Unlike most of the country, it seems, Spring came to Houston pretty much when it usually does, in January following a couple of weeks of Winter (while snow “storms” only happen about once a decade, we actually had two–or was it three–days with snow accumulation, the most being 1/2 an inch). As such, I decided to clear out a few tasting notes that were grouped together, waiting for at least a few more wines so that it might constitute enough for a singular post.
Eventually these notes got buried in my “waiting for” folder and sadly were forgotten. Until now. Determined that no tasting note be left unpublished, here are two groups of wines that might still be available at your local wine shop or online:
The first two wines come from Cono Sur in Chile, a winery for which I have provided social media assistance (while I was paid for the work, the following views on the wine are my own):
2014 Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Especial Valle del Maipo, Chile: Retail $14. What can I say? Cono Sur does it again. If this winery is not on your list of weekday (and weekend) wines, I am not sure we can be friends. Each and every one of these wines over delivers on quality when compared to price and this is no exception. Plenty of fruit while still showing restraint, this wine has a (ever-so) slight green pepper aspect that I find captivating. Yes, there is plenty of fruit and a little verve, but it is that green pepper that makes this the food/wine pairing dream that it is. Grab a steak. Or a Pork chop. Or a mortadella mushroom and go to town. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-90 Points.
2016 Viña Cono Sur Riesling Single Vineyard Block 23 Rulos del Alto, Chile: Retail $16. A Chilean wine that harkens back to my time spent in Alsace. No, this is not exceedingly rich, nor is it the most profound Riesling I have had, but it is pretty darned good, particularly for the price. Minerality and lemon a go-go with just a touch of petrol. Ample acidity and fruit on the palate, finishing with a bit of chalkiness. For the price? It would be hard to find a better expression of the variety. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
The next four come from an online chat that I did last year with the fine folks in Paso Robles:
2016 Adélaida Chardonnay Paso Robles: Retail $40. I am going to go out on a bit of a limb and state that “Paso Robles” is not the first region that pops into view when one thinks “Top-Notch Chardonnay.” There are at least a few reasons for that stance (including the relative heat of the region), but this wine, at this price point, is a solid effort: golden in the glass with lemon meringue and oak lead to a lovely palate. Toasty and full, this clearly spends a bit of time on oak, but I am far from an oak hater—this is very well balanced and delicious. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2016 Justin Rosé Paso Robles: Retail $22.50 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. True Rosé. In the style of a traditional Provençal rosé with a pale peach color and aromas of strawberry fruit and acacia flower. Plenty of fruit on the palate, but understated as the tartness is at the forefront. The wine finishes with a touch of minerality and a slight chalkiness. Very nice. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2016 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc: Retail $25. 52% Grenache Blanc, 24% Viognier, 12% Roussanne, 9% Marsanne, 3% Clairette Blanche. I don’t know if I can say that Tablas Creek put Paso “on the map” but it certainly played a significant role in keeping it there. A leader in experimental farming and wine making in the country, Tablas is always challenging how Americans think of wine. Another kitchen sink type of blend, this wine combines many of the white Rhône varieties into a harmonious whole. Peach, pear, guava, and pineapple lead to a delicately fruity wine with trademark Tablas balance and depth. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2016 Vina Robles White 4: Retail $16. 45% Viognier, 27% Vermentino, 17% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Verdehlo. Being a math geek, the first thing I always do is verify the sum of the percentages (this one checks out). As I did that this time, I noticed that all four are fairly aromatic and wondered how they would compete in the glass. Very well, thank you very much. As I anticipated, the Viognier really comes through, with the Rolle (sorry, I prefer the French name to Vermentino) playing a supporting role (yeah, I realize what I just did there). Floral (honeysuckle) and exotic fruit (mango) dominate the nose and on the palate, this really is fantastic: rich fruit, brilliant tartness, and fabulous depth. This might be the perfect ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) crowd as there is tons of fruit, great acidity, no oak, and no malolactic fermentation (no buttery component). And at this price? No brainer. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.