Trivento Malbec Reserve 2015

W Trivento Malbec 2015Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina

100% malbec

13.5% alcohol

Opened 29 Oct 2017

els 8.9/10

Decanter 95

Guia Descorchados 90

Bodega Trivento, the Three Winds Winery, sources its Malbec grapes from the Andean alluvial and colluvium soils of Lujan de Cuyo and Uco Valley, south of Mendoza, Argentina. The vineyards are at an altitude of approximately 3400 feet, soaking up 250 days per year of intense sun, in the dry, thin air; temperatures ranging in the summer growing season from highs of 95 degrees Fahrenheit during the days to 55 degrees at night. The semi-arid climate sparingly doles out less than 1.5 inches of rain per month during the growing season, forcing the growers to add drip irrigation to  assuage the vines thirst.

This inexpensive wine has a wonderful, clear, ruby-red color begging you to further investigate its aromas of cherry and strawberries, its soft tannins, and velvety, favorable finish. Chocolates and pasta will pair well with this Malbec.  Remember to decant and aerate the wine for an hour or two, it will help immensely.


Vina Real Crianza 2012

W Vina RealOther Red Blends from Rioja, Spain

90% tempranillo

10% garnacha, graciano and mazuela

13.2% alcohol by volume

els 9.0/10

Guia Penin 93

Wine Advocate 92

Compañía Vinícola del Norte del España, CVNE, a family winery and vineyard, was founded in 1879 in the small town of Haro within the wine growing region of Rioja, Spain. The town is renowned for the annual Haro Wine Festival, celebrated on the 29th of June, in honor of the town’s patron saint, San Pedro.  The event is inaugurated each year, with a possibly, somber and sober mass at the Hermitage of San Felices de Bilibio, followed by wine drinking competitions, and drenching thine neighbor with buckets of red wine, producing a population of lovely, glowing, lavender hued, inebriated participants. Songkran take note.

Today the company includes 4 wineries including Vina Real in Laguardia, established in 1920s, near the provincial seat of the Rioja wine district, Logrono; producing some of first oak barrel aged wine in the region.

The vineyards are grown on calcareous soils in the Rioja Alavesa wine sub-region at a few hundred feet above sea level, south of the Cantabrian Mountains, enjoying a calm, continental climate of moderate days in the low 70s, and nights dipping into the low 60s with 2 to 4 inches of rain during the growing season, although 2012 was very dry.

The wine has a clear to brilliant, garnet to ruby-red coloring; a bouquet of blackberries, cherries, plums, and earth. A wonderfully balanced, medium bodied wine with a very nice finish.

An outstanding wine.


Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

W Tahbilk 2013Cabernet Sauvignon from Central Victoria, Australia
100% cabernet sauvignon
14.0% alcohol by volume

els 8.9/10

Australian Wine Companion 94

Wine Spectator 90

Tahbilk established itself in 1860, as the first winery in the Goulburn Valley of Central Victoria, Australia and is one of the oldest wineries in Australia. Reginald Purbrick purchased the winery in 1925 and 5 generations of family have been making wines there ever since.

The vineyards are situated less than 500 feet above sea level but the temperatures are cool nights of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit with the days hovering in the low 80s during the growing season. Rain is sufficient at about 1.5 to 2.5 inches per month. The soils are sandy.

Tahbilk cabernet sauvignon is produced from about 70 acres of old vines planted in 1949.

The wine is a brilliant ruby-red with a great fragrance of black cherry and plum.  Mild herbal and spice hints add to its sensual aroma. The tannins are smooth and easy, producing a balanced but a long and intense finish. A good wine.


Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2013

W Kaiken Malbec 2013Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina
100% malbec
14.5% alcohol by volume

els 8.7/10

James Suckling 93

Wine Spectator 90

The Kaiken Winery, named after the gregarious caiquen goose, is located a few miles southwest of Mendoza, Argentina on a medial position of an alluvial fan born from sediment disgorged from the towering Andes to the west, and a few stones throw north of the spirited, flowing braids of the Rio Mendoza.

The malbec grapes are harvested from 3 vineyards north and south of Mendoza, ranging from 950-1250 meters above sea level, rendering thirsty, hot days and dry, cool nights, partnering with the sandy, loamy soils in providing temperament and complexion to the impending wines.

With a clear ruby-red color the wine exudes a black cherry and plum bouquet with a mild vanilla sweetness coming later. This malbec is smooth all around; pleasant and mellow tannins with a simple and balanced finish. On a better day I might rate this wine 9.0/10 but it just doesn’t manifest the pizzazz, personally, to push it to that level.

The 2013 vintage is very difficult to find but there is a similarly rated 2015 Kaiken Ultra Malbec available for $18.99

Tercos Bonarda 2015

W Tercos BonardaBonarda from Mendoza, Argentina

100% bonarda

13.9% alcohol by volume

els 9.1/10

James Suckling 93

Ricardo Santos Winery produce two types of wines from their vineyards in the foothills of the Andes near Mendoza, Argentina: the eponymous Ricardo Santos and Tercos.

Tercos was developed by Ricardo Santos’ sons, Pedro and Patricio. The wine’s iconic, humorous and possibly triple entendre wine label of 4-donkeys in 3-piece suits is suggestive of a play on the word stubborn, the literal Spanish to English translation of Tercos, insinuating the difficulty of producing a superb wine from the local dry and poor volcanic soils, and finally, they may be donkeys, but they dress up rather nicely.

The bonarda grape, aka the Italian charbono, is grown on the Finca La Pitonisa, or in English, the Witch Estate, which is in the evening shadows of the inactive Andean stratovolcano Tupungato which towers another 5400-meters over the 1100-meters above sea level vineyards. The volcano contributes to the silica rich, sandy loams of vineyard soils containing various amounts of aluminum, calcium, sodium, magnesium, zinc and iron which augment the flavors and body of this wine. The vines were planted between 1977 and 1990 placing them mostly into the old vine category of lower yield but concentrated grapes.

This is a satisfying wine with a pleasing, dark ruby-red to violet color. The aroma is easy with berries, plums and raisins in the forefront with a hint of cloves and spice. The taste is very smooth all around and the balanced finish lasts well into your next sip.


Arnoux et Fils Vacqueyras Seigneur de Lauris 2012

Vacqueyras 2012Rhone Red Blends from Rhone, France

70% grenache and 30% syrah

14% alcohol by volume

els 9.0/10

Antonio Galloni, Vinous 93

Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate 90

The Rhone Valley, situated between the Massif Central to the east and the Alps to the west, in southern France, produces some of the truly great red blend wines of the world. The vineyards in this valley have practiced and perfected their craft before the Romans arrived in 154 BCE to defend Massilia (modern Marseille) from the Gaul’s. The wines, especially from the right bank of the Rhone, have been the favorites of kings and popes since the Latin and Greek Churches parted company in 1054.

Arnoux et Fils’ winery, on the right bank of the Rhone River and the slopes of the jagged Dentelles de Montmirail, has been in the Arnoux family since the early 1700s. The Dentelles de Montmirail, formed from the uplift and nearly vertical placement of Late Jurassic-Oxfordian fine grained basinal carbonates are the source of the winery’s poor rocky soils. The soils produce low yield, concentrated grape tannins and subsequently, wonderfully delicious and aromatic Rhone reds.

This wine has beautiful clear garnet hues which just beg you to enjoy outside on a Willie Nelson “Uncloudy Day“. Powerful aromas meet your nose with hints of raspberry, currant, black cherry, and prunes.  Whispers of mushrooms and cloves add to this delightful fragrance of liquid comfort. The tannins are smooth and easy, providing a nice balanced finish now and for years to come. Enjoy by itself or with a selection of pungent cheese and salami.


Martin Ray Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2015

Martin Ray Pinot Noir 2015Pinot Noir from Sonoma County, California

els 9.1/10

James Suckling 95

Courtney Benham purchased the Martini and Prati winery and the Martin Ray brand in 2003 and set up shop in the cool marine climate of the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, California, 50 miles northwest of the Golden Gate Bridge and notable for no earthly reason, is about 6 miles west of the Charles M. Schulz Museum. The winery has roughly 12 acres of rather newly planted, 2011 Pinot Noir vines.

The wine has a brilliant ruby red color with aromas of raspberry, plum and earthy mushroom. A smooth medium to full bodied, delicious tongue treatment leading to a satisfying balanced finish.  An outstanding wine which I would grade just a tiny notch below James Suckling’s rating but I quibble. Snoopy may have wanted a root beer but Linus would have preferred this Pinot along with some dried salmon and Jarlsberg cheese.


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