La Loggia ‘Toscaia’ Rosso Toscana IGT 2017, Tuscany, Italy

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It’s a pretty shade of purple in the glass with a 98 point sticker on the bottle….. hmmm.  The nose is thin but offers up strawberry coulis and cherry juice.  On the palate it has much more presence.  A rich mouthful of dark cherry, strawberry extract and cola hit me square on.  Tannins introduce themselves right away and are not holding back.  This is a hefty wine, with structure to boot.  The mid palate has more of that extracted cherry that is almost overwhelmed by the tannic grip.  Wow, this wine is built.  The finish is very astringent yet tasty.  Red fruits swirl alongside black tea and jaw drying tannins.  It’s certainly an interesting wine that I am really enjoying, yet wondering what the cellaring potential is as there is very little acidity.  The tannins and fruit are certainly present, I am just a little concerned about the long term structure.  Let’s see in a few years.  For now, enjoy this Merlot/Sangiovese blend with pasta, steaks or moussaka.  It gets a realistic 91 points from me and 5 stars for the $14 price I paid.  Drink till 2027 at the least.  Salut….

Bodegas y Vinedos Pujanza ‘Finca Valdepoleo’ 2014, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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Dark purple in the glass with decent legs showing.  On the nose I get cherry and rhubarb alongside  birch bark.  On the palate it has an interesting taste- sour cherry meets cherry cola and bramble.  It is quite sour too, not from acidity unfortunately.  The mid palate is tart, with more sour cherry notes as well as some earthiness and unripe plums.  The finish is where I sense the tannic impact, with an astringency that hits my jowls.  This wine is one dimensional, lacking in ripe fruits and certainly not worth $20 in my opinion.  2 stars for this 85 point wine.  I am at complete odds with the pros here- 94 JS, 91 RP.  I must either have a strange bottle or I really need to calibrate my buds.  Salut…

Tinazzi No 3 Vinum Italicum Opera Rosso NV, Italy

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Medium purple, somewhat opaque int the glass.  On the nose I get bramble, black cherry and bacon.  On the palate it has a unique flavor profile.  Very meaty with that black cherry note along with licorice.  Smoke and tar really hit me on the mid palate alongside black berry and mid level tannins.  The finish is black, dark- brooding and tannic.  Black fruits dominate with some Lapsang Souchong tea notes.  Earthy, smoky and strong.  This is a unique wine which is composed of the following grapes: Corvina, Primitivo, Nero d’Avola.  The pros went with red fruits, I am sticking with black.  This is a non-vintage wine, so there is room for wiggle on style and tastes.  It gets 89 points from me- forget the 98 rating it splashes on the bottle, that guy uses a strange rating system.  Pair it with steaks, pasta (of course) or a heavy duty stew.  It’s tasty, unique and worth a try, but at $30, it’s a bit pricey.  2 Stars.  Salut….

Chateau Los Boldos Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Cachapoal Valley, Chile

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I have previously drunk two or three bottles of this stuff without taking notes.  I figure it’s time as this is the last bottle I have.  It has a medium purple complexion and is mostly see-through.  On the nose I get black berries, Ribena and tar.  On the palate it is very straightforward Cabernet.  Dark fruits, good tannic backbone and some juicy acidity.  There is a plum tart component that hits me on the mid palate which is quite nice.  The tannins really grip on the back end and give me that dry gum sensation.  A decent drop for quaffing that is rather limited in dimension yet is approachable and drinkable right away with some cellaring potential.  Pair with burgers, steaks and pasta.  Not bad for $15.  88 points makes it a solid 3 star wine.  Salut….

La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir 2016, California, USA

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Quite dark but still see through in the glass.  The nose gives off black cherry, blackberries and bacon.  On the palate there’s black fruits, a hint of almond, lithe tannins and a balanced acidic component.  The mid palate is kinda blasé, it’s just a continuation of the initial palate.  The finish gives me rooibos tea with some tannic bite and a cherry licorice note.  A decent wine that I would pair with Salmon steaks, Shish Kebab or Alfredo.  88 points and $16 put it in 3 star territory.  Salut….

Buttercream Chardonnay 2017, California, USA

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Medium shade of gold in the glass.  The nose has definitely got butter. Marzipan, banana and lemon peel also feature.  On the palate it is very round, tasty and full bodied.  That marzipan comes back at me with lemon, beeswax and oak staves.  The mid palate shows some citrus and floral components that move on to the finish.  I get almost a tannic bite right at the end- interesting.  Very easy to drink without a huge dose of acidity.  It’s a nice aperitif and will pair well with my grilled hens and bacon draped Brussel sprouts.  89 points and 5 stars if you like this style of oaky Chard that sells for $14.  Drink now.  Salut….$14

Havens Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2016, Sonoma, California

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In the glass this wine is textbook Pinot Noir- bright red, see-through with lithe legs.  On the nose I get cherry cola, strawberry and faint wood.  On the palate it screams New World Pinot with strawberry coulis, bing cherry and delightful tannins that ease into a full blown black tea extravaganza that leave my gums puckered and my teeth thoroughly dry.  The mid palate turns a little blue on me with berries and tar.  The finish is back to the original strawberry/cherry combo that I love.  The finish is long with nice balanced acidity offsetting the tannins.  91 points for this $20 wine makes it a 5 star effort IMHO.  Drink now till 2027.  I am pairing it with roasted Cornish Hens, baked Sweet Potatoes with Feta and sautéed Zucchini.  Salut….

Havens Wine Cellars ‘H Luxury Collection By Havens’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, California, USA

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Beautiful dark, nearly black in the glass.  The nose gives off blackcurrants, loads of them, and with a good swirl I also get eucalyptus as well as pine needle.  On the palate it is slightly sweet with those blackcurrants really out front.  Very gentle tannins are evident from the onset, but they quickly disappear.  There is a hint of oak, barely perceptible that adds to this somewhat one-dimensional wine.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s very tasty and easy to drink.  It transitions to the finish on the same notes I got initially, without much acidity, which troubles me.  This is a nice everyday, easygoing quaffer that you could pop-n-pour every night of the week.  Party wine for sure.  At $13 it’s not a steep price to pay for this 87 point wine that gets 3 stars from me.  Drink now with most light fair.  Salut….

Angeline Pinot Noir 2017, California, USA

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Darker and more opaque than most Pinot Noirs.  The nose has a strawberry candy note plus blueberry paste and a fig component.  Sounds strange- I know.  On the palate it delivers on that fig thing, surprisingly.  I also get blueberry and some oak.  The tannins are crispy, appearing on the midpalate and carrying us through to the finish which has blueberry and charcoal.  Very tasty indeed.  The tannins are long lived, drying out my gums for well over a minute.  This will will age nicely methinks .  90 points and 5 stars for this $11 wine.  Salut….

Chateau Musar 1996, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

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For my birthday celebration, I pulled out two magnums, one of which was the ’96 Musar, I hand carried it from the winery many years ago.  I have two bottles of the ’98 waiting but in the meantime….Super pale red- see through, reminiscent of Pinot which it’s not with a touch of orange bricking.  On the nose it’s stupendous, like aged Bordeaux.  Leather, tobacco, plum and cassis- all my favorites.  On the palate it is so smooth, with hints of cassis, cedar box, more tobacco and forest floor.  There’s so much going on it’s amazing.  Towards the mid palate I get cherry, faint tannins and a perfectly balanced acidity.  The finish is awesome.  So sleek with cherry juice reduction and a slightly biting rhubarb component.  93 points and 4 stars for this $75 wine.  It’s not for everyone, the style is different but for this boy- it hits the right notes.  Drink till 2030.  Salut….