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Palate Press Wine of the Week: 1999 Joseph Phelps Vineyards Merlot

The nose has rich dark fruits and with a light floral background of violet. The palate has dark plums, elderberry, pencil lead, and violets. Tobacco leaf shows up on the mid-palate. Tannins are very fine. The overall impression is of smooth layers of dark depth. The finish is sweet and lingering, everything is in excellent balance. Drink with bacon-wrapped filet. Highly recommended. DH
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Palate Press Wine of the Week: 2005 Havens Wine Cellars Bourriquot

The nose is rich—mulberry, unsweetened chocolate, and a ripe, meaty, gaminess. The Cabernet Franc leads on the attack, more blackberry than mulberry, with tobacco leaf and unsweetened chocolate. Merlot takes over on the mid-palate, softening to a silky mouthfeel and offering hints of red fruit and fine, dusty tannins. The finish is mid-length with lingering tastes of unsweetened chocolate. Drink with bacon-wrapped filet. Highly Recommended. DH
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2005 Havens Wine Cellars Bourriquot

The nose is rich - mulberry, unsweetened chocolate, and a ripe, meaty, gaminess. The cabernet franc leads on the attack, more blackberry than mulberry, with tobacco leaf and unsweetened chocolate. Merlot takes over on the mid-palate, softening to a silky mouthfeel and offering hints of red fruit and fine, dusty tannins. The finish is mid-length with lingering tastes of unsweetened chocolate. Drink with bacon-wrapped filet. Highly Recommended. DH
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2008 Kirkland Meritage

If you live near a Costco you know where this is going. “Kirkland” is Costco’s proprietary brand for everything from soup to nuts (and I mean that literally). They market a “Kirkland Signature Wine Collection” whereby they slap their own label on wines, and some of them are quite good and represent excellent value. This Meritage is a classic Bordeaux blend. The nose is slightly herbal and gives off whiffs of boysenberry and cedar. The flavors are of blackberry and there is perhaps a shade too much oak. The merlot comes on strong, almost overtaking the cabernet sauvignon, but the fruit is quite nice. A tad one-dimensional, but still very pleasant, and an absolute bargain for the price and quality. Nice with simple grilled meats. Recommended. GT
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2006 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon

Four hours in the nose is blueberry and black cherry pie. The same fruits, adding unsweetened chocolate, high notes of tobacco leaf and a touch of eucalyptus and vanilla doesn't overpower now and will fade with more time, all make a complex but well-knit palate. Tannins are dust-fine and sweet. The finish lingers. Buy it now but cellar it for five more years. When you do drink it, drink it with a black-and-blue ribeye and fried onions. Highly recommended. DH
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2008 Girard Signature

The nose is a little tight, suggesting blueberries and tobacco along with a light background of red fruits and licorice. It offers some interesting complexity in the palate, too, with loads of dark fruit, blackberry, elderberry, and blueberry, with a bright red fruit background. The mid-palate has coffee and licorice, the finish adds unsweetened chocolate. Tannins are very sweet, mouth-feel is very smooth. Complexity seems to come from fruit (plus, perhaps, some extraction), not from wood. The wood effect is clear but light, adding touches of spice but not overwhelming the original juice. It would be at home with a steak or a great burger, or a fireplace and a friend. Highly recommended. DH
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2009 Mason Sauvignon Blanc

Nose of pink grapefruit and apple, with a very slight back hint of spice—cinnamon, maybe? Very clean and rich on the palate, with elements of the pink grapefruit and peaches. The fruit is very expressive—this is not an austere, steely Sauvignon Blanc. Finishes long and clean. Impressive. Try with grilled shrimp. Highly recommended. GT