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Older Wines Recently Swilled

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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 July 2018

Copain
Monterey County, California
Chalone
Brosseau Vineyard
Syrah
2010
$23.99
13.0%
Lowkey glow to the impenetrable purple black core, good width to the saturated crimson rims, looks vigorously middle aged. Still a good bit of coconut oil and molasses to the nose, the violets led florality can’t quite get it to lift and neither can the camphor, menthol notes, the fruit scents taut and mainly white grape, cherry, red currant and peach, sort of all over the place. Medium-bodied, sour and puckering from the start even though texturally it seems more tannic than acidic. Sour lemon and violets lead the way, moment of dried grill fat then not much. The cherry, currant, blackberry fruit improves with air time but never really blossoms. After awhile you realize its leanness is its ultimate strength and it’s best utilized with fatty food or thicker gravies. 88 points

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Sent to Their Grave in June 2018

Carbonnieux, Château
Bordeaux, France
Pessac-Léognan
Blend
1995
$26.99
12.5%
Dusky, filmy purple core, fully matured, the rims segue from red to orange to yellow, however, does not look all that aged per se. High-toned nose of cedar, sandalwood, damp leather, tobacco leaf, molasses and grill smoke, perfumed currant, cherry, blackberry fruit scents, great length and doing an impressive job of retaining fruit while allowing the developed tertiary elements to shine. Medium-bodied, loaded with cedar, tobacco, tea leaf, orange spice, menthol, iron flecks and damp black earth. Great sourness and bite without impeding the flow of the tart raspberry, boysenberry, blackberry fruit. Crazy leathery mid-palate. Really at its peak, the fruit still there and bursting with developed flavors. Unspecified percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot. 92

Karl Lawrence
Napa Valley, California
Cabernet Sauvignon
2001
$40.00
14.2%
Opaque black-purple core with vivid rust to sunset reds and oranges further out, while clearly aged still visually engaging. Sweet cedar, maduro cigar wrapper, eucalyptus appear first in the nose swiftly followed on by pungent grill smoke and beef jerky notes, a little lingering florality deepens the otherwise moderate cherry, cassis fruit scents. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied with resolved tannin that has left behind a gritty sand-like texture. Prominent smokiness here as well, the cedar, leather, tar notes swept up in the savoriness. The plum, currant, cherry fruit shows more oomph and gets to the finish without problem. Drinking very nicely, hard to imagine there’s much ahead except inevitable decline. 76% Morisoli Vineyard, 16% Herb Lamb Vineyard, 8% Beckstoffer-To Kalon Vineyard. 89 points

Magrez, Bernard
Priorat, Spain
Herència del Padrí
Blend
2004
$17.99
14.5%
The purple core seems a bit faded, this accentuated by the brick red rims and noticeable yellow outer aura. The nose is a bit funky, barnyard mud, merde, wet leather and tar then coconut oil, toffee and ripe plum, blackberry, blueberry fruit scents, normalizes some with extra air time. Medium-bodied, still displaying some tannic sinew, however, the sugary ripeness of that dark berry, cherry to plum fruit carries the day. This especially so in light of the heavy floral musk and the caramel, butterscotch flavors. At times appears a bit mentholated as well, not without some airy lift. No funk as found in the nose. The more you sip it the more you wonder if it needed more time. Today it’s a classy fruit bomb that knows to avoid sloppiness. 55% Cariñena, 21% Garnacha, 15% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon. 89 points

Filliatreau, Domaine Paul et Frédrick
Loire, France
Saumur-Champigny
La Grande Vignolle
Cabernet Franc
2009
$23.99
12.5%
Ruby-purple core, clean but not quite transparent until it gets to the more scarlet rims, has a semi-saturated glow, just without the darkness. While there’s a good dose of leather, cedar and damp black earth to the nose, what holds your attention is the youthfully ripe mixed berry fruit scents, no real citrus presence while the bell pepper adds snap and bite. Medium-bodied, low level of tannin adds to the general softness created by all that cherry, raspberry, blueberry juiciness. Here the white grapefruit equals the bell pepper, granted neither close to dominant. Stony and close to smoky with cedar, incense accents. Ends with a broadening potpourri like florality. Drinking quite well and arguably has some upside left. 90 points

Zidarich, Azienda Agricola
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Venezia Giulia
Zidarich Green Label
Vitovska
2014
$29.99
12.0%
Old gold to lightly bronzed color, at times looks like apple juice, flat surface but the unusual hue holds your gaze, moderate loss at the rims. Yeasty, doughy nose with lemonade, lilac and honey accents, as it warms there’s an oily, rubbery component, nothing complex about the peach, apricot, pear scents, overall on the sluggish side. Full-bodied, okay acidity, feels more tannic. Orange peel, some lemon, wet stone and then spent yeast, lees notes. Its dullness in the mouth does not help the meager apple, peach, pear fruit gain momentum or juiciness. Here too there’s a tar to oil slick element which distracts. You might say it’s a wine meant to be consumed young but it does not express that, quite the opposite. So, maybe this is in a dumb or shutdown phase. 86 points

Loring Wine Company
Monterey County, California
Santa Lucia Highlands
Garys’ Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2015
$39.99
14.3%
Clear scarlet to violet hued core, slightly washed out ruby to rust red rims, one could argue it looks more advanced than its age. While there’s ripe rhubarb, strawberry, raspberry fruit in the nose, there’s an equal amount of pickle brine, ferrous minerality and savory garden herbs, good tautness and pushes ahead without turning uncouth. Medium-bodied and could count as lighter were it not for the savage acidity swirling about and not allowing a moment’s relaxation. More of that briny and pickled aspect, hard to imagine more pucker. The sourness extends through the strawberry, raspberry, blueberry fruit and mixed white citrus. While its relentless aggressiveness is tiresome it is also the main source of its charm. If you are a fan of the genre, it’s like watching a slasher flick play inside your mouth. (Screwcap) 87 points

Partridge, Richard
Napa Valley, California
Cabernet Sauvignon
2010
$37.99
14.9%
Inky black core, fully impenetrable, the rims look fully matured, all brick red, burnt orange and almost yellow. Noticeably thick and musky nose of plum/prune fruit, menthol, molasses and butterscotch, potpourri, for a close to complete absence of lift there’s credible forward momentum, like an army charging through your nostrils. Full-bodied and then some, strong dried fruit character to it with prune, fig and black raisin as prominent as any plum, cassis, cherry flavors. Gobs of milk chocolate, molasses, creamed coffee and caramel, the oak all soft and sweet, no toast. If there’s any tannin, it’s in hiding, does finish somewhat drier. It’s a “hedonistic” Napa Cabernet and taken as such it’s well made and pretty gosh darn good. 89 points

Clos Signadore (Christophe Ferrandis)
Corsica, France
Patrimonio
A Mandria di Signadore
Niellucciu
2014
$23.99
14.0%
Not quite filmy, more gauzy, purple core with youthfully brick red to scarlet rims, sleek surface, lively glass presence. The nose is oddly inert and ungiving, not like “coiled up” but more like naturally mute, a touch of rubber or peanut shells without seeming reductive per se, immobile cherry, plum fruit scents, allspice, clayish earth, matted meadow grass and wildflowers, just no lift at all. Full-bodied, supported by a broad tannic skeleton but here you get a sense of release and if not souplesse at least movement. Nice tart tang in the cherry, blackberry, raspberry fruit, lighter on its feet. The additional citric bite quite welcome as well. Stony but not earthy, nothing “loose.” Trace of grassy bitterness at the finish. The description does not sound all that enticing, however, the wine grows on you in a way you don’t feel like resisting. 89 points

Kobal Family Winery
Littoral, Slovenia
Posavje
Blaufränkisch
2015
$17.99
12.0%
Bright ruby to cranberry red, bright and shiny with vivid rims, attractive wine. Sappy nose of sour red cherry, raspberry to boysenberry fruit, thick floral musk, stiffens some through a streak of grassiness, dry earthiness, then sweet tea leaf and maduro cigar wrapper, good directness and pacing. Medium-bodied, spicy with ginger, cumin notes, fills out up towards the roof of the mouth but hard to see where the texture was impacted by 16 months aging on the lees. Same basic tart cherry, cranberry, raspberry fruit, more red than black fruits. Here more leathery with white grapefruit, not as spicy. Good tannin, better acidity. More angular, stony finish, too much fruit to turn dusty. With plenty of energy in reserve stays balanced and on point. 90 points

Cal Pla, Celler
Priorat, Spain
Mas d’En Compte
Blend
2007
$24.99
14.0%
The purple core on the whole remains dark if lightened some by sunset reds and oranges, certainly the rims a heavy rust red, fine cleanliness. Smoky, stony nose with meadow grasses and flowers, a mentholated lift and damp leather, mixed berry fruit, more rugged than pretty, light dash of mixed citrus, the smokiness is hard to top. Full-bodied and feels like to tannins have some time to go before fully relaxing. Spiced oranges, licorice, sage and parsley notes, in the end more earthy, minerally than grassy. The fruit juicy and sour, more red currant, cherry to blueberry. The smoke has receded whereas the leather takes on a touch of animal fur. An attractively sauvage profile which may not be for everyone. 50% Garnacha, 45% Cariñena, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 90 points

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Sent to Their Grave in May 2018

Bouchard Père & Fils
Burgundy, France
Beaune
Beaune du Château
Chardonnay
2008
$32.99
13.0%
Bright and shiny green flecked yellow hay color, noticeably clean, transparent and pretty. The nose presents an airy lift of lime zest, mint, chalk to wet limestone, the wonderful perfume fleshed out by pear, yellow apple, apricot fruit, not all that complex but plenty satisfying. Medium-bodied, good borderline silkiness, lemon curd, lime zest, pulverized stone, nice sparkle to it. Lean without seeming desiccated, stays focused with help from the good plus level acidity. The pineapple, nectarine, peach to green apple fruit contribute to its erect posture then releases into a more creamy profile at the finish. Not sure it is imbued with much tertiary development but pleasing enough it’s not a big deal. 89 points

Mission-Haut-Brion, Château La
Bordeaux, France
Pessac-Léognan
La Chapelle de La Mission-Haut-Brion
Blend
2008
$69.99
13.5%
Dark and glowing purple core, clear crimson rims, visually full of youthful vigor. Surprisingly oaky nose filled with creamy vanilla and butterscotch, gives you lively raspberry, red cherry to blueberry scents, collected with no hair out of place. Medium-bodied, lots of volume so it layers well on the palate. Mint, rosemary, sage to pressed flowers and pebbles. Once you get past the immediate flesh the bones start to show. Roasted coffee finish, highly acidic and streamlined to the end. Structurally it seems young, not sure what will be left once the oak is gone. Unspecified percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc. 88 points

Scavino, Paolo
Piedmont, Italy
Barolo
Bric dël Fiasc
Nebbiolo
1998
$125.99
14.5%
Light filminess to the opaque purple core, the rims mostly magenta with some deeper crimson shading. High-toned nose, straw, earth, old potpourri, menthol and witch hazel, sour cherry to raspberry fruit scents, even with the generally red fruit profile includes an element of prune, good breadth and wiry muscularity. Medium-bodied, strong tannic skeleton holds it firmly together from start to finish. Black licorice, rose petals, orange peel, and leather, produces all the expected flavors in a compact “no muss, no fuss” package. As it opens you receive more tar and black earth. The fruit does a good job of pushing through to the finish. 90 points

Anderson’s Conn Valley
Napa Valley, California
Estate Reserve
Cabernet Sauvignon
2008
15.3%
Fully opaque purple core with brighter red magenta rims, possesses a warm glow throughout. Nice bracing quality to the nose with cranberry, red cherry, raspberry fruit scents, floral dew, orange reduction, mint and oaky roasted coffee notes, sinewy nostril penetration. Medium-bodied, hits you with a tannic brick right away before releasing into sour rhubarb, raspberry, red cherry flavors, the structure does not detract from the fruit’s richness. Orange zest met by caramel, toffee element, percolates with a high level of activity. Not sure what’s ahead of it in terms of distinct tertiary development but tastes real good today. 90 points

Rudd Estate
Napa Valley, California
Oakville
Estate
Cabernet Sauvignon
2008
$149.99
14.9%
Very dark purple core, opaque with heavyset ruby to magenta rims, looks well saturated. Coconut oil, milk chocolate, mint and then overripe cherry compote and plum scents, just gets bigger and bigger as it sits in your nostrils, velvety musky perfume. Full-bodied, well-layered with surprisingly solid acidity yet no discernible tannin. Caramel, butterscotch, toasted coconut and menthol sweetens it while generally remaining on the bitter side, short as a result. Spearmint sprig garnishes the cassis, blackberry, plum fruit. Dense and chewy, no real flow to it. 87 points

Borgogno & Figli, Giacomo
Piedmont, Italy
Barolo
Storico
Nebbiolo
1998
$59.99
13.5%
Dark purple core, opaque with red magenta rims. The nose is all peanut shells, merde, mud and medicinal, comes across as a bit maderized but not sure this bottle was heat damaged per se, offers plum to roasted cherry scents. Medium to full-bodied, feels flat and somewhat lifeless, no oomph from the vintage’s once formidable tannin. Some lemon peel with prune, date to plum fruit. Sizable alcoholic bite and runs hot. Wasn’t enough there to continue to parse it out, so that’s all she wrote. 86 points

Aubert
Sonoma County, California
Sonoma Coast
Reuling Vineyard
Chardonnay
2008
$80.00
15.6%
Cloudy worn gold color, relaxed with just no visual life to it. Good focus to the toasty nose, smoky and buttered, butterscotch, lime juice, rose water, pear to peach fruit, very penetrating, no diversity of aromas but has energy in excess. Full-bodied, shows some bitter, underripe notes with just okay acidity. The butterscotch and caramel fueled oak aspect dominates the pear, melon, apricot to yellow apple fruit. Hot finish, lots of burn as the fruit trails off at the end. Really, it’s probably what it should be and if you likes you some oak it could be a “wow” wine. 87 points

Knoll, Weingut Emmerich
Wachau, Austria
Loibner
Ried Loibenberg
Smaragd
Grüner Veltliner
2012
$46.99
14.0%
Deepening gold color without giving up too much youthfulness, looks flat if layered, the hue holds well into the rims. Fat nose of peach, cherry, apricot fruit dappled in honey, molasses and powdered sugar, the citrus comes across as orange sherbet while youthfully fleshy oddly lacking in any herbaceous snap. Full-bodied, lots of jiggle and close to no perceptible acidity. Starts off with accents of white grapefruit and orange and thankfully here you do get some damp herbaceousness and snap pea. By the same token caramelized brown sugar sweetens the apricot, cantaloupe, peach to nectarine fruit further, round and smooth. Long finish. Doubt this makes old bones but delicious now. 89 points

Demets, Marie
Champagne, France
Brut
Blend
2010
$29.99
12.0%
Pale yellow gold to straw color yet bright with acceptable shine. Aggressive pétillance gets more spread out than forming tight beads. Sweet orange to lime citrus in the nose, hint of vanilla and just a touch of stone, well fruited with green apple, peach, apricot scents and pleasing overall richness. Medium-bodied, somewhat soft if moderately dry. The fizz is steady but not really scrubbing. Brightly sour tangerine, lime, lemon citrus. Not really yeasty. Displays elevating stoniness by the end. Persistent apricot, peach, pear fruit without coming close to dominance. Very nice middle of the road quaffer. Approximately 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. 89 points

Nalle
Dry Creek Valley, California
Zinfandel
2001
$23.99
13.5%
Lots of sediment adhered to the bottle shoulder. Barest vestige of purple remaining in the core, from there on out it’s a segue of brown, red, and orange, on the whole clean and does not appear washed out. Matured nose of maraschino cherries, campfire smoke, leather, dark chocolate and meadow scrub, even having lost weight along the aging curve does not display alcoholic heat and the level of fruit in the overall mix way above acceptable. Medium-bodied and heading towards light, there’s more focus than concentration. The acidity can be turbulent at times. More orange to lemon citrus here and the leathery, loamy aspect elevates decisively. Mainly cherry, raspberry fruit with a touch of golden raisin. Additional air time does not change it much. Passing peak, likely best 3-5 years ago but no slouch today. 89 points

Mouton Rothschild, Château
Bordeaux, France
Pauillac
Blend
1967
$229.99
12.5%
Just the tiniest hint of purple left in the core, on the whole it’s a segue from brown to sunset red to orange and then yellow, quite clear (bottle stood up for some days). Smoky nose, saddle leather, loam, roasted cherry fruit, overall medicinal and tarry although with extended air time it calms down and becomes less turbulent. Medium-bodied and just that, has shed a considerable amount of weight and as a result the acidity can seem screechy. Tobacco leaf, cedar, saddle soap, spied orange peel and something menthol like, develops more nuances as it opens. The cherry, blackberry fruit all but gone so it’s now the quintessential “aged claret.” Probably on its last legs, maybe an impeccably stored bottle would have more flesh left. 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc. 87 points

Laurens, Domaine
Southwest France, France
Marcillac
Cuvée de l’Écir
Fer Servadou
2005
$17.99
13.0%
There’s a warm hum to reddish purple core, not fully opaque, wide rust red to brick red hued rims, squeaky clean and does not look its age at all. Leathery nose, damp minerally earth, wet animal fur, black tea leaf, no funkiness and easily fashions an expansive perfume, momentary notes of bell pepper, close to rugged currant, dark berry fruit scents, if given a little air time it all weaves together well. Full-bodied and plush even as the tannin remains active and gives you a steady and firm handshake. Puckeringly sour plum, cherry fruit yet so richly layered that it lasts fully through the finish with nary a bead of sweat. More leather, grill fat, and tree bark, twigs, the meadow grassiness elevates through the finish. Grapefruit zest and iron flecks perk up the end. Not sure it has developed significant tertiary elements but for its age tastes real good. 90 points

Copain
Mendocino County, California
Yorkville Highlands
Hawks Butte
Syrah
2012
$25.99
13.1%
The purple core allows for noticeably wide scarlet to brick red rims, clear if a bit dull. Subtle salt, saline edge to the nose, pairs easily with the stone, twig, earth elements, dried white grapefruit pulp, Earl Grey tea bags, marked mostly by the all but complete lack of fruit scents, not an easy trick to pull off. Medium-bodied, admirable framing acidity keeps it taut and well-paced. More white grapefruit to lemon citrus, pulverized white stones and pebbles, has some beef blood and iodine but no resonant gamey qualities. Swell in the mid-palate of rhubarb, strawberry, red cherry fruit but fleeting. More leathery finish with a bitter profile which suggests some phenolic underripeness. Tightens up through the finish. Needs more fruit, hard to imagine it’s faded by now so maybe was not there at the start. 87 points

Elyse
Mendocino County, California
Eaglepoint Ranch
Zinfandel
2004
$18.99
15.2%
Dense blackish purple core completely opaque, encircled by thin orange to red rust rims. The nose comprised of coffee grinds, grill smoke and charred cedar, then damp earth and a smattering of plum, dark berry fruit scents, only an echo of florality left. Full-bodied and here in the mouth it remains close to the height of its power. Loaded with plum/prune, blackberry, blueberry fruit, sweet and unctuous. Higher level of menthol, lilacs and mint. The oak char is lower and blends in sweetening butterscotch, milk chocolate notes. By the finish has shed some of the fruit’s richness allowing the alcohol to show. One of those “cut it with a steak knife” Zinfandels that was probably best in its most exuberant youth but is by no stretch bad now. 89 points

Desvignes, Louis et Claude
Beaujolais, France
Morgon
Côte du Py
Gamay Noir
2002
$15.49
13.0%
As much sunset red as purple in the core, lightly filmy, the rims a fiery blend of red, orange and yellow, not lacking in vigor. Earthy nose, leather and mushroom, musky potpourri, densely packed strawberry, raspberry to red cherry scents, presents a regally powerful profile with impressive staying power. Full-bodied, achieves momentum in the palate right off. Retains sufficient tannin and acidity to fuel that marching pace. Violets and lilacs, molasses and candied orange peel. Resonantly ripe strawberry, blueberry, raspberry fruit loses no thrust from start to finish. The stony, earthy aspect holds off to the end, anchoring the finish. Has lost the clarity of its youth but has woven into a complete fabric, joyful drop. 91 points

Breton, Catherine et Pierre
Loire, France
Bourgueil
Les Perrières
Cabernet Franc
2010
$94.99
12.5%
The silt darkens the purple core, opaque like a brackish pond, the rims a fiery crimson red, middle aged as it is. Very fleshy and fruity nose of plum, blackberry, black cherry fruit, drowns the bell pepper which is turn is no slouch, licorice, sweet garden herbs, cigar leaf, very agreeable overall. Full-bodied, sweet and sticky, if there was much tannin to start with it has been fully resolved now. Big floral perfume with broad sweeping orange to grapefruit citrus. Lighter brush of cocoa and mocha before pleasingly turning leathery with a leafy side and the obligatory bell pepper. As in the nose the plum verges on prune and surmaturité, slightly brighter blueberry, blackberry flavors, acidity perks up the finish. Drinking well now, don’t see any reason to push it further. 1.5 liter bottle. 89 points

Karl Lawrence
Napa Valley, California
Aldin Red Table Wine
Blend
2002
$29.00
No alcohol percentage noted
Deep purple in color even today, opaque core, thin red magenta rims. Even with generous amounts of cedar, sandalwood and damp earth very little here speaks of a wine its age, vanilla fudge, cocoa, caramel, fresh boysenberry, cassis to plum fruit scents. Full-bodied, creamy mouth feel, nonexistent tannins, can feel acidic but probably not technically that acidic. More milk chocolate and butterscotch with gingerbread and violets in reserve. There’s a green apple edge to the raspberry, blackberry, black cherry fruit. Creates a big inner mouth perfume before finally finishing. 59% Cabernet Sauvignon (Morisoli Vineyard, Herb Lamb Vineyard, Beckstoffer-To Kalon Vineyard), 25% Merlot (Boeschen Vineyard), 16% Cabernet Franc (Beckstoffer-To Kalon Vineyard). 89 points

Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards
South Australia, Australia
McLaren Vale
Shiraz
2001
$23.99
14.5%
Time has dulled the purple in the core allowing for more crimson and brick red hues, the rims brighter with a metallic red to orange cast. When first opened the nose all but completely creamy oak scents, slowly turns to grilled meat fat, black tea leaf and eucalyptus, still a decent amount of plum, cassis fruit but by the same token appears to have faded some, hard to say the years have blessed it with any tertiary development. Medium-bodied, leads with creamy oak of vanilla, butterscotch and molasses. Acidity level is okay but no tannic presence. Diminished blackberry, boysenberry, cherry fruit but you can tell it was a fruit bomb in its youth. Spiced orange, eucalyptus and violets round it out. Was probably at its best 5-7 years ago. Drinks nicely but not likely to ever offer much tertiary development. 88 points

Loring Wine Company
Monterey County, California
Santa Lucia Highlands
Rosella’s Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2015
$46.99
14.3%
Vividly glowing purple core, not quite opaque, surrounded by bright magenta rims. The nose filled with molasses, honey glaze, ginger root and pressed flowers, tends to careen from darker plum to lighter strawberry, rhubarb fruit scents, overall more spicy than earthy, great length. Full-bodied, very sour attack with acidity that runs wild. The odd rubber notes thankfully subsumed in the blueberry, boysenberry, strawberry jam. The spiciness continues with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon. Tart orange citrus. Here the molasses evokes baked ham. Vigorous with a surfeit of energy, less so direction. (Screwcap) 89 points

Centorame, Azienda Agricola
Abruzzi, Italy
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane
Castellum Vetus
Montepulciano
2013
$24.99
14.0%
Brooding purple core, immaculately clean if impenetrable, the broad rims all burnt sunset red and orange. Slight funk to the nose with a whisper of peanut shells, densely packed plum, black cherry scents, twigs, bark and tar, charred beef fat, not a lot of movement in the nostrils, however, you can immediately sense its muscular presence. Full-bodied, fiercely tannic and even more muscular here, flexes without even trying. Bitter white grapefruit, tar, tobacco leaf and black earth knock you back on your heels. There’s no doubt that the plum, cherry, black currant fruit is fully ripened yet it struggles against the tannic binds. Leathery finish with a dash of volcanic ash. Leaves you thinking the cork was pulled way too early. 89 points

Masson et Fils, Domaine Jean
Savoie, France
Apremont
Cuvée Nano Vieilles Vignes
Jacquère
2011
$17.99
12.0%
Quite matured bronzed orange color, layered and dull, trails off at the rims, looks older than it is. There’s a nod towards wet stone and minerals but basically the nose is through and through apricot paste, floral dew, mint and honey, brioche, matured and concentrated, for all of its oddness it shows vigor and length. Full-bodied, gets momentum going early and plays off of that. Not much acidity and it tends towards an unexpected level of sweetness. Again, apricot paste, dried pineapple and papaya, the fruit comes with a bitter tinge and it has the consistency of apricot juice. Pulped blood oranges, black tea leaf, has a yeasty side which comes and goes. Not at all sure what to make of this, one likely does not taste many aged Jacquère wines. However, this seems like one intended to age some. (Synthetic Cork: Nomacorc Select 300) 87 points

Davis Family Vineyards
Russian River Valley, California
Throne
Blend
2014
$19.99
14.1%
Scarlet tinged purple core, falls short of opacity, fresh blood red rims, spotless and clean. The nose comprised of earth, campfire wood smoke and meadow scrub and grasses, moves on to menthol, pulped oranges, caraway seeds and sage, the uncomplicated cherry, blackberry fruit tends to get lost in the shuffle. Medium-bodied with nice fluidity, doesn’t hiccup often. Some tannin now and then, minimal acidity. Still, stays dry in a pleasingly adult fashion. Leans towards reddish strawberry, raspberry, cherry fruit, some pressed flowers and straw/hay, grassy but in no way green. The oak is mildly toasty but not sweet, already seems to be knitting in. In a good place, hard to believe there will ever be noteworthy tertiary development. 53% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 12% Mourvèdre. 88 points

Copain
Mendocino County, California
Yorkville Highlands
Halcon Vineyard
Syrah
2010
$28.99
12.6%
Murky purple core of full opacity, getting close to black, thin rims of crimson to fresh blood red, somber looking. Sauvage nose of leather, damp matted grasses, sous bois, and old potpourri, for all of that it would be hard to call it funky, the cherry, plum fruit scents lack length and staying power. Medium-bodied and feels like it has lost weight and heft. The acidity is good plus yet not an active conductor of the orchestra. More violets and dried out olive pits here, likewise yesterday’s pulped white grapefruits. Twigs, bark, leather and grill smoke but minimal pungency. The plum, black currant to cranberry fruit drying out. Actively fading and past peak without necessarily crossing the finish line. 88 points

Loring Wine Company
Santa Rita Hills, California
Clos Pepe Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2015
$46.99
14.3%
Crimson stained purple core, dark but generally clear, bright sunset red rims. Coriander, cumin and cola bean in the nose, borderline smoky, while dense overall the alcoholic fumes able to pierce consistently, cranberry, rhubarb, sour cherry fruit scents, ripe without seeming sugary. Full-bodied, the acidity comes across as quite strong but does not match up with the densely layered textural feel. As in the nose the fruit noticeably sour, blueberry, strawberry, cranberry to cherry. Cola, ginger stick, clove spice. Generalized white citrus, piles on more sourness. No real creaminess but the density allows it to soak into the palate. The florality shows most at the finish after the spices and fruit start to recede. Lots of flavor and palate presence. 88 points

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Sent to Their Grave in April 2018

Ar.Pe.Pe, Societa’ Agricola
Lombardy, Italy
Valtellina Superiore Grumello
Riserva Buon Consiglio
Nebbiolo
2001
$47.99
13.0%
Spotless blood red to orange rust in color with yellow rims, pleasingly sleek surface. The nose oozes tar, graphite, animal sweat, charred wood and pine forest floor matter, concentrated maraschino cherry to raspberry jam scents, has that good kind of funkiness and the lift shows staying power. Medium-bodied, lighter touch than expected. The tannin mostly resolved but the acidity still throbs. Twiggy, leafy with consistent tarry earthiness, creates a black smoke mouth perfume. The puckering cherry, raspberry to strawberry fruit pushed further by sour white grapefruit accents. In the end the leafiness wins out over the fruit. 89 points

Vincent Wine Company
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Tardive
Pinot Blanc
2015
$20.00
12.2%
Displays a slight fizz as it pours, cloudy with a white straw hue, block-like to a great extent. Big tangerine and orange blossom infused nose adroitly supported by green apple, apricot, pear fruit then garden herbs and wet stone, so pretty, fresh and open. Medium-bodied, leesy without giving up undue freshness, has an attractive acidic spine. It’s quite citrusy with a confectionary quality to the lime and lemon flavors. The doughiness weaves in and out. The pear, yellow apple, peach fruit is of a certain delicacy. In turn the chalk, slate notes of moderate scale. Smooth finish, good length. 90 points

Sadie Family Wine, The
Olifants River, South Africa
Kokerboom Old Vine Series
Sémillon
2014
$54.99
13.5%
Somewhat flat golden color but it reaches into the rims decently enough. The nose bursts with floral mist, heavy lime zest and some vanilla cream topped by a sprig of mint, genially straightforward pear, yellow apple, apricot fruit scents, its fullness builds as it warms. Medium-bodied and steady throughout, the acidity nudges it forward from start to finish. Floral here as well with sweet garden herbs, whipped cream, buttery at times. Juicily sour lime, tangerine citrus. The peach, nectarine, pineapple to persimmon fruit full-throated and lively. Not overwrought nor overoaked. 89 points

Pommery
Champagne, France
Cuvée Louise Brut
Blend
2004
$99.99
12.5%
The initial foam dissipates swiftly, not much of a mousse, somewhat dull yellow straw color, nothing visually unusual. Delicate floral nose, steady and silky musk with lemon curd, licorice, dried honey, freshly picked peach, apricot, pear scents, tactful. Light to medium-bodied with an insistent fizz which gets big and foamy in a fun but in no way clumsy manner. Reserved lemon, lime to tangerine citrus accompanied by well matched mint, anise, and savory herbs. Good richness to the apple, pear, persimmon fruit without sacrificing linearity. If its rambunctiousness settles down the underlying finer bones should come to the surface. 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir. 89 points

Pépière, Domaine de la
Loire, France
Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie
Clos des Briords
Cuvée Vieilles Vignes
Melon de Bourgogne
2001
$9.49
12.0%
Has darkened to a brownish yellow, not amber, dilute rims but the surface shine is still good. Presents a doughy, yeasty nose, orange peel, wet chalk, lanolin, whisper of apricot to peach fruit, clearly aged but not that shot. Full-bodied, acidic and firm, needs time to open completely. Stays floral with lemon to orange peel notes. Earthy, gives you more chalk or wet stone than minerals. Lots of yeast that gets balanced out by ginger peel, honey and sour tangerine to blood orange citrus. The pear, peach, apricot fruit comes with a touch of cherry. Broad shouldered and not that fine, you’ll get more power than finesse. 89 points

Müller-Catoir, Weingut
Pfalz, Germany
Gimmeldinger
Schlössel
Beerenauslese AP #16
Rieslaner
2001
$94.99
9.5%
Only slightly deeper gold, stays consistent core to rims, would not peg it as a wine this age. For all of its honey, brown sugar tangerine reduction, vanilla custard scents, it zips around very well and the floral dew and dried fruit apricot, peach to pineapple scents never heavy. Full-bodied, active and vibrant, the acidity level is excellent and matched well to the primary material. The pineapple, nectarine, papaya, apricot fruit wide-eyed and electric. Fluid pink grapefruit to lime reduction. There’s something close to menthol which adds lift to the floral musk. Hard to imagine this getting any better than it is today. 375 ml bottle. 92 points

Zind Humbrecht, Léonard
Alsace, France
Goldert
Vendange Tardive
Gewürztraminer
1985
$79.99
14.0%
Bright golden color with a youthful sparkle, the color slowly deepening, surface shines well. Outrageously huge floral musk in the nose, spiced oranges, litchee, honey, too fresh to have developed much, lightly poached quality to the apricot, peach, pear scents, no real concentrated sugars left, attractively expansive. Medium-bodied, has shed a lot of weight and in the process gained fluidity. Litchee nut to more blanched nuts, earthy at turns. Has some acidity but not enough to really play up the grapefruit, tangerine citrus. The finish is on the weak side but it is so beautifully floral and honeyed that any flaws just don’t matter. It has fully plateaued if youthful in its own fashion. 90 points

Colombier, Domaine de
Rhône, France
Crozes Hermitage
Marsanne
2015
$26.99
12.5%
Flat surface, layers well into the glass, not deeply hued yet the worn gold reaches fully into the rims. Big, round nostril feel, lemon peel, mint, apricot, dappled pie crust, lilacs and violets led lift, has weight without heaviness and credible scent separation. Medium-bodied and fairly lithe in the mouth, moves with grace and some speed. Well-contoured apple, pear, apricot fruit and a light floral dew on top. The tangerine, lemon citrus perks it up some and minimizes sweetness. While there’s no one element that sticks out taken as a whole it all fits together. 89 points

Magia, Fattoria La
Tuscany, Italy
Brunello di Montalcino
Brunello
1995
$52.99
14.0%
Brownish core, fairly clear, much more orange rust and yellow as it pushes out to the rims. Layers of straw and garden flowers in the nose, while verges on reduced it is not tired or oxidized, more so leaning back in that rocking chair, red cherry, blackberry scents of modest length, has a certain pickled nature to it, loamy earth and musty leather, prune and golden raisin, modicum of baking spices. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied with somewhat weak grip, clumpy and while the tannin is shot you kind of wish the acidity still had more pep. Reduced cherry, raspberry, blackberry fruit of tenuous grip, mildly evanescent due to age. Rosemary, sage and fennel, orange pekoe tea, tries really hard to offer some kind of sweetness. Can’t shake a pickled quality. Past its prime but not by much, echoes of a wine which was certainly competent in its day. 86 points

Mascarello & Figli (Tenuta Rocchetta), M.
Piedmont, Italy
Nebbiolo d’Alba
Nebbiolo
1971
13.0%
Cloudy brown core, brick red to yellow rims, fully aged but not washed out. Sour nose of damp leather, wet mown grasses, merde and mushroom, high-toned without being shrill, spiced plums and maraschino cherry scents, the funk wins out in the end. Medium-bodied, highly acidic, has a good deal of body and able to carry it through to the finish. Sage, marjoram spice, boot leather, barnyard mud and straw, roasted cherry, raspberry fruit, plum reduction, mixed white citrus. It’s obviously an older wine without feeling tired and it keeps kicking to the finish line. No doubting its liveliness even this far out. 700 ml bottle. 90 points

Hudelot-Noëllat, Alain
Burgundy, France
Vosne-Romanée
Les Beaumonts
Pinot Noir
2010
$135.99
13.5%
Clay red to brick red, light orange tint, minimal loss at the rims. Sour blueberry, blackberry, cherry scents, quite heavy for what you’d expect, coffee, orange reduction, wet straw, the lack of lift hurts the length of its expressivity. Heavy and kind of chunky, roasted to extracted cherry, raspberry, blueberry fruit, plenty of power, not so much elegance. Fried lemons and lemongrass, leather. Acidity level is adequate but not shaping, any tannin just clumps it up. Overall has a roasty quality to it which stunts easy flow. Flavor intensity is not an issue but not a genteel wine. 88 points

Billon, Maryline et Christophe
Rhône, France
Condrieu
Les Matisses
Viognier
2014
$39.99
13.5%
Bright gold colored surface, turns a bit dull underneath, lack of intensity keeps it consistent through the rims. Lemony with honeysuckle and orange, tangerine, plenty of stone, doesn’t quite have enough oomph to completely fill the nostrils, pacing is quick. In the mouth it’s light to medium-bodied, openly knit with breezy honeysuckle, orange blossom notes and a touch of honey. Takes on a little more weight with air and gains depth in the apricot, persimmon, apple fruit. Cinnamon, nutmeg spice. Understated and with more emphasis on stone and earth than fruit. Needs food to fill it out. 88 points

Cuilleron, Yves
Rhône, France
Côte-Rôtie
Bassenon
Syrah
1999
$44.99
12.5%
Dark purple with a rust red influence to the core, rust red with a light yellow tint, throws big chunks of sediment even after standing up. Simple plum, currant, black cherry scents, blunt with a rust, iron, mineral edge, finishes with a mildly prunish edge. Full-bodied, acidic, metallic with brown earth, smoky cherry, raspberry, blueberry fruit, smooth without holding interest. More earth and tar, light beef blood, little length. Neither really old world nor new world but likely closer to the latter. 87 points

Scherrer
Russian River Valley, California
Sasha
Syrah
2009
$30.00
14.5%
Strong burnt red influence in the fading purple core, has a sort of fuzzy look to it, the rims youthfully bricking. Wildflowers and plum, cassis fruit most prominent in the nose along with a huge amount of buttered popcorn and toffee, as a wine arguably in middle age not displaying any meaningful tertiary development, all fruit. Full-bodied, just has enough acidity to shave off the fat. Just as oaky here if not more so, caramel coated popcorn, buttered popcorn, vanilla and coconut custard, and mint. Plenty of pretty violets and lilacs. Here starting to develop a light roasted game quality. But in the end the spotlight remains squarely on the blueberry, blackberry, strawberry fruit, albeit seems to have lost of its initial sweetness. 88 points

Jasmin, Domaine Patrick
Rhône, France
Côte-Rôtie
Syrah
1999
$39.99
12.5%
Dark purple core, wide red rust rims, good vigor, does not look like a wine of its age. There’s density to the nose, stony earth, cranberry, sour cherry, blackberry fruit firm and with plenty of thrust, menthol and wildflowers, damp earth, not much lift, grassy and meadow. Medium-bodied, broad shouldered and not in the more feminine style you expect from the house. Full plum, cherry, blackberry fruit, all dark and heavy. Menthol and then garden herbs, tarry earth. Brawny all the way through the finish, almost makes you think it’s not ready yet. Oak residue retronasally. It’s quite enjoyable but at the same time not the wine you thought it would be based on prior experience with the producer. 89 points

Sandri, Elio
Piedmont, Italy
Barolo
Perno
Riserva
Nebbiolo
2010
$109.99
14.5%
Brownish red core, zero purple, red to yellow rims with lower intensity, very good clarity throughout. Candied cherries, licorice, anise and rose petals, nice airy lift but there’s not much underneath, vague intimation of earth or matted straw, there’s a lot of fullness in the nostrils and it hits all the food groups yet it doesn’t coalesce into a choral outburst. Full-bodied, big and brawny tannin that unfortunately lends an astringent bitterness to it. Syrupy, liqueur like raspberry, cherry fruit, nicely pungent inner mouth perfume of leather, sandalwood, pressed rose petals, and tea leaf. There’s not much length in the flavors, things start to disintegrate at the end. It’s really weird as you’d expect more depth in the fruit and more general sustainment at the end. 87 points

Cruchet, Régis
Loire, France
Vouvray
Hauts de Beaumont Moelleux
Chenin Blanc
1996
12.0%
Fully bronzed color, given this it’s quite shiny and clean and sparkles in the glass, solid into the rims. Traces of smoke left in the nose, lots of apple juice, lemon peel and beeswax, needs to warm before you can fully register the peach compote and dried apricot fruit, what it lacks now in intensity of aroma it compensates for with sheer muscularity. In the mouth the acidity retains brawniness and basically carries the show. A quick brush of lactose and dough givens way to honey, lanolin, and smoky minerality. The concentration upfront in the pineapple, green apple, peach and apricot fruit attractive, yet it does putter out some by the finish. Were it not for that acidity it would likely prove sluggish. Nice now but nowhere but down from here. 89 points

Terlano (Kellerai Cantina Terlan), Cantina
Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy
Terlano Classico
Terlaner
Blend
2013
$22.99
13.5%
Full yellow golden color with only a slight touch of green. Pretty florality lends it a heavy, steady lift, dewy, peach, pear, apricot scents steady with adequate ripeness, honeyed, basic and guileless. Medium-bodied, good extract and palate grip, acidity firm and maybe too much so for the depth of the apricot, peach, pear fruit. Floral but not longlasting, lemony, straw and stone. Not a lot there unfortunately and what's there tends to fall asleep on the couch. Unspecified percentages of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay. 86 points

Einaudi, Poderi Luigi
Piedmont, Italy
Barolo
Nebbiolo
1961
Throwing a good bit of fine sediment, bright brick red core, attenuated red to yellow rims, would be perfectly clear were it not for the sediment. Matted wet grasses, cow patties and muddy earth lay the foundation of the nose, not a lot of lift, salted meats, any cherry, dark berry fruit scents get crushed by the herbaceousness, whatever is in charge length is no problem. Medium-bodied, sour pucker from the start, tannin reduced to chunky residue but acidity still lurches left and right. Leather, leather, more leather, tilled black earth, olive pits, more sour cherry, raspberry to even strawberry fruit, lasts quite nicely to the end. Fallen wood and forest floor notes. You’d have to be a serious jerk to find fault with it at this stage. 720 ml bottle. 89 points

Jamet, Jean-Paul et Jean-Luc
Rhône, France
Côte-Rôtie
Syrah
1998
$69.99
13.0%
Basic purple core, rust red rims, some vigor still there. Solid toast and coffee to the nose, leather, tilled earth but no funk whatsoever, floral, quite forward, smells like it was bottled yesterday. Full-bodied, while dry layers itself on the tongue and lets the cranberry, raspberry, blackberry jasmine and violets, orange blossom, leather, touch of muddy earth. Turns more and more sour as it gets to the finish. Hint of olive and brine. Good resonance in the flavors but somewhat simple and not as advanced as you’d think. 90 points

Piedrasassi
Santa Ynez Valley, California
Ballard Canyon
Harrison Clarke
Blend
2014
$38.99
14.5%
Bright violet purple core, broad magenta rims, heavy saturation. Plum, blackberry, black cherry, blueberry scents, entirely fruit driven, a bit of straw, highly interesting for how little there is to absorb, hard to find a wine of tis quality with so little nose. Medium-bodied, here there’s a lively orange, tangerine citrus element to brighten the mouth entry, cinnamon and gingerbread, light wooly qualities, just bursts through with shoulders squared. Medium-bodied, nice undercurrent of acidity that consistently nudges things forward. Very ripe blackberry, boysenberry, persimmon, green apple fruit with snap at the end. Spicy with a hot bite, ginger, cumin spice, orange reduction, not wooly per se but does show a bit of typical Mourvèdre characteristics. Somewhat creamy texture. Rolls on fully through the finish. Great wine but too young to judge it’s real qualities long term. 50% Syrah, 50% Mourvèdre. 90 points

Gangloff, Mathilde et Yves
Rhône, France
Côte-Rôtie
La Barberine
Syrah
1998
$72.99
13.0%
Smidgen of purple left in the core, crimson to blood red on the whole, the rims bricking but not looking long n the tooth. Solid lifting musk of leather, barnyard mud, pulped grapefruit, violets and something almost menthol like, plum to black cherry fruit with lots of ripeness. Full-bodied, pretty floral musk, pine breeze, iodine, bright minerality, sour orange, leather, while it has good breadth of flavor there's also a certain hard edged quality to it which stunts uncritical enjoyment. That said, the plum, cherry, blackberry fruit has little problem pushing to the end. Molasses and honey soften the finish. Has a somewhat modern feel to it but the lack of sauvage notes don't detract from the overall enjoyment. 90 points

Allemand, Thierry
Rhône, France
Cornas
Chaillot
Syrah
2005
$89.99
13.0%
Good amount of purple left in the core, crimson to brick red rims remain youthful still, doesn’t look its age at all. Good lift to the nose, floral and stony with a hint of green olives and minerals, pure blackberry, black raspberry fruit with minimal funk. Medium-bodied, great palate coverage with savory cherry, currant, blackberry fruit with a hint of green apple. Not that floral, spicy and here a lot more cured beef and iodine, Dusty tannin does throw a few bumps in the road. Leather, beef fat and then as expected stone, stone and stone. Drinking very well and the fruit is in an excellent place vis-à-vis the whole, strong retro nasal presence. 92 points

Guigal, E.
Rhône, France
Condrieu
Viognier
2015
$46.99
13.5%
Bright golden color with plenty of luster. Explosive nose of honeysuckle, orange blossom , mint and poached apricot, peach fruit, sweet baking spices, big and blowsy yet not especially long lasting. Medium-bodied, spicy and tingly and hot with ginger, cinnamon if not cumin spice. Orange sherbet, whipped cream, rose petals, apricot, peach, no lack of fruit here while at the same time evincing more restraint and linearity than expected. If it were not for the heat it would be quite nice. 88 points

Haut-Brion, Château
Bordeaux, France
Pessac-Léognan
Blend
1999
$429.99
13.0%
Purple core achieves opacity, wide and fresh brick red rims, nothing about it suggests an advanced wine. Richly ripe nose dripping with plum, cassis, graphite and cedar, freshly tilled spring earth, there’s a heavy pungency to it that teases you and never releases, no substantial amount of tertiary development yet. Medium-bodied, sinewy gristle feel, all muscle and no excess flesh, active pacing even as the tannin remains untamed. Cedar, sandalwood incense, moment of bell pepper snap, violets and vibrantly sour black currant, cherry, plum fruit. Mocha to light roast coffee bean. There’s no doubt that it is moving down the path to its true self but it’s not yet knocking on the door. Give it a serious decant now and you will be rewarded. Unspecified percentages of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc. 92 points

Ogier, Domaine Michel
Rhône, France
Côte-Rôtie
Syrah
2000
$61.99
12.0%
Some purple in the core, wide crimson rims and nicely vigorous colors throughout. Herbaceous nose, almost bell pepper, pulped white grapefruit, grill smoke, metal flecks, herbs, olive pits, loamy earth, sour cherry, raspberry, boysenberry fruit, cigarette ash, good length. Medium-bodied, spicy with some oak toast and buttery notes while there’s palpable grassy, herbaceous underpinning. Smoky, stony, the cherry, red currant, blackberry fruit sinewy and long, no problem getting to the finish. Smoky caramel at the end, sour but keeps that brightness going. You might call it simple, or you might call it straightforward. 89 points

Chave, Jean-Louis
Rhône, France
Hermitage
Blend
1997
$119.99
13.5%
Matured golden color, not quite bronzed but close, filmy throughout. Mint, lanolin, poached peaches, cherries, remains fresh and not showing any sign of oxidation and undue doughiness, candied oranges. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied and feels like it has lost some weight. Cinnamon, ginger, orange to lemon peel, here there is a little raw dough. The acidity more broad and blunt than cutting. Uncooked nuts. Has entered a phase of gentility where you don’t expect great pronouncements, just a few well chosen words. Finishes short though. Unspecified percentages of Marsanne, Roussanne. 88 points

Sine Qua Non
Santa Rita Hills, California
Eleven Confessions Vineyard
Stockholm Syndrome
Syrah
2010
$250.00
15.6%
Onyx black core, impenetrable, if you stare at it long enough there’s some purple, dense red magenta rims with no letting up. Buttermilk, buttered popcorn, vanilla fudge, plum/prune to cherry compote, milk chocolate, gingerbread, coffee roast, nothing natural about the nose. Full-bodied, syrupy blueberry, boysenberry, raspberry fruit, creamed coffee, toffee, caramel, no tannin nor acidity, rolls forward by dint of forward momentum. Green apple, raspberry finish with cedar, incense and a big spoonful of Ovaltine. Confectionary dessert that you just can’t wash out of your mouth. 96% Syrah, 3% Roussanne, 1% Viognier. 88 points

Gaja, Angelo
Piedmont, Italy
Barbaresco
Nebbiolo
1967
$399.99
13.0%
Blackish brick red core, rims brown to yellow, even decanted throws some silt, filmy throughout. Funky nose of merde, peanut shells, muddy earth, nail polish, the cherry, blackberry fruit holding on credibly but on the downslope, autumnal fallen leaves and twigs, for its age has a good cleansing sensation at the end. Medium-bodied and has not lost all its weight, the tannin subsided but even a thorough decant leaves it with a gritty texture. Roasted cherry, raspberry fruit with a decent amount of volatility to it. Acidity unsteady on its feet. Heavy incense musk, sour oranges and leather if not cowhide. Holding on but just. 87 points

Zind Humbrecht, Domaine
Alsace, France
Rotenberg
Sélection de Grains Nobles
Pinot Gris
1991
11.5%
Moving past orange into semi-brownish territory, looks like a block of amber as much as anything, more yellowish rims. Light rubber and diesel fumes to the nose, just about solely dried apricot and peach fruit, supplemented by caramelized brown sugar, orange marmalade, dense but it’s all in the lower register and thus lacking in length, persistence. Full-bodied, sweet and smoky, here the rubber pairs with black tea leaf and tar to glue it to the tongue. The acidity isn’t bad per se but doesn’t put a real charge into things. Tangerine, orange citrus more sweet than tart. Stays to the script with concentrated, dried fruit character peach, pear, apricot to cherry fruit. Nice enough but there’s something about it which nags you into thinking it is slightly off. 88 points

Maybach Family Vineyards
Napa Valley, California
Calistoga
Amoenus
Cabernet Sauvignon
2014
$164.99
14.6%
Heavy glow in the incredibly dark purple core that still avoids black, thick red magenta rims that would glow in the dark. Floral musk in the nose with butter cream, butterscotch, molasses and caramelized brown sugar, plum to prune, cherry compote, blackberry jam, pleasingly able to not overstuff the nostrils, hint of bell pepper at the end, milk chocolate, coffee, curious for how it avoids getting in your face with its brawn. Full-bodied with a steady decline towards the finish. Heavy coffee roast here, close to bitter, toasty, really sour orange to borderline grapefruit citrus. Blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry fruit, all the sour dark berry stuff. Tannin feels like wet oatmeal, not dry but heavy on the tongue. Lacks velvety smoothness while at the same time does not offer a naturally roughhewn feel. Can’t imagine any substantial integration in its future. 87 points

Texier, Eric
Rhône, France
Côte-Rôtie
Vieilles Vignes
Syrah
1999
$51.99
13.0%
Cloudy luminescent glow to the purple core, heavy brick red rims, brooding appearance. Nose of saline, green grass, iodine, rose petals, lavender, lemon peel, crispy beef, the blackberry, raspberry, red cherry fruit starting to taper off, briny finish. Medium-bodied, wiry and full of reckless energy still, seems like it may never calm down, not volatile but seethes with energy. Boysenberry, blueberry, raspberry fruit going strong and has no problem getting to the finish. Iron, metallic stone, lemongrass, graphite. The acidity sneers as it slashes away. White grapefruit, blood orange add more verve. Has lost flesh yet never feels lacking, juts moving a million miles an hour through the mouth. Has this sort of immortal wraith like quality to it, will never go away. 91 points

Jamet, Jean-Paul et Jean-Luc
Rhône, France
Côte-Rôtie
Syrah
2001
$74.99
13.0%
Black core, fully opaque, sunset red rims with a burnt touch. Smoky, burnt nose with leather and tree bark, twig notes, coffee bean, cherry, blackberry, blueberry, maple syrup, just gets up in there with reckless abandon, more roast than you’d expect. Full-bodied, soft but broad, the tannin wiry but the acidity has to do most of the work in pushing it forward. Caramel, toffee, sweet grill smoke, pork rinds. Basic plum, cherry, red currant fruit, blockish. Hot and ragged finish, uneven. But before that juicy fruit. 88 points

Toro Albalá, Bodegas
Montilla-Moriles, Spain
Don PX Convento Selección 1946
Pedro Ximénez
1946
$274.99
17.0%
Jet black core wit wide aura of fiery oranges and reds at the rims. Date, fig, raisin scents, molten dark chocolate, graham cracker, pie crust, serene and not over the top at all. Medium-bodied and velvety smooth, quite chocolaty, date, fig, candied orange peel, coffee, molasses. Surprising bright acidity keeps it clean and fluid. Ginger root enlivens the finish. Gracefully collected and not a trace of heat, should hold into anyone’s old age. (Bottled in 2011) 93 points

Sandrone, Luciano
Piedmont, Italy
Barolo
Le Vigne
Nebbiolo
1996
$105.00
14.0%
The purple core has become more of a washed out mixture of crimson and black, the rims a more decided red to orange rust hue with a thin yellow aura. Smoky nose, close to roasted, damp leather, camphor, succinct cherry and blackberry fruit scents, echoes of butterscotch and caramel, overall befuddlingly inexpressive. Medium-bodied, any tannin has been sanded away by time, not flat but very, very relaxed. Lemon peel, old pressed roses, anise seed, mint lend prettiness in the face of the concentrated and more inert blackberry, black cherry to even plum fruit. Some toastiness but on the palate the oak does not come off as obtrusive. Certainly fully matured and never going to get better, a good argument can be made that it was at its best 5-6 years ago. 89 points

Gallet, Henri et Philippe
Rhône, France
Côte-Rôtie
Syrah
1999
$57.99
12.5%
Filmy reddish purple core that is opaque, rust red rims, maintains a youthful mien. Sauvage nose that cuts through your nostrils, loaded with iron flecks, minerals and blood, lightly feral animal fur and hide, the black currant, cherry, plum fruit scents robust and more than able to resist the more cutting elements. Medium-bodied, the acidity muscular but not so much that it can’t allow a nice spread of the dark berry, cherry fruit as well as sweet and sour grapefruit citrus. Wonderful floral lift and an earthiness below too. Campfire smoke and beef jerky, right now in a great place for balancing fruit off tertiary development. Nice soft and gentle finish. 95% Syrah, 5% Viognier. 91 points

Birichino
Central Valley, California
Mokelumne River
Bechthold Vineyard
Old Vines – Vignes Centenaires
Cinsault
2015
$25.99
13.5%
Pink magenta to watermelon in color, transparent with a sleek surface shine, looks just pressed. Lively and bright red raspberry, strawberry, rhubarb, stony with a quick burst of grassiness, then Heath bar crunch, potpourri, garrigues, stones and poor dirt, given the verve of the fruit nothing feels massaged or forced. Medium-bodied, great focus with insistent acidity and tannin which shapes and prods more than clamps down. Ripely sour cranberry, blueberry, boysenberry fruit zips hither and yon. Light twigginess welcome and with the brown dirt notes gives it an anchor. Lemon pulp reduction. Astringent but not green finish. Lively but not a wine willing to enter into dialogue with you, take it as it is. 89 points

Overnoy, Maison Pierre
Jura, France
Arbois
Pupillin
Poulsard
2007
$29.99
12.5%
Cloudy rose petal pink to washed out red, fully washed out rims. Lemon, rose petal, strawberry jam, brown dirt and sun dried stone, wonderfully airy nose that does not sacrifice any richness along the way. Medium-bodied, sort of fizzy through the attack, stone and poor earth and a light herbaceousness. Acidity is soft but at the same time consistently present. Enough sweetness to sustain a jammy character to the strawberry, blueberry, raspberry fruit lasting through to the end. Lemongrass, cocoa and straw, not a great deal of terroir going on but the fruit is super fetching. Incredibly accessible. 89 points

Michel & Fils, Domaine Louis
Burgundy, France
Chablis
Montée de Tonnerre
Chardonnay
2014
$41.99
13.0%
Pale white straw hue, not colorless but close, excellent shine as well as layering down into the glass. Delicate nose which teases you with lilacs, fine spun sugar, lime sherbet, strawberry, peach to apricot fruit, tea leaf, hints at a smokiness which might come to the fore with time, spreads widely in the nostrils. Medium-bodied, firm and and in control from the start. Doesn’t fully unleash the acidity and seems to prefer playing nice. Retains that general sweetness of flavor the nose suggests while maintaining a sneaky dryness across the palate. Floral, this overcome by an insistent lime to lemon citrus. Chalk and to a lesser extent minerals. Just the right amount of pear, yellow apple, apricot fruit to smooth out the edges. Does not strike one as a candidate for long term cellaring but a few more years may bring added complexity. 90 points

Guigal, E.
Rhône, France
Côte-Rôtie
La Landonne
Syrah
1995
$169.99
13.0%
Core more black than purple, wide brick red rims with an orange rust tint. Still some sweet oak, vanilla, butterscotch, and cedar, yet the oak has pulled back into blackberry, currant, black cherry fruit, toasted mocha, mesquite smoke, potpourri, light tapenade, age has prevented it from staying overwrought. Medium-bodied, tannin fully massaged and acidity restrained, allowing it to soak into the palate. Ripe strawberry, red cherry, blackberry fruit, curious lack of “dark fruit” flavors. Not that oaky here, little but of toffee and vanilla. Leather, tar, black earth and a measure of slate. Well-collected and balanced but nothing that just blows you away as the rep warrants. 90 points

Allemand, Thierry
Rhône, France
Cornas
Reynard
Syrah
2000
$76.99
13.5%
Youthful ruby to violet color, good clarity until you get to the sediment at the bottle bottom, rims strong. High-toned nose of matted straw and sous bois but never gets too funkiness, olive pits, earth, tart red cherry, blackberry fruit zips through the nostrils, broken stone, zips through quickly. Medium-bodied, acidic and fresh with great rapidity, all stone shards, parched earth, olive pits, iodine and beef jerky. Not that gamey, much more emphasis on metal and minerality, stone. The cherry, red currant to blackberry fruit light yet you don’t feel it’s underfruited, just decided to focus on other things. Momentary floral blossom at the end. Lip smackingly savory, at peak, doesn’t convince there’s more improvement ahead. 89 points

Haut-Brion, Château
Bordeaux, France
Pessac-Léognan
Blend
1999
$359.99
14.0%
Has turned a light amber but still mostly dark gold, retains plenty of shine, not that advanced visually. Toffee, bubblegum, candied orange peels, not a crisp nostril presence, peach, apple, pear, the fatness prevents any lift as well as separation of scents. Full-bodied, almost entirely buttered popcorn, toffee, and floral musk. Lemon citrus, mineral, driftwood, if there’s any phenolics they seem underripe. Pear, peach, persimmon fruit comes off as a bit dried out. Woody. Mint, anise. Runs hot through the finish. Could make an argument that it’s past prime. That or you have to like a lot of oak with nothing in contrast. Approximately 52% Sémillon, 48% Sauvignon Blanc. 86 points

Pepe, Azienda Agricola Emidio
Abruzzi, Italy
Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
Trebbiano
2003
$39.99
11.6%
Very cloudy dark yellow to amber in color, full through the rims, looks naturally filmy not as if something went awry. Inexpressive nose, dry in texture, lanolin, orange peel, apricot pit, wet cut grass, you can struggle mightily and still get nothing from it. Full-bodied, tingly and tangy from the start, any dryness in texture swept away by the broad swath of acidity. Big sour orange to lemon citrus, witch hazel, twiggy at times, apricot, peach and close to cherry fruit. Some flor, pressed flowers, blanched nuts. It’s just about what it can be and given the vintage that’s a lot better than one might hope. 90 points

Petit Chambord (François Cazin), Le
Loire, France
Cour-Cheverny
Cuvée Renaissance
Romorantin
2004
$21.99
13.0%
Sparkly aged golden color that isn’t quite bronzed but likely will be one day, some diminishment at the rims. Quite nose, gently smoky with diesel fumes, oily, pineapple, green apple, peach, tangerine, stream water and pebbles, stays quiet. Medium-bodied, the acidity seems to have left the premises so it lacks a real zing to it. That said, the pineapple, grapefruit, papaya, peach flavors have pep yet. More doughy in texture than flavor. Herbs and air time helps to stiffen it up a bit, however, lacks the desired verve and relentless push through the finish. 87 points

Ferrer Ribière, Domaine
Languedoc/Roussillon, France
Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes
Empreinte de Temps
Carignan
2005
$12.99
14.0%
Unblemished, the purple core faded to a reddish black, the rims a fiery orange to red rust hue, indubitably an older wine. Poopy nose of merde, rubber band, damp metallic earth, moss and lichens, got it give it some time to blow off and moderate into lowkey cherry, plum fruit, matted straw and wildflowers, driftwood and tar. In the mouth it is medium bodied and much more pleasant, while rustic in profile no lack still of currant, cherry fruit with baking spices, white citrus zest and a certain mountain pine appeal as well. The stone, earth component dry and anchors things decisively. Tart finish with some acidity poking through. No lack of old vine character just probably best consumed ten years ago. 87 points

Christoffel Erben, Weingut Joh. Jos.
Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Erdener
Treppchen
Auslese** AP #10
Riesling
2003
$49.99
7.5%
Dark gold but not near amber, pools deeply into the glass, dull surface but minimal hue loss at the rims. The nose is soft, generous and loaded with whipped cream, vanilla bean and raw cookie dough, dappled in honey and molasses, does have a welcome warm rubber core, the peach, guava, nectarine, mango scents sugary and concentrated, strong floral dew at the end. Full-bodied with just an echo of acidity, massively scaled so that it belly flops into the mouth. Tangerine, pink grapefruit and lime citrus gives it a soft drink character. Dough, coconut custard, vanilla with caramelized brown sugar and honey, nothing here remotely diverges from the script of full-on sugar. Search but you are unlikely to find any stony qualities, nothing here to suggest a sense of terroir. Maybe some savory herbs and mint. Kiwi, peach, mango, pineapple, maraschino cherry with the consistency of fruit cocktail. The only possibility going forward is the fruit fading because the chance of tertiary development is nil. 87 points

Karl Lawrence
Napa Valley, California
Cabernet Sauvignon
2001
$40.00
14.2%
Blackish purple and fully opaque core, sunset red to orange rims, rusty coloration. The nose has matured to the point where it offers more density and layers than liveliness, menthol, pressed flowers, cedar, coffee beans fill it out as the cherry, black currant fruit chugs along under the radar, almost prune, tends to just recline in the nostrils. Full-bodied, densely heavy, almost impassively so. Pine, menthol, witch hazel and honey before normalizes into cedar, cocoa and mesquite grill smoke. The plum, black cherry, black currant fruit carries a dried fruit edge which nicely concentrates it but at the same time slows it down to a crawl. Floral and caramel accents sweeten the finish. Tannin nonexistent, likely peaked 5-6 years ago in terms of fruit and structure balance. 76% Morisoli Vineyard, 16% Herb Lamb Vineyard, 8% Beckstoffer-To Kalon Vineyard. 88 points

Swan, Joseph
Russian River Valley, California
Olivet Road
Zinfandel
2010
$23.99
13.0%
Washed out purple in the core, brick red than more watermelon red towards the rims, crystal clear throughout. There’s a penetrating medicinal edge to the nose which is thoroughly distracting and verges on volatile, if you bull past it there’s raspberry, red cherry, apple fruit, caramel, and pie crust as well as candied orange peel, releases some eucalyptus notes at the very end. In the mouth it’s medium to lighter bodied with ill intentioned acidity that careens across the palate. White grapefruit to sour orange, menthol and witch hazel appear first. Things get drier and drier the more you sip, inhibits the flow of the strawberry, green apple, raspberry fruit. The primary material is all there but it’s just, well kind of “arch” overall. Not sure if it was always like this or has dried out over the preceding years. 86 points

Proidl, Weingut Familie
Kremstal, Austria
Senftenberger
Ehrenfels
Reserve
Riesling
2012
$23.99
13.0%
Dark golden hue that you could easily see heading towards amber in the near future, moderately clear but more so layered into the glass. Strong scent of rubber in the nose, wet stone but not especially minerally, even at this relatively young stage has a doughy, yeasty quality to it, pleasing floral perfume as it warms, the pineapple, green apple, peach fruit scents more sharp than juicy. Medium-bodied, immediately marked by a curious lack of acidity, no erectness to it. Vanilla and pie dough come on first, lightly honeyed with tangerine zest both sweet and sour. The pineapple, nectarine, peach fruit has more bite here but not necessarily more length. Here too increasingly floral at the end. Easy to like but this is not going to make old bones and arguably has already peaked. (Screwcap) 88 points

Roches Neuves, Domaine des
Loire, France
Saumur-Champigny
La Marginale
Cabernet Franc
2013
$25.99
12.5%
Crimson stained purple core, stays in a translucent range, sunset glow to the orange tinted red rims, no filminess nor sediment. The nose shows plenty of brawn, managing to avoid clumsiness, the cherry to black raspberry fruit scents cloaked in leather, powdered stone and campfire smoke, enough to push the not insubstantial bell pepper to the background. Medium-bodied, fiercely tannic with extremely strong grip. As your mouth dries out further and further, tobacco, white grapefruit pith, tar, graphite, and kindling wood comes to the fore. The cherry, red currant, blackberry fruit fares decently but never going to take the spotlight and arguably won’t outlast the tannin. Very savory and biting, demands a decanting and unless you are a gambler likely best consumed in next 3-4 years. 89 points

Musar, Château
Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Blend
1995
$39.99
13.5%
Crystal clear violet to ruby core, while possessed of youthful vigor the rims do display a bright orange hue. Candied strawberry, raspberry scents in the nose, leather and animal fur as well, no volatility or excessive funk, light earthiness, rosemary, overall it does not smell like an advanced, aged wine. Medium-bodied, here much earthier with more leather, close to minerally. Smoky feel to the cherry, raspberry fruit. Spiced orange peel, pressed flowers, pickles, kimchi. It does offer a satiny mouth feel on the whole, any time it starts to gurgle it never gets turbulent. Totally unsure if it is matured or could evolve still further. Unspecified percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan, Grenache, and Mourvèdre. 89 points

Wilde Farm
Anderson Valley, California
Donnelly Creek Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2013
$39.99
12.7%
Moderately rich violet to red ruby in color with credible fullness through the rims. Presents a taut nose of cranberry, raspberry fruit, dirt caked pebbles, dried rose petals, orange peels, clean and can seem at times close to empty. Medium-bodied, more of a sappy texture in the mouth, while dry it manages to glue itself to the palate. Sweet and sour raspberry, strawberry, rhubarb fruit with notes of pomegranate and green apple. The tart white grapefruit swells in the mid-palate. Limestone and meadow grasses provide the bass. Tapers off quickly at the end. Not sure what to make of it in the end. 88 points

Lillian
Santa Ynez Valley, California
California
Roussanne
2012
$86.00
13.6%
Deep golden color, cloudy in a youthfully unfiltered way, does hold light inside well. There’s an odd stink to the nose which is hard to peg before pie crust, caramel, molasses fill things out, fried lemon peel, peach, apricot, pear fruit, tends to hover just above the ground, minimal lift. Full-bodied, flat and trails off through the mid-palate, curious lack of follow-through given its heft. Dry but not acidic, at times seems gamey and earthy. Vaguely doughy, quick burst of blood orange. Notes of pineapple and guava add energy to flatter apricot, peach flavors. Accent of rubber permeates the finish. Appears to be sound asleep or the like. 87 points

Felton Road
Central Otago, New Zealand
Bannockburn
Pinot Noir
2014
$48.99
14.0%
Purple to ruby-magenta in hue, full rims and very good shine. Ripe, blowzy nose, both briny and briery, stone quarry dust, cocoa powder, green olive pit and cherry, blackberry, close to plum fruit scents. Medium-bodied, more chubby than obese but sheds weight steadily as it moves forward. The acidity level is good but the tannin seems underripe at the finish. Kumquat, plum, star fruit, blackberry flavors, sort of all over the map. However, given its turbulence it manages to hold your attention in a positive manner. (Screwcap) 87 points

Equipo Navazos
Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, Spain
Sanlúcar de Barrameda
La Bota de Vino Blanco Florpower #44 MMX
Palomino Fino
2010
$35.99
11.5%
Bronzed orange color, fairly dull with almost pinkish rims. Very dry and sherried nose of flour, dough, mint oil, orange peel and apricot pit, hard to ignore. medium-bodied, dry and tacky mouth texture. Here there’s richer apricot paste, dried peaches to orange marmalade flavors to anchor it well. Has that same dusty flour but not leesy per se. Dried herbs with a lift featuring more by way of pressed flowers. The acidity is off the hook and totally dominant. Turns very nutty through the finish. With this sort of flavor array it remains nicely fresh throughout. Definitely a unique type of wine. 88 points

Sine Qua Non
Santa Barbara County, California
California
Entre Chien et Loup
Blend
2015
$189.99
15.2%
Bright golden color with good surface luster if mildly dull underneath, full transparency. Butterscotch, raw pie dough, vanilla custard, somewhat mute white pit fruit scents, pear and white grape. On the whole more demure than one might expect. Medium-bodied, spicy with ginger, cumin, allspice notes and a noticeable burst of sweet and sour lemon citrus. Can’t say it’s devoid of acidity but it is not assertive hence the mouth feel can be flat at times. You easily sense the high alcohol level which brings some burn and a pickled edge. The vanilla, caramel elements proportionate to the whole, not as doughy here. Yellow apple, pear, apricot to pomegranate fruit steady not spectacular. Restrained for the producer. 44% Chardonnay, 40% Roussanne, 8% Petit Manseng, 8% Viognier. Grapes sourced from Bien Nacido Vineyard, Cumulus (Estate) Vineyard, Eleven Confessions (Estate) Vineyard. 88 points

Trimbach
Alsace, France
Clos Ste. Hune
Riesling
1998
$109.99
13.0%
Deep gold to lightly bronzed, on the dull side with dilute rims. Wet stone, rubber, honey and fried lemons adorn the nose, firm pear, peach, yellow apple fruit scents, orange marmalade still has some blunt power but has relaxed some into itself. Medium-bodied, very firm yet with a dry and dusty texture. Here offers a more tropical array of pineapple, star fruit, kumquat to peach, no lack of sour bite. Very light doughiness but not sustained. Owns more consistent rubber and wet stone elements. The citrus evokes mostly lemon to white grapefruit. Turns more stony and savory as it warms with violets as well. A bottle which merited a decanting before consumption. 90 points

Dönnhoff, Weingut Hermann
Nahe, Germany
Oberhäuser
Brücke
Spätlese AP #8
Riesling
2002
$44.99
8.5%
Shiny, glassy green tinged gold color, appears to just be deepening into middle age, no lack of vigor. The rubber is there in the nose but not a major factor, wet stone, mixed pink grapefruit to orange citrus, light layer of honey, pineapple, papaya, nectarine, peach fruit scents, here it does seem to still be in a semi shut down mode. Medium-bodied, the sweetness allows greater expressivity in the mouth. The acidity better than expected and adroitly fends off notes of pie crust and raw dough. Juicy pineapple, mango, papaya and nectarine fruit, almost drips down the chin. But the sweetness is balanced by savory herbs, chalky stone and some saline. Tangerine, lime and lesser grapefruit citrus. Lots going on and should show a leap forward once it fully wakes up from slumbering. 90 points

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Sent to Their Grave in March 2018

Lis Neris
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Venezia Giulia
Fiore di Campo
Blend
2013
$11.99
13.5%
Flat in terms of shine, however, there’s a luminescent glow to the green-tinged yellow straw hue, paler at the rims. Smoky nose with some rubber as well as damp tea bags, kind of lurches at you, the fruit is mainly pineapple, peach, guava and apple, a bit scattered and not fully tropical, no distinct citrus scents. In the mouth it’s full-bodied and somewhat inert from the weight, even though it offers a mild fizzy feel. Mango, papaya, kiwi and nectarine fruit, again without bite. Minerally while there’s a suggestion of oxidation. Wet driveway gravel, lemon peels, and sauna smoke fill the mid-palate. Doughy finish. Not sure what to make of it but a few years in bottle appear to have not served it well. Unspecified percentages of Tocai Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling. (Composite Cork) 86 points

Cadence
Yakima Valley, Washington
Red Mountain
Ciel du Cheval Vineyard
Blend
2004
$29.99
14.4%
Dark purple, opaque core, surrounded by broad ruby red rims. Has a plum to dark berry fruit driven nose, cedar, toasty but not overtly oaky, some potpourri notes, no sign of Cabernet Franc herbaceousness, overall it offers what’s expected but without any “pop.” Full-bodied with a velvety texture, here to it’s mainly sappy fruit, plum to prune, black cherry, cassis. More cedary here with sandalwood, orange peel, candied ginger accents. The tannin more drying than shaping. Doesn’t seem to have developed much thus leaving you without a lot to say. 39% Cabernet Franc, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot. 88 points

Ravenswood
Sonoma Valley, California
Sangiacomo Vineyard
Merlot
1997
$23.99
14.6%
Vaguely purple core, not much depth to it, expresses itself more through red rust to sunset orange hues, very lively rims. There’s a heavy, syrupy quality to the cherry, blueberry, strawberry fruit scents which impedes spreading lift, matted straw with some caked mud, cedar, ginger spice, even if there’s not much lift the persistence is good and were it need for the fruity concentration it would come close to a right bank claret in style. Full-bodied, here there’s not much tannin left but something which feels acidic and it has a lively sourness. Grapefruit and blood orange pair up with sour oak and a light nuttiness. Cherry, blackberry, raspberry to green apple fruit front loaded and have to work it to get to the finish line. Skeleton showing, it has a nice sweet to savory counterpoint but it is showing as being on the back end of the plateau. 88 points

Cabot
Humboldt County, California
Klamath River
Marier Vineyard
Zinfandel
2011
$25.99
14.7%
Some violet in the core but it’s basically bright candy apple red throughout, slight hint of orange at the rims, clear and easy to see through. There’s an underlying leafiness to the nose yet the cherry cough drop, blueberry syrup scents rule the roost, pine sap, milk chocolate, ginger snaps, despite the thickness of the fruit scents dissolves with an airy lift. Full-bodied, a bit gluey texture-wise here too but feels like above average acidity to scrub some. Potpourri, eucalyptus, violets, menthol rub, good swirling action. The raspberry, strawberry, red cherry fruit concentrated and sweet, pulls up short on the finish. Like the way it manages the internal contrasts, doesn’t let you mindlessly ignore it. 89 points

Rostaing, Domaine René
Rhône, France
Côte-Rôtie
Côte Blonde
Syrah
1999
$79.99
13.0%
Flat black core, of course it’s opaque, rust red to brick red rims, while showing its age not washed out. High-toned nose of green olives, minerals and brine, wet smoke, tart cherry, blackberry scents, the angularity at first intrigues but after awhile tires, smells like its nearing the back end of the plateau yet the animality retains lots of verve. Medium-bodied, savage acidity which roils the palate and sets the table for ginger root, stone shards, leather, grapefruit pulp, leather, the wet smokiness doesn’t lift but hovers just above the tongue. Zips around the pallet with intent, cherry, red currant, to Italian plum fruit that lifts with energy. Chewing stones at the finish but you don’t feel any sense of the fruit having finished short. Enjoy now and expect blood to be drawn. 91 points

Etude
Napa Valley, California
Cabernet Sauvignon
1996
$97.99
13.5%
Fully impenetrable black core, the rims all brick red with only a moderately washed out look, does not appear its age. Smoky nose of doused campfire wood, cedar, grilled meat fat and leather, the plum, black currant fruit scents all sinew but gracefully so, fading floral dimension, touch of mocha but no youthfully sweet oak present, overall compact and fully integrated. Medium-bodied, the tannin still has some punch but releases well. With no lack of pucker, the sweetness yet reigns in the black cherry, blackberry to boysenberry fruit with full extension to the finish. Licorice, anise, cedar and tea leaf, too clean for earthiness but the smoke and leather woven in here. More vibrant than smooth, on the back end of its plateau, drinking very well but no improvement ahead. 1.5 liter bottle. 92 points

Phelps (Freestone Vineyards), Joseph
Sonoma County, California
Sonoma Coast
Quarter Moon Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2009
$57.99
13.5%
Flat black colored core, equally dull brick red rims, while it looks matured chances are high it didn’t seem that different in its youth. Burst of black smoke in the nose then cola, mixed white citrus, leather and damp black earth, plum, black cherry fruit, smells like a Pinot grown in Bordeaux, at least the oak has mostly faded. Full-bodied, thick and heavy with negligible tannin or acidity, tends to clump up and freeze as it moves across the palate. Vanilla bean, caramel, tree bark and leather, ginger root, bunch of things going on but lacks a conductor in charge. The sourness in the raspberry, blackberry, blueberry fruit helps break the monotony. The oak does at times have it veer towards brine and pickle juice. As far as red wine goes it has held on okay, but if you are judging it on the Pinot Noir spectrum it’s a fail. 86 points

Highlands
Napa Valley, California
Howell Mountain
Beatty Ranch
Cabernet Sauvignon
2001
$35.99
13.7%
Decent amount of purple left in the dark core, broad crimson to brick red rims, there it shows its age albeit not close to getting washed out. The nose has lost a good deal of flesh which has it highlighting burnt toast and buttered popcorn accents, the cherry, cranberry, raspberry scents “red fruited” and sour, light eucalyptus and pine aided lift, integrates more with air time. Medium-bodied, highly acidic with tannin relaxed. Sweeter but not really rounder red currant, cherry, blackberry fruit, lasts well into the finish, beginning to dry out. The oak holding on, no lack of butterscotch, buttered toast, and vanilla. Tea leaf but not much cedar. Most noticeable aspect is a pervasive sourness. Drinking well but as long as one is not completely oak aversive probably drank better 4-5 years ago. 90 points

Source du Ruault, La
Loire, France
Saumur-Champigny
Cabernet Franc
2010
$23.99
12.5%
Crimson purple core, basic coloration, bright sunset to fresh brick red rims, vigorously hued throughout. Gets right at you in the nose with bell pepper, dried mown grass and saddle leather, thankfully clean on the whole and without funk, loamy to sandy earth, high-toned red cherry, cranberry to blackberry fruit, the whole thing lifts quickly leaving little behind. Medium-bodied, fiercely tannic and dry. Here too the bell pepper is the alpha and omega, runs the show. If allowed extended air time the raspberry, cherry, cranberry, blackberry fruit starts to fatten up and gain a modicum of sweetness. On the back end there’s a hint of white grapefruit and lemon. Wet limestone and compacted brown earth ground things and there’s also a nice cedar to tea leaf swirl at the end. Right now demands a decanting, not sure the fruit will outlive the tannin. 88 points

Cartoixa (Francesc Sánchez-Bas), Cellers de la
Priorat, Spain
Montgarnatx
Blend
2004
$17.99
14.0%
The core remains mainly purple, gentle opacity, the rims fiery brick red to sienna in color, hue still vigorous. The nose sluggish and heavy with muddy earth, peanut shells before anise, pressed flowers, potpourri, prune to plum and cherry compote scents, cocoa powder, just not a lot of meaningful tertiary development. Medium-bodied, dry and twiggy through the attack, taking awhile for that prune, fig, cherry, blackberry fruit to get rolling. Lemon juice, incense, more musky potpourri. Damp leather and damp earth, minimal deviation from the nose. Not much tannin nor acidity. Cinnamon, ginger spice. Feels like its drying out and the exuberance of the fruit will be gone before you gain a decent tradeoff. Drink up while the fruit is still there. 65% Garnacha, 35% Cariñena. 88 points

Schwarz Wine Company
South Australia, Australia
Barossa Valley
Nitschke Block
Shiraz
2002
$23.99
14.0%
Little purple left in the core, mostly black with wide sunset red to orange rims where it has good clarity and cleanliness. Menthol, witch hazel, blanched nuts and then muddy earth in the nose, clearly has lost verve and energy, the plum as much prune with date, cherry and finally green apple, too shriveled to express much volatility. Medium-bodied, any tannin is now fully resolved and there is the sluggishness of age. Honey, molasses, and candied orange peel, the eucalyptus lacks freshness. The fruit shows well with that show plum/prune leading the way, fig, cherry and blackberry next. Cocoa and mocha, even the oakiness has subsided. A touch of shoe polish mars the finish. Surprisingly declining, this is a bottling which should still be on its plateau. 86 points

Scherrer
Alexander Valley, California
Old and Mature Vines
Zinfandel
2012
$26.99
14.5%
Noticeably high level of transparency, more brick red with dulling black than any real purple, only slight loss of hue along the rims, overall looks like a maturing wine. The initial burst of strawberry, raspberry in the nose is short lived, taken down by longer lasting eucalyptus, witch hazel, and stony earth components, a few moments of buttered toast as well. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied, more trim than lean, no excess flesh anywhere. Good brightness with some acidity to get the palate salivating. Hints of golden raisin but mainly strawberry, green apple, raspberry to red cherry fruit. Pine and menthol, cocoa powder and then sweet and savory garden herbs. On the whole it “feels” like Zinfandel but a version which eschews the voluptuousness the grape can produce in a finished wine. While it succeeds in its intent, not for everyone. 89 points

Pezzi King
Dry Creek Valley, California
SLR (Small Lot Reserve)
Zinfandel
1997
$8.99
14.7%
While clean overall, the coloration betrays its age with most of the purple washed out of the core, more like a bruise with brick red and orange rust highlights, almost fiery by the time it gets to the rims. At this stage pine, eucalyptus and cedar dominate the nose, some toffee and vanilla fudge, does possess an odd rubbery note, the fruit now mainly cranberry, red cherry, strawberry scents, staying power is adequate and not overly diminished. Medium-bodied with a sticky, syrupy texture that helps increase palate presence. Raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, like a breakfast at iHop. Retains that huge eucalyptus edge and adds zesty orange. The finish is weak and marred by that plastic element, however, if it gets some air time it smoothes out and integrates. Butterscotch, burnt molasses and caramel linger most at the end. It’s the bottle you open when you are already drunk and don’t care. 87 points

Gros et Jean-Paul Tollot, Domaine Anne
Languedoc/Roussillon, France
Minervois
Les Fontanilles
Blend
2014
$23.99
13.5%
Dark core but clean, crimson red to purple, consistent to the cores where it is slightly more reddish, great hue density throughout. While there’s notes of olive tapenade, minerally earth and damp leather in the nose it’s the boisterous cherry, dark berry fruit scents which steal the show, a few moments of toastiness but does not seem overtly oaky. Full-bodied and extremely polished, a great deal of thought and expense seems to have gone into it. The acidity seems “plus” level with weaker tannic support. Here too it’s all about the fruit with raspberry, cherry, blackberry oozing into your mouth pores. Some leather and mild sous bois but does not display the breadth of the nose. Chocolate, caramel and butter more evident. Clearly not drinking much differently than on release, have to guess it would need at least 5-6 years to reveal its inner nature. 40% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Carignan, 20% Cinsault. (Composite Cork: Diam10) 90 points

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Dupasquier, Domaine Savoie, France Vin de Savoie Jacquère 2010 $14.99 11.5% Deepened gold color which is closing in on amber, clear with a shimmer which distorts vision, some diminishing at the rims. Honeyed nose with yeast and raw pie dough notes, not oxidized or the like but has lost any youthful cut it might have had, green and yellow apple, peach fruit scents simple and pleasant, more offered by way of blood orange to grapefruit citrus, no real stone or mineral presence. Medium-bodied and feels like it put on some weight or at least lost some muscle. The acidity is not bad per se but doesn’t energize things on the whole. Bitter nuts and again major dose of orange, lemon and some grapefruit citrus. Yeasty in a “sur lie” manner, lower dose of honey and not as sweet as the nose might suggest. Some cherry alongside the pear, apple, apricot pit flavors. Touch smoky here, Never had it young, not sure that Jacquère is something to age with upside. 87 points Lafarge Vial, Domaine
Beaujolais, France
Chiroubles
Gamay Noir
2014
$29.99
12.5%
Clean ruby to red magenta, excellent depth hue while remaining transparent, really fills the glass. Muscularly textured nose, you feel it as much if not more than smell it, cranberry and raspberry fruit, tarry earth, aged pressed flowers, swirl all you like there’s just not much going on which suggests it’s in a dumb phase. Medium-bodied, firm tannic skeleton with the acidity providing punctuation at the finish. The fruit layers well and has more follow-through, blackberry, blueberry, cherry leading the way. More tarriness that can verge on smoky. Big jump in sour orange to white grapefruit citrus. Anise and sweet garden herbs add dimension. Much more expressive in the mouth and here shows future promise. Could be special in 6-8 years, has the structure to go even longer. 90 points

Papapietro Perry
Dry Creek Valley, California
Pauline’s Vineyard
Zinfandel
2007
$11.99
14.75%
Black purplish core with dusky brick red rims that are starting to suggest sunset orange hues, not unclean. The nose is sort of sluggish and bottom heavy, minimal lift, odd note of warmed rubber, the raisin, prune accents trump the juicier boysenberry, blackberry scents, the caramel and toffee element feels faded as if the oak had much more energy in its youth, ginger spice, overall has that same reduced feel. Medium-bodied, here too has shed some weight, the white grapefruit to blood orange citrus contributes to a sour profile from the very start. The caramel and toast has relaxed although creates a decent inner mouth perfume. The cherry, blackberry, raspberry fruit not quite syrupy and thus runs a bit hot. Mild eucalyptus to pine cone nuances at the end. Basically has held on more so than developed. 87 points

Krupp Brothers
Napa Valley, California
Stagecoach Vineyard
Veraison
Cabernet Sauvignon
2009
$69.99
15.3%
Glowingly dark purple core, opaque until it reaches the red magenta rims, heavy saturation throughout. Minty nose with substantial butterscotch, crème brûlée, mesquite grill smoke accents, the blackberry, cassis, cherry compote scents fill up your nostrils but the oak still running the show, no sign of development as it enters middle age. Full-bodied, velvety texture for its size. Offers mint, chocolate and just the beginning of cedar. The tannin is clumpy and at times does interrupt the general smoothness. The boysenberry, blackberry, black cherry fruit more concentrated than sugary, but on the whole still drinking in a primary state. If it is going to evolve it does not appear to be soon. 88 points

Lemenicier, Jacques
Rhône, France
Saint-Péray
Cuvée Traditionnelle
Blend
2014
$17.99
13.0%
Dull and translucent, the worn gold color consistent core to rims, blockish looking. Stony nose with sauna smokiness, whipped cream and pie crust dough, strawberry and cherry fruit scents mingle with peach, apple, needs to warm some to fill out and put on weight in the nostrils, as one might expect it’s in a stage where it’s not shut down per se but it’s past youthful exuberance and not anywhere near more mature aromas. Medium-bodied, moves well and not sluggish, acidity level good plus for the type and stony enough that it’s not all about richness. More of the dough, whipped cream and lilacs, hint of orange to tangerine citrus. Nuttier finish. The peach, apricot, apple fruit less diverse here. Nice dinner table wine, not really for casual sipping. 80% Marsanne, 20% Roussanne. 88 points

Danieli, Marina
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Friuli Colli Orientali
Schioppettino
2013
$11.99
12.0%
Clear scarlet to brick red, color lasts completely into the rims, while bright and shiny has a close to menacing appearance. Fresh nose of leather, packed brown dirt and twigs, leaves, can seem medicinal at times, the blackberry, cherry fruit scents are reticent but don’t leave you feeling they are weak, it’s just a general terseness to it. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied, pliant while layered and much more expressive. The acidity provides energy to spare. Grapefruit zest, anise, leather and grill fat give it breadth and it leaves you thinking it could always unfold some new dimension. The green apple, strawberry, raspberry fruit has a nice bounciness to it. Again, it has a energetic positivity about it which disarms most critique. (Composite Cork) 89 points

Dupasquier, Domaine
Savoie, France
Vin de Savoie
Gamay Noir
2010
$17.99
12.5%
Bright scarlet to brick red in hue with dull orange rims, quite clear and transparent throughout, curious coloration overall. No lack of merde and flatulence upon opening, eventually blows off in favor of damp earth and meadow grasses, cow hide and taut red cherry to raspberry fruit as well as white grapefruit pulp, slowly evolving and still possessed of youthful punch. Medium-bodied, wiry tannin and acidity give it a semi-angular mouth feel, tends to zip around a lot. Leather and earth predominate, flirts with animal fur. Sourly ripe cranberry, red cherry, raspberry fruit gently puckers. The citrus a touch muted here, however, has some minerally bite to supplement. On the whole, gives the impression of having been opened prematurely and that a few more years would have provided greater integration and smoothness. 89 points

Moët et Chandon
Champagne, France
Cuvée Dom Pérignon Brut [Limited Edition by Iris Van Herpen)
Blend
2004
$199.99
12.5%
Nice sized mousse at first, no real retention, strong pétillance without tight beads, solid golden hue, clean yet mildly distorts vision. The nose is youthful yet restrained, honey, brioche, much more toastier than yeasty, lemon curd, the yellow apple, pear to peach fruit has a firmer contour than expected, ends with a broadening tarry note. In the mouth it has a consistent and muscular effervescence to chip away at the hardness of its medium body. The acidity has punch and it stays dry throughout. Accents of juniper, mint and ginger add nuance while the toastiness recedes some. Granny Smith apple, peach, pear, and apricot, the fruit remains a bit simple today. Chalky finish. Seems to be moving into adolescence but does not come across as anywhere near full maturity and concomitant tertiary elements. That said, easy to drink. Unspecified percentages of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir. 90 points

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Danieli, Marina
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso
Refosco
2013
$10.99
12.5%
Clean ruby-purple color yet somewhat dull, does not distort one’s vision and consistent to the rims, minimally washed out there. Tight, focused nose which can still let you enjoy it, red fruited with cherry, cranberry to red currant fruit, light earthiness, driftwood, whisper of potpourri, enjoyable for its cleanliness but wish there was more meat on the bones. Medium-bodied with a steady forward movement, the acidity is a plus level and has enough tannin behind it to get the boulder rolling. Floral but stemmy and leafy at the same time, wet leather and barnyard mud. Tart cherry, blueberry, blackberry fruit, verging on savory. Waits until the penultimate moment but then hits you with some grapefruit. Acceptable everyday drinking version of the grape. (Composite Cork: Diam2) 87 points

Pasanau Germans
Priorat, Spain
Finca La Planeta
Blend
2004
$36.99
14.0%
Purple to black core, fully opaque, thick sunset red to orange rims, smoldering in the glass, vigorous and looks just into middle age. Sweet cedar, toffee and honeyed grill meats fill the nose, pastilles, heavyset plum, cassis to cherry fruit scents, sour pulped oranges, leather, sinewy pungency which lifts powerfully out of the glass. Full-bodied, tannic yet with well constructed, broad shoulders, releases nicely through the finish. Campfire smoke, incense, clove and a splash of witch hazel set the stage, puckering and dry enough to give contour to the currant, blackberry, cherry fruit. On the whole the oak in the process of knitting in. Admirable intensity, appears to just be entering its optimal drinking window. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Garnacha. 91 points

Cedar Knoll Vineyards
Napa Valley, California
Cabernet Sauvignon
2004
$18.99
13.8%
Basic ruby-purple core, youthfully bricking rims, decent clarity but not really shiny. Bright cherry, raspberry fruit scents with a strong mintiness, smoky as well with a touch of cedar and smoked meats, softened by toffee and caramel accents, overall though it’s firm with being unyielding, sustained pungency. Medium-bodied, not too heavy, creamy texture with a coating sensation. The tannin is on the soft side, tends to slow down the pacing. Cedar, game, smoke, here a trace of bell pepper. Some earthy grittiness. Tart red currant, cherry, strawberry fruit with curious moments of green apple, somewhat unexpected. Feels like it’s just coming into its own, however, unsure serious tertiary development is on the horizon. 89 points

Murat, Hervé
Burgundy, France
Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits
Les Herbues
Pinot Noir
2010
$23.99
12.5%
Scarlet to crimson in hue, the richness of the color likely lost in its full transparency, consistent to the outer rims, looks serious but not quite brooding, sparkly surface. Pleasing herbaceous and twiggy snap to the nose, penetrates quickly, fresh but too thick to be airy, blackberry and black cherry scents, indistinct citrus, appears at times to be mentholated, at other moments offers pickle brine. Medium-bodied, steadily expands outward, admirable structure as both the tannin and acidity firm it up but aren’t party poopers. Verbena, lemon oil, brown earth and stone create a nice tug between being anchored and drifting upwards. The strawberry, raspberry, blueberry fruit as tart as sweet but fully ripe. Drinking very well now but arguably might even be better in 3-4 years hence to tease out more tertiary elements. 90 points

Fife
Napa Valley, California
Fife Vineyard at Larkmead
Historic Block Les Vieilles Vignes
Zinfandel
1995
$11.99
No ABV listed
Filmy reddish clay hued core, the rims as yellow as orange, the whole thing looks washed out. The nose hints at some volatility but settles down into relaxed cedar, fallen pine cones, damp underbrush, and tar, for the most part any ripe or sweet seeming elements have faded into cherry, mixed berry fruit and honey to butterscotch, does not come close to forcing itself on you. Medium-bodied, here in the mouth it comes alive and there’s potpourri, nutmeg spice, hard toffee candy, and a steady stream of syrupy blueberry, cherry to strawberry fruit flavors. No tannin, no acidity, yet no flabby just a smooth sailing feel from start to finish, good integration. Drinks younger than its age and actually comes across as having a decent plateau ahead of it. 89 points

Emilio’s Terrace (Oak Knoll Vineyards)
Napa Valley, California
Reserve
Cabernet Sauvignon
1996
$30.99
13.5%
Opaque and cloudy looking black core, strong burning sunset reds and oranges throughout the wide rims, aged but vigorous. Relaxed nose of cedar, incense, pressed flowers and cherry, mixed dark berry fruit, clean and does not seem to be all that evolved, does lack some staying power though. Medium-bodied, nice compactness and few wasted words. That said, has retained a great bit of sweetness in the currant, cherry, blackberry fruit, sugary and fluid. The cedar and baking spices keep it sweet, touch minty too. The tannin resolved, mostly adds some textural weight but not much drying power. The oak seems more woody than sweet, maybe a dollop of caramel. While not excessively complex it is drinking extremely well and gives pleasure. 91 points

Costers del Siurana
Priorat, Spain
Miserere
Blend
2005
$28.99
14.5%
The core is mostly black with as much red in it as purple, close but just short of fully opaque, the rims are a heavy set and youthful brick red with a full orange aura. The nose produces pressed flowers, pencil shavings, black earth, cedar, licorice and toffee, a random assemblage of bass and treble, luckily the plum, cherry to blackberry fruit thickens at the end to lengthen the nostril presence, nothing here suggests a peaking wine. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied, the dryness complements the dryness to let it hold its shape. Doesn’t seem acidic at all but there’s green apple and apricot flavors among the cherry, plum to raspberry fruit. Belt leather, violets and asphalt notes vie for your attention with ginger root, driftwood and room temperature butter. Feels like it is just starting to awaken from a deep sleep and be capable of expressing itself. As a result, the finish is blunt if not reserved. 27% Grenache, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Tempranillo, 10% Merlot, 10% Cariñena. 89 points

Aupilhac, Domaine d’
Languedoc/Roussillon, France
Montpeyroux
La Boda
Blend
2014
$14.99
13.5%
Crimson to purple core, burnt red, youthfully bricking rims, vivid throughout and possessed of a sunny glow. Angular and penetrating nose of grapefruit pith, leather, merde and savory garden herbs, burnt dark chocolate and coffee notes as well, the cassis, plum to dark cherry fruit scents more wiry than juicy. Medium-bodied, the acidity gets your mouth salivating and contributes to a nicely fast pace through the mouth. Much more floral here and the white grapefruit partially defanged. Wet limestone with a thin patina of minerals, only starting to hint at developed animality. No problem with general level of the cherry, dark berry fruit but it gets bound up in the overall structure now. Quick best of bell pepper like herbaceousness at the end. Drinking well now but best likely 5-8 years hence. 50% Syrah, 50% Mourvèdre. 90 points

Lafarge Vial, Domaine
Beaujolais, France
Fleurie
Bel Air
Gamay Noir
2014
$35.99
12.5%
Dark ruby coloration that verges on scarlet, full rims, no cloudiness yet too dark to really feel transparent. The nose comes across as stern and steely, sour bois and untilled earth, damp leather, however, no volatility nor outright funk, the cherry, raspberry to blackberry scents juicy and lengthy, they are simply overpowered by the forest floor element. Full-bodied and here to it conveys a sense of power more than finesse, this without clumsiness. Broad tannic skeleton, milder supporting acidity. Good burst of white grapefruit to breathe tart life into the blackberry, cherry fruit. More sandy and minerally than earthy here, the weight does not mean undue density. Much more restrained forest like component, good purity. Finish is a touch succinct. Has the structure to age. 89 points

Swan, Joseph
Russian River Valley, California
Lone Redwood Ranch
Zinfandel
2004
$29.99
14.2%
Full matured and dusky, some purple left in the core with wide burnt red to orange rims, on the whole clear although lots of sediment on the bottle shoulder. At first the nose shows a great deal of volatility and rubber-like notes, like something went wrong at the very start, over time moderates into charred, smoked grill meats, witch hazel, rawhide and long fallen pine cones, the raspberry, blackberry scents lack power to hold their ground. Full-bodied, if for no other reason than it’s surly and stern nature, as if in full shut down mode. Extended air time does little to counter this, the acidity rough edged and puckering. Some grapefruit and mineral notes alongside the menthol and licorice. Smoke lingers through the finish and here too the mixed red fruits struggle to register. Really tests your patience. 86 points

Lathuilière-Gravallon, Domaine
Beaujolais, France
Morgon
Cuvée Prémium
Gamay Noir
2010
$17.99
13.0%
Dark crimson to blood red coloration, full right through to the rims, moderate surface shine. Bracingly sour nose of cranberry, red cherry fruit with a muddy earth to tar underpinning, this mild funkiness still able to overshadow the floral notes and black licorice, good overall fullness. Full-bodied, big mouth filler, possesses ample tannin which at times suggest a little phenolic underripeness. But not really close to green, more twiggy. Fine array of cherry, raspberry, watermelon to green apple fruit, more chunky than crisp. On the whole it’s more savory than sweet with leather, earth and cooking herb accents. Finish is short. Leaves a nagging impression of something missing, hard to pinpoint. 87 points

Battenfeld Spanier, Weingut
Rheinhessen, Germany
Hohen-Sülzen
QbA Trocken AP #19
Riesling
2013
$11.99
12.5%
Rich golden color that layers well into the glass, full rims and adequate surface reflectivity. Broad and muscular nose of warm rubber, orange marmalade, verbena and more minor notes of lactose, the fruit scents on the main pineapple, guava, apple to nectarine, only develops any honey to beeswax accents as it warms. Full-bodied, even more muscular here and borderline resistant, the acidity grabs you by the throat and does not let go. This makes the stone, slate notes more mute and dulls the length of the lemon, pink grapefruit citrus. The fruit similar here, green apple, pineapple, apricot pit and pear. Have to admire the level of energy but right now it wears you down quickly. Not showing signs of shutting down but for a young vines bottling this needs ample time to calm itself. 88 points

Farrell, Gary
Russian River Valley, California
Collins Vineyard
Zinfandel
1994
$11.99
Matured coloration, the purple mostly sapped out of the core in favor of brick red with more orange rust hues further out, clear and without filminess. Pine and menthol notes first up in the nose, creates good pacing and breeziness, then cedar, leather and campfire smoke, the raspberry, cherry scents seem to have lost some oomph and have a more reticent liqueur concentration. Medium-bodied, here too it has lost weight and thrust which allows for some tannic astringency to show. That said, the blueberry, raspberry to blackberry fruit no weakling and performs credibly before a slight drop off at the end. More stony earth and leather here, losing that pine and such. At times comes across like maybe there was a phenolic ripeness issue. Anyway, holding on well although zero sense waiting longer. 87 points

Epiré, Château d’
Loire, France
Anjou
Clos de la Cerisaie
Cabernet Franc
2014
$7.99
12.5%
Clear crimson-purple core, somewhat lighter scarlet red rims, sleek surface, overall coloration gives it a brooding look. Gargantuan bell pepper presence in the nose, relentless, black pepper and pulverized stone follow up to keep it active, as deep as it penetrates there’s a flatness to it, the cherry, dark berry fruit scents basic and without guile. Medium-bodied, good framing acidity from mouth entry through to the finish, whatever it may lack in resonance it has in mouthwatering cleanliness. The bell pepper still the first and final word, you had better like this element of Cabernet Franc or down the sink it goes. Here you can tease out some white grapefruit alongside tar, graphite and leather. Minor role only for the blackberry, currant fruit. Seems best suited as a chilled summertime lunch red. 87 points

Eddy, Tom
Napa Valley, California
VSR (Very Special Red)
Cabernet Sauvignon
2002
$46.99
14.4%
The purple core on the way to a more blackish cast, vibrant crimson to brick red rims, clean and shiny surface, looks aging but not aged. Controlled ripeness in the nose, cassis, cherry compote, blackberry with balancing cedar, leather and tarry earth, there’s some residual oak creaminess but mostly woven in by now, there’s no real stand out aroma, most remarkable for its impeccable harmony and grace. Medium-bodied, the tannin softened but has kick at the end. Same story here, super smooth and polished, the cedar really out in front, orange spice, tea leaf and leather. More red fruit here, red cherry and red currant with the blackberry, has lost zero juiciness. Subtle whipped cream, vanilla to fresh butter accents. Hard to see it improving with more age, real crowd pleaser now. 90 points

Renwood
Amador County, California
Grandpère
Zinfandel
2001
$23.99
15.5%
Even at the core remarkably clear, if black can get washed out then here it is, the broad rims a succession of red to orange to yellow, spotless and verging on fiery. The nose seems muted with nuts, soy, tarry earth and a glimpse of rubber, the fruit has a syrupy concentration but the raspberry, cherry scents lack thrust. Medium-bodied, loses grip now and then, not necessarily as a flaw but as a sign of a more natural ebb and flow. Has certainly reached the raisin, fig, date part of the show, traces of cherry, blueberry add volume, sugary without undue wetness. Nutty and honeyed with mentholated bursts, no volatility and smooth insofar as it covers the palate like waves on the shore. Not a lot of unfocused energy, more alertly relaxed and just sitting on the dock of the bay. 89 points

Clau de Nell (Anne Claude Leflaive)
Loire, France
Indication Géographique Protégée Vin de Pays du Val de Loire
Grolleau
2011
$17.99
12.5%
Dusky purple core, opaque, brick red rims of decent width, surface has pleasing reflectivity. Bright and active nose of violets, black peppercorns, mown grass, sandy earth and gunflint, the cherry, Italian plum to cranberry fruit scents have rigor to spare. Medium to full-bodied, starts to layer itself and soak in but the tannin fierce enough to dry things out quickly. Retains the prettier violets led florality and adds in grapefruit zest for added lift. The gunflint and sauna stone element persists, drop off in pepperiness as well as grassiness. The fruit darker in complexion, plum, blueberry and blackberry, credible juiciness given the tannin. Leathery finish. The sum greater than the parts here, generalized satisfaction. 90 points

Ravenswood
Napa Valley, California
Dickerson Vineyard
Zinfandel
1991
$29.99
14.2%
If there’s such a thing the core is a washed out black, opaque by default, much more going on via rust red hues of red, orange and yellow, looks its age. The nose is rife with cow patties, flatulent gas and tilled black soil then soy sauce, cedar, and patchouli oil, the prune, fig to plum, cherry scents struggle to be heard, extended air time does little to change things. Medium-bodied, still tannic but not excessively gritty, here it does an entire about face and redeems itself. Loaded with sweet plum, blackberry, currant fruit as well as sweet cedar and pine. Quick spark from orange to mixed citrus. Savory herbs, sage, coriander and parsley. Even some caramel left. Some tar, merde and asphalt oil slick elements, however, not enough to upset the ascendancy of the fruit. If you can tolerate the funk it’s hitting all the other right buttons. 90 points

Vestini Campagnano, Azienda Agricola
Campania, Italy
Terre del Volturno
Pallagrello Nero
2009
$17.99
13.5%
From a distance looks thicker but up close the clarity is evident, blackish purple core with a heavy set rust red outer rim, one of those “brooders.” Smoky nose with ash and a whole lot of rain soaked leather, tarry earth and rich rhubarb, cherry and red berry fruit, keeps unfurling new layers inside your nostrils, pungent. Full-bodied and close to portly in its bearing, broad tannins that blanket rather than clench or grip. Powdered chocolate, lilacs, pine, and all that candied cherry, raspberry fruit forestall the volcanic ash and smoke, fun interplay between fruit and more “terroir based” components. As it opens butterscotch flavors take more ground. The lilacs dominate any retronasal effect. Very good distinct personality and leaves you unsurprised it is Campanian. 90 points

Davis Family Vineyards
Napa Valley, California
Cabernet Sauvignon
2005
$28.99
14.3%
Fully opaque core, more black than purple, heavy set crimson rims, dark and menacing. While the nose does offer up some leather and sandalwood incense as well as a few notes of bell pepper it is basically a gusher of fruit, all blackberry, blueberry to plum, the only thing able to distract consistently might be the caramel, toffee accents. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied with a snug layering on the tongue, the tannin only slightly drying and mostly woven in. Not a wine for diabetics, it is incredibly sweet and close to port-like intensity, plum/prune, blackberry, cassis jelly. The oak brings mint, butterscotch and floral nuances. Soft finish finds it soaking in further rather than lifting or scrubbing. Does not seem to have evolved much and probably won’t. The fruit should be on a lengthy plateau. 88 points

Or et de Gueules, Château d’
Rhône, France
Costières de Nîmes
Cuvée Trassegum
Blend
2000
$8.99
13.5%
Not filmy per se but the black core reaches opacity, the clarity more evident in the burnt orange to washed our red brick colors, all visual signs point to a well aged wine. Wet fur, horsehide, leather and muddy earth make for a semi-volatile nose, kind of lurches on you, roasted cocoa powder, pressed flowers, the plum, black currant fruit never quite finds its bearings. Full-bodied, violets, licorice and candied orange peel add needed prettiness yet that volatility present on the palate too and makes it hiccup. Peanut shells, mocha, shoe polish combine with wet wool, leather and merde for a turbulent ride, No real tannic dryness nor acidic bite. Plenty of fruit to go around, plum, cherry, blackberry, green apple, wet and juicy. Hard to tell if it was calmer in its youth, probably was not intended to get to this age. 50% Syrah, 25% Carignan, 25% Mourvèdre. 87 points

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