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Arlaux Premier Cru Brut

I don’t need a celebratory reason to drink champagne, but drinking champagne always feels celebratory. This bottle, disgorged in 2019 after spending 3 years sur lie, opens with fresh bread crust and vanilla on the nose. With a surprising amount of structure, citrus jolly ranchers hit the tongue with hints of apple. A long, tight finish of cream soda.

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2015 SonVida Malbec (Mendoza)

With its luscious rosewood red color, this 2015 malbec from Argentina was just what I needed after an arduous, but successful week. As soon as I opened the bottle, this wine exploded with plum and oak on the nose. Seriously… you could smell it from 4 feet away. On the mouth, tight pepper and strong cherry (both fruit and stem). With its smooth, blueberry (or maybe boysenberry?) finish, this vintage leaves you feeling silky and smooth.

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Chateau Mangot 2016 (Saint-Émilion)

This Bordeaux-style red blend is mostly merlot, with a touch of cab franc and cab sauvignon, giving it a smooth, fruit-focused character. Drinking this bottle in 2021 found the tannins almost entirely subdued. A shy berry slowly gives way to cedar and spice making this extremely drinkable right now.

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2018 Fritz Haag Riesling (Mosel)

Riesling is one of those wines that I rarely think about or crave, but when I find a good one, I will easily grab 2-3 bottles.

This riesling comes from the steep slopes of the Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr region in Germany. It has a dense, lemon chiffon color in the glass. The nose offers strong melon rind and floral notes. On the mouth, the slate earth of Mosel really comes through, along with a citrus that is both creamy and tart. Lingering lemon finish.

The sourness in this vintage is really fascinating. It almost stretches the taste profile out of “riesling-ness” but the wine stubbornly hangs on the spectrum.

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2006 Insignia Red (Oakville/Napa)

2006 Insignia Red

There are many factors that determine a great bottle of wine, but one of the most important is “occasion”: when did you open it, why, and with whom. Sharing this bottle with my family during COVID-19 on the occasion of my birthday certainly made it memorable. It also helped that it was a remarkable vintage that, truth be told, could have survived another 10-15 years in the bottle.

With pepper and flowers on the nose, this Bordeaux-style red (95% cabernet sauvignon and 5% petit verdot) immediately draws you in. At first, it seems balanced but quickly tilts towards the tannins (again, my bad for opening it early). Big, silky mouth feel, with charcoal and plum, and a cherry finish.

This wine comes from the Oakville region of Napa, an area of deep gravelly and sandy clay loam soil. Most cabernet sauvignons from this region are not 100% cab grapes. The addition of 5% petit verdot (or merlot, cab franc, or malbec) is common and adds to the wine’s complexity.

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2014 Westerly Côte Blonde (Santa Ynez Valley)

2014 Côte Blonde

I’ve had this bottle in my cabinet for a few months now and though I’m glad to finally get around to opening it (I mean, what else is wine for?), I wish I had waited just a few more years. The tannins rake the tongue and it feels a bit unbalanced. So it’s a good thing I bought two bottles!

Blood-red, clean and clear with shades of purple in the glass. The nose is strong, hot, well-peppered with notes of blackberry and… Wrigley’s Big Red chewing gum. Light-bodied on the tongue, with more pepper, tart cherry, and something floral I can’t quite place. The finish gets a tad bit sweeter with a hint of unripe strawberry.

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2013 Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany)

caparzo wine labelHow long has it been since I posted a wine review? Honestly, I don’t usually go for italian wine. I don’t have anything against it. I just don’t always reach for a bottle when I have other options. But this weekend I felt like picking up a brunello and this 2013 Caparzo did not disappoint.

Aged two years in Slavonian oak, this fire brick red wine has subtle notes of tar and cassis on the nose (even after decanting an hour… it was still hard to find!). Once it hits your mouth the first thing you’ll notice is the taste of roasted meat (and charred rosemary?) and raspberry. Clean, light berry finish. I picked up an extra bottle to save for 2-3 years.

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You need to let it breathe

I wanted to enjoy this documentary about wine sommeliers, but I couldn’t get over how unlikable most of the subjects were. Plus, the whole “Master’s exam” has an unpleasant fraternal odor to it. Then again, maybe I’m just jealous that I don’t get to spend every waking moment consumed by (and consuming) wine history and culture.

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Xmas wine

That moment when your kid’s energy has all been spent on Xmas morning and it’s nothing but crying from here on out.

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Precious cargo

We’re moving today and tomorrow. Some things require special care.