Stepp Gewurztraminer 2020, Pfalz, Germany

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Medium lemon colored with medium legs (13.5% ABV).  The nose is very aromatic with lychees, rose, orange peel, lemon and some grapefruit.  Hints of ginger and white blossom come later.  The palate is dry with medium acidity and a medium body.  The flavors are delicious- tropical fruit interlaced with citrus and floral notes, a touch of ginger snap and some slight bitterness.  The finish is medium in length and a bit one dimensional.  Not overly complex, this is a very tasty wine that I am going to pair with some spicy shrimp tacos.  I paid $16 for this bottle that gets 89 points from me and 4 stars.  Drink till 2025 as an aperitif or with Asian dishes, perhaps some charcuterie.  Salut….

Robert Oatley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia

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Deep ruby with a touch of turbidity and some flecks of garnet in this 5 year old Cabernet from the western coast of Australia.  The nose has very precise, sharp aromas of black plum, blackberry, cassis, eucalyptus, coffee, mint, mocha and vanilla.  Very oak-driven aromas but it is hedonistic and I am looking forward to taste.  The palate is dry with medium acidity and medium (+) tannins, a full body and delicious flavors of ripe fruit and oak influence.  Blackberry, dark plums and coffee dominate.  Espresso to be more precise.  Eucalyptus is pretty evident as is the mint component.  The finish on this wine is medium in length and very fruity, making me realize that the tannins have really integrated already, ergo a very pleasant mouthfeel.  I like this wine a bunch and will be pairing it with Strip steaks off the charcoal.  One review went as high as 95….. I am more in the 93 camp, but 5 stars for sure as you can pick this up for $17, making it a terrific deal.  Drink till 2028.  Salut….

Risata Moscato d’Asti DOCG 2019, Piedmont, Italy

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Pale straw colored with some effervescence in the glass.  The nose is fruity and aromatic with orange blossom, yellow apple, rose water, quince and and lemon/lime soda.  The palate is semi-sweet with medium (-) acidity and smooth, easygoing bubbles.  The flavors include orange, lemon/lime soda and some quince.  The rose component is lost past the nose.  The bubbles make the wine seem airy, the body is definitely light and the finish is balanced and surprisingly long at medium.  Crisp and relatively fresh, if not a touch too sweet for my liking, this is a wine that needs to be drunk well chilled on a hot afternoon, basking away in the sunshine and nibbling on charcuterie.  88 points from me and for $12 it’s a 4 star effort.  Salut….

Geil 1760 Gewurtztraminer Kabinett 2021, Rheinessen, Germany

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Pale to medium lemon/lime colored with a watery sheen (8.5% ABV!).  The nose is intensely aromatic with rose water, apricots, ginger snaps, grass, honeysuckle, curry powder (yup, curry powder), lychees and crushed stone.  The palate is off-dry as expected but has medium acidity and hint of bitterness.  I feel the body is quite full, as the wine coats my palate but the low alcohol defies that logic.  The fruity, aromatic, perfumed flavors echo the nose with emphasis on ginger and lychees.  The finish is quite long, the perfume just lingers on the palate.  It’s a delicious wine and I picked it to pair with spicy tacos- I think the level of sugar, acidity and big aromatic qualities will do well in the combination.  I am thinking 91 points for this $20 wine, making it a 5 star effort.  I can see myself loading up on this low alcohol, slightly sweet wine that will pour easily all summer long and pairing it with all manner of lighter fare- even some spicy dishes like mine.  Drink till 2025.  Salut….

Michel Rolland and Javier Galarreta Clos d’En Ferran’ 2017, Priorat DOCa, Spain

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Inky purple in the glass this blend of 62% Carinyena & 38% Garnacha has got slow moving legs (14.5% ABV).  The nose is stunning.  Intense aromas of toffee, coffee, and chocolate interlaced with ripe blueberry, blackberry, plums, black cherry, mint and cassis- there is a decadent richness about this wine that I get right off the bat.  The palate is dry with medium (+) acidity and medium tannins that are fine-grained.  Flavors of dark, bold fruits with loads of French oak nuance make for a delicious flavor profile.  Whilst the nose is driven by the toffee/coffee etc, the palate is opposite.  Layers of ripe fruit are now in charge, followed by the toffee, caramel, mint and medicinal notes from the barrels.  The finish is long and soft.  Stunning stuff that got up to 96 points from the pros.  I would have to agree.  The aging capacity of this well structured, full bodied wine is good, say till 2035.  You can find it for under $40 making it a monster 5 star effort.  I’m simmering a pot of rich, hearty goat stew with some creamy truffle infused acorn squash pureé.  Can’t wait.  Salut….

Cataldi Madonna Malandrino Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2020, Abruzzo, Italy

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Moxie and I just dropped off our daughter at university in NYC.  We had a last dinner with her at this amazing Italian restaurant.  I dined on herb-infused papardelle with an oxtail ragout that screamed for a juicy, yet not overly tannic red.  My choices included this $20 (at retail) bottle of Montepulciano.  No notes were taken but from memory I recall it being the perfect choice.  Red fruit driven with medium (+) acidity, a modicum of tannic grip and a medium body.  The freshness of the fruit was evident as was a touch of spice, some herbs and a hint of oak.  The finish was medium in length with red fruit driving the flavors.  It was thoroughly enjoyed and I will be looking for more, at that price-point this 90 point wine is getting 5 stars.  I would drink it with all manner of pasta until 2025.  Salut….

Quevedo Family Alegria Vineyard Touriga Nacional 2018, Douro, Portugal

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Deep purple colored it stains the walls and has a slight bluish tinge on the edges.  On the nose it is very heady with aromas of dark, ripe blueberry, black currants, blue plum, violets, mint and a touch of oak by way of baking spices and chocolate powder.  The palate is dry with medium (+) acidity and high tannins that are fine grained.  This full bodied wine has plenty going on flavorwise.  Blueberry, cacao, blackcurrant, plum, florals and some spices.  The question of balance comes into mind as the alcohol (15% ABV) is noticeable on the nose and the mid palate.  I will get over it but buyer beware.  The finish is medium in length and blue fruited.  The tannins having vanished, leaving a touch of refreshing acidity.  The Douro Valley and this varietal, Touriga Nacional are well known to Port lovers worldwide.  They make delicious and full throttle fortified wines, so having ripe, sun-drenched grapes to make a still wine is not an issue.  The results are in this bottle- a yummy delight to pair with hearty dishes.  Mine is Steak and Ale pie tonight but it will do well with grilled leg of Lamb or even Osso Bucco.  I would drink this wine till 2030, it has the structure needed to cellar.  90 points (the slight imbalance alcohol cost a point) and for $19- 5 stars.  Look for this wine or even this varietal and region when you are searching for something new.  Salut….

Cooper’s Hawk Old Vine Zin NV, Lodi, California

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I must say- this wine is intriguing.  Normally Zinfandel is relatively deep hued and high in alcohol.  This one is pale to medium ruby colored with thin legs that took a while to form.  It sports a more modest 13.5% ABV.  The nose is spicy with pepper, menthol, clove, dark chocolate, black plum and black raspberry.  The palate is dry with sweet, ripe fruit.  Medium acidity coupled with medium (-) tannins make for a relatively easygoing mouthfeel.  Medium bodied- I get flavors of black raspberry, plum, white and black pepper, blackberry jam and a crescendo of acidity on the back end that is starting to make my jaw water.  I did not get that level of acid at the onset but it is certainly prominent on the finish, which is medium in length.  I like this non-vintage, old vine wine, it has a smoothness and drinkability that make it hard to put down.  The spicy nature of the grape is perfect for my pairing- Middle Eastern fare including Kafta ( a spiced ground Lamb kebab) and Harissa potatoes along with olives and other sundry items.  89 points for this $21 non-vintage bottle makes it a 4 star effort to drink now.  Salut….

Jose Hernandez Torrontes 2021, Salta, Argentina

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Pale lemon-lime colored with a watery sheen on the glass walls (12.5%ABV).  The nose of this aromatic Torrontes has intense aromas of papaya, apricot, geranium, honeysuckle, mandarin oranges, white tea and bergamot.  Intriguing!  The nose smells of ripe, sweet fruit so there is a preconception that this wine will have some sweetness- au contraire.  It is dry with medium (+) acidity and a medium (-) body.  A touch bitter right off the bat, the flavors of apricot, geranium, white tea and honeysuckle carry through to a medium length finish that I am enjoying.  I’m really starting to like this varietal, it is very tasty with crisp acidity and holds many interesting flavors and aromas.  88 points from me.  I am serving it as an aperitif while I cook dinner.  It would pair with a Cobb salad, poached chicken on quinoa or even a hard cheese board.  For $13 it’s a 4 star effort.  Drink now.  Salut….

Ca’ Rome Romano Marengo Vigna Cerretta 2011, Barolo DOCG, Italy

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I was promised a dinner of Beef Short Ribs alongside this Barolo by some old friends.  No formal tasting notes were taken but from memory- medium garnet in the glass with some bricking on the edges and a slow moving set of legs on the walls.  The nose was seductive with aromas of red cherry, mushroom, leather, tobacco, cloves and forest floor.  The palate was showing layers of tertiary flavors alongside a crisp acidity and very svelte tannins.  This 12 year old Nebbiolo has matured beautifully and the earthy, savory notes have started to overtake the once powerful tart cherry notes I know this wine had in youth.  It’s still there, but not so fresh, not so prominent.  The mushroom component was quite exciting to me, it’s not very often I get to notice this development.  Forest floor, tobacco and leather complement the umami note.  On the mid palate, this medium weight wine has great transition and the faint cherry note reappears.  Adding some acidity on the finish, what is left of the fruit balances the earthy tertiary notes whilst the last vestiges of tannin balance out the acidity.  It’s a magnificent wine that once got 94 points from the pros.  I would agree.  It can still be found for under a hundo on the www.  Drink soon with some rich, layered stews or pastas.  5 stars.  Salut….