Mt. Luxxe Vineyards Zinfandel 2017, Lodi, California

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I don’t drink Zins very often, but when I find one I like- I remember it and revisit.  I was not a huge fan initially of the last Zin I drank, the Turley Zin turned out much better after a day or so.

This one shows semi opaque in the glass and has a lovely reddish hue to the purple color.  On the nose I get raspberries, red currants and cinnamon stick.  The palate is very rich with a nice thrust of raspberry coulis and mulling spices.  There’s a really nice set of tannins that caress the gums without stripping the enamel off my teeth alongside a juicy acidity that hits the mid palate.  The red fruit theme continues with some steeped rhubarb and spices.  This is not a jammy Zin, but is full bodied with rich flavors and a really nice, long finish.  The warmth I get on the backend is also very interesting.  Really tasty with a decent level of complexity and aging capacity make this a 91 point wine IMHO.  I paid a paltry $9.99 for it but it normally retails for $40.  4 stars with a drinking window till 2027.  I’m flash cooking some thin Ribeyes that will pair nicely.  Salut….

KWV The Legend of Big Bill Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Western Cape, South Africa

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It’s a rich shade of purple with thick legs and an opaque hue.  The nose is fresh, briny and full of purple fruits.  On the palate I get primal black berries, dark cherry and iodine laced oak.  The mid palate is fruity, juicy and shows off a slight tannic bite.  The dark fruits are well at play and overshadow the structural components.  The finish has a nice crunchy set of tannins that interplay with the fruit and acidity.  This wine is a touch green but I am enjoying it’s youth and basic fruitiness.  It has some structure for the short to medium term cellaring but I feel it won’t evolve too much.  This is a very decent everyday drinker that will serve well against burgers, ribs, pasta and pizza.  It gets 87 points from me and for $9 it’s a 3 star wine.  Drink till 2022.  Salut…

Grand Napa Vineyards Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Napa Valley, California

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This Napa Cab pours a rich deep purple in the glass and is totally opaque.  On the nose it’s all Cali sunshine- rich blackberry, plum jam, figs and vanilla.  On the plate it lives up to its billing.  Rich fruits, cassis, ripe tannins and a touch of acidity.  The mouthfeel on this one is stupendous.  I am enjoying swirling the wine but it gets really good on the mid palate where espresso adds another angle as does plum jam.  The finish is somewhat drier yet still reserves the spotlight for the primal fruits.  It has good structure, if not somewhat muted by the fruit forward style of this gem.  It will age well and hopefully develop some tertiary flavors.  This could be a monster folks.  94 points from me.  It’s pricy at a list of $135, but I found it elsewhere for less.   I’m pairing this 5 star wine with Char-grilled Ribeyes.  Drink till 2030.  Salut….

Cameron Hughes Lot 726 Charbono 2018, Napa Valley, California

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It’s a very dark shade of purple in the glass, very inviting.  On the nose I get sweet blackberries, plum extract and cherry cola.  The palate is interesting- ripe black fruit, capsicum greeness, some cherry and dried fruit.  The mid palate is very fruit forward and I get tons more of that dark cherry cola note alongside some slightly green tannins that are a touch bitter.  The back end is very dry from the structure and there is a modicum of acidity.  If you like ’em dry, this one’s for you.  The finish is decent in length and continues the theme.  I like this wine but think it may have some ripeness issues.  88 points from me and drink till 2024.  For $18 this Charbono, also known as Bonarda, is a 3 star wine.  If you have never had this varietal, give it a try!  Salut….

La Rasina Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015, Tuscany, Italy

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In the glass this Sangiovese is very dark, opaque and brooding.  On the nose it is perfumed with some bold cherry notes, black currants and spicy oak.  The palate is delicious folks- ripe black cherry, crispy tannins, juicy acidity and cedar.  The mid palate is stunning too with more of that juicy fruit and a shift to some red currants, rhubarb, game and cherry compote.  The finish displays a nice balance between the medium grip tannins and the acidity.  Judicious use of oak is evident as there is a touch of it on the back end but it is not obtrusive.  This is a well made wine that I am thoroughly enjoying whilst making spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and Caeser Salad.  93 points for this $50 stunner that will drink well till 2030.  I’m going with 5 stars.  Salut….

Vinos Sin-Ley Gra2 Graciano 2011, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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I don’t recall ever having a pure Graciano, it’s normally used as a blending grape.  In the glass it is a pale shade of purple and is fully opaque.  On the nose I get charred plums, black berries and a stewed fruit note.  The palate is interesting with brooding dark fruits, oak and a vanilla bean note. The tannic structure is very well ingrained in this 9 year old bottle.  They are present but not foreboding.  The black fruits show up on the mid palate with a touch of bitterness, there is a green note too.  On the finish is where I get some nice acidity to go with the oaky fruit compote.  There is a nice dryness on the back end from the tannins.  The wine is a pleasure to drink but that midpalate greeness has me concerned.  This will drink well till 2025 and pair nicely with pasta, roasted chicken and certainly grilled steak.  I’m going 89 points and 3 stars for the $12 price point.  Salut….

Turley Wine Cellars Old Vines Zinfandel 2017, California, USA

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The last wine of our Virtual tasting #8 was this highly regarded Zin which rolls in at $35.  I selected it because I really like this winery and was thinking it would be interesting to have two wines from the same winemaker, albeit different varietals to showcase the winemaker’s style and skill.  There were 8 different groups tasting this wine and I recorded their collective notes.

The wine starts off with a nice purple shade of medium opacity.  Fine legs on the sidewalls gave away the 15.5% alcohol, which was not evident on the palate- well disguised!  The immediate reaction to the nose was ‘Grandmothers attic!  A good swirl and more traditional aromas of baked cherries, rhubarb, cherry, currant, plum and dusty mocha were mentioned alongside descriptors of svelte, brooding, jammy and finally mothballs.  Back to the closet I guess!

On the palate members of the group noted sassafras, huckleberry, cinnamon and Jalapeño.  I found the wine to be complex but the finish brought up some interesting comments.  Stinky Brie, green and bitter notes were mentioned but I thought the wine was balanced between lithe tannins and gentle acidity.  Pepper was the predominant feature for me.  I was not overly impressed by this wine on night one and will re-taste tonight.  For now I’m going with 89 points, a stark contrast fro the 92 it got from some of the pros.  3 stars initially.  Drink till 2025.  Salut….

UPDATE- I re-tasted the wine after a 24 hour period and have revised my score to 91. It improved dramatically.  The complexity was evident- 4 stars.

 

Turley Wine Cellars Bechtoldt Vineyard Cinsault 2018, Lodi, USA

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I wanted to introduce a pure Cinsault to our wine tasting group.  It’s a very difficult grape to source as a standalone because it’s traditionally a blending grape.  I have had some delicious wines that rely heavily on Cinsault, which reminds me of Pinot Noir in its structure and finesse.  In fact- Pinotage is a cross of the two grape varietals.

The wine is very pale red and see-through.  The nose gave us cigar box, perfume, cherry, raspberry, cedar, black cherry, maple syrup, mulling spices, strawberry and cardamom.  The palate was peppery with black cherry, jello, earth, pomegranate, violets and was considered ‘spicy’.

I thoroughly enjoyed this lighter style of wine that had gentle tannins, decent acidity and a really nice mouthfeel.  92 points from me for this $25 charmer that gets 5 stars.  Drink with lighter fare till 2028.  Salut….

Champalou Vouvray 2019, Loire, France

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The second wine of Tasting #8 was another Chenin Blanc, this time from Vouvray.  Served at room temperature first we noted a pale gold color.  The nose was flowery, with honeycrisp apple, honey, green apples, honeysuckle and pear.  The palate is somewhat sweet with several participants noting canned pear with it’s syrupy goodness.  I got passion fruit but the wine had a bitter aftertaste.

The chilled version was very interesting.  Oatmeal, burnt honey, Graham cracker, butter and white pepper were noted.  The wine had more citrus on the finish and I tasted sweet tangerine and pear as well.  I scored the chilled version the second highest wine of the night and really enjoyed this $25 wine, giving it 91 points and 5 stars.  Pairing suggestions would include grilled Swordfish, roasted Quail or even Moussaka.  Drink till 2026.  Salut….

Graham Beck The Game Reserve Chenin Blanc 2018, Robertson, South Africa

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As with the past seven Virtual Wine tastings, it’s difficult for me to objectively write a review and run the tasting, so I take basic notes of what others are tasting and smelling.

This Chenin Blanc kicked off the evening with us tasting it at room temperature followed by a chilled glass of the same wine.  It’s really amazing how the wine morphs when served at different temps.  The one thing that is constant is the color- in this case a light golden shade, really pretty in the glass.  The warm version gave us melon, fruity lemon, pear, citrus, stone fruit and green apple on the nose. The palate notes are ‘very fruity’, citrusy, tangerine, oakiness, lime and yellow apple.

The chilled version was a bit muted but introduced Brioche, minerality, piecrust, toast, green pepper, slightly more acidity and ‘crisp’.

Keep in mind there were 8 different bottles being served in different environments- some inside and some outside all up and down the east coast.  My overall impression was that I enjoyed the room temp glass more as it was open for business and the nose and palate were fuller.  I am going with 90 points and 5 stars for this $18 effort.  Drink  till 2024 with seafood, perhaps a grilled Salmon filet.  Salut….