William Gordon Winery Petite Sirah 2016, Alexander Valley, California

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Deep purple colored with very thick, slow moving legs.  Surprising considering it’s only showing 13.5% ABV on the label.  The nose is very perfumed and fruity with blackcurrant, violets, blackberry preserves, coffee bean, vanilla, coconut, purple licorice and cedar shake.  The palate is dry with medium (+) acidity, high tannins and a full body.  Pronounced flavors of dark fruit that is a touch preserved along with toasty oak nuance and some floral hints.  The body of this wine just coats my mouth and makes for a gorgeous mouthfeel.  The finish is medium in length and the tannins literally coat my upper gums with fine-grained tingles.  This is a younger, more fruit forward vintage that I am thoroughly enjoying.  I would pair this with very hearty dishes and drink it till 2030.  94 points from me make this $40 bottle a 5 star effort.  Salut….

Heritage Winery tasting, Outer Coastal Plain, New Jersey

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My buddy Keef and I stopped in at this New Jersey winery to sample the wares.  We tasted the five Reserve offerings they had plus a bottle of their Norman’s Vineyard Cabernet Franc.  I was impressed by what I tasted.  The Chenin Blanc was spectacular- rich flavors, great mouthfeel and varietally correct.  The NJ twist on Sauvignon Blanc was another delicious wine that had telltale cut grass amongst other yummy flavors.  The rosé, a blend of 4 red grapes was very interesting and worth a re-taste.  I was not a huge fan of the two reds we were served until it came time for the Cabernet Franc.  Delicious- with dark/blue fruit, green pepper, medium (+) tannins, low acidity and good length.  Worthy of the $48 price point?  Not sure but it was a fun day out which makes the whole thing worthwhile.  If you are in South Jersey this is a definite detour to plan on.  Salut….

Chateau Kefraya 2016, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

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If you read my previous post about the Basque white we enjoyed at dinner, this is the follow up wine we ordered to accompany the Crescent Duck Breast, Young Broccoli, Rhubarb and Black Barley dish.  Spectacular is what I remember as there were no notes taken.  At 6 years of age this bottle looked a bit beat up but tasted great.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Cab Franc, Syrah and Cinsault thrown in for good measure it combines red fruit aromas/flavors with nicely integrated oak, supple tannins and spice box nuance alongside some tertiary notes of leather and tobacco. Really great mouthfeel and a decent length finish. If tasted properly I would score this 91 points and give it a drink till 2028 window to pair with red meat, Duck (obviously!) or even a hearty Ragout.  Yummy stuff to be had for under $20 that gets 5 stars from me. Salut….

Ulibarri Artzaiak Tzakoli 2018, Spain

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We went out for an amazing dinner that encourages ordering small plates of various dishes.  Our choices included:

Gnocco Fritto, Ricotta, Prosciutto di Parma, Preserved Lemon
Grilled Octopus, Romesco, Red Watercress, Garbanzo and Almond
Chicory Salad, Sunflower, Poppyseed, Meyer Lemon, Finger Lakes Gold Cheese
Burrata, Roasted Carrot, Carrot Top Pesto, Mint
Escargot Braised in Vichyssoise Butter, Potato Confit, Preserved Lemon
Fried Point Blue Crab and Pink Peppercorn Strozzapreti, Chile, Lemon, Old Bay Breadcrumb
Roasted Beet Mezzalune, Toasted Pistachio, Ricotta Salata, Brown Butter

Choosing a red wine would be hard for the appetizer section so I went with this white from the Basque Country.  Hondarabi Zuri is new to me- this one is medium/deep lemon colored.  High acidity makes it very fresh and lively  Medium (-) bodied I got intense aromas and flavors of lemon, white flowers, sea salt and lime zest.  It was delicious.  The finish was a tart and juicy affair that was medium in length.  A really nice wine that I think paired very well with our myriad of culinary angles.  I think this bottle retails for $23 and gets 90 points from me.  Serve chilled all summer long!  5 stars.  Salut….

La Rioja Alta S.A. Vina Ardanza Reserva 2015, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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Moxie and I are moving house next week so we are raiding the freezer and drinking all the un-tried wines.  Tonight is grilled Hangar steak and this Tempranillo from Spain.  Deep garnet colored, it shows its age and it’s 14.5% ABV with some thick legs in the glass.  The nose is beautiful aged Rioja.  Leather, tobacco, dried blackberry, stewed black plum, dark chocolate, game and prune.  The palate is dry and tart with fine grained, well integrated tannins.  Full bodied, this wine coats my mouth with flavors of dried and stewed black fruits, charred oak and dried, dusty bramble.  The leather and tobacco are still evident as is some red fruit; stewed strawberry?  The finish is medium in length and the fine tannins are tickling the roof of my mouth.  I like this wine but feel it is at peak if not slightly past, which is quite young for a Reserva.   92 points for this $30 bottle makes it a 5 star effort, drink till 2025.  Salut….

Amalthea Cellars Legends Edition Europa I 2019, Outer Coastal Plain, New Jersey

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We visited this winery a year ago and had a great time.  Part of the visit was spent on the patio sipping Sur Lie Chardonanny and talking to one of the wine makers, he was kind enough to give us a sampling of this Bordeaux blend (75% Cab Sav, 20% Merlot and 5% Cab Franc).  In the glass it is medium ruby and possibly unfiltered?  The nose gives me green pepper, blackberry, licorice, pencil shavings, blueberry pie, black plum  and some charred wood.  The palate is dry with medium acidity and medium tannins.  Flavors of blackberry, blueberry and plum dominate but the licorice and charred wood do come through.  The green pepper and pencil shavings are nowhere to be found.  The wine is medium bodied and has a slightly tart, medium length finish that I am enjoying.  This is a decent wine that gets 88 points from me.  Drink till 2026 with burgers, filet or roast duck.  At $35 per bottle it is a 3 star wine in my books.  Salut….

Dolce Late Harvest Wine 2012, Napa Valley, California

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I was a bit apprehensive when the cork snapped in two, hoping I could get the rest out without further ado.  I was lucky, just one floating bit.  You can never trust the provenance of a State liquor store bottle btw.  Having said that, this dessert wine is medium gold in color with very viscous legs in the glass.  The nose has pronounced aromas of apricot marmalade, honey, vanilla nib, candied lemon peel, creme caramel, peach pie and dried hazelnuts.  The longer it sits there the more tantalizing the nose gets.  The palate is sweet, as expected from this late-harvest and botrytized blend of Semillon and Sauvignon. Blanc.  There is some great acidity here that balances out the sugar perfectly leaving me with a very slippery wine with amazing mouthfeel that just transcends the palate from front to back with such ease.  The weight of this wine is sublime, full-bodied yet light and airy.  The finish is long and just a tad juicy from the acidity.  The whole package is amazing- worthy of 98 points that the pros at W.E. gave it.  For 375ml expect to pay $75.  A stunning 5 star wine that I will be serving with Blue Cheese and crackers after dinner.  Salut….

Hubert Meyer Riesling Winzenberg 2018, Alsace Grand Cru, France

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The thing that annoys me about Riesling is that most labels don’t tell you if it’s going to be dry, off-dry or sweet.  Deductive reasoning tells me this bottle is going to be dry due to it’s 13.5% ABV.  A very pretty medium lemon color in the glass with pronounced aromas of lemon zest, grapefruit pith, petrol, geranium and ripe pear.  It tastes dry as expected with very high acidity and a delicious cut of lemon/grapefruit.  The ripe pear note is more a green pear note on the palate but I do get florals and petrol.  I can sense the alcohol if I breath out through my nose, which is unusual for me as my threshold is pretty high to sense the burn.  I would say this wine is medium bodied and it has a juicy, tart finish that is medium in length.  It begs for Asian dishes or a grilled seafood platter.  I like it but think it will develop over time.  Right now it is really zesty with just a few primary flavors.  It should flesh out and develop with time as it has great structure for cellaring.  92 points from me for this $60 bottle makes it a 4 star effort.  Salut….

William Gordon Winery Petite Sirah 2015, Alexander Valley, California

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I love Petite Sirah, it’s one of my go-to varietals and this winery has been pivotal in my conversion to the grape.  They have changed the label but I hope the contents are as good as the 2013/4.  Inky purple in the glass it has very glossy, thick legs showing off the 14% ABV.  The nose has a heavy-handed charred oak whiff right off the bat.  Once that subsided I get very ripe plum, dark black raspberry, coconut, clove,  blueberry pie and vanilla bean.  The palate is dry with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) tannins, full body and rich, ripe black fruit flavors intertwined with luscious oak nuance.  The charred oak note is prevalent in that department but I do get some vanilla and coconut.  This is a rich wine that has layers of interesting fruit that show off California sunshine.  The finish is medium in length and the really fine-grained yet hefty tannins leave my jaw tingling.  Lovely stuff that gets 93 points from me and for $36 it’s a 5 star effort to pair with big steaks or hearty stews.  I bought several bottles and plan to drink till 2030.  Salut….

Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas ‘Les Souteyrades Vieilles Vignes’ 2019, Rhone, France

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I drank the 2017 Les Souteyrades back in October, served with Tri-tip roast, and loved it.  Tonight is a repeat with this newer vintage.  Medium ruby colored in the glass it offers up medium intensity aromas of red raspberry, black cherry, licorice, spicy oak, dried thyme and bacon fat.  The palate is dry with medium acidity, medium tannins, a medium (+) body and delicious flavors of raspberry, black cherry, spice, toasted oak and licorice. The finish is long and a touch astringent from the tannins that are very smooth, of medium intensity yet persistent.  I like this $35 blend of Grenache and Mourvedre a lot , like 94 points worth.  I would drink/cellar this 5 star effort till 2032 at the least, it will develop nicely.  Salut….