The Cellar Door: Spring Summary

Recently, it seemed appropriate to gather and compile my tasting notes into a list of BEST BUYS & HIGHLY RECOMMENDED wines.  To make it easier, I have split it into 4 categories: Sparkling Wine & Champagne, White Wine, Rose’ and Red Wine and by price.SPARKLING WINE & CHAMPAGNEJacqueline Brut  Blanc de Blanc, (France, Cremant) $6.25 Nice tiny bubbles with a fruity & citrus nose.  In the mouth it has a creamy feel with hints of green apple.  Interesting nutty finish.  Simple and clean. Excellent value. BEST BUYGloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut (California, USA) $19.95  BEST BUYMostly Pinot Noir.  Excellent color & bubbles.  Nose with yeast and deep fruit.  In the mouth it shows full flavors of mango, citrus, honey, spices and earth.  Excellent with spicy foods, rich sauces and other full main courses.  

Moet & Chandon Rose’ Imperial (Champagne, France) $64.70
Truly elegant and complex.  Lovely pink color.  Long lasting, tiny bubbles.  Elements of smoked salmon, strawberries, blueberries, cherries and a hint of wood.  When you want one of the best, you can’t go wrong here!  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2013 Trapiche Pinot Grigio  $5.75 13% alc. Argentina
Dry, crisp, almost tart but with good pinot grigio character.  Hints of lemon, citrus and grass.  BEST BUY

2012 Crios Torrontes  $8.40  Torrontes is the grape and it is only grown in Argentina.  This lovely fruity, dry white is full of the flavors of peaches, apricots, lemon, muscat grapes and a spiciness which comes through in the finish.  It also is complex enough to have a bit of earthiness.  I recommend it for lighter meats (turkey, ham, pork, chicken), seafood and fish.  My prediction: torrontes will be the new pinot grigio.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2012 Terrazas Riserva Torrontes $15.65 13.5% alc. Argentina. Screwtop  Full bodied.  Floral hints with complex flavors.  A bit grassy but well balanced. Other flavors of ginger, apple and passion fruit. If you feel like an unoaked or lighter chardonnay, try this instead.  Should go well with pastas of all sorts, especially alfredo or seafood pasta.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2011 Eroica Riesling $25.70 11% alc. Washington State, USA.
This is jointly produced by Chateau Ste. Michelle and Ernest Loosen, the famous German winemaker.  A world class wine, so complex that every sip reveals something new and exciting.  Stone fruits of peaches, apricots, plums; strawberries, limes etc.  Mouthwatering acidity keeps it from tasting sweet.  In perfect balance right now.  Great with seafood, especially crab and lobster and our local shrimp. Desserts too. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2012 Crios Rose’ of Malbec $8.75 This is a bit unusual.  Usually, malbec is made into a fuller bodied red wine.  Dry but fruity with hints of strawberry, blueberry and other bright fruits.  Crisp and lovely.  It has the body to cut through the heavier dishes but delicate enough for chicken, ham, Asian food and fish. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2012 Pasion de Bobal, Rosado, $9.00, 12.5% alc. Spain
This is made entirely from the bobal grape, a lesser known Spanish variety.  It is complex with a lovely light watermelon juice color.  Crisp with flavors of green apple, sweet cherries, minerality and a long finish.  This is versatile and can be drunk alone or with light or medium bodied food.   BEST BUY

2012 Gaia 14-18h, $10.25, 13% alc. Greece
This was maybe the most surprising.  I have had other Greek wines, but never a rosé.  Made from the agiorgitiko variety with 14-18 hours of skin contact.  I guess that’s where they got the name of the wine. Medium pink color with a crisp and dry feel.  Citrus, floral and complex.  Fuller bodied than most rosés, almost like a red wine without the tannin astringency. This cries out for full flavored foods like pasta with tomato sauce or grilled meats or veggies.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2012 Minuty Cuvee de L’Oratoire, $20.50, 13% alc. France
The lightest in color of all the rose’s tasted and the most complex. Mostly Grenache. Smells and tastes of peaches, nectarines, coconut, pineapple and other tropical fruits.  Black cherry on the finish, which goes on for a long time.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2010 Palo Alto Reserva Organic Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon.  $7.95, 13.5% alc. Chile
WOW, what a wine for the price. Great QPR (quality price ratio)  Made from organically  grown grapes.  Delivers from start to finish with a complex nose of mint, spice and multiple fruits. Flavors of earth, clay, berries, toast and leather.  Long finish. BEST BUY

2009 Petret Tinto, $7.95, 13% alc. Spain
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Nice full nose with herbs, blackberries and other fruit.  Well balanced.  A bit hot (alcoholic) at first, but it calmed down after a few minutes in the glass. BEST BUY

2012 Col di Sasso Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, $10.60, 13% alc. Italy
What a gorgeous wine! Nose of rose petals, berries and chocolate.  Elegant without being powerful. In the mouth it changes with every sip to give chocolate, cherries, blueberries, spices, vanilla and much more.  We were both bowled over with this wine and had the rest of the bottle for dinner.  It proves that bigger is not better.  It sings rather than shouts.  And I would much rather be sung to than shouted at! BEST BUY

2010 Casillero del Diablo by Concha Y Toro Reserva Privada Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah  $12.15, 14.5% alc. Chile
Very nice wine with good QPR.  Flavors of black cherries, chocolate, spices, toast and vanilla. Very long finish of chocolate covered cherries. BEST BUY

2008 Nunc Crianza, $13.85 13.5% alc.  Spain
A lovely blend of Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Loads of fruit, but definitely from the old world.  You can taste the vineyards it comes from. BEST BUY & HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
2008 Luis Canas Reserva  $16.00 14.5% alc. Spain

100% Tempranillo.  Tannic and young.  Chocolate, cherries, earth and a finish that goes on for a long time.  I would like to taste this again after it has been open for a few hours.  Definitely a candidate for more aging. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot. $18.55, 13.5% alc. Washington State, USA
This was a real surprise.  A very versatile wine, beautifully balanced from beginning to end.  Evolved in the glass to show mint, black pepper, complex flavors and a very nice finish.  Medium bodied so it can go with anything from seafood to grilled meats.  Nicely mature. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2008 Parraleta Emocion, $43.75, 13.5% alc.  Spain
100% Parraleta.  Aged in French and American oak barrels.  From organically grown grapes grown on the estate.  What a wine!  Every sip is different and tells a unique tale.  Clay, herbs, leather, chocolate, berries.  And that’s just the beginning.  Really needs time to breath in the bottle or glass. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

M. Stefan has over 20 years experience in the wine trade and has traveled extensively throughout the wine producing regions of the world.  His column is a regular feature of La Playa Community.  He can be reached at and appreciates your comments.