Black Magnolia

  • Producer: Real Nice Winemakers
  • Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • Year: 2016
  • Type: Pinot Noir
  • Price estimate: $22
  • Tasting notes: Garnet in color and semi-translucent. Smells of strawberry, bramble and baking spice. Taste was great – cherry, strawberry, black fruits and a little vanilla. Very smooth and a really beautiful finish.
  • Conclusions: Fantastic wine. Loved drinking this – maybe a little too much. It has a lot of character without being fussy.
  • Notes: We got this in one of our wine club shipments and after drinking it and thinking about it for a week, I ordered three more bottles from the winery. Yes, it really was that good. It was one of those wines that holds my interest, but didn’t make me feel like I needed to study it and concentrate on the wine. It was just nice to drink. Bonus, we also ordered a rose from the same winery that, upon opening, was also great. Not the Lulu Rose great (my standard for amazing rose these days) but really good.

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Longboard Merlot

  • Producer: Longboard Winery
  • Location: Sonoma, California
  • Year: 2015
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $35
  • Tasting notes: Opaque prune color with a tint of brown at the edges. Nose has notes of leather, metal and compost. (Yes, it was not my favorite smelling wine). Taste of herbs and cherry with a note of fresh tobacco. Medium long finish.
  • Conclusions: Not bad, but also not my favorite. Think it needs another year or two before it will be fantastic.
  • Notes: I love a good Merlot and given all of the other wine we’ve had from this winery, I was very excited. Mildly disappointed, but I really do think a year or so will help and it has the potential to be a fantastic wine. The depth is there but it’s still hiding.

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Point Break Red Blend

  • Producer: Longboard Vineyards
  • Location: Sonoma, California
  • Year: 2016
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $27 (from winery)
  • Tasting notes: Inky dark purple in color. Smells a bit like a Cabernet with some pine and wood notes. Flavors on black cherry, blueberry, spice and pepper with some herbs. Finish is nice with definite coco notes. Drinks like a zin.
  • Conclusions: This is my kind of wine. easy to drink, complex but not so much going on that you feel like you need to study the wine. Bob liked it a little less than I did, but it was a great sipping wine.
  • Notes: This wine was great the day we opened it, but it was incredible the second day. It opened to a really fruity, beautiful red and lost some of the wood notes that I’m not always crazy about. (Yes, I know there are people who like the tree bark and forest floor taste, but I’m not one of them.) We are definitely getting more of this next time we order wine from the winery.

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Antiquum Farm, Pinot Noir – 2016

  • Basic info: Antiquum Farm “Juel” Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, Oregon – 2016
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $40
  • Look: Inky. Dark Purple/plum in color.
  • Smell: fresh tobacco, red berries, grape jam and leather.
  • Taste: Cherry, blackberry and a little tart. Notes of pepper, spice and jam with a velvety texture. Coco and pepper on the finish.
  • Conclusions: Amazing. Completely blown away by this one.
  • Other notes: We opened this bottle one night when I didn’t care that it was mid-90s in October as I just really wanted a red wine. I figured Pinot Noir is a lighter red wine and would be fine. We had this bottle for a little while and we just decided to open it. I was a little worried when I smelled the wine, but holy cow the taste! I added this one to my (very short) list of wines that were completely exceptional and just about perfect – the 95 plus wines if I was into giving numbers. This one was complex, fruity without being sweet, and was one of the best wines I think I’ve had. Yes, it is on the expensive side, but I have to say – worth every penny.
  • From the bottle: “Antiquum Farm’s high elevation, thin soil site is a place of anomaly. Perhaps an oddity. This site is capable of consistently producing a balance of extremes between luxuriously ripe fruit and high-toned rippling acidity. Our farming preserves the unique attributes of this site. No off-farm fertilizers are used. native cover crops are encouraged and graze year round with a menagerie of livestock. Exhaustive measures of meticulous hand labor embody our love of farming. These old world methods create one of the region’s most unique and intensely personal wines. This is more than a way of growing wine. This is a way of life.”  14.3% alcohol by volume.

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Machin Breaker, Pinot Noir – 2012

  • Basic info: Machine Breaker “The Innocents” Pinot Noir, Eloa-Amity Hills, Oregon – 2012
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $45
  • Look: Opaque ruby in color turning to rose at the edges
  • Smell: Tiny bit of cherry, some mineralogy and a touch of blackberry
  • Taste: Soft. Slightly sour cherry, some bramble and stone fruit. Medium finish with peach pit and a nice tart taste.
  • Conclusions: This was okay. Both Bob and I liked it, but it didn’t live up to the description or the reviews. I liked the wine just fine, but it wasn’t phenomenal.
  • Other notes: We opened this bottle to celebrate me new job and I kind of wish I had picked a different bottle. It is definitely a well structured wine, but it wasn’t really to my taste. A little too sour and maybe a touch too much wood to be truly enjoyable.
  • From the bottle: I completely forgot to look at the back of the bottle on this one. 13.5% alcohol by volume.

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Fattoria La Ripa, Chianti – 2010

  • Basic info: Fattoria La Ripa, Chianti Classico Riserva, Sangiovese (90%) & Canaiolo (10%),Tuscany, Italy (Chianti Classico DOCG) – 2010
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $35 (Somm Select)
  • Look: Garnet in color with some orange and brown at the edges
  • Smell: Oak, trees, and a little hot/alcoholic
  • Taste: Cherry, hint of smoke, baking spices. This was a really complex wine, but I had a hard time identifying or naming specific flavors. Dry, red fruit and a little earth in the middle. Pepper on the finish.
  • Conclusions: Both Bob and I really liked this wine. He isn’t a huge Chianti fan, so when he liked it, I knew it was a winner. I think this is my first aged Chianti and while I think I prefer them a little younger, this one was just beautiful.
  • Other notes: I will fully admit, when I saw the edge of this in the glass, I was worried. In my mind (the unsophisticated wine person I am) brown at the edge means not good – oxygenated and less than perfect. This definitely was not the case here – despite the age on this bottle (yes, I know for real wine people 8 years is not old, but for me it is) it was fantastic. I can’t wait to break into the other bottles of this – I may have picked up a few.
  • From the bottle: (From Somm Select tasting notes) ” La Ripa 2010 Riserva is a medium garnet-red moving to pink and brick-red at the rim, with aromas of ripe black cherry, raspberry, red currant, and a hint of blood orange peel mixing with more savory notes of underbrush, turned earth, wood smoke, and dried rose petals. Medium to medium-plus in body, it is exceedingly pretty and energetic on the palate, with fine-grained tannins and well-integrated acidity.” 13.5% alcohol by volume.

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Esztebauer, Kadarka – 2016

  • Basic info: Esztebauer “Nagyapam” Kadarka, Szeksard, Hungary – 2016
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $28 (Somm Select)
  • Look: Ruby red in color with some translucence at the edges.
  • Smell: (Stay with  me, this is a little weird) Smoke, herbs, trees and plums (yes, really)
  • Taste: Red berries, especially almost ripe or under ripe raspberry. Cola and a little rose.  Nice finish.
  • Conclusions: This was one of the most unique wines I’ve ever had. It ranks up there with the strange Sicilian wine with had in December that totally changed flavor with food. This was good, very good, but unlike anything I’ve tasted before. All of the flavors were there, but hard to identify. When looking at what we said it tasted like, it sounds bad and the wine should be bad (based on those flavors) but it was good – very good. This was one of the few times I wished I had a really good palate so I could accurately describe this wine.
  • Other notes: I was intrigued by this bottle and since I had never heard of the grape varietal, I decided to try it. I like trying new varietals and while I am sometimes disappointed, this was not one of them. Both Bob and I lingered over our glasses and sipped and contemplated because we had a hard time describing the wine. The smell and the taste were also so different that it was hard to believe they were the same wine.
  • From the bottle: “Above all other wines, my grandfather (Nagyapam) loved to drink the Kadarka of Szekszard, still cool, straight from the barrel. Harvested from our oldest vines, this exuberant, jasmine and raspberry scented rendition was made in his honor. Our family has farmed the chalk and loess hills of Szaksard since 1746.” 12.5% alcohol by volume.