Each week, I get emails regarding some wine-related topic or another. I thought I would take this opportunity to answer a few of the most common questions that readers ask.
Sam from Arlington asks one of the most popular questions I have received lately, namely, "Where do you find wines to review?"
Most of the wines I write about are sent to me as media samples from wineries. During the spring and fall, it is not unusual for me to receive three to four cases of samples per week. Each bottle is catalogued and then placed into a tasting queue, where it patiently waits its turn for analysis, like the 2011 Matanzas Creek Winery Sauvignon Blanc ($18) from Sonoma, Calif. From the extremely fragrant bouquet of citrus fruit and honeydew melon, to the crisp, refreshing flavors of grapefruit, peach and white nectarine, this sauvignon blanc brightens the palate with crisp acidity and near-perfect balance. QPR 9
I also rely on trade tastings, where journalists, wine shop owners and various wine professionals are often invited to check out wines for review or sale. I was recently at an event sponsored by a local charity where I had the pleasure of tasting the 2010 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir ($40), from the Willamette Valley of Oregon, with winemaker David Millman. This wine is definitely drinking well now, with flavors of cherry, strawberry and rhubarb on the front of the palate and a hint of cinnamon making a memorable appearance on the lengthy, very well-structured finish. QPR 8.5
Occasionally, I just happen to stumble on something delicious, like last week when I was walking through the lobby of my gym and noticed there was a wine tasting station set up in the lobby, promoting a local wine shop. The owner was pouring the 2011 Domaine de la Chanade "Les Rials" Loin de L'Oeil ($10), a gorgeous white wine from the Gaillec region of southwestern France that was made for summer sipping. The bouquet is bursting with scents of acacia and lemon/limeade. A touch of residual sugar plays out on the long, balanced finish where just a hint of sweet melon lingers. QPR 9.5
Bruce from Gaithersburg wants to know, "Where can I find some of the wines that you write about?"
That's a tough one. I really make an effort to make sure that each wine I review is available within our metropolitan area, but it is difficult because not all wine shops carry the same stock. Also complicating matters is that different counties have varying policies about wine procurement, which makes it difficult for wine shops with multiple locations to maintain consistent inventory. I can tell you that the 2010 Catena Malbec ($18) from Mendoza, Argentina, is delicious and easy to find. The flavors of juicy blackberry, dark plum and rich cassis are wrapped around a core of firm tannins and decent acidity. For added measure, the medium-bodied finish shows of a touch of cocoa. QPR 8
Kirsten from Manassas asked me the hardest question of all. She wanted to know, "What is your favorite wine?"
My favorite wine usually has more to do with who I am drinking it with more than the specific quality of the wine itself.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were hanging out on the back deck, cooking burgers with friends when one of our guests pulled out a well-chilled bottle of 2011 Domaine P?laqui? Ros? ($16) from the Tavel region of the southern Rhone Valley in France. It was just a fun, easy-drinking wine, with charming notes of strawberry and red raspberry flavors and slightly spicy/minerally finish. For some reason, between the great conversation, the summer fare and the warm evening, it just hit the spot. Because of that experience, I am now drinking more ros?s. QPR 9.5
Note: QPR is a rating system that compares the quality a wine delivers relative to the price. A QPR of 10 is considered an excellent value.