Wednesday, December 16, 2015

TENNESSEE… The New Frontier?

My father, the acclaimed wine appraiser and consultant, William H. Edgerton, couldn't contain his glee. "When you're home from tour on layoff, I have this wine you have to try. It's from Tennessee." The minute he said it, I could tell he regretted spilling the beans; he would have much preferred tasting me blind and then dropping the origin bomb.

Wineaux, you know I champion wine from less-than-usual locales — and I did have an eye-opening experience in Arizona — but typically, I expect wine produced in the "outlier" states to be thin, forgettable, mostly sweet hybrids not really worth a review.

And then I tried a pair of offerings from Reedy Creek Vineyards, the Fallen Oak Alchemy (white) and the Fallen Oak Prophecy Reserve (red).

(It is winemaker Michael Reedy's philosophy that sales are better if he doesn't vintage designate his wines, or varietally label them either. Since he manages 50% of his sales in his tasting room, I can't argue with that methodology, but after tasting them, I certainly believe that these wines can compete in a broader market, and interested Wineaux will absolutely want vintages and varieties on those labels at some point soon.)

The (2013) Alchemy White is a Sauvignon Blanc, grown on slate and schist soils. I found it exceedingly quaffable, with appropriate white grapefruit, lemon curd, straw and floral notes, and not overly acidic. Would I confuse it with a similarly-priced SB from New Zealand or the Loire Valley? Probably not, but it's from Tennessee, people. And it heralds a LOT of potential. ~$21

The (2012) Prophecy Reserve is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Petite Verdot. This knocked me off my feet! Complex flavors of red berries, cassis, cedar, smoke, and violets. Fairly acidic (which masks its tannins) and a good length. Quite tasty, and again, even more impressive from young TN vines. Also bodes extremely well for what may come next. ~$26

For now, Reedy wines are only available at the Tasting Room and at about twenty retailers across Tennessee itself. I, for one, would definitely be interested in a visit, as Reedy also has a Tempranillo, some Viogniers, a Riesling, Syrah, and even a "Port" made from Tennessee Touriga Nacional on his list. (What the what?!)

An email request for an interview went unanswered, but from conversing with my father (who visited Reedy at the winery,) it seems that Reedy saw the growth in neighboring Virginia's wine culture and speculated Tennessee might share enough in climate and terroir to also be a successful growing area. However, it also seems that he is far and away making the "best" wine in TN at the moment, as other winemakers continue to produce the "outlier state" versions I mentioned above; Reedy imagines that TN is several decades behind VA in regional success.

Savvy Wineaux have been aware for a long while that the growth of education, information, and techniques have led to an elevation of quality winemaking in many parts of the world. It seems time to turn the wine world's eyes to Tennessee, and see what kind of evolution Michael Reedy is sparking there!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

TOP 20 UNDER $20 OF 2015!!

Wineaux, you wait all year for this post, I know you do. So let's get to it! In no particular order, but grouped by color/style, here are my TOP 20 UNDER $20 WINES of 2015:


2013 Charles & Charles Red Blend, WA: 68% Cab Sauv, 32% Sra. Inky dark, dense ripe red sweet fruit. Purple florals. Smoke, herb liqueur. Very big, very ripe. Dense fruit finish. Not overly structured, but still a biiiiig boy. ~$12.

2011 Chateau La Grange Clinet Grande Réserve Côtes de Bordeaux, France. Hands-down favorite at a recent general tasting. Excellent cassis, blueberry fruit, with pepper and earth, perfectly structured tannins. ~$13. 

2012 Bonny Doon Contra, CA (Rhone style field blend — 56% Carignane, 17% Sra, 15% Grenache, 11% Mourvèdre 1% Cinsault.) Smoke, licorice, graphite, macerated blackberry nose. Tart and brighter than expected, lifting acidity with more dense red berries (cassis, pomegranate, bing cherry,) in mouth. ~$18.

2011 Tineta Avante, Ribera del Duero, Spain: 100% Tinto Fino (tempranillo) Medium plus ruby color. Smoke, licorice, blackberry, whiff of savory meatiness. Tasty rich dark berries, with a lot of acid and tannic structure, looooong length.  ~$11.

2010 Bodegas Norton Privada Malbec, Argentina: blueberry, bramble fruit, nice balance of high tone fruit and mocha velvety richness. Luxe but elegant. ~$19.

2012 Esporão Assobio, Portugal: Inky maroon, cedar vanilla blackberry, dense rich and super smooth, violets, graphite, a lot going on! Supple, rich, v integrated and smooth tannins. (This was featured in Wine Spectator and sold out quickly; I may have snapped up the last of this in NYC! but keep your eyes out for Esporão, they have MANY excellent values.) ~$13.

2011 Palacio Quemado Los Acilates, Spain: cured meats, rose potpourri, absolutely intriguing! Tobacco notes, well-structured, long-lived. Yes. ~$15.

2013 St. Amant the Road Less Travelled Tempranillo, Amador County CA: 13th vintage. Earthy, black cherry, coffee grounds, mocha. Delicious red fruits, raspberry, smooth and integrated, subtle tannins, (nose is classic Rioja, funnily enough!) balanced acidity. ~$18


2014 Monte del Frá Bardolino Chiaretto, Italy: very pale onion skin/pink, bruised red berries, a little funky, pine, really intriguing, slightly tart and lip-smackingly tasty.  ~$16.


2011 Taltarni Tache Sparkling Rosé, Tasmania: Méthode traditionelle, onion skin color, tart strawberry, red cherries galore, nice minerality, excl acidity, good balance. ~$17.

NV Gruet Extra Dry, New Mexico: 100% Chardonnay, bottle aged a minimum of 18 months, it had notes of marzipan, white peach, rose petals and honeysuckle. Slightly higher dosage than Brut, but slight sweetness is amazingly balanced with its acidity. ~$16.


2014 Troupis Fteri Moschofilero, Greece: just lovely, with lemon citrus, pear and jasmine notes, good spice, and a well-balanced structure. ~$13. (Try other Moschofileros if you can't find this; many are very quaffable and delicious.)

2014 Kato Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough NZ: vibrant tropical fruit nose. Bruised fruits and grass, lime on palate. Excellent balance and weight, loooong length. A textbook NZ SB with a lot goin' on. ~$15.

2013 Fronton de Oro Semiseco, Canary Islands: basil!! Mint!! Lemon curd, white flowers (gardenia,) great balance, zippy acidity, but chewy to balance. Minerally. Wow. ~$20

2013 ViNO Pinot Gris Charles Smith/K Vintners, WA. When did I ever expect a PG on here? Usually value PGs are eehhh. But this has stunning florals, spice, excellent acidity - wow. impressive. ~$12.

2013 Trivento Torrontés Reserve, Mendoza, Argentina: very pale greenish-yellow. Lemon/lime and peony florals on the nose. On palate, spice, key lime pie, ripe pear, herbs, grass, yellow apple. Great flavors, zippy acidity. ~$11.

2014 Jim Barry "The Lodge Hill" Dry Riesling, Australia: wild white flowers and lime zest on the nose, in the mouth, those flavors are balanced by minerality and a spicy finish. Very dry and clean. (Can also age—I had the '99 at the same tasting and it was amaaaaazing!) ~$17.

2013 Oro de Castilla Verdejo, Rueda Spain: tangerine citrus, fresh tangy minerality, bit of grassiness, melon, light yellow florals with great weight and loooong length. ~$16.

2013 Bellangelo Semi-Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes NY: lime, peach, lemon peel, grapefruit — a citrus salad with its off-dry nature balanced beautifully by Riesling's signature acidity. ~$17.


2012 Château Les Pins AOP VDN Muscat de Rivesaltes: This is a Vins Doux Naturel from the south of France, could be a dessert wine, but could also pair well with savory dishes! Medium gold color. Nose of litchi, honeysuckle, orange marmalade, and pear; those notes with peach, chamomile, and spice (white pepper, cinnamon,) on the palate. Delish! Noticeable sugar but good acidic balance. Verrrry spicy. 50% Muscat des Petit Grains, 50% Muscat d'Alexandria ~$18.

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There you have it, Wineaux: a little something for everyone this year: 9 different countries, 4 different US states, white, red, pink, bubbly, and fortified. I love when that happens! I know not all of these wines will be readily available to you, but take this list to your local wine shop and see if your merchant can order them, or make similar suggestions. 

And if you find a sub-$20 wine you love, PLEASE comment below, I would love to know!