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Michael David

"Inkblot" Cabernet Franc 2019

(Lodi, CA) $30

In a big blind tasting of Cabernet Francs we did a month ago, this was a surprise hit—especially since Michael David winery’s Inkblot costs about one-fifth of many of the other wines that came out on top. It’s also from Lodi, a Central Valley appellation where land prices are a fraction of those in Napa and Sonoma. Inkblot is the sleek, beautifully-balanced side of Cabernet Franc—long swaths of juicy blueberry fruit and a bright violety arc of flavor. It’s also very fresh-tasting, as if you were tasting the morning air in a meadow. Owners Michael and David Phillips are 5th generation grape growers in a family that’s been farming in Lodi since the 1860s. They make a slew of wines from all sorts of memorably-named brands including Earthquake and Freak Show. The brothers say they don’t take themselves too seriously, but this is a seriously good Franc. (14.5% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Michael David Winery

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COMTESSE DE MALET ROQUEFORT

Blanc 2020

(Bordeaux, France) $13

What? They make $15 wines in Bordeaux??? Yeah, we know it’s surprising but in fact, Bordeaux does make some terrific steals, especially whites. This one (mostly Sauvignon Blanc) is lightly botanical and a splash of freshness.

89 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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JORDAN

Chardonnay 2020

(Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CA) $40

It’s hard to believe that this year marks Jordan winery’s 50th anniversary. For all of the years that I can remember, the winery has never deviated from its pure classical style which was inspired originally by Tom Jordan’s love of French wine. That said, Jordan’s Chardonnay is every bit a California wine—with some cool-climate restraint built in. Lively and fresh, it whirls onto the palate with the cooling flavors of every citrus you can think of from mandarin oranges to lemon meringue to lime zest. A nice hum of crispness vibrates through the wine’s lovely deliciousness. If you like big, buttery, oaky, super ripe Chardonnays, this is not your wine. (13.7 abv)

94 points KM

Available at Jordan Winery

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BOUNDARY BREAKS

Dry Riesling “No 239” 2019

(Finger Lakes, NY) $23

Do we need to remind you that the Finger Lakes makes the best Riesling in the US? This one’s as refreshing as cold mountain water, as light as a cloud, and beautifully citrusy.

90 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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EFFORT

Grenache Rosé 2021

(Edna Valley, CA) $25

The winery might be named Effort (Center of Effort), but you won’t need any to drink a bottle of this juicy, delicious rosé. Watermelon, strawberries, and cherry blossom notes but bone dry.

90 points KM

Available at Center of Effort

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CORISON

“Kronos Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

(St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA) $248

Cathy Corison, who has made over 40 vintages in the Napa Valley, was the first woman winemaker to own her own winery there. Given the trailblazer that she is, it’s not surprising that she’s also forged her own style—a style that celebrates balance over bigness and grace over power. Her Cabernets have a lit-from-within character and an “aliveness” that is captivating. (She is always among the first in Napa to harvest in order to capture mouthwatering acidity in the grapes). Her Cabernets also have silky textures and layered flavors of cassis, violet, spice, cocoa, blackberry pie, and cooling blueberry flavors. Over the years, I’ve had a number of Corison Cabernets from her top vineyard “Kronos.” This 2018 is still very young at the moment. But put this away for a few years, and it will be magnificent. (Note: the winery sells out of 750-milliliter bottles quickly, but I think a magnum of this would make a fantastic Father’s Day gift). (13.6% abv)

92 points KM

Available at Corison Winery

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BADIA a COLTIBUONO

Chianti Classico 2019

(Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy) $20

The flavors of Tuscany for $4 a glass? Can’t beat that. Lots of dark cherry, spice, sweet tobacco, and minerally aromas and flavors. A partner for any pasta.

90 points KM

Available at Wine.com

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CAPEZZANA

“Villa di Capezzana” Carmignano 2017

(Carmignano, Tuscany, Italy) $29

Is the pasta water boiling yet?—because here’s a sensational Tuscan red that’s just waiting for, say, pasta carbonara, cacio e pepe, or just good old spaghetti and meatballs.  Carmignano, a small Tuscan appellation where Cabernet Sauvignon has grown since the 18th century, is always a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet. It has, as a result, a bit more body, power, and sheer amplitude than Chianti Classico or Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. The wine is packed with “Tuscan red wine flavors”—earth, dried roses, espresso, dark chocolate, cedar, saddle leather, dried cherries, and a saline minerality that magnifies the deliciousness of the foods around it. Is there any country where people know their food and wine more than in Italy? Pick up a bottle of this and pretend you’re there. (14.5% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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INAMA

Carmenere “Piu” 2018

(Colli Berici, Venento, Italy) $22

This is one of the few Carmeneres made in Italy (a delicious red, Carmenere is Chile’s signature wine). Lots of structure. Good grip, yet silky. Loads of cherry/plum fruit with green peppercorn notes. One of my favorites with roast chicken.

88 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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ANTICA TERRA

“Antikythera” Pinot Noir 2019

(Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, OR) $175

We’ve tasted a slew of sensational Oregon Pinot Noirs in our recent office tastings. Here’s another one I couldn’t wait to tell you about. Antica Terra is a small artisanal producer that dances to the beat of its own drummer. The winemaker Maggie Harrison has a golden touch, for this is a beautifully rich Pinot that rushes at you in waves of flavor—spices, wet black earth, juicy red fruits, bitter dark chocolate, plus an electrical current of minerals that race through the wine. The “energy” is simply captivating. I always feel as if great Pinot pulls you into it, and that’s what happens here. Lastly, like just about everybody else, I had to google Antikythera to find out what it referred to. It turns out that an Antikythera is an ancient Greek instrument considered the oldest example of an analog “computer,” and was used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses.  I wonder if it could have predicted that Antica Terra’s terroir would produce something as delicious as this. (12.8% abv)

96 points KM

Available at Antica Terra Winery

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DOMAINE DELAPORTE

Sancerre Rosé "Chavignol" 2020

(Chavignol, Loire Valley, France) $34

Here’s a jump start to summer–an absolutely beautiful rosé that’s refined, even ethereal. The flavors are a cool pool of strawberries and spices with a sea-salt-like minerality that’s mouthwatering. So many rosés are heavy or dull or lifeless. Not this one. For starters, it’s from a cool region–the Loire Valley (which is considerably cooler than Provence). Plus, there’s this interesting twist: Domaine Delaporte is a well-known producer of fantastically fresh Sancerre made, of course, from Sauvignon Blanc as it (mostly) is. But a tiny amount of Sancerre is red or rosé and made from Pinot Noir. So besides being crisply delicious, this rosé is a rare find. Get some now—and btw, it’s sensational with soft goat cheeses! (14.1% abv)

92 points KM

Available at Solano Cellars

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RÉSONANCE

“Résonance Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2019

(Yamhill-Carlton, Willamette Valley, OR) $70

This is the most deeply seductive Pinot Noir I’ve tasted this year. The complex earthy/umami flavors pull you down into some primordial world of pure hedonism. The wine’s texture is silk draped over velvet.  And like many of the top Willamette Valley Pinots, the core of the wine is rich and spicy. Elegance abounds. Résonance is the Willamette Valley winery begun in 2013 by the Burgundy producer Maison Louis Jadot, a firm that has a long track record of beautiful Pinots. (Jadot was founded in 1859, the same year Oregon became a state). Is there something “Burgundian” about the style of Résonance? You be the judge. (13.5% abv)

96 points KM

Available at Resonance Wines