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Top Ten Red Wines from the 2015 Savor CT Event

IMG_1139As usual we’re going to do a Top Ten Red Wine list, this time from the recent Savor CT event.  In itself that is not unusual.  What is going to be unusual is the vastly disproportionate amount of the list that is taken by wines from Italy.  They dominated this event, at least as far as the top tier in quality.  It wasn’t even close.  In fact, our very first stop was a breathtaking array of wines from Tenuta Santa Maria, where we ran through six outstanding wines and couldn’t believe the across the board level of quality.  It just continued from there.

Now of course there were others, and we’ll include a Value List after the top ten to highlight many very good wines we ran into at very attractive price points.  As always this is just our opinion, and we are guaranteed to have missed a few.  The wines in the Top Ten are there based on flat out quality.  They were just too good not to include, and in most cases were not crazy expensive.  Nothing here breaks the century mark, although two excellent wines that did would otherwise have been included.  They were both cabs and sold for $150 and $105.  The $105 version is not really for general sale, but we’ll talk about that later.  To the list!

IMG_1181

Great Cabernet Franc

1. 2008 Poggio al Tesoro Dedicato a Walter Cabernet Franc – this was an absolutely stunning Cabernet Franc, made from the best of the best the vineyard has to offer.  It is dark, full bodied and rich on the palate.  Dark fruits and herbal notes preside.  The finish is very long.  This is great, 100% Cabernet Franc, something that is hard to find.  Retails about $90.

2. 2008 Tenuta Santa Maria Amarone – classic high end Amarone, where the fruits are not over the top ripe and the raisiny tendencies don’t overpower.  Deep, deep red in color it presents rich fruit, full body and a finish that won’t quit.  Incredibly pure.  Fantastic wine.  Retails around $90.

IMG_11413. 2008 Tenuta Santa Maria Decima Aurea Merlot – they take part of the grapes and they go through a 30 day appassimento treatment, drying out and concentrating the sugars and flavors.  The rest hangs on the vine until over ripe.  Fermented and mixed they create a great wine which drinks like a right bank Bordeaux from a great vintage.  This is another outstanding wine.  Retails about $45.  No brainer, definite Value List material at that price.  Stunning.

4. 2009 Allegrini Amarone – back to Allegrini we go for this fabulous Amarone.  The description is much like in #2 above, the fruit is pure and the flavors delineated and clean.  It goes on and on.  We could find no flaw in this wine.  Retails about $70

The difference between the top four is miniscule, and they are all outstanding wines.  We could have jumbled it another way and justified it easily.  But they were the top four.  From here it takes a tiny step down in quality, but just a tiny step.  Note we have not left the Italian peninsula yet.  It’s probably about time.

5. 2012 Alexana Pinot Noir – from the Revanna vineyard in the Willamette Valley this was a vibrant, rich and delicious Pinot.  IMG_1147Cherry flavors came through, and there was a perfectly balanced ridge of acid running through it.  The finish was very long, and clean.  Overall an outstanding example of Oregon Pinot Noir and just a classy wine.  Retails around $47

And back to Italy we go………

6. 2011 Re di Renieri – time for a Super Tuscan.  This is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot.  This is deep red in color, with berries and some herbal notes.  A very long finish completes the experience.  Retail about $37

7. 2011 Poggio al Tesoro Sondraia – another blend here, made with 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.  This Bolgheri blend is deep red, with a big nose of fruit, oak and leather nuances.  Rich and full bodied, it would stand against Bolgheri Super Tuscan wines that go for 3-4 times the price.  It’s really good, and also Value List material.  Retail at $45

8. 2011 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf du Pape – a classic CDP blend of 48% Grenache, 29% Syrah, 22% Mourvedre and 1% Cinsault, the wine is dark red with red and black fruits on the nose.  Smooth on the palate there are earthy and savory tones.  The finish is very long.  About $45

9. 2009 Donnachiara Taurasi – this is made from the Aglianico grape, and presents beautiful red and black fruit.  There is a bright acid IMG_1157component which keeps it fresh and balanced.  Very clean and long.  Retail about $30

We always avoid contention at this point and don’t make the hard decision on the final wine, and to keep tradition we’ll do it again.  So….

10A. 2011 Charles Krug Merlot – this is full bodied, almost.  Deep fruit flavors abound.  The tannins build slowly.  It’s the kind of wine where you swallow it and think about how surprisingly good it really is.  $24

10B. 2008 Faustino V Rioja – this is 100% Tempranillo and is pretty classic Rioja.  Being pretty classic Rioja is a very good thing. IMG_1178 The wine is elegant with firm tannins hidden behind the fruit.  The traditional leathery notes are emerging.  Earthy ones are there as well.  Quite outstanding and a great value at a retail of about $23.  Value List here.

So there you have ten outstanding wines.  The top of the list is really pretty special, although also pretty pricey.  They are great though.  There were of course, many other worthy wines and many great value wines, so here’s a list of some others we thought were notable.

– 2012 Hansen Grunner Pinot Noir – $20 and a great value.  Sonoma Coast, excellent Pinot drinking above price point.

– 2011 Allegrini La Griola – $30. Corvina, Syrah and Oseleta.  Savory, rich and long.IMG_1180

– 2011 Renieri Invetro IGT – Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot.  Great fruit here.  $15

IMG_1221– 2013 J. Lohr Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir – pretty delicious stuff, partly Santa Lucia fruit and only  $17

– 2012 J. Lohr Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot – very good with building tannins.  Cheap at $14

– 2012 Los Vacos Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – a little on the lighter side, but very good with bright fruit and nice acid balance.  $17

– 2011 Domaine Santa Duc Les Quarte Termes Cotes du Rhone – traditional Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre blend with a splash of Cinsault.  Red and black fruits and spice with good length.  $20

– 2013 Altos del Plata Cabernet Sauvignon – deep red with currants and spice.  Some oak as well.  Long finish and only $10

– 2012 Trumpeter Cabernet Sauvignon – 100% Cabernet from Mendoza.  Medium+ body and currants and spice.  Very good at $11

This last group are all very solid choices in their price ranges, and impressed us.  You can’t go wrong with any of them.

So what did we learn?  Well, there are a few things.  One: Italy is king of the first Savor CT event.  Hands down.  Two: the 2011 Napa Cabernets are not showing well, but that really isn’t too surprising.  Three: There are a lot of good wines out there, but some of them cost a lot!

There are two more wines we should mention.  One is the 2012 Revana Cabernet Sauvignon, which reminded us of the Realm Cabernet we made number one from the 2013 Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival.  This wine was spectacular and pure Cabernet through and through.  It is also $150.  The other is the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from Trifecta, which is the only 2011 Napa Cab that was outstanding.  Unfortunately Trifecta is not available retail, as the entire proceeds from production go toward charity.  Too bad, as this juice was just delicious, and we had several glasses while strolling around the Saturday night gala.  Made from 80% St. Helena fruit and 20% Howell Mountain, it combines the power of the valley floor with the higher acid and freshness of the mountain sites.  We could have gotten a bottle or two, but it would have taken a $1000 bid for the case of American wine at the auction.

Take your pick, examine your budget and enjoy!

Whites to come.

A votre sante!

 

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