1) ’08 Picpoul de Pinet, Coteaux du Languedoc, Les Costieres de Pomerols
This is such a great little wine: floral, layered, similar to white Rhones. We served this with garlic/herb cheese and home bake oatmal bread. Picpoul is normally a blending grape used in Rhone blends but makes a surprisingly “new” tasing single varietly wine: crisp clean and dry, but not too dry. It’s great for Provencal cuisine. Price: around $12.
2) ’08 Michael Torino Don David Torrontes reserve, Argentina
A white grape originally from Northern Spain makes a beautiful and versatile wine which, to me, is similar to German/Alsatian wines (Gewürztraminer in particular) but not as bold and not a easily recognized. This Torrontes is particularly good in that it has enough acidity to serve with a simple salad made with a yogurt dressing. We just loved it and it drinks like a much more expensive bottle. You need to try this one. Price: around $16.
3) ’05 Guigal Condrieu, La Doriane
This was a bottle from my cellar that originally cost $100 but I purchased at a discounted price of $50. Once again, I was just a little disappointed in a wine by Guigal. I thought this 100 percent Viognier was a little hot with alcohol and a little too strong for the potato/leek soup we had paired it with. In the past, I’ve had other bottles of the Doriane and found them floral, nosey, mouthy, and gorgeous. This one, though, was not so good.
4) ’08 MontGras Carmenere Reserve, Colchagua Valley, Chile
I’ve wanted to try this wine for a very long time. Carmenere — pronounced “Carmenair” not Carmenyair! — is becoming more and more popular and, like Malbec before it, Carmenere is doing really well in South America. This wine is similar in body to a Merlot but, to me, much more complex and a bit spicy a la Zinfandel. It was a hit with good old American Pot Roast. Price: around $12.
5) ’07 Cline Ancient Vine Carignane, Contra Costa County, Calif.
I’ve know about this wine for years and always wanted to try it, too. Carignane — pronounced “Careenyawn” — is soft and delicious. I thought it was similar to Pinot Noir, but fuller and with a bit of punch. This Cline wine is beautifully made and so food friendly. This is a classic at around $16. (There are other Carignanes out right now that you might want to try.)
6) ’05 Earthquake Petite Sirah, Michael and David Phillips, Lodi
Bob Smith, the famous seismologist at the University of Utah, made this wine known to me. While I’m not always a fan of Petite Sirah, this one I really liked. Petite Sirah is a full-bodied wine like Cab, so it will go with heavier foods like lamb, duck, etc. The Earthquake, however, was particularly mellow and balanced with a sort of blueberry glow. Coming off the Carignane, we really could experience the difference in essence between grape varietals. I would recommend Earthquake as a pleasurable snack or picnic wine with cheeses and breads. I also found it quite Romantic! Price: $18