Category Archives: Under $20

White Knight wine

AG Pick: The White Knight Viognier 2014

Looking for a new white wine to enjoy? The White Knight Viognier is coming to your rescue.

Medium to full bodied with just a hint of sweetness, this is the white wine to help you transition to the cooler months. It also happens to be a great pairing with fall flavors and seasonal ingredients.

White Knight ViognierThe 2014 White Knight Viognier comes from the Clarksburg appellation in northern California, near Sacramento. The Viognier is rounded out by the addition of French Colombard (9%) and Muscat (4%). The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel to preserve the grapes’ fresh characteristics.

The wine is very aromatic, as you would expect with Viognier. Fruity and floral aromas introduce flavors of white peach, golden apple and honeysuckle, supported with gentle acidity. It’s round and soft in the mouth, with lingering subtle sweet fruit.

Pair the wine with roasted chicken or turkey, cream-based dishes and hearty pasta or vegetable dishes.

An added bonus is that The White Knight won’t run off with your wallet. A bottle of the 2014 Viognier costs $12.

The White Knight makes exclusively white wines. In addition to the Viognier there is a Prosecco, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. It is produced by 3 Badge Beverage Corporation out of Sonoma, California.

Click here for more information on The White Knight wines.

13.5% alcohol

Salta wines

Colomé and Amalaya: Wines from Salta, Argentina

There is more to Argentina’s wine than just Mendoza. You’re missing out if you don’t venture beyond the country’s best-known region.

Today we’re focusing on Salta. This region is located in the north of Argentina and is characterized by its mountainous terrain. Here you’ll find some of the highest elevation vineyards in the world.

For a taste of Salta, try wines from Colomé and Amalaya. These wineries are located in the Calchaqui Valley, at elevations of more than 5,000 feet above sea level. The vineyards benefit from intense sun during the day and cool nights, ideal growing conditions.

Amalaya wines

The natural place to start is with Torrontes, the signature white wine grape of Argentina. This grape produces aromatic, dry wines with lovely floral notes.

Colome Torrontes & MalbecThe 2015 Colomé Torrontes is made entirely from Torrontes. The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel to preserve its bright, fresh characteristics. This is a wonderfully fragrant wine, like taking a sniff from a bouquet of flowers. Gardenia, orange blossom and jasmine mix with slightly sweet citrus, with good acidity adding balance. $15, 13.5% alcohol

I first enjoyed Amalaya wines when I was in Buenos Aires and I’m so glad they’re available in the United States. The 2015 Amalaya Blanco is a blend of 85% Torrontes and 15% Riesling, two grapes that nicely complement each other. Just as with the Colomé Torrontes, the aim is to showcase the true nature of the grapes — controlled, cool temperatures during winemaking and stainless steel aging make the finished wine fresh and fruity.

The floral nose of the Amalaya Blanco introduces a palate of white flowers, jasmine, white grapefruit and lemon peel with a layer of minerality. Gentle acidity gives crispness, and the finish is clean with a touch of orange blossom honey. $12, 13% alcohol

Colome wines

Moving on to the reds, the 2013 Colomé Estate Malbec comes from four estate vineyards at varying elevations: La Brava Vineyard at 5,740 feet; Colomé Vineyard at 7,545 feet; El Arenal Vineyard at 8,530 feet; and Altura Maxima at the almost unbelievable elevation of 10,207 feet above sea level. The blend of Malbec grapes produces a wine that is bold yet elegant, with red and black fruit notes and firm tannins. Juicy dark red cherry and blackberry flavors are supported by an earthy backbone and a touch of black pepper and cedar. $25, 14.5% alcohol

Amalaya Blanco & MalbecThe 2015 Amalaya Malbec is a blend of 85% Malbec, 10% Tannat and 5% Syrah. The three were fermented and aged separately, and blended just before bottling. One quarter of the wine was aged in one year-old French oak barrels for 10 months.

The fruit flavors in the Amalaya Malbec come through first – raspberry, ripe red cherry, plum and a touch of blueberry. Then come the spice and earth notes, with black pepper, cigar box and violet. Though the wine has a lot going on it’s not one that you need to overthink. The Amalaya Malbec is the kind of wine you can enjoy any night of the week, no fancy meal required. $16, 13.9% alcohol

Colomé and Amalaya are part of the Hess Family Wine Estates portfolio. For more information  www.hess-family.com.

Vinogram: Waterkloof Cape Coral 2015

For more information on Waterkloof from South Africa’s Western Cape visit waterkloofwines.co.za.

Valdo Prosecco

AG Pick: Valdo Oro Puro Prosecco

Ring in 2016 with a Prosecco that has the finesse of a fine French sparkling wine with a budget friendly price tag.

The Oro Puro Prosecco Superior DOCG Brut is made by Valdo, an Italian winery that was started in 1926 and purchased by the Bolla family in the 1940s. The estate and vineyards are located in Valdobbiadene, in northeastern Italy. The vines grow on hills that range in altitude from 600 to 1200 feet above sea level.

Valdo ProseccoThe Oro Puro Prosecco is a dry sparkling wine made entirely from Glera grapes. The grapes were harvested by hand, and the first fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine gets its bubbles from the Charmat method, where the second fermentation takes place in tanks rather than in the bottle.

Pale yellow in color, the Oro Puro Prosecco has citrus and floral aromas. Dry flavors of white grapefruit, pear and golden apple are enhanced by a creamy mouth-filling texture and lively bubbles.

This is a versatile sparkling wine that pairs with a variety of foods, from oysters and caviar, to white fish, salads and hors d’oeuvres. Or enjoy a glass on its own as you toast to the New Year.

$19.99, 11.5% alcohol

Imported by Pasternak Wine Imports

AG Pick: Barrymore Pinot Grigio 2013

Imagine if the bright, upbeat and fun personality of Drew Barrymore could be bottled in a white wine. What you’d get is the 2013 Barrymore Pinot Grigio.

Barrymore Pinot GrigioThe wine is a partnership between Barrymore Wines, founded by the actress and wine enthusiast, and Carmel Road Winery. The grapes are grown in Monterey, California, a cool, coastal region influenced by the Pacific Ocean.

Ideal growing conditions and stainless steel fermentation helped produce a wine that expresses the Pinot Grigio grape in its pure form. Citrus aromas introduce flavors of Meyer lemon, ripe white grapefruit, Asian pear and honeydew. The finish is crisp and refreshing, with lingering wet stone minerality.

The Barrymore Pinot Grigio pairs with a variety of food, from salads and sandwiches to light pasta and fish dishes. Drew recommends sharing it with friends and family as you make memories around the table.

The 2013 Pinot Grigio is the first Barrymore by Carmel Road wine. Additional varietals will be coming out this year.

For more information visit www.BarrymoreWines.com or www.CarmelRoad.com.

$14.99, 13.5% alcohol

albarino

Albariño from Rías Baixas: Your Go-To Summer Wine

If you’re looking for a wine that is synonymous with summer, look no further than Albariño from Rías Baixas. This white wine from northwest Spain is dry and refreshing with a delicious mix of fruit, floral and mineral notes.

To find the Rías Baixas Denominación de Origen (DO) on a map, look to the upper left corner of Spain. It’s located in Galicia, with the Atlantic Ocean to the west and Portugal to the south.

Picnics, pool parties and beyond, Albariño is the wine to uncork at any warm weather celebration. It pairs well with the flavors of the season, especially salads, seafood and shellfish. Or enjoy it with spicy cuisines like Thai, Indian and Mexican.

Albariño is meant to be enjoyed young, from one to three years after its release.

Here are some great Albariños from Rías Baixas to try:

Pazo Señorans Albariño 2013

Pazo Senorans AlbarinoThis Albariño comes from vineyards that are close to the sea, at altitudes of less than 300 meters. Stainless steel and temperature controlled fermentation help preserve the fresh characteristics of the grape.

Pale greenish-yellow in color, the wine opens with aromas of citrus and white flowers that develop on the palate. Refreshing acidity and gentle minerality give the wine a lively mouthfeel, and the crisp finish has a lingering touch of white grapefruit.
$25, 12.5% alcohol

La Val Albariño 2013

La Val AlbarinoThe grapes in this wine come from two estate vineyards at the southern end of the Rías Baixas DO. The Taboexa vineyard with its sandy and granitic soil is situated at 300 meters above sea level, and the Arantei vineyard is at 30 meters above sea level and has clay and pebble soils.

Bright straw yellow in color, the wine has notes of lemon, white apricot and fresh herbs, with orange peel and subtle bay leaf adding depth at the end.
$18, 12.5% alcohol

Burgáns Albariño 2013

Burgans AlbarinoThis wine from Bodegas Martin Códax with its distinctive label is one of the easier to find Albariños at wine shops. It’s named for the hill where the winery is located, which offers views of the Salnés Valley.

Pale yellow in color with some green tint, this wine is aromatic with citrus and stone fruit. Crisp flavors of lemon, golden apple and white peach are nicely balanced with soft acidity. The finish is clean with lingering mineral notes.
$15, 12.5% alcohol

To learn more about Albariño from Rías Baixas visit
www.riasbaixaswines.com.

Codorniu Raventos

Rioja vs Ribera del Duero: A Tale of Two Tempranillos

Can you taste the difference between Tempranillo from Rioja and Ribera del Duero in a blind tasting?

The question was posed to a group of wine professionals last week. We had gathered at St. Cecilia in Buckhead for a lunch and tasting with two Spanish winemakers: Diego Pinilla of Bodegas Bilbainas in Rioja and Jorge Bombin of Legaris in Ribera del Duero. The wineries are part of the Codorníu Raventós group.

Both winemakers offered a glass of what they felt was the characteristic Tempranillo of their region. They then offered a brief history of their winery and how the location affects the Tempranillo grape, to assist us in guessing each wine.

Spain wine mapBodegas Bilbainas is located in the city of Haro in Rioja Alta (within the darker shaded portion in orange on the map). It was established in 1901, and was the first bottler in Rioja. With the Atlantic Ocean 100 miles to the north, the vineyards are influenced by the Atlantic climate. Clay soils give the vines water little by little, and mountains protect the vineyards from getting too cold.

Legaris is located along the Duero River in the Ribera del Duero region (within the darker shaded portion in yellow). It was established in 1999, bringing together tradition and innovation. The vineyards are planted at an average elevation of 2800 feet, and are influenced by a harsh continental climate with hot summers and low rainfall. Pebble soils reflect the sunlight back towards the vines.

Based on the terroir and growing conditions, Tempranillo from Rioja is typically higher in acidity with floral and red fruit notes. Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero is typically higher in alcohol content with black fruit notes.

Then it was time for the blind tasting. After knowing what differences to look for in the wines – acidity, alcohol and fruit – it was clear that the wine on our left was from Rioja, and the wine on the right was from Ribera del Duero.

The wines were revealed: Viña Pomal 2010 Reserva from Bodegas Bilbainas and Legaris 2011 Crianza.

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Kalfu Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

AG Pick: Kalfu Kuda Chardonnay & Sumpai Pinot Noir

The Pacific Ocean is important to the wines of Kalfu. From the Leyda Valley in Chile, these wines are influenced by the cool coastal climate. The ocean is also reflected in the name — Kalfu, meaning “blue” in the language of the indigenous Mapuche, is synonymous with the vast body of water.

The vineyards experience cool breezes and early morning fogs that help to slowly and steadily ripen the grapes. This is captured in the wines, which exude bright and refreshing characteristics.

Kalfu Chardonnay and Pinot NoirThe 2013 Kalfu Kuda Chardonnay is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes from estate vineyards in the Leyda Valley. The soil is a mix of granite and clay. This wine is unoaked; stainless steel fermentation preserves the freshness of the fruit.

At first sniff you might think this Chardonnay is actually a Sauvignon Blanc because of its citrus aromas. Crisp flavors of yellow grapefruit, tart pineapple and golden apple make it a wine you’d want to sip on a hot day. ($18.99, 13% alcohol)

The 2013 Kalfu Sumpai Pinot Noir is light in body with delicate acidity. Think more Washington State or Finger Lakes rather than California. The wine is 100% Pinot Noir from estate vineyards with stony alluvial clay soil in the Leyda Valley. It was aged for 10 months in 20% new French oak.

Cherry, fresh strawberry and yellow plum mix with white pepper and sarsaparilla, and end in a clean, crisp finish. ($23.99, 13.5% alcohol).

Kalfu wines are produced by Viña Ventisquero.

AG Pick: Septima Malbec 2012

After paying tribute to Cahors, France, the birthplace of Malbec, it’s time to return to South America. The 2012 Septima Malbec is a great example of how well this red wine grape does in Argentina.

Bodega Septima was founded in 1999 as the seventh (septima in Spanish) winery from the Codorníu-Raventós family of Spain. The winery is located in Luján de Cuyo in the Mendoza region. The vines are planted at an altitude of 3,400 feet above sea level in deep sandy loam soils, and benefit from natural irrigation from the melting snow on the Andes Mountains. Hot days and cool nights are ideal for developing the flavors and maintaining acidity in the Malbec grapes.

Septima MalbecThe 2012 vintage is 100% Malbec. Half of the grapes came from Luján de Cuyo, and the other half came from the stony soils of the Eugenio Bustos district in the Uco Valley. Grapes were harvested by hand, and the wine was aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels.

The wine is deep purple red in color, almost black. Intense aromas of blackberries, cassis, plum and black pepper draw you in. The black fruit notes develop and expand on the palate, giving way to earthy leather, wood smoke and spice. Well integrated tannins give the wine a lush and velvety mouthfeel.

With any Malbec from Bodega Septima you get quality and consistency, and a great price. A bottle of the 2012 Septima Malbec costs $10.99.

For more information on the wines from Bodega Septima visit www.bodegaseptima.com.

14% alcohol

Related: Cahors Malbec and the South America Connection

AG Pick: Kimmel Illuminate Chardonnay 2013

Looking for an unoaked Chardonnay at an unbeatable price point? Try the 2013 Illuminate North Coast Chardonnay from Kimmel Vineyards.

Illuminate ChardonnayIt’s a delicious answer to oak fatigue – that sensation when you drink a heavy-handed Chardonnay and you fear you might find a splinter in your tongue. The Illuminate Chardonnay is stainless steel fermented with no oak influence or secondary fermentation. What you get in the glass is pure, fresh fruit.

The Kimmel family has been growing Chardonnay in northern California’s Mendocino County since 1986, on the cattle ranch that was established by Ed and Lillian Kimmel in 1963. Lillian, or Nana as she is affectionately called, is still at the helm and celebrates her 90th birthday this month. Today the fourth generation is cultivating a love for the land.

The 2013 Chardonnay is 100% Chardonnay from the North Coast AVA. The wine is bright yellow in color, with tropical fruit and apple aromas. Flavors of golden apple, Asian pear, pineapple and guava come together in a lingering gently tart finish. Bright acidity adds a refreshing mouthfeel.

For this kind of taste, you won’t believe that the Illuminate North Coast Chardonnay costs just $9.99 a bottle.

Kimmel produces a variety of premium and everyday wines. For more information visit kimmelvineyards.com.

14.5% alcohol

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