Well, letâ€™s get this out of the way. I donâ€™t think itâ€™s going to be all that interesting to continue single-posting a whole case of wine. Iâ€™ve got more interesting things to write about. So letâ€™s kick it into high gear and mass-review the next 9, and get to the juicy conclusion.
Wine #4: Feudo Arancio 2006 Nero dâ€™Avola Sicilia IGT, Italy
Sicily is always going to be a haven for decent values if you like old-world wines with a modern flair. No exception here. Itâ€™s rustic, yet refined. Spicy, fruity and even a touch jammy. It tastes like a warm island in the Mediterranean, served up with buttery mussels and capers while feeling the warm afternoon breeze. No really! It was just like that!
Worth it? Yes. Get it again? Yes.
Wine #5: Garofoli Farnio 2007 Rosso Piceno DOC, Italy
Keeping in Italy for the next one, here we have a wine from the Marches region, a less-traveled area for most Americans, wine-wise. I mean, you canâ€™t visit a wine shop without tripping over a stack of Chianti of some sort, but when was the last time you had a wine from the Marches? Thatâ€™s right, you never have! Okay, just kidding, but they are few and far between, and this probably only made it over the ocean because it hitched a ride with a Verdicchio Castello di Jesi, (its neighbor). So this is a Sangiovese and Montepulciano blend. Itâ€™s about the quality you might expect from a Chianti Ruffina. Dry, slightly stewed fruit, hints of dried smoldering herbs, but with tannin consistent with Central Italian reds. Needs food, though.
Worth it? Er, sure. Get it again? Er, maybe. There are probably a hundred things Iâ€™d pick up before getting this again, but itâ€™s drinkable.
Wine #6: Caleo 2005 Primitivo Salento IGT, Italy
Yet another Italian wine, this one from the South in Puglia. If Italy has a Dirty South, Puglia is probably it, and you can really taste the terroir in any of the wines of the region. This is Primitivo, genetically the same as Zinfandel, but you could never mistake the two. Itâ€™s juicy in its own right, and has the prune-y flavors I get off of most of the Primitivo wines of the region. Itâ€™s a deep, dark, dried fruit, coarse tannin and some subtle spice.
Worth it? Yeah, I suppose so. Get it again? Yeah, maybe.
Wine #7: Garnacha de Fuego 2007 Old Vines, Calatayud, Spain
A selection from Spain! I am a long-time fan of Grenache, a grape that makes something different everywhere it goes. In Spain, where itâ€™s very warm, it makes this. Bold. Juicy. Got some blackberries. Some currants. A touch of clove and anise. Soft tannins. The flashy label? I donâ€™t care for it so much. It seems a bit cheesy to me. And they say wine and cheese go together. Ha! For an easy-drinking red, this kinda rocks. Needs fuller-flavored foods, though. Pizza. Spaghetti and meatballs. That kinda thing.
Worth it? Totally. Get it again? You bet!
Wine #8: Bodegas Otero Valleoscuro 2006 Prieto Picudo & Tempranillo, Castilla y Leon, Spain
What the heck is that? Prieto Picudo? Huh. Some Spanish grape, I suppose. Spain is still a great place to find values considering its developing status on the international wine horizon, at least with the lesser known regions and grapes. Like this one. What was it called again? Prieto Picudo. Huh. Well, it comes from the neighborhood of Ribera del Duero, although itâ€™s a far cry from that powerhouse. Strawberries. Light spice. Medium-light tannins. A bit higher acid. Itâ€™s a somewhat lighter red that you couldÂ probably just mistake for straight-up Tempranillo. It does contain Tempranillo but in a smaller proportion (15%) to the larger proportion of the other grape. What was that name again? Prieto Picudo. Huh.
Worth it? I suppose. Get it again? Yeah, sure. Why not?
Wine #9: Altos las Hormigas 2007 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
In Argentina, Malbec is king. No, wait. Not â€œkingâ€. Generally there is only one king in a specific locale. Whatâ€™s a good metaphor for something when there are lots of those things? Cockroaches? Yes! In Argentina, Malbec is a bunch of roaches! Theyâ€™re everywhere! No, no. Thatâ€™s not quite right either. How about â€œstarsâ€? Good, good! And poetic, too. So in Argentina Malbecs are like the stars in the sky. There are a ton of them. Some are brighter or dimmer, larger or smaller . . . um, cheaper or, uh . . . more expensive. Sigh. The point Iâ€™m getting at is there are a lot of Malbecs in Argentina in a wide range of styles, from light and juicy, to heavy and tannic, to overblown, overoaked and overpriced. And some . . . just are. Like this one. So much so that this description was primarily a distraction.
Worth it? Well, yeah, I suppose. Get it again? Well, yeah, I suppose.
Wine #10: Terra Andina 2007 Carmenere, Valle Central, Chile
Okay, now. We may be onto something here. The most often overhyped grape of Chile makes good. There is something about this that I find so pleasing. Itâ€™s like a certain crispness of character that Iâ€™ve grown so fond of in Cabernet Franc. Delicate, but with a punch. Thereâ€™s fruit here. And this light, delicate flower on top. Wow. This I did not expect. Requires further research.
Worth it? Hell, yes. Get it again? Hell, yes.
Wine #11: Henryâ€™s Drive 2007 Pillar Box Red
Itâ€™s a blend of Shiraz, Cab and Merlot. No surprise there. Itâ€™s Australian. Big. Fruity. Jammy. Unsubtle, but pleasant. Thereâ€™s really not that much to tell. The reason why Aussie wines dominate the market is because they are good, easy-drinking, and overall pleasing wines at a great price. â€œTails, you winâ€ right? Not exactly THAT, per se. But true, nonetheless. Something Iâ€™ve learned about the Australian wine is that itâ€™s a specific curve. Could be bell-curve. Could be parabolic. But price-to-quality certainly does plateau after about $25. That could spell trouble for their wine industry as a whole, but for the value seeker, it can save you some bucks. Iâ€™ll go as high as $50 for some oddball Mataro, just for nerdinessâ€™ sake. But really, itâ€™s pretty consistent. Heck, thatâ€™s probably another article altogether.
Worth it? Yep! Get it again? Yeah, if Iâ€™m in the mood.
Wine #12: Three Winds 2007 Syrah
This is another Australian w . . . huh, what? Itâ€™s French? But itâ€™sâ€”okay, okay . . . so itâ€™s French. â€œSouth of Franceâ€ it says. Specifically we know itâ€™s Languedoc, but the website says they collect grapes from all over the region. So I imagine itâ€™s really Vin de Pays, but not referred as such on the label. But really, itâ€™s made in such a new-world style, it might as well be Australian. Bold jammy fruit. Screwtop. Flashy branded label. Actually, the fruit DOES exhibit a few more â€œFrenchâ€-like qualities that differentiate it as a Syrah versus a Shiraz. Actual spice notes. A touch of black pepper. A fleck of clove. Awash inÂ jam. I know what theyâ€™re doing here. And itâ€™s selling like gangbusters. Really, what the heck does that mean? â€œGangbustersâ€? Ugh. Hereâ€™s the bottom line.
Worth it? Sure, whatever. Get it again? Only if you want to support the New-World influence on the old world regions, even if that means Languedoc. Oh, me personally? Nah.
Stay tuned for the juicy conclusion!