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….
Pale gold in the glass this Sonoma County Chardonnay gives me lemon and pineapple on the nose. The palate is quite crisp and tart with more yellow citrus flavors, some lanolin and green apples. On the mid palate it is very refreshing with some zippy acidity. The finish is decent in length and shows off green and yellow apples with citrus giving it back end juiciness. Yummy and relatively light bodied for me, it will pair great with my Chicken Pie. Other matches could be grilled Salmon or Parmesan dishes. For me it’s an 88 point wine that gets 4 stars for its $18 price tag. Drink till 2022. 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….
It’s Boxing Day, aka the day after Christmas. We have started a new tradition of eating Fondue on the 25th, it’s easy requires very little effort. As usual, we had tons of leftovers, so I am grilling the remaining Filet. I put the chicken in the crock pot and let it slow cook in Buffalo sauce which I’ll be shredding in a few minutes as a precursor to the main dish. I needed something light, lively and hopefully a touch acidic to pair with the spicy heat I am anticipating with the chicken. Out came this Aussie Sav Blanc.
It’s a very pale shade of yellow with a hint of green in the glass. On the nose it bursts with citrus notes, pineapple and green apple. The palate is delicious with great floral hints, juicy lemon/lime/tangerine notes and some lithe acidity. I was hoping for more for this particular pairing but it’s fine as is. The mid palate has a touch of lanolin and yet more lemon. The acidity kicks in on the mid length finish- it’s not overly juicy but I like the cut. It is refreshing and keeps the wine lean. Enjoyable, quaffable and versatile. I really enjoy this varietal and feel it has so much to offer as far as pairing ability. 88 points from me for this yummy bottle that runs $10. 5 stars, stock up for the summer. Salut….
Medium opacity with a lighter shade of purple. On the nose I get some baking spices right off the bat with cherry and orange rind. The initial palate is very seductive with soft cherry notes, vibrant acidity and some secondary flavors of cinnamon and clove. The mid palate continues the red theme with the addition of cranberry and cedar shake. The finish shows off some decent acidity to go along with the fruit flavors but I don’t get much in the way of tannin. This is a tasty wine that is fairly basic in composition and offers near term enjoyment. 88 points from me with a drink till 2022 window. For $16 it garners 3 stars from me. I’m grilling Lamb sausages and whipping up some Quinoa for the pairing. Salut….
This Cab is bright purple and semi opaque. On the nose I get red fruits- raspberry, currants and clove. The palate is quite rich right off the bat with licorice, red fruit melange and cedar. The licorice note is quite pronounced on the mid palate where I also get plum and black cherry. The wine has a nice, balanced mouthfeel, easygoing without too much tannin or acidity. The finish is quite long and tasty with wood notes, more plum and that lingering licorice note, albeit subdued. Yummy stuff that should drink till 2024. I like it and at $16 it gets 4 stars cause it’s an 88 point wine in my books. I’m pairing it with grilled Tri-tip and mashed taters. Salut….