Reggie’s Pick: 2017 Alvaro Palacios “Camins del Priorat’ $25

This Alvaro Palacios wine from Priorat hits the sweet spot as a great wine at an affordable price. While built to last, it is approachable young: offering floral aromas on the nose and dark red fruit, tobacco and bramble on the palate with a long, refined finish. The wine is a blend of 40% Garnacha, 30% Samso (Carignane), 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah. Priorat is a Catalan Denominacion;Origen Qualificada (DOQ) for wines produced in the Priorat County, in the province of Tarragona, in the southwest of Catalonia.

The DOQ covers 11 municipalities. It primarily produces powerful red wines, which came to international attention in the 1990s. The area is characterized by its unique terroir of black slate and quartz soil known as llicorella. It is one of only two wine regions in Spain to qualify as DOCa, the highest qualification level for a wine region according to Spanish wine regulations, alongside Rioja DOCa. Priorat is the Catalan word, the one that appears most often on wine labels, while the Castilian equivalent is Priorato. Enjoy this wine with grilled meats, roast chicken or Paella.

Kent’s Pick: 2014 Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon $12.99

We got a screaming deal on this wine, so I figured I better try a bottle before it all gets sold!

Due to its tremendous success, I sometimes forget that Argentina grows varieties other than Malbec. There’s a lot of other wines coming from Argentina that are worth checking out, and this Cabernet Sauvignon is a prime example. The fruit for this wine is from vineyards in Mendoza that sit at over 3000 feet in elevation, with cooler nights allowing the grapes to ripen slowly, providing a balance between acidity and sugar.

This wine is unmistakably Cabernet Sauvignon, with the nose showing cassis, herbs and dark fruit. On the palate the wine is structured but soft with well integrated tannins, showing cassis, dark cherry, a touch of herbs, menthol, and just a hint of oak. If you’re looking for an excellent value in Cabernet, don’t pass this one by!

Stephen’s Pick: Joel Gott 2017 California Chardonnay $12.99

Most of the wines we write up every month are interesting, unique, or exceptional in quality, flavor, or some other remarkable attribute. The wine I decided to feature in our April newsletter was initially a seemingly pedestrian, mainstream, mass-produced, bottom of the cooler selection; however, I was guilty of a serious underestimation!

I knew that Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc was extremely popular because I re-stock it frequently. We started carrying the Chardonnay a few months ago and consequently, I had not tried it yet. Apparently the Universe wanted Joel Gott Chardonnay to get some hype because this morning – while pulling wines from our back stock cellar, I accidentally knocked a bottle over, and it (predictably) smashed instantly on the hard, concrete floor. At the very moment it hit the ground and formed a pool around the broken glass, the entire cellar area became filled with an extraordinary fragrance! It was like fresh slices of kiwi and cantaloupe gently strewn together in a bowl with honey and pineapple juice! The captivating fragrance diffused into the hallway near the cellar and as I quickly worked to clean up the broken glass, several co-workers walked by and asked me what the incredible aroma was. With more than a little surprise in my voice, I stated “It’s Joel Gott Chardonnay and I had no idea it smelled this good!”

Later that afternoon, I had a chance to actually try Joel Gott chardonnay and wow! It is extremely interesting when a wine’s taste profile is different from its bouquet (fragrance) and in this case – both were exceptional. It reminded me of an unoaked, white Burgundy and for an inexpensive California Chardonnay, that is saying a lot! The mouth-feel was full and round. The taste was lush and tropical; however, within a dry, elegant context. It was like a baked apple, dripping with honey and a very subtle hint of unsalted butter. After smelling and tasting this amazing wine, I did some research and discovered that Joel Gott Winery was started in Napa Valley in 1996. In addition to their surprisingly delicious unoaked chardonnay, they produce Sauvignon Blanc (previously mentioned), Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and many other varieties with grapes sourced from Oregon and Washington in addition to California.

Joel Gott produces varietal wines only – no blends or co-fermented wines. This aligns with their intention of being as true and authentic as possible to whatever variety they are making wine from. This is why they chose to create an unoaked chardonnay with indigenous yeasts, no enzymes, fining agents, or unnecessary additives.

The result is this truly exceptional, fragrant, mouth-watering, and utterly surprising Chardonnay. Pairs quite well with any dishes containing goat-cheese, shellfish, veal, pate’, Caesar salad, and even ham. Finally, based upon the ‘smashing’ discovery of this great Chardonnay, it is delicious enough to enjoy on its own – complex, many-layered, and as fresh as the rapidly approaching spring.

Kathy’s Pick: 2016 Hartford Court RR Chardonnay, $16.99

I’m always looking for that perfect Chardonnay with a nice, bright note of acidity and just enough oak to add structure but not make me feel as if I’m chewing on wood as I drink it. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to come by but we just brought this one in as a special deal and it is wonderful. Normally a $30 bottle of wine, with the deal we got, we are selling it for $16.99. It got great scores and here is one of the reviews:

“Bright, fresh and nuanced, the 2016 Chardonnay (Russian River) has so much to offer. The Russian River Chardonnay is a distinctly mid-weight wine built on expressive citrus and floral character. It also happens to be the hidden gem in this range.” 93 Pts Vinous

Stephen’s Pick: Monte Degli Angeli 2016 Pinot Noir; $9.99

When most wine drinkers think of Pinot Noir, they find their minds wandering to Oregon, California’s Russian River Valley, possibly New Zealand, and of course – Burgundy; the origin of this classic, intriguing, and esthetic varietal. Monte Degli Angeli’s Pinot Noir is produced from grapes grown in Piedmont, Italy which is well-known for Barolo and Barbaresco – the two most majestic, and powerful red wines made in Italy. Asti is also produced in Piedmont; however, no one in the wine industry (let alone the average consumer) would ever ordinarily associate this region with Pinot Noir. Nevertheless, Monte Degli Angeli’s elegant contribution to Pinot Noir’s continuing fascination with winemakers and wine enthusiasts alike is a must-try and astonishingly inexpensive version of this classic varietal.

Piedmont means “foot of the mountain” which refers to rolling Alpine foothills that are mostly too steep and too cold for vines; however, more than 17% of all of the DOC and DOCG wines in Italy are made there. Nearly all of Piedmont’s best vineyards are located in warmer areas further south where we find Alba, Asti, and Alessandria – Barolo and Barbaresco villages lie on either side of Alba and finally, Mombaruzzo, which is a commune within Asti just Southeast of Turin.

Monte Degli Angeli also produces Barolo and interestingly enough, the winery itself is in the Lecce Province, which is in the eastern portion of Italy’s continental “boot;” however, their grapes are imported from Piedmont. Are you confused yet? This complicated presentation of information alone might be enough to intrigue the average wine drinker to spend ten dollars in order to drink this dry, elegant, rich, and fruit-fresh Pinot Noir, but my advice is to forget its complicated legacy and enjoy the fact that you are drinking your favorite varietal which is made from grapes grown in Italy’s (and possibly the entire wine world’s) most famous winemaking region. The color is ruby-red with medium intensity, velvety mouth-feel, and not unlike some of the more expensive Oregon Pinot Noirs.

I am not one to “name names”, but I poured this Pinot Noir during a routine Wednesday afternoon tasting and one of Boise’s most experienced and highly educated sommeliers was utterly awe-struck, captivated, and mesmerized by this wine’s complexity, elegance, and uniqueness – especially after realizing that it was only $9.99. Are you ready to take a few bottles home? I am enjoying a glass of it right now…….

Bruce’s Pick: 2017 Regis Bouvier Bourgogne Rouge, $23

Regis Bouvier is based in Marsannay, in Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits, just north of the more famous village of Gevrey Chambertin. While Marsannay is somewhat under the radar, with the number of young talented winemakers there now, the bar has been raised and the vineyards are now being recognized for the potential they hold to make top quality red Burgundies. There are already recognized 1er Cru vineyards in this village and others such as the holdings of Bouvier that are approaching that status....but my pick is his his entry level Bourgorgne rouge.

Unfortunately, I can’t afford to drink 1er Cru Bourgogne very often, so I look for these value priced Burgundies that are from excellent sites and producers for my more casual drinking. This reasonably priced Burgundy is about as refined and elegant as Pinot Noir can get at this price. It is soft, charming, and delicious, even quaffable if you are so inclined!

The vineyard source for their Bourgogne is from a steep sloped vineyard, not the flat land vineyards that provide the fruit for many generic Burgundies. The quality of the site and winemaking are evident in this excellent value Burgundy, and, oh yes, 2017 is yet another very good (and approachable) vintage for red Burgundy.

Kent’s Pick: 2012 Estola Reserva $9.99

Some of the greatest red wines in the world come from Spain and are made from Tempranillo, but they can also be some of the most expensive! That said, there are also some great values to be had and we have one in the shop right now: the 2012 Estola Reserva. This wine comes from the region of La Mancha, which is south of Madrid and is a blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was aged for 24 months in American oak barrels. On the nose wine shows red fruits, framed in oak, and hint of leather. On the palate the wine is full bodied, showing cherries, a touch of strawberry, spice and a bit of cassis. Even though both Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon can be very tannic, the tannins are finely grained and well integrated. This is an excellent value, and the wine will go great with any type of red meat or even pizza.

Bob’s Pick: 2014 Caroline Morey’s Chassagne – Montrachet Rouge, $36

Without bragging, it has been said (I said it) that our wine shop is the best and most diversely stocked there is between Seattle and Denver. A big part of that is in our cellar.

A big part of our cellar is the incredible collection of Burgundy wines. Now, I do know more about wine than most, but there’s still an awful lot I don’t know. A lot of that is related to my income and how that relates to my wine budget. I can rarely afford a bottle of wine north of fifity dollars; and when I can I usually spend it on something else. Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of great wines in my wheelhouse. Unfortunately, in this shop, I’m trusted to know how good the expensive ones are. This wine is part of my education; I study the producers.

Caroline Morey is part of a family of great wine makers from Burgundy, all of whose wines generally retail at way beyond my price point. But, I can see just how good her ‘entry’ level wine is and can then imagine how wonderful her Grand Cru’s can be.

This wine, from a bargain appellation (not so lauded and therefore expensive), shows sweet cherry notes with hints of dried lavender and pipe tobacco, a great acid balance and a lightness of body and spirit that is all Pinot Noir. For $36.00 it’s a great bottle of wine and I know now that I can recommend any of her higher end, higher pedigree Pinots with confidence.