Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The World of Wine...Delivered! The International Wine of the Month Club

Throughout my quest to learn about wine and to try new and exciting wines I have come across various wine of the month clubs that offer memberships that will bring different wines to your door each month.  One of the biggest factors I face living in the desert climate of Chandler, Arizona is that the window for shipping wine safely is less than half the year. With temperatures that are already over 100 degrees in April this year, any "of the month clubs" other than maybe pet rock of the month club are just not possible.  For others out there that may reside in a more hospitable climate I wanted to at least identify these type of clubs as an option.

Full Disclosure:  For this writeup, I will be reviewing two bottles of wine that were sent to me for free from The International Wine of the Month Club.  They provided the wines, but I have absolutely no affiliation with them as far as promoting sales of memberships or any other business arrangement. So, per my samples policy - I will review honestly, just like the wines that I purchase and review.

I have received offers to review wines from other wine clubs in the past, but was not very intrigued.  When the International Wine of the Month Club contacted me, the wines they offered were very intriguing and quite unique - something missing from the other wine clubs I've read about.

So first, let's sample the wine to get an idea of the wines offered by this club. 

2012 Cellaro Lumà Inzolia-Chardonnay. 
The white wine was immediately intriguing to me, first because it was an Italian wine from Sicily - not one of the best known wine regions in Italy, and second because it was a blend that featured Inzolia, a grape that is basically only found in Sicily.  Often from a wine club perspective, the choices are much more mainstream, and would probably offer a generic Pinot Grigio for an Italian white.  Nothing wrong with a good Pinot Grigio, but if you are looking to expand your wine experience and palate - something unique like this Inzolia/Chardonnay blend is really awesome.

Let's give this wine a try.

First a little sniff. The first thing I notice is the aroma of minerals like a nice wet rock, followed by a bit of lime and quite a nice floral aroma - a lot going on but a nice combination.    Now a drink!  A nice level of acidity, and a finish that is pure mineral, but with nice fruit in a supporting role - definitely a pleasantly long finish. This wine is 60% Inzolia and 40% Chardonnay - and that seems to be a great ratio, as this is a very tasty wine.  Very unique and very impressive... so far good!

2005 Casa Silva Carmenère Microterroir de Los Lingues. 
I was equally intrigued by the red wine the International Wine of the Month Club sent me. First of all the grape variety was Carmenère, at one time the sixth red grape commonly found in Bordeaux wines, and now one of the focus areas of the wine industry in Chile.  This grape is similar to Merlot, and in fact much of the Carmenère in Chile was at one time thought to be Merlot until DNA testing proved otherwise.  Secondly, the fact that this wine is not a recent release.   Most South American wines are ready to be consumed when released, as opposed to other wines that need a few years to reach their full potential.  It's not easy to find South American wines that are a few years old like this one.

So let's give this one a try. 

Of course, first a sniffy. Wow, one of the most unique set of aromas I've ever encountered in a wine and I'm struggling to identify what I'm smelling. A sweet smokiness that I can only classify as what fresh cherries that spent some time in a smoker would smell like. There is also an herbal characteristic, maybe a touch of sage? But more like dried sage than fresh... wow.  On to the taste though my mind is still reeling from the aromas.  The taste shows a lot of the smokiness with the cherry flavors peeking through.  A little bit old world in that fruit takes a bit of a back seat to the the other characteristics of smoke and spice.  Very nice level of acid, still a good amount of tannins so this wine could still age some more.  Very different than any wine I've tried before, but quite delicious.  As I continued to enjoy the wine and it got a bit more breathing time... a lot of dried leaves maybe even tobacco came out in its aroma...just keeps getting more interesting.

I was hoping these wines would provide something new and different, and that's just what they delivered... I am very impressed. My mind is still spinning thinking of what type of food would pair with the Carmenère - maybe a nice burger with some smoky gouda? I can't wait to find out.

  • Premier Series. This level costs $32.95 a month plus shipping and you can select two whites or two reds or one of each.
  • Collectors Series.  This level costs $69.95 a month plus shipping and offers limited production and exclusive offering wines 
  • Master Series. This level costs $49.95 and is a mix of the offerings from the Premier and Collectors series to provide a middle of the road option.
In the months offered, the white wine I tried was available to the Premier and Master Series while the red was offered at the Master and Collectors series memberships. 

If I end up in a cooler climate some day in the future - I will be seriously considering this wine club based on these two sample wines. For now, I'll just stick to trips to my local wine store in the early morning hours with the air conditioner on full blast!

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