The wonderful wizard of wine! That would be Larry, the proprietor of Wine Wizards on Grand Canal Boulevard in Stockton. Larry does a tasting of about 12 new releases once a month, usually on the first Thursday. The tastings tend to be Euro-centric, with many of the selections imported by Kermit Lynch. If you want to up your game re Old World wines, Wine Wizards is a good place to do it. It is not a group tasting, but many of the attendees are regulars and will be happy to tell you what they think of the offerings! Tasting price is usually around $20, and all wines sampled can be ordered at a 15% discount.
For June, Larry had 13 wines to sample. Following are the ones that Gord and Steph particularly enjoyed.
The full lineup for the tasting.
2016 Fattoria Moretto Pignoletto Frizzante, Italy. $19. From the western part of the Emilia-Romagna region, which specialized in fizzy wines. The varietal is Pignoletto – when was the last time you could say you had a Pignoletto?
Gord says “pale to pale medium gold. The nose is slightly yeasty, with apple notes. Palate has low medium to medium acid, a citric attack and a nutty mid palate. This wine is enjoyable, tart, and tingly. 15 points.”
Steph says “the nose starts off with a hint of toasted almonds, light floral note, lemon, white peach and minerality. It is fairly light in the mouth and tastes of wet stone and lemon drop candy, sans the sugar. The lemon drop flavor and mineral continue throughout the long finish. This bubbly is great for the summer and the price is reasonable. Good.”
2016 Mahi Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand. $15. Although New Zealand has branched off into multiple varietals and is developing quite a reputation for Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc is the varietal that first thrust New Zealand onto the world wine stage. NZ Sauv’s are usually quite distinctive, with bright citric grassy notes.
Gord says ” pale medium gold. The nose is white grapefruit, and slightly grassy. Palate has medium to medium high acid, a lemony grassy attack that persists to the mid palate, with a savory herbal finish. This wine did not scream New Zealand on the nose to start, but the palate definitely had the right stuff. This wine is a pretty good value. 15 points.”
Steph says “the smell is of grass, pineapple and a hint of cat pee. The body is light but has tons of flavor, including grass, lemon and grapefruit pith. The finish is long, refreshing and the lemon/grapefruit continues throughout the lengthy finish. Very enjoyable and a great buy. Good!
Domaine Barat Chablis Premier Cru “Cote de Lechet”, France. $33. The Chablis region is at the extreme north of the Burgundy region. The varietal in Chablis is Chardonnay, typically unoaked.
Gord says “pale medium gold. Nose is tight to start, turns to a faintly herbal honey aroma. Palate has low to low medium acid, with an apple attack followed by a bitter pith note. Finish has bitter notes that I don’t much care for. 14.5 points.”
Steph comments: The essence of white peach, with underlying toasted almonds in a closed nose made way to a mouth that was toasty with grapefruit zest and was unremarkable to me. The finish is relatively short and not much flavor. Not so much.
2015 Kuentz Bas Pinot Noir, Alsace, France. $20. Most people are familiar with the white wines of Alsace – Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris. The reds, usually Pinot Noir, and less common.
Gord says “medium to medium deep ruby. Nose is faintly strawberry, and a bit weedy. Palate has low to low medium acid, slightly less tannin, with chunky red cherry fruit. Medium body. There is an earthy note on the mid palate. This wine may improve, but regardless it is pretty good value for Pinot Noir. 15 points.”
Steph says “this Pinot has toast, smoke, and a pinch of sulphur, as well as spice, floral and earthy attributes. The wine has a fairly light body, with earth, cherry fruit, spiciness, vanilla and toast. Puckery tannins carry tart cherry fruit through a fairly long finish. I don’t know if this wine will hold, but it would be worth a try for the price point. Kinda good. Needs food for sure and for certain.”
2015 Domaine Jean-Claude Regnaudot Maranges Premier Cru “La Fussiere”, Burgundy, France. $34. Maranges is a small appellation in the southern part of Beaune, in Burgundy. Burgundy is, of course, code for “expensive Pinot Noir”. $34 is pretty much entry level.
Gord says “dark ruby. Nose has sweet berry fruit, cherry and a bit of vanilla. Palate has low plus acid, low to low medium tannins, and a ripe dark berry attack. Medium full body, nice texture and mouthfeel, with a slightly vanilla finish. This wine needs to lay down for a while, but it is quite tasty and good value for Burgundy. 16 points.”
Steph says “the musty, leather note on the nose is blended with a cherry/berry fruit combination. Those qualities are also present in the mouth, along with smoke and a hint of meat. The gauzy tannins carry cherry fruit and spice flavor through to a vanilla finish. Good body and interesting characteristics made me rate this wine good; would like it better at a lower price point.”
2015 Lionel Faury Saint Joseph Rouge, Rhone Valley, France. $32. Saint Joseph is in the northern Rhone Valley, where the red wines are 100% Syrah. Saint Joseph is the little brother to Cote Rotie or Hermitage, the really expensive and sought after northern Rhone appellations.
Gord says “very dark ruby with a ruby rim. The nose is slightly smoky, with a weedy note. There is a hint of meat (note that smoked meat and bacon are common descriptors for Syrahs from the Northern Rhone) and dark fruit. Palate has low to low medium acid, low medium tannins, and a dark plummy attack. Medium full body, with intense consistency of flavor through to the mid palate. “Put in mouth and boom”. The Faury Saint Joseph is an interesting wine – I have purchased this wine in previous vintages, and have found that it does not age well for more than a year or two. Those wines started off smoky with red cherry fruit notes, but instead of fleshing out with age they just faded. This wine seems a bit bigger (more aggressive fruit) than in the past, so it might do better over the long term. But I am not willing to gamble. 15.5 points.”
Steph says “hold this wine! I can’t believe I said that, but I would really love to taste this wine in a few years. It starts off with hints of an unnamed red fruit, barnyard and a musty tone that is a little hard to decipher, as the nose is closed. Since I was speed-tasting at this point (as I was on to another event), it may have opened up some later. As far as taste, boysenberry and vanilla carried through the gauzy tannins and medium length finish. I think this wine is interesting and rate it good now, possibly growing to great with time.
2014 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape “Telegramme”, Rhone Valley, France. $46. Chateauneuf-du-Pape (CNdP) is in the southern Rhone, and can be comprised of up to 13 varietals. Usually it is Grenache based. CNdP is the big boy of southern Rhone appellations, and usually more expensive than neighboring AOC’s such as Vacqueyras or Gigondas.
Gord says “medium deep ruby, with a slight garnet rim. Nose has a sweet aroma of ripe berry fruit, with a hint of herbs. Palate has low plus acid, low to low medium tannin, and a ripe blackberry attack that is kind of jammy. This is a nice version of sweet Grenache fruit, pleasant to drink but not worth $46. 15 points.”
Steph says “spice, anise and berry are what I detect on the nose. The dark berry flavor tastes of overripe fruit with anise and spice. Medium tannins infused with the dark, mature fruit finished with the tannins the winner in the medium length finish. Not my style of wine, but many would probably like it.”
2016 Sommariva Rosata Spumante Brut “Il Rosa”, Italy. $15. Ending with a sparkler!
Gord says “pale plus pink. Nose is yeasty. Palate has an explosion of bubbles, with a slightly sweet strawberry fruit flavor and a hint of herbs. This is very enjoyable, a good hot day pool wine. 15 points.”
Steph says “the first thing I noticed was tons of bubbles. The floral, herbal and strawberry scent was easy to get on the nose, with a crisp mouthful of strawberry continuing to a strawberry lemon finish. Tasty, clean and a pretty price. Good and good deal!”