An Amazing Cab-blend from a 100 Point Winemaker!
Winemaker Matt Dees has the kind of resume that makes other winemakers green with envy. Having previously worked at other noteworthy estates such as Staglin in Napa, and Craggy Range in New Zealand, Matt has learned how to coax the best out of several different grapes grown in a variety of climates. And now, the wines Matt has made at Jonata have earned as high as 100 points!
Owned by Stan Kroenke (who also owns Screaming Eagle), Jonata is located in Ballard Canyon, just south of Los Olivos and is focused on Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. The entire Jonata property is comprised of sand, with varying amounts of clay. The vineyards are sustainably farmed (herbicides and pesticides don't even enter the conversation), and the area enjoys very cool nights due to winds coming off the Pacific Ocean, mixed with very warm days during the summer months. This helps to create wines of exceptional structure, intensity, and ageability…and it's not uncommon for these Jonata wines to earn 97-100 points from the critics!
While the Jonata wines are meant to age gracefully in the cellar, Matt selects some of the more approachable barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon and bottles them under The Paring label. By doing this, you quite literally get a wine that is a "chip off the old block"! This 2015 Cabernet blend has been aged in French oak barrels, of which 55% of them were new. This is something that is typically reserved for Cabernets that sell for 3-5 times this price! Matt then increases complexity and nuance by blending in Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Petit Verdot costs more than Cabernet Sauvignon, so again, you get something reserved for a wine that typically costs more. We can only imagine the conversations that go back-and-forth between Stan and Matt!
THE PARING 2015 PROPRIETARY RED CALIFORNIA
So if you're looking for a Cabernet-blend that packs a lot of flavor for a rather modest price...then today is your day!
JEB DUNNUCK 92 POINTS - "The 2015 Red Wine is the Bordeaux blend of the estate and is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, and the balance Merlot and Petit Verdot, all from declassified Jonata lots. Its deep, inky purple color is followed by a rich, powerful wine that's loaded with notions of blackcurrants, unsmoked tobacco, graphite, and crushed rocks. With background oak, full body, ripe yet present tannins, and a great finish, it's going to keep for at least 7-8 years."
San Giusto A Rentennano: Wines of Power, Structure and Class!
ORGANICALLY FARMED ESTATE
Brunellos from Montalcino don't have a monopoly on full-bodied and well-structured Sangiovese wines; in fact, one of our favorite wineries for that style is without a doubt San Giusto a Rentennano. Lying among the rolling Mediterranean hills of southern Chianti, closer to Sienna than Florence, the estate dates to medieval periods when it was a monastery for nuns, and subsequently served as a regional fortress between the warring city-states. Since 1914, however, it's been owned by the more down-to-earth Martini di Cigala family who now use its ancient cellars to age their wine. Their winemaking is a great example of the modernization of tradition: they grow their grapes organically, ferment with native yeast in neutral containers, and only lightly filter before bottling; they also take advantage of modern viticultural techniques such as significant crop-thinning to concentrate the grapes on the vine, employ modern pressing techniques that extract only the finest quality of juice and tannin, and age a portion of their wine in French barriques. While all of San Giusto's wines offer a powerful expression of Sangiovese, the three that we're featuring offer distinct levels of structure, depth, and class.
SAN GIUSTO A RENTENNANO 2017 CHIANTI CLASSICO
The "classic" Chianti Classico, composed of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo, offers the earliest drinkability. Aged for 11 months in larger format barrels, it's also the most primal of the three. Despite the particularly hot Summer, San Giusto's scrupulous selection for higher-quality grapes saved the wine from being over-baked and flabby.
ANTONIO GALLONI, VINOUS 92 POINTS - "...rich, ample and beautifully textured, with all of the natural richness of the year on display. Super-ripe dark cherry, plum, mocha, spice and licorice infuse a decidedly dark, brooding Chianti Classico. A dollop of whole clusters adds freshness and perfume, but readers should expect a big, potent Chianti Classico with serious fruit intensity as well as structure. I would prefer to cellar the 2017 to allow some of the baby fat to melt away."
This reserve wine, composed of 97% Sangiovese and 3% Canaiolo, is partly aged in smaller French oak barrels for 20 months, which helps in polishing up such a dense style of Chianti. The 2016 vintage was exceptional for a balance of ripe aromas and crisp, dense structure, which certainly made San Giusto's job easier! While this is a wine that will improve over the next 4-8 years, you can decant for an hour or so, and pair with grilled meats or heartier vegetable dishes.
ANTONIO GALLONI, VINOUS 95 POINTS - "...a super-elegant, perfumed wine. Classy and polished, with exceptional balance, the 2016 has so much to offer. All the best elements of the house style come together in a deep, layered Chianti Classico that oozes with class. Super-ripe dark cherry, plum, lavender, spice and menthol build into the finely knit, delineated finish...Don't miss it!"
WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "The 2016 Chianti Classico Riserva Le Baroncole is a beautiful wine that delivers a very convincing performance as soon as you venture your happy nose into the glass. The wine is inky dark in appearance, yet brilliant hues of dark ruby and garnet shine bright from within. There is a moment of austerity on the bouquet, with dark aromas of slate and blackberry that slowly unwind and relax to producer softer aromas of red cherry and candied plum. This wine's natural range and distance shows more latitude than you may expect. This Riserva is a real beauty, and this vintage is something truly special. The blend is 97% Sangiovese with 3% Canaiolo, and the wine ages in both barrique and tonneaux for 20 months. Some 15,600 bottles and 200 magnums were produced."
San Giusto a Rentennano's flagship wine is 100% Sangiovese picked from the best lots and aged for 22 months in small French oak barrels along with larger formats. The result is one of the finest full-body, structured reds in the world, with exceptional depth and ripe texture from a celebrated warm and dry vintage. This was our wine buyer's #1 pick for the top Italian wines of 2019. While this wine will take 10 years (and more) of ageing in stride, you can decant for several hours and enjoy with the richest of meals.
ANTONIO GALLONI, VINOUS 98 POINTS - "...towers in the glass with huge, dark fruit to match its powerful, vertical structure. Ample and expansive on the palate, with huge textural depth, the 2015 is a total stunner. The darker, more muscular side of Sangiovese emerges in this gorgeous, absolutely stunning wine. Black cherry, lavender, spice and smoke overtones fill out the wine's big frame effortlessly...The 2015 Percarlo is a riveting wine readers will not want to miss."
This 93 Point Sauvignon Blanc Rocks Our World!!!
It's not often that lightning strikes twice, but it has in this instance. Hot off the heels of their 94 point Cabernet Sauvignon that was featured on our very own "Top Cabernet" list comes another incredible wine from Tom Gamble!
Some people think that Sauvignon Blanc is just a warm-weather wine, but those of us in the industry (buyers, sommeliers, critics, etc.) will tell you that this wine is fantastic all year long, as it pairs beautifully with a wide variety of foods, and offers a refreshing citrus quality that sometimes Chardonnay just can't do. Last year's Sauvignon Blanc was one of our favorites, and Gamble Family has outdone themselves with the newly-released 2018 vintage. In fact, this wine ties for the 2nd highest scoring California Sauvignon Blanc reviewed by Wine Spectator in the last two years!!
GAMBLE 2018 SAUVIGNON BLANC YOUNTVILLE
This wine comes exclusively from the Gamble Family's vineyard in Yountville, and was aged in a combination of new oak, used oak, and stainless steel. The twelve-acre Gamble Vineyard sits at the northerly edge of the Yountville Appellation in the geographic center of Napa Valley. This superb site, framed by rugged mountains to the east and west and bound by two rivers, is warm enough to develop Sauvignon Blanc's tropical fruit flavors, yet cool enough to retain its natural fruit balance and crispness. The fruit is hand-harvested cold, in the early hours of the day, and taken directly to the press to preserve fruit and flavor integrity. The Gamble Family's winery and vineyards are certified Napa Green and certified by Fish Friendly Farming.
WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "Offers intriguing, distinctive notes of candied ginger and marmalade, with a whiff of beeswax up front, leading to a mouthwatering, fresh mix of Asian pear, white grapefruit and peach flavors. Appealingly precise, with deft acidity imparting focus. Refreshing finish. Drink now through 2029. 1,900 cases made."
High Scoring Bordeaux that Over-delivers for the Price Point!
The 2016 Chateau La Prade is a great way to start the year! Overflowing with rich, dark fruits enveloped in satiny smooth tannins, this is an easy wine to pick for your Tuesday night drinker. As you probably know by now, 2016 in Bordeaux was an exceptional vintage with well ripened fruit and exceptional balance and freshness. The beauty of the vintage is the quality extends from the higher priced Classified Growths and Grand Cru Classe's to the more reasonably priced wines. A perfect example is this wine from Chateau La Prade which received 92 Point scores from both Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator.
The review from the Wine Advocate calls this wine, "Full-bodied, rich and plushly textured, the decadent black fruit and spicy layers deliver a very long, impactful finish." This wine is every bit of that, delivering pleasure with every sip until the bottle is completely empty. The Wine Spectator notes, "The vibrant plum and blueberry fruit is rounded and generous in feel."
The tiny appellation of Cotes de Francs is located on the right bank of Bordeuax near its famous neighbors of St Emilion and Pomerol. The terroir of Cotes de Francs consists of clay and limestone soil, perfectly suited to Merlot which makes up the majority of the blend augmented with Cabernet Franc adding freshness and floral notes.
Nicolas Thienpont whose family owns Vieux Chateau Certan and Le Pin has made improvements to the vineyards and cellar since purchasing the estate in 2000. The grapes are harvested by hand and aged in a combination of new and older French oak. The result is a satisfying wine that completely over-delivers for the price point. In fact, we have this at the lowest price in the country.
This is a great wine to stock up on while it is available. Enjoy!
CHATEAU LA PRADE 2016 COTES DE FRANC
WINE ADVOCATE 92+ POINTS - "The medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2016 La Prade bursts boldly from the glass with notions of chocolate-covered cherries, blueberry compote and plum preserves with suggestions of eucalyptus, espresso, licorice and cedar chest plus a waft of violets. Full-bodied, rich and plushly textured, the decadent black fruit and spicy layers deliver a very long, impactful finish. This is so tempting to drink right now, but it will age beautifully."
WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS - "The vibrant plum and blueberry fruit is rounded and generous in feel, with light spice and licorice notes on the back end. This will be a fun drink in the short term while you wait for the big boys to mature."
A Fantastic 93 Point Spanish Red Under $10!
Hand-harvested from the Capcanes highest mountain vineyards, this blend of 65% Garnacha, 15% Merlot, 10% Carinena and 10% Syrah from D.O. Montsant in northeastern Spain, is beautifully balanced and ideal for the heartier fare and chillier weather we're facing in the first year of the new decade-- and Happy 2020 by the way!
Scents of sweet fruits, spice and balsa wood exude from the glass. White pepper, mixed red fruits (red plum, persimmon), wildflowers and hillside flora fill the nose. The palate is rife with flavors of redcurrant, raspberry and cherry fruits with a touch of cocoa and dusty earth. This wine is very comfortable in its own skin-- it's a dry wine but not austere. The ample tannins and acidity are tempered by the bright, sweet berry fruits. Great finish redolent with berries and cherries.
And talk about value! This wine drinks way over its price point and will brighten and balance your January-- whether you're tailgating, firing up the barbecue or relaxing in the hot tub after a day on the slopes, this Potente is fantastic wine at an amazing price.
CELLER DE CAPCANES POTENTE 2016 MONTSANT
JAMES SUCKLING 93 POINTS - "Very attractive nose of black cherries, sage and chocolate. Ripe and generous with nice, warm tannins that fill out the full body very nicely. Long and very harmonious finish."
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 90 POINTS - "Bright violet color. Spice-accented red/blue fruits on the nose, along with a suave floral overtone. Lively and incisive on the palate, offering mineral-inflected boysenberry and raspberry flavors that show a Pinot-like light touch. Silky tannins add subtle grip to the finish, which leaves a zesty red berry note behind."
Wine Advocate 95 Point Super Tuscan Under $22!
Il Toro is an elegant blend of Syrah and Petit Verdot that expresses the benefits of a moderate climate such as Tuscany's, where vines grow naturally without needing irrigation and yield an excellent quantity and quality of fruit. The resulting wine is a bold Super Tuscan that attests to the fact that French varietals can thrive in Tuscany and give exceptional quality, whilst retaining an undeniably Tuscan character.
CASTELLO ROMITORIO 2016 IL TORO
Beautiful diversity, density in the nose: brambleberry, raspberry, flambeed cherries are tempered by scents of scrub oak hillside, wet nursery and sea side campfire. The palate starts lush with bright red berries and white pepper, leading to firm tannins and forward acidity-- excellent structure! The strength and grip of this bull is lifted by dark red, spicy fruits: plum, redcurrant, cherry cola. Bellisimo!
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "A blend of Petit Verdot and Syrah, the 2016 Il Toro is a muscular animal that boldly exposes dark fruit, blackberry preserves, dried cherry, spice, leather and spicy cedar. The blend is unique because it pairs the volume and spicy intensity of Syrah with the density, darkness and structure of Petit Verdot. Softer aromas of sweet fruit cede quickly to tar, grilled herb and rich plum. Pair this wine with grilled T-bone steak. This is a bold and expressive wine that opens a new chapter for Filippo Chia and his talented team."
Our Favorite 2017 White Burgundy Selections!
The 2017 vintage in Burgundy is notable, coming after the heat affected 2015 and a 2016 vintage ravaged by hail and frost. The white Burgundies in particular have captured our interest and we absolutely love them. To generalize, the Chardonnays remind us of the 2014's with plenty of tension and good acidity, but have a bit more "flesh on the bones." These wines are not heavy, rather they possess a depth of flavor and wonderful texture that make them immediately appealing.
The wines below have all been selected after tasting (sometimes multiple times...) and have also been featured during French wine tastings for consumers at the store. Each of these have been huge hits and each is an excellent example of Chardonnay from their respective appellations.
To put a finer point on it, the excellent Ferret Pouilly Fuisse tastes of place and boasts the richness of the Macon married with bright acidity. You will also find the offerings from Chassagne-Montrachet from Vincent & Sophie Morey and Philippe Colin are simply outstanding. Finally, the Puligny-Montrachet from Jean Chartron and the Meursault from Henri Boillot deliver everything you could want from these world-renowned villages.
These are all can't miss, best of class examples of Chardonnay grown from the best appellations in an outstanding vintage.
J.A. FERRET 2017 POUILLY FUISSE CUVEE HORS-CLASSE
TOURNANT DE POUILLY
WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "The 2017 Pouilly-Fuisse Hors-Classe Tournant de Pouilly is brilliant, opening in the glass with a youthfully reserved bouquet of ripe citrus fruit, wet stones and freshly baked bread. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, deep and concentrated, with a satiny, enveloping attack, superb cut and tension at the core and a long, precise finish. This elegantly muscular Pouilly-Fuisse is well worth seeking out."
JEB DUNNUCK 95 POINTS - "Incredibly classic, the 2017 Chassagne-Montrachet Les Caillerets 1er Cru comes from a tiny 0.8-acre parcels of vines planted in 1968, 1982, and 2003. It was brought up in 44% new French oak. White flowers, stone fruits, brioche, crushed rocks, and a flinty minerality all emerge from this beautiful, oh-so-classic Chassagne that has density, depth, and richness. This powerful, deep, brilliant wine is a smoking effort to enjoy over the coming 10-15 years or more."
WINE SPECTATOR 95 POINTS - "A smooth, creamy texture sets the pace for peach, honey, pastry and toasty oak aromas and flavors, all underscored by lemon oil notes, citronella intensity and vivid acidity that carries the polyphonic finish. Alluring and harmonious. Drink now through 2028."
JEAN CHARTRON 2017 PULIGNY MONRACHET 1ER CRU
CLOS DU CAILLERET
WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "Enticing aromas of vanilla, citronella, hazelnut and lime are the hallmarks of this creamy white. Harmonious and complex, lingering on the finish and fading gracefully, with echoes of spice and citrus."
WINE ADVOCATE 92-94 POINTS - "The 2017 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos du Cailleret offers up notes of mandarin, lemon oil, smoke, dried white flowers and candle wax. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, with a tighter-knit, more tensile profile than the Clos de la Pucelle, built around tangy acids and chalky extract. This looks to be the finest premier cru in the Chartron cellar this year."
BURGHOUND 94 POINTS - "There is a whiff of natural exoticism to the strikingly elegant, wafting and overtly floral and spiced tea aromas of mostly white orchard fruit. The cool, precise and restrained flavors possess a wonderfully refined mouth feel while displaying an abundance of minerality on the bitter lemon-inflected, balanced and sneaky long finish. This stunningly good effort is an exercise is refinement and class."
A Champagne Rock Star Debuts his Latest Unicorn!
Alexandre Chartogne, who is now widely recognized as one of Champagne's most important grower-producers gives a lot of the credit for his success to the legendary guru of fizz, Jacques Selosse. While his viticultural tutelage with Anselme Selosse was brief, it was an experience that truly changed the arc of his career. As he explains: "It was Anselme Selosse who taught me that a winegrower's responsibility is to understand his terroir. So, I came home to Merfy and started digging holes." Merfy is situated on the Massif de Saint Thierry just northwest of Reims and its vineyards sit upon a thick layer of sandy topsoil which contributes a signature suppleness and fruitiness to its wines. Alexandre is one of the most curious and conscientious winemakers in Champagne and there is no place where this zeal is more evident than with his approach to his single vineyard Champagnes. They dramatize just how sensitive and precise his winemaking is. Chartogne's first single vineyard release was from the 2006 vintage and it was 100% Pinot Meunier from ungrafted vines in the sandy Les Barres parcel. That bottling which showcased the heights to which a Meunier based Champagne could reach, soon became one of the most sought-after grower bottlings in all of Champagne. Among the Meunier vines in Les Barres are scattered rows of Pinot Noir. Alexandre has finally incorporated these vines to fashion an exciting new expression of the Les Barres terrior. All of Chartogne-Taillet's single vineyard cuvees are now strictly allocated "back room" treasures. However, because this Les Barres was a "first of" release we were able to acquire enough quantity to actually to put it on display and talk about it. Of course, we are sure that once the word gets out subsequent releases will never make it to back to the cellar sales floor.
CHARTOGNE-TAILLET (2015) EXTRA BRUT BLANC DE NOIRS "LES BARRES" (PINOT NOIR)
WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "From a climat Chartonge made famous for its Pinot Meunier growing in chalky soils, the NV Extra Brut Blanc de Noirs Les Barres (Pinot Noir) derives from a westerly exposed parcel of Pinot Noir growing in sand-and hails entirely from the 2015 vintage. It's showing very well, exhibiting attractive aromas of mirabelle plums, raspberries, anise, pastry cream and yellow chartreuse. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, ample and muscular, with tangy acids, excellent concentration and a long, chalky finish."
Five Knockout Barolos from One of the Best!
We've already talked about how great the 2015 vintage in Barolo was, and we've got another great winery to recommend! The 2015 Barolos from G.D. Vajra (VAH-ee-rah) offer an elegant yet powerful style from an iconic producer, and are a must-have for your collection. The estate is often recognized for their winemaking skills, starting with the classic Barolo they call "Albe," sourced from three of their vineyard sites. Wine Spectator was particularly enamored, putting it on their Top 100 Wines of 2019 list (at #48). Their single-vineyard "Bricco delle Viole" Barolo was one of the top wines of Piedmont according to the prestigious Italian wine guide, Gambero Rosso, which gave the 2015 release a top-level "3 Glass" award!
This is a family-run labor of love; founded by Aldo Vajra, his first release happened to be from the troublesome 1972 vintage. Instead of giving up and abandoning the grapes on the vines, he made a wine anyway and never looked back. Remaining obstinate in his vision of what great Barolo should be, he refused to succumb to the increasing popularity of aging in French oak, especially with new barrels, which he felt would detract from the elegant and pure expression of the Nebbiolo grape. He was well-aware of the modern improvements in the wine cellars, though, and through the years earned the reputation of being "the most modern of the traditionalists and the most traditional of the modernists." He now runs the winery with his wife and three children, who are taking the family estates into the future. It's a testament to the character of this family that the small but well-respected winemakers, Luigi and Fiorina Baudana, felt comfortable letting the Vajras take over their estate in 2009, and with it their legacy (no small thing in a region that takes such things seriously).
The Vajras farm organically, make use of long fermentations during which the skins and juice gently mingle, and age the wines in large Slavonian oak barrels that impart only subtle wood notes.
G.D.VAJRA 2015 "ALBE" BAROLO
This is their most direct and approachable Barolo, and a great introduction to the G.D. Vajra style.
#48 ON WINE SPECTATOR TOP 100 WINES OF 2019
WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "Pretty, featuring rose, cherry, raspberry and mint flavors, with a touch of mineral. Supple, harmonious and elegant, offering a long finish. The aftertaste is tinged with orange peel and tobacco notes. Best from 2021 through 2036. 4,500 cases made."
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "This Barolo offers a more immediate approach, with lots of dark berry followed by spice, tilled earth and black truffle. The 2015 Barolo Albe pours to a medium dark color and lays out a mid-weight texture, with bright primary fruit that is expertly woven into the wine. It exposes clearly etched veins of acidity and some determinedly firm tannins. Despite the Albe's accessible personality, I recommend that you wait a few more years before popping the cork."
WINE ENTHUSIAST 92 POINTS; EDITOR'S CHOICE
The Bricco delle Viole ("The Hill of Violets") vineyard is the highest altitude of the historical Barolo sites and the wines typically carry a particularly bright floral perfume and fine tannin that gives them a more accessible quality in youth.
GAMBERO ROSSO 2020 GUIDE - 3 BICCHIERI
WINE ENTHUSIAST 95 POINTS - "You'll find enticing scents of rose, violet, woodland berry, tobacco and a heady whiff of pine on this fragrant, full-bodied red. The juicy, delicious palate shows focus and intensity, doling out succulent raspberry, ripe red cherry, blood orange, licorice and baking spice framed in polished tannins. It's already showing beautifully but will also offer years of enjoyment. Drink 2020-2027."
WINE ADVOCATE 94+ POINTS - "The 2015 Barolo Bricco Delle Viole is a delicate and pure expression of Nebbiolo. The wine shows its naked beauty with pride, provocatively semi-dressed in lacy, floral aromas of wild rose and pressed violets. At this young age, the wine exhibits a gentle mix of fruity and floral characteristics that merge into the bouquet with intrepidness. The fruit from this vineyard within the Barolo township has maintained its freshness and crispness despite the heat of the 2015 growing season. I think it would be a lovely match for a veal piccata and cream sauce, with parsley and capers."
WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS
The Ravera vineyard produces more densely-textured wines than the Bricco delle Viole, and can have a nobly austere structure in their youth that will loosen up with at least a couple years more age
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 95 POINTS - "The 2015 Barolo Ravera captures all the best the vintage has to offer. More importantly, it has that extra level of textural richness and sweetness that the Bricco delle Viole does not have, at least not today. Creamy and beautifully textured in the glass, the 2015 is a total winner. Bright red raspberry and pomegranate fruit notes are lifted, while expressive oral and blood orange overtones add brightness. The 2015 suggests that the Ravera might, in time, become the agship wine here. Don't miss it!"
WINE ENTHUSIAST 95 POINTS
"The wine is brooding yet austere, enriched with the balsamic tones of mint that are so typical of the village and of this cru...a high-structure and powerful Barolo." - G.D. Vajra
This is the famous Serralunga powerhouse style, something you might want to hold onto for at least five more years.
WINE SPECTATOR 95 POINTS - "Ripe and juicy, displaying macerated cherry and plum flavors, complemented by menthol and rosemary notes. A line of mineral underscores all the elements, revealing a dense matrix of fine tannins on the finish. Best from 2023 through 2042."
WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "...offers a slightly richer and textured expression from Serralunga d'Alba fruit. The wine is slightly riper compared to the Barolo Baudana from the same vintage, with dark fruit aromas of wild cherry, rose, cola and tilled earth. The wine is similarly tight and firm at its core; however, this Nebbiolo from the Cerretta vineyard offers more succulent padding and volume." Drink from 2025 on.
"Baudana is a hidden gem among the historical vineyards of Serralunga. Once celebrated, then forgotten, today finally regains its past prestige. Baudana captures the gentle essence of Vajra combined with the power of Serralunga." - G.D. Vajra
Like the Ravera wine, this has a relatively dense structure that will reward a few more years of aging.
WINE SPECTATOR 95 POINTS - "Macerated cherry, floral, licorice, mineral and Asian spice flavors highlight this firmly structured red. Taut and balanced, with plenty in reserve, building to a long, detailed finish. Best from 2022 through 2045."
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "The Luigi Baudana 2015 Barolo Baudana, with fruit from Serralunga d'Alba, is a wine with a very promising aging future ahead. Starting with the firmness of its core and its tightly knit fabric, this wine offers all the main criteria for graceful cellaring. You get bright primary fruit, along with crisp acidity and rock-solid structure. You won't miss those characteristic Serralunga d'Alba tannins. Give the wine time to soften, relax and flesh out further. Still nervous in its youth, this pretty wine will award those who wait."
Wine Advocate 94 Point "Best Cote du Rhone Villages I've Ever Tasted"!
"Deep, full-bodied, incredibly pure, and elegant, with silky tannin" - Jeb Dunnuck
"Maybe the best Cote du Rhone Villages I've ever tasted" - Wine Advocate
"Better than most Chateauneuf du Pape in the vintage" - Jeb Dunnuck
We just received an outstanding Cotes du Rhone from Xavier Vignon that blew us away! This Grenache-dominant Rhone blend is laden with lush, juicy fruit framed by polished, silky tannins. It is deliciously drinkable and certainly one of the best values we have seen all year. Joe Czerwinski of the Wine Advocate gave this wine 94 Points and effusive praise calling it, "Maybe the best Cote du Rhone Villages I've ever tasted."
Jeb Dunnuck scored this one almost the same with a 93+ Point rating and called it a sensational Cotes du Rhone. Considering almost every producer from Chateauneuf, Gigondas and Vacqueyras make Cotes du Rhone wines, the words of these critics are indeed high praise.
We have enjoyed the wines of Xavier Vignon and currently have his Chateauneuf du Pape on our floor. Vignon is one of the top oenologists in the Southern Rhone, consulting for many other wineries and releases outstanding wines under his own label.
This is a fantastic Cotes du Rhone, which rivals many Chateauneuf du Pape wines that sell for double the price. We also have a limited amount of magnums available to double your pleasure. Even better, we have this at the best price in the country!
Grab this one while you can, when it's gone it's gone!
XAVIER VIGNON 2015 ARCANE LE SOLEIL COTES DU RHONE
WINE ADVAOCATE 94 POINTS - "The 2015 Cotes du Rhone Villages Arcane XVIII Le Soleil is youthfully dark in color and fruit-forward, but it also shows softening, silky tannins. It's full bodied but not overblown, with a sensationally seductive mouthfeel. Black cherries define the fruit, joined by hints of dark chocolate and enough garrigue to give it a seriously savory character despite the fruit. This is an old-vine blend of 80% Grenache with 10% each Syrah and Mourvedre, aged 15 months in one-third new oak, the rest in concrete or foudre. Maybe the best Cote du Rhone Villages I've ever tasted, it looks to have the stuffing to go another 10 years."
JEB DUNNUCK 93+ POINTS - "Coming from 100-year-old Grenache vines (there's 10% each of Syrah and Mourvedre in the blend) mostly in the northern part of the Southern Rhone, the 2015 Cotes du Rhone Villages Arcane le Soleil saw 15 months in one-third each of new barrels, concrete tanks, and stainless-steel tanks. This inky colored beauty offers a terrific perfume of blueberries, scorched earth, graphite, and crushed violets. Deep, full-bodied, incredibly pure, and elegant, with silky tannin, it's a sensational Cotes du Rhone that's better than most Chateauneuf du Pape in the vintage. It will be better in another year or two and keep for 8-10 years."
Your New Everyday Italian Red is Here - 94 Points for Just $12.95!
One of our absolute best values for the month comes from the rugged, untamed national park lands in the central-Italian region of Abruzzo. The red variety Montepulciano is the regional star, a favorite of Italian enotecas for its highly drinkable wines at a value. One of its finest producers, the Valle Reale winery, has been a staple winery for Hi-Time Wine Cellars, and we're happy to welcome in the 2018 vintage of their entry-level Montepulciano, which received a rarely-seen score from a highly reputable critic for a wine that retails for $12.95!
Just like Valle Reale itself, there's no gimmick, just honest wine at a more-than-fair price. The Valle Real 2018 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo reflects the nearly untouched naturalness of the land: made from organically-farmed grapes, and fermented with the native strains of yeast, its sits in stainless steel for just 3 months before being bottled. It has the brightness and perfume of a mountain wine (from their cooler Popoli vineyard) imbued with the soft and generous ripeness of a warm lowland valley wine (from their Capestrano vineyard). Just take a look at Italian wine expert Ian D'Agata's 94-point review for "Vinous!"
VALLE REALE 2018 MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 94 POINTS "Bright red. Red cherry and flowers on the perfumed nose; much more fragrant than the 2017 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Then fresh and juicy, with bright red fruit repeating in the mouth. Finishes long and savory, showcasing notable purity. Outstanding cool-climate Montepulciano of noteworthy refinement. Very, very well done; I'm not sure readers fully realize just how hard it is to obtain a result of this level in a cold-weather environment such as that of Popoli. This success speaks loudly of the capability and talent of owner Leonardo Pinzolo and his Valle Reale technical team."
Like with most traditional Italian wines, the experience will be even better with the right food. The Abruzzesi like hearty lentil soups, skewered meats on the grill, or pastas with lamb, but let your creativity shine!
Special Holiday Savings on a 100 Point World-Class Red!
If you're looking for one of the finest densely-packed Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines in the spirit of Bordeaux and Napa greats, look no further than the recently arrived 2017 Almaviva! This is a wine that regularly makes it onto top wine lists (the previous vintage was on Wine Spectators' top 10 for 2019), and this vintage will be no exception. In fact, James Suckling gave it a perfect score! As you can see, this is no fruit bomb, but excites the palate and the imagination with brambly vine-fruit accompanied by classic herbal and mineral qualities.
JAMES SUCKLING 100 POINTS - "The aromas of blackberry leaves and iodine are wild and exotic here with mussel shells and earth underneath. Full-bodied, tight and chewy with powerful tannins that show muscle. It's structured and powerful. Dense and very, very deep. Don't touch this until 2025."
Since 1998 Almaviva has been the sole wine of the Almaviva winery in Chile, just as the flagship wines of Bordeaux are known by the name of the chateau, and is a collaboration between the famous Baron Philippe de Rothschild company and the Chilean powerhouse Concha y Toro (it's named for the character Count Almaviva in the French play by Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro, which Mozart famously made into an opera).
The complex flavors and textures of Almaviva are built by blending separately-vinified Cabernet Sauvignon with a significant amount of Carmenere, followed by small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot, and then by aging in French oak barrels for 19 months, which promotes a more elegant mouthfeel and adds subtle spices. This was a warmer growing season than 2016, resulting in a slightly softer and rounder mouthfeel, which means it's a little more approachable. Nevertheless, like most great wines, this is one that will reward patient cellaring as it unwinds and grows in complexity and elegance through the years, though with a long time in the decanter and a great meal, you can always enjoy it earlier!