July Wines

August 25, 2017

Richard Moore

Wine of the Month

In a month with quite a few 5 star wines, the wine of the month was between the 2010 Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Marina Cvetic S. Martino Rosso and Vina Robles’ 2014 Estate Zinfandel. Both are outstanding wines that linger in my memory. When we were drinking the Zinfandel we just keep commenting this was “the Zin” for us, and that makes it the wine of the month. This month has some very good Minnesota wines from St. Croix Vineyards plus some very good wines from the Matchbox winery that some close friends surprised us with a 6 pack of.


Vina Robles 2014 Estate Zinfandel (25.60 Vina Roble Wine Club)

OMG, this might be the perfect Zinfandel. At least for Julie and I. It seems perfectly balanced with just the right amount of jam, spice, tannins, and finish. The aroma on the nose is fruity, jammy and just plain wonderful. In the mouth it is initially jammy, fruity and buttery. Very smooth wine to start with, but then it just explodes with spice and dryness into a very nice finish that keeps all the elements alive. Tasting notes: “Aroma: Cherries and dark plum with notes of allspice and fine tobacco, Taste: Medium-bodied with cherry fruit and hints of marzipan with a smooth, juicy finish” I am not really picking up cherry and would lean towards plum with some blackberry in my tasting. Definitely not picking up marzipan (I had to Google what that was). Guess I am not in agreement with their tasting notes, but that is all right as we really like this Zin and will be getting some more with our next Vina Robles order.


Fawnridge le Bon Temps Rouler Silhouette (22.50 Case discount)

Boy this is a fun wine to drink! Much different than anything I have had. Julie thought it was a bit like a low alcohol Port, and with it being 15% alcohol that might be a good description.  I am not sure of the blend of grapes involved. It is a very fruity wine with some sweetness, I pick out plum, cherry, cranberry, and even some strawberry on the front end. Even though this wine is a bit sweet, there is a very dry long finish that gives it a very nice chalkiness in the mouth. The aroma of the wine if very nice with considerable fruitiness coming through. Almost seems like a very fruity and sweet Pinot Noir. I would really consider picking up some more bottles of this if possible.


Saint Croix Vineyards 2015 Minnesota La Crescent (16.95 at tasting room)

Saint Croix Vineyards makes some very good white and rose wines. This one is very enjoyable and made from Minnesota grown grapes. La Crescent is a wine grape developed by the University of Minnesota for northern climates. Tasting notes: “It’s enticing floral aromas are followed by rich tangerine and apricot on the palate.” It does have a nice aroma, and I would add a bit of fruitiness to the floral. The taste is fairly tart with fruit and sweetness to offset the tartness. I can taste a bit of tangerine and apricot, but would add a bit of green apple and pineapple to my taste. Overall this is a good wine to have chilled on a summer day. We will have to head back out to the winery for some tasting and to pick up some more bottles.


Saint Croix Vineyards 2015 Minnesota Frontenac Blanc (16.95 at tasting room)

Another good white wine from Saint Croix Vineyards. Frontenac Blanc is a new white grape developed by the University of Minnesota and wineries are starting to release Frontenac Blanc wines. I really enjoy this wine even though it is on the sweeter side. Cold weather grapes tend to have more acidity and that helps to balance the sweetness. Tasting notes: “The wine’s corn silk color introduces honey and citrus aromas with lingering flavors of pear, starfruit and pineapple.” I would agree very much with the tasting notes and add that there is a playful tartness to the wine. Guess I will be heading back out to Saint Croix Vineyards to get more bottles. We drank our second bottle last night and I might say this is one of my favorite white wines (41/2 stars)


Saint Croix Vineyards 2015 Marquette Rose (16.95 at tasting room)

I figured we should complete the tasting trifecta of wines we bought during our visit to the Saint Croix Vineyards. This rose reminds me a lot of the Tavel Roses in the region north west of Avignon France. The color is a much darker red than a typical rose and there is more body to the wine than the Provence Roses we like. There is much to like about this rose if you want a more full body rose that is not very sweet. Tasting notes: “aromas of lingonberry, pomegranate and raspberry, followed by a crisp acidity with just a hint of sweetness.” I would agree with the notes, although I am not familiar with lingonberry and I assume that is the unknown fruit I am picking up in the aroma. In the mouth I am picking up some bing cherry along with the other fruits. The wine has a bit of tartness to it and the finish is very long. All in all a very nice rose for summertime sipping, and one with enough body to drink with lighter fare in any season. I will be picking up some more next time I am at the winery. Seems like Saint Croix Vineyards did well in our tasting trifecta.


Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Marina Cvetic S. Martino Rosso 2010 (18.99 WTSO)

Wow, this wine was a unexpected surprise. I went down into my basement racks and grabbed a random bottle out of my Italian section and everybody at dinner really though it was good. Tasting notes: “Bouquet: Intense, complex-full Taste: fruity, flowery - spicy (ripe red berries - blackberries - dry flowers - violets - vanilla - bitter chocolate)” Seems to cover it, this wine is full bodied but pretty smooth with some jam, and I would add that there is a bit of tartness to it (maybe bitter chocolate?). The tannins come through on the back side for a long finish. I will be on the lookout for WTSO to offer this wine again to stock up. Highly recommended if you can find it.


Opolo 2011 Syrah ($28 Opolo wine club)

We both enjoyed this wine and found it to be different than many Syrahs we have tasted. Tasting notes: “It offers a generous bouquet of fruit, while barrel aging for 20 months in both French and American oak has lent this wine a beautiful lightly toasted component and lush mouth-feel.” Not a lot to go on in these notes. I would agree that it has a lightly toasted component and lush mouth-feel. It is a lighter Syrah with a fair amount of spice to it and a bit of jam. The finish is medium and not as full bodied as I would expect from a Syrah that was aged for 20 months in oak. The finish starts fairly dry, but that diminishes pretty quickly. Some online notes mention a smokiness to the wine and I would agree, others said fruitiness which I would disagree with as this is not a very fruity wine. The is a bit of cherry/plum but very faint. One reviewer mentioned a bit of coconut taste and I would actually agree with that. An enjoyable wine to drink, not sure if I would order some more or not. Most likely I will get some more through the Opolo wine club and that would be nice.


Cotes du Rhone Cru Vinsobres Vieilles Vignes 2013 (14.99 WTSO)

This is quite the fruit bomb on the nose when you open it. The blend is 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah, but it is lighter than and fruitier than I would expect from such a blend. This is not a bad thing, and it is a very enjoyable wine to sipe by itself or with lighter fare. Tasting notes: “aromas and flavors of raspberry and dark plums along with spices, cocoa powder, melted licorice and lavender. The fruit is concentrated and layered with a rich, velvety texture backed by round tannins with no hard edges. This finishes up long and plush, leaving behind a coating of dark fruits, pepper and spices.” Not sure I pick up all that on the nose but it is definitely fruity with the raspberry being a strong component of the aroma. The aroma translates into the mouth with raspberry, plum, and lavender. After a while in the mouth a real spiciness come into play with a nice long finish. The tannins are not overdone and make for a very nice balance to the fruitiness of the wine. I must of liked the 2012 vintage since I had drank all my bottles of that and ordered the 2013. I would recommend this wine, especially if you like a fruity playful wine. After vacuum sealing the bottle and having it the next night, this wine seemed to even get better, approaching a 5 star wine. Seems that it is a wine that develops very nicely with air.


Carlos Creek Winery 2014 Trinity ($21 at Winery)

We visited Carlos Creek Winery on a trip to Alexandria MN in June. During a tasting this wine really stood out to me among an otherwise middle of the road tasting. I brought back two bottles since you can only buy the Trinity at the winery. Tasting notes: “A traditional, dry, red blend of Merlot (44%), Zinfandel (44%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (12%). A little bit of everything - fruit, smoke and oak! A light to medium body with a nice balance of tannin.” Not much to go on. It is lighter in color than I would expect from the mix of grapes (sourced from Lodi CA). The aroma is very nice and it continues into the mouth. There is a nice mixture of fruit, butter, and spice. The finish is dry and long, and I agree that the tannins are very well balanced. I am wishing I had picked up some more bottles and may consider ordering some as I really like this wine. There are many levels of complexity to this wine.


Fawnridge 2011 Barbera Estate Bottled ($15 Case discount)

If I had one word to describe this wine it would be “tart”. Tasting notes: “From our own vineyards. Notes of cinnamon and spice on the nose carries through to mid-palate. Rich flavors of brandied cherries goes to a long finish of wood spice.” I definitely pick up the brandied cherries and a bit of pomegranate. There is a long finish with wood spice. While this is an interesting wine to drink, it is tarter that I like in a wine so I would am not inclined to pick up more bottles.


Matchbook 2014 Mossback Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (24.99 Winery Website, received as a gift)

This is a very nice and reasonably priced Cabernet. Maybe a bit lighter and fruitier than most Cabernets, but that is the appeal of it. This is a Cabernet you can sit and sipe without food or enjoy with food. The finish is decently long with a medium level of tannins. Tasting notes: “Rich, round and dense with layered flavors of plum, blueberry and a good kiss of oak.” Seems like a good and accurate description of the wine. This wine matched well with our dinner of BBQ’d steaks. At this price point, a wine to consider getting some more of.


Matchbook 2014 Super Tinto Red Blend (21.99 Winery Website, received as a gift)

A really great wine with an unusual mix of grapes; 52% Tempranillo, 21% Tannat, 17% Petit Verdot, 10% Graciano. The result is a nicely complex wine with a very Spanish style spice to it, as one would expect from the grapes and name. Tasting notes: “Concentrated flavors of dark chocolate, blackberry cobbler, mocha and spice are layered over velvety tannins. The depth of flavors lingers in a rich, lush finish.” Personally I did not pick out the dark chocolate but the blackberry cobbler, mocha and spice are very easy to pick out. The tannins are indeed smooth and very present for a long finish. We really enjoyed this wine and will be getting some more.


Matchbook 2016 Tinto Rey Dunnigan Hills Rose (15.99 Winery Website, received as a gift)

A very good and enjoyable Rose. A darker salmon color, with a fresh melon aroma. In the mouth it has a nice balance of sweetness and dry crispness. The sweetness gives way to a nice long dry finish. Right now my favorite California Rose, not that I have tasted many. There is also a bit of butter in the mouth, which is a first for me on a rose. Rosés of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah form the base of this pretty wine. Tasting notes: “The Tinto Rey Rosé is a beautiful rose petal pink color and has delightful aromas of perfume and white nectarine that just beg you to take a sip. This wine is crisp and refreshing on the palate with flavors of stone fruit, cherry, white peach and a hint of sassafras on the finish.” White peach is the main flavor that comes through for me and I would assume the spice tasted might be sassafras as I have no idea what that tastes like. We really enjoyed this wine and will be getting some more bottles to enjoy. Matchbook is definitely on my radar as a winery.


Matchbook 2013 Dunnigan Hills Syrah (15.99 Winery Website, received as a gift)

Boy, Matchbook was on a really good roll but this wine did not make the cut for me. A very bright fruity syrah. Finish is fairly short and nondescript. Tarty with some jam. Tasting notes: “With aromas of blackberry, bacon and cocoa, this earthy native of Rhone is perfect for dinner or dessert!” I cannot really agree with these notes and I will not spend anymore time on this wine.


Matchbook 2015 Arsonist Chardonnay (21.99

Overall a very non descript wine, very simple and not complex in any way. Julie picked up some banana and I added a bit of vanilla with some butter. Tasting notes: “Enticing aromas of brown butter and honeysuckle mingle with baking spices and vanilla. Honey, melon and stone fruit flavors bring this rich wine to life with hints of toasty oak in the mid-palate. The Arsonist is big and creamy, yet welcoming in its nuanced synthesis of flavors.” Not sure what wine they are tasting but we did not pick up any of that. Basically very little aroma and watery on the taste. Overall an okay wine to drink but not one I would consider buying.

Until next month, happy tasting and drinking.


      Wow, knock my socks off good. A wine to stock up on.

     A very good wine, also a wine to stock up on.

     A good average wine that is very drinkable, one that I might buy


    An okay wine, one I can drink but would not run out to buy any of.

    Not worth really drinking, most likely poured out.

Copyright 2017, Richard J. Moore

keywords: Wine,Wine Tasting, Wine Reviews

description: New wines tasting notes for August 2017