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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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2010 Los Autores "El Brujo" Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 02-05-2019
Los Autores is of course Spanish for "The Auteurs," and the idea behind this series of limited, top quality Riojas is to pay homage to some of the most talented creative minds in the region, in this case to none other than the legendary Ezequiel "El Brujo" Garcia. This is a selection of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo, and even a tiny portion of white Viura grapes (as was common back in the day), allowed to age in Ezequiel's hand picked barrels (which were almost always some of the oldest still in use at the winery, typically 8-10 years old) for over three years prior to additional ageing in bottle. The structured dark fruit, quiet intensity, balanced acidity and fine tannins speak to a wonderful 2010 vintage and to time tested practices in the cellar. Whether this classic will endure for as long as the Tondonias, Imperiales and 904's of the world is almost besides the point - though I suspect that it will - and the really cool thing about this collectible is the legacy and insider Rioja history that the wine conveys. Our "El Brujo" gran reserva Rioja bottling is undoubtedly one of the most special wines we have picked up as a direct import from Spain.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2011 Cune "Imperial" Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 01-31-2019
Cune's Imperial is always one of the Gran Reserva releases that I most look forward to. The profile, one might say over in Rioja, is "alta, alta" - meaning, it comes from vineyards in the coldest part of Rioja Alta. This is the epitome of structured, nicely chiseled, high-toned Rioja that is built for the long haul. I would concede that 2011 was a particularly warm and dry year, which from my experience really benefited Rioja Alta wineries that have the ability to select and blend from many excellent sites. Drinking beautifully now, this will continue to blossom in bottle and develop complexity over the next decade, while it will drink well and last well beyond that. A gran reserva that is not to be missed!
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
WE 97 RP 93

2012 Pinna Fidelis Vendimia Seleccionada Ribera del Duero
Review Date: 01-30-2019
Full bodied, generously fruited and perfectly balanced with meaty, savory notes, this is a wonderful Ribera del Duero that has entered its prime drinking window. It is grown in 30-year-old vineyards, primarily those at altitude on the south side of the Duero river, in clay and stony soils that contain large amounts of limestone. This produces later ripening fruit, with balanced levels of acidity that enable improvement with bottle age. Pair this with grilled lamb chops and some crisp, Hasselback potatoes topped with chopped rosemary for a delicious meal and memorable food and wine match.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
DC 97 JS 91

2017 Domaine de la Bila Haut "Les Vignes de Bila Haut" Côtes du Roussillon Blanc
Review Date: 01-24-2019
This typical blend of Roussillon white grapes is bright and briny, with a crisp and slightly phenolic finish which adds interest and balance. In the current line-up of Bila Haut wines we carry, this delicious Grenache Blanc based white is my favorite!
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart
JD 90 RP 90

Dérot-Delugny "Cuvée Fondateurs" Brut
Review Date: 01-22-2019
I was incredibly excited to try this 100% Fromenteau, but as so often happens with great wines, the terroir and style overrides the grape variety. While I didn't get much of an indication of Pinot Gris, the wine is a joy to drink, the Derot Delugny is classy, with golden fruits, a fine bead, and a nicely dry palate impression. There is something old fashioned and timeless about the flavors, texture and overall impression of this wonderful Champagne.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2017 Domaine de la Bila Haut "Les Vignes de Bila Haut" Côtes du Roussillon Rouge
Review Date: 01-21-2019
This Chapoutier produced bottling has a consistent, slighly spicy, sweetly fruited profile year to year. On the nose, some slightly reductive notes also show sweet dark fruits, licorice and a subtly grainy, breakfast cereal quality. Red and dark fruit flavors on the palate, with hints of candied violets in the background, combine to make this a decent, inexpensive, fairly priced weeknight wine.

2014 Marqués de Murrieta "Finca Ygay" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 01-15-2019
This is as solid, consistent and tasty a bottle of old world, sub $20 red wine as you are likely to find. While we are clearly towards the top of the class for Rioja, the quality of Marqués de Murrieta's reserva bottling consistently places it favorably amongst other category leading, similarly priced reds. 2014 was a successful vintage, one that borrows a bit of the structure and reserve of the excellent 2010 vintage, while showing a trace of the precocious, savory flavor development of 2013. The freshness of this wine becomes particularly apparent on the mid palate, where red fruits join the dark skinned ones, and even more so on the poised and limestone marked finish.

2012 Bodegas Altanza Lealtanza Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 12-11-2018
We have stocked Lealtanza's wine in the past, and have found the quality to be high, so it's perhaps not a surprise that this wine was the only platinum medal winner in this Fall's Decanter Asia Wine Awards. Produced from 100% Tempranillo, the fruit in this wine is lovely: primarily red, with a combination of fresh and dried fruit profiles on the nose, made more complex by the sort of savory, meaty notes which Rioja invariably picks up after some time in bottle. With its relatively lighter weight tannins and fresh palate profile, this is a Reserva for drinking now and over the next several years.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
DC 97

1995 Loch Lomond ("All Malt") 22 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 12-05-2018
This has got to be one of the most supple, easy to drink, and dare I say it, single *malt* like single grain scotch whiskies I have ever tasted. I admit that single grain whiskies - with their individualistic, spicy, armagnac meets rye like qualities - are not often my favorites. That said, I love this Loch Lomond for its creaminess and light, drinkable, yet far from simple, qualities. It delivers the goods, and over delivers on price. Highly recommended.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

2004 Fettercairn 14 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 12-05-2018
Have a soft spot for unadorned, ex bourbon, workhorse single malt? Not at all candied, just a bit grainy and deliciously balanced, old timey stuff? Then I would suggest ye olde Fettercairn. I first encountered this whisky my first year working at K&L, and ever since then whenever we have scored a cask I have yet to be disappointed. Fettercairn is great scotch whisky. It's not showy, it's just impeccably made and always hits the spot.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

2006 Isle of Jura 12 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 12-05-2018
I have fond memories of Isla of Jura's distillery bottled 12 year old single malt, from about 5 or so years ago now. I remember the nicely burnished color, the intense but not over the top sweetness balanced by a subtly savory chewy quality. Our Old Particular bottling delivered on my expectations for this distillery, and then some. Showing a honeyed quality with more persistence and depth of flavor than many other 10-12 year old single malts, there is also an appealing saline quality towards the finish that sets Isle of Jura apart. Tasty and likely to become a go to for many folks. Anticipate what you need now, it won't likely stick around our inventory much longer.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart

1996 Auchroisk 21 Year Old "Hepburn's Choice" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 12-05-2018
This is an example of a cask strength whisky that is surprisingly supple, balanced, rich and showy, just a complete tasting single malt, before any water is added. In fact, I don't think you need to play around with water on this one, it simply tastes great and gives so much right out of the gate. Soft and a hint tropical, with suggestions of manila mango on the nose, this is an easy to drink, delicious single malt for under $90.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

1996 Tobermory 22 Year Old "Old Malt Cask" K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 12-05-2018
This is a phenomenal value in aged single malt. It has an original, nearly tropical fruit profile on the nose, with a supple and very easy to drink quality on the palate. 22 year old single malt for well under $100? Yes, and good single malt at that. Recommended.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

2016 Chateau de L'Ou "Infiniment" Côtes Catalanes Rouge
Review Date: 12-04-2018
Loaded with red fruit flavors and spice, this is an easy drinking, expressive, crowd pleasing Syrah from the Cotes Catalanes in the south of France. Wonderfully fragrant, the wine's fruit and structure seems to lean predominantly towards the front palate, with supple and carefully built tannins on the back end. So this is a wine to enjoy now and for the next 5-6 years, no need to stash these away for years in your cellar!
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
JD 94

2015 Black Slate "La Vilella Alta" Priorat
Review Date: 12-04-2018
If the name "black slate," which refers to the predominant soil type of the Priorat, sounds familiar, it is probably due to our having emailed about a few other tasty, but very different bottlings from this producer. As delicious as the other two, single village bottlings of Black Slate were, we have one more for you this year, and the La Vilella Alta bottling just might be the most open knit, expressive, juicy and delicious Priorat we have featured all year. Loaded with blackberry fruit and subtly floral characteristics, balanced by a fresh line of acidity, this if terrific Priorat, and a real treat to have such a wonderful intro to the wines of this region for under $17.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
JD 94 RP 90

2012 Miguel Merino "Vitola" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-28-2018
Though it is priced as an entry level offering, there is so much more personality, as well as house style and village typicity, in this $20 bottle than most. Primarily Tempranillo, mostly planted in the 1970's, all of it from 2-3 different vineyards in the prized Rioja Alta village of Briones, think of this as the Riojano equivalent of a village level Gevrey-Chambertin. Serious red and black cherry flavors show warmth and spicy, savory richness, as well as clean chalk and balanced acidity - no mean feat in this vintage. Drinking great now, you can stash some away for mid-term cellaring as well. This is easily my favorite bottling of everyday Rioja in the store.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2012 Miguel Merino Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-28-2018
A terrific vintage of the reserva bottling, this shows a deeper, more brooding quality, with more savory nuances than the entry level Vitola reserva. Flavors show dark cherry, with the savory meatiness following the nose, and a decidedly chalky minerality which is so typical of good Reserva level Rioja in general and Miguel's top quality, Briones sourced reservas in particular. A fine example of the quality you can find amongst the small grower, single village producers of Rioja.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2016 Domaine Petroni Corse Rouge (Corsica)
Review Date: 11-28-2018
Though they produce one of our most popular rosés, Domaine Petroni also makes tasty, expressive Corsican red. Red and dark fruits on the nose combine with something spicy, nearly cola like but without the sweet notes. Medium bodied on the palate, the flavors are fresh and the tannins provide just enough grip to keep it all balanced. Terrific value for the money in an authentic Corsican red.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$9.99
JD 94

2016 Domaine de la Réserve d'O "La Réserve d'O" Terrasses du Larzac
Review Date: 11-28-2018
Aromas show plenty of generous, gently warmed berries, but with layers and nuances that keep you returning to the glass. Forward on the palate, with the Syrah in particular standing out, this is a ripe, yet honest expression, with tasty flavors and good grip on the finish. The good folks at the Domaine de la Reserva d'O are great examples of the type of talent and originality you can find these days in the Languedoc!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2015 Domaine Les Pins Bourgueil Vieilles Vignes
Review Date: 11-28-2018
You can tell from the deeply pitched black cherry nose that this comes from a warmer Loire Valley vintage. That fact combined with the older vine material make this surprisingly approachable. That said, there is also the refeshing complexity on the nose and palate, the whiff of a forest following a soaking rain, hints of grape pips on the palate in addition to the berry fruit. All of these provide refreshment and nuance, which are arguably a few of the best aspects of Cabernet Franc. Grab some for now and a few more to age several years in the cellar.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2016 Domaine de la Fruitière "Gneiss de Bel Abord" Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
Review Date: 11-28-2018
Few wines of any type are as easy to drink, and so readily hit the spot, as good Muscadet. Whether as an aperitive or a perfect foil to a lighter meal, Muscadet is absolutely the ticket. This one is all bright, juicy citrus fruit, with a pleasingly round texture. Given that it's the season for braises and pan sauces, this white is also a classic "some for the pot, some for the chef" type of wine.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

2017 Gentilini Robola of Cephalonia Greece
Review Date: 11-14-2018
Greece - so well known for its numerous diverse, beautiful islands - is also a prolific producer of a variety of island wines. Cephalonia is one of the islands and Robola a very rare white variety which grows on it, producing a wine with delicious fruit, crispy acidity and a mouth watering, tingly, salty aspect as well. Roasted sardines, grilled calamari, or even your favorite poke bowl recipe would all be fantastic with this one of a kind island Greek isle white.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2010 Domaine de la Jaufrette Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 11-14-2018
This is arguably the most serious in the line-up of honestly crafted, staunchly old school Grenache based wines from Domaine de la Jaufrette. Here, there are no grapes picked at 16% potential alcohol, there are no consultants, no steady influx of wine critics and journalists lavishing praise and perfect scores for wines from perfect vintages, no mentions of any "tour de force in winemaking." Got it? This is simply a rustic, earthy, salt of the earth type CdP, well made, made for food, and destined for greatness, as long as your definition of "greatness" doesn't involve perfection.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2010 Domaine de la Jaufrette Vacqueyras
Review Date: 11-14-2018
I had to chuckle when reading our product description for Jaufrette's wines, comparing them to the unapologetically traditional Riojas of Lopez de Heredia. There used to be a time where I had to compare those wines to similarly old school Italian and French producers to attract interest. These days, however, the old school and its emphasis on transparency, quality, and time tested techniques (and terroir) is back, and back with a vengeance. This Vacqueyras steps up the intensity, structure and black fruit when compared with the Cotes du Rhone. It's two years older, but tastes more than two years younger, due to the quality of the vintage and terroir. Intense black fruit and a pleasing salt licorice quality combine with structured tannins and a savory complexity that are beginning to show so much interest now, but will reward patient cellaring as well. A true original from the southern Rhone valley.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2012 Domaine de la Jaufrette Côtes-du-Rhone
Review Date: 11-14-2018
Fans of old school southern Rhone wines, rejoice! Your prayers for a delicious, authentic, traditionally styled Grenache based wine - the likes of which are so rarely made these days - have been answered. In addition to the appealing bottle age of Jaufrette's CDR, we have the opportunity here to taste the dusty, earthy, savory qualities of old school Grenache, to perceive the grip of the grape's tannins, and enjoy a truly delicious food wine, ideally with a simply prepared, tasty meal (try stewed beef or lamb and a root vege/potato mash with the meat's natural juices as gravy). Add a green salad and cheese plate, et voila. Instant gratification - old school French bistro style.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2015 Bodegas Palacios Remondo "La Montesa" Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 11-14-2018
There is a depth and complexity of fruit on the nose that not only places this Rioja as best in class, but probably in the running for best in show at under $15. Mixed berry and red fruit aromas show the warmth of the zone and the Mediterranean qualities of the vintage, but also the sparkle of good quality, clean grapes, carefully harvested, skillfully vinified and aged by one of the Spanish masters. Fresh, plump, spicy and downright delicious on the palate, this is undoubtedly the best vintage of La Montesa ever made - drink it up!

2016 Passopisciaro "Passorosso" Etna Rosso Sicilia
Review Date: 11-07-2018
This wine has been notably improving over the years. Whereas in a few past vintages I have found the wine a bit too forward and obvious, there is more nuance, earth and character evident this year. In terms of flavor, think Pinot Noir like fruit, but a bit drier and chewier, Barolo like structure but not quite as austere. Delicious Etna wine for your seared ahi tuna or marinated grilled swordfish.
Price: $31.99 Add To Cart
RP 91 WE 91

2013 Ronchi "Ronchi" Barbaresco
Review Date: 11-07-2018
A powerful wine, the Ronchi is young Barbaresco that vies for your attention as soon as you nose the glass and catch the strong whiff of blackberries and tar - lots of tar. Classic Nebbiolo aromas lead to a grippy palate that obviously wants some time to soften but should develop nicely over the years. Tasty fruit and solid structural bones make the Ronchi a classic Piemontese cellar candidate.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
VN 93

2017 Clos Henri "Petit Clos" Marlborough Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-07-2018
Showing off bright plum and cherry fruits, balanced acidity and a round, juicy quality, it's nearly impossible to find fault with this well produced Pinot. For a Thanksgiving or seasonal Pinot Noir pick, the Clos Henri fits the bill nicely, and should please a wide range of palates heading into the holidays.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 93 WE 92

2017 Mt Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc North Canterbury
Review Date: 11-07-2018
This SB is not from Malborough, but rather North Canterbury (located a bit further south), and as such distinguishes itself from the pack with a delicious, ripe stone fruit driven profile, with great intensity, minerality and length. For $15 I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's the best SB I've had this year, because it is! If you're a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, by all means give this one a try.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
W&S 93 WS 90

2011 Miguel Merino Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-01-2018
For fans of rich and spicy Rioja, it does not get any better than Gran Reserva level wines, which in this case gets an added boost from a sun filled, warm vintage in 2011. I have found the best wines from 2011 to be delicious and precocious, having come close to reaching what Miguel calls "cruise altitude" at this relatively early stage. That said, this will age nicely in the mi-term as well. Some of my most memorable bottles of Miguel Merino wines have invariably been his richly styled, delicious Gran reserva bottlings.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2015 Miguel Merino "La Loma" Rioja
Review Date: 11-01-2018
As Miguel Merino continues his quest to produce some of the finest single village Riojas around, he has entrusted his son (also Miguel) with the winemaking for their first single vineyard bottling, La Loma. First planted in 1946, La Loma is a vineyard that yields spectacular quality fruit, on full display in this beautiful wine. There is a layered, focused intensity of flavor in this wine, without some of the more typical spicy notes of oak which frame the rest of the Miguel Merino range, and with an added tension from higher acidity. Delicious now, but capable of longer term ageing, this is a tremendous first effort in producing what is likely to become their most highly coveted bottling. A delicious expression and a current take on the great wines of Rioja.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
JS 92 RP 92

2010 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-01-2018
Does it get any better than the Reserva bottling from Casa Juan? In the top quality 2010 vintage, I don't think that it does. Our favorite old school Rioja producer (and to this day, still one of Spain’s best kept secrets) knocked it out of the park with the fantastic 2010 Reserva. Delicious pitch perfect fruit and savoriness for now, some years later, and beyond.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2017 Stolpman "Para Maria" Santa Barbara County Red Blend
Review Date: 11-01-2018
This primarily Syrah driven blend is fantastic - I strongly suggest trying a bottle. Aromas suggest freshly cracked black pepper and licorice, as well as a forward, juicy "carbonic" aspect which, without getting too much in the weeds, simply refers to how the wine is made and the fact that it is more fresh and refreshing than most California Syrahs out there. To that point, this wine seems to take the forward quality of California fruit and balance it out with some old world, refreshing refinement. Dare I say it reminds me of a well made Bierzo (Spanish) red? Kudos to the Stolpmans for this cool project and for producing another delicious red wine.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
VN 92 - 95

2015 Xanadu "DJL" Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 11-01-2018
Cabernet does not need to be a heavy handed, oaky, tannic red. Nicely contrasting this style, the Xanadu shows class and sophistication - lots of both, in fact - with fresh fruit aromas; nosing it reminds me of a visit to one of Swanton's U-pick berry farms. On the palate there are juicy, fresh red fruit, hints of eucalyptus and supple tannins. An impressive Cab that delivers significantly more than you might expect for $15.

2015 Xanadu Chardonnay Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 11-01-2018
Serious Chardonnay! Opening with scents of beautiful winter citrus - tangerine and meyer lemon in particular leap out of the glass- this is a wine that is bright, energetic, expansive, and under $20! Chardonnays that taste this good usually cost at least 30, maybe even $40. Great stuff.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 91 VN 90

2015 Nelle Wines Central Coast Syrah
Review Date: 10-23-2018
This is a big, brawny Syrah, with spicy notes of dark fruits on the nose, opening up to brighter blueberry and huckleberry fragrances as the wine breathers. The same happens on the palate, which is initially quite spicy and savory, with smoked meat and peppercorn flavors giving way to red and dark fruits. While this is a heftier expression, it is not all fruit and bluster, as some fairly classic Syrah characteristics combine to make this a very well put together, serious bottle of wine!

2015 Black Slate "Porrera" Priorat
Review Date: 10-16-2018
Our second, less expensive Black Slate bottling, this is primarily Garnacha blended with Carinena, showcasing the strong, generously structured 2015 vintage, as well as the village of Porrera, with its relatively cooler temperature and decidedly fresher evenings to to its eastern position in Priorat. Aromas and flavors of red plum confit show a combination of richness and balanced bright acidity, as well as a gentle, underlying savory wild thyme quality that speaks to the personality of the Priorat.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
JD 93 RP 91

2014 d'Arenberg "The Dead Arm" Shiraz McLaren Vale South Australia
Review Date: 10-16-2018
The Dead Arm is always a terrific expression of Shiraz, and this 2014 is no exception. Aromas of blackerries, tar, clove and other baking spices are forward, yet nuanced, deep and layered. On the palate, the fruit is textbook, higher toned McLaren Vale shiraz, with a freshness and structural backbone that makes it so tasty now, but promises a long future ahead for those who prefer to age it.

2014 Ramey "Platt Vineyard" Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 10-16-2018
This Chardonnay completely took me by surprise; it's a serious, high acid style that seems to just be emerging and beginning to show its stuff. For any long-time fan of Chardonnay and white Burgundy, the fact that a wine from a great, cooler Sonoma Coast vineyard, made by Ramey, is as good as this should be no surprise, but as always tasting is believing and after tasting, I am a believer. Rich citrus fruit show terrific presence, with a cut and brightness that places it on par with very good, comparably priced Burgundy from a more classic vintage. Yes, this is on the level of comparably priced 2014 white Burg (99.9% of which are long gone..) Don't miss out on this one.
Price: Hidden View Price
RP 95 WE 93

2013 Andrew Will "Sorella" Horse Heaven Hills Red Blend
Review Date: 10-09-2018
A terrific example of what old vines (in this case from Champoux vineyard) are capable of in eastern Washington, this Cab blend shows warm aromas of fruit and hints of dried herbs and a structured palate. In terms of the quality of the fruit and tannins this is so different from Sonoma and Napa Cab, with a drier palate impression and a solid structure that betrays its $50 price. A strong cellar candidate for all you Cab fans out there..

2016 Casa Castillo Monastrell Jumilla
Review Date: 10-09-2018
There is no producer in Spain that has a track record with Mourvedre (Monastrell) that even approaches that of Casa Castillo. Imagine if Domaine Tempier made sub $15 wine from just outside of the Bandol region; that is the quality and pedigree here. While there is plenty of peppery fruit on the nose, the palate shows great balance and leaves an overall dry impression, with a combination of bright, dark skinned and just a hint of red fruits as well. Terrific value.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2017 Gaia Estate "Thalassitis" Assyrtiko Santorini Greece
Review Date: 10-09-2018
Call me crazy, but I see lots of value in a $32 white wine (#corkdork), made from indigenous grape varieties that grow on own rooted, decades old vines planted to volcanic soils (#santorini), carefully trained in basket shapes to protect against winds (#islandlife), and then are carefully fermented, aged, bottled and shipped thanks to containerized shipping and distribution (#modernlife), presented to us as an option to buy to enjoy with our favorite grilled and sauteed fish and shellfish (#firstworldproblems). This is a fantastic, stone fruit and salt laden white wine that is perfectly suited for the table, whether living on or off island. Highly recommended.
Price: $31.99 Add To Cart
RP 95 WE 90

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.

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.

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
JD 92 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

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.

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