Tasting Notes for Mark Brandon

(489 notes on 396 wines)

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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 : ) !!!
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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.
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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.
Red
7/5/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
92 points
All agreed that this was very much left-band bdx on the nose and taste - and would have guessed that in a blind tasting. In a great place right now. The only hint that it might be Napa is the very slight tell-tell glycerin on the back end of the finish. that hints at Napa.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
7/4/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
93 points
Had this next to an '04 Dom. The Dom was very good as expected, but all agreed the Henriot was a solid step up - little bit richer, more depth, more layers. Considering both were excellent, not a bad way to star the Independence Day festivities!
Red
6/23/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
92 points
Totally crowd pleaser. Caymus meets Silver Oak (Alexander Valley), but less refined, more fruit forward, and definitely for drinking young. I've been having a lot of 80's Napa Cab lately and this couldn't be father from that, but this was perfect for overpowering brisket or burgers at a summer gathering. I don't love this style, but have to recognize that it is done well - amazingly so for a Paso Robles cab. Great QPR as well.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
3/12/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
92 points
Needs time... much potential, but still tight and wound up. Some '07s are really singing, but the ones built for the long haul are stubborn. Maybe next one in 5+ years.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
3/12/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
93 points
Honestly, should score higher, but I opened too early and/or with insufficient decant. 94-95 in the future, but still fun to drink now, if a little bit closed and reticent.
Red
3/12/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
93 points
Not sure why, but Spring Mountain '08 is really coming around. This was terrific! Blue fruit, minerality, long finish, touch of herbal notes... with that "lifted" and bright impression you get from the appellation.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2/16/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
95 points
Brilliant! Big and rich in all of the ways you would expect... but refined with no edges. It's like they took the work "balance" and turned it up to 9 (not quite 10 as this is truly not over the top). Very sad to see my one and only bottle go. I shared it with a couple of great friends... worth it.
Red
2/5/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
93 points
Probably past the mid-window point, but now splitting the difference between the house style and something with a touch of old world - but bigger. Brilliant with rosemary arctic char.
Red
2/15/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
93 points
Very good. More like 2nd growth left bank bdx at this point. Fruit and secondary characteristics in a soft balance. Nuanced, herbal, tertiary, plum, mineral, delicate anise.
Red
3/4/2018 - Mark Brandon wrote:
93 points
Bought this on a whim. Still more fruit forward at this stage and a touch overripe, but a great food cabernet. Not sure this has the structure for another decade, but could improve for a few years.
Red
2/15/2018 - Mark Brandon Likes this wine:
93 points
Excellent provenance. 80's cabernet, when done well, has so much in common with Left Bank BDX. This bottle was in a secondary phase, but still plenty of soft plummy fruit with an herbal undertone. Enjoyed immensely (and then followed with the '02 vintage of the same wine - really a cool experience all around).
1 person found this helpful Comment
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  • Tasting Notes: 489 notes on 396 wines
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