Value found in Fetzer wine blends

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At the end of last week’s column, I left you with a stick-around note about some new Fetzer blends that have hit town. Here are some tasting notes on the blends, in both official colours.

Fetzer Crimson California Red Blend 2010 ($16.99)
This nice little blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah is well made: round and with—to quote the winemaker, Dennis Martin, who gets his name right on the front label—“pronounced oak profile with toasty aromatic components”. It’s an all-around delicious everyday wine and good value for the price.

Fetzer Quartz California White Blend 2012 (Winemaker’s Favourite Blend) ($16.99)
This and the above wine are newly configured with Stelvin closures (screw caps)—hurray! The alcohol here is a little less than with the red (12 percent, as opposed to 13.5 percent), as is only fitting for a gulping white. All kinds of luscious apple flavours strike the front of the palate on first sip, then a gentle and slightly sweet texture develops. I’m drinking this one well iced to really enjoy the “floral, spicy and full-bodied” finish (Mr. Martin again, on the back label) this blend of Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Grigio displays. A real and hearty gulper, for big thirsts, and also great everyday white wine value.

Now for two new Italian table wines, in screw cap: the red opens easier than the white, which wants a pair of pliers to get at the juice inside, and good juice it is! They’re both priced at $11.99, but neither is available in the B.C. LDB stores. Take heart—you can order a case at your neighbourhood store if you quote the CSPC number. According to a guy at my nearby store, a lot of people are doing just that with these wines. No wonder when you taste them. Some private stores and restaurants have both of these; if you don’t see them on the list, ask for them by name—Tollo.

Cantina Tollo Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2012
(CSPC 652263)
Hearty and spicy, with lots of lively cherry flavours, this is the best buy for your turkey dinner when the whole extended family is visiting. The white too.

Cantina Tollo Terre di Siciliane 2012 (CSPC 623801)
Fresh and clean and hearty, fruity and very full, a delicious all-day, any day, any meal wine. Someone I know had a case brought in after having a single sip at my house! I think once you try it, you’ll never let it go.

Despite the recent spate of cold and foggy days, I refuse to say goodbye to summer, so here are a couple of outstanding whites from Gray Monk.

Gray Monk Pinot Auxerrois 2011 ($16.99)
Known as Auxerrois Blanc in Alsace, where it’s used to blend the native table wine Edelzwicker. This one is the crowning achievement of this grape variety: whereas in Alsace it’s often bland, this B.C. version is fruity and super-full, bursting with gently spicy, apple-y touches and hints of iced cucumber and fresh green grapes, the kind that explode with nicely sour flavours in your mouth. One of the many surprises from the Gray Monk portfolio. You can say it either way: Oh-xer-wah or Ohzerr-wha, depending on which part of France you hang out in.

Gray Monk Riesling 2011 ($14.99)
Classic German-style Riesling, beautifully balanced with fruit, some sweetness and superb acidity. A truly beautiful Riesling, unmatched by most others. Time to rediscover an old standby.

Selbach Fish Riesling 2012 ($16.95)
Here’s another new vintage Riesling for comparison, from the original home of Riesling—Germany. Fresh, superbly acidic, dryish, fruity, and luscious; nothing sweet about it; terrific. Many years ago at a wine event in Victoria, I asked a visiting winery owner if he thought Germany would ever consider bottling its wines with a screw cap. He fixed me with a steely stare over his iron-grey mustache and bellowed, “Never!” I wonder where he is now. Evaporated from the face of the earth like most dinosaurs, I imagine.

Nk’Mip Cellars Riesling 2012 ($17.99)
One more Riesling from the Valley, for contrast. This one has lots of pear and honeydew melon, even a touch of orange on the palate, opening up into a surprising citrus finish. You can find it at the winery shop in the Okanagan and select LDB stores.

Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Riesling Icewine 2012
($60 for a 375-millilitre bottle in a handsome gift box)
If you’re splurging or shopping for a special gift, here it is. Mouthwatering and powerful, sweet as homemade sin, as Mose Allison used to say in a song. Rich and harmonious; a very special treat for those who love what Canada does best in terms of wine.

To conclude, a couple of winning reds available from the Marquis Wine Club, which is presented by the Georgia Straight. (See my previous Uncorked column for all the details, or go to www.marquiswineclub.com/).

Mate Mantus Merlot ($23.99)
Deep and rich and intense; a real treat for Merlot fanciers who’ve had it with wimpy ones.

Cantele Teresamanara Negroamaro ($23.99)
An unfamiliar (to many British Columbians), rich red from Italy, hearty for all Italian foods, especially richly sauced pasta, game, and even pizza.

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Spooky Tooth Wino
I just want a decent $2 paper bag covered bottle of wine that I can guzzle, and then pass out drunk somewhere. Preferably it has a screw top because I can't afford a decent corkscrew.
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