This week we've got two $8 wonders, some surprising let downs, one surprising bargain (surprising because WA gave it 90 points and it's actually quite pleasant), and a couple of off-the-beaten-path finds.
2012 Bogle Phantom $20
A perennial favorite for its grip and vigor, this year's release has so much heat as to be distracting. It's also lacking those trademark Phantom characteristics that this bottling is so loved for. Attention-commanding, for sure, but a let down.
2012 Penfolds Shiraz-Cabernet South Australia Bin 8 $20
Blunt force trauma to the roof of your mouth with a hardened steel bar. Obtuse and stoic. Really tough to find the fruit here. Even harder to warm up to.
2013 Esporao 'Pe Tinto' Red Portugal $8
Fresh, clean, and eminently quaffable, this country red is enjoyable for its simplicity and honesty. Not trying to be anything it's not and a nice price, too.
2013 Mariscal Garnacha Valencia (Spain) 'El Miracle' $8
Old world, medium-bodied grenache. Both fruit and rusticity here thanks to the absence of what has become the typical Spanish over-oaking.
2013 SLO Down Wines Chardonnay California 'Broken Dreams' $17
Unlike 99% of California chardonnays out there, this one did not go through malolactic fermentation or see any oak. Rather than translating to a reserved, modest wine, the result is an extroverted, plump mouthful of unadulterated chardonnay fruit with a luxurious texture.
2009 La Tanuta Brunello di Montalcino $40
Every now and again you've got to splurge. This bottle turned heads more for its refinement than any truly exciting attributes. Next time I'll reach for Barolo.