Luce della Vite Lucente 2007 ($24.99)
Owned by the Frescobaldi and Mondavi families. If what you’ve read about the 96 point Ruffino Modus impressed you, this is a another must have from Tuscany. I believe it’s about half sangiovese, with the remainder cab and merlot, which I think drives the wine at this stage of its life. This wine consistently scores in the high 80’s or 90’s, got 91 from Spectator this vintage, and I loved it. It’s definitely more modern and a little showy, like I said the merlot is showing nicely– very lush and supple fruit, but I thought it was impeccably balanced and will settle down and develop with even a little time in a cellar.
Penner Ash Pinot Noir 2008 ($35.99)
Lovely, elegant pinot from an terrific winemaker and pioneer in an exceptional vintage in Willamette Valley. 91 Spectator and Tanzer.
Torre del Falasco Valpolicella Ripsassa ($14.99)
Made with mostly the local corvina. Ripe and juicy, mostly notes of spicy black cherry and licorice with a hint of raisiny sweetness just on the finish. Head and shoulders above the average entry level red from the Veneto, but not as extravagant as Amarone. Really delicious and unpretentious. My new favorite pasta wine.
Domaine d’Andezon La Granacha 2009 ($12.99)
One of the must-have values for ’09 Rhones. 100% grenache from 60+ year old vines. Amazing value and very versatile with food. 90 points Spectator.
Chateau Senechaux Chateauneuf du Pape 2007 ($39.99)
A very nicely balanced CdP, especially considering its modest price. Drinking really nicely now but certainly made well enough to hold up for at least 8-10 more years. 92 points from Spectator.
Clerico Barolo Ginestra 2005 ($69.99)
Not a wine for every day but an incredible powerhouse of a Barolo. Especially impressive for what’s considered an average year in Piedmont. And still not ridiculously priced regardless of its noble vineyards. Although I think I tasted it at least six years before it’s prime. 95+ points across the board.
Warwick Estates Three Cape Ladies ($23.99)
This is a Bordeaux style blend from Stellenbosch, South Africa, whose red wines I typically loathe. Not this one. Great structure, rich and chewy, with dark fruit and supple tannins. Cab, syrah, merlot and the signature pinotage. Really yummy and impressive for a lesser regarded wine region. Spectator 90 pts.
Domaine de Janasse Cotes du Rhone ($14.99)
Another spectacular bargain from the Rhone Valley. 87 Wine Advocate, 89 Spectator.
Quartilho Tinto ($11.99)
Terrific table wine from Ribatejo, Portugal. Indeginous grapes from 25-50 year old vines. Medium bodied, a little jammy but surprisingly complex for an inexpensive wine. Nothing truly intellectual but a great Monday Night Football sort of bottle. Wine Advocate 88 pts.
Carodorum Issos ($16.99)
Terrific value from Toro in Spain. 100% tinta del toro (tempranillo.) Always a 89-90+ point value.
Faust Cabernet 2007 ($39.99)
One of the most popular choices at our recent California tasting, from the supurb 07 vintage in Napa. Second label of Quintessa. Very big, opulent, impressive wine although some of the flashy decadence is lost on me. I prefer cab with more refinement, but I still liked it for fans of that style.
Osso Anna Merlot ($19.99)
Very solid return to form for the poor grape that has fallen out of favor in Cali. A really nice, plush, velvety wine with a touch of Pomerol elegance. Wonderful.
Bennet Lane Maximus ($29.99)
Driven by cab and syrah with some merlot and malbec. This is a really supple, tasty wine from the newer Calistoga AVA in Napa. A little smoky, with really lush fruit but also some earthy tobacco leaf and dusty tannins. Hints of Bordeaux. Really accessible and yummy and a great bottle for big steaks or chops. Competes with most if not all the big name Napa meritage with bigger price tags.