Clarendon Hills Grenache ‘Clarendon’ 2009, McLaren Vale, Australia

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The more Grenache I drink, the more I like it.  This older bottle from near Adelaide has turned the color corner- medium garnet in the glass.  The nose has vivid aromas of ripe raspberry, black cherry, sarsaparilla, cedar, charcoal, red plum, a hint of vanilla and some coffee.  The palate is… wowsa.  Dry yet sweet from ripe fruit.  Rich raspberry, dark cherry, oak nuance, coffee, black cherry, red plum and sweet vanilla.  Medium acidity and very integrated tannins make for a lovely mouthfeel.  The body is quite full and the finish is nearing 30 seconds.  I like this wine, a lot.  It is very easy to drink but makes me give pause to consider what else I am experiencing in its complexity and depth.  It gets 93 points from me and for $45 it’s a 5 star wine.  I love this winery BTW.  Drink till 2027.  Salut….

Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2017, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Our second Cab Franc at tasting #27 was this much more restrained version from S.A. Our first foray into the varietal was a powerhouse Chinon.  This wine was more elegant and softer- beginning with the medium ruby color in the glass.  On the nose the group found aromas of lavender, violets, blackberry leaf, blueberry, cherry (cola), black pepper, creamy coffee (froth), caramel and a medicinal note as well as a touch of cough syrup (?).  The palate was dry and we debated the acidity- High was the consensus.  Lush, nicely integrated tannins led to a medium bodied wine with lovely flavors of blackberry leaf, lavender, vanilla, violets, and that medicinal note.  A medium  (-) finish took off a point or two from me yet I love this wine.  91 points for a $45 wine makes it a 4 star effort to drink till 2026 with Steak au Poivre.  Salut….

Bernard Baudry Chinon Le Clos Guillot 2018, Loire, France

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The red wine theme for our 27th VWTC tasting was Cabernet Franc.  We kicked it off with this classic Chinon from the Loire valley.  As I opened the bottle and took a sniff I was very worried about the wine’s acceptance into our group.  It was very, very funky with loads of herbaceous aromas- not everyones cup of tea mind you.  This wine is deep purple colored with pronounced aromas of green pepper, dried herbs and earth.  We also got funk, cave moss, overripe blackberry, sea salt, lavender, violet, plastic band aid, overripe cherry and sarsaparilla.  There was definitely some minerality in this very complex wine.  The palate was dry with medium (+) tannins, medium (+) acidity and was full bodied.  In addition to the herbaceous notes we also got flavors of tart cherry on the plate, especially towards the back end.  Oak was present by way of svelte cinnamon and nutmeg flavors and the wine finished to a medium length. I was pleasantly surprised how this $38 monster developed in the glass and became one of the group’s favorite wines.  Some just love the funk!  I gave it 91 points and would drink this over a 10 year window with hearty steaks, venison or rich stews.  It gets 5 stars from me, just beware of the herbaceous quality of this varietal- times 10.  Salut….

Pewsey Vale Riesling 2021, Eden Valley, Australia

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Our second wine of the 27th VWTC event was this dry Riesling that was served at room temperature first and then chilled.  The group thought this pale straw wine had aromas and flavors of citrus, white geranium florals, caramel, honeysuckle, tangerine, pear skin and almonds.  The tangerine was very prominent on the dry palate which had medium (+) acidity, a medium body and a slightly mineral edge to it.  The finish was medium length and this wine was enjoyed by most.

Served chilled it was far more focused with greater citrus thrust, higher perceived acidity, some white peach in there as well as some unique additions of cotton candy and bananas in addition to the citrus (tangerine) and floral components.  I was hoping for a crisp wine- this 89 pointer delivered.  (One pro went as high as 96 points!).  For $16- it’s a great value that gets 5 stars from me.  Drink till 2026 with fresh seafood or baked chicken with green beans Almandine.  Salut….

Raventos I Blanc ‘Blanc de Blancs’ 2018, Catalonia, Spain

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I wanted to introduce my tasting group to sparkling wines and the differences between Traditional method versus Tank method production.  We kicked off the 27th VWTC event with this Spanish sparkler made from Macabeo in the traditional way.  Apple, citrus, toast, caramel, yeast, and a wet hay component were noted by the group.  On the palate we found a dry wine with high acidity and flavors of green (crisp) apple, citrus, almond (marzipan) and the autolytic characters we smelled- toast and yeast.  A medium finish that left us somewhat refreshed yet yearning for the minerality this wine promised.  I scored it 89 points and for $17 it’s a nice 4 star introduction to this style of wine from Spain.  Drink till 2026.  Salut….

Frog’s Leap Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon 1990, Rutherford, California

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This 32 year old wine is a medium shade of garnet- to be expected.  The nose has medium intensity aromas of prunes, caramel, steeped blackberry, cola, vanilla bean, coffee, eucalyptus, baking chocolate, cassis, mint- I could go on.  This is a spectacularly complex and well-aged wine that still shows youth.  The palate is super smooth and balanced with extremely fine grained tannins balancing out the medium acidity.  Flavors of baked and steeped black fruits galore- tertiary notes are evident and oak influence is deft yet precise.  This wine is stunning.  Medium bodied it shows power yet finesse that leads to a long finish.  This is the epitome of Napa Cabernets.  Delicious in youth yet built for the long run and lasting over three decades.  I would not call this wine fragile, but it has a delicacy that requires a deft choice in pairings, if any.  I am sipping it without fare.  In its day this would have been a 94 point wine.  No idea on price, suffice to say it would be a 5 star effort.  Drink soon.  Salut….

Cakebread Cellars Apple Barn Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019, Anderson Valley, California

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From one of the coolest California AVA’s comes this Pinot Noir that is medium ruby in the glass with thick watery legs.  The nose is medium intensity with aromas of steeped strawberry, red plum, orange peel, baking spices, black raspberry and rosewater.  The palate is dry with high acidity, medium, well ingrained tannins, a medium body and lovely flavors of dark red fruit, oak influence by way of orange peel and baking spices and some freshness from the rose component.  The wine is very silky, balanced and slippery with a medium length finish.  I like this wine, even though it’s not my style of Pinot.  91 points for this $60 beauty makes it a 5 star effort that I am pairing with beer-can Chicken and sautéed spinach.  Drink till 2030.  Salut….

Tomfoolery Black and Blue Shiraz 2016, Barossa Valley, Australia

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It’s nearly opaque- probably medium to deep ruby in color.  It’s age is not showing at all but the alcohol (14.5% ABV) presents some lively legs in the glass.  The nose is a beaut.  Rich blackberry, black plum compote, purple licorice, mint, coconut, vanilla, baking spices and a blueberry jam note on the tail end.  Quite complex and certainly chock full.  The palate is dry with juicy acidity and melded tannins. The flavors are not as pronounced but they balance beautifully with the structural components to give me a full bodied mouthfeel that leaves me with a medium finish that is jaw watering.  I like this wine, it has layers of fruit and nice secondary notes.  It drinks relatively easily but is full of flavor and is still fresh.  91 points, as I think it is peaking now.  For $30 it gets 5 stars from me.  Drill till 2026 with some hearty meat dishes or Moussaka.  Salut….

Bodegas Ego ‘Infinito’ 2017, Jumilla, Spain

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It says that this wine is 70% Monastrell.  Learning the different names for the same grape has been challenging in my studies but I know that this Mourvedre is also known as Mataro.  There’s 30% Cab Sav thrown in for good measure.  It is a deep ruby color and has very slow moving legs that give away the 15% ABV.  The nose is rich with blackberry, black plum, purple licorice, hints of baking spice and toasty oak.  Blueberry jam is the last thing I coax out of the glass.  On the palate it is dry with medium (+) acidity and grippy tannins.  Full bodied, it gives me waves of rich black and blue fruit notes with oak influenced spices and toast.  The purple licorice turns black on the mid palate and the charcoal and toasted oak really come out.  The finish is dry from the tannins and medium in length.  This is a tasty number that will do well with grilled beef or lamb chops.  The tannins, whilst balanced, are quite powerful on the back end- this wine will last till 2030 at the least.  91 points from me for this $20 make it a no-brainer 5 star effort.  Salut….

Jumble Sale Merlot 2018, Columbia Valley, Washington

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Deep ruby colored, this Merlot shows off its 15% ABV with thick legs in the glass.  The nose has rich aromas of ripe raspberry, black cherry, vanilla, caramel and red licorice.  The palate is dry with slightly green tannins, medium acidity and medium intensity flavors.  The body is medium (+) on this juicy wine.  The mid palate is a touch astringent that also shows some charcoal notes.  The finish is dry and somewhat tart, reminiscent of sour cherries and black tea.  It’s a decent drop that gets 89 points from me.  I would imagine this will drink till 2025 and pair well with grilled meats and charcuterie.  $22 makes this a 3 star wine in my books.  Salut….