Wines, Wines, Wines

A couple of weeks ago, an interesting (concerning, rather?) thought came in – this is the wine blog. I’m doing my best to keep you entertained and informed, with all the weekly quizzes and potpourri wine news (a.k.a. Wednesday’s Meritage), but I don’t do enough of the core wine blogging stuff – namely, the wine reviews.  No, I don’t have a plan to address this radically – say, but introducing a new weekly topic or so. But during the past month, I had quite a few wines worth talking about, so this is exactly what I’m going to do – write a post to review those wines. Well, yeah, I guess you are already reading this very post… The usual warning – there will be pictures,… many pictures…

It is still summer, so let’s start with super-quaffable Prosecco. It is not even Prosecco, it is pretty much a complete cocktail in the bottle. The wine is made by Mionetto, a well known Prosecco producer in Valdobbiadene region in Italy.

MIonetto Il Ugo

Mionetto Il Ugo

Mionetto Il Ugo, a blend of Prosecco with elderflower blossoms and wildflowers – bright and uplifting on the nose, touch of sweetness with a charismatic bitterness and enough acidity – it is so refreshing, you don’t want to put the glass down. Yes, I know, the purists will disagree – but this is an outstanding wine in my book. Drinkability: 8

Now, a couple of value wines for your consideration. These wines come from Chile under the brand name of the Beach Kite. While you can’t find this information on the wine label, Beach Kite is presumable affiliated with 90+ Cellars. 90+ Cellars has a similar model of operation to Hughes Wines and Oriel (at least the two that I’m familiar with), which is: find good wines which well-known wineries have a hard time selling, bottle under your own private label, and sell for the reasonable price at around $20. Beach Kite seems to be more of a “second label” to the 90+ Cellars wines, considering the price of $7.99 per bottle. But – don’t judge the wine by its price.

2012 Beach Kite Sauvignon Blanc Central Valley Chile (13% ABV) had herbaceous nose, and zesty grapefruit on the palate, a bit more restrained compare to the typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but still  fruit forward next to Sancerre. Refreshing, with good acidity. Drinkability: 7

2012 Beach Kite Pinot Noir Central Valley Chile (13% ABV) – simple, round, good red fruit on the nose and the palate, touch of plums, good acidity – perfect sipping wine for a hot summer day. Drinkability: 7

Next I want to talk about few wines, sorted by the grape.


While this is not how I rate the wines, but I would say that I had two Rieslings which were outstanding, and one which was … just spectacular.


Paritua Riesling Central Otago

2008 Paritua Riesling Central Otago New Zealand (11.5% ABV). I got this wine for $6/bottle at Last Bottle Wines. I was questioning myself a bit when placing an order for this wine, as I never heard of Riesling from Central Otago – a region in New Zealand known for their world-class Pinot Noir, but not Riesling. I’m glad I took my chances and got this wine, as it was outstanding. Perfect ripe peach flavors on the nose with the hint of petrol (yes, I know some people are not very happy about this flavor, but I personally love  it). Very delicate on the palate, with some honey and apricot notes, perfect acidity and very restrained sweetness. This New Zealand Riesling would rival many of the German Rieslings at Kabinett level. One night we had it with Thai food, and [as expected] it paired perfectly. Drinkability: 8

2005 Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Spatlese Mosel-SaarRuwer (9% ABV) – what I value the most in Riesling (any Riesling) is balance. My sweet tooth is not any smaller than the one any sweets lover would have out there. But I can’t take bottomless sweetness in the wine – I need acidity to come and play it supportive and refreshing role right next to the sweetness. This Riesling is perfectly balanced, with excellent acidity – and showing no signs of age.  Just had an interesting revelation – may be I should replace my “drinkability” ratings with “quaffability”, as this wine was not just drinkable, it was perfectly quaffable. Anyway, I digress. This is not the first Riesling I had from Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg  – and it seems to be a very interesting winery – but I need to refer you to the Riesling expert Oliver TheWinegetter if you want to learn more. Here is a link to the comment Oliver left on one of my previous posts where he is talking about this winery. Drinkability: 8+

Curt Rasmussen Late Harvest Riesling

Kurt Rasmussen Late Harvest Riesling

1999 Kurt Rasmussen Late Harvest Riesling Dry Creek Valley (13%ABV) – I’m not sure I can do justice to this wine trying to describe it. In a word – spectacular. Liquid viscous dark gold in the glass, honey, honeydew, caramelized pecan, apricot notes all over, both on the nose and the palate – and perfectly balanced (I’m know I’m abusing this one), with still bright supporting acidity. Drinkability: 9

Next up – Gewurztraminer

To be honest, I don’t drink Gewurztraminer all that often. I find a lot of Gewurztraminer wines to be all over the place in terms of taste – many of them have wonderful nose, but then on the palate the wine often doesn’t appear to be “together”, it shows up quite disjointed. But – not this wine.

Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer

Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer

Domain Zind-Humbrecht is one of the best producers in Alsace, probably best known for its Pinot Gris wines. Just to put things in perspective, 36 wines of Domain Zind-Humbrecht have classic ratings from Wine Spectator (95-100), including perfect score 100 point 2001 Pinot Gris. Well, this is not the wine I’m talking about here.

2002 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Herrenweg de Turckheim Gewurztraminer Alsace (15.5% ABV) – I got two bottles of this wine at Bottle King in New Jersey on a big sale for about $20 each – this wine typically retails for $60 or so. I had a bottle few years back, and was not impressed. So when I pulled this bottle out, I was not expecting much ( it was more like “yeah,  let’s free some space in the wine fridge”). My, was I wrong! In one word, I have to use again my abused wine definition of the day – spectacular. Dark golden color, beautiful nose of candied apricot, perfect honey tones on the palate, fresh acidity, more candied apricot, perfectly balanced. Drinkability: 9

Food break

Tired of wine? Let’s make a short break for some food pictures. First, I promised to Food and Wine Hedonist that when I will make Elotes according to his recipe, I will share my impressions. Elotes is Mexican street food which is essentially a grilled corn with spicy mayo and Cotija cheese – this is precisely what I did and it was tasty! For the recipe, use the link above, and here are the pictures:

Yes, I continue admiring my “mangal”, a special charcoal grill – here are few pictures for your drooling pleasure:

You know what – I think this is enough for one post. Let’s stop here. In the next post – Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and may be something else.

To be continued…

  1. PSsquared
    August 16, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Great photos. All of it looks delicious. Elotes out here are usually just grilled corn with lime juice and chile powder rubbed on. But yours look decadent. Happy Friday!

    • talkavino
      August 16, 2013 at 9:51 am

      Thanks, Patty, Happy Friday to you too! Yes, I didn’t specifically mentioned lime juice and cayenne pepper, but they were both incorporated abundantly into the mayo : ) Cheers!

  2. August 16, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Love grilled corn. Will give this a try tonight probably. Reviews appreciated. We don’t get the private label sort of wine here – so entry level wines are generally plonk no matter how hard people try their best to make them better. I have the same feeling about gewurtztraminer and have gone off completely for that reason. Maybe its time to revisit?

    • talkavino
      August 16, 2013 at 10:26 am

      I don’t think anything changed dramatically with Gewurztraminer – I guess I just got lucky. If you can find the same (it is definitely available, at least in US), it would be interesting to compare notes. But of course you can just give it a try – there is always a chance of a good surprise when it comes to wines…

  3. August 16, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Awesome! Glad you liked them… I think you’re the first person who actually followed through with posting results after trying one of my recipes! (of course, maybe the others didn’t work out and they were being nice).

    I think tonight might be a Prosecco night…

    Have a great weekend!

    • talkavino
      August 16, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Every night can be a Prosecco night (shhh, we shouldn’t tell this to Jeff). On the elotes, I can tell you that this is how I eat my corn from now on – totally different level of flavor!
      Great weekend to you as well!

  4. August 16, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Fantastic pictures and great recommends. A Riesling from Central Otago? That gives me something to look forward to trying.

    • talkavino
      August 16, 2013 at 6:36 pm

      Thank you! Yes, this Riesling was outstanding, especially considering the price ($6 per bottle)…

  5. August 16, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Ken is crazy about corn–and we’ve never had it Elotes-style. Great idea! What did you drink with it?

    and I love that you were able to find some good-tasting bargain-wine; sometimes I don’t want to spend a lot, but I also don’t want to drink that obviously cheap-tasting stuff. I haven’t had very much luck finding ones in the $8 range that I’d drink again. I’ll be looking for Beach Kite.

  6. talkavino
    August 16, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Value wines are not so easy to find, but there are still quite a few, especially if your Trader Joe’s carries wines : )

    For the pairing with Elotes, if you just going to have it by itself, I think some middle of the road Riesling will work just fine (considering you will make the mayo spicy enough). If you will have it with BBQ, whatever your standard BBQ red is, it will meld in…

  7. August 17, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Great reviews, all sound promising. Especially intrigued by the Prosecco elderflower blend, sounds refreshing and I am a sucker for elderflower. As for elotes, it’s the best and my favorite way to enjoy summer corn.

    • talkavino
      August 17, 2013 at 10:01 am

      Thanks Suzanne! That Prosecco is definitely very enjoyable, you should look for it.

  8. August 18, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Personally, I love petrol notes in a Riesling.
    Also, I share your general feelings about Gewurz… But just like you say, there are a few good ones out there. 🙂
    Great post, Anatoli.

    • talkavino
      August 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      Thanks, Stefano! These were all very good wines…

  9. September 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Thanks for the shoutout, Anatoli! I am slowly catching up with all my reading….I will need to procure a Karthaeuserhof to talk about it in my blog. We actually had one here in A2, which a friend brought to one of our parties, but I have not been willing to fork over the money necessary to acquire another bottle. It is definitely one of the better wineries, if not THE winery at the Ruwer…I can see how this one would be very quaffable now.

    Also, I am intrigued by the NZ Riesling, especially at that price point!! Great bargain!!

    • talkavino
      September 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm

      My pleasure, Oliver. The NZ Riesling was outstanding, especially considering the price point. Got to love Last Bottles…

      • September 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm

        I still haven’t ordered from them. Their minimum free shipping # of bottles usually deters me…but I have seen some of the nicer German Rieslings on the site as well. Still too expensive for me, given that I can get most into the country from friends or drink them back in Germany…

  10. September 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Oh, and last but not least, “Hugo” was quite the rage last summer in Germany: prosecco or German Sekt mixed with elderflower blossom syrup. Seems like this was a ready mix, even better. How does one get elderflower syrup in the States?

  1. August 18, 2013 at 10:11 am
  2. December 22, 2013 at 12:19 pm
  3. December 29, 2013 at 9:21 am
  4. December 30, 2013 at 9:34 am

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