Bodegas Escudero Vidau 2005, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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Murky, dark purple in the glass.  The nose has Blackberry, some funk and creosote.  I have a feeling this wine might be off unfortunately.  Let’s see.

On the palate, it does taste slightly off. The murkiness of the wine may be a clue.  There is a stewed fruit component for sure alongside some really nice tannins.  Unfortunate.  The wine needs a re-taste, which will happen soon. 

 

Clear vs. murky

Bottle number 2 was definitely showing better in the glass.  That murkiness is not apparent, the color a much purer purple.  The nose has a perfumed scent, black berry and violets come to mind.  The palate is far better this time around.  Dark fruits, boysenberry and black olives.  The mid palate is fresh and lively with some nice acidity to go alongside the medium tannins.  More dark fruit emerges with tapenade and smoky flavors appearing.  The finish is quite dry, not astringent at all.  The blackberry fruits really shine with some cedar notes.  This is a tasty wine with depth and complexity.  It has had 10+ years in the cellar and is on pointe now.  92 points and 4 stars for this $45 Tempranillo.  Really tasty- it will pair great with Tapas, a Filet or even a toasted cheese sandwich!  Salut….  

 

Nederburg The Winemasters Pinotage 2016, Western Cape, South Africa

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Opaque, murky and dark purple in the glass.  I always think of Pinotage as a very black grape, with medicinal notes, herbs, creosote and violets. Let’s see what this $12 offering gives

On the nose I get telltale tar, kerosene and purple fruits.  On the initial it is textbook- charcoal, violets, that earthy creosote and plums.  Loads of plums.  Spices add to the tannins in the mid-palate, namely cinnamon.  This is a tasty wine folks.  The finale is very restrained, tannins are present but not overpowering.  Acidity is lithe and the plummy notes are in force.  89 points and 5 stars.  Drink till 2022 with wild game, roasted chicken or moussaka.  Salut….

Castillo De Albai Reserva 2014, Rioja, Spain

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Bright purple, semi opaque.  Bramble, earthiness and blackberry on the nose.  On the palate I get more black fruits, delicious integrated oak, lithe tannins and good acidity.  There is a juicy fruit preserve component on the midpalate that I’m really enjoying.  Licorice hits me on the back end alongside chocolate powder, interesting.  This wine is not overly built, it drinks well and has some cellaring potential .  90 points and 4 stars for this $14 value.  Salut….

Michael Pozzan Annabella Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Napa Valley, USA

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Cherry nose.  Iodine, plum and cigar box on the initial. Nice gentle tannins introduce themselves on the midpalate alongside bramble.  The plums are really juicy in this wine.  The finish gives me prune, black cherries and tobacco.  Really tasty and easy to drink.  Till 2024.  89 points and 3 stars for this $14 wine.  Salut….

Raats Cabernet Franc 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Very dark purple in the glass.  Bramble, creosote, black berries and blueberry jam on the nose.  On the palate this is a tannic beast- full of dark fruits, young and brooding.  It is laced with blackberries, toasty oak and mouth coating tannins.  The midpalate has some telltale violets- the varietal shines thru.  On the finish this wine offers black berries, more charred wood notes and those really grippy tannins.  A touch young- it needs aerating or cellaring. Drink till 2027 with braised lamb, Moussaka or a thick steak.  91 points and 4 stars for this $40 Cab Franc.  Salut….

Chateau Brane-Cantenac 2012, Margaux, France

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Rich purple hues in the glass with classic Bordeaux notes on the palate.  Cassis, lovely oak and dark cherry are dominant on the nose.  On the palate it is slightly thinner than expected but its litheness is appreciated.  Plums, blackberry reduction, black olives and charcoal dominate the initial palate.  Very lithe tannins peak on the mid palate with very slight acidity countering them.  The finish is where the astringency kicks in with black tea, black currants and spice box.  This wine is drinking very nicely now and will improve over the next 10 years.  92 points and 4 stars for this $55 Grand Cru.  Salut….

Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir 2015, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa

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Dark yet not very opaque.  Typical for the varietal.  Gorgeous nose of cherry reduction, dare I say mushrooms and old oak.  The palate is super smooth and full bodied, showing off cherries and cola.  The oak is dominant in this wine, but not obtrusive. The mid palate is round and slightly tannic. The cherries march on and the wine finishes with coconut notes, probably from the wood.  91 points and 4 stars for this $44 effort.  Drink this Pinot Noir till 2025 with pasta, roasted Chicken or a cheese and salami plate.  Salut….

R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia ‘Vina Cubillo’ Crianza 2009, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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Medium color and opacity.  Nose of plum, earth and licorice.  The initial palate is quite sour, acidic but refreshing with blueberry, plums and creosote.  The mid palate is more sour cherry-like with that bracing acidity really taking over.  The finish has more cherry than blue fruits and is where the tannins finally appear.  Slightly unbalanced but tasty nonetheless.  88 points and 3 stars- $22.  Drink now.  Salut….

Bodegas Bioenos Pulchrum Crespiello 2012, Cariñena, Spain

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Dark purple and showing some legs in the glass.  The nose is vibrant with black currants, licorice and oak.  On the palate this is delicious folks.  Ribena, blackberry jam and toasty oak hit me all at once.  There is a cherry stream that appears on the midpalate alongside vanilla bean.  Tannins are in check, melded and balanced with the acidity.  The finish is warm, almost alcoholic but at 14% I must be imagining things.  There is a charred oak note in the finish that is perfect for the dark berry fruit notes.  This wine is drinking beautifully and will do so till 2025.  I wish I had some Osso Bucco laying around , or even shepherds pie.  Look for this rare varietal-  Crespiello, it is an interesting one for sure.  92 points and 5 stars for its $25 price tag.  Salut….

Vineyard at Hershey Gewurtztraminer NV, Pennsylvannia

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Super light yellow in the glass, made me look twice.  The nose is floral with lemon and pineapple notes.  On the palate I get peach right off the bat.  Apricot and citrus hit me on the midpalate where the acidity starts to kick in.  The wine is really light and bouncy with nice crisp mouthfeel.  The tail end is more subdued on the flavors, mainly a pear component.  This wine is intriguing in its multitude of flavors, definitely worth looking out for.  I’m pairing it with salmon Alfredo.  It begs for a hot summers evening outside with some oysters and chorizo.  89 points and 3 stars for this $18 bottle. Salut….