Nativ Taurasi ‘Rue 333’ 2011, Campania, Italy

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I bought some of this wine earlier in the year but the bottles were damaged in shipment.  The vendor sent me replacemens once it cooled down.  I’m glad they did!

The wine in nearly black in the glass.  The nose of blackberry and violets has an oaky touch that adds a certain delicious factor.  It’s more of a vanilla bean flavor but it is appropriate here.  The initial tastes of black fruit get melded with some very dry tannins that really get to my gums.  The wine transcends the mid palate with a shift to plums and coconut.  The dryness really reaches a peak on the finish where the fruit flavors meet spicebox.  I don’t sense an abundance of acidity which would help the wine’s cellaring potential, but think it will last until 2020 at the very least.  I hope some secondary flavors evolve, I’m optimistic.  It is 100% Aglianico, which happens to be one of my favorite grapes.  91 points. It gets 5 stars for the value it presents at $20.  Salut….

Dao Sul Paco dos Cunhas de Santar ‘Nature’ 2012, Dao, Portugal

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Portugal is where it’s at in the value wine market today.  Inky, dark and brooding in the glass.  The nose is of black berries, iodine.  The palate is full of dark fruits, a hint of oak, sweet black grapes and an earthiness.  The mid palate transcends that profile and adds some very integrated tannins to the mix.  The finish is long, dry and inky.  Black berry pie finishes it all off at the end.  It is a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro.  91 points, and an amazing 5 stars for this $11 marvel.  To be bought by the case in my opinion.  Drink till 2024.  I’m having mine with grilled kale salad and London broil.  Salut….

Marques de Riscal Reserva 2011, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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I have a history with this wine.  It was introduced to me by friends, one of whose father was Chairman of the Board way back in the day.  I have drunk many vintages over the past 20 years and look forward to each bottle.  Quality can be a little inconsistent over the years but generally speaking this is a very good staple for the cellar.  This particular vintage is dark and brooding in the glass  It offers up notes of lush blackberry with lashings of black cherry pie and vanilla.  On the palate I get some raisin, blackberry, tar and almond. Very Tempranillo-like.  The tannins are quite polished and unobtrusive.  They join the party midpalate and carry through to the medium length finish.  The flavors are mostly primal right now but I sense that development is forthcoming and this wine will evolve nicely.  The predominance of that earthy tar component really excites me as this is my favorite Tempranillo trait.  This wine will drink well till 2025 at the least and begs for roasted meats, a hearty game stew or some heavy duty cheese.  I’m going 90 points, and for $16 this is a 4 star effort.  Salut….

Dao Sul Quinta de Cabriz ‘Cabriz’ 2014, Dao, Portugal

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$4….  Yup, even though it’s only 375ML (half a bottle).  I could not help myself to try this Portuguese blend of Touring Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Alfrocheiro.  As much as I love the wines from Portugal, they seldom appear in smaller stores, restaurants or places I would be traveling to.

This wine is inky, which bodes well for me!  The nose is somewhat muted right now, but there are signs of black fruit, tar, charcoal.  The initial palate has very precise flavors of black berry, kirsch and creosote.  The wine is precise, with more black fruits on the mid palate that parallel the fine grained tannins and barely perceptible acidity.  The alcohol is low at 13% which merits mention.  The minerality of this wine pops up towards the finish and shows off graphite, charcoal and licorice.  The finish has a nice ending of blackberry alongside the drying tannins.  I’m going to agree with the 90 point rating it got and give it 5 stars for the value here.  I can think of several pairings, but am enjoying it so much all by itself that I won’t bore you.  Drink till 2022.  Salut….

Vignamaggio Il Morino Tusacany 2015, Italy

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It’s pasta for a quick pre-ballet dinner with my daughter so I needed a quick and easy Italian wine.  This one rolled in the other day at $10 so I figured it was worth a shot.  The glass shows off a decent color palette of purple that is somewhat see-through.  The nose offers red berries, raspberry and some clove.  The Sangiovese in the blend gives me some cherry notes on the palate while the Merlot component brings out some  plum while adding a bit of backbone to the wine.  On the mid palate is where I get a nuttiness, almonds and a touch of oak.  The wine has some very dry tannins that kick in on the finish and add a bite to the gums.  Acidity is nice and the wine is balanced.  I’m not sure I would go as high as the pros with 92, more like 89 points for me.  Still a good value IMHO and worthy of 4 stars.  Perfect for the midweek pasta dish or perhaps a thin crust wood oven pizza.  Drink till 2020.  Salut….

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015, Australia

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After trying the Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon I had to line up their Shiraz and make some comparisons.  This Shiraz displays nicely in the glass with medium opacity, purple hues and a definite show of legs.  The nose is somewhat muted even after a few big swirls.  I finally coax blackberries and eucalyptus out of it.  On the palate I get black fruits with a dose of greeness that is very prominent.  There is a touch of cedar as the wine transitions to the mid palate.  I sense very fine grained tannins approaching along with a dark cherry note.  The black fruits continue on the finish but the tannins overwhelm them in the end.  The wine has a strong acidity that I can sense on my teeth.  The green notes I talked of earlier reappear on the finish.  It’s almost like the fruit included some unripe clusters that have given this wine a certain sourness along with the over abundant acidity.  85 points from me and 2 stars for this $12 effort.  Salut….

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Coonawarra, Australia

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Dark blackish purple in the glass. An interesting nose of sweet dark plums, sasparilla, oak and ginger.  On the palate I get very precise flavors of plum ganache, dark chocolate, violets and the beginnings of some very fine grained tannins.  The mid palate shows a bitterness I can’t figure out.  The tannins however really kick in.  The finish is a really strange compilation of blueberry pie, oak, astringent tannins and that odd bitterness.  It detracts from the full potential of this wine and makes it an 88 point wine IMHO.  I paid $12 and give it 4 stars.  I would like to re-taste in a few years, perhaps it will mellow out and gain some balance whilst losing the bitterness.  Salut….

Jacob's Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Olarra Clasico Reserva 2009, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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When I see a wine that advertises a 97 point Decanter (or any other reputable critic for that matter) rating that I can get for under $14 it’s a must try.  So I bought a bunch of this back in 2015 and forgot about them, until now.  The wine is a medium purple with a touch of orange.  On the nose, very fresh aromas of black cherry, blueberry and some oak. On the palate I get just what I was hoping for.  Vibrant blue fruits, rich plum, some creosote and olive.  The wine has a tannic streak that starts at the beginning and crescendos at the finish.  The mid palate shows off some Tempranillo earthiness and some rhubarb, the sour kind.  That is where I sense acidity and it balances the package nicely.  The finish is medium in length and has hints of spice box and more earthiness.  A blend of Tempranillo and Garanacha.  I can’t see 97 points, more like 90.  Having said that- for the price, it’s a major 5 star wine.  Drink till 2025.  I’m having Chorizo, a Spanish style salad and grilled asparagus with mine.  Salut….

Pier Rio Sordo 2009, Barbaresco DOCG, Italy

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I’m not a huge Barbaresco fan, I have to admit.  Not because I don’t like it, I just don’t know anything about it.  I am trying to broaden  my palate and saw this offer come up, it was only $20 and got a good score- worth a punt as they say.

It shows well in the glass, a thick purple, somewhat opaque but healthy looking.  The nose offers up a really nice Old World funk that I love.  Plum, cherry pie and some oak are all present.  I’m looking forward to this Nebbiolo….

On the palate I am pleasantly surprised, I think I like Barbaresco!  This wine has depth and lots of fruit flavor.  Rich plums, black berries, some black olives and an earthy component give way to some very well ingrained tannins.  They take over on the mid palate and really dry out the gums.  It is a nice sensation and makes for a long lived wine which has enough acidity to balance the package out.  The berry fruit comes out again on the finish with an oak hit.  The tannins are really searing by now, which makes this wine beg for a hearty Ragu, maybe a Ribeye steak.  I’m guessing this wine is only a youngster and will develop for many years, gaining complexity and tertiary flavors.  Drink now if you like them bold, dry and tannic, but cellar till 2022 for a more mellow affair.  I think this wine is worthy of 91 points, and 5 stars!  Salut….

Marchesi de Frescobaldi Castello di Nipozzano 2012, Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG, Italy

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It’s a pasta/Italian kinda night here at the chateau so I decided to open a Chianti Rufina to keep with the theme.  In the glass, it shows off a reddish hue but not opaque.  The nose is somewhat muted but gives off whiffs of plum, some oregano and a dried bark component.  The initial taste is an acidic attack with some dark cherry, dried herbs and a touch of oak.  The fruit is somewhat cloaked I’m afraid.  The mid palate is mostly a tannic affair with some faint fruit notes from the initial attack.  The finish is long, with some nice acidity balancing the tannins as well as a dose of Kirsch.  I paid $18 for this 89 pointer and give it 3 stars, it’s kinda boring in my opinion- perhaps it’s in a dumb phase.  Sangiovese is the main player here folks.  Ps.  I’m serving grilled Squid, Tortellini and some Zucchini pasta with pine nuts.  Salut….