Yalumba Triangle Block Shiraz – Viognier 2013, Eden Valley, Australia

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Wow, this is one bright purple wine, it almost looks like Ribena.  The nose offers up gorgeous aromas of black cherry, blackberry, a hint of oak and some figs.  On the palate it is very smooth with blackberry notes, a sour cherry kicker, some tobacco and smoke.  The wine reminds me of Lapsang Souchong tea- smoky and earthy yet somehow mild and alluring.  An acquired taste for sure.  The wine have very integrated tannins and relatively low acidity.  I would drink now till 2020 and pair with lighter fare.  It begs for Moussaka, roast chicken or even a thick Reuben sandwich.  90 points and 4 stars for this $22 effort.  Salut….

Alamos High Altitude Seleccion Malbec 2015, Mendoza, Argentina

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Dark purple, barely see through.  The nose is somewhat candied, purple licorice, plum cake and Christmas pudding.  On the palate it shows off much more pleasant notes of black currants, iodine and fruit cake.  The mid palate is quite abrupt as are the mild tannins that permeate.  The finish is not as smooth as the front half and lacks any acidity.  Overall this is a pleasant wine that gets 87 points. The pro’s went much higher, 91 points in one case.  I just did not get the same level of satisfaction unfortunately.  $18 make it a 3 point wine for me.  Salut….

Charles Smith Wines ‘The Velvet Devil’ Merlot 2015, Washington, USA

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If you read my post about the Eve Chardonnay, you will know I am a fan of Charles Smith Wines.  I couldn’t help myself and bought this Merlot for the tasing.

It appears as a very light purple with low opacity.  The nose gives off candied plum, not my favorite profile mind you.  There’s a bit of oak in there as well.  I am leery going in for the first sip.

All is good- it is a decent wine, not overly oaked and offering ripe tannins, juicy acidity and plums galore.  I get Blackberry on the mid palate transition after the initial plum injection.  The wine is somewhat one dimensional but it will appeal to many for its smoothness and bracing tannins.  The dryness is great if you are into that kinda thing.  Overall, refreshing and tasty.  An easy going wine that will do well with grilled New York Strip, perhaps a hearty baked ziti.  I paid a mere $11 for it and am going with 89 points and 4 stars.  You may want to sit on a few bottles until 2019 to see how they develop.  Salut….

Charles Smith Wines ‘Eve’ Chardonnay 2015, Columbia Valley, USA

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I am a fan of this winery.  They produce good quality wine that is fairly priced.  Always a go to in a pinch.  I just ordered a bunch for my folks in Florida, they loved the variety that I sent.

This Chardonnay is from Washington state.  It exhibits a bright yellow color and offers a nose of apples, pear, a hint of almond.  On the palate I get a really creamy mouthfeel with green apple, Bartlett pears and more nuttiness.  The flavor profile continues throughout the mid palate and ends up on the finish with some very faint acidity.  A very generous and inviting wine, it is really easy to drink and fits the bill when you don’t want something too steely, loaded with minerality or overly tart with acidity.  This wine will drink well with Lobster!  I think it also could pair nicely with white pizza, fettuccine Alfredo and stuffed Portabello.  Drink now as it doesn’t have the stuffing to go for cellaring.  90 points from me and for $12 this is a super amazing 5 star wine.  Buy it by the case.  Salut….

Tenoira Gayoso ‘Tenoira’ Tinto 2104, Bierzo, Spain

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The Mencia grape, grown in Spain primarily, yields fresh early drinking wines. They say it is a fragrant varietal that mimics Cabernet Franc, which I love.  This particular wine is indeed aromatic, but not in a very fruity way, it kinda stinks to be honest.  I cannot pinpoint the aroma, but it smells like wet socks.  I fear for the worst- TCA, which is a cork taint.  It is harmless, theoretically.  The wine itself is decent, showing off red fruits including raspberry, red currants and some slate.  The wine is steely, as in no oak.  It has a nice minerality and shows the red fruit streak throughout.  It is easy drinking and not built for the long haul.  What it lacks in tannic structure, it makes up for freshness.  The acidity is but a hint.  This wine will pair nicely with pizza, grilled lamb chops with mint sauce, or even Chorizo.  I am going 88 points on this corked wine and hope you all get a better example.  For $13, it is a potential steal but for now, 3 stars.  Salut….

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

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I really loved the 2010 Campogiovanni when I drank it last year.  So much so that I bought six bottles of the 2012 on spec.  It got great ratings (96 WS), was priced right at $45 and delivered free.

This one shows a slight orange tinge when I poured it, which is unusual for such a young wine.  The nose is cherry, earthy funk, mushroom, oak and a trace of truffle.  On the palate it shows primal fruit flavors of cherry, leather, gorgeous tannins and a juiciness from the impeccably balanced acidity.  The tannins deserve a sentence of their own- fine grained, discrete at the beginning, working themselves squarely into the mid palate and reaching a crescendo on the finish.  Not mouth puckering, but certainly apparent, very lithe yet powerful.  They hold the wine together nicely.  The finish has an oak hint to go along with the cherry and game notes.  This wine is very young, and holds promise for many years of cellaring that will help it develop secondary notes, maturing into a great Brunello.  I can’t wait to taste the evolution, perhaps starting in 2020.  I will have to go with 93 points right now and 5 stars.  Tonight’s pairing is with a Beef Pot Roast, bathed in Petite Sirah and braised for 6 hours.  Salut….

Herdade do Esporao 4 Quatro Castas 2015, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal

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In my continued quest to to discover Portuguese wines, I have come across this $14 effort that piqued my interest.  It is an equal blend of Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Syrah and Alicante Bouschet.  My first hint is the 14.5% alcohol.  The second is the deep, dark purple color in the glass.  Both, to me, indicate an extracted, powerful wine that will grab me and not let go.  I’m ready for it.

On the nose, I get the telltale Syrah notes- Plum, oak, cocoa.  The wine has amazing ‘legs’ indicative of the alcohol content.  The initial taste is as predicted, full on, powerful and alluring.  The wine starts off with black berry, black currants and a delightful set of tannins that prop the wine up rather than detract from the fruit.  The mid palate shows off more dark fruit and some earthiness.  Tannic structure is great and they start to peak on the finish where menthol and anise flavors intertwine with berries.  I am digging this wine and like the flavor profile.  It has the correct structure to age for 2-5 years and is drinking well now if you like them a touch dry.  I have to go 90 points and 5 stars for this wine.  Salut….

Newton Vineyard Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Napa Valley, USA

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Medium dark purple in the glass.  Plum, cassis, blackcurrant on the nose.  On the palate- great integration of dark purple fruits, oak, tannins and some cocoa dust. The midpalate is very concentrated on the plum core, relinquishing nothing to the structure and concentrating mainly on the fruit.  The wine is definitely Napa in flavor, full of sunshine, fresh tannins and plum flavors.  It reeks of new world boldness, extraction and does not shy away from its 14.5% alcohol (which is well hidden)  The acidity is somewhat muted but present nonetheless.  This wine is ready to drink now and has some cellaring potential- albeit not long term.  89 points and 3 stars for its $52 price point.  Salut….

Koyle Royale Syrah 2015, Colchagua Valley, Chile

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Dark yet opaque purple in the glass.  The nose is lush with blueberry, coffee, cedar. The palate is delicious- meaty, with blue fruits, crunchy tannins and a cutting acidity.  The midpalate incorporates some black currant and smoke with the blueberries.  The tannins, omnipresent are really gripping at this point.  They don’t surrender, dominating the finish which has remnants of blue fruits and a charred oak note.  I like it.  90 points and 5 stars for this $20 effort.  Salut….

Gundlach-Bundschu Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Sonoma Valley, USA

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From Sonoma, a Cabernet I have heard of but never tried.  Purply and dark in the glass it shows promise of power and extraction.  On the nose I get cassis, blackberry, ripe oak and a funk I hate to think might be cork taint.   The wine itself tastes a little off.  I get blackberry essence, ink, crunchy tannins and a hit of toasty oak.  The mid palate has a really defined tannic dryness that I am enjoying.  More black fruits come around for the finish as well as some espresso, cocoa powder and the omnipresent tannins.  They really are persistent.  Overall I think this wine has good potential and will cellar well, my only concern is with this particular bottle.  I have been lucky not to have many corked bottles over the years, but it happens every once in a while.  Technically speaking this one is an 86 point wine but has the potential to rise to 91 if it were not faulty.  A shame really for this $43 effort.  I’ll go with 4 stars as a compromise.  Think steaks, au gratin and creamed spinach for a pairing. Salut….