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The Weekly Dozen - Heavy Hitters

This week, we’re going all in with just red wines and some recent-release whiskies, heavy hitters in their content and with their price tags. This is serious drinking for serious drinkers. So it you love big California reds, big Tuscan reds and emerging but big Bourbons, get out your credit cards.

2016 Il Borro “Pian di Nova” Toscano Rosso IGT ($26). Good combination of Syrah fruit and Sangiovese structure – opulent at the start and raspy at the finish. Let it open up a bit before drinking.

2015 Capezzana “Villa di Capezzana” Carmignano ($29). Two quick notes: First, remember that the Carmignano region of Tuscany has always been about blending Bordeaux varieties with native Sangiovese, long before Super Tuscans; second, this and the other two Capezzannas reviewed have lots of red fruits. However, this one also has some purple fruits as well and is perhaps under-valued for what it delivers – creamy fruit and smooth tannins.

2013 Capezzana “Trefiano” Carmignano Riserva ($51). Rounded red fruit, very granular in texture and surprisingly fresh for its age.

2012 Capezzana “Ghiaie della Furba” Rosso di Toscano IGT ($52). While enjoyable, the red fruit here may just be a tad too fleshy in spite of the fresh wood notes. Should be decanted. Will it improve with age? Good question.

2015 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($65). One of the standards which makes Cabernets so dominant at fine restaurants – good fruit, but it’s the rounded barrel notes and its linear leanness that make it go so well with red meats.

2016 Cliff Lede Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon ($74). What a Napa Cab can be – very Bordeaux-like with lovely cassis and blackberry fruit, but also with balancing savory notes and a lean finish.

2016 Pahlmeyer Napa Valley Merlot ($90). Very elegant, though substantial, fruit-forward Merlot, very smooth, very easy to drink with its integrated tannins.

Bulleit “95 Rye” Straight American Rye Whiskey ($30). At 46% ABV. Ninety-five per cent rye mash aged for 12 years. Very smooth with lots of caramel notes, some brulée and touches of savory vegetal in the finish.

Bardstown Bourbon Company “Fusion Series” Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  ($60). At 49.45% ABV. A blend of 2-year-plus and 11-year-plus whiskies, it is a very smooth, enticing blend of dusty grain notes and vanilla oak. In limited release.

Crown Royal “Royal Collection” French Oak Cask Finished Whiskey ($65). At 40% ABV. A very broad taste across the palate with flavors of spicy oak, cracked grains and a warm, custardy finish.

Bardstown Bourbon Company “Phifer Pavitt Reserve” Straight Bourbon ($125). At 49.45% ABV. Nine-year-old Tennessee whiskey (corn, rye, malted barley) finished in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon barrels– sweet and fruity on the palate but with a sturdy oak finish.  Bourbon aged in Cabernet barrels is always preferable to Cabernet aged in Bourbon barrels. In limited release.

Bardstown Bourbon Company “Discovery Series” Kentucky Straight Bourbon ($130). At 60.605% ABV. A 75% 11-year-old Bourbon blended with younger whiskies, it’s warm and generous up front with lots of vanilla, but also with a big, salty bite at the end. Perfect with a splash of water and a cigar. June release.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com.

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