On Saturday, March 11, 2017, several people – this writer included – presented a program to the wine club of our community. We sampled several selections from the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2016 and asked participants to comment – agree or disagree – with the Spectator’s rating and ranking of each selection.
KORBEL Brut California Organic Grapes NV (California) – Rated 90 and ranked number 73 on the Wine Spectator Top 100, Korbel is the first U.S. producer to release a California brut Champagne made with organically grown grapes. Mostly from the 2014 vintages, the wine is an unusual blend of French Colombard, Sangiovese, and Chardonnay. An opening libation as guests arrived for the tasting, the Korbel was extremely well received. Unanimous agreement on rating and ranking. Purchased online for $11.99 per bottle (plus shipping).
TENSHEN White Central Coast 2015 (California) – Rated 92 and ranked 31. A Rhône-inspired blend of Viognier, Roussanne, Chardonnay & Grenache Blanc, this wine wasn’t terribly well received. Rather sharp on the palate; and the general feel was that it possessed entirely too much acidity. Definitely disagreement here with the Spectator. Purchased at Pennsylvania State Store for $20.00 per bottle.
ROBERTO ANSELMI Veneto White San Vincenzo 2015 (Italy) – Rated 90 and ranked number 60. I had previously reviewed this wine and found it beautifully balanced and overflowing with character. A blend of 80% Garganega blended with 10% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon Blanc, it was generally a hit with the participants, infinitely preferred over the previous Tenshen White. Purchased at Pennsylvania State Store for $11.99 per bottle.
HAMILTON RUSSELL Chardonnay Hemel-en-Aarde Valley 2015 (South Africa) – Rated 94 and ranked number 11. A simply fabulous wine, closely akin to a French white Burgundy. A palpable hit with almost all participants. As wine critic Stephen Tanzer so aptly noted: Hamilton Russell Chardonnays “convey a powerful impression of intensity without weight.” Priced at $37.00 per bottle.
M. CHAPOUTIER Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2015 (France) – The 2014 vintage of this wine was rated 90 and ranked number 51 on the Wine Spectator Top 100. Unfortunately, it was unavailable from most sources. So it was decided to go with the 2015, which was actually more highly rated, receiving 93 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. A blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 10% Carignan, this was considered an exceptional wine for the price… $12.99 per bottle.
ARCANUM Toscana Il Fauno 2012 (Italy) – A blend of 85% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Petit Verdot, the 2012 was rated 93 and ranked number 19. Smooth and silky on the palate, this wine received good marks across the board. Ordered online for $28.95 per bottle (plus shipping).
CUNE Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 (Spain) – A blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo, this wine was matured in a combination of French & American oak for two years and in the bottle for three. Generous and full-bodied, this wine was the favorite of all participants. Rated 94 and ranked number 22 by the Spectator. Priced at $33.00 per bottle at Pennsylvania State Stores.