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Older Wines Recently Swilled

Note, if you have difficulty finding any particular wine, Hanes recommends trying these websites or Google to help locate them:

www.wine-searcher.com

www.vinquire.com

www.wineaccess.com

Below are tasting notes on wines Hanes has recently imbibed which are not current releases. Please remember that The Hanes Wine Review only covers current release wines being sold in the United States so as to not yank any reader's chains. But don't think that all Hanes ever drinks are current releases. Why, no, he drinketh many older wines as well! So, for those of you who might be interested in reading about how these older wines are drinking at the present moment, forge on ahead. But keep in mind the useful dictum that there are no great wines, only great bottles. These notes represent one bottle, separated at birth from its siblings and your bottle may taste quite differently based on a host of factors. Also note that the prices for older wines tasted will vary greatly, depending on if the wine was purchased on release or more recently. So, take the noted price with a grain of salt.

Sent to Their Grave in September 2017

Turley
San Luis Obispo County, California
Paso Robles
Ueberroth Vineyard
Zinfandel
2009
$48.00
16.2%
There’s a light cloudiness to the liquid which is hard to see given how impenetrably opaque the black core is otherwise, brighter sunset red rims struggle to win ground against the darker core. The nose at first is mainly beef jerky, grill smoke and baked ham then broadens into black licorice, mint, spiced orange peel and a considerable amount of fig, date to blackberry, blueberry jam, has lost juiciness in favor of arch concentration of sugariness. More medium-bodied than full now, shows more bones and the acidity able to play a more active role which is unusual for the grape. Makes you pucker and go into a sugar coma at once, running the gamut from strawberry, raspberry through blueberry, plum onto fig, golden raisin and prune. Alcohol generally is tamed. Dark chocolate, caramel, coconut accents proportionate and woven in fully. Smoky residue lingers past the finish. At its utter apex. 93 points

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Sent to Their Grave in August 2017

Pahlmeyer
Napa Valley, California
Chardonnay
2003
$70.00
14.9%
Shifting between a maturing golden hue and amber, flat and without much shine, rims show a bit more youthfulness. The nose has a crisp profile with oak toast, lime juice, wet grill smoke notes that verge on evoking roasted coffee beans, able to remain openly knit and not congeal in the nostrils, mild floral dew drapes over the peach, pineapple, melon fruit scents. In the mouth it’s full-bodied and a tad sluggish without turning narcoleptic. Has sufficient acidity to lend some zing to the lime, tangerine citrus. The peach, apricot, pear fruit hanging onto some residual sugar and makes it through the finish. The toffee controls the finish and residue. Past peak but not dead yet, the priest is knocking on the front door though. 87 points

Pahlmeyer
Napa Valley, California
Chardonnay
2002
$60.00
14.9%
Has turned to a consistent orange hue, dull and more or less transparent, not much loss at the rims. Toffee, caramel and pie crust take up most of the nose, potpourri, apricot paste, some mint, the oak has outlasted the fruit, shows initial promise but trails off very quickly leaving the cupboard bare. Medium-bodied, has lost weight and traction but still pushes into the palate rather than lift. Mint, orange peel, bubblegum segue into the expected dough and yeast type accents. No acidity to speak of, flat mouth presence. The peach, melon, pear, yellow apple fruit fares better here, buttressed by ginger, cinnamon spice shades. Displays its pedigreed origin yet there’s little reason to keep sipping past getting a buzz. 84 points

Navarro
Mendocino County, California
Anderson Valley
Deep End Blend
Riesling
2014
$29.00
13.7%
Basic golden color with slightly above average richness, holds on credibly through the rims. Honeyed and smoky nose, the lemon to lime citrus has a soft drink confectionary quality, rubber and vanilla pudding explode before it vanishes, the peach, pear, yellow apple fruit never quite finds the spotlight. Full-bodied, syrupy and layered, could turn boring if the acidity was not able to rescue it mid-palate and add the needed pep. Brown sugar, honey, spiced oranges, cinnamon lead the charge. Has a rubber element but not as pronounced as in the nose. Softly juicy apple, pear, apricot fruit with a cold cellar aged feel. No sharp edges, round but not sluggish, knows how to accelerate into the finish. 88 points

Caton, Ty
Sonoma Valley, California
Caton Vineyard
Cabernet Sauvignon
2010
$25.99
14.7%
The core is more sleek black than purple, features very thin rims of brick red to orange hues. Viscous nose of jammy plum, cassis to black cherry scents, blends in molasses, mint leaf, cocoa, hints of leather and cedar and Indian spaces, barely budging into middle age. Full-bodied with a velvety texture and a cleansing tickle at the end. The tannin is releasing but still can be clumpy at times. Gains sweeter lift via chocolate, caramel, potpourri accents. Then shows a maturing profile via cedar and cumin to nutmeg spices. Here there’s more focus in the plum, maraschino cherry fruit, concentrated but drier and perhaps a bit short. Slowly moving in the right direction. 89 points

Jermann
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Venezia Giulia
Were Dreams
Chardonnay
2005
$69.99
13.5%
Full-on amber to bronze color, pretty much looks like an intentional “orange wine,” moderately dull with some drop in intensity at the rims. Caramel, baking dough, honey, pretty much maderized in character if the nose and color are to be taken seriously, some orange peel but the apricot, peach, apple fruit scents are almost entirely shot. Full-bodied and holds its weight throughout, has better acidity than expected though you wouldn’t call it fresh per se. Dominated by yeast, dough, pie crust flavors and here it runs hot even with a perfectly average alcoholic content. Mint and spiced orange then bitters and nuttiness. Again, even with a poached feel there’s little life in the white pit and apple, pear fruit. Don’t think it was cooked but way long in the tooth. Approximately 90% Chardonnay, remainder unspecified other. 83 points

Jacob, Domaine Robert et Raymond
Burgundy, France
Ladoix
Pinot Noir
2007
$25.99
13.0%
Bright violet with a metallic red sheen, bricking at the rim, immaculately clean and transparent, more lightly hued than washed out. Pungent nose of Indian spices, potpourri, cedar and mint, aggressively pungent, some underlying damp earthiness, the red cherry to blackberry fruit comes off as an afterthought. Medium-bodied, retains a firm tannic skeleton which creates a sense of power beyond simple mouth weight. Green apple, strawberry and cherry fruit front loaded into the attack then turns savory with garden herbs, cedar, incense and mint. Here there’s ample white grapefruit, sours up the fruit. Loamy, woodsy finish with no release in the grip. Great ruggedness without turning coarse. 91 points

Turley
San Luis Obispo County, California
Paso Robles
Ueberroth Vineyard
Zinfandel
2003
$24.99
16.0%
Much more clarity than expected, any original concentration in the more or less purple core is gone, as it moves outward it’s brick red and orange with a rusty sort of cast. The nose has lost enough weight that the alcohol shows more prominently, the fruit has coalesced into golden raisin, date, cherry and blueberry pie notes, menthol and pine slowly blend in, honey and molasses, the ripeness is pleasing but it is hard to find distinct tertiary aromas which reward the act of aging the wine. Medium-bodied, sappy texture with a good deal of heat here too. The flesh has fallen off to the point that it comes off as acidic which both creates more movement as well as more freshness in the raspberry, blueberry fruit. Still, there’s that fig and raisin plus caramel and honey. Past peak but not precipitously falling away from it. 88 points

Tessier, Domaine Philippe
Loire, France
Cheverny
Rosé
Blend
2014
$17.99
13.5%
Salmon hued orange with a pinkish tint, warm glow in the core while the rims turn all but hueless. The nose is relaxed unto laconic, not “tired” but quite content on the couch, strawberry, raspberry fruit with some brine and mud to clay to restrain sweetness, used tea bags and pulped oranges. In the mouth it’s medium to full-bodied and sour, close to pickled. That cherry, strawberry, watermelon fruit starts off well but stomped down by the mid-palate by that earth, clay and twigginess. Here the citrus takes on a more high-toned grapefruit character. The acidity level is respectable, finishes with a lot of dry extract accruing on the tongue. Seems to have peaked very early, not a lot left to savor at this juncture. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Gamay Noir. 86 points

Taurino, Azienda Agricola Dr. Cosimo
Puglia/Apulia, Italy
Brindisi
Patriglione
Blend
1990
$24.99
14.5%
Blackish core has plus level clarity, beyond that it’s all red rust to clay and then burnt orange hues, obviously an older wine. Has lost some volume in the nose so the alcohol shows, anise, orange peel, leather and tar before the black raisin, fig to maraschino cherry scents take hold, nutty and close to sherried in nature, hard to peg distinct tertiary aromas. Medium-bodied, for all of its syrupy texture it has a natural fluidity to it. The nuttiness is even higher here with a yeasty quality as well, most of the remaining space allocated to raisin, fig, date flavors. Finishes with tar, tobacco ash and orange peel. Still drinking well and probably not that far past peak, yet minimal sign of aged development beyond what was probably there in its youth. 90% Negroamaro, 10% Malvasia Nera. 89 points

Fitz-Ritter, Weingut K.
Pfalz, Germany
Ungsteiner
Herrenberg
Grosses Gewächs Trocken AP #20
Riesling
2012
$24.99
13.0%
Dark golden color suggests a wine older than its true age, high degree of gauziness, really looks substantial in the glass. Burly nose of tire rubber, mint, wet slate, blood oranges and bay leaf, for all of its savoriness there still remains a nice spine of apple, pear, pineapple fruit. In the mouth it’s full-bodied with a lot of grip and apparent extract, a bit lacking in laser beam cut. Excellent ripeness here lifts the pineapple, nectarine, papaya, apricot fruit, juicier than expected. The rubber to lighter diesel aspect remains but there’s considerable more breadth in the pink grapefruit, tangerine, lime citrus. Long, rolling finish, wash it out of your mouth level with some residual vanilla custard and molasses notes. This is a big boy, not clumsy but does not seem likely to evolve into Fred Astaire. Drink over next 5-7 years while the fruit has full verve. 90 points

Mara
Regional Blend, California
California
Reserve Old Vines
Zinfandel
1996
$17.99
15.2%
Minimal purple left in the core, serious bricking with crimson to a yellowish orange at the rims, fully unblemished and clear. Butterscotch and caramel tangle with grill smoke and minerally dirt in the nose, the plum, black cherry fruit has faded in favor of cedar and spiced orange peel, while more transparent now still has enough heft to hide the alcohol. Medium-bodied, the acidity shows more now and there is a palpable prune, golden raisin to fig aspect which transcends the cherry, blackberry base. No lack of residual oak in the form of vanilla bean, butterscotch and molasses. Tar, black tea leaf and more of that grill smoke percolate through the finish. Aging well and heading towards a leaner, more compact profile, if you want bodacious fruit probably five or so years past peak. 89 points

Caton, Ty
Sonoma Valley, California
Caton Vineyard
Cabernet Collection Big Hill
Cabernet Sauvignon
2011
$23.99
14.0%
The liquid has utmost clarity yet the blackness at the core pushes into opacity, the rims are already bricking into burnt crimson to orange hues, brooding appearance. There’s a tautness to the nose which lets the alcohol show more than may be desired, dry earth, tree bark, cocoa powder, lavender, pulped oranges, witch hazel, the plum, cassis, cherry compote scents struggle to find their footing. Full-bodied with a soft bean bag like texture, you sort of sink into it. Not to say that the tannin has no oomph, it does, just not in the driver’s seat (and thankfully devoid of greenness). Chocolate, floral paste, incense, cedar and vanilla bean provide the makeup for the cherry, blackberry, black currant fruit which has both juice and snap. It does finish a bit short but tastefully and all at once so it’s a clean break. 89 points

Reyes S.L., Bodegas
Ribera del Duero, Spain
Teófilo Reyes
Tempranillo
1997
$17.99
13.5%
While clear the liquid quickly shifts from a small purple core to a mix of sunset red, orange to yellow hues, noticeably matured appearance. Aggressively smoky nose, close to forest fire quality, grilled meat fat, cedar, burnt molasses, coffee rinds, hard to hide from the assault, what fruit you can smell retains some raspberry, red cherry freshness. Medium-bodied, smoky but not as bad here, syrupy texture plays up enough plummy notes and blackberry, black cherry to stand its ground. Potpourri, savory garden herbs, tar and incense then more campfire smoke. There’s okay acidity lurking in the background. At almost ten years out one fears this is what it is so you better like your wine well roasted. 86 points

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Sent to Their Grave in July 2017

Ravenswood
Russian River Valley, California
Wood Road/Belloni Vineyard
Zinfandel
1996
$29.99
14.9%
Sunset red hues lighten the otherwise black core, burnt red to orange closer to the rims, the first few pours very clear, great vibrancy. Cedar, incense and nutmeg set the stage in the nose, raisin, fig to prune fruit with echoes of cherry and plum, notes of beef jerky and menthol add nuance, given the volume it has lost it masks the alcohol decently. Medium-bodied, has shed weight on the palate too yet firmed up into a dapper elderly gentleman. Cedar, spiced orange peel, potpourri, tar and tea leaf create a savory profile. The fig, prune, plum, cherry fruit has concentration but the sweetness breaks a sweat to get to the finish. Great retronasal perfume, clingy. In a great place right now. Grapes sourced 34% Belloni Vineyard, 27% Chelli Vineyard, 23% Arata Vineyard, 16% Rue Vineyard. 90 points

Wagner Stempel, Weingut
Rheinhessen, Germany
Siefersheimer
QbA Trocken AP #13
Weissburgunder
2012
$11.99
13.0%
Close to a luminescent glow in the gold color, gives it a thick, solid look which makes surface shine moot, slight diminishment at the rims. Quite odd nose of coconut custard, caramelized brown sugar and lemon curd, enduring nuttiness as well then piercing notes of green apple, star fruit and pomegranate fruit, not without structure and underlying minerality but seems intent on sluttiness. Full-bodied, same vanilla cream, molasses and coconut the first thing you taste. Orange sherbet, lemonade next. More bite here via pineapple, passion fruit, green melon to papaya fruit, moderate juiciness but short. The acidity seems okay but hard to tell with the creaminess getting in the way. Enjoyable like a Coney Island sideshow. 86 points

Foillard, Jean
Beaujolais, France
Morgon
Côte du Py
Gamay Noir
2002
$22.99
13.0%
Softly filmy ruby core still bright, fades at the rims to a mix of dilute orange and yellow, show some silty sediment. Fluffy nose, more well packed than immobile, offers pressed flowers, pulped oranges, tea leaf, autumn leaves, strawberry, raspberry to green apple fruit scents, mini bursts of licorice or thyme. Medium-bodied with good roundness and the palate coverage is excellent. The acidity still giving it a charge and tends to favor the lemon peel, tree leaves and bark. The blueberry, strawberry, raspberry fruit steady as it goes, ginger and nutmeg spice extend it some. Ends with a more neutral stone bits and meadow grasses. In a great place for trading off fruit for tertiary development. 92 points

Gonon, Pierre
Rhône, France
Saint-Joseph
Les Oliviers
Blend
2014
$58.99
14.0%
Youthful brownish touch to the straw gold, dilute rims. A bit of fart in the nose then oak cream, blanched nuts, lemon curd and cantaloupe, apple, apricot fruit scents, waxy ending with expected bluntness. Full-bodied in a broad but not deep manner, waxy yet here also more honeyed and sugary, no lack of residual sugar to it. Consistent orange to tangerine citrus, nutty with periodic nuances of wet wool. More melon, apple, pear to apricot fruit, nothing unusual. The acidity is actually pretty good yet cannot prevent a flat mouth feel. No “wow” factor today but these are typically wines which need age to best strut their stuff. 80% Marsanne, 20% Roussanne. 88 points

Huet, Domaine
Loire, France
Vouvray
Clos du Bourg
Demi-Sec
Chenin Blanc
2010
$39.99
13.5%
Calm surface but flat underneath, good mix of shine and thickness as it pools downward. The nose has admirable fatness if pulls up short, beeswax, honey and at times evokes rubber, lime zest, peach, apricot to melon scents, some grill smoke, starting to develop. Medium-bodied, appealing angularity and bite, the acidity keeps it fresh throughout. Brown sugar, molasses, candied orange peel and some lemon roll on through the finish. No lack of snap in the green apple, apricot, white peach fruit. Has a little brightening grassiness as well as smokiness at the end. That said, finishes more bluntly than desired, likely attributable to its middle age status. 89 points

Lauer, Weingut Peter
Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Ayler
Kupp Neuenbersch
QbA Fass 17 AP #16
Riesling
2011
$48.99
12.5%
Dull with some depth to the golden hue, loses intensity at the rims but solid enough. Honey, fine spun sugar, mint, lime to pink grapefruit spritz gently layer themselves in the nose, richer pear, red apple, peach to apricot fruit scents, genially diffuse. Medium-bodied, comes off as soft with relaxed acidity and chalkiness than minerally tang. Some garden herb notes for savoriness, small crest of rubber in the mid-palate. Lemon, tangerine, pink grapefruit citrus has a Kool-aid texture and sweetness. Simple white pit fruit to apple fruit flavors. Smokier ending, not quite minerally but pleasingly herbaceous echoing. 88 points

Dominique, Château La
Bordeaux, France
Saint-Emilion
Blend
1979
$59.99
12.0%
Blackish core, this contributed to by some sediment, more reddish orange rims. Floral dustiness to the nose, plum to prune fruit, baking spices, bell pepper, hay to straw, mushroom and loamy earth, all adding up to a fully matured profile. Full-bodied, the tannin contributes to a clumpy texture. Virtually identical on the palate to the nose, prune/plum fruit, loamy earth, stone, bell pepper, leather, mushroom. Flowers and sage pretty up the finish. Full of flavor and quite lengthy. A wine where any element separated out is not all that impressive but taken as a whole it all comes together very well. Unspecified percentages of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc. 90 points

Angerville, Domaine Marquis d’
Burgundy, France
Volnay
Caillerets
Pinot Noir
2002
$54.99
13.5%
Reddish brick to orange in hue, clear enough with full rims, staying youthful in appearance. Broad cherry, blackberry, raspberry fruit fill the nose, orange citrus, leather, floral perfume, stone, quite pure. Medium-bodied, finely grained tannin and acidity, still more of a puncher than jabber. Stony, earthy without drying, nice minerally tingle. The cranberry, strawberry to nectarine fruit benefits from a floral lift in the back half. While leaves an impression of it being unevolved it likewise seems complete and without any glaring lack. Can continue to be cellared for some time to come. 92 points

Clos Roche Blanche
Loire, France
Touraine
Gamay Noir
2003
$13.99
12.0%
Clean reddish brick to clay color, hint of orange at the rims, looks fully matured. Nose of shoe polish, tomatoes, vegetal matter, this very slow to blow off in favor of cherry pits, raspberries, on the whole comes off as inert. Medium-bodied plus, featuring pickle and brine, tomato, twigs and leaf matter. Still tannic but not necessarily green, more stony. Has a core of maraschino cherry, strawberry fruit and echo of white grapefruit citrus and floral perfume. Shows more balance than expected and with no adverse astringency. (Composite Cork) 87 points

Clos de la Roilette (Coudert Père et Fils)
Beaujolais, France
Fleurie
Cuvée Tardive
Gamay Noir
2002
$21.99
13.0%
Dull brick red color with a blacker core, the rims washed out, on the whole the liquid is clear. Leathery nose with meadow underbrush and poor dirt, floral, mildly reduced to a roasted character in the cherry, dark berry scents, dried orange peel, puts on weight with air time, has a wet cotton ball feel in the nostrils. Medium-bodied, more svelte and focused here, plenty of acidity to assist. The cranberry, strawberry, red cherry is tart and penetrates deep into the finish. Potpourri, orange to white grapefruit citrus, only starts to hint at the end before segueing into a generalized earthiness, this without losing presence. Likely at peak and worth the wait. 91 points

Amiot, Bernard
Burgundy, France
Chambolle-Musigny
Pinot Noir
2000
$37.99
13.0%
Clear throughout, the reddish core has some browning edges, otherwise dilute. There’s a roast to the cherry, plum scents in the nose yet syrupy in texture, muddy earth, touch of tar and twigs, unpretentious. Medium-bodied, shoulders squared through the mouth entry. Citrusy, tree bark and twigs first then a slow unveil of the more candied cherry, raspberry to blueberry fruit. The acidity still kicking around and the tannin too surprisingly strong. Great grip and almost too powerful. Given this tends to come off foursquare at times. Not sure there’s upside but plateau should be long. 89 points

Trimbach
Alsace, France
Cuvée Frédéric Émile Vendanges Tardives
Riesling
1990
$69.99
13.0%
Attractively bright golden hue, greenish tint, clean and shiny while also not hiding it’s an older wine. The richness of the nose belies its age, rose petals, orange spritz, lime, powdered sugar and a touch wooly, fleshy kumquat, pineapple, nectarine fruit scents, sinewy. Full-bodied, thick and maybe lacking in some extract but quite powerful and long. Nice blend of lime to lemon citrus, wet wool, rubber, hay and straw to stony streamwater. The acidity is adequate but not a major force. Fetching yellow to red apple, pear, peach, apricot fruit. Has dried out of the dessert wine category with sufficient residual sugar yet to please. 90 points

Pichler, Weingut F.X.
Wachau, Austria
“M” Smaragd
Riesling
2002
$82.99
13.5%
While washed out some, sits firmly in the glass and what golden hue is there has vigor at the core. Soft, round nose of whipped cream, rose petals with mango, pineapple fruit and pink grapefruit scents, an echo of minerality, no great fireworks but pleasingly consistent. Full-bodied, doughy and yeasty, bigger presence here in the pineapple, papaya, nectarine fruit as well as that pink grapefruit. The acidity is on the soft side but it has wonderful flow. Can be slightly smoky to flinty and displays briny notes on the finish. Well-perfumed, lingers after you swallow. Probably just on the other side of its apex. 90 points

Huet, S.A.
Loire
Vouvray
Clos du Bourg
Demi-Sec
Chenin Blanc
2005
$34.99
12.0%
Layered and maturing golden hue, pools deep into the glass and extends well into the rims, on the dull side. Big and round nose of lilacs, violets, wax to lanolin, honey and green apple, peach, pear fruit that flirts with deeper tropical notes, fresh and youthful yet. Full-bodied, has a good deal of weight and not afraid to lean into you. Honey and brown sugar adorn the mouth entry, the acidity is broad and somewhat soft but enough to keep the sweetness in check. Substantial uptick in tangerine, lime, pink grapefruit citrus here. At times doughy, others you get more wet stone. Does not come across as shut down, however, not really unevolved as well as not maturing swiftly. You can enjoy it but the best should be ahead. 90 points

Huet, S.A.
Loire, France
Vouvray
Le Mont
Demi-Sec
Chenin Blanc
2002
$30.99
12.5%
Brilliant shine to the amberish gold color, full right through the rims. The nose is direct and with no wasted movement, tangelo to tangerine citrus, floral dew, molasses to almost butterscotch, peach to apricot paste with some strawberry notes, lightly waxy, sneaky length, in no way short. Medium-bodied, the acidity quickly gets in your face, makes the experience tart in a good naturedly fashion. Passion fruit, kiwi, nectarine, pineapple to peach fruit, covers an admirable amount of ground. There is a lingering yeasty to doughy quality in the background. Smokier as it warms, tends to clench up and flatten some through the finish. That said, there’s energy to spare and drinks with youthful verve. Can say with confidence this was a good bottle. 91 points

Colin-Deléger & Fils, Domaine Michel
Burgundy, France
Chassagne-Montrachet
En Remilly
Chardonnay
1994
$49.99
13.5%
High shine to the dark gold to lightly bronzed color, while no doubt has age on it doesn’t quite look as old as it is. You get butterscotch, toffee, orange reduction in the nose, takes awhile for the stoniness to take up space, credible amount of pineapple, green apple, apricot fruit scents left, overall more blunt force than nuance. Medium-bodied, acidity pushes it forward well. Curious lack of terroir inflected flavors, basically it’s a mix of lemon to orange citrus, bubblegum, vanilla and nutmeg. Here too steady if unspectacular yellow apple, pear, apricot fruit dappled with a layer of yeastiness. Holding on well enough but can easily see how folks could see it as getting long in the tooth. 87 points

Ravenswood
Sonoma Valley, California
Sangiacomo Vineyard
Merlot
1992
$29.99
13.8%
The purple left in the core heavily influenced by sunset red shades, the rims a pure burnt to red orange, liquid is clear enough. Nose of matted straw, savory garden herbs, prune to plum, cherry fruit, there’s a medicinal quality to it as well which gives it lift if not also some burn, the oak reduced to cedar and vague vanilla powder. Medium-bodied, starts off with tar, leather and black tea leaf but even at its age the cherry, plum to cassis fruit still holding court from the throne. Back end gets earthier with bell pepper notes and wet minerals. Retronasally you get a blast of honey and mesquite smoke. Has held together remarkably well. 91 points

Porters
Martinborough, New Zealand
Pinot Noir
2002
$11.99
13.5%
Filmy sunset red core, fades into dulled orange to yellow rims, on the whole translucent. Sour nose, fallen leaves, sous bois, has a medicinal cleansing lift, given its average ABV runs hot, mild smoky roast to the cherry, raspberry fruit scents, dried orange to white grapefruit pulp. In the mouth it’s full-bodied, dry and pretty much consistent throughout its presentation, acidic and a bit crabbed. Twigs, leaves, brown dirt, lacks moisture, shade of tomato skin at the end. The cherry, blackberry, raspberry fruit is basic and shows echoes of past concentration, albeit with a honeyed touch. While clunky, admirable power just unfocused now and without a conductor. Likely 4-6 years past its optimal apex. 87 points

Rosemount
New South Wales, Australia
Mudgee
Hill of Gold
Shiraz
2003
$11.99
13.5%
Black core with zero purple left in it, broad crimson to brick red and orange rust rims, visibly fully matured. Cedar, incense and old baseball leather glove scents appear first in the nose, potpourri, the fruit has certainly faded, however, there’s still sufficient cherry, plum scents to fill the bill, there’s something humbly honest and transparent about it, not trying to hide its age. Medium-bodied, while it comes with a prune edge there’s a lot more fruit here, plum to black currant flavors that vibrate all the way through the finish, aided by a fresh and lively acidity. White grapefruit, sour orange take up more room than the cedar, potpourri but both bring it. It’s not a blockbuster but has probably held up as well as many more “pedigreed” wines of the vintage. 88 points

Mas Foraster (Josep Foraster)
Conca de Barberà, Spain
Selecció
Cabernet Sauvignon
2001
$11.99
13.5%
Jet black core, opaque and somewhat dull, thin and foreboding rims of red to orange rust, finally a yellow aura. The nose comes off as concentrated if not reduced, sandalwood, jasmine incense, powdered flower petals and mukhwas combine with prune, black raisin and cherry scents for an aged but powerful presence, trails off slightly at the end. Full-bodied, softened with a pervasive dry texture and at this point acidity which can lead to above average tartness. Cedar and light cocoa pair here with the incense, gets more leathery as it moves through the mouth. Fruit diminished, cherry, black currant with enough prune to glue it together. Clearly a good wine on the downward slope, battling for life to the end. 87 points

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Sent to Their Grave in June 2017

Vallana e Figlio, Casa Vinicola Antonio
Piedmont, Italy
Colline Novaresi Spanna
Nebbiolo
1958
$169.99
12.0%
Blackish brown core, opaque, orange and then thin yellow aura around the rims. Semi-volatile nose of nail polish, peanut shells, prune to plum notes, cherry compote, damp potpourri, grilled honeyed pecans and a burst of green apple, kind of all over the place. Medium to full-bodied, volatile here too with shoe polish, leather, peanut shell notes. That said, no lack of ripe cherry, plum, fruit. The acidity pushes it to a big crest in the middle. Yet, overall, flat mouth feel. Not dead yet but it helps if you want to like it. 86 points

Sorrel, Marc
Rhône, France
Hermitage
Le Gréal
Syrah
1998
$119.99
13.5%
Very clear liquid, seamless and youthful dark black core with broad red magenta rims. Big, thick lift to the nose, cherry to plum scents with a menthol like cleansing feel, a touch herbaceous with bell pepper notes, peppery, solid grapefruit, gracefully rugged. Medium-bodied, the acidity hollows it out a little yet by the same turn gives it eye opening pep. Animal fur, tar, black tea leaf, garrigues the main course here. The red cherry, raspberry, blackberry fruit crests and falls, inconsistent presence. As it finishes there’s an olive pit bite along with bell pepper to puncture the palate. Certainly keeps you awake as you sip it, maybe just getting past peak or at the place where bottle variation accelerates. 89 points

Allemand, Thierry
Rhône, France
Cornas
Reynard
Syrah
2004
$74.99
13.5%
Very bright ruby red to violet in hue, transparent, remains youthful in appearance. The nose is penetrating with a focus on leather, animal hide, black olives and cracked pepper, high-toned cranberry to red cherry scents, possesses immense focus and borders on rough. Medium-bodied and angular, the tannin resolving yet the acidity can run amok. The mid-palate is brightened by white grapefruit, blood orange citrus tones. Otherwise it is a steady course of tree bark, stony earth, beef jerky with an undercurrent of leafiness. Takes awhile for the cherry, raspberry fruit to grab hold and when it does not particularly deep nor resonant. Good retronasal activity. This bottle comes off as awkward. 88 points

Henriot
Champagne, France
Blanc Souverain Pur Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs Brut
Chardonnay
NV
$54.99
12.0%
Rich golden color through to the rims, minimal pétillance persisting after the pour, nothing visually out of the ordinary. Full and nutty nose with lemon custard, brioche, stays fleshy for some time, the pear to peach fruit scents actually the most reticent element. Full-bodied and bottom heavy, spicy with vanilla and challah bread notes. The grapefruit to orange citrus turns increasingly sour through the finish. Churns up minerality and chalk dust as it progresses, evolves quickly in the glass. By the finish turns a little tough minded. More interesting than pleasing. 88 points

Vatan, Edmond et Anne
Loire, France
Sancerre
Clos La Néore
Sauvignon Blanc
2013
$169.99
13.0%
Solid golden core with paler rims, a touch flat across the surface. Real heavy and waxy nose, earthy, minty too, lemon peel, peach, apricot to pear fruit, the nose suggests the wine is shut down because it sure ain’t showing much. Full-bodied, could not be sterner, pushes down on the palate relentlessly, borderline tannic in feel. Nice citrus component made from lemon, lime to tangerine citrus. Clayish and earthy more than minerally. The green apple, pear, apricot fruit is flavorful but dry and more sinewy than broad. Over time hits you with wet wool, quinine and licorice, almost as if someone slipped Chenin into your glass. Not the time to pull the cork on this wine. 88 points

Roulot, Domaine Guy
Burgundy, France
Meursault
Bouchères
Chardonnay
2009
$219.99
13.0%
Green tint to the yellow straw hue, some diminishment at the rims, neither particularly flat nor shiny. Huge floral perfume in the nose with mint, orange sherbet nuances alongside apricot, peach to green melon fruit scents, great sparkle in the nostrils. Medium-bodied, the acidity is quite nice but not so cutting as to interfere with the traction and textural grip. Violets, lilacs, lime to tangerine citrus with a stone underpinning. An element of vanilla custard permeates throughout. At first it acts like it is made in the leaner, taut style than it fattens and starts to verge on nutty. Enjoyably chameleon-like. Plenty of road ahead. 90 points

Felsina, Fattoria di
Tuscany, Italy
Castelnuovo Berardenga Fontalloro
Sangiovese
1990
$40.99
13.5%
Pure black core, glowing sunset red to yellow rims. Dense nose of cherry compote, violets and cut flowers, sweet grill smoke, damp leather and minerals, even air time does little to make it more airy and open. Medium-bodied, broadly set skeleton, acidic with emphasis on ginger, nutmeg spice, potpourri, candied orange peel. Earthy with accents of leather which border on animal fur. The tannic finish shortens it some, not sure if this will resolve. Still, the plumpness in the plum, cherry fruit keeps solid throughout. Spicy and dusty finish. It’s a big boy that steamrolls the palate. 89 points

Burgaud, Bernard
Rhône, France
Côte-Rôtie
Syrah
1997
$33.99
12.5%
The black core is a touch cloudy, certainly fully opaque, dull brick red rims, overall not that aged in appearance. Boisterous nose of cracked pepper, olive tapenade, grapefruit pith, slightly roasted cherry to plum fruit, burnt grill fat, not afraid to get in there and mix things up. Medium-bodied, the acidity keeps it fresh throughout, vicious cut in the blood orange to grapefruit citrus. Crazy smoky and earthy with olive, tar, tea leaf notes and then a baking spice lift. The more you sip the more the tannin builds on the tongue. On the whole it’s compact and wiry. The way the cherry, Italian plum to currant fruit lasts indicates many years yet ahead. 91 points

Dunn
Napa Valley, California
Howell Mountain
Cabernet Sauvignon
1991
$88.00
13.0%
Fully black core with extremely thin brick red rims, looks its age. Full-on black earth, minerals, wet leather and black tea leaf in the nose, roasted cherry fruit, not much oak presence just a pinch of vanilla, green pepper has a bigger footprint, rugged profile and keeps pushing deeper into the nostrils. Full-bodied, the tannin broad and enveloping but you can tell it has indeed pulled back some. On the green side with bell pepper but also prettier pine and eucalyptus. The plum, cherry, black currant fruit as sour as juicy, maybe starting to dry out some. More leathery through the finish. Big boned and pushes forward across the palate like it owns you. 90 points

Minuto fu Giovanni, Mario
Piedmont, Italy
Barbaresco
Vigneto Sorì Montestefano
Riserva
Nebbiolo
1988
$69.99
14.0%
Orange-brownish core with yellow rims, clearly older and aged, moderate clarity to the liquid. The nose is all prune, raisin to plum and cherry fruit, quite concentrated, baking spices, orange peel, witch hazel, floral musk, at times its kind of over the top, unexpected for its age. Full-bodied, fleshy if not outright fat, the tannin is still kicking and the acidity is okay. Borders on a roasted character, muscular thrust in that same plum, raisin, cherry fruit. Well accompanied by cinnamon to ginger spice, leather. Huge burst in the mid-palate of sweetly juicy white grapefruit. Leaves you puzzled that it has this much corpulence at its age. 89 points

Rayas, Château
Rhône, France
Côtes-du-Rhône
Château de Fonsalette Cuvée Syrah
Syrah
2000
$64.95
14.0%
Very dark and close to black core, unblemished and clean, right rust red rims, high degree of shine to the surface. High toned nose of black olives, lavender, pulped oranges and molasses glazed pork, the cherry to currant fruit scents remain rich and vibrant. Medium-bodied, here it feels as if it has lost some weight, tannin chugging along while the acidity freshens and lengthens the end. Bright white grapefruit citrus, stone pebbles with cracked pepper and dried salted beef strips in support. Less floral here but flinty. The black cherry, plum to currant fruit does trail off lightly through the finish. At this stage more elegant than brawny. 91 points

Von Winning, Weingut
Pfalz, Germany
Deidesheimer
Kalkofen
Grosses Gewächs QbA Trocken AP #45
Riesling
2013
$74.99
12.5%
Clear, transparent green to white straw hue with a sleek surface. Minty, stony nose that borders on earthy, chalk dust and lime zest, vague apricot to peach, pear fruit scents, close to bordering on empty, nothing going on. Light-bodied, huge acidic pucker to it. Lots of stone, chalk dust. As in the nose, not much fruit, what’s there zippy tropical pineapple, nectarine, papaya, passion fruit that gets a charge from the lime, lemon citrus. Finishes weakly as the dryness eviscerates the fruit. Leaves an impression of a touch of woodiness. Probably what it is supposed to be, not moving much and perhaps in shutdown mode. 88 points

Müller-Catoir, Weingut
Pfalz, Germany
Haardter
Bürgergarten
Spätlese Halbtrocken AP #14
Riesling
1998
$39.99
12.0%
Shiny greenish gold hue, very youthful in appearance with full rims. Big, rich nose of lime juice, white grapefruit, rubber, pineapple, guava to nectarine fruit, fresh and bouncy and able to manage an airy dissolve given that richness. Medium-bodied, pinpoint acidity, great focus, comes with a pleasingly stony underbelly. Sour and lively pink grapefruit to lime citrus on the palate. The consistently fleshy apricot, peach, pear, mango to pineapple fruit penetrated now and then by a grassiness. Long, sinewy finish that never slows down. Aging at a glacial place and probably still on the way up. 92 points

Clos Rougeard
Loire, France
Saumur
Brêzé
Chenin Blanc
2005
$169.99
12.5%
Basic, straightforward golden color, a bit flat with some shine to it, no signs of aging. Angular nose with quite a lot of residual oak toast, otherwise airy if not exactly empty, suitable apricot, apple to pear fruit scents and an underlying stoniness. Medium-bodied and much more alive on the palate with that same zesty toast to it. Savory to sour lime to lemon citrus then becomes sugary in a more fine spun, powdery fashion. Earthiness comes out with air time. Broader array of passion fruit, apricot, pineapple to peach. Minty finish. While it lacks balance the power masks this most of the time. 88 points

Bassermann-Jordan, Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr. Von
Pfalz, Germany
Forster
Ungeheuer
Auslese AP #6
Riesling
1976
9.5%
Very advanced golden color verging on browning, dull with yellowed edges. Waxy nose like pledge, honey to caramelized sugar, spiced orange, no real lift to it, the apricot paste, peach fruit has lost its vibrancy whereas it gets a touch more floral as it opens. Medium-bodied, the acidity is somewhat weak, however, it has reached a level of dryness which helps flow. Spicy with woodsy sous bois notes. Sour orange to grapefruit citrus. Not much length to the pineapple, peach, papaya fruit however does make a decent initial splash. Pine and mint infused finish. Not dead but close to seeing its life flash by, this likely attributable in many ways to the so-so acidity. 86 points

Taittinger
Champagne, France
Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne
Chardonnay
2002
$129.99
12.0%
Bright brownish gold color with a high shine, empty rims, the bubbles are not especially longlasting. The nose offers a strong toast, sinewy sugariness, orange blossom, tart green apple fruit scents, powerful lift than a gentle final evaporation. Medium-bodied, tightly wound pétillance with an equally big toast here. Citrus kaleidoscope of lime to lemon and then orange, tangerine. The apple, pear to peach fruit very collected and level headed. Furnishes a soft and plush finish which amps up the “ahhh” factor. Stays balanced without giving up power to do so. 91 points

Zind Humbrecht, Domaine
Alsace, France
Hengst
Vendange Tardive
Gewürztraminer
1994
$69.99
14.0%
Aging bronzed orange to brown in hue, diminished color around the rims. The nose presents a certain waxiness with orange marmalade, rose petal and honey accents, apricot to peach paste, a bit of coconut too, overall clean and not too over the top, seems to have pulled back into itself. Medium-bodied, feels like it has lost weight over time, however, the concentration of the nectarine, peach, apricot to mango fruit persists. Ginger, grapefruit mixed in, the acidity is better than expected and manages to prod things forward. While it can be smoky at moments there’s none of the aged Gewürztraminer mushroom and earth elements. That said, the rest seems to have peaked so no sense in holding on hoping that train will arrive. 89 points

Pithon, Domaine Olivier
Languedoc/Roussillon, France
Côtes du Roussillon
Saturne
Blend
2004
$11.99
13.5%
Dense and opaque blackish purple core which explodes into fiery crimson and orange to fashion broad rims, looking middle-aged. Well-stuffed nose which leads to some muteness, earthy with heavy plum, black cherry fruit scents, mild notes of pressed flowers and anise, showing little tertiary development and evolution. Full-bodied, tannin still kicking and it’s more stony here which ratchets up the earthiness. Florality somewhat more noticeable and there’s sweet concentration remaining in the cherry, raspberry to blackberry fruit. In keeping with the whole the white grapefruit kick at the end is easy to miss. Very chewy and fills the mouth cheek to cheek. Have to guess it is what it is, which ain’t all bad. Mostly Grenache and Carignan, small portion of Syrah. 88 points

Halleck Vineyard
Sonoma County, California
Sonoma Coast
Halleck Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2003
$17.99
13.4%
Minimal purple to the core, mainly brick red and rust orange, the rims washed out but clear, looks matured. Extremely smoky nose, hard to tell if this is the tertiary representation of oak or not, all angles now, sour cherry to raspberry fruit, cola bean, earth and charred campfire driftwood, pungently in your face. Medium-bodied with lots of palate traction, glues itself firmly. Moderately less smoky here, more of an outright char. However, it fits the general profile with again that roasted cherry to blackberry fruit. Some lemon citrus, pine and poor brown dirt. Tannin has some grip, the acidity is what gives it a charge. Fruit weakens a little through the finish. Nice enough if you want some angles rather than rounder contours. 88 points

Eddy, Tom
Napa Valley, California
Cabernet Sauvignon
2003
$29.99
14.8%
Blackish core and while unblemished it is opaque, the rims already a full-on fiery sunset red with orange tint, richly hued. The nose has a medicinal quality and is impaired some by alcohol fumes, otherwise it’s pine, eucalyptus, damp saddle leather and earth, feels as if it was pressed together so that the ripe plum to black currant fruit barely gets to unwind. Medium-bodied, remains tannic and even more so acidic with a pucker to the finish. That said, not green per se, oddly may have benefited from more overt oaking to soften the edges but you get minimal caramel or toast. Lots of pine here too with broader stony earth and no real leatheriness. The plum, cherry, boysenberry fruit flickers like a candle in an open window. Hard to imagine it softening more but if it does should integrate well, the fruit is there underneath. 87 points

Möbitz, Henrik
Baden, Germany
Kapelle
Auslese Goldkap AP #3
Gewürztraminer
2012
$36.99
11.0%
Day-glo brightness to the golden color, leaps out of the glass, full to the rims and closing in on a shift to more amber hues. The nose lifts very quickly if not abruptly, hard to gather things in before it’s gone, the typical litchee nut, orange citrus and rose water, the fruit mainly pear, peach to papaya, lacks tropical sharpness, falls back to earth and lacks length. Medium to full-bodied, the weight front-loaded and trails off by the finish. Again nutty but here there’s a pervasive sourness too. Apricot paste, peach, pear, melon all doused in honey without really seeming sweet per se. The florality does not gain consistency. Too tightly wound and clenched to massage your pleasure nodes. 375 ml bottle. 87 points

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Sent to Their Grave in May 2017

Congruence
Dry Creek Valley, California
Grist Vineyard
Zinfandel
2011
$40.00
14.7%
Crimson to purple core, clear and transparent given the darker hues, the rims fully red brick if not segueing to orange. Medicinal and eucalyptus laden lift to the nose, slightly alcoholic, heavy prune and raisin blended into jammy blackberry and cherry scents, cinnamon and ginger spice, vanilla fudge, for all of its concentration seems to be losing weight. Medium-bodied, firmer than expected based on the nose, tangy orange to grapefruit citrus with pine and eucalyptus backing it up. Cocoa, baking spices, stones and rocks. The fruit fresher here with an emphasis on blackberry, blueberry to cherry, shades of golden raisin to fig in the background, there’s a restraint to the sugariness which allows some heat through the finish. Time to drink up. 88 points

Debize, Bruno
Beaujolais, France
Vin de France
Apinost
Gamay Noir
2013
$29.99
11.3%
Dark and somewhat flat purple core, the rims in turn a diluted ruby red. Bright nose of cranberry, sour raspberry to cherry fruit, grassy and while particularly stony not especially earthy, has a long and steady presence in the nostrils. Medium-bodied, quite tart with brawny acidity and tannin. Noticeably peppery, lends bite. Equally stony in the mouth, adds dryness to the texture. The fruit is lighter here, more strawberry, cranberry, blueberry to green apple. White grapefruit dominates the finish. Only mildly grassy, in keeping with general demeanor. Tightens up at the end and air time does little to change this. Fresh and pure, does not suggest it will change much but could hold for a long time. 89 points

Trujillo Wines
Napa Valley, California
Madelynne Red Wine Cuvée
Blend
2013
$23.99
14.2%
Opaque with a glowing black core, the thin rims a vibrant sunset red, sleek surface sheen, looks impressive. Grapey nose with plum to prune notes, blackberry jam, ginger snaps and milk chocolate, clearly unevolved and plump as it fills the nostrils. Medium-bodied, immediately feels uneven and massaged, some moments dry and clumpy, others smooth and polished. The oak is ever present, vanilla, butterscotch, chocolate, caramel to mint and baking spices, the whole nine yards. Finishes bitter. Blueberry, blackberry to plum fruit, very much dark in complexion. Light nuances of orange citrus and tea leaf. You get tired of drinking it fairly swiftly. 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, 15% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot. 87 points

Paris, Christine et Gilles
Beaujolais, France
Chiroubles
Vieilles Vignes
Gamay Noir
2013
$17.99
12.0%
Very cloudy with a dusky purple core and mildly brighter brick red rims, looks like an old wine that was shaken so the sediment permeated all the liquid. The nose is all band-aid, fart and wet animal fur, some cherry to red currant scents buried in there somewhere, a touch leafy as well. Medium-bodied, fizzy when first open, this moderately resolves. Bitter and metallic with more of the same animality. No lack of acidity to ratchet up the intensity even further. The cherry, sour red berry fruit starts off okay but like most of it, squeezed into submission by the finish. Unstable mouth feel, while drinkable leaves you feeling you just experienced the perils of natural winemaking. 86 points

Chevrot, Domaine
Burgundy, France
Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune
Pinot Noir
2012
$11.99
12.5%
Unblemished, the color is a dried blood to rust red, hints at the beginning of an orange aura, actually looks kind of menacing. Thick plummy nose with cherry compote, also has a vegetal streak, like asparagus, minerals and sour lemons, has a muted floral side struggling to get out. In the mouth it’s full-bodied with acidity which punches more than jabs. Noticeably more earthy here with metal and sous bois notes, tobacco and that same lemony bite. Close to overripe cherry, blackberry fruit, contributes to a gluey texture. But that acidity does indeed lift it off the palate. Extended finish. Has enough fruit to please the casual drinker but its real charm lies in its rusticity. (Composite Cork: Diam5) 89 points

Verset, Alain
Rhône, France
Cornas
Syrah
2011
$54.99
13.5%
Semi-filmy brick red color, slightly darker core but not really full-on purple. Violets, wet animal fur and stone dust percolate in the nose, sour red currant to cherry scents, a few saline notes, strong lift. Light to medium-bodied, again violets lead the way with blood iron, beef jerky, iodine, salt lick. Here the fruit is more blueberry, blackberry, cherry, the sourness brightened by the powerful acidity. Tightens up through the finish, shortening its length. Olive pits and white grapefruit peek out at the end. As close to vicious as aggressive. Not sure the fruit will go the distance versus the structure. 89 points

Leclerc, Domaine René
Burgundy, France
Gevrey-Chambertin
Pinot Noir
2011
$38.99
13.0%
Ruby-violet color, decent clarity, slightly burnt red tint along the rims. Good sweetness to the nose, candied cherries, raspberries, some muddy earth and barnyard floor notes, undercurrent of herbaceousness, too heavy overall to achieve much lift. Light-bodied, tannic and acidic both, the sweetly candied core of raspberry, red cherry fruit accords itself well. Flows forward in spite of this brawny structure. Leather, earth, twigs. Does end on the short side and seems to shut down further with additional air time. Likely not the best moment to check in on it, maybe 5-6 years from now. As a result, satisfactory now, no more. 88 points

Vieux Télégraphe, Domaine du
Rhône, France
Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Vieux Télégramme
Blend
2002
$24.99
14.0%
Sunset red to orange in color with a yellow aura, looks washed out, no cloudiness. With wet leather, fur, potpourri and olive pits it has good breadth of scents but lacks intensity and concentration, simple cherry, blackberry fruit, you can call it succinct in a non-pejorative manner. Light to medium-bodied, more prune and date fruit than cherry, berry. The tannin and phenolics perhaps underripe, maybe gives it added firmness at this point in its life. Wet wool, herbs, garrigues, orange peel. Weak finish but have to say that on the whole the bottle exceeded expectations. 65% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah, 5% Cinsault. 87 points

Turley
Russian River Valley, California
Rancho Burro
Zinfandel
2005
$29.99
14.9%
Opaque and somewhat cloudy with a basic purple color, heavyset red magenta rims, glows strongly. The nose shows alcohol alongside the jammy blueberry, blackberry, cherry fruit, supplemented by vanilla fudge and butterscotch, licorice and flowers, no sense of terroir, ends with a taut green apple note. Full-bodied, fleshy but not soft, now and then comes across as angular. The caramel, butterscotch dominate mostly upfront and the turns floral past the mid-palate. The fruit for sure has faded some but no general lack of boysenberry, blackberry, cherry fruit. The alcohol shortens the sweetness through the finish. Broadens into basil and orange peel nuances. Hard to say it has significant tertiary development so with the juiciness on the way out it is time to drink up. 88 points

Schneider, Weingut Karlheinz
Nahe, Germany
Schlossböckelheimer
Vulkanstein QbA Trocken AP #5
Riesling
2013
$21.99
12.0%
Moderate concentration of golden straw hue in the core, average loss of intensity at the rims, not especially shiny nor flat, looks like Riesling. At first the nose is all floral with sweet citrus zest then let it open a few moments and a big surge of rubber and wet stone comes forth, consistently present apricot, peach to white grape and red cherry fruit scents, there’s a delicate or sensitive nature about the presentation in spite of overall muscular fullness. Medium-bodied and firm for the weight, the acidity brings blunt force not a keen edge. Still, pep in the tangerine to lemon citrus as well as some guava, papaya notes in the nectarine, peach fruit base bring it to life. The rubber element a lesser factor here if present. Overperforms when taken as a whole rather than parsed out, great length on the finish too. 89 points

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Sent to Their Grave in April 2017

Rieussec, Château
Bordeaux, France
Sauternes
Blend
2001
$149.99
13.5%
Pure orange-amber color, light and still youthful, great clarity with above average shine for the wine category. Restrained nose of apricot paste, peach pit, orange marmalade, ginger, a few rubber notes, gives to a point and then just doesn’t. Medium-bodied, has a nice trim and sleek feel to it, very good and high level of acidity, brings serious sourness to the orange marmalade, pink grapefruit citrus. Pineapple, nectarine, papaya, peach fruit with more bite than sugariness, follows up with a few nips of green apple. Led by ginger to clove, has a high-toned spiciness. Does not seem anywhere near its peak, just entering middle age, extended finish. 89% Sémillon, 8% Sauvignon Blanc, 3% Muscadelle. 90 points

Scalette, Podere Poggio
Tuscany, Italy
Alta Valle della Greve
Il Carbonaione
Sangiovese
1997
$62.99
13.0%
Purple-black core, opaque, the crimson red rims are deep and youthful yet. Densely packed nose of plum, black cherry, cassis fruit, firm for its girth, sweet herbs, white citrus, gains focus as it opens, barely any trace of oak just some cocoa, not unevolved per se but no sweeping tertiary aromas present. Full-bodied, sweeps broadly through the mouth, the acidity is “good plus” while the tannin is more sneaky strong. Mixed white citrus, leather to horsehide, poor dirt add moderate dimension. If allowed to open the cherry, blackberry fruit becomes more supple and lush. On one hand it feels plateaued yet also leaves you thinking there’s something more ahead. 89 points

Ornellaia, Tenuta dell’
Tuscany, Italy
Bolgheri Superiore
Ornellaia
Blend
1990
$125.99
13.0%
Light violet to burnt red/orange in hue, good clarity and not truly showing its age. Earthy and minerally nose supplemented by cedar, leather, the plum to black cherry fruit consistent, the longer it sits in the glass the fuller your nostrils feel, stays on point and balanced until it finally dissolves. Medium-bodied, very acidic and much more minerally here and also with greater notes of oak toast and dill. This turns into a certain herbaceousness, keeps it lively. The red cherry, raspberry, blackberry fruit taut from start to finish. Keeps it all together on the high wire with laser-like focus. Seems to be what it is capable of, on its plateau. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, remainder Merlot, Cabernet Franc. 91 points

Canon, Château
Bordeaux, France
Saint-Emilion
Blend
1982
$139.99
12.5%
Good vigor in the color, the purple core yields to crimson and brick red rims before finally a touch of orange. Sandalwood, incense and cedar give the nose a breeziness, baby powder, a bright red cherry to red currant fruit profile, while at times a touch muted nowhere near losing its staying power. Medium-bodied, closer to light-bodied now, sour cherry, raspberry, boysenberry rather than darker fruits. The tannin fully resolved, leaves the acidity to do whatever heavy lifting is needed. Almost sour at the end, turns a little metallic, more so than just earthy. This sourness brings out notes of white grapefruit. Energetic but no longer fully complete. Approximately 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc. 88 points

Quintarelli, Giuseppe
Veneto, Italy
Ca’ del Merlo
Blend
2004
$89.99
15.0%
Crimson-purple core, clearly advancing red-orange rims which turn yellow furthest out. High-toned, candied nose of strawberry, raspberry fruit, orange peel, an herbaceous twist lifts it with a pine breeze, has a decided booziness to it, quietly aggressive. Medium-bodied, here in the mouth the alcohol really takes over with considerable burn. Leather, loam, anise, more grapefruit than orange citrus. The acidity can appear decent but the wine does not seem especially structured. The cherry, raspberry fruit has golden raisin to fig accents yet not so much residual sugar. The heat really prevents it from attaining greater promise. 55% Corvina and Corvinone, 30% Rondinella, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Nebbiolo, Croatina, Sangiovese. 87 points

Clerico, Domenico
Piedmont, Italy
Langhe
Arte
Blend
2004
$36.99
14.5%
Bright violet core, opaque, displays ruby to brick red rims which still remain fully saturated. Borderline viscous nose of licorice, floral water, fresh wet leather, ripe cherry to blackberry fruit, youthfully plump and unevolved. Medium-bodied, the acidity cuts nicely through the flesh and relieves the natural weight in the raspberry, cherry fruit, this leaning more towards strawberry than blacker fruits. The tannin starts to kick in through the finish, both firming it up while shortening it. With flowers, orange peel and mint it can be quite pretty for its brawn. Doing fine now, unsure if meaningful development is in its future. Approximately 90% Nebbiolo, remainder unspecified percentages of Barbera and/or Cabernet Sauvignon. 89 points

Walker Station
Russian River Valley, California
Chardonnay
2005
$125.99
14.6%
Dull to cloudy gold, touch diminished at the edges, its flatness betrays some age. Very oaky nose of coconut il, butterscotch, mint and poached peaches and apricot paste, deepened further by candied orange peels, potpourri, clingy texture in the nostrils. Full-bodied, spicy and again with a poached to dried fruit character, nectarine, pineapple, peach, apricot fruit. With loads of vanilla, butterscotch, caramel and mint it starts off sweetly and lush and then trails off to a weaker finish. Zero perceptible acidity, only its weight keeps the forward momentum going. Holding on credibly but no doubt on the downward slope. 1.5 liter bottle. 87 points

Ott, Domaines
Provence
Côtes de Provence
Clos Mireille
Cœur de Grain Rosé
Blend
2014
$42.99
14.0%
Very light and pale pink, extremely washed out and a touch flat. Nice spiciness to the nose, tangerine pith, some underlying minerality, presents peach, apricot, red cherry fruit scents of good ripeness, a bit too musky to really lift and turn airy. Full-bodied and on the heavy side, the sweet attack again highlights peach, apricot flavors with yellow apple, pear supplement, hint of cherry. Some salinity, more so than minerality but it only comes at you subtly. The acidity is on the low side, as a result the length may not be what it could be. More viscerally pleasing than captivating. 70% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 10% Syrah. 88 points

Navarro
Mendocino County, California
Anderson Valley
Cuvée 128
Sauvignon Blanc
2014
$19.00
13.3%
Standard green-gold color, perhaps on the flat side, pools into the glass more than shines, close to hueless rims. The nose presents a pleasing grassiness, lemon drop notes, pear, apricot fruit scents and a bit of creaminess to allow it all to soak into the nostrils, generally affable. Medium-bodied and closer to full, it has decent acidity yet there’s something inert about the mouth feel, prefers to get anchored than flow. More floral here and even minty, tingles without anything close to pepperiness or green herbaceousness. Peach, apricot, pear fruit, sweet without verging on tropical. Just right down the middle of the plate, nothing unique and that’s not a slam. Sometimes a wine should just be what it is. 88 points

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Sent to Their Grave in March 2017

Prager, Weingut
Wachau, Austria
Weissenkirchen
Steinriegl
Federspiel
Riesling
1999
$26.99
12.0%
Full on amber color, strong to the rims with decent clarity but not that vibrant of shine. The nose has a good deal of rubber and nuttiness and doughiness to it, orange marmalade as well, dried pineapple and nectarine fruit, certainly the fruit has lost vibrancy but with some air it’s not totally gone, almost all tertiary at this point. Medium-bodied, thankfully the acidity still has some oomph otherwise it would feel pretty sluggish. Here the dough and baking spices are obvious and the rubber, petrol notes more subdued. Sour grapefruit perks up the tangy pineapple, papaya, peach, apple fruit but it still huffs and puffs to get to the finish line. Decent wine, holding together but probably for now much more. 87 points

Gimenez Riili
Mendoza, Argentina
Valle de Uco
Joyas de Familia Grand Blend
Blend
2012
$66.99
14.0%
While the liquid is perfectly clean and spotless, the core is an opaque black, the rims more crimson to brick red. The nose betrays a great deal of oak, smoky, cedary with toffee, butterscotch notes, ripe if firm cherry to red currant fruit scents, mint with some pine grove breeze accents, smells expensive and unevolved. Medium-bodied, noticeably smooth from the first sip, glides through the mouth. Hints of grapefruit and garden herbs brighten the mouth entry whereas tar, leather anchors it more firmly. Sweetly concentrated plum, cherry, cassis fruit last well into the finish, where the most longlasting flavors remain the butterscotch and buttered toast. Too young to fully judge, especially with the dominance of the oak. But clearly made with intelligence and thought. 45% Malbec, 25% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot. 89 points

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Sent to Their Grave in February 2017

Baumard, Domaine des
Loire, France
Quarts de Chaume
Chenin Blanc
1995
$22.49
13.5%
Full-on amber color, as close to brown as to brighter orange, losing its yellowish tinge at the rims. Caramelized brown sugar, molasses, candied orange peel and potpourri lift the nose, apricot paste, dried pineapple, a little woolly, for all of this surprisingly pure for its age. Full-bodied, spicy and citrusy with orange, grapefruit to even lemon accents. Then ginger and cola bean. Continues to deliver oodles of sweetness, dripping in residual sugar. That said, the nectarine, pineapple, guava to apple fruit comes with nice sourness to dance with the sugar. The acidity makes a good showing and has moderate pep. More relaxed now than in its youth, while it has lost some brute momentum has power to spare. 375 ml bottle. 90 points

Carmarans, Nicolas
Southwest France, France
Aveyron
Maximus
Fer Servadou
2013
$29.99
11.0%
Cloudy purple core, turns to a ruby hue at the rims, too dark to glow. In the nose its initial reductiveness blows off with time, herbaceous, at times notes of bell pepper, no lack of poor dirt, minerals, animal fur, sour cherry to blackberry fruit scents, a bit volatile overall. Medium-bodied, kind of scratchy texture at first, almost bubbly but not flawed. Animal fur, leather, brown dirt, sour orange pulp. Has a metallic quality to it, herbaceous bite as well and tannic, especially at the end. At times there’s a honeyed aspect which softens things and breathes more life into the tart blackberry, boysenberry, cherry fruit. Really needs time to open and more satisfying when allowed to do so. 88 points

Clape, Auguste
Rhône, France
Cornas
Cuvée Renaissance
Syrah
2009
$79.99
14.0%
Good clarity to the red-purple core, brighter crimson rims, has that burning ember look. Strives for a high-toned approach in the nose, has red cherry, blackberry fruit of moderate stature, lots of purity and no funk, clean leather and beef jerky, not especially captivating but consistent. Medium-bodied, close to lighter than heavier, the acidity puts a charge into it from the start. Again, it’s so clean that there’s few challenges to the same cherry, blackberry fruit. Notable uptick in the stoniness and earthiness. Tastes so young even at what should be an approaching of middle age. Gives no clue as to where it’s going. 88 points

Gramercy Cellars
Walla Walla Valley, Washington
Syrah
2010
$49.99
13.9%
Matured purple core, cloudily opaque, the rims are a burnt sunset red to orange, there it looks even more advanced. The nose is mute, very little to discern, basic black fruits, stone, some vanilla powder and toast, that’s it. Medium-bodied, dusty tannins, stony and leathery with a beef jerky aspect. The blueberry, boysenberry, raspberry fruit is tart and puckering. Displays some caramel, toffee edges but doesn’t seem too oaky. Floral with sour oranges, it could be prettier if not marred by an alcoholic burn, this in spite of its relatively low ABV. Smokier towards the finish, not showing much length. 87 points

Trimbach
Alsace, France
Hommage à Jeanne
Pinot Gris
2000
$23.99
13.0%
Deeper amber influence in the yellow-orange color but actually not that older looking, full rims, overall neither dull nor shiny. Clear smokiness in the nose with tea leaf, tar, the white grapefruit notes seem faded, moderate apricot paste, nectarine, pineapple scents, ends tightly and likely has lost some of its initial richness. Medium-bodied, surprising tautness and erect posture, has nice acidity but mostly its the density that gets things done. Vanilla, honey, orange marmalade, tea leaf and ginger create a pleasing array of background flavors. The star fruit, persimmon, peach, pineapple heads toward sugary then veers to sour. The traction on the tongue lasts longer than the flavors, more blunt pressure than angularity. 89 points

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Sent to Their Grave in January 2017

Clos du Val
Napa Valley, California
Cabernet Sauvignon
2013
$37.99
14.1%
While dark, there’s a healthy glow to the purple core, the rims shift between brighter crimson and darker brick red hues, clear throughout. Cedar and pine infused nose, spices and potpourri, its burnt smokiness restricts easy flow in the plum, cassis fruit scents. Full-bodied, sweeter in the mouth with juicy plum, cherry, blackberry fruit, vanilla and caramel tones. That cedar and potpourri persists fully and there’s wet tobacco leaf notes as well. While it hits most of the standard Cabernet Sauvignon notes it seems foursquare and texturally it gets grainy and gummed up through the finish, even if not seemingly tannic. Leaves you suspecting 3-4 years of bottle time would help, fruit should certainly last that long with ease. 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 1% Petite Sirah. 88 points

Pinot Project, The
Regional Blend
California
Pinot Noir
2014
$9.99
13.5%
Dark purple to garnet red in color, fresh brick red rims, average plus clarity. The nose is fat and heavy, muskily perfumed blackberry, cherry scents and caramel, butterscotch, very lift or sense of movement. Full-bodied, there’s a lot of initial burn when first opened and this subsides some with air time. No acidity and here the butterscotch sweetness matched by a roasted coffee bitterness. Sugary sweet plum, cherry, dark berry fruit, again minimal finesse. Clumpy finish. Hey, look, if you want a super-fruity wine it’s not all bad. But if you are expecting a “Pinot like” experience you may wonder what the hell is in your glass. Grapes sourced from Sonoma County, Monterey, and Central Coast vineyards. 86 points

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