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Staff Favorites - John Sumners

John Sumners

Reviews

2016 Bodegas Muga Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 03-10-2020
Flashy and extroverted on the nose, this pours out an intoxicating bouquet of crushed blueberry, blackberry compote, and ripe black cherry complemented by cedar, sweet tobacco, leather, baking spices, graphite, and toffee. It's lush and generous on the palate, yet with a refreshing focus and plenty of classical structural poise. This rides a fine line between modern and old-school Rioja and does it extremely well. A classic steakhouse wine from Muga, and a spectacular value at the price.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2017 Esporão "Colheita" Red Blend Alentejo Portugal
Review Date: 02-07-2020
This blend of Aragonês (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Touriga Franca from the Alentejo region 75 miles east of Lisbon proves a sturdy companion at the table. Zesty notes of ripe raspberry, dried cherry, and fresh plums combine with accents of clove, black tea, brick dust, red rose, leather, and tobacco to form an admirably rustic profile. Possessing ample tannin and countryside character, it positively cries out for service with fatty Portuguese/Spanish sausages and meaty stews. Fans of Carignan will find a lot to love in this tasty and unpretentious bottling.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

2016 Adega de Penalva "Indigena" Tinto Dao
Review Date: 02-07-2020
Inviting tones of poached plums, black fig, ripe black cherry, and black raspberry intermingle with complexities of mulling spices, violets, sandalwood, and black tea in this charming blend from the Dão region of central Portugal. The woodsy spice notes of the 30% Jaen (Mencia in Spain) really shine through. Medium-bodied, harmonious, genteel, silky textured, and extremely well priced, it's a perfect choice for casual dinners and gatherings with friends. Undeniably delicious, and over-delivering at the price.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2013 Quinta dos Murças Reserva Douro Portugal
Review Date: 02-07-2020
A distinctive sense of place shines through in this phenomenal Douro red. Notes of baked black plum, black raspberry, and currant are framed by hot stone, leather, sweet tobacco leaf, espresso, baking chocolate, dark spice, and a dash of vanilla. There's a great convergence of both power and poise, with fresh focus and well-integrated tannin carrying the flavors through a very long finish. Devotees of the famed wines of Ribera del Duero in Spain would be well served taking a trip downriver for this striking example of a classically Portuguese old-vine Douro blend.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

2016 Peter Franus "Brandlin Vineyard" Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 01-27-2020
Brandied red and black cherry, cassis, blueberry compote, and ripe black fig take center stage on the nose of this rich mountain Cab. Add to that additional notes of sweet tobacco, cedar, licorice, mocha, baking spices, vanilla, toffee, and a touch of pine straw, and you've got another complex, layered standout from the spectacular 2016 vintage. Silky textured yet perfectly focused and balanced, this is just as easily a winter evening sipping wine as it is a steakhouse star. Drinks better than many Napa Cabs costing twice the price.

2017 Quinta Vale do Meao "Meandro" Douro
Review Date: 01-24-2020
With its fresh, rich raspberry/boysenberry and dried red cherry fruit, this tasty red blend from the Douro immediately demands attention. Spicy notes of pink peppercorn, clove, and oregano/sage pair up with vanilla, leather, red rose, and coffee-toffee to provide further complexity and interest. Well structured with crunchy/chewy tannins and a long finish, it's an obvious go-to with roasted meats, rustic stews, Iberian sausages, or salty cheeses. Fans of reds from the southern coast of France and the south of Italy should definitely give this hearty Portuguese bottling a try.

2015 Jaume Giró i Giró Brut Nature Elaboraciá Artesana Reserva
Review Date: 01-24-2020
Think Cava can't go toe-to-toe with Champagne in terms of complexity and overall harmony? This thrilling wine has something to say about that. Beautiful notes of Fuji apple, brioche, macadamia, lemon zest, wet stone, and a hint of baking spices entice on the nose. Add to that a creamy texture and a racy, bone-dry minerally finish, and you've got a Cava that can stand with Champagne at twice the price...all the while still retaining its distinctive "Cava-ness". Truly delicious and wonderfully versatile. At this price, it's a top candidate for your house bubbly.
Price: Hidden View Price

2016 Pedro Martinez Alesanco Garnacha Rioja
Review Date: 01-07-2020
Dramatic and rich on the nose with a core of raspberry/boysenberry reduction and cherry galette framed by notes of licorice, bay leaf, thyme, leather, vanilla, rose petal, baking chocolate, and pink peppercorn. While the richness of flavor carries through on the palate, a perfect core of fresh acidity and dusty tannin keeps the wine from being weighty or over-the-top. This is a great example of the richness that Spain achieves with Garnacha but with an unusual level of class and impeccable balance. Downright yummy. Loads of fun and begging for roasted leg of lamb or barbecued meats.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2016 Cultivar Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 01-05-2020
Beautiful nose of dried redcurrant, raspberry compote, and red cherry framed by tobacco, black tea, vanilla, pink peppercorn, rosemary, and cedar. It's distinctly red-fruited and more medium-bodied on the palate with fine focus, silky texture, and good harmony. This is a downright pretty, value Napa Cab suited for early drinking and food-versatility. Should be right at home with anything from a portobello burger to pork chops. Also a fine sip on its own.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2016 Jax Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 12-30-2019
Another knockout from star winemaker Kirk Venge. This is a classic Calistoga Cab from start to finish. Gorgeous nose of blackberry compote, black cherry, and cassis interwoven with mocha, tobacco, clove, cedar, licorice, and baking spices. Round and silky on the palate with excellent focus and no excessive heaviness. Long finish with just enough dusty tannin to give it structure and fine cellar potential, though it’s already drinking exceptionally well. Think Montelena Estate with more buoyant fruit and immediate appeal. This is a brilliant Cab for fifty bucks. Drinks WAY above its price point.
Price: $49.95 Add To Cart

2016 Ann Albert "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 12-17-2019
A graceful rendition from this legendary vineyard. Fresh and lively aromas of lemon curd, pineapple core, baked granny smith apple, rising sourdough, orange blossom, and white rose make an enticing initial impression. It comes across lithe and charming on the palate with a finishing touch of lime zest and macadamia. This is an extremely fine example of the wonderful elegance that can be coaxed from cool, coastal Santa Barbara fruit. While utterly delicious already, it should develop nicely over the next 5-7 years as well.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Michel Arnould "Réserve" Grand Cru Brut Verzenay Champagne
Review Date: 11-25-2019
Baked green apple, tart berry, and deep citrus tones lead the way in this richly flavored treat. Accents of nougat, hazelnut, pie crust, and wet stone round out the package. This is a spectacular value in the high-priced world of Grand Cru Champagne. Long, flavor-packed, classy, and impeccably focused, there are no rough edges. Forget your big-house NV Brut…this fabulously priced bubbly should be your new go-to.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2018 Field Recordings "Wonderwall" Edna Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-25-2019
Loaded with earthy spice and silky, focused fruit, this is a great representation of the cool coastal Edna Valley. Andrew Jones has hit this one out of the park with all of its pristine fruit, spicy complexity, freshness, and fun drinkability. You’d be hard-pressed at this price point to find a California Pinot with more balance and charm. Your “house Pinot” has arrived.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2017 Brewer-Clifton Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
Review Date: 11-21-2019
This is a textbook appellation-level expression of both the region and producer. Candied citrus rind, honeydew melon, white rose, sourdough, and chalk combine with hints of smokiness and toasted grain from the reductive winemaking style (no new oak used…only neutral barrels) on the nose. Zesty, intensely focused, and flavor-packed with brisk acidity, it is fabulous now, but will clearly age beautifully. A marriage of California coastal sunshine through a Chablis-like winemaking lens.