More Provence rose as summer hits its peak months, this one a blend of 40% grenache, 40% cinsault, and 20% syrah. Restrained with light apricot, browned apple, and apricot notes, the wine unfolds to reveal some white floral elements, a bit of honeysuckle, and more herbs and baking spice on the finish. Showing lovely balance — and with not a hint of “strawberry” to be found — it’s an unusual rose that plays best for the white wine enthusiast.
A- / $34 / dreyfusashby.com
Avignonesi’s 2014 Rosso di Montipulciano is in line with its prior efforts, which kicks off with a healthy cherry character with a slightly sweet, vanilla-dusted finish. Some modest tannins, a touch of licorice, and a bit of chocolate. Light balsamic notes add complexity to the finish, but otherwise the wine is a simple but enveloping expression of Italy.
B+ / $19 / avignonesi.it
This old vines grenache from Australia’s McLaren Vale starts off both a touch thin and overloaded with fruit character. Things settle down a bit with air in the glass, revealing some tart balsamic notes to balance out that initial rush of plum and red berries. The finish adds a touch of dark chocolate and a kick of licorice.
B+ / $32 / yangarra.com
Another Provence rose, this one a blend of 40% grenache, 40% cinsault, and 15% syrah. The nose is pure strawberry with a lemon twist, but the body takes on a more curious note, with essence of orange peel, herbal lemongrass, and some odd currant and winey Port notes on the somewhat gummy finish. I also get a wierd roasted red bell pepper character as the finish fades. All told, it’s an unusual rose but pleasant enough as a weekday diversion.
B- / $20 / hechtbannier.com
“Affordable Bordeaux” is always a loaded term, and this release from Lassegue’s second label shows why. A very simplistic wine, it exudes a heavily earthy and vegetal character, with notes of truffle, tobacco, and green beans. The body is surprisingly thin, while the finish is thick with a canned vegetable aftertaste. It has a few brief moments of brightness somewhere in the middle of all that, but they’re decidedly fleeting.
C- / $25 / chateau-lassegue.com
A big (huge!) wine from Newton, this wine showcases some bold flavors not typically associated with chardonnay, including apricot, toasted marshmallow, and figs. In time, a pear/apple core emerges, punched up by tons of vanilla and a moderate to heavy lumberyard influence. Pair with something that can stand up to it.
B+ / $60 / newtonvineyard.com
A pair of mid-2016 releases of Liberated are here, both North Coast bottlings but different as night and day. Thoughts follow.
2015 Liberated Sauvignon Blanc North Coast – A fresh and lightly tropical sauvignon blanc that nonetheless has enough acidity to keep things alive and vibrant. Pineapple finds a companion in light, white floral elements and a spritz of perfume on the back end. The clean finish has a gentle dollop of sweetness. B+ / $17
2013 Liberated Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast – This wine immediately comes across as very young and a bit brash, quite green up front without much structure. Instead, it’s all pushy and immature wine notes, simple berries, and a slug of vanilla on the back end. Rather plain. C+ / $17