Germany


Here’s a German riesling for true lovers of German rieslings. The Heitlinger Tiefenbacher Schellenbrunnen Riesling Trocken 2014, Baden, hails from the town of Tiefenbach; the vineyard is Schellenbrunnen, designated Grosses Gewachs, something akin to a Grand Cru in Burgundy or First Growth in Bordeaux. This classification is indicated on the label by the “GG” emblem. The color is very pale, a shimmering light straw-gold hue; aromas of green apples and spiced pears are highlighted by penetrating notes of limestone, petrol and gunflint, this heady amalgam unfurling hints of peach and lychee, heather and hay. At slightly more than two-and-a-half years old, this tense, taut and vibrant riesling has attained a state of pure minerality on the palate, where it defines the notion of “bone-dry”; in fact, there’s something bony about its structure, in the sense, for example, that we consider high cheekbones — especially in women — a sign of elegance and breeding, yet the texture delivers a touch of talc-like softness that keeps the whole project from being forbidding; austere it is, yes, particularly on the whip-lash, chiseled finish, but not characterized by Olympian detachment. A few minutes in the glass free up scents of jasmine, honeysuckle and lemongrass. This is, in other words, a captivating, even thrilling riesling that delivers pinpoint and crystalline virtues at every level of its varietal nature. 12.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2022 to ’25. Exceptional. About $30.

Imported by WineWise, Oakland, Calif. A sample for review.

loosen riesling spatlese
Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2011, Mosel, Germany, is not the current release of this wine from the distinguished estate; that wine would be the 2015. However, I was sent the 2011 version by the generous people at Wines of Germany, who have supplied we with eight examples of German wines — two each quarter — for many years. How often do we get to try a wine with almost six years of development under its belt? Not too damned often! The name of the vineyard means “spice garden”; the village where it lies is indicated by the name Ürziger. The wine was made from vines that average 60 years old; it fermented and aged in a combination of stainless steel tanks and large old foudres. The color is glowing medium gold; aromas of slightly honeyed peaches and apricots are woven with notes of ginger and quince, cloves and sandalwood, smoke and loam. Though moderately sweet at the entry, the wine is riven by bright and shining acidity that segues to dryness from mid-palate back through the crystalline finish; it’s sleek and satiny, lovely, lively and delicate altogether, and the ripeness and luxury of baked stone-fruit flavors are balanced by damp stone-wet leaf earthiness at the core. 8 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2022 to ’25 with spicy Southeast Asian cuisine, charcuterie, pork chops with chilies, veal roasted with apples or, paradoxically, with the least sweet of desserts, a shortbread cookie, biscotti or fruit compote. Excellent. About $32.

Imported by Loosen Bros. USA, Oregon City, Oregon. A sample for review.

What more is there to say after “delightful and charming”? These are wines designed to provide your weekend — or the whole week, for that matter — with pleasure, deliciousness and elegance. We range widely in this post: Greece, Germany, Oregon, California, Long Island, Mendoza and Chablis. All single-variety wines, their grapes include assyrtiko, indigenous to the island of Santinori; pinot gris, not that common in the Rhineland; riesling and sauvignon blanc; gruner veltliner and pinot blanc; semillon and chardonnay. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I largely eschew technical, historical and geographical data for the sake of quick, incisive reviews meant to pique your interest and whet your palate. With one exception, the wines were samples for review. Enjoy! (In moderation, of course.)
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argyros
Estate Argyros Assyrtiko 2015, Santinori, Greece. 14% alc. This one will make you wish you were sitting in a little cafe looking out at the wine-dark Aegean Sea. It sees 20 percent French oak and was made from 150-year-old ungrafted vines. Very pale straw hue; dusty, dry marsh and seashore grasses and herbs; roasted lemon and faint spiced peach; quite ethereal and summery but displaying bracing acidity, notes of limestone-seashell minerality and an aura of yellow meadow flowers. Very Good+. About $25.
Athenee Importers and Distributors, Hempstead, N.Y.
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binz
Weingut Binz Nackenheimer Pinot Gris Kabinett 2015, Rheinhessen, Germany. 12% alc. Bright straw-gold color; jasmine and camellia, preserved lemon and lemon balm, lime peel and pear skin; a hint of mango-like tropical character; crisp and tart, taut with vibrant acidity, very dry yet ripe and juicy on the palate; long, lean, lithe finish. Truly delightful and lots of personality. Excellent. About $14, marking Great Value.
Winesellers Ltd, Niles, Illinois.
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brooks riesling
Brooks Riesling 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 12.5% alc. Pale straw-gold; a direct hit of petrol and rubber eraser, followed by notes of heather and meadow, peach and lychee, with burgeoning hints of jasmine and quince and, after a few moments, ginger beer; limestone minerality offers a tremendous presence for a sense of dimension, without diminishing such fine details as bay leaf and nuances of mango and guava; the whole enterprise feels etched with bright, dry acidity. Just great. Excellent. About $20, representing Wonderful Value.
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2016SauvBlanc
Freemark Abbey Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Napa Valley. 13.4% alc. Very pale straw-gold color; notes of lime peel, grapefruit, lemongrass and spiced pear, highlighted by hints of pea-shoots, hay and heather and undertones of sunny, leafy figs; really lively, vibrant, super drinkable, yet spare, dry, lithe, nothing flamboyant or over-done; a finish chiseled from limestone and flint but wreathed in lilac. Excellent. About $24.
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Illahe Estate Gruner Veltliner 2016, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 13.5% alc. 650 cases. Very pale straw-gold; classic ILLAHEHEADER_famowned notes of hay, lilac and pine, with roasted lemons and yellow plums, a hint of lime peel and peach; very crisp, lively and engaging, with clean acidity and crystalline minerality cutting through a juicy, talc-like texture; terrific personality and appeal. Excellent. About $17.
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2013ReservePinotBlanc300x300 (1)
Lieb Cellars Reserve Pinot Blanc 2015, North Fork of Long Island. 11.9% alc. And this one will make you wish you were sitting on a terrace in the Hamptons, gazing out at the cerulean Atlantic. Very very pale, almost invisible in the glass; notably clean, fresh and spare, quite crisp and vibrant, with delicate strains of peach and spiced pear, rose petals and candied lime peel and a tremendous volume of limestone minerality; slightly herbal and resinous finish. Lovely character. Excellent. About $22.
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Una Seleccion de Ricardo Santos Semillon 2016, Mendoza, Argentina. 13.5% alc. Medium green-gold hue; sunny, leafy figs Santos_SM_NV_labeland guava, apple skin and lightly baked pear; a haze of smoke and jasmine; quite clean, spare and elegant, with a beguiling texture that balances moderate lushness of fruit with zinging acidity and flint-graphite minerality, though that aspect emerges on the finish. Wholly delightful and pleasingly complex for the price. Excellent. About $16, marking Good Value.
Global Vineyards, Berkeley, Calif.
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chablis
Christian Simon Petit Chablis 2014, Chablis, France. 12% alc. Drinking beautifully at about two and a half years old. Pale straw-gold; shimmers with steel and limestone and a snap of gunflint, lustrous with lightly spiced lemon and apple; a texture both dense and powdery, lithe and supple; warms to subtle floral notes; lovely shape and resonance. Excellent. About $22, a local purchase.
Matinicus Wines, Beverley Hills, Fla.
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The Saar Valley is one of the least-known of Germany’s wine-producing regions, though the name used to be integral in the overall suhwar13bottleappellation Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. (After 2007 called just Mosel to be consumer-friendly.) To make its acquaintance, I would suggest the St. Urbans-Hof Nik Weis Wiltinger Alte Reben Riesling 2015, classified as Kabinett Feinherb, meaning that it’s a bit drier than most Kabinett rieslings. “Wiltinger” is the village associated with the vineyard; “alte reben” indicates old vines, in this case dating back to the early 1900s, at least in some portions of the 22-acre parcel, which lies on iron-rich Devonian slate. Dry the wine might be, but, gosh, it’s a real sweetheart. The color is a pale straw-gold hue; beguiling aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle, peach and lime peel are wreathed with notes of heather and lemongrass, green apple and mint, this panoply segueing seamlessly to the palate, where elements of roasted lemon and spiced pear are bolstered by a burgeoning tide of limestone and flint that attains a state of pure minerality. All these qualities culminate in a blithe yet savory finish characterized by grapefruit rind and bracing smoky salinity. 10.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2020 or ’22 with grilled trout, fish and seafood stews and risottos or as a delightful aperitif while cooking. Nik Weis is owner and winemaker of St. Urban-Hof. Excellent. About $18, marking Great Value.

An R. Shack Selection, HB Wine Merhants, New York. A sample for review.

The St. Urbans-Hof Nik Weis Wiltinger “Alte Reben” Kabinett Riesling 2015, Mosel, is a thrilling example of the riesling grape offered suhwar12frontat a remarkably fair price. How old are the old vines — alte reben? They originate in a vineyard established in the early 1900s, with some of the vines dating back that far. The soil sits on Devonian slate with a high iron-content that lends the wines a profound sense of minerality. The wine is made all in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts. The color is a shimmer of pale straw-gold; the wine is fresh and bright and tends toward brilliant immediacy of effect in its notes of jasmine and honeysuckle, peach and lime peel, lemongrass and green apple bolstered by a burgeoning element of flinty-limestone. The spicy stone-fruit flavors display a slightly honeyed element, but the wine is totally dry, enlivened with chiming acidity and crystalline minerality of intense focus and purity, all leading to a finish animated by graphite and grapefruit. The wine’s texture and structure, lithe and balletic, flow across the palate like liquid money. 10.5 percent alcohol. I cannot say enough how exciting this riesling was to drink, how much it felt like an embodiment of the spirit of the grapes and place where they were grown. No, it does not possess the depth of character of a “Grand Cru” vineyard, but, wow, what a fabulous, scintillating surface it conveys. It was perfect with a soup of cabbage, pork and shiitake mushrooms with lots of garlic and ginger that I made last night. Excellent. About $18, a Crazy, Raving Bargain.

An R. Shack Selection, for HB Wine Merchants, New York.

So, My Readers, here is my annual list of the Great Wine Bargains from the previous year, except that, instead of offering you 25 examples, as I usually do, I provide 30, because there are so many excellent inexpensive wines available. The prices here range from $11 to $20. and while I realize that for some people even $18 to $20 stretches what they want to pay for a bottle of wine, I believe that you will find something on this roster fit for most every taste and pocket book. This is a gratifyingly diverse group of wines, and for the first time I welcome products from Brazil, Greece and Hungary to the line-up. Many of these examples are wines to buy by the case and keep around for a year for drinking daily, though, honestly, the point of most of these wines is not to make old bones. The primary theme is: Drink Up and Enjoy. Sensibly, of course, and in moderation.
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aia
Aia Vecchia Vermentino 2015, Toscana Maremma, Italy. Very Good+. About $12.

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alpha
Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard Malagouzia 2015, Florina, Macedonia, Greece. 100 percent malagouzia grapes. Excellent. About $18.

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ascevi-cerou-friulano-label
Ascevi Luwa Ronco Superiore Ceròu 2014, Friuli Isonza, Italy. 100% tocai friulano grapes. Production was 500 cases. Excellent. About $18.
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furmint
Béres Tokaji Furmint 2014, Szaraz, Hungary. 100 percent furmint grapes. Excellent. About $19.

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15_VinGris_Domestic_750
Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare 2015, Central Coast. 44 percent grenache grapes, 20 percent grenache blanc, 13 carignane, 10 mourvèdre, 7 cinsaut and 6 roussanne. Excellent. About $18.

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colome-torrontes
Colomé Torrontés 2015, Calchaqui Valley, Salta, Argentina. Excellent. About $15.
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grf140_nv_lbl
Garofoli Serra del Conte 2014, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico, Italy. Excellent. About $11.

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duret
Domaine Pierre Duret Quincy 2014, Loire Valley, France. 100 percent sauvignon blanc. Excellent. About $14.

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duas
Esporão Duas Castas 2014, Alentejano, Portugal. 60 percent arinto grapes and 40 percent gouveio, Excellent. About $14.

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csm_pinot_grigio_2005_riserva_7895065a86
Marco Felluga “Mongris” Pinot Grigio 2015, Collio, Italy. Excellent. About $18.
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illahe
Illahe Viognier 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Excellent. About $17.

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Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2014. Excellent. About $14.
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2014_lff_tempranillo
Lee Family Farm Temprnillo 2014, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County. 53 cases produced. Excellent. About $20.

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lidio
Lidio Carraro Agnus Tannat 2014, Serra Guacha, Brazil. Very Good+. About $12.
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Masi Rosa dei Masi 2015, Rosato della Venezia, Italy. 100 percent refosco grapes. Excellent. About $15.

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gemma-rose
Masciarelle Villa Gemma 2015, Cerasuola d’Abruzzo Rose, Italy. 100 percent montepulciano d’Aruzzo grapes. Excellent. About $15.

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francois-montand-brut
Francois Montand Brut Blanc de Blancs nv, Jura, France. Very Good+. About $14.
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morgan_label_albarino_2015_front-1
Morgan Albarino 2015, Monterey County. 375 cases. Excellent. About $18.
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m-cb
M de Mulonnière Chenin Blanc 2015, Anjou, Loire Valley, France. Excellent. About $15.
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forster
Weingut Eugen Müller Forster Mariengarten Riesling Kabinett 2013, Pfalz, Germany. Excellent. About $19.

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armador-sauvignon-blanc-2013-bottle
Odfjell Vineyards Armador Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Casablanca Valley, Chile. Excellent. About $14.

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pedroncelli
Pedroncelli Winery Dry Rosé of Zinfandel 2015, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $12,

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puyanche-blanc-sec
Chateau Puyanché 2014, Francs Cote de Bordeaux Blanc. 75% sauvignon blanc, 25% semillon. Excellent. About $15.

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rc-temp-2013-ft
Real Compania de Vinos Tempranillo 2012, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain. Very Good+. About $12.
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selvapiana
Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2013, Toscana, Italy. 95 percent sangiovese grapes with five percent canaiolo, colorino and malvasia nera. Excellent. About $17.
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schneider
Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Kabinett 2013, Rheinhessen, Germany. Excellent. About $15.

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serres-rioja
Carlos Serres Crianza 1012, Rioja, Spain. 85 percent tempranillo, 15 percent garnacha. Very Good+. About $12.
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traminpinotgrigionvlabel_1013-1
Cantina Tramin Pinot Grigio 2015, Sudtirol-Alto Adige, Italy. Excellent. About $16.

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cava
Vilarnau Brut Reserve Cava, nv. Traditional blend of 50 percent macabeo grapes, 35 percent parellada and 15 percent xarel-lo. Very Good+. About $13.
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vr-label-13-red4_front
Vina Robles Red4 2013, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County. 41 percent petite sirah, 40 percent syrah, 10 percent mourvedre, 9 percent grenache. Excellent. About $17.
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So, here it is, My Readers, the annual “50 Great Wines” roster, presently for the past year, that is, 2016. Not the “Greatest” of all wines or the “Best” of all wines, but a selection of 50 products that struck me as embodying everything we want in a wine: freshness, balance, appeal; depth, personality and character; an adherence to the nature of the grapes and, where possible, the virtues of the vineyard and climate. These are wines that leave aside the ego of the winemaker and producer for an expression of — not to sound too idealistic — an ideal of what a wine should be. I won’t belabor the process by which I arrived at this list of 50 wines, except to say that every wine I rated “Exceptional” during 2016 is automatically included. Did I leave out wines that I truly admired? Indeed, I did, because this list focuses on wines that I truly loved. Enjoy!
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acorn-2013-heritage-vines-zinfandel-rgb-72dpi
Acorn Heritage Vines Alegria Vineyard Zinfandel 2013, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. 78 percent zinfandel, 12 percent alicante bouschet, 8 percent petite sirah and 2 percent a combination of carignane, trousseau, sangiovese, petit bouschet, negrette, syrah, black muscat, cinsault and grenache. A real field blend. Production was 548 cases. Excellent. About $45.
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gratien
Alfred Gratien Brut Rose nv, Champagne, France. Excellent. About $65.
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Arrow&Branch Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $35.
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bk-chard
Black Kite Cellars Soberanes Vineyard Chardonnay 2014, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County. Production was 212 cases. Exceptional. About $48.
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Bonny Doon Bien Nacido X-Block Syrah 2012, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County. Exceptional. About $50.

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orestano-pn
R. Buoncristiani Vineyard Orentano Pinot Noir 2012, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. 305 cases made. Excellent. About $40.

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Les Cadrans de Lassegue 2012, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux. Merlot and cabernet franc. Excellent. About $35.

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cdr_13pnoir-weblowres
Champ de Rêves Pinot Noir 2013, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County. Exceptional. About $45.

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chartogne
Chartogne-Taillet “Heurtebise” Blanc de Blancs Brut 2008, Champagne, France. Exceptional. About $65 to $80.

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julienas_12_web
Domaine Chignard “Beauvernay” 2014, Julienas, Beaujolais Cru. Excellent. About $22.

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cs12mcwlweb
Cornerstone Cellars Michael’s Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Napa Valley. Production was under 250 cases. Exceptional. About $75.

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Erath Winery Prince Hill Pinot Noir 2012, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Excellent. About $50.

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Etude Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, Sta. Rita Hills. Exceptional, About $45.

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eve-essence
Eve’s Cidery Essence Ice Cider, Finger Lakes, New York. 390 cases produced. Exceptional. About $28.

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fields
Fields Family Wines Old Vine Zinfandel 2013, Lodi. 250 cases made. Excellent. About $28.

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gamble
Gamble Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $25.

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barb
Tenute Cisa Asinari Marchesi di Grésy Martinenga Camp Gros Riserva Barbaresco 2010, Piedmont, Italy. Exceptional. About $106.

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inman-ogv
Inman Family OGV Estate Pinot Noir 2013, Russian River Valley. Excellent. About $73.

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jayson-cab-label
Jayson Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $75.

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luscher
Luscher-Ballard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley. 200 cases produced. Excellent. About $80.

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lutum_2013_web-2-183x619
Lutum La Rinconada Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013, Sta. Rita Hills. Production was 225 cases. Excellent. About $50.

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macphail-logo
MacPhail Wightman House Pinot Noir 2013, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County. Production was 100 cases. Exceptional. About $55.

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alsace-1
Frederic Mallo Vielles Vignes Rosacker Riesling 2010, Alsace Grand Cru. Excellent. About $23.

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merisi
Merisi Wines Denner Vineyard Petite Sirah 2013, Lake County. 100 cases produced. About $35.

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montelena-riesling
Chateau Montelena Riesling 2015, Potter Valley. About $25.

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nerthe-2
Chateau La Nerthe 2014, Chateauneuf-du-Pape blanc. 40 percent each grenache blanc and roussanne, 10 percent each clairette and bourboulenc. Excellent. About $65.

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Patz & Hall Vineyard Hyde Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012, Carneros-Napa Valley. Excellent. About $70.

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prv_lepetitclos_chard_sld_main
Pine Ridge Le Petit Clos Chardonnay 2013, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $75.

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Pol Roger Extra Cuvee de Reserve Brut Rose 2004, Champagne, France. Excellent. About $80-$100.

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montezargues-2012-website-1
Prieure de Montezargues 2014, Tavel Rose. 55 percent red and white grenache, 30 percent cinsault, 13 percent clairette, 2 percent melange of syrah, mourvedre, carignane and bourboulenc. Excellent. About $24.

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red-newt
Red Newt Cellars Tango Oaks Vineyard Riesling 2013, Finger Lakes, New York. About $24.

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german-2
Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Josephshoff Riesling Kabinett 2012, Mosel, Germany. Excellent. About $23.

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rmw_2013_cabernetsauvignon_oakville_lowres
Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley. 81 percent cabernet sauvignon, 13 percent cabernet franc, 2 percent each malbec, petit verdot and merlot. Excellent. About $60.

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2014 Romb_SB_f+b_v5
Rombauer Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $24.

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Saxon Brown Durell Vineyard Hayfield Block Pinot Noir 2012, Sonoma Coast. Fewer than 100 cases. Exceptional. About $48.

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sedition-bottle-of-wine2
Sedition Chenoweth Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. 230 cases produced. Exceptional. About $75.

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seed
The Seed Malbec 2014, Altamira District, Uco Valley, Argentina. 59 cases made. Excellent. About $60.

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smith-madrone-chardonnay
Smith-Madrone Chardonnay 2013, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley. Production was 806 cases. Exceptional. About $32.

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stonestreet-sb
Stonestreet Estate Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County. Exceptional. About $35.

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stony-hill-chard-label
Stony Hill Chardonnay 2013, Napa Valley. Production was 1,852 cases. Exceptional. About $45.

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3-sticks-durell
Three Sticks Durell Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013, Sonoma Coast. 585 cases produced. Exceptional. About $65.

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tongue-dancer
Tongue Dancer Wines Pinot Noir 2013, Sonoma Coast. Production was 125 cases. Exceptional. About $45.

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troon
Troon Vineyards Vermentino Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Applegate Valley, Southern Oregon. 80 percent vermentino, 20 percent sauvignon blanc. 176 cases produced. Excellent. About $24.

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2-sheps
Two Shepherds Catie’s Corner Viognier 2014, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Production was 75 cases. Exceptional. About $26.

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02_85432_f
Two Shepherds Pastoral Blanc 2013, Russian River Valley. 12.9% alc. Roussanne 50%, marsanne 25%, viognier 13%, grenache blanc 6%, grenache gris 6%. Production was 100 cases. Exceptional. About $30.

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carignanrose15-f_ttb
Two Shepherds Trimble Vineyard Carignan Rosé 2015, Mendocino County. Production was 50 cases. Exceptional. About $22.

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ws-westside-road
Williams Selyem Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir 2014, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Exceptional. About $55.

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poete
Guillaume Sorbe “Les Poëte” 2014, Quincy, Loire Valley, France. Sauvignon blanc. Exceptional. About $30.

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windracer
WindRacer Pinot Noir 2012, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County. 1,007 cases produced. Exceptional. About $50.
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zena-259
Zena Crown Vineyard Conifer Pinot Noir 2013, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Production was 240 cases. Excellent. About $75.

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I urge My Readers to seek out the Reichsrat von Buhl Riesling Sekt Brut 2012, from Germany’s Pfalz region. This bottle was a sample from buhlthe local distributor, and while the current vintage seems to be 2014, I recommend the 2012 for its suppleness and burnished quality, like old silver polished to a noble, darkened sheen. It’s 100 percent riesling, aged on the yeast in bottle for 12 months. The color is the palest of pale gold hues, and the rush of tiny glinting bubbles is tempestuous. Amazingly clean, fresh, pure and scintillating, this sparkler features notes of green apple and lightly bruised pear, with undertones of wood smoke, limestone and chalk; a few minutes in the glass bring out touches of freshly baked biscuits and cloves, toffee and a bit of coffee in the background as an expression of earthiness. This sparkling wine is crisp and very dry, bracing with bright acidity and seashell salinity, vibrant and resonant over tremendous reserves of limestone and shale minerality, all at the service of slightly over-ripe and decadent stone-fruit flavors. 12.5 percent alcohol. Drink through 2018. Excellent. About $20.

A Rudi Wiest Selection, Cellars International, San Marcos, Calif.

Hahaha, Readers, it’s a trick question, the answer to which is not “yes or no” but “yes and no.” It’s a truism of the wine industry that German wine regulations are the most confounding and confusing in the world. Since 1971, when the laws were codified, revisions have occurred several times, including in 2009 under the dictates of the European Union. Every wave of alterations promises to make matters easier on consumers, but those good intentions tend to fly out the window and leave things just as muddled as they were before. My goal today is not to give My Readers a complete lesson on German wine regulations and how to read the label on a bottle of German wine but simply to clarify the points of the so-called Prädikatswein, renamed from Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) (superior quality wine) in 2007. The catch is that this category dies not guarantee the “superior quality” of the wine in the bottle but indicates the level of ripeness of the grapes and the relative time of harvest, giving consumers a rough guide to the sweetness of the wines.

Kabinett – implies fully ripened grapes from the main harvest, meaning not late-harvest, typically semi-sweet with crisp acidity, but can be dry if designated so.
Spätlese – meaning “late harvest,” typically half-dry, often (but not always) sweeter and fruitier than Kabinett. The grapes are picked at least 7 days after normal harvest, so they are riper.
Auslese – meaning “select harvest,” made from very ripe, hand selected bunches, typically semi-sweet or sweet, sometimes with some noble rot character.
Beerenauslese – meaning “select berry harvest,” made from overripe grapes individually selected from bunches and often affected by noble rot, making rich sweet dessert wines.
Eiswein (ice wine) — made from grapes that have been naturally frozen on the vine, making a very concentrated and indubitably sweet wine.
Trockenbeerenauslese – meaning “select dry berry harvest” or “dry berry selection,” made from overripe shriveled grapes often affected by noble rot making extremely rich sweet wines. “Trocken” in this phrase refers to the grapes being dried on the vine rather than the resulting wine being a dry style.

So, the five wines discussed today all carry the Kabinett designation, all exhibit various levels of sweetness on the entry but slide into dryness from mid-palate back through the finish because of the sometimes exquisitely bright acidity and the presence of mitigating limestone and flint minerality.

Unless otherwise indicated, these wines were samples for review.
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Dr. Pauly Bergweiler Wehlaner Sonnenwehr Riesling Kabinett 2014, Mosel. The color, so to speak, is pale pale bergweilerephemeral gold; aromas balance green apple, peach and pear, lychee and honeysuckle. In the mouth, this hovers delicately between medium dry and medium sweet; the texture floats cloud-like softness riven by bright acidity to a dry, faceted finish laden with hints of loamy earthiness and intense limestone minerality. 8.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2018 to 2020. Very Good+. About $22.
Winesellers Ltd., Niles, Ill.
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Weingut Darting Durkheimer Hochbenn Riesling Kabinett 2014, Pfalz. The overall impression of this very pale dartinggold-hued riesling is of fine-boned delicacy and chiseled elegance; notes of peach, lychee and petrol offer petals — as it were — of lilac and jasmine, while lively acidity keeps the wine animated and flowing on the palate and nicely balanced with a tendency toward dryness. Drink up. Very Good+. About $20, a local purchase.
A Therry Theise Selection, Skurnick Wines, New York.
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Dr. H. Thanisch Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett 2015, Mosel. The color is very pale straw-gold; notes of lychee and peaches are highlighted by jasmine and honeysuckle, quince and crystallized ginger, with undertones of petrol and cloves. It’s slightly honeyed, a bit over-ripe but well-balanced by chiming acidity and a dry finish etched with limestone; currents of earth keep it grounded. 8.2% alcohol. Now through 2019 or ’20. Excellent. About $22.
Winesellers Ltd., Niles, Ill.
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Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Kabinett 2013, Rheinhessen. A golden wine, vibrant in its schneiderpale gold color, rich in aromas of apples, pears and spiced peaches, jasmine and honeysuckle; yes, it’s sweet, like a nectar of honeydew and apricots, but it glides into dryness across the palate, where it funnels into a finish hewn from limestone and flint; a few moments in the glass add notes of rubber eraser, ginger and quince. It’s a lively, vibrant, irresistible wine packed with personality. 8.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2021 to ’23. Excellent. About $15, an Incredible Bargain.
Winesellers Ltd., Niles, Ill.
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Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2011, Mosel. Opens with a shimmering pale gold color and continues with a nose that’s earthy and musky, distinctive with notes of green apples and spiced pears, with a burgeoning effect of ripe peaches, jasmine and a whiff of petrol; the pungency and redolence are beguiling and authoritative. A moderately sweet entry segues into total dryness, abetted by blazing acidity, from mid-palate back through the finish, where a scintillating limestone and flint element dominates. 9.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2020 to ’23. Excellent. About $36, a local purchase.
A Rudi Wiest Selection, Cellars International, San Marcos, Calif.
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Here’s a delightful sparkling wine from Germany’s Rheingau region, produced by the Barth family in the traditional Champagne method of barth-sektkollektion-riesling-brutsecond fermentation in the bottle. The enterprise, established in 1948, makes a full range of still and sparkling wines, the latter of which are all estate-grown and produced. The Barth Brut Riesling Sekt, non-vintage, is 100 percent varietal and spent two years in the bottle resting on the lees of spent yeast cells. The color is medium gold, highlighted by a steady upward stream of tiny golden bubbles. The bouquet, well, the bouquet smells like a melange of everything we love about apples — fresh-cut Granny Smiths, spiced and baked apples, apple cider and a touch of slightly astringent red apple skin, all abetted by notes of pears and peaches, heather and honeysuckle. This sparkler is lively and effervescent on the palate, and though there’s something a bit honeyed about its richness, like candied quince and crystallized ginger, it’s quite dry and enters the finish with an element of fleet spareness. Not your usual sparkling wine. 12 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $28.

Imported by Truly Fine Wines Inc., San Diego, Calif. A sample for review.

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