Chateau Leoville-Las Cases ‘Clos du Marquis’2006, Saint-Julien, France

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I have had the 2005 Close Du Marquis, twice.  This vintage is not as solid and lacks depth.  My Danish buddy brought it to our tasting and we saved it for the finale.  Unfortunately, the best was not saved for last- the best was the Pioneer Pinot that we tasted first.

Very dark and opaque in the glass.  The nose resonates with plums, Kirsch and Pepsi cola.  The palate has a definitive edge- plums, gripping tannins, acidity and pencil lead.  Cassis appears on the mid with a blue fruit and cedar component.  The finish is somewhat short, but pleasant with kirsch and cassis dominating while the  tannins recede.  89 points and for $55, 3 stars.  Salut….

Marques de Riscal Reserva 2014, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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I have a long history with Marques de Riscal.  I enjoy the wines and appreciate them for what they are.  This one is nearly black in the glass.  The nose is huge- lots of black berries, blue fruits and a wallop of charcoaled oak.  Violets and spice round it out.  On the palate it shows off black fruits, sassafras, vanilla and an oaky component.  Delicious but a touch of bitterness on the midpalate detracts.  Violets and blueberry really take over on the finish alongside medium tannins.  The bitterness is the only detractor that unbalances this otherwise delicious wine.  89 points and 4 stars for this $15 effort which is solidly produced and made from Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo.  Salut….

Quinta de Roriz Prazo de Roriz 2016, Douro, Portugal

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Medium intensity in the glass.  The nose is a bit funky, heavy on the oak and reeking of red fruits.  Not particularly my favorite profile btw.  The palate is very woody- raspberry and black cherry are the predominant flavors with a tart note to boot.  There is a greeness to the midpalate to go along with the medium tannins.  Acidity is decent and the wine balances on the finish.  It’s a bit disjointed initially but comes together on a decent length ending.  88 points and 3 stars for this $11 effort.  I may not purchase again as I don’t like the profile, some others may enjoy it though.  Touriga Naconal 38%, Tinta Barroca 26%, Tinta Roriz 20%, Touriga Franca 14%, Tinto Cao 2%.  Salut….

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctor’s Creek Pinot Noir 2016, Marlborough, New Zealand

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A couple of us met up and had a tasting of several nice wines.  We started with this Pinot Noir, building our way up to the Bordeaux by way of some Portuguese, South African and Spanish bottles.  Read on for the highlights!

Gorgeous purple- see through but clear.  The nose is heavy on the strawberry.  Nutmeg is present, spice box and vanilla bean round it out.  On the palate it is lush, light and layered.  Strawberry coulis mixed with cedar plank and cherry abound.  The mid palate exhibits a darker fruit component and more spices that I found on the nose.  The wine has a very nice acidity and the very lithe tannins only show up at the finale.  An excellent bottle that drinks beautifully now and will go on for another 5/7 years.  91 points for this Pinot and 5 stars.  It is a perennial favorite of mine and is consistent, year in and year out.  $20.  Salut….

Diseno Old Vine Malbec 2017, Mendoza, Argentina

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Slightly less opaque than what I was imagining for this Malbec.  Good color though.  The nose has a candy note, some fresh oak and some blackberries.  I’ll admit, the candy part does not appeal to my taste.  On the palate it is quite refreshing, light in body but thick in flavor.  Black berries, kirsch and bramble. There is a chewiness that I am enjoying.  This wine is very dark fruit forward.  Structure-wise it is built for immediate quaffing with very little tannic backbone, very gentle acidity and an easy mouthfeel.  It is not complex but offers easy enjoyment and gets 87 points from me.  For the price under $10 it’s a decent summer barbecue wine that I might take into the fall as an excellent part of coq au vin, even beef burgundy.  I think it would work quite well.  4 stars.  Salut….

Henschke Henry’s Seven 2013, Barossa, Australia

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Wow…. super dark and brooding.  I get nice, rich blackberry notes with coffee bean and vanilla extract on the nose.  The initial palate is thick with black fruit preserves, finely integrated tannins, chocolate powder and an oak hint.  The mid palate continues the theme but the tannins start to build.  By the finish my mouth is coated with caressing dryness and a blackberry meets tar note.  Intriguing.  I think this wine will open up with decanting and develop somewhat in the glass.  It is young and the potential for it to gain tertiary flavors is definitely there.  I would cellar for another 2-3 years and pair it with roast lamb all day long.  Delicious, powerful, well made and worthy of 92 points.  For $36 it is not an everyday wine, but it gets 5 stars from me.  Salut….

Koyle Royale Carmenere 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile

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Recently added to the local shop- I’m excited to try this Carmenere from Koyle.  I love their Syrah and Cabernet.  It’s nearly black in the glass and very opaque.  The nose gives off nice warm blueberry pie, oregano and violet notes.  It has a very extracted quality.  On the palate it is a touch austere with plums, blueberry and acidity that has a nice bite.  The midpalate is more juicy, the blue fruits turning red.  The acidity is countered on the back end with some greenish tannins.  As you might tell this wine is a bit disjointed, slightly green and probably needing some food.  I’m going 87 points and 2 stars for this $25 effort.  Drink now if you have any.  Salut….

Kirkland Signature Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2014, Tuscany, Italy

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The last of my Kirkland test wines….  Cherry nose with some fresh cut pine thrown in.  The palate continues the light cherry profile but adds mushroom and a crushed violet note.  Rose water comes to mind as we transition to the finish.  Overall, this is not a great wine point wise.  It lacks depth, the flavors are somewhat out there and the extraction is pretty thin.  I’m not sure I would buy again.  85 points and 2 stars for this $9 offering.  Salut….

Bodegas Balbas Reserva 2001, Ribera del Duero, Spain

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As you may know, we are moving.  Our last dinner gathering included two magnums that were still at the house.  I did not want to move them, so the opportunity to enjoy was present.  I did not take notes of the second bottle, the Perbrun- as I was hoping to do so the following day with what was left over.  Unfortunately, it was not as good as I had hoped and the leftovers had a ton of sediment.  It was originally $57 my price for the 2010 vintage.  Glad we started with the Spaniard!

Nearly black in the glass.  Nose is earthy, with tons of plums, black berry and violets.  The initial palate is very upfront with black, tarry fruit, ripe tannins, earth and a floral component.  The mid palate is quite dry, the tannins ruling the roost.  Eventually it transitions to a Ribena like finish with loads of rich black fruit.  Oak is present, but not overpowering.  It adds a vanilla dimension to the finish and smooths it out some. This wine is still in youth, 17 years after vintage.  It will last another 10 at least, mellowing out along the way.  93 points is what the pro’s gave this Tempranillo and I agree.  For the $40 entry fee it is a solid 4 star wine, but I am going to up it to 5 as I think this wine will evolve some more as it mellows.  I roasted two Beef Tri-tips for the pairing with an endive and frissee salad laced with Balsamic infused Shallots.  It was a grand last evening of fun in my beloved home.  Salut….

Delicious and young

Not quite as good

Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Alexander Valley, USA

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Some more Kirkland Signature wines are on the horizon in my search for value priced offerings.  This one cost $10.  It shows nicely in the glass with a see-through medium hued purple.  The nose is mostly plum with a hint of nutmeg.  The palate is very inviting, easy to drink and fresh.  Blue fruits dominate with a touch of tannic vibrancy that tickles the gums.  Acidity is present and the wine has a really nice balance.  The mid palate has a core of plum that carries through to the finish.  There’s not much complexity here, but it does serve the purpose.  This wine is great value for a Sonoma County Cabernet that drinks easily, will handle burgers, pizza and make an awesome coq au vin.  I would buy it up, serving all summer long out by the grill.  Drink till 2020.  89 points and 5 stars.  Salut….