Recycle Bin, Week of Feb. 3

This week we've got a mixed bag including a second chance for a Chardonnay, a couple of South American reds, and a pair of consistently $10 over-performers.

2012 Doña Paula Estate "Black Edition" Red Blend Mendoza $15 (Sample)
OK.  So this took a few hours decanted to change into something more comfortable, but once it did...HELLO.  This is a slickly packaged Red Wine - a moniker I've grown increasingly apprehensive of.  But this very well made blend is dry, pretty, and focused, and very much an honest Bordeaux blend (rather than the increasingly typical over-extracted jam jars that come labeled as "red wines".)  With air it unfolds luxuriously without losing its composure. I'm honestly surprised it's priced where it is.  This is the only sub-$20 South American wine I recall ever wanting to cellar.

2011 Concha y Toro Cabernet Marques de Casa Concha Puente Alto Chile $25
This is a lot to pay for a Chilean Cab, but the 93 point Spectator review of this wine hooked me with words like "...luscious aromas of cherry and blackberries...cedar and smoke...Tremendously concentrated...silky texture and a lingering finish."  When will I learn?  Though this is a well made wine indeed, I think the people at the Spectator got their notes mixed up with a different bottle.  I really wanted to report this wine as being a bargain at twice the price, but for my money, the Doña Paula is a better buy all day long. 

2012 Firestone Chardonnay Santa Ynez Valley $12
Last week we panned the 2011 vintage of this wine.  Low and behold the 2012 was on the shelf at the wine shop a few nights later. Was it just the vintage?  Alas, no.  It still disappoints. Better than the 2011 but this is still a far cry from what this brand used to be known for.  Flabby, loose and in possession of a gunk character that smacks of unveiled mass production an manipulation, even a slick new label can't mask what's wrong in the bottle.

2011 Falesco Vitiano Umbria $10
Equal parts Sangiovese, Cabernet, and Merlot, this Umbrian red is also equal parts gulpable and food-friendly. Medium-bodied and with gripping acidity, it remains nearly unfailing in its consistency and price. Bravo.

2012 McManis Petite Sirah California $10
Finally an inexpensive wine that doesn't elicit cringes. This over performer delivers plenty on the dollar. While gregarious, loosely-stitched, and benefiting from soft curves, it's still a Petite Sirah. The nose is compelling savory-over-black fruit intrigue. And the finish is relaxed bordering on lazy. Will definitely be picking this up again.