La Rioja Alta S.A. Vina Alberdi Reserva 2016, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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Medium garnet colored, this Tempranillo has trademark aromas of leather, earthy dust, ripe blackberry, rich plum, vanilla, black cherry jam and charred wood.  The palate is dry with medium acidity and grippy tannins that coat my mouth.  The fruit is ripe and the wine is full bodied.  Black fruit flavors wrapped in a cloak of oak nuance with some signs of tertiary development make for a delicious wine.  I paid $19 for this stunning 92 pointer that gets 5 stars.  I would pair it with grilled Hangar steak and sweet potato fries.  I think this balanced and structured wine will drink well until 2030 at the least.  Salut….

Chateau d’Yquem 2010, Sauternes, France

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There’s dessert wines and then there is Chateau d’Yquem.  Head and shoulders above the rest it is the only Supérieur Premier Cru in the region.  This botrytised wine was still very young but we got exactly what we wanted out of it-

Deep gold colored. Honey, apricot, lemon marmalade, orange preserves, white blossom, nuts, super sweet with medium (+) acidity.  Full bodied. Youthful, long finish. 96 points

A pretty basic write up, but when you are sipping this stunner with chocolate lava cake it’s hard to divert too much attention to making assessments.  An amazing wine to savor with friends for the next 30 years or so.  I have to agree with the pros, this is at least a 96 point wine that gets 5 stars.  Salut….

Chateau Montelena ‘The Montelena Estate’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Napa Valley, California

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An iconic Napa Cabernet that we drank with monster Tomahawk steaks.  This inky colored wine is beautiful to look at and even better to drink.  Aromas and flavors of Iodine, black fruit (blackcurrant, blackberry, plum, bramble), dust, menthol, eucalyptus.  Seriously complex and intriguing.  The palate is smooth- medium acidity, fine grained tannins that are fully integrated, full bodied with great mouthfeel and a long finish.  What a stunning wine that is en pointe and will continue to develop for several more years.  93 points for this $130 effort makes it 5 star worthy.  Salut….

San Felice Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012, Tuscany, Italy

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I have been following the progress of this Sangiovese for a few years now and really enjoyed it alongside charcuterie prior to dinner.  I didn’t take notes, only mental observations.  It is now mature, with high acidity and melded tannins.  The red fruit is joined by leather, rose, cigar box and maduro.  Medium bodied, it drinks nicely to a medium finish.  You can read about my last tasting here.  I’m sticking with the 93 points previously given.  It runs $50 now which is still a good deal for well made Brunello.  5 stars.  Drink till 2030.  Salut….

 

Chateau Lynch-Bages 2000, Pauillac, France

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We are moving next month and wanted to have a special dinner with close friends- this was the opener.  My last sampling of the 2000 Lynch Bages was 4 years ago.  It has developed further and is fully mature now.  Moxie said it was the best wine she has ever tasted.  A Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

A very light bricking on the rim gives clues to this wine’s age.  The nose is a complex melding of tertiary notes alongside some fruit and oak nuance.  Leather, tobacco, cassis, cedar box, cooked blackberry, prunes, fig and a touch of caramel.  On the palate this wine is so smooth- medium (+) acidity has kept it in fine shape alongside very fine grained tannins that are fully integrated at this point.  Medium bodied, the flavors have a medium intensity- it’s about finesse with this wine.  A long finish shows off its pedigree.  Simply stunning and a pleasure to drink after so long in the cellar.  It’s average price hovers around $450 now, jaw dropping I know.  I’m sticking with my original 96 point score.  It’s only fair to give this wine 5 stars.  Drink till 2027.  Salut….

Glatzer Zweigelt Carnuntum Cuvée 2019, Austria

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We went out to a fancy new restaurant (Lark) where the suggestion was to order several appetizers, some pasta dishes and finish with a main course.  We shared everything so there was a cornucopia of flavors ranging from grilled Octopus, salad, Gnocco with Ricotta and Parma, Raviolis and my Duck breast.  Such a varied range of food requires an open mind to wine choices.  Zweigelt, being a fairly light bodied wine with fresh red fruit and low tannins was the perfect match.  This Austrian varietal was developed as a crossing between Bläufrankish and St. Laurent.  This particular bottle was smooth with medium (-) tannins, medium acidity and light to medium body. Red fruit driven with tons of cherry, some red currant and a spice box note. As I drank this wine I also noted earth and leather notes. With a medium length finish this easy-drinking wine was delicious and complemented the meal to the T.  At retail it’s a $15 wine that gets 89 points from me.  I would probably not sit on it for long as it has a great freshness and lacks sufficient structure to cellar.  4 stars- pair with lighter dishes and white meats.  Salut….

Donne Fittipaldi Bolgheri 2015, Tuscany, Italy


It’s not often you see a wine that states it is Unfiltered- you would never tell by looking at this deep ruby blend of Cab Sav, Merlot and Cab Franc.  The nose is a bit muted but I get red cherries, cinnamon, pomegranate, black plum, mint and some dried herbs.  On the palate it is dry with firm tannins.  The wine has more of a dark fruited flavor profile- plums, slightly underripe blackberry, a herbaceous green pepper note and mint.  The dried herbs are in there, just overshadowed by the gritty tannins.  Medium to full bodied it has a flare of heat that unbalances the wine.  It finishes quite astringent after a short period.  At 7 years of age I don’t think it is going to evolve much more and needs to be drunk soon.  It gets 87 points from me at at $20- 3 stars.  Perhaps a rich, red sauced pasta or pizza?  Salut….

Albert Morot Beaune Bressandes 2019, Beaune Premier Cru, France

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Every so often I get thrown a curveball.  This Burgundian Pinot Noir was tasted blind at my WSET class.  I barely passed the assessment.  This 92 point wine was not at all what I tasted- bottle variation?  Storage issues?  Did the invigilator know this was a $60 Premiere Cru and made his mind up with that knowledge?  Who knows.  My notes are pretty consistent with the majority of the class.  This wine is medium ruby colored with medium (-) intensity aromas of red currant, raspberry, red cherry, pomegranate and red plum.  I called it simple.  On the palate it is dry with medium acidity, medium (-) tannins, medium body and high alcohol.  I got medium (-) intensity flavors of the above descriptors and found the wine to have a short finish.  I marked it as being of acceptable quality with a drink now recommendation.  In my world this is barely an 85 pointer and for the cash- 1 star.  It was a real disappointment to find out it had such pedigree yet did not deliver.  I almost want to buy a bottle and have another industry pro blind taste it to confirm my suspicions- but why waste $60?  Major pass.  Salut…

Bodegas Balbas Ardal Seleccion Especial Reserva 2012, Ribera del Duero, Spain

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This blend of Tempranillo and Cab Sav is nearly opaque with a bright purple color.  On the nose I get rich black plum, dusty earth, blackberry, vanilla, baking spices, menthol, some farmyard funk and bramble.  The palate is dry, quite tannic and high in acidity.  I love Spanish Tempranillo- it has such an earthy, dusty, brambly component and they throw a good bit of oak at this level (Reserva) which adds dimension, complexity and flavors/aromas of vanilla, baking spices and toast.  The black fruit is ripe and juicy- the Cabernet adding richness and grip.  The body is full and the finish is medium to long in length.  Structurally- this wine is a baby and needs some cellaring unless you like them searingly dry and astringent.  There is plenty of fruit to last a while and the whole package should drink beautifully until 2032 at the least.  I am going with 93 points and for $40 this is a 5 star effort.  Salut….

Clarendon Hills Grenache ‘Clarendon’ 2011, McLaren Vale, Australia

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I recently tasted the 2009 Clarendon Grenache and loved it.  I hope this newer bottling is as good!  Deep garnet in the glass with medium intensity aromas of raspberry, dried sage, black cherry, dust, charred wood, coffee, blueberry jam and vanilla.  The palate is dry with medium (+) acidity and bracing tannins.  A full body with medium (+) intensity flavors of red fruit, oaky coffee, vanilla and charred wood along with some steeped blue fruit and rustic dust.  The finish is a dry, short to medium length affair that hones in on the charcoal and black cherry notes.  Overall, not as good as the ’09- it gets 91 points from me with a drinking window till 2028.  I give this $45 wine 4 stars.  Salut….