The final wine at tasting #16 was this 100% Mourvedre. It showed very well after the previous two gems, holding its own with good structure, great primal fruit and a reasonable price point. In the glass it is a bright, youthful purple that is 70% opaque. The nose brims with cherry candy and red twizzlers (same thing). Pepper, smoky meat, lemon and citrus (?) were also noted by the tasting panel. Probably the most descriptive being ” Candied nuts from a New York food cart”. Black cherry and Dr. Pepper rounded us out. The palate illicited two gasps of “Wow- Steve”, I guess they liked it! Black cherry, cracked pepper, raspberry and dark plum were noted as was Amaretto, cloves and very dry tobacco. The wine had a sanguine minerality to it with a streak of iron in the mid palate that was noticed by several. I hated the initial flavor profile btw- as I do with most reds that kick off with that red candy nose- but this wine quickly pulled me in with its richness and depth. I ended up giving it 16 points on the tasting scale and 91 for-real points. The pros went even higher at 94! For $30, it’s a nice treat that gets 5 stars from me. Well balanced with nice tannins and gentle acidity- I would pair with grilled steak all day long, drinking till 2030 at the least. Salut….
Number three in the lineup at the 16th virtual wine tasting was this stunning Spaniard. Dark purple and 75% opaque, it had a complex nose of cigar box, buttered popcorn, black pepper, roasted nuts, blackberry coulis, dill, vanilla and an earthiness. Juicy tannins hit right off the bat with blackberry, oak, vanilla, blueberry and Maduro. Great acidity made for a gorgeous mouthfeel and the wine showed a touch of earthy dust, which I look forward to in Riojas. This was one of the standouts since we started the Virtual Wine Tasting Company. I gave it 20 points and on a technical scale- 94 points. For $30, its worth stashing a few of this 5 star gem away and drink till 2030 with grilled meats. Salut….
Our second wine of the 16th virtual wine tasting gave me pause in deciding it’s drinking order. I originally wanted to showcase this icon as the finale of our session, but after careful consideration felt it was best to go before the younger, bolder wines- it was a good call.
Chateau Musar at pretty much any age will have an orange tinge, or bricking. It’s also usually about 50% opaque. This blend of Carignan, Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon never looks brooding in the glass. I asked the group for their comments when we started smelling the wine. “Heaven” was the first I heard- very appropriate. We also noted strawberry, leather, black pepper (?), cured meat, garrigue, black cherry, funk, barnyard, new-purse leather, dirt, smoke and earth. These are awesome descriptors from the group, yet I still feel we have missed out on some more. The nose was amazing.
On the palate this beauty is deceiving- delicate, yet powerful. Flavors of cracked pepper, cherry, leather, spice, raspberry jelly and baked cherry compote. The smoothness of this wine is above reproach. The tannins so well integrated and the gobs of acidity so well disguised. I think the gaminess and dried prune notes were my highlight. I was so happy to have been able to present this tremendous wine to my friends, who for the most part loved it. I awarded a perfect 20 points on the tasting scale. Technically speaking, it gets 95 real points and at $75, five stars. I would imagine this one has a long tasting window but make sure you have a two-pronged wine opener, the corks gave issue to several bottles. Salut….
We kicked off the 16th virtual wine tasting with this Godello, a scarce varietal grown in northwest Spain. As per usual, we tasted it at room temperature first, followed by chilled. In the glass it is a pale gold with a nose of lanolin, yellow apple, citrus, pear, grapefruit and crystallized ginger. On the palate this version showed quince, yellow apple, honeysuckle and honey (albeit not sweet). The chilled version had a narrow, more focused nose of lemon/lime Sprite, ginger ale, green melon and was thought of as more floral than fruit based. The palate gave us lemon, lime, yellow apple, grated ginger with a touch of lanolin/wax and some honeysuckle. I preferred the chilled version with 16 points versus 13 for the room temp one. On a technical scale- 91 points for this $30 wine make it worthy of 5 stars. Drink till 2025 with seafood, roast Cornish hens or a cheese board. Salut….
I asked the group to decant this Nebbiolo for several hours before we met for tasting #15. I did not want to fight with a tannic beast and felt it best to go against my norm and give it a chance to soften. As expected from this varietal it was see-through with nice legs and showing a touch of bricking already. On the nose we got truffle, pepper, chocolate, dried cherry, tobacco, earth and it smelled ‘dry’. On the palate it was kinda blah. Tart cherry, tobacco and not much else going on. It was very disappointing from the hype generated by the reviews. I was hoping for a rich, beefy wine that would show off the grape but was let down. Overall I will go with 89 points and 2 stars for this $34 wine. Drink till 2028. Salut….
Turns out his was the Wine of the Night at tasting #15. It is inky purple and opaque AF. Initially the members noted a dusty smell- which led on to black pepper, herbs, tobacco, dried fruits, cigar, prunes, blackberry jam and was considered ‘leathery’. On the palate it was very rich and full bodied with prunes, blackberry compote, cracked black pepper, dark chocolate, coffee beans, raisins and tobacco. I thought it was delicious and worthy of a juicy Filet. It was not very tannic at all, inconsistent with the varietal, but I was not complaining. It gets 92 points from me and 5 stars for sure at it only runs $20. Buy it by the case and drink till 2026. Salut….
Next up at the virtual tasting #15 was this Pinot Noir from Oregon. Claret in color and 50% opaque, it was a little denser than most Pinots. The nose was lush with cherry, boysenberry, cedar, Cherry Coke, cotton candy, spice and fruitcake. On the palate it was a bit of a letdown. Chocolate, mulling spices, cherry and tons of cedar (overoaked?) were noted by the panel. There was a hint of greeness for me that cost a point or two. It seemed like the winemaker was trying too hard, extracting too much and missing the point of the svelte nature of this varietal. It’s about finesse for me, this was more of a young bull in the china shop that had austere edges to him. Good tannic structure was noted that led to a long finish with some astringency hanging on for quite a while. I will re-visit this one again, hoping it softens a touch and sheds its muscular grip. For now this $30 bottle gets 90 points and 3 stars from me. Drink till 2028. Salut….
We kicked off the 15th Virtual wine tasting with this Albarino. The group had many descriptors for this rather complex white that was tasted at room temperature and then chilled. The golden color of the wine was very inviting. On the nose we got honeysuckle, floral notes, golden raisins, lemon, stone fruit, and Mandarin oranges! The palate consisted of muted pear, peach and lemon. One of the members stated that the acidity was similar to a grapefruit- sorta sweet yet biting. The chilled version actually performed better by most accounts. There was more lemon on the nose- it smelled like Spring or Summer. Flowery notes with beeswax (honeysuckle carryover) were part of a sharper, crisper nose. The palate had what seemed like more acidity, was more focused and had a hint of caramel in addition to the citrus we mentioned. I gave them 12 and 14 points on the VWTC scale and would go with 91 regular points. For $17 you should stock up for a warm summer with this 5 star beaut. Drink till 2025. Salut….
Last up at the 14th Virtual Wine tasting was this stunner from Bordeaux that got a perfect 20 from yours truly. Totally opaque and dark purple. The nose showed off musty cigar box, leather, tobacco, dried cherry, damp forest floor and ‘a bag of craisins’. There was a very earthy component that was woodsy. Simply stunning. The palate had dried sage, dark fruit, cassis, smoke, black tea and cranberry. This 10 year old blend of 50% Merlot, 45% Cab Sav and 5% Petit Verdot has hit peak. The primal fruit is being overtaken by the tertiary flavors we long for when cellaring fine wine. This vintage was scored an overall 99 points by Wine Spectator, producing long lived wines with high scores from pretty much any producer. This one gets 92 points from me, which is consistent with the pros. At $40 it gets 5 stars and should be drunk by 2025. Salut….
Third up at our virtual tasting event was this Grenache blend. I had high hopes for another stunner from CdP but alas, you cannot hit home run after home run. This wine was semi opaque and had notes of toasted marshmallow, candied raspberry, plum, black pepper and stone fruit on the nose. Someone in the group decried “A beautiful, pretty smell”. Someone else said it was flowery. The palate gave us spice, rich black raspberry, cigar smoke, licorice and a streak of minerality. I scored it a paltry 8.5 of 20 but for some it was a huge hit. I’m not a fan of sweetness in red wine, the candy theme is not to my taste, hence the low number. Technically speaking I gave this $45 wine 89 points, the pros went much higher at 92. It gets 2 stars from me. Drink till 2026. Salut….