Falesco Tellus Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

W Tellus 2013Cabernet Sauvignon from Montecchio, Terni Province, Tiber Valley, Umbria, Central Italy, Italy

100% cabernet sauvignon

13.4% alcohol

Purchased: 6 March 2017 – $14.99

Opened: 18 Feb 2018

els: 8.9/10

James Suckling: 92

Wine Advocate: 90

Wine Spectator: 88

Cellar Tracker: 87

Umbria in central Italy is one of the 20 political regions and also one of the 20 wine regions in Italy.  This land-locked area is one of the smallest wine regions, 15th by vine acres planted, and 17th by wine volume produced, in Italy and is totally eclipsed by its larger and more famous adjacent northern neighbor: Tuscany.  This wine region maintains 4 levels of quality: DOCG, DOC, IGT, and table wine. The region grows Sangiovese and Sagrantino in profusion but recently, better known, non-indigenous grapes have successfully taken root in the area such as: Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine region is famous for its Orvieto wine, a sweet or a dry white wine blend of lesser known grapes such as: Procanico, Verdello, Grechetto, Canaiolo Bianco, and Malvasia Toscana.  This wine is named after the town of its origin, which is also the home of Nobelist: Enrico Fermi.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross, believed to have occurred naturally sometime in the 1600s in France, between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It is now the most widely planted grape in the world. In terms of acreage planted in this grape, Italy has the 8th largest plantings in the world, behind Argentina and ahead of South Africa. A thick-skinned grape that’s relatively easy to grow and maintain, exhibiting high tannins and acidity, along with cool climate-grown aromas of peppers and currants.

Brothers Riccardo and Renzo Cotarella, founded the Falesco winery in 1979 near the southwestern edge of the Umbria region. Falesco provides wines to Leonardo LoCascio Selections, a Winebow Group company that imports and distributes the family’s wines in the US.  The winery produces 4 IGT wines: Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a white blend. Additionally it produces a DOC white blend based on the Trebbiano grape.

The vineyards are located about a half mile east of the Tiber river and 4 miles west of the Apennines Mountains. There are 925 acres planted with various grapes which produce 2.6 million bottles of wine every year. The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown on 25 acres of calcareous clay at 990′ feet above sea level. The growing season diurnal temperature range is 55-85ºF.  Rainfall is plentiful during the growing season ranging from  1.5-5.5″ per month.  Occasionally, there may be a few days of snow in January or February but it doesn’t accumulate and it shouldn’t have any lasting detrimental affects on the vines.

The grapes are picked in early September then fermented and macerated for 15 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then racked into oak barrels for malolactic fermentation. A final 5-month racking, before bottling, occurs in new, 60-gallon French oak barrels. The winery targets a production of 80,000 bottles for this wine. These are young vines and 2013 was the first crop and vintage for the Tellus, a Latin word for Earth, Cabernet Sauvignon label. Not a bad first effort.

A ruby-red wine with a garnet rim. Aromas of blackberries and plums, with a hint of vanilla and spice. A medium-bodied wine with mellow tannins. A very nice, medium finish.

A good wine at a fair price. Try with a traditional Umbra dish of truffles pasta. An easy dish of fettucine, shallots, heavy cream, truffle shavings, truffle butter and butter.  Add some spicy meatballs on the side to complete the meal. Drink now, but should last until 2020-2023.

$10.89-21.99  wine-searcher.com

Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

W Los Vascos 2015Cabernet Sauvignon from Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, Central Valley Region, Chile

100% cabernet sauvignon

14.0% alcohol

Purchased: 6 March 2017 – $9.99

Opened: 16 Feb 2018

els: 9.0/10

James Suckling: 92

Falstaff Magazin: 91

Decanter: 90

Wine Spectator: 88

Cellar Tracker: 86

Colchagua Valley is in the southern and western portions of Rapel Valley, which itself is located in the middle of the 250 mile long Central Valley, all situated between the Andes to the east and the Coastal Ranges to the west. The northern edge of the Colchagua Valley is defined by the life-giving Rapel River and its main tributaries: the Tinguiririca and Cachapoal Rivers. The valley, sheltered from the cold Pacific winds by the Coastal Ranges, has a mild Mediterranean climate, warm but not too hot, or too cold, with rainfall that averages about 24″ per year, the majority coming in the winter. The main wine of the valley is Cabernet Sauvignon but in recent years Malbec has been added to the vineyards to capitalize on their Argentinian success on the eastern side of the Andes. The better wineries of Colchagua Valley have their vineyards located on the eastern slopes of the Coastal Ranges.

270 years ago the Echenique family, Basque immigrants to Chile, established their vineyards and winery in the Peralillo area of the Colchagua Valley, currently a small commune of less than 10,000 people.  The winery eventually acquired the name of Los Vascos meaning “The Basques” in Spanish. One hundred years later, in the 1850s, the family started to plant French derived vines and grapes which led to a large expansion of the vineyards and the wine industry in the area. In 1988 Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) acquired a 50% interest and management control of the Los Vascos property. The new management brought in new winery techniques and equipment; replanting many of the vineyards which presently and predominately, grow Cabernet Sauvignon (85%), but also Carmenere (5%), Syrah (4%), Malbec (1%), and Chardonnay (5%) grapes.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross, believed to have occurred naturally sometime in the 1600s in France, between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It is now the most widely planted grape in the world. Chile is second only to France in the number of acres planted of this grape. A thick-skinned grape that’s relatively easy to grow and maintain,  exhibiting high tannins and acidity, along with cool climate-grown aromas of peppers and currants.

The vineyards, encompassing a little less than 1600 acres, range in age from 15-70 years. The vineyards are at about 425′ above sea level with soils of volcanic loams and granitic sands. Although the vineyards are less than 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean they are protected from its cold winds by the Coastal Ranges and enjoy a distinct 4 seasons of Mediterranean climate. Growing season temperatures have a diurnal range of approximately 50-85ºF and rainfall amounts average a very dry 0.5″ per month or less. During the southern hemisphere winters rainfall can exceed, but a still dry, 2″ per month. Because of the arid climate the vineyards are drip irrigated.  The 2015 season saw unusually heavy spring rains which contributed to a late bud break.  The harvest was normal though.

The harvest, mainly by manual hand picking, took place between April 1st and May 13th. The grapes were de-stemmed and crushed immediately after picking and fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats between 77-81°F.  A maceration period ranging from 10-15 days was followed by a malolactic fermentation, also in stainless steel vats: unoaked, ostensibly, for the American palate.

A ruby-red color with a garnet rim. Aromas of red fruits and plums with a touch of herbs.  On the tongue it is bold but balanced. A wonderful wine with a medium, fresh finish.

An outstanding wine at an outstanding price.  A fine wine to pair with a fine, rich meal such as Osso Buco or a rib eye. Drink now, but should last until 2025.  Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$8.99 wine.com

 

Haras de Pirque Hussonet Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

W Hussonet 2011Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo Valley, Central Valley and Andes, Chile

100% cabernet sauvignon

14.0% alcohol

Purchased: 20 Aug 2016 – $12.99

Opened: 11 Feb 2018

els: 8.7/10

James Suckling: 95

Wine Spectator: 88

Cellar Tracker: 88

Eduardo Matte in 1991 purchased an estate he later named Haras de Pirque, a term derived from the combination of a name for a 1892 thoroughbred stud: Haras; which also is the French term for stud farm, and the Chilean commune name for the area: Pirque.  The estate is less than 20 miles southeast from the center of Santiago, Chile in the Maipo Valley and a little over 20 miles east of the Andes Mountain’s year-round snow fields. The estate, eventually growing to encompass approximately 1500 acres, lies on the western edge of a peripheral, Miocene-Pliocene aged, Andes’ thrust fault and has almost 250 acres devoted to growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The remainder of the estate is dedicated to raising horses for racing and show. The Hussonet name comes from a famous eponymous American-Chilean stud, whose offspring have achieved some success as race horses in Chile and Australia.

The vineyards and winery, beginning in 2003, were originally a 50-50 joint venture with the Italian company, Marchesi Antinori, and their first wine was a Bordeaux red blend under the Albis label.  The Hussonet label followed a few years later.

The Antinori family, an ancient clan believing they can trace their blood lines back to the 11th century BC city of Troy, and their winemaking, a more persuasively detailed chronicle, dating back to at least the time of the Florentine Renaissance, bought out Matte’s share in the Harris de Pirque estate in mid-2017 and they plan extensive changes to the winery and vineyards to better reflect their name, which is synonymous with prestigious wines in general and Super Tuscans in particular.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross, believed to have occurred naturally sometime in the 1600s in France, between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  It is now the most widely planted grape in the world.  A thick-skinned grape that’s relatively easy to grow and maintain and it exhibits high tannins and acidity, along with cool climate grown aromas of peppers and currants.

The Haras de Pirque vineyards are located between 1800-2100′ above sea level on the west side of an outlier Andes series of foothills. The soils are clays and loams mixed with large alluvial and colluvial stones. Growing season temperatures have a diurnal range of approximately 50-85ºF and rainfall amounts average a very dry 0.5″ per month or less. During the southern hemisphere winters rainfall can exceed, but still dry, 2″ per month.

There is no useful information available, that I can find, on the actual details of making of this wine.

The wine has ruby-red to purple color with a garnet rim. A bouquet of black currants, pepper, and a hint of vanilla. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, rich in tannins, but slightly drier and more acidic than usual for a Cabernet Sauvignon. The finish is short to medium.

A good wine at a fair price. Pair with a snack of hard cheese and salami.  Not a great wine to add to the menu for an expensive or fancy beef meal. Drink now, but should last until 2021.  Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$9.99-16.12 wine-searcher.com

Viu Manent ViBo Vinedo Centenario 2014

W Vibo 2014Bordeaux Red Blend from Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, Central Valley, Chile

65% cabernet sauvignon

35% malbec

13.5% alcohol

Opened 31 Jan 2018

els: 9.2/10

Wine Advocate: 91

Colchagua Valley is in the southern and western portions of Rapel Valley, which itself is located in the middle of the 250 mile long Central Valley, all situated between the Andes to the east and the Coastal Ranges to the west. The northern edge of the Colchagua Valley is defined by the life giving, Rapel River and its main tributaries: the Tinguiririca and Cachapoal Rivers. The valley, sheltered from the cold Pacific winds by the Coastal Ranges, has a mild Mediterranean climate, warm but not too hot, or too cold, with rainfall that averages about 24″ per year. The main wine of the valley is Cabernet Sauvignon but in recent years Malbec has been added to the vineyards to capitalize on their Argentinian success on the other side of the Andes. The better wineries of Colchagua Valley have their vineyards located on the eastern slopes of the Coastal Ranges.

In 1935 the Viu family, Catalonian immigrants, founded a Bodega in Santiago, Chile to bottle and market wines locally.   The family, in 1966 purchased a winery and its vineyards in the Colchagua Valley which included very old, pre-Phylloxera, French derived vines.  This purchase marked the beginning of the family’s proprietary production of wine. In 2009, Vibo made its appearance on the Chilean and International markets.

Viu Manent, the Viu family company, operates 3 vineyards, totaling 627 acres, in Colchagua Valley: San Carlos, La Capilla, and El Olivar.  The San Carlos vineyard is 370 acres of 40 year-old plus vines, some more than 100 years old, growing at 800′ above sea level in very thick and porous, silty-sand to clayey-sand soils. The vineyard was established in the 1800s with pre-Phylloxera, French root-stock and vines. The La Capilla vineyard is about 93 acres dedicated to red-wine-only vines growing at 750 feet in a pebbly limestone and limey soil.  The vines are on average 16 years old. The El Olivar is a new land acquisition which the company plans to develop into about 175 acres of vines at an elevation between 500-930′, located on the steep slopes, up to 45°, of the Coastal Range foothills in pebbly-clayey soils.

Vibo Vinedo Centenario is produced from the oldest vines from the San Carlos vineyard. The 2014 growing season was delayed by long spring frosts which eventually led to hot summer days in the low 80s°F but the nights were cooler than normal, resulting in sustained high acidity levels for the grapes until harvest.

The grapes were hand harvested, de-stemmed and crushed in stainless steel tanks. After a 5-day cold water soak the grapes were fermented in natural yeasts.  Malolactic fermentation occurred in oak vats. The wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, about 20% which are new oak.

The wine has ruby-red color with a garnet rim. A bouquet of fruity herbs and spice. The tongue stays happy with a great balance of tannins and acidity.  A wonderful finish.

An outstanding wine at a good price.  Serve with cheese, beef, lamb or duck. Drink now, but should last until 2020-2022. Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$16.99 wine.com

Bodegas Castano Solanera 2013

W Solanera 2013Other Red Blends from Yecla Region, Southern Spain

An Eric Solomon Selection

70% monastrell (mourvedre)

15% cabernet sauvignon

15% garnacha tintorera

14.5% alcohol

Opened 20 Jan 2018

els: 9.0/10

Wine Advocate: 92

Guia Penin: 89

Cellar Tracker: 88

Ramon Castano Santa and his 3 sons have nourished their Yecla vineyards since the 1950s and today they extend over almost 1500 acres, growing a wide assortment of grapes from the ancestral Monastrell, also known as Mourvedre, to Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Garnacha Tinta, Macabeo, Merlot, Moscatel, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Tempranillo. Some of the vines are in excess of 100 years old.  The vines for this wine are 40-100 years old, thus “vinas viejas” or old vines.

The family’s vineyards are located in the northern reaches of the Yecla region, near the foot of Monte Arabi, and are approximately 50 miles northwest of the Mediterranean coast, ranging from 1300-3000 feet above sea level.  The vineyards for this wine are from their Campo Arriba (high land) area and are just shy of 3000′ above sea level, growing in a low organic, clayey limestone with good drainage. The climate is a cross between Mediterranean and a continental weather conditions. Daytime temperatures during the growing season reach into the mid-80s and the night-time lows dip into the mid-50s°F. The summer rains are infrequent and sparse, delivering anywhere from 0.25-2.0 inches per month, perfect for the thick-skinned Monastrell grapes.

The Castano family grapes are used in this Eric Solomon selection and the wine making is supervised by Solomon and Jean-Marc Lafage.  The grapes are hand harvested and fermented separately in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then aged in French and American oak barrels for 10 months.

Dark ruby-red to purple in color with a light purple rim. Elegantly redolent of dark fruits and berries. A rich, thick taste of berries and chewy tannins. Balanced and delicious.

An outstanding everyday red blend at a good price.  Serve with cheese, lamb, pork; the spicier the food the better. Drink now, but should last for many years.  Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$14.99  wine.com

Wirra Wirra Church Block CSM 2013

W Church Block 2013Other Red Blends from McLaren Vale, Australia

50% cabernet sauvignon

37% shiraz

13% merlot

14.5% alcohol

Opened 10 Jan 2018

els: 9.2/10

Australian Wine Companion:  94

James Suckling:  92

Wine Enthusiast:  91

Wine Spectator:  90

Wilfred Wong:  90

Vinous:  89

The McLaren Vale wine region is centered around the eponymous small town populated with approximately 4000 people, located 20 miles south of Adelaide in South Australia.  The wine growing region, triangular in shape, is less than 20 miles in length and 8 miles in width, nestled between the Gulf of St. Vincent on the west-northwest and the Willunga Fault and scarp, known as the Sellicks Hills Range, along its southeastern edge. McLaren Vale grew famous with its Shiraz wines but today its 88 wineries produce world-class reds and whites; including Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvedre, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. It is not uncommon to find 100-year old vines in McLaren Vale vineyards.

The Wirra Wirra winery was established in 1969 by Greg Trott and others, out of the ruins of the 1894 winery started by a gentleman delightfully named, Robert Strangways Wigley. Greg Trott’s first Wirra Wirra labeled wine was the 1972 Church Block CSM, named after a vineyard adjacent to a small church.

The vineyards of McLaren Vale are subjected to a Mediterranean climate with dry summers and wet winters, perfect for growing red wine grapes.  Rains bring between 20 and 30 inches per year; the rains peaking in the southern hemisphere May to September winter.  Growing season temperatures range from daytime highs in the mid-80s to night time lows in the mid-50s degrees Fahrenheit. Frost and snow are almost unheard of anytime during the year.  The soils are generally well-drained, thin loamy sands with clays and clayey limes underneath.

This wine has a brilliant ruby-red hue with a narrow pink rim.  Redolent of black berries and plums. An intense taste of red fruits with lasting tannins, and a very long, balanced finish.

An outstanding red wine at a great price.  Serves well with beef and lamb. Tastes great by itself.  Tannins suggests that this wine will serve well for many years to come. A very versatile wine. Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$14.99-21.99  wine-searcher.com

Highway 12 Highwayman Proprietary Red 2012

W Highwayman 2012Other Red Blends from Sonoma County, California

Proprietary red blend:

     cabernet sauvignon

     cabernet franc

     merlot

14.8% alcohol

Opened 2 Dec 2017

els 9.1/10

Highway 12 is a North Coast, Sonoma County winery producing 3 brands of differing quality wines from the vineyards of Sonoma and Carneros regions: Highway 12, Carneros Highway, and their flagship wine: Highwayman.  The Highwayman lineup includes 1 white and 4 reds: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and 2 red blends.  Their Proprietary Red was the initial wine in this lineup with the blend of grape types and percentages changing from vintage to vintage.  The 2013 vintage is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot as opposed to this 2012 vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

Highwayman, the wine, commemorates the fabled gentlemen robbers of days gone by, who relieved, accessible and unguarded, or guarded, travelers of their possessions on the desolate stretches of road in many a nation’s country-sides. In California, a highwayman was known as a road agent, the most famous of which was probably Charles “Black Bart” Boles, a bandit with a particular affinity to Wells Fargo Coaches and their money boxes. He plied his trade of questionable legitimacy for 8 years during the late 19th century, along the deserted roads of northern California.  Black Bart, always armed with a shotgun but never fired during any of his roadside capers, acquired his name by leaving snippets of rhyming poetry at the scene of his crimes. Below is a sample of his poetry that he left at a robbery in 1877, with a slight, germane, editorial modification:

I’ve labored long and hard for (wine and) bread,
For honor, and for riches,
But on my corns too long you’ve tread,
You fine-haired sons of bitches.
 
— Black Bart, 1877.

Fortunately for all of us, highway robbery is now practiced by a better class of erudite individuals.

This wine has a black ruby-red hue, aromas of sweet black and blue berries, with whiffs of spicy herbs and earth, producing an enjoyable, full-bodied, long finish. It exhibits a powerful but balanced and delightful taste of chewy tannins and fruit. Perhaps a tad heavy by itself, better if served with a medium rare rib-eye.

An outstanding wine. Decant and aerate for at least one hour.

$19.38  wine-searcher.com

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