Amalthea Cellars Clone II Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Outer Coastal Plain NJ, USA

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A gift from my cousin (we’ll call him Sharma).  Dark purple, very opaque.  The nose is intriguing.  Plums, charcoal, crushed rock, a certain minerality.  The palate is delicious with a toasty oak note opening it up, followed by grilled plum, black olive, bacon and delightful tannins.  The flavors carry through to the end where the astringency of the tannins hit.  There is a nice mouthfeel throughout and the acidity is very well balanced.  The greenness of the back end gives me a check.  I’ll get over it, I’m sure.  Overall a delicious New Jersey Cabernet worthy of 91 points which gets 4 stars from me for the $25 price tag.  It’s getting a pairing of Strip steaks with Balsamic reduction.  Drink till 2021.  Salut….

Cap Royal Bordeaux Superieur 2015, France

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Light to medium density in the glass.  A lighter shade of purple that offers up plum, star anise and a stony minerality on the nose.  On the palate, it is somewhat sour and lacking in upfront fruit.  I have to coax some dark fruits, mainly plum out of the midpalate.  There is a herbaceous component that disjoints the wine coupled with volatile tannins.  The lack of fruit bothers me somewhat.  The overpowering dryness is quite dominant making this wine not very pleasant nor technically very good.  83 points- a pass of 1 star, save the $15.  Salut….

Casillero del Diablo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Central Valley, Chile

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Medium opacity, good color.  Nose is full of espresso, black berry and lush plums.  The palate is very smooth, slightly acidic and starts off with black currants, charred oak and olives.  The mid palate has more black fruit with the tannins starting to grip.  I like the deft use of oak here and it smooths the wine nicely.  The finish is medium in length, brimming with black cherry with the tannins receding nicely.  88 points and 5 stars for this $11 wine.  Great value from Chile.  Salut….

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2016, Coonawarra, Australia

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Really dark purple, extruded looking.  The nose is of lush ripe plums, black cherry and cinnamon stick.  On the palate I get a very smooth intro of black currant preserves, black cherry extract and the beginnings of a dose of mouth coating tannins.  The mid palate is heavy with the black fruits and tannins.  They coat the teeth, the gums.  Rooibos tea is the balancing flavor here.  Everything else is dark and brooding.  The mouthfeel is great, if you like a dry wine.  It is not overly tannic, but will most definitely get your attention.  The finish is of medium length and focuses on the black currant preserves I got at the outset.  Overall a decent drop that gets 89 points from me and would do well with hearty game, roasted meats and even Bolognese.  $15 and 3 stars.  Salut….

Wynns Coonawarra Estate ‘The Siding’ Green Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Coonawarra, Australia

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Medium depth of purple in the glass.  The nose, after a swirl, showed off vanilla, oak and black currants.  It borders on that aroma I don’t care for but I’m willing to overlook it today.  On the palate it is much less dense and not as powerful as I imagined it.  A slightly sour note hits right away that continues through to the mid palate.  Black berries, coffee and a dried herb note all come to mind.  The tannins start off gently but build up to a medium dryness by the mid palate and continue for a short finish.  Black fruits and thyme are noted on the back end.  Overall this is a tasty wine that I would pair with pasta, Kebabs or lamb chops.  89 points and 3 stars for this $15 wine.  Salut….

David Hill Reserve Pinot Noir 2015, Willamette Valley, USA

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Super pale, with virtually no opacity.  The nose is neither old- nor new-world.  A mix between the two.  Classic cherry with the addition of strawberry coulis.  A hint of rose water hits me right at the end.  On the palate this wine is super smooth, with a great mouthfeel.  Tannins are just present, the acidity is finite and balancing.  The cherry flavors give way to roasted coffee and vanilla bean.  The mid palate is lush with ripe black cherries with a tannic thrust.  The fruit really comes out on the finish alongside a charred oak note.  It is intriguing, delicious and nice to drink.  I am pairing it with cherry glazed pork chops and roasted potatoes.  It would do a roasted Cornish Hen justice IMHO.  Great Fall wine to go and seek out.  91 points and 4 stars for this $40 wine.  Salut….

Andrea Oberto Barolo DOCG 2010, Piedmont, Italy

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My second try at the Andrea Roberto Barolo.  Murky, dark and a touch cloudy.  The nose offers up raisin, black cherry and a woodsy note.  The palate is smooth, tannic and very juicy with black fruits, tar, lapsang souchong tea.  The mid palate has a really full mouthfeel, almost syrupy.  Black berry reduction, more tea, black this time, and creosote hit the gums.  The finish is long, alluring and chock full of dark, brooding fruit, gum searing tannins and teeth staining purple goodness.  92 points and still young.  $40 now, it gets 4 stars.  Salut….

Pierre De Taille By L Hostellerie 2017, Coteaux D Aix Provence, Rose

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Really pretty peach color.  On the nose- fragrant and fruity with strawberry, apricot and orange peel.  The palate is refreshing, weightier than I imagined and true to the strawberry core with orange zest and quince being the primary flavors.  A very finely balanced acidity makes for a nice mouthfeel, not overly tart yet reminding me of its presence.  The mid palate has a glycerin feel to it .  The finish is orange peel and kumquat, decent in length.  89 points and 4 stars for this $12 Rose’.  We drank it with charcuterie.  Salut….

Los Vascos Grande Reserve 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile

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Yesterday was a little bit of a let down with the basic Los Vascos Cab.  This property is a well respected Rothschild winery in Chile.  As such, I opted to go back and try their Grand Reserve offering, in hopes of a better showing that suits my particular taste desires, and has higher technical components than the basic wine.

First thing I noticed was today’s Reserve wine has a real cork, versus synthetic.  A good start.  The wine is not overly dark, but a pleasant purple in the glass.  On the nose- a whole different story.  Black berries, rich mocha, fig on the nose.  The palate is more plum-like but the black fruits are still evident.  There’s a slightly obscure, astringent quality that hits right up front.  Once over that I’m settling in to the gentle mouthfeel, moderate tannins and tangy acidity.  The mid and finish are a little darker with coffee bean, black cherry and an oak tinge.  Overall, much better.  89 points and 4 stars for this $15 effort.  Grilled meat, Moussaka or even hearty pasta would pair nicely.  Drink now till 2020.  Salut….

Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Colchagua Valley, Chile

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Medium purple with a bluish hue.  Dammit, that sugary, oaky nose that I really dislike just hit me.  Red sweets, twizzlers and cotton candy.  On the palate- pretty much the same but with some decent acidity to brighten things up.  Very lithe tannins are barely perceptible. This wine is the quintessential bbq drop.  Easy to quaff, bright fruit, pleasant enough and capable of pairing with smoked or charred meats and sweet/tangy sauces.  It’s not my cup of tea but should appeal to many.  Drink this 86 point wine in the near term.  $8 all day long make this a 2 star wine.  Salut….