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THIS ISSUE'S REVIEWS

June 20, 2017 Issue

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ARGENTINA

Mendoza:

Red:

Nieto Senetiner, Mendoza (Argentina) Malbec - Cabernet Franc “Blend Collection” 2014 ($15, Foley Family Wines): Deeply colored, very aromatic and satisfyingly fruity, this red blend (Malbec 60%, Cabernet Franc 40%) from Argentina has a lot going for it.  Soft and fresh tasting, its fruitiness is accented by notes of spice and subtle minerality.  Serve it with turkey burgers, lamb sausage, pasta, pizza, and other easygoing fare.
89 Marguerite Thomas Jun 20, 2017

White:

Trivento, Mendoza (Argentina) Torrontes “White Orchid” Reserve 2016 ($11): Mendoza Torrontes is distinctly different than examples coming from Salta and Cafayete -- it's much more in the citrus zone, while still delivering the characteristic full throttle floral aroma profile.  The addition of 15% Pinot Grigio in this bottling tips things even more into lemon land, and it really works well here.  A solid summertime solo glass of white that's a great value.
90 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

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CHILE

Rosé:

Casillero Del Diablo, Chile (Chile) Reserva Rosé 2016 ($11, Excelsior): A bold, zesty rosé with aromas and flavors of strawberry, cherry and lemon zest, with a dash of pepper coming forward in the finish.  Easy on the wallet, and easy in the glass, especially while grilling on a hot summer day.
88 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

White:

Matetic Vineyards, Casablanca Valley (Chile) Sauvignon Blanc "Coastal" 2016 ($18): Made is a Loire Valley rather than a New Zealand style, with plenty of citrus fruit flavor but enticing secondary notes resembling fresh herbs and newly mown grass as well, this is a delightful summer sipper.  Its crisp acidity guarantees that it will prove very refreshing on a hot afternoon or evening.
90 Paul Lukacs Jun 20, 2017

Casillero del Diablo, Chile (Chile) Chardonnay Reserva 2016 ($11, Excelsior): A crowd-pleasing style that features peach, lemon crème, bright acidity and a medium long finish that brings a tart pineapple note forward.  This will be on some by the glass lists soon if not already.  Nice bang for the buck!
89 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

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FRANCE

Sparkling:

Le Grand Courtage, France (France) Brut Rose NV ($20):

Le Grand Courtage sources its grapes from throughout France and consistently produces a reliably delicious sparkling wine that is fresh, clean, well balanced and refined. The Brut Rose delivers exceptional fruit purity, showing nuances of strawberry and red raspberry, with a lively mousse. Good value in this wine, too.
87 Robert Whitley Jun 20, 2017

Beaujolais:

Red:

Domaine Marcel Lapierre, Morgon (Beaujolais, Burgundy, France) 2015 ($32, Kermit Lynch): One sometimes hears that the best Beaujolais from crus like Morgon or Moulin-a-Vent taste like red Burgundies.  That’s simply not true in my experience.  The best, and this is a stellar example, taste like nothing else.  They are Beaujolais to the core -- not sappy, banana-scented Nouveau, but serious, age-worthy stuff.  This particular Morgon, from a producer widely acknowledged to be one of the region’s best, has a silky texture, red berry and plum fruit, and earthy undertones that linger effortlessly on the palate.  It’s downright delicious and oh so French.
93 Paul Lukacs Jun 20, 2017

Rhône:

Rosé:

Ferraton Pére & Fils, Cotes Du Rhône AOC (France) “Samorens” Rosé 2016 ($14, Sera Wine Imports): A crisp, tart rosé that's long on cherry and raspberry, with accompanying touches of bay leaf and lime zest -- a perfect, very dry summer pink that will join tossed salads or mild cheeses beautifully.  Contains 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Cinsault.
90 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

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ITALY

Piedmont:

Red:

Rocche Costamagna, Langhe (Piedmont, Italy) Nebbiolo “Roccardo” 2015 ($18, Siema): With medium weight and a flavor profile dominated by refreshing mixed berries, silky tannins define the finish.  Relatively low in alcohol (13.5%) this is a good wine to serve with simple braised and grilled meats, but it is also delicate enough to be a savory match for grilled salmon.  Drink now or keep it for another handful of years.
91 Marguerite Thomas Jun 20, 2017

White:

Vietti, Roero Arneis DOCG (Piemonte, Italy) 2016 ($22):

Vietti was among the first vintners in the Piedmont region to craft an Arneis that was a commercial success. Piemonte is first and foremost a region renowned for its red wines. White wines were an afterthought, and often showed it. Through the efforts of Vietti and a few other dedicated producers, the Roero district eventually attained DOC and then DOCG status for Roero Arneis and that has been a good thing, for it is a distinctive white that deserves a bit of TLC. The 2016 is fairly complex for an Arneis, showing aromas of melon, yellow fruits, and a citrus tang. Serve it with cheeses, fish, antipasti or simply enjoy it as a sipper. And be thankful the Currado family, which owns Vietti, hung in there with this once forlorn Italian grape variety.
91 Robert Whitley Jun 20, 2017

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SPAIN

Castilla y León:

Red:

Pitticum, Bierzo (Castilla y León, Spain) Mencia “Aurea” 2010 ($45, Baron Francois): The vines are centuries old.  The color of the wine is deep and inviting. The aromas and flavors are lush and complex, offering layers of fruit (notably cherries), stony minerality, earthiness, and spice.  The texture is like velvet against the tongue, and the finish is long and pleasurable.
95 Marguerite Thomas Jun 20, 2017

Pitticum, Bierzo (Castilla y León, Spain) “Petit” Rosé 2016 ($10, Baron Francois): This irresistible rosé (made from 95% Mencia and 5% Godello) is bursting with fresh ripe fruit counterbalanced by bouncy acidity.  Its most distinguishing -- though subtle -- feature may be the thread of saline minerality that gives it exceptional character and makes you want to keep refilling your glass.  This exuberant pink wine is one of the most perfectly equilibrated and delightful rosés that I’ve sampled in a long time.  It makes a great aperitif wine and can accompany a range of foods, including anything with ham, and light pasta dishes (try it with pasta vongole or spaghetti al pesto for example).
93 Marguerite Thomas Jun 20, 2017

Merayo , Bierzo (Castilla y León, Spain) Mencia 2014 ($9, David Bowler): The Mencia grape, which is found primarily in the northwestern regions of Spain, is gaining traction among consumers.  If you aren’t sure what the Mencia grape offers, this attractive example from Merayo is a wine that expresses the purity of Mencia without any distraction from oak or other wines blended in.  Macerated and fermented in stainless steel tanks, it is intensely aromatic, with a medium body and vibrant fresh berry flavors.  You would be hard pressed to find a better red wine in this price range.
91 Marguerite Thomas Jun 20, 2017

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UNITED STATES

California:

Red:

Goldeneye, Anderson Valley (Mendocino County) Pinot Noir Confluence Vineyard 2014 ($82):

Goldeneye's mastery of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is on full display with this vintage from the Confluence Vineyard. There is a saying in Burgundy that the best wines have "flavor without weight," which is an apt description of the 2014 Confluence. Richness without heft is quite the trick. This vintage of delivers luscious red-fruit aromas, a supple, velvety mouthfeel, and a generous helping of wood spice on the finish. Elegant, refined and utterly delicious. Drink now or hold for another four to six years.
97 Robert Whitley Jun 20, 2017

Black Kite, Anderson Valley (Mendocino County) Pinot Noir River Turn 2014 ($60):

The River Turn block of the Black Kite vineyard is planted entirely to the Pommard clone of Pinot Noir, which holds the promise of firmly structured and ageworthy wines. The 2014 River Turn is all of that and more, a darkly fruited gem that shows flavors of blackberry and blueberry with hints of wood smoke and spice. The tannins are nicely integrated but firm, suggesting that this vintage is still a few years from peak maturity. Score another success for the brilliant but modest winemaker, Jeff Gaffner.
95 Robert Whitley Jun 20, 2017

Goldeneye, Anderson Valley (California) Pinot Noir 2014 ($56): The appellation bottling from Goldeneye's extensive Pinot Noir program is all about the dark side of the variety in this vintage, showing blackberry, black cherry, tart ripe cranberry, damp forest floor and Asian spice.  A charred oak note comes forward in the finish at present, and should integrate nicely with some bottle aging.  Give it a good decanting before serving with something on the wild side -- game bird or boar sound good to me.
92 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

Dutton Goldfield, Green Valley of Russian River Valley (Sonoma County, California) Pinot Noir Fox Den Vineyard 2014 ($62):

Dutton Goldfield's Fox Den Vineyard Pinot from this vintage is a monumental wine among monumental wines. Just one of Dutton Goldfield's many vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs, the Fox Den stands out for its purity of flavor and rich entry on the palate. This one's pure blueberry with a touch of wood spice and supple, rounded tannins that make for easy drinking now, although it would be prudent to allow this beauty to rest for a few years in the cellar as it gradually works its way to peak maturity.
96 Robert Whitley Jun 20, 2017

Steele, Mendocino County (California) Zinfandel Pacini Vineyard "Old Vine Zin" 2013 ($19): A big boy with a lively mix of all the berry colors, with pepper, dill and vanilla joining in the fun, all carried the distance by bright acidity.  I'm going for burgers smothered in blue cheese butter with this one.
90 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

Clos du Vale, Napa Valley (California) Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” 2014 ($52): From a winery known for European styled, fairly restrained Cabernets, this wine needs cellaring to reveal its full charms.  At present, it is fairly tight and tannic, but with a few years under its belt it promises to be truly enticing.  Collectors should take note.
90 Paul Lukacs Jun 20, 2017

Barr Estate, Paso Robles (California) Malbec 2011 ($27): Now that's a snootful of berry pie!  Here's a wine that's ready to drink, and it shows the ripe side of the variety on the palate as well, without selling the savory and spice elements short.  The silky feel and long finish will keep you engaged while you go for something meaty and spicy as a pairing.
90 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

Barr Estate, Paso Robles (California) “Dane Head” 2013 ($24): A neck up silhouette of a Great Dane adorns the front label of this wine -- hence the name -- and the wine is as big as its namesake, carrying black fruit, black pepper, baker's chocolate on a viscous texture through a long fully integrated finish.  A fine foil for grilled beef in just about any expression.  A blend of Malbec, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. 90 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

Migration, Russian River Valley (Sonoma County) Pinot Noir Dutton Ranch 2014 ($68):

This is another gem of a Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley, California's sweet spot for pinot. This one is from the Dutton Ranch and it shows the depth and polish of RRV Pinot. On the nose this vintage offers hints of dark cherry, violets and an interesting black-tea note. On the palate the warm and inviting, with notes of wood spice and cherry. The tannins remain a bit firm, but will soften with another six months to a year in the cellar.
93 Robert Whitley Jun 20, 2017

Sarah's Vineyard, Santa Clara Valley (California) Pinot Noir Reserve 2014 ($60): A very interesting expression -- it's big and bold and ripe in style, with full throttle black cherry, spice and candied raspberry aromas and flavors, but it has fine acidic structure and comes in at 13.6% alcohol. It leaves you with a mouth watering "please may I have some more" attitude.  Located just west of San Jose, it's a somewhat unexpected source.  Love it!
94 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

Sea Smoke, Sta. Rita Hills (Santa Barbara County, California) Pinot Noir Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard "TEN" 2014 ($82): You'll need to prepare before serving this wine -- it's showing its youth at present, but will reward patient handling with a gorgeous mix of black cherry, strawberry, exotic spice and damp earth delivered over taut acidity and structured tannins.  The finish leads with a kiss of sweet oak and gets you salivating for your next bite.  I'd decant this for a minimum of three hours before serving, or age it long term.
93 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

White:

Steele, California (United States) Chardonnay “Cuvée” 2015 ($21): Expertly blended from sources in Carneros, Redwood Valley and Santa Maria valley, this wine delivers the best of those worlds in a style that reaches across preferential barriers.  If you like any style of Chardonnay, there's something you'll like here, whether its tropical, citrus, apple or spice.  All are in balance, playing nicely off each other and finishing long and integrated.  The second Steele Chardonnay I'm happy to recommend in as many weeks.
91 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

Dutton Goldfield, Green Valley of Russian River Valley (Sonoma County, California) Gewurztraminer Dutton Ranch / Green Valley Vineyard 2016 ($30):

This is no doubt the finest dry Gewurztraminer made on North America. But I repeat myself, for this is merely the latest in a long run of brilliant Gewurz by winemaker Dan Goldfield. When you consider that most domestic Gewurztraminer is off-dry or sweet, you also must ask the question why? The reason is quite simple. Dry Gewurztraminer is difficult to nail. Much of it comes out bitter and uninteresting. The easiest path for a winemaker is to leave a bit of residual sugar in the wine and call it a day. Goldfield nails it every time. This vintage shows complex notes of jasmine, pear, grapefruit, honeycomb and citrus. It is impeccably balanced and delivers a long, spicy finish. Another brilliant dry Gewurztraminer from the master.
95 Robert Whitley Jun 20, 2017

Duckhorn, Napa Valley (California) Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($30): Duckhorn has been making a great Sauvignon Blanc for 35 plus vintages, this one certainly included.  A bit of Semillion and 10% new oak add richness and complexity to the fresh citrus, stone fruit and pineapple profile.  It hits my crisp and creamy marker squarely, and finishes long with mild herbaceous notes adding interest.  Lots of pairing possibilities here.
92 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

Pennsylvania:

Red:

Allegro, Pennsylvania (United States) “Bridge” 2013 ($27): Allegro is one of Pennsylvania’s most serious wine producers.  Located in the southeast quadrant of the state near the Maryland border, where winter weather can be rough and summer humidity even more so, Allegro’s top tier wines are all the more impressive given those challenges.  This red blend, aged 22 months in French oak barrels, offers fresh fruit flavors tempered by notes of earth and spice.  Made from Cabernet Sauvignon (42%), Merlot (41%), Petit Verdot (6%).
90 Marguerite Thomas Jun 20, 2017

White:

Allegro, Pennsylvania (United States) Chardonnay 2014 ($22): I think it’s safe to assume that most followers of WineReviewOnline drink wines exclusively from the west coast, western Europe, Argentina and Chile, and Oceana (Australia, New Zealand).   But in certain parts of the USA, notably the eastern states and the Midwest, locally made wines are attracting a following.  If you’d like to expand your own wine drinking experience, here’s something to try.  This Chardonnay is rich and creamy, with ripe, tropical fruit flavors and hints of spicy oak.  With a generous mouth feel and clean finish it’s a wine that will partner especially well with fairly rich foods such as lobster salad, buttery scallops, crab cakes, and mac & cheese.  While Allegro wines are available in many outlets in Pennsylvania, you can phone (717 927-9148) or email the winery for information about direct-to-consumer purchases.
90 Marguerite Thomas Jun 20, 2017

Washington:

Red:

Canvasback, Red Mountain (Washington) Cabernet Sauvignon “Grand Passage” 2014 ($80): The first foray into this price tier for Canvasback is worthy wine indeed.  Utilizing fruit from some of the AVA's finest vineyards, the result is a layered, complex package that shows distinct blackberry, black cherry, mild dried herbs, toffee and dust aromas that lead to a rich structured palate which translates everything beautifully and lingers long with nothing fighting for center stage.  Very well made!  Contains 20% Merlot.
96 Rich Cook Jun 20, 2017

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