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GABA DO XIL

Mencia 2017

(Valdeorras, Spain) $21

Up for an adventure? This wine is off-the-charts with loads of spicy, peppery, wild savory flavors, plus surges of gaminess so vivid, I thought I was drinking an $80 northern Rhône wine. But this is not syrah. It’s mencia (men-THEE-ah), one of northwestern Spain’s indigenous red varieties, and one that thrives in the rugged mountainous regions of Valdeorras and Bierzo. I love this wine’s sleek precision. Nothing weighty or ponderous here. Just a wine that howls with flavor. And, it’s a steal. (13% abv)

92 points KM

Available at Vinopolis

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COL SOLARE

Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

(Red Mountain, WA) $50

Col Solare is owned by Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle and Italy’s Marchesi Antinori. Founded in 1995, Col Solare was one of the state’s first joint-venture wineries, and the wines have evolved to become Washington classics. Richly textured yet sleek, the wines have beautiful aromas and flavors of cassis, violets, tobacco, and exotic spices. There’s also a beguiling velvetiness to them—a character that’s hard to achieve on Red Mountain, a very small region (and the state’s warmest appellation) known for wines with sometimes fierce tannins. The Col Solare vineyard was planted to mirror the Antinori family estate in Tuscany; that is, the vines fan out in a radial pattern (like the rays of the sun) from the winery at the top of the hill. The name Col Solare means “Shining Hill.” (14.5% abv)

95 points KM

Available at EmpireWine.com

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MASSICAN

Sauvignon Blanc 2019

(Napa Valley, CA) $32

Massican’s sauvignons are spring loaded with full throttled freshness. They’re the kind of uber-crisp sauvignons that have almost crystalline flavors of lime, peach, minerals, and herbs. After a long day, a great cold splash of this is the perfect way to start the evening. Massican is a small winery devoted to artisanal white wines (unusual in the red wine-dominant Napa Valley). Owner/winemaker Dan Petroski has a cult following for his precisely etched whites, most of which were inspired by the alpine whites of northern Italy. (13.3% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Massican

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MASSERIA LI VELI

Verdeca 2019

(Salento, Apulia, Italy) $27

OMG is this white wine delicious. The aromas of a lush garden. Explosively fruity flavors, as though pears and peaches were fireworks being shot off in every direction. Plus a wonderful noble bitterness, like the flavors of lime zest. All encased in a bone-dry, minerally wine. Before tasting this verdeca from southern Italy (from the “heel” of the Italian “boot”), I had never heard of this rare white grape variety. I’d be mad at myself, except that one of Italy’s greatest gifts is being full of scrumptious things none of us have heard of. (14% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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PEPPER BRIDGE

Merlot 2017

(Walla Walla, WA) $55

Washington State’s top merlots are anything but wimpy. Dramatic, intensely flavored, and bold, they are wines of great structure. More than one commentator has compared them to the St. Emilions of Bordeaux. For me, Pepper Bridge is a perfect example. For all of the wine’s plushness and spice, it also has great energy and drive. Plus, there’s a fantastic earthy “dustiness” to the wine—a character I associate with the far eastern region Walla Walla (and with Rutherford in the Napa Valley). Pepper Bridge was founded in 1998 by three Washington wine industry veterans—Norm McKibben, Jean-François Pellet and Ray Goff. (14.5% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Pepper Bridge Winery

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HIDALGO

“La Gitana” Manzanilla Sherry

(Jerez, Spain) $20

With its unreal precision and filigreed character, Hidalgo’s La Gitana (the Gypsy) Manzanilla possesses a gossamer-like complexity that is evident every second you drink it—from the layered aroma of green moss, green olives, bitter almonds, and vanilla to the crisp, sea-fresh snap of minerally flavor to the wine’s shimmering, nutty, minty finish. Manzanillas simply do not get more inspiring or vivid. All you need come Saturday night is an ice-cold bottle of this, some roasted almonds, a bowl of cracked green olives, and a chunk of aged Manchego cheese. Plus one good wine drinking partner. (15% abv)

98 points KM

Available at K&L Wine Merchants

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HUDSON

Chardonnay 2018

(Carneros, Napa Valley, CA) $65

A score of prestigious Napa and Sonoma wineries get their grapes from the vineyards of Hudson Ranch and say so on their labels. But Hudson Ranch also makes its own wines, and their chardonnays in particular have a special beauty. The golden flavors. The creaminess that’s more creamy than cream. The sparks of minerality and flickers of fresh citrus. The deliciously deep and long finish. It is lovely to be reminded of what makes chardonnay compelling. This wine’s more expensive sisters—the tiny- production Hudson chardonnays called “Little Bit” and “Ladybug”—are also rare treats. (14.7% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Hudson Ranch

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AGUSTÍ TORELLÓ MATA

Reserva Brut Cava 2016

(Penedès, Spain) $20

Bubbles on a budget? Here you go. This bone-dry cava is racy, refreshing, and vibrant, with just the lightest notes of pear and golden apple. Over the last few years, Spain’s best sparkling wine producers have initiated a total revolution in quality. Not only are the wines aged on yeast lees longer (this one for 36 months), but the wines are fresher, more complex, and far more delicious. If ever there was a sitting-on-the-deck wine, this is it. Agustí Torelló Mata is one of Penedes’ top small producers working with the region’s traditional indigenous grapes: macabeo, xarel-lo and parellada. (11.5% abv)

90 points KM

Available at Union Square Wines & Spirits

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SELVAPIANA

Chianti Rufina 2018

(Chianti, Tuscany, Italy) $17

Talk about over-delivering. Here’s a Chianti that—for about $3 a glass–turns mere eating into dining. With a great pasta, and maybe a caprese salad, you’re in business. I love the delicious notes of red fruit, roses, cinnamon, and something beautifully salty. This is the sort of traditional Chianti that can transport one right back to a trattoria in Tuscany twenty years ago. (Wine and memories). Selvapiana has been making wine for almost 200 years in Chianti Rufina (Rufina is the smallest subzone in the Chianti area). (13.5% abv)

90 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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BIG TABLE FARM

Pinot Noir 2018

(Willamette Valley, OR) $45

Big Table Farm is owned by Brian Marcy and Clare Carver, he a winemaker and she an artist. A working farm it is. The winery is known for some of the most delicious small production pinot noirs in Oregon—wines with luminous flavors and silky textures. This, their 2018 “regular” pinot, is packed with aromas and flavors of cinnamon, tea, rose petals, black currants, menthol, and earth. It’s cooling and savory; and paradoxically, both graceful and opulent. A pinot noir for the pinotcenti. (14.1% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Big Table Farm

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PAZO SEÑORANS

Albariño 2019

(Val do Salnés, Rías Baixas, Spain) $22

It’s hard not to fall in love with a wine when its seductive aromas fairly burst from the glass. Mandarin orange, starfruit, Asian pear, pink grapefruit—they all come tumbling out of the wine plus flashes of minerals and white pepper. And all of those are set against a creamy mouthfeel. I almost couldn’t believe how vivid and refreshing this wine is. Albariños are, of course, generally very tasty. But Pazo Señorans is a cut above—a wine that’s elegant, lifted, and feels like a pure ocean breeze. (14.5% abv)

92 points KM

Available at Martin Wine & Spirits

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Hannah Selbach

SELBACH-OSTER

Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Trocken*** “GG” 2018

(Mosel, Germany) $37

At its best, German riesling doesn’t just have acidity; it has juicy, delicious acidity—the kind that’s so kinetic, you fear the wine glass might burst. Not to mention a minerality so vibrant it seems to scream with excitement. This very bone dry (trocken) riesling from Selbach-Oster is a great example. The freshness and citrusy precision are off-the-charts. If ever there was a terrific wine for drinking right this (summery) minute, this is it. The “***” references the single oak vat this wine was made in, and “GG” denotes this dry wine’s equivalency to a grand cru. The Selbach family’s wine heritage goes back to 1660, and the family is deeply passionate about riesling. 13% abv

92 points KM

Available at K&L Wine Merchants