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The Weekly Dozen - Drinks of Character

This week we have some interesting wines and an Irish whiskey of character – that hard-to-define quality that perhaps can best be described as “solid,” “basic,” “dependable.” And we have them at various price levels, ranging from basic Sauvignon Blanc and Blaufrankisch to moderately priced Barolos and an immoderately priced Irish whiskey.

Are you ready?

2017 St. Francis Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc ($14). A definite buy at this price – very juicy with lots of muted lime, a little fizz and medium body, more in the Bordeaux style.

2018 Alois Lageder Alto Adige Chardonnay ($15). Chardonnay seldom shows up in this northern Italian region which produces so many other brilliant whites, but this one is nevertheless also a bargain with good balance, bright-apple fruitiness and a little spritz.

2016 Eberle Paso Robles Muscat Canelli ($20). Basic fruity and floral sweet wine with flavors and aromas of pear and honeysuckle.

2017 Gary Farrell “Russian River Selection” Chardonnay ($35). Nice, juicy, refreshing, but also with a lot of character with mature apple flavors, vanilla notes and an almost citrusy finish.

2016 Yalumba “Y Series” South Australia Shiraz-Viognier ($14). Adding a dollop of the white Viognier to red Shiraz or Syrah is a long tradition, and here it produces very smooth but bright red fruit anchored in a savory base that echoes Shiraz’s earthier side.

2018 Susana Balbo “Crios” Valle de Uco Cabernet Sauvignon ($15). I realize this is a value wine, but there may be a reason we don’t see many Cabs from Argentina. This one is very fruit forward with more Merlot-ish characteristics than Cab Sauv ones – a little murky and mulled in tone.

2016 J. Heinrich Burgenland Blaufrankisch ($24). This enjoyable Austrian carafe wine with more character than breeding has tart cherry flavors and ending savory notes.

2015 Selvapiana “Bucerchiale” Chianti Rufina ($36). Quite good and quite classic – lightish body but with crisp spicy fruit and finishing leathery notes.

2015 Mayacamas Mount Veeder Merlot ($60). Bright red fruit with a raspy finish and a hint of chalkiness.

2015 Pio Cesare Barolo ($73). Just lovely – more open and “softer” than the Ornato (following note), the cherry fruit is well-balanced with savory/stems notes.

2015 Pio Cesare “Ornato” Barolo ($132). An excellent wine that opens with tight, tangy, almost zingy flavors in the finish. Assertive but not aggressive, with dark cherry flavors and a beautiful finish. It will open up a touch by the time you get to the bottom of the bottle.

Egan’s “Legacy Reserve Vol. II” 16 Year Old Irish Single Malt (about $200). At 46%. Finished in Banyuls casks and limited to 1,000 bottles, the reserve is a mild and smooth with pronounced dry grain and caramel flavors. The sweet Banyuls contribution is emphasized in the beautiful, long finish.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from

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