Staff Favorites

If you’re going to have Robert Parker or Stephen Tanzer over for dinner, selecting a wine they’ve rated highly will be a nice choice. However, when you’re buying wines for yourself, we’d love to see you find wines that match up your unique palate and pocketbook. We have a large staff of friendly and knowledgeable wine professionals that taste hundreds of wines each week. They can put you in touch with bottles that you are likely to love, often at a much lower cost than the highly-rated gems that often see a run-up in price and frequent availability issues. Like any great group of opinionated professionals, our staff has varied tastes themselves. Often our customers will find a particular staff member with a style that corresponds to their own. That concept works extremely well in our retail stores, and this section is our effort to bring you the same online. Don’t get us wrong, we love the highly rated wines from the press and will continue to offer them, but we think you’re missing out if you’re not augmenting those selections with picks from our excellent staff. Here are their favorites. (Click on a name to see their other selections - or to drop them a line.) Cheers!


Reviews

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2012 Niepoort "Docil" Loureiro Vinho Verde
 By: Christie Cartwright | Review Date: 3/9/2014 | Send Email
  I'm very excited for this newest addition to our Vinho Verde family! In LA, where we have Vinho Verde weather all year round, it couldn't have come any sooner. Unlike your typical VV, this one is more vinous on the palate, with less crazy spritz and more of a elegant zing or fizz if you will. This is mouthwateringly refreshing with zippy acidity and wonderful texture. I'm getting a case before it disapears!!!
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart RP 90 BC 0

Daniel Ginsburg "Grande Reserve Sous Bois" Brut Champagne
 By: Jim Boyce | Review Date: 3/9/2014 | Send Email
  Impeccable balance is the key to this Champagne. Somehow, amidst the rich and toasty qualities, the wine stays so fresh and vibrant and finishes completely dry. Another amazing Champagne from Daniel Ginsburg!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Shenandoah Vineyards "Special Reserve" Zinfandel
 By: Jim Boyce | Review Date: 3/9/2014 | Send Email
  Our longtime staff and customer favorite Zinfandel from the Sobon Estate winemakers returns better than ever in 2012! Brambly and full of lush red fruit, this zin is ready to take on any picnic or backyard bbq. Shenandoah is an awesome party wine and crowd pleaser at $10. Stock up!
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Niepoort "Docil" Loureiro Vinho Verde
 By: Keith Mabry | Review Date: 3/9/2014 | Send Email
  Bright, clean and snappy on the palate. This is a more amped up version of your standard Vinho Verde. Notes of meyer lemon, mandarin orange and crunch minerality, it has just a touch of CO2 for a nice zippy finish. One of the best versions of its kind and at an exceptionally low price!
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart RP 90 BC 0

2012 Niepoort "Docil" Loureiro Vinho Verde
 By: Krista Johnson | Review Date: 3/9/2014 | Send Email
  Absolutely refreshing! This zippy V.V. is full of every citrus zest you can imagine. Its racy acidity leaves your palate quenched, and the fresh "wet rock" mineral finish just begs you for more sipping. This is a warm weather staple.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart RP 90 BC 0

2011 Te Mata "Estate" Cabernets/Merlot Hawkes Bay New Zealand
 By: Mike Barber | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
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  This is a fantastic value for any fan of hearty Cab/Merlot blends. A rich, dark fruit core and just enough tannin structure and spice make this a very serious wine for not a lot of money.
Top Value! Drink from 2014 to 2019
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2010 Te Mata "Coleraine" Bordeaux Blend Hawkes Bay
 By: Mike Barber | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
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  The lesser known, warmer weather bay of the New Zealand wine country, Hawkes Bay is capable of producing world-class Cabernet and Syrah, and this bottle is one of its best. The skills of the Te Mata winemakers shine in this Bordeaux blend from a great vintage. Richer than most Bordeaux but still balanced and delicious, it has incredible layers of flavors with a good backbone and just a touch of leather.
Drink from 2016 to 2029
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart BC 96 JS 93

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand
 By: Mike Barber | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
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  The biodynamic Te Whare Ra estate produces very expressive, quintessential cool weather wines. They like acid in their wines and it shows. Their Sauv Blanc is always one of our best, with searing bright melon and flowers that leave a lasting impression on the palate.
Top Value! Drink from 2014 to 2017
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Pinot Noir Marlborough New Zealand
 By: Mike Barber | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
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  Classic New Zealand Pinot from this cool weather estate. This beauty is bright and sharp, with lean red fruit, plenty of acidity, and a long finish.
Top Value! Drink from 2014 to 2019
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart BC 0

1989 Cragganmore 23 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml
 By: Mike Barber | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
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  I don't say things are perfect very often, especially when rating wine and spirits, but this Cragganmore might be. The pedigree of the distillery is well known (it was always the great whisky writer Michael Jackson's favorite), but it takes a special barrel like this to show what the distillery can really do. The evolution of flavor in this malty beast is incredible, and your taste buds will thank you with every sip. A perfect representation of Speyside, it starts with toasted almonds and light caramel flavors that warp into a mixture of coffee, leather, and chili spices. Beautiful whisky!
Drink from 2014 to 3014
Price: $109.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2005 Glenrothes 8 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml
 By: Jeffrey Jones | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
  A delicious pleaser. It is rich, round and soft and very easy to drink. There is a nice long subtle spicy finish that keeps this Glenrothes interesting. As with most cask strength single malts, a splash of water helps open up the flavors of the spirit.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart BC 0

1997 Glengoyne 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml
 By: Jeffrey Jones | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
  This single malt is for those who want a whisky that is not too heavy but is more medium bodied. This Glengoyne offers a lot of complexity with layers of flavors. There is a nice long finish to round out the experience.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Montefresco Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
  If you're looking for a wine in the under $15 category this is a steal! Peppery, with lush fruit, this is great for a backyard barbecue or weeknight sausage loaded pizza party.
Price: $8.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2004 Larrivet Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan
 By: Steve Bearden | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
  Aromas of gravely earth, hot rocks, baked cherries and a whiff of smoke jump from the glass when this is poured. Ripe currant fruit, minerals and spice are present in the middle which is surprisingly rich for the vintage and appellation. OK, maybe not a baby Haut-Brion, but you get the idea.

Bruno Michel "Rebelle" Extra Brut Champagne
 By: Christie Cartwright | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
  This extra Brut will surprise and seduce your palate. Aromas of baked stone fruits of apples, pear, and pie crust. The palate is focused and intense but gives way to its lovely biscuity notes with piercing minerality and acidity on the finish. For an extra Brut I would say this has more flavor and texture than most, especially at the price!
Price: Hidden View Price BC 0

Bruno Michel "Rebelle" Extra Brut Champagne
 By: Mari Keilman | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
  I typically don't drink a lot of extra brut because it always makes me want a giant plate of fresh oysters (which are hard to get in LA), but the Bruno Michelle Rebelle is so full of ripe, baked pomme fruit that it's delicious on its own, with sushi or a plate of oysters (if you have easy access to one). The Rebelle is an extra brut in the way extra brut was meant to be; enough ripe natural sugar the way mother nature intended so that additional sugar isn't needed!
Price: Hidden View Price BC 0

2010 Wiston Estate "South Downs Cuvée Brut" West Sussex, England
 By: Joe Manekin | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
  ENGLISH METHOD! That's right, the methode champenoise has origins in England. That's not where the Champagne comparison ends for Wiston, as their vines grow on prime chalky soils, they have been farming their land for over 250 years, and the grapes grown are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. How's the wine? It's spectacular. Very linear, focused and brightly citric, with incredible minerality and length on the finish. It sort of reminds me of Bruno Michel's Blanc de Blancs, that kind of crackling, bright, acid and chalk driven style. Definitely worth a try.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Niepoort "Docil" Loureiro Vinho Verde
 By: Joe Manekin | Review Date: 3/8/2014 | Send Email
  This is spectacular everyday white wine! If Quinta da Aveleda is a great introduction and ol' reliable bottling of vinho verde, consider the Niepoort "Docil" as another, more subtle, more serious take on the style, but every bit as gulpable (maybe even a bit more?) 100% Loureiro grapes, softly textured, all crisp tart apples and citric flavors, and as I mentioned earlier, so very drinkable. Dirk Niepoort continues to be one of the most versatile winemakers around, and I love that he still thinks it important to make great, affordable white wine!
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart RP 90 BC 0

2011 Castello di Buttrio "Mon Blanc"
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/7/2014 | Send Email
  A very interesting white, that reminded me of those little wax bottle candies filled with colored liquid, minus any residual sugar.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Erik Banti Il Vermentino Toscana
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/7/2014 | Send Email
  A Summer quaffer filled with tropical fruits and mouth watering acidity!
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Sartarelli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/7/2014 | Send Email
  Nice texture, a bit creamy, and surprisingly layered. A perfectly good wine at a great price.
Price: $8.99 Add To Cart JS 91 BC 0

2012 Pieropan Soave Classico
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/7/2014 | Send Email
  As my introduction to Soave several years ago, the Pieropan is still making a delicious, light, refreshing, mineral driven wine. Lime pith comes through on the clean finish finish.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart JS 91 BC 0

2012 I Stefanini "Selese" Soave
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/7/2014 | Send Email
  Just a touch off dry with great acidity, and a touch of green almond. I'd stick a straw in it.
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Blason Pinot Grigio Isonzo (1L)
 By: Illya Haase | Review Date: 3/7/2014 | Send Email
  Move over Grüner! You are not the only liter in town. Great aromatic's of floral and Autumn fruit. Wonderfully round mouth feel and succulent acidity. This is the perfect poolside wine!
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart GR 2 BC 0

2012 Lynch Bages Blanc, Pauillac
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/7/2014 | Send Email
  The white wine that is produced by Lynch Bages, is nothing short that exquisite. It is the definition of delicious. This is a wine that I either want to hoard all to myself, or share with someone that will appreciate the true bold grace of the blend. I'd be hesitant to prepare any dish that would interfere with the dynamic nose and palate of this wine. Herbaciousness that would compliment a pristine fillet of locally caught river fish, napped with a seductive butter sauce that has been slowly infused with fresh thyme and melted leeks.

Lallier Grande Reserve Grand Cru Brut Champagne
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/7/2014 | Send Email
  Served at Fete with tasty passed hors d'oeuvres encased in puff pastry, this champagne was absolutely delicious. Full, rich texture, palate cleansing acidity, and fine streams of magic bubbles.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

WINE CLUB

Club Price: $34.99
WE 92 BH 91 ST 90

2011 Montrose, St-Estèphe Pre-Arrival
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/7/2014 | Send Email
  Tasted at Fete- Great fruit, savory notes of sage, racy acidity that comes through, extending the finish. Velvety tannins. I'm looking forward to tasting how this one evolves.

2011 Bodegas Olivares "Altos de la Hoya" Jumilla
 By: Jim Barr | Review Date: 3/7/2014 | Send Email
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  Medium-deep ruby in color, this puppy is loaded with fruit of a cassis, blackberry to raspberry, and Chilean Jasmine nature with white pepper spiciness and a creamy tone as a back note both on the nose and across its broad, rich, viscous, deeply flavored palate impression. On the finish it is long, warm and gives a wet forest floor note of minerality in what has to be one of the most amazingly complex, “cheap” red wines that I have ever tasted. Rusty has demanded that I bring home cases upon cases of this wonderful Gem to be one of our house reds for the next ten thousand years. And, no, it was not named after a professional boxer. 14.0% ABV
Drink from 2014 to 2020
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart ST 91 BC 0

2009 Tolaini Valdisanti
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
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  I often hear sales pitches from salesmen that pit the wine in question with some well known favorite that is very expensive. In this case they'll say this 2009 Tolaini Valdisanti is the “Poor Man’s Tignanello.” My guess is that most "rich men" buy low and sell high rather than the converse, and are always ahead of the curve... that’s how they get to be rich! However this 2009 Tolaini Valdisanti (Super Tuscan) is going to make you rich as well. I loved its complex blend of earth, wild herbs and cigar box like aromatics. Then on the palate the 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet Franc cuvee shows lots of power, and although there is solid structure underneath, the wine is supple, excellently balanced and has a lengthy finish. I was really surprised by the quality of this wine and how much I liked the Cabernet-based blend from southeastern Chianti Classico. After tasting, I was ready for a price point that was going to be 2-3 times what this is! This is truly an outstanding deal - drinkable now and will age very well for a decade to come.
Drink from 2014 to 2024
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart RP 94 BC 0

1992 Longmorn 21 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml
 By: Mike Barber | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
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  Great release here from a well known distillery that never puts out distillery bottlings in the U.S. This single malt does the best when it is expressed with sherry barrels like this one: dark, decadent and very rich.
Drink from 2014 to 3014
Price: $115.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2010 Bodegas Valdemar "Inspiracion" Rioja
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  Ripe, crushed blackberries, a little port-y, and a lovely floral finish.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart WS 91 BC 0

2010 Palacios Remondo "La Montesa" Rioja
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  Bright fruit, balanced, and soft to medium tannins. I think it will be hard to find someone that doesn't find this wine enjoyable.

2012 Tinto Negro Malbec Uco Valley
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  Consistently a great wine! Almost extremely sweet on the entry, and then pushed aside by refreshing, juicy acidity on the finish.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart RP 91 BC 0

2009 Château Thénac Bergerac Rouge
 By: Ralph Sands | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  During my 45 visits to southwestern France I have tasted hundreds of Bergerac reds and this is by far the best I have ever tasted. It's a big dark wine with lots of powerful fruit but without the rough and rustic tannins this area is known for. This wine is made by one of the great winemakers in Bordeaux Denis Durantou the owner of Ch. Eglise Clinet in Pomerol. Ralph Sands
Top Value!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart WE 90 BC 0

2010 Chalone "Limited Release" Chalone Pinot Noir
 By: Keith Wollenberg | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  This is serious Pinot Noir, clearly showing focus and minerality from the limestone soil in which it is grown. Delicious and rather Burgundian in character, this is California Pinot for the Connoisseur. And it will not break the bank! Don 't miss this, unless you really love the jammy fruit-forward style, which this is definitely not. But if elegant, food-friendly Pinot is a favorite, DO try this one.
Top Value!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart W&S 92 BC 0

2009 Querciabella Chianti Classico (6L)
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  Guaranteed to impress your friends. Lush, nuanced, with great structure this wine shows black cherries, sweet balsamic vinegar, cocoa, and baking spices. Ready to drink, but certainly able to age another 5+ years in a bottle of this size.

2009 Bladnoch "Young" K&L Exclusive Heavily Peated Single Barrel #57 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  Very Mezcalesque. I'm excited to play with this in various cocktails. First on the list is something involving ripe Santa Rosa plums, and fresh rosemary.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart BC 0

1992 Longmorn 21 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  Dynamic, with overtones of dried orange peel and wood.
Price: $115.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Domaine Ballorin & F Marsannay "Les Echezots"
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  Luscious, with a touch of vanilla through the core. Aromas that bring me back to the historic estates on the Hudson River, both during lilac season, and the onset of Fall where the leaves are starting to dry, and fires are lit in the grand fireplaces.
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Jacques Bavard Meursault
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  The wines of Meursault are almost always exquisite, and the wines of Jacques Bavard have not disappointed. The 2011 bottling is luscious with a nutty richness on the palate. Drinking very well now but will continue to age beautifully.
Price: $41.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2009 S. A. Prum "Urziger Wurzgarten" Riesling Kabinett
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  I make, and eat, a lot of spicy food. Between Thai dishes, Mexican, and sometimes Indian, probably close to half of the dinners I prepare require something other than red wine. And of course there's always beer, but for me, nothing beats a great Riesling. And when it's got a bit of age, a bit more character, it's hard no pass up the opportunity to have this on hand at this incredible price. Stored properly this is only going to continue to improve. At 7.5% alcohol, you don't even have to share the bottle!
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

WINE CLUB

Club Price: $9.99
BC 0

El Dorado Single Barrel EHP Guyana Rum 750ml
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  Of the El Dorado single barrels, I've found the EHP to be the richest and heaviest in weight.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart BC 0

El Dorado Single Barrel PM Guyana Rum 750ml
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  Soft with a bite on the finish.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart BC 0

El Dorado Single Barrel ICBU Guyana Rum 750ml
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  Rich, round, and full of cocoa notes.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Casa Santos Lima "Bons Ventos" Vinho Regional Lisboa
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  A delicious, easy drinker, at a great price! Bonus screwtop for transporting to picnics, sunset cruises, or barbecues.
Price: $7.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Shania Monastrell Vino de la tierra de Murcia (3L bag in box) (cannot ship)
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  I am such a huge fan of this wine. Joe had us taste two identical boxes side by side. They were both great, and nearly identical. Later when I asked him what the difference was he indicated that the first box had been opened exactly a year earlier! This is a great wine to have on hand, whether you are going camping, or just like to have an easy drinker at your finger tips that you do not have to worry about finishing anytime soon. Of course with this wine, that will never be an issue.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2009 Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon
 By: Bryan Brick | Review Date: 3/6/2014 | Send Email
  The first time I tasted the 2009 Smith-Madrone Cabernet was at the annual Family Winemakers tasting last Fall in San Francisco. I always go to their table knowing exactly what I’m going into, or at least so I thought. Riesling-check, Chard-check, Cabernet-che…whaaaaaaaat? Talk about a head turner, this was something completely different from one of my favorite Cabernet producers in Napa. Sure the wine was made the same: mountain fruit, 100% new American oak but the outcome was something that I never expected. The 2009 vintage in all its ripe glory produced a crowd friendly, fruit forward wine from a place that I didn’t even know could do such a thing. But the truly great thing about this Cab is that it did it without sacrificing its soul. There are so many homogenous wines in Napa right now that I was worried for a quick second that one of the classic stalwarts went to the dark side. But as I paid more attention to this wine I realized it still had its foundation of Spring Mountain tannins, mint/camphor spice, earthy/mushroom-y/olive-y undercurrent, and the signature dill/marshmallow tones from the American oak. It just has so much more ripe boysenberry/current fruit over the top of it that its almost hard not to drink this wine right away while still knowing that it will easily be happy in a cellar for the next 10-15 years. Kudos to you Brothers Smith for making what could be the best Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon I’ve ever had!
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart WE 94 BC 0

2011 Thierry & Pascale Matrot Bourgogne Blanc
 By: Melissa Smith | Review Date: 3/5/2014 | Send Email
  Great minerality and acidity, with nice subtle toasty oak in the background and a great soft texture.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart RP 90 BC 0

2011 Anima Libera Chianti
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/5/2014 | Send Email
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  Anima Libera - Free spirit, that’s the name that Emiliano Falsini chose for his wine label. Emiliano is a consulting enologist, that’s a winemaker for hire, he comes in tells you what to do and moves around a lot, kind of like doing stages in dozens of restaurants. So when he decided to produce his own wine he was looking for something that described him but also his wine, because in his wine he didn’t have to please the winery owner to make a wine taste a certain way he let the wine be what it wanted to be, a Free Spirit, just like him. This Chianti DOCG is textbook perfect, the aromatics of delicate cherry, hints of leather and earth are classic but when it hits your palate it expands with a plumier center adding weight to the naturally acidic Sangiovese and producing a very pleasant mouth feel. A perfect pasta, salumi, roasted chicken or cheese plate wine you’ll free your spirit a bit with it!
Drink from 2014 to 2016
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2008 Musella Amarone della Valpolicella
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/5/2014 | Send Email
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  When many of you hear the word Amarone you probably think of a MEGA wine, bursting with raisiny over the top ripe fruit, everything in excess. This wine is VERY different it is so well balanced, so easy to drink and just a delight. The nose is concentrated and full but isn’t monolithic, it doesn’t knock you down in fact it lifts you up. 2008 is a great vintage, a long dry summer allowed perfect ripening and then the grapes were dried until January. Crushed, fermented and then aged for 4 years in 700 to 2000 liter French Allier barrels the wine has ample time to come together and that it has. Very complex fruit in the nose, plums, and wild cherries concentrated but not thick just incredible focus. While the wine has great weight and palate presence its real highlight for me is its extraordinary length, that’s what gives it such incredible lift, lightness and makes it seem so well balanced you won’t even notice the alcohol. I’d have it with braised meats or a big chunk of aged Parmigiano Reggiano.
Drink from 2014 to 2020
Price: $41.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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