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DÖNNHOFF

Oberhäuser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett 2018

(Nahe, Germany) $26

Dönnhoff is, without question, the greatest estate in the Nahe. A visit with Helmut Dönnhoff and his son Cornelius a few years ago left me convinced that their wines are masterpieces of laser-like precision and quivering energy. The minerality in the wines comes across with near atomic density. This kabinett, from the Leistenberg vineyard in the town of Oberhäusen, is one of their simplest, least expensive wines, and yet it moves on the palate in long wavelengths of deliciousness. If you like taut, fresh wines that are light in body but massive in flavor, this is for you.  (9% abv)

92 points KM

Available at The Wine House

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RAPTOR RIDGE

"Shea Vineyards" Pinot Noir 2015

(Yamhill-Carlton, Willamette Valley, OR) $44

Raptor Ridge’s pinot noir from the famous Shea Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is not inexpensive exactly. But at $8 a glass, it delivers waves of sumptuous and beautiful pinot flavors and textures. I’d spend $8 a glass any day if I could get a pinot this good. I’m guessing that a considerable part of the success of this wine is the Shea Vineyard, one of the greatest vineyards in the Willamette, and a vineyard that, were this Burgundy centuries ago, would have probably been deemed a Grand Cru. Many wineries now make a pinot from this esteemed vineyard, but here’s a chance to taste it for a (relative) song.  Just 590 cases were produced, but you can still get your hands on it. (14.1% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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CUNE

Crianza 2016

(Rioja, Spain) $14

Having spent a ton of money over the holidays, I’ve vowed to make January “austerity month.” And this wine—a crianza (which means it’s been aged 2 years)—from the well-known producer CUNE, fits the bill perfectly. Made primarily from tempranillo grapes, it’s the sort of supple, luscious red wine that you always hope to find (but almost never do). Beautifully savory with notes of red fruits and earth, it drinks like a simple Burgundy. Traditional crianzas like this are some of Riojas—indeed, some of Spain’s—most satisfying and easy drinking wines. Lay in a few bottles for the rest of the winter. (13.5% abv)

89 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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TALBOTT

“Sleepy Hollow” Pinot Noir 2016

(Santa Lucia Highlands, California) $40

Can a wine be sexy? Anyone who reads WineSpeed probably agrees that it can. In fact, when it comes to pinot noir, sexiness just might be an obligation. To me, sexy wines aren’t merely fruity and they don’t smell antiseptically monochromatic. They are nuanced and hedonistically textural wines. They possess a bit of “animali”—the pleasant aroma of a man who’s just run a mile (five miles, IMO, is a little too much). This Talbott is quite sophisticated and unfurls itself beautifully as you drink it. The Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, planted in 1972, is one of the top sites in California’s Santa Lucia Highlands. (14.2% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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LAMBERT de SEYSSEL

“Petit Royal” Brut NV

(Savoie, France) $19

When you’re in the mood to drink Champagne, but your wallet is not in the mood to be quite so obliging, this is your wine. The sparklers from the Savoie (sav-WA) region in the French Alps are not yet well known, but they are super lively, fresh, bone-dry, and very brisk in the manner of a good Champagne. Importantly, like the Champagne region, the Savoie has a cold climate and the soils are laced with limestone. This tasty sparkler is a blend of the indigenous grapes molette and altesse from vineyards 10 to 25 years old. A must-try, and a steal to boot. (12% abv)

90 points KM

Available at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

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CHAPPELLET

“Signature” Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

(Napa Valley, CA) $70

Situated on the rolling mountain slopes of Pritchard Hill above the Napa Valley, the Chappellet vineyards yield cabernets of intense personality. For me, “primordial” is always the word that comes to mind.  They are dark, savory, sexy wines redolent of tobacco, old leather, sandalwood, woodsmoke, and exotic spices. And although they are powerful structurally, winemaker Phillip Corallo-Titus is a master of coaxing out a certain plushness. I’ve tasted this wine many times in the last year, often in the company of wines that cost two or three times as much, and it always shines. Got a dinner party coming up? This is your wine. (14.5% abv)

95 points KM

Available at Vivino

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OREMUS

“Mandolás” Furmint 2017

(Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary) $24

Furmint (Hungary’s famous grape) makes the best dry white wine you may not have had enough of (or even tried) yet. It’s got weight without heaviness, and crispness without tartness. Plus, it bursts with vibrant notes of pepperiness and salty minerals. If you’re a good cook, this should be your house wine because it goes with scores of foods—everything from Italian to Asian dishes. This is Oremus’ bone-dry furmint from a vineyard called Mandolá’s, and it was one of the first dry furmints in Hungary. The winery is owned by the same family who owns Spain’s most famous wine—Vega Sicilia. (13% abv)

90 points KM

Available at Solano Cellars

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ATA RANGI

Pinot Noir 2016

(Martinborough, New Zealand) $53

In 1980 Clive Paton, along with his wife and sister, bought an old sheep paddock on the southern end of the North Island and planted it with vines.  Little did he know it would one day be considered a “Grand Cru” of New Zealand.  Ata Rangi (the name is Maori for “dawn sky” or “new beginning”) is a pinot of great beauty, with long swaths of richness, plus a lovely pepperiness. The finish fades out slowly like an old French film. If you’ve ever wondered how a top New Zealand pinot noir compares to one from Burgundy, Oregon, or California, Ata Rangi is the pinot you should try. (13% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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SCHRAMSBERG

Blanc de Noirs 2015 

(North Coast, California) $43

If you’re planning on laying in a few bottles of bubbles for Thanksgiving weekend, you probably want to go American.  (Thanksgiving, after all, is the quintessential American holiday). There are a number of good choices, including one of the oldest California sparkling firms—Schramsberg, located in the forested hills above the Napa Valley. There’s an airy purity and freshness to this sparkling, at the same time that it has a yeasty richness. It’s 81% pinot noir and 19% chardonnay and spends three years on its yeast lees. A sparkling Thanksgiving? We hope so. (12.8% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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WAGNER

Dry Riesling 2017

(Finger Lakes, New York) $15

New York State dry riesling may well be the best wine in America that way too few of us think to drink. And yet, it’s so utterly, fabulously drinkable. Take this Wagner. It’s mouthwatering, sleek, bone-dry, and as fresh as cold mountain air. Plus, there’s all that snappy minerality and no oakiness to get in the way of the wine’s pure flavors. Not only are wines like this hugely versatile with food, but they are great to drink while you’re cooking (or standing around in the kitchen watching someone else cook!). Wagner, one of the top wineries of the Finger Lakes, was founded in 1979. (12.3% abv)

91 points KM

Available at Wagner Vineyards