Staff Favorites - Joe Manekin

Joe Manekin
Joe Manekin  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
Joe arrived at our doors in February 2007 from far away, Washington, DC to be exact. Just so no one gets the wrong idea, though, he was merely earning a living in DC; Joe’s cultural identity, as well as his professional sports allegiances and, when he has a few drinks in him, his accent, are all Baltimore through and through. After working on the wholesale side of the business for nearly 4 years, Joe decided that he wanted to work wine retail with the best, so he emailed Cindy Westby at K&L and the rest is history. While Joe is well versed in a number of wine regions, he most enjoys the wines of Europe, though he is growing increasingly interested in the great wines of the Santa Cruz mountains. When he is not at K&L, Joe enjoys cooking, traveling, catching up on The Wire, doing occasional PR, booking and recording work for reggae band JohnStone (www.johnstonemusic.com), and writing for his wine, food and music blog, Old world Old School (www.oldworldoldschool.blogspot.com)


Reviews

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2009 La Rioja Alta "Viña Ardanza" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 09-17-2018
I surely would have fell out of my chair, had I been sitting while first nosing and tasting the new release of La Rioja Alta's iconic "Viña Ardanza." Fortunately, I was standing, though the experience of tasting this new release of one of my favorite red wines on the planet is always a memorable one. This is one of those wines that I love every bit as much now as when I first became acquainted with it 15 years ago. It's such a great value, unique in that it tastes great upon release and, if you are one to patiently your wines, will go for two decades, easily. That said, there are lovely, typical, vintages of Ardanza, and then there are the heavies - 2001, 2004 and I would add 2009 to that list - lip smackingly delicious and in perfect balance, even on release. In fact, I do not recall the other vintages mentioned tasting quite as good as this one does. Highly recommended, for now and for the cellar.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
JS 96 RP 93

2016 Felton Road "Calvert" Pinot Noir Central Otago (Biodynamic)
Review Date: 09-12-2018
It's always a pleasure to taste through a set of Pinot Noir as delicious, well made and iconic as those from Felton Road. Calvert shows balanced red fruit flavors, terrific presence and an overall balance that maybe makes it the front runner of these 2016 bottlings. At least it did before moving on to the Cornish Point. It's tough to pick a favorite in this strong set of Pinot Noirs, a testament to the quality of work that Felton Road is doing. Highly recommended Pinot Noir.

2016 Felton Road "Cornish Point" Pinot Noir Central Otago (Biodynamic)
Review Date: 09-12-2018
In an impressive line-up of 2016 Pinot Noir from Felton Point, the Cornish Point bottling has the grippiest and most overtly powerful structure. Think dark plum and fruit skins on the palate, with a slightly salty and savory aspect that makes you want to drink more. Preferably with a rack of lamb - not simply because the wine is from New Zealand, but as a perfect foil to dark fruited, structured Pinot Noir as delicious and well made as this one!

2015 Raymond "Reserve Selection" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 09-12-2018
100% Napa on the nose: heady kirsch like aromas are forward yet balanced, with something subtly savory and very true to form for the grape variety. On the palate the flavors are mouth filling, generous, and, just what you want in a $50 Napa Cab - at under $30.

2014 John Duval "Plexus" GSM Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 09-12-2018
There is something about catching a wine right as it's beginning to hit its stride. This is absolutely the case with the 2014 John Duval Plexus, which is juicy, supple and delicious. The brightness of Grenache is a perfect counterpoint to the weight and deeper pitch of Syrah and Mourvedre. A perfect example of the kind ripe yet balanced deliciousness which first put the Barossa Valley on the map.

2016 Hentley Farm Shiraz Barossa Valley
Review Date: 09-12-2018
Textbook to a tee, this is Shiraz that shows dark fruits and melted tar aromas, leading to a wonderful palate with loads of blue and purple skinned fruit flavors. I agree with all the critics' assessments of this wine; it's representative of a top quality Barossa Shiraz, but at a much more affordable price.

2015 Domaine Belle "Cuvée Louis Belle" Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 09-12-2018
Yes, now that's what I'm talking about! This is the best northern Rhone Red for under $50 that I have tasted in quite a long time. While 2016 is enjoying its moment, it's probably worth remembering that 2015 was also a spectacular Rhone vintage, and the Domaine Belle Cuvee Louis Belle is a show stopper. Mixed berry aromas with some spicy, cherry fruit leather notes as well lead to a palate that is a bit salty and plummy, with grip, intensity and a sense of place. An impressive (and extremely limited) production.

2016 Emmanuel Darnaud "Les Trois Chenes" Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 09-12-2018
Did someone mention that 2016 was a banner year in the Rhone valley? We have been steadily working through our 2016 Rhone reds, and here we have a solid representation from the north in this bottling from Emmanuel Darnaud. Featuring lovely, ripe, softly textured red fruit nicely framed by toasty barrel notes, this is the perfect Syrah to introduce someone to a French rendition of this grape variety, from the fantastic 2016 vintage.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
VN 92

2015 Domaine de l'Amandine Côtes du Rhône-Villages Seguret
Review Date: 09-12-2018
This delicious new direct import reminds me of the sort of wines I first encountered from the Cotes Du Rhone: fresh red fruits, with just a bit of wild growing herbs in the background. Honest, tasty, medium-bodied red for under $14 sounds like just the ticket for Fall, I'm in!
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2016 Domaine Calendal "Plan de Dieu" Côtes du Rhône-Villages
Review Date: 09-12-2018
God´s plan - isn't that a Drake song? Anyway...this is good, really good. This appears to be yet another indication that the 2016 vintage in the southern Rhone valley is every bit as impressive as reported by the press. Aromas are forward, effusive, bright, and fresh, with waves of red fruit and a hint of fresh citrus peel. Purely fruited and balanced on the palate - intense and fresh are the two words I'd use to describe the flavors. For any fan of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, buy this wine in quantity to drink and age as you wait for your 2016 CdP's to come around.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
JD 95

Fallet-Dart "Grande Sélection" Brut Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 09-11-2018
The mere fact that this cuvee from Fallet Dart has a whopping seven years on the lees should immediately grab your attention. That said, it's not all about the lees, you need to start with great base wine. This is absolutely the case for this delicious bottle of Pinot Noir based bubbles made an hour west of Epernay. A bright nose loaded with citric fruits leads to a focused, lively, fresh and engaging palate. Compared to their also tasty Grande Reserve, this wine comes across as drier and slightly lower dosage. Fantastic value for money, and a likely selection for house Champagne at our place. If you are inclined to do the same, it will be super affordable at under $35!
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

2015 Bodegas Mas Alta "Artigas" Priorat
Review Date: 09-11-2018
This Priorat, with "un accento francés" (a few famous Rhone valley winemakers produce the wine) is wonderfully expressive in the 2015 vintage, showing the beautiful, heady, exotic fruit of the region, while harnessing the warmth of the vintage to produce something bright and tasty. Intense mixed berry fruits lead to a finish that gains in dimension and freshness, showing minerality and surprising length towards the finish. At under $20 - a tough price point to reach in a region with such scarce production - this is pitch perfect Priorat that won't break the bank.

2015 Hacienda Monasterio Ribera del Duero
Review Date: 09-11-2018
For Peter Sisseck, famous producer of Dominio del Pingus (yes, the $800+ dollar a bottle Pingus), Hacienda Monasterio is actually the winery which first brought him to Spain some 25 years ago. "El Pingus" himself still makes the wines here. This fact combined with the vines' prime location in Pesquers de Duero usually results in very good wines, but in 2014 and now 2015, we have a couple of back to back heavy hitters. The fruit profile, while rich, has the requisite amount of freshness, and a clean chalky quality towards the finish. I'm with the critics on this one: Hacienda Monasterio is definitely one of the Ribera del Duero region's best and most reliable names. Fantastic stuff for Spanish wine fans and, given the richness and polish of this wine, for Napa cab drinkers as well.

2016 Felton Road "Bannockburn" Pinot Noir Central Otago (Biodynamic)
Review Date: 09-09-2018
For top quality Pinot Noir, Felton Road is one of the can't miss names in Central Otago. This blend of several of their vineyard sites immediately struck a chord in a recent line-up, for its bright and high toned red fruit, the lovely aromatics, tension, and (I suspect) the well managed addition of some stems in the fermentation process - a minor detail but for the Pinot fans amongst us, one that matters. Great stuff - and a tough to beat Pinot Noir for the price.

2015 Tapiz "Alta Collection" Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 09-09-2018
In terms of winemaking pedigree, you cannot do much better than to have someone who was responsible for making a $2,500 bottling of wine perfect, year in year out, for 44 years. That is exactly what Jean Claude Berrouet did at Petrus, and what he now does as well at Tapiz. The popularity of Tapiz Cabernet cannot be overstated: last year we sold many hundred of bottles of the 2014, and even in dollar terms it represented our best selling wine of 2017. We feel strongly about the 2015 vintage as well. It has all of the structure of 2014, perhaps with even more depth of flavor and savory Cab complexity. It is very hard to find a better bang for your buck Cabernet Sauvignon out there; this wine is just tough to beat!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 93 RP 90

2017 Don Rodolfo "Art of the Andes" Pinot Noir Mendoza
Review Date: 09-05-2018
This is tasty Pinot Noir! Crisply styled, with red fruit flavors, lower alcohol and no suggestion of spicy/sweet barrel notes, this is that rare sub $15 Pinot Noir that is true to the variety, nicely dry and well made. As long as you are not expecting pitch perfect Pinot Noir character in this everyday drinker, I think you'll find plenty to like here!
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart
JS 90

2017 Château de la Negly "La Côte" Languedoc
Review Date: 08-29-2018
A heavy hitter that regularly garners plenty of attention in the press, this entry-level bottling from Chateau de la Negly is chock-full of ripe blue skinned fruits, with the right amount of balance coming in the form of tannin structure and non-fruit notes to keep things interesting and food friendly.

2015 J.L. Chave Selection "Offerus" Saint-Joseph
Review Date: 08-29-2018
Chave for $27.99?? While this is obviously not the famed Hermitage, it is a way to get a taste of the JL Chave goodness (not to mention pedigree, winemaking know-how and tradition) for under $30. This is a nicely structured, savory St-Joseph, good for drinking now but sure to reward another 8-10 years in the cellar.
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart
WS 93 VN 92

2013 Leeuwin "Art Series" Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 08-29-2018
A lion of the Aussie Cabernet world, Leeuwin's Art Series Cab absolutely shines in 2013, with an immediate hit of currant confit and cherry fruits that seem to combine intensity of flavor with freshness, purity and acidity that suggests fruit from a very well adapted, nicely mature site. Great Cab for your cellar (if you can resist drinking these bottles in the near term...)

2016 Bodegas Peique "Valle del Cúa" Mencía Bierzo
Review Date: 08-28-2018
Along northern Spain, the famous Camino de Santiago (Pilgrimmage of St James) cuts right through the region of Bierzo, passing through the town of Villafranca del Bierzo where Bodegas Peique is based. I think that lots of us were reminded of the beauty, structure, and serious quality of Bierzo wines several months ago when we offered another over-achieving Mencia in Gregory Perez's Brezo. We found a great example from the region in this bottling from Bodegas Peique. Dark fruited, with a slightly peppery quality and structure for days, especially considering the humble price, this wine straddles the space between the Rhone Valley and top-quality California Rhone blends. Try this with anything grilled!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
WS 91

2015 Celler de Capçanes "Mas Donis" Old Vines Montsant
Review Date: 08-28-2018
Let me tell it to you straight: Montant is not poor man's Priorat. Rather, it is the millionaire next door's house red! This is because she (our millionaire next door) recognizes quality and value. Perhaps, as well, given her level of savvy, she knows that Montsant generally is not quite as hot as Priorat, has a wider variety of soil types, including lots of sand, clay, and calcareous sections, lending more possibilities for blending as well as fresher wines with healthy levels of acidity. As you have read, Mas Donis has indeed been slightly re-jiggered and it is a very fine value, better than ever. I strongly recommend it.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart
JD 92 RP 90

2017 Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis
Review Date: 08-27-2018
This has become a go to bottle of everyday Chablis for many of our customers, and given the quality in the bottle this vintage it's easy to see why. Bright appley fruit, with lovely minerality and a freshness that marks the wine in this relatively mild vintage as coming from the northerly climes of Chablis!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
DC 90

2014 Bodegas Palacios Remondo "La Montesa" Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 08-21-2018
This delicious Garnacha based Rioja is mainly about the fruit: pure, abundant red fruit, ripe yet well balanced with acidity and elegant tannins. It is not surprising that this Rioja is as tasty as it is, since it is brought to us by one of Spain's viticultural, winemaking and branding geniuses in Alvaro Palacios, and comes from fruit grown on a famous vineyard - a Grenache dominated vineyard in higher elevation, nearly pure stone vineyards that resembles Chateaunneuf du Pape perhaps more than Rioja.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
RP 92 JS 91

2015 Roserock (Drouhin Oregon) Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 08-21-2018
Drouhin's second Williamette Valley label is notable not only for doubling down on their investment in making great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Oregon, but also in showing how distinctive the wines are in Dundee vs the Eola Amity Hills further south in the valley. Their 2015 Pinot Noir shows the warmth of the vintage, along with a bright and high toned quality all its own. Plum and berry confit blend with freshly picked wild berry flavors on this delicious Pinot - drink now or over the next 5-7 years.

2013 Felsina Chianti Classico "Colonia" Gran Selezione
Review Date: 08-21-2018
The big boy in the Felsina stable, this newest entrant is like their famous Rancia bottling, but stacked with more intensity, structure and extract. Lots of fruit, but plenty of savory notes as well. The vineyard used for this bottling is in fact located up above Rancia, and apparently delivers a powerful bottle of wine that demands some time in the cellar -I'd love to see how it is drinking a decade from now.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart
RP 97 VN 95

San Venanzio Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut
Review Date: 08-21-2018
This is fun, easy drinking prosecco, with an effortless balance between ripe appley fruit and fizz. It finishes dry, not bone dry, and is just really easy to drink! Wildly popular bubbles, and with good reason.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

2012 Gilbert Jacquesson Vintage Brut Champagne
Review Date: 08-21-2018
When I first saw the Gilbert Jacquesson wines come in, I was excited to try them and thought to myself that if nothing else, the Jacquesson name is obviously a good one in the region! That said, this 2012 vintage Brut Champagne is fantastic, showing the pedigree of this top quality vintage as well as the intensity of nicely mature, massale selection Pinot Meunier. Bright and red fruited, with plenty of mineral drive and biscuity notes combining in this complete bottle of Champagne. Highly recommended.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle "Cold Creek Vineyard" Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 08-14-2018
A big, old vine driven Cab at a modest $20 price, the Cold Creek Vineyard shows layers of rich dark fruit and savory, scruffy sage brush flavors. While the nose show bright top notes of blue fruit and baking spice from the oak, flavors are definitely dark, chewy, and a faithful representation of Washington's Columbia Valley. I think I can see both long time and newer Cab drinkers getting really into this wine.

Tequila Montejima Blanco (750ml)
Review Date: 08-14-2018
Montejima opens with a clean, salty and straightforward agave driven profile. On the palate, it feels expensive, with a weighty mouth feel that reminds me of several other more famous labels which go for $40 and up. Level up that 'rita or sipping tequila!
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart

2016 Carlisle "Palisades Vineyard" Napa Valley Petite Sirah
Review Date: 08-14-2018
There is no doubt about the pedigree of Palisades Petite Sirah, and boy does it show in this bottle of wine. Loads of dark and blue skinned fruit aromas, with additional notes of graphite and dried tangerine peel , lead to a palate that is broadly structured, vertical, mineral and stacked. It's a real mouthful of wine that does not lack detail or drinkability - now, later, and many, many years later. Strongly recommended heirloom Napa vineyard based wine for your cellar!

2016 Substance "Sunset Vineyard" Columbia Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 08-14-2018
From the parched mesa of the interior Columbia Valley, this is ripe and structured Sauvignon Blanc. Do not expect gooseberries, grassiness or for that matter anything on the tropical side of the fruit spectrum. There are rich yellow and citrus fruits, along with an underlying lightly toasted oak note which seems to become less prominent in the glass as the wine opens up and continues to reveal this grape's fresh and refreshing attributes. Tasty, original Sauvignon Blanc!

2011 Roda I Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 08-14-2018
Roda, located one winery up the bend in the road from Lopez de Heredia, has long been at the vanguard of tradition - particularly with their old vine, en vaso trained Tempranillo - and innovation. Theirs are always intensely flavored, aromatic, spicy, densely structured wines. For me, their evolution of late has been to dial back the new barrels and extraction techniques, while not abandoning the focused yet lushly fruited style which continues to make them some of our favorite Riojas. Particularly for those who are used to top quality wines from Napa and the right bank of Bordeaux - where rich, structured fruit bolstered by top quality oak are stylistic hallmarks -Roda's wines will not disappoint. That said, they also have Rioja's thread of chalky minerality and age quite nicely. Roda I is not their most expensive wine, but when well executed as with this delicious 2011, it is my favorite.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart
JS 98 DC 95

2016 Altovinum Evodia Garnacha Calatayud
Review Date: 08-14-2018
Garnacha is often times cited by winemakers and other industry professionals for its similarity to Pinot Noir, for its ability to take on a variety of flavor profiles depending upon where it is planted, when it is picked, how it is vinified and aged, and so on. At its core, though, Garnacha tends to make fresh, light to medium bodied reds that are incredibly food friendly. At the high end, you have something transcendent like Chateau Rayas - by many accounts a top quality Grand Cru Burg like experience (and often better). At the value end, though Garnacha wins over PN, hands down, 6-0 6-0. If it were little league baseball we would need the slaughter rule. Juicy, fresh, generously fruited wine like Evodia is a perfect example of how good it gets, for very little money spent, with this grape variety.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
JD 91

2015 Casarena "Owen's Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 08-13-2018
Here's a little known secret, even amongst Cab lovers: Argentina has some really good stuff. While we have talked up the $10-$15 values, there are some fantastic overachieving examples in the $20-$40 range. Take the Owen's Vineyard, for example, whose Lujan de Cuyo (old vine capital of Mendoza) fruit yields this supple, elegantly fruited Cabernet. Perusing my colleagues' reviews, there are no shortage of mentions of "old school Sonoma valley,"old school Napa," and the like. While it makes for delicious drinking, now, this should age well over a 6-8 year window.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
RP 94 W&S 93

2013 Negretti Barolo
Review Date: 08-01-2018
I cannot, will not, tire of good Barolo. And given the bounty of 2013 Barolo that has been loaded from winery to port, to Oakland and eventually to us, I am counting myself lucky as a fan of these wines. This latest Barolo arrival from Negretti leads with lovely scents of fennel, turning a bit darker towards licorice, then continuing to open up with scents of blackberries, cherries, almond liqueur, marzipan and top end floral notes. On the palate, the flavors are authoritative, purely and intensely fruity while maintaining great freshness that invites perhaps a slightly larger sip than you might suspect of such a young Barolo. Fantastic stuff.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
JS 94

2005 Tullibardine "The Murray" Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 07-31-2018
At a full cask strength of 56% abv, this beauty manages to be aromatically compelling as well as exquisitely balanced - even before a drop of water is added. Aromas of dried apples, apricots and vanilla pastry cream lead to intense, delicious flavors, featuring plenty of ripe stone fruit that really grip the palate. Without a doubt, this is as original and tasty a highland single malt as I have had in quite a long while. Really good.
Price: $74.99 Add To Cart

Cutty Sark "Prohibition Edition" Blended Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 07-31-2018
This venerable, BBR (Berry Bros. & Rudd) created brand is back, and at $15 the price for a go to every day bottle of Scotch does not get any better. The quality is good, really good. As I was joking earlier today, I'd like to think of this as the Scotch equivalent of a Werther's original that grandpa grabs out of his pocket: old school, reliably tasty, not necessarily the latest and greatest but absolutely classic and delicious.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
WA 90 WE 90

2008 Nicolas Feuillatte Vintage Brut Champagne
Review Date: 07-31-2018
Like many others out there, we have long extolled the virtues of grower Champagnes. The quality of the vineyard work, transparency of great terroir, and individual stories behind these small, multi-generational houses not only make for easy to tell stories, they often times produce superior wine. That said, I have to hand it to Nicolas Feuillatte, a very large CM (cooperative manipulant) house which produced this delicious 2008 vintage Champagne. All the hallmarks of the 2008 vintage are on full display: intensity of flavor, dry extract, and lively acidity. Coupled with a judicious dosage and appealing underlying yeasty qualities, it makes for a solid value bottle of Champagne. Great vintage bubbles under $45? I'm in!

2015 Felsina "Fontalloro" Toscana
Review Date: 07-31-2018
Shortly after pouring the 2015 Felsina Fontalloro for colleagues and then myself, I nosed the contents of my glass and half listened to the shop talk dispensed around the tasting room. A few minutes later, I was still lost in the aromatics of this beautfiul Fontalloro, and reminded myself that I ought to actually taste it! Macerated wild berries and kirsch flirt together on the nose, which leads to a dense and structured, intensely fruited palate; it's as if Fontalloro and Rancia traded places this year in that the Fontalloro seems like the relative heavyweight whereas I had thought it's typically the other way around? I'm no Felsina expert, but with wines as consistently delicious and rewarding as theirs, I'm happy to continue the work of figuring it all out by tasting. And buying (and drinking).

2016 Villa Poggio Salvi Rosso di Montalcino
Review Date: 07-31-2018
A nicely structured, appealingly firm Rosso di Montalcino, Villa Poggio's 2016 leads with bright red fruits and hints of graphite, opening a bit to retain a rather taut, linear style, with appealing tension. Very good value and style on display here.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2017 Villa Poggio Salvi "Caspagnolo" Chianti Colli Senesi
Review Date: 07-31-2018
A sturdy, mixed berry fruited and slightly foresty Chianti from the Siena Hills, Villa Poggio Salvi brings solid value for the price point. Sure, you can pair with any of your favorite Tuscan inspired dishes, but feel free to mix it up with a marinated skirt steak, grilled sausage or pork burger.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart

2017 Torti Pinot Noir Pavia
Review Date: 07-31-2018
While some Pinot Noirs are light, floral, subtle, others richer, flashier and more fruit forward, this Torti is neither, with a simple, nearly candied red fruit quality that makes it just about right for drinking on its own or with small bites prior to a meal. Light, fruit forward, easy going Pinot for the summertime.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine de Bila Haut "Occultum Lapidem" Côtes de Roussillon-Villages Latour de France
Review Date: 07-24-2018
This is one big boy, with an impressive display of dark fruits, spice and licorice. It's not fruit only, though, as there is a meaty, almost salty mineral quality to this Roussillon wine. Always popular with our customers, and I can absolutely see why as it's well made, packed with flavor and should cellar well in the short to mid-term.
Price: $23.99 Add To Cart
RP 94

2014 Varner "Upper Picnic Block - Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 07-24-2018
A big and ripe Varner PN from this warmer vintage, I was impressed by the flavor intensity in this bottling, though it does not come at the expense of overall balance or interesting savory development. On the nose, ripe fruit contrasts well with foresty notes, leading to a brawny and structured palate of perfectly ripe Santa Cruz mountain fruit. While I'd prefer to cellar this a bit longer, there will undoubtedly be many folks who love the way this wine tastes now for its impressive heft and richness. One more note: while I suspect one of my colleagues and/or a professional reviewer also mentioned it, this is our last chance to enjoy a new release of Varner wine from this special vineyard as they will no longer have access to the fruit, so don't miss out..
Price: $44.95 Add To Cart
RP 95 VN 95

2015 Felsina "Rancia" Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 07-24-2018
This is an incredibly lively, energetic Rancia, certainly the freshest and most high toned I have tasted of the past few releases we have featured. Bright red fruited aromas also show well balanced spice notes, leading to a fresh palate that -while it is tempting now for your bisteca fiorentina or tagliatelle, sauasage and pecorino -will reward mid to long-term cellaring. A must have.

2016 Mas Codina Xarel-lo Penedes
Review Date: 07-24-2018
As much as we love their cava and rosé cava, Mas Codina has really raised the bar with their table wines of late: their Cab is perhaps our most underrated Cab under $15, and this Xarel-lo is fantastic! Xarel-lo is an important component in the cava blend, and while it is increasingly popular when done as a still wine, there are not many versions that show the grape as beautifully as Mas Codina's. Bright fruits combine with salty minerality and a subtle almond note in this refreshing, easy to drink yet far from simple white. As much as I enjoyed this wine when I first tasted it last year with winemaker Toni Garriga, I have to say that it is absolutely singing right now. Very highly recommended!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2012 Louis Brochet "Alain" Millesime Brut Champagne
Review Date: 07-24-2018
A terrific bottle of Champagne at any price, let alone for under $35, this 2012 vintage bottle of Louis Brochet is as delicious, convincing and all purpose/crowd pleasing as they come. The intensity, chalkiness and palate presence reminds me of Michel Arnould Champagnes, though as this is "merely" 1er and not Grand Cru rated vineyards, you're getting a vintage Champagne here for very little money. All of us who tasted this could not get over the overall deliciousness and incredible persistence of this wine. Highly recommended.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine du Somail "Vin de Plume" Minervois
Review Date: 07-17-2018
Dark fruited berry aromas show a marked pungency as well. Lots of rich fruit on the front palate is balanced out by a savory, rustic quality and abundant tannins, towards the finish. A countrified, southern French throwback with loads of character!
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2016 Arboleda Pinot Noir Aconcagua Costa
Review Date: 07-17-2018
Next level Pinot Noir need not: a.) come from CA b.) come from Burgundy or c.) cost $30 or more. In this case, we have a beautiful, high toned, red fruited, varietally true example from coastal Chile (12 km from the Pacific). I love this wine for its freshness, its linear quality and surprising length on the finish. Professional critics seem to be on the same page with this wine, though unfortunately we only received about one-third of the amount we attempted to order, so this Pinot deal is not likely to be long for this world. That said, we still wanted to spread the news about this delicious, highly recommended sub $20 Pinot from Arboleda.

2017 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre
Review Date: 07-17-2018
Always a bit juicier and rounder than other comparably priced Sancerre, I feel like in the 2017 vintage these style points are all the more apparent at this domaine. The fruit is rather tropical, nearly heading in a guava like direction, though it still retains good acidity and the overall balance we all hope for in a Sancerre. This is an easy pick to enjoy well chilled on its own, or with a large green salad, a nice loaf of Tartine bread and your favorite Sonoma or Loire Valley goat cheese.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

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