Barista Pinotage 2016, Paarl, South Africa

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I’m always on the lookout for new stuff.  I love Pinotage, finding it rather unique and somewhat inconsistent in flavor profiles between producers.  That is not necessarily bad, it just adds to the different variations I can try of a unique to SA grape, grown in a rather limited geographical area.

This one is medium depth purple in the glass.  The nose is delicious.  Just what I was hoping for when I purchased this $17 bottle.  Tar, violets, plum and that rubber smell that squarely denotes Pinotage.  The palate is very rich, warm and full bodied.  It gives off mocha, chocolate dust, star anise, blackberry, creosote and plum on the palate.  Tannins are very refined, subdued and well integrated.  The acidity is on pointe, not overbearing.  The finish is medium in length and consists of mainly plum and that tar component I seek in this varietal.  Good stuff!  I am drinking this by itself but would pair it with roast chicken, wild game, steak and moussaka.  I am going with 89 points and 4 stars.  I have to disagree with the 86 point rating it got from one trade magazine, this wine belongs in my cellar for the short to medium term, drinking till 2022.  Salut….

Two Hands Wines Bella’s Garden Shiraz 2010, Barossa Valley, Australia

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You know you’re in for a bombastic treat when the label says Shiraz and the wine comes out inky in color and very dense.  The nose is delightful- full of plum, espresso, cedar plank, elderberry syrup and a vanilla hint.  On the palate it is more restrained than I was expecting, more silky, smoother, with much more depth.  This is indeed a powerful wine, but in a more stately fashion.  It shows the dark fruits I mentioned plus a really tight knit tannic structure that couples with the acidity to give an amazing mouthfeel.  The elderberry syrup component really kicks in on the mid palate, it is so silky smooth.  The finish is long, and full of fruit.  The tannins are perfectly in sync and do not overpower the flavors.  This is a delicious wine that has aged nicely and will continue to do so for many years.  Drink with pretty much any grilled meat or all by itself.  Beware the well hidden 15.5% alcohol, it may sneak up!  The pros went big on this wine, which was WS #3 wine of the year in 2012, I can see why.  95 points and 5 stars for this treat that comes in at $75, if you can find it.  Drink till 2024 at the least.  Ps.  I originally bought 2 bottles, and then another six afterwards.  See my other two posts on Bella’s Garden.  Salut….

 

Meerlust Rubicon 2010, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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The iconic South African wine, a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and a touch of Petit Verdot- the penultimate Bordeaux style blend from sunny Stellenbosch.   I have had various vintages of Meerlust, but I don’t think I waited as long as this 8 year old.

Somewhat opaque, medium hued purple in the glass.  The nose is rich with plums, cassis, spice, oak and a surreal blackberry pie note that I love.  On the palate- simply delicious.  Black fruits, silky tannins, plums, cedar box, a touch of tar and very lithe acidity to go along with the delightful tannins.   This is a powerhouse wine, aged to perfection and ready to rock n roll.  The mid palate allows a certain degree of dryness to hit the gums, but not in an overpowering way.  The blackberry streak continues all the way to the finish.  The grippiness of the tannins builds the further they get along, culminating on the finish with a crescendo.  The flavors carry right through on this wine, giving it a richness that I admire.  The pairings are unlimited for this treat: steaks, stews, charcuterie, cheeses- nothing will interfere with its presence.  I would save a few bottles if you buy more than one as it will mature well for at least another decade, smoothing out no doubt and adding more complexity.  I am going with 93 points minimum on this $31 effort and give it 5 stars.  Salut….

Domaine Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin 2006, Cote de Nuits, France

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I have been sitting on this for a while, waiting for the right time to re-taste.  Tonight just happened to be it!  I noticed a little bricking when I was pouring the glass, which seems a little premature for a 12 year old Burgundy.  It’s quite opaque considering the varietal though.  Swirling like mad to get something on the nose I finally notice an earthy note, some cherries, but not much else really- I’m intrigued.  The palate is where it’s at folks- strawberry puree, cherry, barnyard, straw and some really edgy tannins.  I have a hard time discerning them in Pinot Noir, but they are most definitely present in this bottle.  I get a grippy dryness to the gums, the mouth is puckering and they meld very well with the acidity.  This wine is not bad!  I just re-read my review of it from 2012, It really did what I expected, and then some!  The funkiness is not as much as I had hoped for but it does exist, somewhat muted.  I am going with 91 points and 4 stars for the $50 bottle.  Drink till 2025 at the least.  Salut….

La Mascota Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Maipu, Argentina

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I’m a little nervous about this wine, it was a gift and I just noticed that the cork was pressing up against the capsule, a sure sign of heat stress.

It’s a pretty hue of purple in the glass, which is a good sign.  The nose gives off black berry, mint and licorice.  The palate is fine, no sign of damage, thank goodness.  Bright black berry, some cola, very primal tannins and blueberry pie greet me on the initial palate.  The wine continues the theme on through the mid palate and the tannins start to take over, drying the gums ever so gently.  The texture is nice, if you like a dry wine.  The acidity is barely apparent and offers a nice balance.  The finish is quite long, with nicely interwoven tannins, some blueberry and a herb note.  I think this is a very nice wine, capable of matching most game dishes, a steak all day long, charcuterie would be great or all by itself.  Short term cellaring might soften the tannins but drink by 2020.  89 points and 4 stars for this $16 wine.  Salut….

Thelema Mountain Vineyards ‘Thelema’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Nearly black in the glass, very brooding.  The nose is a gorgeous mix of black berries, kirsch and cassis.  I also get some black cherry which quickly translates over to the palate.  Really nice, grippy tannins greet me with a dry sensation, which is perfect for the Lamb stew I am preparing.  Dark fruit galore across the palate, with a  touch of creosote, some mintiness and spice box.  The wine takes on some smoke and pain grille at the end and the finish is long, interlaced with a mouth puckering tannic component.  I am digging this wine, wishing I had more bottles to track evolution, betting it will age gracefully and take on some interesting secondary flavors.  Drink till 2025. I think this wine deserves 91 points and am giving it 4 stars for its $43 tag.  Good stuff.  Salut….

Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Breede River Valley, South Africa

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Light purple, medium opacity.  A nose of black currants and cedar shavings.  On the palate- plums, blackberry, fig paste, iodine.  Very nice mouthfeel, not overly tannic but a touch dry with low acidity and a decent finish. 89 points and a sure 5 stars for this $7 stunner, buy it by the case for short term cellaring and enjoy at it parties, barbies and with pretty much anything from the grill.  Salut….

Chateau d’Arcins 2013, Haut-Medoc, France

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Medium density purple in the glass.  A nice bright nose of blackberries, cinnamon and  pencil shavings. On the palate the wine is a tad thinner than I had been expecting.  Blueberry, very well integrated tannins, some cassis and a modicum of acidity.  The wine opens up pretty quickly and the cassis really shows up on the mid palate, transcending the medium length finish.  Overall, this wine drinks nicely and will cellar for the short term.  89 points and 3 stars for this $22 effort.  Salut….

Charles Smith Wines ‘Chateau Smith’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Columbia Valley, USA

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As you may know, I am a fan of this winery and had to pick this up the other day.  Very dark, near black and opaque in the glass.  On the nose, bright fruit flavors of plum, espresso, tree bark and vanilla bean.  On the palate I get a very smooth mouthful of violets, plum compote, spice and very lithe tannins that are very integrated.  The acidity is very mild, making for a very soft mouthfeel.  Easy to drink, yet I suspect there is some cellaring potential here, I’m just not sure where it’s going.  The purple fruits are very prominent on the finish and the wine ends nicely with a dry note.  Drink by itself or pair with lighter fare- cornish hens, burgers or a white pasta.  89 points from me.  I paid $16 and am giving it 4 stars.  Salut….

Inkberry ‘Mountain Estate’ Shiraz – Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Central Ranges, Australia

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It’s not often at a restaurant that someone walks past your table, plops a half finished bottle down and says ‘Enjoy’!  Well, that’s what happened the other night at a Bay Area steak house where I was having dinner with Moxie and Jet, my number 3 son.  I was already well into the 2014 Spellbound, but I took the time out to make a very brief taste test of this Aussie blend of Cabernet and Shiraz.

Gorgeous nose. Blueberry, blackberry and açaí berry.  The palate shows off abrupt tannins, nice finish and good structure.  89 points.  I researched it and found out it retails for $14, making it a 5 star wine in my books.  (Sorry about the abbreviated review, but this one was obviously not planned!).  Salut….