, South Australia
SRP: $15
Vibrant purple color. Aromas of sweet red and black currant jam, charcoal, eucalyptus, sweet coffee, mocha. On the palate soft tannins, moderate acidity, rich and fruity but fresh. Full of black cherries, raspberry jam, cola, mocha. Accessible and fun but maintains some depth and complexity for the price point. (87 points)

2014 Hickinbotham Merlot The Revivalist - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $75
Crimson color. Unbelievable nose of gushing red and black currants and plums, such depth and purity of fruit with notes of sweet roses, menthol, eucalyptus, cola, cigar box. Full but suave on the palate with surprisingly crisp acidity that keeps the wine fresh, with waves of red cherries and gushing blackberries. Complex notes of cola, violets, charcoal, sweet pipe tobacco, eucalyptus. Gorgeous, velvety, fresh, vibrant now but this will be even better with 5-7 years. All Merlot aged 15 months in French oak. (94 points)

2014 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Don Melchor - Chile, Maipo Valley, Puente Alto
SRP: $125
Bold purple color. Gorgeous aromatic complexity with tart black currants, black cherries, loamy soil, a host of sweet and spicy herbs (lavender, rosemary, black pepper, elements of graphite and smashed rocks. Bold presence on the palate with grippy tannins, lively acidity, such balance and depth in this wine. Crisp black cherry, juicy plums, blackberry, the fruit is bold but vibrant. Earthy, charcoal, black tea, mocha. Beautiful stuff but will be even better in 10 years. Wow, what a gorgeous wine. The 2013 is showing well young while this vintage sleeps. Tar, mocha, cedar and vanilla woven in well. Includes a combined 10% Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot, and the wine is aged 50% new French oak. (94 points)

N.V. Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Premiere Cuvée - France, Champagne
SRP: $50
Yellow color. Aromas of floral perfume along with almonds, apricots, lemon curd and limestone dust. Crisp and zippy, so focused, with a brisk and mineral-heavy presence. Lemon, orange, grapefruit mixed with toasted nuts, chalky minerals, saline. Good depth but a racier, fresher style. About 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Meunier, 6 g/l dosage. (90 points)

N.V. Laurent-Perrier Champagne La Cuvée - France, Champagne
SRP: $50
Aromas of buttered biscuits, salted almond, chalk dust, on top of baked yellow apple and quince paste. Nervy acidity frames the palate nicely, with flavors of apple, lemon curd and apricot blend with notes of buttercream, fresh biscuits, bread crumbs. Elements of white flowers, chalk dust and minerals add complexity. Creamy but so zesty, with impressive depth for a Champagne at this price. 55% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Meunier, aged four years, contains about 30% reserve wine. (89 points)

2007 Laurent-Perrier Champagne Brut Millésimé - France, Champagne
SRP: $80
Light gold color. Zesty aromas of lemon, apple, apricot, chalk dust and sea spray, mixed with biscuits, salted almonds, some honeycomb. Lovely creaminess, brisk acidity, precision is impressive. Lemon curd, green and yellow apple, apricot pits, with elements of yellow flowers, cut stems, chalk dust, saline, toasted baguette and flaky biscuits. Delicious now but will evolve nicely over the next few years. 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, sourced from all Grand Cru vineyards and aged seven years on the lees before disgorgement. (91 points)

2015 Ferraton Père & Fils Crozes-Hermitage La Matinière - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage
SRP: $23
Dark plummy color. Smoky and full of charred herbs and earth, along with sweet plums and black cherries. Medium-bodied with some medium/soft tannins. Juicy black cherries and plums mixed with peppercorns, charcoal smoke, some eucalyptus. Tasty, lighter style for near-term consumption. (87 points)

2015 Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
SRP: $14
Bold purple color. Nose of tart black cherries, red currants, smoky herbs, spicy pepper and violets. Full-bodied with some surprising grip to the tannins, medium-low acidity. Tangy black currants and red cherries with notes of charred herbs, cedar, mint, pine resin. Super fun stuff that has some interesting complexity for a wine at this price point. (88 points)

2016 M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Blanc - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon
SRP: $15
Light yellow color. Aromas of white flowers, sea breeze, clean laundry, on top of green apples and peaches. Pleasantly waxy texture but bright acidity, nice balance, and I get papaya and green apples drizzled with lime. Notes of chalk dust, dandelion, cut flower stems. Delicious, crisp, a reliable buy each vintage. Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Macabeu. (87 points)

2016 M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rouge - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages
SRP: $15
Bright purple color. Smells of old black cherries, plums, gushing fruit, mixed with sweet violets, roses, sweet coffee and rich earth. Plump and juicy on the palate but some medium tannins and fresh acidity keeps it together well. Smoky charcoal and grilled herbs accent the chewy plums and black cherry fruit. I get notes of violets, loamy soil, clove. Lots going on here for the price. Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. (88 points)

2015 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon Villages Latour Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem - France, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages Latour
SRP: $30
Deep purple color. Deep, complex, savory aromas, with black cherries and dark plums, laced with smoky herbs, leather, mushroom and fallen leaves. Full-bodied with serious grip on the tannins but the acidity frames it well, and the black cherry and dark plum fruit is rich but tangy. Tons of earthy-mineral, clove, spice, leather, black olive, charcoal – complex and savory and delicious, this has a lot to show in the cellar. Consistently one of the best $30 red blends I find coming out of Southern France, and this vintage is no different. Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. (92 points)

2016 Kellerei Bozen Kerner - Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige - Südtirol
SRP: $20
Pale lemon color. Aromas of peaches, apricot, lychee, orange blossom and honeysuckle. Plump but crisp on the palate with a medium+ body (14% alcohol), fresh lemon, apricot and lychee fruit. Notes of white tea, chalk, salt mineral notes. Not a lot of depth but quite nice. (87 points)

2014 Cantina Andriano Lagrein Tor di Lupo Riserva - Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige, Alto Adige - Südtirol
SRP: $50
Deep purple color. Aromatic waves of tart black currants, blackberry, dark and spicy with notes of smashed rocks, anise, spiced black tea. Lively acidity and tight tannic grip frame the palate nicely for the tart black currant and roasted fig fruit. Notes of charcoal, black tea, rocks, minerals, anise. This is spicy, complex but pretty stuff. I’d love to cellar this for five years, but it’d also be a great addition to any dinner table now. (91 points)

2016 Tasca D'Almerita Sicilia Tascante Buonora - Italy, Sicily, Sicilia
SRP: $20
Pale lemon color. So pretty on the nose with lots of peach and pineapple, lemon, along with wildflowers, onion grass, and salty sea breeze. Medium-bodied with a creamy texture supported by bright acidity, with generous helpings of sliced pineapple and green melon drizzled with lime. Notes of seashells and chalk dust and lemon verbena, lovely mineral depth. Plenty of fruit and non-fruit complexity to make it delicious and accessible but serious and worthy of some dynamic food pairings. Made from 100% Carricante. (90 points)

2014 Tasca D'Almerita Sicilia Tascante Ghiaia Nera - Italy, Sicily, Sicilia
SRP: $20
Gorgeous cherry color. Wow, beautiful depth of fruit (red cherry, cranberry, wild raspberry), along with rose petals, chewing tobacco, mint, white pepper. Medium-bodied with nice grip to the tannins, fresh acidity, and lots of tart black and red fruits. Complex elements of leather, spiced coffee, rose petals, chewing tobacco and clove. (88 points)

2014 Tasca D'Almerita Nerello Mascalese il Tascante - Italy, Sicily, Sicilia
SRP: $50
Red cherry color. Bright red cherries, tart red cranberries, lots of clove and earthy spice and leather, with some rose petals and cola. Bright and zippy but some serious grip to the tannins, on a medium-bodied frame. Bright and tart red cherries and cola with spicy herbs and clove and pepper. Really tasty stuff with fun appeal, but impressive complexity, too. Delicious now but this will improve for quite some time. (91 points)

2016 Bodegas As Laxas Rías Baixas Laxas - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas
SRP: $16
Medium gold color. Nose shows peaches and lemons with sea salt and cut flower stems. Creamy but super zesty with flavors of peach, apricot and papaya, topped with flavors of floral perfume, nettle and honeysuckle. Fun, lively stuff. (86 points)

2016 Santiago Ruiz Albariño Rías Baixas - Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas
SRP: $19
Pale lemon color. Aromas of peaches, orange blossom, sea salt, cucumber and rainwater. Zesty on the palate with pleasant creaminess, and delicious flavors of sea salt, white flowers, chalk, sliced cucumber, on top of lemons, white peaches and nectarines. Lovely stuff, goes down easy, but quite complex as well. (89 points)

2010 Arinzano Arinzano La Casona - Spain, Navarra, Arinzano
SRP: $40
Rich ruby color. Beautiful aromas of bright red and black cherries, crunchy plums, laced with cocoa, cedar, forest floor, clay pots, chewing tobacco. Full and tannic on the palate but lively acidity lends balance to this young wine. Sweet cherries, dark plums, currants, the fruit is loaded with cocoa, chewing tobacco, eucalyptus, charcoal, and a long, lingering, mineral-laden finish. Still very young with a long life ahead but can show well now with a good decant. 75/25 Tempranillo/Merlot. (92 points)

2012 Arinzano Hacienda de Arinzano - Spain, Navarra, Arinzano
SRP: $20
Bold purple color. Nose is packed with currants and plums, complex elements of incense, charcoal, clay pots, cigar smoke, violets. Grippy tannins, serious structure, but acidity stays fresh, balance is on point. Plums and currants, bold fruit but mixed with complex elements of earth, eucalyptus, pepper, fallen leaves, spicy tobacco. Concentrated but lively with a long life ahead. Tempranillo with 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Stellar for the price. (92 points)

2017 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc - New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
SRP: $15
Pale lemon color. Nose shows explosive grapefruit, lime, bell pepper and honeysuckle. Zesty acidity on the palate with all the classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc elements firing: grapefruit, lime, white peach, jalapeno and bell pepper. I get some clove and white pepper elements as well. A reliably fun example of this style. (86 points)

2016 Kim Crawford Pinot Noir - New Zealand, South Island
SRP: $19
Medium ruby color. Aromas of spicy red cherries and wild raspberries, along with rhubarb, tobacco and white pepper. Light tannins on the palate, bright acidity, this is a fresh, zesty, food-friendly style with lots of fresh cherries, raspberries, red apple peel. Notes of spicy green herbs, white pepper and tobacco leaf. Reliable, easy-drinking, tasty stuff. (87 points)

<85 points

2016 Abbazia di Novacella (Stiftskellerei Neustift) Müller-Thurgau - Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige, Valle Isarco/Eisacktaler
SRP: $20
Pale lemon color. Aromas of lemons, limes, peaches, flower stems and quinine. Salty and brisk on the palate with tart lemon and under-ripe apricot fruit. Tart, light, underwhelming and watery with a short finish. Pass.

N.V. Delia Tempranillo - Spain
SRP: $7
Medium ruby color. Aromas of spicy red cherries, raspberry leaf, tobacco and dandelion greens. Light/medium-bodied with bright acid and lean tannins. Sour cherries and raspberries blend with tobacco and some coffee. Good for the price but simple and slightly out of whack.

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.