Christine O’Sullivan and Jim Bean met in Silicon Valley while working for Apple, but nearby Napa Valley was their love story. In 2019, they purchased Brand Winery on Pritchard Hill. “This is our second act,” says Christine. “We were only interested in doing this if we could be the best of the best.”
Spotlight on Aaron Pott
Napa has a lot of consultant winemakers, competition is a ruthless. One year of less-than-outstanding scores and some wineries will toss their consultant out like a corked bottle. Aaron Pott is one of Napa’s top winemakers operating in this sphere, yet he somehow manages to stay out of the politic games. With Aaron, what you see is what you get.
Pangaea is a blend of the five major Bordeaux red grapes from five different countries. The blend changes every year, depending on the success of the varieties in their respective regions. The concept is the brainchild of Travis Braithwaite, but the master blender behind this project is probably the only consultant enologist who could pull something like this off: Michel Rolland.
AXR’s New Releases
Would you buy a place if you had to sign a spiritual entity clause acknowledging active ghosts exist on the property? In 2017, Jean Hoefliger and a small group of friends did just that when they bought the V Madrone winery and converted it into the new home for their AXR winery. So far, the new owners have found the spirits to be mostly polite, although these friendly ghosts still let the fleshies know who was here first.
Buena Vista Winery Spotlight
If old houses hold the ghosts of their former owners, then so must old wineries, and there are none older or more haunted in California than Buena Vista. When Jean-Charles Boisset’s family purchased Buena Vista Winery in 2011, it was a shadow of its former glory. Constructed in 1857, it was in a crumbling state of ruin, requiring costly and painstaking repairs just to make it functional, let alone return it to its former glory.
Paul Hobbs’ New Releases
Paul is never short on stories about his travels and adventures. Apart from owning vineyards and winemaking facilities in Sonoma and Napa, he also has projects in New York, Argentina, France, Armenia, and Spain. Yet his early years are about a million miles from the international flying winemaker lifestyle he leads today.
Russell Bevan Spotlight
What’s the opposite of a shrinking violet? A stampeding rose? Whatever it is, that’s Russell Bevan. Larger than life and known for his pedal-to-the-metal winemaking style, Russell is also an incredibly creative and meticulous winemaker with a keen nose for singular vineyard sites.
Jean Hoefliger Spotlight
Packing a great sense of humor and no pretenses, Napa-based winemaking consultant Jean Hoefliger works for about 28 different brands, spread between Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Texas, Italy, and Spain, and a little bit in Switzerland, mainly because it’s his native land.
Memento Mori & Vida Valiente
Hayes Drumwright sees his near-death experience when he was twenty as the best thing that’s happened to him. Since then, he co-founded the wine estate Memento Mori—a reminder to live. A few years later, Hayes and his wife Susana partnered with Sam Kaplan and his wife Nancy to embark on a separate, refreshingly heroic winery project: Vida Valiente.
The Vineyardist 2015-2022
“We not only wanted to acquire a site that could produce world-class Cabernet Sauvignon," says Dirk Fulton. "We wanted that intangible element of a property having a ‘soul.' A property that spoke to us. The historic Calarcadia winery site on Diamond Mountain checked all the boxes.”
Château Cheval Blanc 1967-2012
Cheval Blanc is adored not because it is a brawny superhero like some of its right-bank neighbors. It doesn’t need power to woo its fans. Often, it’s that quiet, clever kid at the back of the room with a wicked sense of humor, all the right answers, and a pocket full of Kryptonite.
2018 & 2021 Giaconda Chardonnay
There’s some exciting news for lovers of Giaconda Chardonnay. From October this year, Bordeaux merchant Ets J.P. Moueix will be distributing this wine to markets worldwide where distribution has been non-existent or scarce over the last few years, including the USA.
Sine Qua Non, Next of Kyn, and The Third Twin New Releases
Manfred and Elaine Krankl established Sine Qua Non in 1994 as an artistic collection of multi-vineyard blends. This is a milestone year for them. It's the first year all their Sine Qua Non wines being released are 100% estate-grown.
Andremily New Releases
Jim Binns established his Andremily label in 2012, the name being an amalgamation of his children's names: Andrew and Emily. His style is crafting wines of remarkable restraint. There is more than a nod to the Southern Rhône in how the fruit is expressed here, often delivering beautifully pure, soft-spoken, savory, and earthy fragrances.
A vineyard that challenges the viticultural status quo, the first three wines off Jasud Estate are not just extraordinarily good; they achieve what almost no one has been able to do in Napa in recent years: full flavor and phenolic ripeness at under 13.5% alcohol.
The new Beyond Bordeaux Place de Bordeaux releases include wines from Piedmont, Tuscany, Spain, Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhône, Chile, Argentina, Australia, and more, including big names like Solaia, Masseto, Bibi Graetz, Telmo Rodriguez, Catena Zapata, and Champagne Philipponat.
Fingers Crossed New Releases
This week, Lisa Perrotti-Brown headed to Oak View, California, to check out the upcoming Fingers Crossed releases. Nik and Julia Krankl presented the 2021 “Unanswered Prayers” trio of wines from the tank, as well as the bottled 2020 triplet from the series named “Head Held High.”
Stagecoach Vineyard & Pahlmeyer’s New Releases
Napa Valley’s Stagecoach Vineyard is an enigma to find in the glass. Sometimes it’s savory, mineral-laced, and chewy; other times is rich, bold, and formidably structured. It makes top-tier Cabernet, opulent Chardonnay, rugged Malbec, and zesty Sauvignon Blanc. A site of many different guises and expressions. Why? It’s enormous.
Littorai as the alpha of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay. Yes, others grew grapes and made wine in this area before Littorai. But beyond being a winegrower, Ted Lemon is a leader and advisor in developing new ways to farm this area, using generative (as opposed to regenerative) practices beyond organic and biodynamic farming.
La Gaffeliere, La Connivence, Puy-Blanquet, Leoville Poyferre, Cos Labory, Lynch-Bages, Lynch-Moussas, Picque Caillou, Langoa Barton, Leoville Barton, Giscours, Clarke, Fourcas Dupre, La Lagune, Coufran, Siran, Beaumont, Rauzan-Gassies, Branaire-Ducru, Desmirail, Marquis de Terme, La Tour de By, Angludet, Dauzac, Batailley, Ormes de Pez, Dassault, Ferrande, La Louviere, Rahoul, Larmande, Franc Mayne, Gazin, Trotte Vieille, Soutard, Petit-Village, La Couspaude, Cap de Mourlin
Inglenook’s Rubicon 2012-2020
It took the Coppolas nearly 40 years, yet true to their vow, they restored the Inglenook estate—vineyard parcels, winery, and, finally, the Inglenook name, which they were able to buy in 2011. Purchasing the name and trademark cost them more than the entire estate. But it was an important milestone.
Peter Michael’s New 2021 Releases
Lisa Perrotti-Brown loves the vibrancy and freshness of the Peter Michael 2021s. These are wines with that sense of effortless harmony that comes with a smooth-sailing growing season. For those that like their Chardonnays and Pinots with a bit of cellar age, these 2021s should develop slowly and gracefully.
The vibrant freshness of Kister’s 2021s speaks of the relative coolness in this part of Sonoma that year. The bodies and alcohol levels are relatively moderate, with more citrus fruit characters in the whites and red berry profiles in the reds, compared to warmer recent vintages.
Beckstoffer’s is not the only Dr. Crane Vineyard in Napa Valley. Located very close by, is the other Dr. Crane. Although less well-known, it also produces stunning wines with a characteristic earthy/minerally profile and an uncanny resemblance to the DNA of its sibling.
Continuum Estate 2005-2021
The sale of Robert Mondavi Winery in 2004 left his son, Tim Mondavi, devastated but not broken. Using the financial windfall from the sale, the very next year, he and his sister Marcia founded Continuum—the continuation of the family’s winemaking legacy.
Sauternes 2022 Primeurs
Because the production of Sauternes is a very different process than the production of Bordeaux’s dry wines, including a unique set of growing season requirements for success, as usual, Lisa Perrotti-Brown separated these sweet wine reviews into a dedicated report.
“We are a traditional producer looking towards innovation – the most important core value is age-ability - we respect and protect the core of acidity,” says Col d’Orcia’s owner, Count Francesco Marone Cinzano. This is the story of the “biggest of the small wineries” in Brunello di Montalcino.
Bordeaux 2019 Vintage Revisited
Energy is the perfect word to describe the style of Bordeaux’s 2019 vintage. Compared to 2018, the flavors are remarkably bright and refreshing—like crunching into ripe but not overripe fruit. And yet, these are also wines with gravitas, weight, and jaw-dropping intensity.
Saint-Élites Saint-Émilion Satellites
For many years, areas on the peripheries of prestigious Saint-Émilion—known as the satellites—have been considered the poor cousins. But in 2016, a group of eight wineries decided it was time to change that view by forming their own marketing body and manifesto dedicated to improving the quality and image of their wines. The group is called Saint-Élites.
Sauternes: 2020 in Bottle
Sauternes’ 2020s are less concentrated and rich than more consistently great vintages. These are lighter, fresher styles, which still maintain a lot of layers and terroir signatures. For this reason, this is a vintage that Bordeaux lovers who do necessarily gravitate toward big, rich, sweet wines will want to seek out.
Kimberly Jones Selections
A wine broker and importer based in Napa, California, Kimberly Jones is a sleek, eternally youthful cat that’s lived nine lives and keeps another nine tucked in her back pocket. It took a few lifetimes before Kimberly found her way to the wine trade, and her story is a must-read!
San Polino 2012-2019
All the wines of Katia Nussbaum and Luigi (Gigi) Fabbro have a friendliness, an accessibility, and, more and more, in recent years, a beautiful harmony on the palate with the tannins becoming more refined and invisibly integrated into the wine. These are wines of great drinkability, charm, and ease that do not insist but instead beckon and allure.
Salicutti Brunello di Montalcino
Even though a lot of very serious work is being done, a visit to Salicutti with Sabine Eichbauer and her two beautiful white Pastore Maremma dogs, Luna and Alba, has an almost party-like feel, such is Sabine’s generous spirit and vivacious nature.
Cathiard Vineyard’s Inaugural 2020 Releases
2020 was a tough first vintage for Florence and Daniel Cathiard to kickstart this new venture. However, Lisa Perrotti-Brown finds that having walked the vineyard and visited the new facilities twice, the potential for greatness at this estate is clear and the Cathiards have put together an amazing team in charge of winemaking.
Lail Vineyards J. Daniel Cuvée 2001-2019
Most industries are composed of either blueprint makers or blueprint followers. The wine industry blueprints are as diverse as they come. In Napa Valley, there are few remaining blueprint makers. Coming from a rich history of blueprint makers, Robin Lail is one.
Back when Napa was just a one-horse town, and Yountville wished it had a horse, the son of Bordeaux’s legendary Jean-Pierre Moueix fell head over heels for an unassuming, historic piece of land in Yountville. This is Christian Moueix’s vineyard love story - including reviews of Dominus from 1991 to 2020. (Yes, they made a 2020!)
Wayfarer’s New Releases
Wayfarer produces a style that dials up the perfume and intensity volume without added weight or alcohol. These are wines of amazing grace without sacrificing structure and layers – all signatures putting Fort Ross-Seaview on the map for outstanding Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Opus One 2001-2019
It’s hard to believe that the wine world’s most famous joint venture—Bordeaux’s Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Napa’s Robert Mondavi—has been producing its iconic label for more than four decades. Opus One remains one of Napa’s largest production, high-quality brands (around 25,000 cases per annum) and must be the region’s most globally recognized and distributed fine wine.
Bordeaux 2017 Retrospective
An uncommon style that some will not be able to get enough of, 2017 is a vintage where extraordinary wines possessing great depth and super ripe, super-fine tannins can be found, achieving ripeness at modest alcohol levels. This is a face of Bordeaux that we have not seen in many years.
2007 Sauternes Retrospective
Fifteen years on is an opportune time to check in on a great Sauternes vintage. It’s just when many of the wines are starting to hit their sweet spot, still encapsulating that bright, youthful flush of fruitiness while displaying a whole myriad of emerging tertiary characters.
Bordeaux 2016 Retrospective
Out of the recent Bordeaux vintage retrospectives tasted by Lisa Perrotti-Brown—2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018—2016 was the year she was most interested in revisiting. From the time these wines were in barrel, she was convinced that this would be praised as a legendary vintage for many years to come. But after the wines had a few years in bottle, when flaws, shortcomings, and aging arcs become more apparent, would she still think the vintage was all that?
2015 Bordeaux Retrospective
After a challenging string of vintages from 2011 through 2014, 2015 kickstarted one of Bordeaux’s longest runs of great years ever. It was a warm/hot, dry vintage, plagued only by isolated rains at harvest in the northernmost area of the Médoc. With a good five years+ in bottle under their belts, how is the vintage looking now?
Clarice Wine Company & Beau Marchais
News that another Pinot Noir-obsessed winemaker wants to craft the next DRC has become about as interesting as watching the painfully slow pour from a Coravin. If I never again have to hear about searches for limestone terroir, suitcase clones from you-know-where, and the quixotic pursuit of flavor ripeness at low alcohol in a hot climate, it’ll be too soon. But just when I thought the whole Burgundian saga was becoming way too predictable, along comes Adam Lee.
Giovanni Manetti, co-owner of the Fontodi estate in Chianti Classico’s Panzano, has managed the family’s iconic property since 1986. President of the Chianti Classico Consorzio, Manetti also oversees significant changes, increasing the development of the Gran Selezione category and proposing 11 new Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive, allowing producers to add the name of these sub-zones to their Gran Selezione labels. Ever the innovator, Manetti is not one to stand still.
Tuscany New Releases
Erratic weather conditions have been the calling card of climate change in recent vintages in Tuscany, alternating between cool and wet in 2014, very hot in 2015, then an oasis of perfect conditions in 2016, then hot and dry in 2017, then cool, wet and hot in 2018. Then, in 2019, God pressed the reset button and provided a return to some normality.
Pichon Lalande 1975-2020
General Manager and Winemaker at Pichon Lalande since 2012, Nicolas Glumineau is a Renaissance man with a holistic vision for taking this incredible estate to new levels. He has also just crafted the estate’s first white wine. A trained opera singer, what does Glumineau listen to when he is crafting Pichon Comtesse? Expect the unexpected in this spotlight feature.
The Cru de Clos Story
R.H. Drexel is back with a fascinating tale of kites twisting and twirling across the sky high in the mountains above Jenner-by-the-Sea, a small cabin, Best Buck of the Bay Gay Rodeo, a dog called Lucky... and a wine crafted into reality from a dream and conviction which has its creator Seth Cripe putting it all on the line.
JCB Collection New Releases
Perhaps best known for his flamboyant fashion sense and decadent cabaret/burlesque events, behind the scenes, Jean-Charles Boisset has become a tour-de-force to contend with in the wine world. Challenged by his French friends and family to show how great California is and make wine from there, he did just that.
Cru de Clos de Sequoya Pinot Noir
The distances winemakers will journey never ceases to amaze, following their calling to plant their special place on the planet. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you find yourself standing in the most unlikely of locations for a vineyard and wonder, “Why here?” Until you taste the wine. Welcome to Seth Cripe’s Clos de Sequoya Vineyard.
50 Recommended Grower Champagnes for Under $100
The recent explosion in Champagne prices is painful. Former staple favorites such as Salon, Krug, Selosse, and Egly-Ouriet, which I have followed for many years, are now hard to justify. Therefore, the inspiration for writing this article was partly at least selfish interest. I want to find some high-quality, interesting Champagnes for the holiday season without remortgaging the farm.
California-born and bred, Joe Tensley grew up in Bakersfield and moved to Los Olivos, just north of Santa Barbara, when he was 18. After spending a few years learning the craft at other wineries in California Central Coast, he started his own label in 1998, producing just 100 cases. His annual production is now around 5000 cases, but his goal hasn’t changed. It’s a road not many winemakers choose: to make unique, high-quality wines at affordable prices.
Château Kirwan 1995-2020
Château Kirwan is developing a more focused style with greater purity and delineation than in the past. Increasingly, it’s delivering impactful fruit and effortless grace thanks to a lively backbone of freshness that defines the palate even in warmer vintages. Now is an excellent time to consider squirreling a few of these recent Kirwan vintages away in the cellar.
Land of the Rhône Rangers, the viticultural patchwork quilt of prime terroir between Paso Robles and Ojai has become a hotbed of innovation and creative freedom. One of the most promising newcomers to this area is Walson Holland. A collaboration between investor/vineyard owner Jonas Svenson and young winemaker Benny Holland
Nicolás Catena Zapata & Adrianna Vineyard Malbec 1999-2015
Nicolás Catena Zapata’s high-altitude bet is one that has paid off, demonstrating that Argentina can produce wines of intensity, grace, and finesse at naturally lower alcohols and without acidification. Laura Catena’s scientific mind is at the forefront of everything she does and is a critical factor behind the high quality being achieved at Catena Zapata today.
Château Phélan Ségur 1990-2020
Phelan Ségur resigned from the Cru Bourgeois classification in 2010. With vines spread across the Saint-Estèphe appellation and intermingled amongst classified growth titans Montrose and Calon Ségur, you can understand why. Phélan Ségur is now set to give its fancy classified neighbors runs for their money.
Tuscany’s Top 25 New Releases
Following Susan Hulme MW’s recent trip to Tuscany, we kick off our coverage of this region with her Top 25 best new releases. Mainly 2019s with a few older vintages, her enthusiasm for these wines is a testament to the epic quality coming out of Italy’s heartland in recent years. Featuring some of the famous names and Tuscan superstars, there are also one or two surprises. Italian wine lovers are not going to want to miss this.
Spotlight on Aperture and Devil Proof
If you haven’t heard of Jesse Katz yet, you soon will. He’s one of northern California’s most talented young winemakers with a natural eye for unique sites. His Devil Proof Farrow Ranch Vineyard Malbec is unique. No other Malbec on the planet is quite as pure, well-defined, multi-layered, and evocative as this. Simply put, it’s an artist’s Malbec.
In the Francs-Côtes-de-Bordeaux appellation, this quiet, remote property is near, well...not a lot. But don’t let the far-flung location fool you; many worthy changes and renewed drive are happening at small-but-beautiful Château Marsau, with a subsequent uptick in quality in recent vintages. (And at a very affordable price!). These wines are skillfully crafted and downright delicious, going that extra length towards expressing this special place’s signature.
Château Larcis Ducasse 1959-2020
Owned by the same family since 1893, in 1990, Jacques-Olivier Gratiot took over. In 2002, he hired Nicolas Thienpont to manage the estate, working with David Suire as the technical director. Stephane Derenoncourt and his colleague Julien Lavenu were also brought in as consultant enologists. At last, a team to bring the terroir of Château Larcis Ducasse to the limits of what it could do.
A Complete Vertical of Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 1982-2020
Nestled within a residential neighborhood of St. Helena, very close to Beckstoffer’s Dr. Crane vineyard and Abreu’s Madrona Ranch, Spottswoode’s vineyard takes advantage of the optimal ripeness that can be achieved in this Napa Valley hot spot. A signature invariably shines through in the wines—even in the warmest vintages—brightness.
Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 1986-2018
The style of Grand-Puy-Lacoste can be considered classic Pauillac, delivering that signature taut structure and muscular fruit, yet with bags of freshness and finesse. The focus here is not on making powerful, behemoth wines but on those with energy and vivacity. This estate is valued for its remarkable restraint and quiet intensity. Never tiring on the palate, the wines are of the type that keeps you reaching for another sip.
Aubert's New Releases
Most of the production at Aubert is the Chardonnays, a unique pursuit for a California winery, let alone Cabernet-synonymous Napa. One of a handful of the USA’s greatest Chardonnay producers and right up there with the top Chardonnay estates in the world, Aubert knocks it out of the park again with their latest line-up of 2020 and 2021 releases.
Paul Lato's New Releases
Paul Lato left Poland with hopes of becoming a chef. The story of Lato’s journey is as fascinating and uplifting as his wide range of new-release Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Rhône varieties wines. Ultimately, Paul Lato’s Chardonnays are among the best in California.
Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon 1986-2020
Dalla Valle is one of Napa Valley’s most iconic wineries. Lisa Perrotti-Brown was invited by Naoko Dalla Valle and her daughter Maya in June for a tasting that included every vintage made so far of their Cabernet Sauvignon label. It is worth impressing upon readers that the consistency of quality over the last decade is a testament to decades of Naoko and Maya Dalla Valle’s commitment to this special place.
2012 Bordeaux 10-Years-On
2012 Bordeaux is what Lisa Perrotti-Brown calls a trick-or-treat vintage. It’s a heterogeneous vintage resulting in a broad range of quality levels. Many of the top wines are mature now and won’t last much more than another 10 to 15 years. Some less successful wines are already starting to fade. But there is a clutch of spectacular successes that are still remarkably youthful and should have another 20 to 30 years in them!
Andremily’s New Releases
Mourvèdre is a staple component in many Rhône blends, but other than the last initial on a “GSM label,” it is seldom named. It's just not one of those grapes that gets consumers stampeding for a bottle. Until now.
Our critic Lisa Perrotti-Brown can't recommend these wines highly enough, especially Binn’s spectacular take on Mourvèdre.
The Realm Experience
"Wine quality comes first. Wines of place. We are here not for the lifestyle, but to cultivate fine wine."
"What is hard earned is easily lost."
"We’re standing on the shoulders of giants."
Those are just a few nuggets from a truly stunning debut article by R.H. Drexel on TWI.
New Place de Bordeaux Releases
In recent years, the Place de Bordeaux—Bordeaux’s historical merchant network of buying local wines and selling them throughout the world—has been evolving. In a nutshell, it’s gone global. Major players such as Joanne, Duclot, and CVBG have been traveling internationally, looking to secure allocations of big names that could be of interest to collectors throughout the fine wine world. Welcome to the 21st Century Place de Bordeaux.
Sine Qua Non, Next of Kyn and The Third Twin New Releases
The end of the seven-hour drive to taste with Elaine and Manfred Krankl has become my annual reset. Even in 2020, when no one was going anywhere, I visited. Because when we sit, discussing all the things that are not wine, intangible yet clearly relevant, the vintages pouring down all around us, the tallying of points in my head stops. There are more critical things to consider.
Fingers Crossed New Releases
In a challenging vintage like 2020, Fingers Crossed have produced their best wines yet. As the son of Sine Qua Non’s Manfred Krankl, art and winemaking have been a part of Nik Krankl’s upbringing and, you could say, are in his blood. Fingers Crossed’s wines nod to SQN with their captivating, original artwork labels with each vintage.
Château Jean Faure Vertical
Those who know their Bordeaux cult wines know that several of the cultiest labels are not Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon dominant but rather mainly composed of Cabernet Franc. Château Jean Faure is property in an upwards swing and joins in the persuit of this profound variatel. For wine lovers seeking great Cabernet Franc, this Château comes highly recommended.
Morlet Family Vineyards New Releases
During a July visit, Lisa Perrotti-Brown tasted a complete vertical of Morlet Family Vineyards’ Coeur de Vallée and the entire line-up of 2019s and 2020s. It proved a stellar showing. In 2020, no Bordeaux varieties reds or Syrah were made due to the wildfires that year and potential smoke taint issues.
2019 Cru Bourgeois
In the Médoc, if you were passed over by the great anointing sword of the 1855 Classification, it can be challenging to get noticed, no matter how good you are in terms of quality or value. This was an impressively consistent showing, with nearly a hundred Cru Bourgeois wines from the 2019 vintage, not just because this is such a great vintage, but because the Cru Bourgeois designation is starting to mean something.
One of the modern-day legends of California’s Rhône Rangers, Saxum’s founder, Justin Smith, has revolutionized the quality and expression of Paso Robles wines. The 2018 James Berry Vineyard Bone Rock (released earlier this year) is through-the-roof good. The brightness and intensity of this wine genuinely speak of perfect conditions to produce a perfect wine! And then came another jaw dropper...
The story of L'If
In 2010, Jacques Thienpont, owner of the illustrious Pomerol property Le Pin, did something unexpected. He bought a small, unlikely vineyard of around five hectares located on the backroads of Saint-Émilion. The estate was formerly known as Château Haut-Plantey; not that many had ever heard of it. Situated next to a run-down barn, the vines were in a poor state. But Jacques saw more than future potential here. He heard a calling from his past.
There will be more to say about the extent of the smoke taint issue in Californian wines in 2020 when I produce the largescale reports on California Central Coast and Napa Valley later this year. But as offers on the 2020 wines are starting to emerge, we wanted to give consumers a heads-up.
The 2018 Pym-Rae takes full advantage of the more extended, cooler growing season and slow evolution of flavor ripeness the year brought. It's a vintage which kicks the layers up a notch. It's impressive how each year of this new estate brings out the singular nature of its remote site, yet the wine’s earthy restraint speaks clearly of Mount Veeder.
Vine Hill Ranch 2009-2019
Vine Hill Ranch was a vineyard which in the 90s had gained an enviable reputation as a supplier to some of the greatest, most expensive labels in Napa Valley. Then one day, Bruce Philips' father handed his son the seed of a thought. “Imagine what we could do with this fruit,” his father said, “Imagine if.” Today, here is one of the most spectacular expressions of Napa Cabernet.
Château Beychevelle 1995-2021
Tasting the evolution of Beychevelle over 27 vintages was an uplifting experience. It is a joy to see this great estate finding its sea legs among changes in management and fresh investment. It has gained an impressive consistency over the last decade, at last making the most of its exemplary terroir.
Château Fontenil 2001-2020
The unlikely vineyard in Fronsac was a massive all-or-nothing undertaking for Dany and Michel Rolland. Realizing its' potential has been their passion over the last 36 years. Fontenil has never been made to formula; it is led by the heart, constantly striving for better.
The Penfolds Collection 2022
Peter Gago held a reveal party in Bordeaux last month, featuring a lineup fronted by a very impressive, decadently showy, epically long-lived Grange that die-hard collectors will not want to miss. Penfolds’ unveiling of “The Collection,” is one of Australia’s most anticipated annual wine events. And, true to form, it wouldn’t be a Penfolds Australia portfolio tasting without something new to show for the first time.
Château Quintus 2011-2020
In June this year, Jean-Philippe Delmas set up a tasting for us encompassing all the vintages of Quintus and Dragon de Quintus made thus far. It's clear to see that Quintus is reaching a stage where it is a sum greater than its parts. It is beginning to take flight with a whole new wine personality under it's wings. The most recent vintages are perfumed, hedonic powerhouses.
Bordeaux 2005 Retrospective
We’ve assembled a comprehensive view of what is undoubtedly one of the greatest vintages of the 21st Century (so far). Many top names turned out to be as impressive as suspected and a few others surpassed expectations. In particular, Clos Fourtet, Rauzan-Segla, Smith Haut Lafitte, and La Gaffeliere shimmered as real jaw-droppers with a long life ahead!
Barolo and Barbaresco, 2017, 2018, & 2019
Recent vintages of Barolo and Barbaresco represent a golden era for the Piedmont region and to the consumer these vintages create a happy buying situation. A sea change has been going on here of late. Especially, but not only, among young producers. The results are exciting and extremely positive. It is nothing less than a quiet revolution in style.
Additional notes added for Armando Piazzo, Gabutti Boasso, Broccardo, Luigi Giordano, Brovio, Renato Ratti, Cristian Boffa, Grasso Tiziano, La Fusina, Raineri, Luigi Vico, Crissante Alessandria, Reva, E. Molino, Fontanafredda, Pasquale Pelissero, Ruggeri Corsini, Colla, Arnaldo Rivera, Amalia, Fogliati, Culasso Piercarlo, Gheddo, and Domenico Clerico.
Cloudburst’s New Releases
In 2013, I was covering the wines of Australia for The Wine Advocate. During one of my largescale tastings, I stumbled across a new Margaret River Chardonnay that was so singular, so good, that I vowed to pay a visit to the vineyard on my next trip to the area. There can be no denying that these wines are not only of outstanding quality but, more importantly, they are unique.
Château La Pointe 2004-2020
La Pointe is a solid expression of Pomerol that remains well-priced. On an upwards swing, it’s worth taking advantage of the latest releases. Recent improvements to the vineyard management can be seen in the ripeness of tannins and fruit intensity, offering downright delicious drinking and greater ageing potential.
Rudd Estate New Releases
I found Rudd Estate’s 2019 line-up bright, energetic, and nuanced. Simply delicious and with considerable aging potential, the Leslie’s Blend from the Mt. Veeder vineyard is a stand-out natural beauty. What I particularly love about this wine is its singularity, possessing a lot of muscle while revealing the earthier, more restrained side of Napa.
Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2011-2018
In an “old” world region like Bordeaux, it is easy to be dismissive of change. Today the rate of change has accelerated. Cellars are demolished and rebuilt, the winemaker merry-go-round, vineyards sold and tacked onto other châteaux names, and here comes another foreign investor. This constant flux is par for the course in Bordeaux and seldom impacts more than those directly involved. What is interesting, however, is when the wine changes. Dramatic style and quality shake-ups impact us all.