COVID-19 "Shelter-in-Place"

Redwood City, CA

Tasted March 17, 2020 - May 31, 2020 by daveyk39 with 260 views

Introduction

We are currently under a shelter in place order in Northern California. No one in our house is sick or showing symptoms, but seemed like I should gather all the wine notes from this period into a story, because we're all looking for things to do to make the time pass and keep our minds off it, right?

The day prior to the order going into effect, I had planned to make a run to my local wine store (K&L). K&L closed before I got there, but luckily they are still delivering!

So we're drinking a mix of what's on hand and what I could get ordered quickly!

Flight 1 - Week 1 (March 17-23) (12 notes)

Red
2017 Mount Edward Pinot Noir TED New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Central Otago
87 points
Purchased in my last order prior to the shelter-in-place order because Mount Otago is a favorite that rarely disappoints, and I had this about a year ago, so it was a known quantity that may have evolved some. Plus can be popped-and-poured. Looking for simple and pleasing on our first night!

Pale garnet color. Aromas of raspberry, cranberry, mushroom, and white pepper. Light-bodied, silky texture, supple tannins. Cherry and earthiness on the palate, tartness in the mid-palate. Cliff-edged, with some green notes in the finish.
Red
2017 Hahn GSM USA, California, Central Coast
88 points
Day 2, Bottle 2. Have enjoyed the SLH Pinot Noir from this producer and wanted a fruity and accessible wine to go with dinner while we relaxed and started watching The Witcher to kill the time.

90m air for this blend of 65% Grenache, 33% Syrah, 2% Mourvedre. Aged 9 months in 40% new French oak.

Medium/dark Purple color. Aromas of raspberry, blackberry, baking spice, dried herbs and potting soil. Creamy texture, medium-body, juicy red fruit and blueberry on the palate. Powdery tannins provide spine while citrusy acidity adds lift through the finish which adds notes of spice and earth.

Fruity, attractive and just what I needed.
White
2018 Astrolabe Wines Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
87 points
Long day working from home here on Day 3...needed something earlier than usual, plus we're planning a stir-fry for dinner, so grabbed this Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc out of the fridge.

Very pale gold color. Aromas of green apple, crushed gravel, honey and cut grass. Crisply acidic, with grapefruit and green apple on the palate. Satin texture.

I needed this right now.
Red
2017 Jean-Louis Denois Syrah Saint Louis France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Limoux
89 points
Day 3, needed something bigger and bolder so reaching for Syrah from Limoux. Gave it 2h air, it's young after all. As it turns out, may not be good to mix alcohol and The Witcher, Episode 4.

Medium violet color, strikingly violet. Cherry, blueberry, white pepper, cured meat. Very fruit on the nose. Medium-full bodied, creamy texture. Black and blue fruit on entry, but very restrained compared to the aroma. Earthy in the mid palate and hints of anise in the finish. Citrus lift and a backbone of chunky tannins.

Such a disparity between aroma and palate...in the end, robust and earthy and a real value.

If we survive, I may have to stock up on more.
Red
2016 Louis Jadot Morgon Château des Jacques France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon
87 points
Pizza night in our lock down; lacking any kind of Sangiovese, opted for Beaujolais.

Medium/light ruby color, bare hints of orange. Cherry, toast, sage and allspice. Creamy texture, medium-light body. Dark cherry, earthy, with hints of licorice in the finish.
1 person found this helpful Comments (2)
Red
2017 Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvée USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
88 points
Ending the week with something fuller and richer.

90m air. Medium/Dark ruby color. Cherry, plum, pepper, leather. Medium-Full body, velvety texture, red and black fruit on the palate, hints of chocolate, sinewy tannins.
White
2019 Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Single Vineyard Te Muna Road Vineyard New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough
89 points
Day drinking because there's so little else to do...

Very pale straw color. Peach, kaffir lime, wildflower honey, citrus aromas. Medium-light body, rich, oily texture. Peach and citrus on the palate with minerality through the lingering finish. Crisp and zesty...if we survive, will have to buy more of these.
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Red
2010 Château de la Dauphine France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Fronsac
91 points
Splurging a bit this evening and drinking my last bottle of this 2010 Fronsac. 90% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc. Goal is to remind us of life's pleasures which will return, and this does not disappoint.

90m air. Medium/Dark ruby with bricking around the edges. Aromas of plums, licorice, smoke, lavender, dried herbs. Medium-full body, red and black fruit on the palate, with a skeleton of sinewy tannins. Developed, balanced.
Red
2016 Seghesio Family Vineyards Defiant USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
90 points
Close out a long Saturday with Netflix and something big, bold, and familiar. Field blend (44% Zinfandel, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Syrah, 10% Petit Syrah, & 4% Alicante). Aged 15 mos in FR & AM oak barrels (75% neutral & 25% new).

Medium/Dark purple with hints of ruby. Strong aromas of cherry, blackberry, hoisin sauce,bay leaf and green olive. Medium-full body, lush, velvety texture, polished tannins. Dark and earthy on the palate, with a citrus lift in the finish. Dense, balanced and as pleasant as I recall.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir Barda Argentina, Patagonia, Río Negro
89 points
Day drinking while watching Overwatch League friendlies...

Pinot Noir from Patagonia, Aged 10 months in French oak. Pale ruby color. Slightly shy aromas of red plum, raspberry, mushroom and dried herbs. Medium-light bodied, powdery tannins, with tart red fruit, especially raspberry, and earthy notes on the palate and a spicy lift in the finish. Attractive and delicate.
Red
2017 Maison les Alexandrins Crozes-Hermitage France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage
90 points
End of the weekend, and even though I am not sure it was any different from what it would have been without the "shelter-in-place" order (aside from, maybe, the day drinking), not having options made it feel long.

Going from some Northern Rhône Syrah to close things out. 3h air.

Dark purple color. Aromas of plum, blackberry, smoke, bacon fat and pepper. Medium-full bodied, supple on the palate, with red and black fruit and a peppery mid-palate. Finishes long and chewy.
Red
2017 Siduri Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
89 points
Long, long, long day bay working from the kitchen table. No time to prep anything so grabbed something PNP out, a Pinot from the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Bright ruby color. Cherry and cranberry, nutmeg, hint of oak and white pepper. Silky on the palate, medium-light bodied. Initially extremely, unpleasantly, tart. Resolves after 30m or so in glass to a very pleasing red fruit and mocha mixture. Long finish with supple tannins.

This Pinot is nice, but in 2-3 years should be even better.
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Flight 2 - Week 2 (March 24-30) (10 notes)

Red
2016 Les Vignerons de Tautavel Vingrau Côtes du Roussillon Villages Tautavel Silex Tautavel France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages Tautavel
89 points
Roughest day yet. Don't want to go into details, but COVID19 touched my personal life a bit too close today, and left me with a deep sense of dis-equilibrium.

Responding with a Tautavel that is 60% Grenache Noir, 30% Syrah & 10% Carignan. 90m air.

Dark ruby color. Redolent of dark plums, potting soil, chocolate and 5 spice powder. Medium-full bodied, creamy texture. Earthy dark plums on entry, some bitterness in the mid-palate, and a lingering finish with unresolved muscular tannins. Earthy, big, crying for some cellar time.
Red
2015 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Reserva Finca Ygay Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
89 points
Enjoyed previously, so pulling this for something familiar.

2h air. Blend of 80% Tempranillo, 12% Graciano, 6% Mazuelo, and 2% Garnacha. Aged 18 months in American Oak.

Medium Ruby color. Strong aromas of dark cherry, oak, dried leaves, cured meat and a hint of anise. Creamy texture, medium-bodied, with dark cherry and oak on the palate, buttressed by polished tannins, and a lingering finish with hints of mocha and buttered popcorn. Young, but admirable balance (oak needs to tone down a bit) and depth.
Red
2017 Domaine Dupré Pinot Noir Bourgogne France, Burgundy, Bourgogne
87 points
Light ruby color. Aromas of game, gravel, chocolate with the barest hint of strawberry. Earthy and minerally on the palate. Reasonable old world style for the price.
Red
2017 Greystone / Grey's Peak Pinot Noir Nor'wester New Zealand, South Island, Canterbury, Waipara
88 points
Going lighter tonight, to match a better mood.

Pale ruby color. Lightly aromatic of strawberry, cranberry, mushroom, white pepper and florality. Medium-light bodied. Assertive sinewy tannins provide a backbone for cranberry with spicy notes. Youthful, simple.
Red
2016 Belle Fiore Vineyards Teroldego Belle Arte USA, Oregon, Southern Oregon, Rogue Valley
88 points
Received a shipment from this boutique winery in the Rogue Valley last evening. Trying their Teroldego, which is a varietal I have never tried before, largely because it's native to Italy and we had bruschetta with dinner.

1h air. Inky purple color and serious viscosity in glass. Aromas of backberry, a slightly worrying amount of oak, 5 spice powder and chocolate. Silky texture, dark and dense blackberry, surprisingly well-balanced oak, and a spicy finish with lingering sinewy tannins. A pleasant surprise.
Red
2016 Belle Fiore Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve USA, Oregon, Southern Oregon, Rogue Valley
87 points
End of a long work week, now looking at two days of exactly the same things, just with no specific work.

Dipping back into the Belle Fiore delivery, this time a Cab Franc, aged in French and American Oak, 50% new. 2h of air. Dark ruby color. Aromas of red plum, pepper, dried leaves, hints of oak. Medium-light body, powdery tannins, with juicy red fruit on the palate and a tangy finish.
Red
2017 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec Lunlunta Argentina, Mendoza, Maipú, Lunlunta
88 points
Life-saving that K&L Wines continues local delivery. This is part of a new case I bought as we exit the second week of this Shelter-in-Place order, so I do not add the stress of drinking the same bottles, or breaking heavily into my stash of 'too young" age-worthy bottles.

From the sub-region of Lunlunta, vineyards that are 3,000' (900m) above sea level. 12 months in barrel, mostly French, 35% new.

Gave 1h air. Medium-dark purple. Aromas of plum, black cherry, white pepper, allspice and violet. Medium-bodied, silky texture, with plum and cherry on the palate, and a robust mid-palate of spiciness and velvety tannins.
Red
2016 Belle Fiore Vineyards Pinot Noir USA, Oregon, Southern Oregon, Rogue Valley
87 points
Cherry, potting soil, chocolate, clove, vanilla. Silky texture. Red fruit on the palate. Hollow, but with a pleasant tang to the finish.
Red
2017 Aerena Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, North Coast, Red Hills Lake County
87 points
Have a great fondness for wines from high altitude and volcanic soils, so had high hopes for this one. Drinking early while watching OWL, which is as close to sports as exists right now on a weekend.

Medium-Light ruby color. Aromas of cherry, raspberry,mocha, baking spices. Satin texture, plush tannins, juicy red fruit, with pronounced flavors of raspberry, and spiciness to the finish. Reminds me more of a Walla Walla Merlot than a Napa Cab, but attractive and fruity and for that enjoyable.
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Red
2017 Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, North Coast, Napa County
89 points
Focusing on Napa Cab for this evening in lock-down.

Medium ruby color. Aromas of cherry, blackberry, leather, clay dust and pipe tobacco. Creamy texture, and fine-grained tannins which provide enough structure to support the flavors of cherry and blackberry on the palate, with hints of anise through the finish. Attractive and round.

If tonight's two bottles are indicative, the 2017 Napa vintage will be marked less by the fires that threatened its close and more by the warm weather that marked the rest of the year. Alcohol levels, in the bottles we drank are reasonable, and there's a lushness which shines in youth.

We'll see as more becomes available...

Flight 3 - Week 3 (March 31 - April 6) (8 notes)

Red
2016 Ryan Patrick Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Rock Island USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
90 points
After drinking several Napa Cabs over the weekend that reminded me of Washington wines, decided to skip the middleman and go for a Washington Cab this evening.

Aged 22 months: 50% American Oak, 50% Stainless Steel.

2h air. Medium garnet color. Cherry, plum, chocolate, pepper, fresh sage. Creamy texture, black fruit and sage on the palate, peppery in the mid-palate, with broad fine-grained tannins in the finish. Balanced and dense.
Red
2016 K Vintners Syrah Milbrandt Vineyard USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope
89 points
April Fool's Day does not arrive with the news that this pandemic has just been one giant prank. Instead we learn that the lockdown has been extended to May 3rd.

So it's off to the wine we go. Hopefully a Washington Syrah is big enough to wash away the bitter news.

2h air. Medium-Dark Ruby color. Aromas of plum, black raspberry, eucalyptus, pepper and dried leaves. Lush and creamy on the palate, with equally lush flavors of red and black fruit. Peppery in the mid-palate with a frame of grippy tannins. Robust and big as hoped!
Red
2016 Tenuta di Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
90 points
Pizza night again, and this time we have Sangiovese, thanks to K&L Local Delivery.

2h air. Medium-Light garnet color. Aromas of cherry, clay pot, crushed gravel and sweet tobacco. Silky texture, a backbone of chalky tannins. Very earthy on the palate, with accents of red fruit and anise. Supple.
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Red
2010 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva, Selección Especial Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
92 points
As we enter the 3rd weekend of lock-down, it seemed like we deserved something special, so I broke out one of these, which I have been seeing raved about on CT fairly consistently.

Gave it 2h air to allow it to open up, based on those notes. Medium-Garnet with brick around the edges. Strong aromas of red cherry, dill, wood smoke and lime peel. Silky texture, with red cherry, dill and smoke on entry and dark fruit in the mid-palate. A broad, lifted finish with a hint of spice and rounded tannins.

Seductive, deep, with further room to evolve and improve. Drinking one tonight made the situation a little bit better, but very glad I have more for later!
6 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2017 Domaine de la Janasse Côtes du Rhône Reserve France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
86 points
Having to get more creative in terms of entertainment now, as we're running through options faster than normal and lots of standard options, like sports, are unavailable. So we spent the night watching episodes of UK Masterchef: The Professionals on YouTube, and opted for a bit more low-brow on the wine side.

90m air for this Rhône blend (55% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 10% Carignan and 5% Cinsault, 5% Mouvedre) from a 20 acre vineyard adjacent to the Chateauneuf de Pape vineyards owned by Domaine Janasse. Aged for 12 months in vats and foudres.

Ruby/purple color. Aromas of blueberry, cherry, Provence herbs and pepper. Medium-bodied, round, with distinct blueberry notes throughout. Soft, simple, fruity.
2 people found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
2015 M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages Latour
87 points
Confessing to a bit of intent to dull the senses this evening. So a Côtes du Roussillon Villages with 15.5% ABV makes an appearance.

Blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 10% Carignan. About a half matured in vats and the other half in casks.

90m air. Inky ruby color. Strong earthy aromas of forest floor, mushroom, five spice powder with just a hint of plum. Medium-full body, silky texture, powdery tannins. Just as earthy on the palate: forest floor and plums. Big and earthy.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2017 Domaine Lucien Lardy Morgon Côte du Py France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon
88 points
Rainy day, so going for something familiar, uncomplicated and attractive. Thoroughly enjoyed and stashed away bottles from 2016 and 2017 vintages, but breaking into one a bit early here.

Medium ruby color. Aromas of strawberry, pomegranate, potting soil, green olives and a hint of roasting coffee. Medium-light body, silky texture, fresh and juicy red fruit, balanced by earth and herb on the palate. Not quite as good as I recall, but still attractive and just what I was looking for on the evening.

Time now for some patience to let the remaining bottles evolve.
Red
2016 Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
89 points
Reserva from a family-owned estate. 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha 10% Mazuelo and Graciano. Aged for 24 months in oak and 12 additional months in bottle.

Medium purple color, which if I hadn't poured it with my own hands I would swear was Syrah. Intensely aromatic: cherry, blackberry, toast, baking spice, sage and a hint of vanilla. Thick, creamy texture, with loads of fresh cherry on the palate and not much in the way of wood or earth notes, until you get a hint of espresso (along with some spiciness) in the finish. Seriously grippy tannins don't interfere with the flavor, but linger on the cheek and teeth for along time.

Surprising and generally enjoyable.
3 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 4 - Week 4 (April 7-13) (6 notes)

Red
2015 Belle Fiore Vineyards Siderio USA, Oregon, Southern Oregon, Rogue Valley
88 points
A Bordeaux blend from the boutique Rogue Valley winery we discovered last year when we were still allowed to go to Ashland and watch Shakespeare. Sadly, the festival has had to cancel the rest of its season, so no trip and no Shakespeare this year.

Medium-dark ruby color. Faint aromas of cherry, vanilla, potting soil. red and black fruit on entry, satin texture, with a grippy finish that has hints of pepper and anise.
Red
2016 Château Malescasse France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
88 points
50% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot, gave 2h air.

Dark garnet color. Aromas of dark plum, wisps of barnyard, crushed gravel and allspice. Juicy and medium-bodied, with dark fruit and berries, hints of anise and a spine of sinewy, if slightly stalky, tannins.
Red
2015 Château Fontesteau France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
89 points
90m air for this blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 2% Cab Franc. Deep aromas of blackcurrant, spice box, cured meat and red plum. Sily texture, medium-light body. Red fruit and earthiness on the palate, licorice in the finish, and lovely supple tannins.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Belle Fiore Vineyards Icon Souspire USA, Oregon, Southern Oregon, Rogue Valley
90 points
Disaster! I waited too long to re-order from K&L and their delivery dates are now out to a week away, so, for the rest of this week, will mostly be working through bottles I've had somewhat recently that I was keeping around to try again later this year. As far as impacts from COVID go, a lack of diversity in wine is probably not in the upper 50%, I admit.

Bland of 70% Syrah, 20% Malbec and 10% Barbera from a boutique vineyard in Rogue Valley. Aged in a mix of French and American Oak, with 30% new.

Inky purple color. Deeply aromatic, with dark plums and boysenberry, compost, baking spices, lavender and pepper. Creamy texture, full-bodied, dark fruit and earthy notes on the palate. Fine-grained tannins and a lingering finish. Dense, youthful, but reasonably balanced.
Red
2012 Wind Gap Wines Syrah Armagh Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
85 points
Doing an in-house horizontal "tasting" of two Wind Gap Syrahs, both from 2012 but from different vineyards.

First up is the Armagh vineyard. Medium-dark ruby color. Aromas of cherry, blackberry, white pepper, dust. Mostly cherry on the palate, with hints of pepper and blueberry. Lacking in texture, body (would call it Medium-Light bodied) and structure. Acid is out of balance, adding distinct citrus notes and tannins are absent.

Feels like this may be fading. Gave 2.5h air, and I think I will drink the last bottle soon, rather than saving it, and will PNP.
Red
2012 Wind Gap Wines Syrah Nellessen Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
87 points
Part 2 of our in-house horizontal tasting from Wind Gap 2012. Both are cold-climate Syrah, which is something I seek out actively. Clocking in at 12% ABV, this vintage was probably pushing the boundaries of ripeness.

Medium/Dark ruby/purple color. Heavy on the earthy aromas: dark plums, wood smoke, mushroom, gravel and bacon fat. Satin texture, medium bodied. Plums on the palate, with hints of blueberry and smoke.

Better than the Armagh, but similarly lacking in balance and structure. Acid dominates, with a similar citrus tartness to it, but at least this has a dusting of fine-grained tannins in the finish. Feels on the downside also, though not as dramatically fading as the Armagh.

Don't think I will drink them together again, will also drink this in the next 1-2 months and PNP.

Flight 5 - Week 5 (April 14 - 20) (16 notes)

Red
2012 Glenelly Estate Reserve Red Blend South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
89 points
Made it through another weekend, with the interminable hours to fill and kill. While Monday brings with it the joy of work to kill half the day, it also brings a level of stress over what the situation is doing to my work, and other people's work.

At least Monday also brings fresh news that it appears Governors in several crucial states are joining together to define a way out of this phase of the crisis that is based on science. While it all feels a long way away, it is at least progress.

All of which is to say that obviously (obviously!) we're going for a Stellenbosch blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Shiraz, 11% Petit Verdot, 6% Merlot tonight.

Dark ruby, with some faint hints of brick. Aromas of black currant, plums, warm spices, vanilla, pepper, green olives. Creamy texture, medium-full bodied with bags of dark berry on the palate and a grippy, peppery finish.

One more day down, one more bottle down.
Red
2018 Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, North Coast, Napa County
85 points
Running low on wine and nothing in the house that we haven't had recently, and the delivery from K&L isn't until Friday, so had to see what I could find on the supermarket shelf and hope for the best.

Starting tonight with a Napa County Cab, which I gave 2h of air, since it's from a very recent vintage. As it happens, I doubt that was necessary.

Medium/Light ruby with some hints of violet. Very fruity aromas of dark cherry and raspberry, with background notes of balsamic, gravel, and baking spice. Medium-full bodied, satin texture, also very red fruit-driven on the palate, with some pepper and tartness in the finish. Lacking structure, with very limited tannic presence, so it just feels a bit flabby.
Red
2017 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot Decoy Sonoma County USA, California, Sonoma County
86 points
Intense ruby color, almost shimmering. Very aromatic, with cherry, plum, incense and clay pot. Creamy texture, lush and tart red fruit on the palate, with a spicy finish. Grippy tannins add structure late, but overall it's just a bit fat and nondescript (ironic, having just attempted to describe it).
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2017 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County USA, California, Sonoma County
88 points
Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (mostly), Petite Sirah and Merlot sourced from Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley, during the fire-ravaged vintage of 2017. Spent 16 months in French and American Oak.

Dark ruby color. Aromas of cherry, plum, clove, mushroom and black tea. Medium-Full bodied, creamy texture, dense dark fruit on thee palate, framed by polished tannins. A robust wine, with great structure, and some aging potential.
Red
2017 Alexander Valley Vineyards Homestead USA, California, Sonoma County
88 points
What would have been Tax Day comes and goes with nary a mention of it. Instead I have streaming content and a blend of 48% Merlot, 20% Zinfandel, about 10% each of Grenache, Mourvedre and Cabernet Sauvignon, plus a bit of Syrah to round out this wacky mixture.

Aged in 25% new American and French oak barrels for 14 months. Each individual lot is barrel aged separately.

Medium/Dark ruby color. Aromas of black currant, sour cherry, pepper and dust. Medium-full body, silky texture, lush round tannins, red and black fruit. The finish is peppery, but a bit stalky. This is attractive and uncomplicated.
Red
2016 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
87 points
Dark ruby color. Leads with cherry and blackberry, with hints of oak, allspice and lavender following. Satin texture, medium-full body. Cherry on entry, with anise and spice in the mid-palate. Fine-grained tannins, but just a little too unstructured to support the weight of fruit.
Red
2007 Bodegas Poesia Poesia Argentina, Mendoza, Lujan de Cuyo
93 points
Had a video happy hour with friends this evening and broke out this high altitude Argentine Malbec/CabSauv blend. 30s into the call, the puppy crashed into the wine glass, killing off a glass of this lovely elixir. C'est la pandemic.

Medium-light brick color. Opens with evolved and harmonious notes of fig, clay pot, dried leaves and sweet tobacco...secondary and tertiary notes emerged. Medium-full body, silky texture, dark fruit, warm, subtle spice and hints of anise. Resolved chalky tannins add backbone. Developed, elegant, seductive.

Damn shame the puppy wasted a glass of it!
Red
2018 Daou Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
85 points
Fruity and simple, not going to bother going deeper than that.
Red
2010 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Viña Real Gran Reserva Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
91 points
Intense medium-Light ruby. Aromas of vanilla, dill, cherry, green olive and dried leaves. Medium-bodied, intense acidity and flavors of red fruit, earth and dill, with a backbone of fine-grained tannins. Robust, still in the process of integrating, will give it 5 more years before dipping into the rest.
Red
2017 Hanzell Pinot Noir Sebella USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
89 points
Very pale ruby color. Explodes with aromas of strawberry, cranberry, mushroom, with hints of smoke and allspice. Silky texture, medium-light body, bright red fruit and earth on the palate. Simple, enjoyable, PNP-able...a good wine to have at hand right now.
Red
2017 Azienda Agricola F. Tornatore Etna Rosso Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC
88 points
1h air. Very pale ruby color. Shyly give up hints of honeysuckle, raspberry, citrus zest, Mediterranean herbs and gravel. Satin texture, medium-light body, powdery tannins, with bright red raspberry flavor. I was expecting something more earthy, coming from the volcanic soils of Sicily, instead this is fresh and light, if a little soft for my taste.
Red
2016 Querciabella Mongrana Toscana IGT Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
87 points
Gave 2.5h air to open it up, before putting back in the fridge before drinking. It then opened more in glass, so I would suggest drinking at room temperature.

Light garnet color. Very shy, but picking out hints of cherry, anise, rose petals and black tea. Medium-light body, silky texture, tart cherry on entry with minerality and anise through the finish. Chalky tannins are still a bit assertive and may need a year or two to ripen before they step aside and let the wine shine through.
Red
2016 Château Lespault Martillac France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
89 points
Medium ruby color. Shy aromas of cherry, fig, crushed gravel, leather and baking spice. Silky texture, medium-full body, with fresh and zesty red fruit and a peppery finish. Tannins remain a bit assertive and grippy in the finish. This is a robust, dense wine that, while probably never becoming something truly remarkable, should provide great enjoyment for the next decade or so.
Red
2016 Château Beaumont France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
88 points
2h air. Medium-dark ruby color. Dark plum, blackberry, mushroom, white pepper. Creamy texture, juicy red and black fruit and loads of umami notes on the palate, all framed by sinewy tannins. In a fine place right now, and offers an option for those nights when a solid, uncomplicated Bordeaux is what you need.
Red
2017 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
87 points
2h air for this 2017 Napa Cab. Medium ruby color. Plums, cherry, sweet tobacco, and hints of oak in the background. Medium-full bodied, bright red fruit, with a spiciness to the finish, but a harshness to the tannins that needs time to resolve. Fairly simple and youthful.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2016 La Massa La Massa Toscana IGT Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
89 points
2h air for this IGT blend of 65% Sangiovese, 25% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Medium-dark ruby color. Shy aromas of cherry, blackberry, clay pot and tarragon. Juicy blackberry flavors in the medium body, with hints of tarragon and pepper peeking through. Dense and attractive.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 6 - Week 6 (April 21 - 27) (10 notes)

Red
2017 Petra Zingari Toscana IGT Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
89 points
Pizza night! Gave 2h air to this blend of 25% each Merlot, Sangiovese, Syrah and Petit Verdot. Medium ruby color. Aromas of black cherry, plum, clay pot, petroleum and oak. Creamy texture, medium-full body, bright red and black fruit, anise, and earthy notes, with a spicy finish, framed by chalky tannins. This is dense and supple, and a QPR monster.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 John Duval Wines Plexus Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
88 points
Medium-dark purple color. Plum, leather, blackberry,mushroom, eucalyptus. Creamy texture, medium-full body. Fruit-driven, pleasant.
Red
2015 Château Moulin de la Bridane Cuvée Clos du Meunier France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
91 points
Going to St. Julien's 2015 vintage (pretty sure for the first time) and a little known Château this evening. No idea of the wine's blend or aging characteristics as a result.

2h air and then improved noticeably in glass.

Medium-dark garnet color. Aromas of blackberry, strawberry, rose, clove and tobacco. Medium bodied, with tart dark fruits and a pronounced, pleasant earthiness. Backbone of fine-grained tannins and a lingering, earthy finish. It's a tad lean, if that's not your style, but to my taste graceful, earthy and something I want to drink again.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2016 Château Haut-Brisson France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
89 points
Right bank 2016. Blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc aged in 35% new oak.

2.5h air.

Medium-dark ruby color. Aromas of plum, blackcurrant, mushroom, game, pepper and a hint of oak. Soft on the palate, with lush texture and plush tannins and medium-full body. Blackcurrant and plum, with hints of umami throughout. Spicy finish.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2016 Whitehall Lane Merlot USA, California, Napa Valley
89 points
86% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot, Aged in 35 % new French oak and 65% neutral barrels for 20 months.

Gave 60m air.

Medium ruby color. Plums, blackcurrant, cedar, hazelnut and hints of eucalyptus. Velvety texture, medium-full body, plush and dense on the palate. Red and black fruit, licorice, with a peppery finish.
Red
2016 Cenyth Proprietary USA, California, Sonoma County
88 points
50% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Sauvignon.

2.5h air. Medium-dark purple color. Plums, chocolate, leather, sandalwood, clove. Satin texture and tart blackberry on the palate, with a deep earthiness. Assertive chalky tannins and stalky in the finish.
Red
2016 Seghesio Family Vineyards Defiant USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
90 points
Drank over two days, significantly improved on Day 2.

Field blend (44% Zinfandel, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Syrah, 10% Petit Syrah, & 4% Alicante). Aged 15 mos in FR & AM oak barrels (75% neutral & 25% new).

Medium/Dark purple color. Aromas of cherry, prune, oak, nutmeg, bread and green olive. Medium-full body. Zesty red and black fruit, round tannins, hints of licorice and a bit of spicyness to the finish. Dense and balanced.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Château Tour Leognan France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
88 points
The third wine from Château Carbonnieux, blend of Cab and Merlot, from the young vines (less than 12 years old).

Medium-dark garnet color. A tad shy, with earthy aromas of cherry, leather, bell pepper and mushroom. Silky texture, medium bodied, equally earthy on the palate, but with fresh blackberry making an appearance. Fine-grained tannins round out this earthy, developed wine that meets it's aim of being made for early drinking.
White
2018 Te Mata Estate Sauvignon Blanc Cape Crest New Zealand, North Island, Hawke's Bay
91 points
Loved the 2017 vintage and finally trying out 2018...does not disappoint. Very pale gold color. Aromas of melon, lychee, blackcurrant leaf, bread and flint. Lovely oily texture, with etched flavors of melon and hints of flint and lychee throughout. Crisp and graceful.
Red
2016 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
86 points
2h air for this Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (with touches of Cabernet Franc and Malbec). Aged in French Oak for 18 months (20% new).

Medium-dark ruby color. Deep aromas of plum, blackberry, tobacco, bell pepper and soy sauce. Medium-full bodied, lacking a bit in structure, with limited, tart acid and plush tannins. Plums and blackberry on the palate, with a hint of tobacco in the finish. Not my style, just a bit too fruity and flabby.

Flight 7 - Week 6 (April 28 - May 3) (10 notes)

Red
2016 Querciabella Mongrana Toscana IGT Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
90 points
Trying this again, as I mistakenly ordered an extra bottle. Gave 2.5h air but never put it back in the fridge so was drinking at room temperature, which helped immensely.

Pale garnet color. Real depth of aroma, with cherry, raspberry, oak, pepper, caramel and violet. Medium body, silky texture, deep, tart red fruit and dense earthiness, wisps of pepper, licorice, and caramel, and a bright raspberry lift to the finish. Tannins are a bit chalky and assertive, but this wine has elegance and potential.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2016 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
89 points
2.5h air. Alexander Valley Cab (95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petite Sirah) aged 18 months in a combination of French and American oak (32% new).

Ruby color, aromas of plum and blackcurrant, clove, oak, mushroom, caramel and a hint of green (fern?). Medium-full body, skeleton of muscular tannins, flavors of plum, blackcurrant and earthiness, with a wisp of spice in the finish. Dense and rich, a very pleasant wine.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2015 Château de Montfaucon Lirac Baron Louis France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Lirac
91 points
Medium Ruby color. Aromas of prune, rose, clove, pepper, leather. Creamy texture, medium bodied, supple, fine-grained tannins. Dark fruit and anise on the palate, with spice and pepper through the finish.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2019 Mohua Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
88 points
Very pale gold color. Aromas of peach, grapefruit, guava, linden flower, cut grass and gravel. Silky texture, light-bodied, crisp flavors of guava and peach. Very solid QPR.
Red
2017 Halcon Vineyards Syrah Alturas USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands
89 points
From a vineyard at 2,500' altitude in Anderson Valley. Aged in mostly neutral oak, about 10% new oak.

Medium-dark ruby color. Plum, blackberry, violet, bacon, coffee thyme. Medium-full body, satin texture, chewy tannins. Red fruit and blueberry on the palate, with bacon in the mid-palate and a bit of stalkiness in the finish. Drinking reasonably right now, with room to evolve.
Red
2017 Domaine des Rémizières Crozes-Hermitage Cuvée Christophe France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage
90 points
Aged for 15 months in 70% new barrels and 30% in 1-year-old barrels.

Dark purple color. Prune, blackberry, leather, nutmeg, coffee, thyme. Full-bodied, dense, with a skeleton of chewy tannins enveloping dark fruit, spice and hints of coffee and thyme in the finish. A bit firm, but should be a gem in a few years.
Red
2014 Domaine Jean Royer Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Tradition France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
89 points
75 % Grenache, 15 % Syrah, 5 % Mourvèdre, 5 % Cinsault. Pale garnet color. Cherry, plum, leather, pepper, thyme. Medium-full body, silky texture, bright red fruit, earthy, with hints of thyme in the robust finish.
Red
2011 Domaine Jean Royer Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Prestige France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
87 points
Pale garnet color. Cherry, pepper, sandalwood, leather, toast. Medium-bodied, broad and smooth tannins, red fruit and tarragon flavors. Think this one is nearing the end of it's life, feels a bit fallen over already.
Red
2015 Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Prelude Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
89 points
Passed through Vinturi. Medium ruby color. Complex, if primary, bouquet of fruit, earth and green: blackcurrant, cedar, eucalyptus, soy sauce, forest floor, blackcurrant leaf.

Creamy texture, medium-full body of dark fruit with hints of anise. Muscular tannins need some time to resolve in this robust, but assertive wine. Could be even better in 2-3 years.
Red
2017 Hanzell Pinot Noir Sebella USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
91 points
Very pale ruby color. Absolutely explodes with aromas of strawberry, pomegranate, game, forest floor, nutmeg and just a hint of chocolate. Equally vibrant on the palate, with a backbone of silky tannins supporting crisp, tart red fruit and warm spices in the silky, medium-light body. Elegant and balanced.

Flight 8 - Week 6 (May 4 - May 10) (13 notes)

First easing of restrictions this week. Outdoor businesses are opening and fewer restrictions on outdoor activity. Still waiting on word related to testing capacity and contact tracing abilities, which is when we'll be able to move into Phase 2 of the response. Fingers-crossed it won't be too long now..."weeks not months" is what the Governor said.

Red
2018 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon Villages Domaine de Bila-Haut L'Esquerda France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages
88 points
Blend of 60/40 Grenache/Syrah. Medium purple color. Aromas of plum, strawberry, coffee, leather, pepper, mushroom and violet. Medium bodied, with red and black fruit on the palate enveloped by muscular, chewy tannins.
Red
2018 Château Haut-Musset France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Lalande de Pomerol
88 points
Ran across this very early 2018 Bordeaux from a family estate run by a husband wife team that includes a winemaker working at Tour Sainte Christophe. 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc from the right bank.

Medium ruby color. Plum, blackberry, violet, smoke, tobacco and licorice. Medium-bodied, with lush tart blackberry and an intense earthiness (like a solid mouthful of dirt) on the palate, and a hint of licorice in the finish. Firm and chewy, showing its youth, a lot of this wine is hidden from view right now, but it has potential.
Red
2013 Elyse Petite Sirah York Creek Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
87 points
Inky purple color. Blackberry, cedar, hay, toast, clove and dill. Medium body, with a firm skeleton of chalky tannins around dark berry and green flavors.
Red
2017 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvée USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
88 points
Paso Robles GSM blend (70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre).

Light ruby color. Strawberry, blackberry, sandalwood, leather, vanilla and black tea. Satin texture, medium-full body, fine-grained tannins, with red and black berries on the palate and black tea in the mid palate and finish. Graceful and balanced. Still has room to evolve.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2018 Te Mata Estate Sauvignon Blanc Cape Crest New Zealand, North Island, Hawke's Bay
91 points
Very pale gold color. Peach, lychee, flint, black currant leaf, orange blossom and hints of almond. Oily texture, crisp, intense flavors of peach, lychee and flint. Going to be a great wine for the upcoming summer months.
Red
2016 Château La Tour de Mons France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
89 points
Medium ruby color. Aromas of cherry, blackcurrant, oak, coffee, bay leaf and hints of bacon or cured meat. Creamy texture, medium-full body, with red fruit and Margaux earthiness on the palate. Assertively grippy tannins need time to resolve, but this robust, dense wine has enough depth to evolve interestingly during the wait.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2016 Château La Patache France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
87 points
Medium-dark ruby color. Aromas of plum, blackberry, black tea, fern and hints of toast. Silky texture and tannins, medium body, with plum, earth and minerals on the palate and licorice in the finish.
Red
2016 Xavier Vignon Cuvée SM France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
87 points
Wine is named for the unique blend of North and South Rhône wine that makes it up.
* S - Septentrional : 50% Old vines of Syrah (60 years) from Northern Rhône Valley - 2015 vintage.
* M - Méridional : 50% of Grenache (more than 80 years) from Southern Rhône Valley - 2016 vintage.

Medium Ruby color. Raspberry, plum, coffee, mushroom, anise. Medium-full bodied, Meaty raspberry and plum on the palate, hints of anise, surrounded by a grippy tannic skeleton.
Red
2016 El Enemigo Cabernet Franc Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco
90 points
High altitude Cab Franc from Argentina, with 8% Malbec, aged 16 months in French Oak, 20% New. Medium purple color. Strawberry, plum, toast, game, licorice and cut grass. Medium bodied, creamy texture, grippy. Red and black fruit, with hints of coffee and licorice.
Red
2015 Greenhough Pinot Noir Hope Vineyard New Zealand, South Island, Nelson
89 points
Light ruby color. Strawberry, cranberry, mushroom, leather, forest floor. Medium-light bodied, with tart cranberry and strawberry and a streak of spice running through the finish.
Red
2016 Agostino Pavia & Figli Barbera d'Asti Bricco Blina Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d'Asti
88 points
Medium Ruby color. Cherry, blackberry, mushroom, anise, oak, and a hint of soy sauce. Silky texture, medium-bodied. Juicy bright red fruit on entry with hints of earth and anise throughout. Very approachable, enjoyable, and a QPR winner.
Red
2017 Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d'Asti
87 points
Vibrant ruby color. Aromas of cherry, blackberry, black pepper, toast and leather. Silky texture, Medium body, tart cherry and cranberry on the palate with dusty tannins.
Red
2017 Pio Cesare Barbera d'Alba Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
88 points
Dark ruby color. Very shy, somewhat closed on the nose: Blackberry, pepper, leather, a wisp of black tea. Creamy texture, medium/medium-full body, with juicy and slightly tart plum and blackberry on entry, a bit of earth in the mid-palate and spicy finish.

Flight 9 - Week 6 (May 11 - May 17) (7 notes)

Red
2015 Fattoria Poggerino Chianti Classico Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
88 points
2h air. Medium garnet color. Aromas of cherry, plum, mushroom, leather and tobacco. Silky texture, medium-full-bodied. Tart red fruit and earthy on the palate. Tannins are unresolved, grippy and overwhelming especially in the finish. Robust wine with potential, needs some time.
White
2019 Matahiwi Estate Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa
88 points
Very Pale Gold color. Redolent of gooseberry, pear, pineapple, orange blossom and black currant leaf. Satin texture, light body, crisp flavors of pear and gooseberry.
Red
2017 Fratelli Barale Barbera d'Alba Castle Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
90 points
Barbera d'Alba from a producer in Barolo. 2h air.

Vibrant medium ruby color. Intense aromas of cherry, cassis, pepper, rose, black tea, with hints of hazelnut and pepper. Silky texture, medium bodied, backbone of sinewy tannins. Bright juicy red fruit flavors, very earthy with lovely hints of hazelnut. Great QPR.
Red
2016 Westwood Pinot Noir Estate Grown Annadel Gap Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County
88 points
Medium ruby/purple color. Aromas of strawberry, cranberry and raspberry, forest floor, cedar and black tea. Zesty red fruit on the palate, soft texture, medium-light bodied.
White
2018 Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
90 points
Medium to Medium-Light gold color. Aromas of passion fruit, lime, hints of pineapple, flint and cut grass. Medium-light bodied, with zesty lime flavors on the palate and a lovely salinity to the finish.
White
2019 Nautilus Estate Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
86 points
Pale gold color. Aromas of pear, grapefruit, orange blossom and flint. Satin texture, light body, with searing grapefruit flavors. Acid is a little out of balance and there's some vegetal notes in the finish.
1 person found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
2017 Clos de Luz Syrah Azuda Chile, Rapel Valley, Cachapoal Valley
90 points
Always a fan of cold-climate Syrah, decided to take a flyer on this high-altitude Chilean Syrah. Gave it 3h of air. Medium-dark violet color. Aromas of plum, cherry, coffee, smoke and pepper. Medium-full bodied, backbone of sinewy tannins, fresh red and black fruit, with highlights of pepper and licorice. Simple and attractive.

Closing

Despite the fact that the shelter-in-place continues, I am ceasing this tasting story as I never imagined it would go on this long and, without in any way casting doubt on the plan for dealing with the pandemic, maintaining it has become a depressing reminder of how long this is going on which I don't need at this point.

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