Suggested retail price $18-$20
Surprisingly, compared to most of the brand coming from New Zealand and despite the very commercially oriented and marketed colorful label, this is a family owned winery... probably one of the last one fighting against giant money making corporate companies that swallowed nearly every vineyards in New Zealand within the last few years.
It is a classic New Zealander Sauvignon Blanc: the grassy and goose berry notes on the nose are quite powerful and inviting. The palate is overall clean, crisp and quite long with a lovely acidity accentuated by hints of citrus - lime flavors lingering in the finish. A good wine in my opinion but it doesn't command such a price. I guess it is the only way to survive for one of the last family owned estate in NZ.
2007 Strada del Sole Chardonnay Piemonte Castel Boglione Italy
Suggested retail price $16-$19
A real discovery, this wine was quite intriguing, almost like a compromise between a Jura wine with wild fresh almond notes and a white Burgundy with fruit and depth, complemented with the minerality and the crispiness of a high altitude vineyards white from the northern part of Italy. I loved it.
The nose boasts notes of golden apple, fresh almond, nut shell, minerals, and floral undertone. Showing a slight touch of oxidation (like a Jura white) that adds dimension, the wine is bright, vivid, with a good combination of yellow fruits, minerals and acidity. Balanced and quite long, it could definitely be enjoyed during the summer, but like Jura, Swiss and Savoie whites, it also the perfect companion for Cheese Fondue and earthy dish (creamy mushroom soup, etc) after a good snow day in the mountains. A Cheese tray with Livarot, Reblochon, Epoisse, Triple Cream will surely be enhances by such a wine. Try it, it is intriguing but very interesting, and quite good I must say (especially in this kind of price range).
2007 Vini Menhir Novementi Rosato Salento #9 - Apulia Italy
Suggested retail price $14-$17
This 100% Negroamaro rose is lush, creamy, and food oriented, with a wintery mouthfeel. The palate offers a lot of fruit, richness and roundness. It will definitely please the people that drink rose all year old (and not only during spring or summer....). Earthy, fruity and robust enough to support red meats.
2007 La Planta Ribera del duero Spain
Suggested retail price $16-$19
The entry level of the Arzuagua winery (neighbor of Vega Sicilia) is always an happy moment for me. I have been following this wine for the past 3 or 4 vintages now, and I have always been satisfied overall.
Granted, some people may say: too rich, on the edge of over ripeness and too much oak.. and I won't say the opposite, but eh, it is a Ribera del Duero after all, and we are far from the old trend of Ribera's rustic and tannic wines.
The new generations are producing much more fruit forward and heavier style than before. Vega Sicilia and Condado de Haza (some of my favorite wines in this world) are surely making elegant, harmonious and age worthy wines that are more traditional in style. However, Peter Sisseck's Pingus, Bodegas Aalto, Mauro or even Vina Sastre (to name only a few) are in the lead of some of the best wineries in Ribera and they produce much riper, concentrated style.
La Planta is a dark, spicy, rich, concentrated, strong, inky little wine. Some may found trace of bitterness due to some tannins and the alcohol, but decant it first then drink it with a nice juicy steak on the grill or even better, the specialty of the region, Chuletillas de Cordero (small grilled lamb chops). Fantastic!