Hi-Time's Holiday Newsletter
We have always enjoyed the crazy busy holiday season as it's a great time to enjoy a glass of wine with the right meal, family and friends, as we reflect upon the year at hand and dream about the next one. It's a time of giving gifts and thanking folks for what they do and who they are. It's a time for us to highlight the best we have to offer-- it's our goal to make your holidays even better, to help accentuate this special time. So, we decided to publish this special holiday edition... We wish you and yours the merriest and happiest of holiday seasons and look forward to seeing you here in the shop or online. Cheers!
Top Eastern European & Other Wines
#1 QUILCEDA CREEK 2015 CABERNET SAUVIGNON COLUMBIA VALLEY
Quilceda Creek has received more 100-point scores from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate than any other winery in Washington. Paul Golitzin is winemaker and son of founders Alex and Jeannette Golitzin. He learned his masterful touch with Bordeaux varietals from not only his father, but also his great uncle Andre Tchelistcheff (Cabernet Sauvignon would not be ANYWHERE near its current success without Andre’s work in the Napa Valley); however, Paul has developed his own style, and worked with the amazing fruit from the area. Many of the vineyards are located in the Horse Heaven Hills area, and the silt/ loam soils produce grapes with intense flavors yet refined personalities.
JEB DUNNUCK 99 POINTS - "The flagship is the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon mostly from Champoux with the balance from Palengat and Wallula vineyards. Crème de cassis, graphite, black licorice, unsmoked tobacco, and hints of chocolate and emerge from this beauty and it continues to gain depth and nuance with time in the glass. Full-bodied, deep, and layered with an incredible purity and elegance on the palate, it's already accessible but has more than enough tannin, depth, and balance to evolve for two decades or more."
#2 EISELE 2016 CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY "ALTAGRACIA"
In reality there’s just a handful of true cult wines in California, among them Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Dalla Valle, Sine Qua Non… and, of course, Eisele! In 2013 the property was purchased by Francois Pinault (who also owns ChAteau Latour, a Bordeaux classified 1st growth), and the wines have not skipped a beat. In fact, they may be even better! The vineyards have been biodynamically farmed since 2000 to improve health in the vines, resulting in better wine. The Altagracia bottling of Cabernet is comprised of fruit from the eastern portion of the vineyard, planted in volcanic cobbly soils, and the vines have to dig deep to reach any groundwater. Combine this with the cooling northwestern winds that come through the Chalk Hill gap, and you produce very small berries of thick-skinned, intensely flavored grapes!
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "The Altagracia is produced almost exclusively from estate fruit this year and was bottled at the end of June 2018. Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Altagracia comes bursting forth with vivacious black cherries, blackberries, wild blueberries and cassis notes with touches of cinnamon stick, cloves, forest floor, violets and dusty earth with a waft of violets. The palate is medium to full-bodied, firm and grainy with loads of iron and mineral accents, finishing long and perfumed."
#3 CADE 2016 CABERENT SAUVIGNON HOWELL MOUNTAIN ESTATE
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 96+ POINTS - "The 2016 Cade Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 7% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. It has a deep purple-black color and wonderfully pure, vibrant notes of crushed blackcurrants, black cherries and baker's chocolate with touches of Indian spices, licorice and cloves plus an earthy waft of damp soil. Full-bodied, rich and powerful in the mouth with a rock-solid frame of ripe, grainy tannins and seamless freshness, it finishes with layer after layer of black fruit and exotic spices."
ANTONIO GALLONI 93-95 POINTS - "The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is one of the most polished wine I have tasted from Cade. In large part, that is attributable to the presence of fruit from the former Ladera estate that Cade bought in 2016. Silky, nuanced and refined, the 2016 is both quite pretty and promising. It will be interesting to see where the wine goes, but the signs are quite positive."
#4 SHAFER 2016 CABERENT SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY "ONE-POINT-FIVE"
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "Made of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon One Point Five Stags Leap is very deep purple-black in color and gives up intense Black Forest cake, black berry pie and blackcurrant cordial scents with hints of licorice, eucalyptus, espresso, tar and chargrilled beef. Full-bodied, it packs the black fruit preserves flavors and earthy accents into the palate, with a firm frame and great freshness on the finish."
#5 LYNDENHURST 2016 CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY
Like every top Château in Bordeaux, the great Spottswoode Estate also has a second label: Lyndenhurst. The allure is that you get to taste a blueprint of the flagship bottling earlier, and in a very approachable fashion. The Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys the same pedigree as Spottswoode (which has earned a perfect 100 points score for their last two vintages) and shares characteristics easily recognizable to those already familiar with the essence of the Spottswoode estate. All organically farmed and aged in French oak barrels for 20 months, this wine truly shows the power and exceedingly high quality of the 2016 vintage! On the approach, the 2016 Lyndenhurst sings a polished and youthful tone and soon reveals generosity and sophistication. The progression is long and opulent, punctuated by notes of cedar, winter mint, bergamot, briar, sandalwood, and chestnuts. There are layers of fruit—blueberry and soft, dark cherry opening to aromas of blackberry, intermingled with warming notes of vanilla bean and cocoa powder. The wine is held together with a bright, linear acidity complemented by dark, silken tannins that together leave a lingering finish.
#6 FAIT-MAIN 2017 CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY "TEETER TOTTER"
Crafted by perhaps the #1 undiscovered talent in Napa today, winemaker Benoit Touguette, was Andy Erickson's right hand man, managing day-to-day wine production at Screaming Eagle during the 2005/2006 vintages (both 98 points) and the legendary 2007 vintage (100 points). Benoit also happens to be the French protege of world-famous winemaker Michel Rolland and assisted him along with Andy Erickson in launching Ovid. Today, Benoit is leveraging his substantial talent and connections in Napa to craft just five barrels of a glorious micro-production Cabernet under his new personal label he calls Fait Main which means "hand-crafted" in French. The fruit for this Cabernet Sauvignon comes from prime vineyards in Pritchard Hill, Saint Helena, Calistoga, Oakville, and Yountville.
#7 GAMBLE 2015 CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY
ANTONIO GALLONI 94 POINTS - "The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is another terrific wine from Tom Gamble. Ripe, exuberant and flamboyant in style, the 2015 offers plenty of the vintage's raciness and yet manages to do so without being overbearing. Crème de cassis, plum, licorice, chocolate, spice and menthol build effortlessly in the glass. There is plenty to admire in this intense, powerful Cabernet Sauvignon."
#8 PRESS CELLARS 2013 CABERNET SAUVIGNON HOWELL MOUNTAIN "ELSBERG"
2013 was the best vintage ever for the Elsberg Vineyard, but production was barely half of normal yield. Bold and beautiful, this lush cabernet displays Howell Mountain's expressive layers of raspberries, cherries, chocolate and spice, along with robust minerality. Expressive aromas of berries and flowers introduce the concentrated flavors that continuously reveal themselves as this wine opens up. An impressive offering, and one of the great bargains in Napa cabernet. Nuances of flavors contributed by 30 months in 100% French oak barrels complement the fruit.
#9 STONESTREET 2016 CABERNET SAUVIGNON ALEXANDER VALLEY ESTATE
ANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - "Lisa Valtenbergs turned out a superb set of wines at Stonestreet. The Chardonnays are outstanding, but this year, I was especially impressed with the Cabernets, which seem less pushed than in the past. Perhaps that is a reflection of the very high quality of the 2016 vintage, or maybe there is a slight move towards a more nuanced style. Time will tell. Either way, the 2016 Cabernets are fabulous, and also some of the very finest wines I have tasted here."
#10 HALTER RANCH 2017 CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES "SYNTHESIS"
A blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Petite Sirah, Synthesis is an approachable Cabernet Sauvignon blend that has aromas of both red and black fruits and cassis, followed by flavors of black cherry and plums. Smooth and approachable, this wine is great on its own, but also pairs with virtually everything.
Top Cabernet Sauvignon Under $20
NINE HATS 2016 CABERNET SAUVIGNON COLUMBIA VALLEY
Nine Hats was a conception that began back in 2007 with one wine-- a red blend that was striking in quality, approachability and deliciousness. It was crafted with impeccable attention to detail and the benefit of topquality grapes...and people loved it! The wines formed into this original blend were declassified juice coming from Long Shadows wine portfolio, a collection of seven ultrapremium Columbia Valley wines showcasing the viticultural excellence of the growing region. Along with some of the best grapes grown within the region, Long Shadows has tapped some of the best winemakers from around the world (Gilles Nicault, Randy Dunn, John Duval, Michel Rolland and Philippe Melka), so there is no wonder as to why Nine Hats was so successful. For this 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, several vineyard sites throughout Horse Heaven Hills and the Wahluke Slope were selected to source the fruit that provides its depth and complexity. Aged eleven months in French oak prior to bottling, this wine scored 90 points from Wine Spectator! Vibrant aromatics of black cherry, espresso beans and bittersweet chocolate introduce this richly structured Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a multi-layered wine with expressive flavors of black and red berries complemented by notes of savory spice. Its luscious mouthfeel persists across a lengthy finish.
WINE SPECTATOR 90 POINTS - "Vibrant and generous, with supple black cherry, caramel and spice flavors that glide toward polished tannins. Drink now through 2024."
#1 DALLA VALLE 2015 PROPRIETARY RED OAKVILLE "MAYA"
Located in the foothills of the Vaca Mountains in Eastern Oakville, Dalla Valle’s “Maya” bottling is one of the sexiest cult wines you can get! Proprietor Naoko Dalla Valle cuts no corners as she seeks to produce the best possible wine from her property. As dictated by naturally low-yielding soils composed primarily of fractured volcanic rock, Dalla Valle keeps fruit production tightly controlled. At the helm of winemaking is Andy Erickson (who has also made the wines at Screaming Eagle in the past), and he makes several passes through the vineyards each harvest so that only clusters of grapes at optimal ripeness and maturity are harvested. Dalla Valle’s Maya bottling showcases the site’s exceptional Cabernet Franc; it is grace and power all in one, and fewer than 500 cases are produced each year. This year, the wines has received the perfect 100 point score from Jeb Dunnuck.
JEB DUNNUCK 100 POINTS - "As good as it gets, yet in a different style compared to the also perfect 2016, the 2015 Maya Proprietary Red Wine boasts a sensational, ethereal, heavenly style to go with tons of cassis and blackberry fruits intermixed with notions of dried earth, tobacco, chocolate, and a beautiful sense of minerality. This cuvée is normally a blend of 60-70% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Cabernet Franc, and it’s the Cabernet Franc that gives it another layer of complexity and elegance. The sexy, upfront nature of the 2015 vintage is front and center. This is a magical wine to drink over the coming 3+ decades."
#2 MORLET FAMILY 2014 PINOT NOIR SONOMA COAST "EN FAMILE"
The wines from Luc and Jodie Morlet have gained a feverish following here at Hi-Time. While their Cabernets and Chardonnays have garnered the limelight and were featured on our “Top Wine” lists in the past, this year it is one of their Pinot Noirs that has us salivating! Coming from a small vineyard in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA on the Sonoma Coast, this property sits at 1,100 feet in elevation, and is on just the second ridge from the Pacific Ocean. The vineyard is above the fog line and enjoys long, sunny days, yet temps remain cool throughout most of the growing season. This gives the vines time to produce perfectly mature and ripe grapes, and Luc Morlet sorts the fruit berry-by-berry when they reach the winery, ensuring that only the best make it into the finished wine.
ANTONIO GALLONI 95 POINTS - "Things seem quite busy at Morlet Family Vineyards. Luc and Jodie Morlet are developing an additional 3.5 acres of land at their estate vineyard in St. Helena. Last year, the Morlets planted a new vineyard in the heart of Oakville, so there will be a greater focus on estate fruit in the future, once those newly planted vineyards come on line. Stylistically, the wines offer plenty of textural richness and opulence, as they always have. At the same time, I see a bit more freshness in these wines than was common just a few years ago."
#3 PAUL LATO 2016 PINOT NOIR SANTA MARIA VALLEY "DUENDE"
If you do not yet know the name Paul Lato, and you haven’t heard us talking about him in our store, then it’s time to listen up. We are telling you right now that Paul Lato is producing some of the most exciting Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, and Syrahs coming out of California’s Central Coast! After working as a Sommelier in Toronto, Paul decided to change gears and work in winemaking. After working with Jim Clendenen at Au Bon Climat, Paul started making his first wines. Before he even had a name, esteemed critic Robert Parker tasted the wines and suggested that Paul hurry up and come up with a label, because Paul had true talent. Paul only works with premier vineyards; he tastes wines from other producers who use fruit from a potential vineyard, and if that wine excites him, then he tries to get the best fruit from the property. Duende comes from the Gold Coast Vineyard in the heart of the Santa Maria Valley. These low-yielding, own-rooted vines grow on sandy soils and are over 28 years old. Paul wants to keep your palate interested until the last drop, and this wine does just that!
JEB DUNNUCK 96 POINTS - "Moving to the Pinot Noirs, the 2016 Pinot Noir Duende Gold Coast Vineyard comes from a site in the Santa Maria Valley and spent 15 months in 50% new French oak. Black cherry and raspberry fruits as well as lovely notes of underbrush, forest floor, white flowers, and hints of vanilla all emerge from this elegant, multidimensional Pinot Noir that has awesome purity and length."
#4 SHAFER 2015 SYRAH NAPA VALLEY "RELENTLESS"
WINE ADVOCATE 95+ POINTS - "Blended of 90% Syrah and 10% Petite Sirah, the deep purple-black colored 2015 Relentless has a total rock-star nose of flamboyant blackberry pie, plum preserves, mulberries and licorice scents with hints of Sichuan pepper, hoisin, Indian spices and smoked meats plus a waft of raspberry leaves. Very big, rich, full and decadently fruited in the mouth, the palate packs in black fruits and exotic spices layers with a firm, rounded tannin frame and just enough freshness to carry off the long, opulent finish."
#5 RAEN 2017 PINOT NOIR SONOMA COAST "ROYAL ST. ROBERT"
ANTONIO GALLONI 94 POINTS - "The 2017 Pinot Noir Royal St. Robert is absolutely gorgeous. A wild array of floral and savory notes make a strong opening statement. Expressive and multi-faceted, the Royal St. Robert is positively dazzling from the very first taste. The interplay of fruit, whole cluster savoriness and structure results in a captivating Pinot that has more than enough pedigree to reward a number of years of cellaring. This is a brilliant showing. Wow!"
#6 GRAN MORAINE 2017 PINOT NOIR YAMHILL-CARLTON DISTRICT
WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - "Polished and elegantly complex, with expressive cherry and blueberry flavors, accented by crushed stone and black tea notes, building tension and lively acidity toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2025."
#7 CARLISLE 2017 ZINFANDEL SONOMA COUNTY
JEB DUNNUCK 93 POINTS - "While it was a difficult vintage for Zinfandel due to the heat, you wouldn't know that by tasting these Zinfandels from Carlisle. The 2017 Zinfandel Sonoma County offers a beautiful sense of elegance and purity as well as pretty cherry fruits, violets, flowers, and spice. It's not a heavyweight yet shines for its seamless texture, integrated acidity, and a great finish. It's a steal at the price."
#8 STOLPMAN 2017 SYRAH BALLARD CANYON ESTATE
ANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - "The 2017 Syrah Estate Grown is absolutely gorgeous. Fresh, floral and wonderfully perfumed, the Estate expresses all the best vintage had to offer. Sweet floral, spice and dried herbs are beautifully laced into a core of dark Syrah. Not only is the Estate a terrific example of the year, it also captures the interplay of rich fruit and more savory notes that is so typical of the best Ballard Canyon Syrahs. The 2017 is simply compelling. That's all there is to it. "
#1 WAYFARER 2016 CHARDONNAY FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW "WAYFARER"
Jayson Pahlmeyer’s eponymous label is one of the more sought-after wines produced in the Napa Valley. After falling in love with Burgundy, and almost purchasing two grand cru vineyards, Jayson was drawn to the possibility of purchasing property in California that could emulate the best from Burgundy. His then winemaker Helen Turley took notice of a vineyard in Sonoma Coast that was just down the road from her own vineyard, and Helen understood well the extraordinary character of fruit this land could yield. The fruit was blended into the Pahlmeyer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, but the Wayfarer Vineyard’s exceptional fruit presented an irrefutable cause for its own namesake label. Barrel fermented using 100% native yeasts, this is a majestic Chardonnay that must be tasted to truly understand its immense quality. Earning a whopping 98 points from Jeb Dunnuck.
JEB DUNNUCK 98 POINTS - "Starting with the Chardonnay, the 2016 Chardonnay Wayfarer Vineyard is an extraordinary effort as well as world-class. Offering an ultra-pure bouquet of white flowers, tangerine, crushed citrus, and hints of brioche and marzipan, it hits the palate with medium-bodied richness, a seamless, elegant texture, riveting acidity, and a great, great finish. It's certainly one the gems in the great vintage and is going to benefit from a year or two of bottle age and keep for 15+ years."
#2 LEWIS 2017 CHARDONNAY RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY
Lewis Cellars' 2018 Sonoma Chardonnay reveals classic Russian River Valley character with showy citrus blossoms, toasty orange, lemon curd, and subtle stone spice. Lifted and lively the precision-tuned palate carries plenty of fruit and native acidity developing a satisfying tension and finishing with flinty mineral intrigue.
WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS - "Ripe and rich, with concentrated baked apple, pear and mango flavors. Butter and cream details linger on the plush, pillowy finish. Drink now through 2023. 350 cases made."
#3 SPOTTSWOODE 2018 SAUVIGNON BLANC NAPA/SONOMA COUNTIES
In addition to their Estate grown Cabernet Sauvignons that have garnered 100-point scores, Spottswoode always produces one of our favorite Sauvignon Blancs out of California! In addition to their estate grapes, Spottswoode gets fruit from other noteworthy vineyards, such as Hyde and Stagecoach, and also utilizes the Musque clone of Sauvignon Blanc. Spottswoode’s method of fermentation (using a combination of small stainless barrels, French oak and concrete eggs) means that they manage up to 200 individual fermentations each year. This technique results in a complex, rich and vibrant wine that stands well on its own, pairs beautifully with food and is further enhanced with a bit of cellaring. The wine is mouth-coating and viscous, with a balancing acid tension and great mouth-watering juiciness. The beauty is there aromatically, with an initial impression of lime zest, lemon pith and citrus blossom. It then opens to white peach, nectarine, mandarin, cream, with hints of vanilla and lime curd, both on the nose and on the palate. Rich and texturally enticing, with great balance and length.
#4 TALLEY 2016 CHARDONNAY ARROYO GRANDE VALLEY "RINCON"
The Rincon Vineyard (eight miles northeast of the Pacific Ocean) is the oldest of the Talley vineyards with the first plantings dating to 1982. The soil in the Rincon Vineyard is shallow and composed of loam and calcareous clay. This soil type is reminiscent of the vineyards of Burgundy, particularly those in the Côte de Nuits. The shallow soil, coupled with steep hills, facilitates drainage and results in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir yields averaging less than three tons per acre, which is considered low in the wine world. This is a Chardonnay that always excites our wine staff, and we never get enough to last the entire year!
ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 95 POINTS - "(21% new French oak) Pale yellow-gold. Ripe melon, pear nectar, tangerine and toasty lees on the deeply perfumed nose, complicated by a mineral flourish that adds focus and lift. Silky and seamless in the mouth, offering mineral-laced, impressively concentrated citrus and orchard fruit flavors that pick up subtle fennel and vanilla notes with aeration. Smoothly blends richness and delicacy and closes with strong, mineral-driven persistence and a sneaky floral quality. I really like the interplay of power and delicacy here."
#5 ZOTOVICH 2017 VIOGNIER SANTAA RITA HILLS ESTATE
ANTONIO GALLONI 92 POINTS - "This is a strong set of releases from Zotovich. After a few years of back and forth, Zotovich seems to have settled on a style that works well for the site and their wines. The wines are consistent from top to bottom."
"The 2017 Viognier is done in a bright, floral style that emphasizes freshness. Jasmine and apricot notes are nicely delineated throughout. Light on its feet and impeccably balanced, the 2017 offers quite a bit of character and personality."
#1 VINCENT COUCHE 1999 EXTRA BRUT "SENSATION" R.D.
This new-to-us producer has garnered the top spot on this year’s roster with a late disgorged Champagne that rivals examples from Bollinger and Moët & Chandon for a fraction of the price. Vincent Couche is part of a blossoming of talent taking place in the deep South of Champagne. Like many of his kindred he farms biodynamically. A fifty-fifty blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the 1999 Sensation Cuvée was left to mature for over 18 years on its yeast. This prolonged and costly regime has resulted in a pale gold Champagne of refined texture that features highly nuanced aromas suggestive of a buttered baguette, candied fruits, hazelnuts and almond butter. The palate is amazingly fresh and light and mirrors the aromatics with a pleasing stone signature and persistent acidity. A prodigious tour de force from a Champagne House to watch.
“Now at its peak, the vintage cuve´e “Sensation 1999” offers you an “intense nose of candied fruits, hazelnut, sweet almond and hot butter. The mouth captures a perfect balance of magnitude and aromatics. As always, there is a crystalline acidity on the finish which marks the purity of all of their Champagnes.”
#2 CLAUDE CAZALS 2008 EXTRA BRUT "CLOS CAZALS"BLANC DE BLANCS"
It’s not often that one encounters a Champagne that overdelivers on the promise of terroir as this does. As we noted seven years ago when the 2002 Clos Cazals toped this list, Dauphine Cazal’s walled vineyard is a most worthy runner up to Krug’s nearby Clos du Mesnil which, of course, fetches more than a thousand dollars a bottle. Planted back in 1957, the vineyard’s walls produce a wind shield effect that creates a warmer mesoclimate that results in riper grapes with seemingly bottomless depth and distinctive Chardonnay character. The result is a Champagne that, at first glance, is decadently broad, creamy and gentle with layers of pear, nougat, nutmeg and lemon candy that recede to reveal a mouth-filling salinity and long-playing acidity. All in all, this is our favorite Clos Cazals to date and is further proof that 2008 is turning out to be the best Champagne vintage of the Century.
#3 ROEDERER 2008 BRUT "CRISTAL" GIFT BOX
The energy and tension of this Cristal edition is off the charts, making this this truly Champagne of “Christmas future.” That said, this 2008 is already a tremendous drinking experience as the following notes suggest, and while hardly inexpensive, we think you will find our pricing more than fair for this legend in the making.
JAMES SUCKLING 100 POINTS - "Disgorged October 2016 and will be the first Cristal to be released ten years from harvest when it is offered in 2018. 35 parcels used from a possible 45 in this vintage. The assemblage is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. This is so fresh and tense and mineral with extremely exuberant Chardonnay notes on the nose of white peach, lemon and yellow grapefruit, and hints of almost brambly sous bois aromas. The yeast characters are also super fresh, and there are subtle woody notes, with a hint of vanilla bean and light spices. The palate is super long, and very pure, powerful and focused. It drives deep and taut. Pinot Noir is a strong core and the Chardonnay sits at the edge offering lemon and white nectarine sorbet flavors. Staggeringly concentrated, yet the balance makes it seem airy and light. Acidity is perfectly positioned, and the power is intense and long. This is an ultra precise Cristal, finishing with a mere suggestion of savoriness and warmth to come. Impressive on release, this will be at its best drinking from 2025."
#4 MARC HEBRART BRUT "MES FAVORITES" VIELLE VIGNES 1ER CRU
TERRY THEISE 3 PLUSES - "It is 75% Pinot Noir from Mareuil, 25% Chardonnay also from Mareuil. Old vines, massale selection. Deg 4/2018. 60% 2014, 20% 2013, 20% 2012. It’s from his favorite parcels in Mareuil, and is intended as a tribute to its terroir. It has a truly noble Pinot Noir fragrance, leading to an utter masterpiece of weightless concentration, as huge and yet as penetrable as a cumulous cloud. Mareuil is clearly great but it’s also somewhat inscrutable; it has some of the malt of Aÿ, some mirabelle confiture, an almost gingery spice and top notes of chalk. This wine has great, gossamer opulence."
#5 SUENEN 2015 EXTRA BRUT OIRY
2015 wine base in alliance with 2013 2014 wine reserve.
We endeavor to improve the living soils of our vineyards by continually observing interaction between soil, plant and climate. The study of soil profiles by plot provide a better understanding of their diversity and influences the evolution of our work.
From our gentle methods, tartrate crystals may form. This natural phenomenon has no effect on the quality of the wine.
#6 VILMART 2009 BRUT "COEUR DE CUVEE"
VINOUS MEDIA 94 POINTS - "A racy, exuberant wine, the 2009 Coeur de Cuvée offers up a super-appealing mélange of apricot, butter, baked apple tart and vanillin. The combination of the ripe, warm vintage along with fermentation and aging in small French oak barrels yielded an especially opulent Coeur de Cuvée with plenty of exotic and tropical overtones. The 2009 will be ready to drink with minimal cellaring."
#7 BERECHE 2013 EXTRA BRUT "LES BEAUX REGARDS" BLANC DE BLANCS
JOHN GILMAN 92-93 POINTS - "The Beaux Regards bottling is made entirely from estate-grown Chardonnay from the Bérêche family’s vineyards in their home village of Ludes. This had only been disgorged in January of 2018 and was still a bit unsettled in mid-March, but the underlying quality here was still quite apparent. The complex bouquet offers up scents of pear, lemon, chalky soil tones, a hint of buttery oak, fresh almond and white flowers in the upper register. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, long and elegant in profile, with pinpoint bubbles, a good core and fine length and grip on the very well-balanced finish. The precision that this wine will eventually display was not in evidence after the fairly recent disgorgement, and for that reason I scored the wine in a range, but I would fully expect it to snap into exact focus with a bit more bottle age (it probably has already done so) and rate at the top of my range. It seems likely that the 2014 Beaux Regards will blossom completely a bit ahead of the 2013 Rilly bottling, but this again, could just be an impression caused by its more recent disgorgement. 2018-2035+."
#8 DOYARD 2008 EXTRA BRUT BLANC DE BLANC GRAND CRU
IMPORTER'S NOTES - "The Champagne Blanc de Blancs Millésime 2008 by Doyard is produced from the attentive selection of Chardonnay, coming only from the Grand Cru villages of the renowned Côte des Blancs, more precisely in Mesnil, Oger, Avize and Cramant. Only grapes from the best vintages turn into this Champagne Blanc de Blancs, resulting in output of just 650 6-pack cases a year. Dosage is 3g/l for this delicate and mineral Champagne Extra Brut."
We like this unrated 2008 every bit as much as the 2009 (released last year) which was rated 96 Points by the Wine Advocate.
#9 MARGUET EXTRA BRUT 2016 SHAMAN ROSE GRAND CRU
JOHN GILLMAN 92 POINTS - "It is not intuitive, but Benoît Marguet always prefers to make his Rosé bottlings from a predominance of Chardonnay, with his Shaman 16 version composed of fully ninety-six percent Chardonnay, with the remainder still red wine made from Pinot Noir. The vins clairs for this bottling spent a bit longer in cask than is generally customary in Champagne, as they were not bottled up for the second fermentation until August of 2017, and the wine was disgorged in April of 2019. It is showing beautifully out of the blocks, offering up a pure and complex bouquet of tangerine, blood orange, bread dough, chalky soil tones and a topnote of dried flowers. On the palate the wine is crisp, full-bodied and very elegant in profile, with a fine core, excellent soil signature, refined mousse and lovely focus and grip on the long and perfectly balanced finish. First class Rosé. 2019-2040+."
#10 POL ROGER 2008 BRUT "CUVEE WINSTON CHURCHILL"
WINE ENTHUSIAST 100 POINTS, #4 TOP 100 CELLAR SELECTIONS 2018 - "One of the great Champagnes both for its richness and its longevity, this latest incarnation is superb. The wine's richness is linked to the ripe fruit and the dominance of Pinot Noir in the blend. It also shines in the perfect balance between the texture, the minerality and the integration of the fruit. It can be enjoyed now, but it will be better from 2020 and then for many years to come."
WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "Released in October of last year, Pol Roger's 2008 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill is showing brilliantly, unfurling in the glass with a complex bouquet of waxy citrus rind, dried white flowers, freshly baked bread, iodine and honeyed yellow apple. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, powerful and vinous, with a deep and multidimensional core, broad structural shoulders and considerable concentration, girdled by tangy acids and displaying a youthfully frothy but incipiently fine mousse. The finish is long and intense. This is a terrific rendition of this reliably superb cuvée and well worth seeking out."
VINCENT PINARD 2018 SANCERRE
Vincent and Cosette Pinard’s 15 hectare Domaine extends over steep limestone slopes around Bué. The excessively low yields, hand harvesting and modern winery, complete with temperature-controlled vats, result in enticing, aromatic and intense wines. 100% tank-fermented and aged. As the name suggests this cuvée is very floral. Fine, crisp and very classic, there is plenty of fruit here: lemon, lime and grapefruit zest with a ripe juicy acidity; a strong complex terroir dimension is obvious, too, with its chalky, mineral touches.
DOMAINE PINSON 2017 CHABLIS MONT DE MILIEU
BURGHOUND 94 POINTS - "Here too there is a whiff of wood present on the expressive and vaguely exotic nose that offers up notes of algae, iodine, white peach and seaweed. As is usually the case with this wine there is excellent volume, power, muscle and mid-palate density to the medium-bodied flavors that coat the palate with dry extract on the almost painfully intense mineral-driven finish that flashes a bit of youthful austerity. This is terrific and offers excellent upside development potential."
VINCENT MOREY 2017 CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET 1ER CRU LES CAILLERETS
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."
VINCENT MOREY 2017 BOURGOGNE BLANC
JEB DUNNUCK 90 POINTS - "From a mix of vines planted in 1980, 1990, and 2006, the base 2017 Bourgogne Blanc is a pretty, juicy, incredibly satisfying effort that has pretty white flowers, hints of stone and lemony fruits, a distinct salty minerality, medium-bodied richness, and a vibrant, juicy style on the palate. It’s a beautiful wine to drink over the coming 4-5 years. Fresh, vibrant, and crisp are the buzzwords here, but it also has fruit."
DOMAINE DE LA TAILLE AUX LOUPS 2016 MONTLOUIS LES HAUTS DE HUSSEAU
WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS - "Racy and mouthwatering in feel from start to finish, with jasmine, ginger, peach, yellow apple and mineral notes that zip through in lockstep. Pretty honeysuckle accents gild the finish. Drink now through 2025."
LES HAUTS DE SMITH HAUT LAFITTE 2017 BLANC
DECANTER 93 POINTS - "They have managed to get the Haut de Smith signature in this wine, and for me it is one of the most successful whites of the vintage in terms of accessibility and affordability. It has so much personality, showing grilled apricots and concentrated, rich citrus, with rosemary and sage edging and a mineral lick on the finish. The acidity gives persistency and lift, but it feels tame and under control. Harvested 24 August to 9 September, so at least 10 days earlier than usual. 50% new oak. An obvious buy for the vintage."
HENRI BOILLOT 2017 PULIGNY MONTRACHET 1ER CRU CLOS DE LA MOUCHERE
BURGHOUND 94 POINTS - OUTSTANDING! - "A touch of mineral reduction can be found on the markedly floral-inflected nose of white peach, spice and discreet wood nuances. There is first-rate volume to the caressing yet powerful flavors that possess excellent mid-palate density before concluding in a highly energetic, complex and beautifully well-balanced finale. This isn't quite as structured as the Pucelles but it is still sufficiently prominent to make evident that here too patience will be rewarded."
VINCENT GIRARDIN 2017 CORTON CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU
WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "Wafting from the glass with aromas of buttered orchard fruit, ripe lemons and blanched almonds, the 2016 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru is full-bodied, deep and concentrated, with a broad-shouldered, powerful profile, chewy structuring dry extract and racy acids, concluding with a long and penetrating finish. This is a very persuasive wine from Girardin."
WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - "A powerful yet reserved white, exhibiting spice-tinged peach, apple and lemon flavors, with a stony undertow. The vibrant structure keeps this focused, while the finish is long, evoking peach, mineral and spice notes. Mouthwatering."
Top French Red Wines of 2019
DOMAINE LAFAGE 2017 CUVEE NICOLAS GRENACHE
Jeb Dunnuck writes, "When it comes to quality-to-price ratios, no one does it better than proprietor Jean Marc Lafage. Located just outside of Perpignan, this estate has a wealth of old vines and vineyards to pull from, and the addition of a massive new winery is only going to give them even more control.
While it's easy to write off these value-priced releases as fruit bombs, please taste the wines! They have beautiful purity of fruit, impeccable balance and each release has their own unique character. At this price, this is an absolute no-brainer."
Buy it by the case and drink it over the coming 2-3 years.
WINE ADVOCATE 91-93 POINTS - "It was exciting to see that the 2017 Nicolas, all old-vine Grenache from three terroirs, was showing more red fruit and freshness than the 2016. It's still rich, deep and velvety in texture, but it's livelier and should be a similarly rocking value once it's released."
DOMAINE JOSEPH FAIVELEY 2017 MERCUREY
The 2017 vintage of Faiveley Mercurey is another winner, continuing a string of successful vintages for this domaine. In fact, this wine has become a customer favorite over the past several years and is one of our best sellers from Burgundy. After tasting this delicious Pinot Noir, we're confident it will keep disappearing from our shelves. The Wine Spectator's Bruce Sanderson consistently awards this wine high scores and has repeatedly described it as a "Smart Buy." Sanderson gave this wine a WS rating of 91 Points, noting it has "Fine depth of flavor" and calling it "Harmonious."
This is a no brainer and a great pick for parties, gifts or to simply enjoy whenever the mood strikes. Enjoy!
WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "Fine depth of flavor and juicy cherry fruit mark this red. Licorice, plum, spice and stone notes complement the core of ripe cherry. Harmonious enough to enjoy now. Drink now through 2028."
DOMAINE GIRAUD 2016 CHATEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE
The Domaine Giraud "Tradition" is comprised of 60% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre with the grapes averaging close to 70 years of age. This is a fantastic wine at an outstanding price with noted Rhone critic Jeb Dunnuck urging, "Buy a case of this, trust me."
JEB DUNNUCK 95 POINTS - "Moving to the reds, the base 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blockbuster, and this is one of those cases where you have to wonder if it’s worth the cost of the special cuvées when this wine is so good. Maire describes the 2016 vintage as a mix of the 2010 and 2007 vintages, and I can’t disagree. This beautiful 2016 offers a terrific nose of black raspberries, garrigue, and peppered meat in a full-bodied, ripe, incredibly sexy, seamless style. It has a boatload of tannins, and despite its intensity and richness, is still elegant and seamless. Buy a case of this, trust me."
WINE SPECTATOR 95 POINTS - "Enticing, with bright, engaging raspberry, cherry and red currant fruit infused with gently roasted sandalwood and apple wood, garrigue and licorice root notes. A swath of tobacco underscores the finish, giving this an old-school hint."
GRAND VENEUR 2016 COTES DU RHONE LES CHAMPAUVINS
This delicious, crowd-pleasing wine is one to grab by the case to share with friends and family.
WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS - "Capable of rivaling many wines from neighboring Châteauneuf du Pape, the 2016 Cotes du Rhone les Champauvins (tasted as a tank sample) is a big, brash mouthful of fruit but one that's not without nuance. Hints of licorice, cracked pepper and garrigue all come into play, along with a bit of warmth on the long, mouthwatering finish. Supple tannins make it approachable now, but it should easily drink well for 6 years, if not more. As always, it's a terrific value."
WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "Now that it's in the bottle, the 2016 Cotes du Rhone les Champauvins is looking as good as I predicted last year. It's a full-bodied, concentrated wine that could mop the floor with many Châteauneufs. Rich black cherry fruit is joined by complex herb and spice notes, a creamy mid-palate and a lingering finish. Worth buying by the case."
CHATEAU THIVIN 2017 COTE DE BROUILLY
We have long been fans of Chateau Thivin which is a benchmark domaine of the Côte de Brouilly. Thivin consistently produces wines which are utterly delicious and showcase amazing purity of fruit without being heavy.
WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "The 2017 Côte de Brouilly is superb, unfurling in the glass with aromas of ripe cassis, candied violets and plums. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, rich and concentrated, structured around fine-grained but chewy tannins and tangy balancing acids, with considerable depth and substance at the core. The wine is still quite primary and will need some time to come together, but it's an excellent rendition of this storied cuvée that resembles the 2011 vintage."
THIERRY GERMAIN 2018 SAUMUR CHAMPIGNY LES ROCHES
Thierry’s domaine, Roches Neuves, whose vineyards are planted in the Saumur (Blanc) and Saumur-Champigny (Rouge) appellations, has rightfully become one of the greatest examples of high achievement in biodynamic vine growing in France. We put him up there with the greats: Abbatucci in Corsica, Ganevat in the Jura, Ostertag in Alsace. His total dedication to site specific wines produced from Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc, his “parcellaires,” has produced some of the most exciting wines in the Loire Valley today.
• 100% de-stemmed
• Fermentation in stainless steel tank for 8 to 10 days
• Light pumpovers during fermentation—meant to infuse the grapes not extract them
• Aged in stainless steel and wood tanks, on fine lees, without sulfur, for 3 to 4 months
• Communes: Chaintres de Varrains and Saumur
MARQUIS DE CALON 2012 SAINT-ESTEPHE
Another great "second wine" value here, this time from 3rd Growth Saint-Estephe estate Calon Segur. From Calon Segur's famous walled vineyard, this is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot plus Cab Franc and Petit Verdot aged 17 months in 30% new oak. Rich and fleshy with tannins that want decanting or a few years.
JAMES SUCKLING 90 POINTS - "A spicy, meaty red with berry character and hints of mahogany. Medium to full body, fine tannins and a juicy finish. Outstanding second wine for the vintage."
ARNAUD MORTET 2016 GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN
WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - "Pure cherry, raspberry and stony mineral flavors are the hallmarks of this juicy red, with a firm, well-integrated structure. Combines elegance and muscle. The finish is dense and long. Best from 2022 through 2036."
LEOVILLE-BARTON 2003 SAINT-JULIEN
WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "A spectacular success, the opaque plum-colored 2003 Leoville Barton is still on the young side of its plateau of maturity. It exhibits a striking bouquet of forest floor and black currants as well as a full-bodied, exuberant, youthful style, an opaque plum/ruby color, a lot of complexity, and striking depth and richness. This is a profound, stunning effort from Anthony Barton and his team. Bravo! It should continue to provide immense pleasure for 20-30 years."
WINE SPECTATOR 98 POINTS - "Intense blackberry and cherry, with hints of currant. Toasted oak and sweet tobacco too. Roses and other flowers, such as lilacs. Full-bodied, with masses of tannins yet incredibly long and seductive. *#3 Top Wines of 2006, Collectibles*"
LEOVILLE LAS CASES 1989 SAINT-JULIEN
DECANTER 98 POINTS - "1989 was an early year, with flowering three weeks ahead of usual. Now at 30 years old, a floral aspect curls out of the glass, with touches of roses and peonies, followed on the palate by bilberries and blackberries, with a cigar smoke and eucalyptus finish. It's still vigorous in its tannic structure, but it's soft and supple enough to enjoy today. This bottle was recorked by hand at the winery last year, with five people checking every single one of the 5,000 bottles remaining at the chateau. The wines were topped up from magnums of the 1989. 3% Petit Verdot completes the blend - a variety not used in the grand vin since 1996.(11/2018)"
WINE SPECTATOR 96 POINTS - "Very ripe, with raisin and dried fruits on the nose. You can smell the sun-dried grapes. Full-bodied, delivering firm tannins and a very fresh palate. Long and flavorful, offering currant, berries and all sorts of dark fruits, but turns lightly earthy and floral. This is a thoroughly complex wine. Just starting to really open into the mature 20-year-old wine it is, but such a great life ahead of it. Muscular."
#1 SAN GIUSTO A RENTENNANO 2015 "PERCARLO"
ANTONIO GALLONI, VINOUS 98 POINTS - "The 2015 Percarlo, the estate's 100% Sangiovese, 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. Proprietor Luca Martini di Cigala aged the 2015 in a combination of cask and tonneau. The 2015 Percarlo is a riveting wine readers will not want to miss."
WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "The 2015 Percarlo is a sassy and bright wine with great purity and definition. This is the full package for all you Sangiovese lovers out there. The wine is round and slightly soft in the middle, owing a lot to that 2015 sunshine. A deeply etched and sophisticated expression, the Percarlo takes a little while to open in the glass: This review is based on my impressions from two tasting, one right after the bottle was opened and a second about 12 hours later. Ultimately, the wine presented a 360-degree perspective onto Sangiovese, with the freshness, the softness and the succulence that you are looking for in the grape and plenty of those variety-pure aromas of purple berry, wild rose and tilled earth. The way the wine impacts the palate is of particular interest because you get fullness and extraction that is all magically rendered light and buoyant thanks to that crisp acidity."
#2 GUADO AL TASSO 2016 ANTINORI
The Antinori family of Florence needs little introduction and is one of the world's oldest and most distinguished wine producers. The Antinori’s respect traditions yet possess a dynamic and innovative spirit. Guado al Tasso is the flagship wine of the estate, showcasing amazing power, elegance, and balance, which make it one of the most sought after wines in the world.
WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "This stunning vintage of this landmark wine marks a slight adjustment to the blend. The 2016 Bolgheri Superiore Guado Al Tasso is no longer made with Petit Verdot. The blend is now 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and now 20% Cabernet Franc. This small change does not go unnoticed, as this wine is absolutely seamless now—like the finest Asian silk fabric. That profound textural softness and suppleness changes the way the wine smells and tastes, with hints of momentary sweetness that are more tactile than anything else. Generally speaking, the 2016 vintage offers more elegance (slightly less concentration) and a hair more freshness compared to the 2015 edition. When I tasted this wine, the bouquet was still timid, but it will no doubt become more expressive and open as this beautiful wine continues forward along its aging trajectory. Some 120,000 bottles were made, a remarkable feat considering the extreme quality on offer."
#3 CAVALLOTTO 2015 BRICCO BOSCHIS BAROLO
WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "I had tasted this wine from barrel last year, and the wine was already shaping up beautifully back then. Staying the course, the 2015 Barolo Bricco Boschis shows extreme elegance and finesse. These are the characteristics of what is surely one of the most beautiful vineyard sites in Barolo. The Bricco Boschis cru affords a panoramic view onto much of the Langhe, with snowcapped Alps in the background. Barolo from Castiglione Falletto tends to show characteristics that are very fine, precise and linear. That's fundamentally what you get here despite the more exuberant and fleshy 2015 vintage. This wine is truly beautiful. Some 27,700 bottles were made."
#4 ISOLE E OLENA 2016 CEPPARELLO TUSCANY
"Proprietor Paolo De Marchi has left an indelible and highly personal stamp on Isole e Olena, and all of Chianti Classico for that matter. De Marchi stands apart from many of his colleagues for his vocal opinion and intense dedication to the vineyard above all else. Since taking over his family's esate, De Marchi has transformed Isole e Olena into a powerhouse." - Antonio Galloni (Wine Advocate, June 2012)
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 97+ POINTS - "The 2016 Cepparello is dense, dark and also very closed in on itself. Those qualities bode well for the future, but readers will have to be patient, as the 2016 is going to need at least a few years to come into its own. Black cherry, plum, lavender, spice and new leather gradually open up in the glass, but the 2016 is not ready to show all of its cards. This fruit was brought in during the second week of October, which is pretty much optimal at Isole e Olena. The 2016 spent 20 months in French oak, with a bit less than 30% new oak, and a few months in cask prior to bottling. An explosion of floral and spice notes punctuates the super-refined finish. The 2016 is shaping up to be epic. Don't miss it!"
WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "The beautiful Isole e Olena 2016 Cepparello is a gorgeous and precise expression of Sangiovese. This is one of the icon wines of the vintage that shows a naked and transparent portrait of the grape on the one hand, with the complexity of the vintage and its territory on the other. Cepparello is like a crystal ball into the heart and soul of Sangiovese, Tuscany's mighty red grape. It is fermented in conical oak casks and later aged 20 months in 95% French and 5% American oak, of which only one-third is new wood. The wine delivers ample structure and contouring, with a firm and silky consistency at its core. Some 42,000 bottles were made. This wine should age over the better part of the next 20 years."
#5 SAN FILIPPO 2012 "LE LUCERE" BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO
JAMES SUCKLING 98 POINTS; TOP 100 WINES OF 2017 - "This is an incredible 2012 with fantastic depth, richness, focus and tension. Full body, polished and velvety tannins and a long and flavorful finish. Goes on for minutes. Better in 2020 but a joy to taste now. One of the wines of the vintage."
WINE SPECTATOR 95 POINTS - "A dense, backward red, with plenty of cherry, plum, spice and eucalyptus flavors. A broad swath of tannins and juicy acidity carry the long finish, but patience is required for all the facets to emerge. Shows excellent potential. Best from 2021 through 2035."
#6 FATTORIA DI FELSINA 2016 "FONTALLORO"
WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "The 2016 Fontalloro is the best vintage of this landmark wine that I have tasted thus far. This is a very elegant vintage, with more volume in the mouth and precise notes of tar, licorice, camphor ash, resin and Indian spice. In a race between the highly competitive 2015 and 2016 vintages, I give a slight advantage to this wine. The warmer 2015 vintage shows more richness and exuberant fruit. However, this wine from 2016 offers a more focused and chiseled delivery. I am hopeful that this wine will continue to evolve and sharpen as it ages in the bottle. This is a beautiful wine to put aside in your cellar for ten years or more."
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 96 POINTS - "The 2016 Fontalloro is marked by vertical lift and a level of sheer structural intensity that is rare for this usually more sensual wine. Powerful, deep and also quite reticent, the 2016 is going to need a number of years before it starts drinking well. Even so, that it is a very special wine in the making is abundantly evident."
#7 VIETTI 2015 CASTIGLIONE BAROLO
WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "The 2015 Barolo Castiglione is a soft and elegant expression with marked freshness and delineated fruit. Indeed, Luca Currado maintains that 2015 was not a hot vintage per se, and any jammy notes that might appear in the vintage may have to do with an overzealous approach to leaf pulling during the summer season. Old habits die hard, he says, and leaving the leaves intact contributes to the color stabilization of the wine and the successful management of its acidity. From an analytical point of view, this wine does flaunt that much-needed inner crispness. It adds focus and sharpness to the layers of dark, succulent fruit that appear on first nose."
JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "Plenty of perfume here with abundant roses and violets, as well as spice-dusted red cherries and hints of orange rind. The palate has depth and density with a sense of power and detail to the tannins. Long, dense and fresh."
#8 BIBBIANO 2015 VIGNA DEL CAPANNINO GRAN SELEZIONE CHIANTI CLASSICO
WINE SPECTATOR 96+ POINTS "HOT BUY" - "Alluring aromas of wild rosemary, thyme and sage complement the black cherry, blackberry, iron and tobacco flavors in this powerful red, which is supple and fluid, yet muscular too, with a long, resonant finish. Best from 2021 through 2040."
#9 CERBAIONA NV ROSSO "VINO DA TAVOLA" MONTALCINO
Occasionally life surprises you with a happy convergence, and the Cerbaiona "Vino da Tavola" is a one of those; it represents the bittersweet last fruits of a Brunello auteur (emphasis on the 'sweet'), is based on two wonderful vintages, and is offered at the completely reasonable price of $29.95! Former proprietor Diego Molinari's traditionalist wines have followed the seasons, allowing for Nature to dictate the character of a given year's release. But he has also been guided by a similar ebb and flow in his personal life and decided to sell his property. The new owners want to take the winery in a different stylistic direction and decided to unload the remaining inventory of 2013 wine with a majority of still-aging 2015 wine, irrespective of whether it was destined to be a Rosso or a Brunello. It's not often that an opportunity like this arises: To taste wine from a beloved small-scale producer of coveted wines based on top vintages at the price of a typical Rosso di Montalcino!
#10 CASTELLARE 2017 CHIANTI CLASSICO
The Castellare estate is one of the best examples of tradition in the area. The winery’s owner, Paolo Panerai, has closely studied the world’s best wineries and applied this understanding and experience to viticulture in Italy.
WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - "A beam of pure cherry and blackberry fruit defines this intense, racy red, which is firm and tensile, with fine balance and a lingering aftertaste of vibrant fruit, graphite and tobacco flavors. Sangioveto and Canaiolo. Drink now through 2033."
#1 ESPECTACLE DEL MONTSANT 2016 GARNACHA
WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "The floral, aromatic and citrusy 2016 Espectacle del Montsant has unusual finesse and freshness. It's a powerful Garnacha that feels light on its feet but with great inner strength, refined tannins and great acidity. There is no oak, extraction or excess ripeness whatsoever, but the label says the wine is 16% alcohol! It has structure, freshness and that citrus touch that supports the alcohol, and the wine comes through as really balanced. This is a unique wine, always with the aromatic signature of this north-facing vineyard and the limestone soils that provide those chalky tannins and a dry, tasty, almost salty finish. 6,500 bottles produced."
#2 MUGA 2010 PRADO ENEA GRAN RESERVA
WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "I was really looking forward to the 2010 Prado Enea Gran Reserva, as I've seen a very good improvement in this cuvée in the last few vintages, and 2010 is one of the more-balanced vintages of recent times. This is the most classical among the wines in the portfolio, the one with the longer élevage, a little bit like the wines from yesteryear but with today's knowledge about vineyards and vinification/élevage. This has settled to a blend of approximately 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha and the remaining 10% between Mazuelo and Graciano, from the cooler, higher-altitude vineyards, which means they only bottle it every two or three years. In recent years, 2007 and 2008 were not bottled. It ferments in small oak vats built by their own tonneliers, and they like to delay malolactic until the spring by opening the windows so the cold from outside comes into the winery. For the aging, each variety goes into separate barrels racked from newer to older barrels to complete some 36 months or three years. It has very healthy and balanced parameters, and that's what the wine feels like. It's still young. It's never a dark wine, more of a ruby or bright color, and it has a nose of youth, subtle and elegant. But the quality shows in the unbelievable elegance and harmony on the palate, where the tannins are very fine, the flavors are subtle but deep and the length is just phenomenal. This is only medium-bodied, with perfect ripeness and integrated acidity. This should have a very long life in bottle, especially as I had the chance to check the evolution of the 2004 next to this. 90,000 bottles were produced from 2010. The following vintages will be 2011, 2014 (a small bottling) and 2015."
JAMES SUCKLING #2 ON TOP 100 SPANISH WINES OF 2017
JAMES SUCKLING 99 POINTS - "The wonderfully silky texture with an added juiciness is what makes this wine so very special. The flawless and seamless nature to the wine is so impressive that it takes you breath away. Plenty of beautiful fruit but what mouthfeel. Drink now and forever."
#3 BODEGAS MAS ALTA 2012 LA CREU ALTA
Bodegas Mas Alta is one of the wineries that helped set that reputation, and we just got a small amount of the high-scoring 2012 vintage of their top wine, "LA CREU ALTA," that's drinking in top form right now! Usually priced around $100, we're offering it at $69.95 until we run out!
WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "I think vinification and elevage is now a secondary consideration for these Mas Alta wines because what I have in the glass is much more about the place, which to me makes the wine much more interesting. This is balsamic with notes hinting on camphor, but mainly rosemary, fennel and thyme with even a floral touch and a mixture of black and red berries and some spiciness thrown in. The palate is full-bodied, but the tannins are very fine, and the rusticity of the Carinena feels very polished and elegant. Great Priorat."
#4 TESO DE LA MONJA 2013 VICTORINO
WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "The 2013 Victorino was cropped from a rainy year from 35 hectares of head-pruned, ungrafted, organically farmed 70- to 100-year-old vineyards in the villages of Valdefinjas, Toro and Villabuena del Puente, planted on sandy soils rich in gravel and boulders with a clay subsoil with some limestone veins. They got 14 hectoliters per hectare in 2013 from grapes harvested on October 7, 8 and 11. The destemmed and crushed grapes were foot trodden during the eight days of fermentation with selected yeasts from their own vineyards. The post fermentative maceration lasted 21 days and the wine matured in brand new French barriques for 20 months, where it also underwent malolactic fermentation. During the élevage the wine was racked every four months. This is one of the freshest wines from the collection I tasted, a cuvée with less oak and great freshness, and therefore very good balance. Marcos Eguren agrees that 2013 is a very good and cold vintage in Toro, which resulted in wines that took some time to integrate tannins and acidity, but that have a little less alcohol and very good overall balance. The tannins are fine-grained, firm and fine, giving the wine good nerve. An elegant Toro within the natural power of the zone. The absence of rain in October, which is a constant in the region, could be responsible for the consistency across vintages there. This is the more approachable and drinkable wine from the collection today."
#5 CUNE 2015 IMPERIAL RESERVA
JAMES SUCKLING 95 POINTS - "A tight and linear red now with very long and direct palate that is driven and intense. Medium to full body, bright blackberry and mineral character. Just a baby now. Give it three to four years to soften. A beauty. Try in 2021."
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 94 POINTS - "Saturated, brilliant ruby. Explosive, seductively perfumed aromas of dark berry preserves, cherry-cola, incense, floral oils and vanilla, along with suggestions of mocha, licorice and woodsmoke. Sweet and seamless in the mouth, offering intense blackberry, cherry preserve and violet pastille flavors and allspice, coconut and star anise flourishes. Distinctly rich yet energetic as well, finishing with resonating floral and spice character, well-integrated tannins and superb mineral-driven persistence."
#6 PERINET 2016 MERIT RED PRIORAT
The wine is a blend of 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 25% Syrah, 5% Grenache and 5% Carignan Aged 12 months in stainless steel with 40% in 2-year old French oak. This wine expresses the pure essence of Priorat's licorella slate soil. On the nose the wine shows spices and wet stones evolving to ripe red fruits and forest floor. On the palate you find wild berry fruit notes such as blackberry and plums, enhanced by elegant, light tannins with iron-driven minerality throughout the palate.
#7 ARTADI 2017 VINA DE GAIN
JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "Impressive, rich, dark-cherry and blackberry aromas with nicely cut oak influence. The palate has a sleek, smooth-honed feel with such impressive freshness and depth. Stunning, vibrant finish. 100% tempranillo from several plots around Laguardia. Drink or hold."
#8 PEDRALONGA 2017 ALBARINO
From 30 year old vines, fermented with wildyeasts in stainless-steel vat with malolactic fermentation, and raised on the lees for 12-18 months in vat. This is one of the most singular and soil-driven Albariños from Rías Baixas. The result is a mineral-laden, beautifully aromatic, and textured wine that improves with time. Pure, distilled granite in Miguel Alfonso’s words. Perfect to pair with any fresh seafood.
#9 BODEGAS Y VINEDOS RAUL PEREZ 2017 BIERZO TINTO ULTREIA SAINT JACQUES
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "The clean, floral and 2017 Ultreia Saint Jacques comes mostly from old vineyards from different soils in Valtuille and Villadecanes fermented in stainless steel and oak vats with part of full clusters and matured in used barriques for one year. It's produced in a fresh and very drinkable way. This is one of the best values from Bierzo and Spain, and a great introduction to Bierzo. It's a more serious wine than what the wine was when it was first produced, fresh and elegant. It's very reliable and a great value."
DECANTER 93 POINTS - "A field blend of Mencia, Alicante Bouschet, Pan y Carne and some white varieties, fermented with natural yeast in old oak tanks using 100% stems and no temperature control. It undergoes malo in tank and then spends one year in old barrels. There's no remontage or pigeage, and he works without sulphites. This has bright, fresh blueberry and cranberry fruit with a rasp of tannin and a savoury, saline sign-off."
#10 SIERRA CANTABRIA 2016 SELECCION
This Selección is 100% Tempranillo from Proprietary vineyards located in San Vicente de la Sonsierra and Laguardia. It spent 6 months in tank and 6 months in used American and French oak Bordelaise barrels. This wine normally retails for around $14 but we were able to get a great deal on it and can sell it for $9.95. And great deal it is! This is a great wine to move from winter to spring with plenty of body and structure to handle the heartier fare chilly weather brings but light enough on its feet for lighter dishes (think lamb!).
#1 EL ENEMIGO 2014 "GRAN ENEMIGO" GUALTALLARY SINGLE VINEYARD CABERNET FRANC
Cabernet Franc is enjoying a renaissance in quality with passionate winemakers moving Cab Franc out of the "supporting role" and into the limelight. There is much to celebrate as a truly great Cabernet Franc offers plenty of muscle like a Cabernet Sauvignon, but there is a mix of satiny textures and perfumed elegance that is a shade more layered and elegant than most Cabernet Sauvignon. Cheval Blanc in St Emilion used to stand alone as the flag-bearer of what great Cabernet Franc could be, but Alejandro Vigil in Argentina is obsessively proving that Argentina's Cabernet Francs will take on the world. Alejandro is best known for the diverse and beautiful wines he makes for the Catena family, but Cabernet Franc is a personal passion and with his own "El Enemigo" label, also known as "Bodega Aleanna," Alejandro Vigil works obsessively on Cabernet Franc. El Enemigo makes SIX wines based on Cabernet Franc. In the 2014 vintage 4 of the 6 scored 96 pts or higher in Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. In the 40+ year history of the publication there have been less that 60 Cab Francs to score that high-roughly 1.5 per year. 4 scores that high in one year is ASTOUNDING. So is the wine. The Gran Enemigo "Gualtallary" Vineyard is emerging as Alejandro Vigil's benchmark wine in the series. We recommend a decanter, some good friends, and time to watch to this one unfold.
WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "I also tasted the 2014 Gran Enemigo Gualtallary Single Vineyard, which might take some months to come into the market. It has some balsamic aromas, medicinal hints, traces of orange peel, saffron and a touch of sweet spices. It's built around very fine tannins and a notable core of acidity that acts as backbone, giving it length and lifting up the finish. This is quite in line with the 2010 vintage, with power and freshness in a rare combination of clout and elegance only the very best wines manage to show. There are some 3,000 bottles of this wine. It was bottled in March 2017."
#2 GLAETZER 2016 SHIRAZ CABERNET "ANAPERENNA"
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "Even bigger, richer and darker than the 2015, the 2016 Anaperenna Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon is 84% Shiraz and 16% Cabernet. These are not wines for fans of shy, delicate wines, but neither are they clumsy fruit bombs. This is pleasantly multifaceted, with complex notes ranging from charred beef, black olive and asphalt to blackberries and cassis, all underscored by loam, vanilla and cedar. Full-bodied (15.5% alcohol), it's hugely ripe but balanced, with supple tannins and enough acidity on the long, velvety finish to balance the ledger."
#3 VILAFONTE 2014 SERIOUSLY OLD DIRT
This is the 3rd vintage release of Seriously Old Dirt. It is a deep red-to-black color wine, with an intensely vibrant rim. Blackberries, currants, and dried flowers bring great lift to the fruit profile of the wine. Secondary, black cherries, saffron and balsamic flavors contribute to the well-rounded bouquet. The palate is soft and luxurious with a pleasing and energetic acidity that offers great length.
41% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Malbec
Located in Paarl-Simonsberg, South Africa
Vilafonté is the first American and South African joint wine-making venture. This ground-breaking red wine project is a partnership between a respected group of wine specialists from South Africa (Mike Ratcliffe) and the United States (Zelma Long and Dr. Phil Freese). The name Vilafonté is derived from the primary soil type of the 100-acre estate. The soil in these vinyeards has been recorded as one of the oldest soil types in the world—somewhere between 750,000 and 1.5 million years old. The character of the soil is what forms the foundation of Vilafonté wines. It has deeply evolved over the centuries, and has been stripped of much of its inherent capacity, which encourages smaller vines, lower yields and highly concentrated fruit.
#4 FELIPE STAITI 2015 VERTIGO VALLE DE UCO
Located at the foot of the Andes, at an altitude of between 1,000 and 1,200 meters above sea level, Felipe Staiti Wines looks for the expression of terroir making art out of wine. Here, the wines are energetic, with particularly impressive aromas and character. While you can feel the craftsmanship of a great winemaker through the wines' balance and depth, they are also powerful and intense. In particular, Felipe Staiti Vértigo 2015, awarded 97pts by James Suckling. The wine critic says: “is a serious, rock star blend that shows layers and layers of flavor... This co-fermented blend of malbec, syrah and cabernet franc shows tension and focus with dark berries, dark chocolate and spice. Hints of walnuts, too. Extremely long and solid. This is an inspirational wine. Drink or hold.”
JAMES SUCKLING 97 POINTS - "This co-fermented blend of malbec, syrah and cabernet franc shows tension and focus with dark berries, dark chocolate and spice. Hints of walnuts, too. Extremely long and solid. This is an inspirational wine. Drink or hold."
#5 PYRAMID VALLEY VINEYARDS 2018 SAUVIGNON BLANC
Pyramid Valley makes wines that are among the finest in the world, going beyond the big-production Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs that New Zealand is most known for. Started by couple Mike and Claudia Elze Weersing, they sought to make wines that truly reflected the place from which they came through biodynamic farming and low intervention winemaking techniques. Recently, friends Steve Smith and Brian Sheth took over, and have commited to continuing the vision of creating wines of place.
BOB CAMPBELL, MW "THE REAL REVIEW" 95 POINTS - " Rich, textural sauvignon blanc with impressive weight and a mix of varietal fruit flavours with savoury, toast, ginger, mineral and struck flint characters. A complex wine that should develop well."
#6 BURN COTTAGE 2016 "CASHBURN" PINOT NOIR
Cashburn is Burn Cottage's second label made from barrels that didn't go into the Burn Cottage bottling and is further proof of Central Otago Pinot Noir's status as a worthy contender on the world stage. A prime vineyard site, perfect Pinot climate, and a masterful hand at the helm all add up to gorgeous terroir and varietal expression. If Cashburn came from Sonoma or Chambolle-Musigny, you'd surely be shelling out twice this price to acquire this wine.
WINEMAKER NOTES - "Exotic notes of orange zest and cherry liqueur leap from the glass. On the palate the wine is wonderfully understated and elegant with soft, supple tannin. Bright acidity lends balance and freshness to the long finish."
#7 TINTONEGRO SOIL 2015 "LA GRAVA" MALBEC
TintoNegro was born of the long time friendship and professional collaboration of Alejandro Sejanovich and Jeff Mausbach, colleagues at Bodega Catena Zapata for almost 15 years.
DECANTER 96 POINTS - "A selection of rows of vines on alluvial soils rich in gravel. It has an imposing body, full of firm tannins, surrounded by ripe red fruits and a delicious floral and herbal touch. 12 months in French oak, 15% new."
#8 CASA LAPOSTOLLE 2016 "CUVEE ALEXANDRE" APALTA CABERNET SAUVIGNON BLACK LABEL
Lapostolle is an impressive Chilean winery with French heritage that was created by Alexandra Lapostolle-Marnier and her husband to make high-quality wines at reasonable prices, while minimizing their impact on the environment. The "Cuvee Alexandre," named for Alexandra's great grandfather who created Grand Marnier, is from an old, organically farmed vineyard planted in the 1920s in the Colchagua region, whose climate has a lot in common with California's central coast.
Pick up a bottle and give it a decant while your meal is cooking...we think you'll be impressed that it cost less than $20! And for that price, you might consider putting some aside in your wine cooler to try over the coming years...they will reward your patience.
JAMES SUCKLING 95 POINTS - "This is wonderfully polished and refined with a sexy tannin texture that caresses your palate. Medium-to full-bodied and very refined and polished, showing such elegance, focus and roundness. Drinkable now, but better in 2021."
#9 RUFUS STONE 2016 SHIRAZ HEATHCOTE TYRRELL'S WINES
WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS "Complex and aromatic, with spice, fresh earth, cream soda and black walnut flavors that are rich and polished, giving way to succulent plum and cassis elements. Black pepper and Earl Grey tea grace notes linger effortlessly on the finish. Drink now through 2029. 1,500 cases made, 500 cases imported."
WINE ENTHUSIAST 90 POINTS "This historic Hunter Valley winery [Tyrrell's] also owns vineyards further afield, and this Shiraz is from Heathcote in Central Victoria, though it still wears the Tyrrell's crown. After a little swirling in the glass, it unveils aromas of plump blueberry, plum, mocha, licorice and florals. Medium to full bodied, it offers an intricate play between texture and acidity, juicy fruit and taut, sandy tannins, hinting at stony minerality. There's an old-fashioned feel about this wine. It's comfortable in its own skin and doesn't try too hard to be modern. Christina Pickard"
#10 SUSANA BALBOA 2017 CRIOS MALBEC
DECANTER 93 POINTS - "Paz Levinson: What a cracking wine! Black plum and violet aromas lead to a fresh and crunchy palate, with balanced alcohol. Fresh, pure – and amazing value. Patricio Tapia: Incredible value here. This is a pure expression of Malbec, with aromas of violets and filled with cherry notes. An impressive expression of the grape. Drinking Window 2018 - 2020"
WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "The 2017 Críos Malbec saw a change in the range, where the oak staves have been discontinued and only 30% percentage of the wine aged in well-seasoned neutral oak barrels. This is perfumed and juicy, with nice ripeness and a tasty palate. It is very accessible and comes from a typical vintage in which the wine managed to maintain moderate alcohol. 2017 was a low-yielding year, the second shortest in the last few years."
#1 HOFGUT FLAKENSTEIN 2017 RIESLING KRETNACHER ALTENBERG SPATLESE TROCKEN (DRY)
MOSEL FINE WINES 93 POINTS - "The 2017er Krettnacher Altenberg Spätlese Trocken was made from fruit harvested at 89° Oechsle in the Enkers part of the vineyard which is planted with 50 year-old vines. It offers a stunning nose of flowers, white peach, a hint of passion fruit and herbs. The wine develops a beautifully elegant feel of herbs, salty elements and spices, with a little bit of power in the finish. The balance and finesse is simply superb and full of potential. 2022-2037"
WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "From Enkers Weinberg and picked around October 10, the 2017 Krettnacher Altenberg Riesling Spätlese trocken is clear, precise and flinty on the nose, offering ripe and refreshing mineral and lemon aromas. On the palate, this is a tight, very mineral, concentrated and structured Riesling with a bone-dry and salty taste and a juicy finish. This is full-bodied at 11.5% alcohol. Tasted from AP 7 18 in June 2019."
#2 SCHAFER FROHLICH 2017 RIESLING BOCKENAUER FELSENECK "GG" GROSSES GEWACHS (DRY)
JOHN GILMAN - VIEW FROM THE CELLAR - 99 POINTS - "The 2017 Felseneck Grosses Gewächs is yet another utterly brilliant young wine. The nose soars from the glass in a youthfully complex blend of tart orange, pink grapefruit, blood orange, spring flowers, a beautiful base of salty slate minerality, a touch of petrol and a gentle topnote of wild yeasts. On the palate the wine is full, pure and again electric with ripe acidity this year, with a rock solid core, laser-like focus and great cut and grip on the complex, long and utterly seamless finish. This is pure magic. 2027-2085."
JAMES SUCKLING 98 POINTS - "Deep and dark in the nose, but blessed with ravishing, tart stone-fruit character on the palate that is almost perfectly balanced by the intense mineral acidity. Enormously long and surprisingly charming finish for a Schafer-Frohlich wine. Huge aging potential. Drink or hold."
#3 ALFRED MERKELBACH 2016 RIESLING URZIGER WURZGARTEN SPATLESE HALBTROCKEN (LIGHTLY SWEET)
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 92 POINTS - "I harbor fond memories of halbtrocken Merkelbach Wurzgartens long past, so perhaps you’ll think I was overly influenced simply by having once again seen those words on a bottle of their Riesling. But its contents certainly left me wishing that they would let this happen in their cellar more often. A classic Wurzgarten nose of fresh strawberry and lime adds hints of more Erden-typical tarragon and sassafras. Subtly silken in feel, this finishes buoyant and lusciously long, with animating, bright primary juiciness and transparency to shimmering impingements of stones and mineral salts. Incidentally, it weighs in at a mere 10% alcohol, a reminder that the Merkelbachs pick for Spatlese at must weights that most of today’s top Mosel growers would deem appropriate for Kabinett. A prime example of what I call “hidden sweetness” – residual sugar playing a supportive and catalytic role while not engendering any overt sense of sweetness – this will perform brilliantly at table as well as in your cellar."
#4 DONNHOFF 2018 RIESLING NIEDERHAUSER KLAMM KABINETT
WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "From a one-hectare plot with younger vines on porphyry soils, the 2018 Niederhäuser Klamm Riesling Kabinett is open, bright and fresh on the nose, with ripe fruit but also remarkable smokiness, elegance and polished character. Lush and round but crystalline and fresh on the palate, this is a charmingly elegant and fruity Kabinett with frisky salinity on the finish and nice mineral grip. Very attractive and fresh. Tasted in July 2019."
#5 MYER NAKEL 2018 SPATBURGUNDER (PINOT NOIR) ROSE DRY
FALSTAFF MAGAZINE 92 POINTS - "Coral pink in color. Deep on the palate, fresh, earthy, smooth, full-bodied texture, elegant acid structure, no rosé of the sweetish fraction, very good in density and length, red berry offshoot fruit. Almost a bright red wine in its extract."
This is a superb Pinot Noir-based dry rose from the Ahr region of Germany. On the nose you find a wonderful combination of fresh berries, herbs and citrus. In the mouth the fresh berries come to the forefront followed by a trace of lemony citrus. With a hint of minerality on the lingering finish this wine is perfect as either an aperitif or served with chicken, fish and seafood.
#6 HANS WIRSCHING 2018 SCHEUREBE (DRY WHITE)
JANCIS ROBINSON 16 POINTS - "Old-fashioned roses. Proper Turkish Attar perfume! And then, when your nose is leading you down a path of Gewurz fat-bottomed spiciness, the palate delivers bracing freshness in a carnival of pink grapefruit, a naughty hint of passion fruit, lean and taut as a gymnast (not a fat bottom in sight) but kick-boxing flavour. An astonishing amount packed into just 11.5%. Cucumber-fresh finish."
Top Austrian Wines of 2019
#1 WEIXELBAUM 2018 GRUNER VELTLINER "STEPHANUS"
Ripe fruit, beautiful richness, but with good acidity to back it up, the Weixelbaum "Stephanus" bottling is a prime example of everything good with 2018 in Austria. Flavors of green melon, snap pea, kiwi and citrus dance around your palate in delight. If this came from the Wachau, you would probably peg this as a Smaragd, mostly for its richness, but also for its elegance and sheer drinkability. This is a Gruner that punches up above its class.
#2 MEINKLANG 2018 MULATSCHAK BLANC "ORANGE WINE"
BIODYNAMIC AND DEMETER CERTIFIED
A delicious orange-rose-colored wine with a bouquet and palate of lychee, hibiscus and white flowers. The grapes are Pinot Gris and Welschriesling and Traminer, and receives 10 days skin contact. This is a still wine. Crown cap. Serve chilled. Natural wine.
#3 MORIC 2017 BLAUFRANISCH RED, BURGENLAND
WINE & SPIRITS 94 POINTS - "This is Roland Velich’s basic blaufrankisch, and, at the moment, his most perfectly rendered. A blend of fruit from vines of various ages growing in a range of soils across his vineyards in Neckenmarkt and Lutzmannsburg, it’s vinifies with ambient yeasts in large-format barrels, essentially giving a wide-angle view of Mittelburgenland. There’s a sense of the sunny warmth of the region in the wine’s ripe blackberry flavors, as well as of the region’s forested hills in its fir-tree details; then it ends with a sense of a refreshing breeze as the acidity sweeps the fruit along. It’s firm yet filigreed, with a granite-like coolness that emanates energy, and should keep the wine fresh over the next decade."
#4 ESTERHAZY 2016 KLIMT "THE KISS" RED CUVEE
This is a lively and bright red blend of Blaufrankisch and Zweigelt, two signature grapes from Austria... and 20% Merlot for an added velvety touch. On the nose, intense cherry, garden herbs, tobacco and fennel. The palate is fresh and elegant with more black cherry, fine tannins, good complexity and depth. The label pays homage to Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt.
#5 HIEDLER 2018 GRUNER VELTLINER "LOESS"
WINE ENTHUSIAST 90 POINTS - "Ripe notes of fresh green and yellow pear and melon make for a most friendly, appetizing nose. The light palate comes in with freshness and an easy, slightly pithy texture. The finish is dry and suave."
TAMAGAWA KINSHO DAIGINJO "HEART OF GOLD" SAKE
From Kyoto. Round and full-flavored, with luscious fruit and floral displays joined by bouncy melon and grassy nuances. Glacial incrementations of flavor achieved by sub-zero bottle aging impart both silky viscosity and depth. Made by Philip Harper, the world’s only nonJapanese Toji in Japan. A sake to savor slowly, chilled at first, then gradually warming in the bottle. Very versatile across many cuisines.
Rice Variety: Yamadanishiki
Polishing Ratio: 50%
Sake Meter Value: +3
This is a competition-level sake, with a palate reminiscent of strawberry, melon, all together with a fine minerality, and a rounded and clean, silky finish. Beautifully balanced and made to impress!
Serving Recommendations: A sake to savor slowly, chilled at first, then gradually warming in the bottle. Very versatile across many cuisines.
Awards: Silver Award, Daiginjo B class, 2013 U.S. National Sake Appraisal
#1 ZORAH 2016 KARASI RED, ARENI NOIR, RIND ARMENIA
WINE & SPIRITS TOP 1OO 2019
WINE & SPIRITS 94 POINTS - "Made from a massal selection of Areni that Zorah's team gathered from the area's ancient abandoned vineyards, this was fermented spontaneously in unlined concrete vats, then aged in traditional Armenian earthenware karasses. The wine seems to capture the coolness of the air in the vineyard, which sits at 4,500 feet in altitude, the texture sheer and delicate despite the depth of dark-plum fruit. It retains its freshness over the course of several days, revealing more detail as it absorbs ozygen, suggesting that it will only get better with age."
#2 A-GRAFO 2018 RODITIS "ORANGE" WHITE, KORDITSA, GREECE
Winemaker Andreas Kontozisis made this delicious orange/amber wine from organically farmed Roditis. The grapes were macerated for 35 days in stainless steel; the fermentation, with the indigenous yeast, lasted 15 days. The wine was bottled unfiltered and without added sulfur.
#3 LAFERME ROUGE 2017 PETITE ROUGE, ZAER, MOROCCO
This is a delightful blend of organically farmed Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Marselan (a crossing of Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon) from the Zaer region of Morocco. La Ferme Rouge was founded as a vineyard and olive orchard in 1908. The winery was started in 1933. Located in the Zaer region of Morocco, about 45 kilometers from the Atlantic ocean and at an elevation of 450 meters, the vineyards benefit from cool ocean breezes. Grapes are hand-picked, pressed gently and fermented in temperature-regulated concrete vats. Winemaker Jaques Poulain believes in farming harmoniously with nature.
#4 TERRA INITIA 2016 RKATSITELI WHITE, REP. OF GEORGIA
This clean, crisp white comes to us from the Republic of Georgia where wine has been made for thousands of years. Rkatsiteli is a grape variety native to this area. The Terra Initia is pleasant and very easy to drink on a hot afternoon.
Terra Initia is a negociant project whose idea is to select wines that can convey the true spirit of Georgia: wines that glorify the oldest of the terroirs and the organoleptic of indigenous varieties. After all, these terroirs and grapes can both be proud of history and be confident about the future.
#5 CHATEAU MUSAR 1999 RED, BEKAA VALLEY, LEBANON
The flagship Musar bottling, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan is complex and rich, save for the gust of spice that comes in on the acidity and brightens the finish. It’s wild and warm, a mature Mediterranean red with a forest floor complexity that keeps it engaging for hours.
#6 ACROTERRA 2017 SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO BLEND, GREECE
The vineyards are located adjacent to the villages of Pyrgos and Megalochori. Ungrafted vines over 80 years old which are not irrigated. The microclimate in Santorini is characterized as semi-desert, hot during the day and cooler at night. The vineyards benefit from the sea air and humidity. Aromas of lemon-lime zest and pure volcanic earth Saline Chalky Crispy acidity minerality Long aftertaste and balanced acidity.
#7 KABAJ 2014 BELI PINOT (PINOT BLANC), GORISKA BRDA, SLOVENIA
Kabaj (kuh bye) is located in the sun kissed Goriška Brda hills of Western Slovenia, neighbor to Collio, Italy. Their 29 acres of hand-tended mature vines are planted to deep Marl soils left behind by an ancient sea. All wines are fermented slowly with native yeast and complete malolactic fermentation. This wine received two weeks of skin contact and was aged for a year in neutral oak. No sulfur was added at bottling and the grapes are sustainably farmed. This dry white displays good texture and dry, apple and pear flavors.
#8 SKOURAS 2018 MOSCOFILERO WHITE, PELOPONNESE, GREECE
Aromatic with aromas of white flowers and white peaches, the Skouras 2018 Moscofilero has good fruit in the mouth yet a clean and crisp finish. It is a dry wine with a lively feel and vivid flavor. Sourced from vines at 650 meters, this is always crisp and elegant. The fruit is always elevated. Then, it just coats the palate, despite its elegant demeanor. It lingers beautifully on the long, dry finish.