Primitivo is also known as Tribidrag and Crljenak Kasteljanski in Croatia, but more common to us- Zinfandel. This Italian bottle has a deep ruby coloring and thick legs. The nose is pronounced with aromas of black cherry, licorice, charcoal, black pepper, black plum and dark currants. The palate is dry with bracing tannins and a good dose of acidity. There is an astringent and green sensation that is immediate on the attack, downplaying the fruit. When I finally get to the flavors- dark fruit with charred oak notes and licorice. Medium to full bodied it has a medium length finish. It’s a young wine that needs cellaring or decanting/aerating. I am pairing it with spaghetti and meat sauce, probably the best choice for this very dry and tannic red. 88 points from me and for $16 it gets 3 stars. Drink from 2024-2028. Salut….
This wine is deep ruby colored with thin, piercing legs that move slowly indicating a high alcohol level (14.5% ABV). The nose gives me vanilla and dust right off the bat. Pomegranate, black plum, açaí, clove and sarsaparilla come next. The palate is dry with medium (+) tannins and medium (+) acidity. This full-bodied wine has flavors of bramble, black plum, pomegranate and oak by way of vanilla, clove and a charcoal note. Typical for the region I get dusty, earthy hints and the wine goes on to a medium length finish. The fruit doesn’t taste fully ripe to me, it’s somewhat green unfortunately and this will cost it a point or two. The structure is there but the finish is quite astringent. Perhaps a decant is in order? I’m roasting a Rump Steak with all the trimmings, it should pair nicely. For $17 this 88 point wine gets 4 stars. Drink till 2027. Salut….
A blend of 60% Touriga Nacional with the balance between Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) from the Douro, it is medium to deep purple colored. The nose has a bit of heat initially but then I get aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, saddle leather, vanilla, a touch of raisin and star anise. The palate is dry with medium (+) tannins and medium acidity. Think black tea meets charcoal with a melange of very sun-ripened black fruits. It’s a full bodied wine that sports a hefty 14.5% ABV (which I noticed on the nose) and carries through to a medium length finish. For $16 this is a delicious wine that will cellar well till 2028 and drink nicely now if you like a touch of dryness. 91 points and 5 stars. Salut….
Just looking at this wine in the glass I have made some assumptions: 1) low acidity, 2) high tannins, 3) ripe fruit flavors/aromas, 4) full body, 5) high alcohol. Let’s see.
Deep purple colored with a blue tinge on the edges and marked staining of the glass sides. Slow moving legs on the wall. The nose has aromas of ripe blackberry, baked blueberry pie, licorice, vanilla, yeasty baking spice notes and really ripe black plum. The palate is dry and guess what? Very tannic. Low acidity with a full body and lush flavors of very ripe black and blue fruit, oak influence by way of vanilla, baking spice and charred wood. The finish has got a black tea component and is quite astringent but the flavors last a decent amount of time. I love this varietal, and this is a decently made example that runs $16. It gets 90 points from me and 5 stars. Drink till 2027 with hearty meat dishes. BTW the alcohol was 13.5%, my only wrong guess. Salut….
At 7 years of age this Tempranillo-Graciano blend is starting to show a hint of age. Medium ruby colored with a touch of bricking in the glass. The nose concurs- this bottle has medium intensity aromas of earth, leather, dust, prune, blackberry, vanilla, tobacco, cedar box, cinnamon and stewed red currants. The palate is dry with gorgeous tannins that are very integrated. The acidity is prominent with some sour red cherry notes to go alongside the numerous secondary and tertiary notes I got on the nose. Medium bodied, this wine is silky and slips down ever-so-nicely to a somewhat tart yet long finish. I really love Spanish Reservas- this is a great example that brings out that bramble and dust I get so often with Rioja wines. I love it and will go with 93 points. It will drink beautifully till 2028 at the least and pair well with lighter cuts of meat. For $16 this is a steal folks. The pros dissed this one- more for me I say. 5 stars. Salut….
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….
Deep ruby color. The nose has a unique greeness to it on first whiff. With a bit of air I am able to coax dried blueberry, cola, mint(?) and sultanas. It’s not what I was expecting tbh. The palate is semi-sweet, warm (from the 20%ABV) and inviting. The wine is tannic and has gobs of acidity. Full bodied for sure it has more classical Port flavors than what I got on the nose. Dried black and blue berries, nuts, cola, prunes, sultanas and a richness of stewed black fruit. It leaves a tannic impression on my gums well after the medium length finish fades. What started out as a questionable Port wine turned into a delicious effort that gets 90 points from me. These are meant to be drunk on release, so don’t waste any time! Widely available for $16 it’s worth stashing a bottle or two for a late night treat with some warm chocolate gateaux. 5 stars. Salut….
Yesterday was Moxie’s birthday. Two of our sons snuck in for the celebration- one from Montreal, the other from D.C. In planning for #3 to return to Canada he needed a COVID test, so I booked one at 5:30 and then a table for the six of us shortly thereafter. One glimpse at the menu told me I needed a crisp white to go with the grilled Trout mains I was about to order. This one did not disappoint, albeit the first impression was a bit shocking.
It pours a medium lemon color with barely a shimmer in the glass due to the low 12% ABV. The nose has interesting aromas of lemon, grapefruit, tangerine, ginger and orange blossom. The palate is where I nearly regretted my choice- the wine is a touch sweet, as in off-dry. I was hoping for a crisp, dry white. Alas, I was not disappointed. The citrus flavors were ever present, as was a spritz of lemon that I found interesting. The (candied) ginger is probably what I sensed as a sweet component, though with such low alcohol, there could well be residual sugar present. I found the wine to be quite refreshing thanks to the spritz and medium body. The flavors are present but not cloying, the acidity is medium (+) and not cutting. The finish might be short, but it is mouth puckering and makes me long for another taste. This is a great white wine varietal to explore with fish, chicken, shellfish and vegetarian dishes laced with savory spices. I like this $16 bottle that gets 89 points and 4 stars from me. Drink soon. Salut….
The third Port in a trio I recently purchased this one is a Special Reserve. It’s way more opaque than the Ruby I tasted previously. The nose has nuts, lots of them, plus rich blueberry compote, blackberry jam, prunes, stewed cherry and raspberry. A virtual melange of red, black and blue fruit. The nuts are fascinating- walnuts, pecan and filberts. The palate is mouth-coating with delicious, rich fruit and lithe tannins. Medium (-) acidity allows this wine’s fruit to shine whilst the tannins sneak out to the finish. Stewed blackberry, blueberry and cherry are the primary fruit flavors. Walnut and pecan with a faint trace of smoke round it out. The tannins are very fine-grained and stick around for a while. This is delicious stuff, no doubt. I got it for $16, and it gets 91 points from me upending the Fine Ruby as my new go-to Port to stock up on. 5 stars for sure. Salut…..
If you read much about winemaking the name Michel Rolland will no doubt come up, several times. He’s a consultant oenologist who works with hundred of clients worldwide. At a steak house in Quebec they offered this blend of 55% Malbec, 19% Merlot, 10% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 12% Syrah, 2% Petit Verdot , 2% Cabernet Franc. It normally retails for $16 and garnered high marks from the pros so I had to try it.
Inky with rich aromas of blackberry, black currants, mint, charred wood and licorice. Full bodied with rich flavors and medium tannins. Gentle acidity makes for great mouthfeel. 92 points. Till 2028
Those were my tableside notes- very brief but you get the idea (I did not want to detract from the conversation to write details!). Drink this 5 star gem with steaks all day long- the pairing is magical. Salut….