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Second Tuesday with Stephen Tanzer

Every year my colleague Josh Raynolds and I each taste upwards of 10,000 new wines,  covering three to five wine categories in great depth in each bimonthly issue of my independent publication, the International Wine Cellar.       
But we've never really had a way to publish notes on other intriguing single bottles that come our way on a regular basis... until now.

On the Second Tuesday of each month, exclusively on WineAccess, we'll provide wine lovers with a list of real wines that offer exceptional value, with full accompanying tasting notes.  By "real" I mean wines made in hands-on fashion by real winemakers, as opposed to strictly commercial, industrially-produced concoctions, which rarely display much individuality. Wines with truly distinctive character - real wines - are nearly always produced in limited quantities.

So in Second Tuesday, you'll find some of our favorite values from past, current and future issues of the IWC as well as captivating wines that fall outside the parameters of IWC coverage - particularly satisfying wines that offer uncommon personality for the price and that can actually be found in the marketplace. Enjoy!

Second Tuesday Selections:

December 2010

Region: France

(Old-vine grenache with some mourvedre and syrah): Good full medium ruby. Exotic, very ripe aromas of blackberry, black cherry, licorice, chocolate and smoke. Dense, concentrated and sweet, but with limestone lift giving clarity and energy to the creamy, concentrated black plum and chocolate flavors. Finishes ripe and long, with broad, palate-dusting tannins and sexy suggestions of wild herbs and spices. For all its chocolatey ripeness, this is by no means overly sweet. The Thibon family has been making wine in the southern Rhône since 1670.

91 points (ST)
Out of Stock

Region: France

Pale gold. Sexy aromas of orange blossom and ripe pear, lifted by a floral topnote. More tactile in the mouth than the nose suggests, but with strong minerality giving the wine a weightless quality and captivating inner-mouth perfume. Very concentrated, brisk and refreshing chardonnay: you won't find this style in California! The elegant finish features notes of menthol and crushed stone. There's no rush to drink this.

90 points (ST)
Average Price: $21.99

Region: New Zealand

Pale bright yellow. Lemon grass, grapefruit pith and pepper lifted by a floral topnote. Densely packed, concentrated and vibrant, with a classic positive sauvignon herbaceousness buffered by the wine's richness and dusty extract. There's a captivating hint of sweetness to the grapefruit and soft citrus fruit flavors. Finishes firm and persistent.

90 points (ST)
Out of Stock

Region: Argentina

Bright ruby-red. Perfumed aromas of blackberry and licorice lifted by violet. Suave, dry and lively in the mouth, with nicely delineated flavors of dark berries, licorice and chocolate. Builds nicely on the back half, finishing with serious broad tannins and noteworthy energy. Very sophisticated, varietally accurate Argentine malbec for the price.

89 points (ST)
Out of Stock

Region: Spain

(100% godello): Greenish gold. Spicy aromas of lime zest, green apple, white flowers and ginger. Dry, taut and sharply focused, offering lively citrus and fresh fig flavors underscored by dusty minerality. Sappier and deeper on the finish, which leaves bitter citrus zest and white pepper notes. Shows the power of the vintage but with no loss of verve. 

91 points (JR)
Out of Stock

Region: France

Light green-yellow. Highly perfumed, incisive, mineral-driven nose displays lemongrass, pear, mint and honeysuckle. Lively, sharply focused citrus flavors show an edgy, stony quality and a touch of fennel. I really like this wine's clarity and assertive minerality. The finish clings with impressive tenacity, with the mint and mineral notes echoing.

90 points (JR)
Average Price: $15.47

Region: France

Greenish straw. Musky ginger, quinine and white pepper notes lift the fruit aromas of lemon, melon, peach and passion fruit. Juicy and quite firm in the mouth, with excellent focus to the lime zest and mineral flavors. This bracing, dry, tangy wine also shows the plumpness and density of the year. An excellent village offering.

89 points (ST)
Average Price: $22.99

Region: France

Bright straw. A piercing, energetic array of citrus and floral scents, complicated by strong minerality and a note of white pepper. Bitter lime pith and quinine flavors gain flesh and weight with air, taking a turn to sweeter tangerine and quince. Strikingly balanced and precise, with a long, spicy, mineral-dominated finish. This should be even better with a couple years of bottle age.

92 points (JR)
Out of Stock

Region: Portugal

Dark purple. Blackberry and cherry aromas complemented by candied licorice and black tea, with a subtle floral quality in the background. Sappy, palate-coating dark fruit flavors show a sexy floral quality and a touch of smokiness. Gentle tannins add shape to the persistent, refreshingly bitter finish. This drinks well now with a little air, but should be even better with a couple more years in the cellar. Made from traditional Douro varieties, mostly tinto roriz, touriga franca and tinta barroca.

89 points (JR)
Out of Stock

Region: Spain

Deep ruby-red. Slightly reduced nose offers black fruits, licorice, smoked meat, leather, tar, cedar and spice cake. Wild, densely packed and concentrated, with a distinctly exotic character to its expansive, creamy-sweet flavors of sweet berry fruit, wild herbs and spice cake. Finishes long and gripping, with broad tannins and a subtle suggestion of earth. A lot of red wine for the price.

90 points (ST)
Out of Stock

Region: Portugal

A blend of traditional varieties, principally touriga nacional, touriga franca and tinta barroca): Deep ruby. Ripe, deep cassis and cherry compote scents are complicated by notes of espresso and dark chocolate. Fleshy and smooth, offering gently sweet dark fruit flavors and subtle spiciness. Finishes soft, broad and slightly sweet, with repeating notes of cherry and chocolate. This would work well with grilled or braised lamb.

89 points (ST)
Out of Stock

Region: Germany

Pale straw-yellow. Subtly complex nose melds spiced apple, yellow peach, ginger and quinine, plus a more exotic suggestion of tropical fruits. Dense, quite dry and lightly saline; almost austere today but the palate-dusting texture and sheer refreshment value of this distinctly adult style of dry riesling make it very easy to drink. Finishes with terrific lift and energy. This would make a great summer wine.

90 points (ST)
Out of Stock

Region: Argentina

(A 60/40 blend of bonarda and malbec): Bright ruby. Aromas of black cherry, mocha, coffee and violet complicated by sexy oak. The flavors of blackberry, spices, violet and bitter chocolate are juicy and nicely delineated. Offers lovely texture and weight, but with good lift from the malbec component. A very good blend. Bonarda, which often produces rather rustic, blue-collar wine, clearly benefited from Mendoza's very warm 2009 growing season.

90 points (ST)
Out of Stock

About Second Tuesday

Since 1985, Stephen Tanzer and his team of renowned, widely published regional experts have spent months of every year on the wine trails of the world, having their passports punched and tasting tens of thousands of wines annually, the best of which are reviewed in the independent, critically acclaimed, bimonthly International Wine Cellar (IWC).

Many wines featured in Second Tuesday will be selected from past, current and upcoming issues of the IWC. But Stephen and associate editor Josh Raynolds will also include superb recent discoveries that would otherwise slip between the cracks of IWC coverage.

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