1) Delectus Merlot 2013, Knight’s Valley: $62 Should be $78! Distinctive aromas of bright fruit, like strawberry and tart raspberry, blossom from the glass. A beautiful balance of creaminess and minerality greet you on the palate with a touch of toasted oak, sweet vanilla and dusty chocolate.
2) Joseph Carr Chardonnay 2016, Carneros: $18.99 This Chardonnay is sourced from the moderately cool and foggy Carneros AVA, which spans the foothills of the Mayacamas and ensures excellent freshness and acidity. The wine undergoes barrel fermentation as well as sur lie aging in 20% new French oak, both of which contribute a creamy texture and complexity. The bouquet is intensely aromatic and features notes of ripe peach and lemon. Flavors of toffee and almonds emerge on the palate, bolstered by lively acidity, a creamy mouthfeel, and a long finish.
3) Davis Bynum River West Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, Sonoma: $20 Wine Enthusiast 92 pts. From an estate site alongside Westside Road, this impressive white shines in full-bodied nutty oak and a slight element of reduction that adds rather than detracts. Exotic in salty tangerine, peach and stone, it lingers in lasting oak spice.
4) Domaine de Trevallon 2014, Alpilles: $74.99 “Not too dissimilar from the 2013 in overall weight and richness, yet in a more forward, charming style, the 2014 Coteaux d’Aix en Provence Alpilles offers a beautiful perfume of kirsch and currant fruits, Provençal herbs, cedary spices, and dried earth. Medium-bodied, silky, seamless and beautifully pure on the palate, it has light tannin, no hard edges, and impeccable balance. I love it today, and while it’s not going to be the longest-lived vintage of this wine, it should keep for another 8-10 years easily, and I suspect have a gradual decline. 92/100, tasted 2018.” Jeb Dunnuck – jebdunnuck.com
5) Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2018 by Charlie Wagner (Caymus), CA: $19.79 Sea Sun Pinot Noir is created from the singular beauty and character of the California coast. Like Sea Sun Chardonnay, this wine is sourced from three premier coastal regions of California. Their ideal conditions allow for an extended growing season and enable us to create a layered wine – intense and creamy on the palate, with lush fruit and grippy tannins.
6) Row Eleven Vinas 3 Pinot Noir 2018, CA: $18.99 Garnet red in color with a fruity & earthy nose. Flavors of jammy fruit led by bright cherry and raspberries with touches of mocha, vanilla and toasty oak on the finish; soft tannins and long finish.
7) Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir 2018: $21 WE 91 pts. Done entirely in stainless steel, this wine is scented with white flowers and drives fresh fruit flavors of pear, honeydew and Meyer lemon down through the finish. A dash of vanilla resonates as it fades away.
8) Sokol Blosser Bluebird Cuvee 2016: $22 The Bluebird Cuvée Sparkling is designated as a Brut level of sweetness. Expressing aromatics of apple blossom, lychee and hints of white peach, the mouthfeel is bright and vibrant with notes of unripe pear and lime zest. Dry on the palate, it finishes crisp with a lingering mineral flavor — a vibrant wine that dances on the palate. 70% Oregon, 30% Washington State.
9) Sokol Blosser Rose of Pinot Noir 2019, Dundee Hills: $20.79 Our 2019 Rosé of Pinot Noir presents with bright ruby red grapefruit on the nose and across the palate. Flavors of citrus, bergamot, and fresh tropical fruits intertwine with a crisp acidity. Lingering notes of golden raspberry give way to a smooth finish.
10) Evolution by Sokol Blosser Lucky No. 9 White Blend N.V.: $14.79 WE 90 pts. Best Buy WE! Production keeps rising while the price stays the same and the quality is as good as ever. A blend of eight different white wine grapes, this wine is fragrant in citrus flesh and rind tones. Spunky is the word that best characterizes the crisp, fresh mix of tree and citrus fruits, notably peaches and lemons. It’s a lovely mix, polished and ready for a wide variety of vegetarian and light seafood dishes.
11) Evolution by Sokol Blosser Winery Pinot Noir 2018, Willamette: $18.99 Great price! With the magic of our winemaking team and love for pinot noir, our 2018 Evolution Pinot Noir is so delicious that it will knock your socks off, literally. With pinot noir at the heart of Oregon wine, it was only natural that one day we would make this single varietal wine as the next evolution of Evolution. We sought out to evolve pinot noir to become the weekday weekend wine. It’s the wine for the imaginative food lover celebrating the any-food occasion. Dangerously juicy and fruit-driven with a sophisticated silk. This bottle of pinot makes enjoying the young wine so easy to drink and share. 100% pinot noir. 100% Willamette Valley. 100% made from Oregon with love. 92 pts. James Suckling
12) Sokol Blosser Estate Pinot Noir 2017, Dundee Hills: $37.99 Our Dundee Hills Estate Pinot Noir captures and expresses the delicate fruit characteristics associated with this varietal, and we balance that with structure and age-ability. This blend represents our entire Estate with barrels selected from nearly every corner of the property. Our 2017 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir exhibits aromas of leather and spice. The palate is rich with dark fruit, dried currant, and a hint of cinnamon. Enhanced by flavors of grilled lamb sausage, or a warm bowl of piperade, typical Basque dish prepared with onion, green peppers, and tomatoes sautéed and flavored with red Espelette pepper. 93 pts. James Suckling 91 pts. Wine Enthusiast
13) Lobster Reef Sauvignon Blanc 2019, New Zealand: $12.99 Intensely aromatic Full of Marlborough flavor and style Beautifully balanced and refreshing. Our Sauvignon Blanc is crafted to maximize the grapes’ freshness and flavor. It is aromatic and generous on the palate, which it why it’s a best-seller vintage after vintage.
14) Lioco Indica Red Blend 2018, Mendocino: $25.99 From two historic Mendocino County Vineyards — one with 70 year old, dry farmed Carignan (93%) pitched on an exposed, rocky slope at 2,400 feet; the other with 75+ year old Valdiguie (7%) farmed on clay soils in a cool, upland valley. These rapidly vanishing California grape varieties harken back to the Golden State’s earliest winemaking efforts. All fruit was hand harvested in late September. It was foot tread and fermented beneath a ‘submerged cap’ on 100% whole clusters during an 18-day fermentation. It spent 10 months in neutral oak before bottling. Aroma- Just picked blackberry, Italian plum, lavender. Flavor- mulberry, violette liqueur, chai spice. Pairings- bistro burgers, merguez sausages, pork shoulder tacos.
15) Hugh Hamilton Jim Jim Shiraz 2018, MacLaren Vale, South Australia: $15 Jim Jim was Hugh’s faithful Labrador/Kelpie at Hugh Hamilton’s estate in McLaren Vale, South Australia. Every vintage Jim Jim would eat Shiraz grapes only when they were ripe for the picking, so with viticultural skills like that Hugh decided he should get his own brand. As loaded with character as Jim-Jim himself and as eager to please. Brimming with violets, dark fruits, woody spices, and rosehip. PALATE The palate is lengthy, even, and crunchy with bright fruit, blackberry pie, tobacco box, and spice..
16) Hugh Hamilton Black Ops Shiraz/Seperavi 2017, MacLaren Vale, South Australia: $26.99 Cherry wood and forest floor waft out of the glass, then give way to cherry fruit and woody spice. The palate has the pleasing tartness of a morello cherry, and the pure allure of a fresh baked cherry pie. The richness of the palate gives a luxurious depth and a finish that lasts long after you have emptied the glass. “You all know of my love for the ancient grape, Saperavi and the region it hails from. Georgia is the cradle of winemaking, dating back to 6000 BC. With the help of my good friend and master Georgian Winemaker, Lado Uzunashvili, I am thrilled to present the Exotica Collection. This is the meeting of two distinct civilizations, Georgia and Australia; a true force of nature.”
17) Ben Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz 2016, Barossa Valley, South Australia: $41.99 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 92 pts. Even better than the 2015, Glaetzer’s 2016 Bishop Shiraz is very similar in style, with many of the same notes of charred meat, espresso, black olives and blackberries, but with a greater sense of freshness and vitality, even a touch of red raspberry fruit. It’s full-bodied and supple, turning velvety on the long finish. I’m being conservative in estimating its drinking window, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were still going strong in 2030.
18) Michael David Ink Blot Petit Verdot 2017, Lodi: $31.99 Inkblot’s dark, deep violet hue poured into the glass entices you to explore the wine further. Layered aromas of blackberry jam, orange peel, pepper and worn leather showcase the wine’s rustic elegance. A rich, weighty and full-bodied Petit Verdot highlighting flavors of ripe black fig, raspberry and pepper.
19) Indigenous Nero di Troia 2018, Puglia: $18.99 100% Uva di Troia grown in the clay soils of San Severo in Puglia. Fermentation, malolactic, and aging all occur in stainless steel. A partial carbonic Nero d’Troia that is just super yummy and very appropriate for the warmer months. Its got tons of up-front carbonic fruit, no oak and lower alcohol.
20) Otto Ettari Montecucco Sangiovese 2015, DOCG, Southern Tuscany: $26.99 The Montecucco Sangiovese represents a sophisticated expression of the noble Sangiovese grape, a combination of concentration and structure with elegance, resulting in a harmonious balance. On the nose, perfumes of spice and ripe fruit dominate while the mouth is rich and silky with melted tannins and hints of vanilla.
21) Otto Ettari Montecucco Sangiovese Riserva DOCG 2016, Southern Tuscany: $46.99 This is a pure Sangiovese, coming from the best locations within the vineyard. The extended refining period allows for the evolution of this exceptional fruit, presenting a fascinating deep, dark and intense wine that literally explodes with perfumes of black fruits and spice. In the mouth it is full and concentrated with refreshing acidity and soft tannins, a wine that will continue its stunning evolution in bottle to last for many years ahead.
22) Beringer Quantum Red Wine 2017, Napa: $43 Jeb Dunnuck 93 pts. The 2017 Quantum checks in as a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 5% Petite Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and the balance Malbec. It was brought up in 67% new French oak and has impressive black currants, graphite, and crushed flower-like aromatics. It’s balanced, has a solid mid-palate, and ripe, present tannins, and is beautifully done. Drink bottles any time over the coming 15+ years.
23) St Supery Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Rutherford: $79.99 Great price! Should be at least $89.99! $125 suggested retail! This Cabernet presents incredibly dark hues of reds and purples. Black plum, dark cherry and subtle cassis are enhanced with dark chocolate mocha, anise and a high toasted oak complexity. Black plum and blackberry dominate the palate profile with a subtle note of red plum, a thread of whiskey vanillin, espresso and dark toast of the barrel. This is a deep intense brooding wine with a solid structure of fine grain, which will reward with time.
24) Gosset Champagne Brut Excellence: $39.99 Wine Spectator 91 pts. Vivid acidity drives the baked white cherry, brioche, lime blossom and ground ginger flavors in this well-balanced, expressive Champagne. Lightly chalky in texture, with a lasting finish.
25) Foley Johnson Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Rutherford: $39 Crazy good price! Napa Valley’s Iconic Rutherford appellation is one of the most revered regions for Cabernet Sauvignon, and it’s celebrated for producing wines with palpable and distinct character, superior elegance and of course classic Rutherford dusty tannins. Paragons Quintessa, BV and Scarecrow all set a precedence for quality in Rutherford. The best Rutherford Cabernets will fuse elegance, complexity and dusty tannins in a way that makes you want to enjoy them on a regular basis. Of course with an average retail price of well over $100 per bottle for Rutherford Cabernet, it can be tough to find one at a modest price. Foley Johnson’s Rutherford Estate Cab is absolutely one of the best values in Rutherford, with a name that’s synonymous quality. Arising from Rutherford, an area long celebrated for its exceptional terroir and dusty tannins, this exemplary Cabernet Sauvignon shines with all of the hallmarks that I love most about Rutherford. It’s supremely focused and brims with concentrated red fruits, wild violets, cherry pipe tobacco, crushed graphite and of course, beautiful Rutherford dust.
26) B.R. Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Sonoma County: $26 Wine Advocate: 91 Points Medium to deep ruby, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Series is scented of cassis, lilac, black cherries, pencil shavings, mint chocolate and forest floor with hints of leather, dried tobacco leaf and cedar. Medium to full-bodied, it’s mineral-driven in the mouth with grainy tannins and great freshness, finishing long with sweet spice character.
27) Niner Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Paso Robles: $36.99 Great price! Suggested retail: $45 With such a classic vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon, their winemaking goal was to highlight the dark cherry flavors that naturally developed in the vineyard. This vintage of our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon has an extremely elegant and finessed palate, with natural acidity that makes it an exceptional wine to enjoy with dinner. Blend: 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Carmenere, 4% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc.
28) Simi Landslide Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Alexander Valley: $30.99 This vintage, our Landslide Vineyard produced a wine that is youthful and elegant, with deep fruit character. Opaque and deep red with a vibrant ruby edge. The nose shows violets, blackberry, chocolate, cassis, and bramble berry, with notes of toasty oak. Inviting, fresh, and intriguing, this wine will continue to integrate flavors and aromas over time. Savory, dense flavors of dried blueberry, bramble berry, and dark cocoa are followed by a broad mid-palate. Toasty, sweet oak frames the fruit and lends structure. The wine finishes with chewy tannins and a touch of vanilla. The acid balance makes this wine inviting, rich, and delicious. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec, 7% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, 2% Tannat.
29) Collusion Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Columbia Valley: $17.99 Should be $23! Alluringly deep garnet red in color, the nose of 2017 Collusion Cabernet Sauvignon is immediately generous, with deep, intense fruit in the form of sweet, ripe black plums and black cherry pie. Complex notes of clove and vanilla intertwine with these fruits on the palate, where, as the wine warms, it becomes increasingly velvety and luxurious. The finish, which retains freshness throughout, is long, with very subtle notes of damp forest floor, bay, and rich, black macerated fruits. Blend: 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Malbec, 1% Merlot.
And Chardonnay from the famous Peter Michael (highly allocated):
30) Peter Michael Belle Cote Chardonnay 2018, Knights Valley: $119.99 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 99 pts. A tank sample, the 2018 Chardonnay Belle Cote comes from a block planted to Old Wente and See Clone selections. In fact, this is from the oldest, 1990 plantings on the estate. Wow—the nose explodes from the glass with powerful scents of guava, quince, tangerine and lime blossoms plus touches of ginger ale, peach cobbler and crème caramel with a waft of struck flint. Medium-bodied, the palate features laser precision with a racy line cutting through the intense, tightly wound, mineral-laced fruit, finishing long and zesty. Should age incredibly! 3,100 cases are due to be made.
31) Pahlmeyer Jason Pinot Noir 2018, Napa Valley: $49.99 Our 2018 Pinot Noir is rich with a juicy texture. Aromas of root beer and candied marasca cherries lead to subtle notes of cinnamon, vanilla bean and custard. The mouthfeel is concentrated and expansive mid-palate. A youthful acidity brightens the palate, then finishes velvety smooth.
32) French Pool Tote 2019, 1.5 l: $24 So cute! “Pale summer pink blend of classic South of France varietals. Crisp tropical and fresh berry flavors with a hint of citrus.” Winemaker’s Notes
33) Steele Writer’s Block Syrah 2015, Lake County: $16 WE 90 pts. Very concentrated and layered, this deeply colored and full-bodied wine has a powerful mouthfeel and firm tannins underlying the saturated cherry, earth and game nuances that come out with each sip.
34) Von Winning Sauvignon Blanc II Trocken 2019, Pfalz: $23.99 One of my favorites each year: An unmistakeable aroma of juicy gooseberries, limes and fine herbs. A pronounced acidity and fullness. This wine begs you to drink more!