For my birthday celebration, I pulled out two magnums, one of which was the ’96 Musar, I hand carried it from the winery many years ago. I have two bottles of the ’98 waiting but in the meantime….Super pale red- see through, reminiscent of Pinot which it’s not with a touch of orange bricking. On the nose it’s stupendous, like aged Bordeaux. Leather, tobacco, plum and cassis- all my favorites. On the palate it is so smooth, with hints of cassis, cedar box, more tobacco and forest floor. There’s so much going on it’s amazing. Towards the mid palate I get cherry, faint tannins and a perfectly balanced acidity. The finish is awesome. So sleek with cherry juice reduction and a slightly biting rhubarb component. 93 points and 4 stars for this $75 wine. It’s not for everyone, the style is different but for this boy- it hits the right notes. Drink till 2030. Salut….
By far the most interesting label of the year- a metallic one on this bottle of Fitou. I was intrigued and had to try it. Fitou is a region in the Languedoc, southern France and the two main grapes are Grenache and Carignan.
The wine is a medium shade of purple and offers a nose of garrigue, funk and black cherry. This may sound horrible to the layman but in wine terms, quite legitimate descriptors and ones that are sought after by certain palates. On the initial attack I am getting a somewhat thin veil of plums but more importantly, some off-putting tannins. The wine is a bit disjointed and the balance is off. It may need some time or a trip through the vinturi (Or in my case, a travel aerator).
Ok, after meeting my friend Bendy, the wine mellows a little but the tannins are still green and generally unpleasant. The fruit is struggling for acceptance here and the structure is not allowing it to happen. I am wondering if I have an off bottle. Best I can go is 85 points at this tasting and for $16 this is a 2 star wine. Happy New Year! Salut….
From Spain’s Rioja came this blend of Carignan, Grenache and Tempranillo that I had a hard time with. The pro’s were all over the map with scores ranging from 90 down to 82. I paid $13 for it but found it for $10 elsewhere.
Nose of earth and blue fruits with some hint of oak. Atypical for Rioja- muted flavors of blueberry and bramble. Slightly rough tannins but good acidity seem to balance out in the end with a very muted finish overshadowed by the tannic frame. 86 points from me and 2 stars. I think one merits another look as it may be bottle variation. How is it possible to have such varied impression from others I wonder. I will look for it in the future and report back. Salut….
I have sampled Orin Swift’s The Prisoner and am familiar with their full on style. Heady and high in alcohol with great extraction. This wine is no different. It all began with a rich dark purple hue in the glass. Wild flowers, blackberries, earth and plum come across on the nose. Violets and plums with layers of dark fruit compote and an earthy component attack the palate full bore. I loved the very smooth mouthfeel that hides the whopping 15.2% alcohol. Melded tannins and a balanced acidity contribute to the silkiness. This wine is made from Grenache, Syrah and Carignan from the Catalan region. Terroir of the French countryside is evident. Old world in fruit yet New world in extraction and style. It finishes with a touch of cinnamon and blueberry pie. 2014-2020 would be my guess for a drinking window. I give it 92 points and for $33 it deserves 5 stars. Deeeelish. Salut…..
Wow, this wine was good….Blackberry and herbs on the nose after coaxing, it seemed closed at first but opened nicely. Juicy acidity, melded tannins and a core of black fruits with an earthy touch were my introduction. The wine is big, bold and powerful, packing a 15.5% punch which never showed up. Plums on the mid palate with some teeth searing tannins became evident as the wine evolved. What had started out as a mature wine quickly transformed into a rather young wine (at 10 years of age already). I timed a long finish with some road tar, black berries and orange peel on the tail end, quite complex. This wine is till too young- 2015-2025 would be my guess. It is a blend of Grenache, Carignan and Vidadillo from Aragon in Spain. It got high marks from the pro’s and I agree with their 94 points. I found it online for about $60. 4 stars for this complex wine with great cellaring potential. Salut….
It’s Father’s Day and I decided to go all out with Filet Mignon, steamed Artichokes and a bottle of 1997 Musar. I recently drank a bottle of the 1999 Musar in Hong Kong, where it brought back great memories of this awesome winery. I visited them in 2007 and still have four Magnums of various vintages that I brought back. Diet be damned, I mixed up some tarragon mayonnaise, melted butter and got totally stuck in to some amazing steaks that just came out of my Big Green Egg.
When I tried to open it the cork crumbled. I had a moment of panic until I managed to coax out the other half. I was not sure of any floating bits so I ran the first glass through the filtered Vinturi to make sure all was well. The wine was sublime, typical for the untypical style of this winery. It showed off orange edges on a red framed body. The nose was so amazing with perfumes of violets, funk, earth, wild berries and creosote. I was preparing myself for the oncoming rush of flavors.
A really fresh palate of damson, blueberries, red currants, mint, sage and barnyard were the first impressions. A crispy acidity pushed through and revealed the well integrated tannins. Road tar was the component I kept missing all evening, it hit me in the middle of the night. It’s funny how that could be considered a flavor or smell that would appeal to wine drinkers, yet it does- just like funk and cat’s pee in other varietals. Speaking of varietals… This wine is a blend of Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan. It reminds me of aged Barolo, perhaps Burgundy with a Bordeaux strain. It is magical and alluring.
As the night progressed, so did the bottle. Initially I was going with 94 points, but the ever present acidity was a touch too much for me and eventually came across as sour cherries. With this detractor I had to drop it to 93, still an impressive score in my opinion. I believe I paid $36 for it back in the day making it a 5 star effort. Salut….
By far one of my favorite wines, Musar is elegant, soft, seductive and powerful all at the same time. I visited the winery several years ago and came away with 4 Magnums from 2 vintages that I am saving for the right occasion. This particular wine was served at a birthday dinner at the famous Peak Lookout Cafe on Hong Kong island, perched on top of the world. I don’t see Musar on many wine lists so I grab it when I can. I remember buying it in the Dubai Duty Free on arrival for $16 per bottle and drinking it with pizza. Nowadays it must run closer to $50.
The wine is mainly Cinsault, with Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon supporting. Pinkish red in the glass with some bricking on the edges leaves you wondering if the wine is too old. Alas, it is always this way and this wine is young and vibrant. A delicate nose evolves and cinnamon, earth and red fruits come wafting out. The first taste reminded me of all those bottles I have had in the years gone by. No two bottles, let alone vintages are exactly the same with this winery, yet they all have that unique Musar taste. One of my mates hated it, the others loved it. It’s just that way.
The red fruits and spices really melded well with the funk and earth of the wine and the silkiness was amazing. The wine was well balanced between acidity, underlying tannins and fruit. As you can tell I am passionate about this wine and look forward to every bottle with anticipation. 95 points for me and 5 stars for this beauty. We drank it with Lamb Chops and mint sauce, a perfect combination. Salut….
In my quest to sample as many wines as possible I will even pay $8 for a co-op made wine served in a plastic cup onboard a United airlines flight. They used to serve a decent NV wine called Fox Grove.
This French version is not quite as decent but was certainly serviceable. I tried to research this one a little more and only came up with the fact that it’s a co-operative wine from the Luberon and Ventoux regions of France (south east from Chateauneuf du-Pape ). I’m guessing a Syrah blend with perhaps some Carignan. A basic wine that offered immediate pleasure without complexity or airs. It does what it’s supposed to do, drink easily and fade away quickly. Mainly blue fruits on the nose and palate, very little tannins but some good acidic juiciness. It’s really hard to pick out nuances in a plastic cup in a pressurized airplane, so I will leave at that. This is perhaps an $8 bottle that won’t embarrass you at a party. 84 points and 3 stars. Salut….
Half and half Grenache and Carignan, a great blend from the Roussillon region. I was seeking a basic country wine to go with my roast chicken and Peri Peri sauce (spicy as a mo-fo) with Arugula (Rocket) salad, more spice. I needed a raw, acidic, somewhat tannic, fruit forward wine for my meal. I was not far off. Usually, spice kills the red wines as I discovered. This particular dinner was more about spice than heat. The Peri Peri sauce comes from Nando’s, a South African restaurant that uses the sauce to warm things up a bit.
The wine itself was purchased for about $15. A great deal considering the big man gave it a 90+ rating. I’m going with 89. It offers up raw Blueberry, green peppers and lithe tannins with a bracing acidity. The blue component was the right anti-spice and the acidic component was right up my alley for the meal. It’s difficult to pair red wines with anything spicy, the rougher the better I reckon. What I mean is that finesse has no place here. The fruit needs to be forward and really in your grill. Secondary nuances are overwhelmed. Stick to the basic, young country wines that have the brawn. This is a wine that is flexible, capable of tackling heat, grilled meats and even roast chicken. I would imagine it would kill a Lasagne. 4 stars in my system. Salut….
My friend brought this bottle to the party, claiming “France- 2009, you can’t go wrong”….. He is quite correct. At $9.99 a bottle, this little beauty is a winner. Blended with 70% Grenache, 20% Carignan and the last 10% Cinsault, this wine has much to offer. A deep purple color in the glass, it translated into dark fruits on the nose and the palate. Blackberry and red currants meet an earthy quality swirling around in some pretty young tannins. This wine is still young, with some tannins still to be resolved. I reckon it will develop nicely in two years and be much better. For now, 88 points and 4 stars.