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1) Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre Rouge 2013: $23.99 Usually $28 With pure, bright Pinot fruit, the silkiness in the mouth makes this wine seem downright sexy. Some of our red Burgundies just got a bit jealous. It will be an excellent companion for red meats, game and cheese. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks preserves all its flavors. It is aged one year in oak barrels. Its lightness and red fruit flavors are remarkable.
2) Domaine Lucien Boillot & Fils Bourgogne Rouge 2014: $35.99 Here’s another rare blend of a different kind: Pinot fruit from around the village of Gevrey-Chambertin in the Côte de Nuits, and some from around Volnay in the Côte de Beaune. The lush fruit and structure from Gevrey and the floral, soft touch of Volnay combine as a wonderful homage to Boillot ancestors and Burgundy at large. –Chris Santini
3) Eric Chevalier Chardonnay 2014, Val de Loire: $17.79 If you have never had a wine from Eric Chevalier, now is your chance before he is discovered and prices explode! Eric took over his fathers domaine and is now producing some of the most exciting wines in the Loire. A “hands-off” approach in the winery combined with austere chalk soils create an un-oaked chardonnay with unrivaled minerality and verve!
4) Loimer Langenlois Riesling, 2015, Kamptal: $22.99 Wine Enthusiast 91 pts. The nose reveals nothing but the slightest creaminess. The palate adds lovely greenish notes of lime and mandarin that pervade every last corner of the mouth with their insistent lively freshness. A lovely brisk little number that is sure to wow lovers of clean Riesling.
5) Chateau de Fontenille Entre deux Mers Bordeaux Blanc 2016: $12.79Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscadelle, Sauvignon Gris. A regular Decanter award winner, Stéphane Defraine`s Entre-Deux-Mers leads the way in showing how good this wine can be when made with loving care and attention to detail. A highly unusual blend of 40:20:20:20 of the above grapes, this is most definitely not your usual supermarket Entre Deux Mers . The Sauvignon Blanc provides the nerve and acidity, the Semillon the body with Muscadelle giving the lovely aromatic flavors and Sauvignon Gris adding elegance. This cepage is very unusual as most Bordeaux winemakers have given up trying to grow Muscadelle and rarely use Sauvignon Gris. A lovely light gold color, fresh and fruity with light acidity. The citrus and peach flavors come storming through to give a wine perfect with fish but also very drinkable on its own. Amazing value and a wine for all seasons. Drink now — 2020
6) Nicole Chanrion Domaine de la Voute des Crozes Cote de Brouilly 2016: $23.79 Chanrion’s gorgeous cuvée is from a blend of five large old foudres housed in her earthen cellar…It shows a brilliant dark garnet hue and sports an aroma of fresh strawberries with a touch of cinnamon. On the palate it is rich, spicy, perfumed, and fine, loaded with red and black berry fruit, and it doesn’t disappoint on the long elegant finish.
7) Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge 2016: $58.99 The gold standard and original Bandol Rouge that established the appellation as a world class wine growing region. A typical blend of 75% Mourvedre, 14% Grenache, 9% Cinsault, and 2 % Carignan from vines with an average age of 40 years old, this is a deeply flavored and textured bottle of wine with luscious red fruit flavors and lovely earthy minerality. With Lucien’s hard work and dedication to prove Mourvedre to be the great grape it is known to be today, Domaine Tempier went on to become one of France’s, if not the world’s, great wine estates revered especially for its iconic Rose and this elegant, age-worthy red.
These next 2 are first come, first serve:
8) Sea Smoke Ten Pinot Noir 2016, Santa Rita Hills: $100 A brooding and intense wine. The aromas begin with notes of dried flowers and blueberries, then a myriad of spices, cacao and a hint of lavender. Firm, mature tannins—evidence of Ten’s ageeability—are followed by a long, velvety finish. Ten Clones, from which the wine takes its name.
9) Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir 2016: $79.99 Each year, our goal for Southing is to create the ideal marriage of complexity and elegance. The ever-changing nose of the 2016 Southing exhibits boysenberry, dried cherry, savory spices and fresh plum. The fine tannins and minerality are enhanced by our estate vineyard’s characteristic cool climate acidity.
10) Trinchero Haystack Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Atlas Peak: $58 (Suggested retail: $70) WE 90 pts. Cellar Selection. Black and thick, a study in smoky oak and tar, this intense vineyard-designated Cabernet will behave better over time. Brawny tannins surround substantial layers of blackberry and coffee, the feel on the palate weighty and voluptuous. Cellar through 2026.
11) Digression Rose 2017, Provence: $27.99 This is a new range of very smartly packaged and mostly keen-priced wines from Napa’s own flamboyant, gregarious and incredibly astute Burgundian-born proprietor, Jean-Charles Boisset. Linked to a recently purchased St. Helena estate and boldly renovated manor house, these wines are something more of an experience than straightforward grog…The bottles are stylish and the wines are superbly crafted at each price level, focusing on unique and very clever blends that are, somewhat in contrast to the packaging, wonderfully understated, savory and mineral in style. Perhaps against your better judgement, you’re going to fall in love with these wines. – Lisa Perrotti-Brown, 233, The Wine Advocate
12) Colli Tortonesi Terre di Libarna Timorasso “Caespes” 2015: $25.99 Intense mineral scent with hints of citrus and spice, with a savory, full-bodied, structured and persistent taste, with a good acidity. Timorasso is native to the Colli Tortonesi region of southeast Piedmont. Here it is produced as a varietal wine and must constitute at least 85 percent of the labeled wine, the balance being made up of Moscato Biancoand Favorita (Vermentino). The variety has thick skins that protect the grape against both disease and weather. It is definitely the white wine of Italy of the moment! And really with lots of wine geeks!
13) Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Gran Reserva White 1996: $130 Vinous 93 pts. Bright yellow-gold. Dried pear, peach pit, vanilla, marzipan and toasted brioche on the deeply perfumed, expansive nose. Chewy, densely packed and focused, offering bitter pear skin, hazelnut and anise flavors and a refreshingly bitter hint of lemon pith. Stretches out slowly with air and finishes spicy, smoky and very long, with repeating anise and pear notes and dry, minerally cut. This complex wine benefits a lot from aeration. 90% Viura, 10% Malvasia.
14) Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Napa: $29.79 Exhibits flavors of plums, and blueberries. It shows an excellent acid structure and finishes with a soft elegant mouthfeel. We believe it is a “textbook” example of this noble variety grown in this outstanding appellation and that it can be enjoyed for several years to come. The core of our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon comes from three sites situated within the Stag’s Leap, Oak Knoll and Oakville AVA’s. The Stag’s Leap site delivered deep color, structure and depth. The Oak Knoll Cabernet site exemplifies its provenance with incredible balance. It is not “over-the-top.” Our Oakville District site, next door to Screaming Eagle, again strutted its stuff, delivering deep color, high-quality grape tannin and aromatics.
15) Brotte Esprit Barville Cotes du Rhone 2016: $16 Medium intensity with aromas of small stone fruits and delicately spicy hints of pepper, thyme and garrigue (bush land). Palate – Smooth, warming and elegant. Its aromas recall wild red fruits, dark cherries, forest floor and licorice. The tannins are soft yet precise. 2016 is an exceptional year with powerful, bright reds.
16) Buena Vista Chardonnay 2014, Carneros: $19 Opens with aromas of peach jam, pear, orange chutney and shiso leaf. With medium body and a solid core, flavors of lemon and toasty vanilla with a hint of orange peel coats the palate and leave a long, rich finish.
17) Melka Metisse Jumping Goat Vineyard 2014, Napa Valley: $142 (Suggested retail: $165) This wine has our most loyal following and it is no surprise as to why. Similar to the Graves region in Bordeaux, the wine is perfumey, with a velvety texture so signature of the Jumping Goat. Aromatics of dark fruit, graphite, tar and creosote are complimented in a wine that exhibits opulence and softness harmoniously. The finish on this fabulous 2014 is bigger than previous years and we suggest decanting a good three hours prior to serving. 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot.
18) Weingut Schwarzbock Gelber Muskateller 2015: $19 Typical muscular atoms; clear after fresh grapes; becomes ever finer and more diverse; very juicy; reductive style with further development potential.
19) Cooper & Thief Cellarmasters Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa: $45.99Aged for six months in rye whiskey barrels, it’s a rich wine with warm, dark fruit aromas, a lush mouthfeel, and supple tannins touched by hints of toasted rye spice. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot.
And the next 2 are a pleasure to get in each year:
Felsina is a benchmark producer of not only Tuscany and Italy but the entire world of wine, and it is regarded by many as the finest producer of Chianti. The vineyards of Castelnuovo Berardenga and the Felsina estate produce an exotic, wild style of Sangiovese that it is incredibly unique. It also produces some of the most long-lived wines of the region, with the Rancia bottling peaking 20-30 years from vintage.
20) Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2012: $57.99 A library selection! Vinous 94+ pts. A ripe, powerful wine, the 2012 Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia offers a level of finesse that balances some of the more overt intensity of the year. Dark cherry, plum, spice, tobacco, menthol and licorice add shades of nuance as this beautifully delineated Rancia opens up in the glass. Because of its mid-weight structure, I expect the 2012 will give up its charms relatively early by Rancia standards, which means around age 15-20. The 2012 is not an obvious or explosive Rancia, rather is a wine built on compelling overall harmony.
21) Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2015: $54.99 94-97 points Vinous “The 2015 Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia is one of the most finessed young Rancias I have ever tasted. Silky, aromatically precise and nuanced to the core, the 2015 is shaping up to be a jewel of a wine. This is an impressive showing. (AG)” (1/2018)
1) Ancient Peaks Zinfandel 2017, Paso Robles: $17.79 Tasting Panel 94 pts. This stellar red shows off an array of exciting flavors—we first tried it at Paso Robles Somm Camp and it became one of the most popular wines of the event. Grown on soils that range from sandstone to petrified oyster shells and white sand, this wine exhibits a rich, grainy tannin sensation that turns creamy on the mid-palate. Aromas and flavors of lavender and cocoa nibs charm as cherry and plum generously wash across the mouth before a finish of cola and toasted oak woven into a bouquet of blue flowers.
2) Ancient Peaks Renegade Red Blend 2016: $19.79 The 2016 Renegade presents heady aromas of plum, cherry, violets, vanilla bean and savory leather with a suggestion of baking spice. Juicy flavors of red and black fruits co-mingle seamlessly across a rich, expansive palate, revealing hints of wild berry jam, sage and cedar. Lively yet integrated acidity lends elegance to this otherwise powerful wine, carrying notes of black pepper into a long, balanced finish. The full-bodied yet polished character of the 2016 Renegade is an excellent match for rack of lamb, grilled pork chops, bacon-wrapped filet, and black pepper-crusted roast beef. Blend: 32% Syrah, 25% Zinfandel, 20% Malbec, 19% Petit Verdot, 4% Petite Sirah.
3) Treana Red 2015, Paso Robles: $33 Vinous 91 pts. Opaque ruby. Spice-tinged dark berry, cherry and pipe tobacco scents are complemented by suggestions of mocha and allspice. Blackberry, bitter cherry and spicecake flavors show very good depth and a subtle touch of candied licorice. The spiciness builds on the long, sappy finish, which features pliant tannins and a sweet, lingering touch of vanilla. Blend: 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Syrah.
4) Quilt Cabernet Sauvignon 2016: $36 Cheapest online price: $40 ($49.99 at one of the largest retailers in the nation and average price online) With superbly ripe fruit from a patchwork of vineyards all over the Napa Valley, Joe Wagner makes a statement with his new fruit-forward and supple Quilt Cabernet. It’s a dark beauty with intense notes and flavors of black currant, berries and bittersweet chocolate. On the palate, it’s a meaty and velvety wine with an edge that makes you want another sip. Turn this new classic from Joe Wagner into your new steak dinner wine.
5) Wonderment Dutton Campbell Pinot Noir 2014: $34 Usually $40 The 2014 vintage is very similar to the 2013 as it again has a delightful floral nose of lilacs and violets interlaced with red fruits and baking spices. Well-structured and delicate on the palate. A red fruit core with undertones of soil and mushroom finishing with length, acidity and subtle tannings. 264 cases.
6) Domaine J.A. Ferret Pouilly-Fuisse 2016: $46 This wine shows a great balance between weight and freshness and an elegance derived from seamless minerality. Layers of subtle fruit notes come together with stone fruits, acacia flowers and spiced hazelnut butter. The finish is long, intense and spicy.
7) Kuleto Frog Prince Red Wine 2016, Napa County: $21.79 Suggested retail: $35 WE 90 pts. This is a well-made blend of 53% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot. It is among the producer’s “curious blends,” created from estate properties in different styles. Here, firm, structured and present tannins dominate an otherwise concentrated and spicy mix of black licorice, clove and tobacco.
The next 4 wines are my picks from recent trade tastings. Yummy!
8) Luigi Giordano Barbaresco Montestefano 2013: $59.79 The wine ages for at least 18- 24 months in large, (30-50 hectolitre) Slavonian oak barrels; it is subsequently refined in horizontally placed bottles for at least 12 months. Organoleptic characteristics: intense garnet red color which gains noble orange highlights with the passing of time; ethereal, ample and fruity perfume with notes of red fruit jam and delicate hints of spice. The flavor is dry, decisive and aristocratic. A foundation vineyard in Barbaresco!
9) Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2013: $86.99 94 pts. WA The 2013 Barolo Cannubi is a layered and enriched expression that shows both elegance and power. This is a beautiful quality that is so specific to the celebrated Cannubi cru. The wine is silky and dense in texture and offers generous aromas of dark fruit, cassis, licorice and balsam herb. There is moist earth and some dustiness on the finish. The Barolo offers all of the most graceful aromatic highlights that you should expect of Nebbiolo. These qualities will improve with age.
10) Roccheviberti Barolo Bricco Boschis 2014: $72 Bricco Boschis is a vineyard of significantly larger surface area, with Western exposition and an altitude ranging between 200-300 meters above sea level. Compared to Rocche di Castiglione, the soil here is much richer in clay, resulting in Barolos with more intense color, bigger structure and pronounced tannins, all of which contributes to the wine’s longevity. Roccheviberti has several different parcels within the Bricco Boschis vineyard: in the highest part are plantings of Nebbiolo for Barolo. Delicious! Monopole property.
11) Damilano Arneis 2017, Langhe: $24 Score: 88 Wine Spectator November – 2018 “Displaying alluring fruit flavors of peach, apricot and grapefruit, this white is juicy and bright, ending with a mouthwatering tang. Drink now. 2,500 cases made.”