Monday, December 05, 2016

December 2016 wines – 10 Tasted of 10

View to the East (Nov 3rd '16) 
Monday is a monumental day in our house. It’s when I prepare a special dinner for my partner while her duty as receptionist at the Carpenters Hospice occupies her afternoon. It ties our marriage in a knot! One of the good kind.

The Sunday of each week is the time to purchase ‘supplies’. That same day I choose a recipe and then run around hunting down spices/herbs -  ingredients not normally stocked in our kitchen and the mains. This Sunday I could not find fresh Halibut. Must be the wrong season - it’s not much of a supper without an entrée. I did find fresh leeks tho’ and the herbs. But that’s not the point of my story!

My frustration started with an online search for a recipe. Stefano Faita’s website ‘In The Kitchen’ is usually my source. Today I went with Halibut w/Leeks and Spices from But how does this tie with the delay in my Strictlytasting Blog, my monthly  tastings and Blog update?  Well frankly it doesn’t!

What caused the delay:
Backing up a few weeks I went through the routine of shutting off my faithful Hewlett Packard desktop of 16 years. This time, the very next morning there was no sign of life. Talk about Black Friday this was Black Tuesday, Nov 15th. I quickly became motivated to find a replacement. 

I did!  An Acer Z3-Es61 All-In-One, 23.8” screen with 8GB and an Intel Dual Core 3.2GHz processor. The operating system is (a confusing and complex) Windows 10.

Data transfer, system setup and a tutorial came with the bottom line price. However two weeks later the tutorial never happened. A simple query such as ‘How do I print an email?’ got the retailer’s response ‘Bring in your unit - the service will only be $40’. A home visit will be $100. I found the hidden Print icon myself with some perseverance. Finding my original HP data was ‘hunt and peck’ then ‘convert’. Today December 5th, I’m almost certain I’ve found my last HP data and converted them to the latest Excel/Word etc. etc. format. I equate the last two weeks to apprehending foes of the Marvel heroes with no backup extraterrestrial abilities. 

My conclusion: the store’s shelf model wasn’t functional and neither their technical nor their sales staff would have been able to provide an in-store tutorial anyway. 

Lesson to be learned: Take time to confirm the Retailer's tech support before you buy! But I'm ranting so I'll stop.


LINEUP:   Reds and a Bubbly
  • H. J. Fabre Barrel Selection Malbec 2014, 90-2  --  V,  Patagonia, Argentina, #455741  $18.95
  • Dandelion Lioness of McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014, 90-1  --  V, South Australia, #357475  $21.95
  • Gérard Bertrand Cap Insula 2013, 89-1  --  V, Languedoc, France, #474973  $17.00 
  • Santa Carolina Gran Reserva Petit Verdot 2013, 87-1  --  V, Valle del Rapel, Chile, #007484  $15.95
  • Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon 2014,  85  --  G, Modesto, California, #392647  $17.45
  • Josh Cellars Cabernet  Sauvignon2014,  84  --  G, Hopland, California, #461053  $16.45*
  • Tessellae Old Vines Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre Côtes du Roussillon 2014, 84  -- V,  Midi, France, #343517  $18.95
  • Ménage a Trois Silk Red Blend 2014,  83  --  G,  Lodi, California, #462853  $13.95
  • Clayhouse Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, 83  --  V, Pasa Robles, California, #057869 $17.00 

  •   Bailly LaPierre Reserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne NV,  87 --  V, Burgundy, France, #991562  $19.95  
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)


GÉRARD BERTRAND CAP INSULA 2013, Midi, France,  13.5%  XD  xg/L,  #474973  $17.00  (Tasted December 9, 2016)

Released by Vintages on November 12, 2016. Rated 90 by Kim Marcus, (August 31, 2015)  My notes: A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. A fine scent of blackberry edged with gunpowder, enough to add tang to the fruit. A swirl rides high on the sides smooth without tears until receding nearer the meniscus. The first sip senses a thin bodied berry with appreciable tannin that quickly dries the palate. The finish uses this dryness to extend the flavours to develop this into a pleasurable solo sipper. A deep royal ruby shines under a strong light. Now three years in the cellar and may do another term. Serve with a thinly sliced meat selection – or have with a cheese, pepperoni, anchovy pizza. 89  

CLAYHOUSE  CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 , Paso Robles, California, 13.5%  D  5g/L,  #057869  $17.00  (Tasted December 18, 2016)

Released by Vintages on November 12, 2016.  My notes: From a deep ruby there’s a soft blackberry/currant scent accented by a light tang. Fruit is slowly replaced by a light herbal nose.  A stiff swirl leaves a thin film hanging, in slow motion, a rim of tears. A sip displays berries, a parching tannin and in the background a noticeable brightness.  The brightness remains as fruit and acid fade. Medium-bodied to go with sweet figs. Reserved flavours to match veal scaloppini, side bacon piled on a toasted bun, rib steak or liver & onions. Not an investment to cellar – more of a drink now – as in a festive crowd. 83  

DANDELION LIONESS OF MCLAREN VALE SHIRAZ 2014, South Australia, 14.5%  XD  2g/L,  #357475  $21.95  (Tasted December 14, 2016)

Released by Vintages on October 15, 2016 and rated 91 by Josh Reynolds , March 2016.  My notes: Smooth as silk and having a combination of cherry and raspberry with polite warmth and a mild spice. If one prefers a mild bitterness forego aerating - personally that’s my preference. A swirl quickly brings a ring of tears. A long finish retains a smooth tannin and the flavour of fresh berries. A bright but deep ruby colours the bowl adding a cheery attitude for sipping. Pair with beef tenderloin, rib eye steak or rare beef hamburger. Cellaring several years could increase depth but a delicious drink now. 90  

TESSELLAE OLD VINES GRENACHE/SYRAH/MOURVÈDRE CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON 2014, Midi, France, 14.5%  D  2g/L, #343517  $18.95  (Tasted December 17, 2016)

Released by Vintages on September 3, 2016.  Rated 90 by Robert Parker  (July 2015) and  a 92 by Natalie MacLean . My notes: A blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre aged in concrete before bottling. Mourvèdre has been an outstanding blending component in my view as early as September 2008 - when tasting entry level wines individually then introducing Mourvèdre. The purpose was to see if low price wines could be improved. This blend has a parching texture, flat with a touch of bitterness. A swirl brings a few tears that run quickly then show a thin film building and dropping. Aerating had little effect - a touch of fresh plum and mildly tart cherry pit remained in both tasting. A meal red better paired with rare steaks and tenderloins - beef Wellington in particular. Cellaring potential has come and gone. 84 

MÉNAGE À TROIS SILK RED BLEND 2014, Lodi, California, 13.5%  D  13g/L,  #462853  $13.95  (Tasted November 27, 2016)

A General listing produced by Trinchero Family Estates .  My notes:  A blend of Pinot Noir, Malbec, and Petite Sirah.  An ebony tinted ruby which swirls a smooth film gradually separating into a lacy pattern.  There’s a slight sting to the nose changing a soft plum to a crushed blackberry. The first sip retains a brightness while laying a chalky satin that mellows to a warm finish. An economical social sipper to start or end a welcoming socializer. Pair with beef sausage, Italian pizzas, minute steaks and similar entrées -  making this a modest to casual party ready gathering. 83

H J. FABRE BARREL SELECTION MALBEC 2014,  Patagonia, Argentina, 14.5%  XD  2g/L,  #455741  $18.95  (Tasted December 20, 2016)

Released by Vintages on October 29, 2016.  Awarded a Gold Medal by Decanter World Wine Awards 2015. My notes: A warm nutty vanilla scent, before and after aerating -  and no noticeable change to a dry, tangy blackberry flavour. The tang persists going into a long soft textured finish. Effects of aerating begins to show - softer while brightening a tad. A swirl leaves a noticeable film that sticks releasing long legs - a tad slower when aerated - from a loaded rim. Suitable paired with an assortment of sliced meats, a mix of roasted entrees or sipping sociably. Quaff to demonstrate an interesting an interesting balance - a value for its price. Has potential in the cellar. 90 

SANTA CAROLINA GRAN RESERVA PETIT VERDOT 2013, Valle del Rapel, Chile, 14.5%  D  5g/L, #00784  $15.95 (Tasted December 13, 2016)

Released by Vintages on July 9, 2016. My Notes: The distinctive nose can a tiebreaker as the initial sip lays a full blackberry spread and adds an herbal bouquet plus drying tannin. Aerating reduced both the intensity and herbal edge improving overall balance and is recommended. Pair with spicy ribs and savoury stews rather than going solo. The colour is an opaque ruby darkened to exaggerate a medium bodied texture. The combination of primary terroir elements - body, flavour and texture - carries into a long finish. Although three years in the cellar has softened an earlier robustness another few years could likely benefit.  87

JOSH CELLARS CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014, Hopland, California, 13.5%  D  10g/L, #461053  $16.45*  (Tasted December 11, 2016)

A General listing made by WJ Deutsch & Sons and reduced from $17.95 until November 27, 2016. My notes: A deep ruby with a faint fruit, mostly soft berry, and scent. The rim partially fragments before showing a few fast tears. A thin bodied red with a finish that retains a bright berry, a light tannin to dry the palate and a latent soft sweetness that adds pleasure from a reserved body. I preferred quaffing to reinforce the texture and fruit. Have as a sipper or with mushroom stuffed pastries, a buffet of Italian meats or entrée of veal scaloppini and grilled cherry tomatoes. It was adequate with a roast pork tenderlon. A drink now. 84 

CARNIVOR CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014, Modesto, California, 14.0% D  8g/L. #392647  $17.45  (Tasted December 5, 2016)

A General listing.   My notes: A thin version of a classic Cabernet Sauvignon having colour, texture, body and flavours – but each being ‘thin’. Serve as a starter at an open bar with an open buffet of stuffed mushrooms, Italian meats and assorted hard cheeses. Pair with grilled beef slices or savoury stews. Cellar multiples for occasions of guests dropping by football finals. Colour is a charcoal hued ruby and the initial sip carries with a dryness touched with a subtle sweetness. Finish is short encouraging the next quaff. 85
BAILLY LAPIERRE RÉSERVE BRUT CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE NV,  Burgundy, France, 12.0%  XD  11g/L,  #991562  $19.95  (Tasted December 21, 2016)

Released by Vintages on November 12, 2016 and a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay and Aligoté.  My notes: Slowly loosening the knobby cork led to an explosion and a brief spray. A collection of bubbles large and small settled quickly as tilting the bottle slowly filled glasses. Viscosity was light, foam dissipated quickly and refreshed the palate with a short, crabapple, spritz finish. Nose was absent of aroma – just the tender nip of acids. Quaff and slosh liberally to enjoy a brief action and cooling saturation. Sip liberally amid conversation on a warm sunny patio or accompanied with mixed buffet of cheese and shellfish. 87

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