Stumbling upon any of the late Barbaresco genius Signor Giacosa’s bottlings for under 30 at a wine shop should get a whole bunch of neurons firing in the brain of any wine lover. This beauty of a Dolcetto lives up to all the hype that comes with the name on the label. Deep ruby color with bright reflections. Blue and black frutti del bosco meet woodsy aromas of underbrush, mulch and drying violets. Medium-bodied, very dry but lush with fresh berry fruit, velvety tannins and a mouthwatering acidity. The finish is long and slightly bitter, making this an ideal food wine. Pair with churrasco-style hangar steak, sausage and peppers, firm cheeses and cassoulet. W.M.
Vintage 2014, four-generation winemaking family in Chablis. This is as classic as it gets; high-toned and racy with bracing acidity and long, lip-smacking mineral finish. Developing a medium-lemon color in its adolescence. You can definitely feel the cool ’14 vintage’s effects with lean fruit and green apple freshness, but there is plenty of weight and leesy texture to provide some tension on the palate. The nose offers orchard fruit, flint and shells, with the subtlest hint of baked bread. This one will age well for at least 7-8 years. A real winner for $21 at the shop. Enjoy with almost any food: raw bar items, broiled lobster, bouillabaisse, braised pork shoulder with apples, as well as anything rich, fried or cheesy. W.M.
Nice, balanced offering of South Africa’s patented Pinot Noir x Cinsault crossing from a fairly new domaine near Paardeberg Mountain (fun fact: at the turn of the last century, South African farmers had nicknamed Cinsault “Hermitage,” so “Pinotage” naturally followed). Pale ruby with bright reflections and pink-ish rim. The nose at once shows ripe and dried red fruits, but still has a real brooding character, offering intense notes of smoke, crushed stone, leather, wilting violet, bitter herbs and petrol. Musky. Medium-full; fairly concentrated and plump on the attack, velvety tannic feel on midpalate, with lots of sage/herbal notes on the back end and a mouth-drying finish. Enjoy this one with duck breast with stonefruit compote, wild salmon with cream sauce or pasta/risotto with mushrooms and butter. W.M
This is some of the best New Zealand has to offer for serious, food-friendly Chardonnay at an “everyday drinking” price point. The flinty, Chablis-esque nose entices with subtle aromas of crisp green apple and wet stones; as well as not-so-subtle aromas of aged sheepsmilk cheese. Concentrated but mineral-driven and bone-dry. Slightly spritzy feel on attack indicating lees contact and unoaked ageing environment, but balanced otherwise. Drink right away with oysters and cream sauces. W.M.
Decant this one for an hour or two before drinking; at this point in its development it needs time. Complex bouquet of blueberry/blackberry jam, cured meat, violets and dark chocolate. New oak is evident. Medium-full-bodied, velvety and spice-laden. Dark, brooding and tightly knit on the palate. Drinks great in its youth but will cellar very nicely. W.M.
Bright, pale cherry red in the glass. Pretty yet intense aromatics of brambly red berry fruit, mushroom, rose and underbrush. Full bodied and structured with classic Nebbiolo acidity and length. Perfect use of oak; softens the texture and frames the fruit nicely without masking its purity with vanilla and clove aromas. Long finish. Gorgeous. Pair with white truffle pasta. 🙂 W.M
Pale gold color, aromas of bartlett pear, pineapple and honey. Layered fruit on palate with rather rich, round mouthfeel and lifted acidity. Surprisingly ripe and juicy. Minerality very neatly interwoven; nothing tart or sour on this dry Lebanese mountain Riesling. Enjoy with brie or lobster bisque. W.M.
Pale straw color and star bright. Pretty nose offering candied lime, grapefruit, melon, peach, citrus blossom and wet stones with the slightest hint of bitter herbs. Fresh and lively with a core of citrus wrapped neatly in minerality, the finish is bright and crisp. Beefed up a bit by a sprinkling of S millon and fermented mainly in stainless steel with a sprinkling of neutral barrel. Fruity yet food-friendly, this wine offers balanced ripeness, minimal green-ness and should be drunk either as an aperitif, a partner for oysters and sushi, or a foil for rich, earthy dishes like gnocchi with mushrooms or jaeger schnitzel. W.M.
Killer juice from one of the great producers of Rhône varietals in Walla Walla. Don’t let the cartoon-y branding fool you; the team at Sleight of Hand makes some of the most seriously delicious and food-friendly wines in WA State. This blend is sourced from old vine sites in the Columbia Valley. Pale ruby in the glass, with an intense nose to be fawned over. Kirsch, raspberry/blackberry jam and violet aromas intermingle with pepper, smoke, herbs and black olives. Ripe and rich but graceful on the palate with a nice open-knit feel and spicy finish. Truly a wine of character and terroir. Definitely pay a visit to SOH if you’re ever in Walla, it’s the only tasting room I’ve been to where one can sip world-class wine and jam out to Soundgarden in a backdrop of wine-stained barrels and vintage concert memorabilia. Rock ‘n’ roll lives at Sleight of Hand! W.M.
Medium-concentrated garnet color with long, slow-forming legs. This is as “modern” as it gets in stately Barbaresco. Intense aromatics, dominated by sweet oak, coffee and cedar, but also showcasing raspberry jam, morello cherry, anise and moss. Big, rich and mouth-coating, with grainy tannins and a long warming finish remeniscent of mint and bitter herbs. This is wine meant for slow-roasted meats and cream sauce pasta. This definitely puts the lie to the myth that Barolo is always the bolder of the two famous Piedmont Nebbiolo appellations. W.M