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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Rawson’s Retreat Collection Shiraz – Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, South Australia

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Medium opacity with good color and nice legs.  On the nose I get blueberry jam, cedar, juniper.  On the palate there are notes of blue fruit, cinnamon stick and that woody, cedar note I got on the nose.  The mid palate introduces some acidity along with- dare I say- wintergreen?  Tannins are mild and unobtrusive, giving the wine a bit of astringency on the finish.  The wine drinks nicely, what it lacks in depth it makes up for in mouthfeel.  88 points and 3 stars for this $20 wine.  Drink till 2022 with meat, tapas or stew.  Salut….

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Barbanera Ser Passo Toscana IGT 2016, Tuscany, Italy

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Bright purple in the glass.   Black cherry and sassafras come to mind on the nose.  The palate is very tasty, brimming with Black cherry, cola, and dark chocolate.  Very fine grained tannins introduce themselves right off the bat and help to coat the gums very gently all the way through the mid palate and onto the finish.  Speaking of the mid-palate, there’s more cola than fruit here along with some licorice.  It’s quite nice!  The finish is medium length and continues the theme.  A very satisfying wine that I am enjoying with pasta and meatballs.  90 points, drink till 2025 with anything Italian!  For the $13 price tag, you need some of this 5 star wine.  Salut….

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Beyerskloof Synergy Cape Blend 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Medium opacity, great purple color.  On the nose creosote, blueberry, charcoal and plum jam.  On the palate I get a darker fruit profile- blackberry, ripe plum.  The mid palate hits me with cheek quenching tannins, not overly done- just makes me pucker a bit.  The acidity also presents at the same moment.  Intriguing to have my rear jowls hit by opposing forces.  The finish gets me back to that mineral tone of creosote, perhaps some black olives, all tiptoeing around the tannic bite that crescendoed on the finish.  An interesting wine that I am enjoying thoroughly.  It’s needs meat though, pair it with game, lamb stew or something hearty.  91 points for this blend of 62% Pinotage, 22% Merlot, 12% Cab Sav and 4% Shiraz.  Aerate for immediate enjoyment and drink till 2025.   5 stars for this $15 effort.  Salut….

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Clos St. Thomas ‘Chateau St. Thomas’ Rouge 2009, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

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Dinner at my cousin’s house.  He offered me a crack at his cellar- who am I to refuse a gracious host!  Inky purple in the glass- opaque.  On the nose I get sweet blackberry, new oak, black olives.  The initial taste is intriguing.  Tannic at the outset, it gives off black fruit flavors, garrigue, lavender, black tea and a ton of mouth coating tannins.  This is a brooding wine- powerful, dry, fruity and built for the long haul.  It transitions to the back end with flavors of iodine, that black olive note and definitely more blackberries.  Good acidity holds the tannins in check, which are in full force as the wine’s long finish fades away.  This wine begs for decanting, aerating or a monster juicy Ribeye.  Drink till 2030 at the least.  92 points and 5 stars from me for this $25 wine.  If you can find it, buy by the case and cellar.  The aging capacity of this cuvee is amazing.  See my posts on the 2000 St. Thomas, the 2005, the 2006 and the mighty 2008.  Salut….

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Santa Ema Reserve Merlot 2015, Maipo Valley, Chile

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Nice purple in the glass.  The nose is blackberry, oak and cocoa dust.  The initial palate is of ripe plums, more blackberries and vanilla.  The wine has gentle tannins, lithe acidity and drinks easily.  It has a nice midpalate transition.  Coffee notes hit me as well as more berries.  89 points from me for this $12 effort.  It drinks well and should be held in the daily drinker cellar for a quick go-to wine.  4 stars, drink now.  Salut….

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Eagles Trace Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Napa Valley, USA

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I have previously had the Eagle’s Trace Cabernet, in Magnum.  Dark purple with a touch of brick.  On the nose it has a bit of funk- hoping it blows off. Black cherry, cola, eucalyptus hit me after a hard swirl.  On the palate it shows red fruits- a rich acidity and fine grained tannins.  Raspberry, cherries jubilee and an oak influence all hit.  The mid palate gets me back to cola.  Sassafras appears on the tail end where the tannins start to grip and the mouthfeel turns astringent.  Enjoyable if you like a dry finish.  89 points and not a bad choice for Thanksgiving that included a smoked turkey as well as a deep fried one.  It did not hold up as well as I had hoped.  For $55 it gets 2 stars from me.  Salut….

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Cornerstone Cellars Chardonnay 2014, Willamette Valley, USA

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Light golden. Buttery, lemony and laced with yellow apple on the nose.  The palate is round, full and very smooth.  It offers up buttered popcorn, quince, butterscotch.  It is a classic Chardonnay that has undergone malolactic fermentation and a dose of wood.  Very smooth, with very low acidity makes it somewhat flabby but delicious nonetheless.  I like it. 90 points.  It’s rings up at $40 making it a 3 point wine, but if you can get a hold of a few on sale- stock up.  Salut….

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Jean Biecher et Fils Pfersigberg Grand Cru Riesling 2017, Alsace, France

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Very pale yellow, probably the lightest colored wine I have ever seen.  The nose has pineapple, quince, peach and nectarines.  On the palate it is enticing- mainly peaches to begin with.  There’s a petroleum note that typifies the varietal alongside some yellow apples.  Super tasty mind you, with some focused acidity to keep things sharp. The midpalate has some enjoyable flab, a weightiness that fills the mouth and adds to the body.  The finish gets all serious with some flinty minerality, a resurgence of the apple theme as well as the nectarines and is medium in length and smooth.  Overall this is a terrific wine that gets 92 points from me.  Drink till 2025.  $45 is rather steep, but this one’s a keeper that gets 4 stars.  Salut….

Borgo Salcetino Chianti Classico DOCG 2015, Tuscany, Italy

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Light purple, medium opacity.  The nose is generous with pencil lead, blueberry and cherry, yet somewhat atypical.  On the palate it is a little restrained but there are notes of sassafras, bing cherry, rhubarb.  The mid palate gives me lots of juiciness, acidity and the beginnings of a tannic push.  The cherry component really hits on the back end.  89 points and 4 stars for this $12 effort.  I would sit on a few bottles to let the acidity reaper and the tannins to soften slightly.  2020- 2023 Salut….