Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Merlot 2013, California, USA

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No nose- I’m sitting in an airplane with a plastic cup.  The initial impression I get is of mellow plums, really nice acidity and some earthiness.  The mid palate is generous with the dark fruits and I am enjoying the very mild dryness the tannins are giving.  On second thought, it is really packed with plum flavors.  The finish is shortish but tasty.  The strength of this wine lies on the generous mid palate, which is where the flavors and technical components all seem to materialize.  Considering I am cooped up in a pressurized tube I think the winemakers have a winner here.  They have crafted something I am really enjoying.  90 points and kudos.  I paired it with pasta and meatball, courtesy of United Airlines.  For $19 this wine gets 4 stars and is widely available.  Salut….

kendall jackson merlot

The meatball and pasta

 

Chakana Maipe Reserve Bonarda 2013, Mendoza, Argentina

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I started drinking this with dinner before I took notes.   I was so impressed that I had to look to see if I had reviewed it already.  Not the case, so here goes.

Medium to dark purple in the glass bodes well for this Bonarda.  The variety is also known as Charbono in other circles.  The nose is beautiful, full and all about the cassis, dark plums and black cherry. The initial taste echoes the nose.  This wine is delicious.  Tar, cherry and cassis abound on the palate and carry through to the finish.  Tannins are gentle and balanced with a nice level of acidity.  This wine drinks great now and will continue to do so till 2022.  I paired it with stuffed peppers and a Turkey meatball pasta dish.  It worked well, but the real match is probably with a grilled lamb chop.  91 points from me but then again I love expanding my palate with off the beaten path varietals.  $16 and 5 stars from me.  Salut…

Maipe bonarda

Mulderbosch Faithful Hound 2013, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Dark and brooding in the glass it shows off Blackberry and mint on the nose.  The palate is very interesting.  Black cherry pie meets blackberries and licorice.  The tannins are delightful, packed just right.  The mid palate gives off some plum jam but is quickly overriden by the tannins.  The finish is decent in length and I am getting charcoal, blackberry and dark cherry notes.  A well made wine that has some cellaring potential.  We are pairing it with Flank steak and roasted asparagus.  90 points and for $19 is it a 4 star effort.  It is a true Bordeaux blend, comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.  Salut….

Mulderbosch Faithful Hound

Dei Principi di Spadafora Don Pietro Rosso Sicilia IGT 2012, Sicily, Italy

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Reddish purple and opaque in the glass.  Nose of rhubarb and Swiss chard leaves.  I’m not going to lie- it’s a bit off putting.  The palate is a whole different story, thank god.  Vibrant cherry and red raspberry notes with juicy acidity and balanced tannins.  The mid palate is really delicious, yet supremely dry from the tannins.  More red fruits emerge with some hints of nutmeg.  The finish is medium in length and offers more raspberries.  I found out it is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Nero D’Avola, which is a grape I hold near and dear.  Overall a very juicy and decent wine that gets 90 points from me.  I paid $20 and am going with 4 stars.  Salut….

Dei Principi di Spadafora Don Pietro Rosso

Dog Point Pinot Noir 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand

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Somewhat darker and denser for a Pinot.  The nose is all about the New World- strawberry, cranberry and rhubharb dominate.  On the palate I am getting spice, strawberry coulis and pomegranate.  The mid palate shows off some cherry notes as well.  The acidity of this wine is on pointe, just enough to let you know it is there and all the while balancing out the ever so slight tannins that are lurking.  The finish is nice, refreshing and laced with more strawberry notes.  This is a good wine.  I am thinking 92 points at the least.  It retails for $40, but I got it on sale for $22 making it a superb deal.  5 stars from me and hoping to find more!  Salut….

dog point pinot noir

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2013, Clare Valley, Australia

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One of my favorite Aussie Shiraz is the bigger brother to this wine, but I have not been able to find the McRae Wood anywhere.  The Lodge Hill is their entry level Shiraz, the McRae Wood being the $50 effort while their top cuvee is the Armagh, priced around $250.

This one looks decent in the glass, a good solid purple that is ever so see-through.  The nose is plum, cedar shavings and Ribena.  On the palate is where this wine shines.  Not overly extracted or jammy, it offers more plums, dark cherry and herbs.  The mid palate continues the theme and ramps up the tannins which are in full force by the time the finish rolls around.  The tannic component is very smooth, yet gripping.  They leave my upper gums thoroughly dry for a short period.  This is a decent wine that is not jammy yet offers lots of flavor.  I am serving it with some roast beef, it would pair beautifully with Shish Kebabs and Basmati rice.  89 points from me make this $18 offering a 3 star wine.  Salut…..

jim barry the lodge hill

Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz 2014, Barossa, Australia

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It was Moxie’s 50th birthday last week so we have been celebrating all month.  Her mother took us out for a really nice dinner last night.  The very first wine listed was the Schild Shiraz 2014.  It was priced right at $30, which is not even double retail, so I took the plunge and ordered it even though the mother-in-law was footing the bill.  I just had to try it.  You see, I have been chasing this elusive wine for a few years now.  Back in 2010 I read a stunning review of their ’08 Shiraz, it got 94 points from WS.  I was dying to try it.  I then read another, more damning article a year later that put me off-  they had ‘made more’  when they ran low.  I was stunned and saddened.  Yep, read it here.  http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/44637

Anyway, I am over it now and the mere sighting of this wine was my nod to go for it.  If you look at their earlier vintages, there were a string of 92-94 point years, followed by a slight decline.  This wine unfortunately was not in that realm of quality.

Dark purple hues.  Nose of black berries, leather and earth.  On the palate I get more dark berries, some coffee, chocolate dust and a touch of oak.  The mid palate has more dark fruits and a sinewy set of tannins. The finish is quite long and dry with the tannins really kicking in.  There is an austerity I cannot put my finger on which detracts from an otherwise very pleasant wine.  I drank it with braised Lamb Shank.  89 points and 3 stars for this $16 (retail) effort.  In hindsight, I am glad I came across this wine and look forward to future vintages that perhaps will reinstate it to a level it is capable of.  Salut….

schild shiraz

Bollina Corte Medicea ‘Aros’ Rosso Toscana IGT 2014, Tuscany, Italy

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I just saw the 95 point sticker on the label, it must be good or this particular critic is dead to me…

Dark purple color, from the 50% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Lets see what the 50% Sangiovese brings.  Olives, plum jam and seaweed hit the nose.  On the palate I get a very intriguing flavor.  I can’t quite put my finger on it…Black plums, dark, dark stone fruits and perhaps black tea leaves.  I am getting a very one dimensional hit of tannins as well.  The mid palate is all black tea and tannins.  The finish is bitter, with faint notes of black plum and oversteeped tea.  I don’t get it.  This wine was hyped by a pro, written up by the seller as soft and supple, with gentle tannins.  Quite the opposite for me, and bottle variation doesn’t count here.  This wine is barely 86 points in my book and for $20 I think I will look elsewhere.  2 stars.  Salut….

aros toscana

Bodega Aniello ‘006’ Pinot Noir 2015, Rio Negro, Argentina

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When I see a wine on sale for $15 that got a 93 point rating then I am all in, especially a Pinot Noir. I bought this one without hesitation. My own notes are slightly different than the pros, could be bottle variation, age, or just my palate.

Very pale red and see through in the glass. Nose of pomegranate and cranberry. On the palate, much more body than I was expecting. Notes of strawberry coulis, violets and a touch of gaminess. The wine has some good acidity and freshness that I’m enjoying. The alcohol, at a reasonable 13.5% is somehow showing up on the finish. I plan on pairing this decent wine with some shrimp and grits… let’s see how that works. 89 points from me on this $15 offering make it a 3 star wine. Salut….

a niello pinot noir

Very pale and see through

Vinedos y Bodegas Pablo Menguante Garnacha 2012, Carinena, Spain

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I have been on a bit of a shopping spree lately, looking for deals and trying to expand my palate.  This Spanish Grenache was a reasonable $12, came with a 91 point rating and fit the bill for me to sample.  It was see through purple in the glass.  A nose of plums and black berries with some ocean spray and a very slight trace of oak.  On the palate- black berries, iodine, and some medium level tannins. The mid palate shows off some black cherry and coffee notes that continue through to the finish.  It doesn’t end there, the tannins really hit hard on the back end and leave me with a dry sensation on the gums.  I would think this wine will last a while.  Pair with some hearty pasta dishes or a big burger on brioche.  88 points from me and 3 stars.  Salut….

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