As far as white wines are concerned, Spring and Summer tend to be the domains of bright, light, delicate wines that go down easy as aperitifs while we’re sitting out on the porch or patio or lounging in a bosky dell on a frolicsome picnic. Nothing wrong with those scenarios at all. Now that the weather is in transition, however, when there’s a touch of chilly, rainy uncertainty in the air and our thoughts are sliding toward more substantial fare than cucumber and watercress sandwiches — no crusts, please! — the logical choice would be white wines with a bit more heft, flavor and savor. The 10 examples under review today provide those qualities in diverse ways, because they are, naturally, diverse wines. Grapes include sauvignon blanc, riesling, roussanne and marsanne, vermentino, verdicchio and trebbiano. Some of the wines saw no oak while others received extended barrel aging. Their points of origin range from various spots in Italy and several regions in California, from Alsace in France to Pfalz in Germany. Above all, and I cannot emphasize this note too strenuously, every one of these wines was a joy to drink, first because they are so different each to each, and second because in their eloquent variations they reflect integrity of intentions in the vineyard and the winery, an integrity dedicated to the expressiveness of a location and grape varieties. Each wine mentioned here made me feel as if I were sipping liquid gold.
Unless otherwise noted, these wines were samples for review.
The pale gold Arrow&Branch Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Napa Valley, performs that gratifying task of balancing the utmost in a delicate, elegant character with a vivacious, appealing personality. Aromas of pea shoot, heather, cucumber and lime peel are infused with damp limestone and flint, roasted lemon and lemon balm and a hint of raspberry leaf. The wine is bright and crisp, dense but paradoxically ethereal, and it opens to touches of almond skin and pear skin, waxy white flowers and a hint of the wildly exotic and tropical. All of these exuberant elements are handily restrained by brisk acidity and the mild spicy/woodsy aura of a touch of French oak. 14.1 percent alcohol. A truly beautiful sauvignon blanc, made by Jennifer Williams, for consuming through 2018 or ’19. Exceptional. About $35.
The color of the Domaine Barmès-Buecher “Hengst” Riesling Grand Cru 2012, Alsace, is a slightly brassy medium gold hue of intense purity; the bouquet unfurls multiple layers of nuance as Platonic ripeness invests aromas of peach and quince touched with hints of lychee, musk-melon and apricot nectar, yielding to apples, green tea and lemongrass and an intriguing, lingering note of petrol. The wine is moderately sweet at entry but segues to dryness as it flows across the palate, reaching a finish that feels profoundly minerally with elements of iodine-washed limestone and flint. Between those points, a lithe silky texture is emboldened by vibrant acidity, a strain of savory, woodsy spices and macerated stone-fruit flavors. 14 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2020 to ’24. Excellent. About $36.
Imported by Petit Pois/Sussex Wine Merchants, Moorestown, N.J.
Hungarians are justly proud of their indigenous grape, furmint. Tasting through a few furmintexamples recently, I was impressed by the grape’s versatility and its capacity for making wines that are seemingly light-filled and weightless in affect yet layered in complexity of detail and dimension. The Béres Tokaji Furmint 2014, Szaraz, displays a light golden-yellow hue and subtle aromas of ripe lemons, apples and pears; a few moments in the glass unveil notes of straw, heather, thyme and peach. A particular sense of balance between the sweet ripeness of the stone-fruit flavors and the dry, bright acid and mineral structure creates an immensely satisfying effect, the entire package driving leisurely to a limestone and flint-packed finish. 13 percent alcohol. The sort of wine that makes you happy to drink. Now through 2018 or ’19. Winemaker was János Jarecsni. Excellent. About $19, representing Good Value.
Imported by New Wines of Hungary,
What a beauty this is! The Weingut Eugen Müller Forster Mariengarten Riesling Kabinett, forster2013, Pfalz, is a wild, meadowy, golden, sleek and crystalline riesling whose very pale straw hue almost shimmers in the glass; notes of peaches, lime peel and lychee feel a little slate-y and loamy, though there’s nothing earth-bound about the wine’s delicacy and elegance. A few moments in the glass bring in hints of green apples and cloves, while a sweet entry retains a modest claim of a fairly dry, limestone-etched finish. 9.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2021 to ’23. Excellent. About $19, a local purchase and Real Value.
A Terry Theise Estate Selection, Skurnik Wines, New York.
Rosemary Cakebread made only 180 cases of her Gallica Albarino 2015, Calaveras County, so you should call the winery right now and try to reserve a few bottles. The grapes derive from the Rorick Heritage Vineyard, located at about 2,000 feet elevation in the Sierra Foothills; the wine — including a touch of muscat blanc — aged nine months in stainless steel tanks and neutral French oak barrels. A pale yellow-gold hue presages aromas of yellow plums and pears, figs, acacia and heather that evolve to a slightly leafy, grassy quality. What a joyful, lively, expressive personality this wine offers; the texture is supple, suave and elegant, all elements defined by balance and seamlessness yet edging to wild, spicy, savory qualities in the chiseled finish. 14 percent alcohol. Now through 2019 or ’20. Excellent. About $36.
The Garofoli “Podium” 2013, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, podiumincorporates no oak in its making and is all the better for it. Produced in Italy’s Marche region by a family that has been making wine since 1871, this 100 percent verdicchio offers a pure medium gold hue and ravishing aromas of tangerine and peach, jasmine and almond skin and — how else to say it? — rain on Spring flowers, yes, it’s that incredibly fresh and appealing. It’s also, somewhat paradoxically, quite dry and spare though warm, spicy and a bit earthy, enlivened by keen acidity and a scintillating quality of limestone and flint minerality. Again, it’s a wine that feels very satisfying to drink. 13 percent alcohol. Now through 2018 or ’19. Excellent. About $25.
Imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa Calif.
My reaction on seeing that this white wine aged 22 months in new French oak barriques was a big “Uh-oh.” I mean, friends, that’s a whole heap of new wood influence. However, in the trebbianoMasciarelli Marina Cveti? Trebbiano Riserva 2013, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, the eponymous winemaker manages to pull off a remarkable feat. The opening salvo is an attractive bright medium straw gold color; then come notes of candied tangerine and grapefruit peel, ginger and quince, cloves and a sort of light rain on dusty stones effect; after a few moments, the wine unfolds hints of lemon balm and roasted lemon, lilac and lavender. Yes, it’s pretty heady stuff. On the palate, this Trebbiano Riserva ’13 feels vital and vibrant, rich and succulent with spiced and slightly baked peach and apricot flavors, though its opulence is held in check by chiming acidity and a resonant chiseled limestone element. You feel the oak in the wine’s framework and foundation but as a supporting factor that lends shape and suppleness rather than as a dominant element. 14 percent alcohol. Quite an achievement for drinking through 2023 to ’25. Excellent. About $43.
Imported by Masciarelli Wine Co., Weymouth, Mass.
E&J Gallo acquired distribution rights to the venerable family-operated Soave producer Pieropan in March 2015, adding it to Allegrini and Poggio al Tesoro in the company’s Luxury Wine Group. The Pieropan Soave Classico 2015 is a blend of 85 percent garganega grapes and 15 percent trebbiano di Soave, derived from certified organic vineyards. The wine saw no oak but fermented and matured in glass-line cement tanks. The color is pale yellow-gold; aromas of roasted lemons and spiced pears are bright, clean and fresh and permeated by notes of almond blossom, acacia and grapefruit rind. The wine delivers amazing heft and presence for the price category, yet it remains deft and light on its feet; brilliant acidity keeps it lively on the palate, while a saline limestone quality lends depth and poignancy. 12 percent alcohol. Drink through 2018. Excellent. About $20, representing Great Value.
Steve Hall made the Troon Vineyard Longue Carabine 2014, Applegate Valley, Southern troon-carabineOregon, by co-fermenting different lots of marsanne, viognier, vermentino and roussanne grapes, with slim dollops apparently (depending on what infomation you read) of sauvignon blanc and early muscat. The final proportions of the blend are 38.5 percent vermentino, 33 percent viognier, 27 marsanne and 1.5 roussanne; information as to oak aging, type of oak and length of time is not available. The wine is seriously complex and intriguing. The color is pale straw-gold; the whole effect is spare, high-toned and elegant, with hints of baked peaches and pears, hints of grapefruit, fennel and celery leaf, bee’s-wax, lanolin and flowering heather, all robed in a tremendous acid-and-mineral structure that creates a sense of vital dynamism. above depths of dusty, flinty loam. These elements take time to blossom, the wine being fairly reticent at first. 12.5 percent alcohol. Production was 163 cases. Now through 2020 to ’22. Excellent. About $34.
The Two Shepherds Catie’s Corner Viognier 2014, Russian River Valley, offers a 2-shepspale straw-gold hue and beguiling, compelling aromas of jasmine and gardenia, peach and pear, bee’s-wax and lanolin over hints of lime peel and grapefruit pith; the wine sees only neutral French oak, a device that lends shape and suppleness to the structure without incurring undue wood influence. Riveting acidity and a remarkable shapeliness and heft in the texture give the wine tremendous personality and eloquence. Time in the glass bring in notes of heather and thyme, roasted lemon and sage, lemon balm and sour melon, all elements engaged in a remarkably poised feat of crystalline tension and resolution. 13.3 percent alcohol. Brilliant wine-making from William Allen. Now through 2018 or ’19. Production was 75 cases, so go online now. Exceptional. About $26.

What do you want, friends, charm or structure? You can have both and at a more than decent price bhrouge2015lin Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rouge 2015, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, from a property in the Languedoc in the eastern foothills of the Pyrenees, owned by Michel Chapoutier since 1999. The wine is a blend of syrah, grenache and carignan grapes that sees no new oak or small barrels. The color is dark ruby shading to a vivid transparent magenta; an immediate impact of freshness and liveliness comes from bright and winsome aromas of ripe black cherries, raspberries and mulberries drenched in notes of rose petals and violets against a background of graphite and sun-baked stone. The texture is fairly dense and chewy, buoyed by vibrant acidity and lithe tannins, all focused on delivering tasty black fruit flavors through a dried herb-and-mineral burnished finish. 14.5 percent alcohol. Nothing complicated or thought-provoking here, just a delicious and well-structured red wine for drinking through 2018. Very Good+. About $15, representing Excellent Value.

Sera Wine Imports, New York. A sample for review.

Here’s a refreshing way to end the week or start it, depending on your point of view of Sunday’s boscofunction. The Bosco di Gica Brut, Valdobbiandene Prosecco Superiore, from the almost century-old Adriano Adami estate, adds some three to five percent chardonnay to its regulation glera grape, the one we used to call the prosecco grape but no longer. (How often in the dim past did I write “Prosecco is the name of the grape and the product”?) The grapes were grown on steep terraced hillsides of fairly shallow soil, the vineyards generally facing south; this is north of Venice. Prosecco is made, of course, not in the “Champagne method” of second fermentation in the bottle but in the Charmat process in which the second fermentation that produces the bubbles, occurs in steel pressure tanks. Whatever the method, the Bosco di Gica Brut is indeed a superior Prosecco, offering a very pale gold hue and a steady stream of glinting bubbles that’s more a persistent fizz than a propulsive froth; still, it’s quite pretty. Aromas of apples and pears, acacia and almond blossom develop hints of lime peel and almond skin; on the palate, this sparkler is delicate, pert and lively, a tickle for the tongue, made intriguing by its briny seashell minerality and pleasing for its deft balance and integration. 11 percent alcohol. Drink up and enjoy. Excellent. About $18.

Imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

This series, “Twelve Days of Christmas with Champagne and Sparkling Wine,” has always been my favorite sequence of posts on BTYH. The research is fun, of course, but writing the posts and introducing My Readers to many levels of Champagne and other types of sparkling wine is gratifying. Views on the blog always increase in late December and early January, that is, between Christmas and Twelfth Night — Dec. 25 to Jan. 5 — so I’m happy to see that people out there in the world paid attention.

However, this blog depends on samples for review, making it no different from most of the other wine-writing outlets, whether print or online, and samples of Champagne in particular are hard to come by. I have grown increasingly frustrated trying to build an interesting program of Champagne and sparkling wine for the series as will as build an audience. In fact, for the past two seasons of “Twelve Days of Christmas” I found myself purchasing more Champagne than I received as samples, and, friends, I’ll be honest — I can’t afford it.

So the series from 2015 and 2016 was the last. That’s it. Finito. No more. I will still post about Champagne and sparkling wine through the Yuletide season as the products allow, but the series itself is over.

I append below, for those who have time and patience, a complete list, in backwards order, of all the Champagnes and sparkling wines featured in the sequence from 2007/2008 through 2015/2016.

December 25, 2015, Christmas Day. Champagne Ayala Brut Majeur. Excellent. About $40.
Bonny Doon Sparkling Albariño 2010, Central Coast. Very Good+. About $36.

Dec. 26. Champagne Duval-Leroy Premier Cru Rose Prestige. Excellent. About $80.
Priest Ranch Brut Rose 2011, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $38.

Dec. 27. Champagne Diebolt-Vallois Prestige Brut. Excellent. About $60.
Kim Crawford Small Parcels Methode Traditionelle Fizz 2009, Marlborough, New Zealand. Very Good+. About $35.

(Skipped Dec. 28.)

Dec. 29. Champagne Laurent-Perrier Brut Millésimé 2006. Excellent. About $65.
François Baur Brut Réserve, Cremant d’Alsace. Excellent. About $18.

Dec. 30. Jaffelin Brut Rosé, Crémant de Bourgogne. Very Good+. About $18.
Cote Mas Brut, Crémant de Limoux. Very Good+. About $16.

Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve. Champagne Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé 2004. Excellent. About $90.

Jan. 1, 2016, New Year’s Day. Dorpf & Irion Brut Rosé, Cremant d’Alsace. Excellent. About $16.
Schramsberg Brut Rosé 2012, North Coast. Excellent. About $44.
Barone Pizzini Brut Rosé 2011, Franciacorta. Excellent. About $45.
Champagne Pol Roger Extra Cuvee de Reserve Brut Rosé 2004. Excellent. About $90.

Jan. 2. Monmousseau Cuvée JM Brut Etoile, Touraine, Loire Valley. Very Good+. About $15.
La Valle Naturalis Extra Brut 2009, Franciacorta. Excellent. About $55.

Jan. 3. Champagne Chartogne-Taillet “Heurtebise” Blanc de Blancs Brut 2008. Exceptional. About $85.

Jan. 4. McIntyre Vineyard L’homme Qui Ris, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County. Excellent. About $35.
Inman Family Wines Blanc de Noirs 2012, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $68.

Jan. 5, Twelfth Night. Champagne Palmer et Co. Brut Réserve. Excellent. About $55.
Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve. Excellent. About $50.

Dec. 25, 2014, Christmas Day. Champagne Jacquart Blanc de Blancs 2006. Excellent. About $56.

Dec. 26. Argyle Brut Rosé 2010, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley. Excellent. About $50.

Dec. 27. Ferrari Perlé 2007, Trento. Excellent. About $35.

Dec. 28. Champagne Pierre Brigandat et Fils Brut Rosé. Excellent. About $48.

Dec. 29. Clotilde Davenne Brut Extra Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne. Excellent. About $32.

Dec. 30. VML Blanc de Noir 2010, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $50.

Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve. Vincent Sipp Domaine l’Agape “Emotion” Crémant d’Alsace. Very Good+. About $20.
Champagne Roland Champion Cuvée Aramis Brut. Excellent. About $50.
Champagne Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvée. Excellent. About $50.
Champagne Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé. Excellent. About $75.

January 1, 2015. New Year’s Day. Champagne Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Brut Rosé. Excellent. About $65.

Jan. 2. Champagne Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut. Excellent. About $75.

Jan. 3. Iron Horse Winter’s Cuvée 2010, Green Valley of Russian River Valley. Excellent. About $58.
Iron Horse Brut “X” 2010, Green Valley of Russian River Valley. Excellent. About $50.

Jan. 4. Champagne Bruno Paillard Brut Assemblage 2004. Excellent. About $80.

Jan. 5, Twelfth Night. Lieb Cellars Blanc de Blancs 2010, North Fork of Long Island. Very Good+. About $35.
Frank Family Wines Blanc de Blancs 2010, Carneros, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $45.
Frank Family Wines Brut Rosé 2010, Carneros, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $45.


Dec. 25, 2013, Christmas Day. Adriano Adami “Col Credas” Rive di Farra di Soligo Brut 2011, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore. Excellent. About $22.

Dec. 26. Champagne Veuve Fourny & Fils Grande Réserve Premier Cru Brut. Excellent. About $50.

Dec. 27. Juvé y Camps “Reserva de la Familia” Brut Nature Gran Reserve 2008, Cava, Spain. Excellent, About $15 to $19.

Dec. 28. Champagne Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Rosé 2004. Excellent. About $80.

Dec. 29. Montenisa Franciacorta Brut. Excellent. About $35.

Dec. 30. Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Brut. Excellent. About $50 to $55.

Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve. Gran Sarao Cava Brut. Very Good. About $10 to $16.
Klipfel Brut Cremant d’Alsace, Very Good+. About $16.
Argyle Knudsen Vineyard Julia Lee’s Block Blanc de Blancs Brut 2008, Dundee Hills, Oregon. Excellent. About $50;
Domaine Chandon Étoile Téte de Cuvée 2003, Napa County 52%, Sonoma County 48%. Exceptional. About $100.

Jan. 1, 2014, New Year’s Day. Laetitia Brut Rose 2009, Arroyo Grande Valley, San Luis Obispo County. Excellent, about $28.

Jan. 2. Champagne André Beaufort Grand Cru Brut Nature 2005. Excellent. About $130.

Jan. 3. Chandon 40th Anniversary Cuvée Rosé, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $40.

Jan. 4. Antica Fratta Essence Brut 2007, Franciacorta, Italy. Excellent, about $32.

Jan. 5, Twelfth Night. Adriano Adami Bosco di Gica Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore. Very Good+. About $18.
Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs, California. Excellent. About $22.
Champagne Delamotte Brut. Excellent. About $45 to $50.

Dec. 25, 2012, Christmas Day. Szigeti Grüner Veltliner Brut, Burgenland, Austria. Very Good+. About $19.

Dec. 26. Champagne Gosset Grand Blanc de Blancs Brut. Excellent. About $68.

(Dec. 27. Skipped. I have no idea why.)

Dec. 28. Champagne Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Brut. Excellent. About $45 to $55.

Dec. 29. Champagne Françoise Bedel Entre Ciel et Terre Brut. Excellent. About $75.

Dec. 30. Mont-Ferrant CR20 Cava d’Aniversari per a Carme Ruscalleda 2006, Gran Reserva Extra Brut, Cava, Spain. Excellent. About $30.

Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve. Kenwood Yulupa Cuvée Brut, California. Very Good. About $9 to $12.
Gloria Ferrer Brut, Sonoma County. Very Good+. About $22.
Argyle Brut 2008, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Excellent. About $27.
Champagne Philippe Fontaine Brut Tradition. Very Good+. About $28.
Champagne David Léclapart L’Amateur Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut. Exceptional. About $83.

Jan. 1, 2013, New Year’s Day. J Vintage Brut 2005, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $48.
J Late Disgorged Vintage Brut 2003, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Exceptional. About $90.

Jan. 2. Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain. Excellent. About $52.

Jan. 3. Champagne Fleury Brut Millésimé 1996. Excellent. About $90 to $100.

Jan. 4. Domaine Chandon Yountville Vintage Brut 2007, Yountville, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $45.
Domaine Chandon Mount Veeder Vintage Brut 2006, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $45.

Jan 5, Twelfth Night. Domaine Mittnacht Fréres Crémant d’Alsace. Very Good+. About $19 to $24.
Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut Rosé, North Coast. Excellent. About $50.
Champagne Franck Pascal Tolérance Brut Rosé. Excellent. About $55 to $65.
Dec. 25, 2011. Christmas Day. Champalou Vouvray Brut. Excellent. About $19 to $26.

Dec. 26. Champagne Comte Audoin de Dampierre Brut Cuvée des Ambassadeurs. Excellent. About $36 to $50.

Dec. 27. Couly-Dutheil Brut de Franc, Loire Valley. Very Good+. About $21.

Dec. 28. Champagne Paul Bara Brut Réserve. Excellent. About $45 to $50.

Dec. 29. Gustave Lorentz Crémant d’Alsace. Excellent. About $26.

Dec. 30. Champagne Jean Vesselle Brut Réserve. Excellent. About $44.75

Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve. Simonnet-Febvre Brut Blanc, Crémant de Bourgogne, Very Good+. About $15-$19.
Champagne Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut, Excellent. About $45-$55.

Jan. 1, 2012, Domaine Achard-Vincent Clairette de Die Brut. Very Good. About $25.
André and Michel Quenard Savoie Brut, Very Good+. About $19-$25.

Jan. 2. Champagne Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Sublime Demi-Sec. Excellent. About $42.

Jan. 3. Champagne Michel Turgy Réserve Sélection Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut. Excellent. About $52.

Jan. 4. Cuvée Stéphi Ebullience, Cremant de Limoux, Very Good+. About $20.

Jan 5, Twelfth Night. J.J. Vincent Crémant de Bourgogne. Very Good+. About $23.
Champagne Taittinger Prelude Brut. Excellent. About $90.
Champagne Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Brut. Excellent. About $140

Dec. 25, 2012, Christmas Day. Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs Brut 2007, North Coast. Excellent. About $36.

Dec. 26. Lucien Albrecht Brut Rosé, Crémant d’Alsace. Very Good+. About $16-$20.

Dec. 27. Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut. Excellent. About $65.

Dec. 28. Vigne Regali Cuvée Aurora Rosé, Alta Langa, Piedmont. Excellent. About $30.

Dec. 29. Iron Horse Brut Rosé 2005, Green Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $50.

Dec. 30. Jaillance Brut Rosé, Crémant de Bordeaux. Very Good. About $17.
Chateau de Lisennes Brut, Crémant de Bordeaux. Very Good+. About $17.
Favory Brut, Crémant de Bordeaux. Excellent. About $16.50.

Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve. Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, Spain. Very Good. About $10-$11.
Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco, Veneto, Italy, Very Good+. About $17-$20.
J Brut Rosé, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $35.
Champagne Rosé Premier Cru de Vve Fourny et Fils Vertus Brut. Excellent. About $55.

Jan. 1, 2011. Elyssian Gran Cuvée Brut, Spain. Very Good+. About $18.

Jan. 2. Graham Beck Brut; Graham Beck Brut Rosé, South Africa. Very+ for each. About $15-$18.

Jan. 3. Champagne Heidsieck & Co. Monopole “Blue Top” Brut. Excellent. About $35-$40.

Jan. 4. Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé 2006. Excellent. About $36.
Domaine Carneros Blanc de Noirs Brut 2006. Excellent. Available only at the winery.
Domaine Carneros Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs Brut 2004. Exceptional. About $85.

Jan. 5, Twelfth Night. Albinea Canali Ottocentonero, Lambrusco dell’Emilia. Very Good+. About $16.
Col Vetoraz Valdobbiadene Prosecco Brut. Very Good+. About $16.
Segura Viudas Brut Reserve Heredad Cava. Very Good+. About $15.
Paringa Sparkling Shiraz 2008, South Australia. Very Good+. About $10.
Lucien Albrecht Blanc de Blancs Brut, Cremant d’Alsace. Excellent. About $25.
Iron Horse Blanc de Blancs 2005, Green Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $40.

Dec. 25, 2009, Christmas Day. Dopff & Irion Crémant d’Alsace Brut. Very Good+. About $20.

Dec. 26. Champagne Guy Charlemagne Reserve Brut Blanc de Blancs. Excellent. About $65.

Dec. 27. Domaine Carneros Cuvee de la Pompadour Brut Rosé. Excellent. About $36.

Dec. 28. Hill of Content Sparkling Red. Very Good+. About $15

Dec. 29. Champagne Henriot Brut Rosé. Excellent. About $55-$65.

Dec. 30. Scharffenberger Brut, Mendocino County. Very Good+. About $18

Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve. Louis Perdrier Brut, France. Good+. About $9.
Jean-Baptiste Adam Crémant d’Alsace Brut, Very Good+, about $20.
Champagne Lamiable Brut Grand Cru, Excellent, about $50-$60.

Jan. 1, 2010. Egly-Ouriet “Les Vignes de Vrigny” Premier Cru Brut. Excellent. About $70.

Jan. 2. Bortolomiol Prior Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco, Veneto. Excellent. About $18.
Poema Cava Brut, Spain. Very Good+. About $13.
Finca La Linda Extra Brut, Argentina. Very Good+. about $15.

Jan. 3. Domaine du Closel Château des Vaults Brut Sauvage, Savennières, Loire Valley. Excellent. About $18.

Jan. 4. Champagne Haton & Fils Grand Reserve Brut, Excellent. About $55.
Haton et Fils Grand Reserve Blanc de Blancs Brut, Very Good+. About $55.
Haton & Fils “Cuvée René Haton” Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut, Excellent. About $62.

Jan. 5, Twelfth Night. i Stefanini Spumante Brut, Very Good+. About $16.
Mumm Napa Cuvee M. Very Good+. About $20.
Bortolomiol Filanda Rosé Brut Riserva 2007, Veneto. Very Good+. About $22.
Champagne Guy Charlemagne Brut Extra. Excellent. About $62.

Dec. 25, 2008, Christmas Day. Wolfberger Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé. Very Good+. About $22.

Dec. 26. Mirabelle Brut, North Coast, California. Very Good+. About $22.

Dec. 27. Greg Norman Estates Australian Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir. Very Good+. About $18.

Dec. 28. Champagne A.R Lenoble Brut Nature. Excellent. About $35-$40.

Dec. 29. Patrick Bottex “La Cueille” Vin du Bugey-Cerdon. Very Good+. About $18-$24.

Dec. 30. J Cuvée 20 Brut, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $25-$28.

Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve. Domaine Laurier Brut, California, Very Good. About $12.
Rotari Rosé, Trento, Italy. Very Good+. About $14.
Champagne Taittinger Brut Millésimé 2002, Excellent. About $90.

Jan. 1, 2009. Champagne Roland Champion Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut. Exceptional. About $65.

Jan. 2. Dom Bertiol Proseccco Veneto. Very Good. About $16.

Jan. 3. Charles Duret Crémant de Bourgogne. Very Good+. About $20.

Jan. 4. Champagne G.H. Mumm’s Carte Classique. Excellent. About $35.

Jan. 5, Twelfth Night. Marcato i Prandi Durello, Lessini, Veneto. Very Good. About $16.
Dec. 25, 2007. Champagne Pol Roger Reserve Brut. Excellent. About $60-$65.

Dec. 26. Champagne Laurent-Perrier Brut L-P. Excellent. About $36-$45.

Dec. 27. Maschio dei Cavalieri Prosecco di Valdobbiabene Brut, Veneto. Very Good+. About $20.

Dec, 28. Champagne Chartogne-Taillet Brut Cuvée Sainte-Anne. Excellent. About $45.

Dec. 29. Champagne Bruno Paillard Rèserve Privée Blanc de Blancs. Excellent. About $60.

Dec, 30. Taltani Brut Taché, Australia, Very Good+. About $22.
Clover Hill Brut 2003, Tasmania. Excellent. About $32.

Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve. Gruet Brut, New Mexico, Very Good+. About $16.
Schramsberg J. Schram Brut 2000, North Coast. Excellent. About $90.
Champagne Veuve Clicquot Reserve Rosé, Excellent. About $70-$75.

Jan. 1, 2008. Champagne A. Margaine Premier Cru Brut, Excellent. About $45-$50.

Jan. 2. Champagne José Dhondt “Mes Vieilles Vignes” Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut. Excellent. About $70.

Jan. 3. Champagne Gosset Brut Excellence. Excellent. About $46.

Jan. 4. Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Ice Wine 2005, Niagara Peninsula, Canada. Excellent. About $85 for a half-bottle.

Jan. 5, Twelfth Night. Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2004, North Coast. Excellent. About $35.
Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut. Excellent. About $45-$55.
Champagne Gosset Grande Reserve Brut. Excellent. About $63.
Champagne Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvée Rosé Brut. Excellent. About $75.
Champagne Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut. Excellent. About $80.
Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Brut. Exceptional. About $110.

Entry-level, of course, rests in the wallet of the beholder. The idea behind these wines — most of which were delivered to me as one package — is that they’re not single-vineyard, specific-block pinot noirs that cost $75 to $100. On the other hand, these prices range from about $20 to $48. Do I see anyone raising a hand for a $48-entry pinot noir? Only if it’s a Burgundy Premier Cru, s’il-vous plait. On the other hand, again, some enticing, some well-made, even some exciting wines are included in this group, as well as a few bargains that would make an eagle grin. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the technical, historical and geographical information I normally dote upon for the sake of incisive reviews ripped as it were from the fevered verbiage of my notebooks. Enjoy, always in moderation!
Adelsheim Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley. 13.5% alc. Dark ruby shading to a delicate magenta rim; black cherries, cloves and sassafras, with notes of leather, loam and woodsy framboise with a hint of leafy rasp; satiny smooth but slightly roughened by a light sandpapering of polished oak and dusty tannins; a few minutes in the glass bring in hints of tobacco and rhubarb. Very attractive. Now through 2019 or ’20. Excellent. About $32.
Anne Amie Vineyards Winemaker’s Selection Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley. 13.4% alc. Dark ruby shading to a transparent mulberry-hued rim; very spicy and loamy; rich and ripe black cherries and plums highlighted by sassafras, sandalwood and pomegranate; increasingly exotic, with notes of rose petals, lavender and cloves; a bounty of autumnal smoke and forest floor, briers and brambles; very silky texture, permeated by dusty, velvety tannins. Very attractive if a bit de trop. Now through 2019 or ’20. Excellent. About $28.
A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir 2014, Oregon. 13.5% alc. Transparent medium ruby fading to an ethereal rim; brambles and sassafras; smoky and highly spiced black cherries and plums; elements of leather, loam and graphite; light and lithe on the palate. Think of it like a Beaujolais-Villages at your favorite bistro. Very Good+. About $20.
Broadley Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley. 13.2% alc. Vivid medium ruby hue with a transparent magenta rim; lovely and enticing bouquet that melds loam and heather, black cherries and currants steeped in oolong tea; rose petals and lilacs, cloves and sandalwood, and, after a few moments in the glass, notes of cranberry and pomegranate; totally irresistible; the texture is super satiny and supple, displaying gratifying heft and presence with the slight resistance of dusty, leathery tannins and bright acidity. Now through 2019 to ’20. Excellent. About $20, representing Great value.
Chehalem Wines Three Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley. 14% alc. Dark ruby color shading to a delicate magenta rim; first, the notes of rooty, woodsy elements, with forest floor and loam; then the ripe and spicy raspberries and red and black cherries; smoke and leather, hints of cloves and orange rind; plenty of tannic and acid grip keep the wine on a weighty but well-balanced keel, while a fruit-driven character drives through to the finish. Now through 2019 or ’20. Excellent. About $32.
The label image is one year behind the vintage reviewed.
Erath Winery Willakia Pinot Noir 2014, Eola-Amity Hills. 13.5% alc. A dark, strapping, earthy pinot noir, dense, super satiny and lithe; syrah-like in its density and iodine-iron-infused graphite elements. Try from 2018 to 2022. Very Good+. About $48.
Illahe Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley. 14% alc. Transparent medium ruby with an invisible rim; earth and loam, black cherries, blueberries and cranberries, pomegranate and sandalwood; dusty graphite, mint and heather, super sleek and satiny, with mild, slightly velvety tannins; the cherry element gets riper, though the wine is quite dry; smoke and ash, briers and brambles, a little raspberry leaf rasp; lovely, balanced and integrated but with real structure. Now through 2018 to ’20. Excellent. About $22, a local purchase.
Montinore Estate Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley. 13% alc. Dark ruby with a garnet flush and a light rim; musky, woodsy, loamy, with scents and flavors of crushed raspberries and spiced plums; very immediate and forward, immensely intriguing and appealing; briery-brambly tannins, bright acidity and a hint of graphite minerality complete an attractive and individual package. Now through 2018 to ’20. Very Good+. About $20.
Picture 020 Ponzi Vineyards Tavola Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley. 13.7% alc. Deep ruby color shading to a lighter, almost transparent rim; a dark, smoky, spicy, earthy, intense and brooding pinot noir, qualities consistent with my encounters with this wine in previous vintages; black cherry and plum flavors are imbued with dusty loamy tannins and invigorating acidity; the emphasis in this pinot noir is on power over finesse. Now through 2019 or ’20. Very Good+. About $27.
Roco Winery Gravel Road Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley. 145 alc. Dark ruby-mulberry 16436_ROW-GRPN-14_F-1lightening toward a transparent magenta rim; if you crushed black and red cherries and currants and let them steep in the sun in a jar of oolong tea, it would smell like this fresh, seductive wine; to which add a dusty, loamy element and notes of apple skin and cranberry, dried rosemary and sage; this is fairly deep and substantial, rich, spicy, foresty and savory, with inner hints of tar and bittersweet chocolate allied to velvety tannins; still, though, it avoids being plush or sumptuous because of its bright acidity and mineral character. Now through 2020 to ’22. I loved this one’s complexity and sense of risk and resolution. Excellent. About $30.
R. Stuart & Co. “Love, Oregon” Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley. NA% alc. Dark ruby shading to an almost invisible mulberry rim; seductive aromas of black and red cherries infused with smoke and sassafras, pomegranate and cranberry, lilac and lavender, with a visitation of loam and fennel seed; a high-minded and high-toned wine that gathers heft and presence in the glass and edges pinot noir into syrah territory. Now through 2018 to ’20. Very Good+. About $28.
60 Souls Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley. 14.5% alc. Medium ruby shading to transparent magenta; cloves and loam, smoky black cherries and currants, notes of cranberries and pomegranate; woodsy and briery, with a hint of raspberry’s rasp; appealing satiny texture; lots of virtues but not much personality. Now through 2018. Very Good+. About $25.

For some reason, October is International Merlot Month. No one asks me about these matters, but a whole month devoted to a grape variety seems excessive. Most grapes only get one day named in their honor, like National Alicante Bouschet Day or International Pinotage Day. Some marketing 2013-merlot-edit1people got together, however, and launched the concept, so I’ll play along to the extent of using some merlots as Wines of the Day this month. First is the Ehlers Estate Merlot 2013, St. Helena, Napa Valley, a blend of 95 percent merlot and 5 percent cabernet franc, derived from 100 percent certified organic vineyards. The color is opaque black-ruby breaking to a vivid violet rim. This wine exudes confidence and elan; it just smells wealthy. Aromas of spiced, macerated and slightly roasted black currants, cherries and plums are permeated by a strain of intense graphite and lavender borne on penetrating granitic minerality. The wine is mouth-filling yet spare and sculpted; though its black fruit flavors are full-blown, ripe and spicy, the wine does not feel succulent or velvety, and in fact it rests on a foundation of dusty, almost shaggy (but not rustic) tannins and bright, vital acidity. It’s a fleet and darksome merlot whose elements of polished and finely sifted oak and deep, chiseled mineral qualities distinguish it for grip, elegance and style. 14.2 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Kevin Morrisey. Drink now through 2020 to ’23 with a medium-rare ribeye steak, hot and crusty from the grill; roasted venison with huckleberry (or some such) sauce; braised short ribs; you get the idea. Excellent. About $55.

A sample for review.

I’m about to do that thing, you know, the thing where I recommend a wine you probably can’t find because it’s a limited release from a tiny winery that produces only a few hundred cases merisiannually. Sorry, but I want to bring attention to Merisi Wines, the kind of place that I love to write about. It’s a husband and wife operation of Mandy Heldt Donovan — she’s the winemaker — and Nick Donovan, whose purpose is to take grapes from excellent vineyards and craft well-made wines. Today’s selection is the Merisi Wines Denner Vineyard Petite Sirah 2013, carrying a Lake County designation, the AVA just north of Napa County. The wine is fermented with natural yeast and aged 21 months in oak, 50 percent new barrels. The color is dark ruby with a vivid magenta rim; aromas of deeply spicy and woodsy black raspberries, currants and plums are highlighted by notes of black pepper, lavender and leather, with pervasive graphite in the background. The wine drives across the palate, propelled by bright acidity and chiseled granitic minerality; tannins are shaggy, dusty and velvety, saved from opulence by the wine’s innate spareness and reticence. A few moments in the glass bring in hints of violets, bittersweet chocolate and dry, slightly astringent (and exotic) spices like cloves and allspice. The finish is generous, shapely and rather elegant, considering the grape. 14.6 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2019 or ’20 with full-flavored, big-hearted fare: pork tenderloin, braised short ribs, pork chops. Production was 100 cases. Excellent. About $35.

A sample for review.

Occasionally, a wine comes along that makes me really excited because of its sense of integrity and authenticity, but also makes me happy just to be tasting it — or, frankly, drinking it. morgan_pinot_noir_twelve_clones_2014_frontSuch a one is the Morgan Winery Twelve Clones Pinot Noir 2014, from Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, a very cool area notable for its affinity for pinot noir and chardonnay vines. Just over half the grapes for this wine derive from Morgan’s estate Double L Vineyard. The wine aged eight months in French oak, 37 percent new barrels. The color is a beautiful transparent medium ruby hue; it’s a dark, flinty and feral pinot noir, offering notes of ripe and spicy black and red cherries imbued with hints of black tea and sassafras, lavender and pomegranate and, as foundation, some loamy, rooty concoction. The wine builds heft and presence in the glass, with dusty, briery tannins bolstering a sleek and satiny texture, all cut by elemental acidity that plows a furrow on the palate through to a fruit, spice and mineral packed finish. The connection with the earth feels fundamental and intimate. The alcohol content is an eminently sensible 13.8 percent. Now through 2022 to ’24. Excellent. About $34.

A sample for review.

Here’s a white wine that breathes the evocative briny atmosphere of the Adriatic. The Villa gemmaGemma Bianco 2015, Colline Teatine IGT, a blend of 80 percent trebbiano grapes with 15 percent cococcolia and 5 percent chardonnay, hails from the hills around the city of Chiete, one of the most ancient sites in Abruzzo, as well as of all Italy. Founded by the Greeks some 2,500 to 3,000 years ago — legend says by none other than Achilles who named the place after his mother Thetis — the town survived the numerous trials and tribulations and shifts of population and allegiances any urban area its age would, though it was designated an open city during World War II, so it wasn’t bombed. Resting on a crest above the Pescara River, a few kilometers from the sea, Chiete is the capital of the province that bears its name.

The wine, a pale gold-yellow hue, offers delicate notes of sea-grass and salt-marsh, of jasmine and camellia, in a seamless menage with roasted lemon, tangerine and pear, almond skin and apple peel. These elements segue smoothly onto the palate, maintaining apt balance among its savory-saline quality, a slight tinge of bitterness and tasty stone-fruit flavors, all animated by brisk acidity. The finish is lively, a bit herbal and etched with limestone-seashell minerality. 13 percent alcohol. The Villa Gemma Bianco 2015 makes a lovely aperitif as well as accompaniment to roasted fish, shrimp risotto and mild cheeses. Excellent. About $18, representing Good Value.

Imported by Masciarelli Wine Co., Weymouth, Mass. A sample for review.

The red wines of Montefalco are becoming better known on these shores, a move that I heartily endorse. Ever since visiting the charming and minuscule hill-town in eastern Umbria in 1996, I ac-nv-montefalco-rosso-bottle-pphave loved the wines of the surrounding region. This area used to be pretty monocultural, that is the wines were made from one dominant grape, the sagrantino, hence the wines were officially designated Sagrantino di Montefalco. Sagrantino produces a fairly tough and tannic wine that needs years to come around, but a Montefalco Rosso is also made, the motivation being to offer a more immediately drinkable (and less expensive) version of the region’s wine. The interesting aspect is that Montefalco Rosso consists primarily of sangiovese grapes. Hmmm, you think, so Umbria becomes an outpost of Tuscany? Not only that, but there’s the international touch of merlot, making Montefalco Rosso more of a hybrid but one that’s unique. One of the best examples is the Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2013, a dark savory red wine perfectly appropriate for the full-flavored foods of Autumn. The blend is 70 percent sangiovese and 15 percent each sagrantino and merlot; the wine aged one year in 70 percent Slavonian oak barrels and 30 percent French barriques. The color is deep ruby, opaque at the center and shading to a slightly lighter rim; aromas of black cherries and raspberries are permeated by notes of sour cherry and cherry pit, bolstered by bass-tones of graphite, sage and heather; a few moments in the glass add hints of leather and tar, violets and lavender. The wine possesses acidity in spades for buoyancy and layers of dusty, fairly rigorous, briery-brambly tannins for structure, but on the whole it offers an appreciably softer, more fruit-forward experience for the consumer, that fruit consisting of spicy black and red cherries and plums feeling a bit macerated and stewed. The finish remains austere at this point, so open the wine an hour before serving and drink with braised short ribs and veal shanks, roasted venison and boar or robust pasta dishes. Now through 2020 or ’23. Excellent. Prices range from about $19 to $24.

Imported by Wilson Daniels, St. Helena, Calif. A sample for review.

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