Seed Wines was planted in Mendoza’s Altamira district by Tony Hartl and Alex Chang after a seedmountaineering accident gave them time to get to know the geography, the landscape and the people of one of Argentina’s most remote areas. Under the direction of winemaker Giuseppe Franceschini, the winery produces, from a vineyard more than 3,000 feet above sea-level, fewer than 200 cases of wine annually. For each bottle sold, a local child receives a new schoolbook.

The wines reveal a great deal of care in the making and packaging, which is very stylish. While I had a shade or two of reservation about the Red Wine 2014 because of the slight effect of the oak regimen, I had no such qualms about the Malbec 2014, which strikes me as a world-class wine and among the best malbecs made in Argentina.

These wines were samples for review. The winery’s website is seedwine.com.

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The Seed Malbec 2014, Altamira District, Uco Valley, is 100 percent varietal and aged 16 months in new French oak barrels. The color is a brooding deep ruby hue; aromas of black raspberries, cherries and plums are lively and engaging, permeated by notes of graphite, lavender and violets and traces of leather, black pepper and sage. On the palate, this malbec feels dark and spicy, vibrant and savory, thoroughly imbued with raspberry and blueberry flavors (and a touch of blueberry tart) supported by bright acidity and dusty, velvety tannins, like prom dresses from your grandmother’s attic; there’s an element of foresty bite and granitic minerality as the wine gathers power and purpose in the glass, all aspects leading to an elevating finish packed with woodsy spices, minerals and wild berry fruit. 14.4 percent alcohol. Production was 59 cases. A malbec of tremendous personality and character for drinking through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $60.
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Also aged 16 months in new French oak barrels, the Seed Red Wine 2014, Mendoza, is a blend of 50 percent cabernet sauvignon, 40 percent malbec and 10 percent cabernet franc. The opaque ruby-purple hue, even unto dense black at the center, presages the wine’s intensity and concentration. It’s simultaneously robust and exotic, packed with sweet spices, lavender, bittersweet chocolate, cloves and cardamom, violets and blueberry tart, all in support of scents and flavors of ripe black currants, plums and cherries. The wine is quite dry, carrying a definite granitic mineral edge, and after a few minutes in the glass, the oak comes up in New World fashion but not overly obtrusive in manner; you know it’s there, and you either accept it or not. (I would prefer not.) 14.4 percent alcohol. Production was 49 cases. Try from 2018 or ’19 through 2024 to ’28. Excellent. About $75.
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At first sniff and sip, you might think of the Aia Vecchia Vermentino 2015, Toscana Maremma, scheda_tecnica-vermentino2“Well, that’s a decent quaff, pleasant, tasty, as untroubled as still waters.” Give it a few minutes, though, and the wine increases its effects and powers. Made all in stainless steel tanks, the wine contains 5 percent viognier to the 95 percent vermentino. The hue is very pale gold, almost colorless; it opens with delicate notes of peach and pear, with hints of flint and acacia, dried thyme and almond blossom. Give this wine a chance, and it unfurls its savory and saline character, as lively and bracing as a sea-breeze and buoyed by bright acidity. Lithe and sinewy on the tongue yet dense with slightly roasted stone-fruit flavors just touched by a wisp of honeyed lushness, the wine devolves to a spice and limestone-packed finished rounded by nuances of grapefruit peel and almond skin bitterness. 13 percent alcohol. We drank this with a white bean, yellow pepper and sage soup, and it was great. It would also be terrific with grilled shrimp and just about any roasted or grilled fish and seafood risotto. Very Good+, and at a remarkable $12 a bottle, Buy It by the Case.

Imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

Frankland Estate was established in 1988 in Western Australia by Barrie Smith and Judi Cullam, FE-Brand-1-RGB3who are now assisted by their daughter Elizabeth Smith and son Hunter Smith and a small team of workers. The aim is to produce wines that reflect location, soil and vineyard environment rather than the technical prowess of a winemaker. The winery makes admirable chardonnay and shiraz-based wines, but the rieslings are particularly compelling for their purity, concentration and intensity as well as their immense pleasurable qualities. The wines have been certified organic since 2010. Today, we look at the estate’s three top rieslings, all designated as single-vineyard, from the 2014 vintage.

Imported by Quintessential, Napa, Calif. Samples for review.
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The Frankland Estate Netley Road Vineyard Riesling 2014, Frankland River, ferments and ages in a combination of stainless steel tanks and neutral oak barrels. It offers a very pale gold hue with a faint green tinge and displays a riveting petrol element and astounding limestone minerality, along with staggering scintillating acidity. Yes, four “ing” adjectives! Fortunately, the austerity is leavened somewhat by notes of cloves and acacia, lychee and apricot, but this is primarily a riesling defined by its structural qualities. 13 percent alcohol. Try from 2018 or ’19 through 2028 to ’30. Production was 500 cases. Excellent potential. About $35.
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As with its cousin mentioned just above, the Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling 2014, Frankland River, ferments and matures in stainless steel tanks and neutral oak barrels. The color is pale but not as pale as the Netley Road; pert aromas and flavors of lychee and petrol, lime peel and peach subtly open to notes of cloves and white pepper, all riven by a decisive limestone and gunflint element that lends the whole package a chiseled, glacial character. It almost goes without saying here that the acidity is clean, bright and vibrant, and that the wine from start to finish is spare, high-toned and elegant. 11.7 percent alcohol. Drink through 2024 to ’28. Production was 1,200 cases. Excellent. About $40.
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The color of the Frankland Estate Poison Hill Vineyard Riesling 2014, Frankland River, is pale gold, but what captures your attention are the aromas of lychee and peaches when you pour some into your glass; it’s that penetrating and alluring. These aspects are followed by hints of papaya, tangerine and nectarine, with the characteristic riesling note that here leans more toward rubber eraser than petrol, wreathed with charming elements of jasmine and lilac. Limestone and flint minerality make a powerful entrance, though this wine is a bit warmer and more approachable than its stablemates mentioned above; the texture is more delicate, still lithe and energetic and propelled by an acute limestone nature. 12.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2022 to ’24. Production was 400 cases. Excellent. About $35.
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It’s not often that a wine writer or blogger gets to use the word “delightful” in reference to a chardonnay — which too often in California come across as heavy and dour — but I’m here to ChardFrnttell you that the Toad Hollow Unoaked “Francine’s Selection” Chardonnay 2015, Mendocino County, is as delightful as chardonnay gets. Though designated Mendocino County, the wine includes grapes from Monterey (12 percent) and Sonoma (10 percent). It’s made completely in stainless steel, and for 2015 malolactic fermentation was reduced to 80 percent, resulting in a wine even more clean, fresh and crisp than usual. The color is bright medium gold; aromas of green apples and pears, with backnotes of pineapple and grapefruit, are lightly spiced and delicately threaded with a leafy, sunny floral element tending toward jasmine and honeysuckle. This chardonnay is dry, but juicy with ripe citrus and stone-fruit flavors supported by decisive acidity and scintillating limestone minerality. 13.9 percent alcohol. No, this won’t challenge any of the world’s great chardonnay wines for preeminence, but for sitting out on the porch or patio, for taking along on a picnic, you can’t beat it. Very Good+. About $15, representing Real Value.

A sample for review.

The Amici Pinot Noir 2014, Russian River Valley, serves as an exemplar of the manner in which a perfectly balanced wine may embody a slight edge of risk, making it exciting as well as amicisatisfying. The wine aged 11 months in French Oak, 30 percent new barrels; winemaker was Tony Biagi. The color is an entrancing transparent medium ruby hue shading through magenta to an invisible rim. This pinot noir begins with pure raspberry and cherry aromas permeated by notes of sour cherry, melon and cherry pit, with hints of sassafras and sandalwood, pomegranate and cranberry and tinges of briers, brambles and loam. Readers, if you don’t find that bouquet irresistible, you are dead to the better things in life. The texture is superbly satiny, lithe and supple, though a shift occurs on the palate from the openness and sensual appeal of its aromas to the dark side of pinot noir spice and fruit, to the foresty and autumnal. A spine of graphite supports bright acidity that cuts a path, while slightly dusty tannins forge into the finish freighted with nuances of cloves, allspice and wild berry flavors. A few moments in the glass bring out elements of leather and lilac. 14.2 percent alcohol. Production was 2,770 cases. Drink now through 2019 to ’22. Excellent. About $35.

A sample for review.

Eve’s Cidery was founded in 2002, occupying a site south of the Finger Lakes region of New York, home-tree_01near the town of Van Etten (pop., 1,557). This is in Chemung County, the lower line of which runs along the border with Pennsylvania. The proprietors of Eve’s Cidery are James Cummins, Autumn Stoscheck and Ezra Sherman. From a wide variety of heirloom apples, the names of which sound like a roll-call of militia from the Revolutionary War, they fashion a series of sparkling and still ciders that range from tasty and engaging to downright profound. I recently went through three sparkling and one still cider from the 2014 harvest and a dessert wine from 2013 and found them to be striking for their integrity and individuality. I’m informed that the ciders from 2015 are in the process of being released. Except for the dessert wine, the ciders are packaged in standard 750-milliliter bottles. The sparkling ciders are produced in the classic Champagne Method of second fermentation in the bottle.

Samples for review. The website is evescidery.com.
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eve beckhorn
Eve’s Cidery Beckhorn Hollow Traditional Method Sparkling Cider consists of a blend of aromatic, sharp and heirloom apples: Golden Russet, Wealthy, Wixson, Cox Orange Pippin, Northern Spy, Manchurian Crab, Spigold and Idared. It offers a bright golden-yellow hue and is quite fresh and appealing, sporting mild yet persistent effervescence and a pure apple scent with a back-note of spiced pear. The finish is woodsy and peppery, and the whole presentation vibrates to a real malic tang. 8.5 percent alcohol. Production was 310 cases. Excellent. About $19.
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The apples that go into Eve’s Cidery Darling Creek Off-Dry, Traditional Method Sparkling Cider eve darling creekare the English bittersweets Ellis Bitter, Ashton Bitter, Major and Bulmers Norman, wild seedlings, balanced with the aromatics and slightly lusher tone of McIntosh and Idared. The residual sugar — the level of sugar remaining after fermentation — for Darling Creek is 1.8 percent, as compared to 0.0 percent r.s. for the Beckhorn Hollow. (Many so-called dry table wines have r.s. around 1.5 to 2 percent.) I found the sweetness here, though, as just a hint of softness and ripeness at the entry, because the cider shades immediately to dryness on the palate. The color is pure medium gold with a faint green tinge, and the cider is animated by a light petillance of effervescence. A knock-out bouquet of fresh apples unfurls a touch of pears with elusive elements of bosky mushroomy spice and a touch of riesling-like petrol. There’s a note of foresty apple-skin tannin and dryness in the finish that only adds complexity to an utterly fresh, charming and beguiling package. 8 percent alcohol. 201 cases. World-class cider. Excellent. About $19.
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Eve’s Cidery Autumn’s Gold Dry Traditional Method Sparkling Cider combines tannic English eve autumnbittersweets Dabinett, Bulmer’s Norman, Major, Ellis Bitter and Somerset Redstreak with elements of Golden Russet, Akane, Goldrush and Idared. The color is bright medium gold, the effervescence delicate and prickly. Autumn’s Gold is the spiciest of these ciders, as if it were infused with Thanksgiving pies, yet it also embodies the bracing bitterness of apple peel and almond skin, with hints of dried apples and apricots. It’s also the only one of these ciders to display a mineral element, just a touch of iodine and iron, as if those apple trees pulled up ore from the depths of the orchards. 8.5 percent alcohol. Production was 424 cases. Excellent. About $19.
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eve albee
I tasted the Eve’s Cidery Albee Hill Still Dry Cider after the three sparkling ciders mentioned above, and I probably should have reversed the order. The delicate spritzy nature of the sparkling ciders lends a natural appeal that’s irresistible. Still, this one seems to tap into the essence of the orchard and its soil and bedrock in a real and authentic manner. The blend is 51 percent Golden Russet, 22 percent Yarlington Mill, 10 Goldrush, 10 Esophus Spitzenburg, 4 Northern Spy, 3 Bedan. It’s the driest, the most austere and autumnal of these ciders, with a sense of apples, pears and melons spiced, macerated and slightly roasted, a hint of burning leaves and a tannic presence of the finish. 8.5 percent alcohol. 226 cases. Excellent. About $15 or $16.
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Here’s the real surprise. The Eve’s Cidery Essence Ice Cider comes in at 15.5 percent residual eve essence
sugar, a true dessert wine that’s balanced by swingeing acidity and a hint of apple skin tannins. Made from the juices of late season dessert apples — Idared, Jonagold, Melrose, Mutsu and Fuji — cryo-concentrated in winter, this cider offers a medium golden amber hue and seductive aromas of baked apples, apricot and apple tart, bolstered by notes of cloves and sandalwood, smoke, toffee and bittersweet chocolate, peat and heather, all these elements segueing smoothly onto the palate with a distinct honeyed and roasted character and where it feels dense, viscous, supple, succulent and as luscious as money flowing on the tongue. 10 percent alcohol. A remarkable performance. 390 cases. Exceptional. About $26 to $28.
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One sniff of the Michael David Petite Petit 2014 tells you that it could only have been made in California. Well, O.K., perhaps in South Australia. Anyway, it’s a wine that brims with the sort PetitePetitFrontof full-bore, pedal to the metal, motorcycle boots in hot tar, dark, feral plummy-jamminess that you could even narrow the scope down from generally California to specifically Lodi. Right now, My Readers are thinking, “Whoa, F.K., this is exactly the sort of wine that you deplore!” It’s true, mes amis, that I prefer wines that balance elegance and power, that reveal themselves through hints, nods and nuances, but when you’re sitting down to a trencher of chili or a platter of barbecue ribs, you can toss subtlety out the window. It’s a clever concept, though I don’t know if the name or the concept came first. A unique blend of 85 percent petite sirah and 15 percent petit verdot, the Michael David Petite Petit 2014 offers an opaque yet radiant ebony hue shading to thermonuclear purple at the rim; aromas of supernaturally-ripe blackberries and blueberries unfurl an intense core of lavender and violets, leather and loam, all bolstered by a tremendous dusty graphite element, and all factors replicated on the palate, where the wine is, not surprisingly, defined by dense, dusty, chewy tannins, incisive acidity and slash ‘n’ burn granitic minerality. For all that, the wine is lively, engaging and — paradoxically — rather light-hearted. It is certainly drenched in juicy, spicy black and blue fruit flavors. Also unexpectedly, the alcohol content is only 14.5 percent, I say “only” as compared to the 15 percent and higher commonly seen in red wines from Lodi. Drink now through 2018, maybe ’19, though freshness and immediacy are essential to this wine’s enjoyment. Excellent. About $18.

A sample for review.

By “sweethearts,” I don’t mean sweet wines but wines that are so pleasing and engaging that they seem as irresistible and buoyant as a pair of young lovers, hand in hand, lightly treading the dewy grass on a bonny morning. This pair of wines, from the Anjou area of France’s vast Loire Valley region, is new to America and originates in a family-owned concern that dates to 1790. Chateau de la Mulonnière is a project of the Saget La Perrière family that owns 890 acres in the Loire Valley spread over six estates. Anjou lies southeast of the city of Angers, a beautiful town with a magnificent castle and a medieval quarter that features an array of half-timbered buildings. Vineyard cultivation and winemaking in Anjou go back to the 11th Century and except for the interregnums of war, plague and the phylloxera, have been pretty much unabated for a thousand years.

Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, N.Y. Samples for review.
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The M de Mulonnière Rosé 2015, Rosé d’Anjou, is a blend of 40 percent cabernet franc, 30 percent M rosegrolleau, 20 cabernet sauvignon and 10 gamay. It offers a bright medium copper-salmon hue — it’s not nearly as pale as its counterparts in Provence and the southern Rhône Valley tend to be — and strikingly pungent and pure aromas of strawberries and raspberries, lime leaf and tomato skin, red currants and, faintly, pomegranate. The wine is quite dry, but juicy with ripe red berry flavors flushed with orange rind, flowing on a silky texture over the palate. A firm line of limestone minerality and bright acidity contributes a welcome element of spareness to a fairly ripe and fleshy rosé. Quite delightful. 12 percent alcohol. Very Good+. About $15.
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M CB
The M de Mulonnière Chenin Blanc 2015, Anjou, is 100 percent varietal. The color is pale gold, lent a shimmer by a delicate pétillant quality; the nose on this wine is eminently attractive, composed of seamless notes of hay and spiced pear, yellow plums, lilac, heather and bay leaf, with a background of gunflint and graphite, all bound and permeated by a golden, slightly honeyed character. Not to imply anything sweet; the wine is seriously dry but presents a round, ripe and supple nature — all yellow fruit and meadow flowers — that slides with pure pleasure across the tongue. 12.5 percent alcohol. We drank this with swordfish — marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce and rubbed with minced garlic and ginger, seared in the cast-iron skillet– but it would be equally appropriate matched with seafood risottos, trout amandine, quenelles of pike or grilled shrimp. Excellent. About $15, representing Great Value.
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Here’s a totally refreshing rosé wine made in the classic fashion of the South of France. The samorens2015lFerraton Père et Fils Samorëns Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2015 consists of 75 percent grenache grapes with the balance made up by syrah and cinsault. The color is a pale salmon-peach hue, a shade darker than onion skin, and the aromas of strawberries, red currants and peaches are as delicate as a ballerina’s wave goodbye; the wine admits hints of lemon zest and orange rind, as well as notes of cloves and dried thyme. On the palate, it flows with lovely, lithe tone and texture, propelled by pert acidity and a crystalline limestone element, and while being quite dry, the ephemeral, slightly spicy red fruit flavors are juicy and delicious. The estate, founded in 1946, was acquired by Michel Chapoutier in 2004. In 2013 the winery and cellars were updated with new equipment and fermentation tanks appropriately sized to their vineyard parcels. Partner growers farm using sustainable techniques while the estate vineyards and parcels under long term lease are managed by the winery using biodynamic methods. And that’s probably more than you need or want to know, but there it is anyway, because I’m interested. Drink this charming rosé through 2017 with typical picnic fare — fried chicken, cucumber or shrimp salad sandwiches, rabbit terrine, the kind of stuff you always pack in your picnic baskets — or as a very appealing aperitif. Very Good+. About $14, representing Excellent Value.

Imported by HB Wine Merchants, Pleasantville, N.Y. A sample for review.

Somerston
Made in stainless steel drums and tanks, fermented with natural yeast, the Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc 2015, Napa Valley, allows the eloquence of the grape to express itself with clarity and elegance. The color is very light gold, almost colorless, but displaying an elusive shimmer of pale green; aromas of dusty lilac, pear and apricot are highlighted by notes of dried thyme and sage, heather and meadow flowers, while a few minutes in the glass bring in hints of woodsy spice and acacia. The wine is quite dry but juicy with ripe citrus and stone-fruit flavors and enhanced by incisive acidity and scintillating limestone and flint-like minerality. Though it flows with surprising density on the palate, it remains lithe and lively and vibrant. 14.8 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Craig Becker. The wine is perfectly suited for drinking with grilled fish, seafood risottos, shrimp salad and the like, through 2018. Production was 1,643 cases. Excellent. About $22.

A sample for review.

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