December 2008: Holiday Wines for $25 and up

December 11, 2008 at 6:32 am Leave a comment


These are your gift wines!  These are the special bottles you give to your wine loving friends, your father-in-law, your boss, or perhaps – better yet – the special bottle you open over the holidays while enjoying an evening with special family or friends.  These wines represent a broad range of grapes and wine producing regions around the world, some more obscure than others.  From the rugged Umbrian Montefalco di Sagrantino to the more refined Chateau Pichecan 2003 Margaux, a Left Bank Bordeaux, to the “hedonistic pleasure bomb” El Quintanal 2005 Ribera del Duero (that scored highest at the tasting), there are some interesting, delicious wines to be had.   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.


CLASSIC (95 – 100 points):
El Quintanal 2005 Ribera del Duero
  (95 points)
Region:  Ribera del Duero, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo 
Beautiful, dark ruby color.  Wonderful plump aromas of red & dark fruit.  Beautiful, rich, velvety, blackberry/leather flavors.  Complex, elegant, great acidity.  Licorice and herbal notes. Long finish with full layers of well-balanced tannins.  A hedonistic pleasure bomb.  Retail: $28 

EXCELLENT (90 – 94 points):
Benegas 2005 Finco Libertad
(94 points)
Region:  Argentina; Varietals:  Cab Sauv/Cab Franc
Beautiful dark, ruby color.  Great aromas of wild & dark berries, coffee grounds.  Flavors of cooked dark fruit, blackberries and boysenberries, wood.  Smoother than it smells, well-balanced, gorgeous!  Retail: $28.50 

Chateau Pichecan 2003 Margaux (94 points)
Region:  Bordeaux, France; Varietals:  Cab Sauv/Merlot
Beautiful color.  Aromas of spicy cherry, sticky herbs.  Smooth, complex, elegant.  Medium-bodied, great texture and fruit flavors.  Wonderful, smooth finish with fine tannins.  Retail: $44   

D’Ahrenberg 2006 Laughing Magpie (92 points)
Region:  McLaren Vale Valley, Australia; Varietals: Shiraz/Viognier 
Wonderful dark, inky color.  Great aromas of spicy red berries, floral.  Elegant, concentrated, great acidity.  A little bit tight on the finish but good long finish. This would be a great dinner wine. Retail: $30 

Arnaldo-Caprai 2005 Rosso (91 points)
Region:  Umbria, Italy; Varietals: Sangiovese/Sagrantino 
Claret colored.  Aromas of strawberries, delicate cherry candy.  Medium- to full-bodied.  Great acidity, but still a little bit tart.  Beautiful dark fruit flavors with some cherries, dust, & sweat.  Tight finish with a strong tannic structure. Retail: $31.50 

Norton Arnold 2006 Red Wine (91 points)
Region:  Yakima, Washington; Varietals:  Cab Sauv/Merlot/Cab Franc
Wonderful dark, inky, color.  Aromas of canned pears, bright red and dark fruit.   Mulling spices, toasted, savory.  Smooth, medium-bodied but builds up on the palate. Beautiful dark fruit flavors.  Elegant finish. Retail: $29.50 

Andrew Will 2006 Two Blondes (90 points)
Region:  Yakima Valley, Washington; Varietals: Cab Sauv/Cab Franc
Beautiful aromas of dark fruit, spice & earthy truffle notes, pleasant, elegant, good acidity and balance; smooth tannins on the finish. Retail: $55 

Jimenez-Landi 2006 “Sotorontero” Mentrida (90 points)
Region:  Mentrida, Spain; Varietals:  Syrah/Merlot/Cab Sauv
Beautiful color.  Intense aromas of dark fruit, cherries, molasses cookie.  Medium- to full-bodied with dark fruit flavors, cherries, plum, tar.  Wonderful acidity and concentration.  Well-balanced.  Long finish w/ fine tannic structure.  Retail: TBA 

VERY GOOD (85 – 89 points):
Cuvaison 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
(Napa) (89 points)
Region:  Napa Valley, California; Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon 
Nice dark, inky color.  Spicy, intoxicating, rich layers of cooked black fruit.  Pleasant texture.  Good acidity.  A little bit tart on the finish.  Fine tannins & good body. Retail: $43 

Herdade do Mouchao 2002 Vinho Tinto (89 points)
Region: Regional Alentejo, Portugal; Varietals: Alicante/Bouschet/Trincadeira
Beautfiul dark, ruby color.  Pleasant aromas of dark fruit, black olives & oregano.  Great body & acidity.  Concentrated.  Flavors of dark fruit, black & blueberries.  A little bit tight on the finish, even slightly astringent.  Retail: $52 

Tasting Panel:
Catherine Reynolds – Sommelier; Owner, Vino y Queso
Gina Gregory – Sommelier; Manager Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
Giuseppe Carraturo – Owner, VI Wines Distributing; former NA Export Manager for Bertani
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.


Entry filed under: Price points. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

November 2008: Holiday Wines for $25 or less January 2009: Wine Spectator’s Top 100 (2008) – Reranked

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