Aberrant Cellars LÜK Petite Sirah Crater View Vineyard 2017, Rogue Valley, Oregon

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Really dark shade of purple in the glass and completely opaque. The nose is opulent with blackberry, graphite and violets. The palate is exactly what I was expecting and hoping for: rich black fruit, good structure, decent tannic grip and some zesty acidity. The black fruit theme continues on the midpalate where the tannins start to coat my gums. I also get some black tea and dark cherry. The finish is a rather dry affair with the tannins completely coating my mouth- forcing the acidity aside but still allowing black currants and tea flavors to shine through. The use of oak is evident but not overpowering. I picked this wine tonight to pair with some Argentinian sausages with chimichurri sauce. The tannins will complement the slightly fatty nature of the sausage without overcoming it. Other pairings would include a nice juicy sirloin, perhaps eggplant Parmesan. It gets 91 points for me with a drink window that is open till 2028. Rather pricy at $40, it gets 4 stars. Salut….

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Tamarack Cellars Chardonnay 2017, Columbia Valley, Washington

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A medium shade of yellow in the glass with hints of lemon and pear on the nose. The palate is light, refreshing and pretty mild on the pH scale. Lemon drop and yellow pear dominate thew flavor profile but I get a hint of pineapple which is quite intriguing. The tartness starts to show up on the mid palate, where this light-bodied wine gives off more of the pineapple notes. The finish is relatively short and introduces a hint of lanolin, but the main components are the lemon and pineapple. It’s a nice, easygoing drop of un/barely oaked chardonnay that is not flabby or buttery. It reflects the grapes and minimalist intervention. For $15, it get 3 stars as I am going with 86 points. Drink till 2024 with shrimp scampi, salad nicoise, or even a chicken pie. Salut….

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Xavier Vignon ‘Arcane XV Le Diable’ 2015, Vin de France, France

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The final wine at tasting #16 was this 100% Mourvedre. It showed very well after the previous two gems, holding its own with good structure, great primal fruit and a reasonable price point. In the glass it is a bright, youthful purple that is 70% opaque. The nose brims with cherry candy and red twizzlers (same thing). Pepper, smoky meat, lemon and citrus (?) were also noted by the tasting panel. Probably the most descriptive being ” Candied nuts from a New York food cart”. Black cherry and Dr. Pepper rounded us out. The palate illicited two gasps of “Wow- Steve”, I guess they liked it! Black cherry, cracked pepper, raspberry and dark plum were noted as was Amaretto, cloves and very dry tobacco. The wine had a sanguine minerality to it with a streak of iron in the mid palate that was noticed by several. I hated the initial flavor profile btw- as I do with most reds that kick off with that red candy nose- but this wine quickly pulled me in with its richness and depth. I ended up giving it 16 points on the tasting scale and 91 for-real points. The pros went even higher at 94! For $30, it’s a nice treat that gets 5 stars from me. Well balanced with nice tannins and gentle acidity- I would pair with grilled steak all day long, drinking till 2030 at the least. Salut….

El Coto ‘Coto de Imaz’ Gran Reserva 2012, Rioja DOCa, Spain

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Number three in the lineup at the 16th virtual wine tasting was this stunning Spaniard. Dark purple and 75% opaque, it had a complex nose of cigar box, buttered popcorn, black pepper, roasted nuts, blackberry coulis, dill, vanilla and an earthiness. Juicy tannins hit right off the bat with blackberry, oak, vanilla, blueberry and Maduro. Great acidity made for a gorgeous mouthfeel and the wine showed a touch of earthy dust, which I look forward to in Riojas. This was one of the standouts since we started the Virtual Wine Tasting Company. I gave it 20 points and on a technical scale- 94 points. For $30, its worth stashing a few of this 5 star gem away and drink till 2030 with grilled meats. Salut….

Chateau Musar 2001, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

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Our second wine of the 16th virtual wine tasting gave me pause in deciding it’s drinking order. I originally wanted to showcase this icon as the finale of our session, but after careful consideration felt it was best to go before the younger, bolder wines- it was a good call.

Chateau Musar at pretty much any age will have an orange tinge, or bricking. It’s also usually about 50% opaque. This blend of Carignan, Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon never looks brooding in the glass. I asked the group for their comments when we started smelling the wine. “Heaven” was the first I heard- very appropriate. We also noted strawberry, leather, black pepper (?), cured meat, garrigue, black cherry, funk, barnyard, new-purse leather, dirt, smoke and earth. These are awesome descriptors from the group, yet I still feel we have missed out on some more. The nose was amazing.

On the palate this beauty is deceiving- delicate, yet powerful. Flavors of cracked pepper, cherry, leather, spice, raspberry jelly and baked cherry compote. The smoothness of this wine is above reproach. The tannins so well integrated and the gobs of acidity so well disguised. I think the gaminess and dried prune notes were my highlight. I was so happy to have been able to present this tremendous wine to my friends, who for the most part loved it. I awarded a perfect 20 points on the tasting scale. Technically speaking, it gets 95 real points and at $75, five stars. I would imagine this one has a long tasting window but make sure you have a two-pronged wine opener, the corks gave issue to several bottles. Salut….

Bodegas Avancia Godello 2017, Valdeorras, Spain

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We kicked off the 16th virtual wine tasting with this Godello, a scarce varietal grown in northwest Spain. As per usual, we tasted it at room temperature first, followed by chilled. In the glass it is a pale gold with a nose of lanolin, yellow apple, citrus, pear, grapefruit and crystallized ginger. On the palate this version showed quince, yellow apple, honeysuckle and honey (albeit not sweet). The chilled version had a narrow, more focused nose of lemon/lime Sprite, ginger ale, green melon and was thought of as more floral than fruit based. The palate gave us lemon, lime, yellow apple, grated ginger with a touch of lanolin/wax and some honeysuckle. I preferred the chilled version with 16 points versus 13 for the room temp one. On a technical scale- 91 points for this $30 wine make it worthy of 5 stars. Drink till 2025 with seafood, roast Cornish hens or a cheese board. Salut….

Scott Kelley Tempranillo 2018, Oregon, USA

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This wine is a bright shade of purple and semi opaque. The nose offers up violets, Juniper bush and plum- very interesting mix. On the palate it has a really nice earthiness reminiscent of Rioja, with dust, bramble and black berries. Even the tannins are rustic. The mid palate turns a little more blue but the charm of the varietal sticks with the basics where I now get a hint of oak. The tannic structure is really nice and does well with the mild acidity. The finish is quite dry but the fruit hangs on for a while. It really is a yummy wine that will pair nicely with our shaved steak-stuffed yellow peppers with onion and Provolone. I don’t think I have had Tempranillo from Oregon before- it won’t be my last one. At 90 points this $17 wine gets 5 stars from me. Drink till 2025. Salut….

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Marlborough, New Zealand

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This Kiwi Sav Blanc is a really pretty shade of pale gold. The nose just blew me away. Passion fruit, peach, lime verbena and a hint of you know what. The palate is well formed with loads of flavor from those fruits minus the cat pee. I do also get gooseberries- that somewhat sweet-yet-sour at the same time fruit. Delicious. The acidity is en pointe, not cutting- it sharpens the flavors and lets them be the focus. The wine finishes with a decent length tail of citrus and pineapple that lasts a good long while. I picked this wine tonight as I am in an arm cast and it’s my son’s turn to cook. He is blackening some Sous Vide Chicken with Cajun spices which should work well with this 93 pointer. The pros went 94/95 on this $20 monster. I will be stocking up for sure, it will pair with pretty much any seafood, chicken dishes, salads and cheese boards. 5 stars, if only I could give 6. Stunner to drink till 2025. Salut….

Domaine Laleure-Piot Les Tuvilains 2009, Beaune Premier Cru, France

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At 12 years old this Pinot is still fresh looking in the glass, perhaps a touch of bricking.  The nose worries me though, stewed plums are a dead giveaway for over the hill wines.  I do get some orange peel and fig which is interesting.  The palate shows a dried out and withered wine that is past its due date.  There are some attractive qualities left but the astringency and overall mouthfeel overtake.  What is left, fruit-wise, is strawberry and cherry juice.  Decent acidic backbone and some grainy tannins are holding the structure up but the fruit has vanished, leaving no tertiary flavors behind.  A shame really.  I don’t believe I ever liked this wine very much, today’s bottle being my last.  86 points is a stretch, read my previous write-ups here. Salut….

Posted Accord “Coffee” Pinotage 2018, Western Cape, South Africa

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I enjoy Pinotage quite a bit. It’s a grape that was created by cloning Pinot Noir and Cinsault. This one is semi opaque and a lovely shade of purple in the glass. The nose gives me chocolate, espresso bean and blackberry. On the palate it is very fruity with black currants, black cherry and dare I say- coffee. There is a richness to this wine that I am really enjoying, full bodied with rounded tannins and good acidity. The mid palate goes old school with some smoke, dust, jerky and brooding dark fruit. I am missing the acetone flavors I normally associate with this varietal, it’s kind of unique. The back end is dry, dusty and has nice tannins to finish. I like this wine and would pair it with almost any meat dish, perhaps even pasta. 89 points from me with a drink till 2025 window. At $21 it gets 3 stars. Salut….