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  • 2013 Finca Manzanos Rioja Voché Reserva

    I find Spanish wine to be the most consistent. You always know what to expect and you know it will taste great- it's my go-to in a pinch. This particular bottle is short and squat, unlike any other wine bottle I have seen so I had to try it. The wine is semi opaque and a nice shade of ruby. On the nose it's a medium intensity with aromas of stewed black plum, graphite, blackberry and that earthy/dusty quality I love in Riojas. The palate is dry and offers up rich blackberry, black plum, dust, charred wood and chocolate. The tannins are grippy and the acidity is quite lithe. I get black tea and earthy bramble on the mid plate and the finish is a dry affair with medium length. Overall its a decent wine that I would cellar for another year or two unless you like them tannic. It should drink well after that till 2028. I'm pairing mine with Honey Bourbon London Broil. 90 points for this $40 wine makes it a 4 star effort.

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  • 2016 Ixsir Altitudes Rouge

    It's Middle Eastern cuisine tonight so I pulled out this Lebanese blend of 35% Cab Sav, 26% Caladoc (?), 22% Syrah and 17% Tempranillo. Interesting varietals all mixed together. The wine itself is semi opaque in the glass and has medium intensity aromas of red currants, raspberry, blackberry and cloves. The palate is dry but has a blackberry jam sweetness to it, I doubt there's any residual sugar here, it just tastes that way. The black and red fruit components are well balanced with the lithe tannins and medium acidity. There is a black tea hint on the mid-palate and I also get charcoal on the back end. The finish is mid length and tasty. There is a medium weight body to this wine and good mouthfeel. I am enjoying it and think it's a 90 pointer that gets 5 stars for the reasonable $15 price point. Drink till 2025 with grilled meats aka shish kebab!

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  • 2016 Two Hands Shiraz Bella's Garden

    I've been a fan of this winery for many years. In fact I have written about several wines from them and each one got a glowing review. I just realized that this bottling is named after the founder's daughter who is but 3 days older than my youngest son, Jet. This vintage runs a little less ABV than previous, 14.2%. In the glass it is deep purple and showing youth rather than maturity. The nose is very pronounced with aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant and white pepper. There's oak for sure, it's just seamless and presents itself in vanilla and perhaps some chocolate notes. As I swirl the flavor profile shifts towards blue fruit- think blueberry and plum. There is a sweetness to this wine that might manifest into a jammy component on the palate- let's see.

    On the initial attack I get blueberry cobbler, vanilla, grippy tannins, juicy acidity and ever so slight jamminess. It's not overly thick like some Aussie Shirtaz-bombs can be, more subtle. I get a distinct smoky note which is actually not playing well into my aspirations, it's a bit disjointed. The mid palate is quite dry and the finish is definitely where the tannins are showing up. It's quite a long affair with plenty of fruit flavors, but the grip is very present. I like it. This wine will pair well with my char-grilled strip steak and Chorizo sausages. I think it drinks nicely now and will continue to evolve and get better with time. Cellar or drink till 2028 for this 91 point wine that gets 4 stars for it's $55 entry fee.

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