Leese-Fitch–California Value

Leese-Fitch Sauvignon Blanc, 2016

Leese-Fitch is one of those labels that provides consistent quality and value. No frills or exotic claims–just honest varietal character at an honest price. Throw in the twist-off cap and you’ve got yourself a nice everyday drinking wine–something you can buy a case of for a party without breaking the bank. Check these out:

Leese-Fitch Sauvignon Blanc, 2016–tropical and citrus flavors balanced with easy-drinking acidity. 12.00

Leese-Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015–majority cab with small amounts of other red varietals to express a combination of mellow red fruit flavors intertwined with coffee and cocoa–smooth.  12.00

Leese-Fitch Firehouse Red Wine, 2015--S blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot, Mourvedre, and Tempranillo–Works together to bring home lots of rich, dark fruit flavors. Says BBQ to me.  12.00

Leese-Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon & Leese-Fitch Firehouse Red Wine, 2015

Kettmeir, Wines from Alto Adige

Kettmeir Muller Thurgau, Pinot Blanc & Pinot Grigio

Kettmeir wines come from the Alto Adige DOC on northern border of Italy. Alto Adige is so far north it butts up against Switzerland and Austria. Nestled in its Alpine climate, the region produces wines quite unlike any other part of Italy. The cool mountain weather and brilliant sunshine combine to make ideal growing conditions for white. I was delighted to get my hands on three samples of these wonderfully unique wines:

Kettmeir Pinot Bianco, 2015–my wife and opened this bottle with friends of ours–people who know and love wine.The response was immediate: “Where did you get this??” Aromatic, crisp apple flavors and brilliant acidity—on a Looong finish. Perfect for seafood or cheese. 22.00

Kettmeir Muller Thurgau, 2015–now here is a varietal we don’t see much of around these parts and more’s the pity. Intense aromas and flavors of the grape are maintained through stainless production. If you crave a clean, crisp–but rich dry white, this is your baby. Compare it to a Gruner Veltliner or high altitude Sauvignon Blanc–but with its own magic. 22.00

Kettmeir Pinot Grigio, 2015–I admit, it takes a special kind of Pinot Grigio to get me interested–and Kettmeir’s is one of them. Surprisingly full-bodied for a Pinot Grigio, Kettmeir carries through with sustained aroma and flavor. If you only drink one Pinot Grigio this summer, consider this one.  22.00

Kettmeir Muller Thurgau, Pinot Blanco, and Pinot Grigio

Smith & Hook Proprietary Red Blend, 2015

Smith & Hook Proprietary Red, 2015

Smith & Hook Proprietary Red Blend, 2015, from Hahn Winery, made a name for itself a long time ago as a star on the Central Coast. Wine maker Paul Clifton’s blend of Merlot, Malbec, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon comes together like a symphony of flavors. Smith & Hook is a good reminder that the Central Coast is a serious player–and the price is right.  25.00

Smith & Hook Proprietary Red, 2015

Two Range Red Blend, 2015

For me, the 2015 vintage of Two Range Red Blend had a hard act to follow. The 2014 vintage was one of my favorite red blends of last year. Well, 2015 is another stand-out–smooth as velvet and loaded with dark fruit. Named for two mountain ranges in Napa, it is a blend of Petite Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, If you love a rich Napa cab, but don’t want to spend big bucks, take a shot at Two Range and be prepared to be surprised. 25.00

2015 Two Range Red Blend, Napa Valley

Predator Six Spot Red Blend, 2015

Predator Six Spot Red Blend, 2015, is another winning vintage from Rutherford Wine Company. This juicy Lodi blend of Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, and Malbec, caught me by surprise last vintage and this year is another treat. Six Spot brings together the best of all three varietals–all coming together in rich layers. It’s a deal, too.  16.00

Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Riserva–Viva Italia!

Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Riserva, 2013. Sounds interesting but what makes it “Classico” and why is it a “Riserva”?

The answers are pretty straightforward: “Classico” means that the grapes and wine making standards follow the exacting standards of original Chianti region (the region was later expanded to include out-lying areas, but Classico refers to the heart of the original DOCG, or region defined by tradition and law. “Riserva” means the Chianti has spent at least two years in oak and three months in the bottle before release.

Chianti Classico Riserva is also required to contain slightly more of the Sangeovese grape–which is the base of Chianti. And it must be at least 12.5%ABV, translating into longer potential cellaring time.

All that said, you may not want to wait on this bella 2013 Lamole. It’s rich, spicy, elegant, and ready to drink. Salute!  30.00

Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Riserva, 2013

Frontera’s New “Midnight” Wines

Frontera is another one of Concha y Toro‘s labels–an entry-level line probably best described as table wines–good, solid everyday quaffing. Frontera has added a new label to line up with Moonlight White (blend) and After Midnight Red (blend). Both wines are night harvest wines (grapes harvested in the cool of the evening–especially in hot climates–tend to retain more fresh fruit flavor and aroma than grapes harvested in the heat of the day.)

Fruit is really what the Moonlight and Midnight wines are all about. Moonlight White is largely Moscato, with a small amount of other whites mixed in for acidity. Moderate sweetness, lots of fruit, and enough tang to keep it from being cloying. PERFECT PICNIC WINE. After Midnight Red (blend) also captures rich fruit–this time from Cabernet and Syrah–with a little merlot thrown in for good measure.

What you get with both of these inexpensive little numbers are fun, slightly sweet fruit bombs–and sometimes that makes a nice change-up. Great party wines because there is always someone who can’t (or isn’t ready for) do dry wines. Oh, and did I mention that they only run about six dollars each?  Drink up.  6.00

After Midnight Red & Moonlight White–blends from Frontera

Terrunyo 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Wow

Got time for a great bottle of wine:    Terrunyo 2016 Sauvignon Blanc

Terrunyo 2016 Sauvignon Blanc from Concha y Toro is outstanding. I like a nice Sauvignon Blanc–and there are a lot of nice Sauvignon Blancs out there. But when is the last time you had one that knocked your socks off?

Concha y Toro has a lot of labels out there and I’ve come to associate them with quality and value–but sometimes I take the label for granted as just another one of my go-to producers. The fact is that we’re seeing more single vineyard/premium  Concha y Toro now–they are not just that Chilean winery that makes good, cheap wine.

Terrunyo Sauvignon Blanc is head and shoulders above the average mid-teen priced Sauvigon Blanc. Yes, it’s a bit more money, but the value is there in every drop–just check out the reviews. 26.00

Terrunyo 2016 Sauvignon Blanc

Maestro 2104, Robert Mondavi

The 2014 Maestro from Robert Mondavi looks like a gift from a rich uncle. Encased in a classy presentation box, the Maestro bottle within glimmers with gold leaf. If you’re looking for a smart looking gift (and a great bottle of wine) the Maestro fits the bill. Imagine taking this as a host/hostess gift. Looks like a million bucks, tastes like a million bucks (but it’s fifty dollars.)

First introduced in 2016 for Mondavi’s 50th anniversary, Maestro is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvigon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petite Verdot–fruit sourced from Stags Leap District and Oakville.This second vintage is another big boy at 15%abv. Lots of dark fruit, cocoa, and velvet tannins. As rich as it is now, cellaring the Maestro should provide its own rewards. 50.00