A very pale shade of gold in the glass with a nose of citrus, tropical fruit and telltale cat pee. The palate is delicious, somewhat unique and not overly tart. Grapefruit and gooseberry notes make way for candied ginger and baked yellow apple. It is really an interesting mix, layered with a medium weight body. There is a sprite nature to the mid palate and the finish is short to medium length in duration. I really am enjoying this wine and will pair it with clams with edamame spaghetti in a garlic and olive sauce. Drink this 90 point wine till 2024. For $30 it gets 3 stars from me. Salut….
Next up at the virtual tasting #15 was this Pinot Noir from Oregon. Claret in color and 50% opaque, it was a little denser than most Pinots. The nose was lush with cherry, boysenberry, cedar, Cherry Coke, cotton candy, spice and fruitcake. On the palate it was a bit of a letdown. Chocolate, mulling spices, cherry and tons of cedar (overoaked?) were noted by the panel. There was a hint of greeness for me that cost a point or two. It seemed like the winemaker was trying too hard, extracting too much and missing the point of the svelte nature of this varietal. It’s about finesse for me, this was more of a young bull in the china shop that had austere edges to him. Good tannic structure was noted that led to a long finish with some astringency hanging on for quite a while. I will re-visit this one again, hoping it softens a touch and sheds its muscular grip. For now this $30 bottle gets 90 points and 3 stars from me. Drink till 2028. Salut….
I am always on the lookout for something new, like this Vranec. It’s a species native to Montenegro known as the Black Wine. It is inky purple and opaque with a nose of chocolate, blackberry and spice box. The palate is very tasty, slightly sour and has a modicum of tannins. Black fruit coupled with pomegranate give it an interesting mix of dark and red fruit profiles. The mid palate has a hint of vanilla and that chocolate note reappears alongside some drying leather. The tannins kick it up a notch towards the back end and my gums are starting to feel the grit. Acidity is nicely balancing and the finish is of decent length with more black fruits. Overall an interesting introduction to a new varietal for me that gets 88 points. I would drink till 2026 with some hearty stews, perhaps even Eggplant Parm. At $20 it is a 3 star effort that deserves a look. Salut….
Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. It was cultivated in 1925 in South Africa, where it is the signature grape. This one is bright purple in the glass and is 75% opaque. The nose has black cherry, red licorice and a hint of Hoisin. The palate is textbook- tar, black cherry, blackberry and a medicinal hint. The tannins are very prominent right off the bat, coating my gums with dry grit. The mid palate offers additional flavors of mocha, espresso and more black fruit. The finish is appealing with a shot of acidity that rights the ship, bringing the tannins back in line. The flavor profile changes somewhat to a more red-fruit driven one, think sour cherries but with a minerality. The finish is decent in length and the tannic structure of this wine asks for a fatty cut of meat. My pairing is going to be Braised Lamb Shanks with sautéed Swiss chard and boiled carrots. 88 points for this wine that will drink till 2026. At $23, it gets 3 stars from me. Salut….
This Grenache/Syrah blend is very dark purple in the glass and 75% opaque. On the nose I get telltale raspberry plus red currants and red licorice. The palate is quite dry right off the bat and a touch austere. As I work my way through the black tea notes I discover raspberry and cherry cola. The mid palate is very tannic but I still get red fruit and now- black licorice. The finish is a long and dry affair, the tannins really gripping my gums. There is a touch of bitterness all through the wine that bothers me somewhat, perhaps a bit of decanting or aerating would soften it up? I think this is a basic wine that will do well paired with hearty meat stews, especially Lamb. It gets 85 points from me and at $11- 3 stars. Drink till 2023. Salut….
Back in 1992 I flew into the former Yugoslavia, right after their civil war. I bought 12 bottles of local Croatian wine, most of it made with the Plavac Mali grape. I subsequently found and drank more in a Serbian restaurant in Mainz, Germany- that would have been 2002 or so. I have not seen the varietal since then so when this came up I ordered with glee!
A bright shade of purple and about 75% opaque. The nose offers up black cherry, singed alder, blueberry. The palate is fresh, tart and a touch bitter. I get blueberries, violet and plum with bracing acidity and medium grip tannins. The mid palate is where the acidity really kicks in and makes my mouth pucker. The blue fruit theme continues to the dryish finish where I am now starting to get interesting notes of pomegranate and red berries. It certainly is tart and young. The tannins battling the acidity for prominence. I’m enjoying it but would like to revisit in 2-3 years. I think it would benefit from a touch more wood influence. I picked it for tonight’s Duck l’Orange dish but would also pair it with Brisket, Chicken Cacciatore or Coq au Vin. 88 points from me for this $22 wine that gets 3 stars. Drink till 2026. Salut….
This Pinot Noir is classic in the glass- dark red shade and totally see-through. On the nose I get cranberry and a hint of capsicum with some strawberry notes. The palate is very pleasing, if not a touch sweet. Lithe tannins greet me alongside red fruits and tangy acidity. The cranberry motif is very evident and continues through to the mid palate and beyond. It brings with it a nice zesty dollop of acid that is making my jaw water. The finish is of decent length and keeps the theme of cranberry, strawberry and red currants. The green note I got on the nose is a non-starter. Yummy stuff if you like them fresh, primal and perky. This one will drink nicely till 2025 and gets 88 points from me. Pairings to consider- roast chicken, Duck l’Orange or even grilled Swordfish. At $18 it gets 3 stars from me. Salut….
I’m doing some Ribeyes in the Sous Vide along with a vegetarian lasagna made with hearts of palm sheets. I needed something bold and hopefully a touch tannic. This blend was the chosen one. It is semi opaque and a dark shade of purple. On the nose I get candied cherry, violets and plum reduction. The palate has a sweetness to it and some tannic grip right off the bat. Dark red fruit compote, Goji berry and Rooibos tea all feature. The tannins take off on the mid palate and frame the gums till the very end. It is quite dry and there is an astringency that kicks in towards the back end. I taste some darker fruits on the finish but the sweet component is throwing me off. I have to admit, it’s not my favorite flavor profile but is a decent drop that gets 88 points from me and at $13- a 3 star effort. Drink till 2024. Salut.
I tasted this wine many moons ago but failed to write notes. When I saw it in the shop it reminded me of friends in California who introduced me to this winery. The wine itself is a pretty shade of purple but is nearly see-through. On the nose I get red berries, a touch of oak and pomegranate. The palate is spicy with a pepper note right off the bat. Dark red raspberries, black berries and sweet currants add to the mix. It is really interesting. The mid palate has a touch of dryness from lithe tannins, the acidity yet to kick in. On the finish this wine shouts out the varietal with lots of white and black pepper, raspberry and blackberry flavors with smoky oak intertwined. It’s not overly complex but really packs those singular fruit flavors. It will drink well till 2025 and handle char-grilled chicken, Filet or even pizza. It gets 88 points from me and for $18- 3 stars. Salut….
I harvested a Deer a few weeks ago and had the butcher make some Spicy Sausages. Having never tried them I was at a loss for a wine pairing until I came across this blend of Malbec, Bonarda and Syrah. I have had the Amado Sur before and this seemed the most likely candidate. Dark purple and totally opaque. On the nose I get candied strawberry and red licorice. The palate is a touch darker in the fruit department with black berries, dark cherry coulis and bitter plums. There is a whack of acidity to this wine but a medium serving of tannins. Perfect for my pairing, as Venison is very lean and we are pairing this with pasta and Vodka sauce, which is somewhat creamy. The mid palate is really juicy and I have quickly forgotten/forgiven that stlightly sweet nose profile which I really don’t care for. The finish ends abruptly but not before I get that bitter jab again. It’s an issue IMHO. Overall this is a decent weekday pop-n-pour and it serves my needs tonight. 87 points make this $14 wine a 3 star effort. Previous vintages that lacked the bitterness were better BTW. Drink till 2022. Salut….