Marques de Caceres Crianza 2007, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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If you read my previous post on the Guillaume Pinot Noir, this Rioja is the second bottle we tasted. Like the Pinot, this one has suffered some severe cork damage to the point where I had to drain the wine through a hole in the middle of the cork and filter it into a decanter. Having said that it’s drinking beautifully and is full of tertiary flavors with a little bit of primal fruit left alongside fully melded tannins. Leather, game, steeped plum and cinnamon stick are all present. Typical for Rioja Tempranillo this one has a dusty component to go alongside the flavors of dried fruit and sage. I love Crianza’s from Spain, the oak influence is always well done and delicious. This brand is always consistent with a good reason; decently priced wines that apparently have good cellaring capacity even if stored incorrectly. 90 points for this $12 bottle make it an absolute steal. Salut….

Vignoble Guillaume Pinot Noir 2009, IGP Franche-Comte, France

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My friend Arty was tidying up her office last week and stumbled upon three bottles of wine that had been left over from various functions. They were all standing upright and at least 8-14 years old. I promised to dispose of them for her, so last night we sampled two of the three. I started out with this Pinot Noir from France. The bottle suffered from severe cork failure. However- this entry level Pinot is actually holding up quite well in the glass. It is showing a touch of bricking, a Garnet color and it’s see-through with a bit of sediment. The nose gives me stewed plums, cherries and strawberry. There is a hay component that I’m finding very interesting but it’s mostly cooked fruit which signifies it’s plateau of maturity. The tannins are fully integrated at this point and there is a modicum of acidity that gives me a little bite at the finish. I’m surprised this one has made it so long but it’s a drink now situation. Overall 91 points and kudos to the winemaker for crafting such a pleasurable mature Vin de Pays. Surprisingly it only runs 12.5% abv, a relative lightweight! Newer vintages will cost $18, making this wine a steal worthy of 5 stars. Salut….

Sunwine Tsinandali 2018, Georgia

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I have a story about Georgian wine, I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say it involved AK47’s, Playboy magazines, a gallon of Georgian wine, some local fruit and of course- a 4-engined jet. Those of you who know me will have to bring a bottle of really good stuff over, I will regale you with the juicy bits.

So- when I saw this white blend of 80% Rkatsiteli and 20% Mtsvane I had to give it a try, it was only $14. It is pale lemon colored and has a very unique nose of tropical fruits, like passion fruit and pineapple. Lemon zest and green apple complement the primary flavors. The palate is off-dry with medium acidity and low alcohol. Flavors of the tropics are very present- pineapple, passion fruit and kiwi. The citrus and apple notes fading whilst some floral tones appear. It’s a very interesting profile. The acidity is not cutting yet the wine is not flabby- just right in balance with great mouthfeel. It’s got an ever so slight hint of green almond on the back end that gives it a touch of bitterness but overall, a very tasty drop. I’m grilling chicken breast with wild rice, thinking the pairing will work very well. I’m excited about this new find and will look forward to the next two bottles of Georgian wine I have on the ‘bench’, a red and white. Until then, expand your own palates and explore the world’s regions. 88 points and 4 stars. Salut….

Stefano di Blasi IGT Toscana Gold 2019, Tuscany, Italy

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It’s pizza night- an Italian wine is in order. This Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Cab Sav and Merlot is pale purple in the glass. The nose is of medium (+) intensity with strawberry, rhubarb, cherry cola, blackberry and woodsy spice. On the palate it is off-dry, brimming with those red/black fruit notes and medium (+) tannins that caress the gums. The wine has a nice acidity that is just enough to balance out the structure. I am enjoying the primary fruit flavors of this drop and it’s mid weight body. The mouthfeel, albeit a touch tannic, is really nice and refreshing. It’s going to rock my pepperoni pie. The finish is of decent length and leaves a good impression. This wine is drinking nicely now and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. At $15, I got a great deal and I’m going with 90 points. 5 stars in my book. Salut….

Pedro Rodriguez e Hijos ‘Mil Pesetas’ Amontillado Sherry, Andalucia, Spain

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Moxie and I had a bottle of Cream Sherry recently and really enjoyed it. I then bought six different styles of Sherry made by the same producer to do a cross sectional tasting of the various versions. Keep in mind that this stuff starts out as a white wine. I have had to re-taste it 3 times as it has really confused me.

Pale amber and see through.  Smells like Christmas pudding with brandy butter. Raisins, cooked cherries, walnuts and bitter almond. The palate is not at all what we expected- thin, lacking any tannins, very little depth of flavor but gobs of acid.  Green un-ripe almonds, bitter citrus and yeast are what I get on the palate. The finish is a touch better with some refreshing bitter lemon notes. This is not my style by any stretch, but I am here to expand my palate, even if I don’t like something. I will pass judgment on this $16 bottle (per 500ml). Not sure what I would pair it with either. Salut….

Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Maipo Valley, Chile

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I’m grilling some Picanha and Argentinian sausages on the Weber tonight so I figured a South American Cab would work well. I have not had any of this winery’s offerings for a while, perhaps 20 years. I’m excited to revisit. In the glass it is deep purple, opaque to be sure. The nose has a slight candied note but I also get gobs of black currants, oak and mint. The palate is fruity and dry with black currant, blackberry, mint, smoky oak and delightful tannins. The body is medium to full with a crisp mouthfeel- the tannins quite young and impressive. They really coat the gums but are not overly astringent. Good acidity balances them out on the back end and the finish is medium in length. The fruit persists as long as the tannins do which is a good thing, earning a point or two here and there. Whilst still young, it will drink nicely if you need a dry wine, but will cellar well till 2026. 90 points from me for this $17 effort make it a 5 star wine in my books. Salut….

Viña Mayor Reserva 2013, Ribera del Duero, Spain

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I was in my local wine shop the other day and came across this aged Tempranillo in the clearance section- for $ 23. I couldn’t pass it up, a Reserva FFS. In the glass it is slightly hazy, but a deep shade of ruby that I can barely see through. The nose is classic Spain- brambly with ink, huckleberry, sweet blackberry, smoky oak and a dusty component. The palate is a touch dry right off the bat, the tannins never got the message to settle down after 8 years. It’s a full onslaught, drying the gums and overpowering the fruit initially. I finally work my way through the astringent quagmire and start to enjoy the black and blue fruits. The tertiary notes are starting to appear with some leather, charcoal and black tea developing on the mid palate. The finish is a really dry affair with the tannic grip almost too much. I pity the fool who doesn’t like ’em dry. There is a decent acidic component but it is overcome by the tannic structure, a little out of balance methinks. This medium weight wine will pair (begs for) a fatty cut of meat, think Ribeye or Lamb chops. I would consider cellaring some for a while to allow the wine to mature even more, say till 2028. Right now the balance concerns me a bit and it will detract from the scoring, I would hope it softens over time. 89 points and 3 stars. Salut….

Gemtree Vineyards ‘Uncut’ Shiraz 2018, McLaren Vale, Australia

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I was reading about Biodynamic farming today in my wine course so naturally I was tempted to try one. This particular wine is an Aussie Shiraz from McLaren Vale that runs 14.5% ABV, typical. They like to wring the heck out of the juice downunda. It shows in the glass- deep purple with big tears. The nose has rich plum, bakers spice, blackcurrant and a whiff of the heat. On the palate it reverberates the dark fruit theme with spiciness alongside chocolate powder hints. It is opulent yet not overly jammy, as can be the case too often in Shiraz. The mouthfeel is very round and warm, the alcohol noticeable on the mid-palate. There are some lithe tannins and a modicum of acidity – very balanced in my opinion, even if on a smaller scale. The finish is short to medium and certainly fruit forward, it’s nice. This wine will drink nicely till 2026 and pair well with roasted meats. 89 points from me and at $18 per bottle, its gets 3 stars. Salut….

Teuta Warrior Queen of the Illyrians Blatina Reserve 2011, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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I’m excited to try this wine- made from Blatina which is a grape varietal that is new to me, plus the label and name are too cool. It has a bit of age to it as can be seen from the pale tawny color. The nose is stupendous. Literally knocking my nostrils off. It’s hard to describe, but I smell Chateau Musar in this wine. Game, steeped red fruits, fig paste, and blueberry ganache. I’m excited to taste. The palate is very unique with mulberry, oak notes, red currant jam and that game note I got earlier. Very integrated tannins are a delight and the wine has a juicy tendency from the medium acidity. It is a lighter weight drop and low in alcohol at 13%ABV. Silky, seductive and layered with primary, secondary and tertiary flavors- this is delicious stuff. The finish is long and I am enjoying the tartness quite a bit. It really does remind me of Musar, a lot. At 10 years of age it is maturing nicely but still has some more in it- I would say 2027. I am roasting up a Tri-Tip on the Weber, with a side of Rösti potatoes and leeks plus baked Prosciutto-wrapped Cauliflower. I think this wine will hold up to the cut of beef plus the sides quite nicely. All things considered I give this wine 91+ points and for the $40 price point it gets 5 stars. I think I may stock up a few bottles. Salut….

Marques de Casa Concha Merlot 2015, Peumo, Chile

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I am a huge fan of this winery, their Don Melchor being my introduction to good wine. The Marques de Casa Concha line of wines offers great value for everyday drinking, the Cabernet used to be my house wine back in the day. I drank gallons of the stuff. When I saw this Merlot, with a bit of bottle age, I had to rekindle my love affair.

It shows medium garnet in the glass, a hint of the aging process. The nose has a gamy scent alongside figs, ripe plum, leather and bark. The palate is still youthful and juicy. A nice tart welcome with blackberry, plum and leather greet me alongside very integrated tannins. The acidity is definitely present yet very balanced between the fruit and tannic structure. This wine runs 14.5% ABV, which I got a whiff of on the nose. I am now also getting a hint of it on the mid palate. It does give the wine some body and heft, alongside the generous fruit. The finish is short to medium but it carries the structural components for a while, the dryness lasting a good long while on my teeth. I wanted a Merlot to try and pair with some Duck breasts I am rendering and then roasting, this may do the trick as there are ample tannins and acidity to help cut through the fat, plus I am whipping up an orange sauce to drizzle. This wine has a few years of age already but will drink nicely till 2025 methinks. I paid $18 and consider it an 89 point wine worthy of 4 stars. Salut….