Castillo de Monseran ‘Evil Eye Mal de Ojo’ 2013, Carinena, Spain

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Good blackish color.  The nose is smoky, meaty and has hints of fig and charcoal.  This 50% Garnacha, 30% Tempranillo and 20% Carignan blend is right up my alley.  The nose leads me to a delightful palate of blackberry, more charcoal, some tar and really tight tannins.  The mid palate concentrates on the fruit with tasty blackberries and some currant.  The tannins are ever-present but not overpowering, they caress instead of attack.  There is a juicy acidity towards the finish that reveals a touch of wood.  The oak is nicely integrated and gives a touch of vanilla.  The finish is medium length and really tasty.  I’m digging this wine- 91 points and 5 stars for this $15 effort.  I’m pairing it with Bacon Alfredo and it’s on pointe.  Salut….

Uggiano Roccialta Chianti Riserva DOCG 2015, Tuscany, Italy

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I have really started to enjoy Sangiovese lately and seek out different variants.  This Chianti weighs in at 13.5% alcohol and is medium purple with little opacity.  Kinda what I expect from this varietal as well as Pinot.  On the nose it is fresh with strawberries, cedar plank, a green capsicum component and garigue.  The palate is refreshing with red fruits, crunchy tannins and a touch of wood.  The strawberry I initially sensed gives way to red cherry and currants.  There’s a rhubarb component on the mid palate that marries well with the acidity and tannins.  The finish is lightweight but decent in length and continues the red fruit theme very nicely.  The tannins slowly fade after leaving my gums rather dry.  It’s a young wine which is drinking nicely and will cellar for another 10 years minimum.  Drink till 2029 with eggplant parmigiana, beef stew or slow cooked chicken cacciatore.  90 points from me make this $17 wine a 4 star effort. Salut….

I Giusti & Zanza Rosso Vigna Vecchia Toscana IGT 2015, Tuscany, Italy

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It’s quite bright and fresh looking in the glass with a deep garnet shade.  On the nose – rhubarb crumble, cherry and chocolate dust.  On the palate it is refreshing, tart and brimming with red fruits.  There’s a hint of balsamic as well as coconut on the initial.  The mid palate gives me some woody notes alongside the red currants and cherry.  The tartness gets a little spiky and herbaceous on the finish, a little off-putting.  Overall this is a tasty wine that has some structure to last a few years in cellar but is drinking nicely now.  I’m gonna bury the others I have as I believe they will improve vastly with a bit of age.  Made from Organic grapes and costing $50 makes it a wee bit pricy.  Pair it with Fettucine or pot roast, perhaps Osso Bucco..  Drink till 2035.  90 points from me (the pros went as high as 95!) and 3 stars.  Salut….

Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Washington, USA

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This winery is one of the most consistent mass producers out there.  I have never had a bad bottle and the QPR (Quality Price Ratio) is always tops.  So, when I saw this at my local Costco- no brainer.

We start off with a slightly cloudy medium hued purple.  It’s opaque AF though.  The nose is lovely- leather, plums, cassis…. I am excited.  The palate lives up to my expectations, lovely pure fruit flavors of plums, black currants and very well integrated oak.  The mid palate is scrumptious.  More dark fruits, some leather and a touch of wood.  I will say:  There is a very fine grained tannic component that is barely perceptible making this wine delicious and easy to drink now but does not bode well for extended cellaring.  The acidity is feint and nicely balanced.  The finish is relatively short but tasty, black fruits galore and that touch of dryness.  This is a real treat to pop and pour if you can find it (just go to Costco!).  It will pair well with many a mid-week meal yet hold it’s own against a leg of lamb on a Sunday roast.  I’m really thinking Lasagna is the perfect match.  Either way, enjoy this 91 point gem and drink till 2023.  5 stars for sure as you can pick it up all day long for under $15.  Salut….

McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, South Eastern Australia

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Decent shade of color, medium opacity.  On the nose I get purple fruit and charcoal. With a bit of swirling it morphs into raspberry.  The initial palate has some nice black cherry and oaky char with a certain warmness to it.  Fine grained tannins immediately show up and carry me to the mid palate which turns the fruit back to that plummy, purple note I caught on the nose.  The finish is medium length, tannic and features more fruit and a dry black tea.  Overall I’m enjoying this wine for what it is- a weekday quaffer that won’t break the bank.  I would pair it with spaghetti, moussaka or even ratatouille.  87 points and 4 stars for this $8 offering, drink till 2021.  Salut….

McWilliam’s Hanwood Estates Merlot 2018, South Eastern Australia

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Very dark purple in the glass with barely traceable legs.  The aromas spilled over when I swirled the glass.  On the nose I am sensing that candied licorice that I don’t care for.  I also get pine and eucalyptus.  On the palate, it is decent for an $8 bottle.  I wasn’t expecting much complexity but this one has some nice primal fruit flavors of blackberry alongside anise, cedar and wood smoke.  What it lacks in structure it makes up for with fruitiness and verve.  A decent drink that has a trace of tannins, a bit of acidity and an easy going quaffability.  86 points would be generous but at this price, it’s good for a BBQ or a day at the picnic site.  Drink now.  3 stars.  Salut….

Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2001, Pauillac, France retasted

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The third tasting of this amazing wine over several years.  Bright purple, but with quite a lot of sediment- the nose is classic Pauillac.  Cassis, leather, tobacco and hazelnuts.  The palate is rich, refined, smooth and very balanced.  The primary fruits have given way to tertiary notes of blackberry reduction, that musky leather, dry tobacco and damson torte.  There’s a touch of oak, by way of a vanilla note that I’m enjoying.  The nuttiness I caught on the nose reappears on the mid palate where I do get some plums alongside the cassis.  The tannins gradually build up and really peak on the finish- with black tea, cassis and cinnamon.  Delicious and still young.  This is a 94 point wine that just keeps getting better.  Drink till 2029.  Getting pricy at $175 now but tasty as hell and worthy of 5 stars.  Salut….

Nativ Taurasi ‘Rue 333’ 2014, Campania, Italy

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I last had the 2011 Nativ Rue a while back but remembered it for an obscure reason.  The original shipment was heat damaged and really nasty.  The vendor sent me replacements, but the name has stuck with me.  When I saw the 2014 vintage, I had to try.

A nice shade of purple in the glass with thick legs belaying the 14% alcohol.  On the nose I get blackberry, chocolate, oak and vanilla bean.  The palate is a touch austere with black currants, capsicum, sour cherry and raw oak.  It’s a bit off-putting to be honest.  There’s quite an acidic sourness that is hard to ignore, it fights with the green tannins to take over the palate.  The wine is a bit one-dimensional with all eyes on the tannins and opposing acidity.  I’m gonna give this wine some time in the cellar, it deserves a chance, after all an Italian Pro gave it 96 of his make believe points.  I’m going with 89 for now, but I really think it has potential.  I enjoy the Aglianico grape, but this one is really young and imperious.  Give it time.  Cellar till 2022 or aerate it and drink till 2030.  I paid $17, which makes it a 3 star effort.  Salut….

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Bodegas Burgo Viejo Palacio de Primavera Reserva 2015, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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It’s a nice shade of purple, perhaps a bit subdued.  On the nose it reeks of Rioja earth, bramble, plum and tar.  The palate has a definitive creosote taste that I look forward to in Spanish Tempranillos.  Plum, blackcurrants and fig paste all come out on the palate.  I get a nice acidity on the mid palate alongside some earthy bramble and violets.  The finish is dusty, plummy and dry from the meek tannins that finally show up.  They are very well integrated and barely perceptible until the end, well played.  Overall this wine leaves me with a delicious aftertaste that I’m enjoying for a good 60 seconds, after having had a mouthful of delicious flavors.  I like it, a lot.  92 points from me and 5 stars for this $35 effort.  Ps. It got a whopping 97 Decanter points, that’s huge.  Drink till 2027 with slow cooked beef ribs, stuffed mushroom caps or a grilled duck breast.  Salut….

Hirsch Vineyards San Andreas Fault Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma Coast, USA

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A darker shade of purple for Pinot, but see through as expected.  The nose screams New World with strawberry, cherry pie, pecans.  I know- strange descriptor.  On the palate it is silky with bright red fruits galore, cherry cola, sasparilla and juicy acidity.  The mid palate shows off the strawberries and tart cherry.  The acid starts to peak.  There’s a trace of tannic grip as we enter the finish.  Overall it has quite an acidic overtone, leaving my mouth a bit puckered.  It’s tasty mind you….  I like it but the $77 price is a little off-putting.  90 points from me and 3 stars.  Drink till 2027.  Salut….