This merlot-driven Washington cuvee shows big fruit slathered with big, but fine, wood. Layers of deep black cherries, some slightly bruised, unsweetened chocolate, and espresso, are sandwiched between thin layers of French oak, offering richness, some depth on the mid-palate, and wood-spice flavors, cedar and sandalwood. Drink with something very thick, very red, and only slightly cooked. Recommended.
Gianni Zonin, who likes to bill himself as “the biggest winegrower in Italy,” has 11 estates—10 in Italy and one in the U.S., in Barboursville, VA, not far from where that great oenophile Thomas Jefferson cultivated vines. Barboursville’s Octagon is blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc created that the winery produced only in the selected vintages. Dark red color in the glass, a nose of chocolate and blonde tobacco with nuances of eucalyptus. In mouth is silky: licorice and dark plum slip on a soft carpet of tannins. Finale is somewhat bitter; a shame that it is a little bit short. Pleasant with grilled meat.
A Napa biggie, a cousin of the pricier Quintessa. Nose of blackberry, eucalyptus, and earth. Rich feel on palate seemingly coming from myriad directions: dark currants, cocoa/chocolate, even some hints of pumpkin pie spice blend. The fruit, however, is a tad out of whack to the tannins and the wine is a bit “hot” (14.5% alc.) making it seem a bit unbalanced. A sinewy, semi-long finish that is slightly sweet. Nevertheless, a quite good wine, and a bargain when compared to many of its pricey Napa neighbors. Try with grilled hanger steak. Highly recommended.
An elegant offering from Washington’s Columbia Valley. Alcohol on the nose (14.5%) initially obscures the lovely treats underneath of cedar, anise, and fresh leather. Crisp on the palate, soft tannins, and expressive flavors of dark cherry and blackcurrant. At first it seems to finish short, but comes around in short order. A slow starter out of the gate, but a winner by many lengths. A great steak wine. Highly recommended.
The cork was a little soft and I lost a couple centimeters of it to the bottle. This wine is definitely showing some age. Garnet in color with a brick rim. On the nose it has definite aromas of dried fruit—cherry, plum, raisins—lots of spice, some vanilla, dried flowers, earth, the slightest hint of bell pepper, and what I think is a little Brett. It’s dry and rich on the palate, medium intensity, medium-light acidity, super soft tannins. Lots of dried fruit and floral flavors come through on the palate as well. Black fruit: plums especially. And a little cola. Definitely some brighter cherry on the finish.
In preparation for Open That Bottle Night (live, only on Palate Press; Saturday, February 26 from 7 pm - 10 pm EST), Ryan Reichert, managing editor for Palate Press, shares some information on the bottle he plans to open for the event.
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.