Domaine la Casenove La Garrigue 2009 ($15). This blend of carignane, syrah and grenache is a ridicously delicious wine for the price. We highly recommend it. From the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France, it shouts ripe red berry fruit and a earthy, barnyard garrigue personality.
La Grange de Quatre Sous Cuvee Garsinde 2014 ($20). We weren't surprised to see this wine imported by Kermit Lynch. You can count on this importer to find interesting producers from France and this Pay D'Oc is a delicious blend of malbec (60 percent), cabernet franc and syrah. Forward, ripe blueberry and strawberry fruit with a velvet mouthfeel.
The following Alsatian wines were tasted at a recent dinner in Naples, FL. They are all imported to the U.S. by Kermit-Lynch.
- Kuentz-Bas Alsace Blanc 2014 ($18). I loved this wine for its refreshing quality. A blend of sylvaner, auxxerois and muscat grapes, it has deceiving depth, bright acidity, floral aromatics, peach flavors and a dash of minerality.
- Domaine Albert Boxler Pinot Blanc 2013 ($31). Orange, apricot and petrol notes dominate this high-acidity wine.
- Domaine Ostertag "Fronholz" Muscat 2009 ($44). This special treat falls heavy on the palate but the weight is offset by tantalizing honey and stone fruit flavors. Fermented in small barriques.
- Domaine Ostertag "Fronholz" Pinot Noir 2005 ($52). This may be the only Alsace pinot noir that I've scored well. In a sea of plonk, this version stands out for its unique and hard-to-describe flavor profile. Violet aromas, ripe strawberry and raspberry fruit, lingering finish and a dash of licorice.
- Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Rieslng Grand Cru Rangen de Thann "Clos St. Urbain" 2005 ($82). Wow, what a mouthful. This small-production riesling is from one of the most reputable grand cru vineyards in Alsace. Bold and dense in structure, it oozes peach and melon flavors, an extraordinarily long finish and a powerful balance of acidity and plumpness.
Clos du Val Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($52). This historic property seems to have turned a big corner with a series of new estate-grown wines made by the new team of Steve Tamburelli, president and CEO, and Jon-Mark Chappellet, director of operations, and winemaker Ted Henry. The wines slipped in quality in recent decades, but this house cabernet takes it back to the quality that made it famous in the Judgment of Paris. This wine is concentrated and complex with a velvet texture and rich plum and cocoa flavors.
Saldo California Zinfandel 2015 ($28). From The Prisoner Wine Co., this lively and rich zinfandel shows off beaucoup raspberry aromas and strawberry, blackberry flavors with a hint of oak and vanilla.
Concannon Vineyard Mother Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($45). Concannon earned a footnote in history by being the source of virus-resistant vines back in the 1960s. It estimates that today 80 percent of California's cabernet sauvignon is planted with Concannon clones. The fruit for this aptly named cab comes from vines of the first planting. It's a winner. Smooth, quaffable, mouth-filling fruit. Ripe plum and black cherry notes with a hint of mocha and a long finish.
Drumheller Columbia Valley Merlot 2015 ($12). The merlots from this Washington state region are overshadowed by syrah and cabernet, but shouldn't be. This incredible deal is medium-bodied, rich and tasty merlot that is blended with 20 percent syrah. Blueberry and plum notes with a hint of chocolate. The Drumheller cabernet sauvignon ($12) is also a killer wine with cocoa powder and expresso to accent the dark berry flavors.
Olema Chardonnay Sonoma County 2014 ($15). This a lot of wine for the price. Citrus and pineapple in the nose with mouth-coating tropical fruit flavor framed in a bit of toasty oak. A lot of wine for the price.
Markham Vineyards Merlot Napa Valley 2014 ($28). If you've forgotten how good a California merlot can be, try this delicious example from a well-respected Napa winery. Fantastic aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry and mocha waft from this elegant wine. Firm but soft tannins make this wine drinkable now or a candidate for 3-5 years of aging.
Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc Awatere Valley Marlborough New Zealand 2014 ($22). Classic well-made Marlborough sauvignon blanc with ample grapefruit. passion fruit, cut grass and herb notes. Refreshing thirst-quenching acidity.
Charles Krug Merlot 2013 ($25). Merlot fans looking for a good deal should turn to this flavor knock-out. Made by one of the oldest winery's in Napa Valley, some cabernet sauvignon, malbec and cabernet franc is blended with the merlot. Big-time, forward and ripe black cherry flavors and a dose of vanilla.