Recycle Bin, Week of Sept. 1

September?  Really?  What happened to the summer?   Wow.  Well, at least the weather still feels like summer, so we can still enjoy some tasty BBQ and porch-hanging wines, a few of which we've got for you this week.

But before we get to the wine reviews, for those of you who raised a brow at last week's unsympathetic piece on the earthquake in Napa, check out this article by Rom McMillan at Silicon Valley Bank on the importance of authenticity in the wake of a natural disaster.  Interesting reading.  It turns out I'm not alone in seeing opportunism and self-promotion in the industry.  But there's also an interesting statistic buried in the article - apparently I was wayyyy off in suggesting that it was mostly insured, undesirable product that had suffered damage.  It looks like only 6% of property owners had earthquake coverage.  It also looks like the average loss will end up being quite low.

On the the wine!  Pay close attention to the rosé and the Argentinian cab.  Yummers.

2012 Ravenswood Zinfandel Napa Valley Old Vines $14
It's been years since I've had a wine from this producer, mostly because when they went mainstream, all varietal characteristics bled out of their wines. Here, however, is a true Zin. It's full of black and white pepper spice, structure, and backbone. Not the jaw-dropper that some high end Zins can be (at triple the price), but a very respectable and enjoyable accompaniment to backyard barbecue fare.

2012 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir 'Whole Cluster' $20
I recently noticed that fruit flies were gathering around the decanter every time I opened a Pinot Noir. If that isn't indicative of a problem, I'm not sure what it is. As much as I love a full frontal wine, Pinot Noir from California has, as the critics say, become something else entirely. This had me reaching for something with a little less bombast and a little more acidic crunch. And I'm happy to report that this wine fills the bill quite nicely without being austere or over-the-top with astringency. I will reach for this again.

2012 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Napa Valley $14
Not the big, flashy, typical California Chardonnay you might expect. Medium bodied, rather than over extracted, and more pronounced acidity than can be accidental. Clearly, someone went to some trouble to make this a more food friendly Chardonnay than your typical fare. 

2013 Mirabeau Rosé Cotes de Provence $18 (Sample)
A perfect warm weather quaffer with the added bonus of real finesse. Mid weight wrapped in lacy acidity and refined dry fruit. A complete package wrapped quite nicely. Highly recommended. 

2013 Achaval Ferrer Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza $25 (Sample)
Lots of clean edges on this polished, mountain vineyard wine.  If a wine can be complimented by what it's missing, this one benefits from a lack of green vegetable bite and an absence of over-extracted fig.  What's left is honesty and quality - an appealing combo.