2008 Abadengo Crianza Arribes


If someone said the name Juan Garcia to you, you would probably think “Is that a famous football player?” or a singer or something.  But in fact Juan Garcia in addition to being someone’s name it is also the name of a grape varietal which grows in Spain.   Borrowing from Wikipedia:

Juan García is a minor Spanish red grape variety. It is found mainly in the provinces of Zamora and Salamanca and in the autonomous region of Galicia. It is an authorized variety in the Arribes Denominación de Origen. Wikipedia

The wine pictured above is made from 60 year old vines, and is located in Perena de la Ribera in Salamanca, overlooking the Duero from 600 meters altitude.  It actually reminds of some of the simple, refreshing table wines like dolcetto you find in Italy.  Not too heavy a red, crisp, almost thirst quenching, and naturally would go well with Spanish tapas or even just some nice charcuterie.  I would even consider serving slightly chilled,and the best thing is it costs very little.  Available for only about 10 gbp a bottle in the UK. Try  http://www.modernvintagewines.com or http://www.winesociety.com

Unfortunately I am not sure if this wine makes it to the USA, but Juan Garcia grape is definitely worth seeking out.  Drink young. My rating 87pts


2011 Chateau Pesquie Quintessence


The wines from the Rhone represent tremendous value and all the wines from this vineyard in Ventoux region are exceptional. Chateau Pesquie exemplifies the Rhone varietals of Syrah and Grenache especially and the Quintessence is elegant, silky, and creamy. It reminds me of the wines from Cali and do not let the high alcohol content(15.5) scare you. This is a luscious 80 percent syrah, 20 percent grenache wine which goes well with many dishes and works particularly well with spicy food. Retails for about 15 pounds a bottle in the UK and 20-25$ in the US. my rating 92 pts.  They make two other red wines which are also worth checking out, Artemia and Terrasses: http://www.chateaupesquie.com




Continuing on the value Bordeaux theme, I present to you a classic, rustic, earthy red from the Pessac Leognan region. This 2006 Haut Bergey is drinking beautifully at the moment but still has the legs to last another 5years at least. The blend is dominant with about 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 30 percent Merlot.The sugary tannins have nice candy undertones which flow off of your tongue and think ripe juicy plums in color and taste. It is not a massive wine sitting at a lower than average 13 percent alcohol which is a nice change from the current trends in Bordeaux. Haut Bergey is widely available and retails for about 20 to 25 gbp a bottle depending on the vintage.. The latest 2012 vintage was recently released en premier at a very affordable 145 gbp per case of 12 bottles in bond and is definitely worth buying. This wine is a step up from the wine from entre dex meurs in my previous review (2008 Courteillac) but still very affordable for the quality.
my rating 90 pts.



2008 Domaine de Courteillac

Contrary to common belief not all GOOD red wine from Bordeaux is expensive. Pictured below is a wonderful wine from the Entre Deux Mers appellation in Bordeaux not far from the Dordogne River.  It is situated in one of the highest elevations in the region, and with the help of the well-known wine consultant Stephane Derenoncourt this simple wine has developed a serious punch. At only 10£ per bottle this should be a benchmark for value red claret!  Buy it by the case load, and if you see it in magnum, scoop it up.  Although this wine is meant to be drunk young, the 2008 vintage is drinking superbly, and still has lots of bursting fruit and complexity left on the palate.  This vintage has 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. Perfect for the summer barbecue, or an elegant dinner party.  Your guests will be impressed.  Highly recommended. Available at Jeroboams in the UK, and widely available in the US.  My rating 88pts.



La Spinosa Prunaiolo 2007

I have not posted a wine review in ages and I can only apologize. Managing work and family life takes up a lot more of my free time these days. Well anyway, do not worry because my passion for the grape has not diminished in this brief absence. I have many new wine experiences which I cannot wait to to share with you and with no further adieu what better better place to return than probably my favorite wine region of Tuscany.

This glorious 2007 Supertuscan blend from La Spinosa is  mix of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Dark night purple color, full bodied and bursting with flavor. It almost reminds of a  young Guado al Tasso from the infamous Antinori stable, but this wine thankfully costs much less. La Spinosa’s vineyards are located in the Chianti region between Siena and Florence and they practice organic farming. I was fortunate to buy this wine in a charity wine auction for Water Aid run every year by Christies on behalf of Decanter Magazine. ( more about this in due course). With regards to cost this wine retails for about $25 to 30 but unfortunately not easy to find. If you see it on a wine list around this price then buy it. Highly recommended and worth every penny. Drinking well now but a couple more years in the cellar would not do it any harm. Serve with eggplant parmigiana or hearty beef dishes. My rating 92pts.


2009 Pirie South Pinot Noir

Continuing on the theme from my last wine review of from Croatia.  There are some unexpected places which make quality wine that should be taken more seriously.  And if you like Pinot Noir, look no further than TASMANIA!?  Yes, when most people think of Tasmania, they think of the Tasmanian devil in Warner Bros. Looney Toons, but this is no joke and no cartooon.   I have tried a few wines from this region, and the Pinot Noir is scrumptuous.  Pictured is 2009 Pirie South Pinot Noir which comes from the cool climate of the Tamar Valley in Tasmania.  Think crunchy fruit, cherries from a cocktail and nuances from Burgundy but better than Bourgougne Rouge, and almost could be a village Chambolle Musigny or Gevrey Chambertain.   What is even more special about wines from Tasmania is that they are extremely affordable  as they often get overlooked because of the proximity and popularity of Australia and New Zealand wines.   You can find this Pirie South Pinot for about 12-15£ a bottle in the UK (try Jeroboams) and 25$ in the US.  You will not be disappointed. My rating 91 pts….and Lisa Perrotti Brown from Wine Advocate is also a fan:

2009 Pirie South Pinot Noir
eRobertParker.com #195
Jun 2011
Lisa Perrotti-Brown 90 Drink: 2011 – 2015 $25 (25)
Medium ruby-purple in color, the 2009 “South” Pinot Noir presents aromas of black cherries, red currants and freshly cracked black pepper with a hint of cloves. Medium bodied with great flavor concentration, it has crisp acidity, a medium level of grainy tannins and a long peppery finish. Drinking now, it should remain good to 2015.

link to Pirie’s website:  http://www.pirietasmania.com.au/

2008 Zlatan Plavac

 I haven’t posted a review in some time, and I promise I will be back writing about my passion for the grape more frequently in due course.  I thought I would start 2012 with a wine from an area which unfortunately gets completely overlooked.  I was in Zagreb, Croatia last fall, and was surprised to try some truly wonderful red wines.  This Zlatan Plavac 2008 pictured, is made primarily of the local Croatian grape Plavac Mali, which is a descendant of the worldy popular red zinfandel.  It comes from the island of Hvar off the stunning Dalmation Coast.  What is nice about this wine, unlike most red zins, it that it is not over the top with alcohol coming in at an average 14%, which is low compared to most red zins. I have seen some Zins from California with ludicrous alcohol levels as high as 17 percent! This Croatian red is subtle, smooth yet with hints of blackberry and cinnamon.  It is quite an elegant, silky red which should get more recognition.  Croatian wines are unfortunately not easy to find, as the best wines don’t leave the country, but not impossible.  I highly recommend seeking them out.  no Robert Parker review for this one. My rating 90pts

link to website:


2008 Croix Mouton


If you are looking for a good quality red Bordeaux without breaking the bank, then I’ve got just the wine for you.  Croix Mouton is under the impressive wine stable of Jean Phillipe Janoueix and is from a vineyard just west of St. Emilion on the right bank in Bordeaux. It was formerly known simply as “Mouton” but the infamous, Mouton Rothschild objected to this, and made them change their name a couple years ago.  I don’t know if they are mocking the big 1st growth, but Croix Mouton changes the design of the “M” on the label every year much like Mouton Rothschild change the artist of their label every year .  I found this quite amusing, but all joking aside, this wine is serious value and is seriously yummy.  It is made from mostly Merlot, with this 2008 vintage there was 87% merlot, and 13% cabernet franc.  It is a silky, seductive claret ready for early drinking but will certainly keep for 3 to 5 years.  What’s even better is this wine is as extremely affordable, retailing for only 10£ per bottle in the UK, and 20$ in the US.  It is widely available, and should be bought in every vintage.  Not all wine from Bordeaux is expensive 🙂 Highly recommended.  my rating 89 points…I also bought some mags of the 2009 vintage which I will review hopefully around Christmas time….try Bordeaux Index or Jeroboams in the UK…



2009 Moss Wood Amy’s Blend

While Australian red wines are mostly known for their dominance of Shiraz, the bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot do well also and especially in Margaret River.  Moss Wood’s emphatic blend of these four grapes in their 2009 Amy’s is a joy to sip.  A mix of blackberry and blackcurrant English jam comes to mind on the very first gulp.  This wine is not meant for long term ageing but one or two years in the cellar wouldn’t hurt it.  I wouldn’t wait too long though as it flows so elegantly off the glass.  Don’t let the screw cap fool you either, as most wines from Australia and New Zealand have done away with the corks.  This wine is big, bold and yet becomes refined after a few hours of air time. The final composition of the 2009 vintage was 56% Cabernet, 33% Petit Verdot  with a dollop of Merlot and Malbec. And to top it off Moss Wood Amy’s blend is extremely affordable, available in the UK  via their main importer, Jeroboams for only £12.50 per bottle. You can find this wine in the US for about $30 a bottle.  This is one to buy by the caseload for sure.  Serve with your Filet Mignon Au Poivre or just with some English Blue Stilton and crackers. Enjoy.  My rating 90 pts.

Link to website:http://www.mosswood.com.au/home/wines/amy’s/cabernet_sauvignon/2009

2007 Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco

I am going to let you all in a very big secret.  I am sure there are many wine lovers out there who like Barolo and want to drink Barolo but don’t want to pay Barolo prices.  Well, I’ve got just the wine for you.  Most top Barolo producers make entry level Nebbiolo from their vineyards which when made right can rival many high end Barolos.  The key is to buy Nebbiolo from solid trustworthy wine makers, and Luca Corrado from Vietti is one of the best in Italy.  The grape used in Barolo is Nebbiolo, and this beauty from Vietti in my opinion is basically declassified Barolo.  Think cherry and ripe raspberries on the tongue, followed by rose petals on the nose.  This is an absolute joy to sip. Silk in a glass.  This wine is so, so approachable now, but will get better with age.  You can put this away in the back of the cellar for 10 years at least, which is what is so wonderful about Nebbiolo based wines when they are good. Viett’s Nebbiolo Perbacco retails in the UK for about 15£ per bottle and is available at Bordeaux Index.  In the U.S. you can find it for between $20-30 per bottle.  This is an amazing wine which I highly recommend. My rating 93+ pts.    

(My wife’s homemade pizza also worked well with this. Recipes will follow at some point.)