Longrow Red 13yo “Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon” (51.6%, OB, 10 years Bourbon Barrels & Refill Sherry Hogsheads, 3 years Cabernet Sauvignon Barrels, 9.000 bottles, 2020, 20/08)

Of all the Longrow Red’s that have been bottled, most follow some sort of recipe: first a long maturation in Bourbon casks, followed by a shorter term finish in casks that previously held a Red Wine. Only two deviate from this recipe: 2014’s Fresh Port, which had a full 11 years maturation in Port casks, the other one this 2020’s Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, where part of the initial maturation was carried out in Sherry casks. By the way, the Wine casks for this edition were sourced from Mont Gras’ Intriga Estate in Alto Maipo, Chile.

As mentioned in the introduction of the previous review for the 2019 Pinot Noir edition of Red, when I tasted this Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 edition, I really liked it, so I got half a bottle. Still not sure ‘eh Quill? Probably not. One simply doesn’t put an open bottle in storage, nope, open bottles belong on the lectern here in Master Quill’s castle, and should be enjoyed right away. When tasting through this half bottle, especially when it was still half full, the smell and taste had some great funky organic peat going on, which I really liked, so I even went further and finally bought myself a full bottle, and put it directly in storage, because there is no room for closed bottles on said lectern. Lectern’s aren’t all that big, you know. Nope, there is no need to have the same whisky open twice one right after the other. This shared bottle is now almost empty, usually the moment the distillate of the Springbank distillery is at its best, so time to write up this review…

Color: Bright orange gold. Radiant with a pink hue.

Nose: Warm and creamy peat and dusty. In a way, hints of Wine, but not so much a Cabernet Sauvignon (a Red Wine), but at times more like a fragrant Alsatian White Wine with a little bit of added bonfire smoke for good measure. Definitely more Winey than the 2019 Pinot Noir edition. On top, hints of citrus combined with some funky organics with hints of bad breath. Not actually sweet, but sweeter than the Pinot Noir. Some recognizable notes of Oloroso Sherry, as can be found in several Hazelburn offerings. Wood, pencil shavings, paper and peat with hints freshly crushed green grapes, acidic, as in not very ripe grapes. Aromatic, farmy and perfumy (vetiver?). Soft and fruity, (little forest strawberries?), peat and some sweet and soft smoke. Bonfire smoke again. It starts with fatty and creamy peat, but before you know it, the smoke quietly displaces the peat. Wee hints of vanilla. This vanilla bit seems to be integrated with the fruity notes, like a custard with fruit syrup poured over it. Creamy. Not hard to smell this is a Wine finish though, and once you smell it, it can’t be un-smelled. Toasted Wine infused oak and some more pencil shavings. Faint smell of unlit Cuban cigar. Soft fresh wood and in part resembling the cigar box itself. Sweet funky organic note emerges next, this overall funkiness works wonders in this Malt. Nutty with raisins and next, the smell of an old bar of soap, this particular smell from an old ladies closet. Winey and perfumy. Hints on incense, cold air at night, maybe with a wee puff of smoke, integrated with the air, from an odd fireplace. Now some fragrant and perfumy fresh oak. Definitely some fresh sawn oak, although it doesn’t remind me of virgin oak Whiskies. Red ripe fruits hovering above all the other aroma’s, and a slight hint of yellow fruits well in the body of this Malt. This fruit takes a while to show itself. At times, it smells a wee bit to sweet, if you ask me, but this is only a minor gripe. Nicely balanced and smells accessible. Quite complex and the wood works wonders in this one. The Pinot Noir is the more likeable nose, but this Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely more complex.

Taste: Diluted red fruit syrup, again somewhat sweeter than the Pinot Noir was. Red Wine right from the start, which is easy to spot, when you’ve had Deanston’s Bordeaux offering earlier. Peat and toasted oak only come next, with a short smoky sting from peat and smoke, all very upfront. Almonds, semolina pudding with red berry sauce. Coarse rural toffee. I don’t even know if it exists, but the sweetness tastes like rough and crumbly toffee, not the smooth and runny kind we all know. More aroma’s of (new) wood. Sweet underneath, but with smoke and to a lesser extent peat on top, this is balanced out a bit. Some tar and smoke and some rubber even. Macaroons, After the sweetness and the prickly and smoky bits a more dryer note comes forward, as well as some virgin oak bitterness, almost sappy, savvy? Clay. Without the peat this would be suitable for almost every Whisky drinker, like the aforementioned Deanston, but luckily this has peat and smoke, making it different and for some, more exciting.

In most cases the distillates of Springbank distillery, only get better over time. Gaining in balance and overall taste and smell. we say it has to breathe and needs some time to reach it’s full potential. Here this is not really the case. This is one of those rare “Springbanks” that lose a bit of balance towards the end. The top probably lies around the half full bottle mark, but after that it goes downhill a bit, it doesn’t get bad, but its “deterioration” is noticeable, it loses a bit. In the end this is still a good Whisky, and sometimes it happens that a Whisky somewhat oxidizes, that in itself is no fault. Personally I need to find out if the (Red) Wine finishing is something for me. Still, this one is good, and the Deanston I reviewed last was good as well. Maybe it’s growing on me?

Points: 87

Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block 2012 Franschhoek South Africa

Already a lot of Whiskies are covered this year, so why not divert to a nice Wine again. There is a lot around to enjoy! Today we’ll be looking at a nice blend from South Africa, but first, an introduction:

The winery was founded by Hugenot settlers in 1776. A group of wine-enthousiasts bought the farm in 1993 and major development took place since 1996. Boekenhoutskloof today has around 20 hectares of vines. 75% are red grape varieties (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot), and thus 25% are whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier). Boekenhoutskloof is farming organically and has plans for bio-dynamic wine making. The winery produces around 3 million bottles per year of which 95% is branded as Porcupine Ridge and Wolftrap, the other 5% are marketed as Boekenhoutskloof and Chocolate Block. Chocolate Block we’ll be looking at is made with 70% Syrah, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Grenache, 6% Cinsault and 1% Viognier. The Syrah grape variety is grown in Malmesbury where it has deep-rooted vines and gives a lot of color, flavor and tannins. Grenache is grown in Citrusdal which has a sandy terroir, excellent for Grenache. Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier are grown in Boekenhoutskloof and Cinsault is grown on granite soils in Wellington. So quite a complex blend.

The Chocolate Block 2012Franschhoek Valley is a broad valley in the south-east corner of Paarl, Western Cape. Franschhoek is warm and produces robust red wines (and fruity whites). The surrounding mountains (Wemmershoek to the north and Groot Drakenstein & Franschhoek to the south) cast shadows which help reducing the temperature and hours of sun the grapes get. They also reduce the influence from the sea. On the other hand, the mountains also hold the cooler winds from the south. Terroir is alluvial sandstone (doesn’t hold water well) and in the north some granite (in the mountains). On the hillsides there is some clay to be found.

Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Spicy, sweet red fruits, very nice and very appetizing. Fat (sweet) fruit notes, like plums, apple skins with a hint of Tobacco, but also fruity strawberries. Lots of creamy vanilla. Excellent warming nose.

Taste: Dark fruits, although none of them leap out my glass specifically, slightly unripe strawberries and some red berries maybe. A sort of “total” taste. A mild and very nice acidity that transforms into the oaky bitterness that is in the finish. Spicy wood, and no shortage of soft tannins. Next a hint of licorice. Hint of oaky bitterness in the finish.

Definitely a Syrah, although the Cabernet Sauvignon is detectable too. Excellent stuff. The wine has an ABV of 14.5%. The bottle was from Lot No. L13/252 and this vintage yielded 1735 barrels.

Points: 87

Gabbiano Solatio Toscana IGT 2011

The surroundings of Tuscany in Italy are breathtaking, and I know that people who live there should be inspired too. I expect wine makers in Tuscany must be especially inspired since they make wine from the fruits of this land. This is the fourth bottle from this region, amongst others with two decent reds, but up ’till now, not a real stunner yet. I now got a bottle from a real wine specialist so I have high hopes for this Gabbiano Solatio from 2011 (Picture shows the 2010 vintage). I like the label, the orange color really stands out on the shelves and the knight and the sun, really look appealing, The wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Sangiovese. Not a lot of Sangiovese for a Tuscan blend, and compared to others no Merlot. That leaves more room for the character grapes of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. I guess we may be on to something…

Gabbiano Solatio Toscana IGT 2011Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Smells spicy and most definitely of Syrah and a bit less of Cabernet Sauvignon, no sense in mentioning the Sangiovese. Although Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon can be pretty full-bodied, this blend smells fresh and lively. Sweet jam of red fruits, and the slightest hint of fresh acidity, yes all that on the nose. It leaps out at you from the glass. Very appealing, and appetizing fruity Wine. Strawberries and cherries, ain’t that lovely! Great balance. The nose alone is way better than the previous contenders!

Taste: Not heavy, but with a fair amount of body and soft tannins. Some slight wood influence matches the tannins. Not as heavy on the sweet fruits as the nose suggested, but very appealing never the less. I did suit our dinner fine, grilled chicken with rice and a creamy tomato sauce. It would have been less complementary to it, if it would have been much sweeter.

Just like the other Tuscan Red Wines I review earlier, this is an entry-level wine. Nothing very fancy, but even with pizza and pasta I’d like to drink something I really like without breaking the bank. A great Tuscan with easy drinkability and easy food pairing qualities, and in the first 24 hours after opening, very suitable for drinking by itself. Good one. Recommended!

Points: 85

Short Stories: Chateau de Mendis Premiéres Côtes de Bordeaux 2003

Hey another short story. So no introduction, no research (or nothing to research), just a short (tasting) note about something (in most cases, a wine I had with dinner), so without further ado…

Chateau de Mendis 2003Color: Extremely dark ruby-red

Nose: Nicely spicy and warming. Oozes hot earth. Spicy and somewhat woody. Nose is nicely balanced. Again lots of earth, dusty, meaty and with deep red fruits, mainly cherries. Very pleasant nose. I don’t know why, but smelling this, I have a craving for Pizza.

Taste: The mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I expected from the nose. It still is warming and has quite the body. Fruity again with some added acidity (but not much). This most definitely is a wine that needs to breathe. It was aged for quite a bit and has developed well. I imagine this wine wasn’t made for keeping. The soft tannins are there, on the tongue, but not as much in the taste. Again a bit meaty, but in no way unforgiving. Will do well with most foods. Meat and cheese and anything in between.

Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, but blended with a little bit of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. 12.5% ABV.

Points: 84

Villa Antinori Toscana IGT 2007

The history of the Antinori family dates af far back as the 12th Century, when Rinuccio di Antinoro produces wine at the Castello di Combiate near Croci di Calenzano, outside of Florence. The particular wine I’m reviewing today, Villa Antinori, was first made in 1928 and at that time it was a Chianti, but a Chianti that could be further aged. Much later, in 2001, Piero Antinori, reworked this wine into a Tuscan IGT. The wine itself is a Super Tuscan blend: with 5% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and of course 55% Sangiovese. After the malolactic fermentation the wine was aged in French, Hungarian, and American oak barrels for one year. ABV is 13.5%.

Villa Antinori Toscana IGT 2007Color: Dark ruby-red

Nose: Spicy and fresh, seems young although it does have some ageing under its belt. Some warm very aromatic Tuscan soil, nice! It has its roots firmly in the ground. Warm summer wind late in the evening. Nice red fruits, cherries, blueberries and slightly herbal with a little bit of wood to give it some more character. Nicely balanced wine. Lovely wine with sometimes some whiffs of field flowers.

Taste: Very supple and extremely easily drinkable and delicious. Again some terroir, but not as much as the nose had. Well integrated blend, everything seems to fall in place. Nice depth. Not very tannic, though there is some drying sensation on the tongue and it’s only slightly acidic, but the acidity increases after some more breathing. Breathing also gives the wine something of a bite, bitterness that is, from the wood. The finish is all right and half-long.

This first accompanied food and when that became to spicy, it easily overpowered this wine. The wine itself seems quite light at first, but it did pick up after more breathing. Recommended drinking window for this wine is said untill 2014, so if you have this lying around it’s now probably at it’s best, but I feel still can handle another couple of years…

Points: 83

Santa Cristina Toscana IGT 2009

This is a widely available inexpensive blended wine from Cortona (an Etruscan settlement) in Tuscany, Italy. The first bottle of Santa Cristina saw the light of day in 1946 right after the second world war. The wine then was made by Marquis Niccolò Antinori. In 2006 a new winery was opened.

The wine is made of 60% Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. 13% ABV. The various grape varieties of the blend are fermented separately and aged partly in oak and partly in stainless steel. Harvesting of the grapes takes place in September and October, Merlot being harvested first. Ageing takes place from the end of winter through spring and by the end of spring the wine was bottled.

Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Creamy, with notes of hot dry earth. Soft notes of raspberries and other ripe red fruits. Ripe because it comes across as soft, and doesn’t have a lot of sourness to it. Lots of strawberry jam.

Taste: Again the strawberry jam and it does have some acidity. Nicely blended to a balance. It’s quite light and lively, but on the other hand nothing really pops out, and it does have a short finish. As I said, easily drinkable, but also easily forgotten. Still I like this, just don’t expect too much. Nicely priced also.

It’s blended to a soft wine, that is very easy drinkable, and will go with anything. Just stay off game. The nose is light and balanced, but very nice, you can imagine the surroundings in summer, where the grapes are grown. It certainly shows where it comes from. The taste however is a bit more anonymous. It’s well made, and it will not repel anyone, as there are no obvious faults. The only thing that disappointed me a little was the finish, it breaks down a little, and is quite short and again anonymous. One to have a lot of fun though and it isn’t going to break the bank. good with food and for carelessly sipping away on the couch.

Points: 80

Château Les Tresquots Médoc 2003

Very typical Bordeaux blend. This one comprises of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The ABV is 13.5%. The grapes were harvested by hand and the wine was put on oak casks for one year.  The grapes that grow on vines are 30 to 40 years old. grow in the heart of the Médoc region near Bégadan, where the D3 crosses the D103 (for those who were there). Saint Estèphe is just up river.

For what I read, people weren’t too happy about this one when is was younger, so it was no problem to let this lie for a couple of years. I left it for almost 10 years, but now it was time to have a look how it is doing.

2003 was a very special year for the region. The 2002 harvest was very dry and the winter that followed was cool and wet. In march it was already warm (and dry) so growth started early. The following period stayed dry which means low yields. The summer, well, heat wave! So in June, July and August, the grapes got roasted.

Color: Very dark, with deep sparkling red. Almost doesn’t let light through.

Nose: It might be heavy, according to the text above, but for me this is quite lively. Grape skin, hot earth, dry but with a lot of depth. Elderberries with some acidity. Yeast and a little hint of sterile wood. Altogether very balanced. I might be biased by now, but this oozes hot weather.

Taste: Deep, this has some tannins. Thick grape skins and plums. Lots of ripe cherries. Not the red ones but the sweetish black ones. It’s not bitter nor woody, but it does dry the mouth quite a bit. The fun is to be had taking big gulps and the effect this has on the palate. Finish is quite short and a bit anonymous. This is very much recommended with food (meat).

In the end not very complex, but with a lovely nose. And I like the shift toward the black cherries. Especially the taste is ‘simple’ but it doesn’t overpower you, nor does it have any other flaws, apart from the tannins that dry your mouth extensively. Considering early report about this wine, I can say that ageing this is a good idea.

Points: 81

Langa Calatayud Rosado (Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon) 2009

Bodega Hermanos Langa was founded in 1867 by Mariano Langa Gallego, and is located near the city of Calatayud in Aragón, Spain. Best known city in Aragón is Zaragoza. Today the fifth generation is at the helm of the company. Combining knowledge with respect for nature is the recipe for making good wines. The Bodega works 100% ecological. The region where the grapes grow is known as “Los Yermos”. The grapes grow on extremely dry soil that lies 600 metres above sea-level.

Langa Rosado 2009This is the Rosé wine Langa makes. This 2009 is made of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The newer versions are made with Merlot rather than Syrah.

Color: Ruby red rosé.

Nose: Slightly acidic and fruity, very fresh ánd warming. Lots of red fruits. Sweet raspberry, but also meaty. Not your regular extra-easy Rosé. It seems as a Rosé with character. A little hint of vanilla and wood. Nicely balanced and it smells like something you’ll drink in a few minutes (and want another bottle).

Taste: Nice. Just the right combination of sweet and sour. Again some vanilla. It’s creamy and it tastes like vanilla to me, not much, just a hint. A lot of red fruits again and very easy drinkable.

I know people think of Rosé’s to be the perfect summer wine. This is precisely that, bu in the middle of winter with typical italian food, this Rosé is perfect too. Not to complex, as the food, but a very good companion. It’s also very nice and easy when you drink this by itself, not to mention it’s quite cheap too. That’s a bg plus today with spanish wines. Now the Syrah got replaced by Merlot, I’m keen to try that one to. I hope they did that to improve the wine. Well I already like this one, so the Merlot version should be great. Recommended!

Points: 81

Chateau Saint-Paul 2005 Haut-Médoc

I used to drink a lot of reds and for the last six years or so I love to drink a lot of whites. Alsace was probably what set that off. But as you might have guessed, being the frequent reader you are, I drink foremost Scottish Single Malts nowadays. But it’s not all Scotch that lights our world, so I’ll definitely have to try some different things here too. This time the first red wine on Master Quill.

Haut-Médoc is the large southern part of the Médoc district of Bordeaux in the south-west of France. The famous wines from this region are Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estephe and Saint-Julien. You might have heard of those.

The wine of choice for today is Chateau Saint-Paul of the 2005 vintage. Saint-Paul is a Cru Bourgeois from the Haut-Médoc (St. Seurin de Cadourne). 2005 was a good year for Haut-Médoc, as it was for the whole of the Bordeaux region. The soil is mostly gravel, chalk and clay. The wine is made of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. ABV is 13%.

Color: Ruby red.

Nose: Meaty and sour. Red and dark fruits, berries, black currants and blackberries. Plums maybe? Dust and moist dirt. Floral. In fact it tasted quite thick and sweet (raisins), which it probably is not, still it reminds me a bit of sniffing a ruby port.

Taste: It has depth and is a little sour and powdery. Definitely some wood in here too. Wet leaves, but not earthy. Elderberries, but not bitter. Good tannins which do not take over the wine, still you’ll know from your tongue. It isn’t overly complex, but is has good balance and is a very nice wine to drink. Medium body and medium to long finish.

This one is at it’s best decanted for an hour or so, maybe two. When I tasted this from the just opened bottle, it was quite closed, but a few hours later it showed a lot more. So age this maybe a little longer, decant it properly, then this will be at it’s best.

Points: 85