See CellarTracker's 2021 Year in Review

Comments on my notes

(39 comments on 36 notes)

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Red
2018 Substance Cabernet Sauvignon Washington
7/6/2020 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
88 points
Deep ruby.

Nose: Cassis, black cherry, vanilla, cedar chest.

Mouth: Blended black cherry, cassis, and tart cherry sauce fan out on the palate as soon as they hit, just before a hefty dollop of mocha creme rolls through. An edge of dried cedar chimes in toward the end of the midpalate, mingling with a tinge of powdered granite that takes over into the finish.

Overall: The grocery store golden child, this is interestingly now leaning more into baby Napa territory: going more the round, smooth, candied route than I remember from years past. For $14 this it's a fine effort, with solid range to the macerated cherry flavors as they spread out on the palate. A bit flattering in style, (and completely focused on frontloaded fruit), but at the price there's really nothing to complain about here. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now - 2022.

88.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    12/2/21, 6:04 AM - Thanks SRH. I think it may not be a case of overt manipulation of the wine so much as simple vintage variation in Washington that's created the stylistic difference. At this price point also, it's hard to imagine that they can treat it with but so much care stylistically anyway.

Red
2016 Château Langoa Barton St. Julien Red Bordeaux Blend
11/18/2021 - Gooddummy Likes this wine:
94 points
I bought this on a whim. I don’t like it, I love it for an everyday anytime wine. What it lacks in complexity it makes up in smoothness and light tannins. At 13% alcohol you can enjoy the grapes and not have to suffer the taste of alcohol. I will be going back to the store and hope I can get more at $59 or less. It’s coupon week.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    11/19/21, 6:01 PM - At $59 its a no brainer. It really really needs more time I think though.

    Of all the 2016s I tried up front, this was the one that I said to myself that I can't imagine touching until 2028.

Red
2018 Penfolds Shiraz Bin 28 Kalimna South Australia
5/4/2021 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
93 points
Deep purple

Nose: Tomato leaf, oolong tea, black pepper.

Mouth: Rich, packed in flavors of dried blueberry and black cherry, glide through on a lightly zesty edge, studded with various mixed/candied dried fruits that introduce themselves in the midpalate. Everything comes on a bed of fine grained tannins that give tug and drive from the edges of the palate.

Overall: Richer in feel, while keeping light on its feet, this shows playful accent flavors that intermingle nicely with the dense fruit. Flavors are stacked, but it never becomes overbearing, and good drive keeps everything moving along. Drink now - 2028.

93.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    5/22/21, 4:27 PM - Thanks as ever for your thoughts my friend! Will take a look at yours as well.

Red
2018 Penley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Tolmer Limited Release Coonawarra
5/14/2021 - Benj wrote:
90 points
This is one of the best value Cabernets I’ve had lately. Superb varietal character; I should note that there are definitely plenty of pyrazines in here - this isn’t one for fans of plush ripe Cabernet. Gorgeous sweet dark fruit plays well with the green character, which presents as fresh and lively rather than unripe. Buuuuut if you don’t like green bell pepper you may be disappointed. Tannins are quite firm and the aromatics are muted at first - this needs some serious time or air to show its colors. 90 minutes of decanting later this is throwing its perfume everywhere. Well structured, well made, serious wine, and yet another piece of evidence that Coonawarra is the best value play in Cabernet. After all that praise, why only 90 points? Well, there’s a little unevenness to the palate, and as much as I like my veggies, this is a touch greener than I’d ideally like. But also it’s just too young to really know. Worth waiting another 5 years before opening any more. 14%, $18. 90+
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    5/19/21, 5:02 AM - A nice review,and agreed across the board. Thanks for your thoughts.

Red
2018 Château Léoville Poyferré St. Julien Red Bordeaux Blend
4/17/2021 - Pianojim wrote:
99 points
Leoville Poyferre 2018, April 16 and 17, 2021

Leoville Poyferre 2018, like many of the great 2018’s, is mind blowingly good. What makes this vintage so mind blowing? The 2018’s are rich, smoky and voluptuous, with maximum enjoyment, while at the same time very fresh and exciting to drink. Smooth and buttery tannins, sometimes cashmere like. Upon reflection, these wines display multi-dimensional and at times kaleidoscopic delineations of beautiful flavors that are pure pleasure.

That is the Leoville Poyferre 2018. It has the distinctive character of Leoville Poyferre amplified to hedonistic levels. And with age I imagine the finely delineated flavor dimensions we can discern when it’s young will meld into a truly gorgeous harmony.

I am a big fan of Leoville Poyferre, and some of the years that stand out to me are 2000 (classic), 2003 (hedonistic), 2009 (a jewel), 2016 (fresh and beautiful). The 2018 may be the best one so far. And the price is quite reasonable for the quality.

For 2018, in addition to Leoville Poyferre, the other knockout 2018s I have tried include Pontet Canet, Smith Haute Lafitte, Cos D’Estournel and Canon. All mind blowingly good in their own ways but Leoville Poyferre is the most voluptuous, lip-smacking delicious wine of that esteemed group.

2018’s are drinking great right now, no need to wait but I would love to be able to taste them 20 years from now. That’s what I think it will take for these to hit another level.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    4/17/21, 6:09 PM - Good review, thanks for your thoughts here.

Red
2015 Fattoria Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva Chianti Classico DOCG Sangiovese Blend, Sangiovese
3/13/2021 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
93 points
Medium garnet, brick edges.

Nose: Dried cherry, brick dust, slate.

Mouth: Lithe, effusive notes of pure blackberry, dried black cherry, a beautiful midpalate of red florals, thyme, and leather come through in unison, driving through with electric energy ahead of a long finish of iron and fruit.

Overall: A little hify, with huge energy but the richness of the vintage provides good balance via the round, upfront black fruit. Doesn't show huge aged characteristics at this time, but the overall meld is good. Also worth noting that the black fruit really is coming from additions of merlot and syrah, which almost make this a baby super tuscan more than a Chianti proper. Drink now - 2033

93.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    3/14/21, 10:44 AM - Thanks SRH, for your kind note as always and I appreciate the additional color found in your note on this as well.

    This definitely did need a decant: the good energy I mentioned was really pronounced at first pop, and it was clear it needed to calm down in order to get the best look at it. In all, I gave it about 60-80 minutes of air upfront.

    I didn't pair it with anything, which as I mentioned was maybe prudent - this is a pretty deep Chianti version, and almost a baby supertuscan. This is more a drinking wine than a food wine IMO. Still lovely though, and the ripe vintage really shines here more than most '15s.

Red
2016 Maison Albert Bichot Santenay 1er Cru Clos Rousseau Pinot Noir
3/9/2021 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
93 points
Pale ruby

Nose: Cherry sauce, cut roses, light reduction on pop (rubber balloon)

Mouth: A deep well of exceedingly pure cherry coulis and crushed currant glides silken across the palate, framed by rose stem notes and manicured tannins. The fruit leads elegant tinges of white spice, loam, and crushed rock that support the long, fine grained finish.

Overall: While the flavors are not hugely complex or various, the depth and purity of the fruit at this level is pretty remarkable. Drinkable now but additional development would be nice to see, especially as some of the garden notes continue to jut out and the tannins could continue to retreat slightly. Drink now - 2030.

93.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    3/10/21, 10:17 AM - Thanks for the kind words!

Red
2018 Penley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Tolmer Limited Release Coonawarra
1/6/2021 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
92 points
Pale ruby.

Nose: Cherry candy, cut sage, tilled soil, berry skins.

Mouth: Juicy smashed raspberry and red currant notes show upfront with a forward thread of sage. A lightly saline midpalate of walnut and drying cedar announce the earthy, slowly fading finish as a light hit of baking chocolate checks in.

Overall: This interestingly comes through a little thin on first open, taking on more body and weight with time and air. Stays open knit throughout- and still shows good drive to the variety of flavor. Finish is sneakily long at this level too. Drink now - 2029.

92.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    1/14/21, 11:55 AM - Thanks SRH, this was helpful to see.

Red
2018 Realm Cellars The Bard Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
12/17/2020 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
96 points
Very deep ruby. Opaque.

Nose: Cassis, peppermint candy, lavender and violet, light thread of sassafras in the background.

Mouth: Beautifully rendered creme de cassis, kirsch, and macerated blackberry notes are undergirded by buried bolts of sassafras, roasted alder and white pepper. Fruit swells on a wave again into the midpalate ahead of the incredibly long finish, with the alderwood and charred earth simply refusing to quit for what feel like minutes as the fruit keeps driving on. Tannins are super polished, but show huge tug from the edges of the palate, clipping the fruit for now.

Overall: Shows good purity and beautiful palate action as the fruit comes in slow waves. I was told that this is the first vintage partially aged in concrete, if that's true it would explain the light elements of terroir that shine through in the herb and woods notes. I hope this is continued into the future, as it has more of a 'sense of place' than any other Bard thus far. Hands off for now, as this is pretty wound up, will be insane when the seams come away. Drink 2024 - 2037.

96.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    12/18/20, 7:02 AM - Thanks to you both for the kind words. Just hope this provides some context for anyone else thinking of approaching (or not, for now) the 2018s.

  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    12/18/20, 7:36 AM - One thing of note is that the acid here is more pronounced than any other Bard I can remember. This I think gives it really long legs in a way not shared by other vintages.

    I've never had the '13s, but based on the overall quality of that year, I think it's certainly fair to compare.

Red
2016 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Red Rhone Blend
9/23/2020 - adamanko wrote:
The acidity is the first thing I notice. This has a lot. Smooth in the mouth. A small bitterness. I don't know but I expected some funk but there is none. Some alcohole. I think this probably should get some more time. 90 for now.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    9/24/20, 5:14 PM - I love it when its smooth in the mouth

White
2019 Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
9/24/2020 - Huntemw Likes this wine:
91 points
Fresh, zesty, juicy, and full, this fruit-driven new world style wine will excite the senses without the racy overload. Tropical fruit with a fresh herbaceous character balanced with zesty passionfruit and a dry finish, this wine will take you straight back to the warmer summer days.

I would buy again
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    9/24/20, 5:08 PM - What is the racy overload

Red
2015 Château Léoville Barton St. Julien Red Bordeaux Blend
9/2/2020 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
96 points
Deep ruby, hint of garnet in the rim.

Nose: Dried fig, pen ink, fruitcake spice, smoldering charcoal. Elegantly perfumed.

Mouth: Dried fig flavors return, here with melted red currants, liquid violet, and light blackberry compote. A mid-palate spike of black tea, baking spices, and charred alderwood kicks in and throws the fruit into relief as it continues to pull everything along. A hint of tar announces the finish with a graphite tinge as the fruit keeps driving on.

Overall: This is serious stuff, leaning the lusher end of the spectrum, but with more than enough torque in the accents to keep it grounded. The mouth action is especially beautiful, as the fruit drips off the edges of the palate, lingering endlessly as everything fades. Tannins are fairly friendly right now, but this is only just beginning to show its stripes. Another 3-5 years is recommended minimum. Drink 2024 - 2039.

96.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    9/20/20, 9:28 AM - Thanks SRH, appreciate the kind words!

White
2016 Ramey Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard Carneros
8/13/2020 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
96 points
Pale gold.

Nose: Brown butter, delicate white flower, crushed chalk.

Mouth: A melange of asian pear, starfruit, and candied meyer lemon leads just ahead of a high-toned midpalate of lees spice that scales in richness before rolling over into multiple waves of butter, toast, lemon acid, white flower, and chalk. The extended finish ripples back on itself, echoing at least two or three times over before finally fading.

Overall: Agile out of the gate and sneakily long in the end, this has huge energy buried within it at the moment. Builds over time as flavors stack and compound on each other, but crucially nothing ever goes away: if a flavor is introduced, it's carried through all the way to the end of the finish. The midpalate spice remains a bit rambunctious, but should calm over time. This might have a smaller drinking window, but when it settles it will be excellent. Drink 2022-2026.

96.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    8/13/20, 6:05 PM - It's funny you say that: I was just finishing the bottle I had and wondered if I wouldn't be able to push the others I have to the 10 year mark. You must have read my mind lol

    What I'll say is that it should retain the vibrancy/acidity that's activating everything as it drives through. If you're not getting that anymore, it's not worth it and it's overaged. I'd think you could probably push it to 2028 or so if you like them on the outer edge though.

White
2019 Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc California
8/8/2020 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
91 points
Platinum in the glass.

Nose: Grapefruit zest, lemon/lime, bit of lemongrass.

Mouth: Pure grapefruit peel, white pear, and juiced orange lead a light midpalate of honeysuckle flower and light lemongrass. Finish introduces new notes of wet slate and a bit of grated ginger, adding good length and lip-smacking character to the ending.

Overall: Delicate in profile, but silken, and still with good crispness throughout. Surprisingly persistent. The little flourishes on the finish are a nice surprise from what was expected. A pretty insane value at $9. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Drink now - 2021.

91.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    8/12/20, 5:53 PM - Thanks srh, I appreciate the kind words and will certainly check out yours as well!

Red
2016 Château de Vaudieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape Red Rhone Blend
9/25/2019 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
94 points
Deep ruby.

Nose: Singed shiso leaf, some incense, mulled raspberry, sugar plum, spice chest and garrigue. Billowing, layered projection. Lot of oak out front showing itself that hasn't yet integrated.

Mouth: Tart dried raspberry, grilled blueberry and darjeeling tea come through on a carpet of shiso leaf and singed tobacco that gain steam into the midpalate. A lift of acidity carries this, allowing everything to bloom by the time the extended finish comes around, echoing through a chalky garrique finish.

Overall: This is already beautifully put together, with strong notes telling a story as they scale up on the midpalate. Showy and a bit lush, but with so many of those tertiary notes lying in wait. Letting this have a few years is a good idea. It has all the parts of something fabulous once everything melds.

94.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    6/15/20, 6:44 AM - Thanks for the kind note, I appreciate your take on this cuvee as well and look forward to opening another of these some years down the road!

Red
2015 Spring Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District
3/8/2020 - RoyaltyCoins Likes this wine:
94 points
Deep ruby, with purple accents, neon rim.

Nose: Raspberry, cassis, red plum, smoldering incense, sagebrush, light soy sauce, oak paneling.

Mouth: Pure, savory raspberry, cassis, and blueberry skin show for just a moment upfront before immediately yielding to a forward facing spine of acid, which picks up everything, allowing the entire package to surf along on top, picking up notes of sage, anise, potpourri, and cocoa nib on the way. From this, everything sails along endlessly as fine grained tannins check in as the finish recedes at a glacial pace.

Overall: Well defined Napa mountain fruit and stellar palate action make this a winner already, especially with about 2+ hours of air. Drinkable now, but additional meld would be really nice to see on this. The acid could calm down just a but more, and the tannins could melt further into the fruit. If you can wait, start looking at this come 2023 or so. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

94.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    4/28/20, 2:44 PM - Thanks for the kind note, I think it's a winner (and moreover can't believe it's sold at Costco!)

    It's a beautiful mountain wine with so much energy and drive. I find myself craving it sometimes.. but am really confident that it will show REALLY well over the coming years and want to have enough to watch it evolve.

    Let me know what you think! I would love to know how it shows for you.

Red
2016 Realm Cellars The Bard Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
4/16/2020 - Mark1npt Likes this wine:
94 points
Wow, a change from the last bottle, 93-94, no longer a 96!.....more dense, more iron, more black, more thick structure. This is a very well made wine. Decent nose but the fruit has backed up considerably from previous bottles. Quality wine but the best of the sweet fruit is gone. Will it be back in a year? I hope so.......
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    4/17/20, 9:56 AM - Thanks for this - I thought about doing a Coravin on another bottle to see where it's at, but will certainly give it another 12-18 months before doing so based on the above.

    Regarding the sweetness, this sounds like its just finding its center. I wouldn't worry too much - it's valley floor fruit after all :)

Red
2017 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape Red Rhone Blend
4/17/2020 - Motz wrote:
94 points
Among the most feminine (drop-dead sexy) vintages of this label that I have tasted. It features an intense but unique 'sweetness' of fruit, the typical description of which is 'richness', but also weightless and seamless. Also noteworthy, the wine features strikingly powdery tannin, loess or silt-like. Though with medium plus acid, by 2030 or so, I think the wine's lightness could fade rather quickly. It is beautiful now, and I do not see it improving significantly.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    4/17/20, 9:48 AM - Thanks for the good thoughts on this.

    Just a note to offer: the weightless quality of the fruit sounds to be quintessential Clos des Papes and shouldn't necessarily be discounted for its lightness. I just recently opened the 2008 CdPapes (which was truly not an amazing year overall) and it had aged beautifully with another 8-10 years possible without fading.

    If you have any extra of the 2017, hold on to them to see what might be possible, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much they offer come 2032-2035+.

Red
2016 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Knights Valley
4/15/2020 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
90 points
Deep ruby.

Nose: Macerated blueberry, blackberry pie, violet flower, powdered tobacco.

Mouth: Blackberry cordial and blueberry coulis flavors glide through on a medium frame ahead of a midpalate of grainy cocoa powder, singed black tobacco and light tar on the finish. Light echo of violet flower shines through within the tar notes at the end.

Overall: Black fruit flavors are well developed, and this stays fun, but very fruit focused however, with a surprising lack of structure and back end complexity for this cuvée, this producer, and this vintage. Simply not a lot provided to extend the palate here, with the upfront fruit just gliding off a cliff without anything else coming in. Drink now- 2027.

90.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    4/15/20, 8:06 AM - A 96 here is insane though - there's no way this merits being in one of the top 4% of Napa wines in 2016 (I'm bundling Knights Valley with Napa especially given an MSRP of $70). and IMO this is a classic case of score inflation by Suckling.

    Again, the black fruit is certainly of quality: delightful, developed and unified and there's a fair bit of polish here, but I expected more out of the actual palate action from a Beringer reserve. I think a lot of this hinges on how much you prize the 'small berry black fruit on the front end' profile as the yardstick for quality. This is probably a case of 'eye of the beholder' based on what matters to you palate-wise.

    For me personally, I can get soft, fruit forward Cali cab (that falls off in the midpalate) from a lot of places. From a record vintage for the region this one just doesn't hit the mark for me in terms of performance at the $70 price point.

  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    4/15/20, 9:25 AM - I typically try to ignore pricing as much as possible in tasting, and in this case paid only $31, so I hope my note didn't come across as being price biased at all. The $70 MSRP reinforced for me what the producer thought it was in terms of calibre, and maybe that was wrong of me.

    In evaluating, I look at complexity, structure, palate length, ageability, as being the achievement benchmarks I'm looking for. Extraction and fruit development are fundamental and would come before any of the above, but I guess I take it as expected that any top-tier Napa wine would have that well developed fruit profile already. That's why I sold this one a little short I think.

    All in all, I'll concede that this has a lighter hand to it, and I too would like to revisit this in a year. Delicacy is something to be prized as well, and this may have that in the end. I'll do another round of notes sometime and edit the original TN where necessary.

    Thanks for walking through this one with me!

White
2018 A to Z Wineworks Chardonnay Oregon
4/13/2020 - denisontb Likes this wine:
90 points
This is delicious ! ROYALTYCOINS March 27 review described it perfectly. Buy lots more !
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    4/14/20, 12:08 PM - Thank you! Will take your advice and pick up a few more to have on hand!

Red
2010 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Selección Especial Tempranillo Blend, Tempranillo
3/18/2020 - RoyaltyCoins Likes this wine:
95 points
Medium-pale garnet.

Nose: Dried bing cherry, candied strawberry, potpourii, oak paneling, dried tobacco notes.

Mouth: A smooth pool of dried black cherry and raspberry pates des fruit segues into a cedar/sandalwood midpalate before becoming a long finish of sweet pipe tobacco, sous bois, and light blood notes. A buried energy ripples through, keeping this graceful as a light fine grained mineral tinge takes the very end.

Overall: Gorgeous dried woods kept in balance by polished, lightly candied fruits, very polished. Showing beautifully now with 10 years of estate age for free, the price on this is unreal. 80% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache. Drink now - 2026

95.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    4/7/20, 8:01 PM - Thanks for the kind words, and forgive the delay in reply. It’s a home run for sure.

Red
2016 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Red Rhone Blend
Consistently shut down hard across several bottles at a group dinner unfortunately. Deep, concentrated, and structured with lots of potential. I can see why this received so much hype early on. Will wait another five years before opening one again.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    2/9/20, 2:21 PM - Multiple bottles of the same vintage were all shut down?

    Just wanted to confirm, I wanted to sample one of these to see where it was, but if I understand you correctly, I'll wait it out for a bit.

    Thanks in advance!

    M

Red
2016 Château Larcis Ducasse St. Émilion Grand Cru Red Bordeaux Blend
1/16/2020 - csimm1161 wrote:
95 points
Dark plum, black and dark red berry, black spices (clove, anise), bitter chocolate, black soil, and cedary earth. A gorgeous mid-palate and unctuous, concentrated mouthfeel, all the while maintaining judicious speed and cadence. Finishes chewy and brooding, with subtle red plum and tasty spice notes streaking through the dark core and adding interest on the back end.

Clearly young and working on some of the seamlessness and integration of its flavors, but this was a high performer given its early stages of development. Flavor expansion will be fun to follow here, as the stuffing is very compelling. Has both earthy and sexy sides to it that offer a dueling allure. Ideally hold for a few more years (though drinking young isn’t a total sin). 94-95+ points.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    1/17/20, 8:12 AM - This is really helpful, thank you.

Red
2018 Cordero di Montezemolo Barbera d'Alba
11/21/2019 - Been There wrote:
91 points
Deep garnet with a hint of color in the copious legs. Weighs in at 14.5% ABV. Youthful purple rim; it was harvested last year! Nose of lifted sappy ripe dark plum with strawberry. Smells youthful, briefly flashed back to a bruiser Beaujolais in the nose, too.

Same sappy fruit on the palate along with tart black cherry juice, and high acidity, which is pleasant and not “need food to make this work” Italian acidity. There is fruit here, and enough depth to keep it from thinness. But it isn’t complex and layered, and isn’t meant to be. Caveat emptor, it is still a longstanding Italian wine (and not a Bordeaux blend like Bolgheri) so it is not “smooth.” Rather, it’s between a very good bistro wine and a fine wine.

Surprisingly long finish of sappy berry fruit, but not an intellectual, reverential finish. This is a “drink me“ wine to quote Catherine, one of my favorite tasters.

This is what it was intended to be. It reflects the grape and the terroir. If your expectations are in line with the wine archetype, I’d give it a 91 and put a couple within reach of the kitchen for informal dinners.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    1/12/20, 11:22 AM - This is a well written take and is super helpful, thank you.

Red
2016 Bodegas y Viñedos Valderiz Ribera del Duero Tempranillo
12/11/2019 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
94 points
Deep ruby

Nose: Black cherry, Baking chocolate, olive tapenade, paprika, powdered oak. Reserved projection.

Mouth: Smooth flavors of black currant and black cherry glide across the palate, seamlessly segueing into a midpalate of melted licorice, slate, bakers chocolate and dusty earth. Each of the flavors build over time into an endless finish amidst fine grained tannins. This is all about finesse and it exhibits that in spades.

Overall: Smooth, developed fruit flavors come through with a vibrant, etched-in midpalate, and a finish that retains everything that came before it before refusing to quit.. all in a wine that costs $30 and is drinkable now. This is beautifully put together, with unified, deep, easy flavors. 100% Tempranillo.

94.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    12/21/19, 3:05 PM - Thanks for the kind words.If I had to choose a select few from the past year it would be,(in no order):

    2016 Château Léoville Barton

    2016 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva

    2015 Bibbiano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Montornello

    2016 Realm Cellars The Bard

    2015 Nervi Gattinara

    2016 Les Cailloux (Brunel) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc

    2015 Clos des Papes

    2017 Tensley Colson Canyon

    A lot of these are still available on the shelves, if you get into them, would love to know your thoughts!

Red
2016 Kata Ghost Dog Beckstoffer Bourn Vineyard St. Helena Red Bordeaux Blend
12/20/2019 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
95 points
Deep ruby, neon magenta rim. Opaque, cloudy.

Nose: Blackberry preserves, macerated black plum, cinnamon sugar, allspice, light campfire smoke.

Mouth: Dense, rich blackberry compote, plum, and black currant kick things off, unfolding in layers and ushering in bold baking chocolate and black licorice notes. Finish brings in flavors black tea, along with a bit of powdered baking spice and a solid tug of loam that continue to fire amidst round, polished tannins. Flavors are really generous and mesh beautifully together.

Overall: If this is 50/50 Cabernet/Petite Syrah, you wouldnt necessarily know it blind: this leans much more into the Petite Syrah realm. Upfront this seems like it would be exceedingly candied, the reality is more balanced than that. The black earth/loam notes and the tea flavors on the finish really keep this honest and give it extra length in the mouth and probably in the cellar. This has a long runway ahead of it and even opened up greatly from an extended decant (3-4 hours if you can stand to look at it that long..) A beautiful effort. Drink 2023-2038. 50% Petite Syrah, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon

95.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    12/21/19, 12:22 PM - I think it will be singing after about 3.5 hours of air. It was a night and day difference from first pop to the end of the bottle.

Red
2016 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
12/19/2019 - WineDr. Does not like this wine:
85 points
I saw the laudatory reviews and had high expectations.

The bottle of wine showed no obvious flaws. It was decanted, aerated for an hour, and drunk over the next 2 hours. There was a nice bouquet on the nose, but the wine had very astringent tannins on the palate, a lack of complexity, subdued flavors, and a very short finish. In contrast to others’ reviews, it was quite disappointing IMHO, and I doubt it would improve much with additional bottle aging. For about the same price, I think the 2016 Hall cabernet sauvignon is much better and more promising for the future.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    12/20/19, 6:57 PM - This sounds like you found it sleeping or closed down..

    If you have any remaining bottles, give them a try in about 2+ years or so.

Red
2016 Kata Ghost Dog Beckstoffer Bourn Vineyard St. Helena Red Bordeaux Blend
12/6/2019 - msuwine wrote:
94 points
This lush and integrated blend of equal parts Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon is not just a tasty wine; it's a decent value at around $75. Dark purple, almost black in color; full in body; nose of blueberry pie, dark chocolate, cocoa beans, and black licorice. Luscious tastes of plum, boysenberry, milk chocolate, and peppercorn, with a creamy and lingering finish. Even better on second day, with a little more chocolate goodness. 14.2% alcohol.

I haven't been a huge fan of many of Benoit's sub-$100 efforts (aside, of course, from the Hartwell and Bard wines from back in the day, circa 2012-2014). This wine, though, has all of his trademark polish, with less of the gaminess that came through in the Ghost Dogs from a few years ago. This is a real pleasure - and a decent value. Drink in the next 3-4 years.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    12/7/19, 1:40 PM - This is super helpful, thank you for the notes.

Red
2015 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva Chianti Classico DOCG Sangiovese Blend, Sangiovese
11/15/2019 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
95 points
Medium Ruby, tawny accent/rim

Nose: Tobacco, leather, dusty barnyard earth, dried cherry. Faint hint of brett. Dark, perfumed projection.

Mouth: Dense, deep black cherry and black currant come through weighty on the palate, with accents of tobacco, sage, leather saddle, and iron each streaming around the core of dark fruit and presenting themselves center stage before introducing a finish of bitter black earth and drying tannins. Final finish provides a tug to the still firing fruit as it leads a finish that simply won't quit.

Overall: As a complete picture, this is utterly delicious and worthy of the accolades. Dense, complex, beautifully fruited, with its original power just now beginning to evolve into elegance. This is a stunner at $40. Drinkable now, better in 2-3 years minimum with continued integration.

95.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    11/16/19, 10:21 AM - Thanks for the kind words, it’s a beautiful wine! This is simply trying to do it justice.. :)

Red
2016 Château Léoville Poyferré St. Julien Red Bordeaux Blend
11/6/2019 - Keith Levenberg Likes this wine:
94 points
Nothing subtle about this one. Bordeaux in boldface. Opens with a big blast of cedary aromatics that at first seems to lend it sort of a Pauillac-like personality, but at this level of intensity obviously the barrels are doing a lot of the heavy lifting. While the tannin keeps the wine taut and muscular for the first couple of sips, it doesn't take long before something snaps and it becomes characterized instead by extreme generosity. It's weighty and expansive and a big mouthful of stuff on the palate with the cedar, gravel, and metallic ore swirling around and all cranked up to 11. The focus is on these secondary elements rather than the fruit, or at least they seem to be infusing the fruit rather than being layered on top of it as it all still has a crimson, dried-cherry cast. Despite all this it's not seared with toast to the point of turning into bitter coffee grounds like some of the more extreme Rollandized vintages from 10 or 15 years ago, but it's definitely on the slutty side and with some more time even those initially muscular tannins manage to turn fluffy and plush.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    11/6/19, 12:54 PM - This is great, thank you

Red
2016 Realm Cellars The Bard Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
10/18/2019 - RoyaltyCoins wrote:
96 points
Deep ruby, completely opaque, neon ruby rim.

Nose: Cassis and blackberry jam at first pop, as it drinks up the air it takes on a richly spiced ganache character, wafting up through notes of singed cedar, wet earth, and powdered graphite.

Mouth: Deep, full blackberry and cassis seamlessly morph into a smooth dark chocolate and black mole. Finish is an extended mix of cedar notes, along with spice and graphite firing amidst fine grained tannins. The black fruit achieves a perfect synergy with the chocolate notes.

Overall: Standout here is two things, namely the balance first which is beautifully done: The fruit is vividly rendered and well blended with itself, a melange of forest berries that with the help of well buried acidity and fine-grained tannins sing together.

Beyond that, where this stakes a claim is in the chocolate/mole notes that are unlike any I've seen. These accent the larger picture gracefully and make it a complete package along that dark/chocolate/earth/spice axis. The fruit sets the stage, but the additional notes here make the show. 85% Cabernet, 10% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot.

96.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    10/18/19, 8:05 AM - Yep, I did a decant for at least an hour before touching it.

    After about 90-120 minutes decanted, it knits together and then continues to evolve over the course of a night. Finished the bottle after about 4 hours. Really a living thing that evolves over time.

    I got these direct from the producer after doing a tasting with them in the Summer. That may be the only way to still get the 2016s, unless you find one on the secondary market.

Red
2015 Drouhin Oregon Roserock Pinot Noir Zéphirine Eola - Amity Hills
9/15/2019 - jmcafee wrote:
I'm disappointed after having much higher expectations following tasting at the time of release. Although there is now very bright acidity that is almost overwhelming, with smooth but limited tannins, what happened to the fruit? Very thin on the mid palate. Maybe more will develop with time in the bottle, but with so little fruit I don't see how. Not a bad wine, but what is left? I will try it again in 2021; there is nothing to lose.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    9/15/19, 12:08 PM - This sounds like you caught it in a sleeping phase. Oregon pinot typically is never a fruit bomb, but it shouldn't be completely absent. If you have any other bottles left, come back to them 2022-23 or so.

  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    9/15/19, 7:32 PM - Hell ya brother!!! Keep on tasting all those pinots and keep on knowing what to expect from producers. You’re amazing!

Red
2015 Fontodi Chianti Classico Chianti Classico DOCG Sangiovese
8/9/2019 - TannicBeast Likes this wine:
91 points
Beautiful Chianti Classico from the Panzano area. Tried it after several hours in the glass. The nose is clean, medium (+) in intensity and quite expressive, with aromas of ripe red cherry, black plums, dried herbs and a pleasant but subtle oak spice note from 18 months in French oak barrels. The palate is dry, consistent with the nose, with medium (+) acidity, tannins and alcohol. This is a medium (+) to full-bodied wine with great balance and finesse, medium (+) flavor intensity and length. It is entering its optimal drinking window and is likely to continue to show well for several more years. It is not a particularly good value at $47, the retail price I was quoted in Houston. But I would be very happy if i bought it at $30 or lower, or even in the mid $30s.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    8/14/19, 12:28 PM - Thanks for a good review, this is helpful.

    Regarding the cost, you're also paying for a premier label (of Flaccianello fame) within the region. Average US retail is $40 before tax, so $47 isn't a great price, but you're not getting fleeced either..

White
2016 Lingua Franca Chardonnay Bunker Hill Eola - Amity Hills
5/4/2019 - jgreco Likes this wine:
92 points
36th Birthday (Noreetuh): Wine #2. This is my second time trying the 2016 Lingua Franca Bunker Hill and it has changed a lot over the past six months. The apple, lemon and sea salt are still there, but gone are the crushed wet rocks and flint. The precise flavors and intense minerality have been replaced by smoother transitions and rounder textures. It is still enjoyable, but far less unique. I do not think this will benefit from aging and I would drink these up over the next couple years.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    7/12/19, 5:27 PM - But.. the smoother transitions COME from the aging, no? It naturally becomes more seamless with time?

White
2016 Grosjean Petite Arvine Valle d'Aosta Vigne Rovettaz
9/29/2018 - forceberry wrote:
90 points
13,5% alcohol.

Youthful, pale lime green color. Youthful nose with sappy fruit aromas of apple peel, some fresh white fruits, a little bit of herbal spice and hay, a hint of smoke and a nuanced touch of salty liquorice. The wine is medium-bodied, quite ripe and pretty bright, coming across quite Alpine in its (positive) neutrality. There are flavors of tart green apples, stony minerality, some sweeter golden apple tones, a little bit of white peach and an understated hint of honey. Overall the wine feels something not unlike a rather ripe Muscadet. The high acidity lends good freshness and sense of focus to the wine. The finish is ripe, lively and nicely acid-driven with bright, long and mouth-cleansing flavors of honey, some sweet red apples, a little bit of stony minerality, a hint of steely character and a touch of apple peel bitterness.

A very stylish, ripe and harmonious Petite Arvine that feels paradoxically somewhat concentrated yet rather neutral and mineral at the same time. On a superficial glance this is a Muscadet-like, neutral and simple white, but there is so much more underneath the surface. The wine is drinking beautifully right now, but I can see it developing into something even better for many more years. Not cheap at 18€, but delivers for the price. Consistently one of the best Petite Arvines out there.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    4/21/19, 4:19 PM - Super helpful, thank you.

White
2017 Early Mountain Vineyards Petit Manseng Madison County
4/19/2019 - Omar Khayyam wrote:
92 points
Early Mountain Winery (at the winery with Ben Jordan): Petit Manseng, who'd guessed this was the grape for Virginia? While maybe not so surprising that all the vintners seemed to be doing the same Bordeaux varietals, as well as chardonnay, but the fact that so many were also using this semi-obscure Jurancon white varietal was intriguing.

And in a little sample from yet unbottled wine at Early Mountain, I finally understood why. This was by far the best petit manseng I tried in Virginia, and a real showstopper. On the nose there is resin, lemons, grilled lemons, grape fruit. Fleshed out body with a zesty grape fruit like tangy feel to it. great wine and the future of this winery if you ask me.
  • RoyaltyCoins commented:

    4/19/19, 8:47 PM - This is exciting to read. The region remains of keen interest to me and I'm watching closely producers like this that can do something endemic with the area successfully. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    M

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