Saturday, June 29, 2024

Zaca Mesa Eight Barrel Syrah 2017

Zaca Mesa Eight Barrel Syrah 2017

Hosting grandson Miles for the day, Linda grilled a pizza on the deck and wanted a big bold Syrah for a 'pizza' wine.

It’s ironic how often we open a wine under circumstances that are a repeat of an earlier similarly situated tasting. Such was the case tonight when this was an almost identical re-occurance nearly two years to the day/date of this blogpost excerpted below - .

Zaca Mesa Eight Barrel Syrah 2017

Linda grilled a pizza on the deck and wanted a big bold Syrah for a 'pizza' wine. 

I pulled from the cellar this Santa Ynez Valley Syrah we discovered, tasted and acquired during our Zaca Mesa Winery and Vineyards Visit during our Santa Barbara County Wine Experience earlier that spring. We joined their wine club and received this as part of our inaugural wine club shipment of a select mixed case from that visit. 

Eight Barrel Syrah derives its name from an anomalous practice employed during its first vintage back in 1993. As part of an experiment from the inquisitive nature of then winemaker, Daniel Gehrs, rather than crushing the grapes, allowing fermentation, pressing the grape skins and stems – or pomace – to extract all juice, and then moving the wine into barrel for aging, that Eight Barrel Syrah was crafted by first allowing the wine juice to freely run out of the fermentation tanks off the grape skins and stems without pressing the pomace to release trapped wine. He then allowed the remaining trapped juice to slowly drain overnight into a separate collection, gradually extracting deep color and flavor from the grape skins. The collected volume of wine from that first vintage filled just eight barrels, and so it was christened “Eight Barrel”, a new and distinct bottling of Syrah. 

That wine’s opulent style created somewhat of a cult following that grew each year, the demand quickly and vastly exceeding a mere eight barrels. Hence, they no longer limit production to just eight barrels of the label. They do retain the branding in remembrance of the eight barrels of wine that started the tradition. Eight Barrel today, is one of our Zaca Mesa's most sought after wines, which they work to  craft a more hedonistic style to round out their portfolio of Syrah offerings.

Zaca Mesa Eight Barrel Syrah 2017

This is 100% Shiraz sourced from Santa Ynez appellation estate vineyards, Mesa vineyard Blocks B & A and Chapel vineyard Block G. 

It was aged 19 months in 8% new French Oak.

Winemaker notes for the 2017 Eight Barrel Syrah: "The aromatics (of the 2017 Eight Barrel Syrah) are lifted by tones of juicy plum and caramelized cinnamon, followed by an underlying element of seasoned firewood. The burly personality of this wine is evident upon the first sip, broadly covering the palate and offering an abundance of both red and blue fruits. The texture evolves as opulent tannins settle into a persistent finish of cured meats and dried cranberry."

This release was rated 92 points by Wine Enthusiast.  

Dark inky purple colored, medium-full bodied, black raspberry and plum fruits accented by spice, sage, black tea and tobacco notes.

RM 89 points.

Zaca Mesa Winery Twitter - @ZacaMesa_Wine

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Sarget de Gruaud 2006

Château Gruaud Larose Sarget de Gruaud Larose

Settling in to watch the Presidential Debates I pulled from the cellar a vintage Bordeaux to sip with a collection of artisan cheeses, charcuterie, fresh berries, nuts and roasted beets.

Château Gruaud Larose is one of the most historic estates in the Médoc and was on our select set of St Julien producers we targeted to visit during our trip to the region.

This is the second label of a producer we know well with the flagship premiere label being one of the key holdings in our cellar collection consisting of more than a dozen vintages spanning three decades dating back to 1980 including the birth year vintages of each of our kids, 1981, 1982, 1985 and 1990. 

We hold many vintages in large format bottles including 3 liter double magnums and a five liter Jeroboam that we served at daughter Erin's and son-in-law Johnny's wedding in this label’s vintage year 2006.

Indeed, our collection of large format bottles was one of the keys to our cellar collection being featured in Wine Spectator Magazine’s Collector section back in June of 2001.

Our visit to Chateau was one of the highlights our visit to the St Julien region of Bordeaux back in 2019. I wrote about that visit and featured this producer in detail in these pages in this blogpost at that time - 

This label is the second wine of Gruaud Larose, named for the Sarget family, historic early ancestral owners of the estate. It  provides value and near-term drinkability for those looking for a classic though ripe St-Julien. Named after Baron Jean Auguste Sarget, one of the men who purchased the Gruaud-Larose property in 1812 and whose family managed the estate for the following fifty years. 

Over the next century, the estate would be divided, with a portion being controlled by the Sarget family. The estate has since been reunited and the château that Sarget built stands as the centerpiece of the property. The estate introduced the second wine in 1979.

Label from vintage tasted
at the Chateau,
This, the second wine of Gruaud Larose, provides value and near-term drinkability for those looking for a classic though ripe St-Julien. Named after Baron Jean Auguste Sarget, one of the men who purchased the Gruaud-Larose property in 1812 and whose family managed the estate for the following fifty years.

Over the next century, the estate would be divided, with a portion being controlled by the Sarget family. The estate has since been reunited and the château that Sarget built stands as the centerpiece of the property. The estate introduced the second wine in 1979.

This is a classic Left Bank Bordeaux Blend of predominant Cabernet Sauvignon, 60%, Merlot, 30%, Cabernet Franc 5.5%, Petit Verdot 3% and Malbec 1.5%.

Tonight, this was a bit disappointing and didn’t meet my expectations. At eighteen years, the label, foil and importantly the cork and fill level were all perfect. This showed no diminution of age whatsoever and I thought it would be at the apex of its drinking profile and window, and perhaps it was. 

Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, somewhat flabby and disjointed black currant fruit were overshadowed by notes of tobacco, cedar, leather, earth and smoke with a modest somewhat muted fruit finish. 

RM 87 points.

A Visit to Château Gruaud-Larose

Monday, June 24, 2024

David Arthur DAV Proprietary Red Blend 2016

David Arthur “DAV” Proprietary Red Blend 2016

Monday night dining at son Alec and D-in-law Vivianna’s, we ordered pizza’s from Pizza Monday Nights at Gia Mia in Naperville. 

Alec opened up his cellar for a red wine and I selected this Proprietary Red Blend, an introduction to a relatively new label from one of our long timer favored producers. 

Our CellarTracker records show we hold more than three cases of 20 different labels from David Arthur. We visited the estate up on Pritchard Hill Atlas Peak during our Napa Wine Experience back in 2013 as featured in these pages in this blogpost - David Arthur Napa Valley Estate Vineyards and Winery.

I got to share with Alec how it is that we have fun with this label since David Arthur is actually named for the grandfather of the owner/producer Long Family - a family affair consisting of three generations of the Long family, who over the years acquired the mountain land to raise cattle. 

Today it is co-owned and operated by brothers David and Bob along with Joye Long, with David acting as General Manager and his daughter Laura runs the office and daily operations.

Not coincidentally, we were joined that trip by Sister and Bro-in-law Pat and Rodger, so wife Linda (nee) Long and Pat (nee) Long, daughters of Indiana cattle farmer Ned Long would be with us on this trip.

In addition to wife Linda and I being joined on this Napa trip by sister/sister-in-law Pat (Long), so it was only fitting we saved our David Arthur visit until this Long reunion trip together. The family reunion continued with a visit from Pat and Linda's niece Becky (nee) Long who lived near Napa and brought her family down to join us for a day in the region.

Farmer (in-law) Ned Long's daughters, Pat and
Linda at David Arthur Long Ranch
In addition to wife Linda and I being joined on this Napa trip by sister/sister-in-law Pat (Long), so it was only fitting we saved our David Arthur visit until this Long reunion trip together. The family reunion continued with a visit from Pat and Linda's niece Becky (nee) Long who lived near Napa and brought her family down to join us for a day in the region.

During that estate visit and tasting, we tasted the portfolio of David Arthur Bordeaux varietal labels. This label, a Bordeaux Blend, was not released until three years later in 2016, however. 

Since Alec acquired a case of this label, he shared with me two bottles for our David Arthur collection, which I’ll exchange for like kind labels of equal value from our cellar. 

David Arthur DAV Proprietary Red Blend 2016

David Arthur’s website writes about this label. “ After nearly forty years of farming grapes on our Pritchard Hill Estate, we are pleased to announce the launch of the Next Generation of David Arthur Vineyards wine ~ DAV. We have created a new, modern wine that represents the bold personality found in each and every bottle of our Estate wines. This Bordeaux-style blend allows us to weave together the rich, concentrated elegance and power of our mountain-grown Bordeaux varietals as well as the best of surrounding vineyards within the Napa Valley. The wine is aged an average of 20 months in French oak barrels, blended with meticulous care and bottled at our vineyard estate. The result is a complex array of aromas and flavors that deliver plush, mouth-filling structure with soft, elegant tannins.” 

David Arthur’s brilliant winemaker Nile Zacherle crafts this new Proprietary Red which is available for a fraction of their iconic ultra-premium labels such as the 2007 Elevation 1147 Cabernet (Parker’s top 1147 vintage), which sells for $275 and up, yet rivals them in ratings!

Wine Spectator called Pritchard Hill “the Rodeo Drive of Napa Valley” and Wine Enthusiast says the area is “producing among the most profound wines in Napa Valley”. David Arthur sits in proximity to legendary neighbors Chappellet, Dalla Valle, Ovid, Bryant Family, and Colgin – labels often selling for a $1,000 or more. What a great value wine at less than $100!

Winemakers notes for this release - “A dark cerise color offering an array of fruit and spice aromas; bright cherry, red raspberry, baked cassis, and plum followed by notes of anise, baking spices, garrigue and cherry cola. The palate is soft and plush with fine-grained tannins offering beautiful acidity and structure. The finish is long and silky with flavors of candied plum, tamarind, brown sugar and molasses. Best 2018 to 2027.”

This release is from powerful 2016 vintage, rated a record high 98-point harvest according to Wine Advocate. It is an interesting and intriguing blend of Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and Italian grapes Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. David Arthur creatively crafted their Meritaggio Brand/label combining Sangiovese with the Bordeaux grapes. We’ve collected and still hold several vintages of that label dating back to 1997.

This was a great compliment to the pasta and pizza and begs for a grilled beefsteak. 

This label release was rated 94 Points by James Suckling, 90 points by Vinous and International Wine Cellar, and 89-92 points by Jeb Dunnuck

Dark ruby garnet colored, medium to full bodied, complex, nicely balanced and integrated, full, round, bright vibrant lively ripe sweet black and red fruit flavors accented by notes of cassis, spice and tobacco with a long and flavorful finish.

RM 93 points. 

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Tensley Santa Barbara Syrah 2022

Tensley Santa Barbara Syrah 2022

Saturday night, we babysat for grandkids as the kids attended cooking class at Sur La Table. We took carry-out dinners from Mariano’s and a favored producer latest release wine. 

We first discovered and wrote about this producer, Tensley, and the then release of this wine in this blogpost in these pages back in the Spring of 2022 - Tensley Santa Barbara County Wines.

While we are members of their wine club and receive periodic allocation shipments, we found this release and acquired it at our local Binny’s Beverage superstore. 

This exceeded my expectations, was much better than expected, a perfect compliment to bbq ribs and roasted corn, so I went back and picked up several more bottles. We have an extensive collection of Tensley wines from our wine club shipments, and we tend to clean them out of all the available Tensley Colson Canyon label when we visit Total Wine stores in Nora, (Indy) and Pensacola. 

This is their basic standard label, a blend sourced from their five different vineyard sites, it provides enjoyable drinking and good value for this quality Syrah - a profile and style that we love. A perfect compliment to BBQ or robust pasta or hearty cheeses. 

Winemaker notes - “The Santa Barbara County Syrah is a beautiful representation of the diverse vineyards all around the appellation. These grapes are coming from five unique vineyards, in which some are cool and fog-influenced, while others are dry and windy. The resulting wine celebrates all that each microclimate and soils has to offer creating a big, juicy, up-front, and full-bodied style carrying blue fruits, lots of peppery herb nuances, sweet tannins, and a great finish.” 

In 2020, the winemaker wrote about this label - 2020 Winemaker Notes: "Every year the vineyard percentages change, yet the style remains the same. In 2020 we introduced Laird Vineyard to the blend. By adding this vineyard we continue to work with sandy cool sites to add freshness and savory notes to the final blend.'

"We add complexity and power by including all of our single vineyard Syrah sources. At the end of the day, this wine is both powerful and fresh. It beams with bright acidy and saline notes, rounding out with blue and black fruits to make it generous, juicy and easy to drink. It will age 7-10 years, but do not hesitate to open and enjoy its freshness today."

Decanter gave this 94 points & "Top Buy: America's 30 Best Syrahs", and says, “it's an accessibly priced introduction to the diversity of Santa Barbara County.” It also received 92-94 points by Jeb Dunnuck who said, “A year-in, year-out smoking wine”, and 93 points Erin Brooks of Wine Advocate.

Dark inky ruby purple colored, full bodied, rich thick ripe concentrated unctuous yet nicely balanced and approachable, black and blue fruits with savoury black pepper, olives, cassis and dark chocolate with smooth tannins and texture on a long finish. 

RM 92 points. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Woman’s Social Group Argentine Wine Tasting

Woman’s Social Group Wine Tasting Features Argentine Wines

Linda’s social organization’ s wine group held a wine tasting focused on Argentine wines and I was invited to curate the evening. 

Hostess Linda S prepared an extensive selection of charcuterie for pairing with the wines - cheese, chocolates, sliced beef, chicken wings and fresh berries, mixed nuts and vegetables.

Each of the ladies brought a bottle to share and compare and Julie also brought a couple of Argentine White Wines to set the stage and open the evening. 

The red wine flight
The ladies and their wines

The main wine flight featured an interesting selection that included the signature Argentine varietal Malbec as well as a couple of Bordeaux varietal blends. 

Argentina has emerged as a major wine producing region in the ‘new world’ due to its remarkable combination and wide range of natural resources and landscapes suited for wine production.

The primary and most important wine producing province of Argentina is Mendoza. The proximity to the Andes mountain range defines the climate in the area, which is ideal for viticulture. The lack of humid winds, blocked by the Andes mountains , the altitude, the continental climate, the heterogeneity of the soils and the snowmelt are determining factors in the production of premium wines.

Malbec is the predominant grape varietal grown in Argentina although all of the Bordeaux varietals are grown there - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, as well as Syrah and some limited amounts of Burgundian varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and, some lesser known unique varietals such as Ancellotta, Caladoc and Torrontes, featured below, that are well suited to the locale and terroir.  

We had a spectacular ultra-premium Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina Malbec last year, a project of an American producer, that rivaled the best American and French wines, so I was open to high expectations, albeit being mindful and realistic of the price points of these more standard selections. I wrote about that top rated wine - Viña Cobos, Vineyard Designate Malbec, Marchiori Estate, Luján de Cuyo, Argentina, 2019 in this blogpost in these pages.

Several major French Bordeaux, as well as American producers have invested in the region. As they gain more experience and learn from research and results, watch for quality and sophistication of these wines to continue to improve. In the meantime, they provide some great wines with generally high QPR - quality to price ratios.

We started with two diverse white wines.

Zolo Torrontes 2021

This Argentinian white wine is comprised of Torrontes, an Argentine varietal white grape.  This winery is owned by Argentine wine luminary Patricia Ortiz, owner of three Argentine wineries, one of Mendoza’s top ambassadors to the world and in 2019, she was the first female President of Bodegas de Argentina, the leading trade association. She is profiled further as part of the review of her Wapisa Winery below.

Winemaker Notes - “Pale yellow with green hues. Delicate aromas of floral and citrus notes. On the palate is fresh, sweet and balanced. An excellent example of Torrontes.”

This was rated 90 points by reviewer James Suckling. 

I found this a slight bit off-putting with aromas of tennis ball rubber and a rather flabby character. Light straw colored, light medium bodied, notes of lychee and citrus fruits with hints of peach and pineapple with a crisp acidic finish. 

RM 87 points. 

We then moved to this interesting White instantiation of the traditional varietal of Argentina, Malbec.

Artesano de Argento Mendoza Agrelo White Malbec 2023

Julie brought this interesting white Malbec to try with the focus on Argentina and their predominance of the grape varietal Malbec. 

This is a white Malbec from the Agrelo Vineyard in the area of the same name in the subregion of Lujan de Cuyo in the Mendoza region.

It was rated 90 points by James Suckling and 89 points by Vinous. 

Pale straw and light green colored, light medium bodied, notes of green apple with hints of lime citrus and peach with crisp dry finish. 

RM 88 points.

Moving to the reds, we started with the two  Bordeaux Blends since their increased breadth and complexity required more discernment than the bigger, deeper and bolder single varietal labels. 

Clos de los Sieti Valle di Ucca Mendoza by Michel Rolland 

This was a delightful discovery brought by Treva and I was eager to try this wine crafted by Michael Rolland. It was recommended to her by a friend who knows the region and its wines well having visited and worked in wineries in the region as part of a personal sabbatical. 

This is a collaboration project of seven producers, friends and investors, spearheaded by legendary iconic Global wine expert Michael Rolland. It was founded in 1998 when Rolland and members of seven prominent French wine families purchased Campo Vista Flores and began producing wine at four distinct wineries there— Bodega Diamandes, Bodega Monteviejo, Mariflor, and Cuvelier los Andes. The original investors included Laurent Dassault, Benjamin de Rothschild, Edmond de Rothschild, Philippe Schell, Jean-Michel Arcaute, Catherine Pere-Verge, and the d’Aulan and Cuvelier families.

Michel Rolland is known globally as the "flying winemaker" due to his extensive travels as a consultant working for more than 150 wineries in fourteen countries on four continents in the northern and southern hemispheres. We love and collect his wines through his involvement with several producers including the Long Shadows Collector Series where he is contributing winemaker with the Pedestal, Merlot label. It was the showcase feature of this blogpost - Long Shadows Cellars feature world class winemakers and Columbia Valley fruit.

Born into a wine family in Bordeaux, Rolland grew up at Château Le Bon Pasteur in Pomerol. He graduated in 1972 with a degree in enology at the University of Bordeaux, where he met his wife and future partner, Dany. They established a wine laboratory and began consulting in 1985 serving far-flung notable clients such as Château l’Evangile, Château Figeac and Château La Conseillante in France, Harlan, Staglin, Screaming Eagle and Bond in the US, Italian producers Campo di Sasso, Ornellaia, and  Monteverro, and others in South Africa, Spain, India, and Casa Lapostolle in Chile and this project in Argentina.

Michel Rolland first went to Argentina in 1988 and fell in love with the country, convinced that all the conditions were right in Argentina to grow premier grapes from which to produce great wine.

Along with Jean Michel Arcaute, another Bordeau winegrower from Pomerol, they found an ideal plot of land about 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Mendoza, the last city before reaching the Andes. Sitting at an altitude of 1,100 meters (3,600 feet), with soils made up of pebbles, clay and sand, which provides natural drainage with water from springs fed by melting snow and glaciers up in the Andes Mountains.

There they developed 2100 acres of vines where the roots penetrate the meter deep bed of gravel at the foot of the Andes Mountains, in the Uco Valley near Mendoza. 

The two originators were joined by winegrower friends to set out to producing one single wine under Michel Rolland’s supervision. They built four bodegas and shared production from each to make and blend the shared wine “Clos de los Siete”, the name and label recognize and commemorate the seven partners. The remaining production goes into the wines of their own respective ranges: Monteviejo, Cuvelier los Andes, DiamAndes and Bodega Rolland.

We’ve had the wines of Cuvelier los Andes, being fans of their classified premiere Bordeau Chateau Leoville Poyferre. We toured Château Leoville Poyferré in St Julien Bordeaux during our visit to the region, hence we were eager to taste this label from this producer collaboration.
Malbec, which is the king of all grape varieties in Argentina, has been found to be best suited and therefore an obvious choice for these soil types. It occupies more than half the total area of the estate and is planted at an unusual density of 5,500 vines per hectare which provide rich concentrated fruit. To add complexity to the blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and a little less Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc are used alongside the Malbec. Each variety contributes its characteristic personality to the final blend.

This release of the estate wine Clos de Los Siete is composed or 55% Malbec, 16% Merlat, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Syrah, 3% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. 800,000 bottles were made.

Winemaker Notes - “Clos de los Siete's extraordinary terroir, with well-drained sandy-clay soil complemented by a good density of pebbles, has the particularity of containing the vines' growth and ensuring perfect maturity. The 2020 vintage has a deep ruby-red color and aromas of black fruit and plums combined with delicate floral notes. The palate is pleasantly powerful, with good length and elegant, silky tannins.”

This release was awarded 94 points by James Suckling and 91 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

This was bright Ruby colored, medium bodied, complex but nicely balanced and harmonious, ripe currant and blackberry fruits with notes of mineral, glycerin, herbs, creosote and dark bitter mocha chocolate, hints of pepper, cinnamon and vanilla, with soft smooth polished tannings on the moderate finish. 

RM 91 points.

We then tasted the other Bordeau blend comprised of three varietals. 

Mascato Mendoza Unánime Gran Vino Tinto 2018 

Julie brought this Cabernet Sauvignon based Bordeaux Blend from Mascota Vineyards in the San Carlos zone toward the southern end of the Uco ValleyMendoza, Argentina at the foot of the Andes Mountain range. Proprietor Rodolfo Sadler launched Mascota in Mendoza and has been crafting wines for nearly 30 years. 

Rodolfo “Opi” Sadler is a third generation Argentine winemaking pioneer known for his expertise in Cabernet Sauvignon in a country renowned for the quality of its Malbec. In 2018, Opi´s La Mascota Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 was named World’s Best Red Wine in the French competition Vinalies Internationales.

In addition to his award-winning highly rated Cabernet master winemaker Opi also produces a portfolio that includes Malbec, the leading varietal of Argentina, Bordeaux varietal Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The Unánime label is his signature Cabernet, named for his “vision to produce wines that seek complete harmony and excellence, with an unbeatable quality reflected in each and every bottle. When this vision is shared by our team of winemakers, and endorsed by critics and consumers, the decision is Unanimous (Unánime).”

This release is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Malbec and 15% Cabernet Franc and was aged fifteen months in oak barrels. . 

James Suckling gave this wine 95 points and 91 points from Wine Enthusiast. 
Dark ruby colored, medium full bodied, bold, expressive, complex, concentrated black berry fruits with notes of vanilla, spices, pepper, tobacco and chocolate with hints of cassis and toasted oak, silky tannins and crisp acidity on the lingering finish. 

RM 90 points.

Familia Zuccardi “Concreto” Malbec Mendoza 2021 

This is from the Zuccardi Family Winery in MaipúMendoza, Argentina. Today it is run by winemaker Sebastián Zuccardi whose grandfather planted the first grapevines in 1963 and has grown to become a leader in Argentine wine production.

From his father, José Alberto Zuccardi, Sebastián inherited the determination and desire to constantly strive for excellence.

Sebastián, third generation of the family, follows his father, José Alberto Zuccardi, leading a team of agricultural engineers and enologists, in producing some of the the highest quality wines in the Uco Valley.

The winery has had a research and development area since 2008, dedicated to studying the terroir and the diverse variables that affect wine quality. The goal, in Sebastián’s own words, is “not to strive for perfect wines, but wines that express the place, the region.”

The Zuccardi family have been exploring and experimenting with the potential of Malbec in the winery with new fermentation and aging vessels, and in the vineyard by challenging the accepted wisdom of the limits of viticulture and have moved their vines (and winery) closer to the Andes. 

This label, Concreto is named for their method of fermenting and aging the wine in Concrete (Concreto) and Amphora vessels in which they strive to express Malbec and their vineyards. They see it as a true expression of the limestone rich vineyards in the Paraje Altamira subregion with its distinctive “terroir”, that combination of elevation, sun exposure and the poor uniquely mineral soils. 

This is 100% Malbec, sourced from a 140 acre vineyard located next to their Piedra Infinita winery in Paraje Altamira, San Carlos, Valle de Uco at an altitude of 3000 feet. The area has been cultivated for more than eighty years and irrigated with waters from the Uco Channel, in the northern part of Paraje Altamira. In addition to Malbec it is also planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Ancellotta and Caladoc, other regional varietals. 

It was rated 95 by James Suckling, Vinous and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and 92 by Wine Spectator and was wine #43 of the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2022.

They produced 47,000 bottles in this vintage. 

I don’t understand the huge ratings for this wine unless they are highlighting its purity. I was expecting more fruit. 

Deep purple and garnet colored, medium full bodied, smooth polished textured layers of ripe blue and black berry fruits accented by spice, herbs, mineral, black pepper notes with soft chalky tannins and acidity on the moderate finish. 

RM 90 points. 

Luca Uco Valley Mendoza Old Vine Malbec 2019

This is produced by Laura Catena, a fourth generation winemaker, daughter of legendary Argentine winermaker Nicolás Catena. In 1997 Laura, a Harvard and Stanford trained Biologist and Physician, joined Bodega Catena Zapata as Research Director. She learned there was a site with 80 year old vines from which the fruit that were being sold for bulk wine. In 1999, Laura Catena founded Luca Winery to explore the quality potential of small Old Vine family owned vineyards in the Uco Valley region of Mendoza.

She produces small quantity artisan, quality wines that are true to their individual terroirs. She works with some of Argentina's best fruit from low-yield, high elevation vineyards, applies state-of-the-art winemaking and oak aging, primarily French.  She applies rigorous vineyard management, viticultural experimentation, and strict irrigation controls to seek highest quality achievable. 

As a scientist she is devoted to the handicrafts of enology and viticulture. The rear label of her bottles set out her vision and quest - “Championing Argentine Wine, Studying High Altitude Wine-making, Discovering Mountain Terroir and the Quality of Light, Preserving Nature and Culture, Understanding Soil down to each Rock, insect, microbe, and Malbec Vine - Making Extraordinary Wines - Making History.”

She also produces Syrah, Beso de Dante, Malbec, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.

This label, Luca, is named after Laura Catena's son. The branding on the label is the family crest of her husband, Dan’s McDermott family. 

Winemaker Notes - This is a great example of Mendoza Malbec. Incredible deep purple red color. Loads of spice and black and red cherry aromas with notes of chocolate. The berry flavors really pop on the palate as the wine has both a full mid palate and lively acidity that leads to an incredibly long finish. A bottom note of freshly brewed espresso keeps the mouth watering too.

This was rated 95 points by James Suckling, 93 points by Wine Spectator, 92 by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. 

It was #21 Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2021.
Dark ruby garnet colored, medium full bodied, rich, round, deep and intense ripe unctuous blackberry fruits reflect the old vine character with notes of licorice, pepper, spice and bitter dark chocolate with hints of espresso with refined plush tannins and vibrant acidity on the finish. 

RM 91 points. 

Antigal Uno Malbec 2020 

Antigal is one of the oldest wineries in Mendoza in production, tracing its roots as far back as 1897 when the original facilities were established in the historic colonial architecture.

The winery was completely refurbished in 2000 changing the producing profile from bulk to high quality premium wines by the current proprietors with the establishment of what is now Antigal winery and vineyards. The vineyards were planted in 2000 to 2003.

The winery’s first vintage was released in 2005, what has become its signature wine, branded number One or Uno in recognition of its Single Vineyard production. 

The company started exporting to the US market in 2007 and has established itself as a recognized brand for high QPR - Quality Price Ratio, quality Argentina grown Malbec, with its distinctive, characteristic metal number 1 affixed to the painted bottle. 

This is 100% Malbec sourced from the estate vineyard in Gualtallary, Tupungato in the Uco Valley, Mendoza. Sitting at an altitude of 3900 feet, the light, deep soils retain what little moisture they can, aided by drip irrigation from wells fed by the snow melt from the Andes Mountains. Average annual rainfall in the area is only about 7 inches.

This release was aged 8-10 months in French and American oak..

Winemaker Notes - “The 2020 vintage of Antigal UNO Malbec offers delicious plum, strawberry, and blackberry flavors with enticing hints of violets, vanilla, and milk chocolate. Brightened by carefully protected natural acidity, this violet-red wine has a silky texture and provides an agreeably persistent finish.”

“The exceptionally soft winemaking of hand-selected Malbec grapes from Antigal’s Uco Valley vineyards was made possible by the winery’s gravity-flow system. The care taken through all stages of the process from initial cluster-chilling through sorting, maceration, fermentation, and barrel aging — produced an unusually elegant Malbec with great balance and supple tannins.”

This release was rated  89 points by Wine Spectator.

Garnet colored, medium-bodied, plum and blackberry fruits are highlighted by violet floral notes with  subtle vanilla, mineral and rich dark chocolate notes on the firm finish.

RM 89 points. 

We closed out with this unique label.

Wapiso Rio Negro Patagonia Malbec 2022

This Argentine Malbec is from Patagonia, the village of  San Javier in the Rio Negro sub-region of Patagonia, in southern Argentina, just 25 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Patagonia’s wine regions are so far south, they’re the southernmost regions in the world. 

Patagonia is home to three important sub-regions, Rio Negro, Neuquén and La Pampa. Since the 1990s, there’s been an explosion of investment in the region that has attracted some of the biggest names in international premium winemaking. Río Negro is the only one that had any viticultural history before the 1990s. While its vineyard area is declining as growers swap quality for quantity, the vineyard land increased by 82 percent in the Neuquén subregion and by 73 percent in the La Pampa subregion between 2002 and 2012. 

The producer Wapisa is the only Coastal Winery that exists in this unique coastal terroir and is the only winery in Argentina to age wines under the sea inspired coastal influences. 

Wapisa is owned by Argentine entrepreneur Patricia Ortiz who is the owner and President of three wineries (Tapiz, Zolo (featured above), and Wapisa), and nine sustainably-farmed vineyards in different parts of Argentina. She was the first female president of Bodegas de Argentina, the industry trade group.

Patricia is also the owner of Mendoza's top lodging and spa destination: Club Tapiz. Club Tapiz is located in an estate built in 1890 surrounded by 22 acres of vineyards.

Patricia, who lived many years in the U.S. and speaks fluent English, is one of Mendoza’s top ambassadors to the world. In 2019 she became the first female President of Bodegas de Argentina and in 2023 she was nominated by Wine Enthusiast as Executive of the Year.

With Wapisa and its close proximity to the sea, Patricia Ortiz decided to incorporate the ocean into the aging process taking advantage of the pressurized atmosphere with its moderated constant temperatures that provide perfect conditions for aging wines.

The Wapisa estate vineyard “Finca Los Acantilados” stands out for its lime clay soils, good acidity and little organic matter. The terroir is complemented by the outstanding thermal amplitude, highlighted by cool maritime breezes that sweep over the vineyards at night, leading to balanced and fruity wines with a touch of salinity and a delicate varietal expression. Master of Wine Tim Atkin calls this “the new Argentina.”

The region’s best vineyards are in High Valley, one of three valleys formed by the Colorado River. They’re planted on Andean foothill slopes between 300 and 500 meters (985 to 1,640 feet) above sea level, which allows the grapes to be cooled by Andean winds rather than altitude. Patagonia’s wide diurnal temperature swings also make it an inviting region for white varieties as well.

The popular white varieties are Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay with a distinct regional flair. While Patagonia’s predominant grape is Malbec, Argentina’s signature red grape, comprising about 40 percent of the more than 11,000 acres of cultivated vineyards, in Río Negro, Malbec is less than a quarter of its total production, with the rest being the white varietals.

“Wapisa” is the indigenous Patagonian word for “whale.” Not only do whales frequent the nearby coast of our vineyards, but local legend talks of a Wapisa that actually lived on land. Living the legend, Wapisa wines are an expression not just of their soils but of the nearby ocean and its coastal marine influences.

In addition to their primary label, Malbec, Wapisa also produce Cabernet Sauvignon, some Pinot Noir and white wine Sauvignon Blanc. 

Their 2022 Malbec was rated 94 points by James Suckling.

Winemaker Notes - “Bright red color with intense violet tints. Aromas of fruits such as black plums and blackberries stand out. The aging in oak provides spicy and chocolate aromas. The palate is complex and tasty with ripe tannins and a balanced acidity.”

Bright Ruby colored, medium bodied, round and vibrant yet smooth and delicately balanced black and blue berry fruits are accented by cassis, pepper, lavender and notes of mocha chocolate and spice with hints of mint on a moderate fine tannin laced finish. 

RM 91 points. 

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Robert Craig Affinity Bordeaux Blend with grilled tenderloin beefsteak

Vintage aged Robert Craig Affinity Bordeaux Blend for Great QPR - ideal pairing with grilled tenderloin beefsteak and chocolate caramel sundae 

Monday night dinner - grilled filets of beef from a section carved full beef tenderloin, with baked potato and grilled asparagus. I pulled from the cellar this aged, twenty year old Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux Blend

It’s been four years and a couple weeks since we last tasted this vintage release of this label. We know this producer and label well and look to this Bordeaux Blend as ideal for pairing with grilled beefsteaks

Excerpts from that last tasting blogpost … 

Robert Craig Napa Valley Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux Blend 2004.

As I have written numerous times in these pages, we've been collecting this wine since its' inaugural vintage in 1993 and we still hold several cases spread across almost two dozen vintages. 

Crafted to provide a sophisticated Cabernet Sauvignon at a reasonable price with early gratification, Affinity defies this approach with its age worthiness, as this tasting testifies. 

This label was also understated in another way, it is actually a Bordeaux Blend and contains the other Bordeaux varietals. The Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Craig vineyards and contract sources throughout Napa Valley. Robert used to refer to it as "three mountains and a Valley", referring to their vineyards and sources on Howell Mountain, Mt Veeder, Atlas Peak, Mt George, and the valley floor. According to the rear label, this 2004 Affinity release was 'sourced from the Tulocay estate in southern Napa Valley, blended with Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from exceptional vineyards in Napa Valley'. As was often the case, the specifics of blend was not specified. 

R & L with Robert Craig 
at Harvest Party
We may hold more Robert Craig wine in our cellar than any other producer. We've been fans of Robert Craig since the early nineties. We've been to many events at the winery as well as several private functions with Robert, his wife Lynn, and former hospitality and wine club ambassador, Rachel, and various members of the Craig team.   

I remember Robert Craig exclaiming his love for this label and how proud he was to hold it to an affordable pricepoint to introduce consumers to Robert Craig wines. I've written recently that in recent years, as Robert and Lynn turned over the reigns to new management, and the recent passing of Robert, this label has crept up in price significantly and is now priced where their premium labels used to be. Never-the-less, it provides good value and quality (QPR) drinking both early and yet also stands up to aging. 

Sadly, Robert passed in 2019 - we posted a Robert Craig Tribute in these pages at that time.

Tonight showed this label at its absolute best, at twenty years, showing sophistication and elegance and complexity - great QPR - quality price ratio. 

Six years ago I wrote, "This ten year old 2004 remains consistent with earlier tasting notes, deep dark purple inky color, the ripe berry fruit aromatics, full body, ripe berry fruit, accented by a undercurrent of caramel are starting to give way to a layer of anise, tobacco, leather and firm full tannins on the long fruit filled finish."  

Previously, last tasted at sixteen years of age, this release may be at the apex of its drinking window and is as good as ever.  In an earlier tasting when I wrote, "Tasted from a 375 ml split. In this smaller format, it may be starting to show its age," I attribute that to perhaps a combination of bottle variation and the smaller format which ages less gracefully.

Tonight, at twenty years of age, the important fill level and cork were pristine, testament to the provenance of our cellar for long term aging. 

This release was a blend of Bordeaux varietals - 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Wine Advocate says this is sourced from the Tulocay estate in southern Napa Valley.

This was delicious, showing exceedingly well, better than expected and than earlier tastings, ideally paired with the grilled beefsteak, still drinking at the apex of its drinking window and showing no signs whatsoever of diminution from aging. It should have a half dozen years yet in its prime drinking. 

Winemaker Notes - “Heady perfume of ripe black cherry and currant, with black tea, spice and violet notes. Bright and abundant dark fruit and black currant liqueur are intertwined with sweet spice box, licorice and violets. Opulent black cherry drives the lively, long-lived finish.’

“A rich, multi-layered Cabernet that balances power with finesse. The 2004 vintage Affinity is a Cabernet-driven Bordeaux blend that showcases the power and richness of Napa Valley hillside fruit backed by an underlying band of round, ripe tannins. Luscious fruit flavors of great depth and purity are hallmarks of Affinity along with integrated tannin structure for long-term aging.’

"When ready to blend, we assess the relative strengths and merits of every wine, tasting through barrel samples. The aroma, flavor and texture profile of each wine lot has been influenced by the distinctive soil and weather characteristics of the source vineyard, the dictates of the growing season, and our winemaking regimen. After lengthy discussion and evaluation, we prepare the trial blends. In orchestrating these blends, we not only focuses on the quality and character of each wine, but also its "affinity" with the other blending components. This process is more intuitive than scientific. The ideal balance of flavors, aromas, textures, and concentration gradually emerges to create the master blend for that vintage."

"Consistent excellence from year to year is our ultimate goal for Affinity. The wine is known for its juicy, fruit-forward aromas and flavors, elegance in balance and structure, a silky texture, and approachable tannins." -- Chad Alexander, Winemaker.

To top things off even further, Linda prepared a fabulous sundae dessert of sautéed nuts in butter, with melted chocolate and caramel over vanilla bean ice cream. It was remarkable and spectacular with the remains of the Affinity. 

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, firm, structured, yet ideally harmoniously balanced,  nicely integrated black fruits accented by notes of black tea, spice box, hints of creosote, licorice, graphite and oak with firm yet approachable tannins on a lingering finish. 

RM 92 points - better than earlier tastings when I gave it 90 points, increased a point from past tastings.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Duo of ultra premium Napa Cabs for family celebrations

Duo of ultra premium Napa Cabs for family celebrations … 

For Grandson Reid’s birthday we were invited over for a family gathering and combination birthday and Fathers’ Day celebration dinner. Ryan and Michelle ordered in pasta and pizza and Ryan pulled from his cellar a couple of birthyear ultra-premium red wines. I took from our cellar a matching label to share and compare. 

Hall Exzellenz Rutherford Sacrashe Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

We served this at Christmas last year - certainly one of the best drinking bottles from our cellar - worthy of a special occasion. I featured it in this blogpost at the time, excerpted below:

We discovered, tasted and acquired this label at the magnificent Rutherford Estate Winery during our Napa Wine Experience in 2017. This is sourced from the Sacrashe Vineyard that lies just above the winery adjacent to the estate residence. We hold and have had some of the earlier single vineyard designated wines from this vineyard dating back to 1998. Who knew this would evolve and progress to such heights? Not often does one get to taste a 'perfect' wine. of course perfection is in the eyes ('eyze') of the beholder. The 2013 vintage of this label that we tasted that day in their magnificent tasting room in the cave at the Rutherford Sacrashe estate (shown below) got 100 points from  Robert Parker.

Parker wrote of this wine; "This hails from the foothills of Rutherford and refers to Kathryn Hall’s ambassadorship to Austria between 1997 and 2001. A prodigious wine with beautiful floral notes intermingled with blueberry, blackberry, black raspberry and graphite, the wine hits the palate with a full-bodied force, but nothing seems pushed, cloying or out of sync. Gorgeously pure blue and black fruits cascade over the palate, a full-bodied presentation with remarkable purity and complexity. The finish is a good 45-50 seconds, and while there is significant tannin, the extravagance of the fruit and glycerin generally conceal it. This is a remarkable, one-of-a-kind, world class Cabernet Sauvignon that should prove compelling for at least another 30-40+ years."

Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate. 100 Points.

Sacrashe Vineyard at Hall Rutherford Estate

Hall Exzellenz Rutherford Sacrashe Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

As explained on the rear label, shown below, the name Exzellenz is German for Ambassador, in commemoration of Kathyn Hall's service as US Ambassador to Austria from 1997 to 2001. 

The bricks in the magnificent tasting room in the cave at the Rutherford Sacrashe estate (shown right and above) and featured in a separate blogpost at this link)  are recovered and repurposed from a former royal castle in Austria.  

This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Sacrashe Vineyard (shown above) at the Hall Rutherford Estate on the lower slopes of the Vaca Range overlooking Rutherford, Napa Valley.  

While this release didn't get 100 points, it came as close as possible, 99 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 97 points from Owen Bargreen of, and 93 points by Wine Enthusiast.

Parker wrote about this wine: "Composed of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and sporting a very deep purple-black color, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Exzellenz unfurls slowly, tantalizingly out of the glass to reveal powerful, intense scents of crème de cassis, Black Forest cake, blueberry compote and preserved plums with an undercurrent of Chinese five spice, molten chocolate, licorice and Marmite toast with wafts of garrigue and camphor. Very rich, full-bodied and concentrated on the palate, it coats the mouth with black and blue fruit preserves plus tons of spice and savory accents, held together by a rock-solid, grainy frame and finishing with epic persistence."

Consistent with our earlier tastings of this label - Spectacular! Delicious! Enchanting! Deep dark garnet colored, full bodied, rich, concentrated, round, rich, complex but elegant and seductive smooth blackberry and black currant fruits accented by savory clove/cinnamon spices, tones of crème de cassis, mocha chocolate, tobacco leaf and black tea, with a tongue coating dusty gripping but silky smooth tannin laced lingering finish. 

RM 97 points.


For the special family occasion, I brought this ultra-premium label from our cellar and it proved a perfect match comparison. The Exzellenz and the Del Dotto Family Reserve had remarkably similar tasting profiles albeit the Del Dotto being strikingly more bold and assertive but on the same tasting curve.   

Del Dotto St Helena Mountain Family Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 

We tasted and acquired this bottle at the Del Dotto Winery Cave Tour Tasting in St Helena during our Napa Wine Experience in 2017. That tasting was from the barrel. This is another spectacular memorable Napa Valley tasting destination experience.

We've been collecting Del Dotto Family Wine for over twenty-five years, since their inaugural release of this Napa Cabernet in 1993. The Del Dotto brand, holdings, portfolio and presence have grown substantially over those years, yet they still maintain their focus on small production, premium wines. 

Over that time Dave Del Dotto has acquired vineyards in some of the best American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) including Rutherford, Oakville, St. Helena, Howell Mountain, and Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast. The portfolio and brand has grown proportionally as well. 

Today Del Dotto produce wines based on cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, sangiovese and sauvignon blanc from their Napa Valley vineyards, as well as pinot noir, chardonnay and limited amounts of syrah, sauvignon blanc, sparkling grenache and mourvedre from their Cinghiale (wild boar) Vineyard in the King Ridge region of the Sonoma Coast.

We still hold nearly two decades of Del Dotto wines dating back to that 1993 inaugural vintage release. 

Over the years we've held Del Dotto wine dinners with Dave and Yolanda such as our Napa Wine Experience back in 1999, and attended numerous Del Dotto hosted special events. More recently, our Pour Boys wine group did the Del Dotto Napa Valley Cave Tour and Barrel Tasting at the magnificent St Helena estate winery and caves. And, our Del Dotto Piazza DELICACIES Food and Wine Experience at the then new Piazza Del Dotto estate and winery (and now caves) was one of the memorable highlights of our Napa Wine Experience in 2018. 

Its hard to believe that with published tasting notes of no less than sixty-five different labels and vintage releases - and countless iterations thereof, I have not tasted, or published a tasting note or blogpost of this particular label vintage release.

Our collection of Del Dotto family wines remains one of the largest holdings in our cellar with both vertical and horizontal collections of favorite labels. Hence it was only fitting for a special occasion family dinner that I took a Del Dotto Family Reserve estate label.

This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Del Dotto St. Helena Mountain Vineyard​. This is the same fruit that is used in their super ultra-premium label The Beast. I wish we had more of this to experience over the years as it ages but it was spectacular tonight in its 9th year - clearly at the apex of its tasting window, not likely to improve with further aging, but assuredly will hold and drink well for a couple decades to come!

Winemaker’s notes for this label - “The St. Helena Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon has immense power and body with enough integration to achieve 100-point status in previous vintages. The color is an opaque purple and visually viscous. This particular selection is the finest combination of French Oaks along with the best blocks from the 12-acre estate along the base of the Mayacamas mountain range. The bouquet is dense with notes of black plum, molasses, allspice and marmalade. The mouthfeel is velvety with a hint of boysenberry, mocha, roasted walnut and dark chocolate. The tannins are firm and well balanced.”

Bright ruby colored, full bodied, huge, dense, powerful, firm structured, rich, concentrated, black berry and black currant fruits with notes of cognac, clove cinnamon spice, layers of oak, tobacco, black tea and black olive notes with hints of dark bitter chocolate and crème d’cassis with tongue coating sweet oaky tannins on the lingering finish. 

RM 95 points. 


Château Beau-Séjour Bécot St Emilion Premiere Grand Cru Classe 2015

Another top label from Reid’s birthyear vintage, Château Beau-Séjour Bécot is a fantastic example of a full, round, flavorful, powerful expression of Saint-Émilion terroir. Château Beau-Séjour Bécot is owned by the Becot family who has overseen the property for several generations. It is designated a Saint-Émilion Grand Crus Classés estate. 

The estate lies on the St Martin de Mazerat plateau, immediately to the west of the old town, Beau-Séjour Bécot lies in the very heart of the Saint-Emilion appellation area just outside the commune of St Emilion very near some of our favorite producers, Châteaux Canon and Le Gaffeliere. 

The Becot family hired the legendary oenologist and consultant Michel Rolland to establish and maintain the estate’s classification.

Château Beau-Séjour Bécot has a long storied history in the Right Bank. The vines on the grounds were first cultivated by the ancient Romans who recognized the promise of the terroir centuries ago. The grounds of this property still hold stone ruins scattered amongst from those early days. At one point, the property was owned by the Monks of the Saint Martin Abbey in Saint-Émilion, who also owned and tended the vines of Château Canon. 

The monks of Saint-Martin de Mazerat were followed by the Gères, lords of Camarsac. In 1722 one of their descendants, Jeanne de Gères, brought the Domaine de Peycoucou into the estate of the Carles de Figeac family on her marriage. In 1787 General Jacques de Carles de Figeac renamed the estate Château Beau-Séjour, which means “beautiful resting place.” 

General Jacques de Carles was without successors - Beau-Séjour eventually came into the possession in 1924 of Doctor Jean Fagouet, who enlarged the vineyard, increasing its surface area to 10.5 hectares (26 acres). Michel Bécot, born into a wine growing family who had lived in Saint-Emilion since 1760 and owner of the neighbouring Château La Carte since 1929, purchased the estate in 1969. 

In 1979, the Bécot family further enlarged the estate with the purchase of 4.5 hectares (11 acres) on the Trois Moulins plateau. The estate, which then became known as Château Beau-Séjour Bécot, is today a
substantial 16.6-hectare (41-acre) holding on a perfectly uniform terroir. Michel Bécot retired in 1985, turning over the management of the Château to his two sons Gérard and Dominique.

The vines at Château Beau-Séjour Bécot are typically 45 years old primarily planted to the appellation specific Merlot, interspersed with the customary varietal Cabernet Franc for added dimension and complexity.

The 2015 Beau-Sejour Becot is composed in a somewhat traditional or customary St Emilion blend of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was aged in 85% new and 15% one-year-old French oak for 17 months.

It was rated 96 points by Wine Enthusiast, 95 points by Wine Spectator, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and James Suckling, and 94 points by Decanter. It was #55 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2018 and a ‘Cellar Selection’.

This was not exactly a fair fight, or comparison with the rich almost obtuse forward vibrant single varietal Cabernet Sauvignons. A Right Bank Bordeaux Blend, predominantly Merlot based it was more complex yet nicely balanced and integrated. It begs for a filet of beef pairing. 

Dark garnet colored medium to full bodied, complex round, full ripe plum and blackberry and black cherry fruits with touches of spice box, tobacco, lavender and cedar with rich, firm but silky smooth polished tannins on the long floral finish.

RM 94 points.