I’ve been too serious for my own good here, and far too wordy. If you have read this to the end, I thank you. I would also like to remind you that I want to think wine is fun. It goes back, of course, to deliciousness. That fundamental aspect of the appeal of wine. So without further ado, here are my notes for recently tasted Bordeaux-style blends. I look forward to hearing your feedback on this list, your likes, quibbles, and downright disagreements!


2008 Winston Hill Red Wine Rutherford 14.5% $150
89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot

Closed on the nose and a bit inky with slow to emerge black raspberry, currant and pomegranate aromas tinged with a hint of violet and some sweet gum tree notes. A bit thick in the mouth but not heavy, this is kind of silky with rich, lush fruit. There’s enough acid to keep this bright, lending the fruit a touch of a raspberry coulis cast. The tannins are very well managed, keeping this rich yet approachable and letting the toasty, raspberry rugelach  flavors ooze over the palate. The finish shows nice shavings of bitter chocolate and wood spice accenting the fruit. Fairly long and a touch sticky on the finale with cinnamon and blueberry grace notes. Culty kind of flavors and feel. 93pts

2009 Buty 14.2% $40
64% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Franc

Deep blueberry, raspberry, tobacco leaf and pencil lead notes greet the nose, along with some nice toasty cookie notes. A touch sweet up front, this is rich yet transparent with fine tannins and well-integrated acidity. The fruit is lovely, fresh and focused with red plum and wild raspberry notes. This is elegant and finely balanced with lovely mineral and very lightly herbal notes on the back end. That leads to a tight, focused finish which fades into a bit of an oaken wash on the finale. Give this a bit of time for the wood to integrate and this should be fabulous. Little bit of black cherry cough syrup on the finale. 93pts

2008 Trinitas Meritage Oak Knoll Napa Valley Ca 13.9% $55
54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec

Tight on the nose and showing a leading edge of fine French oak without much to cover it at this stage, though some ivy and candied black plum notes do emerge with air. On the palate, this is classic California Cabernet: rich, round, with bright acid and some assertive wood tannins at this young age but a core of black cherry, currant and blueberry fruit. If this stays well balanced and loses some baby fat it could be great. Even now it delivers plenty of enjoyment with a particularly long, well-fruited and ever so tactile finish. A bigish wine but one that really has its stuff together. 93pts


2007 Urraca Familia Langley Reserva  13.5% $50
50% Merlot, 30% Malbec, 20% Cabernet

Dusty, lightly smoky oak topping fresh wild cherry and plum, with a fine green herb edge. Carob and lots of spice here. A bit sweet and richly jammy, this is packed with remarkably fresh raspberry fruit. Bright acids and polished tannins make this easy to drink. There’s light cigar box shading on the palate, which really is zesty, and a nice light dusting of grabby tannins on the moderately long, citrusy and wild raspberry-toned finish. Really lively and red-fruited. 92pts

2008 Donati DFV Paicines Ezio  14.5% $50

A nice loamy note greets the nose along with hints of graphite, mint and loads of cedar spice. This has a sweet/sour thing going on the palate with a bit of Tootsie Roll over the base of pomegranate and sour cherry fruit. There’s a touch of meatiness on the back end and a touch of wood tannin that emerges along with it. The fruit is red and fresh, if a little subdued, though the fruit does linger on the palate with a fine base of wood spice, which pops on the finale. Fairly lean if well integrated with a lovely Cabernet profile. 92pts

2007 Muratie Ansela Van de Caab Stellenbosch SA 14% $40
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz

This is nice and soil-driven with a noticeable bed of oak topped with lovely dried herb, red currant, mint, pepper and gentle toffee aromas. Rich and velvety, this has a lovely muscular yet wiry feel with earthy, slightly roasted red fruits and rich coffee bean and dried herb nuances. The tannins seem fairly resolved here and the acid is bright and well integrated lending this a fine, fresh feel. There’s a real base of earthy, perhaps slightly funky flavors here that sets off the fruit particularly on the cranberry, cherry-toned finish, which shows a top note of dusty minerality. This is old school and not fruit-driven, but is also complex, refreshing and wonderfully succulent. 92pts

2007 Seven Hills Winery Pentad Walla Walla Valley Wa 13.8% $50
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Carmenere, Petit Verdot

Lovely, taut nose is a bit matte but surprisingly attractive with cocoa, caramel and vanilla grounded in lovely spicy black fruits. Full and broad in the mouth, with an open knit feel about it. There’s enough acid but it is covered by the rich fruit here, showing real restraint. The back end reveals deep cherry and black currant fruit with a touch of pluminess that transitions into a lightly spiced, oak-driven note on the long, toasty, raspberry jam finish. Elegant and refined while remaining rich and powerful. 92pts

2008 Terlato Angels’ Peak Napa Valley Ca 14.2% $50
95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc

Meaty and plummy on the nose with lots of crystallized sugar and toasty oak spice, topped with a hint of green fennel seed. Rich with good depth, yet this remains rather restrained. Not a soft style of Merlot but slightly structured and well balanced. The fruit is lovely, fresh and plummy with a hint of red cherry wrapped in bittersweet cocoa and topped with a gentle woodsy element. The finish drops off a touch, but then returns with fresh red fruits over taut, slightly austere wood tannins that remain integrated. A lovely effort. 92pts

2007 Ferrari-Carano Tresor Alexander Valley Ca 14.5% $40
Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot

Meaty and earthy on the nose with sweet molasses aromas and a real herbal edge. There’s even a little Bovril here adding complexity to the core of dark fruit. This is velvety, smooth, rich and polished with nary a seam showing. A bit weighty and rich, the fruit is low in the mouth with more meaty, herbal and chocolate nuances providing some relief from the pressure of the fruit. People are going to love this, though for me it is a bit thick and shows a lot of oak on the back end and through the long, spicy finish. Not my style but very well done. 92pts