Tasting Notes for Mark Brandon

(500 notes on 406 wines)

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Red
8/24/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
97 points
Not gonna lie... brilliant after 90 min. decant. Layers, complexity, depth, black and blue fruit with coffee undertones. You wouldn't think something could be this big and elegant at the same time. A real privilege to share this with dear friends.
Red
1990 Château Bel-Air Lagrave Moulis en Médoc Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
9/14/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
92 points
This has come around. Perfect with a braised filet. A mid-week Margaux.
Red
7/10/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
92 points
Typical of vintage - same front end profile as 2007, but with a more mineral/slightly shorter finish. 2008 Napa has proven to be less "wow" but a superior food-pairing vintage as it was on this occasion. Enjoyed immensely with porcini rubbed fire-seared ribeye.
Red
7/5/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
94 points
Agree with other notes on this. Great vintage for Howell and I like this producers touch. Needed about 30 min. and then was singing and evolving for a couple hours. No rush, but if you prefer a bit more fruit, it is fantastic. It will continue to age for a good while, but not sure I want to wait (I usually prefer more age, but this is special now)
Red
7/4/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
92 points
For drinking a young relatively balanced fruit bomb... about as good as it gets. Reminded me of the 2015 Austin Hope cab that got 97 pts, but this was better with a touch more depth. Not my style (I like 10-20 years), but a terrific crowd pleaser in the Caymus category, but IMO a bit better. Wife loved it : ).
2 people found this helpful Comment
White
6/24/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
92 points
Really starting to bloom. Surprisingly lovely on all fronts. Rich, complex, but still with the Burgundian quality of weightless minerality. One of the better white burg QPRs I've had.
Red
6/10/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
93 points
Somewhere between typical and cult expression of Napa cab. Made something great out of a decent vintage. A real crowd pleaser if your crowd is upstart wine nerds : ). Blue and black fruit forward but starting pick up secondary characteristics for a more balanced form of mild hedonism.
Red
6/17/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
94 points
Had in a vertical with 1983. Contrast, but still personality themes. This was certainly fruit forward, but more relaxed and integrated compared to last bottle a couple of years ago. Beringer PV is so consistent (have had many different vintages) and always carries both depth and elegance. To me the 2007 is just now entering the early window with a one hour decant, but will go for many years and mature into something much more complex / secondary.
6 people found this helpful Comment
Red
6/17/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
93 points
Definitely mature, but still full of fruit. Equally balanced between mature fruit and secondary tobacco characteristics. Had in a vertical with 2007. Contrast, but still personality themes.
Red
4/25/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
94 points
Near perfect balance between fruit and secondary elements. Really opened after about 30 min. So good. I tend to be stingy with scores, but this stepped up. Black and blue fruit, balanced, with some unresolved tannins so this can keep going for a bit. However, I think it is about as close to prime now as it will get with a short decant.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
4/19/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
94 points
Well... clearly I had the first two bottles too early. Opened this last night with a rustic themed steak. Absolutely killer. Blue and black fruit, long finish, more than hint of anise, but super balanced. Oak is way in the background at this point, but the fruit is still in front. Sad to see the last bottle go.
Red
3/1/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
95 points
1 Hour Decant. ULTRA smooth and balanced, if a tiny bit reticent. I would wait another 2-4 years at least, but in a good place now if you can decant for a couple of hours and prefer an elegant version of fruit forward. Only getting better.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2005 Lost Highway Shiraz Marsanne Barossa Valley Shiraz Blend, Syrah (view label images)
1/6/2019 - Mark Brandon wrote:
94 points
Very well made. Balanced. Big but no rough edges at all. Layers of fruit, minerality, and secondary complexity. Popped this as the lost bottle with a couple of Italy and France snobs. They were very surprised at how much they liked it. Against some old world big hitters, was WOTD.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
12/30/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
94 points
Like an aged CDP on steroids. Raspberry sauce with olive undertones - complex but still yummy. Paired incredibly with mongolian beef.
Red
12/25/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
93 points
WOTN for some. A very good last stop of our exploration of California Cabernet. Was preceded by a delicious Sonoma cab. Paired with Gorgonzola Beef Tenderloin. Strangely, was the favorite only of the gentlemen at the table. While the ladies preferred the '09 Sonoma opened before. This might make sense as I would describe the profile of the Sonoma as feminine, while the '05 Napa presented as more earthy and masculine. great times all around : )
Red
2009 Benziger Family Winery Tribute Sonoma Mountain Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
12/25/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
93 points
WOTN for some. A very good 2nd stop of our exploration of California Cabernet. From here we went to Napa. Paired with Gorgonzola Beef Tenderloin. Strangely, was the favorite of the ladies at the table. While the gentlemen preferred the '05 Napa I opened next. This might make sense as I would describe the profile as feminine.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
12/25/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
92 points
Bright. Smooth. Soft. Uplifted. A really good way to start a 3 bottle exploration of California Cabernet. From here we went to Sonoma, then Napa.
Red
12/31/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
95 points
Fruit forward but with a slightly more feminine quality. I usually prefer cabernet with more age (20+ years), but this was brilliant on all fronts if you accept it for what it is - a 2nd label meant to be drunk earlier. On a personal level, this is exactly what my wife likes so it was a nice touch that it is from the year we got married. All to say, this wine delivered on all fronts.
Red
12/16/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
91 points
Needs more time to let the heat settle down. There is something great behind it, but needs a serious decant or 2-5 years.
1 person found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
2013 Keplinger Lithic Amador County Grenache Blend, Grenache (view label images)
12/16/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
To me, still not settled and drinking with a harsh edge. I think it will improve in a couple of years. No score for now.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
12/16/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
91 points
Really needs a lot of air to get past the austere start and turn into something with real potential. Goin to sit on this for at least 2-3 more years... I think it will improve noticeably.
Red
2010 Fattoria Di Vegi Chianti Classico Riserva Chianti Classico DOCG Sangiovese Blend, Sangiovese (view label images)
12/16/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
92 points
Incredible find. Approachable, pure, great with food. Thanks Tim for the tip.
Red
12/16/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
92 points
In a more burgundian vein, but slightly bigger. Austere in some ways but still approachable and food friendly. Enjoyed.
Red
12/1/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
92 points
Obviously well made. Still a bit heavy footed, but I expect it to mellow in 2-5 years. Probably not made for the really long haul, but not quite peaking.
Red
11/20/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
93 points
From magnum. To me, just entering the drinking window. Will improve over the next couple of years and stabilize for a few years after. Still fruit forward, but adding complexity. Needed about a 1 hour decant to really sing.
Red
9/10/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
93 points
Needed at least a 1hr+ decant, but a very nice pour. Not quite peaking so opening the next in 3+ years. An Italian syrah is not common, but this presents about like what you'd think - a high end N. Rhone made with a N. Italy winemaking tradition. Did not have the volcanic or tar component of it's nearest Italian cousin Aglianico, but did have the aged purple-fruit anise component. The finish had more in common with what you often get from higher end Tuscan wines. Glad to have one more bottle to enjoy even more in 3-5 years.
Red
9/6/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
95 points
This would be an unusually high score for me, but this bottle is truly singing right now. Had with charred porcini dusted ribeye and was an incredible pairing. The producer makes wine for the long haul, and at 16 this is just barely in it's early prime. Fruit (blue) is still in front but ultra refined with coffee notes, volcanic ash, and graphite elements supporting in the background. Sadly, only bottle.
Red
9/7/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
91 points
After 1 hour decant, most of the heat and alcohol has blown off. Started pick up some of the garrigue and black olive tones you might expect from a CDP - but a good bit bigger all around. Served this blind and was guessed as 10-15 year old tempranillo (Ribera style). All around a great selection if you are in the mood for something along the lines of S. Rhone but bigger and more fun.
Red
9/6/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
91 points
Rating for potential though could go to 92 (I'm mostly objective) in a few years. Try again in 2-3 years.
Red
9/6/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
91 points
Still quite young, even with a 30 minute decant still primary. Foley usually drinks young and I assumed this vintage would follow. Gonna sit on this for a couple of years before I try the next bottle.
Red
9/5/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
92 points
This is more delicate / subtle and will require more time than it's other Fratelli Alessandria barolo brothers of the same vintage. However, it is the most food friendly if you are having lighter Italian dishes and very rewarding if the food does not overwhelm the pairing. The regular and the Monvigliero are more up front, but all are in the same vein. Very glad to have a half case of each.
Red
9/2/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
92 points
This was a beautiful wine. Paired with roasted Arctic Char. It's aged in a graceful place and is a surprise hit for me. Definitely some Burg influence.
Red
9/2/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
93 points
Needs a modest decant (1-2 hours) to fully bloom. Agree with other descriptions here. Want to add that this is an excellent pairing with lamb, venison, buffalo steak... or anything along those lines. The pencil lead / volcanic mineral profile and deep red fruit just wrap around those pairings. We had with flame grilled lamb chops and it was superb. This will definitely go longer than indicated in CT. Maybe even not quite at peak, but close... and will stay there for a few years.
Red
9/2/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
89 points
This was meant to drink young and we waited a bit too long as it is now showing a hint of a harsh edge.
Red
8/19/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
90 points
90+ for now, but upside in 2-5 years. It's a sangiovese base but has the stuffing of a Montalcino. Dark, earthy cherry with tobacco and menthol undertones. Stands up well to north Italian faire.
Red
8/6/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
92 points
Needs a couple more years, but with a decant was excellent. Blue/black fruit-forward, oak is starting to settle, definite charcoal and savory notes behind the fruit. Not peaking yet.
White - Sparkling
7/4/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
94 points
Had it right next to '04 Dom Perignon. The Dom was expectedly excellent, but all agreed that this 2000 Henriot pulled ever so slightly ahead - perhaps because of a subtly richer/deeper style. Dom is a consistent benchmark and the comparison is not about quality, but more about sensory affect. All to say, not a bad way to celebrate Independence Day here in the states : ) !!!
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
8/5/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
92 points
Definitely a dusty note behind an excellent but typical Napa profile. It honestly drink like the label - if that makes sense. Had with a charred steak and it was great!
Red
8/4/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
93 points
In such a great place. Red/blue fruit evenly balanced with secondary characteristics of earth, tobacco, and pencil lead. Pop and Pour, don't decant.
Red
1990 Château La Louvière Pessac-Léognan Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
7/17/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
92 points
Soft and fruit forward. Refined plum and hints of cherry, but so balanced and easy on the tongue. Would have guessed BDX of significantly higher pedigree.
Red
7/17/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
93 points
Probably the closest to higher end BDX I have ever had from Napa. Excellent, red fruit, earth, secondary characteristics of leather and ash. Awesome.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2006 Bryant Family Vineyard DB4 Napa Valley Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
7/17/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
92 points
This has amazing potential and should add 2-3 pts.... years from now. Still primary and oak dominant. Won't touch again for at least 3-5 years.
Red
7/17/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
93 points
Leaning heavily toward higher end BDX, but with a slightly sweeter fruit profile that gives away the California. In a great place right now.
Red
6/11/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
93 points
1 hr. decant really opened this up. Oak flavors are fading, fruit is central but secondary elements are just behind. Peaking and terrific with a few great years ahead.
Red
7/19/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
93 points
Still going strong. Elegant, powerful, herbal, blue, refined. Sad to see the last one go.
Red
7/20/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
94 points
Could go longer, but terrific now with a decant. Other notes nail the profile.
Red
4/18/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
93 points
1.5 hour decant - needed that but really turned into something special. This was my blind to the guys and they guessed all over the map, 80's Cali Cab blend, 90's tempranillo, Piedmont - lot's of fun and all agreed it was brilliant. Sad to see the last bottle go.
Red
8/5/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
92 points
DEFINITELY needs a solid decant. Took about an hour to start singing.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
8/5/2017 - Mark Brandon wrote:
92 points
the 3 B's... Big, Balanced, Blue. Crowd pleasing and snob friendly. Sad to see the last bottle go.
Red
7/6/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
92 points
Liked it very much paired with a richer fish dish. Going to wait a year or two before I try again.
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