P. du Roy Grand Cru 1999 – Bordeaux, France

Deep dark and concentrated strawberry, moss, and old leaves on the nose.  Cotton candy and bananas as it opens up.  You read that right.  Wow.  Violets, red berries, cocoa, faint vanilla on the front palate, fading to florals and cocoa bitterness.  Sleek and elegant.  Looong finish.  We decanted this and drank it over the course of an hour.  A really lovely bottle worth the wait.  I picked this one up during my first visit to Bordeaux, in Saint- Emilion after a fun tour around the very generous tasting table of the shop Bordeaux Classique.

  • Rating: Stunning
  • Name: P. du Roy Grand Cru
  • Winery: P. du Roy, Saint-Émilion
  • Region: Bordeaux
  • Country: France
  • Varietals: Guessing Merlot plus – ask Danielle & Richard Dubois
  • Price: $50 (roughly)
  • Where to Buy: Bordeaux Classique

Quinta da Vacaria 2015 Reserva – Douro, Portugal

Notes of strawberry, cocoa, and dried leaves on the nose.  Soft acid notes blend with a bracing granite on the front palate.  Almost creamy red fruit, with vanillin and cocoa notes and more of the dank woody flavors.  Chewy leather and tobacco on the rear palate, closing with perfectly balanced tannins and an echo of those chewy leather and berry notes.  Wow.  This is fantastic!  How did I find it?  I did what you should do when you visit Lisbon:  go into Garrafeira Nacional, strike up a conversation with one of the fine women and men that work there, and ask them to help you find something fun and special.  I have never been disappointed.

  • Rating: Stunning
  • Name: Quinta da Vacaria 2015 Reserva
  • Winery: Quinta da Vacaria 1616 Vinhos S.A.
  • Region: Douro
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: Who knows – Teresa Pinto & Jean Higues Cros ain’t tellin’!
  • Price: About 40 Euros?
  • Where to Buy: Garrafeira Nacional, Lisbon, Portugal

Silk & Spice 2017 – non-DO, Portugal

Fresh red berries and vanilla on the nose.  This is a young wine in an atypical style for Portugal.  Tight tannins on the backend.  An overall velvety, vanilla, red berry heavily (American) oaked and fined, like a U.S. wine.  At this price point, it’s perfect as is.  A great BBQ wine.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Silk & Spice 2017
  • Winery: Possibly a custom blend by the importer, Evaton Inc.
  • Region: A blend of Dão, Bairrada, and Lisboa wines
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: 40% Touriga Nacional, 20% Baga, 20% Syrah and 20% Alicante Bouschet
  • Price: $11

Where to Buy:  www.wine.com

Herdade de Rocim 2017 – Alentejo, Portugal

A mixed berry with moss and leaves on the nose.  Dank and autumnal.  Soft, simple red berries on the front palate with immediate tannin.  The finish is taut, almost too tight, with a vegetal note.  At least at first tasting, at $20 it’s a bit too one-note and light to buy again.

  • Rating: Meh
  • Name: Alicante Bouschet 2017
  • Winery: Herdade de Rocim
  • Region: Alentejo
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: Alicante Bouschet
  • Price: $20
  • Where to Buy: com

ArmAs – Aragatsotn, Armenia

So, anyone heard of Armenian wines? If not, you will soon. I was in Yerevan for a recent work trip and happened to be visiting a bunch of agricultural sites, many of which were growing grapes. This country’s soils are so well-suited for orchards, particularly grapes, because of their volcanic or bouldery geology. All are very well-drained and the climate affords them enough sunlight and water stress to push them to the max. The grapes have traditionally been used to make exceptional cognac, but now the farmers are waking up to the fact that they have excellent conditions to grow world class table wines. This is not unlike the Spanish epiphany of the late 1990s or the Portuguese awakening of the early-mid 200os.

Now to the wine: it is ripe, tight, and spicy. Its native grapes reminded me of the Norton varietal here in the mid-Atlantic USA; very bold and very unique. I reckon that this will be drinking well for years to come. Sheridan, be thankful that I got a bottle for you too…

·         Rating: Impressive

·         Name: Karmrahyut Dry Red Wine

·         Winery: ArmAs

·         Region: Aragatsotn Province

·         Country: Armenia

·         Varietals: Karmrahyut, Areni, Kakhet, Meghrabuyr

·         Price: $12

Sheridan Vineyard Boss Block – Yakima Valley, Washington

A very American wine – too much oak that obscures the grape and the terroir.  Tastes like cherry vanilla ice cream.  Yes, that’s crazy talk.  Drops off at the end with cola flavors and a dark cocoa, chewy tobacco finish.  Pleasant, but not my cup of tea.  At this price point I probably won’t be buying this again – or anything from this group, but have a hard time waiving people off it.  If you like this style of wine – heavily oaked obsessive single-grape varietal wine, you’ll enjoy this wine.  I bought this for reasons that should be obvious and it reminds me of something Georges dos Santos of Antic Wines said to me the first time I met him regarding Washington wine:  “it’s good that they like it.”  Again, it’s a question of style and this just isn’t mine, regardless of the name.

  • Rating: Meh, for stylistic reasons
  • Name: Boss Block 2014
  • Winery: Sheridan Vineyard
  • Region: Yakima Valley
  • Country: Washington, USA
  • Varietals: Cabernet Franc
  • Price: $35-50
  • Where to Buy: Total Wine