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Wine Review: Good wine flows like a melody

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I often compare walking down an aisle of wines with the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky traversing down a corridor with his friend Viktor Hartmann’s painting on the wall, each one suggesting a different melody to him.

Mussorgsky presented his emotions musically in his famous “Pictures at an Exhibition.” With wine, each variety has its own individual and specific characteristics that set it apart from the rest of the wines on the shelf. It is these differences that are responsible for creating personal favorites.
Guardian Peak 2017 Shiraz ($12)
Shiraz is another name for syrah usually used by Australian and South African winemakers. Shiraz is gaining in popularity as the “go with everything" wine because of its ability to accompany a broad spectrum of foods. It’s rapidly capturing the hearts and palates of the American wine drinking public. The Guardian Peak 2017 Shiraz has an appealing, summer fruit aroma of mulberry, black currants and hints of mocha, leading into the generous flavors of plum, black cherry, blackberries and spice. The finish is complex and velvety. The first sip of this shiraz will show you why it is becoming so popular and may even give you a new favorite red wine.
Smoking Loon Viognier ($12)
If you are into white wines, viognier may help you escape from the usual. Smoking Loon Viognier is a golden-colored wine with an intensely floral aroma, accented by apricots and pears. The flavor of this medium-bodied wine is a never-ending display of flowers and fruit, which carry over to the finish where it lingers in the mouth for a long time. As with all of the Smoking Loon wines, it is well made and worth more than its affordable price indicates.
Steele 2016 Pinot Blanc ($20)
Historically, the pinot blanc has been an also-ran to the lofty chardonnay, a fate that it truly does not deserve. This is a wine with a rich apple, peach and melon aroma that is well laced with oak. These aromas carry over to the flavor where they mingle with vanilla and a hint of citrus followed by a crisp acidic bite. This enhances and amplifies its flavors and the flavors of foods it is served with. Because of its structure, this wine can accompany a broad spectrum of foods.
Dry Creek Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Franc ($40)
Cabernet franc is a red wine grape that is not often presented as a single variety. This cabernet franc proves that it too can be a winner. A deep garnet color introduces a wine of amazing depth, flavor, warmth and finesse. It opens with a pronounced pomegranate and licorice aroma with raspberries, summer red berries and black pepper following close behind along with notes of coffee and cocoa. The flavor presents a pleasant earthy mineral component and a background of hickory followed by an under-flavor of nutmeg. This is a wine that is ready to enjoy right now and needs no further aging.
Writer’s Block 2016 Roussanne ($18)
Roussanne, where have you been all of my life? It has been a long time since I last sampled a roussanne wine, and that wine was French and rather undistinguished, This beverage is a profound journey into what a fine white wine should be. The color is an attractive light golden, which is the least impressive feature of this wine. From there it goes straight to superlatives. The aroma is big, open and obvious in displaying pineapple, bosc pear and Fuji apple. Tropical fruits dominate the flavor and continue on to an incredibly long and super fruity finish. If you have been a little timid about ordering a wine from the internet, the Writer’s Block Roussanne will cure you of that. 

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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