November 2008: Holiday Wines for $25 or less

December 7, 2008 at 7:50 am Leave a comment


The inaugural tasting for the newly formed Tasting Circle was to taste 11 wines that would be suitable for the holiday season without breaking the bank.  Other than the mentioned price point (and the fact that all wines turned out to be red), they were different varietals from different regions around the world.  In some ways, comparing completely different wines is difficult and could even be considered unfair; however, for our purposes, it was a fun, enlightening tasting, and for wine buyers needing wine for a holiday party, a dinner party or gifts in this price range, it’s a list worth considering.  Per the Tasting Circle’s stated goal, all wines are currently available in the Seattle marketplace and can be ordered if you don’t see them at your local wine shop or grocery store.

EXCELLENT (90 – 94 points):
Mannucci Droandi 2004 Chianti Classico Ceppeto (90 points)
Region: Tuscany, Italy; Varietal:  Sangiovese
Vibrant nose of bright red fruit.  Good acidity. Rustic flavor profile, plum with delicate oak.  Bigger on the palate. Drink now.  Delicious with tomato based pasta.

VERY GOOD (85 – 89 points):
Fess Parker Winery 2005 Syrah (88 points)
Region: Santa Barbara Country, CA; Varietal:  Syrah
Deep, smoky, spicy aromas, an intoxicating nose.  Slightly sweet flavors of dark fruit, bacon.  Chewy texture.  Large finish.  Drink within a year.

Graham Beck 2005 The William (88 points)
Region: Stellenbosch, South Africa; Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon/Pinotage
Smoky, bacony aromas.  Beautiful dark fruit, leather, smoke and a little earthy.  Excellent body & concentration.  Finish could be stronger.  One of the best wines at the tasting.  Drink now.  Needs a steak.

Filippo Galino 2006 Barbera d’Alba (87 points)
Region: Piedmont, Italy; Varietal:  Barbera
Beautiful nose of roses & raspberries.  Flavors of tart red cherries, violets, fennel.  Fine acidity.  Good body & concentration.  Short finish.  Drink now to a year. 

Viñedos de El Sequé 2006 Monastrell (87 points)
Region: Alicante, Spain; Varietal: Monastrell (Mourvedre)
Aromas subdued.  Flavors of rich, bold fruit.  Intense, heavy wine.  Good tannic structure on the finish.

Domaine de la Terre Rouge 2005 Téte-à-Téte (86 points)
Region:  Sierra Foothills, CA; Varietals: Syrah/Mourvedre/Grenache
Aromas of dark fruit, smoke, even ashes.  Delicate flavors of black cherry, smoke, leather & spice.  Great acidity.  Short finish.


Herdade dos Grous 2006 Vinho Regional Alentejano (86 points)
Nice red fruit, strawberry aromas with spice & mint. Good acidity with flavors of bright red & blue fruits and a little pepper at the end.  Short finish. 


Bricco 2005 Red Wine (86 points)
Region:  Washington; Varietals: TBA
Light & translucent in color.  Nice bouquet.  Pleasant flavors of forest & dark fruit, dry cherry.  Great body & elegance.  Nice tannins on long finish.

Joan d’Anguera 2006 Planella (86 points)
Region:  Montsant, Spain; Varietals: Carignan/Grenache/Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah
Faint nose of cooked berry, raspberry.  Good blueberry/raspberry fruit, concentration & body.  Light spice on the finish.  One of the more interesting wines in the lineup.

Vigna della Rivolia du Renzo Castella 2006 Dolcetto Diano d’Alba  (85 points)
Region:  Piedmont, Italy; Varietal:  Dolcetto
Light spice & raspberry on the nose. Flavors of bright, red fruit.  Good acidity & balance.  Short finish.  Drink now.


GOOD (80 – 84 points):
Delta Vineyard 2006 Pinot Noir (84 points)
Region: Marlborough, New Zealand; Varietal:  Pinot Noir
Elegant smoky, spicy nose (the best part of this wine).  Bright cherry, fruit with warm earth; a little disappointing after the nose.  Good acidity.  Very short finish.  Drink now. 

Tasting Panel:
Ari Manzin – Owner, Bianco Rosso Imports
Catherine Reynolds – Sommelier; Owner, Vino y Queso
Gina Gregory – Sommelier; Manager Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
Jens Strecker – Owner & Wine Manager, Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
Ken O’Hara – Sales Manager, A&B Imports; former chef
Theresa Slechta – Domestic Portfolio Manager, Vinum Imports

For more info on these tasters, check out their bios under TASTERS.


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December 2008: Holiday Wines for $25 and up

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