Chateau Giscours 2013, Margaux, France

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Purple, nice.  Mint, plums, wintergreen on the palate.  Very interesting.  The palate is fresh, young and tannic.  Blue fruits, sasparilla and cedar dominate.  Fine-grained tannins are evident but not overwhelming.  On the mid palate I get a strong blueberry component along with cedar.  The finish is short to medium in length and offers blue fruits, gentle tannins and some mild acidity.  This wine is rather basic, bland and thin.  It offers short term pleasure but is not age worthy.  Drink now.  88 points and 2 stars for this $50 Third-growth Margaux.  Salut….

Clarendelle 2013, Bordeaux, France

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Dark and murky.  The nose features plums, oak, black cherry.  The initial palate has blueberry, fine grained tannins, more black cherry.  The finish is quite dry, with blue fruits dominating.  87 points and 3 stars for this $15 Bordeaux from a relatively weak vintage.  Drink up.  Salut….

Oberon Merlot 2016, Napa Valley, USA

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Solid, dark and brooding.  On the nose it is somewhat muted in this particular glass but I managed to coax black cherry, olives, cinnamon stick.  On the palate it is much more defined, albeit a bit tannic at first.  Plum and black berries come out with some nuttiness to go along with the mouth drying tannins, which are rather forceful by the mid palate.  Figs, a touch of oak and some more blue fruits tie it up with a mid length finish.  The wine is young, the tannins are quite untamed.  I would give this wine another 2 years in cellar and drink from 2020-2028.  88 points and 3 stars for this $19 effort.  Salut….

Marchesi Antinori Tignanello Toscana IGT 2009, Tuscany, Italy

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The second wine of the Birthday dinner at Chez Francois.  This one was stunning.  No notes were taken but I remember thinking that this is what being a wine lover is all about.  Near perfection in the bottle.  Rich, ripe, sumptuous, balanced, maturing yet showing youth and verve.  This wine blends some Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with the majority Sangiovese.  It gets 94 points from me and 5 stars, even with its $125 current price tag.  I believe I have one left in storage and will look forward to the next opportunity.  Paired beautifully with Lamb Chops.  Salut….

Chateau Branaire-Ducru 2008, Saint-Julien, France

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Continuing on with the Birthday weekend celebration Moxie took us out for the most enjoyable dinner at my favorite restaurant.  L’Auberge Chez Francoise has been a local fixture for over 40 years and is consistently the best dining I have ever had.  Their wine list is extensive and meets all needs, but I really wanted to take two bottles from my cellar for the momentous occasion.  We started out with the 2008 Brainaire-Ducru, which runs about $65 currently.  I did not write notes on the wines, only a memory of the experience.

I was a little dismayed at the thinness of this wine.  It should have been at peak but instead I found it lacking much fruit, secondary flavors or even much tannic structure. I enjoyed it for what it was and would give it 90 points and 3 stars.  We drank it with Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks, then the salad course.  Salut….

Chateau Gloria 2010, Saint-Julien, France

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My buddy brought this wine, which I was really excited to try.  Unfortunately, it was a major let down.  Color was right but the nose and flavors were earthy with a tar note.  I did not bother to write further as I was really tired and just wanted to relax.  Overall, I would have given this wine 86 points and probably a pass for the $60 price tag….until I read some more posts about it on the web.  It rated very highly with the pros and sells for its price point, so maybe I got an off bottle.  I will reserve further judgement until I get another opportunity.  Too bad.  Salut….

Chateau Lynch-Bages 2000, Pauillac, France

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It’s my birthday.  I hit the big 5-Oh and pulled this one out the cellar to mark the occasion.  I bought 8 bottles of the 2000 vintage back in ’02 for $59 each, at Costco.  They go for $ 200+ nowadays.

The wine is still a vibrant purple with no signs of age, except the cork that broke in half on extraction.  The nose is heavenly.  Pure Pauillac, with loads of fruit, tobacco, leather, kirsch.  I have wondered for 16 years if this wine would open up like the amazing ’89.  So far, so good.  On the palate- it’s all I had hoped for and more.  Blackberry, cassis, leather, maduro leaf- to name a few of the initial components that meld right in with the fine-grained tannins.  The tannins are very fresh and vibrant, caressing the gums and balancing the gentle acidity to near perfection.  The mid plate is full of cassis and more tobacco leaf.  There is also a fig component that just hit me.  The finish exudes class.  Full of fruit, but with plenty of tertiary flavors mixed in.  Simply amazing.  This wine is young, fresh, vibrant and juicy yet displays grace, a maturity and great structure.  It fulfilled every possible desire I had for a super special treat and has truly rewarded my patience.  I am going with 96 points for this stunner and 5 stars.  It’s a privilege to be able to drink such magnificence.  The family are all working the kitchen to make a special meal, with my 15 year old manning the grill for the Ribeyes.  Salut….

Velata Premium Tempranillo 2016, Spain

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In my worldly travels I come across great finds, unique deals and then the ones you have to say hmmm.. This bottle was picked up at the local gas station in Tokyo, for about $5.  I don’t have much faith except it won Best Spanish Producer of 2014 at the Intl Wine Challenge, Vienna.  That was the selling point, plus I trust Tempranillo from Spain far more than other dodgy varietals that were on offer.  Here we go.

I am drinking it out of a water glass, so keep that in mind.  It appears a medium opacity, with nice purple tones.  On the nose- pure Tempranillo with a touch of oak.  Notes of Twizzlers and cherry cola come through.  On the palate it is a basic, decent drop.  Primary flavors roll out with some earthiness.  The lack of much tannic structure can be overlooked since this is an easy wine to drink.  Cherry and cola come to mind and the wine has a decent acidic component.  On the mid palate it gets a little bitter for some reason. The finish is all red fruit driven and I get a certain dryness, not tannic though.  Overall a decent drop for what I was looking for and where I was looking.  86 points and for the price I have to give it 3 stars.  I bought some ham and cheese sandwiches to go along, they hit the spot.  Salut….

Merryvale Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Napa Valley, USA

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If you know me you will remember that we are moving.  I transferred most of my wine into a climate controlled storage unit, but kept about 50 bottles in the wine fridge.  Some are really nice, pricey and supposed to be for special occasions.  Oh well, they are getting polished off now.  I include this particularly good wine in that group.  Bought for $65 and cellared since 2014 I am looking forward to comparing it to my earlier review.

It shows bright purple in the glass with a nose of plum ganache, black tea, figs and a touch of oak.  On the palate it is super smooth with a tannic bite right upfront.  Flavors of blueberry compote, plum, anise and black olives.  The tannins are pretty forceful as the wine transitions to the mid palate.  A dryness hits the gums and makes me pucker up.  I do like that some times!  The plum theme continues on to the long finish where I  also get cherry cola and another touch of oak.  The tannins peak at the very end, and the acidity balances it all out.  Overall, a very nice package that has matured nicely and is drinking perfectly now.  Not an everyday drinker, I would certainly pull this out for a special occasion.  93 points holds and 4 stars awarded.  Tonight we pair it with Tomahawk Pork Chops, Flat Iron steaks, a Bratwurst, some Cauliflower Cheese and grilled Broccoli.  Salut….

Mollydooker The Scooter Merlot 2012, McLaren Vale, Australia

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In the glass this Merlot shows a slightly paler purple than I was expecting.  The nose, after I performed the ‘Shake‘ exhibits gorgeous black berry and cinnamon notes.  On the palate I am greeted with a really smooth dose of Ribena, some meaty notes, and a fresh ensemble of tannins that are ever present but not cloying.  The wine is full flavored, make no mistake- but it does so with a very gentle build-up.  Extraction is at its fullest and with that comes a well hidden 14.5% alcohol.  The mid palate is somewhat muted after the initial uptake, the finish is where it’s at.  More dark berries emerge as well as a blueberry pie component.  I hate to say it, but this wine needs a touch more oak.  Yup, I said it.  Not lashings, but a tiny more vanilla, perhaps a little more tannic bite.  At one point I’m sure the wine had plenty of it, perhaps just fading at this point.  The structure is good though and the wine is balanced.  I would drink up as the wine is at peak and there is not much in the way of tertiary flavors.  It is relatively easy-going and will do well with a variety of dishes.  I am going with 90 points and 4 stars for this $28 effort.  Salut….