Wine&S & pirits SPECIAL ISSUE
32 Annual nd
TOP 100 WINERIES
TOP 100 Wines of 2018
Five of our Top 100 Wineries
WINTER 2018 wineandspiritsmagazine.com $9.99 US $10.99 Canada Display until December 31, 2018
Wine & Spirits 32nd Annual Buying Guide
A YEAR OF
Great Wine T
here are scents and flavors that exist only in wine, combinations that come together nowhere else in the world. At W&S, we seek them out. Remember the ones we’ve found before. Get excited when we find something new. This issue is all about those wines, the kind that can’t be reproduced in a lab or grown anywhere other than the region or vineyard where they do. Perfumers are paid millions of dollars to create a scent. These wines do it naturally, helped along by the vines, the geological history and the climate of the place where they grow, as well as the people who shepherd the grapes through their transformation. There’s a lot of natural wine that gets away, hijacked by microbes or chemical reactions. And there are plenty of commercial wines that are perfectly delicious, but don’t really have anything interesting to say. Financial opportunities abound in that particular field, using technology not only to process the wine, but to learn what will most appeal to a group of drinkers. Great wine is more analog than that. Its greatness comes about through the particular conditions that allowed it to taste the way it does and the people who dedicate themselves to allowing it to happen. This issue is full of such wines and the stories of the people behind them. We give you notes on the 100 wines from all corners of the earth that rocked our world last year, as well as tips on 100 wines that caught us by surprise with their delicious flavors and textures at prices far below their neighbors’. And we profile 100 growers and winemakers whose work impressed us consistently over the past year in our blind tastings. We dedicate this issue to all of you, who, like us, love sharing great wine.
geek lover student intellectual maker It doesn’t matter who, only that you are.
And so are we.
Wine&S & pirits a x wineandspirits Winter 2018 Vol. 37, No. 7 PUBLISHER AND EDITOR
Tara Q. Thomas REGIONAL WINE EDITORS
Stephanie Johnson Patrick J. Comiskey • Patricio Tapia PRODUCTION EDITOR
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Rachel DelRocco Terrazas Karen Moneymaker TASTING COORDINATORS
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Roy Schneider, Jr. Editorial and Business Office Wine & Spirits, 2 W. 32nd St., Suite 601, New York, NY 10001; 212-695-4660; 1275 East 6th St., Suite B, Los Angeles, CA 90021; 213-629-0200 Unsolicited manuscripts and photography should be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Wine & Spirits Magazine is published eight times a year by Wine & Spirits Magazine, Inc. 2 West 32nd St., Suite 601, New York, NY 10001 Contents © Copyright 2018 by Wine & Spirits Magazine, Inc. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without written consent of the publisher. Printed in the USA
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Wine&S & pirits contents
Winter 2018 volume 37 number 7
W&S TOP 100 WINERIES 12
What We Believe
The W&S Premier Cru A look back at the wineries that have repeatedly risen to the top in our tastings over the past three decades.
Wineries to Watch New names with promise, given their early performances in our tastings.
The W&S Top 100 Wineries Here are the estates that performed at the top of our tastings in the past 12 months, each with a range of exceptional wines.
THE W&S TOP 100 WINES A guide to the individual bottles that rocked our tasting panels. 86
100 Top Wines of 2018 Celebrating quality at any price.
Top Bottles for $10 or Less Your go-to list for everyday drinking.
102 100 Best Buys of 2018 Hightlighting bottles that overdeliver at their price.
DEPARTMENTS 1 6
Four of our Top 100 Wineries of 2018: Tenuta di Biserno, Domaine ZindHumbrecht, Donkey & Goat and Palacio de Fefiñanes.
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Editor’s Note Top Spirits of 2018 Eight bottles that will up your bar game.
Top Importers of 2018 The powerhouses behind many of our top-scoring bottles.
The Goods The best new products we’ve found this year.
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Wine & Spirits 32nd Annual Buying Guide
by Rachel DelRocco Terrazas
TOP SPIRITS OF 2018 Glenmorangie Spìos Private Edition No. 9 Scotch Glenmorangie’s Private Edition series offers a new take on its classic Highland malt. This year’s release, Spìos (Gaelic for spice), is its first single malt aged in old Rye casks from Kentucky. The grain’s spice works well with Glenmorangie’s lighter style, adding enticing notes of black peppercorn, spearmint and fresh tobacco to its warm toasted-oat and cinnamon flavors. It’s an easy sipper, and shines with just a splash of water. Moët-Hennessy, NY; 46% abv.; $99/750ml
The Street Pumas’ London Dry Gin
The Street Pumas, a project launched by New York-based importer PM Spirits, is a line of spirits made for the bartender’s well and for the home bar’s front shelf. The neutralgrain spirit is from Piedmont, redistilled and infused with traditional botanicals in Belgium, then bottled in Jerez under the guidance of Sherry producer Equipo Navazos. This is a wildly aromatic play on London Dry, with notes of key lime, pink peppercorn and mandarin orange sparking the fresh, juicy flavors. It’s perfect in a simple Highball, and makes a fruit-forward Gimlet. PM Spirits, NY; 40% abv.; $30/750ml
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Martini & Rossi Riserva Speciale Bitter Liqueur Martini & Rossi, known for vermouth, has launched an alternative to Campari. Based on a recipe from Luigi Rossi, one of the founders of the company, it’s a touch sweeter and fuller in body than Campari, with fragrant botanical notes and bright orange flavor. Used in a Negroni, it makes for a full-bodied cocktail; it’s also terrific in the Sbagliato version, playing up the briskness of the sparkling wine in the drink. Bacardi Limited, Coral Gables, FL; 29% abv.; $27/750ml
Casa Magdalena Ron Blanco Rum Tom Mooney, CEO and co-owner of Oregon-based House Spirits Distillery, reconnected with one of his childhood friends from Guatemala, Luís Fernando Leal, whose family is one of the biggest sugar growers in Central America. Mooney’s team went in to re-vamp the Leal family’s stills at Casa Magdalena, and they’ve partnered in this new rum, a spirit that keeps the integrity of the raw material at a significant volume. It’s a progressive endeavor and the final outcome is affordable and delicious—the flavor comes through in a burst of yellow flowers, grass and paprika, with notes of white chocolate and sarsaparilla a nod toward the small bit of aging this rum underwent in Portland. Have it in a rum punch or a tiki-style cocktail. House Spirits Distillery, Portland, OR; 41% abv.; $20/750ml
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Fortaleza Still Strength Blanco Tequila The Fortaleza family has been making Tequila for four generations, following traditional methods of production. Using agave crushed with stone tahonas, they produce their Still Strength Blanco in copper pot stills, then bottle it without watering it down to a lower proof. It’s complex and beautiful, playing vegetal notes of corn, beet and bluegrass off fruitier flavors of green apple skin and papaya, with a hint of campfire in the background. You won’t be disappointed just sipping this straight out of the copita. Park Street Imports, Miami, FL; 46% abv.; $65/750ml
The Bitter Truth Bogart’s Bitters For any cocktail aficionado who wants a taste of pre-Prohibition days, Bogart’s Bitters does the trick. After studying the books of Jerry Thomas, the grandfather of the cocktail, the folks at the Bitter Truth followed the hunch that the “Bogart’s” and “Boker’s” bitters called for in recipes ranging from the Martinez to the Brandy Crusta were one in the same. Their research turned up an original bottle of Bogart’s from 1900, which they reproduced, mimicking the “lady leg” bottle shape as well as the label. Their new version of Bogart’s adds depth and spice to drinks with its notes of chocolate, cola and spice; just a dash or two will round out an Old-Fashioned. Vision Wine & Spirits, Taunton, MA; 42% abv., $35/375ml
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Nikka Whisky From the Barrel Produced since 1986, this coveted bottling has finally made its way to the US market. Nikka blends From the Barrel using both malt and grain whiskies from its two most prolific distilleries, Yoichi and Miyagikyo, with batches aged in several different types of barrels—ex-Bourbon, ex-Sherry and puncheons. Then, instead of blending them in stainless steel, all of these base whiskies are blended in cask and left to marry for an additional three to six months. The result is especially nuanced, its nutty, honeyed tones lifted by fruity berry notes. Hotaling & Co., San Francisco, CA; 51% abv., $65/750ml
Lustau Vermut Blanco Vermouth was once an essential part of Spanish culture, available on tap in bars throughout Madrid until the 1970s and only recently coming back into vogue. The renaissance of Spanish vermouth has been concentrated in the north of the country but, recently, a few producers in Andalucia started bringing back Vermut de Jerez. Lustau, which released a red version in 2017, has introduced a blanco made of Fino Sherry blended with moscatel wine and infused with botanicals, including wormwood, chamomile and rosemary. Light and fresh, it offsets its fruity, floral sweetness with notes of tart gooseberry, thyme and bitter almond and a mouth-watering acidity. Serve it lightly chilled, with blistered Padrón peppers, or add it to a Martini for an Iberian twist. Europvin, Van Nuys, CA; 15% abv.; $24/750ml
Wine & Spirits 32nd Annual Buying Guide
TOP IMPORTERS OF 2018
Look for these names on the back of a bottle: These are the importers with the highest number of wines represented in this issue—proof of their ability to pick out quality wines across a range of places, enriching our choices at the wine store.
Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant BERKELEY, CA Kermit Lynch changed the face of French wine in the US when he opened his store in Berkeley in 1972. He filled it with rosés from Bandol and reds from the Loire, wines of farmers and artists who sought refuge in the affordability of the French countryside and the produce of its vineyards. Now, of course, Domaine Tempier is a collectible and Charles Joguet Chinon is shorthand for chic French wine—and both feature among our Top 100 Wines of 2018, along with Beaujolais from Charly Thévenet and Veneto reds from the legendary Giuseppe Quintarelli. Champagne J. Lassalle earned a place in our Top 100 Wineries of 2018. Today, Lynch, his son, Anthony, and a team of savvy buyers fill the pages of his newsletter with new finds, expanding our view of French and Italian wines, with a recent push in delicious juice from lesser-known places like Corsica, Sardinia and Dolceacqua.
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Maisons Marques & Domaines USA OAKLAND, CA When it comes to classics, MMD is a first stop. Founded in 1987 as the marketing arm for Champagne Louis Roederer, the company has grown to include all of the Roederer-owned properties, including Ramos-Pinto in Portugal and Delas Frères and Domaines Ott in France (all among the Top 100 Wineries of 2018); the firm also owns Bordeaux estates Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Château de Pez and Château Haut-Beauséjour. Headed by Jean-Claude Rouzaud and his son, Frédéric, the company has grown to handle distribution for wineries in Italy, Spain and South Africa, as well as Dominus Estate in Napa Valley, all while continuing to put out exceptional sparkling wines in both Champagne and California.
Skurnik Wines NEW YORK, NY A scrappy upstart from Merrick, Long Island, Michael Skurnik spent the first half of the 1980s beating the pavement as a wine salesman before deciding to launch his own distribution company in 1987. His original focus was to bring more California wines to the New York market; he recently took his wide-ranging imported wine portfolio to California. By partnering with shippers like Terry Theise and Marco de Grazia, Skurnik has made his portfolio a go-to for anyone interested in the wines of Austria, Champagne, Germany and Italy; the company’s own portfolio skews toward young, edgy producers like Aphros in Portugal and Raúl Perez in Spain, two of our Top 100 Wineries of 2018. Also check out Castro Candaz, La Viscaína and Raventós i Blanc in Spain and Domaine Les Hautes Noelles in France, all appearing among our Top 100 Wines of 2018.
Vintus PLEASANTVILLE, NY A tall, intense lawyer, Michael Quinttus has a knack for sniffing out talent. He launched his own company after putting in 18 years at Kobrand, a venerable, New York–based importer founded in 1944. His approach for his own portfolio has been to move slowly but make large waves as he builds a list of reference-point wineries. He’s got Bollinger in Champagne and Domaine des Baumard in the Loire, Le Macchiole in Tuscany, Masciarelli in Abruzzo and Quinta do Noval in Portugal. Where his winemakers aren’t yet household names, he makes them stars, as he has with Francisco Baettig at Errazuriz in Chile, and Rotem Brakin and Mounir Saoma, Burgundy vintners who recently established a domaine in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Both are among the 100 Top Wineries of 2018, as is Sandrone, another reference-point winery, in Barolo. ■
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Wine & Spirits 32nd Annual Buying Guide
W&S critics, from top left: Joshua Greene, Tara Q. Thomas, Patrick J. Comiskey, Patricio Tapia and Stephanie Johnson.
Everyone’s taste is different; there is no right or wrong.
WE TRUST OUR SENSES. All of our reporting on wine is driven by our senses of taste, feel, sight and smell. When we respond to a wine with pleasure, we don’t care if it is highly regarded in the market. We want to find out more.
oxidation: that it should benefit from air and not quickly dissolve into volatility. We consider this a valuable assay of great wine, as well as a predictor of a wine’s potential development in your cellar.
WE LEARN FROM HISTORY AND FACTS. WE RATE WINES WITHOUT KNOWING THE BRAND. Index to Our Critics’ Beats North America: California: Joshua Greene Canada: Tara Q. Thomas New York, Oregon, Washington: Patrick J. Comiskey Europe: Austria: Tara Q. Thomas France: Joshua Greene (Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Jura, Loire); Tara Q. Thomas (Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon, Rhône, Southwest) Germany: Tara Q. Thomas Hungary: Tara Q. Thomas Italy: Stephanie Johnson Portugal: Joshua Greene Slovenia: Stephanie Johnson Spain: Patricio Tapia; Joshua Greene (Rioja) Southern Hemisphere Argentina: Patricio Tapia Australia: Joshua Greene Chile: Patricio Tapia New Zealand: Joshua Greene South Africa: Joshua Greene 12
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All the wines we rate and review are tasted in our offices. Our first round is with others in the wine trade—people we respect for knowing their own tastes. We give them information on vintage, region and variety and ask them if they would recommend the wine to a friend. Then critics taste the recommended wines again, with the same limited information, to consider how delicious and distinctive the wines might be, and to compare them with others we have tasted from the same region. Not knowing the producer allows us to judge the wine fairly, without prejudice. We set up this process because we know we are human, and may well be swayed by the reputation of a wine, by tasting with the people who make or sell the wine, or by tasting wines in the place where they are made.
WE EMBRACE DIFFERENT OPINIONS. While we may develop preferences for certain styles, our pact with our readers is to leave those preferences at the door of our tasting room. Our critics look to our panelists to help us better understand our own preferences and prejudices. We look for balance and harmony in the wines we taste. And for the greatest wines, we look for identity.
WE BELIEVE IN SPENDING TIME WITH A WINE. Often our critics will taste a wine over a number of days, looking to see how it evolves. We believe that a wine should be resistant to the negative forces of
BUYING GUIDE 2019
As much as we trust our senses, we also want to know the facts: who made the wine, where it grew, how it was farmed and shepherded from harvest to bottle. We research facts and, as journalists, we share those relevant facts with you, our readers. Our loyalties and responsibilities are with you.
WE BELIEVE SENSITIVE FARMING SUSTAINS THE IDENTITY OF A WINE’S ORIGIN IN THE BOTTLE. Having tasted an unnatural amount of wine in our short lives, and having researched the wines that excite us most, we have come to believe we can taste the sensitivity that goes into farming a vineyard. Some winegrowers have a strong connection to the lives of their vines; they are sensitive to how farming impacts their land as well as their own well-being. We can’t prove the connection, but we believe their work magnifies and sustains the wine’s flavor identity.
WE INVITE YOU TO TASTE FOR YOURSELF. We gather our Top 100 Wineries and their toprated wines once a year in a single issue, and in a single night at our Top 100 event in San Francisco. There is something different about the energy in the room at the Top 100 than at any other wine tasting we attend. We like to believe it is the buzz around the wines, the energy they have carried from the vines to the bottle to your glass, shepherded with care and sensitivity, ultimately and nakedly delicious. n
Wine & Spirits 32nd Annual Buying Guide
Wine&S & pirits
Louis Roederer (2019)
The wineries that have earned the most Top 100 awards.
Benchmarks: South Australia Grange Bin 95, Bin 707 Cabernet, St. Henri Shiraz, RWT Bin 798
Benchmarks: Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello, Monte Bello Chardonnay, Lytton Springs
18 Awards Boutari (2019)
Concha y Toro (2019)
Benchmarks: Champagne Brut Cristal, Cristal Rosé, Vintage Brut, Vintage Rosé, Brut Nature Philippe Starck
Bouchard Père & Fils (2019) Benchmarks: Chevalier-Montrachet, Beaune Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus, Chapelle-Chambertin, Corton-Charlemagne
15 Awards Diamond Creek (2019) Benchmarks: Diamond Mountain District Cabernets from Volcanic Hill, Red Rock Terrace, Gravelly Meadow
Benchmarks: Casablanca Terrunyo Sauvignon Blanc, Peumo Terrunyo Carmenère, Carmín de Peumo, Alto Maipo Don Melchor
Benchmarks: Naoussa Grande Reserve, Santorini (classic and Kallisti Reserve)
Benchmarks: Diamond Mountain District Reserve, Estate Vineyard Cabernet, Post Vineyard Cabernet
Chateau Ste. Michelle (2017) Benchmarks: Columbia Valley Eroica, Eroica Gold, Eroica Single Berry Select
Benchmarks: Stags Leap District Hillside Select, One Point Five Cabernet
Iron Horse (2019) Benchmarks: Green Valley Brut LD, Joy! (in magnum), Classic Vintage Brut
21 Awards Antinori (2019) Benchmarks: Toscana Solaia, Tignanello, Guado al Tasso
16 Awards Louis Jadot (2018) Benchmarks: Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles, Bâtard-Montrachet, Meursault 1er Cru Gouttes d’Or and Charmes, Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Ursules, Bonnes Mares, Grands Echezeaux
Catena Zapata’s Adrianna Vineyard in Argentina 14
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Von Strasser (2018)
Qupé (2015) Benchmarks: Santa Maria Bien Nacido Hillside Estate and X-Block Syrahs, Bien Nacido Block 11 Chardonnay, Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard Syrah and Grenache
Joseph Phelps (2017) Benchmarks: Napa Valley Insignia, Napa Valley Merlot, Sonoma Coast Freestone Chardonnay
L’Ecole No 41 (2016)
E. Guigal (2017)
Benchmarks: Walla Walla Valley Pepper Bridge Vineyard Apogee, Seven Hills Perigee, Ferguson Vineyard
Benchmarks: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côte Rôtie Château d’Ampuis, Condrieu La Doriane
Benchmarks: Eden Valley Hill of Grace, Cyril Henschke Cabernet, Mount Edelstone Shiraz, Julius Riesling
De Loach (2013)
Gary Farrell (2008)
Benchmarks: Champagne Vintage Brut, Brut Rosé, Clos du Mesnil, Grande Cuvée
Benchmarks: Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, OFS Zinfandel
Benchmarks: Russian River Valley Rochioli Vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
Storybook Mountain (2019)
Benchmarks: Napa Valley Estate Reserve Zinfandel, Eastern Exposures Zinfandel
Benchmarks: Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva, Viña Real Gran Reserva and Real de Asúa
Benchmarks: Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde and Alvarinho
Williams Selyem (2019)
M. Chapoutier (2007)
King Estate (2019)
Benchmarks: Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs from Hirsch, Precious Mountain and Russian River Valley Rochioli Riverblock
Benchmarks: Ermitage L’Ermite, Côte Rôtie La Mordorée, Ermitage Blanc Le Méal
Benchmark: Willamette Valley Domaine Pinot Gris
Benchmarks: cabernets including Napa Valley Private Reserve and Knights Valley
Santa Rita (2011)
13 Awards Andrew Will (2018) Benchmarks: Horse Heaven Hills Sorella, Champoux Vineyard, Red Mountain Ciel du Cheval Vineyard
C. von Schubert (2018) Benchmarks: Mosel Maximin Grünhauser Rieslings from Herrenberg and Abtsberg
Flowers (2015) Benchmarks: Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, Camp Meeting Ridge Chardonnay, Sea View Ridge Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12 Awards Niepoort (2016) Benchmarks: Douro Charme and Batuta, Vintage Port, Colheita Port
Benchmarks: Maipo Valley Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley Triple C
Robert Mondavi (2019) Benchmarks: Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet, Oakville To Kalon Fumé Blanc
Ravenswood (2019) Benchmarks: Sonoma Valley Old Hill Vineyard Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel, Sonoma Mountain Pickberry Vineyard
Catena Zapata (2019) Benchmarks: Mendoza Alta Malbec, Gualtallary Adrianna Malbec
Kendall-Jackson (2012) Benchmarks: Alexander Valley Hawkeye Mountain Cabernet, Knights Valley Trace Ridge Cabernet
Frog’s Leap (2018) Benchmarks: Rutherford Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Rutherford Cabernet, Napa Valley Zinfandel
Yalumba (2019) Benchmarks: The Vigilius Viognier, Barossa Old Bush Vine Grenache, The Octavius Shiraz
Dr. Loosen (2016) Benchmarks: Mosel Prädikat rieslings from Wehlener Sonnenuhr and Urziger Würzgarten, Gold Capsule Erdener Prälat
Each winery appears with the number of Top 100 awards earned since the 1988 Buying Guide, the first, to this issue, 2019. The year of the most recent award appears in parentheses. To view a complete list of awards for each winery, visit wineandspiritsmagazine.com.
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Wine & Spirits 32nd Annual Buying Guide
Here are some of the new producers we discovered in our tastings in 2018, as well as a few established growers who surprised us with their latest releases. Watch for these 14 names in the year ahead.
Sarah & Chris Pittenger
CALIFORNIA Medlock Ames
Chris Pittenger recently left Skinner, where his Sierra Foothills mourvedres earned him a place on our cover last February. He’s now devoted himself fulltime to the winery he founded in 2009. Look for his 2016 El Dorado County High Country Red, a blend of cherry blossom–scented pinot and the pomegranate flavors of El Dorado gamay, aged in neutral French oak, powerful and impressively structured. —J.G.
Ames Morison planted this estate with Chris James in the southeastern corner of the Alexander Valley in 2000. After checking in with their customers in 2010, Ames changed up his farming and winemaking style to make less extractive, fresher cabernets. His 2015 Fifty Tons Cabernet, organically farmed on steep hillsides at the estate, has a mountain-grown coolness, fragrant cherry scents and staunch tannins, built to age. —J.G.
Chad Stock is a bona fide Oregon naturalista, making site-specific wines mostly from old-vine or old-clone sites, like his 2016 Willamette Valley Dijon Free Pinot Noir, from vines planted before Dijon clones arrived in Oregon. Along with the violet inflections of whole-cluster spice, it’s juicy and fresh, with a tobacco savor and suave tannins. —P.J.C.
Ashley Trout worked ten harvests in Mendoza and spent eight years at Reininger Winery in Walla Walla before founding her own label in 2006. Brook & Bull is her latest project, launched in 2016. In a region dominated by wines of weight and mass, Trout makes red wines that feel detailed and precise, such as her 2016 Columbia Valley Cabernet Franc, a red with the warmth of Walla Walla that’s also bright, edgy and savory. —P.J.C.
URUGUAY Bodega Garzón
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CALIFORNIA Gros Ventre
WASHINGTON Brook & Bull
Alejandro Bulgheroni looked to Antonio Antonini when he set out to develop this 540-acre estate in the coastal hills 11 miles from the Atlantic. They planted their first vineyards in 2008 and now farm 1,500 plots, divided according to the soils and the orientation towards the sun. Balasto is a selection of the best of these plots, a blend of tannat (45 percent) with cabernet franc, petit verdot and marselan, and is one of our Top 100 Wines 2018. —P.T. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits, Petaluma, CA
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SOUTH AFRICA Silwervis We want to drink more from this group of winemakers based in South Africa’s Swartland: The team includes Ryan Mostert, Samantha Suddons, Michael Roets and Roland Peens. Mostert’s Smiley V3, a wild take on chenin blanc, is one of our Top 100 Best Buys of 2018. —J.G. PaCa Imports, Newport, RI
While this estate dates to 1679, it kicked into high gear in 2011 when Davis Weszeli took over. The Austrian entrepreneur nearly doubled the amount of vineyard, and instituted an organic, holistic approach to farming. Thomas Ganser, formerly of Salomon Undhof, joined in time to make the 2015s, and they are knockouts. Try the 2015 Kamptal Seeberg Erste Lage Riesling, as heady as a farmstand in August, or the Schenkenbichl Grüner Veltliner, its ripe, umami-rich flavors bristling with brisk acidity. —T.Q.T. Savio Soares Selections, NY
GREECE Terra Olympus
Charly Thévenet is part of the latest generation to change perceptions of Beaujolais. Still in his twenties, he’s established his own estate with a 7.5-acre parcel in Régnié, in the foothills of the Côte du Py. He’s farming his vines, planted in 1932 and 1946, with the intention of bottling a wine without inputs. His 2016 hit with the kind of silky satisfaction you might be willing to pay a lot for in the Côte de Nuits. Check it out in our Top 100 Wines of 2018. —J.G. Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
GERMANY: RHEINGAU Von Oetinger Von Oetinger was once a grand estate in Erbach, before a family split divided it in two in 1958. Now Achim Von Oetinger has reunited the two parts to create a meticulously cared for 27-acre estate. His style is for bone-dry wines that have some meat on them, like his 2013 Rheingau Alte Reben Riesling QbA trocken. From his oldest vines, it’s ripe, bold and energetic, the pineapple and peach flavors rippling with acidity, their freshness defying the wine’s age. —T.Q.T. Sacred Thirst Selections, Moraga, CA
ITALY Francesco Versio
FRANCE: BURGUNDY Domaine Heitz-Lochardet Armand Heitz earned his oenology degree in 2011 and started working with his family’s 12.35-acre domaine. His mother, Brigitte Lochardet, had farmed organically; he converted the vineyards to biodynamic farming and slowly took back the contracts, domaine-bottling all his fruit as of 2015. The vines at his parcel of ChassagneMontrachet’s premier cru La Maltroie date to 1967 and produced a cool, brisk 2014, with delicious depths of fruit focused by limestone freshness. —J.G. T. Edward Wines, NY
FRANCE: PROVENCE Château Canadel Vianney Benoist spent four years on the winemaking team at Domaine Tempier before joining his wife, Laure, at her family’s winery. Working 37 acres of vines under organic and biodynamic principles, they made their first Canadel wines in 2014. Their 2016 rosé is stunning, echoing red Bandol in its meaty mourvèdre savor and firm mineral tannins that last with a sense of delicacy. It’s a rosé that could age, or take on spicy lamb sausages. —T.Q.T. De Maison Selections, Chapel Hill, NC
WINE & SPIRITS
At 32, Francesco Versio already has an impressive résumé. He joined Bruno Giacosa as a cellar worker, and became his oenologist in 2011. He moved on to Luigi Oddero in February 2017. In the meantime, he began working some old plots of nebbiolo on his family’s property near Neive, and bottled his first vintage under his own name in 2013, a muscular Barbaresco with bold plum and cherry flavors, along with bright notes of fennel and mint. He bought another plot in Neive in 2016, and we look forward to the wines from his expanding estate. —S.J. Artisanal Cellars, NY
PORTUGAL Azores Wine Co. Two island locals, Filipe Rocha and Paulo Machado, joined forces with António Maçanita from Alentejo to start this project in 2014. Focusing on local grapes, they grow green-olivescented verdelho (the original one, from Madeira) on black volcanic soil. And they blend a savory rosé from saborinho, agronomica, aragones and touriga nacional. The 2017 is as wild and weird as Pico’s volcanic landscape, tasting of orange and turmeric, fruity mushrooms and dried peaches—a wine to chill for wood-grilled sardines. —J.G. Olé Imports, New Rochelle, NY
BUYING GUIDE 2019
photo of Domaine Costal by Domciane Costal
FRANCE: BEAUJOLAIS Charly Thévenet
Star Naoussa vintner Apostoles Thymiopoulos recently set his sights on Rapsani. Like Naoussa, the region specializes in xinomavro, here blended with local grapes krassato and stavroto; the wealth of old vines allowed him to produce deep, concentrated reds right out of the gate. His first release, the 2015 Terra Petra, is rich in cherry-jam flavors with earthy, foresty undertones. —T.Q.T. Athenee Importers & Distributors, Hempstead, NY
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E N J O Y W I N E R E S P O N S I B LY
Wine & Spirits 32nd Annual Buying Guide
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
TOP 100 WINERIES of 2018
Our Top 100 Wineries are playing at the top of their game: They astonished our tasting panels and critics any number of times this year. It’s not easy to do in the midst of more than 15,000 wines. They come from all around the world, from Napa Valley and New York State, from the Andes and remote corners of northwest Spain. You may already know some of the Top 100, such as Marchesi Antinori, which marks its 21st appearance on the list, or Concha y Toro, on its 24th. Others are joining the list for the first time, like Rose & Arrow, a new Oregon venture from Mark Tarlov, or Rotem & Mounir Saouma, a young winery in Châteauneufdu-Pape. We present the US wineries first, followed by the winners from Europe, then the Southern Hemisphere. Their consistency across a range of wines makes them great producers to explore, whether on wine lists, in specialty shops, or in your own private cellar. Reported by Patrick J. Comiskey, Joshua Greene, Stephanie Johnson, Karen Moneymaker, Patricio Tapia, Rachel DelRocco Terrazas and Tara Q. Thomas.
Clockwise from top left: Buena Vista Winery, Laurence Féraud (Domaine du Pégau), Domaine de la Vougeraie, Felton Road, Steve James (Voyager Estate) and Cathy Corison (Corison WInes).
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Wine & Spirits 32nd Annual Buying Guide
TOP 100 WINERIES
US & Canada Anthill Farms California Sonoma Coast Bergström Oregon Willamette Valley Big Basin Vineyards California Santa Cruz Mountains Buena Vista California Russian River Valley Cave Spring Cellars Canada Ontario Col Solare Washington Red Mountain Corison California Napa Valley Cristom Oregon Eola–Amity Hills DeLille Cellars Washington Red Mountain Diamond Creek California Diamond Mountain District, Napa Valley Donkey & Goat California El Dorado County
24 24 25 25 84 28 26 28 29 29 30
Drew California Anderson Valley Evening Land Vineyards Oregon Dundee Hills Gramercy Cellars Washington Columbia Valley Heitz California Napa Valley Hermann J. Wiemer New York Finger Lakes Hirsch California Sonoma Coast Iron Horse California Green Valley of Russian River Valley Keenan California Napa Valley King Estate Oregon Lingua Franca Oregon Willamette Valley Matthiasson California Napa Valley Melville California Sta. Rita Hills
30 32 32 36 33 34 36 37 37 38 40 40
Ovum Oregon Radio-Coteau California Sonoma Coast Ravenswood California Raymond California Napa Valley Robert Mondavi Winery California Napa Valley Roederer Estate California Anderson Valley Rose & Arrow Oregon Willamette Valley Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars California Napa Valley Stags’ Leap Winery California Napa Valley Storybook Mountain California Napa Valley Walter Scott Oregon Willamette Valley Williams Selyem California The Withers California Sonoma Coast
41 41 42 42
Stift Göttweig Austria Kremstal Terroir al Límit Spain Priorat Trimbach France Alsace Domaine Vacheron France Loire Vega-Sicilia Spain Ribera del Duero Domaine de la Vougeraie France Burgundy Robert Weil Germany Rheingau Wine & Soul Portugal Douro Domaine Zind-Humbrecht France Alsace
50 77 51 58 75
43 43 44 45 47 46 48 48 47
Europe & Southern Hemisphere
WINE & SPIRITS
68 73 63 69 73 52 63 57 66 76 65 50 61 62 78 68 61 74 72 54 55 52 79
Mastroberardino Italy Campania Domaine Marc Morey & Fils France Burgundy Oddero Italy Piedmont Domaines Ott France Provence Bruno Paillard France Champagne Palacio de Fefiñanes Spain Rías Baixas Casa da Passarella Portugal Dão Domaine du Pégau France Rhône Raúl Pérez Spain Castilla y León & Galicia Poggio di Sotto Italy Tuscany Domaine de la Pousse d’Or France Burgundy Le Ragnaie Italy Tuscany Rocca di Montegrossi Italy Tuscany Eric Rodez France Champagne Luis A. Rodríguez Vásquez Spain Ribeiro Louis Roederer France Champagne Le Salette Italy Veneto Sandrone Italy Piedmont Rotem & Mounir Saouma France Rhône Scala Dei Spain Priorat Domaine Sigalas Greece Santorini Soalheiro Portugal Vinho Verde
BUYING GUIDE 2019
65 53 67 58 55 78 71 59 75 69 53 70 70 57 80 56 71 67 60 77 64 74
Southern Hemisphere Catena Zapata Argentina Mendoza Concha y Toro Chile d’Arenberg Australia McLaren Vale Errazuriz Chile Felton Road New Zealand Central Otago Giant Steps Australia Yarra Valley Grosset Australia Clare Valley Voyager Estate Australia Margaret River Yalumba Australia South Australia Zuccardi Argentina Mendoza
54 62 72 51
80 84 81 85 85 82 82 83 83 81
photo previous page bottom right by Andrea Johnson
Europe Marchesi Antinori Italy Tuscany Aphros Portugal Vinho Verde Estate Argyros Greece Santorini Tenuta di Biserno Italy Tuscany Blandy’s Portugal Madeira Bouchard Père & Fils France Burgundy Boutari Greece Naoussa Domaine Vincent Carême France Loire Elvio Cogno Italy Piedmont Comando G Spain Madrid Conterno Fantino Italy Piedmont Domaine Marcel Deiss France Alsace Delas Frères France Rhône Dreissigacker Germany Rheinhessen Forjas del Salnés Spain Galicia Gulfi Italy Sicily Fritz Haag Germany Mosel Kabaj Slovenia Kopke Portugal Porto Larmandier-Bernier France Champagne J. Lassalle France Champagne Philippe Livera France Burgundy R. López de Heredia Spain Rioja
e t a r el b
THE FIRST WINE OF THE HARVEST WITH BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU & ROSÃ‰
STOCK UP FOR THE HOLIDAYS ON THE THIRD THURSDAY IN NOVEMBER
An Oregon winemaker with deep ties to Burgundy, Josh Bergström grows especially refined pinot noir and chardonnay. Winemakers Dave Low, Anthony Filiberti and Webster Marquez
Anthill Farms CALIFORNIA
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Bootstrapping their own label, three winemakers offer syrah and pinot noir as fresh and cool as the misty coast where they grow. Three young winemakers answered a classified ad: Anthony Filiberti, Dave Low and Webster Marquez noticed grapes for sale from an unnamed vineyard in Mendocino County. After trekking to a ridge north of Anderson Valley, they decided to buy the fruit. Then they set out looking for more, launching the project that became Anthill Farms with the release of several vineyard-designated pinot noirs and a sangiovese from the 2004 vintage. Fourteen harvests later, they continue to bootstrap operations at Anthill Farms: Two of the three still hold positions at other wineries—Filiberti at Hirsch; Low at Papapietro Perry and The Withers—while Marquez left his post at Bluxome Street in 2015 to handle day-to-day winemaking at Anthill. The core of their current lineup includes wines from the Peters Vineyard in Sebastopol, Campbell Ranch in Annapolis and the AbbeyHarris Vineyard in Boonville. Through the detailed farming dialog they have with their growers, Filiberti, Low and Marquez are making some of the best cool-climate pinot noir and syrah in Northern California. —K.M. 2015 Mendocino County Comptche Ridge Pinot Noir ($48, 93 points) Owned by brothers Mark and John Weir, (whose own careers have ranged from logging in Mendocino to mango farming in the Philippines) the Comptche Ridge Vineyard has expanded under the guidance of the Anthill Farms trio, from the original two acres to eight acres of pinot noir. They dry-farm the vineyard, encouraging the roots to explore deep into the cool ridgetop soils, producing fruit that the Anthill team turns into a fresh, rose-scented pinot. Its foresty notes of wild strawberries and savory roots may make your mouth water.
2016 Sonoma Coast Syrah ($32, 93 points) Tom and Randy Peters planted an acre of syrah for Anthill Farms, which uses a majority of that fruit for the Peters Vineyard Syrah. Meanwhile, Filiberti has worked with Steve Campbell, who also grows syrah for the team, to shift the farming at Campbell Ranch toward organic methods—stopping herbicides, switching to organic pest control, using compost and cover crops to amend the soil, and limiting irrigation. In 2016, the Anthill team blended syrah from the two sites for a Sonoma Coast bottling, a wine that opens to pink-peppercorn spice, its fruit layering earth and animal scents into dark grape flavors, its cool tannins lending briskness and tension. If you love hiking on the Sonoma Coast, this is a wine that will take you there. Founded: 2003 • Owners/winemakers/viticulturists: Anthony Filiberti, Dave Low, Webster Marquez • Acres owned: None Annual production: 7,000 cases 24
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Josh Bergström started his career making pinot noir and chardonnay in the Chehalem Mountains in a ripe, well-padded style. In 2011, he went to Burgundy and helped out with harvest for several producers, including Etienne Sauzet, Bernard Moreau and JeanMarc Roulot. That Josh Bergström experience obliged him to reevaluate all of his wine practices, starting with the viticulture on his family’s estate, which he’s since converted to biodynamics. It also inspired him to reconsider his vinification techniques, from oak regimes to pumpovers and yeast additions, but his biggest takeaway was a lesson on when to pick: earlier than he was accustomed to, or comfortable with. To follow through, he weaned himself off picking on flavor, learning instead to trust that the flavors would be there in the wine, even if he couldn’t taste them. The last five vintages have been about absorbing this lesson, honing its impact in his wines, which have lost their heft and become more precise, focused, complex and ageworthy. —P.J.C. 2016 Chehalem Mountains Winery Block Pinot Noir ($75, 93 points) This wine comes from a scant three acres of vines growing on several feet of beach sand over sandstone. With 10,000 vines per acre, the plot obliges Bergström to farm it mostly by hand. That planting density, as well as the preponderance of sand, places more stress on the vines here than at most places in the valley. The 2016 feels at once ripe and firmly structured, its black-cherry core lent spice and texture by judicious use of whole clusters in the fermentation. 2016 Chehalem Mountains Silice Pinot Noir ($70, 93 points) Silice Vineyard is adjacent to Winery Block, stretching over 21 acres of rolling hills. It’s planted to more than two dozen clones of pinot and chardonnay, all dry-farmed on sand. More open than the Winery Block bottling, the 2016 Silice Pinot Noir is a lacy, mildly savory wine with scents of tea and dark fruit and fine, melting tannins.
2016 Willamette Valley Sigrid Chardonnay ($95, 94 points) Bergström originally conceived of Sigrid as an Oregon version of Chassagne-Montrachet, though his 2011 visit to Burgundy changed that conception considerably. “The style caught up to the idea,” Bergström says. In practical terms, this means a wine that comes in at 12.7 percent alcohol and still carries amplitude, the lees notes interwoven with the apple flavors to create a mouthfilling, complex chardonnay without being excessive, like an aria delivered as chamber music. Founded: 1999 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Josh Bergström Owners: John & Karen Bergström, Josh & Caroline Bergström Acres owned: 85 • Annual production: 12,000 cases Estate grown: 85%
Big Basin Vineyards
Bradley Brown’s syrahs and pinot noirs translate the tectonic power of the Santa Cruz Mountains into elegance.
Frenchman Jean-Charles Boisset has resuscitated this iconic Sonoma winery.
Bradley Brown left Silicon Valley for an abandoned vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s a steep hillside facing southwest toward Monterey Bay, neighboring Big Basin State Park. Brown purchased the property from a timber company, cleared the poison oak and set out to plant vines with the help of John Alban. He believes the selections of syrah he planted in Bradley Brown 2000 at Rattlesnake Rock, with their oblong berries, are similar to the old selections of the northern Rhône’s serine grape. He farms the cool, windy site organically, focusing on Rhône varieties while working with growers in Corralitos and Bonny Doon for his range of single-vineyard pinot noirs. Brown harvested redwoods from a neighboring property to build a timber-frame barn for his winery, where he makes his syrahs in much the same way as his pinots—long cold soaks, whole-berry fermentations that run long and slow, in barrel, without added yeasts. His 2015 pinots rocked our tasting panel, as did his 2014 Rattlesnake Rock Syrah. —J.G.
It might take a Frenchman to see the value in California history. JeanCharles Boisset is a Burgundian whose family company also owns Raymond and Domaine de la Vougeraie, both W&S Brian Maloney Top 100 Wineries in 2018. In 2011, he and his wife, Gina Gallo, purchased Robert Mondavi’s residence at the top of Wappo Hill, one of the most iconic homes in Napa Valley. That same year, Boisset set his sights on Buena Vista, the historic stone winery founded by Agoston Haraszthy in 1857. He’d visited Buena Vista with his grandparents when he was 11, and remains fascinated by its history and the hoard of legends that surrounded Haraszthy, a Hungarian count, said to have been seen last by a hungry alligator in a swamp in Nicaragua. By 2011, Buena Vista had been through a decade-long succession of owners who had done little to resuscitate it. Boisset took it over, and by 2015, the wines started gaining our attention again—the 2013 Count’s Selection Carignane from Mendocino suddenly earned 92 points, as did the Ida’s Pinot. Brian Maloney, who also makes the wine at Boisset’s DeLoach Vineyard, has been putting out an increasing number of exceptional wines at Buena Vista: The winery’s latest releases are worthy of attention, as is a tour of the stone winery, recently restored. —J.G.
2014 Santa Cruz Mountains Rattlesnake Rock Syrah ($55, 93 points) The Alban selections of syrah growing in varied elevations and soils—shale, mudstone and sandstone—grew a tart, woodsy, red-fruited wine in 2014. It shows off the refreshing side of syrah, with the cool ripeness of this coastal-influenced site. 2015 Santa Cruz Mountains Alfaro Family Vineyards Pinot Noir ($60, 94 points) This vineyard is on the northeastern side of the Gabilan Mountains, just above Corralitos, at an elevation of 1,000 feet. In 2015, the yields were low, which helped the stems ripen along with the fruit, allowing Brown to ferment this wine as whole bunches. That seems to have pumped up the wine with umami energy, the tannins open and racy, the fruit revealing scents of rose petals, red apple skin and black mushrooms.
2015 Santa Cruz Mountains Ben Lomond Mountain Coast Grade Vineyard Pinot Noir ($55, 95 points) Jim Beauregard’s vineyard in Bonny Doon is three miles from the Pacific and 1,300 feet above it, not far from a limestone quarry. Brown fermented this with about 70 percent whole bunches, creating a pinot noir with the energy, clarity and lift of a wine grown in limestone. It’s easy to believe you can smell the coastal forest, the ocean breeze and the limestone in the wine; whatever that smell actually might be, it’s pretty great.
Founded: 1998 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Bradley Brown Owners: Bradley & Wendy Brown • Acres owned: 10 Annual production: 5,000 cases • Estate grown: 27%
2013 Napa Valley Chateau Buena Vista Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($175, 93 points) Maloney makes this floral cabernet primarily from grapes grown in St. Helena. Its heady purple fruit and chocolate-rich tannins gain detail with air, developing a rose-petal scent and a deep soil character, significantly influenced by new oak but finely integrated and clean. The wine finishes with an openness that suggests it will age well. 2015 Sonoma Coast Ida’s Selection Pinot Noir ($48, 92 points) Maloney is on his home turf with this Sonoma Coast pinot, focused on fruit from a vineyard in Green Valley, with contributions from Sebastopol, Occidental and Freestone. It’s a bright cherry red, with detail in the tannins, rocky and black, glinting with freshness. The sunny warmth of the fruit layers with the cool fragrance of a forest after a rain. In combination, the wine feels saturated, gentle and fine. 2015 Green Valley of Russian River Valley Natalia’s Selection Chardonnay ($42, 92 points) Charles Heintz farms the grapes for this wine at two vineyards, Heintz and Searby. Maloney fashioned that fruit into a gracious chardonnay with apple-blossom scents and fresh red-apple flavors, seeming to capture the fog in its honeysuckle freshness. It’s round and creamy, the waxy richness supported by a fine structure of oak. Founded: 1857 • Winemaker: Brian Maloney • Viticulturist: Taylor Ramsey Owner: Jean-Charles Boisset • Acres owned: None Annual production: 70,000 cases • Estate grown: N/A WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS
Corison ST. HELENA Cathy Corison makes direct and focused cabernet from St. Helena’s sought-after benchland soil.
2015 St. Helena Sunbasket Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($175, 95 points) André Tchelistcheff originally planted this vineyard for Beaulieu. Three decades ago, Cathy Corison began working with fruit from the site, just north of her winery.
2014 St. Helena Napa Valley Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($175, 94 points) This classical cabernet grows at the vineyard behind Corison’s winery. Planted in 1971 on St. George rootstock, the vines have survived phylloxera, providing an opportunity to taste contemporary old-vine cabernet from one of Napa Valley’s coveted benchland sites. And it delivers: St. Helena may be one of the warmest spots in the valley, but these vines are rooted in cool earth, and they carry that coolness directly into the wine. It’s gently juicy, with cherry-plum flavors, though the main impression is the suppleness of earthy tannins. Like the great cabernets of the 1970s, this should age with grace. 2015 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon ($95, 93 points) Chewy and warm when first opened, this wine takes time to settle into cooler tones of roses, herbs and tobacco. Its dark-berry flavors are gentle and savory, its tannins fine. Cathy Corison blends the wine from fruit grown in three benchland sites, at the border between Rutherford and St. Helena.
From top right: 2015 St. Helena Sunbasket Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; Cathy Corison; Corison's Sunbasket Vineyard
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
With fierce dedication to her vineyards and a sense of classicism in winemaking, Cathy Corison hasn’t wavered in making honest and vibrant cabernet sauvignon for the past 31 years. While she sources a small percentage of fruit for her St. Helena bottling, Corison’s Kronos and Sunbasket cabernets are 100 percent from estate vineyards. Corison purchased Kronos, along with her winery site on the west side of Highway 29, in 1995, and the old vines, planted in 1971, have flourished under her fastidious care. She harvests a scant one-and-aquarter ton of fruit per acre in most years; that concentration, alongside a hands-off approach to winemaking, ensures the red-fruited and silky juiciness of the Kronos wines. The Sunbasket vineyard—a stone’s throw from Kronos—had long been a source for Corison’s St. Helena Cabernet before she purchased it in 2014. Since that vintage, she has featured Sunbasket in vineyard-designated bottlings. —K.M.
She purchased the vineyard in 2014. Her 2015 shines with that coolness of deeprooted cabernet harvested at the right time. It’s full and lush, the flavors extending into a savory, red-fruited finish, meaty and rich rather than sweet. Its concentration doesn’t get in the way of its dynamic energy, which brings out floral notes and cool spice, gentle and lasting.
Founded: 1987 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Cathy Corison • Owners: Cathy Corison, William Martin • Acres owned: 19 • Annual production: 3,000 cases Estate grown: 63% 26
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Can rough, knobby limestone create a silky smooth Cabernet? The limestone bedrock in Paso Robles stresses the vines, creating more concentrated tannins and exceptionally smooth Cabernets.
ÂŠ 2018 JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery LLC, Paso Robles, CA. All Rights Reserved. JUSTIN and accompanying logos are trademarks of JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery LLC or its aďŹƒ liates. JV180718-03
Exceptional from every angle.
Col Solare WASHINGTON
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
A Red Mountain winery built around a flagship Bordeaux blend, Col Solare is expanding around its estate vineyard. For its first 15 years, this joint venture between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Marchesi Antinori made just one wine, a cabernet-dominant Bordeaux blend with a Columbia Valley Darel Allwine appellation. As the years passed, the wine increasingly took on a Red Mountain personality, one that coalesced, in the early 2000s, around a vineyard and winery established in the heart of that appellation. The wine was designated Red Mountain in 2010. Fruit from Col Solare's estate vineyard, planted in 2004 to five Bordeaux varieties, plus syrah, has been creeping into the red blend every year since. Winemaker Darel Allwine has been with the brand since 2003, and winemaker since 2013, working with consultants Renzo Cotarella and Bob Betz, MW. Allwine has been there to watch the vineyard mature, and uses its varietal diversity to broaden the portfolio. This year, his work with malbec, syrah and carmenère landed Col Solare among our Top 100 Wineries. —P.J.C.
2015 Red Mountain Collector’s Society ($95, 93 points) In 2014, Col Solare’s flagship red was labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon for the first time. The team bottled a blend as well as a series of single-varietal wines for its new wine club, the Collector’s Society. The 2015 Collector’s Society Red, based on cabernet sauvignon, has all the textural polish and elegance typical of Col Solare’s top blends in the past, overlain with notes of clove and lavender from a complement of carmenère. It’s complex and satisfying, with a texture as soft and pretty as a satin pillow. 2015 Red Mountain Component Collection Syrah ($85, 93 points) Col Solare grows a little more than an acre of syrah, and it’s not typically a part of the flagship wine. Instead, Allwine bottles it on its own, the quality of the fruit a testament to Dick Boushey’s vineyard management. The 2015 is rich but not jammy; instead, it captures the variety’s pungent spice and savor—no small feat in a place as warm as Red Mountain in a hot vintage.
Cristom’s biodynamically farmed estate grows some of the most regionally expressive pinot noirs in Oregon. Burgundy lovers Paul and Eileen Gerrie founded Cristom in 1992, establishing four remarkable vineyards—Marjorie, Eileen, Jessie and Louise—arrayed over an east-facing hillside in the Eola–Amity Hills. Today, their son Tom runs the estate, which now extends over 105 acres. He’s been working to develop the biodiversity of the farm and, as of this year, he’s implemented biodynamic practices at all the vineyards, including the new 30-acre Paul Gerrie Vineyard just north of Witness Tree. Steve Doerner, Cristom’s winemaker for 26 years, works to tease out the subtleties of each site while retaining an Eola–Amity Hills signature of highly delineated, mineral textures— an element aided by Doerner’s penchant for whole-cluster fermentations. This year, we tasted pinot noirs from three vintages, all of them warm, and were impressed with the way they handled the heat. By hanging more fruit in the vineyard to counteract excessive sugar development, Gerrie and Doerner have used the larger, slow-ripening yields to produce wines that combine generosity with finesse. —P.J.C.
2014 Eola–Amity Hills Jessie Vineyard Pinot Noir ($60, 94 points) The 2014 Jessie took top honors this year. The vineyard, planted in 1994, is the steepest parcel on the property and has the estate’s shallowest soils. The 2014 is gentle and uncharacteristically refreshing for a warm-vintage wine, reflecting a kind of radial energy without heat, articulated through the cooling filter of whole-cluster spice. 2015 Eola–Amity Hills Louise Vineyard Pinot Noir ($65, 93 points) The 2015 Louise is crafted from selections off a nine-acre vineyard that spans two soil types: Jory volcanic series and flood silts. Blending fruit grown on both soils resulted in a light, red-fruited wine with a tea-like savor and delicate acidity.
2015 Red Mountain Component Collection Malbec ($85, 92 points) Two Col Solare malbecs performed well in our tastings this year: a Collector’s Society bottling, and this Component bottling. Both have a similar structure, compact, powerful and ageworthy. But the Component Collection wine in 2015, a barrel selection, has more movement and finesse, not to mention an earthy, forest-floor note that gives the wine some additional layering and complexity. It’s a wine to lay down, then decant and ponder over a hanger steak.
2016 Eola–Amity Hills Chardonnay ($40, 93 points) Cristom is not known for chardonnay, though a decade ago, the company was making three every vintage, until they grafted much of it over to pinot. In 2016, the estate was down to just a half acre, a high-density planting established in 1993. It’s a shame they don’t have more, because the 2016 wine that came off it is a beauty, succulent and generous in its pear and pineapple flavors, less edgy than some of its chardonnay-focused neighbors, but tremendously satisfying all the same.
Founded: 1995 • Winemaker: Darel Allwine • Viticulturist: Dick Boushey Owners: Chateau Ste. Michelle & Marchesi Antinori • Acres owned: 29 Annual production: 6,000 cases • Estate grown: 55%
Founded: 1992 • Winemaker: Steve Doerner • Owner/viticulturist: Tom Gerrie Acres owned: 239 (89 planted) • Annual production: 18,000 cases Estate grown: 80%
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Chris Upchurch’s concentrated Red Mountain wines form the centerpiece of his Columbia Valley portfolio. DeLille Cellars has been making wines in the Columbia Valley for decades; their talented owner/ winemaker Chris Upchurch has garnered contracts with many storied vineJason Gorski & Chris Upchurch yards valleywide, like Red Willow and Harrison Hill. But over the years, Red Mountain has clearly become his preferred terroir. In the last decade, he’s honed his vineyard selections for DeLille’s top wines to four Red Mountain vineyards, two of which, Grand Ciel and Upchurch, are estate owned, while the other two, Klipsun and Ciel du Cheval, rank among the appellation’s oldest and finest. Grand Ciel, planted in 2001 in a partnership with Jim Holmes (since retired) is on what Upchurch describes as the heart of the hill, with ideal exposure and drainage. The Upchurch Vineyard, on a plateau on the south end of the AVA, offers a more floral aspect that offsets the power of the appellation’s fruit. Both places give Upchurch what he thinks of as Red Mountain’s greatest asset: “It’s a place where you get structure and ripeness at the same time,” he says. —P.J.C. 2015 Red Mountain Chaleur Estate ($80, 94 points) Though Upchurch describes 2015 as a warm year, he found the flavors kept pace with sugar development. “In a warm year sugars might soar, and the flavors lag behind,” he says. “Not in 2015. Even the seeds turned black and crunchy in August.” Chaleur Estate is two-thirds cabernet sauvignon, with most of the balance cabernet franc and merlot, primarily from two estate vineyards. It possesses plenty of Red Mountain density, a broad-shouldered wine that becomes surprisingly elegant with air.
2015 Red Mountain Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon ($69, 94 points) Four Flags represents the best lots of cabernet from DeLille’s top Red Mountain sources, Klipsun, Ciel, Grand Ciel and Upchurch. The 2015 is a big wine, with compelling notes of cedar and five-spice. It’s powerfully structured, but the tannins don’t so much stop the wine as envelop it, firmly shaping the dark fruit within. 2015 Yakima Valley Signature Syrah ($46, 92 points) This wine is a testament to the skills of Upchurch and winemaker Jason Gorski: a syrah composed of more than half Red Mountain fruit that's light on its feet. Perhaps it’s the 30 percent of fruit coming from Dick Boushey’s cooler vineyard in the Yakima Valley, or the two percent viognier they’ve blended in, but, with a little air, this wine feels graceful and energetic despite its formidable tannins. Founded: 1992 • Winemakers: Chris Upchurch, Jason Gorski Viticulturist: Dick Boushey • Owners: Chris Upchurch, Jay Soloff, Greg Lill, Pat Lill Jorgenson • Acres owned: 35 • Annual production: 25,000 cases Estate grown: 10%
DIAMOND MOUNTAIN DISTRICT Diamond Creek cabernets prove that cru wines are not only possible in Napa Valley, but alive and well. Al Brounstein was a businessman and Francophile who set out to become a gentleman farmer in 1968. He had traveled to Bordeaux, talked with the vineyard workers about what made the wines distinct from one vineyard to another, then Phil Steinschriber cajoled cuttings out of two proprietors of premier cru vineyards in the Médoc. He used those cuttings to propagate vines, which he planted on three distinct parcels along a bend in Diamond Creek; some of those original vines are still producing today, while others have been replanted to selections from the first planting. From the start, he bottled his three parcels separately, and what’s remarkable about these three cabernets is how different they are. There’s the ferrous-soil beauty of the Red Rock Terrace, and Gravelly Meadow’s raspberry-leaf and cedar-box aromas. And the vibrant, red-fruited cabernet sauvignon of Volcanic Hill, its lithe power derived from the white volcanic soil on a south-facing hill. Those consistent personalities are sustained, in part, by a consistent team, led by Phil Steinschriber, who has farmed the vines and made the wines since 1991. But it’s the vines and the clearly delineated vineyards that Brounstein established in 1968 that have led Diamond Creek to its fifteenth Top 100 award in the new millennium. —K.M.
2014 Diamond Mountain District Red Rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon ($225, 96 points) Red Rock, with its deep, iron-rich soils, is often the most buxom of Diamond Creek’s cabernets. The terraced vines face north, that exposure further cooled by Pacific breezes crossing a cut in the Mayacamas and following the creek down past the vines. Cool fruit runs through this vintage, saturating the wine with scents of crushed strawberries and chewy black-cherry skins. It’s bright and zesty even as the structure is grand, gracious enough to be approachable as a young wine, though powerful enough to age for a decade or more. 2014 Diamond Mountain District Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon ($225, 95 points) This is a supple and succulent vintage of Volcanic Hill, Diamond Creek’s south-facing slope of white volcanic soil. New oak scents and tannins obscure some of the wine’s expression at first, but the flavors are lively enough to power through that oak sheen and employ it as a complement to their richness. Scents of violets emerge with time, as do deep tones of tobacco and bright, earthy red spice. The interplay of freshness and ripeness will favor this wine’s development over the next decade.
Founded: 1968 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Phil Steinschriber Owner: Boots Brounstein • Acres owned: 79 (25 planted) Annual production: 2,000 cases • Estate grown: 100% WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
MENDOCINO Working on the high ridges of Mendocino and close to the Pacific, Jason Drew produces impeccably farmed cool-climate syrahs and pinot noirs. Barsotti Vineyard
Donkey & Goat CALIFORNIA
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Based in Berkeley, the Brandts produce clean natural wines. Tracey and Jared Brandt left their San Francisco and Silicon Valley tech jobs after the crash in 2001 to work harvest in France. They zeroed in on the Rhône, and started cold-calling vignerons until they got Eric Texier on the phone. Texier and his wife had lived in Chicago, spoke English and agreed to take the Brandts on, introducing them to minimal-intervention, natural wine. Back in California, they set up shop in a warehouse in the Berkeley flats. Jared headed to the geology library at UC Davis, scanning wine regions for the kind of decomposed granite they’d found in the Rhône, which is how their production leaned into the Sierra Foothills. Today, working with growers throughout the North Coast, the Brandts focus on a distinctive style of wine that minimizes intervention and diminishes inputs to a small amount of sulfur while emphasizing clean lines. —J.G.
2016 El Dorado County Eliza Barsotti Vineyard ($42, 93 points) In 2008, The Brandts work with El Dorado viticulturist Ron Mansfield, who brought Jared’s interest in clairette to the Barsotti family; they agreed to plant Rhône whites in a cool spot in their vineyard. Jared finds that the clay soils help the vines sustain acidity in their grapes, which he coferments with grenache blanc, vermentino, picpoul and roussanne. That barrel fermentation builds a wine with a supple texture and complex layers of flavor, from fresh pear to darker tones of pork broth and smoke. 2014 El Dorado County Fenaughty Vineyard Syrah ($42, 92 points) Since 2005, the Brandts have been making syrah from the Fenaughty Vineyard, where the vine roots date to 1973 and the grafts to 1980. It’s a north-facing granite hillside rising to 2,800 feet, and their wine captures the mineral intensity of fruit from deep-rooted vines. There’s no winemaking sleight-of-hand to get in between you and a fresh, compelling syrah from the foothills. 2016 Anderson Valley Filigreen Farm Ramato Pinot Gris ($26, 92 points) When Tracey set out to make a skin-contact white, she found pinot gris at a biodynamic vineyard in Booneville. The Brandts destem the grapes, pour those whole grapes into a concrete vat, then cover them with a blanket of carbon dioxide. They siphon off enough free-run juice every day to fill one barrel, leaving the remaining juice on the skins. After five or six days, they press, including the first juice off the press in the blend, then, after fermentation, allow the wine to rest in barrel for ten months. Their Ramato is light red rather than orange, with fresh flavors of pink grapefruit and tangerine that hover on the spectrum between gris and noir. 30
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Founded: 2004 • Owners/winemakers: Tracey & Jared Brandt Acres owned: None • Annual production: 6,500 cases
Jason Drew bottled his first wines from Valenti Ranch in 2006. The vineyard is planted on a ridge that faces east, just barely protected from the winds off the Pacific, six miles away. The climate can be Jason Drew extreme, but the syrah vines can take it, and when the vintage cooperates, Drew bottles one of the most astonishing red wines in California. His 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2016 Valenti syrahs all earned 95 points or better. Drew got his start making syrah and pinot noir in Santa Barbara, before he and his wife, Molly, moved to Mendocino. He now focuses his attention on high-elevation and far coast sites, marginal climates that give crunchy, fresh fruit when he can coax it to ripen. He took over the lease at Valenti in 2013 and has since transitioned to organic farming, taking an exceptional site to a new level. —J.G.
2016 Mendocino Ridge Valenti Ranch Syrah ($48, 95 points) Jason Drew makes this wine without added yeasts and with 50 percent whole clusters, cofermenting the fruit with a little viognier. It’s a coastal syrah built for Rhône-heads, all cracked-green-peppercorn spice and porky intensity. As it opens, it turns stemmy in the best way, and races, fragrant, rosy, with the scent of freshly turned earth and tart red fruit. If you appreciate cool, crunchy reds with energy, don’t miss this vintage. 2016 Mendocino Ridge Perli Vineyard Syrah ($48, 93 points) Perli is 12 miles from the coast, a high ridge rising to 2,200 feet, the vines facing northeast. The plant material is different here than at Valenti: half of Drew’s Valenti is Chave selection, while half of his Perli is a selection Steve Alden made from his vines at McDowell Valley Vineyard. While Drew’s Valenti seduces with its aroma, his Perli is all about texture, meaty, almost beefy in its richness. This packs savory black cherry and blackberry into its powerful flavors, lasting, graceful and clean. 2015 Mendocino Ridge Field Selections Pinot Noir ($80, 91 points) This is the second release from Drew’s estate vineyard, a former apple orchard on the coastal side of the Mendocino Ridge appellation, three miles from the sea. It carries the scent of a conifer forest, along with rose hips and stem spice, then tastes of red apples and cranberries over tense, earthy tannins. A powerful young pinot noir, this needs a year or two in bottle to mellow.
Founded: 2000 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Jason Drew Owners: Jason & Molly Drew • Acres owned: 7 planted Annual production: 2,500 cases • Estate grown: 30%
sebastián y josé alberto zuccardi
TOP 100 WINERY OF THE YEAR
YEAR’S BEST ARGENTINEAN MALBEC
JOSÉ ZUCCARDI MALBEC 2013
“A wine with distinctive tannins, firm and sharp, sustaining flavors of black cherries and spice. It’s generous rather than concentrated, with floral notes in a refreshing finish”
imported by: winesellers ltd. www.winesellersltd.com
Gramercy Cellars WALLA WALLA Known for his distinctive Walla Walla syrahs, Greg Harrington also produced exceptional cabernet sauvignon this year. Seven Springs Vineyard
Evening Land Vineyards EOLA–AMITY HILLS
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman are growing svelte, savory pinot noir and chardonnay at a spectacular biodynamic estate. Evening Land’s 2015s represent the second vintage, start to finish, for Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman at the Oregon winery they purchased in 2013. Parr and Moorman have made cool-climate, lowalcohol, high-acid wines in California for Sandhi and Domaine de la Côte for years now, and were inclined to believe the prevailing wisdom about Oregon—that it’s a cool-climate growing region. But to Moorman, who’s used to dealing with a summer of intense fog and winds in the Sta. Rita Hills, when temperatures in 2015 in the Eola– Amity Hills rose into the 90s and spiked over 100°F., it didn’t seem all that cold. So they’ve been adjusting their viticulture, shading their fruit, fighting against vigor and calibrating their response to the short but intense growing season to replicate the crunchy, high-acid style the two are known for in their other brands. —P.J.C. 2015 Eola–Amity Hills Summum Seven Springs Estate Chardonnay ($100, 95 points) Summum is ELV’s flagship chardonnay. It comes off a narrow band of older vines planted on a stony ridge at the heart of the vineyard, with especially shallow soils—a parcel, incidentally, that Burgundian vintner Dominique Lafon discovered with much excitement when he worked with the brand. The 2015 is marvelously complex, with a built-in tension between pure pear and apple fruit and stony, leesy savor. It’s mineral and lithe at once, built to age.
2015 Eola–Amity Hills La Source Seven Springs Estate Pinot Noir ($75, 93 points) The source for La Source is the top rows of Seven Springs, at 700 feet of elevation and near the crest of the hill, where the soils are shallow, and daily winds buffet the vines, resulting in small clusters and small berries with unusually thick skins. In 2015 La Source is concentrated, even as the flavors remain red-fruited and bright. The acidity carries a whiff of bergamot and spice, a nod toward Moorman and Parr’s penchant for whole-cluster fermentations (35 percent).
At Gramercy Cellars, Greg Harrington established himself as a syrah specialist, having been a student of Cornas and Côte-Rôtie since his years as a sommeGreg Harrington lier in San Francisco, Las Vegas and New York City. He founded his winery to pursue the variety and produces some of the most lauded versions in Washington State. Early in his tenure, Harrington also tried making cabernet—Washington, after all, is a great source for Bordeaux varieties. However, he says, “I realized I kinda sucked at making cab.” He decided that if he couldn’t sort things out by 2012, he’d stop making it altogether. Shortly after, grower Kent Walliser offered him some old-vine parcels from the Dionysus and Bacchus vineyards, including some blocks over 50 years old. He took them, and, on the advice of some Napa colleagues, picked the fruit slightly riper than he had been doing. That added ripeness helped the wines turn a corner: Two vintages in, Harrington’s Reserve Cabernet is Gramercy’s top-scoring wine this year. —P.J.C.
2014 Columbia Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($95, 93 points) Harrington typically blends his Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Bacchus and Phinny Hill vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills, but, in 2014, Harrington switched out Phinny Hill for fruit from Octave Vineyard, a 40-acre hillside block from the SeVein project of Walla Walla, of which Harrington owns a part. As with most Gramercy wines, it has a powerful aromatic presence, with its savory cedar accents and anise highlights. The flavors are generous and lifted, the acids framing the wine as much as the tannins do. 2015 Walla Walla Valley Forgotten Hills Vineyard Syrah ($60, 92 points) Forgotten Hills, a volcanic site near the Blue Mountains that Harrington purchased in 2015, is proving to be a formidable fruit source, the wine it produces consistently lifted and mildly funky, with a whiff of Rocks character derived, probably, from its high basalt content beneath the topsoil.
2015 Eola–Amity Hills Anden Seven Springs Estate Pinot Noir ($100, 93 points) Anden comes off a plot of Pommard-clone vines planted in 1984, the oldest on the property, that’s slowly succumbing to phylloxera. The vines now struggle mightily to ripen (this 2015 reached only 12.5 percent alcohol). Parr and Moorman hand harvest and sort vigorously; it’s vinified with 100 percent whole clusters and aged 16 months in new Ermitage barrels. The result is a tense, focused, ageworthy wine, with complex aromatics and an especially satiny texture.
2015 Walla Walla Valley The Deuce Syrah ($54, 93 points) The Deuce is always anchored by the fruit of Les Collines, a staple source for Gramercy syrah. This year Harrington added a bit of Forgotten Hills to the blend, lending, he thinks, a bit of structure and a lot of lift. He ferments it in concrete with 85 percent whole clusters, then ages it in puncheons, producing a syrah with dark red fruit flavors that are compact and savory with peppery spice.
Founded: 2005 • Owners/winemakers: Sashi Moorman, Rajat Parr Viticulturist: Jessica Cortell • Acres owned: 80 • Annual production: 4,000 cases • Estate grown: 100%
Founded: 2005 • Winemakers: Greg Harrington, Brandon Moss Viticulturist: Chris Banek • Owners: Greg & Pam Harrington, Brandon Moss Acres owned: 22 • Annual production: 10,000 cases • Estate grown: 30%
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Hermann J. Wiemer FINGER LAKES
2015 Seneca Lake Magdalena Noble Select Riesling ($75, 94 points) Late-season conditions in 2015 were ideal for botrytis in Magdalena, says Merwarth; this Noble Select is from a section of the vineyard that succumbed to noble rot. At nearly 33 percent residual sugar, the wine is astonishingly concentrated, heady with botrytis scents of beeswax, and saffron. It’s the sort of wine that’s guaranteed to bring a lull to a conversation while your guests try to plumb its depths. 2016 Seneca Lake Single Select Riesling ($45, 95 points) Merwarth’s top wine this year, Single Select, is a first release, drawn from Josef Vineyard. Merwarth describes the 2016 harvest as a cakewalk—at least until the third week of October, when a storm cell loomed from the Ohio Valley. He managed to pick a good amount before the storm hit, but what remained ended up heavily botrytised. Typically, he would separate clean fruit from botrytised fruit, but there was too much of the latter to fit into any other of his schemes—so he decided to ferment the lot of it together. The result was the serendipitous Single Select, a wine with Auslese must weights and haunting intersections of botrytis character and apricot fruit, all vividly framed by acidity. Merwarth’s acumen with precision blending may have been moot in this instance, but the result was spectacular.
From top right: 2016 Seneca Lake Single Select Riesling; Fred Merwarth; Hermann J. Weimer’s Josef Vineyard
Founded: 1979 • Winemaker/viticulturalist: Fred Merwarth • Owners: Fred & Maressa Merwarth, Oskar Bynke • Acres owned: 76 • Annual production: 15,000 cases • Estate grown: 85% WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Hermann J. Wiemer not only took Top 100 honors this year: Fred Merwarth’s 2016s pretty much crushed the new tasting table in our Los Angeles offices. Of 12 wines recommended by our tasting panels, 11 of them received a score of 90 or above. This is partly due to a great vintage, to be sure, but it’s also proof of Merwarth’s talents as a winegrower. When it comes to riesling, there is simply no one better in the United States. Hermann Wiemer was part of the first great wave of Finger Lakes vinifera winegrowers. He founded his winery in 1979 and developed 76 acres of estate vineyards, mostly planted to riesling, on Seneca Lake. Fred Merwarth came to work for Wiemer as an apprentice in 2001; he and his wife, Maressa, together with their college friend Oskar Bynke, bought the winery and vineyards from Wiemer six years later. Each year Merwarth draws fruit from three estate parcels: Josef, Magdalena and HJW. Each are planted to multiple clones and are picked over the course of multiple passes, so as to collect fruit in varying degrees of ripeness and levels of botrytis incursion. Merwarth vinifies each pass separately, resulting in as many as 35 lots each vintage. His rieslings are meticulously constructed—even his single-vineyard wines entail a lot of blending—and it shows in their precise structures and flavors. —P.J.C.
2016 Seneca Lake Reserve Dry Riesling ($29, 94 points) Drawn from all three estate vineyards, Wiemer’s 2016 Dry Reserve includes must from multiple picks, and it’s a delicious amalgam. Josef usually provides about half the blend; HJW comes in at 30 percent, bringing high-tone flavors and aromas, while an early-picked selection of Magdalena provides structure and acidity. It’s a complex wine, and a testament to Merwarth’s mastery of blending.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Fred Merwarth specializes in rieslings of uncanny precision, beauty and detail.
SONOMA COUNTY, FORT ROSS–SEAVIEW
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Vast and remote, Hirsch Vineyards and its intricate geology, climate variations and talented farmers create detailed far-coast pinot noir. David Hirsch sold his clothing company in Santa Cruz to buy 1,000 acres in Fort Ross, on the far Sonoma coast. The land was being used for sheep grazing at the time, having been timbered for its redwoods and Douglas fir. Hirsch intended to reforest it, a project that got postponed when a friend suggested he plant pinot noir. Fort Ross– Seaview is now a wine appellation, but back in 1980, there weren’t many vineyards around. Even today, Hirsch Vineyards is one of the most remote places in the world for a great vineyard, and the fractured geology created by the San Andreas Fault makes farming the site a puzzle. But as winemakers including Burt Williams, Ted Lemon and Steve Kistler began making extraordinary wines from his grapes, Hirsch realized that the vineyards, along with an estate winery, could become the asset that financed his original plans. “What you’re looking at is a support vehicle to heal the place,” he explained at a recent retrospective tasting in New York, the first he has presented since a tractor accident in the vineyard required several years of his own healing. During his hiatus, his daughter Jasmine took over as general manager of the estate; Everardo Robledo, his vineyard manager for 30 years, kept the farming on course, while Ross Cobb, who had made the wine at Hirsch since 2010, continued to bottle pinot noir and chardonnay, parsing the vineyards on the inland-facing east ridge and the Pacific-buffeted west ridge into some of the most beautifully articulated wines yet made from the site. The entire team had worked together to develop biodynamic practices for the vineyards, orchards and gardens on the property, a conversion they began in 2011 and completed in 2014. Anthony Filiberti, of Anthill Farms, took over as winemaker after the 2015 vintage,
when Cobb and his wife determined they would move back to civilization to raise their family. This award honors the work that Cobb and the team accomplished in 2015, sustaining the life of the vines in this fragile space between the continent and the sea. As Hirsch explained, “We have a high tolerance for the complexity of farming diseased vineyards.” He hopes to preserve that complexity, “while still making wines that are polished, but not too polished.” His forests and ridgetop vines might describe a uniquely American sort of grand cru. —J.G. 2015 Sonoma Coast Block 8 Pinot Noir ($85, 96 points) This parcel, on the western ridge of the property, is planted to a selection from Hirsch’s original 1980 planting, material that likely originated in Oregon, including Pommard and Wädenswil selections. The vines are rooted in a rocky soil turned a reddish hue by iron oxide, yielding grapes that give a deep black-cherry flavor, even as they allow the wine to retain a transparency, a view through the plump fruit to the earth. Past the coastal scents of nori and the bracing stem spice, the wine’s energy keeps driving the flavors forward, lasting with delicacy and grace. 2015 Sonoma Coast East Ridge Pinot Noir ($85, 94 points) Though the distance between the east and west ridges is less than 3,000 feet, the climate difference plays out in the wines. This one, from the eastern, marginally warmer, more continental blocks, is a powerful, dynamic pinot noir, spicy and bold with bright berry flavors and stem spice. Halfway through a taste, the fragrance of earth rises up through that fruit, adding density without diminishing any of the wine’s grace. This is beautiful to drink right now and well worth cellaring for a decade or more. 2015 Sonoma Coast San Andreas Fault Pinot Noir ($60, 92 points) The mouthwatering tannins in this wine derive their power from the warmth of the inland weather and the cold of the Pacific, two miles to the west. Rooted in coastal sandstone, the vines produced a rich 2015, with youthful, peppery charm, that holds its cool red-fruit freshness for days as its tannins continue to evolve.
From top right: Hirsch 2015 Sonoma Coast Block 8 Pinot Noir; winemaker Anthony Filiberti; fog rolling over the pinot noir vines in Block 8
Founded: 1980 • Winemaker: Anthony Filiberti Viticulturists: David Hirsch, Everardo Robledo Owner: The Hirsch family • Acres owned: 72 Annual production: 7,177 cases • Estate grown: 96% 34
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Heitz NAPA VALLEY
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Famed for his eucalyptus-scented cabernet from Martha’s Vineyard, Joe Heitz created a range of Napa Valley classics that remain benchmarks today. In 1951, Joe Heitz moved to the Napa Valley, where he went to work for André Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu Vineyard. Ten years later, Heitz and his wife, Alice, purchased an eight-acre parcel just south of the town of St. HelBrittany Sherwood ena, complete with a small winery where he started producing his own wine with the grignolino vines on his new estate. They added 160 acres on Spring Mountain in 1964, and then met the Mays, who had recently bought a vineyard on the Oakville bench that Tom May named for his wife, Martha. Heitz bought cabernet fruit from the Mays in 1966, and found it distinct and delicious enough to warrant a special bottling—the first vineyard-designated wine in Napa Valley. Today, the May family continues to organically farm its 34-acre parcel in western Oakville, with its small-berried selection of cabernet sauvignon. And Heitz continues to grow grignolino: While his estate’s original vines have since been replaced by cabernet, Heitz planted 15 acres of the variety in 1966 that continue to produce light, refreshing wines for Napa’s warm summer evenings. This year, the Heitz family sold their winery to Gaylon Lawrence, Jr., an agricultural engineer and billionaire. His daughter, Westin, lives in Napa Valley, and will help oversee the business along with Robert Boyd, who left his role as president of Joseph Phelps Vineyards to become president and CEO at Heitz. —K.M.
2017 Napa Valley Grignolino Rosé ($25, 93 points) Farmed organically, this grows in the hills above the Silverado Trail. It’s more an edgy red than a rosé, markedly aromatic, with scents of hibiscus and plums. The flavors are tart and savory, bringing to mind ruby-red grapefruit and cured meats—built to chill for charcuterie. 2017 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($23, 93 points) From rocky, alluvial soils at an estate vineyard in the lower elevations of Howell Mountain, this wine has a freshness that comes through in scents of grapefruit and tangerine. The full-bodied ripeness of Napa Valley fruit is presented here in a clean white with a green-apple snap, and spiciness that races through the finish. 2013 Napa Valley Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($250, 92 points) This is a powerful vintage of Martha’s Vineyard, a huge wine following a graceful line, so it’s neither overwhelming nor oversaturated. It has the structural elasticity of 2013 in its tannins, and a salty umami note that highlights the dark currant and green-fig flavors. Founded: 1961 • Winemaker: Brittany Sherwood • Viticulturists: Jack Neal & Sons • Owner: The Lawrence family • Acres owned: 1,116 (427 planted) • Annual production: 40,000 cases • Estate grown: 93% 36
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
GREEN VALLEY OF RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY Iron Horse grows world-class sparkling wines in the coastal hills of California’s Green Valley. After 40 years of blending sparkling wines from the cool, fog-misted hills of their Green Valley estate, the Sterling family decided to produce a single-vineyard sparkler. David Munksgard, the winemaker here since 1996, worked with fruit from the 2017 harvest, grown at a block on the western side of the estate, on a hillside facing east, where the vines are mirrored in the surface of the reservoir below. They’ve named it Reflection, and will add it to a range of classic sparkling wines that have earned Iron Horse a place on our Top 100 list 12 out of the last 14 years (and a total of 17 times in all). The estate grows exceptional chardonnay and pinot noir for still wines too. But it’s the depth of flavor of the sparkling wines that sets Iron Horse apart. Munksgard, who got his start with sparkling wines in New York’s Finger Lakes, is a meticulous winemaker, and Laurence Sterling, who directs the vineyard team, works closely with him to capture freshness in their ripe grapes. There’s nothing blowsy or overly rich in these wines; instead, they gain their California identity from the Pacific fog and the earthy savor of their Goldridge soils. —J.G.
Green Valley of Russian River Valley Joy! ($250/magnum, 94 points) There are two Joys at Iron Horse: the estate director, Joy Sterling, and the reserve wine, aged in magnum for more than a decade. This release, one of our Top 100 Wines of 2018, is a sparkling wine that benefits from decanting. Time with air refreshes the flavors, taking them from toasty notes of brioche and bloomy-rind cheese to fresh scents of meadows and just-cut hay. The wine’s richness and complexity continue to evolve over the course of a day—a sophisticated sparkler with a deep well of freshness. 2013 Green Valley of Russian River Valley Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs ($50, 93 points) Ocean Reserve gains its refreshing depth of flavor from chardonnay, a selection from three blocks at the estate. It’s bright, zesty and clean in 2013, and tastes like it comes from somewhere—a patchwork of knolls covered in vines, usually a few rainbows overhead when the coastal fog and mists of rain are lifting. The Sterling family partnered with National Geographic’s Ocean Initiative on this wine, contributing $4 for each bottle sold. It’s a delicious way to help establish protected marine areas and support sustainable fishing practices. Founded: 1979 • Winemaker: David Munksgard Viticulturist: Laurence Sterling • Owner: The Sterling family Acres owned: 112 • Annual production: 27,000 cases Estate grown: 100%
Keenan SPRING MOUNTAIN Michael Keenan grows powerful cabernet and merlot on Spring Mountain, with freshness that lends complexity and longevity to the wines.
2014 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($104, 94 points) Michael Keenan and his team selected this reserve from the Big K vineyard, where their cabernet sauvignon vines were 17 years old; Keenan attributes the wine’s incipient complexities to their maturity. This has the elegant austerity and youthful restraint of a wine grown at high elevations, catching the morning sun. The flavors start out black, revealing hints of floral strawberries and cardamom. Savory and nuanced, this wine has a structural tension that will carry it for a decade or more in the cellar. It’s a great successor to the formidable sageand-madrone-scented 2013, which also earned 94 points.
2014 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Mailbox Vineyard Merlot ($70, 94 points) This has the depth and complexity of fruit grown in the mountains, in this case, a northwest-facing hillside high up Spring Mountain. It’s powerful and concentrated, the flavors filling the structure with bright intensity. Oak age has smoothed some of the edges, buffing the rocky tannins with mocha notes. The wine’s freshness will carry it for five years or more. 2014 Napa Valley Merlot ($42, 90 points) For a less intense take on merlot, Keenan’s Napa Valley bottling is richly textured, round and supple, a simple pleasure with generous fruit that’s ripe but not raisined. It finishes firm, with a dark berry perfume. For a steak. Founded: 1974 • Owner/winemaker: Michael Keenan Viticulturist: Peter Nissan • Acres owned: 48 Annual production: 12,000 cases • Estate grown: 75%
King Estate OREGON
King Estate got its start in 1991 by going after the market for pinot gris, a variety that a small number of Oregon wineries had produced, but none had made enough to distribute nationally. Ed King Jr. thought that gris’s time had come, and set about planting it on his southern Willamette Valley property. He encouraged other local growers to do the same, with the promise that he’d buy their fruit. Ever since, King Estate has set the standard for the ‘gris’ style of wine, with more heft and body than most ‘grigio’ counterparts. Vineyard manager Ray Nuclo oversees the estate; at more than 1,000 acres, it’s now the largest Demeter-certified vineyard in the country, replete with orchards, oak forests and wetlands. Planted mostly to pinot noir and pinot gris, it’s a cool site that allows for long growing seasons. Brent Stone, who’s been with King Estate since 2011, also works with partner growers to source fruit, though he earned a bit of a reprieve earlier this year, when Ed III sold Acrobat, one of the winery’s large national brands, to Foley Family Wines. The move reduces their annual production by more than half and allows Stone to spend more time and attention on wines from the home vineyard. —P.J.C.
2016 Willamette Valley Domaine Pinot Gris ($29, 93 points) Sourced entirely from estate vines, this is a full-bodied gris, fermented in stainless-steel tanks and aged five months on the lees. This white is, simply put, happy-making. With its juicy, exuberant fruit, it has a captivating, vibrant feel, backed up with caramelly lees and a dusty mineral finish. 2016 Willamette Valley Unity Pinot Gris ($24, 90 points) Unity is a blend of fruit from the estate as well as Pfeiffer Vineyard, King’s longest-term outside source. It comes in considerably leaner, drier and more lemony than the Domaine bottling, with citrus-blossom scents and lime-zest acidity. Brisk and lively, it fairly screams for some Mediterranean seafood. 2014 McMinnville Hyland Pinot Noir ($55, 89 points) This pinot comes from Hyland Vineyard, one of the Willamette Valley’s oldest, planted in 1971. Jones works toward minimal handling for his vineyard designates, aging this in 20 percent new oak. It’s bright and focused, with a spiced cherry flavor and a finish that’s part tobacco, part salted caramel.
Founded: 1991 • Winemaker: Brent Stone • Viticulturist: Ray Nuclo Owner: Ed King III • Acres owned: 1,033 (467 planted) Annual production: 130,000 cases • Estate grown: 60% WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
A preeminent producer of pinot gris, King Estate provides a benchmark for the variety with satisfying, succulent whites.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Robert Keenan bought an abandoned vineyard and winery on Spring Mountain in 1974, the site of the 19th-century Peter Conradi Winery. He cleared the land and replanted the vines, and his son, Michael, Michael Keenan helped him make the first vintage in 1977. Michael went off to start a construction business, and didn’t return until 1999, when the vineyards had been devastated by phylloxera. He replanted, and as those young vines began to mature, they proved that his father had chosen great land. Keenan hired Peter Nissan to develop sustainable farming practices, using organic compost and cover crops to enhance the nutrients in what was pretty poor soil. And, as winemaker, Keenan learned the details of the vineyards, spread across several sites that rise to 2,000 feet in a saddle of the Mayacamas range. Keenan’s wines began to stand apart from the Napa Valley crowd, balancing ripe fruit with complex undertones of earth and herbs from cabernet facing the morning sun. Those wines have earned him four Top 100 awards in the last six years. —J.G.
Lingua Franca EOLA–AMITY HILLS
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Master Sommelier Larry Stone has set out on his own with a winery venture in the Eola–Amity Hills. His early releases of pinot noir and chardonnay show incredible promise. Larry Stone, MS, founded Lingua Franca after a lifetime in the wine industry, as a sommelier, educator, writer, winery director and winemaker. His Oregon winery is, in his words, “my last and best project.” He’s centered it on LSV, a 66-acre Eola–Amity Hills vineyard, planted in 2013 on an east-facing slope of shallow, volcanic Nekia-based soils over bedrock. Mimi Casteel, formerly of Bethel Heights, is tending the vines, employing her own interpretation of biodynamic farming. Stone came to know the site during the two years he put in as general manager with Evening Land Vineyards, which farmed the Seven Springs Vineyard across the street from LSV. The fruit gave him a good picture of what to expect from the site once it matured. But neither he nor his French team—consultant Dominique Lafon and resident winemaker Thomas Savre—expected the new site to be this precocious. “We went into the first harvest with some skepticism,” says Stone, “but we found three blocks that qualified to showcase the vineyard.” Those lots are found in the winery’s 2016 Estate wines, and in its valleywide blends, called Avni. In the meantime, he’s draw-
ing from other sites, including Bunker Hill, a property he leased in the Salem Hills, and from Casteel’s own vineyard, Hope Well. —P.J.C. 2016 Willamette Valley Bunker Hill Estate Chardonnay ($50, 94 points) Joel Myer, the same man who replanted portions of Seven Springs Vineyard in 1995, planted Bunker Hill Vineyard in the south Salem Hills. It’s a fairly steep slope facing west, the chardonnay struggling for a foothold in the sparse Nekia soils. The result is a highly structured wine of great detail and tense minerality, humming with juicy apple flavors and smoky lees accents. 2016 Eola–Amity Hills Sisters Chardonnay ($90, 93 points) Sisters is the estate’s reserve bottling, a chardonnay blended from the vintage’s best fruit. In 2016, the fruit came from a site near LSV. It gave a wine that starts out like a lightly tossed fruit salad and moves, with air, into remarkable clarity, framed by nutty lees accents. It finishes taut and firm, as if its peak expression is still under wraps. 2015 Eola–Amity Hills Mimi’s Mind Pinot Noir ($90, 94 points) Stone’s best pinot noir in 2015 came from Hope Well, a vineyard planted in 2008 by Mimi Casteel, who farms it under biodynamics. Her meticulous farming may account for the exceptionally pure and graceful red fruit flavors, the vitality coursing through the wine in its subtle whole-cluster spice and the tension in its structure, suggesting a promising future ahead.
From top right: Lingua Franca 2015 Eola–Amity Hills Mimi’s Mind Pinot Noir; winemaker Thomas Savre; Mount Hood rising behind Lingua Franca’s chardonnay vineyard
Founded: 2015 • Winemaker: Thomas Savre Viticulturist: Mimi Casteel • Owners: Larry Stone, David Honig • Acres owned: 66.2 Annual production: 8,500 cases • Estate grown: 80% 38
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
A grower first, Steve Matthiasson lets his vineyards decide the style of his wines—a refreshing approach to Napa Valley wines.
Chad Melville captures Pacific freshness in his pinot and syrah.
STA. RITA HILLS
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
With a philosophy degree in hand, Steve Matthiasson moved to San Francisco, where he worked in a community garden and as a bike messenger, until a friend invited him along on a visit to Steve Matthiasson UC Davis. Fascinated by a campus dedicated to agriculture, he enrolled. At the time, California growers were beginning to transition from conventional farming toward more sustainable approaches. After his studies, Matthiasson worked as a pest management consultant, then got involved in a project in Lodi to develop a Code of Sustainable Practices. He spent two years interviewing grape growers and working with a team of advisors in wildlife and human-resources management; the Lodi Winegrowers Workbook he developed has since become part of statewide Code of Sustainable Winegrowing. He and his wife, Jill, eventually settled in Napa Valley, where they bought five acres in Oak Knoll for their own farm, certified organic as of 2016, and lease 34 more. In 2017, they purchased an existing winery on six acres near their home vineyard, still financed by Matthiasson’s consulting work. It gets them closer to their goal of creating a selfsustaining family winery, and his latest releases, farmed for freshness and drinkability, earned that winery its first Top 100 award. —J.G.
2014 Sonoma Coast Michael Mara Vineyard Chardonnay ($55, 93 points) This vineyard is west of the town of Sonoma, at the base of Sonoma Mountain, where the crushed volcanic-rock soils were formed by a landslide. It’s planted to Clone 4, which Matthiasson likes for its acid retention. He picks more of it early, adding a small portion of late-picked fruit later to extend the fermentation. After 18 months in barrels, the wine offers deep flavors of orange, gold and yellow fruits, with an earthy complexity that doesn’t diminish the fresh clarity of the scent. 2015 Napa Valley Matthiasson Vineyard Ribolla Gialla ($45, 92 points) Matthiasson discovered ribolla gialla through his work with George Vare, who brought cuttings from Friuli to graft at his Napa Valley vineyard in 2001. Matthiasson grafted some of his own vines to ribolla gialla in 2006; they created this fleshy white, with orange-and-honeycomb richness and crisp notes of pear. 2014 Napa Valley Matthiasson Vineyard Refosco ($45, 92 points) When he grafted three rows of merlot over to refosco in 2008, Steve Matthiasson selected cuttings from material that had recently been imported from Italy, and his effort to tinker with “true” refosco has resulted in this silky red. It’s a rich, plump, purplefruited wine, a casual take on Napa Valley through a northern Italian lens. Founded: 2003 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Steve Matthiasson Owners: Steve & Jill Klein Matthiasson • Acres owned: 7.5 planted; 34 leased Annual production: 8,000 cases • Estate grown: 75% 40
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Ron Melville was growing grapes in Sonoma’s Knights Valley, though his family lived in Laguna Beach. On his drive north, he’d always stop in Buellton to get gas, which never meant much to him until he happened to Chad Melville order a glass of Au Bon Climat Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir at a restaurant one day. It turned out to be from Buellton, and on his next trip north, he stopped to look at real estate. In 1996, he found 40 acres of undeveloped land in the hills east of Lompoc and planted it with the help of his sons, Chad and Brent. They bought another 40 acres the following year, and 40 more in 2005. Their vineyards, ten miles from the Pacific, soon became part of the new Sta. Rita Hills AVA, which Ron Melville helped to spearhead. Chad, who oversaw the vineyards, had a strong working partnership with winemaker Greg Brewer for 17 years, so when Brewer left after harvest in 2015, there were no radical shifts with Chad taking charge of winemaking. But some subtle changes earned Melville’s 2016 wines this Top 100 award. Chad and his wife sold the small-production label they ran on the side and brought their basket press to Melville for the small-lot wines in 2016. And Chad harvests a bit earlier than in the past, capturing remarkable freshness in his wines. —J.G. 2016 Sta. Rita Hills Block M Pinot Noir ($60, 93 points) Chad Melville makes this wine from a parcel in his family’s vineyards on the west side of the Sta. Rita Hills, at the top of a hill where the soil is clay over hard rock and the vines are exposed to the wind. Those conditions stunt the growth of the vines, which grow berries that are half the size of the fruit in other parts of the vineyard. Melville includes 70 percent whole clusters in the fermentation, lending a lot of spice to the ripe red-cherry flavor. It’s salty and sweet, with a briny, nori-like note, a substantial and mouthwatering pinot noir to serve with roast arctic char.
2016 Sta. Rita Hills Donna’s Syrah ($46, 95 points) Donna’s Block is a parcel of Melville’s Eastside Vineyard, where the sand is 20 feet deep, well drained and lacking much in terms of nutrients for the vines. Melville ferments the grapes from those vines entirely in whole clusters, then ages the wine for a year in neutral French oak. The result is a wine with intensity and length of flavor, rather than any excess weight. It smells coastal, like beach roses in a sand dune, and it feels curvaceous, shaped by the wind, with salty, spicy, floral and remarkably long flavors.
Founded: 1996 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Chad Melville Owners: Ron & Chad Melville • Acres owned: 120 Annual production: 10,500 cases • Estate grown: 100%
John House’s stock in trade is older vineyards planted to white varieties, which leads to some exceptional wines.
Eric Sussman grows vibrant wines on Sonoma’s far-coast.
2016 Eola–Amity Hills Memorista Riesling ($45, 92 points) Ovum’s two top rieslings this year had a family resemblance, perhaps because the old vines may be adept at finding a natural balance, even at different harvest dates and must weights. Memorista is the more complex of the two, from a rocky, shallow-soil site buffeted by ocean winds. It’s stridently phenolic when first poured, but evolves into a wine of suave lines and salty lemon-lime flavors, with mouthfilling acidity.
photo of Eric Sussman by Leigh-Ann Beverly
2016 Elkton Oregon Base Line Riesling ($30, 91 points) The Base Line comes from a cool site planted in 1983 in the Umpqua Valley. It’s a tight wine, needing hours of air to open. Then it becomes at once luxurious and electrifying, giving up near-endless waves of supple fruit.
2016 Rogue Valley Gerber Vineyard Since I Fell for You Gewurztraminer ($30, 95 points) Ovum’s most impressive wine this year was this sultry gewurztraminer, named for a 1940s blues song. It comes from Randy Gerber’s Umpqua Valley vineyard, a cool site planted in 1976 at 1,500 feet of elevation, with soils derived in part from mine tailings, and riddled with serpentine. The end result is a low-yielding vineyard with fruit that enjoys a long season, with full ripeness and remarkable acidity. It has such balance, with such a thrilling mouthfeel and compelling texture, that you may miss its haunting complexity and harmony.
Founded: 2011 • Owners/winemakers: Ksenija Kostic, John House Viticulturists: Ted Gerber, Stirling Fox • Acres owned: 40 (unplanted) Annual production: 3,000 cases • Estate grown: None
After four years at Dehlinger, Eric Sussman was looking to start his own label. He met Robert von Weidlich, who was farming a ranch in Occidental, including a block of dry-farmed zinfandel planted in 1946—an unusual find Eric Sussman in the cool reaches of Sonoma’s far coast. Sussman released a 2002 von Weidlich Zinfandel as part of the inaugural vintage of Radio-Coteau, and later, in 2012, purchased the property itself. According to research by historian Charles Heintz, the vineyard was first planted in 1892; the ranch still has the original barns and the house built after the turn of the century. After Prohibition, it became the Lemorel Winery, a name Sussman has adopted for his old-vine zin bottling. The vineyards sit on a ridge, cooled in the afternoons as winds from the Pacific kick in around three p.m. That ridge drains into three watersheds, an excuse, if Sussman needed one, to turn the property into a biodynamic farm, leaving about four of the 42 acres wild, establishing beehives, raising goats, chickens and barn cats, and planting gardens to attract beneficial insects. Sussman views the vineyards as part of the farm rather than its raison d’être, and while he is expanding production from his estate vineyards, he is continuing to produce wines from far-coast growers. Along with the Lemorel Zin, it was the brisk coastal freshness of two wines from Anderson Valley’s Savoy Vineyard that captured this Top 100 award. —K.M. 2015 Anderson Valley Savoy Pinot Noir ($68, 94 points) Savoy, a vineyard northwest of Philo, includes several blocks of pinot noir planted from 1991 to ’96. Sussman selects fruit from those older blocks for this silken, refreshingly tangy wine. It has the woodsy flavor of raspberries picked at the forest edge, along with a coastal salinity that brings to mind nori.
2016 Anderson Valley Savoy Chardonnay ($60, 92 points) Sussman works with chardonnay vines at Savoy that were planted in 1991 on terraces of river gravel. They give a wine that’s generous and creamy, with puff-pastry notes and a vibrant citrus glimmer that keeps it clean and lively. 2014 Sonoma Coast Lemorel Zinfandel ($54, 90 points) These zinfandel vines date to 1946 and 1981, part of Sussman’s estate in Occidental. Given the cool site and the Goldridge soils, this wine is not a typical Sonoma County zin. You can almost smell the tartness in its red fruit, and the wine’s tannins seem to suck all the air out of the room, then fill it back up with dark pomegranate flavors. This is a wine to cellar for ten years or more.
Founded: 2002 • Owner/winemaker/viticulturist: Eric Sussman Acres owned: 22 planted • Annual production: 4,000 cases Estate grown: 25% WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
John House hunts vineyards. His brand, Ovum, is linked to the Willamette Valley in part because his wife and business partner, Ksenija Kostic, makes wines for Argyle, in the heart of Dundee. But House goes where the old, forgotten vines are, to the Rogue, Umpqua John House & Ksenija Kostic and Illinois Valleys in Southern Oregon, well off the beaten path. Ovum is devoted to these older vineyards, planted to riesling, gewurztraminer, muscat and other white varieties, that have escaped replanting by being remote or just neglected. The couple make their wines with minimal intervention and minimal inputs, in neutral vessels like concrete eggs. Any attempt to compliment their winemaking will get deflected back to the vineyards that produced the results. “Our job is to find great fruit,” says House, “and stay out of the way.” —P.J.C.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
USA TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Working with old-vine field blends, Joel Peterson is Sonoma County’s master of zinfandel.
Raymond offers a range of elegant, claret-style wines from the varied districts of Napa Valley.
No one makes millions making zin. It doesn’t happen. Or it only happened once, when Joel Peterson sold his zinfandel-focused wine brand, Ravenswood, to Constellation Brands in 2001. And, remarkably, he’s still there making zin today. Peterson started out as a medical researcher, but his interest in wine led him to apprentice with Joe Swan, where he developed the winemaking practices he still employs today—harvesting based on tasting the grapes, fermentations without added yeasts and aging in French oak. He went on to found his own winery in 1976 with Reed Foster, a Harvard MBA who ran the business while Peterson focused Gary Sitton on the wines, searching out growers with parcels of ancient mixed blacks, most of them zin. While his collection of single-vineyard zinfandels earned him a loyal following, it was his Vintners Blend range of affordably priced varietal wines that attracted Constellation Brands. Now as much of a zinfandel legend as Swan himself, Peterson continues to help his successor, Gary Sitton. He trained Sitton for six years before the sale, and then Sitton returned in 2015 as director of winemaking. The two collaborate on the old-vine zinfandels that have earned Ravenswood its tenth Top 100 award in a row. —J.G.
2015 Russian River Valley Belloni Zinfandel ($39, 94 points) Ricardo and Natalia Belloni grew up in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, moved to California and eventually purchased a vineyard on Wood Road outside Santa Rosa in 1971. It’s a flat site on clay-loam soil, and the vines—mostly zinfandel, with some petite sirah, carignane and alicante bouchet—were originally planted around 1900. Peterson has worked with the vineyard since 1991. When Belloni hits, as it did in 2015, it’s a wine of restrained power, its fresh blueberry flavors underscored by savory notes of forest floor and bluefoot mushrooms. The warm generosity pushes against the cool restraint, the flavors lasting on overdrive. 2015 Sonoma County Old Hill Vineyard Zinfandel ($60, 94 points) William McPherson Hill, an early proponent of non-mission grapes in Sonoma County, founded his ranch in 1851. Otto Teller purchased what remained of the ranch in 1981, cleared the poison oak and blackberries, and resuscitated the centenarian vines. Will Bucklin, the current owner, conducted a census of those ancient vines and identified at least 14 varieties—mostly zinfandel, along with grenache, petite sirah, carignane and alicante bouschet. Joel Peterson, who’s been making a single-vineyard wine from that fruit since 1983, produced an elegant 2015 from the mix. It’s a delicious California classic, bright and juicy, lasting on cherry freshness, with earthy tannins adding spice to the succulent fruit. Founded: 1976 • Winemaker: Gary Sitton • Viticulturist: Paul Sequeria Owner: Constellation Brands • Acres owned: 14 Annual production: 500,000 cases • Estate grown: N/A 42
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Roy Raymond was the winemaker at Beringer from 1933 until 1970, when he and his sons established a 90-acre estate on Zinfandel Lane in Rutherford. By the time Jean-Charles Boisset purchased the winery Stephanie Putnam in 2009, the vineyards covered 300 acres. Boisset put together a team to convert the vineyards to biodynamics. In 2010, he hired Stephanie Putnum to reimagine the range of wines; she came to Raymond after eight years at Far Niente, which put her in a strong position to assemble a collection of growers for the District Collection cabernets—the wines that earned Raymond its sixth Top 100 award, and its first since 2001. Raymond’s most notable wine of the year may well be the 40th Anniversary bottling of its Reserve Cabernet, the rare Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon that’s fresh and generous, and priced below $50. It comes with a red-velvet label, designed to echo the ornate Red Room at Raymond’s visitors center, complete with crystal chandeliers, red velvet sofas and red leather ottomans. It’s down the hall from the Blending Room, where you can create your own cabernet blend to bottle and ship home. —J.G. 2015 Napa Valley Reserve Selection Cabernet Sauvignon ($45, 91 points) At a recent meeting of young Napa Valley winemakers at Larkmead, the discussion turned to the price of cabernet grapes and how it was increasingly difficult to offer an affordable, varietally labeled cabernet from Napa Valley. The least expensive cabernet anyone in the room had on offer was $60. So, consider this $45 cabernet, which grows at Raymond’s organically farmed vineyards in Rutherford and includes some purchased fruit from Calistoga and Coombsville. It’s heady and ripe, with cracked-black-pepper and cardamom spice. The tannins hold the wine firm, and it can stand with significantly more expensive cabernets from Napa Valley.
2014 Rutherford Napa Valley District Collection Cabernet Sauvignon ($95, 94 points) Putnam’s cabernet sauvignon “District” wines swept our cabernet tastings in the 2014 vintage, with three earning 94 points—the Stags Leap District Cabernet for its cool, black-cherry freshness, the Spring Mountain District Cabernet for its supple tannins lending earthy detail to dark raspberry fruit, and this Rutherford release, a blend from the original Raymond estate on Zinfandel Lane with fruit from a vineyard in the western benchlands. Putnam encouraged a long fermentation without added yeasts, producing a cabernet that feels cool and elegant, shot through with brightness, as if the wine’s freshness were backlighting its red fruit purity.
Founded: 1970 • Winemaker: Stephanie Putnam Viticulturist: Sophie Drucker • Owner: Boisset Collection • Acres owned: 380 Annual production: 150,000 cases • Estate grown: 50%
Roederer Estate ANDERSON VALLEY
Robert Mondavi Winery NAPA VALLEY
Robert Mondavi Winery’s legendary To Kalon vineyard defines Oakville cabernet sauvignon. The Robert Mondavi Winery has been a defining force in Napa Valley since its inception, in 1966. When he left his family’s wine business at Charles Krug to start his own winery, Robert Mondavi brought the family’s 440-acre To Kalon vineyard with him, along with a knack for picking out top talent: His first director of winemaking, Warren Winiarski, went on to found Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (another Top 100 Winery this year). Zelma Long joined the team in 1970, and went on to be a star in her own right. Genevieve Janssens, the current chief winemaker, got her start under Long, working as a lab oenologist in 1978; she later returned to work on the Opus One project in ’89 with Tim Mondavi, who brought her back as Director of Winemaking in 1998. She’s since guarded Mondavi’s legacy for two decades, and through the transition to the winery’s current owner, Constellation Brands. This year, she named a new director of winemaking, Nova Cadamatre, who’d been responsible for Mondavi’s red wines from 2013 to 2015, before going on to earn her MW. The team continues to build its portfolio around the firm’s vineyard assets, especially the original vineyard surrounding the winery, To Kalon, first planted in 1868. The wines from these benchland soils offer a collection of elegant classics from the Napa Valley. —K.M.
2014 Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Franc ($65, 93 points) Grown at To Kalon, this is Oakville through the lens of savory, mineral cabernet franc, focusing on a firm, tannic line backfilled with supple, black flavor. That flavor is as much about obsidian as blackberries, lasting with a cool feel. 2014 Oakville Napa Valley The Reserve To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($172, 92 points) For the Reserve, Janssens works with a range of vineyard blocks, some of the vines dating to 1974. Fermented and aged in oak, it’s supple and heady, a plush, espresso-scented red with the richness of Oakville cabernet. 2014 Oakville Napa Valley Fumé Blanc ($40, 91 points) Robert Mondavi produced the first Fumé Blanc in 1968, inventing a new name and a new style for sauvignon blanc. Fifty years later, the wine is still distinctive, this vintage marked by its oak aging at first, before air brings out its saturated, rich, golden fruit presence. It’s as savory as a meat broth with notes of flamed orange zest.
Founded: 1966 • Winemakers: Genevieve Janssens, Nova Cadamatre, Kurtis Ogasaware • Viticulturist: Matt Ashby • Owner: Constellation Brands Acres owned: 1,300 • Annual production: 227,000 cases Estate grown: 45%
In 1979, when JeanClaude Rouzaud took charge of his family’s Champagne firm, Louis Roederer, one of his first initiatives was to establish a sparkling-wine estate in California. He chose the cool reaches Arnaud Weyrich of the Anderson Valley, where he found a 580-acre parcel of land, began planting pinot noir and chardonnay, then hired Michel Salgues to build an estate winery into the hillside. Arnaud Weyrich came to work with Salgues as an intern from Montpellier in 1993, then returned in 2000 to train in both Anderson Valley and Champagne, taking on the role of winemaker in 2002 as Salgues prepared to retire. Over the past 36 years, these two winemakers have built impressive reserve stocks, aging in oak, which Weyrich uses to blend his multivintage Anderson Valley Brut. He ferments his base wine in stainless-steel vats, using only the first pressing from estate fruit, and prefers to keep the acidity of the grapes rather than allowing malolactic conversion. The wines age on the lees in bottle for a minimum of two years. For L’Ermitage, he selects the best wines of the vintage for extended aging in bottle. The Anderson Valley Brut is consistently one of the best sparkling wines in California; L’Ermitage, in a great vintage, can stand in the company of tête de cuvée Champagne, even as it shares the cool ripeness of Anderson Valley fruit. —J.G.
Anderson Valley Brut ($24, 92 points) The latest release of Roederer Estate’s Brut is as fresh as crunchy apples in the fall, the wine taking on beautiful richness as it opens with air. There’s toasty character from the lees aging and brighter notes of red fruit, hinting at raspberries. A clean sparkler with impressive flavor depth, this serves equally well as a refreshing aperitif or a substantial dinner partner with seafood sausage. 2009 Anderson Valley L’Ermitage Brut Rosé ($75, 92 points) This wine’s clean raspberry freshness is pointed up by a small addition of pinot noir macerated with its skins. That delicate fruit is underlined by a salty tang and a yeasty scent of rising bread. Mouthfilling, with a gentle, persistent mousse, it feels complete and integrated, a rosé to pour with Dungeness crab. Watch for the 2011 L’Ermitage, a cool vintage recommended in our upcoming December issue with 95 points. Anderson Valley Brut Rosé ($29, 90 points) This wine’s clean red fruit has gentle spiciness, lasting with the bitter touch of orange zest and a hint of pepper. It’s simple and well knit, a sparkler to drink on its own or with charcuterie.
Founded: 1982 • Winemaker: Arnaud Weyrich • Viticulturist: Bob Gibson Owner: The Rouzaud family • Acres owned: 580 • Annual production: 105,000 cases • Estate grown: 100% WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Roederer Estate has created a classical standard for sparkling wine in the Anderson Valley.
Rose & Arrow EOLA–AMITY HILLS
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
A geologist from Chile and a vigneron from Vosne-Romanée explore Oregon soils, revealing new facets of Willamette terroir. With Chapter 24 Winery, Mark Tarlov and Louis-Michel Liger-Belair formed a partnership, a team and a brand around a conceptual view of Oregon geology. It featured two diametrically opposed wines, Fire and Flood, representing the two principle soil types of the region, volcanic and sedimentary. The brand was established with terroir in mind, but predicated on blends. With Rose & Arrow, a subdivision they established this year, the team has flipped that original approach on its head. This is largely due to the intervention of Pedro Parra, a Chilean geologist who had been working with Louis-Michel Liger-Belair in Burgundy. Parra’s initial impressions of Oregon soils were not favorable, but the more he studied them, the more interesting they became to him. Using electrical conductivity mapping, he studied the soil composition beneath the vineyard surface and compared that information with what he found digging pits in the ground. He began to map distinct areas of volcanic flow where the rock had eroded, fractured and degraded. Parra believed that these alterations in the rock, combined with a certain amount of clay, would provide optimal conditions for the vines—and the team set out to isolate the wines that came from them. The seven Rose & Arrow wines are limited selections, harvested from ribbon-like parcels that follow these particular edges of lava flows. All of this geological study and viticultural effort is filtered through the ‘infusion’ winemaking approach practiced by Liger-Belair and his resident winemaker, Felipe Ramirez, steeping whole berries without any punchdowns, and feeding oxygen to the must through gentle, carefully timed pumpovers. He believes that infusion results in more color, flavor intensity and textural richness at lower conversion rates for sugars than extractive fermentation techniques do. Their winegrowing strategy came together in a range of 2016 pinot
From top right: Rose & Arrow 2016 Dundee Hills Black Walnut Worden Hill Pinot Noir; resident winemaker Felipe Ramirez; the Black Walnut Vineyard 44
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
noirs that are drop-dead gorgeous and wholly distinct from one another; that are, texturally, both challenging and seductive. They don’t so much fill the mouth as drench it with flavor, with levels of saturation that compel you to blurt out the word ‘ripe’ and then withdraw it, because they offer so much more than just ripeness in their depths of flavor and distinctive character. —P.J.C. 2016 Eola–Amity Hills 1st Stonecreek Pinot Noir ($150, 93 points) It’s not a huge surprise that much of Parra’s focus has been on the Eola Hills, where Chapter 24 recently purchased the Witness Tree Vineyard and leased another, Dubay. A portion of Dubay is rockier than the rest, a perfect place for a rockhound like Parra. It also seems to grow compelling wine: They named it Stonecreek and bottled a rocky, compact and deeply structured wine with a weighty foundation supporting its rippling, brimming cherry fruit. Its texture is still in a slurry and suggests the wine is moving toward a brighter, more revealing place, so lose this in the cellar for a few years before opening. 2016 Eola–Amity Hills Hopewell Hills Pinot Noir ($100, 92 points) The Hopewell Hills parcel has almost no topsoil, the vines planted in fractured volcanic rock that has decomposed into stones resembling small flat cobble. The wine it grew in 2016 feels broader and more saturated than Stonecreek, with generous fruit framed by a smoky, sanguine minerality. That contrast creates an engaging tension, and a mildly grippy texture that would pair well with something substantial, like duck confit. 2016 Dundee Hills Black Walnut Worden Hill Pinot Noir ($120, 94 points) Black Walnut comes from Chapter 24’s estate vineyard on Worden Hill Road in the Dundee Hills. It’s selected from less than an acre of what Parra calls “alterite;” he characterizes this particular ground as “oxidized volcanic rock, not yet soil” and, as such, it diverges from what others refer to as the volcanic Jory soils of the Dundee Hills. It is an unusually dark-fruited Dundee Hills wine, like a black-cherry tea flecked with dark red soil, supple in its tannic grip. Despite its suede-like feel, this is a wine of impressive movement and lift, with energy and presence.
Founded: 2015 • Winemakers: Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, consulting winemaker; Felipe Ramirez, resident winemaker • Viticulturists: Ryan Hannaford, Pedro Parra • Owners: Ian Lombard, Mark Tarlov, managing partners Acres owned: 155 under long-term lease Annual production: 1,400 cases • Estate grown: 100%
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
2015 Stags Leap District Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon ($295, 93 points) Notaro’s 2015 leaves a textural impression of silk and velvet, its plush fruit dark in tone and not yet expressive, hinting at earthiness in its cellar scents. It’s a particularly concentrated vintage of Cask 23, as rain during flowering reduced the size of the crop, that concentration showing smoky and black, the wine needing a decade or more to fully show itself. 2015 Stags Leap District S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon ($175, 92 points) Plump, earthy and rich, this is a generous vintage from S.L.V.’s rocky soils. Oak plays a major role in the wine’s scents and tannins at this stage in the wine’s development, but a firm presence of earthy, cherry-scented fruit rises through the smokiness and leaves a clean sense of ripeness. This should be at its prime ten years from the vintage.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Founded in 1970 by Warren Winiarski, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars began as 44 acres of prune and walnut orchards adjacent to 66 acres of vines planted by Nathan Fay. Winiarski decided to purchase the land after a tasting with Nathan Fay in 1969; as it turned out, the soils at his new site were different from the alluvial wash at Fay. Winiarski’s property rose up at the base of the Stags Leap escarpment, where a crush of volcanic rock had washed down off the palisades. The 1973 vintage from those rock-strewn soils took first place among the cabernet sauvignons in the historic 1976 Judgment of Paris in France, catapulting Napa Valley wines onto the world stage. Winiarski eventually purchased the Fay vineyard in 1986, adding a second single-vineyard cabernet, and changing the concept of his top selection, Cask 23, to incorporate lots from the two sites. In 2007, he sold Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars to a partnership between Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Marchesi Antinori. Today, Marcus Notaro oversees the winery operations, having joined the winery in 2013 from the Columbia Valley’s Col Solare—another of our Top 100 Wineries in 2018. He works closely with Kirk Grace, who has managed the vineyards at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars since 2006. Their cabernets from 2013, ’14 and ’15 have been exceptional, landing the estate in our Top 100 three years in a row. —K.M.
2014 Napa Valley Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon ($275, 95 points) Fay, with its alluvial soils, provides 44 percent of this blend in 2014; the balance comes from S.L.V. They combine in a cabernet with cool richness, layering notes of chocolate and wild mushrooms with a rush of satiny fruit tannins. There are no barriers to obscure the wine’s youthful integration or its complexity, still incipient, there in the breath for minutes, compellingly fresh and satiating in its savor.
Coming into its 50th year, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars produces three estate cabernets in variations on silken richness.
From top right: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 2014 Napa Valley Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon; winemaker Marcus Notaro; Fay Vineyard
Founded: 1970 • Winemaker: Marcus Notaro Viticulturists: Kirk Grace, Tim Rowe Owners: Ste. Michelle Wine Estates & Marchesi Antinori • Acres owned: 205 Annual production: 136,000 cases • Estate grown: 100% for S.L.V., Fay and Cask 23 WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Tending zinfandel on a hillside facing north and east, Jerry Seps grows classic California reds evocative of the forested Mayacamas. Jerry and Sigrid Seps arrived at the abandoned Grimm Brothers’ vineyard in 1976, 12 years after a fire had swept through the property and taken out the 19th-century cellars. After they cleared out the invasive broom, blackberries and poison oak, André Tchelistcheff suggested they plant zinfandel in the hillside’s red volcanic soils. Seps wrote to Joe Swan, considered the leading zin-master at the time, to ask for a hands-on apprenticeship. “He took meticulous care of the wine,” Seps recalls, “and taught me respect for the grapes—you don’t try to push them in directions other than what’s in them.” Forty years on, Seps’s own meticulous care for his vineyard and his grapes, organically farmed from the start, provides some of the greatest red wines being grown in Napa Valley. It also kept him on site when the Tubbs Fire raced up the Mayacamas hills from Calistoga in 2017; he worked with the firefighters to protect the winery and the redwoods burning close to its walls. His perseverance, as well as the water supplied by the springs that humidify his 19th-century caves, ensured that Storybook Mountain sustained its place at the top of the Napa Valley. —J.G.
2015 Napa Valley Mayacamas Range Zinfandel ($40, 93 points) By the end of a string of drought years, Seps was using a porometer to measure water stress on the vines themselves, and adjusting his watering strategies accordingly. That may have helped sustain acidity in the grapes, apparent in the overall sense of coolness in his Mayacamas Range Zinfandel, the wine he and his daughter, Colleen, select as their most fruit-forward wine. In 2015, its brisk red fruit carries foresty scents of autumn in layered notes of leaves, dried cranberries, pine and mushrooms. All of that savor contrasts the freshness of the fruit, setting it up for aging. 2015 Napa Valley Eastern Exposures Zinfandel ($55, 92 points) Jerry Seps named this bottling to point up the orientation of the steep, east-facing hillside of his vineyard north of Calistoga, focused toward cool morning sun. In 2015, the wine’s soft tannins play off lasting fruit, with flavors of crunchy cherries and gentle notes of raspberry fruit leather. The structure and length seem to emanate from the wine’s freshness rather than from its extract; this zin is built to cellar. 2014 Napa Valley Estate Reserve Zinfandel ($68, 92 points) Darker and fuller in tone than the most classical of the Storybook Reserves (look to 2010, or the forthcoming 2015), this wine offers savory scents of manzanita and licorice root to balance its sweet black-cherry flavors. It’s a smooth and fragrant red wine that could only be grown in Napa Valley.
From top right: 2015 Napa Valley Mayacamas Range Zinfandel; owner/winemaker Jerry Seps; a view across Storybook's Mayacamas Mountain Vineyard
Founded: 1976 • Owner/winemaker/ viticulturist: Jerry Seps • Acres owned: 43 Annual production: 4,000 cases Estate grown: 100% 46
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The Withers SONOMA COAST & SIERRA FOOTHILLS
An historic estate in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District delivers nuanced wines with grace notes of petite sirah. Tucked into the shadow of the Stags Leap escarpment, the manor house at Stags’ Leap Winery was built in 1890 by Horace and Minnie Mizner Chase. The residence soon became a vineyard and winery, then a guest house after Prohibition. Carl Doumani purchased the property in 1971 and restored the vineyard, including five acres of mixed blacks planted in 1929. The main variety in that field blend, petite sirah, became the signature of the estate. Christophe Paubert, a Frenchman hired by the current owners, Treasury Wine Estates, has explored the nuances petite sirah can add to cabernet sauvignon and merlot, even as he has catalogued the 15 varieties coplanted among the bush-vine petite at the dry-farmed block he calls Ne Cede Malis. While you might think of the variety as rustic, Paubert has found ways to direct it toward elegance, enhancing his top wines with the distinctive imprint of Stags Leap District petite. —J.G. 2014 Stags Leap District Audentia Cabernet Sauvignon ($200, 93 points) Audentia is SLW’s top wine, the blend mostly cabernet sauvignon from vines on the rocky hillside reaching up toward the Stags Leap escarpment. The balance of the wine is petite sirah, from a part of the estate where Paubert finds the juice supports rather than overrides the cabernet. The combination creates a vibrant wine with bright red-cherry flavors supported by dark, earthy tannins, revealing hints of roses as they open and yield to the fruit. 2014 Stags Leap District Ne Cede Malis Petite Sirah ($125, 91 points) Focused on mineral impressions of the earth more than sunny scents of fruit, this old-vine field blend from the 1929 block comes together in a brisk, cool and sumptuous red. In addition to petite, the varieties include tannat, carignane, syrah, grenache and lesser-known vines such as calzin, peloursin and burger. The silken tannins give it a classical structure, dry and youthfully austere, the wine needing ten years in the cellar to reach its full expression.
2016 Mendocino County Claire’s Vineyard Pinot Noir ($47, 95 points) Among several Pacific pinots, Claire’s Vineyard topped the charts from The Withers this year. It comes from a site owned by the Peterson family in Comptche, in the hills north of Anderson Valley, exactly the kind of cool-climate fruit that appeals to both Tow and Low, offered to them only in this one harvest. Tow named it in memory of his mother, Claire, who had recently passed away. He plans to use the name for exceptional one-offs like this wine, which he and Low took through a week-long cold soak, a slow fermentation and a year-long rest in mostly neutral barrels. Its flavors of forest mushrooms, stem spice and floral red fruit inhabit your breath after you take a sip, then last in transparent shades of the original taste. 2015 El Dorado Mr. Burgess ($44, 90 points) Tow has invested in and started to plant a 120-acre parcel on the north side of the American River canyon in El Dorado County. Meanwhile, Tyson Freeman has assembled a collection of growers in the neighborhood, including Fenaughty and Camino Ridge, which provide the syrah for Mr. Burgess; Futernick provides mourvedre. David Low blended them into a floral, cherry-bright red. It’s lean and tight, with a pumpkin-seed note adding earthy savor.
2014 Napa Valley Petite Sirah ($45, 93 points) Paubert bases this wine primarily on grapes from the Stags’ Leap Winery estate, blending in fruit from Calistoga and St. Helena to the north, and Oakville, Oak Knoll and Coombsville to the south. It’s a zesty wine with perfumed black fruit and a stony feel to its tannins, an elegant take on an often aggressively tannic grape. Give this hours in a decanter if you open it now; it will be best with ten to 12 years of age. Founded: 1893 • Winemaker: Christophe Paubert • Viticulturist: Jim Burgess Owner: Treasury Wine Estates • Acres owned: 240 (80 planted) Annual production: N/A • Estate grown: 10%
Founded: 2013 • Winemaker: David Low • Viticulturist: Tyson Freeman Owner: Andrew Tow • Acres owned: 120; 7.5 planted Annual production: 6,000 cases • Estate grown: 30% WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
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Stags’ Leap Winery
Andrew Tow is a media executive who stumbled into the wine business through a bottle of pinot noir. Based in Connecticut, he’d been drinking wines from Piedmont and Burgundy when he tasted a bottle of Andrew Tow Anthill Farms. He made a point of meeting one of the winemakers, David Low, on a trip to California, and they agreed on a barter arrangement: a few trips to Montana to teach Low how to fly fish for a few barrels of wine. Tow expected to share the wine with his friends, a circle that happened to include a wine retailer, who suggested he sell some of it. Meanwhile, Low’s friend Tyson Freeman had started making wine from vineyards he’d been exploring in the Sierra Foothills. Tow liked it and decided to sell it along with the pinot noir under his new label, The Withers. —J.G.
What started as a personal project of a Eurocentric collector has developed into a source of brisk far-coast pinots and equally brisk high-elevation Sierra Foothills syrah.
Williams Selyem SONOMA COUNTY
Working with neighbors and longtime growers on California’s far coast, Jeff Mangahas produced an exceptional range of 2016 pinot noirs and chardonnays.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon, the husband-and-wife team behind Walter Scott, turned out an exceptional array of chardonnay and pinot noir in the 2016 vintage. Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon founded Walter Scott in 2008 on a shoestring, seeking out contracts for pinot noir and chardonnay in the Eola–Amity Hills that could give them trim, balanced, low-alcohol wines. Most of these acreage contracts are with older vineyards; they’ve also worked to maximize the range of clones in the mix. Mapped out, their parcels can look as gerrymandered as a Wisconsin congressional district, stopping mid-row and resuming the next, then jumping to a pocket of Pommard-clone pinot. Their 2016s are perhaps the winery’s most fully realized to date, reflecting the tension, complexity and dense weave that Pahlow and Landon seek. Those efforts start with early picking dates: Walter Scott is typically among the first non-sparkling wineries in Eola–Amity to start picking; their alcohol levels are often half a percentage point below that of their peers. Pahlow refers to it as “catching fruit on the rise.” —P.J.C.
2016 Eola–Amity Hills Dubay Vineyard Pinot Noir ($55, 94 points) At Dubay Vineyard, Pahlow and Landon have arranged with vineyard manager Ryan Hannaford to draw from a cross-section planted to clones 115, 666 and 667. At harvest, Pahlow brings in fruit of wildly varying cluster weights and sizes, which he believes contributes to the complexity of the finished wine. The 2016 suggests he’s right: It leads with scents of plum and allspice and feels gritty and compact, taking on a litheness with exposure to air that makes the wine feel weightless. 2016 Eola–Amity Hills Sojourner Vineyard Pinot Noir ($55, 93 points) At Sojourner Vineyard, Pahlow and Landon take a section in the middle of the vineyard planted to Pommard, 115 and Wadenswil clones. The 2016 possesses a structure comparable to the Dubay pinot, but it’s more brambly and savory— markers for the older Pommard and Wadenswil selections. 2016 Eola–Amity Hills X Novo Vineyard Chardonnay ($65, 94 points) Few vineyards in Oregon come close to the array of chardonnay clones Craig Williams has established at his X Novo Vineyard, planted to more than a dozen. Pahlow and Landon now purchase all the fruit from this site for this wine. In 2016 it yielded a dramatic chardonnay with a sort of pitched battle between savory accents and lean apple fruit, with a tension that’s a Walter Scott signature.
Founded: 2008 • Winemaker: Ken Pahlow Owners: Ken Pahlow, Erica Landon, Sue & Andy Steinman Acres owned: None • Annual production: 4,500 cases 48
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2016 Russian River Valley Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay ($65, 93 points) The Pellegrini family planted chardonnay at Olivet Lane in 1975; in 2016, the parcel yielded fruit with depth and complexity, as well as fresh, savory power— a contrast of high notes of lemon, and bass notes of white truffles. 2016 Russian River Valley Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir ($72, 92 points) Mangahas blends this wine from the Williams Selyem estate vineyard on Westside Road, as well as fruit from its neighbors: Allen, Bacigalupi, Bucher, Flax and Rochioli Riverblock. Its vibrant flavors are a good indicator of the range of pinot noirs he made in 2016, to be released this fall. It’s tightly built, with a gingerroot spice to the tannins that points up the clean black-cherry flavors. 2016 Sonoma County Pinot Noir ($39, 90 points) The quality of Mangahas’s 2016 pinots is also evident in the broader blend from Sonoma County, an earthy, bright, cherry-scented wine with brisk clarity. While the Westside Road Neighbors bottling will benefit from age, this wine is ready to enjoy now. Serve it with something meaty, like seared duck breast or grilled portobello mushrooms.
Founded: 1981 • Winemaker: Jeff Mangahas • Viticulturists: John Dyson, Jeff Mangahas, Chris Bowland • Owner: John Dyson • Acres owned: 120 Annual production: 23,000 cases • Estate grown: 50%
Walter Scott vineyard photo by Ryan Ribary
Jeff Mangahas is only the third winemaker at this seminal Russian River Valley pinot noir producer, following the path established by Burt Williams when he and Ed Selyem founded their winery in 1981. Working with neighbors on Westside Road, including the Rochiolis across the street, Williams and Selyem produced each of their singlevineyard wines identically, to emphasize the site character of each. For pinot noir, they repurposed dairy tanks by cutting them in half, lengthwise, fermenting the fruit with a yeast strain they developed locally, then aging the wine in barJeff Mangahas rels and bottling without filtering. When John Dyson purchased the winery in 1998, Burt Williams had already begun training his successor, Bob Cabral, who then helped Dyson plan a new winery and vineyard at the Litton property west of their original crush site. By the time Mangahas came onboard in 2011, the estate vineyard had begun to provide additional bottlings to the 40-some already on offer. After the densely ripe 2015s, he hit a home run with the abundant 2016 vintage, producing a range of fragrant pinots and fresh, complex, old-vine chardonnays. —J.G.
Weingut Stift Göttweig
Domaine Marcel Deiss
In little over a decade, Fritz Miesbauer has restored the reputation of this 969-year-old monastery winery with fineboned rieslings and structured grüner veltliners.
Jean-Michel Deiss has reinvented Alsace wine, producing field blends that connect directly and deliciously to the place.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
AUSTRIA | FRANCE
The challenge: Return a winery that was once among the crown jewels of the Benedictine Order’s holdings to its former vinous glory. The taker: Fritz Miesbauer. When he took over in 2006, he’d already proved he was up for big tasks, having turned Fritz Miesbauer a Wachau co-op into an esteemed producer, then reestablishing the reputation of the city-run Weingut Stadt Krems. At Stift Göttweig, he set out to restore the wines to the reputation they held in the Middle Ages, when they were shipped to royal tables all around Europe. Using the same ace team he assembled at Stadt Krems—Peter Rethaller in the cellar, Jürgen Peters in the vineyards and Franz Josef Gansberger as manager—and the facilities he renovated at Stadt Krems, the change has been swift. Miesbauer, however, would credit the vineyards, some 64 acres that include holdings in four Erste Lagen (first growths). —T.Q.T.
2015 Kremstal Further Göttschelle Erste Lage Reserve Grüner Veltliner ($53, 94 points) Göttschelle is considered one of the Kremstal’s best sites for grüner veltliner, a vineyard at the base of the Göttweiger Berg with a layer of calcareous loess that reaches 33 feet deep in places. To capture the particular qualities of the fruit in this and all his Erste Lage sites, Miesbauer opts for a long, slow fermentation in stainless-steel tanks, then ages the wine in old 2,200-liter oak casks. The result in 2015 has a richness and loft that echoes those layers of light, windblown soil, as well as a cool and racy acidity that nods to the coolness of the deep forest that backs the site. With its creamy expanse of mineral flavor and tense citrus notes, it’s a veltliner that’s giving and structured at once. 2015 Kremstal Further Silberbichl Erste Lage Res. Riesling ($53, 92 points) Stift Göttweig sits on the very edge of the Kremstal, with some of its vineyards flowing into the Wachau’s stonier soils. This allows Miesbauer to make some very fine rieslings in addition to his veltliners. Silberbichl, a southeast-facing vineyard dotted with mica-slate, produced a ripe, concentrated riesling in 2015, with a lush, honeyed texture and gingery apple notes.
Perhaps field blends, the plants selected and carefully tuned to the site, are close to the kind of wines the Deiss family was growing in Bergheim back in 1744. By the time Jean-Michel Deiss took over the domaine in 1975, the trend was for varietal wines. His field blend experiments began with Schoenenbourg, a grand cru vineyard in Riquewihr planted to a mix of 12 varieties, the vines dating to 1952. Now, he’s created a range of three grand-cru and nine lieu-dit wines. Each contains anywhere from two to more than a dozen varieties, collections of vines farmed with the biodynamic perspective of the plant at the center of the local culture, rooted into the soil and looking toward the sky. It’s Jean-Michel Deiss a pragmatic form of biodynamics rather than a rigorous interpretation of Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy, and it creates a form of natural wine that can, at times, be revelatory. —J.G. 2012 Alsace Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim ($90, 94 points) Like Schoenenbourg, Deiss’s parcel of this grand cru holds 12 varieties. Here, the vines grow at a fault line where limestone meets marl, forming a red soil of iron-rich clay and fossil-packed rock. Mathieu Deiss, who started working with his father in 2007, makes this with minimal intervention, and yet the only indication of its natural upbringing is the deep gold color. The wine’s energy emanates out of its precise integration, with spring meadow scents of Queen Anne’s lace knit into the dark intensity of flavor, layering the fruit of this warm hillside into flavors that might remind you of ripe apricots, or the deep tones of ramen broth, umami and satisfying. It’s a wine worth contemplating well into the night.
2012 Alsace 1er Cru Rotenberg La Colline Rouge ($48, 96 points) The Deiss family farms several lieux-dits in their hometown of Bergheim, with a mix of five varieties at Engelgarten, four at Grasberg and two at Rotenberg. It may be the simplicity of the elements behind Rotenberg that makes this wine so compellingly transparent in 2012, a year with a cool, dry September. A south-facing hillside of oolithic limestone covered in iron-rich red soil, planted to riesling and pinot gris, it yielded a wine with fresh peach scents, smokier grilled-peach flavors and savory mineral intensity. It’s open and beautiful, a joyous white.
2016 Niederösterreich Messwein Rosé ($21, 90 points) Miesbauer takes the responsibility of providing wine for the abbey seriously: This is a savory rosé made primarily from pinot noir, a variety the winery has grown since 1985. It’s cool and earthy, with crunchy herb and mineral flavors that make it palate-whetting. Founded: 1083 • Winemaker: Fritz Miesbauer • Viticulturist: Jürgen Peters Owner: Benediktiner Stift Göttweig • Acres owned: 64 planted Annual production: 13,750 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importer: Circo Vino, Tucson, AZ 50
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Founded: 1744 • Winemakers/viticulturists: Jean-Michel & Mathieu Deiss Owners: Jean-Michel Deiss, Marie-Hélène Cristofaro • Acres owned: 79 Annual production: 12,500 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importers: Verity Wine Partners, NY; Veritas, Glendale, CA
Standing by their traditions, the Trimbachs produce sumptuous, long-lived wines that may deepen your perspective on Alsace.
Look to Olivier Humbrecht, MW, for a range of profound white wines that will leave you curious to learn more about where each one grows.
You might be forgiven if you thought Trimbach was a German name. Alsace was still under Hapsburg rule in 1626, when the Trimbachs established their wine business in Riquewihr. Within 20 years, it was part of Pierre Trimbach France, then back to Germany in 1871, then to France again in 1919. Trimbach’s wines, however, remain grounded in place: There is nothing particularly French about the wine from Clos Ste. Hune, arguably the greatest vineyard in Alsace, and nothing Germanic about the riesling the Trimbach family has grown at this 4.12-acre vineyard for the past two centuries. Clos Ste. Hune is neither flashy nor stodgy; like the other classics from Trimbach, it is conservative in the original sense of the word. It is agricultural art made by sustaining the traditional culture of the place where it grows. —J.G.
2008 Alsace Clos Ste. Hune Riesling ($239, 93 points) Of the varied soils in their domaine, the limestone at Clos Ste. Hune produces, one of Alsace’s longestlived wines. From 40-year-old riesling vines facing south-southeast, the 2008 yields the scent of seashells as it opens with several days of air. Completely savory, this wine’s powerful umami force makes it feel youthfully compressed at ten years of age, suited to decades of aging. 2013 Alsace Grand Cru Geisberg Riesling ($100, 90 points) While the Trimbachs farm 40 acres of grand cru vineyards, they chose not to present a wine as a grand cru until the first release of Geisberg in 2009. In 2012, they acquired five acres of Schlossberg, which they also bottled as a grand cru. The 2013 Geisberg is gingery and rich, focused by the fruit-skin flavors of ripe peach and kaffir lime. 2012 Alsace Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre Gewurztraminer ($48, 93 points) This comes from a sector of the Osterberg grand cru, where the vines average 40 years of age, planted on limestone over sandstone. It’s an ornate style of Alsace wine, with scents of ginger and toast, orange and lavender. Its gentle texture is dynamic, managing to feel relaxed while a current of tension drives the flavors underneath. Ready to play with traditional Alsace fare, this would elevate boudin blanc or a savory onion tart.
Founded: 1626 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Pierre Trimbach Owner: The Trimbach family • Acres owned: 133 Annual production: 10,000 cases • Estate grown: 80% Importer: Taub Family Selections/Esprit du Vin, Boca Raton, FL
Olivier Humbrecht is a biodynamic farmer and a Master of Wine. One course of study tugs toward scientific mastery of oenology and viticulture, the other toward intuitive ecology, helping living systems do their Olivier Humbrecht, MW work. It’s unusual to find a person who synthesizes these two worldviews. As a sensitive scientist, Humbrecht is aware of how young vines might suffer through a drought year if their crop turns out to be too high for the depths of their roots. Or how vineyard sites might have different kinds of energy. “There are places that lift you and places that bring you down,” he says. “Some will make you tired, some will make you energized. I see that with vineyard workers. They want to go to certain places and not to work in other places.” Working with 100 acres of vines, including significant old-vine parcels in grand crus of Rangen de Thann, Goldert, Hengst and Brand, Humbrecht consistently bottles some of the most dynamic and delicious white wines in the world. —J.G.
2009 Alsace Rangen de Thann Grand Cru Clos St-Urbain Sélection de Grains Nobles Pinot Gris ($100, 96 points) “A vineyard with tremendous energy.” That’s how Humbrecht describes Clos St-Urbain, his property in the far south of Alsace, where he grew a formidable riesling in 2015, scented with chamomile, sage and brisk yellow fruit. That steep slope’s reddish-brown volcanic ash also produces remarkable pinot gris, like the 2009 Sélection de Grains Nobles, from a cool, sunny October that allowed botrytis to concentrate the flavors while sustaining sunny freshness. It’s a profound wine, even as it buzzes with the kind of energy that makes it refreshing to drink. 2015 Alsace Clos Windsbuhl Gewurztraminer ($80, 94 points) The 45-yearold vines at Clos Windsbuhl usually ripen late, as they grow on a high parcel of Muschelkalk, a fossil-rich, chalky limestone with enough clay to sustain the vines. In 2015, the heat of the vintage encouraged them to produce a beautifully rich gewurztraminer with scents of sweet oranges over a tight structure. It’s a different structure than the gewurztraminer from Hengst, a warmer vineyard of dense, pebbly soil over limestone. That 2015 is a powerful wine, its warmth showing in cherimoya flavors and bitter floral notes.
Founded: 1620 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Olivier Humbrecht, MW Owners: Olivier & Margaret Humbrecht Acres owned: N/A Annual production: N/A • Estate grown: 100% Importer: Kobrand, Purchase, NY WINE & SPIRITS
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Bouchard Père & Fils
With 14 wines earning 90 points or better, Bouchard’s 2015s and 2016s rocked our tastings this year.
Damien Livera farms his Gevrey-based domaine for elegance and freshness in his wines.
Michel Bouchard bought his first plot in Burgundy in 1731, a piece of Les Caillerets in Volnay. Over the next nine generations, the family continued to grow the estate, eventually selling it to Joseph Henriot in 1995. Henriot added vineyards in Clos Vougeot, Bonnes Mares, Gevrey-Chambertin and Meursault, building the estate into one of the largest in Burgundy. Its 321 acres encompass 450 parcels, the vast majority of them classified as premier or grand cru, and count among them legendary monopoles such as Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus, in Beaune Grèves. The company also works as a negociant, and its extensive reach requires an extensive staff: At harvest, winemaker Frédèric Weber sends 150 people into the vineyards, and has another 100 on hand in the winery. He vinifies each parcel individually, in a gravity-flow winery Bouchard built Frédéric Weber in Savigny-lès-Beaune in 2005. The wines age in deep cellars, 32 feet below ground. The efforts of Weber and his team paid off with the 2015 and 2016 vintages, with a range of exceptional wines that earned Bouchard Père et Fils its sixteenth appearance in the W&S Top 100. —R.D.T.
Philippe Livera took over his family’s Domaine des Tilleuls, in Gevrey-Chambertin, in 1986. Rather than selling his grapes, he established his own label, bottling wines from his parcels in the Côte de Nuits, including the domaine’s holdings in Chapelle-Chambertin. His son Damien took charge of the domaine in 2007 and changed the farming practices to be more sustainable, using no herbicides and plowing between the vines. He destems Damien Livera most of his fruit, ferments in tank with ambient yeasts, then ages the wines in French oak barrels ranging from 25 to 50 percent new. His cold cellar slows the malolactic conversion, a process he leaves undisturbed, and it can sometimes last up to a year. His 2014 wines impressed us with their complexity and freshness, their plump fruit enlivening the earthy details of a range of Gevrey’s vineyards. —J.G.
2015 Beaune 1er Cru Beaune du Château ($45, 93 points) Bouchard’s strength is in Beaune, where the family owns 123 acres of vines. The firm first created this assemblage of premier-cru vineyards in 1907; it’s now focused on four parcels in Beaune—Aigrots, Tuvilains, Sizies and Sur les Grèves—each vinified separately and then blended. It’s a bold, ornate white Burgundy that transcends any challenges of heat in the vintage, presenting a dynamic, taut wine with a cool, earthy savor.
2016 Vosne-Romanée ($80, 93 points) Bouchard works closely with its contract growers to produce this Vosne, a wine that drinks far above its village-level status. It smells heady and rich, buzzing with notes of hibiscus and spice; the fruit is plush yet firm, fleshy cherry fruit meeting red-apple-skin savor. It’s focused and structured for the long term. 2016 1er Cru Pommard ($90, 92 points) Bouchard scored two home runs with its 2016 Pommards—a village wine and a premier cru—both firmly structured and ready to charm. Drink the village wine now for its red spice and pure, silky fruit, and age the robust premier cru. It’s concentrated, even as the bright red-cherry fruit gives off a fresh glow, sustaining a sense of freshness that lasts. This will only get better with several years in the bottle. Founded: 1731 • Winemaker: Frédéric Weber • Viticulturist: Thierry de Bueil • Owner: Maisons & Domaines Henriot • Acres owned: 321 • Annual production: 25,000 cases • Importer: Maisons & Domaines Henriot America, NY 52
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2014 Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru Domaine des Tilleuls Vieilles Vignes ($250, 94 points) Livera farms one acre in Chapelle-Chambertin, the vines planted in the 1950s on rocky soil where the limestone is close to the surface. His 2014 has beautiful modern richness even as it holds to the grounding of an oldfashioned Burgundy. Its plump blackberry flavors and pink-peppercorn tannins are bridged by layers of complexity. While this wine is youthfully intense, gracious and downright sexy, Livera’s 2015 (93 points) is riper, but no less fresh, a gentle rain of red fruit that will benefit from a long rest in your cellar. 2015 Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Village ($88, 92 points) Livera farms 70-yearold vines at this lieu-dit right beside his cellar, where this wine developed slowly into a gripping and powerful Gevrey. The intensity of the black-cherry concentration is more than matched by the wine’s mineral power, the terroir coming through in a resonant iron-like vibration. A wine that performs far above its village level, this shows the quality of Livera’s farming, setting it up with a cellar-worthy structure. 2014 Gevrey-Chambertin Domaine des Tilleuls Vieilles Vignes Les Evocelles ($75, 92 points) This grows at a vineyard in Brochon, at the northern border of Gevrey, adjacent to the premier cru Champeaux. Livera’s vines in this parcel average 40 to 50 years old, producing a 2014 with the bursting freshness of justpicked raspberries and tart cherries. That explosive freshness combines with the meaty richness of Gevrey tannins, presented with youthful crisp lines. It’s a springtime wine for grilled quail or meaty portobello mushrooms. Founded: 1920 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Damien Livera • Owner: The Livera family • Acres owned: 21 • Annual production: 3,333 cases • Estate grown: 100% • Importers: Banville Wine Merchants, NY; N. Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, CA
Domaine de la Pousse d’Or BURGUNDY
Dom. Marc Morey & Fils BURGUNDY
Sabine Mollard’s 2014s provide a clear vision of Chassagne’s varied terroirs. Fernand Morey founded this domaine after returning home from the first World War. His son, Marc, joined him in 1944, and the domaine name changed from Fernand to Marc when it passed to the third generation, in 1977. It’s run today by fourth-generation Sabine Mollard, who tends the family’s vines (mostly chardonnay, with small parcels of pinot noir and aligoté) and makes the wine in the cellars under their home in Chassagne-Montrachet. The domaine is focused on premier cru holdings in Chassagne, and extends to small plots in Bâtard-Montrachet, as well as St-Aubin and Puligny. Depending on the season, she’ll work with up to 30 percent new oak for the premier cru selections, and between 40 and 50 percent for her parcel of Bâtard, one-third of an acre on the Chassagne side of the grand cru. Her 2014s impressed us for their light touch in winemaking, allowing the variations in terroir to show through in a range of wines, from tight and intense to succulent and ornate. —J.G.
The heart of this domaine is a collection of Volnay parcels that were once part of a grand holding assembled by Jacques-Marie DuvaultBlochet, who also owned Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Clos de Tart. In 1954, Gérard Potel led a group that established the current core of Domaine de la Pousse d’Or, building a reputation for exceptional Volnays. When Potel died in 1997, Patrick Landanger, an engineer by trade, purchased the Patrick Landanger estate, and apprenticed with a number of growers as he took on the winegrowing himself. He's since continued to add property to the domaine, including parcels in Corton, Puligny and the Côte de Nuits. Landanger farms with organic practices, benefiting from the fact that some of his most important holdings are in large blocks. He destems his fruit and ferments without added yeasts in a new gravity-flow cellar. He bottles his wines without fining or filtering, presenting aristocratic, long-lived Volnays from legendary old-vine parcels. —J.G. 2015 Volnay 1er Cru Clos de la Bousse d’Or ($130, 93 points) The original name of this domaine was Bousse d’Or, an archaic term for “golden earth.” Most of the vines at this walled vineyard were planted in the 1960s and ’70s, with onequarter of the parcel dating to 1958. Landanger’s 2015 is rich and beautiful, the fruit taking on red-cherry and plum sweetness, while the tannins are velvet restraints, ready to hold the wine for decades.
2014 Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru ($320, 96 points) There’s motion in this wine, as if the knife-edge of its structure were a plow cutting through limestone, turning up its cool depths. The limestone feels like it’s in the flavor of the lees, transferred through the skins of the grapes of 75-year-old vines, resistant to any oak as the wine fermented in barrels, close to half new. That mineral intensity is layered with notes of orange blossoms, the structure muscular and forceful, the wine clean and perfectly formed. Everything about it is incipient, waiting to evolve.
2014 Corton Grand Cru Corton Bressandes ($150, 93 points) Landanger added this parcel to the domaine in 1998, an acre on an east-facing slope where the oldest vines date to 1956. His 2014 is a silken red that captures the sun on a stony hillside: Its flavors brighten toward red cherries and the fresh, herbal sweetness of cherry tomatoes in midsummer, underlain by crisp, mineral-inflected tannins. Firm yet gracious, it’s a Corton that lives up to its grand cru status.
2014 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets ($98, 94 points) At 20 years old, the domaine’s vines in Caillerets, on the slope south of the village, are just coming into full maturity. In 2014, they turned out a wine that’s clean and fine, tasting like a fresh pear poached in white Burgundy. The flavors are mineral and ornate, with a kind of surety in the balance that will reward cellar time. 2014 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chenevottes ($95, 93 points) Grown on the hill above Montrachet, where the domaine’s vines are 35 years old, this is a vibrant young wine, tight and vinous, lasting in its scents of almond and orange blossom. It handles its bold intensity with grace, driving forward with a sweetness to that intensity, mellowing the notes of celery salt and smoke. Potentially grand, this will benefit from a few years in the cellar. Founded: 1919 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Sabine Mollard • Owners: Sabine & Bernard Mollard • Acres owned: 23 • Annual production: 5,000 cases Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Banville Wine Merchants, NY
2014 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Le Cailleret ($140, 93 points) This 1.8acre parcel in Puligny came to Pousse d’Or from Domaine Jean Chartron in 2004, adding a prized terroir for whites to a domaine most noted for its reds. Fermented and aged in barrels (50 percent new), this wine has a bold, gingery energy, packing its fair share of acidity into a savory, dark-toned white. Youthful and intense, this is a grand wine that needs six to eight years of age to develop its inherent complexities. Founded: 1954 • Owner/winemaker/viticulturist: Patrick Landanger Acres owned: 46 • Annual production: 7,500 cases Estate grown: 100% • Importer: North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, CA WINE & SPIRITS
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Patrick Landanger has expanded this Volnay domaine to include exceptional wines from Puligny and Corton.
Domaine de la Vougeraie
The Boisset family grows elegant wines at their domaine based in Vougeot—including both red and white from Clos Vougeot.
Pierre Larmandier crafts precise and detailed Côte des Blancs Champagnes from his biodynamic vineyards.
Between 1961, when Jean-Claude Boisset established his negociant business, and 1999, when he founded Domaine de la Vougeraie, his family acquired some important parcels in the Côte de Nuits. The Pierre Vincent majority of those holdings are in the village of Vougeot, though the estate’s 109 acres extend over 67 parcels in 33 appellations, including vineyards in six grand crus: Musigny, Bonnes Mares, Clos Vougeot, Charmes Chambertin, Corton Clos du Roi and Corton Charlemagne. Boisset aimed to farm the domaine organically and biodynamically right from the start, working with viticulturist Bernard Zito until 2005. Today, the team continues to take a vineyard-based approach, farming all their vines under biodynamics and vinifying the fruit from each parcel separately. The 2015s, shepherded by winemaker Pierre Vincent, stand out for their vibrancy and understated power. —R.D.T.
Philippe Larmandier’s family had been farming vines in Cramant for five generations when he moved to Vertus and married Elizabeth Bernier in 1971. The couple combined their vineyard assets in the Côte des Blancs, Pierre Lamandier now close to 30 acres (85 percent chardonnay, 15 percent pinot noir). Since 1988, their son, Pierre, has run the family estate with his wife, Sophie. Pierre transitioned the vineyards first to organics and then, in 1999, to biodynamic viticulture. He works to sustain a healthy microbiological population in each vineyard, as he vinifies each of his parcels separately through slow, spontaneous fermentations, some of the fruit in barrels, some in wooden casks, stainlesssteel tanks or concrete eggs (for the rosé). After the wine rests for a year in contract with the lees, he decants it (he doesn’t fine or filter) and sends it to rest in bottle for the secondary fermentation. The clarity of his wines can be astonishing, particularly in his flagship, Terre de Vertus. —J.G.
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2015 Charlemagne Grand Cru ($250, 94 points) This parcel at the top of the Corton hill faces south-southwest, the oldest vines planted in 1954, the plot farmed under biodynamics since 2001. It grew a 2015 that’s sleek and succulent, glowing with an internal energy that illuminates its pale, rich fruit. Impressive now, it has the structure to sustain it for a decade or more in the cellar. 2015 Vougeot 1er Cru Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot ($150, 93 points) This unusual parcel of chardonnay in Vougeot is said to have been planted to white grapes by the monks in 1110. They may have been reacting to the difference between the light-colored, limestone-flecked soil here and the darker soils surrounding it. Whatever the case, that light soil produced a 2015 with cool, crisp white-lime acidity and flinty reduction. Youthful and vibrant, it’s powerfully compressed yet simultaneously refreshing. 2015 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru ($221, 93 points) More powerful than many wines from this large grand cru, this cuvée focuses on fruit from the top of the vineyard with a smaller portion from its base, both parcels farmed under biodynamics since 2001. It’s the essence of Vougeot in a bottle, grace combined with a power that will hold it strong as it ages.
Founded: 1999 • Owner: The Boisset family • Winemaker: Pierre Vincent (2007 to 2017) • Acres owned: 109 • Annual production: Varies; 5,000 cases in 2016; 11,500 in 2017 • Estate grown: 100% Importer: Boisset Family Estates, St. Helena, CA 54
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2010 Champagne Premier Cru Terre de Vertus Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature ($73, 96 points) This grows at two southeast-facing parcels, Les Barillers and Les Faucherets, in the middle of the slope in Vertus. Larmandier vinifies this wine in neutral oak casks, leaving it on the lees for close to a year, then in bottle for a minimum of four years. Presented without dosage, his 2010 is remarkably delicate, subtle and complex, a naked beauty that smells a bit like springtime chamomile and tastes like yellow peaches in summer. It feels nourishing and digestible—the benefits, perhaps, of farming a great terroir without chemical inputs—and it also feels pristine. Champagne Premier Cru Longitude Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut ($60, 95 points) Longitude is a selection from vines in Vertus, Oger, Avize and Cramant, one premier cru and three grand cru villages that align on the fourth meridian. Farmed and vinified the same way as Terre de Vertus, this blend includes 40 percent reserve wines going back to 2004. What the Larmandiers have accomplished through their meticulous farming is compellingly apparent in the glass: The scent itself is sexy and grand, a scent like soil made of seashells. The shape of the wine is beautiful, with a luscious acidity adding spice to the pale white fruit. The flavors might bring to mind a crunchy apple, Marcona almonds and hazelnuts, but mostly they create a lasting impression of Champagne, of the Côte des Blancs and its parallax view of restraint and sheer hedonism. Founded: 1971 • Owner/winemaker/viticulturist: Pierre Larmandier Acres owned: 29.7 • Annual production: 9,000 cases • Estate grown: N/A • Importer: Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, NY; Valkyrie Selections, San Francisco, CA
Bruno Paillard CHAMPAGNE
J. Lassalle CHAMPAGNE Three generations of Lassalle women grow filigreed, ethereal Champagnes from the Montagne de Reims. J. Lassalle was one of the first grower Champagnes to enter the US market, imported by Kermit Lynch in 1979. Back then, the estate was run by Jules Lassalle, who was pressing the grapes he grew in Chigny-les-Roses in a wooden basket press, and hand-riddling all his bottles. After his death in 1982, his wife, Olga, took over; then her daughter Chantal, and Chantal’s daughter, Angéline Templier took the helm. While they’ve made some adjustments over the years, adding temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks to the winery, the basket press remains essential, and they still hand-riddle all the bottles. Nothing is rushed here; all the wines are allowed to go through malolactic conversion; all age at least three years on the lees before disgorgement, and often much longer (they label each wine with the date of disgorgement). The result is wines that express the power the grapes gather on the clay-limestone soils of the Montagne de Reims with grace and finesse. —T.Q.T.
2005 Champagne Premier Cru Cuvée Spéciale Brut ($89, 95 points) The concentration of fruit and depth of flavor Angéline Templier achieves in her wines is readily apparent in this Cuvée Spéciale. A 50/50 blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, it's completely savory, with intense scents of kaffir lime and loquat, and a grip and smokiness to its mineral flavors. It’s powerfully delicious. Champagne Premier Cru Brut Rosé ($69, 95 points) This is made in the traditional oeil de perdrix style: The blend includes 85 percent pinot noir, almost all of it direct pressed off the skins, which leave a pale pink color and a whisper of tangy, forest-fresh wild strawberries in a brisk, cool, springtime scent. The texture is delicate, with creaminess that’s light and ethereal. 2009 Champagne Premier Cru Cuvée Angéline Brut ($89, 95 points) This blend emphasizes pinot noir (60 percent) over chardonnay, and ages a minimum of seven years on the lees. Its bubbles carry the scent of bee pollen, radiating a springtime freshness, while the wine’s textural richness seems to hark back to the clay in the vineyard’s soils. It’s at once earthy, profound and filigreed, lasting with resonant harmony.
Founded: 1942 • Owners: Chantal Decelle-Lassalle, Angéline Templier Winemaker/viticulturist: Angéline Templier • Acres owned: 40 • Annual production: 12,500 cases • Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
In 1981, Bruno Paillard sold his Mark II Jaguar and put the money into founding a winery in Champagne. He was 27 at the time, a Champagne broker with no vineyards or buildings, but a deep familiarity with the region. He built a winery and began making Alice & Bruno Paillard Champagnes with purchased fruit, storing some wine to become reserve stocks. Today, those stocks form an integral part of the identity of Paillard wines, often accounting for one-third of the blend in his cuvées. He also began a regime of long aging on the lees in bottle: Today, his multivintage blends age an average of three years, the single-vintage bottlings between 8 and 12 years. After disgorgement, the wines rests at least five months in his cellars, and up to a year and a half for the vintage cuvées. The high percentage of reserve wines, as well as the long, slow aging on the lees, gives these Champagnes extra depth of flavor and complexity. —R.D.T.
2002 Champagne Extra Brut N.P.U. ($275, 96 points) N.P.U. stands for “Nec Plus Ultra,” Paillard’s tête de cuvée, made in top vintages, exclusively from fruit grown in grand cru vineyards. He fermented the base wine in small barriques, then blended it after ten months, using half chardonnay and half pinot noir. With a low dosage (three g/l), the wine was left on its lees in bottle for ten years. The result is a complex 2002 transitioning to maturity, still brisk and fresh, with scents of apples and honeysuckle leading into flavors of rose, spice and pear. Champagne Extra Brut Première Cuvée Rosé ($70, 94 points) This rosé’s base is a pinot noir blend sourced from Mailly, Verzenay, Bouzy and Les Riceys, including reserves from as far back as 1985. There’s a touch of chardonnay giving the wine freshness and notes of apple blossom. The pink fruit comes through on the palate with juicy strawberries, raspberries and watermelon giving it a bright complexity. As rich as it is, the tiny bubbles make it elegant. Champagne Extra Brut Première Cuvée ($50, 93 points) Paillard’s flagship cuvée is one of the most complex on the market at the price. A blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier sourced from over 30 crus, it gains richness from 20 percent of the lot fermenting in barrel; there’s also a substantial proportion of
Founded: 1981 • Owners/winemakers: Bruno Paillard, Alice Paillard Viticulturist: Matthieu Pingret • Acres owned: 79 • Annual production: 31,500 cases of MV; vintage varies • Estate grown: 60% Importer: Verity Wine Partners, NY WINE & SPIRITS
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Angéline Templier, Olga Lassalle, Chantal Decelle-Lassalle
Bruno Paillard and his daughter, Alice, craft long-aged cuvées from impressive reserve stocks.
Louis Roederer CHAMPAGNE
Louis Roederer produces precisely defined, terroir-driven Champagne on a grand-marque scale.
2009 Champagne Cristal Brut ($249, 96 points) Roederer now farms more than 250 acres under organics or biodynamics, including 80 percent of the vines that provide fruit for Cristal. Given the warmth of the 2009 vintage, less precise
2009 Champagne Philippe Starck Brut Nature ($89, 95 points) A collaboration between Roederer and French designer Philippe Starck, this is a blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay grown in the deep clay soils of Cumières, harvested and fermented together. It’s a wine that requires a sunny vintage, as it’s produced without malolactic or dosage. This 2009 is intensely brisk, needing time in a decanter or in the cellar to allow the scents of flowers, stones and fruit to fill out the structure, yielding notes of almond and honeysuckle, salt and citrus. 2011 Champagne Brut Rosé ($80, 94 points) Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon grows some of the most beautiful rosés in Champagne, focusing on pinot noir from the clay soils of Cumières, and on the careful extraction of color from the skins of the grapes. The wine is discreet in its ripeness, delicate in its fragrance, hinting at roses and the blossoms that will become red fruits. Even so, it’s formidable in its flavor depth, and an able partner for rillettes, whether made from salmon or duck.
From top right: 2009 Champagne Cristal Brut; winegrower Jean-Bapstiste Lécaillon; ploughing in Roederer’s biodynamically-farmed vineyard parcels
Founded: 1776 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon • Owner: The Rouzaud family • Acres owned: 593 • Annual production: 291,600 cases • Estate grown: 70% Importer: Maisons Marques & Domaines, Oakland, CA 56
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photo of Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon by Michelle McSwain
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There are two metaphors you will often hear in the vin clair tastings at Louis Roederer. Frédéric Rouzaud, the seventh-generation proprietor of the grand marque, might describe a lot from one of the estate’s parcels as a “spring” wine. Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, the technical director who began in 2000 to convert the top parcels to biodynamic farming, might suggest a different lot is a “blue-sky” wine. The language, which would sound florid coming from the mouths of lessprecise vignerons, fits with the clarity of the Roederer wines. It’s a language that grew out of Jean-Claude Rouzaud’s efforts to refine the positioning of the family’s domaine in the 1960s, focusing on parcels at the mid-slope at a time when land was undervalued. It informed Jean-Claude’s development of Cristal Rosé and of his son, Frédéric’s, development of the Brut Nature, in a ground-up collaboration with Philippe Starck. Across the entire range, Roederer’s wines are among the most beautifully grown Champagnes being made today. —J.G.
farming might have allowed the wine to expand outside of the clarity of expression that great harvests of Cristal bring from the region’s chalk soils. This 2009 is opulent with notes of fresh peach and hints of meadow flowers. The wine sustains its freshness, sculpted by fine bubbles and chalky minerality into a spherical shape that makes it a pleasure to drink on release. Cristal’s inherent value lies in the elegance and refinement this wine will sustain as it evolves in bottle.
Eric Rodez and his son, Mickaël, grow powerful expressions of Ambonnay’s grand cru vineyards.
A hometown boy starts his own domaine in Vouvray, producing old-vine chenin with natural freshness.
Eric Rodez was working as an oenologist at Krug, immersing himself in the skill of blending wines, when he decided to refocus on his family’s vineyards. He’d met Jean-Michel Deiss, the Alsace renegade whose work led Rodez to wean his vines off of chemical fertilizers and herbicides in the early 1980s. Instead, he used cover crops and tillers to bring life back to the parcels his family had assembled over eight generations. His approach isn’t strictly biodynamic, but aims to minimize his footprint in the vineyards. In his winery, he relies on ambient yeasts and slow, cool fermentaMickaël Rodez tions in small oak barrels to deliver vibrant wines without any forced malolactic fermentation, stabilizing agents, fining or filtering. He vinifies each plot separately, making as many as 60 wines a vintage, which he blends into powerful representations of Ambonnay terroir. —T.Q.T.
Born in Vouvray, Vincent Carême studied viticulture before heading off to work harvest around France. His interest in chenin blanc took him to South Africa, where he worked four vintages and met his wife, Tania. Together, they have assembled a 42-acre domaine in Vouvray, and travel to Swartland to make chenin and cinsault. They gained organic certification for their Tania & Vincent Carême Loire domaine in 2010, and Vincent now teaches the organic winemaking course at the local agricultural college. His cellar, a cave carved out of Vouvray’s white tuffeau, maintains a constant cool temperature year-round. Carême doesn’t add yeasts to the fermentations, and uses only a minimal amount of sulfur at bottling. His careful winegrowing shows in Vouvrays that are fresh and clean, opening a window to their terroir. —J.G.
Champagne Grand Cru Ambonnay Brut Rosé ($65, 95 points) Whether informed by his time at Krug, which also claims an outstanding rosé Champagne, or simply his pinot noir vineyards, Eric Rodez produces this wine with a short maceration on the skins, accounting for 40 percent of the blend. The rest of it is equal parts chardonnay and pinot noir vinified without the skins. Its pure flavors have the sweet crunch of red apples and a high-arcing limestone drive. 2010 Champagne Grand Cru Ambonnay Les Beurys Brut ($168, 95 points) Rodez produces a powerful expression of pinot noir from Les Beurys, a plot of 35-year-old vines on an east-facing slope. One whiff might fill your head with floral scents and herbal complexity; a sip is a flood of red fruit character. But what especially sets this wine apart is its clarity, all of its elements in harmony, lasting in a cool, bright orb of flavor. Champagne Grand Cru Ambonnay Brut Blanc de Blancs ($74, 94 points) Although Ambonnay is pinot noir country, about 38 percent of Rodez’s holdings are in chardonnay. He blends this blanc de blancs from 15 wines taken from some five or six vintages. Most of it (82 percent) fermented in barrel, and that shows in the initial spicy notes of oak, quickly superseded by scents of pale chamomile and a feeling of the cool morning sun on chalk-white earth. It has the floral character of a white peach, and bracing leesy power that suggests this is a Champagne to age.
Founded: 1984 • Owner/winemaker: Eric Rodez Viticulturist: Mickaël Rodez • Acres owned: 15 Annual production: 3,750 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importers: AP Wine Imports, NY; Charles Neal Selections, San Francisco, CA
2014 Vouvray l’Ancestrale ($40, 93 points) This is Carême’s pétillant naturel, from a 50-year-old parcel of chenin he farms in Vernou-sur-Brenne, where the soils are clay and flint. He ferments it in vats, then bottles the wine before the fermentation is complete, when there’s still enough sugar left from the grapes to generate some fizz. Enjoyable to drink right after the cork is popped, with mild apple and jasmine rice scents, this is a sparkling wine that benefits from air: The flavors turn darker, with earthy depth and richness, the texture silken.
2014 Vouvray Le Peu Monrier ($40, 95 points) Le Peu Monrier is a hamlet where Carême farms two adjacent parcels of 50-yearold chenin, three acres in all. He makes this wine in 400-liter barrels, ten percent of them new, leaving the wine to rest on the lees for ten months. It’s a massive Vouvray, fresh, firm, stony and brisk, hinting at apple skin and lemon zest—the kind of structured chenin that will live for a decade or more. 2015 Vouvray Spring ($20, 92 points) Labeled as Vincent et Tania Carême, this is the couple’s negociant wine, using fruit from growers Vincent knows personally and helps with farming. He ferments some of it in older 400-liter casks, some in stainless steel, the two components coming together in a fresh, fennel-scented Vouvray with hints of almond and chalk dust. A great buy for fish roasted over fennel.
Founded: 1999 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Vincent Carême Owners: Vincent & Tania Carême • Acres owned: 42 • Annual production: 10,000 cases • Estate grown: 75% • Importer: Cape Classics, NY WINE & SPIRITS
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Domaine Vincent Carême
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Domaines Ott PROVENCE
The Vacheron cousins grow classical, profound sauvignon and pinot noir in the hills of Sancerre.
Working with three estates, the Otts grow some of the most elegant rosés in Provence.
Cousins Jean-Laurent and Jean-Dominique Vacheron are the fourth generation at the helm of this family domaine. While their parents developed the reputation of the estate through exploring the terroir expressions of different parcels, the current generation has focused on farming. They converted the domaine to biodynamics in the early 2000s, Jean-Laurent & Jean-Dominique and take equal care in Vacheron the winery, where they work with spontaneous fermentations in both stainless-steel tanks and open-top wooden vats. They age their wines in foudres and French oak barrels, then bottle without fining or filtering. Most of their vineyards are dedicated to sauvignon blanc (71 acres), but they also grow impressive pinot noir (28 acres), including Les Marnes, from a parcel on marne de crétacée, loamy clay packed with fossilized seashells. —J.G.
In 1896, when Marcel Ott arrived in Provence from Alsace, the local vineyards had been devastated by phylloxera. Sensing an opportunity, he bought two estates and began replanting. One Jean-François Ott was Château de Selle in Taradeau, an inland town on a high limestone slope. Another, Clos Mireille, was right on the Mediterranean coast in La Londe Les Maures. In each, Ott planted what he termed “noble” varieties, aiming to produce elegant representations of their place rather than turn out bulk juice. In 1956, the Otts added a Bandol property to their portfolio, Château Romassan, which Marcel’s sons, Etienne, René and André, spent over a decade reviving. The family ran the trio of wineries until 2004, when they sold the company to the Rouzaud family of Champagne Louis Roederer. The infusion of capital allowed for updates such as a new winery at Château de Selle, but the day-to-day operations remain in the hands of JeanFrançois and Christian Ott, who sustain their family’s vineyards with wines that speak elegantly of the south of France. —T.Q.T.
2010 Sancerre Les Marnes ($150, 91 points) This red Sancerre is a delicious and intriguing rarity, from 35-year-old vines growing on a southeast-facing hill. The soil, with its fossilized seashells, seems to add to the mineral tension of a classical, cool-climate pinot, its rosy fragrance and delicate length still clean and lively for an eight-year-old wine.
2016 Sancerre ($37, 93 points) The Vacherons blend this from hillside parcels, some chalk, some flint, around the town of Sancerre. They bottle it without fining or filtering, capturing a substantial wine, one that’s more about stone than fruit. The texture is silky, the flavors bold and bracing, with veal-stock richness, smoky notes of orange pith and tarragon scents that all focus back toward rock. 2016 Sancerre Les Romains ($64, 93 points) This grows on a south-facing hillside of flint-rich soils, with some of the Vacherons’ oldest vines. Aged in older barriques, it presents a wine with crackling energy, fleshy, round and rich. There’s an oceanic brininess, notes of floral herbs and a pomelo flavor that all come together in a complex and deeply satisfying Sancerre to serve with Belon oysters.
2017 Côtes de Provence Château de Selle Rosé ($53, 95 points) You get a sense that Marcel Ott was a bit of an adventurer when you see the sunbaked, rock-covered vineyards at Château de Selle. It’s an imposing landscape for cultivating anything, and yet this rosé is one of Provence’s most elegant. The concentration of the fruit comes through in the wine’s satin texture while the flavors remain restrained—hints of melon, lemon and red cherry highlighting its earthy savor. It may be pale in color, but it’s structured and firm, a rosé that wouldn’t be out of place at Le Bernardin in New York. 2015 Bandol Château Romassan ($52, 92 points) At Château Romassan, mourvèdre rules, the vines averaging 25 years of age. Those vines seem to channel the warmth of the estate’s chalk, sandstone and marl soils into the meaty intensity of the estate’s red wine; the 2015 is a chewy Bandol to tuck away in the cellar for six to ten years. 2017 Bandol Château Romassan Rosé ($53, 92 points) While you wait for the red Bandol to come around, drink the rosé, a pale pink based on mourvèdre, with small amounts of grenache and cinsault. If the red speaks of Bandol earth, the rosé speaks of the air, its luxurious texture as caressing as a warm summer breeze, its scents alluring with notes of herbs and tart berries.
Founded: 1900 • Owners/winemakers/viticulturists: Jean-Laurent and Jean-Dominique Vacheron • Acres owned: 99 • Annual production: 16,666 cases • Estate grown: 100% • Importer: North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, CA 58
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Founded: 1912 • Winemakers/viticulturists: Jean-François & Christian Ott Owner: The Rouzaud family • Acres owned: 600 planted • Annual production: 67,000 cases (cru wines) • Estate grown: 100% (domaine & cru wines) Importer: Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Oakland, CA
Domaine du Pégau RHÔNE
2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Da Capo ($550, 97 points) Da Capo is the Férauds’ top bottling, produced only in great years, and focused on the fruit of their oldest vines, some of which date to 1905. All of Châteauneuf’s 13 grape vari-
2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée A Tempo ($250, 96 points) The Férauds introduced this cuvée in 2014 as a white counterpart to their Cuvée Da Capo. It’s a blend of three varieties (clairette, grenache blanc and roussanne) grown on three types of soil (clay, sand and galets) and vinified in three different vessels (stainlesssteel tanks, French oak barrels and cement eggs). The result in 2016 takes hours to emerge from its shell, revealing a sumptuous wine, round and rich in notes of roasted pears and walnuts, with a freshness that increases as it takes on air. Decant it if you open it now; otherwise, wait another five or ten years. 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée ($110, 93 points) The Férauds’ preference for using whole bunches, including stems, in their fermentations comes through clearly and beautifully in this 2015: The stem spice acts in the same way a dusting of herbs elevates a roasted leg of lamb, adding dimension as well as a contrast that illuminates the depth of the flavors. This feels complete and harmonious, lasting with an umami savor.
The Férauds have been farming vines in Châteauneuf-du-Pape since 1670, but it was Laurence Féraud who shaped the estate as it is today. When she joined her father, Paul, at the winery in 1987, he was selling most of the fruit from his 17 acres, and bottling just enough for friends and family. She convinced him to bottle more wine and sell it, investing the profits in more land. Today, the duo farms 58 acres in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the vines spread through the Courthézon, La Solitude and Bédarrides communes; in 2012, Laurence added another 101 acres in Sorgues, four miles south of their domaine, where she makes an assortment of Côtes du Rhônes under the label Château Pégau. She farms both properties without any chemical inputs, and prefers whole-cluster ferments and long aging in old large-format barrels. We tasted an exceptional array of wines from both estates this year, recommending six with scores of 92 and higher, all impressive for the harmony they strike between youthful vibrancy and mellow maturity. —T.Q.T.
eties are represented in the blend, fermented with their stems by ambient yeasts in cement tanks; the wine then rested for two years in old oak casks. One whiff of this 2015 might transport you to a sunny day in the southern Rhône, with its fresh, herbal breeziness and lush, ripe fruit tones. But it’s the way those scents and flavor array on the palate that’s remarkable, with a precision and harmony that brings to mind the clean lines of an English garden. Delicious now, this should age well for the next 20 years.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
The Ferauds’ savvy eye for land and gentle approach to winemaking have made this young estate one of the Rhône greats.
From top right: 2015 Cuvée Da Capo; Laurence Féraud; Domaine du Pégau’s vines in La Crau
Founded: 1987 • Owners/winemakers/ viticulturists: Laurence & Paul Féraud • Acres owned: 183 • Annual production: 6,700 cases (Domaine); 12,000 (Château) • Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, VA WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Rotem & Mounir Saouma RHÔNE
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
The Saoumas apply their Burgundy-honed finesse to grenache in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with exceptional results. When Rotem and Mounir Saouma aren’t working in Beaune at Lucien LeMoine, the micro-negociant firm they launched in 1999, they are in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, tending the 21 acres of vines they’ve acquired in the region since 2006. The attraction wasn’t only affordable land; it was also grenache, a variety they find as compelling as pinot noir. Their first purchase was a five-acre parcel planted in 1942, neighboring the Pignan lieu-dit; while it was in rough shape, they set out to replace the dead vines with grenache, and to nurse the live ones back to health. They then went looking for other parcels that had been neglected due to their challenging terroir and found one in Esqueirons, paved in white rocks, with no visible soil. They’ve since acquired parcels in all five villages of the appellation, exploring the diversity of soils. In the winery, they work to preserve the character of the fruit off each parcel, letting each lot macerate for a week at cool temperatures, then transferring it to barrel, foudre, cement tank or egg. Ambient yeasts complete the fermentation over three or four weeks and then the wine rests, untouched, until bottling; the only addition is a small amount of sulfur at that time. The wines are unlike any others coming out of Châteauneuf today, with a finesse, lift and elegance that put them in a class of their own. —T.Q.T.
2014 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Arioso ($210, 96 points) Arioso is an ode to grenache, pulled from the first parcel the Saoumas purchased, a north-facing plot in Pignan. Fermented as whole clusters in tank, then left to ferment spontaneously for three to four weeks with no punchdowns or pumpovers, the wine sings, the flavors jewel-toned in their clarity and precision, etched by fine acidity. “Red wine in a white dress,” is how one taster described it. If you open it now, decant it for a few hours before serving; otherwise, age it for another five to ten years. 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Omnia ($97, 94 points) The Saoumas cull this cuvée from their nine parcels in Châteauneuf, spread across the region’s five villages. Mostly grenache, with a 20 percent mix of the appellation’s other allowed varieties, and aged 24 months in a combination of foudres, cement tanks and 500-liter barrels, it’s surprisingly delicate in both hue and flavor, with gauzy layers of cherry, spice, smoke, herbs and leaves. Those flavors last, fragrant and steadfast, suggesting it will age well in the cellar. 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Magis Blanc ($110, 94 points) Taste this white blind and you might mistake it for a Puligny at first: It’s warm and smoky, with notes of reduction and oak masking the fruit. But give it air and the fruit comes up in satin-textured notes of golden peach, marzipan and roasted apples that place the wine a good 200 miles south of Beaune. Built on grenache blanc, augmented with clairette, roussanne and bourboulenc, this wine seems to get firmer, whiter and brighter every minute it sits in the glass, without ever losing its polish.
From top right: 2014 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Arioso; Rotem Brakin & Mounir Saouma; their old vines in Pignan
Founded: 2006 • Owners/winemakers/ viticulturists: Rotem Brakin & Mounir Saouma Acres owned: 21 • Annual production: N/A Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Vintus, Pleasantville, NY 60
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
From its base in Tain l’Hermitage, this venerable house has upped its game in the northern Rhône.
Oliver Haag’s careful farming and light winemaking hand combine to produce some of the Middle Mosel’s most charming and profound wines.
After World War II, Jean Delas began expanding his family’s holdings on the Hermitage hill, and ventured into Châteauneuf-du-Pape. By the 1960s, the firm had vineyards throughout the northern Rhône. Champagne Deutz acquired the house in 1977; now they both form part of the portfolio of the Rouzaud family, of Champagne Louis Roederer. Fabrice Rosset, CEO of Deutz, has led Delas since 1996; Jacques Grange joined as winemaker the following year. While much of the winery’s production focuses on negociant bottlings, the company has increased emphasis on Jacques Grange & Claire Darnaud its vineyards, working with the government to pilot new biocontrol products and pursuing the French HVE (high environmental value) accreditation for its vineyards. The work has paid off; in the last 12 months, we recommended a dozen Delas bottlings with scores of 90 and higher. And the future looks bright: This year, the company is investing 14 million euros in a new winery in Tain l’Hermitage, aiming to have it ready for harvest 2019. —T.Q.T.
2015 Cornas Chante–Perdrix ($55, 94 points) Where Delas Frères does not own vineyards, the company partners with growers who farm according to their specifications. In 2015, the arrangement resulted in a Cornas that’s at once firm and soaring, with firm, fine tannins providing direction for the juicy black-plum flavors. Those flavors vibrate with energy as they open with air, an energy that promises to sustain the wine in the cellar over the coming years. 2015 Côte-Rôtie La Landonne ($280, 93 points) The steep slopes at La Landonne produce some of the most intense wines of Côte-Rôtie, thanks to their ironrich soils and location in the cooler northern end of the appellation. This wine started with a three-day cold maceration leading into a ten-day fermentation in open-topped vats with plenty of pumpovers and punchdowns. It’s a mass of black cherry and plum flavor upholstered in the smooth, smoky sweetness of the new oak in which it aged—plush and flashy, and built to last. 2016 Condrieu Clos Boucher ($80, 93 points) Delas owns a small south-facing parcel of viognier near the tiny appellation of Château Grillet; the vines produce only 6,000 bottles a year. This 2016 shows its power in the tightness of its build and depth of its savor. The flavors recall a peach in its entirety, from the bitter nap of the fuzz to the nuttiness of the pit. Its floral restraint makes it easy to drink, but there’s more to come; best to tuck the bottle in the cellar for another decade. Founded: 1835 • Winemakers: Jacques Grange, Claire Darnaud • Viticulturists: Jacques Grange, Gregoire Besson • Owner: The Rouzaud family • Acres owned: 79 • Annual production: 180,000 cases • Estate grown: 14.5% Importer: Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Oakland, CA
The Haag family has spent 400 years tending the Brauneberger hill, a steep south-facing slope in the Middle Mosel recognizable by the outcropping of brown slate in its midst. Its reputation grew exponentially under Wilhelm Haag, Oliver Haag who ran the estate from 1957 until 2005. He was known for both his strict attention to quality as well as his good humor; he was famous, for instance, for insisting that visiting wine writers actually drink his wines with him rather than taste and spit them out. Today, his son Oliver keeps both those characteristics alive, crafting wines that belie his attention to detail through their sheer drinkability. —T.Q.T.
2016 Mosel Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese ($38, 94 points) Haag owns the most prized sections of the Brauneberger hillside, including vines clinging to the vertiginously steep, stony Juffer Sonnenuhr. Its wines are typically riper and richer than those from neighboring parcels, yet Haag’s wines maintain a lift and grace that sets them apart. This 2016 Spätlese is a case in point, its power channeled into deep, stony savor scented with pristine notes of peach and pear. 2016 Mosel Brauneberger Riesling Kabinett ($26, 92 points) Oliver Haag depends on ambient yeasts to do the fermenting in his wines, and he lets his wines take as long as they need in the cellar. They tend to be slow to emerge from the glass as well, with a little “sponti” (German slang for spontaneous ferment) funk on the front end. This Kabinett, a selection of fruit from both the Juffer and Juffer Sonnenuhr vineyards, took two days after opening to lose its funk, rewarding patience with a juicy, generous wine that shows its pedigree in depth and persistence. 2016 Mosel Riesling QbA Feinherb ($20, 93 points) While Haag’s wines from the upper end of the Prädikat range tend to garner the most attention (for instance, the 2016 Auslese bottlings we enthusiastically recommended earlier this year), his 2016 QbA Feinherb is a knockout. It’s the definition of a racy riesling, the grapefruity acidity rushing its salty citrus flavors over a firm, cool mineral base. How’d he do it? Chalk it up to decades of careful, chemical-free farming and Haag’s attention to clonal selections, canopy management and robust harvest staffing.
Founded: 1605 • Owner/winemaker/viticulturist: Oliver Haag Acres owned: 43 • Annual production: 10,000 cases Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Loosen Bros. USA, Salem, OR WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
FRANCE | GERMANY
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Robert Weil RHEINGAU
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
GERMANY | GREECE
RHEINHESSEN Jochen Dreissigacker is elevating the reputation of Germany’s Rheinhessen with his finely chiseled rieslings.
For 28 consecutive years, Weil has put out wines at each Prädikat level; the latest are exceptional.
After working with Rheinhessen star-winemaker Klaus-Peter Keller, Jochen Dreissigacker returned to his family’s estate in 2001 and began a complete renovation. He started in the vineyards, shedding the dornfelder that had provided them with Jochen Dreissigacker affordable, easy-drinking reds, acquiring parcels of old-vine riesling in some of the region’s top vineyards and farming everything organically. He stopped producing the semisweet wines his parents had made, losing more than half of the family’s customers as a result. He’s since found a growing audience for the sharply etched wines he turns out of his new gravity-flow winery with cellarmaster Achim Bicking. —T.Q.T.
Wilhelm Weil presides over one of the finest patches of land in Germany’s Rheingau. The estate began to take shape in 1875, when Robert Weil, Wilhelm’s great-grandfather, purchased a manor house and vineyards in Kiedrich. The town is one Wilhelm Weil of the sunniest places in the region, cradled between a swath of the Rheingau river that runs east to west and the forests of the Taunus Mountains, which block the vineyards from cold north winds. Today, the estate comprises 222 acres of vines, including the majority of the grand cru of Gräfenberg, and the entirety of the neighboring premier cru Turmberg. Weil, backed by the Japanese conglomerate Suntory since 1988, employs an army of workers to keep the vines healthy and their fruit pristine, so that, every year, the winery can turn out wines at every Prädikat level, from bone dry to Trockenbeerenauslese sweet, with exceptional clarity and precision. —T.Q.T
2013 Rheinhessen Bechtheimer Geyersberg QbA Trocken ($60, 96 points) Dreissigacker and cellarmaster Achim Bicking work with ambient yeasts, gentle pressings and old, large casks, an approach that plays up the ripeness of the fruit they get in Bechtheimer Geyersberg. Dreissigacker considers this south-facing parcel of marl and loess to be one of his top sites. Vinified dry, the 2013 shows its ripeness in its rich yellow hue and warm grilled-fruit flavors, yet tastes tangy and alive, a lean, stony wine with a mouthwatering salinity that should preserve it for another 20 years.
2016 Rheingau Riesling QbA Trocken ($20, 92 points) Pulled from parcels bordering the Gräfenberg vineyard, this bears the marks of a Weil wine in its clarity and precision. Searingly dry, it feels as if it’s made from light-catching minerals rather than fruit, with notes of lemon blossom developing as it takes on air. Satinsmooth and sleek, it’s an elegant, austere wine for sashimi.
2013 Rheinhessen Westhofener Morstein QbA Trocken ($72, 92 points) Dreissigacker owns a parcel of 40-year-old vines in this vineyard, a legendary site that’s been documented as far back as 1282. Grown in limestone over clay, vinified with ambient yeasts—70 percent in barrel, the rest in stainless steel—it’s a powerful wine, its lemony flavors propelled by intensely saline minerality. Those citrus notes grow richer with air, turning toward golden raspberry and red currant tones while holding strictly to dryness.
2016 Rheingau Kiedrich Turmberg Riesling QbA Trocken ($52, 92 points) Turmberg sits next to Gräfenberg, a premier cru site differentiated by the thinner layer of topsoil covering its slate subsoil. The wines tend to be delicate, like this one, which channels the vineyard in its sleek, flinty flavors, a delicate filigree of lemon and grapefruit acidity keeping it lively and firm.
2015 Rheinhessen Bechtheimer Riesling QbA Trocken ($28, 90 points) Dreissigacker blends this from the Geyersberg, Stein, Rosengarten and Hasensprung vineyards, fermenting 80 percent of the blend in stainless steel, the rest in neutral barrels. It’s his most friendly wine, though that’s not to say it’s simple: It has the chiseled feel of his other wines, a pointed minerality that builds into smoky herbal notes adding warmth and detail.
2016 Rheingau Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Beerenauslese ($320, 97 points) The Gräfenberg is Weil’s most prized vineyard, its deep soils and sheltered position in a side valley allowing for immensely concentrated wines. Although the 2016 vintage started out rainy, the berries that made it through the summer enjoyed the warmest September Weil can remember. Even the first-harvested grapes came in at Spätlese levels. This shimmering, satin-textured Beerenauslese has flavors that soar, the mineral tones enhancing the fruit like a shower of sea salt. It’s so balanced that the flavors don’t actually register as sweet: It’s just a sumptuous beauty.
Founded: 1728 • Owner/winemaker/viticulturist: Jochen Dreissigacker Acres owned: 99 • Annual production: 22,500 cases Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Schatzi Wines, NY
Founded: 1875 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Wilhelm Weil • Owners: Wilhelm Weil and Suntory • Acres owned: 222 • Annual production: 47,000 cases Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Loosen Bros. USA, Salem, OR
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Boutari NAOUSSA | SANTORINI | MANTINIA
2011 Naoussa Grande Reserve ($32, 95 points) This is Boutari’s flagship wine, made from xinomavro culled from the vineyards surrounding its main winery in northern Greece. It’s not superconcentrated, like many versions of Naoussa today; nor is it leafy and thin. Rather, the Grande Reserve transmits its power in its truffled scent and spicy fruit, the tangy, earthy flavors evoking the region’s fog-covered hillsides in autumn. Those flavors last, along with firm, ferrous tannins that promise to hold the wine strong for the next decade. 2017 Santorini Assyrtiko ($35, 90 points) Boutari’s work on Santorini in the late 1980s and early 1990s spurred the renaissance of winemaking on the island. The winery still puts out a defining Santorini, less severe than many stainless steelfermented versions, yet with plenty of saline minerality. 2017 Mantinia Oropedio ($16, 90 points) The Boutaris hoped moschofilero might replace pinot grigio as a go-to aperitif in the new millennium, promoting the floral grape’s charms with a floral-patterned bottle. Meanwhile, their research department was experimenting with other variations, from oaked versions to lateharvest styles. Oropedio proves moschofilero’s ability to make a serious, savory white. Half the blend fermented in stainless steel, half in old oak barrels, combining in a firm, dry and mineral white with the variety’s floral scents and notes of lemon oil, lime zest and cumin spice. Founded: 1879 • Owner: The Boutari family • Winemakers: Dr. Yannis Voyatzis, Vasilis Georgiou, Alexandros Tzachristas • Viticulturists: Dimitris Taskos, Paraskeas Evaggeliou, Petros Vamvakousis Acres owned: 125 • Annual production: 260,000 cases • Estate grown: 17% • Importer: Terlato Wines Int’l, Lake Bluff, IL
Estate Argyros SANTORINI Matthew Argyros makes some of Santorini’s finest modern white wines while upholding a tradition for long-lived Vinsantos. Argyros is a revered name on Santorini. Yiorgos Argyros established his winery in 1903, and his son expanded the estate, collecting vineyards abandoned after the earthquake of 1956. His son, Yiannis Argyros, took over in 1974, and continued to amass vineyards in an effort to preserve the old vines; in the island’s phylloxera-free sandy soils, some vines have root systems that may well be more than 300 years old. Today, Yiannis’s son Matthew oversees 300 acres of vines, 129 of those estate-owned. He uses that fruit to craft a range of wines, from Atlantis, a gently-priced assyrtiko-based blend, to a rare single-variety aidani and a barrel-fermented, estate-grown Santorini. He’s also the guardian of his father’s legacy with Vinsanto, the island’s sweet wine. Yiannis Argyros was a perfectionist when it came to clean fruit, and a virtuoso in blending parcels to build complexity. After a long, slow fermentation with ambient yeasts followed by years of mellowing in small wooden barrels, his Vinsantos last for decades. Matthew works in the same vein, tending wines that have been aging in barrel since 1974, releasing them when he finds fit. This year, those releases included a 2001 and a 1992, stunning wines that speak to the distinctive character of this island’s terroir, as well as the talent and devotion of those who spend their lives working with it. —T.Q.T.
1992 Santorini Vinsanto 20 Years Barrel Aged ($150, 100 points) With 255 grams per liter of residual sugar, this Vinsanto is technically off the charts in sweetness. But in the midst of the cathedral of rich flavors—dark, figgy fruit building into notes of dried cherries, salt, herbs and candied orange peel—a beam of acidity brings light and openness to the wine’s structure. Argyros’s best Vinsantos can age for 30 years or more: This is one of them. 2001 Santorini Vinsanto 12 Years Barrel Aged ($100, 96 points) With less time in barrel, the 12 Years is brighter in flavor but no less hedonistic than the 1992. It’s as creamy and dense as a warm salted caramel, with a similarly luxurious texture, and it’s packed with flavors, from fresh apricot to notes of burnt orange, cinnamon, leather and citrus zest, that take the edge off the sweetness. It, too, will age well for decades. 2016 Santorini Estate Argyros Assyrtiko ($28, 90 points) Matthew Argyros crafts this wine from his oldest vines and vinifies about ten percent in old oak barrels. The acidity gives the lemony fruit a brightness and crisp snap, while any richness from the oak reads only in the wine’s warm embrace. It’s ready now, for a grilled whole fish. Founded: 1903 • Owner/winemaker/viticulturist: Matthew Argyros Acres owned: 129 • Annual production: 42,679 cases • Estate grown: N/A • Importer: Craft + Estate/The Winebow Group, NY WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
This is the 18th time that Boutari has ranked among the W&S Top 100 Wineries of the Year, an outstanding achievement for a winery anywhere, let alone in a country with a modern wine industry as young as Dr. Yannis Voyatzis that of Greece. The majority of the credit for this falls to Constantine and Yiannis Boutari, who set out in the 1980s to elevate their family winery in Naoussa while assembling a team to canvass Greece for other promising terroirs. The company’s investment in Santorini in the late eighties kicked off a revival that put Greece on the modern-day wine map; and the team revived Goumenissa, a small area northeast of Naoussa nearly forgotten by then. Today, Constantine Boutari runs the company with the help of his daughters, and CEO/winemaker Yannis Voyatzis, who has worked with the family since 1984. That team continues to prove the potential of Greece’s vineyards in both classic wines and fascinating explorations of native grapes. —T.Q.T.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Boutari puts out a portfolio of wines that highlights Greece’s best varieties and appellations.
Domaine Sigalas SANTORINI
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
With a series of single-parcel bottlings, Paris Sigalas is illuminating remarkably diverse terroir expressions on Santorini. A mathematician by training, Paris Sigalas fell in love with wine as a student in Paris, relaxing in wine bars over glasses of Burgundy. When he returned to Greece, he began commuting from Athens to a patch of vines his father’s family owned on Santorini. That was in 1991, just as the island’s wine scene was beginning to heat up; by 1998, he’d built a winery, setting up shop on the quiet northeastern end of the island, where hills offer some protection from the island’s vicious winds. Rather than training vines in the traditional basket shapes, he began experimenting with trellising and moved to organic farming; he also paid attention to lesser-known varieties like mavrotragano, creating a red that revived interest in the grape. His latest project is Seven Villages, an examination of assyrtiko through a series of singleplot vinifications, all made in stainless-steel tanks. While the limited production (about 1,000 bottles each) makes the exercise more academic than commercial, it may be Sigalas’s most important work: Not only do the wines clearly show this chalk-covered island’s varied terroir, but their power and clarity illuminates Santorini’s still-untapped potential. —T.Q.T.
stainless steel. It’s is a liquid landscape of Santorini, from the clean, salty scent of a white-sand beach at dawn to the blinding brightness of the white limed buildings, telegraphed here in sunny, thirst-quenching lemon flavors. 2016 Santorini 7 Villages Fira ($66, 96 points) While the 7 Villages wines are compelling as a group, to taste together, with clear differences among them suggesting a vast diversity of microclimates, the bottling from Fira is the standout. In this case, the village is the capital city, high above the caldera, and the wine grows at vineyards nearby. It comes on quietly, the scent fresh and salty, then builds into a vivacious wine with concentrated, chalky flavor. It’s powerful but the acidity keeps it feeling playful and breezy—and sustains the wine for days after popping the cork. That bodes well for aging; as delicious as the wine may be now, it’s well worth cellaring a few bottles. 2014 Santorini Nychteri ($101, 95 points) Nychteri is a traditional style of Santorini, the grapes picked very ripe, then fermented and aged in old oak barrels. Sigalas’s version in 2014 is so rich it might appear to be a dessert wine, with its orange-gold color and its sweet scents of caramel and oranges. But the bright sharpness of the acidity keeps the flavors on the savory side, focused on notes of cashew, roasted peach and sun-roasted stones. The wine ends up feeling fresh and fleet despite its 15 percent alcohol, ready for dinner with duck à l’orange.
2017 Santorini Assyrtiko ($37, 95 points) For his classic bottling, Sigalas culls grapes from his own vineyards as well as purchased fruit and vinifies the wine in From top right: 2016 Santorini 7 Villages Fira; Paris Sigalas; Sigalas's old basket-trained vines on Santorini
Founded: 1991 • Owner/winemaker/viticulturist: Paris Sigalas • Acres owned: 22.2 Annual production: 16,666 cases • Estate grown: 30% • Importer: Diamond Importers, Chicago, IL 64
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
The Mastroberardino family focuses on preserving, improving and promoting Campania’s ancient grape varieties.
Two childhood friends teamed up to make single-cru Barolos from Monforte d’Alba that marry tradition and innovation.
Antonio Mastroberardino, the ninth generation to run his family’s estate, set the winery on its present day course when he defied government pressure to plant highyielding international varieties after the devastation of World War Piero Mastroberardino II, and instead championed native varieties like aglianico, fiano and greco. Today, his son, Piero, continues that mission, working with viticulturist Antonio Dente to identify clones and biotypes of each variety and match them to the most advantageous soils and exposures in more than a dozen different sites owned by the family. He also continues a collaboration with an archaeological institute started in 1996 focused on winegrowing practices before the eruption of Vesuvius. That study has resulted in Villa dei Misteri, the recreation of an ancient vineyard among the ruins of Pompeii. The family’s continuous drive to improve their vines has led to a set of refined, elegant wines that merit a fifth Top 100 appearance.—S.J.
Guido Fantino and Claudio Conterno grew up working together in the vineyards with their families, who made wine to sell in bulk. In 1982, after studies in winemaking and agronomy, they bottled a Guido Fantino & Claudio Conterno wine together, from a plot of vines in Monforte d’Alba’s Ginestra cru, a property Conterno's family had owned for generations. They began acquiring parcels when they could, eventually building an estate of more than 64 acres. All of their vineyards are certified organic; in the winery, their approach combines traditional practices, like hand-harvesting and fermentations with ambient yeasts, with more modern methods, like shorter maceration periods, barrique aging and use of solar and geothermal power. While many producers make an entry-level Barolo blended from several different crus, the duo chooses to emphasize the expression of each vineyard. All four of their Barolos come from strict selections from single crus, with the remaining fruit going into Ginestrino, a Langhe Nebbiolo that was highly recommended in W&S’s December 2017 issue. —S.J.
2011 Taurasi Radici Riserva ($80, 94 points) The Mastroberardino team undertook a long and careful study to determine optimal soil profiles and exposures before producing their first Taurasi Radici Riserva in 1986. They bottle it only in the best vintages, which meant skipping 2009 and 2013, but in 2011, cool evening breezes tempered the heat at the end of the growing season, allowing the family to produce an intense Riserva. Rigid tannins encase the wine, giving way to flavors of blackberry, plum and fennel with dark mineral tones. Keep it in the cellar as long as you can before pouring with an aged strip steak.
2013 Barolo Sorì Ginestra ($113, 94 points) Of the two Barolos Conterno Fantino produces from the Ginestra cru, this is the more powerful. It comes off of vines up to 40 years old on a south-facing hillside of silty clay soils, gaining brawny tannins that Guido and Fabio Fantino moderated by a relatively short maceration, and two years in French oak barriques. The wine’s fresh cherry flavors get a lift from Ginestra’s characteristic notes of sage and anise.
2013 Taurasi Radici ($60, 93 points) Aglianico for this bottling comes from two of Mastroberardino’s vineyards, combining elegance from Mirabella Eclano’s sandy soils with power from the clay soils of Montemarano. It ages for two years in Slavonian casks and French oak barriques (just 20 percent new). Lithe and medium bodied, with bright acidity and cool graphite notes, it’s more approachable than the Riserva, yet it has plenty of aging potential.
2013 Barolo Ginestra Vigna del Gris ($102, 93 points) The vines that produce Vigna del Gris sit on the same ridge as those of Sorì Ginestra, but the slope turns slightly to the east and the soil is sandier, giving an exuberant wine with more immediate appeal than its sibling. While it, too, needs time to soften, it’s aromatic right out of the bottle, with scents of mint, bay leaf, rose petals, tobacco and licorice adding complexity to the wine’s fresh red-berry flavors.
2016 Greco di Tufo Nova Serra ($25, 90 points) A number of years ago, Mastroberardino and his team noticed their greco wines were becoming less aromatic. The berries had grown larger, tightening the bunches and increasing the risk of rot. The team undertook a study to identify the original, more aromatic clone, and in 2004 began replanting the greco vineyards with this clone. The 2016 Nova Serra shows the payoff, offering scents of crisp apple and green almond, and lively citrus flavors that pulse with salinity.
2013 Barolo Mosconi Vigna Ped ($105, 93 points) Conterno Fantino’s Mosconi plots are on a south-facing slope that runs parallel to Sorì Ginestra. It’s less than a mile farther south but 300 feet higher in elevation, with manganeserich soils that give a dense and brooding Barolo, its vibrant red-berry flavors hemmed in by muscular tannins. The most reticent of Conterno Fantino’s bottlings, it needs at least five years in the cellar to reveal its full potential.
Founded: 1878 • Winemaker: Massimo Di Renzo • Viticulturist: Antonio Dente • Owner: Piero Mastroberardino • Acres owned: 600 Annual production: 150,000 cases • Estate grown: 80% • Importer: Leonardo LoCascio Selections/The Winebow Group, NY
Founded: 1982 • Winemakers: Guido & Fabio Fantino • Viticulturist: Claudio Conterno • Owners: Claudio Conterno, Guido Fantino • Acres owned: 64 Annual production: 11,500 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importer: Empson USA, Alexandria, VA WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Elvio Cogno PIEDMONT
Novello flies under the radar compared to some of Barolo’s more famous communes like Serralunga, La Morra and Castiglione Falletto, but Valter Fissore is changing that.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Valter Fissore takes an unusual approach in a region where many producers showcase terroir variations by bottling wines from several crus: He makes all three of his Barolos with fruit from the Ravera cru, considered Novello’s best, and uses the differences in vine age, exposure and clonal selection to show how one cru can produce highly distinctive wines. Most of the estate’s vineyards lie within sight of the Cogno farmhouse atop the Ravera cru, allowing Fissore to closely monitor every vine during growing seasons as different as the three represented in this year’s tastings. Fissore just completed a 2,700-squarefoot addition to his cellar that gives him more flexibility to bottle and release wines when they’re ready. It’s just one of the many adjustments Fissore is always making to boost the quality of his wines, pushing Novello’s profile ever higher. —S.J. 2012 Barolo Ravera Bricco Pernice ($122, 95 points) Bricco Pernice is a twoacre plot in the warmest section of the Ravera cru, its vines protected by a high hill that blocks cold winds sweeping up from the mountains to the south. In vintages
with cool springs, like 2012, this protection helped deliver a wine that feels ripe and balanced. The vines, 30 and 50 years old and all Lampia clone, are rooted in compact clay-and-limestone soils that build wines with rigid tannins. Those tannins gradually recede, revealing notes of licorice, sage and mint that frame the wine’s vivid cherry and plum flavors. 2013 Barolo Ravera ($82, 94 points) Fissore counts 2013 as one of the longest growing seasons in memory, with hot, dry days and cool nights that yielded a wine with mouthwatering acidity and fresh cherry flavors tinged with blood orange, licorice and mint. The tannins are finely polished, yet powerful enough to remind you this is Barolo. 2011 Barolo Ravera Vigna Elena ($128, 93 points) In 1991, Fissore planted his 2.5-acre Vigna Elena plot to nebbiolo rosé, once thought to be a clone of nebbiolo but now considered a closely related though genetically distinct variety. Many producers abandoned the variety because it gives wines with less color and structure than nebbiolo, but Fissore’s embrace of nebbiolo rosé pays off in warm vintages like 2011, when Vigna Elena exhibits its signature rose-petal scents while gaining deep layers of licorice and spice. The tannins are gentle and sweet, offering plenty of immediate appeal.
From top right: 2012 Barolo Ravera Bricco Pernice; Elena Fissore, Nadia Cogno & Valter Fissore; Elvio Cogno winery and vineyards in Novello's Ravera cru
Founded: 1990 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Valter Fissore • Owners: Nadia Cogno, Valter Fissore • Acres owned: 27.18 • Annual production: 7,000 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importer: Wilson Daniels, St. Helena, CA 66
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
A historic winegrowing family of La Morra, Oddero makes longlived wines from some of Barolo’s most celebrated crus. The Oddero family traces its winemaking history back to the 18th century. The family began selling bottled wines in 1878 and were exporting to America by the end of that century. Giacomo Oddero modernized the winery after World War II and expanded the family’s vineyard holdings beyond La Morra to include choice nebbiolo plots in Castiglione Falletto, Monforte d’Alba and Serralunga d’Alba. Giacomo’s daughter, Mariacristina, entered the family business in 1997 and began steering it toward organic farming practices in 2008, a challenging task, since the family’s holdings consist of small plots spread across the Langhe hills and beyond. Her niece Isabella and son Pietro have since joined her in managing the business. Winemaking is traditional, with macerations of about three weeks followed by aging in large oak casks. While the family’s cellar remains in La Morra, it was Oddero’s wines from other communes that excelled in our tastings this year. —S.J.
2006 Barolo Riserva Vigna Rionda ($170, 95 points) The Odderos bought this two-acre plot in the heart of the Serralunga commune in 1985. In a commune famous for its austere, rigidly tannic Barolos, wines from Vigna Rionda are among the most severe and unyielding. That’s what led the Oddero family in 2006 to extend the aging regimen on their Vigna Rionda to ten years, four in large casks and six in bottle. At 12 years old, the wine shows a delicate power and precision, retaining some fresh fruit to balance the mature notes of truffles and dried red berries, but the still-firm tannins suggest the wine has yet to reach its peak. 2013 Barolo Rocche di Castiglione ($78, 93 points) Rocche di Castiglione is a steeply sloped, narrow cru that runs along the southern edge of the Castiglione Falletto commune. A small section crosses over into Monforte d’Alba, where Oddero’s 80-year-old vines cling to the south-southeast-facing slope in loose, nutrient-poor soils. In 2013, the parcel yielded an elegant, mineral-laden wine so energetic that it feels spring-loaded, bursting with juicy cherry and fresh plum laced with notes of licorice and mint. 2013 Barolo Villero ($69, 91 points) Castiglione Falletto’s Villero cru is adjacent to Rocche di Castiglione, with soils that are more compact, rich in clay and limestone. Coiled and tense initially, gripped by ferrous tannins, the 2013 opens after a few hours in the glass, becoming juicy and dark-fruited, with fresh notes of menthol and subtle spice.
Founded: 1878 • Winemakers: Mariacristina Oddero, Luca Veglio Viticulturist: Mariacristina Oddero • Owners: Mariacristina & Isabella Oddero Acres owned: 86.49 • Annual production: 13,000 cases • Estate grown: 100% • Importer: SoilAir Selection, NY
As a young man, Luciano Sandrone worked in the cellars of producers such as Borgogno and Marchesi di Barolo, scraping together enough money to purchase a small plot of vines in the Cannubi Boschis cru. He vinified his first 1,500 bottles in his parents’ garage in 1978, and continued working from home until 1999, when he finished constructing his own cellar at the foot of the steep Cannubi hillside. Sandrone makes five wines, Luciano Sandrone three of them based exclusively on nebbiolo. Barolo Le Vigne debuted in 1990, blending fruit from several communes. Sandrone added a Nebbiolo d’Alba to his lineup in 1994, with fruit from the steep, sandy Valmaggiore slope in Roero. And his single-cru Barolo from Cannubi Boschis he renamed Aleste in 2013 as a tribute to his grandchildren, Alessia and Stefano. All three wines are the product of meticulously maintained vines pruned to low yields, their fruit spontaneously fermented in temperature-controlled tanks and aged in 500-liter barrels. Sandrone’s approach reflects his experience over four decades, combining methods considered both modern and traditional, to produce wines that are enticing in their youth, yet capable of aging gracefully for decades. —S.J.
2013 Barolo Aleste Cannubi Boschis ($170, 97 points) The end of the 2013 growing season saw warm days and cool evenings that preserved freshness and heightened aromas in the grapes; in fact, half the pleasure of Aleste derives from the wine’s scents of lavender, violet and anise. Its strikingly pure flavors of ripe red berries and thick-skinned plums are dappled with notes of thyme, sage and fennel, the flavors woven together in a velvety texture. 2013 Barolo Le Vigne ($155, 95 points) A blend of fruit from crus in Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto, Barolo and Novello, this feels vibrant and fresh, with red fruit shining through its luxurious texture. Notes of vanilla and spice lend richness, even as the wine’s cool, mineral tannins keep the structure taut and precise. 2015 Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore ($55, 92 points) The sandy soils of Sandrone’s Valmaggiore vineyard yielded a floral and fruity 2015. Its scents of rose and cherry blossoms lead to red-berry flavors with mouthwatering acidity, while fine tannins zip up the fruit in a firm, juicy package. It has the structure to age, yet the energetic fruit flavors are nearly irresistible now.
Founded: 1978 • Owner/winemaker: Luciano Sandrone Viticulturist: Luca Sandrone • Acres owned: 67 • Annual production: N/A Estate grown: 100% Importer: Vintus, Pleasantville, NY WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Luciano Sandrone’s vibrant, layered Barolos transcend categories of “modern” or “traditional.”
Marchesi Antinori TUSCANY
A benchmark in quality Tuscan wine for 26 generations, Marchesi Antinori maintains its edge under the leadership of sisters Albiera, Allegra and Alessia Antinori.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
With old albarello-trained vines, organic farming methods and a devotion to Sicily’s flagship red variety, Gulfi shows nero d’Avola’s ability to produce nuanced wines. Vito Catania returned to his family farm in 1996 and began buying old-vine nero d’Avola plots in Val di Noto, Sicily’s torrid southeastern corner, where the vineyards lie a stone’s throw from the sea. His son, Matteo, now runs the winery, farming the densely planted vines without chemicals or irrigation, and working with Sicilian oenologist Salvo Foti to vinify fruit from each plot separately, spotlighting terroir differences by fermenting and aging them all the same way (20 percent whole-cluster fermentation and two years in used barrels). Nerobaronj, Neromaccari, Nerobufaleffj and Nerosanloré are dense and savory wines, each distinctive in its vineyard expression, and they’re completely different from the floral, red-fruited Rossojbleo and Nerojbleo, the nero d’Avola bottlings that Gulfi produces from grapes grown in the cooler foothills of the Iblei mountains. If you’ve never been excited by nero d’Avola, this range of wines might change your mind. —S.J.
2011 Sicilia Nerobufaleffj ($70, 95 points) Gulfi’s most prized Noto vineyards are in Pachino, a township that lies so far south that it sits slightly below Tunis in latitude. One of those plots is Nerobufaleffj, where 35-year-old vines grow in a mix of black clay, red sand and white limestone soils. It’s a wine with brilliant tension, its bright salinity balancing dense flavors of black plum and braised mushroom. 2011 Sicilia Nerosanloré ($70, 94 points) Nerosanloré is another plot in Pachino that lies a mere half-mile from the sea, where daytime and evening temperatures hardly vary. The 40-year-old vines are rooted in reddish-brown sand and clay soils, their fruit yielding a brooding wine. It’s saturated with black olive tones and gritty salinity, all of it brightened by mouthwatering acidity. The contrast is extreme, yet it works.
When Marchese Piero Antinori took the helm of the family business in 1966, over half the family’s production was in the strawcovered bottles called fiaschi. He turned the Renzo Cotarella focus from quantity to quality, adopting technology and methods that were innovative and, at times, revolutionary. The company now produces wine in five of Italy’s provinces and on three continents, but the soul of Marchesi Antinori remains in Tuscany, the family’s ancestral home and the site of its largest vineyard holdings. The top three wines in this year’s tastings were trailblazers when they debuted decades ago; their extraordinary performances, even in highly challenging growing seasons, are an indication that Antinori’s twentysixth generation has no intention of slowing down. —S.J. 2014 Toscana Tignanello ($110, 93 points) Antinori launched the Super-Tuscan category with the release of Tignanello in 1971. Produced at the family’s estate in Chianti Classico, it became the first barrique-aged sangiovese, and the first to be blended with non-native varieties (cabernets sauvignon and franc). The 2014, from a cool and rainy growing season, is a relatively light and gentle vintage, its flavors of red cherries and summer strawberries enlivened by notes of mint and sage.
2014 Toscana Solaia ($325, 94 points) Solaia’s birth in 1978 was the result of an overabundant cabernet sauvignon harvest at the Tignanello estate. Antinori decided to vinify the cabernet separately, blending in 20 percent cabernet franc. In 1982, he began adding sangiovese to increase the wine’s Tuscan imprint. Solaia delivers impressive concentration in the rain-soaked 2014 vintage, offering lively black-currant flavors laced with tobacco and subtle spice. Vibrant acidity gives the wine a cool, nervy edge that will keep it fresh for many years to come.
2013 Sicilia Nerojbleo ($25, 94 points) Nerojbleo is from Gulfi’s home province of Ragusa, about 50 miles northeast of Noto. The vines sit more than 1,300 feet up the slopes of the Iblei mountains, where cooler evening temperatures bring buoyant acidity to the wine. This 2013 has vibrant flavors of fresh plums and pink peppercorns that register an octave higher than those of its Pachino cousins. It’s almost hard to believe they’re made from the same variety.
2015 Umbria Castello della Sala Cervaro della Sala ($55, 91 points) Chief oenologist and CEO Renzo Cotarella began his winemaking career at Antinori’s Castello della Sala estate in Umbria, participating in the initial plantings of chardonnay before becoming the winemaker there in 1981. He made the first vintage of Cervaro della Sala in 1985; it was one of the first Italian white wines to undergo malolactic conversion and fermentation in barriques. The wine includes about ten percent grechetto, a traditional Umbrian variety; here, the grechetto is fermented in stainless steel to add lively acidity and bright citrus notes to the chardonnay’s rich tones of vanilla and toasted hazelnuts.
Founded: 1996 • Owner: Matteo Catania • Winemaker: Salvo Foti • Viticulturist: Pierre-Marie Guillaume • Acres owned: 173 • Annual production: 21,000 cases • Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Selected Estates of Europe, Mamaroneck, NY
Founded: 1385 • Chief Oenologist: Renzo Cotarella Owners: Marchese Piero Antinori; daughters Albiera, Allegra & Alessia Antinori Acres owned: 3,808 in Tuscany and Umbria • Annual production: 858,000 cases (Tuscany and Umbria) • Estate grown: 100% (excluding Santa Cristina) Importer: Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Woodinville, WA
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Tenuta di Biserno
Poggio di Sotto
Lodovico Antinori, brother of Marchese Piero Antinori, has discovered an ideal home for cabernet franc in Bibbona.
Low yields and traditional winemaking keep Poggio di Sotto on an upward trajectory.
2013 Toscana Lodovico ($423, 97 points) The Bellaria vineyard straddles the border between Bolgheri and the Bibbona hills, with the northern exposure lying on the Biserno estate. In favorable vintages, the vines from this 15-acre plot produce Lodovico, the estate’s top wine. The long, moderate 2013 growing season yielded an intensely concentrated wine with flavors of brambly blue fruit and molten chocolate that ride on a wave of vibrant acidity. Ten percent petit verdot boosts the wine’s powerful tannins and adds scents of sage and rosemary. It’s a broad-shouldered wine clad in a sable cape, requiring several days of air to unfurl and offering plenty of cellaring potential. 2013 Toscana Biserno ($177, 95 points) Biserno includes merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot, but cabernet franc takes center stage in the wine’s flavors of dark berries and leafy tobacco. Eighteen months in new French oak barriques has rounded the wine’s firm tannins while adding notes of sweet spice. 2015 Toscana Il Pino di Biserno ($74, 94 points) Il Pino is exuberant in the warm 2015 vintage, bursting with flavors of black raspberry and wild plum. A blend of cabernet franc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot culled from the estate’s younger vines, it spends a year in a mix of new and second-use French oak barrels, gaining notes of cedar, cigar box and vanilla that intensify the wine’s plush character. Supple tannins make it accessible now, but it’s capable of improving over the next several years.
Founded: 2001 • Owner: Marchese Lodovico Antinori Winemaker: Helena Lindberg • Viticulturist: Ranieri Orsini Acres owned: 99 • Annual production: 9,000 cases Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Kobrand, Purchase, NY
Piero Palmucci spent time in Montalcino as a young boy, and returned many years later, after running a shipping company, to establish his own winery. He spent years Luca Marrone researching the best soils and microclimates, and eventually chose a hilltop site near Castelnuovo dell’Abate with a view of the Orcia River valley and Monte Amiata. He collaborated with Attilio Scienza, the esteemed viticulture professor from Milan, to analyze the estate’s soils and select the best clones for each plot, planting only sangiovese grosso. With organic farming, rigorous pruning and strict grape selection, Palmucci grew top-quality fruit while limiting production to less than 3,000 cases a year. His traditional cellar regimen of extended macerations, fermentations with ambient yeasts and long aging in large Slavonian botti produced structured, elegant Brunellos that gained a fervent following. Claudio Tipa, of Grattamacco in Bolgheri, was among those fans; he bought Poggio di Sotto in 2011 and continues on the path set by Palmucci.—S.J.
2010 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva ($539, 96 points) Poggio di Sotto produces a riserva only in exceptional vintages, like 2010, a long and moderate growing season. The fruit comes from slopes that rise up to 1,300 feet in altitude—cool heights that help preserve acidity and the grape’s perfumed aromas. Aged for five years in large Slavonian casks, the wine needs air to get past its initial volatility before revealing a dense core of black-cherry fruit infused with fresh herbs and spices. The wine turns savory as it evolves in the glass, picking up notes of smoked meat and fire-roasted tomatoes, even as saline acidity freshens the finish. Built for the long haul, it should rest at least five years in the cellar. 2011 Brunello di Montalcino ($280, 95 points) This wine shows remarkable freshness and aromatic detail for the warm 2011 vintage, with cherry-blossom scents that give way to crystalline red-berry flavors in a plush texture. Notes of cherry tomato and freshly tilled earth emerge, propelled by energetic acidity. For a wine that’s capable of improving for many years, it is surprisingly delicious today. 2014 Rosso di Montalcino ($115, 91 points) Poggio di Sotto responded to a cool and rainy 2014 season with a rigorous selection at harvest. After the wine had rested for two years in cask, they decided to make just 4,000 bottles of Brunello and no Riserva. The rest of the vintage became this exceptional Rosso. With time in the glass, it reveals lavender scents and flavors of cherry and raspberry edged in subtle spice. Firm tannins hold the fruit in a tight embrace that calls for decanting.
Founded: 1989 • Winemaker: Luca Marrone • Viticulturist: Giuliano Guerrini Owners: Claudio Tipa and Maria Iris Bertarelli • Acres owned: 39.5 Annual production: 2,900 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importer: Leonardo LoCascio Selections/The Winebow Group, NY WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Over a span of nearly two decades, Lodovico Antinori built a reputation for growing fine wines in Bolgheri based on cabernet sauvignon (Ornellaia) and merlot (Masseto). Helena Lindberg After selling his interest in Ornellaia in 2000, Antinori started a new project in the hills of Bibbona, just north of Bolgheri, where stone-studded soils and cooling breezes from the sea offer an idyllic microclimate for cabernet franc. Antinori began planting the variety in 2001, supplementing with plots of petit verdot, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Winemaker Helena Lindberg, who worked in Australia and Bordeaux before moving to Tuscany in 2004, produces three wines at Tenuta di Biserno, all based on cabernet franc. The wines, which were excellent out of the gate, gain in depth and balance each year as the vines mature. This year’s releases are the best we’ve tasted yet. —S.J.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Rocca di Montegrossi TUSCANY
A descendant of one of Tuscany’s most famous families crafts elegant, ageworthy wines in Gaiole in Chianti producers.
Le Ragnaie TUSCANY
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Riccardo Campinoti has become one of the top traditional Brunello di Montalcino producers. Riccardo Campinoti and his wife bought a farmhouse and vineyards a couple of miles south of the Montalcino town center in 2002. They have since expanded their holdings to include plots in two other areas of the Montalcino zone, with varying soils, expositions and microclimates that allow him to make three distinct Brunellos. He works traditionally in the cellar, fermenting the wines in cement and aging them for three years in large Slavonian oak casks, allowing the vineyard characteristics of each wine to take center stage. The 2013 growing season in Montalcino was long and slow, with a cool and wet spring followed by sunny and windy days near harvest time. Campinoti made the most of the temperate conditions to produce Brunellos that emphasize finesse and fragrance, earning Le Ragnaie its fourth Top 100 appearance in the last five years. —S.J.
2013 Brunello di Montalcino Ragnaie V.V. ($165, 94 points) At 1,960 feet of elevation, Vecchie Vigne is one of the highest sites in Montalcino. It lies directly below Campinoti’s farmhouse, in Montalcino’s central sector, where the 45-yearold vines are rooted in sandy, limestone-rich soils. In 2013, Campinoti left the juice on the skins for a full 40 days, giving the wine time to gather concentrated flavors of dark cherry and plum accented with notes of anise, fennel seed and mint. Brisk acidity will keep those flavors fresh over the next decade as the wine’s powerful tannins soften. 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Fornace ($165, 93 points) Fornace comes from Castelnuovo dell’Abate, in the south of Montalcino, where the soils—heavy clay dotted with river stones—give a powerful wine. Notes of oregano, basil and plum tomato lend it a Tuscan flair, while the tightly knit structure and vibrant acidity keep the cherry fruit brisk and balanced.
Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi traces his family’s Tuscan roots back to the 12th century. The family owned thousands of acres in the Chianti hills by the time his ancestor BarMarco Ricasoli-Firidolfi one Bettino Ricasoli, a two-time prime minister of Italy known as the Iron Baron, created the original “recipe” for modern Chianti Classico wine. Marco Ricasoli began producing wine on his own in 1994 from San Marcellino, a 16-acre vineyard given to him by his mother. He’s since gradually increased his holdings, at times carving plots out of land that others considered too rocky for cultivation. He works organically, always seeming to emerge with balanced, elegant wines whatever the conditions. That includes Geremia, which stood out in this year’s tastings as the most complete and potentially longlived red in his lineup.—S.J.
2013 Toscana Geremia ($55, 96 points) A growing season that Ricasoli calls the most challenging of his life produced a stunningly beautiful 2013 Geremia, Ricasoli’s only wine from international varieties. A cool, rainy spring decreased quantity, and the estate’s merlot ripened several weeks later than usual. But the thick skins it developed endowed the blend (70 percent merlot and 30 percent cabernet sauvignon) with vibrant blackberry flavors and complex aromas of fresh thyme and crushed violets. A streak of graphite gives the flavors a mineral charge that speaks more clearly of Gaiole’s rocky hillsides than of the grape varieties. 2012 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vigneto San Marcellino ($55, 92 points) Ricasoli and his team worked feverishly in the vineyards during a hot, dry summer to protect the grapes on the 50-year-old vines from sunburn. Then lateseason rains forced them to harvest in four passes to clean up any bunches showing mold while leaving the healthy fruit on the vine to ripen fully. With five percent of pugnitello to deepen the color and firm up the structure, the wine is dense and meaty. Notes of vanilla and sandalwood, picked up during two years of aging in medium-toasted Allier barriques, enhance the wine’s dark cherry flavors.
2013 Brunello di Montalcino ($90, 93 points) The majority of this blend comes from high-elevation plots at the Ragnaie estate, with about one-third from the warmer and heavier soils in the southern sector and ten percent from Petroso, a small plot with schist and sandstone soils near the town of Montalcino. Simultaneously cool and lush, with bright cherry flavors and mineral tannins, it offers the most immediate appeal of Campinoti’s three outstanding 2013 releases.
2015 Chianti Classico ($30, 90 points) Ricasoli sweated out a torrid summer in 2015, then made the most of some well-timed rains and cooler nights near harvest time to turn out a wine with surprising freshness for the vintage. It shows the season’s ample ripeness in its lush black-cherry and plum flavors, yet frames them in firm, mineral tannins. Delicious straight out of the bottle, the wine improves with time in the glass, picking up notes of lavender and oregano, and it will be even better with a year more in bottle.
Founded: 1991 • Winemaker: Riccardo Campinoti • Viticulturist: Ottavino Temperini • Owners: Riccardo & Jenny Campinoti • Acres owned: 33.4 • Annual production: 7,500 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importer: Vine Street Imports, Philadelphia, PA
Founded: 1994 • Winemaker: Attilio Pagli • Viticulturists: Stefano Dini, Dario Ceccatelli • Owner: Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi • Acres owned: 49 • Annual production: • 8,333 cases • Estate grown: 100% • Importer: North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, CA; Skurnik Wines, NY
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Casa da Passarella
Fulvio Scamperle makes some of Valpolicella’s best traditional wines.
Paulo Nunes farms ancient, high-altitude vines in Dão, making wines that are racy, mineral driven and fresh.
After splitting Fratelli Scamperle with his brother in 1982, Fulvio Scamperle renamed his winery after Madonna delle Salette, the 19thcentury church that Franco Scamperle stands guard over his vineyards above the town of Fumane. Scamperle suffered a debilitating accident that same year while pressing grapes and passed control of the business to his son Franco, who still runs it today with his children Cesare and Giulia. They work exclusively with native varieties like corvina, corvinone, rondinella, molinara and oseleta, the traditional grapes for Amarone della Valpolicella. In the cellar, Franco respects traditional practices, fermenting with ambient yeasts and aging the wines primarily in large Slavonian casks. Even so, he’s open to experimentation, as indicated by the two amphorae in his cellar that hold the 2015 Recioto, a sweet red wine made from those same native varieties. Scamperle’s Amarones are rich and powerful yet fully dry, with balancing minerality and freshness. While you might think of Amarone as a dessert wine, these make a great fit with dinner, especially with something equally rich, like braised short ribs. —S.J.
Joaquim Oliveira Santos Lima made a fortune in coffee in Brazil, returning home to Portugal to build a grand Brazilian manor and plant a vast vineyard in the hills of Dão. More than a Paolo Nunes century later, in 2007, after Ricardo Cabral picked a winning lottery ticket, he used his new millions to restore the estate at the foot of the Serra da Estrella where his grandfather had once worked. He rebuilt the winery and brought in Paulo Nunes to renovate the vineyard, an amphitheater rising in elevation from 2,000 to 2,600 feet, where many of the vines were rooted for close to a century. He has identified 24 local varieties among them, and is working on selections to recreate the field blend in new plantings. In the cellar, Nunes works with concrete fermentation vats and large-format casks, traditional tools that allow the high-altitude vineyards and ancient vines to show their fruit in complex ways. —J.G.
2013 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ($71, 94 points) When the Scamperles harvest grapes for their Amarone wines, they take them directly to the family’s fruttaio, in the hills above Fumane. The building’s large windows are open to the cool fall breezes, encouraging the grapes to slowly give up their juice until they’ve lost more than 60 percent of their mass. This bottling combines fruit from several vineyards into a wine with flavors of black plum, licorice and dark chocolate that ride on velvety tannins, the finish freshened by hints of soft green herbs and salty minerality. 2013 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico La Marega ($90, 92 points) Scamperle grows the fruit for this wine at Conca d’Oro, a stony hilltop vineyard in Sant’Ambrogio where the southwest-facing vines get plenty of sunshine and ventilation. He mixes some American oak casks into the aging regimen, adding notes of vanilla and cardamom to the wine’s flavors of baked cherry and plum. 2015 Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore I Progni ($36, 90 points) Valpolicella Ripasso is typically produced by adding the leftover skins from fermented Amarone to a dry Valpolicella wine to kick off a second fermentation, which adds alcohol and body to the finished wine. Scamperle uses the skins from his sweet Recioto instead, fermenting the wine dry while giving his Ripasso a spicy richness that complements its vibrant cherry flavors. Founded: 1840 • Owner/winemaker/viticulturist: Franco Scamperle Acres owned: 50 • Annual production: 24,000 cases Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Vias Imports, NY
2013 Dão Enxertia Jaen ($35, 93 points) Each year, Nunes selects the bestperforming variety at Passarella to bottle on its own as Enxertia. In 2013, the stand-out variety was jaen, which he let spontaneously ferment in cement vats, then aged in barrels, creating a wine with an electric pink edge to the color and mineral energy in the glass. There’s density to the tannins and luscious, earthy fruit, but the youthful power and spicy cut makes the wine feel racy. 2013 Dão O Fugitivo Vinhas Centenárias ($50, 92 points) The ancient mixed planting at Passarella includes baga, touriga nacional, alvarelhão, tinta pinheira, jaen, alfrocheiro and tinta carvalha…grapes that may not mean much to most American wine drinkers, but they form the genetic inheritance of this mountainous region of Portugal. Nunes ferments this field blend in traditional stone troughs, and ages it in large oak barrels, creating a bright, crunchy red-fruited wine, delicate and fragrant, with some vegetal notes in the tannins adding depth and complexity. 2014 Dão Villa Oliveira Encruzado ($60, 92 points) Selected from 40-year-old vines, this encruzado starts its fermentation in cement vats, then finishes fermenting in oak barrels. There’s a lot going on in the glass: The butterscotch and smoky elements of oak, the unctuous richness of the grape, the fragrant scent of jasmine and the spicy prickle of acidity slowly come together with air, merging into a racy white with brothy notes of oyster shells, crème fraîche and toast. For the cellar. Founded: 1892 • Winemaker: Paulo Nunes Viticulturists: Paolo Nunes, Ana Júlia Pereira • Owner: Ricardo Cabral Acres owned: 148 • Annual production: 35,000 cases Estate grown: 100% • Importer: M Imports, Fairfield, CT WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
ITALY | PORTUGAL
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Wine & Soul
Kopke, a Tawny specialist, offers a collection of rare and remarkably fresh Colheita Ports.
The power couple of Douro winegrowing farms oldvines in the hills above Pinhão, yielding powerfully complex reds.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
There was a time when Tawny Port was a sleepy category, the province of Portuguese winemakers in the Douro who kept a few barrels of wine aging in their cellars Carlos Alves and left Vintage to the British. Over the centuries, it was the Dutch and German trading families who often got into the Tawny game; Cristiano Kopke, son of the Consul of the Hanseatic League in Lisbon, set up shop in Oporto as a merchant in 1638. His descendants settled at the Quinta de Roriz, eventually leaving it, through marriage, to the van Zellers, a Dutch trading family that would also make its mark on the Douro. Today, the Kopke name stands over the Quinta São Luiz in Cima Corgo and the lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia, where the Kopkes built their stocks of colheita, or single-harvest Tawnies over time. Sogevinus, a winery group formed in 1998 (now part of Banesco, a bank owned by Venezuela’s Juan Carlos Escotet), saw the value in Kopke’s old Tawny stocks, as the export market for fine, aged Tawny began to eclipse that of Vintage wines in the new millennium. The group purchased Kopke, along with Burmester and Barros, two other Tawny specialists, and began to release some remarkable ancient colheitas. The careful tending of Kopke’s colheita stocks has paid off with a range of rarities, from a silken, almond-scented 40-year-old White Port to birth-year Colheitas that would make a memorable gift for a wine lover. —J.G.
Jorge Serôdio Borges worked for a number of years as the winemaker for Niepoort; Tavares has made the wines for Cristiano van Zeller at Vale D. Maria and at her famSandra Tavares da Silva ily’s estate north of & Jorge Serôdio Borges Lisbon, Chocapalha. At their own Douro project, the couple now makes three old-vine field blends of red grapes, including Pintas, Pintas Character and Quinta do Manoella VV, plus Guru, an old-vine blend of whites. Their wines are potently extracted and require long aging to mellow—especially Pintas, from an 85-year-old mixed planting in the Vale Mendiz. And they farm the adjacent vineyard for Pintas Character, working with 45-year-old vines. They ferment these field blends in lagars, the traditional open stone troughs, with foot treading to crush the grapes. Then they age both in oak barrels, 70 percent new barrels for Pintas, 50 percent new for Pintas Character. On release, the less ambitious Pintas Character is more open and giving; it consistently shows at the top of our tastings—and, for a wine that drove home a Top 100 award, it’s a great value. —J.G.
2015 Douro Pintas Character ($30, 93 points) From a field blend of 30 varieties planted in 1970, this gives off the scent of the Douro. The wine is charged with a wild-strawberry perfume, scents of savory herbs and a brisk delicacy that makes all of its power feel nonchalant. Finely detailed and accessible as a young wine, this will age with grace. 1937 Porto Colheita ($885, 96 points) This 1937 seems to grip every taste receptor with succulent peach flavor while its texture is silken and gentle to the touch. You might expect an 80-year-old wine to be as refined as this, but you probably wouldn’t expect it to be as generous, with needles of acidity pricking the cushion of fruit, bringing out a glistening sweetness. 1941 Porto Colheita ($785, 95 points) With 77 years in barrel, this appears to be a sweet old Port with notes of brown sugar, molasses and chocolate. But all that barrel age has left the wine impervious to oxygen. Come back in a few hours and you might find a wine that’s delicious, all that sweetness integrated into savory notes of salted caramels, pecans and spicy red berries. It’s a supple beauty, well worth the wait. 1967 Porto Colheita ($240, 93 points) Were that all 50-year-olds could be as supple as this 1967 Colheita. It’s generously textured when the bottle is first opened, the flavors moving past notes of woodsmoke and the bitterness of raw hazelnuts as the wine refreshes with air, offering notes of fruit that glow pale red and last. It’s like sucking on a stone that slowly yields delicious, juicy flavors. Founded: 1638 • Winemaker: Carlos Alves • Viticulturist: Marcio Nobrega Owner: Sogevinus • Acres owned: 37.5 • Annual production: 142,000 cases Estate grown: 100% (colheita, vintage) Importer: Wine In-Motion USA, Union, NJ 72
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
2015 Douro Pintas ($100, 92 points) There’s a lot going on in the 2015 Pintas, its old-vine concentration amped up by the sweet, chocolatey richness of new oak. Meanwhile, the fruit is tense, floral and complex, a riot of tart black raspberries, crunchy green olives and red licorice, to call out a few of the flavors in this field blend of more than 35 varieties. Brash for now, this lasts in a heady finish, the wine needing ten years in bottle to meld and mellow. 2016 Douro Guru Branco ($40, 92 points) This is a mix of four local white varieties (gouveio, viosinho, rabigato and códega do larinho) planted in the early 1960s. Fermented and aged in French oak barrels, it has picked up the acorn nuttiness of oak as well as flinty notes of reduction, but the fruit is youthful and undeveloped, with a tangerine flavor that feels tied to the acidity. This needs time to develop in bottle, then serve it with thinly sliced jamón Ibérico.
Founded: 2001 • Owners/winemakers/viticulturists: Jorge Serodio Borges & Sandra Tavares da Silva • Acres owned: 54 • Annual production: 7,500 cases Estate grown: 80% • Importer: MundoVino/The Winebow Group, NY
The Blandy family is working to bring a historic, fortified, volcanic wine into the modern day.
A leader in Waldorf education shakes up Vinho Verde with biodynamically farmed loureiro and complex sparkling wines.
Chris Blandy recently arrived in New York with his family’s latest bottlings, a 1957 Bual and a 1968 Sercial. These rare Vintage Madeiras are a glimpse into history. Chris Blandy (right) As fashionable as the and Francisco Albuquerque volcanic island’s wine may have been during the American Revolution, as sturdy as the great vintages of the 19th century might remain today, the one-two punch of phylloxera and Prohibition laid the vineyards low and wiped out the wine’s most important market. Madeira seemed doomed to survive as a relic of the past. A diminished industry came together under the Madeira Wine Company, an assembly of brands headed up today by Chris Blandy, the seventh-generation scion of the firm John Blandy founded in 1811. The renaissance began when Portugal entered the European Union, which imposed regulations on plantings, and has accelerated with the new colheita category of younger, more affordable wines from single harvests. This year, we recommended a range of Blandy’s rare vintage wines, as well as younger colheitas—remarkably delicious wines for historic dinners of the future. —J.G.
Vasco Croft returned to his family’s farm in the hills above Ponte de Lima in 2003, after a chance encounter with a Buddhist monk and a bottle of wine. He’d been living in Vasco Croft Lisbon, running a furniture design studio and establishing a Waldorf curriculum for schools. He brought Steiner’s philosophy to his terraced vineyards, grazing sheep among the vines, establishing 60 beehives on the property and applying homeopathic preparations to strengthen the community of plants, animals and microbes living among the vines. While his wine immediately made waves internationally, this is the first year that so many of his releases have performed so well in our tastings: His farming was a long-term strategy to create wines with as much complex inner life as simple refreshment. And, in 2014, Croft built a new winery, transforming the old one in the basement of his family’s 16th-century house into what he calls a “medieval cellar,” where he makes wines without electricity, using amphorae and artisanal tools. He’s proven that Vinho Verde, best known for its crisp white wines, has the potential to offer much more, including rosé sparkling wine with the deep resonance of the Atlantic coast’s vinhão, or flavorful loureiro, its structure intensified through skin contact. If you love beautifully farmed wines with the cool bloom of coastal ripeness, check out Vasco Croft’s wines. —J.G.
1977 Madeira Rich Malmsey ($315, 98 points) Chris Blandy described the family’s house style as punchy with high acidity and sugar levels. One of our tasters, Jenny Lakin of The Ferris in NYC, described this 1977’s chestnut-honey flavors and mouthwatering lift of freshness as “kind of magic.” It’s one of our Top 100 Wines of 2018, aged within the volcanic stone walls of Blandy’s lodge in Funchal, close to the ocean, where it developed into a silken beauty. 1957 Madeira Medium Rich Bual ($425, 96 points) At 60 years of age, this wine sustains its luscious tenor and deep bass notes with quiet, persistent amplitude. This is glorious, sunny Madeira, its darker tones of fig, date and toffee opening to brighter notes of candied citrus and a springtime meadow of flowers. A wine for contemplation. 2000 Madeira Colheita Single Harvest Verdelho ($75/500ml, 92 points) With the advent of colheitas, shippers can bottle wines from a single harvest after aging them in cask for five to 18 years. This one is close to meeting the 20-year requirement for a Vintage, and it seems completely resistant to age, with a bright, sunny feel to its tangy scents of orange and salt air. It’s warm and round, saturated with flavors of fresh chestnuts and tart pineapple, a compelling match for aged sheep’s milk cheeses.
Founded: 1811 • Winemaker: Francisco Albuquerque Viticulturist: Gonçalo Tito Caldeira • Owner: Chris Blandy Acres owned: 20 • Annual production: 40,000 cases Estate grown: 20% • Importer: Premium Port Wines, San Francisco, CA
2016 Vinho Verde Phaunus Pet-Nat ($24, 93 points) Croft macerates loureiro with its skins, then presses and ferments it in stainless steel before transferring the juice to bottle, where it completes its fermentation. He doesn’t add yeasts or sugar, so nothing holds back this wine’s pure, refreshing pétillance. It’s salty, toasty and rich, with graceful acidity that keeps the wine fresh, complex and satisfying. 2013 Vinho Verde Pan Sparkling Rosé ($20, 92 points) Vinhão, a local red grape, has clear juice, but its skins bleed color so readily that many people think of it as red-fleshed. Croft uses it to create a vinous sparkling wine, mineral driven, savory and light. This has a bloody iron-rose color, predicting the wine’s earthiness, if not the brightness of its fresh cherry flavors. One sip and it’s hard not to think of country pâté, jamón Ibérico, crunchy green olives…
2016 Vinho Verde Loureiro ($16, 92 points) This meaty loureiro gains its texture through maceration on the grape skins before fermentation. The fruit flavors are broad and peachy while the structure is umami, almost tannic, a springtime wine to serve with white sausage and morels. Founded: 2004 • Owner/winemaker: Vasco Croft • Viticulturists: António Garrido; Dominique Massenot, consultant • Acres owned: 44.5 Annual production: 7,000 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importers: Skurnik Wines, NY; WineWise, Oakland, CA WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
In three generations, the Cerdeira family’s property has shifted from mixed agriculture to a tourism destination for tastings of old-vine alvarinho. It started when João CerMaria João & Luís Cerdeira deira returned from his army service in Angola and convinced his father to plant the region’s first alvarinho vines. Monção, just west along the Minho River toward the sea, was already famous for the variety. Melgaço, farther inland, on the far northeastern border of Portugal, was less populated but its granite hillsides received their share of the ocean winds carried upstream. Cerdeira released his first wine in 1982 and called it “suntrap” (Soalheiro), after the name of the family farm. Today, his son, Luís, and daughter, Maria João, bottle 11 variations on alvarinho, including Primeiras Vinhas, from the original parcel of vines João planted in 1974. Their 25 acres of vines have been certified organic since 2011, and they have partnered with local growers to farm 100 acres in the neighboring hills. Their top selections age gracefully for a decade or more, evolving from fresh and tense to pale, subtle evocations of the Atlantic coast. —J.G.
2016 Vinho Verde Primeiras Vinhas Alvarinho ($29, 93 points) Luís Cerdeira starts most of his alvarinhos the same way: with no skin contact, allowing the juice to settle for a day, filtering the turbid portion of the must, then adding some of it back to the clear juice. He applies a little sulfur “to make a natural selection of the yeasts,” he says, then allows the fermentation to start on its own. Most of the fruit for Primeiras Vinhas ferments in stainless steel, with 15 percent of the blend in neutral oak barrels. Its notes of crisp pear and fresh, toasty lees create a vivid sensation, summery, oceanic and fresh. The concentration and intensity of the flavor suggest it has a long life ahead. 2016 Vinho Verde Quinta de Soalheiro Reserva Alvarinho ($56, 92 points) From estate vines, this wine fermented and aged in French oak, giving the brisk notes of orange zest and ripe cantaloupe a rich, cedary warmth and buttery scents. This will benefit from cellar time; then serve with charcuterie.
French émigré Jean-Michel Morel has adopted traditional Slovenian practices to make some of Brda’s most compelling wines. Jean-Michel Morel started making wine at his wife’s family farm in 1993, around the time that Slovenia was transitioning to an independent country and opening up Jean-Michel Morel to Western markets. He has increased his holdings to include seven plots, and works toward organic farming, using treatments only when absolutely necessary. He reasons, “I try to avoid medicines, but if I am really sick, I take them. The same is true for my vineyards.” Morel found he enjoyed drinking some of the “orange wines” of Josko Gravner, just across the border in Collio, where Gravner had resurrected the region’s tradition of fermenting white wines on the skins. Morel began experimenting with skin-contact wines, and by 2005 he was producing all of his whites this way. His goal was not to make extreme wine, but serious wine with structure, expression and longevity. He achieves this and more with a set of beautifully textured wines that pulse with energy and pure fruit flavors. —S.J.
2015 Goriska Brda Ravan ($25, 93 points) Morel’s friulano from the 2015 vintage showcases his deft touch with skin-macerated whites. It reveals a dazzling spectrum of flavors like mandarin orange, honeydew melon and pine nuts. Morel built the wine’s creamy texture through skin contact, so it feels lightly chewy but not overtly tannic. “When you take a bottle of wine in the vineyard, you should be able to taste the grape and then the wine and find the same flavors,” he says. 2015 Goriska Brda Sauvignon ($27, 92 points) Morel varies his maceration process based on variety and vintage conditions, but he leaves most of his whites on the skins for about two weeks, undergoing spontaneous fermentation and full malolactic conversion, then rests them one year in French oak barriques, with a small percentage of new wood. His sauvignon picks up plenty of aromas and flavors with just one week on the skins, smelling of dried thyme and pine fronds, lime and kiwi. Racy acidity courses through the wine, inducing a craving for sashimi or seared mackerel.
2016 Vinho Verde Terramatter Alvarinho ($29, 91 points) Cerdeira recently released an alvarinho with no sulfur additions, Nature Pur Terroir; Terramatter includes one lot produced without any sulfur, blended with another allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation in chestnut casks. It needs time in a decanter for its scents of toast, green olives and chalk to integrate; with air, it turns silky and clean, the chalkiness a grace note to the wine’s richness.
2010 Goriska Brda Cuvée Morel ($46, 92 points) Brda is predominantly whitewine territory, and more than two-thirds of Morel’s vineyards are planted to white varieties. He makes just two red wines, including this earthy blend of 60 percent merlot, with petit verdot and cabernets franc and sauvignon. The blend harkens back to Morel’s early winemaking experiences in Bordeaux, and the wine has a distinctly Old World feel, with notes of cool moss and soft tobacco accenting its red currant flavors.
Founded: 1982 • Winemaker: Luís Cerdeira • Viticulturist: Maria João Cerdeira • Owner: The Cerderia family • Acres owned: 25 • Annual production: 25,000 cases • Estate grown: 25% • Importer: Wine In-Motion USA, Union, NJ
Founded: 1993 • Winemaker: Jean-Michel Morel • Viticulturists: Jean-Michel Morel, Hermann Kabaj • Owners: Katja Kabaj, Jean-Michel Morel Acres owned: 30 • Annual production: 7,000 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importer: Black Lamb Wine, Oakland, CA
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
photo of Jean-Michel Morel by Holley Robbins
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
PORTUGAL | SLOVENIA
Luís and Maria João Cerdeira capture deep, earthy freshness in their alvarinhos, consistently among the best white wines in Portugal.
CASTILLA Y LEON: RIBERA DEL DUERO The grand cru of Ribera del Duero is at the top of its game.
2013 Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5˚ ($215, 95 points) Traditionally, Valbuena was a blend of tempranillo with malbec and merlot. Pablo Alvarez says that it is now just tempranillo and merlot, or tempranillo on its own. This 2013 is 95 percent tempranillo, five percent merlot, aged five years, first in wood, then in bottle. It’s ripe, intense and expansive, yet what sets it apart are the details in the flavor, with an emphasis on Mediterranean spice and fresh blackberries.
2006 Ribera del Duero Unico ($571, 97 points) The Unico vineyards face north, toward the Duero, the old vines rooted in limestone. Mostly tempranillo, the vineyard includes some cabernet sauvignon, which provides six percent of this blend. The vines, exposition and soil all contribute to the persistent tension of the tannins in this Spanish classic, yielding notes of Indian spices and earth. There are also vibrant flavors of fresh blackberries and red raspberries, but they are mostly hidden for now, needing more time in the cellar, or decanting, to emerge. Ribera del Duero Unico Reserva Especial ($700, 94 points) This release is a blend of 58 barrels, the best lots of Unico from 2005, 2006 and 2007. Packed with earthy notes and exotic spice, it’s a profound wine, needing time in the glass to open. Although the aroma already shows some evolution, the structure remains youthful, with firm tannins that resist the corpulent weight of its fruit. Founded: 1864 • Winemaker: Gonzalo Iturriaga Viticulturist: Enrique Macias • Owner: The Alvarez family Acres owned: 370 planted • Annual production: 26,250 cases Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Eurpovin USA, Van Nuys, CA
CASTILLA Y LEON & GALICIA
Raúl Pérez never intended to go into the wine business. Growing up in Bierzo, where his family produced wine in bulk, he planned to become a doctor. But when he showed up too late for registration at medical school, he signed up for oenology instead. By the time he returned to his family’s vineyards in 1993, they had started to bottle wine. Pérez began to expand his horizons, exploring Bordeaux for ideas to modernize the winery, and working with José Luis Mateo in Monterrei. And when winemaker Alvaro Palacios showed up in Bierzo in 1999, he turned Pérez’s world around, introducing him to top Burgundies and old wines from Spain, and opening his mind to the possibilities of Bierzo. Pérez began to build a consultancy, as well as partnerships in Galicia and Ribeira Sacra, where his influence on the style of the wines has been profound. By 2004, he decided to leave the family business and set up his own winery in Bierzo: He built Ultreia on the model of Burgundy, focusing around his hometown of Valtuille de Abajo, with village wines and higher-level crus. Combining unstoppable creative energy with thoughtful care, Raúl Pérez has built a small empire of remarkable Spanish wines. —P.T. 2016 Rías Baixas Sketch ($78, 95 points) Pérez headed to Rías Baixas when his doctor insisted that he rest at the beach and forget about wine for a while. He ended up making some albariño, reinventing the category with wines like Sketch, which he makes from vines planted in 1965, harvested late in the season when the fruit is ripe but still sustains its acidity. His 2016 is fresh and crystalline, the acidity lifting the wine’s density of juicy white fruit. 2015 Bierzo La Vizcaína La del Vivo ($38, 94 points) This comes from two plots in the hills surrounding Valtuille de Abajo, the vines planted between 1925 and 1940, mostly godello and doña blanca. It's bright and complex, offering notes of almonds, pineapple and peach united by fresh acidity.
2015 Bierzo Ultreia Mencía ($34, 94 points) This is Pérez’s blend from two villages, one with clay soils, the other slate. The vineyards are field blends based on mencía; Pérez ferments the grapes as whole clusters in large oak vats, with a long maceration prior to aging in neutral barrels. It’s deliciously meaty, peppery and ripe, a funky red to target at roast suckling pig. Founded: 2005 • Owner/winemaker/viticulturist: Raúl Pérez Acres owned: 11 • Annual production: 3,500 cases Estate grown: N/A • Importer: Skurnik Wines, NY WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Raúl Pérez has become a key figure in the modern development of wine in northwest Spain.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
A legendary vineyard on the gravelly south bank of the Duero River, Vega-Sicilia was originally planted by Eloy Lecanda y Chaves, who had worked in Bordeaux Gonzalo Iturriaga and returned to Castilla with cuttings of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and malbec. The Alvarez family purchased the property—close to 2,500 acres—in 1982, the same year that Ribera del Duero earned its status as a Denominación de Origin. The winery has long been famed for Unico, its top wine, held in bottle for a decade or more before release; for Reserva Especial, a blend of several vintages of Unico; and for Valbuena, an earlier release named for the village where the vineyard is planted. The family established Tempos Vega Sicilia with their purchase of the estate and placed Pablo Alvarez in charge of the winery in 1986; as CEO since 1990, he has expanded the portfolio to include Alion, a modern red from an adjacent 320-acre vineyard, as well as Pintia in Toro, Macán Clásico in Rioja and Oremus in Tokaj, Hungary. Meanwhile, the team continues to sustain Vega-Sicilia’s ancient vines, some dating to 1910, working with that inheritance to develop their own selections of tempranillo, acclimated to the property and fitting the style. The care and selection of each release has sustained the vineyard’s place in the pantheon of Spanish greats. —P.T.
Comando G CASTILLA Y LEON
Resuscitating ancient vines at altitudes approaching 4,000 feet, Comando G grows garnacha that soars with energy and finesse.
Every two years, Daniel Landi and Fernando García organize the Fiesta de la Floración in Sierra de Gredos. It started with just their own wines—Comando G and García’s Marañones—and has grown to include not only the new generation of vignerons from Spain, but like-minded growers from farther afield. What brings them together is a shared passion for wines without artifice, a rejection of the heavy, showy wines that drew praise in the generation before them. Landi and García represent the latest New Spain, which means very old Spain—ancient, high-altitude garnacha vineyards, worked with horses, farmed under biodynamics, fermented without additions and aged in large French oak barrels or amphorae. These two college friends found themselves working in Sierra de Gredos, west of Madrid, where small parcels of ancient vines were up for grabs. They created Comando G in 2008 and have built it into one of the most exciting projects in Spain, elevating garnacha to expressive new heights. —P.T.
2015 Madrid Tumba del Rey Moro Villanueva de Ávila ($105, 96 points) This grows at one of the highest points in Gredos, at 3,600 feet in the Alto Alberche. The ancient garnacha vines, rooted in pink granitic and quartz sands, were abandoned when Landi and García found them and cleared the site of brush. Those vines seem to capture the scent of the local herbs and flowers, an irresistible combination with the bright red-fruit flavors. The finish feels especially refreshing, lasting on notes of Mediterranean spring herbs. 2015 Madrid Las Umbrías Rozas de Puerto Real ($105, 94 points) Of all Comando G’s parcela wines, Las Umbrías (“the shadows”) is the most delicate. From 65-year-old vines on granitic soil with traces of clay, this offers an intoxicating range of fruit and floral notes, scents of roses combined with touches of tea and fresh herbs. It’s a subtle garnacha with red cherry flavor, firm acidity and lasting notes of flowers and earth. 2016 Madrid La Bruja de Rozas ($27, 91 points) This is Comando G’s “village wine” blended from several parcels around Las Rozas de Puerto Real, the vines ranging from 50 to 80 years old. It has the pointed tannins of garnacha grown in granitic sand, slowly yielding floral notes from under deliciously ripe strawberry and raspberry flavors.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
From top right: 2015 Madrid Tumba del Rey Moro Villanueva de Avila; Fernando García and Daniel Landi; Sierra de Gredos
Founded: 2008 • Owners/winemakers/ viticulturists: Fernando García, Daniel Landi Acres owned: 24.7 • Annual production: N/A Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Eric Solomon Selections/European Cellars, Charlotte, NC 76
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Terroir al Límit CATALONIA: PRIORAT
CATALONIA: PRIORAT Farming old vines and using ancient local winemaking techniques, Ricard Rofes is redefining garnacha in Priorat. The vineyards at Scala Dei were established by Carthusian monks in 1163; the contemporary cellars were established in 1843, and their first bottled wine was produced in 1878. The Codorníu Raventós Group purchased Scala Dei in 2000, later bringing on Ricard Rofes, who had grown up in Priorat, and had worked with Alvaro Palacios at the Celler de Capçanes while earning his masters in oenology and viticulture. As Rofes got to know the 42 parcels within Scala Dei’s estate, he decided to produce a new range of wines in 2010, the Garnatxes d’Scala Dei. He repurposed ancient winemaking techniques, experimenting with fermentation in stone troughs; he regulraly ferments his top tier of wines in cement tanks and aged them in both cement and foudres. While we recommended a range of exceptional Scala Dei wines this year, it was the garnachas that earned the winery its place among the Top 100 of 2018. —P.T.
Dominik Huber was studying business administration in Germany when he traveled to Priorat in 1996 and met the Pérez family, owners of Mas Martinet. After graduating, he decided to Dominik Huber settle in Priorat and the Pérezes gave him space in their Cims de Porreira cellars to make his own wines. That’s when he met Eben Sadie, a South African who had also been drawn to Priorat for its old garnacha and cariñena vines. Working with viticulturist Jaume Sabaté, the team began buying up old vineyards, focusing on north-facing slopes at high elevations, farming the vines organically, and developing strategies to improve the health of the soils and reduce stress in the vines during Priorat’s torrid summers. Rather than powerful, fully extracted wines, they focused on the kind of infusion techniques currently in vogue in Burgundy: They work with whole-cluster, spontaneous fermentations in large oak or concrete tanks, without any punchdowns or pumpovers. They age the wines in concrete or fuders and use no sulfur until bottling. While Sadie returned to his estate in Swartland in 2012, Huber has continued to explore the elegant, fresh side of Priorat with delicate expressions of the region’s ancient vines. —P.T.
2016 Priorat Garnatxa ($23, 92 points) This is Scala Dei’s entry point into garnacha, presenting the grape in its purest form: It radiates red fruit with clarity and precision, illuminating the strong tannins of garnacha grown on slate. The wine’s freshness will sustain it if you choose to age it a few years, but it’s also delicious now with brisket. 2016 Priorat Torroja Vi de Vila ($50, 94 points) This is Huber’s “village wine,” a blend of grapes from the slate hillsides surrounding the small mountain village of Torroja. His garnacha and cariñena vines range from 50 to 75 years old, and he farmed them to produce deliciously ripe red fruit flavors, the wine yielding complex scents of herbs, barnyard and earth.
2014 Priorat St. Antoni de Scala Dei ($150, 95 points) Although this is not the highest vineyard at Scala Dei, it is the oldest, the garnacha negra vines planted on clay and chalk in 1945. These cold soils give extra freshness to the grapes, which Rofes encouraged by fermenting the juice in cement and aging it in large French oak foudres. Its exuberant flavors fill the mouth with ripeness as the powerful tannins dissolve into the scents of black fruits and flowers.
2015 Priorat L’Arbossar ($90, 95 points) Though many local growers prefer cariñena on warm, sunny south-facing slopes, Huber was intrigued when he came across this small vineyard with very old vines near the town of Torroja. The vineyard faces north and, though it required intense work to encourage the fruit toward ripeness, he found that it provided a fresh wine with more distinctive character than cariñena often gives in the region. His 2015 is nuanced and complex, with scents of spice, red fruit and raw meat. Its vibrant freshness matches its voluptuous richness, the structure marked by vertical tannins, needing years to mellow.
2014 Priorat Masdeu de Scala Dei ($150, 95 points) The Masdeu vineyard rises to 2,600 feet, the garnacha vines planted in 1974, facing east-southeast, overlooking the monastery of Scala Dei. The soil at this elevation is clay and chalk—and the chalk is present in the wine, especially in its tense structure, which supports the generous red fruit. Rofes fermented this garnacha in open stone troughs and aged it in cement. It’s complex and deliciously fresh—garnacha in one of its brightest moments in all of Spain.
2015 Priorat Les Tosses ($290, 95 points) Les Tosses is on a steep flank of the highest peak in Torroja, with old cariñena vines planted at 2,130 feet. Along with Les Manyes, at 2,624 feet, Dominik Huber considers Tosses one of his top sites. The cool altitude brings out the fresh side of cariñena, with tart black fruit and plenty of tannins to support it. Those tannins are marked by earthy scents of llicorella and spice, giving a wine with enveloping depths and seductive complexity.
Founded: 1163 • Winemaker: Ricard Rofes • Viticulturist: Albert Crivillé Owner: Codorníu Raventós Group • Acres owned: 223 • Annual production: 15,000 cases • Estate grown: 60% • Importer: Aveníu Brands, Sonoma, CA
Founded: 2001 • Owner/winemaker: Dominik Huber Viticulturist: Jaume Sabaté • Acres owned: 61.7 Annual production: 10,000 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importer: Eric Solomon Selections/European Cellars, Charlotte, NC WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Dominik Huber reveals a fresh, elegant expression of Priorat’s ancient vines.
Palacio de Fefiñanes
Forjas del Salnés
Fefiñanes produces classic, long-lived albariños from the center of Salnés.
Méndez is a master of Atlantic reds—and old-vine albariño—from Galicia’s far coast.
The Palacio de Fefiñanes is an ornate, two-story structure, its walls and turrets built of granite blocks, defining one side of the central square in Cambados, a town in Salnés, Rías Juan Gil de Araújo Baixas. The Viscount of Fefiñanes, Gonzalo Sarmiento Valladares, completed his family’s home in 1647 and records trace winemaking at the palace to the 17th century; it turned into a business venture at the beginning of the 20th, with the first bottles released in 1928. Today, there are two small parcels of vines on pergolas within the estate walls; most of the grapes come to the palace winery from growers with small plots in Cambados. Cristina Mantilla, who has made the wines since 1995, has added to the original, singular albariño with vineyard and cellar selections that take the grape from fresh coastal classics to long-lived whites. —P.T.
Rodrigo Méndez grew up in Salnés, where his father and grandfather farmed vines and made wine for his family to drink. When he decided to bottle his own wine, he was Rodrigo Méndez interested not only in albariño, the white variety that dominated contemporary vineyards on the coast, but also in traditional red varieties like caiño, loureiro and espadeiro, which produced the wines his grandfather had always favored. In 2004, he sold some grapes to Raúl Pérez, who became a friend and collaborator—Pérez helped him explore the local varieties of the coast to produce fresh, fragrant and deeply flavorful Atlantic wines. Most recently, the two are collaborating on Ribeira Sacra wines under a new label, Castro Candaz. Meanwhile, Méndez continues to tap his own vineyards and local connections with old-vine growers to build on the coastal success of Forjas del Salnés. —P.T.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
2017 Rías Baixas Albariño de Fefiñanes ($28, 93 points) A selection from 60 growers with small parcels in Cambados, most having worked with Fefiñanes for generations, this ferments at cold temperatures in stainless steel, where it rests until bottling in late February. It’s the flagship of the house and, in 2017, a minerally classic from Rías Baixas, with scents of flowers and herbs, its fresh peach richness carried on lime-scented acidity. 2016 Rías Baixas 1583 Albariño ($48, 93 points) Mantilla began producing this wine with her first vintage in 1995, fermenting it in French oak barrels, where it rests for three months on the lees before spending a year in stainless-steel vats. The label, 1583, references the birth year of the first Viscount of Fefiñanes. The time in oak provides a soft, spicy touch, rounding the wine without diminishing its purity of fruit, delivered in quiet scents of apricots, pears and herbs.
2014 Rías Baixas III Año Albariño ($54, 95 points) The 2002 season provided great, long-lived albariños, and it led Mantilla to produce this selection for the first time. It’s a blend off of the oldest plots of albariño farmed by Fefiñanes’s stable of growers; the vines are mostly pre-phylloxera, growing in sand over decomposed granite. Mantilla cold-ferments the juice in stainless steel, then ages it in tanks for 30 months, the first seven months with its lees and gentle stirring. Her 2014 is a delicate beauty, presenting flowers, citrus fruits and honey, all in a subtle and refreshing harmony.
Founded: 1904 • Winemaker: Cristina Mantilla Owner: The Gil de Araújo family • Acres owned: 2.5 Annual production: 16,500 cases • Estate grown: N/A Importer: Classic Wines, Stanford, CT; Kysela Père et Fils, Winchester, VA 78
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
2014 Rías Baixas Goliardo Tintos de Mar Caiño ($69, 94 points) Goliardo was the first Forjas wine Méndez developed, in 2005, working with Raúl Pérez to explore caiño. This red grows at an old vineyard planted on sandy granite soils hard by the sea. The first impression is salty and fresh, salinity backed up by caiño’s strong acidity. Leave it in a decanter for a few hours and the wine opens up to scents of herbs and flowers, its structure firm. Delicious now, this will age well for a decade or more.
2016 Rías Baixas Tintos de Mar Bastión de la Luna ($31, 95 points) From vines planted in the mid-1960s in Salnés, this is equal parts caiño, loureiro and espadeiro, the three red varieties Méndez has found to be best adapted to the conditions on the far coast of Rías Baixas. It’s a dark and smoky red, hiding its fruit in the background, slowly revealing that coastal fruit as it opens with air. Tense and rustic, this is packed with energy in its tannins, a hallmark of Méndez’s reds. 2016 Rías Baixas Leirana Genoveva Albariño ($45, 93 points) Trained to high pergolas, some of the vines at Finca Genoveva are more than 200 years old, though Doña Lola, who tended this farm, planted the vines for this albariño in 1982. Rodrigo Méndez ages the wine in an old 2,500-liter foudre for a year, creating a creamy white with lively acidity that points up its herbal notes and graceful white fruit.
Founded: 2005 • Owner/winemaker/viticulturist: Rodrigo Méndez Acres owned: 22 • Annual production: 4,150 cases • Estate grown: 80% Importer: Olé Imports, New Rochelle, NY
R. López de Heredia
2004 Rioja Reserva Viña Tondonia ($56, 96 points) Tondonia is the winery’s largest vineyard, 247 acres on a bend of the Ebro. Most of it is planted to red
2008 Rioja Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia Rosado ($35, 96 points) Mercedes López de Heredia, Pedro’s daughter, now makes the wines here, in the same resolutely traditional manner as her forebears. Her rosé from 2008 spent four years in old barrels and another six in bottle before release. While you can feel the heat of the sun, which ripened the grapes to a mellow sweetness, now faded to notes of Cognac-drenched berries and flamed orange zest, the wine also projects a cedary freshness that brings to mind cool earth and fresh breezes. It’s remarkably vivacious, accumulating energy in the days after opening, and will continue to evolve with cellar time. 2005 Rioja Reserva Viña Tondonia ($50, 90 points) While the family also tends vines at Viña Bosconia and Viña Cubillo, their most aristocratic take on oldline Rioja comes from Tondonia. This Reserva, aged six years in old oak barrels, is an elegant red scented with notes of bittersweet chocolate, dill and paprika, delicious now but also structured to age another decade.
When Monica Nogues began importing the wines of R. López de Heredia in 1996, it was hard going: Aged long in barrels, the golden whites and pale reds were out of tune with the fashion for fresh wines. The company’s previous US importer had asked them to move to 100 percent tempranillo wines, but Pedro López de Heredia staunchly refused. The family had been making their wines the same way since 1877, transforming the fruit of their three prime Rioja Alta sites through long, slow fermentations in the cool, riverside tunnels of their cellar in Haro, the mossy walls and huge old barrels testament to their hands-off approach. And so what if the whites were golden, the reds pale and the rosés the color of antique linen? Once bottled, these wines can last for decades, their delicate aromas and aristocratic flavors belying remarkably firm structures. The company’s approach paid off this year: Not only did they release three outstanding wines, but also sales have been so brisk that R. López de Heredia headlined the list of the Top 50 Wines in our Annual Restaurant Poll. —T.Q.T.
grapes, but the alluvial clay-and-limestone soils also support a few acres of viura and malvasia. Fermented in barrels, where the wine spent six years, then aged in bottle to continue gathering strength, this 2004 presents a classic wine in a great vintage. Open the bottle and you might taste tart lemon, juicy almond and touches of oxidation; give it another day or two open and those flavors turn fresher, with notes of croissants and almond blossoms, the flavors savory, salty and bright. Decanted, it gives off the energy of the cool sun at harvest, of an ideal autumn day.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
R. López de Heredia’s elegant, long-lived wines show a face of Rioja like no other.
From top right: 2004 Rioja Reserva Viña Tondonia; Mercedes and María José López de Heredia; Tondonia Vineyard
Founded: 1877 • Winemakers: María José, Mercedes & Julio César López de Heredia (viticulturist) • Owner: The López de Heredia family Acres owned: 402 • Annual production: 40,300 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importer: Think Global, Santa Barbara, CA WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Luis A. Rodríguez Vázquez GALICIA
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
SPAIN | ARGENTINA
Luis Anxo Rodríguez curates a collection of small plots in Ribeiro, consistently producing some of the best wines in Spain. Located inland from Rías Baixas and just north of the Miño River, Ribeiro was once a major force in wine exports to England. But while more recent history and politics were not kind to this region, the talent Luis Anxo Rodríguez Vázquez of the land remains. The proprietor of this small cellar in Arnoia goes by the name Luis Anxo; he knows these granite hillside vineyards with the intimacy of a kid who grew up here. He returned, after studying oenology and philosophy in Madrid, to make some of the most profound wines in Spain. He works his small parcels of vines without herbicides, allows his wines to spontaneously ferment and ages them in mostly old, neutral oak. It’s his sensitivity to the land and the vines that sets Rodríguez’s wines apart and makes them at once comforting and astonishing. —J.G.
2011 Ribeiro Escolma Viña de Martin ($60, 95 points) Escolma means “selection” in Gallego, this wine representing Rodríguez’s oldest vineyards, a selection of white grapes in a blend based on treixadura. If you know treixadura, you might not expect the intensity, concentration and power of this wine. It takes the flavors of ripe peaches and pears and matches them with the equal intensity of stony acidity, creating a profound white wine that will last for a decade or more. 2014 Ribeiro A Torna Dos Pasas ($31, 96 points) While this wine represents the younger vines in Rodríguez’s vineyards, its perfect ripeness elevates the fruit of those young vines to something close to numinous. Rodríguez focuses this blend on brancellao (40 percent), along with about 20 percent each of caiño redondo, caiño longo and ferrol. If you’ve never tasted these grapes, this is a must-try; and if you know Luís Anxo’s wines, this vintage is not to be missed. He ages it for a year in 300-liter used barrels, where the tannins develop a strong ferrous character, an earthy note that slowly reveals a deep reserve of fresh fruit. 2011 Ribeiro Escolma A Torna Dos Pasas ($60, 93 points) This is Rodríguez’s top selection of red grapes, from vines dating back 50 years, a field blend including brancellao, caiño redondo and ferrol that he ages in a mix of old and new barrels. The concentration of that old-vine fruit is apparent in the deep blackness of the color and flavor, right through to the structure. Built to cellar, this needs five years in the bottle to mellow and integrate.
Founded: 1988 • Owner/winemaker/viticulturist: Luis Anxo Rodríguez Vázquez • Acres owned: 12 Annual production: 2,500 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importer: Jose Pastor Selections/Vinos and Gourmet, Richmond, CA 80
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Catena Zapata MENDOZA
Catena’s drive to explore the Uco Valley’s higher elevations has uncovered exceptional terroir for chardonnay as well as reds. This is the twelfth time Catena has made the Top 100 Wineries list, thanks to the vision of Nicolás Catena and his team. This, however, is the first time the winery made the list largely on the strength of white wines. It’s a fascinating twist to a story that began with a young academic inspired by Robert Mondavi to make his family’s winery a showcase for Argentine wine. Catena, the third generation to run the company, built a massive winery in Agrelo, the heart of Mendoza’s wine industry, and began crafting wines that made malbec a winelist staple. At the same time, he was chasing a vision of more elegant wines from cooler climes, and headed high into the Andean foothills, planting the Adrianna Vineyard in Gualtallary in 1996. The region is now one of the most sought-after in the Uco Valley, producing malbecs with lift and finesse; it’s also the source of two stunning chardonnays, wines that chart a new course for Argentine wine. —P.T.
2015 Mendoza White Bones Adrianna Vineyard Chardonnay ($140, 96 points) Alejandro Vigil has been a pivotal force in Catena’s ascent since he joined the team in 2003. For this wine, he selects the fruit from an area of the vineyard where the soil is packed with calcareous stones as well as fossilized animal bones. He ages the wine in 500-liter barrels, allowing a veil of yeasts to develop, as it would in a Sherry. The veil gives the wine a Fino-like salinity that sparks its bright white fruit and penetrating mineral notes, and gives it extra succulence. White Bones seems to distill the desert soils of Gualtallary in a crystal clear and brilliant way. A delight to drink now, it has enough inner strength to last for a decade. 2015 Mendoza White Stones Adrianna Vineyard Chardonnay ($120, 94 points) This comes from a section of Adrianna that’s covered with white stones over sand, the wine translating the region’s heat into mouthfilling flavors of white fruit. The acidity supports that ripeness with tense freshness, making it a terrific companion to a grilled halibut steak; however, given time in the cellar, the wine will gain much more in complexity. 2015 Mendoza Nicolas Catena Zapata ($125, 93 points) This presents the charmingly herbal, cassis side of cabernet sauvignon from Agrelo—Mendoza’s prime source of the variety—along with the softness and floral notes of malbec. It has structural strength in its tannins and acidity, but it’s the way the fruit fills the palate that will draw you back for another glass. Delicious now, this will evolve gracefully over the next ten years. Founded: 1902 • Winemaker: Alejandro Vigil • Viticulturist: Luis Reginato Owner: The Catena family • Acres owned: 395 Annual production: 1,284,903 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importer: MundoVino/The Winebow Group, NY
d’Arenberg MCLAREN VALE
By heading into the high altitudes of the Uco Valley, Sebastian Zuccardi is forging a new identity for Argentine reds. Sebastian Zuccardi comes from a long line of energetic strivers. His grandfather planted the estate’s first vines to showcase his new irrigation system and how effective it could be in Mendoza’s desert-like climate. It worked so well that, by the time the bulk wine market crashed in the 1980s, he decided to keep his vines in the ground and start a new business selling his wine in bottle. His son, José, helped him develop an export market where there’d never been one before; under José’s care, the winery also became a tourist destination, as well as a hive of viticultural R&D, where varieties like tempranillo and viognier made waves in the malbec-saturated market. José’s son, Sebastian, now heads up the winery and vineyards, focusing his efforts on exploring Mendoza terroir. By pushing ever higher into the Andean foothills, and obsessively mapping his vineyards, he has developed a new range of wines that are revelatory in their clarity and energy. —P.T.
2014 Paraje Altamira Aluvional ($91, 95 points) Altamira, in the Uco Valley, had been a coveted region for vineyards for more than a century when a group of growers, including Sebastian Zuccardi, set out to define its boundaries as an appellation. They gained approval in 2014. This wine, off vines ten to 15 years old, is a fiercely powerful malbec with the clarity of violet-scented, tart black fruit that defines this high-altitude zone. Dense tannins envelop that fruit right now, the wine propelled by a lively acidity that promises to keep it fresh as the tannins mellow over the next decade. 2014 Tupungato Alta Aluvional Gualtallary ($91, 94 points) Zuccardi has selected a range of high-altitude Uco Valley sites with alluvial soils, bottling each separately under his Aluvional label. This one grows at a vineyard rising to elevations of 4,608 feet in Gualtallary, and shows the personality of the variety in that mountainous area: It’s powerfully aromatic, driven by scents of violets, sour cherries and herbs. The wine feels plump and vigorous, full of brilliant acidity and firm yet gentle tannins. 2015 Paraje Altamira Tito ($38, 93 points) Named for founder Alberto “Tito” Zuccardi, this malbec-based blend nods to the family’s Italian ancestors, with a percentage of ancellotta alongside the cabernet sauvignon and caladoc in the blend. It’s bright and fresh, with intense flavors of strawberries and cherries. The lively acidity and generous tannins ask for a plate of beef braciole.
Founded: 1963 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Sebastian Zuccardi • Owner: The Zuccardi family • Acres owned: 395 • Annual production: 45,000 cases • Estate grown: 80% • Importer: Winesellers, Niles, IL
This is the ninth year that d’Arenberg has earned a place in the W&S Top 100, an honor based both on the Osborn family’s commitment to Australia’s oldvine vineyards, as well as its forward-looking approach to viticulture. Fourth-generation winemaker Chester Osborn joined his father, Chester Osborn d’Arry, at the winery in the mid-1980s, when the government was paying people to pull up their old shiraz vines and plant chardonnay. The Osborns refused, buying up what vineyards they could and contracting with others to keep their vines in the ground. Today, the winery farms some 450 acres in McLaren Vale, including shiraz dating back to d’Arenberg’s first planting in 1912, and nearly one-third of McLaren Vale’s old bush-vine grenache. Focused on the Rhône grapes that have historically defined the region, Chester recently converted all his vineyards to organics and biodynamics (certified 2016), moved to solar energy in the winery, and is adding warm-climate varieties such as mencía from Spain and assyrtiko from Greece to the vineyard mix. Meanwhile, in the winery, not much has changed—all the wines are basket-pressed, the reds foot-trodden during fermentation; everything is done in small batches, leading to a mind-boggling array of bottlings every year, each showing a different facet of McLaren Vale terroir. —T.Q.T.
2014 McLaren Vale The Dead Arm Shiraz ($65, 94 points) A d’Arenberg classic, this is Chester Osborn’s top selection of old-vine shiraz. While a warm spring in 2014 sped up the harvest—it was the earliest vintage on record at d’Arenberg—the mild autumn allowed the grapes to retain balance and fragrance. This wine smells like summer, with scents of wild blueberries and basil over warm earth, while its flavors are powered by a gripping mineral intensity. Fresh, brisk and open, this is a particularly friendly vintage that still holds Dead Arm’s potential to age. 2016 McLaren Vale The Hermit Crab Viognier-Marsanne ($17, 91 points) Chester Osborn’s talent for sustaining freshness in his Rhône varieties extends to white wines. This 2016 is a case in point, a cool and juicy white he grows in freedraining soils over limestone, bedrock built by the shells of creatures like hermit crabs. He blends fruit from early and late harvests, balancing marsanne’s crisp Asian-pear flavors with viognier’s peach and floral notes, the wine ready to chill for Dungeness crab.
Founded: 1912 • Winemaker/viticulturist: Chester Osborn • Owners: d'Arry & Chester Osborn • Acres owned: 450 • Annual production: 20,834 cases • Estate grown: 65% • Importer: Old Bridge Cellars, Napa, CA WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
ARGENTINA | AUSTRALIA
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Chester Osborn has saved hundreds of old-vine vineyards from the plow, now celebrating them in McLaren Vale classics.
Grosset CLARE VALLEY Grosset’s wines place Clare Valley firmly among the world’s top sites for riesling.
Giant Steps YARRA VALLEY
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Working in Victoria’s cool Yarra Valley, Steve Flamsteed turns out some of Australia’s most finessed chardonnay and pinot noir. Like John Coltrane, who left a successful collaboration with Miles Davis to release his ground-breaking album, Giant Steps, Phil Sexton sold a successful vineyard—Devil’s Lair in Western Australia—to launch a winery with a completely different approach halfway across the country. Sexton chose a high, north-facing slope in the Yarra Valley’s Warramate Hills to plant 75 acres of chardonnay in 1997; then he began exploring other cool-climate parcels, building a collection that now covers 115 acres. Along the way, he found a like-minded partner in Steve Flamsteed, who’d put in time as a chef and cheesemaker before studying wine. The two of them focus on chardonnay and pinot noir, farming organically, with some parcels under biodynamics. They take a gentle approach in their gravity-flow winery— whole-bunch pressing, spontaneous fermentations, minimum fining and no pumping—producing wines that communicate their power in cool clarity and fine detail rather than brawn. —T.Q.T. 2017 Yarra Valley Wombat Creek Vineyard Chardonnay ($42, 93 points) Flamsteed and Sexton’s exploration of cool-climate viticulture led them to Wombat Creek, the Yarra Valley’s highest vineyard. Its 39 northeast-facing acres were originally planted for sparkling wine; for Giant Steps, the site grows an extreme chardonnay, wound tight as a violin string. The flavors taste more like cool sun on stone than they do any identifiable fruit; scents of meadow flowers drive home the delicate, high-altitude feel. Those flavors last with roundness and depth, the structure sturdy enough to take on something as rich as roast monkfish.
It was two acres of riesling outside a remote cabin north of Mount Horrocks that set Jeffrey Grosset on his life’s work; he was fascinated by the vines’ ability to survive on a cool, nearsoilless slope of shale and slate. He made his first PolJeffrey Grosset ish Hill Riesling in 1981; today, he farms 20 acres at Polish Hill, and the wine has become a classic, ranked in the latest Langton’s Classification as “exceptional,” the guide’s highest accolade. He’s since acquired three other vineyards, working 54 acres of vines under organics, certified since 2011. All are planted in high, cool pockets, where Grosset encourages the fruit toward a pristine, restrained ripeness, then works to preserve that clarity by minimizing contact between the skins of the grapes and their juice; he ferments his rieslings with neutral yeasts in stainless-steel tanks until they are bone dry. The results can be austere on release, but they age brilliantly, evolving over a decade or more into a contrast of rich marmalade flavors and bright, energizing acidity. —T.Q.T. 2017 Clare Valley Polish Hill Riesling ($52, 93 points) Grosset’s 2017 takes the austerity typical of this wine to a new level, filling the mouth with lithe flavors of white cherry and lemon before their weight seems to evaporate into pure aroma. It lasts, imprinting each breath with mineral salts, nori and lime-blossom scents. Impressive now for its precision and clarity, this wine will need a decade before it starts to show itself completely.
2017 Yarra Valley Chardonnay ($30, 93 points) A blend of fruit from five estate parcels, this holds its own among Giant Steps’s single-vineyard wines. Fermented spontaneously in 500-liter puncheons, 20 percent new, and bottled without filtration, it’s supple and savory, with a clean peach succulence and apple-blossom fragrance that give it grace and elegance.
2017 Clare Valley Springvale Riesling ($42, 95 points) Springvale sits three miles from Polish Hill, on a hillside at an elevation of 1,500 feet. Grosset describes the soils as “soft” compared to Polish Hill’s hard slate; here, the red loam and limestone retain water that buffers the vines from drought stress. That’s not to say, however, that this is a relaxed wine. Rather, it’s fiercely linear, a rock face of savory stone flavor with notes of lime blossoms and orange peel around the edges. It begins to soften a day after opening, when the wine develops textural richness and citrus depth, but it’s clear that this is best left to evolve in the cellar for a decade.
2017 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir ($30, 91 points) Culled from estate-grown fruit, fermented in a combination of open-top oak vats and stainless-steel tanks, this pinot captures the coolness of its high-elevation vineyards in its tight, raspberryscented fruit. While oak shows a bit in the scent of the wine (ten percent of the barrels are new), the lasting impression is a red glow of flavor, earthy and penetrating. Give it another year or more in the cellar, then open at the holidays for a roast bird.
2017 Clare Valley Alea Riesling ($38, 93 points) This comes from the Rockwood Vineyard, near Springvale, on a strip of hard red rock under a thin layer of loam. It grows a wine of brutal precision, with notes of lemon rock candy against stony savor, the flavors sent soaring by piercing acidity. Like all of Grosset’s rieslings, it’s not for the faint of heart or the impatient; it will be fascinating in eight to ten years, especially if opened up next to its siblings.
Founded: 2000 • Winemaker: Steve Flamsteed • Viticulturist: Ryan Collins Owner: Phil Sexton• Acres owned: 115 • Annual production: 20,000 cases Estate grown: 100% • Importer: Old Bridge Cellars, Napa, CA 82
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Founded: 1981 • Winemakers: Jeffrey Grosset, Brent Treloar Viticulturist: Mark Groat • Owner: Jeffrey Grosset Acres owned: 54 • Annual production: 11,000 cases Estate grown: 95% • Importer: Hudson Wine Brokers, Los Angeles, CA
Yalumba, one of the oldest family-run wineries in South Australia, delivers thoughtful, sustainable and iconic wines. Robert Hill-Smith is the fifth generation of his family to run this Eden Valley estate, established in 1849. After a 30-year run as managing director, he handed that role Louisa Rose to Nick Waterman in 2015 and took over as chairman of the board. Hill-Smith and Waterman have worked together since 2002, and their team has kept the winery at the top of its game. That team includes Senior Red Winemaker Kevin Glastonbury, who’s been with the winery since 1999, and Chief Winemaker Louisa Rose, a 25-year veteran who’s made a name for herself as the foremost authority on viognier in Australia, and oversees winemaking across Yalumba’s entire portfolio. That portfolio is one of the most robust in South Australia, ranging from classic bush-vine grenaches and tawny muscats to new introductions such as sangiovese and tempranillo—a range made possible by the winery’s sustainably farmed 650 acres of vines. —R.D.T.
2016 Barossa Old Bush Vine Grenache ($20, 93 points) Yalumba’s Old Bush Vine range consistently turns out some of the greatest values from Australia, this grenache being one of them. It’s sourced from some of the region’s oldest vines, some of them dating to 1898. It’s clean and bright, with a floral delicacy to its redberry flavors that makes it especially easy to drink. 2013 Barossa The Octavius Shiraz ($119, 92 points) Part of Yalumba’s Rare & Fine collection, the Octavius Shiraz takes its name from the barrels it ages in: octaves, 90-liter barrels of French and American oak made on site in Yalumba’s cooperage—the only winery-owned barrel-making facility in the southern hemisphere. Winemaker Kevin Glastonbury sources the fruit for Octavius from parcels in Barossa and Eden, and ages a portion of the juice in the small barrels for 20 months. The oak notes add a sheen to the dark fruit and deepen the flavors toward notes of toasted rye and dark chocolate. It’s a powerful wine with a black crush of minerals defining its tough structure, built to age. 2016 Eden Valley Viognier ($20, 90 points) Louisa Rose has made viognier her focus since she started at Yalumba nearly 20 years ago. She’s tuned the variety to Eden Valley, producing wines that emphasize viognier’s pale peach fruit more than its pungent perfume. This is just lightly floral, with a pleasant bitter note to its earthy stone-fruit flavors; an elegant viognier for seafood in a creamy curry.
Founded: 1849 • Winemakers: Louisa Rose, Kevin Glastonbury • Viticulturist: Brooke Howell Owner: Robert Hill-Smith • Acres owned: 650 Annual production: 80,000 cases • Estate grown: 60% • Importer: Negociants USA/The Winebow Group, NY
Voyager Estate MARGARET RIVER
Voyager demonstrates Margaret River’s talent with cabernet and chardonnay, with ageworthy and elegant versions. When Peter Gherardi planted a vineyard in Stevens Valley in 1978, the Margaret River region was just beginning to develop a reputation for wines, specifically elegant Bordeaux-style cabernet Steve James blends. Michael Wright, a mining executive, took notice, buying that vineyard in 1991 to establish Voyager Estate. He continued to enlarge it and brought on Steve James to help in the winery and vineyard. Working with the region’s gravelly soils and warm Indian Ocean climate, they developed a reputation for lush yet structured cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. Since Wright’s death in 2012, his daughter, Alexandra Burt, oversees the estate, now 110 contiguous acres; James, together with winemaker Travis Lemm and vineyard manager Glen Ryan, continues to refine the wines, working with small-batch fermentations and a wide range of French oak barrels (about 300 new barrels a year) to create their tightly structured wines. Their latest project is to convert the vineyards to organics; they hope to achieve certification by 2023. —T.Q.T.
2014 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon ($65, 93 points) Voyager Estate has cemented its reputation with cabernet sauvignon. This one, from a year without any weather extremes, is silken and svelte, its currant and cassis flavors bolstered by hints of bacon from new oak. Enriched with a small dollop of merlot (nine percent), it’s finely balanced, enjoyable to drink now, yet with the potential to age as well. 2016 Margaret River Chardonnay ($45, 93 points) Voyager produces a range of chardonnays from its vineyards on Stevens Road, this wine a blend of nine clones, whole-bunch pressed and fermented without added yeasts. It’s full bodied and rich, with stone-fruit flavors deepened by mineral earthiness and the warm spice of oak (it aged in 40 percent new barrels). It lasts with quiet power, combining summery warmth and Indian Ocean cool in an elegant, satin-textured chardonnay. 2016 Margaret River Girt By Sea Cabernet-Merlot ($25, 88 points) Steve James and his team selected the grapes for this wine with an eye toward making a red that’s ready to drink right out of the gate, yet has elegance and structure. Mostly cabernet and entirely from estate vineyards, this is bright and clean, with violet scents and a pomegranate juiciness bolstered by a little sweetness of oak. Ready for a juicy steak.
Founded: 1991 • Winemakers: Steve James, Travis Lemm • Viticulturists: Steve James, Glen Ryan • Owner: The Wright family • Acres owned: 284 Annual production: 30,000 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importer: Hudson Wine Brokers, Los Angeles, CA WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Cave Spring Cellars ONTARIO
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
CANADA | CHILE
The Pennachetti family’s range of savory, mineral wines has established Ontario as a major player in cool-climate viticulture. When Len Pennachetti helped his father and grandfather make wine, it was from Vitis labrusca grapes: In the 1970s, most people believed Ontario was too cold to support vinifera varieties. The Pennachettis Len Pennachetti, Angelo Pavan proved this untrue & Thomas Pennachetti when, in 1973, they bought a vineyard at Cave Spring, a gentle slope protected by the Niagara Escarpment, a tall cliff left behind by the glaciers that formed Niagara Falls. They planted some of the region’s first riesling and chardonnay, eventually growing the estate to 151 acres, with another 28 under long-term lease; fully half of the plantings are riesling. And it’s not all ice wine, the region’s most famed wine: By fine-tuning details like planting densities, leaf thinning and vineyard drainage, the Cave Spring team puts out nine iterations of riesling, most of them dry, each showcasing a different aspect of the region’s varied terroir. —T.Q.T.
Cave Spring 2016 Niagara Peninsula Riesling ($16, 93 points) Ontario’s talents with riesling show in this blend from multiple appellations in the Niagara region. It far outperforms the $16 price: a powerful, elegant riesling in a Rheingaulike mode. The ripeness of the warm, dry 2016 vintage comes across in the wine’s meaty texture, while the acidity keeps the structure feeling chiseled and taut enough to take on something as rich as roast sturgeon. 2016 Beamsville Bench Estate Riesling ($18, 92 points) This 2016 comes off some of Cave Spring’s oldest vines, their concentrated fruit reflected in dense peach and passion-fruit flavors. Yet the wine is as dry as stone, the nap of the mineral flavors and the spice of alcohol lending texture and grip. It’s built for richer dishes, white meats and cream-sauced fish, and could easily benefit from a year or two in the cellar. 2015 Niagara Escarpment Cabernet Franc ($20, 90 points) While Cave Spring puts out a fine pinot noir, its cabernet franc wines suggest the Loire as Ontario’s optimal red wine role model. The winery's first cabernet franc vines went into the ground in 1989; this wine comes off more recent plantings. With its rich black-cherry fruit kept brisk by smoky, foresty scents, it’s the sort of red you’d be happy to find in any bistro—or in your fridge on a Friday night.
Founded: 1986 • Winemaker: Angelo Pavan • Viticulturist: Gabriel Demarco Owners: The Pennachetti family, Angelo Pavan • Acres owned: 151 Annual production: 58,000 cases • Estate grown: 85% Importer: MGZ Associates, Clarence, NY 84
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Concha y Toro CHILE
With 24 Top 100 awards, Concha y Toro is the most reliable producer of great red wine in Chile, with noteworthy Maipo cabernet sauvignon and Peumo carmenère. The most successful New World wine companies are growers themselves, often relying on purchased fruit to feed their lessexpensive ranges, and on their own vineyards and winegrowing-talent pool Marcío Ramirez to distinguish their more ambitious wines. Concha y Toro may be a publicly traded company, with the accompanying financial resources, but it is controlled by two families who took it public, the Guilisastis and the Larrains. Their hands-on management and the talented winegrowers on their team come together in some remarkable wines. Eduardo Guilisasti is at the helm, whose business acumen was balanced for decades by his brother, José, the leader on the viticultural side of the company. José brought in Alvaro Espinoza to help move the family’s vineyards toward organic farming and biodynamic practices, a project Max Larrain has continued since José passed away in 2014. Marcelo Papa heads up the winemaking team; he has worked his way up the ranks since joining in 1998, now technical director for the firm’s projects in Chile, Argentina and the US. Papa is responsible for raising the profile of the Casillero del Diablo line, then taking the Marques de Casa Concha wines to a new level, creating a ladder of premium wines that performed far above their price. He now manages the winegrowers working on vineyard-specific projects such as Don Melchor, Enrique Tirado’s cabernet sauvignon from Tocornal, and Carmín, the singleparcel carmènere Ignacio Recabarren created at Peumo, now under the care of Marcío Ramírez, who’s been in charge of the Cachapoal winery and vineyards since 2001. —P.T.
2014 Cachapoal Valley Terrunyo Peumo Vineyard Block 27 Carmenère ($40, 95 points) Terrunyo is a block selection from vines planted in the 1970s on a terrace above the north bank of the Cachapoal River, in the hills of the Coastal Range. Its blue fruit and fresh herbal notes are backed by soft but present tannins, along with a sanguine character that adds complexity. 2016 Puente Alto Puente Alto Vineyard Gravas Rojas Cabernet Sauvignon ($50, 93 points) Enrique Tirado selects the fruit for this cabernet from young vines at Tocornal, planted in 2004. He finds that these grapes give a lighter, fruitier wine than Don Melchor, from the older vines at the site. In a fresh vintage like 2016, Gravas Rojas is delineated by tense tannins, its red fruit juicy and ripe, leaving room for spice and menthol notes that feel like an invitation to take another sip. Founded: 1883 • Technical Director: Marcelo Papa • Viticulturist: Max Larrain Owner: Viña Concha y Toro • Acres owned: 24,000 in Chile • Annual production: 34.8 million cases (Chile, Argentina and US) • Estate grown: 50% for premium wines • Importer: Fetzer Vineyards, Hopland, CA
Site-expressive chardonnay had been an elusive goal in Chile, until Francisco Baettig achieved it.
A pioneer in Central Otago, Felton Road showcases its estate vineyards through structured, fresh, and elegant pinot noirs.
2016 Aconcagua Valley Las Pizarras Chardonnay ($92, 96 points) In close to 30 years of tasting my country’s wines, this is the best chardonnay I have tasted from Chile. Francisco Baettig selected the fruit for this wine from the Manzanar vineyard in western Aconcagua, seven miles from the sea. Grown in schist soils, the wine has a powerful structure of tannins and acidity to support its fleshy, peppery fruit. Notes of flowers and herbs layer over earth tones, lasting with persistent freshness. Baettig’s 2017 Aconcagua Valley Chardonnay ($23, 92 points), also grows at El Manzanar, in granite rather than schist, radiating crisp apple and pear freshness out of a firm structure. 2015 Aconcagua Vly. Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve ($112, 95 points) Don Maximiano is based on cabernet grown on the alluvial terraces of the Aconcagua River, and its style has changed dramatically in recent years. Going for a fresher style, winemaker Francisco Baettig now harvests earlier in the season and extracts the juice more gently in the cellar; he’s also reduced the use of new oak barrels from 100 percent to less than 70. The 2015 is fresh and energetic, offering crunchy red fruit and light spice. This is built to cellar for five to ten years. 2014 Aconcagua Valley The Blend Collection ($38, 94 points) This blend of grenache, syrah, malbec and mourvedre grows on the rocky soils of Las Vertientes, in the coastal hills of the Aconcagua Valley. It’s aged in mostly older, neutral oak, allowing the floral side of the grenache to shine. This vintage delivers fruit and more fruit, aligned with spices and herbs in a wine with a high dose of drinkability. Founded: 1870 • Winemaker: Francisco Baettig Viticulturist: Raul Baumann • Owner: Eduardo Chadwick • Acres owned: 2,200 • Annual production: 520,000 cases • Estate grown: 85% • Importer: Vintus, Pleasantville, NY
Stewart Elms planted the first vines at Felton Road in 1992. Exploring the soils in his patch of Bannockburn, a warm spot in cool Central Otago, he divided the vineyard into nine parcels, which he matched to Blair Walter pinot noir, chardonnay and a little riesling. Blair Walter arrived in 1997, just in time for the first vintage off those vines, and stayed on after 2000, when Elms sold the estate to Nigel Greening. A British advertising executive, Greening had planted 20 acres of pinot down the road at Cornish Point. He added his vineyard to Elms’s, and kept Elms’s team in place, led by Walter and viticulturist Gareth King, who was converting the vineyards to biodynamics, and attained Demeter certification in 2010. The team believes in minimal intervention in the winery, relying on ambient yeasts for fermentations and gravity for racking, and avoiding fining and filtering. The results are pinots that stand out for purity of flavor and restraint. —R.D.T.
2015 Central Otago Bannockburn Pinot Noir ($50, 93 points) A blend of pinot from three estate properties—Cornish Point, Calvert and the Elms—this feels complete and immediately satisfying. Fermented in open-top vats, about a quarter of the fruit in whole bunches, and aged a little over a year in Burgundy barrels, it’s both fresh and earthy, the tart plum flavors underlined with earthy notes that recall crisp autumn leaves. We also tasted the 2014 this year, a slightly brawnier bottling thanks to the vintage, which is taking on notes of smoked ham, black tea and red roses as it ages. Both are delicious now, though they’ll benefit from cellaring. 2016 Central Otago Block 5 Pinot Noir ($75, 92 points) The original Elms vineyard remains the backbone of Felton Road, and Walter has separated out the exceptional blocks to bottle the wines on their own. Block 5 sits in the heart of the vineyard, a north-facing parcel planted in 1993. Fermented with 25 percent whole bunches, then aged 17 months in French oak barrels (33 percent new), it’s remarkably harmonious when first poured, with the kind of intoxicating integration of oak and fruit that you might find in the scent of a fine Burgundy. Give it air and the fruit comes up, notes of cranberries and fresh Bing cherries suggesting a match with roast game birds.
Founded: 1991 • Winemaker: Blair Walter • Viticulturist: Gareth King Owner: Nigel Greening • Acres owned: 79 Annual production: 12,000 cases • Estate grown: 100% Importers: Martin Scott Wines, Lake Success, NY; Young’s Market, Tustin, CA WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
CHILE | NEW ZEALAND
Aconcagua is the highest peak in Chile, rising to the northeast of Santiago. The river and valley that share its name provide a fertile oasis on the road north to the Atacama Desert. Maximiano Errazuriz planted BorFrancisco Baettig deaux varieties in Aconcagua at the same time that many of his compatriots planted vineyards in the Andean foothills south of Santiago. That warm central valley location produces rich cabernets that once defined Errazuriz, but a decision by his descendant, Eduardo Chadwick, to plant a vast vineyard close to the Pacific, has completely changed the face of the company. Those coastal hills are rich in schist, along with the granite more typical of Chile’s coast; for Francisco Baettig, those soils and the cold Pacific winds provided the opportunity he’d been waiting for since joining the team in 2003. Open to the possibilities of a completely undiscovered terroir, Baettig has developed some of the most exciting cool-climate wines in Chile. That experience has reflected back on the original inland vineyards, where Baettig has been farming for earlier harvests and fresher, brighter cabernet. —P.T.
TOP 100 WINERIES 2018
Ovum Migration Contino Tablas Creek Evening Land Vyds. King Estate
Donkey & Goat
Heitz Cellar Wine & S pirits Contino TOP100WINES
Evening Land Vyds. of 2018
Palacio de Fefiñanes
Some people think it’s only the big, bold wines that stand out in panel tastings. That’s not how it works out at W&S. We find even subtle great wines have the power to silence a table of tasters and compel us to slow down and take a closer look. Often, these wines are the ones that encourage the most conversation as well: They capture our imagination, excite us, and make us want to share them with others. We devote this section to the wines that brought the most excitement to our tastings over the last 12 months, the ones that stood out among the 15,000-plus that landed on our tasting tables in NYC and LA. Patrick J. Comiskey and Joshua Greene review the US wines; Greene also covers imported wines along with critics Stephanie Johnson, Patricio Tapia and Tara Q. Thomas. We’ve listed our respective territories on page 12.
Iron Horse Geyser Peak
Estate Argyrosx Corison Bodega Garzón Catena Zapata
Brooks Bellangelo Ridge
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Wine&Spirits TOP 100 WINES 95 | Evening Land Vyds.
U N I T E D STA T ES B E S T S PA R K L I N G
94 | Iron Horse
Green Valley of Russian River Valley Joy! ^ This is one of the best releases of Joy! we have encountered. It’s a reserve wine aged in magnum for more than a decade, a sparkling wine that will benefit from decanting, as air refreshes the flavors, taking them from toasty maturity, with notes of brioche and bloomyrind cheese, to fresh scents of meadows and just-cut hay. The richness and complexity continues to evolve over the course of a day. Pour it with Nettle Meadow Kunik, a cheese as evocative of its farmland as this wine is of its own. (W&S 12/17) §
matically precocious, exhibiting not just an exuberance of fruit, but complex lees character as well, in its spice, minerality and savor. The wine’s apple scents meld with brioche and meaty cured-bacon notes. It’s brisk on attack but turns mineral almost immediately, with a kind of talc-like grip to the texture that’s sure to cause hunger pangs; for halibut crudo. (W&S 12/17; 1,700 cases) §
95 | Hermann J. Wiemer
95 | Ovum
2016 Rogue Valley/Illinois Valley Gerber Vineyard Since I Fell For You Gewurztraminer ^ This gewurztraminer feels like a pinnacle for the variety: complex, full of grain and spice and floral scents. And yet it’s so generous, you’ll almost miss its complexity— the sunny litchi, apple and orange peel fruit character. The sensuous texture is a reminder of how great—and harmonious—gewurz can be. John House draws this fruit from Gerber Vineyard, a 40-year-old low-yielding, serpentine-rich site in the Illinois Valley. It’s a wine of exquisite poise. (W&S 2/18; 248 cases) §
2016 Seneca Lake Single Select Riesling ^ Fred Merwarth launched Single Select with the 2016 vintage, and intends to make it only when he considers conditions close to perfect. In this first release, he aimed for what he calls an auslese level of must weight, which he’s achieved, here, in a wine that comes in at 8.5 percent alcohol. The wine opens with the scent of warm fruit—peach, honeysuckle, Blenheim apricot, pineapple—and the flavors are as powerful and heady, with a spectacular line of acidity that runs through to the end, keeping those flavors lithe and fresh, long and lasting. (W&S 8/18; 200 cases) 9476
BEST PINOT GRIS
95 | Migration
2015 Eola–Amity Hills Summum Seven Springs Estate Chardonnay ^ A volcanic spine runs through the center of Seven Springs Vineyard. In winter, with the vines bare, it is easy to see—a ridge where the soils are unnervingly shallow. The rows in that block regularly contribute to the Summum chardonnay, and no matter how warm the vintage, its structure stands as if tethered to that spine. This 2015 is ample, smelling of golden apples and lees, and while the flavors are no less substantial, the wine remains texturally lean and focused, with vibrant acidity and a stony grip. This will reward patient cellaring. (W&S 4/18; 201 cases) §
2016 Sonoma Coast Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay ^ The Heintz family planted 25 acres of chardonnay in 1982, on the top of the second ridge inland from the Pacific. Grown in Goldridge soils over clay, these vines produced the most intriguing of the Migration chardonnays from 2016. There’s a pink cast to the fruit, the way the skin of Rainier cherries takes their whitefruit flavors into a deeper realm. That brisk fruit is ample enough to glisten, unfettered by the French oak barrels that Dana Epperson uses to ferment and age it. This wine’s clarity, refinement and apple-blossom scents develop as it opens with air, suggesting a long life ahead. (W&S 10/18; 178 cases) § 510908
94 | Brooks
93 | King Estate
2016 Willamette Valley Domaine Pinot Gris ^ Maybe it’s the vintage, or the wine’s youth, but this estate gris from King is dra-
2016 Eola–Amity Hills Orchard Fold Vineyard Riesling ^ Brooks is one of Oregon’s most dedicated riesling producers, and yet Chris Williams’ wines, to this taster, aren’t so much standard-bearers as arresting outliers, often fi ercely savory and idiosyncratic, hinting at fruit but not about fruit at all. This one, from a vineyard planted in 2007, is no exception, a wine that starts out savory, more about tone than flavor. There is a compact
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BUYING GUIDE 2019
Wine&Spirits TOP 100 WINES
package of wheat, Meyer lemon and lime flavor delivered with remarkable focus and freshness. It’s a tense, leesy and crisp riesling for contemplating, or pouring with herbroasted halibut. (W&S 2/18; 125 cases)
BEST SAUVIGNON BL ANCS
93 | Donkey & Goat
2016 El Dorado County Eliza Barsotti Vineyard ^ Working with Ron Mansfield, the Brandts planted a range of white Rhône varieties in 2010, using cuttings from Tablas Creek. They make this blend from clairette, picpoul, vermentino, roussanne and grenache blanc, allowing it to ferment without additions, then aging it in neutral French oak barrels. Initially focused on earthiness, this develops complex layers of flavor that keep giving nuances of pear skin, ramen broth and smoke. The texture feels supple, the flavors clean and rich. This is a fascinating wine to drink now with a trotter terrine, or to cellar and see what it might become. (W&S 8/18; 265 cases)
2017 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc ^ This grows at a block at the River Road Ranch, all Clone 1 sauvignon, fermented in stainless steel. It’s sexy sauvignon, with plenty of fresh tropical fruit to cushion the acidity, tart and mouthwatering enough that a sip might make you hungry. The wine only gets better with a day of air, integrating into a supple textural pleasure, lasting on notes of green melon and river stones. (W&S 8/18; 125 cases) §
93 | Heitz Cellar
93 | Thomas George
2017 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ^ Organically farmed at an estate vineyard on Howell Mountain, this sauvignon blanc grows at the lower elevations, in rocky, alluvial soils, at 750 feet. The freshness of the site comes through in citrus scents of grapefruit and tangerine, the full-bodied ripeness of Napa Valley fruit presented here in a clean white, its acidity integrated into a green-apple snap and spiciness that races through the finish. Pour it with seafood sausage. (W&S 8/18; 2,700 cases) §
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2016 Russian River Valley Rosé of Grenache ^ Immediately refreshing with the strawberry crush of fresh wild fruit, this wine’s exuberance is barely tamed by its pretty, silken texture. It comes from two vineyards Thomas George purchased in 2008, Baker Ridge, from Davis Bynum, and Starr Ridge, from Bynum’s longtime winemaker, Gary Farrell. Perked up by a lemongrass scent, it’s bold enough to serve with barbecued ribs and biscuits. (W&S 8/18; 303 cases) §
93 | Heitz Cellar
import and plant a range of Rhône varieties, helping to populate California’s vineyards with well-bred vines. This rosé is mostly grenache and mourvedre; it captures the cool side of Paso in its freshness, with bright flavors that could substitute for strawberries and cream at a Sunday morning tennis final. Fragrant, smooth and gracious, it’s a rosé that feels complete on its own, and completely integrated. (W&S 10/18) §
93 | Geyser Peak
BEST WHITE BLEND
93 | Tablas Creek
2017 Paso Robles Patelin de Tablas Rosé ^ This grows at the Haas family’s Rhône refuge in western Paso Robles, where they partnered with the Perrins of Château Beaucastel to
BUYING GUIDE 2019
2017 Napa Valley Grignolino Rosé ^ “The color and nose reminds me of Bugey-Cerdon,” said LA panelist Dana Farner. The wine is markedly aromatic, with scents of hibiscus and plums, but the flavors are tart and savory, bringing to mind ruby-red grapefruit and cured meats. Joe Heitz started making grignolino when he and his wife, Alice, purchased their first vineyard, eight acres in St. Helena planted solely to the variety. Farmed organically, it produces a wine that’s more an edgy red than a rosé, built to chill for charcuterie. (W&S 8/18; 700 cases) §
B E S T Z I N FA N D E L 511629
94 | Ravenswood
2015 Sonoma County Old Hill Vineyard Zinfandel ^ In 1981, when Otto Teller cleared the poison oak and blackberries at his parcel of William McPherson Hill’s original ranch, he found vines that were nearly 100 years old. They’d survived on St. George rootstock. Rather than rip them out, he found an interested buyer for the fruit in Joel Peterson, who has made a single-vineyard wine from Old Hill since 1983. Will Bucklin, the current owner, conducted a census of those vines and identified at least 14 varieties—mostly zinfandel, along with grenache, petite sirah, carignane and alicante bouschet. He continues to sell grapes to Peterson, who produced an elegant 2015 from the mix. It’s bright and juicy, lasting on cherry freshness, with earthy tannins adding spice to the succulent fruit. This is a delicious California classic, remarkably easy to drink. (W&S 6/18; 900 cases)
BEST CABERNET BLENDS 512995
94 | Pepper Bridge
2015 Walla Walla Valley Trine ^ Trine in 2015 leads with cabernet franc, the balance cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec and petit verdot, from four vineyards, three of which, Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge and Octave, are estate owned. It has a red-fruit core and a generous, suede-like texture, delivering firm, windswept grippiness in the end, with fine graphite tannins and the basalt-laden feel of minerality. Gorgeous now, this will reward those who cellar it. (W&S 10/18; 672 cases) §
to minimize intervention, what sets Monte Bello apart from other great north-coast cabernets is the decomposing limestone bedrock the vine roots use to sustain their foothold in these hills. Between the altitude and the limestone, this is cabernet with plenty of natural acidity; Baugher’s 2015, a concentrated vintage with low yields due to cold, stormy weather at flowering, feels particularly cool and brisk. “It has the skinny beauty of a supermodel,” said tastings editor Karen Moneymaker. Dark currant flavors, scents of tobacco and deep umami undertones all register in a clean, structured wine. Like other great vintages of Monte Bello, this should live for decades. (W&S 10/18)
BEST CABERNET SAUVIGNONS
94 | Delille
2015 Red Mountain Chaleur Estate ^ Chaleur Estate is about two-thirds cabernet with the balance merlot and cabernet franc. The 2015 is a formidable wine, lost in its structure when first poured, all waxy and granular. But with air, the flavors open into dusty blue-plum fruit. It’s firm and dense, and yet it moves, like a tree trying to walk with a thick trunk, as impressive for its movement as its ballast. (W&S 10/18; 380 cases) §
94 | Ridge
2015 Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello Vineyard ^ Eric Baugher heads up the team at Ridge’s Monte Bello estate, a collection of vineyards ranging in elevation from 1,300 to 2,700 feet, and a 19th-century stone winery near the top. Paul Draper made the first vintage of Monte Bello in 1969, a blend based on cabernet sauvignon to which he added other Bordeaux varieties depending on the season. Aside from Draper’s winegrowing, in which he insisted on maximum observation
96 | Diamond Creek
2014 Diamond Mountain District Napa Valley Red Rock Terrace Cabernet Sau vignon ^ Red Rock, with its deep, iron-rich soils, is often the most buxom of Diamond Creek’s cabernets. The terraced vines face north, that exposure further cooled by Pacific breezes crossing a cut in the Mayacamas and following the creek down past the vines. Cool fruit runs through this vintage, saturating the wine with scents of crushed strawberries and chewy black-cherry skins. It’s bright and zesty even as the structure is grand, gracious enough to be approachable as a young wine, concentrated and powerful enough to age for a decade. If you open this now, decant it for short ribs. (W&S 12/17; 508 cases) § 508366
95 | Alpha Omega
2014 Oakville Napa Valley Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ^ Jean Hoefliger, the Swiss-born winemaker at Alpha Omega, ferments his red wines long and slow in barrels, without added yeast. With extended maceration on the skins, this developed luscious fruit and lively tannins; together they sustain a bracing freshness. There’s nothing exaggerated about this wine; rather, there’s a sense of precision to its spicy finish, lasting on notes of cumin
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and cardamom to balance the fruit sweetness. Elegant and delicious. (W&S 12/17) § 511726
95 | Corison
2015 St. Helena Sunbasket Vyd. Cabernet Sauvignon ^ André Tchelistcheff originally planted this vineyard for Beaulieu and, three decades ago, Cathy Corison began working with fruit from the site, just north of her winery on the west side of Highway 29. She purchased the vineyard in 2014. This 2015 shines with the coolness of deep-rooted cabernet harvested at the right time. It’s full and lush, the flavors extending into a savory, redfruited finish, meaty and rich rather than sweet. Its concentration doesn’t get in the way of its dynamic energy, which brings out floral notes and cool spice, lasting with gentle grace. (W&S 8/18; 200 cases) 509234
95 | Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
2014 Napa Valley Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon ^ Winemaker Marcus Notaro makes this wine from two adjacent estate-owned vineyards farmed by Kirk Grace. Fay, with its alluvial soils, provides 44 percent of the blend in 2014; the balance comes from S.L.V., where the vines rise higher up the eastern bench of Stag’s Leap, rooted in the crush of volcanic rock that has washed down off the palisades. They combine in a cabernet with cool richness, layering fruit notes of chocolate and wild mushrooms with a rush of satiny fruit tannins. There are no barriers to obscure the wine’s youthful integration or its complexity, still incipient, but there in the breath for minutes, compellingly fresh and satiating in its savor. (W&S 2/18; 4,300 cases) §
BEST GRENACHE 514368
93 | aMaurice Cellars
2016 Yakima Valley Boushey Vineyard Grenache ^ This wine makes the case for Boushey being the right place for grenache. Its aromas of smoke and crushed red raspberries come at you in heady bursts; the flavors are fresh, red fruited and sweet, leavened with a flower-tip bitterness and earthen complexity. Its New World exuberance awaits ribs off the smoker. (W&S 10/18) §
BEST MERLOT 508746
94 | Keenan
2014 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Mailbox Vineyard Merlot ^ This has the depth and complexity of fruit grown in the mountains, in this case, a northwest-facing hillside high up Spring Mountain. It’s power90
WINE & SPIRITS
ful and concentrated, the flavors completely filling the structure with bright intensity. Oak age has smoothed some of the corners, buffing the rocky tannins with mocha notes. The wine’s freshness will carry it for five years or more. (W&S 12/17; 450 cases) §
BEST PINOT NOIRS 510790
95 | Big Basin Vineyards
2015 Santa Cruz Mountains Ben Lomond Mountain Coast Grand Vineyard Pinot Noir ^ Bradley Brown sources this fruit from Jim Beauregard’s vineyard in Bonny Doon, a site three miles from the Pacific and 1,300 feet above it, not far from a limestone quarry. He ferments this with whole bunches (about 70 percent of the fruit) and without added yeasts, creating a pinot noir with the energy, clarity and lift of a wine grown in limestone. It’s easy to believe you can smell the coastal forest, the ocean breeze and the limestone there in the wine, but whatever that smell actually might be, it’s pretty great. This is an exciting wine that translates the tectonic power of the Santa Cruz Mountains into elegance. (W&S 4/18; 45 cases) §
close to its northern boundary. He selected cuttings from his original 1980 planting, which, in turn, were cuttings from Jim Beauregard’s vines at Felton Empire in Santa Cruz. They’ve since been identified as a selection that included Pommard and Wädenswil material, and likely originated in Oregon. The combination of those plants and this coastal ridgetop produces grapes that give a deep black-cherry flavor, even as they allow the wine to retain a transparency to the ground, a view through the plump fruit to the earth. You might get lost in the coastal scents of nori or the bracing stem spice, but the energy of the wine keeps driving forward, eventually focusing your attention on its lasting delicacy and grace. If you love the evocative coastal pinots Ross Cobb was making at Hirsch through 2015, you’ll want this in your cellar. And if you don’t know them yet, this is a great place to start. (W&S 10/18; 340 cases) §
95 | The Withers
95 | Chapter 24
96 | Hirsch
2016 Willamette Valley Last Chapter Pinot Noir ^ Chapter 24’s Last Chapter used to be a blend of fruit from sedimentary soils and volcanic soils. This vintage reflects Chapter 24’s new exploration of basalt permutations, focusing on fruit grown on very rocky basalt sites, according to owner Mark Tarlov. When first poured, its varied spice brings to mind dancers doing warm-ups—each individually impressive, if not in harmony. Then the dance begins, and the beauty of the wine is in watching it harmonize. The spice notes move from a background fuzz of herbs to something fine-ground and precise; the fruit loses its jitteriness and becomes round and generous while retaining a pleasant tension. It feels confident and poised. (W&S 10/18) § 513229 2015 Sonoma Coast Block 8 Pinot Noir ^ David Hirsch planted this block in 1993, a parcel on the western ridge of his property,
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2016 Mendocino County Claire’s Vineyard Pinot Noir ^ Tense and dynamic, this wine has the fresh coastal air of a conifer forest in the uplands of the Mendocino coast. There’s a brisk, glimmering intensity to the red fruit that places it on top of a coastal ridge, a brilliant length of flavor combining fresh notes of forest mushrooms, stemmy scents of spice in the tannins and floral red fruit—a combination that inhabits your breath after you take a sip, and lasts in transparent shades of the original taste. This wine grows at the Peterson family’s vineyard in Comptche, grapes offered to Andrew Tow only for this year. He and his winemaker, David Low, cold soaked those grapes for a week, with 35 percent whole bunches; after a slow fermentation, they aged the wine in mostly old barrels, undisturbed for a year. Tow plans to use the Claire’s Vineyard label, named after his mother, for exceptional one-offs like this pinot noir. (W&S 10/18; 220 cases) §
B E ST R H O N E R E D B L E N D S
93 | Unti
93 | Bonterra
2013 Mendocino County Butler Ranch Vineyard The Butler ^ Matt Toloni is the organic farmer behind Bonterra’s biodynamic program, having earned Demeter certification for the Butler Ranch in 2004. This vineyard, west of Highway 101 near Ukiah, rises from 1,700 to 2,200 feet with east- and north-facing exposures. It produced a floral syrah in 2013, which Bob Blue blended with 20 percent of other varieties, including mourvedre, grenache and zinfandel. It has the fresh scent of roses and the deep purple tones of salted plums. Tense and spicy, with a clean line in the end, this is a delicious match for salumi. (W&S 12/17; 250 cases)
93 | Kukkula
2015 Adelaida District Aatto ^ Kevin Jussila was a home winemaker when he purchased an 80-acre Paso Robles walnut orchard in 2003. He has since planted close to 50 acres of vines, which he farms under organics, without irrigation. He ferments his wines without added yeasts and creates some unusual blends, like this one, which combines counoise, mourvedre and grenache in a muscular, lean and deliciously red fruited wine. It has Paso’s effusive ripeness, but it’s tempered by a lean, mineral-inflected tannic structure that sustains and focuses the flavors. Decant a bottle for slow-braised pork shanks. (W&S 6/18) § 509754
2015 Dry Creek Valley Cuvée Foudre ^ This blend of grenache, mourvedre and syrah aged together in foudre. Unti believes it gains its flavor intensity by cutting the crop back to one cluster per shoot. The wine has the comforting feel of an old-fashioned California red, ample and spicy, its power emphasizing flavor depth. Notes of red raspberry, cumin and smoked peppers combine in a generous wine to decant and enjoy while you’re grilling eggplant and lamb. (W&S 2/18; 270 cases) § 512145
95 | Drew
95 | Melville
95 | VGS Chateau Potelle
2016 Mendocino Ridge Valenti Ranch Syrah ^ When it was first poured, I liked this wine, clearly built for Rhône-heads with its cracked-green-peppercorn spice and porky intensity. But then I fell in love with it the next day. As it opens, it turns stemmy in the best way, and races, fragrant, rosy, with the scent of freshly turned earth and tart red fruit. I could drink this all night, starting with a thick-cut pork chop, then with aged Comté, then just on its own. Valenti Ranch, an east-facing ridge six miles from the Pacific, consistently grows some of California’s best syrahs (I’ve scored Drew’s 2008 and 2011 95 points or better; Luke Sykora scored the 2014 at the same level). Jason Drew makes this wine without added yeasts and with 50 percent whole clusters, cofermenting the fruit with a little viognier. Get some. (W&S 8/18; 100 cases) § 513493 2016 Santa Rita Hills Donna’s Syrah ^ The sand at Donna’s Block is 20 feet deep, well drained and lacking much in terms of nutrients for the vines. Chad Melville ferments the grapes from those vines as whole clusters, then ages the wine for a year in neutral French oak. The result is a wine with intensity and length of flavor, rather than any excess weight. It smells coastal, like beach roses in a sand dune, and it feels as curvaceous as a dune, salty, spicy, floral and shaped by the wind. The flavors are delicious and remarkably long. (W&S 10/18; 584 cases) 508409 2015 Mt. Veeder Napa Valley Syrah ^ This grows at a south-facing vineyard at 1,600 feet in elevation, where the syrah vines have been dry farmed since 1970. It’s free-run juice, fermented without stems and without added yeast, then aged in new French oak barriques for 16 months, though the wine seems to have completely subsumed the oak
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into its vinous flavors. This starts off on black peppercorn spice, scents of freshly ground meat and roasted fine herbs. It’s perfumed and precisely structured, with muscular tannins that gain detail and stature with air. Completely savory, this is a tense syrah with a long life ahead. (W&S 12/17; 389 cases) §
malbec with the clarity of tart black fruit that defines this high-altitude zone. The acidity is lively, and the tannins are dense, enveloping the violet-scented fruit. This should age well. (W&S 6/18) § Winesellers, Niles, IL
94 | Bellangelo
2015 Finger Lakes Berry Select Riesling ^ From the Kashong Glen vineyard, on the upper-west shoreline of Seneca Lake, this inaugural bottling took advantage of a warm vintage and exceptional botrytis conditions in 2015. The wine offers up its flavors in a range of sunset golds—pumpkin spice and golden raisin, saffron, cinnamon and goldenrod. It turns toward dried, concentrated fruit, laced with candied orange peel and a richness that’s hard to overstate. There’s barely any of it, but if you find a bottle, it will benefit from cellar time. (W&S 2/18; 10 cases) §
A RGE N T I N A BEST CHARDONNAY 122410
96 | Catena Zapata
2015 Mendoza White Bones Adrianna Vineyard Chardonnay ^ Catena planted the Adrianna Vineyard in 1996 in Gualtallary, pioneering what is today one of the most sought-after regions in the Uco Valley. Winemaker Alejandro Vigil selects one area of the vineyard especially rich in alluvial chalk for this chardonnay. He ages the wine in 500-liter barrels, allowing a veil of yeast to develop, lending saline notes, like those of a Fino Sherry. As the wine opens, bright white fruit gains precedence, along with the penetrating mineral notes. White Bones seems to distill the desert soils of Gualtallary in a crystal clear and brilliant way. A delight to drink now, it has enough inner strength to last for a decade. (W&S 8/18) § The Winebow Group, NY
BEST MALBEC 122014
95 | Zuccardi
2014 Paraje Altamira Aluvional ^ Altamira had been a coveted region for vineyards in the Uco Valley for more than a century when Zuccardi and several other producers set out to define its boundaries as an appellation. They gained approval in 2014 and now label their wines Paraje Altamira. This one comes from vines planted ten to 15 years ago, those young vines producing a fierce, monolithic 92
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95 | Grosset
2017 Clare Valley Springvale Riesling ^ This wine comes from a vineyard in Watervale, planted at an elevation of 1,500 feet in red loam over limestone. Jeffrey Grosset finds the site is less stressful for riesling’s droughtsensitive roots than his vineyard at Polish Hill. This wine’s fierce, linear structure seems to speak of limestone while its flavors have a Clare Valley accent of lime blossoms and orange peel—delicate and filigreed, lean and rocky. With a day of air, the texture develops creamy richness and the dense flavors show their depths more fully. If you want to get the most out of this wine, cellar it for a decade, and store away enough bottles to enjoy through its second decade. (W&S 10/18) § Hudson Wine Brokers, Los Angeles, CA
96 | Henschke
2016 McLaren Vale Warboys Vineyard Grenache ^ This grows on a two-acre parcel planted in 1964, a north-facing slope at the highest part of the Angove family’s vineyard on Chalk Hill Road. The vineyard is certified biodynamic, the wine organic, fermented by ambient yeasts, half the grapes left in whole bunches at the bottom of the open fermenters, foot trod as the wine grew close to dry. Aged in old oak puncheons and bottled unfiltered, this is a classical grenache, its spicy greenolive scents and darker, tarry notes reading as both muscular and elegant. Light in color and deceptively simple in its first impression, it requires time for the formidable tannins and the intriguing leathery notes to reveal its old-vine provenance and its limestone soils, predicting a long future ahead. (W&S 10/18) § Trinchero Family Estates, St. Helena, CA 123029
BUYING GUIDE 2019
2017 McLaren Vale The Fugazi Vineyard Grenache ^ Taras and Amber Ochota make this from 68-year-old vines growing on a rise in Blewitt Springs. It’s not what you might expect from McLaren grenache, though it is what you might expect from the winery: dynamic, crazy-delicious wine. They ferment it with 80 percent whole clusters, starting with seven days of cold maceration, then allow the fruit to warm up so it begins to ferment on its own, leaving the juice in contact with the grape skins for 80 days. Bottled after six months resting in older French barriques, the wine feels completely knit, light and fresh, with scents of green peppercorn, green olive and delicate red fruit ghosting a trail of flavor that draws you back to the glass—a kind of salty, spicy magnetism. Deanna Gonnella, a chef on staff who wrote about her recent conversion to grenache (Fall 2018), suggested serving this with lamb braised in white wine, mint, chile peppers, red onions and a late addition of steamed clams. (W&S 10/18) § Vine Street Imports, Mount Laurel, NJ 121307
94 | Angove
94 | Ochota Barrels
2012 Eden Valley Hill of Grace Shiraz ^ The original vines were 100 years old when Cyril Henschke made the first vintage of Hill of Grace, named for the Gnadenberg Church that watches over the vineyard. His family had sustained those vines while propagating new blocks from the “Grandfathers,” a program his nephew Stephen Henschke has sustained, in part, by marrying well—his wife, Prue, is one of Australia’s leading viticulturists and has dedicated no small part of her career to studying what sets the Hill of Grace vineyard apart and developing selections from its ancient vines. While rarity and demand have sent the price into the stratosphere of the world’s top wines, this 55th vintage stands in that company with the kind of clarity and numinous elegance few parcels of vines in the world can give. It has the weightless concentration of flavor that transforms meaty black cherry, licorice and olive notes into a lasting impression of freshness. It’s also there in the texture, which feels ample, rich and as transparent as fine silk. A great vintage of Hill of Grace, the 2012 will likely reach peak drinking between ten and 20 years from the vintage, and will live well for decades. (W&S 2/18) § Negociants USA/The Winebow Group, NY
A UST RI A
before serving; better yet, leave it in the cellar for a few years. (W&S 4/18) § Artisan Wines, Norwalk, CT
BEST RIESLING 228588
96 | Weszeli
2015 Kamptal Seeberg Erste Lage Riesling ^ This smells like a farmer’s market in August, stands of ripe peaches and tiny apricots up against others selling cut flowers and herbs. Those sweet smells lead into a riesling that’s as rich and silky as a lemon pastry cream. The acidity sparkles, as if reflecting the mica particles in the schist in this vineyard, a parcel of 40-year-old vines that Davis Weszeli farms without chemical inputs. Perhaps it’s the mica, and the chalk underlying it, that gives the wine a sense of light delicacy despite its weight, or maybe it’s the cool winds from the nearby Waldwiertel forests that counter the Pannonian warmth. Either way, it’s an elegant, full-bodied riesling, built for the cellar or decanting with roast pork. (W&S 4/18) § Savio Soares Selections, NY
Our Score Definitions
CHIL E BEST CHARDONNAY 121164
96 | Errázuriz
B E S T G R U N E R V E LT L I N E R
2016 Aconcagua Valley Las Pizarras Chardonnay ^ This is the best chardonnay I have tasted from Chile. Winemaker Francisco Baettig selected the fruit for it from the Manzanar vineyard in westernmost Aconcagua, less than seven miles from the sea. The slate soils there seem to have had a strong influence on this wine, giving it a powerful structure, an internal skeleton of tannins and acidity overlain with fleshy fruit and peppery notes. With a strong presence on the palate, it shows additional layers of earth, flowers and herbal notes, all melting in that tense structure, surrounded by a persistent and deep acidity. (W&S 8/18) § Vintus, Pleasantville, NY
95 | Fritsch
2015 Wagram Erste Lage Mordthal Grüner Veltliner ^ Karl Fritsch specializes in grüner veltliner, and has tended his vines biodynamically since 2006. Mordthal is one of his most prized parcels, a south-facing patch of loess over slate. In the warmth of 2015, it produced a wine that rendered our tasting panel near speechless. In part, it’s the way the satiny fruit wraps around the mouth, leaving impressions of honeyed peach and pineapple without any weight. In part, it’s because of the profound mineral tone, somewhere between dashi and clean, wet stone. Those flavors last for minutes, striking an impressive balance between sweet and savory, lush and precise. (W&S 4/18) § Monika Caha Selections/Frederick Wildman and Sons, NY
95 | De Martino
2016 Itata Valley Viejas Tinajas Trehuaco Muscat ^ Fermented with the grape skins and aged in old clay amphorae, this muscat is a journey into the past, back to the way whites were made in the Itata Valley before modern technology arrived. The fruit comes off ancient vines on granitic hillsides in Trehuaco, delivering a wine that’s fragrant with floral scents and hugely concentrated. Close your eyes and the structure and texture may lead you to believe you’re drinking a red wine. Fascinating now, this needs five years in the bottle to show its best. (W&S 8/18) § Broadbent Selections, San Francisco, CA
BEST SAUVIGNON BL ANC
94 | Casa Marín
BEST RIESLING 121887
93 | Hidden Bench
CA N A DA
2015 Beamsville Bench Felseck Riesling ^ Felseck sits in a curve of the Niagara Escarpment that’s particularly rich in limestone. In 2015, the wine it gave is ferociously mineral, a tight, tangy mouthful of stony flavor catapulted forward by grapefruity acidity. Yet for all its austerity, the wine feels rich, almost waxy in its density, a smooth, sleek texture to sheath its impressive musculature. If you open it now, decant
W&S scores are based on quality and distinctive regional character, to help you find delicious wines grown and made with integrity.
100 Transcendent A wine that speaks directly from the earth, communicating the flavors of its place with unequaled complexity and intensity; it will offer pleasure for decades.
96 to 99 Astonishing, Rare A wine that saturates the senses with flavors that feel unique and thrilling; a rare landmark for its region.
93 to 95 Exciting, Distinctive A wine that transcends simple typicity to its region or variety—a vivid, singular expression of place.
90 to 92 Delicious, Compelling A compelling wine of its region; a delicious, finessed expression of a place.
88 to 89 Delicious, Representative Well-made, pleasurable and true to its region or variety.
2017 Lo Abarca San Antonio Cipreses Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ^ From the rural village of Lo Abarca, where vines rise up limestone-and-granite hills facing the cool winds off the Pacific, Cipreses is Casa Marín’s most pointedly tense sauvignon blanc. In 2017, the herbal aromas join mineral notes and tropical fruit scents that speak of the warmth of the harvest. It has the broad texture of the wines of Lo Abarca, but also that particularly firm acidity that characterizes them. Grand and enveloping, the finish brings to mind fresh pears and herbs. (W&S 8/18) § Domaine Select Wine Estates, NY
85 to 87 Balanced, Crowd Pleasing Identifiable in style and regional character, and qualitatively solid.
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80 to 84 Useful Simple wine that will either quench thirst or play a useful role at the table.
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Wine&Spirits TOP 100 WINES
BEST CARMENERE 121952
95 | Concha y Toro
2014 Cachapoal Valley Terrunyo Block 27 Peumo Vineyard Carmenère ^ The Peumo Vineyard extends along the north bank of the Cachapoal River, on the hillsides of the Coastal Range. This carmenère is selected from vines planted in the 1970s, with a little cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc added to enhance the wine’s tannic structure. Taste it and you might immediately think of ordering duck breast for dinner. It has flavors of blue fruit as well as carmenère’s typical herbal notes, while the sanguine character adds complexity. The tannins are soft yet firm, backed by tense acidity. (W&S 6/18) § Fetzer Vineyards, Hopland, CA
FRANCE BEST ALSACE WHITES 224633
96 | Dom. Marcel Deiss
2012 Alsace Rotenberg 1er Cru La Colline Rouge ^ This south-facing hill, a slab of oolitic limestone covered in iron-rich red soil, is Deiss’s first site to ripen in Bergheim. It’s planted to riesling and pinot gris, which he harvests and ferments together into what, in 2012, might best be described as a Greta Garbo silent-movie kiss, sweet and smoky. The riesling side is fresh, luscious peach, while the gris side takes it to the smoke of a grilled peach, the flavor density edging toward bay leaf, herbs and minerals. It’s open and beautiful, a joyous white, delicious with grilled swordfish. (W&S 4/18) § Verity Wine Partners, NY 227443
96 | Gustave Lorentz
2010 Alsace Altenberg de Bergheim A 1.23 Grand Cru Riesling ^ Georges Lorentz farms 30 acres in the historic Altenberg vineyard and began converting to organic viticulture in 2009. The clay-limestone soils produced a fragrant riesling with chalky pallor, an ornate wine layering scents of brioche and lime leaf over flavors of tart white cherries that seem to glow. It’s dynamic and delicious, but the silky texture of the wine takes it to another level. Substantial and savory in its opulent umami depths, this is a riesling for braised rabbit with spaetzle and chanterelles. (W&S 4/18) § Quintessential, Napa, CA
BEST BURGUNDY WHITES 228741
97 | Etienne Sauzet
2015 Montrachet Grand Cru ^ Emilie Boudot is the fourth generation to run this family 94
WINE & SPIRITS
domaine, working with her father, Gérard, and her husband, Benoît Riffault. They own no land in Montrachet, but arrange to purchase must from Baron Thenard, bringing their barrels to the press. There’s nothing withheld in this wine, its naked energy singing with limestone harmonies and sweet meadow notes. The buzzing excitement, the remarkable length of flavor (something like wildflower honey, spring grasses and pineapple) and the immediacy of the scent turns awesome when you realize how quiet and refined the wine is. If luxury is the ability to see a beautiful future, this Montrachet owns it. (W&S 4/18) § Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL 228022
96 | Alain Chavy
2015 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières ^ Alain Chavy’s cellar is unusually deep for Puligny, 18 feet underground, providing a cold delay to the start of malolactic fermentation, lengthening the slow evolution of this wine in 228-liter barrels and 400-liter puncheons. Chavy inoculates his fermentations, and lets the wine rest with little lees stirring, creating a Puligny with clarity and energy. Not to mention the most glorious, floral buzz. That scent only gets more inviting and seductive as the wine opens over the course of several days, its flinty reduction turned away from the shadows toward the sun. It’s worth the price of admission just to smell this wine, and it should reward long cellaring. (W&S 4/18) § Craft + Estate/The Winebow Group, NY
B E S T C H A M PA G N E S 226016
96 | Dom Pérignon
2000 Champagne P2 Brut ^ P2 marks the second release of this vintage, disgorged at a moment when chef de cave Richard Geoffroy finds it reaching a second peak of expression. He chose a pretty great moment. This 2000 transcends the richness of the vintage to combine that lusciousness with freshness. The riches come across in notes of brown butter, hazelnut and dried shiitake mushrooms. The freshness layers those flavors with an acidity that tastes like crystalized ginger, adding crunch to the depths of flavor, driving complexity that ghosts from taste to memory. It’s rare to write “yummy” and “regal” in the same tasting note but this is both. (W&S 12/17) § Moët Hennessy USA, NY. 225026
96 | Larmandier-Bernier
2010 Champagne Premier Cru Terre de Vertus Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs ^ Pierre and Sophie Larmandier farm all their vine-
BUYING GUIDE 2019
yards under biodynamics, including Les Barillers and Les Faucherets, two southeastfacing parcels, mid-slope, in Vertus that provide for this wine. Their farming is geared, in part, to sustain a microbiological population in the vineyard, which then enables a long, slow fermentation, some of the fruit in barrels, some in wooden casks or stainlesssteel tanks. They leave the wine on the lees for close to a year, then, without fining or filtering, send it to rest in bottles. The wine is remarkably delicate, subtle and complex for a Brut Nature, a naked beauty that smells a bit like springtime chamomile and tastes like yellow peaches in summer. It is, in fact, as much a food as a wine, with the fatness and silkiness of salmon sashimi. In the end, the flavors resonate with a brisk and powerful freshness that offers the kind of satisfaction you might get from a meal of seared wild salmon with polenta and chanterelles. (W&S 12/17) § Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, NY. 227028
96 | Bruno Paillard
2002 Champagne Nec Plus Ultra Extra Brut ^ While wise Champagne collectors will have stored their 2002s, there are few wines left in the market from this astonishing vintage. Bruno Paillard waited to release his top cuvée until this year, the wine just beginning to transition from freshness to maturity, carrying the scent of a bushel basket filled with apples that only grow more fragrant as they rest into the fall. Its pale gold color is deepening with age, as are its delicate rose spice, scents of honeysuckle and creamy flavors of pear, all intertwined, each note playing off the energy of the others so the wine reverberates with complexity. The brisk freshness sustains those flavors over the course of several days, suggesting this has a long life ahead. (W&S 12/17) § Verity Wine Partners, NY.
96 | Louis Roederer
2009 Champagne Cristal Brut ^ This opulent vintage of Cristal has the ethereal earthiness of sun on limestone. Its chalky minerality is polished to a spherical shape, holding the wine’s ripe notes of fresh peach and hints of meadow flowers. The acidity and the bubbles add to the sense of harmony, making this accessible and enjoyable to drink now, but
its value lies in the elegance and refinement this wine will sustain as it evolves in bottle. (W&S 12/17) § Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Oakland, CA.
BEST PROVENCE ROSÉ
BEST L ANGUEDOC WHITE 229756
93 | Domaine de la Réserve d’O
2016 Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert La Réserve d’O Blanc ^ Marie and Frédéric Chauffray farm several patches of old vines in the heights of the Terraces du Larzac, including a one-acre mixed planting of grenache blanc, roussanne and chenin blanc. As chenin isn’t allowed under the Terraces appellation, they’ve declassified it to Saint-Guilhem-leDésert, but there’s nothing downmarket about this white. It’s rich and salty, with the sweet savor of the beeswax in a honeycomb and the scent of flowers adding delicacy. The wine lasts, firm and dense, with a meaty, brothy note that gives it a sense of breadth without getting weighty. It would be delicious with a parmesan risotto, or simply salty ham. (W&S 6/18) § Cape Classics, NY
BEST LOIRE WHITES 228606
93 | Domaine Vacheron
2016 Sancerre Les Romains ^ This grows on a south-facing hillside of flint-rich soils, with some of the Vacherons’ oldest vines. Farmed under biodynamics, this ferments with no additions and ages in older barriques. It’s bottled without fining or filtration and presents itself with crackling energy, fleshy, round and rich. There’s an oceanic brininess, notes of floral herbs and a pomelo flavor that all come together in a wine to serve with Belon oysters, or a salad of goat cheese and arugula. (W&S 4/18) § North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, CA 228348
95 | Dom. Vincent Carême
2014 Vouvray Le Peu Monrier ^ Vincent Carême earned organic certification for his 42-acre domaine, including the two adjacent parcels of 50-year-old vines that provide fruit for Le Peu Monrier. He makes this wine in 400-liter barrels, ten percent of them new, leaving the wine to rest on the lees for ten months after spontaneous fermentation. It’s a massive Vouvray, all about white tuffeau soil and vertical structure, a wine that will need years to mellow from its powerful youth toward grandeur (it’s already pretty awesome). Fresh, firm, stony and brisk, hinting at apple skin and lemon zest, this will reward patient cellaring. (W&S 4/18) § Cape Classics, NY
95 | Domaines Ott
2017 Côtes de Provence Château de Selle ^ The Château de Selle sits on a limestone slope in the forested inland reaches of Provence. The soil is nearly half rock and the sun is intense, an imposing landscape for cultivating anything, yet this rosé is one of the most elegant we tasted from the 2017 vintage. The concentration of the fruit comes through in the wine’s luxurious satin texture, while the flavors remain restrained—hints of melon, lemon and red cherry highlighting its earthy savor. It’s very pale, but don’t let the hue fool you: It’s structured and mineral, a firm rosé that wouldn’t be out of place at Le Bernardin. (W&S 8/18) § Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Oakland, CA
BEST BEAUJOL AIS REDS 232714
95 | Louis Claude Desvignes
95 | Charly Thévenet
2016 Morgon La Voûte Saint-Vincent Claude-Emmanuelle Desvignes and her brother, Louis Benoît, are eighth-generation winegrowers in Morgon. They blend this wine from their parcels, with an average age of 45 years, where the soils are sandy and granitic. They destem half of the grapes and ferment the wine in cuves, then age it for ten months in concrete. The resulting structure derives from the buzzing freshness of the grapes and the rooty, mineral drive of their skin and stem tannins. The wine feels complete, moving from roses to dark fruit and then taking a deep dive into earthy savor. Built to develop with age, this will benefit from aging five years or more. (W&S 10/18) § Louis/Dressner Selections, NY 232189 2016 Régnié Grain & Granit ^ Still in his twenties, Charly Thévenet worked with his father, Jean-Paul, as well as with Marcel Lapierre, before purchasing his own 7.5-acre parcel in Régnié. The vines, planted in 1932 and 1946, grow in the foothills of the Côte
Wine&Spirits TOP 100 WINES
du Py; he farms them with strategies adopted from biodynamics, sustaining the health of the vines and the microbiology of the vineyard, including yeasts that he then allows to spontaneously ferment the grapes as whole clusters. Aged in old Burgundy barrels and bottled without fining or filtering, his 2016 is immediately welcoming. It’s a delicate, ethereal beauty that may give you the kind of silky satisfaction that’s rare outside of Chambolle, here delivered as the essence of Régnié, as in gamay, granite and some talented microbes doing remarkably precise work. You might find green-peppercorn spice, rose-petal perfume and elegant red fruit, or you may just find a glorious wine that will have you rethinking Beaujolais. (W&S 10/18) § Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
BEST BURGUNDY RED 228631
98 | Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé
2015 Musigny Grand Cru Cuvée Vieilles Vignes ^ Recently, I had the opportunity to taste the 1978 and 1976 Vogüé from the cellar of George Sape, a collector who helped organize a weekend of Musigny with Clive Coates, MW. The ’78 in particular was still muscular and fresh, so I wonder how long this 2015 might possibly live, given its remarkable form as a young wine. François Millet makes the wines at the domaine, which owns the lion’s share of this vineyard. He selects fruit from the older vines, at least 40 years old, for this cuvée, limited to 1,000 cases in each vintage. His viticulture is traditional, basically organic though not certified, the grapes destemmed, spontaneously fermented in wooden vats, and aged in barrels, up to 35 percent new. The initial scent of this wine is sunny and glorious, followed by a flavor that completely coats the mouth and won’t wash away with water, if anyone would want to be rid of it. There’s freshness to the fruit that takes you to summer, and floral scents that take you to spring, while a rooty umami depth to its silken luxury brings you to heady autumn afternoons. All those flavors develop in a minor key, or in negative space, the fruit not fruit, the density transparent, a wine you can breathe for minutes after each taste. Sexy Musigny. (W&S 4/18) § North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, CA
BEST LOIRE RED 227631
94 | Charles Joguet
2014 Chinon Les Varennes du Grand Clos ^ Charles Joguet was a sculptor and painter 96
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when he took over his family’s vineyards in 1957. He began to bottle his own wine and determined to keep the parcels separate, a practice that paid off, given the family’s prime holdings, like this 11.4-acre parcel at the base of a gravelly hillside. Today, the vines at this site date to 1962 and 1976 and are farmed with organic practices by Kevin Fontaine. They produce a sophisticated Chinon with red-currant briskness and a floral buzz. Luscious and giving, it feels electric, the kind of franc that’s hard to resist, and that works so well with kidneys, liver or other iron-rich meats. (W&S 4/18) § Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
BEST PROVENCE RED 230585
95 | Domaine Tempier
2015 Bandol ^ While many French regions suffered from the heat in 2015, Daniel Ravier reports that Bandol’s vines were sustained by abundant winter rains, providing enough soil moisture to make it through the heat. His 2015 is sunny and generous in fragrant berry fruit, but it also radiates freshness. The flavors feel like they are delivered by herbscented breeze, they so subtly and gently fill the head with fragrance. Mourvèdre’s power reads in the wine’s leather and smoke scents, but there’s nothing rustic about this: It’s long, elegant and totally delicious, and should develop for another decade at least. (W&S 8/18) § Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
BEST RH ONE RED 232247
97 | Domaine Pégau
2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée da Capo ^ Laurence Féraud joined her father, Paul Féraud, in the family winery in 1987, helping him shift the focus from selling juice to bottling their own wines. Today, their estate is one of the region’s top names, farming nearly 52 acres spread throughout Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Da Capo is their top bottling, produced only in years the duo agrees are exceptional, and focused on the fruit of their oldest vines, some of which date to 1905. All of Châteauneuf’s 13 grape varieties are represented in the blend, fermented with their stems and ambient yeasts in cement tanks; the wine then rested for two years in old oak casks. One whiff of this 2015 might transport you directly to a sunny day in the southern Rhône, with its fresh, herbal breeziness and lush, ripe fruit tones. But it’s the way those scents and flavors array on the palate that’s exceptional, with a precision that brings to mind the clean lines and harmonic
BUYING GUIDE 2019
colors of an English garden. It feels well cultivated instead of worked, the flavors transparent, layered, held aloft by a fine-boned structure that keeps the wine vibrant for days after opening. Delicious now, this should age well for the next 20 years. (W&S 10/18) § Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, VA
BEST DESSERT 224934
96 | Domaine ZindHumbrecht
2009 Alsace Rangen de Thann Grand Cru Clos St-Urbain Sélection de Grains Nobles Pinot Gris ^ A cool, sunny October in the high altitudes of Rangen de Thann allowed botrytis to concentrate flavor and punch up the acidity in this selection of pinot gris. That freshness boosts the glorious, sunny ripeness of the fruit, the sweetness of a fermentation that stopped at 12 percent alcohol and converted into sexy, saturated richness. The flavors are both delightful and profound, layering orange and peppermint, apricot and curry, lasting with buzzing energy that takes the wine out of the realm of dessert and raises it to its own context, a wine to enjoy anytime and anywhere. (W&S 4/18) § Kobrand, Purchase, NY
GERMANY BEST MOSEL RIESLINGS 226946
95 | Clemens Busch
95 | Karthäuserhofberg
2015 Mosel Marienburg-Fahrlay Riesling GG ^ One look at the slippery slope of blueslate shards covering Fahrlay, and you have to wonder why anyone would be crazy enough to tend vines here. This wine provides an answer. Clemens Busch farms his ownrooted vines biodynamically, and vinifies this wine slowly, with ambient yeasts in large casks, creating a riesling with kaleidoscopic flavors. It’s tangy and salty, mineral notes playing off of a mix of citrus and orchard fruit, with green notes that recall aloe in their mellow richness. Try not to drink it all at once, so you can watch the flavors evolve over the course of a week. That might be challenging, however, as the wine is so silky that it’s immediately inviting. (W&S 2/18) § Louis/Dressner Selections, NY 225297 2016 Mosel Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese ^ This has the quivering delicacy of blancmange, luscious, creamy and as light as air. The wine feels fine and translucent, the flavors in shades of white, from pear, quince and pale apple to white
Wine&Spirits TOP 100 WINES peppercorns and chalk; the acidity whisks through it like a cool breeze, ruffling those gauzy layers and sending them soaring. For lift and elegance, this is hard to beat, especially if there’s Dungeness crab or sashimi to match. (W&S 2/18) § Massanois Imports, NY
BEST RHEINHESSEN RIESLING 224636
96 | Dreissigacker
2013 Rheinhessen Bechtheimer Geyers berg QbA Trocken ^ After working with Rheinhessen star winemaker Klaus-Peter Keller, Jochen Dreissigacker returned to his family’s estate in 2001 and set about converting its 51 acres to organic viticulture. Working in the winery with ambient yeasts, gentle pressings and old, large casks, he turned out a trocken riesling in 2013 that feels like it might last for 20 years or more. While it shows its maturity in its rich yellow hue and warm grilled-fruit flavors, it tastes tangy and alive, a lean, stony wine with a mouthwatering salinity. That briny note seems to propel the flavors like water over river stones, a constant, steady flow with clarity and direction, ever-refreshing. (W&S 2/18) § Schatzi Wines, NY
B E ST R H E I N G A U R I E S L I N G
GRE EC E BEST SANTORINI 231540
93 | Domaine Sigalas
2016 Santorini 7 Villages Vourvoulos ^ Culled from a collection of parcels in Vourvoulos, a warm spot inland from Imerovigli, this is one of the most generous and expansive wines in Sigalas’s 7 Villages collection, the fruit tropical in its ripeness and pumped up by ample alcohol (14.4%). It might seem blowsy if it weren’t for the salty grip of the acidity, which cinches the wine and holds it tight for several days once the bottle is opened. (W&S 8/18) § Diamond Importers, Chicago, IL
BEST MAL AGOUSIA 230292
94 | Ktima Gerovassiliou
2016 Epanomi Single Vineyard Mala gousia ^ “It’s the Château Grillet of northern Greece,” one taster remarked. Like that famous French viognier, this malagousia stakes its own place among the many in Greece with its satin texture and restrained floral notes. Gerovassiliou has been working with the variety since the 1970s, when he propagated it from an experimental plot at Porto Carras; it’s now the leading variety at his 138-acre estate south of Thessaloniki. His 2016 is bright and fresh, with a sea-salt edge that suggests serving it al fresco with grilled fish. (W&S 8/18) § Cava Spiliadis, Astoria, NY
BEST NAOUSSA 231349
95 | Boutari 226942
97 | Robert Weil
2016 Rheingau Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Beerenauslese ^ The spring of 2016 didn’t start out auspiciously: It rained from mid-May through June. But the berries that made it through enjoyed a warm, sunny spell that lasted through August, followed by the warmest September Wilhelm Weil can remember. That weather allowed him to wait for a prodigiously ripe BA. What’s most impressive, however, is how this wine delivers that sweetness: in a shimmery stream of satin-textured, multihued flavor. That flavor soars, the mineral tones magnifying and enhancing the fruit like a shower of sea salt. Everything is so perfectly balanced that the wine doesn’t actually register as sweet; it’s sumptuous, seamless, a thing of beauty. (W&S 2/18) § Loosen Bros. USA, Salem, OR
2011 Naoussa Grande Reserve ^ “This is like old-school ’90s hip-hop,” said Dimitrios Manousakis of Greca in NYC. “It’s classic— and shows why classics last.” Tangy, earthy, spicy and smoky, the wine is filled with flavor yet carries itself with grace. From a long, even-keeled vintage, it feels fresh and fine, its vivid cherry flavors given dimension by notes of cherry pit and leaf, its truffle notes propelled toward freshness by vibrant acidity. The wine lasts on firm, ferrous tannins, the flavors fading slowly towards caramel and roasted nuts, salty and appealing. (W&S 8/18) § Terlato Wines Int’l, Lake Bluff, IL
ITALY BEST FRIULI WHITE 232524
96 | Skerk
2015 Venezia Giulia Malvazija ^ Sandi Skerk ferments the malvasia grapes for this wine on the skins for ten days, punching down the cap four or five times a day, to coax an astonishing range of flavors from the fruit while maintaining impeccable clarity and balance. His vines are rooted in a thin layer of red soil over limestone on the terraced hillside below his cellar in Prepotto, a village in Friuli’s Carso region that’s less than half a mile from the Slovenian border. The warm 2015 growing season produced a wine with ripe flavors of peach, apricot and tangerine that provide a juicy balance to its chewy apricot-skin tannins. The flavors expand with exposure to air, revealing notes of ginger, chamomile and white pepper while maintaining gorgeous scents of orange blossom and honey. Densely concentrated yet graceful and energetic, the wine ends with savory notes that suggest it would match well with cured meats or even foie gras. (W&S 10/18) § T. Edward Wines, NY
BEST PIEDMONT RED 226145
97 | Sandrone
100 | Estate Argyros
over his family’s estate in 1974, gave careful consideration to the grapes that went into his Vinsanto, particularly the honeyed aidani and floral athiri, two varieties that play a supporting role to the assyrtiko that forms the wine’s base. He also instituted an aging regimen in small, old barrels to create complex Vinsantos. This one, released by his son Mattheos, who now runs the estate, took at least two months to ferment, due to the sweetness of the sun-dried grapes, and then mellowed in barrel for 20 years. With 255 grams per liter of residual sugar, it’s technically incredibly sweet. But in the midst of the cathedral of rich flavors—dark, figgy fruit building into notes of dried cherries, salt, herbs and candied orange peel—there’s a beam of acidity that brings light and openness to the wine’s structure. The wine feels at once fresh and mature—or ageless, really. Argyros’s best Vinsantos can age for 30 years or more: This is one of them. (W&S 8/18) § Craft + Estate/The Winebow Group, NY
1992 Santorini Vinsanto 20 Years Barrel Aged ^ The tradition of Vinsanto on Santorini predates the sweet wine of Tuscany by the same name. Yiannis Argyros, who took
2013 Barolo Aleste ^ Aleste is the new identity for Luciano Sandrone’s Cannubi Boschis Barolo, bottled since 1985 and renamed in 2013 for his grandchildren, Alessia and Stefano. The end of the 2013 growing season
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Wine&Spirits TOP 100 WINES
saw warm days and cool evenings that preserved freshness and heightened aromas; in fact, half the pleasure of Aleste derives from the wine’s gorgeous scents of lavender, violet and anise. Strikingly pure flavors of ripe red berries and thick-skinned plums are dappled with notes of thyme, sage and fennel, the flavors woven seamlessly together in a velvety texture. Those flavors gain momentum as the wine sits in the glass, following a vertical trajectory toward a long, vibrant finish. (W&S 12/17) § Vintus, Pleasantville, NY
B E S T S I C I LY R E D 232796
95 | Gulfi
2011 Sicilia Nerobufaleffj ^ Vito Catania farms several plots in the township of Pachino at Sicily’s far southeastern tip. One of Sicily’s most prized areas for nero d’Avola production, Pachino is latitudinally just south of Tunis, and, despite the hot, arid summers, Catania dry farms the alberello-trained vines organically. The soils and elevations of each plot differ, and Catania vinifies fruit from each plot separately to place the spotlight squarely on those terroir differences, using the same fermentation and aging methods (two-week fermentations with 20 percent whole cluster and two years in used barrels). Nerobufaleffj comes from 35-year-old vines grown in a mix of black clay, red sand and white limestone; at just 164 feet above sea level, it is the highest of Gulfi’s Pachino plots. While all of Gulfi’s wines showed well in our tastings, this feels the most complete, its flavors of black plum and braised mushroom accented with notes of brushy herbs and bright salinity, a stream of acidity balancing its dense concentration. (W&S 10/18) § Selected Estates of Europe, Mamaroneck, NY
BEST TUSCAN REDS 227370
96 | Poggio di Sotto
2010 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva ^ From the excellent 2010 vintage, this combines succulence and savor in a powerful yet lithe frame. The fruit comes from the estate’s organically farmed vineyards in Montalcino’s southern sector, near Castelnuovo dell’Abate, where the slopes rise from 650 to 1,300 feet in altitude—cool heights that help the fruit preserve acidity. Aged for five years in large Slavonian casks, the wine needs a little air to reveal a dense core of black-cherry fruit infused with fresh herbs and spices. The flavors turn savory as the wine evolves in the glass, picking up notes of smoked meat and fire-roasted tomatoes even as saline acidity freshens the finish. Built for the long haul, 98
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it should rest at least five years in the cellar. (W&S 4/18) § Domaine Select Wine Estates, NY 228921
97 | Tenuta di Biserno
2013 Toscana Lodovico ^ Lodovico leads a set of impressive releases from Tenuta di Biserno. The estate’s top wine, it’s produced in select vintages from a small plot of vines (primarily cabernet franc) planted in 2002. The long, moderate growing season in 2013 yielded an intensely concentrated wine with flavors that range from brambly blue fruit to loamy soil, molten chocolate and savory charred meat. The wine feels broad-shouldered yet clad in a sable cape, its flavors densely packed and gripped by powerful tannins. It requires several days of air to reveal more detail, layers of black licorice, sage, rosemary and miso surging forward on a wave of vibrant acidity and reverberating long after the wine is gone. (W&S 4/18) § Kobrand, Purchase, NY
BEST VENETO RED 226182
94 | Giuseppe Quintarelli
2009 Veneto Rosso Ca’ del Merlo ^ Quintarelli’s 2009 Ca’ del Merlo unfolds in layers of red berries, balsamic herbs and tingly spices, each flavor surfacing with precision before giving way to the next. The wine gains power with exposure to air, its cool, mineral tannins knitting the flavors together as hints of black olive and roasted red pepper begin to emerge. Ca’ del Merlo is a vineyard planted to corvina and corvinone, with smaller percentages of cabernet sauvignon and franc, nebbiolo, croatina and sangiovese. Half of the grapes begin fermentation immediately after harvest, while the rest are air-dried for two months before fermentation to concentrate the flavors. The wine is later racked onto the Amarone lees to begin a second fermentation in the ripasso style, and aged in large Slavonian casks for seven years. The wine maintains a youthful freshness and vigor amid its layered complexity, executing a tricky balance between density and weightlessness. The long, expansive finish suggests this wine will be even more delicious in a decade. (W&S 2/18) § Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
N E W ZE AL AND BEST CHARDONNAY 121753
94 | Kumeu River
2016 Kumeu Coddington Chardonnay ^ The Coddington Vineyard, with its soils of clay over sandstone, produced a restrained yet potent chardonnay in the warm 2016 vin-
BUYING GUIDE 2019
tage. It’s simultaneously friendly and wild, energetic and coy. Its core of detailed sweet orange citrus unfurls in notes of Bosc pear and daffodil. The texture is silky, and the wine is concentrated enough to benefit from some aging. Cellar it for a few years, to pair with crisp, lemony roast chicken or rabbit. (W&S 4/18) § Wilson Daniels, St. Helena, CA
BEST PINOT NOIR 121827
94 | Maori Point
2013 Central Otago Pinot Noir ^ From 16-year-old vines planted on the north-facing bank of the Clutha river, this organically grown pinot noir is balanced between fruit and earth—notes of cool black plum skin, crushed dried thyme and savory green tomatoes. The tannins are fine, ripe and ample, and the long, satisfying finish is rich. Ideal with roast quail and bacon-studded lentils. (W&S 4/18) § Pacific Rim Wine Logistics, Sebastopol, CA
PORTUGAL BEST ALENTEJO RED
93 | Herdade do Rocim
2015 Alentejo Terracotta Clay Aged ^ Rocim is located in Vidigueira, where Catarina Vieira’s family purchased this estate in 2000. One of the workers at the estate made his own wines, aged in amphorae, a local tradition that interested Vieira and her winemaking partner, Pedro Ribeira. He helped the team get their start with amphorae, lining the vessels with beeswax and olive oil, then filling them with grapes from the old vines on the property, where the pH of the soils promotes acid retention in the fruit. Once the wine finishes fermentation, they protect it with a layer of olive oil. The result is a beautiful, voluptuous and complex red, with earthy intensity, fruity mushroom flavors and crunchy, purple berry notes. Tasting Director Sarah Looper compared the umami savor of the wine to “all the scents you get at Thanksgiving,” and it would make a great addition to any fall or winter roasts. (W&S 2/18) § Langdon Shiverick, Los Angeles, CA
Wine&Spirits TOP 100 WINES BEST DOURO RED 228658
94 | Quinta do Monte Xisto $80
2015 Douro ^ João Nicolau de Almeida was, until his retirement in 2015, the oenologist and CEO of Ramos Pinto; his sons, Mateus and João, are also talented winemakers and viticulturists. They work together on this family project, a vineyard in the eastern reaches of the Douro Superior, on a high ridge that drops off steeply to the river below. The vines date to 2005, and the family has farmed the site under biodynamic principles from the beginning, allowing the local plants and wildflowers to grow among the vines. They built a winery into the schist at their home near the vineyard, where they foot-trod this selection of touriga nacional, touriga francesa and souzão in stone lagars and then aged the wine in 600-liter barrels. An exceptional vintage, this 2015 has the stone-dust scent of the place, and tastes of fresh herbs, blueberries and bee pollen. It’s subtle, dark and sleek, a meaty Douro red that will age for a decade or more. (W&S 2/18) § MundoVino/The Winebow Group, NY
BEST MADEIRA 232836
98 | Blandy’s
1977 Madeira Rich Malmsey ^ Jenny Lakin of NYC’s Ferris described this wine’s chestnuthoney flavors and mouthwatering lift of freshness as “kind of magic.” In fact, it’s a wine that might have a physical effect on you, one that has nothing to do with drunkenness. The resonance of its flavors completely fills your head with scents of orange, plum, almond and persimmon, while the weave of those flavors comes together to warm you from the inside out, wrapping your senses in something that feels like a silk blanket, weightless and comforting. (W&S 10/18) § Premium Port Wines, San Francisco, CA
BEST PORTOS 224528
96 | W.&J. Graham’s
2015 Porto Vintage The Stone Terraces ^ The arid conditions and early-season heat of 2015 favored north-facing sites, like one of the three parcels at Malvedos that make up the Stone Terraces. The other two parcels face east and west, spared from some of the heat of May and June. The summer was less intense, but no less dry, until substantial rains fell on September 15, resuscitating the vines and allowing for more complete ripeness when harvest resumed several days later. This second release of Stone Terraces combines the energy of its powerful tannins
with the voluptuous richness Malvedos can give in the best years. It has the green esteva note of great young Porto—a scent close to Thai basil—and has a purity to the structure that makes it feel grand. (W&S 12/17) § Premium Port Wines, San Francisco, CA 224963
96 | Kopke
1937 Porto Colheita ^ In the Port trade since 1638, Kopke has amassed a cellar full of old Colheitas, including some remarkable rarities that Sogevinus, the owner of the firm since 2006, has begun to bring to market. This 1937 seems to grip every taste receptor with succulent peach flavor while its texture is silken and gentle to the touch. You might expect an 80-year-old wine to be as refined as this, but you probably wouldn’t expect it to be as generous, with needles of acidity pricking the cushion of fruit, bringing out a glistening sweetness. The detail begins to fade a few days after the wine is first opened, though it remains delicious. Best to throw a party for your favorite 80-year-old and share the bottle until it’s just a fond memory. (W&S 12/17) § Wine In-Motion USA, Union, NJ
Domènech’s 1888 massal selection. The family planted the latest generation of vines in 1964, a blend of macabeo, xarello and parellada, all growing in a lime-rich soil. This wine’s bubbles are small and firm, with a refreshing energy. The ripe white fruit is bathed in herbal touches while fresh acidity keeps adding layers of flavor to discover. (W&S 8/18) § Skurnik Wines, NY
BEST GALICIA WHITE 230235
95 | Palacio de Fefiñanes
S OUTH AFRIC A
2014 Rías Baixas III Año Albariño ^ The jewel in the crown of the small range of albariños from Fefiñanes, this comes from a selection of vineyards planted on granitic soils in Cambados, in the heart of Salnés. The wine is aged for three years in steel tanks, including seven months in contact with its lees. The result is a delicate beauty presenting flowers, citrus fruits and honey, all in a subtle and refreshing harmony. Nothing feels out of place, all the elements delivered in homeopathic doses, ready to refresh a grilled fish. The finish is clean and herbal, with a note of watermelon that makes it mouthwatering. (W&S 8/18) § Classic Wines, Stamford, CT
BEST CHENIN BL ANC
94 | Silwervis
Swartland Smiley V3 ^ A “smiley” is local parlance for a sheep’s head, which some consider a leftover after butchering an animal, and others consider a delicacy. Smiley V1 was made up of leftovers from the 2011 and ’12 vintages. Then Ryan Mostert began to play with his lots of bush-vine chenin, leaving some on the skins, aging some under a blanket of yeast, and intentionally oxidizing some barrels by leaving them in the sun. He blended V3 from lots aging in neutral barrels, stainless steel and glass demijohns. The cloudiness in the color is contrasted by the clarity of the flavor, as savory as veal stock, as bright as fresh-picked fruit (maybe mango, maybe peach). There’s beautiful sunny coolness, along with a zesty shiso-like bite of acidity. It’s awesome deliciousness from the natural-wine camp. (W&S 2/18) § PaCa Imports, Newport, RI; Verity Wine Partners, NY
S PA IN B E S T S PA R K L I N G 229862
93 | Raventós i Blanc
2013 Conca del Riu Anoia de la Finca Vinya dels Fòssils^ The vines at Vinya dels Fòssils originate from Manuel Raventós
96 | Hidalgo-La Gitana
Sanlúcar de Barrameda Manzanilla La Gitana 225 Aniversario ^ A limited-production bottling to commemorate the founding of this venerable bodega in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, this Manzanilla Pasada has been under a veil of flor for close to 15 years. Deep and concentrated, it starts out feeling sweet, full of dried fruit and spice notes, but that sensation is quickly subjugated by the wine’s forceful saline notes. The finish is spicy, full of refreshing acidity. Leave the wine in the glass and it develops more mineral notes and layers of aromas and flavors. A feast. (W&S 8/18) § Hidalgo Imports, Miami, FL
BEST RIOJA ROSÉ 231615
96 | R. López de Heredia
2008 Rioja Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia ^ Here’s a rosé that transcends the category. It’s a rare release: The last vintage Mercedes Lopéz de Heredia produced was 2000—and she makes it in the same resolutely traditional manner as her whites and reds. Aged four years in old barrels and another six in bottle, there’s nothing frivolous about it. Rather, it feels like a snapshot of the place it was raised, in sepia tones. You can feel the old cellars and their worn-in house-made barrels in the rich,
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Wine&Spirits TOP 100 WINES
humid coolness the wine projects; you can feel the heat of the sun, which ripened the grapes to a mellow sweetness, now faded to notes of Cognac-drenched berries and flamed orange zest. There’s the scent of cedar trees and the cool earth beneath them, as well as the brushy herbs that toast in summer’s heat. And there’s a salinity, a savor that joins with the breezy acidity to urge more energy from the wine even days after it’s uncorked. It’s remarkably vivacious, and will continue to evolve with cellar time. (W&S 8/18) § Think Global, Santa Barbara, CA
BEST BIERZO RED 231025
95 | La Vizcaína
2015 Bierzo Las Gundinas ^ This is a field blend from vines planted in 1910, mainly mencía, along with bastardo, garnacha tintorera and doña blanca. It’s cofermented as whole bunches in large oak vats, then the wine is aged in used 225-liter barrels. The earthy notes act as a base for the scents of red fruit, flowers and herbs, unfolding with those mineral notes in the background. Everything is in balance, from the firm and delicate tannins to the acidity that engulfs the fruit. The flavors are refreshing and deep, layered into wine that’s delicious to drink now, and will gain complexity with another five years in bottle. (W&S 8/18) § Skurnik Wines, NY
BEST MADRID RED 229324
96 | Comando G
2015 Madrid Tumba del Rey Moro Villanueva de Avila ^ This wine grows at one of the highest points in Gredos, at 3,600 feet in the Alto Alberche, the wine named for the fabled local tomb of a Moorish king. The ancient garnacha vines, rooted in granitic soils, created a wine you can easily fall in love with just by smelling it. Aromas and flavors of herbs, tea and flowers mix with fresh fruit notes, the texture dominated by tense, vertical tannins that help make the flavors shine. The finish feels especially refreshing, lasting on notes of Mediterranean spring herbs. This little beauty is a great excuse to escape for an afternoon to the Sierra de Gredos, a 45-minute drive from Madrid. (W&S 6/18) § Eric Solomon Selections/ European Cellars, Charlotte, NC
B E S T C A TA L O N I A R E D 232442
96 | Terroir al Límit
2015 Priorat Les Manyes ^ Les Manyes is one of the highest vineyards in Priorat; its elevation reaches 2,624 feet, above the monastery 100
WINE & SPIRITS
of Scala Dei. The vineyard offers a panorama of the terraced hills that form this mountain appellation. Rather than llicorella, or slate, the soil here is composed of clay and chalk, which impacts the texture of this wine, its tannins tense, its acidity electric. The fruit is red, with earthy shades of minerals, while spiciness emerges with a refreshing and luminous complexity. (W&S 10/18) § Eric Solomon Selections/European Cellars, Charlotte, NC
B E ST GALIC IA REDS 231156
96 | Luis A. Rodríguez Vázquez
2014 Ribeiro A Torna Dos Pasas ^ Luis Anxo Rodríguez blends this from young-vine brancellao, caiño and ferrol planted on the granite slopes of Arnoia, and ages it for a year in 300-liter used barrels, where the tannins develop their strong ferrous character. That bloody note accompanies earthy flavors, the wine needing time in a decanter for the fruit to take command. It feels fresh and crisp, preserved at a moment of peak ripeness. (W&S 8/18) § Jose Pastor Selections/Vinos and Gourmet, Richmond, CA 231030
95 | Castro Candaz
The texture is elegant, with enough grip to sustain the wine for another decade at least. (W&S 6/18) § Europvin USA, Van Nuys, CA
BEST RIOJA RED 225085
94 | Contino
2010 Rioja Gran Reserva ^ Contino is CVNE’s estate in Rioja Alavesa, 153 acres on terraces along a meander in the Ebro River, in Laserna, near Laguardia. Jesús Madrazo, in charge of this property from 1999 until earlier this year, grew one of the great wines of the 2010 vintage, generous in its Alavesa richness, precise in its complexity. It tastes healthy, with a classical Rioja presence that fills its bright, fennel-scented black cherry flavors with stature and grace. Those flavors have direction and drive, while the tannins yield a hint of the acorn flavor of Iberico ham, with which it would go so well. (W&S 12/17) § Arano, Boca Raton, FL
URUGUAY B E S T TA N N A T
2016 Ribeira Sacra Finca El Curvado ^ Castro Candaz is the latest project of Raúl Pérez and Rodrigo Méndez—partners at Forjas del Salnés in Rías Baixas. El Curvado is a selection from two vineyards in Chantada, on the left bank of the Río Asma, a tributary of the Miño. It’s planted primarily to mencía, along with domingo méndez (trousseau), garnacha tintorera and caiño. It’s vibrant with scents of cherries and charcoal and radiant red fruit flavors. The tannins are firm, the acidity sharp and the minerality intense, a delicious take on the black slate of Ribeira Sacra. (W&S 8/18) § Skurnik Wines, NY
B E ST RIBERA DEL DUEROS 229054
97 | Vega-Sicilia
2006 Ribera del Duero Unico ^ Unico’s vineyards are located just in front of the winery, on the other side of the N-122, the road that crosses east to west through Ribera del Duero. These vineyards face north, their soils rich in limestone, two factors that help explain the persistent tension of the tannins in this Spanish classic. In this new vintage, the tannins yield notes of Indian spices, layering turmeric and cinnamon over earthy flavors. There are also vibrant flavors of fresh blackberries and red raspberries, but they are mostly hidden for now, needing more time in the cellar, or decanting, to emerge.
BUYING GUIDE 2019
94 | Bodega Garzón
2015 Garzón Balasto ^ This winery farms 540 acres on gentle hills 11 miles from the Atlantic, just west of the village of Garzón. Its vineyards are divided into more than 1,500 plots, according to the soils (based on granite) and the orientation towards the sun. Balasto is a selection of the best plots, a blend of tannat (45 percent) with cabernet franc, petit verdot and marselan. Tannat’s austerity and strength provide black fruit and lighter floral touches while, overall, the blend is deliciously juicy, with the freshness of Uruguayan wines that look towards the sea. This is an ambitious red that needs five years in the cellar to show its complexity. (W&S 6/18) § Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits, Petaluma, CA n
Wine & Spirits 32nd Annual Buying Guide
FOR $10 OR LESS
Top drops chosen from more than 15,000 newly released wines our panels tasted over the last 12 months.
Cramele Recas 2016 Romania Dreambird Pinot Noir Bargain-priced pinot with varietal flavor? Yes, please. Tri-Vin Imports, Mount Vernon, NY
Lunar Harvest 2015 Columbia Valley Chardonnay Plump and buttery, this cushy white will warm up cool evenings with its lightly toasty applelemon flavors.
Les Costières de Pomerols 2017 Picpoul de Pinet Le Jade A palate-whetting white, with discreet florals and a lemon-pith grip. Kysela Père et Fils, Winchester, VA
Fat Bastard 2017 Pays d’Oc Rosé A picnic pour from the south of France, with sunny strawberrypeach flavor. The Winebow Group, NY
Cabriz 2015 Dão Colheita Selecionada Spicy, grippy and clean, with firm cherry flavors; for burgers. FJN Fine Wines, Cumberland RI
Snoqualmie 2016 Columbia Valley Winemaker’s Select Riesling Your Thai takeout go-to, with sweet pineapple fruit and a spritz of lemon.
Lunar Harvest 2015 Columbia Valley Merlot Tangy, ripe and smoky, this merlot has the tannins and flavor depth to take on barbecued beef.
Monte da Cal 2016 Alentejano Colheita Selecionada A dark, peppery and generous Portuguese red for meaty braises. FJN Fine Wines, Cumberland RI
Aveleda 2017 Vinho Verde Quinta da Aveleda Seafood-ready, with a cool whiff of the Atlantic in its crisp lime flavors. Aveleda, Pawtucket, RI
Gen5 2014 Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel Lean, peppery zin from old-vine fruit at LangeTwins winery; built for grilled meats.
Domaine Pierre Rougon 2017 Ile de Beauté Domaine de Listinconu An escape to Corsica in a pale rosé, notes of blood oranges, salt and herbs ready for salt-baked fish. Vinovia Wine Group, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Errázuriz Coop. de Sierra Starr Cadalso Wine&Spirits Mossback 100 BEST BUYS Green & Redof 2018 Saviah
Fritsch Fox Run
If you’re looking to get the most for your money at the wine store, here’s your list. These 100 wines performed at the top of their class, regionally or by variety, whether that’s Willamette chardonnay or grand cru Burgundy—and yet they’re priced well below the majority of their competitors. We have arranged the wines by country, starting with the US, then moving through the rest of the world, by country and region. Patrick J. Comiskey and Joshua Greene review the US wines; Greene, Stephanie Johnson, Patricio Tapia and Tara Q. Thomas review imports. We have listed our respective territories on page 12.
Roederer Estate U N I T E D STA T E S
88 | Dom. Ste. Michelle
S PA R K L I N G 512218
92 | Roederer Estate
Anderson Valley Brut ^ As fresh as crunchy apples in the fall, this wine opens to beautiful richness with air. There’s toasty character from the lees aging and brighter notes of red fruit, hinting at raspberries. A clean sparkler with impressive flavor depth, this serves equally well as a refreshing aperitif or a substantial dinner partner with seafood sausage. (W&S 8/18) § 509370
89 | Gruet
NV American Brut Sparkling Wine ^ Lively when first poured, this charming blend of chardonnay and pinot noir settles down nicely in the glass, with scents of vanillin and golden apple. The flavors start off rich but tense up in the middle, finishing with a lemony briskness. (W&S 2/18) § 510209 102
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Canoe Ridge $13
NV Columbia Valley Brut Rosé ^Pale and intriguing, this sparkler smells and tastes of tart cherries, with a firm acid structure that more than carries the ample fruit. Put a bottle on ice for a party. (W&S 4/18) §
Lake, this offers a lot of bang for your buck. It leads with a fine caramel note from oak and a hint of lees, which frame the juicy, spiced pear flavors. It has the brisk acidity for scallops. (W&S 10/18; 3,700 cases) §
92 | Bryn Mawr
2017 Willamette Valley Chardonnay ^ Bryn Mawr’s Willamette bottling is from two vineyards: its own, and Havlin. Fermented in steel tanks, it’s immediately fruity, the scents of apple and pineapple accented by wheaty, leesy notes. The flavors are complete and layered, with impressive freshness, acid structure and length. A bargain for a seafood feast. (W&S 8/18; 350 cases) § 513344
91 | Fox Run
2016 Finger Lakes Doyle Family Chardonnay ^ From one of the Finger Lakes’ oldest chardonnay sites, on the east side of Seneca
BUYING GUIDE 2019
90 | Mossback
2016 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ^Dan Cederquist makes this wine in the Dunnigan Hills, with fruit the Giguire family purchases from Aquarius Vineyards, near Guerneville. He preserves the fresh flavors of the grapes by fermenting them cool, with only a small portion seeing oak. The wine is clean, smoky and firm, with notes of apple
100 BEST BUYS skin, tart white cherries and lemongrass. For pan-roasted fish. (W&S 6/18; 2,500 cases) §
91 | Thirsty Owl
2016 Finger Lakes Gewurztraminer ^ Dry and elegant, this wine’s slightly sharp pineapple scent leads to flavors that are more salty and mineral than fruit driven. This is a lean, refreshing gewurz for bratwurst and peppered cabbage. (W&S 2/18; 256 cases) §
87 | Snoqualmie
2016 Columbia Valley Winemaker’s Select Riesling ^ A spritz of lemon flavor and a mineral tone give this wine’s sweet pineapple fruit a bit of structure. It’s well made for the price; to pour with green curry. (W&S 6/18)
91 | Dr. Konstantin Frank
2016 Finger Lakes Gruner Veltliner ^ With a scent of lime blossoms and a savory suite of flavors that are floral, salty and leafy, this runs parallel to the variety as it’s grown in Austria but manages to glance off those attributes…green, but in a different way, angular, but not quite the same angle. Uncork for sweet-pea risotto. (W&S 12/17; 965 cases) §
RHONE WHITE BLEND 513523
91 | Zinke Wine Company
2016 Santa Barbara County Blanca ^ An intriguing white with the salty scent of the sea, this has a note of purple flowers that might trick you into believing you were drinking a red, if you closed your eyes. It’s substantial and meaty, like veal stock, lasting on spice and pale smoke, suited to meaty grilled fish. The blend includes viognier (42 percent), marsanne, roussanne and grenache blanc. (W&S 10/18; 240 cases)
93 | Hermann J. Wiemer
2016 Seneca Lake Dry Riesling ^This feels both complete and composed in its array of flavors and aromas—a whiff of white peach, a hint of saffron, a pinch of bruised pineapple, a maple-sugar bass note. The texture is similarly diverse, rich at first, then slimming into a crisp finish. It has the tension and the drive for pork loin. (W&S 8/18) § 511502
2016 California Sauvignon Blanc ^ Here’s a steal: a clean, fruit-driven sauvignon for $14, full of pear and guava flavors, along with some notes of green melon rind. It has the freshness of a fruit sorbet, and it’s ready to underscore the flavors of sea bass ceviche. (W&S 8/18) §
TOCAI FRIUL ANO 508380
92 | Millbrook
2016 Hudson River Region Proprietor’s Special Reserve Tocai Friulano ^A good vintage in the Hudson River Valley has rendered some exceptional white wines from Millbrook, one of the region’s oldest wineries. Its tocai in 2016 is dry and focused, with flavors of orange blossom, apple skin and fresh-cut apples. (W&S 12/17; 1,500 cases)
92 | Canoe Ridge
90 | Straphanger
2015 Horse Heaven Hills The Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon ^A remarkably expressive and complex red and a remarkable value, this has a fine herbal tinge to its flavors, a scent of mint and cedar that frames the fruit, with an oak component that’s firm but not obtrusive. Buy it by the case for pot-roast Sundays. (W&S 12/17) § 508396 2015 Paso Robles 2nd Edition Cabernet Sauvignon ^This gets kudos for its fresh redcherry flavor, the kind of soft-textured cabernet that would be delicious with beef tenderloin. It’s hard to find a California cabernet this clean and well made for $13. Tom Meyers makes this wine for Pacific Edge, Luneau USA’s project in Paso Robles. (W&S 12/17; 4,000 cases) §
88 | Waterbrook $17
2016 Finger Lakes Unoaked Cabernet Franc ^This bright franc from Knapp is aged in stainless-steel tanks, allowing its charmingly juicy fruit character to lead, presenting berry flavors infused with anise-like Christmas spices. A glou glou to chill as an aperitif. (W&S 2/18; 124 cases)
CABERNET SAUVIGNON 509015
94 | Alder Ridge
91 | Knapp
94 | Joleté
2016 Walla Walla Valley Summit View Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ^Summit View, upslope from Seven Hills Vineyard, puts up with plenty of wind. This cabernet seems to capture that element in its impression of wind-driven fruit—of purple flowers and dark purple skins, grippy and vinous. It feels fresh, focused and lean, the texture dominated by invigorating tannins and mouthwatering acid. Decant for lamb. (W&S 10/18; 400 cases) § 509125
G R U N E R V E LT L I N E R
90 | Geyser Peak
and spiced plum—classic Horse Heaven aromatics—its flavors are fruit driven and ripe, with a savory undergirding of soft, finegrained tannins. At $30, this is a wine you should buy by the case and watch as it evolves over years. (W&S 12/17; 1,386 cases) 513676
2013 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon ^The picture of balance, this 2013 has settled into itself with plenty of flavor expressed with admirable restraint and elegance. Leading with scents of cedar, tobacco
2016 Columbia Valley Merlot ^This smells like a bowl of plums in a wooden box. It’s plump and a touch sweet, but the firm tannins—from both oak and fruit—are unusual in wines at this price. Pour it with barbecued lamb. (W&S 6/18; 2,930 cases) §
PETITE SIRAH 511384
88 | Bogle
2015 California Petite Sirah ^Treat this wine to plenty of air and you’ll get a lot for your $11. It may feel a little blunt and bitter at first, but a day or two later, the wine turns clean and fragrant, with espresso richness and a touch of sweetness to the dark fruit to complement braised meats. (W&S 6/18) §
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
100 BEST BUYS and a touch of sweetness to the dark fruit to complement braised meats. (W&S 6/18) §
PINOT NOIR 508563
93 | Domaine Eden
2014 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir ^Mount Eden bought what was the Cinnabar Winery in 2007 and dedicated the vineyard to chardonnay and pinot noir, renaming it Domaine Eden. Jeffrey Patterson farms the vines without irrigation and makes the wine the same way as his Mount Eden pinots, without adding yeasts and without fining or filtering. His 2014 is a beautiful essence of red fruit, singing out with floral notes and lasting through a mouthwatering finish. It’s clean, with an underlying richness to the earthy tannic structure that will sustain the wine as it ages. (W&S 12/17; 1,680 cases)
91 | Folk Machine
2016 California Parts & Labor ^Kenny Likitprakong designed Parts & Labor as a California red in the spirit of simple bistro wines. He changes up the blend every year, this vintage made from Redwood Valley carignane (58 percent), Potter Valley syrah, Arroyo Seco grenache and Redwood Valley barbera. He ferments the lots separately, in stainless steel without adding yeasts, then blends them and ages the wine mostly in steel, some in large and small barrels. It comes together in a fresh, light and frisky red—bright, lovely juice that hints at cranberries and flowers. It’s a clean, savory wine for country pâté. (W&S 6/18; 3,299 cases) § 511363
88 | Messina Hof
Texas Texas Hold ‘Em Grand Reserve ^A multivintage blend of malbec, merlot, sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir, this leads with a scent of barbecue sauce and cocoa. It’s mouthfilling and chewy, a surprisingly composed red at the price, for—what else?—barbecue. (W&S 6/18; 2,000 cases)
89 | Cavatappi 513642
91 | Maison L’Envoyé
2016 Willamette Valley Straight Shooter Pinot Noir ^Coasting on a seductive mélange of savory tobacco, woodsmoke, Scotch and mushrooms, this pinot opens to reveal a lovely core of muddled strawberry flavor. It’s generous but made tense by acidity and all that savor. Chill slightly before serving with a wood-fired mushroom pizza. (W&S 10/18) §
2016 Columbia Valley Sangiovese ^This well priced wine has some of the dusty, peppery red-plum character of Tuscan reds. It’s light and lean, a wine for barbecued lamb. (2,230 cases)
90 | Saviah
2016 Columbia Valley The Jack Syrah ^Dark, juicy fruit leads in this plump red, leavened by a pinch of pipe tobacco. The mulberry flavors are enriched by generous oak and ripe, gripping tannins. For sweet Italian sausage and peppers. (W&S 10/18; 3,234 cases)
wine that’s at once supple and voluminous while remaining firm and tight. When you first open the bottle, you might find balsamic concentration to the flavors and dried mushroom scents. Give it time in a decanter and the wine gains in freshness, a raspberry rasp and boysenberry tartness reining in its rich middle. Cellar it, or decant it for grilled quail. (W&S 6/18; 900 cases) § 511229
93 | Hobo
90 | Sierra Starr
2015 Rockpile Branham Rockpile Vineyard Zinfandel ^Bristling with energy, this wine gains its edge from a cofermentation of fruit from old zinfandel vines and a little petite sirah harvested at the same time, which puts it on the early side of ripeness. Kenny Likitprakong fermented it with 30 percent whole clusters and without added yeasts, then aged it in French oak puncheons. That oak mellowed the wine toward supple fruitiness, with umami notes of forest mushrooms and tart cherries, but the emphasis is on rocks, sage brush and high-elevation chaparral. (W&S 6/18; 226 cases) § 511379 2014 Sierra Foothills Old Clone Zinfandel ^The Starr family added a parcel of zinfandel vines to their Grass Valley estate in 2000 using a massal selection from 100-yearaold vines in Mendocino. They use that fruit to produce their Old Clone Zin, a wine with a complex balance of herbal, sweet and savory flavors that reminded Gianpaolo Paterlini of some of the sforzato wines from Valtellina that he lists at Acquerello in San Francisco. With flavors of cherry skins and black licorice, this is a tight red for Mediterranean lamb. (W&S 6/18; 300 cases) §
Z I N FA N D E L 511568
93 | Green & Red 512071
91 | Pike Road
2015 Willamette Valley Black Label Pinot Noir ^An inviting pinot from multiple valley sources, this is as fruity as a bowl of strawberries, with a succulence and generosity that’s impressive at the price. (W&S 8/18) §
RED BLEND 511230
WINE & SPIRITS
2015 Napa Valley Chiles Mill Vineyard Zinfandel ^While Jay Heminway’s two other estate vineyards face northeast, rising up the ridge in the Chiles Valley, Chiles Mill faces northwest. When Heminway replanted the vineyard in the mid-1990s, he selected the material from the Trentadue Ranch in Geyserville; aside from zinfandel, the cuttings included a bit of petite sirah, syrah, carignan and grenache, along with some Italian varieties. In 2015, those vines seem to have benefited from both the cool morning fog and the warm afternoon sun, offering a
BUYING GUIDE 2019
86 | Gen5
2014 Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel ^Produced at the LangeTwins winery from estate-grown fruit, this is mostly zinfandel, with a small amount of tannat, petite sirah and other varieties, some of the vines 90 years old. It’s a lean, peppery red with sweet, earthy tannins, built for grilled meats. (W&S 6/18) §
100 BEST BUYS 89 | La Celia
A RGE N T I N A
2016 Uco Valley Reserva Malbec Cabernet Franc ^This offers the softness and the floral side of malbec together with the herbal notes and the firm tannins of cabernet franc. Together, they form a lively, accommodating red for roast beef. (W&S 6/18) § Apollo Fine Wines & Spirits, Freeport, NY
A USTRALIA CHARDONNAY 123248
91 | Xanadu 123283
92 | Tinto Negro
2015 Mendoza Limestone Block Malbec ^Alejandro Sejanovich selects the grapes for this wine in Chacayes, in the rocky limestone soils of the Uco Valley. This is fruity, with light details of spice. The flavors are red, ripe raspberries and cherries, while the texture feels firm and tense, with a chalky sensation in the middle. The fruit flavors project to the end, leaving a sense of freshness. (W&S 10/18) § Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL 122462
2017 Margaret River Exmoor Chardonnay ^Xanadu’s least expensive chardonnay is two-thirds fermented in barrel, the balance in stainless steel. Only about five percent of the finished blend has seen new oak, and the wine is so fresh you might think it’s unwooded. Bright, brisk, clean and clear, this tastes of green apple and chamomile, with tart notes of underripe peach and grapefruit. Ready to drink tonight with any fresh catch. (W&S 10/18) § Rathbone Wine Group, Napa, CA
92 | Tahbilk
2017 Nagambie Lakes Marsanne ^Alister Purbrick at Tahbilk is a marsanne specialist, sustaining vines that date back to 1927. Twenty years ago, he started bottling wine from those vines separately and expanded plantings to offer this more accessible wine. The citrus and melon-scented fruit of this 2017 is beautifully balanced between its round, supple texture and its crunchy freshness. Delicate white-flower scents feed into its bright notes of lemon and warmer orange tones. Chill it for pan-roasted trout with almonds. (W&S 10/18) § Foley Family Wines, Santa Rosa, CA
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
100 BEST BUYS ROSÉ 122947
93 | Alkoomi
2017 Frankland River Rosé ^Sandy Hallett’s parents planted the first vines at Alkoomi in 1971, long before Frankland River became known for wine. Now she and her team farm 259 acres of vines, by hand, with no chemical inputs, watering only with collected rain. They focus on Bordeaux varieties, like petite verdot, the grape for this rosé. It draws out a prettiness you may not have imagined possible from this tannic variety, focusing the flavors on hibiscus and raspberries, with an oyster-mushroom umami note. It’s silken and elegant, a rosé for mushrooms in a cream sauce. (W&S 8/18) § Little Peacock Imports, Wilmington, DE
93 | Yalumba
2016 Barossa Old Bush Vine Grenache ^Yalumba’s Old Bush Vine range consistently turns out some of Australia’s greatest values, this grenache being one of them. It’s clean and bright; one taster described the taste as “the perfect parallel to the flavor of raspberries.” The structure is about floral delicacy rather than tannic power, a wine light enough to serve chilled. And it brings a range of different foods to mind as accompaniments, from chicken liver mousse to chargrilled sardines to a burger with tomatoes and pickled red onions. (W&S 2/18) § Negociants USA/The Winebow Group, NY
PINOT NOIR 122977
90 | MWC
2016 Victoria Pinot Noir ^This grows at a vineyard in the Yea Valley, in northern Yarra. It’s firm, ripe and floral, a bridge between pinot noir’s delicacy and the riper, tea-like tones of grenache. There’s enough acid zing to manage the ripeness and point up scents of star anise and orange zest. For tea-smoked duck. (W&S 10/18) § Hudson Wine Brokers, Los Angeles, CA
92 | MWC
2016 Victoria Shiraz-Mourvedre ^This blend from Central Victoria includes shiraz from cool-climate sites as well as fruit from some warmer vineyards. It comes together in a wine that’s both vibrant and velvety. The bold fruit feels juicy and gentle as it cushions the sanguine, iron-rich briskness of the
WINE & SPIRITS
tannins. It’s smooth and remarkably easy to drink. (W&S 10/18) § Hudson Wine Brokers, Los Angeles, CA
$17, its cool notes of black and green peppercorns keeping the juicy berry fruit fresh. The tannins are just present enough to take on a platter of charcuterie, and not so much that you’d mind drinking it on its own. (W&S 4/18) § M.S. Walker, Somerville, MA
C ANADA RIESLING
92 | Jim Barry
2015 Clare Valley Lodge Hill Shiraz ^Tasted blind, in the same panel tasting as Jim Barry The Armagh 2013, this wine earned more unanimous praise and provided plenty of richness and intensity. It may be a less ambitious wine, but it is no less beautiful, its power delivered in scents of aged beef, pressed rose petals and oak. There’s some delicacy in the midst of that power, the flavors suspended, in balance. (W&S 2/18) § Loosen Bros. USA, Salem, OR
A USTRIA G R U N E R V E LT L I N E R 227280
91 | Stadt Krems
2016 Kremstal Grüner Veltliner ^This packs far more flavor than you’d expect at the price, with an almost oily concentration to its lemony fruit. It’s the notes of stone, herbs and bitter greens that make it interesting, lifting the wine, giving it a refreshing alpine feel. (W&S 4/18) § Craft + Estate/The Winebow Group, NY
Z W E I G E LT 228381
90 | Fritsch
2016 Wagram Rosé vom Zweigelt ^A brazen rosé, this is spicy and fresh, with savory red-fruit flavors that fall somewhere between cherries and umeboshi, the Japanese salted plums. The acidity crackles, sending off sparks in the form of herbal notes, signaling its readiness to match herb-crusted lamb chops. (W&S 4/18) § Monika Caha Selections/ Frederick Wildman and Sons, NY
2015 Burgenland Classic Blaufränkisch ^The Iby family grows only red grapes, specializing in blaufränkisch. Their entrylevel bottling is impressively elegant for
BUYING GUIDE 2019
93 | Cave Spring
2016 Niagara Peninsula Riesling ^This far outperforms its $16 price: It’s a powerful, elegant riesling in a Rheingau-like mode. The ripeness of the warm, dry 2016 vintage comes across in the wine’s texture, nearly meaty with extract, but the flavors are all about lime zest and stone. The acidity keeps the wine feeling chiseled and lean, the taut structure ready to take on something as rich as roast sturgeon. (W&S 4/18) § MGZ Associates, Clarence, NY
CABERNET FRANC 121661
92 | Chateau des Charmes $16
2015 Niagara-on-the-Lake Cabernet Franc ^Of all the Ontario cabernet franc we tasted, this was the least ambitious and the most successful—to our New York palates, at any rate. It’s unmistakably franc in its herbal, black-raspberry flavors and peppercorn spice; it also has the brisk, cool texture that gives great franc an elegance that its brawnier sibling, cabernet sauvignon, doesn’t normally achieve. More generous in its fruit than a Loire version, yet just as vibrant in its acidity, this wins on pure drinkability, whether on its own or with a roast fish or sliced steak. (W&S 4/18) § Specialty Cellars, Santa Fe Springs, CA
C HILE SAUVIGNON BLANC
90 | Iby
90 | Viña Quintay
2016 Casablanca Valley Q Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc ^Sourced from Las Dichas, in southwestern Casablanca, this is an exu-
100 BEST BUYS berant sauvignon. Its herbaceous aromas and tropical fruit flavors fill a dense and creamy white. Chill it for pan-roasted mahi mahi in a cream sauce. (W&S 8/18) § Regal Wine Imports, Moorestown, NJ
funky flavors bringing to mind pairings with roasted game. (W&S 6/18) § Vintus, Pleasantville, NY
FR A NC E
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2016 Picpoul de Pinet Cuvée des Dames ^Anne-Virginie Arnaud-Gaujal runs this estate with her mother, Simone. By working with low yields in the appellation’s claylimestone soils, and leaving the wines on the lees six to eight months after fermentation, they turn out vivid, concentrated Picpoul de Pinet. The 2016 is as refreshing as a dip in the Mediterranean, notes of lemon zest and herbal scrub mixing with a palate-whetting salinity. The time on the lees gives the wine impressive body for a picpoul, a roundness that’s a pleasant counter to the bright, tart acidity. (W&S 6/18) § Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, NY
93 | Santa Ema
2016 Maipo Valley Amplus Cabernet Sauvignon ^This is an archtypal cabernet from Pirque, one of the highest spots planted to vines in the Maipo Valley. With seductive scents of menthol, herbs and tart red fruit, the wines’s acidity and fine tannins frame and support the fruity notes. It’s young and already delicious, ready to serve with grilled flank steak. It’s also ageworthy, a subtle red that will gain in complexity and depth. (W&S 8/18) § Guarachi Wine Partners, Woodland Hills, CA
92 | Concha y Toro
2016 Peumo Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Peumo Vineyard Carmenère ^Even in cool years, like 2016, the generous sun of Peumo manages to ripen carmenère without difficulty. This wine feels broad, with ripe flavors of blackberries and black cherries. The breezes that flow along the Cachapoal River translate to freshness in the grapes, providing a lively, tenacious acidity that makes this wine easy to drink. The black-cherry flavors last in a deliciously herbal finish. (W&S 6/18) § Fetzer Vineyards, Hopland, CA
PA I S 122711
90 | J. Bouchon
2017 Maule Valley Viejo País ^This comes from century-old dry-farmed vines, the wine fermented in cement before going straight to the bottle. It’s a clear expression of país: light bodied, with earthy notes of red fruit and flowers, and enough tension in the tannins to serve with grilled sausages. (W&S 6/18) § Vine Connections, Sausalito, CA
93 | Baron-Fuenté
2008 Champagne Brut ^This wine performs far beyond its price, offering a floral, red-fruited wine that turns from its meunier flavors of peppery strawberries and darker raspberries to pale chardonnay tones. It’s luscious and brassy in the middle, then graceful and crisp in the end. Pour it with a shellfish tower of bulots and crab. (W&S 12/17) § V.O.S. Selections, NY
ALSACE WHITE 224444
93 | Les Vins Pirouettes
2014 Alsace Tutti Frutti de Stéphane ^Christian Binner is working with a group of young grapegrowers to produce and sell wines from their biodynamic fruit. He makes this with Stéphane Bannwarth, from 35- to 40-yearold vines, including pinot gris, gewurztraminer, auxerrois, pinot blanc and muscat. They make no additions during fermentation, aging or bottling. It cops to its naturalwinemaking regime in the browning gold color and the initially brash intensity of the flavors, powered by skin contact. But the flavors integrate into lemon verbena, honeyed richness and spice, growing gentle and persistent, tasting very natural and very good. (W&S 4/18) § Jenny & François Selections, NY
JURA WHITE 227667
91 | Domaine Rolet
93 | Errázuriz
2015 Aconcagua Costa Manzanar Syrah ^ From the rolling hills of the Manzanar Vineyard, on granite soils close to the Pacific, this syrah offers a cornucopia of flavors, from red fruit to earthy notes and herbs. Light and soft, its pungent acidity keeps the wine focused right through the finish. With air, notes of roasted meat emerge, the deep,
2013 Arbois Chardonnay ^A wild and funky white, this tastes as much like Comté as it does like chardonnay. There’s some fresh golden-apple flavor at its center, surrounded by chalkiness and scents of cheese rind. Ornate and oxidative, this wine’s intensity and elasticity make it compelling. (W&S 4/18) § Skurnik Wines, NY
91 | Domaine Gaujal de Saint Bon
LOIRE WHITE 227694
94 | Vigneau-Chevreau
92 | Domaine Les Hautes Noelles
89 | Célestin Blondeau
2016 Vouvray Cuvée Silex Sec ^Christophe Vigneau-Chevreau makes this wine from parcels at his family’s 69-acre domaine, where the tuffeau and clay soils contain broken flint. His father converted the family’s vineyards to organic farming, certified in 1999; Christophe and his brother, Stéphane, have since incorporated biodynamic principles. The farming paid off in this complex 2016, a wine with a fragrance that seems to carry all the colors of bee pollen, pastel shades of pink, tan, purple and yellow. It’s as if you could breathe color, a layering of scents that makes the succulent flavors of pear, bruised apples and minerals into something ornate and compellingly delicious. Decant it for Cantonese roast duck. (W&S 4/18) § Regal Wine Imports, Moorestown, NJ 227686
2015 Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu Sur Lie Les Parcelles ^Jean-Pierre Guedon’s domaine is based near the mouth of the Loire, where the sea influence is strong. He selects this wine from vines that are more than 30 years old, farmed organically, and everything about it touches on the Atlantic—seaweed, brine, seashell broth, the rocky scent of a freshly shucked clam. Its savory length would match oysters in winter or fried cod in spring. (W&S 4/18) § Skurnik Wines, NY 227609 2016 Sancerre Cuvée des Moulins Bâles ^Flinty reduction has this sauvignon hovering between green lime and green onion; then it resolves in the finish with
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
100 BEST BUYS mouthwatering zestiness. It’s grassy and firm, a white for oysters. (W&S 4/18) § Monsieur Touton Selection, NY
RHONE WHITE 226123
91 | Delas Frères
2016 St-Joseph Les Challeys ^Sunny and firm, this blend of marsanne and roussanne contrasts apricot-rich fruit with lemon-zest acidity and delicate floral notes. It’s ripe and yet delicate, charming and balanced, and a steal at $18. (W&S 2/18) § Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Oakland, CA
SOUTHWEST WHITE 229465
92 | Château Haut Lavigne $17
2016 Côtes de Duras ^Nadia Lusseau began farming a 21-acre vineyard in St-Astier, about 62 miles east of Bordeaux, in 2002. She works organically, with little intervention in the cellar; this white—a blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon—is fermented as whole bunches in enamel-lined tanks, and left on the fine lees for several weeks. It’s the sort of wine that creeps up on you, a little simple and cidery at first, then growing broader, with the coolness of freshly turned clay soil. The lanolin richness will lay a lovely base for herb-stuffed freshwater fish while the floral notes that come up keep it feeling sunny. (W&S 6/18) § Jenny & François Selections, NY
90 | La Vieille Ferme
2017 Vin de France Rosé ^The Perrin family of Château Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-duPape make this wine at their estate in Ventoux, blending equal parts cinsault and grenache with 20 percent syrah. The 2017, from the driest vintage they’ve experienced in 30 years, is firm and crisp, with tangy berry flavors playing over a stony savor that holds the wine long and clean. (W&S 8/18) § Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL 231080
91 | Jean Perrier & Fils
2017 Savoie Cuvée Gastronomie Gamay Rosé ^Made by a family who’s farmed their 108
WINE & SPIRITS
granite hillsides near Chambery since 1853, this gamay has a compelling scent that’s breezy and delicate, and a light bitterness and cherry-stone savor that give it an edge. Pour it with a nettle-and-mushroom omelet. (W&S 8/18) § David Bowler Wines, NY
BEAUJOLAIS RED 232714
95 | Louis Claude Desvignes
2016 Morgon La Voûte St-Vincent ^ClaudeEmmanuelle Desvignes and her brother, Louis Benoît, are eighth-generation winegrowers in Morgon. They blend this wine from their parcels, with an average age of 45 years, where the soils are sandy and granitic. They destem half of the grapes and ferment the wine in cuves, then age it for ten months in concrete. The resulting structure derives from the buzzing freshness of the grapes and the rooty, mineral drive of their skin and stem tannins. The wine feels complete, moving from roses to dark fruit and then taking a deep dive into earthy savor. Built to develop with age, this will benefit from aging five years or more. (W&S 10/18) § Louis/Dressner Selections, NY 229389
2015 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux ^Located in Castillon-la-Bataille, on clay-limestone slopes facing south toward the Dordogne River, this château stages an annual reenactment of the battle that ended the 100 Years War between England and France. The vineyards, planted to merlot (80 percent) and cabernet franc, are five miles east of St-Emilion. Where else would you find a bright, spicy, red-fruited Bordeaux with energy and drive in its tannins…for $17? Maybe the price dates back to the 15th century…or maybe it marks the renaissance of Castillon’s grand terroir, long overlooked. (W&S 6/18) § Kysela Père et Fils, Winchester, VA
BURGUNDY RED 227917
88 | Louis Chavy
2016 Bourgogne Pinot Noir ^This is pretty good pinot noir for $15—with red fruit and some of the green stemmy notes that lift it out of the jello mold of so many inexpensive Bourgognes. Tight with cranberry notes, this may be too lean for some California pinot noir drinkers, but it will please people looking for a fragrant, light-bodied red. (W&S 4/18) § Saranty Imports, Stamford, CT 232527
BUYING GUIDE 2019
2014 Marsannay Clos du Roy ^Laurent Fournier is one of the stars of contemporary Marsannay, a region at the northern reaches of the Côte de Nuits. Clos du Roy, at the border with Dijon, is among the top sites that may soon be elevated to premier cru status. It’s a stony slope facing east, where Fournier farms his vines organically (Ecocert certified); his three parcels range in age from 40 to 70 years old. He includes whole clusters (about 40 percent) in a long cold soak, ferments with ambient yeasts, then ages the wine in large casks (40 percent new). The wine presents itself as an earthy, old-fashioned Burgundy, with floral scents, barnyard notes and dark tones of black cherry and black tea. Or maybe it’s a post-modern Burgundy, where the great historic lands are rediscovered and reworked to create a pretty, lifted and unexpectedly powerful wine. Either way, it’s serious stuff and deserves a place in a Burgundy collector’s cellar—even if it’s priced to easily find a place at any Burgundy drinker’s table. (W&S 10/18) § T. Edward Wines, NY
LANGUEDOCROUSSILLON RED 229466
90 | Château Castegens
93 | Jean Fournier
92 | Dom. des Deux Anes
92 | Domaine Treloar
2014 Corbières Fontanilles ^Beaujolaisborn Magali Roux-Terrier started this biodynamic estate in 2000, farming 53 acres in Peyriac-de-Mer. She blended this wine from old-vine carignan with a little syrah and grenache, fermenting it with ambient yeasts in stainless steel. It’s a hint natchy, with a little acetic funk at first, but those elements soon fade as the fruit comes up, savory, juicy and expansive. It smells of bay leaves, sage and warm, dusty earth and tastes as meaty as a Mangalitsa pork chop. It would be delicious with one, as well. (W&S 6/18) § Jenny & François Selections, NY 229108 2014 Côtes du Roussillon Three Peaks Syrah Mourvèdre Grenache ^Three Peaks refers to the Pic de Nouolous, Roc de France and Pic de Canigou, three high points in the nearby Pyrenees, as well as syrah, grenache and mourvèdre, the three grapes that have become emblematic of France’s south. Jonathan Hesford and his wife, Rachel Treloar, farm the grapes in the rocky, clay-limestone soils of Les Aspres and vinify each variety separately with ambient yeasts, then blend and age the wine in a mix of French and American oak barrels. The result in 2014 is pleasantly tough and firm, a rugged, energetic mix of dry, stony flavor and plum-skin notes, bit-
100 BEST BUYS ter chocolate and earth. With a day of air, a gentle, woodsy spice comes up, suggesting this will reveal more detail with another few years of age. (W&S 6/18) § Loubaton Imports, Brooklyn, NY
RHONE RED 226293
93 | Francois Villard
2016 Vin de France L’Appel des Sereines Syrah ^A blend of young-vine fruit pulled from four parcels ranging from Ardoix in St-Joseph to St-Michel-sur-Rhône and Vérin near Condrieu, this syrah soars on cool blue fruit. It’s ripe yet streamlined, with a refreshing menthol note and vibrant acidity that lift the wine out of its earthy, dark-berried richness and send it skyward in a cloud of nearweightless flavor that lasts. (W&S 2/18) § JAE Wine Imports, Napa, CA
96 | Willm
2012 Alsace Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives ^This is, by far, the best wine from Willm we’ve ever tasted, a brisk, bright, mood-changing wine. The flavors of candied ginger and fresh honeycomb seem to capture the sun and then reflect it back in a lasting glow. Over the course of several days open, the wine holds its vibrant energy and keeps coming at you with fresh fruit. Pour a glass this winter and curl up in front of the fire, or save it for the spring, for seared foie gras, apricots and pickled ramps. (W&S 4/18) § Monsieur Touton Selection, NY
prominence. He culls this cuvée from his oldest vines, all of them around his home base in Eltville-Erbach, presenting a wine that’s far more opulent than its QbA trocken designation would suggest. It’s markedly fresh, ripe, bold and energetic, the pineapple and peach flavors rippling with acidity. Those flavors flow over savory, stony bass notes, lasting for minutes after each sip. (W&S 2/18) § Sacred Thirst Selections, Moraga, CA 224643
93 | Leitz
2016 Rheingau Dragonstone Riesling QbA ^Dragonstone, or drachenstein in German, is the name of the vineyard, a steep slope of quartzite soils where the Rhine meets the Nahe. The 2016 tastes like summer, from dried grass and herbs to peaches and lemontree leaves, presenting it all with the warmth of the sun and the clarity of a bright blue sky. There’s nothing pushed about it: It just feels comfortable, balanced between richness and acidity, sweetness and mineral savor, holding those aspects with confidence and consistency. (W&S 2/18) § Schatzi Wines, NY
GRE EC E MACEDONIA 230427
92 | Alpha Estate
GE RM A N Y
2017 Florina Turtles Vineyard Malagouzia ^This malagousia reflects the cool climate it grows in, a high plain in northwest Greece. It’s tight and bright, with a saline minerality that acts like a spark, lighting up the citrusy fruit and floral herbs. Long, lean and light, it’s a refreshing, elegant aperitif. (W&S 8/18) § Diamond Importers, Chicago, IL
93 | Dr. HeidemannsBergweiler
92 | Monemvasia
2016 Mosel Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett ^Juicy and outgoing, this lively wine is immediately appealing in its sweet, peppery lemon flavors. It gains complexity as it takes on air, developing bass notes of roasted fennel and high notes of herbs, savory flavors that carry through a clean finish. (W&S 2/18) § Vinum Cos, Buffalo Grove, IL
94 | Von Oetinger
2013 Rheingau Alte Reben Riesling QbA Trocken ^In 2005, Achim Von Oetinger reunited his family estate, which had been split by his grandparents; he now farms 27 acres, working to bring the estate back to
2014 Peloponnese Assyrtiko ^The color is deep yellow and the initial notes are of toast and caramel, but give this time in the glass and it seems to get fresher by the moment. The caramel notes begin to smell more like warm rocks and dried herbs; the toast lightens into notes of piecrust and Meyer-lemon curd. You know it’s assyrtiko in the end, when the saline mineral notes and acidity work in tandem to grip the tongue, and won’t let go. It’s a white that can stand up to lamb. (W&S 8/18) § Flying Olive Farms, Raleigh, NC
93 | Santo Wines
2017 Santorini Assyrtiko ^This vintage marked the 70th anniversary of this coop-
erative winery. By picking early and relying on fruit from high-altitude vineyards, winemaker Nikos Varvarigos worked the warmth of the vintage into a powerful, impressive Santorini. It’s nearly tropically ripe, juicy peach and apricot flavors hinting at mango, even as the island’s stony character comes through. It ends firm and clean, leaving behind the scent of sea air. (W&S 8/18) § Diamond Importers, Chicago, IL
ITALY S PA R K L I N G 229847
90 | Mongarda
92 | Cantina Paltrinieri
2016 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut ^The Tormena family farms 25 acres of vines in the hills around Valdobbiadene, and makes just 8,000 bottles of this vibrant prosecco, with grapes harvested from vines planted in 1950. A blend of glera with ten percent of verdiso and bianchetta, it’s a saline sparkler with flavors of green pear and white peach that feel clean and refreshing. (W&S 8/18) § David Bowler Wines, NY 230115 2016 Lambrusco di Sorbara Radice ^Thirdgeneration grower Alberto Paltrinieri farms 42 acres of vines around his estate on the outskirts of Sorbara. He makes six wines based on lambrusco di Sorbara, the lightest-hued member of the lambrusco family, which thrives in the sandy soils of Il Cristo, an area between the Secchia and Panaro rivers. Radice is made in the metodo ancestrale, by adding unfermented grape must to the dry wine and letting a second fermentation occur in the bottle. The result is a lightly sparkling, deliciously complex dry wine with racy flavors of tart strawberry and scents of peach blossom and honeycomb. (W&S 8/18) § Domaine Select Wine & Spirits, NY
PIEDMONT RED 224317
94 | Marchesi di Grésy
91 | Comm. G.B. Burlotto
2013 Barbaresco Martinenga ^Martinenga is poised and graceful in the 2013 vintage, its vibrant red-berry tones accented by cool, delicate scents of rose petals, mint and Alpine herbs. Each note feels defined with precision, yet they come together in a smooth, polished texture and last with a rosy glow. (W&S 12/17) § Dalla Terra, Napa, CA 226148 2016 Verduno Pelaverga ^This feels fresh, its crunchy red-berry flavors accented by notes of basil and white pepper. It’s taut and lively,
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
100 BEST BUYS a terrific by-the-glass choice for antipasti. (W&S 12/17) § Bacchanal Imports, NY
sauvignon for meaty white fish. (W&S 4/18) § Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL 123266
93 | Mt. Beautiful
S I C I LY R E D 232783
92 | Feudo Montoni
2015 Sicilia Lagnusa Nero d’Avola ^Hightoned scents of violets and eucalyptus waft from the glass of this vibrant nero d’Avola. Its brambly red fruit flavors are accented in notes of cinchona bark and orange zest, feeling as fresh as the cool breezes that whip through Lagnusa, a plot situated at more than 1,950 feet above sea level. The 35-yearold vines were massal selected from Feudo Montoni’s older Vrucara plot, and proprietor Fabio Sireci ferments with whole clusters in cement tanks, accentuating the wine’s freshness and imparting complexity far beyond most “entry-level” nero d’Avolas. (W&S 10/18) § Wilson Daniels, St. Helena, CA
2017 North Canterbury Sauvignon Blanc ^This grows on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, the vines protected from the ocean winds by a range of coastal mountains. It’s a fresh, substantial white with ripe notes of green pear and a buzz of orangelike acidity. For such a big wine, it manages to feel crunchy and coastal, built for sea bass roasted with fennel. (W&S 10/18) § Mt. Beautiful USA, Benicia, CA
2015 Bolgheri Rosso ^Lush blueberry and black-plum flavors combine with herbal freshness in Grattamacco’s Bolgheri Rosso from the warm 2015 vintage. The contrast of sun-baked coastal ripeness and leafy green herbs creates an exuberant sensation while velvety notes of chocolate, tobacco and freshly tilled earth lend depth to the wine. The price makes it even more delicious. (W&S 4/18) § Domaine Select Wine Estates, NY
N EW Z E A L A N D PINOT GRIGIO 121797
90 | Brancott Estate
2016 Marlborough Pinot Grigio ^Clean and direct, this lovely white sings of fuzzy peaches and ginger tea. The integrated alcohol weighs the wine nicely, lending a silky texture and roundness reminiscent of freshly baked peach cobbler. For seared scallops. (W&S 4/18) § Pernod Ricard USA, Purchase, NY
SAUVIGNON BLANC 121840
93 | Peregrine
2016 Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc ^This is a compelling and fresh white from Peregrine’s organic vineyards in the Cromwell Basin. Though the summer was hot and dry in 2016, Peregrine managed to capture fruit purity in this wine, along with exotic notes of lemongrass, Thai basil and sweet pea shoots. The limey acidity pulls the wine back to make it as tight as a cocked crossbow. A vibrant 110
WINE & SPIRITS
91 | Aveleda
92 | Giesen
VINHO VERDE 2017 Vinho Verde Quinta da Aveleda ^Amazing: Fresh white refreshment for $10. Buy a case and you’ll have a savory, salty Atlantic white to drink all summer long. Right now, it’s delicate, with filigreed lemon-lime flavors offering fruit depth before signing off in a crisp, clean finish. Chill it as an early-evening aperitif, a brunch wine for bacalhão fritters or pike quenelles, or a picnic wine for ventresca tuna salad. (W&S 8/18) § Aveleda, Pawtucket, RI
92 | Grattamacco
an interest in biodynamics and an intention to find a good use of vinhão, the local grape with skins that bleed color into the juice, often producing a rustic red. He’s found it in this sparkling wine—vinous, mineraldriven and savory. This has a bloody ironrose color, predicting the wine’s earthiness, if not the brightness of its fresh cherry flavors. One sip and it’s hard not to think of country pâté, jamón Ibérico, crunchy green olives… (W&S 8/18) § Skurnik Wines, NY
2016 Marlborough Pinot Noir ^This wine gives as much pleasure as the first crop of springtime cherries. Puckery, ripe red fruit flavors give it lift and tang, counterbalancing a firm, tannic structure. Its texture brings to mind the smoothness of cool clay, giving the wine impressive density without weight. (W&S 4/18) § Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits, Petaluma, CA 121735
92 | Otto’s Constant Dream$15
2015 Marlborough Pinot Noir ^Completely destemmed, then fermented in stainless steel, this wine holds its freshness in a fruitforward style. It starts off light, but progresses toward an earthy intensity, with notes of forest floor. Medium bodied, the wine has a push-pull dynamic between its tannins and acidity that’s surprising for a wine at this price: It punches above its class. Great for sipping, or served with pan-roasted salmon. (W&S 4/18) § Communal Brands, Brooklyn, NY
PORT UGAL S PA R K L I N G 231516
92 | Aphros
2013 Vinho Verde Pan Sparkling Rosé ^When Vasco Croft returned to his family’s estate in the hills of Lima, he brought
BUYING GUIDE 2019
90 | Ramos Pinto
90 | Montalegre
2015 Douro Duas Quintas ^A terrific vintage of this classic blend, nesting ripe fruit grown in the hot riverside slopes of the far Douro Superior with cooler flavors of grapes grown at high altitude, this is firm and juicy, with dark purple-berry flavors and black-olive notes. Earthy tannic power comes up in the end, but those tannins have precision, adding to the wine’s presence rather than overwhelming it. The fresh flavors are ready to enjoy with roast squab, turkey or a simple grilled burger. (W&S 2/18) § Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Oakland, CA 226605 2015 Tras-Os-Montes Classico ^Grown in the hills north of Douro, this wine would likely be considerably more expensive if it were from a fancier neighborhood. As it
100 BEST BUYS stands, it’s pretty chic—silky in its texture, sunny in its flavors. Its red fruit tastes of crushed strawberries while a cool, earthy tone of rocks and minerals infuses that fruit, lending it depth and persistence. (W&S 2/18) § Grape2Glass, Newark, NJ
93 | Cossart Gordon
Madeira Full Rich 10 Years Old Malmsey ^This has the compelling richness of a honeypot and luscious golden plums, even as some of its flavors tug in a savory direction, from umeboshi plum to deep, woodsy mushrooms. The wine’s fullness washes over the entire palate, then acidity zips it up, leaving the kind of clarity that’s interesting to pair with a Japanese mountain-root-andmushroom stew. (W&S 10/18) § Premium Port Wines, San Francisco, CA
S O U T H A F RI C A CHENIN BLANC 121266
94 | Silwervis
Swartland Smiley V3 ^A “smiley” is local parlance for a sheep’s head, which some consider a leftover after butchering an animal, and others consider a delicacy. Smiley V1 was made up of leftovers from the 2011 and ’12 vintages. Then Ryan Mostert began to play with his lots of bush-vine chenin, leaving some on the skins, aging some under a blanket of yeast, and intentionally oxidizing some barrels by leaving them in the sun. He blended V3 from lots aging in neutral barrels, stainless steel and glass demijohns. The cloudiness in the color is contrasted by the clarity of the flavor, as savory as veal stock, as bright as fresh-picked fruit (maybe mango, maybe peach). There’s beautiful sunny coolness, along with a zesty shiso-like bite of acidity. It’s awesome deliciousness from the natural-wine camp. (W&S 2/18) § PaCa Imports, Newport, RI; Verity Wine Partners, NY
C I N S A U LT 121181
90 | Terre Brûlée
2016 Swartland Tania & Vincent Carême Le Rouge ^Vincent Carême harvests cinsault early for the fresh side of this blend; he picks the syrah riper, providing some chocolate and peppery spice. Fermented without added yeasts and aged in stainless steel, it’s a light, clean red with forest-floor notes, a wine to match a salad of duck confit. (W&S 2/18) § Cape Classics, NY
S PA IN
RIBERA DEL DUERO RED
92 | Vinos Guerra
2012 Bierzo 1879 Centenaria Mencía ^In the midst of the cascade of red fruit flavors this mencía offers, there are iron notes, mineral and deep, speaking more of the slate ground where the vines ripened their grapes than of something merely varietal. The tension of the tannins adds strength, and the acidity highlights that bloody side until the end. (W&S 8/18) § Private Cask Imports, Palm Beach, FL
C A ST I L L A - L A M A N C H A R E D 229326
92 | Coop. de Cadalso
2016 Madrid Granito del Cadalso Garnacha ^A wine for summer evenings, this is immediately seductive in its notes of tea and herbs, together with raspberry and strawberry aromas, all delicately fresh. The flavors carry more of that subtle delicacy, tense, fruity and profound. From vines between 20 and 70 years old, this grows in the village of Cadalso de los Vidrios, at the foot of the Sierra de Gredos. (W&S 6/18) § Eric Solomon Selections/European Cellars, Charlotte, NC
C A TA L O N I A R E D 231451
93 | La Conreria d’Scala Dei
2014 Priorat La Conreria ^This is an uncommonly subtle Priorat, with ripe fruit notes of strawberries and blackberries in a wine that feels delicate and fresh. The finish is refreshing and slightly herbal, the structure firm, as if the tannins were made of thin steel threads. It’s a blend of cariñena, garnacha, merlot and syrah from vineyards throughout Priorat. (W&S 10/18) § Saranty Imports, Stamford, CT
GALICIA RED 231027
95 | Castro Candaz
2015 Ribeira Sacra Mencía ^Raúl Pérez and Rodrigo Méndez present this as their basic mencía from Ribeira Sacra, blending fruit from vineyards in Chantada and Ribera do Miño. It rises above any such categorization with its lovely fruit flavors and ferrous tannins. The sanguine notes, the tension and the vivid flavors give it an enchanting and distinctly Galician character. For a venison stew. (W&S 8/18) § Skurnik Wines, NY
92 | Valparaíso
2016 Ribera del Duero Finca El Encinal Roble ^Youthful and light, this young-vine tempranillo emphasizes fruity and refreshing flavors, subtler than most Riberas. This vintage is juicy, as usual, with spicy touches and lots of red fruit, even as the finish lasts with the depth of flavor of a more complex wine. (W&S 6/18) § M.S. Walker, Somerville, MA
RIOJA RED 224368
93 | Marqués de la Concordia
2011 Rioja Reserva Viña Alarde ^\Spot-on Rioja from two estate vineyards in Rioja Alta, this is a hunger-inducing red with mouthwatering freshness, a silken feel to the tannins and delicate scents of earthy cherries that last for minutes. Herbal, gamey scents come up as the wine takes on air, a little balsamic, with notes of fresh mushrooms, tomato leaf and rosemary. Light in weight and persistent in its flavors, this is affordable, delicious juice. (W&S 12/17) § The Haciendas Co., NY
94 | Antonio Barbadillo Mateos $20/375ml
Sanlúcar de Barrameda Manzanilla Sacristía AB Primera Saca 2017 ^This Manzanilla comes from Las Canas, a parcel inside the Pago Balbaína. It rested ten years under its veil of flor before being bottled, unfiltered, and now shows notes of salt, toasted nuts, fruit and herbs, all melded into a tense structure. Ready for smoked sardines. (W&S 8/18) § Olé Imports, New Rochelle, NY n
WINE & SPIRITS
BUYING GUIDE 2019
Wine & Spirits 32nd Annual Buying Guide
by Deanna Gonnella
Have a hard-to-buy-for person on your holiday list? That’s usually me. You could fill their cellar with bottles from our Top 100 Wineries of 2018, or help them step up their at-home bar game with one of our Top Spirits. But if you want to go outside the bottle, here is a bonus list of useful and delicious gifts.
Have A Cow
With a long and storied history, Milk Punch is said to have been first made by British writer and royal spy Aphra Behn in the late 1600s. The boozy concoction is made by mixing a spirit with tea, citrus juices, spices and warm milk, then straining the clear liquid off the curds. Eamon Rockey has been putting his spin on the drink since he tended bar at Eleven Madison Park in NYC. He made it a staple at Michelin-starred Betony, taught seminars about it at Tales of the Cocktail and now bottles the only commercially available clarified milk punch. Silky and complex with tart citrus and tropical flavors, it’s terrific stirred and poured over ice. Or use it as a mixer, as at LA’s Harvard & Stone, where the Asylum Seeker combines it with Ilegal Reposado, Grand Marnier and Empirical’s smoked-barley-koji spirit.
Support local farmers who keep sustainable, small-batch cheesemaking alive with Especially Puglia's Adopt a Cow program. With your adoption certificate, you’ll receive a Caciocavallo cheese made from the milk of your herd of rare Podolica cows. Choose a pasture and read up on the farmer and the cheese’s flavor profile; then pick between a half or whole round, aged either three or six months. While you’re at it, adopt an olive tree. When your three-liter tin of singleharvest extra-virgin oil arrives along with a ceramic decanting bottle made by Pugliese artisans, slice a rosemary ciabatta in half and make a tapenade of roughly chopped capers and olives and a glug of oil. Spread it on half the loaf and layer with roasted red peppers, prosciutto and slices of the Caciocavallo.
Rockey’s Milk Punch, 12% abv, $26/750ml at vintryfinewines.com
$120 for a half or $200 for a whole Caciocavallo; $160 for three liters of olive oil, at especiallypuglia.com
Holiday Wrapping in the Bag Americans generate an additional seven million pounds of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, just in wrapping and packing materials. This season, when you are giving the best gift (wine), dress the bottles in reusable bags. Adorned with chalk board tags, these bags are made from recycled linen with a waterresistant coating, so you don’t need to sweat the sweat from that pre-chilled bottle of Champagne you are bringing to the party. Reusable Wine Bags, $20 per set of four at greatusefulstuff.com
WINE & SPIRITS
Straws for a Cause
If a G&T is your drink of choice, you might consider making your own tonic. The DIY Tonic Water Kit contains enough cinchona, citric acid, lemongrass, cubeb pepper and Jamaican allspice to make about 45 drinks. All you need is sugar, water, some citrus and a little bit of time to create a tonic that will impress all of your guests.
The World Economic Forum estimates that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. And, as we throw away some 500 million plastic straws each day in the US, the alternative straw movement is picking up momentum. Our favorites come from Daedra Surowiec, who founded Strawesome in 2009. Her handmade glass straws come in multiple sizes and colors, can be personalized with initials, and boast a lifetime guarantee. This year, Surowiec rolled out Straws for a Cause, embellished with glass sea critters clinging to the side; a portion of their sales goes to groups such as the Marine Conservation Society, Save the Whales and the Sea Turtle Conservancy.
DIY Tonic Water Kit, $26 at food52.com
Straws for a Cause, $6 to $23 per straw at strawesome.com
BUYING GUIDE 2019
THE ART OF WINE. DOWN TO EARTH.
Austrian wines are invitations.
of nature, Austrian wines proudly stand
Simply open a cellar door to meet the
among the worldâ€™s greatest wines and
most approachable international stars
are poured at renowned restaurants all
imaginable: the great wines of Austria.
over the globe.
Produced by true artisans respectful
Crédits : François Joret , Domaine de Murtoli - Corse - France