Tasting the Wines of Wine Insiders, 2020 Releases
Wine Insiders is a retail website “dedicated to helping wine connoisseurs find the best wine for them.” The focus, as with many retailers along these lines, is on value, with bottles starting as low as $10 a pop. There’s also a subscription service — the Wine Insider Club — which gives you 12 bottles every 12 weeks for $89, with free shipping. Not a bad deal… if the wines are any good, right?
We tasted a selection of 6 current releases available on Wine Insiders to find out. Note however that most of these wines are not available elsewhere, so read into that what you will. Wines are ordered here from best to worst.
2018 Snap Dragon California Riesling – Semi-sweet and quite approachable, this riesling won’t transform your world view, but it will make a Sunday afternoon a bit more pleasant. Notes of honey, some baking spice, and a spritz of tangerine give this fairly low-alcohol offering an overall fruity construction, and it clings to enough acidity to stay out of cloying territory. Nice value. B+ / $13
2018 George Phillips Red Wine Blend No. 007 – This Napa-based blend is heavy on the cabernet, but it never hits the palate as overwhelmingly unctuous, offering a more restrained note of plum and blackcurrant, tempered with tea leaf and a hint of licorice. The finish however is quite a bit sweeter than expected — perhaps doctored with a touch of sugar — which helps to give it a lip-smacking quality that feels at odds with what’s come before. B / $17
NV Villa Rosa Vinho Branco Portugal – A blend of 60% Maria-Gomes, 20% Bical, and 20% Arinto this mix of indigenous Portuguese varietals, the wine has an immediately curious composition that speaks to lemongrass, sesame oil, and almond nougat. The fruitier elements of lemon and pear come along a bit later, with a sprinkle of savory spices. A very curious experience. B / $13
2018 Chateau du Colombier Bordeaux – Budget Bordeaux is decidedly hit and miss, but this dry, restrained bottling offers at least a hint of Bordeaux’s greatest hits. Notes of tar, leather, and licorice lead the way to some brambly blackberry notes, touched a bit with chocolate on the finish. It’s a simple (and affordable) wine, and one that represents at least the basics of Bordeaux, if not exactly the soul. B / $18
2019 L’arca Chardonnay Terre Siciliane IGT – An unusual expression of chardonnay, earthy and a bit mushroomy, with notes of lime leaf, guava, and gooseberry evident. Some coconut husk notes emerge as the palate develops — and time in glass is a great friend to this wine, letting the finish find some much-needed acidity and vibrancy. B / $18
2017 Flor de Sara Rioja Crianza – Another atypical wine, this Rioja hits the palate with an ultra-jammy profile that speaks to blueberries and strawberries, all run through a cotton candy filter. Doughy, with some brambly licorice notes on the finish, the whole affair comes across with overtones of stewed prunes. Definitely not in my wheelhouse. C- / $24