“Because I doubt you’ve ever had a Chateauneuf-du-Pape this good!”–Marie
Rotem & Mounir Saouma OMNIA Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge 2016: $149.99
One of the best Chateauneuf du Papes that you’ll ever have! A step up over the 2017, the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Omnia is a similar Grenache-dominated blend sourced from multiple terroirs in the appellation. It has a crunchy, exotic style as well in its purple fruits, violets, spring flowers, and crushed rock-like aromas and flavors. I love its texture, it’s beautifully balanced, has notable concentration, and is just a classic, impeccably made wine from this estate. Drink it over the coming decade or so.
“Great producer of Nebbiolo! And this one is affordable!”–Marie
Vinous 92 pts. “Bright red. Explosively fruity aromas and flavors of red cherry, raspberry nectar, sweet spices and violet. At once big, dense and juicy, but vibrant, with a hint of aromatic perfume that is extremely inviting as is the underlying sweet spice component. So dark and red this is not likely to meet most people’s idea of a Rosé (this out-Cerasuolo’s many Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo wines, traditionally by far Italy darkest pink wines); that said, this is absolutely delicious. I literally couldn’t put my glass back down once I started tasting this.” –VINOUS April 2019
1) Ramey Pedregal Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Oakville: $194.79 Jeb Dunnuck 97 pts. The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Pedregal Vineyard is a dead ringer for a great vintage of Ducru-Beaucaillou. Pure crème de cassis, graphite, smoked earth, and tobacco leaf notes all flow to a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon that exudes class, elegance, and purity, all while still carrying serious depth and richness. Made from 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Petit Verdot, it has ripe tannin, impeccable balance and a great finish, all promising a long life.
2) Folktale Reserve Pinot Noir 2016, Santa Lucia Highlands: $38 Suggested retail: $58 The bouquet is richly aromatic with gorgeous notes of violets, roses, chocolate cherries, blueberry, strawberry, and vanilla. There’s the classic SLH minerality, akin to slate and pencil lead. There’s a hint of cola, and a bite of white pepper. This wine is decadent like red velvet cake, but well balanced with brisk acidity. Enjoy now, or let it rest in your cellar.
3) Walt Pinot Noir 2016, Santa Rita Hills: $36 Great price! Jeb Dunnuck 92 pts. “The appellation 2016 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills from Walt comes from some great sites in the region (Bentrock, Radian, Fiddlestix and Clos Pepe) and spent 10 months in 45% new French oak. It has a ripe, powerful bouquet of toasty oak, blackberries, scorched earth, and graphite. Deep, rich, and concentrated, I love its depth of fruit and it’s an undeniably California Pinot Noir to drink over the coming 4-5 years.”
4) Walt Blue Jay Pinot Noir 2016, Anderson Valley: $35 Great price! IWR, Owen Bargreen 92 pts. “The 2016 Blue Jay Pinot Noir is an Anderson Valley bottling consisting of fruit sourced from the Corners Vineyard in the town of Booneville. This deep colored Pinot Noir begins with aromas of dark berry, cranberry, orange, and peat moss as earthy tones come into play. This shows a bright acidity and wonderful mouthfeel with notable weight. Dark fruits mingle with red fruits in the glass as this shows terrific richness and terroir.”
5) Rotem & Mounir Saouma OMNIA Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge 2016: $149.99One of the best Chateauneuf du Papes that you’ll ever have! A step up over the 2017, the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Omnia is a similar Grenache-dominated blend sourced from multiple terroirs in the appellation. It has a crunchy, exotic style as well in its purple fruits, violets, spring flowers, and crushed rock-like aromas and flavors. I love its texture, it’s beautifully balanced, has notable concentration, and is just a classic, impeccably made wine from this estate. Drink it over the coming decade or so.
6) Le Mistral Single Vineyard Grenache 2017, Monterey County: $33 Great price! Fruity aromas and flavors of spiced cranberries, chocolate pomegranate seeds, and dried herbs with a silky, bright, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a silky, crisp finish that exhibits notes of spiced beets and tomatoes and grilled cedar plank with crunchy, dusty tannins. A tangy, woody grenache for the table.
7) Pra Amarone Della Valpolicella 2010: $69.99 Great price! A ripe, open and spicy nose with aromas of wild cherry, plums and dried herbs. Firm, ripe tannins on the palate lead to flavours of bitter cherry, spice and tarry, liquorice notes too. The finish is complex and long, further opening to reveal dried orange peel, and ripe red fruit characters backed by a hint of mocha. A fine and distinctive style of Amarone capable of further development in bottle.
8) Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Walla Walla Valley: $127 Wine Enthusiast 94 pts. “This is Doubleback’s first vintage to include estate-grown grapes in the blend. Truffle, mocha and ripe purple-fruit scents explode from the glass. Ample acidity underscores the chewy tannins. A dense and age-worthy wine, this needs more bottle-age to show its best; Cellar Selection”
9) Passionate Wine Via Revolucionaria Semillon Hulk 2018, Mendoza: $15.99Super unique and wine geeky! This 100% hand harvested Semillon is from a single vineyard in the Tupungato region of the Uco Valley. The lower alcohol wine has a fresh light green hue with notes of lemon, key lime, jasmine, and white flowers with an underlying and persistent layer of crushed wet limestone. The wine is vibrant and bright yet smooth on the palate showing fruit flavors as well as earth tones of dry leaves. Clean, crisp, engaging, and refreshing.
10) Brigaldara Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2016: $27.99 Aromas of red plum, marzapan and exotic flowers, along with a saline nuance. Juicy and tightly coiled on the palate, with strong acidity that preserves the red fruit and spice flavors. It finishes with good purity of fruit and length. Corvina 40% Corvinone 30% Rondinella 20% Others 10%.
11) Cascina Chicco Roero Arneis Anterisio 2017: $25.99 In winemaking the concept of maceration between peel and must is also applied to a white wine, and all the processes carried out are carried out cold. The scent is very intense and persistent with hints of apricot and apple, final notes of chamomile. In the mouth the wine is sapid, with a good structure and a fresh acidity.
12) Mormoraia Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2015: $18.99 WE 87 pts. Best Buy. Delicately scented, this has subtle aromas evoking acacia, orchard fruit and a whiff of honeyed nut. The medium-bodied palate offers yellow apple and Bartlett pear that merge with bitter almond. It closes on a saline note.
13) Fantinel Sant’ Elena Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Collio: $21 WE 88 pts. Fragrant white flower, honeydew melon, tomato vine and hay aromas all come together in the glass. The vibrant palate shows pink grapefruit and tangerine alongside a vein of mineral.
14) Maxville Petite Sirah 2014, Napa Valley: $49 Suggested retail: $67 WE 93 pts. This is a newly released wine, sultry and peppery, with lip-smacking waves of blackberry and raspberry, bold and brooding and ultimately delicious. Full-bodied, it finds balance between its velvety texture and spikes of black pepper and leather.
15) Davis Bynum Jane’s Vineyard 2017, Russian River Valley: $24.79 WE 88 pts. From a site on Woolsey Road in the appellation, this is a sulfurous, lemony white, aged in both neutral French oak and stainless drums. Textured, it offers powerful concentration, rich tropical flavors and body weight.
16) Grand-Puy Ducasse Prelude 2015, Pauillac: $50 James Suckling 90 pts. Quite brambly summer-berry and dark-plum aromas with a thread of violets and cassis. The palate has a smooth, pastry-like tannin texture and is gently grainy and layered. Very fresh and elegant finish. Try from 2021. “In Bordeaux, the Medoc region is considered the prime-zone of the Left Bank of the Dordogne river, and inside it lies the noble regions of Pauillac, St Julien, Margaux and St-Estephe. Among those four, Pauillac is arguably the King, and is known for producing masculine, rich, powerful icons like Château Latour and Château Lafite Rothschild, both which hail from there. Their wines are primarily composed of Cabernet Sauvignon based wines and Château Grand Puy-Ducasse’s Prelude marries 60% Cabernet Sauvignon with 40% Merlot and it immediately enticed me at a recent tasting with it’s gorgeous structure and superb richness. Transpiring from a vintage that set a record for perfect 100 Point wines from Wine Enthusiast, and one where the Wine Spectator rated the overall vintage 94 Points, Château Grand Puy-Ducasse’s 2015 Prelude is truly exceptional. Created from a certified Organic & Biodynamic Vineyard, the fruit was sorted once in the vineyard and again at the winery using the latest generation of optical sorting. This wine wine embodies all of the qualities that I love about Pauillac and I strongly recommend securing a case before this one disappears.”
17) TOR Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley: $104.99 There’s 14 barrels of the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley and it’s a perfect introduction to the style of the vintage. Blueberry, blackberry jam, incense, and Asian spice notes all emerge from this plump, full-bodied, sexy 2015 that has sweet tannin and loads of character. Drink it anytime over the coming 15 years.The 2015 Napa Cabernet is a denser and perhaps a more complex wine than the 2014 due largely to the strength of the vintage. The palate is very full weight with a fantastic lift and intensity to the aromatics. This vintage is more slanted to the black fruit spectrum with less of the red fruits that were in the 2014. This is a fantastic introduction to both the 2015 vintage and TOR Cabernets.
18) TOR Cabernet Sauvignon Melanson Vineyard 2016, Napa Valley: $224 Greg Melanson’s vineyard on Pritchard Hill is very steep, with rows running up and down the hill directly across from Colgin winery. Beyond Colgin its rocky face looks down at Napa Valley’s floor. Very deep purple-black in color, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Melanson Vineyard has a vibrant nose of black cherries, blackberries, violets and cedar with hints of lavender, chocolate box, earth, mocha and unsmoked cigars. The palate is full, rich, muscular, concentrated and lively with very firm, very grainy tannins and a long finish with camphor hints.
JD96 The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Melason Vineyard is another beautiful wine and comes from the site directly across from Colgin. Blackberries, bay leaf, camphor, savory herbs, and graphite notes all flow to a beautiful, medium to full-bodied, concentrated, layered Cabernet Sauvignon that has a singular character, plenty of structure, and a great, great finish. The Melanson Vineyard Cabernet always stands out for its dense Pritchard Hill fruit profile. This year’s version has that same profile but with a bit more finesse and a very seamless palate impression. This has loads of baking spices and red fruits on the nose. On the palate there is the classic blue and black fruits of Pritchard Hill. A classic Melanson Cabernet in a vintage with outstanding class and refinement.
19) TOR Proprietary Red Wine 2014, Napa Valley: $209.99 Wine Advocate: 95 Points The 2014 Proprietary Red from Oakville is 44% Cabernet Franc, 44% Petit Verdot and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a fabulous wine and a creative blend from Kenward. With a fabulous nose of forest floor, white flowers, licorice, incense, blackcurrant and blueberry fruit, this deep, sumptuous, full-bodied wine has fabulous intensity, low acidity and finely grained, integrated tannins. There is not much of it, but it is a beauty. It can be drunk now or cellared for another two decades.
20) TOR Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Hillside 2016: $175 James Suckling 97 pts. Crushed dark fruit with licorice and black olives on the nose. Full-bodied and very lush yet reserved and melted in the palate. Fine tannins. Spreads out across the palate in a subtle way. Drink after 2020.
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 96 pts. Drive the Oakville Cross Road to the Silverado Trail, then look directly forward and up and you see Tierra Roja, a small four-acre jewel of a hillside vineyard. The vineyard is dotted with big rocks, and the soil is roja (very red). This wine comes from the upper steep terraces of the vineyard, directly below Dalla Valle. Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Hillside features red, black and blue fruits with floral and earthy nuances plus pencil shavings and a meaty/savory undercurrent. The palate is full-bodied, firm, grainy and lively with loads of earth and mineral layers.
21) Domaine Louis Moreau Petit Chablis 2017: $22.99 Chablis achieves its highly distinctive mineral character due to its cool northerly climate and its highly calcareous soil. The Domaine Louis Moreau Petit Chablis is fresh and aromatic, with notes of apple and citrus on the nose. Bright acidity and a roundness on the palate.
22) G.D. Vajra Clare J.C. Nebbiolo 2018, Langhe: $21.99 Vinous 92 pts. “Bright red. Explosively fruity aromas and flavors of red cherry, raspberry nectar, sweet spices and violet. At once big, dense and juicy, but vibrant, with a hint of aromatic perfume that is extremely inviting as is the underlying sweet spice component. So dark and red this is not likely to meet most people’s idea of a Rosé (this out-Cerasuolo’s many Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo wines, traditionally by far Italy darkest pink wines); that said, this is absolutely delicious. I literally couldn’t put my glass back down once I started tasting this.” –VINOUS April 2019
23) Pra Amarone Della Valpolicella 2010: $69.99 A ripe, open and spicy nose with aromas of wild cherry, plums and dried herbs. Firm, ripe tannins on the palate lead to flavours of bitter cherry, spice and tarry, liquorice notes too. The finish is complex and long, further opening to reveal dried orange peel, and ripe red fruit characters backed by a hint of mocha. A fine and distinctive style of Amarone capable of further development in bottle.