Share

González Byass

“Apóstoles” Palo Cortado Very Old Rare Sherry

(Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, Spain) $50

Because it is International Sherry Week, I couldn’t resist telling you about Apóstoles, one of the most wildly seductive Sherries in existence. It comes from a solera set up in 1862, and only very small amounts are bottled (in half bottles) every year. The color of burnt oranges with a neon green tinge at the edge, Apóstoles tastes of dark roasted nuts, tangerine rind, brown butter, sea salt, crème brûlée, and caramel. The flavors are so vivid and concentrated, they have an almost gravitational pull on the taster. The texture is pure satin. Sherries such as Apóstles are primordial in their appeal, and no wine lover should miss them. Drink this slightly chilled as an aperitif on a cold night.

100 points

Available at K&L Wines

Share
Donnafugata Ben Rye Passito di Pantellaria 2014 November 4, 2016

Donnafugata

"Ben Ryé" Passito di Pantelleria 2014

(Pantelleria, Italy) $40

A masterpiece of beauty, Ben Ryé (the name means “son of the wind”) is one of the most exquisite, artisanal and rare wines in the world—a wine that isn’t so much sweet as it is rich (and devastatingly delicious with hard cheese). It’s made from zibibbo grapes on the windswept volcanic island of Pantelleria off the coast of Tunisia. Half of the grapes are laid out by hand on mats to dry in the sun for several weeks. The resulting wine—langorous and almost neon orange—must be tasted to be believed.

95 points

Available at Hi-Time Wine

Share
Domaine Les Cailloux "Les Cailloux" Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2013 October 28, 2016

Domaine Les Cailloux by André Brunel

"Les Cailloux" Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2013

(Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley, France) $55

Great Châteauneuf-du-Pape has a lusciousness and beauty that is show stopping. And Les Cailloux (“The Round Rocks”) from the Brunel family is one of the best.  Penetrating and intense, it rides on rich waves of ripe dark fruits, violets, and white peppery spice. There’s a wildness and energy to this wine, as if something untamed was suddenly unleashed. But there’s also exquisite finesse. Wines of this distinctiveness, at this price, should not be missed.

95 points

Available at Calwine.com

Share

Big Table Farm

“Elusive Queen” Chardonnay 2014

(Willamette Valley, OR) $85

To say that this chardonnay is closer to great white Burgundy that any other American wine I have ever tasted is true; but it may not give the wine enough credit, for Elusive Queen is an otherworldly ascent into complexity and hedonism. The wine, rich and languorous, seems held together by shimmers of energy. The golden flavors, laced with minerals, are impeccable and intriguing. This is not a typical chardonnay; this is exquisite and daring music.

98 points KM

Available at Big Table Farm

Share
La Jota Merlot 2013 October 7, 2016

La Jota

Merlot 2013

(Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California) $85

Atomic density is the middle name of wines from Howell Mountain, and this La Jota Merlot is no exception. It thunders out of the glass with vividness, intensity, and astonishing precision.  What is most remarkable, however, is that the wine also possesses a sense of beauty and ease. For a merlot born in fierce volcanic mountain rock, it is surprisingly robed by soft finesse.

95 points

Available at La Jota

Share
Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 2005 September 23, 2016

Muga

"Prado Enea" Gran Reserva 2005

(Rioja, Spain) $50

Muga (which I’ve drunk for 25 years) is one of the top producers of traditionally-styled Rioja. These are wines evocative of rich coffee, old leather-bound books, unlit cigars, cool dirt, spicy incense, and a subtle sweet vanilla-cherry character that is mind-blowingly delicious. Primarily a blend of tempranillo and garnacha, Prado Enea is an utterly silky Gran Reserva that spends four years in barrels of different sizes, before being aged by the bodega for another three years in bottle. It tastes like it costs twice as much as it does, and is a wine that invites surrender.

96 points

Available at Manchester Wine & Liquors

Share

Ao Yun

(Shangri-La, China) $280

Just now released, this is the first vintage of Ao Yun, the Chinese cabernet sauvignon from Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Made from vineyards at 8,000 feet on the edge of Tibet in the Himalayas, the story of the creation of Ao Yun is straight out of Indiana Jones (Among other things the wine was made without the benefit of electricity or running water). The intensely earthy, chocolatey wine is black and deep—not just in color—but in character. Drinking it makes you feel like you’ve been pulled down into the dark body of the earth itself. Despite the wine’s power, structure and full body, it also has a freshness and sense of aliveness. A new chapter in the book of cabernet has just been written.  Extremely limited production.

92 points

Available at K&L Wines

Share
Wiston Estate Blanc de Blancs 2010 August 26, 2016

Wiston Estate

Blanc de Blancs 2010

(South Downs, United Kingdom) $59.99

Britain’s sparkling wine vineyards sit in the same limestone soils, in the same geological strata, from the same era, as do the vineyards of Champagne. No surprise then, that the best UK sparklers are immaculate wines of finesse and precision. The utterly delicious Wiston Estate 2010 Blanc de Blancs has a wonderful “starched” crispness, and aromas reminiscent of seashells and lemon meringue. It’s delicate and pure. It feels like one is drinking snowflakes.

93 points

Available at Union Square Wines

Share
Dominus Red Wine 1985 February 12, 2016

Dominus

Red Wine 1985

(Napa Valley, California) $200

A thought in honor of Valentine’s Day: like wine, love might just get better with time. As for this Dominus, there was no question. In fact, it was one of the most sensational cabernets I’ve tasted in many years. At 30 years old, it was nothing short of ballet-like, moving over the palate in magical choreography. The flavors—echoes of spices, pipe tobacco and deep forest undergrowth—were straight out of the Bordeaux playbook. Indeed, this early Dominus was made by Jean-Claude Berrouet, former winemaker for Chateau Petrus. Inimitable.

100 points

Share
Kongsgaard The Judge Chardonnay 2013 January 15, 2016

Kongsgaard

The Judge Chardonnay 2013

(Napa Valley, CA) $175

The 2013 vintage of Kongsgaard’s “The Judge” may well be the only chardonnay in Napa Valley with a waiting list as long as the ones for the cabernet sauvignons from superstars Harlan and Colgin. A mere three hundred thirty cases are made (hence the price). The Judge is unlike any California chardonnay I have ever experienced. The flavor equivalent of a tightly woven golden-colored tapestry, it is a wine of unbelievable textural sumptuousness with long lines of intensity punctuated by pinpoints of what can only be described as energy. Comparisons to Montrachet float in the mind. This is the sort of wine you really do never forget.

98 points