Beringer Marston Vineyard Napa Valley 1997


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Yes, you read the vintage correctly.  I will explain- it was my friend’s bottle and we were celebrating his birthday, in Napa Valley.  His is name is…. Doctor J.  He is just finishing up his PHD in some abstract field of Finance to do with mortgages and some other crap I can’t understand.  He has locked himself in for the past 10 months and only had a few drinks since then.  He needed a nice afternoon out and a big steak.  We headed up to the valley in the early afternoon and arrived at Cosentino winery in time for our 4 pm member’s private tasting.  It was just the two of us and several stunning reserve wines, paired with slivers of cheese.  We finished up in the main tasting room with some of the more regular offerings.  I have written about this winery before.  If you get to Napa, they are a must visit.  Super nice people, unpretentious settings and good wine priced right.  I digress…

We went to dinner after our tasting where we had the Beringer decanted.  At 19 years of age I was shocked.  Below are my tableside notes after numerous other tastings that afternoon.

Youthful and tannic with fruits that still pop. A nose of plum compote, blackberry torte.
Fresh and lively after 19 years in bottle. Amazing bottle. 93 points easily.
Cassis, plum and leather come out on the initial attack. Mid palate shows a slight hollowness but this is overcome by a longish finish that exhibits crushed stone, black stone fruit and a dryness that begs for a juicy steak.  The tannins are still evident as is the fruit and acidity.  This wine has plenty of cellaring potential yet but is delicious right now.  I think you can still find it online for $100.  4 stars all day long, bordering on 5 stars. Salut….

beringer marston vineyard



Chateau Guiraud Sauternes 2006


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I do love me some dessert wines…  I couldn’t resist this one, it got high marks and the price was right.

It started with an interesting nose of cork (not in a bad way), apricot jam and tangerine peel.

An initial taste of orange marmalade, honey and almond seeds. Golden color was intriguing. Orange peel and candied almonds hit on the middle palate and the finish gives way to the same marmalade notes I sensed on the front end. A definite botrytis tinge throughout. Best described as orange treacle. I’m going 90 points on this wine versus the pros. It’s decent, but not my favorite sticky.  Pro ratings up to 93 points and costing $37, I was somewhat caught off-guard.  This is a 3 star wine in my opinion and needs to be drunk before 2022.  Salut….

guiraud sauternes

Muga Reserva Unfiltered Rioja 2010


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Every once in a while in my profession I get to meet up with old friends.  On this particular occasion, it happened to be a personal trip that allowed me to have a great evening with an old high school friend whom I have not seen in close to 30 years.  He has not changed one bit, I on the other hand have grown rounder and balder.  We hoisted the first glass of this delicious Rioja in honor of our fallen friend, ‘Bonange’, who recently succumbed to colon cancer.  Our band of merry men were nicknamed the Hyenas for some obscure reason, but we were all close friends growing up in Africa.  Many years later we are still in touch and can get together at the spur of the moment and have a great time reminiscing.

The wine itself was extraordinary.  Not quite black in the glass, it was a severe shade of dark, alluring and intriguing.  The nose was murky, with some dampness and funk combining with purple lavender and some black fruits.  I had been given a taste of another aged Rioja prior to this bottle, it was far more earthy.  This one was somewhat fresher yet retained that Rioja typicity.  The blend is 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 7% Mazuelo and 3% Graciano.

On the first sip I was getting dark cherry, blackcurrant and some leather.  A mid palate tinge of smoke was quite interesting and the tannins were ever present, but not obtrusive.  Good mouthfeel throughout with a decent length finish made me long for yet another sip.  We paired this wine with all kinds of Tapas, including ribs, braised rabbit, chicken and some beef carpaccio.  It sang on every occasion.  It can be had for $27 in the shops and gets an average of 91 points from the pros, I concur.  I’m going 5 stars on this wine and am loading up a shopping cart with the stuff.  I plan on drinking it over the next 5-7 years.  Salut….

muga reserva unfiltered

To old friends!  Salut....

To old friends! Salut….

Le Demoiselle de Sociando-Mallet 2011


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I couldn’t help myself, it was on sale at half off.  On opening- it was a see-through purple in the glass with an enticing nose of plum, spice and violets. The palate is ever so slightly subdued but some blueberry, raspberry and vanilla notes come through. There are some nice tannic touches on the mid palate and the finale has some plum torte notes with a touch of oak. There is no overpowering acidity and at 12.5% alcohol I’m thinking this wine will be drunk in short order. It’s soft, alluring and has a slight tannic bite, an easy drinker with some class. I paid $22, on sale. I’m going with 88 points and 3 stars.  I believe it is the second wine of Sociando-Mallet.  Salut….

le damoiselle de sociando-mallet

Cosentino Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2014


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Pale yellow in the glass with a strong nose of tart apple, green pear and lemon zest. The initial attack tastes of yellow pear, Granny Smith apples and a hint of lemon peel. Good acidity give this wine some zip… A nice warm mid palate with some baked apples leave me with a nice finish. I really enjoyed this wine. Perfect for some seafood with a cream sauce or perhaps some chicken alfredo. 91 points from me and at $22, its a 5 star rocker.  Salut….

cosentino sauvignon blanc napa valley

Langoa Barton 2003


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I have been sitting on this magnum for quite a few years.  I sat it upright a week before Christmas and popped it for the grand occasion.  I was immediately greeted with a full nose of aged Bordeaux joy. Cassis, leather, dark fruits and fig compote. The initial attack is rather tannic, in fact- full on. I decided to run the next glass through the vinturi. The fruit is lively and melding with earthy notes, cassis, tobacco and some leather. The dark fruits really come through on the mid palate. I get even balance on the back end and no hint of alcohol (13%) which is interesting as 2003 was a super hot vintage. Many chateau suffered from stewed flavors and short lived wines. This one, from a large format, is just starting out.  You can find it for around $65.  The pros gave it 91/92.  I agree with that and give this wine 5 stars for its complexity, aging capacity and enjoyment factor.  I think I have another one waiting in the cellar!  Salut….

langoa barton 2003

Bodegas Penafiel Miros de Ribera Crianza 2009


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I have always enjoyed these wines.  I don’t normally order crianza’s but gave this one a whirl. Nose of black fruits and plums after a good swirl. Somewhat one-dimensional on the first taste with loads of damson, acid and upfront tannins. Slight oak influence, but in a good way. This wine appears to be young, and may need some coaxing. After a trip through the vinturi it softens dramatically.  It’s amazing how some wines transform when given some air and allowed to breath.  More plums, some earth and cinnamon come out after aerating and the tannins are way more subdued.  The structure is interesting and I think will give this wine a long cellaring potential.  Drink from 2017-2022 unless you can send it through a Vinturi, then now is fine. 91 points from me and 5 stars for this $18 effort.  Salut….


Norton Reserva Malbec 2012


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On our recent trip to the Cape we had dinner with friends at a restaurant where this wine was listed as one of their top offerings.  We shared a bottle and I was impressed with the quality of this Mendoza Malbec.  It has a nose of plums, cedar and earth. Initial attack of black cherry, blackberries and some iodine. Fresh tannins and balanced acidity make for a fresh mouthfeel. Mid length finish of dark fruits and a lashing of tannins on the back end mingle with some tobacco hints. I agree with WS, 90 points and 4 stars for this $16 offering.  Salut….

norton reserva malbec

Two random wines

This past weekend we went to Cape Cod where my kids were competing in a skating competition.  I took enough wine for myself, but ended up short when I started doling it out to other parents who were there.  I decided to stop at the local liquor store and pick something up.  I was intrigued by the Valle Do Bonfim from 2006.  It was only $10.95- I couldn’t go wrong, could I?

It was delicious.  Still sporting some decent tannins, lovely fruit and that Portuguese terroir that I love.  I did not take notes, instead I sat back and enjoyed what surely is an everyday drinking wine that has survived nine years of sitting on a store shelf in suboptimal conditions and has had the stuffing and structure to provide me with great pleasure.  I would give this wine 89-90 points and 5 stars for sure.  I hope to visit the same store next year, I’ll buy every bottle they have left!

The second bottle I bought is an old standby.  You can’t go wrong with Chateau Ste. Michelle, ever.  Good quality, highly distributed and reasonably priced.  When in doubt or in a rush, this is a go-to wine.  My notes-

Solid, reliable and reasonable. Hard to get a nose from a paper cup but the palate shows dark fruits, mild tannins and a balance of acidity. Dark plum and spices came around on another sip with a mid palate hint of plum torte and ginger which leads to a nice dry finish. 88 points and at $16 it is a good value with 3 stars from me. Salut….

vale do bomfimIMG_0168

Scribe ‘VIII, The Ghost Continent’ Pinot Noir 2014


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My friend pulled this bottle out for us this past Sunday at a gathering.  It was delightful.  Beautiful clear, delicate red color in the glass with a nose of new world cherry, strawberry and (grass?).  On the first taste, very smooth intro to kirsch, cherry torte and cola. Crispy acidity and tight tannins make for a nice mouthfeel. The acidity rolls deep and the length is long. This wine drinks beautifully right now but has the stuffing to go deep into the cellar for 10 plus years. 92 points all day long.  Carneros produces some of my favorite Pinots, and this one sits high on the perch.  I believe this is a $40 bottle making it a splurge but 4 stars from me.  Salut….

scribe the ghost continent pinot noir


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