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 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. 

2014 Casarena 505 Esencia Red Blend, Mendoza, Argentina (Guía Peñin 91)

The 2014 Casarena 505 Esencia Red Blend from Mendoza, Argentina is a fantastic wine for one person to drink while watching a movie. This wine rewards patience as it doesn't get going until it has been decanted for 35+ minutes and continues to evolve and impress more and more between 45 minutes and an hour and a half after opening. At 7-10 minutes, the initial nose offers dried mint, tobacco, steely minerality, and a mix of red and black cherry compote. At 15-minutes, toasty oak emerges on the nose. 5 minutes later, whiffs of roasted coffee beans and plum skins add dimension. At 35 minutes, the cherry fruits are becoming juicy, and the plum skins are picking up fleshiness signaling the beginning of the drinking window. By 45 minutes, the cherry flavors are becoming sweet with air (wine is dry) as delivered on the 30+ second finish. There's an interesting spicy minerality with cracked black pepper and hints of bell peppers.     After an hour, the Esencia has become delicious delivering a lush melange of cherries with fine powdery tannins. At an hour and fifteen minutes, this wine really starts delivering sappy red cherries such as sweet red Twizzlers licorice (wine is dry) with lavender accents. This wine has more than ample structure as the wood presence is such that it will compliment fatty cuts of beef such as Ribeye perfectly. At this point, I can go a tick higher than Guía Peñin's 91 point score. At just $13.87, this is a fantastic value for those who show patience in making this wine an event.

- Tasho Katsaboulas 

2015 Les Darons, Languedoc (Parker 91-93 Points!)

Because the wine's grapes came from 40+-year-old vines, the winemaker named the wine Les Darons which is slang for the Dads or old men. This wine is young and requires 25+ minutes of decanting before getting too deep into it. The initial nose is of dusty blackberries, fine dried tobacco, cocoa, and soft leather. At 15 minutes, violets, blueberries, and black cherry liquor diversify the darker black fruit flavors. The Syrah and Carignan impart enough juiciness to deliver the notable tannins which would compliment rich, full-flavored meats. The fine tobacco and peppery minerality give this wine a level of sophistication typically seen at much higher price-points. This $16.98 value was reviewed 91-93 point by Robert Parker.

- Tasho Katsaboulas

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

Purple Cowboy 2013 Tenacious Red (Syrah-Cabernet), Paso Robles, $14.98, Wine Review 90 Points!

This wine is selling well with lots of repeat buyers. Honestly, after trying the wine, I'm a little surprised. My surprise stems not from there being anything wrong with the wine, but from the wine's need for decanting. Usually, the average consumer just opens, pours and drinks. On wines we've tried that need a certain amount of decanting to show their best, we always advise our patrons of that specific need. In this instance, the 2013 Purple Cowboy benefits greatly from 25-30 minutes of decanting which may seem somewhat lengthy for a sub-$15 wine. For those of you who have been liking this wine without decanting it, I know that you will love it after 25-30 minutes of air!

During the decanting process, the wine starts out dark and charred with aromas of blackberry liqueur, stewed black plums, and burnt matchstick. There's a slight bitterness to the fruit flavors that eventually disappears. As the wine begins opening, aromas of pencil shavings, earth, and distant bell pepper emerge. 

At about 27 minutes into the decanting process, the gradual improvement of the wine reaches a point that becomes very inviting. All of the aromas and flavors mentioned above meld nicely. A hint of black cherry emerges adding a red-fruit complexity that nicely contrasts the stewed black plum and blackberry flavors. Aromas and flavors of cassis begin to further complicate the wine. At 38 minutes after opening, an interesting aroma comes up that's like Juicy Fruit gum. Warm aromas of cinnamon and oak join in with the cool aroma of dried soft green leaves. Although the wine has a nice 25-second finish, it seems to start fading a bit past 50 minutes after opening. Therefore, the drinking window begins after about 27 minutes of decanting and last 30 minutes.

The 2013 Purple Cowboy has the perfect personality for cool to cold Fall and Winter evening. Enjoy this one on the patio with friends after dinner. It will pair nicely with flavorful grilled ribeyes. With proper decanting, I find that the wine lives up to Wine Review's 90-point score (quite good for a sub-$15 wine).

Tasho Katsaboulas

This article was published on February 9, 2016

Vina Robles 2012 Red 4, $16.98, Wine Review 90 Points

Tasho and I (Jimm) tasted this wine under our usual rigorous tasting conditions, giving the wine ample time to open and show its hand. As mentioned, this is a Rhone-inspired blend from Paso Robles, California. However, atypical from Southern Rhones, this blend showcases an interesting 50% Petite Sirah with the normal Rhone elements of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre composing the other half. Also, while this wine does display a power one might expect from a Paso Robles red, it does it with finesse, complexity, and less alcohol (13.9%) than some of the high-octane offerings from the region. But the fruit is unmistakably the star of the show here and is well displayed and supported.

Initially, the nose reveals a tarry quality, yet combined with a dry, spicy leafiness. There is an earthy depth here, stewed plums with reduced blackberry paste, and blue fruit and dark chocolate powder that richly extends to the plush mid-palate. The fruit-forward finish is long and underpinned by an herbal/spice softness.

While not the usual would-be Rhone blend, fans of the style will find a welcome value here, rich and complex, powerful without unnecessary muscle, and delicious fruit served upon very balanced tannins. A joy to drink.


This article was published on February 12, 2016