Januik Red 2015, Columbia Valley, USA

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Bright purple.  The nose is fruity, vibrant and full of blackberry and black cherry.  On the palate- delicious rendition of dark berry compote meets vanilla bean and coffee reduction.  The wine exhibits some dryness with slight tannins appearing midpalate.  The dryness opens up on the finish and leaves the back cheeks somewhat astringent.  The mid plate concentrated on black fruits and the finish carries it through with some cedar plank to boot. 89 points and 4 stars for this $20 blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah and Franc.  Drink now with tapas, grilled Pork chops or pasta.  Salut….

The Ojai Vineyard Syrah 2016, Santa Barbara County, USA

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I have to remember that wine is very subjective, and what I like or dislike is often opposite of others.  This one is a perfect example of that.  It shows medium intensity in the glass.  The nose has that candied oak waft that I don’t like. The palate mirrored that profile so I just spilled the glass and moved on to the next wine bottle at the tasting.  A review of the web shows it available for $35.  Salut….

Bledsoe Family Winery ‘Flying B’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Walla Walla Valley, USA

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Number 4 in the line up, it followed a hard act.  This is Drew Bledsoe’s brand (NFL QB).

Medium opacity in the glass.  The nose starts off with a lot of wood.  I swirl and swirl to finally get violet, damson and stone.  On the palate it is quite young, bracingly tannic and somewhat shut down for business.  What I do coax out of it include plums, fir tree essence, mocha.  The finish is very dry and decent in length.  90 points is a decent score for this winery’s first vintage Cabernet Sauvignon.  At $60 it’s a step up from everyday drinking wines, but it gets a decent 90 points from me and 4 stars.  I would cellar it for a while and drink from 2020-2037.  Pair it with some hearty grilled meats, Venison or even Osso Bucco.  Salut….

The Terraces Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley, USA

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The third wine in my Cali tasting adventure, and one that I returned to the store to re-try.  It was that good.

Rich, brooding purple in the glass.  Thick plum jam and spicy oak open up the nose.  On the palate it is unctuous and full of blackberry reduction, vanilla, espresso and violet.  Svelte tannins steer this wine to the delightful finish that is surprisingly short.  90 points. After a second try- 91 points.  The nose is simply amazing.  This is quintiscential Napa Cabernet, basking in the sun, ripening to perfection and then crafted into such a delectable drop.  $65 makes it a pricy bottle, until you factor in the Napa appellation and quality.  4 stars and I would drink it alone.  No pairing needed.  Drink now till 2025.  Salut….

Arista Pinot Noir 2015, Russian River Valley, USA

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The second bottle at the wine shop tasting….  unfortunately not a good sample.

A dark red in the glass, more serious for a Pinot Noir.  The nose is off as the wine has been open too long- however…. the palate offers a much richer expression of dark red fruits and cinnamon.  No rating as it would not reflect well.  However, a search on the web shows it available for $60 and gets decent 90+ scores.  Salut….

Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016, California, USA

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I stepped into a wine store in Cali where they had an extensive list of wines available to taste.  I took the opportunity to do so, but my notes were rushed and very brief, please bear with me.

Very new world Pinot Noir on the nose- strawberry, cherry.  Very light on the palate but tasty with red fruits, very lithe and fresh. There is a tartness that presents itself on the medium length finish that I am enjoying.  89 points from me for this $34 offering make it a 3 star wine to drink now through 2021.  Salut….

Famille Perrin Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Sinards 2015, Rhone, France

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Medium opacity with a lighter purple hue.  On the nose it screams black currants with some bacon fat and oregano.  There is a hint of forest floor at the back end of the nose.  On the palate – berries, medium intensity tannins, tea and olives.  The wine transitions nicely to the mid palate with the tannins providing a nice dryness to the mouthfeel.  The flavors are consistent through to the finish where I also get some licorice.  The balance is nice for a wine that is made for medium term drinking.  Perfect for a game dish, even a seasoned Cornish Hen.  Drink now till 2033.  91 points and 4 stars for this $34 blend of mainly Grenache mixed with Syrah and Mouvedre.  Salut….

Baer Winery Arctos 2013, Columbia Valley, USA

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Very dark in the glass, somewhat murky.  The nose is lush with plums, eucalyptus, bramble and fir tree.  On the palate it echoes the flavors with delicious purple plum paste and fresh earthy herbs.  A green note pops up on the mid palate which gives a bit of pique.  The tannins are well integrated and the acidity shines through at the end.   Green bitterness hits right on the back end which detracted me for a sec.  I love the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (84%) with the rest equal parts Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  The greenness I’m guessing is from the Verdot.  Overall a very delicious, layered wine that drinks well now through 2022.  90 points and 4 stars for this $40 effort.  Salut….

Francis Ford Coppola Director’s ‘King Kong’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, California, USA

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Rich plums and thick oak staves fill the nose on this nearly black wine.  On the palate I get delicious black berries, lush dark currants and a tar component.  I’m trying hard to pinpoint the missing flavor, could it be coffee?  Tannins are present but not obtrusive, with dark fruits and more wood present on the mdi to back end.  90 points and 5 stars for this uniquely labelled Cab that runs about $18.  Salut….

Hall Wines Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley, USA

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Just looking at it I see a brooding monster.  It is nearly black, fully opaque and taunting me. The nose is – wow.  

Black cherry, plum jam, black currant and sassafras.  The initial palate is thick with dark fruit compote, plum ganache, luscious oak and tannins that are en pointe.  Plums really come out on the mid palate alongside a cedar shake note.  The tannins start to grip and by the time I get to the finish they have me licking my gums.  The dryness lingers forever and my teeth feel gritty- I’m loving it.  This is a delightful sensation in the wine appreciation sense.

The finish, dry as hell, also features a mint meets eucalyptus oil note which I find intriguing.  This is a delicious, structured wine that will cellar for the mid term but is drinkable now if you like some bite.  91 points and 4 stars for this $60 effort.  If you like sunny Napa fruit and bold Cabs, this one is for you.  Serve with a juicy steak or a roasted leg of Lamb.  Salut….