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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 March 2018

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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Sent to Their Grave in February 2018

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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Sent to Their Grave in January 2018

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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