From time to time, I receive mail with broad wine questions of interest to all readers. I received two this week.
Tom Bowman writes: "I enjoy your column in the Epoch Times and was hoping that you could give my wife and I your recommendation. We are more inclined to favor white wines and usually the sweeter ones like muscat cannelli and moscato. Do you have any recommendations for us?"
At one time, slightly sweet wines were the norm, rather than the exception, and quite popular throughout the United States. Italy's Riunite Lambrusco, a sweet red wine from the Emilia-Romagna region of central Italy, once sold more than 10 million cases annually in the United States and still claims to be the best-selling Italian wine of all time in the U.S.
Though Riunite's numbers have dwindled, now hovering around a few million cases sold in the U.S. per year, the category for medium-sweet whites and reds remains strong. A few of those wines I enjoy, particularly with fruit tarts, cakes and cookies, include the slightly effervescent rose Rosa Regale, a Brachetto d'Acqui from the Piedmont region of Italy. The 2018 Rosa Regale ($20) took a gold medal at the Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition in January.
The Eberle 2019 Muscat Canelli ($22) was another big winner at the Winemaker Challenge with a gold medal and a score of 90 points. Refreshing, fruity and only slightly sweet, this is one of the finest examples of muscat canelli in America.
Douglas Folsom writes: "I know you must be busy and I do not expect an answer but I am overwhelmed with the selection of wine. I am fairly new to wine and I read your articles in the Duluth Reader. I find your articles interesting and informative but of all the wine I have bought, rarely do I find a brand in your articles that I recognize."
It is very true that there are literally thousands of wine brands in the United States. Keeping track of all of them is impossible. I try to focus on brands that are either well distributed nationally or from the more popular wine regions that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, giving them tremendous exposure to a national audience.
But even those wines can be difficult to source in smaller cities and towns across the United States. A simple internet search could very well expand your options and the selection of wines available at your fingertips. Wine.com is a reliable company based in San Francisco that sells wine over the internet. The selection is broad and even includes many hard-to-find wines I seldom see, even in my home city of San Diego, California.
Wine-searcher.com provides another sort of service I find useful. Plug in a wine's name and vintage and retail outlets around the nation that sell the wine you are looking for pop up. You will also find that many of those retail outlets offer free shipping on some orders.
Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.
Drusian Prosecco, Valdobbiadene Superiore Cartizze ($27) — The Cartizze cru is probably the most coveted patch of land in Valdobbiadene. The wines from Cartizze are the epitome of elegance and finesse in the prosecco world, and this nonvintage Drusian is a beautiful example. The mousse is fine and persistent, gentle on the palate but with exceptional length. Aromas of pear and citrus are refined, subtle and intertwined, a beautiful example of a Cartizze cru prosecco at its absolute finest. Rating: 94.
Dutton Goldfield 2017 'Deviate' Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($72) — Winemaker Dan Goldfield strikes again with this beauty from the cool Sonoma Coast. Sourced from the Jentoft and Putnam vineyards, the 2017 Deviate is a densely colored pinot that shows luscious aromas of cherry and raspberry, excellent palate length and a spicy finish. Rating: 93.
Wente 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Wetmore Vineyard, Livermore Valley ($35) — The Livermore Valley east of the San Francisco Bay area seldom gets the attention it deserves, which serves to keep a lid on prices. That makes it an exceptional resource for wine lovers more interested in value than cachet. Wente's Wetmore Vineyard Cabernet from the 2017 vintage is a value gem, delivering layers of ripe black fruit aroma with supple tannins, a touch of wood spice and impressive length. Rating: 92.
Morgan 2018 Syrah, G17, Santa Lucia Highlands ($25) — The G17 refers to a highway in Monterey County that connects many of the top vineyards, but the most important reference on the label is Morgan, the longtime Monterey producer known essentially for stylish reds and whites that are crowd-pleasers but don't cost a fortune. This modestly priced syrah is another beauty from Morgan, showing notes of blueberry and blackberry with smooth tannins and a spice note on the finish. Rating: 90.
Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. Email Robert at [email protected]
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