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GLENELLY

“Lady May” 2014

(Stellenbosch, South Africa) $56

When I was served this wine blind, I thought it was a fantastic Bordeaux. And now I understand why. Glenelly Estate was founded in 1682. Among the first great South African wine farms, it was bought in 2003 by one of the legendary wine women of Bordeaux—May de Lenquesaing, former owner of Bordeaux’s famous Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (today the estate has passed to her grandchildren).  “Lady May” has classic Bordeaux written all over it. Immaculate purity of fruit; magnificent structure; rich, long flavors reminiscent of cassis, cigar box, vanilla, graphite, and spices. It’s mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and Cabernet Franc. You can still buy the 2014 which has the added benefit of being aged and nicely “open.” Pour it into a decanter and serve it blind this holiday season. I guarantee your friends will be surprised.

95 points KM

Available at Saratoga Wine Exchange

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SALLIER DE LA TOUR

Nero d’Avola 2020

(Sicily, Italy) $20

Absolutely delicious and stunning for the price. Loads of cherry/blueberry fruit, plus a streak of spiciness, and terrific structure.  Mouth-filling and long.

92 points KM

Available at Wine.com

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MURI-GRIES

Lagrein 2021

(Alto Adige, Italy) $19

Lagrein (la-GRINE) is a lean cooling red and this one, with its chocolate-covered-raisin flavors, is especially attractive. Slow-cooked short ribs, a spicy pork stew, or meatloaf would all be great with a bottle of this.

90 points KM

Available at Astor Wines

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BUGLIONI

“l’Imperfetto” Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2019

(Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy) $25

Valpolicella often has a Campari-like tart bitterness—a terrific, delicious counterbalance to, say, a mushroom and sausage pizza. This Valpolicella hits the nail on the head. It’s, ahem, perfecto.

90 points KM

Available at Eataly Vino

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ROBERT WEIL

Riesling Spätlese 2021

(Rheingau, Germany) $45

Between now and New Years, this is what we all need—a wine that you can stand in the kitchen and just drink. Maybe you’re cooking. Maybe you’re just hanging out. But whatever you’re doing, here’s a wine that will light up your tastebuds for hours and leave you feeling perfectly fine. (It’s just 9% alcohol.) Robert Weil is one of the top producers of the Rheingau, and the estate’s Rieslings have so much delicious energy that the flavors virtually vibrate in your glass. I love this wine’s richness, crystalline purity, and crinoline crispness. In fact, Riesling is my favorite “winter white”—not only because I love to drink it while cooking anything and everything, but if dinner happens to be a slow-cooked pork roast? Oh man, the fireworks between the wine and the roast are off the charts.

94 points KM

Available at The Wine Stop

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QUPÉ

Grenache 2018

(Santa Barbara County, CA) $30

Spiced cherries, vanilla bean, and wonderful energy and freshness in this Grenache from Santa Barbara, home to many of the top Grenaches in the US.

90 points KM

Available at Blackwell's Wine & Spirits

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ACUMEN

“Mountainside” Sauvignon Blanc 2021

(Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, CA) $35

Sauvignon lovers, this is for you. Exquisitely poised yet rich Sauvignon evocative of pink grapefruit, sage, lime zest, and kiwi. (No “bad” vegetative greens here.) Very layered, complex, and refreshing. A can’t-stop-drinking Sauvignon.

94 points KM

Available at Acumen

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DOMAINE REINE JULIETTE

Picpoul de Pinet 2020

(Languedoc-Roussillon, France) $13

A fascinating white wine from the Languedoc region of southern France. Creamy on the palate, it also has a fresh “lift,” and is packed with delicious, pure tropical flavors. (No oak.)

89 points KM

Available at Greenwood Grape & Still

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CHÂTEAU DE CIFFRE 2019

2019

(Saint Chinian, Languedoc Roussillon, France) $22

Our office loved this wine. A little good “funk,” plus tons of cherry confiture, cedar, black pepper, and tobacco. Very juicy. Made me want to race into the kitchen and roast a chicken.

91 points KM

Available at Millesima

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DOMAINE DE BEAURENARD

Côtes du Rhône 2021

(Rhône Valley, France) $25

Oh my, does this wine overdeliver! Juicy and alive, it’s bursting with cherry kirsch, vanilla bean, sandalwood, black pepper, and espresso flavors. Yet, for all of its savory richness, the wine is sleek and beautifully balanced. Côtes du Rhône is an appellation of non-contiguous parcels that fall mostly in the southern Rhône Valley. Alas, a good share of the wines are, as the French might say: ordinaire. But this Beaurenard rocks with southern French deliciousness.  It’s 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah. The domaine also makes a good Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but penny for penny, you can’t beat this Côtes du Rhône.

93 points KM

Available at Wine.com

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ALTANO

Red 2018

(Douro, Portugal) $10

I love this wine’s notes of black licorice, star anise, and vanilla bean. There’s lots of structure and energy here.

91 points KM

Available at B-21 Fine Wine & Spirits

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PAVÃO

Branco Vinho Verde 2021

(Vinho Verde, Portugal) $8

A weekend quencher that’s bold and citrusy. Sprite for grown-ups.

88 points KM

Available at Total Beverage