David Noyes Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2013

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The last time I wrote about this winery was over 4 years ago, on the Russian River Valley 2009 David Noyes Pinot Noir. I loved it then and gave it high marks, so when an opportunity came along to get more from this winery, I jumped.

Very pale, see-through purple that shows off elegance and subtlety.  On the nose mainly strawberry with hints of cherries jubilee.  I also get a very faint touch of cinnamon.  Interesting.  On the initial attack- very subdued and mild. Flavors of cherry, red currants and Rooibos tea.  The wine transitions through the mid palate with cherry pie and a lashing of very fine grained tannins.  The finish runs long and is composed of tannins under some nice tart strawberries where the acidity finally shows up!  I’m going with 90 points, not quite as rich as I had hoped but a fine bottle.  You can find it for around $22 and I am giving it 3 stars.  I paired it with slow cooked pork tenderloins in an asian braise.  It worked really well.  Salut….
david noyes sonoma coast pinot noir

Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

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One of my sons is 14 and ice-skates competitively in Synchro and Ice Dancing.  He has been with his Dance partner for just over 5 months and they qualified to go to the National Skating Championships this weekend in Kansas City.  They all left yesterday and I was supposed to join them today, Friday the 13th.  My flight cancelled and the weather is supposed to be horrendous out there.  Why do I mention all this?  Because his partner’s parents gave me this bottle of wine for Christmas, so it made sense for me to open it tonight in honor of the big weekend.

First off, this wine is a really dark purple- I can almost see extraction.  On the nose, really nice aromas of plum, black currant and olive strike out.  On the initial attack I get more plum, some really prominent tannins that give way to primal black fruits and a hint of the wood.  This wine is young but delicious.  The mid palate is where the tannins really take over and coat my whole mouth, perfect for Ribeye steak!  The finish is rather long and gives out some hints of berry jam, leather and still more lingering tannins.  The winemaker does a masterful job of hiding the 14.9% alcohol.  The acidity is perfectly balanced and this wine is ready for some cellar time.  By all means drink it now, but I think you will be rewarded with 4-5 years in the darkness.  Drink till 2028 and pair it with grilled meats, lamb stew or even a rustic wood oven fired Margherita pizza.  I am going with 92 points on this and for about $43 this is a 4 star wine.  I’m loving it!  Wish us luck this weekend and Salut….

hall cabernet sauvignon napa valley

 

Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2012

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If you have never had a Ripasso wine before you need to hurry along and get one.  It all starts with the Amarone wines, where the grapes are air dried for several months on wire racks and the fruit loses volume and increases its sugars.  Once they press the grapes what is left over are the skins and seeds, minus the juices but still yielding some tannins and flavors that basic Valpolicella lacks.  Once they ferment the Valpolicella wine they then ‘pass’ it over the remaining Amarone grape skins to impart a deeper color, structure, tannins and a depth of flavor.  Some call them the baby Amarones.  I have been a fan of this particular wine for a long time and was super excited to get a bottle the other day.  Priced at $24, it is a good intro to the style.

Dark purple, with a nose of raisins, funk and plums (all good I assure you).  On the palate I am getting rich plums, black cherry and delightful tannins.  The mid palate shows off dried cherry, oak and more tannins which really hit the gums at this point.  The finish tapers off with plum jam and raisins.  The wine is not as ‘thick and unctuous’ as I remembered nor does it present the depth I have had in other vintages but it is still really good and gets 89 points from me.  85% Corvina, 10% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta.  I had an old colleague over for dinner that saw me pair this with Pasta and Meatballs/Mild Italian Sausage.  It was a great match and even made the Caeser Salad and Garlic bread more on pointe.  The whole evening was a good time but this wine had a special place in our visit.  Drink till 2022. 3 stars.  Salut….

zenato ripassa

 

Dona Paula Estate Malbec 2014

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I can’t even tell you how many bottles of this wine I have drunk in my day.  I was introduced to it at an Argie steak house in Anchorage, Alaska of all places.  We used to go there in small groups and empty their supply every time.  I saw this bottle when I was in Boston with the family on a skating trip.  I couldn’t resist.

In the glass, a paler version of purple was on display.  On the nose- black berry and nutmeg come to mind.  The initial palate consists of really delicious dark fruits, some plum ganache and some very tart tannins.  The wine shows off a dryness that takes over the mid palate and finish but still allows flavors of blue and black currants to peek through.  There are not many tertiary flavors but that is okay, this is a primal wine that begs for steak.  It offers one stop shopping if you are in the market for a reasonably priced wine that bangs it with grilled meat, does well alone and will make charcuterie sing. This is one for you to look for.  At $13 this is a good deal and gets 90 points from me making it a 5 star wine.  Drink till 2020 and buy in bulk.  Salut….

dona paula estate malbec

Neethlingshof Estate Pinotage 2015

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My father asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  He has 3 sons, 2 daughter-in-laws and 5 grand kids.  I wanted something that would not bankrupt the man, but would mean something to me.  I told him “a bottle of wine”.  He hit it, right on the head with this banger.  I am so surprised at this wine and am super happy that my dad got it for me.

In case you haven’t read my notes about Pinotage, I love this varietal.  It is a quirky oddball only found in Afrique du Sud and made really well in Stellenbosch.

Reddish purple in the glass with a nose of tar, beautiful violets, black plums and a really nice hint of blueberry right at the and.  On the initial attack I get blueberry pie, some tar, cherry and plum jam. The mid palate yields some very entrenched tannins that come out of hiding and balance the acidity.  More plums hit after the tannins and they lead you into a really nice dry finish of vanilla, coffee bean, and berry.  Really good, a delicious wine.  91 points and at a shocking price point of $15 this is my first 5 star wine of the year.  Kudos to dad for popping this bad boy under the tree, he has hit wine nirvana.  I drank it with braised Beef ribs and purple potatoes.  Heaven!  I hope you have a wine that has significant meaning that hits it on all cylinders too.  Salut….

neethlingshof pinotage

Beringer Founders Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

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If you read my last post on the Beringer Pinot Noir you may put two and two together to figure out that this is the second bottle we bought that took the price up to $18 for 2 instead of $11 for one.  I saved the heartier wine for later, and I am glad I did.  I really enjoyed the Pinot and was hoping for a repeat performance with this Cab.  I was not disappointed.

Purple with a nose of plums, eucalyptus, black currant.  On the initial attack, more plums, chocolate powder and currants.  Medium tannins arise on the mid palate and complement the gentle acidity for a nice mouthfeel.  The finish is medium in length and offers star anise, plum ganache and black currant.  I’m going with another 89 points for the Beringer twins and give this one a thumbs up 4 stars.  Pair with steaks, pizza, pasta and drink till 2020.  Salut….

beringer founders estate cabernet sauvignon

Beringer Founders Estate Pinot Noir, California 2014

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I picked up two bottles for $18, but it really should be priced at $11 per.  The wine is  a see through light purple in the glass, commensurate with the varietal.  On the nose I am getting strawberry, cherry and pomegranate.  All three primal flavors are typical for the Pinot grape.  On the initial taste there are more cherries and some really nice strawberry candy notes.  In and amongst the mid palate flavors there lurks some tannins.  If you have read my notes for a while, you may recall that I have a hard time distinguishing tannin levels in Pinot Noir, but when I sense they are present then there must be a boatload of ’em.  This wine drinks in a dry style and is leaving the telltale sensation on my gums.  There is an acidity that comes out as sour cherry on the mid to finish that I am digging.  On my second go at this wine I got a very strong hit of rock candy on the front end, interesting.

This wine drinks very nicely and is a definite bargain for Pinot Noir.  It will do nicely with some Roast Chicken, a killer pairing with Coq Au Vin and it will ride nicely with my mother’s Steak and Kidney Pie.  (She’s very British you know…).  Drinking window is wide open from 2017-2022.  89 point and 4 stars from me.  Salut….

bringer founders estate pinot noir

Terroir la Baume Saint-Paul Fitou, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 2014

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By far the most interesting label of the year-  a metallic one on this bottle of Fitou.  I was intrigued and had to try it.  Fitou is a region in the Languedoc, southern France and the two main grapes are Grenache and Carignan.

terror la baume saint paul fitou

The wine is a medium shade of purple and offers a nose of garrigue, funk and black cherry.  This may sound horrible to the layman but in wine terms, quite legitimate descriptors and ones that are sought after by certain palates.  On the initial attack I am getting a somewhat thin veil of plums but more importantly, some off-putting tannins.  The wine is a bit disjointed and the balance is off.  It may need some time or a trip through the vinturi (Or in my case, a travel aerator).

The travel aerator

The travel aerator

Ok, after meeting my friend Bendy, the wine mellows a little but the tannins are still green and generally unpleasant.  The fruit is struggling for acceptance here and the structure is not allowing it to happen.  I am wondering if I have an off bottle.  Best I can go is 85 points at this tasting and for $16 this is a 2 star wine.  Happy New Year!  Salut….

 

2016- Another year in wine


I am sitting in a hotel room in Hong Kong, far from home where it is nearly New Year.  I wrote my last tasting note of the year and realized I have not had a look back on posts for a while so I clicked on the 5 Stars tag link and started writing down the best wines I had drunk in 2016.  There are exactly 20 that made the top grade.  I won’t count them down, you can try them and decide for yourself but I will mention a few.  There are several really well priced gems in the group, which is one of the criteria I use to determine how many stars a wine gets.  Perhaps the steal of the year comes from Bulgaria, but there are numerous wines that I look back on and remember the pleasure they gave.  The Tahbilk was awesome, the older Bordeaux wines- amazing and then there was the Vergelegen.  It probably ranks the highest of the value wines in my 2016 wine year.  The St. Thomas is perhaps the top wine for me in 2016 followed by the Blue Eyed Boy

Each wine had a moment for me, and then there were the wines I just opened and did not review.

These are but two I recently enjoyed.  Many more were drunk throughout the year. If you go through my list of 5 star wines I am sure you will find many in local shops, try them out and decide for yourself- just savor the moment and make it a memory. Take a picture, write on the cork, peel and save the label.  Happy New Year, may you have a prosperous and safe year wherever you may be.

05 Canon- what a treat

05 Canon- what a treat

01 Cos, just because

01 Cos, just because

Nederberg The Winemasters Shiraz 2014

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I am currently in Asia and this was the last wine I drank in 2016.  We couldn’t resist the price, $11.50 for one bottle or $13 for two.  We bought two…
Medium purple in the glass.  A nose of plum torte, black berry jam and a touch of oak.  On the palate a very delicious, fresh offering of black fruits, spice and a very mellow set of tannins with opposing acidity.  A medium length finish caps off a subtle mid palate of plum and blackberry.  Overall a nice basic Shiraz that is not over the top but offers good value and would drink well with burgers, BBQ ribs or the kebab sandwiches we eventually ordered!  87 points from me make this a solid 3 star wine.  Salut….
nederburg the winemaster shiraz