Australia


Actually, the title of this post is a misnomer. What I offer today, in the first Weekend Wine Notes of 2019, are 10 wines that rate Excellent and two that rate Exceptional, the latter both pinot noirs from different regions of California. Also included in this diverse roster are a Gewurztraminer 2012 from Alsace; a chardonnay from Sonoma Coast; two sauvignon blancs, one from New Zealand, the other from Tuscany; a monumental cabernet/shiraz blend from Australia’s McLaren Vale region as well as an equally monumental 100 percent shiraz from Padthaway; two wines from Costières de Nîmes in the Southern Rhone Valley, one white, one red; a Spätlese Riesling from Rheingau, in Germany; and a stylish merlot from Walla Walla, Washington. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the technical, historical and geographical data that I dote on for the sake of quick and incisive reviews ripped, as it were, from the pages of my scribblings and designed to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy! In moderation, of course.

With one exception, duly indicated, these wines were samples for review.
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Domaine Barmès-Buecher “Tradition” Gewurztraminer 2012, Alsace, France. 13.5% alc. Bright brassy-gold hue; honeyed peach and apricot, jasmine and honeysuckle, lychee and baked pineapple, cloves and allspice; towering acidity and limestone minerality keep it dry on the palate, yet generous with stone-fruit flavors; flows like money to a spicy, energetic finish; a glittering, seamlessly integrated gewurztraminer. Through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $25, so fans of the grape should Buy a Case.
Encore Wine Imports, Pleasanton, Calif., according to the back label, though the company no longer lists the estate on its website.
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Black Kite Cellars Gap’s Crown Vineyard Chardonnay 2016, Sonoma Coast. 14.4% alc. 143 cases produced. Bright medium gold hue and a golden wine in every respect; pineapple and lemon rind, touch of quince and ginger, hints of orange zest and spiced tea; dense and supple on the palate, almost talc-like; lively acidity provides balance to the ripe, succulent citrus and stone-fruit flavors; a long finish influenced by elements of flint and chalk. Just poised enough for my taste. Excellent. About $58.
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Byron Winery Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County. 13.3% alc. 200 cases. Medium ruby shading to utter transparency; spiced and macerated black cherries and blueberries with touches of pomegranate, red cherries and licorice; incredibly perfumed: violets and lilac, sassafras, rhubarb, cranberry; smooth as silk and as weighty as velvet, both ethereal and acutely present; time in the glass brings in notes of mocha and bittersweet chocolate, with a foundation of graphite minerality motivated by acidity as deep as a river. An extraordinary pinot noir. Now through 2023 to ’25. Exceptional. About $55.
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Hickinbotham “The Peake” Cabernet Shiraz 2015, McLaren Vale, Australia. 14.5% alc. 56% cabernet sauvignon, 44% shiraz. Very dark ruby-purple; ripe and fleshy black currants and plums with traces of blueberries; iodine and mint, graphite, smoke, lavender; an array of foresty, briery and brambly qualities; animated acidity drives through sturdy but not oppressive tannins; tremendous presence and energy, with sleek chiseled granitic minerality and a long juicy finish. Now through 2025 to ’29. Excellent. About $150.
Majestic Imports, Santa Rosa, Calif.
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Henry’s Drive Magnus Shiraz 2012, Padthaway, Australia. 15.5% alc. 100% shiraz. Inky purple; iodine and iron, sage, mint and eucalyptus; ripe and spicy black cherries and raspberries; smoke and cedar, tobacco and cigarette paper; a huge wine with swingeing acidity and searing tannins that paradoxically displays a surprisingly winsome character despite its size; develops notes of blueberry, violets and graphite; the finish stalwart with granitic minerality. Now through 2025 to ’28. Did someone mention rack of venison or haunch of wild boar? Excellent. About $80.
Quintessential Wines, Napa Calif.
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Michel Gassier Lou Coucardié 2014, Costières de Nîmes, Southern Rhone. 14% alc. 50% roussanne, 30% grenache blanc, 20% viognier. Bright medium yellow-gold; spiced pear and quince, bee’s-wax and lanolin; heather and white flowers, distinctly meadowy yet as bracing and saline as the seashore; lithe and supple on the palate, slightly powdery and talc-like texture, riven by bright acidity; crystalline in presence and purity. Through 2020. Excellent. About $26.
Imported by European Cellars, Charlotte, N.C.
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Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc 2017, North Canterbury, New Zealand. NA% alc. Very pale straw-gold color; lime peel and grapefruit, celery seed and leaf, hint of caraway; lavish with roasted lemon, quince and ginger; very dry, with the pent energy of vibrant acidity and crystalline limestone; real presence and personality; altogether fresh, clean and scintillating. Excellent. About $16, representing Great Value.
Imported by Mt. Beautiful USA,
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Chateau Mourgues du Grès Terre d’Argence Rouge 2015, Costières de Nîmes, Southern Rhone. 14.5% alc. 70% old vine syrah, 30% grenache, touch of mourvèdre; farmed organically. Densely dark ruby hue; burgeoning bouquet of black currants and plums, notes of blueberry, loam and violets; juicy, ripe and fleshy, with mildly dusty tannins, but lots of grip and traction; intense core of graphite and lavender; quite dry, dynamic mineral-laced finish. Now through 2020 or ’21. Excellent. About $22, marking Great Value.
Imported by Natural Wine Company, Denver, Colo.
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Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia 2016, Toscana, Italy. 13.5% alc. 80% sauvignon blanc, 10% each viognier and vermentino. From the famed estate in Bolgheri, in southwest Tuscany. Pure medium straw-gold hue; grapefruit, pear and preserved lemon; heather, crushed gravel and talc; hint of leafy greenness melded with Mediterranean herbs; quite dry, lithe, vibrant, seething with flint and limestone minerality; lots of personality and character. Now through 2021 or ’22. Excellent. About $75.
Vintus LLC, Pleasantville, N.Y.
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Schloss Vollrads Spätlese Riesling 2014, Rheingau, Germany. 7.5% alc. Pale straw-gold color; a brilliant and appealing nose of melon and celery-leaf, lilac, camellia and tangerine, with a rising tide of lime peel and lemon balm, all delineated with marked intensity; it’s more peachy and stone-fruit in the mouth, slightly honeyed yet beautifully balance by blazing acidity and scintillating limestone minerality; it finishes quite dry, yet never loses its aura of luminous purity. Truly lovely, for drinking through 2021 to ’24. Excellent. About $31. I paid $34 locally.
Imported by Schmitt Sohne USA, now part of Delicato Family Vineyards, Manteca, Calif.
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Seven Hills Winery “Seven Hills Vineyard” Merlot 2015, Walla Walla, Washington. 14.7% alc. Opaque black-purple with an ephemeral rim; loam, graphite and iodine; intense and concentrated black fruit framed by toasty oak and dusty tannins; a powerful stroke of lavender, lilac and bittersweet chocolate; plush texture tempered by brisk acidity and foresty-mineral elements; blueberry and more graphite in the finish. Seven Hills is part of Crimson Wine Group, which includes Pine Ridge Vineyards, Seghesio Family Vineyards and Archery Summit Winery. Now through 2021 or ’22. Excellent. About $45.
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Stewart Winery Pinot Noir 2015, Sonoma Coast. 14.5% alc. Deep ruby-magenta hue; pungent aromas of spiced and macerated black cherries and currants, a bit fleshy and meaty; unearthly perfumed and evocative; sassafras, sandalwood and rhubarb; cloves, rose petals and lavender; loam and graphite; generous and expressive, with a lovely silky, lithe, rippling drape on the palate; sweet supple tannins animated by bright acidity that cuts a swath; final hints of blueberries and pomegranate; altogether pure, almost rigorous in structure but delivering phenomenal sensual appeal. Now through 2021 to ’23. Exceptional. About $45. Buy a case.
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You’re thinking, “Hold on, FK, ’tis merely the hump of the week. Why are you posting a Weekend Wine Notes today?”

Well, Curious Reader, because this post started back before Memorial Day and was not completed for various reasons until today, and posting earlier than usual will give people plenty of chance to plan for the weekend’s grilling and drinking. I’m thinking burgers and steaks, pork chops and leg of lamb, ribs and pork shoulder, sausages and hot dogs. Yummo!

We’re firing on eclectic burners today, featuring wines from Argentina, Australia, various regions of California, Portugal, Chile and Washington state. We’re pretty darned diverse when it comes to grapes, too. What binds these wines is a certain robust nature, a flavorful allure and structural firmness that will pair perfectly with the hearty fare that comes from your grills. Oh, there’s also a wide range of prices, from $10 a bottle to $90. We try to cover all the bases here at BTYH.

As usual, with the Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew data of the geographical, technical and historical nature for the sake of quick and incisive reviews ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebooks. The aim is to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy! In moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review.

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San Pedro 9 Lives Malbec 2017, Mendoza, Argentina. 13% alc. Very dark ruby hue; deeply spiced and macerated black cherry and raspberry scents and flavors; cedar, rosemary and tobacco; touches of licorice, lavender, iodine and loam; appealing energy from acid and graphite mineral element; fairly rustic tannins. Now through 2019. Very Good+. About $10, for Buying by the Case.
Shaw-Ross International, Miramar, Fla.
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Steele Wines Persona Non Grata Red Wine 2015, Lake County. 15.2% alc. 36% merlot, 30% syrah, 28% zinfandel, a touch of pinot noir and a mystery grape. (The blend changes every vintage.) Black-opaque with a softer purple rim; big, bold and brash, robust as all hell, berries, berries and berries — red, black and blue — ripe, spiced and macerated, a little fleshy; quite dry, permeated by bold tannins and dynamic acidity; flush with red and black currants and a touch of blueberry; a core of mocha, lavender and graphite. Now through 2020 to ’22. Excellent. About $16, marking Great Value.
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Luke Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley, Washington. 14.7% alc. With 4% petit verdot, 1% malbec. Intense, medium ruby-purple with a transparent magenta rim; rich cassis and black cherry scents and flavors, with threads of red berries; sleek and polished but displaying tremendous density and presence on the palate; lip-smacking acidity and dusty tannins offer structure for the succulent fruit; a powerhouse finish composed of granitic minerality, baking spices and intense dark fruit. 14.7% alc. Nothing subtle here, but that’s not what you’re looking for, n’est-ce pas? Very Good+. About $25.
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Esporao Reserva 2014, Alentejo, Portugal. 14.5% alc. 40% aragonez, 30% alicante bouschet, 20% trincadeira, 10% cabernet sauvignon. Dark ruby-magenta with a transparent rim; intense and concentrated, a raw, robust, lithic, dry, tarry red wine; packed with smoke and ash, spice, lavender and licorice, graphite, espresso and bittersweet chocolate; ripe, fleshy and meaty black currants, blackberries and blueberries; impressive presence on the palate but not overbearing or wearisome; propelled by bright acidity and dusty, dynamic tannins. Quite a performance; drink now (if you’re up to it) through 2023 to ’25. Excellent. About $25.
Imported by Aidil Wines & Liquors, New Bedford, Mass.
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Murrieta’s Well “The Spur” 2015, Livermore Valley, Alameda County. 14.5% alc. 48% cabernet sauvignon, 20% petite sirah, 18% merlot, 8% petit verdot, 6% cabernet franc. Super dark black-purple with a glowing magenta rim; nothing shy here but an exuberant expression of red and blue plums, black currants and blueberries, deeply infused by elements of loam, licorice and lavender, dusty graphite and sandalwood and flowers of the woodlands; large-framed and dense on the palate, founded on stalwart tannins and animated by lively acidity; very dry, even a bit austere, but gushes with ripe, spicy black fruit flavors. When you’re sipping this wine, you pretty much forget everything else going on at the moment. Now through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $35.
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Scheid Vineyards Hames Valley Vineyard Petite Sirah 2015, Monterey. 14.9% alc. Opaque inky-purple; a brooding, deeply spiced and macerated wine; ripe plums, cherries and currants, notes of iodine, bacon fat and espresso; quite dry but juicy and succulent on the palate; loads of dusty graphite-tinged tannins cut by bristling acidity; a finish hewed from granite and limestone that doesn’t dampen the litheness and suppleness of the texture. Excellent. About $36.
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Dutton-Goldfield Morelli Lane Vineyard Zinfandel 2015, Russian River Valley. 14.5% alc. 232 cases. Dark ruby-purple with a magenta rim; ripe blueberry and boysenberry infused by graphite and iodine, licorice and lavender; a few moments in the glass adding violets, sandalwood and espresso; finely grained and sifted tannins; a zinfandel that’s lively and zesty, dense and chewy, lithe and supple, with rooty and loamy elements and delicious black and blue fruit flavors; a chiseled granitic finish that’s transparent and expressive. Great winemaking at the classic level. Now through 2021 to ’23. Excellent. About $50.
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Wakefield St. Andrews Shiraz 2015, Clare Valley, Australia. 14.5% alc. Opaque black-ruby hue with a purple rim; opens with a burst of mint, iodine and eucalyptus, unfolds hints of cedar and tobacco, mocha and tar, gradually adding notes of black currants and cherries with a high note of blueberry and wild overtones of wet fur and lavender; expansive and expressive on the palate; dusty, graphite-tinged tannins and rich black fruit flavors enlivened by fine-tuned acidity; very dry and drenched with elements of briers, brambles and underbrush. A powerhouse but quite drinkable. now through 2025 to ’28. Excellent. About $65.
Seaview Imports, Port Washington, N.Y.
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Apaltaqua Grial Carmenere 2015, Apalta Valley, Colchaque, Chile. NA% alc. 100% carmenere. Deep ruby-purple hue; dusty loam and graphite; black currants and cherries with traces of blueberry and pomegranate; hints of bell pepper, cedar and dried rosemary, with a touch of the latter’s resiny, woody astringency; abundant dry, fine-grained tannins at the service of brisk acidity and a brooding sense of expansive energy; it’s a big one, all right, dark, solid, lithic and just begging for a platter of smoked ribs or chipotle-grilled pork chops. Excellent. About $75.
Global Vineyard Imports, Berkeley, Calif.
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Kelly Fleming Wines Big Pour Red Wine 2014, Napa Valley. 14.9% alc. 81% cabernet sauvignon, 11% malbec, 5% syrah. 883 cases. Black-purple with a glowing magenta rim; deeply spiced and macerated plums and currants; fruitcake and espresso; mint, iodine and charcoal; dusty, velvety tannins; cedar and pine resin, leather and dried sage; densely furnished with briers, brambles and underbrush and granitic minerality; tremendous presence and resonance on the palate, a Big Pour indeed, not for the faint-hearted. Now through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $90.
The label image changes every year.
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In case you were wondering what sauvignon blanc to buy by the case to drink through this Spring and Summer, here’s my urgent suggestion. Pick up your phone or open you laptop and head for the Hewitson LuLu Sauvignon Blanc 2017, from Australia’s Adelaide Hills appellation. Made all in stainless steel, this sprightly and zesty sauvignon blanc features a very pale straw-gold hue with a green shimmer and incredibly attractive aromas of celery leaf, lemongrass, fennel and lime peel; a few moments in the glass unfurl a subdued charge of gooseberry and gunflint, dusty fig and greengage. Sleek, crisp and lively on the palate, the wine flows over shelves of scintillating limestone and flint that support spare flavors of lemon and spiced pear, all encompassed in an aura of sunlight, lilacs, sea-breeze and a whole orchard of greenness. A moderate 12.7 percent alcohol. Now through 2019, with fresh-shucked oysters, seafood risottos, grilled or roasted fish. Excellent. About $20.

Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, N.Y. A sample for review.


I should save this grenache-based wine for a post I’m doing later in the month about the grape and a variety of wines made from it, but I was so pleased with its natural affinity for this weekend’s pizza that I wanted to tell My Readers about it. First, the pizza: on a bed of chopped basil and radicchio, I scattered a handful of little sliced tomatoes marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried thyme and oregano; then a bit of chopped red onion and diced and fried pork belly; some chopped black olives; mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and pecorino cheeses; a drift of urfa and maresh peppers; when the pizza was about a minute from being done, I pulled it from the oven and scattered a handful of minced parsley. Wow, a great pizza, with a thin, crisp but not cracker-like crust, a bit puffy around the edges.

So, the wine was the Hewitson Miss Harry “Harriet’s Blend” 2015, from Australia’s Barossa Valley, a Côtes du Rhône-style melange of 62 percent grenache, 16 percent shiraz, 14 mourvedre, 7 cinsault and 1 percent carignan. The color is an entrancing and totally transparent medium ruby-magenta hue; notes of deeply spiced and macerated red cherries and currants characterize a piquant bouquet that opens to hints of briers, brambles and loam. Bright acidity cuts a swath on the palate, animating a lithe and spare texture that delivers pert flavors of cherries and blueberries wrapped around a core of lavender, white pepper and dusty graphite. The entire effect is dry but juicy, engaging and downright tasty, and a terrific match with the pizza. 14 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2020 or ’21. Excellent. About $20.

Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York. A sample for review.

The weather in the United States of America has been extremely contradictory over the month of March. I mean the real weather, not politics! Well, politics, too, of course! But back to the climate and the reams of ice and snow that have assailed the Northeast and Atlantic Seaboard and the wind and rain that have battered the West Coast, and even in our neck o’ the woods, in what’s called the Mid-South, we have seen erratic temperature extremes and lots of precipitation. And Spring came around just two days ago! To lift your spirits, if such is possible, I offer 12 light-hearted and delicious wines in this edition of Weekend Wine Notes, issued a day early. We’re pretty damned eclectic here, with two rosé wines, a precise and vividly etched red that would fare well with picnic food, and nine whites. We touch Arizona, California, Oregon, Germany, Australia and Chile and a variety of grape types. As usual, in these Weekend Wine Notes, I avoid technical, geographical and personnel data for the sake of quick and incisive reviews ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebooks. Find the wines; drink up; be refreshed and emboldened to survive the countdown to April. Enjoy … in moderation, of course.

These wines were either samples for review or local purchases; one was tasted at a wholesaler trade event. Do you care? Of course not, but the Federal Trade Commission does. Image from WTOP.com.
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Aridus Wine Company Rosé 2016, Arizona. 13.3% alc. 68% mourvedre, 32% grenache. Bright copper-salmon hue; macerated red currants and strawberries; orange rind and tomato skin, with a touch of melon; very dry and stony/minerally but ripe red berry flavors and zinging acidity keep lively and appealing; a little florid, with a dusty aftermath. Excellent. About $30.
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Calcu Reserva Especial Rosé 2017, Colchagua Valley, Chile. 12% alc. 90% malbec, 10% petit verdot. Very pale coral-pink; notes of peach and tangerine, lime peel and macerated raspberries; talc, herbes de Provence and cut grain; damp roof tiles; quite crisp and dry, with a dusty flint finish. Lovely taut yet seductive character. Excellent. About $13, a Raving Great Bargain.
Global Vineyard Imports, Berkeley, Calif.
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Fetzer Shaly Loam Gewurztraminer 2016, Monterey. 12% alc. Radiant medium straw-gold color; hints of lychee, peach and rose petal, slightly honeyed apricot, all melded on the tongue with a touch of spritz and integrated medium sweetness; lively, golden, moderately lush texture cut by lithe acidity; seashell delicacy to the limestone and flint minerality; not much transition mid-palate, leading to a dry, bracing grapefruit finish. Very Good+. About $11, representing Good Value.
The winery celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
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Fields Family Wines Delu Vineyards Grenache Blanc 2016, Alta Mesa, Lodi. 13.5% alc. Fewer than 65 cases. Very pale gold; lemon balm and heather, baked pears, acacia and dusty Mediterranean herbs; sleek, suave and elegant and quite dry; animated by lip-smacking acidity and a burgeoning limestone element; a few minutes in the glass bring in subtle notes of cloves and nutmeg and an ethereal leafy quality; exquisitely framed and structured. Excellent. About $24, and definitely Worth a Search.
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Four Graces Pinot Gris 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. NA% alc. My first note on this wine is “Wow, the best!” Limpid, pale straw-gold; roasted lemon and lemon balm, freshly cut green apple and grapefruit; winsome hints of jasmine and camellia; taut acidity and scintillating limestone provide superb structure for stone fruit flavors lightly touched by lime and tangerine; slightly earthy bit of green tea and lemongrass; a glittering faceted finish. Current release is the 2016, but look for this nicely burnished version from ’15. Now through 2019 or ’20. Excellent. About $24.
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Geil Bechtheimer Scheurebe Kabinett 2015, Rheinhessen, Germany. 9.5% alc. Very pale gold hue; an ethereal and breezy white wine, delicate notes of peaches, pears and quince with damp gravel in the background; a slightly sweet entry balanced by scintillating acidity and limestone minerality; fresh with pink grapefruit, slightly earthy with heather, crystalline as the tinkling of wind chimes. Don’t overthink this one; just enjoy. Very Good+. About $15.
A Terry Theise Estate Selection for Skurnik Wines.
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Grochau Cellars Melon d’Bourgogne 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 13% alc. 175 cases. Melon de Bourgogne is the grape of the Loire Valley’s Muscadet region. Medium straw-gold color; golden-yellow fruit and flowers: peach, pear and roasted lemon; jasmine and honeysuckle, heather and its blossom; a touch of bee’s-wax and lanolin, but all quite spare, fleet and elegant; ripping acidity plows a furrow; the limestone and flint minerality build toward the chiseled finish. Drink through the end of this year. Current release is the 2016. Excellent. About $18, and Worth a Search.
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Hewitson “Gun Metal” Riesling 2017, Eden Valley, Australia. 12.5% alc. Light gold hue with faint green highlights; peach, pear and lychee, with a deepening focus on spice and herbal notes as well as layers of flint and talc; with a few minutes in the glass, a whiff of petrol and an intense aura of lime peel; terrific varietal purity and concentration, vibrancy and resonance; musky and leafy, iodine and steel. Now through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $20.
Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York.
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Hess Select Pinot Gris 2017, California. 14% alc. Pale straw-gold; fresh, clean and bright, with notes of spiced pear and roasted lemon, almond blossom, boxwood and dried thyme; after a few minutes, touches of quince and preserved lemon; a pleasing round and lively texture with an undertow of limestone. Very Good+. About $13, marking Good Value.
The inaugural release of this wine.
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Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling 2016, Eden Valley, Australia. 12.5% alc. Very pale gold hue; penetrating aromas of green apple and lime peel, lychee and flint with a whiff of petrol; intense notes of jasmine, lilac and talc; quite dry, with piercing acidity and a chiseled structure of limestone and seashells, finishing with lively elements of grapefruit and poached pears; wonderful tone and presence. Excellent. About $18.
Imported by Negociants USA.
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Rainstorm Wines Pinot Gris 2016, Oregon. 13% alc. Light hue of tarnished greeny-gold; peach and pear with hints of lychee and apricot nectar; notes of celery leaf and dried thyme with an undercurrent of boxwood and dried rosemary; a strain of some astringent little white flower; a spare yet charming interpretation of the grape that benefits from the liveliness of bright acidity and a crystalline limestone finish. Very Good+. About $16.
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Two Shepherds Trimble Vineyard Carignan 2015, Mendocino. 12.5% alc. 125 cases. Lovely transparent cerise hue; an ethereally earthy wine that’s light on its feet but firmly structured; raspberry and lilac, beetroot and cigarette paper, briers and brambles; a bracing touch of iodine, notes of cranberry and melon; exquisite balance among fruit, acid and a lithe, quartz-like mineral quality; very refreshing and perfect for a picnic or patio luncheon. Excellent. About $28.
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The range of these cabernet sauvignon wines starts with geography; we touch Napa and Sonoma in California, Clare Valley and Coonawarra in Australia, and Chile’s Maipo Valley. The deployment of the cabernet grape ranges from a 3/4 majority to 100 percent. Prices range from $20 to $140 and ratings from Very Good+ to Exceptional, implying that at least in those directions there’s something here for everyone who likes the grape. The vintages are 2013, ’14 and ’15. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the details of technical, geological, historical and personnel matters for the sake of incisive reviews ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebooks and designed to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy … always in sensible moderation.

With one exception, these wines were samples for review.
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Burgess Cellars Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley. 14.7% alc. 75% cabernet sauvignon, 12% merlot, 11% petit verdot, 2% malbec. Very dark ruby hue, shading to a lighter rim; expanding notes of smoke, tobacco and iodine, briers and brambles, opening to hints of black currant, raspberry and raspberry leaf; dense, velvety, graphite-infused tannins coat the palate; a few moments in the glass bring in touches of cedar and dried rosemary; tightly wound black and red fruit flavors sing to a tune of vibrant acidity and the concluding resonance of granitic minerality. Classic Napa Valley. Try 2019/20 through 2028/30. Excellent. About $60.
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Cornerstone Cellars “Benchlands” Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley. 15.2% alc. Dark ruby-magenta with a transparent rim; iodine and iron, flint, lavender and licorice; very intense and concentrated black fruit, with deep, velvety heft and an immense presence of graphite and dusty tannins; lots of grip and traction across the palate, and bountiful ripeness from the alcohol, but while large-framed it’s essentially balanced and dynamic. Try from 2020 or ’21 through 2030 to ’34. Excellent. About $65.
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Gundlach Bundschu Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Sonoma Valley. 14.8% alc. 87% cabernet sauvignon, 8% petit verdot, 3% merlot, 1% each malbec and cabernet franc. Dark ruby hue from stem to stern; beautifully balanced and integrated, every element in place; ripe and spicy black currants and cherries, hints of lavender, licorice and baking spices; flint and graphite minerality and dusty, cushiony tannins dominate from mid-palate back through the lithe, supple finish. Now through 2022 to ’24. Excellent. About $50.
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Jim Barry “The Cover Drive” Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Coonawarra, Australia. 13.5% alc. Deep, dark ruby color shifting to a magenta-garnet rim; mint, iodine and bay leaf; intense and concentrated black currant and blueberry fruit yet generous and approachable; real presence of flint and graphite minerality and penetrating yet velveteen tannins; pulsing acidity for liveliness and allure; expanding core of licorice, lavender and bittersweet chocolate. Amazing personality, character and value for the price. Now through 2020 to’21. A personal favorite; buy it by the case. Excellent. About $20, a local purchase. A Real Bargain.
Negociants USA, Napa, Calif.
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Kunde Family Winery “Drummond” Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Sonoma Valley. 14.5% alc. Opaque black-ruby with a slightly lighter rim; an intense and concentrated bouquet, displaying notes of cedar, tobacco and dried rosemary, black currants, cherries and plums, all infused with flint and graphite, lavender and licorice; sleek and lithe, supple and chiseled on the palate, energized by lip-smacking acidity and tannins both stern and cushiony; ripe and fleshy black fruit flavors, plush and velvety texture, yet large-framed, packed with dusty granitic minerality leading to a fairly austere finish. No mistaking this for anything other than a California cabernet sauvignon. Now through 2025 to ’27. Excellent. About $50.
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Olema Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Sonoma County. 14.5% alc. With 3% petite sirah. Opaque ruby-garnet shading to a magenta rim; smoke, flint, bittersweet chocolate; intense and concentrated black cherry and currant scents and flavors; notes of blueberries and espresso; just a hint of mint, cedar and rosemary over briery-brambly elements; sleek dusty tannin for structure. Drink through 2020 or ’21. Excellent. About $22.50, representing Good Value.
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Penalolen Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Maipo Valley, Chile. 14% alc. Predominantly cabernet sauvignon, with merlot and cabernet franc. Lovely medium transparent ruby hue with a flush of garnet; winsome aromas of mint, eucalyptus, bell pepper; black cherry and raspberry; cedar, lilac and lavender; sleek, lithe texture and a moderately tannic structure animated by clean acidity; black fruit flavors reveal a ripe, spicy nature opening to meadowy earthiness. Now through 2020 or ’21. Why don’t I see this charming and satisfying wine in by-the-glass programs? Very Good+. About $20.
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Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley. 13.9% alc. 85% cabernet sauvignon, 8% cabernet franc, 7% merlot. Dark ruby-magenta hue; smoke, loam, old leather; red currants and raspberries, touch of dark plum; real heft and traction on the palate, powerful forward energy propelled by bright acidity; huge depth of graphite minerality with layers of underbrush and spare woodsy floral and herbal elements; monumental tannins softened by their paradoxically elegant texture; the intensity and concentration continue through the boldly mineral-laced finish. Wonderful purity and integrity. Try 2019 or ’20 through 2028 to ’30. Excellent. About $52.
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Wakefield St. Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Clare Valley, Australia. 14.5% alc. Dark ruby shading to a transparent rim; mint, cedar and rosemary, with a hint of the latter’s slightly astringent woody quality; spiced and macerated black and red cherries and raspberries; dense, chewy, gritty tannins, like heaps of velvet infused with iron filings; dusty, smoky, woodsy; very dry, lithe and sleek, allowing some semblance of deep black and red fruit to emerge; a long austere, mineral-packed finish. 2019 or ’20 through 2028 to ’30. Excellent. About $60.
Seaview Imports, Port Washington, N.Y.
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Wakefield “The Visionary” Exceptional Parcel Release Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Clare Valley, Australia. 14% alc. Even bigger, larger-framed and structured, deeper in every aspect than its excellent and (relatively) less expensive “St. Andrews” stablemate. Medium ruby color; immediate impression of pure mint, iodine, graphite and espresso; a finely honed and hewed cabernet, sleek and chiseled, with tremendous heft and presence without being overbearing; deeply spiced and slightly roasted black currants and cherries with a hint of blueberry; saturated with powerful grainy tannins and a supple oak overlay; all devolving to a monumental finish of granitic proportions. Try from 2020 through 2030 to ’35. Exceptional potential. About $140.
Seaview Imports, Port Washington, N.Y.
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Here’s a lovely riesling for the Christmas goose. The Wakefield “St. Andrews” Riesling 2016, hails from Australia’s Clare Valley, a superb region for the grape. The color is very pale straw-gold; seeing no oak, it’s a wine of crystalline clarity and structure, tremendously vibrant and present on the palate; aromas of green apple, lychee and pear are infused with pungent notes of petrol — or call it rubber eraser — and lime peel, with an undertone of ripe mango; quickly, a seam of limestone and flint emerges in the mouth to provide a scintillating factor, which, added to the wine’s bright acidity, provides wonderful refreshment and tone. The flavor profile balances citrus with stone-fruit elements that surge toward a vibrant, mineral-packed finish. 12.7 percent alcohol. Wholly satisfying now, but suitable for drinking as it matures through, say, 2026 to ’30, properly stored. Excellent. About $40.

Seaview Imports, New York. A sample for review.

So, today I offer 10 red wines worthy of your attention and use with the hearty fare we prepare during cooler weather, if this country ever gets cooler weather. We’re running 10 to 15 degrees above normal in this neck o’ the woods. Anyway, these wines represent California; Italy’s Piedmont region; Australia’s McLaren Vale; and three sections of Spain, all featuring the tempranillo grape. The grapes and blends of grapes involved are equally diverse. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the technical, geographical and historical I tend to dote upon for the sake of quick and incisive reviews designed to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy, in moderation, of course. These wines were samples for review.
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Angeline Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir 2015, Mendocino County 80%, Sonoma County 20%.13.9% alc. Transparent angelinemedium ruby shading to an ethereal rim; rose petals and sandalwood, pomegranate and cranberry, a hint of loam that expands to form a foundation for the whole enterprise; satiny and supple but nicely sanded and burnished by mild graphite-tinged tannins; a few minutes in the glass being in notes of wood smoke, red cherry and raspberry; grows quite dense and chewy, almost succulent but riven by straight-arrow acidity that cuts a swath on the palate; builds in power and structure. Now through 2018 or ’19. You could sell the hell out of this pinot noir in restaurant and bar wine-by-the-glass programs. Excellent. About $18, representing Great Value.
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Bonny Doon A Proper Claret 2014, California. 13.2% alc. 36% cabernet sauvignon, 22% petit verdot, 22% tannat, 9% syrah, 7% merlot, 3% cabernet franc, 1% petite sirah. The point of Bonny Doon’s A Proper Claret is that it is not a proper claret at all, not with the inclusion of tannat, syrah and petite sirah. Ho-ho. Medium ruby with a transparent magenta rim; untamed and exotic, with notes of dried berries, baking spices and flowers; opens to black fruit scents and flavors with a tinge of red fruit; firm, moderately dense, supported by plenty of dusty graphite-laden tannins and bright acidity; needs a steak or leg of lamb. Very Good+. About $16.
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Chronic Cellars Purple Paradise 2014, Paso Robles. 14.5% alc. 77% zinfandel, 14% syrah, 8% petite sirah, 1% grenache. Medium ruby hue; a feral and flinty flurry of black currants, mulberries and plums; a hint of blueberry, with cedar and mint; warm and spicy with notes of cloves and sandalwood; a high, wild baked berry tone; very dry, quite dense and chewy, firm sinewy structure packed with dusty tannins and lively acidity. Now through 2018. Very Good+. About $15.
As you can see, the label is appropriate for Halloween parties.
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Viña Eguía Tempranillo 2013, Rioja, Spain. 13.5% alc. 100% tempranillo. Medium ruby hue shading to a delicate mulberry rim; violets and rose petals, blueberries and red currants, leather and smoke; an exotic dusting of cloves, sandalwood and allspice, with a hint of the latter’s woody, slightly astringent quality; though moderate in tannins, this gains weight and heft as the minutes pass, picking up a fleshy, meaty character to the macerated and baked dark fruit flavors; animated by brisk acidity. Terrific character for the price. Now through 2018. Very Good+. About $14, marking Excellent Value.
Imported by Quintessential Wines, Napa, Calif.
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Bodegas Fariña Dama de Toro Tempranillo 2014, Toro, Spain. 13.5% alc. With 5% garnacha. Medium ruby-mulberry color; loam, dust, graphite, mint, iodine; hints of red and black currants and blueberries, permeated by dried spices and flowers; very dense, dry, smoky, chewy; smacky tannins coat the palate. What it lacks in charm it makes by for in inchoate power and dynamism. Try 2018 to ’20 with pork shoulder roast slathered in salsa verde or grilled pork chops with a cumin-chili powder rub. Very Good+. About $15.
Imported by Quintessential Wines, Napa, Calif.
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Marchesi di Gresy Barbera d’Asti 2014, Piedmont, Italy. 13% alc. 100% barbera grapes. Medium ruby-violet hue; an attractive bouquet of potpourri, dried baking spices and dried currants; hints of cedar, tobacco and lead pencil; clean and spare with plenty of acid cut for liveliness and lip-smacking tannins; pulls up elements of black cherries, mulberries and plums, all slightly spiced and macerated, and touches of cherry pit and skin; the finish is packed with earthy tannins and graphite minerality. Now through 2019 to ’22 with salumi, red meat pizzas and pasta dishes — especially pappardelle with rabbit — or aged hard cheeses. Excellent. About $18.
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Peachy Canyon Incredible Red Zinfandel 2014, California. 14.5% alc. With 2% petite sirah. Dark ruby shading lighter to an invisible rim; notes of spicy and slightly roasted black currants, cherries and plums, a strain of wild berry and white pepper and hints of wood smoke, ground cardamom and cumin; rich on the palate but tempered by loamy and velvety tannins and clean acidity; an element of dusty graphite minerality dominates the finish. A well-made zinfandel for everyday drinking. Very Good+. About $14.
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Real Compañía de Vinos Tempranillo 2012, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain. 13.5% alc. 100% tempranillo. Vibrant inky purple; a very deep, dark, warm, spicy loamy tempranillo with staggering, mineral and graphite-laced tannins that don’t prevent a hint of floral-inflected black currant and plum fruit and touches of heather, cedar and black olive from emerging from the ebon depths; there is, in fact, surprising elegance and finesse at play in the balance between structure, acid, fruit and oak elements. Drink now through 2018 or ’19. Very Good+. About — I’m not kidding — $12, a Remarkable Value.
Imported by Quintessential Wines, Napa, Calif.
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Robert Oatley GSM 2014, McLaren Vale, Australia. 13.5% alc. 48% grenache, 47% syrah, 5% oatleymourvèdre. Dark ruby with a lighter magenta rim; ripe and spicy notes of roasted plums and currants, with traces of red licorice and leather, briers and brambles; a few moments in the glass bring in alluring touches of allspice and sandalwood, dried sage and rosemary; dry, dusty and slightly austere tannins serve as foundation for lithe, supple black and red fruit flavors boosted by fleet acidity and graphite minerality. For all its structure, the wine is juicy, seductive and tasty. Drink now through 2018 or ’19. Excellent. About $20.
Imported by Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits, Greensboro, N.C.
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Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery Red4 2013, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County. 14.9% alc. 41% petite sirah, 40% syrah, 10% mourvèdre, 9% grenache. Dark ruby-magenta color; redolent of macerated and slightly baked mixed berries, cloves and iodine, espresso, wood smoke and roasted fennel — heady stuff indeed; a lightly resistant dusty, velvety texture bolstered by persistent tannins packed with graphite and loam; a long expressive finish. A lot going on here for the price. Drink now through 2018. Excellent. About $17.
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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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Inexorably we drift from Spring into Summer, so in honor of this transitional state I offer a dozen savory, zesty white wines. The grapes range from the familiar — sauvignon blanc, riesling — to the unfamiliar and exotic — grillo, gouveio, while the geography takes us all over the place. Prices rise from about $12 to $28, giving space for some real bargains and great values. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew all technical, historical, geological and personal data — as interesting as those items may be — for the sake of quick and incisive reviews, ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebook, and designed to pique your interest and whet your palate. Unless otherwise noted, these wines were samples for review. Enjoy!
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Alois Lagerder Haberle Pinot Blanc 2013, Südtirol Alto Adige, Italy. 13% alc. Production was 1,125 cases. Very pale straw hue; ripe, spice, macerated and lightly roasted stone-fruit with a halo of white flowers; notes of dried thyme and fennel; lithe and supple texture, offering vivid acid cut and limestone dimensions of structure; very dry but juicy with peach, pear and yellow plum flavors; real personality and character. Now through 2017 or ’18. Excellent. About $23.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
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erste-neue
Erste + Neue Pinot Grigio 2015, Alto-Adige. 14% alc. Pale gold color; very appealing, with notes of green apple, pear and lemon balm, heather and meadow grass; heady and floral; lovely silken texture; quite dry, with pert acidity and shimmering limestone minerality; nothing complicated, just altogether irresistible. Now through 2017. Very Good+. About $16.
Imported by T Edward Wines, New York.
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assobio
Esporao Assobio 2014, Douro, Portugal. 13% alc. 40% viosinho grapes, 30% gouveio, 20% verdelho, 10% arinto. Pale straw color; pear and acacia, heather and thyme; a bracing aura of sea-breeze and salt-marsh; very dry, with pert acidity, layers of damp flint and shale minerality; an exotic spicy-herbal flare; lean and supple. Now through 2017 to ’18. Very Good+. About $14, marking Great Value.
Imported by Aidil Wines, New York.
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semillon
Esporao Private Selection Semillon 2013, Alentejano, Portugal. 14% alc. Medium gold hue; elevating aromas of quince and ginger, spiced pear, lemon oil and orange rind; slightly honeyed in aspect but quite dry and spare; a fragile infusion of tropical fruit and flowers with a hint of fig; lovely silky texture, moderately lush but honed by limestone. Now through 2018. Excellent. About $28.
Impoted by Aidil Wines, New York.
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Gewurz
Lazy Creek Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2014, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County. 14.2% alc. Production was, alas, only 65 cases. Pale straw color; classic notes of lychee, pear, jasmine and rubber eraser, with hints of cloves and ginger; lithe texture, with crystalline clarity, acidity and limestone drive, great vibrancy and appeal; the limestone-flint minerality builds through the dynamic finish; grapefruit finish with a touch of bracing bitterness. A terrific example of the grape. Now through 2019 or ’20. Excellent. About $22.
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Matetic EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Casablanca Valley, Chile. 13.5% alc. Pale straw color; Matetic EQ Coastal SB 14 Ftgrapefruit, lilac, greengage; celery seed and fennel with back-notes of lime peel, quince and ginger; crisp and lively, with riveting acidity and a plangent limestone element; a lithe, almost sinewy texture with depths of fruit, spice and minerality bolstering a scintillating, transparent finish. Now through 2017. Excellent. About $20.
Imported by Quintessential, Napa Calif. The label image is one vintage behind.
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Chateau Puyanché Franc 2014, Cote de Bordeaux Blanc. 75% sauvignon blanc, 25% semillon. Pale straw-gold hue; assertive notes of dill and celery seed, caraway and lime peel, with pink grapefruit and ethereal back-notes of melon and apple skin; just a lovely wine in every way: slightly powdery texture, stone-fruit and citrus scents and flavors, bright acidity and limestone minerality; sleek, chiseled finish. Now through 2018. Excellent. About $15, a Real Bargain.
Imported by Twins America. Tasted at a wholesaler’s trade event.
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plotzner
St. Pauls Plotzner Weissburgunder 2015, Südtirol Alto Adige. 13.5% alc. Very pale straw color; spice pear and roasted lemon, hay and autumn meadows, chalk and flint; a little earthy, as if its toes were still in the vineyard; clean and incisive acidity and chiseled limestone minerality. An exhilarating pinot blanc for drinking through 2019 to ’20. Excellent. About $20.
Importer N/A.
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Tascate Buonora 2014, Sicilia. 12% alc. 100% carricante grapes. Pale straw-gold hue; a rich, Stampagolden wine, with spiced pears and yellow plums, sage and thyme, green tea, quince and acacia; scintillating limestone and flint minerality; sea-salt and meadow; spicy and savory. A great deal of charm. Now through 2017. Very Good+. About $20.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
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blanc
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. Pale straw-gold hue; peach, pear and quince, bee’s-wax, dried thyme and sage; apple skin and pear nectar; lilac and acacia; yellow plums and a bare hint of mango; all these elements inextricably encompassed in a package that feels irrevocably vital, vibrant, real, bound to the earth yet ethereally delicate and delicious. An extraordinary wine. Exceptional. About $30.
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grillo
Vento di Mare Grillo 2014, Terre Siciliana IGT. 12.5% alc. Made from organic grillo grapes. Pale straw-gold hue; savory and saline, with yellow plum and roasted lemon scents and flavors, notes of heather, dried thyme and sea-grass, clean-cut acidity and limestone minerality and a chalk-flinty element that increases through the herb-and-spice laden finish. Drink up. Very Good+. About $12, an Amazing Bargain.
Imported by Middleton Family Wines, Shandon, Calif.
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wakefield riesling
Wakefield Riesling 2015, Clare Valley, Australia. 12% alc. Pale straw gold color; peach and pear, lychee and jasmine, with a hint of zesty grapefruit and its pith; very dry, with a burgeoning limestone and chalk element, all wrapped in delightful vitality. Now through 2017. Very Good+. About $17.
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