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2004 Domaine de l’Oratoire St Martin Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne Cuvée Prestige

This is a very nice bottle of wine, and it has improved with time in the cellar. When the first bottle was opened in 2008 the nose was shy, refusing to give up its secrets without several hours of decanting. Now, after two additional years of rest, it sings. Leather and a touch, a light touch, of barnyard cradle layers of different cherries all sprinkled with white pepper and a spray of foam from an Atlantic wave. Hide this wine in a blind tasting of Chateauneufs and nobody will question its place in the lineup. Drink with steak au poivre.
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2009 Hahn Winery GSM

A very juicy fruit-forward wine sprinkled with white pepper and allspice. Blackberries and figs lead the attack, giving way to black cherry cola, pepper, and vanilla on the mid-palate. Tannins are sweet and smooth. Acid is quite powerful, even a little bit tingly, but should settle down over time. Drink with pork roast.
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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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2007 Columbia Crest Two Vines Vineyard 10 Red

Bright, medium-deep intensity, ruby with some purple. On the nose, dark fruit, bramble, blueberry, black cherry, raspberry jam. All fruits are on their way to being cooked, but not stewed. New oak, baking spice, vanilla, some herbs—but not prominent. Dry, medium+ body, medium intensity. Fruits confirmed: black cherry, raspberry, plum, jam. Toasted oak, vanilla, cinnamon, and coffee on the palate. Medium acidity, medium tannin, medium alcohol, medium-long finish. The spice from the oak and some fruit linger. In summary, this is a fairly decent table wine, especially given the price. The finish is really good for a wine that might be presumed to be "low quality." No doubt this is mass-produced, but is an excellent every day wine. I'll definitely buy again.
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2007 Núvol Monastrell

A big mouthful of licorice and purple fruits, with some unsweetened chocolate undertones, a real tooth-stainer, with a spicy follow-through. Tannins are solid, almost chewy. The finish falls off rather quickly, but the Quality to Price Ratio (QPR) is very good. Drink with beef ribs.
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2008 Juan Gil Monastrell – Jumilla, Spain

A knockout of a red wine from the somewhat obscure Jumilla region of Spain. Made from Monastrell, known in France as Mourvèdre, it is high in alcohol (15%) and presents a heady mix of lush and brawny characteristics. Lovely nose of crushed blackberries with tones of vanilla and Indian spice, primarily turmeric. It situates well on the palate with a solid tannic structure to hold it up. Finishes a bit hard, but that will likely soften with time. I really like this wine, and the price is right. Try it with classic Spanish tapas, like a nutty manchego with Serrano ham.