I had to insert the term “Last-Minute” to the title of this entry, which I should have posted on Friday or at least yesterday, because here it is, Sunday. Still, wine stores are open today in many states, and there’s always tomorrow. I picture My Readers on an endless whirl of parties, receptions, open houses, brunches, wassails, carol-singing and what-not, giddily essaying the Yuletide with customary joy and merriment. For any or all of these festive occasions you will require a bottle of wine as a present for your host or to contribute to the groaning board. If that’s not — let’s face it — the case, you may still need a bottle of wine to take to the family or friends dinner on Christmas Day. There should be a bottle here or several to suit every taste and credit card, six whites, six reds. The price range starts at $12 and runs to $65, with a cluster right in there at the sweet-spot of $25. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the otherwise essential and entertaining details of history, geography, personality and technical matters for the sake of brief reviews ripped from the pages of my notebooks. The intention is to pique your interest and whet your palate. After all, no one is saying that you couldn’t obtain a bottle or 12 for yourself. Now let’s be honest. Not every wine is available in every city, town and village of our nation; in fact, not every wine is available in every store in the same principality. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice, as with every aspect of life. Enjoy, in moderation, of course.
These wines were samples for review.
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Heinz Eifel Riesling Kabinett 2017, Mosel, Germany. 8.5% alc. Pale gold hue; a delicately sweet entry, peach and apricot, hint of apple blossom and a whiff of gun-flint; a few minutes in the glass add notes of talc, jasmine and graphite; dry from mid-palate back, nice balance between ripeness of stone-fruit flavors, crisp acidity and a spare texture; finish brings in a touch of earthiness. Very Good+. About $12, representing Good Value.
Imported by Winesellers Ltd., Niles, Ill.
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Inama Vin Soave 2017, Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy. 12% alc. Medium straw-gold hue; damp hay and roasted lemon, notes of grapefruit, preserved lemon and yellow plums, a winsome touch of green apple; bristling acidity for enticing liveliness; brings in hints of lilac and gardenia; very dry, finishing with a snap of gunflint. Feels like a combination of the sea and the mountains. Excellent. About $15.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
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Vietti “Tre Vigne” 2016, Barbera d’Asti, Piedmont. 14% alc. Opaque black-purple with a lighter ruby rim; loam, leather, tar, black tea; generous and warm, with macerated black cherries and currants and a touch of plum; infused with graphite; lip-smacking acidity cutting through dusty chewy tannins; a ferrous and sanguinary barbera, finishing with an edge of granitic minerality. Loads of personality. Excellent. About $18.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
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Day Wines Chenin Blanc 2017, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 12.5% alc. Pale but radiant straw-gold hue; classic notes of hay and heather, quince, Meyer lemon and spiced pear; very dry, with flint-like minerality and invigorating salinity; traces of some astringent mountainside flower and meadowy blossoms; long drawn-out acidity lends vibrancy and freshness. One of the best chenin blanc wines produced on the West Coast. Excellent. About $25.
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Gamble Family Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Yountville, Napa Valley. 13.1% alc. Shimmering pale gold hue; lime peel, quince and tangerine; camellia and lilac; then more tart lemon; brings in notes of lemongrass, heather and celery seed; lovely balance and integration; beguiling talc-like texture riven by taut acidity; a powerful grapefruit-graphite finish. Always one of the best. Excellent. About $25, representing Terrific Value.
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Troon Vineyard Kubli Bench Blanc 2017, Applegate Valley, Oregon. 11.8% alc. 52% marsanne, 48% viognier. Medium straw-gold hue; peach and lychee, quince and ginger, jasmine, tangerine, cloves and nutmeg, all expressed within tissues of nuance; very dry, with scintillating seashell and limestone minerality and a bracing undertone of coastal salinity; wonderful body and texture, talc-like, lithe, flowing with energy and dimension; final notes of lanolin and bees-wax. An extraordinary wine, sleek with personality and character. Excellent. About $25, representing Great Value.
Image from christine-havens.com.
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E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage 2015, Northern Rhone Valley, France. 13% alc. 100% syrah. Opaque black-purple color; classic notes of bacon fat, wet fur and stewed plums; black currants and blackberries; a deep core of lavender, graphite and bittersweet chocolate; real grip on the palate, dry and underbrushy, with fairly rigorous tannins; robust and maybe a bit rustic, but true to form. Anyone serving rack of venison? Here’s your wine. Excellent. About $25.
Vintus LLC, Pleasantville, New York.
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Trimbach Reserve Pinot gris 2014, Alsace. 13.5% alc. Medium straw-gold color; peach and pear, jasmine and honeysuckle, touches of lemon, quince and yellow apple; lemon balm and almond skin; slightly honeyed on the palate, from the ripeness of the fruit, but totally dry; clean, spare and elegant, animated by crisp acidity. Crystalline and beguiling. Excellent. About $26.
Esprit du Vin, Boca Raton, Fla.
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Finca Decero The Owl and the Dust Devil 2015, Mendoza, Argentina. 14.5% alc. (Gets my vote for most inventive wine name of 2018.) 39% cabernet sauvignon, 32% malbec, 19% petit verdot, 10% tannat. Very dark ruby-purple shading to a transparent magenta rim; ripe and spicy black currants and cherries with a touch of plum; a robust blend, offering real grip and traction on the palate; dynamic acidity and a muscular texture sustained by stalwart, dusty tannins; finishes with austere notes of loam, lavender and bittersweet chocolate. Instructions for dinner tonight: Grill steak. Open bottle. Excellent. About $33.
Vintus LLC, Pleasantville, N.Y.
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Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir 2016, Carneros. 14.2% alc. Transparent medium ruby-magenta with an ethereal rim; a pinot noit of lovely balance and integration; cloves and allspice, black currants and cherries with a touch of loam; incredibly supple and satiny, juicy and succulent; brings up notes of red cherries and raspberries, then hints of iodine and graphite. Excellent. About $42.
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Chateau Faugeres 2012, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe, Bordeaux. 14% alc. 85% merlot, 10% cabernet franc, 5% cabernet sauvignon. Dark black-purple with a light purple rim; spiced and macerated black currants and cherries; notes of lead pencil, cedar and tobacco, cloves and nutmeg; dense and supple and lithe; becomes both riper and more minerally; opens to touches of lavender, violets and a hint of licorice; lovely balance and integration. Beautifully made, and perfect for a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding. Excellent. About $45.
Adrian Chalk Selection, M.S. Walker Inc., Summerville, Mass.
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Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc 2015, St. Helena, Napa Valley. 14.2% alc. Opaque black-ruby with a transparent purple rim; smolders with smoke, dried thyme and rosemary, black currants and raspberries, lavender and lilac, grated cloves and nutmeg; dry, dense and chewy, but offering ripe and juicy berry flavors; great tone and presence on the palate, lots of graphite and dusty, furry tannins; opens traces of blueberry, cedar and tobacco. A terrific Napa Valley interpretation of the grape. Excellent. About $65.
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