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2005 Penman Springs Vineyard Meritage

This is a very pleasantly juicy, reasonably-priced meritage. Cherries overly blackcurrant flavors, while dark chocolate, tobacco, and eucalyptus appear on the mid-palate. Tannins and acids are well balanced, and moderate, and the finish has a pleasant mintiness behind the mixed red and black fruits. Drink with duck.
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2005 Château Fleur Haut Gaussens

This Bordeaux Supérior seems to be hitting its stride, reaching a peak drinking window after five years. Blackberries, black cherry, and some cured meat lead the attack, followed by surprising and light spearmint. Tannins are firm, but not overpowering, ready to pair with a steak. Acids are in balance. It is slightly simple, lacking secondary and tertiary waves of flavor, but still offers far more than anybody could expect at the price point, and does it as a true balanced Bordeaux blend, rather than a blast of fruit and wood. At this price point, this is a great wine to drink, not with the finest prime meat a great steak house can offer, but with a choice New York strip steak from the local butcher.
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2006 Capatosta Poggio Argentiera Morellino di Scansano DOC

This is not a wine: this is an icon of Maremma Toscana! The grapes are mainly from old Sangiovese clones, with high density planting and extremely limited production, which give the wine ruby coloration in the glass, and a bouquet of dark flowers (violet) and spice (pepper, cinnamon, cloves) but also with a nuance of chocolate. In the mouth it is fresh, with good acidity, still fruity, with smooth tannins. A very elegant and drinkable wine, perfect with grilled red meals.
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2005 Viu Manent Syrah Secreto

An interesting wine. It's northern Rhône on the nose, all smoke and olives, but on the palate, it is Golden State all the way. Figs, plums, and black cherry are shouldered aside by very sweet mocha and caramel. The mouth feel is very soft. There is little acid, leaving the wine just a little bit out of balance, but very reasonably priced. Drink with a sloppy barbecued beef sandwich and fries.
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2005 Valdivieso Eclat

Aromas of black fruit, blackberry, earth, plums, and a touch of red raspberry on the edges. The nose seems quite dark and the Syrah showed through as the most prominent component to me, even though it only comprises 20% of the blend. On the palate I found flavors reminiscent of black plum, cedar, earth, blackberry, smoke, spice, red currants, and herbs. Overall it has good acidity and structure. Personally I would have preferred a little less Carignan in the blend.
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2005 Deerfield Ranch Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

A big wine, a full, spicy mouthful of black fruit - blackcurrant and blackberry - and loads of spice - black pepper, white pepper, eucalyptus and toasted maple. Wood treatment is obvious, but the fruit is big enough to balance it out. Tannins are powerful but smooth, showing years of remaining cellar life. Drink with a porterhouse, with the filet side early, and the strip side after it gets some air.
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Palate Press Wine of the Week – 2005 Amista Cabernet Sauvignon

If you are tired of over-the-top Cabernet and are looking for something with less tannin, you will appreciate this release. Red fruit of blackberry, blackcurrant, plum clove, and berry on the nose. Soft mouth feel, excellent balance, and a pleasant lingering finish on the palate. Layers of complexity. Could be laid down a few more years but certainly approachable and highly drinkable now. For more visit Simple Hedonisms.