This Mencia varietal is medium garnet in the glass with interesting aromas starting with vanilla and dill. I get fruit-driven cherry, pomegranate and cranberry with secondary notes of cinnamon and smoke. The palate is lightweight for sure- it’s very easy to drink with medium (+) acidity, gentle tannins and medium intensity flavors of red fruit. The vanilla and green note taper off quickly but I do get the smoke and spice. The finish is short lived but very yummy with tannins that just fade away. This wine is begging to be drunk- it is so smooth and the lower than usual alcohol (12.7 ABV) makes it possible. We are pairing it with meatballs in Boom Boom sauce on a bed of shredded veggies. Drink this 90 point wine till 2024. It retails for $20 and gets 5 stars from me. 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 enjoy Pinotage quite a bit. It’s a grape that was created by cloning Pinot Noir and Cinsault. This one is semi opaque and a lovely shade of purple in the glass. The nose gives me chocolate, espresso bean and blackberry. On the palate it is very fruity with black currants, black cherry and dare I say- coffee. There is a richness to this wine that I am really enjoying, full bodied with rounded tannins and good acidity. The mid palate goes old school with some smoke, dust, jerky and brooding dark fruit. I am missing the acetone flavors I normally associate with this varietal, it’s kind of unique. The back end is dry, dusty and has nice tannins to finish. I like this wine and would pair it with almost any meat dish, perhaps even pasta. 89 points from me with a drink till 2025 window. At $21 it gets 3 stars. 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….
Medium shade of gold in the glass. On the nose it is floral and aromatic. Pineapple, papaya and pink grapefruit. On the palate – more papaya and some yellow guava. Lithe acidity makes for a rounded mouth-feel. The mid palate – more floral with honeysuckle, paperwhites and peach. It’s quite a complex set of flavors, but that’s what’s so nice about this varietal. It’s not your run-of-the-mill. The finish is smooth, fruity, and lacks the big bite from the acid, just enough juiciness. I’m looking forward to pairing this with my baked salmon and shallot sauce. 90 points and 5 stars for this $17 charmer. Drink until 2023. Salut….
In the glass this Cabernet is bright purple and 50% opaque. The nose gives me blackcurrant and coffee bean. On the palate it is quite rich with blackberry coulis, spice box and cedar. The mid palate has nice rich fruit, a touch of acidity and some lithe tannins. The black fruit theme continues as does the coffee. The finish is really tasty, a touch dry with a hint of acidity. Th mouthfeel is really wonderful, not cloying, dry or tart. Rich, warm fruit with some underlying structure make for a decent medium term drinking window. I like it and am going with 89 points. For $15, it’s a good deal and gets 4 stars from me. Drink till 2025 with grilled meats. Salut….
Pairing spicy food with wine is pretty simple really, stay away from all reds. Riesling is the go-to normally, but I have played around with Sauvignon Blanc with great success and tonight will be trying out a Gewürztraminer with Thai red curry Chicken. The wine has a nice medium tone of yellow and the legs are very sheet like in the glass. On the nose it has that telltale floral note with melons, peaches and rosewater. The palate is very delicious with honey, peaches, tangerine and some tartness. The mid palate is more citrus driven with pomelo and tangerines alongside a hint of raw almond. The finish is long with the floral notes returning. The acidity as a whole is quite lithe with this wine which is typical of the varietal so the mouthfeel is a quite full. I am enjoying it pre-dinner and wonder if the lack of much bite will hinder the performance against the rich, spicy curry.
It was a winner! The curry was not overly hot, but very flavorful. The fruitiness and floral components of the wine were a great match. I added a heaping dollop of red chillies to test the match, it worked out great. This wine is delicious and will drink well till 2025, pair it with something fresh, something spicy, seafood, chicken or just pop it with some charcuterie. 89 points and for $19 it gets 3 stars. 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….