So it's the Memorial Day weekend and I've finally figured out a groovy way to catch up on some tasting notes. Turns out all I had to do was develop a mysterious searing pain in my jaw that sent me to the emergency room in the middle of the night on Saturday, then spend two days typing while lolling around holding ice to my face and ingesting fistfuls of Percocet. (Percocet ROCKS, by the way.)

I should've thought of this years ago!

Unfortunately, the resulting notes are rife with spelling mistakes, glaring factual errors and occasional descents into incoherence and misanthropy. I beg your forbearance in these matters; please understand, it's the drugs talking.

Right then, here we go....


Baron d'Aliénor Sauvignon Blanc Bordeaux 2006 ($7). Very quiet smellies, shy lemon-tangerine-vanilla-cream. Tastes tangy-citric, with gently creamy flesh wrapped around some medium-zippy, slightly spiky acidity. Rather neutral, seems stripped of character and body. Nothing to object to, really, but well along the road to Blandville. [Buy again? Nah.]

Château du Tariquet Sauvignon Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne 2006 ($6). Lemony aromatics, maybe a touch of tangerine in there as well, tastes straightforward and crisp, although with a muted quality. Tart, with a touch of creaminess in the middle along with a bit of heft. Pretty decent, really. You could do a lot worse for six bucks. [Buy again? Sure.]

Louis Jadot Chardonnay Bourgogne 2002 ($10). Corked.

Louis Jadot Chardonnay Bourgogne 2002 ($10). Not corked. Woodshot aromas--sawdusty hints over some lightly stony underripe-pear yellowfruit. Then more sawdust. I may go back to the corked one. Bleh. [Buy again? Never.]

J-M. Brocard/Domaine Sainte Claire Petit Chablis 2006 ($10). Light lemonstony aromatics, touch of cream, touch of firecracker paper. Tastes brisk, cream-edged stony yellowfruit, touch of pear, touch of yellow apple, kind of on the neutral side, but nicely honed for chardonnay. Tangy acidity, a bit of give in the jib, gently fleshy yellowfruit. Doesn't really ring my bell, but goes very well with my three-shrimp medley, so I'll give it a bye on food-friendliness. Why is the Chablis small, anyway? SCREWCAP! [Buy again? I guess.]

Aujoux Chardonnay Bourgogne 'la Burgette' 2006 ($9). Gentle creamy-vanilla candle-pear aromatics. Tastes flavorful but loose, fleshy-creamy around the edges, core of medium flickery-spiky acidity poking its head up once in awhile, Whack-A-Mole acidity. There's nothing really amiss here except a real nondescriptness--this could be Mondavi Coastal or Kendall-Jackson or [fill in your favorite nondescript industrial chardonnay]. It does deliver recognizable "chardonnayish" flavors, so if you like "chardonnayish," it might be a good buy. [Buy again? No, not really.]

Gaujol de Saint Bon Picpoul de Pinet Coteaux du Languedoc Cuvée des Dames 2006 ($8). Light honey and beeswaxy aromatics, along with a touch of spicy quasi-muscattish apple pie spice thing. Tastes straightforwardly flavorful, a bit blunt and plainspoken, but it kind of grows on me. No complexity here, there's a kind of flat applejuicy quality to the middle, but the wine has a sort of blue-collar appeal, and it grows on me for no particular reason. [Buy again? Sure, what the hell.]

Cantina Zaccagnini Colline Pescarese il Vino dal Tralcetto il Bianco di Ciccio 2006 ($7). Quite sweetly floral-smelling, honey and honeysuckle, touch of hay, mandarin orange. A sip, and it's a rather broad mouthfilling wine, tropical-floral and glyceriney. Quite surpisingly pleasant, really, if utterly unsubtle, has a sort of puppyish fruitbowl appeal to it without being overbaked. Nice. [Buy again? Yup.]

Pacific Rim Winemakers Riesling 'Pacific Rim Dry Riesling' NV ($7). I see no appellation information on this wine, not even 'USA.' Is this riesling from the Philippines? At any rate, the new ownership doesn't seem to have taken the quality down, as it's still a pleasant baseline riesling, almost entirely dry with middling acidity and a rather broad feel in the middle. Pretty decent, and cheaper than I remember. SCREWCAP! [Buy again? Sure.]

Columbia Winery Riesling Columbia Valley 'Cellarmaster's Riesling' 2004 ($11). Medium light straw-lemon color. Smells like white jelly beans mingled with peachblossom and vinyl hints. Tastes glossy-smooth--lightly sweet, light lemony acidity, middleweight, pleasant... pretty decent sipping wine, might be a little plump to serve with food. [Buy again? I guess so.]

J.J. Christoffel Erben Riesling Urziger Würzgarten Spätlese 2003 ($10). I don't know why this is so cheap--some cross-country market-dumping shenanigan that Jay Miller tips me off to. This is the last of three bottles, and it's just awfully yummy. Richly aromatic, lemon-pineapple and beanbag chair, touch of lilikoi, more vinyl, then a flash of coral chips. Tastes broadbeamed, just expanding in my mouth in a vivid chorus of sweet and tart and tropical and a touch of spritz. The sugar and the acidity aren't quite in tune, but both are quite robust, with a slight lean in the direction of ponderousness. It skates back from that edge, tickling my inner bits with little bursts of tropicality. Kind of a kooky version, but would you expect any less from that benighted year of heat and death? Nice work. Thanks, Jay! [Buy again? Duh.]


Les Vignerons de Cases de Pène Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes Mourvedre 'Ninet de Peña' 2006 ($7). Darkly ripe black-raspberry/leatherberry aromatic, tarry undertones mingle with a general candyfruity quality. Medium acidity, fleshy-dark redfruit, loose and gentle and a bit dilute, but straightforward and amiable, with a quiet earthy streak. Sort of plain, sort of unimpressive, but also strangely amiable, goes down easily and smoothly. [Buy again? Just barely, yes.]

Paul Jaboulet Ainé Crôzes-Hermitage les Jalets 2004 ($15). Smoky blackberry-raspberry laced with a dollop of barny funkiness. Tastes a bit thin and tart, medium-crisp acidity gives a hint of sternness, but there's a velvet quality to the fruit that emerges in the middle to quench any possible impression of sourness. Relatively simple, straightforward Crozes, a bit watery in the middle but competently constructed and decent, if kind of boring. [Buy again? Nah.]

Clos de la Roilette/Coudert Fleurie 2006 ($15). Strawberry patch, dirt and sweetly wafting redfruit. Medium-bodied, crisp and lithe, nervy at the core but with a satiny feel. There's not a great deal of sustain, but a wonderful friendliness more than compensates. A pleasure to drink, defies parsing. [Buy again? Yup.]

Pierre LaPlace Madiran 2003 ($9) (60% tannat, 20% cabernet franc, 20% cabernet sauvignon). Smells soft and vaguely plush, blackcurrant and blackberry, touch of eucalyptus. Tastes ripe and loose and fairly friendly, with just a dusting of fine tannins. There's a light candied sheen to the fruit, very little of Madiran here, but amiable enough as generic red wine. With air a bit more of a rough character emerges, but it's really a little lapdog of a Madiran. [Buy again? Nah.]

Jean-Louis Tribouley Vin de Table 'les Copines' NV ($9). Medium-dark purply-black color. Smells dark and smoky, blackberry and plum, smoke and a pronounced licorice streak, hint of Band-Aid¬ brand bandage strips. Tart-tasting, on the lean side of medium bodied, with a rough chewiness that I like. Pleasantly funky, with a lot of dark flavor and subtle earthiness. Good, offbeat wine. [Buy again? Yup.]

Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie Corbières 2003 ($11). Crikey, this smells like small furry animals--there's some real mousiness hovering over the dark blackberry-brambly fruit, along with a lightly spicy catskin streak (scratch a cat's back, stick your nose where you scratched, inhale). Tastes crisp, rather hard coiled-up Corbières, not quite what I'd have expected from an '03. There's some nice balance and firm composure, but even two days in the fridge doesn't help the mousiness, which is just too distracting. I'm puzzled at this showing, as I've enjoyed this wine in past years. Bad batch? [Buy again? Squeak!]

Domaine d'Aupilhac Coteaux du Languedoc Montpeyroux 2004 ($15). Medium-dark saturated garnet-purple color. Some nice aromatics, tarry-leathery red and blackfruit, touch of musky earthiness. Tastes a bit less interesting than it smells, loosely wrapped and fleshy, surprisingly light bodied given the deep color. Rather understructured, pillowy fruit is supported by rather wan acidity and some coarse but shy tannins. Nice enough, but it doesn't really grab me, despite seeming to have all the elements in place. I dunno, it comes off as mostly correct but rather innocuous, nothing really to object to, but not really thrilling either. [Buy again? I don't think so.]

Château Lastours Gaillac 2005 ($9). A tasty blend of syrah (30%), braucol (30%), merlot (20%) and cabernet sauvignon (20%). Shy aromatics, light redfruit with a touch of smoky-pork and tar. Medium acidity, loosely wrapped red and blackfruit, juicy and friendly and gentle-tasting. Maybe a bit clean and neutral, without the rustic edge I'd expected, but good balance and simple muted juiciness make it quite amiable. Could use a bit more mouthgrab, but it'll do in a pinch. [Buy again? Sure.]

Château Mondesir Montagne St. Emilion 2000 ($15). Gentle, ripe blackcurrant-blackberry aromatics, touch of oregano, touch of graphite. Watery and limp tasting, possible storage issues, there's a sort of pondwater quality mingling with the generic red-blackfruit that suggests something off kilter here. Anyway, fairly boring. [Buy again? Nah.]

Château le Bonnat Graves 2003 ($11). Ripe plum-cassis-tobacco aromatics, smells slightly reduced, with just a touch of Band-Aid brand bandage strip. Some one-note dusty-smoky redfruit, medium acidity and some really aggressive tannins. I go back and forth on this one--it's got that weird '03 overripe/overtannic/reduced thing going on, but there's good structure and a hint of complexity under the ripeness. [Buy again? Almost.]

Château Tour Prignac Médoc Cru Bourgeois 2005 ($13). Hmmm, smells like Bordeaux, cedar, tobacco and warm ripe cassis, touch of licorice, touch of tar, light oregano notes. On the ripe side, but flavorful and nicely balanced, with firm acidity at the core and some slightly rough tannins on the finish. I frankly didn't have high hopes for a $13 Médoc, but this is very decent baseline Bordeaux. I like the aromatics, which gain fullness with some aeration--there's a pleasant Pauillacishness here--it's not complex, but all the elements are in place. The label notes that this wine is produced in the largest one-piece vineyard in the Médoc (315 acres). I'm not sure whether that's relevant or not, but there's good value for your dollar here--if it's recognizable Bordeaux character you crave and your wallet's light, this is the wine for you. A pleasant surprise. [Buy again? Absolutely.]


Le Mire Sangiovese Toscana 2004 ($10). Medium-light garnet color. Smells lightly cherried, tastes lightly cherried--vague and light, with middling acidity. Not much substance, little heft or focus, then sandily tannic. Shrug. FAKE CORK! [Buy again? Nope.]

Sfida Primitivo (70%)-Negroamaro (30%) Puglia IGT 2006 ($9). Hey, it's zinfandel: black cherry mingled with black raspberry, ripe and juicy aromatics, dark fruit laced with a light tarry-licorice vein. Tastes friendly and jammy and fruit-forward, medium acidity, fleshy and ripe and loosely wrapped, but also relatively unmarred by overt oakiness or anything else weird. A simple juicy quaffer that does very well with a burger, simple and straightforward and kind of fun. [Buy again? Yuh.]

>Viticultori Caldaro Schiava Grigia Alto Adige 2004 ($10). Pale ruby color, very lightly colored. Light but mutifaceted aromatics--earth, sour cherry, balsa wood. A sip, and it's a light, taut wine, nervy and bright, with some lip-smacking sour cherry flavors underlain by foresty things that I can't quite put my finger on. Charming and bracing, with a rustic edge. I have no idea what this is, but I like it. Kinda d'Aunisey. FAKE CORK! [Buy again? Definitely.]

Cardeal Dão 2005 ($8). Shy aromas, light treebark-laced redfruit, brickdust and tar hints, very quiet. Tastes tart and rough-edged right up front, then turns rather quiet and soft. I like the flash of rusticity, but it doesn't follow through from the middle on. [Buy again? No.]


Winesmith Cellars Zinfandel California 'Cheapskate' 2003 ($9). Gentle black cherry Kool-Ade aromatics, touch of mucilage. Ripe and soft, a simple little concoction that carries the froot-punch metaphor a bit too far. Seems to have a touch of RS as well, just to put a bow on it. Watery middle, no finish, boring. [Buy again? Nope.]

Sobon Estate Zinfandel Amador County 'Hillside' 2006 ($8). Medium-light garnet, quite translucent. Bright black cherry & mineral notes, touch of cocoa powder, touch of Robitussin. Bright, tart and racy, a pre- or perhaps post-gob style of zin that's more food friendly than most of its competitors in the same price range. It's a simple little wine, but it has a pleasant tartness and some friendly-ripe raspberry-black cherry fruit. Simple, unassuming zinfandel with some nervy flavorosity. Refreshing, really. ORGANIC! SCREWCAP! [Buy again? Definitely.]

Benson Ferry Zinfandel Lodi 'Old Vines' 2005 ($10). Medium-dark purply-garnet color. Rich smoky-brambly raspberry-Robitussin aromatics with an interesting rooty-sasparilla note. Sweetly ripe and juicy, there's a hint of froot-punchiness here but that smoky-barky dark streak and some good concentration help ground the wine, keep it from drifting towards simplicity. It's not entirely cohesive, there's a bit of a roughness in the middle, but it's a likeable wine, not big or boisterous, not steroided, just kind of juicy and straightforward. WIth time a slight charry note emerges on the finish, but it's not a dealbreaker. [Buy again? Sure.]

Luis Agustin Cetto Petite Sirah Valle de Guadalupe (Mexico) 2004 ($10). Ripe and dark-smelling, plum-blackberry and menthol, licorice. Tastes a bit medicinal, blackberry Robitussin, medium-low acidity, sandpapery-tannic on the finish. Loose and rather vague despite the overt rusticity and plummy jamminess, kind of a mess. [Buy again? Nah.]

Francis Ford Coppola Presents Zinfandel/Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon (51/29/20) California 'Rosso' 2005 ($7). Smells quite woody, candy-oaky sawdust and French toast notes over some ripe black-cherry/raspberry fruit. Odd combination of loose, soft fruit and a hint of spiky acidity. I've found a past version or two of this wine to be borderline-decent cheap burger or BBQ wines, but this is disjointed, flabby and spiky and suffused with woodlike flavors. I actually sort of want to like it, as the Decent Cheap Burger Wine from California is rapidly going the way of the passenger pigeon, but it's not doing it for me tonight. [Buy again? No.]

Jewel Collection Red Table Wine Lodi 'Firma' (Barbera-Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah) 2004 ($10). Medium-dark purply-garnet color. Smells of baked plum, black cherry, tar and iodine, touch of smoky-meatiness. Tastes purple and fleshy, medium-low acidity, tangy in the middle but also kind of diffuse, chunky. Rather generic, ripe and smoky and nondescript, generic international red wine with airs. [Buy again? Nope.]

Wayward Pilgrims of the Vine Red Wine California 'Rocks & Gravel' 2004 ($15). Rich ripe aromatics, smoky red raspberry-plum, touch of leather, touch of iodine. Tastes rich and fleshy, a bit more plumpish than I remember previous versions being. Nice licoricey dark streak wells up in the middle to enervate the chewy redfruit. I like it, it's got a lot going on, but it's not a wine for Fassanistas; more of a fun, plump little wine with gentle complexity. [Buy again? Sure.]

Eberle Syrah Paso Robles Steinbeck Vineyard 2004 ($13). Medium-dark garnet color. Smells rather shy, peppery-spicy pomegranate-blackberry hints, gentle toastiness. A sip, and it's a bit burnt-tasting at first, sort of a truck-tire note surrounded by some fleshy blackfruit. But then EEK some shrill acidity knifes up into the middle of my tongue, leading into a tart, sour finish. Shaken, I go back for another sip, and it's the same thing--painful to drink, disjointed and fairly reeking of some kind of botched manipulation. I'm a bit flummoxed, as I've been rather fond of many of this producer's offerings over the years. But this needs to be taken out back and put out of its misery. I'd had this set up to go with some braised shortribs, but instead it's retired to the 'for cooking only' shelf in the fridge. Really, it's bad enough that I'm willing to entertain the idea that this is some kind of mishandled bottle or something. (Note: a day of air helped the wine come together a bit, but also brought out an overbearing toasty-oakiness. Punt.) FAKE CORK! [Buy again? No.]

Aradian Peak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2003 ($12). Smoky plum-cassis aromatics, touch of oregano, touch of cedar, gently candy-oaky. Medium bodied with medium-low acidity, a loosely wrapped wine with some pleasantly juicy flavors and a tiny bit of complexity. Gives a decent approximation of the pointy-pricey style of Napa cabernet sauvignon at a much lower price. Pretty decent, really. [Buy again? Sure.]

Black Box Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2005 ($15/3L). Crisp, well fruited but with a nice roughness around the edges, some slightly gritty tannins on the finish. Not much in the way of focus, but ripe and flavorful and tangy, unmarred by overt spoofiness or woodchipping, and although there's a light confective quality, it's counterbalanced by the aforementioned roughness. The middle's a bit diffuse, but this actually seems a notch above the friendly jugs from the Three Thieves crowd, at least their recent efforts. Decent party-BBQ wine. [Buy again? Sort of, kinda.]

Russell Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2005 ($13). Hmmm, Napa cabernet sauvingon for thirteen bucks? Hey, why not. Lessee... medium-dark garnet color, smells of smoky cassis, touch of cedar, touch of tar, hint of graphite and oregano, not effusively aromatic but all the pieces seem to be in place. A sip, and it's pretty decent, compact and focused and relatively unbent. Medium acidity, firm and cohesive, not a great deal of complexity but it's smoky-blackcurranty, rich-tasting and rather appealing. Some fine drying tannins well up on the finish. Pretty decent, the kind of reasonably priced straightforward California cabernet sauvingon I thought had long since disappeared from the market. [Buy again? Surely.]


Solario Pinot Noir Central Valley (Chile) Reserve 2005 ($8). Medium-light garnet color, translucent. Gentle plum-cherry-clove aromatics, underlain with a shy barky-earthiness. Smells slightly plasticized, sort of a fruit roll-up kind of edge to the aromas. Tastes light and soft, with a medicinal-iodine streak that lingers on the finish after the fruit has faded. Not actively unpleasant or anything, just kind of strange tasting. [Buy again? No.]

Coľo Sur Pinot Noir Valle Central (Chile) 2007 ($10). Gentle clovey-cherrypit smellies, simple but pleasant. Tastes light and breezy, with a cerain overtartness in the middle, simple decent pinot noir that's got that industrial sheen to it but has a certain Cherry Coke¬ charm nonetheless. SCREWCAP! [Buy again? It's a borderline call, but yes, I think so.]

A.F. Arco Iris Pinot Noir Rapel Valley (Chile) Single Vineyard 'Anakena' 2007 ($13). Medium-translucent red. Smells lightly spicy, cherry-strawberry juice dusted with clove and a light toastiness. Soft, rather ethereal tasting, lowish acidity but light in body. There's definitely a sense of inconsequentiality, but also a kind of puppyish friendliness--the complete lack of focus and heft and any of the other hallmarks of 'serious' wine gives the impression of drinking something your neighbor made in his garage--it seems straightforward and grape-juicy and has enough pinot noir character to make drinking it an uncomplicated pleasure. Vague, soothing little wine that I like more than I think I should. [Buy again? Yes.]

Bodegas la Guarda Syrah San Juan (Argentina) 'El Guardado' 2005 ($12). Medium dark purply-garnet color. Smells smoky-blackberried, with black raspberry mingling in the mix, along with a dose of toasty-vanilla woodiness. A sip, and it's both fleshy and grabby in the piehole, medium acidity, some happily coarse chewy fleshiness mixed with aggressive tannins and smoky undertones. No real finish, but a decent package of ripe middleweight syrah, ripe but with enough rough texture to provide good structure. Actually quite yummy, if perhaps a touch anonymous and overwooded, does a good impersonation of an overpriced boutique syrah from California. [Buy again? Yeah, I think so.]

Agricola Paidahuen San Esteban Cabernet Sauvignon (80%)/Merlot (20%) Aconcagua Valley (Chile) 'Stony Hollow' 2006 ($8). Odd aromatics, generic redfruit mingling with a kind of scorched-milk lactic note and a kind of stony-nettley funkiness. It isn't quite as unpleasant as it sounds, as those off notes are kinda subtle and flickery, but something's not quite right here. Medium-low acidity, gentle fleshy mouthfeel, watery and vague. They have the hollow part right, at least, although it's not terribly stony. [Buy again? Not really.]

Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Rapel Valley '120' 2006 ($12). Smoky wood-infused cassis-blackberry-vanilla notes, touch of bell pepper, hint of graphite minerality. Compact structure with a good tangy flavor, in the mold of a solidly made factory California cabernet like Beringer or something along those lines, except those wines don't usually allow a hint of greenness, so it's kinda likeable in that way. Still, pretty boring. [Buy again? Nah.]


Saint Clair Pinot Noir Marlborough 2005 ($11). Bright, clean-smelling wine, cherry pit and clove aromatics. Tastes like it smells--bright, clean and crisp, lightbodied and cherry-pitty. A light, simple wine, its duotonal flavors are fresh and straightforward but don't offer much complexity. Still, it's very decent pinot noir for eleven bucks. Some gritty tannins on the finish are a snag, but a minor one. Nicely composed little wine, cheerful. [Buy again? Sure.]

Nine Stones Shiraz Barossa 2003 ($10). Medium dark purply-garnet color. Smells Shirazocious!¬--big purplefruit, pomegranate-blackberry and shoe polish-tar dark notes. A sip, and it's ripe and purple and medium-squishy in the middle, just a hint of corpulence. Big fruity beginning falls apart after a second or two, finishing disjointed and astringent. Maybe five or six stones would've been enough? [Buy again? Nope.]

Kronendal Shiraz South Africa 2006 ($10). Ripe blackberry-plum aromatics, touch of shoe polish, very light hint o'menthol. Tastes juicy-ripe and squishy, big and darkly purplefruity and broad-beamed. I'd expected something a little leaner and more elegant, this is firmly in the more-is-better jammy Aussie camp. Not much individuality here, although there's lots of ripeness and jammy flavorosity. SCREWCAP! [Buy again? I don't think so.]

Penfolds Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon South Eastern Australia 'Koonunga Hill' 2006 ($9). I think the last time I had this was about ten years ago, when I recall it as being fairly innocuous and industrial but competent. In the intervening years the competence seems to have gone by the wayside. Spiritous, disjointed, with intrusive Liquid Smoke¬ wood flavors infusing the loose plum-cassis flavor profile. Just seems concocted, a potion. FAKE CORK! [Buy again? Nah.]

Jacob's Creek Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia Reserve 2004 ($11). "Reserve..." hum, I used to see that word a lot, what did it used to mean? Ohhhhh, right, deep saturated purple color, whacking sawdusty aromatics, just like old times! Nice dilly note, too, just for good measure. So really, this does a fine impersonation of wines that sell for $200 per bottle these days, except it doesn't quite have the weight and density of motor oil. In fact, it's medium bodied and rather watery in the middle, with some spiky-poky acidity superimposed over loose redfruit. Not much to like here, except the mimicry. [Buy again? No.]


Domaine Hatzimichalis Red Dry Regional Wine of Atalante Valley 'Fresco Nouveau' 2007 ($7). Kinda grapey-jellyberry ripe smelling, froot loops and tar, with an odd leathery-spearmint note suffused throughout. Rather weightier and heavier than I'd expect from something styling itself 'nouveau.' Simple and grapey until a distractingly astringent abbreviated finish sours itself on my tongue, bringing squinchyface to my visage. Not bad two-thirds of the way, it had me right up until that unpleasant ending. BLUE BOTTLE! FAKE PURPLE CORK! [Buy again? No.]


Osborne Porto Late Bottled Vintage 2000 ($12). Sweet and simply red-cocoaberried, but relatively flavorful in a tritonal kind of way. Could use a bit more structure, a bit less sugar, but you could do worse spending twelve bucks on port. [Buy again? Yup.]

Offley Porto Late Bottled Vintage 2000 ($15). Corked.

Real Companhia Velha Tawny Porto Aged Ten Years 'Royal Oporto' NV ($12/.375). Medium-translucent amber-brown color. Velvety caramel-raisin-date brown smellies, touch of orange rind, toasted vanilla bean. Just a bit sweeter than medium-sweet, it's tart and bright and pretty tasty, with a mouthfeel that's on the glossy side. There's a hint of bitterness on the finish, an unresolved astringency, but it's more of a distraction than a dealbreaker. Frankly, it's got some complexity and some character and despite a bit of not-quite-cohesiveness you could do worse for the dime. [Buy again? Yes, I think so.]

That's all for now, kiddies See you next time the opiates kick in!

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