Aranjuez Tannat 2016
Tarija, Bolivia, $25
Tannat can range from bright, light and fruity to (more often) rough-and-tumble rustic. Aranjuez manages to add sophistication and panache. The vineyards are at an altitude of 2,000 meters, or about 6,600 feet, where intense sunshine combines with cool temperatures to ripen the fruit while preserving acidity and freshness. The wine spent six months in barrel. I enjoyed this red over two or three days, and it kept getting better. Aranjuez also makes a 2015 single vineyard tannat called Origen that will cost about twice as much when it arrives in the market this fall – it is worth it. A line called Duo, priced around $15, includes an excellent red blended of tannat and merlot and a zesty white of torrontes and Muscat of Alexandria. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.
1750 Tannat 2016
Samaipata, Bolivia, $25
This wine is not aged in oak so that it can express the land and the grape with minimal intervention. It’s edgy and energetic, with a hint of meat and leather, and should appeal to fans of natural wines. It skirts the conventions of what a tannat – or any red wine – should be, and tries to show us what wine can become if we don’t hold it back. There is also a syrah and a white wine based on torrontes. ABV: 14 percent.
Domaine des Baluettes Les Coteaux Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2016
Loire Valley, France, $12
Muscadet hails from the western end of the Loire Valley, near where the river reaches the sea. These wines tend to cry out for seafood, especially shellfish, because of their racy, minerally acidity. Recent vintages have been on the ripe side, yielding fuller, more mouthfilling wines. The Domaine des Baluettes Les Coteaux, made from organically grown grapes, should sing with oysters, a clam pizza or a shrimp pasta dish. ABV: 12 percent.
Chateau de la Chesnaie Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2017
Loire Valley, France, $13
Fresh and vibrant, this Muscadet is an ideal partner for a variety of fish dishes. It had me dreaming of crab cakes. ABV: 12 percent.
Les Fosses d’Hareng Vouvray 2016
Loire Valley, France, $12
Vouvray is the spiritual homeland of chenin blanc, though we don’t see very many in the United States. I suspect that’s because Vouvray can range from dry to sweet, and the labels don’t always tell us what to expect. This Vouvray is catnip for wine fiends, because it has the phrase “lieux-dits” on the label, referring to a “wine of place.” Whatever. It’s delicious and inexpensive, and it may make you wonder why more vintners don’t grow chenin blanc. ABV: 12.5 percent.
— Three stars exceptional, two stars excellent, one star very good. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.