-  November 23, 2017

Silverado Sauvignon Blanc Miller Ranch 2015 (Napa Valley). This estate grown Sauvignon Blanc is kind of a hybrid of California and New Zealand versions, in a really great way, with notions of lime zest, tangerine, passion fruit, guava, and red grapefruit. Zippy acidity and freshness, finishing with an herbal/bell pepper note. Has good presence and great focus. Charming. Drink now. About $25.

-  November 21, 2017

Bodegas Shaya Shaya 2015 (Rueda). Bright, with lemon, white peach, and green pear scents. Medium-bodied, showing a hint of wax to go with the red apple and cantaloupe notes. Really enjoyable and almost juicy, finishing with a lime zest and clementine quality. Great acidity to keep it lively. Verdejo. Drink now. About $15.

-  November 20, 2017

Chateau Troplong-Mondot 2003 (Saint Emilion). The 2003 is at a perfect stage of development, with soaring aromatics like burning ember, blackberries, and mocha. Gorgeous medium to full-bodied texture that coats the palate with generous black fruits and very fine ripe tannins, with just a hint of iron and lavender. Voluptuous. Hard not to put down. Absolutely wonderful now, but will last for at least another 5-8 years. About $100.

-  November 14, 2017

Errekalde Txakolina Hiruzta Txakolina 2016 (Getariako Txakolina). Fun and slightly spritzy, with cleansing acidity that pairs well with salty/fatty snacks, or as an apertif. Mainly citrus peel, grass, and fresh herb notes. Drink now. About $16.

-  November 12, 2017

Numanthia-Termes Termes 2004 (Toro). Made from 30 year old ungrafted Tinta de Toro vines (the local version of Tempranillo), this exhibits fantastic scents of freshly brewed coffee, black pepper, plums, and blueberries. Amazing intensity and focus on the attack, then a blast of fruit and tobacco on the mid-palate, with mature structure and balance. The finish really sails on. Gorgeous now, but will last at least another 5 years. About $85.

-  November 10, 2017

Ployez-Jacquemart Extra Quality Brut Non-Vintage. Golden straw colored, with striking aromas of honey, tangerines, and brioche, this is very well-balanced while being full of flavor and intensity. Caramel, lime zest, and some apple notes. Great texture and finesse, staring off darker then moves to brightness, finishing with a saline quality. Drink now. About $38.

-  November 7, 2017

Sarl Jean Merieau Touraine Les Hexagonales 2016. A hint of wet wool or cheese on the nose, but there's no funkiness in the mouth, with zippy notions of lime zest and pink grapefruit. Finishes with a touch of minerality. Doesn't seem as fun as the 2015, but is fresh and great with food. About $11.

-  November 5, 2017

Ridge Lytton Springs 2009 (Dry Creek Valley). As usual with Ridge wines, this exhibits outstanding purity, focus, and precision, showing wild berries on the nose, then blueberries, anise, and plums in the mouth. There's a sense of elegance, without sacrificing intensity, as well as very fine tannins for structure and texture. Delicious. Made from 71% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah, and 6% Carignane. Best to drink this one within a few years -- it has already reached its peak. About $50.

-  November 3, 2017

Domenico Clerico Barolo Pajana 2009. Beautiful and perfumed nose of roses, tar, black tobacco leaf, and iron shavings. Shows intensity and extract, with the darker, masculine side of Nebbiolo evident. Fine tannins and solid acidity, finishing with spices, cherries, and a cured meat note. Great now, but will be better in a few years, lasting for 15+ years. About $80.

-  November 1, 2017

Campo al Mare Vermentino 2015 (Bolgheri). Loads of minerals on the nose, like limestone or river rocks, smelling clean and fresh. Just a hint of tropical fruit, suggesting rambutan, plus lemons and more of that fine minerality. Nicely done, and great with salty food. Drink now. About $21.

-  October 26, 2017

Domaine Lafage Bastide Miraflors 2015 (Côtes du Roussillon). Made from Syrah and Grenache, this exhibits scents of seaweed, licorice, plums, and graphite. Focused, with great intensity for the price, showing black fruit, mocha, and smoke notes. Has density and focus, with a peppery/toffee. More like a ripe Vacqueras in profile, this represents and excellent value. Drink now through 2021. About $16.

-  October 20, 2017

Krug Champagne Brut 2000. A stunning wine that combines power and elegance into a completely harmonious, intense package. Shows gorgeous scents of honey, butterscotch, hazelnuts, red apples, and a hint of dried flowers. Rich, but with fantastic, vibrant acidity and a saline/chalky note. Bread dough, with hints of nuts and ginger on the long finish. Certainly one the greatest Champagnes we've tasted, this is actually youthful, and should last for at least 10 more years. About $255.

-  October 17, 2017

Ponte da Barca Alvarinho Reserva 2016 (Minho). Very energetic and inviting, with notions of lemon zest, white peaches, and fresh herbs. Has a nice rocky quality, like you're standing next to a quarry, but also verges on elegant. Easy to like. Drink now. About $14.

-  October 15, 2017

Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Bianco 2016. Like a bowl of ripe peaches and lemons on the nose, this is lively and expressive. Delicious acidity and minerality, with a crisp but welcoming texture that supports stone fruit and tart apple flavors. Works well with grilled seafood. Drink now. About $18.

-  October 10 , 2017

Bedrock Zinfandel Old Vines 2014 (California). Notions of dried herbs on the nose (rosemary, thyme) plus black cherries and plums. Shows purity on the palate, with licorice and black fruit. Starts off powerful, then shifts to a sense of definition and elegance. Well-made. Drink now through 2023. About $25.

-  October 8, 2017

Quinta do Crasto Reserva Old Vines 2011 (Douro). A bit shy on the nose, but swirling reveals scents of cherry, mace, iron, honey, and smoke. An unapologetic and masculine wine, with density and structure, though is not hard and unforgiving. Cherry and licorice flavors. Needs air. Develops nuance and focus, with notions of crushed rocks on the finish. Ready now, but will last at least 15 years. About $40.

-  October 5, 2017

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2010 (Napa Valley). Offers a fantastic mix of roasted coffee, black currant, tobacco, and chocolate scents. Gorgeous texture, with very fine, but persistent tannins that support focused cassis, espresso, and black cherry flavors. Full-bodied and extracted. Impressive finish has a graphite/smoke quality. Long and intense, especially with some air. A bit more structured than some vintages. Always a treat. Ready now, but don't worry about holding on to it for another 15 years, at least. About $150.

-  October 3, 2017

Côte Mas Rosé Aurore 2016 (Pays d'Oc). With a fairly intense color and orange peel scents, this is fresh and lively, showing flavors of raspberries and citrus. Totally tasty and easy to like, and in a 1 liter bottle. Easygoing. Made from 30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, and 50% Grenache. Drink now. About $11.

-  October 2, 2017

Brotte Côtes du Rhône Blanc Esprit Barville 2015. Offers some dusty/chalky scents, with hints of lanolin and red apples. Bright and focused in the mouth, having flavors of limes, oranges, ripe pears, and wax. An exotic spice quality adds interest to the moderate finish. Really like the minerality here. Drink now through 2019. About $12.

-  September 30, 2017

William Fevre Chile Chardonnay La Mision 2014 (Maipo Valley). If you put this in a blind tasting of village Chablis, you woudn't blame anyone for singling this out as an outlier. Smells like flinty, crushed rocks, and is super vibrant on the palate, with suggestions of limes and white peach. But this is more about the minerality, where it really stays focused. With air, some orange and pear notes emerge. Fantastic value. Drink now through 2020. About $15.

-  September 27, 2017

Mittelbach Rosé 2016 (Niederösterreich). This Zweigelt rosé is bright and focused, with notions of cherries, flowers, lemon peel, and strawberries. Has a great line of minerality throughout. Shows composure. Drink now through 2020. About $16.

- September 26, 2017

Vesevo Falanghina 2015 (Beneventano). Crisp and floral nose, like a bunch of lillies, then an almond note emerges with air. Tasty, zippy, and fresh, with green melon and citrus flavors. Not complex, but is very enjoyable with food. Drink now. About $16.

-  September 25, 2017

Il Roverone Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2011. Looks thick, with dense color, then scents of ripe, concentrated cherries, mocha, and pine. Extremely full-bodied and almost syrupy, with a black pepper note on the attack, moving to blue and red fruit. Super-ripe and dense, and nearly over-the-top. At 16.5% alcohol, this is powerful, but manages to retain focus with acidity. Finishes long, with a cough medicine quality, plus a pipe tobacco note. Great now, but will last for at least another 8 years. About $60.

-  September 15, 2017

Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf du Pape 2009. Offers port-like aromas of intense black fruit, preserved cherries, and melted licorice. Full-bodied and massively rich, with mouthcoating chocolate, plum, and cherry liqueur notes. Not shy, probably close to 16% alcohol. Finishes with a bitter orange rind quality, plus hints of smoke. Really intense. Ready now, but will last for another 8 years. About $60.

-  September 14, 2017

Domaine La Garrigue Côtes du Rhône Cuvée Romaine 2015. Smells Old World. There's some notions of tomato, seaweed, squid ink, and hoisin sauce too. Lacks the flesh and volume of previous vintages, but has very good balance, with solid flavor profile. Finishes with an anise note. Give this some air. Drink now through 2021. About $18.

-  September 12, 2017

Nasiakos Moscofilero 2015 (Mantinia). Pretty scents of white flowers (lillies?) and lemon peel that are fresh and vibrant. Inviting. Love the mouthwatering acitity that supports flavors of green pear, cucumber, and limes. Bright and tasty. Drink now. About $13.

-  September 11, 2017

Torbreck Shiraz Woodcutter's 2014 (Barossa Valley). Smoke and licorice are evident on the nose, then the palate is more about ripe blue/black fruit. Not heavy, with some perky lift, finishing with a cola note, and maybe some spices. Drink now through 2021. About $22.

Torbreck Semillon Woodcutter's 2014 (Barossa Valley). Yellow, with a green edge, this offers pleasing scents of white peaches, wax, and green melons. Very interesting. Great acidity and verve here, with medium weight, and showing flavors of lemon curd, orange rind, and apples. Finishes with a yellow cake batter note. Drink now through 2020. About $16.

-  September 8, 2017

Shafer Merlot 2014 (Napa Valley). Dark color, followed by deep scents of buttered, burnt toast, then blueberries, blackberries, smoke, and mocha. Powerful and rich without sacrificing poise. Shows savory polish to the dark fruit, with black tea and roasted hazelnuts on the long, intense finish. Serious Merlot. Over 15% alcohol, but is never hot. Great now, but would be even better with a touch of age, and will last for 15 years. About $60.

-  September 6, 2017

Licia Albarino 2015 (Rias Baixas). Tasty green pear, white peach, and citrus notes are vibrant and fun. Shows focus and clarity, finishing clean, with a nice crushed rock quality. Modest in scope, but is lively and versitile. Drink now. About $15.

-  September 5, 2017

Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard 2010 (Napa Valley). Offers no shortage of crème de cassis aromas and flavors, plus charcoal, black cherry, plum, vanilla, and subtle smoke notes. Very full-bodied and rich, but with expert balance. It's the purity of fruit that really stands out here, like someone coddled every grape. Even more volume emerges with air, along with some graphite qualities. Wonderful. Ready now, but will last for at least 15 more years. About $100.

-  August 29, 2017

Capçanes Mas Donis Rosat 2016 (Montsant). Bright, electric pink color. Effusive notes of strawberries, plums, cherries, flowers, and citrus rinds that are fun and inviting. Not shy. Nearly juicy, but with supportive acidity and a really cool tart orange finish. Drink now. About $12.

-  August 23, 2017

Louis Roederer Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2009. Very precise and focused, this is a gorgeous effort, showing clarity to the scents of white flowers, crushed rocks, citrus peel, and a hint of ginger. Penetrating on the palate, but also super-elegant. There's some orange marmalade and green pear qualities backed by laser-like acidity, then some brioche notes. Shows intensity and uncommon craftsmanship. Absolutely outstanding. Worth every cent. About $80.        

-  August 18, 2017

Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Yamhill Cuvée 2014 (Willamette Valley). Fairly rich color, with purity on the nose, having notions of cherry, roasted chestnuts, and hints of tobacco and plums. Expressive in the mouth, with a beautiful, lithe texture and generosity of fruit. Stays elegant and focused, with a slight licorice quality on the finish. Well-made, and shows attention to detail. Drink now through 2023. About $50.

-  August 13, 2017

Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Blanc 2016. Flat out fun to drink! Notions of lime zest, green pear, and tangerine, with a cool fresh herb quality. Might be better than last year's version. Energetic. Never gets tiring. Drink now. About $16.

-  August 11, 2017

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2012 (North Coast). Absolutely stunning. Pure straw color, with an energetic bead, then scents of ripe grapefruit, lemon curd, very active bread dough, spices, and shortbread cookie. Medium-bodied and very crisp, but with tons of citrus and apple fruit, then a hint of ginger. The finish just sails on and on with precision and generosity. Wonderful. Drink now through 2013. About $35.

-  August 9, 2017

Felsina Castello di Farnetella Lucilla 2015 (Toscana). There's freshness to the black fruit, licorice, and savory grilled herb notes. Very approachable, but not simple, with lingering black cherry and menthol qualities. Great with food, and a nice value. Made from mostly Sangiovese, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2021.

-  August 7, 2017

Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc 2015 (Paso Robles). A Rhone-styled white blend of 56% Grenache Blanc, 23% Viognier, 12% Roussanne, and 9% Marsanne, this offers plenty of honeysuckle, lime zest, white flowers, green melon, and white mushroom scents. Medium-bodied and energetic, there's verve to the tangerine flavors, finishing uplifting and with real intensity. Great with food. Drink now through 2022. About $24.

-  August 4, 2017

Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2006. A hint of brick color. Complex scents of freshly brewed coffee, cherries, tobacco, tar, and pine needles. Shows a bit of age, but is not at all tired, with sticky tannins and plenty of intensity and focus. Give this lots of air for the notes of fresh red roses to appear. Great now, but will last for another 8 years or so. About $45.

-  August 1, 2017

Chateau Pesquie Rosé Terrasses 2016 (Ventoux). Made from 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 10% Syrah, this is peach colored, with notions of fresh flowers, cherries, and oranges. A bit more juicy than most vintages, but maintains its composure with solid acidity and a pleasant citrus pith note on the moderate finish. Drink now. About $14.

-  July 30, 2017

Domaine Montrose Rosé 2016 (Pays d'Oc). Offers scents and flavors of peaches, strawberries, and lemon peel, with a bright, easily enjoyable character that is also great with food. Citrus and berry notes are vibrant on the moderate finish. Very pleasing and budget friendly. Drink now. About $12.

-  July 24, 2017

Domaine des Annibals Rosé 2016 (Var). Pale color, with and herbal nose that also includes hints of raspberries. Lots of berry and melon flavors, with a nicely balanced bitter citrus rind finsih. Vibrant and fresh, this is not a wine for contemplation and we wish it was a few dollars less, but is tasty and works well with your summer dining table. Made from 70% Cinsault, 10% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 5% Ugni Blanc, and 5% Rolle. Drink now. About $17.

-  July 21, 2017

Mitolo Shiraz G.A.M. 2005 (McLaren Vale). Opaque, intense purple with a hint of brown color, showing scents of leather, tons of black fruits, vanilla, and coffee. Super dense and rich, with moderate tannin and acidity. Very full-bodied and having no shortage of fruit and oak notes. Anise seed on the long, long finish. Outstanding. Mature now, but will hold for another 5 years. About $55.

-  July 19, 2017

Hartley Ostini Pinot Noir Hitching Post 2014 (Santa Maria Valley). Garnet color, with scents of roasted herbs, plums, cherries, and mocha. Some caramel notes on the palate, plus spices, chocolate, and red fruit. Nicely balanced acidity and structure develops during the finish, where a hint of cola emerges. Try with roasted veggies. Drink now through 2022. About $25.

-  July 18, 2017

Fossil Point Rosé 2016 (Central Coast). Made from 62% Grenache and 38% Syrah, this is made in a ripe, almost juicy style, but stays honest with enough acidity citrus notes. Mostly though, this is about cherries, raspberries, and peach notes. Rich enough to pair with roasted chicken, but light enough for raw veggies. Drink now. About $12.

-  July 14, 2017

Ruinart Champagne Brut Rosé Non-Vintage. Striking color, like that of a nectarine, then the nose is like strawberries, kiwi, and white peaches. Relatively rich, with plenty of red fruits, but also some minerality and freshness. Not at all shy. Bread dough and a creamy note on the long, detailed finish. Impressive. Drink now. About $75.

-  July 12, 2017

Domaine Lafage Tessellae Carignan Vieilles Vignes 2013 (Côtes Catalanes). Exhibits an intense, heady nose of raging campfire, plus grilled meat, dried herbs, and plums. Impressive and dense, with a mouthcoating, extracted presence. The blue/black fruits are paired with smoke notes that are lasting and pure. Amazing for the price. Drink now through 2021. About $14.

-  July 10, 2017

Pieropan Soave Classico 2015. A hint of rubber glove on the nose, but otherwise this is a very elegant, precise, and focused wine, with notions of lemon zest, crushed limestone, and green pear. Almost some tropical fruit on the vibrant finish. This producer is the real deal in Soave, and always a sure bet. Drink now. About $18.

-  July 9, 2017

Jillian Louise Rosé 2016 (Cotes de Provence). Sporting a cantelope color, this strawberry scented value is an easy, fun summer sipper. Exhurberant on the palate, with crushed raspberry notes, having bright acidity and some minerality on the finish. Not very complex, but shows balance and verve. A hint of pleasant bitterness on the finish. Drink now. About $11.

-  July 7, 2017

Schramsberg Brut Blanc de Noirs 2012 (North Coast). Offers scents of honey, white peaches, flowers and hints of apple. Really beautiful in the mouth, with fine textured bubbles and mouthfeel, showing notions of white grapes, lemons, and pears. Elegant. Finishes with a salty sea air quality, then some raspberries. Made from 88% Pinot Noir and 12% Chardonnay, this is a perennial winner from an outstanding producer. Drink now through 2021. About $33.

-  July 3, 2017

Cellers Unio Llicorella Classic 2012 (Priorat). Here at davidjohnhansen.com, we adore Priorat. So it's an especially good day when come across a real value for this appellation, like this solidly built one. Classic slate/crushed rock notes on the nose, plus licorice, black cherry, and a hint of smoke. Medium to full-bodied, with some savory herb/orange peel/medicine qualities that conjure memories of Fernet Branca, but it's paired with solid fruit and good length. Made from 70% Grenache, 15% Carignon, 154% Merlot. Drink now through 2022. About $25.

-  June 26, 2017

Justin Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Central Coast). Very focused, on the white grapefruit scale of things, with lemon and white peach notes. Plenty of acidity and a hint of fresh grass. Nicely done. Eat this with some clams. Drink now. About $16.

-  June 24, 2017

Jacquart Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne 2006. Golden straw colored. Impressive nose that shouts reserved lemon, honey, and apricot. Wow. Beautiful, like strawberries plus tropical fruit, with intensity to the mid-palate and a long finish. Orange marmalade notes appear with air, then some brioche qualites. Really great density of flavor here. Drink within 3-4 years. About $60.

-  June 23, 2017

Moët & Chandon Brut Rosé Champagne Grand Vintage 2006. Copper/salmon in color, with raspberry aromatics that also hint at yeasty bread. Stunning in the mouth, reminiscent of orange rind, tangerines, raspberries, and chalky minerality. Shows gorgerous depth and richness, but is also focused and elegant all at once. Long and intense, with an almond pastry note, then more minerality. Really fantastic. Great now but will last for at least another 6 years. About $80.

-  June 21, 2017

Isaac Fernadez Selección Garnacha Acentor 2014 (Calatayud). Very cherry nose, then licorice on the attack, plus more cherries, followed by smoke and coffee notes. Modest in scope, but shows some definition and focus, with lively acidity. Drink now through 2020. About $15.

-  June 13, 2017

Christian Moreau Chablis Vaillon 2014. Like biting into a farm fresh green apple that's nearly searing in acidity and fresh, but also has lots of fruit and intensity to hold it together. There's also a saline, crushed shell component to this that screams Chablis, plus some fresh herb and white peach notes. Racy and great as an apertif. Drink now through 2020. About $45.

-  June 8, 2017

Ceretto Barolo Bricco Rocche Brunate 1997. A sublime example of a 20 year old Barolo. Brick red in color, with perfumed aromatics suggestive of red cherries, tobacco, and lavender. Lots of personality in the mouth, with fantastic intensity and verve. Mocha notes, plus beef blood and licorice flavors that are vibrant and harmonious. Fine-grained tannins support a captivating texture. Long, long finish. Gorgeous wine that's worth the wait. Fully mature, but will hold for another 5 years. About $75.

-  June 8, 2017

Château Doisy Daëne Bordeaux Blanc Sec 2015. From a producer known for their sweet dessert wines of Barsac, comes this very enjoyable, dry white Bordeaux. A hint of lanolin on the nose, but mostly lychee, orange peel, white peaches, and ripe pears. Vibrant and expressive, showing precision to the voluminous fruit, wax, and grass notes. Reminiscent of pineapple, green guava, and pears, with a fresh, lasting finish. Pretty cool stuff. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Drink now through 2022. This is a steal at only $22.

-  June 6, 2017

Bodegas Ordoñez Triton 2015 (Toro). From old vine 100% Tinta de Toro grapes come this amazing value of a wine. Penetrating aromas of blackberry, incense, smoke, graphite, and a hint of blueberry. Extracted and dense, with fine tannins and a fabulous mid-palate. Expert balance of fruit and acidity. Long and intense, and even better than the 2014. Drink now through 2024. About $19.

-  June 2, 2017

Vicente Gandia Rioja Reserva Raiza 2012. Complex nose, suggesting smoke, dark leather, and cherries, with a hint of mocha and caramel. Medium-bodied, with lively acidity, balanced by solid depth and tannin. A dark profile that's reminiscent of tobacco and licorice. Would be great with a steak off the grill. Give this lots of air. Drink now through 2022. Only about $13.

-  May 31, 2017

Célestin-Blondeau Sancerre Cuvée des Moulins Bãles 2015. The nose is very clean and fresh, with notions of freshly cut grass and herbs. Deliciously zippy and inviting, but also on the lean side, having hints of green pear and lime zest. Finishes with some minerality, then some ripe fruit. Summer! Good value for this appellation. Drink now. About $16.

-  May 30, 2017

Domaine Sérol Eclat de granite 2014 (Côte Roannaise). Bright cherry aromas, plus notions of pipe tobacco and licorice are echoed in the mouth, with the fruit up front and lots of licorice on the finish. Vibrant. Great with salmon. 100% Gamay. Drink now through 2020. About $15.

-  May 25, 2017

Domaine Talmard Mâcon-Chardonnay 2015. Some burnt popcorn scents along with lemon and white peach. Has some surprising weight to it, though not at all heavy, showing lime zest, green melon, and citrus flavors paired with zippy acidity. Pleasant and great with food. Drink now. About $15.

-  May 23, 2017

Cedric Bouchard Champagne Roses de Jeanne Cote de Bechalin 2008. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, this is an extremely small production (only about 150 cases per year) from a 1.5 hectare plot. Features a very precise nose of white flowers, honey, and fresh bread dough. Receiving no dosage, this is crisp and intense, with focused minerality and verve to go with the red berry and red apple notes, finishing long, with more of that crushed limestone. Very elegant. Fantastic now, but will last for a few more years. Disgorged in 2015. About $85.

-  May 22, 2017

Bodegas Breca Breca 2013 (Calatayud). Made from 100% old vine Garnacha, this has plenty of smoke on the nose, plus black plums and crushed stone. Ripe black cherries in the mouth, relatively smooth in texture, with plenty of fruit and a black pepper/briary quality. Lots of licorice and chocolate notes on the finish. Excellent value. Drink now through 2022. About $16.

-  May 21, 2017

Chateau de L'Enclos Blanc 2015 (Entre-Deux-Mers). An herbal/grassy style, like parsley or thyme, then some lime zest. Lean, with bright acidity, but opens to some orange blossom notes with air and an interesting saline quality. Drink now. About $14.

-  May 17, 2017

Can Blau Blau 2014 (Montsant). For a taste of Priorat without the pricetag, try this 50% Mazuelo, 25% Syrah, and 25% Garnacha blend from neighboring Montsant. Lots of smoke on the nose, then crushed rock, licorice, black cherry, and coffee flavors, with some mild structure. Great price for this quality. Drink now through 2021. About $12.

-  May 16, 2017

Villa Des Anges Rosé 2016 (Pays D'Oc). With vibrant watermelon, raspberry, strawberry, and citrus notes, this is fun, zippy, and easygoing. Not much of a finish, but it's meant for hot summer days and uncomplicated meals. Drink now. About $10.

-  May 15, 2017

Paolo Scavino Barbera D'Alba 2015. Really fun and interesting nose of smoke, lavender, and plums, this vintage is ripe and harmonious, with zesty acidity and verve. Plump and inviting cherry flavors on an an easy, approachable frame. Drink now through 2021. About $20.

-  May 14, 2017

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Knights Valley). This bottling is so consistent in style, and so consistent year to year that it's hard to pick favorites among the 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014 vintages. Classic cassis, tobacco, black cherry, and mocha notes. Structured, but ends with plenty of ripe fruit. Long and enjoyable. Drink now through 2028. About $25.

-  May 11, 2017

Auvigue Mâcon Villages 2015. Notions of green apples, celery, lemon curd, and white peaches, with solid acidity. Light and easy, but don't serve this too cold, because it does develop into something more. Nicely herbal finish, and great with food. Drink now. About $15.

-  May 9, 2017

Domaine Franck Millet Sancerre 2015. Very pretty scents of pineapple, hay, dust, flowers, lemon, and sage. Very Sancerre and unmistakably Sauvignon Blanc in profile, with a flinty, grassy edge to the white peach, ripe lemon, and saline qualities. Mouthwatering and delicious. Drink now through 2019. About $19.

Celler Cal Pla Porrera Black Slate 2014 (Priorat). The Grenache component really stands out here, with lots of very ripe fruit (black cherries, raspberries, cranberries), but there's also notes of licorice and caraway seeds. Seems darker and more brooding compared to the 2013, but similarly has excellent balance, full-body, and ripe tanninc structure. Really wonderful, especially for the price. Drink now through 2022. About $23.

-  May 5, 2017

Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf du Pape 2007. Effusive, powerful nose of cherry liqueur, tomato paste, seaweed, licorice, and fresh coffee. Rich with smokey bacon notes, plus blueberry on the mid-palate, then licorice, iodine, and iron on the finish. Very intense and saturated, this is not subtle. Fantatic wine. Great now, but will last for at least another 8 years. About $50.

-  May 3, 2017

Anselmi San Vincenzo 2015 (Veneto). A hint of something green on the nose (parsley?), plus melon, apples, cottage cheese, and lemon peel. Medium-bodied and nicely balanced, with a wealth of fruit, but honest acidity. Easy to like. Made from 80% Garganega, 10% Chardonnay, and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. Drink now through 2019. About $16.

-  May 2, 2017

Domaine le Clos des Lumieres Rosé 2016 (Côtes du Rhône). Juicy, fresh and fun, this is an easy pairing with anything from a salad to grilled salmon, showing raspberry and orange peel notes, paired with supportive acidity. Zippy finish keeps you coming back for more. Made from 40% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre. Drink now. About $11.

-  April 28, 2017

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2007 (Napa Valley). Opaque purple, and coming from Beringer's best vineyard holdings is another fantastic example, showing beautiful aromas of pure cassis, roasting coffee beans, dark plums, and hints of tobacco. Starts off more elegant, then finishes with power and intensity, with notions of graphite, ripe bell pepper, mint, and mocha to go with the fruit. Not quite as plush as some years, but is long and detailed. Always an amazing wine. Spends 22 months in French oak. Wonderful now, but will certainly last for 15 more years. About $150.

-  April 27, 2017

Juan Gil Rosé Honoro Vera 2016 (Jumilla). Very crisp and made in a food friendly style, this is energetic and fun, with watermelon and raspberry notes. Juicy finish. Made from Tempranillo and Syrah. Drink now. About $10.

-  April 22, 2017

Telmo Rodriquez Basa 2015 (Rueda). Extremely fresh and inviting, this is a white that's itching for the summer. Notes of lemon peel, parsley, and green pear on a crisp, mouthwatering frame. Made from 90% Verdejo and 10% Viura. Drink now. About $11.

-  April 21, 2017

Lisini Brunello di Montalcino 2011. Fairly dark in color, with aromatics reminiscent of cinnamon toast, tart cherries, dust, medicine cabinet, and black licorice. In the mouth, this is generous and hefty, showing expert balance of fruit and savory notes, with more of that medicinal note, plus freshly brewed coffee and black pepper on the solid finish. Lots of air really brings the volume up. Great now, probably better in a few years, and will last for 10. About $60.

-  April 20, 2017

La Spinetta Il Rosé Di Casanova 2016 (Toscana). Made from half Sangiovese and half Prugnolo Gentile, this is fairly pale in color, with a dusty nose. The palate, however is generous and lively, with ripe strawberry, raspberry, and citrus notes, paired with zippy acidity. Bittermelon and fresh herbs on the finish. Drink now. About $16.

-  April 18, 2017

Juvé & Camps Cava Reserva Essential Non-Vintage. Made from 100% Xarello, this has a shy nose, hinting at almonds, bread dough, and honey, but has a tasty, more welcoming palate of white grapefruit and lemond rind. Great with a salad. Drink now. About $15.

-  April 17, 2017

Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Napa Valley). Awesome cassis purity here, with hints of eucalyptus, plums and coffee scents. Focused and intense, full-bodied, and flat out delicious, with some toasty spice notes to go with the wealth of black fruit and vanilla. Wonderful presence and plush texture. A beauty. Drink now through 2032. About $55.

-  April 14, 2017

Charles Ellner Champagne Brut Carte Blanche Non-Vintage. A hint of butterscotch on the nose, then red apples and touch of dark spice (or white pepper?). Shows some power and heft in the mouth, with a broad, golden mid-palate that's reminicient of baked apple pie, orange marmalade, and corriander. A rich coffee note on the finish. Really interesting. Drink now. About $33.

-  April 4, 2017

Bodegas Breca Rosé Garnacha de Fuego 2016 (Aragon). A hint of rubber glove, but this is mostly about the delicious strawberry notes. Easygoing, fresh, and zippy, with some citrus qualities to round it out. You could drink this with just about anything. Nice purity. Drink now. About $9.

-  March 30 ,2017

Domaine Carneros Brut 2010 (Carneros). There's a hint of butterscotch on the nose, but also lemon curd, tangerine, and saltine cracker. Really gorgeous, almost rich, satiny texture allied with fantastic acidity that supports the wealth of fruit (honeyed, candied citrus). Ends very long, with a touch of spice, like white pepper, and some whipped cream notes. Kind of stunning. This vintage is mature, so drink soon. About $25.

-  March 29, 2017

Paul Buisse Touraine 2015. A touch of rubber glove initially, but then the gooseberry, white grapefruit, and freshly mown lawn notes appear. Very zippy, this 100% Sauvignon Blanc is inviting and vibrant. Nice minerality on the finish. Demands shellfish. Drinnk now. About $11.

-  March 28, 2017

Bodegas Solagüen Rioja La Perla White 2015. Nicely done, with notions of white peach, lemon peel, and corriander. Welcome brisk acidity and an open texture, finishing with energy. Very food friendly and easygoing. Made from 92% Viura and 8% Malvasia. Drink now. About $12.

-  March 27, 2017

Damilano Barolo Lecinquevigne 2015. Cigar box scents initially, then hints of tart cherry and road tar. Medium-bodied and fresh, with very good focus and length. Some leather notes to go with the fruit. Solid. Drink now through 2023. About $40.

-  March 24 2017

Ridge Geyserville 2009 (Sonoma County). Wonderful scents of plums, licorice, dark spices, and hints of vanilla extract. Totally harmonious, with amazing presence and detail. Medium-bodied, intense and focused, with a very long finish that offers lingering blue/black fruit and mocha notes. Wow. Why we love Ridge. Made from 74% Zinfandel, 17% Carignane, 6% Petite Sirah, 2% Alicante Bouchet, and 1% Mataro. Drink now through 2023. About $36.

-  March 23, 2017

Quinta do Casal Monteiro Branco 2015 (Tejo). Made from half Arinto and half Fernão Pires, this is very clear in the glass, with scents of tart pineapple and green apples. Very pleasant citrus notes in the mouth, but also minerality and verve. Tangerines and green mango on the finish. Great easygoing food wine. Drink now. About $10.

-  March 21, 2017

Domaine Houchart Rosé (Côtes de Provence). Very saturated light pink in color, this year's version offers a pleasant balance of citrus rind, watermelon, red berry, and dusty oregano scents. Not quite as overtly fruity as last year, but still with lots of raspberry/cherry notes, ending with a savory quality. Solid acidity. Drink now. About $13.

-  March 17, 2017

Moutard Champagne Brut Grand Cuvée Non-Vintage. Light, pleasurable lemon peel, table water cracker, and clementine scents, then bracing acidity in the mouth, having flavors suggestive of citrus and green pear. A supple style with immediate appeal. Drink now. About $30.

-  March 15, 2017

Castello di Farnetella Chianti Colli Senesi 2012. Give this lots of air for the initial scents to burn off, then it's all about macerated cherries, black plums, and dark tobacco. Medium-bodied and very Sangiovese, pairing really well with food. A tasty coffee note on the energetic finish. About $18.

-  March 14, 2017

Kim Crawford Fizz Small Parcels 2011 (Marlborough). This bottle fermented blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay is bright and expressive, showing notions of peppermint, lemons, green apples, and blanced almonds. Very zippy and dry. A nice hint of honey and sea salt on the finish. Great as an apertif. Drink now. About $30.

-  March 13, 2017

Clos Les Lunelles 2005 (Côtes de Castillon). Very perfumed, with scents of roses, lavender, cherries, and plums. Fantastic texture and weight, having an interesting streak of iron/chalk to match the dark fruit and licorice flavors. Extracted, dense, and powerful. Really great now, but will certainly last for another 8+ years. About $55.

-  March 10, 2017

Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2007. Very impressive nose of cigarette smoke, shitake mushrooms, black soil, and oregano, but it's the palate that wows you, with its coffee/chocolate qualities and superb balance. Long, long savory finish that would go well with a rich steak. Fantastic and mature at 10 years old, but still has life left to it, so drink now or hang on for at least another 5 years. About $55.

-  March 8, 2017

Buitenverwachting Sauvignon Blanc Beyond 2016 (Western Cape). A hint of celery and cottage cheese on the nose, but the palate is fun, grassy, and vibrant. Turns to green pear and tangerine, staying alive and fresh. Tasty. Makes us wish the summer would arrive. Drink now. About $11.

-  March 7, 2017

Landhaus Mayer Grüner Veltiner 2015 (Lower Austria). Love the clear, precise lemon scents and flavors, but what's more interesting are the crushed rock notes. Striking minerality pairs with green apple flavors and hints of tropical fruit toward the finish. Very friendly with food. Crunchy acidity. Drink now. About $15.

-  March 6, 2017

Bodegas LAN Rioja Riserva 2010. There's a dusty edge to the wild berry scents, with the palate being very approachable, showing flavors of black licorice, red fruits, leather and dark mushrooms. Hearty and earthy, without being dirty or muddled. Some blueberry notes emerge with air. Drink now through 2012. About $18.

-  March 3, 2017

Louis de Sacy Champagne Brut Originel Non-Vintage. Alomost golden in color, with complex scents of bread dough, honey, red berries, red apples, and mandarin orange. Fantastic definition, body, and length. Almost rich, with intriguing toffee/caramel notes and a hint of spice and lemongrass on the finish. Striking, especially for the price. Drink now. About $32.

-  March 2, 2017

Georges Duboeuf Morgon Jean-Ernest Descombes 2015. Fruity nose, like strawberries and blueberries, but there's also a notion of cola and baby powder. Give this some air, because this is dark and initially not open, but it later reveals notions of tobacco, graphite, tar, and lots of crushed granite. Show some power and intensity. Drink now through 2022. About $17.

-  March 1, 2017

Gérard Bertrand Gris Blanc 2016 (Pay d'Oc). Very pale for a rosé -- it just hints at a peach color. Pretty nose of citrus peel, strawberries, and fresh herbs. Dry, with a touch of orange marmalade to go with the berry flavors. Excellent acidity and verve. Drink now. About $12.

-  February 27, 2017

Catena Zapata Cabernet Sauvignon Catena Alta Historic Rows 2012 (Mendoza). A hint of menthol on the nose, with the palate being concentrated, extracted, and focused. There's a nice spiciness to it, plus blackberries, plums, orange rind, smoke, and bitter chocolate. Nice proportions. Refined and classy. Drink now through 2022. About $45.

-  February 20, 2017

R Wines Shiraz CR Chris Ringland 2006 (Barossa Valley). Last reviewed in August 2008, this outstanding Shiraz from Ebenezer fruit offers an effusive nose of crushed blueberries and blackberries, plus tar and vanilla. A very rich and saturated wine, this is not delicate, with a great coffee note to go with the dark fruit flavors, ending with a black pepper quality. Still very impressive and long, despite being 11 years old, and for originally costing about $20. Drink now through 2021.

-  February 17, 2017

Roederer Estate Brut L'Ermitage 2007 (Anderson Valley). We're huge fans of the non-vintage bottling by Roederer Estate, so having the vintage version is a real treat. Smelling of honey, butterscotch, clementines, and baked apples, this is similar to the regular blend, but with more volume and length. Some spicy qualities in the mouth, plus wheat biscuit and more red apples. Stays elegant and precise. Wonderful. Drink now through 2021. About $40.

-  February 16, 2017

Esporão White Reserva 2014 (Alentejo). Frankly yellow in color, with scents of petroleum, rubber glove, and peaches. More peaches on the attack, then turning to creamsicle and a saline finish. Good body and presence. Really interesting, and geat with a variety of food. Made from 30% Antao Vaz, 30% Arinto, 30% Roupeiro, and 10% Semillon. Drink within a year or so. About $15.

-  February 15, 2017

Bodegas Naia Las Brisas 2015 (Rueda). Made from 50% Verdejo, 30% Viura, 20% Sauvignon Blanc, this is bright, with lots of mineral and citrus notes on the nose. Not very complex, but is very refreshing, with flavors of lemons, fresh herbs, and peaches. Begs for the summer. Drink now. About $11.

-  February 3, 2017

G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2010. Some dark, earthy scents, like twigs or a forest in fall, plus shitake mushrooms. This shows great definition and delicious acidity, as well as elegance in the mouth, but is also structured and powerful, with classically Barolo flavors of tar, roses, and black cherries/plums. Some interesting licorice notes on the finish. Needs some time, so try in two years. About $45.

-  February 1, 2017

Gallo Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Series 2013 (Napa Valley). Readers who associate Gallo wines with inexpensive everyday wines need to change their mindset. We're fans of the Signature Series Pinot Noir, so it's great to see their Cabernet following along this path. Strong scents of cedar initially, then air reveals violets, blue and black fruit, plus a hint of dill. Shows power and tannic muscle, but with depth of plump fruit. Some ink, licorice, and charcoal notes. Gains texture and nuance, so keep swirling. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, plus a bit of Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah. Wait a year for this to integrate, or decant. About $40.

-  January 30, 2017

William Fevre Chablis Champs Royaux 2014. Clear and precise, with tons of river rock/limestone notes. Delivers delicious acidity and verve supporting green apple and lime flavors. Very inviting, and fantastic with shellfish. Drink now. About $20.

-  January 29, 2017

Mas d'en Gil Bellmunt 2011 (Priorat). Composed of 60% Garnacha, 20% Carinena, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, this represents a great value for this appellation, offering lots of smoke and crushed rock scents, with a touch of something medicinal. Robust in the mouth, showing more of those rocks, plus black cherries, iodine, and black licorie. Finishes with some power as well as solid acidity. Give this lots of air for the density to emerge. Drink now through 2022. About $22.

-  January 27, 2017

Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2011. This year's single vineyard Rancia is very nearly as good as the 2010 (which was on our top 10 list of 2016), exhibiting effusive aromas of licorice, rose petals, smoke, and cherries. This is the real deal, showing excellent intensity on the mid-palate, as well as structured dark fruit and acidity. Could use some time, as right now it's a little tight and not as integrated as it could be. Decant if you want it now, otherwise drink in a few years. About $45.

-  January 25, 2017

Don Camillo Rosso Salento Don Giovanni 2014. Made from Primitivo Salento, Negramaro, and Malvasia, this offers intriguing scents of cantaloupe, procuitto, and cloves. Dark in color and relatively soft in the mouth, with flavors reminiscent of smoke, juicy plums, and black current. Not much in the way of tannins, but there's supportive acidity to keep the fruit in check. Drink now. About $12.

-  January 24, 2017

Teo Costa Roero Arneis Lamiana 2015. Hard to not enjoy the lovely river rock scents, then there's a hint of white peach. Clean, bright, and mouthwatering, while showing excellent purity and minerality. With time, subtle fresh herb and citrus notes emerge. Excellent with food. Drink now. About $18.

-  January 23, 2017

Patrick Piuze Brut Val de Mer Non-Vintage. This bubbly is 100% Chardonnay from vineyards near Chablis, undergoes bottle fermentation, and receives no dosage. Has a hint of butterscotch/caramel on the nose, but is very crisp on the palate, with good mouthfeel surrouding the chalky minerality and lemon peel notes. On the austere side. Drink now. About $20.

-  January 22, 2017

Bodegas El Nido Clio 2013 (Jumilla). Made from mostly Monastrell plus Cabernet Sauvignon, this offers deep, penetrating scents of charcoal, pen ink, iodine, very black fruit, and camp smoke. Both powerful and plush in the mouth, very saturated, and extremely dense. Makes you pay attention to it, with some creamy spice notes that complement the dark friut. Long. Wish we had another bottle of this. 16% alcohol. Great now, and will last for another 15 years. About $45.

-  January 20, 2017

Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs 2011 (North Coast). Though not as powerful as the 2012 versions we've tried, this nonetheless has penty to offer, with generous scents of honey, almond cookie, and a hint of red fruit. Elegant in the mouth, where the flavors of red apples and lemon are lithe, and the acidity refreshing. Better as an apertif. Drink within a year or so. About $35.

-  January 19, 2017

Cassa Branco 2015 (Douro). Love the rocky crushed slate quality to this, plus lemon peel and tangerine. Fresh and mouthwatering, finishing with a green herb note. Not very complex, but it's also very easy on the wallet. Made from 40% Rabigato, 40% Viosinho, and 20% Codega do Larinho. Drink now. About $10.

-  January 18, 2017

Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Napa Valley). Sporting an opaque inky purple/black color, this is yet another fantastic vintage of this, having deep scents of cassis, black plums, smoke, and licorice, but still shows some freshness. Extremely rich and full, totally mouthcoating and dense. Tons of ripe black fruit, but also bacon and toasted oak notes. Kind of spectacular if you enjoy this type of full-throttle Napa Cab. We wonder what the Special Selection will be like. Tasted from their rather unusual 1 liter bottle. Approachable now, but will last for at least 15 years. About $70.

-  January 14, 2017

Capçanes Mas Donis Old Vines 2014 (Montsant). Made from 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah, this is a bit more funky on the nose compared to previous versions, with a wet wool note to go with the iodine and smoke. Needs aeration to reveal the fleshy dark fruit, while staying balanced with a distinctive crushed rock note, plus fresh acidity. Tasty cherry and plum fruit, with a hint of lavender on the finish. Fantastic value. Drink now through 2021. About $11.

-  January 10, 2017

Alphonse Dolly Sauvignon Blanc Les Doigts d'Or de Dolly 2015 (Vin de France). Super-clean, fresh and inviting, showing notes of grass, white grapefruit, lemons, limestone, and a hint of passionfruit. Not a complex wine, but is really enjoyable and very food friendly, with a pleasant texture. Drink now. About $15.

-  January 9, 2017

Paolo Scavino Barolo Bricco Ambrigio 2009. Classically Barolo, with a nose of new leather, mushrooms, dark soil, black pepper, and something medicinal. Straightforward attack, then an arresting pop of flavor on the sides as it travels through the mouth. Great presence, with a rusty quality on the finish. Plenty of tannin, but is still approachable with its depth of cherry fruit. Really enjoyable now, but better to wait a couple of years. About $60.

-  January 7, 2017

Bodegas Ordoñez Triton 2014 (Toro). Dusty initially, with shitake mushroom and bramble notes, then wild berries. This is a powerful, dense wine and a fantastic value, showing barbecue smoke, licorice and coffee flavors that develop into really wonderful crushed blueberry notes when given air. Be patient, the fruit is impressive if you give it time. Drink now through 2021. About $21.

-  January 6, 2017

Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012 (Willamette Valley). Offers a focused nose of bright cherries, tobacco leaf, orange rind, and subtle spices. Maybe some freshly brewed coffee. Medium-bodied and fresh, with some cola and licorice notes on the zippy finish. Nicely done. A friendly style. Drink now through 2020. About $30.

-  January 5, 2017

Henri Bourgeois Pouilly Fumé La Porte de l'Abbaye 2015. Terriffic purity here, with a clean, inviting personality to the river rock, meyer lemon, pea shoot, and green pear notes. Very well-balanced, with a hint of lime and sea salt. Shows precision and elegance. Drink now. About $22.

-  January 3, 2017

Bodegas Olarra Rioja Reserva Cerro Añon 2010. A hint of cream on the nose, but mostly cherries, licorice, smoke, and dark earth. Mid-weight, with impressive density of flavor and acidity. Shows quality of fruit and focus. Made from 80% Tempranillo, and 20% of Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano. Drink now 2023. About $20.

-  January 2, 2017

Saveurs du Temps Rosé 2015 (Costières de Nîmes). Made from 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah, this has a shy nose, but the palate is balanced, refreshing, and lithe. A delicate style, with notions of roses, citrus peel, raspberries, and fresh herbs. Modest in scope. Drink now. About $11.

-  December 31, 2016

At the end of each year at davidjohnhansen.com, we rank our favorite wine recommendations and decide on a top 10. This year's group features fine Champange, delicious Cabernets, and other gems from around the world.

#1 Moet & Chandon Champagne Brut Dom Perignon 2006.

#2 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2006 (Napa Valley).

#3 Mitolo Shiraz Savitar 2004 (McLaren Vale).

#4 Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard 2008 (Napa Valley).

#5 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2010.

#6 Schramsberg Brut Rosé 2012 (North Coast).

#7 Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Ovello 2008.

#8 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007 (Napa Valley).

#9 Orin Swift Machete 2014 (California).

#10 Celler Cal Pla Black Slate Porrera 2013 (Priorat).


Honorable mentions:

Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill 2012 (Auckland).

Stags' Leap Winery Petite Sirah 2012 (Napa Valley).

Numanthia-Termes Numanthia 2003 (Toro).

Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo 2009.

Heidsieck Monopole Champagne Brut Gold Top 2005.


-  December 22, 2016

Georges Vigouroux Rosé Gouleyant 2015 (Côtes du Lot). Made from Malbec, this is a salmon colored pretty wine of solid acidity and focus. Melon, dusty drawer, and fresh flowers on the nose, then raspberry and watermelon notes on the palate. Good value! About $12.

-  December 21, 2016

Masseria Setteporte Etna Bianco N'ettaro 2012. There's a chalky/dusty edge to this wine's nose, plus lime peel and a hint of cheese. On the palate, it's more like stone fruits, ripe pear, apples, and a touch butterscotch on the finish. Medium-bodied, dry, and an interesting change of pace. Made from 65% Carricante and 35% Catarratto. About $19. About $19.

-  December 14, 2016

Viña Cobos Cabernet Sauvignon Felino 2014 (Mendoza). Complex nose, suggesting fresh coffee grounds, charcoal, cherries, wild berries, and smoke. Really great texture, with plenty of fruit (mostly black cherry) to go with the vanilla oak notes. Generous and nicely done. And a great value! Drink now through 2021. About $18.

-  December 13, 2016

Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé Non-Vintage. Beautiful color, reminiscent of peach and copper. Detailed and expressive nose, like red berries, stone fruits, and warm bread. Expert balance and elegant texture, having refined flavors of watermelon, blood orange, clementine, and red apples. Long finish, where the subtle spicy note emerges. About $80.

-  November 29, 2016

Guigal Châteauneuf du Pape 2009. This is totally at the right spot in its developent, with delicious fruit and acicity, like cherry liqueur and subtle tobacco, seaweed, blueberry, and cedar notes. More in an earlier drinking style, without serious tannin, but medium-bodied and harmoniously put together. Drink now through 2020. About $55.

-  November 28, 2016

Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (Marlborough). Leaps out of the glass with concentrated gooseberry scents, plus white grapefruit, green pear, and passion fruit. Balanced, but certainly on the zippy side, with freshness and verve to the grassy/herbal notes. Really enjoyable lime zest on the finish. Drink now. About $18.

-  November 27, 2016

Olivares Monastrell Altos de la Hoya 2013 (Jumilla). Dark, smokey, and medicinal nose, but also notions of black fruit and iodine. Full-bodied and dense in the mouth, featuring licorice flavors and an unforgiving quality that really improves with air. Try with a well charred steak. Drink now through 2021. About $14.

-  November 24, 2016

Ruinart Champagne Blanc de Blancs Non-Vintage. Pretty straw color, followed by a nose suggesting Camembert cheese, citrus, honey, and table water crackers. Lemon curd on the crisp, expansive palate, plus hints of fresh bread dough, white peach, and grapefruit. Really elegant and long, with some great minerality on the finish. Drink now. About $75.

-  November 23, 2016

Scharffenberger Brut Excellence Non-Vintage (Mendocino County). A serious bubbly for the price, one that's nearly rich in body, paired with lots of flavor, having notions of toasted almonds, red berries, whole grain bread, flowers, and orange rind. Excellent balance and volume, staying fresh through the long finish. If this said "Champagne" on the label, they could charge twice as much. Drink now. A steal at about $18.

-  November 21, 2016

Pira Barolo Marenca 2010. Classically Barolo, with scents of roses, tar, dark tobacco, pine forest, and hints of cherry. Structured and dense, with slightly chunky tannins. Medium-bodied and powerful, with a lasting impression of dark fruit and a touch of lavender. Great intensity that's drinkable now, but better in a few years, and will last another 10. About $70.

-  November 20, 2016

Quinta do Sobral Reserva 2013 (Dão). A touch rustic, but not distractingly so, with notions of cola, smoke, licorice, and plums. Shows real density and focus, with a lasting finish that offers a touch of iodine. Interesting stuff. About $17.

-  November 19, 2016 

Tiefenbrunner Pinot Bianco 2015 (Alto Adige). Love the vein of river rock qualities running through this, along with white peach, club soda, green pear, and subtle tangerine. Very crisp and food friendly. Let it warm up in the glass for the hint of tropical fruit to emerge, all the while keeping the minerality. Drink now. About $16.

-  November 17, 2016

Bodegas Vizcarra Ramos JC Vizcarra 2010 (Ribera del Duero). Checking in on the 2010 (last tasted in 2013), this is holding up extremely well, with fantastic richness, density, and presence. Notions of licorice, cherry liqueur, tobacco, dark spices, and mocha. A youngster, but totally accessable. Delicious. Drink now through 2026. About $26.

-  November 16, 2016

Ken Wright Pinot Noir 2013 (Willamette Valley). Garnet color, with complex aromas of tart cherries, green tobacco, freshly brewed coffee, hints of mushroom and forest floor. Excellent purity and energy here. Doesn't have outstanding depth, but is clearly well-made and precise. Good for early drinking. About $29.

-  November 7, 2016

Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard 2008 (Napa Valley). Effusive aromatics that include cola (or is that Dr.Pepper?), plus tons of cassis, blackberry, vanilla, and charcoal. Very full-bodied, super-rich, but also precise and enormously enjoyable. The length is astounding, featuring gobs of blue and black fruit, coffee and licorice notes. Nearly 16% alcohol, but is neither overbearing or hot. Awesome right now, and will keep for at least another 10 years. We're really glad that we're on this winery's mailing list. About $70?

-  November 6, 2016

Gosset Champagne Brut Grande Resérve Non-Vintage. Not overwhelmingly complex, but solidly built, with notions of green apple, bread dough, lemons, and a hint of toffee. Finishes clean and focused, with very good overall balance and charm. Drink now. About $48.

-  November 3, 2016

Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon Jack London Vineyard 2013 (Sonoma Mountain). Black pepper, dark spices, leather, smoldering fire, iodine and hints of cassis on the nose. Masculine, with good density and an herbal bay leaf quality, plus menthol, black cherries, and cocoa powder. Needs lots of air for the fruit to come out. This is not an obvious, forward Cabernet. We wish they stayed with their distinctive bottle/label design, but that has nothing to do with the high-quality wine inside. Been drinking this vineyard since the early 90's, and history shows this needs time in the cellar to express itself, so hold for a couple of years before popping the cork, and drink through 2028. About $27.

-  November 1, 2016

Justin Monmousseau Touraine 2015. An excellent river rock/crushed limestone note is evident both through the nose and palate, plus lime peel and green apples. Tart and zesty, in a very appealing way, this would be fantastic aperitif. Drink now. About $13.

-  October 30, 2016

Westport Rivers Brut Blanc de Blancs 2001 (Massassachusetts). Much better than thier rather ordinary RJR bottling, the Blanc de Blancs offers focused scents and flavors of honey, lemon peel, ginger, and hints of biscuit. With decent body and admirable freshness, it's a suprisingly good New England wine, which we rarely find. Drink now through 2019. About $44.

-  October 28, 2016

Teso La Monja Romanico 2012 (Toro). Effusive nose, reminiscent of crushed blueberries, cherries, smoke, and licorice. Deep and generous mid-palate, showing purity and focus, with fantastic fruit and presence for the price. Interestingly, it reminds me of Chateauneuf. Outstanding value. Made from Tinto de Toro. Drink now through 2021. About $16.

-  October 26, 2016

João Portugal Ramos Alvarinho 2015 (Vinho Verde). Scents like white peaches, oranges, fresh herbs, lemons, and something hinting at bubble gum (in a good way). Zesty, with great acidity and good intensity. Limes/lemons on the the vibrant, echoing finish. Cool stuff. Drink now. About $15.

-  October 23, 2016

Arona Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (Marlborough). Shows really good focus on the nose, with flavors/aromas of gooseberry, white grapefruit, and passion fruit, and lemongrass. Has all that you would expect out of this category, but also a bit more verve and palate impression. Mouthwatering finish. Great value. Drink now. About $11.

-  October 21, 2016

Jacquart Champagne Brut Mosaïque Non-Vintage. Offers generous scents of baked apples, butterscotch, orange rind, and hints of crushed nuts. More apples on the medium-bodied, robust palate, plus red berries. Some spicy graham cracker notes on the long finish. Not delicate, but stays bright and interesting. Drink now. About $38.

-  October 20, 2016

Senorio de Barahonda Carro 2014 (Yecla). Dark and brooding (the Monestrell sticks out), with notes of campfire smoke and tar, but also prune and medicine. Spicy finish. Hearty and a touch rustic, but a really great value. Composed of 50% Monestrell, 20% Syrah, 20% Merlot, and 10% Tempranillo. Drink now. About $10.

-  October 19, 2016

Paolo Scavino Sorriso 2015 (Langhe). Fresh, inviting and mouthwatering, with notions of white peach, fresh herbs, pears, lemon peel, and rambutan. No hint of oak. Really enjoyable, and really pretty. Made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier. Drink now. About $17.

-  October 18, 2016

Zenato Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore Ripassa 2012. Intense and chocolatey nose, with dense espresso, plum, cigar smoke, licorice, and cinnamon candy notes. Focused, extracted palate, featuring cherry and mocha flavors across a full-bodied mouthfeel. Great acidity, with a spice-tinged finish. Really good. One of the better versions of this we've had. Drink now through 2020. About $22.

-  October 16, 2016

Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir CrossBarn 2013 (Sonoma Coast). Dark plum color, with scents of crushed cherries, lavender, cola, and a hint of smoke. Ripe and plump in the mouth, but not without energy, featuring a peppery spice finish and a touch of new leather, not unlike new Frye boots. Excellent freshness here. Drink now through 2020. About $33.

-  October 13, 2016

Rui Roboredo Madeira Branco Reserva 2015 (Beyra Interior). Made from 50% Síria and 50% Fonte Cal, this exhibits some rubber glove and Vaseline notes on the nose. Light citrus flavors, and a very clean profile in the mouth. Peach and grass notes show up with air. Drink now. About $10.

-  October 11, 2016

Triennes Rosé 2015 (Méditerranée). Made from mostly Cinsault, along with Grenache, Syrah and Merlot, this is exhuberant, with great acidity to support the cherries, flowers, citrus peel, raspberries, and subtle earth notes. Substantive, and holds your interest. Drink now. About $15.

-  October 10, 2016

Orin Swift Machete 2014 (California). Jumps out of the glass with scents of black licorice, black cherries, figs, and graphite. Super-rich, dense, and mouthcoating, with a real journey across the palate. Lots of ripe fruit (plums, cassis) that only gain intensity with a bit of air. Not subtle, but manages to stay honest, even at 15.7% alcohol. Made from Petite Sirah, Syrah & Grenache. Drink now through 2024. About $50.

-  October 5, 2016

Chartogne-Taillet Brut Champagne Cuvée Sainte Anne Non-Vintage. Golden color, with scents of honey, white flowers, hazelnuts, and graham crackers. A fairly rich style, tasting of almond biscotti, red berries, nutmeg and ginger. Mouthfilling texture, with fantastic balance and intensity. Very impressive. This version was disgorged in April 2008, so it's fully mature, but will last a few more years. About $45.

-  October 4, 2016

Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Ovello 2008. Scents of roses, tar, cherries, mushrooms, and subtle spices. Has a sense of elegance to it, with focused fruit, but also a structured, long finish. Give this some air for the volume to show up, as well as the wonderful texture and density of flavor. Contemplative. Great now, but better in a few years, and will last past 2030. About $60.

-  September 29, 2016

d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab 2014 (McLaren Vale). Made from Viognier and Marsanne, this exhibits notions of evergreen, peach, pear, Vaseline, apples, and honey. Rich mouthfeel, with lots of ripe fruit and focused acidity. Finishes with good intensity and plenty of pleasure, at an easy price. Drink now through 2019. About $14.

-  September 27, 2016

Bodegas Triton Tempranillo EntreSuelos 2013 (Castilla Y Leon). Youthful and primary, with notions of dusty grapes, mocha, cherries, and fig. Toasty, fruity finish, with medium-body and lots of freshness. Not for contemplation, but at this price, that's fine. Drink now through 2019. About $11.

-  September 24, 2016

Podernuovo A Palazzone Argirio 2010 (Toscana). Very pleasing, effusive scents of blueberry, cola, smoke, freshly brewed coffee, and spices. Maybe a hint of bell pepper. Silky, open texture, with no sharpness from too much acidity, featuring plum and cedar flavors. Given air, more fruit comes out, and the texture gets even more refined. Very well done for this price point. Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2020. About $25.

-  September 20, 2016

Sarl Jean Merieau Touraine Les Hexagonales 2015. Very expressive without sacrificing minerality, this is succulent, with notions of ripe grapefruit, pear, gooseberry, and tangerine. Medium-bodied, with plenty of verve, representing a excellent value from the Loire. Sauvignon Blanc. Drink now. About $12.

-  September 19, 2016

Domaine de la Charbonnière Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Vieilles Vignes 2005. Love the iodine intensity to this, plus molasses, cherries, and smoke. Structured (as the vintage tends to be), as well as pure and focused. Solid licorice, mocha, and blueberry flavors, with really good length, and a more welcoming texture that comes with aeration. Drink now through 2023. About $55.

-  September 16, 2016

Cal Blanca 2012 (Toro). Lots of smoke on the nose, plus rich coffee, ink, and blueberry notes. Inky palate that's dark and intense, starting out masculine, but mellows with air, revealing a more nuanced profile. Good acidity and fine tannins. Great with grilled meat. Tempranillo. Drink now through 2021. About $19.

-  September 15, 2016

Calheiros Cruz Branco 2015 (Douro). Like white flowers and crushed rocks on the nose, but the palate is almost juicy, suggesting ripe oranges, peaches, and honeydew. Finishes with a passion fruit note, with good clarity and focus. Made from 40% Viosinho, 30% Rabigato, and 30% Gouveio, this is a tasty value. Drink now. About $13.

-  September 14, 2016

Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Blanc 2015. Reminiscent of lychee on the nose, plus peaches, green guava, and green grass. Pleasurable and energetic, with more tropical fruit notes on the palate. Finishes clean, with a green apple and almond note. Really enjoyable. About $16.

-  September 13, 2016

Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Rosé 2015. Beautiful color, as well as an impressive nose of raspberries, strawberries, and orange rind. Flat out delicious, this has energy, presence, and focused fruit. Vibrant watermelon notes, with expert balance, ending with a citrus peel quality. Impressive. Drink now. About $26.

-  Septemer 12, 2016

Viña Cobos Malbec Felino 2014 (Mendoza). Unfiltered. Youthful and grapey, with notions of smoke, boysenberry, freshly roasted coffee, blackberries, and prunes. Plump and exhuberant, staying fresh and almost fun, but maintains balance with both acidity and modest tannin. Really nice value. Drink now through 2020. About $18.

-  September 10, 2016

La Lecciaia Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2007. Hints of amber color, with a complex nose of green tobacco, leather, herbs, violets, cherries, and coffee. Nice presence, medium-body, and excellent texture, finishing long. An elegant style, showing flavors of black olives and plums. Decent tannins, but is overall generous and pleasing. Drink now 2021. About $50.

-  September 9, 2016

Allegrini Palazzo delle Torre 2012 (Veronese). Some earthy shitake mushroom scents initially, but there's also hints of leather and cigar shop. Medium-bodied, with very good intensity to the licorice, dark fruit, and espresso flavors. Finishes fresh and moderately long. This is always an impressive value, year after year. Made from 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Sangiovese. Drink now through 2020. About $20.

-  September 8, 2016

Magnum Carlos Lucas Tinto Pinha Ribeiro Santo 2014 (Dão). Complex scents of coffee, eraser, graphite, iodine, cedar, and crushed rocks. Tart attack, featuring cranberries, but moves to a meaty mid-palate, like beef blood and cherries and currants. Medium-bodied, with decent length. Really interesting, and kind of a bargain. Made from 35% Touriga Nacional, 35% Tinta Roriz, and 30% Alfrocheiro. Drink now through 2020. About $14.

-  September 7, 2016

Tenet Wines Syrah The Pundit 2014 (Columbia Valley). Perhaps better than last year's version, offering generous scents of black and blue fruits, smoke, and seaweed. Full-bodied, rich and focused as well, with concentrated cherry and blackberry fruit. This is very long and mouth-coating. Has the right balance to not become tiring. More smoke and then licorice notes on the finsih. Also contains co-fermented 6% Grenache, 4% Mourvèdre, and 2% Viognier. Drink now through 2021. About $24.

-  September 3, 2016

Champs de Provence Rosé 2015 (Côtes de Provence). Bright and energetic, with a noticible herbal streak running through the celery, watermelon, and raspberry notes. Dry, with lots of acidity, this would do well as an apertif. Drink now. About $17.

-  September 2, 2016

Aleanna Cabernet Franc El Enemigo 2011 (Mendoza). Aromas of fire pit are melded with ripe bell peppers, anise, coffee, and lavender. Full-bodied and focused, with black licorice notes to go with the dark fruit. With good structure, this needs a bit of air to reveal itself. Drink now through 2021. About $26.

-  August 23, 2016

Allegrini La Grola 2012 (Veronese). On the bright side, with plenty of acidity that uplifts a complex nose of shitake mushrooms, cola, wet earth, fall leaves, violets, and a hint of menthol. Medium-bodied and showing freshness to the black licorice flavors and candied apple finish. A very expressive journey in the mouth. Drink now through 2020. Drink now through 2020. About $25.

-  August 21, 2016

René Geoffroy Brut Champagne Expression Non-Vintage. Notions of butterscotch caramel on the nose, plus red berries and hay. Lots of flavor in the mouth, showing real volume and impressive focus, reminiscent red apples and whole wheat bread. Stays lively through the moderately long finish. An excellent example from Premier Cru vineyards. This bottle is fully mature (disgorged in July 2009), so drink now. About $50.

-  August 17, 2016

Hartley Ostini Pinot Noir Hitching Post 2014 (Santa Maria Valley). Pretty garnet color, with a nose of bright cherries, green tobacco, currants, and subtle spice. Coffee and red berries are featured on the palate. On the lighter side, with lots of acidity (but not sharp), ending with a licorice finish that's long, balanced, and thorough. Drink now through 2020. About $25.

-  August 16, 2016

Finca Allende Allende 2004 (Rioja). Aromatics reminiscent of cherries, blueberries, light oak, black licorice, and smoke. Almost bright acidity, with good fruit on the attack, and more licorice on the finish. Not a big mid-palate, but has excellent balance and medium body. Gains volume, detail, and complexity with air. Mature, but will last five more years. Tasted from magnum. About $50.

-  August 15, 2016

Clos de los Siete 2012 (Uco Valley). There's noticible use of oak here, but it isn't overpowering, with notions of vanilla, smoke, and toast, then briary dark berries, lavender, fig, and mocha. Shows some power, though a bit hot on the finish. Good value. Made from 57% Malbec, 18% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Syrah, and 2% Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2020. About $18.

-  August 14, 2016

Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup Rosé 2015 (Pic Saint Loup). Subtle nose, like raspberries, minerals and fresh herbs. Almost creamy in texture, with flavors of bubble gum and orange marmalade, with plenty of acidity and minerality. Finishes austere, in a good way. Made from 30% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, and 10% Cinsault. Drink now. About $15.

-  August 1, 2016

Bollinger Champagne Special Cuvée Non-Vintage. Small, pretty bubbles, then scents of honey, stone fruit, bread dough, and hints of raspberry. Rich, bold, and intense, but with a refined, mouth-filling texture and supportive acidity. Hazelnut, whole wheat bread, red fruit, and spicy ginger notes. Don't drink this too cold for maximum effect. Very impressive. In our experience, the non-vintage is ready to go, so drink now. About $65.

-  July 31, 2016

Lemos & van Zeller Tinto Quinta Vale D. Maria VVV 2013 (Douro). A bit rustic, but there's also lots of primary, youthful cherry fruit, plus anise, dark spices, green tobacco, and chocolate notes. Medium-bodied, fresh, and better with food that's got some richness to it. Finishes moderately long, and gains volume with air. This is the "3 valleys" bottling. Drink now through 2020. About $20.

-  July 22, 2016

Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha Viñas Viejas 2012 (Calatayud). The old vine version by Las Rocas is similar to the regular bottling, but more dense, rich and bold, with plenty of dark cherry, mocha, and licorice flavors. Shows some heat, but overall retains most of its footing, finishing with blueberry, seaweed, and smoke notes. Drink now through 2019. About $23.

-  July 20, 2016

Château Grande Cassagne Rosé 2015 (Costières de Nîmes).  Some acetone notes on the nose, then cucumber and light raspberry. More like cherry and plum fruit on the palate, and even a little fleshy for a rosé. Ends with a delicious strawberry note and subtle spice. This is the best vintage of this we've had in a while. Drink now. About $11.

-  July 18, 2016

Adega Mãe Viosinho 2013 (Lisboa). Very herbal, like crushed up parsley and cilantro, plus river rock and hints of fennel. Ends with a lemon peel note. Not complex, but very crisp and clean, pairing well with fresh, white fishes. Drink now. About $13.

-  July 17, 2016

Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007 (Napa Valley). Reminiscent of eucalyptus, cassis, smoke, black cherries, and black pepper, this is just plain fantastic. Very, very impressive balance. Weighs in at 15% alcohol, but you would never guess it, offering medium to full-body and extracted, dense flavors. Black licorice on the intense, long finish. Hasn't yet hit its peak, but wonderful now, and will last for another 10 years. About $70.

-  July 16, 2016

Charles Smith Rosé Vino 2015 (Washington). Made from 100% Sangiovese. Showing excellent purity, this is fun and energetic, with modest peach, cherry, and citrus notes. Finishes dry and almost chalky. Cool stuff. Drink now. About $10.

-  July 14, 2016

Laurent-Perrier Champagne Brut Rosé Non-Vintage. Strikingly rich color for a rosé, with a detailed nose of white mushrooms, raspberries, orange peel, and graham cracker. Fantastic presence in the mouth, showing real focus and great intensity. Subtle smoke notes pair with tart cherry and slate flavors that finish with harmony and verve. Always an intriguing wine. Drink now through 2019. About $65.

-  July 13, 2016

Domaine du Pré Semelé Sancerre Blanc 2014. Interesting scents of ginger, lychee, white peach, and parsley before a beautifully textured palate that's super-elegant, focused and refined. The flavors are all about stone fruits, citrus, and river rock. Energetic and very intriguing, holding your interest through the whole progression. Drink now. About $28.

-  July 10, 2016

Bodegas Shaya Shaya 2013 (Rueda). Made from 100% Verdejo, this is exhuberant and almost rich, but well-balanced and energetic, with notes of cantelope, creamsicle, red apple, passion fruit, and pineapple. With air, some blood orange and vanilla flavors emerge. Very pleasing, focused, and great with spicy food. Drink now. About $15.

-  July 9, 2016

Château Bonnet Blanc 2014 (Bordeaux). An inexpensive, everyday white value, made from 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, and 10% Muscadelle, with notes of grass, green apples, fresh herbs, and melon. Some energetic lime qualities. Not complex, but is zippy and fresh for a summer picnic. Drink now. About $11.

-  July 8, 2016

De Wetshof Chardonnay Limestone Hill 2015 (Robertson). This clean, unoaked Chard offers scents of bamboo forest, lime peel, and river rock. Medium-bodied, ripe, with not shy flavors reminiscent of peaches, oranges, pear, and pineapple. Maybe a hint of cream, but has plenty of acitity to keep it from being weighted down. Great with a salad. Drink now. About $14.

-  July 7, 2016

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Knights Valley). While extremely consistent in style, this year's version is clearly better than the 2012, showing a nose of pure cassis, cherries, toast, licorice, and lavender. A touch medicinal. Dense, more structured, with plenty of fruit purity and length. Still a fanstastic value -- if this were from Napa, they could charge twice as much. Drink now through 2016. About $26.

-  July 6, 2016

Les Dauphins Rosé 2015 (Côtes du Rhône). Pretty color that many of the 2015 French rosés seem to have, then scents of school supplies (erasers, pencil shavings) and a hint of raspberry. Cherry fruit on the attack moves to boiled peanuts on the midpalate, then a metallic, fresh finish. Interesting, inexpensive rosé. Drink now. About $10.

-  July 3, 2016

Undurraga Carignan Terrior Hunter 2012 (Maule Valley). Deep red color, with notions of smoke, wet earth, coffee grounds, cherries, plums, boysenberries, and red bell peppers. Has a forest/wild quality to it. Medium-bodied, focused, and tasty, with a briary finish that moves on to more berries. Represents a real value. Made from 50 year old dry farmed vines. Drink now through 2020. About $19.

-  July 2, 2016

Le Charmel Rosé 2015 (Côtes de Provence). Crisp and relatively simple, but at this price, that's OK, with modest herb, raspberry, cherry, and flower notes, finishing with pleasant bitterness. Lots of acidity (in a good way), and made for warm weather. Made from 30% Syrah, 30% Cinsault, 20% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache, and 10% Rolle. Drink now. About $10.

-  July 1, 2016

Delamotte Brut Champagne Non-Vintage. From Le Mesnil sur Oger comes this very expressive bubbly, featuring bread dough, honey, and citrus scents. Very nicely done, having excellent balance, fantastic acidity, and plenty of ripe grapefruit and berry notes. Finishes long and complete. Hard not to love this wine. Great now, but could age for a couple of years. About $45.

-  June 30, 2016

Moet & Chandon Champagne Brut Dom Perignon 2006. An outstanding wine, having all the extreme elegance, nuance, and flavor one expects from this cuvée. Having lively, small bubbles, with a straw color, this offers scents of lemons, butterscotch, white flowers, honey, and a hint of funk. Beautiful texture, with flavors of bread dough, brioche, citrus rind, and preserved lemons. Cranberry/strawberry notes move on to minerality and sea air qualities along the lengthy finish. Young and vibrant, with a long life ahead. Amazing. Drink now through 2028. About $150.

-  June 23, 2016

Tolaini Tenuta S. Giovanni Valdisanti 2006 (Toscana). Last tasted 5 years ago, the 2006 Valdisanti is still showing strongly, with striking aromas of smoke, dark licorice, freshly brewed coffee, and iodine. Medium-bodied, powerful, and dense. Impressive, with notions of crushed rocks, more licorice, and lavender on the palate. Made from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Mature, but will last for another 6 years. About $35.

-  June 22, 2016

Vega de Tera Blanco 2014 (Castilla Y León). Hint of green color, then notes of lychee, grass, green apples, peach, and lime juice. Tasty, with zippy acidity. Easy, approachable, clean, and cheap. Made for summer drinking. 100% Verdejo. About $10.

-  June 20, 2016

Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvée Chaupin 2013. Offering immediate appeal, with scents of olives, cherries, and hints of undergrowth and spice. Medium-bodied, forward, with excellent purity and a pleasurable character. Tobacco and anise on the long finish. Great now, but will hold for six or more years. About $75.

-  June 19, 2016

Júlio Bastos Rosé Dona Maria 2015 (Alentejano). Made from 60% Aragonez and 40% Touriga Nacional, this offers notions of watermelon, oranges, and raspberries, with very good minerality. Not complex, but is very well balanced, with good body and focus. Drink now. About $15.

-  June 16, 2016

Catena Zapata Malbec Catena Alta Historic Rows 2013 (Mendoza). Coming from a blend of four of Catena's best Malbec vineyards, this offers up a dark, loamy nose, with notions of briary black fruit and roasted coffee. Full-bodied, extracted, and focused, with flavors of mocha and boysenberry, ending with a peppery note. A step up from their regular Malbec bottling, this has some richness allied with solid acidity on the long finish. Fine now, and probably better in a year. About $35.

-  June 15, 2016

Kris Pinot Grigio 2014 (Venezie). Parsley, river rock, and a hint of acetone on the nose. Starts off slow in the mouth, but ends with a lot of white peach and cantelope flavors, plus some tropical fruit. Clean and vibrant, this is good for a cheap Pinot Grigio. Drink now. About $12.

-  June 14, 2016

Casa Ferreirinha Planalto Reserva 2013 (Douro). Some reductive qualities in the nose (like rubber glove), but they aren't distracting, with a palate that's more like crushed oyster shells, green pear, and hints of citrus peel. Begs for some shellfish. Refreshing and energetic. Made from 40% Viosinho, 20% Malvasia Fina, 15% Gouveio, 15% Códega, and 10% Arinto. Drink now. About $12.

-  June 8, 2016

Château Pesquié Rosé Terrasses 2015 (Ventoux). Very light hue, with a floral nose (and a hint of eraser?). Strawberry, kiwi, and raspberry flavors that are light but not innocous. Ends with a stone note. Nicely balanced, and great with food. Better than the 2014. Made from 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 10% Syrah. Drink now. About $13.

-  June 6, 2016

Calera Pinot Noir 2012 (Central Coast). Nice depth to the nose, with notions of pipe tobacco, cherry, dark spices, and cola. Excellent, mid-weight texture, with a palate that's expressive with ripe fruit but also nicely balanced and long. This is Calera's "regular" bottling, but don't let that dissuade you, it's got plenty to keep you interested. Drink now through 2020. About $24.

-  June 3, 2016

Tenuta delle Terre Nere Guardiola 2011 (Etna Rosso). Dark! A touch medicinal and almost inky, with dark spices and violets, then very earthy (but not in a dirty way). Dense and powerful, starting with cranberries, but has an interesting progression to more brooding, iodine notes, with toothy tannin on the finish. Give this lots of air to drink now, or wait a few years. About $42.

-  June 2, 2016

Saget La Perirère Rosé La Petite Perrière 2015 (Vin de France). Floral, pretty nose that's bright with cherries, citrus rind, and dried lavender notes. Good fruit on the palate, with nice acidity and a slightly bitter finish (in a good way), ending with a lemony note. Not very complex, but does a good job for the price, and offers a crunchy bite of texture. Drink now. About $10.

-  May 30, 2016

Schramsberg Brut Rosé 2012 (North Coast). Having a gorgeous peach/pink color, with very fine bubbles, this is a fantastic effort, and one of the best versions of Schamsberg's rosés we've tried. Plenty of refined fruit, like crushed raspberries and watermelon, plus notions of flowers, red citrus, and a hint of biscuit. Very expressive. Made from 77% Pinot Noir and 23% Chardonnay. Best to drink within a few years. About $35.

-  May 26, 2016

Domaine du Chalet Pouilly Saint Veran 2014. Herbal nose, like cilantro and soap, plus green apples and hints of cheese. Nicely done, with distinct minerality paired with flavors of lemon, flowers, and white peaches. Stays vibrant through the finish. Drink now. About $20.

-  May 26, 2016

Poggio al Tesoro Vermentino Solosole 2014 (Toscana). Scented with white peach, wax, and orange rind notes, this puts forth a fleshy palate, with more wax notes, plus ripe pear and lemon flavors. Good acidity on the finish. Holds up to bigger flavors, so have this with some spicy foods. From Bolgheri. Drink now. About $18.

-  May 25, 2016

Les Vignerons de St. Hilaire d'Ozilhan Rosé Prestige 2015 (Cotes du Rhone). Made from 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault, this offers a soft pink color, with notes of raspberry, watermelon and peach. Modest in scope, but is refreshing and easy to like. Great as an apertif. Drink now. About $10.

-  May 24, 2016

Domaine Cheveau Mâcon Solutré-Pouilly Sur Le Mont 2014. Green, grassy, and fresh, this is a totally tasty, vibrant white Burgundy. Lemon and mineral notes on the palate, staying bright and inviting. No hint of oak. Lean, and wonderfully drinkable for the summer. Drink now. About $22.

-  May 23, 2016

Numanthia-Termes Numanthia 2003 (Toro). From 70-100 year old Tinto de Toro vines comes this powerful beauty of a wine. Notions of chocolate, blueberries, coffee, blackberries, and vanilla. Fantastic intensity and focus, and expertly balanced. Long, generous finish. Captivating. Mature, but not fading. Spends 18 months in new French oak. Drink now through 2020. About $70.

-  May 20, 2016

Catena Zapata Malbec 2013 (Mendoza). Dark fruit (prunes, blackberries), then licorice and coffee scents. Full-bodied, very well-made and harmonious. Impressive for the price, with notions of ripe blue/black fruit, red bell peppers, and a sense of liveliness while still being round and welcoming. Not overly structured, so drink this now through 2020. About $19.

-  May 18, 2016

Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris 2015 (Corbières). Pretty color that's relatively light for rosé. Cantelope, hints of dust and raspberries on the nose move to flavors of lavender, apple, and cherries. Nice texture and lively acidity. Really delicious this year. Drink now through 2018. About $20.

-  May 16, 2016

Mitolo Shiraz Savitar 2004 (McLaren Vale). Amazing wine. While the nose impresses with smoke, blackberry and toast notes, it's the palate that's astonishing for the level of density and depth. Sticks to the mouth with focused fruit and coffee flavors, with a finish that lasts nearly a minute. Wow. Will certainly make the top 10 this year. Drink now through 2022. About $80.

-  May 14, 2016

Stags' Leap Winery Petite Sirah 2012 (Napa Valley). Opaque purple/red, with a very complex, inviting nose of molasses, espresso, bitter chocolate, tobacco, deep woods berries, roasted herbs, iodine, and black pepper. Dark and intense, this is full-bodied and layered, offering licorice, blackberry, and squid ink flavors. Excellent. Fantastic now, but will last for at least 10 years. About $30.

-  May 12, 2016

Domaine Vetriccie Rosé 2015 (Île de Beauté). Dusty nose, like crushed up slate, then notions of tart cherries and orange rind. Refreshing, plesantly tart, and lean. Needs more on the finish, but is overall nicely done, with celery, raspberry, and green apple notes. Made from 40% Niellucciu, 30% Sciaccarellu, 15% Grenache, and 15% Merlot. Drink now. About $15.

-  May 8, 2016

Zenato Valpolicella Classico 2013. Leather, tobacco, violets, and notions of peanuts on the nose. Some great flesh here, with supportive acidity, finishing with a burst of wild berries. Not challenging, but very enjoyable, especially with food. Drink now through 2019. About $12.

-  May 4, 2016

Domaine Valfont Rosé 2014 (Coteaux d'Aix-En-Provence). Bright nose, with fresh, tart berries and canteloupe notes. Big acidity, but balanced by fun fruit and summer pleasure. Easygoing and versitile. Made from 50% Grenache, 35% Cinsault and 15%  Syrah. Drink now. About $10.

-  May 1, 2016

Heidsieck Monopole Champagne Brut Gold Top 2005. Golden in color, with fantastic, intense aromas of honey, orange marmalade, yeasty bread dough, and subtle flowers. Rich and full of depth, with red berry and candied fruit qualities (without being sweet), ending with a graham cracker and red apple note, with some dark spices. Very impressive. Not for those looking for a delicate bubbly. Drink now through 2018. About $50.

-  April 30, 2016

Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico Riserva Berardo 2010. Very classically Sangiovese in a great way, with notions of tart dried cherries, tobacco, and leather. Medium-bodied, balanced, and focused. Old World, in the best sense of it. Dark and inviting. Drink now through 2021. About $28.

-  April 29, 2016

Luigi Bosca Malbec Single Vineyard 2012 (Luán de Cujo). Made from 70 year old vines, and aged for 14 months in oak, this exhibits scents of smoke, cedar, vanilla, dark mushrooms, and interesting lavender qualities. Medium-bodied, peppery, with excellent acidity and density to carry it through. Boysenberry and tobacco! Well done, but not for fans of plush Malbec. Drink now through 2013. About $20.

-  April 22, 2016

Commanderie de Peyrassol Rosé 2015 (Côtes de Provence). Pale color, with a very pretty nose of cantelope, celery, and raspberries. Very elegant and refined, offering fantastic, silky texture, with flavors reminiscent of oranges, red apples, and berries. Crisp and pure. Drink now through 2018. About $22.

-  April 20, 2016

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2015 (Coastal Region). No shortage of cassis and bright cherry notes here, paired with great acidity and freshness. Finishes with subtle herb/citrus rind qualities, staying mouthwatering and vibrant. Drink now. About $12.

-  April 13, 2016

Paul Buisse Touraine 2014. Bright, with a very grassy/herbal nose plus notions of stone fruit and river rock. Nice purity here, with a sense of elegance and restraint to the pear and citrus flavors. Drink now. About $12.

-  April 11, 2016

Tiefenbrunner Pinot Bianco 2014 (Alto Adige). Hint of green color, and also green on the nose, like fresh cut herbs and a mown lawn, then some lime peel notes. Excellent balance, with moderate body, finishing with a hint of clementine. Very fresh and inviting. Drink now. About $15.

-  April 9, 2016

Bodegas Nekeas Rosé Vega Sindoa 2015 (Navarra). Made from 100% Garnacha, this is bright red for a rosé, and exhibits exhuberant scents of bananas and crushed raspberries. Tons of fruit on the palate (mostly cherries), with very good intensity and focus. A rosé for red wine drinkers. Drink now. About $10.

-  April 5, 2016

Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard 2006 (Napa Valley). Ripe bell pepper, camphor, and roasted herb aromas emerge from this ultra-rich, plush, and pure beauty. In the mouth, there are hints of iodine to go with cassis, blackberry, and black licorice notes. Long, long finish. An amazing wine, with real dark intensity to it. Totally captivating for the levels of fruit and harmony. 15.3% alcohol, but without a hint of heat or being overbearing. Great now, but will last for 10 or more years. About $80.

-  April 2, 2016

Artea Rosé 2015 (Alpes de Haute Provence). Very pale pink, with raspberry and citrus notes, plus zippy acidity. Crisp, refreshing, and while not complex, it has no flaws. Nice pleasant bitterness on the finish. Cheap too. Drink now. About $7.

-  April 1, 2016

Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs 2009 (North Coast). Exotic scents of cardamom and ripe cheese, with hints of yeasty bread and citrus. Both rich and elegant in the mouth, with real volume and intriguing texture, having a creamy quality (Creamsicle?), plus red apple and raspberry flavors. Not their normal Blanc de Noirs, but in a good way. Drink now. About $35.

-  March 31, 2016

Luca Malbec 2012 (Uco Valley). Deep ruby/purple color, with scents of milk chocolate, wild berries, and vanilla. Not as plush as some vintages, but has with good acidity, excellent purity, and outstanding presence to the mocha, blackberry, and smoke notes, with refined, integrated tannins. Might be better in a year, then drink through 2022. About $30.

-  March 29, 2016

Mastroberardino Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco 2013. Bright yellow color. Made from Coda di Volpe grapes grown on volcanic soils, this exhibits a burnt sugar quality on the nose, plus anise candies, green herbs, and candle wax. Ripe pears on the palate, with hints of peach and lanolin. Moderate body, staying crisp on the finish. Drink now. About $16.

-  March 28, 2016

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2006 (Napa Valley). The 2005 vintage of this classic Napa Cab was our favorite wine of last year, and the 2006 is certain to make the top 10 this year. With focused aromatics of cassis, smoke, and vanilla, it's pure and astonishing for its clarity of fruit and balance. Rich, full-bodied, and completely harmonious, with a layered mid-palate of red and dark fruits, smoke, chocolate, and beautiful oak notes. The finish sails on and on, with ripe tannins. Absolutely gorgeous at this stage, and will last for at least 10 more years. About $100.

-  March 27, 2016

QVE Quinta Da Falorca 2008 (Dão). Made from Touriga Nacional, Rufete, Jaen, Alfrocheiro, and Tinta Roriz grapes, this has a color like midnight. Old world nose, like shitake mushrooms, incense, and something medicinal. Powerful, dense, and muscular, with dark fruit and black tea notes. Impressive. Decant to drink now, and will last for another 10 years. About $25.

-  March 26, 2016

Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Domaine Sainte Claire 2014. We're fans of this Chablis specialist, especially for this real value in the appellation, showing a funky cheese nose initially, but let it burn off to show the white peach and lime notes. Fresh and very minerally, like ground up chalk, with an enjoyable texture and very clean quality. Nicely done. Drink now. About $20.

-  March 24, 2016

Domaine Houchart Rosé 2015 (Côtes de Provence). Strikingly fruity compared to previous vintages, with overt strawberry, raspberry, and peach notes, but still has good acidity and stays balanced. Not in the lean style we've come to expect, and kind of reminicent of strawberry/kiwi Snapple. Still worth recommending. Drink now. About $12.

-  March 23, 2016

Henri de Villamont Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs Non-Vintage. Lacking in aromatics, but the palate is soft, gentle and reminiscent of lemon curd, spring flowers, and grapefruit rind. The texture is very enjoyable. Have this one as an easygoing apertif. Drink right away. About $15.

-  March 16, 2016

Terredora Di Paolo Falanghina 2014 (Irpinia).  Savory herbs on the nose, plus hints of bitter citrus rind and flowers.  Has some rocky minerality, paired with grapefruit and pear essences, then a bright, pleasantly acidic (lime juice) finish.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  March 14, 2016

Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2010.  A gorgeous expression of Sangiovese, with tobacco, freshley brewed coffee, lavender and cherry aromas, then roasted chestnuts and more cherry fruit in the mouth.  Medium-bodied with fine tannins and excellent purity, ending with a spicy note.  Really gorgeous balance.  Fine now, but probably better in a year, and will last through 2026.  About $45.

-  March 13, 2016

Celler Cal Pla Black Slate Porrera 2013 (Priorat).  Maybe better than the 2012, this again delivers an astonishing value for this appellation, showing fantastic purity and amazing intensity, with notions of licorice, crushed rocks, black cherries, blueberries, and smoke.  Harmonious acidity, full-bodied, with a beautiful finish and refined tannins.  Very Priorat.  Made from Grenache and Carignan (60-80 year old vines), and weighs in at 15% alcohol.  Ready now, and will last for another 6 years.  About $21.

-  March 11, 2016

Bérèche & Fils Champagne Brut Réserve Non-Vintage.  Disgorged in September 2015, this exhibits a lively bead, with complex scents of butterscotch, chalky earth, citrus peel, and ripe pears.  A structured style that presents with an intense attack and mouthfilling texture, followed by flavors of roasted nuts and lots of volume.  Probably better in a year, and will last for a few more after that.  About $45.

-  March 8, 2016

Quinta da la Rosa dauRosa White 2012 (Douro).  Shows some crushed rock minerality on the nose, plus white peach and button mushrooms.  Beeswax and apricot flavors on a medium to full-bodied frame, yet fresh and inviting, with a green peppercorn finish.  Try with rich fish.  Drink now through 2019.  About $14.

-  March 7, 2016

Ridge Lytton Springs 2009 (Dry Creek Valley).  Made from 71% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah, and 6% Carignan, this vintage shows some elevated acidity (in a great, fresh, inviting way), with tons of briary fruit, smoke, and freshly brewed coffee notes.  Some solid structure and great intensity.  Here at davidjohnhansen.com, we wonder if Ridge ever produces a bad bottle.  Drink now through 2022.  About $35.

-  March 6, 2016

Louis Jadot Volnay Clos de la Barre 2011.  Pretty garnet color.  Very well-executed, with exotic spice scents and shitake mushroom, plus flowers and cherries.  Starts off shy, but has an impressive mid-palate.  Structured, precise, and energetic.  Finishes long, with a touch of loamy earth.  Drink now through 2021.  About $55.

-  March 3, 2016

Peju Province Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Napa Valley).  Juicy, very lively and fleshy, with notions of ripe green apple, pear, red grapefruit, and tropical fruit (especially with air).  Very likeable.  Slightly herbal finish that's focused and pure.  Drink now.  About $22.

-  March 1, 2016

Château Le Conseiller 2005 (Bordeaux Superior).  Made from 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, and having an expressive nose of lavender, smoke, peat, red roses, tobacco, and blackberries.  Not tired, showing a beautiful texture and dense fruit, as well as supportive tannins. Drink now through 2019.  About $25.

-  February 29, 2016

Bila-Haut Rosé 2014 (Pays d'Oc).  Bright, electric salmon color, with scents of orange rind, minerals, and flowers.  Fantastic acidity, turning creamy with air, with watermelon, pear, and raspberry notes.  A crackling finish offering slight honeydew flavors.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  February 26, 2016

Mason Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Pomelo 2014 (California).  Just like its namesake fruit, so if you don't like large citrus fruits and intense, juicy flavor, this isn't for you.  Generous and easy to enjoy, with notions of tropical fruit (mango?), with plenty of acidity and verve, and a touch of savory on the finish.  One of the best versions of this we've had.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  February 25, 2016

Seghesio Zinfandel 2013 (Sonoma County).  Year after year, Seghesio's "basic" bottling is always reliable and impressive, with notions of black pepper, tons of blue and black fruit, and a velvety full-bodied texture.  Generous and balanced, with a jump of intensity on the finish.  Joyful.  Drink now through 2019.  About $22.

-  February 24, 2016

Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill 2012 (Auckland).  Beautifully scented, with effusive notes of lemon curd, ripe pear, white peach, fresh herbs, and tropical fruit.  Medium in body, with a layered palate and gorgeous texture, plus fantastic, bright acidity.  Lots of river rock notes to go with the green mango and citrus.  Long, focused finish.  A beauty.  Drink now through 2019.  About $45.

-  February 23, 2016

Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2013 (Mendoza).  We haven't had this producer's wines in a while, so it's great to have a confirmation that they're still making serious bottles.  Very perfumed, like lillies and roses, plus iron, wild berries and Turkish coffee.  Harmonious and almost elegant, and having medium body.  Tea leaves on the finish, along with notions of plum and cherries, paired with very lively acidity.  Very nicely done.  Drink now through 2020.  About $27.

-  February 16, 2016

Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2012 (Leyda Valley).  A touch of acetone on the nose, then roasted beets, cherries, and mushrooms.  Solid fruit and tobacco flavors, with a hint of rare meat, adding to complexity.  Great finish, showing nuance and earthiness.  Kind of old world in style.  Drink now through 2020.  About $24.

-  February 15 ,2016

Domaine de la Cadette Bourgogne Vézelay La Châtelaine 2014.  Crushed limestone, orange blossom, pear, and subtle peach notes (mostly on the finish).  Medium-bodied, with very good intensity, focus, and a lasting impression.  Nice purity in a value white Burgundy.  Drink now.  About $25.

-  February 13, 2016

Ricitos de Oro White Grenache 2014 (Navarra).  Like river rocks on the nose, plus white peach, flowers, and longan fruit.  Fresh and very energetic, with ripe pear, lime peel and stone fruit notes.  Try with crab legs, at a low-risk price.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  February 11, 2016

Dow Vale do Bomfim 2011 (Douro).  Shows aromas of bloody meat, minerals, iodione, slate, and seaweed, then the palate is more about dark chocolate and wild berries.  Full-bodied and dense, with a powerful finish for the price (where the licorice shows up).  A great winter wine.  Fantastic value.  Also, the winner of the Battle of the Portuguese Reds #2.  Drink now through 2021.  About $13.

-  February 9, 2016

E. Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde 2000.  We've had better vintages of Brune et Blonde, but this is still charming and pleasurable , with notions of crushed rocks, rust, wild herbs, and black fruit.  Medium-bodied, perfumed, and focused.  Very mature, so drink up if you still have one.  About $60.

-  February 8, 2016

Casamonti Chianti Classico Riserva 2011.  Very classicly Sangiovese in style (in a good way), with scents of dark tobacco, tart cherry, and a dusty quality.  Medium-bodied, expressive, and balanced.  Well-made, with some lavender and fresh coffee notes, enlivend by fresh acidity.  Drink now through 2021.  About $30.

-  January 19, 2016

Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Napa Valley).  Warm and toasty, showing scents of cedar, black cherries, and cassis.  Classic, old-school style of Napa Cab, in a medium to full-bodied format, with precision and focus, gaining depth with air.  Flavors of tobacco, loam, coffee, and burning ember emerge with time.  Not for fans of plush, super-ripe Cabernet.  Drink now through 2022.  About $45.

-  January 17, 2016

Torres Verdejo Verdeo 2013 (Rueda).  Hint of green in color.  Very spring, with notions of fresh herbs, citrus peel, and pea shoots.  Lively and very energetic.  Finishes clean and uncomplicated.  Drink now as an apertif.  About $10.

-  January 14, 2016

Brancaia Ilatraia 2011 (Toscana).  Harmonious nose of dark tobacco, blackberries, espresso and vanilla.  This impresses with its power and elegance, showing an earthy quality (is that escargot?), with uplift and brightness, paired with dark fruit, smoke, and spice notes with fantastic intensity.  Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc.  Decant if you want to drink now.  About $45.

-  January 13, 2016

Simonnet-Febvre Chablis 2014.  Some strong cheese notes at first, but let this air out to reveal the white peach and pear scents.  Clean and bright, with enjoyable notions of crushed rocks, mushrooms/wet earth, and then lime peel on the finish.  Drink now.  About $20.

-  January 9, 2016

Château Pipeau 2009 (Saint Emilion).  Reminiscent of mushrooms, lavender, plums, and soy sauce on the nose.  Generous in the mouth, featuring blueberry, blackberry, and mocha notes.  Full-bodied, with solid acidity and pleasing length.  Mature, but will last a few more years.  About $25.

-  January 8, 2016

Júlio Bastos Tinto Dona Maria 2012 (Alentejano).  Shy nose, but there's a clear streak of iron running through the middle of the palate, along with briary plum flavors.  Dark, but with nice acidity to prop it up.  Good value.  Made from 50% Aragonez, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Alicante Bouschet, and 15% Syrah.  Drink now through 2020.  About $16.

-  January 5, 2016

Duval Leroy Champagne Brut Premier Cru Non-Vintage.  We're fans of the regular bottling by Duval Leroy, but this version from superior vineyards takes it up a level.  Really pretty aromas reminiscent to honey, fresh bread dough, apples, and citrus rind.  Frothy in texture, with very good intensity and excellent focus. Finishes with a bit of butterscotch and roasted nuts, gaining volume with air. Drink now.  About $55.

-  January 4, 2016

Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo 2009.  A wonderful wine of generosity, purity, and soaring aromatics.  Notions of eucalyptus, cherry, toasted bread, and truffle on the nose, then medium-body and focused tar and ripe red bell pepper notes.  Extracted, relatively soft, with great fruit and an approachable style.  Decant to drink now, and will hold for 6 years.  About $60.

-  January 3, 2016

Domaine Lafage Tessellae Old Vines 2013 (Cotes du Roussillon).  Showing amazing purity and focus is this blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre.  Medium to full in body, with notes of smoke, darks spices, black fruit, freshly brewed coffe, and undergrowth.  Long in finish, where the licorice, fruit and briary notes intertwine.  Drink now through 2021.  About $17.

-  December 31, 2015

Coming up with the top ten for 2015 was extremely difficult this year, simply because we recommended so many fantastic wines and so many values (a great problem to have).  In the end, the top ten is more heavy with bigger reds this year, with three fantastic Napa Valley Cabernets in the top five, and two bottles from Two Hands in Australia (both from the 2005 vintage).

Last year's results were very Champagne heavy, but only two made it this year, plus a relative value from Vietti in Barolo.

#1 - Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2005 (Napa Valley). 

#2 - Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Napa Valley).

#3 - Pierre Paillard Brut Champagne Grand Cru Non-Vintage. 

#4 - Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 40th Anniversary 2012 (Napa Valley). 

#5 - Two Hands Shiraz Bella's Garden 2005 (Barossa Vallley). 

#6 - Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2007. 

#7 - Alto Moncayo Veraton 2012 (Campo de Borja). 

#8 - Varnier Fanniere Champagne Brut Grand Cru Non-Vintage.

#9 - Robert Craig Affinity 2010 (Napa Valley). 

#10 - Two Hands Brave Faces 2005 (Barossa Valley). 

Honorable mentions:

Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf Du Pape La Crau 2005. 

Domaine Lafage Bastide Miraflors 2013 (Côtes Catalanes). 

J.A. Ferret Pouilly-Fuissé 2013. 

Luigi Bosca Malbec Terroir Los Miradores 2012 (Uco Valley). 

Tenet Wines Syrah The Pundit 2013 (Columbia Valley). 


-  December 27, 2015

Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough).  A classicly styled New Zealand Sauv Blanc, with notions of grapefruit, pea shoots, limes, bell pepper, and passion fruit.  Modest in scope, but zippy and inviting.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  December 23, 2015

Teso La Monja Almirez 2012 (Toro). Opaque purple/red.  Dense, powerful nose of wood smoke, acetone, burnt chocolate chip cookies, and blackberries.  Some real guts to this, exhibiting the masculine side of this grape.  Black tea, plums, and bitter coffee on the finish.  Much more generous with air.  Made from 100% Tinto de Toro.  Best to wait a year or two.  About $25.

-  December 21, 2015

Lan Reserva 2008 (Rioja).  Very pretty nose, with integrated chocolate, lavender, and vanilla scents.  Cherry attack, then a beautiful texture that flows across the palate with elegance and focus.  Long finish of mocha, fig, and spice.  Composed of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo, and 10% Garnacha.  A serious value.  Drink now through 2020.  About $20.

-  December 19, 2015

Hugel Gentil 2013 (Alsace).  Light, crisp and enjoyable, with notions of white peach, flowers, green apple, fresh herbs, and a nice line of minerality.  Very versitile, food wise.  Impressive with crab.  Made from Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, and Sylvaner.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  December 17, 2015

Acinum Soave Classico 2014.  Surprisingly good body to this, surrounding notes of lemons, fresh herbs, orange rind, and limestone.  Focused, easy to like (but not simple), with admirable balance.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  December 14, 2015

Domaine Serene Pinot Noir 2009 (Oregon).  This "basic" bottling from an excellent producer shows how even their lower level of their portfolio is still noteworthy.  Notions of cherry cola, mocha, currants, dark spices and wet soil.  Excellent purity, impressive balance, and fabulous length.  Drink now through 2019.  About $35.

-  December 11, 2015

Kobalt Window Pane 2011 (Napa Valley).  Complex scents of licorice, coffee, loamy organic dark soil, squid ink, and a medicinal note.  Impressive texture (flowing and intense at the same time), with black fruit notes.  Plush and forward, with pronounced licorice flavors on the long finish.  Made from 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Petite Sirah, and 5% Carignane.  Drink now through 2019.  About $45.

-  December 10, 2015

Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Leyda Valley).  A metallic note to go with the abundance of tropical fruit, such as mango, guava, and passion fruit. Very supportive acidity that supports the generous attack (lemons, grass), then fades a bit too quickly, but this is very inviting and enjoyable for the price.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  December 9, 2015

Senorio de Barahonda Carro 2013 (Yecla).  Made from 50% Monastrell, 20% Syrah, 20% Merlot, and 10% Tempranillo, this darkly colored and darkly flavored Spanish value offers notions of smoke, ink, graphite, and black fruit, with good acitity and texture.  Impressive depth for such an inexpensive wine.  The Monastrell really stands out here.  Unoaked.  Drink now through 2018.  About $10.

-  December 8, 2015

Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva Ribera del Tinguiririca 2013 (Marchigue).  A tasty value, with generous flavors/scents of blackberry, cassis, vanilla, and mocha.  Nice focus.  Not powerful or super-complex, but enjoyable, and delivers solid Cabernet flavor.  Built for early consumption, so drink before 2018.  About $15.

-  December 5, 2015

Celler Cal Pla Black Slate Porrera 2012 (Priorat).  Smells rich, with notions of cooked tomato sauce with meat, licorice, smoke, and cough medicine.  Squid ink, crushed rocks, and dark fruit flavors on a powerful, full-bodied frame.  Dense, with impressive intensity, extraction, and length.  An amazing value.  Drink now through 2020.  About $20.

-  December 4, 2015

J.A. Ferret Pouilly-Fuissé 2013.  Maintains a sense of elegance throughout, with aromas of lemon curd, lime lest, and mushrooms.  Really beautiful palate, with energy and verve to the crispy pear and apple flavors.  Fantastic purity.  Finishes clean, vibrant, and long.  Drink now through 2018.  About $30.

-  December 2, 2015

Andrew Murray Syrah Tours les Jours 2014 (Santa Ynez Valley).  Smokey bacon notes on the nose, plus ink and dark mushrooms.  The palate features black olives (with the can they came in) and a woodsy note, like leafy undergrowth, then licorice and blackberries.  Noticible acidity on the finish, and gains some nice volume with air.  Cool.  Drink now through 2021.  About $18.

-  November 29, 2015

Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2007.  This is a gorgeous, harmonious Barolo that offers detailed, layered notes of sweet cherries, flowers, tar, and cigar tobacco.  Has lots to offer, but remains elegant and focused, with plenty of structure.  Unfiltered.  Very impressive.  Decant to drink now.  Will last for another 10 years.  About $50.

-  November 28, 2015

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Spitfire 2014 (Marlborough).  We're fans of the regular Sauv Blanc from Kim Crawford, but this "small parcel" bottling shows more nuance and elegance, with a depth that holds your interest.  Passion fruit, limes, and a subtle smoke note, with a pervasive saline quality both on the nose and palate.  A lemon heavy finish that's mouthwatering and fresh.  Drink now.  About $22.

-  November 27, 2015

Chante Cigale Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 2003.  An interesting roasted meat and herb quality on the nose to go with the blueberry, iodine, and cherry notes.  Intense and full-bodied, with more of that iodine/seaweed note, plus licorice candy, smoke, and lavender.  Long, rocky finish.  Made from 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre.  Ready now, but will be fine for another 5 years.  About $55.

-  November 26, 2015

Bodegas Mas Alta Artigas 2012 (Priorat).  One could mistake this nose for a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, showing depth and richness to the licorice, black fruit, and incense notes.  Dark on the palate, with real intensity, full body, and needing of air.  Espresso, red berries, and liquid mineral flavors.  A masculine style of Priorat.  Made from 80% Grenache, 10% Carignan, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Wait at least a year, then drink for at least another 10.  About $28.

-  November 22, 2015

Maison de La Colline Sancerre La Craie 2014.  Lots of oyster shell and lemon rind notes on the nose.  Vibrant, on the lean side, but also focused, with kaffir lime and river rock flavors.  Finishes energetic.  Drink now.  About $17.

-  November 21, 2015

Juan Gil Monastrell 2013 (Jumilla).  From low-yield, 40 year old vines comes this astounding Spanish value.  Shows some brightness on the nose, with cranberry notes backed up by smoke and licorice.  Excellent purity and fantastic depth for the price, with medium body and a dark palate that expresses smoldering fire, espresso, anise, and black cherry.  This is the "silver label" bottling.  Drink now through 2020.  About $15.

-  November 20, 2015

Argyle Brut 2010 (Willamette Valley).  Made from 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir, this Oregon sparkler exhibits notes of honey, pineapple, red berry, red grapefruit, and orange rind.  Elegant, but with very good insensity, this is inviting and interesting, and finishes with some richness.  Lighter in body, but doesn't sacrifice flavor.  Drink now through 2017.  About $20.

-  November 18, 2015

Luigi Bosca De Sangre 2012 (Mendoza).  Made from 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 15% Syrah, this densely colored blend offers scents of shitake mushroom, burning ember, and graphite.  Dark and mysterious in profile, with medium body and solid acidity, finishing with good depth and a black pepper note to go with the fig and currant flavors.  Drink now through 2019.  About $25.

-  November 16, 2015

Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf Du Pape La Crau 2005.  Dense and powerful (reflective of the vintage), with notes of iron, seaweed, and smoke.  Finishes with an intense blast of licorice and roasted coffee, mixed with black and red fruit.  Very impressive and structured, this should last for at least another 10 years.  About $65.

-  Novemer 15, 2015

Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2014 (Priorat).  A pretty perfume here, with scents of red flowers, slate, licorice, and lots of smoke.  Youthful, with bright cherry, plum and spice notes.  Medium-bodied, focused, and finishing energetic.  Great entry-level Priorat.  Drink now through 2019.  About $20.

-  November 14, 2015

Domaine Carneros Brut 2009 (Carneros).  Really elegant and precise, with notes of white flowers, lemon zest, and hints of green apple (especially on the long finish).  Beautiful, vibrant, and inviting.  Drink now.  About $25.

-  November 13, 2015

Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Bianco 2014.  Bright yellow in color, with notions of peach and white truffles on the nose.  Good intensity to the lime juice and apple flavors, with uplift from acidity, finishing moderately long (with a hint of caramel).  Interesting.  Drink now through 2018.  About $20.

-  November 8, 2015

Izadi Rioja Reserva 2010.  With subtle smoke and spice notes on the nose, this is an excellent value in Rioja, featuring a slightly tart attack leading to a mid-palate of both red and dark fruit, with hints of coffee.  Great depth and energy.  Sees 14 months in American oak.  100% Tempranillo.  Drink now through 2020.  About $19.

-  November 7, 2015

Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir CrossBarn 2012 (Sonoma Coast).  Fairly rich nose of black tea, cherries, eucalyptus, and camp smoke.  Really beautiful, silky texture and a long finish, with notions of dark fruit, cola, anise, and spice cabinet.  Outstanding acidity and overall balance.  Very nicely done.  Drink now through 2019.  About $35.

-  November 4, 2015

Drylands Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough).  Gooseberry, lime, and passion fruit notes are balanced and zippy with this inviting white.  Finishes with a chalky, dry (but good) quality.  Nice.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  November 2, 2015

Marcarini Barolo Brunate 2004.  Perfumed, with notions of black truffles, freshly sharpened pencils, and tar.  Tannic, intense, and classic Barolo, showing flavors of fennel, black licorice, bitter chocolate, and cherries.  Ready now, but will hold for 5 more years.  About $70.

-  November 1, 2015

Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne 1999.  Bacon, smoke and herbs de provence on the nose.  Lacks some body and richness, but the flavors of lavender, roses, orange peel, and iron are all there, with good intensity and focus.  Drink now.  About $75.

-  October 27, 2015

Celler Cecilio Black Slate Gratallops 2013 (Priorat).  Youthful and expressive, with notions of licorice, black cherry, fig, cola, and blueberries.  Made from mostly Grenache, this sees no oak, is full-bodied, and is very generous.  Not nuanced or refined, but is a real mouthful and a real value for Priorat.  It can be consumed now or in 8 years.  About $22.

-  October 25, 2015

Aljibes Petit Verdot 2008 (Tierra de Castilla).  Just a slight hint of funk weaves through this impressively done red, with notions of ripe red bell pepper, smoke, burnt microwaved popcorn, dark spices, vanilla, coffee ice cream, and plum.  Beautiful texture, with a sense of elegance, and a modern style.  Drink now through 2021.  About $25.

-  October 21, 2015

Château Sainte Marie Reserve 2014 (Entre-Deux-Mers).  Some rubber glove scents initially, but later green pear, fresh herbs, and grass.  Very good balance, with notes of melon, orange rind, and apple.  Modest in scope, and very approachable.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  October 18, 2015

Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Napa Valley).  Opaque purple/black, with a dense nose of plums, smoke, and charcoal.  Ultra plush, very rich and extracted in the mouth, with no shortage of black cherry, chocolate, date, licorice, and fig notes.  Still youthful, this has plenty of heft behind all the fruit, with a gorgeous texture and long finish.  Amazing.  Ready now, but will easily last for another 10 years.  About $55.

-  October 16, 2015

Cesari Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore Bosan 2012.  Having aromas of freshly brewed coffee, licorice, and tar, this is a very, very good wine of intensity and length, with real focus and impressive balance.  Notes of flowers, more coffee, and dark fruit, with a flowing nature.  Drink now through 2020.  About $35.

-  October 13, 2015

Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough).  Strikingly aromatic, and very New Zealand, but this is no ordinary Sauv Blanc.  Intense, but refined notes of grapefruit, mango, lime, passion fruit, and green guava.  Very lively, focused, and delightful, finishing with a touch of starfruit and fresh herbs.  Drink now.  About $20.

-  October 12, 2015

Wine & Soul Manoella 2012 (Douro).  With scents of cinnamon, raspberry, chocolate, and red grapefruit, this is a touch rustic (in a good way).  Full-bodied, having flavors of espresso, black licorice, black pepper.  Solid.  Made from 60% Touriga Nacional, 25% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Roriz, and 5% Tinta Francisca.  Drink now through 2020.  About $20.

-  October 7, 2015

Tenet Wines Syrah The Pundit 2013 (Columbia Valley).  Made by a collaboration of Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington and Michel Gassier of the Rhone Valley, this exhibits complex scents of cigar shop, baked goods, vanilla, smoke, and cream.  Very dense, with full-bodied texture, this is an ostentatious wine with tons of dark fruit, but enough intensity and acidity to keep it unified.  Licorice and coffee and the solid finish.  Outstanding value.  Drink now through 2020.  About $21.

-  October 5, 2015

Camille Savès Champagne Brut Carte Blanche Non-Vintage.  Made from Premier Cru vineyards, this exhibits notes of white flowers, tangerine, honey, peach, and lemon rind.  Bright, very elegant and refined, with an excellent attack.  Let this come to temperature for the finish to show up.  Made from 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay.  Drink now.  About $40.

-  October 4, 2015

Domaine Lafage Bastide Miraflors 2013 (Côtes Catalanes).  Made from Syrah and Grenache, this shows fantastic intensity on the nose, with focused scents of black cherries, coffee, cola, and roses.  Full-bodied, rich, and also structured, having flavors of mocha, licorice, and briary fruit.  Dense.  What value!  Drink now through 2019.  About $15.

-  October 3, 2015

Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Western Cape).  Excellent clarity of flavors and aromas, like pure kaffir limes, then fresh herbs and green pear.  Zesty, bright, and easy to enjoy, with good intensity.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  October 2, 2015

Gautheron Chablis 2014.  Has what I love about Chablis, which is that sense of vibrancy, clarity, minerality, and composure.  Notes of lime zest, green pear, and lemongrass.  No hint of oak.  Finishes zippy, with admirable intensity.  Drink now.  About $21.

-  October 1, 2015

Bruna Pigato 2014 (Riviera Ligure di Ponente).  Aromatic, with notions of ripe peaches and red apples.  Almost rich in the mouth, but also has great acidity and freshness, featuring apricot, honey, and fresh parsley flavors.  Unique.  Drink now.  About $17.

-  September 29, 2015

Júlio Bastos Dona Maria Amantis Reserva 2009 (Alentejano).  Full-bodied and internationally styled, with notes of black cherry, plums, cassis, and mocha.  Shows very good balance and freshness, with a plump, inviting character that should please many palates.  Made from equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Touriga National.  Drink now through 2018.  About $18.

-  September 26, 2015

Patrick Lesec Châteauneuf Du Pape Pierres Dorées 2005.  Dark and smoky nose, with charcoal and scorched earth.  Has fantastic intensity, and shows the structure of the vintage with noticeable tannin, but with air the fruit peeks out.  Flavors of roasted meat, wild berries, and campfire, then iodine on the finish.  A masculine style.  Impressive, but needs a bit more time.  About  $45.

-  September 25, 2015

Castello D'Alba Branco 2014 (Douro).  Clear and bright, with notes of white peaches, lemons, and minerals.  Zesty and refreshing.  Not complex or compelling, but also has no flaws.  Made from Códega do Larinho, Rabigato, and Viosinho.  Drink now.  About $9.

-  September 23, 2015

Tormaresca Primitivo Toricoda 2012 (Salento).  Smells elegant and old world, with dark tobacco, dark earth, black pepper, and smoke notes.  Good structure and extracted, this is more expressive with air, featuring admirable balance and focus.  Drink now through 2018.  About $19.

-  September 20, 2015

Klinker Brick Syrah Farrah 2012 (Lodi).  A touch of eucalyptus on the dark nose, plus smoke and lavender.  Good density, with a meaty character that aligns well with the black fruit, lavender, and espresso notes.  Full-bodied and robust, and becomes pretty jammy with air, but stays balanced.  Probably better with a steak.  Drink now through 2018.  About $18.

-  September 19, 2015

Yalumba Chardonnay Unwooded Y Series 2014 (South Australia).  Very soft and approachable, with easy pear, lime, fresh herb, and peach notes. Moderate in body, with solid acidity, and a hint of tropical fruit on the finish.  Drink now. About $11.

-  September 17, 2015

Columbia Crest Gold Limited Release 2013 (Columbia Valley).  For the second year in a row, this is a juicy, delicious and soft value made from mostly Cabernet Franc.  Plum, cherry, and baked goods highlight the ripe red bell pepper notes, with little in the way of structure, but lots of inexpensive pleasure.  Drink now through 2017.  About $10.

-  September 16, 2015

Burgans Albariño 2013 (Rias Baixas).  Notions of honey, oranges, white peaches, and fresh herbs are evident in this perennial value from Spain.  With great focus and energy, this is also easy to enjoy.  Uncomplicated, but not simple.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  September 13, 2015

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2005 (Napa Valley).  Beringer's highest quality Cabernet continues to shine every time we open one, with this vintage showing no hint of fading at the 10 year mark.  Gorgeous, complex aromatics of cassis, licorice, coffee, black cherry, smoke, and chocolate.  Opulent in texture, with fantastic depth and full-body, this grabs the palate with ripe tannin and elegance that makes you smile.  The finish just sails on and on (cassis, plum, crushed rocks, and mocha).  Standing ovation.  Outstanding now, but will certainly last for another 15 years.  About $125.

-  September 12, 2015

Michel Gassier Cercius Blanc 2014 (Vin de France).  Energetic and very enjoyable, featuring notions of lime juice, white peach, orange rind, and ripe pear.  Very versatile, with good purity and freshness.  Plenty of value here.  Made from Rhone Valley Grenache Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  September 10, 2015

Pierrick Harang Le Petit Balthazar Blanc 2014 (Pays d'Oc).  Made from half Viognier and half Sauvignon Blanc, this offers scents of citrus, petroleum, and lemon curd.  Nice depth for the price, with mostly peach flavors, finishing with a zesty lime and mineral note.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  September 9, 2015

Sileni Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection 2014 (Marlborough).  Textbook New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with scents of grass, limes, grapefruit, gooseberry, and river rocks.  Good body, and more herbal on the palate, plus tropical citrus and rambutan.  Finishes zippy, but a bit lean.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  September 7, 2015

Mas Doix Les Crestes 2012 (Priorat).  Shy aromas of smoked meat, cherries, and licorice.  The palate features a beautiful, silky texture that's almost elegant, with slate and black fruit notes.  Finishes long, with a bright, herbal/medicinal quality reminiscent of a digestif.  Made from 80% Grenache, 10% Carinena and 10% Syrah.  Drink now through 2019.  About $25.

-  September 6, 2015

Mer Soleil Chardonnay Silver 2013 (Santa Lucia Highlands).  Presented in a ceramic bottle to highlight the fact that this is an unoaked wine, this year's version offers abundant tropical fruit notes (pineapple, passion fruit, mango) compared to other years.  Clocks in at 15% alcohol, but manages to retain balance with solid acidity and admirable length.  Shows richness and purity.  Drink now.  About $20.

-  September 5, 2015

Marqués de Cáceres Verdejo 2014 (Rueda).  A real interesting vein of minerality here to go with the remarkable lime, pear, and white peach notes.  Palate-cleansing and energetic.  Great finish for an uncomplicated, easygoing summer white.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  September 3, 2015

La Posta Malbec Pizzella 2013 (Uco Valley).  Offers abundant scents of charcoal, wild berry, mocha, and cream, with real presence and concentration in the mouth.  A fantastic finish for the price, showing toasty oak and vanilla notes, but also lots of extracted, dense fruit.  Nice job!  Drink now through 2019.  About $18.

-  September 2, 2015

Château Pesquié Rosé Terrasses 2014 (Ventoux).  Pretty pink/peach color, with notions of watermelon and raspberry, but with some surprising creaminess on the mid-palate.  Finishes with vibrancy, however, along with a touch of spice.  Not as balanced as some previous vintages, but still tasty.  Made from 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 15% Syrah.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  August 18, 2015

Domaine Vetriccie Rosé 2014 (Île de Beauté).  Pretty color.  Hints of roses on the nose, then raspberries, herbs, and citrus rind flavors.  Dry and fresh, with a touch of chalk on the finish.  Nicely done, with lively acidity.  A Corsican blend of 40% Niellucciu, 30% Sciaccarellu, 15% Grenache, and 15% Merlot.  Great price!  Drink now.  About $9.

-  August 17, 2015

G.H. Mumm Champagne Brut Cordon Rouge Non-Vintage.  This bottle didn't have a ton of effervesce, but did have a ton of baked bread aromas, along with red apple and toasted walnuts.  Whole wheat biscuit notes in the mouth, with touches of caramel and spicy apple cider.  A bit richer for a middle-of-the road style of Champagne, with good balance and length.  Drink now.  About $40.

-  August 15, 2015

Armas de Guerra Rosado 2014 (Bierzo). Made from 100% Mencía, this is presents with a floral nose that also includes strawberries and citrus rind.  Dry, with supple cherry fruit and an undertone of minerality, paired with bright acidity.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  August 15, 2015

Armas de Guerra Blanco 2014 (Bierzo).  Zippy and fresh, with plenty of lime, oyster shell, lemongrass, and white peach notes.  Has a touch of that mouthwatering ocean air quality.  Bring on the shellfish.  Made from 82% Doña Blanca, and 15% Godello.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  August 14, 2015

Roederer Estate Brut Non-Vintage (Anderson Valley).  This continues to be an astonishing wine for the price, offering inviting scents of roasted nuts, orange marmalade, ginger, and honey. Shows real complexity and depth, paired with fantastic acidity and focus. The volume of flavor is excellent (citrus, spices, white flowers, bread dough), with great presence.  Drink now.  About $20.

-  August 13, 2015

Château Grande Cassagne Rosé 2014 (Costières de Nîmes).  Continues their house style of rosé, with a very overt style and bright pink color.  Plenty of raspberry, watermelon, orange rind, and red apple flavors.  Shows some density, with zippy acidity and tons of juicy fruit.  Made from 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  August 9, 2015

Renacer Enamore 2010 (Mendoza).  Blackberry jam, licorice, and coffee scents leap from this excellent collaboration between Rencer and Allegrini.  Delicious and resonant, with tons of black fruit, then licorice on the long finish.  Concentrated and focused, with hints of vanilla and smoke.  Made using the appassimento method from 45% Malbec, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Bonarda.  Great stuff.  Drink now through 2020.  About $24.

-  August 8, 2015

Júlio Basto Branco Dona Maria 2014 (Alentejano).  Clean, expressive, and vibrant all at once, with abundant river rock, white peach, and fresh herb notes.  Refreshing, with great minerality and verve, finishing with modest length, and a citrus pith quality.  Made from 30% Viosinho, 35% Arinto, and 30% Antao Vãz.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  August 7, 2015

Finca Villacreces Pruno 2012 (Ribera del Duero).  Scorched earth, black fruit, and bell pepper aromas emerge from this Spanish value.  Extracted and dense, with more smoke notes in the mouth, plus black currant, licorice, and plum.  Shows purity, with a youthful, dark quality that's a bit primary right now, so this needs lots of aeration to tone down the fine tannins.  Try in a year or two.  About $20.

-  August 6, 2015

Slavcek Pinot Grigio 2014 (Vipavska Dolina).  One could easily mistake this for a pale rosé judging by the color.  Vibrant in the mouth, with shocking amounts of limestone minerality, along with white peach, lemon, and chive flavors.  Unusual, and almost effervescent, finishing with a slightly bitter edge.  Better with food.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  August 5, 2015

Mas d'en Compte Black Slate Porrera 2011 (Priorat).  Incense and black cherry aromas are followed by a palate of great intensity and volume, showing notions of crushed rocks and dark fruit, with a plush, welcoming full-bodied texture.  A bit hot on the nose, but is a fantastic value for this appellation.  Drink now through 2021.  About $20.

-  August 4, 2015

Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Medalla Real Gran Reserva 2010 (Maipo Valley).  Very classically Cabernet, with notes of cassis, black cherry, mocha, leather, cedar, and tobacco.  Kind of old world in flavor profile, but has new world texture, with very fine-grained tannins and admirable balance.  Represents an excellent value.  Drink now through 2020.  About $16.

-  August 1, 2015

Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Casablanca Valley).  Always a reliable value, this is a varietally correct, good summer sipper with scents of pea shoots, turpentine, and gooseberry.  Vibrant and clean, with mostly citrus and grass flavors.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  July 28, 2015

DiamAndes Perlita 2013 (Uco Valley).  This opaque blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Syrah offers scents of smoke, blackberries, cherry, and roses.  Good depth here, with notions of cream, vanilla, and black fruit that expand with aeration. Refreshing acidity shows up on the finish.  Not awesome, but represents a good value.  Drink now through 2019.  About $13.

-  July 27, 2015

Château de Roquefort Rosé Corail 2014 (Côtes de Provence).  Nicely executed, with really solid watermelon, raspberry, and light cherry fruit, with zippy acidity and real character.  Almost fleshy, hinting at citrus pith on the finish. One of the better rosés this year.  Made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Vermentino, and Clairette.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  July 26, 2015

Domaine Sigalas White 2014 (Santorini).  Composed of 75% Assyrtiko and 25% Athir, this offers a chalky nose and a crisp, vibrant, and clean character.  Having flavors of lemon curd, pear, and limestone, this begs for a hot summer day and a seafood salad.  Drink now.  About $20.

-  July 25, 2015

Pinyolet Selección 2010 (Montsant).  Unfiltered.  Heavy on the cherry licorice and nail salon scents.  Very dense, with smoke, crushed rock, dark plum, mocha, and cherry liqueur notes.  Full-bodied, showing power and purity, and a sticky finish that echoes with dark fruit.  Kind of a monster (a good one).  Made from 80% Garnacha and 20% Carignan.  Save this for a winter stew.  Drink now through 2021.  About $20.

-  July 23, 2015

Altesino Rosso 2014 (Toscana).  Some wet leaf/forest floor notes on the nose, along with violets, vanilla, and smoke.  Very Sangiovese in profile, with that slightly bitter but ripe cherry note, with good acidity.  Very approachable and not at all flabby.  Made from 80% Sangiovese, plus Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Drink now through 2017.  About $18.

-  July 21, 2015

Paul Jaboulet Aîne Côtes du Rhône Blanc Parallèle 45 2013.  Made from 50% Grenache, 20% Marsanne, 20% Viognier, and 10% Bourboulenc.  Reminiscent of stone fruits, lemon zest, oranges, wax, and honeysuckle, with great acidity to keep it going.  Easy texture.  A great summer value for seafood. Drink now.  About $11.

-  July 19, 2015

Cascina Bongiovanni Arneis 2012 (Langhe).  Starts with a creamy note, but then moves to pear, herbs, lemon rind, quinine, and almonds.  Plenty of acidity, with definite limestone minerality on the finish.  Lean, but interesting.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  July 17, 2015

Champ de Rêves Pinot Noir 2011 (Anderson Valley).  Clear, bright ruby color.  On the ripe spectrum of Pinot Noir, with notions of cola, blueberry, anise, and a touch of tobacco on the finish.  Retains its freshness, with medium body and ripe tannins.  Good value here.  Drink now through 2018.  About $28.

-  July 15, 2015

Domaine du Père Caboche Rosé 2014 (Vin de Pays de Vaucluse).  Light red in color, like the inside of a watermelon, with a soapy, shy nose.  Solid acidity supports flavors of cranberry, raspberry, and light cherry.  Not complicated and easy, but nicely expressive and enjoyable.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  July 14, 2015

Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon Jack London 2006 (Sonoma Valley).  Seriously underrated by critics, this distinctive bottling by Kenwood is deep in color, with notes of cedar, black currant, dill, black cherry, and mocha.  Has considerable tannins for a wine of this age, with admirable freshness and great density.  Masculine, but with some fleshy dark fruit on the finish.  Needs air.  I've always been a fan of this one.  Great now, and will last another 5 years.  About $25.

-  July 11, 2015

Provam Varanda do Conde Vinho Verde 2013.  Made from 70% Alvarinho and 30% Trajadura, this features aromas of bright white grapefruit and river rocks.  Lemon, peach, and green apple flavors, with an easygoing and unchallenging character.  Great on a hot summer day with a seafood salad.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  July 6, 2015

Luigi Bosca Malbec Terroir Los Miradores 2012 (Uco Valley).  Extracted and inky, with scents of blackberry and charcoal, then hints of vanilla.  Dark and brooding, with a dense, powerful palate of dark plum, mocha, and some briary qualities.  Impressive!  Better in a year, and will last for about 10.  About $28.

-  July 5, 2015

Matua Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough).  Not a shy nose, showing  a bright display of gooseberry, lime zest, white grapefruit, and celery.  More like tropical fruit in the mouth (green mango, passion fruit), with a very energetic character that keeps it mouthwatering.  Always a reliable value.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  July 4, 2015

Sacha Lichine Rosé Le Poussin 2014 (Vin de France).  Smells like raspberries, but also peaches, oranges, and red apple.  Relatively simple, but does what it does well, with solid fruit and energy.  Finishes with palate-cleansing acidity and a touch of pleasant bitterness.  Made from Cinsault, Grenache, and Syrah.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  July 3, 2015

Talbott Pinot Noir Kali Hart 2013 (Monterey).  Smokey, with bacon notes, but also lots of cherry cola, cranberry, and plenty of acidity.  Medium-bodied at most.  Easy drinking, uncomplicated, and a great value.  Drink now through 2018.  About $16.

-  July 2, 2015

Saget La Perirère Rosé La Petite Perrière 2014 (Vin de France).  Very light pink, with hints of salmon.  Smells French, with notions of ripe watermelon and dried herbs.  Slightly creamy texture on the attack, then turns to pink grapefruit, strawberries, and fresh herbs, with bright acidity.  Very fresh and inviting, and in need of a hot day.  Made of Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley.  Cheap.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  June 28, 2015

Vinas del Cenit Venta Mazzaron 2005 (Zamora).  A wine that has always exhibited pronounced smoke notes continues to do so after 10 years, this also shows a brick-like color and mature aromatics of leather and mushrooms.  Still some great cherry and plum fruit, however, along with good acidity and pleasurable finish that shows some dried herb notes.  If you still have one of these, drink up. 100% Tempranillo.  About $15.

-  June 24, 2015

Perseval-Farge Brut Champagne Premier Cru C. de Pinots Non-Vintage.  Lively and straw-colored.  Offers effusive aromas of honey, red apples, bread dough, and raspberries.  More like baked apple pie (with spices) on the palate, along with ginger and a hint of anise on the finish.  Lots of body, with moderate presence.  Drink now.  About $50.

-  June 21, 2015

Norton Privada 2015 (Mendoza).  Fantastic aromatics that include cherry liqueur, incense, and mocha.  Full-bodied, dense, and harmonious, with tons of cherry/plum fruit, but supported by fine, ripe tannins and impressive, plush texture.  Peppery, long finish.  Made from 40% Malbec, 30% Merlot, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Drink now through 2024.  About $26.

-  June 18, 2015

Maculan Pino & Toi 2013 (Veneto).  Floral and peachy, with a nicely bitter edge to the finish (like crushed herbs), this is an interesting blend of  60% Tai (aka Tocai Friulano), 25% Pinot Bianco, and 15% Pinot Grigio.  Straw notes on the nose, with moderate body and solid acidity.  Drink this before your meal to wake up your palate.  About $14.

-  June 14, 2015

Seghesio Zinfandel Cortina 2010 (Dry Creek Valley).  Port-like on the nose, with lots of black fruit, licorice, and pine notes.  Medium-bodied in the mouth, and very impressive for the detail and balance of fruit and acidity.  Great briary notes, then black pepper, finishing long.  Excellent elegant Zin.  Drink now through 2023. About $40.

-  June 13, 2015

Muga Rosado 2014 (Rioja).  Relatively pale for a rosé, and smelling like strawberries, parsley, and potatoes.  Focused and clean, with notions of peach, red berries, lemon and capers.  You're not going to like this if you're not into bright acidity.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  June 7, 2015

Montebro Crianza 2010 (Priorat).  Very Priorat in aroma, with notions of crushed rocks, cigar smoke, and black cherry.  Bright in acidity and not powerful, but is a very good beginner Priorat that's balanced and focused.  Made from 50% Grenache, 30% Carignan, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Drink now through 2018.  About $16.

-  June 2, 2015

Varnier Fanniere Champagne Brut Grand Cru Non-Vintage. This version was disgorged in May 2013, and has a very lively bead in the glass with a pretty straw color.  Offers a nose of very fresh white bread dough, plus red apple, lemons, and raspberries.  The attack is fantastic, with lots of fruit, amazing intensity, and great acidity, finishing long, with more red red apples, plus subtle spices, limestone, and almonds.  Outstanding.  A Terry Theise selection.  Great now, but this will last a few years.  About $60.

-  May 10, 2015

Nita 2009 (Priorat).  A touch rusty in color, with a bit of an earthy quality on the nose, but the palate has plenty of blueberry and blackberry notes.  Shows very good purity as well as a excellent sense of place, with that characteristic combination of detailed fruit but also slate, licorice, and mocha.  Finishes strong, with impressive presence.  An outstanding value for this appellation.  Ready now, but will last another four to six years.  About $25.

-  May 9, 2015

Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough).  Generous aromas of ripe pomelo, green guava, freshly mown lawn, and limes.  Very zesty and bright, with good intensity and mouthwatering acidity.  A step above your average New Zealand Sauv Blanc.  Bring on the grilled veggies.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  May 5, 2015

Juan Gil Monastrell 2012 (Jumilla).  Dark, inky nose with lots of smoke and black licorice, but the palate features brighter ripe red fruits (plus more smoke and spices).  Extracted, but balanced and moderately intense, finishing with a pleasantly bitter edge.  Well-made.  Drink now through 2019.  About $14.

-  May 4, 2015

Robert Craig Affinity 2010 (Napa Valley).  An impressive blend made from mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, plus small amounts of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.  Dense, beautiful nose of cassis and black cherry, along with hints of vanilla and milk chocolate.  Full-bodied and harmonious, with deep fruit and ripe tannins that verge on muscular.  Outstanding now, though this will easily last for another 8 years.  About $50.

-  May 3, 2015

Domaine Houchart Rosé 2014 (Côtes de Provence).  On the pale side of rosé in color.  More herbal than previous years, but there's still solid strawberry and watermelon flavors, with pleasurable acidity and focus.  Take this bottle on a picnic.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  May 2, 2015

Boutari Moschofilero 2013 (Mantinia).  Very crisp and easy to enjoy, this offers notions of green pear, tart citrus, flowers, white peaches, and lemongrass.  Very zippy and fresh.  Drink this easygoing white sometime this summer.  About $13.

-  April 29, 2015

Mayu Pedro Ximenez 2013 (Elqui Valley).  This is a fairly unusual, small production wine from Chile, made from 100% Pedro Ximenez vines (a grape that is mostly known for being in Sherry), grown at high altitudes.  Smells like marcona almonds, limes, and latex gloves.  Has crackling acidity to support the white peach, sea salt, and white mushroom notes.  Nice minerality, and a clean finish.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  April 27, 2015

Two Hands Shiraz Bella's Garden 2005 (Barossa Valley).  Featuring a dense purple color, this gives up no hint that it's a ten year old wine, with plenty of freshness to the super-ripe fruit (blueberry/blackberry), vanilla, milk chocolate, and coffee notes.  Full-bodied and rich, but not tiring or overdone, with excellent depth and long in finish.  If this doesn't make the year's top 10 list, it will be a shock.  This is delicious now, but will certainly hold for another 5 years.  About $70.

-  April 26, 2015

Tintonegro Malbec 2012 (Uco Valley).  Made from grapes grown at 4,000 foot elevation, this is a steal for a Malbec of this exuberance, showing generous notes of blueberry, blackberry, smoke, dark plum, and coffee.  Full-bodied and well-balanced, with good length for the price.  Made for early drinking.  About $12.

-  April 25, 2015

Leyda Pinot Noir 2012 (Leyda Valley).  Pretty garnet color.  Suggestive of tobacco leaf, cola, and tea on the nose.  Very good density of flavor here, with focused dark and brighter fruits (cranberry), finishing with real definition and nice uplift.  Excellent value.  Drink now through 2018.  About $13.

-  April 20, 2015

Bodegas Volver Tarima Hill 2011 (La Mancha).  Very Monastrell, with its dark, brooding character, but also seems more approachable than the 2009 or 2010.  Full-bodied, with more red fruit and brightness than its predecessors, plus chocolate, smoke, and licorice.  Dense.  Still an amazing value.  Begs for meat.  Drink now through 2019.

-  April 19, 2015

Pierre Paillard Brut Champagne Grand Cru Non-Vintage.  Made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from a Grand Cru vineyard in Bouzy, this shows really beautiful, enticing scents of white flowers, rambutan, and fresh bread dough.  Excellent persistence to the red berry, ginger, red apple, and candied orange rind flavors.  Gorgeous wine, and easily a candidate for the year's top 10 list.  Spends three and a half years on the lees.  This bottle was disgorged in late 2012, so if you have one, best to drink soon, it's at its peak.  About $50.

-  April 17, 2015

Aveleda Touriga Nacional Follies 2010 (Beiras).  Darkly scented, like ink and blackberries, plus some smoke. Full-bodied, with notable tannins and density, this is a bit unforgiving and tight initially, but given some air and food, it reveals itself with solid fruit and espresso notes.  Drink this inexpensive red within a few years.  About $12.

-  April 15, 2015

Neyers Syrah Old Lakeville Road 2010 (Sonoma Coast).  Lots of smoke and bacon fat notes, plus cassis, blue ball point pen, iodine, and blackberry.  Medium-bodied, dense in flavor, and impressive intensity.  Lasting, structured finish that includes spent tea leaves, anise, and cocoa powder.  Drink now through 2021.  About $25.

-  April 12, 2015

Cal Blanca 2011 (Toro).  Made from 100% Tempranillo and aged 6 months in French oak, this exhibits a smoke, charcoal, blueberry, and dark licorice dominated nose, followed by a palate that's well-balanced with blackberry and toasted oak notes. Solid tannins, but this is better off consumed between now and 2019.  Fantastic value.  About $15.

-  April 10, 2015

Chateau Montrose 2001 (Saint-Estèphe).  From a somewhat overlooked vintage comes this youthful looking, medium-bodied Saint-Estèphe. Offers notions of new leather, raw beef, campfire, graphite, prune, and black licorice.  With serious structure, length, and focus, this is not going to please everyone, but will make old school Bordeaux fans happy.  Drink now through 2025.  About $150.

-  April 6, 2015

Tikal Patriota 2012 (Mendoza).  Made from 60% Malbec and 40% Bonarda.  The feral qualities of the Bonarda show here, with notions of a hike in the forest, plus ripe red bell pepper, black cherries, flowers, fresh coffee, and bacon.  Medium to full-bodied, with decent structure, but also made in a modern style, bordering on plush.  Drink now through 2019.  About $20.

-  April 5, 2015

Calma Rioja 2010.  Fresh, inviting nose that includes boysenberry, dark spices, and hints of earth.  Medium-bodied, with admirable density and good energy, showing dark cherry and mocha notes.  Slightly leathery finish.  Made from 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano.  Drink now through 2018.  About $16.

-  April 4, 2015

Talley Vineyards Chardonnay Bishop's Peak 2013 (San Luis Obisbo County).  Very clear, with a hint of green, showing scents of freshly mown grass, Camembert cheese, and lime juice.  With zippy acidity and lots of green apple/citrus notes, this has modest proportions and a crisp character for early drinking.  About $15.

-  April 3, 2015

Charles Smith Syrah Boom Boom! 2013 (Columbia Valley).  A fantastic value, this offers a generous nose of wild berries, herbs, flowers, and vanilla.  Delicious, with relatively soft texture, but supportive acidity, having flavors of black pepper, blackberries, subtle smoke, and crème brulee.  Really easy to like.  Drink now through 2019.  About $15.

-  April 2, 2015

Masi Campofiorin 2010 (Veronese).  Very expressive nose, featuring licorice, cherry, oregano, and cola notes.  Good texture, with noticeable acidity, like an Asian pear, but with dark flavors of bitter chocolate and espresso.  Medium-bodied, and lacking some mid-palate volume, but is still worth recommending.  Drink now through 2018.  About $15.

-  March 27, 2015

Tommasi Poggio Al Tufo Rompicollo 2012 (Toscana).  A bit shy on the nose, but there are lots of freshly brewed coffee notes on the palate, along with bright cherry, green tobacco, and cola flavors.  Very approachable, finishing with some notable, welcome acidity.  Drink now through 2018.  About $17.

-  March 23, 2015

Banshee Rosé 2015 (Sonoma County).  Made from 100% Pinot Noir, this is a pale rosé, offering a fresh, vibrant nose of herbs, citrus, raspberries, and strawberries.  Good depth, fruit, and energy on the palate, ending almost juicy.  Nicely done.  Drink now.  About $16.

-  March 22, 2015

Gran Passione Rosso 2013 (Veneto).  Smells juicy, but also a bit medicinal.  Plenty of cherry notes here, plus new leather, cigar tobacco, and licorice.  Medium to full-bodied, ending with good acidity.  Made using the apassimento method.  A bargain.  Drink now through 2018.  About $12.

-  March 21, 2015

Terra Noble Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva 2011 (Colchagua Valley).  Very Cabernet , with an effusive nose of cassis, blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, and hints of spice.  Great balance and structure, and while not especially voluminous or long, has real harmony and character, and a reasonable price.  Drink now through 2019.  About $16.

-  March 20, 2015

Gruet Blanc de Noirs Non-Vintage (New Mexico).  Golden in color, and offering scents/flavors of ripe red apples, orange preserves, ginger, toffee, and red grapefruit.  Great energy and presence, with an impressive finish for the price.  An astonishing value in a domestic bubbly, and one that's extremely consistent.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  March 16, 2015

Charles Smith Cabernet Sauvignon Chateau Smith 2012 (Columbia Valley).  Hints of cedar and blackberries on the nose.  Medium-bodied, with good density to the dark plum and cassis flavors.  Relatively restrained, but is nicely balanced, and ends with an energetic but dark flourish.  A solid value.  About $20.

-  March 15, 2015

Loft Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (North Coast).  Very clear in the glass, this is an great varietally correct value presented in a bag-in-a-box format.  Zippy lime, grass, fresh herb, and green apple notes that are surprisingly tasty and vibrant for wine that works out to less than $6 a bottle.  Uncomplicated, but great for summer sipping.  Drink now.  About $23 per 3 liter box.

-  March 14, 2015

Herdade do Esporão Dua Castas 2010 (Alentejano).  Made from Gouveio and Verdelho, this exhibits a golden yellow color, with aromas of Vaseline, sage, and pear.  Good acidity and focus, with a savory, moderately expressive palate of pickled ginger, tangerine, and fennel.  Interesting.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  March 8, 2015

Numanthia-Termes Termes 2011 (Toro).  A bit shy on the nose, with hints of anise, but exhibits fantastic density of flavor, with notions of smoke, very dark ripe fruit (wild berries mostly) and espresso. Excellent presence, with medium to full body, and some notable structure.  Not a cheap wine, but delivers impressive focus for the price.  Drink now through 2013.  About $26.

-  March 6, 2015

Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 40th Anniversary 2012 (Napa Valley).  Opaque deep ruby, with a rich nose of cassis, dark cherry, licorice, and subtle smoke.  Full-bodied and dripping with fruit.  Gorgeous, opulent texture.  Extravagantly rich, with more cherry and cassis, but balanced and long.  Fantastic right now, but with so much stuffing, this will easily last for another 15 or more years.  Don't miss this.  About $65.

-  February 29, 2015

Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Tres Picos 2012 (Campo de Borja).  With fantastic depth, this screams Grenache, with tons of cherry liqueur, smoke, and blueberry flavors.  Voluptuous texture, great purity, and nicely matched acidity (but not a lot of tannin).  A steal.  Drink now through 2019.  About $16.

-  February 28, 2015

Bodegas Ordoñez Nisia Old Vines 2013 (Rueda).  Made from 100% Verdejo, this offers expressive notes of lemon bar, melon, pear, and oranges.  Medium body, with good richness, but also not heavy, with a bright finish.  Tasty!  Drink now.  About $15.

-  February 22, 2015

Alto Moncayo Veraton 2012 (Campo de Borja).  Made from 100% Garnacha and weighing in at 15.5% alcohol, this is a stunner of a wine, displaying a fantastic perfume of black plums, incense, summer flowers, crushed blackberries, and licorice.  Full-bodied, with excellent purity and focus, it coats the palate with dark fruit, mocha, and anise notes.  Delicious, and modern in style.  Drink now through 2025.  About $28.

-  February 21, 2015

Domenico Clerico Barbera d'Alba Trevigne 2012.  On the blue spectrum of red in color.  Shows really good depth and harmony, with a dark profile of charred wood, forest, wild berry, smoke, and leather.  With solid acidity and ripe tannins, this is great with pasta Bolognese.  Drink now through 2019.  About $25.

-  February 16, 2015

Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2001 (Toscana).  Made from 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Sangiovese, this is a well-made blend featuring very good balance to the ripe dark fruit and brighter tart notes.  Hints of smoke and coffee.  Approachable, with nice proportions.  Drink now through 2019.  About $20.

-  February 15, 2015

Tohu Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough).  Very tropical in character, with lots of guava, passion fruit, mango, and red grapefruit notes.  Juicy, with good texture, but stays grounded with herbal/grassy undertones and solid acidity.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  February 10, 2015

Bodegas Ordoñez Zerran 2012 (Montsant).  Youthful and exuberant, with notions of squashed purple grapes, smoke, chorizo, plums, coffee, and both red and black licorice.  Shows zesty acidity.  Doesn't come off as strong as the 2011, but is still worthwhile.  Made from 50% Garnacha, 40% Mazuelo, and 10% Syrah.  About $15.

-  February 8, 2015

Paul Jourdan Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Papale 2009.  The nose is reminiscent of incense and licorice, with the palate being similarly dark.  Takes a lot of time to reveal its charms.  A day later, this offers characteristic dark cherry and seaweed notes, with good depth.  Makes you pay attention.  Decant!  Drink now through 2020. About $36.

-  February 4, 2015

Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir 2012 (Russian River Valley).  Aromas of bright cherry, cola, incense, and Tootsie Roll, with a beautiful texture and lots of flavor.  Exhibits excellent purity and great presence on the palate.  Not super-long in finish, but is otherwise a real beauty.  Drink now through 2020.  About $50.

-  February 2, 2015

Gil Family Estates BlueGray 2011 (Priorat).  Made from 45% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo, and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, this offers scents of smoke, spices, and licorice.  Classically Priorat, with lots of slate, dark cherry, anise, and burning ember notes.  With solid acidity and modest structure, this is a good example of a value Priorat.  Drink now through 2019.  About $20.

-  January 31, 2015

St. Supéry Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Edition 2005 (Rutherford).  Tight nose, hinting at coffee, violets, and cassis.  Dark, briary fruit in the mouth, with notions of tobacco and loam.  Silky, beautiful texture, with no hard edges.  Finishes a bit short, but is definitely well-made.  Drink now through 2018.  About $30.

-  January 29, 2015

Bodegas Shaya Shaya 2012 (Rueda).  Made from 100% Verdejo, this has a nose reminiscent of white peaches, minerals/slate, and honeysuckle.  More honey on the palate, along with green herbs and red apples.  Moderately full in body, with excellent balance and admirable length, this is a very good value.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  January 16, 2015

Calista Pinot Noir The Coast Range 2012 (Sonoma, Mendocino, Monterey).  Really interesting nose, suggestive of brown sugar, dark spices, cherry, and green tobacco.  Peppery attack, with good richness and body, lingering with lots of dark berry flavors, dried herbs, and mocha.  Keeps your interest, with welcome complexity and presence for the price.  Drink now through 2021.  About $20.

-  January 10, 2015

Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Napa Valley).  Cloves, mint, eucalyptus, bright berry, and tobacco aromas.  Medium-bodied, kind of green and hesitant on the attack, but then builds to reveal great focused red/black fruit.  A satisfying and elegant finish that forces a smile.  Not as rich or complete as usual for this producer (a result of the vintage), but still shows the outstanding quality of the source.  Great now, but will last for 10 years.  About $50.

-  January 7, 2015

Locations F-2 (France).  Dusty nose initially, then dark spices, tobacco, and mint.  Ripe and lithe in the mouth, featuring flavors of cassis, blueberry, mocha, and licorice.  Medium-bodied, with cranberry notes on the finish.  Very good, though doesn't seem as well-rounded as last year's version.  Drink now through 2018.  About $17.

-  January 5, 2015

Bodegas Atalaya Laya Old Vines 2013 (Almansa).  Made from 70% Garnacha Tinorera and 30% Monastrell, this is dark in color as well as aroma, reminiscent of ink, smoldering fire, pine needles, iodine, and black licorice.  Dark fruit in the mouth, with good focus and energy, this is a very well-made, high-value bottling.  Drink now through 2019.  About $10.

-  January 4, 2015

Tenuta delle Terre Nere 2012 (Etna Rosso).  Dark garnet, with a touch of rust in color.  The nose is dense and floral at the same time, with notions of crushed rocks, pine needles, cherries, iron, and fall leaves.  More cherry on the palate, plus red plums and subtle dried herb notes.  Really interesting.  An astonishing value, this finishes long and intriguing.  Drink now through 2021.  About $18.

-  January 1, 2015

David recommended lots of wine in 2014, but the year will be remembered most notably because of the quality of Champagnes that flowed into our flutes.  Something about this year's batches of bubbly really stood out from the rest of the world's wines, and they dominate the list by far.  For value, one shouldn't miss the Portuguese red added as an honorable mention.

#1  -  Moët & Chandon Brut Champagne Dom Perignon 2000

#2  -  Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Tradition Grand Cru Non-Vintage

#3  -  Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard 2008 (Napa Valley)

#4  -  Jean Lallement Champagne Brut Tradition Non-vintage

#5  -  Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne Non-vintage

#6  -  Guy Larmandier Brut Champagne Blanc de Blancs Cramant Grand Cru Non-vintage

#7  -  Le Mesnil Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Non-Vintage

#8  -  Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2009 (Napa Valley)

#9  -  Larmandier-Bernier Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Longitude Non-vintage

#10  -  Mitolo Shiraz G.A.M. 2004 (McLaren Vale)

Honorable mentions:

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2007 (North Coast)

Crasto Superior 2011 (Douro)


-  December 31, 2014

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2007 (North Coast).  Very expressive, with loads of brioche dough on the nose, along with almonds, flowers, and ripe lemons.  Lively, with great intensity and focus, lingering with notions of pear and more citrus.  Impressive showing.  Excellent now, but will be fine for a few more years.  About $32.

-  December 27, 2014

Raats Chenin Blanc Origninal 2012 (Coastal Region).  Reminiscent of river rocks on the nose, plus stone fruits (mostly white peach), limes, and orange rind.  Dry, food friendly, with great acidity.  Sees no oak.  Try with a hearty salad.  Drink now through 2016.  About $11.

-  December 26, 2014

Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2010.  This is the real thing when it comes to Chianti Classico, showing great fragrance and purity to the tart cherry fruit, plus overall harmony.  Leather, tobacco, and dark coffee notes, with good presence and density.  Nice touch of bitterness on the finish.  Not a forward, international style.  Needs air.  Drink now through 2023.  About $30.

-  December 25, 2014

Mussel Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough).  Very New Zealand, with classic aromas and flavors of red grapefruit, fresh cut grass, limes, mango, and fresh herbs.  Vibrant, zesty, and thirst quenching, this begs for a warm summer day and a seafood salad.  Drink now through 2016.  About $10.

-  December 24, 2014

Domaine Chandon Etoile Rosé Non-Vintage (North Coast).  Bright tangerine/pink color, with a nose of cranberries and flowers.  Not super-lively in bubbles, but has a rich mid-palate of red fruit, and ends with some spiciness and great acidity.  Made from 49% Chardonay, 45% Pinot Noir, and 6% Pinot Meunier.  Drink now through 2017.  About $28.

-  December 22, 2014

Erath Pinot Gris 2013 (Oregon).  Mostly white peach on the nose, plus some tropical fruit and freshly cut herbs.  Great texture, admirable purity and some richness, offering more peaches in the mouth, this is a solid value example of this variety, staying balanced and vibrant.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  December 21, 2014

Yalumba Viognier Y Series 2013 (South Australia).  Petroleum on the nose initially, then mango, honeysuckle, and lime.  Lychee, orange marmalade, and a hint of mint in the mouth.  Almost full-bodied, with supportive acidity, this pairs well with richer foods.  Not an aperitif wine.  Drink now through 2017.  About $12.

-  December 20, 2014

Gloria Ferrer Va de Vi Ultra Cuvee Non-Vintage (Sonoma County).  Yellow in color, with scents of lemon curd, fennel seeds, oil, and mushrooms.  Nice texture, showing tangerine and braeburn apple flavors, with a slightly compressed finish that shows a hint of sugar.  Not a contemplative bubbly, but it stays balanced and is easy to enjoy.  Drink now.  About $20.

-  December 16, 2014

Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon Cold Creek Vineyard 2011 (Columbia Valley).  Really enjoyable flavors of red plums and cherry here, plus notions of tobacco, mocha, smoke, cola, and vanilla.  Beautiful texture, this is bright and not super-ripe.  With submerged tannins, it's the acidity that keeps this lively, fresh, and long.  Clearly well-made, this is excellent now, but will last for another 5-6 years.  About $28.

-  December 14, 2014

Avelada Branco 2012 (Douro).  Zesty key lime qualities, plus notions of pear, crushed herbs, and tropical fruit.  Nice acidity, with a moderate finish, this is easy to enjoy, ending with a mineral note.  Cheap!  Drink now.  About $9.

-  December 13, 2014

Grut Blanc de Blancs 25th Anniversary Non-Vintage (New Mexico).  Lighter in color and flavor than both the regular brut and blanc de noirs by this producer, with notions of Meyer lemon and green pear.  Shows good focus and energy.  Very refreshing.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  December 4, 2014

Franck Massard Humilitat 2009 (Priorat).  Smoke, burning ember, and smoldering dried herbs (sage/thyme) on the nose.  Dark cherry fruit, rocky mid-palate.  Structured and dense, ending with a strong licorice note.  Made from half Carinena and and half Garnacha.  Drink now through 2019.  About $30.

-  December 1, 2014

Mitolo Shiraz G.A.M. 2004 (McLaren Vale).  Opaque purple/red to the rim, this shows no signs of slowing down at 10 years of age.  Fantastic purity, with scents and flavors of deep blackberry, blueberry, vanilla, smoke, charcoal, licorice, and coffee.  Flat out rich, but also stays refined.  Very full-bodied, creamy palate, with a long, satisfying finish.  Not at all heavy or tiring.  Outstanding, with a long life ahead.  Drink now through 2025.  About $55.

-  November 30, 2014

Herdade do Esporao Vinha da Defesa Branco 2010 (Alentejano).  Golden light straw color, with herbal scents of basil/parsley, plus notions of cream, gasoline, and pear.  Surprising amount of body, this isn't delicate, having flavors of almond, fresh herbs, bitter citrus, and apple.  Really interesting, with nice acidity.  Made from 35% Antao Vaz, 35% Arinto, and 30% Roupeiro.  Drink now through 2016.  About $12.

-  November 24, 2014

Cuvelier Los Andes Collección 2010 (Mendoza).  A modern-style blend of 57% Malbec, 20% Merlot, 11% Syrah, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Petit Verdot, this offers a dark nose of burning ember, boysenberry, and coffee.  Dense and moderately powerful, with lots of black fruit, toasted oak, and tobacco notes.  Well-made, with integrated tannin and acidity.  Great value here.  Drink now through 2018.  About $18.

-  November 23, 2014

Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon H3 2012 (Horse Heaven Hills).   Impressive density of flavor here, with concentrated dark plum, mocha, black pepper, blackberry, and dairy notes.  Focused, with acidity for structure, ending with a touch of smoke and pleasant bitterness.  Excellent value.  Drink now through 2018.  About $15.

-  November 22, 2014

Bouchard Ainé & Fils Bourgogne 2012.  Rusty garnet color.  Like dark mushrooms and forest floor on the nose, plus bright cherries.  The palate exhibits notions of tobacco, leather, and elk jerky.  Fresh, with good acidity.  Solid, entry-level red Burgundy.  Drink now through 2017.  About $15.

-  November 17, 2014

Los Vascos Carmenere Grande Reserve 2012 (Colchagua Valley).  Deep color.  Blackberries and cherries on the nose, plus leather, smoke, and undergrowth notes.  Good depth here (especially with aeration), with solid fruit and notable acidity.  Old world in style.  Made for early drinking, but will last for a few years.  About $11.

-  November 16, 2014

Travaglini Gattinara 2008.  Rusty brown color, with scents of dust, black cherry, tar, cocoa powder, and roses.  Medium-bodied, with good acidity and focus.  Not Barolo, but is very Nebbiolo in profile.  Drink now through 2019.  About $32.

-  November 7, 2014

Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard 2008 (Napa Valley).  Rich nose, with abundant coffee, briary fruit, and smoke notes.  More coffee on the palate, along with loads of dark chocolate, cassis, black plum, and ink flavors.  Killer, mouth-coating texture, with a 40+ second finish.  Seamless and undeniably outstanding.  A conversation stopper.  With air, the attack really blossoms.  Will be better in 2-3 years, and will easily last for 15 or more years.  About $90.

-  November 6, 2014

Masciarelli Rosé Villa Gemma 2013 (Cerasuolo D'Abruzzo).  Electric pink color that looks more like a really light red wine, with fun raspberry/cherry/citrus qualities, with supportive acidity.  Reminds me of an easygoing, ripe, enjoyable Beaujolais.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  November 5, 2014

Bodegas y Vinedos Fernandez Rivera Dehesa La Granja 2006 (Castilla y Leon).  Unfiltered, made from 100% Tempranillo, and spends 2 years in new American oak, this presents with a floral nose that also includes bright cherry and ink.  Fresh, elegant, with plenty of cherry fruit flavors and a medicinal/cough syrup note (in a good way).  The 15% alcohol is unnoticeable.  Very enjoyable and expressive.  Drink now through 2018.  About $18.

-  November 4, 2014

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Knights Valley).  Plump and forward, with black cherry, pure cassis, and mocha notes.  Medium-bodied, with nice length and balance.  Not quite as strong as most years, but is a very good example of Cabernet for early drinking.  About $24.

-  November 3, 2014

Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rosé Non-Vintage.  Nicely done, with pure, delicate strawberry/raspberry notes, with fine acidity, very good balance, and hints of chalk.  Some orange rind flavors on the finish.  Made from 100% Pinot Noir.  Drink now.  About $16.

-  November 2, 2014

Cristia Cotes du Rhone Vieilles Vignes Les Garrigues 2012.  Like cherry liqueur on the nose, and tastes like a hedonistic bowl of crushed raspberry/cherry fruit with hints of melted chocolate, bacon, iodine and smoke.  Plush texture.  Delicious.  Made from 100% old vine Grenache, this doesn't have tons of structure, but will be a crowd-pleaser for another four years.  15% alcohol.  About $18.

-  November 1, 2014

Bodegas Caro Amancaya Gran Reserva 2011 (Mendoza).  Made from 70% Malbec and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, with 15% alcohol, this is dark aromatically, with notions of graphite, smoke, vanilla, and violets.  Extracted, with lots of oak, but there also great acidity and fruit (boysenberry, cola).  Ends with some creamy notes.  Drink now through 2018.  About $18.

-  October 31, 2014

Clos Saint Jean Chateâuneuf du Pape Vielles Vignes 2010.  Unfiltered.  Closed right now on the nose, but the palate is dense, youthful, and gutsy.  Notions of burning ember, seaweed, cherry liqueur, anise, and blackberry.  Masculine and intense.  Don't drink this now -- wait at least 3 years.  Will last for 15 or more years.  About $55.

-  October 30, 2014

Castelo della Sala Bramito del Cervo 2013 (Umbria).  Made by the Antinori group, this exhibits excellent purity and focus, with notes of green apple, lemon balm, and orange rind.  Great, mouthwatering acidity and outstanding purity.  Not a all heavy.  Elegant and very enjoyable .  Drink now through 2017.  About $20.

-  October 29, 2014

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs Non-Vintage (Carneros).  Pretty apricot color.  Aromas of red flowers and raspberries, with expert balance to the citrus and red fruit flavors, showing bright acidity.  Not a much nuance here, but its exuberance makes up for it.  Drink now.  About $16.

-  October 28, 2014

Domaine de la Louvetrie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2012.  Made from organic grapes, this is very clean and fresh, with pure minerals on the nose.  The palate is almost juicy, with notions of ripe pear, melons, and tangerine.  Zippy and inviting, this is one of the best bottles of Muscadet this year.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  October 27, 2014

Crasto Superior 2011 (Douro).  Inky dark purple color, with scents of coffee, meat, and flowers.  Very well-balanced and long, this is dark and focused, with deep black fruit, licorice, smoke, and leather notes.  Needs air, so pour this one and set it aside for at least two hours.  Impressive value from a great vintage in the Douro.  Ready now, but will be better in a year or two, and will last for 15 years.  About $23.

-  October 26, 2014

Edmeades Zinfandel 2012 (Mendocino County).  Dusty aromatics initially, turning to ripe plums, cherry, and dark spice.  Plump and juicy, with lots of blue/black fruit, plus tobacco and dark chocolate.  Medium to full-bodied.  Needs more of a finish and acidity, but is otherwise nicely done.  Drink now through 2016.  About $16.

-  October 21, 2014

La Spinetta Il Rosé di Casanova 2013 (Toscana).  Pale, barely a rosé in color.  Notes of black cherry, fresh herbs, cranberry, and orange rind.  Not all that complex, but is zippy and refreshing, in the way that would pair with almost any appetizer.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  October 20, 2014

Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Sonoma County).  Bright and very aromatic, featuring scents of honey, melon, ripe citrus (blood orange?), and fresh herbs.  Medium-bodied, with lots of ripe pear, melon, lavender, and citrus notes.  Plenty of flavor here, yet manages to stay elegant.  Drink now through 2017.  About $16.

-  October 19, 2014

Indaba Chenin Blanc 2013 (Western Cape).  Very stony nose, like river rocks or limestone.  Good ripeness and fresh acidity, with flavors of white peach, flowers, lemongrass, and fresh herbs.  Nice balance for this price.  Drink now.  About $9.

-  October 17, 2014

Chateau Montrose 2002 (Saint Estephe).  From a lesser vintage in Bordeaux comes this savory, extracted effort from a classic producer.  Notes of oxidized iron, new leather, lavender, blackberry, and graphite on a medium-bodied frame.  With good intensity and presence, this appears to not have enough fruit for the long haul, so drink this sooner than later, with a juicy steak.  About $75?

-  October 14, 2014

Marchesi de Frescobaldi Chianti Rufina Nipozzano Riserva 2010.  This is a solid Chianti, with very good balance and focus to the cherry, tobacco, leather, and blueberry notes.  Has a nicely bitter edge to it.  Medium-bodied, and while not exciting, is a well-made effort.  Drink now through 2018.  About $19.

-  October 13, 2014

Gruet Brut Rosé Non-vintage (New Mexico).  Tasty, with loads of red berry flavors, plus hints of spice, red flowers, orange peel, and apples.  Bright acidity.  Finishes a bit short, but that's OK at this price.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  October 12, 2014

Ridge Geyserville 2011 (Sonoma County).  Smoke, licorice, and tobacco are evident on the nose.  Starts off slow, but then builds to reveal excellent depth, with notions of dark fruit, mocha, anise, meat, and herbs.  Lengthy, focused finish.  Not the best Geyserville, but still very good.  Made from 78% Zinfandel, 16% Carignane, 4% Petite Sirah, 1% Alicante Bouschet, and 1% Mataro.  Drink now through 2018.  About $36.

-  October 6, 2014

Tres Ojos Garnacha Old Vines 2011 (Calatayud).  Made from 40 year old vines, this is youthful and exuberant, featuring zippy cherry and plum fruit, with lots of peppery spice and leather.  Medium-bodied, this could use more of a finish, but make sure you look at the price before judging too much.  Drink now through 2016.  About $9.

-  October 5, 2014

Larmandier-Bernier Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Longitude Non-vintage.  Clear and straw-colored, with a lively bead, this offers a fantastic array of aromas that includes rye bread, red apples, fall spices, and blood orange.  Baked apple notes on the palate, plus lemon curd and roasted nuts.  Excellent texture and length.  From premier cru vineyards.  Great now, but will continue to improve for a year or two.  About $65.

-  October 4, 2014

Columbia Crest Gold Limited Edition 2012 (Columbia Valley).  A combination of ripe red bell pepper, dark berries, and toasty oak are evident on this relatively small, unique bottling from the giant Columbia Crest production.  Word is that this is made from their best barrels of Cabernet Franc.  Exhibiting great balance, nice fruit and texture, this is an outstanding value for near-term drinking.  About $10.

-  September 22, 2014

Domaine Pontifical Châteauneuf du Pape 2010.  Lots of ripe cherry notes on the nose, plus dried herb, seaweed, plums, freshly brewed coffee, and camp smoke.  Fleshy start, with good density, showing iron, black fruit, graphite, and black pepper notes.  Drink now through 2020.  About $40.

-  September 20, 2014

Adega de Borba Montes Claros White 2011 (Alentejo).  Very fresh and herbal (chive/basil), and nicely balanced, this is an excellent pairing with whatever shellfish you're about to eat.  Bright, with a mineral finish.  Made from 30% Antão Vaz, 30% Arinto, 30% Roupeiro, and 10% Alvarinho.  Drink now.

-  September 11, 2014

Schramsberg Brut Rosé Mirabelle Non-vintage (North Coast).  Copper/peach in color, with very appealing scents of strawberries, yellow plums, apple, orange rind, and bread dough.  Lots of wheat biscuit notes in the mouth to go with the fresh/vibrant berry notes.  Fantastic length, value, and verve.  Drink now through 2017.  About $24.

-  September 10, 2014

Casey Flat Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Capay Valley).  From 2,000 foot elevation vineyards comes this well-made white from a less than common appellation.  Notions of honeysuckle, melon, grass, meyer lemon, and slate.  Really nicely balanced, with great acidity, pleasing texture, and moderate length.  Drink now.  About $18.

-  September 7, 2014

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2009 (Napa Valley).  Once again, Beringer's top-of-the-line Cabernet shows its pedigree, coming from five of their best of their vineyard holdings.  The wine exhibits phenomenal purity, excellent presence, and a gorgeous, silky texture.  Notes of cassis, black cherry, mint, burning ember, and coffee.  Simply outstanding, with impeccable balance and great length.  Spends 17 months in French oak.  Delicious now, but will last for another 10 years.  About $120.

-  September 6, 2014

DFJ Vinhos Portada Winemaker's Selection 2011 (Lisboa).  Here at davidjohnhansen.com, we're trying to taste more Portuguese wines, and in that effort comes this pleasing, light-bodied, crisp white from vineyards near Lisbon.  Straw-colored, with notes of lemons, minerals, petroleum, and limes.  Nice texture.  Great with oysters.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  September 3, 2014

Domaine Dyckerhoff Reuilly 2012.  Very clear.  Some funk/cottage cheese initially, but that burns off to reveal scents of freshly mown lawn, minerals, white grapefruit, and limes.  Very refreshing and bright, this makes for effortless sipping.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  September 2, 2014

Ceretto Barbaresco Asij 2006.  Not dark in color, ruby with a hint of brown.  Classic Nebbiolo notes of cherry, road tar, dark tobacco, and iron.  Mid-weight, with an approachable texture, this is easy to like, and is a good value for the appellation.  Drink this while your hefty, structured Barolos are aging.  Drink now through 2017.  About $45.

-  September 1, 2014

Bodegas Volver Tempranillo Paso A Paso 2012 (Castilla).  Youthful, grapey, and exuberant, with easy cherry flavors and approachable texture.  Fleshy, and ripe, this is made for immediate consumption.  About $10.

-  August 31, 2014

Finca Villacreces Pruno 2010 (Ribera del Duero).  Dark nose, showing scorched earth and licorice qualities.  Dense in the mouth, with excellent intensity, great length and structure.  Smoke, dark cherry, plum, and mocha notes.  This needs lots of air if you're going to drink it now, or wait a couple of years, and will last another 10.  About $18.

-  August 30, 2014

Jean Lallement Champagne Brut Tradition Non-vintage.  From Grand Cru vineyards in the Montagne de Reims comes this outstanding blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonanay.  Seductively perfumed and complex nose of honey, caramel, spices, ginger, mushrooms, and butterscotch.  Exotic in the mouth, with almost bold flavor, featuring candied orange, apple, oyster shell, and brioche notes.  Lively acidity, outstanding balance and length.  Compelling.  Disgorged in May 2013.  Drink now through 2018.  About $50.

-  August 28, 2014

Locations E-2 (Spain).  This is the second version of Dave Phinney's value Spanish blend of grape varieties and appellations, and though it doesn't seem as intense as the last version, it does show excellent purity, with loads of blueberry, seaweed, and smoke scents.  Rich, plush texture showing flavors of coffee grounds, cherry, and blueberry fruits. Full-bodied, dense, but without a ton of tannin, so this should be consumed within the next couple of years.  About $17.

-  August 25, 2014

Guy Larmandier Brut Champagne Blanc de Blancs Cramant Grand Cru Non-vintage.  Really jumps out of the glass with scents of lemon curd, yeasty bread dough, and hard candies.  Refined and intense at the same time, with fantastic acidity and gorgeous length that is reminiscent of red berries and white grapefruit. Outstanding.  Drink now through 2016. 

-  August 24, 2014

Stéphane et Vincent Perraud Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie Sélection des Cognettes 2012.  Yellow, with tons of minerals and salt air on the nose, then some white grapefruit notes.  Zippy, like a fresh lemon sorbet, finishing with a little bit of richness.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  August 23, 2014

Bodegas Tarón Rosado Rioja 2013.  Made from 50% Viura and 50% Garnacha, this is watermelon colored, with notions of that fruit on the nose, plus flowers, celery, and raspberries.  Refreshing, herbal, and clean, finishing with a slightly bitter (but pleasant) note.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  August 22, 2014

Marques de Caceres Verdejo 2013 (Rueda).  A hint of green to the color.  Notes of white peach, fresh parsley/basil, apple, and minerals.  Easygoing texture and excellent freshness, finishing with a hint of almond.  Bright!  Drink now.  About $10.

-  August 21, 2014

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne Non-vintage.  The color is a cross between bright watermelon and a shiny copper penny.  Mostly raspberries on the nose, along with notions of yeast, honey, peaches, toast, and flowers.  Extremely elegant and pretty, fantastic precision and focus.  Lots of fruit (currants/raspberries), but is balanced by fresh acidity and a lithe texture.  Chalk on the long finish.  Excellent.  Drink now.  About $65.

-  August 12, 2014

Saint Peyre Picpoul de Pinet 2013 (Coteaux du Languedoc).  Very clear with a hint of green to the light yellow, and offering scents of lime zest, white flowers, onion skin.  Zippy palate showing mostly citrus and pear notes that are very approachable.  A bargain for summer sipping.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  August 4, 2014

Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2012.  Energetic nose of lemon rind and white flowers.  Crackling acidity, with oyster shell flavors and hints of apple.  Shows some real character, plus a lively finish.  Very enjoyable.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  August 3, 2014

Domaine Lafage Côte Est 2012 (Côtes Catalanes).  Aromas of lemongrass, fresh herbs, and lime zest, this has excellent acidity and freshness. The palate exhibits ripe melon, orange peel, and braeburn apple notes, with moderate length.  Made from 50% Grenache Blanc, 30% Chardonnay, and 20% Marsanne.  Outstanding value.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  August 2, 2014

Castello D'Alba Branco 2013 (Douro Superior).  Very fresh and zippy, with subtle notes of apricot, salty sea air, green apples, and limestone.  Very enjoyable with shellfish.  Made from Codega do Larinho, Rabigato, and Viosinho grapes.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  July 30, 2014

Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva 2011 (Mendoza).  There's a slight dusty/briary edge to the nose, but mostly it's about boysenberry fruit, charcoal, and some dark tobacco.  Ripe fruit in the mouth, with plenty of toasty oak and mocha notes.  Relatively soft and modern in style, but shows very good balance for near-term drinking.  About $16.

-  July 28, 2014

Charles & Charles Rosé 2013 (Columbia Valley).  An overt and fruity style of rosé, with tons of cherry and raspberry flavors that are easy and welcoming.  Holds together with just enough adicity.  Made from 86% Syrah, 6% Cinsault, 4% Grenache, 2% Counoise, and 2% Mourvedre.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  July 27, 2014

Domain Laroche Chablis Saint Martin 2010.  Excellent value Chablis, with notions of green pear, honeysuckle, and limes on the nose.  The palate features a surprising blend of wet stone and tropical fruit (guava, mango), finishing lively and persistent.  Drink now through 2016.  About $20.

-  July 26, 2014

Château Pesquié Rosé 2013 (Ventoux).  Made from 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 10% Syrah, this exhibits a pale salmon/copper color.  Bright and vibrant, with great raspberry flavors, plus hints of citrus and herbs.  Doesn't seem as complex as previous vintages, but still definitely worth recommending.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  July 23, 2014

Rio Madre Rioja 2012.  Made from 100% Graciano, this is a rather unique bottling from Rioja, offering a nose of very ripe red bell pepper, plums, dark spices, and blackberries.  Medium-bodied, with solid acidity, finishing with a black pepper note.  Drink now through 2017.  About $12.

-  July 18, 2014

Domaine le Clos des Lumìeres Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2013.  Pretty, bright pink color, with a very feminine nose of red and white flowers, raspberries, and citrus.  Great balance and fruit (mostly cherry), plus nice lift and energy.  Tasty.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  July 17, 2014

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough).  Energetic and very inviting, featuring lots of purity and focus.  Lime, gooseberry, passion fruit, bell pepper, and red grapefruit notes that are lively and continue through the moderate finish.  Definitely better than basic New Zealand Sauv Blanc.  Drink now.  About $16.

-  July 7, 2014

Château Grande Cassagne Rosé 2013 (Costières de Nîmes).  An earthy note to the aromatics, then citrus rind and raspberries.  Bordering on juicy, with lots of red berries, but also some pleasant bitterness on the finish to hold it together.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  July 6, 2014

Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris 2013 (Corbières).  Bright pink color, and offering scents/flavors of watermelon, raspberries, fresh basil, red apples, and blood orange.  Shows good freshness, with some bitter herb notes on the finish.  Doesn't seem as great as previous vintages, but is still very well-made, complex, and better than many inexpensive French rosés.  Drink now.  About $16.

-  July 4, 2014

Muga Rioja Selección Especial 2009.  Deep nose of blueberries, cherries, licorice, and coffee. Displays excellent purity and focus, with a velvety texture.  Great attack of intense fruit, but then moves to dark earthy qualities.  Drink now through 2018.  About $50.

-  July 3, 2014

Le Mesnil Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Non-Vintage.  From Grand Cru vineyards in Le Mesnil-Sur-Orger comes this lively straw-colored beauty.  Like white grapefruit on the nose, with flowers, butterscotch, yeast and a lot of bread dough.  Very impressive in the mouth, offering excellent mouthfeel and volume, with tons more bread dough and a lingering spicy ginger/pomelo finish.  Drink now through 2017.  About $45.

-  June 31, 2014

De Morgenzon Rosé DMZ 2013 (South Africa).  A deeper color for rosé, but also very bright.  Dominated by watermelon and raspberry flavors, with a hint of lemon rind, plus juicy acidity.  Lighter in body than previous vintages, with more verve.  Made from Cabernet Sauvignon.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  June 30, 2014

Mas Doix Salanques 2009 (Priorat).  Dark ruby in color and showing great purity on the nose, with bright cherries, subtle licorice, and slate notes.  Dark in profile, offering allspice, black cherry, blackberry, and blueberry flavors, finishing with a different spicy note.  Medium-bodied, and very Priorat.  Drink now through 2018.  About $30.

-  June 29, 2014

Babich Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough).  Very clear.  Effusive nose of green apple, guava, mango, and gooseberry.  Delicious, with tons of fruit on the mid-palate.  Not a lot of nuance, but this is boldly flavored and fun.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  June 28, 2014

Adega de Borba Tinto Premium 2011 (Alentejo).  Made from 50% Trincadera, 30% Touriga Nacional, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Alicante Bouschet.  Dense purple color, and very old world, with sweet campfire smoke, coffee, blue ink, and dark fruit on the nose.  Medium-bodied, masculine, and very dark in flavor but has plenty of acidity for lift.  Kind of like a really gutsy Cotes du Rhone.  Drink now through 2019.  About $15.

-  June 24, 2014

Moët & Chandon Brut Champagne Dom Perignon 2000.  Scents of mushrooms, straw, baked apple tart, macadamia nut, and red berries are all evident on this surprisingly rich version of Dom.  Excellent voluminous mid-palate of deep pear and ripe cheese intensity.  Hints of butterscotch, orange rind, toast, and dark spices on the long, impressive finish.  Mature, but will hold for a few more years.  About $150.

-  June 24, 2014

Fèlsina Pepestrino 2012 (Toscana).  Fresh, inviting grassy nose, with hints of thyme and lemon rind.  Subtle, with blanched almond, limestone, and green herb flavors.  Made from mostly Trebbiano, plus Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.  Pair with grilled shrimp.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  June 23, 2014

Vegi Chianti Classico Francesco Chiostri 2009.  Rusty in color, with classic Sangiovese scents of dried cherry, dusty herbs, leather, and dark tobacco.  Soft in the mouth.  A nice hint of bitterness to go with the cherry and mocha flavors.  Not a lot of structure here, so drink know through 2017.  About $16.

-  June 22, 2014

Artea Rosé 2013 (Alpes de Haute Provence).  Peach colored and having scents of raspberries, cherries, and slate, this is a great summer sipper, with an easygoing, approachable style.  Good red fruit on the palate paired with laser acidity.  Amazing value.  Drink now while it's hot outside.  About $7.

-  June 21, 2014

Henri de Villamont Crémant de Bourgogne Non-Vintage.  At this price, this is a nice, unchallenging alternative to Champagne, offering solid white peach, spring flowers, and citrus notes.  Easy, approachable texture and great acidity.  Better as an aperitif.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  June 20, 2014

Matua Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough).  Heavy on the gooseberry scents, plus white peach, zest of lime, and tangerine.  Zippy, fresh, and energetic, lingering nicely, with more citrus and green guava flavors.  Great with sushi.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  June 3, 2014

Mont Tauch L'Enclos des Roses 2011 (Corbières).  Made from 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Carignan.  Good intensity here, this tastes very much like the appellation should, with interesting dried herb/undergrowth qualities to go with the dark fruit, licorice, spice, and smoke notes.  A bit tart on the attack, but has good depth and length.  Excellent value.  Drink now through 2018.  About $12.

-  June 1, 2014

Le Petit Rouvière Rosé 2012 (Vin De Pays Du Var).  Light peach color, with aromas suggesting honeycrisp apple and raspberries.  Clean and pretty, this isn't a complex rosé, but is nicely balanced with solid fruit and zippy acidity for a hot day.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  May 31, 2014

Yalumba Shiraz/Viognier Y Series 2012 (South Australia).  Made with 4% Viognier, this offers plenty of smoke on the nose, plus black currant, plums, tar, coffee, and licorice.  Medium-bodied, extracted, with a spicy finish.  The mid-palate is a bit compressed, but this has good focus and admirable depth, especially for the price.  Drink now through 2018.  About $12.

-  May 26, 2014

E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2013.  Electric pink in color.  Watermelon, raspberry, and modest cherry flavors, with a balanced, energetic frame.  Nice hint of bitterness on the finish.  Easy to like.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  May 25, 2014

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin 2013 (Marlborough).  Aromatic nose of gooseberry, grapefruit, and limes.  Turns tropical in the mouth (passion fruit/guava), with zippy acidity and moderate presence.  Nicely done, and a great value.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  May 24, 2014

Pierre Janny Bourgogne Blanc Challand 2011.  Straw-colored as well in aroma, plus pears, limestone, grass, and lime zest.  Refreshing, clean and lithe, showing no oak, this is easygoing and suitable for a wide range of foods.  A hint of vanilla ice cream on the finish.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  May 19, 2014

Villa des Anges Old Vines Rosé 2013 (Pays D'Oc).  Made from Cinsault, this is relatively light in color, with scents of raspberries, white/red flowers, and crisp apples.  Vibrant and thirst quenching, it leans toward the red berry side of things rather than citrus, finishing with a celery note.  An easy food pairing.  Seems even better than last year's version.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  May 12, 2014

Feudo Arancio Grillo Stemmari 2012 (Sicily).  Nicely done, with peach, white flower, citrus, and subtle apple notes.  Easy to approach texture, this is round and balanced, especially for such a cheap wine.  Drink now.  About $8.

-  May 11, 2014

Mollydooker Shiraz The Boxer 2012 (South Australia).  Thick, rich and loaded with dark plum, hoisin sauce, mocha, tobacco, and black cherry notes.  Excellent length and volume.  A bit hot, with the 16% alcohol sticking out some, but if you're interested in the non-subtle style of Shiraz, this is for you.  Try this with some grilled skirt steak.  Drink now through 2020.  About $23.

-  May 10, 2014

Capa Tempranillo (Castilla).  Dusty hints on the nose, plus tart cherry and plums.  Bright, with focused fruit and a pleasantly bitter note on the finish.  A savory, outstanding value in a an everyday quaff.  No vintage indicated.  Drink now.  About $20/3L box.

-  May 5, 2014   

Domaine Houchart Rosé 2013 (Côtes de Provence).  Smells and tastes like a watermelon (including the rind), plus citrus, raspberries, and tart apples. The essence of summer, with a zippy freshness that begs for another sip of refreshment.  This is the house rosé of davidjohnhansen.com.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  May 4, 2014

Cellers Melis Elix 2005 (Priorat).  Scorched earth, something roasted, blueberries, cherries, and smoke on the nose.  Full-bodied, with nicely ripe tannins and an approachable texture that supports cola, coffee, and licorice flavors.  15% alcohol.  Drink now through 2019.  About $26.

-  May 3, 2014

Dourthe Rosé 2012 (Bordeaux).  Offers scents of grass, bing cherries, fresh herbs, and bell peppers.  Red grapefruit, cherry, and something green (oregano?) on the palate, with a creamy finish.  There will be better rosés this season, but at this price, it's still worth buying.  Made from 90% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  April 20, 2014

Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Right Bank 2005 (Napa Valley).  Made from 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, this exhibits a nose of blue ink, violets, egg whites, red bell peppers, and ground black pepper, later moving to red berries.  Vibrant, smooth palate, with a freshness to it that really blossoms with air.  Long finish.  Drink now through 2018.  About $60.

-  April 19, 2014

Domaine La Garrigue Côtes du Rhône Cuvée Romaine 2012.  Dark color is mirrored by the dark nose of black licorice, cigar tobacco, and cherries.  Youthful stuffing supports freshly brewed coffee, smoke, black fruit, and underbrush notes.  Excellent body and focus, this needs a bit of time/air to come together.  About $16.

-  April 11, 2014

Domaine Carneros Brut 2008 (Carneros).  Very lively bead, and offering scents of bread dough, white flowers, and granny smith apple.  Super-fresh and elegant, with a lovely mouthfeel, this hints at white grapefruit and pear, then some graham cracker on the finish.  It's the texture that makes this one fascinating.  Drink now through 2018.  About $24.

-  April 1, 2014

Stefano Accordini Valpolicella Classico 2012.  Made from 75% Corvina and 25% Rondinella, this has a dusty edge to the cherry, mint, cola, and plum scents.  Lively and bright palate that turns darker as it finishes.  Good texture.  Solid.  Drink now through 2017.  About 15.

-  March 24, 2014

Mas Doix Salanques 2007 (Priorat).  Fantastic, expressive nose of crushed rocks, cherry liqueur, and blueberry.  Medium-bodied, with delicious cherry flavors and hints of smoke.  Focused and pure, with outstanding balance.  Drink now through 2017.  About $30.

-  March 23, 2014

Cristia 2012 (Ventoux).  Nose of dust and cherries, with a garnet color.  Excellent purity here, plus uplifting acidity to the underbrush, cherry, leather, and black pepper flavors.  Drink now through 2018.  About $16.

-  March 19, 2014

Bodegas Olarra Añares Rioja Reserva 2006.  Really nicely scented with oolong tea, smoke, and bright red fruit.  Medium-bodied with great acidity and excellent purity, plus cherry flavors that are focused and long.  Drink now through 2017.  About $17.

-  March 16, 2014

Bodegas Virgen del Aguila Garnacha Alto Cinco 2011 (Cariñena).  Pleasing soft cherry, fresh coffee, and blueberry notes.  Great purity, admirable freshness, and easy texture. Not contemplative, but inexpensive, and made for early consumption.  About $10.

-  March 15, 2014

Anna Maria Abbona Sorí dij But 2011 (Dogliani).  Made from 100% Dolcetto, this exhibits a dusty nose, plus lavender notes that continue on the palate.  Savory coffee, herb, and potpourri qualities.  Good finish of blood and plum notes.  Drink now through 2017.  About $15.

-  March 14, 2014

Henri Giraud Champagne Brut Esprit de Giraud Non-Vintage.  Floral nose, but the palate is not as delicate, with notions of apricot, strawberry, table water cracker, blanched almonds, and pear.  Deft balance, superb elegance, and a chalky, moderately intense finish.  Drink now through 2016.  About $50.

-  March 11, 2014

Mont Tauch 2011 (Fitou).  Made from 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 30% Carignan, this is an inexpensive, spicy red from a part of France that so southern, it's almost in Spain.  Pleasant vanilla, dust, and smoke scents.  Medium-bodied, peppery, with modest fruit and mocha notes.  Not much structure or volume here, so drink now.  About $10.

-  March 6, 2014

Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Napa Valley).  Opaque red.  Excellent, classic Cabernet scents of cassis, dark tobacco, espresso, and black cherry.  Medium to full-bodied, well-crafted, and delicious.  A great finish that echoes with licorice, graphite, and more fruit.  Drink now through 2020.  About $40.

-  March 2, 2014

Marqués de Caceres Rioja Blanco 2012.  Made from 100% Viura, this white is fresh and clean, with a hint of rubber glove on the nose, but mostly notes of lemon zest, white flowers, and green pear.  Subtle chalk on the dry finish.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  February 28, 2014

Parize Givry Champ Nalot 2007.  There's a distinctive peppery note here and some hints of funk to go with the cherry, coffee, bell pepper, and cranberry flavors. Vibrant, with good focus and moderate length.  Drink now.  About $25.

-  February 23, 2014

Clos de la Oratoire 2000 (St. Emilion).  Cedar, lavender, freshly brewed coffee, wet leaves, and hints of smoke on the nose.  Medium-bodied, with moderate intensity, but great persistence.  Savory bay leaf qualities, very old world, with blossoming fruit on the finish.  Not at all tired, so drink now through 2019.  About $50.

-  February 17, 2014

Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina (Sannio).  Notes of wax, peaches, thyme, flowers, preserved lemon, and minerals.  Medium-bodied, balanced, and very consistent in style.  Pair with an herb/lemon roasted chicken.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  January 24, 2014

Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Tradition Grand Cru Non-Vintage.  Golden hue.  Impressive aromas that shout of honey, butterscotch, marcona almonds, mushrooms, and red apples.  Great intensity of fruit, admirable liveliness, and beautiful length.  Almost full-bodied, but with laser acidity.  Gorgeous.  An early candidate for the top 10 list.  Mature, this one was disgorged in November 2006, so if you have one, drink up.  About $60.

-  January 23, 2014

Covides Sant Sadurni d'Anola Cava Casteller Non-Vintage.  Made from 40% Macabeo, 40% Xarelo, and 20% Parellada, this is subtle and appealing, with nice citrus and green apple notes.  Zippy.  Nice minerality on the finish.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  January 19, 2014

The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Awatere Valley).  Extreme clarity, and made in the classic Crossings style, with loads of zesty gooseberry, clementine, grass, river rock, and lime notes.  Not shy, this is not for those who desire an elegant Sauvignon Blanc.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  January 18, 2014

Bota Box Zinfandel 2011 (Puglia).  This is a savory, southern Italian Zin (known as Primitivo over there), that offers dried herb and plum scents, moving to a modestly proportioned palate, reminiscent of black cherries, smoke, and dark tobacco.  At only about $16 for a 3 liter box ($4 per bottle), don't try to analyze this, just press the button and drink now.

-  January 17, 2014

Columbia Crest Chardonnay Unoaked 2012 (Washington).  Why is this recommended?  Because it's inexpensive, clean, uncomplicated, and easy to enjoy.  Pear, apple, grass, and citrus rind notes, with zippy acidity on the finish.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  January 14, 2014

Les Vignerons D'Estezargues Côtes du Rhône Villages Signargues Vieilles Vignes La Granacha 2010.  Impressive depth here for a CdR, it has a soft texture, but leaves an impact on the palate.  Fig, smoke, briary black fruit, and coffee notes.  Nicely done.  Drink now through 2017.  About $15.

-  January 10, 2014

Château Pavie 1999 (Saint Emilion).  Very beautiful nose, perfumed with roses, violets, freshly brewed coffee, campfire smoke, caramel, tobacco, bell pepper, and charcoal.  Elegant and effortless, showing great purity, medium-body, admirable focus, and a long finish.  Not a blockbuster, but very contemplative.  Made from 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Drink now through 2020.  About $200.

-  January 8, 2014

Bodegas Volver Tarima Hill 2010 (Alicante).  Opaque.  Complex, dense nose of burnt caramel, espresso, licorice, marshmallows, bitter chocolate, cologne, wild black fruit, and something medicinal.  Full-bodied, very intense, and as dark as midnight.  Brooding, like there's something evil lurking in the background.  Fantastic value, and even better than the 2009.  Made from 100% Monastrell.  Drink now through 2018.  About $16.

-  December 31, 2013

Below are davidjohnhansen.com's top 10 most memorable wine recommendations of 2013.  Because it has been such a good year, there are a few honorable mentions tacked on to the bottom.  Readers are strongly encouraged to try any of these.

#1 - Gaja Sperss 1997 (Langhe)

#2 - Pierre Péters Blanc de Blanc Cuvée de Réserve Champagne Non-Vintage

#3 - Lewelling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard 2003 (Napa Valley)

#4 - Yalumba The Signature 2001 (Barossa)

#5 - Château Lafite Rothschild 1999 (Pauillac)

#6 - Bodegas Vizcarra Ramos JC Vizcarra 2010 (Ribera del Duero)

#7 - Schramsberg Brut Rosé 2007 (North Coast)

#8 - Domaine Giraud Chateauneuf du Pape Tradition 2009

#9 - Vazart-Coquart & Fils Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Reserve Non-Vintage

#10 - Domaine de la Janasse Côtes du Rhône Villages Terre d'Argile 2010

Honorable mentions:

Locations E-1 2011 (Spain)

Roederer Estate Brut L'Ermitage 2003 (Anderson Valley)

Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli 1997

Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Napa Valley)


-  December 29, 2013

Roederer Estate Brut Non-Vintage (Anderson Valley).  Straw colored, and scented with resonant notes of hazelnuts, whole wheat toast, and vanilla.  A richer style, with fantastic intensity to the preserved citrus, red apple, and hints of cream/butterscotch.  Amazing value.  Drink now through 2016.  About $20.

-  December 26, 2013

Banshee Wines Pinot Noir Rickshaw 2012 (Sonoma County).  Garnet in color.  Both light and dark cherry scents, along with tobacco and spices.  Great purity and admirable focus, this is a well-made, everyday Pinot, with solid fruit and cola flavors.  Drink now.  About $16.

-  December 25, 2013

Doña Paula Malbec Los Cardos 2012 (Mendoza).  Solid toasty qualities, like roasted coffee and bitter chocolate, then figs and blackberries.  There's some vanilla and herb notes on the finish.  Medium-bodied, with good freshness.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  December 22, 2013

Paolo Scavino Barolo 2003.  Ruby in color, with a touch of rust.  Perfumed nose of dark dried mushrooms, cherries, and cocoa powder.  Very Nebbiolo, with flavors of tar, roses, espresso, and dried cherries.  Great intensity for a 10 year old wine.  At its plateau of development, but with lots of structure, and will be great for another 5 years.  About $50.

-  December 21, 2013

Jacquart Champagne Brut Mosaïque Non-Vintage.  Pretty color, with hints of gold.  Very lively bead, showing overt scents of bread dough, butterscotch, honey, and almonds.  There's some subtle spiciness (like an orange with cloves in it) on the palate, along with toasted bread and toffee notes.  Not a delicate style of Champagne, this has robust flavor, but is actually not heavy in body.  Drink now through 2015.  About $40.

-  December 20, 2013

Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2010 (Veronese).  Dusty initially, but blows off to reveal black licorice, road tar, violets, smoking ember, and graphite notes.  Good depth and expansive mid-palate, with great extraction and impressive focus.  A bit short on the finish, but that's a minor detail.  One of the most consistent wines from this part of Italy.  Made from 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Sangiovese.  Drink now through 2018.  About $20.

-  December 19, 2013

Francis Ford Coppola Votre Santé 2012 (California).  Licorice, fresh cherries, plums and subtle smoke notes.  Soft, easygoing, but nicely balanced, with enough depth and body to keep it interesting.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  December 18, 2013

Masi Campofiorin 2009 (Veronese).  Made with the appassimento method, this has a bright nose that contrasts with licorice, dust, and cherry cola notes.  Medium-bodied, with good focus and energy, this changes a great deal in the glass.  Very consistent in style from previous vintages.  Drink now through 2018.  About $15.

-  December 13, 2013

Brancott Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough).  Heavy on the pink grapefruit and ripe guava notes, this is loaded with fruit and not at all shy.  Juicy, but also has kaffir lime and fresh herb qualities, as well as enough acidity to remain refreshing, finishing with good length.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  December 10, 2013

Campo Viejo Cava Brut Reserva Non-Vintage.  Clear and lively, with shy scents of white flowers and white grapefruit.  Not a ton going on here, but it's also not without merit, showing palate-cleansing acidity, a chalky edge, and hints of citrus rind.  Appropriately priced.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  December 5, 2013

Domaine de la Janasse Côtes du Rhône Villages Terre d'Argile 2011.  Smoke, iodine, and seaweed on the nose.  A touch of undergrowth on the palate to go with the plum, cherry, and charcoal notes.  Medium-bodied, and not as plump or intense as the 2010, but still very good.  Give this some air.  Made from 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 30% Mourvedre.  Drink now through 2019.  About $23.

-  December 4, 2013

Sant Sadurní D'Anola Cava Gran Gesta Non-Vintage.  Light yellow in color.  Solid Cava, with modest proportions that are slow to reveal, but ending in bitter lemon, metal, and dark spices on the finish.  Made from 55% Xarelo, 25% Macabeo, and 20% Parellada.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  December 3, 2013

Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Napa Valley).  Fantastic, penetrating nose of graphite, pure cassis, blueberry, mocha, and scorched earth.  Full-bodied, plush, and very long, with a finish that keep pumping out more fruit, charcoal, and licorice flavors.  Outstanding.  Begs for immediate consumption, but will last for another 10 years.  About $45.

-  December 2, 2013

Bodegas Volver Tarima 2012 (Alicante).  Made from 100% Monastrell, this is dark, brooding, and smoky, but also shows good cherry fruit, plus beef blood and iron notes.  A bit rustic, but has lots of intensity and impressive density for the price.  Drink now through 2016.  About $10.

-  December 1, 2013

Big House Chardonnay Unchained 2011 (California).  An unoaked, cheap Chardonnay from a box, offering modest notes of fresh herbs, light peach, limes, and oranges, with a moderate presence in the mouth.  Hints of petroleum on the finish, this is not a wine for contemplation, but offers solid varietal character for little money.  Drink now.  About $20/3L.

-  November 28, 2013

Vinacola de Priorat Clos Gebrat 2011 (Priorat).  Made from 40% Grenache, 35% Carignan, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Syrah.  Dusty, smoky, coffee-tinged nose, plus black licorice and cherry cola.  Medium-bodied, with very good balance and density of flavor.  Crushed rocks, black cherry, and more licorice on the finish.  Very Priorat in profile.  A bargain for this appellation, this isn't at the top level, but certainly worth recommending.  Drink now through 2016.  About $24.

-  November 26, 2013

Martin Códax Albariño 2011 (Rias Baixas).  Very inviting nose, featuring citrus flowers, green pear, lime rind, and lemongrass.  Crisp, very refreshing, and not complex, but it's also hard to resist.  Very few foods would not pair with this . . . you know, like a Thanksgiving dinner.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  November 24, 2013

Salviano Orvieto Classico Superiore 2011.  Yellow in color, with notes of orange blossom, pear, white peach, pink grapefruit rind, and blanched almond.  Medium-bodied, pretty, with nicely balanced acidity.  Lively and interesting.  Made from 30% Trebbiano, 30% Grechetto, 20% Chardonnay, and 20% Sauvignon Blanc.  About $18.

-  November 20, 2013

Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Cuvée de la Pompadour Non-Vintage (Carneros).  Pretty copper/pink color, with aromas of fresh flowers, raspberries, and active bread dough.  Very elegant, structured, and toasty, with a solid core of berry and spice flavors.  Lingering finish.  Ready now, but will improve over the year, and last for a few more.  About $35.

-  November 19, 2013

MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris 2011 (Russian River Valley).  Light yellow.  A touch of petroleum on the nose, plus classic pear and white peach notes.  Good body and admirable balance, showing some elegance on the moderate finish.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  November 18, 2013

Barone Fini Pinot Grigio 2012 (Valdadige).  Has a step ahead of most value Pinot Grigio from Italy, with ripe pear, peach, and fresh herb notes.  Needs a little more acidity to keep the ripe fruit in check, but otherwise, this is an easy to like white, made for early consumption.  About $12.

-  November 17, 2013

Losada El Pájaro Rojo 2011 (Bierzo).  Notably purple.  Smells like raw beef, lavender, and smoke.  Supple in the mouth, offering plum and cherry notes, with an energetic, youthful finish.  Made from the Mencía grape.  Drink now through 2015.  About $12.

-  November 13, 2013

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 1993 (Napa Valley).  A 20 year old wine, showing a very pretty nose of caramel, cassis, flowers, and coffee.  Mature, extremely elegant, and exhibiting wonderful balance.  Still lots of fruit, plus lavender notes, with a very long, vibrant finish.  Drink now through 2016.  About $100.

-  November 9, 2013

Domaine Lafage Chardonnay Novellum 2012 (Vin de Pays D'Oc).  White peaches, lemon curd, and tropical fruit (guava/passion fruit) on the nose.  Vanilla and a bit of oak on the attack.  Not overdone and having lots of body, but also great acidity.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  November 8, 2013

Montinore Estate Pinot Gris 2012 (Willamette Valley).  Made from organic grapes, this is clean and bright, with notes of white peach, limes, flowers, and yellow apple.  Focused, with good persistence and appealing acidity.  Elegant.  Don't serve this too cold.  Drink now through 2015.  About $13.

-  November 7, 2013

Domaine de Mourchon Rosé Cotes du Rhone Villages Loubie 2011.  Very clear, with aromas of ripe cheese, minerals, raspberries, and roses.  Lots of fruit on the palate, plus more minerality.  Good focus.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  November 4, 2013

Burgans Albariño 2011 (Rias Baixas).  Inviting white peach, apple, and orange scents lead to a medium-bodied, delightful palate that has lively acidity and immediate appeal.  Lots of juicy freshness here.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  November 2, 2013

Chateau Magence Blanc 2011 (Graves).  Very clean, with lots of verve. Orange blossom, limes, wet stone, and fresh herb notes, finishing dry.  Great with sushi.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  October 30, 2013

Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec 2011 (Mendoza).  This winery's mid-level offering, from high altitude vineyards, is an opaque, serious wine.  Soaring espresso nose, plus boysenberry, melted chocolate, and smoke.  Dense and extracted in the mouth, with a toasty/dark profile that's pretty intense.  Drink now through 2018.  About $22.

-  October 28, 2013

Maimai Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Hawkes Bay).  It's New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but doesn't present with overdone Marlborough notes.  Shows an elegant profile of white grapefruit, pea shoot, bell pepper, gooseberry, and mint.  Nice balance, easy texture, and moderate finish.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  October 27, 2013

Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion 2000 (Pessac-Leognan).  Ruby color, with hints of rust.  Very floral nose, plus cherry, tobacco, leather, and ball point pen ink.  Medium-bodied.  Iron and smoldering ember initially, then fruit on the finish.  Mature, but will hold for another 5 years.  About $50.

-  October 26, 2013

Campo Viejo Rioja Garnacha 2012.  With a complex nose of coffee grounds, cologne, bacon, blackberries, and blueberries, this is a bit unusual for a Rioja - a 100% Grenache.  Tastes meaty, with blood notes after a cherry dominated attack.  Medium-bodied, with little tannin and an easy texture.  Very interesting.  Drink now through 2016.  About $11.

-  October 20, 2013

Cantina Sacchetto Prosecco Enza Non-Vintage.  Very clear, with a fine bead for this type of wine, and offers notes of green apples, mint, hints of honey, and white grapefruit. Crisp, and nicely balanced, this is better than your average Prosecco.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  October 16, 2013

Calera Pinot Noir 2011 (Central Coast).  Complex cola, flowers, blackberry, freshly brewed coffee, bright cherries, and subtle smoke notes, with a dark, lingering finish.  Fantastic texture, that's both rich and elegant.  Really well-done, and an outstanding value.  Drink now through 2016.  About $23.

-  October 14, 2013

The Wishing Tree Chardonnay Unoaked 2011 (Adelaide).  Clean and bright, with notions of pear, lemons, white grapefruit, and hints of petroleum.  Refreshing and dry.  Good for an everyday quaff.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  October 11, 2013

Mas Carlot Les Enfants Terribles 2010 (Costières de Nîmes).  Composed of 50% Mourvèdre and 50% Syrah.  Feels like there's a little more acidity compared to the 2009, and also feels a little more elegant.  Medium-bodied, holding your interest with notes of violets, freshly brewed coffee, spices, red fruits, cocoa, and hints of funk.  Drink now through 2018.  About $15.

-  October 9, 2013

A to Z Wineworks Pinot Gris 2012 (Oregon).  Very peachy, plus notes of fresh herbs, river rock, and ripe pear.  With lots of body, this is no delicate Pinot Gris.  Good presence and purity, this is an easy food pairing, and easy to like.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  October 8, 2013

Cellars Unio Señorio de Convey 2008 (Priorat).  Made from 50% Grenache, 30% Carignan, and 20% Syrah.  Very Priorat, with scents that include cherry, iron, blueberry, slate, and smoke.  Not a blockbuster in the mouth, but offers a modest impression, with focused flavors and admirable purity.  Drink now through 2015.  About $15.

-  October 7, 2013

Planeta La Segreta Bianco 2012 (Sicilia).  An interesting blend of 50% Grecanico, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Viognier, and 10% Fiano.  Yellow in color, and heavy on the apple notes, plus minerals, parsley, thyme, sweet onion, and pear.  Medium-bodied, with great acidity on the finish.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  October 5, 2013

Vazart-Coquart & Fils Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Reserve Non-Vintage.  Offers a striking nose of white mushrooms, hay, subtle spice, and ripe pear, this comes from exclusively grand cru Chardonnay vineyards.  Well-proportioned, with fantastic acidity supporting strawberry, bread dough, almonds, and apple flavors.  Hints of ginger and wheat biscuit on the long finish.  Wonderful now, but will hold for a year or two.  About $50.

-  October 2, 2013

Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Medalla Real Gran Reserva 2009 (Maipo Valley).  Fantastic, generous nose that includes loam, blackberry, incense, lavender, and barbecue sauce notes.  Less expressive in the mouth, but shows some real guts to it, with solid structure.  Have this with grilled meat.  Drink now through 2017.  About $14.

-  October 1, 2013

Gruet Brut Non-Vintage (New Mexico).  Always a great value, this offers notes of toasted nuts, apricots, lemons, and red apples.  Lively, and far more interesting to drink than most bubbly at this price.  Last posted on January 9, 2010.  Drink now.  About $16.

-  September 30, 2013

La Posta Malbec Pizzella Family Vineyard 2010 (Mendoza).  Rich purple color.  Boysenberry, mocha, toasted oak, and red plum notes.  Great definition and presence, with coffee flavors that echo on the finish.  Not as outstanding as previous vintages, but still a very well-made Malbec, exhibiting solid sense of place.  Drink now through 2017.  About $16.

-  September 29, 2013

Trimbach Pinot Blanc 2011 (Alsace).  Fresh, crisp, and friendly, featuring white peach, crushed rock, orange peel, and green apple notes.  Turns to more ripe fruit on the finish, where it stays vibrant and thirst-quenching.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  September 24, 2013

Aviva Garnacha Filón 2011 (Calatayud).  Surprisingly dark on the nose, featuring charcoal, smoke, and wild blackberry scents.  Lots of toasty flavors in the mouth, plus prunes, cola, and bitter chocolate.  With air, more primary fruit shows up (mostly cherry).  Medium-bodied, with impressive density for the price.  Drink now through 2017.  About $10.

-  September 23, 2013

Goretti Grechetto 2012 (Coli Perugini).  Yellow colored and clear, with scents of stone fruit (mostly white peach), honey, and crushed limestone.  Good presence in the mouth, where more minerality shows up, along with some tropical fruit notes on the finish.  From Umbria.  Drink now.  About $17.

-  September 22, 2013

Corvidae Cabernet Franc The Keeper 2012 (Columbia Valley).  Ruby color.  Cherry, green herbs, red bell pepper, and coffee scents.  Holds your interest in the mouth, with integrated acidity supporting flavors of cloves and cherry cola.  Mid-weight, with solid focus and a vibrant finish.  Drink now through 2017.  About $19.

-  September 21, 2013

Mollydooker Shiraz The Boxer 2005 (McLaren Vale/Langhorne Creek).  Rich!  Deep black/blue fruit, charcoal, vanilla, mocha, molasses, and white flower notes.  Luxurious texture, intense fruit, and long finish.  Full-throttle at 16% alcohol.  Show no signs of slowing down.  Last tasted in October 12, 2006.  Drink now through 2025.  About $22.

-  September 18, 2013

E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2010.  Lots of smoky, toasty, charcoal notes on the nose, with wild berries in the background.  Ripe, but a bit chunky, this delivers solid undergrowth/lavender flavors that are old school for this appellation.  Food-centric in style.  Drink now through 2015.  About $12.

-  September 17, 2013

Capçanes Mas Donis Barrica Old Vines 2010 (Montsant).  Made from 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah, this has a fantastic nose of crushed rocks, incense, licorice, and black/blue fruit.  Gorgeous texture (especially for the price), dense flavors, and great intensity.  Fine tannin, with good volume, this is an astonishing value.  Drink now through 2019.  About $14.

-  September 15, 2013

Nita 2006 (Priorat).  Hints of brown color, with a classic Priorat nose of blueberries, cherries, and smoke.  Medium-bodied, rather soft, but good density of flavor and solid acidity.  Not as good as the 2008, but worth recommending.  Drink now through 2015.  About $20.

-  September 14, 2013

Cave de Vendôme Blanc Lieu-dit Cocagne 2011 (Coteaux du Vendômois).  Lots of minerality here, along with notions of limes, green apple, white peach, and orange peel.  Nice acidity and modest presence, finishing dry.  100% Chenin Blanc.  Drink now.  About $9.

-  September 12, 2013

Domaine Manciat-Poncet Mâcon-Charnay 2011.  Lily, lemons, and limestone notes that are elegant and pleasing.  Not overpowering or knocking you over the head with flavors, but the flavors it has are well-done and enjoyable.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  September 7, 2013

Locations E-1 2011 (Spain).  Smells like a men's cologne and something powdery, plus black licorice, blackberries, espresso, and smoke.  Full-bodied, very intense, youthful, and long.  Pepper, eucalyptus, licorice, cherry, and mocha flavors.  The best of the three Locations series (but not by much), slightly ahead of the French version.  Amazing value.  Made from Grenache from the Priorat, Tempranillo from Rioja, and Carignan from the Ribera del Duero.  Great now through 2020.  About $17.

-  September 4, 2013

Charles & Charles Rosé 2012 (Columbia Valley).  Made from 81% Syrah, 16% Mourvedre, 2% Cinsault, and 1% Grenache.  Watermelon and strawberry scents in an overt style that's not at all delicate.  Fruity palate, like a cranberry/apple juice blend, but just crisp enough to stay together.  For those who don't like a subtle rosé.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  September 3, 2013

Bodegas Vizcarra Ramos JC Vizcarra 2010 (Ribera del Duero).  Made from 100% Tempranillo, from 30 year old vines.  Dark, mysterious nose, hinting at smoke, cassis, licorice, and coffee.  Given plenty of air, this exhibits plenty of black plum flavors on an expansive mid-palate.  Dense, extracted, and intense.  Fantastic value.  Great now, but better in a few years, and has the stuffing to last for 10 more.  About $25.

-  August 30, 2013

Schramsberg Brut Rosé 2007 (North Coast).  Pretty salmon/copper color, with gorgeous aromatics of bread dough, strawberries, cranberries, and biscuit.  Starts off very refined and elegant, then moves on the the berry flavors that are deep, and ends with a very lasting impression.  Fine bubbles, and fantastic texture.  Outstanding.  Made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnary.  Drink now through 2015.  About $38.

-  August 29, 2013

Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Central Coast).  Freshly brewed coffee and cassis aromas initially, moving to dark tobacco, lavender, and smoke notes.  Fleshy and round, with solid acidity, this is a good value Cabernet made for early consumption.  Black currant and plum notes on the moderate finish.  Drink now through 2016.  About $20.

-  August 28, 2013

Terre des Olivettes Rosé 2012 (Pays d'Oc).  Made from 40% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Carignan.  Pretty pale color, and offering an inviting nose of raspberries, cherries, and flowers.  Enjoyable and uncomplicated, balancing good fruit and mouthwatering acidity.  Drink now.  About $9.

-  August 27, 2013

Cantina di Soave Garganega/Pinot Grigio Duca del Frassino 2012 (Venezie).  Generous, with its ripe pear, citrus, fresh herb, and peach profile.  More fruit than the 2011, but has the acidity too.  Not refined, but would be a bargain at $9 a bottle, yet this sells for the equivalent of $5.  Made from 80% Garganega.  Drink now.  About $20/3 liter.

-  August 26, 2013

Chateau La Rame Rosé 2012 (Bordeaux).  Orange blossom, citrus pith, rose, raspberry, and bell pepper notes.  Bright and zippy, kind of lean, but maintains good balance overall.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  August 25, 2013

Shingleback Sparkling Shiraz Black Bubbles Non-Vintage (McLaren Vale).  Strikingly opaque, and offers plenty of black fruit (plums/blackberry), plus peppery notes.  Just this shy of too much fruit, but the acidity and bubbles reins this in.  Try with a burger.  Drink now.  About $18.

-  August 24, 2013

Brokenwood Semillon 2011 (Hunter Valley).  Petroleum, lime, kumquat, and pear notes with vibrant structure. Crisp, with solid fruit and purity.  Would pair with most any fish dish.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  August 22, 2013

Locations I-1 (Italy).  Lavender, smoke, black ink, briary black fruit, plus hints of cream on the nose.  Dense, concentrated palate, with a lengthy finish, showing fine acidity and good intensity.  Not quite as remarkable as the French version, but still very good.  Made from Negroamaro, Nero d'Avola, Barbera, and other varietals from Puglia.  Drink now through 2016.  About $16.

-  August 21, 2013

Perrin Côtes du Rhône Rosé Reserve 2011.  Bright pink.  Raspberry, then concentrated cherry flavors, moving to more savory notes on the finish, where some citrus rind is evident.  A more food-ready rosé.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  August 20, 2013

Bodegas Shaya Shaya 2011 (Rueda).  Made from 100% Verdejo, and offering scents of flowers and minerals.  Loaded with melon, peach, and river rock flavors, with excellent body and definition.  Some honeysuckle notes on the finish, leaving a rounded and rich impression that's supported by fine acidity.  Drink now through 2015.  About $15.

-  August 19, 2013

Twin Islands Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough).  With vibrant and piercing notes of lime, passion fruit, and gooseberry, this is very typical of New Zealand.  Turns almost juicy, with some mango flavors to go with the citrus.  Nothing unusual, but it's cheap, and delivers lots of flavor.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  August 18, 2013

Sacha Lichine Rosé Single Blend 2012 (France).  Great balance of red fruits and bitter/savory notes, with some dusty qualities.  Cherry/raspberry flavors mostly.  Mid-weight, with good intensity.  Made from Grenache.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  August 17, 2013

Francisco Dominguez Cava Mercat Non-Vintage.  This consistent Spanish bubbly continues to win in the value sweepstakes.  Very good clarity to the white grapefruit scents, leading to a sharp entry, and then a pleasant, pear and lemon tinged palate.  Energetic and uncomplicated.  Last tasted December 14, 2011.  About $15.

-  August 16, 2013

Chateau Pey La Tour Rosé 2012 (Bordeaux).  Flowers, raspberries, oranges and fresh herbs are all displayed on this supple value rosé.  Very good balance and presence.  Made from 65% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Merlot.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  August 15, 2013

Feudi di San Gregorio Rubrato 2008 (Irpinia).  Coming from Campania, and made of Aglianico, this is dark on the nose, but also grapey, plus coffee and cherry aromas.  Inky on the palate, with notions of iodine and espresso, having good tannin/acidity structure.  Focused.  Tart cherry and salty intensity on the finish.  Drink now through 2016.  About $16.

-  August 14, 2013

Marius Peyol Rosé 2012 (Côtes de Provence).  Very light in color, and smelling of burnt caramel, watermelon, and celery.  Pleasant and bright, with modest flavors and ambition, but still a good value.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  August 6, 2013

André Brunel Côtes du Rhône Villages Cuvée Sabrine 2010.  Looks unfiltered.  Smells a bit rustic, with notions of wet soil, iodine, beef blood, blackberry, and dusty wild herbs.  Opens up with air to reveal more fruit, and showing real power, with ripe tannins and great density.  Bitter chocolate, coffee, and blackberry notes, then tons of licorice on the finish.  Impressive, especially for this price and appellation.  Made from 80% Grenache, plus Syrah and Mourvedre.  Drink now through 2019.  About $15.

-  August 5, 2013

Balnea Verdejo 2011 (Rueda).  Smells like mandarin oranges, green melons, white peaches, and yellow apples.  Zippy and fresh, with notions of cucumber, parsley, and lemon.  Easy texture, with some pleasant bitterness on the finish.  An enjoyable summer white.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  August 4, 2013

Seghesio Zinfandel 2011 (Sonoma County).  There's no searching for the abundantly perfumed nose of blue/black fruit, flowers, and vanilla.  Cola on the attack, then plenty of plum, cherry, mocha, and pepper notes.  Medium-bodied, with good acidity and overall harmony.  Great zinfandel!  Drink now through 2017.  About $20.

-  August 1, 2013

Masciarelli Villa Gemma Rosé 2012 (Cerasuolo D'Abruzzo).  Light ruby in color, with hints of raspberry on the shy nose.  Some bitter pith notes, plus watermelon and strawberry flavors.  Structured and robust in style.  Interesting.  Drink now through 2015.  About $13.

-  July 31, 2013

Locations F-1 2011 (France).  Made from Grenache, Syrah, and some Bordeaux varietals, this is an unusual blend from all over France, made by Orin Swift winemaker Dave Phinney.  Dark, ripe nose, featuring lots of black fruit, cola, espresso, and charcoal.  Tastes like a ripe, dense Côtes du Rhône that also sees some charred oak aging.  Peppery finish, with lots of licorice and plum notes.  A fantastic value.  15% alcohol.  Drink now through 2018.  About $17.

-  July 30, 2013

Kato Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough).  Aromatic and expressive, with lots of gooseberry, key lime, mango, and passion fruit notes.  Not a lot of nuance, but has zippy acidity and tons of fruit.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  July 29, 2013

Chateau Ksara Blanc de Blancs 2011 (Bekaa Valley).  Made from 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Chardonnay, and 25% Semillon.  Straw yellow in color, with a toasty vanilla nose, plus coconut and red apple notes.  Marshmallow, pear, and hints of petroleum on a medium-bodied frame.  Some citrus on the finish for lift.  Drink now.  About $18.

-  July 28, 2013

De Morgenzon DMZ Rosé 2013 (Western Cape).  Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a riper, fuller rosé, showing some concentration to the cherry and raspberry flavors.  Solid acidity and an orange rind note on the finish keeps it together.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  July 27, 2013

Jousselin & Fils Touraine Domaine du Rin Du Bois 2010.  This 100% Sauvignon Blanc is very refreshing, with pure gooseberry, tomatillo, chives, and grass scents.  Easygoing texture, with racy acidity on the moderate finish.  A nice summer sipper value.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  July 26, 2013

Buitenverwachting Sauvignon Blanc Bayten 2012 (Constantia Valley).  Cottage cheese, apricots, white peaches, and green stuff, like pea shoots/mint on the nose.  Bright and fresh, but with good weight and lemon/lime flavors.  Nice volume as it warms in the glass, revealing pear notes.  Drink now through 2015.  About $13.

-  July 23, 2013

Laurent Perrier Champagne 2002.  Lively, with small bubbles, and showing aromas of white peach, green apples, and preserved lemons.  Very alive for a 11 year old wine.  Fresh and youthful, but there's some darkness on the finish (graham cracker/wheat biscuit), plus some limestone.  Well done.  Drink now through 2016.  About $60.

-  July 22, 2013

Domaine de Fontsainte Rosé Gris de Gris 2012 (Corbières).  A pale color for a rosé.  Earthy, but not funky nose, like slate or river rock, plus roses and raspberry scents.  Surprising density on the mid-palate, with great fruit (peaches/raspberry/cherry) and balanced acidity.  Ends with a citrus rind note.  One of the better rosés of the season.  Drink now through 2015. 

-  July 21, 2013

Bodegas Naia Las Brisas 2012 (Rueda).  Real clarity and focus to the lemon, clementine, green herb (chive/thyme) scents.  Energetic, with great fruit and verve.  Light passion fruit, citrus, and melon flavors that are supple and unencumbered.  Drink now. About $12.

-  July 20, 2013

Pierre Janny Bourgogne Blanc Challand 2010.  Offers green bell pepper, mint, green apple, and white peach aromas, this is a solid value in a basic white Burgundy.  Supple and fresh, in a clean and inviting style, hinting at river rocks on the finish.  Shows no no oak influence.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  July 19, 2013

Les Valentines Rosé Le Caprice de Clementine 2012 (Côtes de Provence).  Made from 50% Cinsault and 50% Grenache, this exhibits notes of white peaches, oranges, roses, and raspberries.  Light-bodied and vibrant.  Needs some density, but it's still a nice summer rose.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  July 18, 2013

Château Lafont Menaut 2009 (Pessac-Léognan).  Focused honeydew, tropical fruit, lemon, clementine, and honey scents.  More grassy on the palate, plus citrus and green apple.  Crisp, with good presence.  Nearly as good as the 2010.  Drink now.  About $18.

-  July 17, 2013

Masciarelli Villa Gemma 2012 (Abruzzo).  Smells like ripe melons and bosc pears, with hints of petroleum and honey.  Medium-bodied, with good evolution in the mouth, showing red apple and stone fruit flavors.  Pair with anything from a spicy curry to sauced fish dishes.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  July 16, 2013

Duval Leroy Champagne Non-Vintage.  No shyness on the nose, this exhibits focused scents of white mushroom, green and yellow apples, brioche, and red berries.  Both creamy and spicy in the mouth, showing volume to the ginger, red citrus, and apple notes.  Needs a longer finish, but otherwise a very good non-vintage Champagne.  Last tasted April 13, 2012.  Drink now through 2015.  About $36.

-  July 15, 2013

Moillard Côtes du Rhône Rosé Les Violettes 2012.  A pale rosé in color, with a sweet, bright raspberry nose that also hints of leaves and dairy.  Polished entry leads to a robust cherry/citrus finish, with zippy acidity.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  July 14, 2013

Bodegas Volver Tarima Hill 2009 (Alicante).  Opaque.  Dark, dark nose, hinting at charcoal, espresso, black licorice, and smoke.  Expressive in the mouth, with plenty of dark cherry, plum, and mocha flavors.  Excellent acidity, plus amazing intensity (especially for the price), with real stuffing.  Made from Monastrell.  Drink now through 2021.  About $15.

-  July 13, 2013

Les Costières de Pomerols Picpoul de Pinet Saint-Peyre 2012 (Languedoc).  Offers scents of pea shoots, celery, mandarin orange, sea salt, and other assorted green leafy things that you would put in a salad (this is a good thing).  Zesty and easy to like, it's not complex, but don't let that hold you back from buying this "bag in a box" for its extreme value (equivalent of less than $6 per bottle).  Drink now.  About $23 for a 3 liter box.

-  July 12, 2013

Bodegas Ordoñez Zerran 2011 (Montsant).  Looks and smells youthfully purple, in that grape-like manner, but also exhibits scents of smoldering ember, blackberry, plum, and espresso.  Some solid, grippy tannins for backbone, plus lots of dark fruit, with real depth and "guts".  Made from 50% Garnacha, 40% Mazuelo, and 10% Syrah.  A fantastic value.  Ready now, but better in a year or so, and will last for another eight.  About $15.

-  July 11, 2013

Acacia Chardonnay A Unoaked 2011 (California).  Super-clear, with a shy nose (maybe some grass), but the palate exhibits plenty of ripe pear, peach, guava, and apricot notes, with hints of cream.  For those who don't like oaky Chardonnay, but don't want one too lean either.  Drink now through 2015.  About $11.

-  July 10, 2013

Mediterra Silenus Beta 2009 (Crete).  Made from mostly Vilana, this exhibits an herbal nose (thyme/bay leaf), with a greenish color.  Crisp, with a pleasantly bitter finish, showing mostly light citrus and limestone flavors.  Overall simple, but also easy to enjoy on a hot day.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  July 9, 2013

E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2012.  Bright, energetic color matches the palate, with notions of watermelon, raspberry, and red cherries.  Has lots of verve and presence for the price.  Better than the 2011.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  July 8, 2013

Domaine de la Louvetrie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2011.  Really elegant, with white grapefruit, fleur de sel, lemon, and tarragon notes.  Superb balance.  Best Muscadet so far this season.  Dink now.  About $13.

-  July 7, 2013

Françios Chidane Touraine Rosé 2012.  Made from Grolleau and Pinot Noir, this is bright and zippy, featuring tart cherry/raspberry notes, plus hints of apple and lemon peel.  Much better than last year's version.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  July 6, 2013

Luigi Righetti Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Capitel De Roari 2005.  Smells of iodine, squid ink, prunes, cinnamon, and cloves.  Medium-bodied support to the cherry and burnt sugar flavors.  Savory and solid.  Very good, not outstanding, but certainly worth recommending.  Drink now thorough 2017.  About $30.

-  July 5, 2013

Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Tres Picos 2010 (Campo de Borja).  Opaque, and overflowing with ripe/dense cherry, smoke, blueberry, and cola flavors on a full-bodied frame.  Fantastic purity.  Exuberant, with great length, especially for the price.  Hedonistic.  Drink now through 2016.  About $16.

-  July 4, 2013

Château Grande Cassagne Rosé 2012 (Costières de Nîmes).  Kind of neon pink in color, this is similar to the 2011 version, with its overt style of fresh, exuberant cherries, citrus rind, and raspberries.  More of rosé to have on its own, or to celebrate our nation's birth.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  July 3, 2013

Lewelling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard 2003 (Napa Valley).  Opaque purple/red.  Pure, complex, and expressive nose of cassis, black plums, smoke, vanilla, and mocha.  Very full-bodied, rich and loaded with pure fruit and French oak shadings.  Gorgeous silky texture, with a finish lasting in excess of 35 seconds.  The 14.8% alcohol isn't noticeable.  At 10 years old, it's ready now but will last for another 10 years.  About $75?

-  July 2, 2013

Bodegas Olarra Rioja Reserva Otañal 2005.  Very deep ruby color.  A dusty edge to the cherry, mocha, and anise scents, but with time, more beautiful violet notes show up.  Medium-bodied.  Finishes strong, showing some power and intensity.  Nice value, combining mostly old school Rioja with solid fruit.  Give this some air to reveal the nuance.  Drink now through 2017.  About $15.

-  July 1, 2013

Château La Moutete Rosé Grande Reserve 2012 (Cotes de Provence).  Peach/copper color.  Smells earthy, but with hints of dark berries and red apples, which show up with more force on the palate.  Solid balance and with some heft, this is a more sturdy French rosé.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  June 30, 2013

Guido Natalino Gavi di Gavi La Caplana 2012.  Delightful, with an interesting light green melon, citrus, and fresh cut herb quality.  Refreshing, but not simple, showing some minerals on the finish.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  June 27, 2013

Felsina Chianti Colli Senesi Castello di Farnetella 2010.  Classic Sangiovese notes of dusty dried cherry and tobacco, plus licorice, smoke, and bitter chocolate.  Medium-bodied, with lively (but not obtrusive) acidity. Give this some air to open up, so that the plum flavors push out on the finish.  Drink now through 2017.  About $16.

-  June 26, 2013

Vitiano Bianco 2011 (Umbria).  Composed of half Verdicchio and half Vermentino, this used to be labeled with the actual producer of Vitiano, which is now absent on the label.  Anyway, notes of lemon, subtle nuttiness (almonds?), metal, and a pleasant hint of petroleum.  Pleasant, with good energy and solid finish for the price.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  June 25, 2013

Château Jouclary Rosé 2011 (Cabardès Protégée).  This Languedoc value is salmon/copper colored and food friendly.  Mostly blood orange flavors, plus something bitter (in a good way).  Fresh and interesting.  Made from Cabernet Franc, Grenache, and Cinsault.  Drink now.  About $12. 

-  June 24 2013

Pierre Péters Blanc de Blanc Cuvée de Réserve Champagne Non-Vintage.  From Grand Cru vineyards of Le Mesnil sur Oger comes this lively, beautiful expression of Chardonnay.  Hints of green in hue, but otherwise very clear.  Lemon curd, white flowers, blanched almond, graham cracker, and green apple notes.  Very precise beginning, then turning more powerful with air.  Fantastic.  Disgorged in February 2011.  Drink now through 2015.  About $50.

-  June 23, 2013

Château Pesquie Rosé Terrasses 2012 (Ventoux).  Beautiful.  Reminiscent of spring flowers, all manner of berries, orange rind, clover, and red apple.  Fantastic acidity and harmony, finishing with a burst of fruit and structure.  Made from 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 10% Syrah.  Drink now through 2015.  About $13.

-  June 22, 2013

Mason Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Pomelo 2011 (California).  Made in a New Zealand style, with lots of pure white grapefruit and freshly crushed herbs (thyme/chives).  Not much complexity, but very easy to like, especially on a hot summer day.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  June 6, 2013

Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2010.  Deep color, with notes of black/blue fruit, orange rind, coffee, ink, and dried herbs.  Full-bodied and rich, this is modern in style, with great concentration.  Doesn't really scream Chianti, but clearly comes from good fruit.  Drink now through 2018.  About $30.

-  June 5, 2013

Château de Campuget Rosé Tradition de Campuget 2012 (Costieres de Nimes).  Vibrant and inviting in spite of the slight cheese/soap aromas.  Lots of grapefruit, watermelon, and blood orange notes, with deft acidity.  Made from 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah.  Go on a picnic with this in your cooler.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  June 4, 2013

Calera Pinot Noir 2008 (Central Coast).  Brick red, with a hint of rust color.  Cherry cola, pine, smoke, plum, and mocha notes, this tells a great story in the mouth.  Great acidity, wonderful balance and overall harmony.  Last tasted in October 2010, this was the winner of a group tasting.  Still holding strong, so drink now through 2017.  About $23.

-  June 3, 2013

Ferraton Pére & Fils Côtes du Rhone Rosé Samorëns 2012.  Pretty color, with cranberry, raspberry, and peach scents.  Nice acidity and presence on the palate, showing watermelon flavors.  Expressive and great with food.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  June 1, 2013

Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough).  Lots of zesty, zippy lime, gooseberry, grass, and passion fruit notes that are very New Zealand.  Very easygoing and not challenging, but that's OK for this price.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  May 31, 2013

Las Rocas de San Alejandro Rosé 2012 (Calatayud).  Almost neon pink in color, this is an overtly fruity style that's reigned in by good acidity, plus an earthy note.  Raspberry and watermelon flavors, with good depth.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  May 30, 2013

Domaine d'Andezon Côtes du Rhône 2011.  Solid wild berry scents, then undergrowth, blueberry, lavender, and smoke.  Nice adicity, with a pleasing texture that shows fine tannins and balanced fruit.  Nicely done.  Drink now through 2017.  About $13.

-  May 29, 2013

Roederer Estate Brut L'Ermitage 2003 (Anderson Valley).  Lively.  Shows baked apple pie scents (including the cinnamon/nutmeg), plus citrus, bread dough, and additional red apple notes.  Full-bodied and rich, with flavors of candied orange rind, smoke, and red fruit.  Really well made, in a more oxidative style.  Drink now through 2016.  About $45.

-  May 27, 2013

Joseph Drouhin Chablis Moulin de Vaudon 2010.  Slightly green in hue, with a nose of crushed limestone, pear, and white flowers.  More of that limestone note in the mouth, plus light citrus and white peach.  Nice balance and focus, this is pleasing and easy to like.  Drink now.  About $20.

-  May 26, 2013

Château Lafite Rothschild 1999 (Pauillac).  Rich nose of dark fruit that's refined and inviting, hinting at plums, charcoal/pencil lead, dark wet soil, and roses.  Medium-bodied and extremely elegant, this comes off as a wine with everything in the right place.  Rust, tobacco, and scorched earth notes.  Graceful and effortless, with outstanding purity.  Ready now, but has enough tannin to last another ten years.  About $800.

-  May 25, 2013

Chéreau-Carré Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Château de la Chesnaie 2012.  Lemon, wet stone, and white peach notes that are clean and crisp, finishing dry.  Perfect for a hot day with a seafood salad.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  May 24, 2013

Yalumba The Signature 2001 (Barossa).  Made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Shiraz, and spends 20 months in both American and French oak.  Opaque, with a striking perfume of blackberries, vanilla, boysenberries, mocha, cassis, and melted asphalt.  Full-bodied, but not heavy, with sweet tannin, excellent balance, and wonderful persistence.  Really gorgeous.  Last tasted in March 2008.  Drink now through 2019.  About $50.

-  May 23, 2013

Dominio del Plata Crios Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Mendoza).  Freshly brewed coffee and cranberry scents frame this full-bodied value.  Showing sweet tannin, with smoke, cassis, plum, and fresh herb flavors, there's higher acidity here, but that shouldn't dissuade you.  Drink now through 2016.  About $15.

-  May 22, 2013

Senorio de Barahonda Carro 2011 (Yecla).  Complex nose, featuring dark spices (pepper/cloves), lavender, espresso, plums, cola, and licorice.  Medium-bodied, with notable acidity, but also dark fruit and mocha notes.  Energetic finish, plus great purity.  A fantastic value, this is one to buy by the case.  Drink now through 2016.  About $10.

-  May 21, 2013

Cave du Vendomois Lieu-dit Cocagne Rosé 2012 (Côteaux du Vendomois).  Made from 100% Pineau d'Aunis, this offers some smoke and stone notes to go with the predominantly red grapefruit flavors.  Super-bright,  bordering on being too tart, but manages to stay together on the darker finish.  Drink now. About $11.

-  May 20, 2013

Villa des Anges Rosé Old Vines 2012 (Pays d'Oc).  Made from 100% Cinsault from 35-40 year old vines, this light pink/salmon colored rosé is a wonderful summertime value.  Flowers, peaches, raspberries, and orange rind are all displayed on a vibrant, likeable frame.  Pair this with almost anything you would take on a picnic.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  May 19, 2013

Domaine de la Quilla Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2011.  Stony nose.  Reminiscent of meyer lemon, plus river rock and hints of oranges.  Solid.  Not outstanding, but the citrus brightness really sings on the finish.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  May 16, 2013

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Marlborough).  Fresh and inviting, with notes of key lime, clementines, gooseberry, grass, kiwi, and hints of passion fruit.  On the subtle side for a New Zealand Sauv Blanc, but the elegance is what draws you in, especially the mineral notes.  Pretty.  Drink now.  About $25.

-  May 14, 2013

McManis Viognier 2009 (California).  Light yellow color.  Complex notes of wax, peaches, melon, oranges, lychee, and oil.  Full-bodied.  Nice finish, showing good length and volume, especially for the price.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  May 13, 2013

Sierra Salinas Puerto Salinas 2009 (Alicante).  Shows a nose of freshly brewed coffee, blood/iron, and blackberries.  Surprisingly bright in acidity, with flavors of dark fruit, mocha, and smoke.  Medium to full-bodied, with admirable purity, this is also an excellent value.  Drink now through 2016.  About $16.

-  May 12, 2103

Falesco Vitiano Rosato 2012 (Umbria).  Bright orange/pink color, and exhibits no shortage of fruit (strawberries/cherries/watermelon/citrus).  Has just enough adicity, plus some slight pleasant bitterness on this finish.  An almost juicy style of rosé.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  May 11, 2013

Martín Códax Albariño 2011 (Rías Baixas).  Bright and zippy, like a squeeze of a not-so-tart lemon, plus herbs like chives and parsley.  Lots of minerals on the nose.  Begs for clams.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  May 8, 2013

Bodegas Caro Amancaya Gran Reserva 2011 (Mendoza).  Opaque purple/red.  Complex nose, starting off dusty and a bit funky, but then moves to scents of cola, anise, prune, spring flowers, cloves, and dark briary fruit.  Medium-bodied, with solid tannins in a masculine style.  Give this some air.  Made from 70% Malbec, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Drink now through 2019.  About $17.

-  May 7, 2013

Terredora DiPaolo Falanghina 2011 (Irpinia).  Very clear, featuring scents of white peaches, flowers, and minerals.  Pleasant stone fruit and apple flavors, hinting at bitter herbs on the dry finish.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  May 6, 2013

Barco de Piedra 2011 (Ribera del Duero).  Made from 100% Tempranillo.  Offers a complex nose of campfire, forest floor, cherries, licorice, and hints of leather.  Medium-bodied.  Admirable intensity and purity that grows in volume in the mouth, showing flavors of blackberry, black cherry, and ink, supported by fine tannins.  Drink now through 2018.  About $15.

-  May 2, 2013

Byron Pinot Noir 2011 (Santa Barbara County).  Deep in color, and showing great purity, with focused aromas of dark cherry, pine needles, cola, licorice, and iced tea.  Nice silky texture.  Falls a little short on finish, but is still worth recommending.  Drink now through 2015.  About $20.

-  May 1, 2013

De Morgenzon Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2012 (Western Cape).  Like a red watermelon in color, with a green quality to the nose, slightly herbal, with fresh berries.  Flavors of white peppercorn and raspberries, this is a savory style with a penchant for food.  Good structure.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  April, 30, 2013

Piazzo Chardonnay 2011 (Piemonte).  Pale yellow, with a clean, wet river rock nose, hinting at white peach and lemon zest.  Nice concentration, with good depth of citrus/tropical fruit and subtle herbal notes.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  April 28, 2013

Baron de Magaña 2007 (Navarra). Plush, rich texture supports flavors of ink, leather, charcoal, and spices, along with lots of blue/black fruit (blueberry, prunes, wild blackberry, and plums).  Long, fruit-filled finish.  Really well crafted.  Spends 14 months in French oak.  Made from 35% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Tempranillo, and 10% Syrah.  Drink now through 2018.  About $22.

-  April 25, 2013

Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot Canoe Ridge Estate 2010 (Horse Heaven Hills).  Effusive nose of deep plum and black cherry scents, plus freshly brewed coffee and vanilla.  Plump, satiny texture, with resonant dark fruit, burning ember, and mocha flavors.  Long finish, and admirable purity.  Drink now through 2017.  About $25.

-  April 24, 2013

Portal do Fidalgo Alvarinho 2010 (Vinho Verde).  Vibrant nose of crushed limestone and citrus rind. Not especially complex or intriguing, but pleasing with its mineral/tangerine profile.  Bring on the seafood.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  April 23, 2013

Castaño Molino Loco 2011 (Yecla).  Made from 80% Monastrell and 20% Syrah, this value red shows outstanding density for not much money.  Black, briary fruit, as well as charcoal, espresso, and hints of anise.  Real focus and flavor for the price.  Drink now through 2015.  About $9.

-  April 22, 2013

Domaine Houchart Rosé 2012 (Côtes de Provence).  Appealing pink-copper color, and offering notes of raspberry, peach, oranges, and flowers.  Pleasing, almost sharp acidity that keeps you coming back for more.  Made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvedre.  Really enjoyable, and consistent over the years.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  April 21, 2013

Gallo Pinot Noir Signature Series 2010 (Santa Lucia Highlands).  Pretty, dark garnet color.  Effusive, with showy cherry and plum fruit, plus good vanilla and mocha shadings.  A nice herbal and stone quality on the finish, where the acidity keeps everything in check.  A bigger style, at nearly 15% alcohol.  Drink now through 2017.  About $25.

-  April 20, 2013

Cesari Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore Mara 2010.  Classic in style, with ink, cola, anise, tobacco, and charcoal notes, plus hints of leather.  Medium-bodied.  A real kick on the finish of both structure and dried fruit.  Ready now, but will last through 2018.  About $20

-  April 19, 2013

Inama Soave Classico 2011.  A lovely Soave, with white peach, lemon, fresh herb qualities.  Supple, fresh, and pretty.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  April 18, 2013

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough).  Lime zest and lime juice, plus hints of passion fruit, orange, gooseberry, and grass.  Fun and inviting.  Very New Zealand, in the positive sense of it.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  April 17, 2013

Feudo Arancio Grillo Stemmari 2011 (Sicilia).  A pleasant, cheap, everyday white, showing no flaws, with modest proportions.  Floral nose, with fresh herbs and Meyer lemon notes.  Drink right away.  About $8.

-  April 16, 2013

Trentadue Merlot La Storia 2010 (Alexander Valley).  Loaded with plump blackberry, plum, cocoa, and cassis notes.  A more dense, decently structured Merlot, finishing with a peppery hint.  Good texture.  Drink now through 2016.  About $25.

-  April 15, 2013

Telmo Rodriquez Basa 2011 (Rueda).  Refreshing and bright, with focused notes of lemon and lime peel, almonds, white peaches, and subtle grassy hints.  Nicely balanced.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  April 14, 2013

Izadi Viura Rioja 2010.  Made from 80% Viura, with 20% Malvasia.  Intriguing nose, with a medicinal/herbal quality, plus hints of green olive that also show on the palate.  Clean and with good concentration, this builds to reveal some intensity on the finish.  Drink now through 2015.  About $15.

-  April 13, 2013

Dominio del Plata Rosé of Malbec 2012 (Mendoza).  A pretty light red color, showing a flashy brightness in the glass.  The nose suggests a bunch of wildflowers, plus watermelon and raspberries.  Good depth and vibrancy, especially on the finish, where some nice herbal shadings are evident.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  April 11, 2013

Honig Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Napa Valley).  Expressive nose of dark plums and black cherry, with a little bit of coffee.  Medium to full-bodied, showing a bright attack, then moves to a voluminous mid-palate of more dark fruit and mocha notes, with ripe tannins on the finish.  For a Napa Cab, this is an outstanding value.  Drink now through 2018.  About $40.

-  April 10, 2013

Domaine Lafage Côte Est 2011 (Côtes Catalanes).  Made from 50% Grenache Blanc, 30% Chardonnay, and 20% Marsanne, this unusual white blend has plenty of verve and freshness.  Notes of orange blossom, green melon, white flowers, crushed rocks, and limes.  Fantastic value.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  April 8, 2013

Magaña Dignus 2007 (Navarra).  Deep color.  Black/blue fruits on the nose (especially plums), plus licorice and freshly brewed coffee.  Tasty.  Great balance and energy, with ripe, fine tannins.  The blueberry notes really sing on the finish.  Excellent value.  Drink now through 2018.  About $17.

-  April 7, 2013

Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco 2011 (Dolomiti).  With a nose of crushed limestone, this also hints at lime zest and tangerine.  Shows real purity and focus in the mouth to the expressive ripe citrus flavors, but also notes of mango and guava.  Great zesty acidity holds this together, and keeps you coming back for more.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  April 6, 2013

Damilano Barolo Lecinquevigne 2008.  Light ruby color.  Really gorgeous nose, super elegant, and filled with roses, plus mint and hints of mushroom.  Good attack, long finish, and very pretty.  Seductive.  Finishes with fine tannins and acidity that are balanced and refreshing.  Drink now through 2018.  About $42.

-  April 5, 2013

Schramsburg Blanc de Blancs 2009 (North Coast).  Bread dough, candied ginger, apple pie, and lemon zest notes on a vibrant frame.  Shows some richness (and some spice) on the long finish.  Really holds your interest.  Ready now, but will last for another few years.  About $30.

-  April 4, 2013

Olivier Leflaive Les Sétilles Bourgogne Blanc 2010.  Very clear.  Shows scents of green apple, limestone, hints of mint, and no oak.  Clean and bright, with very subtle butterscotch shades on the finish.  Uncomplicated without being innocuous.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  April 3, 2013

Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf du Pape 2010.  Filled with smoke scents, along with spices (mostly black pepper), cherry, seaweed/iodine.  More pepper in the mouth, plus cranberry and blueberry flavors.  Dark, intense and deep, but not heavy, with youthful, ripe tannins on the finish. Good now, but will be better in a couple of years.  About $45.

-  April 1, 2013

Domaine du Tariquet Classic Blanc 2011 (Côtes de Gascogne).  Dry and zippy, with green apple, pear, sugar cane, and floral notes.  Finishes with a kaffir lime kick.  Refreshing and enjoyable, for very little money.  Made from 45% Ugni Blanc, 35% Colombard, 10% Sauvignon Blanc, and 10% Gros Manseng.  Drink now.  About $8.

-  March 31, 2013

Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Napa Valley).  Opaque.  Plush, dense, and wonderfully fruity, but also scents of tobacco, leather, and black earth.  Dominated by plum and black cherry flavors, along with eucalyptus.  Full-bodied, with moderate tannin level.  Great right now, but will hold for another 3-4 years.  About $40.

-  March 30, 2013

Columna Albariño 2011 (Rias Baixas).  Green-yellow in color, with notes of green melon, red apple, honey, and hints of rubber glove.  Elegant but also concentrated in flavor, with an intriguing character to it.  Made from vines planted in 1978.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  March 29, 2013

Charles de Cazanove Brut Champagne Non-Vintage.  Lots of white grapefruit, wheat biscuit, and red berry notes on a solid, structured frame.  Ends with a lingering notion of spices and hints of rhubarb.  Moderate intensity, but holds your interest with its length.  Drink now.  About $38.

-  March 24, 2013

Bodegas Vinae Mureri Xiloca Garnacha 2011 (Ribera del Jiloca).  Young and easygoing, with a light ruby color.  Notions of forest floor to go with the cherry and plum notes.  Made for early pleasure.  About $10.

-  March 15, 2013

El Coto de Rioja Imaz Reserva 2005.  Deep ruby in color, and offers plenty of new oak scents, with hints of cream, tart cherry, tobacco, and black pepper.  Medium-bodied, with high, but pleasing acidity that carry the predominantly cherry flavors.  Ends with a lasting impression of spice.  Drink now through 2016.  About $22.

-  March 8, 2013

Domaine de la Janasse Côtes du Rhône Villages Terre d'Argile 2010.  Smoke, seaweed, espresso, meat, and bitter chocolate scents emerge from this dark colored beauty from vineyards next to Chateauneuf du Pape.  Dense and powerful, showing real class and focus, with dark fruit and mocha notes.  Excellent intensity and tasty tannins for the price.  Made from 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 30% Mourvedre. Good now, but will be better in a year or two, and will last through 2019.  About $23.

-  March 3, 2013

La Cartuja 2011 (Priorat).  Composed of 71% Garnacha plus 30% Cariñena, and offering scents of smoke and flowers.  There's brightness to this, bordering on zippy, with flavors of red berry, licorice, black plums, and charcoal.  Great depth for the price.  Drink now through 2016.  About $15.

-  March 2, 2013

Domaine Giraud Chateauneuf du Pape Tradition 2009.  A deep, succulent, and resonant wine filled with fantastic cherry/blueberry notes that are pure and effortless.  Full-bodied, extracted, and very, very long.  Hints of cinnamon and clove.  Outstanding.  Drink now through 2025.  About $50.

-  February 24, 2013

Famille Perrin Vinsobres Les Cornuds 2010.  Really well-made, with black tea, graphite, dark fruit, and smoke notes.  Lots of acidity, but stays on the right side of being tart, with great definition and texture.  Give this some time in the glass (or decant) before drinking.  Great now, but will last another 6 years.  About $18.

-  February 22, 2013

Bodegas Vetus Flor de Vetus 2009 (Toro).  Penetrating aromas of milk chocolate, red/black cherries, and fresh coffee. Beautiful, velvety texture, with excellent density and length.  The minerality and beef blood notes really sing on the finish.  Drink now through 2018.  About $16.

-  February 21 ,2013

Thierry Massin Blanc de Noirs Selection Champagne Non-Vintage.  Reminiscent of small red berries and lemon peel, this 100% Pinot Noir from a small producer is very elegant, with lots of zippy acidity and verve.  Lively bead, and very good length.  Opens up to reveal bread dough and wheat thin notes with time.  Ready now, but will be fine in a few years also.  About $40.

-  February 20, 2013

Chateau Bellevue La Forêt 2011 (Fronton).  A tasty rosé made from 60% Negrette, 20% Gamay, 10% Syrah, and 10% Cabernet Franc.  Crisp and full of raspberry, lemon, cherry, and hints of spice.  Inviting.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  February 19, 2013

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Marlborough).  Very New Zealand, offering expressive notes of gooseberry, grapefruit, and grassy notes.  Slightly better than your average, with nice definition and volume.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  February 18, 2013

Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli 1997.  Excellent focus on the nose, with tobacco, cherry, cola, lavender, and date scents.  Medium-bodied, and really beautiful in the mouth, with great intensity and waves of flavor.  Seamless.  Extremely long finish.  Fantastic Brunello.  At it's peak, but will last for another 5 years.  About $175.

-  February 17, 2013

Piper-Heidsick Brut Champagne Non-Vintage.  There's some nuttiness to go along with the red berries, bread dough, red apple, and toffee notes.  Bordering on hefty in weight, with very good purity and a lengthy finish.  One of my favorite regular non-vintage Champagnes.  Drink now.  About $40.

-  February 12, 2013

St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Napa Valley).  Greenish in tint and extremely New Zealand in style, with loads of gooseberry, grass, clementine, and lime notes.  Zesty, bright, with slightly more body than most, this throws down great white grapefruit flavors.  Thirst quenching.  Drink now.  About $16.

-  February 11, 2013

Montes Pinot Noir Limited Selection 2009 (Casablanca Valley).  A bit funky, but also good bright cherry, tobacco, cola, and lavender notes.  Supple texture, in a lighter style, finishing with mocha flavors.  Drink now.  About $16.

-  February 10, 2013

K Vintners Syrah Wahluke Slope 2007 (Columbia Valley).  White pepper and flowers to go with the dark fruit and incense notes.  Full-bodied, with plushness and supportive acidity at the same time.  Briary notes come out on the finish, along with freshly brewed coffee.  Not as good as the previous vintage, but still well-done.  Drink now through 2019.  About $30.

-  February 9, 2013

Bonny Doon Vineyard Grenache Clos de Gilroy 2010 (Central Coast).  Made from 75% Grenache, 12% Syrah, and 13% Cinsault in a Southern Rhone style, with lots of dried herb and dusty cherry qualities.  Smoke, pencil lead, pepper, and notions of blackberry, with definite power and focus.  Very French in style.  Drink with cassoulet.  Ready now, but will last another 6 years.  About $20.

-  February 8, 2013

Cantina del Taburno Falanghina del Sannio 2011.  Smells and tastes likes the essence of crushed limestone and minerals.  Hints of honey and clementines as it warms, but the stone quality really stands out.  Fascinating, and very clean.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  February 5, 2013

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2012.  Jumps from the glass with aromas of key lime, passion fruit, and kiwi.  Mostly gooseberry in the mouth with hints of grass, and some honey on the finish.  Bright, zesty, but well-balanced and juicy.  Not your average New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  Drink now.  About $16.

-  February 4, 2013

Four Vines Anarchy 2006 (Paso Robles).  A blend of 32% Syrah, 32% Zinfandel, and 36% Mourvedre, made in a ripe, potent style.  Mocha, prunes, blueberry, and cola aromas come before a dense, smoky palate.  Full-bodied, with enough acidity to keep it together.  15% alcohol.  Great with barbecue.  Drink now through 2017.  About $33.

-  February 3, 2013

Magellan Rosé Le Fruit Défendu 2011 (Vin de Pays de L'Hérault).  Brisk, in a clean, precise style.  Raspberry, cherry, hint of citrus, and ending with some dark spice notes. Better for the summer.  About $11.

-  February 1, 2013

Poggio al Tesoro Sondraia 2007 (Bolgheri).  Made from 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc, this is a dark colored, international-styled Tuscan blend.  Plums, flowers, freshly brewed coffee, licorice, and hints of eucalyptus on the nose.  Fleshy in the mouth, with plenty of dark cherry and mocha notes.  Richly executed, and could use a touch more acidity on the long finish, but is still outstanding.  Ready now, but will hold for another 8 years.  About $35.

-  January 31, 2013

Mer Soleil Unoaked Chardonnay Silver 2011 (Santa Lucia Highlands).  Slightly greenish hue.  Flowers, tropical fruit, and grass on the nose, turning to mostly citrus on the palate.  Bright, but well-balanced, with a solid finish.  Enjoyable.  Drink now.  About $20.

-  January 30, 2013

Cascina Ballarin Di Viberti Luigi E Figli Cino 2010 (Langhe Rosso).  Very dusty nose, plus cherry and lavender notes.  Youthful and fresh, with tart cherry and pine needle flavors, ending in creamy butterscotch.  Zesty acidity that's made for food.  Contains 20% Nebbiolo, 40% Barbera, 40% Dolcetto.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  January 10, 2013

Artazuri Garnacha Rosé 2011 (Navarra).  Very red in color for a rosé (very Spanish).  Slightly funky nose, but also lots of blood orange scents.  Great acidity to support the juicy cherry and raspberry flavors, with a nice lingering finish.  Goes with anything.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  January 9, 2013

Domaine la Grand Ribe Côtes du Rhone Villages Cuvée Centenaire 2009.  Made from old, organic vines, this smells of smoke, lavender, coffee, and blue/red fruits.  An iron streak runs through the tasty fruit and provençal herb qualities, with great energy and focus.  Wonderful mid-palate.  An really good value.  Drink now through 2017.  About $15.

-  January 4, 2013

Bodegas Naia Las Brisas 2011 (Rueda).  Smells and tastes like white grapefruit/pomelo.  Extremely zesty and invigorating, with hints of guava.  Not complex, but a bright and lively drink.  About $12.

-  January 3, 2013

Gaja Sperss 1997 (Langhe).  Pretty perfume of truffles and cherries float from this benchmark bottling from the Piedmont (really, a Barolo).  Flavors of licorice, fennel, tar, and cherries on a dense, structured frame.  Extracted and powerful, but gets more elegant as it breathes.  A fantastic wine, with impeccable balance.  Ready now, but will last for at least another 15 years.  About $450.

-  January 2, 2013

Bodegas Breca Breca 2010 (Calatayud).  Incense and black plum aromas emerge from fabulously rich, full-bodied, and lushly textured 100% Garnacha from old vines.  Gushes with blackberry, blueberry, and milk chocolate flavors that are at full volume.  For the hedonist crowd.  Drink now through 2017.  About $15.

-  December 31, 2012

Below are David's top 10 wine recommendations of the year, selected for sheer quality and/or value:

#1  -  K Vintners Syrah Milbrandt Wahluke Slope 2006 (Columbia Valley). 

#2  -  Louis Roederder Cristal Champagne 1997. 

#3  -  Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2004 (Napa Valley).

#4  -  Cade Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Howell Mountain).  

#5  -  Numanthia-Termes Numanthia 2001 (Toro). 

#6  -  Ridge Lytton Springs 2008 (Dry Creek Valley). 

#7  -  Dosnon & Lepage Champagne Recolte Noire Non-Vintage.

#8  -  H. Billiot Fils Brut Reserve Champagne Non-Vintage.

#9  -  Andrew Will Cabernet Franc 2010 (Columbia Valley). 

#10  -  Chateau La Dame Blanche 2010 (Bordeaux). 


-  December 30, 2012

Planeta La Segreta Bianco 2009 (Sicily).  Strikingly yellow in color, and offering notions of ripe pear, wax, red apples, and melon.  Generous and plump in texture, with enough acidity to hold it together.  Made from 50% Grecanico, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Viognier, and 10% Fiano.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  December 28, 2012

Cantina di Soave Garganega/Pinot Grigio Duca del Frassino 2011 (Venezie).  This outstanding value in a boxed white from northern Italy is straw-yellow in color, with notions of white peach, braeburn apples, and lemon.  Forward in style.  Displays excellent freshness and energy, and is great for an everyday quaff.  80% Garganega.  Drink now.  About $20/3L.

-  December 26, 2012

Espelt Garnacha Old Vines 2010 (Emporda).  Soft and approachable at the start, but moves along with decent structure.  Lots of purity to the cherry, licorice, and floral notes.  Great value.  Drink now through 2015.  About $11.

-  December 25, 2012

Juvé & Camps Brut Rosé Cava Non-Vintage.  Made from Pinot Noir, this is strikingly red in color, with aromas of red roses and mandarin orange rind. Shows good heft, and lots of cherry/raspberry flavors  in the mouth.  Nice vein of minerality on the finish.  Drink now.  About $18.

-  December 23, 2012

Domaine Barville Chateauneuf Du Pape Optimum 2010.  There's a freshness to the nose, suggesting pinecone, as well as a dense blueberry quality.  Begins with fleshy dark cherry liqueur flavors, turning to espresso, lavender, and seaweed.  Deep and almost brooding, with resonant, long finish.  Great now, but will last at least another ten years.  About $50.

-  December 20, 2012

Célestin-Blondeau Sancerre Cuvée des Moulins Bales 2010.  Very pleasing aromas of honey, limes, clementines, and grass.  Pretty and expressive.  Kiwi and passion fruit, with hints of green olive on a supple but structured frame.  Great crispness on the finish.  Really enjoyable.  Drink now through 2014.  About $21.

-  December 18, 2012

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Knights Valley).  Dark purple.  Soft, but not at all flabby due to solid acidity.  Shows plum, black cherry, cola, mocha, and vanilla notes.  Not as good as the 2009, but well-made, with a great finish, and in a true-to-form BKV style.  Drink now through 2017.  About $24.

-  December 17, 2012

Dosnon & Lepage Champagne Recolte Noire Non-Vintage.  Smelling of clementines, honey, and fresh ginger, this 100% Pinot Noir is sourced from the Côte de Bar.  Medium-bodied, powerful, and fascinating, made in a vinous style.  Sails along in the mouth with coffee, red apple, almond, and red berry notes.  Turns spicy on the long finish.  Not a delicate bubbly.  Drink now through 2014.  About $45.

-  December 16, 2012

Bodegas Breca Garnacha de Fuego Old Vines 2011 (Calatayud).  Plenty of cherry liqueur flavors, but also licorice candy, smoke, and orange rind.  Excellent purity.  Not super-complex, but very easy to like, especially for the price.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  December 15, 2012

Perrin Cotes du Rhone Blanc Reserve 2011.  Slightly dusty aromas, with hints of wax and petroleum (in a good way), but it's also got fresh notes of green apple.  Bright and energetic in the mouth, featuring cantaloupe and kiwi fruit flavors, with friendly texture.  A excellent value.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  December 9, 2012

Chateau Bonnet Blanc 2011 (Bordeaux).  Made from 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, and 40% Muscadelle, this is fresh and inviting, with a easygoing manner.  Great purity to the kaffir lime, grass, and green melon notes.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  December 8, 2012

Tenuta della Terre Nere Santo Spirito 2008 (Etna Rosso).  Ruby colored, and offering a floral, uplifting nose reminiscent of Nebbiolo.  Dense and powerful in the mouth, with wonderful intensity.  Cherry, tar, cocoa, powder, black tea, and cranberry notes.  Decant now, or wait a couple of years, and with last through 2020.  About $40.

-  December 6, 2012

Villa San Juliette Petite Sirah 2010 (Paso Robles).  Opaque purple/red and a dark, inky nose.  Rich blueberry, blackberry fruit, along with espresso and cola.  Firm, dense finish that throws out some teeth gripping tannins.  Fine now, but will evolve for another five years.  About $15.

-  December 5, 2012

Georges DuBoeuf Pouilly Fuisse Flower Label 2010.  Shy nose, hinting at coconut water and limes.  Medium-bodied, with good acidity.  Very approachable, with notes of green apple and melon.  Not complex, but delivers good, easy Chardonnay character.  Drink right away.  About $18.

-  December 4, 2012

Chateau Tanunda Shiraz Grand Barossa 2009 (Barossa).  Pipe tobacco, freshly brewed coffee, and vanilla on the nose.  Medium to full-bodied, and strikes an elegant balance to the rich plum and briary notes.  Peppery finish. Drink now through 2016.  About $20.

-  December 3, 2012

Domaine de la Charbonnière Chateauneuf Du Pape 2007.  The "basic" bottling from this producer is undeniably more than just entry level.  A bit shy on the nose, with iodine/seaweed notes, but powerful and dense in the mouth, with classic cherry liqueur flavors, along with hints of dried herbs and red berry.  Solid balance and purity.  Drink now through 2019.  About $40.

-  December 2, 2012

H. Billiot Fils Brut Reserve Champagne Non-Vintage.  From Grand Cru vineyards comes this golden colored beauty, featuring scents of bread dough, honey, and orange marmalade.  Smooth, but full of flavor, with notes of butterscotch and red apple.  Shows lots of character.  Disgorged in June 2011.  Drink now through 2014.  About $50.

-  November 28, 2012

Cellars Unió Llicorella Selecció 2002 (Priorat).  Licorice, burning ember, river rock, and dark fruit scents.  Shows great density of flavor, with a muscular tone to it, but also some zesty acidity on the finish.  Dark and mysterious.  Made from 40% Grenache, 40% Carignan, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Drink now through 2016.  About $25.

-  November 25, 2012

Las Rocas de San Alejandro Red Blend 2009 (Calatayud).  Bright and dripping with effusive cherry flavors, with bits of smoke, blueberry, and caramel.  Not long or particularly intriguing, but shows admirable purity, and is an outstanding value.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  November 23, 2012

Tait The Ball Buster 2010 (Barossa Valley).  Big and rich, this overflows with dark and red fruit, plus smoke, vanilla, coffee, and tobacco notes.  Lengthy finish that's propped up by balanced acidity.  Careful, this is 15.3% alcohol.  Made from 77% Syrah, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Merlot.  Drink now through 2016.  About $20.

-  November 21, 2012

Viberti Chardonnay 2010 (Piemonte).  Clean and precise nose (Clorox?).  Richer in the mouth, but still carries and effortless quality, with melon, green apple, and citrus notes.  Minerals on the finish.  Drink now.  About $20.

-  November 19, 2012

Domaine de Fondrèche Persia 2009 (Ventoux).  Opaque red.  Smoke, hoisin sauce, charcoal, and black fruit scents.  Displays fantastic elegance initially, then turns powerful and dense, with ink, licorice, and cassis flavors.  Dark.  Made from 90% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre.  Give this time and/or air.  Try in 2015.  About $30.

-  November 15, 2012

Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc / Semillion 2011 (Margaret River).  Fresh and flowery nose, but richer in the mouth, featuring ripe pear, green melon, grass, and peach flavors.  Hints of spices on the finish.  Full in texture, but with balanced acidity.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  November 14, 2012

Jim Barry Shiraz The Lodge Hill 2010 (Clare Valley).  Opaque purple.  Dark notes of tar, blueberry, blackberry, and espresso, but also plenty of vanilla, then cola/cough syrup.  Full-bodied, with enough acidity on the finish to keep it together.  Drink now through 2015.  About $15.

-  November 12, 2012

Finca Allende 2004 (Rioja).  Unfiltered.  Vibrant and precise, with notions of blueberry, cherry, tobacco, and smoke.  Understated, yet builds in the mouth to show great focus and concentration.  Ready now through 2017.  About $25.

-  November 10, 2012

Cade Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Howell Mountain).  Fantastic, generous nose that offers scents of white flowers, burning ember, black fruit, and hints of anise.  Full-bodied and palate-saturating, with a lasting impression of dark chocolate, blackberry, charcoal, and coffee.  Impressive.  Drink now through 2020.  About $70.

-  November 7, 2012

Chateau Ste. Michelle Red Blend 2010 (Columbia Valley).  Soft and approachable, but also expressive, with a good mix of plum, black cherry, anise, and freshly brewed coffee notes.  Full-bodied.  Finishes with a touch of cream and pepper spice.  Made from 60% Merlot, 28% Syrah, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Grenache, 2% Malbec, .5% Cinsaut, and .5% Mourvedre.  Drink now.  About $18.

-  November 5, 2012

Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Riff 2010 (Delle Venezie Terra Alpina).  A crushed shell streak runs through this consistent value from far northern Italy.  Clementine, green apple, and and hints of peach on a modest and easy frame.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  November 4, 2012

Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2009 (Veneto).   Brisk and exuberant compared to previous vintages, but also the same dried fruit and licorice notes, plus plums and cola.  Same fantastic intensity and value.  Always an amazing wine.  Ready now, but will hold another 5 years.  About $20.

-  November 3, 2012

Maculan Pinot & Toi 2010 (Veneto).  Made from 60% Tocai, 25% Pinot Bianco, and 15% Pinot Grigio.  Smells and tastes green initially, then changes to oranges, gala apples, and coriander.  Nice acidity.  Easygoing.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  November 1, 2012

Andrew Will Cabernet Franc 2010 (Columbia Valley).  Bright, but earthy scents that include cherry, tobacco, flowers, and hints of ground coffee.  Starts with eucalyptus and pine needles in the mouth, then blueberry and spice on the finish.  Fine tannins, medium-body, and a vibrant, but sticky character.  Grows in the glass, so give it time after you open it.  Drink now through 2018.  About $25.

-  October 31, 2012

Isabel Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Marlborough).  Very grassy nose, but also white peach.  More like tropical fruit on the palate (green guava/passion fruit), plus limes on the finish.  Nice definition and focus.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  October 30, 2012

Concha Y Toro Carmenere Gran Reserva 2010 (Peumo).  Rich purple color with striking aromas of cherry, smoke, dark wet earth, and shitake mushroom.  Forward and accessible, with nice chocolate and espresso notes to go with the dark fruit.  Drink now through 2014.  About $15.

-  October 27, 2012

St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Napa Valley).  Jumps out of the glass and screams, "gooseberry!"  Also grass, limes, and kiwi notes.  Bright acidity keeps it all together.  Fun to drink.  Ready now.  About $15.

-  October 26, 2012

Croney Estates Sauvignon Blanc Three Ton 2010 (Marlborough).  Zippy and inviting, with hints of petroleum to go with the abundant gooseberry flavors.  Better to let this one warm up, so that more of the passion fruit and lime notes come out.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  October 25, 2012

Chateau La Dame Blanche 2010 (Bordeaux).  Medium to full-bodied, with great intensity, length, and verve, this is an unusual Sauvignon Blanc.  Features pineapple, coconut, apricot, and melon notes that pack a punch.  Surprising.  Drink now.  About $15. 

-  October 24, 2012

Tomassi Rompicollo Poggio Al Tufo 2010 (Maremma).  Licorice, dusty book, black cherry, cola, and dried fruit notes.  Medium-bodied, food friendly, and approachable but not flabby, this is a tasty Tuscan value of solid proportions.  Drink now through 2015.  About $15.

-  October 23 ,2012

Louis Roederer Brut Champagne Non-Vintage.  Smells surprisingly bright compared to previous bottles, with notions of white grapefruit, fresh dough, and hints of butterscotch.  Elegant and sophisticated, with baked apple pie, tart berry, and citrus flavors.  Solid structure could use another year of aging.  About $40.

-  October 21, 2012

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2004 (Napa Valley).  Fantastic purity on the nose, with scents of cassis, brown sugar, blackberry, lavender, and French oak, that are really beautiful.  Full-bodied, and just plain delicious, with a voluptuous texture that support harmonious flavors of black cherry/currant/freshly brewed coffee.  Remains elegant as well as powerful on the long finish.  Ready now, but will last another 10 year for its sheer volume.  About $100.

-  October 17, 2012

Chateau Nicot 2011 (Entre-Deux-Mers).  Looks and smells green, with notions of lime and grass on the nose.  Zippy and inviting, this would make an excellent aperitif.  Gooseberry, cucumber, and parsley flavors.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  October 14, 2012

Dunning Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Westside Estate 2007 (Paso Robles).  Deep in color, and offering effusive scorched earth and eucalyptus scents.  Medium-bodied, very toasty in profile (espresso, charred wood), with cassis under it all.  Solid execution.  Drink now through 2015.  About $30.

-  October 13, 2012

Lucien et André Brunel Châteauneuf du Pape Les Cailloux 2007.  Fantastic intensity, with plenty of fruit, this is loaded with cherry flavor, but also seaweed, licorice, and herbs.  Masculine finish, but plush in texture, with a burst of blueberry and cola flavors on the finish.  Drink now through 2018.  About $40.

-  October 12, 2012

Jean-Paul Brun Beaujolais Terres Dorees Vieilles Vignes 2010.  Shows great purity and focus to the cherry and red grapefruit flavors, with hints of sweet tobacco and smoke.  Not in the top tier of Beaujolais, but very well-made.  Drink now through 2014.  About $17.

-  October 11, 2012

Scharffenberger Brut Excellence Non-Vintage (Mendocino County).  Stays lively even though the darker notes of roasted nuts, coffee, berry, and red apple dominate.  Has a more toasty, masculine quality than previous bottlings.  Great length, and a fantastic value.  Drink now.  About $20.

-  October 10, 2012

Domaine Lafage Chardonnay Novellum 2011 (Vin de Pays D'Oc).  A touch of cream that pairs well with ripe pear, apricot, and honeysuckle flavors, ending with welcome minerality.  With just a touch of oak, this medium-bodied value should make fans of richer Chard happy.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  October 9, 2012

Marchesi di Barolo Barbera d'Alba Ruvei 2008.  Shows a feminine side, with notions of red roses, cherry, and lavender.  Supple, with bright but balanced acidity.  Hints of cinnamon spice on the finish.  Drink now through 2015.  About $15.

-  September 27, 2012

Falesco Est! Est!! Est!!! Di Montefiascone 2010.  Very clear, with hints of green, this is a light-bodied, fresh, quaffable white.  Notions of green melon, fresh herbs, pear, and hints of citrus.  Nicely made, from 60% Trebbiano, 30% Malvasia, and 10% Roscetto.  Drink now.  About $9.

-  September 26, 2012

Guigal Côtes du Rhone Rosé 2011.  Watermelon and minerals on the nose, moving to pink guava and raspberry in the mouth. Refreshing, not super complex, but definitely worthwhile.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  September 23, 2012

Zenato Ripassa Valpollicella Superiore 2008.  Inky in color and aroma.  Wild berries, cola, prunes, and tar flavors that are full-throttle, but with great acidity.  Finishes long, with an iodine note.  Drink now through, 2016.  About $22.

-  September 22, 2012

Numanthia-Termes Numanthia 2001 (Toro).  Shows wonderful power, elegance, and sophistication all at the same time.  Coffee, cherry, anise, lavender, and blackberry flavors come across with superlative harmony.  Long, long finish.  A beautiful wine, at the perfect age.  About $65.

-  September 21, 2012

CARM Superior 2008 (Douro).  Plenty of dark fruit and licorice scents from this medium-bodied value from Portugal.  Cola, exotic spices, figs, blackberries, and hints of briar on the palate.  Vibrant, pleasing character, with great density of flavor.  Made from Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and Touriga Nacional.  Drink now through 2015.  About $15.

-  September 20, 2012

Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Columbia Valley).  Velvety texture, with good acidity for structure, holding up the black currant, dark plum, coffee, tobacco, and cherry flavors.  Finishes strong.  A good value for this winery's intro Cab.  Drink now through 2015.  About $15.

-  September 19, 2012

Jean-Paul Brun Beaujolais Blanc Terres Dorees 2010.  Shows precision, with notes of white flowers, peaches, lemon, and lots of limestone.  Bright but with good fruit and definition.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  September 18, 2012

Domaine de Nizas Rosé 2011 (Languedoc).  Made from 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre.  Starts off very fruity on the attack (strawberries/raspberries), then turns spicy and dry on the finish.  Soft in texture, with hints of orange peel.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  September 17, 2012

Vindemio Imagine 2010 (Ventoux).  Made from equal parts Grenache and Syrah, this southern Rhone red is fantastic for the price.  Dense nose of black pepper, iron shavings, and black fruit.  Young and powerful, like Gabriel Garcia Bernal.  Intense, with notions of black licorice, blackberry, incense, and blueberry.  Fine tannins that provide lots of grip on the long, long finish.  Needs time.  Try in 2015.  About $23.

-  September 14, 2012

Herencia Altés Garnatxa Negra 2011 (Terra Alta).  A hedonistic wine that overflows with cherry liqueur, smoke, blackberry, dark spice, and cream notes.  Terrific purity, and great density for the price.  Lots of licorice and coffee flavors emerge with time.  Drink now through 2016.  About $10.

-  September 13, 2012

Joel Gott Pinot Gris 2010 (Willamette Valley).  Clean and fresh, showing lots of minerality to go with the lime peel, lemongrass, and fresh herb notes.  Finishes with more chalk/slate flavors.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  September 11, 2012

Beringer Meritage 2008 (Knights Valley).  Made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec.  Throws off deep, rich scents of dark cherry, black plums, vanilla, and mocha.  Full-bodied, with terrific intensity, admirable freshness and length.  Cassis, charcoal, tobacco, and incense on the finish.  Great stuff.  Ready now, but will last until 2018.  About $25.

-  September 10, 2012

Arnoux & Fils Rosé Vieux Clocher 2011 (Côtes du Rhone).  Peach/light red color, with earthy aromatics that include dust and mushroom.  Much brighter in the mouth, exhibiting focused raspberry, blood orange, and cherry flavors.  Nice uplift on the finish.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  September 9, 2012

Vinas del Cenit Venta Mazzaron 2009 (Castilla Y Leon).  Made from 100% Tempranillo, and showing great purity to the cherry/blueberry fruit, but also smoke, cola, and dark tobacco.  Plump and inviting, with a friendly character that's backed up by ripe structure.  Drink now through 2016.  About $14.

-  September 8, 2012

Château La Touche Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie Cuvée Choisie Vieilles Vignes 2010.  Solid, with notes of lemon, limestone, spring flowers, and sea salt.  Energetic.  Demands oysters.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  September 7, 2012

Bodegas Atalaya Laya 2010 (Almansa).  Made from 70% Garnacha Tintorera, with 30% Monastrell, and showing cherry licorice, smoke, and bacon fat scents.  Juicy in the mouth (cherries/plums/blueberries), and made in a soft, forward style without much grip.  A tasty value.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  September 6, 2012

Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port.  Loaded with notions of dried figs, hazelnuts/almonds, caramel, plums, flowers, and butterscotch.  Rich, but also focused and showing great vibrancy.  A very fine example of a 10 year tawny.  About $32.

-  September 5, 2012

Vignerons de Correns Rosé Croix de Basson 2011 (Côtes de Provence).  Very light blushing red in color, with a lightly floral, pink grapefruit nose.  Surprisingly juicy in the mouth, showing favors of peaches and grapefruit.  Easygoing and forward.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  August 31, 2012

Bodegas Emilio Moro Finca Resalso 2009 (Ribera del Duero).  Made from 100% Tinto Fino, this offers very good density of flavor for the price, with notions of violets, black plums, smoke, cherries, and charred earth.  High extraction, medium-body, and made for the short term.  About $15.

-  August 30, 2012

Mohua Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Marlborough).  A classic New Zealand Sauv Blanc, with lots of gooseberry, lime, green guava, and pea shoot notes.  Some nice tropical fruit on the nose.  Not the most complex, but has no flaws, with zippy acidity.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  August 28, 2012

Ridge Lytton Springs 2008 (Dry Creek Valley).  Made from 75% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah, and 5% Carignane.  Offers beautiful scents of spring flowers, prunes, cola, incense, and licorice.  A fantastic mouthful of Zin flavor, with a briary edge to the black fruit, vanilla, red roses, and spice notes.  Medium-bodied, elegant, and powerful at the same time, leaving a lasting impression.  Seamless.  Ready now, but will carry on for another 8 years.  About $30.

-  August 26, 2012

Chateau Bonnet Rosé 2011 (Bordeaux).  Made from equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and offering a fun, fruity personality.  With a wealth of cherry and plum fruit, this is made for hedonistic, early consumption, without contemplation.  Has just enough acidity to keep it going.  About $10.

-  August 25, 2012

Les Lauzeraies Rosé 2011 (Tavel).  This is a pretty, light red colored rosé, showing real class and balance.  Ripe red berries are offset by juicy acidity and blood orange notes.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  August 24, 2012

Conde de Subirats Cava Rosé Non-Vintage.  Bright red in color, and shy on the nose, but exhibits good strawberry and raspberry flavors.  Not particularly lively, but fun and refreshing, finishing with a darker note.  Made from 55% Macabeo, 40% Parellada, 5% Chardonnay.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  August 22, 2012       

Chambers Muscat Rosewood Vineyards Non-Vintage (Rutherglen).  Unctuous in texture, with very refined notes of dried plums, apricots, assorted nuts, and citrus peel.  Strikingly aromatic, and sweet without being cloying, with the 18% alcohol nicely hidden under the fruit and balanced acidity.  Great on its own, or with a crème bruleé.  About $18/375ml.

-  August 21, 2012

Perrier Jouet Grand Brut Champagne Non-Vintage.  Smells like a big, active mound of bread dough, plus butterscotch and hints of citrus.  Whole wheat biscuits on the medium-bodied palate, where the bubbles really expand and move to ginger and red apple notes.  Shows power on the finish.  Drink now.  About $35.

-  August 20, 2012

Carpineto Dogajolo 2011 (Toscana).  This rosé made from Sangiovese is lighter in style, with subtle notes of flowers, fresh cherries, nectarines, and fresh herbs.  Easygoing and pleasant.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  August 7, 2012

Cantina Santadi Vermentino di Sardegna Villa Solais 2011.  Frankly yellow in color, and showing notions of straw, citrus rind, and bitter pith on the nose.  Medium-bodied, and interesting for its white almond, peach, and sweet corn flavors.  Not as fresh as the 2010, but still good.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  August 5, 2012

Castellare Chianti Classico 2009.  Great purity to the cherry aromas, and highly perfumed, showing tobacco, lavender, and plum notes.  Velvety and endearing.  A great expression of Sangiovese that's nicely packaged, without hard edges or rustic distraction.  Ready now, but will hold for another 5 years.  About $20

-  August 4, 2012

Domaine du Rin du Bois Touraine 2010.  Intense kaffir lime nose, with some mint notes.  Soft in the mouth, hinting at mango, tangerine, green pepper, and gooseberry.  An easygoing summer white, but with great verve that gains strength with time in the glass.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  August 3, 2012

Château Bellevue La Forêt Rosé 2011 (Fronton).  Bright, almost neon watermelon red, with a shy nose, but then a blast of ripe cherry/peach flavors, with hints of orange.  Short on finish, but otherwise a good value, with nice uplift.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  August 2, 2012

Saint Peyre Picpoul de Pinet 2011 (Languedoc).  Interestingly smoky nose, with hints of lemon peel and white truffle.  Refreshing and zippy, but with a soft character that shows flavors of pea shoots, mint, and preserved lemons.  A great summertime value.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  August 1, 2012

Barco de Piedra 2009 (Ribera del Duero).  Opaque, and offering striking scents of black cherries, licorice, Dr. Pepper, and violets.  Nice extraction and concentration to the black licorice, wet potting soil, and plum/cherry fruit.  Well-executed for the price.  Made from 100% Tempranillo.  Drink now through 2018.  About $15.

-  July 31, 2012

Chateau Grande Cassagne Rosé 2011 (Costieres de Nimes).  Loaded with ripe cherry flavors, but also notions of citrus rind, raspberry, and red apples.  Dark mid-palate moves to some earthy notes, but there's enough acidity to keep it lively through the almost juicy finish.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  July 30, 2012

Domaine Talmard Mâcon-Chardonnay 2010.  Reductive nose, with hints of funk, but in the mouth there's good concentration to the honey-laced orange, apple, and fresh herb flavors.  Nice value white Burgundy, as long as you're not expecting too much.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  July 29, 2012

Domaine de la Louvetrie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2010.  Real focus and clarity to the crushed shell, lemon/lime zest, mango, and even passion fruit notes.  Excellent balance, with admirable length, this is definitely a step up compared to basic Muscadet.  About $13.

-  July 28, 2012

Telmo Rodriquez Basa 2011 (Rueda).  Slightly green hue, with a nose reminiscent of tangerines, green mango, and limes.  Clean and inviting, with bitter herb, citrus, and melon notes.  Tasty!  Drink now.  About $11.

-  July 27, 2012

Yalumba The Strapper 2010 (Barossa).  Dark wild berries, vanilla, espresso, bitter chocolate, and cherry coke notes come from this extroverted Aussie red.  Holds together nicely, with a feral, dusty finish that's got more berries running through it.  Made from 38% Grenache, 32% Shiraz, and 30% Mataro.  Drink now through 2018.  About $15.

-  July 26, 2012

Domaine de la Solitude Côtes du Rhone Rosé 2011.  Hints of funk, but also peach, strawberry, raspberry, red grapefruit, and dark spices.  Strikes a good balance between the dark notes and the bright fruit, staying fresh and inviting.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  July 25, 2012

Artazuri Garnacha 2009 (Navarra).  Cherries, cola, and smoke scents jump from this lively, ripe Spanish red.  Focused, with excellent purity of fruit (black cherries, plums).  Really nice acidity on the finish keeps this moving.  Drink now though 2020.  About $15.

-  July 24, 2012

Charles & Charles Syrah Rosé 2011 (Columbia Valley).  Peach/orange color.  Very forward nose of strawberries, cherries, mint, and watermelon.  Fruity and overt style, with plenty of ripe berries, with just enough acidity to keep it together.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  July 23, 2012

Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Sonoma County).  Shows great purity and focus to the cassis and cherry aromas.  Medium to full-bodied, extracted, and moderately intense.  Plum, mocha, and spice flavors.  Slightly grainy in texture, and could use more on the finish, but is well-made, and ready now.  About $25.

-  July 22, 2012

Excelsior Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Robertson).  Super clear and offering green guava, grass, mango, tangerine, and passion fruit notes.  Pleasant, with a compressed finish, but a great value for everyday quaffing.  Drink now.  About $9.

-  July 21, 2012

Besllum 2008 (Montsant).  Dark fruit on the nose, but otherwise impenetrable.  Full-bodied, with excellent intensity to the cured ham, flowers, iron, stones, and spice notes.  Masculine and dark, dark.  Needs air and time to open up.  Made from 45% Garnacha, 45% Carinena, and 10% Syrah.  Fine now, but better in two years, and will last until 2022.  About $18.

-  July 20, 2012

Santi Valpolicella Classico Superiore Solane Ripasso 2009.  Pine forest, cherry, and licorice on the nose.  Good depth and focus in the mouth, with solid black cherry, anise, smoke, and meat flavors.  Stays vibrant through the finish.  Good value.  Drink now through 2015.  About $15.

-  July 19, 2012

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2011 (Coastal Region).  The color of a blood orange, with scents of roses, salty sea air, cherries, and strawberries.  Juicy in the mouth, showing flavors of oranges and slate, finishing dry.  Not as pleasurable as pervious vintages, but still worthy of recommendation.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  July 15, 2012

Maculan Costadolio 2011 (Veneto).  A streak of dark earth runs through this otherwise fresh rosé, with notions of peach, raspberry, and fresh herbs.  Shows good weight and balance, made in a slightly fuller style.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  July 14, 2012

Chateau Haut-Vigneau 2009 (Pessac-Leognan).  Cassis, pencil lead, dark tobacco, and dark fruit scents come off this masculine, medium-bodied Bordeaux.  Good structure, with blackberry and dark roasted coffee notes. Nice value for this appellation.  Ready now, but will last for a few years.  About $20.

-  July 13, 2012

Petit Rimauresq Rosé 2011 (Côtes de Provence).  Offers notions of slate and hints of raspberry on the nose, with a clean palate of peach, gooseberry, red berry, and apple notes.  A lighter style, finishing dry.  Composed of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  July 11, 2012

Casal de Tonda Grilos 2008 (Dão).  Made from Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Alforcheiro.  Loads of upfront, dark fruit on the complex nose, plus smoke, leather, cola, and dark spice scents.  More modest in the mouth, and lacking some "punch", but is still a pleasing drink with good fruit notes.  Made for early consumption.  About $12.

-  July 10, 2012

Nita 2008 (Priorat).  Opaque ruby color, followed by dark scents of blueberries, Wrigley's spearmint gum, black cherry, and hints of licorice.  Not at all heavy in the mouth, with great purity and focus.  Nice uplift of acidity on the long finish.  Drink now through 2017.  About $22.

-  July 8, 2012

Château de Campuget Rosé Tradition de Campuget 2011 (Costières de Nimes).  Made from 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache.  A vibrant, fun, and easygoing style, with notions of grapefruit, red berry, flowers, and citrus rind. Subtle chalkiness on the finish.  Perfect for a summer salad.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  July 7, 2012

Planeta La Segreta Rosso 2009 (Sicily).  Hints of funk burn off to reveal spicy cherry, smoke, and freshly brewed coffee scents.  Medium-bodied, with moderate structure, and offering cherry, dust, and espresso flavors.  Solid.  Made from 50% Nero d'Avola, 25% Merlot, 20% Syrah, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  Drink now through 2017.  About $15.

-  July 6, 2012

Domaine Houchart Blanc 2010 (Côtes de Provence).  Very clear and lacking much color, this is fresh and vibrant, with notes of pea shoots, freshly cut herbs, lemons, and white flowers.  Finishes with some minerality.  Very crisp.  Made from 75% Clairette and 25% Rolle.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  July 5, 2012

Anne Pichon Gris Montagne 2011 (Ventoux).  Pale in color, and hints of barnyard on the nose, along with curdled milk and orange rind.  Bright acidity lifts up the tasty light cherry, raspberry, and pink grapefruit flavors.  For this price, it's what you want your rosé to do.  Drink now.  About $10

-  July 4, 2012

Terra Sanctus Côtes du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu 2010.  Composed of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, from 30 to 50 year old vines.  Shows youthful intensity, with zippy cherry, cola, new leather, coffee, and black pepper notes.  Fun now, but better in a year.  Drink before 2019.  About $14.

-  July 3, 2012

A to Z Wineworks Chardonnay No Wood 2010 (Oregon).  Like a good white from the Mâconnais, this is clean and expressive, with braeburn apple, mint, Asian pear, and stone fruit notes.  Finishes unencumbered.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  July 1, 2012

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2009 (Knights Valley).  Very similar to the non-reserve bottling of Beringer's Knight's Valley Cab (which we love), but with a touch extra.  Excellent purity to the cassis aromas, along with vanilla and mocha.  Ripe, focused attack of sweet black cherry (but not overripe), later turning to show plums, black pepper, and dark spices.  Hints of tobacco on the finish.  Exuberant.  Great now, but will settle down in a year or two, and will last until 2019.  About $45.

-  June 25, 2012

Louis Roederder Cristal Champagne 1997.  Golden in color, and showing honey, clementines, and bread dough on the nose.  Expansive mid-palate, with brioche, blood orange, and butterscotch flavors.  Mature, with plenty of elegance and power, turning slightly nutty on the long, long finish.  Outstanding.  About $300.

-  June 24, 2012

Pieropan Soave 2009.  Strikingly yellow in color, with hints of green.  Offers green peach, petroleum, cilantro, and fuji apple scents.  Refreshing, with an intriguing, almost waxy character that's unusual but also supported by just the right amount of acidity.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  June 23, 2012

Château Pesquié Rosé Terrasses 2011 (Ventoux).  Composed of 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 10% Syrah, this is effortlessly aromatic, with fantastic strawberry, citrus, cherry, and mint scents.  Wonderful acidity, watermelon flavors, and admirable purity.  Great French rosé!.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  June 22, 2012

Can Blau 2009 (Montsant).  Smells of blackberry, forest floor, pine needles, egg yolk, blueberry, and shitake mushroom.  Smooth and suave in the mouth, with high-quality, fine tannins providing structure to the fruit, staying lively through the finish.  Shows good purity and refinement.  Great now, but better in a year, and will last until 2018.  Made from 40% Mazuelo, 40% Syrah, and 20% Garnacha.  About $18.

-  June 21, 2012

Vietti Roero Arneis 2011.  Very minerally nose, like crushed limestone/river rock, along with lime juice and tangerine.  Shows great balance in the mouth, where the apricot, parsley, and citrus zest flavors are all in harmony.  The minerals really jump on the finish.  Drink now through 2014.  About $18.

-  June 17, 2012

Izadi Rioja Reserva 2006.  Made from 100% Tempranillo, and aged in American oak for 14 months, this is deep and penetrating, with focused black cherry, licorice, and ground coffee notes.  Fantastic intensity for the price.  Masculine, strong finish.  Ready now, but will hold for another 5 years.  About $20.

-  June 16, 2012

J Dusi Pinot Gris Fossil Creek 2011 (Paso Robles).  Nearly colorless, but shows good peach, green apple, and celery scents.  Clean and zippy, with focused lime and orange peel flavors that are easygoing.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  June 15, 2012

Olivares Rosé 2011 (Jumilla).  Red raspberry in color, with burnt sugar scents to go with the cherry, raspberry, melon, and citrus flavors.  Tasty and fun.  Drink right away.  About $11.

-  June 13, 2012

Château Fantin Rosé 2011 (Bordeaux).  Glowing bright cherry red in color, this is an exuberant rosé that borders on over-the-top, but stays honest with enough perky acidity to balance the effusive strawberry flavors.  Subtle herb and dusty notes are welcome on the finish.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  June 12, 2012

Charles Smith Cabernet Sauvignon Chateau Smith 2009 (Columbia Valley).  Opaque and dense, with hints of eucalyptus and pine needles to go along with the rich blackberry and cassis aromas that continue in the mouth.  Plump, with plenty of refined tannins for support, with round, dark fruit and dark tobacco notes.  Kind of like Joan Holloway. Fine now, but will be better in a year or two, and will last through 2018.  About $20. 

-  June 6, 2012

Tolaini Tenuta S. Giovanni Valdisanti 2007 (Toscana).  Made from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, and 5% Cabernet Franc, this is an opaque red colored, extracted blend.  Throws off deep, penetrating scents of tar, campfire, blackberry, and melted licorice.  Medium-bodied, with refined tannin.  A very dark profile of bitter chocolate, espresso, and pine needles.  More structure than the 2006, so it's best to wait a couple of years to drink, and will last at least until 2020.  About $28.

-  June 3, 2012

Volver 2009 (La Mancha).  Fantastic purity to the cherry, licorice, blueberry, and freshly brewed coffee notes.  Medium-bodied, and well-crafted, showing great focus.  Delicious.  Made from Tempranillo.  Drink now through 2015.  About $18.

-  June 2, 2012

Coeur Estérelle Rosé 2011 (Côtes de Provence).  Pale pink, maybe light salmon in color.  Tasty, bright, and perky, with peach, apricot, strawberry, and lemon flavors.  Energetic.  Demands a hot day.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  June 1, 2012

Santa Barbara Collection Pinot Noir 2009 (Santa Barbara County).  Light ruby colored, and smelling of cola, anise, and fruit punch.  Lighter-bodied and modest in scope, but without flaws, with good cherry flavor and hints of tobacco.  This doesn't demand your attention, but that's fine for this price.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  May 30, 2012

Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris Rosé 2011 (Corbières).  Pretty pink hue, showing great clarity.  Notes of strawberries, honey, flowers, lemon peel, and cranberry.  Seems riper and more full than the last vintage, but still retains balance and verve.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  May 29, 2012

Montes Cabernet Sauvignon Classic Series 2010 (Colchagua Valley).  Plenty of deep, ripe plum and cherry flavors with nice acidity to keep it honest.  A wave of cassis on the finish.  Medium to full-bodied, with a plush, easy texture that's made for immediate consumption.  About $10.

-  May 28, 2012

Pueblo del Sol Tannat 2009 (Juanico Region).  Unfiltered.  Shy nose, hinting at iodine and soap.  Intriguing in the mouth, with lots of fine minerality, dark berry, and roasted meat notes.  Medium-bodied.  From Uruguay.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  May 27, 2012

Antinori Brunello di Montalcino Pian delle Vigne 1997.  Show its age with an amber halo in the glass.  Notions of eucalyptus, dried rose petals, cherries, lavender, and leather initially.  With air, the fruit comes out in the form of figs, dates, and raisins, along with bitter chocolate.  Solid, aged Brunello, with good precision and a smoky finish.  Ready now, but will hold for another 3 years.  About $125.

-  May 25, 2012

Excelsior Chardonnay 2011 (South Africa).  This is a straightforward, unambitious Chard that's easy on the wallet, but offers good melon, green apple, and citrus notes, with crisp acidity.  Not complex, but is an easy summer sipper for little money.  Drink now.  About $9.

-  May 24, 2012

Domaine Houchart Rosé 2011 (Côtes de Provence).  Pale pink in color.  Flowery and bright, with notions of strawberries, fresh herbs, and orange rind.  Electric in character, staying thirst quenching and zippy.  A consistent value every year.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  May 23, 2012

Faustino Rioja Selección de Familia 2004.  Dark crimson, and offering a nicely perfumed nose of roses, cherries, blueberry, and tobacco.  Earthy in the mouth, with dark loam and berry flavors, turning to dust and smoke on the moderate finish.  A touch rustic, but manages to keep its balance.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  May 22, 2012

Burgans Albariño 2010 (Rias Baixas).  Overflowing with juicy peach, ripe pear, Meyer lemon, and tangerine notes.  An extroverted style made for immediate consumption.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  May 21, 2012

Domaine de Fenouillet Rosé 2011(Ventoux).  A more elegant, classic rosé, with excellent purity and focus.  Mouthwatering acidity supports cranberry, cherry, and orange peel notes.  Bring this one on a picnic with a sandwich and the one you love.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  May 20, 2012

Scala Dei Negre 2009 (Priorat).  Wonderful density of flavor here, with deep licorice, cherry liqueur, smoke, black plums, and hints of cola.  Lacks some nuance, but is value-priced, and a great introduction to Priorat.  Drink now through 2018.  About $18.

-  May 19, 2012

Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Riff 2010 (Delle Venezie Terra Alpina).  From the foothills of the Dolomites comes this value Pinot Grigio, reminiscent of tangerines, peaches, and green apples.  Deliciously ripe, but is throttled back by zippy acidity.  Excellent value for an everyday white.  About $10.

-  May 18, 2012

Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne 2009.  Really pretty bouquet that includes flowers, cloves, prunes, and charcoal.  Shows great balance, with blue fruit, coffee, and anise notes.  Black pepper on the finish.  Well-made.  Drink now through 2016.  About $22.

-  May 17, 2012

Falesco Vitiano Rosato 2011 (Umbria).  Dark in color for a rosé, and offering rhubarb, strawberry, and floral scents.  There's plenty of fruit here, along with stones on the finish.  Robust, but not overpowering.  Made from equal parts Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, with 10% Aleatico.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  May 15, 2012

Di Majo Norante Ramitello 2008 (Biferno Rosso).  Great purity and focus to the lavender, smoke, and blueberry scents.  Supple and restrained, but also vibrant, with cherry, tar, and anise flavors.  Finishes dark and elegant.  Drink now through 2016.  About $15.

-  May 14, 2012

Seghesio Zinfandel 2010 (Sonoma County).  Seghesio's regular Sonoma bottling is an outstanding value, featuring intense black cherry, licorice, cola, and smoke notes on a medium-bodied frame.  Not the most complex, but it does what it does very, very well.  Clearly better than the average Zin.  Drink now through 2015.  About $22.

-  May 13, 2012

Bieler Père et Fils Rosé 2011 (Coteaux d' Aix-en-Provence).  Made from 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Notions of strawberries, roses, celery, and raspberries, this is a tasty, bright wine made to go with warm weather.  Fresh and inviting.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  May 12, 2012

Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Marlborough).  Mint, pea shoot, and green bell pepper scents from this classic New Zealand offering.  Much to like in the mouth, with zesty acidity to back the grass, grapefruit, lime, and green mango flavors.  Try with grilled veggies.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  May 9, 2012

Montes Chardonnay Classic Series 2010 (Curico Valley).  Greenish hue.  Bright, with notions of lemon (or is it preserved lemon?), tangerine, green olive, fresh herbs, and oyster shell.  Subtly toasty finish that's zippy and pleasing.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  May 8, 2012

Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Sonoma County).  A forward, easily accessable style, with classic plum, cassis, mocha, toast, and vanilla notes.  Medium-bodied, finishing lively and ripe.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  May 6, 2012

Quinta da Alorna Arinto 2010 (Tejo).  Flinty/limestone scents, along with hints of peaches are evident from this value Portuguese white.  Switches to ripe fruit in the mouth, where the pear, rambutan, and stone fruit flavors jump out.  Metallic finish.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  May 2, 2012

Cono Sur Viognier 2009 (Colchagua Valley).  Lanolin/petroleum scents emerge from this inexpensive Chilean white.  A good introduction to this variety, with flavors of red apple, peaches, beeswax, tangerine, and hints of spice.  Medium-bodied, with a balanced, fresh finish.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  April 30, 2012

Chateau St. Michelle Merlot Cold Creek Vineyard 2007 (Columbia Valley).  Deep purple color.  Exhibits fantastic purity, with flavors/aromas of ripe plums, black cherry, cocoa powder, pipe tobacco, and violets.  Full-bodied, soft in texture, with a lip-smacking finish.  Great Merlot!  Ready right now, but will hold for just a couple of years.  About $22.

-  April 29, 2012

Renzo Masi Chianti Riserva 2008.  A classic profile, with modern ripeness.  Dried cherry, blueberry, tobacco, and forest floor notes.  A touch rustic, but also has good depth, fruit, and overall balance.  Nice value.  Drink now through 2014.  About $15.

-  April 28, 2019

Wilhem Walch Pinot Grigio Prendo 2010 (Vigneti delle Dolomiti).  Clear and focused, with good river stone character, along with white grapefruit and lemongrass notes.  Hints of white flowers and peach emerge with time in the glass.  Not outstanding, but well-made and good for the price.  Drink right away.  About $12.

-  April 27, 2012

Spice Route Chakalaka 2009 (Swartland).  A blend of 37% Syrah, 21% Mourvedre, 18% Carignan, 10% Petite Sirah, 10% Grenache, and 4% Tannnat from South Africa.  Buttery/spicy nose, along with camp smoke, black licorice, and mint.  Medium to full-bodied, with good intensity and presence to the bright fruit and mocha notes.  Nice uplift on the finish.  Drink now through 2015.  About $18.

-  April 24, 2012

Mas de Guiot 2010 (Vin de Pays du Gard).  Composed of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache, this value southern French red offers a dark color, with aromas of coffee, cola, cherries, and green tobacco.  Spicy attack, then a wealth of bright fruit, black pepper, and then plums.  Energetic.  Drink now through 2015.  About $10.

-  April 20, 2012

Finca Villacreces Pruno 2008 (Ribera del Duero).  Made from 90% Tinto Fino and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and spends 12 months in French oak.  Shows striking depth and power for the price, with great intensity to the blueberry, cola, coffee, dust, and vanilla flavors.  Dark tobacco on the lengthy finish.  Superb value.  Ready now, but will be better in a year or two.  About $15.

-  April 18, 2012

St. Michael-Eppan Pinot Grigio 2010 (Südtirol-Alto Adige).  A fresh and delightful style, with great river rock notes to go with the clementine, green pear, lime, and parsley qualities.  Zippy finish.  Real Pinot Grigio, that shows polish and finesse.  Drink now.  About $14.

-  April 14, 2012

Jean-Luc Colombo Rosé Cape Bleue 2010 (Vin de Pays de Méditerranée).  Composed of 40% Syrah, 40% Mourvedre, and 20% Counoise.  Offers a pale copper color, with scents/flavors of peach, red bell pepper, celery, and raspberries.  Inviting and pleasant.  Good for a spring picnic.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  April 13, 2012

Duval Leroy Brut Champagne Non-Vintage.  Plenty of yeast/bread dough aromas, along with red apple, maple syrup, and red berries.  Shows power and elegance at the same time, with real focus and intensity.  Lengthy finish displays waves of spice, fruit, and smoke notes.  Perfect for celebrating with your tax refund.  Drink now through 2015.  About $36.

-  April 12, 2012

King Estate Pinot Gris Acrobat 2010 (Oregon).  Vibrant and juicy at the same time, with flavors of peach, tangerine, fresh herbs, and tropical fruit.  Medium-bodied, with a caressing style.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  April 10, 2012

Chateau Bonnet Blanc 2010 (Bordeaux).  A blend of Sauvignon Blanc (50%), Semillon (40%), and Muscadelle (10%), this is a great warm weather aperitif.  Bright and clean, with pure lime, green melon, pear, and green bell pepper notes.  Turns slightly grassy on the finish, where the lime flavors pick back up again.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  April 8, 2012

Chateau La Touche Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie Cuvée Choisie 2009.  Pure and precise, and a great example of sur lie Muscadet, with focused lemon peel, green melon, basil/parsley, and tangerine notes.  Made for early drinking and for the summer.  About $13.

-  April 4, 2012

Terrazas de los Andes Malbec Altos del Plata 2010 (Mendoza).  From 3,500 foot elevation vines, this is deeply colored and a solid everyday value.  Plenty of vanilla/oak shadings to go with the briary dark fruit (blackberry, plums), along with espresso and bitter chocolate.  Hints of bell pepper on the moderately structured finish.  Drink now through 2015.  About $12.

-  April 3, 2012

Vina Falernia Syrah Reserva 2008 (Elqui Valley).  Ripe and bold, with a mint/eucalyptus vibe to go with the dark wild berry, mocha, briar, pepper, and charcoal notes.  Shows plenty of power and focus for the price, and made in a cool climate style.  Great value.  Drink now through 2015.  About $14.

-  March 28, 2012

Michel Gassier Cotes du Rhone Cercius 2010.  From 80 year old vines comes this blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah.  Striking aromatics of blackberry, ripe cherries, licorice, seaweed, smoke, and freshly brewed coffee.  Full-bodied and delicious, with a iron streak running through the ripe fruit flavors and underbrush notes.  Amazing intensity for the price.  Ready now through 2017.  A steal at only $15.

-  March 27, 2012

Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Valle Central).  Nothing to get too excited about, but there's plenty of value at this price, offering good, clean lime, mint, and pea shoot notes.  Lively and without flaws, for everyday drinking.  About $8.

-  March 23, 2012

El Xamfrá Cava Brut Non-Vintage.  Yeasty nose that also includes white grapefruit, red apples, and hints of spices.  Lacks refinement, but is flavorful and ripe, with a lingering smokiness on the finish.  Great value.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  March 22, 2012

La Posta del Vinatero Cocina Blend 2010 (Mendoza).  Flavors and aromas of blueberry, plums, holly, lavender, toasted bread, vanilla, and cream.  Medium to full-bodied, ripe but buffered by pleasing acidity and overall harmony.  Nice focus for the price.  Made from 60% Malbec, 20% Syrah, 20% Bonarda.  Drink now through 2016.  About $15.

-  March 21, 2012

Rocca delle Macie Sasyr 2009 (Toscana).  Ripe bananas, smoke, and lavender scents from a 60% Sangiovese, 40% Syrah blend.  Plump and dark in the mouth, with flavors of prunes, dark plums, oak, and mint.  Spicy finish.  Drink now through 2015.  About $15.

-  March 20, 2012

Joel Gott Chardonnay Unoaked 2010 (Monterey).  Tastes and smells like ripe, freshly squeezed lime juice, with hints of passion fruit.  Zippy and bright, and not complex, but does what it does very well, with purity and verve.  Drink as an aperitif.  About $12.

-  March 19, 2012

Deinhard Riesling Lila Brut Sekt Non-Vintage.  Flowers, limestone, peaches, and lemons (plus rind) come from this sparkling German wine.  Finishes dry.  Not particularly lively in bubbles, but fine for the price.  Drink right away.  About $12.

-  March 18, 2012

Bodegas Triton Triton 2008 (Castilla y León).  Shows cedar smoke, dark cherries, espresso, and chocolate on the nose, this 100% Tinto de Toro is a solid value.  With beautiful texture, and excellent balance, it is both elegant and powerful, offering wild berry, plums, and hints of underbrush.  Bright acidity and spices on the slightly compressed finish.  Ready now, but will be better in a couple of years.  About $20.

-  March 17, 2012 

Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc 2010 (Sonoma County).  Mostly grass on the nose, but also household cleanser and honeydew melon.  Clean and bright in profile, with lime and fresh herb flavors, remaining pure and effortless. Drink now.  About $12.

-  March 16, 2012

G.H. Mumm Brut Champagne Cordon Rouge Non-Vintage.  Offers aromas of orange marmalade, roasted nuts, and brioche.  Honey on the attack, then moves to a wave of red apples, blood orange, and yeasty dough.  Medium-bodied, with a nice cascading, long finish.  Really good for a basic non-vintage.  Drink now.  About $36.

-  March 15, 2012

Doña Paula Estate Malbec 2010 (Mendoza).  Boysenberry, Dr. Pepper, ganache, coffee, fig, eucalyptus, and fig notes from this high-elevation estate bottling.  Full-bodied, well-made, and finishing with just enough balanced acidity.  Drink now through 2015.  About $15.

-  March 14, 2012

Cantina Santadi Vermentino di Sardegna Villa Solais 2010.  Yellow in color, with white truffle, wax, and fresh herbs scents.  Oily texture that supports ripe apple, cantaloupe, and mild citrus flavors.  As good or better than the 2009.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  March 13, 2012

Buehler Vineyards Zinfandel 2010 (Napa Valley).  Vanilla, jammy red/black fruit, cedar, and black pepper aromatics.  A solid, savory Zin, with a powerful attack, and spicy finish.  Caramel and plum fruit in the middle.  Drink now.  About $18.

-  March 12, 2012

Masi Tupungato Paso Doble 2009 (Mendoza).  An unusual blend of 70% Malbec and 30% partially dried Corvina grapes from Argentina.  Dark licorice, prune, cola, evergreen, butterscotch, and tar notes.  Not at all heavy, with focused acidity on the moderately long finish.  Drink now through 2015.  About $12.

-  March 11, 2012

Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap 2010 (Western Cape).  Composed of 65% Syrah, 32% Mourvedre, and 3% Viognier, this shows good balance to the spicy, ripe red fruit and savory underbrush qualities.  Fresh flowers, blueberries, and black pepper on the nose.  Good value.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  March 10, 2012

Starborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Marlborough).  Effusive and in-your-face, with overt gooseberry, grapefruit, grass, jalapeno, and passion fruit notes.  Slightly herbal on the finish, but also vibrant and mouthwatering.  Nothing delicate here.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  March 9, 2012

Clos de L'Oratoire 1998 (Saint Emilion).  Very Bordeaux, with iron, beef blood, smoke, and lipstick scents.  Masculine overall, showing leather, tobacco, wild black fruit, espresso, bitter chocolate, and cedar flavors.  Lacking some oomph at the end, but still very good.  At its plateau, so this will not improve, but will certainly last another 5-8 years.  About $50.

-  March 8, 2012

Rosenblum Syrah Vintner's Cuvee 2009 (California).  Not refined or elegant, but with plenty of exuberant fruit, spice, cola, and licorice flavors.  A great everyday red for both the casual drinker and those with a more trained palate.  Shows impressive length and body for the price.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  March 7, 2012

Bodegas Valdesil Godello Montenovo 2009 (Valdeorras).  Limestone/river rock scents emerge from this 100% Godello from Spain.  Clean and bright, with clementine, honey, and green apple flavors on a medium-bodied frame.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  March 5, 2012

Gerard Bertrand Viognier Reserve Speciale 2010 (Pays D'Oc).  Petroleum, melon, honeysuckle, and limestone scents with a full-bodied palate.  Great value, especially for those who are seekers of richness and overt flavor.  Slightly bitter orange and ripe pear notes.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  March 4, 2012

Tenuta di Biserno Insoglio del Cinghiale 2009 (Toscana).  This is an excellent value blend of 32% Syrah, 31% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot from Bolgheri.  Deeply colored, with superb ripe red fruit, blueberry, coffee, bitter chocolate, and anise notes.  Impressive balance, with a succulent texture.  Great now, but will last for another 6.  About $25.

-  March 3, 2012

Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino 2009.  Earthy nose, with classic Sangiovese qualities of cherry, leather, and tobacco.  Medium-bodied and young in personality, with bright acidity and a long finish that grows in strength.  Drink now through 2016.  About $18. 

-  February 28, 2012

Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec 2009 (Mendoza).  Wet, dark earth on the nose, but also bell pepper, and smoldering charcoal.  Surprises the palate with ripe, wild berries, underbrush, and dark mushrooms.  Great definition and liveliness, with a long, plump finish.  Drink now through 2016.  About $16.

-  February 26 ,2012

Parés Balta Ros de Pacs 2010 (Penedès).  Dark in color for a rosé, and offering strawberry, rhubarb, mint, watermelon, and red apple notes.  Deft balance to the ripe fruit and acidity.  Made from Merlot (47%), Syrah (39%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (14%).  Drink now.  About $12.

-  February 23, 2012

Emmanuel Darnaud Les Trois Chenes Crozes-Hermitage 2009.  Composed of 100% Syrah, and offering earthy scents that include freshly brewed coffee and a fecal note.  Powerful, focused, dense, and masculine.  Full-bodied, showing dark fruit on the palate, along with lavender and tar.  Peppery, intense finish.  Drink now through 2020.  About $ 26.

-  February 22, 2012

Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rosé 2010.  Nice balance to the orange marmalade, raspberry, and red apple flavors, with spices/minerals on the finish.  Shows good overall harmony for not much money.  Drink with anything, and soon.  About $11.

-  February 21, 2012

Veuve Cliquot Brut Rosé Non-Vintage Champagne.  Compared to their regular "yellow label" bottling, the rosé from Veuve exhibits much more refinement and elegance, with notions of cranberry, roses, watermelon, and red grapefruit.  Pretty pink/copper color, medium-bodied, and pleasing, with plenty of ripeness, but remains crisp though the finish.  Drink now through 2015.  About $50.

-  February 20, 2012

Yering Station Sparkling Wine Yarrabank 2000 (Victoria).  Very golden in color, and still lively for a 12-year-old wine, this exhibits very yeasty aromas, along with candied citrus peel, honey, and blood orange.  Plenty of citrus flavors in the mouth (mostly white grapefruit), turning spicy on the finish.  Good depth for the price.  Drink right away.  About $18.

-  January 31, 2012

BenMarco Malbec 2009 (Mendoza).  Aged both in French and American oak, and blended with 8% Bonarda, this high-elevation Malbec is plush and international in style.  Reminiscent of sweet, ripe plums, figs, boysenberries, vanilla, dark spices, and charcoal.  Good velvety texture, with a creamy, dark fruit finish.  Drink now through 2015.  About $18.

-  January 30, 2012

Masi Masianco 2010 (IGT).  Made from 75% Pinot Grigio and 25% Verduzzo.  Strongly yellow in color, with notes of pears, orange marmalade, red apples, and white peaches.  Medium-bodied and fresh.  Drink now.  About $13.

-  January 24, 2012

Poema Cava Brut Non-Vintage (Penedes).  Offers a rich perfume for the price, with bread dough, white mushrooms, peaches, ginger, and lemon curd.  A spicy note travels through the mouth to go along with the citrus flavors, finishing dry.  Much better than your basic Cava.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  January 23, 2012

Domaine de Nizas Rosé 2010 (Coteaux du Languedoc).  Inviting cherry, pear, citrus, and cranberry notes are festive and energetic across the palate.  Clean and harmonious.  Would work as an aperitif, or with seafood salads.  Made from 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  January 22, 2012

Falesco Vitiano Bianco 2010 (Umbria).  Made from Verdicchio and Vermentino, and exhibiting a clear straw color, this solid, mid-weight Italian white is a good value.  Lemongrass and petroleum scents move to a palate of lemon oil and hints of passion fruit.  Finishes bright.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  January 21, 2012

Masi Campofiorin 2008 (Veronese).  Made using the appassimento and ripasso methods, this exhibits a dense purple color, along with scents of roses, tar, and black licorice.  Great depth, with a medium-body, and plenty of extraction.  Dried fruit stands out on the palate, along with the licorice.  Drink now through 2016.  About $20.

-  January 19, 2012

Norton Malbec Reserva 2008 (Mendoza).  Made from 30 year old vines, with 12 months French oak aging, this bridges the gap between the basic Norton Malbec offering and the more expensive Privada.  Good purity to the sweet vanilla, plum, cocoa powder, and coffee scents.  Made in a plush style, with notes of roses and dark fruit, then bacon on the finish.  Drink now through 2015.  About $16.

-  January 17, 2012

Marquis Philips Shiraz "9" 2005 (McLaren Vale).  Looks and smells like midnight, this is dark on top of dark, with intense melted licorice, tar, burning ember, and ground spice scents.  Extremely full-bodied, mouth-coating, and long in the mouth.  Very ripe blueberry and blackberry, along with incense and meat flavors.  Weighs in at a whopping 16.5% alcohol.  Plenty of baby fat still, but very drinkable now, and will last though 2020.  About $40.

-  January 15, 2012

Columbia Crest Merlot 2009 (Horse Heaven Hills).  Loaded with the pure essence of plum and black cherry, with hints of smoke and eucalyptus, this exhibits great focus for the price, with a pleasant, soft palate impression.  A clear step up from the regular Columbia Valley bottling, and remains an excellent value.  Drink now through 2015.  About $15.

-  January 13, 2012

Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon Malbec 2010 (Mendoza).  Deep red/purple, with an expressive nose of blue/black berries, freshly brewed coffee, figs, and charcoal.  Pleasant, easy texture, with no hard edges.  Mocha on the finish.  A solid value for early drinking.  About $11.

-  January 12, 2012

Bellum Providencia 2003 (Yecla).  Raw blood, Asian spices, and hoisin sauce scents are evident on this 100% old vine Monastrell.  Tasted for the second time (after five years of aging), this formerly impenetrable, brooding Spanish red now offers more balance to the licorice, roasted meat, wild berry, smoke, briar, and blueberry flavors.  Still has plenty of power in reserve.  Drink now through 2016.  About $15.

-  January 11, 2012

Saint-Peyre Picpoul de Pinet 2010 (Languedoc).  Vibrant, with melon, ripe pear, wet river rock, and citrus notes.  Easygoing texture, and finishing dry.  Well-made, for early consumption.  About $10. 

-  January 10, 2012

Herdade do Esporao Verdelho 2010 (Alentejano).  Smells like the essence of lemon skins and juice, mixed with Vaseline and flowers.  Medium-bodied, with flavors of limoncello, honeydew, and a waxy/medicinal quality, and then fresh herbs on the finish.  Interesting, with nice depth.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  January 9, 2012

K Vintners Syrah Milbrandt Wahluke Slope 2006 (Columbia Valley).  Opaque purple/red, with a beautiful, intense nose that shows blackberries, campfire, melted licorice, asphalt, cloves, and herbs.  Very full-bodied, rich and expansive in mouth, with excellent harmony to the acidity, chocolate, licorice, and dark fruit notes.  Coffee grounds on the long finish.  An early candidate for top 10 of the year.  Irresistible now, but will hold for at least another 6 years.  About $50.

-  January 8, 2012

Potel Aviron Julienas Vieilles Vignes 2009.  A dark nose, with ink, blackberries, and cola.  Impressive depth, and admirable intensity, featuring wild berries, smoke, raspberries, and roses.  Lively finish balances out the dark characteristics.  Great now, but will last through 2016.  About $20.

-  January 6, 2012

The Wishing Tree Chardonnay Unoaked 2010 (Adelaide).  Clean and uncomplicated, with white peach, pear, and spring flower notes, finishing with a touch of apple and spice.  Nicely made, with good concentration for the price.  Drink now.  About $10.

-  January 5, 2012

Cantina Santadi Vermentino di Sardegna Villa Solais 2009.  The color of urine, but strangely not in a bad way, with scents of almonds and straw.  Tastes like white peaches, anise, and petroleum, this is an interesting value Italian white.  Shows some bitter herbs on the finish.  Drink now.  About $12.

-  January 4, 2012

Olivares Monastrell Altos de la Hoya 2009 (Jumilla).  From high altitude vineyards, this exhibits sweet licorice, black pepper, and acetone scents, along with a plush but very lively body.  Cherry cola, fresh berries, bacon, and more licorice notes in the mouth.  Fresh acidity on the finish.  Drink now through 2015.  About $12.

-  January 3, 2012

Gruet Blanc de Noirs Non-Vintage (New Mexico).  Golden yellow in color, like rays of sunshine at dusk.  Citrusy and yeasty nose, with flavors of honey, orange marmalade, and red apple.  Nice profile and texture for the price.  Drink now.  About $15.

-  January 2, 2012

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 1996 (Napa Valley).  Fantastic purity and focus to the ripe cherry, cassis, and plum scents, with hints of vanilla and smoke.  Medium-bodied, elegant, but full of flavor intensity, with a very long, caressing finish.  Toffee, caramel, and bell pepper notes to go with the dark fruit.  Beautiful texture.  Not the greatest B.P.R., but still outstanding.  Mature, but will last for a few more years.  About $100.

-  January 1, 2012

Buitenverwachting Sauvignon Blanc Beyond 2010 (Coastal Region, South Africa).  Intense grass, fresh herb, jalapeño pepper, and tart lime notes, with nearly searing acidity.  Not at all a soft, but is interesting as a change of pace, and shows some chalk/pepper on the finish.  Drink now.  About $11.

-  December 31, 2011

Below are David's top 10 wines of 2011.  These were selected from over 200 recommended bottles this year, and while they are not necessarily the best wines, they are the most memorable for being interesting, surprising, and/or the most compelling. 

#1  -  Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf Du Pape 2007. 

#2  -  Tarlant Brut Tradition Champagne Non-Vintage. 

#3  -  Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas 2007. 

#4  -  Two Hands Shiraz Samantha's Garden 2002 (Clare Valley).

#5  -  Mas Doix Salanques 2007 (Priorat). 

#6  -  Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne Non-Vintage. 

#7  -  Tolaini Tenuta S. Giovanni Valdisanti 2006 (Toscana). 

#8  -  Möet et Chandon Dom Perignon Champagne 1996. 

#9  -  Beringer Howell Mountain Merlot Bancroft Ranch 1996 (Napa Valley). 

#10  -  Scharffenberger Brut Rosé Non-Vintage (Mendocino County). 


WINE RECOMMENDATIONS                                      MOBILE VERSION
NOTES:
  • Recommendations are not tasted blind
  • David looks for value as well as quality
  • Most are purchased from area stores, but also come from long-stored bottles in his collection
  • Some are obtained from winery mailing lists or from internet retailers
  • Other bottles are submitted by importers, distributors, or directly from wineries
  • Prices are approximate retail value
  • Most are tasted with one other person

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