Esquin Wine Merchants has always been a supplier of great wine buys as well as the classics. When I started in 1969, we had Gigondas, Beaujolais, Zinfandel and more. Today, under the ownership of the LeFevre family, Esquin continues to make great wine deals. There is a large section in the store for special purchases that offer terrific value. In my last shipment from Esquin, I had Arnie Millan, the wine buyer, put together a selection of Best Buys for review in this blog.
2019 Board Track Racer "The Vincent" Rosé, Columbia Valley ($14.99) - BTR is a Mark Ryan brand. This Syrah-Merlot combination sports a light copper-pink color and aromas of strawberry, cherry, tangerine, pink roses, pink lavender and pink incense. The flavors are lightly extracted, with notes of grape skins, cherry stones and light minerals. The back picks up fraise and cerise liqueurs and recurring tangerine peel followed by a nicely fruited finish. 18+/20 points.
2019 Sleight of Hand Cellars "The Magician's Assistant" Cabernet Franc Rosé, Yakima Valley, Blackrock Vineyard ($17.99) - One of the best Cab Franc Rosés of the vintage, this is sold out at the winery, but Esquin still has it. Light copper colored, it possesses attractive aromas of raspberry, Rainier cherry, tangerine, pink roses, cherry blossoms, and pink incense. The flavors are fresh and lively, with grape skins, cherry stones and Yakima Valkley alluvial minerals. The back reveals framboise and kirsch liqueurs and recurring tangerine peel on the finely fruited finish. Very likable, 18.5+/20 points.
2018 Cadaretta "SBS" White Wine, Columbia Valley ($12.99) - Cadaretta has closed down and the properties sold. This was $23 last year, now almost half price. SBS stands for 66% Sauvignon Blanc and 34% Semillon. It shows a brilliant straw-gold color and expressive aromas of pear-apple, Crenshaw melon, citrus, apple blossoms, meadow flowers and lemongrass. The flavors are lively but well textured, with notes of pear skins and saline minerals. The back picks up poire and pêche liqueurs and a touches of beeswax and melon rind followed by a BDX-like dry finish. 18.5/20 points.
2018 Milbrandt Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($13.99) - This sells for $20 at the winery, but Esquin made a deal for $6 off. It offers a ruby color and rich aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, black roses, mulberry, tobacco, sage and incense. The flavors are generous and direct, yet substantial, with red fruits that are intermixed with red licorice, cola, medium roast coffee and earth. The back picks up pressed berries, roasted nuts, and toffee followed by a moderate tannin and acid finish. 18/20 points.
2016 Red I.Q. Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($12.99) - This was produced and bottled by the Pamplin Family Winery ibn Sherwood, Oregon. A blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot, it offers a ruby color and rich aromas of blackberry, cherry, plum, black roses, tobacco, cedar and incense. The flavors are ample yet focused, with dark fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cola, medium roast coffee and earth. The back picks up macerated fruits, roasted nuts and graphite, followed by a moderate tannin and acid finish. 18/20 points.
2018 Soléna "Grande Cuvée" Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley ($22.99) - This one of the best Oregon Pinots for Under $25 that I've run across. This shows a deep brick red color and rich, smoky aromas of raspberries, cherries, brambly currants, crushed roses, tobacco and incense. The flavors mirror the aromatics with medium bodied yet substantial red fruits that are intermixed with red licorice, cocoa, French roast and earth. The appeal continues on the back with macerated berries, roasted nuts, mocha, toffee and integrated moderate tannin on the solid finish. 18.5/20 points.
2018 Burlotto Verduno Pelaverga ($20.99) - This is a super "find." Verduno is a small town north of Barolo and Pelaverga is an ancient indigenous red grape. The color is medium garnet-rosé and the aromas are intriguing, redolent of red and orange fruits - raspberry, cherry, blood orange - with scents of semi dried rose petals, tobacco leaf and incense. The flavors, as well, are distinctive with light medium bodied yet mouth filing red fruits with notes of red licorice, cola, herbal tea and hillside minerals. The back picks up cherry liqueur, orange peel and a touch of amaro, followed by a ripe finish that is lifted by a bit of fruit acid. Goes nicely with chicken. 18.5/20 points.
N.V. Valdo Prosecco "Mara Oro" Brut ($13.99) - This a better Prosecco at the same price as popular brands such as La Marca. It offers a bright gold color, frothy bubbles and floral aromas of apple, peach, citrus, apple blossoms, acacia flowers and stone. The flavors are fresh and zesty, with touches of hazelnut and toast on the dry true Brut finish. 18/20 points.
2017 Crous St. Martin Gigondas, "Les Espalieres" ($24.99) - Most Gigondas runs from $30 to $40, so this is a super buy. Composed of 80% Greanace and 10% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre, it shows a ruby-crimson color and rich aromas of raspberry, blueberry, brambly currant, black roses lavender, olive and spiced incense. The flavors are generous yet focused, with red fruits that are imbued with licorice, cola, black tea and Montmirial minerals. The back picks up framboise and cassis liqueurs and charcoal, followed by a savory moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2016 Tridente Tempranillo, Castilla y Leon ($17.99) - This Spanish red displays an inky purple-ruby color and rich, smoky aromas of black fruits, black roses, Spanish lavender and incense. The flavors are thick and bold, with loads of dark fruits that are infused with licorice, dark cocoa, chicory coffee and Zamora Valley sand and minerals. The saturation continues on the back with macerated berries, roasted nuts and mocha, followed by a warm sweet-dry tannin finish. Packs a lot of flavor for the modest price. 18.5/20 points.