Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Napa Valley). Tight and youthful, but offering coffee and cassis scents, this regular bottling from Hall is long and dense in the mouth, with real "palate grippyness". Leather and tobacco smoke notes, with a licorice finish, it's got plenty of stuffing for the future. Needs a few years to come together, but will last for another 15. About $50.
- December 27, 2011
Pere Ventura Cava Primer Reserva Non-Vintage. Floral scents from a blend of 35% Macabeo, 35% Xarel-lo, and 30% Parellada. Starts off with plenty of fruit flavors (ripe lemons, apples), then turns yeasty & minerally, with egg dough on the finish. Drink now. About $14.
- December 25, 2011
Bodegas Catena Zapata Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Mendoza). From high altitude vineyards comes this mint scented value from Argentina, with a broad, savory palate. Medium to full-bodied, with blackberry, boysenberry, espresso, and cola syrup flavors. Fine-grained, ripe tannins, and a licorice finish. Drink now through 2013. About $15.
- December 23, 2011
Chateau d'Armailac 2003 (Pauillac). Complex lavender, sweet tobacco, plums, vanilla, black cherry, and wet black soil scents. Medium-bodied, savory, and unmistakably Bordeaux, with iron, new leather, and macerated black fruit notes. Ready now, but will hold for another 6 years. About $50.
- December 22, 2011
Les Vins de Vienne Cotes du Rhone Blanc Les Laurelles 2010. Lanolin, wax, and cantaloupe on the nose, this is a really interesting full-bodied white. Ripe pear, anise, and blood orange flavors, with a spicy finish. Intriguing. Drink now through 2014. About $15.
- December 21, 2011
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs Non-Vintage (Carneros). The color of a pale rosé, with a steady, moderate bead. Shy aromatics hint at whole wheat grains and tart berry, but in the mouth it's expressive, showing lemon, cranberry, and apple flavors. Inviting, uncomplicated, and easygoing. Drink now. About $15.
- December 20, 2011
Banshee Pinot Noir 14 Barrels 2009 (Sonoma Valley). Robust cola, black cherry, anise, and fresh coffee aromas come off this showy, not delicate Pinot. Ripe, smooth, and dark, with a rich body that includes chocolate, berry, and cinnamon notes. Licorice on the finish. Drink now through 2014. About $18.
- December 18, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Moulin A Vent Flower Label 2009. Generous cola, raspberry, strawberry, flowers, and cherry notes. Medium-bodied, well-balanced, with a juicy but composed character. Hints of fresh herbs, like lavender or sage on the finish. Drink now. About $14.
- December 17, 2011
Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne Non-Vintage. Scents of candied pear and citrus emerge from a medium-bodied, intense bubbly of real character and power. Shows ginger, vanilla, butterscotch, spices, and lemon curd flavors, with a long, precise finish. Not in the elegant style, this is for pairing with a roasted chicken or a raging fireplace. Great now, but will certainly hold for a few years. About $45.
- December 16, 2011
Les Vins de Vienne Cotes du Rhone Les Cranilles 2009. Intense nose of graphite, incense, and flowers, followed up by very dark berry, licorice, and espresso flavors. Fantastic intensity, presence, and focus. What a value! Drink now through 2016. About $13.
- December 15, 2011
Simonnet-Febvre Chablis 2009. Pleasing lime peel, liquid limestone, and white peach on the nose. Medium-bodied, fresh, and vibrant, with solid green pear and more lime notes. On the lean side, but a very clean and enjoyable expression of Chardonnay. Drink now. Only about $15.
- December 14, 2011
Francisco Dominguez Mercat Cava Non-Vintage. This excellent value Cava is composed of Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada grapes, made in the traditional method, with 18 months on the lees. Expressive nose of pears and bread dough, a medium-body, and pleasant, softly fruity character. Finishes with hints of candied ginger. Drink now. About $15.
- December 12, 2011
Pierre Sparr Cremant d'Alsace Reserve Non-Vintage. Made from 90% Pinot Blanc with 10% Pinot Noir, this is strikingly clear, with notions of white grapefruit and white flowers on the nose. A bright, lively style that delivers tart citrus flavors on an open frame. Not very complex, but is good for an inexpensive aperitif. About $15.
- December 9, 2011
Scharffenberger Brut Rosé Non-Vintage (Mendocino County). Beautiful copper/peach color, with cranberries, lemons, brioche, and apples on the nose. Delicious, and very flavorful, without being over the top, this manages to stay lively on top of a medium-bodied texture. Closes with a hint of spice. Drink now. A bargain at about $22.
- December 8, 2011
Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Knights Valley). Classic cassis/black cherry scents, along with cedar and dark spices. Nice, ripe tannins support the leather and ripe black fruit notes, finishing strong with a hint of butterscotch. Fantastic for the price, and always reliable. About $18.
- December 6, 2011
Arnoux & Fils Gigondas Vieilles Vignes 2007. Campfire, charcoal, and ground coffee scents come off this impressive Rhone. Offers a powerful attack, with great density and focus. Black licorice, dark cherry, and bitter herbs. A masculine style. Ready now, but will be better in a couple of years. About $20.
- December 5, 2011
Sonoma Coast Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Laguna Vista Vineyards 2010 (Sonoma Coast). Effusive nose, featuring white peaches, melons, red apples, and brown pears. Nearly full-bodied, ripe, and soft-textured, with uncommon richness, but balanced by a tart finish. Tropical fruit, apple, and vanilla notes. Drink now. About $15.
- December 4, 2011
Bodegas Alto Almanzora Este 2008 (Vinedos de Espana). Scents of violets, black pepper, and briary fruit emerge from this open-textured, solid everyday value red. Good fruit and mocha flavors are supple and easygoing. A blend of 47% Monestrell, 23% Tempranillo, 12% Syrah, 6% Garnacha, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Merlot. Drink now. About $10.
- December 3, 2011
Dona Paula Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Mendoza). Red bell pepper and wild berry aromas come from this savory, medium-bodied value red. Charred oak, graphite, lavender notes to go with the dark fruit. Good intensity for the price. Drink now through 2014. About $14.
- December 1, 2011
Vinas del Cenit Venta Mazzaron 2007 (Tierra del Vino de Zamora). A favorite value Spanish red, this 100% Tempranillo offers abundant cherry/plum/blueberry fruit and copious smoke/bacon flavors. An upfront, likeable character, with ground dark spices on the finish. Drink now through 2015. About $15.
- November 30, 2011
Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino 2009. Exhibits a yellow/green cast, with an almost odd rubber glove and petroleum scents . . . but bursts on the plate with green apples, ripe tangerine, hints of tropical fruit, and spices. Full-bodied, with great balance, power, and overall harmony. Drink now through 2013. About $18.
- November 28, 2011
Marques de Caceres Rioja Reserva 2004. Opaque red, with an effusive nose of black fruit, tobacco smoke, subtle spice, and cinnamon crackers. Old school in style, with dried herbs, wild berry, and licorice flavors. Medium-bodied and still youthful, this could use a couple of years to mature. About $23.
- November 27, 2011
Ridge Lytton Springs 2007 (Dry Creek Valley). Like a bouquet of roses on the nose, along with plums, graphite, eucalyptus, and asphalt. Rich and elegant at the same time, with a beautiful and satiny texture, showing plums and boysenberry flavors. Long, pretty finish. At its peak now, but will hold for a few more years. Always a pleasure to drink. Composed of 71% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah, and 7% Carignane. About $35.
- November 26, 2011
Costa Lazaridis Amethystos 2009 (Drama). Made from primarily Sauvignon Blanc, with Semillon and Asyrtiko, this is Greek white is fresh and clean in character. White grapefruit, gooseberry, grass, and green melon notes. Almost creamy in the mouth, but not at all heavy, with a good herbal, zippy finish. Drink now. About $15.
- November 25, 2011
Delas Freres Cotes du Rhone Saint Esprit 2009. Good mix of dark fruit, tobacco, leather, and dried herbs on a medium-bodied frame. Not in the top category of 2009 CdR, but a solid example with good definition. Drink now. About $12.
- November 24, 2011
Girard Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Napa Valley). Pure, clean, and zippy, like an exciting white grapefruit. Hints of bell pepper and fresh herbs. Have this when the weather warms back up. About $12.
- November 23, 2011
Frei Brothers Reserve Merlot 2008 (Dry Creek Valley). Hearty Merlot, with welcome tannic structure allied to ripe plum/dark cherry fruit (especially on the attack). Hints of flowers, espresso, and charred oak. Medium-bodied, and a great value. Drink now through 2014. About $15.
- November 22, 2011
Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay 2010 (Marlborough). A consistently good value, this vintage boasts notions of white peaches, green apples, spring flowers, honeysuckle, and melon. Voluptuous, open texture, with an expressive nose and vibrant finish. Drink now. About $15.
- November 21, 2011
Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon H3 2008 (Horse Heaven Hills). Opaque purple/black, and showing inky scents to go with the very ripe blackberry and cola notes. Full-bodied, with intense blackberry, licorice, smoke, and coffee flavors. No hard edges. Impressive for the price. Drink now through 2014. About $14.
- November 20, 2011
Eugenio Collavini T Friulano 2010 (Collio). Suggestions of fresh straw, lemon, and mineral, finishing clean with orange peel and almond notes. Spritely and refreshing, this makes for an excellent aperitif. Drink now. About $12.
- November 19, 2011
Emmanuel Darnaud Mis en Bouche Crozes-Hermitage 2009. A dark profile, with loads of black pepper, iodine, and briary fruit on the nose. Masculine. Blueberry, lavender, and tobacco smoke notes, ending bright. 100% Syrah. Best to decant this for a few hours. Ready now, but will benefit from short-term cellaring. About $25.
- November 13, 2011
Cline Mourvèdre Ancient Vines 2009 (Contra Costa County). Dark and brooding nose, showing espresso and prunes, then turns (slightly) brighter in the mouth. Cream, blackberry, licorice candy, and pine notes. Ends with inky and bloody flavors (in a good way). Drink now through 2014. About $15.
- November 11, 2011
Umberto Cesari Liano 2008 (Rubicone). Ripe, generous, plump, and tasty, with plum, cherry, and coffee flavors. Soft, but with enough acidity to keep it honest. A blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. About $25.
- November 10, 2011
Stafford Hill by Halloran Pinot Noir 2009 (Eola-Amity Hills). Dark in color, and throwing off smoke/graphite scents, along with loads of bright cherry. Medium-bodied, starting with blueberry/cola notes before turning strongly peppery on the finish. Has a feral quality to it. Intriguing, and surprising. Drink now through 2015. About $20.
- November 9, 2011
Ferrari Carano Fumé Blanc 2010 (Sonoma County). White grapefruit, grass, and jalapeño aromas emerge from this value Sauvignon Blanc. Shows great focus and verve, with enough body to keep it interesting. Ripe citrus flavors turn to herbs and spices on the finish. A consistent winner. Drink now. About $13.
- November 8, 2011
Layer Cake Primitivo 2008 (Puglia). From the people who are responsible for Hundred Acre Cabernet comes this dark colored, well-made southern Italian red. Chocolate, coffee, and vanilla aromas come off a full-bodied, spicy, plump and approachable body. Cola notes complement lingering vanilla and black pepper flavors. Drink now through 2014. About $15.
- November 6, 2011
Torbreck Woodcutters Shiraz 2008 (Barossa Valley). Smells like a campfire (with emphasis on the charred wood), along with licorice and black fruit. Full-boded, rich, and extracted, with coffee, vanilla, anise, and blueberry flavors. Vibrant finish. Very tasty. Drink now through 2016. About $19.
- November 4, 2011
Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard 2007 (Napa Valley). An exclusive, almost mailing list only production, the Wight Vineyard designated bottling of this small winery is a full-throttle, super-rich example of Cabernet. Opaque purple/red, and smelling of concentrated pure cassis, with vanilla and white flowers. Very full-bodied, powerful and intense, this sticks to the palate with youthful dark cherry, charcoal, and licorice flavors. 15.8% alcohol. Best to wait 3 years, and will drink well for at least another decade. Purchased for about $75, but might be found on the open market for about $150.
- November 3, 2011
Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Marlborough). Classic aromas and flavors of gooseberry, lime, pea shoots, and green jalapeno pepper. Nice freshness and balance. Not outstanding, but a well-made inexpensive example of this type of wine. Drink now. About $11.
- November 2, 2011
Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap 2009 (Western Cape). A Rhone-styled blend of 65% Syrah, 32% Mourvedre, and 3% Viognier. Exhibits smoke, cherries, bacon, and charred wood notes on a full-bodied frame, with great intensity, and ripe fruit on the finish. Drink now through 2014. About $10.
- November 1, 2011
Tikal Malbec Natural 2009 (Mendoza). Coming from organically farmed grapes, this offers coffee grounds and prune scents, with a full-bodied, plush, mouthfeel in an international style. Plenty of vanilla/oak notes, along with soft berry fruit. More coffee on the finish. Drink now through 2016. About $17.
- October 31, 2011
Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc Charlotte's Home 2009 (Northern Sonoma). Hints of rubber glove on the nose, along with tropical fruit, melon, and citrus. Starts off ripe, then turns lean and refreshing, with butterscotch, lemon, and limestone notes. Drink now. About $12.
- October 30, 2011
Santi Valpolicella Classico Superiore Solane Ripasso 2008. Classic ripasso notes of ink, dried cherries, blueberries, coffee, and licorice. Medium-bodied, with great definition for the price. Stays bright and focused through the finish. Fine now, but will improve in a year or two. About $15.
- October 29, 2011
Gloria Ferrer Brut Non-Vintage (Sonoma). Slightly peach/gold in color, with precise citrus notes dominating the nose, along with bread dough and golden apple. Enjoyable, lively, and soft in texture. An easygoing, but not cloying style. Drink now. About $15.
- October 28, 2011
Goats do Roam White 2010 (South Africa). A good, cheap South African white made from 60% Viognier, 17% Roussanne, and 15% Grenache Blanc, this is aromatic (flowers, peaches), and medium to full-bodied while still lively at the same time. Coconut, honeydew, and apple notes. Drink now. About $9.
- October 27, 2011
Montinore Estate Almost Dry Riesling 2009 (Willamette Valley). Labeled "almost dry" is right . . .there's just a bare hint of sweetness here, balanced by razor-sharp acidity and zesty lime flavors. Very refreshing and clean, finishing with a wet river rock note. Made from organic grapes. Drink now. About $12.
- October 26, 2011
Chateau Bellevue La Randée 2009 (Bordeaux). For a generic Bordeaux, this offers an opaque red color, with plenty of smoke, leather, red bell pepper, oregano, and forest floor scents. Lavender and spice notes on the palate. Medium-bodied, with good depth for the price. Drink now through 2015. About $12.
- October 25, 2011
Roederer Estate Brut Non-Vintage (Anderson Valley). Fantastic, complex scents of whole wheat bread dough, nuts (almonds/hazelnuts), and hints of citrus and cream. Tart berries and preserved lemon flavors on a rich frame, finishing long and intense. A real bargain. About $20.
- October 23, 2011
Simonnet-Febvre Saint-Bris 2010. Smells and tastes like the essence of kaffir lime, along with hints of passion fruit, grass, and liquid minerals. Very energetic and intense, with fantastic, racy acidity. Very enjoyable, and very unusual for white Burgundy, this appellation near Chablis is the only place where Sauvignon Blanc is grown in the area. Drink now. About $12.
- October 22, 2011
Luce della Vite Lucente 2007 (Toscana). Leaps out of the glass with a perfume of plums, blackberries, and tomato plant. Soft, full-bodied, and with excellent balance, this is dominated by vanilla and gentle oak flavors. Made from Merlot, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2018. About $25.
- October 21, 2011
Matua Pinot Noir 2009 (Marlborough). Light in color as well as body, this offers sweet cherry, cloves, and green tobacco scents. Gains depth on the finish, where cola, dark spices, and mint notes show. Not a bold Pinot, but a well-made offering for times when richness isn't needed. Drink now. About $15.
- October 20, 2011
Yalumba Chardonnay Unwooded 2010 (South Australia). Flinty (or is it limestone?) on the nose, along with dandelion and asparagus. Relatively reserved, but warms up to reveal passion fruit, limes, and tart apple flavors. Good for its soft and easy character that's without faults. Drink now. About $10.
- October 19, 2011
Jean-Luc Colombo Côtes-du Rhône Les Abeilles 2009. Made from 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre, this exhibits surprising (for the price) aromas of charcoal, cherries, dusty earth, bell pepper, lavender, and grapefruit. More modest in the mouth, and without a strong mid-palate, there's black tea and cranberries on the attack. Good for the price. Try with grilled pork, and drink within the next couple of years. About $10.
- October 18, 2011
Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve 2007 (Alsace). Clean, bright scents of green apple and suggestions of butterscotch. Soft and plump in the mouth, with juicy peach, melon,and marigold notes. Stays vibrant on the dry finish. Drink now. About $15.
- October 17 ,2011
J. Lohr Petite Sirah Tower Road 2008 (Paso Robles). Dark, dark . . . an almost impenetrable character that's typical Petite Sirah, but that's not to say there isn't plenty of blackberries, cola, mocha, boysenberry, and prune flavors. Isn't fatiguing for 15% alcohol, but definitely has a port-like quality. Drink now through 2016. About $15.
- October 15, 2011
Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf Du Pape 2007. Fantastic, focused aromatics of seaweed, smoke, cherry liqueur, toast, and wet moss. Gorgeous, supple texture and remarkable purity on the palate, where the hints of iodine/sea salt show, then licorice and crushed fruit. Long, long, pretty finish that sails on with all of its vibrant, delicious energy. Contains 75% Grenache. Great now, but will be better in a couple of years, and will last a decade. About $50.
- October 14, 2011
Summers Charbono Villa Andriana Vineyard 2008 (Napa Valley). Deep purple. Smells and tastes like a hypothetical blend of crushed blueberries and pen ink, with dust, anise, and shitake mushroom notes. Soft tannin, but with supportive acidity to the wealth of fruit. Interesting wine, from a very unusual grape. Drink now. About $20.
- October 13, 2011
Kermit Lynch Côtes-du Rhône 2009. Wet earth, blueberry, dark cherry, and strong peppery notes on the nose. Powerful, masculine, and almost overwhelmingly full of black pepper flavors, but makes up for it with great focus and intensity. Medium-bodied. Needs air to bring out the nuance of seaweed, iron, and blood flavors. Wait a few years to open up, and have it with a steak. About $15.
- October 12, 2011
La Cartuja 2009 (Priorat). Dark, smoky aromas that include leather, wild berry, and lavender. Very good intensity and focus, with excellent balance to the blueberry flavors, ending in tobacco. For 15% alcohol, this manages to stay elegant, and not at all heavy. A nice whole package, and an outstanding value. Made from 50% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah. Ready now, but will be better in a year, and will last for another 5. About $15.
- October 11, 2011
Bodega Pirineos Mesache Rosado 2010 (Somontano). This ripe, almost full-bodied Spanish rosé is composed of 60% Tempranillo and 30% Garnacha (no word on the rest), and offers a bright, cherry-infused nose, with hints of oranges, tomato, and raspberries. Pleasing in the mouth, with a little bitterness on the finish, this is no delicate rosé. Drink now. About $11.
- October 10, 2011
Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Medalla Real 2007 (Maipo Valley). Smells of dense, ripe blackberry, underbrush, and wild berry, with a masculine, youthful style to it. Could use a year or two to soften the backbone, but it's a solid Cabernet right now that offers great fruit, tobacco, and anise notes. About $16.
- October 9, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Saint-Véran 2009. Very clean, supple, and refreshing in character, with pea shoot, lemon, tart apple, and clover notes. Not outstanding, but lively and enjoyable. Drink now. About $13.
- October 8, 2011
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz 2007 (Barossa). Effusive nose of coffee, vanilla, blueberry, cream, cola, and pine. With great purity and a voluptuous mouthfeel, this is full-bodied, with bacon, evergreen, and black pepper notes. Good acidity on the finish. Drink now through 2015. About $20.
- October 7, 2011
La Posta Malbec Cocina 2009 (Mendoza). Starts off loaded with black pepper, the moves to dark fruit (blueberries, plums), and cream. Plenty of charcoal and dark chocolate notes. Stays lively and supple through the finish. Drink now. About $15.
- October 6, 2011
Domaine Carneros Brut 2007 (Carneros). Honeydew melon, dry biscuit, and ginger scents. There's some good fruit notes to go with the chalk, lemon curd, and subtle baking spices on the lengthy finish. Great now, but will improve in a year, and last for a few more. About $25.
- October 5, 2011
St. Michael-Eppan Pinot Bianco 2010 (Alto Adige). Clean limestone scents, along with spring flowers. Not generous, but attractive and well-made, showing ripe peach, fresh herb, and tangerine notes. Drink now. About $12.
- October 4, 2011
Bodegas Naia Las Brisas 2010 (Rueda). Tastes like the juice of a really ripe white grapefruit, this is not complex or profound, but is extremely well executed, and very enjoyable for what it does. Keeps you coming back for more, and is happy in its exuberance. Drink now. About $10.
- October 3, 2011
Michel Gassier Côtes-du Rhône Villages Cercius 2009. An Eric Soloman imported blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah from the village of Visan, this is yet another example of the excellence of the 2009 southern Rhône. Green tobacco, plum, campfire, and chocolate cookie aromas are allied with outstanding purity, freshness, and delineation. Delicious cherry liqueur, blueberry, burnt wood, roasted coffee, and blue ink flavors on a full-bodied frame. Ready now, but will last another 5 years. A bargain. About $15.
- October 2, 2011
Quattro Mani Fanciacorta Brut Non-Vintage. Hints of bread dough and flowers on the nose turn to white grapefruit and clover honey in the mouth. On the austere side, with racy acidity and focus, but still manages to carry itself well through the toasty finish. Drink now. About $15.
- October 1, 2011
Beringer Howell Mountain Merlot Bancroft Ranch 1996 (Napa Valley). Crimson/brick color, with a sweetly floral nose. Builds on the palate to release beautiful cherry, lavender, smoke, anise, and freshly brewed coffee flavors. Excellent purity and definition. Mature, gorgeous wine, from a single vineyard, among one of the string of excellent 90's vintages. About $75.
- September 30, 2011
Big House Chardonnay Unchained 2010 (California). This unoaked Chard is uncomplicated and easygoing in texture, with modest ripe pear, red apple, and tangerine notes. A very approachable, balanced, quaffable white. At only $20 for a 3 liter box, this works out to only $5 a bottle.
- September 29, 2011
Hahn Estates Cabernet Franc 2009 (Central Coast). Good blueberry, blackberry, licorice, red bell pepper, vanilla, and black pepper notes, especially for this price. Ripe, fleshy, with an easy, soft texture that's made for early consumption. Cheap Cab Franc! About $10.
- September 28, 2011
Domaine de la Pépiere Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie 2009. Enjoyable for its solid core of zippy limes (both juice and zest), along with fresh herbs/grass, oyster shells, and subtle melon. Excellent to get your appetite going. Drink now. About $12.
- September 21, 2011
Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2004. Elegant perfume, primarily of roses, but also tar, red licorice, and smoke. Very youthful and exuberant in the mouth, with great definition, purity, and focus. Cherry flavors move to bacon on the finish. Fine now, but will benefit from a couple years of age, and will last another 15. About $50.
- September 14, 2011
Domaine Moulinier Rosé 2010 (Saint-Chinian). Made from 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache, this is pale rose/copper in color, and exhibits pretty floral scents, along with red berry, citrus, and hints of funk. Solid, with flavors of valencia orange, tart red berry, and lemon zest. A touch of smoke on the finish, with good backbone. About $15.
- September 8, 2011
Château de Castelneau 2009 (Entre-Deux-Mers). Made from 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, and 20% Muscadelle, this white Bordeaux is reminiscent of river rocks, tangerine, honeydew melon, and chalk on the nose. Not ostentatious in the mouth, but showing fresh herbs (chives, basil), and golden delicious apple flavors. Great with a goat cheese salad. Drink now. About $12.
- September 6, 2011
Mas Doix Salanques 2007 (Priorat). Fantastic, intense perfume of crushed blueberries, plums, freshly brewed coffee, incense, and melted red licorice. Full-bodied, sexy, and plush, with an impressive multi-layered mid-palate and long finish. Pine/eucalyptus and black fruit flavors really sail on. Made from 65% Garnacha, 15% Carinera, and small amounts of Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fantastic now, but will hold for another eight years. About $30.
- September 5, 2011
Altovinum Evodia Garnacha Old Vines 2009 (Calatayud). From high-altitude Grenache vineyards, this exuberant Spanish red boasts juicy, overt fruit (mostly ripe cherry), with a backing of tobacco, coffee, and toffee. Smoke notes on the finish. Made for early drinking. About $9.
- September 4, 2011
Olivier Sumeire La Croix du Prieur 2010 (Côtes de Provence). Pretty salmon/copper color, with a nose that offers spring flowers, lemon peel, raspberries, green apples, mint, dried roses, and watermelon. Crisp, inviting, and enjoyable for an end of summer picnic. About $15.
- September 3, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Juliénas La Trinquée 2009. Dark ruby, and exhibiting good intensity of cola, black raspberry, cherry, blueberry, and cinnamon aromas. Impressive focus, density and extraction. Clove notes on the finish round out the black fruit. Has something extra. Ready now through 2015. About $16.
- August 24, 2011
Norton Malbec Reserva 2007 (Mendoza). Dark in profile, with prune, boysenberry, charcoal, and heavily toasted bread aromas. Masculine, and medium-bodied, with outstanding density of flavor, featuring squid ink, dried oregano/thyme, and espresso. Drink now through 2014. About $15.
- August 23, 2011
The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Awatere Valley). Very clear, with real intense gooseberry, white grapefruit, mango, passion fruit, and lime zest notes. Stays zippy and exciting through the lip-smacking finish. Drink now. About $11.
- August 22, 2011
Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage Champagne Non-Vintage. Strikingly red in color, and featuring peaches, raspberries, bread dough, and cranberries on the nose. Rock solid. Red berry flavors turn to smoke, coffee, and spices on the finish. Just this side of austere. Drink within a couple of years. About $45.
- August 21, 2011
Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Napa Valley). Classic Cabernet scents of cassis, with red bell pepper and black plums. Medium-bodied, direct, and old-school in style. Good eucalyptus and licorice notes to go with the fruit, then mocha on the finish. Drink now through 2014. About $30.
- August 19, 2011
Fontaleoni Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2010. A very versatile Italian white, featuring a salty, tart citrus tang, along with limestone and coriander notes. Moves toward tangerine on the finish. Drink now. About $10.
- August 17, 2011
M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2009 (Côtes du Roussillon Villages). Composed of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan, this offers scents of smoke, green bell pepper, underbrush, rosemary, thyme, and hints of roses. A hearty, masculine style, with black pepper and licorice notes. A sturdy red for grilled meat. Great now, or within a couple years. About $13.
- August 15, 2011
Duca del Frassino Garganega/Pinot Grigio 2010 (Venezie). From a 3 liter box, and showing scents of pencil shavings and some earthy notes. Very clear, with hints of green. Lime, pear, and green apples on the palate. Pleasant, and uncomplicated (at this price, that's all that's expected). Made by Cantina di Soave, with 80% Garganega. Drink now. At about $20 per 3 liter box, this works out to $5/bottle.
- August 14, 2011
Honig Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Napa Valley). Cedar, plums, cassis, and subtle flowers on the nose. A ripe, effusive palate dominated by cassis and blueberry, leading to a lingering finish, with tobacco and coffee notes to go with the wealth of ripe fruit. Friendly in texture. Drink within the next 3-5 years. About $40.
- August 11, 2011
Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes-du Rhône Samorëns 2009. Very good white Rhône, featuring interesting scents of limestone, honey, peaches, exotic fruit (rambutan/coconut), and lanolin. Medium to full-bodied, with a clear, straw color. Drink now. About $13.
- August 10, 2011
Mas Guiot 2010 (Pays du Gard). Made from 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache, this southern Rhône red exhibits complex scents of smoke, boysenberry, cranberry, coffee, caramel, black pepper, and hints of leather. Very spicy in the mouth (primarily black pepper), along with leather and green tobacco. Solid. Drink now through 2016. About $10.
- August 8, 2011
Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2010 (California). Cola, wet soil, ink, plums, and blackberry scents emerge from this super-ripe, high octane (15% alcohol) Zin. Freshly brewed coffee and eucalyptus flavors turn to prune and other dark fruit. Drink now. About $15.
- August 7, 2011
Maximo Viura 2009 (Castilla). This supple textured, easy to enjoy Spanish white is round and effortless, featuring ripe pear, golden apple, citrus, and hints of guava. Drink now. About $9.
- August 6, 2011
Domaine de la Quilla Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie 2009. Vibrant and fresh, with kaffir lime, oyster shell, sea air, tart apple, salt notes. Mouthwatering. A delicious aperitif. Drink now. About $13.
- August 5, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Régnié Domaine des Buyats 2009. Friendly cherry, tobacco, cola, and incense aromas emerge from this ruby-colored Cru Beaujolais. Good balance, with a refined, medium-bodied style, but dark in flavor. Drink now. About $14.
- August 4, 2011
Anselmi San Vincenzo 2010 (Veneto). Very yellow in color, this Italian white offers clementine, honey, and mineral aromas. Medium to full-bodied and soft in texture, with a fresh juicy character that includes kiwi and citrus notes. Drink now. About $13.
- August 1, 2011
Charles Lafitte Brut Rosé Champagne Non-Vintage. Copper/peach in color. Bread dough, strawberries, and candied ginger scents. Effusive mango flavors on the attack, then moves to red delicious apple and currant notes, finishing with honey tangerine. Lively, and made for immediate consumption. About $30.
- July 31, 2011
Familia Zuccardi Serie A Malbec 2009. Spicy/peppery scents, along with ripe plum, boysenberry, and briar patch. Very chocolaty in the mouth, plus cream soda and wild berry notes. Turns to vanilla and mocha flavors on the finish. Solid value. Drink now. About $10.
- July 30, 2011
Marqués de Cáceres Rioja White 2010. Dry, crisp, and with plenty of verve, this 100% Viura is a great candidate for case purchase. Minerals, white peach, flowers, and hints of lime zest. Not the most complex, but is a serious value. Try with grilled shellfish. Drink now. About $9.
- July 28, 2011
Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008. Cherries, cola, subtle tobacco/smoke/spices are evident on the nose. Medium-bodied, soft and velvety in texture, and elegant in manner. Good purity of fruit (primarily cherry/blackberry), ending with a coffee note. About $23. Drink now through 2016.
- July 27, 2011
Domaine Lafage Côte Est 2009 (Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes). Coconut, tropical fruit, and cream aromas emerge from this medium-bodied, well-crafted blend from southern France. The coconut scents are echoed on the palate, along with citrus, melon, red apple, and honey. Turns medicinal on the finish. Made from 50% Grenache, 30% Chardonnay, and 20% Marsanne. Drink now. About $10.
- July 26, 2011
Mas Carlot Les Enfants Terribles 2009 (Costières de Nîmes). Composed of 50% Mourvèdre and 50% Syrah, this is an excellent value in a Southern Rhone red. Opaque red, and offering dark aromas of cloves, black cherries, cola, and charcoal. Intense attack, with terrific density and powerful mid-palate. Cough syrup, black pepper, black fruit, licorice, and smoke notes. Ready now, but will last for another 5-7 years. About $15.
- July 24, 2011
Domaine du Rin Du Bois Touraine 2009. Soft and pleasant, with white grapefruit, minerals, grass, and orange peel notes. Finishes lively and juicy, with tropical fruit/lime flavors as it warms in the glass. Sauvignon Blanc. Drink now. About $10.
- July 22, 2011
Martínez Lacuesta Rioja White 2010. Offers precise white peach, lime, tangerine, and river rock scents, with hints of grass. Medium-bodied, fresh and inviting, this is elegant, supple, and a good change of pace. Drink now. About $10.
- July 19, 2011
Francois Chidaine Touraine Rosé 2010. Composed of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Grolleau, this easygoing Loire is pink/orange in color, and offers scents of strawberries, peaches, grass, and hints of dishwater. Pleasant pink grapefruit/cranberry flavors. Not excellent, but serves its purpose on a hot summer day. Drink now. About $10.
- July 15, 2011
Domaine Les Grandes Bois Côtes du Rhone Cuvée Les Trois Soeurs 2009. Opaque purple/red, and offering complex, dark scents of oregano, ripe cherry, smoke, black earth, mushrooms, and hints of flowers. Full-throttle, gusty, and masculine in style, this is not a delicate wine. Shows coffee grounds initially, then licorice on the structured finish. Great value. About $15.
- July 8, 2011
Coppo Gavi La Rocca 2010. Smelling like liquid minerals, along with lemon peel and subtle fresh herbs (mint/basil). Energetic, with crushed rocks and citrus flavors. Ends with a spicy note. A refined style. About $15.
- July 7, 2011
Inama Bradissimo 2006 (Veneto). An uncommon red blend from Veneto made of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Carmenere, this is very perfumed, featuring cologne, violets, licorice, pine needles, vanilla, smoke, deet, and French oak. Medium-bodied and savory, with dense blue fruit, eucalyptus, and tobacco flavors. A red wine for all seasons. Good now (with aeration), but will improve in 2-3 years, and last for another 5. About $30.
- July 6, 2011
Jean-Francios Mérieau Touraine L'Arpent des Vaudons 2009. Inviting, tropical fruit/lime aromas are echoed in the mouth, along with juicy mango, anise, and green melon flavors. A surprisingly rich Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire. Drink now. About $15.
- July 5, 2011
Norton Privada 2007 (Mendoza). Thick, ripe, and plush, with an opaque purple/red color, this offers plenty of blueberry and cassis aromas on a full-bodied frame. Super-ripe, and tasting of cola, prunes, and subtle smoke, it manages to avoid going over-the-top, with a lasting finish. Made from Malbec, Merlot, and Cabernet. Drink now through 2016. About $25.
- July 4, 2011
Domaine du Tariquet Classic 2009 (Côtes de Gascogne). Composed of 70% Ugni Blanc and 30% Colombard, this expresses an interesting petroleum note throughout, along with green melon, flowers, kaffir lime, and freshly mown lawn. Finishes dry and lively. Drink now. About $9.
- July 3, 2011
Bodegas Pedro Escudero Fuente Milano 2009 (Castilla y León). Made from equal parts Verdejo and Viura, this is an easy to enjoy summer white, reminiscent of orange blossoms, pears, fresh herbs, tangerine juice, and hints of spice. Medium-bodied, with plenty of zing, this should be consumed within the next 2 years. About $10.
- July 2, 2011
C'est La Vie Syrah Rosé 2009 (Pays d'Oc). Composed of 100% Syrah, this is effortless and refreshing, showing an orange-red color, and a fresh nose of citrus, raspberries, and flowers. Tasty, with fresh berries, orange juice, apples, and pepper on the finish. Drink now. About $10.
- July 1, 2011
Domaine Georges Viornery Côte de Brouilly 2009. Deep crimson, and exhibiting cherries, dark cola, peat, graphite, strawberries, and blueberries on the nose. Medium-boded, with clear structure in both acidity and fine tannin. Cold, wet earth notes on the palate, not unlike moss, with mild astringency, and hints of grapefruit. Shows class. Ready now, but will last 5 years. About $15.
- June 31, 2011
Chimney Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Marlborough). Solid, well-executed New Zealand Sauv Blanc, showing gooseberry, lime, grass, and bell pepper notes. Good precision, with plenty of admirable acidity, this isn't the most exciting example, but definitely worth a try for the price. Drink now. About $11.
- June 30, 2011
Bosquet Des Papes Chateauneuf Du Pape Cuvée Tradition 2007. Refined aromas of cherries, licorice, subtle smoke, and freshly brewed coffee. Excellent density of flavor, a layered, expansive mid-palate, with a medium to full-body. Cranberry/cherry flavors echo on the long finish. Ready now, but will last another 8 years. About $40.
- June 29, 2011
Cave du Vendomois Lieu-dit Cocagne Rosé 2010 (Côteaux du Vendomois). Made from 100% Pineau d'Aunis, this is reminiscent of pink grapefruit, strawberries, and spring flowers. Tart (in a good way), and ending with sweet herb flavors. Enjoy this on a hot summer day, preferably with a salad and someone fun. Drink now. About $11.
- June 28, 2011
Inama Soave Classico 2009. Strikingly yellow in color, with stone fruit, rambutan, orange, and limestone notes on a medium-bodied frame. Enjoyable for the purity of flavor, while retaining verve on the finish. Drink now. About $12.
- June 24, 2011
Möet et Chandon Dom Perignon Champagne 1996. Golden in color, and fading somewhat in effervescence, this is all about density of flavor allied with elegance. Hazelnut, coffee, red apples, bread dough, and red berry notes on a focused frame. Hints of ginger and marzipan on the finish. Mature, but still shows plenty of acidity and power. The real thing. About $150.
- June 23, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Chiroubles Flower Label 2009. Sweet cherry, cola, coffee, blackberry, and black raspberry scents emerge from this supple, fresh Cru Beaujolais. Inviting, easy texture, with cranberry and spice notes on the finish. Drink now. About $12.
- June 22, 2011
Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas 2007. This opaque purple/red blend of 75% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault is an impressive example of the outstanding 2007 vintage in the Southern Rhone. Offers complex wild berry, tar, roasted meat, tobacco, leather, and charcoal scents that are intriguing and seductive. Shows excellent concentration, depth, and intensity, with dark fruit and smoke flavors. Builds up to cherry and licorice notes on the finish. Still youthful, but certainly drinkable, this will last at least another 10 years. About $40.
- June 21, 2011
Château Grande Cassagne Rosé 2010 (Costières de Nîmes). Watermelon-like color, with a shy nose, but offering white peach, strawberry, and green apple flavors. Herbal on the finish, with zippy acidity. Great for a picnic. Drink now. About $11.
- June 16, 2011
Santa Ema Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Maipo Valley). White grapefruit, grass, and tomatillo scents, with a palate that's vibrant and fresh. Plenty of tropical fruit (mango/passion fruit), and finishes clean. Not exciting, but ultimately a good, solid value. About $9.
- June 13, 2011
Concha y Toro Carmenere Casillero del Diablo 2009 (Rapel Valley). Boysenberry, red bell pepper, plums, and coffee scents. Medium-bodied, and showing black pepper notes to go with the berry qualities. Toasty oak on the finish. Good value. Drink now through 2014. About $10.
- June 12, 2011
Tohu Unoaked Chardonnay 2009 (Marlborough). Ripe aromatics that include red apples, peaches, and tangerines. Fleshy in the mouth, and dominated by tropical fruit flavors (mango, passion fruit, coconut). Round and easygoing. Finishes with crisp acidity. Drink now. About $12.
- June 11, 2011
Domaine de la Hersandière Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie 2009. Fresh, and very zippy in a classic Muscadet way, with both fresh limes and limestone notes, as well as salty sea air. Made for the summer. Drink now. About $10.
- June 10, 2011
Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris Rosé 2010 (Corbières). Beautiful peach/pink hue, and possessing an elegant, refined style, as well as superb balance. Naval oranges, tart raspberry, and subtle green herbs. Supple texture. A Kermit Lynch selection. Drink now. About $15.
- June 9, 2011
Artazuri Garnacha Rosé 2010 (Navarra). Bright pink/red, and offering aromas of flowers, raspberries, and citrus. Enjoyable, with ripe red fruit, zesty acidity, and superb balance. Drink now. About $12.
- June 8, 2011
Domaine Carneros Brut 2006 (Carneros). Very clear, with hints of green, this is lively and possessing a delicate nose of white grapefruit and lightly toasted bread. Starts off slow, then builds on the palate to reveal lime and green apple flavors, ending with bread dough. An elegant style. Drink now, or hold for a couple years. About $23.
- June 7, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Brouilly Flower Label 2009. Perhaps the lightest in body so far for a 2009 Cru Beaujolais, but has definite structure (both acidity and tannin), to support the cherry, tobacco, Nyquil, black tea, and smoke notes. Good intensity. Good now, but will last at least 3 years. About $12.
- June 5, 2011
Tolaini Tenuta S. Giovanni Valdisanti 2006 (Toscana). Leaps out of the glass with complex aromas of cherry, leather, currant, incense, tobacco, an coffee. Elegant, yet dense and highly extracted, showing dark fruit, vanilla, spices, and black tea on the palate. Turns expansive with time in the glass. Made from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Decant now, but better to wait a couple of years, and will last for at least another five. About $30.
- June 4, 2011
Dominio del Plata Crios Malbec Rosé 2010 (Mendoza). Fiery light red, with a penetrating ripe red fruit nose that also shows flowers and citrus. An effusive berry style, with plenty of raspberry, strawberry, mint, and cola flavors. A fun, easygoing texture. Drink now. About $11.
- June 3, 2011
Seghesio Zinfandel 2009 (Sonoma County). Boysenberry, blackberry, and ink scents emerge from this dense, powerful Zin. Flavors of York Peppermint Patty, black fruit, and black pepper, with excellent purity. Pine and maple syrup on the finish. Drink now, or hold for a few years. About $22.
- June 2, 2011
Château Pesquié Terrasses Rosé 2010 (Ventoux). Pretty hue. Solid, with a good core of watermelon, strawberry, tobacco, and orange rind flavors. Turns dusty on the finish. A very dry style. 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 10% Syrah. About $13.
- June 1, 2011
Brancott Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Marlborough). Shows excellent clarity, with piercing white grapefruit, grass, and pea shoot scents. Zippy, mouthwatering fruit and acidity that keep you coming back for more. Bell pepper and fresh herb notes on the finish. Not the most complex, but very fresh and inviting. About $11.
- May 30, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Morgon Côte Du Py 2009. Deep magenta. Aromas of ball point pen ink, charcoal, and black fruit. Very dark profile, tasting like salami, black plums, wild berries, and smoke/black leather. Impressive for its dark, ripe masculine intensity. Give this to someone who thinks Beaujolais is wimpy. Ready now, but will hold for another 2-3 years. About $15.
- May 29, 2011
Château Lancyre Pic Saint-Loup Rosé 2010 (Coteaux du Languedoc). Peach colored, and very ripe, showing strawberry, banana, and fresh-squeezed orange juice notes. A fun, fruity style, with just enough acidity to keep it in check. Made from 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Cinsault. Drink now. About $13.
- May 27, 2011
San Michele Appiano Sauvignon Lahn 2009 (Südtirol-Alto Adige). Very impressive for its intensity of gooseberry/mineral/white grapefruit/grass flavors and aromas. Very elegant, with real depth on the mid-palate, and excellent freshness. Limestone on the finish. Outstanding old-world Sauvignon Blanc. About $16.
- May 26, 2011
Les Lauzeraies Tavel 2009. Pretty watermelon color, with hints of orange, this offers floral, white peach, and raspberry scents. Dances on the tongue, with a supple texture and pleasing acidity. Rhubarb and strawberry flavors turn to chalky notes on the finish. Drink now. About $15.
- May 25, 2011
Marabino Nero d'Avola 2008 (Noto). Reminiscent of smoke, leather, tart cherry, toothpaste, and hints of barnyard, and then garden weeds after the rain. Nice acidity on the finish (coffee notes). Don't have this on its own, because it's great with pasta with a red sauce. Drink now through 2014. About $17.
- May 24, 2011
Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha 2008 (Calatayud). Ripe cherries and smoke scents emerge from this value-priced everyday red from Spain. Loaded with cherry flavors, and very peppery, this is easygoing in texture, with a soft, pleasant character. Drink now. About $11.
- May 23, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Morgon Jean Descombes 2009. Deep clear purple, with aromas reminiscent of smoke, plums, cedar, and burnt gingerbread cookie. Juicy and fresh, with a lot of punch for the weight. Red/black licorice notes to go with the red cherry flavors. Drink now. About $14.
- May 22, 2011
Navarro Correas Malbec Colección Privada 2008 (Mendoza). A solid everyday red, featuring an opaque blue/red color, with smoke, wild berry, squid ink, and hints of underbrush on the nose. Plenty of toasty oak, blackberry, and plum flavors. Drink now. About $11.
- May 21, 2011
Marqués de Cáceres Rosé 2010 (Rioja). Deep pink. Interesting raspberry, vaseline, sweet onion, and melon scents. Shows deft balance, with strawberry, cream, and flower notes, turning earthy on the finish. Tasty. Drink now. About $10.
- May 20, 2011
Domaines Grassa LaLande Rosé 2010 (Vin De Pays Du Comté Tolosan). Fairly deep color for rosé, with flavors and aromas suggesting watermelon, strawberries, and red grapefruit. Very refreshing and vibrant, but also unusually juicy on the mid-palate. Turns to darker flavors on the finish. Drink now. About $11.
- May 17, 2011
Viña Falernia Pedro Ximenez Reserva 2010 (Elqui Valley). Aromas reminiscent of green melons, granny smith apples, and fresh parsley, this is very refreshing on the attack, then moves to denser ripe melon flavors. Ends with zippy acidity, a nutty note, and excellent purity. Drink now. About $10.
- May 16, 2011
Chateau Puech-Haut Prestige 2009 (Coteaux du Languedoc). Made from 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah, this shows a dark purple hue, followed by plenty of ripe blueberry, blackberry, flowers, licorice, and dark raspberry jam scents. Fleshy, dense, and full-bodied. Dark fruit, cola, tobacco, and licorice flavors that are plump and forward. Ready now, or hold for a few years. About $18.
- May 15, 2011
Domaine Félines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet 2009 (Languedoc). Light golden yellow color, this is expressive on the nose, with green and yellow apple scents, along with fresh fennel and lemons. Appealing and juicy in the mouth, with plenty of zippy fruit, then minerals and grass on the finish. Perfect with the summer. Drink now. About $10.
- May 14, 20111
Starborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Marlborough). A real fruit bomb of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with tons of lively lime, grapefruit, green guava, sweet pea, jalapeño, and mango notes. Really throws it out there. For fans of this style. Drink now. About $11.
- May 13, 2011
Kourtakis Moscofilero 2008 (Mantinia). Clean, bright, and refreshing, with a white grapefruit profile that would be great as an apertif, or with shellfish. Hints of flowers and grass, then subtle earthiness on the finish. Drink now. About $12.
- May 12, 2011
Roederer Estate Brut Rosé Non-Vintage (Anderson Valley). Copper in color, with hints of peach. Lively. Complex aromas of bread dough, hazelnuts, ginger, and wheat biscuits. A masculine style, showing real power and intensity. Red apple and berry flavors. Stays intense on the long finish. Plenty of flavor for this price. About $26.
- May 10, 2011
Domaine Houchart Rosé 2010 (Côtes de Provence). With a color that's pale, unsaturated pink, with hints of orange, this shows off lively lavender/cranberry scents. Electric in the mouth, with strawberry and currant flavors. Some earthiness on the finish. Drink now. About $11.
- May 9, 2011
Chateau de Flaugergues La Mejanelle Rosé 2010 (Coteaux du Languedoc). Light watermelon in color, with very pretty aromas of flowers, cherry, and lemon peel. Clean, fun, bright, and very enjoyable for its tart berry profile. Herbs on the finish. Drink now. About $12.
- May 8, 2011
Ceretto Barolo Zonchera 2005. Ruby/rust colored. Very perfumed, with classic Nebbiolo scents of roses, tar, sweet tobacco, blackberry, pepper, and blue ink. Made in a softer, more accessible style, this exhibits dark earth, cherries, and green bell pepper flavors. Good intensity of flavor, without heaviness. Drink now through 2018. About $45.
- May 7, 2011
Sitios de Bodega Con Class 2009 (Rueda). This Spanish white value offers scents of honey, oranges, melon, and hints of fresh herbs. Smooth-textured, ripe, and generous in the mouth, with excellent acidity and tasty citrus fruit. Ends with an mineral note. Made from 60% Verdejo, 25% Viura, and 15% Sauvignon Blanc. About $12.
- May 6, 2011
Kunde Sauvignon Blanc Magnolia Lane 2009 (Sonoma Valley). Expressive blood orange, grass, and guava scents are followed by a medium-bodied, vibrant palate suggesting melon, citrus, and of tropical fruit. Hints at petroleum on the finish. Good character for the price. Bring on the seafood! About $13.
- May 5, 2011
Two Hands Shiraz Samantha's Garden 2002 (Clare Valley). Opaque purple/red, with an abundant perfume of blackberries, wood smoke, licorice, vanilla, mocha, and ripe plums. Very full-bodied and smooth in the mouth. Offers outstanding depth, great purity, and amazing richness. Gushing with ripe black fruit, vanilla, pine, and caramel flavors, but balanced by harmonious acidity. Pumps out flavor on the long finish. A candidate for top 10 wines of the year. Ready now, but will carry on for 5 more years. About $60.
- May 4, 2011
Vinedos de Aldeanueva Cortijo III Tinto 2009 (Rioja). Composed of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha, this ruby in color, and exhibits black pepper, forest floor, vanilla, and smoke scents. Shows great vibrancy to the cranberry flavors, with licorice on the finish. Easygoing, and great with pasta with marinara sauce. Drink now. About $10.
- May 3, 2011
Elk Cove Pinot Gris 2009 (Willamette Valley). Fresh peach and red apple aromas are offered from this approachable, easy Oregon value white. Ripe, almost fleshy texture to the the nectarine, butterscotch, orange, and tropical fruit flavors. Drink now. About $13.
- May 2, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Régnié Flower Label 2009. Cedar, cola, and deep black cherry scents emerge from this well-crafted Cru Beaujolais. Shows real richness and almost power for this price, with excellent acidity to match. Smoke and tart blackberry jam flavors. Drink now, or hold for a couple of years. About $12.
- May 1, 2011
Château Jouclary Cabardes Rosé 2010 (Languedoc). A light-bodied, bright, dry rosé, featuring modest cherry and clementine flavors. Bell pepper and herb aromas. There's enough vibrancy to balance out the creamy finish. Not the best rosé so far this season, but still very enjoyable. About $12.
- April 30, 2011
Alois Lageder Chardonnay 2009 (Alto Adige). A clear, precise, and elegant style of Chard, featuring river rock and lemongrass aromas. A great beam of acidity carries the limestone and green apple flavors. Makes you crave a shellfish risotto. Drink now. About $13.
- April 29, 2011
MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir 2007 (Russian River Valley). Cola, smoke, cherries, coffee, and red dirt aromas emerge from this dark Pinot. Smooth texture, with deep, fine tannins, and a mid-palate "stickiness". Impressive density of flavor, hinting at cocoa. Drink now. About $20.
- April 28, 2011
Martín Códax Albariño 2009 (Rías Baixas). Pale yellow, and offering scents of green olive, apple, and fresh herbs. Enjoyable for its clementine and fresh herb profile, with singing acidity and freshness. A green apple note on the finish. Drink now. About $12.
- April 27, 2011
Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin 2010 (Marlborough). Classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but in a good way. Heck, in a GREAT way, with its lime, gooseberry, and grass profile, but with almost juicy passion fruit and guava notes. Zippy, and enjoyable. Drink now. About $11.
- April 26, 2011
Bodegas Ateca Atteca Old Vines 2009 (Calatayud). A bit dusty aromatically, along with coffee and prune scents. Eucalyptus on the attack, then medium-bodied and plush, with excellent plum, red grapefruit, and cherry flavors. Stays vibrant the whole way through, with notable intensity. Made from old, high-altitude Grenache. About $15.
- April 24, 2011
Chateau de Paraza Minervois 2010. Pretty, pale salmon color. Reminiscent of white grapefruit, white flowers, tangerine, and honey on both the nose and palate. Very refreshing and light-bodied, with a very likeable quality that keeps you coming back for more. Hints of red berry on the finish. Drink now. About $9.
- April 21, 2011
El Curato Old Vines 2008 (Toro). Dominated by incense, licorice, cherry, and hoisin sauce, this is deeply colored, brooding and surprising for the price. Raw and smoked meat notes show up on the vibrant finish. Made from 20 to 40 year old Tinta de Toro vines. Drink now through 2013. About $11.
- April 20, 2011
Soleto Primitivo 2008 (Salento). Deep ruby/black color, with complex scents reminiscent of lavender, chocolate milk, coffee, and oregano. Surprising density of flavor for this price, with black pepper and licorice notes to go with the black fruit. Some good freshness to keep it lively. For early consumption. About $10.
- April 19, 2011
Snoqualmie Chardonnay Naked 2009 (Columbia Valley). Golden color. Shy nose of red apples and clementines, but enters the mouth with a strong attack, full body, and a soft, easy-drinking character. Ripe fruit and butterscotch notes, with spices on the finish. Rich, without being heavy. Made from organic grapes, with no oak influence. About $10.
- April 18, 2011
Barone Fini Pinot Grigio 2009 (Valdadige). Pleasing citrus and straw aromas, with a very likable, medium-bodied, well-balanced palate. Tangerine, yellow apple, and limestone notes. Cries out for shellfish. Drink now. About $11.
- April 17, 2011
Château Pesquié Terrasses 2009 (Ventoux). Composed of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, this exhibits complex scents of sweet cherries, underbrush, ink, dark earth, and black pepper. Powerful attack, and great density of flavor, featuring cranberry and black cherry. Good structure, and impressive finish. Drink now through 2014. About $10.
- April 16, 2011
Ramón Bilbao Rioja Crianza 2007. A solid effort, showing good cherry, tobacco, leather, spice, and coffee notes. Pleasant acidity pulls the flavors along the medium-bodied frame. Peppery, long finish that's welcome at this price range. Not outstanding, but a good entry-level Rioja without faults. Drink now. About $11.
- April 15, 2011
Frank Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Napa Valley). Great purity to the cassis aromas, along with cedar, wet oak, blackberry, smoke, and tobacco. Full-bodied, with impressive focus to the plum, bell pepper, and currant flavors. Velvety, long finish. Drink now through 2017. About $40.
- April 13, 2011
La Posta Pinot Noir Glorieta Vineyard 2008 (Mendoza). Pretty ruby color is matched by a pretty nose of rose petals, fresh cherries, cola, and damp earth. Lithe and lasting in the mouth, where the cherry, licorice, coffee, and vanilla flavors maintain their focus. Drink now. About $17.
- April 12, 2011
Bodegas Shaya Shaya 2009 (Rueda). Made from 100% old vine Verdejo, this is clear, straw-colored, and exhibits scents of limestone, peaches, lemongrass, and hints of green apple. A bit weak on the attack, but builds to reveal intensity and verve. The mineral undertone lasts the whole way through. Drink now, or wait a couple years. About $15.
- April 11, 2011
Cline Viognier 2009 (North Coast). Litchi, apricots, peaches, clementine, lanolin, and honey scents emerge from this value-priced Viognier. An oily texture to go with the petroleum and citrus flavors. Stays vibrant through the clean finish. Drink now. About $12.
- April 10, 2011
Ballentine Vineyard Petite Sirah Fig Tree Vineyard St. Helena (Napa Valley). Opaque blue/red, and offering striking, complex scents of ink, prune, fresh asphalt, espresso, cola, and blackberries. Full-bodied, and impressive for its intensity of black/blue fruit and tar flavors. Licorice shows up on the long finish. Plenty to like for this price. 15.4% alcohol. Drink now through 2016. About $15.
- April 8, 2011
Neil Ellis Sincerely Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Western Cape). Focused scents of lime, tangerine, gooseberry, and hints of passion fruit/mango. Inviting, zippy, and crisp, this stays enjoyable with grass and citrus peel flavors that hop along the palate. Drink now. About $10.
- April 7, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Côte de Brouilly Domaine du Riaz 2009. Clear ruby color, and smelling like cherry cough syrup, black tea, and smoke. Cranberry on the attack, but becomes darker on the mid-palate, with wet firewood, coffee, and dark fruit notes. Builds with intensity, and lingers with a structured finish. Drink now through 2014. About $14.
- April 6, 2011
D'Este Vino El Molinet 2007 (Valencia). Rich purple/red color, with a very smoky, bacon-like nose nose that moves into dark fruit. Good weight and intensity to the blue ink, black plum, charcoal, and wild berry flavors. Underbrush on the dark finish. Made from 85% Tempranillo and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2015. About $15.
- April 5, 2011
Ceretto Arneis Blange' 2009 (Langhe). Redolent of petroleum, white mushrooms, straw, and limestone, this is medium-bodied, and out-of-the-ordinary for being slightly spritzy while full in the mouth at the same time. Lemons, melon, and clementine notes pop up in the mouth with elegance. No flimsy white. Drink this within a couple of years. About $18.
- April 3, 2011
Kunde Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Sonoma Valley). Mocha and cherry scents arise from this medium-bodied, well-crafted, old-school type Cabernet. Excellent density to the cassis, dark plum, pine, espresso, and cranberry flavors. Gains length with time in the glass. About $20.
- April 2, 2011
Baronia del Montsant Flor d'Englora Roure 2009 (Montsant). Composed of 63% Garnacha and 32% Carinena, with small amount of Syrah, Merlot, and Tempranillo. Offers wild berry, blueberry, and black licorice scents. Effortless texture, with great density and purity to the prune, smoke, and cherry flavors. Excellent value. Drink now through 2016. About $15.
- March 31, 2011
Domaine Père Caboche Côtes du Rhône 2009. Dark ruby color, and smelling like a spring meadow, along with bell peppers and lavender. Pleasant to drink, with no hard edges. Blueberry and bright cherry flavors balance with gliding acidity. Drink now. About $12.
- March 30, 2011
Vinedos de Aldeanueva Cortijo III Rosado 2010 (Rioja). Saturated light red color, with hints of orange. Offering scents of raspberries, watermelon, and flowers on a smooth-textured palate, this is pleasurable, juicy and bright, like an orange/berry sorbet. Hints of spices on the finish. A fun rosé for near-term drinking. Made from 50% Tempranillo and 50% Garnacha. About $10.
- March 29, 2011
Dehesa de Rubiales Prieto Picudo 2003 (Castilla Y León). Inky and dark in color and aroma, with notions of black truffle, licorice, iodine, and iron. Milk chocolate and blood flavors. Brooding and gutsy palate moves into an espresso-tinged, intense finish. Drink now through 2016. About $14.
- March 28, 2011
Lindaur Brut Non-Vintage (New Zealand). Shiny golden in color, with impressive nose of mushrooms, red apples, yeast, and candied ginger. Medium to full-bodied, with a surprisingly rich palate, suggesting red grapefruit, sourdough bread, and red berries. Could use more lively effervesce, but has uncommon density for this price. About $14.
- March 27, 2011
Mohua Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Marlborough). Lots of tropical fruit notes, like mango, passion fruit, and guava . . . but still holds on to classic New Zealand S.B. flavors of grass, gooseberry, and lime. Juicy, fresh, and delicious. Drink now. About $13.
- March 24, 2011
D'Arenberg The Hermit Crab 2008 (Adelaide). Golden in color, with hints of green, this exhibits aromas of wax, petroleum, white peach, and Easter egg dye. Good acidity to go with the oily texture, and a real mouthful of interesting flavor. Oranges, melon, and red apples turn to a slightly briny finish. A welcome change of pace. Try with grilled seafood. Drink now. About $15.
- March 23, 2011
Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2007 (Veronese). Perfumed, complex nose of licorice, coffee, black earth, pine needles, and eucalyptus. Dark. Great intensity, focus, and delineation. This wine is one of the most consistent bottlings in northern Italy, year after year. Composed of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Sangiovese. Drink now through 2020. About $20.
- March 22, 2011
Beringer Merlot 2007 (Napa Valley). Deep ruby color. The nose is loaded with plums and blackberries, with hints of tobacco and blue ink. Succulent, ripe, and expressive palate, with a great core of berries and subtle spices/oak. Ends in some licorice flavors. Drink now through 2016. About $18.
- March 21, 2011
Terredora DiPaolo Falanghina 2009 (Irpinia). Golden hue. Ripe, very expressive palate of oranges, red apples, red bell peppers, celery, and hints of anise. Full-bodied, and tasty. Drink now. About $15.
- March 20, 2011
Domaine Carneros Brut 2005 (Carneros). Very lively, with scents of spring flowers and biscuits. A very elegant style, showing plenty of Chardonnay character. Gingerbread cookie and white grapefruit on the palate. Long, effortless finish, where the green pear and orange flavors show up. Ready now, but will hold for short-term cellaring. A bargain at about $23.
- March 19, 2011
The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Awatere Valley). Extremely clear, with striking gooseberry aromas that jump from the glass, along with grass and tangerine. Delivers ripe citrus, flowers, and celery flavors. Clean, fresh, and vibrant. About $13.
- March 17, 2011
Finca El Origen Malbec Reserva 2009 (Uco Valley). Dark, smoky, ink scents emerge from this medium-bodied value from Argentina. Rich blackberry, cola, anise, and mocha flavors. Impressive dark finish, with welcome acidity on the savory finish. Drink now. About $12.
- March 16, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Mâcon-Villages 2009. Made from 100% Chardonnay, this pleasant, inexpensive white Burgundy is a solid value. Wet river rock and Clorox aromas combine with a clean, refreshing palate that hints of white peach, oranges, and grass. Buy today, and drink in the middle of the summer. About $10.
- March 15, 2011
Tarlant Brut Tradition Champagne Non-Vintage. Extremely clear gold color. Bread dough, butterscotch, ripe peaches, candied ginger, green apples, and red berry scents. Effusive, overt palate that includes honey, tangerine, red apple, and ginger flavors. Ripe, with plenty of freshness. Salty/spicy notes on the kicked-up finish. Not a delicate Champagne. Contains 55% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Chardonnay. Disgorged in September 2008. About $40.
- March 14, 2011
Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon Jack London 2007 (Sonoma Valley). Opaque purple/red, with aromatics that include camphor, espresso, smoke, and black fruit. Complex palate, medium-bodied, with a slightly rustic finish appropriate for this vineyard. Complex flavors of cassis, lavender, orange rind, cedar, cloves, plum, and blackberry. Classic Cabernet. Great now, but will hold for 5 years. About $26.
- March 11, 2011
Brancott Pinot Noir 2007 (South Island). Cola, sweet cherry, and tomato paste scents emerge from this light-bodied, pretty New Zealand Pinot. Plenty of floral notes to go with the cherry and spice flavors. Lithe texture. Good for a cool spring day. Not for those who like bold wines. Drink now. About $14.
- March 10, 2011
Tintero Arneis 2009 (Langhe). Very clear straw color, with white peach, flour, and celery scents. Great purity and balance. Clementine, apricot, almond, and chalk notes spread through the clean palate. Imported by Kermit Lynch. About $15. Drink now.
- March 8, 2011
The Lucky Country Shiraz 2009 (McLaren Vale). Offers complex aromas of vanilla, powdered cocoa, smoke, bacon, barbecue spices, green bell pepper, and blueberry ice cream. A plump, ripe, soft fruit bomb of a wine, with a consistent, but not complex palate. Ripe plums and blackberries dominate. Great for what it is. Drink now. About $15.
- March 6, 2011
Graffingna Malbec Reserve Centenario 2008 (San Juan). Dark profile, featuring espresso and blueberries on the shy nose. Tart attack, the moves to plums, charred oak, licorice, black coffee, and hints of bacon on the finish. Full-bodied. Solid. About $12.
- March 5, 2011
King Estate Pinot Gris 2008 (Oregon). Smells clean, with dandelion, clover, and hints of white peach. Lively in the mouth, with juicy acidity to hold up the tangerine and pear flavors. Fresh, with great purity, and supple texture. Well-executed. About $12.
- March 4, 2011
Casa Ferreirinha Esteva 2007 (Douro). Ruby, with hints of blue, this shows black fruit along with acetone scents. Dark profile of coffee grounds, blackberry, and blueberry. Not fascinating, but solid for the price. Pair with grilled meats. About $11.
- February 27, 2011
Jean-Paul Thibert Mâcon-Fuissé 2009. Clear, golden with hints of green, this offers scents of granny smith apple, petroleum, white grapefruit, and hard candy. Good precision and moderate intensity. Lime juice, limestone, and green apple notes dominate the palate. Begs for raw oysters or ceviche. About $15.
- February 21,2011
Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 2001 (Napa Valley). Exhibits perfumed, intense aromas of classic Beringer cassis, bell pepper, green olive, and vanilla. Precise, sexy, and palate-saturating, without being heavy, this is a beautiful expression of elegant, intense Cabernet. The cassis, plum, and tobacco flavors roll into toasted oak notes that end in lavender and smoke. The Penelope Cruz of Cabernet. At ten years old, this shows few signs of slowing down. About $100.
- February 20, 2011
Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Marlborough). Clear, almost green color, with striking gooseberry, green apple, tangerine, and grass. Shows great intensity and verve. Mouthwatering acidity to go with the tomatillo flavors. Tastes like summer. About $11.
- February 15, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Julienas Flower Label 2009. Floral aromatics open up to raspberry, plums, and charcoal. Surprising dark color and density on the palate, with dark fruit, tobacco, cola, and hints of bacon. Very good Cru Beaujolais. Drink now through 2016. About $12.
- February 10, 2011
Schramsburg Blanc de Noirs 2005 (North Coast). Offers impressive scents of ginger, sourdough bread, apricots, green apple, and hints of red berry. Delicious red apple, toast, and cream flavors on a very lively and vibrant frame. Detailed, yet effusive and highly enjoyable. Contains 10% Chardonnay. Excellent now, but can hold for short-term cellaring. About $35.
- February 9, 2011
Maison Schroder & Schyler Chartron La Fleur 2009 (Bordeaux). Summery, with tangerine, grass, gooseberry aromas. Fresh, bright, and zippy. Gives up light flavors of limes and wet stone on a pleasurable frame. Not terribly complex, but a good value for a picnic (if it were not the winter). About $11.
- February 8, 2011
Saintsbury Pinot Noir Garnet 2009 (Carneros). Delivers upfront, appealing aromas of chocolate, cherries, cola, and hints of prune. Pleasant attack, featuring hoisin sauce, spices, and cherry notes. Soft and easygoing. Not long, but shows good purity and delineation. Great value. Drink now. About $16.
- January 24, 2011
Chateau St. Michelle Syrah 2007 (Columbia Valley). Offers rich scents of smoky bacon, blackberry jam, butter, and hints of licorice. Juicy, but well-balanced by fine acidity and focus. Coffee and black tea on the finish. Very appealing, but with little structure, this is made for early drinking. About $12.
- January 23, 2011
Matua Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Marlborough). Clear straw color, with classic New Zealand notes of freshly mown grass, gooseberry, grapefruit, lime, and passion fruit. Shows great intensity to the fruit, while staying very zippy and exciting in the mouth. Fun to drink. About $11.
- January 19, 2011
Henry's Drive Shiraz Morse Code 2008 (Padthaway). Shows ripe, smoky scents of coffee, cinnamon graham crackers, crushed berries, and gingerbread. Full-bodied, very soft and ripe. Plump fruit, coffee, and vanilla dominate the mid-palate. A bit short on finish, but still a good value. Drink now. About $11.
- January 18, 2011
Maculan Pino & Toi 2009 (Veneto). Yellow in color. Initially shy aromatically, but later opens up to scents of limestone, crushed almonds, milk, spring flowers, white grapefruit, and white peaches. Medium-bodied, with melon and red apple flavors. Petroleum on the finish, with some well-placed acidity. Composed of 60% Tocai, 25% Pinot Bianco, and 15% Pinot Grigio. About $12.
- January 16, 2011
A by Acacia Pinot Noir 2008 (California). Pretty cherry aromas, with hints of green tobacco and spices. Straightforward, with pleasant texture and weight. Solid mid-palate of dark fruit and herbs. Easygoing, with an easy price to match. About $15.
- January 9, 2011
Domaine La Garrigue Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Romaine 2009. Expressive nose of coffee, lavender, black cherry cola, green tobacco, and blue ink. Powerful attack, with great density of flavor, focus and verve. Cranberry flavors move to blueberry notes on the finish. Youthful tannins suggest that this could improve for at least 5 years. About $15.
- December 30, 2010
David has recommended over 75 wines in 2010, and while all have been worthy of some praise, there are a select few that have stood out in his mind as the most interesting and compelling. Below are David's top 10 wine recommendations of 2010.
#8 - Thierry Triolet Brut Champagne Grande Reserve Non-vintage.
#9 - Two Hands Shiraz/Grenache Brave Faces 2005 (Barossa).
#10 - Cal Blanca 2007 (Toro).
- December 26, 2010
Two Hands Shiraz/Grenache Brave Faces 2005 (Barossa). Opaque purple/red. Offers dense but pretty, perfumed nose of roses, vanilla, tar, crushed black fruits, coffee, and bacon. Supple, creamy texture. Charcoal, blackberry, anise notes, with a very long finish. Shows impeccable balance, purity, and elegance. A joy to drink. 65% Shiraz with 35% Grenache. Contains 15% alcohol, but you wouldn't know it. About $35.
- December 22, 2010
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Marlborough). The petroleum aromas burn off to reveal precise gooseberry, grass, tangerine, and lime notes, with hints of tropical fruit. Focused, then turns juicy, where the zippy acidity carries the fruit along. Better than your standard N.Z. Sauv Blanc. About $15.
- December 18, 2010
R Wine Shiraz Boarding Pass 2007 (South Australia). Reticent nose, hinting at cola and cherries. Plush in the mouth, showing complex flavors of vanilla, crushed black fruits (plums, blackberries), cream, smoke, and licorice. Fine acidity on the spicy finish. Drink now through 2015. About $20.
- December 15, 2010
Chateau Ducasse 2009 (Bordeaux). Bright and grassy aromas that hint of goat cheese and fresh herbs. Lemons and gooseberry initially, then melon on the finish. Light to medium-bodied, and vibrant. Pair with raw oysters. About $15.
- December 10, 2010
Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Vine 2008 (Lodi). Ripe, supple, and medium-bodied. There's a briary undertone to the blueberry, blackberry, smoke, vanilla, cream, and cola profile. Inviting, exuberant but not heavy, with freshness on the finish. Drink now. About $17.
- December 9, 2010
Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Reserva Privada 2007 (Maipo Valley). Dense, very extracted, medium to full-bodied, and expressing black licorice, leather, dark chocolate, espresso, and earth notes. Blackberry/blueberry flavors emerge on the finish. Give this one some air. Good value. Drink now, or hold for up to 5 years. About $15.
- December 8, 2010
St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Napa Valley). Very clear, with touches of green. Striking white grapefruit and gooseberry scents. Mouthwatering acidity to go along with the citrus and water chestnut flavors. Very refreshing. Has uncommon elegance and focus. Drink now. About $15.
- December 7, 2010
Four Vines Zinfandel Old Vines Cuvee 2007 (California). Super-ripe plum and vanilla aromas lead to a very full-bodied, rich palate that's almost a caricature of a modern Zin. Still, there's enough balance here, with smoke, crushed black fruit, jam, evergreen, coffee, and beets. Full-throttle. Drink now. About $12.
- December 5, 2010
Pol Roger Champagne Rosé 1996. Copper color, but reminiscent of an orange sunset or a tiger's coat. Offers striking aromas of butterscotch, bread dough, cream, clementine, ginger, and red apples. Full-bodied, creamy, but light on its feet with fantastic acidity and liveliness. Intense flavors of berry, whole wheat bread, red grapefruit, and apples. Long, toasty finish. An outstanding wine experience. About $75.
- December 4, 2010
Santa Barbara Wine Company Pinot Noir 2009 (Santa Barbara County). Ruby in color, and offering bright cherry, butter, and cola aromatics. Good focused acidity to balance out the raspberry, cherry, and clementine flavors. Smoke on the juicy finish. Not outstanding, but a solid value Pinot. About $13.
- December 1, 2010
Cabriz Reserva 2006 (Dão). Opaque red/black. Dark expressions of licorice, espresso, chocolate, ink, toasted wood, and exotic spices. Medium-bodied, with a fresh, bright finish. Great intensity for the price. Composed of 40% Touriga Nacional, 40% Alfrocheiro, and 20% Tinto Roriz. Decant now, or open in a couple years. About $15.
- November 30, 2010
Kim Crawford Chardonnay Unoaked 2009 (Marlborough). Straw/yellow color, with ripe peach, pear, apple, and cream aromas. Hints of petroleum and river stones. Fleshy, clean, and inviting. About $15.
- November 28, 2010
Domaine Emile Cheysson Clos Les Farges Chiroubles 2009. Offers cherry, smoke, oregano, and green bell pepper aromas. Precise and focused, but with good depth as well as perfume. Coffee, Tootsie Roll, raspberry, cherry, and licorice flavors that remain vibrant through the finish. Drink now, or hold for a few years. About $15.
- November 19, 2010
Rosenblum Zinfandel 2007 (Paso Robles). Opaque red. Effusive vanilla, cherry, smoke, cola, lavender, and coffee aromas. Rich and saturated palate, featuring ripe blackberry and black cherry notes on a full-bodied frame. Bacon on the finish. Powerful. 15.1% alcohol. Great now, but can hold for a few years. About $16.
- November 18, 2010
Uppercut Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Napa Valley). Offers sweet, ripe blueberry & blackberry scents, along with bell pepper and butter/cream. Very prototypical Napa Cabernet. Dark cherry flavors move to more earthy notes on the finish, where the licorice, tobacco, and toasted oak qualities emerge. Slightly hot on the finish, but otherwise a good, solid Napa Cab from an outstanding vintage. Ready now, or hold for a couple years. About $18.
- November 17, 2010
The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Marlborough). Very clear. Offer very pretty aromas of freshly mown grass, passion fruit, lime, and river rocks. Tangerine and limestone flavors. Very precise and clean, and very New Zealand. About $12.
- November 16, 2010
Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina 2009 (Sannio). Expressive nose of white peaches, blanched almonds, and fresh herbs. Elegant and expansive in the mouth, with pear and orange flavors leading to an herbal finish. About $16.
- November 14, 2010
Mionetto Prosecco Organic Non-Vintage. Subtle peach, tangerine, and Meyer lemon aromas. Pretty on the palate, with floral notes to go with the almond, lemon curd, and toast flavors. Just a hint of sweetness. Drink now. About $12.
- November 8, 2010
La Posta Blanco de Blancos 2009 (Mendoza). Expressive nose, with peaches, flowers, limes, cream, fresh herbs, and clementine. Granny smith apple flavors move to coconut and passion fruit as it warms in the glass. Zesty green apple finish. Fun and generous white. Made from 70% Chardonnay, 15% Sauvignon Blanc, and 15% Torrontes. Drink now. About $10.
- November 7, 2010
Ruffino Il Ducale 2007 (Toscana). A blend of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, and 20% Syrah, this exhibits complex aromas/flavors of dark cherry, leather, violets, black olives, and smoke. Starts off briary, then opens up to dark fruit notes. Good freshness and purity. About $15.
- November 6, 2010
La Battistina Gavi 2009. Pronounced mineral and straw notes, along with white mushroom aromas. Fresh, inviting flavors of river rocks, grass, white peach, and hints of tangerine. About $15.
- November 1, 2010
Pio Cesare Barolo 2001. Ruby, with rust/amber at the rim. Gorgeously perfumed, with roses, tar, black tea, and hints of acetone. Smooth texture, with effortless acidity. Cola, cherry, dried herb, and tobacco flavors. Shows some licorice on the finish. Textbook Barolo. About $45.
- October 30, 2010
Giacosa Fratelli Roero Arneis 2009. Very yellow in color, with marcona almonds, limestone, green peaches, apricots, and grass on the nose. Rich texture, and reminiscent of stone fruits, tarragon, pineapple, and rambutan. Pair with cured meats. About $15.
- October 24, 2010
Castro Ventosa Mencia El Castro de Valtuille 2007 (Bierzo). Deep crimson in color, with fresh blood, iron, violets, ballpoint pen, and green bell pepper aromatics. Medium-bodied, and exhibiting freshness, along with black fruit, mushroom, wet soil, and iodine flavors. Cranberry on the finish. About $15.
- October 23, 2010
Bodegas Matarredonda Juan Rojo 2005 (Toro). Composed of 100% Tempranillo, and smelling of blue ink, moist forest floor, coffee, aluminum, and smoke. Good density and depth, and offering smoky bacon, and blueberry flavors. About $20.
- October 20, 2010
Castello do Papa Godello 2009 (Valdeorras). Aromas reminiscent of Christmas tree, grass, lemon, clementine, and green melon. Plenty of melon flavors on the palate, medium to full-bodied, with a rich peach note. Nice weight and texture. Drink now. About $12.
- October 17, 2010
Pommery Brut Champagne Non-Vintage. Yeasty nose, featuring red berry, ginger, and crème brulée. Bread dough, smoke, and red apple flavors, with notions of jerk chicken spice on the long, rich finish. Good texture and weight. Not particularly lively, but solid and very expressive nonetheless. Drink now. About $38.
- October 12, 2010
Lungarotti Rubesco 2005 (Rosso di Torgiano). Composed of 70% Sangiovese, with 30% Caniolo, this shows pretty tart cherry and new leather scents. Pleasant in the mouth, medium-bodied and expressing red bell pepper, tobacco, herbs, and cherry flavors. Solid everyday central Italian red. About $12.
- October 11, 2010
Bodegas Vizcarra Ramos JC Vizcarra 2006 (Ribera Del Duero). Made from 100% Tempranillo, this exhibits a very smoky nose that's also reminiscent of bacon, charcoal, and dark soil. Dense, full-bodied and luscious, with wild berry, licorice, oak, and blueberry flavors. Eucalyptus on the finish. Excellent balance, and very pleasurable. Ready now, or hold for at least 5 years. About $22.
- October 9, 2010
Paul Mas Estate Carignan Vieilles Vignes 2009 (Pays D'Herault). Made from 50 year old vines, this is deep ruby/black in color, with scents of cigarette smoke, new leather, underbrush, and dark spices. Briary, focused, and inky in the mouth. Fleshy and interesting to taste, with very good balance and length. Pair with braised meat. About $12.
- October 5, 2010
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne Non-Vintage. Disgorged in 2008, this is very yellow in color with a lively bead. Intense bread dough, ginger, and cranberry aromas. Full-bodied, dramatic, and powerful, with citrus rind, red berry, vanilla, hazelnut, and red apple flavors. Lengthy finish. Not a shy Champagne. About $40.
- October 2, 2010
Falernia Carmenere Reserva 2006 (Elqui Valley). Hints of funk and coffee on the nose. Porty, raisiny, and dark, with black licorice, cola, smoke, and bacon flavors. Very full-bodied, with admirable intensity. Made from partially dried grapes. A wine to have on its own. About $11.
Santa Rita Carmenere Reserva 2008 (Rapel Valley). Plump, juicy and easygoing, this exhibits dark plum, espresso, vegetables, bacon, licorice, and charred wood notes on a medium-bodied frame. Uncomplicated, but that's ok for this price. Spiciness on the finish. Drink now. About $10.
- October 1, 2010
Yalumba Chardonnay Y Series Unwooded 2009 (South Australia). Lemon/lime aromas that move into tropical fruit and hints of chalk. Generous mango and citrus flavors that are clean and well-defined. Great everyday value. Drink now. About $10.
- September 22, 2010
Goats do Roam Rosé 2008 (Coastal Region, South Africa). Plenty of raspberry, cherry, orange, and tangerine flavors, that move into earthiness on the finish. Vibrant and inviting. About $10.
Gerard Duffort Rosé Les Trois Chenes 2009 (Vin De Pays Du Var). Very light salmon in color. Pretty nose, featuring flowers, butterscotch, citrus, white peach, and apricot. Wether's butterscotch, cream, raspberry, and cherry flavors. Light spiciness on the finish. Very enjoyable, and easy to like. About $9.
- September 17, 2010
Parize Givry Champ Nalot 2007. Garnet in color, with funky aromas that include wet dog, barnyard, leather, sweat, and hints of cherry coke. Bright in the mouth, with lots of cherry, dark spices, and flowers. Very different on the palate compared to the nose, and having good depth for the price. Blueberry and bacon flavors on the finish. Light on its feet, with balanced acidity. About $20.
- September 11, 2010
Lewelling Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Napa Valley). Deep maroon/black color. Freshly brewed coffee, cassis, pine, and mocha aromatics. Hints of spice on the attack, then a full-bodied, beautifully made wine of vanilla bean, blackberries, and subtle licorice. Outstanding balance, ripeness, and intensity. Very long finish, where the dark cherry notes really sing. Outstanding. About $45.
- September 8, 2010
Chateau St. Michelle Dry Riesling 2007 (Columbia Valley). Dry, with a solid core of minerals, lime, green apple, peach, and lanolin. Shows excellent balance, and a long, zippy finish (tart citrus) that keeps you coming back for more. Drink now. About $10.
- August 19, 2010
Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 1997 (Napa Valley). Deep ruby in color, but brown on the rim. Offers complex scents of coffee, black cherry, cola, cloves, and dark wet soil. Bell pepper, cassis, plums, dark spices, and vanilla flavors lead to an explosive, layered finish. Elegant, but with sure power and intensity. Outstanding Cabernet. About $100.
- August 8, 2010
Almira Los Dos Old Vines 2008 (Campo de Borja). Dusty aroma that also shows ink, freshly brewed coffee, cola, and lavender. Medium-bodied, with dark cherry, black, tea, dark spices, and grapefruit on the finish. A little rustic, but interesting, and a great value. Made from 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah. About $10.
- July 24, 2010
Perrier Jouet Brut Champagne Non-Vintage. Pretty aromas of yeast, bread dough, and ginger. Medium-bodied, with considerable power to the smoke, ginger, biscuit, red apple, and hazelnut flavors. Long finish retains its freshness. About $35.
Attilio Ghisolfi Barolo Bricco Visette 2001. Rusty brown on the edge, and featuring cola, licorice, coffee, and black tea scents. Medium-bodied, with a fine grained texture. Tomato paste, coffee, lavender, and dark chocolate on the palate. Good intensity to the finish. About $40.
- July 15, 2010
Domaine de Fontsainte 2009 (Corbieres). Copper/pink in color, with strawberry and rhubarb aromas. Plenty of floral, orange, peach, and citrus rind flavors, with outstanding balance. Lingering finish. Excellent rosé. About $16.
- July 10, 2010
Albet I Noya Petit Albet Blanc 2009 (Penedes). Made from organic Chardonnay and Xarel-lo grapes, this is beautifully perfumed, with white peaches, freshly cut grass, and Fuji apples. Very inviting, with zippy acidity and sweet corn, green apple, and lime flavors. About $10.
- July 6, 2010
Rosenblum Syrah Rominger Vineyard 2006 (Yolo County). Cola, white pepper, dried herb, and dust aromatics on this opaque purple/black colored Rhone-styled California red. Impressive black fruit, smoke, espresso ice cream, and licorice. Full-bodied and lasting in the mouth, with great intensity. Excellent value. About $18.
- June 20, 2010
Mustiguillo Mestizaje 2006 (Valencia). A blend of 70% Bobal, with Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Exhibits ink, espresso, charcoal, violets, and erasers on the nose. Dark on the palate, with black cherry, exotic spices, and smoke on the finish. About $15.
- June 13, 2010
Aramis Vineyards Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (McLaren Vale). Deep purple/red in color, with a nose reminiscent of bacon fat, blueberries, blackberries, burnt wood, and black licorice. Plush mid-palate, featuring dark berries, charcoal, and black plums, this is well-balanced by acidity on the long, layered finish. Very good intensity, and good value. About $15.
- June 11, 2010
La Cartuja 2008 (Priorat). Dark aromatics that include blueberry, smoke, and black cherries. Strong on the attack, then smooths out to coffee, dark berries, and evergreen flavors. Needs aeration, so be patient to bring out the saturated mid-palate. A blend of 50% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah. A bargain for Priorat, at about $15.
- June 5, 2010
Domaine De La Citadelle Le Chataignier 2009 (Luberon). Pretty copper/peach color, with fresh, inviting aromatics that include white pepper and grapefruit . Great balance to the zippy acidity, with berry, citrus peel, and toast flavors. Graphite on the finish. About $12.
- May 28, 2010
Cal Blanca 2007 (Toro). Beets, charcoal, campfire, and cherry aromas emerge from this 100% old vine Tempranillo. Exhibits excellent intensity, with spicy arugula, tomato, and black fruit flavors. Vibrant finish. Gutsy wine. About $15.
- May 27, 2010
Naia 2008 (Rueda). Made from 100% Verdejo, this is straw colored, with a fresh, lively nose of clementine and limestone. Tangelo, white peach flavors are solidly anchored by excellent minerality. Drink now. About $12.
- May 25, 2010
Crios de Susana Balbo Rosé of Malbec 2009 (Mendoza). Raspberry in color, with hints of funk, red apple, plum, and ripe berry on the nose. Solidly built palate that's generous with fresh berry, orange, and spice flavors. About $11.
- May 23 ,2010
King Estate Pinot Gris Acrobat 2008 (Oregon). Aromas of river rock, tangerine, and hints of tropical fruit. Juicy, with clementine and mango flavors. Very enjoyable, thirst quenching, and excellent with food. About $10.
Flechas de Los Andes Malbec 2007 (Mendoza). Espresso, plum, raisin, date, and licorice scents. Dark, dark profile of smoke and charcoal. Gusty and masculine. Impressive for its price/quality ratio. About $15.
- April 27, 2010
Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Tres Picos 2008 (Campo de Borja). Dark, dark ruby/purple in color. Emitting complex scents of cherry liqueur, vanilla, smoke, leather, and blackberry. Very full-bodied, fleshy, and overflowing with cherry fruit. Soft and very approachable. Drink now. About $15.
- April 23, 2010
Chateau St. Martin de la Garrigue Tradition 2009 (Coteaux du Languedoc). A blend of Cinsault and Grenache, this is light raspberry/watermelon in color, with strawberry and kiwi aromatics. Zippy, inviting, and fresh, with wet stones on the finish. Easy to like. About $14.
- April 22, 2010
Quinta Do Coa 2007 (Douro). Cola, wild berry, and black cherry aromatics. Full-bodied, with a plump texture, featuring blueberry, Dr. Pepper, and black olive flavors. Tart on the finish, with dust and dark spice notes. Organic. About $15.
- April 20, 2010
Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2007. Spicy/peppery nose, with lavender, leather, cherry, licorice, and hints of cream. Silky, but full texture, with raw cranberry, leather, smoke, plum, and licorice flavors. Good intensity. Could use short term cellaring to integrate the dark tannins on the lengthy finish. About $25.
- April 18, 2010
Chateau Bellevue La Foret Rosé 2009 (Fronton). Rhubarb/strawberry in color, with a fresh and floral nose. Strawberries, orange, cherry, watermelon, and peach flavors remain vibrant with mouthwatering acidity. Very enjoyable. About $11.
- April 10, 2010
Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Marlborough). Appealing for its zesty lime, gooseberry, grass, and tangerine profile. Uncomplicated, but pleasurable. Crisp, and demanding of a warm day in the sun. Very good value. About $10.
- April 8, 2010
Chateau Larrivet-Haut-Brion 2000 (Pessac-Leognan). Beautiful nose that's fresh and vibrant, showing blue ink and violet notes. Plums, cranberry, cassis, and tobacco on the palate. Licorice on the long finish, along with blackberries and prunes. Excellent balance. About $40.
- April 3, 2010
Loma Larga Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Casablanca Valley). Clear, very light yellow color, with a shy nose hinting at grass and limestone. Refreshing, with bright tropical fruits (guava, mango), lime, grass, and fresh herbs. A darker profile on the finish. About $15.
- March 24, 2010
Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina 2007 (Sannio). Golden in color, with excellent minerality to the nose, along with white flowers. Honeysuckle, white peaches, naval orange, funky cheese, and tart apple flavors. Rich in texture, but still refreshing. About $16.
- March 16, 2010
Ridge Three Valleys 2007 (Sonoma County). A blend of 76% Zinfandel, 8% Petite Sirah, 7% Syrah, 6% Grenache, and 3% Carignane, this is deep purple in color, and having wild berry, coffee, vanilla, and exotic spice aromatics. Intense, saturated palate includes Cherry Coke, ink, lavender, mocha, and blackberry flavors. Shows real depth to the long finish, where the briary notes show up. Excellent value. About $20.
- March 14, 2010
Piazza Barbera 2007 (Piemonte). Ruby in color, with an evergreen, raspberry, and green tobacco nose. Fun and easygoing, with the requisite acidity for many foods, this has cherry, ruby red grapefruit, and mushroom flavors. Nothing too complex, but great Italian red for the price. About $10.
- March 12, 2010
Thierry Triolet Brut Champagne Grande Reserve Non-vintage. Striking citrus and dough aromatics, along with pineapple, coconut, cream, and hazelnuts. Lively and frothy in the mouth, with flavors of candied ginger, lemon curd, pina colada ,and tropical fruits. Red berries on the long finish. Impressive. About $40.
- March 6, 2010
Tohu Chardonnay Unoaked 2008 (Gisborne). Clean, fresh, and inviting, with lime, tangerine, and passion fruit flavors. Uncomplicated. A fun summer wine for a picnic. About $11.
- February 25, 2010
Montes Pinot Noir Limited Edition 2008 (Casablanca Valley). Earthy nose, with grape skin and black olives. Cherry, tobacco, cola, and plums on the palate, with nice tartness on the finish. Easygoing, fresh, and likeable. About $12.
Terrazas de los Andes Malbec 2008 (Mendoza). Deep, opaque ruby/purple color. Medium-bodied, with good intensity to the black pepper, boysenberry, wet earth, and Dr. Pepper flavors. Symmetrical and focused, with fine tannins. Peppery finish. About $11.
- February 18, 2010
Chateau Beauregard-Ducort 2007 (Bordeaux). Straw colored. Grass, cat's pee, and fresh herb aromatics are followed by a briny, salty, lime-tinged palate. Fresh, bright, and lively in the mouth. Save it for the summer, with a plate of raw oysters. About $10.
- February 16, 2010
Columbia Crest Merlot H3 2005 (Horse Heaven Hills). Deep Burgundy in color, and possessing Cherry Coke, Dr. Pepper, and prune aromas. Starts off with candied apple and plum notes, then moves into darker espresso and charcoal flavors. Very soft, medium-bodied, and having good balance. Pleasurable, with no hard edges. Drink now. About $15.
- February 15, 2010
Palestra 2008 (Douro). Deep ruby in color, with a great rustic nose of cherry, tobacco, leather, dark soil, and coffee. Medium-bodied. Shows acidity to go with the plum and cola flavors. Short finish, but very food friendly and a great value. Drink now. Made from 40% Touriga Franca, 40% Tinta Roriz, and 20% Tinta Barroca. About $10.
- February 9, 2010
Gruet Blanc de Noirs Non-vintange (New Mexico). Golden color. Almonds, bread dough, and butterscotch caramel on the nose. Good depth to the blood orange, ginger, red berry, and pomegranate flavors. Graphite on the lingering finish. Drink now. About $16.
- February 7, 2010
Pietra Santa Zinfandel 2006 (Cienega Valley). Mint and other herbs show on the expressive nose, along with black fruit, butter, espresso, and licorice. Medium-bodied, but with good palate intensity on the attack where blackberry, bitter chocolate, licorice, and briary notes really develop. Drink now. About $15.
- February 2, 2010
Falesco Vitiano Rosso 2008 (Umbria). Dark & deep aromatics of plum, black cherries, tobacco, and coffee. Medium to full-bodied. There's a strong licorice component to go with the loam, eucalyptus, black fruits, and espresso flavors. Impressive value for an everyday Italian red. Made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and Merlot. About $11.
- January 30, 2010
Villa Angoris Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Friuli Isonzo). Notes of honey, white peach, bright citrus, and grass on the nose. Starts off with petroleum, then moves to tangerine, lime, and fresh herb flavors. Very interesting, and unlike many Sauv Blancs. Likeable acidity. Drink now. About $12.
- January 18, 2010
Pol Roger Brut Champagne Non-vintage. Golden straw color, with bread dough, green apples, tomato, spices, and mozzarella on the nose. Crisp, with great balance to the dough and crisp fruit flavors, ending with a subtle earthy/mushroom note. Would benefit from a year in the cellar. About $40.
Mitolo Shiraz G.A.M. 2005 (McLaren Vale). Opaque purple/black and glass-coating, with very perfumed aromatics of vanilla, blackberries, licorice, coffee, cherries, and chocolate cake. Extremely full-bodied and rich, with intense charcoal, mocha, and meat/bacon flavors. Nice tartness on the finish. A monster wine. About $60.
- January 11, 2010
Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Sonoma County). Slightly closed aromatically (hinting at Pine Sol and moss), but very expressive on the palate, with licorice, black cherry, mint, and cassis flavors. Ripe, lingering finish exhibits black pepper and tobacco notes. Shows surprising levels of refinement and precision for this price. About $16.
- January 9, 2010
Gruet Brut Non-vintage (New Mexico). Golden yellow in color, with raw sourdough bread, lemon, and hints of white button mushroom. Displays some richness, with yeasty dough, lemon bars, and dark earthiness. Remains vivid on the finish. Great complexity for a wine that's less than $20.
- January 5, 2010
Maison La Caminade 2007 (Cahors). Made from Malbec and Merlot, this is briary on the nose, with wild berry, licorice, leather, dust, and dried oregano. Cheese curds, evergreen, underbrush, dried leaves, dark fruits, and blackberries on the medium-bodied palate. Drink with a hearty winter stew. About $12.
- December 28, 2009
Cloud Dancer Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Marlborough). Clear straw in color, with a bright, inviting nose of fresh cut grass, clementine, sweet peas, and hints of smoke. Juicy citrus flavors that dance in the mouth with good persistence. Not outstanding, but likeable and fun. Good as an aperitif. Drink now. About $13.
- December 21, 2009
Fabla Garnacha 2007 (Calatayud). Blackberry and licorice notes emerge in the glass, then followed by an uncomplicated but generous palate, with its sweet cherry, smoke, and dried cranberry flavors. Medium-bodied, fresh, and pleasant. Great value. Drink now. About $9.
- December 15, 2009
El Arte de Vivir Tempranillo 2006 (Ribera del Duero). Made from 60 year old Tempranillo vines, this is deep ruby/purple in color, with shy dark earth aromatics. Rich in the mouth, and showing plum, espresso, licorice, wild berry, and dried cranberry flavors. Full-bodied. Drink now. About $15.
- December 13, 2009
Marques de Aragon Old Vine Grenache 2005 (Calatayud). Spicy reticent nose, showing hints of plums, but exuberant fruit on the palate (mostly cherry), buttressed by supportive acidity and rustic tannins. Leather and black tea notes. Finishes with dried cranberry and dark spices. Drink now. About $10.
Renacer Punto Final Malbec 2008 (Mendoza). Extremely ripe and loaded with blackberry, blueberry, and dark cherry fruit. Succulent, juicy, and soft in the mouth, with interesting coffee and spice notes. Drink now, on its own.
- December 6, 2009
Montinore Estate Pinot Gris 2007 (Willamette Valley). Clear, light straw hue. Very fragrant, with under-ripe peach, flowers, orange, apple, and lime notes. Clean, vibrant, and precise, with excellent balance. Drink now. About $15.
- December 2, 2009
Cline Cashmere 2007 (California). A blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, this exhibits a complex bouquet of deep blackberry/blueberry, with grape juice, smoke, licorice, mint, and eucalyptus. Medium-bodied and very soft in the mouth, but is resonant with dark fruit. Balanced acidity retains interest. About $14.
- November 29, 2009
Chateau Montrose 1998 (Saint Estephe). Ruby, with hints of brown, this offers complex scents of leather, raw meat, dried herbs, tobacco, black tea, coffee grinds, and hints of funk. Medium-bodied, with cassis, leather, and clove on the palate. Very elegant, showing symmetry and balance. Licorice and coffee on the finish. Not the greatest Bordeaux, but very enjoyable. Drink now. Purchased for about $40, but now sells for about $80.
- November 27, 2009
Hacienda Molleda Garnacha 2006 (Carinena). Deep red in color, with a smoky bacon, ripe cherry nose. Very enjoyable for it's soft, sweet cherry fruit and generous character. Shows excellent purity, at an amazing price. About $12.
- November 24, 2009
Chateau St. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Columbia Valley). Made in a New Zealand style, this offers vibrant white grapefruit and under-ripe stone fruit aromas, with a juicy palate of clementine, lime, and hints of tropical fruit. About $10.
- November 23, 2009
Chateau Cote de Baleau 1998 (Saint Emilion). Sweet cherry, tobacco, and lavender aromatics. Medium-bodied, with great delivery leading to plum, slate, and cherry flavors. Excellent balance, freshness, and elegance. Ready now, or hold for another five years. About $20.
- November 22, 2009
Vignarco Orvieto 2008. Straw colored, with good depth to the nose, featuring white peaches, flowers, and limestone. Ripe in the mouth, with fleshy peach, mandarin orange, and fuji apple flavors. Finishes clean and refreshing, but with mouthwateringly ripe fruit. About $11.
- November 17, 2009
Trapiche Malbec Broquel 2007 (Mendoza). Deep purple/red, with ripe aromatics of blackberries, plums, dark spices, coffee, toasted oak, cherries, and flowers. Medium-bodied and soft in texture. Exhibits vanilla and wild berry flavors. Easygoing, but good presence on the finish. Drink now. About $14.
- November 13, 2009
Fine Estates From Spain Volver Tempranillo 2007 (La Mancha). Deep purple in color, with complex aromatics including blackberries, black olives, cola, smoke, and black cherries. Youthful on the palate, with sweet cherry flavors and a slightly tart frame. An excellent value. Drink now or hold for a couple years. About $15.
- November 11, 2009
Casa Castillo Monastrell 2007 (Jumilla). Aromas of wet soil, black licorice, espresso, and hints of funk. Deep, concentrated black fruit, anise, smoke, leather, and beef blood. Full-bodied, with a savory, almost sharp finish. Have with fatty meat. About $10.
- November 9, 2009
Campo de Luz Garnacha Old Vine 2008 (Carinena). Ruby in color, this Spanish red is made from old vine Grenache, and shows kirsch liqueur, bacon, and bell pepper aromatics. Medium-bodied and fresh, with ripe black cherry, plum, cola, and orange rind flavors. Great purity for not a lot of money. About $10.
- November 8, 2009
Chateau Beauchene Cotes du Rhone Premier Terroir 2006. Deep ruby in color, and exhibiting rusty nail, coffee, anise, and wet soil aromatics. Licoice, ripe black fruit, smoke, dried herbs, and black tea flavors on a moderate frame. Good balance and presence for the price. About $15.
- November 1, 2009
Chateau St. Michelle Merlot Indian Wells 2006 (Columbia Valley). Enjoyable for its depth of plum, dark spices, green tobacco, blackberries, blueberries, and cola. Toasted oak and vanilla on the finish. Full-bodied and very approachable. Drink now. About $16.
- October 26, 2009
Bodegas Senorio de Barahonda Monastrell Heredad Candela 2006 (Yecla). Very fragrant, with prunes, black cherries, warm stones, coffee, chocolate, and licorice notes. Medium to full-bodied, and nicely spicy on the palate, with black pepper, cardamom, licorice, and candied apple flavors. Hearty. About $10.
- October 23, 2009
Bodegas Valdesil Godello Montenovo 2008 (Valdeorras). From in Galicia region of Spain, this 100% Godello is aromatically reminiscent of limestone, white flowers, white grapefruit, and peaches. Tart on the attack, then medium-bodied, with more weight than one would expect from the nose, and featuring zippy clementine flavors. About $10.
- October 15, 2009
Araldica Gavi La Luciana 2008. Reminiscent of wet river stones, chalk, grass, lemons, and touches of cream. Refreshing, and almost medium-bodied, with some real personality. Drink now. About $14.
- October 14, 2009
Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (Napa Valley). Cola, eucalyptus, menthol, bell pepper, green tobacco, and cassis aromatics emerge from this deep, rich color Cabernet. Shows good presence, with plum, cassis, black cherry, cola, and tobacco flavors, with a moderate finish. Varietally correct. Drink now. About $25.
- October 9, 2009
Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre 2005 (Veronese). Closed for business right now aromatically (hints of prune, acetone), but dark, dark in the mouth, with licorice, tar, ink, charred oak, black cherries, and dried mushroom. Long and intense. Excellent presence for the price. Fine now, but will be even better in a couple years. About $20.
- October 5, 2009
Moet & Chandon Brut Dom Perignon 1993. Golden hue, with fantastic bread dough, lemon, ginger, and baked apple aromatics that jump from the glass. Full-bodied and rich in the mouth, showing ripe pear, grapefruit, brioche, and lemon curd. Long, creamy finish. Drink now. About $150.
- October 3, 2009
Vina Cornejo Costas don Rodolfo Tannat 2007 (Cafayate Valley). Peppery, beefy nose, with green bell peppers and tobacco. Rustic on the palate, with earthy black pepper, smoke, and beef jerkey flavors. Holds interest with nice acidity and black fruits on the finish. Excellent value at about $10.
- September 27, 2009
Newton Cabernet Sauvignon Le Puzzle 1997 (Napa Valley). Brownish red, with an amber halo, this gives off a nose of green and red bell peppers, tobacco, eucalyptus, lavender and tomato paste. Good attack, but really blossoms on the mid-palate, where the plum, cassis, and other black, ripe fruits show up. Persistent, powerful, and more French in style. Elegant and intense at the same time. About $75.
- September 16, 2009
Mulderboch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2009 (Coastal Region). Beautiful rosy pink in color with a hint of orange. Very pleasurable aromatics, reminiscent of strawberries, rhubarb, apricots, and white raspberries. Juicy and inviting, with concentrated fresh berry and orange peel flavors. Really enjoyable rosé. About $11.
- August 29, 2009
Bradford Mountain Zinfandel 2005 (Dry Creek Valley). Striking, powerful aromatics that ooze blackberries, licorice, smoke, espresso, buttered popcorn, cola, and chocolate. Rich in the mouth, with a Nyquil/loamy earth quality to go with the ripe fruit. A bit hot on the finish, but otherwise an outstanding Zin. About $30.
- August 26, 2009
Saladini Pilastri Rosato Consenso 2008 (Marche). Flowery, fresh, and inviting, with its orange peel, raspberry, cherry, and strawberry profile. A touch of pleasant bitterness on the finish. About $12.
- August 22, 2009
Las Rocas de San Alejandro Rosado 2008 (Calatayud). Almost red in color, with a beautiful nose of tangerine, flowers, watermelon jolly rancher, and bing cherries. Well-balanced cherry and red grapefruit flavors, with a persistent finish. Offers excellent depth, and would pair well with many foods. Good stuff. About $10.
- August 17, 2009
Black Box Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (New Zealand). For a wine that costs less than the equivalent of $5 per bottle, this offers modest lime, grapefruit, and jalapeño flavors on an easygoing frame. Hints of gooseberry and citrus on the nose. Nicely zippy. Made from grapes grown in the Hawkes Bay, Marlborough, and Gisborne areas. Note that unlike some boxed wine, this is even vintage dated. About $18/3L box, or $4.50/bottle. A steal!
- August 7, 2009
Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc Vision 2008 (Casablanca Valley). Reminiscent of white grapefruit, peaches, fresh cut grass, cider, and pomegranate. Inviting. Shows much more depth than their standard Sauvignon Blanc. Clean, lightly fruity, with a refreshing, chalky, smoky finish. About $15.
- August 6, 2009
Domaine Houchart Cotes de Provence 2008. Composed of 35% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% other varieties, this rosé is almost zippy, but with plenty of red berry fruit, lemon, herbal tea, and melon flavors. Pretty pink color and an inviting, fresh strawberry nose. About $12.
- August 2, 2009
La Posta Cocina Blend 2007 (Mendoza). Wild, earthy aromas mixed with coffee. Briary palate, with wild berry, cassis, pipe tobacco, and loam flavors. Medium to full-bodied, with well-defined tannins on the finish. A blend of 60% Malbec, 20% Bonarda, and 20% Syrah. About $16.
- July 30, 2009
Chateau de la Vieille Tour 2008 (Bordeaux). Clear and surprisingly fruity, with apricot, lemon, white grapes, melon, and kiwi aromas. Not unlike a fruit tart. Juicy, with ripe exotic fruit flavors. Clean, minerally finish. Made from 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Semillon, and 5% Muscadelle. About $11.
- July 27, 2009
Celler de Capcanes Mas Donis Rosado 2008 (Montsant). Strawberry and citrus aromas emerge from this very good rosé. Has a gorgeous, clear rosy color, with a ripe, refreshing palate. Great acidity and length. A richer style of rosé. About $12.
Falesco Vitiano Bianco 2008 (Umbria). Straw hue, with pretty, floral aromatics that include lavender and fresh herbs. White grapefruit and Sweet-Tarts on the light-bodied palate, then a Marcona almond finish. Try with pesto sauce on pasta. About $10.
- July 20, 2009
Mas Que Vinos Ercavio Blanco 2006 (La Mancha). Made from 100% Airen, this vibrant Spanish white is golden in color and reminiscent of white peaches on the nose. Mustard, peaches, and braeburn apple flavors show up on the light-bodied palate. Fresh herbs on the finish. Try with grilled fish or paté. Drink now. About $10.
- July 13, 2009
Librandi Rosato 2008 (Ciro). Handsome light crimson color, and overflowing with deep cherry, citrus rind, and fresh herb flavors. Hints of barnyard and roses on the nose. Medium-bodied, and very enjoyable. About $12.
- July 10, 2009
Chateau de Sancerre Sancerre 2007. There's a fine minerality running through the lime/tangerine/tide pool aromas. Fresh, inviting, and pleasurable with its grassy, white stone profile. Seamless and approachable. About $20.
- July 5, 2009
Kumeu River Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (Marlborough). A real cut above the average New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with a fresh, inviting grassy nose, and an intense, appealing palate. Abundant lime, grapefruit, passion fruit, gooseberry, and mineral flavors that sail on through the long, zippy finish. Shows focus and symmetry. Drink now. About $22.
- July 2, 2009
Vinedos Y Bodegas Pablo Garnacha Menguante 2007 (Carinena). Deep ruby in color, with a nose of black cherry, campfire, pencil lead, and rosemary. Rustic, like the taste of the countryside, with licorice on the finish. About $11.
- June 30, 2009
Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris 2008 (Corbieres). Really pleasurable for its raspberry, orange rind, bing cherry, and lemon profile. White pepper on the finish. Refreshing and dry. About $15.
- June 28, 2009
Nita 2007 (Priorat). An interesting mix of dark flavors, such as plums, licorice, black tea, cola, coffee, and blackberries, but uplifted by spritely acidity that keeps this refreshing. Manages to keep it's balance, and exhibits a moderately long finish that shows off a crushed rock quality. Intriguing. Try with roasted garlic chicken. A blend of of 45% Garnacha, 35% Carinena, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Syrah. About $24.
- June 19, 2009
Bradford Mountain Syrah Grist Vineyard 2005 (Dry Creek Valley). Made from organic grapes, this exhibits a powerful nose of ripe, sweet blueberries, anise, smoke, bacon, cola, and black cherries. Fleshy, but not at all flabby, with a sturdy frame that holds up the dark fruit and herb flavors. Shows intensity. Only 500 cases produced. About $30.
- June 17, 2009
R Wines Shiraz Strong Arms 2006 (Southeast Australia). Opaque, deep bluish red color. Dark nose of charcoal, licorice, dark chocolate, and peppermint. Shows cola, bacon, blueberries, and blackberries on the palate, with a thick texture. Alcohol stands out on finish, but this is still a crowd-pleasing, rich value wine for near-term drinking. About $11.
- June 14, 2009
Schramsberg Brut Rosé Mirabelle Non-vintage (North Coast). Pale copper color that's barely a rosé, with a floral, watermelon, and white peach nose. Starts off with white grapefruit flavors, then moves to raspberry and strawberries. Dry. Great now, but will improve with a couple years in the cellar. About $28.
- June 12, 2009
Bastianich Rosato 2008 (Venezia-Giulia). Pretty salmon-copper color. Very floral, with ripe tangerine, bing cherry, orange rind, red apple, and hibiscus flavors. Well-balanced, and food-friendly. About $15.
- June 9, 2009
Marco Felluga Molamatta Bianco 2007 (Collio). Striking lemon verbena, honeysuckle, melon, and pizza dough aromas. Ripe, almost fleshy, with pea shoot and red apple flavors. Well-balanced. Fresh herbs on the lingering finish. About $18.
- June 6, 2009
Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Telegramme Chateauneuf Du Pape 2006. Serious wine, featuring dried herb, anise, and dusty earth scents. Dark palate, where the briary wild berry flavors show up, along with licorice. Lasting fine tannins on the finish. Not as complex or layered as the flagship bottling, but still worth it. Try with coq au vin. About $30.
- June 4, 2009
C. Donatiello Pinot Noir 2007 (Russian River Valley). Strikingly clear, with deep cherry, milk chocolate, and cola aromas. Rich in the mouth, featuring eucalyptus, dark berries, and loamy earth flavors, with enough acidity to keep it honest. Pepper on the finish. Shows precision and intensity. Aged in 40% new French oak. Try with grilled salmon . . . topped with mushrooms. About $45.
- May 28, 2009
Altovinum Evodia Garnacha 2007 (Calatayud). Made from old vine, high altitude Grenache, this red is very smoky on the nose, with blueberry and kiwi fruits. Focused, well-defined black cherry, plum, anise, chocolate, and grapefruit flavors. Acidity provides the framework for a long finish. About $10.
Familia Zuccardi Sparkling Chardonnay Vida Organica 2007 (Mendoza). Shy nose featuring brioche dough, then a doughy, green apple, lemon, and chamomile palate. Ripe fruit on the finish. Shows good depth for this price. About $15.
- May 11, 2009
Stephen Vincent Crimson 2006 (California). A blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine labeled "Crimson" exhibits sweet spices, chocolate milk, eucalyptus, and mint on the nose. Inky palate featuring ripe cherry and spices, then a nice tartness on the finish. About $12.
- April 14, 2009
Falesco Montiano 2000 (Lazio). Made from 100% Merlot, this features a powerful nose of bitter chocolate, prunes, espresso, pencil shavings (graphite & wood), and dust. Has plenty of backbone to support the chocolate, mint, and "fresh, tall greens" that are evident on the palate. Licorice on the long finish. Masculine, outstanding Merlot. About $50.
- April 12, 2009
Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc Medalla Real 2008 (Leyda Valley). Effusive, ripe, and very enjoyable, with red grapefruit, river stone, and grass flavors. Fresh and inviting, with excellent weight and acidity. Drink while on a hike, or with grilled fish. About $16.
- April 9, 2009
Chateau Laffitte-Teston Vielles Vignes 2003 (Madrain). Lavender, pollen, fresh dust, plums, and eucalyptus scents. Powerful, with flavors of rare red meat, mint, and wild berry. Deep ripe tannins, and a long finish. About $15.
- April 6, 2009
Starborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Marlborough). Intense gooseberry nose. A real blast of lime, grapefruit, and passion fruit on the palate, this remains juicy despite the lively acidity. Fresh parsley and other herbs on the refreshing, refined finish. Drink now. About $14.
- April 4, 2009
Vinedo de los Vientos Tannat 2006 (Atlantida). A dark, brooding kind of red from Uruguay, this is inky with a touch of animal and dark chocolate. Blackberries, smoke, bacon, and espresso, with a great backbone. Try with game braised lamb or game meats. About $15.
- April 1, 2009
Santa Rita Carmenere Medalla Real Special Reserve 2007 (Colchagua Valley). Deep crimson in color, and unfiltered. Very perfumed nose, featuring cloves, star anise, wild berries, prunes, and freshly brewed coffee. Velvety in the mouth, and long on the finish, where the fresh berry, tobacco, and licorice flavors really sing. About $18.
- March 29, 2009
Pares Balta Blanc de Pacs 2007 (Penedes). An intriguing blend of 42% Parellada, 33% Xarello, and 25% Macabeo, this Spanish white is well-balanced and likable, with a minerally nose that also shows tangerine and stone fruits. Grapefruit and clementines on the palate. Enjoyable acidity. Drink now. About $12.
- March 14, 2009
Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino 2003. Crimson, with hints of rust and yellow at the rim. Aromas of blueberries, sawdust, toothpaste, and wet leaves. Medium-bodied, soft, with an impressive attack that features dried and fresh cherries, tobacco, blueberries, flowers, and orange rind. Nicely layered, pretty mid-palate. Ripe, and ready. A reminder of what great wine tastes like. Drink now. About $70.
- March 12, 2009
Lot 205 Petite Sirah 2005 (California). Inky, dense, and broodingly dark on the nose, but surprisingly easygoing when it hits the tongue. Exuberant cherry, coffee, plum, tobacco, and green bell pepper flavors. A robust (but not nuanced) red, for little money. Drink now. About $10.
- March 4, 2009
Saint Peyre Picpoul de Pinet 2007 (Coteaux du Languedoc). Juicy, fresh, and inviting is this 2007, with wonderful green melon, tangerine, and fresh herb flavors. Straw-colored and bright on the nose. Notes of fleshy braeburn apple and lemon. Very pleasurable. Drink now. About $10.
Trivento Amado Sur 2006 (Mendoza). An interesting blend of 75% Malbec, 15% Syrah, and 10% Bonarda, this Argentine red possesses aromatics reminiscent of fresh mozzarella, green peppers, grape jelly, cigar smoke, and tar. Starts off with wild berries on the palate, then a blast of licorice/smoke/bacon, and finally a charcoal close. About $12.
- February 28, 2009
Rocca delle Macie Sasyr 2005 (Toscana). Deep aromatics, featuring green bell pepper, Bazooka gum, cherries, and cola. Round, fleshy, and ripe, with plum, cigar, meat, licorice, and lavender flavors. Good finish. Made from 60% Sangiovese and 40% Syrah. Outstanding value. About $15.
- February 17, 2009
Cono Sur Pinot Noir Vision 2007 (Colchagua Valley). Hints of crayon and toe on the nose. Exuberant cherry, smoke, pepper, tobacco, spice box, and dried herbs. Cola on the long finish. A real step up from the regular bottling (that's pretty good too). Excellent value. About $15.
- February 14, 2009
Chateau Soucherie Anjou 2007. Aromas of white rock, white flowers, spring grass, and "sidewalk after it rains". Not an obvious wine, with brown pear and chalk flavors. Great acidic edge that's still balanced and inviting. About $16.
- February 3, 2009
R Wines Shiraz Luchador 2006 (South Australia). Dense color, with aromas of meat, smoke, and black fruit. Full-bodied and powerful. Tons of licorice flavor, along with tobacco, graphite, iron shavings, and beef tartare. Lengthy finish. Hedonistic. About $20.
- February 2, 2009
Camille Cayran Cotes du Rhone Les Pas de la Beaume 2007. Pleasant and fresh, with welcoming black fruit, smoke, herbs de provence, rainwater, and mineral flavors. Try with game meats. Made from 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Carignan, and 5% Cinsault. About $12.
- January 30, 2009
Maschio dei Cavalieri Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Non-vintage. Exhibits clarity to the straw hue, with a nose reminiscent of white truffles and Easter lilies. Good focus to the tangerine and pear flavors. Nectarines on the finish. About $11.
- January 28, 2009
Rosenblum Syrah Vintner's Cuvee 2008 (California). Pleasurable and easygoing, the regular Rosenblum Syrah Vintner's Cuvee isn't as intriguing as their single vineyard bottlings, but is nonetheless an solid value. It expresses good weight, with peppery plum, blackberry, and dried herb flavors. Worth a try for only $10.
- January 9, 2009
La Cova del Vins Ombra 2005 (Montsant). Spicy, fresh, and inviting nose that also features licorice, coffee, and briary dark fruit. Good precision and length, with refined walnut, dark cherry, and clove flavors. Made from Garnacha, Carinena, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. About $20.