Wine Reviews

1149111490SpainThere are many things to love about this blend of Carignan, Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon. To begin with, it's properly schisty and spicy on the nose, with mature, slightly herbal berry-fruit scents. This feels dynamic despite showing roasted flavors of red berry, pepper and wild herbs. For under $50, this delivers a lot of quality. Drink now–2016.Selecció Especial9246CataloniaPrioratMichael Schachner@wineschachFinca Tobella 2006 Selecció Especial Red (Priorat)Red BlendFinca Tobella
1149211491FranceNow mature, this rounded, ripe wine has yellow fruits, mango and a soft, opulent texture. It's an impressive example of how well Sauvignon Blanc can age in Pouilly Fumé, a style that doesn't quite forget the herbaceous edge of the grape while rounding it out deliciously.Grand Fumé9232Loire ValleyPouilly-FuméRoger Voss@vossrogerFournier Père et Fils 2008 Grand Fumé (Pouilly-Fumé)Sauvignon BlancFournier Père et Fils
1149311492USRight out of the bottle, this is one tough Cabernet. It's very tannic and extracted with blackberry jam, and the oak stands off to one side—sweet and smoky and flashy. However, that “Wow!” factor is always there, and the overall balance suggests cellaring. Already throwing some thick sediment, it should begin to mellow after 2018.Reserve9295CaliforniaNapa ValleyNapaBennett Lane 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)Cabernet SauvignonBennett Lane
1149411493USSo delicious to drink now, it's easy to overlook the complexity and ageworthiness of this Pinot. It's vastly rich in raspberry jam, butterscotch and vanilla flavors, housed in an airy, silky texture. Good as it is, this wine should gain traction over the next 5–6 years.Van der Kamp Vineyard9250CaliforniaSonoma MountainSonomaBjornstad 2009 Van der Kamp Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Mountain)Pinot NoirBjornstad
1149511494PortugalA beautifully structured, ripe wine that's full of juicy blackberry flavors, ripe tannins and a dense texture. The concentration from old vines is a particular character of this firm wine. Age for at least four years to get the full benefits.Muge Vinhas Velhas9222TejoRoger Voss@vossrogerCasa Cadaval 2009 Muge Vinhas Velhas Trincadeira (Tejo)TrincadeiraCasa Cadaval
1149611495USSo many things make this Chardonnay worthwhile. It's bone dry, low in alcohol, vibrant in acidity and minerally, which all give it a compelling delicacy and interest. Yet it's also intense and sweet in Meyer lemon fruit, with a touch of orange peel. If there's a criticism, it's that the oak is obvious, but that's a minor criticism.Estate Grown9250CaliforniaCarnerosNapa-SonomaDonum 2010 Estate Grown Chardonnay (Carneros)ChardonnayDonum
1149711496AustraliaMade in a somewhat restrained, focused style, this wine features hints of smoke combined with peach and pineapple notes to create the impression of grilled fruit aromas and flavors. It's linear and crisp on the palate, with admirable length and mouthwatering citrus notes on the finish. Ready to drink now.Kevin John9275Western AustraliaMargaret RiverJoe Czerwinski@JoeCzCullen 2008 Kevin John Chardonnay (Margaret River)ChardonnayCullen
1149811497AustraliaCullen's Kevin John remains one of Margaret River's (and Australia's) benchmark Chardonnays. Scents of grilled peaches lead into flavors of pineapple, vanilla and smoke, but more importantly, the palate is balanced just right. It's not too broad, not too lean; not overly sharp, but not soft. The finish is long and harmonious.Kevin John9275Western AustraliaMargaret RiverJoe Czerwinski@JoeCzCullen 2009 Kevin John Chardonnay (Margaret River)ChardonnayCullen
1149911498SpainThe bouquet on this blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah is toasty and elevated, a clear invitation to dig in. In the mouth, the flow is silky smooth and just snappy enough, with finely etched acidity pushing raspberry, plum, herb and cocoa flavors. This is excellent in every way; drink now–2018.Santa Rosa Reserva9245LevanteAlicanteMichael Schachner@wineschachEnrique Mendoza 2008 Santa Rosa Reserva Red (Alicante)Red BlendEnrique Mendoza
1150011499USRobert Brittan oversees this project. This first release is a cuvée assembled from a selection of barrels he had vinted at the Carlton Winemakers Studio. Silky and dappled with details of underbrush, bramble, black cherry, cassis, smoke and clean earth, this is a lovely blend with elegance to spare. The low alcohol in no way means this is a thin or shallow wine.Eréndira9235OregonWillamette ValleyWillamette ValleyPaul Gregutt@paulgwine Ermisch 2010 Eréndira Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley)Pinot NoirErmisch
1150111500USCreated by Joshua Klapper, the fine winemaker at La Fenetre, for Santa Monica's Fig Restaurant, this wine is balanced in alcohol and subtle, but complex in its array of fruits, spices, earth, oak, tannins and acids. If you're in the area, check it out.9234CaliforniaSanta Maria ValleyCentral CoastFig 2010 Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley)Pinot NoirFig
1150211501SpainThis defines small-production, high-end Priorat. Leather, tomato, spice and tobacco are draped all over subdued plum and cherry aromas. The palate is silky in feel, with peppery spice, mocha and red-fruit flavors. On the finish, anise and mild herb flavors dominate. Drink now–2017. Only 250 cases made.Montsalvat9280CataloniaPrioratMichael Schachner@wineschachFrancesc Sanchez Bas 2006 Montsalvat Red (Priorat)Red BlendFrancesc Sanchez Bas
1150311502USHuge, gigantic, so impressive for its sheer volume of fruit. At the age of nearly five years, it's as fresh as the day it was released, with rich flavors of cherries, red currants and dark chocolate. Shows Merlot's soft tannins, making it lovely to drink now, but should continue to develop over the next 6–8 years.9250CaliforniaNapa ValleyNapaMadorom 2008 Merlot (Napa Valley)MerlotMadorom
1150411503ArgentinaAfter years of tasting Don David Malbecs, here's one that rises above the rest. This is jammy and stacked with brawny black-fruit aromas. The mouth is bulky and bullish, but balanced, with blackberry flavors that are coated with copious oak and end in a tornado of coffee, mocha, mint and oak. Drink now–2016.Don David Finca la Maravilla #69225OtherCafayateMichael Schachner@wineschachMichel Torino 2011 Don David Finca la Maravilla #6 Malbec (Cafayate)MalbecMichel Torino
1150511504USThis is a bold, vital young Syrah. It's from the Santa Ynez Valley, although you'd never know that from the label, and shows that region's affinity for producing superior Syrah, when the farming is good. The wine is full-bodied and fairly high in alcohol, with rich, intricate blackberry, black currant, licorice, bacon, baker's chocolate and black pepper flavors. Delicious now, and will evolve over the next six years.Ballard Canyon Estate Reserve9236CaliforniaSanta Barbara CountyCentral CoastRusack 2010 Ballard Canyon Estate Reserve Syrah (Santa Barbara County)SyrahRusack
1150611505USBolinas-based Sean Thackrey's new project, Cassiopeia is centered on one block from a single Anderson Valley vineyard. His quest was to see what four different Pinot Noir clones on one rootstock, all the same age, and treated otherwise similarly, could become once turned into wine. This, the 114, is lightly rendered, though deceptively full and meaty, tasting of dark cherry and herb.Cassiopeia Wentzel Vineyard Clone 1149245CaliforniaAnderson ValleyVirginie Boone@vbooneSean Thackrey 2010 Cassiopeia Wentzel Vineyard Clone 114 Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley)Pinot NoirSean Thackrey
1150711506USThis is another outstanding vintage for Seven Hills Malbec, clearly one of the best in the Northwest. Dark, concentrated and impeccably focused, this mixes raspberry and cherry fruits with threads of smoke, espresso and dark, roasted wood. The tannins are gorgeous—smooth, powerful and stylish to the point of silkiness. Licorice and dark chocolate put the bow on the finish.9230OregonWalla Walla Valley (OR)Oregon OtherPaul Gregutt@paulgwine Seven Hills 2010 Malbec (Walla Walla Valley (OR))MalbecSeven Hills
1150811507USCrafted from the oldest vines in one of the oldest vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley, this displays lovely aromatics of leaf, herb, earth and wild berry. Tight and contained, it opens into a focused, lively wine with great acidity. It has the potential to age well for a decade or more.Seven Hills Vineyard9238OregonWalla Walla Valley (OR)Oregon OtherPaul Gregutt@paulgwine Seven Hills 2010 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Walla Walla Valley (OR))Cabernet SauvignonSeven Hills
1150911508USA huge wine, massively extracted with raspberry and cherry jam fruit, with complex hints of mocha, cola, vanilla, buttered toast and wood spice. The richness is balanced by firm acidity, smooth tannins and a stony minerality. Seems to be offering its best now and over the next 3–4 years.Rosella's Vineyard9252CaliforniaSanta Lucia HighlandsCentral CoastSiduri 2011 Rosella's Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands)Pinot NoirSiduri
1151011509USA fine wine that shows the complexity and volume of the Santa Lucia Highlands. The wine is thoroughly dry and fairly full-bodied for a Pinot Noir, offering rich black cherry, currant and mineral flavors. Its depth and sturdy tannins suggest cellaring for 5–6 years.Soberanes Vineyard9248CaliforniaSanta Lucia HighlandsCentral CoastSiduri 2011 Soberanes Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands)Pinot NoirSiduri
1151111510USExpensive, yes, but very fine, notable for a lovely structure and ripe, complex flavors that should develop in the cellar. It's dry, smoothly tannic and awesomely rich with blackberries and currants, and a gorgeous application of sweet new oak. Great now, and will easily develop over the next 10 years.Jean Louis Vermeil Frediani Vineyard9285CaliforniaCalistogaNapaVermeil 2009 Jean Louis Vermeil Frediani Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Calistoga)Cabernet SauvignonVermeil
1151211511USA deliciously likeable Pinot Noir, sweet as a raspberry crumble pie, yet with qualities of mushrooms, minerals and something formidable from the earth that give it great complexity. The winemaker, Drake Whitcraft, has kept the alcohol to a relatively low 13.4% by volume, so the wine feels light and airy. Yet it possesses great seriousness. The vineyard is within a touchdown pass of the Santa Rita Hills boundary. Drink now–2020.Pence Ranch Clone 8289250CaliforniaSanta Ynez ValleyCentral CoastWhitcraft 2011 Pence Ranch Clone 828 Pinot Noir (Santa Ynez Valley)Pinot NoirWhitcraft
1151311512FranceGold color, this is a delicious ripe wine from the small section of the Layon valley that also has the Quarts de Chaume vineyard. The honeyed character is cut through with dry botrytis, baked apples and brown sugar, balanced by intense acidity.Les Aunis9235Loire ValleyCoteaux du Layon ChaumeRoger Voss@vossrogerChâteau de la Roulerie 2010 Les Aunis Chenin Blanc (Coteaux du Layon Chaume)Chenin BlancChâteau de la Roulerie
1151411513FranceA structured, ageworthy wine that has fragrant, smoky black currant fruits, layered with firm tannins. It is finely balanced, elegant, its acidity just the right balance to the developing rich fruits. For aging over 3–4 years.Le Grand Bouqueteau Réserve9219Loire ValleyChinonRoger Voss@vossrogerChâteau du Coudray Montpensier 2010 Le Grand Bouqueteau Réserve (Chinon)Cabernet FrancChâteau du Coudray Montpensier
1151511514FranceThe massive 2009 vintage has produced a rich, full-bodied wine. Wood aging shows in the smoothing of the tannins, which are joined by concentrated blackberry fruits, a smoky, just burnt wood character and a dark character that will need several years to open up.Les Millerits9249Loire ValleyAnjou Villages BrissacRoger Voss@vossrogerDomaine des Rochelles 2009 Les Millerits Cabernet Sauvignon (Anjou Villages Brissac)Cabernet SauvignonDomaine des Rochelles
1151611515FranceFull-bodied wine that is soft, washing easily over the palate. The downside is that it lacks definition, the tannic structure lost in the velvet texture. Drink now.Château de la Perrière86BeaujolaisBrouillyRoger Voss@vossrogerGeorges Duboeuf 2009 Château de la Perrière (Brouilly)GamayGeorges Duboeuf
1151711516AustriaThe Stiftsbreite vineyard has a claim to fame: It is the largest St. Laurent vineyard in the world. This fruity wine sums up the grape with ripe red berry and spicy black cherry flavors, just bursting with juice and bright acidity.Ausstich Tattendorf8622ThermenregionRoger Voss@vossrogerStift Klosterneuburg 2008 Ausstich Tattendorf St. Laurent (Thermenregion)St. LaurentStift Klosterneuburg
1151811517ChileCreamy and herbal on the nose, with mild vegetal aromas and big but bland black-fruit scents. The palate is big and chunky, with heavy berry flavors tempered by herbal notes. Same goes for the finish, which is thick and hefty but a little sticky.Ecos de Rulo86Colchagua ValleyMichael Schachner@wineschachViña Bisquertt 2007 Ecos de Rulo Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley)Cabernet SauvignonViña Bisquertt
1151911518ChileSpunky and bright in terms of its aromatics, with musky lime and mineral notes. The palate is both juicy and round, with lemon, lime and piercing, pithy citrus flavors. Citric, sheering and foxy on the finish, and exceedingly cleansing.Albamar8611Casablanca ValleyMichael Schachner@wineschachWilliam Cole 2009 Albamar Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca Valley)Sauvignon BlancWilliam Cole
1152011519USA little aggressive in feline spray notes, but pulls back just in time to let the gooseberry, grapefruit, lemon and lime flavors star. Crisp acidity provides fortunate balance to this sweetly fruit wine.8620CaliforniaNapa ValleyNapaMario Bazán 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley)Sauvignon BlancMario Bazán

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