This Gamay is medium Ruby in the glass with some funk on the nose alongside red currants and cranberry. The palate is very tart and acidic with red fruits comprising red cherry, currants and pomegranate. Beaujolais wines typically have no discernible backbone of tannins as they rarely see much wood treatment or extended maceration with the skins but this one has me perplexed as I do sense some astringency on the gums and some potential tannic grip. At three years of age it’s already at peak and should be drunk sooner rather than later- preferably chilled and sitting on a sidewalk in Paris. I would pair this with salmon on the grill, roasted chicken or eggplant parmigiana. 88 points for this $14 effort make it a four-star wine. Salut….
Grenache is normally used as a blending grape but occasionally it’s a standalone. I enjoy it for what it’s worth, soft and supple with bright red fruit flavors. This particular wine is from Spain and is a pale purple in the glass and almost see-through. The nose is a mix of cherry and raspberry, with some earthiness and a bit of spice. There is a hint of red twizzler on the nose which bothers me just a touch- but I’m sure I’ll get over it. On the palate it is bright, very tasty, fruit forward and blushing with red fruits. Raspberry is the predominant theme but I do get Cherry in a supporting role with some bakers space. This is a rather lightweight wine that relies on freshness and fruits. Lithe acidity and subtle tannins give it a nice, easy mouth feel. The finish of this one has a hint of charred oak alongside the red fruits and spices. I’m enjoying it for its ease and charm and would drink until 2024. It gets 88 points for me, and for $13, it gets 4 stars. Pair it with lighter grilled dishes, cheese boards or roast Cornish Hens. Salut….
Shiraz is typically dark and brooding and this one is no exception, really rich purple and 75% opaque in the glass.
The label states a 15.3% alcohol so buyer beware. The nose has that jammy raspberry/cherry twizzler profile which I’m not a huge fan of- I hope the palate is a little bit more in my style. So, turns out this is quite a rich and reduced raspberry offering with toasty oak and red currants on the initial palate. As I drink this wine I’m starting to really enjoy it- the candy element long gone. The mid palate has juicy red fruits with a modicum of tannic dryness. The finish is relatively straightforward with good fruit, gentle acidity and a touch of tannin. There’s a nice mouthfeel that makes it easy to drink. Overall this is an 88 point wine that should be drunk by 2027. Ps. I did not get a hint of the alcohol, well disguised! For $19 it gets 3 stars from me. Pair with Lasagna, grilled sirloin or even roast duck. 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….
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….