AppellationsTen’s Significant Seventy for 2017

The source of Significant Seventy wines

During the course of 2017 AppellationsTen tasted many wines from around the world.  Some of these wines caught our attention in particular.  These outstanding wines deserve special mention and make up our Significant Seventy for 2017.  We hope you will find them as significant as we did.

Why did we find these wines significant?  Something in these wines and caused us take particular notice.  Overall quality of course, but It may have been the impact of a wine upon us, or certain characteristics like the fruit, aroma, taste, or texture that were distinct and gratifying or unique.  Wines that exhibit unique qualities usually excite us.

In line with AppellationsTen’s scope, the Significant Seventy are not confined to one or two countries or areas.  Eleven countries are represented in these wines.  Price is not a selection factor and wines come from across the price spectrum.  The only ordering is by wine style grouped as follows –

Rhone-Style
Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bordeaux-Style Blends
Bordeaux, France, Red
Italy, Red
Malbec, Tannat, Carmenere
Additional White
Additional Red
Dessert, white

A few aged wines not in current-release are found in our selection also.  Such wines may be used as a guide to future releases or may be found in the producer’s library or at auction.  Regarding the section entitled “Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-Style Blends”, they don’t all contain Cabernet Sauvignon, and nearly all only contain Bordeaux-style grapes.

AppellationsTen is excited to bring you the most thrilling wines we tasted during 2017.  We encourage you to investigate these wines and find adventure in the process.  We hope you are as inspired by these wines as we are.

Cheers!

Rhone-Style

Mourvèdre, Kenneth Volk

90, Mourvèdre, Kenneth Volk, Enz Vineyard, Lime Kiln Valley, Cienega Valley, 2012
Despite the light-purple color of this Mourvèdre, the character is quite intense. The wine boasts distinctive aromas of mocha, chocolate, with a trace of leather, and bright flavors of ripe plum and red fruits. A crisp demeanor with elevated acid levels, and a lasting finish.  About $36.

93, Carignan, Ridge Vineyards, Buchignan Ranch, Alexander Valley, 2014
Grapes for Ridge ‘s Carignan come from gray gravelly clay loam soil on Stan Buchignani’s ranch on the western edge of Alexander Valley.  Presently planted to 13.2 acres of Carignane, and about 6 acres of Zinfandel, and an acre of Zin mixed with Carignane, the head-trained vines went in initially over the period 1927 to the early 1950s by Stan’s ancestors.  Radiant ruby-purple in color. Gorgeously detailed, delivers ethereal aromas of violets and bramble-berries, followed by delicate, ripe, sweet red and black fruit on the palate. This medium-light-weight displays delicate expressiveness and elegance, a supple touch and feel, all on a lithe frame.  About $30.

Syrah, Jaffurs, Bien Nacido Vineyard

91, Syrah, Jaffurs, Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley AVA, Santa Barbara County, 2013
Deep ruby-purple with onyx hues. Pungent aromas of dark berry fruit, hickory, and a trace of minerality. In the mouth a plethora of blackberry fruit, grilled meat with Bar-B-Q sauce, and a hint of tar. A mid-weight with rich dark fruit, proper acid level, and well-managed tannins for structuring.  About $50.

91, Shiraz, Meerea Park Aunts, Hunter Valley, Australia, 2014 
Deep, royal-purple in color and named after three pioneer women who in the 1830’s originated the first homestead on ‘Meerea’.  A single vineyard wine from the old-vine Kindred Family Homestead vineyard planted in 1965.  After open-vat fermentation, the wine was aged 16 months in French Hogsheads (barrels), 45% new.  An immense, muscular Shiraz, richly fruited, with structuring tannins, vibrant acid, and a judicious alcohol level of 13.5%.  This wine will age awhile.  Delivers blackberries, blueberries, hickory wood, and a hint of coffee, all with a smooth texture and good length.  About $44.

Rideau Viognier, Los Olivos District, 2015

93, Viognier, Rideau Vineyard, Stainless Steel, Los Olivos District, Santa Barbara County, 2015
Rideau’s pale-gold Viognier showcases astoundingly expressive aromas of ripe sliced peach, sun-warmed apricot, Bosc pear, and a hint of fennel. The palate is awash with flavors of stone-fruit, honey, and melon. Displays a refreshing acid level with ripe fruit, an incredible sensory journey takes place in this exciting white wine.  About $41.

92, Syrah, Kale, Alder Springs Vineyard – Spirit Rock, Mendocino County, 2013
The Syrah vines for Kales 2013 are grown on the 6,000-acre Alder Springs Ranch in northern Mendocino County, at Spirit Rock, the highest planting there being 2,700 feet in what Kale calls “extremist viticulture”.  The alluvium of the fractured sandstone soil, and the perennial cover crop all attenuate vine vigor and growth and lend to the structure and character of his thrilling Syrah.  The Spirit Rock grapes were employed in whole berry form as 80% Syrah and 4% Viognier, with 16% as whole Syrah Clusters.  Hand pigage in both stainless steel and French oak open top tanks was used during fermentation, followed by extended maceration and 18 months aging without racking in 55% neutral French puncheons and 33% new French barrels.  Bottling was unfined and unfiltered.  Dark purple to black in color with sumptuous aromas of mocha, blackberries, chocolate, and spice.  In the mouth, berry fruit, thick black-raspberry compote, and a note of minerality.  A middle-heavy weight, this vintage has more focus than the 2012, and is very well knit together. Showcases power with elegance, and the ample acid level provides freshness plus the capacity to age.  A pretty complete package, and when the ripe fruit and fine-grained tannins are added in, this Syrah is exquisite!  About $45.

91, Petite Sirah, Ridge, Lytton Estate, Sonoma County, 2015
Ridge’s Lytton Estate Petite Sirah is produced in their eco-sustainable facility near Healdsburg.  Encircled by vines reaching 155-years of age, Ridge’s Lytton Springs eco-sustainable winery is constructed from vineyard sand and clay with straw bales providing insulation to maintain proper temperatures for wine making and élevage.  Deep royal-purple in color. Lavishly expressive, delicate aromas of violets and blueberries. On the palate brambleberries, plum, dry earth and minerals. Medium-weight with luscious, ripe fruit, this is an agile and elegant wine with a smooth texture.  The initial planting of Petite Sirah took place in 1901.  About $37.

Kale Rosé, MaGah Vineyard

91, Rosé, Kale, MaGah Vineyard, 2016
Kale describes his 84% Grenache, 16% Mourvédre, 280-case blend as “the lightest rosé we have ever produced”.  The rosé was fermented in a cast stone concrete egg, which breathes supplying micro-oxygenation, and also allows all the wine to circulate in the egg due to the egg’s shape and the released carbon dioxide during fermentation, thus providing a type of bâtonnage (lees stirring).  Pale salmon in color with fabulous aromas of refreshing wet gravel, fresh sliced pears, red raspberries, and a hint of mulberries. This medium-weight rosé is well-tied-together, and displays ripe, elegant fruit and showing fine purity. A complex wine boasting an extraordinary snowflake-like, nuanced texture.  About $35.

91, Shiraz, d’Arenberg, The Dead Arm Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia, 2013
A big one, this Shiraz, echoed by its impenetrable black-purple color.  Fermented in small batches, this wine sees not only basket pressing, but foot treading as well for a gentle touch.  The intensity of this wine, comes at least in part from an ailment killing one of the cordons, resulting in the roots giving all their nutrients to the remaining half of the plant.  After fermentation in partially new French and American oak barriques, the wine is aged on its lees without fining, filtration, or racking.  Lavish blackberry with dark plum aromas, followed by a rich palate of coffee, black fruit, minerality, and a whisper of tar.  Copious quantities of dense black fruit, enveloping ripe tannins, and a lengthy finish.  Massive, balanced, and very nicely tied together.  About $65.

91, Rosé, Acquiesce, Lodi, 2016
This light-salmon colored rosé of Grenache unveils mild-raspberry with a trace of anise on the palate. Delicate and agile in character with a supple touch and feel, this wine delivers elegance. Refreshing with good purity of fruit.  About $24.

Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bordeaux-Style Blends

92, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yeringberg, Yarra Valley, Australia, 2014
Vivid crimson-hued purple in color.  Uncommon aroma and flavor profile, delivering tobacco leaf, toast, and coco aromas, and red and black fruit with fruitcake to the palate.   This delicious Cabernet blend showcases an elegant entry with great balance of components and taste.  Just the right intensity with a velvet touch.  About $90.

90, Lateral, Napa Valley, 2013
Lateral’s blend of certified organic Merlot 66%, and Cabernet Franc 34% was inspired by the wines of Bordeaux’s famed Château Cheval Blanc in Saint-Émilion, France.  This Napa Valley rendition by Lateral’s proprietor Marty Mathis, former winemaker at Kathryn Kennedy Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains, demonstrates great balance of components and taste, superb delineation, while the fine-grained tannins help achieve an elegant character.  Delivers delicious black cherries, Santa Rosa plum, and spice box to the palate.  This 2013 shows intensity without being overbearing, is precise in touch and feel, and the acid level provides good freshness.  About $50.

95, Bond, St. Edan, Oakville, Napa Valley, 2013
St. Edan sources from a north-facing 11-acre knoll composed of red fractured volcanic rock rich in iron a bit north of Oakville Crossroad.  Inky-black-purple in color, the 2013 reveals aromas of black-violet and cigar-box while offering dark currants, blackberries, and a hint of mineral on the palate.  Dense with extract, this 2013 St. Edan exudes smooth, focused power while displaying a precise touch and feel.  Structured with well-managed tannins, good purity of fruit, superbly balanced and symmetrical, this is a very complete wine.  About $600.

Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosenquist Ranch

91, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder Winery, Rosenquist Ranch, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, 2014
Mount Veeder Winery is not exactly new to grapevines. Their first vintage was 1973. The winery lays claim to the fact that founder Michael Bernstein, along with Arlene Bernstein, made Mount Veeder Winery Napa Valley’s first to plant all five of the classic Bordeaux grape varieties. This elegant effort, wearing a midnight-ruby-purple robe, showcases ripe, sweet, opulent fruit that displays excellent purity. The beautiful deep color is typical of past vintages. Fresh, brambly blackberry fruit with a pale nuance of maltha, the acid level provides lift. Supple, silky and round, well tied together with light viscosity in touch and feel, all in absolute harmony. Gently intense in character, and very lightly coating. Kudos on the uniqueness!  About $100.

95, Cabernet Sauvignon, Spottswoode Estate, St. Helena, Napa Valley, 2014
Organically farmed since 1985, Spottswoode’s 2014 blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot spent 20 months in 60% new French oak barrels.  Deep ruby with purple highlights, this 2014 offers violets, black and blue fruit, crème de cassis, spice, and blackberry compote.  The wine has a light-weight feel but is inherently dense.  The buoyancy adds to the expressiveness.  Fine overall balance and supple, solid structure is apparent.  Kudos to an uncommonly elegant and opulent effort!  About $225.

92, Cabernet Sauvignon, Anomaly Vineyards, Napa Valley, 2014
Deep ruby in color.  The weight appears light, but there is extract and substance.  Animated with great vitality supported by the level of acid.  Showing fine purity, the dark fruit is carried on a lightweight but strong frame of very fine-grained tannins.  About $110.

91, Petit Verdot, Drava Wines, Lodi, 2014
Expressive, understated, and elegance personified! Medium-light opaque-purple in color. The ripe red and blue fruits have a gentle touch and feel. Fine balance and harmony are intrinsic, while the tannins are mild and silky. Very quaffable, genteel, and a unique expression of Petit Verdot!  As Drava says, “In California, but with Štajerska inspiration”.  About $26.

The Yates Family

91, Red Blend, Yates Family Vineyard, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, 2013
The Yates Family Vineyard really is a family operation. Parents and children divide the tasks between them. Michael Yates would tell you the same thing he told me when he said, “I am a farmer.” Purple with crimson hues, this extraordinary mid-weight blend, including 20% Cabernet Franc, presents an especially alluringly, inviting character. Offers copious aromas and flavors of black currant, Damson plum, crème de cassis, violet, and roasted coffee accompanied by a mineral touch. A light texture is present, and the wine shows fine balance and harmony with an intense, lengthy finish. Even more approachable than in some past vintages, although it has always been amicable.  About $65.

 

90, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trinchero, Mario’s Vineyard, St. Helena, Napa Valley, 2012
This ruby-purple, 100% Cabernet shows aromas of blackberries and chocolate with the purity of quality fruit on the palate.  The touch and feel is precise and smoothly textured, with excellent overall balance and a lasting finish.  This well-made wine’s outstanding attribute is its seamless, polished character.  About $95.

91, VIK, Cachapoal Valley, Chile, 2011
Proprietor Alexander Vik’s Chilean wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Carménère, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, and 4% Syrah. Called “high precision viticulture”, the sourcing vines are on six different densely planted, parcel-matched rootstocks approaching 10,000 plants per hectare. Grapes were gravity-fed to small stainless for a five-week maceration and native-yeast fermentation. New French oak barrels housed the wine for malolactic, 23 months of aging, three-month racking, and a light finishing filtration. Ruby-purple in color with medium-weight and good intensity. Delivers ripe, focused, tangy red and dark fruit, mulberries, tobacco, and truffles, with a nice vein of acidity. Possesses a harmonious, precise, focused character on a mineral background with good length. Notable quality and unique in character.  About $140.

90, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamble Family Vineyards, Oakville, Napa Valley, 2009
This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Bordeaux Clone 337 grapes grown on Gamble’s estate Family Home Vineyard, 3.7 acres in size with volcanic, rocky soils on an Oakville knoll top.  Purple with russet hues, this mid-weight 2009 reveals notes of mulberry, cedar, plum, and star anise.  Well extracted, the feel is supple, and elevated acid balances the dark fruit.  About $115.

91, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dalla Valle, Oakville, Napa Valley, 2013
The Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot grapes for this deep-purple blend come from Dalla Valle’s vineyard, which is situated above the valley several hundred feet in Oakville’s eastern hills.  After cold-soaking, the wine was fermented, macerated on the skins, and aged for 22 months in barriques before bottling without fining or filtration.  This mid-weight brings aromas of dark berry fruit, with a hint of flowers followed in the mouth by blackberries and a nuance of walnuts.  Possesses sufficient acid to balance the ripe fruit and refresh, along with density, extract, and intensity.  About $225.

93, Rudd, Oakville Estate Proprietary Red, Oakville, Napa Valley, 2013
The 2013 Rudd Proprietary Red offers an inviting, harmonious Bordeaux-style blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot.  The grapes are grown on red volcanic stone and gravel, with élevage in all new French oak.  This ruby-hued-purple 2013 reveals aromas of delicate violet, Asian plum sauce, and fresh blackberries.  A seamless composition with a light but notable texture.  Possessing ultrafine tannins and a supple touch and feel with plenty of rich, quality fruit, this wine has an elegant personality.  About $175.

95, Cabernet Sauvignon, Harlan Estate, Napa Valley, 2013
Harlan’s 2013 Estate, is an extraordinarily sensual wine offering a supple feel and opulent, luscious dark fruit.  Rich with ripe tannins and nicely balanced, this ruby-tinged-purple blend yields aromas of blackberry jam, tobacco leaf, and cocoa, with mulberries, vanilla, and a nuance of caramel on the palate.  Compact and efficient, yet sensual and alluring.  Detailed and meticulous, but open and inviting.  An extraordinary Cabernet!  About $1,195.

93, Merlot, Twomey, Soda Canyon Ranch, Napa Valley, 2012
Twomey’s 2012 Merlot brings more substance to the glass than its transparent ruby color and barely mid-weight might indicate.  No surprise, because Danile Baron set the foundations here, and Consulting Winemaker Jean-Claude Berrouet continues, both having made wine at famed Château Pétrus in France.  The wine certainly fills Bordeaux’s Right Bank prescription, delivering black cherry, vanilla, and fresh roasted coffee with seamless construction, great smoothness in texture, loads of ripe, opulent fruit, and mild tannins.  This single vineyard bottling is a composition of about 80% Merlot, with the balance in Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot all from Soda Canyon Ranch in southern Napa Valley, this is a superb effort showing harmony and great elegance.  About $65.

95, Bond, Vecina, Oakville, Napa Valley, 2013
Grapes for Vecina, meaning neighbor in Spanish, come from east-facing 11-acres of fine grained alluvial over bedrock terraced volcanic slopes in Oakville’s western foothills.  This deep-purple Bordeaux-style blend is loaded with rich dark fruit expressing fine purity, and vibrant with power from entry to the lengthy finish.  Delivering crème de cassis, mocha, cedar, lead pencil, and mineral, this 2013 is dense yet inviting.  Evidencing well integrated and managed, structuring tannins, the acid level is just right, and this one should age for a very long time.  About $650.

91, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trefethen Family Vineyards, Oak Knoll, Napa Valley, 1992, 3-liter
This large format library wine from Trefethen Family Vineyards is a stunningly beautiful example of a quarter-century old Cabernet Sauvignon.  With 5% Merlot in the mix of the estate grapes, this 1992 showcases a supple touch and feel, silky tannins, and a seamless presentation.  Offering enticing aromas of black tea, peony, menthol, and cedar, this Cabernet still displays ripe, sweet fruit with fine overall balance.  An age worthy effort!  About $1,215.

92, Cabernet Sauvignon, Silver Oak, Soda Canyon, Napa Valley, 2012
This dark-purple mid-weight 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Silver Oak’s gravely, volcanic Soda Canyon Vineyard displays a silky-smooth texture and utterly seamless construction.  The inobtrusive tannins and just-right acid provide structure, and they balance with the quality fruit.  Showcases aromas of blackberry, black currant, nutmeg, and sweet Spanish cedar.  An elegant effort with a persistent finish!  About $115.

93, Cabernet Sauvignon, Kelleher, Brix Vineyard, Oakville, Napa Valley, 2012
This deep purple 100% Cabernet from Kelleher’s Oakville Brix Vineyard offers aromas of fresh blackberries, caramel-covered dark fruit, underbrush, and fresh roasted coffee.  Medium to full bodied, richly fruited, and delivering a robust presence, silky tannins, and a creamy texture, this 2012 is very well-balanced, has complexity as well as structure for aging, and is deliciously inviting right now.  About $95.

94, Cabernet Sauvignon, Heitz Wine Cellars, Martha’s Vineyard, Oakville, Napa Valley, 2012
This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Heitz Wine Cellars was produced from fruit grown in the heralded Martha’s Vineyard in Oakville, now Certified Organic.  This black-purple mid-weight received 3½ years of oak aging.  Showcasing aromas of black tea, chocolate, and mint, this elegant and agile Cabernet offers black-cherry, caramel, and a smooth, creamy texture on the palate.  Long, exquisitely balanced, and greatly rewarding.  About $235.

 

Bordeaux, France, Red

95, Château Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan, France, 2014
Beautiful deep purple in color with red hues.  The beguiling aromas of ripe fruit with great purity are framed by hints of cassis, spice box, walnuts, and a trace of dry earth.  The wine opens in the glass immediately and distinctly, but also subtly.  A complex, medium-weight that sports a seamless texture with a supple, agile character.  This 2014 displays an elegance integrated to its core.  The rear palate boasts fabulous dark fruit flavors with clinging grip.  The persistent finish expressively shows notes of delicious, fruity-dark chocolate.  Haut-Bailly keeps exceeding!  About $80.

92, Château Talbot, 2014, Saint-Julien, France, 2014
Radiant black-purple in color, this 2014 shows an aromatic nose of ripe blackberries, cassis liqueur, and a hint of milk-chocolate.  This medium-bodied wine shows touches of opulence with rich fruit, extract, and a smooth, supple feel.  The ripe tannins provide a well-integrated, significant structure.  With intensity in flavor and character, this wine is also elegant, expressive, and complex.  Very good now, this is definitely a wine to watch as it evolves.  About $55.

Château Canon-La-Gaffelière, Saint-Émilion, 2014

92, Château Canon-La-Gaffelière, Saint-Émilion, France, 2014
This 2014 makes yet another very approachable wine turned out by Stephan von Neipperg’s Château Canon-La-Gaffelière.  The wine’s juicy, easy entry belies its precision and structure.  Good balance graces this harmonious, red-purple offering.  Fragrant violet with ripe black and red berry aromas upon entry, join rich black-cherry, raspberry, fig, and a hint of dark plum jam on the palate with just the right intensity.  Canon-La-Gaffelière’s successes continue!  About $70.

90, Château La-Gaffelière, 2014, Saint-Émilion
Purple with red hues.  This wine brings an aromatic nose of dark fruit.  Cassis and cranberry notes show on the palate, with a refreshing vein of acid in the background.  A little bottle time will soften the few tannins on the finish.  About $32.

Italy, Red

92, Biondi ‘Outis’ Nessuno, Etna DOC, Rosso, Sicily, Italy, 2015
Transparent pale red in color.  On the palate, cranberries riding on a groundswell of mineral.  Extraordinary purity of fruit.  Light in weight, slightly textured, barely-coating mild tannins, and a pleasant, near-puckering character.  Balanced, long, and boasting marvelous purity.  About $33.

91, Amarone, Muesella, Della Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy, 2011
Strikingly radiant in dark-ruby.  This extraordinarily expressive wine fashioned by the appassimento drying method from biodynamically farmed estate grapes, mainly Corvina, then fermented in stainless, yields fragrant, vinous aromas of sweet, dried red and dark berries, figs, and tea.  Lightly textured with ultra-fine tannins and elevated refreshing acidity, the deliciously ripe, sweet and sour fruit heightens the tension in this sensual entry.  About $50.

91, Brunello di Montalcino, Pertimali, Livio Sassetti, Tuscany, Italy, 2012
A noted producer, Livio Sassetti was one of the original 11 founding members of the Brunello di Montalcino producer’s consortium in 1967.  This Brunello received 36 months aging in traditional large, non-new, oak botti.  Stunningly radiant in deep-ruby that maintains transparency.  This medium-light-weight, 100%- Sangiovese, required by law, delivers aromas of dark brambleberries.  Great purity of fruit, fine-grained and lightly-textured offering mild tannins, this Brunello shows prodigious precision and focus.  About $65.

90, Barolo, Aldo Canterno, Bussia, Piedmont, Italy, 2013
The fruit for this wine comes from vines at least 20 years of age in the Busssia vineyard in Monforte.  Medium-purple in color, and semi-transparent, the wine yields aromas of sweet cranberries and blackberries.  Medium-light-weight, with a slightly coating texture and a mineral character.  The quality berry fruit moderates the notable, structuring tannins.  About $82.

91, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, Cirelli, Abruzzo, Italy, 2015
This deep purple effort was produced from Montepulciano grapes by a certified organic producer in Abruzzo.  An unoaked mid-weight offering intense aromas of dark plum and blackberry.  Its hedonistic character is expressed in its delicious, lush, rich fruit and ripe, mild tannins.  About $20.

Malbec, Tannat, Carmenere

91, Carmenere, Casa Silva Los Lingues, Colchagua, Chile, 2015
Radiant ruby color and medium-light-weight.  Aromas of flowers, especially peony with green forest.  Ripe fruit with red and black currants in a mineral setting.  An elegant character, silky-smooth texture, with a lasting finish.  About $20.

91, Malbec, Pulenta Estate, Mendoza, Argentina
The opulent fruit in this dark-purple Malbec has a penetrating nature, but also a soft side.  Rich Laroda plum and blackberry immerse the palate, while the acid level is refreshing.  A sensual character, texture of velvet, solid tannic frame, and fine length add to the complexities of this wine.  About $29.

The Hess Collection Malbec, Small Block Series, Mount Veeder

92, Malbec, Small Block Series, The Hess Collection, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, 2013
Dark, impenetrable ruby-purple with a richly fruited nose, dense with black cherries, blackberries, and a hint of caramel. On the palate, this mid-heavy weight displays dazzlingly rich, opulent fruit. Plenty of size, structure, extract, and viscosity accompanied by the appropriate acid level and a lengthy finish.  About $58.

91, Malbec, Cantena Alta, Mendoza, Argentina, 2013
Dense ruby-tinged purple color.  Luscious, rich, sweet, blue and black fruit.  Mid-weight, a smooth texture, ripe tannins, and very good presence from this Malbec.  About $60.

91, Tannat, Massimo Deicas, Progreso, Canelones, Uruguay, 2013
Vivid purple with ruby hues in color.  Aromatics of flowers and red and black brambleberries, with dark fruit, plums, and hints of spice on the palate.  Big and coating, a silky-smooth texture, and notably elegant.  The elevated acid level and substantial tannic frame balanced with the fruit will move to the background with time, and this wine should cellar long.  About $190.

91, Tannat, Familia Deicas Mar de Piedras, San José, Uruguay
This black, purple-tinged Tannat from Uruguay is a big, chewy, mouth-filling, food-oriented wine.  No mistakes, this heavy-weight is also fine for sipping without food, but it’s made to mate.  Offers black plums, raspberries, and spice box.  The copious, rich, black fruit, is in harmony with the considerable, slightly coating tannins, which add size and structure to the wine.  About $40.

Additional White

92, Riesling, Mitchell’s McNicol, Clare Valley, Australia, 2012
Brilliant platinum with golden-green hues in color.  Grown on a high hillside abundant with quartzite, this single vineyard, dry farmed Riesling is aged in 3,000 liter oak vats, and see time on the lees before bottling.  Delivers intense aromatics of lemon curd and spice-box, with green apple, with traces of honey and lime on the palate, surrounded by a distant backdrop of wet stones.  Medium-light in weight, this Riesling is seamless, lifting, highly complex, and emanating a unique character, notable presence, and great length.  A real piece of work!  About $47.

94, Sauvignon Blanc, Giesen August, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2016
In dazzling platinum with golden hues, this high-end Sauvignon Blanc is extremely complex, well integrated, and displays an exceptionally animated flavor profile.  A three-dimensional kaleidoscope in tiny points of flavor instead of light, whispering dry grass, lime, jalapeño, white peach, bell pepper, gooseberry, and further fruited and faintly herbaceous nuances.  This mid-weight-plus was fermented in French oak and possesses notable intensity with a light texture.  Delivers outstanding vibrancy with fine balance.  A unique and exceptional Sauvignon Blanc!  About $40.

94, Sauvignon Blanc, Domaine Roblin Enclose de Maimbray, Sancerre, Loire, France, 2015
When the ethos of Sauvignon Blanc comes to mind, so does the appellation of Sancerre in France’s Loire Valley.  Very pale straw in color is this light-weight beauty, sourced from vines grown in Sancerre’s marl and limestone soils.  Yields extraordinarily delicate aromas and flavors of Forelle Pear and white flowers.  Its literally perfect balance, riveting purity of fruit, and great elegance are in complete harmony with the heightened acid level, supple touch and feel, and great length.  About $29.

93, Riesling, Kabinett, Hain, Piesporter, Goldtropfchen, Mosel, Germany, 2015
The Hain family produced this exquisite Riesling from grapes grown in the Goldtropfchen single vineyard, in which they have holdings.  One of best sites on the Mosel River, the vineyard’s steep slate-covered slopes above the village of Piesporter act as a natural amphitheater providing good exposure and angle to the sun with radiated warmth from the slate for much of the day.  Nothing new to the Haines Family, who have been making wine for over four hundred years.  Platinum in color with golden hues.  Subtle aromas of Fuji Apple and white peach emanate from this animated wine.  Possesses fine purity of fruit with excellent overall balance.  Bright with a heightened acid level which plays nicely with the slightly sweet fruit.  About $20.

Château Carbonnieux blanc, Pessac-Léognan

91, Château Carbonnieux blanc, 2014, Pessac-Léognan, France
Château Carbonnieux continues to produce exciting white wine.  Pale green-gold, this 2014 opens slowly in the glass, but its character begins showing through as hints of citrus, lime, and mineral appear.  The wine has purity of fruit and is well-structured with an assertive but pleasing firmness.  This is a well-balanced entry, with a fresh and crisp character, while simultaneously showing some roundness.  A well-made wine that is definitely ready to enjoy now, but a little time in bottle will only add.  About $40.

92, Chardonnay, Materra Cunat Family Vineyards, Oak Knoll, Napa Valley, 2016
An extraordinarily juicy and refreshing Chardonnay in the white Burgundy style produced from estate fruit.  Light-gold in color, the aromas yield delicate pear, almond, and a hint of apricot.  The poise and delicacy create an ethereal character.  It all plays together, the elevated acid, suppleness, and balance making for a lovely, elegant effort!  About $28.

92, Chardonnay, Yeringberg, Yarra Valley, Australia, 2014
Brilliant light-straw in color.  Lush, sweet, ripe fruit, round and thick with a glycerol-like texture.  Honeyed-pineapple aroma, with a whisper of toasty oak.  On the palate, tangy melon and ripe apricot.  Complex, delicious, rich, medium-weight-plus, and great length.  About $50.

93, Chardonnay, ZD Wines, Carneros, 2015
Every bit mid-weight, this radiant, pale-straw Chardonnay from ZD Wines produced with estate grapes showcases a silky texture with notable harmony and elegance.  The ripe, creamy, luscious fruit is well integrated and nicely balanced with the delicate, fresh acidity.  With aromas of lemon-lime cola and a just hint of jasmine, the wine delivers fresh peach and a hint of white nectarine to the palate.  A lovely white wine!  About $75.

95, Chardonnay, Silverado Vineyards, GEO, Carneros, 2015
Dazzling in pale-gold, this Chardonnay from Silverado Vineyards reveals subtle aromas of white-cola with a hint of fresh-cut, green apple.  The layered flavor profile evolves revealing fresh peach, almond, and lemon zest, pulling towards the rear palate with great length.  With just a touch of malolactic fermentation, this thrilling construction is buoyant and agile, smooth and seamless, offering perfect balance with thrilling silkiness and flavor.  A sensual, elegant wine with stunning purity of fruit.  This ethereal Chardonnay is near Burgundy in character, notwithstanding a slight California suntan.  A real piece of work!  About $35.

91, Albariño, Bokisch, Terra Alta Vineyard, Lodi, 2015
Light-rye in color. Aromatic and expressive with aromas of lime, mandarin, and citrus blossom. Intense lemon-cola on the palate in a mineral frame. A mid-weight with quality fruit that is that is refreshing and smoothly textured.  About $22.

90, Vermentino, Fields Family Wines, Delu Vineyard, Alta Mesa, Lodi, 2016
From grapes grown in Alta Mesa’s nutrient-poor soils comprised of sandy loam, clay, and decomposed granite, Fields’ Vermentino was fermented with native yeasts in tank and malolactic was blocked.  Racked to neutral French oak barrels to complete élevage on its lees until filtering and bottling.  Straw in color showing aromas of dry grass, gooseberry, and fennel. Very juicy and grapy in the mouth, with delicious flavors of melon, apricot, and sliced peach. This medium-weight white was thought to be Spanish but carries DNA identical to Pigato of Liguria in Pimonte, Italy.  Quite smoothly textured and finishes long with bright, balanced acidity.  About $21.

Additional Red

Meredith and Lagier

92, Tribidrag (Zinfandel), Lagier Meredith, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, 2014
This winery is an operation of Steve Lagier, formerly assistant winemaker at Robert Mondavi Winery, and Carole Meredith, retired grape genetics researcher and professor at the University of California, Davis. Their vineyard produces a number of uncommon and exciting wines. This Tribidrag, the Croatian term for Zinfandel (Primitivo) is a beautiful radiant-purple in color. Aromas of fresh brambleberries, with sweet and sour cranberries on the palate, all in a mineral context. Juicy, and slightly lighter in style than past vintages, this barely mid-weight Tribidrag is exciting and buoyant in character with good intensity and a generous flavor profile. Harmonious in manner with components exceptionally well-balanced, the wine finishes long. Successes continue to emerge from this dedicated and inspired winery!  About $45.

90, Pinotage, Painted Wolf, Guillermo, Swartland, South Africa, 2013
This signature variety of South Africa displays as purple in color with bronzed hues.  Delivers tangy aromas of mulberries and red cherries with a whisper of tobacco leaves and green tea.  A cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault early in the 20th Century by Perold, at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, and often cultivated as bushvines (untrellised goblet), this effort is smoothly textured showing good roundness, and just the right intensity.  Shows brightness, mild tannins, excellent balance, good length, and definite elegance.  About $20.

91, Shiraz, Meerea Park Aunts, Hunter Valley, Australia, 2014 
Deep, royal-purple in color and named after three pioneer women who in the 1830’s originated the first homestead on ‘Meerea’.  A single vineyard wine from the old-vine Kindred Family Homestead vineyard planted in 1965.  After open-vat fermentation, the wine was aged 16 months in French Hogsheads (barrels), 45% new.  An immense, muscular Shiraz, richly fruited, with structuring tannins, vibrant acid, and a judicious alcohol level of 13.5%.  This wine will age awhile.  Delivers blackberries, blueberries, hickory wood, and a hint of coffee, all with a smooth texture and good length.  About $44.

93, Field Blend, Edge Hill Estate, Mixed Black, St. Helena, Napa Valley, 2014
Opaque black-purple in color.  Medium to finely textured with good purity of fruit.   Appears to be built to age with the significant but unobtrusive tannic frame, intense extraction content, elevated acid level, and medium-plus size, all melding in a single monolithic structure, approachable and harmonious.  As the wine warms, it gains in expressiveness and buoyancy, while the luscious, velvety fruit adds an opulent touch.  Supple yet precise, and boasting field-blend complexity, this well-made wine reveals a hedonistic character.  About $155.

91, Shiraz, d’Arenberg, The Dead Arm Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia, 2013
A big one, this Shiraz, echoed by its impenetrable black-purple color.  Fermented in small batches, this wine sees not only basket pressing, but foot treading as well for a gentle touch.  The intensity of this wine, comes at least in part from an ailment killing one of the cordons, resulting in the roots giving all their nutrients to the remaining half of the plant.  After fermentation in partially new French and American oak barriques, the wine is aged on its lees without fining, filtration, or racking.  Lavish blackberry with dark plum aromas, followed by a rich palate of coffee, black fruit, minerality, and a whisper of tar.  Copious quantities of dense black fruit, enveloping ripe tannins, and a lengthy finish.  Massive, balanced, and very nicely tied together.  About $65.

91, Tempranillo, Gómez Cruzado, Reserva, Rioja, Spain, 2009
Originally founded in 1886 in northern Spain, a major resurgence began in 2000 when Bodegas Gómez Cruzado came under new ownership.  Black-ruby in color with a slight transparency, this Tempranillo reveals great purity of dense fruit, delivering notes of red berries and plums.  The rich fruit has almost absorbed the noticeable, structuring tannins, and will with more time.  Bright acid provides balance in this firm and detailed red.  About $29.

92, Tempranillo, Fields Family Wines, Lodi, 2014
This Medium-light purple, ruby-hued Tempranillo comes from the first Tempranillo vines in Lodi.  Native yeast fermentation with malolactic, élevage in neutral French oak, and bottled unfined/unfiltered, this 2014 delivers a sugar-plum and strawberry nose, with wild raspberries and strawberries on the palate.  This is an agile Tempranillo that is razor sharp in focus. Highly expressive with quality fruit, the tannins are mild and ripe. Bright, balanced, and elegant, this is a gorgeous Tempranillo!  About $28.

90, Zinfandel, Jessie’s Grove Winery, Westwind Old Vine, Lodi, 2013
This mid-light-weight Zin is light-ruby in color. Brown sugar, spice, and red-fruit aromas, with strawberry and red plum in the mouth, this wine displays a silky texture. Lithe in character, ripe quality fruit, and a lingering finish.  About $29.

Dessert, white

97, Domaine des Forges, Quarts de Chaume, France, 2011
This gorgeous white dessert wine is produced in Quarts de Chaume, a white wine appellation located in the Anjou district of the Loire Valley in France.  Vinified from the Chenin Blanc grape, whose natural high-acidity provides great capacity to age, this radiant-gold 2011 opens with an extraordinarily extravagant, botrytised nose.  On the palate this Domaine des Forges displays buttered waffle syrup, salt, honeyed pear, with dried apricot exploding at the rear-palate cumulating in an expressive, unending finish.  This dense Chennin displays a high viscosity, displaying profuse tears on the glass and offering a creamy texture.  The acid level is thankfully penetrating and well integrated, harmoniously balancing the fabulously rich and opulent fruit.  Sizeable and concentrated, but equally elegant and agile, the character is extraordinarily complex.  A sublime dessert wine!  About $33.

Château La Tour Blanche, Sauternes

94, Château La Tour Blanche, Sauternes, France, 2014
Pretty pale-gold in color.  This 2014 demonstrates excellent overall balance, and delivers quality fruit.  Offers a pleasing oily texture with medium viscosity and fine delineation.  The light-honeyed pear and dried white peach, supported by the lifting-freshness of yellow citrus, carry through to the lingering finish.  Good complexity is clear, as is purity of the fruit, but the keyword for this delicious sticky is elegance!  About $40.

95, Château de Fargues, Sauternes, France, 2014
Prominent pure and crisp aromas of candied fruit with a citrus and lemon-lime bias immediately brings Sauternes to mind, as of course it should.  Candied fruit flavors are set within a lovely oily and viscous medium in which the parts are in perfect balance.  Rich and complex, delineated faucets of flavor and character reach out in all directions.  Former Château d’Yquem owner Count Alexandre de Lur Saluces has been producing some highly-rated stickies at de Fargues since he arrived in 2005.  However, de Fargues is not exactly new to him.  His family has owned it since the 13th Century, about eight hundred years.  About $180.

94, Château Guiraud, Sauternes, France, 2014
The 2014 Guiraud opens with very well-defined aromas of candied citrus fruit.  Has high viscosity on a well-structured frame, and still displays the sophistication that Guiraud usually does with its often generous content of Sauvignon Blanc.  The wine also shows exceptional sweetness, great balance, and a persisting finish.  About $45.

94, Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Sauternes, France, 2014
Everything is spot-on with this 2014 entry from Lafaurie-Peyraguey.  Light-gold in color, the wine shows excellent balance overall with a nice oily texture over its very elegant total.  Luscious flavors of sweet candied and dried tropical fruit including hints of papaya and apricot.  A fine effort!  About $50.

94, Château Suduiraut, Sauternes, France, 2014
The light-gold color of this sticky contradicts the fact that it is packed with notable power and intensity.  The tangy, tropical, candied-fruit flavors present a finely-honed focus and precision.  Excellent, well-balanced effort with a persistent finish.  Watch this one.  About $65.

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