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THIS ISSUE'S REVIEWS

October 15, 2019 Issue

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ARGENTINA

Mendoza:

Red:

Toso, Mendoza (Argentina) Malbec "Toso Estate" 2018 ($14, Quintessential Wines):  A rich, razzleberry expression of Malbec that keeps the variety’s savory essence in play nicely.  A dash of pepper joins the proceedings in the finish, suggesting grilled meats or medium strength cheeses as pairing partners.  Wallet friendly pricing doesn’t hurt, either!  
90 Rich Cook Oct 15, 2019


AUSTRIA

White:

Weingut Bernhard Ott, Wagram (Niederösterreich, Austria) Riesling "Feuersbrunn", Estate Bottled 2016 ($25, Skurnik Wines): Wagram is a wine region divided by the Danube River in Austria.  The Ott’s family winery is located on the northern side of the river, an area known for producing ripe, round white wines made from Grüner Veltliner, Roter Veltliner and Riesling.  Bernard Ott is in the fourth generation of the family that established the vineyards, and under his guidance the estate is certified biodynamic.  Grapes are hand-harvested and after the grapes are pressed, Ott exposes the juice to oxygen for several hours.  This process allows the volatile compounds that might oxidize the wine in the bottle to precipitate out of the juice, ensuring the ability of the wine to age in bottle.  His 2016 Riesling is a serious, bone dry white wine capable of standing up to a pork roast.  In the mouth the wine is rich and ripe, redolent of peach, citrus, notes of wet stone and quite complex from three years in the bottle.  Treat yourself.  
96 Rebecca Murphy Oct 15, 2019


CHILE

Red:

Tutunjian, Curicó Valley (Valle Centrale, Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon Single Vineyard, Estate Grown 2015 ($17):  The oversized bottle suggests this will be an oversized wine.  But it’s not.  Rather, mineral-y, savory flavors balance its ripe fruitiness.  A suave texture adds to its appeal.  Wonderful acidity keeps it fresh and amplifies its charms.  A hint of sweetness appears in the finish.  In short, it’s a New World-styled wine with freshness. And a great value! 
93 Michael Apstein Oct 15, 2019


FRANCE

Bordeaux:

Red:

Château Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc (Bordeaux, France) 2016 ($40):   Château Cantemerle has a winemaking history stretching back some six and a half centuries.  It is classified as a Fifth Growth in the legendary 1855 classification of Bordeaux.  Cantemerle regularly offers superb value reds that reflect the character of the Haut-Médoc vineyards.  The 2016 harvest was a high-quality harvest and the best wines show a fine balance of rich fruit, refreshing acidity and supple tannins. The 2016 Cantemerle shows a classic claret style with blackcurrant and blackberry fruit aromas enhanced by elements of cedar, herbs and toasty oak.  The flavors are elegant and supple, with the black fruits interwoven with the herb, smoke and spice tones.  The 2016 Cantemerle is a finely balanced red Bordeaux that will provide delicious drinking for the next decade.  
92 Wayne Belding Oct 15, 2019

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Burgundy:

White:

William Fevre, Chablis (Burgundy, France) "Champs Royaux" 2018 ($25, Domaines Henriot):  The beauty of Chablis is the little-known secret that the village wines often aren’t a big come-down from the district’s premier crus wines.  That’s especially true in the hands of a top producer such as Fevre.  The Champs Royaux from 2018 delivers the signature minerality and stony note of Chablis along with aromas of apple and citrus and a subtle hint of wood spice owing to a small percentage of the vintage that is matured in oak barrels.   
90 Robert Whitley Oct 15, 2019

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Rhône:

Red:

Tardieu-Laurent, Côtes du Rhône (Rhône Valley, France) “Les Becs Fins 2017 ($23, Europvin USA):  I would love to meet Michel Tardieu based on the descriptions in the company website.  The prose is intensely romantic, but light on details.  Despite a careful search, it was hard to find verifiable details about much of the history of the company.  The name comes from the original partners Michel Tardieu from the Rhône Valley and Dominique Laurent from Burgundy.  Together, they created a négociant business in the Rhône Valley.  As négociants, they don’t grow grapes but work with growers who supply the grapes.  Although they are no longer partners Tardieu retained the company name.  Actually, the origin story doesn’t really matter because I loved this wine.  It turned out that 2017 was a challenging vintage, but the grapes that made it to harvest were of good quality.  The resulting wine is 60 percent Syrah and 40 percent Grenache with a perfect balance of Syrah’s power and structure, and Grenache’s generous, strawberry fruit.  Or, as stated on their website, “This, by the grace of Old Grenache, which brought to the highest level the singular personality of the real Rhône Wine.”  (See what I mean about the prose?)  The wine spent ten months in concrete tanks and saw no oak.  It is a delicious wine, fruity, spicy, savory, balanced and well structured.  
94 Rebecca Murphy Oct 15, 2019


GERMANY

Mosel:

White:

Weingut Clemens Busch, Mosel (Germany) Riesling Trocken Pündericher Marienburg Grosses Gewächs 2016 ($55, Louis/Dressner):  The map of the Mosel’s finest vineyards is being enhanced by the exciting wines from Weingut Clemens Busch in Pünderich. The Middle-Mosel village of Pünderich is most noted for the Marienburg vineyard, a site with steep, south-facing slopes and deep slate soils.  This is the same combination that the makes the top vineyards of Bernkastel, Wehlen and Piesport such spectacular growing sites.  As more people experience the scintillating wines of Clemens Busch, we are likely to hear more about Pünderich vineyards.  This is a lively, intense, richly-textured and dry Riesling that demonstrates the potential of the Marienburg vineyard.  While still very youthful, it shows a beautiful purity of fruit along with floral and spice nuances.  Fresh scents of ripe apple, pear, lime, and pineapple are enhanced by floral elements, a wet-stone freshness and lively spice.  The flavors are pure and concentrated with the luscious tropical, apple and citrus fruits interwoven with the spice and floral nuances.  Although it is thoroughly enjoyable now for its purity and depth, the Clemens Busch Marienburg Grosses Gewächs can cellar well for another 20 years or more.    
95 Wayne Belding Oct 15, 2019


ITALY

Red:

Russiz Superiore, Collio DOC (Italy) Cabernet Franc 2016 ($25, Dalla Terra Winery Direct): The reds that do best in the Collio, most renowned for its white wines, are the early ripening varieties such as Cabernet Franc.  Marco Falluga’s Cab Franc under his Russiz Superiore label is a good example of the potential for Cab Franc in the region.  This medium-bodied red shows aromas of cherry and blueberry along with an inviting note of white pepper that becomes more pronounced as the wine sits in the glass.  It will benefit from additional cellar time to soften the tannins and allow the underlying fruit to more fully emerge.   
88 Robert Whitley Oct 15, 2019

White:

Terra Alpina by Alois Lageder, Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT (Italy) Pinot Grigio 2018 ($16):  Alois Lageder, who produces this wine, is one of the most respected winemakers in northern Italy and an icon in Alto Adige.  His signature is purity and freshness and this Pinot Grigio reflects Lageder’s passion on both counts.  With flinty minerality, a gentle beam of fresh citrus and exquisite balance, it’s an extraordinary wine for the price and a beautiful example of the potential of Pinot Grigio to excite and titillate.   
90 Robert Whitley Oct 15, 2019

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Piedmont:

Sparkling:

Luca Bosio, Moscato d’Asti DOCG (Piedmont, Italy) 2017 ($18, Quintessential Wines):  Let me count the ways I love this wine.  One, for its versatility as a partner to a surprising range of foods, from peanuts to pasta al pesto.  Two, for its charming duality combining both gentle sweetness and restorative acidity.  Three, for its delicate little pops of effervescence.  Four, for its low alcohol content (5.5%).  Served well chilled with food or as a cocktail or nightcap, I bet you’ll also love this charismatic, lightly sparkling wine.   
91 Marguerite Thomas Oct 15, 2019

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Trentino:

Sparkling:

Giulio Ferrari, Trento DOC (Trentino, Italy) “Riserva del Fondatore” 2007 ($130, Taub Family Selections):  Harvest began two and a half weeks earlier than usual for this single vineyard wine, with the vines set at southern exposure between 500 and 600 meters in a vineyard that gets two more hours of sunlight and a higher altitude diurnal swing.  That combination of vineyard characteristics ripens fruit well while preserving racy acidity.  The result here is a gorgeous Blanc de Blancs, one still in its infancy.  Delicate brioche, faint autolysis starting to show, golden apple, and soft lemon aromas lead to a creamy palate with unapologetic flavors as promised by the nose.  The finish is starting to lean into a sort of aged white burgundy character, and it’s got a long way to go.  Beautifully realized wine!  
97 Rich Cook Oct 15, 2019

Ferrari, Trento DOC (Trentino, Italy) “Lunelli” Riserva 2006 ($79, Taub Family Selections):  It's a true treat to get to taste two vintages of this wine side by side.  The 2006 shows amazing depth and richness over the 2009 while following the same protocols -- no Stainless, all wood, 2 gram /liter dosage, great length and panache here.  This bodes well for the current release 2009.  No accompaniment needed here -- just savor for a long evening of pleasure.  
96 Rich Cook Oct 15, 2019

Ferrari, Trento DOC (Trentino, Italy) “Lunelli” Riserva 2009 ($65, Taub Family Selections):  This special part of the Ferrari line features fermentation in Slovenian oak vats that are untoasted.  The wine is held on the lees in the wood vats, allowing some micro-oxygenation which produces a classic nutty character, with a note of marzipan joining the apple and citrus mix.  Owner Marcelo Lunelli calls this a wine to eat -- very deep and complex.  It’s an Extra Brut, with only 2 grams /liter dosage.   
95 Rich Cook Oct 15, 2019

Ferrari, Trento DOC (Trentino, Italy) “Perle” 2010 ($42, Taub Family Selections):  The 2010 vintage saw some extra time over its usual aging regimen -- 72 months on the lees and two additional years in the bottle post-disgorgement.  Tasting it side by side with the 2013 shows what you would expect from the bonus years, with a little more wood influence and yeasty character, both of which add a touch of elegance.  Like the 2013, a very fine persistent mousse is evident both on sight and in the mouth, and mixed citrus and apple tones get a dash of salinity that makes the fruit pop.  Over 100 years of experience with local fruit is on full display here.  Bravo!   
94 Rich Cook Oct 15, 2019

Ferrari, Trento DOC (Trentino, Italy) “Perle” Rosé Riserva 2013 ($66, Taub Family Selections):  Beautifully crisp Rosé composed of 80% Pinot Nero and 20% Chardonnay, showing tart strawberry, with some blueberry, soft lemon zest and regional signature salinity that serves to deepen the fruit expression.  I almost never like the rosé as much as the Brut or the Blanc de Blancs in a bubbly lineup, but this is exceptional.   
94 Rich Cook Oct 15, 2019

Maso Martis, Trento DOC (Italy) “Madame Martis” Brut Riserva 2009 ($85):  The top reserve of the house, and a wine worthy of such a designation, showing great freshness at the age of ten.  Apple, pear, quince, mild toast -- words I seem to keep coming up with for TrentoDOC wines -- and a complementary dash of autolysis that adds depth and extends the finish.  A solid, linear, powerful glass that will ride right through the entire meal - and the cheese course to boot.  Contains 5% Pinot Meunier and finished at 5 grams sugar per liter.   
94 Rich Cook Oct 15, 2019

Ferrari, Trento DOC (Trentino, Italy) “Perle” 2013 ($45, Taub Family Selections):  Vibrant tart lemon, lime, green apple and a touch of brioche on the nose entice in this 100% Chardonnay Metodo Classico, and are delivered with zesty acidity on the palate, with a saline note deepening the fruit character.  The extended finish blooms bright, with excellent push of integrated flavor, moderate scour and finesse.  60 months on the lees prior to disgorgement.    
93 Rich Cook Oct 15, 2019

Maso Martis, Trento DOC (Italy) Brut Riserva 2014 ($100):  Sold in magnum bottles, this offers a lively expression of tart green apple, toast and stony minerality, carried on vibrant acidity that is tempered slightly by 50% malolactic fermentation.  It’s certainly a welcome tempering, rounding off any sharp edges and enhancing the creamy texture of the mid palate.  Couple that with Metodo Classico in magnum (almost universally regarded as the optimum size bottle for sparklers undergoing the second fermentation in glass), and you get this beautiful melding of flavor and finesse.   70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Nero, 36 months on the lees.  500 magnums produced.   
93 Rich Cook Oct 15, 2019


PORTUGAL

Alentejo:

Rosé:

Herdade de Sao Miguel, Alentejo (Portugal) Colheita Seleccionada Rosé 2018 ($15, Quintessential Wines):  The dry table wines of Portugal continue to be among the best values in today’s wine world.  This dry rosé, from Alentajo, produced from Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Aragonez grapes, is fresh and lively.  Showing notes of strawberry and citrus, it is beautifully balanced between fresh acidity and a creamy mid-palate.   
90 Robert Whitley Oct 15, 2019


SOUTH AFRICA

White:

A.A. Badenhorst, Swartland (South Africa) Chenin Blanc "Secateurs" 2018 ($16, Broadbent Selections):  Fine Chenin Blancs from South Africa should be on every white wine lover’s shopping list.  The 2018 Badenhorst “Secateurs” Chenin Blanc is consistently among the country’s top, affordable Chenin Blanc bottlings.  The relatively dry climate and difficult growing conditions in Swartland yield wines with surprising concentration and depth.  The Badenhorst Chenin Blanc has an exotic nose of ripe apple, pear, pineapple, honey and citrus.  The intriguing nose is underscored by an equally complex palate.  The succulent, pure pear, apple, citrus and tropical fruit flavors are backed by hints of citrus peel and subtle herbs.  The enchanting aromas and flavors are enhanced by a rich texture and the subtle herb and spice tones that linger at the finish.  
90 Wayne Belding Oct 15, 2019


SPAIN

Rueda:

White:

Martinsancho, Rueda (Spain) Verdejo 2016 ($19, Classical Wines):  This winery, which has been in the same family since 1784, is considered by many to be the leading estate in Rueda.  Offering a lightly floral fragrance and fresh stone fruit flavors it is an altogether friendly and enjoyable white wine with a flinty mineral-tinged finish that is especially appealing.  The wine was fermented in enamel tanks.  
91 Marguerite Thomas Oct 15, 2019

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Valencia:

Red:

Bovale (Issac Fernandez), Utiel-Requena (Valencia, Spain) Bobal Old Vines 2016 ($15, Grapes of Spain):  I was fortunate to travel to Utiel-Requena in March of this year to learn about Bobal, the most extensively planted of all red varieties in Spain (believe it or not!).  I was very impressed by the better examples of the breed, but returned to the USA to find a lamentable shortage of good specimens at prices that could tempt those who don’t know Bobal and are (understandably) reluctant to drop serious cash on a wine from a grape variety they haven’t experienced.  This is the wine to fit that bill.  It shows good “gutsiness” and density, thanks to the high-elevation, old vines from which it was sourced, but without being heavy or tiring to drink, thanks to having been picked before getting too ripe (and then being vinified skillfully and aged for just 6 months in used barrels).  Aromas and flavors of mulberries and black cherries are very attractive, with some savory undertones that keep the wine interesting sip after sip.  Made by the exceptionally talented Issac Fernandez and imported by the irrepressible Aurelio Cabestrero, this should be relatively easy to find for the category…and an exceptionally good ambassador for it.  A wicked good wine to pair with burgers or other un-fussy foods, but certainly not limited to that purpose.  
91 Michael Franz Oct 15, 2019


UNITED STATES

California:

Red:

Frank Family Vineyards, Napa Valley (California) Zinfandel 2016 ($38):  The 2016 Zinfandel from Frank Family Vineyards delivers all of the ripe, jammy berry goodness that Zin has to offer without the over-the-top alcohol by volume (ABV) so common in California Zinfandel.  Blackberry and boysenberry dominate, and a touch of oak spice is the cherry on top.   
93 Robert Whitley Oct 15, 2019

Sparkling:

Schramsberg, North Coast (California) Blanc de Blancs Brut 2016 ($41):  A crisp, scouring wine that features apple, pear and spice aromas and flavors knit together into a fine aperitif style.  The acidity may be a shock at first, so give it a few sips before passing judgment.  Once acclimated, the palate will give you a great fruit push in the finish that will have you wishing for more.  Another winner from this always fine producer!   
92 Rich Cook Oct 15, 2019

White:

Chappellet, Napa Valley (California) Chenin Blanc "Signature" 2018 ($38):  Though a bit pricey for a Chenin Blanc, consider that Chappellet has a long history with this underrated grape variety and winemaker Phillip Corralo-Titus has a no-compromise approach, the same tact he takes with the legendary Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon s.  The 2018 Chenin is beautifully structured, with firm acidity balancing the natural fruitiness of Chenin.  The more common approach is a softer, sweeter, more quaffable expression of the grape.  This vintage is focused on citrus aromas such as lemon and orange zest with a passing whiff of apricot.  Stony minerality adds to the complexity and ultimately to the enjoyment of this stunning example of Chenin Blanc done right.   
94 Robert Whitley Oct 15, 2019

Groth, Napa Valley (California) Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($24):  A complex Sauvignon Blanc that manages to hit a style promising mass appeal but also showing enough depth for more serious wine lovers, with crisp citrus, soft grassy notes and a stony mineral core in both aroma and flavor profiles, lingering long and cleansing the palate.  Oysters, tapas or mild cheeses will serve you well here.   
91 Rich Cook Oct 15, 2019

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Oregon:

White:

Naumes Family Vineyards, Rogue Valley (Oregon) Viognier 2017 ($30):  Viognier is a tough grape to transform into wine.  It needs to ripen adequately to provide its floral dimension, but a little over ripeness brings with it high alcohol and an unbalanced wine.  Despite the stated 14.5-percent alcohol, this one still harnesses delicate floral and peach-like notes both on the nose and the palate.  Enlivening acidity in the finish keeps it fresh and balanced.  Its delicacy is what keeps you coming back for more.  
93 Michael Apstein Oct 15, 2019

Naumes Family Vineyards, Rogue Valley (Oregon) Chardonnay 2016 ($30):  The Rogue Valley in southwestern Oregon does not have the cachet -- yet -- for wine that the Willamette Valley has.  Wines from the Naumes family suggests that will change.  The Naumes family has been growing fruit trees in Oregon for over a hundred years and added grapes and wine only in 2013, according to their website, making them a somewhat new player in the Oregon wine industry.  This Chardonnay and their Viognier show they either have extraordinary beginner’s luck or plenty of talent.  One success might be luck, but two suggests talent.  This is a graceful Chardonnay, delivering fresh apple-like notes enhanced with just the right hint of ripeness.   Bright acidity in the finish makes it a delight to drink now.  
92 Michael Apstein Oct 15, 2019

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Washington:

Red:

Canvasback, Red Mountain (Washington) Cabernet Sauvignon "Grand Passage" 2016 ($84):  The Red Mountain district is one of Washington’s sweet spots for Cabernet Sauvignon, and Canvasback is one of its stars.  The 2016 Grand Passage is richly layered, with impressive depth and complexity.  On the palate the wines offers layers of rich black-fruited aroma, an inviting floral note and beautifully integrated tannins.  While enjoyable now, the pleasure factor will increase exponentially with additional cellar time.  Serve between now and 2026.    
95 Robert Whitley Oct 15, 2019

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