Forte Incanto Primitivo 2020, Salento IGT Puglia, Italy

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Primitivo is also known as Tribidrag and Crljenak Kasteljanski in Croatia, but more common to us- Zinfandel.  This Italian bottle has a deep ruby coloring and thick legs.  The nose is pronounced with aromas of black cherry, licorice, charcoal, black pepper, black plum and dark currants.  The palate is dry with bracing tannins and a good dose of acidity.  There is an astringent and green sensation that is immediate on the attack, downplaying the fruit.  When I finally get to the flavors- dark fruit with charred oak notes and licorice.  Medium to full bodied it has a medium length finish.  It’s a young wine that needs cellaring or decanting/aerating.  I am pairing it with spaghetti and meat sauce, probably the best choice for this very dry and tannic red.  88 points from me and for $16 it gets 3 stars.  Drink from 2024-2028.  Salut….

Marc Dupas Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie ‘Les Parcelles’ 2019, Loire, France

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Medium lemon colored, it takes on a touch of gold in the glass.  On the nose- aromas of lemon curd, grapefruit, yellow pear, blossom, brioche and almond.  The palate is dry with medium (+) acidity and a medium (+) body.  This Melon de Bourgogne varietal shows a fullness that is a result of the Sur Lie aging that I am enjoying.  In addition to the citrus, pear and floral notes I also get flavors of baking spice and yeast.  At 12% ABV, it is a nice aperitif to serve with olives and charcuterie. The acidity would also lend itself to soft cheese and seafood for sure. It has a medium length finish emphasizing the baking spice, brioche and cream notes.  I like this $15 wine that gets 89 points and 5 stars from me.  Drink soon.  Salut….

Antonio Díez Martín Tempranillo Crianza 2017, Ribera del Duero, Spain

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This wine is deep ruby colored with thin, piercing legs that move slowly indicating a high alcohol level (14.5% ABV).  The nose gives me vanilla and dust right off the bat. Pomegranate, black plum, açaí, clove and sarsaparilla come next.  The palate is dry with medium (+) tannins and medium (+) acidity.  This full-bodied wine has flavors of bramble, black plum, pomegranate and oak by way of vanilla, clove and a charcoal note.  Typical for the region I get dusty, earthy hints and the wine goes on to a medium length finish.  The fruit doesn’t taste fully ripe to me, it’s somewhat green unfortunately and this will cost it a point or two.  The structure is there but the finish is  quite astringent.  Perhaps a decant is in order?   I’m roasting a Rump Steak with all the trimmings, it should pair nicely.  For $17 this 88 point wine gets 4 stars.  Drink till 2027.  Salut….

Maldonado Proprietary Red Wine 2017, Napa Valley, California

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Deep ruby colored with really thick, slow moving legs.  The nose has a whiff of alcohol that needs to dissipate- I now get pronounced aromas of blackberry, cassis, licorice, smoke, coffee, vanilla and menthol.  The cassis is en pointe.  On the palate this wine is  dry with medium acidity and high tannins (I forgot to mention the it stained the walls of the glass when I swirled).  A full body was to be expected and I get rich flavors of ripe blackberry, black plum, cassis and the associated oak derived notes and menthol. The richness of this wine continues on to a medium (+) length finish.  It’s a delicious blend of Cab Saver, Syrah and Merlot that gets 93 points from me and for $35- 5 stars.  Drink with hearty meat (steak) till 2029.  Salut….

Benjamin Darnault Pinot Noir 2020, Languedoc, France

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Pale ruby with a hint of red on the edges.  The nose has medium intensity aromas of raspberry, rose petal, red cherry, baking spice, pomegranate and red currant.  The palate is dry with low tannins and high acidity.  Flavorful- it has a medium body and I get candied cherry, strawberry, pomegranate, red currant and baking spice.  The balance is nice but the wine finishes a bit short.  I like it and would pair it with roast chicken, grilled Mackerel or even baked Salmon.  88 points and for $13 you can enjoy this 3 star wine till 2025 whilst tasting the sunshine of the South of France.  Salut….

Department 66 ‘Others’ Red Blend 2017, IGP Cotes Catalanes, France

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From the South of France comes this blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan that is deep ruby colored and seriously opaque.  The thick, blobby legs warn of the incoming 15.2% ABV, watch out.  The nose, once the alcohol blows off, gives me aromas of ripe blackberry, tons of vanilla, blackcurrant pastis, black licorice, clove and ripe blueberry.  The palate is dry with medium acidity, medium tannins, full body and heady flavors of black and blue fruit, lots of oak nuance and a somewhat astringent mid palate streak.  A short finish closes it out.  The impression I get is that this wine has some ripe fruit quality along with lashings of oak yet they allowed the green stems to unbalance the wine with that bitterness.  A shame, because it started out on a high note for me.  88 points for this $28 wine makes it a 3 star effort to drink with grilled Lamb chops.  Drink till 2028.  Salut….

Chateau Lamothe Blanc 2021, Bordeaux, France

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Bright lemon colored this is the third vintage of Lamothe that I have tasted.  A blend of 87% Sauvignon Blanc with 13% Semillon it has intense aromas of cut grass, gooseberry, flint, bell pepper, lemon zest, stone fruit and underripe strawberry.  The palate is dry, crisp and tart with medium (+) acidity.  Texturally speaking there is an oily component that gives this wine a medium (+) body.  The citrus takes center stage on the palate with the stone fruit backing it up.  The telltale cut grass and gooseberry are not as pronounced.  The finish is medium in length, perhaps the aromatics of this varietal linger longer.  Delicious and refreshing to say the least.  I’m impressed by this $15 wine that gets 90 points and 5 stars.  Drink with lighter fare including chicken and seafood.  It begs for oysters and clams on the half shell.  Salut….

Lapis Luna Wines Zinfandel 2020, Lodi California,

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Medium ruby colored this Zinfandel was amazing.  Rich, smooth aromas and flavors of ripe plum, blackberry, blueberry pie and baking spice with a hint of vanilla.  Low acidity, medium (-) tannins and a full body lead to a long finish.  Amazing value at $15 for this 91 pointer that gets 5 stars.   I would drink this in the shorter term with stews, game and hearty pasta dishes with rich red sauces.  Salut….

ZINFANDEL 2020 - LAPIS LUNA

The Fableist 373 Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Paso Robles, California

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This Cabernet Sauvignon did not show well today- the bottle had been left open far too long and it was past it’s prime.  However, I chose to taste it and will include it in my next wine class as I have previously drunk this $18 offering and was impressed with its structure and fruit.  This particular example had medium acidity, a full body and high levels of tannins.  The fruit was stewed and basically undrinkable but I recall the previous bottle had lovely black and blue fruit, nicely integrated oak treatment and a decent finish.  If I had to score this wine- 90 points which would make it a 5 star effort with some cellaring capacity- stay till 2028.  Hearty, fatty steak would do well here.  Salut….

Rebellious Red Blend 2019, California

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I was tasting wines for a prospective class and wanted to stick to single varietals, the bartender convinced me to try this red blend of Zinfandel, Cab Sav, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Syrah.  In one word- Delicious!  Medium ruby colored with a slight blue edge it has aromas and flavors of ripe plum, blueberry pie, coconut, charred oak, cracked pepper and allspice.  Medium (-) acidity and medium tannins lead to a full bodied, mouth coating experience.  A long finish adds to this wine’s appeal and solidifies my score of 91 points. Not bad for a sub $20 effort that gets 5 stars.  At 15% ABV, it is obvious the winemaker has used really ripe, sun-drenched grapes to achieve this level of flavor.  Yummy stuff to pair with a thick Tomahawk steak or some braised Beef ribs.  Drink till 2027.  Salut….