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Château Leydet-Valentin, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru (Bordeaux, France) 2016 ($47, Lanterna Distributors)
 Grand Cru Saint-Émilion for under $50 is quite the steal, especially at this caliber.  The 2016 Leydet Valentin is a blend of 81% Merlot and 19% Cabernet Franc.  It unleashes lush cherry, framboise, and blue fruit, followed by another wave of cardamom, fragrant earth, and graphite.  The palate is framed by soft, fine-grained tannins that allow each layer to glide into a savory dark-berried finish.        
92 Miranda Franco


Posted by Marguerite Thomas on June 22, 2022 at 1:31 PM

“Small Cans. Big Flavors”

Until recently, canned wine was a category not really meant to be taken seriously by true wine lovers.  The rash of “girlie names” may have been symptomatic of the alleged frivolity of the wines: Dear Mom Wine, She Can, Kung Fu Girl, Babe.  While names like these may strike some people as playful and/or cute, I doubt they’ll entice even a semi-serious wine consumer into popping the tab on a can of wine.  I urge you however, not to give up on this category, for canned wine appears to be advancing into a new sphere of seriousness as more producers acquire their own vineyards and make more important wines.
I thought about all this recently when I tasted two excellent new canned wines—a sparkling rosé and a Malbec, produced by Le Petit Verre, an estate in Mendoza, Argentina.  French for “The Small Glass,” Le Petit Verre’s rallying cry is “Small Can.  Big Flavor.”  
Until now, sparkling wines seem to have dominated the canned category, with steadily improved selections recently being turned out.  Le Petit Verre’s Bubbly Rosé is a good example of a balanced and dry sparkler, rather than monochromatic and sweet fizz.  If Le Petit Verre’s Malbec is any indication of what today’s improved canned wine can achieve, I say bring on more reds!
In addition to increasingly appealing flavors, there are other reasons to like canned wine, including practicality and environmental concerns.  Cans are more sustainable than glass, they cost less than glass to produce and to recycle, and they are easier to store.  Furthermore, since a canned wine weighs less than a bottle, it is more affordably transportable.  Cans are less apt to break than glass, and are more appropriate for informal activities such as hiking and picnicking.  Here’s a specific example:
Domaine Bousquet, Le Petit Verre, Bubbly Rosé 2021
Mendoza, Argentina, Imported by Origins Organic
Fruit from the Uco and Tupungato Valleys
12% alcohol
$13 for a four-pack box, or $3.50 per individual per 250-ml can
The vintage is not labelled on the cans, but the wine is produced from the 2021 harvest
This wine is a good example of evolution of the best canned wines.  Had I not opened the can and poured the bubbly into a glass myself, I don’t think I would have guessed it had arrived in a can.  It is aromatic, fresh, and flavorful, dry rather than overtly sweet, and offers just the right intensity of small bubbles.  It is made from a blend of certified organic fruit including 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Syrah, 10% Pinot Gris, and 10% Viognier.  All the grapes were hand harvested.  Like many wines from the Tupungato region, the fruit flavors seem especially fresh, apparently due to significant day/night temperature fluctuations and perhaps also because of the particular brightness of the sun over the Andes.  

Domaine Bousquet, Le Petit Verre, Malbec 2021
Mendoza, Argentina
Imported by Origins Organic
$13 for a four-pack box or $3.50 per individual 250-ml can
The vintage is not labelled on the cans but the wine is produced from the 2021 harvest
The grapes were grown in Mendoza’s Upper Uco Valley at an altitude of 400 feet.
As was true of the sparkling wine, nothing about this Malbec’s aromas, flavors or texture would suggest that it had come in a can.  Accented by fresh berry aromas and flavors, the Malbec was further enhanced by pleasing earthy notes and nicely balanced light tannins.  Somewhat leaner than an average Cabernet, it will therefore a good partner for lamb, pork, burgers, or hearty grain-based dishes.  

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
Platinum Award Winning Wines: Critics Challenge International Wine Competition
Michael Franz

June 28, 2022: Over this past weekend, judges gathered in San Diego for the 19th edition of Critics Challenge, which was established by Robert Whitley in a series of initiatives that included the 2005 launch of Wine Review Online. Both ventures are still running strong, as the reviews of top award winners from the Challenge here will indicate, and as will become evident from a redesign of WRO that will debut in the near future. The wines reviewed here were the cream of a crop of more than 1,000 entries, all of which were tasted blind before being deemed Platinum Award winners.
A Different View of Carbonation: Carbonate Rocks in the Wine World
Wayne Belding

June 30, 2022: Limestone soils get a great deal of adulation from students of wine. Many of the great winegrowing areas of France are underlain by limestone terroir. Chablis, the Côte d'Or, Pouilly-Fuissé in the Mâconnais, much of St.-Émilion, Champagne, Sancerre in the Loire Valley, and many of the Grands Crus of Alsace all have limestone as a base for their soils. While it is tempting to presume that limestone, by definition, makes the best vineyard soils, does it yield magnificent wines wherever it is found? Let's investigate the particulars of this widespread rock type.
Wine With
Wine With... Indian Inspired Spicy Lamb Chops

Apr. 30, 2022: I love lamb chops for many reasons. They cook quickly and simply. They can easily be dressed up or down with everything from a minty pesto to a serving of kimchee. They partner beautifully with a variety of red wines. And when flavorful lamb chops are paired with the right wine, the wine becomes itself more delicious. There are a couple of different types of lamb chops to choose from. Quick cooking loin chops, which usually weigh 3 to 4 ounces each, have a narrow bone that runs up the middle of the chop. Smaller rib chops, which are cut from the rack of lamb, may be single or double cut. I am partial to these small chops myself because they have more fat than other cuts rib chops and are therefore the most tender and tasty of all the cuts. For very small chops, use two (or more) of them for each serving.
On My Table
Seamless Syrah
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

June 9, 2022: We each have our favorite wine descriptors that suggest special characteristics of fine wine that we encounter only rarely. 'Seamless' is one of those words for me. It suggests a wine that expresses itself as a whole, with no edges, no seams; complete unto itself. When I tasted this Syrah, 'seamless' was the first descriptive that popped into my mind. 'Round' and 'harmonious,' followed close behind. I was not familiar with Mira winery, and so some research was in order. The winery is a small estate of 16 acres in the heart of Napa Valley. The partners are winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez and entrepreneur Jim 'Bear' Dyke, who happened to meet in 2005 in Washington DC. They struck up a friendship based on a common love of wine and, improbably, mathematics. Their joint wine venture began in 2009. Gustavo Gonzalez was the red wine maker at Robert Mondavi Winery and besides global winemaking experience, he boasts a 25-year deep, local knowledge of Napa terroir, having worked across every AVA in the Napa Valley. At Mira, his aim is to farm sustainably, use 100% Napa Valley fruit, and make the wines in the gentlest, most natural way possible, to set each wine on its path of terroir expression.