This is a first for me- Banyuls is a sweet, dessert style red wine that has been slightly fortified to halt the fermentation which leaves residual sugar. This one is six years old and displays a deep garnet color in the glass with loads of legs showing off its 17% ABV. The nose is quite pronounced with aromas of stewed plum, cooked red cherry, walnuts, charred oak, raisins, orange peel and strawberry tart. The palate is off-dry and a bit furry. Tight grained tannins coat my mouth and my upper palate immediately. Green almonds come to mind. I get really juicy flavors of the cooked/stewed red fruits, oak influence, nuts and orange peel. These flavors are slightly offset by the astringency I feel throughout the whole mouthfeel. I sense it is somewhat ‘green’, yet quite zesty, versus the silky nature of Port, which it closely resembles. I like it, and considering it is often served as an aperitif- I can see why. It is medium (+) bodied with a medium finish and medium (+) acidity which is a bit strange considering the grape varietal (Grenache). Then again it’s also more tannic than expected. The palate feels like I have been coddling a black tea pouch inbetween my cheek and gums- the intensity of the tannins is that great. I guess that will stead the wine well in the cellar and allow it to mellow over the next 10-15 years. I like this wine and think it is a nice intro to the style of Vin Doux Naturel. I paid $30 for the 500ml bottle that gets 90 points and 4 stars. Drink as an aperitif or with some soft cheese after dinner. Salut….
I must admit- I shop the bin ends and any closeouts. I have found some great bargains but more importantly, aged wine that someone else has fronted for and held on to so I can swoop in and get it at its prime. So I had to chuckle when I finally red the label on this 2016 vintage blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. It says “to be kept between one and two years of age’. Whoops!
In the glass it’s a medium intensity ruby in color with watery legs. On the nose- it still smells fresh! Red currants, raspberry, blueberry, red plum and licorice. The palate is delightful- medium acidity, lithe tannins and good expression of red fruit, a hint of oak and some black licorice. I get a tea component on the mid palate and the finish is medium in length with charred oak, red fruit and stewed red plum. The structure is holding on and will allow this wine to be enjoyed for another few years, perhaps with Cassoulet, braised meats or a roast duck dish- it needs a rustic pairing. 89 points from me and at $14 it’s worth buying if you bump into it- 4 stars. Salut….
Next up for the Virtual Wine Tasting was this Grenache from the same producer as our Rosè. A light garnet color and 50% opaque. We got earthy leather, caramel, black cherry, white chocolate, fresh cut mushroom and forest floor. The palate was mineral driven with some black cherry, smoke, cloves and black licorice. It was decent but not as earth shattering as I was hoping for ( it got 93 points from the pros!). 89 points and for $17 this wine got 3 stars from me. Drink till 2025. Salut….
Edit: It much gamier and smoother on day 2. I upgraded the score to 90 points and 4 stars.
We kicked off the next Virtual Wine Tasting with a Rosè. As usual, we tasted it both chilled and at room temperature. The wine is a Grenache from Languedoc that is a clear, light orange/pink. On the nose, the room temperature version had group notes of pear, melon, apricot and strawberry. I noted that it was off-dry. On the palate we got strawberry, melon, green apple and my taste buds caught some papaya. A short finish was timed and it was a touch bitter. I did not care for it very much at this temperature but things got better once I tried the chilled stuff. It was peachier on the nose and had cotton candy, honeysuckle, strawberry, apricot and canned pineapple. The palate gave us apricot and orange pith (there was a bitterness we all got). I noted it as more dry when chilled. The finish was longer and this wine garnered 89 points from me. At $16, it is a 3 star effort that will serve you well in the hot summer months. Drink now. Salut….
As I was ready to check out at my local wine shop I saw this lone bottle with an interesting label. It was on clearance for $13, but the reason I bought it was the name. Moxie and I at one point in our life owned a store with a very similar name. I thought it appropriate to at least give this blend of Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre a try.
It has a somewhat murky edge to it in the glass and shows a touch of bricking. On the nose it is still lively with raspberry, pomegranate and charred cedar notes. The palate is rich and spicy. There is a shot of red fruit alongside some very crispy tannins and a hint of acidity. The mid palate is dry and offers me another taste of red currants, pomegranate and raspberry. The acidity really kicks in on the finish with quick some vigor. The well resolved tannins are surprisingly still evident and I get lots of fruit from this rather basic wine. I would have thought it over the hill by now but it is charming, interesting and still fresh. I am going with 87 points but would drink sooner rather than later. Not much will evolve from here on in. 4 stars are warranted. Pair it with burgers, spaghetti Bolognese or even some grilled meat. Salut….
Gorgeous pale orange color. Nose of strawberries, lemon peel and some clementine. On the palate it is bright with those same flavors, a touch of acidity and a long finish. It’s got a great mouthfeel and just the right amount cut to keep it refreshing, light and flavorful. A delicious way to start the evening. Drink this blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault now with appetizers. 88 points and 4 stars, $12. Salut….
Really dark purple, brooding. On the nose I get violets, plum extract and black currants. On the palate it is juicy, mouth filling and packed with tight grained tannins. Black currant notes, black tea and some oaky vanilla start the wine off. The mid palate gets a dose of the tannins and some sour black cherries. That black tea component reappears with mouth puckering astringency, which is balanced nicely with the fruit and acidity. The finish is very dry with black fruit extraction and charcoal notes. 91 points and 4 stars for this $50 wine. 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….
I saw this bottle in the shop and noticed it’s low $8 price tag, but I was on a mission so I passed. Lo and behold my buddy showed up with it later in the afternoon. I believe it hails from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France where they grow tons of Syrah grapes. This one looks to be a co-operative wine. It started off with a slightly oxidized nose of purple plums and a scent I had never encountered in wine- grape bubble gum. I was intrigued and sniffed for a good 5 minutes before I could pinpoint it. Since I have never smelled it in wine nor have I ever seen it used as a descriptor I was curious about the taste. Candied plums and maraschino cherries are what hit me. I kept getting a whiff of alcohol as well but the bottle only registered at 13%. Very slight tannins were evident and the balance was slightly off with a tartness. This is probably a decent picnic wine for an afternoon of cucumber sandwiches and fried chicken on a blanket in the park. 83 points and 2 stars. Salut….
I picked this Languedoc blend up for about $9 for a casual drink with the boys. I knew nothing about it except its origin and vintage. I guessed at the blend, 50% Syrah with the rest being Grenache and Mourverdre. I initially got some red cherries on the nose which later turned somewhat oxidized. A certain phenolic component also came through after the bottle had been open for a while. On the initial palate I was rewarded with straightforward flavors of kirsch, red currants and a rubber component akin to car tires (kinda weird, I know). The structure of this wine is very basic and meant for easy, short-term drinking with very little tannins but decent acidity. The wine took on another dimension as I mentioned with some air time, it became more rustic with that oxidizing nose which did not really bother me. I have another bottle which I will try, reporting back with any major deviations. I would think this wine is a solid 83 points and 2 stars in my book. It’s hard to find decent wine for under $10, but this bottle should do in a pinch, even with its mid-bottle morphing. Salut….