Location “P” Edition 4, Wine Review 97!

It’s not often that we get to try a 97 point wine for under $25, but when we saw that one of our red blends had garnered a 97 point score from Wine Review Online, we had to decant the Location “P” Edition 4 and taste for ourselves.
Just after pouring, the aromas of prunes, blackberry compote, leather, roasted vanilla beans, and the spiciness of crushed black peppercorns filled the glass.  A brief 10 minutes of air exposure brought forward sumptuous flavors including cherry liqueur, hints of soft bay leaf, dark, dry chocolate, and a depth of purple violets.
At 25 minutes of decanting, another side of the Location “P” emerged with hints of crushed stone, faint smoke, baking spices, and cherry pipe tobacco coming forward.
30 minutes in, we took our first taste and enjoyed a generous 40-45 second delivery of rich cherry liqueur, prunes, and roasted vanilla. Being mostly Touriga Nacional, the principal grape in port, every sip delivered delicious port-like flavors in a unique completely dry style.
With a sub $25 price tag, 97 point review, and a delightful blend of Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, and Touriga Franca, this is a superb wine that will be a must try for all the lovers of big Zinfandels and Shirazes as well as anyone who enjoys contemplating a wine’s complex aromas.

- Andrew, Jimm, and Tasho

2015 Trinity Oaks Merlot, Wine Review 90!

Let's face it: at the $10 mark, we tend to expect fruity, pleasant wine, but nothing really special. Just a decent glass of wine for the midweek meal or an after-work wind-down. If we get that, we are happy. But occasionally, an inexpensive wine will surprise us with a bit more, and today, we had that pleasure.

Today we opened the Trinity Oaks Merlot and, as always, gave it a vigorous decanting. Initially, the nose revealed chocolate, blackberry, and black cherries with a pleasant aroma of roasted vanilla bean. The palate coated the tongue with red and black cherries sustained by powdery tannins.  No fruit bomb here! While the fruit was rich and offered interesting aromas (including salted taffy, of all things), it was well balanced by the wood which continued to the fore, over time granting whiffs of autumn underbrush and pencil shavings. Over time, there were even elements like faint bell pepper and burnt matchstick that continued to entice.

We are always delighted to find a true bargain, a wine that delivers beyond its price point and exceeds expectations. The 2015 Trinity Oaks Merlot California, at $10.98, delivers. And, as if giving you more than your money's worth on the wine isn't enough, Trinity Oaks has a program, One Bottle One Tree, where they plant one tree for every bottle sold. Great people making great wine!

2014 Handcraft Malbec, Tastings 91 Points!

At Kats Wine and Spirits, we strive to bring our customers wines with an excellent price to score ratio, and with the Handcraft 2014 Malbec, we have a real winner on our hands. With a 91 score, the tasting team (Tasho, Jimm, and Andrew) decided to see how this Malbec would respond to a little decanting.

From the start, this wine had a very inviting aroma with inky blackberries, dark plum skins, dry cooking chocolate, and dried herbs filling the decanter in the first five minutes.  Each interval brought a new flavor to the party with soft purple flowers and cocoa powder at 10 minutes, blackcurrants and faint peppercorns at 15, and a soft minerality at 20 minutes.

At 20 minutes, our first taste delivered an exceedingly generous 45+ second finish of rich fruits and a soft, powdery minerality that stayed even longer. With just 20 minutes of patience, this wine delivers a range of fruits on the palate with yellow plums, tart black cherries, hints of baked dark fruits, and blackberries, all complimented by a light taste of cocoa powder.

However, this wine was not finished.  At 35 minutes, a lovely anise scent arrived to complicate the nose further.  By 50 minutes, the melding of flavors, silky texture, and soft powdery minerality had us saying the wine was well worth twice its price.

While the 91 point score from Tasting’s.com is no slouch, we feel that this Malbec and its dash of Zinfandel is worth an extra point. We give the Handcraft 2014 Malbec a Kats 92, and at $11.98, it’s our best sub-$15 Malbec out of California!

2014 Baron de Ley Tempranillo, Wine Spectator 90!

Hailing from the Carboneras vineyard, the highest vineyard in the Rioja appellation, the 2014 Tempranillo is our newest wine from the Baron de Ley winery. Promising red fruits and well-developed tannins, we at the tasting team selected this Tempranillo as the next wine for our decanting test.

10 minutes after opening, the initial nose of this wine was resplendent with black cherries, soft herbs, and subtle whiffs of scorched earth. An additional 10 minutes began to reveal the sweet cherry pipe tobacco aromas while ever so slightly tart and extended red and black cherry notes and soft white pepper spiciness attacked the palate.  These flavors came in a sustained wave that showcased an impressive 35+ second finish.  While this wine may not be especially acidic, the slight tartness and a delightful salinity give this wine a very refreshing personality.

At the 30-35 minute mark, this wine became impressively complicated with emerging subtle flavors of black olive, elegant cedar, faint graphite, and sweet cinnamon spices.  This level of complexity is a rarity, particularly at the $13.87 price point.  This wine is truly a gift from Baron de Ley and would be ideal for your next tapas outing or a prosciutto & olive pizza.  For those who enjoy tuning into the subtle complexities of this Tempranillo, Wine Spectator’s 90 point review will seem a tad stingy.  Go ahead and consider this a Kats 91 and a spectacular value! 

2013 Pacific Rim Dry Riesling, Wine Enthusiast 90!

Often pigeonholed as a sweet wine, Riesling is not a one trick pony.  There is a bevy of dry Rieslings available, and we at the Tasting Team (Tasho, Jimm, & Andrew) had a chance to inspect an example of the style with the Pacific Rim Dry Riesling from Yakima Valley.

This Pacific Rim, a 2013 vintage, wine pours a rich honey color, a trait of rieslings with age. After 10 minutes of decanting, this Riesling stayed true to form with a pleasant dusty, dry chalkiness and honeyed green apples on the nose. An additional five minutes revealed a soft and attractive herbal component to the aroma with hints of citrus and pear coming through as well.

20 minutes in, our first taste revealed a myriad of citrus with lemon, lime, and ruby red grapefruit arriving front and center with a tinge of orange on the side of the tongue and a mouth-coating finish.

At 30 minutes of decanting, the minerality of this wine begins to emerge and contributes to more body than your average dry Riesling. On the whole, this is a very approachable wine that will be sure to garner plenty of praise. However, we found this Pacific Rim Riesling to be lacking the big punch of acidity that we've come to expect from a dry Riesling so expect a softer style.

At $14.98 and 90 points from Wine Enthusiast, we feel this rich and slightly softer style delivers great value and will drink well on cooler Spring and Summer evenings. 

2015 J. Bouchon Canto Sur Red Blend - Descorchados 93 Points!

The J. Bouchon Canto Sur is a Chilean blend of 50% Carmenere, 25% Carignan, and 25% Pais and with a little decanting, we, at the Tasting Team, believe this wine is a sterling example of those obscure varietals.

With five minutes of air, the Canto Sur exhibited a delightful melange of stone-ground herbs, peppercorns, baked black fruits, cherry licorice, and inky raspberries on the nose. A scant 10 minutes later, whiffs of soft chalky peppermint over a palate of sour cherry and raspberry demonstrated Carignan's place in this blend and the wine's friendly and approachable personality.

At 30 minutes of decanting, what was a jovial and light finish gains a breadth that endures past the 30-second mark.  With a little patience and aeration, the Canto Sur appeared to gain weight and mature into a more "serious" wine.

While the J. Bouchon Canto Sur can be slowly enjoyed after 20 minutes of decanting, it's at the 30-35 minutes that this wine begins to broaden and exhibit the fruits and spices of the Carmenere and Carignan grapes. 

At just $16.98, the 93 point Canto Sur red blend is a steal from J. Bouchon! A blend like this is ideal for the salinity and earthiness of a prosciutto and mushroom pizza or your favorite herb roasted chicken. Regardless, be sure to set aside a little time and thoroughly enjoy the 2015 J. Bouchon Canto Sur. 

2015 Jacob's Creek "Two Lands" Pinot Grigio, Tastings.com 90 Points!

Jacob's Creek calls the 2015 vintage their best in a decade and after tasting their "Two Lands" Pinot Grigio, we, on the tasting team, understand their need to celebrate.

This South Australian white opens with an aroma of green apples and pears with hints of peaches over soft chalkiness. A few minutes of air allows aromas of high-pitched lemon zest to add dimension to the nose. With 20 minutes of decanting, developing notes of banana pudding with vanilla wafers and the fleeting nuances of fruit stripe gum round out an already complex nose.

With such dimension to the nose of this wine, we had hopes that the "Two Lands" would follow through on the palate.  Initially, this Pinot Grigio delivered a burst of energetic, refreshing lemons and peaches with an impressive staying power.  Lingering for more than 40 seconds, the finish of this wine has an elegance that far exceeds its $11.98 price point. 

A unique feature of this wine is a creaminess on the palate that contrasts and yet perfectly intertwines with its acidic citrus energy.  In fact, we would describe the finish of this wine to be refreshing like lemon meringue pie (without meringue).

 2015 Jacob's Creek "Two Lands" Pinot Grigio would be ideal for redfish at the Mayflower Cafe or a summer evening on the patio. We find Tastings.com's 90 point review to be entirely fair and validating of this remarkable $11.98 value.

2016 Boya Sauvignon Blanc - 93 Points Descorchados! 

With the mercury rising, we're entering prime Sauvignon Blanc weather in Jackson. To help combat the heat, our tasting team decided to put the 2016 Boya Leyda Valley (Chile) Sauvignon Blanc to the decanting test.

After initial agitation in the decanter, the Boya presented aromas of soft chalk, sea breeze, and salted cold pears. Within 25 minutes, aromas of white grapefruit, grass, and lime zest became evident as whiffs of green peppers added interest to the mix.

At 25 minutes, we had our first taste of this wine and were impressed by a persistent 50+ second finish that delivered energetic waves of oceanic salinity carrying zesty herbs, juicy lemons, and white grapefruit across the palate.

10 minutes later, aromas of elderflowers awoke on the nose while the wine continued to gracefully deliver powerful citrus flavors across the palate with great length.  

At $18.97 and 93 points from Descorchados, the 2016 Boya Sauvignon Blanc is one of the vintage's must-have Sauvignon Blancs! With an abundance of citrus and soft herbal notes, this wine would be sensational with steamed seafood, particularly mussels & clams. The Boya also makes the perfect wine for Spring and Summer backyard cookouts.

2015 Calcu Sauvignon Blanc, Descorchados 91 Points!

At just $14.98 and 91 points from Descorchados, the 2015 Calcu Sauvignon Blanc is our next contestant for the decanting test. Within five minutes of opening, this impressive wine from the foothills of the Andes Mountains in the Colchagua Valley (Chile) exhibited a bounty of the Sauvignon Blanc's traditional flavors with earthy notes of faint smoky flint, light sea breeze, and moist chalk with fruit flavors of lemon zest, pears, green apples, and undertones of pineapple. 

Our first tasting came at 15 minutes. Initially, there's a brief moment on the palate when the wine seems like it may be a little short and linear.  However, the wine promptly expands and coats the palate with a lush delivery of concentrated waves of pear, green apples, and lemons, echoing the initial aromas.

At 30 minutes, additional development reveals attractive aromas of delicate wintergreen deep within the glass. That scent, combined with the bracing flavors of light salinity and lime make the 2015 Calcu Sauvignon Blanc a refreshing companion for your next patio outing.

Overall, we find the Descorchados 91 to be a fair review and the 2015 Calcu Sauvignon Blanc to be a great value at just $14.98.

2010 Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva, Decanter 95!

Due to its Decanter 95-point score at just $17, we've had the 2010 Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva targeted for tasting since discovery. It certainly has not disappointed and, at $17, this wine way over delivers. I'd be impressed by this wine at five times its price.

We poured this wine in a decanter and violently agitated it washing-machine-style for about 5 minutes to get it going. I'd recommend being on point after 25 minutes of decanting to nose the wine and take a few test sips over about 10 minutes to the 35-minute mark when I'd start slowly sipping the wine.

The initial nose offers cold, dry chocolate, blueberries, blackberries, pencil lead, and cool, dry herbs (not quite spearmint or wintergreen, but slightly cool). On the palate, there's a free delivery of abundant blue and black fruits along with notions of the other mentioned components. By 25 minutes in, additional elements of chalk and black plum skins emerge with a very slight tartness that alludes to developing red-fruit complexity. 

At 32 minutes, the wine is opening further, becoming a harmonious melding of the scents and flavors above while new complexities of elegant cedar and violets stir around the nose. If you are not into this wine by now, you're late to the party.

Later, slightly raisinated black plums with hints of red-fruit brightness emerge to take the complexity of fruit to extraordinary levels. Eventually, the red-fruit nuances become convicted in offering up dark cherries that join with the other fruits to deliver an incredibly dynamic palate that spans the entire red-blue-black spectrum.

The 2010 Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva and the 2013 Aquinas Pinot Noir are my top two must-have red recommendations.

- Tasho Katsaboulas