Poggiobello Pinot Grigio Colli Orientali del Friuli 2017, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

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Really pale, straw yellow in the glass. On the nose it is very citrusy with melon and bartlett pear notes as well as a touch of rose water.  On the palate it is much meatier with a creaminess that I was not expecting.  Hazelnuts hit me alongside green apple and lemon zest.  The acidity is of medium intensity with a nice long finish of lemon.  89 points and 4 stars for this $14 effort.  Drink till 2022 with seafood, baked chicken or even Fettucine Alfredo.  Salut….

Allegrini Villa Cavarena Valpolicella Ripasso 2016, Veneto, Italy

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Very purple/black in the glass.  Brush, black cherry, blackberries and tar on the nose.  On the palate it is round, soft and full of fruit.  Black fruits galore, cedar shake, olives and that creosote all hit me across the front.  The midpalate offers more blackberries and gentle, yet fine grained tannins.  The black cherry reappears on the finale with a touch of dryness on the gums that adds to the mouthfeel.  89 points for this $20 Corvina/Rondinella blend and 3 stars.  Pair with Pasta, Veal and grilled Tuna from now till 2023.  Salut….

Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2014, Veneto, Italy

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I’m excited to try the 2014 version of Zenato’s Ripassa.  I reviewed the 2012 version previously.  In the glass it is as expected- dark, opaque, thick.  On the nose- somewhat fresh, with blackberries, raisins, chocolate ganache and sandalwood.  On the palate it is lush, filled with black fruits, purple licorice and mouth coating tannins.  It does however leave me feeling a little short changed.  I remember this wine as being richer, with mouthfuls of fruit, much more upfront and reduced.  This version seems a little more subdued, more mainstream.  It’s plenty flavorful, with good balance between acidity and tannic structure- don’t get me wrong.  Perhaps they have changed styles into a more refined approach.

The mid palate and finish pretty much carry on from the initial palate and let the tannins crescendo at the end.  There is however a slight astringency that hits me on the back end.  I cannot quite pinpoint it.  Serve with charcuterie or grilled steak from now till 2025.  89 points and 3 stars for this $24 effort.  Salut….

Tenuta Ghiaccio Forte Toscana IGT 2016, Tuscany, Italy

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See through purple in the glass, which makes sense for a Sangiovese.  The nose has a pretty floral note to it alongside red licorice, cedar and raspberry.  On the palate it is more subdued, less flowery, with crisp flavors of red cherry juice, rhubarb and a dose of black tea.  Tannins are rampant, from the get-go, they are quite present throughout the palate and are quite astringent.  There is a greeness to the mid palate that is bothersome, but it gives way to more sour cherry on the finish that keeps this wine lively and fresh.  Overall there is a slight unbalance between the fruit and the tannins, with the acidity being a touch heavy.  This wine is for near term drinking and I would pair with BBQ, perhaps pizza and for sure Moussakka.  87 points from me and 3 stars for this  $15 effort.  Drink till 2021.  Salut….

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctor’s Creek Pinot Noir 2017, Marlborough, New Zealand

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Quite dark but lacking much opacity in the glass.  On the nose it reeks of New World Pinot goodness.  Cherry cobbler, vanilla and strawberry coulis all hit me on the nose.  The palate has a gorgeous initial streak of bing cherry, blueberry (yup), cedar and spice box.  There is a fruitcake note on the midpalate that tempers some acidity.  The wine finishes with a slightly green note- capsicum comes to mind, but it’s quite nice.  The vegetal twist alongside the red fruit works well here.  There is an underlying astringency from the very feint tannins.  This is a delicious wine for immediate consumption or a few years in the cellar. 90 points and 5 stars for this $19 effort.  Pair with roast chicken, grilled salmon or Veal chops.  You can read my previous reviews of the Saint Clair lineup to see I am a huge fan, for good reason.  Salut….

Margaux de Brane 2014, Margaux, France

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A slightly dull purple in the glass, gives me concern.  On the nose however- violets, black currants, a touch of oak.  On the palate it is much darker- blackberry, cherry extract, graphite and singed oak.  There is a leather component too, it just comes along later, towards the mid palate.  The wine transitions very nicely with good tannic structure that is not obtrusive and acidic enough to balance. This is the third wine of Brane Cantenac, a Second Growth Margaux.  They use the young plots for source fruit, giving us an approachable young wine that drinks very nicely with good mouthfeel and medium term cellaring potential.  90 points from me for this $29 effort that gets 3 stars.  Drink now till 2024.  Salut….

Familia Blanco Mairena Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Mendoza, Argentina

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Pretty purple in the glass, quite opaque.  On the nose it is all blackberry.  The initial palate is black cherry, an awkward greenness and tar.  The mid palate offers much the same, with more vegetal notes than I care for.  This wine rates well with the pros at 90+ but I don’t get it.  The finish is sour, green, the tannins are astringent.  Not my cup of tea at all.  There might be some of you who enjoy austere wines, this one might be up your alley.  I’m going 86 points.  For $18, it is a pass from me but you may want to give it a try- 2 stars.  Drink now.  Salut….

Chapel Hill Parson’s Nose Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, McLaren Vale, Australia

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A deep purple wine with medium opacity.  On the nose it is lush, full of ripe plums, graced by a deft hand of oak and blackberries.  On the palate I get a more licorice and coffee initial attack.  The dark fruits appear on the mid palate.  There is not as much plum as I had been led to believe, but the juicy acidity makes me forget quickly.  The tannins are lithe, making this a drink-now wine.  The finish is more tart blueberry than blackberry.  Somewhat short in the backend.  A tasty wine that merits 88 points from me.  For $20 it gets 3 stars.  Drink till 2021 with some burgers, pizza or lasagna.  Salut….

Domaine Mazilly Pere and Fils Pommard Les Noizons 2011, Cote de Beaune, France

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Typical Pinot Noir in the glass, light, reddish, totally see through.  I can smell it from four feet away, the waft is amazing.  It’s rather young on the nose- cherries, mushroom, spruce.  On the initial palate it presents with loads of fine grained tannins.  The fruit comes later.  Cherry, strawberry, balsamic essence and cola hit me.  The mid palate is one-dimensional- sour bing cherry.  The tannins really grip on the finish and leave me with a very dry set of gums, almost painful- which is rare for me and Pinot.  The finish also shows off rhubarb, the sour kind.  The acidity presents itself in mysterious ways some times!  There is a uniqueness to this wine, I can’t pinpoint it.  Could it be the freshness of the acidity, the gushing amounts of tannin or the way it leaves my mouth feeling?  Anyways- I am enjoying it and will probably run some through the Vinturi to soften it a bit.  For now, 90 points and 4 stars for this $45 bottle.  Drink from 2022-2033.  Salut….

Campagnola ‘Giuseppe Campagnola’ Valpolicella Classico Ripasso 2016, Veneto, Italy

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Medium opacity purple, with a nice sheen in the glass.  The nose offers up bacon, plum paste, raisins and ……  On the palate I get nice round blackberry cobbler notes, bright acidity and very fine grained tannins.  If you know how Ripasso is made you would expect a bit more weight, extra flavor and a heavier mouthfeel.  This wine is a touch more refined, somewhat lighter and a bit fresher.  The mid palate has a nice cherry meets plum characteristic that feeds into the decent length finish.  The tannins taper off leaving a somewhat astringent mouthfeel right at the end.  It’s certainly interesting.  89 points and 3 stars for this $15 blend of Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella.  Drink till 2026.  Salut….