Nova Cadamatre Reserve Riesling 2021, Finger Lakes, New York

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Medium lemon colored with a medium (+) intensity nose.  Right off the bat I get aromas of creamy tropical flowers- bizarre, I know.  Then…. Nougat mixed with tangerine, more bizarreness.  Followed by saline and some pithy citrus as well as a touch of petrol.  I am really perplexed by this wine.  The palate is dry and slightly bitter with medium body and high acidity, which I was expecting.  Flavors of subdued citrus and florals alongside the bitterness from pith carry through to the medium length finish.  I must say this is not what I was expecting, the flavors and aromas are off my normal path for this varietal.  I like the precision, minerality and cut of this wine- it’s like a laser, I just need to recalibrate to these new flavors and aromas.  I would give this $18 wine 90 points and drink with charcuterie or oysters on the half shell.  Be ready for some mouth puckering vibrancy- 5 stars.  Salut….

Arabella Reserve Pinotage 2020, Western Cape, South Africa

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Opaque, deep purple colored with slow moving legs (14% ABV).  The nose has aromas of dark plum, black cherry, purple licorice and a touch of smoke and coffee.  The palate is dry with medium (-) acidity and bold tannins that cover my cheeks.  Flavors of black cherry, blackberry and black plum with coffee and smoke on the back end.  There is a touch of bitterness on the finish showing perhaps some greeness in the tannins?   Full bodied with a medium finish, this is going to pair well with my grilled Tri-tip and Boerewors sausage.  Not overly complex or rich, it is tasty and easygoing wine with short term cellaring capacity.  I would drink this 87 pointer till 2025 and for $13 it’s a 4 star effort to stock up on for barbecues and parties.  Salut….

Phebus Torrontes 2021, Mendoza, Argentina

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Pale straw colored this aromatic grape has an intense nose.  Aromas of grape, orange zest, lemon, lime, florals and wet slate.  The palate is dry with cutting medium level acidity and a medium body.  Citrus driven with a hint of pith layered in floral notes make for a very delicious flavor profile.  The finish is quite long, concentrating on orange pith and lemon zest, the acidity doesn’t stop.  I like this wine- 90 points worth and for $14 it’s a 5 star porch-pounder that rings in at 12.5% ABV.  Get some in preparation for summer.  I would pair this with spice laden dishes, seafood or a crisp salad with grilled chicken.  Salut….

Ondine Chattan Gewurztraminer 2021, Mendocino, California

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Pale lemon colored this aromatic varietal has a pretty intense nose.  Aromas of pineapple, rose petals, white flowers, marshmallows and orange peel.  The palate is dry with medium acidity and a boatload of flavors.  I get exotic pineapple, orange pith, white flowers, rose water and that marshmallow note, which I have never encountered in wine.  There is a touch of bitterness that I think contributed to the orange pith note that sits on the roof of my mouth.  The acidity is very balanced with the level of fruit ripeness and this 13% ABV wine is medium to full bodied.  It’s certainly delicious and the finish carries for a decent length.  I love this varietal, hence the purchase.  This one would pair beautifully with some Thai food of medium spice or even Indian fare.  It’s rare to think of a wine harmoniously working with spicy foods but this one has the ripeness and acidity to go the distance.  I would drink this sooner rather than later and chill it slightly for maximum enjoyment.  89 points for this $14 effort making it a 4 star wine in my books.  Salut….

Sam Plunkett Forest Hut Vineyard Shiraz 2019, Pyrenees, Australia

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Somewhat hazy (unfiltered?) but a very opaque shade of ruby in the glass with medium legs and slight staining on the walls.  The nose is intense with gorgeous aromas of blueberry, blackcurrant, black cherry, menthol, elderberry, coffee bean and chocolate powder.  The palate is dry with medium (+) acidity and medium (+) tannins.  Really ripe flavors of black cherry, blueberry, blackcurrant and elderberry meld beautifully with the menthol and coffee notes.  Rich and full bodied this is a delicious wine that only rings in at 13.6% ABV, surprising to me.  The tannic structure is excellent, giving a nice and silky dryness to the mouthfeel while fading gently as the fruit continues to roll on to a long finish.  This is an outstanding Shiraz if you like them big and bold, which suits me fine for the Lamb chops I am grilling to pair with.  I would say this one has some cellaring capacity but is drinking beautifully now and will last until 2028.  92 points from me for this $17 wine makes it a hard to beat 5 star effort.  Salut….

Cooper’s Hawk Winery Barbera NV, California

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Pale ruby colored with some lightening on the edges and medium legs on the wall.  This Barbera is nicely aromatic with black raspberry, bilberry, perfume, mint and vanilla.  The palate is dry but I sense a tiny bit of residual sugar, but under the threshold of making it an off-dry wine.  Medium acidity and lithe tannins lead me to medium intensity flavors of black berries, mint, baking spice and vanilla.  There is a touch of bitterness (not from the tannins), on the mid-palate that sits on the roof of my mouth.  The body is medium (-) and the finish is medium in length.  I picked this $24 effort to go with Duck in Orange sauce, I think it will work well.  This is slightly atypical of the Italian Barberas I have tasted in that the tannins are very mild and the acidity is lower than expected, perhaps from a warmer climate than usual.  It gets 87 points from me and 3 stars.  Drink soon.  Salut….

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance Natural Sweet Wine 2016, Constantia, South Africa

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Part of our New Year’s Eve lineup, this iconic sweet dessert wine from South Africa is a deep gold color.  The nose blows me away with intense aromas of honey, Soursop (aka Guanabana), mango, apricot, quince and orange marmalade.  The palate is sweet and silky with medium acidity and a full body.  Ripe flavors of apricot, quince, mango candied ginger and soursop are enveloped with honey and white flower notes.  Unctuous without being cloying, this is a delicious yet young wine that slips down so easily.  The finish is long and silky with richness and a hint of almond to go along with the apricots and marmalade.  A stunning wine that runs $63 per 500ml bottle.   It gets north of 97 points from the pro’s.  I would have to agree.  Drinking window…. I love it now but will savor the other bottles I have over a period of time, till 2045 if you are patient.  5 stars for this Muscat of Frontignan varietal.  Stunning.  Salut….

St. Supery Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley, California

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For an eight year old wine, there is still plenty of opaque purple color, albeit with some garnet showing on the rim of this Napa Cabernet which ws served from a Double Magnum, aka a Jeroboam of wine.  Slow moving legs and a bit of staining on the walls give me clues of what to expect.  The nose has ample primary fruit aromas of black plum, blackberry, cassis, menthol, eucalyptus, black raspberry and cherry cola.  Baked black fruit hints are starting to emerge as this wine starts its evolution.  It’s still youthful with lots of cellaring ahead.  The palate is dry with medium acidity and medium tannins that are super smooth and fine grained.  Very rich black fruit flavors with some oak treatment caress my mouth, the spices and vanilla very faint.  It’s very balanced and smooth with a medium body and medium length finish.  I really like the fact that it is still rather primal yet the structure has really mellowed out and is a seamless play of acidity, balance and alcohol on a medium weight wine.  Delicious and worthy of 93 points from me.  A regular bottle will run you $45 making this a 5 star effort that has rewarded medium-term cellaring and will drink beautifully till 2028.  Salut….

Domaine Bernard Serveau Les Sentiers 2009, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, France

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Pale garnet colored, this 13 year old Pinot Noir is starting to show some age.  The nose  is too.  Baked cherry, dried strawberry, caramel, chocolate powder, orange peel, vanilla pod, figs and raisin compote- very layered with primary, secondary and tertiary aromas.  The palate is bone dry with medium (+) acidity and low tannins.  Flavors of dried and stewed red fruit with caramel and cocoa powder dominate.  It’s not as rich or complex as the nose was indicating.  Light bodied it carries through to a short finish that is comprised of tart cherry, cranberry and some caramel.  I was hoping for more from a 1er Cru Burgundy- 88 points with a drink till 2024 window.  It would normally run $50+ and therefore gets 3 stars from me.  We are pairing it with roast Turkey and all the accompaniments.  Salut….

Ixsir Altitudes Blanc 2021, Batroun, Lebanon

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Having just visited this winery where I tasted the 2022 from the still unbottled vats I had to bring home a bottle to share with Moxie.  It shows a beautiful medium straw-lemon color in the glass.  The nose has pronounced aromas of lemon, grapefruit, lychee, pineapple, white flower, a hint of vanilla bean and perhaps some bread.  The palate is dry and a touch bitter with grapefruit pith, lemon, rose, lychee, pineapple and a floral note making it quite a complex array of delicious flavors.  Medium acidity and a medium to full body take me to a finish that lasts a good 20 seconds and delves into the citrus and pith world.  It’s very floral and fruity with just the right amount of cut to make it a pleasing aperitif wine that I would pair with chicken and dare I say- spicy foods.  So glad this bottle survived my extensive travels from Beirut to the UK and finally home, well worth the effort.  A blend of Obeideh, Muscat and Viognier it can be found for $18 and gets 90 points from me making it a 5 star effort.  Salut….

Drinking from the vat