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For three-and-a-half years I have not written much about wines I didn’t care for after sampling or purchasing. I’ve read more and more where I’m not doing anyone in service in doing that. I’ve come to agree.

I have written about not liking a particular wine and why others might like it, and occasionally really went after a bad bottle. But it’s been very rare I write about wines in a negative tone. From now on, I think it’s necessary to do that when warranted. Sometimes it might be bottle shock, a wine going bad, or other outside factors. I’ll try to note that to the best of my ability. But sometimes the wine just doesn’t taste right, like the review you’ll read below.

Now, just because I don’t like a wine doesn’t mean you might not love it. On the other hand, occasionally I’ve tasted some stinkers I would tell readers/friends to stay away from.

With that aside, sometimes we all come across a wine that is just wonderful and beyond expectations. Sometimes we find a wine that keeps us trying new things and reminds us why we became wine enthusiasts in the first place. This first review is such a wine.

Awesome – Abadia Retuerta 2006 Seleccion Especial – I like this wine so much I don’t even know where to start. This wine (a 2005 actually) won the The International Wine Challenge Award for best red wine. This wine consistently gets 90-92 points from the major wine magazines.

Dark, rich fruit like cherries, plum, and flavors of licorice, spice, coffee, and vanilla sweep over the palate in a smooth and extremely well-balanced manner that few wines match. It has very concentrated fruit with unbelievable balance from sip to swallow.

The wine comes from what is known as Spain’s Golden Mile between Tudela de Duero and Penafiel. The Abadia Retuerta wine normally retails around $23-$24 but it can be found in the $17-$18 range. It’s a tremendous value at $24. If you find it, buy it.

Abadia Retuerta 2006 Seleccion Especial, $17-$20, Very Highly Recommended

Darn Good – Ancient Peaks 2009 Renegade This 2009 was an inaugural bottling for this wine. It’s a typically big Paso Robles combo of 46 percent Syrah, 31 percent Malbec, and 23 Petit Verdot. All of the fruit comes from Margarita Vineyard in the Central Coast appelation. This vineyard is at the foot of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, just 14 miles from the Pacific.

The wine gets 18 months in a combination of oak. It’s a big smooth wine. On the palate, I got smoky flavors like coffee, chocolate with big fruit. Not a fruit bomb as it opens up, the wine’s power dark juiciness is balanced by good acidity and well-balanced tannins. For a wine of this power and flavor, the alcohol comes in at a palatible 14.5 percent.

The winery released just over a 1,000 cases of this wine so you’re going to have to look to find it.

Wine geekiness aside, if you like big flavored red wine with good balance Ancient Peaks Renegade is a very, very good bad boy!

Ancient Peaks 2009 Renegade, SRP $23, Trade Sample, Highly Recommended

Stinker –  Alain Paret Cotes-Du-Rhone Valvigneyre 2009 White WineI was upset when I tasted this wine. It’s 100 percent Viognier, a floral grape that provides wonderful aromas and often a tad of sweetness on the palate.

First, I really like the whites of France and particularly from the Rhone Valley. The wines are usually blended but when I had a chance to pick this wine up for $10.99 from a distinguished producer I jumped on a couple of bottles.

I thought a lot about this wine. It was disorganized, a little two tart for a floral wine, and just not very pleasant. I had the wine stored for awhile so I don’t think it was bottle shock. It just was not very palatable. 

Alain Paret Cotes-Du-Rhone Valvignevre, $10.99, Not Recommended.

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com

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