Portugal


Oh, sure, you’re thinking, “Hey, F.K., this is America! We drink beer when we watch the Super Bowl!” All right, I understand the issues involved, but even when you’re talking about barbecue nachos, baby-back ribs, Sloppy Joes, prime rib sliders, even certain varieties of chili and quesadillas, a large-framed, robust wine can be as appropriate as beer, though, I confess, not with super-spicy food laced with serranos and such. Anyway, following that premise, I offer nine examples of the sorts of wine you could serve this Sunday while watching two teams neither of which apparently deserve to be there contending on the gridiron of valor. Prices range from a comfortable $14 and $18, good for supplying bottles to crowds of football fans, up to $60. As usual with these Weekend Wine Notes I deliver no elements of technical, geographical or historical data for the sake of quick, incisive reviews designed to pique your interest and whet your palate. The regional spectrum is wide: Lake County and Paso Robles in California; Washington state; Argentina; France Rhône Valley; Portugal’s Douro Valley; and in Italy, the Northeast, Tuscany and the Bootheel. Enjoy! (In moderation, of course.)

These wines were samples for review.
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Ancient Peaks Winery Santa Margarita Ranch Zinfandel 2016, Paso Robles, California. 15.5% alc. A big-hearted, two-fisted, high-alcohol zinfandel that manages to avoid the disadvantages of most 15+% zins; it’s not sweet, over-ripe, cloying or hot. Steady black-purple hue; luscious and spicy blackberry and blueberry scents and flavors, permeated by touches of fruitcake and plum pudding, violets, lilac and iodine; a swelling structure of dusty bacon-wrapped tannins and bracing acidity keep the whole package honest, while allowing pleasing qualities of loam, boysenberry and graphite to define the finish. Now through 2021 to ’23. Certified by SIP: Sustainability in Practice. Excellent. About $20, marking Good Value.
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Cadaretta Southwind Syrah 2015, Walla Walla Valley, Washington. 14.9% alc. Opaque black-ruby with a glowing purple rim; large-framed, dense and chewy; loam and black pepper, briers and brambles, ink and underbrush; drenched with lavender, licorice and graphite, deeply spiced and macerated blackberry, blueberry and plum scents and flavors, tinged with bay and thyme; quite dry, a big wine but not overwhelming; the oak is a subtle, shaping presence. Now through 2023 to ’25. Excellent. About $60.
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Enzo Bianchi 2015, San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina. 15.2% alc. 50% each cabernet sauvignon and malbec. Opaque ebony color with a vivid violet rim; ink, iodine and graphite; spiced and macerated black currants and blueberries opening to notes of mint, cedar and smoke; a dense, chewy, loamy, vital red blend sustained by stalwart dusty tannins and vibrant acidity while managing to stay light on its feet, almost elegant. Always one of my favorite Argentine red wines. Now through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $55.
Quintessential, Napa, Calif.
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Ferraton Pere et Fils “Plan de Dieu” 2017, Côtes du Rhône Villages, France. 14% alc. Grenache, syrah, mourvedre, carignan. Dark ruby color shading to a bright magenta rim; a melange of plums, currants and blueberries wrapped in lavender, licorice and violets; substantial and savory, notes of dry meadow herbs; underbrush, hints of tar and loam riven by keen acidity for a lively presentation with surprising character for the price. Now through 2021 or ’22. Excellent. About $18, representing Good Value.
Sera Wine Imports, New York.
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Marco Felluga Russiz Superiore Cabernet Franc 2015, Collio, Italy. 13.5% alc. Dark purple-magenta color with a glowing violet rim; ripe plums and blueberries, distinctive notes of leather and loam; smoke and iodine, hint of plum preserves; a deep well of graphite minerality bolsters an unexpectedly seductive silken texture, though the overall impression is of power and energy on the palate. Now through 2020 or ’22. Excellent. About $28.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
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Masseria Li Veli “Orion” 2016, Salento, Italy. 14% alc. 100% primitivo grapes. Dark ruby hue shading to a transparent magenta rim; lots of personality and presence on the palate; deeply spiced plums and currants, fairly briery and brambly, with foresty elements and loam; clean-cut acidity and flint-like minerality make an incisive impression. Now through 2020 or ’21. Very Good+. About $14, representing Good Value.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
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Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino 2016, Toscana, Italy. 14% alc. 100% sangiovese. Lovely medium ruby hue; classic notes of dried cherries and raspberries, black tea, cloves and orange rind; vigorous acidity pushes through sturdy tannins to a finish lashed by graphite minerality; quite dry, a little austere, and layered with spare notes of red berry flavors. Now through 2021 to ’23. Excellent. About $27.
Terlato Wines International, Lake Bluff, Ill.
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Post Scriptum de Chryseia 2016, Douro Valley, Portugal. 13.5% alc. A blend of typical red grapes of the region. Dark ruby with a thin ephemeral rim; a compote of ripe, fleshy black and red plums and raspberries, replete with a spectrum of woody spices and forest floor elements; very gratifying structure balances dusty, velvety tannins, burnished oak and lips-smacking acidity for a full-hearted, robust package. Now through 2021 or ’22. Excellent. About $27.
Premium Port Wines, San Francisco.
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Two Angels Petite Sirah 2016, Red Hills, Lake County, California. 14.3% alc. Deep dark black purple with a thermonuclear violet rim; ripe spicy and macerated black currants, cherries and plums; hints of leather, licorice and bittersweet chocolate with a back-note of vanilla from the oak; wiry tannins and a lithe, silken texture enlivened by bracing acidity leading to a slightly austere, iron-flecked finish. A superior petite sirah. Now through 2021 to ’23. Excellent. About $27.
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The title of this post needs no elaboration, but I’ll inform you that prices range from $7.50 to $20. It’s a diverse group of wines. Seven from France; 6 California; 5 Italy; 2 each Argentina, Australia, Chile and Oregon; 1 each Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal and South Africa. (Welcome, Bulgaria!) By genre or hue: 1 sparkling wine; 3 rosé; 10 red and 16 white. As a matter of fact, the 30 wines on this roster would make a great restaurant wine list. So, enjoy! In moderation, of course.

With one exception, these wines were samples for review.
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Albert Bichot Bourgogne Aligoté 2015, Burgundy, France. Excellent. About $16.
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Amalaya Malbec 2016, Salta, Mendoza, Argentina. With 10 percent tannat, 5 petit verdot. Excellent. About $16.
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Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato White Blend 2016, Mendoza, Argentina. 50 percent chardonnay, 35 pinot gris, 15 sauvignon blanc. Excellent. About $18.
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Domaine Boyar Traminer 2016, Thracian Valley, Bulgaria. Very Good+. About $11.
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Calcu Reserva Especial Rosé 2017, Colchagua Valley, Chile. 90 percent malbec, 10 percent petit verdot. Excellent. About $13.
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Canevel Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene de Cartizze, nv, Veneto, Italy. Excellent. About $18.

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CK Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc 2017, California. Very Good+. About $7.
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Fossil Point Pinot Noir 2016, Edna Valley, California. Excellent. About $20.

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Garofoli Macrina 2017, Le Marche, Italy. 100 percent verdicchio. Excellent. About $14.
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Grochau Cellars Melon d’Bourgogne 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 175 cases. Excellent. About $18.
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Heinz Eifel Riesling Kabinett 2017, Mosel, Germany. Very Good+. About $12.

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Inama Vin Soave 2017, Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy. Excellent. About $15.
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Jim Barry “The Cover Drive” Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Coonawarra, Australia. Excellent. About $20.

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Justin Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Central Coast, California. Excellent. About $16.
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Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015, Bordeaux blanc, France. 60 percent sauvignon blanc, 40 percent semillon. Excellent. About $14.
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Domaine Lafond Roc-Épine 2017, Tavel, France. Excellent. About $19.
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The Larsen Projekt Grenache Rosé 2016, North Coast, California. Excellent. About $18.

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Left Coast Cellars “The Orchard” Pinot Gris 2016, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Excellent. About $18.
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Marchesi di Gresy Monte Aribaldo 2016, Dolcetto d’Alba, Italy. Excellent. About $18.

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Monte da Pecequina 2015, Alentejo, Portugal. 25 percent touriga nacional, 23 percent syrah, 22 aragonez, 20 alicante bouschet, 10 cabernet sauvignon. Excellent. About $19.
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Paul Blanck Pinot Blanc 2016, Alsace, France. Excellent. About $16.
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Paul Jaboulet Aîné Le Paradou 2015, Beaume-de-Venise, France. 75 percent grenache, 25 percent syrah. Excellent. About $16.
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Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling 2016, Eden Valley, Australia. Excellent. About $18.
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Poliziano Lohsa 2015, Morellino di Scansano, Italy. 85 percent sangiovese, 15 percent ciliegiolo. Excellent. About $15.
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Romain Chamiot Apremont 2016, Vin de Savoie, France. 100 percent jacquere grapes. Excellent. About $18.
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Simonsig Chenin Blanc 2017, Stellenbosch, South Africa. Excellent. About $14.

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Steele Wines Pacini Vineyard Zinfandel 2015, Mendocino, California. Excellent. About $20.
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Veramonte Carmenere 2017, Colchagua Valley, Chile. Very Good+. About $11.
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Yves Guegniard Domaine de la Bergerie La Cerisaie 2016, Anjou, France. 80 percent cabernet franc, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon. Excellent. About $18.
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Zocker “Paragon Vineyard” Grüner Veltliner 2016, Edna Valley, California. Excellent. About $20.
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The “50 Great Wines of 2018” represent regions of France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Argentina and various AVAs in California, Oregon, Washington and New York, and, of course, a wide range of grape varieties and styles of wine. Prices range from a fabulously low $15 to a pretty high $140, with plenty bottles falling into the sweet spot between about $20 and $30; a great wine does not have to be expensive. These are wines that I not only admired but loved during my reviewing last year. The roster could have been expanded by 10 or 12 wines, but I like to stick to 50 — as I have for many years — because that number forces me to be analytical as well as emotional and totally subjective. For the first time in preparing this annual list, I include snippets of the original reviews to lend My Readers some clues as to why I doted on particular wines. No technical information is included. With one exception, these wines were samples for review.

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Barton Family Wines “Holiday” Clairette Blanche 2017, Willow Creek District, Paso Robles, California. 94 cases. Excellent. About $32.
“very dry, spare, elegant, yet vibrant with bright acidity …”
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Berryessa Gap Rosé 2017, Yolo County, California. Equal parts grenache, barbera and zinfandel. 225 cases. Exceptional. About $15.
“not just a great rosé but a great wine.”
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Black Kite Cellars “Stony Terrace” Pinot Noir 2014, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County. Exceptional. About $60.
“incredibly appealing and satisfying on the sensual level but gradually reveals depths of graphite, loam and forest floor …”
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Bonny Doon Vineyards Reserve Vin Gris de Cigare 2016, Central Coast, California. 50 percent grenache, 15 percent grenache blanc, 12 percent each cinsault and mourvedre, 8 carignane, 3 roussanne. 826 cases. Excellent. About $35.
“a savory, silken rosé, fresh as sun and rain …”
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Booker Pink 2017, Paso Robles, California. 92 percent grenache, 8 percent syrah. 250 cases. Excellent. About $30.
“unusual presence and resonance for a rosé. Don’t miss this one if you can get it.”
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Brovia Ciabot del Re Dolcetto d’Alba 2015, Piedmont, Italy. Excellent. About $40.
“I can’t think of a Dolcetto I have tried that was better than this one.”
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Burgess Cellars Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley, California. 75 percent cabernet sauvignon, 12 percent merlot, 11 petit verdot, 2 malbec. Excellent. About $60.
“Classic Napa Valley.”
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Champagne Bruno Paillard Grand Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, nv, France. 100 percent chardonnay. Excellent. About $70.
“… as steely and elegant, as refined and balletic as Champagne gets.”
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Domaine Carneros Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs 2012, Carneros, California. 100 percent chardonnay. Exceptional. About $115.
“A sparkling wine of impeccable class and sophistication.”
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Catena “La Consulta” Malbec 2015, Mendoza, Argentina. Exceptional. About $20.
“A superb example of the grape.”
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Churchill’s 30 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro, Portugal. Excellent. About $80.
“A lovely evocation of earth and elegance and a joy to drink.”
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Dashe Cellars Les Enfants Terribles Heart Arrow Ranch Zinfandel 2016, Eagle Peak, Mendocino, California. 491 cases. Excellent. About $28.
“… bright and fresh, with seductive, spice-infused black raspberry and cherry scents and flavors, but a glittering edge of graphite, too…”
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Day Wines Johan Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 450 cases. Exceptional. About $42.
“Amazing tone, shape and presence.”
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DeForville San Rocco Nebbiolo d’Alba 2014, Piedmont, Italy. Excellent. About $25.
“… fairly seethes with spare black fruit flavors that lead to a chiseled, faceted finish.”
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Donelan Family Wines “Nancie” Chardonnay 2014, Sonoma County, California. Exceptional. About $48.
“Rich? Oh, yes. Overdone, immodestly ripe and assertive? Certainly not. The balance, in fact, is risky and thrilling.”
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Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2012, Douro, Portugal. Excellent. About $24.
“A powerful expression of the LBV style.”
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Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California. 317 cases. Exceptional. About $72.
“Altogether, a remarkable marriage of power and elegance.”
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Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc 2015, St. Helena, Napa Valley, California. Excellent. About $65.
“A terrific Napa Valley interpretation of the grape.”
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Ehrhart Domaine Saint-Remy Hengst Grand Cru Riesling 2013, Alsace, France. Excellent. About $30.
“…sleek and suave, tremendous tone and presence but more spare and elegant than opulent.”
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The Farm Winery “Touchy-Feely” 2013, Adelaida District, Paso Robles. 80 percent grenache, 20 percent syrah. 241 cases. Excellent. About $60.
“… elegant and authoritative together, a silken texture emboldened by slightly sanded tannins and stirring acidity, all wrapped in a generous, chiseled, fine-spun granitic structure.”
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Chateau Faugeres 2012, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe, Bordeaux, France. 85 percent merlot, 10 percent cabernet franc, 5 cabernet sauvignon. Excellent. About $45.
“Beautifully made, and perfect for a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding.”
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Fields Family Wines Delu Vineyard Vermentino 2016, Alta Mesa, Lodi County, California. Fewer than 70 cases. Exceptional. About $21.
“A truly exquisite wine … scintillates with crystalline purity and intensity.”
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Forge Cellars “Les Allies” Dry Riesling 2015, Finger Lakes, New York. 262 cases. Excellent. About $28.
“… a potent riesling notable for clarity, crispness and depth.”
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Gamble Family Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Yountville, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $25.
“Always one of the best.”
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Grgich Hills Fume Blanc 2016, Napa Valley, California. 100 percent sauvignon blanc. Exceptional. About $31.
“… chiseled, faceted and crystalline with varietal purity and intensity and a feeling of connection to its vineyard, the sun and the wind.”
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Groth Vineyards and Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Oakville District, Napa Valley. 80 percent cabernet sauvignon, 20 percent merlot. Excellent. About $65.
“… a beautifully balanced and precise cabernet sauvignon that displays admirable equilibrium.”
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Halter Ranch Vineyard Grenache Blanc 2015, Adelaida District, Paso Robles, California. 80 percent grenache blanc, 14 percent picpoul, 4 roussanne, 2 viognier. Excellent. About $28.
“Well, this is just beautiful.”
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Highlands Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, California. 350 cases. Excellent. About $75.
“… remarkably fresh, exact, dynamic and compelling.”
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Schloss Johannisberger “Gelblack” Riesling Feinherb 2014, Rheingau, Germany. Excellent. About $25.
“… a lovely, golden, savory riesling, fresh and appealing…”
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Jordan Vineyard and Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Alexander Valley, California. 79 percent cabernet sauvignon, 13.7 percent merlot, 5.8 percent petit verdot, 1.2 percent malbec and 0.3 percent cabernet franc. Exceptional. About $56.
“… an intriguing marriage of power and elegance, finishing with faceted and chiseled granitic minerality.”
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Jordan Vineyard Chardonnay 2016, Russian River Valley, California. Exceptional. About $33.
“… a chardonnay of shimmering purity and intensity that satisfies on every level.”
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Kreck Wines Del Barba Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel 2016, Contra Costa County, California. 45 cases. Excellent. About $42.
“… a surprising elegant and lithe structure that it feels as if it emits a special lightness of being.”
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Lafond Winery and Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016, Sta. Rita Hills, California. Exceptional. About $27.
“… a dense and chewy pinot noir that delivers considerable presence and power on the palate and an uplift of bright acidity.”
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Champagne Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle Grand Cuvée, nv, France. 55 percent chardonnay, 45 percent pinot noir, seven years on the lees in bottle. Exceptional. About $140.
“… amazing presence on the palate, lovely, impressive, regal. ‘Grand,’ indeed.”
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Maryhill Proprietor’s Reserve Albariño 2017, Columbia Valley, Washington. 719 cases. Exceptional. About $20.
“… the finest albariño wine I have tasted… An extraordinary performance.”
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Pfendler Pinot Noir 2015, Sonoma Coast, California. 400 cases. Exceptional. About $45.
“… lovely, almost sensual weight and heft on the palate with an elegant and refined feeling of weightlessness.”
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Onward Wines Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, California. 139 cases. Exceptional. About $58.
“… combines the qualities of being elegant and ethereal with incisiveness and a definitely rigorous structure… Remarkable tone and presence.”
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Domaine Ostertag Muenchberg Riesling 2014, Alsace Grand Cru. Exceptional. About $42.
“… a golden wine that feels like liquid money on the tongue… A marvel of resonant personality and varietal character.”
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Ravenswood Old Hill Vineyard Zinfandel 2015, Sonoma Valley, California. 96.8 percent zinfandel, 3.2 percent mixed black grapes. 900 cases. About $60.
“… plenty of depth and dimension and a hint of an untamed quality, but the emphasis is on exquisitely poised proportion.”
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Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir 2013, Sonoma Coast, California. Exceptional About $25.
“My reaction … was, short of weeping, just to fall in love.”
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Roar Wines Rosella’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County, California. 449 cases. Excellent. About $60.
“… lovely purity and intensity, gaining dimension in the glass even as it offers ethereal elements of talc, violets and rose petals…”
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Sanford Pinot Noir 2014, Sta. Rita Hills, California. Exceptional. About $35.
“… feels as impeccable as anyone could ask for.”
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Domaine Savary Premier Cru Vaillon 2017, Chablis, France. Excellent. About $35.
“For all that focus on structure, however, the wine projects innate delicacy and elegance.”
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Scheid Vineyards Gruner Veltliner 2016, Monterey County. 133 cases, Excellent. About $24.
“A fabulously attractive texture feels almost powdery on the palate, yet it remains light, lissome and elegant.”
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Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery Chardonnay 2014, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California. 850 cases. Exceptional. About $34.
“… amazing purity and intensity … crystalline tone and chiseled presence.”
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Tres Sabores Rutherford Zinfandel 2014, Napa Valley. California. 500 cases. Exceptional. About $35.
“… a remarkable, incisive, decisive wine of impeccable presence, integrity and allure.”
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Troon Vineyard Kubli Bench Blanc 2017, Applegate Valley, Oregon. 52 percent marsanne, 48 percent viognier. Excellent. About $25.
“An extraordinary wine, sleek with personality and character.”
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Wrath Wines Alta Loma Vineyard Grenache 2015, Monterey County. 82 cases. Exceptional. About $39.
“… you feel as if you’re drinking the vineyard.”
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Wrath Wines Tondre Grapefield Pinot Noir 2015, Santa Lucia Highlands, California. 249 cases. Exceptional. About $49.
“… delivers gratifying depth and breadth in a package that feels wholly complete.”
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Yount Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $38.
“Just lovely.”
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Here’s a potion that will warm the cockles of your heart on these chilly eves. By the way, that old expression has nothing to do with “cockles and mussels, alive-alive oh,” but is a popular corruption of the Latin cochleae cordis, for the ventricles of the heart. Anyway, the Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2012 is a large-framed, robust and supple-silky port that goes down like liquid embers. A quick explanation. Vintage Port, the real, rare and expensive stuff, rests two or three years in wood and then is bottled in its fiery, tannic youth to develop and mature over decades of slumber. LBV ages as long as four to six years after harvest in barrel, so by the time it’s bottled, the wine has already matured to a drinkable state. LBVs are priced more reasonably that true Vintage Ports. Grapes for Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2012 derive from the Quinta do Bomfim and Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira vineyards that supply grapes for the Vintage Port from this venerable house, founded in 1798. This LBV 2012 offers a vivid dark ruby-magenta hue with a slightly softer rim; aromas of spiced and macerated plums and black currants burst from the glass in a welter of smoke, iodine and toasted almonds, licorice, lavender and flint. On the sweetness scale, this LBV ranks pretty low, its barely sweet entry segueing to a dry mid-palate and long, dry, dynamic finish. It’s dense and chewy yet, as I mentioned, quite supple and silky, founded on bastions of dusty, graphite-inflected tannins and lip-smacking acidity. A few minutes in the glass bring in notes of fruit cake, with an array of baking spices and dried fruit, with, at the bottom, a trace of bittersweet chocolate. 19.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2022 to ’24. Excellent. About $24.

Imported by Premium Port Wines, San Francisco. A sample for review.


Vintage Port, the long-lived fortified wine from Portugal’s Douro Valley, is a fairly specialized product whose sales, in the latter third of the 20th Century, declined. What to do with all those grapes, if not make them, as tradition dictated, into Port? A generation ago, the Port houses came up with a solution; take the same grape varieties that go into Port and make unfortified table wines. That trend became a tide, and now it’s a rare producer that does not feature a full line of table wines in its roster. Here’s a fine example for this Wine of the Day. The Quinta do Vallado Douro Red 2015 is a blend of 25 percent each touriga franca, touriga nacional and tinta roriz, with 5 percent sousao and then 20 percent mixed varieties from vineyards planted more than 80 years ago. The wine aged 16 months, 70 percent in stainless steel, 30 percent in third-and fourth-use French oak barriques. The color is dark ruby shading to an almost intangible magenta rim; the deftness of the winemaking delivered a wine that offers plenty of dimension on the palate with an appealing delicacy of detail, an agreeable combination of the robust and the refined. Scents and flavors of red and black currants and cherries are borne by smoky, spicy elements — cloves and sandalwood — in a welter of lavender, bittersweet chocolate, black tea and pinpoint graphite. Silky, dusty tannins and surging acidity carry these qualities through to a woodsy, deeply floral and mineral-driven finish. 13.5 percent alcohol. Drink through 2020 or ’21 with pork tenderloin, roasted leg of lamb or mature, hard cheeses. Excellent. About $23.

Imported by Quintessential, Napa Calif. A sample for review.

On Mother’s Day, I wrote about Champagne. For Father’s Day, the subject is Port. Who gets the better deal is up to you to decide, if such a decision is even necessary. Personally, I’ll take Champagne before dinner and Port after.

Port, made in Portugal’s Douro Valley, is a fortified wine, that is, fermentation is stopped with the addition of brandy or neutral grape spirits to the tanks or vats, leaving the wine with some (usually well-balanced) sweetness and an alcohol content of 19 or 20 percent. Young ports, especially fledgling vintage ports, can be powerful, fiery and tannic; old tawny ports lean toward mellow and ethereal. Port wines occur in many categories, some types fairly arcane, but the principle kinds are Ruby, Reserve, Late-Bottled Vintage, Vintage Port and Tawny. Ruby Ports are the youngest, the freshest and most fruity, typically aged in vats for two or three years. Reserve Ports are of higher quality and usually age a bit longer. Ruby and Reserve Ports are blends are several vineyards and vintages.

Vintage Ports are made only from grapes harvested in the same year and made only in the best vintages; the Port houses “declare” a vintage if it is good enough. These Ports age only about two years in vats and then are bottled, their fate to age in that bottle for 20, 30 or 40 years or more as they develop and gain maturity and eventually ease into gentle decline. While the production of Vintage Port is the smallest of the Port classifications, these are the wines that receive all the attention of the press and command high prices. Late-Bottled Vintage Port — usually abbreviated LBV — is designed to give consumers something like the Vintage Port experience but sooner. The point is that LVBs age in vat from four to six years, so they’re ready to drink when bottled.

Tawny Ports — my favorite category — age in oak casks for decades. The number of years stated on the label is an average; a 30-Year-Old Tawny Port may be a blend of ports that aged 10 to 50 years.

Some 30 grape varieties are allowed in Port, but realistically, the houses depend on five principal varieties: Tourga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinta Roriz (the Spanish tempranillo), Tinta Barroca and Tinta Cão. Each house blends these grapes in a fashion to suit its needs and particular style.

Today I offer six Ports for Father’s Day: two Reserves, one LBV and three Tawny Ports of 10, 20 and 30 years. No Vintage Porto; we want dear old Dad to enjoy his libation before he’s tottering in a walker.

Ports are traditionally served at the end of a meal with apples and pears, walnuts and aged cheeses, particularly Stilton and other cheddar cheeses. They can also be enjoyed with desserts like fruitcake or spice cake.

These products were samples for review.
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Warre’s Warrior Finest Reserve Porto. 20% alc. Deep ruby shading to a glowing magenta rim; very fresh and vibrant, with spiced and macerated plums and black cherries and penetrating elements of iodine and iron, highlighted by notes of cloves, allspice and cumin; sweetness on the entry tamed by vivid acidity and the passage across the palate to a finish that flares with blueberry tart and graphite. A superior Reserve Porto. Excellent. About $19, representing Fine Value.
Imported by Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, Ala.
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Graham’s River Quintas “Six Grapes” Reserve Port. 19.5% alc. Dense yet warm black-ruby with a transparent violet rim; blackberry jam and cassis, graphite and iodine, fruitcake, almond skin and bittersweet chocolate; intense and concentrated, with amazing presence and weight on the palate yet innate elegance and refinement; a dry, fiery, mineral-packed finish that extends to remarkable length. This one rated a “wow!” in my notebook for depth and dimension, personality and character. Now through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $42.
Premium Port Wines, San Francisco.
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Dow’s LBV Porto 2011. 20% alc. Dark purple with a transparent magenta rim; very intense and concentrated compote of blackberries and black cherries infused by cloves and allspice and a hint of bittersweet chocolate; ferrous, feral and sanguinary, dense and dusty; elements of new leather, loam and graphite. A powerful expression of the LBV style. Now through 2021 to ’24. Excellent. About $25.
Premium Port Wines, San Francisco.
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Warre’s “Otima 10” Ten Year Old Tawny Porto. 20% alc. A kind of russet, medium copper hue; fruitcake, walnuts and toasted almonds; woodsmoke and a hint of bitter chocolate; spice cake and toffee; sweet entry but dry from mid-palate back through the succulent finish animated by incisive acidity. Delicious. Excellent. About $30, for a 500-milliliter bottle.
Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, Ala.
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Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny Porto. 20% alc. Utterly transparent russet-pale copper hue, like faded apple skin; rich and autumnal; candied apple and blood orange, toffee and toasted almonds; old leather and lavender; reaches deep into the box of dried spices, especially cloves and sandalwood; quite vibrant and energetic, yet the finish is gentle and elegant. Excellent. About $65.
Premium Port Wines, San Francisco.
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Churchill’s 30 Year Old Tawny Port. 19.5% alc. Very pale and transparent amber-copper color; toffee, fruitcake, bittersweet chocolate; iodine and mint, plums and prunes; a line of dusty graphite; slumberous and autumnal, with smoke from burning leaves, peat; a touch of briers and brambles; sleek and supple, animated by vibrant acidity. A lovely evocation of earth and elegance and a joy to drink. Excellent. About $80.
Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York.
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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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That term — “red wine blends” — should produce some rolled eyes and deep sighs among a portion of my readers. After all, there’s nothing unusual about red wine blends. However, a few years ago, my colleagues in wine writing and I began receiving press releases from eager and enthusiastic marketers and PR people extolling the hot new trend of blended red wines, particularly from California, and what an innovation these wines were. Apparently these bright-eyed and rosy-cheeked young persons never heard of, for example, Bordeaux, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Port and Chianti (or old-fashioned Chianti). Nevertheless, secure in that knowledge, I’ll review today a trio of pretty damned unusual or at least interesting red wine blends from Portugal, Uruguay and California’s Sonoma County. Each is quite individual from the others.

These wines were samples for review, as I am required to inform my readers by fiat of the Federal Trade Commission.
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The Monte da Peceguina 2015 comes from the Portuguese region of Alentejo, where is was made by Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, a compound that includes a hotel, spa and restaurant as well as a winery. The sparsely populated region covers most of the lower third of Portugal; its chief asset and export is cork. Vinho Regional Alentejano, this wine’s category, is the designation for the entire region, VR being somewhat the equivalent of the French vin de pays. Monte da Peceguina 2015 is a blend of native grapes with several imports, none in the majority: 25 percent touriga nacional, 23 percent syrah, 22 percent aragonez, 20 percent alicante bouschet and 10 percent cabernet sauvignon; call it a sort of Portuguese-French hybrid. Information about oak aging is not available. Far from these divergent grapes uneasily co-existing, they came together to form a robust, vigorous whole greater than the sum of its parts. The color is intense dark ruby; it’s a ferrous and sanguinary wine that features ripe and fleshy black currants, blueberries and plums infused with cloves and sandalwood, mint and licorice, with a burgeoning tide of smoke and tar. A wallop of graphite bathes the palate ahead of dry dusty, gritty tannins and vibrant acidity; it’s a dark, brooding, pondering place in the black and blue fruit flavors slightly sympathetic to hints of lavender and violets that succumb to a dense, mineral-ridden finish. 14.5 percent alcohol. Try from 2019 through 2028 to ’30 with steaks, roasted goat and pork and game meats. Excellent. About $19.

Imported by Wine in Motion, Union, N.J.
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Bodegas Marichal was founded in 1938 and is now operated by the family’s third and fourth generation. The estate’s vineyards are located in the province of Canelones, 15 miles north of Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital. Though this wine offers the simplest blend of this trio, it’s also the most unusual. The Marichal Reserve Collection Pinot Noir/Tannat 2015 is a blend of — yes — 70 percent pinot noir and 30 percent tannat. Let’s think about this pairing. Pinot noir is often considered sacrosanct in its elegance and perfumed singularity, that is, a red grape so noble and highly characteristic that it is not to be blended with other grapes — unless producers in Burgundy surreptitiously pump up the color of their wines with a slurp of Cotes-du-Rhone from the south. Ha-ha, of course that would never happen! On the other hand, tannat, tough as a motorcyclist’s left boot and tannic as black tea left in the pot overnight, well, gosh, tannat seems an anomaly even if its function is to lend heft and structural might to pinot noir. The grape, declining in plantings in France, gives robustness and rusticity to the red wines of Madiran and Irouleguy in the Southwest, in the foothills east of the Pyrenees. Seventy percent of the Marichal Reserve Collection Pinot Noir/Tannat 2015 aged 10 months in oak barrels. The color is a brilliant medium ruby hue, and while the mild color might indicate a mild wine, the aromas of dusty, briery black currants and plums, permeated by cloves and graphite, tell us that the 30 percent tannat tends to dominate the enterprise; a silky texture feels slightly roughened by dry sifted tannins that provide grip and traction on the palate rarely encountered in pinot noir. In other words, the blend here is transformative, with the lesser grape working its powerful wiles upon the greater. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. It’s certainly a very unusual drink. 13 percent alcohol. Now through 2022 or ’24. Very Good+. About $20.

Global Vineyard Imports, Berkeley, Calif.
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Looking at the roster of wines available from Rodney Strong Vineyards, your first thought might be, “Do they need another label?” The answer to your inquiry would be: “Probably not,” yet here is Upshot 2015, a Sonoma County blend — primarily Alexander and Knights valleys — of 44 percent zinfandel, followed by 29 percent merlot, 15 percent malbec and 7 percent petit verdot and — out in left field — 5 percent riesling. It’s not unprecedented for red wine to contain a bit of aromatic white to elevate the nose and provide a touch of softness to a rigorous structure; after all, among the 13 grape varieties permitted in the typically deeply dark Chateauneuf-du-Pape, only nine are red. (Few CdP producers today employ all 13 varieties or any white grapes at all.) Anyway, Upshot 2015 aged 18 months in oak barrels. The color is dark ruby shading to a lighter magenta rim; notes of black currants, cherries and plums are ripe and fleshy, slightly spiced and macerated and infused with hints of iodine and iron, mint and licorice and a touch too much vanilla to suit me. On the palate, the wine is super-charged by vivid acidity and layered with fairly stout, dusty, graphite-washed tannins; a bit of zinfandel-influenced blueberry and boysenberry emerges after a few minutes in the glass, and perhaps a whiff on the back-end of something astringently floral from that smatter of riesling. So, yeah, nicely made, yet I don’t find this model totally impressive, in fact a bit too much generically “red wine” or “cabernet-ish” than distinctive enough, especially for the price. On the other hand, you and this wine could have a really good time with a medium-rare rib-eye steak, hot and crusty from the grill. 14.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2020 to ’22. Very Good+. About $28.
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One of the gratifying aspects of writing about wine and receiving samples from wineries, importers and marketing companies is the occasional surprise in the form of a product made from a grape I never encountered in a career that extends now to 33 and a half years. Such a case is the Olho de Mocho Reserva 2014, a white wine fashioned from the antão vaz grape in Portugal’s province of Alentejo, more specifically, the sub-region of Vidigueira. The estate of Herdade do Rocim consists of 70 hectares — 53 to red grapes, 17 to white, a proportion that reflects the area’s general ratio of a production of 20 percent white wines. Olho de Mocho Reserva 2014 aged nine months in French oak barrels. The color is very pale gold, and indeed the wine itself seems glowing and golden; aromas of hawthorn and yellow plums are infused with quince and spiced pear, with lingering whiffs of spare minerals and oceanic elements: flint, sea-salt and marsh grass. A talc-like texture is riven by bright acidity, and the flint-limestone element comes up as a scintillating tide, all at the service of an elegant and subtle array of spiced and macerated flavors: peach, quince and mango. 13.5 percent alcohol. A revelation. A few years should lend this wine even more burnish and character; drink through 2020 or ’21 with a variety of roasted or grilled sea-creatures. Excellent. About $30, and Worth a Search.

Imported by Langdon Shiverick, Los Angeles. A sample for review.

I suspect that while many readers may find the annual roster of “50 Great Wines” interesting, they don’t necessarily find it essential. Today’s post, however — “30 Great Wine Bargains of 2017” — I hope will be greeted with expectation and gratitude. Who doesn’t love a bargain, especially when the price is attached to a wine that performs above its weight and class? Prices on this list range from about $7 to $20. Twenty-five of these selections rate Excellent, with the next five rated Very Good+, and each one offers a hefty and distinguishing serving of quality. The breakdown by genre is 15 white, 13 red and 2 rosé. By country or state: Italy 7; California 6; France 5; Spain 3; Germany 2; and one each from Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Oregon, Portugal, South African and Washington. Whatever, it’s not the statistics that count but the wine inside the bottle. Many of these models I would recommend for buying by the case to enjoy in the months ahead, in moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review.
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Alain de la Treille Chinon 2015, Loire Valley, France. 100 percent cabernet franc. Excellent. About $19.

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Armas de Guerra Mencia Rosado 2016, Bierzo, Spain. Rosé of 100 percent mencia grapes. Excellent. About $13.

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Aveleda Vinho Verde 2016, Portugal. 70 percent loureiro grapes, 30 percent alvarinho. Very Good+. About $7-$10.

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Averaen Pinot Noir 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Excellent. About $20.
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Weingut Binz Nackenheimer Pinot Gris Kabinette 2015, Rheinhessen. Excellent. About $14.

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Camino Roca Altxerri 2015, Getariako, Spain. 100 percent hondurrabi zuri grapes. Excellent. About $16.
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Chelsea Goldschmidt Merlot 2015, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $19.

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Contrade Negroamaro 2015, Puglia, Italy. Very Good+. About $10.

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Chateau La Freynelle 2015, Bordeaux Blanc. 60 percent sauvignon blanc, 30 percent semillon, 10 percent muscadelle. Very Good+. About $13.
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Maquis Gran Reserva Carménère 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile. Excellent. About $20.
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Marchesi di Gresy Barbera d’Asti 2015, Piedmont, Italy. Excellent. About $18.

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Masseria Li Veli Verdeca 2015, Valle d’Istria, Apulia, Italy. 90 percent verdeca grapes, 10 percent fiano minutolo. Excellent. About $18.

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Luli Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County. 504 cases. Excellent. About $18.

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Mercer Estate Sharp Sisters Red Blend 2015. Horse Heaven Hills, Washington. 29 percent cabernet sauvignon, 27 percent syrah, 18 percent merlot, 14 percent petit verdot, 10 percent grenache, 2 percent carignane. Excellent. About $20.
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Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc 2016, North Canterbury, New Zealand. Excellent. About $16.
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Olema Pinot Noir 2014, Sonoma County. Second label of Amici Cellars. Excellent. About $20.

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Olianas Vermentino 2016, Vermentino di Sardegna. Excellent. About $15.

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Paul Durdilly “Les Grandes Coasses” 2016, Beaujolais, France. Excellent. About $15.

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Principe de Viana Garnacha Roble 2015, Navarra, Spain. Very Good+. About $11.
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Renwood Premier Old Vine Zinfandel 2014, Amador County, California. With 6 percent petit sirah, 5 percent barbera, 4 percent syrah. 50-to-103-year-old vines. Excellent. About $20.
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The Royal Old Vines Steen Chenin Blanc 2016, Western Cape, South Africa. Very Good+. About $11.

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Castel Sallegg Gewürztraminer 2015, Südtirol-Alto Adige, Italy. Excellent. About $16.
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Una Seleccion de Ricardo Santos Semillon 2016, Mendoza, Argentina. Excellent. About $16.
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St. Urbans-Hof Nik Seis Wiltinger Alte Reben Riesling 2015, Saar Valley, Germany. Excellent. About $18.
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Tenuta Sant’Antonio Monti Garbi 2014, Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa. Excellent. About $19.
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Serra Lor Rosato 2016, Isola dei Nuraghi, Sardenia. An unusual rosé blend of 50 percent cannonau, 25 percent monica, 20 percent carignano and 5 percent bovale grapes. Excellent. About $15.

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Steele Wines Pinot Blanc 2016, Santa Barbara County, California. Excellent. About $19.
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Chateau Tire Pé “Diem” 2012, Bordeaux. 100 percent merlot, no oak. Excellent. About $12.

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Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc Viognier White Bland 2015, Sonoma County. 85 percent pinot blanc, 15 percent viognier. Excellent. About $18.
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Vincent Crémant de Bourgogne Brut nv, Burgundy, France. Excellent. About $20.

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