Castello d’Albola Chianti Classico DOCG 2014, Tuscany, Italy

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Another one in the value range I am working through from Costco.  It retailed for $14.  In the glass it is very see-through, pale and fresh looking.  Strawberry, hay and some pomegranate hit me on the nose, typical for young Sangiovese.  The wine is rather light on the initial palate, strawberry and some cherry juice are the predominant flavors.  The mid palate is very juicy, the acidity being prominent but curtailed by some nice tannins that appear toward the finish.  Basic flavors, easy to drink and priced right.  I would pair it with pizza, pasta and maybe roast chicken on the charcoal.  88 points from me and 4 stars.  Drink now till 2020.  Salut….

Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Washington, USA

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A perennial favorite and surefire go-to wine that delivers consistency, value and widespread availability.  It shows off a deep purple in the glass.  The nose is full of blue fruit, coffee bean, a touch of oak.  On the palate I sense some very lithe tannins that are very ingrained with blueberry, elderberry, cedar.  The wine transitions very nicely to the mid palate and the finish gives me a definitive red currant note.  The mouthfeel is very smooth, balanced and easygoing, making this a very flexible wine to pair with a variety of dishes.  Cheese comes to mind as do the Sirloins I am grilling, with some Steamed Artichokes.  The tannins are the longest running portion of this wine, leaving a definitive dry streak on the gums for quite a while.  Not a hugely complex wine, it serves its purpose as an everyday drinker, capable of pairing with meats, pasta, cheese or all by its lonesome.  Drink now.  89 points and 4 stars for this $14 wine. Salut….

Marques de Caceres Reserva 2012, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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Very deep purple color.  The nose is voluptuous with tons of plums, bramble, some tar and an earthiness.  On the palate I get upfront dryness with lots of tannins leading up to the plum core, with blueberry and creosote adding to the mix.  The tannins really dry up my gums and are going to go swimmingly well with the Lamb shanks that are braising.  The mid palate is mostly blue fruits and more gum dryness.  The finish has that earthiness that I love about Riojas.  It’s a dusty, tarry, brambly thing that I really enjoy.  Even though I am sure this wine has had lashings of Oak, it is not overly evident.  What wood is present is very integrated.  Reservas are only made in certain years, this one is pretty decent IMHO.  90 points and 5 stars for this relatively modest $15 Tempranillo.  I would say buy a case and drink for the foreseeable future!  Salut….

Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT 2014, Veneto, Italy

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Dark purple in the glass, opaque AF.  The nose is unique…. pomegranate meets cherry reduction and almonds.  On the palate I’m confronted with wood bark, black fruits, more nuttiness and a dense stack of tannins.  Brooding, rich and foreboding- it is a heavy duty wine with decent balance and good grip. The dryness of the tannins kick in on the finish in a big way.  This wine could use a trip through the aerator.  I like it as is with some grilled lamb or possibly with pasta after aerating.  If you read the label closely you will see that it is made in the Ripasso style, being a blend of Corvina and Rondinella.  90 points and 4 stars for this very reasonable $17 wine.  Salut….

Pomar Junction The Crossing GSM 2013, Paso Robles, USA

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Lighter in the glass than I was expecting but the nose- wow.  Black berries, spice box, vanilla.  On the palate there’s tons of spiciness, cedar box, black fruits, cinnamon. The bite from the acidity is pinpoint, tannins are very lithe. On the finish I get maduro, black cherry and more vanilla from the wood dressing this wine has been graced with.  Very tasty Grenache, Syrah, Mourverdre blend.  92 points and 4 stars for this $54 wine.  Drink now till 2024.  Salut….

Mark West Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley, USA

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The Brown truck arrived today with a box full of these.  They were on sale so I decided to pull the trigger on 6.  I probably should have let this one rest a few days, but there are more in case it shows poorly.

Slightly more opaque than what I was expecting from Pinot Noir.  The nose is airy and uplifting, with strawberry, that certain Pinot scent that I get and some elderberry.  The palate is exactly what I was expecting, New World all the way but not in a powerful, jammy way.  Smooth strawberry with a lithe vanilla stripe and more of that wild berry fruit.  The acidity is on pointe, just a nudge every now and then.  The mouthfeel is great with some ever so slight tannins swirling around.  Cherry/Strawberry cooler happens on the finish with that sourness that is really okay in Pinot.  My mouth feels a tad dry from the acidity/tannins when it’s all said and done.  I like this wine and am serving it with some smoked pulled pork that I just finished.  The acidity is perfect to counter the fattiness and smoke from the meat.  I’m going with 90 points here and for the $11 I paid, it’s a 5 star wine.  Drink now till 2024.  Salut….

Cantina Zaccagnini il vino ‘dal tralcetto’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2015, Italy

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Another in the latest series of inexpensive Costco finds- a Montepulciano Reserve.  I think I paid a whopping $10.  It shows a decent purple, pretty opaque.  On the nose I get tar, black berry, licorice.  On the palate it is somewhat brighter than I had imagined.  Uplifting blackberry extract, star anise, mint.  Sour cherry kicks in on the mid palate and makes me pucker ever so slightly.  Medium tannins balance the finish off which is short to medium in length.  This is the perfect wine for tonight’s burgers and tater tots.  Refreshing, somewhat lighter in style yet offering a juicy cut to the fatty patties.  Generally speaking this is an everyday drinker that deserves 87 points but get 5 stars from me for its value and easygoing style, perfect for summer.  Salut….

CVNE Vina Real Reserva 2012, Rioja, Spain

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Very dark purple.  Nose is loaded with plum, violets, vanillin and some earthiness.  On the palate- black fruits, a sour cherry component and leather. Classic Rioja with the earthiness.  The wine has some really juicy acidity but the well integrated tannins are a little green for me.  The label claims a 92 RP rating, I’m going with 90 points as I feel the acidity overpowers the tannins and the balance is a little off.  I like the fruit profile though and encourage you to drink now.  I paired it with grilled blackened Pork chops and sautéed Spinach.  $20 and 3 stars.  Salut….

Vinhos Paxis Vinho Regional Lisboa Tinto 2013, Portugal

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Of medium opacity, this blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) only clocks in at 12.5% alcohol.  I paid a mere $ 6 for it and am excited to try what is proudly claimed as a 90 point WE #5 best buy 2016.

The nose is rather muted, offering up slight hints of blueberry and root beer.  On the palate I am slightly surprised by what seems to be effervescence.  More blue fruits and some slightly sweet notes of cola show up mid palate.  The finish is rather short and the wine lacks much tannic backbone.  I have to say, it is an easy wine to drink that will appeal to the relative wine noob as it does not inflict dryness to the gums and will serve its purpose at a Saturday afternoon cookout.  A 90 point wine it is not.  Not even close.  I am going with 85 points and 3 stars for its relative price to quality ratio.  Burgers, pizza and even the odd Spaghetti Bolognese would work here.  Drink now, not for the cellar.  Salut….

 

Bulgariana Imperial Red Blend 2009, Thracian Valley, Bulgaria

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Lighter shade of purple.  On the nose I get a strong cassis note which intrigues me.  Black fruits abound along with a cherry wood hint.  The palate is delicious, slightly tannic but very interesting.   Dark fruits galore with some bramble, a mintiness and coffee bean.  I cannot believe the complexity of this $8 wine which made me review my previous notes from October 2016.  I gave it 90 points back then and stated that it was young.  It still is young, but it has developed substantially.  You will not go wrong with this wine if you like grippy, tannic wines, like Tannat, Nero D’Avola or even Pinotage.  Thick and juicy, heavy accented and most definitely made for the longer term.  I am sticking with 90 points and 5 stars.  I think I will be back to buy more.  I served it with chipotle marinated skirt steak, salad and some Alfredo pasta.  Salut….