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December Newsletter

Top North American Cabs

2009 & 2010 Bordeaux

Top French Wines

Top Italian Wines

Top Domestic Reds and Whites

12 Champagnes of Christmas

Top Spanish Wines Under $50

Top South American Wines

Top Southern Hemisphere Wines

Top Greek Wines

Wines of the Month

Top Cab & Chardonnay Under $20

Spirits

Beer

Sake

Smoke Shack

Wine Bar Schedule and Events

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Top Cabs of 2014: North America

It's that time of year-- when we look back and select our favorite wines from the various regions we love. Being in California, our state Cabernet Sauvignons take the lead. Turn the pages and keep reading!

 

#1) PINE RIDGE 2010 “FORTIS” CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY

Pine Ridge has long been one of the cornerstones of Napa Valley’s Stag's Leap District. Utilizing the deft hand of winemaker Michael Beaulac, their wines have gone from fantastic to incredible! With the winery’s commitment to quality and innovation, a vision emerged in 2003 to produce a wine that would embody the absolute best their estate vineyards have to offer. By carefully constructing a tête de cuvée from those vineyard blocks that emerge as standouts from the vintage, regardless of appellation, Pine Ridge has created an ultra-reserve Cabernet, dictated only by the philosophy of “simply the best.” For 2010, the blend is composed of 55% Stags Leap District, 42%, Rutherford, 2% Carneros and 1% Oakville fruit, and is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, and 2% Merlot.

ROBERT PARKER 97 POINTS - “Its opaque purple color is followed by a classic bouquet of blackberries, cassis, camphor and graphite. Super-rich, supple and full-bodied with cassis, blackberry, oak and floral flavors, this is a tour de force in winemaking as well as one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted from Pine Ridge. It should offer delicious drinking over the next 20-25 years.”

$149.95 750ml [251330] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#2) MORLET 2010 “COEUR DU VALÉE” CABERNET SAUVIGNON
NAPA VALLEY

This is the personal label of Luc Morlet and his wife Jodie. Luc created Newton Vineyard’s Chardonnay Unfiltered, a collector favorite that’s received 96 points from Robert Parker, Jr. He then became the head winemaker for Peter Michael Winery and crafted their wines from the 2001-2005 vintages, where he made a 98-point Cabernet-blend and a 99-point Chardonnay! Few vineyard sites truly have a strong and unique personality, but one of those that do is the famous Beckstoffer To-Kalon vineyard (pictured). This property lies on the Oakville bench, in the Napa Valley, and Cabernet Sauvignon has become the flagship of this region and has brought Beckstoffer To-Kalon worldwide recognition. This wine is entirely comprised of fruit from this most prized piece of land, and the Morlet family has named this wine “Coeur de Vallée” (or, Heart of the Valley) to honor this unique site.

WINE ADVOCATE 97+ POINTS - “The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Coeur de Vallée is laced with freshly cut flowers, sweet red berries and mint. Weightless and crystalline, the 2010 is pure silk and finesse. The Coeur de Vallée is always the most elegant of Morlet’s Cabernets, and the 2010 plays true to type. Sweet floral notes add lift on the finish. The 2010 is gorgeous today, but it needs a few years in bottle to blossom fully. This is yet another tremendous wine from Luc and Jodie Morlet. The 2010 is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Cabernet Franc. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2030.”

$175.00 750ml [245300] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#3) GKG CELLARS 2012 CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY

For over four decades, Greg Gorman has continued to master the art of photography. One day he received a call inquiring whether or not he might be interested in photographing a project with Dave Phinney of Orin Swift fame. Being a huge fan of Mercury Head, one of their extraordinary wines, Greg was anxious to meet the man behind the juice. Greg liked the concept for Dave’s new wine, Papillon, and Greg’s photo of Vince Tofanelli’s hands is now a Cabernet Icon! Greg had already been into wine for decades, but this photo shoot led to a collaboration between Greg and Dave; and now Greg’s GKG label has become one of the latest “big hits” of Napa Valley Cabernet! Greg is intimately involved in all the blending trials, and nothing gets bottled unless it meets Greg’s discerning palate! A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec, the aromatics offer up a combination of black currant and espresso with an underlying hint of toasted oak. Full bodied, strong flavors of black fruit, currants and cherries flood your palate on entry with further hints of espresso, dark chocolate and plums playing on your mid-palate, coating the roof of your mouth with elegant integrated flavors of blackberry and cassis. Great acidity and sweet firm tannins round out a long finish and certainly make this vintage very age- worthy. Only 268 cases were produced, and this just received 94 points from Robert Parker!

ROBERT PARKER 94 POINTS - "The full-bodied 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (96% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec) exhibits lots of cedarwood, blackberries, blackcurrants, licorice and graphite characteristics. Primarily from two valley vineyards, Llewellyn and Morisoli, it can be enjoyed over the next 10-15 years."

$109.95 750ml [225490] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#4) CIMAROSSA 2010 “RIVA DE PONENTE” CABERNET SAUVIGNON HOWELL MOUNTAIN

Proprietor Dino Dina has a gorgeous piece of property atop Howell Mountain (pictured). Cimarossa means “red hill top”, and this red hill does NOT have fertile soils, which is just what wine grapes like! His vineyards are, quite literally, right next door to the O’Shaughnessy vineyards, and his winemaker is Mia Klein, who has made wine at Dalla Valle. Riva di Ponente translates to ‘steep bank where the sun sets’. This 1.4 acre vineyard block with full western exposure is Dino’s warmest block due to the afternoon sun. The soil is a volcanic ash, which is one of the most ideal soils for Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Only 169 cases were made of this beauty!

WINE ADVOCATE 92+ POINTS - “The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Riva di Ponente Vineyard comes across as dark, powerful and brooding in style. Incense, scorched earth, smoke, tobacco and licorice all jump from the glass. A deep, powerful wine, the 2010 is endowed with tons of character and personality. Here, the mountain tannins are quite present, so readers need to be patient. Today the 2010 is huge, tannic and very, very young. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2028.”

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#5) ANAKOTA 2009 “HELENA DAKOTA” CABERNET SAUVIGNON KNIGHTS VALLEY

Located in an ancient volcanic zone in the Sonoma County, Knights Valley (pictured above) offers incredibly unique and diverse soils with a climate perfectly suited to Bordeaux varietals, as demonstrated by the delicious wines made by Peter Michael, Keplinger and Beringer. Anakota is one of Knights Valley’s stars that produces wines that personify the rustic elegance and spirit of this volcanic area. With Mount St. Helena looking down upon the vineyard, prevailing westerly winds pass over a large, cold pond and blow uphill, parallel to the rows of vines. These cooling breezes slow down the ripening of the grapes and result in wines that are packed with elegance, complexity and finesse. The wines are crafted by Pierre Seillan, whose deft hand has also created 100 point wines at Verité! Earning 95 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, this beauty possesses a dark, garnet color with beautiful aromas of crushed rocks, violets black currants, blackberries and anise, while the flavors are of plums, black cherries, blackberries, hints of licorice, cassis, and a hint of camphor. Complex, full-bodied, and with good tannic structure, this wine will show its best after an hour or two of decanting, and should age for 20-30 years!

ROBERT PARKER 95 POINTS - "An extra special wine, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Helena Dakota Vineyard possesses full body as well as a terrific bouquet of blue and black fruits, crushed rocks and spring flowers. A super-muscular, rich, powerful Cabernet built for long-term cellaring (which may explain why it has not yet been released), I would not touch a bottle for 5-7 years. It should last 30-50 years."

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#6) NICKEL & NICKEL 2010 “STATE RANCH” CABERNET SAUVIGNON YOUNTVILLE

Nickel & Nickel focuses on vineyard-specific wines in order to showcase the individuality of each property. They only purchase fruit from respected and proven sites, specify low yields to ensure concentrated flavors and high quality, and organically farm these Napa Valley vineyards. Darice Spinelli brings her 25 years of winemaking expertise to the table, providing the knowledge of how each specific terroir will display themselves in the resulting wines. She began her “winemaking quest” at Inglenook and BV, then moved to Franciscan where her wines received critical acclaim. The praises for her wines have not stopped, as this bottling just received 94 points from Robert Parker!

ROBERT PARKER 94 POINTS - “The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon State Ranch from Yountville boasts an impressive bouquet of chocolate and creme de cassis, and powerful, full-bodied flavors. It may be the most concentrated, dense and powerful effort in this portfolio. This blockbuster, full throttle (14.8% natural alcohol) wine should age effortlessly for two decades. I wonder if this designation has any kinship to the State Lane Vineyard owned by the Kapcsandy family?” We think yes!

$79.98 750ml [246730] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#7) LEWIS 2012 “MASON’S” CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY

Lewis Cellars does not produce a "Mason’s" Cabernet Sauvignon every year, but when they do, it’s always a welcome sight in our store! Sourced entirely from vineyards in the Napa Valley’s Mount Veeder area, this terrain is rugged with very little nutrients or topsoil. This makes the vines struggle, thereby helping to produce smaller grapes, which in turn makes a significantly more concentrated wine! Lewis manages to tame the mountain tannins, creating a lush, full-bodied, and approachable wine. This year’s Mason’s bottling has just earned 91 points from Wine Spectator, and this displays Lewis Cellars’ “house style” of opulent ollalieberry fruit with Mexican chocolate and toasty oak spice. Creamy, soft-skinned fruit radiates youth yet there is supple tannin and muscle tone too. Like a kid’s easy smile, this "Mason’s" Cabernet is pure joy. Only 1,000 cases produced, so this won’t be around for long!

WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "A classy effort, combining toasty oak with an elegant mix of cedar, dark berry, plum and cherry flavors, gaining depth and holding focus on the long, lingering finish. Should improve with time. Drink now through 2023. 1,000 cases made."

$53.98 750ml [237470] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#8) CROSSBARN 2012 CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY

Paul Hobbs is a juggernaut in the wine world. It doesn’t seem to matter where he makes wine, or with what grape; anything he makes is simply fantastic! Paul’s Crossbarn lineup of wines is the second label to his eponymous Paul Hobbs wines from Napa and Sonoma, yet it comes close to its “bigger brother”! Produced using hand-harvested fruit from carefully selected vineyards in prime areas in the Napa Valley, CrossBarn Cabernet Sauvignon offers structure and weight in balance with pure concentrated fruit.

ROBERT PARKER 90 POINTS - “Hobbs’ least expensive wine and an excellent value is called Crossbarn, and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Crossbarn is a beautifully put together wine that transcends its rather humble origins. Dense ruby/purple with plenty of blackcurrant fruit and sweet tannin, this may well turn out to be the modern-day version of the 1974 Souverain Vintage Selection that I raved about when it was under $10 and the wine is still going strong 40 years later. Of course, the joy of this is to drink it early on, but there is plenty of stuffing and classic Cabernet character, so there’s no hurry. I wouldn’t be surprised in 20 years’ time to see somebody pull out a bottle that would prove a revelation in quality.”

$43.99 750ml [213940] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#9) ST. SUPÉRY 2012 CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY

St. Supéry Estate is a family-owned and sustainably-farmed winery. Now, you may have heard of Michel Rolland; he’s one of the most famous and talented winemakers in the world (just ask anybody in the wine industry). Now you may not have heard of St Supéry’s winemaker, Michael Scholz, but Michel Rolland says “Michael Scholz is on my list of great winemakers from around the world.” We’re not sure if you can get more of a compliment than that! Michael has been winemaker at St. Supéry from 1996-2001, and again since 2009. In that time, he helped to take these wines from strength to strength, as some of their Cabernets have earned up to 96 points! This year’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of fruit from their Rutherford and Dollarhide vineyards. During a recent trade tasting, this Cabernet practically stole the show! It offers up so much for its price that it’s simply stunning! The wine possesses a rich, vibrant purple color with a ruby red hue, while blackberry and ripe currant aromas combine with black pepper, anise, toasted oak and smoky roasted mocha. Flavors of black plum and cassis complement flavors of roasted coffee bean and licorice. This is a structured Cabernet Sauvignon with fine texture, length, flavor and style. Oh…and it just received 91+ points from Robert Parker!

ROBERT PARKER 91+ POINTS - "The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa is also outstanding. Rich and dense with lots of crème de cassis and a hint of forest floor presented in a full-bodied, deep, lusty, opulent style, it can be enjoyed over the next decade."

$25.95 750ml [264420] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#10) ST. CLEMENT 2010 “OROPPAS” CABERNET SAUVIGNON
NAPA VALLEY

St. Clement’s portfolio of stunning Napa Valley wines is anchored by the flagship Oroppas Cabernet Sauvignon. The first vintage of Oroppas was made in 1991, and over the years it has become a style icon for St. Clement — a rich, opulent Bordeaux-style blend that emphasizes concentration, depth and velvety tannins. The key to Oroppas is having a palate of consistent flavor profiles and tannin structures to work for the blend. In addition to their own vineyards, St. Clement has been working for years to build relationships with some of the top winegrowers in Napa Valley’s most sought-after sub-appellations, including Diamond Mountain, Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder, Rutherford and Spring Mountain. Each vineyard brings its own individual qualities to the blend, whether in aroma, structure or depth, but by blending them all together you are left with a wine that is rich and sophisticated. Long story short…they get amazing grapes and make amazing wine! Earning 90 points from Wine Spectator, this is full-bodied yet refined Cabernet, showing classic flavors of currants, cherries, plums, raspberries, blackberries, and a hint of anise. This complex yet beautifully balanced wine has velvety tannins that make this approachable now, but with a little bit of airtime, this really begins to strut its stuff and put on some weight!

WINE SPECTATOR 90 POINTS - "Tight and Bordeaux-like in its structure and midpalate austerity, offering loamy earth, currant and dark berry flavors shaded by anise and cedar details. Needs time. Best from 2014 through 2025. 2,131 cases made"

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Top North American Reds

#1) McPRICE MYERS 2011 “LIL’ MAN” SYRAH CENTRAL COAST

In our opinion, Mac Myers makes some of the best Syrahs from California’s Central Coast, and judging by how full our wine bar is when we have a McPrice Myers / Barrel 27 tasting, you do, too! A few years ago, we were at his winery, tasting through dozens of barrels, and he showed us the fruit from one of his latest vineyard sources. As amazing as his wines are, this new stuff from Kymsi Vineyard in Ballard Canyon was head and shoulders better than everything else! This Lil’ Man bottling is a wine to celebrate his firstborn son, and the fruit from Kymsi is the backbone of this wine. It’s a blend of 86% Syrah, 8% Grenache, 4% Mourvedre, and 2% Viognier, and while this has been only available at the winery, we managed to snag a few cases!

Opaque garnet in color with a dark purple hue, the wine shows aromas and flavors of blackberry, black plum, soy sauce, boysenberry, white pepper, licorice, créme de cassis, smoked meats, pencil shavings and graphite. Framed by good acidity and chewy yet approachable tannins, this rich, complex and utterly seductive wine is drinkable now, but should age for another 10-15 years! This is perhaps the best McPrice Myers wine we've ever tasted!

$59.98 750ml [241180] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#2) PAHLMEYER 2012 PROPRIETARY RED NAPA VALLEY

Jayson Pahlmeyer’s eponymous wine is now regarded as one of the blue chip brands of the Napa Valley. How did he do it? Jayson began by wanting to create his own California rendition of Bordeaux’s first growth Mouton Rothschild. He seeks out the best vineyards in Napa Valley, hires the best winemakers and cuts zero corners to ensure only the best wine made goes into this blend. Current winemaker Kale Anderson blended 79% Cabernet Sauvignon with small parts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot from the Pahlmeyer Waters Ranch and the famed Stagecoach Vineyard. Earning 94 points from Robert Parker, this wine has a deep purple hue and glints of ruby, and is opulent in every sense. Aromas of juicy ripe black cherry and floral raspberry marry with fresh citrus blossom, pencil lead and a hint of marzipan. Smooth, sweet tannins frame the unctuous mouthfeel, dazzling with a balance of rich complexity and fresh acidity. On the palate, notes of ripe black cherry, cassis, mocha and sarsaparilla merge with captivating briny green olive, light ash and orange peel. A crescendo of intense black fruit, bitter chocolate and sweet cigar extend the rhapsody through an endless finish, presenting ample time to savor this extraordinary wine.

ROBERT PARKER 94 POINTS - "The 2012 Proprietary Red Blend (79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot) is fabulous with complex notes of plum, blackcurrants, blueberries, raspberries, licorice and very subtle background oak followed by a full-bodied, opulently textured wine. This has voluptuous texture, tremendous opulence and is a sexy beast. Perfect purity also highlights this marvelous wine that can be drunk now or cellared for 15 more years."

$139.98 750ml [248740] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#3) CORLISS 2009 PROPRIETARY RED COLUMBIA VALLEY

Several years ago, we had our first taste of Corliss wines. Today, these are still some of our favorite wines to come out of Washington State! The winemaking team of Michael Corliss, Andrew Trio and Philippe Melka do everything possible to make amazing wines. The 2009 vintage was a glorious one for Washington State, and while that might make their job easier, they stuck to their strict standards to make an amazing wine even better; from sustainable, meticulous viticulture in their Estate Vineyards, to individual berry sorting at harvest, to slow native yeast fermentation in micro-scale custom oak and concrete fermenters. They follow this with extended elevage in barrel, rigorous selection of the best lots for blending and over two years of additional aging in bottle before the wines are finally labeled and available for current enjoyment.

WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - ”The 2009 Red Wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec. It exhibits up-front, ripe aromas and flavors of black raspberry, chocolate ganache, black currants, lead pencil and toast to go with full-bodied richness and depth on the palate. More rounded, up-front and approachable than the straight Cabernet release, it’s a sexy, hard-to-resist red to enjoy over the coming decade or more.”

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#4) ST. SUPÉRY 2010 MERLOT RUTHERFORD

It’s not too common for us to have two wines from the same producer on our Top Wine lists, but hey, when you have somebody making wines this delicious, it’s hard to ignore greatness! St. Supéry’s Rutherford Estate Vineyard is on the “Rutherford Bench” of mineral-rich alluvial soils and sandy clay loam from the Mayacamas Mountains. Deep, well-drained soil allows the grapevine’s root system to mine for nutrients and water, which yields complex and concentrated flavors in the fruit.

ROBERT PARKER 94 POINTS - “Kudos to this estate for dramatically raising the quality level of their offerings. These are now among the more exciting wines being made in Napa Valley! The opaque purple-colored 2010 Merlot Rutherford Estate offers up beautiful chocolate fudge, cassis and dark black cherry scents intermixed with a hint of smoke. Full-bodied, opulent, and extravagantly rich and luxurious, this decadent Merlot is about as good as this varietal can be in Napa. Enjoy it over the next decade.”

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#5) FOXEN 2012 “BLOCK 8” PINOT NOIR SANTA MARIA VALLEY

For almost 30 years, Bill Wathen and Dick Doré have been making wine together at the historic Rancho Tinaquaic in Santa Barbara County. Since that time their dedication has remained the same: the creation of small production, sustainably-farmed, vineyard-focused wines using a straightforward and minimalist approach to winemaking. They seem to be doing all the things right, as they now have an amazing following, and their tasting room has become a Santa Barbara Wine Country destination! This release comes from the famed Bien Nacido Vineyard; a property in Santa Maria Valley that produces some of the most complex and refined Pinot Noir, Chardonnay,and Syrah in the state! Robert Parker just scored this wine at 94 points and stated “I was blown away by these new Pinot Noir releases from Foxen, and they’re up near the top of the vintage.

WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - “The 2012 Pinot Noir Block 8 Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley is pure class, with fabulous purity of fruit and an elegant, seamless style. Exhibiting notions of sweet red fruits, crushed flowers and sweet spice, it shows the suppleness of the vintage, yet has solid richness, a layered, balanced feel and a terrific finish. Completely destemmed and aged 17 months in 50% new French oak, it’s an awesome Pinot Noir to drink over the coming 5-8 years.”

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#6) OJAI 2010 “ROLL RANCH” SYRAH CENTRAL COAST

Owner and winemaker Adam Tolmach learned a few tricks while he was in Burgundy and the Rhône Valley. For the last three decades, he has been improving upon these techniques here in California, and his wines are among the favorites for sommeliers, critics, consumers and us here at Hi-Time! His style for Syrah is to focus on grapes from the finest terroirs in the coolest districts in northern Santa Barbara County. They have charming personalities with good quantities of spice and mineral-laced fruit, similar to what you might find from France. This wines comes from the Roll Ranch Vineyard, a vineyard so close to his home that this always seems to get the most “love and attention.” Maybe that’s why this wine scores so high! Wine critic Antonio Galloni stopped in on Adam earlier this year, and said his tasting was “...epic”! “Black fruit, scorched earth, smoke, tobacco and iron burst from the glass in the 2010 Syrah Roll Ranch Vineyard. A rich, explosive Syrah, the Roll Ranch is not for the timid. The sheer power and intensity of the fruit take hold of all the senses and never let up. This is the only Ojai Syrah that is co-fermented with a dollop of Viognier, which is felt in the wine’s perfumed, floral-laced finish. This is yet another gorgeous new release from Ojai. 95 points from Antonio Galloni!

ANTONIO GALLONI 95 POINTS - "My tasting this year at Ojai was epic. Winemaker/Proprietor Adam Tolmach and Assistant Winemaker Fabien Castel have done a fabulous job with these new and upcoming releases. The highlights are centered among the Pinots and Syrahs. Black fruit, scorched earth, smoke, tobacco and iron burst from the glass in the 2010 Syrah Roll Ranch Vineyard. A rich, explosive Syrah, the Roll Ranch is not for the timid. The sheer power and intensity of the fruit take hold of all the senses and never let up. This is the only Ojai Syrah that is co-fermented with a dollop of Viognier, which is felt in the wine's perfumed, floral-laced finish. This is yet another gorgeous new release from Ojai. Drinking window: 2014 - 2024 "

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#7) CALERA 2011 “DE VILLIERS” PINOT NOIR MT. HARLAN

Inspired by tasting the greatest Pinot Noir producer in Burgundy (Domaine de la Romanée Conti), Josh Jensen set out to emulate the wine that lit a fire underneath him. He noticed that most of the best producers in Burgundy all had limestone in his soils. He searched up and down California looking not only for that soil, but the right temperature, rainfall and growing season. He found all these in the hillsides of California’s Central Coast, not too far from Monterey, and now his Calera wines are some of the most coveted in the state! The de Villiers bottling is from one of Calera’s certified organic vineyards that sits at 2,200 feet in elevation and faces east, resulting in elegant, aromatic yet complex Pinot Noir.

WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - “First up and seriously perfumed, the 2011 Pinot Noir de Villiers is a gorgeous wine that excels both for its complexity and for its richness and breath on the palate. Giving up notes of ripe cherries, wild strawberries, exotic flowers, citron and spice, it has medium to full-bodied richness, a core of sweet fruit and a rich, seamless texture. In fact, it has a rare level of depth and texture in the vintage, and while beautiful today, I imagine it will evolve gracefully.”

$37.99 750ml [207800] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#8) ROCK GARDEN 2012 “WILLIAMS’ CUVÉE” PROPRIETARY RED
NAPA VALLEY

We’re going to toot our own horn right here; we were so pleased with how our Rock Garden wine turned out that we held onto some cases just so we could feature it on our Top Wine list! There is a spot where the rolling hills of Carneros gain elevation and meet with the rugged slopes of Napa Valley’s Mount Veeder. It is in this area where we find the vineyard for this blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The soils here are predominately clay, very thin and shallow, providing good drainage and poor fertility. Since these vines struggle to retain moisture, this aids in keeping crop yields small, allowing the grapes to ripen and develop intense, vivid flavors. This wine has a dark ruby/garnet color and the aromas are intense with herb, sweet tobacco, raspberry, currant, grilled meats and violets that give way to flavors of cocoa, black plum, black currants, wet minerals and a mélange of red fruits. This is beautifully proportioned, as it has one foot in the new world and one foot in the old world. It drinks great on its own, but pair it with some beef and you’ve got one heck of a meal!

$29.95 750ml [252510] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

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Top North American Whites

#1) PAHLMEYER 2012 CHARDONNAY NAPA VALLEY

Like we said earlier, we don’t typically repeat a winery in our Top Wine list in the same year, but when you rock… you rock! Pahlmeyer is definitely on fire this year, and it’s not just with their Cabernet-based blend. Their Chardonnay is always at the top of most lists for Napa Valley Chardonnay, and we feel their 2012 vintage is one of the best renditions Jayson Pahlmeyer has ever put out! The Chardonnay comes from rocky, hillside vineyards that promote small berries and more complex flavors; vineyards like Stagecoach, Atlas Peak, and Pahlmeyer Waters. Fermented with native yeasts and aged in French oak for 11 months, the wine was not filtered or fined. This would have made the wine more clear, but would have been robbed of complexity and nuance. The wine just received 95 points from Robert Parker!

ROBERT PARKER 95 POINTS - “Pahlmeyer’s spectacular 2012 Chardonnay offers abundant aromas of hazelnuts, buttered citrus, tropical fruits and honeysuckle intermixed with a touch of tangerine oil. It cuts a full-bodied swath across the palate, and possesses good acidity, exuberant fruit and an undeniably sexy style. Enjoy this terrific All-American, All-Napa Valley Chardonnay over the next 4-5 years. Bravo!

$69.98 750ml [248760] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#2) TYLER 2012 “BIEN NACIDO” CHARDONNAY SANTA MARIA VALLEY

Go talk to any Sommelier in Southern California, ask them who some of their favorite California Chardonnay producers are, and it’s likely that Justin Willet and his Tyler lineup of wines will be at the top of their lists! Winemaker Justin Willet and his winemaking staff make their wine in the classic Burgundian style, meaning they focus on cool-climate vineyards that showcase minerality, freshness and verve. The use of oak is kept to a minimum, as they want you to truly taste the fruit of the vineyard, so that each wine has nuance and individuality. This bottling comes from the Bien Nacido Vineyard, arguably one of the best vineyards in California for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. We tasted this without knowing any score and we felt this is one of the best expressions of Chardonnay from this vineyard we have ever tasted!

WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - “Coming from the eastern edge of Bien Nacido and vines planted in 1973, the 2012 Chardonnay Bien Nacido is one of the top Chardonnays in the vintage. Loaded with mineral-laced stone fruits, salt water and white flowers, it has incredible purity, building richness and a crystalline-like quality that keeps you coming back to the glass. It’s a gorgeous effort that will drink nicely for 4-5 years, possibly longer, although I see no reason to hold off.”

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#3) CADE 2013 SAUVIGNON BLANC NAPA VALLEY

CADE is owned by the same owners as Plumpjack... and in their typical fashion, they would never be “happy enough” to make a “good” Sauvignon Blanc: CADE only wants to make outstanding Sauvignon Blanc! In order to do this, they ferment their grapes in a combination of stainless steel tanks, stainless steel drums, French oak and concrete eggs. In addition, a combination of native and cultured yeasts are used, and the culmination of all this helps to give the wine aromatic and textural complexity. Aromas of Lychee, Honeydew Melons, spearmint and freshly mown hay are followed on the palate with flavors of melon, figs, Fiji apple and spring peas. A little refreshing acid at the end results in a mouthwatering finish that brings you back for a second glass!

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#4) PATZ & HALL 2012 “DUTTON RANCH” CHARDONNAY
RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY

One of our perennial “go-to” producers for delicious Chardonnay, Patz & Hall have really hit this one out of the park! Given the strength of the 2012 vintage in California, this should come as no surprise. Produced from some of the oldest plantings of Chardonnay in western Sonoma County, this wine is a blend of different Chardonnay clones to help create more complexity and nuance. Mostly dry-farmed, the vines struggle to produce small but intensely concentrated berries, making for great depth of flavor and texture. Historically, Dutton Ranch yields fragrant, tropical aromatics, underscored by a crisp mineral character. In typical Patz & Hall fashion, they made a winner, as this wine recently received 92+ points from Robert Parker! The aromas showcase high-toned tropical and Muscat-like notes alongside lovely layers of white flower and citrus peel. On the palate, the texture is plush and mouthfilling, with flavors that echo the aromas. French oak-inspired notes of hazelnut, graham cracker and spicy clove, as well as a hint of campfire smoke, add sophistication to the mid-palate. From start to finish, this is a complex and impeccably balanced wine that concludes with lingering ripe fruit.

ROBERT PARKER 92+ POINTS - "Another large cuvee is the 2012 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch (5,921 cases). Oodles of tropical fruit such as pineapple guava and mango are followed by notes of honeyed tangerine and citrus oil. It is deep, rich, full-bodied, and very complex already. This should drink nicely for 5-6 years."

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#5) SANS LIEGE 2012 “CALL TO ARMS” PROPRIETARY WHITE
PASO ROBLES

Owner/winemaker Curt Schalchlin is the owner and only employee of Sans Liege Wines. After several years learning from and working for some of the Central Coast’s most sought-after producers, Curt decided to go his own way. He has rapidly made a name for himself within the “Cal-Rhône Community” as one of the hot new producers of Syrahs, Grenaches, Viognier and blends. His “Groundwork” lineup represents one heck of a value, and the Sans Liege wines really showcase his abilities. Fermented in a combination of new and neutral oak barrels, this is a blend of 70% Grenache Blanc and 30% Roussanne from Alta Colina Vineyard, and the wine displays much of what makes the Alta Colina vineyard a mesmerizing site.

WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - “The 2012 Call to Armas Alta Colina Vineyard is another full-throttle effort that does everything right. Ripe peach, mint, flowers, pineapple and hints of vanilla bean all come together nicely, and while it-s no lightweight on the palate, it stays fresh and clean. Made from 70% Grenache Blanc and 30% Roussanne that spent 17 months in 30% new French oak, it will thrill over the coming couple of years.”

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Best Cabernet & Chardonnay Under $20

BON ANNO 2012 CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY

Next to our wine of the month, this is typically our 2nd most popular wine in December. With that in mind, we always take special care and look extra hard to be sure that the quality of this wine exceeds its price point. Hey, if that’s what we want in the wines we take home, that’s what we should find for you… right? Bon Anno means “good year” and the Italian saying heralds the celebration of good times, and is a fortuitous play on Vintner Matthew Bonnano’s last name. But considering all the hype of the amazing 2012 vintage, there could not be a better time for Matthew to release this wine! Matthew sourced quality fruit from key vineyards in some of Napa Valley’s prime growing sub-appellations, like St. Helena, Oakville, and Stags Leap. He blended in small amounts of Merlot and Malbec to craft an even better wine, then aged the wine for 20 months in French oak barrels. When we got a “first glance” of this wine a few months ago, we just knew we found the best 'Under $20 Cab' of the year-- and carrying a Napa Valley designation, this wine is a righteous bargain! A deep ruby red color, this seductive wine shows classic Cabernet Sauvignon aromas of spice and sage followed by a mix of blueberries and blackberries with fresh raspberry notes. With a nice balance of acid and well-integrated tannins for structure, this wine is smooth, supple and sleek in the mouth. It is well balanced across the palate showcasing flavors of dark fruit, currants and hints of mineral and anise. Crafted to be enjoyed upon release, this wine will also stand the test of time for those who can wait!

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CHALK HILL 2012 CHARDONNAY SONOMA COAST

Similar to the Cabernet, our Top Chardonnay under $20 is a wine that we take extra special care in selecting. In fact, we didn’t even do this last year because we didn’t think anything was worthy of this spot. But this year….this year there was a clear winner! Since its founding, Chalk Hill has been producing artisan wines from their estate vineyards in the hills of northeastern Sonoma County. For four decades they have studied, prodded and coaxed our complex terroir to ensure that their estate wines deliver vivid aromatics, commanding flavors, great character and regional accuracy. While their 300+ acres of vineyards surrounding the winery will always be the cornerstone of Chalk Hill’s identity, starting with the 2011 vintage, in addition to their estate Chardonnay, Chalk Hill started producing their first Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. This 2012 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay comes from extraordinary vineyards throughout Sonoma County consisting primarily of Foley Family estate vineyards. This Chardonnay features fruit from some of the best sites in Carneros, Chalk Hill, lower Sonoma Valley and the Alexander Valley. Chalk Hill’s Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is light golden in color and displays expressive fruit aromas of yellow apple and tropical fruit complexed by toasty vanilla and crème brulée. The bouquet is pure and direct with guava, nectarine, golden delicious apple and pears. The palate is rich, full and citrusy with traces of butterscotch and vanilla in the finish. The fruit is reined in by great acidity and has a persistent roasted almond flavor.

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Wine of the Month

WOODWORK 2012 CENTRAL COAST CABERNET SAUVIGNON

California Cabernet is a natural focus for us at Hi-Time, with our heritage in the Golden State, and a great grape to highlight during December, when family gatherings, office parties, end-of-the-year celebrations and lots more is going on. On the other section of this cover (and in the first few pages) we look at the top end of the spectrum of Cal Cabs. For this, our wine of the month, we wanted something not only very good but very reasonably priced; Woodwork Cab, like Santa, delivers!

Central Coast fruit and a balanced use of American White Oak make for a good marriage. The nose is full of jammy red berry fruits, cherries and raspberries with a hint of strawberry, balanced by light spice and a touch of cocoa. Upon tasting, the sweet red berries are supported by subtle acidity and soft tannins. The finish shows a touch of cherry cola and black cherry as the flavors last and last. This is a crowd-pleaser, an easy-drinker and just plain tasty-- and will fit just about any situation during this busy season. Need a budget-conscious and more serious Cab? Check out our 'Best Cab Under $20' on page 3. Cheers!

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Wine of the Month 2

LE MAUCAILLOU 2011 BORDEAUX SUPERIEUR

"MAUCAILLOU" means "mauvais cailloux", the French for bad stone, as the term was understood by the farmers of the middle ages, given that this type of gravel plot was not suitable for growing cereal, the main source of livelihood at the time. It was later discovered that such gravel outcrops constituted an ideal terroir for highly expressive vineyards. Such were the beginnings of MAUCAILLOU, an exceptionally talented vineyard, given that since 1889 its wines have constantly been in the limelight throughout the world, during contests and "blind tastings" among professionals.

This is one serious bargain -- the juice is excellent and the price is, too! On the nose, mixed red fruits blend seamlessly with light spice, sandalwood, red plum reduction and fruit leather. The palate keeps the red fruit theme with raspberry and cherry cola in the foreground. This is forward and easy-drinking, light in acidity with gentle tannins. The dominant sweet fruits mesh with warm flavors of carob and light earthiness; the finish is relaxed with a focus on, again, sweet fruit. This is very tasty wine and a great way to introduce your friends to Bordeaux at a quite reasonable price (i.e. great for holiday gatherings, celebrations, etc.).

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The 12 Champagnes of Christmas

#1) CLAUDE CAZALS 2002 CLOS DE CAZALS EXTRA BRUT
BLANC DE BLANCS

The most famous vineyard in Champagne’s Côte de Blancs is undoubtedly Krug’s Clos de Mesnil, a walled vineyard which produces a Chardonnay Champagne that sells for more than eight hundred dollars a bottle-- when you can find it. Less than two miles north of this hallowed ground is another walled vineyard, Clos de Cazals, which is situated behind the village church in the Grand Cru village of Oger. As is the case with its more famous neighbor, its walls produce a wind shield effect that creates a warmer mesoclimate that results in riper grapes with more varietal character than produced in neighboring vineyards. In all, the Clos has nine acres of Chardonnay vines, but this limited (650 case) bottling is made from fruit drawn from a small parcel located in front of proprietor Delphine Cazals’ home. Planted in 1957, Cazals calls these vines her “garden.” A customer tipped us off to the Clos years ago but we could never find a stateside source for it until now. With so little wine it is understandable that Delphine was content to sell her treasure exclusively to private clients and select Parisian restaurants. As luck would have it, our debut Clos Cazals vintage is from the vaunted 2002 harvest. It is a wonderfully original Champagne that possesses a pale golden robe and a gentle mousse that releases a long parade of fascinating aromas that include lightly roasted almonds, honey, lemon curd, pears and hawthorn. A solid bedrock of acidity keeps things fresh and toned as well as providing the kinetic drive for one of the longest finishes we have ever encountered in a Champagne. A simply astonishing taste experience that was an easy shoo-in for our top Champagne release of the year.

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#2) ROEDERER 2006 BRUT NATURE PHILIPPE STARCK

This is the first time in the nearly twenty year history of the Twelve Champagnes of Christmas that we have included three cuvées from a single house. Roederer has been on an amazing roll lately, clearly deserving of this unprecedented trifecta. By the way, their 2006 Cristal, which didn’t make the list, isn’t too shabby either. All the vintage Champagnes made by this family-owned Grand Marque are made with 100% estate grown grapes. For their vintage lineup, Roederer’s efforts and thinking are really those of a conscientious grower-producer. This Brut Nature Champagne represents the firm’s first new cuvée in four decades. The concept for this Champagne was put forward by Roderer CEO Frederic Rouzaud in 2003, but it wasn’t until 2006 that chef de cave Jean-Baptise Lécaillon felt that he had grapes with the requisite quality and ripeness for such a demanding Champagne.

ANOTNIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - “All of the classic Roederer signatures are in place, especially in its utterly beguiling, expressive bouquet. Hints of lemon peel, pastry, wild flowers and Chamomile linger on the pointed, crystalline finish. The Brut Nature emerges from estate-owned parcels in Cumieres and Hautvillers, so it is a unique blend, totally different from any of the other wines in the range…The blend is 60% Cumieres Pinot Noir and 40% Hautvillers Chardonnay. 125 cases imported in the US. 93 Points.”

The nontraditional label and bottle motif by famed designer Philippe Starck really announces that this a ground breaking creation for the 21st Century. Limited.

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#3) VARNIER-FANNIERE BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS CUVEE SAINT DENIS

Yes, we are featuring another astonishing Champagne sourced from a walled Côte de Blancs vineyard. This Varnier Fanniere expression is from a single parcel with 77-year-old vines called "Clos du Grand Père" located next to the viticultrual school in Avize. It is situated on flatter land that is endowed with a particular deep bed of chalk. This “St. Denis” is the best bottle of Varnier-Fanniere we have ever had, and importer Terry Theise calls it the single greatest value in his extensive portfolio. Peter Liem of Champagneguide.net, writes: “This edition is 60 percent 2009 and 40 percent 2008, and it seems to combine the best of both vintages: there’s a rich body and depth that’s very 2009, but this is also underlined by tense acidity and a sleek, energetic structure. Above all, it’s infused by an intense chalkiness, which contributes to its overall sense of refinement and finesse. Last tasted: 3/14. 2 ½ Stars.”

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#4) ANDRE ROBERT 2006 LE MESNIL BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS

It is always a big deal when a great value discovery gets better. For two years the 2005 Andre Robert Blanc de Blancs was our “go to value play” for vintage Chardonnay-based Champagne. Well, we like their 2006 even more because it displays the ripe character we loved in the 2005 but with the addition of more overall freshness and firmer acidity. In the glass one encounters ebullient aromas of apple jelly, Wonder Bread and chalk dust. The palate is at once rich and lively with tangy flavors of apple sauce, pears and honey toned with undertones of Meyer lemons and limestone. A balanced and compelling bubbly that rivals vintage Grandes Marques Champagnes selling for sixty dollars and more a bottle.

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#5) TARLANT EXTRA BRUT CUVEE LOUIS

“Louis” is great example of a grand Champagne drinking at its zenith. It is named for Benoît Tarlant’s great-great-grandfather, Louis Tarlant, who began estate-bottling Champagne after the First World War. It’s a 100% barrel-fermented, single-vineyard Champagne crafted from vines over 50 years old in Les Crayons, a chalky parcel in in the village of Oeuilly near the Marne River that’s planted with a 50/50 mix of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Antonio Galloni tasted this February 2014 disgorgement back in May and inked this rave: “Apricots, dried pears, spices, flowers, honey and hazelnuts meld together in the NV Cuvée Louis. Warm, toasty and resonant to the core, the 1999 is built on gorgeous breadth and pure volume. Readers who like rich, oxidative Champagnes will love the Cuvée Louis. This release is based on the 1999 vintage, with 15% reserve wine from the previous release (1998, 1997, 1996), equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. 94 Points.” Worth every penny.

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#6) PIERRE PETERS 2007 BRUT SPECIALE “LE CHETILLONS”

Le Chetillons is a prime example of an exquiste terroir nutured to perfection. Often called the Le Montrachet of Le Mesnil, Chetillons’ pure chalk is never more than 4 inches from the surface while its slope angle and exposition are ideal. The vines of the three Chetillions plots that the Peters family farms range from forty-nine to seventy years old. This is best 2007 Champagne we have had so far and we find this Le Chetillons edition to be more sleek and accessible than the prodigious 2006.

WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - “Richly flavored, yet the glazed apricot, salted almond, brioche and spun honey notes are set in a svelte frame backed by firm acidity. A lively mousse carries the lasting, chalky finish of ground ginger and lemon confit. Disgorged January 2014. Drink now through 2027.”

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#7) ROEDERER 2008 BRUT ROSÉ

The completion of a new winemaking facility in 2007 provided the tanks and other infrastructure required for more precise rosé blending. At the same time, a new, more stringent pruning regime was implemented to decrease Pinot Noir yields down to a miniscule 30-35 hectoliters per hectare. The result is the best non-Cristal rosé we have ever had from Roederer. We love the way it meshes ripe berry essences with livery acidity and silken chalk tones.

WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - “Firm and focused by ample acidity, this is fleshed out by the refined and creamy mousse and flavors of pineapple, blackberry, tangerine, grated coconut and creamed almond. Well-knit and elegant overall. Drink now through 2028.”

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#8) ANDRE CLOUET 2008 BRUT MILLESIME GRAND CRU

Jean-Francois Clouet broke into our Christmas Champagne “club” last year with his majestic Brut 1911 tribute bottling. This 2008 is a worthy follow-up to that masterpiece as it combines power, finesse and minerality into a seamless whole. A 50/50 Pinot Noir Chardonnay blend this millesime is the only Champagne in Clouet’s lineup that is isn’t 100% Pinot Noir.

THE CHAMPAGNE GUIDE 96 POINTS -  “…this is a Champagne that captures finesse and poise, framing them in deep-set concentrations; the signature of Bouzy and Ambonnay. Fleshy white summer fruits, pear and grapefruit zest of considerable depth open out to notes of brioche and nougat, honed with Chardonnay precision, finishing long and focused. The depth of Chardonnay’s mineral expression, painted in the vivid colors of 2008, takes this cuvée to another level… 96 Points.”

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#9) BERECHE (2010) BRUT NATURE LES BEAUX REGARDS

Young brothers Raphaël and Vincent Bereche are rightly celebrated as part of the vanguard of small farmer producers that are transforming Champagne’s quality paradigms, and all their current cuvées speak eloquently of their expertise. Though we get more than our fair share of Bereche Champagne, as with most good things, there is precious little to go around. Les Beaux Regards is a great introduction to the house. It is a serious Montagne de Reims Chardonnay Champagne that is almost Selosse-like with its mineral-infused intensity and its oxidative barrel infections.

ANTONIO GALLONI 93+ POINTS - “…Beaux Regards pulses with energy and class. Lemon peel, crushed rocks and white flowers jump from the glass in a striking, mid-weight Champagne loaded with personality. A wine of crystalline purity and total grace, the 2010 is gorgeous today, but promises to be even better with more time in bottle…”

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#10) ROEDERER 2008 BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS

Accounting for just five percent of Roederer’s production, their vintage Blanc de Blancs manages to maintain a low profile. We, however, are big fans and have long found it to be a worthy rival of their lux “Cristal” bottling, especially when it is from a stellar vintage like this 2008. For his blanc de blancs Chef de Cave Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon combines equal parts Mesnil-sur-Oger and Avize with a dollop of Cramant fruit that gives the blend an additional touch of acidity. Approximately 30% of the blend was fermented in neutral oak vats. It is also worth noting that Lecaillon has fashioned it with just 4 atmospheres of pressure (instead of the usual 6) which works to further enhance this Champagne’s luxuriant feel. Peter Liem of Champagneguide.net is spot on: “…It’s polished and sleek, contrasting a creamy texture with a racy undertone of acidity, and while it still feels youthful and taut, its components are beautifully integrated into a harmonious whole, finishing with subtle, chalk-driven fragrance and excellent length. 2 Star Rating.”

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#11) LARMANDIER-BERNIER EXTRA BRUT ROSÉ DE SAIGNEE 1ER CRU

While Roederer’s rosé (see above) exemplifies refinement and elegance, this Larmandier take is bold and boisterous with heaps of savory Pinot Noir richness. Australian Champagne authority, Tyson Stelzer, gushed over this 100% Pinot Noir Champagne: “…A profoundly vinous Champagne of full crimson-red hue, with a breathtaking display of gorgeous rose petals, understated black cherries, raspberries and strawberries. Minerality of mouth-filling dimensions surges and froths, charged with acidity both intense and refined. An exceptional finish upholds benchmark rose petal freshness at every instant. It’s as special as it is inimitable…96 Points.”

A festive Pinot Noir substitute at the dining table, this decadent fizz is perfect for Holiday feasting.

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#12) GUILLAUME SERGENT (2011) LES PRES DIEU EXTRA BRUT
BLANC DE BLANCS

A very auspicious début from micro producer Guillaume Sergent. Sergent owns four acres of vines in Vrigny, a Premier Cru village in the Montagne de Reims, a place his family has farmed since 1842. He cultivates his plots with an organic sensibility mixed with common sense: organic compost, herbal extracts and no insecticides. His winemaking is simple and precise: fermentation in barrels, no fining, no filtration and very little SO2. This hyper-limited (50 case) bottling was made using only Chardonnay from his two best parcels “Les Vignes Dieu” and “Les Pres.” The result is a rich Champagne with a handcrafted sensibility but one that manages not to be rustic in the least. Expansive aromas of apple sauce, pears and honey mark its inviting nose. In the mouth, the attack opens with vivid green apple and brown spice flavors that take on lemon-lime and chalk undertones in the mid and back palate. Bargain priced for the quality. We placed this last only because there is so darn little of it to go around.

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2009 & 2010 Bordeaux

#1) PONTET CANET 2009 PAUILLAC BIODYNAMIC

ROBERT PARKER 100 POINTS - "An amazing wine in every sense, this classic, full-bodied Pauillac is the quintessential Pontet Canet from proprietor Alfred Tesseron, who continues to reduce yields and farms his vineyards biodynamically – a rarity in Bordeaux. Black as a moonless night, the 2009 Pontet Canet offers up notes of incense, graphite, smoke, licorice, creme de cassis and blackberries. A wine of irrefutable purity, laser-like precision, colossal weight and richness, and sensational freshness, this is a tour de force in winemaking that is capable of lasting 50 or more years. The tannins are elevated, but they are sweet and beautifully integrated as are the acidity, wood and alcohol (which must be in excess of 14%). This vineyard, which is situated on the high plateau of Pauillac adjacent to Mouton Rothschild, appears to have done everything perfectly in 2009. This cuvee should shut down in the cellar and re-open in a decade or more. Anticipated maturity: 2025-2075."

WINE SPECTATOR 96 POINTS - "This is amazingly expressive now considering how huge it is, with stunning espresso and warm fig confiture aromas followed by lush layer after layer of blackberry paste, cassis and plum sauce. A terrific loam underpinning strides in on the finish, which is weighty but sports serious cut. Equal parts fruit and earth. Best from 2018 through 2038. 26,665 cases made."

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#2) LEOVILLE POYFERRE 2009 ST JULIEN

ROBERT PARKER 100 POINTS - "One of the more flamboyant and sumptuous wines of the vintage, this inky/purple-colored St.-Julien reveals thrilling levels of opulence, richness and aromatic pleasures. A soaring bouquet of creme de cassis, charcoal, graphite and spring flowers is followed by a super-concentrated wine with silky tannins, stunning amounts of glycerin, a voluptuous, multilayered mouthfeel and nearly 14% natural alcohol. Displaying fabulous definition for such a big, plump, massive, concentrated effort, I suspect the tannin levels are high even though they are largely concealed by lavish amounts of fruit, glycerin and extract. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2040."

WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "Solid notes of steeped black currant, ganache-coated fig and plum eau de vie pump along in this very dark red, but with well-integrated structure. Long and winey through the finish, with the grip extending everything nicely. Best from 2016 through 2026. 17,665 cases made."

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#3) CHATEAU PAVIE 2009 ST EMILION

ROBERT PARKER 100 POINTS - "Bottled the week before I arrived, the 2009 Pavie appears to have barely budged since I tasted it two years ago. Many experts consider this phenomenal terroir to be nearly as great as that of Ausone. Made from a classic blend of 60-70% Merlot, 20-25% Cabernet Franc and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon, this inky/blue/purple-colored blockbuster reveals wonderful notes of blackberries, crushed rocks, roasted meats, spring flowers, cedar, blueberries, graphite and a hint of vanillin. With extravagant fruit and high extract as well as a hint of minerality, this structured, massively intense effort is typical of all the luxurious, perfect or nearly perfect Pavies produced under the Perse regime (which began in 1998). While built for 40-50 years of cellaring, the softness of the vintage and its flamboyant style is slightly less apparent in the 2009 Pavie than in some of the other Perse wines. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2050+."

WINE SPECTATOR 98 POINTS - "This is massively rendered, with powerful notes of dark fig, currant and blackberry fruit intertwined with ganache, maduro tobacco and tar. Yet the overall impression is both polished and driven, with a buried graphite edge and lingering spice notes that hint at the reward for extended cellaring. It's amazing to see the results when ambition and execution are equal. Best from 2020 through 2040. 7,080 cases made."

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#4) PAVIE DECESSE 2009 ST EMILION

ROBERT PARKER 98 POINTS - "Bottled the week of January 16 (a week before I tasted it), the 2009 Pavie Decesse (from a tiny 9-acre vineyard on the limestone slopes above Pavie) is an uncommonly fat, succulent, rich, 1,000-case cuvee with 14.3% alcohol. It boasts an inky/blue/purple hue along with notes of incense, spring flowers, roasted espresso, chocolate, licorice, blackberries and blueberries. Even though it is aged in 100% oak, the wood is virtually non-existent. An inky blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, the wine exhibits a flawless integration of acidity, alcohol and tannin. This opulent, viscous, thick, juicy St.-Emilion will be accessible in 5-7 years and last for three decades."

WINE SPECTATOR 96 POINTS - "Terrifically rich yet beautifully rendered, with precise linzer torte, currant paste, fig sauce and pain d'épices aromas and flavors that cascade through the voluptuous finish. Beautifully polished, with a huge core of pure fruit in reserve that should blossom with extended cellaring. Best from 2016 through 2031. 0500 cases made."

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#5) PICHON BARON 2010 PAUILLAC

ROBERT PARKER 97+ POINTS - "Administrator Christian Seeley thinks the 2010 is the greatest Pichon Longueville Baron he has ever made, equaling some of the estate’s colossal wines from vintages such as 1989 and 1990. It was certainly showing well when I stopped by the chateau in January. Opaque purple, with loads of charcoal, licorice, incense and some exotic Asian spices along with abundant cassis liqueur, blackberry and hints of roasted coffee and spring flowers, it is full-bodied and opulent, with relatively high tannins, but they have sweetened up considerably and seem less aggressive than they did from barrel. The oak is clearly pushed to the background by the wine’s wealth of fruit, glycerin and full-bodied texture. This sensational Pichon Longueville Baron needs 5-6 years of cellaring, and should keep 30+ years."

WINE SPECTATOR 95 POINTS - "Solidly built, with a roasted edge to the steeped fig, blackberry and black currant flavors, quickly followed by brambly tannins and notes of bay leaf and espresso. Stays dark and tarry through the finish, with superb drive and verve. Best from 2017 through 2030."

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#6) DUHART MILON 2010 PAUILLAC

ROBERT PARKER 96 POINTS - "Dense purple, with classic notes of cedar and lead pencil shavings as well as gobs of back currants and licorice, the wine has a full-bodied mouthfeel with fabulous precision and density. It also possesses a long, silky finish with moderately high tannins, but they are ripe and well-integrated. The wood is clearly pushed to the background in this dense, full-bodied Pauillac, which should drink beautifully for 30+ years."

WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "Well-polished, with sleek edges to the fleshy plum, cassis and blackberry fruit, while the finish is embedded with black licorice and violet notes. Approachable now, but the stuffing is there to cellar this for a bit. Drink now through 2025."

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#7) PETIT CHEVAL 2010 ST EMILION

2nd LABEL CHEVAL BLANC
ROBERT PARKER 93 POINTS - "The best second wine I have ever tasted from Cheval Blanc is the 2010 Le Petit Cheval. This wine is essentially three-fourths Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc. Rivaling the brilliant 2009, thirty percent of the production from this monstrously sized estate made it into this wine, which offers up plenty of white chocolate, cassis and mulberry as well as a hint of roasted herbs. With fleshy, round flavors, full-bodied texture and an amazing finish, this is no second wine, and considerably better than some of the Cheval Blancs of the 1960s and 1970s! Drink it over the next 15 or so years."

WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "This is rather backward, with a thick coating of bittersweet ganache over a massive core of roasted fig, blackberry confiture and kirsch, backed by a long, charcoal- and tar-coated structure. The finish is broad, deep and very dark, with plenty of power in reserve. An impressive second wine. Best from 2015 through 2025."

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#8) CLARENCE DE HAUT BRION 2010 PESSAC-LEOGNAN

2nd LABEL HAUT BRION
ROBERT PARKER 93 POINTS - 'The second wine of Haut-Brion is now called Le Clarence de Haut-Brion, and the 2010 is among the finest I have tasted there. It is a broad, powerful and more muscular wine than its cross-street rival, La Chapelle de la Mission, but all the same, it is wonderfully fresh and precise, with notes of blueberry and boysenberry as well as hints of smoke and wet stones. Endowed with gorgeous fruit, texture, purity and elegance, this relatively dense second wine demonstrates how draconian the selection process has become for the top estates in Bordeaux in recent years. The blend of this wine is 52% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest mostly Cabernet Franc with just a touch of Petit Verdot. I would expect it to last at least 20 years, which is remarkable."

WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "Intense, with a bold, roasted apple wood note out front and anise-infused plum and blackberry fruit surrounding the core. Lots of bramble, tar and warm stone accents course through the finish. Displays impressive range and grip. Best from 2015 through 2030."

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#9) CHATEAU RIEUSSEC 2009 SAUTERNES

ROBERT PARKER 97 POINTS - "The team at Chateau Rieussec have conjured a stellar wine in 2009. There is a little reduction at first that fortunately blows away, revealing thickly layered scents of honey, Danish pastry and quince that appear to gain vigor with every passing sip. The palate is stunning: very viscous in the mouth with tangy grapefruit, honey and white peach. It is still primal, but the acidity is perfectly judged and there is a life-affirming sense of precision and tension towards the finish. Exceptional. Drink now-2045."

WINE SPECTATOR 92-95 POINTS - "Lemon peel and pear tart on the nose. Full-bodied and medium sweet, with good acidity, lemon meringue flavors and a spicy finish."

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#10) SUDUIRAUT 2009 SAUTERNES

WINE ADVOCATE 96-98 POINTS - "Pale gold colour. The Suduiraut 2009 has a delectable bouquet with wonderful delineation with scents of pineapple, almond paste, lemon curd and Kaffir lime, the new oak still prominent and demanding time to subsume. The palate has a slightly viscous entry with clear honey, nutmeg, mandarin that leads to a thrilling, almost spicy finish. Great length with a rounded, patisserie finish. There is a lot packed into the Suduiraut that is unruly at the moment, but is sure to evolve beautifully in bottle. This is simply a sensational Suduiraut. Tasted February 2011."

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Top French Wines of 2014

#1) CLOS DES PAPE 2012 CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE

#7 WINE SPECTATOR 'TOP 100' 2014
WINE SPECTATOR 97 POINTS - "A stunner, with a gorgeous cassis aroma that soars from the glass, reinforced by a core of cassis, cherry and plum pâte de fruit, hoisin sauce, warm ganache and well-roasted apple wood notes. Hefty, but suave and seamless. The finish lets graphite and licorice elements glide through. The structure is dense, polished and perfectly integrated, resulting in lovely length. Should be a beauty after cellaring. Best from 2017 through 2032. From France."

ROBERT PARKER 95-98 POINTS - "Tasted from multiple foudres, the 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape is stunning! Showing surprising depth and concentration in the vintage, with full-bodied richness and texture, all of the samples showed perfumed, complex aromatics, fantastic mid-palates and serious back-end structure. Less forward than the 2011, with plenty of oomph, it will most likely require short-term cellaring to come around, and have a broad drink window."

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#2) GUIGAL 2011 HERMITAGE BLANC

WINE SPECTATOR 95 POINTS - "Viscous in feel, featuring citrus and hazelnut oil notes that weave around a core of white peach, verbena, creamed Cavaillon melon and glazed pear flavors. Long and honeyed through the finish, with a thread of bitter almond offsetting the opulence. Drink now through 2029. 2,000 cases made." –JM

ROBERT PARKER 92 POINTS - "Along the same lines, and the same blend/elevage, the 2011 Hermitage Blanc (there was no Ex-Voto produced in the vintage) is a rich, voluptuously textured effort that has knockout purity and focus. Citrus blossom, vanilla creme, white currants and quince all flow to a full-bodied Hermitage Blanc that has great acidity and serious length on the finish. As with the 2010, it will drink nicely for over a decade."

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#3) MAISON PASCAL MARCHAND 2010 CORTON GRAND CRU

STEPHEN TANZER 92 POINTS - "(from vines in Le Corton and Rognet; just 10% vendange entier): Deep red-ruby. Captivating nose combines pomegranate, espresso, ginger, wasabi and cardamom; strong torrefaction notes emerge with air. Silky and pure on entry, then very intense but not yet especially complex in the middle palate, with lovely definition to the flavors of red berries and sweet spices. Spreads out impressively on the very firm finish. With its powerful tannin/acid spine, this wine is likely to require a good decade of bottle aging."

WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "A pure cherry element lies at the core of this red, encased in a coating of oak that yields notes of vanilla, licorice and caramel. Very suave and balanced, with a fresh finish. Best from 2015 through 2032."

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#4) PONTET CANET 2011 PAUILLAC

ROBERT PARKER 93+ POINTS - "Proprietor Alfred Tesseron-s 2011 Pontet-Canet is packaged in an engraved, heavy bottle, which only adds to the attractiveness of this beauty. A dense purple color is accompanied by notes of forest floor, acacia flowers and creme de cassis in this full, rich, and unequivocally classic Pauillac. With soft but noticeable tannins as well as a complete, full-bodied mouthfeel, this 2011 will benefit from 3-4 years of cellaring, and should age effortlessly for 15-20 years. Bravo!"

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#5) CLOS ST JEAN 2011 CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE V.V.

ROBERT PARKER 94 POINTS - "More rich and layered, with fantastic notes of blackberry liqueur, strawberry, garrigue and lavender, the 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes (85% tank-aged Grenache and the balance Syrah and Mourvedre, fermented with some stem inclusion) is full-bodied, beautifully concentrated and has pure, polished tannin framing the finish nicely. It’s a gorgeous, even elegant, 2011 that will drink well for 12-15 years. Drink now-2027."

WINE SPECTATOR 97 POINTS - "A stunner, with a gorgeous cassis aroma that soars from the glass,reinforced by a core of cassis,cherry and plum pate de fruit, hoisin sauce, warm ganache and well roasted apple wood notes. Hefty, but sauve and seamless. The finish lets graphite and licorice elements glide through. The structure is dense, polished and perfectly integrated, resulting in lovely length. should be a beauty after cellaring. Best from 2017 through 2032."

$46.99 750ml [322363] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#6) MALESCOT ST EXUPERY 2011 MARGAUX

ROBERT PARKER 90 POINTS - "This small estate (only 130,000 bottles were produced in 2011) has been on a qualitative tear for a number of years. A fragrant perfume of spring flowers, black raspberries, blueberries and cassis is followed by a wine with medium-bodied, juicy flavors, sweet tannin and a broad, generous mouthfeel. A terrific 2011, it should be at its peak in 2-4 years, and last for 15 or more. Bravo!"

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#7) ESPRIT DE PAVIE 2009 BORDEAUX

One of the best parts of my job as French Wine Buyer at Hi-Time is that I have been lucky enough to travel to France once a year for the last five years. While I try to visit many regions while I am there, Bordeaux is always the main reason for the visit. My colleagues and I taste barrel samples of the very young current vintages but also seek out wines already in the bottle and ready for the glass. In April this year we were lucky enough to taste and fall in love with 2009 Esprit de Pavie.

Gerard Perse renowned owner of Pavie, Pavie Decesse, Bellevue Mondot and Monbousquet has put together a stunning wine for a stunning price. Gérard has now created "Esprit de Pavie", bearing the Bordeaux appellation. Esprit de Pavie comes from a great diversity of terroirs situated on the south-facing slopes of the Dordogne Valley and enjoys the same care and attention in winemaking as its illustrious siblings to ensure each bottle's high level of quality. The heady, perfumed nose seamlessly blends violets and night florals with assorted blue and purple fruits and cocoa. When compared to all the other wines in Perse’s stable it’s an unbelievable bargain. The fruit is sourced from his entire range of properties. Properties that include Pavie $359 (100 points Parker in 2009), Pavie Decesse $235(98 points Parker in 2009), Bellevue Mondot $400 (100 points Parker in 2009) and a few other Right Bank properties. We are proud to be one of only two retail stores in California to offer this exceptional value from an exceptional vintage.

Primarily Merlot (65%, with 20% Cab Franc, 15% Cab Sauv), this wine definitely bats fourth in the lineup: it's a powerhouse! Lush in the mouth, with notes of cherry kirsch, toasted earth, red licorice, a touch of dark savory spice and dried meat, both the acidity and tannins are king-sized. Red meats, aged cheeses will beg for this one. Big, brash, bold, beautiful wine.

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#8) PITHON PAILLE 2011 ANJOU BLANC MOSAIK

For me wine is about people and the experiences you have while enjoying a glass. So, when I had the chance to visit Pithon- Paillé in the spring I became an instant fan. It doesn’t hurt that I also love Chenin Blanc. Joe Pithon and Joe Paille represent what I love in wine. The passion for their craft and their love for the land (all organic) that gives them their livelihood shows in every bottle they produce. Every time I open a bottle of Pithon-Paillé it takes me back to their dinner table, laughing, eating and enjoying the company of some truly special people. Take home a bottle or two and make your own memories with the ones who are truly special to you.

Winemaker's Note- On the nose, this pale gold wine has an autumnal apple character, sweet and relaxed, and yet also quite vibrant and pure in style. At the edge there is a lifted bright, green-apple-skin note. But on the palate it is certainly more perfumed and fleshy than green, showing a sweet flavour reminiscent of pink-fleshed apples. This comes with a lovely substance. Quite solid and yet bright, giving the wine a rather bold feel at times. Also a touch grippy, although very approachable, with its solid apple-flesh character. Delicious freshness and brightness here.

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#9) BARON MALLERET 2010 HAUT MEDOC

In this second wine of Château de Malleret, fruits comes to the fore without being overbearing. Its aromas are graceful on both nose and palate, and the finish is superb. Its tannic, rounded structure reflects on the nobility of its origins. In the nose we find a nice complexity, merging dark red fruits,  charred earth, campfire, autumn spice, forest mushrooms and night florals. The palate showcases forward fruits, cherry and loganberry, with strong, balanced tannins and acidity leading to a finish of fruit leather and subtle earth. Rack of lamb? Yes, please!

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#10) DOMAINE CABIRAU 2011 COTE ROUSSILLON

ROBERT PARKER 91 POINTS - "Brightness and invigoration from tart skins and crunchy seeds render the fresh blackberry and black raspberry delivered by the Cabirau 2011 Cotes du Roussillon Malgre les Functionnaires proof against any negative effects of its nearly 15% alcohol. Tar, Latakia tobacco and black pepper incisively accent this smoky, rich blend of Grenache with roughly 20% Syrah and 15% Carignan, leading to an infectiously juicy and positively mouth-shaking finish. Here is a wonderful example of the vivacity and energy that can be conveyed by ripe Roussillon fruit, not mention an exceptional value. I expect it to drink well through at least 2017."

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Top Spanish Wines Under $50

#1) MUGA 2005 PRADO ENEA GRAN RESERVA

Muga is one of the great names in Spanish winemaking and has been a cornerstone of our Spanish wine selections for at least 20 years. The “Prado Enea” is the longest lived and most traditional bottling from Muga—always an impressively balanced wine showing finesse and power; floral delicacy and deep black fruit. Neal Martin from The Wine Advocate recently visited the Bodega and tasted four vintages from four decades—the 1970, 1981, 1991, and 2005. As we’d expect, the reviews were filled with superlatives (and an average score of 94.5 pts). We know these wines are great now, but what happens to a wine you suspect can age a long time, 20, 30, or 40 years down the road? The answer is in the series of reviews from the August Wine Advocate: “vibrant,” “...amazingly fresh and vital,” “...a complex, cerebral bouquet,” “...a complex array of flavors..." Of course we recognize most of us won’t age a wine 30 or 40 years, but the 2005 vintage is truly special in Rioja and this favorite bottling Muga is exemplary. It is one of those “now and forever” kind of wines. With a decanter and 20 minutes of patience you will see the many layers of greatness in the 2005 Muga.

WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - “The 2005 Prado Enea Gran Reserva spends 36-months in oak, nine months in new oak after which it is racked into American oak that is “semi-new” (i.e. a new barrel that is “broken in” with a wine beforehand). It has an unashamedly opulent bouquet of primal, ripe, boysenberry, mulberry, dark chocolate and crushed violets that blossom with aeration. The palate is full-bodied with crisp acidity cutting through the pure blackberry and cassis fruit. It has wonderful focus and intensity, though the finish demonstrates convincing composure. This is an outstanding Gran Reserva whose silky texture will instantly win you over. Drink 2013-2030+”

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#2) LA RIOJA ALTA 2004 GRAN RESERVA 904

WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - “The 2004 Gran Reserva 904 is Tempranillo from Brinas, Labastida and Villalba balanced with 10% Graciano from Briones and Rodezno. The grapes were fermented and macerated in inox vats for 14 days at 28º C, and malolactic fermentation lasted 28 days. The wine aged for 4 years in used American oak barrels averaging 4 years old, during which time it was manually racked 8 times. 150,000 bottles were filled. This 2004, from a superb vintage shows a beautiful light red color with a brick rim and a superb nose redolent of balsamic woods, spices, leather, well-hung meat, incense and truffles. The light to medium-bodied palate shows fully resolved tannins, great acidity and pure, pungent flavors that linger in the mouth forever and that can only be Rioja. This is a wine to smell over and over again. It might sound like an exaggeration, but this wine is still too young and you should wait a little bit and drink the superb 2001 vintage which should still be available on the market while this one matures in bottle. At this quality level the price is superb especially considering that the wine is being released 10 years after the vintage. Drink 2016-2024.”

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#3) EL NIDO 2012 CLIO

Clio continues to be one of our most requested wines and customers anxiously await each new vintage release. It combines the lush, velvety tannins of Jumilla’s famed Monastrell grape (aka Mourvedre) with the pedigree of rare old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon. Clío frequently receives 94-97 point reviews from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and the 2012 bottling is definitely another strong showing! The Bodegas El Nido project is the result of the collaboration of the Gil Family, Chris Ringland (one of the best Australian enologists and author of Clío and El Nido) and others. Dark cherry in color, the nose is intense with dark, ripe fruits (cassis and currant) and comfit with toasted coffee and licorice, which lend a sense of finesse and elegance. On the palate there is ample evidence of strength with uplifting acidity and forward tannins, fleshy dark fruits, savory spice, a touch of earth and flat-out opulence. These characteristics combine harmoniously on the palate to make for another stunning wine from Bodegas El Nido. Clio’s combination of opulent fruit, complexity and drinkability prove difficult to resist.

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#4) ACUSTIC CELLER 2011 BRAO VINYES VELLES MONSTANT

This is a newer discovery and we are happy to be able to bring this fabulous wine into the store! Acustic Celler is the project of Albert Jané who grew up helping tend vineyards and learning the craft of winemaking from his family. He worked there until he was 33 years old when he fell in love with the rugged landscape and ancient vineyards of Montsant, an area of north-eastern Spain which surrounds Priorat. Albert left the security of the family business to start his own adventure, Acústic Celler. He chose the winery name to reflect his desire to keep his wines, “unplugged.” In other words, to let the terroir and grapes speak for themselves. The old vines provide an amazing nectar of fruit, which is fermented using natural yeasts. Cautious use of barrel-aging helps the wines achieve maturity without hiding the character of the grapes from which they have been made. The flavors of this wine dance on the tongue and somehow manage to achieve richness and lightness at once. Bravo!

STEPHEN TANZER’S INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR 92 POINTS - “(70% Samso and 30% Garnacha): Opaque ruby color and highly aromatic scents of blackberry and blueberry liquer, licorice and a hint of lavender. Enters lush and rich on the palate, with impressive freshness, offering flavors of bitter cherry and dark berry liqueur. Finishes long and sweet, with floral note clinging tenaciously.”

WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - “The 2011 Brao is a dark, meaty red produced with a mixture of 70% old-vine Carinena and the rest Garnacha from equally old vines, quite powerful and concentrated, with slightly rustic aromas of tree bark, spices and faint flowers intermixed with notes of dark cherries and flavors of black cherries and licorice, with abundant, fine-grained tannins. A powerful red with balance to age. Drink 2014-2018.”

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#5) BUIL & GINE 2009 "BABOIX" MONTSANT-FALSET

In the holy pantheon of Spanish red wines, the big, full-bodied wines of Priorat can contend only with Rioja and Ribera del Duero for excellence and prestige. A historical appellation dating back to the 12th Century, Priorat, or “priory,” takes its name from the Carthusian Monastery of Scala Dei founded in 1194 to commemorate the spot where, legend has it, a shepherd had a beatific vision of angels ascending a stairway to heaven. Buil & Gine, a family domaine founded in 1996, has quickly risen to preeminence in the appellation, and is widely considered one of the best young producers in Priorat.

WINE & SPIRITS 95 POINTS - “This youthful Montsant has the intensity of a wild teenager. The fruit is powerfully red even as aggressive tannins seize the palate, needing at least five years in the bottle before it all might settle down. The payoff will be to bask in its vibrant fruit and complexity. A blend based on old vine garnacha and cariñena, alon with merlot, tempranillo and cabernet, Baboix comes from a vineyard o n decomposed granite in Falset.”

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#6) LA RIOJA ALTA 2004 VINA ARDANZA RESERVA

Bodega La Rioja Alta was formed in 1890 and is an outstanding producer, supplying fully mature wines of world class quality. The wines are made in the traditional Riojan manner with Tempranillo as the primary grape along with careful aging in oak and bottle that gives Rioja its unique character. The La Rioja Alta wines display a wonderful rich ruby color, gorgeous aromas of oak, spices and fruit followed by a sensational feel on the palate. These wines offer a wonderfully complex bouquet, rich flavors, a seductively smooth texture and are ready to drink upon release.

*WINE SPECTATOR TOP 100 WINES OF 2013*
WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - “Cedar, tobacco and spice hints frame dried cherry, berry and vanilla notes in this silky red. The flavors mingle nicely, framed by juicy acidity and light but firm tannins. The wine has a lovely, weightless intensity. A fine example of the traditional style. Drink now through 2020.”

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#7) FAUSTINO 2001 GRAN RESERVA

The evidence is in and the verdict is undeniable. The Faustino Gran Reserva offers one of the most incredible wine values on the planet. Where else can you get a 97 point-rated wine crafted by a legendary producer, which is aged for more than a decade in their cellar-all for under $30.00? Did we mention 2001 was a great vintage in Rioja? The price of admission for one of the world’s greatest wines is extraordinarily inexpensive. This wine is beguiling, complex and elegant. It remains fresh with nice fruit and delicious, savory flavors. This wine will age, but is drinking beautifully right now.

DECANTER MAGAZINE WINE OF THE YEAR 97 POINTS - “Restrained, mineral style with elegant tannins.Youthful and fresh, feminine and complex. Deliciously decadent, with extraordinary vitality in the palate and a long, unique finish. A jewel at this price.”

LA TIMES WINE OF THE WEEK! (3/19/14) - “One of Spains great Bodegas - Still family owned to this day, dating back to 1861. Don Julio Faustino is at the helm. Faustino is possibly the best known Rioja around the world and Faustino 1 the Gran Reserva certainly sets the benchmarks for others to follow.”

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#8) TESO DE LA MONJA “ALMIREZ” 2012

We wrote up the 2011 Teso de la Monja “Almirez” in February which was a runaway success—not really surprising considering the price tag and 94 point review from Robert Parker who noted, “at this quality level, one would expect the price to be three digits or more.” Unfortunately, our stocks lasted less than a week. Of course, this overnight sensation for the “Almirez” was years in coming. We actually bought the winery’s first release on reputation alone, more than a year before it arrived in the states. Look for a style of Tempranillo that shows the maximum power and depth the grape can offer (blueberry, blackberry liqueur, pepper,and smoked meats), balanced by surprising touches of elegance (lavender perfume—year after year). This wine gives the old phrase “the iron fist in a velvet glove” new meaning--the texture here is dense, sumptuous, well balanced and exciting. We think the accolades are going to just keep coming. Get it before it’s gone.

STEPHAN TANZER'S INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR 92 POINTS - "Opaque purple.  Smoky blueberry and cherry compote aromas pick up a peppery nuance with air, along with a subtle mocha quality.  Fleshy and seamless on the palate, offering sweet, concentrated black and blue fruit flavors and a touch of lavender pastille.  Spreads out nicely on the juicy, penetrating finish, which is framed by silky, slow-building tannins."

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#9) BODEGAS BRECA 2012 “BRECA”

Jorge Ordonez, the mastermind behind many of the world’s finest Spanish wines, purchased the Bodegas Breca vineyards in 2005. The property consists of old vines planted on rugged hillsides up to 3000 feet (the highest growing region for Garnacha grapes in Spain). The climate during the growing season is arid and blistering hot with cooling nights as a relief. The winter is very cold and never seems to end. Can grapes actually survive these conditions? Yes, but it’s probably not the best place for a vacation home! Those twisting and gnarly ancient head-pruned vines produce miniscule yields and incredible fruit concentration! This is only the 3rd release of the Breca; the 2010 was capped off with 94 Points from Robert Parker ‘s Wine Advocate, which stated, “Frankly, I was at a loss for words when I tasted it. It may be the most amazing wine I have ever tasted at this price point in over 3 decades…” Two vintages later, he may be saying the same for this newly released and spectacular 2012 Breca! But don’t wait for Bob, crank open this juicy treat! Afterall, as the review also suggested, “Consumers should fill their trunks with these beauties.” We could not agree more!

Tasting Notes - Dark ruby with purple highlights. Red and dark fruit aromas with floral, spice cake and mocha great the nose. On the palate, fleshy black raspberry and cherry compote flavors accompanied by loamy soil and pepper. This medium-bodied wine possesses supple tannins and closes with a long finish.

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#10) BODEGAS MONTECILLO 2010 VIÑA CUMBRE CRIANZA

Bodegas Montecillo was founded in 1874 in Spain’s Rioja Alta region. The winery was one of the first to adapt Bordeaux winemaking techniques to Spanish grapes, earning the reputation and prestige that it still enjoys today. Winemaker Maria Martinez Sierra has continued the unique quality and traditions of the winery, using 100% Tempranillo grapes aged in French oak barrels. Wine Spectator gave this wine the special designation of Best Value and ranked this wine #62 in its 'Top 100' wines of 2014. Delicious with red fruit, florals, tobacco and baking spice. It is bright, fruit forward and easy to drink.

#62 ON WINE SPECTATOR TOP 100 OF 2014
WINE SPECTATOR 90 POINTS - “The polished texture carries crisp flavors of tart cherry, fresh herb, anise and mineral, supported by light, firm tannins and lively acidity. Graceful, with balanced fruity and savory notes that give way to a spicy, floral finish. Drink now through 2022. 103,700 cases made. Special Designation: Best Value.

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Top Italian Wines of 2014

#1) ORNELLAIA 2011

#65 WINE SPECTATOR TOP 100 OF 2014
WINE SPECTATOR 96 POINTS - “A dark and inky red, featuring violet, black currant, cedar, sandalwood and iron aromas and flavors. Nonetheless, this comes across as elegant, even as the tannins prove formidable on the finish. A terrific young wine in the making. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2017 through 2035. 2,200 cases imported.” –BS

JAMES SUCKLING 96 POINTS - "This shows incredible concentration with dark-berry, dark-chocolate, mint and rosemary character. Full body with a superb depth of fruit and polished tannins. It’s chewy but caressing. This needs at least four or five years to come around. Powerful and intense. Yet it remains fresh and bright."

Winemaker's Comments - The sun-filled, early-maturing 2011 vintage perfectly expresses the qualities of Ornellaia. The wine appears an intense, youthful ruby red. The nose offers rich fruit that is fully ripe yet at the same time crisp and lively, backgrounded by delicate nuances of balsam and toastiness. On the palate, the powerful concentration immediately impresses, as do the tannins, massive yet silk-smooth and glossy, which allows the wine to completely fill the mouth but with no feeling of heaviness. The finish, near endless, is deliciously pungent and spicy, with a welcome crispness throughout.

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#2) FONTODI 2011 FLACCIANELLO

Tenuta Fontodi is Chianti’s class act. Renowned for its Super Tuscan Flaccianello and the Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon favorite Vigna del Sorbo, the estate’s Chianti Classico is unflinchingly reliable.  Winemaking in the timeless land of Chianti Classico dates back to the 8th century, and the term “Chianti” was applied to wine as far back as 1398, and the wholly organic Tenuta Fontodi is one of many existing estates that can trace their lineage back to these historic times. Flaccianello is one of the first mono-varietal Sangiovese Super Tuscans-- it began as a cru of grapes from the vineyard of the same name, the “Flaccianello della Pieve”; in 2001, however, Fontodi widened Flaccianello’s base to source from the estate’s best grapes. This big red wine, born in 1981, combines all the old-world characteristics of Sangiovese with modern vinification techniques. Fontodi is an all-time favorite of both Hi-Time staff and customers.

#14 WINE SPECTATOR 'TOP 100' 2014
WINE SPECTATOR 95 POINTS - “Beautiful deep ruby with incredible richness in aroma—blackberry, blueberry and plum—tempered by sweet spice from the oak. This offers mouth filling lushness, intense fruit, terrific balance and harmony, with a long, complex finish.—Non-blind Flaccianello vertical (July 2014). Best from 2017 through 2032. 4,000 cases made.”

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#3) PAOLO SCAVINO 2010 “BRIC DEL FIASC” BAROLO

WINE ENTHUSIAST 100 POINTS - “If a wine can truly be perfect, this is it. Displaying power, grace, depth and complexity, this Barolo delivers sublime Nebbiolo sensations including rose, underbrush, red cherry, leather, licorice, baking spices, clove, white pepper and balsamic notes. The intense flavors are balanced by velvety tannins and fantastic energy. Drink 2018–2038.”

WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - “The 2010 Barolo Bric del Fiasc was the first single vineyard expression made by Scavino in 1978. Next year, Scavino will release a special magnum of wine from the 1988 vintage. The wine was back then, and is now, fermented with a submerged cap. This is a bright and intense wine with a profound inner beauty and balance. The wine rolls off the tongue in silky waves. The finish is extra-long, fresh and bursting with energy. This is a wine to set aside for ten years or more. The tannins already show a good degree of softness, but this wine is at the humble start of its evolution. Drink: 2018-2035.”

ANTONIO GALLONI 95 POINTS - “Dark red fruit, iron, smoke, incense and orange peel are some of the many notes that flesh out in the 2010 Barolo Bric del Fiasc. A deep, fleshy Barolo, the Bric del Fiasc is incredibly polished and refined, with perhaps a bit less power than previous vintages, but more in the way of finesse. At this stage, the Bric del Fiasc comes across as not fully formed. It will be interesting to see what the next year brings.”

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#4) GALARDI 2011 TERRA DI LAVORO ROCCAMONFINA

The Galardi Terra di Lavoro is considered one of the top Italian wines by many wine critics, and it is Campania’s top rated wine year after year. The previous 14 vintages of Galardi Terra di Lavoro have all been rated 93 to 99 points by Robert Parker with 8 vintages rated 97 points or higher. The 2011 vintage has not yet been reviewed by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, but the 2011 was recently rated by James Suckling at 97 points. The Terra di Lavoro is a blend of 80% Aglianico and 20% Piedirosso grown organically on the slopes of the Roccamonfina Volcano. Only a few thousand bottles are produced each year.

Our notes - this wine has complex aromas of dark fruits, black olives, game and herbs with a smoky, volcanic ash undertone. It is structured and full-bodied with deep blackberry fruit, dark plums, and cured meat culminating in a long finish. This is a fascinating, complex wine which should be decanted for 1-2 hours if opened in the short term and will age for many years. It pairs well with game, red meat and other rich dishes.

JAMES SUCKLING 97 POINTS - “Complex aromas of blackberry, stones, cracked black pepper and tar. Full body with soft, round tannins and a juicy, fruity finish. Soulful and refined from this estate. This is a magical wine from Southern Italy.”

$64.95 750ml [302755] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#5) BOSCO AGOSTINO 2010 “NEIRANE” BAROLO

Andrea Bosco, along with his father (Agostino) and mother (Carla), represent the quintessential family-operated Piemontese winery. Long recognized by European critics, especially Decanter, as a “rising star”, Andrea’s winemaking skills continue to reach new heights and new accolades here in the US. In the past, Andrea has experimented using new small oak barrels not because he was interested in “chasing points” or creating a style of wine for a particular palate, but because he was interested in producing the best wine possible from his land. Beginning with the 2008 vintage, he, shall we say, “got it right.” The wines no longer see any aging in small barrels, instead they spend 24 months in large, neutral oak barrels of 1,200 liters (Botte Grande). You won’t find any oak on the nose or on the palate – just pure, unadulterated nebbiolo aromas of dried strawberries, white roses and tar.

#5 ON JAMES SUCKLING’S TOP 50 BAROLO 2010
JAMES SUCKLING 96 POINTS - “What gorgeous aromas of sliced strawberries and flowers. Full body, with silky tannins and a fabulous intensity. Such incredible depth and length. Best ever from here. A small producer you should know. Better in 2016.”

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#6) MONTEVERTINE 2010 ROSSO DI TOSCANA

90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, 5% Colorino - We look forward to tasting this wine each year, knowing who its ‘big brother’ is-- and (again!) it did not disappoint. It begins with a beautiful, sexy nose. Bright red fruits dominate with plums and raspberries and a touch of strawberry tea followed by notes of pomegranate and mixed savory wood scents. The palate is lush and flavorful with red berry fruits, black tea and graphite minerality that flow across the viscous sea of red-- so balanced, multifaceted as supple tannins move in tempo with the dance of fruit, herbals and wood.

ANTONIO GALLONI 92 POINTS - “A model of pure understatement and class, the 2010 Montevertine seems to hover above the palate. There is a sense of pure weightlessness in the 2010 that is marvelous to behold. The flavors remain bright and pretty much primary, so readers should consider cellaring bottles for at least a few years. Sweet, silky tannins frame the exceptionally polished finish”

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#7) IGINO ACCORDINI 2007 “LE BESSOLE” AMARONE

Amarone della Valpolicella, usually known as Amarone, is a dry red wine made primarily from Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella grapes. According to tradition, the grapes are allowed to dry on straw mats, which concentrates the sugars and flavors in the grapes. The grapes are then pressed and fermented, before being aged in oak barrels. The wine resulting from this labor-intensive process is very flavorful. The 2007 Le Bessole is voluptuous and generous in the mouth with remarkably fresh fruit including mulberry, cherry, kirsch, raspberry and baking spice. This medium-bodied Amarone is very approachable with soft, supple tannins. It is the perfect introduction for those wanting to try this classic Italian wine-at an affordable rarely seen in Amarone.

WINE ENTHUSIAST 92 POINTS - “This dense and concentrated Amarone offers an intense bouquet on marinated cherry, blackberry and tobacco. The palate delivers rich flaors of blackberry, prune, licorice and a touch of carob, along with round tannins ans soft acidity. It has layers of flaor and nice depth. Drink now through 2017.”

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#8) FELSINA 2010 CHIANTI CLASSICO “RANCIA”

The estates of Felsina, developed over more than a thousand years, still represent the basic drive of their work culture, despite the post-WWII exodus from the countryside by sharecropping families. The farms remain the same. Like all good farmers, their main concern is to protect the soil’s natural fertility, which they strive to do by keeping an open mind to new techniques, avoiding excess, and working in an experimental environment that embraces biodynamic production through the most modern technologies and innovations available worldwide.

WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - “The 2010 Chianti Classico Reserva Rancia is chiseled and focused. It offers a full spectrum of Sangiovese characteristics with balsamic herb and medicinal tones followed by crushed stone and delicate clove or nutmeg. Rancia is equally impressive in the mouth with firm structure and enduring fruit flavors.”

ANTONIO GALLONI 95 POINTS - “The 2010 Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia is cool, inward and reserved at this stage. Much less expressive than it was from barrel, today the 2010 appears to be in a closed phase. There is so much tension in the glass, though, and I can hardly wait to see where the 2010 goes over the coming years. A burst of mineral and floral infused fruit lingers on the polished, nuanced finish. Today, the 2010 seems to bring together the finesse of 2004 with the structure and power of the 2010. A pretty magical combination, if you ask me."

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#9) UCCELLIERA 2012 ROSSO DI MONTALCINO

Rosso’s from Montalcino are, in essence, “baby” Brunello. If you’ve always been enamored with wine from Montalcino, Uccelliera has to be one of the benchmarks. The wine is 100% Sangiovese, but we’re talking about a different clone than what is used in Chianti. Here we get a wine that has more of everything and by that I mean breadth and amplification when compared to Chianti Classico (which is why Chianti producers make a Riserva). With Uccelliera’s it’s an unadulterated love affair. It’s fresh, rich, and powerful, but being a Rosso di Montalcino, just plain easy to drink!

JAMES SUCKLING 93 POINTS - “Layers of red fruits with ruby stone, pine tree and balsamic on the nose. Fresh but round tannins with sufficient character of wild cherry and berries. Long, elegant finish. This is like an outstanding Brunello. Drink now, or better on 2016"

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#10) RICCARDO BARACCHI 2012 O’LILLO TOSCANA

On a recent trip to Italy, our Italian wine buyer Patty Quick had an opportunity to visit the exquisite Relaisil Falconiere hotel and Michelin-rated restaurant nestled between the old groves and vineyards of the Baracchi estate. This beautiful property dates to the 17th Century and is located on a slope just east of Cortona in picturesque Tuscany. While enjoying dinner at the property, Patty was fortunate to be served the BARACCHI O’LILLO red wine. Needless to say, this wine made a big impression on her! Upon her return, she was on a mission to track down the importer and see if we could bring it into Hi-Time. This wine has elegance, finesse and charm and will pair beautifully with a range of foods, including Italian favorites and meat dishes. Baracchi has become the most prominent estate winery in Cortona, and one of the most recognized in Tuscany. Recent press has created a strong demand for Baracchi wines in the US and solidified the brand’s position as one of the most sought after newcomers from Italy on the market.

WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS - “Round, vibrant and juicy, packing plenty of cherry, raspberry and spice flavors. Broad-shouldered and powerful, this remains focused on the fruit. Shows fine length, echoing cherry, spice and mineral notes. Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Best from 2016 through 2025.”

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Top South American Wines of 2014

#1) VIÑA COBOS BRAMARE 2011 'REBON VINEYARD' MALBEC

The wines of Viña Cobos are the result of the shared dream of Paul Hobbs and partners Andrea Marchiori and Luis Barraud, who have combined their rich experience to produce a premium expression of Malbec.  Their aspiration is to produce a Malbec of power and elegance unequalled anywhere in the world.  Indeed, the resulting wine, sourced from the Rebon Vineyard, displays their success and illustrates the lofty heights the grape is capable of attaining.  This wine reveals notes of dark florals with red and blue fruit enhanced by baking spices.  The palate is complex, lively and rich, layered with blueberry, cassis and Kirsch.  This wine is balanced, harmonious and complete. 

JAMES SUCKLING 96 POINTS - “Very intense aromas of blackberry, coffee bean, blue slate and dried flowers. Full body, refined texture with sexy fruit.  Fabulous length. This caresses every inch of your palate. Drink now or hold.”

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#2) CUVELIER LOS ANDES 2009 GRAND MALBEC

The winery is owned and operated by Baptiste Cuvelier and his dad, of Château Léoville-Poyferré situated in Saint-Julien in the heart of the Médoc. This elegant and classic wine is structured like a good school teacher. It has a lot to teach you about terroir and nuance. The Malbec is dark with extracted colors and a spicy nose and evolves in the mouth with lovely fruit, delicate essences of cinnamon, clove, black pepper and dulce de leche. Its refined touch yet lovely tannins rounds out through the finish.

WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - “The flagship is the 2009 Grand Malbec, a contender for Malbec of the vintage at this early stage. A glass-coating opaque purple color with legs that ooze down the glass, it offers up a beautiful bouquet of sandalwood, exotic spices, truffle, floral notes, red licorice, and black cherry. Voluptuous on the palate, this sweetly-fruited, dense, nicely proportioned Malbec will evolve for 4-5 years and deliver prime drinking from 2015 to 2029.”

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#3) TAPIZ 2009 BLACK TEARS MALBEC

The Black Tears bottling from Tapiz is an obvious reference to the dark staining of tears evident when pouring this delicious Malbec into the glass.  Remarkable for its balance, this wine is absolutely gorgeous, endowed with concentration, exceptional polish and finesse.  Sourced from Uco Valley, the climate and soil of the property give special characteristics to this impressive Malbec, which was aged 24 months in new French Oak. Deep, almost opaque ruby with significant staining of the tears.  Expressive notes of violets, dark fruits, vanilla and cocoa greet the nose.  On the palate, this wine is full-bodied, caressing the tongue with amazingly silky smooth tannins.  Blackberry, blueberry, black raspberry and chocolate linger on the very long finish.  This is an impressive, mouth-watering, polished and refined wine, which makes you want to reach for a second glass.

$49.95 750ml [382957] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#4) VENTISQUERO 2008 “VERTICE”

While Ventisquero’s Felipe Tosso and famed winemaker John Duval collaborate on all the Ventisquero wines from the “Grey” label on up, “Vertice” is their special project together. “Vertice” comes from the steepest, highest two ridges of the Apalta Vineyard and combines equal measure of Carménère (Felipe’s specialty) & Syrah (John Duval’s signature variety). The result is a wine that is both inky and immensely full-bodied and graceful with surprisingly pretty notes of violets and boysenberry. The stony, granite-based soils show most clearly in this wine with a long mineral finish and firm, fine-grained structure. Two years ago we discovered the Viña Ventisquero line from Chile. At the time we wrote, “WOW, what a lineup-- pure, multi-layered wines at unbeatable values,” adding several wines across many price points: we were most impressed with “the best of the best”.

Ventisquero owns over 4,000 acres across top growing areas in Chile, from Casablanca, Maipo, Apalta and more. The “Grey” wines represent the best blocks in the best vineyard from Ventisquero’s vast holdings. Winemaker Felipe Tosso is a star in Chile, but for these higher tier wines they have the added assistance of consultant John Duval, famed as the man entrusted to make Penfolds Grange for over 20 years. This collection is impressive and drinks well above their price tags that seem downright modest in the American market.

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#5) CAPATAZ 2011 MALBEC

In 2007 Darioush Kahledi from Napa Valley and Capataz estate vineyard owner Aria Mehrabi set out to farm and acquire limited amounts of high-elevation Malbec to produce a wine that balances Mendoza’s traditionally expressive varietal character in a rich, complex and age-worthy style. Partnering with local experts, Darioush winemaker Steve Devitt starts with 100% Malbec from vines ranging from 14 to over 70 years in age, situated on three vineyard estates nestled in the Andean foothills. The combination of rocky well-drained soil, high altitude and a long steady growing season produced an impeccable 2011 vintage.  Aromatic wild herbs, cassis, chicory and lavender introduce the 2011 Capataz.  Plenty of blackberries, dried cherry and spices create a rich saturated mouthfeel balanced with dark cocoa and espresso notes that lead into dense yet sweet and velvety tannins.  Notes of licorice, kirsch and clove add complexity to the finish.

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#6) TIKAL 2012 JUBILO

Tikal wines reflect the spirit of Mendoza: the sense of pride, love, celebration and even a bit of craziness. Ernesto Catena spent his childhood in the vineyards of Mendoza among wine-growers and local pundits. A skilled horseman, software developer and book editor, Ernesto pursues all that gives pleasure in life. This hedonism (in the best sense of the word) shows through in his wines. It is a style meant to provide enormous pleasure rather than provoke contemplation; an expression of emotion rather than intellect. He has named his wines with passion in mind: Patriota (Patriot), Amorio (Love Affair), Jubilo (Rejoice), and Locura (Madness).

WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - “An elegant and refined red, offering bountiful flavors of dark plum, roasted cherry and blackberry pie that are lush and open-textured. Intense notes of dark chocolate and raspberry preserves linger on the spice-infused finish.”

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#7) FLAHERTY 2011 RED BLEND

Flaherty is a small production, boutique winery in Chile.  Proprietors Ed Flaherty and Jen Hoover came to Chile in 1993 to work a harvest, fell in love with the country and never left.  Over the years, Ed worked with some of the top Chilean wineries, before Ed and Jen struck out on their own. Small quantities of this delicious Syrah-dominant blend are now being imported into the United States for us to enjoy.  This wine is deep purple in color with a garnet rim and notes of dark fruit, toasted oak and cinnamon.  On the palate, the fruit is fresh with blackberry, blue plum, dusty cocoa and baking spices.  This juicy, medium-bodied wine has very smooth tannins and is approachable now.

WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS -  “The 2011 Flaherty is an unusual blend with a base of Syrah complemented by Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo fermented in small bins that aged in barrel for 19 months in his garage in Aconcagua. It has sweet aromas of ripe fruits and flowery notes that make it quite showy, very clean and pure, elegant and complex. The palate is velvety with polished tannins and good acidity. The floral notes return in the aftertaste, but with with a restrained feeling. 10,479 bottles were filled. Drink now through 2020.”

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#8) RECUERDO MALBEC 2012, UCO VALLEY, MENDOZA

Recuerdo is an estate label for the innovative Vines of Mendoza project.  The property covers over 750 acres in the famed Vista Flores sub-zone in the Uco Valley of Mendoza.  Santiago Achaval from Achaval-Ferrer has been guiding the program since the first plantings in 2006.  Want to own your own winery in Argentina, but don’t know where to start?  Buy a “micro-winery” from The Vines of Mendoza.  Santiago Achaval and his team oversee the production of 360 small wines under this one roof—all from different small stakeholders.  The larger Vines of Mendoza project is something like a laboratory with hundreds of variations of what the estate can do.  Recuerdo is the “house brand,” but what a house!  With Santiago Achaval behind the wines we knew the Recuerdo would be elegant, refined, and beautiful Malbec.

WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - “The 2012 Recuerdo Malbec, from young vines in Vista Flores in the Uco Valley, has a complex bouquet of dried flowers, raspberries, blueberries and sweet vanilla. This pure Malbec from stony and sandy soils is aged in mostly third-use oak barrels with some wine kept in vats in order to preserve the fruit and freshness of the wine. The palate is medium-bodied, with great acidity and freshness, pure, focused flavors and great length.  Superb for the price. Bravo!”

$16.95 750ml [382918] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#9) MAIPE 2013 CABERNET RESERVE

A relative newcomer to the Argentine wine scene, Maipe wines burst onto the scene with its wonderful combination of quality and affordability.  From the eastern foothills of the Andes, the Maipe Cabernet Reserve benefits from its high altitude location of almost 3000 feet, contributing to the purity and intensity of fruit of this delicious wine.  100% hand-harvested with two-thirds aged in new French oak.  The 2012 vintage received a 92 Point score from Robert Parker in which the wine was described as "...beautiful, full-bodied texture, deep, rich, concentrated flavors and a long finish. For $15.00, it is impossible to find a Cabernet Sauvignon this good from anywhere else in the world.”  The 2013 vintage has not yet been rated, but based on our tasting, we expect rave reviews!" Deep ruby in color with classic Cabernet aromatics of Crème de Cassis and blackberries alongside bittersweet ganache. On the palate, full bodied with excellent concentration, ripe currants and blackberry fruit along with fig and cocoa.  This wine has nice structure with moderate tannins and can be enjoyed now or over the next several years.

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#10) DOÑA PAULA 2012 BLACK LABEL RED

Medium ruby in color, the aromas are enticing with dark cherry, plum and red currants. Baking spices, tobacco and fresh-tilled earth are also noticeable. On the palate, darker flavors emerge including blackberries, black cherries and licorice. The wine is savory with tannins which are present, but smooth. This wine will pair well with rack of lamb, steak or drink deliciously on its own.

JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - “A beautiful red here with light chocolate, berry and nutmeg character. Full body, with ultra-fine tannins and a long, long finish. All here. A blend of malbec, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot. Drink now”

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Top Southern Hemisphere Wines of 2014

#1) TWO HANDS 2012 BELLA'S GARDEN BAROSSA VALLEY SHIRAZ

Two Hands Wines was founded in early 1999 by Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz. The original aim shared by Michael and Richard was to make the best possible Shiraz-based wines from prized Shiraz-growing regions throughout Australia. Their intention was, and still is, to showcase the diversity of Australian Shiraz by highlighting regional characteristics and allowing the fruit to be the primary feature of the wines. Two Hands refers to the very personable approach taken with each parcel of grapes, no matter how big or small. The wines are carefully guided through the viticulture and winemaking process by Michael Twelftree.‘Quality without compromise’ is a core value that drives all Two Hands decisions so, not surprisingly, the wines have received international acclaim from respected wine critics, with Robert Parker proclaiming Two Hands as ‘...the finest negociant operation south of the equator...’

In November 2012, Two Hands was named in the Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 for the 10th consecutive year, an achievement that has never been equalled by any other winery the world over. We generally enjoy the process of putting together our December newsletters as we get to try some of the best wines (and spirits, beer, cigars, et al) that have been released throughout the year.  This wine was definitely a highlight of the newsletter-creating process for this humble editor! The nose exudes a kaleidoscope of fruits: mulberry, pomegranate, persimmon, boysenberry, cassis.  Dark spices weave their magic in and around the fruits as flecks of black tea, mint, dark floral perfume and midnight incense lend their voices to the olfactory crescendo.  Concentrated, rich, extracted. The palate is confident, filled with forward fruits of cassis and mixed red berries, red plum.  Amidst the fruit are streaks of earthy loam, underbrush, sandalwood, mint and a touch of cocoa and smoke.  Fine-grained tannins and ample acidity keep it lively, bode well for further joys once cellared (if you can keep yourself away).  Beautiful chiaroscura between power and finesse; complete stunner of a wine.

#16 WINE SPECTATOR "TOP 100" 2014
WINE SPECTATOR 95 POINTS - “Utterly seamless, focused, powerful and elegant, layered with cherry, boysenberry and red plum fruit, revealing glints of coffee, jasmine and cardamom that add extra nuances. Delivers complexity without extra weight. The finish won’t quit. Drink now through 2022."

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#2) HAMILTON RUSSELL 2012 PINOT NOIR

Hamilton Russell Vineyards - the most southerly wine estate in Africa and the closest to the sea - is located in the cool, maritime Walker Bay wine appellation, in a beautiful valley behind the old fishing village of Hermanus. The estate specializes in producing highly individual, terroir-driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are widely regarded as the best in South Africa and among the best in the New World. Quite young and evolving, this has lovely aromatics and beautiful fruit clarity, understated and refined, with a feminine quality that only very well-made Pinot Noir can offer, that helps give it its allure. The nose brings forth a light earthy component to the herbal, underbrush and spice nuance that sits over the assorted red fruit tones of cherry, currant and plum. Medium-bodied, silky textured, with sleek, finer-tuned tannins, there’s a fine line of acidity that gives brightness and juiciness to the gorgeous red berry fruit flavors that mimics the nose. Showcasing beautiful fruit definition with just the right savoriness, this has terrific balance and wonderful hang time on the finish.

#29 WINE SPECTATOR "TOP 100" 2014
WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - “Alluring, with gorgeous toasted spice and cherry confiture aromas, backed by silky red currant, damson plum and cherry fruit flavors.”

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#3) KALLESKE 2013 GREENOCK SHIRAZ

Greenock Shiraz is a single vineyard wine produced from low-yielding Shiraz vines on the Kalleske estate at Greenock, in the North-Western Barossa Valley.  Cuttings for these vines originate from a vineyard planted on the property in the late 1800s. Today, sixth and seventh generation family members meticulously tend the vines. Traditional winemaking and eighteen months maturation in American and French oak hogsheads has ensured a complex, full-bodied Shiraz which will reward long term cellaring. Greenock Shiraz is a true family estate wine - grown, vintaged and matured on the Kalleske estate. We fell for this one quite readily and quickly.  The nose is full of fruit, jammy berries, framboise, kirsch, dark plum, that mesh quite nicely with spice, cocoa, sweet tobacco and hints of mint and earth.  The palate continues with the theme: great fruit leads with raspberry and loganberry as baking spices, subtle earth, mint and a flourish of concentrated cherries on the finish.  The framework of integrated tannins and balanced acidity, the harmony achieved with the fruit, spice and earthy elements, bodes well for aging.

5 GOLD STAR WINE - “Recognising that it is among the elite of Australia’s wines thanks to the vignerons and winemaker’s abilities. The wine shows flavours with balance, flavour, complexity, intensity and freshness and the ability to improve in bottle. Wines with five gold stars can be served with pride in the company of the world’s best wines”. - Robert Geddes, Australian Wine Vintages 2015

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#4) DELAIRE GRAFF 2012 BOTSMASKOP

Some of you may remember this wine from last year when we were able bring it into the store in a very limited quantity. It quickly sold out and we were unable to satisfy our customer’s demands for more-- until now! The 2012 vintage is in and it’s another winner. This wine is a beautiful Bordeaux-style blend from the premiere winegrowing region of Stellenbosch on the western cape of South Africa. When the buyer and other Hi-Time staff tried it, we were blown away by this delicious wine! In a blind tasting, one would be hard pressed to guess where this hails from. The balance, complexity and length of this delicious bottling represents an astounding value, which competes very favorably with other red wines from around the world.

This wine begins to draw you in with its deep ruby color and the stained tears on the stemware give a preview of the nicely extracted wine. On the nose, dark fruit, red fruit and cassis are framed by well-integrated French oak, which is complementary rather than obtrusive. Baking spices, sweet pipe tobacco and a dusting of cocoa are evident.  A floral element and freshly tilled earth add to the complex bouquet. On the palate, a perfect union of fruit and tannin lay the groundwork for a marriage of flavors with enough acidity to provide lift and definition. The silky tannins envelop the Kirsch and dark berry flavors and caress the tongue, leading to a long finish. This is a wine with structure, but also elegance and finesse which can be enjoyed now or over the next five to eight years. Yealands Family Wines  has been awarded New Zealand’s Most Sustainable Winery and International Green Company of the Year 2014.

“Thinking differently is what we do at Yealands.  Crafing award-winning wines in harmony with nature has seen us lead the world in sustainable winegrowing.  But most importantly, it means great tasting wines which don’t cost the earth.”  - Peter Yealands

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#5) YALUMBA 2010 SHIRAZ VIOGNIER “HAND PICKED”

Made by Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, Yalumba, this wine reflects the traditions of the acclaimed wines from the Northern Rhône.  Yalumba is one of our ‘go to’ wines when talking Australia. And the Yalumba ‘Hand Picked’ Shiraz/Viognier 2010 is no exception. This is a wine with limited availability so we did our best to grab as much as we could from the distributor. As is the tradition in the Côte-Rôtie (and the rules of the appellation), the Syrah (or, in Australian verbiage, Shiraz) is co-fermented with a smaller percentage of the white varietal, Viognier. Yalumba’s Hand Picked Shiraz/Viognier undergoes that same winemaking process of co-fermentation. The Shiraz, along with a small amount of Viognier, are actually crushed and fermented together (what harmony!). The addition of the Viognier intensifies the color, adds an extra dimension and a wonderful fragrance to the bouquet. It also brings softness to that rich and powerful Barossa Shiraz. It’s as if the Shiraz underwent training in etiquette to tone down its demeanor! The result is a wine of elegance, a term not typically associated with Barossa Shiraz! Inside the bottle, the wine has the full and alluring flavors of Barossa along with a good level of acidity to make it lively. Enjoy!

WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - “Vibrant and complex, this offers a tightly woven expression of plum, blackberry and grapefruit peel flavors, coming together seamlessly as the finish expands. Shows presence and depth. Drink now through 2020. 150 cases imported.”

JAMES HALLIDAY 95 POINTS - “Vivid purple hue; the fresh and fragrant bouquet offers black fruits, violets and anise; the medium-bodied palate is fleshy and generous, with a backbone of fine tannins and a lingering cherry toast note on the fine boned finish.”

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#6) YEALANDS S1 SINGLE BLOCK "SEAVIEW" SAUVIGNON BLANC
ATAWERE VALLEY, MARLBOROUGH

Yealands’ Single Block wines are crafted from parcels of exceptional fruit from vineyard blocks recognised for the distinctive flavors they produce.  The sheltered S1 block is the most inland, on the edge of the sustainably managed Seaview Vineyard, on an elevated plateau – 160km above sea level. Located in some of Marlborough’s harshest conditions, strong coastal winds, low rainfall, high sunshine and cool nights, these low-yielding vines produce small berries, with thick skins and an intense varietal character. This S1 Sauv Blanc, in particular, showcases how intense and beautiful this varietal can be and why New Zealand is a top destination for fans of this grape.  Classic New Zealand nose: gooseberry, pink grapefruit, lemon grass, minerally well water, along with stonefruit (peach) and tropical (pineapple) streaks.  The palate continues the theme: grapefruit citrus, orange blossom and white peach flavors, along with excellent forward acidity, lead to reflections of minerality and sweet tropical fruit on the long finish.  Like a bit more of the sauvage in your Sauvignon Blanc?  This is the one.

$27.95 750ml [382815] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#7) PETER YEALANDS 2013 MARLBOROUGH PINOT NOIR
AWATERE & WAIRAU

Founder Peter Yealands’ vision is to create the world’s most environmentally-friendly wines. Constantly seeking new ways to work, he combines his love of the land with wines as bold as his ambition. These very approachable wines prove that sustainability always rewards with lasting quality. Certainly a pretty Pinot, there’s a bit of heft found within the depth of flavors and excellent acidity.  The nose is rife with ripe cherries, savory spice and a deft blend of dark florals and rose petal.  Cherries and mixed red fruits lead on the palate, while the forementioned acidity and soft tannins keep it balanced.  Light earthy spice joins the velvety fruit for the rolling finish.  Look for lamb and rosemary, tomato-based pastas or holiday parties for the best pairings (crowd-pleaser!).

$17.95 750ml [382748] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#8) YALUMBA 2013 "OLD BUSH VINE" GRENACHE

Yalumba was founded in 1849 by Samuel Smith, British migrant and English brewer, who had brought his family to Angaston (in the Barossa Valley, South Australia) seeking a new life. After purchasing a 30-acre parcel of land just beyond the southern-eastern boundary of Angaston, Smith and his son began planting the first vines by moonlight. Samuel named his patch “Yalumba” – aboriginal for “all the land around”. Five generations and 160 years later, Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, has grown in size and stature, embodying all that has made the Australian wine success story the envy of winemakers the world over. Often described as one of Australia’s unsung heroes, Grenache is naturally lighter in color than Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon but continually provides wonderful big fruit flavors. Yalumba is extremely fortunate to have some of the oldest Grenache vines in the Barossa, with fruit for this wine being sourced from vines planted in 1898!

Spiced red berries, mixed red fruits, cedar, mint and incense make for a pleasant nosing, as crimson florals and red wine candle join the fray.  Grenache can have such a sexy, inviting perfume and this old vine beauty has lost none of her charms over the years.  The palate smartly echoes the nose: mainly red fruits (raspberries, cherries, redcurrant), brown spices, subtle earthiness are girded by hints of herbals and mint, with a touch of briar.  Balanced acidity and supple tannins lead to a fruit-filled, nicely spiced finish.  Easy-drinking, sensous, satisfying.

$16.98 750ml [378925] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#9) BUITENVERWACHTING 2013 BAYTEN SAUVIGNON BLANC
CONSTANTIA VALLEY

Long referred to as “Bayten” by locals, Buitenverwachting (meaning beyond expectations) is located on the east-facing slopes of the Constantiaberg on the Cape of Good Hope.  Ocean breezes make this area one of South Africa’s coolest winegrowing areas, allowing for slow ripening, resulting in grapes that achieve full ripeness while retaining fresh acidity.  This wine was aged on the lees for three months prior to bottling.  Bayten offers a mélange of citrus and stone fruits with honeysuckle, jasmine and green notes on the nose.  The palate reveals peaches, apricots, lemon rind and lemongrass with a nice balance of richness and refreshing crispness on the finish.

WINE SPECTATOR #63 "TOP 100" 2014 - (Smart Buys)
WINE SPECTATOR 90 POINTS - “Very solid, with a crunchy feel along the edges and pure white peach, flint and honeysuckle notes racing along. Drink now. 4,000 cases imported.”

$13.98 750ml [382354] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

#10) HEARTLAND 2012 "SPICE TRADER" SHIRAZ/CABERNET
LANGHORNE CREEK

Heartland is that place between the vines with the best view of the gum trees. When the team behind Heartland first got together to start their winery all those years ago, the idea was to embrace the best Australian fruit could offer and create wines of balance and texture with a uniquely Australian identity. They found a pure expression of this identity in Langhorne Creek, which has remained the chief source of their fruit ever since.

This is their first vintage of Spice Trader.  The idea behind the name related to the spice traders of yore, when explorers would 'go the distance' to find exotic flavors.  They are co-conspirators or perhaps patrons of the hunt for elusive spices that fascinate our palates and capture our imaginations. Wine should be an adventure. And what an adventure! This blend of 58% Shiraz and 42% Cabernet Sauvignon is both epic and monstrous-- but not in the quite the way you think; it’s epic in the sense of depth in flavor, and monstrous in scope of value related to how absolutely delicious it is.  This one blew us away with how much ‘wow’ there is for the very fair price.  Do you know that the word awful once meant ‘full of awe’?  This wine has that kind of dichotomous nature.  The kids these days might express their approval by saying: “Dude! That’s sick!”  We really, really like this one and were astounded (and delighted!) it’s under 14 bucks a bottle.

The nose is loaded with darker fruits, incense, midnight florals, spiced meat, plenty of exotic spice and english tobacco.  The palate sees a mix of sweet red and black cherry fruit, darker berries, kept perfectly aloft with deft acidity and supple tannins.  Eastern/baking spices and a touch of cured meat support the mid-palate.  The finish is long and luxurious, receding slowly in a wake of dark fruits and spices.

WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "The 2012 Spice Trader Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon is deep garnet-purple in color and shows off a pronounced cassis and black plum nose with hints of eucalyptus, star anise, cloves and pepper. Medium to full-bodied with lots of mouth-filling and juicy blackberry flavor, it is supported by medium level, grainy tannins and refreshing acid before finishing with very good length. Drink it now to 2017."

$13.95 750ml [382619] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

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Top Greek Wines of 2014

HATZIDAKIS 2012 ASSYRTIKO, SANTORINI

Haridimos Hatzidakis, originally from Crete, now lives and makes wine on the volcanic island of Santorini.  His 2012 Santorini is a wonderfully full-flavored dry Greek white with a seam of ripe acidity at its heart that gives it vitality.  It is composed of 100% organically-farmed Assyrtico. The highly regarded English wine journal, Decanter, gave this wine 95 points!

DECANTER 95 POINTS - “Honey-baked fruits, banana leaf, jasmine, flowers, pine, lime and grapefruit lift.  Immediately lively and bold on the full-throttle, textured, harmonious palate:  mouthwatering freshness with tart lemon-curd ripeness, underlined by punchy minerality.”  British wine writer Jancis Robinson praises this white’s “wonderful combination of citrus and mineral with quite a broad ripe palate structure but no shortage of acidity.  Really attention-grabbing.”

$19.95 750ml [342353] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

DOMAINE PORTO CARRAS 2010 MAGNUS BACCATA, SITHONIA

Domaine Porto Carras is located on the western coast of the Sithonia Peninsula in Halkidiki, Greece, about 60 or 70 miles from Thessalonika. One of the largest wine estates in Greece, the spectacularly terraced and organically farmed vineyards are planted on the slopes of Mount Meliton above the Gulf of Torone. Famed French oenologist Emile Peynaud gave advice about the planting of Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals there. The 2010 Magnus Baccata, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, displays a deep purple color, intense aromas of fruits of the forest, sweet spices and chocolate with hints of delicate oak. Rich cherry and cassis flavors in the mouth lead to balanced tannins and rich aromatic aftertaste. This wine is great with red meats and matured cheeses with intense flavor.

DECANTER 3 STARS - “Bordeaux-like wine with rich cassis aromas. Dense dark fruit flavors end with a cedar oak quality.”

$19.95 750ml [342364] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

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Beer by Cathan Cokas

ANDERSON VALLEY WINTER SOLSTICE 6.9%ABV

Anderson Valley is a brewery that has been around only since 1987 that has taken up a strong hold in our 6-packs and 22 ounce shelves with its premiere and seasonal offerings. This brew is one of those delicious seasonal brews that we are happy to see back in our store. It is their take on a “winter warmer” with a deep amber hue, rich mouth feel and creamy finish. It is a perfect match for some of the holiday meals we will all be enjoying; baked ham, roasted walnuts, pumpkin pie and candied yams.

$9.47 12oz 6-pack [400725]

 
LOST COAST BREWERY WINTERBRAUN

Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe was started in 1990 by two women who had a desire to recreate the English pub environment they liked so much. They have not stopped growing since and have moved from their original location but haven’t lost their focus on creating beers and an environment to remember. Lost Coast is another California brewery offering delicious winter ale that perennially a crowd favorite. Unlike the usual “winter warmer” style, this is a brown ale with a rich chocolate taste with caramel and roasted chocolate malts. This beer has won many awards including silver at the World Beer Championships and Best ale at the Battle of the Brews Craft Cup. Along with a rating of 85 on the respected Beer Advocate rating site, this beer has been enjoyed by many and hopefully by you soon as well!

$8.97 12oz 6-pack [472479]

 
NINKASI SLEIGH'R

Reigning from our northern neighbors Oregon, Ninkasi is a brewery that our local beer geeks and casual purveyors of brews have desired and have come to love. With staples such as Tricerahops and Vanilla Oatis, Sleigh’R Alt beer is another one that fits their standard of quality. An Alt beer is something probably not a lot are familiar with but it is an ale brewed with ale yeast at colder lager temperatures. Brewing notes aside, this creates a more full bodied beer that is a European favorite. Ninkasi though wanted to put their own twist on this traditional style beer and amped it up with some more ingredients to give you that rich malt backbone to accompany the higher alcohol that makes up this double alt ale. They recommended pairing this delectable treat with; beef, lamb, duck, strong cheeses, shellfish or chocolate desserts.

$9.97 12oz 6-pack [475213]

 
SHINER HOLIDAY CHEER

Now whether you’re a religious beer drinker or someone who just enjoys one on occasion, Shiner is a brewery and beer most of us are all familiar with. Riding in on horseback from Texas, not really but that would be cool; Shiner Holiday Cheer is a beer that throws a Texas sized curveball at the winter beer world. Most holiday beers are brewed with a variety of winter spices to create a winter warmer style that has become almost mundane in its application by brewers worldwide. That’s where Shiner wanted to change it up and offer something more Texas style and bring us a holiday beer packed with pecans and peaches. Yes, I know weird huh? But don’t doubt it till you try it. Attending one our biggest distributor tastings, this beer struck us as being just the right amount of different that the winter beer market needed to have. It approaches the winter warmer style a little differently and instead bringing the spices in to warm you up; they decide the caramelized sweetness of this brew could do the trick Texas style. From us and from Shiner, Cheers!

$8.97 12oz 6-pack [472197]

 
SKA BREWING EUPHORIA PALE ALE CANS

If you have been recently reading our beer articles, you would know that Ska Brewing is a brewery coming from Colorado that we are extremely excited to have. It is a beer that they brew in collaboration with Venture snowboards as a beer meant for enjoying while riding the slopes. (Which should make all southern Californians jealous of their never ending abundance of snow) This early arrival to our shelves in the category of winter seasonal is a welcome guest that is sure to be a southern California favorite due to its blend of beer flavors. It is categorized as a pale ale but brings with it some rich chocolate malt notes that create that traditional winter warmer backbone but then also smacks your palate with the local favorite grapefruit hop flavor that is a constantly demanded flavor. So whether you are on the beach in southern California or actually shredding the slopes, this beer offers a glimpse of both sides of beer tastes and blends them perfectly together for your enjoyment!

$10.97 12oz 6-pack [474689]

 
ANCHOR STEAM CHRISTMAS ALE

Now if you are a dedicated perennial reader of these beer articles, (I know you all are) then you would notice that we did a write up on the same exact beer last year during the holidays. Now you think that’s probably us just being lazy but au contraire, it’s actually more paying respects to where its due to the brewers who are creative enough ( like ourselves) to give you something new every year. Anchor brewing company never brews the same Christmas beer twice and like their ingredient list, their labels change as well. In celebration of 40 years of brewing this evolving Christmas beer they donned the cover of this year’s label with the Giant Sequoia. Being from San Francisco and clinging to their tree hugging roots, they chose the Giant Sequoia in respect to the 150 year anniversary of the Yosemite Act signed by Lincoln that created the first California State Park and set the grounds for all the rest to come. While usually beer write ups focus on the tasting notes and what this beer would go well with, we thought we would approach this like we were Santa. But instead of leaving candy canes and lottery tickets in your stocking, we thought we would leave you with a pint full of mystery to enjoy and discover that is coming from minds that never stop working to give you something new. Cheers!

$11.97 12oz 6-pack [473030]

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December Spirits

Selvarey Rum - In much of the world, rum is worshiped as the pinnacle of civilization. Yet too many Americans associate the sugarcane spirit with cartoon pirates, cruise ship blenders and hangovers. Selvarey (in Spanish, Selva = Jungle and Rey = King), is determined to change what you expect from your rum.
  • The White, a delicate blend of 3 and 5 year old rums aged in bourbon casks, is pure enough to be sipped on the rocks.
  • The Cacao, a rich 5 year old rum infused with locally sourced chocolate, is out of this world delicious.

Special Pricing through the end of December, 2014!

SELVAREY WHITE

Co-founded by musician Bruno Mars, Selvarey (pronounced Sel-vuh-ray) is far from just another celebrity brand. Rather, Mars worked with legendary master blender Don Francisco “Pancho” Fernandez, the former Cuban Minister of Rum and thirty-five year veteran of Havana Club, to create a new standard of white rum. In the midst of sugarcane fields on the coast of Panama, Don Pancho crafts Selvarey White from a blend of three and five-year-old rums, distilled in 1922 copper column stills, aged in American oak and carbon filtered to remove the color without losing the deep flavors imparted in the aging process. The 3 year-old rum brings the youth and vibrancy which is rounded off by the full-bodied richness of the mature 5 year old. Unlike many white rums, Selvarey has been painstakingly designed with the distinct goal of being fine enough to sip on the rocks. But it has garnered an incredible amount of press for its prowess as a mixer in high-end cocktails. It’s already earned numerous accolades including a 94 rating from the Tasting Panel Magazine, the highest rating ever awarded to a white rum in the history of the publication.

Sale $20.98 Normally $25.99 750ml [104711] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

SELVAREY CACAO

With Selvarey Cacao, Don Pancho hand selects a rich five-year-old rum whose inherent flavor is brought out by the infusion of natural chocolate. The result is a spirit that elevates coffee cocktails, mudslides, or chocolate martinis into a luxury experience yet it’s an absolute a pleasure just to sip on its own. Selvarey Cacao has quickly become one of the most awarded new spirits in recent memory, receiving an astounding 95 rating from the Tasting Panel Magazine as well as winning the gold medal at the 2014 Miami Rum Fest and the coveted Chairman’s Trophy at the 2014 Ultimate Spirits Challenge in New York City, the first flavored rum ever to do so.

Sale $24.99 Normally $29.99 750ml [104710] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

DELAMAIN COGNAC 'RESERVE DE LA FAMILLE'  ABV 43%

Réserve de la Famille was historically reserved strictly for the Delamain family and guests. Its defining feature is that it is not a blend but a single-estate bottling from one barrel aged for 60 years, the maximum period over which a Cognac can improve in cask. This cognac is graceful, yet full-bodied and flavorful with a saturation on the palate that reveals the maturity of lush fruit that flourishes within the Grande Champagne region. Recently Reserve de la Famille was one of eight in 2013 inducted into F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal Hall of Fame, which includes only 120 spirits from the entire globe. The Réserve de la Famille’s powerful perfume and lengthy fragrance showcases floral touches rare for its age, in addition to dry grapes, almonds and the rich and concentrated, slightly cheesy and overripe fruit aromas known as rancio.

$599.99 750ml [163018] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

LAUBADE ARMAGNAC 1952

Château de Laubade was built in 1870 and is today the premier Armagnac property, composed of 260 acres of single vineyard. It is located in Sorbets d’Armagnac, in the heart of the noblest area of the appellation: the Bas Armagnac. The Lesgourgues family has been running the estate since 1974. Throughout the generations, some prestigious figures have striven for Château de Laubade’s fame, always being highly involved in the vanguard techniques in terms of agronomy and crafting brandies. Since 1998, Arnaud and Denis Lesgourgues, as the third generation, have been actively involved in the quest of excellence, to make Château de Laubade an undisputed reference in the Armagnac category. In 2010, Château de Laubade, celebrated its 140 years of history, with a superb ceremony in the château’s cellars, organized around a gastronomic dinner prepared by Alain Dutournier,( 2-star Michelin) Chef of the Carré des Feuillant restaurant in Paris. For the occasion, a Laubade 1910 was opened and tasted by the 140 prestigious guests coming from all over the world.

$1099.99 750ml [100991] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

LHERAUD XO CHARLES VII

Passion is more than a word with the Lhérauds. It is total dedication. Heady, exhausting and all-encompassing. Day after day, in this community of Charente which saw the birth of the family centuries ago, the Lhérauds work together as one, writing a saga in which each one plays a unique role.

Tasting notes by Markus Del Monego: "Full-bodied, complex and opulent, expressing a wide range of notes, with hints of vanilla, roasted coffee beans and hazelnuts. A fine balance and a long finish."

$479.99 750ml [105749]

 

HINE TRIOMPHE DECANTER

The Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie that compose TRIOMPHE are unique. They were selected and put aside 50 to 60 years ago especially for the TRIOMPHE blend based on their exceptional complexity, finesse and delicacy. First impression: complexity. Sensory journey: Incomparable mellowness, roundness and finesse.

Blend: Triomphe is an exceptional blend of over 50 selected rare cognacs, coming exclusively from the Grande Champagne district.

$799.99 750ml [104034] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

THE EXCEPTIONAL GRAIN BY SUTCLIFFE & SON

A blend of very special aged Scotch grain whiskies, selected from several different distilleries, each barrel chosen for its distinctive & memorable characteristics. While others blend to produce year-in, year-out consistency, each edition of THE EXCEPTIONAL GRAIN will offer a Whisky that is authentically individual, possessed of its own qualitative and stylistic distinction. We believe that, with this inaugural edition, we have achieved the perfect balance necessary to be named THE EXCEPTIONAL GRAIN by Sutcliffe & Son... the nuance and elegance of great grain coupled with depth and structure achieved through gentle yet vigilant aging. "On the nose, a faint of green apples appear and softly caresses the nostrils, while on the palate, honey rides on the tongue in the beginning and finish line as sherry and spice linger mid-palate. The finish is incredibly long and moves in a “de capo al fine” movement, where once one thinks the ending to a song is just about to halt it continues to repeat another measure before it hits the final double-bar ending. Kettle corn kicks in that eventually leads to citrus and crushed blueberries. Then, the sweetness evaporates and I am left with almond skins on my tongue. During the second movement, the mouthfeel and flavor get completely bone dry, but on the 3rd try, I am greeted with floral tones—rose petals to be exact—that linger to fondant, cream and vanilla. This is sourced from 8 year old Loch Lomand Distillery, 13 Year North British Distillery and 30 year old Carsebridge Distillery." - Linh Do

$85.99 750ml [104095] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

REISETBAUER APRICOT BRANDY 375ml

Hans Reisetbauer is a distiller, fruit-grower, farmer, forester, machine-builder and traveller. He started with apples in 1990 and never looked back. He won the Falstaff Spirit Trophy 2014 and was named best Austrian Distiller.

Notes: Intense aroma, fresh-fruity, typical ripe yet elegant stone-fruit notes; soft and creamy on the palate with silky, mellow fruitiness.

$81.99 375ml [102250] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

RHUM CLÉMENT CUVÉE HOMÉRE

Clément is an AOC, Rhum Agricole which can only be distilled from select, fresh sugar cane juice that has been naturally fermented before being expertly distilled and matured; the masterfully blended Cuvee Homere is named to honor Homere Clement, the man commonly understood to be the creator of what is called, Rhum Agricole. It is currently crafted from an assemblage of the 1991,1996,1999 Vintages of Rhum Clement. The aromas imply sugar cane, oily nuts, dried fruit (raisin, banana, plum, pineapple, quince), creamy butter and clean spice. The flavors are intricately elegant building on the oily/fruity aromas with supple herbs and spices (fennel, tarragon, nutmeg, flowers,) all suspended in a perceived sweetness. The finish is dry, long and lissome, beautifully displaying the many aromas and flavors over and over. Try this neat with time to enjoy it. This also comes in a handsome decanter to add to the 'presentation' value.

$87.99 750ml [166415] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

DEL MAGUEY MEZCAL 'IBERICO'

Ron Cooper, Del Maguey Single Village™ Mezcal’s founder, and Chef José Andrés, and his team at ThinkFoodGroup, worked collaboratively to create Del Maguey Ibérico, a unique mezcal made with Ibérico de Bellota ham, the legendary ham made of free-range, acorn-fed, black-footed Ibérico pigs from Spain. This expression of Del Maguey has a spicy floral nose of carnation, tropical aromatics of gardenia and jasmine, ripe pear, dark fig, notes of wet green hay and forest floor. It enters the mouth like a caramel, and is round, soft and gentle, full-bodied, with a big middle palate. The long finish tastes of roasted root vegetables and umami, leaving the mouth with terracotta, a slate-like minerality and a touch of salinity.

$189.99 750ml [104854] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

FUENTESECA RESERVA EXTRA ANEJO 18 YEAR

With a soft golden luster and light viscosity, the Fuenteseca 18yr is at first glance a refreshingly un-manipulated spirit, lacking the added coloring and accentuated flavorings common among more commercialized extra añejo tequilas. Opening the cork closure reveals light aromas of pear and jasmine flower, with an enticing dry wood spice. The entry is rich, round and creamy with hints of granny smith apple and soft vanilla. Cedar and sandalwood notes gradually emerge, along with a moderate acidity. The extended finish is clean and balanced with a trail of minty green apple.

$529.99 750ml [104384] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

FUENTESECA RESERVA EXTRA ANEJO 12 YEAR

An enticing bronze hue and rich, oily viscosity build anticipation that is quickly rewarded once the bottle is opened. Lush aromas of red apple and soft floral vanilla lead to a moderate woodiness displaying dry apricot, toasted almond and dark caramel, with a subtle pepperiness. A slightly higher alcohol proof extends a semisweet finish of buttered toast and green tea.

$279.99 750ml [104386] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button


Kavalan Whisky

By utilising Taiwan’s unique natural resources and remarkable technological skills, aiming for the first whisky distillery in Taiwan, Kavalan distillery of King Car Group was founded. Kavalan group held their initial hopes and would not give up, aiming to establish the solid foundation of the distillery. The effort goes into every drop of newly created spirit and every seasoned cask they choose. Coupled with the mastery of the blender, they ensure the silky smoothness and distinctive flavors of Kavalan whisky. The first bottle of Kavalan was released in December 2008 and now it is their best-selling expression. The recipe of classic Kavalan is complex and contains different types of casks- fresh bourbon, fresh sherry and refill casks rendering a spirit with multilayers of fruity and floral notes.

 

KAVALAN SHERRY OAK SINGLE MALT WHISKY

Kavalan Sherry Oak single malt whisky is purposely reduced in strength from our best-seller of Solist Sherry expression with Kavalan spring water to 46% abv. This new release may not be a single cask strength whisky, it nevertheless retains all the essential qualities of Kavalan sherry single malt. With the combination of Kavalan natural water, Kavalan Sherry Oak is incredibly smooth with soft sweetness lingering over unique flavours. Kavalan Sherry Oak is easy to drink and could be a perfect malt whisky to share with friends and family on most occasions. 117.2 proof.

$169.99 750ml [105087] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

KAVALAN SOLIST  VINHO SINGLE MALT WHISKY

Vinho is fully matured in used American oak wine barrels that have been toasted and recharred in a way that brings out fruity vanilla notes from the whisky and wood overlaid on a delicate background of complex fruitiness. The oak casks are made from American oak that has been seasoned in the open air for at least 24 months. The oak is slow-grown which results in a greater release of flavors into the whisky. This reduces the astringent effect of tannins and releases more vanilla spiciness and hints of herbs such as dill and lemon grass. The result is softness and added complexity. 118.8 proof.

$149.99 750ml [105088] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

KAVALAN EX-BOURBON OAK SINGLE MALT WHISKY

Kavalan ex-Bourbon Oak single malt whisky is purposely reduced in strength from our already popular Solist ex-Bourbon expression with Kavalan spring water to 46% abv. This new release may not be a single cask strength whisky; it nevertheless retains all the essential qualities of Kavalan ex-bourbon single malt. Kavalan ex-Bourbon Oak is incredibly smooth with soft sweetness lingering over unique flavors. It's easy to drink and is a perfect malt whisky to share with friends and family on most occasions-- especially during the holiday season.

$169.99 750ml [187596] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

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Sake

DASSAI BEYOND DAIGINJO

The theme underlying Dassai sake-- "Making sake is making dreams: opening a new era of sake." This means that they never become complacent with existing tradition and handcrafted techniques, but rather want to reform and revolutionize how some things are done, and in so doing make superior sake. "Beyond" sake reflects this philosophy-- it is the ultimate expression of their 'pushing the boundaries', as it were, to create the best sake possible. The milling rate and brewing process are secret-- but suffice it to say, Dassai has gone beyond conventional methods to create Beyond.

$599.99 720ml [104114]

 

DAISHICHI HOUREKI JDG

This is a free run drops junmai daiginjo made by the traditional kimoto method and designed to be served chilled. This carefully matured sake gives sweet-sour accents and boasts an exquisite, fruity aroma that envelops you in its gentle, creamy perfume. It has received great praise, thanks to its particularly well-balanced body and unparalleled richness. Only a limited number of bottles of this exclusive sake are produced each year. This is the only kimoto-based, junmai sake to have won the Gold Medal in the Japan Brewing Society's national competition. The name Houreki comes from the name of the era in which the Daishichi Sake Brewery was established (1752).

$189.99 720ml [471145] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

KYOKUSEN JUNMAI DAIGINJO

Attractively redolent of mint. On the palate, mint combines with ripe cantaloupe making Kyokusen a most flavorful sake. Amino acids (umami) contribute to the round texture, and subtle sweetness in the long, complex finish. Supremely elegant.

$159.99 720ml [471149]

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December Trio - Three cigars for the holidays: Mild to Medium to Full!

OLIVA CONNECTICUT RESERVE TUBO TORO $8.49 [117231]
Connecticut Reserve is blended from Nicaraguan long fillers and binder. Finished with only the finest Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, this medium-bodied cigar shows rich flavors as a smooth, silky smoke.

Blending Notes - This mellow cigar is not short on flavor with subtle notes of wood, coffee and cream.

"A well-constructed and ultra-consistent cigar covered with a golden colored wrapper with only the slightest of veins. Flavors of oak, nuts, and cream accented by a touch of earth and spice along a perfect dram and a razor sharp burn. Mild to medium bodied." - Cigar Snob Jan./Feb. 2014, Oliva Connecticut Reserve Toro

MY FATHER LA ANTIQUEDAD TORO $9.99 [105387]
La Antiguedad (The Antiquity) is the Garcia's second project to be developed after the mega success of Flor de las Antillas, in which they will once again embrace the authenticity and historic value of the original Cuban art. Created by master blenders Jose "Don" Pepin Garcia and Jaime Garcia, La Antiguedad is a super-premium cigar handcrafted in Nicaragua, using the world's finest Cuban seed Nicaraguan grown tobacco. This addition to the My Father Cigars portfolio will continue to showcase the Garcia's Cuban heritage and respect for tradition. The filler tobacco for La Antiguedad is cultivated entirely in Nicaragua on the farms of San Rafael, Las Quebradas, and San Jose, all privately owned and operated properties of My Father Cigars. These tobaccos undergo a very strict and rigorous curing process of no less than three and a half years to guarantee exceptional quality. The Garcia family classifies the exquisite blend found in La Antiguedad as medium to full in strength, which offers complex yet balanced flavors. Finished with a Habano Ecuador rosado oscuro wrapper.

" Beautifully box-pressed with a dark, flawless wrapper and pristine cap. Tightly packed tobacco results in a firm draw that imparts leather, mesquite and mineral notes." -Cigar Aficionado, Cigar Insider, July 15, 2014

ROCKY PATEL SUPER LIGERO $6.65 [105821]
Super Ligero is a robust and full-bodied cigar that starts off with a blast of bold flavor accompanied by a slight woodiness. There is a lingering spice with nuances of cinnamon and white pepper. The finish is hearty with a sweet aftertaste.

"Fans of strong cigars will naturally gravitate towards the Super Ligero, as it was blended to be the most full-bodied smoke that Rocky Patel has released in years. The blend draws its power from a combination of Cuban-seed Honduran San Agustín wrapper and Costa Rican ligero tobacco that Rocky Patel says is proprietary to the company. The Rocky Patel Super Ligero blend draws its power from a combination of Cuban-seed Honduran San Agustín wrapper and Costa Rican ligero tobacco that Rocky Patel says is proprietary to the company. The bold lettering and oversized band are good indicators of the hearty blend, but the price comes in relatively low, as no cigar in the line retails for more than $8.00. It comes in four sizes: Robusto, 5 inches by 50 ring gauge; Toro, 6 1/2 by 52; Sixty, 6 by 60; and Lancero, 7 1/2 by 38." -cigaraficionado.com, October 9, 2014, Gregory Mottola

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