This is the third vintage of Saintayme I have tried and I am always amazed that this is 100 percent Merlot. It is a substantial wine that I would swear has to have some Petite Verdot or Cabernet in the mix. That is the case in Bordeaux; Merlot is not a wimpy wine. Big, broad, dark berry fruit with enough tannic grip in the back to allow for a few years of aging, though you could drink it now with a hearty meal. This is a lot of wine for the money. Buy several bottles to drink over the next 3 to 5 years.
Upon first glance, Split Rail’s newest red blend “Swamp Donkey” stands out with its imaginative label that features “Snake River Valley” prominently on the front. The adorable donkey wearing “Wellington” boots that suggest it may have been trotting through a quagmire or a puddle-strewn marshland. That’s what I thought when I first looked at it, but then I spoke with Split Rail’s Jed Glavin and he explained to me that “swamp donkey” refers to a person who walks around in trenches, as in messy wine cellars. I might add that if you look up “Swamp Donkey,” you will also get several other colorful, colloquial meanings that definitely have nothing to do with wine. The wine itself, according to Mr. Glavin is a “baby GSM,” mostly Mourvèdre with a little Grenache, Syrah and a few additional red varieties. I was lucky enough to try the Swamp Donkey and it is a great red blend! It tastes kind of like a cross between a Bordeaux blend and a Southern Rhône—slightly fruit-forward with berry accents on the finish—similar in style to Split Rail’s incredibly popular Laser Fox Cinsault. I really like their newest creation and I can see it going really well with barbecue, burgers, or even a steak. It is flavorful enough to drink on its own as well, but definitely decant this one or let it stand open a few hours before pouring to maximize the ample flavor profile. I am not BS-ing you, so the Wellington boots are not actually necessary: Swamp Donkey is a really great wine!
As the weather gets cooler, I am still drinking white wines, but I'm moving toward the more full-bodied styles. This Chardonnay has good weight to it, but as it was fermented in stainless steel, it's fresh and has a lively crispness to it. Here is what the Wine Enthusiast said about this delicious wine: “Fermented entirely in stainless steel, this wine nonetheless offers an oak-like body and warmth of vanilla and Baked Alaska, ripe and grippy flavors around a tightness of texture. A pretty note of honeysuckle provides a more delicate sense of elegance. 90 Pts”
Our old friend Fred Magnien has hit it out of the park with this delicious Chardonnay. Tons of floral green apple fruit and crisp minerality with an easy to drink style that makes it my new house Chardonnay this fall. You have to try this beauty that’s sourced from multiple sites in the Côtes de Or.
When I tried this wine with Barry I was in love at first sip. Here is a northern Rhône Syrah that is priced like Côtes du Rhône, but it still provides the smoky berry spice you would expect from the north. From the village of St. Joseph, it delivers pure fruit and a forward drink-ability for half the price of its neighbors. This is one of my picks for a fall red that I will drink by the case.
I tried and enjoyed this wine when it first came in a few months ago; I had been meaning to sit down with a bottle of it for a while now, and decided this month's wine pick would be the perfect opportunity to do so. First of all, it comes from the southern part of Burgundy, south of the Côte de Beaune, near the town of Mâcon. There are no Grand Cru or Premiere Cru vineyards in this region, but what you will find are some very good wines at very reasonable prices. This is an excellent entry level white Burgundy (aka Chardonnay) from the 2015 vintage, which is showing us some very nice wines that are ready to drink now. It’s unoaked Chardonnay, aged entirely in stainless steel tanks which helps to showcase the fruit. On the nose, the wine is very straight forward, showing notes of lemon and green apple, but on the palate, the complexity increases. And along with the lemon and green apple, you'll find a baked apple spice and a touch of minerality. The wine has great mouthfeel and texture. This is not a wine to be cellared—buy it now and drink/gulp it over the next year or two! A perfect crowd pleaser for the upcoming holidays!
Many, if not most of the Txakoli I have tasted have been oh-so-crisp, lean and lively wines something like a Vinho Verde. They are the perfect thirst quenching choice on a hot summer day. This is not one of those. I’ve tried other Txakolina from this winery, and they are a step above and beyond the more typical style. This one takes it to another level still. Extraordinarily fragrant with creamy citrus, green apple, spice, mineral and a light salinity. The palate is surprisingly fruit forward for a Txakoli, offering lively lime, apple and even apricot. For all that rich fruit, it still has the bracing acidity you expect from this region, making for a perfect match with most seafood. Still a great choice for summer, but with its richness, balance and complexity, it’s a white for all seasons, and just the thing as we segue into autumn.
For the people who insist that Old World Wines are too earthy, dusty and without fruit, this is the wine for you. For the people who insist that all New World Wines are fruit bombs with no character, this is the wine for you! Yes, this Portuguese blend is a balance of both the Old and the New World. Pronounced aromas of red leather and August dust give way to bright cherry fruit and rhubarb acidity. The finish again takes us back to the home country with garden shovel minerality. Great price, too! Portugal is what I call an emerging market. Not a whole lot of people are familiar with how great these wines are; so the supply and demand side is more weighted on the supply side, ergo, lower prices. Enjoy this great 'bridge' wine with medium cheeses, Jamon and meat sauces.