2015 Penya Red Blend, France (Tasho Katsaboulas 91)

The 2015 Penya Grenache-Carignan-Syrah blend from Côtes Catalanes, France generously rewards those who decant with patience. Out of the decanter, an initial nose of spice, violets, dry gray stones, and tart red fruits with blue and black fruit accents is joined by an interesting inkiness. At 15 minutes, faint whiffs of smokiness emerge and meld with aromas of fresh raspberries. At 21 minutes, the fruit is just beginning to loosen a bit, and plum skins are emerging on the nose, but the wine is still not quite ready to drink. At 27 minutes, the fruit is starting to loosen introducing the beginning of the drinking window. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate scored this wine 89 points. For the first 40 minutes, I agreed. However, after 40 minutes of decanting, this wine soars to a new level as lush black fruits impart a deep, rich flavor that brings a wonderful counterbalance to the tart, juicy red fruits. At 57 minutes, there's a sappiness to the plum and raspberry fruits that remind me of Now-and-Later candy (wine is dry). This interesting red blend kills it at just $13.87! I have no reservations in upgrading the Wine Advocate's 89 to the 91 point score this wine fully deserves.

- Tasho Katsaboulas