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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 May 2019

Limerick Lane
Russian River Valley, California
Headpruned Block
Syrah
2010
$29.99
14.6%
The core more a reddish black than purple, deeply hued red brick rims. At first the nose marred by a metallic, stewed tomato element, this normalizes over time into plum to prune, cherry liqueur, and menthol, glimmer of honeyed ham but on the whole it’s fruit and minimal complexity beyond that. Full-bodied, sour mouth entry and for all of the plum, cherry, cassis fruit feels dry on the tongue. More cocoa to coffee roast here, not over-oaked but not fully subsided at this point. Tannin begins to clamp down through the mid-palate. More vegetal than gamey. Some licorice. Not quite sure what to make of it, does not evolve much in the glass. Much more likely to get worse than better with additional aging. 88 points

Mann, Domaine Albert
Alsace, France
Furstentum
Vieilles Vignes
Gewürztraminer
2002
$32.99
14.0%
Fully bronzed but has enough surface shine and glow to not appear “aged” per se, moderate hue loss at the rims. Richly honeyed nose with tangerine zest, crisp litchee nut notes, spearmint, rose petals, powerful pear, apricot, persimmon fruit scents, lingers nicely and never gets gluey in the nostrils. Full-bodied, more acidity than one might expect, thus it feels contoured and ends freshly. Mandarin orange, tangerine to perhaps grapefruit citrus a dominant element, more so as the honey and litchee show restrain. Light saline quality and around the periphery appears to be getting some tertiary mushroom accents. Rose dew moistens the apricot, melon, pear to yellow apple fruit. Still drinking like there’s upside if you really like this grape fully matured. 91 points

Mustiguillo, Bodega
Valencia, Spain
Finca Calvestra
Merseguera
2012
$11.99
13.0%
Matured golden color, close to coppery, unblemished and translucent, a little bit of surface shine perks it up. Slight caramel, toffee edge to the nose, spiced orange peel and rose petals, the yellow apple, peach, pear scents have a cellar coolness, nice waxiness before it dissolves. Full-bodied, more muscular than densely layered, lacks a certain fluidity. Six plus years out the oak toast remains a determining factor. Ginger to cumin spice, lesser degree of caramel, more bite. Develops an airy floral perfume which just hovers over the palate. More apple, white pit fruit along with persimmon accents. Tangerine, blood orange mixed in there too. Without a doubt it’s an interesting wine, however, threads start to loosen before you see the pattern of the cloth. 87 points

Doix, Celler Mas
Priorat, Spain
Salanques
Blend
2004
$35.99
15.0%
Dark throughout, blood stained black core, full sunset red, orange and yellows at the rims, visually fully matured. Cedar and meadow grasses introduce the nose, black licorice, potpourri, not musty yet hints at it, there’s good zest in the cherry, blackberry fruit scents and after it opens for awhile shows good staying power. Medium-bodied, more tannic than expected and dry as a result. Grapefruit citrus, pressed roses, cedar and sage keep it zipping here and there. The fruit is by no means shot, just that the cherry, raspberry to blackberry flavors not on par with the structure. More licorice with a touch of pine. Initial impression was so-so but can really grow on you with time. Can’t see further upside. 65% Grenache, 20% Carignan, 5% Syrah, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 88 points

Lagier Meredith
Napa Valley, California
Mount Veeder
Tribidrag
Zinfandel
2014
$45.00
15.2%
Solid purple core, on the dull side, the rims a red brick to clay but not in an aged way, Grapefruit and cedar inflected nose, dried garden herbs, the mentholated touch seems to have lost some oomph, the cherry, dark berry fruit scents blunt and lack length, overall not giving much. Medium-bodied, feels acidic even if Zinfandel is not known as a particularly acidic grape. Lavender, menthol to anise give it more perfumed lift than prettiness. Solid and dense core of cranberry, raspberry, blueberry fruit, just needs the structure to relax in order to shine. Again, cedary and then leathery, the oak has begun to knit in. Almost gamey towards the end. Have to guess that it is in a dumb or shutdown period rather than trailing off. Will wait to open any other bottles. 89 points

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Sent to Their Grave in April 2019

Ravenswood
Russian River Valley, California
Belloni Vineyard
Zinfandel
2001
$23.99
15.2%
The core now is mostly a flat black, broad rims of rust red, zinc orange to yellow, look fully matured. The nose has an offputting metallic, barnyard floor aspect, sort of stewed as well, peanut shells and old cedar, the fruit mainly plum with some cherry as well. Full-bodied and densely layered, there’s some clumped up tannin residue so it is reasonable to say it was more structured in its youth. Strong cedar, incense, potpourri to menthol, tries to give it lift. While plummy here too there’s more of a red fruit tang as counterpoint. Any citrus has faded behind the rest. It’s a good wine and there’s an admirable amount of fruit left. But it’s too disjointed to really enjoy. Mainly Zinfandel, remainder unspecified percentages of Petite Sirah, Alicante, Carignane. 87 points

Couly-Dutheil
Loire, France
Chinon
La Baronnie Madeleine
Cabernet Franc
2002
$27.99
12.5%
Washed out, mostly dried blood red to red clay, closer to orange than any purple shade. The nose is on the volatile side, merde, tar, graphite, cedar and potpourri, not much bell pepper, the currant, cherry fruit possess a roasted quality, what’s there does last a long time. Medium-bodied, sheds what weight it has through to a dilute finish. Damp earth and fallen leaves, olive pits, more tar through to the expected bell pepper crunch. The tannin remains strong and adds a dry, clumpy texture. Here the roasted edge brings spiciness to the red cherry to blackberry fruit, plenty of bite. Probably on the downward slope but just as likely this is what it was supposed to be from the start. 87 points

Harrington Wines
Napa Valley, California
Carneros
Iund Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2007
$29.99
14.0%
The filminess adds translucency to it, washed out rust red core slowly fading to more orange and yellow at the rims, looks older for sure. Cleansing nose, spicy with damp underbrush tones but not funky nor unclean, mentholated lift, clipped red berry fruit scents, maybe at times damp leather, whatever is there, it’s damp. Full-bodied and fleshy, not an abundance of acidity but that flesh isn’t flabby. Here the cherry, blackberry fruit is both candied and juicy and has no problem cruising to the finish line. Cedar, spiced orange peel, camphor add to the mature character. Licorice and anise then a very mild veer toward metallic through the finish. Maybe just a bit past peak as the finish does lack freshness, yet it’s a mighty fine drop. 90 points

Mustiguillo, Bodega
Valencia, Spain
Vino de Pago
Finca Terrerazo
Bobal
2011
$17.99
14.0%
Immaculate dark purple core, fully impenetrable, thick red rust rims with a zinc orange edge, looks foreboding. Heavy plum, black currant fruit scents which just stop short of prune (but maybe not for long), peanut shells and damp forest brush, then a cleansing medicinal lift, given the overall combination of scents it does not settle into itself well. Full-bodied, presents a dry and light sandpapery grit throughout. Bright grapefruit zest revs up the engine, followed on by something akin to menthol and mint. Woodsy but here not as much funky sous bois. Ripe but not so juicy plum, cherry, black currant fruit, consistent start to finish. A chewy wine which should not be selected as a casual sipper but has plenty of merit at the dinner table. 88 points

Scholium Project, The
Central Valley, California
Lost Slough Vineyard
The Wisdom of Theuth
Verdelho
2010
$17.99
15.88%
Deepened gold color but not close to amber, mildly dull and devoid of shine but does fill the glass well. Doughy nose, not quite maderized but flat, baking spices, apple cider, apricot skin, stream water, more floral as it warms, nothing it out of place of offputting, smells like a wine with some age on it. Medium-bodied, bottom heavy with yeasty, doughy notes and a touch of lemon curd. Same lavender with cinnamon, nutmeg spice and something close to sage. That element of citrus helps stiffen it. The apricot, peach to pear fruit fine for what it is, presents a somewhat surprising bitterness. The dough throws off a vanillin touch. Comes off as disconnected and in need of an experienced conductor. Yet, hard to fault the individual players. 88 points

Koch, Weingut Holger
Baden, Germany
Kaiserstuhl AP #12
Spätburgunder
2015
$24.99
13.0%
Transparent, bright scarlet red more than violet, more fiery sunset red at the rims and you can easily imagine it bricking a lot with age. High-toned nose and close to pickling brine, has a dry underbrush quality as well, not especially perfumed but benefits from a lift of maraschino cherry. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied, bracing acidity and a good bit of tannin to follow this up. The cherry, raspberry fruit tart and crisp, balanced out by orange citrus, dusty pebble notes. Perhaps more florality offered retronasally. Pretty good balance given its underlying aggressiveness. It’s a tight little package and the more you sip, the more you like it even if it’s hard to pinpoint what it does in excellence. 90 points

Grai, Giorgio
Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy
Reserve
Gewürztraminer
2012
$17.99
13.5%
Dark gold pools into the glass, thick presence, on the dull side, more solidity than shine, minimal loss at the rims. The nose at first is all litchee nut and mandarin orange, slowly shifts into a floral mush and peach, apricot, persimmon fruit, element of unbaked dough as well. Medium-bodied and firmer than expected given the grape’s propensity for wanton agreeability. Acidity frames the attack quite well and teases out more bitterness in the nuttiness as well as sourness in the mixed citrus. Pear, apricot to pineapple fruit veers towards tropicality but in the end prefers linearity. Sweet baking spices, potpourri make cameo appearances, no one component ever dominant. Muscular perfume extends the finish. Satisfying. 89 points

Tensley
Santa Barbara County, California
Tierra Alta Vineyard
Syrah
2012
$29.99
14.5%
Great surface shine and immaculate transparency, odd that the coloration already seems to be shedding purple in favor of rust red and orange hues, just by the color you’d peg it as much older. Incredibly dulcet nose of syrupy raspberry, blueberry fruit, “disrupted” by a potent smoky lift, otherwise a melange of tar, pressed flowers, olive pit, overall the aromas suggest a wine with some future yet. Medium-bodied, for as clingy and syrupy as it is here too, it releases quite nicely to allow flow and avoid clumping up. Molasses, honey notes, vanilla too, however, it just doesn’t seem “oaky” in a predictable fashion. Uncooked bacon, black olives, violets have their brief moment before the strawberry, raspberry, blueberry fruit pretty much submerges all else. For what it may lack in sophistication, it offers in guilty pleasure. 90 points

Caspari-Kappel
Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Enkircher
Ellergrub
Spätlese Trocken Alte Reben AP #22
Riesling
2011
$23.99
12.0%
Maturing golden color, deep with a suggestion of amber, sits impassively in the glass, flat surface. The nose comes off as a touch hollowed out, stream water, raw cookie dough, rubber, lemon sherbet, mint, and a modicum of pear, red apple, peach scents, no matter how much you sniff and swirl it doesn’t coalesce. Medium-bodied, not quite round but expansive and omnipresent. The yeasty, doughy quality the first things you notice, particularly as there’s not a lot of discernible acidity. Coconut too. The tangerine, lemon citrus tries hard to give it some kick. Rubber notes drift about aimlessly. Gains more traction through the finish, just in time to stunt the apricot, peach, pineapple fruit. Just not sure what to make of it. 87 points

Harrington Wines
Anderson Valley, California
Wiley Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2006
$29.99
14.1%
Hardly any purple left, brick red core with washed out yellow rims, almost brown in parts, flat throughout. The nose starts out a little stewed with a strong medicinal, mentholated edge, a certain gaminess present in a roasty way, the cherry, red berry scents ripe but easily get pushed into the background. Full-bodied, plush and expansive, fills the entire mouth with ease. Does not express much by way of acidity nor tannin. Violets, menthol, sage and gin botanicals. There is a mildly stewed quality to the cherry, blackberry fruit but it’s sugary enough to ignore. Not much citrus, not undue herbaceousness. Pretty had more snap back in its youth, remains in good enough shape but don’t wait on pulling the cork. 88 points

Dumien Serrette, Domaine
Rhône, France
Cornas
Patou Cuvée Vieilles Vignes
Syrah
2011
$35.99
13.0%
Just opaque purple core, fiery sunset reds and oranges through the rims, lots of vigor. High-toned feel to the nose, damp leather, cow patties, grassy earth, black olives and doused campfire smoke, there is a caramelized molasses oakiness in the background, the cassis, plum fruit in no way weak but an afterthought nonetheless. Medium-bodied, you sense it is beginning to relax but the tannin and acidity remain dominant at present. More violets here, close to Choward’s candy level. Olive pits, muddy earth, beef blood yet without a minerality bite so it remains fairly round. The currant, plum to maybe cherry fruit foursquare and blunt. The length is adequate, more retronasal oak accents than beforehand. As before, not yet where it’s headed but on the right road. 88 points

Steen, Leo
Dry Creek Valley, California
Provisor Vineyard
Grenache
2013
$26.99
14.1%
Cloudy purple to plum flesh red, consistent with a hint of bricking at the rims, translucency adds depth to the hue. The nose is leathery with a touch of wood smoke, little bit of herbaceousness too but balanced out by the candied cherry, raspberry scents, on the whole offers a rugged profile, nothing soft nor overtly juicy about it. Full-bodied, ample tannin gives it heft but perhaps at the same time contributes to an astringent bitterness. More leather, tarry earth and forest floor matter while in no way funky per se. Pinch of cocoa not able to sweeten the stern raspberry, strawberry fruit. However, there╒s sufficient mixed citrus to brighten it. At this point in its evolution not holding out hope for a lot of tertiary development so might as well drink up. 88 points

Scholium Project, The
Sonoma County, California
Sonoma Mountain
Farina Vineyards
La Severità di Bruto
Sauvignon Blanc
2012
$23.99
14.02%
Deep gold but short of bronzed, the rims washed out, at times it looks flat, at times it looks shinier. Lemony nose with a strong yeasty, doughy component, minerally with a medicinal character, mild apricot, yellow apple fruit scents, very relaxed but not yet laconic. In the mouth it’s full-bodied and the acidity is broad and muscular rather than piercing. Leaves a gluey tackiness on the tongue. Beeswax, lanolin, lemon curd, mint and again a substantial amount of doughiness. Still, to be fair, it’s not flat and there is some erectness to its bearing. The apricot, peach flavors dominate and as it warms develops a cobbler-like feel, some apple and persimmon as well. Was probably a pretty decent and intriguing wine on release but now it’s just borderline acceptable. 87 points

Van Volxem, Weingut
Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Wawerner
Goldberg
Erste Lage QbA AP #35
Riesling
2011
$24.99
12.5%
Rich golden hue without looking that advanced, has a green tint normally associated with lighter colored wine, translucent and bends light with ease. Soft and slightly heavy nose of whipped cream, ginger spice, violets, a fruit cocktail of pear, peach, cherry and then a moment of wet slate and rubber, does not make an impression of having advanced all that much. Full-bodied, minty and floral with a slate aspect but minimal minerality or bite. The acidity is flat movement haphazard. That said, no problem with the depth of flavor, spicy and yeasty with lemony undertones. The apple, pear, peach fruit displays good ripeness but does pull up short. Lacks a clear sense of purpose. 87 points

Tensley
Santa Barbara County, California
Tierra Alta Vineyard
Syrah
2011
$25.99
14.8%
Rust red, dried blood red lightens the purple base, good clarity, the rims brick further and indicate an aging wine. At first the nose shows a palpable stewed quality, subsides some yet there remains a prune, date touch to the otherwise plum, dark berry fruit scents, not much oak, stronger meadow grassiness and menthol, no lift to it. Full-bodied, sour metallic flavors frame the attack which, umm, feels like an attack. Lots of acidity percolating about. Forest wood, matted grasses, close to full-on sous bois. Dusty spiciness, powdered cumin and curry. Roasted nature to the plum, cherry fruit, pulls up short. Not a horrible wine and does improve with air but left with impression that this is not a representative bottle. 86 points

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Sent to Their Grave in March 2019

Massena
South Australia, Australia
Barossa Valley
Epsilon Coalsack
Shiraz
2004
$11.99
15.0%
While there’s a vestige of purple to the core, it’s borderline muddy looking, array of brick red, red clay to rust orange. Somewhat reduced nose of plum/prune, date to candied cherry fruit, beef jerky, straw and kindling wood, marred by a hard to ignore stewed tomato, vegetal streak, smells geriatric. Medium to full-bodied, here it’s remarkably smoother and more fluid. No real tannin nor acidity, the oak proportionate, mainly butterscotch, cocoa powder and molasses. The fruit takes a turn towards strawberry, raspberry syrup before heading off into plummy territory. Much more mentholated here, can’t shake that woody note. It doesn’t improve with air time as the undesirable facets drift off. Not bad for basically an entry level wine at this age. 87 points

Breton, Catherine et Pierre
Loire, France
Bourgueil
Les Perrières
Cabernet Franc
2002
$25.99
12.5%
The violet core infused by sunset red, clean and transparent, the rims bright brick reds and oranges, does not at all look that advanced. The nose goes heavy on damp black earth, tar and leather, smells like it just walked in from a rainstorm, the bell pepper is clearly there but not dominant, grapefruit pulp, develops more smokiness as it opens, the cherry, red currant fruit displays admirable strength as well as sap. Medium-bodied, the general order of things reversed as the candied cherry, red berry fruit takes a decade plus off its age. Cigar leaf, cedar, tar and ginger root keep up the friendly demeanor, as does the sour but juicy orange, white grapefruit citrus. The bell pepper and leather most obvious through the finish. Not sure there’s much more upside but it sure is clicking on all cylinders now. 93 points

Harrington Wines
Monterey County, California
Chalone
Brosseau Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2006
$29.99
14.8%
Dull purple core now has just as much brick red, pretty much skips over orange to get to yellow at the rims. At first the nose shows a metallic core, however, this slowly blows off in favor of camphor, potpourri, licorice and dried orange peels, the cherry, blackberry fruit consistent, at times close to plum, just lacks kick. Full-bodied, sluggish as there’s no tannin left and comes across as there wasn’t much acidity to start with. That said, there’s abundant cherry, blackberry fruit, jammy and sweet and then a big floral musk at the finish. Blends in similar traits found in the nose, anise, orange peel, menthol, aspirin, strong medicinal character. Vaguely earthy, more so woody, albeit not in an oaky way. Flavors are there but no energy. 87 points

Porto Rocha
Douro, Portugal
Vintage Port
Blend
2003
$49.99
20.0%
The core is mainly black, wide brick red rims muddied by orange and yellow tints, still overall it doesn’t look all that aged. Uncomplicated nose of plum, black cherry fruit, mildly raisinated, cinnamon stick, cough syrup, turns nuttier the more you sniff, notes of pork rinds before it all dissolves, adequate length and minimal burn in the nostrils. Medium-bodied, remaining on the tannic side and here you get the expected heat. Candied ginger, milk chocolate, fennel and sage, good array of flavors just no depth to it. Fig, yellow raisin to plum fruit, never gains the concentration for meaningful sweetness. Seems more like a decent LBV than Vintage Port. Unspecified percentages of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, etc. 87 points

Peachy Canyon
Paso Robles, California
Adelaida District
Mustang Springs Vineyard
Zinfandel
2015
$24.99
14.5%
Dusky sunset red brings liveliness to an otherwise dull purple core, rusty water rims. Heavily mentholated nose, almost medicinal, lavender and scrub flowers, not unduly influenced by oak, there’s ample kick to the raspberry, cherry, blueberry scents, relieves a lot of latent heaviness. Full-bodied, here it throws its weight around, almost lurches. Densely packed blackberry, blueberry to boysenberry fruit, “black fruited” and sour. In addition to the menthol there’s more bright grassiness. Some bittersweet dark chocolate but here too the oak touch is moderate. Turns nicely floral through the finish. On the whole, though, it is somewhat four-square and lacing in intrigue. As a result has to lean on “pleasure factor” to middling results. 88 points

Clusel, Guillaume
Rhône, France
Coteaux du Lyonnais
Traboules
Gamay Noir
2014
$12.99
12.0%
Filmy and flat in appearance, more rust red than brick red, hints of orange, not devoid of hue but looking washed out. Peppery nose with olive tapenade, tarry earth, pulped and dried lemon accents, starting to head towards barnyard territory, the mixed red berry scents offer more cut than suppleness. Light to medium-bodied, sparkles here as the acidity pulsates and there’s a vibrant minerally dusting across the palate. Cut grass and cigar leaf, tarry here too with graphite notes. A burst of citrus swells in the mid-palate. The cherry, raspberry, rhubarb fruit has grip yet and doesn’t come across as diminished in any way. Swell of bell pepper at the finish is odd and almost makes you think you poured some Cabernet Franc in your glass. Interesting wine and lively, can say how someone might find a flaw or two if they’re not their “cup of tea” type flaws. 88 points

Caspari-Kappel
Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
QbA Trocken Urschiefer AP #5
Riesling
2011
$23.99
12.0%
Maturing gold color, nowhere near amber but deepening and creating a look of solidity, slightly below average surface shine. The nose mostly rubber scents but there’s coconut custard, baking dough, pineapple, apricot, papaya fruit scents, then lilacs and stream water, compact and outside of that rubber nothing holds your attention for long. Full-bodied, more dense than heavy, feels immobile not sluggish. The acidity is broad and blanketing, no cut. Whipped cream, orange creamsicle, coconut flakes, these parts stand in contrast to the grapefruit citrus and green apple, papaya, pineapple fruit. Displays a semi-fizzy texture which plays up mineral water and wet quartz accents. The assemblage of parts isn’t bad but as a whole it just doesn’t go far. (Screwcap) 87 points

Black Kite
Monterey County, California
Santa Lucia Highlands
Soberanes Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2013
$32.99
14.8%
The core more a cough syrup red than purple, crystal clear throughout, more light brick red along the rims. Something high-toned about the nose, not quite nail polish but in the neighborhood, sticky raspberry and cherry scents, garden herbs, fennel, cola, some echoes of campfire smoke, not there yet but comes across as if it could get leathery over time. Medium-bodied, sinks quickly so it feels heavier due to lack of sense of progression. Butterscotch, vanilla and that wood smoke show that the oak hasn’t fully integrated yet. Roasted edge to the cherry, blueberry, blackberry fruit. Seems more tannic than acidic, certainly it’s drier by the finish. Anise, cola, orange peel, plenty of stuff going on. Main problem is that it isn’t subtle nor is it flamboyant. If anything it seems slightly uncouth. 88 points

Bois de Boursan, Domaine
Rhône, France
Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Blend
2001
$30.99
13.5%
Light, clean, and fully transparent, rust red to brick red core with heavy shading towards orange at the rims. Cherry liqueur, licorice, and meadow scrub adorn the nose, lowkey but on the main devoid of funk as well, consistent undercurrent of leather than verges on wooly too, tastefully matured. In the mouth it’s light to medium-bodied, shows firm acidity but at this stage a surprising amount of active tannin. Dry as a result which puts the concentrated, candied raspberry, cherry fruit in high relief. A lot more leather, damp earth and general woodsiness, avoiding funk here as well. Medicinal finish, touches of lavender and dried herbs. Some may find it on the sour side, others may appreciate its “vin de garde” demeanor. 65% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah, 5% unspecified other. 89 points

Knez
Anderson Valley, California
Pinot Noir
2014
$23.99
13.3%
Filmy cherry red in hue, consistent throughout, grimy translucency. Takes awhile to open up but once it does so there’s rich cranberry, raspberry scents, cola bean, ginger root and a quick waft of earthiness. Medium-bodied, likewise hard out of the gate, baring tannic fangs and acidic claws. Here’s it’s stony with minimal earthiness, the latter compensated for by an elevated grassiness. But also more floral and has a citrus element absent in the nose. The red cherry, raspberry fruit alternates between suggesting strawberry or darker blueberry. No discernible oak presence. A little too tough-minded for casual sipping and may even be more appropriate with lighter meat dishes than fish. 89 points

Owen Roe
Yakima Valley, Washington
DuBrul Vineyard
Cabernet Sauvignon
2014
$35.99
14.1%
Deep purple hue, looks velvety, rust red rims, aims to impress, perhaps more advanced appearance than you’d expect. Spicy nose, loaded with cedar and incense, developing a pleasing leathery and smoky quality, all the oak is crisp, nothing sweet, the black currant, plum scents muscular and devoid of sugary softness. In the mouth the tannin remains drying and formidable but coming into greater balance with the whole. Cedar a major player here too, ginger root, turns more floral than leathery. After a few sips your tongue feels rubbed with gentle sandpaper. Lots of black cherry, currant, plum fruit to go the distance. Very good, curiosity gets the best of one and a cork is pulled six or so years too early. 89 points

Copain
Mendocino County, California
Yorkville Highlands
High Rock Ranch
Syrah
2013
$23.99
13.6%
Well integrated black-purple core and crimson red rims, sleek surface and clear throughout. Focused nose without turning lean, leather and beef jerky, iodine, lilacs, minerally black earth, the black cherry, red currant scents punch hard, any lift lacks gentility, more like a sudden yank, gone abruptly. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied, nice smoothness with a healthy tannic skeleton, nothing weak about it. Violets, grapefruit pith, pork cracklings, saddle soap, there’s an aggressive rattle across the palate. Perhaps related the currant, Italian plum to blueberry fruit never quite settles in. Still, for all of its lack of integration it piques your interest and does find more dimension as it opens. Wish it had more resonance at the end to let you relax. 88 points

Tin Barn
Sonoma County, California
Sonoma Coast
Coryelle Fields
Syrah
2012
$17.99
15.5%
Dull purple core, murky without evidence of sediment, broad brick red to dried blood red rims, looks advanced for a wine of its age. Medicinal nose with witch hazel, plastic notes and a dry leathery quality, menthol, the fruit almost all gone, an echo of cherry and black currant at best, close to completely offputting. Medium-bodied, more balanced here yet can’t shake that plastic note. Menthol, pine, spiced orange peel and grill fat try to ground it in the familiar but it’s all too short-lived. Raw horsehide as much as finished leather. The cherry, blackberry, plum fruit fares better here but it couldn’t have been otherwise. Giving it air time does help marginally, but it’s only marginally. Have to suspect the bottle was not treated well as for its age it should still have some youthful kick. 86 points

Kilikanoon
South Australia, Australia
McLaren Vale
Parable
Shiraz
2009
$23.99
14.5%
Muddied purple core, totally impenetrable, fiery sunset red rims, quite serious looking. Leather, wool and uncooked game meat appear first in the nose, anise and mint, any oak pushed to the perimeter, not entirely youthful yet still dominated by the cassis, black cherry to blackberry fruit scents. Full-bodied, the formidable tannin shrinks it back some, then acidity heightens sourness in the plum, cherry, black currant fruit even though when first opened there was more prune, dried apricot notes. Orange peel, dried potpourri and rosemary provide dimension, here too not that oaky but there are burnt cocoa and toasted coconut notes. On the whole savory yet there’s no way to deny the thickness of that fruit. The more you sip it the more you feel like it needed 3-4 years more of integration. (Screwcap) 90 points

Poonawatta Estate
South Australia, Australia
Eden Valley
Monties Block Dry Grown Old Vines
Shiraz
2004
$17.99
15.0%
The purple core falls short of opacity, starts to diffuse as it reaches the brick red to dried blood red rims, slight yellowing and looks its age. Hint of eucalyptus lifts the straightforward blackberry, black cherry fruit scents, modicum of bacon fat, iodine and dried garden herbs, overall more steady than spectacular. Medium-bodied, comes across as having shed weight, thankfully in the process not so much as to let the high alcohol turn it hot. Here the buttery, toasty oak shows more but in turn the eucalyptus, grapefruit citrus as well as currant, cherry fruit rises to the task. Some wood tannin persists, adds to impression of wood smoke and grilled meats. Has held up well but certainly at its highest plateau and probably won’t be there for much longer. 88 points

Scholium Project, The
Contra Costa County, California
Dick Vanderkous Solitude Vineyard
Pergamos
Blend
2010
$29.99
16.14%
Any purple left in the core starting to wash out, lots of rust red and orange, if not brown, jaundiced yellow at the outer rims. Nose is rife with shoe polish, leather, witch hazel, merde, peanut shells, makes it hard to get at the jammy cherry, raspberry as well as menthol scents, just too turbulent. Full-bodied, even getting close to portly, spreads its weight fully across the palate. High-toned mintiness with anise, lemon juice, lemongrass accents. Then it’s muddy barnyard dirt, cow patties and iron shavings and tomato skin. The blueberry, boysenberry to raspberry fruit sour throughout. It’s like there’s a normal wine inside screaming to get out but the weirdo captors slam shut the door to the basement. 75% Merlot, 25% Sangiovese. 87 points

Peachy Canyon
Paso Robles, California
Adelaida District
Especial
Zinfandel
2015
$23.99
14.7%
Stays in the purple range, allowing the scarlet red hues to lighten it away from black, the rims a duller burnt red to orange coloration. The nose drips with toasted coconut, fried butter, and caramel, followed by a minty and floral perfume, while forceful the cassis, blackberry, boysenberry scents are not monolithic and can lift. Full-bodied, likewise, though, not heavy and moves along at a pace which for its weight could be called swift. Would be purer in its purpose were it not for all the oaky coffee bean, kindling wood, butterscotch nonsense. A pleasing sour bite infuses the blueberry, boysenberry, rhubarb fruit and it certainly finishes on the dry side. Integrates with extended air time. 98% Zinfandel, 2% Petite Sirah. 88 points

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Sent to Their Grave in February 2019

Ceritas
Sonoma County, California
Sonoma Coast
Hellenthal Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2012
$60.00
12.5%
Light filminess to the still youthful ruby-violet core, pinkish magenta rims, looks exactly as it should be. Stone, hay, earth set the tone in the nose, not severe but there’s good counterweight to the ripe cherry, raspberry scents, spicy and not devoid of funk nor brine, overall as you might suspect it’s at a point where there’s not much development. Full-bodied, really thickly layered and does tend to be heavy. At least, before an alcoholic finish. Garden herbs, minerals, clay, ginger, cumin spice. Orange peel, then lemon zest, The acidity is not where it needs to be but it’s not bad per se. That said, this lack contributes to a molasses and honey coated end. It’s good, not great. 88 points

Economou, Domaine
Crete, Greece
Sitia
Oikonomoy
Blend
2012
$44.99
13.5%
Filmy orange color, noticeable loss at the rims, can look like rust water. Honey, yeast, orange reduction, pine sap, some apricot and peach, it’s all thick and borderline goopy, rubber notes as it warms, cinnamon, and clove, rolls on and on. Full-bodied, heavy and grippy. Yeasty and drying, plenty of tannic grip and not in any mood to let go. Orange marmalade, pineapple, nectarine and mango fruit. The acidity is so-so but it’s not wimpy. Clove, ginger root, bright grassiness. Pineapple, papaya, nectarine bright and sour. Brioche, honey, no lack of sweetness even with the fruitiness. Very interesting, the heat is a bit much. Worth a try for sure. 70% Villana, 30% Thrapsathiri. 89 points

Scholium Project, The
Central Valley, California
Lodi
Bokisch Ranches
MSL [Marcher sûr la Lune] Reserve
Verdelho
2009
$17.99
16.2%
Full amber to orange color, likely a product of partial skin fermentation as age, holds into the rims well enough, no cloudiness at all, just a translucent shimmer. Soupy nose of caramel and toffee, dried apricots and pears, cinnamon stick, motor oil, overall one is struck most by the absence of potent aromas. Full-bodied, heavy on the tongue, the acidity is average at best. Doughy with toasted coconut, butterscotch, caramel flavors which dominate the rest. Then nuttiness adds a layer of bitterness. Peach cobbler, apricot paste, dried apples, the fruit has concentration but no length. No alcoholic burn. Maderized? Or just the usual misshapen end result? Let’s just say it’s a Verdelho for folks who love Rombauer Chardonnay. 86 points

Montelena, Château
Napa Valley, California
Barrel #95-146 Specially Selected by Sherry-Lehmann on Friday, May 17, 2002
Petite Sirah
2000
$29.95
13.5%
Opaque purple core, full ruby to scarlet rims with no sign of bricking. Plump nose, too full to really feel round, violets, poor brown dirt, mild citrus tones, no oak presence, there’s actually a nice pretty lift to the cassis, currant, plum fruit scents, unsurprisingly youthful. Full-bodied but about as suave and fluid as you can imagine the grape to be, has not sacrificed pacing for weight. Spicy oak with vanilla and coffee bean overtones, leather and white grapefruit. Very nice acidity, certainly more determinant than the tannin. Rich florality, the fruit spreads broadly, layers of black currant, cherry, plum. But ends bright with lift. Can’t imagine it being prettier but to be fair while it has smoothed out there’s not an abundance of tertiary elements. 91 points

Carpineti, Azienda Agricola Marco
Latium/Lazio
Capolemole
Bellone
2017
$9.99
13.5%
Clean, basic yellow straw color, good plus level shine, not deep enough to notice any change towards the rims. Bursts with damp florality, really pungent, orange blossom, nutty, lemon custard, spearmint, peach and apricot fuzz, pear skin, just keeps lifting, so airy and openly knit. Medium-bodied, excellent traction, grips the mouth pores. Round and soft, aims at soaking into the palate. Rose petals, orange peel, there is a toastiness throughout. The mintiness accelerates through the mid-palate. The acidity pulsates more than cuts, lets you relax and then pushes it forward, relaxes then pushes it forward. Apricot, peach to nectarine, embellishment of pineapple, really juicy finish. A wine of pure pleasure, makes you want to keep sipping until you open another bottle. (Composite Cork: Diam5) 90 points

Horiot, Olivier
Champagne, France
Rosé des Riceys
En Valingrain
Pinot Noir
2013
$46.99
12.5%
Washed out rose petal color, filmy, hueless to orange zinc rims. Sudden lift, just rushes upwards with strawberry, raspberry fruit, pressed flowers, lemon zest, nod to pickle brine in a good way, the airiness saves it and keeps it swirling and lively so any flaws get ignored. Light-bodied, web-like tannic and acidic structure, keeps it on a real even keel and integrated. There’s a liqueur thickness to the strawberry, blueberry, cherry fruit, concentrated without heaviness. Great lemony bite, brings out just the right amount of grassiness. Mild stony qualities dry it out for the finish, this in the face of a molasses coating. It’s in no way simple yet its strongest point remains the friendliness of the fruit. Pure pleasure. 91 points

Grange (Pierre Luneau-Papin), Domaine de La
Loire, France
Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine
Clos des Noëlles
Semper Excelsior
Melon de Bourgogne
2002
$20.99
12.5%
Deepened golden color, semi-flat, mild diminishment along the rims, doesn’t look all that aged. Pineapple, kumquat, apricot fruit to the nose, tropical profile, comes across as having a strong oak profile whether or not it’s real, buttered toast, coconut oil, uncooked pie dough, a lot of punctuation, fewer vowels. Medium-bodied, spicy and tingly and not necessarily from the acidity. Lots of leesiness, doughy qualities. Palpable lemony bite, licorice and sweet tea leaf. Peach, pear, red apple, to persimmon fruit. Regarding the acidity, it’s fine but nothing special. Stony but not quite minerally fueled finish. Arguably just getting towards peak, in need of more integration. 89 points

Pépière, Domaine de la
Loire, France
Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie
Cuvée Eden
Cuvée Vieilles Vignes
Melon de Bourgogne
2000
$8.99
12.0%
Fully amber hued liquid, clear the surface has some shine but pools dully, not much loss at the rims. The nose is layers of doughy and yeasty notes, then orange marmalade, tea leaf, licorice and something close to tar, dried apricots, completely matured, moderate staying power so you have to keep swirling and sniffing. Medium-bodied, there’s enough acidity chugging around to avoid sluggishness. Here the mandarin orange to lemon citrus sparkles well, especially enlivening the attack. Mint and licorice take it from there and there’s a violet pastille accent as well. The apricot, peach to apple fruit gets to the mid-palate and starts trailing off. This leaves a yeasty residue as the final thing you taste. Overall, plenty of flavor left and pleasingly matured but not one for those who like sucking on stones and acidity that draws blood. 90 points

Becker, Weingut J.B.
Rheingau, Germany
Wallufer
Walkenberg
Spätlese Trocken Alte Reben AP #3
Riesling
2013
$23.99
13.5%
Already has taken on a fully matured coloration of deep gold to amber, translucent if not filmy per se, good surface shine but on the whole looks older than its age. Blunt nose of rubber and tar, then gains cut through tangerine pith, pressed flowers and apricot pit, kumquat, papaya fruit scents, all kinds of brooding power without direction. Full-bodied, not devoid of acidity but feels more like juice than wine. Sour to a fault, same kumquat, star fruit, papaya tropicality with green apple, persimmon nuances. Doughy and close to yeasty. There’s some stoniness in there but the relentless tartness is in no mood for smoothing out anything. Rubber accents bubble up through the finish. Screws itself up before what you’d feel was its natural stopping point. While there’s a possibility that it was caught at the wrong moment, the final assessment says no. (Glass Stopper) 87 points

Raquillet, François
Burgundy, France
Mercurey 1er Cru
Les Naugues
Pinot Noir
2013
$29.99
13.0%
Basic violet core albeit perhaps darker than expected, clear scarlet rims, strongly colored throughout. Curious notes of molasses and pie crust in the nose, a slight herbaceous tickle, the guileless raspberry, blackberry scents have more length than depth, leaves an impression that it could develop more with time. Medium-bodied, nice palate traction, hugs the tongue without seeming immobile. Baking spices, orange peel, thin coating of minerality and crushed stone. The acidity breathes bite into the raspberry, red cherry to cranberry fruit. Somewhat mentholated finish. Stays balanced and avoids coming off as homogeneous. No greenness nor underripeness. Solid now with upside. 89 points

Fogline Vineyards
Sonoma County, California
Sonoma Coast
Fogline Neighbors Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2012
$29.99
14.0%
The core is as much cranberry red as violet, however, the rims already showing a shift from red to orange, normal level of clarity. The nose comes across as flat, light smattering of pressed flowers alongside the routine blackberry, raspberry fruit scents, with air time the vanilla fudge, caramel to butterscotch accents take more ground. Medium-bodied and closer to full, round in feel but not soft, possesses some astringent tannin as well as grippy acidity. A floral musk settles on the cherry, blackberry fruit and moderately deepens the latter. Incense, ginger root, licorice, not much of a citrus presence. Good chance this bottle was caught at an awkward time in its evolution, good but not great. 88 points

Copain
Santa Ynez Valley, California
Harrison Clarke
Syrah
2007
$26.99
13.7%
The opaque purple core still has a glow to it, the rims though show a full brick red. Salty nose, beef jerky and rawhide notes, some florality sneaks in there amidst all the savory scents, the blackberry, black cherry scents evince fine ripeness but do lack some staying power. Medium-bodied, you can feel a fine grittiness as residue of what once was probably strong tannin. Very pretty lilac driven perfume as well as spiced orange peel element. Here too the plum, cherry to blueberry fruit starts off credibly but drifts off towards the end. At least there it gets replaced by smokiness and grill meat fat. Overall, keeps its balance and leaves an impression that it’s just past peak but not that far down the downwards slope. 89 points

Black Kite
Anderson Valley, California
Stony Terrace Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2015
$29.99
14.3%
Brightly dark mix of cranberry red and violet, fully transparent and unblemished, fresh and vibrant appearance. Minerally and stony nose without turning dusty, subtle herbaceous twist which segues into pressed flowers, while tart the red cherry, blackberry scents anchor it in the nostrils. Medium-bodied, ginger and cinnamon and tea leaf notes with a very mild toastiness, does not seem abused by oak. More floral here with an orange blossom element. Gently structured, no obvious lack of acidity or tannin, displays a polished mouth feel. Not surprisingly the blackberry, raspberry, black cherry fruit is substantial and weighty, albeit not close to sugary. A harmoniously integrated experience, would expect it to remain so as it sheds heft over time. 90 points

Agnitió
Sonoma County, California
Sonoma Coast
Sun Chase Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2014
$17.99
14.0%
Clean ruby-violet core, barely any change towards the rims, if anything looks darker and more scarlet there. The nose at first marred by tomato skin, metallic notes, these slowly resolve in favor of raspberry, strawberry to green apple fruit scents, honey and rose musk help fill in holes left by said fruit, overall it falls flat and there’s no life in your nostrils. Full-bodied, heavy yet not quite plodding, still has that tomato skin thing. Clove, tea leaf, orange peel and molasses fill it out, seems to gain weight rather than cut from the oak (which purportedly is not heavy handed). The lack of acidity leaves the blueberry, blackberry, cherry fruit lacking zip. Can’t say that it in fact was but it comes off as overly massaged. 87 points

Eden Valley Wines
South Australia, Australia
Eden Valley
Old Butts
Shiraz
1999
$11.99
12.5%
Gauzy but still transparent, the core starts out brick red to red clay, quickly shifts over to orange hues, looks advanced. The nose has faded to the point where it is showing some turbulence, some notes of rubber and asphalt, then an echo of eucalyptus, the cherry to blackberry scents on the way to the glue factory. Medium-bodied, still carries some weight. Dry with residual sappiness in the cherry, raspberry to blueberry fruit. Does fill out a touch with air. Cedar, menthol as present as iron flecks, dried tobacco and tar. Absent of glaring flaws which would have you avoid the next sip, however, on the way out, a wine for fans of “well aged claret.” 86 points

Neyers
Regional Blend, California
Sage Canyon
Blend
2014
$11.99
14.1%
Ruby-purple of above average brightness, not really transparent but not translucent either, in any event nicely colored. Floral nose with a pretty burst of citrus zest, light piney qualities, not much oak presence, the fruit runs a nice gamut of raspberry, green apple, strawberry to red cherry scents, immediately falls into its predetermined role, that of an agreeably fruity blend. Full-bodied, round and close to soft, just enough tannin to slap it awake at the finish. Witch hazel, menthol gives it lift, sweet orange to tangerine citrus more pure juice than zest. Sugary blueberry, raspberry, to blackberry fruit. There’s a coating of caramel at the end. It’s just the vinous equivalent of “comfort food” and if second helpings of mac and cheese is not your thing, likely this won’t be either. 45% Carignane, 25% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah. 88 points

Copain
Monterey County, California
Chalone
Brosseau Vineyard
Syrah
2009
$23.99
14.0%
The darkest purple possible before turning to black, fully impenetrable until thin crimson, blood red rims appear, hard to say it looks aged. Lilacs and mint provide some prettiness in the nose, salt lick and saline major components too, the fruit scents are borderline grapey, lots of plum and currant jelly, smattering of cocoa but not giving off much oak presence, took awhile for it to uncoil, when it did wasn’t much past a primary phase. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied, the acidity saves the day and imbues shape in the raspberry, blueberry, blackberry fruit. Menthol, cedar and a touch of leather. Not much for citrus or real gamey notes. For all the fruit upfront the finish is super dry and starting to shorten. Probably peaked about 4-5 years ago. 88 points

Peachy Canyon
Paso Robles, California
The Vortex
Zinfandel
2014
$23.99
14.9%
Mild gauziness to the deep purple core through to the sunset red rims, has what used to be called “legs” on the glass back when people thought that said something meaningful. There’s some smokiness and oak toast to the nose but on the whole it’s just a lot of juicy mixed berry scents evoking the proverbial juice dripping down your chin, nothing really creamily sweet, more on point than that. Full-bodied, whether it’s wood tannin or not you definitely feel the tannic punch from the start. More by way of orange citrus and mint here, not so much the grill smoke or leather. Lots of cranberry, blueberry to raspberry fruit with a touch of Granny Smith apple. Does pull up short through the finish, rather suddenly. Overall, almost exactly what was expected. Mainly Zinfandel, small amount of Petite Sirah. 88 points

Raquillet, François
Burgundy, France
Mercurey
Vieilles Vignes
Pinot Noir
2013
$17.99
13.0%
Light violet-ruby in hue, transparent, spotless and fully hued rims. Borderline crabbed nose of pickles, merde, matted grass, to mixed white citrus, moderate red cherry to raspberry scents, lacks a center to help it persist. Medium-bodied, sternly tannic upfront with whiplash acidity by the finish. Bright herbaceousness and lemon citrus, stony, not mean-spirited per se but lots of sharp angles. The sour cherry, raspberry to cranberry fruit steady but not close to dominant. Offers a more musky perfume at the end. It’s honest but don’t expect it to become all that mannered. 87 points

Cornerstone
Napa Valley, California
Howell Mountain
Beatty Ranch
Cabernet Sauvignon
1994
$40.99
13.4%
Plenty of purple left in the core, same for the ruby rims where any bricking is moderate. Sweet cedar and incense filled nose, bundled straw, leather, clean on the whole with the oak all but fully resolved, the red currant, Italian plum to cherry scents show very credible depth and length. Medium-bodied, sort of peppery with notes of bell pepper. The tannin still kicking. The currant, blackberry fruit full through the attack but does start to dry out through the finish. Minty with menthol and cedar embellishments, the pungent inner mouth presence boosts the flavors and creates a deeper sense of movement. Not going to improve but pretty great today. 91 points

Renwood
Amador County, California
Timberline
Zinfandel
2012
$19.99
14.5%
Clear and mostly transparent ruby-violet color, lighter at the rims, overall more bright than glowing. In the nose presents good translation of sourness, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry to green apple scents, moderate but obvious butterscotch and toffee oak accents, smattering of eucalyptus, just juicy berry fruit. Medium-bodied and juicy here too while showing a surprising degree of structure, more based in tannin at this point. Here too apple adds tone to the raspberry, blueberry, boysenberry fruit. A bit hollow in the mid-palate. The caramel, vanilla fudge takes up less space than in the nose. Even with the higher toned quality of the fruit it is in no way complex. 88 points

Borgo del Tiglio di Nicola Manferrari, Azienda Agricola
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Collio
Blend
2013
$23.99
13.5%
Immaculately translucent yellow straw with glints of green, remains youthful in appearance, a slight diminishing of hue at the rims. The nose is crisp in feel but comes off as unfocused, underripe apple, pear, to persimmon scents, chalk dust and stone, the florality does not see, able to unwind, more cleansing than satisfying. Medium-bodied, the acidity can get reckless and it’s out to make a point. Here there’s a bracing shot of pink grapefruit and a little lime. Stream pebbles and stones more than dustiness. The apricot, green apple, pear to peach fruit angular and so quickly paced it’s not easy to register. Props for the energy but you can’t relax when it’s in your glass. Unspecified percentages of Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling. 87 points

Lagier Meredith
Napa Valley, California
Mount Veeder
Mondeuse
2009
$35.99
14.5%
Deeply saturated and opaque purple core, equally heavy crimson rims, its coloration does not betray much aging. Burnt cocoa, roasted coffee beans, the oak appears not to have receded much, then a floral musk lifts the blueberry, blackberry fruit scents, smattering of leather but hard to say it has developed much in a tertiary manner. Full-bodied, velvety and expands cheek-to-cheek, still packing some tannic punch while has enough acidity to pucker up the finish. Same emphasis on tart blueberry, boysenberry, plum fruit, has not lost its “fruit bomb” youthfulness. Mixed citrus tang breaks up some of the solidity. The oak is creamier here, vanilla fudge and caramel, most obvious retronasally at the end. Still qualifies as a “slam it back” fruit fest. 90 points

Turley
Amador County, California
Cobb Vineyard
Zinfandel
2013
$31.99
15.3%
A touch of violet left to the core, mostly burnt reds and oranges, clear enough but there’s some sediment thrown for sure. First into the nose is grill smoke and meat fat, that toasted bread and butterscotch, more crisp than creamy, conversely the fruit is light and sprightly, raspberry, green apple, as much strawberry as cherry scents, light touch of eucalyptus but nothing you’d really consider substantial tertiary development. Medium-bodied, thick and sticky bottom but no real upper body strength. Here the oak is indeed creamier, vanilla fudge, caramel but it’s not entirely out of proportion to the whole. More by way of savory herbs, orange peel, pine, much less smoky and meaty than the nose. The raspberry, blueberry, strawberry fruit has no excess flesh, gets to the end the same as it started. Rugged like a 48 hour shadow on your chin. 89 points

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Sent to Their Grave in January 2019

Copain
Mendocino County, California
Yorkville Highlands
Hawks Butte
Syrah
2006
$21.99
14.9%
Murky blackish purple core, not much clearer as it gets closer to the thin brick red rims. The nose displays some volatility at the start, merde, peanut shells and rubber, eventually these recede to yield space to cinnamon, ginger spice, plum, cassis fruit scents, some poor dirt and pebbles, sniff as much as you want and all you’re going to get are primary aromas, even at this age no real development. Full-bodied, layered on the tongue, moderate tannin but not all that much acidity. The plum, cassis, cherry fruit extremely prominent. Mint, whipped cream and menthol bring dimension, can’t say it seems overtly oaky. Towards the end there’s more leather and earthiness. Not sure if one should be happy there’s so much fruit left or disappointed there’s so little development with nary a sign that it is in the offing. 88 points

Haag, Weingut Fritz
Mosel Saar Ruwer
QbA AP #1
Riesling
2016
$12.99
11.0%
Well-integrated, pools into the glass presenting a solid block of worn gold, more shimmering translucency than transparency, hueless rims. Chalky, minerally nose with lemon and some lime accents, fine spun sugar as much as white smoke, good nervosity without getting anxious, the apple, pear, red cherry fruit scents never drop off. Medium-bodied, perhaps even lighter, the acidity strong and tends to squeeze the life out of it. The wet rose petal, chalk, mineral water elements yield easily before the finish. Star fruit, kiwi, apricot, yellow apple fruit provides flavor array but it’s all desiccated. Rambunctious white grapefruit to lemon citrus sparkles at the end. It’s alright but it seems to intentionally any aspect which could be construed as “fun.” (Screwcap) 87

Fogline Vineyards
Sonoma County, California
Sonoma Coast
Sun Chase Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2012
$23.99
13.9%
Not that much in the core, crimson red to brick and clay reds and oranges predominant, clean overall. Oodles of creamy butterscotch, whipped cream, and vanilla bean at first in the nose, taut with a certain amount of greenness, the cherry, red berry scents seem clipped, albeit it is middle-aged but not displaying any tertiary elements. Medium-bodied, the oak dominant here too with a sour dill, green edge in addition to butterscotch, caramel and toffee. More mixed white citrus and to a lesser extent stoniness. Feels like there’s more active tannin than acidity, no cleansing, thirst driving punch. The cherry, raspberry, blackberry fruit level is high, more focus than juiciness. Just seems like you caught it at exactly the wrong moment. 87 points

Bosca, Bodega Luigi
Mendoza, Argentina
Gala 2
Blend
2015
$23.99
13.7%
Strong reddish tint to the purple core, not quite opaque, broad crimson to orange rust rims, fiery looking. Crisp buttered toast and butterscotch scents fill the nose, tends to cloak any earthiness, although the bell pepper shoots through just fine, nothing unusual about the red currant, cherry scents, nothing particularly strong nor weak. Medium-bodied, the tannins are potent and give the wine a scratchy, drying texture. Here you get a good shot of tobacco leaf, pencil lead and leather, nicely honest. While the oak is more knit in here there’s no lack of butter, whipped cream and caramel topping. Very erect through the finish, shows breeding and intent. Probably popped the cork 2-3 years too soon. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot. 88 points

Sandler Wine Co.
Bennett Valley, California
Connell Vineyard
Syrah
2010
$11.99
11.6%
Dull and filmy, opaque black core, brick red to rust red rims, mildly washed out. The nose is pinched, all herbaceousness, green olive, stony earth and saline, at times rings metallic, the lavender accents and blackberry, cherry scents struggle to register. Light to medium-bodied, showing a strong tannic grip which increases palate presence. Tar, rawhide, grill fat appear first, there’s something medicinal about it, sort of like witch hazel, but not necessarily volatile. Green as in bell pepper and olives more than grass or hay. Sour white citrus perks it up through the mid-palate and becomes stonier through the finish. Here too the cherry, blackberry, plum fruit is moderate at best, although doesn’t feel like as if that’s from fading per se. Rough and tumble, could have used more fruit to soften the edges. 87 points

Hiedler, Weingut
Kamptal, Austria
Maximum Reserve
Grüner Veltliner
2009
$30.99
14.0%
Layers into the glass, dark gold with more amber at certain angles, looks dense. Clenched nose, nutty, smoky, low grade grapefruit pith, edamame, the pineapple, peach, nectarine scents come off as truncated, over time the texture in the nostrils gets creamier and allows it all to extend some. Medium-bodied, seems to lack the grip and traction this bottling often provides. Vanilla, blanched nuts and Asian spice team up with the innate herbaceousness to give it an alternating personality verging on indecisiveness. Sherbet quality to the orange citrus. The acidity level is acceptable. Could actually use more herbaceous snap to imbue focus. Pear, red apple, apricot to peach fruit, lasts well, if simple. At times runs a bit hot. The unvarnished bombast of this bottling is missing, hence it’s mostly makeup. (Screwcap: Stelvin) 87 points

Harrington Wines
Sonoma County, California
Sonoma Coast
Gap’s Crown Vineyard
Pinot Noir
2006
$29.99
14.4%
Barely any purple to it, brick red to clay red core that slowly shifts into a blend of oranges and yellows nearer the rims, unblemished but not necessarily fully transparent. Some volatility to the nose, eventually moderates into woodland, sous bois notes, tarry earth and ginger root with fading cherry, blackberry fruit scents. Medium-bodied, has retained sappiness and grip, in no way attenuated. Sweet tea leaf, caramel, lemon drop, and licorice pretty it up right off. Still, there’s no denying that this is an older wine, clear eyed in what it wants to say but needs an afternoon nap. Cedary and earthy, there’s a spiciness to the cherry, raspberry fruit which adds length. Definitely improves with air time. Can’t say there’s many miles ahead yet there’s no lack of pleasure to be had today. 88 points

Scholium Project, The
Central Valley, California
Lost Slough Vineyard
Naucratis
Verdelho
2012
$11.99
14.37%
Remains more gold than bronze but getting there, sparkly surface with solidity underneath, clean and attractive. Apple juice nose, cinnamon and dough, dose of rose petals and lemon juice, hard to call it maderized because this may have been the intent from day one, either way does have a fresh feel and texture in the nostrils given the aromas themselves. Medium to full-bodied, dry and tacky on the tongue. The acidity level feels good but a bit hard to gauge with all the doughy, pie crust notes. Cinnamon, nutmeg, lemonade, and out of nowhere bubblegum. The apple, pear to red cherry fruit more subtle than forceful. Does a good job of varying sip to sip but in the end it’s more intellectually interesting than viscerally pleasurable. 87 points

Qupé
Edna Valley, California
Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard
Sonnie’s Syrah
Syrah
2012
$23.99
13.5%
Crimson red hues lighten the otherwise dark purple core, the clarity evident and not even close to opacity, rust red rims showing moderate aging. The first whiff of the nose is almost all oak, whipped cream butterscotch, toasted coconut, hard toffee candy, hard nosed and reluctant to indulge in the flowers, white citrus and cured beef notes available, the cherry, blackberry scents struggle to not be drowned out. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied, the stern acidity and tannin sets an early tone of hierarchical deference. Thankfully, the structure does put the oaky creaminess sort of in its place, allowing the prettier black licorice, violets to come to the fore. The blueberry, boysenberry, red cherry fruit tart and lasts credibly long in the face of the tannin. The leather, beef jerky to almost rubber elements not fully developed. At this point of its evolution it’s more or less judgment reserved and check back in 4-6 years to see if the wait was worthwhile. 88 points

Darnaud, Emmanuel
Rhône, France
Crozes Hermitage
Les Trois Chênes
Syrah
2010
$23.99
13.5%
Reddish black core, not any purple in sight, heavyset rust to brick red with a metallic orange edge. There’s some requisite funk to the nose, damp sous bois and wet leather before a big blow of roasted coffee, bittersweet dark chocolate and cedar, eventually there’s stony earth to anchor it, no real game nor citrus presence, the cherry to red currant scents perform perfunctorily. Medium-bodied, luckily here the acidity shows energy and wakes things up, uptick in citrus, leather and saline notes. Still, lacks the killer instinct and when you think it’s going to start slashing away it falls back into a foundation of yet very ripe blackberry, blueberry, red cherry fruit. As a result, it stays simple and user friendly. That noted, has its charms and no problem throwing it back. 88 points

Scholium Project, The
Suisun Valley, California
Tenbrink Vineyards
Bricco Babelico
Petite Sirah
2008
$23.99
17.14%
Glowing black like a day-glo wall hanging, thin sunset red to orange rims which hum with a deep warmth. There’s some barnyard funk to the nose but it’s mostly prune, date fruit as well as eucalyptus, baked ham and incense, tries really hard to create some lift to middling result. Full-bodied, thick and gluey in texture, enough so that the tannin can’t start to dry out the palate. In many ways it’s like cramming a bunch of Raisinets in your mouth and then walking into a freshly built cedar closet. Prettier orange peel and eucalyptus help normalize it and overall this is about as “normal” a red wine as you will find from this producer. Tarry finish which comes across like rubber tires peeling out at the start of a drag race. Masks the high alcohol well. 88 points

Qupé
Edna Valley, California
Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard
Sonnie’s Syrah
Syrah
2011
$23.99
13.5%
Clean with good shine, most of the purple washed out of the core, on the whole it’s a maturing brick red hue, rims show good fullness. Cedary nose, incense and potpourri, overall not especially pungent, dry brown dirt and pebbles, slightly roasted quality to the cherry, raspberry scents. Medium-bodied, firming acidity, has consistent texture and weight throughout. Stony with sour grapefruit aspects, there’s still that woody, cedary aspect which contributes to the sourness. While there is a Jolly Rancher style hard candy sweetness to the cherry, raspberry to strawberry fruit, there’s just not a lot of fruit per se. Leathery finish that verges on animality. There’s nothing overtly wrong here, simply comes off as tired. 87 points

Copain
Mendocino County, California
Eaglepoint Ranch
Syrah
2005
$24.99
14.5%
Dull core, the black shifts easily into brick red and then yellowing with a hint of brown, showing its age but not in a worrisome fashion. Rough and tumble nose of saddle leather, grill fat and charcoal smoke, there’s still considerable caramel and butterscotch accents left, rounds out with eucalyptus, muddy earth and a smattering of cherry, blackberry fruit scents, no alcoholic burn yet overall seems disjointed. Full-bodied, velvety and sappy texture that has it stuck to the palate. If there was ever any tannin it’s long gone now. Juicy blackberry, boysenberry, cherry fruit with a spritz of grapefruit. Hints of olive tapenade, more grill fat and rawhide. Opens up nicely and while not profound it’s more than satisfying. 89 points

Mara, Tenuta
Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Guiry
Sangiovese
2014
$17.99
12.5%
Cloudy, the scarlet red to violet core slowly moves to washed out brick red approaching the rims. The nose is texturally thick with a sous bois, vinous funkiness, this in curious juxtaposition to the molasses, gingerbread and then strawberry, raspberry fruit elements, in spite of the sweet baking spices there’s a pervasive woodsiness to it. Full-bodied, while not entirely lacking in structure it languidly drapes itself across the palate, inviting you to enjoy the sappy strawberry, maraschino cherry to raspberry fruit. Camphor, licorice, lemonade, honey and chamomile accents keep the seductiveness going. The lack of acidity eventually becomes a bother, especially so based on some food pairings. The muddy earth funk stays at the borders. At times feels like it was pressed together in a vise. Very pleasurable but not what you’d expect if you were looking for, say, a Tuscan Sangiovese. 89 points

Black Kite
Anderson Valley, California
Kite’s Rest
Pinot Noir
2014
$36.99
14.9%
Medicinal red in color, slightly deepened by purple in the core, squeaky clean, zero hue loss at the rims. Meaty, minerally nose, beef jerky, leather, more rugged than high-toned, lacks the citrus pitch and sourness in the cherry, raspberry scents to pierce and lift, still it does have effortless staying power. Medium-bodied, spicy and nibbles like it wants to give you a hickey. Here the fluffy florality spreads well and there’s sustained orange, lemon citrus presence. More by way of campfire wood and sandalwood incense and clove than the meatiness in the nose. While ripe, the raspberry, blueberry, cherry fruit is not juicy and wet, showing restraint even when not desired. Finish can seem abrupt. Classy in a cool climate fashion. 90 points

Copain
Santa Barbara County, California
Thompson Vineyard
Syrah
2007
$24.99
14.5%
Fully black core with razor thin crimson red rims, foreboding glow to it. Smoky, stony nose, not all that much oak left, shoe leather, vague floral lift, edgy in a hard to describe way, thicker currant, plum scents than berries, overall more clenched than open. Medium-bodied, works hard to have the acidity frame the mouth entry. The tannin seems a little underripe, astringent at the end. Still, offers the requisite citrus zest and gathers enough floral perfume to make a go of it. Sour cherry, red currant to blackberry fruit. The oak sour as well and dominates past the mid-palate, as mentioned woody finish. Perhaps crafted to be something it was not, in any event a good few years past its apex. 87 points

Tensley
Santa Barbara County, California
Thompson Vineyard
Syrah
2012
$28.99
14.0%
Mildly filmy, the purple core remains vivid as the rims mature into red to orange brick or clay hues. The nose seems grapey with notes of apple in addition to more expected blackberry, cherry fruit, the lavender scents are active but do get pushed aside now and then by oak toast, touch of leather or cured beef yet on the whole it remains primarily fruity. Full-bodied, outside of an initial jolt of acidity it’s soft and permeates the palate well. Tangy white grapefruit citrus invites the oak into more of a mesquite grill smoke profile. The lavender, garrigues lift haphazard but pungent when it appears. Thick slabs of blackberry, blueberry to boysenberry fruit sugary and puckering both. Prolonged finish. In the end leaves you feeling best to take advantage of the fruit now rather than wait for any possible tertiary development. 89 pointsv
Amalia, Cascina
Piedmont, Italy
Langhe
Rossese Bianco
2014
$17.99
12.0%
Light yellow straw in hue, pools into the glass well, translucent with a subtle green tint at the outer rims. Focused and penetrating nose of mint, anise, lemon peel, has a “skin and pit” character to the apricot, peach, pear fruit scents, while taut doesn’t seem lean. Medium-bodied, good palate weight as the acidity intently shaves away weight, leaves your tongue feeling well scrubbed. More of that high-toned anise, mint to fennel, the pink grapefruit, lemon, paired with the stream water and chalk notes makes for a fresh profile, even a few years down the road. Same basic pear, apple, apricot fruit, not a wine which puts the spotlight on the fruit. Leaves a pleasingly pungent mist behind after you swallow. Not too forceful with its personality. 90 points

Renard
Napa Valley, California
Calistoga
Tres Niños
Blend
2007
$19.99
14.5%
The opaque purple core clinging to purple before the proverbial fade to black, the rims a crisp brick red, looks matured. The nose displays eucalyptus, beef jerky, tar and campfire smoke, solid amount of cherry, red currant to plum fruit, not juicy but consistent, vanillin and butterscotch oak notes bubble up throughout, does not appear to have developed much by way of tertiary characteristics. Medium-bodied, velvety smooth and here the oak is just about out of control, all vanilla, butterscotch, caramel, toasted coconut, and molasses. While the tannic residue puts a hitch in its giddy-up, nothing interferes with the plum, cherry, blackberry fruit. Here too there’s no sense of evolution, just fruit and oak. That said, it is tasty within its chosen idiom. Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, remainder Petite Sirah with 2% Syrah. 88 points

Casenove, Château La
Languedoc/Roussillon, France
Côtes du Roussillon
Cuvée Commandant François Jaubert
Blend
1998
$24.99
13.5%
The black core somewhat dull, not close to opacity despite its lack of true color, the rims show its full maturity, all rusty red and orange, full bricking. At first the nose is all wet sous bois, merde with a metallic edge and notes of peanut shells and ketchup, this moderates very slowly to allow the still formidable blackberry, cherry, cassis fruit through, light menthol and pressed flowers but not many attractive tertiary aromas. Medium-bodied with a soft, plump texture, soaks in well and shows little of the funk found in the nose. Anise, rose petals and something close to eucalyptus but impelled forward by the cherry, plum, currant fruit. Tannins clump up some but mostly resolved. The earthy and leafy qualities show mostly through the finish and, expectedly, retronasally. Seems about 7-8 years past its apogee. 35% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 10% Mourvèdre. 87 points

Institut Agricole Régional
Valle d’Aosta, Italy
Vuillermin
2012
$17.99
14.0%
Filmy throughout, washed out violet core surrounded by brick red and orange rims, while it may look “older” that’s probably just what it looks like per se. The nose starts out smelling like old boot leather and sweat socks, thankfully switches gears into candied raspberry, strawberry fruit, potpourri, incense and witch hazel, not to say that it loses all that leatheriness as well as leafiness. Medium-bodied, the sappy texture really helps it permeate the mouth pores, the tannin sneaky, the acidity a bit more obvious. Tar, asphalt and leather give it a cornerstone, gets lift from dried garden herbs, anise and more of that witch hazel like stuff. Ample strawberry, raspberry to red apple fruit with moments of citrus zest and floral dew mixed in. Rewards extended air time. 85% Vuillermin, 15% unspecified. 90 points

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