Clos Du Val Estate Chardonnay Carneros ‘Lot One’ 2015, Napa, California

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A very gorgeous dark yellow in the glass gives way to waxy lemon, peach stone and pineapple core  on the nose.  On the palate it is quintessential Napa Chardonnay.  Citrus, yellow apple, pear and lanolin hit me on the initial palate.  The wine has a medium weight mouthfeel, with decent but not piercing acidity.  The mid palate is mostly lemon and grapefruit.  The finish is quite long, with more of that citrus component as well as that waxy note.  This wine is nice and will pair well with Salmon, Moussaka even Osso Bucco (Hard to believe I know).  I am thinking this wine is worthy of 90 points and 3 stars for the $50 price tag.  Drink till 2025.  Salut….

Koyle Royale Syrah 2016, Colchagua Valley, Chile

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I have enjoyed numerous bottles of the 2015 Koyle Syrah, so when I saw the ’16- it had to be done.  Very dark and opaque in the glass.  Brooding , almost.  The nose is fruity, with a touch too much of that jam I dislike.  Black berries, raspberry reduction and a touch of wood also hit.  On the palate I get sour cherry sauce with very astringent tannins- the wine is somewhat astray.  It appears someway disjointed, not quite ready to come out.  There is a nice core of dark fruits under that tannic veil, perhaps I will aerate.

Yeah, that’s much better.  The nose is still not to my personal tastes but the wine smooths out, the tannins are more in order and the flavors of fruit take front row.  More black fruits than red and a touch of oak are now the order of the day.  This wine is very young and needs time to meld in order to settle down but should be decent in a year or so…. unless you are like me and have access to an aerator at all times.  I am going with 89 points for now but plan to re-visit in a while.  If you drink one, pair it with a hearty meal, something fatty.  3 stars for an initial impression of this $23 wine.  Salut….

Domaine Mazilly Pere & Fils Beaune Vignes Franches 1er Cru 2010, Burgundy, France

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I have sat on this one for a while, letting the Burgundian volatility settle and hopefully get some tertiary flavors, a little funk all the while maintaining fruit composition and freshness.

In the glass it is somewhat darker than expected for a Pinot Noir.  On the nose- cherry, funky forest floor, mushrooms and game.  The palate is definitely on track- Garrigue, cherry, balsamic reduction and rooibos tea all come to mind.  The mid palate has an unripe cherry note, or is it sour pomegranate? And dare I say- cork taste (as in chewing on the edge of a dry crumbly cork).  Very peculiar but interesting nonetheless.  The tannins are hitting my lower gums at this point, with a hint of acidity.  The finish is full on cherry, with a pucker from some tea as the tannins are astringent, but nice.  This wine is young.  It will evolve further and the tannins will meld better.  I see some more development with the secondary flavors but hope the unripe cherry component doesn’t remain.  Overall a tasty wine that will do well with the charcoal grilled Strips and mashed potatoes I’m pairing it with.  91 points and 4 stars for this $50 effort.  Drink till 2027.  Salut….

Barboursville Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Franc 2008, Virginia, USA

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What a way to ring in the New Year- this is a beauty that I opened from Magnum.  I’m a huge fan of this wine and bought a three year vertical from the Barboursville winery years ago when I visited.  I also drank it in regular size offerings on more than one occasion, writing about the 08 Cab Franc back in 2011.

Dark purple in the glass and still showing signs of youth.  On the nose I get black currants, rich plum compote, a touch of oak and some Ribena.  On the palate it is gorgeous.  Black fruits galore, iodine, super smooth tannins and lithe acidity.  The mid palate has notes of Kirsch, blackberry reduction.  The finish is just a great tapering of the whole package- black fruits, gentle tannins, round acidity all ending up with a nice, balanced mouthfeel.  92 points and 4 stars as the wine is no longer readily available in regular format, $180 buys you a Magnum though.  Drink till 2024 with all kinds of meat, think Filet, perhaps Moussaka and of course Pasta.  I look forward to the next two bottles in the vertical.  I am also thinking of buying newer vintages for the cellar, this one obviously did well in its evolution.  Salut….

Louis Latour Cote de Beaune Villages 2015, Burgundy, France

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The wine is see-through, medium purple with nice legs. On the nose it lacks immediate scents- I am swirling like crazy to finally get strawberry and capsicum. On the palate I taste kirsch, strawberry and rhubarb.  A nice crunchy acidity accompanied the fruit from the get go.  On the mid palate it is more red currants with some berry hints.  The tannins kick in on the very end where the finish is red fruits and a touch of oak. 89 points and 4 stars for this entry level Burgundy that ran $23.  Drink till 2024 with skirt steak, Cornish hen or cheese and crackers.  Salut….

Quinta do Noval Noval Black, Portugal

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I asked for and got a bottle of Port for Christmas, which we opened with the Pudding.  I was expecting an oaky, full bodied, black fruited mouthbomb but was surprised with this offering.  It is very brooding and dark in the glass.  The nose is brandy laced plum pudding, black currant and cedar.  On the palate it gives me iodine infused black berries and oaky smoke.  It is tasty for sure.  The tannins are very integrated, lithe and very present on the mid palate.  The wine has an astringent note that harkens from a tea component,  The finish is nice and deep, with tannic dryness and a stewed plum component.  Overall, I am enjoying this wine, even though I feel it is lighter in mouthfeel and slightly less flavorful than what I was expecting- perhaps it is a more ‘refined’ Port.  I am going with 90 points and 3 stars for this $23 bottle.  Salut….

Dona Paula Los Cardos Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina

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Very pale gold.  The nose gives off lemon zest, honeydew, yellow apple. On the palate it defies my expectations with tart citrus, pineapple and ginger.  The wine has a nice acidity and a light mouthfeel, refreshing.  The finish is short and to the point.  That lemony hint comes back and the tang is pronounced.  A very delightful quaffer.  I am going to use some in my cheese fondue recipe.  88 points and 4 stars for this $11 value- drink now.  Salut….

Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Bourbon Barrel-Aged Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Monterey County, USA

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Very bright purple in the glass.  The nose is very lively, with blackberry and plum notes alongside vanilla.  On the palate it is delicious- rich, with caramel, oak and black fruits galore.  Very lithe tannins and a touch of acidity make for a very easy drinking red with nice mouthfeel.  The mid palate turns a touch astringent, with lapsang souchong tea, blackberry and oak.  The finish is mid length with more dark fruit and black tea.  A nice drop that will do well with many dishes but is delicious all by itself.  90 Points and 5 starts for this $13 effort.  Drink till 2021.  Salut….

Chamonix Feldspar Pinot Noir 2015, Franschhoek Valley, South Africa

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This has to be the lightest colored Pinot I have ever come across, the light red color has accents of orange and resembles strawberry juice.  The nose is totally different- packed with flavors it belies the visual assumptions.  Strawberry, kirsch, cinnamon and a touch of oregano all hit the nose. The palate is slippery smooth, very elegant yet has a surging power waiting to release.  Strawberries, cherry torte, vanilla and rhubarb all appear on the palate.  Extremely fine grained tannins are present, as is some lithe acidity that really hits on the mid – to finish.  Speaking of which- I get sour cherries on the backend that I’m really enjoying.  Toasty oak is prominent throughout but not obnoxious.  I’m serving this up with grilled monkfish and boiled potatoes.  A perfect match.  92 points and 4 stars for the $30 price point.  I am really enjoying it!  Drink till 2023.  Salut….

Loring Wine Co. Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2016, Central Coast, USA

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Medium opacity, certainly not a light Pinot.  Explosive nose of cherry, rhubarb and violets.  On the palate, that old world nose gave way to new world juiciness, freshness and very integrated tannins.  Flavors of cherry, bramble, pie crust and cinnamon hit me at the onset.  Towards the mid palate it ramps up with a great acidity with some strawberry marching in.  The finish is long, with Kirsch and plenty of pH, alongside some oaky nuances.  I like this wine, a lot.  91 points and 4 stars- you can find it for $32 which places it in the 4 star category.  Cellar some and drink till 2026.  Salut….

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