CLEVELAND, Ohio — This month’s wine review covers wines from four countries, including a trio of sweet wines. We tasted several blends and grape varieties. Note: our monthly reviews focus on wines under $25. All should be available on local store shelves. We list the flavors we detected and offer our favorites at the end.
Rose of Raeburn
Raeburn Winery, California, Rose Red Blend, 2020, $19.99
This much-loved wine, from California’s Russian River Valley, has hints of Jolly Rancher Strawberry. Silver in color, very light but a nice acidity on the finish which helps it with food. Says a tasting buddy, “I’d prefer it in the summer.” It is 74% Pinot Noir, 22% Zinfandel and 4% Grenache. Note: This wine is a little limited so be on the lookout for other vintages.
Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon
Hess Select, Napa Valley, Calif.; Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018, $20
Light cranberry with limited tannins emerging on the finish. The gooseberry stands out in aroma and taste. Tastes like a Merlot. This wine won’t be mistaken for a huge, expensive California cab, but it’s a decent sip. Safe drink by the glass in a restaurant, says a tasting buddy.
Veramonte, Colchagua Valley, Chile; Cabernet Sauvignon, 2019, $11.99
Creaminess on the attack with pleasant notes of green and black pepper and a little blueberry. Dry on the finish. A bargain for the money. Smoky, flavorful and lean; we would not have guessed a taxi. More of a Spanish red. Made with organic grapes and aged in neutral oak barrels. Neutral implies that several vintages have been used and that the oak imparted to the wine will be quite subtle, as is the case here.
Duca di Salaparuta, Italy, Frappato, 2020, $10.99
This Sicilian wine has flavors of maraschino cherry, fresh fruit and cherry licorice, with a hint of mint and a hint of cherry. Versatile table wine to accompany charcuterie, red pepper dishes, braised meats. Frappato makes a medium bodied dry red wine meant to be drunk quickly. The wine brand has been around since 1824. One of the best Sicilian wines we have tried, excellent value for money.
Clean Slate Wines, Moselle, Germany; Riesling, 2019, $12
A bit of gasoline with a bit of lemon and lime mixed with minerality and a touch of sweetness. Popular restaurant drink. Not a howling dry Riesling. Enough acid to keep it friendly, but not too much: a drinker who doesn’t like Riesling can still enjoy it. Very drinkable, from an old growing region in Germany. We rarely call Riesling a crowd pleaser, but this one is. Note: This resulted in a lovely balanced Riesling.
Mettler Family Vineyards, CA, Red Blend, NV, $19.99
This proprietary red blend gives black licorice on the nose with blueberry on the palate and a savory quality that pairs well with Ina Garten Beef Stew. “It’s a good wine for $20,” said a tasting buddy.
Cavit Collection, Italy, Pink, 2020, $9.99
This salmon-colored blend of Trentino grapes offers flavors of fresh and candied cherries. Common party wine for the price, and a surprisingly good value. The fruit is there, a slight acid finish and no unpleasant flavor.
Nik Weis St. Urbans-HOF, Moselle, Germany; Riesling, 2018, $19.99
A bit of gasoline on the nose has gone away with time in this semi-dry wine. Fresh lemon stands out in the mouth with a hint of peach. A little spicy on the finish. Goed well with the turkey and gravy. This is a very classic German-made Riesling in an elegant bottle for the varietal. “Kabinett” on a German label refers to a classification of dry to semi-dry wines. Wiltinger is the winery’s vineyard from which the grapes were produced.
Josh Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Josh Cellars, California, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2019, $21.99
Solid, stable, reliable – nothing crazy about this wine that everyone likes. The blackberry crosses the palate, and the tannins are there. A bit savory, with crowd-pleasing fruit.
Wines of the weekend
We are making a foray into sweet wines this month. Each one, from Round Barn Winery in Buchanan, Michigan, weighs in at 100 calories and 6% alcohol. They cost $12.99, or $33.99 for all three. Sweet wines tend not to be as complex as dry wines, but if that’s your cup of sugar, enjoy. The silver lining here is this: these wines – all screw caps – didn’t lose any of their fruit more than two weeks after opening. Keep in mind: They are very soft.
White: It smells of soap. A tasting buddy said it wasn’t offensive. Another says this wine screams, “All fun.” Extremely light. Has strong fruit cocktail flavors. Not terrible.
Pink: Some notes of cotton candy and strawberry Twizzler. Again – extraordinarily light, but not as much flavor as the white offering. Nothing offensive.
Red: This one misses the mark. A taster friend described it as tasting like “diluted Robitussin”.
Another: “Ew, ew, ew, ew.” And another: “I knew I was dead and gone to hell if someone handed me a bottle of this and said, ‘You have to drink this.’ But another more open-minded pal said, ‘Probably someone in the world who will drink that.’
Favorites: We will give the nod to Calanica Frappato and Copacetic.
Filmed wine: The 2012 documentary “Somm” takes viewers through the process of being an aspiring sommelier. It is available for rental or purchase online.
Do you like wine? Options vary for purchasing wine. Online retailers provide the ability to choose what you want, manage cases, and find discounts.
Here is a selection to consider:
brightcellars.com: The monthly club offers you wines after taking a “palate quiz”.
Cellierwineclub.com: Allows you to choose the number of bottles you want.
exoticwine.club.com: offers subscription wine boxes from wineries located in less accessible markets.
splashwines.com: choose a curated case or create your own.
winc.com: Four wines tailored to your tastes are shipped monthly. Has a review component.
wine.com: Large online sellers often offer discounts to new customers.
wineawesomeness.com: Organized shipments of three and six bottles.
wineenthusiast.com: Complete site for accessories – shelves, glasses, openers, storage, gifts.
wineonsale.com: Allows you to select by grape variety or by region.
zachys.com: Includes a variety of ways to search/buy, as well as auction information.
I am on cleveland.comfrom the Life and Culture team and covers topics related to food, beer, wine and sport. If you want to see my stories, here is a directory on cleveland.com. On Air: WTAM-1100’s Bill Wills and I talk food and drink usually at 8:20 a.m. Thursday mornings. Twitter: @mbona30.
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