Cameron Hughes Lot 625 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Yountville, California

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Medium shade of purple and semi-opaque in the glass.  The nose offers up strawberry and raspberry notes alongside sweet bramble, perhaps even honeysuckle.  It’s a pleasing nose for sure.  The palate is very sprite, unlike some Napa Cabs that are full throttle- this one is more seductive in its approach.  Sweet blackberry versus the red notes I got on the nose are intriguing.  There is a violet and damson streak as well.  The tannins creep in on the midpalate and I taste some charcoal as well.  More plums and a touch of acidity round it out.  The finish is quite dry but not cloying.  I am enjoying the mouthfeel and look forward to pairing it with peach baked Beef Brisket.  The acidity is going to be a good cut for the sweetness of the dish.  I am enjoying this wine and think it will cellar nicely till 2025.  90 point and 4 stars for this $24 Cab.  Salut….

Cameron Hughes Lot 696 Pinot Noir 2017, Chehalem Mountains, Oregon

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Typical for Pinot- this wine is reddish in color and see through. On the nose it’s very fruity, strawberry and cherry.  On the palate is has a sour cherry note as well as cola.  The sourness is refreshing and accentuates the cherry theme.  The mid palate is much the same and the finish gets a crescendo of the sour cherry component.  It’s a bit gritty though, and my teeth are a little tinged.  It’s a nice length that tapers off.  I’m enjoying this wine and would pair it with roast Duck, perhaps a pasta casserole.  I’m going 89 points on this $20 Pinot.  3 stars- drink till 2027.  Salut….

Ruta 22 Malbec 2019, Patagonia, Argentina

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Semi opaque, medium purple in the glass.  On the nose I get dark plum jam, espresso bean and blackberries.  On the palate it is vibrant with blackberries and orange peel.  The mid palate is juicy, with more black fruits and licorice.  There is just a smidge of tannins which is fine with me, I’m happy to enjoy primal fruits without a cloying astringency.  This fact does however shorten the cellaring capacity to just 5 years in my opinion.  88 points and 3 stars for this $10 quaffer that you can drink til 2025.  Salut….

Refugio Ranch Petite Sirah 2016, Santa Ynez Valley, USA

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Dark and dense, totally opaque.  The nose gives me blackberry jam, florals, cinnamon, but just a touch.  On the palate it’s as rich as it smells.  Full throttle with the black fruits, a touch of sour black cherry and a definitive tea component.  There is an upfront astringency that goes head to head with a brisk acidity.  Somewhat overpowering but balanced. The midpalate is all about the to-and-fro with these two components.  The finish is really juicy, black fruited and tannic.  Petite Sirah is typical of these notes.  90 points and 4 stars for this $40 wine.  Pair with Moussaka or Bangers and Mash and drink till 2025.  Salut….

Castello di Amorosa Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Napa Valley, USA

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Very dark purple and opaque AF.  The nose is vibrant with black currant, berries and coconut.  The palate is rich and fruit-forward with gobs of black fruit, lapsang souchong tea, a touch of licorice and some juicy acidity.  Tannins start to appear on the mid palate and they caress the mouth to a nice full finish of more black fruits, spice box and a touch of leather.  It’s a really nice mouthfeel, lasting a good 30-40 seconds.  I’m digging this wine and have some lamb tenderloins I will grill up to pair.  Drink till 2028. 91 points and 4 stars for this $58 offering.  Salut….

Joel Gott Wines 815 Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, California, USA

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Semi opaque in the glass.  The nose is straight up Napa sunshine.  Black currants galore, like Ribena.  Licorice and cola are present to a degree.  On the palate it’s as expected- rich, warm blackcurrants, lithe tannins, juicy acidity and some star anise.  The iodine comes back alongside Maduro with blackberry jam on the midpalate.  The structure of this wine is decent, the tannins are of medium intensity and the acidity is in check.  The finish ends on a dry note of black tea, blackberry and more iodine.  Quite tasty and worthy of 90 points.  Drink till 2027 with charcuterie or a marbled steak.  $14 and 5 stars.  Salut….

Chateau Pelan Bellevue 2016, Cotes de Bordeaux Francs, France

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I did not make notes on the first night, palate fatigue…On night two- it’s a rich purple and opaque.  On the nose it’s very earthy with notes of tobacco, iodine and blackberry.  On the palate it is very interesting- the uniqueness of the secondary flavors piques my interest.  Black cherries come out along with very concise tannins.  There’s a touch of astringency on the midpalate that I’m willing to overlook- the wine is multilayered enough for me to concentrate on the other facets.  It’s interesting, of decent quality and intriguing.  The finish leaves me with a desire for another mouthful.  89 points 5 stars for this $14 Merlot/Cab/Franc blend.  Drink till 2026.  Salut….

Chateau du Grand Chambellan 2016, Lalande-de-Pomerol, France

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I took my buddy Jimbo out to a French bistro in Montreal.  This was the wine I ordered, and it was good.  Dark purple in the glass.  The glass is somewhat small so I’m having a hard time coaxing the nose.  I finally get bright purple fruit- plums, some star anise and espresso.  On the palate it is fresh, tannic, raw with plum and blackberry notes alongside licorice.  The tannins are gripping, fresh and really crisp.  They hold the wine in check and make for a good cellaring potential.  The purple fruit notes continue and the finish is a nice dry affair with some charred wood appearing at the medium length end.  I’m really enjoying it- 91 points.  I paid CAD$100 for this Merlot blend at the restaurant, no other wine prices are available but if it runs $25-30 USD then it’s a 4 to 5 star effort.  Drink till 2028 with Hanger steak (duh).  Salut….

Inniskillin Pinot Noir Niagara Peninsula 2018, Canada

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I drank an Inniskillin Pinot last summer that blew my socks off.  I wanted to find it again on a recent trip to Montreal.  This was the best the shop had.  See through, medium purple.  Strawberry ganache and cherry on the nose.  The palate- I get sour cherry, charcoal and earthiness.  The mid palate is focused, cherry and rhubarb.  On the finish it’s rather short but tannins emerge to round it out.  89 points and a little underwhelming considering the hype I built over the other bottle.  $14 makes it a 3 star effort to drink till 2026.  Salut….

PS. Stock photo as I forgot to take one

Atrevida Malbec 2018, Medoza, Argentina

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Semi opaque, lighter shade of purple in the glass with no legs evident.  The nose is very fruity and dare I say somewhat candied?  Raspberries and red twizzlers come to mind.  On the palate it’s a touch sour right off the bat.  Rhubarb, raspberries and other red fruits get melded into a somewhat acidic opening.  The mid palate is a touch thin for me, more red fruits and a hint of tannins.  The finish is where the acidity grips my tooth enamel alongside the very lithe tannins.  There’s a tug of war here between the structural pieces and the red primal fruits.  I hope the fruit puts on a better effort because the wine is a little light on flavor and heavy on acid.  It gets better with a bit of air and I hope it pairs well with leftover beef and wild rice.  87 points.  For $11, its a 3 star wine to drink till 2023.  Salut….