We taste a lot of wines before we hand select new members for our wine portfolio. These tastings go on all day and include 200+ wines for review. The ones that make the cut based off of price point, quality and value then undergo a second evaluation, one that leaves more than half of the survivors declined. The setup process begins then and can take a month or more depending on the label registration and shipping point. These are some of the ones that passed in June or even before.
Höpler’s Grüner Veltliner from the single Guttenberg vineyard is from older vines on a hill overlooking the Neusiedlersee in the Burgenland. The wine benefits from a little age and shows bright straw color leading to notes of citrus, passion fruit and apple carried on a medium framework with balancing acidity. This is a wine for more flavorful foods such as salmon, paté and fowl.
“Taut and focused, wrapping fine tannins around a lean core of licorice, mineral and blackberry flavors. Comes together into a long and expressive finish, braced by ample acidity. Drink now through 2020. 91” Wine Spectator
“Garnet-purple colored and presenting a nose of plum preserves, dried fruit cake and crème de cassis with a hint of mocha, the medium to full-bodied 2012 Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz gives plenty of appealing dried berry flavor in the mouth though the tannins are a little astringent and acid a bit tart. It finishes with good length. Drink it now to 2017+. 86” Wine Advocate
“Supple, sleek and appealing, with black cherry, plum cake and sweet leather flavors slipping into the polished finish. Drink now through 2019. 90” Wine Spectator
Stoller Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 – Willamette Valley, Oregon
“Focused, ripe and generous, with black cherry, licorice and spice flavors wrapped in a thick layer of gentle tannins. The flavors push through on the long finish. Best from 2016 through 2020. 90” Wine Spectator
“A barrel-fermented blend of 91% Viognier and 9% Roussanne, the 2013 Viognier Love Struck offers solid notes of white fruits, citrus and tinges of minerality in a juicy, clean, easy-drinking package. This was a difficult vintage for whites, but this is a good effort that’s best consumed over the coming year. The estate commented that they made a lot of changes with this wine, adding a new vineyard, vinifying with more lees stirring and aging in a small amount of new wood. 87” Wine Advocate
This is a new level for Chianti Classico above riserva. The wine has to be at least 13% alcohol and aged for at least 30 months before release. The appellation became effective in 2010 but wines that were in barrel and already fit the criteria were allowed the appellation. The blend is 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo grapes grown organically. At seven years of age, the wine shows bright ruby color; notes of cherry, tobacco and a hint of vanilla from the oak and medium body and a velvety finish. This wine shows what aged Chianti can be.
Sardegna is surrounded by ocean and the fishing boats bring in the fresh seafood daily. This Vermentino from the northeast part of the island shows the bright apple and quince notes of the variety with crispy acidity to match any shellfish or grilled fish.
Wines from Calabria in the toe of the Italian boot are not easy to find in America but worth trying for their individuality. This one is 100% Greco Bianco, a local grape brought to Italy by the Greeks. It opens with straw color leading to notes of white flowers, tropical fruit and minerals with crisp acidity that is a perfect match for the local seafood.
Brad Lewis, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits marketing consultant