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I recently had the opportunity to attend a tasting event at the warehouse of one of the top wine importers and distributors in Rhode Island, Wine Wizards. While the company doesn’t have as extensive a portfolio as some of the large distribution companies, they do carry a good range of excellently priced wine with many of the bottles I sampled having some of the best quality for price ratio that I’ve seen lately.
Most of this won’t mean much to you, the wine consumer, if you can’t find the wine to buy (and don’t get me started on the 50 different arcane and asinine wine distribution state laws). Wine Wizards distributes to restaurants and wine & liquor stores around Rhode Island. So if you read something you want to try, you can mention the distributor by name and make it even easier for the restaurant or store to order the wine. Here are some highlights from the tasting.
White:J.J. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2008 – Perhaps my favorite white of the tasting. White wines are often unfairly overlooked, and to me Rieslings deserve much more attention. This wine has apples all over the place along with a great minerality. You can find it for around $32 and would be a great holiday wine.
Las Perdices Viognier 2010 – Very floral with lots of stone fruit flavors. Talk about a great value. You can find this for about $13-$15.
Berger Gruner Veltliner 2009 – A great bargain, not only is it around $14, but it’s also a liter bottle (instead of usual 750ml) with a beer bottle seal. Crisp and clean, a nice spring/summer wine.
Rollin Pernand-Vergelesses Blanc 2006 – An excellent white Burgundy. Not inexpensive but not very high priced for Burgundy. One of the more delicious wines I tasted.
Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso 2009 – I rarely touch a Pinot Grigio but I’m a sucker for the somewhat obscure Italian white varietals. This white from Piedmonte is crisp and dry, and is perfect with food, like most Italian wines.
Red:Baudry Chinon “Les Granges” 2008 – Herbal, spicy, lots of red fruit, made me think of smoked meat, everything a good Cabernet Franc should bring. Not heavy, but no lightweight. I’d gladly drink this again and again.
Mission La Caminade Cahors 2008 – Another great bargain, a good table wine for roasted chicken or something off the grill.
Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin Vieille Vignes 2008 – Not a bargain, but a delicious Burgundy. Lots of fruit, almost juicy, with a nice bit of acidity. I wouldn’t call it off-dry, but there was a slight tinge of sweetness up front.
Borgo Sugame Chianti Classico 2008 – I used to love Chianti and I haven’t had one in a while that really made me happy. This was a very rustic wine that I would be happy to have with a good carbonara or puttanesca sauce.
San Pietro Lagrein 2008 – More Italian and another good wine for a good price, you can find it for around $18. Lots of berries on the nose and the palate. Another good Italian food wine.
Quinta do Crasto Douro Reserva “Old Vines” 2008 – Portugal, land of the screaming wine bargains, gives us a wine in the mid $40 price range that certainly delivers. This is a big, spicy, dark wine that should age a while and show how serious Portuguese wine can be.
Montebuena Rioja 2009 – Here’s a twist, the $45 wine is from Portugal and the $13 bottle is from Spain. More earthy and spicy but less of the keep-for-a-while and more of the drink on a Wednesday with steak.
Loring Pinot Noir “Keefer Ranch” 2009 & Loring Pinot Noir “Clos Pepe” 2009 – Two standouts from the United States table, where I was really disappointed, with the exception of my love of anything from Bonny Doon. These two Loring Wine Company wines were both earthy and juicy. The Keefer Ranch seemed a bit fuller and heavier, the Clos Pepe a little smoky and herbaceous. Average price is mid-$40’s.
Then there were wines like the Montpertius Chateauneuf-du-Pape “Tradition” 2004 or the Rengo Amarone 2005 that are more like standards. Both excellent and worth keeping for some time in your collection, if you’re so lucky. Thank you to Wine Wizards for the invitation to their tasting.