Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cabernet Sauvignon Vignette #8 William Hill Napa Valley 2006

William Hill Napa Valley 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, $20.99-$25.99, 90 points, is one of those Cabernet wines that's NOT better than their comparable Merlot,  but are of the same quality and price.
The William Hill Napa Valley 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is dark, it is rich, having a fruit-forward character, pleasant aroma wound in a medium-body and ending with a nice long spice finish.
Winemaker Ralf Holdereid has produced a classic Napa Valley Cab at a very good price; as a special treat, a gift, or even as an everyday wine that will compliment a rib-eye, T-bone, or any steak for that matter, you won't go wrong here.
As a vignette, I just want to say that when you come across a good wine at a good price, you'll not need every detail, but if you want more to persuade you, check-out:

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cabernet Sauvignon Vignette #7 Silverado 2005

Silverado Napa Valley 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, $36.99-$49.99, 91 points, is NOT a QPR Cabernet.
Is it BIG? Yes! Is it cherry and plum, balanced and rich? Yes! Is the Silverado well constructed with a balance of alcohol (14.5%) and acidity (5.61 gpl) yes! But that dog-gone QPR raises its ugly head; for example: "I've opened a 2006 Hall Cabernet (94 points) and discovered one of the most complex wines I know of ($32.99 NH liquor stores), a wine to sip and muse-over with a good book or movie, a wine to contemplate by, but there is no end to the flavors neatly, furtively woven throughout this fine wine, and that's not to say that there isn't dramatic boldness, but this wine is a symphony." her is the Hall Cabernet Review

Does Silverado, at more money than the Hall rise to that kind of greatness? No! Is it smooth enough? Not in my opinion. Does it have a Big reputation? Yes, but at what price?
At a time when inflation has made itself known, the wineries are cutting prices, or trying to; only the very best wines are going to demand the big prices, and my guess is that if their wines are not the "BEST" wines, they'll suffer.

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Cabernet Sauvignon Vignette #6 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley 2006

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, 

$23.99-$29.99, 90 points, has a defined aroma of Currant and spice, complex fruit-driven (Black-berries, Plum) with subtle hints of spice, and is rich yet mellow (12% Merlot).

Everyone hears the name Mondavi, but there is other wineries with that name, and there are lesser and greater products than the the Napa Valley Cabernet, but at a reasonable price, this is the one for me.

The Oakville is almost twice as much, the Reserve is five-times as much, and their $8.99-$10.99 is just a so-so wine to me.


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Cabernet Sauvignon Vignette #5 Geyserpeak 2005 Alexander Reserve

Geyserpeak Winery Alexander Valley Reserve 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, $17.99-$40.00, 90 points, is at $17.99 a Big-Red-Wine at a Big-Savings, and a good deal.
The Geyserpeak is typical in every way: color, aroma, great structure of balanced tannin, acidity, alcohol, fruit, and flavor: it is a generically sound wine, but it is not an outstanding wine.
As stated, this is a good value at $17.99, maybe $24.99, but it is only a "good red wine", a dinner wine that will not detract from your meal, but accentuate it, and that means almost anything, including pasta, red meats, hearty stews and soups.


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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cabernet Sauvignon Vignette #4 Louis M. Martini Napa Valley 2005

This is one of those iconic wine companies that almost everyone has heard of, and even if the name doesn't ring a bell, it sure fits a wine maker perfectly.

Louis M. Martini Napa Valley 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, $19.99-$23.99, 90 points, is crafted with 9% Merlot, 2% Syrah, and 1% Petite Verdot. Meticulous care is taken to prepare the grapes from the Napa Valley Appellation (Early morning picking and keeping the grapes whole).

The results are splendid aromas, deep Bordeaux colors, layers of berry flavors throughout, with a rich texture and long finish.  

The photograph to the right is of the more expensive Alexander Valley Reserve, but the price is ironically the same, because of a "power-buy" by the New Hampshire liquor Stores.
I can't wait to taste mine!

The photo below is the 2007 Sonoma, but since I lost my review notes, I'll be trying this one again, especially since I liked it so much, I bought several bottles.

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Cabernet Sauvignon Vignette #3 Columbia Crest Reserve 2006

Columbia Crest Reserve 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, $27.99, 91 points, is, at least others have told me, comparable to the famous 2005 vintage, which Wine Spectator rated the top of the 100, 2009 wines.
There is a complexity with this Cabernet, but I found it just a bit unbalanced, though the aroma is beautiful, the color deep ruby, and the flavor and texture is rich and lush, with a long pepper finish.
This is a worthy wine, and I recommend it, because it is unique and fresh, with interesting berry notes.
However it is a bit pricey; if you are like me, you'll skip two or three day's worth of "regular wine-fare" to try this, if you can find it.

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Cabernet Sauvignon Vignette #2 Joel Gott 2007

Joel Gott 815 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, $13.00, 87 points, is a "nice" wine, balanced alcohol (14.3%), acidity, flavor, color, aroma, and ends with a fine finish, which usually implies a good wine. Will this Cab knock you over? No! But QPR is very good, the wine is interesting, and will pair with most red-meat cuisine. 


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Cabernet Sauvignon Neglected, But Not Forgotten, Vignette #1

Cabernet Sauvignon needs some attention here on my mostly Zinfandel blog, so I'm looking to give functional reviews (Reviews you can use) that will make trying a new Cabernet  simple, and with good availability to New Hampshire wine tasters, wines hopefully of good quality, and at a fair price.

Vignette is a term that implies brevity, just a peek at what  (In my opinion) basically describes the wines mentioned.

Estancia Paso Robles 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, $10.99-$14.99, 88 points, is high on my list of Quality-Price Ratio (QPR) Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Typical Bordeaux color with a pleasant aroma of dark-berry. Estancia is a surprisingly balanced wine of consistent grape flavor throughout, good texture and a fine spicy finish.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Easton Amador County 2008 Zinfandel

Easton  Amador County 2008 Zinfandel, $13.99-$17.99, 87 points, begins with a slightly vegetative and mild dark berry aromas, having a light ruby color and flavors a bit sharp and rough on the edge, but okay and not unpleasant, but not  that memorable either. Easton ends with a fair spice finish;
paired well with Hamburgers and Club sandwiches, and was an okay compliment to a rare Tenderloin,  goats cheese, and broccoli.

I bought the Easton for $13.99 and you might remember that I said: "Though Zinfandel wines can be found for under $10.00, they do mostly sell for more than your bargain-basement Merlot. . ."

Well, after saying that some time ago, I was reflecting on that statement and I believe it is very true that a "Good" Zinfandel under $10.00 is  near impossible (Not Impossible, for example, I scored the 2008 Dancing Bull 87 points and at $7.99); I have looked at some of the seventy Zins (as of 3-26-2011) I've reviewed, but the Easton Amador County 2008 Zin comes about as close to a "good" Zinfandel wine as you can expect for about $10.00. QPR is very good, but not at $17.99


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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cakebread Cellars Red Hills Lake County 2007 Zinfandel

Cakebread Cellars Red Hills Lake County 2007 Zinfandel, $39.99, 93 points, invites the word "Terroir" to make its appearance ("placeness"), because this Zin comes from "vines which are rooted in magnificent, red volcanic soils (2000 feet above sea-level) and enjoy a perfect southwestern exposure.  Warm sunny days and nights cooled by breezes from nearby Clear Lake provide ideal conditions for California’s heritage grape variety." Cakebread
I opened this Zin cool (57 degrees) and found the nose to be hesitant, but as the wine warmed the aroma of alcohol (15.6%) became cocoa and black cherry.
The color is ruby trending light Shiraz.
The body is medium with bright bold acidity and noticeable tannin.
Flavors are zesty with prominent strawberry. 
The 2007 Cakebread Zin finishes with subtle, but prolonged white pepper.
Zinfandel wines that are smooth, delicious, very drinkable, but not without complexity are hard to find; I believe this is a unique expression of California Zinfandel wine.
As you might have figured out by now, this wine rates high on my recommendation list, even at the higher price.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Irony Merlot (2008 & 2009) Leads The Way

Merlot can be so good, so quaffable, so delicious.

I have strung together a rich string of  (For the most part) very nice Merlot wines.
Some of these Merlot wines are high on the QPR, and is readily available for purchase in New Hampshire.

Irony Napa Valley 2008 Merlot, $11.70-$14.99, 90 points, is delicious. Having a dense Bordeaux color, and a surprising aroma of toasty-grape. This is a medium-bodied wine with a nice feel, very smooth, having hints of bacon and black currant. Just a bit one dimensional, yet what a very nice dimension at that.

Irony Napa Valley 2009 Merlot, $12.99-$14.99, 90 points, is quite different than the 2008 vintage; the tannins are a bit tighter, which lends this vintage to a brighter more dynamic Merlot, yet not as smooth or as quaffable. The 2009 appears the same, but the aroma is not as pronounced.
These two wines remind me of the difference I found with the Beringer 2007 and 2008 Merlot wines Comments on Beringer Merlot Vintagesl
Irony Napa Valley Merlot can be found here:
Call ahead for confirmation, as availability changes moment by moment.

Estancia Central Coast Keyes Canyon Paso Robles 2007 Merlot, $11.99-$14.99, 90 points, because though a light-bodied wine, packed in there is flavor, sweet pleasure in abundance. I paid $11.99 for this wine, and you can't hardly find anything to complain about. The aroma is reticent , the color is typical Bordeaux, and the finish is long and of mild pepper.

Jade Mountain 2007 Merlot, $10.80-$15.00, 90 points, is another smooth, full-flavored Merlot, just much better tasting than the $10.80 I paid for it would hint at. Light Bordeaux color, gentle aromatics, but smooth with just a hint of spice, all wound together with flavors you might expect from a typical Merlot, but richer and brighter, and lacking any offense, this is a wine to try (Just might become a favorite).

Frei Brothers Dry Creek Valley 2006 Merlot, $15.00-$20.00, 86 points, is a bit green and thin, but the flavor is okay. Color is typical, aroma is a bit reticent, however there's a fair finish of spice.
$8.49, 87 points, with an aroma of plum and a color of Bordeaux, but tannic, tart, and tight. The flavor is okay, but as a Merlot-Mellow, it struggles to give that kind of pleasure (Delicious and smooth) I've gotten use to.

Hall Napa Valley 2005 Merlot, $24.99, 90 points, is dense purple, having a pleasant Red-Berry Aroma, a pleasant rich, but gentle palate feel and flavor, with a moderate finish of spice and a hint of chocolate. (Photograph is of the 2006 Hall Merlot)

Shafer Napa Valley 2007 Merlot,$34.9 9-$48.00, 93 points, because there is fireworks in that-there-bottle, with the three Cs aroma of cedar, clove, and cinnamon, flavors (Floral and Fruit-forward) are layered into a very big wine, and it did not surprise me that 15% is made-up of Cabernet Sauvignon, This wine is too much for common Merlot cuisine, but as a standalone wine, the Shafer was an experience, and one maybe too much for Mellow-Merlot lovers.  Having 14.9% alcohol makes this a "dangerous" wine for those of us who are use to Merlot wines rated at 13.5%.

Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Rapel Valley, Chile, 2008 Merlot,
 $8.00-$12.00, 90 points, is bigger than these others, but not as big as the Shafer Merlot. It is darker, and having two of the three Cs, clove and cinnamon, more fragrant  than the others, but not as fragrant as the Shafer Merlot. Concha Y Toro has a long finish of spice rounding off a robust and delicious Merlot. 

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

PK Is A Zin King

PEZZI KING Old Vine Dry Creek 2008 Zinfandel, $29.99, 91 points, became a wonderful reminder of why I just love Zinfandel wine. It opens differently than most I've tried; having a light Burgundy color and a powerful bouquet with many aromas of spice and black-berries. A bombastic blend that equals its multifaceted layers of spiced plum and black cherry throughout the palate and into its long brambly finish.

PKOVDC 2008 paired nicely with guacamole and sour-cream Burritos, or just as a stand-alone sipper.
At 16.1% alcohol, is yet balanced, but this Zin is not to be trifled with.
I found this at Bella Vino (Now out of business:(


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Monday, March 14, 2011

List Of : Viva The Market Vintners (Sells or makes wine)

People Who make Wine Fun
  I've mentioned a number of individuals in the business of selling wine who have made wine so much fun and interesting; people like Paula, Mimi aka. MWYGDS, and Todd, but I hadn't thought just how important these and other "Clerks", or now known as "Wine-Jerkers" are, until today.
   It, sadly, took me sometime to realize that our society's tendency to treat clerks as if they were robots or at least inconsequential, had affected me too.
   So, for good or ill, I'm going to post first names (Usual rule) of those "Wine Jerkers" who have made my day or should be commended by employers or just themselves for being exceptional at what they do.

   So here is a list of recent "Vintners" who fit that category:
Maura-Hannafords, Hanover St.
Keith-NHLS, Hanover St.
Cheryl, NHLS, Bedford
Penny and Roy, NHLS, Hooksett
Christi-NHLS, North Hampton
Jay-NHLS Nashua-Coliseum Dr.
Lisa-NHLS Store #33* Now is Manager of the Bedford NHLS, is talented enough to steer you in the right direction, and friendly enough to make your shopping fun too!
Paul-manager NHLS 93North
Tanya NHLS-Concord (Downtown)
Italian Dave-you know who you are!
Jim from Rte. 93 North

Angie and Sarah (NHLS headquarters), it's been a long time since I've added a choice for a person I'd want to send a Newbie wine taster to for advice, but Angie at NHLS 93 So. is a person someone who has some idea of what's what with wine, but her smile makes all the difference; thanks Angie!

Thanks you guys for being the BEST at what you do.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chopping Away At Chardonnay

From the New Hampshire Liquor Store Web-site  (March 4, 2011) we can see that Chardonnay prices have a broad range; leading the way with their LOW-END 28261 Nathanson Crk Chardonnay Calif 750mL $4.49, and ending with the Special-occasion wine:
28040 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay Napa 750mL $64.99.
I did buy a bottle of Concannon Glen Ellen 2009 Chardonnay for $3.99 on sale at  NHLS, and I will use this as "my" low base-line wine, although I did find Oak Leaf Chardonnay at Wal-Mart for $2.97 ( you almost can't buy a quart of milk for that price anymore). I found at Hannaford's, Night Harvest, Long Lake, and Crane Lake for $4.99, and Pinecroft is (March 11, 2011) 3 for $10.00, but don't forget that if you buy 6 or more bottles you'll get 10% off, same as Stop And Shop.
At Shaws I found Kanga Chardonnay for $4.49, and though I did not try this wine, I've heard fair things (Little to no finish however) about their Shiraz. Shaws usually has a "buy six bottles-get $5.00 off." That may have changed!
It is important to understand that this does not include specials like "Last-chance" wine buys at the NHLS.
When considering a purchase of a Chardonnay (White Wine) the average New Hampshire Chardonnay drinker is tied to availability, Brand or price, and apathy (I'll just grab something-anything at the local-corner-store), but if drinking wine is more than just an event of drinking something-anything, then how does one buy a Chardonnay that is both good and inexpensive?
I believe that this blog, which owes no company anything, will give you the best advice I can, (minus drinking the Wal-Mart super-cheap) and if you have found in the past that my advice has been rewarding, then my Chardonnay picks could be good for you too.
So, here we go with my second posting on Chardonnay
Concannon Glen Ellen Proprietors Reserve 2009 Chardonnay, $3.99, 86 points, was a good surprise: with vanilla (A little too much) and citrus under a crisp canopy of sweet-butter (A little too sweet), this is a competent wine, a yeoman's Chardonnay that will stand the test of dinner-for-two or for a Thanksgiving crowd; as a "stand-out" wine or as a stand-alone wine the Concannon is likely to fail, but what's to be said about a $3.99 Chardonnay, and at 86 points, what's to gainsay?
What can be said by this first review in this series? Just how easily I found a good Chardonnay at an incredible price; let me know if you've tried the Oak Leaf Chardonnay and what you think!
I'll remind you that this is an early foray into the Wonders of White Wine.
I do think that a youthful palate has its benefits: a fresh view, like taking a fourth-grader to the Museum-of Natural History: The Wonder of it all; is this too strong? It is a reflection of just how I've dived into wine, and how I find that the more I examine wine, the more I talk about wine, the more attuned I get, not only to its complexity, but to the natural gift I have for this exploration, the more "at home" I feel around wine and those that enjoy it.
Are there those who make fun of my presumptions and opinions? Well, yes, but just remember this: Steven Spurrier (1976 Wine tasting fame) said, "The results of a blind tasting cannot be predicted and will not even be reproduced the next day by the same panel tasting the same wines."
For some (Me) this is all about the exploration, but for some it is about just getting a bottle of decent wine at a decent price, and if you're not satisfied with just grabbing a bottle, if you're tired of the same-old same-old, then give a look here for an idea, for confirmation, or just out of curiosity what's going on in the world of wine in NH.

Okay, lets get to the next wine:
Clos Du Bois Russian River Reserve 2009 Chardonnay, $12.99, 91 points, is crisp, citrusy, refreshing in every way, having 14.5% alcohol without even a hint of it, smooth and sleek, and with just a touch of Oak it had wonderful drinkability and paired well with Chicken parmesan and Sausage-lentil soup.
This wine will pair with almost any kind of chicken, from garlic, onion, peppered chicken, and EVEN lemon chicken.
I bought three bottles, and if you were to be my guest and wanted to drink a Chardonnay, this is the one I'd pull out of my wine-cooler.
QPR can't be beat!

Cambria Katherine's Vineyard 2007 Chardonnay, $17.99, 91 points, is complex and more a typical round, buttery wine, but has a bit of a spice finish, and is "cleaner" than the Chardonnay wines to follow, except for the Chablis. Cambria is more on the peach flavors than the citrus, but they are all there in wonderful layers. This is a buy, but QPR is not as good as the Clos Du Bois, but is closer to traditional California Chardonnay.

Morgan Metallico Monterey 2009 Un-Oaked Chardonnay, $15.99-$18.99 (I picked-up two for $9.49 ea. at Stop And Shop as a missed priced idem), 89 points, is incredibly crisp (More Like a Sauvignon Blanc) with solid citrus flavors, yet smooth. At the sale price ($15.99) this was a definite buy wine.

Morgan Santa Lucia Highlands 2008 Chardonnay, $19.99-$22.99, 89 points, is balanced and pleasant, with subdued citrus, but round and smooth. As a very traditional Chardonnay, this is a good wine, but has a lot of competition, competition which in part is reflected in the following six wines.

Landmark 2008 Overlook Chardonnay, $19.54-$26.99, 88 points. Traditionally balanced, but QPR makes this not a best buy.

Ferrari-Carano Alexander Valley 2008 Chardonnay, $19.99-$29.99, 88 points, is among the creamiest I've tried, but unless that is what your palate likes the most about a Chardonnay, the average price of $25.99 makes the QPR not so good. 

Baileyana Grand Firepeak Cuvee 2007 Chardonnay,
$17.99-$30.00, 88 points, is, for the lower price, a good buy. This wine is traditional and with well balanced flavors of citrus and peach-pineapple and the gentle-butter-smoothness of a good Chardonnay you have a winner.

La Crema Sonoma Coast 2007 Chardonnay, 
$16.99-$18.99, 88 points, on first tasting was exhilarating, but quickly settled down into a traditional feel and flavor of a good Californian Chardonnay, but at the lower price, once again, you have a winner.

Merryvale Carneros Vintage 2007 Chardonnay, $17.99-$20.99, 87 points, once again falls into that traditional category of rich butter and even a spicy finish, but with the competition so steep, not the best buy in my opinion
I have not mentioned aroma, because to me, they are so alike as to be the same. However with the addition of Joseph Drouhin 2008 Chablis (Chardonnay) I have to mention that this one is definitely different (Not as appealing as the others). The flavor is subtle with a lemon-pie quality, but ever-so light, as light as its color. This wine is clean and pure and reminds me of Perrier water with a squirt of lemon, yet layered like no ordinary water could be.
Joseph Drouhin 2008 Chablis, $19.99, 90 points.

I'm going with the Clos Du Bois Russian River Reserve 2009 Chardonnay as my number one pick.


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Thursday, March 3, 2011


"Many dental experts advise against brushing immediately after a serious red-wine tasting, because, they say, the high acidity of the wine renders your teeth sensitive to abrasion. Brush too soon, and you risk damaging the enamel. This theory holds that it's better to endure the purple tooth syndrome for an hour or so (keep your mouth closed if you're embarrassed) until your mouth's natural acid balance returns. Eating a bit of cheese or even simply rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water will help in the meantime."

The darker the wine the more noticeable will the wine be on your teeth.
I recommend Pinot Noir and  BEAUJOLAIS.

Click on the link for my BEAUJOLAIS recommendation.
Bearboat Russian River Pinot Noir (2006)Smooth and flavorful,
At $14.99, a great wine at a great price. 91 points

Acacia Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir (2007)palate pleasant in every way,
At $23.99 a great wine at still a reasonable price. 90 points

Duckpond cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (2008) light, yet robust, complex, yet approachable,
$18.99 this was a great wine at a great price. 90 points


Elisabeth, if you are interested in a White wine for Little Money I Recommend:
Man Vintners 2009 Chenin Blanc

MAN Vintners 2009 South African Chenin Blanc, 89 points, is refreshing, crisp, clean, with flavors of citrus (Grapefruit) tapering to tropical (Kiwi). For $7.00-$11.00, you can't go wrong trying this wine.
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Australian Shiraz I DID NOT Score 89-92 Points

You might think that I've got into a rut scoring Syrah-Shiraz, because my scores always seem to be between 89-92 points, but I think I've just been fortunate to have tried good Syrah-Shiraz; however, like Zinfandel wines, I stumbled upon some not as good, and reported honestly as I saw it.

These four Australian wines were somewhat of a disappointment to me, and I doubt that I would want to buy them again (You never know).

Nine Stones Barossa 2009 Shiraz, $11.60, 84 points, was a bit thin and did not breathe well.

Lehmann Barossa 2006 Shiraz, $18.99, 86 points, was okay just not enough there to reach that QPR for me, however the Clancy's Red was, but that's for another review.

d'Arenberg The Footbolt 2008 Shiraz, $14.99, 86 points, was big and velvety, paired well with dessert, but I just did not enjoy this wine with two different steaks, and as a stand-alone, I found it wanting.

Layer Cake 2008 Shiraz, $15.00, 86 points, was interestingly complex and spicy, but off-flavor-hints of something I couldn't put my finger on diminished my enjoyment of this wine; Other Layer Cake wines I was very pleased with.

Extreme commentary:
You need to remember that this is a very competitive market, and I advise you to try different wines to find exactly what you like and how much you want to pay, and not to be satisfied with what I or others tell you is good Shiraz or any other wine, but you should know that there are quality wines at reasonable prices (In this case Shiraz) that will complete your wine drinking enjoyment; part of my enjoyment is the exploration. Yesterday a friend told me she did not like Australian Shiraz. If the Australian Shiraz she tasted were any of the four I just 
mentioned, or all of them, I don't blame her.

As you can see by the picture (Right) I have a long ways to go in my exploration.


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Chile Sings the Syrah Serenade


$11.89, 90 points was hard to beat for a Quality/Price/Ratio (QPR) red wine; with a most unusual and pleasant aroma of hidden blackberries with gentle airs of candy-cane.
Typically dark dense purple colors, but the flavors were vibrantly fruit-forward carried boldly on a medium body and with hints of bacon and cigar.

I liked this wine, but it didn't breath as well as the other Syrah-Shiraz wines I've tasted in this latest group, but was undoubtedly a great value and will stand alone or pair well with beefy and spicy cuisine as it complements its own spiciness.


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