Tagged with 'Jordan Carrier Everything Wine'

Season's Rieslings!

**A Quick Word From Your Holiday Turkey**

Gobble, everyone! Hope you’re having a gobbly-great holiday season! I’m not particularly, I’m sitting in your freezer waiting to be baked and eaten, but no hard feelings – Gobble knows if I were bigger than you and had thumbs and could recognize my own reflection, well, y’all would be on my plate too. Before all that happens, though, I’d like to ask a question that me and the other Turkeys in the yard have been wondering:

Why don’t you drink Riesling with me?

Whether it’s dry or sweet, Riesling pairs with me and my fixin’s, like gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce, in fact it’s one of the only wines that can check all of those boxes. The fruit balances the saline notes and the tartaric acid cuts through the fat. It’s so perfect it’s almost like turkeys invented it (except we woulda called it Gobble), but every Christmas y’all show up with Apothic and J. Lohr and the like… I’d shake my head disapprovingly if my neck weren’t, you know, right over there.

Riesling, folks. It’s really quite gobble.

**A Quick Word From Your Christmas Ham**

Oink, folks. I don’t often agree with my fine feathered friend there, but everything the bird just said about Riesling also applies to me. Baked ham and Riesling, guys. It’s oinking delicious.

**I am so sorry, here are some yum Rieslings**

Pegasus Bay, Waipara, New Zealand. I’m very excited to offer these unique and ultra-rare Rieslings – in fact I’m the only retailer in BC to offer these, they were imported at my request. The Donaldson family farms the vineyards in Waipara, north of Christchurch on the South Island, and differ from their Marlborough counterparts by inviting Botrytis into the mix. Often employed in sweet late-harvest and Spätlese/Auslese Rieslings, the Noble Rot concentrates the sugars in the shriveling grapes and increases phenolics, and the Donaldsons render those grapes two ways:

Pegasus Bay “Bel Canto” Dry Riesling 2017. An electric, statuesque, Botrytis-affected Riesling vinified dry, to an austere 5g/l residual sugar. Ginger, apricot and orange peel on the nose precede a stratified, richly structured body that calls to mind Smaragd Riesling from Wachau, Austria (but with way more fruit weight). The Botrytis adds waxy texture and depth, the acidity is considerable but completely in balance, bolstered by a very slight effervescence that adds the last few volts to the long finish. An altogether new Idea, I’ve never quite tasted anything like it. 95 points Cameron Douglas MS*, 94 points Bob Campbell MW*, 2 6-packs available, $59.98 +tax

Pegasus Bay “Aria” Late Picked Riesling 2016. Pushes the Pleasure Buttons faster and more frequently than a caffeinated squirrel playing Call of Duty, like someone dunked a plugged-in toaster into a Gold Capsule Auslese. Key Lime pie, jasmine and melons swirl around a lemon-yellow body of sweetness and delight. 50% Botrytis, 83g/l residual, 11% Alcohol, this is powerful, heady stuff, but the shining streak of tartaric acid saves the day and brings a fresh zing to the finish – this pairs with Foie, Crème Brulée and Stilton, not pancakes. Simply gorgeous, drink this and try not to smile, it’s impossible. 95 points Bob Campbell MW, 93 points Robert Parker, 2 6-packs available, $59.98 +tax

August Kesseler “530,3” Riesling Spätlese 2006, Rheingau, Germany. Put simply, this wine is having more fun than you. This wine is eating nougat and you are not. This wine smells like honeyed grapefruit with slate and you don’t. This wine is 13 years old and I truly hope you are not. Exclusive to Everything Wine, this is a perfectly-aged Rheingau Riesling that’s just off-dry enough to be naughty but structured enough to go a further decade if you can wait (you can’t). August Kesseler took over his family’s winery in the ‘70s and has been at the forefront of the qualitative renaissance that the Rheingau region – previously known for jug-filling – has enjoyed over the last few decades. This 2006 is a staff favourite for very good reason. 3 6-packs available, $59.98 +tax

Jim Barry “The Florita” Riesling 2018, Clare Valley, Australia. Built like an arrow, The Florita (means “wee flower”) has always been one of Australia’s Tent Pole Rieslings, showing the bright, linear purity of the Clare Valley, and serving as an antidote to the Barry family’s spine-crushing reds. Brilliant citrus and stones on the nose, business-like and fresh on the palate with a miles-long finish. Decades of cellaring potential, here, it’s like Grand Cru Alsace with blinders on. 96 points James Halliday, 6 bottles available, $71.98 +tax

Until next time, Happy Drinking!!

*Cameron Douglas MS is New Zealand’s only Master Sommelier, reviews NZ wines more than most, and should have picked a different domain name than camerondouglasms.com. Likewise, Bob Campbell is one of two NZ Masters of Wine, specialises in that country’s wines, and his domain name is fine.

Something special for your Thanksgiving feast

SOUTHERN RHONE

Domaine Oratoire St Martin “Haut-Coustias” 2015, Cairanne. The reason you don’t think about the southern Rhone village of Cairanne much is because you’ve never tried this. Tracing their winemaking roots back to 1692, the Alary brothers are pretty much the Royal Family of Cairanne, owning the prime spots and making powerful, totemistic wines in a town known for table tipples that tend to blend into the tablecloth. The Haut-Coustias site is a 90-yr-old south-facing vineyard on a hill of chalk, a terroir quite unlike its surroundings and one of the only sites in Cairanne that can fully ripen Mourvèdre, the dark, moody grape that makes up 60% of this blend (with 20% Grenache and 20% Syrah; the Haut-Coustias’ constitution is similar to Beaucastel’s Hommage a Jacques Perrin and about a tenth of the price). Gorgeous violets and nutmeg surround plums and blackberries with a healthy dose of black pepper, boldly spicy and unforgettable. I’ll be pouring this on Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room if you want to taste for yourself. One of the better values I’ve found this season. 94 points Robert Parker, 2 cases available, $52.98 +tax

Chateau Saint-Cosme 2017, Gigondas. Continuing an unbroken legacy that almost predates the fork, the Barruol family gets back to traditional hues after two hot, climate-changey vintages and breaks out the pepper mill. Black and white pepper fold around blackberry, ginger and black olives over a fresh, vibrant frame, forged in both foudre and concrete. Silky and persistent. Grenache leads the band (70%) with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault all playing tambourine. Probably best after a 2 years nap to let the finish integrate. There’s something so consistent and so right about Saint-Cosme, quite independent from how delicious it is: year after year it tastes like this ancient village’s natural reference point. 93 points Wine Spectator, 2 cases available, $77.99 +tax

Rotem & Mounir Saouma “Inopia” 2016, Cotes-du-Rhône Villages. The 97+pt Chateauneufs by Husband/Wife crime-fighting duo Rotem and Mounir (also of Burgundy’s hallowed Lucien Le Moine) were presented on these pages a few weeks ago, but these stellar, overachieving  CdRVs come from a rocky, nearly barren plot near Orange that was so tough to cultivate they named the wines Inopia, from the Latin meaning “made from nothing”. The Blanc is mostly Grenache Blanc with Roussanne and Marsanne, gorgeously silky with jasmine, brioche and pear notes over a robust frame with a touch of salinity. The Rouge is almost entirely Grenache with bits of Syrah and Cinsault, bright red fruits and lavender, medium-bodied and hella-versatile. I can’t stress the value of these enough: rather than a mishmash of lesser fruit (like most houses entry-levels are) these are single-vineyard expressions from one of France’s most exciting contemporary houses – Wednesday wines for the well-informed, if you will. I am in with both feet on this.
Blanc, 92 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $40.98 +tax
Rouge, 90 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $40.98 +tax

 

NORTHERN RHONE

VERTICAL: Domaine Jamet 2013, 2014 & 2015, Côte-Rôtie. You can see the Alps on a clear day from Le Vallin, the high plateau over Côte-Rôtie where Jean-Paul and Corinne Jamet make their traditionally ethereal wines (it’s also where they made their son Löic, who now works the vineyards with them). This “assemblage” cuvée, built from fruit in 15 different vineyards around the appellation, avoids destemming and sees almost no new barrels, so it’s a truth-serum Syrah, honestly and nakedly expressing the slate and granite terraced slopes of Côte-Rôtie in all their peppery, bacon-y glory. The Jamets have a devoted following worldwide, which is why it’s way-cool that I can offer the following:
Côte-Rôtie 2013, 94 points Robert Parker, 94 points Vinous, 3 bottles available, $165.99 +tax
Côte-R
ôtie 2014, 96 points James Suckling, 95 points Vinous 8 bottles available, $165.99 +tax
Côte-R
ôtie 2015, 97 points Vinous, 96 points Robert Parker, 9 bottles available $165.99 +tax

E. Guigal “La Landonne” 2014, Côte-Rôtie. The only one of the “La La”* Cote-Rôties by Guigal to not contain any Viognier, this 2014 Landonne is dark, deep, and more focused than someone jumpstarting a nuclear submarine, an impressive feat in a challenging vintage. The nose has notes of smoked meats stuffed with sage and olives, with hints of blackberries that have fallen under the grill, the deployment is smooth but the finish has notes of bar fights and leg-hold traps. This is a wine to be buried, hidden amongst the muggles until its eleventh birthday – only then can you announce that it is actually a wizard. 98 points Robert Parker, one wooden 3-pack available, $526.98 +tax

René Rostaing “La Landonne” 2015, Côte-Rôtie. Not quite as famous or historically significant as Guigal’s take on the same vineyard (Guigal put Côte-Rôtie on the map and single-handedly saved Viognier from extinction – in contrast, I just learned how to set a DVR recording from my phone), but Mr. Rostaing’s Landonne certainly approaches the Guigals in quality and longevity. Blackberry, fig, tobacco and bacon are just some of the attributes of this ever-changing nose, the palate is elegant power: it’s a medium weight at best but the intensity is almost frightening. Still several years out from true joy, but this 2015 will get there a tad quicker than other vintages. 99 points Robert Parker, 3 bottles available, $249.98 +tax

E. Guigal “Ex Voto” Blanc 2012, Hermitage. The best white Hermitage I’ve tasted besides Chave, from the Ermite and Murets parcels on Hermitage hill. Both stoic and generous, the nose teems with stone fruits, brioche, green apple, ginger and mint, omg. Beeswax and citrus deploy on palate, with that gorgeously viscous sewing-machine-oil texture and finish so prevalent in Marsanne. Drinking amazing now, drinking amazing in 15 years, all because it is made of magic. 97 points Wine Spectator, 8 bottles available, $249.98 +tax

Until next week, Happy Drinking!!

 

*The “La Las” are 3 Cote-Rôties by Guigal from 3 vineyards: La Mouline, La Turque and La Landonne, they are widely considered to be the appellation’s benchmark.

 

Summer Saga V - The Cult Of White Burgundy

Our Summer Saga continues with some white Burgundies that I’m rather astonishingly able to offer. If you know these houses and how the wine biz works in this province, you’ll know that it’s highly improbable that I got my hands on these in the first place. These are micro-produced, cult labels that inspire mania amongst Burgundy-heads for various reasons – be it an established legend or a rising star on the vanguard of Burgundy production (or both), collectors around the world mud-wrestle each other to get their hands on these proto-unicorns. We begin with the elephant in the room:

Maison Leroy. Yes, I got some, which logically means that there must also be a Santa Claus. Leroy hasn’t shipped to Vancouver in 5 years and we don’t know when we’ll see it next: the Madame herself chooses which cities will be awarded tiny allocations of her small production each year. You may remember Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy as the wizened, ethereal She-Druid from Netflix’s A Year In Burgundy, where she was presented as the ancient, let-us-see-what-wines-we-can-make-with-songs counterpoint to Christophe Perrot-Minot’s clinical, lab-based approach, but I feel that the documentary undersold her killer instincts for quality and business acumen – she is the largest shareholder of DRC (Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, which she co-manages with Aubert de Villaine, more on him below) and Leroy is second only to DRC in quality and price. This is literally some of the most famous Chardonnay on earth.
I have:

Maison Leroy Meursault 2001, 3 bottles available, $1,039.98
Maison Leroy Montagny 2015, 12 bottles available, $229.98
Maison Leroy Bourgogne Blanc 2016, 6 bottles available, $161.98

Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey. The Spielberg of White Burgundy. Pierre-Yves and his wife Caroline (whose own label, also made with Pierre-Yves, is similarly burning up the charts) are the scions of two prominent Burgundy lineages, but when they joined forces just over a decade ago their modern approach to cellar management rocketed them to the top of wine lists around the world. PYCM is not afraid of barrels, but his avoidance of batonnage keeps the textures bright, like lightning in a bottle. He is Stalin in the vineyards and Col. Klink in the cellar, using higher pressure pressing and eschewing fining and filtration. These wines are as hard to get and keep as Leroy, but the prices are a tad kinder. I have:

PYCM Pernand-Vergelesses “Les Belles Filles” 2017, 12 bottles available, $79.98
PYCM Bourgogne Blanc 2017, 12 bottles available, $49.98

Domaine de Villaine. Can a white grape be a black sheep? It’s probably best to ask Aligoté, the floral, silky “Third Grape” of Burgundy that accounts for less than 10% of all white wine production there. Like an orphan in a Dickens novel, Aligoté lives in the cracks, planted only in the lesser areas where Queen Chardonnay deigns not to dwell….except… The appellation where it does get love and respect is Bouzeron, the AOC where Aligoté is not only allowed but required. Aubert de Villaine, the other half of DRC, lives in Bouzeron and grows Aligoté Doré there (rather than the ubiquitous workhorse Aligoté Vert), and it was he who pushed for the creation of the Bouzeron AOC 20 years ago. His Bouzeron is a fleshy, fat, ageable White Beast showing white flowers, stone fruits and a mineral, almost saline finish. Delicious now but Aubert recommends a further 10 years nap.
Domaine de Villaine Bouzeron 2017, 6 bottles available, $77.98

Bouard-Bonnefoy. I know I’ve dropped a lot of Awesome-Bombs already, but I’m truthfully most excited about offering these 6 1er Cru Chassagnes because 1) I know this is a winery that we’ll be talking a LOT about over the next decade, and 2) this as close as we can come to isolating the elusive Terroir Molecule. The house is the marriage of Chassagne-Montrachet scion Carine Bonnefoy and her husband Fabrice Bouard, a former bodyguard of French officials. They press grapes with a hand crank, they cork and label by hand on a table in the back, the grapes are farmed without pesticides or herbicides and fermented with indigenous yeasts. The only way you can tell what century you’re in is by the cellar’s electric light, this is wine from the age of dragons.

And this offering is 6 Chardonnays from the same village, same vintage and same producer, all vinified the same way. The only variable is vineyard location, and the differences are profound. If you ever doubted the importance of place in fine wine, you need to experience these wines next to each other to see how soil composition, altitude and climate – even in incremental shifts – can affect so thoroughly what happens in your glass. I have 6 Premier Crus:

Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montachet 1er Cru ‘en Remilly’ 2017, 8 bottles available, $133.98 Uphill with moderate slope, facing south, 280-290 meters altitude with shallow stony clay soil and limestone bedrock. Lots of pear, fresh zest and spice.

Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘La Maltroie’ 2017, 5 bottles available, $133.98 Located in the heart of the village, ‘Maltroie’ offers a perfect snapshot of Chassagne’s savory, delicate character: candied lemons, roasted almonds, herbs.

Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Chevenottes' 2017, 10 bottles available, $133.98 A smooth, fruity Burgundian Chardonnay. The vineyard ‘Chenevottes’ has deeper, more fertile soils, which results in a wine with a more honeyed concentration and silky texture.

Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Macherelles' 2017, 8 bottles available, $133.98 A refined Chassagne, one that combines a lacy delicacy with layered, concentrated flavors. ‘Macherelles’ is a wonderful example of Chassagne white Burgundy, poetic and profound.

Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Les Vergers’ 2017, 11 bottles available, $133.98 Located near Saint-Aubin and vines are planted on a very stony hillside with an easterly exposure. Aromas of exotic fruits, vanilla and toasted nuts

Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Morgeot Les Petit Clos' 2017, 6 bottles available, $133.98 ‘Petit Clos’ is a small, walled plot within the larger ‘Morgeot’ vineyard, and one of its finer terroirs. An unusual vein of blue clay here gives fruit from 60-year-old Chardonnay vines a plush, savory texture.

The Saga continues next week, until then, Happy Drinking!!

Unsinkable Drinkables

Let’s take a break this week from the Summer Saga of collectibles and do some drinking. If you’re like me you’ve got a collection of Untouchables (wines that won’t be ready for years) or Poundables (cheap wines to divert your thirsty friends and family away from the Untouchables), but very few Drinkables, those premium wines that drink deliciously now, but don’t cost so much that you feel the need to vet the folks you’re drinking with. I can help with this. We begin:

Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte du Puy 2017, Beaujolais, France. An absolutely ridiculous value from a region already famous for ridiculous value. Cru Beaujolais remains the “smart person’s Burgundy” because the quality, methods and ethics are identical, only the grape variety and prices diverge. The Côte du Puy cru in the village of Morgon, with its granite-laced soils, is known for growing super bold Gamay with firm structure, and Jean-Marc and Christine Burgaud – winemakers since 1989 – basically just crush and bottle it after a short stay in concrete. Farmed by hand and horse without chemicals, one could reasonably expect this brilliant Morgon to smell like a barn, but instead it’s like vaping a corsage, gorgeous jasmine and violets surround plums and crushed strawberries, electrified by currants, orange peel and hints of quinine. The body matches the tannins, both are considerable. This is Patio Tonic, hungry and ready for anything. Pounce. 96+ points James Suckling, 4 cases available, $44.98 +tax

Sartori Marani 2016, Veronese Bianco, Italy. Meet the unofficial White Amarone. The generally exuberant Andrea Sartori speaks in hushed tones when he talks about his grandmother, the Matriarch of the Sartori family and the inspiration for this uniquely bold white wine. 100% Garganega grapes harvested in the Soave DOC, left to dry for a month and a half before crush, then given a half-year’s on-lees aging before a partial oak treatment, Marani – like the woman who inspired it – shows a delicate exterior and a strong, immovable interior. Stone fruits, honey and crushed rocks on the nose, a firm core and a finish that persists well into the next sip. I can’t find any points for this but I don’t care, you should grab some Marani before I drink it all. 3 6-packs left, $39.98 +tax

Alvarez de Toledo Mencia 2015, Bierzo, Spain. I don’t feature it often, so for those readers saying “Bierzo Whatzo?” I offer a brief primer: Bierzo is a dry, mountainous, slate-speckled region just northwest of Portugal that makes firm, bold wines out of Mencia, a medium-structured grape comparable to Cabernet Franc. Many cheap Bierzos can be like smelling dirt whilst chewing bark, but the higher-altitude, old-vine wines like this gem from Alvarez de Toledo (average vine age: 60 years), are lush, generous affairs. Blueberries and blackberries with grilled herbs and gravel, a rather round centre in context, good acidity on the landing, the tannins are formidable but well-balanced – this is modern Bierzo, into making new friends. Great for the steak off your grill or the ensuing conversations. 97+ points Decanter, 3 cases available, $39.98 +tax

Terrunyo Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Pirque, Maipo, Chile. Calling Terrunyo the “Baby Don Melchor” isn’t really accurate because it’s from a different vineyard at a different altitude (on the bank of the Maipo river), but it is made by the same team (Concha Y Toro) in the same cellars as that Icon of Chile, so it’s maybe a cousin? Whatever the nickname, this is brilliant Cab, grown in the elite Las Terrazas block of their vineyard in the Pirque appellation, brimming with freshly sharpened pencil and cassis, blackberry and leather, followed by cocoa nibs and walnuts on the long finish. This should age classically, but it’s rather scrumptious now, so don’t. 93 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $54.98 +tax

Lar de Paula Reserva 2012 Rioja, Spain. A firecracker modern Tempranillo from Rioja Alavesa, the lower altitude, hotter sub-region responsible for many of Rioja’s most innovative wines (it’s also responsible for making wines that drink like Dr. Pepper For Grown Ups, but I would never do that to you, this one is awesome). When the oenologist Meruelo family transplanted from Ribera del Duero to Rioja 40 years ago, their dream was to make wine from ancient vines, and after founding Herdad de Baroja in the 80s, Fernando Meruelo began slowly acquiring old vineyards in the Alavesa, which were cheaper at the time. Destiny led the Meruelos to start Lar de Paula a few years ago, and this Reserva is built from nearly century-old Tempranillo vines, spending 2 years in French and American oak (and the rest in bottle). Tobacco, dark fruits and cedar on the nose, a full, rich palate and hot finish. Unlike many Riojas this doesn’t need food, but it wouldn’t say no… 94+ points James Suckling, 4 6-packs available, $44.99 +tax

I’ll be pouring the Jean-Marc Burgaud, the Sartori Marani, and the Terrunyo this Saturday in the River District Vintage Room at 3pm, should you need a tad more convincing (and if indeed I have some left).

Until next time, Happy Drinking!!

Summer Saga III

Our Summer Saga continues with some new and long-awaited Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc-based wines from all over the whole wide world.

CALIFORNIA – NAPA

Dominus 2015. No need to wait, this 2015 is already a legend. The Moueix family (they of the Bordelais unicorn Chateau Petrus) bought into the small Napanook vineyard in Yountville around the same time that the Rothschilds started Opus One, and though Opus has reflected the Mondavi partnership (and the inherent To Kalon vineyard) in its relative lushness, Dominus has become the region’s stately French Embassy, like a Californian portal to the Médoc. Built like the Washington Monument pelted with blackberries, 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc. 2015 is the tallest of the tent poles in Napa’s golden run of 2012-2016, the vintage’s extra midsection making the wine a little more immediately approachable, but the stately thing to do would be to give it a decade’s nap. 100 points Robert Parker, 100 points Jeb Dunnuck, 98 points James Suckling, 2 wooden 6-packs available, $469.99 +tax ** 

Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015. Mike Grgich has accomplished many things in his incredibly long and storied life – including a short dishwashing stint in Vancouver on his journey between native Croatia and Napa – but it’s likely that he’ll best be remembered for making the Chardonnay that beat the French in the Paris Tasting of 1976. He started Grgich Hills shortly after leaving Chateau Montelena, and was an early champion of organic, non-interventionist winemaking in California, back in an era where pesticides were considered a vitamin. When I met Mr. Grgich at his winery in 2014 – he was 91 at the time – he offered me some wine in exchange for my wife (I declined). Although Mike is no longer the head winemaker (a job now held by his nephew Ivo Jeramaz), his fingerprints are all over this 2015 Cab, it is as floral and herbaceous as it is fruit-packed, with blackberries and violets taking centre stage. Ever the humanist, Grgich’s wines drink (awesomely) young, they age terrifically (I have a signed 2010 at home) and although most wineries now practice his methods, no one has quite matched his style or spirit. 96 points Decanter, 2 6-packs available, $110.98 +tax

Ashes and Diamonds Grand Vin No. 2 2015. What do you get when you combine the scion of Darioush, the winemaker of Larkmead and the oenologist of Eisele and Altagracia? Not what you think, actually. Whilst one could reasonably expect an incendiary Glycerine-grenade, Ashes and Diamonds is a throwback to the Napa wines of yore, echoing an era when the red wines of the valley could actually make French Judges mistake them for French wines. Built from Cabernet Franc and Merlot grown in their own Oak Knoll vineyard, Grand Vin No. 2 is reserved, complex, and civilized, the fruit is matched by earth, there are wisps of cinnamon and fresh portabella mushroom, spicy anise on the finish – all these flavours are present but not obvious, just like a Saint-Émillon, you have to put some work in. A&D is an unlikely cult-wine given how un-loud it is, but the buzz is booming none the less, very little enters the province because very little is made. Positioning themselves as a kind of Anti-Parker, A&D is not submitted for ratings. 6 bottles available, $154.98 +tax

Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2014. Smells like a Danish and drinks like a hug. Former Disney exec Richard Frank bought the old Tudor-style house on Winston Hill in Rutherford in the early 90s to get away from L.A. from time to time, the fact that there was a vineyard on the property was incidental to him – until he moved in and started fielding calls from dozens of Napa wineries all trying to buy his fruit. Turns out that the estate was part of the original Larkmead winery from the 19th century, and it didn’t take long for Richard to start bottling his own juice under his family label. Frank Cab is a pleasure-forward affair, with candied cherries, rich espresso, vanilla bean and cassis. The thick body is the real story here, overflowing its tannic beltline like a muffin-top after Thanksgiving. Will age a decade but so will you, so drink now and be very happy. 3 6-packs available, $87.98 +tax

DuMol Cabernet Sauvignon 2016. Enjoy a glass of Premium California Unobtanium. Adam Smith’s Uber-Cult winery Du Mol is mostly consumed with producing Sonoma Pinots and Chards that desperate collectors run each other over for in order to assume their allocations. Accordingly, this Napa-grown 2016 Cab - the third bottling he’s ever done – is available only to their wine-club members in the US. Minerality sings lead, here, over lower layers of cocoa powder and violets. The nose suggests a rocky ride but the landing is smooth and creamy. As graceful as their Pinots, as deep as a double-bass, and as forbidden to US consumers as Ketchup Chips. 93 points Wine Spectator, 6 bottles available, $175.98 +tax

CALIFORNIA – PASO ROBLES

Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon 2016. I was standing at the back of the classroom during our recent tasting with Austin Hope when we got around to this Cab, and I watched about a dozen guests get up from their seats, one by one, to trade in whatever previous wines they were holding and grab this one. It just tastes so instantly like Yes. Probably the best value I have in a blockbuster Cal Cab, full of Wagnerian bombast and girth, with sweaty ripe blackberries fanning themselves with cinnamon bark. Not sure if this is my last batch for this year, but I fear it may be. 96 points Wine Enthusiast, 6 6-packs available, $69.99 +tax

Viña Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2016. Can’t keep this one on the shelf. Even though Viña Robles is owned by a couple of Swiss guys, they sell so much wine locally that we pretty much have to beg them to send any to BC (incidentally, Everything Wine has the exclusive on this). Once upon a time Hans Nef was importing Napa wines into Europe, and was tiring of the rising costs when his friend Other-Hans (Hans-Rudolf Michel) turned him onto Paso and the terrific value therein. They partnered up to start Viña Robles and life got busier. Sporting a smidge of Petit Verdot for structure, this bonkers Cab was aged almost 2 years in a mix of French and Hungarian barrels, and shows tasty lil’ blueberries (a Paso hallmark) with chalk and cloves. 95 points – Gold Medal – Best In Show - Los Angeles International Wine Competition, 3 cases available, $49.98

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Blind Creek Collective “Consensus” 2015, Cawston. The new vintage of BC’s boldest Meritage is also its last, making this gorgeous 2015 all the more collectable. The Similkameen’s Blind Creek vineyard, due to a gap in the mountains on the south ridge of the valley, gets an hour more evening sun than nearly any other vineyard in the Similkameen or the Okanagan, making it one of the best sites in BC for ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, blended here with rich Merlot from the same plot. The “Collective” was bought out by original partner Road 13, which was itself purchased my Mission Hill, but the Blind Creek lot wasn’t part of that acquisition, leaving the future unclear for this premier BC terroir. I grabbed the last available boxes of this future lost legend, I encourage you to do the same. 6 6-packs available, $59.98 +tax

ARGENTINA

El Enemigo “Gran Enemigo” Cabernet Franc 2013, Gualtallary, Mendoza. Makes a credible claim to Argentina’s First Growth. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen a 100 point wine at this price. Ripe, fresh, and structured for the ages, this is the crowning achievement of this boutique wing of the storied Catena family, and beats a new alternative path forward for fine Mendoza wine that doesn’t depend on Malbec. If a Chinon and a Pomerol had a baby, and that baby was born a full-fledged Ninja, you’d have Gran Enemigo. Pulls off that rare trick of wielding the power of an angry Roman God without being overly heavy or backwards – those afraid of the dreaded green Greek Salad aromas (pyrazines) in unripe Cab Francs need not worry, this Ninja is full grown.  100 points Robert Parker, 4 wooden 6-packs available, $141.98 +tax

Until next time, Happy Drinking!

1 2 3 4 >