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It seems each time I get around to doing some reviews it’s about ‘catching up!’ Today is not different with a few really good bottles I’ve enjoyed in recent weeks.

Let’s start with my recent “wine kick” – Syrah and an old favorite.

T-vineT-Vine 2007 Napa Valley Syrah – Winter is a great time for stews and beef dishes. Syrah is a great pairing with most of those dishes. Loved the huge nose on this wine and the taste of blackberry, all the dark fruits and good spice. Some serious wine drinkers would call the wine jammy but the mouth feel was not quite that heavy for me.

It’s a big wine with 14.6 percent alcohol but I liked the balance and smooth spicy finish.

The other odd thing about this was an extraordinary amount of sediment. I use a Vinturi aerator with a filter so it wasn’t a problem in the glass — but a large amount was left in the bottle!

T-Vine 2007 Napa Valley Syrah, retails at $40-$50, Highly Recommended.

Klinker BrickKlinker Brick 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel – This old Lodi friend seldom disappoints. The Zin has the kind of spicy or peppery finish you’d expect from Zinfandel along with nice dark red fruit – think cherries.

I remember more pronounced fruit from previous vintages but still such a solid choice. My only criticism is this wine is really hot – that’s 15.8 percent alcohol hot!

It’s a consistent winner though from year to year and a great house Zin.

Klinker Brick 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel, $15 in most stores, Recommended.

GreyGrey 2011 Carménère – The Vina Vintisquero Grey Maipo Valley Carménère was simply one of the best I’ve ever tasted.

Blueberries, blackberries, smoke and spice make this a seductive glass of wine. Gone is the green vegetal taste of way too many inexpensive Chilean wines! It spends 18 months in new oak and is the kind of big wine that pairs really well with big food. It’s a reasonable 14 percent alcohol.

The wine has long finish and will have you re-thinking Carménère. It drinks above its less than $20 price point! I couldn’t have been more impressed!

Vina Vintisquero Grey Carménère, $18.99, Trade Sample, Very Highly Recommended.

reserve-grand-veneur-blanc-domaine-grand-veneurAlain Jaume & Fils 2012 Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone Blanc – The wine is your typical French Southern Rhone white blend. But what does that mean?

These inexpensive white Rhones are always very drinkable if not equally unremarkable. But that’s not always a bad thing. If you want a nice, soft French white for dinner or as a sipper you can’t go wrong with a well-made wine in the low teens. Most of the Rhone whites fall into that description.

“Rhone blend” usually includes some varying amounts of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne, Viognier, Bourboulenc, and Picpou.

Alain Jaume & Fils 2012 Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone Blanc, $13.99, Recommended.