Mas de Boislauzon La Chaussynette 2015, Rhone, Vin de France

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A reasonably priced number that hails from France, the Rhone Valley to be more precise.  It is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre typical for the region.  I bought it on sale for under $10, but it normally sells for $15.

A very pretty medium depth purple color bodes well!  On the nose I get raspberry, spice, a hint of smoky oak and some bacon fat.  The initial palate suggests more of the same, which is really a treat.  I enjoy all those flavors melded together.  The tannins are really nice, juicy and not too dry.  They complement the fruit and don’t overpower. This wine has a great feeling mid palate, with some cassis, black olives and more raspberry making appearances.  The finish is nice, longer than expected and offers an oaky tinge along with the fruit and tannins.  I have to say, this is a really good wine, far more complex than the price would allude to, far tastier than I imagined and it has some short term cellaring potential to boot.  I am drinking it with some Broccoli Cheddar soup, which seems to work really well.  It would pair great with some thin crust brick oven pizza, perhaps even a Beef stew.  I have to go 91 points, which is above and beyond the rating I saw, and award this wine 5 stars for sure.  I wish I ordered more.  Salut….

Quinta do Noval Unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009, Portugal

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I have harped many times about the quality and price coming out of Portugal.  Always good, rarely pricy- you can count on it in a pinch.  This Port is part of my study into the fortified wines of Portugal.  I am having fun doing it and have discovered some really tasty, near $20 dessert style wines that have really become part of my after-dinner ritual.  This one starts out very dark purple in the glass and has a nose of sweet verbena, dark fruit melange and oaky blueberry reduction.  The palate shows off a slightly lighter style of Port, black cherry, dark fruits and stout oak.  On the mid palate I get cedar plank, dark berry and a tannic streak.  The wine is tasty, but slightly dry and dusty.  I’m enjoying it and hope it develops.  For now, 88 points which is in stark contrast top the whopping 94 points it got from the big boys.  Perhaps it needs some time, or else I need to recalibrate my palate fifty these wines!  I recommend some soft cheese, and maybe something stinky like Cambozola to go with this one.  I might have to get another bottle to cellar.  Priced at $24, it gets 3 stars initially, hoping for 4 at a future tasting.  Salut….

Clos St. Thomas ‘Chateau St. Thomas’ Rouge 2000, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

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It’s not often I get to drink a 17 year old wine, but I received two bottles of the 2000 St. Thomas recently.  Given to me by a cousin and hand carried by my uncle half way across the globe.   I was very gentle in opening the bottle, using my Two Prong Puller to prevent any cork failure.  There was none, in fact the cork looked very good.  The wine has a burnt hue to it, a slight bricking which is expected at this age.  It is pretty dark though which is interesting.  On the nose I initially got a dank whiff which has since blown off.  I now get a fresh dose of plums, some tobacco and espresso bean.  The palate is wonderful- soft, flavorful, balanced and easy to drink.  Flavors of black berry, toasty oak, cherry, leather and cassis all hit me in layers.  The mid palate offers up the tannins, bone dry and and still a force to be reckoned with.  The acidity is juicy, yet not tart- balanced.  The finish is long, with loads of tannin, dark fruit compote and more of the coffee/tobacco that I got on the nose.  This wine believe it or not, is young.  I see room for more development, more mellowing and believe the structure is there to hold it all together.  It is a delicious, dry wine that begs for charcoal grilled Filets, which is what I am going to cook.  An amazing wine from a distant relative’s winery that is excellent in every facet.  91 points from me for this vintage.  I have no idea on price but newer vintages are running $22 and are equally delicious, even in their relative youth.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.  I would give this wine 5 stars for sure.  See my reviews of other St. Thomas vintages.  Salut….

Koyle Royale Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile

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Dark purple.  Nice nose of dark currant, mint and oak slivers.  On the palate it is a pleasing wine with freshness, good dry tannins and flavors of Ribena, plum, bitter chocolate as well as a meaty note.  The tannins really kick in on the mid palate and the finish.  The wine is full bodied, full flavored and not shy about its structure.  It is somewhat tilted toward the tannic end with hardly discernible acidity at this time.  I think this wine needs some cellaring for a year or two to mellow out just a touch.  I’m going to be pessimistic and go with 90 points but I think it may improve.  If you must drink it now pair with Lamb Shanks and Couscous or maybe a seasoned T-bone on the charcoal.  I paid $12.80 each for two bottles on sale.  Regularly $21. 4 stars.  Salut….

Koyle Royale Cabernet Sauvignon

Borgo M Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT 2015, Italy

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My son is visiting from Nashville so we decided to order some Chinese food.  Faced with trying to pair reds with Mogolian Beef, Walnut Crisp Shrimp, General Tso…. I gave up and looked in the fridge.  I wanted something on the lower side of the alcohol scale.  This crisp Pinot Grigio rings in at 12.5%, perfect for my Far Eastern foray.  It shows a pretty gold and pink hue in the glass and offers lemon zest, pineapple and green apple on the nose.  On the palate it is not as crisp as I had imagined, slightly more weighty and silky.  It reminds me of unoaked Chardonnay in a way.  Waxy, pear, apple and citrus peel.  The mid palate is really interesting with more green fruits, melon and a hint of beeswax.  The finish has that classic lemon profile.  This Italian Pinot Grigio is more akin to Oregonean or even Alsatian Pinot Gris with it’s heavier profile, darker complexion and flavor charachteristics.  I’m not complaining, it’s a decent wine and I am enjoying it immensely with my exotic dinner.  89 points and 5 stars for this $10 wine that needs to be stocked in multiples!  Drink now till 2018.  Salut….

F E Trimbach Riesling 2013, Alsace, France

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It’s been a while since I had this brand, always dependable in the white arena.  The wine starts off very pale yellow in the glass.  The nose offers up peach, pineapple and some pecan nut.  It is really a different profile, but enjoyable nonetheless.  The palate shows off lemon curd, stone fruit, cardamom and a crisp green apple note.  The wine is juicy, like mouth watering.  The acidity is ever so present and persistent yet not obtrusive.  The mid palate is more of the star fruit meets pineapple variety.  It is unique and tasty.  The finish is rather short and tart with some more of the lemon hints.  I pulled this wine out for the Blackened Salmon with Garlic infused Kale that I am preparing.  I’m onto something with this pairing.  If you haven’t read my Evolution of a wine drinker, now is a good time to go back to 2014 when I wrote it.  The same rings true today.  Drink this wine now and for the next 5 years.  90 points and 5 stars for this $14 perennial go-to Riesling.  Salut….

Herdade Do Esporao Monte Velho 2015, Alentejano, Portugal

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See through in the glass is this blend of 40% Aragonez, 35% Trincadeira, 20% Touriga Nacional and the balance of Syrah.  On the nose it it musty- with some oak, blueberry and green pepper.  Kinda funky and different if you ask me.  The palate is a different story with primal flavors of blueberry, cedar, and graphite.  As the wine gets to the midpalate it adds some acidity and juiciness by way of rhubarb, (which I hated as a kid BTW).  Tannins are very fine grained and perceptible mainly on the finish.  A dryness envelops the gums and I feel balance.  The cedar I mentioned earlier comes out again on the back end and mingles with some more blue fruits.  There is an astringency that hits right at the very end that detracts a bit but overall this is a decent wine for the $6.88 I paid for it.  That’s right, under 7 bucks for a decent weekday quaffer that gets 87 points from me, therefore making it a 4 star wine.  Salut….

Peju Province Winery Merlot 2014, Napa Valley, USA

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A really dark purple in the glass which is getting me excited.  The nose is pure pleasure.  Sweet plums, a hint of oak and a creaminess I can’t even describe.  This wine is going to be the business- I just know it.

On the palate it is super duper smooth.  Blackberry, cocoa and pomegranate come to mind.  The tannins pop on the mid palate and dominate the dry finish.  I also get some red currants right at the end.  This wine is multi layered and I expect it to cellar well into 2022.  I’m really enjoying it all by its lonesome but envision roasted duck with root veg and an elderberry gravy might hit the spot.  92 points for this $35 effort and 5 stars.  Salut….

Whitehall Lane Winery & Vineyards Merlot 2014, Napa Valley, USA

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Bright purple presentation.  The nose is blackberry, sage, eucalyptus and pine needle.  The initial palate is vibrant, full of black fruit, bright acidity and Ribena.  The mid palate takes a turn.  The fruit is dark and brooding, giving way to the clash between the acidity and the tannins.  They are balanced mind you, just in the forefront.  They taper off on the finish and allow notes of blackberry pie, vanilla bean and blueberries to close it out.  This is a bold wine, full of fruit, structure and a solid mouthfeel.  It really could use some grilled meats, au gratin and a big salad to tone it down a touch.  Impressive if you ask me.  91 points.  $25 and 4 stars.  Salut….

Adega Cooperativa de Cantanhede Marques de Marialva Reserva 2013, Bairrada, Portugal

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I have said it recently and i will affirm it again- Portugal is a go-to wine source.  In tonight’s case, I needed something full of flavor to go with Braised Lamb Shanks in Rosemary Mint sauce.  Sounds fancy huh?  Costco…

This particular wine rings in at $11 and was worth a punt when I saw it with free shipping.  Here goes-  It comes in at 13% and is a blend of 50% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tinta Roriz and 20% Baga.  It is of medium shade in the glass and has no ‘legs’.  The nose is of dark fruits and wood smoke.  I also get some spice, like cinnamon.  On the palate, this wine is very soft, gentle and supple.  The flavors of black cherry, plum and espresso are very tasty.  The mid palate shows off some very fine tannins and an earthiness along with cherry.  The finish is somewhat tart, with acidity coming through as cherry and rhubarb.  This wine is rocking the full flavored Lamb and has just the right amount of acidity to cut the fat while the flavors complement the herbs of the dish.  I am going 90 points and 5 stars for this bargain.  Drink now till 2022.  Salut….