I recently tasted the 2009 Clarendon Grenache and loved it. I hope this newer bottling is as good! Deep garnet in the glass with medium intensity aromas of raspberry, dried sage, black cherry, dust, charred wood, coffee, blueberry jam and vanilla. The palate is dry with medium (+) acidity and bracing tannins. A full body with medium (+) intensity flavors of red fruit, oaky coffee, vanilla and charred wood along with some steeped blue fruit and rustic dust. The finish is a dry, short to medium length affair that hones in on the charcoal and black cherry notes. Overall, not as good as the ’09- it gets 91 points from me with a drinking window till 2028. I give this $45 wine 4 stars. Salut….
Our second Cab Franc at tasting #27 was this much more restrained version from S.A. Our first foray into the varietal was a powerhouse Chinon. This wine was more elegant and softer- beginning with the medium ruby color in the glass. On the nose the group found aromas of lavender, violets, blackberry leaf, blueberry, cherry (cola), black pepper, creamy coffee (froth), caramel and a medicinal note as well as a touch of cough syrup (?). The palate was dry and we debated the acidity- High was the consensus. Lush, nicely integrated tannins led to a medium bodied wine with lovely flavors of blackberry leaf, lavender, vanilla, violets, and that medicinal note. A medium (-) finish took off a point or two from me yet I love this wine. 91 points for a $45 wine makes it a 4 star effort to drink till 2026 with Steak au Poivre. Salut….
The red wine theme for our 27th VWTC tasting was Cabernet Franc. We kicked it off with this classic Chinon from the Loire valley. As I opened the bottle and took a sniff I was very worried about the wine’s acceptance into our group. It was very, very funky with loads of herbaceous aromas- not everyones cup of tea mind you. This wine is deep purple colored with pronounced aromas of green pepper, dried herbs and earth. We also got funk, cave moss, overripe blackberry, sea salt, lavender, violet, plastic band aid, overripe cherry and sarsaparilla. There was definitely some minerality in this very complex wine. The palate was dry with medium (+) tannins, medium (+) acidity and was full bodied. In addition to the herbaceous notes we also got flavors of tart cherry on the plate, especially towards the back end. Oak was present by way of svelte cinnamon and nutmeg flavors and the wine finished to a medium length. I was pleasantly surprised how this $38 monster developed in the glass and became one of the group’s favorite wines. Some just love the funk! I gave it 91 points and would drink this over a 10 year window with hearty steaks, venison or rich stews. It gets 5 stars from me, just beware of the herbaceous quality of this varietal- times 10. Salut….
From one of the coolest California AVA’s comes this Pinot Noir that is medium ruby in the glass with thick watery legs. The nose is medium intensity with aromas of steeped strawberry, red plum, orange peel, baking spices, black raspberry and rosewater. The palate is dry with high acidity, medium, well ingrained tannins, a medium body and lovely flavors of dark red fruit, oak influence by way of orange peel and baking spices and some freshness from the rose component. The wine is very silky, balanced and slippery with a medium length finish. I like this wine, even though it’s not my style of Pinot. 91 points for this $60 beauty makes it a 5 star effort that I am pairing with beer-can Chicken and sautéed spinach. Drink till 2030. Salut….
It’s nearly opaque- probably medium to deep ruby in color. It’s age is not showing at all but the alcohol (14.5% ABV) presents some lively legs in the glass. The nose is a beaut. Rich blackberry, black plum compote, purple licorice, mint, coconut, vanilla, baking spices and a blueberry jam note on the tail end. Quite complex and certainly chock full. The palate is dry with juicy acidity and melded tannins. The flavors are not as pronounced but they balance beautifully with the structural components to give me a full bodied mouthfeel that leaves me with a medium finish that is jaw watering. I like this wine, it has layers of fruit and nice secondary notes. It drinks relatively easily but is full of flavor and is still fresh. 91 points, as I think it is peaking now. For $30 it gets 5 stars from me. Drill till 2026 with some hearty meat dishes or Moussaka. Salut….
It says that this wine is 70% Monastrell. Learning the different names for the same grape has been challenging in my studies but I know that this Mourvedre is also known as Mataro. There’s 30% Cab Sav thrown in for good measure. It is a deep ruby color and has very slow moving legs that give away the 15% ABV. The nose is rich with blackberry, black plum, purple licorice, hints of baking spice and toasty oak. Blueberry jam is the last thing I coax out of the glass. On the palate it is dry with medium (+) acidity and grippy tannins. Full bodied, it gives me waves of rich black and blue fruit notes with oak influenced spices and toast. The purple licorice turns black on the mid palate and the charcoal and toasted oak really come out. The finish is dry from the tannins and medium in length. This is a tasty number that will do well with grilled beef or lamb chops. The tannins, whilst balanced, are quite powerful on the back end- this wine will last till 2030 at the least. 91 points from me for this $20 make it a no-brainer 5 star effort. Salut….
Medium ruby colored- this 14.7% ABV Zin has got thick, globby legs in the glass. The nose has pronounced aromas of stewed blackberry, prunes, blueberry compote, walnuts, vanilla, cedar and spice box. I like the tertiary notes of this developing wine. The palate is dry and fully bodied with well integrated tannins and juicy acidity. The flavors are delicious and pronounced as I swirl the nectar around my mouth, sucking air in to boost the flavors. The finish has a touch of heat on it but still shows lovely fruit flavors for a medium length finish. The alcohol is a bit of an unbalanced distraction that will cost a point or two. This $40 wine gets 91 points and 4 stars from me. It is really good all by itself but may pair well with grilled Picanha steaks or roasted duck with a cherry reduction. Drink till 2025. Salut….
At my weekly WSET class we were tasked with the notes on this Semillon. It was medium lemon colored although there may have been a tendency toward gold IMO. The nose was of medium (+) intensity but fell off quickly. We got aromas of beeswax, toast, flint, tangerine, grapefruit, white blossom and ripe pear. I thought this developing wine was quite complex albeit not yet showing the big tertiary notes associated with the Hunter Valley. The palate was dry with medium (+) acidity- a good thing for helping age these graceful wines. Medium (+) body coupled with medium alcohol and medium (+) intensity flavors of the above. The citrus stood out on the mid palate and long finish. We though this wine was of Very Good Quality and could do with further aging. Overall I feel this is potentially a 91 point wine and for $30 it gets 4 stars. The pros went as high as 94 but I don’t see it. Salut….
My WSET tasting group was tasked with presenting notes on this Aussie Riesling. It was pale lemon in the glass and we found the nose to have medium (+) intensity aromas of lemon, lime, mandarin, grapefruit, blossom, wet stones and that tell-tale petrol note. The wine is considered youthful at this stage. The palate was off-dry with medium (+) acidity, low alcohol (9.5% ABV), medium (-) body with medium intensity flavors of the above aromas. We thought it fell off a bit on the palate versus the nose. Ending with a medium finish we thought this $18 effort was of very good quality and could be drunk now with suitability to age as well. If you like an off-dry Riesling that has already developed petrol notes (which I do), then this is for you. Members of the class questioned a food pairing and one lady said Thai food- I concur. 91 points and 5 stars. Salut….
This one stumped me in a WSET blind tasting. We were going to be discussing Spain and Portugal so I was convinced that the red wine had to be from the region but when I put this deep ruby colored wine up to my nose I was greeted by a very familiar set of smells. Medium (+) intensity aromas of black plum, red plum, cinnamon, blackberry, cedar and vanilla made me think this complex wine was a Tempranillo. The palate was dry with medium (+) tannins, medium (+) acidity, high alcohol, medium (+) body and medium intensity flavors of the aforementioned, albeit slightly less intense on the palate. This gave way to a medium length finish that had me grade this wine as very good, suitable to be drunk now or aged some more. In reality, I had just predisposed myself to thinking I was drinking one varietal when in fact it was a Sonoma Cab I was sipping! Looking back- this wine gets 91 points and for $55 it is a 4 star effort. Salut….