Page 1

1400+

WINES REVIEWED

2017 WINE STAR WINNERS REVEALED

BEST ES S OF YEAR Y AR A 201 0 7

1

#

WINE OF THE YEAR

$5.99 US & CANADA

PLUS: Winemag.com

TOP 100 SPIRITS & TOP 25 BEERS


BEST OF YEAR

Features 66

TOP 100 SPIRITS OF 2017 BY KARA NEWMAN

94

TOP 25 BEERS OF 2017 BY LAUREN BUZZEO

THE ENTHUSIAST

1OO 2017 OF

42 BY THE EDITORS OF WINE ENTHUSIAST Our definitive list of the year’s most exceptional wines.

2 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


2014 CARMENERE

AWARDED

TOP 100 90 POINTS BEST BUY AUGUST 2016

VINTAGE 2014

VINTAGE 2014

POINTS

©2017 Trinchero Vineyards, St. Helena, CA 94574

2015

VINTAGE 2014

BEST BUY

2016

WWW.CARMEN.COM

2016


114

Haute German

BEST OF YEAR Features 58

WASHINGTON CABERNET SAUVIGNON BY SEAN P. SULLIVAN

In a region known for vinous diversity, could this grape take the title of the state’s greatest?

82

ULTIMATE WINE TOURS BY RISA WYATT

Your trip of a lifetime doesn’t need hours of planning.

102

NORDIC BY NATURE BY KARA NEWMAN

A regional guide to best-in-class bottles from Scandinavia and beyond.

114

THE RISE OF NEW GERMAN CUISINE BY ANNA LEE C. IIJIMA

Global influence and bright, fresh flavors make for deliciously modern dishes.

125

WINE STAR AWARDS BY THE EDITORS OF WINE ENTHUSIAST

These are the luminaries who shaped our drinking landscape in 2017.

102

Scandi-cool 4 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

82

Vinous voyage


BEST OF YEAR Departments

Columns

WINEMAG.COM

EDITOR’S LETTER

12

10

Listen up to the Wine Enthusiast podcast

The Top 10 Wine Stories of 2017 BY ADAM STRUM

OUT & ABOUT

VIEWPOINT

14

40

Spain’s Great Match; Indaba Education Fund; Women in Wine Leadership Symposium

THE CRUSH 17 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38

Fizzy business Red grapes gone pale Keep pom and carry on Minnesota-nice wines When cookies met cocktails Tea for every palate What to eat, drink and do in Aspen, Colorado Q+A: Danica Patrick A soup-er tasty recipe Mocktails made better through science Coffee Cocktail, hold the coffee

Cocktail trends to get excited about BY KARA NEWMAN

LAST DROP 264 Running Ragged BY VICKI DENIG

Buying Guide 162 188 192 196 196 226 228 229 231 243 253 255 256

30

Snackin’ in Aspen

6 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Australia 258 Chile 260 Uruguay 261 Brazil 262 California 263 Washington Idaho Virginia Portugal Bordeaux Southwest France Central Italy Veneto

32

On track

Piedmont Romania Morocco Spirits Beer

17

Sparkle on


Never stop innovating. That’s how we transformed a hayfield to the nation’s largest Biodynamic® vineyard. It’s how we helped put Oregon Pinot Gris on the map. It’s why we launched our Acrobat brand and made Oregon wine more widely accessible. And then we successfully petitioned the first ever Willamette Valley AVA expansion. And we’re just getting started.

KING ESTATE WINERY | 80854 TERRITORIAL RD., EUGENE, OR 97405 | KINGESTATE.COM ©2017 KING ESTATE WINERY - Please Drink Responsibly


VOLUME 30, NUMBER 12

PUBLISHER & EDITOR Adam M. Strum SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF MEDIA Jay Spaleta EDITORIAL EXECUTIVE EDITOR Susan Kostrzewa MANAGING EDITOR Lauren Buzzeo SENIOR EDITOR Layla Schlack ASSOCIATE EDITOR Sarah Daniels EUROPEAN EDITOR Roger Voss ITALIAN EDITOR Kerin O’Keefe SPIRITS EDITOR Kara Newman CONTRIBUTING EDITORS, WINE Michael Schachner, Paul Gregutt, Virginie Boone, Jim Gordon, Matt Kettmann, Sean P. Sullivan, Anna Lee C. Iijima, Anne Krebiehl, Christina Pickard CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, FOOD Nils Bernstein CONTRIBUTING EDITORS, LIFESTYLE & ENTERTAINING Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BUSINESS Leslie Gevirtz WInemag.com DIGITAL MANAGING EDITOR Marina Vataj SENIOR DIGITAL EDITOR Jameson Fink ASSOCIATE DIGITAL EDITOR Dylan Garret SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR Elyse Estrella JUNIOR SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR Evan Spadaccini CREATIVE PRINT CREATIVE DIRECTOR Marco Turelli ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR Monica Simon DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Megan Baggott DIRECTOR OF PRINT PRODUCTION Barbara Gianisis DIGITAL DIGITAL CREATIVE DIRECTOR Julia Lea ASSOCIATE DIGITAL DESIGNER Matthew Dimas TASTING TASTING DIRECTOR Lauren Buzzeo TASTING MANAGER Alexander Peartree SENIOR TASTING COORDINATOR Fiona Adams TASTING COORDINATORS Carrie Dykes, Angela Kahn EDITORIAL OFFICES HEADQUARTERS 200 Summit Lake Drive, Valhalla, NY 10595 TEL: 914.345.9463 editor@wineenthusiast.net CALIFORNIA Virginie Boone vboone@wineenthusiast.net; Jim Gordon jgordon@wineenthusiast.net; Matt Kettmann mkettmann@wineenthusiast.net EUROPE Roger Voss rvoss@wineenthusiast.net; Anne Krebiehl akrebiehl@wineenthusiast.net ITALY Kerin O’Keefe kokeefe@wineenthusiast.net PACIFIC NORTHWEST Paul Gregutt pgregutt@wineenthusiast.net; Sean Sullivan ssullivan@wineenthusiast.net

ADVERTISING & MARKETING SENIOR VP PUBLISHING Jay Spaleta TEL: 914.218.9262 jspaleta@wineenthusiast.net SALES MARKETING DIRECTOR Brett Rachlin brachlin@wineenthusiast.net CREATIVE SERVICES DIRECTOR Taryn Sefecka tsefecka@wineenthusiast.net WEST COAST DIRECTOR Allison Langhoff TEL: 800.321.4105 alanghoff@wineenthusiast.net WEST COAST ACCOUNT MANAGER Karen Moore TEL: 510.225.8537 kmoore@wineenthusiast.net WEST COAST MEDIA ASSISTANT Lucia Gracia TEL: 408.636.8194 lgracia@wineenthusiast.net FLORIDA & BUYING GUIDE MANAGER Denise Valenza TEL: 800.315.4397 dvalenza@wineenthusiast.net NY ACCOUNT MANAGER Margaret Kalaher mkalaher@wineenthusiast.net ACCOUNT MANAGER Sherrill Flaum sflaum@wineenthusiast.net MARKETING ANALYST Gregory Jones gjones@wineenthusiast.net ADVERTISING SERVICES COORDINATOR Chuck Criss ccriss@wineenthusiast.net DIGITAL ADVERTISING DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL ADVERTISING Greg Remillard gremillard@wineenthusiast.net DIGITAL ADVERTISING SALES COORDINATOR Bridget Thomas bthomas@wineenthusiast.net

EVENTS & EVENT PARTNERSHIPS MANAGER, SPECIAL PROJECTS & EVENTS Jen Cortellini jcortellini@wineenthusiast.net EVENTS ASSISTANT Jennifer Sullivan jsullivan@wineenthusiast.net PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER Cara McIlwaine cmcilwaine@wineenthusiast.net

CIRCULATION PROCIRC 3191 Coral Way, Suite 510, Miami, FL CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Jim Motrinec jim.motrinec@procirc.com RETAILERS To carry Wine Enthusiast Magazine, call 800.381.1288 ext. 6048

SUBSCRIPTIONS SUBSCRIPTION INQUIRIES 800.829.5901 (International: 386.447.2397) wineenthusiast@emailcustomerservice.com BACK ISSUES AND ADDITIONAL COPIES Chuck Criss ccriss@wineenthusiast.net

WINE ENTHUSIAST COMPANIES CHAIRMAN Adam M. Strum CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Sybil Strum PRESIDENT Hank Rosen CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Heidi Moore CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER Glenn Edelman VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING Erika Strum DIRECTOR OF NEW BUSINESS & COMMUNICATIONS Jacqueline Strum Wine Enthusiast (ISSN 1078.3318) is published monthly with one special issue, a total of 13 times per year. Wine Enthusiast may occasionally publish a double issue. Double issues count as 2 issues of the 13 in an annual subscription. Wine Enthusiast may also publish occasional extra issues. Subscriptions are $34.95 (International: Canada $59.95; Foreign $89.95). ©2017 Wine News, Inc. 200 Summit Lake Drive, Valhalla, NY 10595. Periodical postage paid at Valhalla, NY and additional mailing offices. Manufactured and printed in the USA. Reprints: You must obtain permission to reproduce any material. Postmaster: Please send address changes to Wine Enthusiast, P.O. Box 420234, Palm Coast, FL 32142.0234.

8 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


ward lower-alcohol wines that allow for easier drinking. Producers complied by picking grapes earlier and crafting wines that have been deemed as “fresher” pours. Crisp reds like Zweigelt, as well as light red blends, zippy whites and dry rosés won with the crowds, but the jury is still out on whether these changes have consumer longevity, and whether manipulation is going too far to the detriment of a variety’s typical aroma or flavor profile.

THE TOP 10

WINE STORIES OF 2017

8

TECHNOLOGY IN THE DINING SPACE

1

CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY WILDFIRES

With scores of casualties and over 245,000 acres and 8,400 homes destroyed across Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake and Solano Counties, September’s devastating and seemingly endless wildfires were center stage for wine stories this year. Actual winery and vine destruction was limited, but labor loss and displacement of workers, as well as firefighter support and potentially lost tourism dollars, are just some of the formidable challenges the future holds. Swift and unified mobilization for short- and long-term relief not only helped lessen the heavy rescue and rebuilding load, but proved just how big these regions’ hearts really are.

2

CLIMATE CHANGE

California blazes were not the only weatherrelated disasters. Massive wildfires in Portugal, Spain, Washington State and beyond, coupled with torrential rain, hail, frost and drought damage in major regions of Italy and France, impacted yields and kept agronomists on edge. Anticipation of imminent climate change meant a rising industry interest in regions like Great Britain and Oregon. Innovative methods for coping with unusual conditions are sure to grow this coming year.

3

WINE’S IMPACT ON THE AMERICAN ECONOMY

A detailed study conducted by John Dunham & Associates of the wine industry’s national economic impact revealed that its benefit to the U.S. economy reached almost $220 billion in 2017, a figure derived from the nearly 1.8 million American jobs the industry supports and a benefit felt across all 50 wine-producing states. These numbers not only prove wine is a massive boon that enhances quality of life, but also show winemaking will be a national institution for years to come.

10 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

4

LABOR, LABOR, LABOR

The administration’s crackdown on immigration this year only exacerbated the issue of farm labor. With questions about legal status and deportation in the spotlight, laborers from Mexico and Central America were more hesitant to seek work above the border. Producers are left wondering who would pick the grapes, shelling out top dollar and vying with one another for any hands they could get.

5

MARIJUANA MOVES IN

6

CONSOLIDATION/MERGERS/ACQUISTIONS

7

HIGHER-ACID, LOWER-ALCOHOL WINES

With legalization in eight states and counting, questions about the drug’s impact on the wine industry are now taking shape. Competition for farm labor is expected to intensify, but what about competition for actual land? Connections between wine and cannabis appreciation are also hot topics as this category literally and figuratively grows.

Brand acquisitions and mergers made waves all year long. Jackson Family Wines bought Brewer-Clifton early on, Napa’s Duckhorn Wine Company owners snapped up Calera Wine Co., and E. & J. Gallo purchased Napa’s historic Stagecoach Vineyard in August—just to name a few. In the beer and spirits sectors, Lagunitas Brewing Company was fully acquired by Heineken in May, and Pernod Ricard purchased a majority stake in mezcal producer Del Maguey in June. We’re led to ask…how will these transactions affect tastes and retail space?

Brighter, zestier wines like Albarino, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir gained momentum in the consumer realm, paired with a national shift to-

Restaurants and wine bars nationwide turned increasingly to interactive, device-driven wine lists for patrons, offering education, easier list browsing and exploration in just a few taps. Led by demand from a younger, more digitally-driven clientele, the industry continues to innovate to meet evolving wine-drinking needs.

9

REGIONS/COUNTRIES ON THE RISE

American wine drinkers are becoming continually more adventurous, and this year’s willingness to uncork the unknown opened up a brave new world of wine regions on the rise. Greece, New Zealand, Portugal, France (Beaujolais) and South Africa all saw a significant increase in imports by and sales in the U.S. this year.

10

ROSÉ AND SPARKLING CONTINUE TO DOMINATE

“Rosé all day” was more than just a turn of phrase for the second year running, with the pink stuff ’s sales tripling over the last two years and rosé-focused events, content and social media discussions blowing up nationwide. Bubblies, too, continued their steady climb, with all categories of sparkling wine up as drinkers consider them for everyday enjoyment. The ongoing lovefest represents the sturdy trend in America for wines that are food-driven, accessible (in price point and availability) and from diverse places.

ADAM STRUM EDITOR & PUBLISHER

@adamstrum

JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY

The news and trends that most impacted the wine world this year.


Stands with Northern California In the wake of the tragedies caused by the wildfires in Northern California, Wine Enthusiast is committed to helping rehabilitate these beloved communities. With this goal in mind we have officially partnered with Rebuild Wine Country, a long term giving fund founded by wine industry professionals to rebuild homes that were lost in the deadly wine country fires, for those who need it most.

To join us in our efforts please visit their website to learn more at

RebuildWineCountry.org. In partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County to rebuild homes in Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Lake and Mendocino Counties.


WINEMAG.COM

PODCAST

Listen up! Hosted by rotating W.E. editors, our podcast series features the best and brightest personalities from the food and beverage worlds. We tap into all the stories and sips that make this culture so tantalizing. Follow us @WineEnthusiast

Music in the Tasting Room Winemaker Trey Busch of Walla Walla’s Sleight of Hand Cellars talks about how music has influenced his winemaking.

Renegade Australian Winemakers Experts in “New” Australia reveal how producers are redefining the reputations of established wine regions.

Download On: Cannabis & Wine With marijuana legalization flying high in some states, we explore the parallels between the two with the experts at Leafly.com.

12 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

ILLUSTRATION: REBECCA BRADLEY

Visit winemag.com/podcast to listen


out&about SIPS AND SNAPS AROUND THE GLOBE

SPAIN’S GREAT MATCH More than 300 Spanish wines, plus bites from top New York Spanish restaurants, were available at the 24th annual Spain’s Great Match held in New York City, in October. The event also highlighted Spain’s design contributions.

W.E. Contributing Editor Michael Schachner

Director Katrin Naelappa, Wines From Spain, Trade Commission of Spain

Schachner on a panel with Barteca Restaurant Group Wine Director Gretchen Thomas and Doug Frost, MS, MW

INDABA EDUCATION FUND Importer Cape Classics and South Africa-based nonprofit Indaba Education Fund held a fundraiser in New York City, in October. Members of the wine industry came out to support early childhood education in

Gwenaëlle Bidault; Winemaker Philippe Colin

the winelands.

CEO Andre Shearer, Cape Classics; Letsié Khotso Khabele, KoSchool; James Walton, Walton Family Foundation; Dominique Walton; Choi; Model/Actor Boris Kodjoe

Managing Director Jeff Allen, M.S. Walker; Executive Vice President Molly Choi, Cape Classics; Senior Vice President Doug Shaw, M.S. Walker

W.E. Managing Editor and Tasting Director Lauren Buzzeo; Cape Classics President and COO Robert Bradshaw

WOMEN IN WINE LEADERSHIP SYMPOSIUM This annual New York City event is an opportunity for industry to network and learn. The theme this year was increasing diversity and innovation.

Marilyn Krieger, The Winebow Group; Laura Catena, MD, Bodega Catena Zapata; Nathalie Tollot, Domaine Tollot-Beaut; Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt, Laurent-Perrier; Sommelier Madeline Triffon, MS, Plum Markets; Miriam Caporali, Valdipiatta; Jancis Robinson

Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon, PhD, Catalyst; Sommelier Maria Garcia; Dorothy Gaiter, Grape Collective; Triffon; General Manager and Wine Director Cheron Cowan, Harold's Meat + Three

14 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

IÑAKI VINAIXA ; HAL CAMPBELL

women in all facets of the


S P E C I A L P R O M OT I O N

TRENTODOC Italy’s Premier Sparkler

Fragrant, savory and loaded with elegance, bottle-fermented wines from the mountainous Trentino province in northern Italy have long been the sparkling wines of choice for Italians. Part of the success behind these stunning sparklers—which are regulated under the Trento D.O.C. denomination and known by their collective trademark Trentodoc—is their unique growing area, located on mid-mountain slopes surrounded by the soaring, breathtakingly beautiful Dolomites, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Situated between 200 and 800 meters (656–2,635 feet) above sea level, the combination of pristine mountain air, highaltitude vineyards and plenty of sunlight generate hot days and cool nights during the growing season, which encourage perfect grape ripening. This ideal maturation generates enticing aromas, pronounced flavors and bright acidity. While the extraordinary growing conditions are fundamental, producer experience is also crucial. Trentino has a long history of making bottlefermented sparkling wines—known in Italy as Metodo Classico. Trentodoc, the first Metodo Classico D.O.C. wine in Italy and one of the first worldwide, traces its roots back to the early 1900s, when pioneer Giulio Ferrari realized the area’s extraordinary potential for sparkling wine production.

Then, as today, the main grapes behind the effervescent wines hailing from the vineyards around the city of Trento are Chardonnay and Pinot Nero. Chardonnay lends Trentodoc their fragrance and longevity while Pinot Nero provides structure and finesse. Quality has always been paramount in Trentino, and Trentodoc’s 48 producers still harvest by hand. Quality remains the focus in the cellars too. Once

trentodoc.com For more information contact istituto@trentodoc.com

the base wine has been produced, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle, followed by long aging on the lees ranging from 15 months for Brut, 24 months for Millesimato and 36 months for Riserva. While these are the mandatory minimum aging periods, nearly all producers age their wines for far longer, sometimes up to ten years, allowing Trentodoc to develop remarkable complexity. Thanks to Trentodoc’s elegance and complexity, it makes an excellent aperitif. With the exception of desserts, it also pairs beautifully with most food: from simple appetizers to even the most elaborate dishes. Look for the Trentodoc logo that guarantees you’re buying Italy’s authentic mountain sparkler.


RARE FIND

AARON GRAUBART

First presented to Marie Antoinette in 1785, Piper-Heidsieck earned 14 royal and imperial warrants. A diamond-andgold-encrusted bottle in 1875 became, in effect, the first prestige cuvĂŠe. Learn more about other prestige cuvĂŠes and beautiful bubblies from around the globe. >>

WINEMAG.COM | 17


POP FIZZ

BUBBLY PERSONALITIES Explore sparkling wines from around the world.

Champagne is the most famous of the sparkling wines, but it certainly isn’t the only quality offering available. With entertaining at the forefront, consider this your guide to the high-end, the quirky and how to serve it all. —Anne Krebiehl, MW

Regions cooled by latitude, altitude or breezes are ideal sources for sparkling wine. Look for “traditional method,” “méthode traditionelle” or “metodo classico” on the label, and seek out the following regions:

Trentodoc—elegant, vibrant sparkling wine made from Chardonnay and Pinot Nero—comes from Alpine heights, in Trentino, Italy. Italian Franciacorta, made predominantly from Chardonnay and Pinot Nero (a few producers also use some Pinot Bianco), is usually richer, which allows many producers to use less dosage or skip it entirely. Spanish Cava, traditionally made from Xarello, Parellada and Macabeo grapes, has a round fruitiness. Californian fizz is often made with Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir, with Pinot Meunier sometimes in the mix. It’s marked by Pacific freshness and grace. German or Austrian sekt is made from a range of grapes. Try Riesling sekt for added aroma, or Zweigelt rosé for fruity flavors. English fizz, which uses the classic French trio of grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier), is an up-and-comer that impresses with its cool briskness. Back in France, non-Champagne sparklers fermented in bottle are known as crémant. Both Loire and Alsace have lots to offer.

18 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

AARON GRAUBART

Sparkling Around the World


What Are Prestige Cuvées? Prestige cuvées are top-of-the-range sparkling wines usually made from a special selection of vineyard parcels or reserve wines. Often produced in limited quantities, these stand above the nonvintage bottlings and alongside vintage releases. Sometimes, they’re vintagedated or aged for an especially long time. Meant to represent the very best sparklers that a house can offer, they are ideal to mark a special occasion.

CHAMPAGNE IN THE MIX Something about bubbles evokes Hollywood’s golden age. A number of screen goddesses loved coupes of refreshing, invigorating bubbles on and off screen: Anita Ekberg, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Bette Davis and, most of all, Marilyn Monroe. While a glass of fizz channels plenty of Old Hollywood glamour, Champagne cocktails increase the allure.

Bottles to Look For Louis Roederer 2009 Cristal Brut (Champagne) Domaine Carneros 2010 Le Rêve Estate Grown Blanc de Blancs (Carneros) Barone Pizzini 2013 Naturae (Franciacorta) Alta Alella 2012 Privat Opus Evolutium Gran Reserva Brut Nature (Cava)

Cool It Sparkling wines are best served at 46–50˚F. Ideally the bottle has had ample time to chill. Though a full day or night in the refrigerator is best to ensure the bottle will be very cold and still, the minimum chill time in the fridge is two hours. Bottles that are agitated before opening tend to foam, as do bottles not sufficiently chilled—a waste of delicious wine. If you need to chill a bottle quickly, use an ice bucket filled with an equal mix of ice and water. Submerge the bottle so that only the neck sticks out. It will reach its ideal serving temperature in approximately 20–25 minutes.

✦ The Marilyn Monroe (right) is made by combining 1 ounce apple brandy with a dash of grenadine in a coupe glass, then topping with 4 ounces Champagne. Garnish with cocktail cherries on a stick. ✦ The Classic Champagne Cocktail is equally festive and easy to make. Drop 1 sugar cube into the bottom of a flute. Add a few drops of Angostura Bitters, followed by a splash of Cognac. Top with Champagne.


COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES

The Wine

What It’s Like

Did You Know?

Cabernet Sauvignon

Initial notes of peach skin, ripe pear and Golden Delicious apple tease your brain into thinking it’s a traditional white, but raspberry comes as a surprise. The texture evokes tannins, which provide an enjoyable mental puzzle as you sip this sumptuous, complex wine.

Mexico’s burgeoning wine scene is a playground of experiments that includes whites as well as unexpected red blends (Tempranillo and Nebbiolo, anyone?).

The crystalline color belies the spectrum of flavors that erupt on the palate. Lively and juicy, the bright cherry and red berries normally found in Sangiovese shine through, along with nectarine and floral notes.

Although Tuscany is best known for its reds, the first wine ever granted Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status in Italy was Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a Tuscan white wine.

Texturally intriguing, the first sip is reminiscent of biting an apple. Tropical fruit, ripe banana and bitter almond flavors persist on the palate, while a slightly viscous and round mouthfeel are enlivened by bright acidity.

Considered the flagship wine of the estate, the 2017 vintage will mark the 10th anniversary of this rare cuvée.

The floral, apricot, citrus and raspberry aromas are delicate, but this wine’s got power. Robust, with good structure and length, you’ll ponder for hours if it’s better with fish or meat. (Hint: It goes well with both.)

Pradorey ages this wine on lees from Verdejo to give it the desired lushness.

Rivero González Blanco (Parras Valley)

Sangiovese Cantina LaSelva Sangiovese Bianco (Toscano)

Pinotage Mellasat ∑ White Pinotage (Paarl)

Tempranillo

Complex, bold and richly textured, these white wines from red grapes challenge convention. Grapes are pressed gently to avoid skin contact for wines with red-fruit notes, minus the color and tannins. —Shana Clarke

20 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Pradorey El Cuentista (Castilla y León)

SANJAY O'VACY

SHADES OF PALE


PARED-DOWN PAIRING To seed a pomegranate, score around midsection and pull halves apart. Submerge in a bowl of water, cut side down, and turn inside out, using your fingers to separate the seeds, which will sink, from the pith.

SUPER SEEDS Open a pomegranate for ttasty, asty, jewel-like jewel-llike fruit. fruit.

I

t’s one of the world’s oldest fruits, mentioned in Greek mythology and the Bible. Many scholars even hypothesize the “forbidden fruit” that tempted Adam and Eve was not an apple, but a pomegranate. With a chambered interior filled with jewellike, blood-red seeds, the pomegranate has been a powerful symbol of love and lust, life and death. In more practical terms, its tartsweet taste is a valuable culinary commodity during the stark winter season. Pomegranate seeds can add a pop of flavor in salads. They’re also great stirred into guacamole or hummus, as a garnish for curries, added to pan sauces for pork or atop a goat-cheese bruschetta. Anywhere you’d squeeze a lemon, consider a sprinkle of fresh pomegranate seeds. —Nils Bernstein

The Spanish city of Granada is named after the Spanish word for pomegranate.

“Pomegranate molasses” is simply reduced pomegranate juice. It’s used in savory dishes throughout the Middle East.

22 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Pomegranate trees can live for more than 200 years.

The pomegranate has been used as a symbol of fertility in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

“Pomegranate is a bright, tart flavor, so I tend to pair it with white wines or very light-bodied reds,” says Josef Centeno, a Los Angeles chef, restaurateur and author of Bäco: Vivid Recipes from the Heart of Los Angeles (Chronicle Books, 2017). He says whites with some skin contact offer both brightness and depth of flavor. “The same applies to dishes made with pomegranate syrup, depending on the dish,” he adds. “For muhammara, a dip which is spicy with peppers and rich with nuts, a fullerbodied wine works well.”

SANG AN

PAIR IT


ROOTED IN

TO KALON INSPIRED BY PERFECTION

From Robert Mondavi’s lifelong vision for a first-growth vineyard comes THE RESERVE —a legendary bottle boasting five decades of 90+ scores.

RobertMondaviWinery.com/Visit-Us Please enjoy our wine responsibly. © 2017 Robert Mondavi Winery, Oakville, CA.


ONE IN 50

GROWING STRONG winemakers innovate to make the state’s harsh climate work.

T

24 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

MINNESOTA Wine Industry

AVAs

A Alexandria Lakes Upper Mississippi River Valley

Wineries to Know

7 Vines Vineyard and Winery Alexis Bailly Vineyard Cannon River Winery Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery Round Lake Vineyards & Winery Saint Croix Vineyards Winenhaven Winery & Vineyard First Commercial Vineyard Firs

Alexis Bailly V Vineyard 1973

Important Grapes Frontenac Frontenac Blanc Frontenac Gris La Crescent Marechal Foch Marquette

Wine Trails

Upper St. Croix Wine Trail St. Croix Wine Trail Heartland Wine Trail Three Rivers Wine Trail Great River Road Wine Trail

ILLUSTRATION: KAVEL RAFFERTY

he Minnesota wine industry is defined by bleak winters that can dip below minus-30˚F and grapes that are hardy enough to thrive anyway. But winter isn’t the only challenge. “Minnesota has relatively short summers,” says Matthew Clark, assistant professor at University of Minnesota. “Spring can be a challenge, as plants may break dormancy and then be greeted with a frost in May that can decimate a crop. And a crop needs to be able to ripen before the first frost events [of fall].” Typical cool-climate grapes like Chardonnay and Riesling might not ripen. Even many FrenchAmerican hybrids grown throughout the Northeast and Midwest can struggle to survive. Instead, grapes such as Frontenac, La Crescent and Marquette have been developed at the University of Minnesota to withstand such challenging conditions. They form the backbone of the state’s nascent wine industry. Many producers are found in the valleys of the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix Rivers, in the southern part of the state. “These glacial river valleys offer the topography and soils needed for making high-quality wines,” says Peter Hemstad, co-owner of Saint Croix Vineyards in Stillwater. “Much of the rest of Minnesota has deep, rich prairie soils that are not conducive to quality wine production.” Commercially available since 2006, Marquette has been embraced by producers for aromas and flavors often including cherries and other red fruits with black pepper and spice, but can vary greatly depending on where it’s grown. “I am already seeing some terroir differences from various Marquette sites here,” says Mike Drash, winemaker at Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery in Kasota. As the university explores new varieties and winemakers refine the best ways to work with what they have, Drash thinks it’s time for Minnesota wines to reach a larger audience. “With the whole lower alcohol, more acid movement, the Minnesota varieties hit all that and more,” he says. —Lenn Thompson


COOKIE MONSTER

Pink Peppercorn Thumbprints Dorie Greenspan, widely regarded as the queen of cookies, gives the classic jam thumbprint an update with white chocolate and piquant pink peppercorns. Save a little extra strawberry jam for the cocktail, a riff on a classic from late bartending legend Sasha Petraske. COCKTAIL PAIRING

Cosmonaut In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine 2 ounces gin, ¾ ounce lemon juice and 1 teaspoon strawberry jam. Shake well and strain into coupe glass.

QUIT MILKING IT

Pair your fresh-baked cookies with a cocktail instead.

T

ake a back seat, fancy desserts. The humble cookie plate is now a feature at a growing number of restaurants. “I wanted to celebrate things from my life, my childhood,” says Dan Kluger, chef/owner at Loring Place. “Growing up, there were always cookies in the house.” The recipes to the right channel those childhood delights, but each cookie is paired with a complementary cocktail to add an adult spin. —Kara Newman

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies Chef Dan Kluger has a secret to make these cookies extra luxurious: “Feves are larger chocolate disks that make for great layers of chocolate in the cookies; they also tend to be made with higherquality chocolate,” says Kluger. To pair, chocolate and Bourbon are natural bedfellows. COCKTAIL PAIRING

Old Fashioned Muddle 1 sugar cube with 2–3 dashes Angostura Bitters in bottom of rocks glass. Stir in 2 ounces Bourbon and ice. Garnish with orange peel.

Molasses Spice-Lemon Cookies Tart lemon filling is sandwiched between chewy, warmly spiced molasses cookies for a study in balance and contrast. To pair, a rum-based cocktail echoes the flavor of the robust molasses in the cookie. A straight pour of aged rum would be harmonious, too. COCKTAIL PAIRING

Palmetto In a mixing glass, combine 1½ ounces aged rum, 1½ ounces sweet vermouth, 1 dash orange bitters and ice. Stir until chilled and strain into a coupe glass.

Polvorones These crumbly, shortbread-style morsels melt in your mouth. They’re studded with chopped pecans for crunch and a rich, nutty flavor. Pair them with a cocktail made with amaretto to embrace the nuttiness.

To get the recipes for all four cookies pictured here, please visit winemag.com/ cookiecocktails

26 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

COCKTAIL PAIRING

The Godfather In rocks glass, stir together 2 ounces Scotch and ½ ounce amaretto with ice.

MEG BAGGOTT; COOKIES BY MISS RAY

(MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES)


This is not just a Prosecco. It’s Mionetto.

Since 1887, Mionetto in Northeast Italy’s enchanting Prosecco region has been writing its story, creating wines that captivate and inspire. The inimitable Mionetto style is expressed in this refined Prosecco Brut, with its seductive aromas and flavors of honey, golden apple and white peach. Experience Mionetto’s world of sparkling inspiration.

MionettoProseccoUSA.com CAMPAGNA FINANZIATA AI SENSI DEL REG. UE N. 1308/2013

CAMPAIGN FINANCED ACCORDING TO UE REGULATION No. 1308/2013

© 2017 M ione tto U SA, Im por ted by M i onetto U SA, W hi te Pl ai ns , N Y


ALL ABOUT LEAVES

TO A TEA

Whatever your favorite wine, there’s a brew that will suit your taste.

1

W

2

3

4

SANG AN

hile wine consumption continues to increase around the world, it still lags behind another terroirdriven beverage: tea. The evergreen Camellia sinensis shrub spread from China across Asia and Africa, and is now cultivated in a variety of styles. From tropical, monsoondrenched tea fields of northeast India to mountain peaks of central Taiwan, this little bush expresses time and place in every leaf. Whether white, yellow, green, oolong or black, all tea originates from the same parent plant. The major difference in styles come from varying amounts of oxidization allowed in the leaves after harvest. Like with wine, teas will vary in the level of tannins and fruitiness, and many of the more oxidized teas take on malty or nutty flavors. If you want to try teatotaling, find the perfect leaves based on your favorite wine. —Alexander Peartree

5

1

Try Assam black tea if big, bold wines like Barossa Shiraz are your game. Grown in the tropical climate of northeastern India, this malty black tea is all about power. It has broad tannins with a dense core of cocoa nibs.

2

Like the honeyed, floral character of Alsace Pinot Gris? Try Bai Mu Dan, a sundried, minimally oxidized, white tea from China’s Fuijan and Jiangxi provinces that maintains an elegant balance of levity and intensity.

28 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

3

Consider Dragonwell (or Longjing) green tea if Etna Bianco is your go-to white. Gently pan-fired to halt oxidation, this Chinese tea carries aromas of sweet hay and white flower, along with an earthy, stony palate that echoes the Sicilian volcanic whites.

4

Take a break from food-friendly Finger Lakes Riesling, and pair your dinner with Tieguanyin oolong. Resounding notes of peach and apricot carry on the palate of this highmountain Taiwanese tea. There’s also a juiciness and richness that makes it a perfect meal accompaniment.

5

If you collect Right Bank Bordeaux, try Shu Pu-erh. Often sold in cake form, this black tea is fermented and aged for at least one year. At that age, richness takes center stage. Matured a bit longer, the tea will display delicate floral and sweet earth tones.


ROCKIES STAR

destination

ASPEN

This mountain town has a world of charm beyond the slopes.

see

n the eastern edge of town stands the Shigeru Ban-designed Aspen Art Museum, a four-story building that exhibits international contemporary artists. Admission is free. Take a ride on the Silver Queen Gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain, where skiers and non-skiers alike can take in breathtaking views of the Elk Mountain Range. You can also meet with naturalists from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) for a guided snowshoe tour. As night falls, head downtown and take in a performance of music, comedy or theater at the historic Wheeler Opera House.

4

hour getaway

A little more than two hours from Aspen is Palisade, an agricultural town in the heart of the emerging Grand Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA), which comprises 19 wineries. Rent a bike from Rapid Creek Cycles and cycle along the Fruit & Wine Byway. Its three scenic routes, which range from five to 25 miles, weave through vineyards, orchards, lavender fields and past local market stands. Settle into the Palisade Wine Valley Inn, built in 1906, explore historic downtown Palisade or venture into the surrounding mesas on the Palisade Rim Trail for hiking and mountain biking.

Aspen Art Museum 30 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

MICHAEL MORAN/OTTO; JESSICA GRENIER; SUSAN JACKSON

O

So famed is the high-altitude oasis of Aspen, Colorado, that the biggest A-list celebrity is the place itself. Since the late 19th century, the boomtown in the Rocky Mountains has been home to silver miners and ski bums, CEOs and celebrities. But at its heart, the community revolves around the one thing that never changes—its mountains. Framed by 14,000-foot peaks, Aspen winters center around skiing, snowshoeing and uphilling, but there’s much to do off the snow, too. —Amiee White Beazley


drink

V

enture into The Red Onion, Aspen’s oldest saloon, for a beer from local breweries Aspen Brewing Company or Roaring Fork Beer Company. Another beloved, longstanding institution, Jimmy’s An American Restaurant & Bar boasts one of the country’s most extensive Tequila, mezcal and Japanese whiskey selections, not to mention an outstanding wine list that highlights lesser-known American producers. No trip to Aspen is complete, however, without an afternoon by the fireplace at The Little Nell hotel, complete with a 20,000-bottle wine cellar curated by Carlton McCoy, MS. Wine lovers should inquire about McCoy’s “Red Light Lounge” cellar experience.

Ute Mountaineer

The Little Nell Chefs Club

C

eat

hefs Club at The St. Regis Aspen Resort offers great entrées from worldrenowned chefs like Eric Ripert and Alain Ducasse, a wine list created by Jonathan Pullis, MS, and the best cocktails in Aspen. Meat & Cheese Restaurant and Farm Shop sells cheese and charcuterie, and its integrated café offers some of the freshest, farm-totable plates in the country. Top steakhouses include The Monarch and Aspen Kitchen, the latter beloved for its pink Himalayan salt room where beef is dry aged.

T

shop

rek into Ute Mountaineer, where you can buy everything you need for mountain living. On Main Street, the independent Explore Booksellers is a local treasure: Books, gifts and the town’s creative output are nestled into an old brown-and-white Victorian, with Pyramid Bistro serving healthy meals on the second floor. For women’s wear, visit Gray Aspen, where designer Sarah Gercke’s private label is the go-to for original Aspen fashion.

WINEMAG.COM | 31


PEDAL TO THE METTLE

GRACE AND DRIVE

D

anica Patrick was 10 when she drove her first go-kart. In 2005, she became the first woman to score a top-five finish at the Indianapolis 500. Three years later, she landed a majorleague win at Indy Japan 300. Patrick purchased Somnium on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley in 2009, naming it the Latin word for dream, because owning a winery was hers. This year, she released the first bottling, a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. Patrick also released a fitness book, Pretty Intense (Avery, 2017), which sums up how this NASCAR favorite races through life. —Christina Julian

Pretty Intense. Is that a reference to the

relaxing, conversation and spending time together over amazing food. How would you describe your wine?

I love wine that flows smoothly, that is bold and feminine, and feels like silk in your mouth. I’m not trying to make the biggest wine in Napa Valley. It’s not about density of tannins and weight of the wine, it’s about beautiful balance and elegance. My wines are also about creating an experience.

“I just fell in love with the lifestyle and romance of it all. That’s what drinking wine is all about…”

fierceness of the workout, or a comment on your personality?

Both! The program stresses how important intensity is when you work out. It is also a play on pretty, implying you can be both pretty and intense. What inspired your wine brand?

I had this great trip to [Napa] Valley, where I connected with winemaker Aaron Pott. He poured some amazing older wines, and I just fell in love with the lifestyle and romance of it all. That’s what drinking wine is all about:

32 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

What is your hope for Somnium?

I want people to fall in love with Napa Valley the way I did. People have these experiences they will never forget, and the wines they drink become an association with the lifestyle and environment here. Are there any correlations between racecar driving and winemaking?

There are lots of racecar drivers. We are all a little different in our style and approach.

There are also lots of wines in Napa Valley. You have to be yourself and stand for something. For me, it’s a quality product in the bottle and on the track. If you don’t have the right crew chief or pit stops or people building the car, it will fall short in so many other areas. Whether it’s racecar driving or running Somnium, it’s about getting good people.

WILLIAM BUCQUOY

Power byy finesse P ower tempered tempered b finesse is how Danica Patrick approaches car racing, fitness and wine.


Please enjoy our wines responsibly. Š 2017 Meiomi Wines, Acampo, CA

Bold berry aromas. Rich, velvety texture. All lead to the great taste of Meiomi Pinot Noir.

Discover more at Meiomi.com


RECIPE OF THE MONTH

HOT FUSION

This fricot is a spicy pot of French-inflected flavors.

In

his book Pantry and Palate, Halifax, Nova Scotia-based journalist Simon Thibault shines light on the homey cuisine of the Acadians, descendants of French colonists who landed in Eastern Canada during the 17th and 18th centuries. Many Acadians eventually resettled in Louisiana, where they became known as Cajuns and developed a culinary exchange that included their Maritime roots and Louisiana natives. Fricot is the Acadians’ traditional chicken soup. There are as many versions of this main-course dish in the Maritime provinces as there are households, but this spicy take is a prime example of the interchange that occurred between different cuisines. —Nils Bernstein

WINE PAIRING Pierre Sparr NV Brut Rosé (Crémant d’Alsace) Bubbles make a simple chicken soup feel extra-special, and this Alsace crémant nods to the cuisine’s French roots. Bright pink, it has aromas full of bruised apple peel. The frothy palate then majors on ripe, juicy redapple flavors and boosts them with bubbly foam. The finish is dry and very refreshing.

CAJUN FRICOT Adapted from Pantry and Palate (Nimbus Publishing, 2017), by Simon Thibault 4

tablespoons butter

1

onion, minced

1

pound smoked sausage, such as Andouille, sliced into ½-inch pieces

4

small carrots, peeled and diced

2

potatoes, peeled and diced

1

teaspoon cayenne pepper

1

bay leaf

1

4-pound chicken, skin removed, cut into 10 pieces

In medium stockpot set over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onions, season with a dash of salt and cook until translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Place sausage in pot, and cook another 5 minutes, or until browned. Add carrots, potatoes, cayenne and bay leaf, and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to bowl. Return pot to medium heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and brown chicken pieces on all sides. Add sausage mixture back to pot, followed by enough water to cover everything by 1 inch. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer, skimming off any scum that rises to top. Partially cover and simmer for 1 hour. If broth seems watery, uncover and reduce heat slightly. Remove chicken, and shred meat with two forks. Discard bones, and return chicken to pot. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serves 4–6.

34 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

SANG AN; FOOD STYLING BY FRANCES BOSWELL

Salt and pepper, to taste


MIX AND MATCH

THE MOCKTAIL FORMULA There’s a science to mixing nonalcoholic drinks

T

1 oz. ACID

½ oz. SWEET

4 oz. BASE

GARNISH

CUCUMBER SOUR

TEA TOTALER

ANOTHER G & TONIC

COCONUT COOLER

ORCHARD

WINTER SPICE

lime juice

lemon juice

grapefruit juice

lemon juice

apple or quince shrub

ginger beer

simple syrup

honey

agave

simple syrup

apple juice

maple syrup

limeflavored sparkling water

cold, strong black tea

tonic water

coconut water

nonalcoholic spirit, like Seedlip

sparkling water

muddled cucumber

lemon twist

grapefruit slice

mint sprig

apple slice

lime twist

To make simple syrup, dissolve sugar into an equal volume of water.

36 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

MONICA SIMON

he classic components of a cocktail are alcohol, a sour element (like citrus juice) and a sweet element (like simple syrup). But what about mocktails? That old ratio of two parts alcohol, one part sour, and one part sweet doesn’t quite work without the alcohol. But there’s a formula that does: four parts base, like club soda or iced tea, to go with one part sour and one-half part sweet. The base will play a role in how sweet or sour the finished product is. Tonic water, for example, is slightly bitter, while coconut water is somewhat sweet, which means this formula can make all sorts of drinks. Here are six to start with. —Amy Sherman


Something to Remember

Something to Enjoy Vinos de Arganza is a family business with deep roots in winemaking. The winery is owned by Víctor Robla, professional of long wine path, and his wife Ángeles Varela, who has returned to her origins, as her grandmother was the owner of big Villafranca del Bierzo vineyards and wineries since the fifteenth century. Together, they join the company in viticulture and enology. Today, Vinos de Arganza means the bet on the terroir, tradition and the incorporation of innovative systems to improve the wine making process… The commitment to the wine. Our wines are the product of the winery’s care and know-how. We have many awards and highest ratings behind us and our wines.

www.vinosdearganza.com


THE SPIRITED CRYSTAL BALL

Next year’s spirits and cocktail trends are more international and less boozy.

40 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

THREE TRENDS THAT NEED TO GO WHEN WE BID FAREWELL TO 2017, LET’S SAY BUH-BYE TO THESE TRENDS, TOO. Cocktails served in enormous copper vessels Sure, they’re fun, but they’re also superheavy, especially when filled with ice and liquid. Your nightcap shouldn’t double as a bicep workout. “The world’s most expensive…” From martinis garnished with precious gems to a $5,000 bottle of whiskey, the conspicuous consumption trend has to go. Activated charcoal in cocktails The ingredient that turns drinks a dramatic inky-black can be hazardous when consumed with certain medications. Pass.

Spirits Editor Kara Newman has been watching cocktail and spirits trends come and go for more than 10 years, with an impressive track record of calling them way ahead of the curve.

TOM ARENA

T

Plastic straws will fade away. Bars and hough it’s never easy to know restaurants are increasingly emphasizing what the future will hold, I’m sustainability—dialing down water waste, ready to call out some spirit recycling food scraps into inventive new trends that will dominate the dishes or syrups, etc. And plastic straws, year ahead. Here are four items I’m excited which contribute to debris floating in our to see—and sip—more of in 2018. oceans, are particularly in focus. Expect We’ll explore the wide world of whiskey. plastic straws to be replaced by compostable Drams will be more far-flung than ever paper or reusable metal before, as bottlings from straws in drinks that countries including New come with a straw at all. Zealand (Oamaruvian/ Drams will be more More low- and noDunedin), India (Paul far-flung than ever before, alcohol cocktails. In John) and South as bottlings from countries addition to drinks Africa (Bain’s) head including New Zealand, made with the swelling to U.S. shelves. While India and South Africa ranks of vermouths resembling classic and aperitivo spirits, Scotch whisky, each has head to U.S. shelves. watch for products like nuances that will hold Seedlip, a non-alcoholic my attention for a while. distillate made in the U.K. Though Seedlip Japanese gin is coming. American debuted in the U.S. in 2017, it’s anticipated consumers are already fans of Japanese to roll out more widely in the year ahead, whiskey; in 2018, keep an eye out for gin giving bartenders fresh ammo for interesting from producers like Nikka and Roku. They cocktails that involve little or no alcohol. feature the same silkiness found in Japan’s This could encourage other producers to whiskey bottlings, plus regional botanicals follow suit with varying non-alcoholic like yuzu and sansho pepper. I can’t wait to distillates of their own. mix them into martinis and other cocktails.


THE ENTHUSIAST

1OO 2017 OF

Our definitive list of the year’s most exceptional wines. BY THE EDITORS OF WINE ENTHUSIAST

As

the number of wines reviewed in Wine Enthusiast continues to climb higher and higher, with nearly 23,000 wines tasted in 2017, we are perpetually seeking opportunities to tell thirsty readers about what we’re drinking. We strive to offer resources that please all palates and help make the most of your vinous adventures. To that end, we take it upon ourselves to annually recap a year’s worth of tasting with our three Top 100 lists. In the November issue, we compile our Top 100 Best Buys, a roster of wines that exhibit excellent quality-to-price ratios. For the December 1 issue, we share our Top 100 Cellar Selections, a list of stand-out wines with serious long-term potential. Now comes the pièce de résistance: The Enthusiast 100. A showstopper in its own right, this best-of-the-best list illustrates the fantastic variety of wines available to consumers today. It features selections from 17 countries—including vibrant whites, rich reds, succulent rosés, brilliant bubbles and intense sweet wines—ensuring there’s something for even the most discerning wine lover. Beyond the bewildering array, this list boasts an average score of 94 points and median price of $35, which translates to an incredible bang for your buck. This year’s top spot goes to a Russian River Valley Chardonnay, the first No. 1 white wine in over 10 years! For its display of excellent quality, competitive pricing and wide availability—a veritable triple threat—the Gary Farrell 2015 Russian River Selection Chardonnay could not be overlooked as the top wine this year. You’ll find plenty of other killer selections on the list. And all of them, from California, Italy, France and beyond, are waiting for you. Just act quickly before stocks run out.

42 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


WINEMAG.COM | 43


ENTHUSIAST 100 I 2017 palate. Flavors of raisin, chocolate and blackberry finish with hefty tannins and a smear of mocha flavor. Drink from 2018–2026. Kobrand. Editors’ Choice. —M.S.

1

abv: 15%

6

Price: $48

4

95

Gary Farrell 2015 Russian River Selection Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). A scent of French butter offers an immediate invitation to this excellent wine. Austerity on the palate gives way to a juicy core of invigorating tangerine and white peach flavors. The gravelly minerality on the midpalate finishes softly and with ease. —V.B. abv: 13.8%

Price: $35

2

98 95

Trimbach 2013 Réserve Riesling (Alsace). Pure citrus zest rises from the glass: lovely, ripe lemon and zesty lime. The palate reinforces these flavors in a rapier-like fashion, with drive and energy in a very linear, energetic way. This seems like an elixir or a tonic full of vim, all informed by a central dynamic freshness. It has barely blossomed, but promises much future pleasure. This genie should be contained in its bottle for a while longer before letting it loose. It’s something to look forward to. Drink 2020–2035. Esprit du Vin. —A.K. abv: 13%

Price: $34

5

97

Produttori del Barbaresco 2011 Rabajà Riserva (Barbaresco). Combining finesse and structure, this impressive wine opens with alluring aromas of mature berry, pressed rose, aromatic herb, star anise, new leather and a balsamic note. The palate shows depth and tension, offering raspberry compote, Marasca cherry, licorice, clove and pipe tobacco alongside taut refined tannins. Hold for even more complexity. Drink 2019–2031. Vias Imports. Editors’ Choice. —K.O. abv: 14.5%

Price: $58

3

96

Alta Vista 2013 Single Vineyard Temis Malbec (Mendoza). Just when you think Alta Vista has gotten everything it can from Temis (see the 2012), this comes along to reset the benchmark. Ripe, round and lush on the nose, with full-force blackberry and prune aromas, this shows titanic grip, depth and ripeness on the

HOW THE WINES BREAK DOWN 44 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Williams Selyem 2014 Coastlands Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). Pretty as all get-out, this wine is a floral masterpiece—a study in coastal rose and forest scents with a counterpunch of white pepper that leaves one wanting more. Juicy raspberry, strawberry and tangerine flavors are seasoned in allspice and tobacco, the palate so beautifully delicate yet fully realized in savory complexity and length. —V.B. abv: 13.3%

Price: $75

7

95

Abbazia di Novacella 2015 Praepositus Kerner (Alto Adige). You’ll need to swirl the glass a few times to release the enticing scents of yellow stone fruit, Alpine herb and an intriguing smoky note. The savory vibrant palate is more expressive, delivering layers of crunchy green apple, zesty tangerine and juicy yellow peach set against crisp acidity. A flinty mineral note graces the lingering finish, lending even more depth. Drink through 2020. Abbazia di Novacella USA. Editors’ Choice. —K.O. abv: 14%

Price: $25

8

94

96

Alvear NV Solera 1927 Pedro Ximénez (Montilla-Moriles). One of the world’s best PX wines is Solera 1927, the pride of Alvear. Whatever solera stocks went into this bottling were well selected. Aromas of maple and fine wood turn to fig and caramel. Saturation and weight on the palate are expected, but this has some (though not a lot) acidic cut. Deep flavors of fig and Nutella finish with nuttiness and warmth. Drink or hold. Jorge Ordóñez Selections. Editors’ Choice. —M.S.

abv: 16%

ARGENTINA : 3

I

Château Vignelaure 2016 Rosé (Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence). This is one of the classics among Provence rosés. Produced from organically grown grapes and coming from an impressive red-wine-producing estate east of Aix-en-Provence, the wine is structured and ageworthy with its blend that includes Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich and full of red fruits, the wine is ready to drink now. Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: 13%

Price: $20

Price: $30/375 ml

AUSTRALIA : 4

I

AUSTRIA : 4

I

CANADA : 1

I

CHILE : 3


crunchy red cherry, strawberry, white pepper and mineral intensity. It’s impeccably balanced, with bright acidity and firm but elegant tannins. While it’s so tempting now, hold for even more complexity. Drink 2018–2033. Porto Vino Italiano. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

9

97

Taylor Fladgate NV 325 Anniversary Port. This is a superb blend of aged tawny Ports, blended to celebrate the company’s 325th anniversary. Filled with rich fruit, it has great depth and spicy richness although it is also impressively fresh. Dried fruits and red plums are lifted with a hint of smoky wood and good acidity. Like any tawny Port, it is ready to drink. Kobrand. —R.V. abv: 20%

abv: 12%

Price: $35

bring pinpoint focus throughout a seemingly endless parade of flavors. Editors’ Choice. —P.G. abv: 13.6%

Price: $36

15

95

Heitz 2016 Grignolino Rosé (Napa Valley). Heitz has made this stellar rosé from the rare Grignolino grape since 1961. Ruby-grapefruit red, it’s sultry in strawberry, watermelon, orange zest and salty spice flavors, highlighted by vibrant floral aromas. Editors’ Choice. —V.B.

13

Price: $40

abv: 13.5%

10

16

95

Easton 2014 Old Vine Rinaldi Vineyard Zinfandel (Fiddletown). A gorgeous aroma like roses and blackberries meets richly concentrated and ripe black-fruit flavors in this full-bodied, luxuriously textured wine. While extremely ripe and bold, the wine is also smooth and voluptuous, balanced out by silky tannins that keep the mouthfeel lively and fresh sip after sip. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 14.5%

Price: $24

94

95

Cartuxa 2014 Pêra-Manca Branco (Alentejo). The 2014 is only the fourth white release of this iconic label in 12 years, with 2005, 2009 and 2013 as the most recent vintages. It is impressive with structured white fruits and great acidity. A touch of minerality in the texture supports the vanilla and spice flavors. The balance is impeccable and elegant, with the potential to age further. Drink now; better from 2018. Tri-Vin Imports. Editors’ Choice. —R.V.

Price: $30

11

abv: 13.5%

Price: $50

14

Domaines Dominique Piron 2015 Vieilles Vignes (Moulin-à-Vent). Wonderful old vines facing south and southeast give a powerfully tannic, structured wine. They also give great black fruits, spice and a toasty edge from the wood aging. This is a dense wine with a serious future. Drink from 2020. Baron Francois Ltd. —R.V. abv: 14%

Price: $20

17

95

Shea 2014 Shea Vineyard Chardonnay (Willamette Valley). As fabulous as ever, this brilliant compendium of nutty-toastybuttery scents and flavors is never tiring. It’s vivid, fruit-loaded and bracing. Well-ripened citrus and stone fruits come into focus, along with streaks of vanilla and lemongrass. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.

abv: 13.6%

Price: $35

18

96

Trisaetum 2016 Ribbon Ridge Estate Dry Riesling (Ribbon Ridge). Stunningly good, this hits you with waves of fruit, acidity and spice. It reverberates across, down and through the palate, recalling clover, citrus zest and grapefruit, all underlaid by bracing minerality. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.

abv: 13.2%

Price: $32

12

95

Sineann 2015 Wy’east Pinot Noir (Columbia Gorge). Sineann’s Wy’east designate continues on a roll in 2015, and is simply one of the finest values in any Oregon Pinot Noir. Streaked with black tea, leavened with rose petals, dusted with cocoa and spiced up with a hint of anise, it’s a wine of stunning complexity and length. Vivid berry fruit flavors

96

Colombera & Garella 2013 Pizzaguerra (Lessona). This stunning red is all about finesse and light. It opens with lovely scents of violet, rose, perfumed berry and balsamic aromas while the radiant, almost ethereal palate delivers

I

ENGLAND : 1

I

FRANCE : 18

I

GERMANY : 3

I

GREECE : 1

I

94

Iron Horse 2013 Wedding Cuvée (Green Valley). Exuberant in mousse, this wine is luxurious and rich, the perfect quaff for a wedding of any sort. Made from 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, and aged for three years, this is bright in bolts of green apple and strawberry. —V.B.

abv: 13.5%

HUNGARY : 1

Price: $44

I

CONTINUES ON NEXT PAGE...

WINEMAG.COM | 45


ENTHUSIAST 100 I 2017

19

21

24

94

Monte da Ravasqueira 2014 Vinha das Romãs Red (Alentejano). This singlevineyard wine is richly structured and seriously impressive, coming from a parcel planted with Syrah and Touriga Franca. Wood-aging for 20 months has given the wine both spice and concentration. With the acidity and the firm tannins at the end, the wine will be ready to drink from 2019. LGL Imports LLC. —R.V. abv: 13.5%

96

Valderiz 2014 Juegabolos (Ribera del Duero). Toasty aromas suggest maple, along with a note of sawdust to accompany earthy berry scents. A rich, pure palate is intense but shows balance and comportment. Blackberry, cassis, peppery spice and integrated oak flavors are detailed, with a smooth finish. Drink this full-bodied wonder through 2028. Regal Wine Imports Inc. Editors’ Choice. —M.S.

95

abv: 15.5%

abv: 14.5%

Price: $50

20

Koehler 2014 Mourvèdre (Santa Ynez Valley). This is a complex and layered Mourvèdre. Fragrances of rose petals, cinnamon, mace, blackberry and black cherry prove almost overpowering, yet delicious. The palate puts black plum and black cherry together with star anise, clove and an array of baking spice. There’s a lot going on, but it’s harmonious and balanced. Editors’ Choice. —M.K.

Price: $25

25

Price: $30

22

96

95

Chateau Dereszla 2009 Aszú 5 Puttonyos (Tokaji). This golden-colored wine has enticing aromas of butterscotch, vanilla, caramel and pineapple upside-down cake. In the mouth, there are great flavors of dried apricot, mango, honeycomb and marzipan candies. It has elegant heft on the palate and balanced acidity in the finish. Enjoy now or keep in your cellar for another decade or so. Cognac One, LLC. Editors’ Choice. —J.J.

abv: 11.5%

Price: $43/500 ml

Il Colle 2011 Brunello di Montalcino. Red berry, wild mint, crushed rose, forest floor and new leather are just some of the aromas you’ll find on this fragrant delicious red. Seamlessly boasting structure and finesse, the full-bodied palate displays layers of succulent morello cherry, raspberry compote, licorice and cinnamon while firm velvety tannins lend support and a polished texture. A savory saline note wraps up the lingering finish. Drink 2018–2026. T. Edward Wines Ltd. —K.O.

abv: 14.5%

Price: $45

94

Tre Monti 2015 Vitalba Albana in Anfora (Romagna). Fermented in clay amphorae, this fascinating orange wine opens with alluring aromas of dried yellow stone fruit, baking spice, aromatic herb, pressed yellow flower and a balsamic note. Boasting more fruit and flavor than many other wines in this genre, the savory enveloping palate presents apricot, yellow peach, candied nectarine zest, crystallized ginger and a hint of flinty mineral. Tangy acidity provides balance and lift while a honeyed note closes the lingering finish. Simply gorgeous. Bacchanal Wine Imports. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

23

abv: 15%

94

26

Gundlach Bundschu 2016 Estate Vineyard Dry Gewürztraminer (Sonoma Coast). With zero residual sugar, this winning white comes as advertised: dry and delightful in its floral, fresh and fleshy character, vibrantly supported in acidity. Peach, lime and pear flavors find length and purpose along a medium-bodied texture that’s just the right amount of plush. —V.B. abv: 14.3%

Price: $25

Price: $24

95

Chapel Down 2011 Three Graces (England). A restrained but impressive notion of honeyed oatmeal on the nose makes for a promising opening. A crisp green-apple note plays alongside ripe lemon. The palate shows fine, elegant mousse, amplifying those restrained aromas of honey, oatmeal and biscuit. This wine is at a perfect juncture of freshness and evolution, with wonderfully developed autolytic notes and great balance. The finish is long and moreish. ABCK Corp. —A.K. abv: 12.5%

I

ISRAEL : 1

I

ITALY : 14

46 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

I

NEW ZEALAND : 2

I

PORTUGAL : 6

I

SOUTH AFRICA : 2

Price: $50

I

SPAIN : 6


27

30

32

92

96

Stolo 2014 Estate Syrah (San Luis Obispo County). This is possibly the most savory rendition of Syrah made on the Central Coast, each vintage as feral as the last. This bottling shows bloody lamb, crushed peppercorn, soy and barnyard elements on the nose. The palate is tense with tarry structure, revealing unusual kelp, stewed peppercorn, miso and teriyaki flavors. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 13.8%

Price: $40

28

95

San Felice 2013 Il Grigio Gran Selezione (Chianti Classico). Smooth and delicious, this boasts enticing scents of violet, berry, leather, tilled soil and aromatic herb. The radiant, elegant palate offers ripe red cherry, crushed raspberry, white pepper and licorice, while a note of pipe tobacco closes the finish. Polished tannins and bright acidity provide balance and structure. Drink 2018–2025. San Felice USA. Editors’ Choice. —K.O. abv: 13.5%

93

Jurtschitsch 2016 Stein Grüner Veltliner (Kamptal). A spray of white pepper, lemon and green pear plays on the nose. The spicy palate majors in savory, yeasty notes of white pepper, miso, pea shoot and arugula, all brightened by lemon freshness. The slender and balanced palate is chock-full of flavor and leaves a lasting impression to savor. David Bowler Wine. —A.K.

abv: 12.5%

Price: $55

Robert Mondavi 2015 Reserve To Kalon Vineyard Fumé Blanc (Napa Valley). From an historic block of the famous vineyard long known as Robert’s Block, this white is incredibly complex and concentrated, with richly woven layers of pear, Key lime and peach. A handful of Sémillon is blended in, adding extra oomph and flavor, the finish balanced in acidity and marked by freshness. —V.B. abv: 14.5%

33

93

Stadlmann 2015 Classic Pinot Noir (Thermenregion). This wine’s fresh, ripe red cherry and aromatic strawberry touches make for an inviting nose. The palate shows the same intense primary fruit, bolstered by freshness and a fine, filigreed structure. Its supple, pure fruit makes it very enjoyable now, but it’s sure to evolve further with bottle age. Drink now–2025. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. —A.K.

31

Price: $18

abv: 12.5%

29

Price: $19

34

93

93

Famille Laplace 2014 Odé d’Aydie (Madiran). The third generation of the Laplace family has produced a black-colored, juicy and richly balanced wine. Its black plum and Damson fruit is enclosed in young, firm tannins that will gradually soften. It’s a dark, dense wine that will be ready to drink by 2020. The Wine Company. —R.V.

abv: 14%

I

Price: $52

Two Vintners 2014 Syrah (Columbia Valley). This is a true pan-Washington Syrah, with fruit coming from Discovery, Olsen, Stone Tree, Pepper Bridge, Dineen, Stoney Vine, Yellow Jacket and Boushey Vineyards—all top sites rarely seen in a bottle at this price. Scents of smoke, blue and black fruit, crushed flowers, sagebrush and herb leap out of the glass, demonstrating a lot of aromatic complexity. The palate shows intensity, purity and layering. Editors’ Choice. —S.S. abv: 14.5%

93

Mouchão 2012 Ponte das Canas Red (Alentejo). From the historic Herdade do Mouchão in northern Alentejo, this is a powerful wine, full of dense tannins and impressively ripe, juicy black fruits. Syrah and Alicante Bouschet bring southern richness to Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional. Drink this wine now. Wine In-Motion. —R.V. abv: 14%

Price: $20

Price: $21

Price: $20

UNITED STATES : 31

NEW YORK: 1 / OREGON: 7 / WASHINGTON: 5 / CALIFORNIA: 17

Average rating: 93.79

Average Price:

$35.24

WINEMAG.COM | 47


ENTHUSIAST 100 I 2017 and lemon drop flavors. Fresh acidity brightens the creamy flavors while a mineral note energizes the finish. de Grazia Imports LLC. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

35

abv: 12.5%

Price: $29

38

93 93

Hermann J. Wiemer 2015 Dry Riesling (Seneca Lake). Wiemer’s standard dry

Riesling is an impeccable value for a wine that offers such density of fruit and minerality. While dry in style, it’s a luscious, deeply fruity wine studded with tangerine and stone-fruit flavors glazed in honey and nectar. It’s unctuous and ripe, but finishes with a cool, steel-edged persistence. Editors’ Choice. —A.I. abv: 12%

Price: $19

abv: 13%

Price: $20

39

96

Clendenen Family 2013 Le Bon Climat Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). This bottling showcases Jim Clendenen’s brilliance at making light wines packed with flavor. Rustic sagebrush, oak forest and animal pelt aromas meet red plum and alpine strawberry fruit on the nose. There’s a salt and white pepper quality to the palate, where wild sage and more chapparal spice decorates the pomegranate and red plum fruit flavors. —M.K. Price: $50

Duménil 2012 Premier Cru Special Club (Champagne). This impressive dry wine is made as part of a club of producers who taste and evaluate each other’s wines before release. A blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, it is full of white fruit with a toasty edge that gives the wine weight. Behind this is a strongly mineral character with bite and zest that will allow it age further. Drink from 2020. Plume Ridge. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: 12%

93

Xanadu 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River). This paints a true picture of Margaret River in its sage and bay leaf shadings and concentrated cassis fruit. It’s all framed by hints of vanilla and toasty oak, but the emphasis remains on dried herbs and fruit through the long, mouthwatering finish. Drink now–2030. Rathbone Wine Group. Editors’ Choice. —J.C.

abv: 14%

Price: $65

40

93

Cave Spring 2015 Estate Riesling (Beamsville Bench). This is a dry-style Riesling, though it still lends a ripe, fruity impression. Lemon, lime and grapefruit are shuffled into a winning hand, with ample details of cilantro, fennel and wet stone. It’s a vibrant, refreshing wine that is immensely food friendly. Cave Spring Cellars. Editors’ Choice. —P.G. Price: $18

43

93

Paltrinieri 2016 Radice (Lambrusco di Sorbara). This vibrant, slightly sparkling wine is one of the best Lambrucos out there. Made entirely from the Sorbara variety, it opens with enticing citrus, woodland berry and wildflower scents. Its crisp, delicious palate doles out strawberry and pink grapefruit notes alongside baking spice accents and racy acidity. The lees that have settled at the bottom of the bottle gives the last glass even more flavor. Lyra Wine. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

abv: 11.5%

37

Price: $29

42

abv: 12%

95

36

abv: 13.5%

Prieler 2015 Johanneshöhe Blaufränkisch (Burgenland). The nose is still shy and closed. Likewise, the body is taut and will take time to unfurl, but all the structure and promise is already here. This wine is firm and bright, slowly showing dense blueberry notes edged with cinnamon and pervaded by freshness. The structure is firm and still crunchy but with a juicy release. On the finish, white pepper shimmers in the blueberry fruit. Drink 2019–2029. Skurnik Wines, Inc. —A.K.

41

Price: $20

44

95 95 94

Gini 2015 La Froscà (Soave Classico). Hands down one of Italy’s best whites, this boasts alluring white flower and yellow stone fruit scents. The enveloping, delicious palate delivers white peach, mature pear, ginger

48 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Miraflores NV Muscat Canelli (El Dorado). What a rare, complex and spectacular wine. Well-aged and fortified wines like this are uncommon in California, but this full-bodied and very sweet example proves it’s possible. It has gorgeous aromas of apricot, honey and toasted nuts followed by expansive, ripe-and-spicy fruit flavors transformed by the aging process. The mouthfeel is lavish and full, enabling a wonderful finish that lasts for minutes. Editors’ Choice. —J.G.

abv: 18%

Price: $50

CVNE 2010 Imperial Gran Reserva (Rioja). Certain wines exude a sense of elevated excellence. This one gets to that level via aromas of spice cake, baked plum and tobacco aromas. A stocky saturated palate is structured and built to age, while this tastes of cool blue fruits, herbs, coffee and chocolate. A smoothly textured finish deals cocoa and mocha notes. Drink through 2040. Europvin USA. Editors’ Choice. —M.S.

abv: 13.5%

Price: $88


45

48

51

94

95

Talley 2015 Oliver’s Vineyard Chardonnay (Edna Valley). Plump aromas of lemon mousse, meringue, wet limestone, white flowers and ripe key lime pith show on the nose of this excellent bottling. The palate bursts with cool cream, sea salt and lemon-pith flavors, set against a chalky texture, yet expertly retreats before exploding. A mysteriously compelling experience. —M.K.

abv: 14.1%

Price: $38

46

abv: 12.5%

Albert Morot 2015 Les Cent Vignes Premier Cru (Beaune). Ripe, warm and with delicious strawberry and red-plum fruits, the wine is generous and full of fruit. The tannins are also there, a structure just to support all this fruit. It will be an opulent and beautiful wine as it ages. Drink from 2025. Domaine et Saveurs Collection. —R.V.

Price: $20

93

49

94

Domaine Laporte 2016 Le Rochoy (Sancerre). From a sloping flinty vineyard, this is an impressive wine. It is powered by its tight tense texture to give a concentrated essence of Sauvignon Blanc. The wine, with its green and citrus fruits, is tangy, steely and needing to age. Drink from 2019. Martine’s Wines. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: 13%

95

abv: 13%

Le Fraghe 2015 Brol Grande (Bardolino). Showing Bardolino’s more serious side, this delicious red opens on aromas of wild berry, pressed blue flower, spice and a balsamic note. With a blend of Corvina and Rondinella, the elegant, well-structured palate delivers morello cherry, black pepper and clove. Refined tannins provide the polished framework. Drink through 2019. Oliver McCrum Wines. Editors’ Choice. —K.O. Stolpman 2016 Para Maria de los Tecolotes (Santa Barbara County). This Syrah, which is enhanced by 15% Petit Verdot, is one of the better wines from the region on the market for less than $25. Awesome aromas of pepper, blackberry and charred beef are intense and deep, while the palate is lifted by bountiful acidity and flavors of boysenberry, white, black and green peppercorns, incense and sagebrush. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 13.5%

Price: $22

Price: $30

52

50

Price: $45

47

92 92

Bonterra 2014 Made With Organic Grapes Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Beautifully integrated oak and a firm structure combine in this rather tight but superbly balanced wine. It smells like black cherries and tastes like raspberries and blueberries, accented by toasted baguette, cinnamon and fresh cedar notes. The finish is long and lightly spicy. Best after 2018. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 14.3%

Boutari 2016 Moschofilero (Mantinia). Lemon, orange blossom and rose aromas start this exotic and refreshing wine. On the palate, bright flavors of citrus mingle with melon and pepper. Easygoing but distinctive. Terlato Wines International. —S.K.

abv: 11%

Price: $17

93

Mascota 2014 Unánime Gran Vino Tinto (Mendoza). Dusty berry and plum aromas are inviting and come with notes of vanilla and coconut. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc is flush while displaying a firm grip. Flavors of vanilla, mocha, black cherry and blackberry finish deep and with a lasting hint of fig. Drink through 2024. Saranty Imports. Editors’ Choice. —M.S. abv: 14.5%

Price: $27

Price: $16

WINEMAG.COM | 49


ENTHUSIAST 100 I 2017

53

turned earth and lilac flavors ride luxurious yet firmly structured tannins. Editors’ Choice. —M.K.

56

abv: 14.8%

93

Quinta da Rede 2015 Grande Reserva Branco (Douro). Packed with ripe fruit, this wood-aged wine is dense and rich. A blend of Arinto and the Douro’s local white grape, Rabigato, it is full of the ripest yellow fruits, laced through with stony minerality. The acidity and the spice from the wood give this wine its aging potential. Drink from 2019. M Imports, LLC. —R.V.

abv: 13.5%

94

Galerie 2016 Naissance Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley). This producer continues to up its game with this variety, becoming more impressive with every vintage. With the majority stainless-steel fermented, it offers tart, tangy grapefruit pith, lemon and lime around a grip of sublime texture and length. Editors’ Choice. —V.B. abv: 13.5%

Price: $30

57

60

93

Tornatore 2016 Bianco (Etna). A few swirls of the glass release this white’s heady stone fruit, Spanish broom and Mediterranean brush aromas. Mirroring the nose, the vibrant palate delivers green apple, lemon, tangerine and white peach flavors framed by crisp acidity. It has nice length and a hint of ginger that caps the inish. Enotria Wine Import. —K.O.

abv: 13%

93

Château du Cèdre 2014 Cahors. This wine is ripe in spicy black-currant aromas on the nose and intense in juicy black fruit on the dense palate. The rich, generous layers of fruit perfectly balance the tannins that build up to a harmonious whole. Still young, it will be best from 2019. Martine’s Wines. —R.V. abv: 13%

54

Price: $26

Price: $56

Price: $20

61

Price: $26

58

94

95

Renato Ratti 2013 Marcenasco (Barolo). Wild berry, crushed herb, violet and baking spice scents lift out of the glass along with a whiff of menthol. Focused and elegantly structured, the delicious palate doles out ripe Marasca cherry, raspberry compote, cinnamon, sage and white pepper, while refined tannins and bright acidity provide supple support and impeccable balance. Drink 2023–2033. LUX Wines. —K.O. abv: 14%

Johannishof 2014 Rüesheim Berg Rottland GG Riesling (Rheingau). Dry in style but lusciously textured, this full-bodied Riesling stands out for its luminous ripeness. Layers of honey and decadent citrus and peach flavors are calibrated neatly by zesty acidity and notes of sweet spice and pollen. It’s unctuously concentrated with a long, deeply penetrating finish. Valckenberg International, Inc. Editors’ Choice. —A.I. abv: 13%

93

Simonnet-Febvre 2014 Mont de Milieu Premier Cru (Chablis). One of the most familiar and best situated Premier Crus, this vineyard has produced a fine and ripe wine from the fruity, crisp 2014 vintage. It’s lively, bright, textured and still packed with citrus and apple fruit. Drink now. Louis Latour Inc. —R.V. abv: 13%

Price: $39

Price: $42

59

62

Price: $50

55

95

Moulin Touchais 1996 Coteaux du Layon. This estate, owned by the same family since 1787, has amazing stocks of old sweet wines maturing in its cellars. With red apple, honey and apricot aromas, this wine, mature and yet so fresh, is proof of the aging ability of Chenin Blanc. It is the balance between the ripe honeyed flavors and the intense acidity that keeps it so vibrant. Drink this superb wine now. Polaner Selections. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: 14%

Price: $55

50 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

95

Vina Robles 2013 Suendero (Paso Robles). This is a show-stopping blend of 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot and 9% Malbec by veteran winemaker Kevin Willenborg. A deep shade of mauve, the wine coats the glass and unleashes intense, lavish aromas of cassis, fig paste, mint and tarragon. It’s as soft as it looks on the palate, where baked black cherry, roast beef,

93

Quady North 2015 Steelhead Run Vineyard Viognier (Applegate Valley). Sharp and focused, with fine-tuned varietal expression, this is flat out loaded with rich fruit flavors. Orange, lime, pineapple and pear can be found, all beautifully polished. It’s ripe and precise without being bitter or hot, and a fine value as well. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.

abv: 13.8%

Price: $23


63

66 6

Spice and dark red fruits are shot through with a wonderful herbal character that conjures the southern warmth. The wine is still just setting out and will not be ready to drink before 2019. Kysela Père et Fils. —R.V.

93

Dalton 2014 Alma (Galilee). This deep garnet-colored wine proffers fragrances of black cherry and dark plum with a flourish of green pepper. It is smooth on the palate, with silky tannins and flavors of black cherry, raspberry, Mediterranean herbs and licorice. A mélange of bright berries and smoky spice permeates the sleek finish. Kosher. Allied Importers, USA, LTD. Editors’ Choice. —M.D. abv: 14.5%

94

Domaine Marcel Deiss 2014 Langenberg (Alsace). Hints of sultana and cooked quince reach the nose suggesting richness. The palate, however, responds with streamlined freshness, ripe fruit and depth and gives us concentration rather than richness. Tangy citrus zest frames notions of ripe apple and quince while shadows of dried fruit still haunt aromatically. The finish is clean, totally satisfying and dry. This is soaring but hearty stuff. Becky Wasserman Selections. —A.K. Price: $34

65

70

94

Pascual Toso 2014 Alta Barrancas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza). Open-grain oak aromas are out front, followed by sweeter scents of marzipan, prune and chocolate. A full, tannic palate is deep and dense, while toasty blackened flavors of cassis and blackberry finish with notes of mocha, chocolate and pepper. This is a bit rough and tannic, so cellaring will help it calm down. Drink through 2023. Quintessential Wines. Editors’ Choice. —M.S.

abv: 14.5%

Price: $50

67

94

K Vintners 2014 The Boy Grenache (Washington). A blend of fruit from Northridge Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope and Powerline Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley, this pale colored wine delivers vibrant, complex aromas of strawberry, brown stems, fresh flowers, green olive, smoked meat and moist earth. The cranberry and smoked meat flavors are soft and sumptuous, leading to an extended fruit and savory note finish. It’s all about elegance but the purity is dazzling. Editors’ Choice. —S.S. abv: 15%

95

Mt. Brave 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Mount Veeder). The mountain appellation speaks loudly in this wine, contributing juicy blackberry, tar and leather, all within a forested context of wild truffle and crunchy leaves. Concentrated and robust in body and ripeness, it unwinds slowly in the glass, imparting jolts of black pepper as it goes. —V.B. abv: 14.5%

94

Celler Pasanau 2012 Finca La Planeta (Priorat). Crisp, focused aromas of ripe berry fruits, hot asphalt and spice are potent and excellent. From one of the Priorat’s highest locales (2,400 feet), this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha tastes of spicy plum, crushed peppercorn and schist. Warm finishing notes of minerality combined with strong fruit flavors are thorough and complex; drink through 2028. Classical Wines. Editors’ Choice. —M.S. abv: 15.5%

Price: $44

Price: $25

64

abv: 12.5%

abv: 12.5%

Price: $50

Price: $43

71

93

Braida di Giacomo Bologna 2014 Monte Bruna (Barbera d’Asti). Enticing scents of fragrant blue flower, forest berry and Alpine herb take center stage in this elegant and structured red. The vibrant palate delivers juicy red cherry, raspberry compote, star anise and tobacco hints alongside bright acidity and polished tannins. Impeccably balanced and delicious, it also offers incredible value. Drink through 2029. Soilair Selection. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

68

abv: 14%

90

72

Domäne Wachau 2016 Terrassen Federspiel Grüner Veltliner (Wachau). Fresh Conference pear notes abound on the nose of this wine. The palate is sprightly and fresh, with a zestier core of lime and pear peel. Slender in frame, it dances on the palate, displaying seriousness and levity at the same time. The finish is totally refreshing. Gonzalez Byass USA. —A.K.

abv: 12%

Price: $75

Price: $28

Price: $20

69

94

Domaine de la Bégude 2014 La Bégude (Bandol). This is an impressively rich, still very young wine. Dominated by Bandol’s own Mourvèdre grape, it is dense and concentrated.

92

Les Frères Couillaud 2016 Château de la Ragotière Sélection Vieilles Vignes Sur Lie (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine). Old vines, up to 60 years old, are the basis of this concentrated,

WINEMAG.COM | 51


ENTHUSIAST 100 I 2017 ripe and intense wine. It is impressive and tightly wound, with layers of rich citrus fruit and a chalky texture. This is still a little young, so drink from 2018. Vineyard Brands. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: 12%

75

78

92

Château Belle-Vue 2014 Haut-Médoc. Situated in the southern Médoc village of Macau, on the edge of the deep Margaux gravels, this estate has produced an impressive and structured wine. It is concentrated with its black currants and dark tannins. It is likely to develop slowly over several years. Drink from 2021. Signature Selections. Editors’ Choice. —R.V.

Price: $16

73

abv: 13.5%

92

92

Kilikanoon 2015 Killerman’s Run Riesling (Clare Valley). A pretty, mouthwatering Clare Riesling. Lemongrass, lime leaf and a touch of mint on the nose are followed by wet stone and a chalky texture with a long lemony finish. At twenty bucks, it’s a bargain. Drink now – 2025. Old Bridge Cellars. Editors’ Choice. —C.P. abv: 12.5%

Price: $20

74

Esk Valley 2014 Gimblett Gravels MerlotCabernet Sauvignon-Malbec-Cabernet Franc (Hawke’s Bay). This shows just how good Gimblett Gravels reds can be even at such a fair price point. Senior Winemaker Gordon Russell has fashioned a full-bodied, dark and dense wine that shows hints of vanilla and cedar that frame dark plum and cassis fruit, then slowly fade into a long, velvety finish. Drink 2020–2030. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Editors’ Choice. —J.C. abv: 14%

92

Price: $23

abv: 12%

Price: $20

52 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Kevin White 2015 Red (Yakima Valley). A blend of 44% Syrah, 31% Grenache and 25% Mourvèdre, this wine is aromatically very pure, with plenty of red and blue fruit, speckled with bay leaf, herb and black-pepper accents. It possesses a thrilling plush mouthfeel, with olive and black-fruit flavors, showing a fine sense of purity. Editors’ Choice. —S.S. abv: 14.7%

Price: $18

92

Lucatoni 2013 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley). This wine’s ripe blackberry and spice aromas are a touch meaty and earthy. Its grippy, fleshy palate is balanced, tasting of berry and cassis. A dry, woody finish and a chocolate note renders it intriguing on the close. Spain Wine Collection. Editors’ Choice. —M.S. abv: 14.5%

Price: $20

81

94

Fritz Haag 2015 Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Auslese Goldkapsel Riesling (Mosel). Rich, sticky swirls of caramel and honey fill the palate of this lip-smackingly sweet Riesling. It’s slight in body and electric with acidity, yet its heaving, sun-kissed tropical fruit flavors persist boldly on the finish. Stunning already, it’s sure to improve through 2030. Loosen Bros. USA. —A.I.

Domaine Saint-Rémy 2015 Ehrhart Hengst Grand Cru Gewurztraminer (Alsace). A lifted lemon-scented nose of peach gives and impression of ease and lightness. The palate, however, lays on generous sweetness to focus on ripe juicy peach notes. There is a huge concentration of flavor and richness, countered by that lemony freshness. This is a big but gentle wine that leaves your mind ringing with peach and lemon and a touch of honeysuckle spice. The medium-sweet finish is long and balanced. Drink 2017–2017. Robert Kacher Selections. —A.K.

abv: 7.5%

abv: 13.5%

77

92

92

80

Meerlust 2014 Chardonnay (Stellenbosch). This wine shows superb balance between ripe fruit tones, attractive oak influence and natural freshness. It leads with scents of lightly toasted nuts, orange cream, freshly dried grass and yellow flowers. The medium-weight palate offers decadent flavors of toasted apple skin and brioche, with orange-flavored acidity that lift’s the wine’s richness. An evolving finish seals the deal. Drink now–2020. Maisons Marques & Domaines USA. Editors’ Choice. —L.B.

Aveleda 2015 Reserva da Familia Branco (Bairrada). This producer, firmly established in Vinho Verde and the Douro, also has vineyards at Quinta da Aguieira in the central coastal region of Bairrada. A blend of local white grapes along with some Chardonnay, this wine is ripe, with a touch of saltiness and minerality, plus plenty of concentration from old vines. With its rich texture and crisp aftertaste, this is ready to drink. Aveleda Inc. Editors’ Choice. —R.V.

79

Price: $18

76

abv: 13%

Price: $17

94

Price: $52/375 ml

Price: $32


ENTHUSIAST 100 I 2017

82

and silky without having to flex its muscles. Wine Trees. Editors’ Choice. —C.P.

84

abv: 14.5%

Price: $20

88

92

Raptor Ridge 2015 Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley). A pretty light gold hue, this wine shines bright from the first sniff to the last sip. It’s clean and dense, with notes of bee pollen and lemon oil, flavors of apple and pear, and a touch of vanilla cookie. Editors’ Choice. —P.G. abv: 13.9%

Price: $20

83

95

Numanthia 2012 Numanthia (Toro). Deep, dense and pure from the opening bell, this Toro is a winner. Aromas of dark ripe black fruits are cool and moderately oaked. This feels massive on the palate but sensationally balanced. Flavors of blackberry, coffee, mocha and toasty oak finish spicy, smooth and heady. Drink this exemplary Toro through 2023. Moët Hennessy USA. Editors’ Choice. —M.S.

abv: 15%

Price: $73

85 Domaine du Pegau 2013 Cuvée Réservée (Châteauneuf-du-Pape). A great success from a challenging vintage, the 2013 Pegau is as aromatic as ever, loaded with scents of garrigue, smoke and saddle leather. Those are backed by ample dark-fruit flavors, hints of grilled meat and firm, dusty tannins. Drink 2018–2030. Hand Picked Selections. Editors’ Choice. —J.C.

93

Woodward Canyon 2014 Artist Series #23 Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington). Fruit for this wine comes from top sites Champoux, Sagemoor, Woodward Canyon Estate and Summit View vineyards. It brings classic Cabernet Sauvignon aromas of black currant, black cherry and herbs along with generous barrel spices. The black-fruit and coffee flavors are lush and full, bringing a real sense of hedonism and delight. —S.S. abv: 14.8%

Price: $59

abv: 14.1%

Price: $35

89 Michel Vattan 2015 Cuvée Calcaire (Sancerre). This small production wine has a crisp crackly character with great fruitiness, as well as a tight mineral texture from the chalk soil. Its citrus and herbal flavor is balanced with taut acidity. The wine, one of two from this producer reflecting different soil types, is young. Drink from 2019. Bandol Wines Inc. Editors’ Choice. —R.V.

abv: 12.5%

Price: $24

Price: $74

90

86

92

Andreola 2016 Dirupo Brut (Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore). Fresh and balanced, this bright, savory sparkler delivers mouthfuls of green apple, white peach and lemon peel. Crisp acidity keeps it refreshing while a soft mousse gives it plenty of finesse. It has a dry juicy finish. Siena Imports. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

abv: 11%

Price: $19

87

92

Atze’s Corner 2015 Estate Grown Shiraz (Barossa Valley). Made and grown by one of Barossa’s most highly respected wine families, the Kalleskes, this Shiraz is a complex specimen of dried cherries, herbs and beef marinade, with soft tannins and a long, savory finish. It’s elegant

54 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Alloro 2014 Estate Pinot Noir (Chehalem Mountains). A sensational bottle at this price, it’s ripe and textural, with a plush mix of strawberry and cherry fruit. The flavors evolve throughout a lengthy finish, adding layers of chocolate, malt and caramel, all in beautiful proportion. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.

93

94

abv: 14%

93

92

Viña Tabalí 2013 Vetas Blancas Reserva Especial Syrah (Limarí Valley). Boysenberry, cassis, woodsy spice and leathery aromas hit the right chords. This feels tight and juicy due to bright core acidity. A combination of spicy plum and red-berry aromas are intense and turn feral upon airing, while this limestone soil-based Syrah tastes of coffee, pepper, plum and various spices on a powerful finish. Drink through 2021. Biagio Cru & Estate Wines, LLC. —M.S. abv: 14%

Price: $20


ENTHUSIAST 100 I 2017

91

95

98

93

92

92

Sangenís I Vaqué 2006 Vall Por (Priorat). This ripe holdover from 2006 proves that Priorat wines can age well. This wine is full of licorice, spice cake and other heady aromas, while the palate is lush and chewy, but still hanging in there. Flavors of black fruits, chocolate, burnt toast, black coffee and licorice finish dense and long. Drink now through 2020. Golden Ram Imports. —M.S.

Eradus 2015 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir (Awatere Valley). Aromas of ripe raspberry, chocolate, black olive and green herbs all combine in this well put together wine. The palate is taut and focused, with silky tannins, mouth-watering acidity and a long herbal finish. Tightly wound, this is best sipped with food or a few years of bottle age. Drink now–2024. Wine Dogs Imports LLC. —C.P.

abv: 15%

abv: 14.5%

Price: $37

Price: $24

DeMorgenzon 2014 Maestro White (Stellenbosch). A blend of 26% Roussanne, 25% Chardonnay, 19% Grenache Blanc, 17% Chenin Blanc and 13% Viognier, this is a complex and layered wine. A soft flinty character lies atop a rich bouquet of yellow apple, ripe green melon, tangerine and honeycomb. The medium-weight palate offers both weight and refinement, with a smooth texture and ripe fruit flavors that are cut by ample acidity and lingering sweet-spice accents. Drink now–2019. Cape Classics. Editors’ Choice. —L.B.

92

96

abv: 14%

92

94

99

Thörle 2016 Trocken Weissburgunder (Rheinhessen). Weissburgunder, or Pinot Blanc, can be a rather subdued grape. But it’s delightfully bright and zippy here, boasting sunny shades of apricot, grapefruit and tangerine offset against dazzling lemon-lime acidity. It’s brisk and cutting on the palate yet finishes with persistence. Ingenium Wines. Editors’ Choice. —A.I. abv: 12.5%

Price: $22

Tolpuddle 2014 Chardonnay (Tasmania). The Pinot Noir is no slouch either, but Tolpuddle’s 2014 Chardonnay is super. Faint hints of crème brûlée mark the nose, then ease into lime, pineapple and white peach notes on the palate. It’s only medium in weight, but with a silky feel and a long mouthwatering finish. Drink now through 2022. Craft + Estate–The Winebow Group. Editors’ Choice. —J.C.

abv: 13%

93

92

Cadence 2015 Coda (Red Mountain). This blend of Cabernet Franc (46%), Merlot (28%), Cabernet Sauvignon (17%) and Petit Verdot (9%) starts out brooding, with black cherry, herb, black currant, anise, and spice notes. The palate is rich and structured, loaded with dark fruit flavors and firm tannins. Give it some time to open up. Editors’ Choice. —S.S. abv: 14.4%

Price: $60

97

Price: $25

94

No Girls 2014 La Paciencia Vineyard Grenache (Walla Walla Valley). Quite light in color, the aromas bring initially locked up but then broadly expansive notes of peat, green olive, white pepper, strawberry, Stargazer lilies, mineral and herb, showing a lot of complexity. The palate is textured, bringing a profound mixture of fruit and savory flavors that intertwine effortlessly on the long finish. It brings a sense of tension, texture and finesse that is completely captivating. Editors’ Choice. —S.S. abv: 13.5%

Price: $75

100

92

Price: $28

94

94

E. Guigal 2011 Château d’Ampuis (CôteRôtie). The essence of the appellation

smokes out from the glass, offering hints of cracked pepper, bacon, clove and leather. It’s reasonably full-bodied for Côte Rôtie, with feral, smoked-meat flavors, ample spice and plenty of the concentrated plummy fruit. Tannins are silky, making this approachable now, but likely capable of aging well for at least 10–15 years. Vintus LLC. Editors’ Choice. —J.C. abv: 13.5%

Curto 2012 Fontanelle Nero d’Avola (Eloro). Made entirely from Nero d’Avola, this delicious wine opens with ripe black plum, carob and Mediterranean brush aromas. The smooth, chewy palate doles out layers of juicy blackberry, ripe Morello cherry, clove and white pepper flavors. A licorice note closes the finish while fine-grained tannins provide the framework. Enjoy through 2022. Premium Brands. —K.O.

abv: 13.5%

Price: $29

Price: $75

92

Alcance 2014 Gran Reserva Carmenère (Maule Valley). A magenta color and ripe grapy aromas of black fruits accented by spice and olive open this plump wide-bodied Carmenère. Spicy black cherry and blackberry flavors are stout and rock solid on a unwavering finish. Drink through 2020. Majestic Imports. Editors’ Choice. —M.S. abv: 14.5%

Price: $22

56 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Visit winemag.com/enthusiast1002017 to download a PDF of the list


58 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


WASHINGTON

CABERNET SAUVIGNON In a region known for vinous diversity, could this grape take the title of the state’s greatest? BY S E A N P H OTO S B Y

P. S U L L I VA N TO M A R E N A

W

ashington State wine is perhaps best known for its diversity. There are more than 80 grape varieties planted here, but one variety seems to be separating itself from the crowd: Cabernet Sauvignon. Washington’s Cabernet plantings date to the early 1940s, and vines planted in 1956 at Otis Vineyard in the Yakima Valley remain some of the oldest in production today. With a climate once thought too cool to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon, plantings across the Columbia Valley (Washington’s largest wine-growing region) have increased through the decades. Many of the state’s early producers, names that include Quilceda Creek, Leonetti Cellar and Woodward Canyon, made reputations based on their Cabernets. Still, varieties like Riesling and Chardonnay led the state in production. Then, in 2013, Cabernet became Washington’s most-produced grape variety. Plantings have only increased in subsequent years, with Cabernet production up a whopping 50 percent in 2016. Could it be that in a state of diverse varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon has become first among equals?

WINEMAG.COM | 59


Making the case for Cabernet

cooler climates of the world. You have a bit of the best of both worlds.” “Cabernet is our best grape,” says Bob Bob Bertheau, head winemaker at Betz, MW, who has worked with the Chateau Ste. Michelle, attributes this variety at Betz Family Winery since to warm summers and the coolness late 1997. “Notwithstanding fabulous in the harvest season, when Cabernet Riesling, outstanding Syrah and very Sauvignon is picked. good Merlot, but I do think Cabernet “The essence of Cabernet is the Sauvignon is our greatest grape.” diurnal temperature shift that we get Cabernet Sauvignon, often called here,” says Bertheau. He says that the “King of Grapes,” is known for the difference between daytime highs its firm tannins and aging potenand nighttime lows can be as much tial. What differentiates Washington as 40˚F. “We’re really hot during Cabernet from those made in other the summer, but then we cool down areas of the world? going into October. Because of those “It’s the fruit purity that we get, cold Octobers, we can hold down our along with a lot of tannin and lots of sugars—and thus potential alcohols— color,” says Betz. He maintains that a little more than some other regions, Washington Cabernet has a unique and we get really good aromatic signature. natural acidity.” “The secondary notes This delivers a ripethat I get more in WashWashington ington than other Amer- Cabernet Sauvignon ness of fruit flavors while ican appellations are that mixes New World- preserving the acidity that gives the wines a complex of dried herbs— style fruit with more sense of freshness. anise, thyme, bay leaf of an Old Worldand, occasionally, a little style structure, in bit of rosemary.” Success in site “Washington Cabernet terms of the balance selection definitely has an herbal While Cabernet Sauviof tannins and note,” says Rick Small, gnon has shown a great acidity. who started to make affinity for the Columbia Cabernet in 1977, first as Valley, site selection a home winemaker and since 1981, at remains critical to producing highWoodward Canyon Winery in the Walla quality wines. Walla Valley. “Sometimes as wine“You need to be extremely careful makers, you want to go so far into the where you plant Cab in Washington, not fruit zone that you forget that herbal thinking that it can grow anywhere,” note is an integral part of the typicity says Bertheau. “You need to make sure of Cabernet Sauvignon. We definitely you get enough early heat units to get get it here.” to a ripeness level before you hit the Winemakers also say that Washcold spells. If you don’t get there before ington Cabernet Sauvignon mixes New you hit that first 34-degree night in World-style fruit with more of an Old October, you’re going to have a tough World-style structure, in terms of the time getting home.” balance of tannins and acidity. Though there’s a common thread “We have one of the few climates between the wines, the Columbia in the world that kind of slices down Valley’s various appellations do show the middle and achieves what I think is different profiles. perfect balance in Cabernet,” says Chris “The Wahluke Slope tends to be Figgins of Leonetti Cellar, whose family softer, jammier, with sweet tannins has made Cabernet since 1978. “We with a little less extract,” says Bertheau. have the opulence of fruit that they “Yakima [Valley] Cabs that I get are have in Napa or other warm climate more fruit driven and elegant, a little areas. But we get the austerity of less powerful. Red Mountain has a tannins and higher acid, that leanness structure that I don’t get in any other that they get in Bordeaux and other fruit. My Horse Heaven [Hills] Cabs

60 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

94

Feather 2013 Vintage Select Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). This reserve-level wine brings high-toned aromas of herbs, violets, bittersweet cocoa, mint and dark fruits. The palate displays layered, fullbodied cherry and chocolate flavors that show density and depth. It’s an impressive display that captures the senses with its seamless feel. abv: 14.8% Price: $95

94

Quilceda Creek 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). Aromas of incense, dark fruit, licorice and barrel spice rise up from the glass, which also reveals penetrating cherry and anise notes. The flavors are rich and concentrated but far from over the top, with expertly integrated tannins. Just a baby now, but it has the stuffing to go the distance. Best from 2027–2033. Cellar Selection. abv: 15.2% Price: $140


94

Woodward Canyon 2014 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington). One of the state’s best bottles year after year, this delivers herb, blackberry, woodspice and vanilla bean aromas. The palate is tightly wound and impeccably balanced, with a mixture of fruit and barrel flavors that show depth. Made with the future in mind, it will be best from 2025–2032. Cellar Selection. abv: 14.6% Price: $99

93

Betz Family 2014 Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). Boysenberry, black fruit, bay leaf, plum and spice aromas are followed by intense but well-balanced dark-fruit flavors. It stretches out on the finish. It drinks extremely well now, but its best days are in front of it. Best from 2023–2030. Cellar Selection. abv: 14.5% Price: $75

93

DeLille 2014 Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Mountain). This 100% varietal wine is a blend of fruit from Grand Ciel (42%), Upchurch (31%), Ciel du Cheval (19%) and Klipsun vineyards. Wound-up aromas of black cherry and barrel spice are followed by pitch-black-fruit flavors, with the tannins combed to a fine sheen. It flat out impresses. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14.4% Price: $69

93

Leonetti Cellar 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Walla Walla Valley). This wine is a blend of fruit from Seven Hills, Loess, Mill Creek Upland, Leonetti Old Block and Serra Pedace. Aromas of mineral, black cherry, incense, barrel spice and scorched earth lead to a full-bodied, textured palate full of black-fruit flavors and tightly wound tannins. It drinks quite young now and needs time to come into its own. Best from 2024–2029. Cellar Selection. abv: 14.4% Price: $95

WINEMAG.COM | 61


“I had a ’78 about 18 months ago have a vibrancy to the fruit and a fresh that was just singing,” says Figgins, style of tannin.” referring the first vintage of his family’s In the cellar, the state’s winemakers wine. “It’s not getting any better, but agree there’s one key to make a quality it’s drinking wonderfully.” Washington Cabernet Sauvignon: But not all Washington Cabernets tannin management. are meant for the long haul. “I didn’t learn the phrase ‘tannin “It depends on your house style,” management’ until I came to Washsays Figgins. “I think that, made the ington,” says Josh Maloney, who made right way, Washington Cabs can be wine in California before he worked at some of the state’s largest wineries, 25-year to 40-year wines. They can age as well as almost any wines in the like Chateau Ste. Michelle and Milbrandt Vineyards. He now owns world. There are other Cabernets made Maloney Wine, a winery dedicated to in Washington that, you know, they are single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons 15-year wines. But they are absolutely from Washington. delicious for that 15 years.” “We definitely have a lot more tannin According to Figgins, high quality in our wines up here, compared to Caliis also a hallmark of the state’s Caberfornia,” says Maloney. nets, thanks to warm, “I’d been trained in Napa dry summers and the use After years and central California, of irrigation. where you do things to “I don’t know if where different get everything you can there’s another major varieties vied for wine region in the world out of the grapes. Our state primacy, [where] vintage matters tannin profile up here is can Washington so different that those less,” he says. “Of course, approaches did not work. establsh an identity we have vintage variawith its Cabernet “Up here, you really tion and there are occahave to start shaping the sional outliers, but the Sauvignon? tannins from day one of consumer can purchase fermentation, or even Washington Cabernet going back to the vineyard to manage with a confidence and disregard for sun exposure.” vintage that is impossible almost anywhere else in the world.” Bertheau says there’s a need to be a bit gentler with tannin extraction in Many Washington wineries also Washington State Cab. use Cabernet as an important blending “There’s plenty of power and intencomponent. “Cabernet plays well in the sity in most regions,” he says. “It’s not sandbox with others,” says Bertheau. a thoroughbred that you need to teach “It is very, very blendable.” how to run around a track to win a race. So, after years where different variThe power is there, but you have to be eties vied for state primacy, can Washable to harness it.” ington establish an identity with its “In Napa, it was a little bit more Cabernet Sauvignon? forgiving making Cabernet,” says “I think long term, if you look at the future and look at the plantings, the Todd Alexander, winemaker at Force Majeure Vineyards. “You could be a writing is on the wall,” says Bertheau. little more aggressive and get away “Huge amounts of Cabernet [vines] are going into the ground. We can and with it. Here, you’ve got to be a little we will make a big statement with more careful so you don’t get angular Cabernet in Washington State.” tannins with that jagged mouthfeel Figgins agrees. “There are many with astringency.” varieties that do incredibly well in Washington. But Cabernet is the one In the cellar and beyond variety in Washington that I see as One of the hallmarks of a great Cabernet consistently capable of reaching greatis its ability to stand the test of time. ness. Cabernet is our grape.” Can Washington Cabernets age?

62 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

92

Doubleback 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Walla Walla Valley). This wine is a blend of McQueen, Bob Healy and Lefore vineyard fruit, aged 22 months in 73% new French oak. Aromas of macerated cherries, scorched earth, coffee, barrel spice and dark chocolate are followed by supple, focused, concentrated dark-fruit flavors. Best from 2023–2030. abv: 14.4% Price: $94

92

Passing Time 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Mountain). The inaugural release of this wine hails largely from the esteemed Klipsun Vineyard. Alluring aromas of herb, earth, cherry liqueur and black fruit lead to sweet and sappy black-fruit flavors and burly, well-integrated tannins. It’s only going to get better with time. Best after 2023. Cellar Selection. abv: 14.8% Price: $75


91

Fielding Hills 2014 Estate Riverbend Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Wahluke Slope). The aromas bring notes of baking spice, vanilla, cassis, coconut and dark fruit, along with a penetrating anise note. The black-fruit flavors, rich and luscious, display a sense of hedonism that shows equal parts fruit and barrel. abv: 15.8% Price: $46

91

Novelty Hill 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). Dried herb aromas are at the fore of this Cabernet, while exotic spice, smoke, licorice and cherry notes follow. Cherry and chocolate flavors coat the palate and show vibrancy, while a distinctive espresso note marks the finish. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14.4% Price: $26

90

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). Barrelforward aromas of vanilla and toast are in front of herb and cherry. The palate brings a sense of polish and appeal, while the tannins provide some squeeze on the finish. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

90

Intrinsic 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). This is a one-of-a-kind wine in the state, with 50% of the wine fermented on skins for nine months and the rest aged in concrete and older oak. Pure red- and blue-fruit aromas are followed by bold fruit flavors and wellintegrated tannins, without a trace of oak in sight. It’s a completely unique interpretation of the variety, but most importantly, it’s delicious. abv: 14.5% Price: $22

WINEMAG.COM | 63


We trust EuroCave to ensure our estate Pinot Noir is perfectly stored. It is the pinnacle of innovation and excellence.” – JAKE FETZER Third Generation Vintner

Founders Ben and Jake Fetzer launched Masút Vineyard & Winery with a focus to produce estate Pinot Noir. The brothers are the grandsons of Barney Fetzer, who built Fetzer Vineyards with his family. In the early 1990s, their father, Robert Fetzer, was eager to begin a new chapter. He purchased a 1,200-acre property, which he named Masút, a Native American word meaning “dark, rich earth.” They began to plant Pinot Noir in this untapped mountainous area. Their efforts eventually established the Eagle Peak appellation in Mendocino County, where they are the sole winery. The vineyard is 35 acres of Pinot Noir which straddle the western mountains at the headwaters of the Russian River. Each year, Masút’s goal is to produce a Pinot Noir of the highest quality and expression.


REVELATION Your finest wines deserve the world’s

finest

wine cellars.

REVELATION L


TOP

1OO SPIRITS OF

2017

The best in glass from our reviews this year. BY KARA NEWMAN

T

his year’s class of top spirits might generate a little controversy. To start, an American-made brandy, Germain-Robin Alembic Brandy One-Time Blend No. 25, scored higher than many fine Cognacs. The list also includes not one, but two American single malts— Westland Winter 2016 American Single Malt Whiskey and Cedar Ridge Single Malt Whiskey—ranked alongside iconic Scotch single-malt counterparts. It’s reflective of what’s going on in the spirits industry, where innovation is shaking things up. A banner number of small and craft distilleries were purchased by larger entities over the course of 2017—arguably, a nod toward the innovation and nimbleness these smaller players bring to the market, as well as the increasing demand and appreciation for such products. At the same time, the number of new distilleries continues to grow. Going forward, all these new entrants may represent a thorn in the side to legacy spirits producers. But for consumers, it means that we will likely have even more varied and exciting options to choose from than ever before. That’s a prospect worth celebrating. So raise your glass, filled with any of these finest spirits reviewed this year.

66 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


WINEMAG.COM | 67


TOP 100 SPIRITS I 2017

AMERICAN BRANDY

98

Germain-Robin Alembic Brandy One-Time Blend No. 25 (USA; Germain-Robin, Ukiah, CA). Snap up this limited edition bottling: Given a few minutes to open in the glass, this brandy entices with fresh fig, golden raisin and baked pear aromas. The soft palate intertwines crème brûlée, fruit and baking spice, finishing long with subtle dark chocolate, leather and dried orange peel accents. Some will say it’s reminiscent of excellent Armagnac, but really it’s the gold standard of what American-made brandy can be. A blend of 1993 Pinot Noir, 1997 old vine Sémillon and a younger Colombard married in French oak. abv: 42.7% Price: $75

92

Frísco Brandy (USA; North Channel Spirits, San Francisco, CA). This pisco-inspired immature brandy is made from California grapes. It’s clear in the glass, with a sweet, distinctly fruity scent. The palate echoes that sweetness, warming all the way down and finishing with an echo of tropical fruit. Mix into cocktails and you just might fool your favorite pisco-lover. Best Buy. abv: 45% Price: $35

90

95

Arkansas Black 21 Year Old Straight Applejack (USA; Timberlane Distillery, Novato, CA). This limited-edition apple brandy offers big, rounded stone fruit and fresh apple integrated with palate-coating vanilla, almond and honey, finishing long with zingy ginger, cinnamon and clove. Overall, a good balance of fruit and oak, suited for sipping or mixing. Aged in French ex-Chardonnay barrels, the producer bills this as the “longestaged domestic apple brandy available anywhere.” Twenty barrels made. abv: 46% Price: $125

Blue Sky Mining Brandy (USA; Copper & Kings, Louisville, KY). Honey-hued in the glass, look for jazzy, bright orchard fruit on the nose and palate, plus an herbaceous chamomile note and a hoppy effervescence on the tongue reminiscent of beer. The long finish hints at pear. Made from sevenyear-old Muscat brandy finished for 30 days in a Kentucky hogshead. It’s 100 proof, so be sure to add dilution to taste. abv: 50% Price: $40/375 ml

AMERICAN WHISKEY

68 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Cedar Ridge Single Malt Whiskey (USA; Cedar Ridge Distillery, Swisher, IA). This layered sipper is full of surprises. Fragrant with fresh apple and honeysuckle, the drying palate suggests dusty cocoa, leather and vanilla midpalate, freshened by a hint of apple-blossom freshness at the core. A final smoky exhale is reminiscent of lightly peated Scotch. abv: 40% Price: $48

95

Westland Winter 2016 American Single Malt Whiskey (USA; Westland Distillery, Seattle, WA). A locavore single malt to savor. Look for a golden hue and smoky aroma framed by fresh pear. Peat smoke is pronounced on the astringent, drying palate. Adding water coaxes gentle pear and vanilla forward, though the pleasingly smoky flavor remains, winding into a mouthwatering clove-accented finish. abv: 50% Price: $100

94

Low Gap California Whiskey/Bavarian Hard Wheat (USA; Craft Distillers, Ukiah, CA). Rich and butterscotch-like without overt sweetness, this ethereally light, silky whiskey hints at stone fruit, cedar and spice. Use a light hand on the water—that appealing richness washes out when overdiluted. Made from malted Bavarian hard wheat and aged four years. abv: 43.1% Price: $70

94

New Southern Revival Sorghum Whiskey (USA; High Wire Distilling, Charleston, SC). Made with 100% sorghum, this deep amber whiskey shows as peppery up front, then rounds to deep molasses, brown sugar and oak, finishing with an intriguing burnt orange peel finish. A complex addition for whiskey-forward cocktails. abv: 44% Price: $50

92

Angela & Gene A&G Reserve Michigan Brandy (USA; St. Julian Wine Company, Paw Paw, MI). While made with Michigan grapes, this brandy is reminiscent of Calvados, Normandy’s apple brandy. The aroma suggests orchard fruit and oak, while the drying palate offers dark honey and baked apple, finishing crisp with hints of vanilla, tea, oak and clove. Made from a base of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay grapes. abv: 40% Price: $46

95

93 96

High West Distillery Bourye (USA; High West Distillery, Park City, UT). The 2017 limitededition release of this Bourbon-rye blend, all a minimum of 10 years old, perfectly balances sweetness and spice. Rich caramel and brown sugar lead on the nose and palate, finishing with clove, nutmeg and cinnamon sizzle, plus a hint of orange peel. abv: 46% Price: $80

Barrell Whiskey Cask Strength Batch 004 Finished in Rum Casks (USA; Barrell Craft Spirits, Louisville, KY). Aged 11 years and made with a mix of whiskeys from Tennessee and Indiana, this complex sipper offers honey, vanilla and a hint of red fruit, finishing long and drying with lemon peel and ginger zing. Bottled at cask strength, so feel free to soften with as much water as you prefer; the flavor will hold up nicely. abv: 60.3% Price: $60


POINTS

2017

WINES

POINTS

94

OF

TOP 100

91

TOP 100 CELLAR SELECTION WINES OF 2017

WORLD WINE VALUES 2017

O F S A N A N TO N I O W I N E RY

WWW.RIBOLIWINES.COM

BOLD IS PASO ROBLES . ES TATE GROWN


TOP 100 SPIRITS I 2017

93

Coldwater Whiskey (USA; Crown Valley Distilling, St. Genevieve, MO). Concentrated cocoa and cereal notes introduce this “Missouri whiskey” to nose and palate. It sips a bit drier than the rich scent suggests, layering on leather, oak and a faint campfire note, and finishing with clove and cinnamon sizzle and final dusting of cocoa. Sip or mix. abv: 45% Price: $45

93

Melky Miller American Whiskey (USA; New Liberty Distillery, Philadelphia, PA). This “heritage series” whiskey is made mostly from corn, with just 1% barley, and is aged for eight years. Yet the producer says it’s made in “classic Maryland style,” which usually refers to a lighter style of rye whiskey (there’s no rye in this whiskey). In short, this is a confusing whiskey to decode, but a tasty one to sip, integrating oak backbone with pecan, brown sugar, almond and hints of Sherry and cinnamon. The whiskey is sourced in Indiana but bottled in Pennsylvania. Best Buy. abv: 45% Price: $30

93

Rock Town Arkansas Whiskey/Flavor Grain Series Sorghum (USA; Rock Town Distillery, Little Rock, AR). An unusual whiskey made from Arkansas-grown sorghum grain (not sorghum syrup) and malted barley, aged 17 months in new charred oak barrels. The end result is reminiscent of Bourbon, with a deep amber hue and big, concentrated caramel, toffee, orange peel and spice. Water takes down the fire and flavor a notch, but still plenty of vanilla and crème brûlée to enjoy. Sip or mix. Best Buy. abv: 46% Price: $40

pepper finish. Adding water tames the alcohol heat, turns down the volume on the butterscotch and brings forward mellow hints of banana and vanilla. abv: 47% Price: $53

92

Smugglers’ Notch Litigation Wheat Whiskey (USA; Smugglers’ Notch Distillery, Jeffersonville, VT). Vanilla, almond and coconut scents lead to dry, oak-driven palate accented with leather, espresso and cigar wrapper, finishing with bracing nutmeg and cardamom. Adding water coaxes out a pleasing fresh pear note. This four-year-old whiskey is made from 95% wheat and 5% barley. abv: 46% Price: $44

COGNAC

97

Camus XO Cognac (France; CIL CIL Wines & Spirits, Fort Lauderdale, FL). Dark, mysterious and complex, this deep-amber liquid has a sherried scent, with hints of fresh figs and black cherry. The mouthwatering palate is sweet up front, showing vanilla and black cherry, drying to a long finish of earthy espresso, leather, orange peel and a brush of cocoa. Borderies region. abv: 40% Price: $180

96

Louis Jolliet Cognac XO (France; Goldline Brands, Walnut Creek, CA). Richly scented with fig, raisin and toffee, those notes carry over on the palate along with vanilla bean and walnut. It finishes rounded and gorgeous with a lip-smacking trail of cocoa, espresso, orange peel and clove. abv: 40% Price: $100

96

Maison Surrenne Lot David Picoron Cognac (France; Alambic, Ukiah, CA). This is made from the 1975 vintage from David Picoron’s hillside vineyard in the Grande Champagne region. Intriguingly deep, dark aromas beckon: figs, toffee and Portlike dark fruit. These flavors show a bit drier on the supple palate, transforming into dark chocolate, oak and stewed cherries, finishing very long with walnut, leather, clove and black pepper. abv: 40% Price: $350

93

The Hilhaven Lodge (USA; Diageo Americas, Norwalk, CT). A blend of whiskey styles (Bourbon, rye and Tennessee whiskey) yields a golden spirit with a gentle peach nectar and almond profile, underpinned by oaky vanilla and a cinnamon-clove finish. Feels light, sips well. This is a collaboration between Diageo and Hollywood director Brett Ratner. abv: 40% Price: $50

92

Koval Single Barrel Whiskey Four Grain (USA; Koval, Chicago, IL). The four grains in question: oats, malted barley, rye and wheat. The result: an amber whiskey with luscious butterscotch and caramel on nose and palate, plus a spicy clove-

70 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

96

Normandin-Mercier Cognac Prestige (France; Heavenly Spirits, Lakeville, MA). Nuanced and complex, this shows a floral lilt up front, segueing into more substantial vanilla and honey aromas. The palate is relatively dry, with cocoa and leather lightening to ginger spice and hints of tropical fruit. Fine Champagne region. abv: 40% Price: $98

95

Augier Le Sauvage Cognac (France; Quest Brands, Chattanooga, TN). The mild, fresh aroma suggests white flowers and fresh-cut pear, while the palate reflects those gentle floral-fruit notes coupled with honey and vanilla, finishing with a delicate whiff of smoke. Gift this almost whiskey-

like Cognac to a Scotch-lover. Petite Champagne region, made 100% from Ugni Blanc grapes. abv: 40.8% Price: $62

95

Courvoisier Cognac XO (France; Beam Suntory, Chicago, IL). Showing bright topaz in the glass, this Cognac entices with rich, concentrated caramel and toffee aromas. Fleetingly sweet on the palate, vanilla, mocha and hazelnut lead into a rounded brown-sugar finish punctuated by clove and orange peel. This easy sipper would be welcome at any dessert table. Made with a blend of Cognacs aged 11–25 years. abv: 40% Price: $150

95

Merlet Cognac XO (France; Bedford & Grove, Louisville, KY). The hazelnut aroma suggests a rich, sweet brandy, however the palate is surprisingly light and delicate. Initial nutty, fudgy notes quickly give way to lively orange peel and spice, finishing with an elegant hint of violet. abv: 40% Price: $90

95

Tiffon Reserve Fin Bois Cognac (France; Martin Scott Wines, New York, NY). Look for elegant vanilla, lemon cream and apricot on the wellbalanced nose and palate, finishing long and spiced on a distinct lemony note on the exhale. abv: 40% Price: $228

94

Cognac Delamain XO (France; Kobrand, New York, NY). From the only house were the Cognacs start at XO, this blend of 20- to 25-year-old brandies is mellow and honeyed. The white flower, honey and pear fragrance leads the nose. A flurry of spice—cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger—enlivens the palate, leading to toasty brioche and vanilla, plus hints of pear and walnut. The finish is long, palatecoating and silky. Grande Champagne region. abv: 40% Price: $120

94

Pierre Ferrand Reserve Double Cask Cognac (France; Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, Stamford, CT). Rich, comforting caramel and vanilla aromas show that there’s plenty of oak influence in this Cognac. The palate entices with caramel, cocoa and espresso, leading into a long, fudgy finish with hints of baking spice, orange peel, almond and coconut. Grande Champagne region. abv: 42.3% Price: $80

93

Hennessy Master Blender’s Selection No. 1 Cognac (France; Moet Hennessy USA, New York, NY). Think Bourbon flavors with brandy delicacy. Notably dark-nut brown in the glass, this Cognac opens with warm caramel, toffee and cocoa on the nose and palate. Echoes of brandied cherry, orange peel and cinnamon-clove spice wind into the finish. This might be just the ticket to experiment with Cognac-based Old Fashioneds. abv: 43% Price: $80


TOP 100 SPIRITS I 2017

93

Prunier Cognac XO (France; Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York, NY). Made with a blend of Cognacs aged 20 to 50 years, this is a complex, dessert-worthy sipper. The lovely aromas evoke vanilla and caramel apple, while the palate shows brown sugar, candied walnut, dark chocolate and espresso and finishes on warming clove and burnt orange peel. Pair with dark chocolate. Grande Champagne region. abv: 40% Price: $150

GIN

94

Citadelle Reserve Solera Gin (France; W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Stamford, CT). An unusual, complex gin made using a total of 23 casks, including barrels that previously held Cognac, Pineau des Charentes and Bourbon, among others. It has a light straw hue and gentle vanilla scent, opening smooth and sweet with hints of grapefruit peel, ginger and pink peppercorn zing, and a mellow fade marked by cinnamon, coriander, almond and coconut. Sip or mix. Best Buy. abv: 44% Price: $35

London Dry-style gin with a few unusual botanicals (cocoa, sarsaparilla root) adding nuance. abv: 44.5% Price: $35

Plenty of white pepper and ginger braces up the zingy finish. Think gin and tonics. abv: 45% Price: $39

92

91

ESP Smoked Gin (USA; Empire Spirits Project, Yonkers, NY). Part of a trio of “culinaryinspired” gins, this is clear in the glass, with hints of rye bread-like caraway, rosewater and black pepper on the nose and palate. It reads more as pepperyspicy than smoky, but it’s definitely a daring spin for the often-genteel gin category. abv: 42% Price: $38

Junipero Gin (USA; Anchor Distilling, San Francisco, CA). The 20th anniversary of this robust spirit, the first craft gin distilled in the U.S. after Prohibition, was in 2016. The aroma mingles juniper and citrus; the palate also shows plenty of lemon curd sweetness and peppery spice (cubeb, grains of paradise, pink peppercorn), finishing spicy with white peppercorn and coriander seed. abv: 49.3% Price: $33

92

Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin (Australia; The Craft Spirits Cooperative, San Mateo, CA). Warm with orange and spice notes, this gin is earthy and woodsy, finishing with a hint of bitter orange peel. Mix this mouthwatering gin made in Australia’s Yarra Valley into Negronis and other bold-flavored cocktails. abv: 41.8% Price: $38

IRISH WHISKEY

96

Midleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey (Ireland; Pernod Ricard USA, New York, NY). Complex, robust, and hard to put down, this sipper offers big, buttery, toasty flavor. Look for crème brûlée and custard, caramel apple and brioche rounding into a gently spiced finish. Limited production. abv: 40% Price: $160

95

92 93

Big Gin London Dry (USA; Captive Spirits, Seattle, WA). The brisk, piny aroma leads into the notably silky palate, marked by mild juniper and fennel and finishing with bracing hints of lime peel, white pepper and cinnamon. Versatile for a wide range of cocktails. Best Buy. abv: 47% Price: $30

93

Bristow Gin Single Barrel Reserve (USA; Cathead Distillery, Jackson, MS). Reminiscent of gingerbread, this honey-hued gin is aged in new American oak for more than one year and has a sweet scent and bold palate that shows vanilla bean, cinnamon, clove, cardamom and a hint of molasses, finishing with a sarsaparilla-like roots-and-bark finish. Try it in an Old Fashioned-style cocktail. abv: 56.5% Price: $55

93

Snowdrop American Dry Gin (USA; Saxtons River Distillery, Brattleboro, VT). The subtly sweet scent suggests citrus and coriander, which is echoed on the soft, flavorful palate. Cardamom and anise accent the brisk, clean finish. Overall, this is a

72 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

The Revivalist Botanical Gin Solstice Expression (USA; Brandywine Branch Distillers, Elverson, PA). This robust, deliciously juicy sipper spent time in former red wine casks. It has a rosegold hue and shows plenty of fruit and spice, starting with dried cherry and leading into ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, plus a burst of anise on the finish. This barrel-aged gin is begging to marry with sweet vermouth, so mix it into Old Fashioned- or Manhattan-style cocktails; cherry garnish, of course. abv: 46.5% Price: $40

Barr an Uisce 1803 Single Malt Irish Whiskey (Ireland; Niche Import Co., Cedar Knolls, NJ). Balancing fruit, spice and oak, this 10-year-old whiskey offers enticing orchard and stone-fruit aromas warmed by a whiff of butterscotch. The palate opens with zingy baking spice and winds into a long exit with citrus peel and buttery brioche. A splash of water tames the spicy heat, but still leaves plenty of sprightly flavor. abv: 46% Price: $80

95

Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey (Ireland; Pernod Ricard USA, New York, NY). The bold, fruit aroma suggests fresh-cut apples and honeysuckle, while the silky palate offers deep, bold flavor. Look for dark honey and clove, edging into tea, oak and cocoa midpalate. Apple freshness brightens the dry finish. An ice cube is the only adornment needed for this well-structured, tasty sipper. abv: 40% Price: $65

92

Whistling Andy Gin (USA; Whistling Andy, Bigfork, MT). The anise scent is echoed on the palate, alongside lemon verbena and piney freshness, finishing smooth and brisk. The gin is steeped with pears and pink peppercorns, though it’s hard to detect the subtle fruitiness unless you’re actively looking for it. Versatile cocktail option. Best Buy. abv: 40% Price: $25

92

Woodcut Barrel Rested Gin (USA; Temple Distilling, Lynnwood, WA). Made with a Navy Strength gin base rested in ex-Bourbon barrels, this gin has a light straw tint and aromatics that suggest a classic dry gin: mild juniper and citrus, plus a hint of almond nods to the oak influence. The palate is distinctly sweet and light, weaving honey, coriander seed and lemon peel with lychee-like floral notes.

93

Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Single Malt (Ireland; Castle Brands, New York, NY). The aroma is enticingly bright and fruity, like fresh


TOP 100 SPIRITS I 2017 pears, while the palate is silky and mellow. A fruity core is layered with vanilla, hints of salted butterscotch and buttery croissant, plus a light sprinkle of cinnamon and clove. Best Buy. abv: 40% Price: $43

chocolate scent and fleeting sweetness on the palate, perked up by a lightly spicy, tingly exit that suggests ancho chile. Ideal to add spice and mild sweetness to whiskey or brandy drinks. abv: 29% Price: $36

91

92

90

92

Kinahan’s Blended Irish Whiskey (Ireland; The Winebow Group, New York, NY). Created from a combination of whiskeys made with malted and unmalted barley, this is a gentle, versatile spirit to sip or mix. The honeyed scent leads into a light, sweet flavor profile that shows coconut and vanilla, plus a bracing sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon heat on the drying finish. Best Buy. abv: 46% Price: $40 Brothership Irish-American Whiskey Aged 10 Years (Ireland/USA; Millstone Spirits Group, Philadelphia, PA). This unusual bottling comprises 55% Irish whiskey and 45% American whiskey, both 10 years old. Look for a citrusy aroma with a hint of smoke. The palate shows lots of bright tropical fruit, lemon curd and pear, with a whiff of smoke, and finishing with drying oak and ginger heat. Sip or mix. abv: 45% Price: $50

90

The Dubliner Irish Whiskey (Ireland; Prestige Beverage Group, St. Paul, MN). A blend of single-malt and grain whiskeys, this has a relatively light, approachable profile. The aroma is bright, fresh and grassy, with hints of white peach and smoke. The palate shows subtle sweetness, layering peach, lemon and grapefruit peel with almond, oak and coconut, plus a mouthwatering, spicy gingercinnamon finish. Best Buy. abv: 40% Price: $27

LIQUEUR

95

Caffè Amaro (USA; J. Rieger and Company, Kansas City, MO). Ideal for mixing nuanced cocktails that don’t taste like dessert, this bittersweet coffee-based amaro offers a mix of almond, chocolate and coffee, finishing with cardamom and bitter orange peel complexity. Made with coffee from Kansas City roaster Thou Mayest, and briefly barrel aged. abv: 31% Price: $30

93

Metcalfe’s Raspberry Liqueur (USA; Vermont Distillers, Marlboro, VT). Made with over a quart of raspberries in each bottle, look for a deep plum hue and bold, sweet raspberry jam aroma and flavor. Add sparingly to cocktails where a bit of fruity sweetness is desired, or follow the producer’s suggestion to pour over ice cream. Best Buy. abv: 16.5% Price: $25

92

Don Ciccio & Figli Nocino (USA; Don Ciccio & Figli, Washington, DC). Deep brown in the glass, this walnut liqueur offers a pleasing dark

74 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Fair Café Liqueur (France; Baron Francois, New York, NY). Made with Fair Trade coffee and sugar, this liqueur has a fresh-ground coffee scent and viscous, creamy feel. Hazelnut, milk chocolate and mocha coat the palate, finishing with hints of coffee, chocolate, orange peel and spice. Mix into coffee or pair with dessert. abv: 22% Price: $22/375 ml

Moonlight Expresso Coffee Liqueur (USA; Marble Distilling Co., Carbondale, CO). Sip or mix this dessert-worthy liqueur. It looks and smells like coffee. On the palate, it’s viscous and quite sweet, suggesting coffee with milk and sugar, finishing with rich hints of milk chocolate, Nutella and cinnamon. abv: 28% Price: $34

92

Nocino from Watershed Distillery (USA; Watershed Distillery, Columbus, OH). This inky, opaque walnut liqueur has a mild scent and drying, tannic palate that suggests unsweetened chocolate, blackberry and prune. It comes alive on the finish, showing orange peel, vanilla bean and baking spice. Sip as a refreshing digestif. Made with Ohio black walnuts in a vodka base. abv: 24% Price: $30/375 ml

pronounced alcohol kick; seems ideal as a warming post-prandial sipper. abv: 35% Price: $43

90

Art in the Age Black Trumpet Blueberry Cordial (USA; Tamworth Distilling, Tamworth, NH). Mushroom cocktails are trendy right now, but this might be the first commercial bottling of a liqueur made with Black Trumpet mushrooms, along with blueberries, lavender and lemon verbena. Altogether, it’s a heady, intriguing mix, purple in the glass and scented like crushed berries and dried herbs. The complex palate suggests a mix of mashed blueberries and Concord grape jam, enlivened by a faint savory note midpalate, and finishing with lush, palate-coating fruit. Try it in a Kir. abv: 25% Price: $40/375 ml

MEZCAL

94

Mezcal Real Minero Pechuga (Mexico; Heavy Metl Premium Exports, Austin, TX). The scent is rich and almost chicken-soup savory, while the rounded palate shows subtle honey-like sweetness at first, drying midpalate to leaner notes of menthol, rosemary and rubber. The long, lip-smacking finish brings back honey, this time mingled with light smoke and cayenne sparks. abv: 51.7% Price: $170

92

St. George Raspberry Liqueur (USA; St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA). Made with a mix of raspberry brandy and raspberry juice, this is not a classic sweet sipper. It has a fair amount of sour cherry-like acidity on the palate, and reads almost like a port or weighty red wine. It’s deep and dark in the glass, featuring stewed berry and dried herb aromas, along with a fruit-forward palate that finishes on a mouth-puckering hint of lemon curd. Pair with dark chocolate. abv: 20% Price: $35

91

Crème De Noyaux (Switzerland; Tempus Fugit Spirits, Petaluma, CA). This unusual garnethued spirit is based on a historic 19th-century French liqueur. Almond extract and cherry-berrylike fruitiness mix together in a flavor profile that will remind some of childhood cough syrup, but finishes far more pleasantly, with cinnamon spice and hibiscus. An essential ingredient for the Pink Squirrel, with crème de cacao and fresh cream. abv: 30% Price: $40

91

Vicario Nocino Walnut Liqueur (Italy; Salute! LLC, Greenville, SC). Dark, inky brown, with a savory, herbaceous scent. The flavor surprises with a spicy burst up front, with leads to cola, amaro-like bitterness, and a rounded, mouthwatering finish accented with vanilla, clove and allspice. There’s a

93

Mezcales de Leyenda Puebla Mezcal (Mexico; MS Walker, Norwood, MA). Showing a faint straw tinge in the glass, this is a mild but complex mezcal. It opens with a waft of mesquite-like savory smoke, plus hints of cumin, black pepper and coriander. The finish is clean and brisk, with citrus, white pepper and a touch of vanilla. abv: 47% Price: $85

92

Gracias a Dios Mezcal Tobalá (Mexico; Domaine Select Wine & Spirits, New York, NY). Look for delicate hints of white floral and vanilla in the nuanced, slightly sweet aroma. On the palate,


TOP 100 SPIRITS I 2017 light sweetness is chased by smoke, finishing with a citrusy, fresh herb lilt. abv: 45% Price: $75

ishes dry and bracing, with herbal notes returning on the exhale. abv: 40% Price: $70

92

Wahaka Mezcal Jabali Joven (Mexico; Wild Agave Imports, Austin, TX). The aroma is deliciously savory, evoking zesty hints of tomato and dried herbs. The palate opens with fleeting sweetness, leading to rounded, smoky midpalate and a long finish tinged with menthol, spearmint and fresh rosemary. abv: 47% Price: $95

91

Creyente Mezcal Joven (Mexico; Proximo Spirits, Jersey City, NJ). The aroma mixes honey and floral notes with a zestier zing. On the palate, the balance shifts, with bold zesty-savory notes coming forward and floral and mineral notes taking a more subtle role. A ribbon of smoke ties it all together and wafts into the finish. abv: 40% Price: $50

RUM

96

Kirk and Sweeney 23 Year (Dominican Republic; 3 Badge Beverage Corp., Sonoma, CA). Complex, delicious and ideal as a sipping rum. The deep aroma suggests caramel, toffee and oak. The velvety-soft palate shows toffee, fudge, cocoa and oloroso Sherry, drying out the long finish with espresso, leather, clove and black pepper. abv: 40% Price: $59

94

Don Q Signature Release 2005 Single Barrel (Puerto Rico; Serralles USA, Addison, TX). A limited edition bottling made from rum that first met the barrel in 2005, this golden spirit has a bright, fresh banana-and-honey scent. It sips smooth and silky, with lots of honey and hints of coconut and vanilla. First in a planned series of single-barrel-aged rum releases. abv: 40% Price: $40

93

Warship Reserved Black Strap Rum (USA; Distilling Head, Portland, OR). This white rum is clear in the glass (“black strap” refers to the molasses from which the rum is is distilled). It has an earthy, intense scent that suggests banana, and is quite flavorful, showing lots of fruit and smooth hints of coconut and almond, plus an intriguing saline touch on the finish. Small batch; made with Fair Trade sugarcane from Paraguay, but distilled in Oregon. abv: 40% Price: $40

92

The Baron Samedi Spiced Rum (Jamaica; Campari America, San Francisco, CA). This robust rum has a deep, ruddy hue and cola-like vanilla and allspice scent. Despite an initial flicker of brown sugar and black cherry sweetness on the palate, it quickly morphs into a relatively dry finish, with hints of leather, clove, allspice and cocoa. Sip with an ice cube to cool the alcohol heat, or mix. According to the producer, the spirit is Caribbean column still rum enhanced with Jamaican pot still rum. abv: 45% Price: $22

92

Wicked Dolphin Spiced Rum (USA; Wicked Dolphin, Cape Coral, FL). Honey-hued and made with 100% Florida sugar, this small-batch spiced rum offers complex aromatics: vanilla, allspice, nutmeg and a surprising lemon-peel note. That citrus note sings out on the palate, accompanied by vanilla and baking spice, leading into hotter cinnamon and black pepper. Sip or mix. abv: 40% Price: $20

91

Sugar Island Spiced Rum (Virgin Islands; Trinchero Family Estates, St Helena, CA). Don’t be fooled by the mild, almost neutral scent; this rum has plenty of flavor. Relatively sweet from the first sip, caramelized sugar, oak and allspice lead into a warming, impressively long finish marked by hazelnut, brown sugar and spice. Best Buy. abv: 46% Price: $19

91

Mayalen Mezcal Borrego (Mexico; Vision Wine & Spirits, Taunton, MA). Brisk and refreshing, expect a citrusy explosion on nose and palate, with waxy lemon peel and lemon verbena followed by pine, cilantro, fresh bay leaf and mint, plus a drying, lip-smacking finish marked by cayenne heat. abv: 49% Price: $69

91 94

Mezcal Santa Pedrera (Mexico; VOS Selections, New York, NY). The aroma suggests roasted peppers, comfortingly warm and bold. The silky, herbaceous palate evokes fresh oregano and mint. A gentle echo of roasted-pepper sweetness joins on the exhale, accented by black pepper and mild smoke. abv: 46% Price: $50

Starr Oak Aged Vieux Rum (Mauritius; Starr African Imports, Manhasset, NY). Launched in October 2016, this lip-smacking bottling is made with rum aged up to seven years. The burnishedgold liquid offers mild brown sugar and butterscotch aromas. The buttery palate starts with oak, vanilla and cookie dough, finishing long, powerful and a bit hot, with a swirl of clove and cinnamon. Cool with an ice cube to sip or mix. abv: 40% Price: $49

90

93

91

Espiritu Lauro Mezcal Artesanal (Mexico; VOS Selections, New York, NY). The muscular aroma evokes rubber, petrol and a whiff of fresh oregano. Brisk herbaceous notes on the palate— rosemary, pine, a hint of lemon peel—almost suggest a gin, set against a core of rubber and smoke. Fin-

76 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Crusoe Spiced Rum (USA; Greenbar Distillery, Los Angeles, CA). This silky, particularly aromatic spiced rum is reminiscent of gingerbread, offering plenty of molasses, vanilla, allspice and nutmeg on the nose and palate. Sip or mix into tiki drinks. abv: 35% Price: $31

Sugarlands Shine Mark & Digger’s Hazelnut Rum (USA; Sugarlands Distilling Company, Gatlinburg, TN). A sweet treat packaged in a mason jar, “moonshine” style. The bold, superrich aroma is redolent of luscious nut butter. The hazelnut sweetness is reflected on the moderately viscous palate, laced with amaretto and a hint of dusty cocoa; a welcome flicker of alcohol heat veers it away from becoming cloying. abv: 40% Price: $25

90

Alander Spiced Rum (USA; Far North Spirits, Hallock, MN). Made with Louisiana turbinado and Florida demerara sugar, this light gold rum offers a rich, nutty aroma. The flavor profile is relatively light, with brown sugar and vanilla washing over undertones of pecan and espresso, finishing with ginger, cinnamon and clove sizzle. abv: 43% Price: $33


TOP 100 SPIRITS I 2017

SINGLE-MALT SCOTCH

97

Glenfiddich Gran Reserva Rum Cask Finish 21 Years Old Scotch (Scotland; William Grant, New York, NY). Finished in rum casks, the honey and orange zest aromas suggest a cocktail, not a straight pour of Scotch. These flavors are echoed on the silky palate, opening with cocoa and leather and evolving into a luscious, fudge-like finish, with hints of orange peel and cinnamon. Enjoy with a big rock of ice and a piece of orange peel, it needs no other adornment. abv: 40% Price: $180

TEQUILA

94

The Classic Cask Ben Nevis 17 Scotch (Scotland; Spirit Imports, Sunrise, FL). The bright aroma suggests vanilla, white flowers and fresh-cut pear. Starting out juicy, the smoky midpalate is a bit of a surprise, winding into a long vanilla finish accented by clove. Adding water integrates the spice notes and pushes back the smoke to more subtle levels, allowing the fresh pear note to shine through. Single cask; 312 bottles. abv: 46% Price: $144

96

Don Amado Reposado (Mexico; Hass Brothers, San Francisco, CA). You don’t see too many barrel-aged mezcals, and this one is a beauty. Four months in used brandy casks gives this espadín mezcal a straw hue and enticing, well-integrated layers of dried apricot, honey, Sherry, gingery spice and Scotch-like smoke. abv: 45% Price: $60

93

Glencadam Aged 10 Years Scotch (Scotland; CIL US Wines & Spirits, Fort Lauderdale, FL). Golden in the glass, this Highlands single malt opens with a bright fresh-apple scent. The brisk palate shows plenty of fruit and spice, wrapped up with cayenne fireworks. Dilution mellows the heat, bringing fruit, vanilla and spice into harmonious balance. abv: 46% Price: $55

93

Shieldaig 14 Years Old Scotch (Scotland; Saranty Imports, Stamford, CT). A pleasing mix of smoke and oak marks this Islay single malt. The briny, subtly smoky aroma suggests seaweed. The palate is relatively dry, mixing a vanilla core with a dusty hint of cocoa and smoky overlay. Adding water softens the texture and brings out more vanilla and spice, plus bracing citrus and pine on the finish. Sips well. abv: 40% Price: $60

93 96

BenRiach 10 Year Scotch (Scotland; BrownForman, Louisville, KY). This rich and nuanced single malt entices with butterscotch and fresh apricot aromas. The palate delivers plush layers of vanilla, butterscotch and mocha wrapped in campfire smoke, finishing with baking spice. abv: 43% Price: $62

96

Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or Scotch (Scotland; Moët Hennessy USA, New York, NY). This 12-year-old single malt was finished in casks that previously held Sauternes, the golden sweet wine of Bordeaux. Smooth and elegant, look for a honey hue and notes of vanilla and lemon cream on the palate, finishing with baking spice and a puff of smoke. Adding water unleashes more creamy vanilla and citrus. Abv: 46% Price: $75

95

Glen Grant 12 Scotch (Scotland; Campari America, San Francisco, CA). This burnished gold whiskey shows apple and pear drizzled with butterscotch on the nose and palate, plus campfire smoke and gingerbread spice on the exceedingly long exit. A splash of water tames the heat and transforms the oak into vanilla and buttery brioche. Best Buy. abv: 43% Price: $47

78 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Scotch (Scotland; Edrington, New York, NY). Look for a rich butterscotch scent and a hint of fresh apricot. On the palate, this Sherry-matured single malt layers on concentrated caramel, butterscotch and custard, finishing long and spiced on a hint of orange peel. abv: 43% Price: $65

96

San Matias Tahona Blanco (Mexico; Sazerac, Chicago, IL). Named for the tahona stone used to crush the agave piñas, this blanco has an astonishing purity to it. Pleasingly peppery on the nose and palate, backed by a hint of vanilla, roasted jalapeño emerges midpalate before finishing clean and crisp, with a lemon-zest note. Sip or mix. abv: 40% Price: $60

92

Jura 10 Scotch (Scotland; Whyte & Mckay USA Imports, Hayward, CA). The distillery’s newest bottling is rich and slightly smoky. Time in former Bourbon and oloroso Sherry barrels means that lip-smacking hazelnut, brown sugar and cocoa take center stage, finishing with dry hints of leather, chamomile and clove. abv: 40% Price: $55

90

Lagavulin 8 Year Old Scotch (Scotland; Diageo, Norwalk, CT). Look for a straw hue and unmistakably peaty, smoky scent. On the palate, fruity sweetness leads at first, quickly morphing into a billow of pungent peat smoke. Quite drying, and finishes fiery. Water tamps down the alcohol heat and brings more orchard fruit forward. Released in 2016 to honor Alfred Barnard, considered to be the first whiskey writer, as part of the 200th anniversary of Lagavulin. abv: 48% Price: $65

95

Arta Silver (Mexico; Arta Tequila, Englewood, CO). This single-estate blanco has a bold, bracing scent that suggests bell pepper, fresh basil and lemon peel. The citrusy palate is accented by fresh herbs and trails off with a hint of vanilla sweetness. The gorgeous Day of the Dead-style bottle design makes this a gift-worthy pick. abv: 40% Price: $40


Join Executive Editor Susan Kostrzewa on a series of exclusive insider tours of the world’s most exciting wine and food cities! In the newest episode, Kostrzewa hits energetic Seattle to explore the destination’s most unique wine, food and 

              restaurateurs, and spotlighting cultural gems along the trail.

Watch our 48-hour adventure in Seattle at winemag.com/48HoursSeattle. Thirsty for more... Watch 48 Hours in Miami and Milan live on winemag.com.


TOP 100 SPIRITS I 2017

93

Oro de Lidia Tequila Blanco (Mexico; World Trade Liquor Imports, Laredo, TX). Delicate and nuanced, the mild, fresh scent suggests tomato water and fresh basil. The palate is mellow, grassy and bright, laced with spearmint and basil and finishing with zesty lemon peel and ginger. abv: 40% Price: $40

92

Earth Vodka (USA; State 31 Spirits, Mira Loma, CA). Clean and invigorating, with a suggestion of almond-like sweetness midpalate, this corn-based vodka is neutral overall, finishing with a refreshing flicker of alcohol heat. Versatile for cocktail mixing. Best Buy. abv: 40% Price: $10

92

Cobalto Tequila Blanco (Mexico; Park Street Imports, Miami, FL). This certified organic Tequila has an herbaceous scent, suggesting mint and bell pepper. The soft palate shows agave up front, moving to a spicy midpalate with plenty of cayenne and black pepper heat, then finishing with hints of herbs and lemon peel, plus a kick of alcohol heat. abv: 40% Price: $40

94

Chamucos Tequila Blanco (Mexico; Palm Bay International, Boca Raton, FL). This is a raw, visceral, sexy Tequila. The savory, almost meaty nose and palate are reminiscent of pechuga mezcals (which are actually made with meat). All that umami is softened by a rounded, waxy honey note on the midpalate, finishing with an herbaceous lilt on the peppery exhale. abv: 40% Price: $45

92

Tequila 512 (Mexico; Willis Importing, Austin, TX). The aroma entices with honey and subtle vegetal notes. Meanwhile, the palate has a lightly fruity flavor, suggesting raspberry, honey and vanilla, plus a sprinkle of cayenne on the crisp finish. Best Buy. abv: 40% Price: $25

VODKA

94

One With Life Silver Tequila (Mexico; MHW Ltd., Manhasset, NY). Certified organic, this blanco has a zesty, savory nose and palate that suggest dried herbs, honey and a hint of tomato paste. The complex flavor finishes with light almond and agave sweetness, a hint of steely minerality, and a final burst of jalapeño heat. abv: 40% Price: $38

92

Hell’s Half Acre 1885 Vodka (USA; Citrus Distillers, Riviera Beach, FL). Distilled from cassava root, this unusual vodka shows distinct sweetness. Look for a light vanilla scent and hints of dulce de leche, almond and vanilla on the creamy palate, plus cinnamon sizzle on the finish. Ideal for dessertlike cocktails or anywhere a bit of sweetness is desired. Best Buy. abv: 40% Price: $19

91

Mon Bijou Vodka (France; Advantage Imports, Doral, FL). Generally neutral on the nose and palate, hints of rubber and charcoal midpalate lead into a clean finish, with just the right amount of alcohol heat for backbone. A food-friendly companion for smoked fish, aged cheeses or other savory bites. Best Buy. abv: 40% Price: $17

91

Tower Vodka (USA; Tower Vodka, Pilot Point, TX). Smooth and versatile, this “micro batch” vodka offers light coconut sweetness on the palate, fading into cinnamon heat on the finish. Best Buy. abv: 40% Price: $17

93 93

Cazadores Tequila Blanco (Mexico; Bacardi, Coral Gables, CA). Brisk, clean and herbaceous, this Tequila is almost reminiscent of gin. The aroma has a spicy edge, plus hints of mint and dill, while the minty palate finishes with vanilla-coconut sweetness and mild baking-spice tingle. Versatile for a wide range of cocktails. Best Buy. abv: 40% Price: $24

80 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Dripping Springs Vodka (USA; San Luis Spirits, Dripping Springs, TX). Overall pristine and smooth, this corn-based vodka is clean on the nose and palate, finishing with brisk white-pepper heat smoothed by faint almond sweetness. Best Buy. abv: 40% Price: $20

90

Chase English Potato Vodka (England; Palm Bay International, Boca Raton, FL). Banana and raspberry tease the nose and palate. The earthy, silky palate also shows hints of graphite, charcoal and potato skin, finishing with coriander and almond sweetness. abv: 40% Price: $33

92

Cape Cod Vodka (USA; AstraLuna LLC, Medfield, MA). Produced from corn and Cape Cod potatoes, this versatile vodka offers feather-light almond sweetness, carrying over into the gentle, creamy finish, plus a refreshing flicker of white pepper heat. abv: 40% Price: $28

Visit winemag.com/top100spirits2017 to download a PDF of the list.


Patagonia, Argentina

82 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


ULTIMATE

WINE TOURS

BY

A

R I S A W Y AT T

wine vacation should be 100 percent fun, so skip the logistics hassles, and take a wine tour organized by top professionals. True insiders in their regions, these operators arrange warm welcomes for you at famous wineries not generally open to the public. Itineraries include visits to new cult favorites as well as renowned grand castles. Owners and winemakers bring out “the good stuff”: older

vintages, limited-production bottlings and rare vertical tastings. But wait, there’s more: Tour operators arrange to have guests pampered with private guides and luxury hotels, as well as dining at top-rated restaurants and cozy, authentic eateries serving regional specialties. The world’s greatest wines, and some of wine’s most fascinating people and places, are waiting for you.

WINEMAG.COM | 83


Piedmont, Italy

Serralunga d’Alba

Barolo, truffles and castles Surrounded on three sides by the Alps, the Piedmont region is home terroir for superstars Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as lavish cuisine that includes truffles, cream sauces and softripened robiola cheese. On the Piedmont Wine Tour, a private, chauffeured Mercedes-Benz shuttles guests on VIP visits to estates that include La Spinetta for tastings of top-ranked Barbaresco and Barolo, and Borgogno (estab-

Maurizio Rosso of Gigi Rosso

lished 1761), where vertical tastings are available. Travelers also discover boutique properties like Gigi Rosso, where Winemaker Maurizio pulls out vintages from his own cellar, and Cordero di Montezemolo, managed by the same family since 1340. Enjoy pampering at accommodations like Castello di Guarene, an 18th-century palace with beautiful gardens. Meals are equally memorable at Piazza Duomo in Alba, where Chef Enrico Crippa brings out the best in seasonal ingredients. Other activities can include tours of royal houses built by the Dukes of Savoy, bicycling excursions or skiing at Sestriere, site of several events during the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Add-On:

Contact:

The International

Cellar Tours,

Alba White Truffle

cellartours.com;

Fair is special fun

Piedmont Wine Tour:

in late autumn and

Nine days/eight

early winter.

nights from $7,500 per person.

MASSIMO RIPANI / SIME / ESTOCK PHOTOS

Piazza Duomo

84 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


PHOTO CREDIT

WINEMAG.COM | 85


New Zealand

A 1,000-mile journey This 12-day exploration spotlights the country’s top wine regions, from Waiheke Island in the north to Central Otago in the south, as well as extraordinary landscapes. Guests enjoy exclusive tastings with owners and winemakers. “We’re a small country, so we’re not in such a hurry,” says Grape Escape Owner Greg Beachen, who guides tours personally. Participants explore the city of Napier in Hawkes Bay, renowned for its concentration of Art Deco-style buildings, and visit historic properties like Mission Estate, founded in Napier by French missionaries in 1851, and modern architectural showstoppers like Craggy Range, set beneath Te Mata Peak in Havelock North. Most of all, visitors will remember the people they meet. That list includes Anna and Jason Flowerday, owners of Te Whare Ra, one of the oldest vineyards in Marlborough; and Kevin Judd, former winemaker at Cloudy Bay, who now has his own label, Greywacke. “We’re making friends,” says Beachen. “That’s what it’s all about.” The tour also presents one-of-a-kind opportunities like swimming and sailing at Abel Tasman National Park, scenic flights over Milford Sound and Jet-Boat rides near Queenstown. Add-On:

Contact:

Take the helm

Grape Escape Wine

of an America’s

Tours, grapeescapenz.

Cup sailing yacht

co.nz; Wine Trail New

on Waitemata

Zealand: Twelve days/

Harbour in

eleven nights from

Auckland.

$7,800–$17,000 per

Chefs at Hans Herzog

person.

Sophia cellar at Craggy Range

86 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Craggy Range Winery


WINEMAG.COM | 87


Mendoza, Argentina Malbecs and mountains

Start with landscapes that stretch from snowcapped Andes to the pampas. Throw in tango, galloping gauchos and a glacier, and you have this 12-night tour focused on Argentina’s wines and wonders. In Mendoza, guests follow the winemaking process from vineyard to vintage. Bodegas Salentein captivates with its modern architecture, art gallery and Malbec-led red blends. Andeluna occupies a state-of-the-art winery poised at 4,265 feet, while at the restaurant, tasting menus harmonize with acclaimed Malbecs and Bordeaux-style red blends. The accommodations of the tour match the caliber of the wines. One option is the Vines Resort & Spa, set in the Uco Valley, which offers wineblending sessions and dinner with wine pairings at superstar Chef Francis Mallmann’s on-site restaurant, Siete Fuegos. Travelers also stay at an estancia in the Cordoba region and a luxury lodge in Patagonia where they can trek on Perito Moreno glacier.

Add-On: Learn something new—take a tango lesson in Buenos Aires.

Contact: Scott Dunn Private Journeys, scottdunn.com; Malbec & Mountains: Argentina in Luxury: Thirteen days/twelve nights from $7,300 person.

Wine tasting at El Colibri

88 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Wine tasting at Entre Cielos


WINEMAG.COM | 89


Bordeaux, France

Taste your way through the region Legendary châteaux open their gates for this six-day/five-night tour. Highlights include tasting an older vintage of Pétrus, private meals at Classified Growth estates, a visit to the Museum of Wine in Art at First Growth Château Mouton Rothschild as well as a tour and tasting at Château d’Yquem. Guests stay at one of the oldest Grands Crus of Bordeaux (first harvested in 1252), Château Pape Clément, named after its founder and most famous owner, Pope Clement V. Dining opportunities feature Michelin-starred restaurants as well as small-gem local favorites. Guides, which may include a Master of Wine or a James Beard award-winning author, share insider knowledge about the futures market, where to purchase Bordeaux wines and importance of provenance. “We help wine lovers become connoisseurs,” says Pascale Bernasse,

Add-On:

Contact:

The company

French Wine Explorers,

also arranges

wine-tours-france.com;

custom tours

Bordeaux Prestige Tour

and small

(November 12–17, 2018):

group visits

Six days/five nights

to Bordeaux

from $6,900 per person.

during harvest.

Château Mouton Rothschild

90 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Château d’Yquem

MASSIMO RIPANI / SIME / ESTOCK; KRISTEL RICHARD / SIME / ESTCOK ; IN HIS GRACE PHOTO

president of French Wine Explorers.


WINEMAG.COM | 91


GOTTWINES.COM ©2017 JOEL GOTT WINES, ST. HELENA, CA


TOP

25 BEERS OF

2017

The best of the beers we reviewed this year. BY LAUREN BUZZEO

T

here’s no question that we’re living in a Golden Age for beer diversity, quality and, hey, just plain enjoyment. Case in point: A trip to the Brewers Association’s annual Great American Beer Festival offers access to more than 3,500 pours from across the U.S., and that’s still just a sampling of what’s out there. There are many more domestic and imported beers in market today, making it a nearly impossible—yet enticing—task to try and taste them all. Our annual Top 25 list is culled from the beers reviewed throughout the year for our Beer Buying Guide, which appears in every issue. This list is not the top 25 beers of all time, but instead represents the most exciting selections tasted over the past 12 months. Like the beers themselves, the list is all about balance. Ratings and pricing play important roles, but also considered is the representation of various brands, styles, countries, production sizes and availability. Continuing previous years’ trends, the majority of beers submitted and reviewed in 2017 were domestic, as the American craft-brewing scene continues to thrive. That being said, there are some stellar international bottlings included, like our number one pick of the year, from Belgium’s iconic Rodenbach Brewery. You can see what else was reviewed this year at winemag.com, but for now, a big cheers to the 25 best of the beer year.

94 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


WINEMAG.COM | 95


TOP 25 BEERS I 2017

1

3

6

94

94

Bruery Terreux 2017 Frucht: Boysenberry (Berliner Weissbier; Bruery Terreux, CA). The latest release in Bruery Terreux’s Frucht lineup is this tart Berlin-style wheat beer that’s aged in oak foeders with boysenberries. Balanced, complex and immensely enjoyable, it pours a gorgeous purpleruby color, with a fluffy light-pink head that lingers. The bouquet is massively fruity, but cleanly and attractively so, boasting intense fruit aromas of mixed berries, plum and vinous grape tones, with additional notes of oak spice, leather, barnyard funk and dried grass. The light-bodied palate offers more of the same, with vibrant fruit flavors that are lifted by high carbonation and a bright, tart acidic seam. abv: 4.5% Price: $12/750 ml

Great Divide Old Ruffian Barleywine (American Barleywine; Great Divide Brewing Co., CO). Great Divide does big beers really well, and its barleywine is no exception. The hops really shine here, with forward notes of dried flowers, citrus peel, grapefruit oil and resin, though it remains surprisingly bright and attractive throughout. The palate offers more weight and malty richness, with dried cherry and apricot dancing alongside flavors of toasted malt, molasses and fresh caramel. The warming finish has a lingering astringency and bitter texture that leaves you ready for your next sip. abv: 10.2% Price: $10/22 oz

7

4

98

Rodenbach Caractère Rouge Limited Edition Ale (Flanders Red Ale; Brewery Rodenbach, Belgium). This is a selection that, if you find it, should absolutely not be missed. It starts with Rodenbach’s Vintage Ale, which is macerated with cranberries, raspberries and sour cherries for six months and then refermented in bottle. The result is a stunning, complex and remarkably balanced beer. A gorgeous ruby-mahogany color, with a light head that falls fast, it leads with vibrant scents of fresh whole cherry and berry that are accented by waves of oak and sour fruit. The palate is forward in flavor, yet surprisingly smooth and refined, with medium carbonation and refreshing sour acidity that balance the ripe red-fruit characteristics. The elegant finish boasts notes of dried cherry, raspberry, cocoa and wood that linger long. It’s not over-the-top in any one trait, and is a beer that exemplifies how poised and well-composed a fruited Flanders ale can be. Latis LLC. abv: 7% Price: $23/750 ml

2

95

Goose Island 2017 Bourbon County Brand Stout (American Double/Imperial Stout; Goose Island Beer Co., IL). This vintage-dated selection is one of the most anticipated annual beer releases, with throngs of beer lovers lining up the day after Thanksgiving to try and get their share. The 2017 bottling is a doozy, oozing with rich, decadent aromas and flavors of chocolate sauce, charred oak, booze-soaked raisins and berries. It’s warm and inviting, with a deceptive smoothness that keeps you coming back for more despite its power and intensity. It’s a beer that many won’t be able to resist cracking open, but if you do manage to score a few, definitely tuck a couple away, as it will continue to harmonize and evolve magically with some years of cellaring. abv: 14.1% Price: $NA/22 oz

96 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

94

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery Ruse Imperial Milk Stout Aged in Red Wine Barrels (Milk/Sweet Stout; Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, VA). This is a powerful, flavorful brew that’s an ideal choice to bring both wine and beer lovers together over a glass. It pours an almost black color, with a slightly viscous look to it and a foamy tan head that falls fairly fast. The stout-like characteristics are upfront on the nose, with assertive aromas of roasted malt, milk chocolate, vanilla cream and roasted nuts, but they’re quickly followed up by scents of wine-soaked oak, black currant, plum and earth. The vinous notes continue through to the palate, at the fore of the sip atop the rich cream, caramel and chocolate malt base. It’s full in body and smooth—almost slick—in texture, with an endless and evolving finish. abv: 11.3% Price: $19/750 ml

5

94

Chimay Grand Réserve Ale Barrel Aged Dark Ale (Belgian Strong Dark Ale; Bières de Chimay, Belgium). A new release from the classic Trappist brewery, this is the classic Grand Réserve, or Blue, Chimay, with 22% aged in former rum barrels. It’s loaded with dense, woody aromas and flavors, expressed in waves of fruit cake, vanilla bean and toasted oak that lay atop the rich core of fresh caramel, brown sugar, toasted bread, rum baba and booze-soaked raisins and berries. It’s round and creamy, with a mouthfilling palate and a pleasant warmth that unfolds on the long, spicy finish. Manneken-Brussel Imports. abv: 10.5% Price: $40/750 ml

93

Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (Milk/Sweet Stout; Left Hand Brewing Company, CO). Now available in widget cans, Left Hand’s Nitro Milk Stout, America’s top-selling craft nitro stout, is not one to be overlooked. It pours with a beautiful presentation—and should be poured hard—as upward waves of foam cascade to the top of a dark black glass. The pillowy head releases initial notes of rich malt, roasted nuts, mocha and cocoa powder. The plush, smooth, mouthfilling palate offers more of the same, with lingering notes of vanilla ice cream topped with roasted cocoa nibs, toasted walnuts and espresso powder. It’s decadent, for sure, but it’s superbly balanced and utterly delicious. abv: 6% Price: $9/13.65oz 4 pack


TOP 25 BEERS I 2017

8

and tropical fruits, all of which transition into the smooth, creamy palate. There’s ample caramel malt at the core, grounding the hop flavors and appropriately bitter texture. Though slightly warm and round in body, it’s not out of balance, and offers a pleasant hit of pine-resin flavor on the finish. abv: 10.5% Price: $NA/22 oz

11

92

93

Captain Lawrence Powder Dreams India Pale Ale Double Dry-Hopped with Citra & Mosaic Lupulin Powder (American IPA; Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, NY). Canned in tall boys, this version of the brewery’s Powder Dreams, the third installment, is certainly bold and hoppy. A hazy orange-amber color, it leads with upfront aromas of ripe tropical fruit, melon rind and dried grapefruit, with a subtle herbaceous quality in the background. The mouthfeel is full and creamy, with ample carbonation and pleasant bitterness to counter the weight through the finish. Fruity flavors of pineapple, nectarine and grapefruit set the stage, with complex hits of oversteeped white tea and fresh grass lending interest and an astringent texture through the close. abv: 7.5% Price: $NA/16 oz 4 pack

9

93

Firestone Walker Mocha Merlin Coffee Infused Oatmeal Stout (Oatmeal Stout; Firestone Walker Brewing Co., CA). Firestone Walker took their popular, smooth and decadent Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout and brewed it with the Colombia La Granadilla blend from HoneyCo Coffee Roasters as well as cocoa nibs sourced from Ghana, transforming it into this Mocha Merlin seasonal offering. A deep mahogany-black color, with a serious tan head, it’s loaded with intense notes of espresso, roasted malts, vanilla oats and fudgy chocolate-caramel brownie on the nose and palate. The medium-bodied mouthfeel is creamy, plush and oh-so-satisfying, with just the right amount of carbonation to keep it all in balance. abv: 5.5% Price: $10/12 oz 6 pack

10

92

Reuben’s Brews Blimey That’s Bitter Triple India Pale Ale (American Double/Imperial IPA; Reuben’s Brews, WA). This “triple” IPA pours a honey-gold color, with a dense head that leaves good lacing behind. With about six pounds of hops added per barrel, it offers intense aromas of citrus, pine

98 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale (American Barleywine; Bell’s Brewery, MI). This rusty brown-colored brew leads with attractive scents of golden raisin, toffee, caramel, toasted grain and brown sugar, all hit with a good dose of hop-based characteristics like citrus peel, resin and earth. The palate is full and flavorful, with medium carbonation to keep the sweet boozy-fruit and roastedmalt flavors in check. The alcohol is surprisingly hidden, with only a subtle warmth lingering through the close. abv: 10.2% Price: $18/12 oz 6 pack

14

92

Societe The Highbinder Feral (American Wild Ale; Societe Brewing Company, CA). This blended barrel-amber ale was aged in California wine barrels, a portion of that time with raspberries. Cloudy mahogany in color, the vibrant bouquet offers aggressive notes of sour funk and tart berry that are complemented by additional vinous scents of red-wine vinegar and lightly toasted oak. Despite the sour notes, the mouthfeel is surprisingly full and creamy, though completely lifted by the acidic flavors and vibrant carbonation. The long finish is laced with tart fruit, cocoa powder and woodspice flavors. abv: 5.7% Price: $18/500 ml

15

12

92

Baladin Nora (Herbed/Spiced beer; Birrificio Baladin, Italy). Made with kamut grain from Egypt and flavored with ginger and myrrh, this is an interesting beer that’s best served not too cold to allow those earthy, subtle spice attributes to shine. A hazy orange-amber color, with a low head that falls fast, it’s all spiced citrus and sweet malt upfront, with a distinct white-flower accent. The mediumweight palate offers more of the same, with waves of ginger-spiced orange, lemon peel, orange blossom and biscuit that flood the mouth. The texture is smooth and creamy, with low carbonation and a rich, spicy finish that boasts great length and strength. It’s well balanced and layered, somehow simultaneously exhibiting concentration and elegance throughout. B. United International, Inc. abv: 6.8% Price: $18/750 ml

13

91

Lord Hobo Hobo Life Dry-Hopped Citra Session IPA (American IPA; Lord Hobo Brewing Company, MA). This pours a hazy goldenyellow color, with an off-white head that shows good staying power. The hop aromas immediately waft from the glass—loads of grapefruit peel, fresh grass and minty pine needle that all carry through to the palate. It smells bigger than it is, as the sip is surprisingly light, balanced by just enough malty support and fine carbonation. It’s sessionable, for sure, but definitely not lacking in flavor. abv: 4.5% Price: $9/12 oz 6 pack

91

Samuel Adams Rebel IPA (American IPA; The Boston Beer Co., MA). After more than four years, the brewers undertook what they dubbed “Project Lupulus” and completely reformulated this brew, taking advantage of hops that were not available when Rebel IPA was first launched in 2014. All in all, seven hops were chosen for the new recipe: Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, HBC 566 (a new hop variety proprietary and exclusive to Sam Adams), HBC 682 (another new experimental hop variety), Mosaic and Simcoe. The resulting brew is well balanced and more tropical in nature than the initial offering, with a solid but not overpowering caramelmalt core and varying hop tones throughout, from grapefruit rind to fresh pine, with bright pineapple and lemon fruit flavors. abv: 6.5% Price: $10/12 oz 6 pack


TOP 25 BEERS I 2017

16

19

91

90

Dogfish Head Namaste White (Witbier; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, DE). This yearround selection is brewed with dried organic-orange slices, fresh-cut lemongrass and a bit of coriander. When combined with bright effervescence and low alcohol, the result is a vibrant and refreshing beer, perfect for warm-weather entertaining. It pours a hazy yellow color, with a fluffy white head that’s true to the style. Intense orange- and lemon-zest aromas lead the charge, with additional notes of white pepper, clover, coriander and fresh wheat fleshing out the experience. It’s surprisingly smooth in feel before the carbonation kicks in and amplifies the citrus tones through the finish. Clean and well balanced, try it with dishes with a touch of heat, like buffalo wings, spicy crab cakes or spicy sushi. abv: 4.8% Price: $12/12 oz 6 pack

17

91

Harpoon Hoppy Adventure Double IPA (American Double/Imperial IPA; Harpoon Brewery, MA/VT). This pours a clean golden-orange color, with a frothy off-white head that leaves nice lacing behind with each sip. Scents of cut grass, orange supreme, freshly baked bread, floral hops and just a touch of pine needle all dance in the bouquet. Those notes all continue through to the malty, robust palate, which showcases superb overall balance and surprising drinkability for a DIPA. The finish is dry and lightly spiced with notes of mossy earth and peach pit. abv: 7.8% Price: $13/16 oz 4 pack

18

91

Stone Pataskala Red X IPA (American IPA; Stone Brewing Co., CA). Labeled as “a massively dry-hopped crimson IPA,” this brew gets its vibrant red hue from the special German malts used, called Red X, and its hop profile from the addition of Mosaic, Cascade and Amarillo hops. The resulting beer is a pleasant mix of IPA and red ale characteristics, with bright hop-centric scents of lemon and orange rind that are countered by a hit of clean malt. The smooth, medium-bodied palate boasts a rich, malty core, with flavors of toffee and toasted bread alongside hints of grapefruit pith and pine that carry through the mildly astringent finish. It’s surprisingly balanced, harmonious and easy to drink, despite the moderate alcohol. abv: 7.3% Price: $12/12 oz 6 pack

Visit winemag.com/top25beers2017 to download a PDF of the list. 100 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Deschutes Pacific Wonderland Lager (American Pale Lager; Deschutes Brewing, OR). Deschutes is more known for their assortment of ales, but this lager shouldn’t be overlooked. Made with Hallertau Herkules, Hallertau Mittelfruh and Tettnang Mandarina hops, it’s well balanced between the bright citrus and floral hop characters and the clean biscuit-malt core. Pleasant accents of orchardand stone-fruits add depth to the nose and mouth, combining harmoniously with the orange, grass and herbal hop tones. It’s a little more than light in body, though not much, with crisp carbonation and a dry, subtly spiced finish. abv: 5.5% Price: $11/12 oz 6 pack

20

90

Schlafly Black IPA (American-style Black Ale; The Saint Louis Brewery, MO). Part of the Hop Allocation Series, this beer pours a dark brown, almost black color, with a thick tan head that leaves nice lacing behind. It showcases a beautiful balance between the rich, roasty, chocolaty malt characteristics and the fruity, spicy, piny hop profile. The mouthfeel is creamy, slightly chewy and slick, with plush malt flavors that give way to lingering bitterness by way of roasted coffee bean, bitter orange peel and pine resin flavors. abv: 7%

Price: $11/12 oz 6 pack

21

90

Avery Brewing Co. Liliko’i Kepolo (Witbier; Avery Brewing Co., CO). This Belgianstyle wheat ale, sold in cans, is a smooth and fruity selection. It’s brewed with passion fruit, which is certainly a forward characteristic in the beer. It complements the style’s traditional notes of sweet wheat, banana and tropical fruit tones, all dusted by yeasty spice notes for added depth and interest. It’s medium bodied, with ample carbonation and a subtle tart kick on the finish that keeps the palate bright and refreshing. Overall, it’s one of the most flavorful wits you can find. abv: 5.4%

Price: $12/12 oz 6 pack

22

90

Founders PC Pils American Hoppy Pilsner (American Pilsner; Founders Brewing, MI). Made with Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops, this summer-friendly selection—available in bottles and cans—is crisp, clean and so easy to enjoy. It’s a great representation of a classic Pils with an American twist (hops), showcasing the style’s classic clean, malty core with an overlay of vibrant, citrusy

and slightly astringent hop characteristics. Citrus, bread dough, sweet grass, soda cracker and a hint of fresh pine weave throughout the nose and mouth, framed by brisk carbonation and a medium-bodied mouthfeel. The hops take center stage on the finish, expressed in flavors of pine and citrus peel. abv: 5.5% Price: $12/12 oz 6 pack

23

90

Smuttynose Rhye IPA (American IPA; Smuttynose Brewing Company, NH). Smutty’s Rhye IPA is an India pale ale brewed with rye malt. Based off the brewery’s Finestkind IPA, but tweaked to include 30% rye malt, in addition to a few other small changes, it’s a flavorful beer that still manages to show great harmony between the hop, malt and rye characteristics. Spicy notes of black pepper, rye and resinous pine unfold throughout, grounded by a malty core of light caramel and nutty, toasty bread flavors that are smooth and satisfying. A pleasant bitterness and spicy rye character lingers long on the dry finish. abv: 7%

Price: $12/12 oz 6 pack

24

90

Victory Sour Monkey (American Wild Ale; Victory Brewing Company, PA). This bottling is a wild spin on Victory’s Golden Monkey, the brewery’s Belgian-style tripel. A brilliant golden color, it’s a strong and intense brew, leading with scents of fresh citrus, freshly baked bread, dried grass, underripe stone fruit and green apple. There’s a pleasant weight and richness to the smooth palate that’s lifted through the close by bright, lactic acidity. Aside for the mouthfeel, the alcohol is wellintegrated and balanced, while light carbonation assists in lifting the stone-fruit and citrus flavors and carrying them through to the dry, herbal finish. abv: 9.5% Price: $12/12 oz 6 pack

25

90

Coronado Brewing Co. Stingray IPA Imperial India Pale Ale (American Double/Imperial IPA; Coronado Brewing Co., CA). Brewed with Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe and Southern Cross hops, this canned DIPA pours a gorgeous golden color and shines with intense aromas of fresh citrus, pineapple, tropical fruit and cut grass. Herbal and floral hop tones override the nose, while the palate offers a rich caramel-malt spine to ground the hoppy bitterness through the slightly sticky finish. It’s smooth and creamy in texture, though ample carbonation keeps the mouthfeel balanced and drinkable, with final hits of grapefruit feel and hop resin on the close. abv: 7.9% Price: $14/12 oz 6 pack


BY

102 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


A regional guide to best-in-class bottles from Scandinavia and beyond. BY

KARA NEWMAN

PHOTOS BY

I

AARON GRAUBART

n the food world, “New Nordic” cuisine has drawn heightened attention as taste-seekers flock to restaurants in Copenhagen, Stockholm and other Northern European cities. The category has proven its place in the drink world, too. In particular, bartenders have been experimenting with aquavit, the Scandinavian spirit flavored distinc-

tively with caraway, citrus and spice. Crisp vodka has also been a primary export, thanks to natural glaciers

and pure, clean water, evidenced by brands like Reyka, Absolut, Purity and Karlsson’s. And liqueurs flavored with

local cherries or the salty licorice known as salmiakki are finding their way into glasses, as well. Thirsty for more? Here are six spirits from around the Nordic region to try right now, teamed with cocktail recipes that showcase their unique characteristics. WINEMAG.COM | 103


DENMARK

Heering Cherry Liqueur The smallest Nordic country features plenty of farmland and orchards, where a particularly aromatic variety of cherries grow. These cherries are crushed, distilled and aged in oak for up to five years, which yields a sweet-tart, ruby-red liqueur. Created by Danish merchant Peter Heering in 1818, this cherry liqueur adds depth to cocktails from the Blood & Sand to the Singapore Sling.

Remember the Danes Courtesy Peder Schweigert, general manager, Marvel Bar, Minneapolis This warming riff on the classic Remember the Maine cocktail offers pleasing hints of cherry and almond from Heering Cherry Liqueur. Schweigert recommends the rich, spicy notes of Punt e Mes to complement the Heering, or you can substitute your favorite sweet vermouth. 2

ounces American whiskey

¾ ounce Carpano Punt e Mes ¼

ounce Heering Cherry Liqueur

1 3

teaspoon St. George Absinthe

/

Combine all ingredients in stemless wine glass. Stir together with ice.

104 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


Gefion Courtesy Selma Slabiak, created for The Edda Bar at Aska, Brooklyn, NY This Old Fashioned-style drink starts with rye whiskey enriched with Linie Aquavit. Both of these grain-based spirits owe a debt to this drink’s namesake, Gefion, the Norse goddess associated with plowing fields. 1

ounce rye whiskey

½

ounce Linie Aquavit

¼

ounce Amaro Montenegro

1

teaspoon honey syrup (2 parts honey to 1 part hot water)

1

dash Angostura Bitters

NORWAY

Linie Aquavit Traditionally, aquavit is a crisp white spirit flavored with herbs and spices like caraway, anise or dill. In some ways, it’s similar to gin or flavored vodka.

Sparkling wine Nasturtium leaves (or other edible leaves or leafy herbs) for garnish, optional

But Linie is unique: Stored in former Sherry casks, this aquavit takes a sea voyage to Australia and back, crossing the equator, or “linie,” twice. The result is a bright buttercup hue and mellow vanilla, spearmint, clove and oak tones, plus a silky butterscotch finish.

In mixing glass filled with ice, combine first five ingredients. Stir, and strain into a coupe glass. Top with a splash of sparkling wine. Garnish with nasturtium leaves floated atop the drink.


FINLAND

Finlandia Vodka With Russia to the east, the most sparsely populated of the Nordic countries has plenty of lakes and glacial spring water— ideal conditions to make vodka. Finlandia, one of the first imported vodkas sold in the U.S., is made from a base of Finnish six-row barley, which has particularly low fatty oil content. The end result is bracing and crisp, with plenty of ginger, coriander and white pepper spice, and a slightly citrusy finish.

Teurastamo V&T Adapted from Timo Siitonen, owner, A21 Decades, Helsinki, Finland Originally conceived by Timo Siitonen, founder of famed Helsinki bar A21 Decades, as a modern gin and tonic, we’ve adapted this slightly to feature vodka. His version is made with tart lingonberries, which grow plentifully in the Scandinavian countries. If you can’t find them, use fresh or frozen cranberries left over from holiday festivities. 1½ ounces Finlandia Vodka 1

tablespoon lingonberries (or cranberries)

1

slice pink grapefruit

Tonic water

Fill Collins glass with ice. Add berries and grapefruit on top. Measure vodka and pour into glass. Top with tonic, and stir to mix. Serve with straw.

106 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


SWEDEN

Spirit of Hven Tycho’s Star Single Malt Whisky It tastes like an extremely light Scotch, but it’s a Swedish single malt named for Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe and the supernova he discovered in 1572. The whisky is produced on Hven (or Ven), a tiny island located between Denmark and Sweden accessible only by boat. In Brahe’s time, it was under Danish rule, though it’s now part of Sweden. The whisky is made from 100-percent barley, but using grains that have been processed three ways: a deep-roasted “chocolate malt” that provides vanilla-cocoa notes, lighter pale-ale malt and a heavily peated malt, which offers a wisp of smoke.

Northern Sazerac Courtesy Chad Walsh, beverage director, Agern, New York City At Agern, owned by Claus Meyer, co-founder of Copenhagen’s Noma, the food and drinks typically focus on contemporary Scandinavian fare made with local ingredients and spirits. Usually, this drink features Roknar, a Minnesota-made rye whiskey, but the light vanilla-and-spice notes of Tycho’s Star are swapped in here to create a complex sipper. ¼

ounce absinthe (to coat glass)

2

ounces Spirit of Hven Tycho’s Star Single Malt Whisky

¼

ounce simple syrup

3

dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Lemon peel, for garnish

Spritz inside of chilled rocks glass with absinthe (or gently roll absinthe to coat the inside of glass and pour out excess). In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine whisky, simple syrup and bitters. Stir, then strain into prepared glass over a large cube of ice. Garnish with lemon peel. 108 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


SPECIAL PROMOTION

What’s in a Name?

Respect For the Past With an Eye Toward the Future

T

he name of a wine is much more than an assortment of letters you see on the label. It’s the emblem for everything that goes into producing each bottle—the continuity and evolution that links yesterday, today, and tomorrow, like the generations of       planted in the historic soil of Rioja Alta, it is a name that also represents the deep care and expertise that have ushered these wines forward to an even better future.

Behind Loriùón stands another name you should know: Miguel à ngel Rodríguez, the owner and winemaker of Bodegas Vinícola Real. For more than a quar ter-centur y, Miguel à ngel has specialized in producing estate wines of extraordinary character. His work begins in the vineyard, near the small village of Albelda de Iregua, where the yields are kept low, no chemicals are

used, and the grapes are closely monitored and selec ted by hand. The fine quality of Vinícola Real’s signature wine, 20 0 Monges, direc tly reflec ts the attention Miguel à ngel gives to each vintage. Named for the monks who once inhabited the town’s medieval monastery, 200 Monges is not driven by trends; these are smallproduc tion wines rooted in a respec t for the land and expressive of Rioja’s unique terroir. In other words, pure elegance in a bottle. Now, Miguel à ngel has brought that same passion, commitment, and expertise to Loriùón, where he is creating wines with a personality all their own. Made with grapes grown in the cool, high-altitude vineyards of Albelda de Iregua, Badarån, and Caùas, his Loriùón wines are graceful yet accessible, and available to be enjoyed beyond Rioja’s borders. Loriùón and 20 0 Monges: Names wor th remembering.

History in a Bottle Vinícola Real offers American wine connoisseurs a rare opportunity: the chance to acquire prestigious older bottlings that have been set aside exclusively for the US market. Representing one of the most spectacular vintages in Rioja’s history, the 2001 Gran Reserva from 200 Monges is the kind of wine that rarely makes it to our shores. And the winery’s 10th anniversary set doubles as a time capsule. Inside the elegant wooden box are the 1994    the 2004 Reserva—marking a decade of extraordinary winemaking. To enjoy these historic bottles, contact RD Premium Drinks Consulting at info@rdpremiumdrinks.com.


ICELAND

Salmiakki Dala Produced in Iceland, this liqueur channels the mouthwatering flavor of salmiakki, a salty black licorice candy with a bitter finish. It’s made with 10 botanicals, including licorice root, saffron, anise and chicory. Salmiakki-flavored liqueurs are popular throughout Scandinavia (some people infuse aquavit or vodka with a few pieces of candy), but they’re not often seen in the U.S. This version was formulated by the folks behind Bittermens bitters, and it’s marketed as a “Scandinavian fernet.”

Reverie Courtesy Chazz Madrigal, beverage director, Lafitte’s at The Waiting Room, Portland, OR In addition to the pungency of Salmiakki Dala, the other secret ingredient here is a wine-infused salt made by Oregon producer Jacobsen Salt Co. in collaboration with Willamette Valley’s Grochau Cellars. The salt can be purchased online, but you can also substitute unflavored salt. 1½ ounces Tennessee whiskey 1

ounce sweet vermouth

¼

ounce Salmiakki Dala

1

teaspoon Benedictine

¹/8

teaspoon Pinot Noir salt

Brandied cherry, for garnish

In a mixing glass, stir together all ingredients except garnish with ice. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with brandied cherry speared on a pick.

110 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


THE

CURATED WEDDING GIFT REGISTRY FOR WINE, SPIRITS & DRINKWARE

DISCOVER MORE AT THIRSTYNEST.COM ThirstyNest is a Wine Enthusiast Company.


ICELAND

Stone Crush

Also produced in Iceland, caraway-

Courtesy Chaim Dauermann, head bartender, The Up & Up, New York City

Brennivín Aquavit accented aquavit is particularly embraced in the country, where it’s the national drink. This bottling, playfully dubbed “the black death” due to its austere ebony label (and perhaps an aquavit-induced hangover or two), is nuanced and refreshing, with a mild, savory scent that suggests dill, fennel seed and pine. It’s ideal to pair with herring or

The Up & Up was one of the first bars in the U.S. to carry Brennivín, and it continues to showcase the spirit in a wide range of drinks like this one. Cucumber and a hoppy Pilsner pleasingly accent the herbaceousness of the aquavit.

other savory bites. 3–4

slices cucumber, plus additional slices for garnish

ounces Brennivín aquavit

½

ounce Dolin Blanc Vermouth

¼

ounce Rabarbaro Zucca amaro

1

ounce Stiegl Goldbräu Pilsner

1

piece lemon peel

In mixing glass, muddle cucumber slices into juicy pulp. Add next three ingredients and ice. Stir well. Add the beer. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Twist lemon peel over the drink to express its oils, then discard. Garnish with remaining cucumber slices.

112 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


CUVÉE ALPHA - DELICATE, PRECISION ARTWORK BY CHAMPAGNE JACQUART Available soon in the US in limited quantities. Be certain to reserve yours now! For more information, please contact info@preston-layne.com


THE RISE OF NEW

German Cuisine BY

ANNA LEE C. IIJIMA P H OTO S B Y

SANG AN

FOOD AND PROP STYLING BY FRANCES BOSWELL

Global influence and bright, fresh flavors make for deliciously modern takes on classic dishes.


G

erman cuisine in North America has always been encapsulated in a certain caricature: kitschy beer halls with dirndl-clad servers; platters of sausages and schnitzel alongside boot-shaped steins of beer. While traditional comfort foods and smoked or cured pork, game or beef will always be present in German cuisine, they’re not representative of the country’s contemporary culinary scene. In its homeland, German fare is quite diverse, and in recent years, chefs have been embracing traditional ingredients with fresher and more cosmopolitan strokes. “German cuisine is intensely seasonal and ingredient-driven,” says Jeremy Nolen, chef at Brauhaus Schmitz in Philadelphia. David Mueller, co-executive chef at Bauhaus Restaurant in Vancouver, agrees. “Germany is such a regionally diverse country, relying on a bounty of beautiful, fresh local products from its farms, forests and waters.” In Europe, only France and Italy boast more Michelin-starred restaurants than Germany. Now, establishments like Bauhaus and Brauhaus Schmitz are bringing haute German cuisine to our shores. “German food has become so creative and multicultural,” says Tim Schulte, co-executive chef at Bauhaus Restaurant. “It’s hard to say what is German anymore.” The recipes that follow are inspired by both Bauhaus and Brauhaus Schmitz, streamlined for the home cook.


Matjes, Green Apple & Celery Salad with Pumpernickel Matjes are young herring preserved in a piquant brine of vinegar, sugar and spices. This recipe features herring brined for two days. Easy to make and surprisingly delicate, it’s more reminiscent of sashimi than commercially pickled herring. Here, it’s served alongside vivid green accents of apple, celery and tarragon that reflect Vancouver’s treasure trove of produce. Courtesy Tim Schulte and David Mueller, co-executive chefs, Bauhaus Restaurant, Vancouver, BC 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons lemon oil (or additional extra-virgin olive oil) Juice of ½ lemon Salt and pepper, to taste Sugar, to taste 2 slices pumpernickel, cut into ¼-inch dice 2 teaspoons canola oil 1

head frisée, separated into bitesized pieces

1

green apple, sliced ¹/8-inch thick

3 stalks celery, sliced diagonally ¹/8-inch thick 1

bunch chives

Matjes* Tarragon Emulsion**

Whisk olive and lemon oils with lemon juice. Add salt, pepper and sugar, to taste. Set aside. Heat oven to 350˚F. Toss pumpernickel cubes with canola oil to coat. Bake for 5 minutes, or until crispy. Toss frisee with vinaigrette. Divide among four plates. Arrange apples, celery and chives on plates. Top with pumpernickel cubes, matjes and tarragon emulsion. Serves 4.

116 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

*Matjes 1¾ 1 ¾ ½

pounds raw herring or sardine fillets cup white wine vinegar cup white wine cup sugar

1

teaspoon mustard seeds

1

teaspoon peppercorns

3

bay leaves

1

large white onion, thinly sliced

Remove any bones from fish, using tweezers, if necessary. In medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except onion. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove brine from heat, cool and chill in refrigerator. In ceramic or glass container, stack alternating layers of herring and onion slices. Pour chilled brine over each layer. Allow herring to cure in refrigerator for 2 days before serving.

**Tarragon Emulsion 2 cups olive oil 2 egg yolks, preferably organic 1

heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard

1

tablespoon white vinegar

Juice of ½ lemon Salt, to taste ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves

In bowl, whisk egg yolks with mustard. Add half of olive oil in slow, steady stream while whisking constantly, until emulsified. Add vinegar to loosen mixture. Continue to whisk, and slowly add remaining oil. Whisk in lemon juice and add salt, to taste. Finish with tarragon.

WINE PAIRING Kruger-Rumpf 2015 Pittersberg Grosses Gewächs Riesling (Nahe) Daniel Klintworth, general manager of Bauhaus, suggests this medium-bodied, dry Riesling. With hints of apricots and a bone-dry finish, it can stand up to the bold flavors of cured herring without overpowering its delicate nuances.


WINE PAIRING Dönnhoff 2016 S Weissburgunder (Nahe) Delicate spice notes in this dry, crisp Pinot Blanc lend contrast to this rich, creamy soup with chive and spinach accents, says Daniel Klintworth, general manager of Bauhaus.

Cold Potato-Leek Soup with Cured Salmon and Pickled Vegetables “When I create a dish, I always want it a little sweet, a little acidic, a little bitter and with a little crunch,” says Chef Schulte at Bauhaus. Here, potatoes, leeks, spinach and chives are puréed into a velvety soup with those pops of flavor and texture. Garnishes like cured salmon, pickled vegetables and potato crumble are easy to prepare (visit winemag. Courtesy Tim Schulte and David Mueller, com/germancuisine for the co-executive chefs, Bauhaus Restaurant, recipes), but you can skip Vancouver, BC them or substitute store5 tablespoons butter bought gravlax and crumbled kettle6 leeks, thinly sliced style potato chips. 5 shallots, thinly sliced 2

large white potatoes, preferably Kennebec, peeled and diced

cups vegetable stock

cups cream

2

tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1

bay leaf

4

cups spinach, roughly chopped

2

cups chives, roughly chopped

Nutmeg, to taste Salt, to taste

In large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add leeks, shallots and potatoes, and cook until softened slightly. Add vegetable stock, cream, thyme and bay leaf. Increase heat to medium-high, and simmer until potatoes are fork tender. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf, and add spinach and chives. Using an immersion blender (or regular blender, working in batches), purée until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Season with nutmeg and salt, to taste. Cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until chilled. Serve chilled soup in bowls, topped with desired garnishes (see below). Serves 4. Garnish options:

Cured salmon Pickled vegetables Potato crumbles Chive oil or extra-virgin olive oil Dill frond or chive, cut into 1-inch spears Trout roe


Duck Legs with Roasted Vegetables and Pomegranate Jus

“If you browse through old German cookbooks, you’ll discover the seemingly non-Germanic combination of pomegranate seeds and duck,” says Jeremy Nolen in New German Cooking, the cookbook he wrote with his wife, Jessica. Here, pomegranate and orange juice offer counterpoints of acidity and sweetness to heartier flavors of duck and roasted root vegetables. Maggi sauce, an umami-rich seasoning similar to soy sauce, was first marketed in Germany in the late 1800s, but it’s better known today in Asian and Latin American cuisines.

Adapted from New German Cooking (Chronicle Books, 2015), by Jeremy and Jessica Nolen 4 duck legs 2 turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes 2 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes 1

yellow onion, cut into 1-inch cubes

4 springs fresh tarragon Kosher salt Fresh-ground pepper 16 ounces pomegranate juice 2 tablespoons Maggi seasoning sauce ¼ teaspoon allspice 1

tablespoon red wine vinegar

Juice of 2 oranges 1

WINE PAIRING

tablespoon peeled and finely minced fresh ginger

Heat oven to 400˚F. In small roasting pan on stove over medium-high heat, sear duck legs, skin-side down, until skin turns golden brown, about 6 minutes. Turn duck legs over and cook 5 minutes more. Remove pan from heat. With slotted spoon, transfer duck legs to plate. Add turnips, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and onion to roasting pan, and stir to mix with fat. Place tarragon sprigs on top of vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Place duck legs, skin-side up, over vegetables. Place pan in oven. Roast duck legs, turning vegetables occasionally, until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of leg away from bone registers 165˚F, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, combine pomegranate juice, Maggi sauce, allspice, vinegar, orange juice and ginger in small saucepan set over high heat. Bring to boil, then lower heat to medium and cook until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Transfer duck legs and vegetables to plate or platter with jus. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Rudolf Fürst 2015 Klingenberger Schlossberg Spätburgunder (Franken) Bold black fruit, elegant bramble tones, bristling acidity and fine tannins harmonize beautifully with both sweet and gamy elements of this dish.

WINEMAG.COM | 119


Apple Strudel Mille-Feuille Bauhaus deconstructs a classic German apple strudel into a delicate, easy-to-assemble mille-feuille. At the restaurant, puff pastry and vanilla ice cream are made in-house, and the finished dessert is served with shavings of dried tonka bean, an aromatic legume that lends exotic whiffs of vanilla, dried fruits and cinnamon. Using store-bought ice cream and frozen puff pastry, this makes an impressive but quick dessert at home. Courtesy Tim Schulte and David Mueller, coexecutive chefs, Bauhaus Restaurant, Vancouver, BC 1

package frozen puff pastry, defrosted

2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch cubes ¼ cup sugar Juice of 1 lemon 1

tablespoon rum

½ cup raisins 1

vanilla bean, split and scraped

¾ cup roasted walnuts Ground cinnamon, to taste Powdered sugar, to taste Vanilla ice cream

Heat oven to 350˚F. On baking pan lined with parchment paper, unfold puff pastry sheets and cover each with second layer of parchment. Place additional baking pan on top to prevent pastry from rising. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until browned. Let cool. Using a sharp knife, cut 8 squares or circles 3 inches in diameter. Reduce oven heat to 325˚F. In a large bowl, combine apples, sugar, lemon juice, rum, raisins, vanilla bean scrapings, walnuts and cinnamon. Spread mixture on separate sheet tray and bake for 10–15 minutes, or until apples soften. Let cool to room temperature. Place 1–2 spoonfuls of apple mixture on top of 4 pastry pieces. Top each with second layer of pastry. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve with ice cream. Serves 4.

120 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017


Bauhaus Restaurant, Vancouver, British Columbia Owned by filmmaker Uwe Boll, Bauhaus epitomizes modern German cuisine in North America. The menu, crafted by Co-Executive Chefs Tim Schulte and David Mueller, is nuanced and textural, deconstructing and reintroducing the standards. It showcases Vancouver’s bounty of fresh seafood, meats and seasonal produce from small, often family-owned farms.

Jeremy Nolen, chef at Brauhaus Schmitz in Philadelphia and co-author of New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited (Chronicle Books, 2015)

WINE PAIRING Selbach-Oster 2015 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese (Mosel) For this sweetly spiced dessert, Klintworth recommends this late-harvest Riesling from the Mosel. With beautiful honey and dried apricot notes, and a refreshingly acidic finish, it’s “a master piece of German sweet wine,” he says.

Brauhaus Schmitz is a popular German beer hall in Philadelphia’s South Street neighborhood. Beyond house-made brats and an extensive beer list, Nolen’s cooking emphasizes seasonal vegetables, herbs and whole grains. “It’s the way we personally like to eat,” says Nolen. The menu keeps traditional flavors intact, but presents them in a fresher and cleaner way. Nolen’s cookbook, New German Cooking, released in 2015, reinterprets those ideas into family-friendly recipes.

WINEMAG.COM | 121


TH

18 ANNUAL WINE STAR AWARDS JANUARY 29, 2018 Wine Enthusiast’s Annual Wine Star Awards Gala Honoring Luminaries of the Wine & Beverage World

WINE EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR

AMERICAN WINE PIONEER

WINEMAKER OF THE YEAR

SOMMELIER OF THE YEAR

Roger Nabedian

Nicolaus “Nicky” Hahn

Christophe Baron

Chris Tanghe, MS

Vigneron

Chief Instructor

Founder

Cayuse Vineyards

Guild of Sommeliers

Senior Vice President & General Manager Premium Wine Division E. & J. Gallo Winery

Hahn Family Wines

WINE REGION OF THE YEAR

SPIRIT BRAND OF THE YEAR

MIXOLOGIST OF THE YEAR

BREWERY OF THE YEAR

Southwest France

Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal

Sother Teague

Founders Brewing Co.

Ron Cooper

Co-Owner, Coup Beverage Director

Founder

Amor y Amargo

Grand Rapids, Michigan


Master of Ceremonies

Adam Strum PERSON OF THE YEAR

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

Jim Clerkin

Bob & Roger Trinchero

President & CEO

Chairman Emeritus Chairman of the Board

Möet Hennessy North America

Trinchero Family Estates

JANUARY 29, 2018 NOBU EDEN ROC 4525 COLLINS AVENUE MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA 33140

Reception: 6:00–7:00 PM Dinner & Awards: 7:00–11:00 PM IMPORTER OF THE YEAR

RETAILER OF THE YEAR

INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR

Vintus Wines

Safeway, Inc.

Bruce Hunter

Michael Quinttus

Managing Director

President, CEO

Shaw-Ross International Importers

Featuring Cuisine by Nobu Miami Restaurant

Individual Tickets

$1,650

Table of 10

$15,000

Table of 12

$17,000

BLACK TIE EVENT SPACE IS VERY LIMITED

Wine Enthusiast Companies will donate a portion of the proceeds from this year’s event to benefit Rebuild Wine Country, a Habitat for Humanity partner dedicated to rebuilding homes for owners and renters most in need following the wildfires in Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Lake and Mendocino Counties.

AMERICAN WINERY OF THE YEAR

EUROPEAN WINERY OF THE YEAR

Kendall-Jackson Winery

Fontanafredda

Vasse Felix

Piedmont, Italy

Margaret River, Australia

Santa Rosa, California

NEW WORLD WINERY OF THE YEAR

RSVP by December 1, 2017 to Jen Cortellini, Manager, Special Projects & Events at jcortellini@wineenthusiast.net

For more details visit WineMag.com


WINE ENTHUSIAST

Wine Star Awards

2017

BY THE EDITORS OF WINE ENTHUSIAST

E

ighteen years ago, the editors of Wine Enthusiast conceived an annual awards program to celebrate individuals and companies that have contributed significantly to the success of the wine industry. As the scope of wine culture and business has evolved, so too have our awards. Today, we honor industry game-changers from all facets and in all categories of beverage industries, from winemakers to CEOs, mixologists and sommeliers to brewers and marketing directors. All of the winners represent the current culture of wine, beer and spirits, and are linked by their fearless passion for change, business acumen and savvy for anticipating what’s next in the world of wine and beyond. These winners are the drivers for what’s in your glass every day. We invite you to turn the page and get to know the bright stars of 2017 whose work is changing the drinking world for the better.

WI N EMA G .COM | 125


2017

JIM CLERKIN

PERSON OF THE YEAR

The head of Moët Hennessy North America is a humble force of growth and change across the wine and spirits industry, and beyond.

S

ome individuals who achieve tremendous success in their professional lives develop egos just as prodigious. Jim Clerkin has never fallen into that trap. For him, humility, grace and goodwill have always been paramount. Clerkin is not just president and CEO of Moët Hennessy North America. He also devotes his energy to a multitude of professional and charitable organizations, mentors many employees and youth, and is always generous with his time. “Jim Clerkin has made an indelible mark on the wine and spirits industry,” says Wayne Chaplin, president and CEO of Southern Wine & Spirits, who was Wine Enthusiast’s Person of the Year in 2016. “His success can not only be attributed to his great talent and leadership, but also to his integrity, humility and commitment to helping everyone he works with reach their full potential. I consider it a great pleasure and honor to get to work with him and his team.” Arguably, the best trait of a leader is embracing teamwork. This is a concept that Clerkin may take to the extreme. When informed by Wine Enthusiast that he’d be honored as its 2017 Person of the Year, Clerkin dished off credit deftly. “What an extraordinary honor this is,” says Clerkin. “There’s no chance I’d get that consideration without the great people I work with. I also feel very fortunate to represent some of the most iconic brands in the world. I truly see my role as being a caretaker, to protect the heritage and honor the pioneering spirit, and ensuring I leave them in a better place than I found them.” That won’t be a problem. Clerkin oversees a staff of 377 people. He’s running the North American region for iconic global brands like Champagnes Dom Pérignon, Krug, Moët & Chandon, Ruinart and Veuve Clicquot; Hennessy Cognac; Scotch whiskies Ardbeg and Glenmorangie;

126 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Belvedere vodka and more. Also included in the prestigious portfolio are wineries like Cloudy Bay, Domaine Chandon and Newton Vineyard. Recent expansion has added superpremium spirits Tequila Volcán De Mi Tierra, as well as newcomer Woodinville Whiskey Company, acquired in July. Clerkin was born in 1954 on a farm in the village of Rostrevor, in County Down, Northern Ireland. The oldest of nine children, Clerkin learned the value of family, friendship and hard work from an early age. “My parents taught me that family really matters most of all,” he says. “I like to think I’m a great team player, and that I motivate very different people with very different styles to come together and harness energy as one team for a common goal. At Moët Hennessy, we continuously cultivate diversity and inclusive engagement through education, exposure and experiences.” He credits his father as his first and most important mentor. As someone who appreciated Hennessy, and enjoyed it mixed with ginger ale and a single ice cube, Jim learned from him about the history of the Hennessy family, who left Cork in the mid-1700s to seek their fortunes overseas. In 2015, Hennessy celebrated its 250th anniversary. “A great milestone,” says Clerkin. “The brand has doubled its sales in the past five years. Last year, Hennessy VS crossed the three-million-cases mark and still grew 20 percent, a record for the brand. And not just VS, but VSOP, Hennessy Black and XO are also performing very well.” Clerkin began his career with Guinness in 1976. He advanced quickly, joining its board of directors at age 36. In 1994, Grand Metropolitan recruited Clerkin to lead its wines and spirits division in Ireland. Three years later, the company merged with Guinness to form Diageo, and he was promoted to executive vice president as well as

president of its Western U.S. wine and spirits division. In 2003, he joined Allied Domecq as president for North America and Canada, and after its acquisition by Pernod Ricard and Jim Beam, he was appointed CEO of The Jim Beam Company for Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Moët Hennessy (the wine, Champagne and spirits division of LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton) named Clerkin its executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2008. Shortly after, he became CEO and president of Moët Hennessy USA. Most recently, Clerkin’s responsibilities expanded to include Mexico and Canada. Clerkin takes much pride in the success of his staff, where the departments work alongside dedicated teams for areas such as business intelligence, digital, new business and strategic marketing. While respecting the history and tradition of their brands, Moët Hennessy’s Champagne houses continue to strive for innovation, seizing creative opportunities to further the art of winemaking. Recent innovations include Moët Ice Impérial, the first Champagne designed to be poured over ice, and a Clicquot line extension called Rich, designed to be served like a cocktail. “We’ve made Champagne less formal and more approachable and, as a consequence, we are growing in a steady, longer-term fashion.” he says. Competition from other sparkling wines has increased in recent years, notably Prosecco. Clerkin embraces the challenge. “I take my hat off to competitors who have been innovative with packaging,” he says. “We see everybody, at any price point, as competitors. I would argue that this has inspired us to work harder at growing Champagne. “I will take some credit, with my team, to talk about Chandon. This year we will sell six million bottles for the first time ever in America. A lot has to do with one-off special editions


ERIK GUZOWSKI

that have been remarkably successful. And I am excited for what will be coming in 2018.” According to LVMH interim financial reports, highlights for the first half of 2017 include their Champagne sales volume up eight percent and a “very good first half” for Hennessy, “driven in particular by United States, where demand continued to rise.” Overall, global profits in Wines & Spirits were up 21 percent and revenues were up 12 percent, with Europe and the United States particularly dynamic regions. Clerkin also finds time to serve on several industry groups. Notably, he’s chairman of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). “Jim Clerkin is a key leader in our sector promoting modernization, innovation and social responsibility,” says Kraig R. Naasz, president and CEO of DISCUS. “Jim has helped guide us at the Distilled Spirits Council as our chair and active member of the board, where he has presided over an extended period of growth in market share and several significant public policy victories.” The UJA-Federation of New York’s Wine & Spirits Division bestowed upon Clerkin its Samuel Bronfman Memorial Award after he helped raise a record-breaking $775,000 for the organization. He supported the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., where Hennessy, Belvedere and Moët & Chandon were featured and served. A U.S. citizen, he retains a connection to his roots. Clerkin is involved in organizations like Irish America, Northern Ireland Connection and Co-operation Ireland, a nonprofit that promotes peace and a sustained reconciliation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which he serves as chairman. Clerkin’s focus there, as in much of his charity work, is on youth leadership programs. It’s a way to pay back mentors like his father that helped pave his way. He’s also a board member at the Royal Academy America, a nonprofit that promotes the arts, as well as a supporter of the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City. For his vast contributions to the wine and spirits industry, as well as his philanthropy, generosity and character, Wine Enthusiast is proud to honor Jim Clerkin as its 2017 Person of the Year. —Paul Gregutt

WINEMAG.COM | 127


2017

BOB AND ROGER TRINCHERO LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Brothers and leaders for whom consumers and employees come first.

L

ouis “Bob” Trinchero and Roger Trinchero are well known and respected in the wine business for their giant California wine brands that include Ménage à Trois and Sutter Home. However, they’re perhaps even more respected by their employees and community members, a tribute that stems from lessons learned long before their family winery hit the big time. Bob and Roger were children in 1947 when their father and uncle bought the Sutter Home winery in St. Helena, California, and moved the family from New York City to Napa Valley. Bob, 10 years older than Roger, became involved immediately in winemaking at the most basic level. Roger and their sister, Vera Trinchero Torres, would follow into family business when they were old enough. Located on Main Street in St. Helena, Sutter Home was a small operation at the outset. In those early days, it sold 65 percent of its production direct to locals and passersby. That hands-on experience inspired the brothers later to take care of their employees as if they were family members. “Since Roger and I and the family have worn all the hats, we were appreciative of our employees who were doing the work we once did,” says Bob. “We thought to ourselves if they are going to dedicate 20 or 30 years of their lives to our family, we should treat them right.” The family instituted a profit-sharing program for employees many years ago. “Today we have one of the best 401(k) plans in the industry, and we continue to contribute to the plan,” says Roger, the chairman of the board for the wholly owned and operated family company, Trinchero Family Estates (TFE). Bob serves as chairman emeritus. Not only do the brothers invest in their employees, but they’re also extremely active in supporting their local communities. TFE created a Family in Need Fund that uses revenue from recycling efforts to help employees with unexpected crises like the Lake County wildfire in 2015. OLE Health, a community clinic in Napa, has received $2 million from the family.

128 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Bob and Roger Trinchero

“The Trinchero family’s wineries are places everyone wants to work,” says California State Representative Mike Thompson, whose U.S. Congressional district includes Napa Valley. “They treat their employees like family, and their generosity to our community is second to none. Bob and Roger embody an incredible sense of loyalty, respect and ethics, and they’ve made it part of their business plan.” Bob became winemaker in 1958, while beginning in the 1980s, Roger developed a worldclass sales and marketing team and established national distribution for fast-growing Sutter Home White Zinfandel. The winery became America’s leading varietal wine producer. Bob and his winemaking team mastered production and quality control on a massive scale. At the same time, Roger and his staff introduced a series of breakthrough packaging innovations and marketing programs that included single-serve varietals, a non-cork closure and award-winning advertising and promotions. Today, TFE has 8,000 acres of vineyards and produces 17 million cases across 44 American brands like Trinchero Napa Valley, Napa Cellars, Terra d’Oro and Trinity Oaks. The com-

pany also markets numerous domestic brands that include Joel Gott Wines and Charles & Charles, imports wines from Australia and Chile, and has a growing spirits portfolio. Despite all that branding and sales success, Roger says, “What Bob and I take the most pride in is that we’ve been able to recognize talent and hire it.” Bob and Roger also take pride that they’ve provided consumers with high-quality, reasonably priced wines for their entire careers. They never thought they should dictate what people should drink, but as Roger says, “We always tried to see where the market was going, and make available to the consumer regardless of their taste, something that they will enjoy.” A perfect example of this was the accidental invention of a pink, lightly sweet Zinfandel. “We made this wine, and all of a sudden everyone wanted it, so we made more,” says Bob simply. By always being able to serve such needs and meet many other challenges, these brothers played a critical role in the transformation of America into the world’s biggest wineconsuming country. —Jim Gordon


2017

NICOLAUS ‘NICKY’ HAHN AMERICAN WINE PIONEER

A visionary who elevated Monterey County wine to new heights.

W

hen Nicolaus “Nicky” Hahn bought Smith & Hook Vineyard in California’s Monterey County almost 40 years ago, the region’s reputation for wine was in the dregs. “There I was at almost age 50 and had no clue what the industry was about—I’d never sold a bottle of wine in my life,” says Hahn, who was told categorically by international distributors that Monterey would never excel in wine. “The reputation was such that somebody had to do something about it.” He quickly worked to reset the narrative, most critically with the creation of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation in 1991. “Thirty years later, we are recognized as one of the great growing regions,” says Hahn, whose Hahn Family Wines now produces more than 400,000 cases annually and distributes to all 50 states and 20 countries. “Depending on the context, you can place my name up with Piero Antinori. Who would ever have thought that was feasible? I think I am correct in calling myself the black swan of the American wine industry.” Hahn’s early life reads like a midcentury novel. His father was a Jewish banker in Frankfurt, Germany, and they fled the Nazis to Switzerland, where Nicky was born in 1936. From there, it was on to England (where he remembers air raid drills), Spain, Portugal, Cuba (by banana boat) and Los Angeles. He then attended boarding school back in Switzerland, before heading to university in Munich to study economics like his father. Then came brokerage jobs in Paris, London and New York City, where Chase Manhattan Bank trained him as a credit analyst. He ventured back to Switzerland, where he started his own firm and took over as chair of Computer Associates, which grew to be one of the largest software firms on the planet. By the late 1970s, Hahn hunted for a legacy project. His dad didn’t drink much, but it was Haut-Brion when he did, and the younger Hahn remembers his own wine epiphany.

130 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

“It was Montrachet, and that’s when I learned that there is more than one way to get into heaven,” he says. His search to own a piece of that heaven led him to Monterey, where in 1979, he bought Smith & Hook Vineyard as it slipped toward foreclosure. “It was a mistake,” says Hahn. “It was the beginning of a whole bunch of headaches, and I had to work my way through them.” He learned that much of Monterey was planted to varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon that made no sense for its chilly, windy climate. Much appeared to be planted as tax write-offs. “If you have the wrong varietal, in the wrong place, planted for the wrong reasons, you’ve got a problem on your hands,” says Hahn. So with moral support from the late Rick Smith and a few other vintners, Hahn spearheaded the late-1980s push to establish the Santa Lucia Highlands as a cool-climate region perfect for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

“Then things started to look up, because we didn’t have to fight a reputation that was, by the way, totally deserved,” says Hahn. The appellation is now home to iconic sites like Pisoni Vineyard, Garys’ Vineyard and Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. Hahn, however, was late to re-plant his Cab-dominated property to Pinot Noir. He undertook that in the early 2000s, when they began ripping out 650 acres of the Santa Lucia Highlands property and planted most to the Burgundian variety. “We did everything to make my piggy bank squeaky, and now we are known as a Pinot house,” says Hahn, who sells his topend wines under the Lucienne brand. He rebuilt Smith & Hook into a regionally sourced, affordable Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blend powerhouse, now up to about 70,000 annual cases. “That’s the nearest we have to a dream wine,” says Hahn. Experimentation and replanting projects continue, including recent tests of massal clonal field blends, and Hahn’s acreage has grown to more than 1,100 around the Central Coast. He was also an early adopter of the Sustainability in Practice program, which upholds stringent environmental and labor standards. “I’d like to be known as a fair employer, and if you look at our employee list, many of them have been with us forever,” says Hahn. His colleagues are proud of Hahn. “With Nicky’s intellectual and financial capabilities, he could have succeeded at anything he put his mind to,” says Jerry Lohr, founder of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, who was honored by Wine Enthusiast as its American Wine Legend in 2016. “I am so pleased that he decided to focus so much energy on his winery in Monterey, which played an important role in helping to put Monterey wines on the map.” For his countless contributions to Monterey and, by extension, the wine industry as a whole, Wine Enthusiast names Nicolaus “Nicky” Hahn as its 2017 American Wine Pioneer. —Matt Kettmann


2017

CHRISTOPHE BARON WINEMAKER OF THE YEAR

D

o not call Christophe Baron, of Walla Walla Valley’s Cayuse Vineyards, a winemaker. “I cannot stand the word ‘winemaker,’ ” says Baron, his French accent giving the words a distinctive flair. “At Cayuse, there is no winemaker. At Cayuse, there is a vigneron.” In a region where many purchase grapes to make wines, that distinction deserves merit. “Buying grapes, you can get by, but it’s never going to make the best wine in the world,” says Baron, who is as opinionated and outspoken as he is playful. “That’s impossible. You have to tend your own vines. That’s what a vigneron does.” Baron’s roots as a winegrower trace back to the village of Charly-sur-Marn in the Champagne region of France, where his family has tended vineyards since 1677. Rather than follow his father’s footsteps at the fam-

132 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

ily vineyard—“I’m way too independent,” he says—Baron came to the U.S. in 1996 with the goal to plant a vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. On the way, a friend showed him an ancestral riverbed strewn with cobblestone on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley. Reminded of the pudding stones of Châteauneufdu-Pape, Baron changed plans and decided to plant a vineyard in an area where no one had grown wine grapes in generations. “I knew I had something special in front of me,” says Baron. From the start of Cayuse Vineyards, Baron has focused on Syrah, a variety that had been introduced into the Pacific Northwest just 10 years earlier. He then planted a series of vineyards in the region that were devoted largely to craft numerous vineyard-designated Syrahs, a novel concept in the area at the time.

Baron’s success, first at Cayuse Vineyards and with later with other projects that include No Girls, Horsepower Vineyards and, most recently, Hors Catégorie, has been otherworldly. He’s produced more than 50 wines rated at 95 points or above by Wine Enthusiast, including two with 100-point scores. The wines are so successful and so limited (production at Cayuse is a scant 4,500 cases) that there’s a seven-year waiting list to purchase them. “The Cayuse wines are the top of the top in terms of quality,” says Chris Tanghe MS, also honored by Wine Enthusiast this year as its Sommelier of the Year. “As a variety for the state and for the industry, Christophe has brought to the table a specific expression of Syrah. . .The styles [of wines from the area] are texturally very interesting and really not replicated anywhere else on the planet.” Indeed, the earthy, savory, mineral quality that this terroir creates has drawn a rush of growers and winemakers to the area. In 2015, the area was established as its own federally approved winegrowing region, the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater, a subappellation of the Walla Walla Valley. Baron’s wines have not just raised the profile of Northwest Syrah, but helped establish the Walla Walla Valley as a premier winegrowing region. Baron continues to innovate, as he experiments with trellising techniques, row spacing and horse plowing. Most recently, he has begun to explore another region of the Walla Walla Valley near the North Fork of the Walla Walla River with his Hors Catégorie project. The first wine was released this earlier year. “You’ve got to be curious when you’re a vigneron,” says Baron. “It’s very important to take risks.” As much as he may hate the label of “winemaker,” for the many risks taken, the subsequent rewards, and his contributions to the advancement of an entire winegrowing region, Wine Enthusiast names Christophe Baron its Winemaker of the Year. —Sean P. Sullivan

ANDREA JOHNSON

A pioneer grows in the Pacific Northwest.


Congratulations to all the Wine Star Award Winners “It all began with a humble dream in 1948. Seventy years later, our diverse portfolio  

           

! "# $ %&'( %)*

ROGER TR INCHERO


2017

ROGER NABEDIAN

WINE EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR

The visionary who moves E. & J. Gallo, the world’s largest winery, forward.

W

hen E. & J. Gallo Winery brought on Roger Nabedian in 1986 as a neophyte sales and marketing hire, it was a big boom period for boutique wineries and high-end bottlings. Premium-priced dry, varietal wines in 750-ml bottles were growing fast. But Gallo enjoyed success with a focus on accessible, easy-drinking table wines in magnums and gallon jugs, as well as inexpensive fortified and sweet wines. Today, of course, E. & J. Gallo produces and imports numerous premium and superpremium wines, and owns highly regarded wineries and vineyards in Napa, Sonoma and Washington State. The journey from its Hearty Burgundy brand to estate-grown Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has been monumental. No one outside the Gallo family has had a bigger hand in that transformation than Nabedian, the senior vice president and general manager of the company’s premium wine division. “Roger’s dedication and passion for the premium and luxury wine business has been a significant part of E. & J. Gallo Winery’s strategic direction into this sector,” says distributor David C. Drucker of Empire Merchants in New York City. “One needs to look no further than the past few acquisitions and partnerships that the Gallo winery has made to see Roger’s fingerprints and incredible vision.” None of this was on Nabedian’s mind when he graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a B.A. in chemistry. At that time, he wanted to be a doctor. “I got into the wine business totally by accident,” says Nabedian. It was a change that would afford him tremendous success. Nabedian has spent his entire career with Gallo, and was put in charge of premium wines in 2005. Since then, he’s led the acquisition and integration of vineyards, wineries and brands that include Talbott Vineyards, Wil-

134 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

liam Hill Estate Winery, Columbia Winery, J Vineyards & Winery, The Ranch Winery and Orin Swift Cellars. In March 2017, Nabedian completed one of Gallo’s most historic acquisitions: The purchase of the iconic Stagecoach Vineyard. A 1,300-acre hillside vineyard located in Napa Valley’s Pritchard Hill region and Atlas Peak appellation, it is also the largest contiguous vineyard in Napa Valley, with more than 600 acres planted to vines. The acquisition was a bold move, but one that would ensure the company’s footprint in Napa for many generations to come. Nabedian’s division currently encompasses 42 brands produced at 34 wineries around the world, which includes the new

LUX Wines portfolio that currently imports classic Italian brands from iconic appellations. The division represents more than 24,000 acres of land, of which 8,500 acres are under vine. “I am very fortunate to be working at Gallo,” he says. “I have many friends that along their paths have changed jobs every five or 10 years to be able to grow. But Gallo has afforded me the opportunity to have so many varied experiences and responsibilities in my daily work without changing my business card. I’m just a lucky kid that that happened for me.” Those around Nabedian describe him as insightful, intelligent, modest, generous with his time and a tough but straightforward negotiator. “I felt like, with Roger, there was no such thing as a stupid question,” says Mike Forrester, Gallo’s western region managing director, who reported to Nabedian for five years. “His big saying is, ‘Never fail in silence.’ In other words, ask for help. It’s O.K. I think he learned a lot from Joe Gallo and the other senior executives. He watched and incorporated those traits, but he just did it faster than anybody else.” Robert Nicholson, founder of International Wine Associates, has represented the sellers of brands and properties that Nabedian acquired for Gallo, such as Talbott Vineyards and, most recently, the Germain-Robin luxury California brandy. “Roger is the real deal,” says Nicholson. “He frankly is the architect of the Gallos’ drive to be the long-term player in the U.S. premium and superpremium wine business. And when the Gallos are building business in the premium sector, it’s good for everyone.” In recognition of his contributions to the world’s largest family-owned winery and the growth of the premium wine sector, Wine Enthusiast is delighted to award Roger Nabedian as its Wine Executive of the Year. —Jim Gordon


2017

BRUCE HUNTER

INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR

This trailblazer keeps Shaw-Ross International Importers ahead of the curve.

I

nnovation comes in many forms. For Bruce Hunter, managing director of Shaw-Ross International Importers, it begins with the ability to spot trends and problems. It ends with solutions that help sell hundreds of thousands of cases of wine. “Part of my philosophy is if everything you do is in your comfort level, then you don’t go anywhere,” says Hunter. And this man, who worked in his father’s wine and liquor shop in a New York City suburb “delivering orders in the rain, snow—nothing stopped me from my appointed rounds,” wanted to go somewhere. So he went to work for Almaden Vineyards, where he became the New York representative and gained experience pounding the pavement. His territory ranged from small corner stores bedecked with bulletproof glass to Manhattan’s white tablecloth restaurants. “It was great experience,” he says. Along the way, he realized that wine had become his foremost passion. “You have to believe in the product, because if you don’t believe in a product, you’re not going to be able to sell it,” says Hunter. After a few years, Hunter headed west to join Parrott & Company, a California venture then owned by the Martini and Wente families. He would soon rise to become president of the marketing and national sales company that represented the two families’ wines, as well as other wineries, imports and spirits brands, a role he held for 10 years. Hunter’s career with Shaw-Ross International Importers followed. He returned to the East Coast with not just his passion, but the tips and skills learned along the way. Take Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel rosé, for example. He muses that it would be great “…to say I spotted the rosé trend 10 years ago, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate.” Instead, he simply met with Château d’Esclans’ owner, Sacha Lichine, who had his own idea of how he wanted to evolve the winery’s reputation.

136 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

“Now, Sacha is a winemaker, but he is also a businessperson,” says Hunter. “And he wanted to make a serious wine, a serious rosé, not a White Zinfandel wannabe.” Hunter and his team took 1,500 cases of the brand’s wines “to the right places, to the Hamptons, to Beverly Hills, to the right areas, to the right people and the right events. We kept our prices right. We kept our marketing philosophy. We never wavered from it. We never wavered in our pricing. “If it’s going to be serious, it has to have a chance at being successful.” That was 10 years ago. In 2017, Whispering Angel was on track to sell 300,000 cases, and Hunter predicts it will sell 400,000 cases in

2018. The brand’s other rosés, Rock Angel, Les Clans, Esclans and Garrus, also enjoy impressive sales and consumer demand. His wife used to consider him crazy to spend a weekend visiting retailers to “just look around at the prices and the shelves and what people are looking at,” he says. “What are they hovering around? What are they buying? What’s the price point they are buying? To me, that’s fun.” Sometimes, being an innovator means being a problem-solver. When Shaw-Ross took on Gekkeikan sake two years ago, Hunter visited many Japanese restaurants to see what people drank with sushi. He noticed that it wasn’t often sake. When he asked the owners, many believed it was because the sake was typically served warm. “I asked how do you drink sake in Japan, and they said they drink it chilled,” says Hunter. “So we came back with an idea. Gekkeikan is a premium sake, so serve it chilled and drink it out of wine glass. The result? We’re selling 500,000 cases.” The company’s current portfolio of wine, spirits and sake includes other iconic brands, like Marquès de Riscal from Spain and Viña San Pedro from Chile. Recent additions to their portfolio, which Hunter helped to secure in 2017, include the Bordeaux brand MoutonCadet and Pays d’Oc varietally labeled wines of Baron Philippe de Rothschild, as well as Italian wines from Frescobaldi and Danzante. Another part of his philosophy is something he learned from his father. “He told me ‘Leadership is not about being great. It’s about enabling others to be great.’ And I have a great team of people, because behind every great brand is a great team.” For his numerous accomplishments and continued success to grow business by staying in-tune with the current U.S. wine landscape and market demands, Wine Enthusiast is happy to name Bruce Hunter as its Innovator of the Year. —Leslie Gevirtz


2017

KENDALL-JACKSON WINERY AMERICAN WINERY OF THE YEAR

The iconic Sonoma estate produces the top-selling wine in America today.

T

he meteoric rise of California Chardonnay over the last several decades has much to do with one producer, Kendall-Jackson, and one wine, Vintner’s Reserve. In California, Kendall-Jackson is a testament to family-owned success in the wine business, an example of consistent quality. This year, it celebrates the 35th anniversary of the release of its Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, the top-selling Chardonnay in America for the last 25 years. “Since the first vintage, Kendall-Jackson’s Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay has made a mark on the consumption of wine in America,” says Barbara Banke, chairman and proprietor of Kendall-Jackson. “Our consistent commitment to quality, starting with our impeccably farmed coastal vineyards, has made Vintner’s Reserve America’s favorite wine for over 25 years. This is no easy task, but as a familyowned company, we are here for the long run.” Today, Chardonnay is California’s most widely grown wine grape, with more than 94,000 acres planted. It’s also the most popu-

138 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

lar white wine in the United States, representing an estimated 20 percent of all table wine purchased. And sales have increased every year. Kendall-Jackson has a lot to do with the growth and collective love for Chardonnay. “It has transformed Chardonnay and Chardonnay drinkers,” says Randy Ullom, who was brought in as winemaker for Kendall-Jackson in 1993 and promoted to winemaster in 1997. “It has become an accepted mainstay.” Jess Jackson and original winemaker Jed Steele began Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay in 1982. Its central conceit—to blend across appellations and varieties (at the beginning, not everything was Chardonnay)—broke established norms and was a bold swipe at tradition. A book about Kendall-Jackson’s rise, A Man and His Mountain: The Everyman who Created Kendall-Jackson and Became America’s Greatest Wine Entrepreneur (PublicAffairs, 2013), by Edward Humes, describes the early growth of Vintner’s Reserve. It details how the original 1982 run of the wine grew from 18,000 cases to 36,000

cases the next year. By 1986, sales had already reached 85,000 cases. “The rise of Vintner’s Reserve helped define a new movement in California winemaking, which came to be known as the era of ‘fighting varietals,’ ” wrote Humes. “Jackson brought Chardonnay into this mix in a big way, with Vintner’s Reserve emerging as one of the biggest winners.” The wine began earning awards early on. In 1983, it won the first-ever Platinum Award for an American Chardonnay at the American Wine Competition. Then, it took home top honors at the Los Angeles County Fair. Before long, former First Lady Nancy Reagan became a fan, and cases of Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay were shipped directly to the White House. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen referred to it as “Nancy’s wine.” In 1992, Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay became the country’s number one Chardonnay in sales. In 2014, it became the top-selling wine in America. Today, Vintner’s Reserve is 100-percent coastal Chardonnay, 95-percent barrel fermented in up to 1,000 small lots, where the lees is hand-stirred once a month. “We source all of the fruit along the cool coast of California, and we keep every lot separate, from so many different vineyards, from Santa Barbara to Monterey to Sonoma to Mendocino, and the majority of the vineyards are ours,” says Ullom. “Working with all the different barrel profiles and toasts is a challenge, too, as we use real barrels.” Asked why the wine appeals to so many consumers, he says, “It has a kiss of butter, a kiss of toasty soft oak, and it’s very fruit forward. It’s round and lush on the palate, with a long-lingering finish that beckons for another sip.” For its profound effect on the growth of Chardonnay, California winemaking and how Americans enjoy wine, Wine Enthusiast is proud to name Kendall-Jackson Winery as its American Winery of the Year. —Virginie Boone


2017

FONTANAFREDDA

EUROPEAN WINERY OF THE YEAR

This champion of Barolo and the Langhe hills has brought both to the global spotlight.

M

ade with the native grape Nebbiolo, Barolo is Italy’s most esteemed and storied wine. Known as “the King of Wines, the Wine of Kings,” Barolo has never been more in demand than now. And no other winery in the celebrated denomination has had more of an impact on Barolo than Fontanafredda. Purchased in 1858 by Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy, the magnificent Fontanafredda estate became the residence of his mistress, Rosa Vercellana, and their two children. The king planted vineyards on the property to make wines for his own consumption and serve at his royal residences. In 1878, Count Emanuele Alberto Guerrieri, the son of Vittorio Emanuele II and Rosa Vercellana, expanded production. He created the Casa E. di Mirafiore winery with the goal to not just make wines, but also sell them, with a focus on Barolo. Thanks to this business venture, connoisseurs from around the world—and not just members of the royal family—were finally able to enjoy Barolo. The firm has changed ownership several times since then, and today, Fontanafredda is owned almost entirely by Oscar Farinetti, founder of Eataly, and Luca Baffigo Filangieri. Quality has never been higher than it is under their guidance, thanks in part to an increased focus on sustainable viticulture. “Our journey along the path to sustainability started long ago with ‘Vino Libero,’ an integrated certification created to reduce the use of chemicals in the vineyards and in the cellar,” says Roberto Bruno, the winery’s CEO and commercial director. “After starting the conversion to organic farming in our estate’s vineyards, in 2017, we extended the project to the whole network of our 350 vine growers in the area, who are asked to progressively im-

140 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

plement organic growing practices throughout their parcels. “This is the continuation of the social role that Fontanafredda has historically played to safeguard the wellbeing of the community and the beautiful Langhe landscape.” Located in the commune of Serralunga d’Alba, Fontanafredda, with its stunning beauty, large park and iconic, striped buildings, is the largest contiguous estate in the denomination. The firm has hundreds of acres across several townships dedicated to the production of local classics like Barolo, Barbera, Moscato and Dolcetto. It also makes metodo classico sparklers from its vineyards in Alta Langa. Besides using estate grapes, the winery also sources grapes from more than 350 trusted growers that have supplied fruit for generations. The firm’s primary focus remains Barolo, and the firm makes about 800,000 bottles of Piedmont’s flagship red each year. Its calling card, the elegantly structured, single-vineyard Barolo Vigna La Rosa, is one of the most sought bottlings in the denomination.

Fontanafredda is the denomination’s undisputed leader in hospitality and boasts two hotels on the property. It also has a small theater that hosts musical artists such as celebrated tenor Andrea Boccelli. “Hospitality has always been a fundamental part of Fontanafredda and is the best way to promote wine, food and culture,” says Bruno. “Besides our two on-site restaurants and guided tastings and tours of the cellars, we also open our doors to the public who can walk in our Wood of Thoughts…it’s a trail for meditation and contemplation that winds through age-old woods, vineyards and hazel groves, with signs along the way about the landscape and the history of the estate and Barolo.” In 2018, the estate will celebrate its 160th anniversary and will host a number of special tastings and events. In recognition of all the winery has achieved, contributing to the renown of both Barolo and Italian wine, Wine Enthusiast is proud to name Fontanafredda as its European Winery of the Year. —Kerin O’Keefe


NICOLAUS ‘NICKY’ HAHN

AMERICAN WINE PIONEER

a MAN, his FAMILY and the DREAM Nicky Hahn’s career as a vintner began nearly 40 years ago when he, and his wife Gaby, purchased vineyards in the bench lands above Monterey’s famed Salinas Valley. Recognizing the unique and sometimes challenging growing conditions, Nicky, with the support of his neighbors, led efforts to establish the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation. Today, this region is recognized for producing some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir. It is with deep appreciation and humility that we accept this prestigious award and thank our neighbors, distributors and trade partners who have supported us on this journey.


2017

VASSE FELIX

NEW WORLD WINERY OF THE YEAR

This historic winery established Australia’s Margaret River region.

W

hen he stuck grapevines into the ground in Margaret River, Western Australia, back in 1967, Dr. Thomas Brendan Cullity couldn’t have known that it would foster both a world-class winery and wine region. But 50 years later, the region’s oldest winery, Vasse Felix, and the Margaret River wine region are both widely regarded for production of singular, long-lived Cabernet Sauvignons and complex, textural Chardonnays that hold their own against the world’s best. “Vasse Felix [has] done really well maintaining a progressive approach, yet at the same time preserving a wonderful sense of history,” says Glenn Goodall, senior winemaker at fellow Margaret River winery Xanadu. “[It has] continued to be an iconic presence both locally and overseas.” Although the winery’s first vintage in 1971 was a disaster due to disease (“I will not forget the exhaustion and disappointment,” Cul-

142 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

lity once said), the wines soon hit their stride. By 1973, awards, particularly for its Cabernet, began to arrive. In 1987, after three years under ownership by former winemaker David Gregg, Vasse Felix was sold to the Holmes à Court family. When Paul Holmes à Court became CEO in 2005 (and sole owner in 2008), Vasse Felix stepped up its game up. Seeing the potential of Margaret River on the world wine stage, and Vasse Felix as its most historic estate, Homes à Court invested heavily to increase quality and promote innovation in the vineyards. That also included the purchase of more vineyards—the winery now owns four around the region—to become self-sustaining and 100-percent estate grown. Holmes à Court is supportive of the region as a whole, regularly hosting industry events to help other producers grow and improve, such as expansive regional tastings with local producers.

“With Paul Holmes a Court’s commitment to Margaret River and making the best possible wine, we have come a long way in the most recent 10 years,” says Winemaker Virginia Willcock. “Paul is the owner, but feels more like a custodian, and this award feels like the commitment is worthwhile.” Holmes à Court, however, is quick to credit these achievements to his team. “There’s something about [Vasse Felix] that always seems to attract a special kind of person, and in the end, they are what makes the difference,” he says. It was Holmes à Court who brought on Chief Viticulturist Bart Molony in 2004 (who started as vineyard supervisor and worked his way up), and, in 2006, Virginia Willcock as chief winemaker. Both have gone on to garner many awards. In September, Willcock won Winemaker of the Year at the Australian Women in Wine Awards. Molony and Willcock have taken the quality of Vasse Felix wines to new heights. They’ve also championed organic practices in the vineyards and a more hands-off approach in the winery. Willcock has become passionate about the use of native yeast and has experimented with things like whole-bunch fermentation and skin-macerated whites. The two styles Vasse Felix is most famous for—elegant, savory Cabernet Sauvignon and textural, mineral-driven Chardonnay—remain some of the best in the region, if not the world. “Vasse Felix is in the most pristine wine region in the world, the sun and the breeze off the ocean give us the most consistent vintage conditions,” says Willcock. “Add to this our stunning vineyards with great clones, we are blessed with winemaking freedom to make the most naturally expressive wines of a beautiful place. Where else would a winemaker want to work?” For its outstanding contributions to the Margaret River region and raising the bar of quality Australian wines, Wine Enthusiast is thrilled to honor Vasse Felix as its New World Winery of the Year. —Christina Pickard


2013 VINTAGE

JAMES SUCKLING

93 POINTS 93 POINTS 2013 VINTAGE

2008 VINTAGE

WINE & SPIRITS

WINE ENTHUSIAST

EARNING OUR STRIPES fontanafredda.it

SINCE 1858

©2017 Palm Bay International, Boca Raton, FL

93 POINTS


2017

SOUTHWEST FRANCE WINE REGION OF THE YEAR

Innovative wines from this region are rooted in the ancient past.

I

n less than two decades, Southwest France has been transformed into a hotbed of dynamic innovation and new wines. At the same time, it has retained its roots and a history that stretches back into the origins of French winemaking. The Southwest is a wide region. It spans from the Atlantic coast of France in the west almost to the Mediterranean in the east, and from the mountains of central France in the north to the Spanish border in the south. In this vast region, the fourth-largest wineproduction area in France, with 43 different geographical designations and over 300 varieties planted and counting, vineyards appear like islands, relatively isolated from each other. Despite that, they have some commonalities. All of the appellations are steeped in history. Some were first planted by the Romans, like Cahors. Gaillac is even older, originating with vines brought to France by the Phoenicians. Irouléguy and Béarn were created by the Basques, the native inhabitants of the far southwest. While the range of vines planted is enormous, the region essentially acts as one of the wine world’s great indigenous vine incubators. Familiar vines like Merlot, Tannat and Cabernet Franc are native to the Southwest, as are lesser-known varieties that deserve appreciation, like Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng, Braucol, Négrette and Prunelard. There are efforts to preserve this diverse

144 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

viticultural heritage. In Gascony, the local Plaimont cooperative has revived the vineyard of Saint-Mont. It has discovered a parcel of vines planted in 1830, now registered a national monument (a first for a vineyard in France). The cooperative has also established a viticultural conservatory where it preserves vines, some with no name. The better vines are now grown commercially. This wide range of territories and vines makes drinking through the Southwest a voyage of discovery—one made easier by the dynamism shown in winemaking and marketing.

Thanks to enterprising importers and the region’s recently established promotional body, Wines of Southwest France, the wines have now become widely available in the United States. Certain regions have become otherwise internationally recognized. Cahors, with its Malbec-based wines, was the first, aided by smart marketing that aligned the region with Argentina amid the Malbec boom. That’s been followed quickly by Madiran, with its powerful Tannat wines. More recently, Gaillac has stepped into the spotlight, thanks to an impressive roster of producers and the ability to make every style of wine. Not far behind is Fronton, close to Southwest France’s regional capital of Toulouse, with fruity reds based on the Négrette grape. To the west in Gascony, the Côtes de Gascogne has become a staple of wine lovers in the search for light, fruit-forward white wines. Meanwhile, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Jurançon is widely recognized for its intense, crisp sweet wines. For its wide range of wines and styles, combined with improved quality and innovative marketing that’s increased sales throughout the U.S. and world, Wine Enthusiast is delighted to name Southwest France as its Wine Region of the Year. —Roger Voss


CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS AT THIS YEAR’S WINE STAR AWARDS.

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING OUR BR ANDS. Please enjoy our products responsibly. Visit us at www.cbrands.com © 2017 Constellation Brands, Inc., Victor, NY


2017

VINTUS

IMPORTER OF THE YEAR

A top-shelf wine importer of impressive presence, growth and vision.

L

ike many accomplished individuals in the wine business, Michael Quinttus took a winding path to discover his true calling: the creation of VINTUS. Based in Pleasantville, New York, the wine importer and distributer currently represents 40 estates from 10 countries. Born in Germany to wine-loving parents, Quinttus moved with his family to Dayton, Ohio, when he was a young boy. Quinttus later graduated from Ohio State University and then pursued advanced degrees in law and public administration at Yale and Princeton, respectively. What followed were several unfulfilling years of work at big law firms in New York City and Washington, D.C., which led Quinttus to seek a career reboot. A long-simmering passion for wine that began at home, grew in college and blossomed thereafter, drove Quinttus to seek advice and a little help from legendary wine importer Peter Sichel, a client of his at the time. And the rest, as they say, is history. “In 1985, I started working for Kobrand as a salesman in Boston,” says Quinttus. “I stayed at Kobrand [Wine Enthusiast’s 2012 Importer of the Year] for 18 years and left in 2004 to start VINTUS. Peter has been a career-long mentor—he calls himself my rabbi. It was Peter who wrote the letter of introduction to Kobrand for me.” So, why the name VINTUS? “VINTUS was a name that occurred to me during a solo bike ride,” said Quinttus. “I was searching for a Latin name, because my family name has Latin roots, and because of the importance of wine in Roman culture. “All the Latin words I considered were taken, so I made one up that was a reference to wine, but with the last letters of my name.” Today, VINTUS has about 50 employees

146 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

and works with dozens of top-shelf properties, a number that doesn’t include the classified Bordeaux wines it purchases from négociants. The longest-standing member of the VINTUS portfolio, represented by the importer since its founding, is the Burgundy producer Lucien Le Moine. Starting in 2018, VINTUS will represent the most prestigious estates of the Tuscany-based Frescobaldi Group, namely Ornellaia, Masseto, Luce della Vite and Attems. Other established names in the VINTUS portfolio include E. Guigal and Champagne Bollinger from France, Sandrone from Italy, Errazuriz from Chile, and Chateau Montelena

and Ponzi Vineyards from the United States. This year, VINTUS helped put approximately 500,000 cases of wine in front of American consumers. With no defined motto or mission statement, Quinttus says VINTUS’s lone goal is to represent the finest estates from the world’s most prominent wine regions. “We see ourselves as a national sales and marketing company,” he says. “Our emphasis is not on geographic specialization, but on family ownership and benchmark wines that are of a place. Our estates inspire us, because to produce and sell extraordinary wine takes extraordinary focus, passion and vision.” While Quinttus, as company founder and CEO, is the driving force at VINTUS, no successful importer is a one-man show. Several key associates helped make VINTUS the midsize powerhouse it is today. Quinttus cited Alexander Michas, senior vice president and chief operating officer; CFO James Federico Jr., CPA, the company’s CFO; and Michael Gitter, vice president and director of marketing, as pillars of the operation. “We have a relentless drive to excel at everything we do,” says Quinttus. “That means having the finest wine portfolio in the business, hiring smart and motivated people, and working with wine distributors that are knowledgeable and have strong relationships with the best accounts in their markets. “Our company culture is one of inclusion and empowering everyone to excel in their roles. We have more of a horizontal structure than a vertical one.” What has not been flat is the 13-year trajectory of VINTUS, which has gone in just one direction: upward. For its monumental ascent, Wine Enthusiast names VINTUS as its Importer of the Year. —Michael Schachner


2017

SAFEWAY INC. RETAILER OF THE YEAR

A booming retailer with an unmistakable commitment to its guests.

S

afeway, one of the largest grocery chains in the United States, can trace its roots back almost a century, when it started in Idaho. And for much of that time, following the repeal of Prohibition, it has sold wine and spirits wherever local laws allowed. Albertsons Companies acquired Safeway in 2015 for $9.2 billion, having recognized the power behind the Safeway brand and its appreciation for the communities its stores served. Safeway’s existing name and branding were presevered, with more than 900 locations as part of Albertsons Companies’ family of 2,30-plus stores. The retailer’s beverage focus has continued to increase in tandem with their physical expansion. Prior to the purchase, Safeway had been steadily increasing sales in the wine, beer and spirits categories, setting category gains every year over the past decade. Many of the stores have since undergone makeovers, with particular attention paid to the wine aisles. Safeway’s beverage stewards—customer service specialists hired specifically to educate and aid wine shoppers—can be credited for part of the growth, as they are the ones who interact with shoppers on a day-to-day basis. These individuals are brought on exclusively to help guests with their selections and are trained to suggest wine pairings for various foods. Their friendly yet knowledgeable demeanors help ensure each visitor to Safeway turns into a repeat customer. Safeway seeks value at a variety of price points and, because of the chain’s frequent need to secure large orders to accommodate placement in multiple stores, volume pricing often trickles down to thirsty shoppers. The retailer offers its own wines as well, managed under the company’s Own Brands organization, which is expanded on a regular basis. Most recently, a line of wines called Box Wize was introduced and is available in three varieties—Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay—all produced by a California vintner for the chain.

148 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

From left: Terry Lucchesi, alcoholic beverage sales manager; Phil Markert, vice president marketing and merchandising; Dave Miller, vice president of wine, beer & spirits; Jennifer Jones, vice president of retail sales/alcohol; Elsie Wolfe, alcoholic beverage sales manager; Kim Connery, alcohol beverage sales manager.

The store also searches Th l h ffor unique i limited-release or boutique selections, to offer its customers something special that can’t readily be found elsewhere. This is especially true within California, where the company strives to build and maintain relationships with many prominent winemakers and estates and support iconic regions like Napa and Sonoma. A range of in-store events, tastings and educational opportunities are also encouraged throughout the chain to better serve consumers and local communities. In 2013, Safeway became the exclusive wine-retail partner for the Sunset International Wine Competition, launching a series of dedicated in-store promotions and wine tastings tai-

llored d to the wines of the competition. This kind of selection and unique access to special buys is part of what makes Safeway’s wine customers loyal. It is the company’s attention to the personal, relationship-driven aspect of the wine industry and how people buy wine that has made it so successful—acting as stewards of the category, hunting out treasures to share with their guests and ways to educate customers about wine, rather than simply agents of transaction. It’s this commitment to their guests and a drive to better serve the wine industry through strategic partnerships and promotions that Wine Enthusiast names Safeway as its Retailer of the Year. —L.G.


2017

CHRIS TANGHE, MS SOMMELIER OF THE YEAR

A tireless educator for the Guild of Sommeliers.

“W

hat’s more impactful than education?” says Chris Tanghe, chief instructor at the Guild of Sommeliers (commonly known as GuildSomm), a nonprofit educational and networking organization for sommeliers and other wine professionals. “I travel to most major U.S. cities and teach classes to 40 wine professionals at a time. In a given year, I will have influenced, to at least some small degree, a few thousand somms, who will then take that knowledge and experience to their guests.” The role of a sommelier is evolving. There are many wine-related businesses that can benefit from a sommelier’s vast vinous knowledge and wide-ranging skills, like wineries, schools, distributors, importers and retailers. Many sommeliers have also started wine clubs or even become winemakers. Thanks to the popularity of films like the documentary SOMM and publications that highlight the profession, the intensified attention given to sommeliers recalls the rise of the “celebrity chef.” “With a bit of drive and skillset expansion, sommeliers can now branch out to work for a winery, importer, distributor, educational entity and elsewhere,” says Tanghe. “Hospitality extends to all of these avenues, which makes a sommelier relevant to these positions.” When he was just 13, Tanghe lied about his age to land a dishwashing job at a Cape Cod, Massachusetts, country club. The next year, he moved to line cook. He went on to study at the Culinary Institute of America, where he took the Introduction to Wine course and was inspired to apply for the introductory class with the Court of Master Sommeliers, only to be forced to wait

150 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

until he was 21. Once he was finally of legal drinking age, he pursued his wine education with passion while he worked as a cook, server and, eventually, sommelier, at some of the Pacific Northwest’s most acclaimed restaurants (The Herbfarm, Canlis, RN74, Aragona). Tanghe passed the Master Sommelier exam in 2013. The next year, as he sought a new challenge and relief from long restaurant hours, he moved to Vinum Importing to become a portfolio manager and educator for the sales teams. The transition to a broader educational

role set the stage for Tanghe’s work with GuildSomm, which created the chief instructor position for him. He conducts master classes and webinars for GuildSomm members internationally, and contributes study guides and other materials (some of which are publicly available at guildsomm.com). Tanghe also works GuildSomm’s partner organization, the Guild of Sommeliers Educational Foundation (SommFoundation), which offers scholarships, enrichment trips and access to other wine-focused events. He’s a tireless advocate for Washington wines, but speaks to other passions, like Burgundy, Bordeaux, Spain and Italy, with the same authority. “The same skills that made Chris successful with restaurant customers—enthusiasm, clarity and approachability—now benefit our members,” says Geoff Kruth, president of GuildSomm. For Tanghe, the education of a sommelier never ends. He emphasizes that you don’t become a true sommelier by simply passing exams. “A great sommelier doesn’t just possess wine knowledge or tasting experience,” says Tanghe. “It’s a collection of skills learned over time that include hospitality, folding linens, sweeping floors, knowing how a reservation book works, washing dishes, polishing glassware, navigating Excel, learning how to lead a team and on and on and on. My hopes are that people put in the work, remain humble and always keep their guests at the top of their minds, not their egos.” For his tireless work to promote wine knowledge and service skills that advance the wine industry across all job types and employers, Wine Enthusiast is pleased to recognize Chris Tanghe, MS, as its 2017 Sommelier of the Year. —Nils Bernstein


Congratulations TO ALL THE 2017 WINE STAR AWARD WINNERS PERSON OFTHE YEAR

JIM CLERKIN

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

ROGER & BOB TRINCHERO

AMERICAN WINE PIONEER

NICOLAUS “NICKY” HAHN

WINEMAKER OF THE YEAR

CHRISTOPHE BARON

WINE EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR

ROGER NABEDIAN

SOMMELIER/ WINE DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR

CHRIS TANGHE, MS

RETAILER OF THE YEAR

SAFEWAY INC.

INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR

BRUCE HUNTER

AMERICAN WINERY OF THE YEAR

KENDALL - JACKSON WINERY

SHAWROSS.COM

EUROPEAN WINERY OF THE YEAR

FONTANAFREDDA

NEW WORLD WINERY OF THE YEAR

VASSE FELIX

WINE REGION OF THE YEAR

SOUTHWEST FRANCE

IMPORTER OF THE YEAR

VINTUS WINES

SPIRIT BRAND OF THE YEAR

DEL MAGUEY SINGLE VILLAGE MEZCAL MIXOLOGIST OF THE YEAR

SOTHER TEAGUE

BREWERY OF THE YEAR

FOUNDER’S BREWING CO.

Cheers!


2017

DEL MAGUEY SINGLE VILLAGE MEZCAL SPIRIT BRAND OF THE YEAR

This mezcal mogul launched the category in the U.S.

B

152 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Founder Ron Cooper

By 1995, Cooper had begun to export mezcal to the U.S. under the Del Maguey label. And it wasn’t just any mezcal—these were spirits made by individual family palenqueros (producers) in old-style villages. Del Maguey became the first producer to credit specific villages, effectively creating the “single village” designation for mezcal. In June 2017, Cooper surprised the industry when he announced that Pernod Ricard had purchased a majority stake in Del Maguey. “I have received many inquiries and offers for investment into Del Maguey, but I have always said, ‘No, thank you,’ ” Cooper said in a statement after the sale. “We did not believe that anyone could ever completely understand, appreciate or fully buy into our mission to preserve this culture and to protect the ancient process of making mezcal…until now. Indeed, finally, after 22 years, we have found a true partner.”

Cooper has no intention to step away. Part of the sale included a guarantee that Cooper and the rest of the Del Maguey management team would stay on for at least five years. That’s just fine with Cooper, who’s enthusiastic about the reach and support that the partnership can provide. “We’re already working in a village where Pernod had a trial run; we’re figuring it out and the opportunities we have with them,” says Cooper. “It’s exciting. You never know what’s in the future.” And as far as Cooper’s concerned, the future should contain plenty of good mezcal and opportunities to make art. For its tireless work to create the premium mezcal category in the U.S., honoring Mexico’s artisanal family producers, Wine Enthusiast is proud to announce Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal as its Spirits Producer of the Year. —Kara Newman

ADAM LERNER

efore Del Maguey, few U.S. consumers knew about mezcal. The agave-based spirit wasn’t seen in many bars or liquor stores, and it sure wasn’t used in cocktails. Ron Cooper, founder of Del Maguey, changed that, blazing a path for other mezcal producers. He didn’t set out to do that. Cooper started his career as an artist, and he enjoyed great success. His work has appeared in museums throughout the world, and he’s won awards from the National Endowment for The Arts (for painting and photography) and New York City’s Guggenheim Museum (for sculpture). For the last 30 years, Cooper has resided and worked in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico. Since 1995, he’s also lived in Oaxaca, Mexico, where his entry into the wonderful world of mezcal began. “In 1990, I spent three months living and making art [in Oaxaca],” says Cooper. “It was one of the most profoundly satisfying times in my life. Before I left New Mexico, I had decided on several projects that would keep me busy.” Producing 50 hand-blown, blue-glass bottles featuring the profile of Ometochtli, god of intoxication and ecstasy, was one of these projects. The bottles were to be filled with high-quality mezcal. “When not creating art during those three months, I traveled far into the countryside surrounding Oaxaca,” says Cooper. “About three days a week, I followed rumors of great pure mezcals made by farmers, hours down dirt roads far from the capitol. I tasted, spoke with many makers, collected and vowed to return as I had discovered an incredible elixir.” He traveled back to the U.S., his pickup truck loaded with mezcal samples, and customs officials would only allow one liter across the border. That difficult moment proved to be a career catalyst. “I decided then and there to make this fine liquid available to me and my friends,” he says. “That is how Del Maguey began.”


2017

SOTHER TEAGUE MIXOLOGIST OF THE YEAR

A world-class mixologist who’s making a difference beyond the bar.

“Y

ou know the saying, ‘If you want to get something done, ask a busy person?’ I say if you want to get something done, ask a bartender.” That’s the mantra of Sother Teague, partner of the groundbreaking charity bar Coup, head bartender at Amor y Amargo and co-producer and co-host of popular podcast “The Speakeasy” on Heritage Radio Network. In between everything else, the New York City-based Teague serves as president of the New York chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild, wrote his first cocktail book (I’m Just Here for the Drinks, scheduled to be released in August 2018 from Macmillan Publishers) and created an app for bartenders and spirits professionals called Batch. All that is enough to make anyone’s head spin, but Teague thrives on the numerous challenges. After he graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 1994, Teague spent several years as a “journeyman chef,” traveling and cooking his way through a total of 13 cities. He also was the research and technical chef for Alton Brown on the Food Network show Good Eats and a chef-educator at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont. When Teague moved to New York City, he landed behind the bar at seafood restaurant Atlantic Grill, a turn of events he describes as a “happy accident.” “I spent that first year asking, ‘Why am I not going back to the kitchen?’ ” says Teague. “But I really like talking to people. That was what held me behind the bar.” Teague stayed at Atlantic Grill for nearly three years. He learned the business first, then worked with Eben Klemm (who was assistant beverage director for the BR Guest Hospitality

154 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

group before moving into a consultant role for various hospitality groups) to overhaul the drinks menu, adding fresh-squeezed juices, house-made grenadine and making other improvements to the bar. “I learned to be a ‘bartender’s bartender’ at that job,” says Teague. A series of stints at high-end bars across Manhattan and Brooklyn followed, including Dovetail, Gin Palace, Prime Meats, White Star, Rye and Booker and Dax. In 2011, he teamed with Avery and Janet Glasser (now of Bittermens) and Mayur Subbarao to open Amor y Amargo in NYC’s East Village, a bar dedicated to bitter spirits like amaro and cocktail bitters.

“It was going to be a six-month pop-up [bar],” says Teague. “It was something we did on all of our nights off, and we were very much exploratory. It was our clubhouse.” Guests embraced the concept, and as the other partners were poised to exit, Teague signed on with restaurateur/bar owner Ravi DeRossi and became head bartender. In 2017, Teague and DeRossi teamed up again, this time as coowners of Coup, a charity bar. Inspired by OKRA, a Houston-based bar that donates proceeds to nonprofit organizations, Teague and DeRossi planned a similar concept. But the bar’s concept took a more politically minded turn. Opening in NYC’s East Village in April, Coup donated all profits to various left-leaning nonprofit organizations. It garnered headlines and standing-room-only crowds for six months—and then Teague and DeRossi abruptly shuttered the brick-and-mortar location, opting to turn the operation into a nonprofit organization that will pop up at various cocktail bars across the U.S. Inside the bar, a hand-lettered sign once read: “Do What You Can/ With What You Have/ Where You Are.” Teague says that sums up his approach to both Coup and bartending in general. In fact, he encourages colleagues to adopt a similar mindset. “We have a community, a catalyst for doing good,” he says. “We have an audience who listens to us. You need to recognize that you have a voice and you can use it for the greater good.” For his work to raise awareness for the betterment and social responsibility of the bar industry, as well as his support of numerous charitable causes and organizations, Wine Enthusiast recognizes Sother Teague as its Mixologist of the Year. —K.N.


2017

FOUNDERS BREWING CO. BREWERY OF THE YEAR

After 20 years, the brewery has remained true to its roots while moving craft beer forward.

T

wenty years ago, Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens decided to open a brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They had no idea what they were in for, but both were ready for the ride of their lives. The duo met at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where they developed their love of beer and how it brought people together. After graduating, they drafted a plan and found investors to start a brewery of their own. The first year was rougher than expected, full of long days spent pounding the pavement and contract brewing at another location. Sleeping at the brewery and showering with the brewing equipment was the norm. The business struggled to be profitable, and a few years after opening, things weren’t looking much better. While Founders was releasing well-made—though unexciting—brews, the brewery was facing bankruptcy by the early 2000s. With checks bouncing, bills unpaid and lenders threatening to lock their doors, Engbers and Stevens started selling noncrucial brewing equipment to make ends meet. After selling their filter to pay their brewer, Nate Walser, Walser had to modify production to accommodate. The resulting beers were fuller and more intense. Founders unintentionally joined the unfiltered beer movement. With nothing left to lose, Founders embraced that bolder taste profile and began brewing the beers that Engbers and Stevens loved: big-bodied brews that weren’t shy on personality, complexity or flavor. It was the start of their next chapter, based on the cofounders’ “Brewed for Us” philosophy. “We made a strategic decision to brew beers that were interesting to us, which typically meant they were stronger, more complex, innovative and had a distinctive aromatic [profile],” says Engbers. That attitude shift brought Founders back from the brink, ultimately shaping the identity of what the brewery stands for today. The brand was gaining traction and coastto-coast recognition, so the brewery moved

156 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

to an expanded facility in 2007, starting what the co-founders coin the third chapter. The owners thought it could finally meet the increasing interest in their brews. But demand soon outpaced the growth again, and Engbers and Stevens had to figure out their next steps. In December 2014, Founders entered an agreement with Mahou San Miguel. The 125-year-old, seventh-generation-familyowned Spanish brewery became a minority investor, with 30-percent ownership. The partnership was aimed at increasing Founders’ international distribution while allowing Mahou to gain traction in the U.S. Since then, Founders has continued to flourish. The brewery’s facilities expanded, growing to an entire city block. An additional building was purchased for warehouse and distribution needs, as well as to act as Founders’ second brewery, dedicated to the barrel-aged, experimental and specialty beers that encourage the innovation the brand is known and loved for. “Somehow, someway, what we’ve done along the way is created a lifestyle,” says Stevens. “One that defines us and this company with a no regrets attitude.”

Founders now produces more than 25 packaged beers, distributed in nearly every state. In addition to its year-round lineup, the brewery produces a Barrel-Aged Series (including the killer classic KBS), seasonal selections, specialty brews and limited releases. “We have strived for decades to become known as one of the country’s greatest beer makers,” says Stevens. “To us, this means more than just making one or two great beers. It means being able to brew world-class beers from one end of the spectrum to the other. At Founders, we can appeal to the most discerning beer geek, to the transitional craft drinker.” “Over the years, craft beer has hit the mainstream,” says Engbers. “We are now considered veterans of our industry and should lead as an example to inspire our fellow brewers to bring the category to the next levels and start looking at the big picture. Today, our charge is to continue to innovate, grow the category on a global scale and protect our culture and reputation.” For its role in driving beer culture forward and protecing the reputation of the high-end beer category through quality and innovation, Wine Enthusiast awards Founders Brewing Co. as its Brewery of the Year. —Lauren Buzzeo


S P E C I A L P R O M OT I O N

Lisboa Land of Fresh Wines Lisboa has everything a wine explorer could want. On the north side you’ll find beautiful vineyards, amazing beaches, some of the best surfing spots in the world and breathtaking mountains. But it is not all site-seeing places and natural scenery, Lisboa is still a cosmopolitan city with lots of history, art, geology, paleontology and golf to satisfy any whim you may have. On the north side, the vineyards on the Southern Europe’s Gulf Stream, are located right between the cold and strong winds of the Atlantic coast and the heat of inland Portugal. At night, the land is naturally irrigated by the mist and early morning fog and during the day it receives warmth from sunny afternoons. The intense humidity in both spring and summer is the main factor to produce Vinho Leve, a low alcohol wine (10% alc. by Vol. degree), delicious with fresh sea food or grilled fish. This terroir makes it perfect for bright, juicy and fruity wines. Every grape variety responds differently to it. In 2017 the producers from the Lisboa Region had the Vintage of a Century. The grapes were excellent, and fulfilled all the requirements to make amazing wines and keeping good

yields. This level of quality was achieved by reviving vineyards and adopting new winemaking techniques.

VISIT LISBON, DRINK LISBOA. When you start to explore the Portuguese wine scenery, you’ll find estates called quintas. They’re called this because at one time, many years ago, when Portugal was still being conquered, the owners of these lands (producers of wine) had to pay the King a tax fee of 20% of their production. This percentage, which is one fifth, means quinta parte in Portuguese, and that’s why they’re called: Quinta. Nowadays, new generations of old wine families and Napa-like entrepreneurs are determined to add Lisboa to their top wine destination and drinking map.


S P E C I A L P R O M OT I O N

With wine tourism in high gear, wineries aim to offer everything from tastings, blending courses, accommodation and event work as venue for events. As most people are fluent in both English and Spanish don’t hesitate to ask them questions about wine or food. So, book a flight and come visit some wineries at the nine regional D. O. C.’s. DOC – ALENQUER: Located on the east and south side of the Montejunto mountains, subject to the cold winds from the Atlantic, Alenquer produces great white, red and rosé wines as well as Vinho Leve. DOC – ÓBIDOS: Located near the Peniche peninsula, west of the Candeeiros mountains, it produces superb wines and white sparklings. At this appellation, Vinho Leve has one of its higher terroir expressions. Four great golf courses, await your visit! DOC – TORRES VEDRAS: Red and white wines have a great presence here as they enjoy the proximity to both the sea and the mountains. This is an historical central region, with great food, proximity to golf courses and also beaches. DOC – ARRUDA: An area with a regular production of red and white wines, although the reds are still better known than the whites. This area produces Vinho Leve very well known to the public. DOC – ENCOSTAS D’AIRE: On the coastal limestone hills, the northern edge of Lisboa Region produces some of our most distinctive wines and the Historic Wines of Ourém.

DOC – LOURINHÃ: This is a unique demarcation as the Lourinhã Tália grape DOC is the only DOC in Portugal

solely demarcated for Aguardente or Brandy. The DOC Brandy is produced from the Tália varietal, a grape which is none other than the Ugni Blanc, the grape responsible for the famous Cognac and Armagnac brandies in France. DOC – BUCELAS: This is the only area demarcated solely for its white wines, produced mainly from the grape varietal Arinto. These are great wines to pair with seafood, light meals or even Asian food! DOC – COLARES: Sandy soils that even during the great destruction of vines due to Filoxera (18651910), could be planted as the disease does not attack vines planted in sand. Still in production, Colares has amazing whites made with Malvasia Fina, and reds made with the famous Ramisco grape. DOC – CARCAVELOS: Carcavelos is a fortified wine like Port or Madeira. It is a sweet wine and it has a very well balanced acidity. It can be used as aperitif, served cold, or as a digestive, served at room temperature. The main grape is Galego Dourado but it also has a little Castelão and a touch of Arinto.

A unique region The Portuguese in this region are masters at blending several grape varieties producing delicious wines with premium blends. Winemakers from all over the world dream of Lisboa’s blending expertise and many fly all the way here to taste and experience it. Lisboa’s wineries focus on quality and on customer pleasing, so you will find not only blends of Portuguese indigenous varieties (out of the 250+ different varietals, you’ll find grapes such as Arinto or Touriga Nacional) but also blends that combine Portuguese and international varieties like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah. Rosé and sparkling wines are also the result of very carefully made blends that go along with the international trends. The wines are excellent to drink on their own and also to make easy food pairing choices that range from meat to fi sh, to seafood and even cheese dishes. A wide range of Lisboa wines are available in the United States so the best way to discover Portuguese wine, you may ask? ... Taste, Taste it, Lisboa Style!


BEST OF YEAR

THIS MONTH 162

AUSTRALIA

188 CHILE 192

URUGUAY

196 BRAZIL 196 CALIFORNIA 226 WASHINGTON 228 IDAHO 229 VIRGINIA 231

PORTUGAL

243 BORDEAUX 253 SOUTHWEST FRANCE 255 CENTRAL ITALY 256 VENETO 258 PIEDMONT

ANDREW COLEMAN / ALAMY

260 ROMANIA 261

MOROCCO

262 SPIRITS Some vineyard pests are cuter than others.

263 BEER

FOR ADDITIONAL RATINGS AND REVIEWS, VISIT WINEMAG.COM/RATINGS

WINEMAG.COM | 161


BUYINGGUIDE

AUSTRALIA

91

New-wave wines

T

he land down under is experiencing a wine Chardonnay may be one of the world’s most renaissance. From the explosion of thrillpopular grape varieties, but there’s something ing small-batch producers bucking tradispecial and unique about modern Australian tion and pushing boundaries, to the rise Chardonnay. Gone are the days of ultrarich, in quality and restraint from so many of the big buttery Aussie Chard. Today you’ll find more names, it’s high time Aussie wine jumps back on restrained, elegant examples of the grape, with the radar. some excellent bottlings coming out of cool cliThe sheer diversity of grape mates like Margaret River and varieties and wine styles coming the Adelaide Hills. Aussie wines are out of Australia’s multitude of All of these represent a winemaking regions is astoundglobal trend that is especially getting fresher ing. Dive into the red-fruited and and more vibrant, prevalent in Australia: less is floral Grenache from McLaren more. This philosophy manmore immediately ifests itself in the form of less Vale, or try a peppery, savory, light-on-its-feet Shiraz from gluggable and more new oak, less extraction, less one of Australia’s cooler climes, expressive of their fining and filtering, and less like the Grampians or Heathcote winemaking manipulation like terroir. in Victoria. added acid and tannin. In other So called “alternative variwords, more focus on expresseties” are huge down under, particularly in the ing what’s happening outside the winery than country’s many warm-climate regions, where inside it. As a result, Aussie wines are getting heat and drought-resistant vines are proving fresher and more vibrant, more immediately important. Look for Tempranillo, Montepulcigluggable and more expressive of their terroir. ano and Sangiovese bottlings, which are becomFrom racy whites to rich reds, Australia has ing more prevalent, albeit still mostly made in a wine for everyone, so drink up. Or as the Ausquite small production. sies say, Cheers, mate! —Christina Pickard

GRENACHE

93

Angove 2015 Warboy’s Vineyard Grenache (McLaren Vale). For full review see page 167. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14.5% Price: $75

93

Paxton 2015 Grenache (McLaren Vale). This wine combines elegance and power, complexity and drinkability. Orange rind, strawberry, flowers, Chinese Five Spice and a hint of raw meat all dance together on the pretty, lifted nose. The palate is satiny and leans more towards tart cranberry, with the spice character really shining, followed by superfine but sturdy tannins. Pair with roast duck, beef teriyaki, or a veggie stir fry. Little Peacock Imports. Editors’ Choice. —C.P. abv: 14% Price: $35

162 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

92

John Duval Wines 2015 Annexus Grenache (Barossa). From ex-Penfolds winemaker John Duval and made in part from vines over 150 years old, this Grenache offers a complexity and depth. This favors dark fruit on the nose and is chock full of intriguing aromas of cumin, clove, chocolate, sandalwood and mint. The palate offers more of the same multifariousness, with added minerality reminiscent of hot stones and graphite. Drink now–2027. Old Bridge Cellars. —C.P. abv: 14% Price: $60

91

Hentley Farm 2015 The Old Legend Grenache (Barossa Valley). While the nose is on the simple side, with ultraripe—almost confected— cherry, cocoa powder, flowers and medicinal herbs, it’s the palate that draws you in. Fresh acidity, particularly for the variety, and a good lick of tannins round out this sleek, well-structured wine. Drink now–2025. Hentley Farm (US). —C.P. abv: 14% Price: $58

Kay Brothers 2015 Basket Pressed Amery Vineyard Grenache (McLaren Vale). A lovely, complex example of why McLaren Vale Grenache deserves more of our attention. Like the last days of summer, this wine smells of drying flowers still on their stalks. Tart cherries, dried leaves, and medicinal herbs come through on the palate, which finishes smokey, like the dying embers of the last barbecue of the season. Quintessential Wines. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $40

90

Penny’s Hill 2015 The Experiment Estate Single Vineyard Grenache (McLaren Vale). A red cherry aroma is interwoven with violets and dried herbs. The supple palate of juicy fruit is balanced by silky tannins and a medium mouthfeel, followed by a herbal finish. Wine Trees. —C.P. abv: 14.9% Price: $36

89

An Approach to Relaxation 2015 Sucette Grenache (Barossa). Grown on sandy soils, this cherry-hued Grenache offers up juicy watermelon and red fruit notes, with vanilla, white pepper and a dash of green herbs. The supple yet elegant palate boasts drying tannins balanced by lively acidity and a savory finish. USA Wine West. —C.P. abv: 14% Price: $59

89

Cirillo 2015 Survivor Vine The Vincent Grenache (Barossa Valley). Typical of the variety, this wine shows ripe strawberries, florals, white pepper and a hint of stalky, smokey gamyness. The flavors on the palate are simpler—mainly cherry and strawberry fruit—but there’s still a delicacy and juiciness that make this easy to knock back. Broadbent Selections, Inc. —C.P. abv: 14% Price: $37

88

Thistledown 2015 The Vagabond Grenache (McLaren Vale). Ripe strawberry and vanilla lead on the nose followed by a light-weight, juicy and easy-going palate. A sandy texture and slightly savory finish make this a crowd-pleasing wine. Wine Dogs Imports LLC. —C.P. abv: 15% Price: $36

88

Yalumba 2015 Old Bush Vine Grenache (Barossa). Strawberry jam and vanilla are in the fore of this Barossa Grenache. It’s juicy, light and bright, with silky tannins and an easy-going gluggability. Negociants USA, Inc. —C.P. abv: 14.1% Price: $20

SHIRAZ

92

Atze’s Corner 2015 Estate Grown Shiraz (Barossa Valley). Made and grown by one of Barossa’s most highly respected wine families, the Kalleskes, this Shiraz is a complex specimen of dried cherries, herbs and beef marinade, with soft tannins and a long, savory finish. It’s elegant and

Continued on page 184


The Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide The Buying Guide includes ratings and reviews of new-release and selected older beverage alcohol products evaluated by Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s editors and other qualified tasters. Regular contributors to our Buying Guide include Managing Editor/Tasting Director Lauren Buzzeo, Executive Editor Susan Kostrzewa, Tasting Manager Alexander Peartree, Senior Tasting Coordinator Fiona Adams, Tasting Coordinator Carrie Dykes, Contributing Editors Michael Schachner, Anna Lee C. Iijima, Christina Pickard, Mike DeSimone, Jeff Jenssen and Spirits Editor Kara Newman in New York; European Editor Roger Voss in France; Italian Editor Kerin O’Keefe in Switzerland; Contributing Editor Anne Krebiehl in England; Contributing Editors Virginie Boone, Jim Gordon and Matt Kettmann in California; and Contributing Editors Paul Gregutt and Sean Sullivan in Washington. If a wine was evaluated by a single reviewer, that taster’s initials appear following the note. When no initials appear following a wine review, the wine was evaluated by two or more reviewers and the score and tasting note reflect the input of all tasters. Unless otherwise stated, all spirit reviews are by Kara Newman and all beer reviews are by Lauren Buzzeo. Each review contains a score, the full name of the product, its suggested national retail price, its alcohol (abv) as reported to us by the submitter and a tasting note. If price or alcohol content cannot be confirmed, NA (not available) will be printed. Prices are for 750-ml bottles unless otherwise indicated.

97

Royal Tokaji 2013 6 Puttonyos Aszú Gold Label (Tokaji). This ethereal Tokaji Aszú is golden in color, with aromas of delicate acacia flower, honeysuckle, fresh peach and tinned apricot. The flavors come alive on the palate, showing luscious apricot, floral honeycomb and fresh pear juice. The acidity is perfectly balanced to prevent this delightful wine from being too cloying. Wilson Daniels Ltd. Cellar Selection. —J.J. abv: 10.5% Price: $80/500 ml

95

Benovia 2015 Three Sisters Chardonnay (Fort Ross-Seaview). With a persistence of lightly-toasted oak, this youthful wine offers intense luxury. A gritty, stony texture complements its delicious aspects of lemon rind and anise. Green apple, ocean spray and an underlying streak of dried herb provide additional complexity and length. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $48

TASTING METHODOLOGY AND GOALS All tastings reported in the Buying Guide are performed blind. Typically, products are tasted in peer-group flights of from 5–8 samples. Reviewers may know general information about a flight to provide context—vintage, variety or appellation—but never the producer or retail price of any given selection. When possible, products considered flawed or uncustomary are retasted. ABOUT THE SCORES Ratings reflect what our editors felt about a particular product. Beyond the rating, we encourage you to read the accompanying tasting note to learn about a product’s special characteristics. Classic 98–100: Superb 94–97: Excellent 90–93: Very Good 87–89: Good 83–86:

The pinnacle of quality. A great achievement. Highly recommended. Often good value; well recommended. Suitable for everyday consumption; often good value. Acceptable 80–82: Can be employed in casual, lesscritical circumstances. Products deemed Unacceptable (receiving a rating below 80 points) are not reviewed. SPECIAL DESIGNATIONS Editors’ Choice products are those that offer excellent quality at a price above our Best Buy range, or a product at any price with unique qualities that merit special attention. Cellar Selections are products deemed highly collectible and/or requiring time in a temperature-controlled wine cellar to reach their maximum potential. A Cellar Selection designation does not mean that a product must be stored to be enjoyed, but that cellaring will probably result in a more enjoyable bottle. In general, an optimum time for cellaring will be indicated. Best Buys are products that offer a high level of quality in relation to price. Wines meriting this award are generally priced at $15 or less, and are designated Best Buys after surpassing a specific quality-to-price ratio benchmark. SUBMITTING PRODUCTS FOR REVIEW Products should be submitted to the appropriate reviewing location as detailed in our FAQ, available online via winemag.com/ contact-us. Inquiries should be addressed to the Tasting & Review Department at 914.345.9463 or email tastings@wineenthusiast. net. There is no charge for submitting products. We make every effort to taste all products submitted for review, but there is no guarantee that all products submitted will be tasted, or that reviews will appear in the magazine. All samples must be accompanied by the appropriate submission forms, which may be downloaded from our Web site. LABELS Labels are paid promotions. Producers and importers are given the opportunity to submit labels only after the reviews have been finalized and assigned to a specific issue. Labels are reproduced and printed along with tasting notes and scores. For information on label purchases, contact Denise Valenza at 813.571.1122; fax 866.896.8786; or email dvalenza@wineenthusiast.net. Find all reviews on our fully searchable database at winemag.com/ratings

96

ONX 2015 Reckoning (Templeton Gap District). A booming but expertly balanced wine, this blend of 54% Syrah, 18% Petite Sirah, 18% Zinfandel and 10% Grenache shows aromas of black currant, black olive, black cherry, sweet woody spice and powdered hot cocoa. Elegant mocha and cappuccino notes thrive on the palate, which is brightened by penetrating acidity. It boasts perfectly polished tannins and ripe fig flavors, with a flash of dark chocolate on the finish. —M.K. abv: 15.2% Price: $58

95

Gary Farrell 2015 Russian River Selection Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). A scent of French butter offers an immediate invitation to this excellent wine. Austerity on the palate gives way to a juicy core of invigorating tangerine and white peach flavors. The gravelly minerality on the midpalate finishes softly and with ease. —V.B. abv: 13.8% Price: $35

95 96

Royal Tokaji 2013 5 Puttonyos Aszú Red Label (Tokaji). Straw colored with gold reflections, this delightful sweet wine has aromas of dried pear, fresh apricot and yellow peach. Flavors of fresh Bartlett pear, acacia honey and tinned apricots unfold on the palate. The finish is sweet, with just the right amount of acidity. Wilson Daniels Ltd. Editors’ Choice. —J.J. abv: 11% Price: $54/500 ml

Iron Horse 2012 Classic Vintage Brut (Green Valley). Combining 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Chardonnay, this wine has a depth of richness and focused, supportive acidity that work well to complement each other. Stone fruit, vanilla biscuit, cherry kirsch and green apple are all within the spectrum of flavors here, finishing with grace and a hint of spice. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $44

WINEMAG.COM | 163


BUYINGGUIDE

95

Jean-Luc Baldès 2013 Clos Triguedina The New Black Wine Malbec (Cahors). Created as an homage to the traditional powerful “black wines” that set the reputation of Cahors in Medieval times, this wine follows the old practice of heating the grape must before fermentation. The result is enormous concentration, seriously tannic ripe black fruit and considerable acidity. These are all elements that demand aging, and even at four years old this wine is just starting out. Drink from 2021 at the earliest. Vineyard Brands. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $112

95

La Spinona 2012 Bergera (Barolo). Dedicated to the current owner’s late grandfather who founded the estate, this elegant red opens with alluring aromas of blue flower, dark spice, herbs and new leather. The savory palate doles out juicy Marasca cherry, raspberry compote, clove and licorice framed by polished tannins. It’s already approachable, but will offer fantastic imbibing for another decade. Drink through 2027. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $38

95

MacPhail 2015 Mardikian Estate Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). This marks the debut of consulting winemaker Matthew Courtney’s take on the estate site. It dazzles in complex notes of exotic Asian spice, lavender and crushed rock, while focused acidity provides a context of substance and depth. —V.B. abv: 13.9% Price: $85

164 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

95

95

95

95

95

95

Metzker Family Estates 2015 Laurent Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). Originating from a small, new producer based in the Napa Valley, this shows crushed stone and golden oak. Its essential succulence is that of high-toned citrus and apple kissed in caramel. A tease of lingering acidity makes it undeniably fresh and deliciously crisp. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $65

Piro 2015 Presqu’ile Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Though still exploring the zesty acid-driven side of Pinot Noir, Marc Piro adds depth and richness to this bottling. Red cherry compote and cordial meet fennel, dill, tarragon and tapenade on the nose. The extremely lively and fresh palate unleashes an array of flower petals, just-pressed tart berries and Kalamata olives. A deep structure and thorough acidity complete the picture. —M.K. abv: 13% Price: $44

Talley 2015 Oliver’s Vineyard Chardonnay (Edna Valley). Plump aromas of lemon mousse, meringue, wet limestone, white flowers and ripe key lime show on the nose of this excellent bottling. The palate bursts with flavors of cool cream, sea salt and lemon pith, set against a chalky texture. A mysteriously compelling experience. —M.K. abv: 14.1% Price: $38

Valdivieso NV Caballo Loco Number Sixteen (Central Valley). Valdivieso’s nonvintage mystery blend is always one of Chile’s most curious wines, and #16 happens to be superb. An opening of rich black-cherry aromas tips towards spice cake with raisins. A lush, saturated palate holds delicious flavors of chocolaty black fruits, while on the finish a dark smokiness takes over. Drink now–2023. El Catador Corp. Editors’ Choice. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $70

Vina Robles 2013 Suendero (Paso Robles). This is a show-stopping blend of 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot and 9% Malbec by veteran winemaker Kevin Willenborg. A deep shade of mauve, the wine coats the glass and unleashes intense, lavish aromas of cassis, fig paste, mint and tarragon. It’s as soft as it looks on the palate, where baked black cherry, roast beef, turned earth and lilac flavors ride luxurious yet firmly structured tannins. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 14.8% Price: $56

Walt 2015 Rita’s Crown Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Despite amazingly luscious aromas of star anise, stewed black cherry, black currant pie and coffee cake, this bottling still offers a prominent line of wet gravel and river stone minerality on the nose. Exotic mulberry and black cherry flavors ride atop the soft tannins and an underlying acidity, while white pepper dust and menthol unfold on the finish. —M.K. abv: 15.1% Price: $75


94 94

Attilio Ghisolfi 2013 Bricco Visette (Barolo). This wine is intense in aromas of violet, rose, underbrush, dark-skinned berry and spice. Tightly wound and vibrant, the taut, elegantly structured palate delivers Marasca cherry, black raspberry, cinnamon and clove framed in firm fine-grained tannins and bright acidity. It’s still youthfully austere, so give it time to fully develop. Drink 2013–2035. Quintessential Wines. Cellar Selection. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $90

94

Daou 2015 Cuvée Lizzy (Adelaida District). This blend of 44% Malbec, 33% Petit Verdot and 23% Cabernet Franc shows lots of meaty notes on the nose, including both the charred edges and raw center of a prime rib slice, alongside blueberry and cedar oil. The blueberry core holds strong into the sip, where finely chiseled tannins provide a chalky mouthfeel and carry more flavors of black olive and charred wood. —M.K. abv: 14.7% Price: $75

94 94

Aveleda 2011 Grande Follies Vinhas da Quinta da Aguieira (Bairrada). This is the top wine from the Bairrada Quinta of Aveleda. It is hugely rich, concentrated and dark, with a solid structure. It has just arrived at maturity, giving the wine extra spice, black fruits and a dusty texture. It’s a big wine in all senses, but is ready to drink now. Aveleda Inc. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $30

Dominus 2014 Napanook (Napa Valley). From the producer’s Yountville estate, this blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc offers thyme, stone and black pepper flavors within a leathery texture. Concentrated and structured, it further shines with black currant and tobacco notes that give it a distinct herbal edge. Editors' Choice. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $69

Gary Farrell 2015 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). Crisp acidity buoys sharp red fruit in this delectable wine—a blend of multiple sites across the appellation. Medium build, it shows youthful tannins and oak that supports without intrusion, allowing the crunch of cranberry, strawberry and pomegranate to speak forcefully. —V.B. abv: 13.9% Price: $45

94

Hertelendy 2014 Chardonnay (Napa Valley). Fermented in all new French oak, this wine opens with an enchanting nose of floral beauty and freshness. Its sophistication follows through on the rich, balanced palate of caramel, papaya and crème brûlée, the lushness countered by a stony grit. —V.B. abv: 14.7% Price: $85

94 94 94

Benovia 2015 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). Floral, with a beautiful oak imprint, this wine is deep gold in color and sharply satisfying in complex layers of tangerine and grapefruit. Medium bodied and well integrated, it impresses from start to finish, ending in a bite of crunchy green apple dipped in honey. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $36

Duckhorn 2014 Three Palms Vineyard Merlot (Napa Valley). Soft and layered, this perennially impressive vineyard-designate speaks highly of the variety, showing balanced offerings of plum, dark cherry, leather and spice. A smoky oak character lies beneath the fruit, complementing it well, while an expansive tannic presence supports the wine’s overall breadth and depth. Big boned, this is built to age yet entirely enjoyable now. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $98

Iron Horse 2013 Brut X (Green Valley). Extra dry in style, this sparkling blend of 68% Pinot Noir and 32% Chardonnay succeeds dramatically in its ability to be salty as a cracker and crisp as a bite of green apple, followed by a lemon chaser. Tart and lengthy, it has persistent acidity and purity that’s hard to resist. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $52

WINEMAG.COM | 165


BUYINGGUIDE

94

Iron Horse 2013 Wedding Cuvée (Green Valley). Exuberant in mousse, this wine is luxurious and rich, the perfect quaff for any occasion. Made from 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, and aged for three years, it’s bright in bolts of green apple and strawberry. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $44

94

94

94

94

94

94

94

Jarvis 2013 Estate Grown Cave Fermented Cabernet Franc (Napa Valley). This varietal wine is toasty in caramelized oak and richly interwoven with flavors and aromas of pencil shavings, plum and black currant. Grippy, with a velvety texture, it provides structure and power in equal parts. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $115

La Crema 2015 Shell Ridge Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). This is a remarkable, lovely wine, made from a site in the extremes of Annapolis. It is delightfully complex and layered, with a richly concentrated palate of dark cherry, blueberry and Asian five spice, with spikes of sea breeze and tea. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $60

La Spinona 2011 Sorì Gepin (Barolo). Alluring aromas of fragrant blue flower, woodland berry, forest floor and pipe tobacco slowly take shape in this compelling wine. Gorgeous and fullbodied, the palate delivers ripe morello cherry while licorice, cinnamon and crushed herb add depth. Polished tannins provide the elegant framework. Drink through 2026. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. Editors’ Choice. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $38

ONX 2015 Praetorian (Templeton Gap District). Blackberry syrup, vanilla, mocha and a flash of mint are cut by a rocky edge on the nose of this blend of 58% Tempranillo, 21% Grenache and 21% Malbec. Extremely soft and welcoming tannins meet with solid acidity on the palate, where rich black fruit, hoisin sauce and Chinese five-spice flavors arise. —M.K. abv: 14.4% Price: $48

Royal Tokaji 2016 Late Harvest (Tokaji). This late harvest wine from Hungary is comprised of Furmint, Hárslevelű and Muscat. It has aromas of acacia flower and pear, with flavors of apricot, pear juice and dried rosemary. The finish is pleasantly sweet without being too cloying. Wilson Daniels Ltd. —J.J. abv: 11% Price: $21/500 ml

94

José Maria da Fonseca 2015 José de Sousa (Alentejano). Named after the Fonseca estate in Alentejo, this wine is impressively rich and structured. It has firm tannins that are balanced by dense black fruits and crisp acidity. A blend of Grand Noir (the local name for Baga), Trincadeira and Aragonês, it’s a very complete wine, fermented in clay amphora and stone lagars. It’s still maturing, so drink from 2019. Palm Bay International. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $20

166 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Montemar 2012 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Broad, welcoming aromas of strawberry and baked red currant are lifted by mint leaf, star anise and white pepper on the nose. Pure raspberry flavors kick-start the palate, followed by waves of anise, bay leaf and juniper, proving this to be a dynamic and minty sip. —M.K. abv: 14.1% Price: $50

Sextant 2015 Kamal Cabernet Sauvignon (El Pomar District). Very dark-purple fruit meet with crushed black rocks, dense purple flowers and roasted beef on the nose of this lush and delicious bottling, which is bolstered by bits of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. Soft black cherry, caramel and vanilla flavors coat the palate, with slate, cocoa, espresso bean and graham cracker touches. —M.K. abv: 15.2% Price: $48


94

Two Sisters 2015 Courtney’s Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills). Pungent aromas of tight-grained oak meet with almonds, pecans and lemon sorbet on the opulent attention-grabbing nose. Woody flavors of sandalwood and cedar continue to the palate, which is crisp, clean and salty but not unctuous at all, with tangy citrus on the finish. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 14.3% Price: $55

93

Addendum 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). A Napa Valley wine from the Central Coast folks at Fess Parker Winery, this Cab was aged for more than two years in 67% new French oak. Briary, it drips in brawny black fruit and highlights of tobacco, clove, leather and black pepper. An uplifting hit of acidity maintains a balance against the heft. —V.B. abv: 14.9% Price: $90

93

Addendum 2014 Skellenger Lane Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford). A 100% varietal, site-specific wine from the heart of the appellation, this succeeds in a herbal persistence and lean nose. Red currant, cassis and anise wrap around thick tannins, with lingering notes of clove and cedar. —V.B. abv: 14.9% Price: $95

93

Aesthete 2016 Dry Stack Vineyard White (Bennett Valley). Complex and composed, this vineyard-designate wine is brightly decorated in flavors of grapefruit pith and lemon zest, with zippy acidity. As it develops in the glass, richer elements of peach and apricot flesh out the palate with succulent aplomb. —V.B. abv: 14.4% Price: $55

93

Benovia 2012 Blanc de Blancs (Russian River Valley). Made entirely from Chardonnay, this is a bright sparkling wine, bubbling in acidity and dry, leavened layers of apple and pear. A creaminess of vanilla balances the crispness, making for a successful small-production sparkler. —V.B. abv: 12% Price: $50

93

93

93

93

Angove 2015 Warboy’s Vineyard Grenache (McLaren Vale). From 53-year-old organic and biodynamically farmed Grenache vines, this elegant wine could easily age for 10 years but is drinkable now. Bursting with red cherries, strawberries, herbs, vanilla and violets, the palate’s ultrafine tannins are backed by juicy fruit and a long, herbal, cranberry finish. Trinchero Family Estates. Editors’ Choice. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $75

Artesa 2014 Galatea Tempranillo-Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma County-Napa County). Housed within a beautifully artful bottle, this blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon does justice to both sides of the equation, offering clove, cedar and juicy black cherry within soft, rounded corners of texture. It’s fleshy, lush and full bodied. —V.B. abv: 14.6% Price: $90

Colombo 2013 Apertura Pinot Nero (Piemonte). Fragrant and refined, this polished red opens with enticing scents of woodland berry, menthol, pressed violet and a whiff of dried herb. The creamy, luminous palate delivers strawberry, raspberry and cake spice alongside fresh acidity and refined tannins. Panebianco. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $27

Fess Parker 2015 Ashley’s Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). This elegant bottling is named after the late actor-turned-vintner’s daughter, who still runs the company. It features well-integrated aromas of cherry, rhubarb and smoke. That smoke also shows on the palate, where piquant raspberry, dried lavender, thyme, rosemary and allspice sizzle toward a lively finish. —M.K. abv: 14.3% Price: $50

WINEMAG.COM | 167


BUYINGGUIDE

93

93

93

93

93

93

93

93

93

Fess Parker 2015 Clone 115 Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Fresh and easy aromas of raspberry, plum candy, dark rose petals, boysenberry and allspice show on the nose of this clonal study. The palate blends big, joyous purple fruit and grippy tannic tension, also presenting lavender and Sichuan peppercorn tones. —M.K. abv: 13.8% Price: $58

Fess Parker 2015 Pommard Clone Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Lilacs and wisteria combine for a floral and approachable nose in this clonal study, which is also loaded with clove, peppercorn, rosemary and elderberry aromas. It’s soft and lush on the palate, with rich plum and black cherry flavors leveled by notes of anise, potpourri, fresh mint and Earl Grey tea. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $58

Garavin 2013 Garrett Brown Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Atlas Peak). This is a wellcomposed and memorable wine. It offers a wealth of complexity in dusty graphite and black cherry, teased by wisps of soy and tobacco. The finish shows spicy clove that lasts for days. —V.B. abv: 14.4% Price: $105

168 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Iron Horse 2013 Rainbow Cuvée (Green Valley). After three years en tirage, this wellevolved wine is heady and floral, made to highlight and celebrate diversity. Creamy and lush on the palate, it has a rounded richness of stone fruit. Made predominantly from Pinot Noir, it has an accentuated taste of strawberry shortcake. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $65

Jean-Luc Baldès 2009 Clos Triguedina Probus Malbec (Cahors). Named after Roman emperor Probus, who allowed the replanting of vines in France, this finely mature wine is smooth, with a dry core. That structure supports secondary flavors and spice, which add to its juicy acidity and overall richness. Drink now. Vineyard Brands. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $68

Jezreel 2014 Adumim Dry Red (Israel). Dark ruby in color, this wine has a bouquet of black cherry, lavender and juniper berry. It offers pleasure from first sip through the fruit filled, smoky finish, with velvety tannins and flavors of cassis, black plum, espresso, chocolate and a hint of green pepper. Kosher. Royal Wine Corporation. Editors’ Choice. —M.D. abv: 14.8% Price: $30

Longboard 2015 Rochioli Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). Dark gold in color, a strong note of apple skin gives way to tight acidity on the entry of this wine. As it develops in the glass, it becomes plush and fleshy, imparting complex elements of candied quince and orange blossom. —V.B. abv: 13.6% Price: $49

ONX 2015 Level 22 (Templeton Gap District). Rich black plum, soy, salt, pepper, grilled pork fat and a touch of purple flowers show on the nose of this blend of 55% Syrah, 28% Mourvèdre, 15% Petite Sirah and 2% Viognier. It’s ripe, luxurious and savory on the palate as well, with vanilla, caramel and smashed black fruit, but upright tannins and strong acidity keep it within balanced bounds. —M.K. abv: 15.3% Price: $54

Peachy Canyon 2015 D Block Zinfandel (Paso Robles). This Zinfandel project comes from a block that combined plantings from historic vineyards across the state, and the result is excellent. Aromas of red and purple flowers meet with wild sagebrush, roasted coffee and persistent blackcherry ripeness. The mouthfeel is soft but with an upright tannic structure, delivering flavors of blackberry, cocoa and dried sage. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $85


93

Piro 2015 Points West Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Marc Piro continued to hone his craft under Jim Clendenen at Au Bon Climat, and that expertise shows in this bottling, which combines Presqu’ile and Bien Nacido Vineyards to produce a wine that’s both zesty in the underripe style yet full of fruit as well. Aromas of wild oregano, thyme, tapenade and red cherry lead into a palate full of tantalizing acidity, with tart Montmorency cherry, tangy tomato and fennel spice. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 13.1% Price: $32

93

Point & Line 2015 Reserve Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). This elegant bottling by two service-industry veterans shows tons of potpourri, dried lavender, black raspberry and red plum on the nose. The flavors are quite broad and inviting, with hibiscus and ripe tomato meshing into juniper and clove. It’s light in mouthfeel and weight, but well structured. —M.K. abv: 13.4% Price: $55

93

Robert Mondavi 2014 Cabernet Franc (Oakville). A majority varietal wine, this also includes 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Malbec and 2% Merlot. Fleshy and full bodied, it offers notes of cedar, graphite and ripe black currant atop a lengthy, classy and structured body. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $65

93

Roederer Estate NV Estate Bottled Brut (Anderson Valley). This is an assertive, flavorful and robust wine, with a medium to full body, a mouthfilling texture and fine-beaded bubbles. A creamy viscosity and wonderful layers of butter, apple, vanilla and ginger make for a delicious palate. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 12% Price: $24

93

93

93

93

93

San Simeon 2013 Petite Sirah (Paso Robles). This is a wine for those who crave density and ripeness. Black currant, mint, fudge and burnt caramel aromas show powerfully on the nose, while the strong tannic frame leaps onto the palate to deliver caramel, milk chocolate and black cherrysyrup flavors. Roasted coffee and butterscotch touches lead into a long Cognac-like finish. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

Sanctuary 2014 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Toasted sandalwood, hints of sagebrush, crushed pencils, tart cranberry and vanilla brioche show on the nose of this bottling. The tannic structure is light but shows structure and tension, with rich flavors of cherry, cola, vanilla and clove. —M.K. abv: 14.3% Price: $40

Santa Rita 2013 Casa Real Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley). Spicy, briary cassis and wild berry aromas come with notes of mountain herbs. As per usual, Casa Real 2013 is in great shape; the palate is lush and cushioned but stern and balanced. Spicy cassis, plum and oaky flavors finish with a mix of wood spice and dried-fruit notes. Drink through 2026. Palm Bay International. Cellar Selection. —M.S. abv: 14.1% Price: $85

Ventisquero 2013 Enclave Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley). Enclave is Ventisquero Winemaker Felipe Tosso’s collaboration with John Duval from Australia. The result is a smoky, oaky Cabernet, with subtle black cherry and cassis aromas that turn more earthy with air. A layered and structured palate is home to flavors of tobacco, chocolate, berry fruits and cassis. On the finish, oak remains out front. Drink through 2022. Austral Wines. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $70

Wild Horse 2014 Cheval Sauvage Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley). Reticent aromas of lemon peel, honeysuckle, meringue, tangerine, sea salt and chalk show on the nose of this top-end white from one of the region’s pioneering properties. Rounded pear and apple show on the palate, but it’s chalky and restrained, with a vein of grapefruit peel and lime pith. —M.K. abv: 14.9% Price: $35

WINEMAG.COM | 169


BUYINGGUIDE

93

Wild Horse 2013 Cheval Sauvage Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Mulberry, cherry, iron, raw beef and roasted pork aromas make for a gamy entry to this bottling, which also shows bay leaf and sage on the nose. Those sagebrush qualities are strong on the palate, which is reminiscent of an Asian-spiced meat dish, with rhubarb and pomegranate lending freshness. —M.K. abv: 14.5 Price: $65

92

Barra of Mendocino 2015 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino). Concentrated earthy, meaty and spicy aromas precede layered, dense flavors of espresso, cassis and cherries as this full-bodied, velvety wine coats the palate and clings to the sides of the mouth. It has extraordinary depth, showing lavish but appropriate oak accents and a delicious lingering finish. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

92

92

92

Bouza 2015 B6 Parcela Única Tannat (Canelones). Dried blackberry aromas include welcome notes of cigar box and tar. This moderately complex Tannat is lush, round and smooth. Flavors of black plum and blackberry are supported by toasty oak, while this tastes blackened and spicy on a silky smooth finish. Drink through 2022. Elixir Wine Group. Editors’ Choice. —M.S. abv: 15% Price: $43

92

92

92

Artesa 2014 Tempranillo (Alexander Valley). From the Carneros-based producer with its roots in Spain, this succeeds in its velvety smooth texture, juicy fruit and supportive acidity. Black licorice and spiced plum are given additional richness by a jolt of dark chocolate. —V.B. abv: 14.7% Price: $50

Brutocao 2014 Contento Vineyard Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino). This seductive wine has aromas of mint and cassis leading to deliciously ripe and complex fruit flavors within a creamy texture. While braced by finegrained tannins, the wine remains almost silky on the palate, bringing cherry, blueberry and mocha flavors that linger on the finish. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

Chalone 2013 Estate Grown Grenache (Chalone). Classic and compelling aromas of rose petal, candied boysenberry, hibiscus reduction and vanilla brioche show on the nose of this wine from a rugged appellation east of the Salinas Valley. The firmly structured palate shows rose petals and tart berries, dusted by fennel pollen, white pepper and chaparral spice. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

92

Balletto 2015 Sexton Hill Vineyard Estate Grown Estate Bottled Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). With a fruity exuberance of crisp cranberry and red cherry, this wine delights in touches of nuanced herb and earth. Light bodied and refreshing, it maintains elegant complexity and depth, a lovely example of site and winemaking. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $42

170 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Breathless NV Blanc de Blancs Méthode Champenoise (North Coast). Intricate baking spice aromas and buttery apple-tart flavors meet a delicate yet expansive mouthfeel in this light-bodied, irresistible and off-dry wine. The spicy elements weave in and out of the silky texture and continue to echo on the finish. —J.G. abv: 12.5% Price: $32

Colombo 2011 Silvì Metodo Classico Riserva Rosé (Alta Langa). Aromas of apple, berry, pastry cream and bread dough delicately carry over to the crisp, creamy palate, along with Rainier cherry, citrus and a hint of baking spice. It’s lovely and balanced, showing an elegant mousse and bright acidity. Panebianco. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $55


92

Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) 2013 Le Dix de Los Vascos Estate Grown (Colchagua Costa). This cooler-vintage Le Dix, which is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, is one of the best on record. Dry, lightly oaked aromas of ripe berry and cassis include a hint of vanilla. A compact palate delivers blunt-force red-berry and black currant flavors. On the finish, this simmers with modest heat as well as oak and café mocha flavors. Drink through 2026. Esprit du Vin. Cellar Selection. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $65

92

Gary Farrell 2015 Maffei Vineyard Zinfandel (Russian River Valley). This is a floral, juicy and full-bodied wine that feels lighter than its weight. A soft, supple texture wraps around rustic baked fruit and crisp, persistent acidity that provides substantial freshness. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $50

92

Hendry 2016 Hendry Vineyard Albariño (Napa Valley). Fermented in stainless steel, this is a dry, crisp expression of the variety from the southern ends of the appellation. Flinty and stony in minerality, it offers lasting acidity that refreshes alongside a distinct green-apple note. —V.B. abv: 13.8% Price: $22

92 92

Ess & See 2014 Tempranillo (South Australia). Despite the broad South Australia appellation listed on the label, this small-batch wine is from a single vineyard located between Barossa and the Adelaide Hills. It’s meaty and stalky, with raisiny dark fruit, cocoa powder and Dr. Pepper notes. The palate changes directions but is equally delicious in juicy cranberry, earth and herbs, with tightly grained tannins and lively acidity. Biagio Cru & Estate Wines, LLC. Editors’ Choice. —C.P. abv: 14% Price: $28

Golan Heights Winery 2013 Yarden Syrah (Galilee). This deep black-cherry colored wine has a fruity nose of pomegranate and strawberry. It is smooth on the palate, with flavors of black currant, plum, white chocolate, lavender and a hint of baking spice. The finish is characterized by a splash of tart strawberry. Kosher. Yarden Wines, Inc. —M.D. abv: 14.5% Price: $29

92

Herdade do Esporão 2013 Canto do Zé Cruz Aragonês (Alentejano). Made from Aragonês—the southern Portuguese name for Tinta Roriz, also called Tempranillo in Spain—this wine is one of a series of limited-production, single-variety wines. Structured tannins and ample fruit on the palate match with the inherent smoothness that is typical of the grape. It is a deliciously rich wine that balances power with elegance. Drink from 2018. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $39

92 92

Fontanafredda 2013 Vigna La Rosa (Barolo). Menthol, licorice and woodland berry aromas follow over to the luminous, elegant palate, along with white pepper and wild cherry. Bright acidity and firm, refined tannins lend both balance and finesse. Drink 2020–2033. Palm Bay International. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $119

Grevino 2014 Estate Vineyards Grenache (Santa Maria Valley). A savory version of Grenache, this bottling’s hints of black pepper and thyme notes pair well with the boysenberry, carnation and rose petal aromas. The mouthfeel is rich and spicy in white and black pepper, which decorate the tart and lively black-raspberry core. —M.K. abv: 15.37% Price: $55

92

Hess 2014 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (Mount Veeder). Juicy black cherry and grippy oak are the stars of the show in this delicious red wine, softened by the addition of 16% Malbec. Elongated tannins support the leathery texture as highlights of cedar and sage play on. —V.B. abv: 14.6% Price: $75

WINEMAG.COM | 171


BUYINGGUIDE

92 92

Hess 2014 The Lion Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (Mount Veeder). The top of the producer’s pecking order, this estate-grown red employs 17% Malbec, a house specialty, which adds richness and grip to the structure. Leathery tannins, clove and black pepper ride along layers of red cherry and cassis, finishing fully integrated and powerful in weight. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $185

92

Materra Cunat Family Vineyards 2013 Cunat Reserve (Oak Knoll District). Though billed as a red blend, this is made from 98% Merlot and does justice to the variety. Complete on the entry in ripe fruit, it offers dusty cedar, graphite and oak elements within a cool-climate sensibility of savory grace and balance. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $110

Point & Line 2015 Gold Coast Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Very light in the glass, this bottling shows tons of underripe cranberry, dried rose petals, marjoram, white pepper and tangy olives on the nose. The light-bodied palate shows similar qualities, with fully extracted flavors of tart red fruits, purple flowers and white tea. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $42

92 92

Iron Horse 2013 National Geographic Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs (Green Valley). Made to benefit the exploratory organization, this high-toned stunner exudes flavors of Gravenstein apple followed by a slight richness of marzipan. Moderate acidity and weight makes it a fine companion for the table, finishing with a sense of welcome fullness. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $50

92

Metzker Family Estates 2015 Laurent Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir (Fort RossSeaview). Fresh and lean as a sea breeze and tautly wrought in tense acidity, this memorable wine is bright and crisp. The palate shows earthy flavors met by subtle notes of black cherry and strawberry. —V.B. abv: 13% Price: $55

92 92

Jezreel 2014 Kerem Shfeya Carignan (Samson). This inky, red-violet colored wine offers aromas of black plum and lavender. Flavors of black cherry, raspberry, vanilla, espresso and violet sit among silky tannins that offer a pleasing textural experience to the entire palate. The finish is notable for a short burst of orange zest. Kosher. Royal Wine Corporation. Editors’ Choice. —M.D. abv: 14.25% Price: $40

172 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

ONX 2015 Crux (Templeton Gap District). Deep and lavish aromas of baked black currant, caramel, condensed violets and fudge get a licorice lift on the nose of this blend of 41% Syrah, 41% Grenache and 18% Mourvèdre. It’s fairly nimble on the palate given the bombastic nose, with balanced flavors of blackberry, vanilla and orange zest proving quite the crowd-pleaser. —M.K. abv: 15.1% Price: $54

Point & Line 2015 John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Concentrated aromas of violets and rose buds meet with black raspberry on the nose of this bottling. Quite light in the glass, it’s full of tart red-fruit flavors, from cranberry to red-plum skins, with herbal tones on the midpalate: oregano, marjoram and dried lavender. The finish is grippy and driven by menthol. —M.K. abv: 13.4% Price: $42

92

Roederer Estate NV Estate Bottled Brut Rosé (Anderson Valley). Crisp peach and red-fruit flavors combine with vibrant acidity and energizing, fine bubbles to create a balanced and rich sparkling wine. A spicy, crisp fruit character lingers long on the finish. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 12% Price: $29


92

Sequum 2014 Four Soil Melange Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). This wine offers an austere entry of crunchy red fruit akin to cranberry and pomegranate. Accents of clove and leather ride along toward a lengthy finish of broad expansion and balanced strength. —V.B. abv: 14.4% Price: $60

91 91

5OS Project 2014 Montepulciano (South Australia). This wine shows a grape jelly note that might be a little on the ripe side, but the cedary, cigar box characters balance things out beautifully. The palate is medium bodied, with a long line of focused acidity, herbs, an earthy core and a long cigar-box finish. Biagio Cru & Estate Wines, LLC. —C.P. abv: 13% Price: $25

Bouza 2015 Monte Vide Eu Tannat-MerlotTempranillo (Montevideo). A rich, heady bouquet offers aromas of blackberry, sandalwood, prune and coconut. The palate is tightly layered, displaying a firm grip along with woody blackberry, spice, tea and herbal flavors. The well-built finish is muscular through the final note. This blend of Tannat, Merlot and Tempranillo resembles a modern Rioja. Drink through 2022. Elixir Wine Group. Editors’ Choice. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $60

92

Sextant NV Genoa Estate Grown (El Pomar District). Blackberry ice cream, vanilla and licorice meet with fudge and espresso on the immensely rich nose of this blend of 55% Petite Sirah, 26% Zinfandel and 19% Syrah. Blueberry and cassis dominate the palate, which is soft in texture and full of chocolate, cherry cordial and fig flavors. —M.K. abv: 13.8% Price: $80

92

Toccata 2013 Riserva (Santa Barbara County). Black pepper, espresso, dark berries and woody herbs show on the nose of this blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Sangiovese, 13% Petit Verdot, 6% Merlot and 6% Freisa from the Los Alamos and Valley View Vineyards. Stewed blackberries and more pepper show on the densely structured, acid-laced palate, which also offers coffee and dark chocolate flavors. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $38

91

Barra of Mendocino 2016 Estate Grown Chardonnay (Mendocino). This full-bodied wine does a superb job of blending luscious fruit flavors of Anjou pear and fresh fig with a spice rack of nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon. Good concentration and depth help it feel full and creamy on the palate and extend the finish nicely. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 14.5% Price: $18

91

Bouza 2015 Reserva Tannat (Montevideo). If you’re going to try just one Uruguayan Tannat, then let it be Bouza. This friendly, nicely balanced offering opens on forest floor and dusty berry aromas. Toasty, peppery oak lends spice notes to core berry fruit, while the finish is lush and round. Drink through 2020. Elixir Wine Group. Editors’ Choice. —M.S. abv: 15% Price: $22

91

Bouza 2017 Albariño (Montevideo). Beautifully composed white-flower and citrus aromas open this Uruguayan Albariño that in many ways is similar to those from Galicia in Spain. A juicy, bright palate offers flavors of lemon and orange, while bright acidity provides backbone and length to the finish. Drink through 2018. Elixir Wine Group. Editors’ Choice. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

91

Callan 2016 Boushey Vineyard Grenache Blanc (Yakima Valley). This is an impressive wine from a new producer. It’s aromatically expressive in notes of ripe apple, star fruit and pear, with lemonpith accents. The melon and citrus flavors are rounded, fresh and clean, offering a great balance of acidity. Editors’ Choice. —S.S. abv: 14.3% Price: $25

WINEMAG.COM | 173


BUYINGGUIDE

91 91

Château Magnol 2015 Haut-Médoc. This richly structured wine exudes the ripeness of the vintage. It has full tannins, dense black currant and berry flavors and a refreshing line of acidity. The tannins are still firm, needing some time to unwind. Drink from 2020. Barton & Guestier USA. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $30

Garavin 2013 Linked Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Knights Valley). This is reminiscent of a cool-climate, Old World wine—balanced and complex, with cedar, sage and dusty graphite notes. With just enough thickness and concentration, it offers additional flavors of plum, cassis and red currant that provide a tangy tartness and a sense of freshness. —V.B. abv: 14.4% Price: $76

91

Duckhorn 2015 Chardonnay (Napa Valley). This is a concentrated and deliciously lush white wine, highlighted in thick notions of honey, pear and swirls of caramel. Expressive and ripe, it does justice to the warm-vintage and focused winemaking. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $35

174 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Hess 2015 The Lioness Estate Grown Chardonnay (Napa Valley). This estate-grown wine is exuberantly lemony and floral on the nose while the palate boasts lush, concentrated flavors of honey, oak, vanilla and baked pear. Full bodied, it wears its oak well, allowing it to speak in tandem with the ripe fruit. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $60

91 91

Garzón 2015 Single Vineyard Tannat (Uruguay). This deeply colored Tannat is an indicator of what this young winery will do in good vintages. After robust dark-fruit aromas make their mark, this feels lush but also tannic. Black-fruit flavors are aided by notes of chocolate and mixed spices, while it finishes sturdy on a savory aftertaste. Drink through 2020. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits. Editors’ Choice. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

Jean-Luc Baldès 2014 Clos Triguedina Malbec (Cahors). The Occitan origin of this estate’s name, me trigo da dina, means “longing to dine,” and this richly endowed wine satisfies its remit. It has plenty of young tannins, which are sustained by ripe, juicy black fruit and ample acidity. Blending the three Cahors red grapes—Malbec, Merlot and Tannat—has made a wine with a fine future. Drink from 2019. Vineyard Brands. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $34

91

91

Eleven Eleven 2014 Bacigalupi Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). This luxurious wine revolves around a velvety texture of pure decadence and full-bodied pleasure. Earthy in clove and mushroom, the fruit dives deep into rich aspects of dark cherry and huckleberry. —V.B. abv: 14.9% Price: $65

91

91

Herdade do Esporão 2015 Private Selection Branco (Alentejano). This wine, made from 100% Sémillon, is aged in wood and richly endowed. The palate has a smooth texture, with ripe apricot and citrus alongside a hint of a herbs. Drink now. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $28

Jezreel 2014 Kerem Kedesh Syrah (Galil). Dark violet in the glass, this wine has aromas of blackberry and smoked meat. Hefty but not overpowering tannins create a backdrop for flavors of black plum, cassis, toffee, juniper and chocolate covered coffee bean. Fruit flavors and a plush mouthfeel power through the smooth toffee-laced finish. Kosher. Royal Wine Corporation. —M.D. abv: 15.1% Price: $40


91

L’Ecole No. 41 2016 Chardonnay (Columbia Valley). A blend of fruit from Schmitt, Evergreen and Oasis vineyards, this opens with appealing aromas of toast, candy corn, almond and pear. The pear and melon flavors are crisp and rounded, with a lightly creamy feel heightening the interest. Editors’ Choice. —S.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $22

91

91

91

91

Metz Road 2015 Riverview Vineyard Estate Grown Pinot Noir (Monterey). This bottling from the Scheid family, one of the region’s largest growers, shows aromas of baked red cherry in a vanilla pie crust as well as marjoram, bay leaf and cinnamon. The palate balances tart and ripe cranberry and pomegranate with both dried and fresh herbs. —M.K. abv: 14% Price: $35

91

La Crema 2015 Kelli Ann Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). From an estate site, this wine offers power and concentration. Creamy in texture, the generosity of fruit is balanced by notes of stone, toasted oak and French butter, making for a wonderfully complete experience on the palate. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $40

Michael David 2015 7 Deadly Red (Lodi). Powerful oaky elements meet very ripe and concentrated fruit flavors in this deeply colored, bold and full-bodied wine. Charcoal, wood smoke and clove aromas are followed by blackberry jam and black-cherry flavors, while light, smoky and peppery nuances weave through them. While the first whiff is oaky, everything comes together well on the palate and finish. —J.G. abv: 15% Price: $16

91

Method 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). This wine is dark in color, with an enticing violet aroma, possibly from the 15% Petit Verdot in the mix. Spicy clove, black pepper and woody cedar form a full-bodied construct upon which a depth of tannin presides—a powerful statement that mellows in the glass. Additional notes of dried herb, cassis and currant unfold with time. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $40

Oak Farm 2015 Barbera (Lodi). Alluring toast and spice aromas lead to bright red cherry and raspberry flavors that are well accented by oak flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper. The wine has good complexity combined with a firm and appetizing texture due to moderate tannins and acidity. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 15% Price: $25

Odfjell 2013 Orzada Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley). Deep black-fruit aromas are saturated and poised. On the palate, this is a bit jammy and pulpy but it delivers. Extracted flavors of blackberry, coffee and blackened oak finish with depth and lushness. Drink through 2020. Foley Family Wines. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $21

91 91

Ms. Behave 2014 Petit Verdot (Paso Robles). Densely packed rose, black cherries, sandalwood and a flash of pepper show in this bottling—a new project featuring a risqué label by Peachy Canyon. Pepper, smoke and roasted pork are evident on the dry palate, alongside a hint of lilac. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $38

ONX 2016 Indie Rosé (Paso Robles). This is a well-rounded rosé that is bound to disappear quickly from the table, with aromas of strawberry, bubble gum and peach riding a rainy-day springtime freshness on the nose. The palate explodes with acidity and textural grip, carrying both ripeness to satisfy New World fans and the deft tactile experience of Old World selections. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $19

WINEMAG.COM | 175


BUYINGGUIDE

91

ONX 2015 Caliber (Templeton Gap District). This blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Malbec begins with a very smooth nose of baked plums, toasted bread, coffee, vanilla and barbecue char. The palate is approachable and easy to enjoy, with flavors of black cherry, milk chocolate and baking spice. Both the tannins and acidity are low and hiding in the background. —M.K. abv: 15% Price: $65

91

Rutherford Ranch 2015 Two Range (Napa Valley). This wine offers high-toned cherry amidst a fresh, acidic backbone. The secondary characteristics are defined by cedar, forest floor, coffee and leather. Light in body, this is a great crowd pleaser. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

91

Sextant 2015 Holystone Zinfandel (Paso Robles). Dark in the glass, this bottling shows strawberry, black plum and gingerbread aromas on the inviting nose. The mouthfeel is airy and relatively light, with a strong tannic tension that frames flavors of dark purple fruit and baking spice. —M.K. abv: 14.8% Price: $29

91 91

Rancho Sisquoc 2015 Tre Vini Flood Family Vineyards (Santa Barbara County). This blend of 42% Petit Verdot, 36% Sangiovese and 22% Merlot shows strawberry, light caramel and expressive baking-spice aromas on the nose. A powerful burst of acidity starts the palate, which combines red currant and purple-flower flavors into a very interesting and lively wine. —M.K. abv: 14% Price: $22

91

Santa Ema 2014 Catalina (Maipo Alto). A dark color and rich, jammy, baked aromas of charred oak and lush berries are the opening to this blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Carmenère and 8% Cabernet Franc. Moderately bold acidity and firm tannins lend energy and structure to the palate, while this tastes of blackberry, cassis and spicy oak. A slightly hot finish with a lot of wood spice is the closing act. Drink through 2021. Guarachi Wine Partners. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $50

Two Sisters 2015 Lindsay’s Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Plump and somewhat jammy flavors of vanilla and baked cherry meet with soft clove dust on the nose of this bottling by the Foley family. The palate is tight in bright acidity, with flavors of red plum and cracked pepper that linger long on the finish. —M.K. abv: 14.3% Price: $80

91 91

Rancho Sisquoc 2014 Cellar Select Flood Family Vineyards Meritage (Santa Barbara County). Roasted plums, black pepper, black olives, violets and a touch of green peppercorns show on the nose of this blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 16% Malbec, 13% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot. Silky, chalky tannins frame the palate, where black olive, cooked beef and purpleflower flavors arise. —M.K. abv: 13.8% Price: $35

176 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

91

Scharffenberger NV Brut Excellence Méthode Traditionnelle (Mendocino County). Dry, appetizing and complex, this wine has intricate aromas of butter, almond and toast followed by mellow fruit flavors, lingering spices and a suave texture that seems to encourage the long finish. It’s lightto medium-bodied and excellent in overall quality. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 12% Price: $20

Wente 2014 Charles Wetmore Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Livermore Valley). This bold and full-bodied wine has vivid smoke and spice aromas, with rich blackberry and espresso flavors. A healthy wrapping of tannins add an appetizing bite and a lingering, lightly spicy finish. Overall, the tasty oak nuances are well blended with the ripe fruit. —J.G. abv: 14.5% Price: $30


90 90

Allegrini 2016 Valpolicella. This is a delicious and inviting red that opens on aromas of ripe dark-skinned berry, baking spice and blue flower. The smooth, juicy palate offers ripe cherry, plum, cinnamon and nutmeg while fresh acidity and supple tannins provide polished support. Drink soon. LUX Wines. Editors’ Choice. —K.O. abv: 13% Price: $17

90

Conclusion 2014 Stagecoach Vineyard Limited Production Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). This is a juicy, earthy wine from a tremendous site, that’s firm and thick in tannic structure. Cedar, tobacco and dill complement the bolder swathes of black fruit that’s powerfully concentrated and grippy in coconut oak. —V.B. abv: 14.6% Price: $64

Familia Deicas 2015 Deicas Tannat (Uruguay). Dusty black-fruit aromas set up a palate that’s full in body, with soft tannins and punchy acidity. A crisp, toasty and lightly blackened flavor profile ends with some complexity and length. Drink this elegant and well-made Tannat through 2020. Paul Hobbs Selections. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $24

90 90

Balletto 2016 Teresa’s Unoaked Estate Grown Estate Bottled Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). This is an estate-grown white, unfettered by oak, that opts instead to focus on floral apple-blossom aromas and bright, fresh flavors of tangerine and grapefruit zest. A bite of green apple shines on the finish. —V.B. abv: 13.4% Price: $20

90

DFJ Vinhos 2015 Escada Reserva Touriga Nacional (Lisboa). This wine is structured and dense, benefiting from two years in oak to offer a balanced, round palate that’s rich in spice and black fruit tones. Drink now. Luiz’s Grocery and Liquors. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $18

Flora Springs 2016 Family Select Chardonnay (Napa Valley). Floral jasmine and apple blossom notes are inviting in this wine, which offers a seamless palate of lush apple, pear and stone fruit flavors. The fruity midpalate evolves into a smooth finish of nutmeg spice. —V.B. abv: 14% Price: $35

90 90

Barton & Guestier 2012 Thomas Barton Réserve Privée (Médoc). This serious wine is beginning to mature. Its spicy wood and mint flavors are now integrating with the rich structure. The finish is bright in a final burst of fruit. Drink from 2018. Barton & Guestier USA. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $50

90

Duckhorn 2013 The Discussion (Napa Valley). Round and easy on the palate, this wine combines 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. Approachable dark fruit meets touches of leather and garrigue. It’s a full-bodied and concentrated wine that’s still developing in the bottle. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $135

Galil Mountain 2014 Ela (Upper Galilee). Aromas of black plum and mocha prepare the palate for flavors of blackberry, cassis, pomegranate and thyme. Offering ample mouthfeel and full-fruit flavors amidst slightly grippy tannins, this wine wraps up in a lasting cherry finish. Kosher. Yarden Wines, Inc. —M.D. abv: 14% Price: $22

WINEMAG.COM | 177


BUYINGGUIDE

90

Galil Mountain 2013 Alon (Upper Galilee). Inky garnet in color, this wine offers aromas of blackberry and green pepper. There is a good combination of fruit and savory flavors, notably dark plum, black cherry, smoked meat and roasted red pepper. Smooth tannins lead to a zippy pomegranate finish. Kosher. Yarden Wines, Inc. —M.D. abv: 15% Price: $22

90

Garzón 2015 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir (Uruguay). Aromas of tea, tomato and Chinese spices accent lightweight cherry and currant notes. This is elegant and fresh, with good balance and more than enough oak character. Spicy flavors of nutmeg accent plum and red-berry flavors prior to a long dry finish. This is classy and complex; drink through 2018. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

90

Hess 2015 Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). With small amounts of Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot, this likable, broadly appealing wine is well made, generously rich and softly layered in blue fruit, chocolate and integrated American oak. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $32

178 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

90

90

90

90

90

90

Hess 2015 Estate Grown Chardonnay (Napa Valley). This wine offers attractive layers of green apple built around a lush palate of pear and tropical pineapple. Its richness is met by complementary structure, balance and a subdued construct of oak that supports without distraction. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $22

Hess Select 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (North Coast). This plushly textured and luxuriously ripe wine has soothing baking spice aromas, soft plum and blackberry syrup flavors and a medium body. Moderate tannins boosted by 11% Petite Sirah are well integrated and make for a velvety mouthfeel. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $19

Iron Horse 2012 Russian Cuvée (Green Valley). Luxuriously crafted to be lush and robust, this blends 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Chardonnay with ease and gusto. The palate is dominated by layered flavors of baked strawberry and cherry. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $44

Joullian 2015 Chardonnay (Monterey). Restrained on the nose at first, this appellation blend shows lemon, butter on brioche and gardenia aromas with some swirling. It’s floral on the unctuous palate, with hints of honeysuckle and daffodil, but quite rounded, with soft acidity and textural grip. A flash of coconut hits the finish. —M.K. abv: 14.1% Price: $25

La Crema 2015 Saralee’s Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). Opening with beautiful aromatics, this wine has a heady invitation of orange and apple blossom before revealing a sublime texture and rich oak. Pillowy on the palate, it offers Asian pear and apple flavors, with a slight confectionery quality of crème brûlée. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $45

Lucas & Lewellen 2015 Estate Vineyards Goodchild High 9 Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Bright red-fruit tones of hibiscus and pomegranate meet with dried fennel on the complex nose of this bottling from the winery owned by pioneering vintner Louis Lucas and his friend, Judge Royce Lewellen. It’s light bodied, but with a grippy texture, showing candied rose petal, thyme and roasted red-fruit flavors. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $35


90

90

90

90

MacMurray Estate Vineyards 2016 Pinot Gris (Russian River Valley). Muted florals make way for a creamy, lush and moderately weighty white wine. The measured acidity supports ripe, fruity flavors of fig and Bosc pear. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta 2015 Sant’Emiliano (Barbera d’Asti Superiore). This opens with aromas of mature plum, violet and an inviting whiff of vanilla. The firm full-bodied palate offers black currant, raspberry jam and clove accompanied by bright acidity and fine-grained tannins. Enjoy through 2022. Serendipity Wine Imports. —K.O. abv: 15% Price: $33

Michael David 2015 Freakshow (Lodi). Big in flavor and structure, this dark-colored, full-bodied wine is concentrated and laced with fine-grained tannins to support rich blackberry flavors. It’s smooth and mouthfilling, with a lingering finish. —J.G. abv: 15% Price: $20

ONX 2015 Mad Crush (Templeton Gap District). Roasted plum, smoke and a hint of licorice emerge from this lightly styled blend of 38% Grenache, 37% Tempranillo and 25% Mourvèdre. It’s bright and lightweight on the palate, with tart berry flavors, making for a brisker entry to this winery’s typically rich portfolio. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $48

90

Robert Oatley 2016 Finisterre Chardonnay (Margaret River). Complexity and longevity are the name of the game here. This shows a restrained nose of melon, smoke, nuts and a little buttery oak. The palate is really where it’s at, weaving those same flavors seamlessly together. With a chalky texture and a good lick of acidity, everything is in balance here, setting this wine up for plenty of years of life. Drink now–2025. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits. Cellar Selection. —C.P. abv: 12.5% Price: $30

90

Textbook 2015 Merlot (Napa Valley). Made in a balanced and graceful style, this lightbodied red comes from vineyards in both Oak Knoll and Oakville. Tart cherry, plum and coconut shavings are supported by light oak and firm tannins. The finish is complex and spicy. —V.B. abv: 13.2% Price: $27

90 90

Masi 2014 Campofiorin 50 (Veronese). You’ll find alluring scents of iris, blackberry and nutmeg on this blend of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. The savory palate delivers ripe plum, black cherry, carob and a touch of licorice alongside fine-grained tannins. Enjoy through 2022. Kobrand. —K.O. abv: 13% Price: $23

Point & Line 2015 Sierra Madre Vineyard Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley). There’s a slight, lithe line of butterscotch on the nose of this bottling, with lots of lemon blossoms and Meyer lemon juice overshadowing the buttery aspect. The palate is tart in green apple and Anjou pear flavors, followed by honeydew and white peach. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $40

90

Toad Hollow 2015 Richard McDowell’s Selection Merlot (Sonoma County). This 100% varietal wine, a steal of a deal, works in its offering of juicy plum, just enough grip and pleasant structure. Integrated oak helps it maintain a lightly firm texture on the palate, piquing in cranberry and red currant flavors on the finish. Editors’ Choice. —V.B. abv: 14.3% Price: $16

WINEMAG.COM | 179


BUYINGGUIDE

90

Vinkara 2014 Reserve Kalecik Karasi (Ankara). A ruby color in the glass, this wine offers a bouquet of raspberry and chocolate. It’s soft on the palate, with mellow tannins that mingle with flavors of black cherry, pomegranate and mocha, leading to a smooth finish. The Winebow Group. —M.D. abv: 14.5% Price: $27

90

89

Ms. Behave 2014 Malbec (Paso Robles). Underripe black currant and elderberry aromas mix with campfire, cedar and roasted beef on the nose of this wine. Black cherry and crushed pencils show on the palate, which is framed by impressive tannins and a chalky mouthfeel. —M.K. abv: 14.9% Price: $38

Wakefield 2016 Estate Label Riesling (Clare Valley). Pale gold in color, this wine leads with notes of fresh apples, blossoms and honeycomb. The palate is prickly and refreshing, with a good lick of acidity and some texture and weight to prop it up. Drink now. Seaview Imports. —C.P. abv: 12.5% Price: $18

89

89

89

Angove 2015 Family Crest Shiraz (McLaren Vale). For big-red lovers, this is a darn classy option. Savory, smokey, meaty notes are woven together with black pepper, raspberry and red cherry. The palate is plush and powerful, but the tannins are well structured and balanced, with a long, savory finish. Drink now–2025. Trinchero Family Estates. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $25

180 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Pine Ridge 2016 Chenin Blanc + Viognier (California). Crisp and tangy, this lightbodied wine has a (pardon the pun) piny greenapple aroma, vivid apple and lime flavors and lively acidity. It will be especially good as an apéritif to whet the appetite. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 12.5% Price: $16

Rancho Sisquoc 2015 Flood Family Vineyards Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara County). Light and fresh aromas of strawberry and raspberry meet with licorice and vanilla on the bright, fruitpunch-like nose of this bottling. There is snappy energy to the palate, with pomegranate and tanninlaced cranberry flavors as well as a light dusting of baking spice. —M.K. abv: 13.6% Price: $30

88

Château Magnol 2015 M de Magnol (Bordeaux). This warm, ripe wine has spice notes, layers of wood and vivid blackberry fruit. Still young, it will be ready to drink from 2019. Barton & Guestier USA. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

88

Church & State 2014 Lost Inhibitions I Don’t Care Who’s Watching (California). Driedfruit flavors of prune and raisin lend a very ripe, dense richness to this high-powered full-bodied wine. It has good supportive acidity and tannins to balance out the extreme ripeness. —J.G. abv: 13.8% Price: $15

88

Edna Valley Vineyard 2016 Rosé (California). Dry and medium in body, this light-pink wine shows substantive aromas and flavors of apple skin and raspberry that saturate a rather rich mouthclinging texture. The finish is crisp and clean. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 13% Price: $15


88

Garzón 2015 Reserve Cabernet Franc (Uruguay). A dark, saturated color and stout aromas of herbal tomato, basil and oregano give this Cabernet Franc a saucy outlook. Savory pepper and black-fruit flavors share the stage with oak tones, while the finish shows plenty of grip. Drink through 2018. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

88

Gray Ghost 2015 Ranger Reserve (Virginia). This wine harmoniously combines bright red cherry, leafy bramble, black pepper and cedar on the nose. These notes carry through to the palate and mix with tobacco and balsamic flavors. Well-integrated tannins lead to a long, evolving finish. —C.D. abv: 13.5% Price: $30

88

86

88

85

Michael David 2016 Chardonnay (Lodi). Oaky in flavor and broad in mouthfeel, this wine has plenty of butter, wood-smoke and toastednut aromas followed by ripe pear and butter on the palate. It is full bodied and has a touch of astringency on the finish. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $16

ONX 2016 Indie Noir (Paso Robles). This bottling offers much of the richness and fruit-forward character of Paso Robles. Accessible aromas of black cherry, vanilla ice cream, black-currant juice and licorice lead into a juicy palate. It’s very likable and hedonistic. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 14.8% Price: $28

Gray Ghost 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Virginia). This Cabernet Sauvignon smells ripe, with cherry cola, red currant and red plum aromas. Pleasant tones of church incense and vanilla lead to an oaky palate. Cherry and geranium come through, but the oak is prevalent and leads to a long, smoky finish. —C.D. abv: 13.5% Price: $50

Gray Ghost 2015 Reserve Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (Virginia). Pineapple and lemon-curd bring freshness to the nose of this wine, while buttery toast and vanilla tones offer richness. The palate shows similar notes, with butter the most prominent. While the flavors and aromas are intense, the structure is soft. —C.D. abv: 13.8% Price: $28

BEST BUYS

87 88

Jean-Luc Baldès 2014 Malbec du Clos (Cahors). Here’s an open, fruity and accessible style of Malbec from Clos Triguedina. Rich and juicy in ripe black-currant flavors, its fine fruitiness is shaped by soft tannins. Drink for its fresh fruit from 2018. Vineyard Brands. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $17

Educated Guess 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir (Napa Valley). This is a dry, light and easy going wine, made entirely from Pinot Noir. The palate is refreshing in its firm grasp of cherry and raspberry flavors. —V.B. abv: 12% Price: $15

92

Aveleda 2015 Follies Casa da Aguieira Touriga Nacional (Bairrada). From the Quinta da Aguieira, this serious, concentrated wine has the violet perfume typical of Touriga Nacional. It is a rich, dense and tannic wine, full of black fruit, dark chocolate and bright acidity. Drink this wine from late 2018. Aveleda Inc. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $14

WINEMAG.COM | 181


BUYINGGUIDE BEST BUYS

BEST BUYS

92

Golan Heights Winery 2016 Mount Hermon Red (Galilee). A nose of cassis and vanilla sets the scene for flavors of black cherry, blackberry, butterscotch, juniper and violet. It’s easy on entry, offering smooth tannins that slowly reveal themselves, culminating in a floral and cranberry finish. Kosher. Yarden Wines, Inc. Best Buy. —M.D. abv: 13.9% Price: $13

89

90

89

Aveleda 2016 Quinta da Aveleda (Vinho Verde). A blend of the two major grapes of the region, Alvarinho and Loureiro, and grown at the home estate of the producer, this is delicious Vinho Verde. It is dry, crisp, light and piercingly bright, perfect either as an apéritif or with seafood. Drink now. Aveleda Inc. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 11% Price: $10

90

Gen5 2015 Chardonnay (Lodi). The fifth generation certainly got it right. This wine is more savory than fruity, as earth and oak flavors highlight the aromas while baking spices and almond flavors soothe the palate. It’s smooth and lush in texture and not too heavy in body. Drink now. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.8% Price: $12

182 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Bliss 2016 Estate Bottled Rosé (Mendocino). This is a rather big and rich wine that has a deep orange-pink color, along with quite a bit of body and red-fruit flavors. The mouthfeel is smooth, as plum and melon flavors meet soft acidity. It’s more like a red wine than most of today’s rosés, but is a pleasure to drink. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $14

Domaine Boyar 2016 Traminer (Thracian Valley). This straw-colored Traminer has aromas of honeysuckle, lime zest and lemon blossom. Flavors of cantaloupe, honeydew melon and kiwi unfold on the palate and carry through to the fruity finish. Bulgarian Master Vintners. Best Buy. —J.J. abv: 12% Price: $12

BEST BUYS

88

Black’s Station 2015 Red Blend (Yolo County). With more tannic grip than usual, and plenty of ripe black-cherry flavors, this is an enjoyable, full-bodied wine that will pair nicely with rich food. Made from Malbec, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah, the wine’s texture benefits from fine-grained tannins that balance the powerful fruit flavors quite well. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.9% Price: $12

88

Château Souverain 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (California). There are aromas and flavors of pine and fresh herbs in this medium-bodied, crisp and tangy wine. Lemon and lime notes kick in on the palate, and the good acidity keeps the finish fresh. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.3% Price: $13

89

Girasole 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino County). This classically styled wine has a spicy bouquet and wonderful cedar, cherry and tobacco flavors. The posh texture is supported by moderate tannins and good acidity. It’s full bodied, well balanced and will make a great pairing with all kinds of meat and fowl. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 14% Price: $14

88

Exem 2015 Bordeaux. Soft and fruity, this lightly structured wine is rich and dense. Its blackberry fruit is supported by balanced tannins and acidity. Made to be enjoyed young, so drink up. Winesellers, Ltd. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $13


BEST BUYS

BEST BUYS

88

Mirassou 2016 Pinot Grigio (California). This balanced and restrained wine has delicious fruit flavors that slowly emerge on the palate. Light peach and apricot nuances ride on a lightly tart note for a mouth-cleansing effect. Enjoy as an apéritif. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 12.5% Price: $12

87

88

87

Nine North Wine Company 2015 Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon (California). A tasty array of clove, tamarind and cinnamon aromas are followed by rich fruit and spice flavors in this medium-bodied, moderately tannic wine. It has lots of personality, good balance and a lingering finish. Best Buy.—J.G. abv: 13.9% Price: $13

88

Scotto Family Cellars 2016 Dry Sangiovese Rosé (Lodi). Very fresh, light and a little candylike in flavor, this vivid-pink wine is dry and fruity. It is charming and easy to sip. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 12% Price: $13

Geyser Peak 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (California). Aromas of snap peas and freshly cut grass lead to tangy lemon and grapefruit flavors in this medium-bodied, crisply balanced wine. It’s certainly lively and will cut through the thickest fettuccine Alfredo. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13% Price: $12

Oak Grove 2016 Family Reserve Chardonnay (California). This well-oaked, smoky wine is a great value. It has abundant baking spice aromas, as well as rich flavors of ripe pear, nutmeg and vanilla. Ample acidity and delicate tannins help maintain balance. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13% Price: $9

BEST BUYS

86

Rare 2014 Purple Blend (California). Very fruity and a little spicy, this medium- to full-bodied wine has a smooth texture, nicely concentrated black-cherry and blueberry flavors and a good sense of layering and length. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $10

86

Vini 2016 Veni Vidi Vici Rosé (Thracian Valley). This pale-pink rosé is comprised of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Syrah. It has aromas of lemon zest, pink grapefruit and strawberry. Red grapefruit along with strawberries and cream mark the palate. The finish is full and fruity. Bulgarian Master Vintners. Best Buy. —J.J. abv: 13.5% Price: $9

87

Santa Carolina 2017 Reserva Leyda Estate Sauvignon Blanc (Leyda Valley). Punchy aromas of grapefruit and jalapeño form the greeting on this lean but refreshing wine. A straightforward palate offers zesty acidity, while flavors of white pepper, sea salt, grapefruit and lime lead straight through the finish. Carolina Wine Brands USA. Best Buy. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $12

85

Black Ink 2015 Red Wine (California). Fresh and inviting in a strawberry aroma, the palate brings ripe red-fruit and vanilla flavors to the mix. This is a medium-bodied, softly textured wine. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $9

WINEMAG.COM | 183


BUYINGGUIDE BEST BUYS

silky without having to flex its muscles. Wine Trees. Editors’ Choice. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

92

85

McManis 2016 Pinot Grigio (California). This is a light-bodied wine, with mild fruity aromas and lean, herbaceous flavors. It’s straightforward, low in alcohol and refreshing. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 11.5% Price: $10

SPIRITS

93

Pierre Patou Cognac XO Black (France; Simone International, Nanuet, NY). The deep, ruddy hue and toffee-like aroma suggest that this Cognac will be on the sweeter side. The palate delivers cherry jam fruitiness and a burst of heat up front, segueing to fudge and hazelnut on the finish, plus cinnamon and clove. It feels almost like drinking a Cognac Old-Fashioned cocktail. abv: 40% Price: $125

Syrahmi 2015 Demi by Syrahmi Shiraz (Heathcote). This is a simultaneously fruity and savory wine of complexity and power from one of Victoria’s underrated regions, Heathcote. From a mix of granite and the region’s famed Cambrian red soils, this wine offers ripe blue and red fruit, florals and a peppery, olivey punch. The juicy fruit continues on the palate but here the savory elements play more of a starring role: Dried herbs and graphite are woven into fine-grained tannins and a long, almost tangy finish. Drink now–2027. Hudson Wine Brokers. Editors’ Choice. —C.P. abv: 14% Price: $32

91

Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier 2013 Lieu-Dit Malakoff Shiraz (Pyrenees). Slightly lighter on its feet than its sibling, L-Block, the Lieu-Dit shows more meat and black olive characters combined with ripe cherry, chocolate, cola, and oak spice. The palate is tangy and herbal while the powerful tannins are fine grained and the acidity well balanced. This should age rather nicely. Drink 2019–2037. Terlato Wines International. Cellar Selection. —C.P. abv: 14% Price: $40

Pierre Patou Cognac XO Gold (France; Simone International, Nanuet, NY). Look for oak, vanilla and dark cherry aromas. The palate is fairly sweet, showing caramel and vanilla, progressing to a long, languorous finish marked by caramel, baking spice and a hint of orange peel. abv: 40% Price: $75

184 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

89

Angove 2015 Family Crest Shiraz (McLaren Vale). For full review see page 180. abv: 14.5% Price: $25

89

Schild Estate 2015 Shiraz (Barossa Valley). In a sea of dense, dark-fruited Barossa Shiraz, it can be a refreshing change to find something with a little more elegance and high fruit tones, even if the aromas venture a slightly into soap territory. Ripe strawberry mingles with baking spices, Dr. Pepper and a savory note. The tannins are tongue-gripping but balanced by a nice acidity and a herbal character on the finish. Drink now–2025. USA Wine West. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

89

Teusner 2015 Bilmore Shiraz (Barossa Valley). With aromas of cherry cough syrup and expensive oak, this is a big, rich, flashy Shiraz. Fine-grained tannins, balanced acidity and plenty of plush fruit mark the palate, but the oak is a little too much in the fore. California Beverage Co. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $25

90

89

90

88

Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier 2013 L-Block Shiraz (Pyrenees). AThe L-Block Shiraz is a broody, powerful beast meant for many years of cellaring. Right now, it shows dense black and red fruit, chocolate, black olive and oak spice. The tannins are big and savory but everything appears to be in balance. It should start to reveal its true colors in several years’ time. Drink 2019–2037. Terlato Wines International. Cellar Selection. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $60 Occam’s Razor 2014 Shiraz (Heathcote). This is a herbaceous expression of Shiraz from the under appreciated Heathcote region of Victoria, and made by Emily Laughton, daughter of the well-regarded Jasper Hill family. Mint and green herbs mingle with potpourri, juicy fruit, and charred oak characters. Tannins are tightly wound at the moment, but the wine is well balanced and here for the long haul. Drink 2020–2032. Old Bridge Cellars. —C.P. abv: 15.5% Price: $62

90 92

late, Chinese Five Spice, and some medicinal notes in the background. Medium to full bodied, it’s well balanced, with soft tannins and a short finish. Drink with beef stir fry. Quintessential Wines. —C.P. abv: 14.9% Price: $20

Tyrrell’s 2013 Lunatiq Shiraz (Heathcote). This is a powerful Shiraz, with heady notes of sweet spice, Dr. Pepper and chocolate on the nose. Ripe dark berries, violet and stoney notes are plentiful on the palate, supported by fine, integrated tannins. Drink 2019–2032. Broadbent Selections, Inc. —C.P. abv: 14.8% Price: $47

89

3 Rings 2015 Shiraz (Barossa Valley). This wine starts shy but after some swirling reveals broody black cherry, raspberry, dark choco-

Two Hands 2015 Gnarly Dudes Shiraz (Barossa Valley). Blackberry cordial leads in this fruit-driven wine, followed by vanilla, mocha, black olive and a bit of dusting polish. The palate is plush and brambly backed by a good grip of fine-grained tannins and a savory olive finish. This will cellar nicely. Drink now–2027. Terlato Wines International. —C.P. abv: 14.2% Price: $35

Mr. Riggs 2014 The Bolter Shiraz (South Australia). A well-structured steak wine, this Shiaz wraps chocolate, lush berry and meaty aromas and flavors into a full body, with chewy tannins and a savory, juicy finish. Wine Trees. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $16

88

Sophie’s 2015 Palm Block Shiraz (Barossa Valley). Ripe grape jelly notes lead this bigboned Shiraz, followed by licorice and dry, brittle oak. The acid and tannins are in balance on the palate, while the oak is a little prominent. Despite that, plenty of juicy fruit follows through to the finish. Drink now–2022. Wine Trees. —C.P. abv: 14.4% Price: $17

87

Chapel Hill 2015 The Parson Shiraz (McLaren Vale). Blackberries, chocolate, cola, oak spice and dusting polish are brought together with a structured and balanced palate and soft, finegrained tannins. The finish, however, is dominated by bitter oak. American Estates Wines, Inc. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $20


87

Gemtree 2015 Uncut Biodynamic Shiraz (McLaren Vale). Gemtree places a lot of emphasis on their growing practices, which is wonderful. The fruit, however, sometimes get masked by winemaking technique, and in this case the culprit is oak. The wine is rich and plush, with sweet potpourri spices, ripe blue and red fruit, and oregano, but the oak overpowers. Drink now–2025. Vinovia Wine Group. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $21

weeknight glugger. Foster’s Wine Estates Americas. Best Buy. —C.P. abv: 13.5% Price: $8

86

Red Knot 2015 Shiraz (McLaren Vale). This is simple yet rich style, with dark berries, chocolate and toasty oak notes. For those who like their powerful, dense reds, this comes at an affordable price. Precept Wine. —C.P. abv: 14% Price: $15

87

Moorooroo 2015 3 Sisters & A Brother Shiraz (Barossa Valley). Black licorice, raisiny fruit and a little sweaty oak are the name of the game here. Acidity on the palate is searing and tannins are soft, not giving quite enough support. The fruit is on the sour side and the oak a little bitter. Smashing Bottles Inc. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $17

87

Mr. Riggs 2015 The Gaffer Shiraz (McLaren Vale). This win is dense and dusty, with ripe ripe red and black fruit, meat and earth. The palate follows with fine-grained tannins and bright acidity. A plush, powerful Shiraz. Wine Trees. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $26

87

Smallfry 2015 Shiraz (Barossa). Ripe dark berries meet chocolate, herbs and charred meat on the nose. The palate is plush but wrapped in muscular tannins, a nice lick of acidity and a toasty, charred finish. Drink now–2025. Little Peacock Imports. —C.P. abv: 14.7% Price: $25

87

Thorn Clarke 2015 Shotfire Shiraz (Barossa). AThe nose is appealing in its raisiny fruit, earth, meat and mocha. Things get all together punchier on the palate with vice-like tannins that overwhelm all else. Kysela Père et Fils. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $25

86

Banrock Station 2015 Shiraz (South Eastern Australia). Ripe black cherry and a lick of herbs are wrapped up in a solid structure of balanced acidity and tannins, with a slightly savory finish. The oak is prominent, as is the ripe fruit, but for the price, this is the kind of bargain Shiraz Australia once built its Stateside reputation on. Accolade Wines NA. Best Buy. —C.P. abv: 13.5% Price: $8

86

Hardys 2014 Stamp of Australia Shiraz (South Eastern Australia). There’s a fair lick of dried wood notes on this straightforward sipper. The fruity strawberry and blueberry core is plush and pleasing, as is the soft grip of tannins at the backend. Accolade Wines NA. Best Buy. —C.P. abv: 13.5% Price: $8

86

Little Penguin 2015 Shiraz (South Eastern Australia). This wine shows ultraripe fruit, with cola and sweet-oak spice wrapped in a plush texture and juicy finish. A simple, user-friendly

RED BLENDS

89

Atze’s Corner 2015 Estate Grown G-S-M (Barossa Valley). This wine shows a pleasing nose of black currant cordial, violets, hot cocoa powder and some smokey oak aromas. The palate is relatively light in feel for the powerful three (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre), yet with a juicy fruit core, grainy texture and savory tannins, this is a solid GSM. Wine Trees. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

OTHER RED WINES

92

Choice. abv: 14%

Point Ormond 2015 Sangiovese (Grampians). This wine is spot on with the modern Aussie movement towards light-bodied, moderate-alcohol wines, with little to no oak influence. From the cool climes of Western Victoria, this is downright delicious and a total bargain. Bright, ripe red cherry, chocolate, cola and violet notes lead into a plush yet zingy palate of juicy red fruits, silky soft tannins and a long tangy finish. Little Peacock Imports. Best Buy. —C.P. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

91

5OS Project 2014 Montepulciano (South Australia). For full review see page 173. abv: 13% Price: $25

Kilikanoon 2015 Killerman’s Run GrenacheShiraz-Mataro (Clare Valley). The French oak is prominent in this classic blend, but it’s more or less balanced by ripe red fruit, sweet spice and hints of chocolate and smoke. The palate is medium to full bodied, red fruited, and finishes with charred, smokey flavors that last long. Drink now–2022. Old Bridge Cellars. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

90

88

87

Fairbank Sutton Grange 2015 Sangiovese (Bendigo). Made from organically farmed vineyards, with native yeast and old barrels, this wine is a melting pot of bright cranberry and raspberry, smoke, toast, florals and sweet herbs. Medium bodied, with silky tannins, and plenty of terroir expression, it’s well priced to boot. A win all around. Little Peacock Imports. Editors’ Choice. —C.P. abv: 13% Price: $22

5OS Project 2014 Malbec (McLaren Vale). This wine shows ripe dark fruit, cedar, intense whole-bunch stalkiness and a perfumed quality throughout. The tannins are clunky and soapy while the alcohol feels a little hot. Biagio Cru & Estate Wines, LLC. —C.P. abv: 14.5% Price: $25

CHARDONNAY

87

91

85

90

Robert Oatley 2015 G-S-M (McLaren Vale). One of the first to use the now famed acronym for Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre blends, Oatley’s GSM is luscious yet broody, with oak that should integrate better with a little more time in the bottle. Think ripe cherry, dark chocolate and black olive notes. The palate is medium in weight and has a bitter, oaky finish. Drink 2018–2022. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits. —C.P. abv: 14% Price: $20

Blackbilly 2015 G-S-M (McLaren Vale). Initial aromas are volatile yet attractive in dried autumn leaves, cola, baking spices and red currants, while the palate slaps you in the face with vice-like tannins and tart, mouth-puckering acidity. A bitter oak finish, without the fruit or structure doesn’t hold it all together. Ecosur Group, LLC. —C.P. abv: 14% Price: $NA

Price: $28

92

88

Turkey Flat 2015 Butchers Block G-S-M (Barossa Valley). Ripe red and black fruits reflect the warm climes of the region in this classic GSM blend, which also offers notes of earthy green stalks, florals and Dr. Pepper. While the nose may be pretty, the palate is powerful, with a wack of tongue-gripping tannins and a stalky, leafy finish. Luckily there’s enough plush, juicy fruit to balance. Drink now–2027. American Estates Wines, Inc. —C.P. abv: 14.8% Price: $20

Ess & See 2014 Tempranillo (South Australia). For full review see page 171. Editors’

Stella Bella 2016 Chardonnay (Margaret River). A great example of Margaret River flexing its Chardonnay muscles, and from a label producing wines of consistent quality and drinkability. Notes of smoke, lemon, melon, vanilla oak and a slight vegetal character lead into a nicely textured palate and a long, smokey finish. The acidity is rather searing at the moment, and the oak a bit apparent, but give this a little time and all will settle into place. Drink now–2025. Stella Bella Wines. Cellar Selection. —C.P. abv: 12.5% Price: $30 Bird in Hand 2015 Chardonnay (Adelaide Hills). Give this wine a few minutes to open up, and once it does it’s a lovely example of cool climate Chardonnay. Subtle notes of ripe lemon, stone fruit, butter, and smoke lead into a slippery textured, medium-weighted palate. More lemon and

WINEMAG.COM | 185


BUYINGGUIDE stone fruit mark the flavors, and toast and smoke show on the finish. HP Selections. —C.P. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

herbs. The oak is prevalent and at times a bit too loud. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits. —C.P. abv: 13% Price: $25

90

Robert Oatley 2016 Finisterre Chardonnay (Margaret River). For full review see page 179. Cellar Selection. abv: 12.5% Price: $30

89

Howard Park 2016 Miamup Chardonnay (Margaret River). Its pale-gold color gives this rich, oaky style away. Lemon, green papaya, mint, nuts and wet stone all mingle with tonguetingling acidity. The palate is on the lean and mean side at the moment, and the oak sticks out too, but there’s a redeeming smokey, mineral finish and the hope that all will settle with time. Drink now–2025. Craft + Estate–The Winebow Group. —C.P. abv: 13% Price: $25

89

Robert Oatley 2016 Signature Series Chardonnay (Margaret River). Aromatic in style, this veers on the side of perfume on the nose. Nevertheless, it’s very likable. Red apple skins and florals lead on the palate that’s a little soapy, but is well balanced and stylish. More red apple lingers on the finish. Drink now–2020. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits. —C.P. abv: 12.9% Price: $20

89

Shoofly 2015 Chardonnay (Adelaide Hills). This is an easy-drinking style, attractive in aromas of peach, pineapple, pressed yellow flowers, and butter that flow right into a light- to mediumweighted palate. A slightly chalky texture with more tropical fruit flavors carry to a spicy, vegetal finish. Drink now. Old Bridge Cellars. Best Buy. —C.P. abv: 13.5% Price: $14

89

Vasse Felix 2016 Filius Chardonnay (Margaret River). As the entry-level Chardonnay from one of Margaret River’s most highly lauded producers, this has a creamy opulence to it, with notes of buttercups, lemon drops and toasty oak. The palate is of medium weight, with a viscous texture and a good lick of acidity to keep things fresh, but the oak is a little flashy, particularly on the finish. Negociants USA, Inc. —C.P. abv: 12.5% Price: $27

88

Wicks 2015 Estate Unwooded Chardonnay (Adelaide Hills). This unwooded Chardonnay takes a bit of swirling in the glass before revealing subtle notes of citrus, stone fruit, melon, and blossoms. The palate really perks up with a chalky texture, medium weight and zingy, lemony finish. Crack this one open with poultry or veggies. Great Australian Wine Company. —C.P. abv: 13% Price: $NA

87

The Lane 2015 Beginning Chardonnay (Adelaide Hills). Rich and toasty in style, this has notes of ripe tropical fruits, figs, toffee and green

186 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

RIESLING

92

Kilikanoon 2015 Killerman’s Run Riesling (Clare Valley). A pretty nose of lemongrass, lime leaf and a touch of mint are followed by a mouthwatering palate of wet stone, a chalky texture and a long lemony finish. Drink now–2025. Old Bridge Cellars. Editors’ Choice. —C.P. abv: 12.5% Price: $20

91

Kilikanoon 2016 Mort’s Reserve Riesling (Clare Valley). Classic Clare Valley notes of blossoms, lime popsicle and kerosene are all here, along with apple skin and a chalky minerality. The palate offers more of the same and wonderfully balanced acidity, slight spice and a long, limey finish. Old Bridge Cellars. Editors’ Choice. —C.P. abv: 12.5% Price: $35

90

Wakefield 2016 Estate Label Riesling (Clare Valley). For full review see page 180. abv: 12.5% Price: $18

89

Kilikanoon 2016 Mort’s Block Riesling (Clare Valley). A bit more austere than some of Kilikanoon’s other cuveés, Mort’s Block is in it for the long haul. Still a baby, it currently shows lemon-lime characters, with kerosene and Barbie doll plastic. The palate is linear and supercitrusy. Drink 2018–2025. Old Bridge Cellars. —C.P. abv: 12.5% Price: $20

89

Wakefield 2015 St. Andrews Riesling (Clare Valley). Lemon, blossoms and a slight kerosene nose lead into a prickly, slippery texture, with lemon-lime and wet stone flavors. A classic example of Clare Valley Riesling. Seaview Imports. —C.P. abv: 13.5% Price: $40

WHITE BLENDS

89

Cullen 2015 Ephraim Clarke Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon (Margaret River). From one of the region’s leading producers and biodynamic rockstars, this wine stands out from the crowd. It offers apple tart, lemon rind and wild mint, with some floral soap notes. The acidity is present but not overpowering, balanced by some textural weight and an attractive citrus and spice finish. Old Bridge Cellars. —C.P. abv: 13% Price: $35

86

Clairault 2016 Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon (Margaret River). On the riper spectrum rather than youthful and fresh, this shows wet wool, ripe lemons and stone fruit, with a hint of green beans and florals. The palate is backed by searing acidity and a slightly woolly texture. Rather simple in style but it clearly shows the characters of both

the Sauvignon Blanc and the Sémillon. Margaret River Imports. —C.P. abv: 13% Price: $20

86

Voyager Estate 2015 Sauvignon BlancSemillon (Margaret River). On the synthetic side to start, the lime, lemon and tropical fruits eventually reveal themselves, with blossoms, grass, and herbal spice in the background. The palate is tightly wound and mouth-puckering, giving way to a slightly bitter-herbed finish. Hudson Wine Brokers. —C.P. abv: 13% Price: $24

85

Streicker 2013 Bridgeland Block Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon (Margaret River). Showing its age, but unfortunately not very well, this wine has lost any semblance of freshness, with notes of overripe lemons, stone fruit, pressed buttercups and buttered green beans. The palate is more attractive in its creamy texture, balanced by plenty of acidity. The finish once again descends into rather off-putting buttered green bean flavors. Margaret River Imports. —C.P. abv: 12.5% Price: $28

SPARKLING WINES

89

Ninth Island NV Sparkling (Tasmania). A fine example of one of Tasmania’s most celebrated styles, this bubbly starts with notes of lemon, white pepper and blossoms. The lemon and floral combo continues on the palate, which is on the leaner side texturally but satisfies with a mouth-tingling mousse and a slight sweetness, balanced with refreshing acidity. Little Peacock Imports. —C.P. abv: 12.5% Price: $25

88

Jansz NV Premium Cuvée (Tasmania). An opulent style from one of Tasmania’s most well known sparkling producers, this bubbly starts on enticing aromas of buttered toast, lemon curd, and copper penny. The palate offers more richness and a mouthfilling mousse, along with an intriguing herbaceousness on the finish. Negociants USA, Inc. —C.P. abv: 12% Price: $27

87

Jansz 2011 Vintage Cuvée (Tasmania). For one of Jansz’s top sparklers, this particular vintage is a little off the mark. Starting on the vegetal side, with notes of wet grass, pear and bruised apple, the palate is rich but mealy, finishing on the same bruised apple and vegetal characters as the nose. Negociants USA, Inc. —C.P. abv: 12% Price: $44

87

Yellow Tail NV Pink Bubbles (Australia). There’s a slight sweetness to this simple sipper but the pretty, ripe strawberries and strawberry-leaf characters, along with a decent lick of acidity, keep it refreshing. For the price, this fizz is


BUYINGGUIDE one for the ice bucket on a sweltering summer day. Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits. Best Buy. —C.P. abv: 11.5% Price: $10

CHILE PINOT NOIR

89

Arboleda 2016 Pinot Noir (Aconcagua Costa). Fresh, floral raspberry and currant aromas are woody and spicy as they lead to a racy, balanced palate with good acidity but also a sense of oak resin. Raspberry, red currant and wood spice flavors see oak outlast fruit on the finish. Thiénot USA. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

88

Cono Sur 2015 Bicicleta Pinot Noir (Central Valley). Give this value-priced Pinot Noir its due given that production is nearly 300,000 cases. Aromas of baked cherry, cocoa and baking spices lead to a fresh palate with wiry acidity. Earthy, slightly salty flavors of plum and currant finish steady. Vineyard Brands. Best Buy. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $12

87

Agustinos 2016 Reserva Pinot Noir (Bío Bío Valley). Generic plum and berry aromas are compact. On the palate, this is tight and blocky in feel, like a brick of cement. Raspberry and plum flavors are limited and dense, while this tastes of mild oak on a slightly hot and fiery finish. Apollo Fine Wines & Spirits. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $16

87

Apaltagua 2015 Reserva Pinot Noir (San Antonio). A ruby color and gamy, roasted aromas of plum and raspberry are the opposite of light and elegant. The palate follows suit, meaning it’s full but also acidic. Chunky, slightly burnt berry and currant flavors hollow out on a lightly spiced finish. Global Vineyard Importers. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $13

87

Indomita 2016 Duette Pinot Noir (Casablanca Valley). Strong barrel-driven aromas of clove and wood spice sit atop ripe berry fruit scents. This Pinot Noir is chewy, plump and on the heavy side. Oaky berry and plum flavors come with spicy clove notes that don’t quit on the finish. Laird & Company. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $18

87

Undurraga 2015 U Estate Grown Pinot Noir (Casablanca Valley). Dusty, earthy plum and berry aromas are a touch leafy and suggestive of sea shells. A fresh palate features enough body to handle racy acidity, while this tastes of plum, brown sugar and spicy oak. A steady finish turns over no new stones. Maritime Wine Trading Collective. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $14

188 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

86

92

86

92

Leyda 2016 Reserva Pinot Noir (Leyda Valley). Cool-climate aromas of latex and rubber announce a wine where the fruit scents are mulchy and underdeveloped. Electric acidity is reflective of Leyda’s coastal origins, while herbal plum and currant flavors are chippy. Overall, this is good but challenged by ripeness issues. MundoVino–The Winebow Group. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

Terrapura 2015 Pinot Noir (Chile). For valuepriced Pinot, give this its props for being fair and consistent with past vintages. On the nose, this smells a bit furry and spicy, with meaty plum and tea notes. A medium-bodied palate feels a touch resiny, while this tastes of spice, wood and ripe red fruits. Quintessential Wines. Best Buy. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $11

85

Indomita 2016 Gran Reserva Pinot Noir (Casablanca Valley). Roasted, smoky aromas push oak-based clove notes. This is a full-bodied, blocky PN that’s tipping the scales in the direction of heavy. Roasted, medicinal berry and plum flavors follow the nose, while this ends with salty notes and a final blast of oaky clove. Laird & Company. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

85

Morandé 2015 Reserva Pinot Noir (Casablanca Valley). Cherry and latex aromas are lean and limited. This feels tight, juicy and jumpy, with raw acidity. Spicy, herbal plum and raspberry flavors lack body on a dry, racy finish. Grupo Belen USA. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

CABERNET SAUVIGNON

93

Santa Rita 2013 Casa Real Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley). For full review see page 169. Cellar Selection. abv: 14.1% Price: $85

93

Ventisquero 2013 Enclave Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley). For full review see page

169. abv: 14%

Price: $70

92

Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) 2013 Le Dix de Los Vascos Estate Grown (Colchagua Costa). For full review see page 171. Cellar Selection. abv: 14.5% Price: $65

92

Lucatoni 2013 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley). Ripe blackberry and spice aromas are a touch meaty and earthy but mostly straightforward. A grabby, fleshy palate is obtuse but still balanced, while this tastes of berry and cassis, which are textbook flavors for Cabernet Sauvignon. A dry, woody finish with a chocolate note renders this better than most for $20. Spain Wine Collection. Editors’ Choice. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

Miguel Torres 2012 Manso de Velasco Cabernet Sauvignon (Curicó Valley). Toasty, charred aromas point at pencil lead and graphite in addition to inky black fruits. This old-vines Cabernet is voluminous but tight on the palate, with sandpaper tannins. Saturated, blackened flavors of cassis and blackberry finish with mocha and coffee notes along with abrasive residual tannins. Drink through 2028. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $60 Viña Santa Cruz 2014 Tupu Edicion Limitada (Colchagua Valley). Ripe blackberry, marzipan and toast aromas amount to a rich, inky and lush bouquet. This is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot, and it’s stout on the palate, with intense acidity and tannins. Dark, oaky blackberry, cassis and chocolate flavors end with exotic spice notes and baked, ripe berry and fig flavors. Drink through 2024. Wine Bridge Imports. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $52

91

MontGras 2013 Intriga Maxima Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley). This is a rich and heady Cabernet from head to toe. Solid, ripe blackberry and cassis aromas are coated with oaky coconut scents. In the mouth, this is saturated and heavy to the point of being syrupy. Flavors of chocolate, oaky char and herbal berry flavors finish smoky and spicy. Drink through 2020. Esprit du Vin. —M.S. abv: 15% Price: $66

91

Odfjell 2013 Orzada Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley). For full review see page 175. abv: 14% Price: $21

89

Casas del Toqui 2013 Gran Toqui Cabernet Sauvignon (Cachapoal Valley). Jammy, candied berry and prune aromas are reduced. That theme continues onto the palate, which feels compacted. Flavors of black grapes, prune, blueberry and black pepper finish with a meaty note of beef jerky, raw tannins and a shortage of body. Very good but with flaws. Pacific Rim Wine Logistics. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $30

89

Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) 2013 Los Vascos Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley). Earthy aromas of spent coffee grounds and herbal plum and berry fruits lead to a palate that’s edgy and a bit rough. Herbal plum, berry and cassis flavors come with tobacco and olive accents, while this is dry, pulling and scratchy on the finish. Esprit du Vin. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $20

88

Morandé 2013 Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley). Gritty aromas of red-berry and roasted fruit are not overly ripe. This feels firm, with high-toned acidic energy and a raspy afterburn. Oaky plum and currant flavors finish dry and hot. Not much cushion or softness here; requires food. Grupo Belen USA. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $25


whEn they

Zag Zin you

gO AHEAD,


BUYINGGUIDE

88

Santa Rita 2013 Medalla Real Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley). Blackberry, prune and pencil eraser aromas are oaky and forced. A heavy, grabby palate with noticeable oak resin delivers chocolaty, oaky berry flavors that taste a bit artificial. In the grand scheme of things, this is more than fair for the price; but prior years were better. Palm Bay International. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $20

88

Valdivieso 2013 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley). Noticeable green aromas of juniper bush and grassy berry fruits are reflective of a cool vintage. This feels raw and tight but honest. Flavors of green herbs run side by side with plum and cassis notes. On the finish, oakdriven coffee and chocolate flavors are minty. Wine Bridge Imports. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $25

appreciate. A chunky, saturated palate is thick but balanced by tartaric acidity. Herbal, minty blackberry flavors are woody and show a hint of graphite, while coffee, carob and burnt toast flavors blend with green notes on the finish. Drink through 2020. Shaw-Ross International Importers. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

87

Viña Bisquertt 2015 Ecos de Rulo Single Vineyard Carmenère (Colchagua Valley). Rustic aromas of grilled meat, leather and medicinal berry fruits set up a drawing, pulling palate with rough tannins. Dark-berry flavors are roasted and peppery, while this is herbal tasting and tannic on the finish. Prestige Beverage Group. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $20

89

Montes 2014 Alpha Carmenère (Colchagua Valley). On first take, this hefty Carmenère smells almost entirely of massive oak and related vanilla and maple, although airing calms things down. A dense, heavily oaked palate is extracted and full in body. Charred oak and coffee flavors cover blackberry and cassis notes, while this is flush on a huge finish. Guarachi Wine Partners. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $23

RED BLENDS

95

Valdivieso NV Caballo Loco Number Sixteen (Central Valley). For full review see page 164. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14.5% Price: $70

89

92

86

88

92

86

87

86

Balduzzi 2015 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Maule Valley). Tarry berry aromas come with notes of olive, rubber and eucalyptus. A tight, racy palate is driven by acidity, while this tastes of herbal plum and lightly salted tomato sauce. Woody, herbal berry flavors are spicy and a bit green. Vintage Wines Inc. Best Buy. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $11 Viña Bisquertt 2015 La Joya Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley). Aromas of grilled meat, oak and saucy berry fruits set up a stretched palate that feels fine but basic. Salty plum and berry flavors are mildly stewed, while this is short on the finish. As a whole, this is good Cabernet that cuts no new ground. Prestige Beverage Group. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $15

Viña Maipo 2015 Vitral Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile). Cherry and black olive aromas are common for standard Chilean Cabernet, which this is. A fleshy, flush mouthfeel is raw due to prodding acidity and tannins. Herbal berry flavors are spicy and a touch green, while this tastes minty on the finish. Fetzer Vineyards. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $13

CARMENÈRE

90

Errazuriz 2015 Max Reserva Carmenère (Aconcagua Costa). A dark, saturated color is telling, because this is full and smoky on the nose, with aromas of beef jerky, oak and green herbs. Much like it looks, this Carmenère feels full and saturated. Herbal berry and black plum flavors are peppery and lightly green, while notes of tobacco, coffee and carob comprise the finish. Vintus LLC. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $20

90

San Pedro 2015 1865 Single Vineyard Carmenère (Maule Valley). Herbal aromas of green tobacco, black fruits and coffee grounds require some understanding of Carmenère to fully

190 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Siegel 2014 Single Vineyard Los Lingues Carmenère (Colchagua Valley). Grainy, resiny oak aromas share space on the nose with herbal black fruit and green scents. This is racy and fresh for Carmenère, with full-force tannins. Herbal, roasted black-fruit and chocolate flavors are long and oaky on the finish, with a mocha note. Drink through 2020. Kysela Père et Fils. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $25 Casa Silva 2015 Los Lingues Vineyard Carmenère (Colchagua Valley). Minty, leathery berry fruit aromas are herbal and foresty. This is flush and solid in feel, with controlled tannins. Roasted, herbal black plum and berry flavors are what you’d expect from Colchagua Valley Carmenère, while this feels meaty and tastes blackened on the finish. Vine Connections. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $20 Aresti 2015 Bellavista Reserva Carmenère (Curicó Valley). Herbal berry aromas are slightly green and leafy, with spicy oak notes. A lively palate is medium-bodied and balanced. Flavors of plum, tomato, herbs and spice are common for Carmenère, while a crisp, solid finish is a proper conclusion. Aresti Chile Wine S.A. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

87

Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) 2015 Los Vascos Grande Reserve Carmenère (Colchagua Costa). Herbal tea, spiced berry and minty aromas are typical of Chilean Carmenère. This is solid but basic in feel, with oaky flavors of spiced berry fruits. A chewy, tannic finish tastes herbal and salty. Esprit du Vin. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $NA

87

Elqui Wines 2014 Carmenère (Elqui Valley). Heavy aromas of chocolate, exotic herbs and ripe black fruits stop short of clubbing you over the head. The palate, however, is not that subtle; it’s thick and chewy in an overripe way. Oak-heavy flavors of clove and char dominate the flavor profile, while a heavy finish doesn’t downshift even one gear. Elixir Wine Group. —M.S. abv: 14.9% Price: $25

Lapostolle 2014 Le Petit Clos (Apalta). A black color and baked ripe-fruit aromas are the greeting on this second wine to Clos Apalta. While this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Merlot and Petit Verdot feels soft along the edges, it’s propped up by tartaric acidity. Blackened flavors of saturated blackberry and cassis maintain lush ripeness across the finish. Drink through 2020. Terlato Wines International. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $61 Neyen 2013 Carmenère-Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley). Complex, integrated aromas of cola, herbal berry fruits, earth and oak are smooth and inviting. This blend of 50% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère feels saturated, dense and right on. Exotic, oaky flavors of charred wood, coffee and chocolate are draped over berry and cassis fruit, while this is woody as well as long and graceful on the finish. Drink through 2021. Gonzalez Byass USA. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $66

91

De Martino 2013 Single Vineyard Las Cruces Old Vine Malbec-Carménère (Cachapoal Valley). Chilean winemakers liked 2013 for its coolness, and this Malbec-Carmenère blend shows racy acidity as its defining component. Aromas of blackberry and plum are floral and smoky. High acidity makes for a tight, pulling palate with flavors of red plum and oak spice. A muscular finish is still pumping with acidity, so this stays bold to the end; drink through 2030. Broadbent Selections, Inc. Cellar Selection. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $43

91

Emiliana 2013 Coyam Los Robles Estate Organic (Colchagua Valley). Herbal plum and berry aromas are gamy almost to an extreme. This multigrape blend has a lot of Syrah and Carmenère in it, and that shows. The palate is muscular in feel, and quite meaty and rustic in flavors, with tastes of olive and beef jerky. A blackened finish is more dark and oaky than fruity. Banfi Vintners. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $35


BUYINGGUIDE

91

Santa Ema 2014 Catalina (Maipo Alto). For full review see page 176. abv: 14% Price: $50

91

Viña Bisquertt 2014 La Joya Gran Reserva Winemaker’s Red Blend (Colchagua Valley). Earthy, gamy aromas are intense and suggest meaty berry fruits and animal hide. In the mouth, this mystery red blend feels jammy but soft at its core. Baked black-fruit and chocolate flavors finish with a chewy texture and notes of fudge and cassis. For the price, this is a generous wine that overdelivers; drink through 2019. Prestige Beverage Group. Best Buy. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $15

90

Tres Palacios 2014 Cholqui Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot (Maipo Valley). Dark fruit and earthy, gamy aromas include hints of carob, chocolate and vanilla. This is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot; on the palate, it feels chewy, jammy and saturated. Oaky flavors come in front of caramel, chocolate and smothered berry fruit notes, while this is thick on the finish. Skurnik Wines, Inc. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $40

89

Andes Plateau 2014 700 High Altitude (Maipo Valley). Aromas of raw oak, vanilla, balsamic vinegar and olive crowd out blackberry and cassis notes. This Cabernet Sauvignon-led blend feels a bit reduced and choppy. Herbal berry and chocolate flavors finish dry due to hard, almost abrasive tannins. Pacific Rim Wine Logistics. —M.S. abv: 13.6% Price: $35

88

Chono 2014 Entre Cordilleras Dalca Series (Cauquenes Valley). Jammy aromas of raisin and baking spices are a touch herbal. This kitchensink blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Garnacha, Petit Verdot and Tempranillo feels rugged and grating. Classic Chilean flavors of reedy plum, berry and tomato end with a minty green note and a touch of fennel. Regal Wine Imports Inc. Best Buy. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $13

87

Trio 2014 Reserva Premium Blend (Maipo Valley). Heavily charred and roasted plum and berry aromas become greener upon full inspection. This blend of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc along with Syrah feels tight, with chewy tannins. Herbal plum flavors are peppery and spicy, with a green note popping up prior to a somewhat hot finish. Saranty Imports. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $17

86

MontGras 2014 XX Celebration Series Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenère (Chile). Earthy, leathery plum aromas are dense and stewy more than bright. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère feels soft, jammy and saturated. Blackened, peppery flavors of lightly stewed berry fruits and plum taste of resiny oak, graphite and pepper on a plump finish. Esprit du Vin. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $16

87

Oveja Negra 2014 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah (Colchagua Costa). Spicy plum, berry and herbal aromas cover the bases. This Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah blend is drawing and pulling on the palate. Raw, spicy flavors of toasty plum and herbs finish with a dominant note of wood spice. Old Bridge Cellars. Best Buy. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $11

192 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

91

Garzón 2015 Single Vineyard Tannat (Uruguay). For full review see page 174. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

91

Montes Toscanini 2013 Gran Premium Unfiltered Tannat (Canelones). Ripe spicy berry aromas include welcome notes of wood grain and pencil eraser. This full tannic Tannat is a big load. Savory flavors of baked plum, tea, spice and chocolate finish with oak-driven complexity. Best from 2020– 2026. Oak Beverages Inc. Cellar Selection. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $44

90

Bouza 2017 Albariño (Montevideo). For full review see page 173. Editors’ Choice. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

El Capricho 2015 Reserve Tannat (Durazno). Aromas of crushed stone and graphite lead toasty, charred berry scents. This Tannat feels fresh and lively, with a full body benefitting from bracing acidity. Lightly herbal plum and berry flavors are Bordeaux-like, while this feels dry and tastes a bit salty on the finish. Drink through 2021. Nawrocki Imports. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $22

87

90

URUGUAY ALBARIÑO

91

Garzón 2016 Reserva Albariño (Uruguay). A mix of tropical fruit, peach pit and apple aromas lead to a sold palate. Basic white-fruit flavors suggest pineapple and a skins-based note of bitterness that persists on the finish. Drink now. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $17

86

Bouza 2016 Albariño (Montevideo). Rich peach and floral tones on the nose have a slight struck-match quality to them. This warmclimate Albariño is ripe and round, with notably low acidity. Sweet honeyed flavors of melon and mango finish heady and chunky. Drink immediately. Elixir Wine Group. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $25

88

In Situ 2014 Signature Wines Cabernet Sauvignon-Sangiovese (Aconcagua Valley). Leathery cherry aromas are pinched at first, then earthy and dusty. This uncommon blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese is nicely built and solid in feel. Chocolaty plum and berry flavors are lightly herbal and show a flash of cheesy oak on the finish. Joseph Victori Wines. Best Buy. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $13

icon wine from Deicas, then cellar it for another few years or serve it now with a good steak or lamb. Paul Hobbs Selections. Cellar Selection. —M.S. abv: 13% Price: $189

TANNAT

92

Bouza 2015 B6 Parcela Única Tannat (Canelones). For full review see page 170. Editors’ Choice. abv: 15% Price: $43

91

Bouza 2015 Reserva Tannat (Montevideo). For full review see page 173. Editors’ Choice. abv: 15% Price: $22

91

Familia Deicas 2013 Massimo Deicas Tannat (Uruguay). High-quality aromas of graphite, lavender and grapey black fruits are singing. This Tannat is sinewy on the palate, with jagged tannins. Savory saturated berry and plum flavors are full and meaty, while oak and leathery notes grace the finish. If you’re going to invest in this high-priced

Familia Deicas 2015 Deicas Tannat (Uruguay). For full review see page 177. abv: 14% Price: $24

90

Narbona 2013 Roble Tannat (Uruguay). Ripe berry and prune aromas are accented by licorice and raw oak scents. Clampy tannins and bright acidity create a high-energy palate, while this tastes of peppery black plum and blackberry. Heat and chocolate-mint dominate a bold bright finish. Drink through 2020. Classic Wines, Inc. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $35

89

Artesana 2015 Tannat (Canelones). Dusty berry aromas come with a hint of spice. This Tannat from a strong vintage displays proper grip on a solidly built, compact palate. Herbal plum and berry flavors end with dry peppery woody notes. Drink through 2019. Deschere’s Selected Wines & Spirits. —M.S. abv: 13.8% Price: $18

89

Familia Deicas 2015 Domaine Castelar Vineyard Tannat (Canelones). An opaque color is appropriate for this fully extracted Tannat. Aromas of blackberry, sandalwood and exotic spices are a strong point, while the palate is primed with grating acidity. Full blackberry, cassis and herbal flavors finish cool and toasty but long due to the wine’s full-force acidity. Paul Hobbs Selections. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $40

88

Antigua Bodega Stagnari 2015 Pedregal Roble Tannat (Canelones). Brambly berry aromas include a note of blueberry as well as a hint of oaky char. This Tannat feels wiry as things con-


Š2015 Rodney Strong Vineyards, Healdsburg, CA

Discover the Secret For over 50 years, we’ve been growing wine grapes on the great wine sites and soils of Alexander Valley. With our vineyards and our never-ending dedication to quality, we craft artisan wines that will exceed your expectations. Place Matters. Discover authentic wines from Sonoma County.


BUYINGGUIDE dense at the center of the palate. Peppery spice and blackened oak flavors are more out front than the fruit, while this is toasty on the finish. Beviamo. Best Buy. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $13

laty oak. A finish with manageable tannins is the close. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $20

87

Bracco Bosca 2016 Ombú Reserve Tannat (Atlantida). Oaky spice aromas are up front on a nose that also shows berry and prune notes. This is fleshy and tannic in feel. Flavors of blackberry, wood grain and chocolate finish dry and firm, with wood-spice flavors. Spain Wine Collection. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $21

Montes Toscanini 2015 Criado en Roble Tannat (Canelones). No kidding that this was aged in oak (Criado en Roble). It smells charred and toasty, with resiny aromas thrown in. A full, seemingly healthy palate can handle the high level of wood this has, but, in the end, oak is mostly what this tastes like. A dry spicy tannic finish doesn’t break the chain. Oak Beverages Inc. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $20

88

Gimenez Mendez 2015 Alta Reserva Tannat (Uruguay). Warm baked aromas of oak resin and spice cake turned more charred as this Tannat opens. A pulling bone-dry palate is rough, while spicy savory black-fruit flavors finish resiny and oaky, with barrel-based chocolate residuals. Vinaio Imports. —M.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $23

86

88

86

88

Pisano 2011 Arretxea Grand Reserve Estate Bottled Tannat (Progreso). A mixture of spice, raisin and cheese aromas makes for a challenging nose and first impression. In the mouth, this Tannat clamps down hard with tannins. Roasted, oaky blackberry flavors are dark and spicy, while the finish is rugged and pounding, with savory lasting flavors. Total Wine & More. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $40

Bodegas Carrau 2011 Amat Cerro Chapeu Tannat (Uruguay). At first, this Tannat smells chalky and minerally; later it’s leafy and a touch soapy in aromas. A fierce angular palate delivers tart black-plum flavors with tea notes. The finish is linear and long due to hard-driving acidity. MHW, Ltd. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $32

Familia Deicas 2015 Valle de los Manantiales Vineyard Tannat (Maldonado). Jumpy, jammy aromas of foxy black fruits are slightly volatile. This has a narrow mouthfeel that’s high in acidity. Blackened berry flavors are spicy and peppery, while this Tannat is toasty on a live-wire acidic finish. Paul Hobbs Selections. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $40

91

Narbona NV Blend 002 Limited Edition Tannat-Cabernet Franc (Uruguay). Cherry and berry aromas are ripe, healthy and aided by peppery notes and char. This is a nonvintage blend of Tannat and Cab Franc from the southwestern Carmelo district. It’s flush and thorough in feel, with dark plum, berry and spice flavors. A warm finish with spicy oak and cocoa notes is smooth and attractive; drink through 2020. Classic Wines, Inc. Editors’ Choice. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $22

91

Pizzorno 2011 Primo (Uruguay). Spicy oak aromas suggest sandalwood, while this Tannat blend also deals scents of plum, cherry and rose petal. A snappy palate has the right grip and balance, while generous flavors of oaky plum and berry fruits finish with firm acidity and loud barrel notes. Drink through 2021. Sommelier Imports. —M.S. abv: 13% Price: $50

90

Pizzorno 2013 Select Blend Reserva (Canelones). Earthy, dusty, slightly cheesy plum and cassis aromas come with a floral note. This Tannat-led blend feels plummy and healthy, with direct acidity. Blackberry, plum and fig flavors finish smooth and chocolaty, with residual berry fruit. Drink through 2019. Sommelier Imports. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $20

89

Ariano Hermanos 2013 Don Adelio Reserve Tannat-Cabernet Franc (Canelones). A brick-like tint and dry dusty spicy aromas of dried red fruits and tomato form the opening of this Tannat-Cab Franc blend. Despite medium acidity, this comes across as creamy. Flavors of caramel and saucy red fruits finish soft and a touch flat. Drink through 2019. Jacques Vieau, Inc. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $16

88

85

87

85

88

87

85

88

Pizzorno 2013 Reserva Tannat (Canelones). A seemingly reduced nose smells of alfalfa and grass, even more so than fruit. Shrill acidity is loud for Uruguayan Tannat. Herbal grapey plum flavors are salty, while this is full of tension and acidity on the finish. Sommelier Imports. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $20 Antigua Bodega Stagnari 2013 Prima Donna Crianza en Roble Tannat (Canelones). A reduced nose gives off aromas of charred black fruits and pencil eraser. This Tannat is saturated in color and pulpy in feel. Flavors of salty plum and minty oak end with a raisiny note and acidic push. Beviamo. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $19 Bracco Bosca 2015 Ombú Tannat (Atlantida). Warm earthy berry aromas are mostly solid. This Tannat has a fresh rubbery mouthfeel and dark peppery flavors of mixed black fruits. The finish deals chocolate, coffee and spice notes. For entrylevel Uruguayan Tannat, this is a good one. Spain Wine Collection. Best Buy. —M.S. abv: 13.6% Price: $11

87

Garzón 2014 Varietals Tannat (Uruguay). Jammy aromas of floral berry fruits, lavender and violets are savory and stir interest. Drying tannins are the roughest part of a mostly balanced palate, while blue-fruit flavors are backed by choco-

194 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Ariano Hermanos 2011 Don Nelson Gran Reserva Edición Limitada Tannat (Canelones). Difficult aromas of cigar ash and hickory are forceful and dominate the nose as a pair. This Tannat stamps across the palate with loud acidity and hard tannins. Toasty woody berry and plum flavors are abrupt on a rough finish. Jacques Vieau, Inc. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $40 Bodegas Carrau 2015 Reserva Las Violatas Tannat (Uruguay). Black-cherry aromas include a note of rubber. This wine feels raw, linear and monotone. Lean punchy flavors of plum and currant are tart, while this finishes with drying tannins and notes of tomato and herbs. MHW, Ltd. —M.S. abv: 13% Price: $14 Narbona 2015 Puerto Carmelo Tannat (Uruguay). Leather and a mild green funkiness surround spicy berry and cherry aromas. This feels rather heavy and lacking in agility. Grapey flavors of baked berry fruits are overweight on a savorytasting finish. Classic Wines, Inc. —M.S. abv: 13% Price: $16

RED BLENDS

91

Bouza 2015 Monte Vide Eu Tannat-MerlotTempranillo (Montevideo). For full review see page 173. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14% Price: $60

Alto de la Ballena 2011 Reserve TannatViognier (Uruguay). This Tannat (with 15% Viognier) is full and oaky up front, with vanilla notes accenting berry aromas. Astringent tannins make for a rubbery palate. Lightly stewed flavors of plum and mixed spices finish long, with a note of herbal tomato. Classic Wines. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $19

Artesana 2015 Tannat-Merlot-Zinfandel (Canelones). Open-grained oak aromas sit on top of dark-berry scents. This blend of Tannat, Merlot and Zinfandel is ripe and beefy on the palate, with jammy weight. Toasty black-fruit flavors are peppery and spicy, while this displays a firm grip on a dark, smoky finish. Deschere’s Selected Wines & Spirits. —M.S. abv: 13.8% Price: $18

87

Alto de la Ballena 2012 Tannat-Merlot-Cabernet Franc Maldon (Uruguay). Oaky herbal plum and tomato aromas are woodsy and hint at sandalwood and bath oil. A tight dry tannic palate is home to prune, stewed berry and chocolate


pH. FERDINANDO SCIANNA

F UT U R O AN T IC O. The next step in our 630 year history. Niccolo Antinori, founder of Palazzo Antinori (1506) in the heart of florence, returns to the vineyards at the new winery Antinori nel Chianti Classico (2012). Discover more on www.antinori.it ANI 178596 Š2017 Imported from Italy by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Ltd., Woodinville, WA 98072


BUYINGGUIDE flavors. On the finish, a sense of mild overripeness is reflected via raisiny notes. Classic Wines. —M.S. abv: 13.6% Price: $14

86

Viñedo de los Vientos 2012 Eolo Gran Reserva (Atlantida). Tarry grit and char are the lead aromas on this Tannat that contains 15% Ruby Cabernet, which is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan. This is rough in feel, with shearing tomato-like acidity. Tomato, red plum and herbal flavors finish dry. T. Edward Wines Ltd. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $23

85

Antigua Bodega Stagnari 2015 Pedregal Roble Tannat-Merlot (Canelones). This opaque purple blend of Tannat and Merlot opens with heavy oak aromas that suggest carob, plastic and cheese. A full, scratchy palate with rubbery tannins is bold and tastes savory and stewed, with notes of black plum keeping it afloat. A lightly herbal finish is efficient. Beviamo. —M.S. abv: 13% Price: $13

85

Familia Traversa 2015 Noble Alianza Reserva Marselan-Tannat-Merlot (Uruguay). Woody berry aromas are solid but standard. This blend of Marselán, Tannat and Merlot is hard as nails, with rubbery tannins. Saucy plum flavors are green and spicy, while this shows abrasive residual tannins on a firm but limited finish. Traversa USA. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $13

BRAZIL SPARKLING WINES

while this blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir feels citrusy, high in acidity and chalky. Green apple and orange flavors finish stony and crisp. Wine For The World. —M.S. abv: 12.5% Price: $36

88

Casa Valduga NV 130 Brut (Brazil). Briny stone-fruit aromas are sweetened by notes of apple blossom. A full, slightly foamy palate is lively but brusque, while this tastes of yeasty peach and apricot in front of a mildly bitter finish. Heritage Link Brands. —M.S. abv: 12.5% Price: $33

Casa Perini NV Charmat Brut Rosé (Vale Trentino). Peach pit and citrus-rind aromas are solid, focused and dry. This brut rosé feels sound and round, but foamy. Cantaloupe and peach flavors maintain the palate’s yeasty notes while turning slightly bitter. Quintessential Wines. —M.S. abv: 11.8% Price: $20

87

Cave Geisse NV Cave Amadeu Rosé Brut (Pinto Bandeira). Mild citrus aromas are aided by crushed mineral notes. This rosé feels chunky as it blows up on the palate with a cloud of foam. Apricot and orange flavors finish foamy and yeasty in flavor. Wine For The World. —M.S. abv: 12% Price: $25

86

Casa Valduga 2015 Blush (Brazil). Yeasty briny aromas are a bit pickled and not very fruity. This rosé feels yeasty and not very tight or expressive. Flavors of tropical fruits and melon don’t change much on a quick-passing finish. Heritage Link Brands. —M.S. abv: 12% Price: $23

86

89

86

Cave Geisse 2012 Blanc de Blancs Brut (Pinto Bandeira). Dusty white-fruit aromas are mild and slightly floral. This 100% Chardonnay is sturdy on the palate but a bit foamy. Aged, yeasty flavors of white bread and white fruits are steady on a bready tasting finish. Wine For The World. —M.S. abv: 12.5% Price: $45

88

Casa Perini NV Moscatel (Vale Trentino). Attractive aromas of gardenia, lemon-lime soda and lychee fruit set up a full foamy sugarenriched palate with an acidic cut. Quick easy flavors of green melon and lychee are lasting on the finish. If you like sparking Moscato, this is your type of wine. Quintessential Wines. —M.S. abv: 7.5% Price: $20

88

Cave Geisse 2014 Brut (Pinto Bandeira). Pear, apple and wet-stone aromas are tight,

196 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

85

Salton NV Poética Rosé (Brazil). A dark salmon color and yeasty soapy aromas announce a bubbly that’s not fully fresh or fruity. On the palate, this is low on acidity and short on bubbles. Yeasty melon and citrus flavors are short and soft on a low-acid finish. A & M Imports. —M.S. abv: 12% Price: $NA

RED WINES

87

89

Cave Geisse 2013 Brut Nature (Pinto Bandeira). Stony polished white-fruit aromas are lean and clean. This brut nature shows modest heft as it expands on the palate, but mostly this is racy and fit. Yeasty flavors of white pepper and lime finish with a leesy note and stoniness. Wine For The World. —M.S. abv: 12.5% Price: $36

brine. This Brazilian brut feels standard and regular. Peachy flavors are mild and a touch grassy, while this feels waxy on the finish. Heritage Link Brands. —M.S. abv: 12% Price: $23

Cave Geisse NV Cave Amadeu Moscatel (Pinto Bandeira). Aromas of lemon-lime and lemon-scented household cleaner precede an easy palate with soft bubbles. Lime and lychee flavors are textbook for Moscatel, while this feels pretty good and not cloying on the finish. Wine For The World. —M.S. abv: 7.5% Price: $25 Miolo 2012 Millésime Brut (Vale dos Vinhedos). Briny grassy aromas of apple and citrus are yeasty as well. This Chardonnay-Pinot Noir blend is foamy and active, while flavors run towards slightly bitter and yeasty, with fruit hard to find. A similar finish renders this good but with issues. Mazeray Corp. —M.S. abv: 12% Price: $30

86

Salton NV Intenso Brut (Serra Gaúcha). A light color and tropical aromas of lime and lychee set up a full but flaccid palate. Yeasty bready flavors are less than fruity, while this tastes similar on a low-acid finish. A & M Imports. —M.S. abv: 11.5% Price: $NA

85

Casa Valduga 2015 Brut (Brazil). Neutral aromas include hints of sea foam and salty

86

Casa Perini 2012 Quatro (Vale Trentino). A sniff of this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tannat and Ancellotta is like a walk through the sawmill. Given how oaky this smells, it’s no surprise that the palate is resiny in feel, with dry woody plum flavors. Additional oak dominates the finish on this one-dimensional barrel blaster. Quintessential Wines. —M.S. abv: 12.5% Price: $60

85

Miolo 2012 Lote 43 Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon (Vale dos Vinhedos). A stewy nose includes notes of mashed leaves, herbal berry fruits, prune and black tea. The palate on this Merlot-Cab Sauvignon blend is heavily extracted and jammy, with hard-pounding tannins. A fully oaked set of black-fruit flavors moves towards prune, raisin and chocolate on the finish. Mazeray Corp. —M.S. abv: 14% Price: $33

85

Salton 2014 Paradoxo Pinot Noir (Campanha). A dark color and a soft nose with woodsy cherry scents form the greeting on this Brazilian Pinot Noir. Despite being dark and seemingly dense, this feels scalped and high in acidity. Dry but bland flavors of plum and black cherry are slightly bitter prior to a modest finish. A & M Imports. —M.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $NA

CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAY

96

Ryan Cochrane 2015 Solomon Hills Vineyard Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley). This bottling from the San Francisco-based producer is about as Burgundian as California gets. Aromas of honeydew rinds, Meyer lemon pith and honeysuckle meet with briny chalk, chiseled marble and a touch of almond warmth on the nose. The extremely fresh, clean and chalky palate shows stunning texture as well as rounded lemon blossom, sea salt and the faintest butter flavor. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 13.4% Price: $36


91 Points Estate Sauvignon Blanc

92 Points Estate Red

90 Points Estate Chardonnay Steve Nelson, Winemaker

World-Class Wines for Over 4 Decades Our highly coveted wines are rich in character, distinction and elegance. From the Estate wines grown on our stunning 1,300 acre wine estate in the Chalk Hill appellation of the Russian River Valley, to our Sonoma Coast wines introduced in 2012, Chalk Hill offers exceptional wines for everyone. 10300 Chalk Hill Road, Healdsburg, California 95448 | www.chalkhill.com


BUYINGGUIDE

95

Benovia 2015 Three Sisters Chardonnay (Fort Ross-Seaview). For full review see page 163. abv: 14.2% Price: $48

95

Gary Farrell 2015 Russian River Selection Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). For full review see page 163. abv: 13.8% Price: $35

95

Metzker Family Estates 2015 Laurent Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). For full review see page 164. abv: 13.5% Price: $65

95

MacPhail 2015 Pratt Vineyard Vine Hill Road Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). This wine is undeniably floral and voluptuous and hard to resist on the nose alone. Honeysuckle, lemon peel and flint tease and please around a focused core of oak and gritty texture of stone. Full bodied, it’s lush and slightly reduced—a compelling statement on power and grace. —V.B. abv: 14.7% Price: $45

95

Talley 2015 Oliver’s Vineyard Chardonnay (Edna Valley). For full review see page 164. abv: 14.1% Price: $38

94

Aether Wine Company 2014 Sierra Madre Vineyard Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley). This is a very strong showing for a brand new brand, thanks, no doubt, to veteran winemaker Jeff Fink’s involvement. Tight on the nose with Meyer lemon pith, savory salts and a waft of oak smoke, the palate explodes with chalky tension and rich yet bright complexity. Flavors of white lily, peach and sea salt ride atop melted butter, leading into a caramelized finish. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 13.2% Price: $36

94

Benovia 2015 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). For full review see page 165. abv: 14.1% Price: $36

94

Bien Nacido 2015 Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley). Crushed sea shells and chalk meet with lemon blossoms, citrus rinds, baked pears and a touch of butter on the nose of this excellent bottling. Juicy lemon and brisk salinity drive the palate, with judicious acid cutting through the Gravenstein apple and lightly roasted macadamia nut flavors. —M.K. abv: 13% Price: $45

94

Brewer-Clifton 2015 3D Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills). There is a strong pithy character to the nose of this wine, with aromas of Meyer lemon peel, grapefruit rind, Brie cheese wash, yogurt and wet rock. The palate is really tightly wound and also full of that tight pith character, with ethereal and wispy flavors of clean smoke, chalk and ash. The acidity is soft but penetrating. —M.K. abv: 14% Price: $75

94

Clos du Val 2015 Estate Chardonnay (Carneros). New management, farming

198 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

and winemaking practices at this producer, including a focus on smaller production, are remarkably on display in this delicious white. Golden pear and crunchy apple provide an unctuous, delightfully balanced experience that’s crisp in underlying acidity and subtle baking spice. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $32

94

Donkey & Goat 2016 Linda Vista Vineyard Chardonnay (Napa Valley). This vineyard is in the West Oak Knoll area of the valley. The wine was left unfined and unfiltered by the winemakers, who employ native yeast for fermentation. Juicy stone fruit and zippy acidity strike a chord of balance and complexity that’s low in oak and deliciously crisp in peach. —V.B. abv: 11.7% Price: $32

94

Hertelendy 2014 Chardonnay (Napa Valley). For full review see page 165. abv: 14.7% Price: $85

93

Longboard 2015 Rochioli Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). For full review see page 168. abv: 13.6% Price: $49

93

Wild Horse 2014 Cheval Sauvage Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley). For full review see page 169. abv: 14.9% Price: $35

92

Cambria 2015 West Point Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley). This new project focusing on specific blocks of the historic Cambria Vineyard on the Santa Maria Bench starts with very subtle and restrained aromas of nectarine, lemon cream and a hint of grapefruit pith. The palate is fresh with lime and toasted coconut flavors, held up by a backbone of strong acid that keeps it from spilling toward overripe qualities. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $36

94

92

94

92

Lynmar 2015 Old Vines Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). From older vines planted on the producer’s estate Quail Hill Vineyard, this wine is thickly concentrated, with a generosity of oak. Creamy, intense and well made, it features complex layers of golden apple, butter and lemon bar. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $70 Patz & Hall 2015 Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay (Carneros). This is a highly perfumed and floral wine from the famous site, which is tangy and slightly tart within a medium-bodied frame. Lemon and baked apple play off each other with ease, as a metallic edge of stony minerality persists and expands. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $60

Foley 2015 Bar Lazy S Ranch Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills). Clean and easy lines of sea salt, pan-fried nectarine, light honeysuckle and a hint of sweet chive show on the nose of this bottling. The rounded mouthfeel brings forth flavors of buttered apples, salted pear slices and lemon curd, and there is a tannic tension that binds it all together. —M.K. abv: 14.3% Price: $45 Foley 2015 JA Ranch Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills). The tang of orange rinds and fresh lemon cake meet with hints of toasted coconut and white flowers on the nose of this solid bottling by Bill Foley’s eponymous winery. The texture is crisp but grippy and tense on the sip, with seared orange slices and oak smoke flavors. —M.K. abv: 14.3% Price: $45

94

92

94

92

Talley 2015 Rosemary’s Chardonnay (Arroyo Grande Valley). Spectacular aromas of sea salt, dried lemon peels, seared mandarins, chamomile, lemongrass, kaffir lime and plumeria make the mouth water simply upon smelling this savory wine. The sip is loaded with tension and judicious acidity, and yet the flavors are soft, from lemon meringue to crisp pluot and vanilla dust. —M.K. abv: 13.4% Price: $48 Two Sisters 2015 Courtney’s Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills). For full review see page 167. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14.3% Price: $55

93

Chateau Montelena 2014 Chardonnay (Napa Valley). This is a dreamy creamy white founded in stony mineral and juicy acidity that shows a mix of baked apple, pineapple and melon. A tease of green olive provides a briny, salty edge to its tense balance. A lingering hint of vanilla oak figures prominently on the lengthy floral finish. —V.B. abv: 13.6% Price: $58

Frank Family 2015 Lewis Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay (Carneros). This is an invitingly floral, textural and rich white wine that’s full bodied and lush on the palate. Tropical pineapple, guava and mango are highlighted in deeper, darker tones of honey and caramel, with a foundation of present, integrated oak. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $65

Landmark 2015 Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay (Carneros). From a well-farmed site, this wine is invitingly floral in apple-blossom notes, followed by fully developed flavors of peach and meringue. Earthy and complete, it offers concentration and balance. —V.B. abv: 14.3% Price: $45

92

Talley 2015 Rincon Chardonnay (Arroyo Grande Valley). Plump aromas of white peach, lemon syrup, butterscotch and prominent oak show on the nose of this bottling, one of the richer ones in the current Talley lineup. The oak smoke flavors mix with vanilla and a finish of caramel on the palate, but the winery’s reliably bright acidity hold the larger elements in check. —M.K. abv: 13.3% Price: $44


Be part of the

    

by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)

Bordeaux, France.

Légende, the taste of elegance. www.lafite.com CAMPAIGN FINANCED WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

©2017 ESPRIT DU VIN, BOCA RATON, FL • EDVWINES.COM


BUYINGGUIDE

92

Two Sisters 2015 Courtney’s Vineyard Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills). Tangy aromas of lemon curd meet with warmer touches of Marcona almonds and cider-laced popcorn on the dynamic nose of this bottling. The palate starts with a melted butter richness before tangy citrus peels and savory sea salts combine for a long finish, where both butterscotch and vanilla also make an appearance. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $40

91

Barra of Mendocino 2016 Estate Grown Chardonnay (Mendocino). For full review see page 173. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14.5% Price: $18

91

Brewer-Clifton 2015 Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills). Seared lemon peels, densely packed honeysuckle, Brie rind and white-ash aromas show on the nose of this appellation blend from the regional superstars, which recently became part of the Jackson Family of wines. The palate is tightly wound with grapefruit pith and a lemon spray-laced acidity that provides ample structure, carrying the slightest bit of riper stone fruit at the core. —M.K. abv: 14% Price: $40

91

Coquelicot 2016 Estate Chardonnay (Los Olivos District). The nose on this bottling leans a bit sweet yet remains zesty, with ripe apples, pears, lime sorbet and lemon-lime soda. But the sip is racy and sizzling with buoyant acidity, delivering tightly wound Bosc pear and Gravenstein apple flavors doused with citrus spray. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $26

91

Duckhorn 2015 Chardonnay (Napa Valley). For full review see page 174. abv: 14.1% Price: $35

91

Foley 2015 T Anchor Ranch Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills). Buttercream, sweet butter, marmalade, baking spice, brown sugar and sea salt converge on the nose of this bottling, named after the Foley family’s Texas ranches. Sea salt, vanilla, lemon peel and frozen-butter flavors show on the sip, which is fatter in the midpalate but cut by the savory saltiness. —M.K. abv: 14.1% Price: $45

91

Hess 2015 The Lioness Estate Grown Chardonnay (Napa Valley). For full review see page

174. abv: 14.8%

Price: $60

91

La Crema 2015 Kelli Ann Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). For full review see page 175. abv: 14.5% Price: $40

91

Pellegrini 2016 Unoaked Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). Unadorned by oak, this focused white is a mix of sweet peach and succulent citrus. Its backbone of juicy fruit is layered and deliciously crisp. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $35

200 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

91

Sonoma-Loeb 2015 Envoy Chardonnay (Carneros). This wine is made with grapes from the Sangiacomo Vineyard and barrel fermented to produce a richly layered expression of peach, pear and stony minerality. With a grit of texture, it’s a fulsome, lush and voluptuous wine with a salty tease. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $38

177. abv: 14%

91

90

Tantara 2015 Dierberg Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley). Extremely clean on the nose, pure aromas of lemon mousse, coconut milk and white peach are cut by a chalky minerality and fresh lemongrass scent in this bottling. There’s a pencil shaving touch to the sip, which is a tad riper than expected, with mouth-watering lemon cake and cream flavors. —M.K. abv: 13.6% Price: $52

91

Tantara 2015 Talley Rincon Chardonnay (Arroyo Grande Valley). The intriguing nose on this bottling combines a bit of melted butterscotch and ripe white peach with a lime-spray freshness. There’s a strong flash of acidity at the tip of the sip, and then come more oaky flavors, showing toasted marshmallow, browned butter and a hint of caramel. —M.K. abv: 13% Price: $52

it settles into a balanced mineral-laden place of gravelly texture. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $26

90

90

Gloria Ferrer 2015 Jose S. Ferrer Estate Reserve Selection Chardonnay (Carneros). Voluptuously lush and creamy, this is thick in vanilla swirls and crème brûlée, with full-bodied concentration of baked apple. Rich and round, it finishes in a yeasty tone of brioche. —V.B. abv: 14.3% Price: $40

90

Hess 2015 Estate Grown Chardonnay (Napa Valley). For full review see page 178. abv: 14.2% Price: $22

90

Joullian 2015 Chardonnay (Monterey). For full review see page 178. abv: 14.1% Price: $25

90

91

90

Westwood 2015 Sangiacomo Vineyard Roberts Road Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast). A lush concentration of pineapple, pear and vanilla takes root in this richly layered and complex wine. With a voluptuous midpalate, it has a lingering thread of acidity on the finish that’s like a succulent bite of tangerine. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $44

91

Zaca Mesa 2015 Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley). Light and subtle yet distinct aromas of pineapple meet with crushed white rocks on the nose of this bottling. Pineapple juice flavors also arise on the palate, with is lean and crisp with touches of ripe lemon and pear flesh. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $28

90

Balletto 2016 Teresa’s Unoaked Estate Grown Estate Bottled Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). For full review see page 177. abv: 13.4% Price: $20

90

Cuvaison 2015 Estate Grown Chardonnay (Carneros). Within an intense cradling of oak, this wine offers big flavors of green apple and toasted vanilla. Full bodied and richly concentrated,

Price: $35

Gen5 2015 Chardonnay (Lodi). For full review see page 182. Best Buy. abv: 13.8% Price: $12

91

Tantara 2015 Zotovich Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills). Light, fresh and yet slightly rich on the nose, this bottling shows aromas of white flower, Asian pear and lemon-laced crème brûlée. There is strong grip to the sip, with tight lime peel and pith flavors as well as hints of white peach flesh and honeysuckle. Roasted nuts arise on the finish. —M.K. abv: 13.6% Price: $52

Flora Springs 2016 Family Select Chardonnay (Napa Valley). For full review see page

Kokomo 2015 Peters Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). Stone, lime salt and lemon zest pique the entry of this medium-bodied white, which is well-integrated in terms of oak. High in citrus flavor and pear, it has a gritty texture that gives it added complexity. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $32

La Crema 2015 Saralee’s Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). For full review see page 178. abv: 14.5% Price: $45

90

Landmark 2015 Overlook Chardonnay (Sonoma County). Richly soft, round and concentrated, this wine is exuberant in apple flavor, with a touch of stone fruit and papaya. It has a pleasing succulence that should broadly appeal. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $25

90

Mira 2016 Chardonnay (Napa Valley). Made from Robert Young-cloned grapes, this wine is perfumed in exotic lychee and briny, salty oak. Fulsome flavors of apple skin are generously expansive on the full-bodied palate. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $33

90

Monochrome 2016 Blasphemy Donnachadh Vineyard Chardonnay (California). Full bodied and full flavored, this barrel-fermented dry wine is bold and oaky in aromas, rich with ripe apple and pear flavors and accented by nutmeg, butter and vanilla. The texture is smooth but supported by good acidity, and it has mouth-filling viscosity that encourages a long finish. —J.G. abv: 13.7% Price: $50


BUYINGGUIDE

90

Point & Line 2015 Sierra Madre Vineyard Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley). For full review see page 179. abv: 13.9% Price: $40

90

Sonoma-Loeb 2015 Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay (Carneros). Tart ripe pineapple is given a caramel flip of richness and concentration in this lush integrated wine, that is heady in oak and made in a voluptuous style. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $27

90

Spicy Vines 2015 Foggy Mountain Chardonnay (Mendocino Ridge). This is a rich and well-balanced wine in which tempting vanilla and other baking spices are backed by crisp and ripe apple and pear flavors, and followed by a lingering, marzipan finish. —J.G. abv: 14.3% Price: $38

90

Tantara 2015 Tondre Chardonnay (Santa Lucia Highlands). The nose on this singlevineyard bottling is mellow at first but then allows very complex, nearly nose-tickling aromas of lemon peel, lime sorbet, Marcona almond and white peach to emerge. The sip starts crisp and clean before the more opulent white peach and honeysuckle flavors blend with a pinch of sea salt. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $52

90

Titus 2015 Chardonnay (Napa Valley). With a Good & Plenty candy nose of anise, this is a warm, thick, rich and concentrated white wine, intensely crafted to highlight crème brûlée and baked pear. The style is full-bodied and ripe. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

90

Truchard 2015 Chardonnay (Carneros). Moderate in oak and well-structured, this estate-grown wine is subdued and classy, with defined layers of green olive, juicy apple and lemongrass, a tiny hint of jalapeño adding a touch of spice. Food-friendly, it’ll complement a versatile range of dishes. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $30

90

Wente 2016 Eric’s Small Lot Unoaked Estate Chardonnay (Livermore Valley). This is a very good example of an unoaked Chardonnay. It has lots of zingy fresh-fruit aromas, lively citrus and green-apple flavors and good supportive acidity to keep the mouthfeel tangy. Winemaker Karl Wente made this one to please his no-frills dad, Eric Wente. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $30

89

Foley 2015 Barrel Select Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills). Plump aromas of lemon butter, gardenia and hot sourdough toast with tangerine marmalade show on the nose of this bottling. The palate is pillowy in texture, offering ripe flavors of peach custard, sea salt, butterscotch, tangy grapefruit and mandarin slices. —M.K. abv: 14.3% Price: $50

202 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

89

Nielson by Byron 2015 Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley). From Santa Barbara County’s first commercial vineyard, this bottling offers a clean line of lemon butter, toast and oak on the nose. A strong burst of acidity kicks off the sip, where warm brioche and fresh lemon-spray flavors ride a chalky texture. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $27

89

Rancho Sisquoc 2016 Flood Family Vineyards Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County). Mellow and pleasant aromas of nectarine, Bosc pear and Meyer lemon pith make for a very classically restrained Chardonnay on this bottling. There is solid zip to the sip, where high-toned and tightly wound flavors of citrus, honeysuckle and poached pear show. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $22

88

Criss Cross 2015 Chardonnay (Lodi). Salted peanuts in the aroma and buttered popcorn in the flavor make this an especially vivid wine that shows the dramatic effect of oak aging and malolactic fermentation. It is medium to full bodied, and has a soft, almost sweet sensation on the palate. —J.G. abv: 13.9% Price: $16

88

Falkner 2016 Chardonnay (Temecula Valley). Very tropical but fresh and clean aromas of pineapple, guava and lemongrass show on the nose of this bottling. It’s a bit fat on the sip with prominent guava and tropical flowers like plumeria, yet it’s a zesty well-made wine. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

88

Fallon Place 2015 La Cruz Vineyard Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast). Aged in neutral French oak for a year, this wine is dark gold in color and tingly in acidity. Apple skin, a low impact of oak and lemon meringue wrap around a lush palate. —V.B. abv: 13.9% Price: $38

88

Foley 2015 Steel Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills). Candied pineapple, spun sugar, ripe key lime peels and lemongrass show on the nose of this stainless steel-aged wine. The expected crispness shows on the sip as does an energetic and lively acidity, though the honeysuckle and lemon syrup flavors trend toward sweetness. —M.K. abv: 14.1% Price: $30

88

Girasole 2016 Chardonnay (Mendocino). On the reserved side, this trim wine has subtle fruit and vanilla aromas, mild apple and butter flavors and a good balance between acidity and ripeness. It’s a good value and a great choice for a nonshowy wine. —J.G. abv: 14% Price: $14

88

La Crema 2015 Chardonnay (Monterey). Fresh and light aromas of lemongrass, Pink Lady apples, guava soda and a hint of pineapple make for a slightly tropical but clean approach to this bottling. It’s fresh on the sip with spritzy acid-

ity and more tropical flavors of guava, mango, pineapple and tuberose. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $20

88

Mansfield-Dunne 2015 Petersen Vineyard Chardonnay (Santa Lucia Highlands). Melted butter aromas meet with hints of white peach, orangesicle and toasted oak on the nose of this bottling. The palate is soft and easy, with lemon, orange cream and more stone-fruit flavors, framed by long-simmering, lime-laced acidity. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $43

88

Meiomi 2016 Chardonnay (Monterey County-Sonoma County-Santa Barbara County). For one of the larger white wine bottlings in the world, this wine stays clean, crisp and compelling, which is quite a feat. A slight effervescence in the glass gives way to aromas of melon, lemon soda, mango, plumeria and cold steel. The palate is quite tight at first then opens toward guava, Anjou pear and pineapple. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $21

88

Michael David 2016 Chardonnay (Lodi). For full review see page 181. abv: 13.5% Price: $16

88

Midnight 2016 Chardonnay (Paso Robles Willow Creek District). The nose on this bottling is full of fresh Asian pear aromas along with hints of guava and ripe oranges, showing restraint from a warmer climate. There’s a good sizzle of acidity to start the sip, with flavors of poached pear, apple cream and citrus rinds rounding out the palate. —M.K. abv: 14.4% Price: $29

87

Bliss 2016 Estate Bottled Chardonnay (Mendocino). Forward aromas and flavors of vanilla and melted butter give a lot of richness to this medium-bodied wine. It has a candy-like quality and a creamy sweet-seeming finish. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $14

87

Concannon 2015 Chardonnay (Monterey County). The nose of this widely available bottling is very lively with pear-cider aromas as well as kaffir lime, lemongrass and coconut, reminiscent of Thai food. The sip starts with strong acidic energy and then slides into a flood of dried apples and ripe pears, proving a tad unctuous. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $20

87

Cooper-Garrod 2014 Gravel Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay (Santa Cruz Mountains). Dried lemon peels and a hint of butter-fried apples show on the nose. Strong lemon acidity drives the palate, with a touch of sea salt and stone fruit proving very familiar. —M.K. abv: 14.1% Price: $30

87

Hug 2015 Rancho Vinedo Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County). Quite yellow in the glass, this twist-top bottling shows a slight hint of reduc-


WINE ENTHUSIAST’S 2017 GIFT OF THE YEAR

iSOMMELIER SMART DECANTER Make Every Wine Taste Perfect in Minutes

ONLY

$499 + FREE SHIPPING*

DISCOVER MORE AT

Let’s Talk. 800.356.8466 *

O FFE R E N DS 12 / 31/ 17. F O R D E TA IL S V ISIT WIN E E N T H USIA S T.CO M


BUYINGGUIDE tion, with aromas of beeswax, lemon peel and yellow grapefruit pith. There’s a good sizzle of acidity to the palate and a steely texture, but it’s a tad ripe with lemon candy and spun-sugar flavors. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $32

87

Oak Grove 2016 Family Reserve Chardonnay (California). For full review see page 183. Best Buy. abv: 13% Price: $9

86

Frank Family 2015 Chardonnay (Carneros). This wine is highly ripe and voluptuous, with a distinct boldness of tropical flavor and almond paste. Full figured, it’s embraced by a generosity of oak that makes itself known. —V.B. abv: 14.4% Price: $35

86

87

Hahn 2016 Chardonnay (Monterey County). Buttercream aromas show shyly on the nose of this bottling, coating the pear flesh and fresh lime scents. It’s somewhat flat on the palate, with ripe Pink Lady apple and melon flavors. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $14

87

Beringer 2015 Founders’ Estate Chardonnay (California). Mildly fruity and very smooth in texture, this wine is quietly agreeable. It is medium to full bodied, feels rich on the palate and tastes ripe and subtle like honeydew melon. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.9% Price: $10

Save Me San Francisco 2014 Calling All Angels Chardonnay (California). This generous, fruity and lightly sweet wine should please a crowd with its butter and vanilla aromas, rich apple, pear and baking-spice flavors and rounded mouth-filling texture. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $10 Terlato 2015 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). This concentrated white is a mix of green olive and fig flavors that punctuate a thick full-bodied palate of toasted salty oak and lingering heat. —V.B. abv: 13.9% Price: $30

87

Vina Robles 2016 Chardonnay (Monterey). A rich nose of sweet orange mousse, lemon syrup and ripe apple flesh shows on this bottling from the Paso Robles producer. Lemon peels, pineapple and coconut flesh show on the sip, which is dusted with a touch of sea salt. —M.K. abv: 14.9% Price: $22

86

Auburn 2016 Chardonnay (Napa Valley). This is a simple, acid-driven white that’s light and bright with a restrained sense of ripeness. Tight-grained oak is wrapped around a buttery middle. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $36

86

Bogle 2016 Chardonnay (California). The smoky oaky aromas and spicy peppery flavors of this medium-bodied wine are undeniable and definitely dominate whatever modest fruit flavors lie underneath. It’s an assertive wine with a brash flavor profile. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $9

86

Ca’ Del Grevino 2014 Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley). There’s a crushed nut aroma on the nose of this bottling, along with sour tangerine and chamomile. Dried lemons and lime peels show on the sip, which is bitter with pithy flavors and framed with a bit of acidic zip. —M.K. abv: 14.49% Price: $75

86

Feist 2014 Chardonnay (California). Ripe and almost sweet, this medium-bodied wine has lots of butter and vanilla in the aromas, a flavor almost as rich as a vanilla milkshake, and a buttery texture. —J.G. abv: 13.9% Price: $22

204 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

85

85

Esser 2015 Chardonnay (Monterey County). A bit weak on the nose, this bottling gives off scents of charred toast and cold steel. The palate offers flavors of sour orange rind and tart apple flesh. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

85

Hanna 2015 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). This is a rich, thick and confectioneryfeeling white wine, that’s full bodied and brawny in style. Pineapple, marshmallow and green olive ride the midpalate before finishing simply. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $26

85

Member’s Mark 2016 Chardonnay (Central Coast). Candied yellow apples, sweet honeydew and very ripe Bosc pears show on the nose of this bottling. Tropical flavors of guava and tuberose dominate the sip, proving a tad thick and fruity. Best Buy. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $8

85

Russian Ridge 2016 Chardonnay (Santa Cruz Mountains). Quite weak on the nose, this bottling shows dried lemon skin and orange rind aromas. There is a decent texture to the sip, with flavors of lemon reduction and pithy grapefruit. —M.K. abv: 14.6% Price: $30

SAUVIGNON BLANC

93

Aesthete 2016 Dry Stack Vineyard White (Bennett Valley). For full review see page 167. abv: 14.4% Price: $55

92

Vermeil 2016 Frediani Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Calistoga). Neutral French oak played a part in this wine’s fermentation, giving it weight and substance without distraction. Exotic on the nose, it’s fleshy and high toned in guava and

lemon zest, with a memorable length of mineral-like stone that gives it texture and complexity. —V.B. abv: 13.9% Price: $30

91

Brassfield 2016 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (High Valley). This is a spicy, complex, oakaged and full-bodied wine instead of a simply herbal one, and it shows hints of ginger and nutmeg in the aroma leading to vibrant but subtle lemon and grapefruit flavors. The layers of spice and crisp fruit make a wonderful combination to sip and explore. —J.G. abv: 14.1% Price: $22

90

Concannon 2016 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma County). Gritty and grippy, this is a well-made reserve-level wine, bright in stone fruit and citrus, especially lemon pith. It offers weight and length in balance, with nuanced use of oak. —V.B. abv: 13.9% Price: $27

90

Eric Kent 2016 Cuvée Renee Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma County). Stone fruit and fuzz invite one into this soft silky white wine, buzzing in acidity and with an herbal backbone. Fresh and fruity, it develops into a lush experience of substance and style, finishing in a taste of vanilla bean. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $31

89

Rancho Sisquoc 2016 Flood Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc (Santa Barbara County). Green plum, mowed lawn, pungent green apple skins and a touch of candied peach ripeness make for a classic Sauv Blanc nose on this bottling from one of the region’s oldest producers. The palate is zippy with persistent and penetrating acidity, showing tight green apple and well as riper pineapple flavors, with a flash of vanilla toward the finish. —M.K. abv: 14.6% Price: $18

88

Buttonwood 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Santa Ynez Valley). Mellow aromas of Asian pear and guava meet with wet slate, tangerine and key lime on the subtle but fresh and inviting nose of this bottling. The crisp and clean flavors are subdued and easy to enjoy, with grapefruit and nectarine riding acidity that hits hard at first and then withers away. It’s a perfect sunny day wine. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $18

88

Château Souverain 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (California). For full review see page 182. Best Buy. abv: 13.3% Price: $13

88

Michael David 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Lodi). This medium-bodied, unbaked wine has light butter and fig aromas that lead to vivid citrus flavors and a good crisp balance. The wine is nicely dry, well-balanced and refreshing. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $16

88

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 2016 Aveta Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley). Zippy and fresh, this wine also offers deeper layers of papaya and guava that provide a confectionery complement


ZEN O LOGY

GIVE THE FINEST WINE GLASS EVER MADE Elegant and light, Zenology is the perfect glass to enhance the way you drink wine.

“Zenology is simply the best luxury wine glass I have ever used. I guarantee that once you hold Zenology in your hand you will never use another wine glass again.” - ADAM STRUM, Editor and Publisher, Wine Enthusiast Magazine

ZENOLOGY Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Glass

SETS OF 2

$50 DISCOVER MORE AT

Pinot Noir and Universal ZENOLOGY Wine Glasses Also Available

Let’s Talk. 800.356.8466


BUYINGGUIDE to the fruit. With a stony and gravelly texture on the palate, it spent time in both neutral French oak and stainless steel, and finishes up with honeydew melon flavor. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $26

88

William Hill Estate 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (North Coast). An aroma like fresh mint leaves and sage leads to lively, crisp lemon and lime flavors in this very refreshing wine. It has just the vibrant palate-cleansing qualities needed. —J.G. abv: 13.8% Price: $17

87

Brassfield 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (High Valley). This assertive, light-bodied wine has a definite herbaceous, veggie quality along with very crisp acidity. Light earthy white-pepper accents give it a spicy aspect too. —J.G. abv: 13.4% Price: $17

87

Dancing Bull 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (California). This wine is very fresh and crisp, with plenty of fresh herb aromas and vibrant grapefruit flavors. Light bodied and well balanced, it has good acidity and a snappy finish. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 12.5% Price: $12

87

Geyser Peak 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (California). For full review see page 183. Best Buy. abv: 13% Price: $12

87

Rose & Son 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Santa Barbara County). Crisp lemon, green apple and riper stone-fruit aromas are hidden behind a slightly reductive and rubbery touch on the nose of this new brand from the Coquelicot team. Grassy flavors show on the sip alongside Anjou pear. —M.K. abv: 12.9% Price: $20

87

Whitehall Lane 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Rutherford). High-pitched in freshness, this white includes 14% Sémillon, which accentuates a backbone of thick texture and measured oak. Light bodied, it offers flavors of fresh green apple, papaya and pear. —V.B. abv: 13.8% Price: $22

86

Markham 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley). This is a cheerful, concentrated white, stainless-steel fermented, that’s floral and nutty on the nose. Thick and rich on the palate, it dances in lemon essence and tropical pineapple. An additional 8% Sémillon is blended in. —V.B. abv: 13.8% Price: $19

86

Séamus Wines 2014 Shannon Wood Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Russian River Valley). This crisp tightly woven white is showy in fresh-cut grass and gooseberry flavors, with an underlying grasp of grapefruit and lemon. The texture is gritty. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $29

206 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

PINOT GRIGIO / PINOT GRIS

wine. Hints of butter and vanilla sneak in on the finish. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

90

87

90

86

Lichen Estate 2015 Gris Neighbors Pinot Gris (Anderson Valley). This is a flavorful fullbodied wine from a cool growing region that keeps a tangy balance to support the generous apple, white peach and mineral flavors. It offers more depth and concentration than most versions and will be enjoyable to drink before or during a meal. —J.G. abv: 13.9% Price: $25 MacMurray Estate Vineyards 2016 Pinot Gris (Russian River Valley). For full review see page 179. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

89

Boeger 2016 Pinot Gris (El Dorado). Crisp and bright in flavor like Pippin apples, this wine is light bodied, braced by good acidity and has a refreshing cleansing effect on the palate. With more character than many similar wines, it’s worth seeking out. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $16

88

Folie à Deux 2016 Pinot Gris (Sonoma Coast). Entirely varietal, this wine is simple in its embrace of peach, pineapple and guava flavors, leaning ripe and bright atop a direct hit of freshness. —V.B. abv: 13.6% Price: $18

Three Pears 2016 Pinot Grigio (California). Fruity in flavor and nicely rounded in texture, this medium-bodied wine from Napa-based Mason Cellars incorporates grapes from around the state. It has a good balance between lively acidity and rather ripe apple and melon flavors. —J.G. abv: NA Price: $14 Belle Ambiance 2016 Pinot Grigio (California). Apple, melon and a touch of vanilla give a tasty spectrum of aromas and flavors to this medium-bodied wine. It’s light enough to sip easily but has a bit of depth to the flavors that makes it interesting. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 12% Price: $10

86

Beringer 2016 Founders’ Estate Pinot Grigio (California). Light fresh aromas and flavors along with decent balance make this wine a versatile drink. The flavors are faint but clean, so it makes a good palate cleanser and should work well for a crowd. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $10

86

Mirassou 2016 Pinot Grigio (California). For full review see page 183. Best Buy. abv: 12.5% Price: $12

Terra d’Oro 2016 Pinot Grigio (Clarksburg). The aromas of this full-bodied sweet-seeming wine are floral and honey-like, followed by rich ripe honeydew melon and peach-syrup flavors and a soft mouth-clinging texture. It’s not the usual style, but tasty in its own right. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $16

88

85

88

Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi 2016 Pinot Grigio (California). Crisp in a very good way, this wine has lively lemon and green-apple aromas, flavors that are a bit riper than that and a texture that’s smooth without giving up a little nip of acidity. The wine has great balance, light body and a high refreshment quotient. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 12% Price: $8

87

Geyser Peak 2016 Pinot Grigio (California). Lively lemon and herb aromas and bright, vivid grapefruit flavors make this an eye-opening dry wine. It has plenty of good fruit acidity to whet the appetite for appetizers and seafood. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13% Price: $12

87

J Vineyards & Winery 2016 Pinot Gris (California). Very lean in mouthfeel and very dry and light in flavor, this refreshing wine adds cucumber flavors to lemon zest aromas. It’s light in body, crisp and tangy in texture. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $18

87

Kendall-Jackson 2015 Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Gris (California). Apples and pears in the aroma lead to easygoing fruit flavors and a soft broad texture in this medium-bodied fruit-forward

Gnarly Head 2016 California Pinot Grigio (California). This light-bodied wine has honeydew melon and cucumber aromas, subtle fruit flavors and a smooth soft texture. It’s easy to sip and is low in acidity. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 12% Price: $10

85

McManis 2016 Pinot Grigio (California). For full review see page 184. Best Buy. abv: 11.5% Price: $10

85

Muscardini 2015 Ansa Di Loval Pinot Grigio (Napa Valley). This wine is intensely floral and gritty on the palate, showing a fleshy cloying sense of ripeness. Melon, pear and fig highlight the fruit profile. —V.B. abv: 13.3% Price: $24

WHITE BLENDS

93

Bonny Doon 2014 Le Cigare Blanc Reserve (Central Coast). There’s a compellingly nutty warmth to the nose of this reserve blend of 66% Grenache Blanc and 34% Roussanne, with pecan and cashew aromas as well as more tart scents of key lime peels and lemon mousse. It lands heavily on the palate with roasted banana flavors


OUR MOST

FAVORITE REINDEER OF ALL FR EE STANDARD SHIPPING * ON ORDERS OF $99+

BLITZEN & VIXEN WINE BOTTLE STOPPERS

DISCOVER MORE AT

Let’s Talk. 800.356.8466 * O FFE R E N DS 12 / 31/ 17. F O R D E TA IL S V ISIT WIN E E N T H USIA S T.CO M


BUYINGGUIDE and a buttery midpalate, but it is cut immediately by a kumquat tartness. Fascinating sipper. —M.K. abv: 14% Price: $48

pears, dried mango and a woody, white mushroomlike earthiness. —M.K. abv: 13.8% Price: $30

93

91

95

92

90

95

Kimsey 2014 White Blend (Ballard Canyon). This blend of 70% Roussanne and 30% Viognier from one of the young appellation’s newer vineyards is a white Rhône done right, balancing restraint with ripeness. Aromas of beeswax, daffodil, yellow rose and ambrosia melon rind lead into a fresh, tightly wound palate of lemon mousse, yellow apple skins and cherimoya, all framed by a chalky grip. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 14.4% Price: $60 Bonny Doon 2014 Le Cigare Blanc (Central Coast). Crisp and clean aromas of chalk and lime pith meet with riper touches of honeydew and Anjou pear on the nose of this blend of 66% Grenache Blanc and 34% Roussanne, which hints at a biting acidity on the sip. The freshness extends to the palate, where riper guava tones are deftly cut by citrus peels and finished with a minty lift. The structure is tense and ideal, while the acidity is available but not overwhelming. —M.K. abv: 14.1% Price: $28

92

Monochrome 2016 Analog In A Digital Age (California). Luscious ripe fruit flavors are balanced by great acidity in this rich but vibrant wine that’s blended from Marsanne and Chardonnay. Honeydew melon and white-peach flavors fan out on the palate as the wine’s generous texture coats the palate. Subtle spices like vanilla, white pepper and ginger add complexity. —J.G. abv: 14.8% Price: $38

91

Lichen Estate 2015 Les Pinots Noir & Gris (Anderson Valley). This is an unusually substantive and aromatic white wine made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris that’s also light in alcohol. A winemaker would say it has lots of phenolics, meaning the flavor and texture characteristics that come from the grape skins. The aromas are like apple skin and mild spices and the flavors mimic apricot and white peach. It feels full on the palate and well balanced by acidity. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 12.2% Price: $32

91

Monochrome 2016 Variations on a Theme (California). Subtle savory mineral flavors and an impressive mouth-filling texture give a unique personality to this medium-bodied wine. An unusual blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Marsanne, it has tangy acidity offset by hints of richness while lemon and crisp apple flavors light up the palate. —J.G. abv: 13.4% Price: $35

91

Tercero 2014 Verbiage Blanc (Santa Barbara County). This blend of 64% Roussanne, 24% Viognier and 12% Grenache Blanc from White Hawk, Camp 4 and Zaca Mesa vineyards begins with an oily nose of dried apricots, dried apples, smoke and intriguing pecan and macadamia nuttiness. The palate is crisp and more restrained, offering honey,

208 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Zaca Mesa 2015 Z Blanc (Santa Ynez Valley). Well integrated aromas of Meyer lemon skins, beeswax, Bosc pear, nectarine, lime blossom and crushed chalk show on the nose of this blend of 68% Grenache Blanc, 27% Roussanne and 5% Viognier. Tightly wound flavors of cantaloupe rind, key lime pith and lemon peels lead into a squeaky finish. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $22

Luna Hart 2016 Aurora (Santa Barbara County). This tradition-bucking blend of 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Viognier, 20% Sémillon and 20% Roussanne from three different vineyards is very subtle and clean on the nose with aromas of yellow apple, crisp pear, ripe grapefruit skins and the lightest hint of honey. The crisp palate is very grippy in texture, with pear and light lemon spray flavors. It will likely age well, due to strong acidity. —M.K. abv: 14.1% Price: $20

90

Rock Wall 2015 Mama’s Reserve (California). Aromas of toasted bread and vanilla echo in the rich, buttery flavors of this full-bodied and lavishly textured white Rhône-style blend. The oaky spices make it serious and complex while mild pear and almond flavors take a second seat. —J.G. abv: 14.2% Price: $35

89

Pine Ridge 2016 Chenin Blanc + Viognier (California). For full review see page 180. Editors’ Choice. abv: 12.5% Price: $16

88

Bonny Doon 2015 De Propio Gravitas (North Coast). Clean and crisp aromas of Asian pear, lemongrass, honeysuckle, passion fruit and green plum show on the nose of this blend of 64% Sémillon and 36% Sauvignon Blanc. The palate would go down very easy on a hot day, with just a touch of acid-carrying flavors of gardenia, guava, mango and kaffir lime leaf. —M.K. abv: 13.4% Price: $16

88

ONX 2016 L’Autre Femme (Paso Robles). There’s a lot of tropicality on the nose of this blend of 82% Roussanne, 10% Viognier and 8% Sauvignon Blanc, including mango, guava, coconut and banana chips. Those elements also show on the palate, but are honed in by a grippy texture and crisp acidity. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $42

87

Valley of the Moon 2015 Pinot Blanc-Viognier (Sonoma County). This combines 85% Pinot Blanc with 15% Viognier. Together, they offer a full, fleshy and fruit-forward expression of peach and pineapple that’s fresh in uplifting acidity. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $19

PINOT NOIR Aether Wine Company 2014 Matrix Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara County). This blend of Quinta del Mar and Drum Canyon vineyards makes for a very powerful and attention-demanding wine. Sultry aromas of roasted red cherry and caramelized berry meet with well-integrated clove and allspice on the potent nose. The palate explodes with ripe but acid-cut blackberry and raspberry syrup flavors, with thyme, star anise and more dark spices rounding out the power. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $65 MacPhail 2015 Mardikian Estate Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). For full review see page

164. abv: 13.9%

Price: $85

95

Piro 2015 Presqu’ile Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). For full review see page 164. abv: 13% Price: $44

95

Walt 2015 Rita’s Crown Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). For full review see page 164. abv: 15.1% Price: $75

95

Zaca Mesa 2015 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). This is a stunning Pinot Noir, especially from a Syrah-focused winery. Beautiful aromas of lavender, thyme, wild mint and dewy spring sage meet with crushed graphite and fresh raspberries on the nose. The palate coalesces those elements expertly, with red cherry and strawberry syrup dusted by herbs and finished by licorice, all presented on a soft yet engaging texture. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $48

94

Aether Wine Company 2014 Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Tart cranberry, orange peel, cinnamon stick, rose petals and mulling spices show on the nose of this bottling from the historic vineyard by longtime regional winemaker Jeff Fink. It’s invigorating on the palate, where ripe strawberry meets with rose hips and eucalyptus oil, proving mellow and subtle in structure yet engaging on all flavor fronts. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $50

94

El Lugar 2015 Rincon Vineyard Pinot Noir (Arroyo Grande Valley). There’s intensely sharp fruit character on the nose of this bottling from a single clone and block in this historic vineyard, with candied raspberry and pomegranate aromas that are leveled by Early Grey tea and pressed purple flowers. The palate is extremely lively and tightly structured, with dark boysenberry and candied raspberry flavors that rise into a minty finish. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $46


FR E E STANDARD SHIPPING * ON ORDERS OF $99+

DISCOVER MORE AT

Let’s Talk. 800.356.8466 * O FFE R E N DS 12 / 31/ 17. F O R D E TA IL S V ISIT WIN E E N T H USIA S T.CO M


BUYINGGUIDE

94

Gary Farrell 2015 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). For full review see page 165. abv: 13.9% Price: $45

94

Hug 2015 Rancho Ontiveros Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara County). Fresh raspberry sorbet aromas meet with an herbal edge of pine oil, eucalyptus leaf, green peppercorn and dark sandalwood on the very compelling nose of this bottling by Edgar Torres. It’s extremely lively on the palate, light in body but heavy in acid and tannic structure, with wild thyme, mint and sage decorating the mellow red-fruit flavors. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $46

94

Hug 2014 Cedar Lane Pinot Noir (Monterey County). Tight aromas of Montmorency cherry, rhubarb and hibiscus are spiced by cinnamon stick and vanilla-laced brioche on the complex and delicious nose of this bottling by Edgar Torres. It’s a very well-rounded Pinot Noir, with dark refreshing cranberry juice at the core and ample amounts of thyme, fennel, tarragon and black pepper throughout. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $46

94

La Crema 2015 Shell Ridge Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). For full review see page

166. abv: 14.5%

Price: $60

94

MacPhail 2015 Pratt Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). On the western edge of the appellation, in what locals call the Sebastopol Hills, this wine shows its provenance well, imparting wild, exotic aromas and flavors of crunchy red fruit and Asian spice. Silky, savory and inviting, it’s also pretty, with impressive depth, persistent acidity and chunks of turned earth and pine. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $55

94

Montemar 2012 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). For full review see page

166. abv: 14.1%

berry, spicy herb and eucalyptus nut tea, which is tangy and complex. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $46

94

Siduri 2015 Bellflower Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). Blue and red fruit wrap around ample, tangy acidity in this mediumbodied, velvety textured wine, so classically styled for the appellation. Pomegranate, rhubarb and floral rose are all highlighted along its gradual evolution in the glass. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $55

94

Tantara 2015 Zotovich Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). The very intriguing nose of this bottling by a winery that explores all types of Pinot Noir sites and styles shows sarsaparilla, sandalwood, incense and fresh boysenberry aromas. The palate is all about freshness, with blackberry and black raspberry flavors lifted by anise, peppercorns and wild thyme. Great depth and verve throughout. —M.K. abv: 14% Price: $70

93

Aether Wine Company 2014 Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara County). This is an excellent appellation blend, starting with a slightly sweet nose of concentrated grenadine, carnations and wild herbs. The sip dries up considerably, with lots of eucalyptus showing at first and then a strong candied raspberry flavor riding the herbs and a strong acidity. Strawberry arises into the finish. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $36

93

El Lugar 2015 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Fresh aromas of carnation, framboise, cherry cola and blooming rose petals show on the nose of this bottling by Coby ParkerGarcia. Bright flavors of hibiscus tea, pomegranate and raspberry ride a clean line of crushed thyme and peppercorn dust on the lively palate. —M.K. abv: 13.7% Price: $46

93

Fess Parker 2015 Ashley’s Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). For full review see page 167. abv: 14.3% Price: $50

Price: $50

94

Patz & Hall 2014 Chenoweth Ranch Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). This lovely, memorable wine from a fantastically farmed site is grippy in cherry and pomegranate with a backbone of integrated oak. Crunchy in texture, it shines in floral aromatics and a balanced body weight that’s fruity and complex. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $60

94

Ryan Cochrane 2015 Solomon Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Very light in the glass, this fascinating exploration of the underripe side of Pinot Noir shows green olive and crushed cherry tomato aromas on the nose, with prevalent bay leaf, green peppercorn and pine resin. Those elements converge on the sip to make a cran-

210 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

93

Fess Parker 2015 Clone 115 Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). For full review see page 168. abv: 13.8% Price: $58

93

Fess Parker 2015 Pommard Clone Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). For full review see page 168. abv: 14.5% Price: $58

93

Hug 2013 Rancho Ontiveros Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara County). This is a head-turning Pinot Noir due to its darkness and depth. An intense crushed slate and loamy soil minerality dominates the nose, like serving pepper-dusted blackberry pie in a dark cave. A low-simmering acidity powers the almost Syrah-like sip, where boysenberry and elderberry meet with a roasted meat quality. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 13.8% Price: $46

93

Keller 2014 La Cruz Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). This is a wildly exotic wine, vibrantly abuzz in cranberry, pomegranate and rhubarb, a side note of barnyard-like earth and pretty rose petal. Tight-grained acidity remains firm in the glass and supportive of a grittiness of texture, notes of clove and black tea spiked throughout. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $45

93

Lost and Found Winery 2014 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). A project of Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth with the assistance of winemaker Megan Glaab of Ryme Cellars, this is a light beguiling take on the famous appellation’s most famous variety—one wrapped in crisp crunchy red fruit and floral aromatics of rose. Dried cherry highlights tight focused acidity and soft delicate layers of silky texture for a satisfying combination of elegance and quiet oak. —V.B. abv: 13.4% Price: $49

93

Montemar 2013 Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). This is a tip-top appellation blend from a winery based in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, showing fresh-pressed raspberries, fennel pollen, dried rose petals and hibiscus on the nose. It’s tightly wound on the spicy palate, with light cranberry, thyme, marjoram and Earl Grey tea flavors. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 14.1% Price: $38

93

Patz & Hall 2015 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). Juicy and earthy, this lovely appellation wine is voluptuous with a spicy thread. Blueberry and huckleberry fruit meld seamlessly into savory bites of tree bark and forest as the whole offers length and breadth. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $48

93

Pellegrini 2014 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). This is a heck of a value for a wine that would shine no matter its price. Juicy in exuberant red fruit along the lines of cherry, plum and pomegranate, it shares deeper undertones of concentration and richness on the midpalate, with subtle accents of rose, cardamom and dried herb. Editors’ Choice. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $25

93

Piro 2015 Points West Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). For full review see page 169. Editors’ Choice. abv: 13.1% Price: $32

93

Point & Line 2015 Reserve Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). For full review see page 169. abv: 13.4% Price: $55

93

Ryan Cochrane 2015 Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Candied red fruits of raspberry and pomegranate meet with rhubarb pie, sweet thyme and ripe tomato on the nose of this bottling by a San Francisco accountantturned-vintner. It’s supple and soft on the palate,


C R E AT E

Memories

Discover 100’s of Personalized Gifts at WineEnthusiast.com and Make this Season Unforgettable

PERSONALIZED WINE DECANTER GIFT SET

FREE STANDARD SHIPPING* ON ORDERS OF $99+ *

O FFE R E N DS 12 / 31/ 17. F O R D E TA IL S V ISIT WIN E E N T H USIA S T.CO M


BUYINGGUIDE with more tomato flavors as well as fennel pollen and tarragon. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $46

arises in the midpalate and persists deep into the finish. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $60

93

92

Sanctuary 2014 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). For full review see page 169. abv: 14.3% Price: $40

93

Solomon Hills 2014 Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Rhubarb, cranberry and roasted plum aromas meet with gamy hints of grilled boar and toasted oak on the nose of this bottling. Light touches of fennel pollen, bay leaf and dried sage start the sip, followed by more roasted meat and rustic red fruits. It packs great energy and tremendous depth of flavors in a lightweight frame. —M.K. abv: 13.2% Price: $60

93

Tantara 2015 Dierberg Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Dark purple flowers and tart boysenberry paste show on the nose of this intensely concentrated wine, alongside pencil shavings, bay lead and a lot of iron minerality. More bay leaf and pine needle show on the herbally full and texturally grippy palate, giving minty spice to the dark fruit flavors. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $60

93

Tantara 2015 La Encantada Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Elegant and beautiful aromas of Montmorency cherry, tart orange peel and balsamic fig reduction sauce prove precise and show some mature vine age. Roasted fig flavors meet with salt and pepper seasonings on the palate, which is well structure and full of bright acidity. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $65

93

Westerly 2013 Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Dark and deep aromas of black cherry, clove, allspice, black pepper and char make for a hearty impression on this appellation blend. The palate is also rich and powerful, its thick mouthfeel showing black cherry, cocoa, vanilla and a touch of asphalt. A rocky minerality and minty finish complete the experience. —M.K. abv: NA Price: $40

93

Wild Horse 2013 Cheval Sauvage Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). For full review see page 170. abv: NA Price: $65

92

Balletto 2015 Sexton Hill Vineyard Estate Grown Estate Bottled Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). For full review see page 170. abv: 13.5% Price: $42

92

Bien Nacido 2014 Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Earthy aromas of turned soil meet with dark red currant and a layer of smoke on the nose of this estate bottling by the historic vineyard. Strawberry, smoked pork and a touch of lavender show on the sip, which rides a strong acidity that

212 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Cattleya 2015 Donum Vineyard Pinot Noir (Carneros). Aromas of cherries baked in a flaky vanilla crust meet with cola, fresh boysenberry and damp herbs on the nose of this single-vineyard expression. Bright raspberry shows on the lighterframed and very energetic palate, with flavors of fennel frond, dried marjoram and a gravel-laced minerality. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $70

92

Fess Parker 2015 Clone 2A Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Cherry liqueur, candied rose petals, rhubarb, sweet truffle and wet earth converge for a very sultry and dynamic nose on this bottling, showing that quite a bit of complexity can come from one clone. Well-integrated flavors of dark red fruit, vanilla and nutmeg show on the sip, which is woven together by persistent acidity. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $58

92

Metzker Family Estates 2015 Laurent Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir (Fort RossSeaview). For full review see page 172. abv: 13% Price: $55

92

Montemar 2013 Buona Terra Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Very light in the glass, this single vineyard expression shows, fresh pomegranate and rose petals on the expressive nose. It’s tight and bright in the glass, with light raspberry, cranberry, fennel and chaparral spice. —M.K. abv: 14.3% Price: $44

92

Pellegrini 2014 Olivet Lane Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). With a sniff of noble reduction, this is a well-made robust wine, indicative of its historic estate and small-production values. A juicy core of broad plum, dark cherry and pomegranate wrap seamlessly around a fresh streak of minerality and rich texture. —V.B. abv: 14.3% Price: $65

92

Point & Line 2015 Gold Coast Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). For full review see page 172. abv: 13.5% Price: $42

92

Point & Line 2015 John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). For full review see page 172. abv: 13.4% Price: $42

92

Siduri 2015 Van Der Kamp Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Mountain). Earthy and brawny in pungent compost aromas, this wine has a citrusladen edge of crisp mineral and bitterroot. Fullbodied and richly layered, its fruit components are dipped in baked rhubarb and black tea. —V.B. abv: 14.6% Price: $50

92

Tantara 2015 Lindsay’s Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Beet and plum juice aromas meet with hearty clove and juniper spice on the nose of this bottling from a vineyard located 16 miles from the Pacific Ocean. It’s a dark and deep expression on the sip, with blackberry, wet earth and pine-forest flavors, proving quite muscular and manly, with a menthol lift on the finish. —M.K. abv: 14.4% Price: $65

92

Weatherborne 2015 Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). This easy-to-drink appellation blend, which is 88% from John Sebastiano Vineyard and 12% from La Encantada, shows lively raspberry and pomegranate on the nose along with hibiscus flowers, rose petal, sweet sage and light pine forest aromas. It’s lightweight on the palate, yet there is viscosity to the sip, where pomegranate-cranberry flavors meet with dried bergamot and Earl Grey tea. Simultaneously juicy and tart. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $40

92

Westerly 2014 Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). A heartier and meatier take on Pinot Noir, this bottling shows black plums, hoisin, hickory smoke and pepper on the nose. The palate is also rich with plum sauce and strong fennel flavors, showing oak smoke as well. Quite tasty overall for those seeking some heft. —M.K. abv: 14.9% Price: $40

91

Cuvaison 2015 Estate Grown Pinot Noir (Carneros). Muted on the nose, this lightbodied effort is velvety in texture, with a bite of tannin met by equal parts acidity and freshness. Cranberry and black tea highlight the appealing flavor profile. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $42

91

Eleven Eleven 2014 Bacigalupi Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). For full review see page 174. abv: 14.9% Price: $65

91

En Garde 2014 Olivet Court Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). This wine is impressively full-bodied, layered and concentrated in rich fruit— a mix of dark cherry, raspberry and toasty oak that finds life in buoyant, freshly supportive acidity and a light reckoning of spice. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $55

91

En Garde 2014 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). Juicy, thick and satisfying, this appellation wine is rich in red licorice and dark cherry with an expansiveness on the palate that impresses and lingers around a deft cradling of integrated oak. —V.B. abv: 14.3% Price: $45

91

En Garde 2014 Olivet Court Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). This wine is impressively full-bodied, layered and concentrated in rich fruit— a mix of dark cherry, raspberry and toasty oak that


PODCAST

Every bottle tells a unique story. Listen as Wine Enthusiast editors take you on a tantalizing trip into the world of wine, beer and spirits. Drink up the latest trends, news and information, plus meet the passionate people behind your favorite pours.

UPCOMING EPISODES • Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Value Wines of the Year • Holiday DIY Tips • Mocktails & Low-ABV Cocktails and Wines SP ONSORED BY

Visit blueapron.com/corkscrew

Listen on winemag.com/podcast or on


BUYINGGUIDE finds life in buoyant, freshly supportive acidity and a light reckoning of spice. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $55

91

Keller 2014 El Coro Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). This is an intensely earthy wine, showing a rich bouquet of rose garden, geranium and wild pine. Soft on the palate and supple in tannin, it retains a savory edge throughout, spicy in Asian five spice, nutmeg and orange peel. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $52

91

Keller 2014 Precioso Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). This is a tiny production wine, nutty on the nose in almond paste and an intensity of forest floor and earth. Still gritty in its youth, it shows a soft and delicate nature at its core, accented in rose petal and a persistent streak of minerality complemented by a richness of deep dark red cherry. —V.B. abv: 14% Price: $75

91

Mansfield-Dunne 2015 Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands). Thick and cloudy in the glass, this bottling shows lots of rich cherry cough syrup aromas as well as muddy loam and exotic baking spices. There’s a spicy grip to the palate, with loads of allspice, clove and dried tarragon, set against background of pomegranate and wild plums. The acidity thrives through it all. —M.K. abv: 14% Price: $36

91

Mansfield-Dunne 2015 Peterson Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands). This is a very intriguing wine, a departure from many from the region, with aromas of crushed slate, wet gravel, dewy black sage, underripe plum and gin-like juniper botanicals. The palate is full of woody shrubby flavors, with a menthol-like sensation that cuts through the dark but restrained fruits. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $48

91

Metz Road 2015 Riverview Vineyard Estate Grown Pinot Noir (Monterey). For full review see page 175. abv: 14% Price: $35

91

Montemar 2012 Bentrock Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Fresh and broad aromas of strawberry syrup meet with eucalyptus oil and wild mint on the clean if simple nose of this bottling. It grows more tart on the sip, with roasted red plum, cranberry and pomegranate, but the fascinating parts are the curious hints of cannabis and hops, which give herbal depth to the fruit. —M.K. abv: 14.1% Price: $48

91

Pellegrini 2014 Toboni Oakwild Ranch Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). This is a funky expansive wine, varietally satisfying in its earthy embrace of forest and aspects of black tea. The fruit is tart and tangy, a mix of pomegranate and rhubarb laced in fresh vibrant citrus. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $50

214 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

91

Rock Wall 2015 Estate Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). From the producer’s family estate site planted in 1982 on Eastside Road, this is a nuanced elegant expression of the variety, earthy and pungent in baked bread. Baked plum, strawberry and dried herb are accented by forest floor and a rich hit of maple. —V.B. abv: 13.73% Price: $50

91

Tamber Bey 2015 Sun Chase Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). Overlooking and very much influenced by the Petaluma Gap, this vineyard site is at 900 to 1,200-feet in elevation, above the fog. This wine captures its intensity of gravelly texture, grip and serious red cherry, as well as a streak of black-licorice wildness. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $75

91

Two Sisters 2015 Lindsay’s Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). For full review see page 176. abv: 14.3% Price: $80

90

Ampelos 2014 Ampelos Vineyard Rho Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Thick tannins wrap around this spicy, earthy red that’s brooding in black cherry, cola and black tea. Slim acidity and a dash of coconut add to its overall appeal. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $45

90

En Garde 2014 Gold Ridge Pinot Noir (Green Valley). This is a bright, fully realized wine from the distinctive appellation: soft with an integrated approach to its use of oak. Wild strawberry, cranberry and a threading of dried herb combine effortlessly into a pleasurable whole. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $55

90

Grey Stack 2015 Four Brothers Vineyard Pinot Noir (Bennett Valley). A tiny production wine from a vineyard long farmed by the winemaker’s parents, this is herbal, tannic and oaky at first, with waves of rose petal nipping on the nose. Integrated flavors of cherry and strawberry provide a bright overlay in balance with the moderate acidity and weight. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $50

90

Longboard 2015 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). Dark cherry, vanilla and a quiet streak of smoke permeate the personality of this well-made light-bodied wine that’s soft and supple on the palate. Raspberry and cherry flavors further define its bright fruit-forwardness and sense of freshness, with a touch of grip on the finish. —V.B. abv: 13.9% Price: $39

90

Lucas & Lewellen 2015 Estate Vineyards Goodchild High 9 Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). For full review see page 178. abv: 14.5% Price: $35

90

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard 2013 Bailey’s Branciforte Ridge Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains). Black cherry, kola nut, licorice, clove

and mulling spices show on the nose of this bottling from the high-elevation vineyard. The flavors are pure and easy, with tart cherry, thyme and peppery spice, all wrapped in an earthy overcoat. —M.K. abv: 12.5% Price: $32

90

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard 2013 Branciforte Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains). From a vineyard planted in 1988, this bottling offers aromas of lavender and sweet incense, with a woody spice uplifting the exotic plum and mulberry fruits. Ripe wild berries meet with elderflower and lilac on the very perfumed palate. —M.K. abv: 14.1% Price: $42

90

Tamber Bey 2015 Walala Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). This is a powerhouse of a wine, from a tremendous coastal site, situated within a blanket of forest at 1,200-feet elevation. Reductive notes of diesel oak give way to juicy, stemmy and grippy characteristics, marked most pronounced by flavors of black cherry, raspberry and black tea. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $75

90

Tantara 2015 Tondre Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands). This bottling explores the more concentrated side of Pinot Noir, with hearty aromas of balsamic fig sauce, cooked berries, clove and rum cake. Roasted blackberry clusters and charred figs show on the sip alongside potent baking spices, making for a rich and heavy expression, although leveling acidity pounds into the finish. —M.K. abv: 14.6% Price: $60

90

Westwood 2015 Annadel Gap Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir (Sonoma County). Reduced on the nose, youthfully, the reduction blows away to reveal a fruity landscape of blueberry and blackberry that’s ripe yet light. Spritzy acidity freshens a hearty body and supportive oak. —V.B. abv: 13.9% Price: $44

89

Drops of Jupiter 2016 Pinot Noir (San Benito County). A collaboration between winemaker James Foster and rockstar Pat Monahan of Train, this bottling shows black raspberry, pencil shavings and a feral animal-hide touch to the nose. The palate packs in a lot of licorice spice atop the heavy purple-fruit background. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $20

89

Rancho Sisquoc 2015 Flood Family Vineyards Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara County). For full review see page 180. abv: 13.6% Price: $30

89

Sextant 2015 Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands). Familiar aromas of plum, mulberry, clove and slate show on the nose of this appellation blend by the Paso Robles-based winery. There is decent tension on the sip, where cooked cranberry and strawberry meet with a backbone of allspice and nutmeg as well as bittersweet chocolate. —M.K. abv: 14.7% Price: $25


88

Belden Barns 2015 Serendipity Block Pinot Noir (Sonoma Mountain). Forest and pine give this wine an edgy, earthy and ethereal core that’s dotted in notions of baked strawberry. Sizable oak and tannin structure add weight and power from a concentrated year. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $48

88

Bishop’s Peak 2015 Pinot Noir (San Luis Obispo County). Ample helpings of allspice, clove and orange peel add dimensions to the hearty cherry and hibiscus on the nose of this entry-level wine made by the Talley family. Rich red cherry, vanilla, cinnamon and clove show on the sip. While it’s not very complex, it is quite tasty for a midweek sipper. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $22

on the nose of this bottling from a producer based in Marietta, Georgia. Fat flavors of cocoa and black cherry mousse make for a compelling sip. —M.K. abv: 14.6% Price: $57

88

Tantara 2015 Talley Rincon Pinot Noir (Arroyo Grande Valley). Quite dark in the glass, this bottling from a vineyard often known for subtlety packs in a ton of power and darkness, starting with hefty blackberry, tree bark and sarsaparilla on the nose. Tart black-plum-skin flavors kick off the big palate, which grabs attention but is a little

clumsy at this stage of life. Patience may bring cohesion. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $65

87

Director’s Cut 2015 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). This soft simple wine offers rounded red fruit and a subtle nose of earth. Thin and somewhat nondescript, it’s pungent in oak. —V.B. abv: 13.9% Price: $27

87

Hahn 2016 Pinot Noir (Monterey County). For a wine that can often be found for less than its $15 asking price, this is a very solid sipper. Ripe raspberry, red cherry and crushed slate show on

88

Clos LaChance 2014 Murphy’s Choice Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains). Lavish blackcherry candy and concentrated rose-petal aromas combine with candied-licorice notes on the lush nose of this bottling. There’s a Concord grape ripeness to the slightly sweet sip, with a touch of woody spice, framed by chalky tannins. —M.K. abv: 13.8% Price: $50

88

Fess Parker 2015 Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Sour cherry, cranberry, iron, dust and a touch of game appear on the nose of this alwaysreliable appellation blend from the late actor’s family winery, which is still run by his descendants. The flavors are mellow in presentation, with cranberry, fennel and a touch of Early Grey tea. —M.K. abv: 14% Price: $30

88

LJ Crafted Wines 2013 Patient Terrier Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). Light in color, this is a smoky, thick and oaky red wine that evolves to reveal a delicate texture as it nears its finish. The fruit is densely packed and jammy, as well as nicely layered. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $39

88

Montemar 2012 Zotovich Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills). Slightly weak and primary aromas of freshly pressed black raspberry, grape seed and rosebuds show on the nose of this bottling. It’s extremely light on the sip, though a compelling black-plum and hoisin-sauce flavor takes hold, with hints of lavender and bountiful acid, especially for its age. —M.K. abv: 14.2% Price: $46

88

Schug 2015 Pinot Noir (Carneros). The producer sources from multiple sites across the appellation, including its own estate, in this valuedriven red. Minty bay leaf provides an undeniable sense of earthiness, as medium weight and acidity pierce through. It’s silky in spice. —V.B. abv: 13.8% Price: $30

88

Séamus Wines 2014 Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands). Dried black cherry, shaved chocolate and dried herb aromas show

WINEMAG.COM | 215


BUYINGGUIDE the nose, while the light palate offers easy flavors of fruit punch and an herbal depth. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $14

87

Russian Ridge 2013 Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains). Freshly squeezed red currants, rose petals, sweet sagebrush and potpourri-like perfume arise on the nose of this bottling. Those florals extend to the palate, where it meshes with rhubarb and pressed-strawberry flavors. —M.K. abv: 14.4% Price: $30

CABERNET SAUVIGNON

96

Portfolio 2013 Limited Edition (Napa Valley). Robert Mondavi winemaker Genevieve Janssens makes this wine, a small-production solo project that’s worth seeking. The 83% Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Hendry Ranch and the 17% Cabernet Franc from Detert East Vineyard, a stone’s throw from To Kalon. Impressively concentrated and lengthy, within a wealth of power, it is nuanced in black cherry, leather saddle and crushed rock, with the scent of violet never far behind. —V.B. abv: 15% Price: $155

95

Janzen 2014 Cloudy’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). This remarkable wine offers soft luxury between its balance of fresh red cherry and cassis and the velvety grip of tannic concentration. Spiky persistent acidity guides a freshness of forest floor, sage and tobacco, the power entirely graceful in the glass. —V.B. abv: 15.1% Price: $125

94

Frisson Wines 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). A lovely appellation wine, this is dusty and spicy, as well as leathery in texture. Integrated oak and tannin make for a sharp, structured and on-point experience, with dense highlights of cassis, dark chocolate, clove and pencil shavings. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $60

94

Sextant 2015 Kamal Cabernet Sauvignon (El Pomar District). For full review see page 166. abv: 15.2% Price: $48

94

Star Lane Vineyard 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara). This vintage is the first that was under complete control of winemaker Tyler Thomas, and his studious touch shows magically. There’s a powerful density of ripe but not sweet black fruit on the nose of this bottling, along with hints of violets, turned earth and leather. The structure is firm, dense and chalky but with a vivid acidity, offering ethereal, supple flavors of black currant and cocoa on the finish. Drink 2018–2034. Cellar Selection. —M.K. abv: 14.4% Price: $50

94

Stewart 2014 Nomad Beckstoffer Las Piedras Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Made entirely from the famous vineyard named for

216 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

93

its stony soils, this resplendent wine is powerfully crafted and bold. Coconut shavings and chocolate provide a luxurious flavor profile that meshes perfectly with the wine’s lush grip of tannin and velvety mouthfeel. Dark cherry and cassis round out the flavors, accented in black pepper and clove. Editors’ Choice. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $175

Raymond 2014 District Collection Cabernet Sauvignon (Stags Leap District). Richly layered red fruit accents an explosion of firm lengthy tannin, alongside dashes of clove and cinnamon, in this hearty full-bodied red. Robust and concentrated, it shows oaky bursts of vanilla and smoke on the finish. —V.B. abv: 15% Price: $105

94

93

The Vineyard House 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville). This is a structured, substantial wine, grippy on the palate, with firmgrained tannin and smoky oak. Mouth-filling with a juicy sophisticated core of cherry, blackberry and black currant, there’s a defiant meatiness to the fruit, spiked in clove, black pepper and tobacco. Cellar through 2033. Cellar Selection. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $225

St. Francis 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley). Black in color, this heavy concentrated wine is thick in black pepper and clove, with underlying streaks of cedar. Well structured, it unfurls depths of black cherry, currant and vanilla as it develops in the glass, finishing a full bodied as it started. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $52

92

Addendum 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). For full review see page 167. abv: 14.9% Price: $90

93

Barra of Mendocino 2015 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino). For full review see page 170. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

93

Addendum 2014 Skellenger Lane Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford). For full review see page 167. abv: 14.9% Price: $95

92

93

92

Garavin 2013 Garrett Brown Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Atlas Peak). For full review see page 168. abv: 14.4% Price: $105

93

Janzen 2014 Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Soft supple tannins open a gateway of big bold respectable power and flavor in this vineyard designate from the famous Napa Valley grower. Black pepper, mountain-like sage, milk chocolate, cedar and pencil shavings all rise to the fore of this impressive, complex, interwoven wine that should do well in the cellar and be enjoyable now. —V.B. abv: 15.2% Price: $125

93

Omen 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sierra Foothills). This is an eye-opening wine that shows how good Cabernet from the Sierra Foothills can be. Beautiful deep black cherry and cassis aromas lead to broad generous flavors that instantly expand across the palate and accompany a moderately tannic, elegant texture. Hints of black fig, cedar and mint surround the concentrated fruit core, adding to the wine’s complexity. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 14.56% Price: $20

93

Paratus 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Mount Veeder). This is an earthy herbal wine that’s also soft and supple on the palate. Dill, cedar and sage play against a tart core of cranberry and cassis, finding their way to a lingering layer of spicy clove. The power and weight of the fruit wears well against the ultimate grace of the wine. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $125

Brutocao 2014 Contento Vineyard Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino). For full review see page 170. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

Frisson Wines 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford). This is a big, broad-shouldered and impressive wine, made from the heart of the appellation in all its glory of rarefied dust. Baked bread, vanilla, cherry and smoke combine effortlessly on a structured, spicy body of graceful weight and length, dipped in leather and char. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $95

92

Hess 2014 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (Mount Veeder). For full review see page 171. abv: 14.6% Price: $75

92

Hess 2014 The Lion Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (Mount Veeder). For full review see page 172. abv: 14.8% Price: $185

92

Jordan 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley). This food-friendly wine is most remarkable for its structure and gracefulness on the palate. Herbal on the entry, it offers grip and elegance within sturdy elongated tannins, a note of brushy cedar and sage and integrated French oak. —V.B. abv: 13.8% Price: $55

92

Sabotage 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). This wine delivers handsomely for the price, made in a style that embraces balanced herbaceousness and moderate ripeness. Sage, cedar and graphite accent a sizable underlying grip of tannin that should mellow with age and a vibrant layer of black fruit adding context. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $50


92

Sequum 2014 Four Soil Melange Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). For full review see page 173. abv: 14.4% Price: $60

91

Addendum 2014 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Atlas Peak). From the mighty mountainous site, this 100% varietal wine is densely compact and thick, with a lift of acidity that keeps it fresh despite its power. Black currant, black cherry, graphite and sage combine effortlessly to provide fruit and complexity. —V.B. abv: 14.9% Price: $95

91

Arrowood 2013 Smothers-Remick Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Valley). At 600-feet in elevation, this is the site that’s behind a wine of structure and considerable power. A thick rich layering of currant and blackberry is soft with a tannic backbone. Clove and tobacco contribute secondary aspects of complexity. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $85

91

Garavin 2013 Linked Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Knights Valley). For full review see page 174. abv: 14.4% Price: $76

91

Hess 2014 Small Block Series Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Textured and lengthy, this full-bodied reserve-level wine is soft and round on the palate, expressive in black olive, black cherry, mocha and vanilla. It offers impressive richness and leathery grit on the palate. —V.B. abv: 14.6% Price: $125

91

91

Husch 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino). Enticing oak spices in the aromas and deftly blended fruit, spice and mineral flavors make this wine especially appealing. It’s medium bodied, not a monster, and combines ripe black-cherry flavors, moderate tannins, muted acidity and a velvety mouthfeel. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 13.9% Price: $23

91

Lake and Vine Cellars 2013 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Hills Lake County). This is an excellent, concentrated, and velvety textured wine that’s full bodied and well balanced. It pairs dense blackberry and black-cherry flavors with a healthy coating of fine-grained tannins that add texture and chewiness. —J.G. abv: 14.5% Price: $40

91

91

Kendall-Jackson 2013 Trace Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon (Knights Valley). Thick, coating tannins surround a concentration of toasted oak and wild-berry fruit—the mountainous provenance of this wine further defined by its tenacious holdings of sage, cedar and graphite. With memorable intensity, it unwinds to show additional complexity and flavors of black licorice as it evolves in the glass. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $70

Kokomo 2014 Ruth’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley). Soft, round and supple on the palate, this is a robust luxurious wine, rich in red and black currant and berry. Pleasing, with a touch of clove, it’s a powerful, concentrated statement on the variety. —V.B. abv: 15.5% Price: $45

Method 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). For full review see page 175. abv: 14.5% Price: $40

91

Wente 2014 Charles Wetmore Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Livermore Valley). For full review see page 176. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

91

Westerly 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara). Black plum and

WINEMAG.COM | 217


BUYINGGUIDE elderberry conspire with smoky cola, shaved chocolate and rustic licorice aromas on the nose of this bottling. The sip starts softly before stiffer tannic structure takes hold, bringing forth flavors of dried plum, reduced soy sauce and a slightly bitter charcoal touch, all lifted by buoyant acidity: very dark without being overly ripe. —M.K. abv: 14.6% Price: $45

90

Arrowood 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Valley). Herbal in cedar, this medium-bodied wine is simply layered, with a thickness of tannin and oak, its mouthfeel substantial yet smooth. Black fruit speaks loudest—a mix of black cherry, blueberry and blackberry jam. —V.B. abv: 14.3% Price: $40

90

Arrowood 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Knights Valley). Made from two vineyards in the appellation, this shows black cherry, cedar and tobacco, with a graphite element not far behind. Sticky tannins provide grip and weight, as full-bodied richly ripe blue fruit and plum form a continuum between hits of clove. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $35

90

Briceland 2014 Ishi Pishi Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon (Humboldt County). This is a classic style of California Cabernet that puts fascinating mint, black-cherry and black-olive flavors on a firm frame of fine-grained tannins and a medium body. It has excellent concentration and good balance. Best through 2024. —J.G. abv: 13.1% Price: $35

90

Conclusion 2014 Stagecoach Vineyard Limited Production Cabernet Sauvignon (Atlas Peak). For full review see page 177. abv: 14.6% Price: $64

that ride along a thickness of tannin and black-fruit concentration. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $48

berry and tar are robustly wound around a big-boned structure, with hints of vanilla and smoke. —V.B. abv: 15% Price: $115

90

90

Ferrari-Carano 2014 PreVail Back Forty Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley). This wine is made from grapes grown on the producer’s RockRise Mountain vineyard, 1,100-feet up. Graham cracker provides a decadent introduction to the nose and palate, as extracted, extended red fruit plays along. Full bodied and concentrated, with rounded corners, it ends in cola and vanilla. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $90

90

Flora Springs 2014 Wild Boar Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Intensely robust and grippy in smoky oak, this is a well-built brawny red wine. Its flavors are textured and bold in cured meat, char and blackberry jam. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $125

90

Folie à Deux 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley). Lush and thickly concentrated, this crowd-friendly wine offers a brightness of cassis that complements its darker, richer tones of chocolate mocha and clove. Medium in build, it uses its oak well, integrating it into the whole. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $24

90

Francis Coppola 2015 Diamond Collection Claret Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Nicely concentrated, smoothly polished and with good structure, this wine balances power and grip with a graceful mouthfeel and ripe but not overripe black-cherry flavors. Packaged with a wrap of gold netting, this wine has moderate tannins and medium to full body, so it will be enjoyable on all kinds of occasions. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $21

90

90

90

90

Cooper-Garrod 2011 George’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Santa Cruz Mountains). This bottling, from a vineyard planted in 1972, is still fresh despite being six-years-old, and represents a much lighter style of Cabernet Sauvignon that goes great with a chill. Aromas of strawberry, pepper, bay leaf, leather and black pepper lead into a tart and tangy palate, which shows a light hint of barnyard funk. Editors’ Choice. —M.K. abv: 13% Price: $41

Daniel Cohn 2015 Bellacosa Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Bold smoky aromas join equally bold and concentrated fruit flavors in this full-bodied well-oaked wine. Beyond the wood smoke and grilled meat components are ample blackberry, dark chocolate and black-cherry flavors. —J.G. abv: 14.2% Price: $25

90

Darioush 2013 Caravan Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). The winery’s more accessible offering, this hearty full-bodied red is impressive in its smoky char and herbal kick—elements

218 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Frisson Wines 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Diamond Mountain District). High-pitched acidity keeps fresh a bold full-bodied exploration of dark cherry, cassis and mountain blackberry. Still evolving, the wine is nuanced and quiet at first, taking time to coax out. Leather, sage and a hit of citrus add complexity and intrigue. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $70

Hess 2015 Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). For full review see page 178. abv: 14.8% Price: $32

90

Hess Select 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (North Coast). For full review see page 178. Editors’ Choice. abv: 13.5% Price: $19

90

Lancaster 2014 Nicole’s Estate Bottled Red (Alexander Valley). Made predominantly from the winery’s best barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon, this blend also contains Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Game, cinnamon, burly, brambly black-

Layer Cake 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Smoky, meaty aromas meet concentrated, fully developed blackberry and cassis flavors in this full-bodied nicely oaky wine. It has a lot of spice and swagger for the price, along with polished tannins, a hint of sweetness and a good mouth-filling texture. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 13.75% Price: $16

90

Makana 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Diamond Mountain District). From a small family vineyard along the appellation’s highest slopes, this is a powerfully concentrated, mountaindriven wine, leathery, grippy and dusty in tannin. Black licorice, raspberry and blackberry jam flavors provide weight and expansion on the palate, with a touch of heat on the finish. —V.B. abv: 15.5% Price: $85

90

Newton 2014 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Spring Mountain District). Dried herb, graphite and cedar form a cast of characters around a big powerful tannin concentration in this appellation wine. A bitter streak of tobacco plays games with sharper, crunchier aspects of cassis and clove. —V.B. abv: 14% Price: $190

90

Newton 2014 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Mount Veeder). A light touch is put on this elegant wine, one that successfully captures the wild ethereal nature of the appellation. Crushed rock is evoked on the palate, around fully developed flavors of fig, cigar, clove and dried herb. Tannic, the body softens on the midpalate. —V.B. abv: 14% Price: $190

90

Russian Ridge 2013 Martin Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Santa Cruz Mountains). Black cherry and black currant open the nose on this bottling, but there are more savory components of soy and black pepper lurking in the background. The palate is lively with black raspberry before the chalky, still quite stiff tannins arise, carrying flashes of cigar box, pencil shavings and bittersweet chocolate. —M.K. abv: 14.4% Price: $34

90

Stags’ Leap Winery 2013 Audentia Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (Stags Leap District). This wine includes 20% Petite Sirah from the winery’s property. Juicy, thick and tannic, as would be expected given the vintage and varieties, it offers pretty aromatics of violet and plenty of grit and grip on the palate. Dusty blackberry and black currant ride along a carpet of leather and meat. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $200

90

Truchard 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Carneros). Juicy blackberry and cassis accent a balanced elegant wine that’s bright in acidity and


ample in structure. Nuanced in ripeness, it’s built for the table and will shine alongside a versatile array of foods. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $40

89

Bridlewood 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles). Blackberry, strong leather, black pepper and hints of purple flowers make this fruity wine quite approachable on the nose. There’s a mix of fresh blackberries and blackberry jam on the palate with hints of thyme, juniper spice and black pepper adding intrigue to the otherwise fruit-forward sip. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $15

89

Concrete 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Lodi). This big bold wine takes flavor to the limits. Spicy, peppery, beefy aromas and bold smoke, blueberry and clove flavors rely a lot on oak, but have a good concentrated fruit foundation underneath. It is full bodied, mouth-filling and nicely tannic. —J.G. abv: 15% Price: $20

89

Girasole 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino County). For full review see page 182. Best Buy. abv: 14% Price: $14

89

Hahn 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Strong oaky and smoky tobacco-like aromas and flavors make this wine dramatic, while a firm, appropriately tannic texture supports the spicy oak as well as deeper ripe black-cherry and blackberry notes. It has a very good combination of strong flavors and full body. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 14.5% Price: $14

89

Hess 2015 Shirtail Ranches Cabernet Sauvignon (North Coast). Fully ripe fruit flavors are accented by light toast and spice notes in this full-bodied and extremely smooth-textured wine. Dense ripe blackberry and dark chocolate flavors seem to coat the palate, and moderate tannins provide good grip. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $19

89

William Hill Estate 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (North Coast). It’s easy to taste the fresh grape flavors in this medium-bodied, structured and appetizing wine. Good acidity and moderate tannins lift up black grape, blackberry and strawberry flavors to create very good balance. —J.G. abv: 13.9% Price: $18

88

Angelo Cellars 2014 Yates Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Mount Veeder). Cara-

mel oak meets thick tar and sticky tannin in this robust wine from the mountain appellation. Dark brooding fruit is seasoned in minty earth and forest floor. —V.B. abv: 13.8% Price: $80

88

Beringer 2015 Founders’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Sturdy and flavorful, this is a well-made, dry and moderately tannic wine that smells beefy, salt-and-peppery, and tastes juicy like raspberries and cherries with a little bit of meatiness coming through for complexity. The texture has good grip and acidity so the wine will pair well with big proteins. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.8% Price: $10

88

Ferrari-Carano 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley). With the addition of 15% Syrah, this is a meaty wine, compact in red fruit, leather and clove. Integrated oak girds a soft tannic structure that’s approachable and easy to please. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $34

88

Fortnight 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Pure and focused in flavor, this is a great example of a natural-tasting wine in which the cherry, strawberry and blackberry flavors inher-

WINEMAG.COM | 219


BUYINGGUIDE ent in the grapes shine through and there’s little oak to complicate things. It is medium bodied, well balanced, with light tannins and mild acidity. —J.G. abv: 13.9% Price: $20

88

Gan Eden 1990 Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley). This older wine is 64% from Alexander Valley and 36% from Mendocino County. It offers meaty flavors of soy and leather, the fruit elements starting to decline. It’s still interesting, though, and holding on to a core of acidity. Do not decant. —V.B. abv: 13% Price: $40

88

Ghost Pines 2014 Winemaker’s Blend Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa County-Sonoma County-Lake County). This affordable, larger-production wine is soft, structured and attentive to a savory edge of blue fruit, sweet vanilla and toasted oak. It’s a crowd-pleasing blend from several appellations that’s ultimately balanced and round. —V.B. abv: 14.2% Price: $23

88

Glenwood Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Weedy on the nose in a combination of dried herb and celery, this wine settles down nicely to offer a juiciness of red currant, cherry and cassis, with a stroke of caramel and toasty oak on the light finish. —V.B. abv: 13.5% Price: $24

88

Jamieson Ranch 2015 Double Lariat Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Smoky char underlies an expansive and juicy core of big flavor in this wine. This is a broadly defined journey into blackberry, black currant, chocolate, with a slight hint of barrel reduction. —V.B. abv: 14.7% Price: $50

88

Levendi 2014 Symphonia Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). From the heart of Oakville, this is a velvety thick wine, supple in tannin and integrated oak that offers a ying-yang of rich mocha notes and herbal sage. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $50

88

Nine North Wine Company 2015 Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon (California). For full review see page 183. Best Buy. abv: 13.9% Price: $13

88

Reyes 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sierra Pelona Valley). There are some curious, almost Syrah-like elements to this bottling from a rural region between Santa Clarita and Palmdale, but it’s an interesting wine. Aromas of concentrated blueberry and blackberry meet with tar, peppercorn and black licorice on the nose. Then the palate shows dark fruit with fennel, oregano, marjoram, black-olive and beef-crust flavors. —M.K. abv: 13.7% Price: $26

88

Rodney Strong 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley). From a selection of sites within the appellation, this approachable wine

220 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

is dusty and grippy, with strong flavors of chocolate, plum and blackberry. Firm rounded tannins make for an enjoyable experience. The finish just slightly smoky and seasoned in black pepper. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $28

87

Angelo Cellars 2014 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). This includes small amounts of Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot from the famous site, the wine lushly round and decadent in a taste of chocolate sauce and plum. Dusty chalky tannin support modest acidity and powerful French oak. —V.B. abv: 14.4% Price: $80

87

Auburn 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Good cherry and cranberry flavors lend a lot of fruitiness to this medium-bodied moderately proportioned wine. It has a touch of tannin in the texture and good balance overall. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $38

87

Aviary 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Ample flavors of plump blackberries and black cherries fill up this full-bodied and supersmooth wine. Hints of dark chocolate and coffee come out on the palate, and with soft tannins and mild acidity it seems to melt in the mouth. —J.G. abv: 13.9% Price: $18

87

Concannon 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles). Candied Concord grape and Welch’s grape juice aromas show on the nose of this easy-toenjoy, albeit simple bottling, with hints of lilacs and sweet herbs as well. The grape juice flavors carry to the palate, where they are lifted by hints of fennel and rose petals. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $20

87

Esser 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Monterey County). Black plum, savory peppercorns and smoke make for a very acceptable nose on this widely available twist-top bottling. The flavors are very juicy and the mouthfeel quite creamy, with slightly sweet flavors of ripe black fruit sure to please the masses. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $17

87

Kenwood 2014 Jack London Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Mountain). A strong thread of menthol eucalyptus plays along the palate of this wine, which offers a full-bodied firmness of grippy leather and bright red fruit. It finishes with a soft simple end. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $32

87

Michael Sullberg 2015 Reserve Lot 98 Cabernet Sauvignon (California). This wine has yummy, fresh fruit aromas and flavors and a supple texture. The cherry, raspberry and plum notes are easy to savor due to medium body, light tannins and rather soft acidity. —J.G. abv: 13.2% Price: $14

87

Nine North Wine Company 2015 Twenty Bench Cabernet Sauvignon (North Coast). Lively and spicy aromas like nutmeg and toasted oak get this wine off to a good start, while ripe, warm berry and black-cherry flavors kick in on the palate. It’s full bodied but easygoing since light tannins and soft acidity lend a smooth texture. —J.G. abv: 13.9% Price: $17

87

Rancho Sisquoc 2015 Flood Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Santa Barbara County). Black olive, slate, black peppercorns, thick-skinned elderberry, charcoal and mocha hide a deep-seated pyrazine aroma on the nose of this bottling. That green-peppercorn flavor also shows on the sip, along with charred plum. —M.K. abv: 14% Price: $28

87

Rock & Vine 2014 Three Ranches Cabernet Sauvignon (Central Coast). Reserved on the nose, this bottling eventually shows dried plums, berries, lilac and tar aromas. Dried purple flowers show on the sip alongside blueberries, plums, leather and dried-meat flavors. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $17

87

Séamus Wines 2012 Atwood Ranch Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Valley). Gritty like fruit leather, with a perceived sweetness of plum candy and red licorice, this wine is wide and expansive on the palate, with grippy, persistent tannins. The oak is dominant and pushy on the palate, unsettled somewhat in its integration. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $88

86

Arbor Bench Vineyards 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Dry Creek Valley). Tart, firm and simple, this wine lacks complexity and structure somewhat, providing quiet flavors of leather saddle and cedar amongst a soft rounded tannin profile. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $48

86

Arrowood 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley). Two vineyards go into the making of this wine, including Stonestreet Estate. A nose of plum and dried cherry ride along an extracted palate of relative lightness and notes of soy and tomato leaf. —V.B. abv: 13.9% Price: $40

86

Greystone 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Plenty of good plum and raspberry flavors give substance to this very smooth-textured and medium-bodied wine. It has a mouth-filling quality, ripe fruit and light touches of spice to keep it interesting. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

86

Grindstone 2014 Valley View Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Medium bodied and not too tannic, this enjoyable wine has


vanilla and cedar aromas, moderate plum flavors and an almost soft mouthfeel. —J.G. abv: 14.1% Price: $18

86

Levendi 2014 Sweetwater Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Smoky oak surrounds robust black fruit, peppercorn and a soft, supple core of easygoing texture and rounded richness. The fruit is sourced primary from the relatively cool Oak Knoll District. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $60

86

Lodi Estates 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Lodi). A strong smoky spicy aroma and seemingly sweet flavors characterize this showy oaky wine. It’s medium to full bodied and has moderate tannins that are softened by a syrupy fruit core. —J.G. abv: 13.8% Price: $22

86

Plungerhead 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Lodi). Vanilla and cinnamon notes show some oak influence in this medium-bodied wellmade wine that has enough plum and red-cherry flavors to balance out a lightly tannic texture. —J.G. abv: 14.5% Price: $14

86

Scotto Family Cellars 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Lodi). This is a medium-bodied gen-

tly balanced wine with very ripe fruit flavors and a smooth soft texture. Scotto ferments it in stainless steel and ages it for 18 months in pre-used French oak barrels. —J.G. abv: 13% Price: $13

86

Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Gentle in texture and generous in flavor, this wine is medium bodied, rather soft in mouthfeel and has ripe strawberry and red-cherry notes that are direct and delicious, leaving a fruity, almost sweet finish. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $8

RED BLENDS

96

ONX 2015 Reckoning (Templeton Gap District). For full review see page 163. abv: 15.2% Price: $58

95

Vina Robles 2013 Suendero (Paso Robles). For full review see page 164. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14.8% Price: $56

94

Daou 2015 Cuvée Lizzy (Adelaida District). For full review see page 165. abv: 14.7% Price: $75

94

Dominus 2014 Napanook (Napa Valley). For full review see page 165. Editors' Choice. abv: 14.5% Price: $69

94

ONX 2015 Praetorian (Templeton Gap District). For full review see page 166. abv: 14.4% Price: $48

93

Bodega de Edgar 2014 E2 (Ballard Canyon). A blend of the favorite grapes of winemaker Edgar Torres (60% Grenache) and his wife, Erika (40% Syrah) from Kimsey Vineyard, this bottling shows bright and elegant aromas of boysenberry and elderberry with olive, wet river stone and pine forest. The chalky tannins still need time to evolve, but the black pepper, dark fruit, incense and myrrh flavors are well balanced. —M.K. abv: 15.1% Price: $48

93

Bonny Doon 2013 Le Cigare Volant (Central Coast). The blend of 55% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 16% Mourvèdre and 4% Cinsaut offers subtle mulberry fruit on the nose, a spicy peppercorn kick and plenty of gamy meats. That funky meat quality, from raw to jerkied, is prominent and pure on the sip, surrounded by exotic plums and Middle Eastern spices. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $45

WINEMAG.COM | 221


BUYINGGUIDE

93

Chesebro 2012 La Montagne Sauvage (Carmel Valley). Bountiful and rich black fruits of black currant and black cherry meet with dark clove and other baking spices as well as a hint of maple on the nose of this Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre blend. The palate’s chalky structure is soft, allowing strong spice to rise amidst the black fruit in the midpalate, followed by a wave of plummy purpleflower flavors. The finish is all acid, which makes for a compelling combo of sensations. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $28

93

ONX 2015 Level 22 (Templeton Gap District). For full review see page 168. abv: 15.3% Price: $54

93

Tamber Bey 2014 Vermejo Deux Chevaux Vineyard (Yountville). This blend works in commingling 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc and 4% each of Malbec and Petit Verdot, all from the producer’s vineyard. Caramel sparks a richness against which herbal, woody tannins speak. The body expansive and full, and the finish awash in spicy clove. —V.B. abv: 15% Price: $115

93

White Hart Wine 2014 Vasthoudend Red Blend (Monterey). Extreme concentration combined with a velvety texture make this inky-dark wine made from Tannat and Dornfelder compelling to taste. The color is black with a thin ruby rim while black cherry, cedar and tobacco fill the aroma and crème de cassis meets espresso on the palate. The mouthfeel is polished as very finegrained tannins blend with a rich viscosity. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: NA Price: $40

92

Atrea 2014 Old Soul Red (Mendocino). This is a well-made, well-balanced and sophisticated wine from the new-oak, salt and pepper aromas to the tasty blackberry and baking spice flavors to the generous and mouthcoating texture. Firmly tannic, the wine’s concentrated fruit and spice flavors come through nicely on the palate and linger on the finish. Editors’ Choice. —J.G. abv: 14.9% Price: $25

92

Barton 2013 The Dance (Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara). Dark and velvety on the nose, this blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc and 10% Malbec offers a plump but balanced expression of black cherry, black pepper and dried herbs. The complex palate combines exotic plum and dried strawberry with mocha and crumbled mint flavors. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $62

92

Bodega de Edgar 2014 Mis Pasos (Paso Robles). Buoyant aromas of boysenberry juice, white pepper and a touch of rosemary show on the nose of this blend of 34% Merlot, 33% Tempranillo and 33% Syrah, whose name means “my steps” and is an homage to the parents of winemaker Edgar Torres. Sticky tannins frame a

222 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

medium-weight body full of sage, bay leaf and peppercorn flavors, which decorate the elderberry fruit. This is still a very young wine. —M.K. abv: 15.1% Price: $48

92

Toccata 2013 Riserva (Santa Barbara County). For full review see page 173. abv: 14.5% Price: $38

92

91

92

91

Bodega de Edgar 2014 Toro de Paso (Central Coast). Very roasted notes of coffee, warm leather, tobacco leaves, sagebrush and stewed blackberries show on the nose of this blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The roasted quality carries through the sip, with more coffee and char tones alongside dried plums, crushed gravel and dusty tannins. —M.K. abv: 15.1% Price: $48 Bonny Doon 2012 Le Cigare Volant Reserve (Central Coast). This beloved annual bottling by Randall Grahm blends 39% Mourvèdre, 33% Grenache, 26% Syrah and 2% Cinsaut to create a very savory, Old World-style expression, with aromas of roasted game, pencil shavings, dried red fruits and blood. The palate is very iron-rich and rustic, with uncrushed black peppercorns and raw and dried meat flavors. —M.K. abv: 13.5% Price: $60

92

Central Coast Group Project 2013 Barrington Hall Wine Dinner Special Cuvée (Santa Barbara County). Scott Sampler is employing some avant-garde techniques in his winemaking, including extra long macerations, but this blend of 50% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre and 25% Syrah is relatively straightforward. Aromas of stewed blackberry and red currant meet with licorice spice and a leathery richness on the nose. The palate shows black raspberry, vanilla dust, gingerbread and minty tarragon, laid upon a still-tight texture with lively acidity. —M.K. abv: 15.5% Price: $75

92

Naggiar 2014 Estate Reserve La Boheme (Sierra Foothills). Richly layered with fruit, this full-bodied Bordeaux-style blend has wonderful concentration, a good sense of depth and a creamy texture that has mild and supportive tannins. The mouthfeel is very supple and the dark berry and black-cherry flavors are ripe and delicious. —J.G. abv: 14.8% Price: $44

92

ONX 2015 Crux (Templeton Gap District). For full review see page 172. abv: 15.1% Price: $54

92

Quivira 2014 Elusive (Dry Creek Valley). Made from 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre, this is a thick, extracted exploration of strawberry and leather. Bright and brawny, it has supportive freshness and acidity beneath the power of its meaty ripe fruit. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $36

92

Sextant NV Genoa Estate Grown (El Pomar District). For full review see page 173. abv: 13.8% Price: $80

Barton 2013 Watchtower (Adelaida District). From Glenrose Vineyard, this blend of 31% Mourvèdre, 23% Tannat, 16% Syrah, 16% Counoise and 14% Grenache is very earthy and mineral-driven, with crushed black rocks, asphalt, incense, dark-purple flowers and a touch of blackberry on the nose. It’s relatively lightweight on the palate with grippy tannins, showing tart berry and bay leaf flavors. —M.K. abv: 15% Price: $55

Caldera 2010 The Earth Speaks (Paso Robles). This blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc is still quite fresh for being seven-years-old, offering aromas of concentrated red-cherry juice, allspice, sandalwood and nose-tickling cinnamon. Cedar and myrrh flavors lead the woody palate, where a buoyant acidity lifts up the red cherry and tart red-currant fruits. —M.K. abv: 15.4% Price: $79

91

Covenant 2015 Red C Red (Sonoma County). A blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Grenache and Merlot, this delicious red is juicy in blackberry and vanilla swirls of flavor. Tar, sage and tobacco add savory touches that work within its soft rounded frame. Kosher. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $44

91

Michael David 2015 7 Deadly Red (Lodi). For full review see page 175. abv: 15% Price: $16

91

Midnight 2013 Mare Nectaris Reserve (Paso Robles). Heavy licorice bombards the nose on this blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 14% Merlot, 8% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot, but there is plenty of cassis, fudge, brandy and mint to add complexity. Solid acid and firm tannins grab the palate’s attention immediately, allowing blackberry, dried herbs and a rocky minerality to converge cleanly. —M.K. abv: 14.9% Price: $52

91

Montemar 2013 G-S-M (Santa Barbara County). Tight but ripe elderberry aromas mingle with lots of sagebrush, hints of smoke and a crushed slate minerality on the nose of this blend. The palate’s tart acidity and aggressive tannins could use a tad more mellowing, but the bright and pretty boysenberry flavors are easy to enjoy right away. —M.K. abv: 14.1% Price: $38

91

ONX 2015 Caliber (Templeton Gap District). For full review see page 176. abv: 15% Price: $65

91

Rancho Sisquoc 2015 Tre Vini Flood Family Vineyards (Santa Barbara County). For full review see page 176. abv: 14% Price: $22


91

91

90

91

90

90

91

90

90

Rancho Sisquoc 2014 Cellar Select Flood Family Vineyards Meritage (Santa Barbara County). For full review see page 176. abv: 13.8% Price: $35

91

Rutherford Ranch 2015 Two Range (Napa Valley). For full review see page 176. abv: 13.5% Price: $25 Trinchero 2014 Forte Estate Grown (Napa Valley). Made from a majority of Malbec, with smaller additions of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Sirah, this wine is black as night, tart and taut in texture. A dizzying array of violet, garrigue and lavender give it an exotic element that’s inviting against a full-bodied backdrop, finished in gunpowder and cigar box. —V.B. abv: 14.9% Price: $70

Trione 2013 Henry’s Blend (Alexander Valley). A Bordeaux-style blend of all five classic red varieties (the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot playing nearly equal roles) this wine is tart in blackberry, cranberry, dark cherry and cassis, with firm, youthful tannins supporting the fruit. Softly intense, it offers balanced acidity and integrated oak. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $56

Zaca Mesa 2013 Z Three (Santa Ynez Valley). Very fresh aromas of violet, black plum and black rocks show on the nose of this blend of 62% Syrah, 34% Mourvèdre and 4% Grenache. It’s quite dry on the sip yet with lots of floral flavors, including violet, lilac and lavender, which give depth to the blue fruits. The tannic structure is quite rocky and upright. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $48

B Cellars 2015 Blend 27 (Napa Valley). Merlot makes up 40% of this blend, with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc as well. Smoky meaty characteristics ride a rounded, smoothly textured and fullbodied explosion of baked blackberry and cassis, the tannins chalky. —V.B. abv: 14.9% Price: $79

Bel Vino 2014 Long Valley Red (California). This suave-textured and lavishly fruity wine combines a rich baking-spice aroma, with saturated blackberry, blueberry and dark chocolate flavors. The mouthfeel of this Bordeaux-style blend is smooth and creamy and the finish is long. —J.G. abv: 13.8% Price: $50

Brutocao 2014 Hopland Ranches Torrent (Mendocino). This is a serious, dry and well-structured wine with lots of dark-fruit flavors and firm tannins. It has tempting black cherry aromas and black-currant flavors, a full body and a mouth-filling lightly astringent texture that will pair well with rich food. Best after 2019. —J.G. abv: 14.5% Price: $32

Brutocao 2014 Quadriga Hopland Ranches Estate Bottled (Mendocino). This blend of four Italian grape varieties melds highlights of oak spices and pepper with just-ripe cherry and raspberry flavors for a tasty, complex but not heavy personality. The texture is mildly tannic, the balance is spot-on and it has an appetizing, crisp finish. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $28

Carol Shelton 2014 Karma Reserve (Sonoma County). This blends 70% Zinfandel with 14% Petite Sirah, 6% Alicante Bouschet, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Carignane and 2% Viognier. It succeeds in its full embrace of juicy red berry and big tannin concentration, showing good structure and powerful waves of caramel and pie crust. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $30

WINEMAG.COM | 223


BUYINGGUIDE

90

Cedarville Vineyard 2014 The Rules of Fair Play (El Dorado). Opulent and ripe but also full of black pepper and clove, this wine is fullbodied, spicy and firmly structured. It has good supportive tannins in the texture while blackberry, smoke and charred oak flavors make for interesting flavor complexity. —J.G. abv: 15.4% Price: $36

90

Dante Robere NV Paradiso (California). This wine is big and beefy, full bodied and packed with meaty, spicy, cedary aromas and flavors that are well matched to its bold structure. Made from Spanish grape varieties, it has a fun bold flavor profile, good and grippy tannins and very good balance for a wine this powerful. —J.G. abv: 15.1% Price: $38

90

Duckhorn 2013 The Discussion (Napa Valley). For full review see page 177. abv: 14.5% Price: $135

90

Hess 2014 19 Block Mountain Cuvée (Mount Veeder). Made from estate grapes, this combines 54% Malbec with 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and smaller amounts of Syrah and Petit Verdot. Rich as cherry pie, highlights of clove and nutmeg dot the brawny, elongated tannins as the lengthy finish adds a hint of mocha. —V.B. abv: 14.6% Price: $45

90

Lobo 2015 Howl Wulff Vineyards Custom Red (Napa Valley). This blends 68% Syrah and 32% Cabernet Sauvignon from one site, the whole having aged for 16 months in 50% new French oak. Bright, brooding and velvety, it tastes of berry pie and chocolate-covered strawberry, with a softness to the leathery finish. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $65

90

Marietta Cellars NV Old Vine Red Lot 66 (California). It’s great to return to an excellent honest-tasting fruit-driven wine that has very good balance, an appetizing texture thanks to finegrained tannins and light spicy elements to complement the pure cherry and berry core. It’s the kind of wine that doesn’t get tiring, and will be ideal to stock up on. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $14

90

Michael David 2015 Freakshow (Lodi). For full review see page 179. abv: 15% Price: $20

90

ONX 2015 Mad Crush (Templeton Gap District). For full review see page 179. abv: 14.5% Price: $48

90

Midnight 2013 Zenith (Paso Robles Willow Creek District). Tightly wound on the nose at first, this blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 13% Malbec and 12% Petit Verdot opens slowly to show blackberry, anise and baking spice on the nose. The palate offers boysenberry, slate, oregano and bay leaf, wrapped in decent tan-

224 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

nins and acidity. Patience will allow this wine to come into its own. —M.K. abv: 15.5% Price: $70

89

Boeger 2014 Meritage (El Dorado). This is a good, classic-style blend of Bordeaux grape varieties with just enough tannin to support the ripe blackberry and black-pepper flavors. It’s dry, has medium body and a mouth-filling texture. —J.G. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

89

Bogle 2015 Red (California). Wonderful dark and ripe fruit flavors fill out this wine beautifully, shaped by a velvety, softly tannic texture and mild acidity. Hints of chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon develop on the palate. From a long-time standard bearer for value, this wine is a no-lose proposition. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $11

89

Brutocao 2013 Uber Tuscan Style Hopland Ranches Estate Bottled (Mendocino). A savory, lightly herbal character complements raspberry and cherry flavors in this medium-bodied and well-balanced wine. It has light tannins for a little grip in the texture, and attractive complexity from the aroma to the finish. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $28

89

Ferrari-Carano 2014 PreVail West Face Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah (Alexander Valley). Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in this 66% to 35% blend, with both varieties grown on the producer’s Lookout Mountain estate. Full bodied, it features stewed plum, dark chocolate and mocha, with a base of cedar and clove. Extended tannins make it fleshy and full. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $70

89

Hahn 2015 SLH G-S-M (Santa Lucia Highlands). Dried berries, fennel fronds and pencil shavings show on the nose of this blend of 63% Grenache, 24% Syrah and 13% Mourvèdre. There is decent density and a soft mouthfeel on the sip, where plummy fruits meet with leather and dried herbs. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $45

89

Naggiar 2015 Black Beast (Sierra Foothills). Big and flavorful, this wine smells and tastes like ripe blackberries and dried plums, and has the firm, moderately tannic texture to go with that richness. Made from a high concentration of Petite Sirah and Syrah, it’s quite intense. —J.G. abv: 14.8% Price: $27

89

Naggiar 2014 Estate Reserve La Bete Noire (Sierra Foothills). A very dark color and equally deep late-harvest fruit flavors frame this full-bodied and abundantly tannic Rhône-style blend. It’s lightly sweet but heavy on the raisin and prune flavors that are matched well by the dense texture. —J.G. abv: 14.6% Price: $44

88

Avaler 2015 R Own Cuvée (Sonoma County). Reduced and extracted, this is a hearty blend of 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 10% Viognier. A juicy backbone of high-toned cherry is met by pretty aromas of violet as broad-shouldered body weight and texture provide a meaty edge. —V.B. abv: 14.4% Price: $25

88

Bel Vino 2014 Tatr (California). This fullbodied Bordeaux-style blend is hardly simple and fruity. It has earthy spicy leathery aromas along with raspberry flavors tinged by earth and tobacco, plus moderate tannins for a pleasantly grippy texture. —J.G. abv: 14.1% Price: $43

88

Bella Grace 2015 Montagnaro (Amador County). This is a robust mouth-filling wine with good fruit flavors, nice accents of black pepper and grilled beef, and a nip of sweetness to take the edge off moderate tannins. It’s made from two of the classic Foothills grape varieties: Zinfandel and Barbera. —J.G. abv: 14.4% Price: $25

88

Black’s Station 2015 Red Blend (Yolo County). For full review see page 182. Best Buy. abv: 13.9% Price: $12

88

Brassfield 2014 Eruption (High Valley). Strong spicy, meaty aromas and equally assertive oak and char flavors threaten to overwhelm the fruity aspects of this dry wine, but it has enough concentrated blackberry and blueberry stuffing to match the firm tannins. Best after 2020. —J.G. abv: 14.8% Price: $24

88

Church & State 2014 Lost Inhibitions I Don’t Care Who’s Watching (California). For full review see page 180. abv: 13.8% Price: $15

88

Cooper-Garrod 2012 Test Pilot F6F Hellcat (Santa Cruz Mountains). From organic grapes, this blend of 65% Cabernet Franc and 35% Merlot shows roasted coffee, chocolate, peppercorn and beef char on the savory nose. Rustic red cherry and tart cranberry show on the sip, which is dominated by a woody spice and hints of thyme, tarragon and leather. —M.K. abv: 13.2% Price: $41

88

Crux 2013 G-S-M (Russian River Valley). Made from 48% Grenache, 37% Syrah and 15% Mourvèdre, this is an earthy wine, full of mushroomy herbal notes that lean into a trove of eucalyptus. Leather rides along a smooth texture of baked and dried cherry. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $42

88

Franciscan 2014 Magnificat Meritage (Napa Valley). Built around 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, this blend also contains 17% Merlot and smaller percentages of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Given a good amount of time in bar-


rel, it expresses char, bacon fat and a luxurious and thickly rich amount of black fruit. Concentrated, it should please a wide array of palates. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $55

88

Girard 2014 Artistry (Napa Valley). This blends 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 11% Malbec and 7% Petit Verdot. Tight-grained tannin structure dominates a full-bodied brawny expression of wood and oak as well as ripe cherry, clove and cinnamon. —V.B. abv: 14.9% Price: $40

88

Girasole 2015 Hybrid Red (Mendocino). Firm in texture and moderately tannic, this wine is poised for pairing with something rich like braised or roasted beef. Cranberry and black cherry aromas meet baking spice nuances on the palate. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $14

88

Hahn 2016 G-S-M (Central Coast). Freshly smashed plum and wild berries show strongly on the nose of this blend of 71% Grenache, 22% Syrah and 7% Mourvèdre, along with dried lilacs and an array of garden and wild herbs, from thyme to oregano. The herbs take center stage on the sip, with wild mint, dried sage and fennel covering the dried plum fruits. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $14

88

Stags’ Leap Winery 2014 The Investor (Napa Valley). This combines Merlot, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Juicy in tart cassis and cherry, it’s more about tannin and leathery texture than fruit wrapped in charred oak. —V.B. abv: 14.1% Price: $58

88

The Calling 2012 Our Tribute (Alexander Valley). This Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant blend includes smaller percentages of Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Together they are a velvety thick and rich exploration of berry-patch flavors and smoky oak founded on a floor of soft tannin. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $62

87

Bella Grace 2015 Bella’s Red (Amador County). This is a rich, fairly dry and flavorful wine that has baking spice and chocolate aromas, cocoadusted plum flavors and a broad softly tannic texture that adds a good bite. —J.G. abv: 14.4% Price: $20

87

Buck Shack 2014 Small Batch (Lake County). This is an easygoing but richly flavored wine that starts with light toast and spice aromas preceding somewhat sweet jammy flavors, a soft texture and medium body. Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon formed the blend. —J.G. abv: 14.2% Price: $30

87

Clos LaChance 2015 22 Pirates Red Blend (Central Coast). Dark red fruit, baking spice and black plums show on the pleasant although simple nose of this blend, which features a fun label of swashbucklers. Chalky tannins and solid acidity frame the sip, where black pepper dust and boysenberry fruit fight for attention. —M.K. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

87

Ferrari-Carano 2014 Una G-S-M (Alexander Valley). Equal parts Grenache and Syrah are blended with 18% Mourvèdre in this classic red Rhône blend. Broad, with fleshy tannins, it has a meaty character, brightened by flavors of baked strawberry, chocolate and smoky oak. —V.B. abv: 14.8% Price: $39

87

Naggiar 2015 Root 49 (Sierra Foothills). This wine from a prolific Sierra winery is dark in color, ripe and full in flavor, showing blackberry jam, chocolate and raspberry flavors while coating the palate with soft tannins and good concentration. —J.G. abv: 14.4% Price: $27

87

Rose & Son 2015 Coquelicot Estate Vineyard (Santa Barbara County). There are copious amounts of earth and herbs on the nose of this blend of 28% Merlot, 28% Sangiovese, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Carmenere, 6% Malbec and

88

Lake and Vine Cellars 2013 Red (Lake County). Well-concentrated black-cherry flavors give a great core of fruit to this well-balanced, fullbodied and lightly tannic wine. It has more grip and less obvious oak than many others. —J.G. abv: 14.5% Price: $25

88

Method 2015 Red (North Coast). This dry wine made from Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah is smooth and gentle, nicely fruity but also spiced with touches of black pepper and clove. The mouthfeel is especially silky so it’s easy to sip and enjoy. —J.G. abv: 14.5% Price: $25

88

ONX 2016 Indie Noir (Paso Robles). For full review see page 181. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14.8% Price: $28

88

Russian Ridge 2014 Concerto (Santa Cruz Mountains). Fresh wild berry and Concord grape aromas meet with dark lavender, black tea and crushed slate on the nose of this blend of 51% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec and 4% Petit Verdot. Boysenberry syrup meets with pencil shavings on the palate. —M.K. abv: 14.29% Price: $32

88

Rutherford Hill 2014 Barrel Select (Napa Valley). Driven by 72% Merlot, with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Cabernet Franc, this affordable offering is brawny and tightly wound in woody tannin, with a thickness to the texture. Big oak cradles bold flavors of black coffee and tobacco. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $35

WINEMAG.COM | 225


BUYINGGUIDE 5% Petit Verdot, showing baked earth, red bell pepper and leather. It’s soft and easy on the palate, with red fruit and that peppery pyrazine touch, making for a solid weeknight pizza wine. —M.K. abv: 13.3% Price: $29

87

Save Me San Francisco 2014 Drops of Jupiter (California). Very opulent in texture and somewhat sweet in flavor, this wine has black pepper and blackberry aromas, ripe and jammy fruit on the palate and enough grippy tannin to nicely counterbalance the sweetness. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $10

87

The Illegitimate 2014 Cuvée Non Autorisée (California). This is a very ripe-tasting broadly textured wine that’s full bodied and fruity. Plum and prune aromas precede jammy, grapey flavors with light spicy accents. Blended from Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s soft in mouthfeel and low in acidity and tannins. —J.G. abv: 12.2% Price: $25

87

Tiedemann 2010 Signature Series (Napa Valley). Aged for 18 months in French oak, this is made predominantly from Tempranillo and it is a simple rendering of soy, black cherry, leather and big tannin weight. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $42

86

Ben Ish NV Ben’s Select (California). Richly fruity, this wine has a smooth texture and well-concentrated black-plum flavors along with a lightly spicy, bread dough accent that adds interest. It’s a touch sweet and supported by light tannins. Kosher. —J.G. abv: NA Price: $20

86

Enkidu 2015 Cuvée JM (Sonoma County). This is a blend of 45% Syrah, 33% Grenache and 22% Mourvèdre. Strong aromas of eucalyptus leaves dominate a thick tannic concentration of dark cherry and cassis with a light simplicity to the finish. —V.B. abv: 13.9% Price: $20

86

Ghostrunner 2016 Ungrafted Red (Lodi). This concentrated and fruity red blend has effusive black-cherry aromas, ripe black-plum flavors and a slight sweetness that makes the texture smooth and soft. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $14

86

La Storia 2014 Cuvée 32 (Alexander Valley). Merlot and Sangiovese make up nearly equal parts of this wine, with smaller amounts of Montepulciano, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Cola, vanilla and cherry are walled within full-bodied weight and tannin, with a simple structure and finish. —V.B. abv: 14.5% Price: $36

86

Rare 2014 Purple Blend (California). For full review see page 183. Best Buy. abv: 13.5% Price: $10

226 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

86

Reyes 2011 Robby’s Blend (California). This six-year-old blend of 46% Syrah, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot is showing its age, with aromas of reduced cherry sauce, tar and cocoa dust. The rustic palate is full of leather, tobacco, dried cherries and dusty earth flavors. Still interesting, but drink up soon. —M.K. abv: 13.9% Price: $22

86

Sketchbook 2014 Artist’s Red (Mendocino County). Bold, concentrated and full bodied, this wine brings effusive black cherry and blueberry aromas, a Port-like fruit concentration, good bracing texture and decent balance. —J.G. abv: 14.5% Price: $15

85

Black Ink 2015 Red Wine (California). For full review see page 183. Best Buy. abv: 13.5% Price: $9

85

Murphy-Goode 2013 Red (California). This is an easygoing wine with vanilla and cinnamon flavors, a soft texture and a touch of sweetness coating the fruit flavors contributed by Syrah, Merlot and other blenders. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $14

85

Trentadue 2015 Old Patch Red Lot# 43 (California). Sweet and spicy, this medium-bodied Zinfandel-based wine smells like strawberries and tastes like vanilla, nutmeg and cherry syrup. It is soft in texture, low in acidity and characterized by spicy oaky nuances. —J.G. abv: 14.9% Price: $15

85

Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi 2015 Cabernet-Merlot (California). This mediumbodied wine has fresh red cherry and strawberry aromas followed by light cherry and plum flavors, very mild tannins and a rather soft texture. Best Buy. —J.G. abv: 13.5% Price: $8/1.5 L

WASHINGTON CABERNET SAUVIGNON

90

History 2014 Otis Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Yakima Valley). This wine comes from the state’s oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines, planted in 1957. Light in color, the aromas draw you into the glass with notes of earth, cassis, dried herb and cherry. The cranberry flavors are light and elegant, with a zing of acidity that keeps the interest high. It’s a very pretty expression of the variety, best suited for the dinner table. —S.S. abv: 14.1% Price: $75

89

Sheridan Vineyard 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Yakima Valley). Aromas of baking spice, orange peel and green herb are followed by wellbalanced fruit and savory flavors. There’s no mis-

taking the variety or the region that it comes from. It’s a distinctive wine but not for all tastes. —S.S. abv: 14.1% Price: $30

88

Animale 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Yakima Valley). High-toned aromas of herb, cigar box and spice are followed by tart cranberry and cherry flavors backed by lightly gritty tannins. The bright acidity keeps the interest high. Put it on the dinner table to see it at its best. —S.S. abv: 14.1% Price: $NA

88

Charles Smith 2015 Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington). The aromas are forward, with notes of black currant, blue fruit, herb and spice. The palate delivers a mouthful of sweet blue-fruit flavors, with the oak dialed back. Lightly dry tannins provide support. It’s hard to necessarily place it as Cabernet but it brings plenty of appeal. —S.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

88

Double Canyon 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Horse Heaven Hills). Light aromas of baking spice and herb are at the fore. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied, bringing a sense of freshness and vibrancy. —S.S. abv: 14% Price: $25

88

Dunham 2014 XX Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). The aromas are quite smoky, with notes of burnt toast along with herb and vanilla—not a particularly appealing combination. The flavors seem light in concentration. It doesn’t all come together. —S.S. abv: 13.8% Price: $45

88

Rich Table 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). The aromas are downright fruity, with notes of apricot nectar, herb, dried stem and flower. The palate brings chalky-feeling cherry and guava flavors. It’s an unusual interpretation of this variety that could use more time to settle in the bottle. —S.S. abv: 12% Price: $20

88

Windy Canyon 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Walla Walla Valley). Aromas of assorted green herbs mix with notes of black cherry, anise and barrel spice. The blackberry flavors are sweet and tacky in feel. There’s intrigue but it doesn’t all come together. —S.S. abv: 14.8% Price: $28

87

Apex 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). Aromas of cocoa, baking spice and herb are followed by cocoa and vanilla-speckled flavors. The tannins bring a slight sense of astringency but overall it offers some appeal. —S.S. abv: 14.1% Price: $30

87

DiStefano 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). The aromas are all high toned, with notes of baking spice, green herb, berry and wood spice. The palate is on the lighter side of


medium bodied, with appealing well-balanced flavors. —S.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $39

87

Longship 2015 Wise Man Cabernet Sauvignon (Horse Heaven Hills). Strong char, toast and barrel aromas are at the fore, getting way out in front of the fruit. The fruit flavors are tart and considerably more elegant than the aromas might suggest. There seems to be a bit of disconnect between the two. —S.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $38

87

March 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). The aromas are light, with notes of red apple, barrel spice, vanilla and cherry. The flavors are medium bodied, showing a mixture of fruit and barrel. There’s interest to be had but it all seems a bit subdued and the finish a bit clipped. —S.S. abv: 14.3% Price: $34

87

Skyfall 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). This wine is quite blue-fruited aromatically for a Cabernet. This continues on the palate, with boysenberry flavors backed by lightly grainy tannins. It provides interest, but you’d never peg it for Cabernet Sauvignon. —S.S. abv: 13.8% Price: $14

89

Andrew Rich 2014 Red Willow Vineyard Syrah (Columbia Valley). Coming from one of the state’s premier Syrah vineyards, aromas of herb, red fruit, flower and spice are at the fore. The palate is full with red and black-fruit flavors with a lightly tacky feel. —S.S. abv: 14.1% Price: $40

88

Dunham 2014 Syrah (Columbia Valley). Subdued aromas of vanilla, cocoa and smoke are followed by silky-feeling fruit and barrel flavors. It brings a sense of elegance, with the fruit and oak playing equal parts in the show. —S.S. abv: 14.2% Price: $35

88

Love That Red 2015 Stakes Race Syrah (Columbia Valley). This wine, which includes 17% Grenache, is a blend of fruit from Les Collines, Discovery and Riviere Galets vineyards. Smoked meat, dried herb and baking-spice aromas are followed by red-fruit flavors that display a sense of elegance. —S.S. abv: 14.4% Price: $36

88

North by Northwest 2014 Syrah (Walla Walla Valley). Fruit from Seven Hills, Los Oidos, and Les Collines make up the majority of this wine. Aromas of baking spice and jammy raspberry notes are at the fore. The red-fruit flavors are full bodied

and intense, trailing a bit on the finish. There are a lot of good things going on here but they don’t all entirely come together. —S.S. abv: 13.96% Price: $40

87

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Syrah (Columbia Valley). Vanilla, baking spice, huckleberry, herb and blackberry aromas are at the fore. The black and blue-fruit flavors are soft and supple, bringing light savory notes that provide appeal. —S.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

87

Longship 2015 Ginger Man Syrah (Walla Walla Valley). The barrel aromas are far out front, with notes of vanilla extract, dill and wood spice. The oak shows heavily on the palate as well, making it nearly impossible to get at the fruit and giving the wine a gritty feel. —S.S. abv: NA Price: $32

87

Windy Canyon 2014 Syrah (Walla Walla Valley). The aromas are lively, with notes of smoke, raw meat, white pepper and red fruit. The palate shows considerable restraint, with an elegant silky feel to the fruit and savory flavors. —S.S. abv: 14.8% Price: $30

87

Vital 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). Aromas of butterscotch, herb and barrel spice are followed by full-bodied cherry and vanilla flavors, with the tannins bringing some grit. Ultimately, the wood seems to get a bit in the way of the fruit. —S.S. abv: 14.4% Price: $28

86

Luke 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Wahluke Slope). The volatiles are amped up here, providing some aromatic distraction. The palate brings high-octane fruit flavors, supported by lightly dry tannins. Tasted twice with consistent notes. —S.S. abv: 14.7% Price: $25

85

Stemilt Creek 2014 Ascent One-half Mile Closer to the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley). The aromas pop, with notes of sliced green pepper and jalapeño pepper, leaning very hard into the green. The palate brings more of the same, drinking more like a Carmenere than a Cabernet. —S.S. abv: 15.3% Price: $48

SYRAH

91

Love That Red 2015 Dead Heat Syrah (Columbia Valley). A blend of Olsen Vineyard in the Yakima Valley and Clifton Hill on the Wahluke Slope, the aromas are generous, with notes of dark plum, smoke and baking spice. The palate is weighty and full, with palate-coating purple-fruit flavors that show pleasing depth, density and length. —S.S. abv: 14.8% Price: $32

WINEMAG.COM | 227


BUYINGGUIDE SANGIOVESE

88

Wilridge 2014 Estate Wilridge Vineyard Sangiovese (Naches Heights). This wine is quite light in color, with delicate aromas of cigar box, herb and spice. The cherry flavors are full and tart, with spice notes on the finish. —S.S. abv: 13.7% Price: $35

87

Cavatappi 2015 Sangiovese (Columbia Valley). The aromas are fruit forward, with notes of plum and herb. The palate is supple in feel, showing little apparent new oak influence and zippy acidity. It doesn’t seem entirely varietal aromatically but still brings appeal and should fit in well at the dinner table. Best Buy. —S.S. abv: 13.29% Price: $12

87

Maryhill 2014 Elephant Mountain Vineyards Sangiovese (Rattlesnake Hills). Aged in 45% new French oak, aromas of cocoa, vanilla and barrel spice are at the fore followed by full-bodied but still tart raspberry and cranberry flavors. It brings a bit of heat along with it. —S.S. abv: 14.8% Price: $34

87

Maryhill 2014 Proprietor’s Reserve Sangiovese (Columbia Valley). The high-toned aromas of raspberry, barrel spice and herb bring a touch of heat along with them. The palate offers tart tangy acidity, with the tannins seeming a bit bunched up. —S.S. abv: 14.8% Price: $36

87

Maryhill 2014 Sangiovese (Columbia Valley). Light in color, aromas of barrel spice, herb and red fruit rise up from the glass. The palate packs a mouthful of red-fruit flavors, with the tannins showing a bit of astringency. —S.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $26

RED BLENDS

88

Andrew Rich 2014 Glacial (Columbia Valley). This wine is a blend of 52% Syrah, 26% Mourvèdre and 22% Grenache. Aromas of black licorice, herb, barrel spice and cassis are out front. The palate is chock-full of black fruit flavors that bring a dry, lightly astringent feel. —S.S. abv: 14.2% Price: $45

88

DiStefano 2013 Meritage (Columbia Valley). This wine is 64% Cabernet Sauvignon along with 24% Petit Verdot and 12% Cabernet Franc. High-toned dried herb aromas are at the fore, with notes of green pepper and baking spice close behind. The palate brings a sense of freshness and vibrancy, with tart fruit flavors lingering on the finish. It doesn’t all quite come together, but there’s interest to be had. —S.S. abv: 13.5% Price: $39

228 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

88

Dunham 2015 Three Legged Red (Washington). Upfront aromas of cocoa, vanilla, sawdust and savory herb are followed by flavors of plum, cherry and barrel spice. The oak and fruit play equal roles, with the flavors a bit dialed back. —S.S. abv: 13.8% Price: $19

88

Pendulum 2014 Red (Columbia Valley). This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The aromas are quite reserved, with notes of vanilla, berry, plum and wood spice. The palate brings plum, cranberry and raspberry flavors, backed by lightly grainy tannins. —S.S. abv: 13.9% Price: $17

IDAHO WHITE WINES

91

Koenig Vineyards 2014 Botrytis Single Berry Select Late Harvest Riesling (Snake River Valley). Coming in at 159g/L residual sugar, this wine is über-aromatic, with notes of dried apricot, pineapple, flowers, and honey, showing layer of complexity. Given the richness of the aromas, the palate is surprisingly deft and light on its feet, displaying a lot of grace and detail to the sugary-sweet flavors. —S.S. abv: 12.8% Price: $30/375 ml

87

90

87

88

Dunham 2014 Trutina (Columbia Valley). This wine is a blend 44% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec and 8% Cabernet Franc. Aromas of cocoa, coconut, herb and cherry are followed by an elegantly styled palate, full of coconut flavors. There’s enjoyment to be had but the oak plays too primary of a role. —S.S. abv: 14.2% Price: $29 Longship 2015 Quinn (Columbia Valley). This wine is a unique blend of 61% Tempranillo, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Grenache. Aromas of coffee grounds, toast, spice and dark fruit are up front, with the oak playing a primary role. The palate mixes fruit and barrel, with the fruit concentration seeming a bit light. —S.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $36

87

Wilridge 2014 Estate Wilridge Vineyard SyrahMourvèdre (Naches Heights). High-toned aromas of potpourri, herb and white pepper lead to plump pleasing fruit flavors. It brings a slightly tacky feel, with the finish coming up a bit short. —S.S. abv: 13.7% Price: $35

87

Wilridge 2014 Mélange Noir Wilridge Vineyard (Naches Heights). This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc (32%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Merlot (24%) and Malbec. Aromas of green pepper, herb, cherry and spice are followed by full-feeling cherry flavors. It comes off as quite green but there’s interest to be had. —S.S. abv: 13.8% Price: $40

86

Animale 2014 Maria Carmela (Washington). This wine is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 9% Pinot Noir and 8% Petit Sirah. Freshly ground cranberry aromas are at the fore, along with notes of gardenia and medicine cabinet. The red-fruit flavors are tart and tacky in feel. It doesn’t all come together. —S.S. abv: 13.9% Price: $NA

Cinder 2016 Off-Dry Riesling (Snake River Valley). There’s no mistaking the variety here, with its attention-getting aromas of flowers, mandarin orange and ripe peach, along with limezest accents. It drinks off dry, with a plentiful, rich, flavorful palate. There’s loads of enjoyment to be had. —S.S. abv: 12.9% Price: $18 Indian Creek 2014 Dry White Mountain Syringa (Snake River Valley). Though not labeled as such, this wine is all Gewürztraminer. It’s aromatic with aromas of lychee, rose petal and spice. The flavors are light and dry, almost delicate, with abundant floral accents. —S.S. abv: 13% Price: $14

87

3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2016 Single Vineyard Pinot Gris (Eagle Foothills). The aromas are bright and fragrant, with notes of pear, flowers, star fruit and mandarin-orange rind. The palate is full of tropical fruit and orange flavors that provide appeal. —S.S. abv: 13.8% Price: $18

87

Colter’s Creek 2015 Chardonnay (Idaho). This is an expressive wine, with aromas of flowers, apple, pear and whiffs of tropical fruit. It’s light yet creamy in feel, with abundant pineapple flavors. —S.S. abv: 14.1% Price: $15

87

Sawtooth 2015 Chardonnay (Snake River Valley). The aromas bring notes of vanilla, cream and baking spice, with the oak playing a prominent part but still showing appeal. The palate brings sweet cinnamon flavors that linger on the finish. —S.S. abv: 13.9% Price: $14

87

Ste. Chapelle 2016 Special Harvest Riesling (Snake River Valley). The aromas are a bit subdued for the variety, with notes of apricot, jasmine and flowers. The palate drinks sweet, with abundant stone-fruit flavors that provide a lot of easy-drinking appeal. —S.S. abv: 11.92% Price: $14


SYRAH

91

Cinder 2015 Syrah (Snake River Valley). Cinder is quietly one of the wineries carrying the banner for this nascent growing region. The aromas here are sappy and brooding, with notes of Marionberry, huckleberry, bittersweet chocolate and a spice top note. The blue-fruit flavors show an alluring sense of purity and grace that carries through the finish, which includes a savory note that heightens the interest. Delicious stuff. Editors’ Choice. —S.S. abv: 14.4% Price: $29

a pleasing sense of purity and acidity. If the reduction settles down, it moves up a notch. —S.S. abv: 14% Price: $16

87

Cinder 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon–Merlot– Malbec (Snake River Valley). The aromas lean pretty far into the green, with notes of savory herb along cherry with wood spice, which seems a bit prominent. The fruit flavors are plump but retain a sense of elegance. Ultimately the sense of greenness proves a bit too distracting. —S.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $29

VIRGINIA

89

Colter’s Creek 2014 Syrah (Snake River Valley). Barrel aromas are up front, with notes of vanilla, dill and wood spice in front of dark fruit. The fruit flavors are plump and plush, with vanilla notes lingering on the finish. There are lots of good things going on here but the wood gets in the way—a shame as the fruit is impressive. —S.S. abv: 14.6% Price: $17

86

Clearwater Canyon 2014 Estate Umiker Vineyard Syrah (Lewis-Clark Valley). Barrel aromas and flavors of dill, vanilla, cocoa and wood spice are far out front, overwhelming any sense of fruit or variety. The wood completely steals the show. —S.S. abv: 14.8% Price: $28

CHARDONNAY

88

Early Mountain 2016 Quaker Run Chardonnay (Virginia). Lush aromas of pineapple and yellow apple ride over undertones of vanilla, coconut and butter on the nose. Concentrated flavors of pineapple, chamomile, vanilla and apple meld effortlessly on the palate. While the feel is round and silky, bright acidity keeps the balance. The finish is long and smooth. —C.D. abv: 13.5% Price: $38

87

Veramar 2015 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (Virginia). This wine is nutty on the nose, with faint hints of lemon, vanilla and ghee. More fruit comes through on the palate, boasting lemon, apple and pineapple, with nuts and chamomile adding depth. This straight-forward and balanced wine has a long and harmonious finish. —C.D. abv: 13% Price: $25

85

Gray Ghost 2015 Reserve Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (Virginia). For full review see page 181. abv: 13.8% Price: $28

85

Veramar 2016 JB Winemaker Series Chardonnay (Virginia). Tones of lemon, yellow apple and cereal with milk carry on the nose and palate. Not overly complex, it’s a nice easy-drinking wine. Thin in body, with a short but pleasant finish. —C.D. abv: 12.1% Price: $32

PETIT MANSENG

89

King Family 2015 Small Batch Series Highland Orchard Petit Manseng (Monticello). Tiers of aromas and flavors in this expressive wine reveal themselves like a Matryoshka doll. Wafts of dried apricot and chamomile open into tangerine

RED BLENDS

90

Bitner 2012 Petit Verdot-Merlot (Snake River Valley). A 60-40 split of two varieties, this wine brings aromas of soil, citrus peel and wood spice. The palate delivers a firm handshake of tannins and fruit flavors brightened by tart acidity. —S.S. abv: 14% Price: $33

89

Colter’s Creek 2013 Arrow Rim (Idaho). Syrah (40%) takes the lead on this blend with the balance equally split between Grenache and Mourvèdre. Aromas of dried herb, cranberry jam, olive, white pepper, vanilla and dill lead to bold full fruit flavors that hold nothing back. Barrel notes—at times a bit predominant—are speckled throughout. —S.S. abv: 14.6% Price: $30

88

Colter’s Creek 2014 Koos Koos Kia (LewisClark Valley). This wine is 47% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with the balance Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Aromas of dill, dried herb, cocoa and spice are followed by soft elegantly styled dark-fruit flavors that show plenty of hang time. —S.S. abv: 14% Price: $25

88

Laissez Faire 2016 Red Wine (Snake River Valley). This young wine is a blend of Sangiovese and Mourvèdre. It shows some reduction out of the gate, with tire-rubber aromas out in front savory herb and plum. The red-fruit flavors display

WINEMAG.COM | 229


BUYINGGUIDE peel and marmalade, then finally marzipan and ginger come forth on the nose. Concentrated flavors mimic the aromas and introduce fresh vanilla bean and hay. Racy acidity thrills, while two years in neutral French oak keeps the wine round and fullbodied. The finish is long and compelling. —C.D. abv: 14.4% Price: $35

85

Veramar 2016 JB Winemaker Series Petit Manseng (Virginia). Peach and honeysuckle stand out on the nose and palate of this wine. Ginger and nutmeg are featured in both as well. While the aromas and flavors are enticing, this wine seems a little flabby, needing a lift of acidity. —C.D. abv: 14.2% Price: $30

84

Horton 2015 Petit Manseng (Virginia). This wine starts on intense aromas of charred oak and roasted nuts. It eventually gives way to stone fruits and marmalade that, while soft on the nose, are stronger on the fruit-forward palate. Nutty flavors and rough oak seem out of place among the fresh fruit and viscous mouthfeel, and makes for a long yet disjointed finish. —C.D. abv: 13.8% Price: $25

OTHER WHITE WINES

ton mushroom and sea spray. Well-balanced, this is smooth and fresh, with hints of nuts on the long finish. —C.D. abv: 13.5% Price: $23

86

86

85

Gray Ghost 2016 Vidal Blanc (Virginia). This Vidal Blanc has intriguing aromas of honeysuckle, peach and powdered ginger. On the palate it is reminiscent of a sugar cookie. This is an easydrinking wine, light in body and complexity. —C.D. abv: 12.5% Price: $17

86

85

89

Casanel 2015 Patricia Marie Pinot Gris (Middleburg). This wine starts off on notes of lemons, almond skins and mushrooms. The palate is quite different with lots of green flavors, from grassiness, to green apple and celery stalks. This is simple in body and has a long nutty finish. —C.D. abv: 12.5% Price: $18

Horton 2016 Private Reserve Albariño (Virginia). The nose carries notes of honeydew and papaya. This tropical feel continues on the palate, with flavors of overripe pear and melon. This is an easy-drinking wine, light in acidity and body, with a mildly fruity finish. —C.D. abv: 13% Price: $25

CABERNET FRANC

88

Barboursville Vineyards 2015 Reserve Viognier (Virginia). White blossoms and wet stone softly caress on the nose. The flavors are layered and compelling, starting on crisp green apple, honeydew melon and peach, folding into complexities of crushed stone, fennel and pollen. Well-balanced, fresh acidity and ample body lend to a long, evolving finish. —C.D. abv: 13.5% Price: $22

88

Early Mountain 2016 Five Forks (Virginia). This blend of Petit Manseng, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier is intense on the nose, offering heady notes of pear drop, geranium and savory herbs. The palate boasts mango, pear, citrus rind and a bouquet of wildflowers. The acidity dances in your mouth and gives it a long finish that is tangy, zippy and lasting with fruit. —C.D. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

88

Stinson 2015 Wildkat Rkatsiteli (Monticello). This orange wine made from the Georgian grape Rkatsiteli starts off on nutty aromas, with a fresh scent of marmalade and yellow peach. On the palate, it feels creamy alongside a tannic impression from skin contact. Flavors of tangerine and almond unfold on the palate and are enjoyed throughout the long, dry finish. —C.D. abv: 10.5% Price: $28

87

Barboursville Vineyards 2015 Reserve Vermentino (Virginia). Somehow, winemaker Luca Paschina manages to make a Vermentino that will make you feel like you are sitting at a café in Liguria. Lush aromatics of pear drop and canteloupe lead into flavors of lemon, green pear, snap pea, but-

230 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

extracted, so the full tannic structure does not seem out of place. —C.D. abv: 13% Price: $34

88

Barboursville Vineyards 2014 Reserve Cabernet Franc (Virginia). Typical of the variety, this shows upfront aromas of fresh green pepper, eucalyptus, black pepper and blackberry. These notes are amplified on the palate, with cedar and earthiness adding dimension. The tannins are not shy, but are well-integrated and the acidity is zippy and playful, which lends to a long, enticing finish. —C.D. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

Gray Ghost 2015 Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon (Virginia). This wine has upfront aromas of black cherries, dried herbs and baking spices. On the palate the spices take over, showing charred oak, bramble and vanilla. A full body and drying tannins crave an acidic lift. The finish is long and spicy. —C.D. abv: 13.4% Price: $28 Gray Ghost 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Virginia). For full review see page 181. abv: 13.5% Price: $50

RED BLENDS Stinson 2014 Meritage (Monticello). The nose of this wine is bursting with raspberry, cranberry jam, violets and geranium. These notes carry to the palate, effortlessly melding together with a faint hint of tar. Soft cedar and nutmeg from 18 months in French oak offer compexity and a full structure. A smooth texture and well-integrated tannins make for a long and complex finish. —C.D. abv: 13.5% Price: $32

88

Gray Ghost 2015 Ranger Reserve (Virginia). For full review see page 181. abv: 13.5% Price: $30

87

Veramar 2016 JB Ameritage (Virginia). Intense aromas of cran-grape juice, violets, lavender and cinnamon dominate the nose. The flavors are tart and floral, while the texture is smooth and easy with a fresh acidity. This finishes long and bright on a touch of sour cherry. —C.D. abv: 12.5% Price: $35

86

Veramar 2016 JB Winemaker Series Cabernet Franc (Shenandoah Valley). This Cabernet Franc has pronounced aromas of red and black cherries, violets, lavender, licorice and juniper berries. Tart berries and toasty oak show on the palate, yet mild tannins offer little structure. The finish is long and tart. —C.D. abv: 12.6% Price: $34

85

Veramar 2016 Cabernet Franc (Virginia). Red currant, red plum, licorice and dried herbs are pronounced on the nose. The palate is tart and slightly medicinal in character, with charred oak and spice coming through as well. —C.D. abv: 12.6% Price: $27

CABERNET SAUVIGNON

87

Casanel 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Middleburg). Lush black plum, bramble and black pepper mingle with cedar and spicy oak notes in this wine. These extend to the palate, where licorice and dried herbs linger. This wine is deep and

OTHER RED WINES

90

Lovingston 2015 Josie’s Knoll Rotunda Red (Monticello). This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Pinotage is complex yet restrained from start to finish. Aromas of red cherry, cranberry and grape fold into vanilla, smoke, fig presserves and a sanguine character. On the palate, these are met with a smooth tannic structure and a rooibos tea note. It is lush and silky in mouthfeel and boasts a long, harmonious finish. Editors’ Choice. —C.D. abv: 13.5% Price: $20

89

Lovingston 2014 Gilbert’s Vineyard Pinotage (Monticello). This wine shows a lovely bouquet of red cherries, purple flowers, rooibos tea and smoky mushrooms. These carry over to the palate and meld with an herbacious bounty of dried thyme and rosemary. Bright acidity and smooth tannins result in a gorgeously long and complex finish. —C.D. abv: 13.4% Price: $25


87

Horton 2014 Pinotage (Virginia). A delicate nose of red plum, cherry, smoke and spice lead into a similar palate that is met with black olive and fig. The oak spice is prevalent, so the fruit is pushed to the background. Pair with barbeque. —C.D. abv: 13% Price: $20

87

The Williamsburg Winery 2015 Limited Release Malbec (Virginia). This smells ripe and bright, with grapy and chocolate praline aromas which lead to a palate that is immersed in oak spices and nutmeg. This is a nicley balanced wine with smooth tannins and a long, spicy finish. —C.D. abv: 12% Price: $42

86

Bogati 2016 B Malbec (Virginia). This wine opens with a perfumed nose of lavender and geranium. Wafts of blueberry, raspberry and red plum abound and carry through to the palate, which is also quite floral. Nicely balanced, easy to enjoy, the finish is smooth and flavorful but doesn’t last long. —C.D. abv: 12.2% Price: $28

85

Casanel 2014 Estate Carmenère (Middleburg). An initial cranberry note is subdued by vanilla and clove aromas. Spice is dominant on the palate, interspersed with anise and leafiness. Full bodied and big on flavor, this would be a good steak accompaniment. —C.D. abv: 12.5% Price: $36

perfumes. This is a food style of wine, ready to drink from 2018. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $24

rich and full bodied, the wine is ready to drink. MS Walker. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $23

90

88

90

88

Encostas de Estremoz 2016 Esperança Reserva (Alentejano). A satisfying marriage between Chardonnay and Arinto has produced a rich wood-aged wine. With its spice, creamy texture and plentiful acidity, the wine is full and rich from lees aging in the barrel. This is a young wine, dry and crisp and worth aging. Drink from late 2018. Wine Bridge Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $20 Luis Duarte 2016 Monte do Carrapatelo Colheita Seleccionada (Alentejano). This superrich blend of Antão Vaz, Arinto and Roupeiro was tank fermented to keep the crispness and fruit of the blend. It is certainly rich but it has fine acidity as well—juicy and full of apple flavors. Drink the wine from 2018. Specialty Cellars. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $18

89

Dona Maria-Júlio Bastos 2014 Amantis Reserva Viognier (Alentejano). The wine is soft, rich, and full of generous yellow fruits that are layered with wood. It is spicy and ripe, with acidity to match the generous opulent fruits. Delicious,

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2016 Quinta do Carmo (Alentejano). The estate around the former royal palace of Carmo is in the heart of Alentejo. Its white wine is a easygoing blend of Roupeiro, Antão Vaz and Arinto, giving ripeness, yellow and white-fruit flavors and a vibrant bright aftertaste. Drink now. Tri-Vin Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $9

Herdade das Servas 2016 Colheita Seleccionada (Alentejano). This is a superripe wine, full of generous white and yellow stone fruits. It is soft while also dense with smooth fruits, touched by pepper and nutmeg and given richness from lees aging. Drink the wine now. Wine Resources. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $20

88

Herdade Grande 2016 Colheita Seleccionada (Alentejano). This superrich wine is full of intense yellow fruit and passion-fruit flavors. The fruit is underlined with wood aging, with toast and spice. The aftertaste, smooth and creamy, shows the wine is ready to drink. M Imports, LLC. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $30

PORTUGAL WHITE WINES ALENTEJANO

92

Herdade do Esporão 2013 Canto do Zé Cruz Aragonês (Alentejano). For full review see page 171. abv: 14% Price: $39

91

Herdade do Esporão 2015 Private Selection Branco (Alentejano). For full review see page

174. abv: 14%

Price: $28

91

Herdade Grande 2015 Reserva Branco (Alentejano). A short stay (just eight months) in wood has produced a fine, rich and ripe wine. With its toast and butter flavors, touch of honey and opulent character, the wine is rounded and complex. Acidity plays just the right part to make the wine complete. Drink from 2018. M Imports, LLC. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $35

90

Cortes de Cima 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Alentejano). This ripe tropical-fruit style of Sauvignon Blanc is delicious. Its crisp side with some citrus is balanced by the apricot and ripe mango flavors that give the wine richness and fine

WINEMAG.COM | 231


BUYINGGUIDE

88

Monte da Ravasqueira 2016 Alentejano. This is a delicious, ripe wine inspired by its Sémillon and Viognier. The lemon and grapefruit acidity is contrasted with the rich white stone fruits and warmth of this region. Drink from 2018. LGL Imports LLC. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $13

85

87

85

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2016 Alabastro Roupeiro-Fernão Pires-Antão Vaz (Alentejano). This crisp, citrus and pear-flavored wine from native Portuguese grapes is very ready to drink with its bright acidity, mineral texture and juicy aftertaste. It is a fine apéritif wine that’s fruity and fresh. Tri-Vin Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $12

87

Encostas de Estremoz 2016 DJ Escolha da Enóloga (Alentejano). This is the white version of the winemaker’s red-white DJ selection. The wine is a blend of four grapes giving a soft rich taste. It has just enough acidity to bring a crisp contrast. Otherwise it is warm, full of apricot as well as citrus fruits. Drink now. Wine Bridge Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $13

86

Encostas de Estremoz 2016 DJ Branco (Alentejano). A fruity blend of four local Alentejo grapes, this wine is soft and smoothly rich with fine acidity and a mix of yellow fruit and apple flavors. It has plenty of crisp acidity to bring out a lively aftertaste. Drink now. Wine Bridge Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $10

86

Herdade das Servas 2016 Alvarinho (Alentejano). Away from its native vineyard in the north of Portugal, the Alvarinho becomes extra rich and ripe in the hot center. That’s the case here with a soft wine that has apple and pear flavors. It is light on the acidity, always fruity and easy to drink with food. Drink now. Wine Resources. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

86

Santos & Seixo 2016 Rotas de Portugal Branco (Alentejano). This rich wine is full and fruity. It has generous ripe apple and pear flavors, with a creamy texture that’s full in the mouth. The acidity and the creaminess work well together in a wine that is great for an apéritif. Multiple U.S. importers. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $9

85

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2016 Dom Martinho by Quinta do Carmo (Alentejano). The vineyard is named for a 16th century archbishop whose jurisdiction in the Age of Discovery covered all lands discovered and to be discovered. This wine is soft with pear and peach fruit and light acidity. It is balanced and warm, its creamy texture giving an attractive roundness and smoothness. The wine is ready to drink. Tri-Vin Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $10

232 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Cortes de Cima 2016 Chaminé Branco (Alentejano). This fruity wine has crisp acidity and lemon flavors. It is tangy, zesty and lightly perfumed from the Verdelho in the blend. The Sauvignon Blanc adds its own tropical fruit note. Drink the wine now. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $13

Dona Maria-Júlio Bastos 2016 Alentejano. The wine is soft, creamy and ripe. It has white fruits and just enough acidity. With its lightly perfumed character, apricot and green fruits in balance, it is ready to drink. MS Walker. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $15

85

Global Wines 2016 Monte da Cal Colheita Seleccionada Branco (Alentejano). Produced from an estate on the border with Spain, this rich blend of Viognier and Alvarinho with Arinto and Antão Vaz is generous and full bodied. Yellow fruits, a rich texture and a touch of spice give the wine its warm character. Drink from 2018. Best Beverage Corporation. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $9

PENÍNSULA DE SETÚBAL

90

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2016 Quinta da Bacalhôa Branco (Península de Setúbal). As a partner to the red wine from this estate, with its Bordeaux blend, this wine brings together the Bordeaux white grapes of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. The addition of Alvarinho rather spoils the Bordeaux moment, although for the wine it it’s a plus, adding crisp taste and brightness to this rich woodaged blend. Drink this tropical, fruity and pear-flavored wine from 2018. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $28

89

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2016 Catarina (Península de Setúbal). With 35% Chardonnay in the blend and some wood aging, this is a ripe wine with its rich soft texture brightened by a cut of acidity. It is beautifully balanced, with great yellow and citrus fruit. Drink the wine from 2018. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $18

88

Herdade da Comporta 2016 Parus Branco (Península de Setúbal). With its great acidity and delicious citrus and peach flavors, this is a ripe wine. Its texture gives a touch of minerality and a swathe of rich fruitiness that is both delicious now and will age. Drink now, but the wine will be better from 2018. Value Vines LLC. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $27

87

Herdade da Comporta 2016 Private Selection Península de Setúbal). This is a delicious, fruity wine, a blend of Arinto and Viognier. The Viognier does bring its trademark apricot flavor and creamy texture while the Arinto adds the bright

acidity, citrus and crisp apples. The wine is ready to drink. Value Vines LLC. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $23

85

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2016 JP Azeitão Moscatel Graudo-Fernão Pires (Península de Setúbal). The perfume of the Moscatel in this wine lingers satisfactorily, adding an exotic feel to what is otherwise a bright fruity wine. It is delicious to drink now as an apéritif. Tri-Vin Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $9

85

Wines & Winemakers 2016 Monte de Baía Sauvignon Blanc (Península de Setúbal). Perfumed and lightly spicy, this is a Sauvignon Blanc that brings out the tropical fruit side of the grape. With its rich fruit and soft citrus, it is smooth and ready to drink. Wine Without Borders. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $15

LISBOA

92

Adega Mãe 2015 Dory Reserva (Lisboa). Perfumed floral and spice aromas give this wine its great character. It is a rich blend of Viosinho, Alvarinho and Chardonnay, ripe and full of spice, rounded apple and golden-plum flavors and cut with citrus acidity. This fine wine will be better from 2018. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $20

90

Quinta do Monte d’Oiro 2016 Lybra ViognierArinto-Marsanne (Lisboa). From organically grown grapes, this rich wine has a smooth texture and balanced acidity. The producer specializes in Rhône-style wines and this rich blend, that includes Viognier and Marsanne, has fine yellow fruits as well as ripe plum and citrus flavors. Drink from 2018. MundoVino–The Winebow Group. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $40

88

DFJ Vinhos 2016 Escada Reserva Arinto (Lisboa). Intense perfumes give this fine apéritif wine an exotic character. Its crisp texture balances this, showcasing fine lime and grapefruit flavors as well as a touch of lychee. The acidity at the end is lively and refreshing. Drink now. Luiz’s Grocery and Liquors. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $12

87

DFJ Vinhos 2016 Aluado Chardonnay (Lisboa). This soft and juicy wine brings out a tropical-fruit character in the Chardonnay. Mango flavors are prominent with a soft creamy addition of pears. Together with the acidity at the end, this is a satisfying, ripe wine. Drink now. Lionstone International. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $15

86

DFJ Vinhos 2016 Escada Arinto (Lisboa). Fresh, crisp Arinto gives a fine lemon and sliced apple character to this light soft wine. With its bright fruit, crisp acidity and tangy texture, it is


totally ready to drink. Luiz’s Grocery and Liquors. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 12% Price: $10

is light and lively, refreshing in its acidity and layer of citrus. It is ready to drink. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $20

TEJO

BAIRRADA

90

Quinta da Lagoalva de Cima 2016 Lagoalva Reserva (Tejo). A delicious blend of Arinto and Chardonnay, this wine has been delicately wood-aged, giving just a touch of toast and spice. It is a ripe wine, reflecting plenty of sunshine that is balanced with the citrus acidity. The wine could age a little longer, so drink from 2018. M Imports, LLC. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $20

90

Quinta do Casal Branco 2016 Faloaria Vinhas Velhas (Tejo). This rich, wood-aged wine is beautifully creamy as well as crisply fruity. It has a touch of spice and honey from the wood as well as fine acidity and citrus juiciness. It is a young wine, one that is ready to drink now but will be better as it rounds out from 2018. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $50

87

Quinta do Casal Branco 2016 Quartilho (Tejo). This warm, ripe wine is full of great, easy fruitiness. With lemon zest and fine acidity, the wine is refreshing and lively. This is a great apéritif style, poised between really crisp and soft. Novovino Wine Company. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $15

92

Aveleda 2015 Reserva da Familia Branco (Bairrada). This producer, firmly established in Vinho Verde and the Douro, also has vineyards at Quinta da Aguieira in the central coastal region of Bairrada. A blend of local white grapes along with some Chardonnay, this wine is ripe, with a touch of saltiness and minerality, plus plenty of concentration from old vines. With its rich texture and crisp aftertaste, this is ready to drink. Aveleda Inc. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: 12% Price: $20

88

Global Wines 2016 Q do E Encontro Bical (Bairrada). Bical, the local white of Bairrada on the central coast of Portugal, is used to make sparkling wines. Here in this still wine, it shows its crisp nature and fine acidity. It is light and fruity, with a perfumed citrus character. Drink now. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $8

86

Caves Aliança 2016 Aliança Reserva Maria Gomes-Bical (Bairrada). The two white grapes of the coastal Bairrada region in central Portugal are blended to give a ripe, crisp and creamy wine. Fragrant Maria Gomes is known as Fernão Pires in other parts of Portugal. Its acidity fits perfectly into this smooth textured wine that is ready to drink. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $25

DÃO

91

Quinta do Perdigão 2015 Encruzado (Dão). This is a wood-aged wine that’s smooth with rounded and great fruit flavors. The wood is subtle, a hint of spice and no more, allowing the ripe apricot and citrus flavors to show strongly. It is a very fine wine, ready to drink now. NLC Wines. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $22

91

Quinta do Sobral 2014 Vinha da Neta (Dão). Taste the Dão as the Burgundy of Portugal. This sophisticated white wine is ripe with strong wood and tropical fruit perfumes. With 60% Encruzado in the blend it is rich, creamy and generous with its acidity and white stone fruit. This food-

86

Wines & Winemakers 2016 Companhia das Lezirias Herdade de Catapereiro (Tejo). A crisp blend of Fernão Pires, Arinto and some herbal Sauvignon Blanc, this light and fruity wine is tangy, zingy and packed with lemon and ripe pear flavors. Its acidity shines through to produce a wine that is bright and ready to drink. Iberia Wine & Spirits LLC. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $12

85

Quinta da Lagoalva de Cima 2016 Lagoalva Vinho Branco (Tejo). A crisp blend of six grapes, the wine is fruity with lemon, grapefruit backed by intense acidity. It has a light tang of texture and a crisp bright character that makes a wine that is ready to drink now. M Imports, LLC. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $15

85

Quinta da Ribeirinha 2016 Vale de Lobos (Tejo). The wine is rounded and fat with an oily texture. Its ripe apple and rich pear flavors only allow a small place for the acidity and crisp texture. It comes across as full bodied, rich and easy to drink now. JK Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $17

85

Quinta do Casal Branco 2016 Fernão Pires (Tejo). There is a delicious tangy character to this crisp green wine that’s packed with fruit. It

WINEMAG.COM | 233


BUYINGGUIDE friendly wine is balanced and certainly deliciously ready to drink. Sarmento’s Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $24

DOURO

plexity. This is a rich wine, with a tangy aftertaste, that is ready to drink. JMV USA. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $12

90

92

88

90

91

88

89

91

88

88

90

88

88

89

88

89

88

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2016 Quinta da Garrida Encruzado (Dão). One of Portugal’s greatest white grapes is showcased in rich glory here. It has floral aromas, tropical fruits and melon flavors and a generous rich aftertaste that is balanced by tense acidity. There are touches of vanilla and almonds to add complexity. The wine is ready to drink. Tri-Vin Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $15 Vinha Paz 2015 Reserva (Dão). This finely wood-aged wine is rich and packed with ripe toast and generous fruit flavors. Its balanced combination of intense acidity, tangy citrus and apple flavors are supported by the spice from the wood aging. It is a generous wine, still young and best from 2016. Specialty Cellars. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $28

Caminhos Cruzados 2015 Titular Encruzado (Dão). This is a wood-aged wine that brings out the wonderful ripe flavors of the Encruzado. Apricot and ripe Bartlett pears are dominant, backed by some toastiness and with great acidity. This is a finely textured rich wine that is ready to drink. AWDirect (The Wine Trees Portfolio). —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $22 Boas Quintas 2016 Fonte do Ouro Encruzado (Dão). A short wood-aging has given this rich wine a creamy smooth character. That balances with the ripe yellow and tropical fruits that are cut with acidity. It is still a young wine and will certainly be better from 2018. MS Walker. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $19

Vinha Paz 2016 Dão. A spicy, perfumed blend of Encruzado with Malvasia and Gouveio, the wine comes from 35-year-old vines, simply fermented in stainless steel. It is ripe, packed with fruit and delicious to drink. Specialty Cellars. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $18

87

Global Wines 2016 Casa de Santar Branco (Dão). This delicious ripe wine is made with a high proportion (40%) of Encruzado and it is this grape that gives the wine its richness. It also adds to the smooth texture while the fine perfumed character comes from Cerceal. This is a refreshing wine that is ready to drink. Tri-Vin Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $10

87

Quinta do Sobral 2016 Santar Encruzado (Dão). Made with rich Encruzado, full of apricot and creamed pear flavors, this is a full-bodied wine. Its smooth texture is matched by a lift of acidity and an orange-zest flavor. The wine is going to be ready to drink from 2018. Sarmento’s Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $13

234 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Quinta do Pôpa 2015 Pôpa Black Edition Branco (Douro). This field blend of old white-grape vines—a rarity in the Douro—is rich in the bottle from a mélange of stainless steel, wood fermentation and barrel aging. It is smooth with concentration from the toast flavors and floral complexity. Its ripe character and generous texture make it a wine to drink now. NLC Wines. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $23 Conceito Vinhos 2016 Conceito Branco (Douro). This spicy wood-aged wine has nutmeg and ripe fruit flavors. Its perfumed fruits bring in apple, green plum and great acidity that is balanced by the judicious wood aging. This is a rich wine, full of intense acidity and fruitiness that needs to age further. Drink from late 2018. T. Elenteny Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $45

Secret Spot Wines 2015 Lacrau Moscatel Galego Branco (Douro). This is an intensely floral wine, perfumed with lychee aromas. It comes from the plateau to the north of the Douro Valley proper, home to this grape variety. The wine is rich, very perfumed with lychee and hints of the toast used in aging. The acidity keeps it crisp and ready to drink from 2018. Vintage Wine Marketing. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

Wines & Winemakers 2014 Andreza Grande Reserva (Douro). This wood-aged wine is now mature. Along with spice and toast, it also has an oxidative character that gives softness and warmth. Its rich flavors are full bodied, bringing out citrus and intense acidity. The wine is ready to drink. Amara Wines & Spirits. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $28 Rui Roboredo Madeira 2015 Vinha da Urze Reserva Branco (Douro). Citrus fruitiness and mineral acidity that mark Douro character is balanced by a hint of toast from 50% of the wine being aged in oak. Drink this tight nervy wine from 2018. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $19

Wines & Winemakers 2016 Aguia Moura em Vinhas Velhas Reserva (Douro). This crisp, clean and ripe wine is finely balanced. The toastiness from wood aging in new barrels is balanced with the rich citrus and sliced apple and a tight, mineral character. This is a full-bodied wine needing a few more months to age. Drink from 2018. Iberia Wine & Spirits LLC. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $18

88

Borges 2015 Reserva (Douro). Ripe, rich and creamy, this is a dense wine from the lees aging. Spice and a touch of toast come from the wood aging that smooths the wine and gives it extra com-

Conceito Vinhos 2016 Contraste Branco (Douro). This is a fruity wine, crisp with citrus acidity and bright with light minerality and zest. It is a refreshing wine with an attractive sliced apple and melon aftertaste. Drink this lively wine now. T. Elenteny Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $19 Poças 2016 Coroa d’Ouro Branco (Douro). This is a ripe yellow fruit and mangoflavored wine. It is all fruit, rich and deliciously refreshing. The 10% of Moscatel in the blend has had an enormous effect on the perfumed character of the wine. At the end, the acidity keeps it fruity and crisp. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $18

Quinta de Porrais 2016 Sete Vales Branco (Douro). Grown in high-elevation vineyards at 1,800 feet, this crisp white is a blend of five of the familiar Douro varieties, emphasizing brightness as well as soft fruitiness. Its acidity and white stonefruit flavors are already well integrated, giving a balanced, lightly mineral wine. Drink from 2018. Multiple U.S. importers. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $12 Quinta do Pôpa 2016 Pôpa Branco (Douro). Partly a blend of old vines in a field blend, this fruity wine with its tropical aromas and pink grapefruit and pineapple flavors is crisp and taut with a mineral texture. It is intense, the fruitiness given a firm shape by the tangy acidity. Drink now. NLC Wines. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $18

Quinta do Vallado 2016 Vallado Branco (Douro). An all-embracing blend of many of the white Douro varieties, this is all about fruit. From the crisp citrus flavors to the softer melon and pear, the wine is delicious to drink at this young exuberant stage. It could also keep a few months when the acidity will have calmed down a little. Quintessential Wines. —R.V. abv: 12% Price: $23 Secret Spot Wines 2015 Crooked Vines Vinho Branco (Douro). With 15 months of wood aging enhancing the natural richness of old vines, this impressive wine is both spicy and packed with fruit. It is young, still with its bright baby fruit and with acidity that needs to soften. The wine, with its pepper toast flavors as well as its rich apple and citrus fruits, will be best from 2018. Vintage Wine Marketing. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $25

87

Quinta do Pôpa 2016 Contos da Terra (Douro). The entry-level white wine from this young Douro estate is ripe, juicy with tropical fruits and a lightly oxidative character that gives it extra rich-


ness. The wine has plenty of acidity as well as citrus crispness. It finishes with a creamy texture. Drink now. NLC Wines. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 12% Price: $12

87

Quinta do Vallado 2016 Vallado Prima Branco (Douro). This dry Moscatel has intense floral perfumes along with equally intense acidity. It is a combination that works because of the flavors of spice and lychee that give the wine richness as well. It is crisp at the end, always fragrant and ready to drink. Quintessential Wines. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $24

zest tang that is both refreshing and gives a tight texture. Drink now. Amphorium LLC. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $18

89

Aveleda 2016 Alvarinho (Vinho Verde). This is a ripe, creamy wine—a fine example of the richness Alvarinho can attain. It has fine fruitiness, citrus, ripe apple and pear flavors balanced by a mineral texture and acidity. Drink this fine wine from 2018. Aveleda Inc. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 12% Price: $14

89

Adega Vila Real 2016 Premium (Douro). This ripe wine is full of apple and pear fruit with a touch of citrus. It is full, the acidity just pointing up the richness. There are almond flavors as well as spice from the wood aging. Drink from 2018. Iberian Wine Importers. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $13

Wines & Winemakers 2016 Nostalgia (Vinho Verde). From the northern part of Vinho Verde, this wine is produced from old vines that have been trained on traditional high trellises. It is full of citrus, ripe lemon and lime along with a crisp mineral texture. Its acidity is both tense and refreshing, allowing the wine a chance to age. Drink from 2018. Iberia Wine & Spirits LLC. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $23

85

87

86

Adega Vila Real 2015 Grande Reserva (Douro). Toast, spice and juicy citrus flavors blend together in this crisp wine. Its acidity is prominent, giving plenty of freshness to a wine that is also tangy. With the toastiness now well integrated, the wine is ready to drink. Iberian Wine Importers. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

87

VINHO VERDE

91

J. Portugal Ramos 2015 Reserva Alvarinho (Vinho Verde). A barrel-aged Alvarinho, but one that is so delicately toasty that the fruit is what this ripe generous wine is all about. It is rich with citrus and pear flavors, zesty and tangy while also having room for a round ripe aftertaste. This is an impressive wine, ready to drink now. MundoVino– The Winebow Group. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $25

91

Santos & Seixo 2016 Santos da Casa Reserva Alvarinho (Vinho Verde). This 100% Alvarinho comes from the grape’s heartland in the north of the Vinho Verde region. It is crisp while also having concentrated green and citrus fruits, a rich mineral texture and layers of beautifully refreshing acidity. Drink this wine from 2018. Multiple U.S. importers. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $15

90

Aveleda 2016 Quinta da Aveleda (Vinho Verde). For full review see page 182. Best

Buy. abv: 11%

Price: $10

90

Aveleda 2016 Vinho Verde. With a slight prickle on the tongue, this off-dry wine is crisp, fruity, packed with citrus and with fine acidity. It is zesty, tangy and a pleasure to drink with its bright flavors and texture. Drink now. Aveleda Inc. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 9.5% Price: $9

Quinta de Paços 2015 Casa de Capitão-mor Reserva Alvarinho (Vinho Verde). With its green-fruit aromas and ripe citrus flavors, this is a wine that moves generously from cool and crisp to rich and full. Its citrus is balanced by white peach and green-plum flavors. The finish adds an orange-

Wines & Winemakers 2016 Toucas (Vinho Verde). This is an off-dry, crisp and fruity wine with lively acidity and an attractive prickle on the tongue. It’s a bright wine, as light and bright as possible with citrus flavors bursting from the glass. Drink now. C & P Wines, LLC. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 9.5% Price: $12

86

Quinta de Paços 2016 Loureiro-Arinto (Vinho Verde). This blend is dominated by one of the two grapes of Vinho Verde: the Loureiro. That gives both a crisp texture and ripe apple and greenplum fruits. It is a ripe wine, juicy and ready to drink now. Amphorium LLC. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $10

85

Borges NV Gatão (Vinho Verde). One of the most familiar Vinho Verde brands in Portugal, this wine is medium sweet with a light prickle on the tongue. It is fruity with creamed apple and citrus along with a touch of honey. The wine is crisp and clean, delicious to drink as an apéritif. JMV USA. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 9% Price: $6

85

Santos & Seixo NV Rotas de Portugal Branco (Vinho Verde). Lightly fizzy, this young fruity wine is an easygoing Vinho Verde. It is just off dry, giving a soft character to the lively fruit, citrus and floral wine. It is ready to drink. Multiple U.S. importers. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 10.5% Price: $9

WINEMAG.COM | 235


BUYINGGUIDE PORTUGAL RED WINES

Its gentle tannins and red-fruit flavors are open, lifted by some tannins and ready to drink from 2018. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $16

ALENTEJO

97

Mouchão 2012 Alentejo. The estate wine from Mouchão is always a great wine. This latest release, almost black in color and five-yearsold, is hugely rich, powered by black fruits and juicy acidity. Made principally from Alicante Bouschet, it shows the power and the aging potential of this variety in the Alentejo. This wine, foot-trodden in open stone lagars, is destined for much longer aging. Drink at the earliest in 2021. Wine In-Motion. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $75

93

J. Portugal Ramos 2014 Marquês de Borba Reserva (Alentejo). The Reserva version of the popular Borba brand in Portugal is a dense, powerfully tannic wine. Its juicy black currant and blackberry fruits are suffused with tannins—its dry core surrounded by richness. Hints of dark chocolate and pepper come from the alcohol but certainly don’t take away from the great fruitiness of the wine. Drink from 2019. MundoVino–The Winebow Group. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $75

93

Mouchão 2015 Ponte das Canas (Alentejo). This is the second wine of Mouchão estate, a power in its own right. It is beautifully perfumed with violets and spice while its tannins and dark chocolate flavors are well integrated with the generous black fruits and acidity. The wine, even at fouryears-old, is still young and will need much further aging. Drink from 2020. Wine In-Motion. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $40

90

Mouchão 2014 Dom Rafael (Alentejo). Produced at the iconic Mouchão estate, this wine comes from old vines of Aragonez, Trincadeira and Alicante Bouschet. It has all the richness that comes from fermentation in open stone lagars, giving density and juicy black fruits. Wood aged, the wine is spicy, jammy and fruity; ready to drink now. Wine In-Motion. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $20

88

J. Portugal Ramos 2016 Marquês de Borba (Alentejo). This is an easy wine to like. It does have some firm tannins from oak aging that the Portuguese like, but it also has ripe fruit, plenty of black-plum skins and bright ripe acidity. Together, this combination is full bodied and will benefit from a few more months of aging. Drink from late 2018. MundoVino–The Winebow Group. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $15

87

Herdade do Esporão 2016 T Trincadeira (Alentejo). Made from one of the most widely planted varieties in Portugal (known as Tinta Amarela in the Douro), this is a soft wine with attractively juicy fruit that is made to drink young.

236 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

ALENTEJANO

94

Herdade das Servas 2014 Vinhas Velhas (Alentejano). The Serrano Mira family has been producing wine at this estate since 1667. The old-vines blend of four grapes (including Petit Verdot) is a rich testament to this legacy—a powerful wine that is impressively full, concentrated and dark. Despite its high alcohol, it is stylish, balancing swathes of ripe fruit with acidity and poised tannins. Drink this impressive wine from 2019. Wine Resources. —R.V. abv: 15.5% Price: $60

94

José Maria da Fonseca 2015 José de Sousa (Alentejano). For full review see page 166. abv: 14% Price: $20

94

Monte da Ravasqueira 2014 Vinha das Romãs (Alentejano). This single-vineyard wine is richly structured and seriously impressive, coming from a parcel planted with Syrah and Touriga Franca. Wood aging for 20 months has given the wine both spice and concentration. With the acidity and the firm tannins at the end, the wine will be ready to drink from 2019. LGL Imports LLC. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

93

Herdade do Esporão 2013 Vinhas das Palmeiras (Alentejano). This is one of a series of limited-production single-variety wines from this large Alentejo estate. Ripe spice and bold juicy flavors, both the hallmark of Alicante Bouschet, give this wine its richness and concentration. It is generous, opulent and just ready to drink. Aidil Wines/ Old World Import. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $39

92

Cortes de Cima 2012 Reserva (Alentejano). Produced from selected parcels of fruit in top vintages, this is the flagship wine from this Jorgensen family estate. Aragonez and Syrah dominate this ripe still-young wine. It is rich and concentrated with powerful tannins and layers of acidity, dark chocolate flavors and generous black-plum flavors. It will certainly age further and this fine wine will be best drunk from 2019. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $110

92

J. Portugal Ramos 2015 Quinta da Viçosa TM (Alentejano). A single-vineyard blend of Touriga Nacional and Merlot, this is a supremely dense wine. It is dark, almost black in color, concentrated both from rich tannins and wood aging. Its dark color is replicated in the dense dark character of the wine and its powerful fruits. Age this wine, don’t drink before 2020. MundoVino–The Winebow Group. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $40

92

Perescuma 2014 Perescuma Reserva No. 1 (Alentejano). Picked from selection of grapes from the estate’s best parcels, this is a perfumed, dense and rich blend of Syrah, Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon. Its concentrated black fruits and rich tannins are impressive. It has style, too, as well as great ripe fruits and power. Drink this fine wine from 2019. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $50

91

Dona Maria-Júlio Bastos 2013 Amantis Reserva (Alentejano). Named in remembrance of the lost love of Portuguese king João V, this concentrated and rich wine is impressive. Its firm tannins are surrounded by the richest black fruits. They, in turn, are balanced with acidity and with a dry core that will allow the wine to age further. Drink from 2019. MS Walker. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $25

91

Encostas de Estremoz 2014 Quinta da Esperança Reserva (Alentejano). This is a rich, powerful wine. It is dense, with dusty tannins and great swathes of ripe black fruits. The acidity, crisp and generous at the same time, is well integrated with the fruit. Its solid, firm texture promises aging. Drink this serious, concentrated wine from 2019. Wine Bridge Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $20

91

Encostas de Estremoz 2013 Dona Joana Grande Escolha (Alentejano). This small-production wine is a selection of the best grapes from the harvest. Aged in wood for 12 months, the wine has great richness and a densely smooth texture. It is big, generous with black fruits and concentration. There is a typically Portuguese juicy acidity that gives this wine a great aftertaste. Drink from 2018. Wine Bridge Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $33

90

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2014 Alabastro Reserva by Quinta de Terrugem (Alentejano). The reserve version of this wine is rich and woodaged solid with tannins as well as black fruits. The 20% of Alicante Bouschet in the blend brings color and a strongly textured character. Still young, this should be kept until 2019. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $25

90

Encostas de Estremoz 2013 Enjeitado (Alentejano). This exuberant wine is rich in tannins and fruit. It has power and a direct in-yourface fruitiness. The structure is soft only because there is so much fruit. In fact, it has a firm core. Juicy blackberries and almost refreshing acidity balance this wine that is now ready to drink. Wine Bridge Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $19

90

Herdade das Servas 2014 Colheita Seleccionada (Alentejano). Produced in Estremoz by the Serrano Mira family, this rich wine is dense with dark tannins and a powerful structure. This concentration is surrounded by bold ripe berry


fruits and acidity that give the wine its richness aided by the wood aging. Drink this finely structured wine from late 2018. Wine Resources. —R.V. abv: 15% Price: $20

90

Monte da Ravasqueira 2016 Alentejano. The wine is tight, still young, with dry tannins and juicy acidity. Coming from a blend that is dominated by Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and Syrah, the wine is both perfumed and firmly structured. Its wood aging is just a hint. Drink this wine from 2019. LGL Imports LLC. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $13

to the concentrated black fruit. Drink now. Wine Resources. —R.V. abv: 15% Price: $22

88

Wines & Winemakers 2016 Capitão Rayeo (Alentejano). The wine has blackberry fruits that give attractive acidity and add to the light structure. It is fruity, juicy and ready to drink. Iberia Wine & Spirits LLC. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $10

88

Dona Maria-Júlio Bastos 2014 Alentejano. This smooth ripe wine is ready to drink. Its black fruits and soft tannins go well with the juicy flavors and fine acidity. Generous and with a warm, rich character. MS Walker. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $15

Wines & Winemakers 2015 Capitão Rayeo Reserva (Alentejano). Aged for six months in wood, this juicy wine with its red-berry fruits is stylish and full bodied. It has tannins that act as a support to the bold fruits and firm structure. That suggests the wine, although ready to drink now, will also age. Drink now or keep until 2018. Iberia Wine & Spirits LLC. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $14

89

Monte da Ravasqueira 2016 Superior (Alentejano). A generous blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and Syrah, this is firm with tannins and packed with ripe blackberry fruits. Six months in wood added a toasty character enhancing the complexity and depth of the wine. Drink from 2019. LGL Imports LLC. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

87

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2016 Monte das Amforas by Quinta do Carmo (Alentejano). Produced at Quinta do Carmo, this easy and ripe wine is totally ready to drink. With bright red-berry acidity and soft tannins, the blend of Aragonez and Trincadeira is all fruit, finished with acidity. Tri-Vin Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $9

88

87

89

Cortes de Cima 2013 Alentejano. This ripe spicy wine is full of black currant and berry fruits. It is rich with some serious tannins that point out the generous fruitiness. With its acidity and fruit, the wine, a blend of local grapes along with Touriga Nacional and Petit Verdot, is ready to drink. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $22

Encostas de Estremoz 2016 DJ Escolha da Enóloga (Alentejano). The wine comes from the hilltop town of Estremoz in Alentejo, where the streets are paved with local marble. It is an oak-aged wine with touches of spice as well as attractive juicy black-currant fruits. The wine is soft, developing quickly and likely to be drinkable from 2018. Wine Bridge Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $13

88

86

88

86

Dona Maria-Júlio Bastos 2013 Petit Verdot (Alentejano). The wine is rich, solidly tannic with a dry core. It has the dense color associated with this grape, more normally found in Bordeaux. There are juicy black elements and balanced acidity, with a dry core that makes for a firm wine. Drink now. MS Walker. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $22 Encostas de Estremoz 2016 Quinta da Esperança (Alentejano). This single-quinta wine comes from central Alentejo. Its generous tannins and ripe black fruits are typical of the warm growing conditions of the region. Packed with fruit which is balanced with acidity and a solid core, the wine will be ready to drink from 2018. Wine Bridge Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $13

88

Herdade das Servas 2015 Sem Barrica Unoaked (Alentejano). This is a spicy earthy wine with its high percentage of Alicante Bouschet giving rich tannins and a dark dense texture. The wine is packed with dense fruit and power, perhaps erring on the side of too much, with a pepper edge

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2016 Alabastro by Quinta de Terrugem (Alentejano). This young and fruity wine has soft tannins and the typical warm rich character of Alentejo. Its spice and juicy red flavors are all ready to drink, full of fruit and with a fine cut of acidity. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $12

Encostas de Estremoz 2016 DJ Tinto (Alentejano). This is a soft, warm and juicy wine. With ripe red-berry flavors and plenty of acidity and generous tannins, the wine is bold, fruity and ready to drink. Wine Bridge Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $10

86

Global Wines 2016 Monte da Cal Colheita Seleccionada (Alentejano). This soft ripe wine is smooth and velvet textured. Its black fruits and ripe tannins are well integrated with the acidity and juicy aftertaste. The blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Petit Verdot and Alicante Bouschet is eclectic but certainly works. Ready to drink now. Best Beverage Corporation. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $9

WINEMAG.COM | 237


BUYINGGUIDE

86

Herdade do Esporão 2016 Monte Velho (Alentejano). This simple, ripe and fruity wine is soft and juicy. Its red fruits, balanced acidity and blend of Trincadeira and Aragonâs are totally ready for instant drinking. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $12

86

Perescuma 2016 Terra Brava (Alentejano). This is a soft wine with open fruits and gentle tannins. A blend of local varieties along with Syrah, the wine is smoothly textured, generous and ready to drink. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

89

Herdade da Comporta 2014 Private Selection (Península de Setúbal). The wine is soft, smooth and full of rich berry fruits. The blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira and Alicante Bouschet gives a warm southern feel: ripe wine, sunshine and soft tannins. Wood aging has smoothed the bold fruits and created a full generous aftertaste. Drink now. Value Vines LLC. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $25

LISBOA

90

Santos & Seixo 2016 Rotas de Portugal (Alentejano). This attractive, spicy and fruity wine brings out the warmth of the Alentejo while also keeping crispness and black-currant acidity. It is smooth, rich and very ready to drink. Multiple U.S. importers. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $9

85

90

Casa Santos Lima 2015 Monte das Promessas (Alentejano). The wine is full of the warmth of the Alentejo sun. While it does have a crisp and juicy side, it is the richness and concentration that makes it attractive. Black fruits and toast from the oak aging are balanced and cut through with acidity. Drink now. Multiple U.S. importers. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $15

85

Cortes de Cima 2015 Chaminé Tinto (Alentejano). This is the entry-level red from this family-owned estate. It is soft and juicy with some attractive red-berry fruits. The tannins are really gentle just giving a structure to the warm fruits and acidity. Drink now. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $13

PENÍNSULA DE SETÚBAL

94

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2014 Quinta da Bacalhôa (Península de Setúbal). When it was planted with Bordeaux grapes in 1974, this vineyard was a first in Portugal. It continues to produce great wines, with this is the latest release. It is sophisticated and rich, while also finely structured. Its wood aging lifts the wine and adds spice and density. As with past vintages, this wine needs to age. Drink after 2020. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $38

92

Herdade da Comporta 2013 Parus (Península de Setúbal). The richness of Alicante Bouschet is very much in evidence in this concentrated wine. It has all the color, power and density associated with this variety. Perfumes come from a sprinkling of Touriga Nacional that gives a lift to the powerful wine. The wine still needs some time, so drink from 2019. Value Vines LLC. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $35

238 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

DFJ Vinhos 2015 Escada Reserva Touriga Nacional (Lisboa). For full review see page

177. abv: 13%

Adega Mãe 2014 Merlot (Lisboa). This spicy wine, with its strongly minty flavors and touch of pepper, is also rich with fine black fruits. It shows its wood aging strongly, contrasting with berry flavors and acidity. The wine is still young and will be better from 2019. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

88

Casa Santos Lima 2015 Entre Nós (Lisboa). A structured blend of a selection of Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is perfumed, ripe and firm. It has a dark core and rich, exuberant black fruits. With a few more months aging, this will develop further into a generous, smooth wine. Drink from late 2018. Multiple U.S. importers. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $25

86

88

Price: $18

Casa Santos Lima 2013 Palha Canas (Lisboa). Light wood aging over six months has given this wine a polished character. Along with the rich black-plum fruits and acidity, it is a full-bodied wine—a very Portuguese blend of five varieties. The tannins keep the wine in shape and add to its ripe structure. Drink now. Multiple U.S. importers. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $15

87

Casa Santos Lima 2016 Rabo de Galo (Lisboa). Unlike the Brazilian Rabo-de-galo (tail of the rooster) cocktail made with cachaça, this is a bold ripe wine that is full of black fruits and generous tannins in the glass. It has a core of dryness as well as bright ripe berry flavors and acidity. Rich and solid, it is ready to drink. Multiple U.S. importers. —R.V. abv: 3.5% Price: $131

89

87

89

86

Casa Santos Lima 2015 Corvos de Lisboa Reserva (Lisboa). Eight months in wood have given this already fruity rich wine an extra dimension of concentration. The result is a wine that is juicy, full of black-plums and balanced by acidity. The wine is named after the crows that are a symbol of the city of Lisbon. Multiple U.S. importers. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $18 Casa Santos Lima 2015 Stones & Bones (Lisboa). The name of this wine comes from the landscape of the vineyard with its ancient rocks and fossilized remains. It is soft, smooth and spicy, with bold, ripe flavors and a touch of vanilla from the wood aging. This is generous, full of fruit and ready to drink. Multiple U.S. importers. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $13

89

DFJ Vinhos 2016 Aluado Alicante Bouschet (Lisboa). Cool climate Alicante Bouschet from the Lisboa region has a strongly perfumed character as well as intense fruitiness. The structure, while offering firm tannins, is balanced with the acidity that gives a crisp aftertaste. It all makes for a firm wine with a chance to age. Drink from late 2018. Lionstone International. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $15

88

Adega Mãe 2015 Dory Tinto (Lisboa). A four-way blend creates ripe fruit and generous tannins in an easy smooth wine. Ripe berry fruits are balanced by the acidity with touches of wood and spice giving a complete wine that is ready to drink. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $12

Casa Santos Lima 2015 Great Bustard (Lisboa). The great bustard is a shy bird occasionally spotted in the Lisboa region. The wine is anything but shy, with its bold red fruits and generous tannins. It is rich, solid with its structure, dense texture and final spice and acidity. It’s ready to drink now. Multiple U.S. importers. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $12

Casa Santos Lima 2015 Tarambola (Lisboa). The oak aging is what makes this wine. It brings out the black fruits and juicy acidity as well as adding toast and vanilla flavors. The result is a wine that is smooth, balanced, full of fruit and ready to drink. Multiple U.S. importers. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $20

86

DFJ Vinhos 2016 Brigando (Lisboa). This wine is packed with flavor from the ripe blend of Shiraz, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. Its berry fruits and balanced acidity give the wine an easy, juicy character. The gentle tannins are easily integrated with the fruit. Drink now. Lionstone International. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $10

86

Quinta do Conde 2016 Canoa (Lisboa). The wine is spicy, fruity with soft tannins and plenty of ripe red berries. Its dry core gives it shape along with a firm anchor for the generous fruitiness. Drink now. Multiple U.S. importers. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $13

85

Quinta do Conde 2015 Quinta Vista (Lisboa). Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Casteão and Syrah—the four grapes in this blend are gently wood aged. That has smoothed out the already gen-


tle tannins, giving the wine a creamy ripe texture enhanced by red fruit flavors. Drink now. Multiple U.S. importers. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $12

TEJO

93

Rui Reguinga 2015 Tributo (Tejo). Both stylish and complex, this wine has great tannins and impressive fruits. An impeccable balance along with flavors from 12 months of wood aging is what gives this wine its cohesion and aging potential. This is a fine wine from the top vines of this producer. Drink from 2020. Wine In-Motion. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $40

88

Quinta do Casal Monteiro 2015 Reserva (Tejo). This ripe rich wood-aged blend of Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon is full of juicy berry fruits and plenty of acidity. The wine is full bodied, poised and ready to drink. Iberian Wine Importers. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $20

87

Quinta do Casal Branco 2015 Lobo e Falcão Reserva (Tejo). The wine is juicy with soft tannins. It has elevated acidity as well as delicious red-berry flavors, along with touches of wood aging. It could age for another few months and will be better in 2018. Lionstone International. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $25

86

90

Aveleda 2014 Follies Nossa Senhora da Vandoma Touriga Nacional-Cabernet Sauvignon (Bairrada). The Follies range of wines is named after monuments and shrines in the region of the Quinta da Aguieira. This wine, a rich blend of 70% Touriga Nacional with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon is dark, concentrated and ripe with black currant and berry fruits. Firmly tannic, it will benefit from a few more months aging, so drink from late 2018. Aveleda Inc. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $12

90

Caves Aliança 2015 Reserva (Bairrada). This wine comes from the home region of this producer, and features the local Baga grape. Once difficult to control, this grape can now produce richly structured wines, as it does here. This is packed with as much fruit as tannin—ripe fruit giving red-berry flavors that are bursting with juice as well as acidity. Drink this wine from 2018. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $25

88

Nelson Neves 2013 Neves Merlot (Bairrada). Nelson Neves has made a rich wine, recognizably Portuguese in its tannic structure while also having a jammy, juicy red-fruit character that comes from the Merlot. This ripe wine is ready to drink. Tri-Vin Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $13

DÃO

93

Julia Kemper Wines 2010 Reserva (Dão). This blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro and Jaen is a satisfying melting pot of complex flavors. Its tannins are solid, although now complementing the rich berry fruits. It is an impressive wine that could still age further before complete maturity. Drink from 2019. D’Ouro Vino Selections. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $32

93

Quinta do Sobral 2014 Vinha da Neta (Dão). In the increasingly important Dão region, Sobral’s top-of-the-range is an impressively rich dense wine. With its great tannins and generous black fruits, it is full of potential. Produced by winemaker Carlos Lucas from a selection of grapes as well as parcels, the wine is concentrated, dark and firm. The acidity gives it great life as well as a juicy character that emphasizes the ripe fruit. The wine is still young, drink from 2019. Sarmento’s Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $26

92

Boas Quintas 2015 Fonte do Ouro Reserva Especial Touriga Nacional (Dão). This is an impressive Touriga Nacional from its home region. Aged for 12 months in wood, it has mint and eucalyptus flavors to add to the dark tannic fruit. Blackberries and juicy acidity are combined with the core of tannins to deliver a powerful statement that needs some more time to mature. Drink from 2019. MS Walker. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $40

Quinta da Lagoalva de Cima 2015 Lagoalva Vinho Tinto (Tejo). This new range of wines from Lagoalva features typical Portuguese tiles (azulejos) on the label. Inside the bottle, this wine is fruity with soft tannins, spice and red-berry flavors. It has a juicy aftertaste that blends with the fruitiness. Drink now. M Imports, LLC. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

95

92

BAIRRADA

94

92

94

Aveleda 2011 Grande Follies Vinhas da Quinta da Aguieira (Bairrada). For full review see page 165. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14% Price: $30

92

Aveleda 2015 Follies Casa da Aguieira Touriga Nacional (Bairrada). For full review see page 181. Best Buy. abv: 13% Price: $14

91

Nelson Neves 2013 Reserva Merlot (Bairrada). This is a powerfully structured wine from one of the pioneers of Merlot in Bairrada. It is dark with tannins while also brimming with great blackfruit flavors. Rounded, balancing fruit and acidity, the wine is smooth, rich and now ready to drink. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $20

Vinha Paz 2014 Reserva (Dão). The vineyards of this producer in the heart of Dão, close to Viseu, the capital of the region. This generous wine with its powerful structure and rich texture from the fermentation in stone lagars, is shot through with ripe black plum and damson fruits as well as acidity. It should age further, so drink from 2019. Specialty Cellars. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $45 Quinta do Perdigão 2012 Dão. From architect José Perdgão’s small quinta—only 17 acres on typically high-altitude merciless soil—this classic Dão blend including Alfrocheiro and Jaen is ripe, still firmly tannic and mineral. It has weight and density, extra rich from the wood aging, and packed with solid tannins and balanced black fruits and acidity. The wine will be ready to drink from 2020. NLC Wines. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $30

94

Vinha Paz 2013 Reserva (Dão). This latest vintage of this always impressive wine has great concentration while also having so much style and elegance. Its ripe tannins and juicy black fruits are just a part of this beautifully balanced wine. Coming from the Dão region, it has that minerality that derives from the granite soil, giving structure. The wine is just ready to drink, although it will still mature further to be fully drinkable from 2019. Specialty Cellars. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $45

Julia Kemper Wines 2011 Touriga Nacional (Dão). Fermented in open granite lagars, this rich wine with its violet aromas is generous and has considerable power. It comes from a great vintage and shows that in its dark fruits and still-firm tannins. This is a serious wine, showing the grapes from the hard soils of the Dão at their best. Drink from 2019. D’Ouro Vino Selections. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $32

Quinta do Perdigão 2011 Alfrocheiro (Dão). This is an unusual limited-production wine from Perdigão’s highest hottest vineyard. It is not often to find a 100% Alfrocheiro despite being native to the Dão region. The strongly tannic wine, which spent 12 months in wood, is intensely perfumed with hedgerow flowers and mint while full of dark plumskin flavors. It has power and concentration and is likely to remain very firm into the future. Drink now or take a risk and cellar. NLC Wines. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $34

92

Quinta do Perdigão 2009 Dão. Piled high with tannins, José Perdigão’s dark, firm wine is structured and rich. A blend of 35% each of Tinta Roriz and Jaen, 20% Touriga Nacional and 10% Alfrocheiro enmeshed in new French barrels for 12 months, it shows black plum, dark chocolate and spice tones alongside bright acidity. It is still working its way through the dry core of tannins and

WINEMAG.COM | 239


BUYINGGUIDE will certainly be better to drink from 2019. NLC Wines. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $40

92

Quinta do Perdigão 2006 Reserva (Dão). In 1997, restoration architect José Perdigão used his skills to turn a 17-acre bench of unmerciful land above the Dão river near Viseu into a garden of organic native vines. The 2006 now reflects maturity. It is packed with secondary flavors, ripe acidity, and toast and mushrooms from a blend dominated by Touriga Nacional. It is, luckily, very ready to drink. NLC Wines. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $40

91

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2014 Quinta da Garrida Reserva (Dão). This is a blend dominated by 85% Touriga Nacional from a single vineyard near the Serra da Estrela mountain range. The relatively cool climate shows in the crisp red fruits and the strongly mineral texture. The wine has an obvious aptitude to age further with its tannins and acidity still prominent, so drink from late 2018. TriVin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $35

91

Caves Aliança 2014 Aliança Reserva (Dão). This fine wine has firm tannins and a solid feel from serious wood aging. The toast and spice flavors merge with the black fruits, the dark plums and the rich texture of this ripe wine. It is still young, needing further aging to soften those tannins. Drink from 2019. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

91

Quinta do Sobral 2014 Santar Reserva (Dão). This rich, spicy blend of Alfrocheiro, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Jaen from winemaker Carlos Lucas offers rich black-plum fruits with layers of wood flavors. It is generous, juicy with some firm tannins and plenty of toasty wood flavors. Everything needs some time to soften, so wait to drink until 2019. Sarmento’s Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $13

91

Vinha Paz 2015 Colheita (Dão). Structured with a strong mineral character, this is a full rich wine. Its density comes from the fermentation in stone lagars giving richness and opulence. The wood aging has added to the smoothness that is balanced by the intense acidity of the black currant fruits at the end. Drink from 2018. Specialty Cellars. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $18

91

Wines & Winemakers 2015 Insurgente (Dão). Rich, ripe and full of fruit, this blend of Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro is generous and structured. It has dark tannins and concentrated black fruits (rich with wood aging), spice and fine acidity. Drink this full-bodied wine from 2018. Iberia Wine & Spirits LLC. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $18

240 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

90

Caves Velhas 2012 Solo Reserva (Dão). This is a wood-aged wine, with a spicy character, that’s rich with both generous tannins and black fruits. It has a ripe fruity character with plenty of balancing acidity and a warm full-bodied aftertaste. The wine is ready to drink. Winesellers, Ltd. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $15

88

90

Opta 2014 Opta Reserva (Dão). This generous smooth wine is packed with ripe tannins and vibrant red fruits. There is the typical mineral texture of many Dão wines along with solid spice and dark chocolate flavors from wood aging. This is an impressive wine that deserves to age further, so drink from 2019. Elixir Wine Group. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $20

87

Caminhos Cruzados 2014 Titular Colheita (Dão). This is a soft style of Dão, focusing on fruit rather than structure. That gives ripe blackcherry flavors, acidity and a warm open texture. Made from a blend of all the local red grapes, it is rich and ready to drink. AWDirect (The Wine Trees Portfolio). —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $14

89

86

Boas Quintas 2015 Fonte do Ouro Reserva (Dão). This opulent blend of all four Dão grapes (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro and Jaen) is structured, full of tannins and sports a dry core. Its black fruits are in balance with this bold structure, giving a wine that is solid and concentrated, and still needing some aging. Drink from late 2018. MS Walker. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $19

88

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2014 Quinta da Garrida (Dão). Gentle wood aging has given this single-vineyard wine its smooth texture. At three-years-old, it is ripe, balanced and rounded. The juicy red fruits are already delicious, juicy and full of bright flavors. It is ready to drink. Tri-Vin Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $12

88

Boas Quintas 2016 Fonte do Ouro (Dão). This is the entry-level red from this estate in the heart of the Dão region. Its red-berry fruits are bright, bursting from the glass, bringing a firmer tannic core and a mineral texture. The wine is a typical blend of the region with Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro and Jaen. The oak aging has given the wine a smooth ripe aftertaste. Drink from 2018. MS Walker. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $15

88

Borges 2013 Reserva Tinto (Dão). Aged for two years in wood, this ripe wine is rich and structured. It has the firm tannins and minerality typical of the Dão while also having balanced fruit and acidity. It is firm, although ripe, and ready to drink. JMV USA. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $12

88

Caves Aliança 2014 Aliança (Dão). A smooth ripe wine, full of red fruits and bold kaleidoscope flavors. It has acidity, plenty of spice and a generous feel that comes from the oak aging and superrich fruits. Drink now. Tri-Vin Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $10

Julia Kemper Wines 2012 Vinhas Selecionadas (Dão). This is a mineral-textured wine, full of fruit and with a background of firm tannins. Its juicy fruits and acidity, the red berry flavors and the balance create a wine that is not too dense, but with a firm core. It will be accessible soon, ready to drink from 2018. D’Ouro Vino Selections. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $18

Opta 2016 Dão. Gently wood aged, the wine is rich in tannins and with generous red fruits. It is ripe with pepper as well as red-fruit flavors. It will be ready to drink from 2018. Elixir Wine Group. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $10

85

Borges 2015 Meia Encosta (Dão). This is the producer’s most popular wine in Portugal. A touch of oak aging adds spice to the easygoing tannin and red-berry fruit flavors. It’s easy to drink and ready now. JMV USA. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $7

85

Global Wines 2014 Cabriz Touriga Nacional (Dão). This is a spicy wood-laden wine. Considering it is three-years-old, it seems likely that the burnt-wood flavor will remain. That spoils what is otherwise a ripe and juicy wine with fine black fruits. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $13

DOURO

95

Conceito Vinhos 2015 Unico (Douro). Produced from old vines on the schist slopes of the upper Douro, this is an impressive wine from Carla Costa Ferreira and winemaker-daughter Rita Marques Ferreira. Dark tannins in this still-young wine bring out bitter chocolate flavors as well as enhancing the dense black fruits. Along with the rich structure and concentration, this superb wine has a sense of restrained authority and certainly the ability to age. Drink from 2021. T. Elenteny Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $120

95

Quinta da Romaneira 2014 Reserva (Douro). The top wine from Romaneira shows the power and the richness that can come from this property. Aging for 14 months in wood has just enhanced the opulent black fruits, ripe tannins and acidity. It is an impressive wine, made for aging and not likely to be ready until 2020. Grape Expectations (CA). —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $60


95

Quinta do Pôpa 2013 Pôpa VV Vinhas Velhas (Douro). Pôpa was the family’s nickname for grandpa. The winery, run by grandson Stéphane Ferreira, is the grandkids’ tribute. This richly perfumed wine, by consultant Luis Pato, comes from a field blend of 21 grape varieties. Old vines with an average age of 82-years-old in a single parcel have given the wine huge concentration and rich swathes of tannins and black plum and damson fruit. The wine has power while also retaining plenty of elegance. It is an impressive wine, just approaching its peak and ready from 2018. NLC Wines. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $45

94

Quinta da Romaneira 2013 Reserva (Douro). Romaneira’s position on the north bank of the Douro above Pinhao always delivers rich, smooth and powerful wine. Its tannins, beautifully integrated into the ripe black fruits, are rounded, offering a dry core and a rich future. The wine, the top offering from this estate, is almost ready to drink. Just wait until at least 2018. Grape Expectations (CA). —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $60

93

Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal 2014 Quinta dos Quatros Ventos (Douro). This estate whose name means four winds is in the Douro Superior, the easternmost part of the Douro region. It is intensely rich and solid—a classic blend for the region with a dominance of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, aged in wood and with plenty more aging ability. This black-fruit-flavored wine will be best from 2020. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $28

wood aging in the mint flavors as well as toast. Despite a dodgy harvest year, the wine has the dense, ripely fruity character that comes from winemakers João Menezes and Francisco Montenegro’s use of foot treading and fermentation in open stone lagars and that gives great black fruits and soft tannins. This is a wine that is powerful and concentrated, ready to age for a few more years. Drink from 2020. NLC Wines. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $23

93

Secret Spot Wines 2014 Crooked Vines Colheita (Douro). This producer specializes in seeking out parcels of old vines. In this case, the vines, planted at high density, have unusually crooked trunks. The wine itself, richly tannic and dense, has new wood flavors, ripe black-plum fruits and a dark firm character. It is still young and will develop into an impressively rich wine. Drink from 2019. Vintage Wine Marketing. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $32

92

Rui Roboredo Madeira 2010 Vinha da Urze Grande Reserva Tinto (Douro). Vines in the Douro Superior, the remote area in the eastern edges of the Douro wine region, go into this firm wine. With its dry tannins and firm structure, the wine is always going to be powerful. It has spice and rich blackberry and damson fruits. The aftertaste brings in acidity. Drink this wine now, but don’t forget to let it breathe for a couple of hours. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $34

92

Conceito Vinhos 2015 Conceito (Douro). Rich, generous and packed with fruit, this is a field-blend wine that just bursts from the glass. With a fine balance between tannins and the rich blackberry fruits, the wine is ripe, warm and structured. It is a wine to age, so drink from 2020. T. Elenteny Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $45

Valle da Fonte 2014 Vinhas Velhas Old Vines (Douro). Touriga Nacional is the principal component of this rich blend from the lower Douro vineyards of Valle da Fonte. It is a concentrated wine with black plum and spice flavors. They are underlined by the dark tannins and black chocolate. This makes for a wine that needs further aging. Drink from at least 2019. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $25

93

92

93

91

93

Duorum 2015 Reserva Old Vines (Douro). Concentrated tannins and rich black plum and currant flavors distinguish this serious, dense wine. It has structure and dry tannins resulting from both the old vine fruit and the barrel aging. This is a wine that deserves some good aging. Drink from 2020. MundoVino–The Winebow Group. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $45 Quinta da Foz 2016 Reserva (Douro). Old vines, many up to 80-years-old, supply the grapes that were fermented in traditional granite lagars for a ripe jammy character in this powerful wine. It has solid tannins and great acidity, both of which will allow the wine to age. Drink this impressive wine from 2020. MHW, Ltd. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $55

93

Quinta do Pôpa 2014 Pôpa Black Edition (Douro). A richly spicy wine, showing its

Wines & Winemakers 2015 Lua Cheia em Vinhas Velhas Reserva Especial (Douro). Produced from a field blend of old vines (Vinhas Velhas), this rich wine is powerfully structured. It has dark tannins and great concentration, balancing rich plum flavors and acidity with firm structure. This is a wine for serious aging, don’t drink before 2020. Amara Wines & Spirits. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $22 Quinta do Pôpa 2014 Pôpa Tinto (Douro). This José Ferreira family project in the Douro Valley had its first vintage in 2007. This partially wood-aged wine is rich and full of black fruits. Fermentation in open lagars has given the wine a ripe character as well as dense tannins. The wine is concentrated and likely to age a little further, so drink from 2018. NLC Wines. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $18

91

Rui Roboredo Madeira 2013 Vinha da Urze Grande Reserva Tinto (Douro). This ripe wine is concentrated in blackberry tones, with added spice from 12 months in French and American oak. The tannins and the dry core are still developing into what will be a sumptuous wine. Drink from 2019. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $19

90

Borges 2015 Quinta da Soalheira Vinhas Velhas (Douro). The low-yield old vines of the quinta have produced a dense wine with firm tannins. Young and with good potential, the wine is a blend of four Douro grapes, dominated by Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. Unoaked, it is rich and firm, all ripe blackberry fruits with a cut of acidity. Drink from 2018. JMV USA. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $12

89

Duorum 2015 Colheita (Douro). Big, bold tannins and ripe black fruits mark a wine that is solid and concentrated. Juicy acidity keeps the rich fruits crisp as the wine matures gently. Generous and with hints of wood aging, the wine will be best drunk from 2018. MundoVino–The Winebow Group. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $20

89

Quinta de Porrais 2015 Sete Vales (Douro). Produced by the winemaking team of Casa Santos Lima in Lisboa, this wine has rich black fruits and a soft texture. Its depth, concentration and richness are finely integrated—full and fruity with a core of firmer tannins. Drink now. Multiple U.S. importers. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $18

88

Adega Vila Real 2014 Grande Reserva (Douro). This is a rich oak-aged wine. Its black-fruit flavors are surrounded by firm stillyoung tannins. It has weight, richness from ripe black plum and berry fruits. It could do with some further aging and will be better from 2019. Iberian Wine Importers. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $20

88

Conceito Vinhos 2015 Contraste (Douro). Of the two styles of wines made by this producer, this is the one that’s softer and easy to drink when young. With its touch of spice and layers of wood, it is also a rich full wine that brings out both great black fruits and the mineral texture of many Douro wines. The wine will be ready in 2018. T. Elenteny Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $19

88

Quinta da Romaneira 2014 Sino da Romaneira (Douro). In a Bordeaux tradition, this is the second wine from this Douro quinta. Wood aging and ripe berry fruits have combined to make an accessible wine that’s soft and open. It is made to be drunk young and is ready now. Grape Expectations (CA). —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $19

WINEMAG.COM | 241


BUYINGGUIDE

88

Quinta do Pôpa 2015 Contos da Terra (Douro). The wine is juicy and rich. Its soft texture comes from fermentation in tanks that recycle CO2 to give a gentle extraction. The result is rounded, smooth, full of black fruits and with plenty of crisp acidity to finish. NLC Wines. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $12

88

Valle da Fonte 2015 Tinto (Douro). Produced in traditional stone lagars, the wine has typical rounded smooth tannins. It has spice, juicy black currant and fine acidity. The wine is rich and needs another year. Drink from 2019. Aidil Wines/Old World Import. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $13

87

Adega Vila Real 2015 Tinta Roriz (Douro). Part of a series highlighting the principal varieties of the Douro, this wine is made from the grape that is known as Tempranillo in Spain. It is structured and dense, with red-berry fruits and the beginnings of the smooth texture more familiar with the grape. The mineral texture and acidity give further complexity. Drink from 2018. Iberian Wine Importers. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $15

rich core of tannin and balanced acidity. Drink now. Iberian Wine Importers. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $12

86

Aveleda 2015 Casal Garcia (Douro). While the familiar white version of this wine is from Vinho Verde, the producers have gone a little further south to the Douro for the red. That gives a soft wine but with weight and attractive layers of red-berry fruits and a touch of warmth. Drink now. Aveleda Inc. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $9

86

Borges 2015 Lello (Douro). This light wine is gently fruity and with the minimum of tannins. It is juicy with acidity and red-berry fruits. The partial wood aging has smoothed out the ripe blend of most of the major grapes of the Douro. Drink now. JMV USA. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $7

85

Adega Vila Real 2015 Colheita (Douro). This is a lightly structured wine with a soft juicy black-fruit character. It is smooth, rounded and with a crisp aftertaste from the acidity. It is ready to drink. Iberian Wine Importers. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 3% Price: $10

87

Aveleda 2015 Charamba Reserva (Douro). Named after a traditional Portuguese dance, the wine is full of red fruits, soft tannins with a rich texture. It is made to be drunk young, its red berry and red-currant fruits well integrated into the structure and acidity. Drink now. Aveleda Inc. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $10

87

Borges 2015 Quinta da Soalheira (Douro). Firmly tannic, this wine is richly endowed with a solid structure and also with bold black fruits. It comes from the producer’s main Douro vineyard. Concentrated and ripe, it will age and should be drunk from 2018. JMV USA. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $10

PORT

95

Quinta do Noval 2015 Vintage Port. Noval, one of the showpiece estates of the Douro, releases vintages in most years. This wine gives a fine reflection of what is, in fact, a great vintage which was almost a general declaration. It is impressive, ripe with generous black fruits and a fine balance between the spirit and the rich structure and fruit. It is going to mature quickly in the sense that it can be drunk within the next five years. It will also age for several decades. Vintus LLC. —R.V. abv: 19.5% Price: $110

87

95

86

92

Caves Aliança 2015 Foral (Douro). This soft and fruity wine has gentle tannins and rich blackberry and currant fruits. Aged simply in steel tanks, it is all about the fruitiness and the balancing acidity. Made to drink young, the wine is ready now. Tri-Vin Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

Adega Vila Real 2015 Premium (Douro). Ripe, spicy and full both of ripe fruits and tannins, this is a full-bodied wine that brings out the minerality and structure of a Douro wine. It has plenty of red fruits to balance these tannins, resolving into the wine that is firm but ready to drink. Iberian Wine Importers. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $13

86

Adega Vila Real 2014 Reserva (Douro). The oak aging gives this wine an attractive, spicy character. A blend of four of the Douro’s most familiar varieties, it is rich, full of black fruit with a

242 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Taylor Fladgate 1968 Single Harvest Port. One of a series of releases by this Port producer, this Colheita, or Port from a single harvest, is beautifully poised between red fruits and mature almond and an old gold character. It has intensity, a product of the aging in wood that has just concentrated the wine. Like all Ports of this type, it is ready to drink. Kobrand. —R.V. abv: 20.5% Price: $300

Ferreira 2012 Late Bottled Vintage Port. The wine is dry, concentrated, very much in the house style of this legendary brand. It has acidity as well as the rich dried fruits, with the tannins a force in the background. It is a style of LBV that could age well, with its structure and acidity. Drink now, certainly, but it will be an even better wine from 2020 or 2022. Broadbent Selections, Inc. —R.V. abv: 20.5% Price: $26

91

Borges 2012 Soalheira Vintage Port. While it was not a generally declared vintage, this year

has produced some fine single-quinta vintages. This wine has a fine tannic structure behind the rich damson and dried fruit flavors. Spice and acidity add to the complexity of this dense wine that will certainly need to age. Drink from 2023. JMV USA. —R.V. abv: 19.5% Price: $33

91

Ferreira 2013 Late Bottled Vintage Port. With fragrant violet and red-fruit aromas, this is an enticing wine. Its structure and its concentration bring out its richness and dense black fruits. The wine is elegant, on the dry side of Ports with some firm tannins as well as fine ripe fruits and acidity. Drink this now or (better yet) wait until 2020. Broadbent Selections, Inc. —R.V. abv: 20% Price: $26

90

Borges NV Quinta da Soalheira 20 Years Old Tawny Port. Aged in small and larger barrels for an average of 20 years, the wine is beautifully poised between fruit and old gold intensity. It is rich, with dark marmalade flavors, orange peel and spice. The intense acidity keeps some crispness to this intense, dry and concentrated wine. Drink now. JMV USA. —R.V. abv: 19.5% Price: $39

90

Borges NV Soalheira 10 Years Old Tawny Port. Barrel aging for 10 years has begun to change the fruit of this rich wine. It has introduced spice, acidity and a tangy, bitter orange character. The fruit hasn’t gone completely and the balance of this wine, neither young nor old, it is just right. Drink now. JMV USA. —R.V. abv: 19.5% Price: $26

90

Offley 2013 Late Bottled Vintage Port. The wine is rich, exuding ripe black fruits as well as dried prune. It balances the fruit with some firm tannins that will allow the wine to age for a few years. For now, it is opulent, finely balanced, and leaves a fine perfumed aftertaste from the Touriga Nacional in the blend. Evaton, Inc. —R.V. abv: 20% Price: $26

90

Offley 2012 Late Bottled Vintage Port. This Port, still young to taste, is a dry style of LBV giving structure as much as fruit at this stage. It does have floral black fruits from the Touriga Nacional in the blend. It also has a firm core that will certainly soften. So although this wine can be drunk now, it will be so much better from 2019. Evaton, Inc. —R.V. abv: 20.5% Price: $26

90

Sandeman 2013 Late Bottled Vintage Port. This Port was bottled unfiltered which means there are the right conditions for it to age. It is rich and dense with jammy black fruits and ripe tannins. Dried black plums and dates are backed up by a dry core and by fine acidity. Drink this rich wine now, but it will be much better from 2019. Pernod Ricard. —R.V. abv: 20.5% Price: $30


89

Borges 2010 Late Bottled Vintage Port. Aged for four years in old wood before bottling, this ripe, soft and sweet wine is typical of the Borges style of Port. It is fruity with ripe damsons, prunes and fine concentration. With acidity and touches of tannin to give the wine shape, it is balanced and ready to drink. JMV USA. —R.V. abv: 20% Price: $17

88

Borges NV Reserva Branco Port. Port made from white grapes is a great cocktail base (think white Port and Tonic for a start) as well as a delicious drink in its own right. This wine, well poised between sweet and dry, is a rich golden color, with dried apricot and plenty of fresh citrus to give it a crisp texture. Drink now. JMV USA. —R.V. abv: 19% Price: $14

88

Borges NV Reserva Tawny Port. This is a young tawny (in this case, on average fiveyears-old) that has kept all its fruit and just added perfumed dried fruits and touches of spice and attractive oxidation from the wood aging. The wine is soft, ripe and easy to drink. JMV USA. —R.V. abv: 19% Price: $14

88

Sandeman 2012 Late Bottled Vintage Port. Smoothly textured with a balancing edge of tannin, this ripe—never too sweet—Port is full of dried fruits, an edge of spirits and a dry aftertaste. The wine, from one of the classic Port houses, is intense, concentrated, ready to drink now. Pernod Ricard. —R.V. abv: 20.5% Price: $30

87

Borges NV Reserva Ruby Port. This fruity young wine has a ripe spring in its step. It has red-berry fruitiness as well as sweeter candied fruits balanced by an edge of spirit and acidity. This is an easy style of Port, ready to drink at any time. JMV USA. —R.V. abv: 19% Price: $14

matures. Drink from 2024. Bernard Magrez. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $55

96

Château Filhot 2014 Sauternes. With its apricot and honeyed flavors, this is a rich wine. It has intense, ripe fruit and layers of spice and botrytis. A dry core gives it its great richness and aging potential. Drink from 2024. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $28

96

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2014 Sauternes. This wine has great richness. Along with its spice and honey notes, there are orange and lemon fruit flavors that give it lift. Beautifully balanced and ripe, it has the potential to be a superb wine. The botrytis core is what gives it its great aging potential. Drink from 2024. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $70

96

Château Sigalas Rabaud 2014 Sauternes. The wine is all richness—loaded with botrytis and concentration. With its balanced acidity and dried fruit flavors, it’s ripe, gorgeous and developing well, if slowly. This will be a great wine, but wait until 2024 to open it. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

96

Château Suduiraut 2014 Sauternes. Intense and ripe, this is a superb wine from a top Sauternes estate. It has all the expected elements, including concentrated botrytis and honeyed flavors. Seville orange and lemon notes provide contrast, as does its acidity, which is just as intense as the honey character. It will age well, so drink from 2025. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $70

95

Château Rabaud-Promis 2014 Sauternes. Beautifully poised, this wine strikes a balance between crisp lemon-curd acidity and intense honey and botrytis. Along with its nutmeg and marmalade flavors, it has the potential to be a powerful, wine. Drink from 2024. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

94

Château Caillou 2014 Sauternes. From a Barsac-based producer who prefers to use the Sauternes appellation, this rich, intense wine has weight, opulence and layers of honey and botrytis flavors. While still young, it shows impressive apricot and liquorous flavors. Drink from 2022. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $45

94

Château d’Arche 2014 Sauternes. This wine has rich, intense yellow fruit, orange marmalade and concentrated botrytis flavors. With all the elements in place, it is well poised to mature slowly and gently into a very fine wine. Its concentration is balanced by fresh fruit and and honey notes. Drink from 2023. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $74

94

Château la Tour Blanche 2014 Sauternes. This wine is already balanced and developing quickly. It has fine acidity and crisp citrus and floral honey flavors. With its light touch, it’s likely to be ready to enjoy. Drink now–2021. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $45

94

Château Romer du Hayot 2014 Sauternes. Initially all lightness and crisp fruit, this wine slowly builds in richness as its botrytis and intense honey flavors develop. It shows huge potential: concentrated and opulent yet always balanced with acidity. Drink from 2024. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

95

94

SAUTERNES

95

93

Château de Rayne Vigneau 2014 Sauternes. With its apricot and bitter orange flavors, this wine has great concentration, botrytis character and richness. Acidity lends balance to all its beautiful honey notes and intensity. Drink from 2023. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

95

BORDEAUX SWEET WINES

97

97

Clos Haut-Peyraguey 2014 Sauternes. This impressive wine has great intensity and superb apricot and orange flavors. Acidity mingles with its botrytis core and rich, concentrated fruit, striking a fine balance. It will become delicious as it

Château de Malle 2014 Sauternes. This is ripe and floral, with intense acidity under the sweet, honeyed surface. Its dry core of botrytis is controlled by acidity and citrus flavors. Still developing and still young, it needs to age for many years. Drink from 2024. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA Château Guiraud 2014 Sauternes. Already beautifully balanced, this wine is intense, rich and full of layered acidity and concentrated honey flavors. It’s ripe, opulent and dense, with spice notes and acidity highlighting its rich core. Drink from 2024. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

Château Lamothe Guignard 2014 Sauternes. This powerful, dense and hugely rich wine has swathes of ripe yellow and citrus fruits. These are balanced with beautiful botrytis, honey and spice notes. Although tempting, it would be a mistake to drink it now. Much better to wait until 2024. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

Château Suduiraut 2014 Lions de Suduiraut (Sauternes). Packed with dry botrytis and delicious ripe fruit, this is a rich wine. It’s full of fruitiness and has a great core of sweet honey and balanced acidity. Dense and ripe, it’s just beginning its journey. Drink from 2022. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

Château Lamothe Despujols 2014 Sauternes. This rich wine is dominated by concentrated botrytis tones, yet its acidity and lemon flavors are still very much at the fore. With its firm structure, spice notes and crisp lemon fruit still coming together, it suggests a fine future. Drink from 2023. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

93

Château Rieussec 2014 Carmes (Sauternes). This rich, impressive wine is full of ripe fruit and balanced acidity. It has intensity, sweetness and botrytis rich enough to lend a dry core. Drink from 2022. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

WINEMAG.COM | 243


BUYINGGUIDE

93

Château Simon 2011 Cuvée Exceptionelle (Sauternes). A gold color and honey aromas set the scene for this rich, opulent wine. It has a great layer of botrytis as well as plenty of spice and delicious apricot and orange fruit flavors, finishing with a tang of crisp acidity. Drink from 2020. Dionysos Imports Inc. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $80/375 ml

93

Château Suduiraut 2014 Castelnau de Suduiraut (Sauternes). This is already a beautiful wine. An intense flavor of dried apricot fruit is balanced by a serious core of botrytis. With its underlying acidity, this is concentrated, ripe and sure to age well. Drink from 2021. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

93

Château Suduiraut 2011 Castelnau de Suduiraut (Sauternes). Illogically, there are two second wines at this estate. This is the richer of the two (the other is Lions). It has intensity, spice, ripe apricot fruit and a smooth, dense texture. Its honey and botrytis notes are just right while the thread of acidity keeps it all in place. Drink from 2019. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $39

92

Château de Rayne Vigneau 2014 Madame de Rayne (Sauternes). This rich wine is full of intense botrytis. It has fine poise, balancing its concentrated apricot and lemon flavors with botrytis notes. Drink from 2022. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

92

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2014 La Chapelle (Sauternes). Balanced and fruity, this ripe, sweet wine delivers both botrytis and generous fruit. It has fine acidity to cut through the richness, giving intense sweetness and a dry core. Drink from 2021. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

92

Château Simon 2010 Cuvée Exceptionelle (Sauternes). Maturity comes slowly to a Sauternes, but this wine is almost there. Its fine sweetness is balanced by a lemon curd-like acidity while its rich botrytis is finely integrated with the opulent texture. Drink now. Dionysos Imports Inc. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $40/375 ml

92

Château Suduiraut 2013 Lions de Suduiraut (Sauternes). The lighter of the two second wines of classed-growth Suduiraut, this is a more accessible reflection of the richness of the grand vin. At four years old, it’s still young, its acidity and crisp lemon flavors contrasting its core of botrytis and delicious fruit. Drink this balanced wine from 2020. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $30

92

Clos Haut-Peyraguey 2014 Symphonie (Sauternes). Rich and dense, this generous wine has considerable botrytis as well as perfumed apri-

244 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

cot and bitter orange flavors. It’s ripe and full of fruit and honey. Drink from 2020. Bernard Magrez. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $29

BARSAC

91

98

90

97

90

96

90

96

89

95

89

95

89

Clos Dady 2014 Sauternes. Apricot and peach aromas lead the way in this stilltight, mineral wine. Its richness is drawn up at this stage, showing crisp acidity as well as honey and pineapple flavors. It’s likely to age well, so drink from 2019. Canon de Colorado. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $54

91

88

91

Château Simon 2011 Sauternes. Although based in Barsac, this producer has vines in Sauternes, which form the backbone of this wine. Still young, it’s ripe and lightly yeasty yet rich with honeyed botrytis. Full and dense, it brings in just the right amount of acidity at the end. Drink from 2019. Cynthia Hurley Wine Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $NA/375 ml

Château la Tour Blanche 2014 Charmilles (Sauternes). This soft wine is still waiting for its intensity to come through. The acidity is there, as is ripe, honeyed fruit. Wait until 2022 to open it. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20 Château Lamourette 2010 Sauternes. This spicy wine is full of botrytis, giving a dry edge to its rich, honeyed flavors. It has an intense character, hovering between very sweet and dry. Structured with strong acidity, it will be ready to drink from 2018. Wines of France Inc. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $39

Château Simon 2009 Cuvée Exceptionelle (Sauternes). Apricot and orange flavors are still right up front in this rich wine. Its acidity and poise show a balance that is delicious now. The aftertaste is crisp, cool and stylish. Dionysos Imports Inc. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $40/375 ml Château Guiraud 2014 Petit Guiraud (Sauternes). This wine is closed at this young stage but hints at an underlying richness. That leaves acidity and fragrant lemongrass-like crispness at the fore. It needs time to fill out, so drink from 2021. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA Château Rabaud-Promis 2014 Raymond Louis (Sauternes). This wine has intense acidity and a tight texture that will obviously need time to open up, but ripe apricot and honey flavors are present now. Drink from 2021. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

Château d’Arche 2014 Perle (Sauternes). Crisp with acidity and ripe with apricot flavors, this is a finely perfumed wine. A core of botrytis hints at future richness. Now, it boasts bitter orange notes and a bright finish. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $33

Château Climens 2014 Barsac. This is beautully concentrated and full of great richness yet seems closed at the moment. Its apricot jelly and dried fruit flavors, acidity and botrytis are in perfect balance, developing intensity as it opens. A full, generous wine with a great future. Drink from 2023. Château Climens. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $70

Château Coutet 2014 Barsac. Powered by intense botrytis, this wine is opulent and ripe, with spice, yellow fruit and honey flavors. It has just the right balance of acidity to maintain its shape and proportions. It’s likely to age well over many years. Drink from 2024. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $45 Château Doisy-Daëne 2014 Barsac. Intense with botrytis and concentrated dried apricot and fig flavors, this is a finely balanced wine. It’s ripe and opulent, certainly, but it also has the potential to age very well. Drink from 2024. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

Château Nairac 2014 Barsac. This wine is still so young but shows considerable potential. Its concentration and acidity are balanced by rich honey, dried fruit and bitter orange flavors that need time to come into balance, so wait until 2025 to open. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA Château de Myrat 2014 Barsac. This floral wine shows geranium and white fruit notes. These are in relief against a background of great acidity and generous honey flavors. All these elements need time to come together but show great potential. Drink from 2025. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

Château Doisy-Védrines 2014 Barsac. Rich and firm, with great concentration, this wine is powered by botrytis, honey and the ripest yellow fruit and bitter orange flavors. It promises a great future, with power and richness balanced by acidity. Drink from 2023. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA Château Climens 2014 Cyprès (Barsac). This wine is opulent with rich orange marmalade flavors and generous sweetness. Acidity balances it all, lifting the richness and giving it life. Ripe from the first sip, it finishes with apricot and orange notes. Drink from 2020. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $40 Château Doisy-Védrines 2014 Petit Védrines (Barsac). The sweetness of this wine is well contained by acidity, with spice, lemon and honey flavors. It has fine fruit, a crisp texture and a feeling of lightness. Drink from 2020. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA


90

Château Coutet 2014 Chartreuse (Barsac). With considerable botrytis, this wine is intense and rich. It’s still tight at this stage, structured with layers of spice and fruit. Drink from 2021. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

LOUPIAC

91

Château Dauphiné Rondillon 2009 Cuvée d’Exception (Loupiac). Strong, concentrated honey flavors dominate this wine that is maturing well. It has a firm edge of dry botrytis to accentuate its rich orange and spice notes. Hints of acidity lend balance, although more would be welcome to provide relief from the richness. Drink now. Elixirs du Monde. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $59/500 ml

91

Château du Cros 2013 Loupiac. From a great sweet wine vintage, this beautifully balanced wine walks easily between ripe, honeyed botrytis flavors and delicious crisp apricot and bitter orange fruit. While it’s still young and will age well, it’s tempting to drink now for its delicious balance. Best from 2019. New France Wine Co. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $32

SAINT-CROIX-DU-MONT

89

Chateau la Rame 2014 Saint-Croix-du-Mont. With its pale gold color, this wine has acacia honey aromas and a great balance between acidity and rich yellow and mango fruit flavors. It’s developing quickly, maintaining its acidity and crispness while bringing out rich apricot and botrytis notes. Drink from 2020. Rosenthal Wine Merchant. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $28

87

Château du Pavillon 2013 Saint-Croix-duMont. From a fine vintage for sweet wines in Bordeaux, this is fruity and ready to drink. Good acidity is the key here, balancing the apricot and bitter orange sweetness. Drink now. Fruit of the Vines, Inc. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $NA

87

Château La Caussade 2015 Saint-Croix-duMont. Light and fruity, with hints of botrytis and nutmeg spiciness, this wine is ripe, balanced and ready to drink. Its apricot fruit and acidity are well integrated. DB Wine Selection. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $25/375 ml

BORDEAUX

90

Château Dauphiné Rondillon 2008 Cuvée d’Or (Loupiac). Now perfectly mature, this ripe, spicy wine is delicious. It shows a fine balance between botrytis, fruit and acidity, keeping it at once crisp and richly sweet. Ready to drink. Elixirs du Monde. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $42/375 ml

89

Château du Cros 2015 Ségur du Cros (Loupiac). Unctuous Sémillon and touches of wood mark this second wine from Château du Cros. It’s honeyed and rich yet has plenty of acidity and crispness. It shows poise as well as indications that it will age quickly. Drink from 2019. New France Wine Co. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $16

88

Château Dauphiné Rondillon 2011 Loupiac. This soft, fruity wine delivers honey and apricot aromas. With touches of botrytis, it has a dry, spicy edge. At the same time, it’s full of bitter orange and yellow fruit. Drink from 2018. Elixirs du Monde. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $28/375 ml

86

Château les Roques 2013 Loupiac. This wine ultrarich—perhaps too much so. With intense apricot and spice flavors, it’s a dense powerhouse of bitter botrytis that lacks elegance. Although it will soften with time, the superripe character will remain. Fruit of the Vines, Inc. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $NA

RED WINES SAINT-ÉMILION

94

Château Destieux 2010 Saint-Émilion. This rich and generous Grand Cru Classé is full of dark fruit and tannins and is ready to drink. It has weight, juicy acidity and black plum and berry flavors. Ripe, with the perfume of Cabernet Franc, it’s entering maturity now and should very drinkable until at least 2025. Maison Barriere USA. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $60

93

Château Tour Grand Faurie 2009 SaintÉmilion. This smooth, rich and fine wine is maturing well. It has a good balance of ripe fruit and acidity. Bitter coffee and spice notes add complexity while not detracting from the fruit. Drink from 2020. Wine Wine Situation LLC. —R.V. abv: 93% Price: $40

92

Château la Croizille 2012 Saint-Émilion. This classy wine is rich, with its firm structure still intact. It has bold tannins, ripe blackberry fruit and bright acidity. Its concentration, together with its dry, tannic core, confirms that it will age further. Drink from 2020. DM Vineyards & Partners. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $90

91

Château Chauvin 2014 Folie de Chauvin (Saint-Émilion). The second label of classed growth Château Chauvin, this wine is structured yet bears all the fruit that is characteristic of the vintage. Finely balanced, its acidity and black fruit flavors work together to create a wine that needs to age further. Best from 2020. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $30

91

Château Dassault 2015 D de Dassault (SaintÉmilion). This second wine of classed growth Château Dassault is still young. It has tannins and a dense texture that comes from its rich fruit and high alcohol. However, it’s balanced and jammy, with ripe blackberry flavors and a sense of restrained power. Drink from 2020. Maison Barriere USA. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: 15% Price: $32

91

Château de l’Annonciation 2014 Saint-Émilion. This ripe wine is full of the fruit that’s typical of the vintage, with its bursts of red berry flavor and layers of wood. It has a crisp edge from plenty of acidity and a good concentration that gives it the weight it needs. Drink from 2020. DHI Selections. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $25

93

91

93

91

Château Chauvin 2014 Saint-Émilion. This is the first vintage of this new purchase by Sylvie Cazes, a leading figure in the Bordeaux wine scene. A classed growth, it’s richly fruity yet structured and firm, with dense tannins and layers of delicious black fruit. With its tannins still well at the fore, it will need to age further, so drink from 2022. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $50 Château la Clide 2010 Primo du Château la Clide (Saint-Émilion). The power of the 2010 vintage is very apparent in this superripe wine. Dominated by rich, perfumed Cabernet Franc, it’s concentrated, dark and dense. Its juicy black fruit is still in the background, moving slowly forward as it matures. Drink from 2020. Coastal Wine Company, Inc. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $NA

Château la Clide 2012 Saint-Émilion. Unlike the Primo cuvée from this estate, which is mainly Cabernet Franc, this is almost entirely Merlot. That makes for a rich wine with ripe tannins, red berry fruit and a complex structure. All this points to aging further, so drink from 2020. Coastal Wine Company, Inc. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $NA

Château la Clide 2009 Primo du Château la Clide (Saint-Émilion). An unusual blend of 95% Cabernet Franc and only 5% Merlot comprises this richly perfumed and structured wine. It’s generous, with dark chocolate and spice flavors as well as acidity at the end. It could still age further, so drink from 2019. Coastal Wine Company, Inc. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $NA

91

Château Laroque 2012 Saint-Émilion. Now mature, this juicy, ripe wine has begun its

WINEMAG.COM | 245


BUYINGGUIDE change into secondary flavors. It’s still firm, with layers of spice and acidity, yet has developed a warm, rich density that will stay for several years. Advantage International. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $45

91

Château Tour Grand Faurie 2015 Saint-Émilion. Still very young, this ripe Merlot-dominated wine is packed with dark plum and rich damson fruit flavors. They balance the serious amount of wood influence that gives it its spice and ageability. Drink from 2023. Wine Wine Situation LLC. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $38

91

Château Tour Grand Faurie 2014 Saint-Émilion. Full of the bright fruit typical of the vintage, this wine is made from 90% Merlot with a touch of Cabernet Franc. It’s structured with still-young tannins and is dominated by red berry fruit, needing to age until 2021. Wine Wine Situation LLC. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $35

91

Château Tour Grand Faurie 2010 Saint-Émilion. This is a monster of a wine. 100% very ripe Merlot, it shows a power and density that is still firm and structured. With age, that concentration will turn into beautiful richness. But don’t doubt its power. Drink from 2021. Wine Wine Situation LLC. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: 15% Price: $40

90

Château Dassault 2014 D de Dassault (SaintÉmilion). Owned by the Dassault aerospace family, this château is producing some fine wines, like this crisp, textured second label. With its juicy acidity from the fruity vintage, it has delicious black currant flavors and is likely to age quickly. Drink from 2019. Maison Barriere USA. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $32

90

Château Pailhas 2014 Devise (Saint-Émilion). Smoky aromas from wood aging lead to a richly structured palate that’s packed with tannins. It’s extracted, with a bitter coffee character and black fruit flavors that are slowly developing. Drink from 2020. A&B Wines & Spirits. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $40

90

Vieux Château des Combes 2014 Saint-Émilion. Firm tannins and concentrated black fruit flavors set this wine up for long-term aging. It has a solid core that gives it dryness at this young stage. But the bold blackberry fruit and acidity will come through to produce a generous, balanced wine. Drink from 2021. Advantage International. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

89

Château Belle Assise Coureau 2015 SaintÉmilion. Profiting from the ripeness of the 2015 vintage, this 65% Merlot wine is rich and soft. The balance of Cabernet Franc in the blend lends spice, perfume and a fine tannic structure. Drink from 2019. Holiday Beverage. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $22

246 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

89

Château Pailhas 2012 Saint-Émilion. This dense wine is now beginning to mature. It has the bold black fruit of the vintage, which is overlaid by dark chocolate notes and some bitterness. Still firm, it will probably need to age. Drink from 2019. A&B Wines & Spirits. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $30

89

Château Tour Grand Faurie 2012 Saint-Émilion. Now blossoming, this wine from a generally fruity vintage is delicious to drink. Poised and stylish, it shows integrated black fruit and wood, feeling balanced and almost ready. Drink from 2018. Wine Wine Situation LLC. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $35

and tannic structure lend a crisp texture to its black currant fruit. It will probably broaden as it matures, so drink from 2019. Maison Barriere USA. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $22

87

Château Valade 2014 Saint-Émilion. The 100% new oak used in the aging of this wine was not a good idea. It has given too much woodiness and not enough fruit. Still young, it may soften enough to allow the generous blackberry flavors to come through. Terroir Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $49

PUISSEGUIN SAINT-ÉMILION

89

91

88

90

Château Valade 2012 L’Etendard de Château Valade (Saint-Émilion). This second wine from the estate offers spice and mushroom aromas that indicate it’s now mature. Ripe and smooth, with attractive secondary flavors, it’s spicy, meaty and ready to drink. Terroir Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $28

Château la Clide 2011 Saint-Émilion. This wine is still tannic and firm, with a dry core of ripe fruit. The tannins will always be present, typical of this vintage. Drink now, but decant first. Coastal Wine Company, Inc. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $NA

88

Château Valade 2011 L’Etendard de Château Valade (Saint-Émilion). While this wine still has the firm, tannic core typical of this vintage, it also has a mature character that shows it’s ready to drink. Dry tannins and a ripe, spicy character mingle on the palate. Drink now. Terroir Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $28

87

Château Billeron Bouquey 2012 Calice (SaintÉmilion). From vines situated on the plain below the Saint-Émilion slopes, this wine has firm tannins against a soft, fruity backdrop. Dominated by 80% Merlot, it’s jammy and ripe, with plenty of red berry fruit and acidity on the finish. Drink from 2018. A&B Wines & Spirits. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $20

87

Château Coutet 2013 Saint-Émilion. This wine is soft and juicy, with attractive red berry fruit. Reflecting the vintage, it’s a light with a dry core that will soften soon. The aftertaste is dry. Drink from 2018. Château Coutet. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $37

87

Château des Laudes 2012 Saint-Émilion. From vines to the east of Saint-Émilion city, this wine is structured and firm. It will take time for the black fruit to come through, so drink from 2019. J & M Distributing Co. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $30

87

Château Truquet 2016 Saint-Émilion. From vines on the plateau to the west of the village of Saint-Émilion, this is a light, fruity wine. Its acidity

Château Haut-Bernat 2015 Puisseguin SaintÉmilion. With 30% of the harvest aged in new oak, this is a spicy, toasty wine. That shows through in the firm tannins that back up the rich black fruit. Produced from 30-year-old vines, it has concentration and a fine, solid texture. Drink from 2022. Saranty Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $45

Château Roc de Boissac 2014 Puisseguin Saint-Émilion. Toast and blackberry aromas set the scene for this ripe, bold, fruity wine. With tannins, spice from wood-aging and a still-firm texture, it’s showing its youth, but the rich blackberry fruit and density promise long life ahead. Drink from 2020. Franck’s Signature Wines. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $27

89

Château Puisseguin la Rigodrie 2015 Puisseguin Saint-Émilion. This still-young blackberry-rich wine is bursting with fruit. Its structure is restrained, with a background of tannins that support the juicy fruitiness. Produced from organic grapes, it will need to age further, so drink from 2019. Mr. Wine. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $36

86

Château Roc de Boissac 2014 La Millerie (Puisseguin Saint-Émilion). This second wine of this estate is aged in tank, making it all bright, ripe berry fruit and juicy acidity. The tannins are still there as it’s still aging. Give this attractive, fruity wine until late 2018 before opening. Franck’s Signature Wines. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

OTHER SAINT-ÉMILION SATELLITES

91

Château des Landes 2015 Cuvée Prestige (Lussac Saint-Émilion). Ripe and structured, this wood-aged wine is still developing. It has a dark structure, dense blackberry fruit and powerful concentration. A peppery touch of alcohol gives it a bitter finish, which should dissipate as it ages. Drink from 2022 Kysela Père et Fils. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $33


91

Château Saint-André Corbin 2015 SaintGeorges-Saint-Émilion. From the smallest of the Saint-Emilion satellite villages, this wine has swathes of black fruit aromas that go well with its firm tannins, dense blackberry flavors and concentration. Ripe Merlot dominates the blend, giving both structure and fruit. Drink from 2021. Aquitaine Wine Company. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $27

90

Château la Bastidette 2012 MontagneSaint-Émilion. This serious, solid wine has plenty of smoky flavors, juicy black fruit and a firm background of tannins. Ripe, full of fruit and with fine acidity at the end, it will be ready from 2019. Cognac One, LLC. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

90

Château la Fleur 2015 Montagne-SaintÉmilion. This smooth and ripe wine is full of dark berry fruit and layered with tannins that will allow it to age. Although rich with black plum flavors, it’s balanced with acidity. Fine and ageworthy, it will be ready to drink from 2021. Advantage International. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $16

CASTILLON CÔTES DE BORDEAUX

92

91

90

91

90

91

89

Château du Roc 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. This wine’s juicy fruit and ripe tannins show it’s full of potential. Firm now, it has rich black fruit and perfumed wood flavors that will soften with time. Drink from 2021. T. Elenteny Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25 Château du Roc 2015 Libelula by Roc (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). This ripe, juicy and smoky wine is rich in black fruit. It’s structured and full, the fruit layered with wood. Perfumed now, it promises a good future ahead. Drink from 2021. T. Elenteny Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $50 Château Haut Dina 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. While this dense wine has plenty of firm tannins, it also has fine, ripe fruit. Rich blackberry flavors and smoky aromas dominate. Drink from 2020. LVC Las Vegas Inc. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $14

91

Château Picoron 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. Perfumed wood and black fruit aromas lead the way in this delicious wine. It’s rich but still firm, with fine juicy fruit that will come through with time. Packed with tannins, it will be ready to drink from 2021. Wine Traditions. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $23

Château d’Aiguilhe 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. This balanced wine shows fine potential. Its structure dominates at the moment, with solid tannins, but the rich black fruit is all there. Let it develop over the next several years and drink from 2021. Château Canon la Gaffelière. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $30

91

92

91

Château Joanin Bécot 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. A mineral texture gives this ripe wine an edge while its full, red berry fruit offers some solid tannins and concentration. It’s smoky and full-bodied and will be ready to drink from 2019. Total Wine & More. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $35

Château Tertre de Belvès 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. Minty wood flavors underline the fruitiness of this ripe wine. Structured and concentrated, it has density and some fine acidity to balance. Its fruit is backed by tannins that suggest a good future. Drink from 2020. Grantham Distributing. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $19

Clos Puy Arnaud 2015 Cuvée Les Ormeaux (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). This attractive, juicy wine is full of red fruit. It has strawberry and crisp red currant flavors as well as fine acidity. The result is a wine with good balance, richness, spice and tannins. Drink from 2019. Duclot La Vinicole. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

Château Roque le Mayne 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. This ripe, smoky wine is structured, full of new oak flavors and dense with both fruit and tannins. Its concentrated, bold blackberry flavors and firm tannins mix with smoky wood notes and acidity. Drink from 2020. Petit Pois. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25 Château Roquevieille 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. Structured and still firm, this is a wine with some good potential. It’s full of blackberry fruit and ripe tannins. Juicy acidity gives it a crisp edge, lifting the solid texture. Drink from 2020. Total Wine & More. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

Château Ampélia 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. Some firm tannins give this wine a good structure. They’re balanced by ripe, juicy fruit and acidity—two elements that are coming together well to bring it into its drinking window. Drink from 2020. Spec’s. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

89

Château Côte Montpezat 2014 Cuvée Compostelle (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). Named after the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella in Spain, this is a structured, firm wine with strong signs of wood aging. That gives it a dry core of tannins that contrast with its rich black fruit. Drink from 2020. Saranty Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $45

89

Château d’Arce 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. This wine is soft, open and full of fruit. It has a tang of acidity as well as rich berry flavors and a supporting layer of tannin. Fine, smoky and structured, it will be easy to drink from 2019. Total Wine & More. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

89

Château de Belcier 2015 B de Belcier (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). This wine is very dry, dense and tough, the black fruit and acidity just peeping through. However, it should all come together from 2020. Vintage Imports, Inc. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $17

92

90

89

92

90

89

Château le Peyrat 2015 Bordeaux-style Red Blend (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). This wine is finely balanced—an impressive mix of ripe fruit and rich tannins. A smoky character envelops its rich blackberry and plum flavors, all underlined with tannins. It needs to age and will be best from 2020. Terroir Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

Château Tour Grand Mayne 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. Richly structured, this wine is dense and solid. It has swathes of ripe fruit, bold tannins and an impressive firm character. Its future is assured with its dense texture, black fruit and acidity all coming into place. Drink from 2021. A&B Wines & Spirits. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

Château de Brousse 2014 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. With Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominating the blend, this wine is as perfumed as it is structured. It shows elegance through its rich blackberry fruit and firm tannins. Concentrated and ready to drink from 2021. Saranty Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $45 Château du Pitray 2015 Premier Vin (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). This ripe, fruity wine has soft tannins and a generous, warm character that makes it already drinkable. Better, however, to wait until its full potential is realized, from 2019. Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

Château de Belcier 2015 Les Armoires de Belcier (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). Both ripe fruit and tannins come through strongly in this wine. It’s dense and richly layered, with black fruit and a firm texture. It shows fine potential now and is likely to age well. Drink from 2020. Vintage Imports, Inc. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $17 Château Pillebois 2015 Tradition (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). Big, bold tannins set this wine up with fine potential. It has structure and good concentration. Richly endowed with black fruit, it will age well. Drink from 2021. Franck’s Signature Wines. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

WINEMAG.COM | 247


BUYINGGUIDE

88

Château Castegens 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. Solid tannins mark this out as a wine that will need to age. Its structure dominates its black fruit, hiding it beneath a smoky, spicy character. Give it until 2020 before opening. Kysela Père et Fils. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

87

88

Château Côte Montpezat 2014 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. This lightly structured wine is all fruit. Its red berry flavors are already well integrated with the smoky tannins that form its core. It will, however, age quickly. Drink from 2019. Saranty Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $45

87

88

87

Château des Demoiselles 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. Solid tannins and rich fruit come together in this ripe, still-young wine. It has good potential, with bold black fruit and a dense, mineral texture. It will need several years for those tannins to soften. Drink from 2021. La Ville Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

88

Château la Brande 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. This wine is packed with crisp red currant fruit and plenty of acidity. Firm with tannins now, it will bring out more fruitiness as it develops. Ready to drink from 2019. Signature Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $19

Château de Monrecueil 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. Because this wine is still very young, it’s tough and dry. While it certainly has weight and a smoky character, it only hints at ripe fruit and will need time to unwind. Don’t drink it before 2021. Vintage Imports, Inc. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $17

Château des Demoiselles 2015 Réserve de Famille (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). This dense wine is dominated by tannins. However, rich fruit is also there beneath the structure, suggesting excellent potential. Drink from 2020. La Ville Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $29 Château la Mondette 2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. This juicy wine, with its black fruit, is finely balanced between ripe fruit and tannin. It has concentration without too much toughness, suggesting it will age quickly and be very drinkable from 2019. Fedway Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $10

87

Château Pillebois 2015 Vieilles Vignes (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). This ripe wine is attractively fruity. It has generous tannins that are balanced by black fruit. While not very powerful or dense, it’s easy and will be ready to open from 2019. Franck’s Signature Wines. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

CÔTES DE BOURG

88

Château Picoron 2015 Petit Picoron (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). This fine, perfumed wine is richly endowed with tannins and black fruit. It has good concentration as well: ripe and juicy, with its acidity and crisp texture in place. Drink from 2019. Wine Traditions. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $13

88

Château Terrasson 2015 Cuvée Prevenche (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). Ripe, aromatic red berry notes mingle with the wood flavors in this rich wine. It’s fruity yet backed by tannins and a dry core. All these elements mean it will need to age and will age well. Drink from 2020. LVC Las Vegas Inc. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $16

88

Château Tour d’Horable 2016 Merlot-Cabernet Franc (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux). This beautifully perfumed wine offers spicy Cabernet Franc notes and ripe red berry flavors. The tannins are still firm while not masking the spice, smokiness and blackberry fruit. For medium-term aging, from 2020. Mr. Wine. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $23

88

Château Tour Grand Mayne 2012 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. This soft wine is full of red fruit. It has a fine balance of acidity and gentle tannins. From the fruity 2012 vintage, it’s now ready to drink. A&B Wines & Spirits. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $15

248 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

by dry, solid tannins. It’s built to age, so drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $17

88

Château Haut la Pointe 2015 Côtes de Bourg. Richly structured, this is a wine with style and balance. It has plenty of firm tannins to contrasted with its juicy blackberry fruit. It needs some time to fill out. Drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $32

88

Château les Aubastons 2015 Côtes de Bourg. This is a soft and juicy wine with black currant fruitiness. Its wood aging is nicely judged, allowing its ripe character, acidity and black fruit to show through. The wine will be ready to drink from 2019. Mr. Wine. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $21

88

Château Noblet 2015 Côtes de Bourg. This estate, on the slopes above the city of Bourg has produced a firmly tannic wine. Structured and dense, its black currant fruit is juicy from acidity. A bitter coffee character gives it extra weight. Drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $18

88

Château Perthus 2015 Côtes de Bourg. This ripe and juicy wine is full of black currant fruit. The spice from wood aging is still upfront and needs to integrate. When it does, expect ripe fruit with a fine backdrop of structure and tannins. Drink from 2019. Advantage International. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $19

91

87

90

87

Château Moulin de Guiet 2015 Côtes de Bourg. Ripe and soft, this is a smooth, dense wine. Yes, it has plenty of tannins, but they’re smothered by the concentrated black fruit that gives it its generous, rich character. It’s likely to age well, so drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $25 Château Métairie Neuve 2015 Côtes de Bourg. From a 34-acre property that has vines both in Blaye and Bourg, this is concentrated, showing the ripe, generous fruit of the vintage. Still youthful, its blackberry juiciness lies behind its wood-aging flavors. Drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $20

90

Closerie du Bailli 2015 Grande Réserve (Côtes de Bourg). Powered by tannins and dense blackberry fruit, this is a rich, perfumed wine. It has structure and a solid texture that’s cut with acidity, feeling stylish and built to age further. Drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $40

89

Château Peugeais 2016 Vieilles Vignes (Côtes de Bourg). This concentrated wine is dry and dense, its blackberry fruit still dominated

Château Grand Bourgeau 2016 Côtes de Bourg. This ripe and spicy wine shows blackberry fruit and balanced wood aging. From selected parcels, it’s still young and will need time. Drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $15

Château Haut-Gelineau 2015 Côtes de Bourg. The ripe fruit of the vintage is really apparent in this firm wine. Its tannins and spicy character are contrasted with balanced black currant fruit and acidity. It will need some time, so drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $23

87

Château Haut la Pointe 2014 Côtes de Bourg. With 24% Cabernet Franc, this is a perfumed wine packed with juicy fruit and a fine smoky character. It offers black currant flavors and youthful spiciness. Drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $32

87

Château Haut-Mévret 2016 Côtes de Bourg. The young, berry fruit in this wine is bright, scintillating with acidity and black currant crispness. It’s structured and young, but the fruitiness will allow it to age quickly. Drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $22


87

Château le Piat 2014 Côtes de Bourg. This wine brings out the fruitiness of the vintage. Its bright red berry aromas presage the attractive fruit and juicy acidity. Wood aging gives it a dry core, although it is developing quickly. Drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $28

87

Château Noblet 2016 Côtes de Bourg. Red fruit aromas dominate this youthful wine. On the palate, it’s still tight, with fine red berry fruit flavors interlaced with tannins. The structure and acidity suggest it will age, so drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $18

87

Château Peychaud 2015 Côtes de Bourg. This wood-aged wine is seriously rich and powerful, with some bitterness from extraction. Dark chocolate flavors and firm tannins dominate it now; the fruit is there, but submerged. Give it until 2020 before opening. Advantage International. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $17

86

Château du Luc 2016 Côtes de Bourg. The spicy aroma and burnt toast character of this young wine reflects its strong wood aging. The black fruit is right behind though, likely to break through the dry surface over the next few months. Drink from 2019. Mr. Wine. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $24

86

Château Haut-Mévret 2015 Côtes de Bourg. This is one of a range of branded wines produced by the Alliance Bourg. It is ripe with red berry fruit and spicy tannins that are beginning to soften. Drink from 2018. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $21

BLAYE CÔTES DE BORDEAUX

91

Château Cap Saint-Martin 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This wine is rich, spicy and full of black fruit. With solid tannins alongside its juicy black currant flavors, it’s firm and will age well. Its density and richness are developing and will be best from 2020. Shoppers Vineyard. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $13

91

Château Chantemerle 2015 Tradition (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This wine is full of all the right elements, from juicy acidity to black currant fruit and a supporting layer of tannins. It has weight, concentration and delicious spice and berry flavors. Drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

91

Château Cône-Taillasson Sabourin 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This ripe, juicy wine is already attractive and perfumed. Its tannins and wood-aging flavors give weight to its fruit. Spicy and full of black cherry and berry flavors, it’s bold

and will be ready to drink from 2019. Wine and Beyond Imports. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

91

Château Gauthier 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Eucalyptus aromas add to the ripe fruit in this wine to give both structure and fine potential. With its black plum flavors, rich texture and warm character, it’s impressive and ready to age. Drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $25

91

Château Haut Peyrefaure 2015 Réserve (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Black cherry aromas are followed by rich black fruit, plum and damson flavors in this wine. There is plenty of juicy acidity here as well, with tannins to support the richness. Drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

91

Château la Croix Saint-Pierre 2015 Grande Réserve (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This bold, ripe wine is full of tannins as well as great fruit. Juicy with black currant flavors, smoky from wood aging and rich with tannins, it’s finely structured and ready to mature gently. Drink from 2021. Wines & Beyond Import. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $17

91

Château L’Escadre 2015 Grande Réserve (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This juicy, fruity wine has a great backup of tannins. It has a smoky character, along with black currant fruit, lending an attractive balance. That fruit that will develop well. Drink from 2020. Wines & Beyond Import. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $35

91

Château L’Escadre 2015 Tradition (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This wine is ripe and juicy, with delicious damson and berry fruit. Being rich and full bodied, it’s also densely textured, with smoky touches of wood from barrel aging. Drink from 2020. Wines & Beyond Import. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

91

Château Les Grands Maréchaux 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Initially firmly tannic, this opens to reveal fine blackberry fruit and fresh acidity. It’s a generous wine, the wood aging giving tannins and spice while the delicious fruit offers a rounder, smoother side. Drink from 2020. Touton Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $14

91

Château les Petits Arnauds 2015 Cuvée NonSulfité (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Although full of fruit, this no-sulfur-added wine is structured and concentrated. Big tannins back up the ripe character and generous fruit flavors. It’s likely to be ready to drink from 2021. Global Wine Group. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

91

Château Ricaud 2015 Quartet (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). New wood aromas set the scene for this ripe, fuity and toasty wine. It has plenty of black plum fruit, rich tannins and a dry core that will soften. The texture is polished and ripe. Drink from 2020. Noble Wines. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

90

Château Barbé 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Wood spice aromas are an indication this wine that has had serious oak aging. Along with the dense tannins and wood, there is, happily, some fruit that will develop as the structure softens. Drink this powerful wine with its rich berry fruit from 2021. Lompian Wines. Cellar Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $22

90

Château Chantemerle 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Generous tannins and blackberry fruit, along with a smooth texture all contribute to the richness of this broad, ripe wine. The 79% Merlot in the blend lends a generous character and the likelihood it will age quickly. Drink from 2018. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $25

90

Château du Vieux Puit 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Packed with spicy black fruit, this is a solid, dense wine. It has acidity and a crisp edge, although this is more than balanced by the ripe black plum flavors and generous tannins. Drink from 2019. Exclusive Imports, Inc. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

90

Château Dubraud 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. There’s a great balance of tannin and fruit in this wine. It has concentration and a bold structure that contrast with the black currant fruit and final acidity. It will develop slowly and well. Drink from 2021. Fine Terroirs LLC. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

90

Château Fredignac 2015 La Favorite (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This is a fruity, juicy wine with swathes of black currant and berry flavors. The tannins give a smoky, spicy character and add to the sense of richness. Drink from 2020. Matinicus Wines, LLC. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $27

90

Château Le Cap 2015 Excellence (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This wine is juicy and fruity, with generous tannins that support its ripe black fruit and balanced acidity. It has a smoky edge and will be ready to drink from 2020. Wines & Beyond Import. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $17

90

Château le Grand Moulin 2015 Collection Grande Réserve (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Wood aging gives this wine’s aroma its eucalyptus character. That perfume follows through to the finely structured palate, where oak flavors balance

WINEMAG.COM | 249


BUYINGGUIDE its delicious black plum fruit. It’s warm, ripe and stylish. Drink from 2020. Mr. Wine. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $25

come together. Drink from 2020. Global Wines Distribution. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

its black currant and berry fruit. Drink from 2020. Sierra Nevada Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $24

90

89

89

90

89

88

89

88

89

88

90

89

88

90

89

88

89

89

89

89

Château le Grand Moulin 2015 Prélude No. 15 (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Mint aromas from new oak aging and spice and toast notes on the palate are part of this young, firm-structured wine. It ’s powerful and dense, with great black fruit and acidity. A dry core of tannins indicates it will age. Drink from 2020. Mr. Wine. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $34

Château Les Petits Arnaud 2015 Tradition (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Big on tannins and equally big on ripe fruit, this is a rich wine. Its dense texture and bold blackberry flavors are coming together well. Drink from 2021. Wines & Beyond Import. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $13

90

Château les Petits Arnauds 2015 Cuvée Major (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Smoky wood flavors dominate this dense, wood-aged wine. It also has juicy red berry flavors and will be generous and very fine when mature. Drink from 2020. Schlossadler Inc. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $50

90

Château les Petits Arnauds 2015 Excellence (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Concentrated and smoky, this wine has plenty of black cherry and black currant fruit. Its firm tannins promise that aging that will make it a richly endowed wine. Drink from 2020. Wine and Beyond Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $17

Château Magdeleine Bouhou 2015 Boha (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Ripe fruit, juicy acidity and a fine balance of tannins give this wine great potential. It’s full of blackberry flavors as well as some solid, structured tannins. Drink from 2020. Sierra Nevada Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $17 Closerie du Bailli 2015 Grande Réserve (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This dense, tannic wine has spice and black fruit aromas that follow through on the palate, with new wood and black plum flavors. Concentrated and firm, it has fine potential. Drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $35 Château Berthenon 2015 Cuvée Henri (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This wine is soft and ripe, with juicy black fruit and fresh acidity over a background of firm tannins. A smoky edge adds to its attractiveness. Medallion Global. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $29

Château Clairac 2015 Grande Réserve (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Dark and firm on the one hand, this wine is also full of fruit. Blackberry flavors dominate, but tannins lend support with concentration and density. They just need time to

250 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Château Gardut Haut Cluzeau 2015 Cuvée Prestige (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Ripe and fruity, with delicious red berry flavors, this is an attractive wine now. It also has some firm tannins that will allow it to age. Drink from 2019. Domaine Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $23

Château Glorit 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Big, bold and spicy, this wine is ripe with black fruit. Tannins and a rich texture confirm its upfront style. Likely to take its time to develop, it will be ready to drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $35

Château Haut Sociondo 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This is a powerful wood-aged wine. Spice and toast aromas give it a firm character that will need to soften. Its black plum and berry fruit is upfront, with a juicy element that will fill out. Drink from 2020. Mr. Wine. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $25 Château Haut Sociondo 2015 Cuvée Prélude (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This wine’s red berry and mint aromas lead to a palate structurd with firm tannins and loaded with juicy fruits. Blackberry and black currant flavors give it great fruitiness. As it develops, they will integrate well. Drink from 2019. Mr. Wine. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $34

Château Jussas 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Juicy and rich, this is already developing quickly. Its blackberry fruit is supported by generous tannins, and its dry core offers smoky flavors. Drink this attractive wine from 2019. NGM Distribution. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

Château La Roche Bazin 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This finely structured wine is ripe and full of blackberry flavors, with a soft, rich texture. That suggests it will age relatively quickly and be ready to drink from 2019. Five Grapes. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $10 Château Labrousse 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This perfumed wine is firm with tannins that gives a spicy character. It has a dry core, a juicy aftertaste and rich blackberry fruit that will certainly develop as it matures. Give it some time and drink from 2021. Plume Ridge. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $8 Château Magdeleine Bouhou 2015 Grand Vin (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Smooth with polished new wood flavors and fine black fruit, this wine has good potential. Subtle tannins back up

Château Métairie Neuve 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. From a château that has vineyards in both Blaye and Bourg, this wine is redolent of black currant, both on the nose and on the palate. The wood and tannins lend support, giving plenty of space for the ripe fruitiness and juicy acidity. Drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $21 Château Bourdieu 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This smoky wine is full of wood and spice notes. Ripe fruit is also there, with some solid tannins to back it up. It will develop well. Drink from 2020. The Wine Source. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $9

Château Crusquet Sabourin 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Ripe and fruity, with delicious red berry flavors, this wine is attractive now. It also has some firm tannins built for aging, giving structure to the juicy fruit. Drink from 2019. Wines & Beyond Import. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18 Château Haut Bertinerie 2015 Grand Vin (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This wine is firm with powerful surface tannins. Underneath, its blackberry-like fruit is developing, bringing out spice, acidity and plenty of weight. Drink from 2020. DB Wine Selection. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $24

Château Haut Grelot 2015 Coteaux du Methez (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This wine is aromatic, spicy and likely to develop quickly. That shows in the fragrant black currant fruit and generous tannins. Its acidity should be fully integrated with the fruit and the wine ready to drink from 2019. Victory Wine Group. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $35 Château Haut Peyrefaure 2016 Bordeauxstyle Red Blend (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Ripe berry aromas set the scene for this balanced, juicy wine. Full of black currant and berry flavors, it’s already delicious with its fruitiness. The tannins, though, need to calm down somewhat, and the wine will be better from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $24

88

Château la Croix Saint-Pierre 2015 Tradition (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This perfumed wine is ripe with exuberant black fruit and hints of wood aging. It’s juicy with spice and pepper notes as well as bold red fruit. Drink from 2020. Wines & Beyond Import. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $13

88

Château l’Espérance 2015 Les Origines (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This ripe and spicy wine has fine tannins and smoky wood flavors


that balance its rich black fruit. That indicates it will age well—rich in both structure and fruit. Drink from 2020. Boivin Selections. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $10

88

Château Les Gatines 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This structured wine is firm with tannins and stalky black currant fruit. It’s dry, with a bitter edge from high extraction. A smoky character indicates aggressive wood aging and the need to soften further. Drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $28

88

Château les Jonqueyres 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This jammy wine has plenty of tannins, although they’re already fully integrated with the ripe red fruit. Fruity, perfumed and spicy, it finishes with fine acidity. Drink from 2019. Duclot La Vinicole. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $24

88

Château Mayne Guyon 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Ripe, fruity and dense, this wine has weight and richness. Concentrated with solid tannins, it has smoky flavors and ripe blackberry fruit. Give it until 2020 before drinking. Plume Ridge. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $8

88

Château Mayne Mazerolles 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This wine is firm, with dry, smoky tannins that underscore its rich black fruit, promising good aging potential. It will develop slowly and be ready to drink from 2021. Lionstone International. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $9

88

Château Peyredoulle 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This wine is ripe, juicy and full of attractive red berry flavors. Its acidity is balanced by firm, still-young tannins. It will be ready to drink from 2020. Advantage International. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $17

88

Château Ricaud 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This solid and dense wine is full of tannins as well as layers of wood and blackberry fruit. It has the potential to gain in richness as it develops. A smoky quality accents its black plum flavors. Drink from 2019. Noble Wines. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $13

88

Château Seguin 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Great black fruit aromas and a perfumed palate give this fruity wine a fine start. It has some firm tannins as well as juicy black currant fruit. Drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $22

88

Château Seguin 2015 Réserve (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). A toasty, spicy aroma reveals the wood-aging flavors that are still firmly in place in this wine. Underneath, there is fine, juicy black

currant fruit, crisp acidity and good potential. Drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $22

88

Château Tour Saint Germain 2015 Elégance (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). A spearmint aroma give this wine a fresh character. That enhances its berry fruit, spice and perfumed acidity. Drink from 2020. World Wide Wine LLC. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

87

Château Clos Mansio 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Blackberry jam aromas in this wine are followed by a lean palate and ample tannins. It’s tough at this stage, but as it opens, the fruit will come through to give damson jelly flavors. Drink from 2020. Demontoux Fine Wines. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

87

Château Gigault 2015 Cuvée Viva (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Rich and fruity, this wine is packed with blackberry and damson flavors. The firm tannins at the back are balanced, giving an attractive character that will be ready to drink from 2020. Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

87

Château Haut la Pointe 2016 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This ripe young wine, with its blueberry aroma and spicy palate, is dense and concentrated. It shows the richness of the vintage yet also offers juicy acidity to balance its black plum fruit. Drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

87

Château Haut la Pointe 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Spice and red berry aromas are followed by red currant fruit flavors, layers of tannins and juicy acidity. It has made the most of the ripe fruitiness of the vintage and will be ready to drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

87

Château Haut Millet 2016 Vieilles Vignes (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This is a young, fruity wine with black currant aromas and delicious, perfumed juicy blackberry fruit. It has all the ripeness of the vintage and the potential to age well. Drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $25

87

Château Haut Peyrefaure 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This Merlot-dominated blend is full of dense fruit, with a soft black currant flavor. A bite of tannin at the back gives structure and aging potential. Drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $24

87

Château Lacaussade Saint-Martin 2015 Trois Moulins (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Bright and fruity, this wine is attractive in black currant flavors. With its juicy balance of acidity and open fruit, it is developing quickly and will be ready from 2019. Lionstone International. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $10

87

Château Le Cap 2015 Tradition (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This ripe, juicy wine will develop quickly. Its tannins are there but already well integrated with the red cherry fruit and acidity. It’s bright and ready to drink from 2019. Wines & Beyond Import. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $NA

87

Château les Aubiers 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Produced from organically grown grapes, this Merlot-dominated wine is bright with red fruit and lined with tight tannins. It has the crisp edge of youth that will fill out with time. Drink from 2019. Mr. Wine. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $25

87

Château les Petits Arnauds 2015 Cuvée Amiral (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Juicy with fine berry fruit, this is an open wine that will develop quickly. With its attractive acidity and smoky character from wood aging, it has the potential to be a delicious wine. Drink from 2020. Wine and Beyond Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

87

Château l’Espérance 2015 Cuvée Trois Frères (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Red berry aromas signal an attractive wine that is fragrant and fruity yet has enough tannins to age. Drink from 2019. Boivin Selections. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

87

Château Terre Blanque 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This wine is firm, dense and packed with tannins. Juicy acidity lends a crisp character to its dominant black currant fruit. It will take time to soften, so drink from 2020. Lionstone International. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $9

87

Château Tour Saint Germain 2015 Cuvée Moulin (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Spice and damson flavors give this wine a fruity character. Add its smoky tannins and toasty layers, and it is a wine that needs to age. Drink from 2020. World Wide Wine LLC. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $13

86

Château Cailleteau Bergeron 2015 Tradition (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Smoky, toasty aromas set the scene for a wine that has obviously seen plenty of wood aging. At this stage, it’s all spice and wood, which will probably inhibit its development. Wait until 2020. Grand Pere Wines. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $17

86

Château Fleur de Plaisance 2015 Vieilles Vignes (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). This blend includes 70% Merlot and a small (2%) amount of Malbec. Ripe blackberry fruit dominates, but it also has structure. It’s likely to develop quickly and be ready to drink from 2019. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $17

WINEMAG.COM | 251


BUYINGGUIDE

86

Château Grand Bourgeau 2016 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This wine is smoky and juicy, with swathes of attractive black currant fruit. It’s lightly structured, crisp and likely to age quickly. Drink from 2018. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $15

86

Château Haut Canteloup 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. This fruity wine, with its blackberry fruit, is ripe, generous and developing fast. A fine juicy character bursts through its firm structure to give a crisp aftertaste. Drink from 2018. Mr. Wine. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $24

85

Château Berthenon 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Although this wine has structure and acidity, it’s lean, and the fruit seems to be missing. Spice and a smoky character give some pleasure. Drink from 2020. Medallion Global. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $19

85

Château Grand Bourgeau 2015 Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Dense and dry, this is a tough, extracted wine. It has a hard edge followed by juicy acidity and will probably remain on the dry side. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

85

Xavier Flouret 2015 Château Haut-Meneau Quai Lumière (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux). Bold with tannins, this spicy wine is dense and dark. It’s all structure and dryness at the moment. And, although the fruit is there, it looks as though the tannins will remain. Cognac One, LLC. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

CADILLAC CÔTES DE BORDEAUX

91

Château de Birot 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. This concentrated wine is solid with tannins. The fruit is evident from the fine acidity and hints of black plum that push through the wall of tannin. Give it time and drink from 2021. Wine Trust. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

91

Château de Birot 2015 Vintage (Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux). The wine has bold tannins, generous fruit and an excellent future. With its concentration and density, it needs time to soften. For now, the black fruit flavors are developing well, balanced with acidity and ripe tannins. Drink from 2021. K&L Wine Merchants. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $22

91

Château de Ricaud 2015 Grand Vin (Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux). This is a beautiful, ripe, soft, perfumed wine. Its intense berry fruit is well to the fore, backed by firm tannins. Packed with fruit and smokiness from wood aging, it has strong aging potential. Drink from 2020. Thiénot USA. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $33

252 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

91

Château La Rame 2015 La Charmille (Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux). This is a ripe, smoky wine with fine tannins and rich black fruit. Dense with black chocolate and damson flavors, it gives concentration and richness and will age well. Drink from 2020. Rosenthal Wine Merchant. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $21

91

Château Suau 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. This rich wine is already smoothly textured yet still has fine tannins that give aging potential. With its black fruit and acidity, it’s ripe, smoky and likely to be very drinkable from 2020. Kysela Père et Fils. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

91

Château Tanesse 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. Balanced and ripe, this is a rich wine. Its tannins and dark chocolate and wood flavors are deliciously balanced by ripe black fruit. It’s concentrated and dense and will age well. Drink from 2021. Serge Doré Selections. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

90

Château Baracan 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. The wine has fine, juicy fruit over smooth tannins. Its smoky flavors, touches of wood aging and rich tannic structure are integrating well. It will be ready to drink from 2020. AP Wine Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $17

90

Château de Lestiac 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. This distinctly woody wine’s eucalyptus perfume derives from its wood aging. Luckily, that quality shares space with black fruit and dark fruit tannins. Dense and powerful, it needs time. Drink from 2021. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

90

Château de Marsan 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. While this wine has obviously seen plenty of wood aging, it’s also full of dark blackberry fruit. Together, those qualities give density and structure, with acidity and fruitiness to match. Drink from 2021. Wineberry America LLC. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

90

Château de Ricaud 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. This generously structured wine is rich in tannins and fine, ripe black fruit. Its structure and juicy acidity will allow it to age well. Drink from 2020. Thiénot USA. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $16

90

Château Reynon 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. Strongly perfumed with new wood, this polished wine is rich, structured and packed with fruit. It has a fine, tannic character balanced by red berry fruit and fine acidity. Drink from 2020. AP Wine Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

88

Château de Cranne 2015 Dompter la Bête (Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux). This per-

fumed wine has firm tannins, a dry core and plenty of acidity. Its black currant fruit shows fine potential to give richness. Drink from 2020. USA Wine West. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $19

88

Château des Mille Anges 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. Although this seems initially austere, it has some fruit weight. Its tannins are dry and firm but will soften with time, showing potential for long, slow aging. Drink from 2020. Gabriella Importers Inc. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $24

88

Château du Cros 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. Structured and firm, with dense, dry tannins, this wine also has plenty of fruit. Black cherry flavors envelop its dry core, feeling rich and ready to drink from 2021. Vintner Select. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

88

Château Ducros 2015 Clos Bourbon (Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux). The wine is ripe and smooth, with rich if still dry tannins. Its juicy black fruit and acidity are balanced with a structure that will allow it to age further. Drink from 2019. Calvert Woodley Fine Wines & Spirits. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

88

Domaine les Carmels 2015 Les Vendanges (Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux). This ripe, jammy wine is all about fruit. Its red berry flavors burst from the glass and are gently backed by tannins. It is already attractive, ripe and full. Drink from 2019. Becky Wasserman Selections. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $35

87

Château Brethous 2015 Cuvée Prestige (Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux). This structured, smoky wine is also full of ripe berry fruit. It has a generous texture and a fine balance between fruit and tannins but is likely to age quickly. Drink from 2019. MHW, Ltd. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

87

Château Courrèges 2015 Cap de Fer (Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux). Juicy fruit tones are fully supported by firm tannins in this wine. They need time to integrate, though, so wait until 2020 before opening. Jeroboam Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

87

Château les Conseillans 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. This wine is dry and extracted, with firm, almost bitter tannins. Licorice and black chocolate flavors dominate. It will take several years for the fruit potential to show. Drink from 2021. Wine Traditions. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

86

Château du Vallier 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. The producer obviously likes wood aging, because this is a strongly toasty wine. It has dark coffee and licorice flavors as well as a


strong tannic character. It will need time to soften. Drink from 2020. Undiscovered Wines. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

85

Château Brethous 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. This wine is dry, structured and heavily extracted. That leaves a bitter note behind the fruit and acidity. It could have benefited from more gentle winemaking, and although it will soften with age, it will always be tough. Free Run Wine Merchants. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

85

Château de Fontenille 2015 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux. Bitter chocolate aromas and woody flavors are the hallmarks of this smoky, burnt toast-inflected wine. That bitter quality probably won’t go away, leaving the fruit behind. Craft + Estate–The Winebow Group. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $17

CÔTES DE BORDEAUX

92

Château Pilet 2015 Cuvée Prestige (Côtes de Bordeaux). Dusty tannins and ripe fruit set the scene for this wine, which is rich in both structure and black fruit. With its concentration, it is sure to develop well, likely to mature easily over several years. Drink from 2020. Integrity Wines LLC. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

and rich with blackberry and black currant fruit. Its structure lends weight while the juicy fruit and acidity show strongly. It will be a rich wine to drink from 2020. D & M New Management. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

and grapefruit flavors. They give both power and intensely crisp fruitiness, making this just now ready to drink. Wineberry America LLC. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $30

88

89

88

88

87

87

Château de Cranne 2015 7ème Génération (Côtes de Bordeaux). This dusty wine has weight and concentration. Fruit lies behind its firm facade, giving the potential for juiciness. Drink from 2019. Summit Selections. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

Château Haut-Rian 2015 Prestige (Côtes de Bordeaux). Red fruit aromas show strongly in this wine. With its juicy acidity and soft tannins, it has fine fruitiness and will age quickly. Drink from 2019. Galaxy Wine Company. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $28

Château le Doyenne 2015 Côtes de Bordeaux. With its strong aromatic character, this wine layers firm tannins and intense acidity. Underneath all this, there is some fine fruit potential, evoking ripe blackberries. Drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $22

87

Château Peneau 2015 Cuvée Tradition (Côtes de Bordeaux). This ripe, juicy wine is packed with red fruit. Its tannins are already soft, suggesting it will age quickly. With its crisp aftertaste and plenty of fruitiness, it will be best from 2019. Boivin Selections. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $17

Château Jolys 2015 Jurançon Sec. Fresh apple and honey aromas give this fruity wine a great start. With its acidity, spice, touch of honey and crisp white fruit, it’s delicious, perfumed and ripe. A full-bodied wine that’s a pleasure to drink now, with food. Baron Francois Ltd. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $17 Château de Jurque 2016 Fantaisie (Jurançon Sec). This wine is young—full of acidity and rich yellow fruit. A blend of Petit and Gros Manseng, it has the typical honeyed edge yet is bone dry. It will take time for its intense acidity to calm down, so drink from late 2018. Wineberry America LLC. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $18

Château de Jurque 2015 Fantaisie (Jurançon Sec). Perfumed, floral and bright, this blend of Petit and Gros Manseng is packed with crisp fruit and refreshing acidity. It has a touch of pepper from its richness that balances its mineral texture and final fruitiness. Wineberry America LLC. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $18

BERGERAC SEC

90

Château Pilet 2015 Alt. 120 Metres (Côtes de Bordeaux). This juicy, fruity wine has red berry fruit and gentle tannins. Although ripe, it’s not rich but attractive and likely to age quickly. Drink from 2019. Integrity Wines LLC. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $25

Château Tour des Gendres 2015 Contine Périgourdine Parcelle Le Jeanneton Muscadelle (Bergerac Sec). This aromatic, perfumed wine is deliciously fruity and crisp, with fine acidity and kiwi-like flavors. Its citrus and apple fruit is bright and lively, with plenty of spice and pepper in the texture. It’s ready to drink now but will be better in 2018. Martine’s Wines. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $29

90

85

90

90

85

91

Château Suau 2015 Côtes de Bordeaux. This smoky wine already shows a fine balance between oak, spice and bright red fruit. It’s structured to age but is also attractive now; its juicy berry flavors show easily through the tannins. Drink from 2019. Kysela Père et Fils. Editors’ Choice. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18 Château La Grange Clinet 2015 Côtes de Bordeaux. Rich, structured and juicy, this wine shows black fruit tones, with its firm tannins and fine acidity. It’s developing into a warm, ripe wine. Drink from 2020. Luneau USA Inc. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $18

Château les Conseillans 2015 Réserve du Pré carré (Côtes de Bordeaux). This rich, ripe and generous wine is full of blackberry fruit and tannin. It’s powerful, with a solid structure and fine fruitiness. As a result, it has good aging potential, so drink from 2020. Wine Traditions. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $12

89

Château de Cranne 2015 6ème Génération (Côtes de Bordeaux). This wine is firm and structured. It also has fine black fruit and balanced acidity. Full bodied, fruity and backed by solid tannins. Drink from 2019. Summit Selections. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $15

88

Château Chatard 2015 Côtes de Bordeaux. This firm and structured wine is also warm

87

Château de Cranne 2015 Château Jeandebout (Côtes de Bordeaux). This firm, structured wine is lean and austere. Spice and toast notes dominate, leaving little room for fruit. It’s a tough wine to like. USA Wine West. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $20

Château Sainte-Marie 2015 Alios (Côtes de Bordeaux). This wine is dry and smoky, with serious tannins. It is concentrated, with bitter chocolate flavors from the wood aging. Polaner Selections. Best Buy. —R.V. abv: NA Price: $10

SOUTHWEST FRANCE

Château Tour des Gendres 2015 Moulin des Dames Parcelle A296 Sauvignon Blanc (Bergerac Sec). Strongly herbal while also rich, this tangy, zesty wine shows no concessions in its expression of Sauvignon Blanc. Ripe and full of green plum and gooseberry flavors, it’s smooth and ready to drink now. Martine’s Wines. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $34

88

Château Tour des Gendres 2016 Cuvée des Conti (Bergerac Sec). This rich blend gets its ripe texture and warm pear and citrus flavors from 50% Sémillon. It has an attractive perfumed edge, with kiwi-like acidity and a peppery aftertaste. Drink from 2018. Martine’s Wines. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $17

JURANÇON SEC

92

Château de Jurque 2015 Emotion (Jurançon Sec). The golden richness of Petit Manseng is very evident in this dry wine. There are the hallmark hints of honey and hugely ripe citrus

JURANÇON

92

Château de Jurque 2015 Séduction (Jurançon). This wine envelopes the senses and coats the mouth with its honey and ripe yellow fruit

WINEMAG.COM | 253


BUYINGGUIDE flavors. It’s rich and unctuous yet has the acidity and poise typical of the vineyards in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains. Young now, it will age. Drink from 2019. Wineberry America LLC. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $32/500 ml

92

Château de Jurque 2014 Séduction (Jurançon). Beginning to mature, this rich wine with its beautiful honey and spice flavors is, as always with Petit Manseng, finely balanced with acidity. The texture is smooth and opulent, its mango fruit cut with lemon-like tang. Drink from 2018. Wineberry America LLC. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $32/500 ml

91

95

Jean-Luc Baldès 2013 Clos Triguedina The New Black Wine Malbec (Cahors). For full review see page 164. abv: 13% Price: $112

94

Château du Cèdre 2014 Le Cèdre (Cahors). Organically grown grapes go into this very fine wine. Its structure and balance confirm that it’s still young, bursting with juicy ripe berry fruit and with firm background tannins. Its great fruitiness is contrasted with the strength of those tannins and with its concentration. Drink from 2020. Martine’s Wines. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $55

Château Jolys 2015 Cuvée Jean (Jurançon). This late harvest wine shows both intense acidity and intense richness. Honey, perfumed lemon and ripe apple notes come together. Still young, it’s going to need time for the acidity to soften, so wait to drink until 2020. Baron Francois Ltd. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $29

93

89

93

Château de Jurque 2015 Tendresse (Jurançon). This blend of the two Manseng white grapes is full of late-harvest richness and intense acidity. It has a touch of honey, lemon curd sweetness and a light texture. It will be ready to drink from 2019. Wineberry America LLC. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $22

89

Château Jolys 2015 Jurançon. This honeyed white wine made from late-harvest grapes is both intensely rich and so fresh and crisp. Its acidity cuts through the ripe apricot and candied orange flavors, creating a balance that will allow it to age. Drink from 2019. Baron Francois Ltd. —R.V. abv: 12.5% Price: $22

CAHORS

95

Château du Cèdre 2014 GC (Cahors). This top wine from a major Cahors estate shows the potential of great Malbec. With its dense tannins, rich black fruit flavors, acidity and restrained power, it is a major force. Even with all its weight, it’s stylish, complex and ageworthy wine. Drink from 2021. Martine’s Wines. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $125

95

Château Haut-Monplaisir 2014 Pur Plaisir (Cahors). Since taking over a family estate in 1998, Cathy and Daniel Fournié have focused on making great wine with the help of their expert neighbors. This is the result. Produced from organic, low-yielding old vines and wood aged for nearly two years, the wine is concentrated and dense. Mint flavors show the new wood and give a polished edge to the black fruit. Powerful tannins and juicy acidity back up its fruitiness. This is a wine for long-term aging. Drink from 2023. Vintage ’59 Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $45

254 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Château du Cèdre 2014 Cahors. This wine is ripe in spicy black-currant aromas on the nose and intense in juicy black fruit on the dense palate. The rich, generous layers of fruit perfectly balance the tannins that build up to a harmonious whole. Still young, it will be best from 2019. Martine’s Wines. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $26 Château Haut-Monplaisir 2014 Prestige (Cahors). Wood aged and serious, this is a finely balanced wine. Its spice and toast notes are beginning to come together with its young, exuberant fruit and acidity. Black currant flavors dominate, giving it a crisp, juicy edge. Drink this impressive wine from 2021. Vintage ’59 Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $24

93

Château Ponzac 2015 Eternellement (Cahors). This serious, ageworthy wine is the top in the series of three wines from the Moinié estate. It’s powerful and perfumed, with rich dark chocolate and superripe black plum and berry flavors. The tannins are still firm, showing its considerable potential. Wait until at least 2021 before drinking. Kysela Père et Fils. —R.V. abv: 14.5% Price: $44

93

Château Saint-Didier-Parnac 2016 Prieuré de Cénac (Cahors). This wine comes from a selection of parcels on the plateau above the Lot river in Cahors. It’s rich and firm, with great wood and spice notes as well as exuberant black plum and berry fruit. With its acidity, still-young tannins and firm texture, it will age. Drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $25

93

Jean-Luc Baldès 2009 Clos Triguedina Probus Malbec (Cahors). For full review see page 168. abv: 14% Price: $68

92

Château Eugénie 2015 Cuvée Réserve de l’Aïeul (Cahors). With its spice and mint aromas, this wine shows its 30% new wood aging strongly. On the palate, the mint flavors balance with rich black fruit and a strong, firmly tannic

backbone. Rich and full of potential, it will be ready to drink from 2020. The Wine Company. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $25

92

Château Saint-Didier-Parnac 2016 Château de Grézels Prestige (Cahors). This wine is very young, with its bright purple color, spice and wood aromas and firm texture. Although the wood is still integrating, its ripe blackberry fruit and rich texture show it has great potential and needs to age. Drink from 2020. Misa Imports. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $21

91

Château Eugénie 2015 Cuvée Tsar Pierre le Grand (Cahors). Named after the 18th Century Russian tsar, Peter the Great, this wine is tannic and structured, with a fine balance of black fruit. The Merlot in the blend, which softens the Malbec, has also added a strongly rich and fruity character. Drink from 2019. The Wine Company. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $20

91

Jean-Luc Baldès 2014 Clos Triguedina Malbec (Cahors). For full review see page 174. abv: 13.5% Price: $34

90

Château Nozières 2015 Amrboise de l’Her (Cahors). This young wine is packed with firm tannins and juicy black plum fruit. Its structure of tannins, both from the fruit and from wood aging, gives it a rich texture. It’s spicy and ripe and needs some aging. Drink from 2020. USA Wine West. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $16

90

Château Ponzac 2015 Patiemment (Cahors). Grown on clay and chalk soil, this second wine in a series of three from the Moinié estate is intended for medium-term aging. With its dark color and solid tannins, it certainly needs time. However, its rich black fruit and acidity already show through that structure. Give it until 2019, and it will be ready to drink. Kysela Père et Fils. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $23

89

Château Haut-Monplaisir 2015 Tradition (Cahors). This very fine wine is rich in fruit, with a strongly mineral texture. It comes from the third terrace above the river Lot, where the clay and flint soil results in ripe fruit and balanced acidity. It will develop relatively quickly and be ready from 2019. Vintage ’59 Imports. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $17

88

Château du Caillau 2015 Cahors. This big and ripe wine with dense blackberry fruit is concentrated and still young. The firm tannins under its bold fruitiness still need to soften to give a rich and fruity wine. Drink from 2019. Aquitaine Wine Company. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $18

88

Château du Cèdre 2016 Extra Libre (Cahors). Produced from organically grown grapes and bottled without added sulfur, this wine is full of life.


With its juicy fruit and jammy texture, bursts with blackberry and black plum flavors. It’s likely to age quickly, so drink from 2018. Martine’s Wines. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $28

88

Domaine de Maison Neuve 2014 Elevé en Fût de Chêne (Cahors). This rich, wood-aged wine has become smooth after three years of aging. It’s rich, with fine, juicy black fruit, acidity and a core of tannins. It’s balanced, ripe and ready to drink. Paul M. Young Fine Wines. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $23

CENTRAL ITALY MONTEFALCO SAGRANTINO

94

89

Perticaia 2013 Montefalco Sagrantino. This opens with aromas reminiscent of stewed plum, dark culinary spice, espresso and a balsamic note. The assertive palate is still tightly wound, offering dried black cherry, raisin, licorice and tobacco set against taut, close-grained tannins. Drink 2020–2028. BelVino LLC. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $50

Jean-Luc Baldès 2014 Malbec du Clos (Cahors). For full review see page 181. abv: 13.5% Price: $17

Arnaldo Caprai 2012 25 Anni (Montefalco Sagrantino). Enticing and earthy, this opens with compelling aromas of truffle, tobacco, black-skinned fruit, menthol and a whiff of blue flower. The palate is both structured and elegant, delivering dried morello cherry, prune and pipe tobacco framed in taut fine-grained tannins that give it a firm velvety texture. It’s still tightly wound and needs time. Drink 2022–2032. Wilson Daniels Ltd. Cellar Selection. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $100

87

92

87

92

87

88

Château du Cèdre 2015 Chatons du Cèdre (Cahors). This second wine of Château du Cèdre is floral, with plenty of tannic structure and ripe, juicy black fruit. Drink from late 2018. Martine’s Wines. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $13

87

Château Haut-Monplaisir 2016 L’Envie (Cahors). Bottled without additional sulfur, this wine has a barnyard aroma. The ripe berry flavors on the palate show plenty of fruitiness, as well as spice and soft tannins. Drink from 2018. Vintage ’59 Imports. —R.V. abv: 14% Price: $28

87

Château Nozières 2015 Cahors. This wine is juicy, with ripe black fruit and tannins. It’s dry and structured, with spicy pepper and nutmeg notes. With its pure fruitiness and lack of wood aging, it’s likely to age quickly. Drink from 2019. USA Wine West. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $13

87

Château Ponzac 2015 Maintenant (Cahors). One of three wines from the Moinié family with different aging potentials and prices, this is the simplest. It’s fruity and made to be drunk young, with plenty of blackberry flavor. With its tannins, it will benefit from a few more months of age and be ready from 2018. Kysela Père et Fils. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $16

87

Jean-Luc Baldès 2013 Clos Triguedina (Cahors). This blend of Malbec, Merlot and Tannat is lean and austere—probably the effect of the vintage. That gives powerful tannins and less in the way of fruit. It’s firm, hinting at more juicy fruit but likely to remain dry and structured. Drink from 2018. Vineyard Brands. —R.V. abv: 13% Price: $34

86

Domaine de Maison Neuve 2014 Cahors. This wine is all about fruit. Balanced tannins and crisp, juicy acidity permeate its blackberry flavor. It has an attractive smoky character and finishes with dry tannins and stalky fruit. Drink now. Paul M. Young Fine Wines. —R.V. abv: 13.5% Price: $17

Arnaldo Caprai 2013 25 Anni (Montefalco Sagrantino). Plum, dark berry and bakingspice aromas slowly emerge on this full-bodied red. The taut spicy palate offers sour cherry, dried blackberry, ground clove and licorice set against a backbone of assertive but fine-grained tannins. It’s still young and primary. Drink after 2025. Wilson Daniels Ltd. —K.O. abv: NA Price: $100

Tenute Lunelli 2012 Carapace (Montefalco Sagrantino). Steeped plum, exotic spice, crushed mint and underbrush aromas take center stage. The palate is still youthfully austere, offering dried cherry, star anise and pipe tobacco framed in firm fine-grained tannins. Give it time to fully bloom. Drink after 2022. Palm Bay International. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $38

88

Arnaldo Caprai 2013 Collepiano (Montefalco Sagrantino). Aromas of prune, raisin and baking spice lead the nose. The youthfully austere, primary palate shows raisin and ground pepper alongside bracing tannins that clench the finish. Give the tannins another couple of years then drink to capture the remaining fruit. Wilson Daniels Ltd. —K.O. abv: NA Price: $50

Di Filippo 2013 Etnico (Montefalco Sagrantino). This opens with aromas of darkskinned fruit, baking spice and chopped herb while the assertive palate shows dried blackberry, prune and clove. It lacks richness while close-grained tannins grip the tight finish. Acid Inc Selections. —K.O. abv: NA Price: $NA

Goretti 2011 Montefalco Sagrantino. Weedy underbrush, salted game, exotic spice and cellar floor aromas are front and center. On the dense palate, oak-driven spice underscores baked plum while tightly-wound, grainy tannins provide assertive support. It’s still extremely tannic but drink sooner rather than later to catch the remaining fruit. Santini Wines. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $NA

91

Arnaldo Caprai 2012 Collepiano (Montefalco Sagrantino). Aromas of licorice, underbrush, scorched earth and a balsamic whiff of menthol develop in the glass. Firm but elegant, the structured palate offers dried Marasca cherry, spicy blackberry and ground clove set against taut closegrained tannins. Drink 2020–2028. Wilson Daniels Ltd. —K.O. abv: NA Price: $50

91

Cantina Fratelli Pardi 2013 Montefalco Sagrantino. Aromas of underbrush, baked plum, dried mint and a balsamic note emerge in the glass. Brawny and dense, the meaty palate delivers licorice, ripe black cherry, raisin and clove alongside chewy tannins. Drink 2018–2025. de Grazia Imports LLC. —K.O. abv: 15% Price: $NA

MONTEFALCO ROSSO

90

Tenute Lunelli 2013 Lampante Riserva (Montefalco Rosso). Aromas of forest floor, tilled earth, black-skinned fruit and dark spice lead the way. On the elegantly structured palate, notes of star anise and clove accent a core of dried black cherry and prune. Polished tannins provide lithe support. Drink through 2021. Palm Bay International. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $22

88

Tenute Lunelli 2014 Ziggurat (Montefalco Rosso). Exotic spice, plum, French oak and underbrush aromas lead the nose while the juicy palate offers espresso, raspberry jam and a hint of star anise. It’s chewy, with close-grained tannins. Palm Bay International. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $17

90

Antonelli 2010 Passito (Montefalco Sagrantino). Aromas of plum cake, chocolate and crushed mint jump out of the glass on this dense dessert wine. The syrupy concentrated palate doles out raisin, licorice, candied almond and marzipan alongside velvety tannins. Drink this after the meal as a meditation wine. Omniwines Distribution. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $NA

ORCIA

92

Donatella Cinelli Colombini 2013 Cenerentola Rosso (Orcia). Made with 65% Sangiovese and 35% Foglia Tonda, this fragrant fullbodied red offers aromas of new leather, purple flower, espresso, exotic spice and a balsamic note. The round polished palate boasts structure and

WINEMAG.COM | 255


BUYINGGUIDE elegance, delivering ripe black cherry, blackberry, cinnamon and licorice framed in velvety enveloping tannins. Drink through 2023. Banville Wine Merchants. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $47

fleshy morello cherry, cinnamon and star anise alongside polished tannins. It’s not very complex but it is delicious. Empson USA Ltd. —K.O. abv: NA Price: $17

drinking palate offers red currant, raspberry jam and white pepper. It’s meant to be enjoyed young so drink soon. Leonardo LoCascio Selections–The Winebow Group. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $15

92

89

86

91

86

86

Roberto Mascelloni 2013 Arcere (Orcia). A blend of 87% Sangiovese, 10% Foglia Tonda and Merlot, this delicious red offers aromas of blue flower, wild berry, new leather and forest floor. The round enveloping palate doles out raspberry jam, fleshy black cherry, chopped herb and star anise alongside velvety tannins. It closes on a zesty, orangepeel note. Drink through 2019. Siena Imports. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $35 Capitoni 2010 Orcia. A blend of 90% Sangiovese, 8% Canaiolo and 2% Colorino, this has earthy aromas of truffle, sunbaked soil, leather and a balsamic note. Round and savory, the smooth, polished palate tastes of raspberry jam, ripe black cherry, licorice and a hint of pipe tobacco. Velvety enveloping tannins provide the framework while a dried herb note accents the finish. Enjoy through 2022. Zancanella Importing Co. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $29

90

Roberto Mascelloni 2013 01 (Orcia). Aromas of underbrush, dark-skinned fruit and a whiff of oak lead the nose. The succulent palate presents black plum, fleshy morello cherry, cinnamon and a hint of mocha alongside pliant tannins and zesty acidity. It’s easy drinking, vibrant and delicious. Drink through 2018. Siena Imports. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

89

SassodiSole 2015 Rosso (Orcia). Here’s a savory enjoyable red that opens with fruity aromas of wild berry, pressed blue flower and a whiff of culinary spice. The round juicy palate offers fleshy red cherry, crushed raspberry and a note of star anise alongside chewy tannins. It has an open, sunny charm. Medallion Global. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $35

88

Trequanda 2012 Riserva (Orcia). Classic Sangiovese aromas of violet, plum, red berry and a whiff of baking spice float from the glass. Round and medium-bodied, the palate doles out ripe morello cherry and raspberry jam while a hint of licorice signals the finish. Dash Wine Imports. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $30

VENETO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE

90

Speri 2015 La Roverina (Valpolicella Classico Superiore). Made with organically grown grapes, this single-vineyard bottling opens with enticing scents suggesting pressed violet, woodland berry, a potpourri of culinary spices and a balsamic note. Round and juicy, the smooth palate offers

256 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Monte del Frà 2015 Lena di Mezzo (Valpolicella Classico Superiore). Aromas of smoke, grilled herb, scorched earth and eucalyptus lead the nose. While it shows the heat of the vintage, it also has elegance, offering dried black cherry, fig licorice and clove. A hint of almond wraps up the finish while velvety tannins provide supple support. Drink soon to capture fruit and freshness. Vision Wine & Spirits. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $20

Tommasi 2015 Rafaèl (Valpolicella Classico Superiore). Red bery, chopped herb and ground clove aromas carry over to the light-bodied simple palate. Lightly-knit tannins provide the easygoing framework. Enjoy soon. Vintus LLC. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $16

VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE

88

Gino Fasoli 2015 Tasi (Valpolicella Superiore). This opens with delicate aromas of black berry and baking spice while the savory palate offers red currant, black cherry and a touch of clove. Round tannins provide polished support. Enjoy soon. M&M Wine Import. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $34

Corte Adami 2015 Valpolicella Superiore. This opens with aromas of bell pepper, French oak and exotic spice. The aromas carry over to the palate along with prune, vanilla and a confectionery framed in close-grained tannins. The fruit is already drying up so drink sooner rather than later. Dionysos Imports Inc. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $17 Santi 2015 Ventale (Valpolicella Superiore). Aromas of black plum, vanilla and a whiff underbrush lead the nose. Made with 80% Corvina, 10% Corvinone and 10% Rondinella, the light-bodied palate shows blackberry jam, clove and a hint of cocoa alongside loose-knit tannins. Drink soon. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. —K.O. abv: 13% Price: $14

86

Tedeschi 2014 Maternigo (Valpolicella Superiore). Aromas of forest floor, grilled herb, steeped prune and a balsamic note carry over to the palate, along with a hint of salted game. It’s on the lean side in terms of fruit, with vivacious acidity and soft tannins. Dreyfus, Ashby & Co. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $NA

VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO

87

90

87

89

Ca’ Rugate 2015 Campo Lavei (Valpolicella Superiore). Here’s a concentrated Valpolicella that opens with aromas of new leather, truffle, French oak and a balsamic note. The firm palate shows raisin, fig and oak-driven spice alongside close-grained tannins. Drink soon to capture the remaining fruit and freshness. Massanois Imports. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $21

Tedeschi 2015 Capitel Nicalò (Valpolicella Superiore). Charred earth, toast, underbrush and roasted nut aromas come together on this. The palate shows the heat of the vintage, offering raisin and clove alongside close-grained tannins. Drink sooner rather than later to capture the remaining fruit. Dreyfus, Ashby & Co. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $NA

87

Trabucchi d’Illasi 2013 La Gardellina (Valpolicella Superiore). Made with organic grapes and without added sulfites, this has subtle, earthy aromas of ripe black plum and tilled soil. The straightforward palate doles out orange zest, red currant jam and clove alongside polished tannins. Enjoy through 2021. Caroline Debbané Selections. —K.O. abv: 13% Price: $35

87

Zenato 2016 Valpolicella Superiore. Made with 85% Corvina, 10% Rondinella and 5% Corvinone, this opens with aromas of red-skinned berry, clove and a hint of smoke. The savory, easy-

Monte del Frà 2016 Lena di Mezzo (Valpolicella Classico). Aromas of cassis and black pepper follow through to the light-bodied but savory palate along with juicy black cherry, crushed raspberry and star anise. Supple tannins give it an easy-drinking texture. Enjoy soon. Vision Wine & Spirits. Editors’ Choice. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $16 Masi 2016 Bonacosta (Valpolicella Classico). Made with 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara, this opens with inviting aromas of red-skinned berry and baking spice. The easygoing juicy palate delivers red cherry, raspberry and a touch of white pepper alongside smooth tannins fresh acidity. Enjoy soon to catch the fruity richness. Kobrand. —K.O. abv: 12% Price: $15

88

SalvaTerra 2015 Valpolicella Classico. Aromas of tobacco, scorched earth and grilled herb lead the nose. Smooth and juicy, the palate doles out fleshy wild cherry, cassis and cracked pepper alongside polished tannins. It closes on a smoky note. Conexport Italy. —K.O. abv: 13% Price: $17

87

Le Salette 2016 Valpolicella Classico. Made with Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinara, this offers aromas of violet, red-skinned


berry and nutmeg. The bright, straightforward palate offers red cherry, raspberry and clove alongside silky tannins and refreshing acidity. Enjoy soon. Vias Imports. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $NA

zest and clove alongside smooth tannins. Enjoy soon. International Cellars. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $16

86

Domìni Veneti 2016 Valpolicella Classico. Aromas of clove and prune follow over to the simple palate along with dried cherry and ground pepper. It’s easygoing, with soft tannins. Drink soon. Domini Veneti USA. —K.O. abv: 13% Price: $NA

Tenuta Casaletti 2016 Valpolicella. The nose is rather shy but eventually shows earthy aromas of grilled herb, charcuterie and ground clove. The aromas follow over to the juicy, rather rustic palate along with red cherry and a funky hint of game. It’s easy drinking, with loose, somewhat fleeting tannins. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $NA

85

85

85

Villabella 2016 Valpolicella Classico. This has fruity aromas of red cherry that carry over to the light-bodied no-frills palate along with a peppery note. It’s simple, with easygoing, rather fleeting tannins. Gonzalez Byass USA. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $19

VALPOLICELLA

90

Allegrini 2016 Valpolicella. For full review see page 177. abv: 13% Price: $17

89

Gino Fasoli 2016 La Corte del Pozzo (Valpolicella). A blend of organically cultivated Corvina, Rondinella and Corvinone, this has enticing aromas of red berry and fragrant blue flower. The juicy palate offers red cherry, red currant and a hint of green pepper alongside smooth tannins and fresh acidity. Enjoy soon. M&M Wine Import. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $28

88

Valentina Cubi 2015 Iperico (Valpolicella). This is everything a Valpolicella should be: fresh, savory and incredibly easy to drink. Made with organically grown Corvina and Rondinella, it offers aromas and flavors of cherry, crushed raspberry and a sprinkling of baking spice alongside pliant tannins. Drink soon. Votto Vines Importing. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $30

87

Acinum 2016 Valpolicella. Dark-skinned berry and culinary spice aromas float from the glass. The straightforward savory palate evokes black cherry, cassis and ground clove accompanied by polished tannins. Vias Imports. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $NA

87

Corte Giara 2016 Valpolicella. This bright, easy-drinking red offers aromas and flavors of wild cherry, crushed raspberry and freshly ground pepper. It’s fresh and enjoyable, with soft tannins. Drink soon. Innovino International. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $15

87

Villa Canestrari 2016 Terre di Lanoli (Valpolicella). This opens with delicate aromas of red-skinned berry and baking spice. Straightforward and tangy, the palate offers raspberry, citrus

port. Drink through 2020. Prestige Wine Imports Corp. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $19

Dal Cero Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe 2015 Valpolicella. Light bodied and ideal for everyday fare, this has flavors of dried cherry, ground black pepper and a hint of clove. It’s simple and easygoing, with soft tannins. Wine Universe Corp. —K.O. abv: 13% Price: $19

VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE RIPASSO

88

Albino Armani 2015 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso. Aromas of black-skinned berry and exotic spice set the tone on this blend of Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella. The dense palate delivers ripe black cherry, clove and a touch of white pepper alongside smooth tannins. Enjoy through 2021. Mise. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $20

88

Le Salette 2015 I Progni (Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso). This opens with aromas of ripe black-skinned berry, leather and a whiff of vanilla. The dense palate offers sour cherry, clove, tobacco and a touch of orange zest alongside smooth tannins. Enjoy through 2021. Vias Imports. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $NA

88

Monte Santoccio 2015 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso. Aromas of black plum, licorice and tobacco lead the nose. The savory juicy palate delivers black cherry, nutmeg and white pepper alongside fine-grained tannins. Enjoy through 2021. The Wine Trust. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE RIPASSO

90

Gino Fasoli 2015 Valpo (Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso). Alluring aromas of blackskinned berry, leather and tobacco lead the nose on this robust red. The concentrated, richly textured palate shows red cherry, prune and vanilla with a hint of orange zest. Velvety tannins provide support. Enjoy through 2022. M&M Wine Import. —K.O. abv: 15.5% Price: $80

88

Cecilia Beretta 2015 Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso. A blend of 60% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Corvinone and 10% Negrara, this offers delicate aromas suggesting black-skinned berry and cooking spice. The firm palate evokes blackberry jam, tobacco and green pepper alongside smooth tannins. Enjoy through 2021. Casa Bruno. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $29

88

Pasqua 2015 Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso. Made with 60% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Corvinone and 10% Negrara, this opens with subtle aromas of black-skinned fruit and underbrush. The savory easy-drinking palate doles out black currant, clove and a hint of tobacco alongside round tannins. Enjoy through 2021. Pasqua USA LLC. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $35

87

Monte Tondo 2015 San Pietro (Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso). Aromas of ripe blackberry, vanilla and a whiff of toasted oak lead the nose. The straightforward palate evokes mature black cherry, mocha and spice alongside firm tannins. Drink through 2020. August Wine Group. —K.O. abv: 13% Price: $20

VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO

89

Bolla 2014 Le Poiane (Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso). This has subtle aromas of raisin, toast and underbrush while the straightforward palate shows ripe black cherry, fig and mocha. Rounded tannins give it an easy-drinking structure. Enjoy through 2020. Banfi Vintners. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $18

Gino Fasoli 2015 Tasi (Valpolicella Ripasso). A blend of 40% Corvina, 40% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta, this opens with aromas of blackberry, raisin and toasted almond. The rich approachable palate offers concentrated black cherry, red plum and a touch of cinnamon alongside supple tannins. Enjoy through 2021. M&M Wine Import. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $45

87

88

87

Luigi Righetti 2014 Campolieti (Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso). Delicate aromas of black-skinned berry, raisin and cooking spice lift out of the glass. On the straightforward palate, hints of vanilla and licorice add interest to ripe black cherry while pliant tannins provide easygoing sup-

Gino Fasoli 2015 La Corte del Pozzo (Valpolicella Ripasso). Aromas of prune, raisin and graphite come together in this wine. The ample palate delivers blackberry, clove and orange peel alongside chewy tannins. Enjoy through 2020. M&M Wine Import. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $39

WINEMAG.COM | 257


BUYINGGUIDE

87

Montresor 2015 Acinum (Valpolicella Ripasso). A blend of 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% Molinara, this has aromas of black-skinned berry, cooking spice and underbrush. The dense palate delivers blackberry jam, vanilla and clove alongside tightly wound tannins. Drink through 2021. Vias Imports. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $18

87

Valentina Cubi 2014 Arusnatico (Valpolicella Ripasso). Made with organically grown Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, this opens with aromas suggesting black plum, baking spice and a touch of ginger. The vivacious palate shows raspberry jam, clove and white pepper alongside rather assertive tannins. Enjoy soon. Votto Vines Importing. —K.O. abv: NA Price: $38

BARDOLINO CHIARETTO

90

Le Fraghe 2016 Rodon (Bardolino Chiaretto). Made with organically grown grapes and using EU-certified organic cellar practices, this delicious rosato opens with aromas of fragrant wild flower, woodland berry and baking spice. The fresh savory palate offers strawberry, yellow peach, cinnamon, herb and a hint of fennel alongside crisp acidity. A salty mineral note drives the finish. More about mineral energy than fruit, it’s a rosé for grown-ups. Editors’ Choice. —K.O. abv: NA Price: $NA

89

Gorgo 2016 Bardolino Chiaretto. A blend of Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, this savory rosato offers red cherry, white pepper and nutmeg flavors alongside tangy acidity. A saline note energizes the tangy finish. It’s straightforward but savory, with a hint of fennel on the close. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $NA

87

BARDOLINO

94

Le Fraghe 2015 Brol Grande (Bardolino). Showing Bardolino’s more serious side, this delicious red opens on aromas of wild berry, pressed blue flower, spice and a balsamic note. With a blend of Corvina and Rondinella, the elegant, well-structured palate delivers morello cherry, black pepper and clove. Refined tannins provide the polished framework. Drink through 2019. Oliver McCrum Wines. Editors’ Choice. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $20

92

Monte del Frà 2016 Bardolino. Aromas of ground black pepper and wild berry lead the way. The juicy delicious palate mirrors the nose, doling out succulent Marasca cherry, crushed raspberry and cinnamon. Easygoing and balanced, it boasts supple tannins and fresh acidity. It’s made to be drunk young so enjoy soon. Vision Wine & Spirits. Editors’ Choice. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $15

90

Le Fraghe 2016 Bardolino. Bright, savory and so easy to drink, this charming red opens with a fragrance of freshly picked red berries and baking spices. Reflecting the nose, the fresh, polished palate doles out wild cherries, strawberries, cinnamon and white pepper framed in silky tannins. Serve slightly chilled for a perfect summer red. Enjoy soon. Oliver McCrum Wines. Editors’ Choice. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $17

88

Albino Piona 2016 Bardolino. Aromas of berry, dark spice and a whiff of grilled herb lift out of the glass. It’s light bodied and savory, with strawberry, red cherry, black pepper and clove flavors set against lithe tannins. Drink soon. VOS Selections. —K.O. abv: 13% Price: $17

Albino Piona 2016 Bardolino Chiaretto. This has subdued aromas suggesting beeswax and toasted almond. The straightforward palate offers apple and white cherry alongside tangy acidity. VOS Selections. —K.O. abv: 12% Price: $15

88

86

87

Massimo Ronca 2016 Bardolino Chiaretto. Sour cherry, apple and a hint of bakingspice aromas carry over to the easygoing palate along with a confectionery note. It’s bright and simple, with fresh acidity. Eagle Eye Brands. —K.O. abv: 11% Price: $NA

85

Sartori 2016 Bardolino Chiaretto. Red berry white pepper and saline aromas carry through to the simple light-bodied palate along with a hint of almond. It’s fresh and easy drinking, with bright acidity. Enjoy soon. Banfi Vintners. —K.O. abv: 12% Price: $18

258 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Gorgo 2016 Bardolino. Fruity and fresh, this enjoyable red has aromas of red berry and dark spice. Mirroring the nose, the soft, bright palate doles out ripe red cherry and white pepper alongside smooth, supple tannins. Drink soon. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $NA Corte Fornello 2016 Bardolino. Strawberry, white pepper and blue flower aromas segue over to the bright palate along with juicy wild cherry and a hint of clove. It’s straightforward and savory, with smooth tannins. Drink soon. Zanotti Imports. —K.O. abv: 12.5% Price: $21

87

Guerrieri Rizzardi 2016 Tacchetto (Bardolino). A blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Merlot, this has aromas reminiscent of blackskinned berry, wild cherry and white pepper. The supple, vibrant palate delivers black currant, clove

and a touch of pomegranate alongside smooth tannins. Enjoy soon. AP Wine Imports. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $23

87

Massimo Ronca 2016 Bardolino. Black pepper, wild cherry and charred-earth aromas follow over to the light-bodied palate along with a hint of salt. It’s lively and enjoyable, with lithe tannins. Drink soon. Eagle Eye Brands. —K.O. abv: 12% Price: $16

86

Aldegheri 2016 Tenuta Villa Cariola (Bardolino). Aromas of charcuterie, smoke and grilled herb lead the nose. On the simple palate, a note of white pepper accents a red-berry core. It’s easy drinking, with fresh acidity and soft tannins. Tavolo Vigneto. —K.O. abv: 12% Price: $17

PIEDMONT BARBERA D’ASTI SUPERIORE

90

Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta 2015 Sant’Emiliano (Barbera d’Asti Superiore). For full review see page 179. abv: 15% Price: $33

88

Cà Bianca 2013 Chersi (Barbera d’Asti Superiore). Aromas suggesting tilled soil, sage and black-skinned fruit come together in the glass. On the firm palate, close-grained tannins support mature black plum, clove and a touch of star anise. Drink through 2020. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $29

87

Villa Fiorita 2013 Barbera d’Asti Superiore. This has subdued aromas suggesting blackskinned fruit and baking spice. The straightforward palate evokes raspberry jam, clove and a hint of star anise alongside supple tannins. Enjoy soon. Decanto Wines. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $25

87

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2009 Insynthesis (Barbera d’Asti Superiore). This has subtle aromas evoking cocoa, black plum and leather while the evolved palate shows prune, vanilla and a hint of orange zest. Smooth tannins provide loose support. Drink soon. Ionia Atlantic Imports, LLC. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $70

BARBERA D’ASTI

90

Bava 2015 Libera (Barbera d’Asti). Aromas of black-skinned berry, violet and underbrush lift from the glass. The juicy lively palate presents red cherry, crushed raspberry and a hint of truffle set against fresh acidity and polished tannins. Enjoy through 2022. Grapes and Greens. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $24


88

Guido Berta 2015 Barbera d’Asti. This opens with aromas of red-skinned berry, black plum and baking spice. Reflecting the nose, the bright palate delivers black currant, white pepper and star anise alongside fresh acidity and round tannins. Enjoy through 2019. Massanois Imports. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $16

88

Villa Fiorita 2011 Il Giorgione (Barbera d’Asti). This opens with delicate aromas suggesting mocha, black-skinned berry and vanilla. The dense palate delivers black currant jam, clove and tobacco alongside taut tannins. Enjoy through 2020. Decanto Wines. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $50

BAROLO

97

Brovia 2013 Rocche di Castiglione (Barolo). Here’s another stunning offering from this fantastic estate. Elegant, structured and restrained, it opens with enticing Nebbiolo scents of blue flower, perfumed berry, dark spice and a light balsamic note of eucalyptus. The luminous palate delivers juicy red cherry, raspberry, licorice and cinnamon while vibrant acidity and firm, polished tannins provide seamless support. Drink 2023–2043. Rosenthal Wine Merchant. Cellar Selection. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $96

96

Paolo Scavino 2011 Rocche dell’Annunziata Riserva (Barolo). Aromas of mature iris, blackberry, tobacco, crushed mint and baking spice lift out of the glass on this gorgeous Barolo. Despite the scorching heat, the Scavino made a supremely elegant wine, boasting black cherry, crushed black raspberry, menthol, star anise and ground clove framed in fine-grained, velvety tannins and fresh acidity. A gorgeous wine. Drink 2020–2031. Skurnik Wines, Inc. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $170

95

La Spinona 2012 Bergera (Barolo). For full review see page 164. abv: 13.5% Price: $38

95

Manzone 2013 Fraschin Bricco San Pietro (Barolo). Fragrant blue flower, woodland berry, dark spice and pine forest aromas lead the way. It’s racy, focused and loaded with chiseled finesse, delivering juicy red cherry, crushed cranberry, cinnamon and star anise. Tightly knit, refined tannins and firm acidity provide the backbone. Drink 2023–2033. Undiscovered Wines. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $48

95

Mirafiore 2007 Riserva (Barolo). Gorgeous and smooth, this elegant, 10-year-old red boasts aromas of new leather, tilled soil and pipe tobacco. The polished and structured palate delivers creamy black cherry, star anise and clove framed in refined tannins. It’s a remarkable performance

for what was an extremely hot vintage. Best through 2023. Domaine Select Wine & Spirits. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $135

94

95

Paolo Scavino 2013 Bricco Ambrogio (Barolo). What a fabulous vintage for this fragrant, radiant wine. Opening with alluring scents of iris, rose, culinary spice and perfumed berry, the focused palate delivers crushed strawberry, red cherry, cinnamon and star anise. It’s loaded with finesse, thanks to firm ultrarefined tannins and bright acidity. Drink 2022–2033. Skurnik Wines, Inc. Cellar Selection. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $59

94

95

94

Sobrero 2013 Ciabot Tanasio (Barolo). Classic Nebbiolo aromas of wild berry, rose petal, baking spice and an earthy whiff of truffle emerge in the glass. The elegant vibrant palate mirrors the nose, delivering juicy Marasca cherry, raspberry compote, pipe tobacco and cinnamon alongside firm, refined tannins and fresh acidity. It’s a textbook Barolo that will benefit from a few more years in the cellar. Drink 2023–2033. Domenico Valentino. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $52

94

Attilio Ghisolfi 2013 Bricco Visette (Barolo). For full review see page 165. Cellar Selec-

tion. abv: 14.5%

Price: $90

94

Batasiolo 2013 Bussia Vigneto Bofani (Barolo). Earthy aromas of truffle, tilled soil, leather and forest berry merge with pressed rose petal and a whiff of game. Smooth, structured and savory, the poised palate delivers crushed strawberry, juicy Marasca cherry, clove and licorice. Firm polished tannins and fresh acidity provide support. Drink 2020–2030. Total Beverage Solution. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $79

94

Ciabot Berton 2012 Rocchettevino (Barolo). Iris, pressed rose, pine forest, woodland berry and a balsamic note are just some of the inviting aromas you’ll find on this delicious wine. The smooth concentrated palate doles out layers of raspberry compote, juicy Marasca cherry, cinnamon and clove framed in velvety tannins. A salty mineral note lingers on the finish. Drink through 2027. Specialty Cellars. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $66

94

Elvio Cogno 2011 Ravera Vigna Elena Riserva (Barolo). Forest floor, grilled herb, dark spice, eucalyptus and wild berry aromas fill the glass. The structured palate delivers dried black cherry, crushed raspberry, licorice, sage and pipe tobacco while taut noble tannins provide impressive support. It’s savory and full bodied but also boasts an irresistible, almost weightless elegance. Drink 2020–2030. Wilson Daniels Ltd. —K.O. abv: 15% Price: $130

La Spinona 2011 Sorì Gepin (Barolo). For full review see page 166. Editors’ Choice. abv: 14.5% Price: $38 Paolo Scavino 2013 Barolo. Enticing scents of iris, violet, menthol and exotic spice emerge in the glass. Elegant and fresh, the polished, delicious palate delivers juicy Marasca cherry, crushed raspberry and a potpourri of baking spices. It’s beautifully balanced, with bright acidity and silky smooth tannins. While it’s already accessible, it will also age for years. Drink 2018–2028. Skurnik Wines, Inc. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $47

Rivetto 2011 Leon Riserva (Barolo). Menthol, new leather, white pepper, fig and forest floor are just some of the aromas you’ll find on this fantastic wine. Smooth and structured, the fullbodied palate evokes dried cherry, licorice, baking spice, raspberry compote and a salty mineral note. Firm polished tannins provide smooth seamless support. Drink through 2031. Esprit du Vin. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $75

93

Borgogno 2012 Liste (Barolo). Iris, crushed herb, red berry, exotic spice and balsamic aromas lift out of the glass while the polished palate offers juicy Marasca cherry, cinnamon and a sprinkling of clove. Fine-grained tannins offer elegant support. Drink 2019–2027. Domaine Select Wine & Spirits. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $NA

93

Grimaldi Bruna 2011 Badarina Riserva (Barolo). Intense aromas of menthol, pressed rose, dark spice, new leather and wild berry take shape on this fragrant full-bodied red. Concentrated and structured, the dense palate delivers Marasca cherry marinated in spirits, licorice and a hint of exotic spice framed in firm refined tannins. Massanois Imports. —K.O. abv: 15% Price: $120

93

Poderi Colla 2013 Bussia Dardi Le Rose (Barolo). Truffle, underbrush, new leather and chopped herb aromas slowly emerge in the glass. The bright, elegantly structured palate delivers tart cherry, licorice and tobacco alongside vibrant acidity and tightly wound noble tannins. It’s still youthfully austere so give it time to develop. Drink 2023–2033. Montcalm Wine Importers. Cellar Selection. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $80

93

Revello Fratelli 2013 Gattera (Barolo). Intensely floral scents of fragrant blue flower and rose mingle with red berry and a whiff of dark spice. On the elegant, structured palate, star anise and cinnamon accent juicy Marasca cherry and crushed raspberry. Firm refined tannins and bright acidity provide seamless support. It’s savory and loaded with finesse. Drink 2023–2035. de Grazia Imports LLC. Cellar Selection. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $55

WINEMAG.COM | 259


BUYINGGUIDE

93

Sordo 2013 Perno (Barolo). Leather, licorice and balsamic aromas slowly take shape in the glass. Full bodied and taut, this delivers dried black cherry, mature raspberry, star anise and clove set against fresh acidity and firm, refined tannins. Drink 2023–2043. Tri-Vin Imports. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $65

92

Azelia 2013 Margheria (Barolo). Rose, underbrush, dried berry and balsamic notes lead the nose. The taut structured palate evokes juicy strawberry, crushed cherry, star anise and cake spice framed in tightly woven fine-grained tannins. It’s elegant and well balanced, with fresh acidity. Drink 2023–2033. Skurnik Wines, Inc. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $95

92

Fontanafredda 2013 Vigna La Rosa (Barolo). For full review see page 171. abv: 14% Price: $119

92

Poderi Luigi Einaudi 2013 Cannubi (Barolo). Toast, moist underbrush, grilled herb and balsamic aromas lead the nose. On the full-bodied austere palate, fine-grained tannins support tart cherry, cranberry, vanilla and star anise. Give this several more years to unwind and develop. Drink 2013–2033. Empson USA Ltd. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $NA

91

Rocca Giovanni 2013 Barolo. Red berry, violet and baking spice are some of the aromas you’ll find on this elegant, balanced red. Savory and smooth, the silky palate doles out red cherry, strawberry compote, cinnamon and star anise, all framed by polished tannins and bright acidity. Zancanella Importing Co. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $40

90

Bersano 2011 Riserva (Barolo). Underbrush, grilled herb, exotic spice, raspberry jam and balsamic aromas lift out of the glass. Round and ripe, the warm and forward palate presents dried black cherry, licorice, pipe tobacco and white pepper framed in firm fine-grained tannins. Drink 2018–2026. 8 Vini, Inc. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $NA

90

Marchesi di Barolo 2012 Tradizione (Barolo). Licorice, menthol, red berry and clove aromas carry over to the taut palate along with a tobacco note. Tightly wound fine-grained tannins provide firm support. Drink 2019–2027. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $51

90

Revello Fratelli 2013 Barolo. Enticing scents of violet, rose and woodland berry escape the glass. Full bodied and polished, the palate delivers black cherry, cranberry, licorice and crushed herb while austere fine-grained tannins and bright acidity provide an age-worthy framework. It’s still young and taut and needs several more years to fully

260 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

develop. Drink 2023–2033. de Grazia Imports LLC. Editors’ Choice. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $30

clench the finish. This needs time to unfurl and fully develop. Drink after 2023. Empson USA Ltd. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $NA

90

88

89

88

89

87

89

87

89

87

Seghesio 2012 Ginestra (Barolo). Underbrush, scorched earth, leather and camphor aromas lead the way along with an earthy whiff of game. On the ripe chewy palate, notes of crushed mint, clove, licorice and grilled porcini accent a juicy black-cherry core. Firm close-grained tannins offer taut support. Vignaioli Selection. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $100

Ascheri 2013 Sorano (Barolo). Earthy aromas of wild berry, underbrush, leather and a whiff of game follow over to the youthfully austere palate along pomegranate, star anise and clove. Taut tannins and vibrant acidity provide the backbone. Racy, focused and a bit on the lean side, this needs time to unwind and fully open. Drink after 2023. Martignetti Companies. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $NA Bava 2013 Scarrone (Barolo). Aromas of fig, tilled earth, exotic spice and a balsamic note mingle together on this tight racy red. Bright and linear, the austere palate is still primary but offers sour cherry, clove and an earthy hint of game framed in firm acidity and fine-grained tannins. Drink after 2023. Wine Wave. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $NA Boroli 2013 Villero (Barolo). Rose, red berry, underbrush and dark spice are some of the aromas you’ll find on this fragrant, youthfully austere red. It’s lean, tight and ethereal, with raw strawberry, licorice and white pepper flavors set against vibrant acidity and taut close-grained tannins. Drink after 2023. Wineberry America LLC. —K.O. abv: 13.5% Price: $NA Negretti 2013 Rive (Barolo). Aromas of exotic spice, forest floor and a balsamic note emerge in the glass while the full-bodied palate doles out ripe red cherry, cranberry, licorice and clove. Assertive, rather grainy tannins and bright acidity provide support. It’s still rather austere so give the tannins a few more years to unwind. Drink 2020–2025. Delectatio Wines. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $NA

Negretti 2013 Bricco Ambrogio (Barolo). This has subdued aromas suggesting oak, toast, camphor and underbrush. The robust palate doesn’t have a lot of fruit richness, but offers licorice, clove and a hint of dried cherry alongside close-grained tannins that grip the finish. You’ll also notice the heat of evident alcohol. Delectatio Wines. —K.O. abv: 15% Price: $NA Revello Fratelli 2013 Cerretta (Barolo). This full-bodied red opens with aromas suggesting French oak, raspberry jam coconut and exotic spice. The densely concentrated assertive palate offers licorice, dried cherry, tart cranberry and powdered sage while astringent grainy tannins provide an austere framework. You’ll also detect the heat of evident alcohol. de Grazia Imports LLC. —K.O. abv: 15% Price: $70 CarlindePaolo 2013 Barolo. This has subdued aromas suggesting dark berry, a whiff of exotic spice and a slight balsamic note. It’s rather light bodied and quite simple for Barolo, offering red cherry and a hint of star anise alongside bright acidity and palate-drying, somewhat fleeting, tannins. Drink through 2020. Curious Cork Imports LLC. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $40 Col dei Venti 2013 Debutto (Barolo). Aromas of chopped herb, exotic spice, menthol and a whiff of toast lead the nose. Compacted and austere, the lean bracing palate shows raw cranberry, pomegranate and licorice while firm acidity and grainy, astringent tannins provide the taut framework. Banville Wine Merchants. —K.O. abv: 14% Price: $50 Negretti 2013 Barolo. The nose is rather shy but eventually reveals suggestions of berry, aromatic herb and oak-driven spice. The assertive palate offers licorice, coffee and raw cherry alongside grainy tannins that clench the lean finish. You’ll also notice a green note of powdered sage. Delectatio Wines. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $NA

89

Pelassa 2013 Barolo. Aromas of mature berry, fig, pressed rose and crushed herb lead the way. The no-frills palate offers juicy red cherry, dark culinary spice and tobacco alongside close-grained tannins and fresh acidity. Drink after 2023. J. Strecker Selections. —K.O. abv: 14.5% Price: $NA

89

Poderi Luigi Einaudi 2013 Terlo (Barolo). Aromas of wild rose, chopped mint and an earthy whiff of grilled Porcini mushroom slowly emerge. The taut, austere palate shows cranberry, raw sour cherry, star anise and clove framed in firm acidity and tightly wound, close-grained tannins that

ROMANIA WHITE WINES

87

Budureasca 2016 Premium Tămâioasă Românească (Dealu Mare). This floral white carries aromas of elderberry, mango, lemon zest and lemongrass on the nose. The palate brings mango, apple and lemon zest, with a clean and crisp finish. Albus Imports LLC. Best Buy. —J.J. abv: 13.5% Price: $12


86

Jidvei 2016 Treasure of Transylvania Medium Sweet Gewurztraminer (Tarnave). This medium-sweet wine brings aromas of acacia flowers and lemon lime zest to the fore. In the mouth there are flavors of honeycomb, lemon and acacia flower. The finish is delightful and slightly sweet. Albus Imports LLC. Best Buy. —J.J. abv: 12.5% Price: $8

85

Budureasca 2016 Origini Sec Sauvignon Blanc (Dealu Mare). Aromas of lemongrass and freshly-cut grass carry to a streamlined, lemondriven palate. It is a touch too acidic to drink on it’s own but would pair well with vegetable dishes. Albus Imports LLC. —J.J. abv: 13% Price: $16

85

Budureasca 2016 Vine in Flames Feteasca Regala (Dealu Mare). This straw colored wine made from Feteasca Regala has aromas of lemon pith and Bartlett pear. In the mouth there is bracing acidity, with flavors of lemon, melon and white peach. Albus Imports LLC. Best Buy. —J.J. abv: 13% Price: $9

85

Jidvei 2016 Treasure of Transylvania Medium Dry Moscato (Tarnave). This medium-dry Muscat has aromas of white flowers and lemon blossoms. On the palate there are flavors of honeysuckle, peach and lime juice. Albus Imports LLC. Best Buy. —J.J. abv: 12% Price: $8

85

Jidvei 2016 Treasure of Transylvania Medium Dry Sauvignon Blanc (Tarnave). This Transylvanian wines has aromas of vanilla, whipped cream, apple and pear. It is medium dry, with flavors of pear and lemon juice that lead to a touch of sweetness on the finish. Albus Imports LLC. Best Buy. —J.J. abv: 12% Price: $8

85

Jidvei 2016 Treasure of Transylvania Medium Sweet White (Tarnave). This medium-sweet blend of Feteasca Regala and Riesling has aromas of honeysuckle and lemon blossom. There are flavors of peach and pineapple in the mouth, with a floral touch on the finish. Albus Imports LLC. Best Buy. —J.J. abv: 12% Price: $8

RED WINES

87

Budureasca 2015 Premium Merlot (Dealu Mare). Dark garnet in color, this wine carries aromas of cherry and black raspberry on the nose. The palate brings flavors of tart cherry and ripe plum. Tannins show good grip yet there’s a touch of aggressive acidity in the finish. Albus Imports LLC. Best Buy. —J.J. abv: 14.5% Price: $12

85

Budureasca 2014 Vine in Flames Pinot Noir (Dealu Mare). This ruby colored Pinot Noir has aromas of black cherry and dried cherry, with flavors of cinnamon, clove and additional black cherry. The finish is fruit-driven and clean. Albus Imports LLC. Best Buy. —J.J. abv: 14% Price: $9

MOROCCO WHITE WINES

88

Ouled Thaleb 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Morocco). Medium yellow in the glass, this wine features a nose of citrus, with a touch of floral notes. It is bright on entry, and then fills the mouth with soft tannins and flavors of grapefruit, guava and pineapple that lead to a bright citrus splash on the finish. Nomadic Distribution. —M.D. abv: 13% Price: $18

88

Ouled Thaleb 2015 Un-Oaked Chardonnay (Morocco). This wine features a bouquet of peach and rose petal. It is well balanced on the palate, offering flavors of nectarine, lemon and freesia that lead to a floral- and citrus-laced finish. Nomadic Distribution. —M.D. abv: 12.5% Price: $18

87

Ouled Thaleb 2016 Moroccan White Blend (Morocco). Medium yellow in color, this wine has aromas of tangerine and Turkish delight. It is soft on the palate, with flavors of pineapple, lemon and flint that lead to a lime zest finish. Nomadic Distribution. —M.D. abv: 13% Price: $15

85

Jidvei 2016 Treasure of Transylvania Riesling (Tarnave). This Romanian Riesling has aromas of peach, lemon blossom and honeysuckle. In the mouth there are flavors of apricot and lemon zest. The finish is clean and a bit astringent. Albus Imports LLC. Best Buy. —J.J. abv: 12% Price: $8

84

Budureasca 2016 Vine in Flames Dry Chardonnay (Dealu Mare). This Romanian Chardonnay is golden straw in color with green reflections. It has aromas of green apple and Bartlett pear and flavors of lemon, apple and peach juice. The finish is crisp, but just a touch too acidic. Albus Imports LLC. —J.J. abv: 13.5% Price: $9

RED WINES

90

Ouled Thaleb 2013 Syrah (Zenata). Deep garnet to the eye, this wine offers a nose of black cherry, cassis and butterscotch. It is a soft and easy-drinking red, with flavors of tart cherry, cranberry, white chocolate and pencil lead. Surprisingly deft tannins float on the palate into a bright pomegranate finish. Nomadic Distribution. —M.D. abv: 13% Price: $18

89

Ouled Thaleb 2014 Médallion (Zenata). This dark-ruby wine offers a bouquet of black cherry and violet. There is a nice balance of bright

fruit and silky tannins amid flavors of cherry, cola, cranberry and mocha, with the slightest hint of green pepper. The long-lasting finish is marked by a fruity brightness. Nomadic Distribution. —M.D. abv: 13% Price: $18

88

Ouled Thaleb 2015 Moroccan Red Blend (Zenata). Aromas of blackberry, black currant and ground black pepper set the scene for flavors of brambleberry, cassis, chocolate and smoke. It is bright on entry, with fruit and acidity making way for savory notes and smooth tannins, ultimately wrapping up with a zesty cranberry finish. Nomadic Distribution. —M.D. abv: 13% Price: $15

CLASSIFIEDS

The Cure for the Common Gift! Give award-winning, handcrafted wines from California’s artisan wineries. Gifts start at $39.95 plus S&H. ating 27 Ye ar ebr el s C

The California Wine Club

cawineclub.com 1-800-777-4443

Plus tax where applicable. Void where prohibited.

SOFTWARE WINE CELLAR SOFTWARE.

Cellaring guide plus inventory management with rack display. Charts and reports show cellar contents, wines added or consumed. Decanter called it good fun. Free trial from www.uncork.biz

CONTACT

ADVERTISE WITH US

For More Information and Rates Contact:

Chuck Criss

ccriss@wineenthusiast.net Phone: 914-345-9463 ext.4134 WINEMAG.COM | 261


BUYINGGUIDE

SPIRITS

coupled with hints of honey and apricot. The drying cinnamon-laced finish shows orange peel and walnut. This is elegant and bright, but it’s also overproof so keep some ice or water on hand to lengthen sips. abv: 53.1% Price: $220

Cognac: A sea of change

95

A

s we close out 2017, it’s natural to indulge ter Blender’s Selection #1 bottling in 2016. in a little crystal ball-gazing for the year Though it doesn’t involve American oak, it cerahead. So where is Cognac heading next? tainly drinks a lot like Bourbon, with a vanillaOut of all the various spirits category’s, forward flavor. At a slightly higher proof and France’s flagship grape brandy has perhaps the packaged in a rectangular, flask-like bothaziest outlook right now. tle, this is unlike the usual elaborately curved It’s not that sales are flagging. According Hennessy bottles and it could easily pass as to the Distilled Spirits Council American whiskey. of the U.S. (DISCUS), sales of Another noticeable trend An increasing Cognac grew a respectable 7.1% has been the uptick in singlein 2016, particularly among number of Cognacs vintage bottlings—a rarity in higher-end offerings. now seem designed Cognac. But Normandin-MerBut Cognac producers seem a cier (1976), Maison Surrenne to appeal to the little unsure about how to appeal (1975), Jean Grosperrin (1991) palates of Bourbon- all dipped into the Paradis—the to American consumers these lovers, with more cave where rare brandies usudays. After years of rip-roaring growth in the American whissweet vanilla and ally are stored—and released key space, particularly Bourbon, some of the best Cognacs you’ll spice. an increasing number of Cognacs see in your glass this year. now seem designed to appeal to For those seeking a more the palates of Bourbon-lovers, with more sweet value-priced Cognac pour to toast the coming vanilla and spice. of the new year, take a look at some of the VSOP Bache-Gabrielsen, for example, debuted its bottlings reviewed this month. It’s hard to say American Oak bottling, aged for six months in what 2018 will hold for Cognac. Luckily, odds new Tennessee oak barrels. Meanwhile, legare high that it will yield something delicious. acy Cognac maker Hennessy released its MasCheers! –Kara Newman

Merlet Cognac XO (France; Bedford & Grove, Louisville, KY). The hazelnut aroma suggests a rich, sweet brandy, however the palate is surprisingly light and delicate. Initial nutty, fudgy notes quickly give way to lively orange peel and spice, finishing with an elegant hint of violet. abv: 40% Price: $90

95

Tiffon Reserve Fin Bois Cognac (France; Martin Scott Wines, New York, NY). Look for elegant vanilla, lemon cream and apricot on the wellbalanced nose and palate, finishing long and spiced on a distinct lemony note on the exhale. abv: 40% Price: $228

94

A. de Fussigny Cognac VSOP (France; Saranty Imports, Stamford, CT). This shows enough intensity to appeal to whiskey drinkers but plenty of brandy finesse. The palate shows luxurious caramel, rounding out to baked apple and spice, finishing with enticing hints of red fruit and violet. Borderies region. Best Buy. abv: 40% Price: $60

94

Augier L’Oceanique Cognac (France; Quest Brands, Chattanooga, TN). This straw-hued Cognac has a distinct buttered-popcorn scent. On the palate, that morphs into a salted butter note, with a saline influence reminiscent of some Scotches, coupled with vanilla, a juicy hint of pear, white flowers and a hint of lemongrass on the finish. The mouth waters with a racy astringency not often seen in brandy. Bois Ordinaire region. Made from 100% Ugni Blanc. abv: 40.8% Price: $62

93 97

Camus XO Cognac (France; CIL CIL Wines & Spirits, Fort Lauderdale, FL). Dark, mysterious and complex, this deep-amber liquid has a sherried scent, with hints of fresh figs and black cherry. The mouthwatering palate is sweet up front, showing vanilla and black cherry, drying to a long finish of earthy espresso, leather, orange peel and a brush of cocoa. Borderies region. abv: 40% Price: $180

97

Normandin-Mercier 1976 Cognac (France; Heavenly Spirits, Lakeville, MA). Most Cognacs blend various vintages together: This one is a single-vintage Cognac that was distilled in 1976 and bottled in 2016, after 40 years in oak. It’s a stunner, with a complex, perfumy nose and kaleidoscopic palate that starts with cocoa and walnut, moves to a rounded, surprisingly fresh red apple note midpalate, and finishes with vanilla, ginger, cinnamon and hints of tropical fruit. It’s drying,

262 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

slightly grippy and not nearly as oaky as one might expect. Petite Champagne region. abv: 41.4% Price: $350

96

Maison Surrenne Lot David Picoron Cognac (France; Alambic, Ukiah, CA). This is made from the 1975 vintage from David Picoron’s hillside vineyard in the Grande Champagne region. Intriguingly deep, dark aromas beckon: figs, toffee and Port-like dark fruit. These flavors show a bit drier on the supple palate, transforming into dark chocolate, oak and stewed cherries, finishing very long with walnut, leather, clove and black pepper. abv: 40% Price: $350

95

Jean Grosperrin 1991 Cognac (France; Domaine Select Wine & Spirits, New York, NY). Made on the Ilse d’Oléron, this unusual “maritime Cognac” was distilled in 1991 and bottled at 24 years of age. Fleeting cinnamon-roll sweetness up front gives way to an herbaceous sarsaparilla note,

Bache-Gabrielsen American Oak Cognac (France; BCI, Houston, TX). This unusual Cognac is finished in Tennessee oak barrels for a minimum of six months, marking it as an American whiskey-lover’s brandy. The nose and palate show plenty of oak, vanilla and baked apple, landing on apricot and orange peel for the spicy, mouthwatering finish. Sip or mix. Best Buy. abv: 40% Price: $40

93

Hennessy Master Blender’s Selection No. 1 Cognac (France; Moët Hennessy USA, New York, NY). Think Bourbon flavors with brandy delicacy. Notably dark-nut brown in the glass, this Cognac opens with warm caramel, toffee and cocoa on the nose and palate. Echoes of brandied cherry, orange peel and cinnamon-clove spice wind into the finish. This might be just the ticket to experiment with Cognac-based Old Fashioneds. abv: 43% Price: $80


BEER

Stouts for the season and your cellar

T

here are very few beer lovers who don’t a milk or sweet stout, rounded by the addition enjoy a good stout—year-round, sure, but of unfermented sugars, typically lactose. Add they’re especially hard to resist once the in some nitro bottlings (nitrogenated beers cool winter months arrive. There’s little are carbonated with nitrogen—typically about to compare with the satisfaction that a good, 70%—as opposed to only carbon dioxide), and strong stout offers on a chilly day, filling your we’re essentially talking boozy chocolate milkpalate with robust and decadent flavors and shakes for grown-ups. sending that tingling warming From key stout styles as sensation down to your core, a beer’s base, there’s endThere are so many less variety, experimentation soothing the soul and heating the body from the inside. different styles of and manipulation that can There are so many differtake place. From beers infused stouts available ent styles of stouts available with all sorts of herbs or added that there is almost ingredients, soured selections that there is almost certainly a certainly a bottling and, of course, barrel-aged flabottling for any palate. Though they’re all flavorful, each will vor bombs, the profile possibilfor every palate. vary in intensity, weight, alcohol ities seem near endless. Taste and overall drinkability. around to zero in on a specific Many consider Russian imperial stouts to style, ingredient or technique you like best. be king, with their high alcohol content (usuFun fact: Many stouts are also excellent celally between 8–12%) and intense, roasted malt lar candidates. Bold profiles of intense flavor and profiles. Others might prefer oatmeal stouts, high alcohol suggest longevity; they can evolve which are full bodied, with moderate alcohol into even more complex and layered selections. levels (usually between 4–7%) and creaminess So when you find one you like, consider laying from the addition of oats to the mash. And let’s down a few bottles for future enjoyment! not forget the lush, mouthfilling beauty that is Prost! —Lauren Buzzeo

95

Goose Island 2017 Bourbon County Brand Stout (American Double/Imperial Stout; Goose Island Beer Co., IL). This vintage-dated selection is one of the most anticipated annual beer releases, with throngs of beer lovers lining up the day after Thanksgiving to try and get their share. The 2017 bottling is a doozy, oozing with rich, decadent aromas and flavors of chocolate sauce, charred oak, booze-soaked raisins and berries. It’s warm and inviting, with a deceptive smoothness that keeps you coming back for more despite its power and intensity. It’s a beer that many won’t be able to resist cracking open, but if you do manage to score a few, definitely tuck a couple away, as it will continue to harmonize and evolve magically with some years of cellaring. abv: 14.1% Price: NA/16.9 oz

a Tuesday in late October, is considered a cult-beer classic to many, and for good reason. It’s just about as intense and powerful a Bourbon barrel-aged stout as you can get—typically clocking in around 20% abv—and one that’s perfect for cellaring to witness the progression and evolution that a beer like this can achieve. This year’s release is almost a full alcohol percentage point behind the 2016 vintage, and it shows in its slightly more approachable character and less viscous and warming mouthfeel. Don’t get me wrong—it’s still big, bold and plenty boozy, with oodles of Bourbon-soaked vanilla bean, raw cocoa nib, roasted malt, mocha, caramel sauce and black licorice, finishing warm and spicy. Nuances of dried fig, date, cigar box, char and burnt leather tease the beer’s more mature and complex future. abv: 20.3% Price: $30/750 ml

95

94

The Bruery 2017 Black Tuesday (American Double/Imperial Stout; The Bruery, CA). This beer, annually released—and invariably sold out—on

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery Ruse Imperial Milk Stout Aged in Red Wine Barrels (Milk/ Sweet Stout; Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, VA).

This is a powerful, flavorful brew that’s an ideal choice to bring both wine and beer lovers together over a glass. It pours an almost black color, with a slightly viscous look to it and a foamy tan head that falls fairly fast. The stout-like characteristics are upfront on the nose, with assertive aromas of roasted malt, milk chocolate, vanilla cream and roasted nuts, but they’re quickly followed up by scents of wine-soaked oak, black currant, plum and earth. The vinous notes continue through to the palate, at the fore of the sip atop the rich cream, caramel and chocolate malt base. It’s full in body and smooth—almost slick—in texture, with an endless and evolving finish. abv: 11.3% Price: $19/750 ml

93

Firestone Walker Mocha Merlin Coffee Infused Oatmeal Stout (Oatmeal Stout; Firestone Walker Brewing Co., CA). Firestone Walker took their popular, smooth and decadent Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout and brewed it with the Colombia La Granadilla blend from HoneyCo Coffee Roasters as well as cocoa nibs sourced from Ghana, transforming it into this Mocha Merlin seasonal offering. A deep mahogany-black color, with a serious tan head, it’s loaded with intense notes of espresso, roasted malts, vanilla oats and fudgy chocolate-caramel brownie on the nose and palate. The medium-bodied mouthfeel is creamy, plush and oh-so-satisfying, with just the right amount of carbonation to keep it all in balance. abv: 5.5% Price: $10/12 oz 6 pack

93

Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (Milk/Sweet Stout; Left Hand Brewing Company, CO). Now available in widget cans, Left Hand’s Nitro Milk Stout, America’s top-selling craft nitro stout, is not one to be overlooked. It pours with a beautiful presentation—and should be poured hard—as upward waves of foam cascade to the top of a dark black glass. The pillowy head releases initial notes of rich malt, roasted nuts, mocha and cocoa powder. The plush, smooth, mouthfilling palate offers more of the same, with lingering notes of vanilla ice cream topped with roasted cocoa nibs, toasted walnuts and espresso powder. It’s decadent, for sure, but it’s superbly balanced and utterly delicious. abv: 6% Price: $9/13.65oz 4 pack

92

Avery Brewing Co. Botanicals & Barrels Vanilla Bean Stout (American Double/Imperial Stout; Avery Brewing Company, CO). This stout was brewed with whole vanilla beans from Tonga, Uganda and Mexico, then aged in Bourbon barrels. The bouquet showcases both, in upfront scents of fresh vanilla, Bourbon-soaked oak and peppery woodspice that waft from the dark pour, with background hints of molasses and raw cocoa. The palate is medium-full and flavorful, with medium-minus carbonation that just lifts the sweet, rich flavors of toasted coconut, malted milk ball, caramelized brown sugar, char and vanilla-spiked plum and date. Hints of sweet smoke and soft warming spice grace the close. abv: 10.7% Price: $13/22 oz

WINEMAG.COM | 263


BALANCING ACT

RUNNING RAGGED

I

write about wine for a living, so balance is a familiar concept. But outside my 9-to-5, balance can feel a little more elusive. I’m talking, specifically, about trying to achieve physical equilibrium by following long nights of wine tasting and rich dinners with exercise and healthy eating. Sometimes, the only cure is a hardcore morning sweat session, but no one says it will be easy. To give you a sense, this was my thought process the morning after a long night. Minutes 00:00–5:00: O.K., three miles. I can do this. Twenty-five minutes isn’t that long, and before I know it, I’ll be enjoying that yogurt parfait I’ve been dreaming of since the cab ride home last night. Two minutes has already gone by. I’m onetwelfth of the way through. This isn’t so bad after all. In fact, I feel surprisingly good! 05:00–10:00: This is strange, why am I not sweating? It’s 75 degrees and sunny. Am I really that dehydrated? 10:00–15:00: Whoa, this track is really intense on my legs. Am I running uphill? Can’t be. I’ve run this same track for more than a year now. Must’ve been the heels I wore last night. Or the dance moves that came out later in the evening. Hey, the tasting was on Bowery on a Friday night, and at least I got a good jump on today’s workout. 15:00–20:00: O.K., I’m struggling. It must be really humid today. Flights of Burgundy, like the Joseph Roty selection I enjoyed alongside last night’s dinner of roasted mushrooms and potatoes, always make me feel a certain way, but usually it’s not like this. It’s usually more of an irreplicable sensory overload of a voyage that transports me straight into the heart of the Côte d’Or itself. No, nothing like this. 20:00–22:00: What is that noise? Is my breathing actually this loud? I can hear myself through my headphones. Am I in a wind tunnel? 22:00–24:00: Focus. Focus on something good. Like the cheese. Oh, the cheese! Gevrey-Chambertin and a plate of Burgundian cow’s milk cheeses, perfectly accompanied with fruit jams and Marcona almonds? Never mind, the suffering is totally worth it... 25:00:…Except for the fact that everything internally is on fire. Regardless, I MADE IT! Go me. Time for a celebratory mimosa?

264 | WINE ENTHUSIAST | BEST OF YEAR 2017

Wine writer Vicki Denig takes us minute by grueling minute through a post-repast workout.


C E L E B R AT E I T A L L. ®

C E L E B R AT E R E S P O N S I B LY. KO R B E L . C O M | R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y. O R G

©2017 F. Korbel & Bros., Guerneville, Sonoma County, CA. Producers of fine California méthode champenoise champagnes for 135 years. KORBEL is a registered trademark. All rights reserved.


3dfvdfv  
3dfvdfv  
Advertisement