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SELBACH OSTER

Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Feinherb “Ur” Alte Reben

(Mosel, Germany) $35

Ethereal and sumptuous. It’s nearly impossible to convey the deliciousness of small production Selbach Oster’s Riesling from the famous Sonnenuhr (sundial) vineyard in the village of Zelting. The wine has long lines of peachy freshness, a crystalline minerality, and beautiful citrusy acidity that fairly hums through the wine. This is classic, artisanal Mosel Riesling at its best with just a pinch of sweetness that ties the flavors together into one exquisite bundle. This rare wine comes from vines more than 100 years old and is made in old Mosel fuders (barrels). A cool fall night, a pork roast, some acorn squash and this wine, and I’m mindlessly happy. (12.5% abv)

95 points KM

Available at Vine Republic

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JOLIE-LAIDE

Syrah 2018

(North Coast, CA) $39

Here’s one of California’s top Syrahs, with aromas and flavors that whirl out of the glass with explosive power—cedar, vanilla, white pepper, licorice, eucalyptus, blackberries, sea salt, charcuterie, and cherries. Just thinking about this wine puts me right in the mood for something like lamb chops or roast duck with black cherry sauce. It’s also extremely lively with an underlying hum of acidity that gives wine lift and freshness. Jolie-Laide is a two-person operation founded by Scott Schultz and Jenny Schultz. Scott previously worked as the cellar master of Realm Winery, followed by Arnot-Roberts, and Pax Mahle. The name Jolie-Laide translates loosely to Pretty-Ugly, a French term of endearment to describe something that is unconventionally beautiful. (12.5% abv)

 

95 points KM

Available at Flatiron Wines and Spirits

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JULIA’S DAZZLE

Rosé 2020

(Columbia Valley, Washington State) $19

Maybe summer is a mindset. Maybe summer should always be available (in a wine glass)— and here it is. A super refreshing, lively rosé with a ton of personality and one of the best rosés we’ve tasted all year (we stumbled upon it just this month, but that’s a different story).  You can expect a clean slash of freshness— lime zest, white pepper and peaches. Dry, tight, and alive, a wine that should be chilled down and gulped down. It is after all the waning time for that. Julia’s Dazzle is made from Pinot Gris grapes (which naturally are a little bit pink-skinned) by Long Shadows, one of the top wineries in Washington State. Julia herself, is the 20-year-old granddaughter of the founder, the legendary visionary of Washington State—Allen Shoup. (14.1% abv)

 

90 points KM

Available at Vivino

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DOMAINE SYLVAIN MOREY

Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 2017

(Chassagne-Montrachet, Burgundy, France) $75

Every now and then, every wine drinker deserves a good red Burgundy for the sublime beauty and silkiness that such wines possess. The small village of Chassagne-Montrachet in the Côte de Beaune is best known for its Chardonnays, but Pinot Noir makes up about a third of the vineyards here and it can be stellar, as it is in the hands of Sylvain Morey. The domaine is fairly new, created when Sylvain and his sister split up their father’s domaine—Jean-Marc Morey—which exists no more.  Sylvain Morey has a way with Chassagne-Montrachet rouge. The wine unfurls itself in velvety folds of ripe raspberries and spices before drenching sheets of pomegranates, tart cherries, and salty minerals hit the palate. The creamy mid-palate is as hedonic as a soft runny cheese.  This is rich village-level red Burgundy, but tastes more like Premier Cru.  (13% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Grappa Fine Wines & Spirits

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HALCÓN

“Alturas” Syrah 2019

(Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino County, California) $35

The two biggest leaps in the quality of California wine over the last decade have been with Syrah and Pinot Noir. Both varieties have gotten stunningly good. Syrah’s advantage is that it generally costs less than Pinot Noir and lots less than Cabernet. So here’s a great Syrah for you—it’s peppery, full of red fruit, and has that savory umami deliciousness that you find in, say, meat juices from a steak that’s just come off the grill. For Rhône wine fans, it’s interesting to note that most of the vines are the “Chave selection” and the wine is co-fermented with a bit of Viognier. The Halcón vineyard sits at 2500 feet overlooking the Anderson Valley of Mendocino and the Pacific Ocean beyond.  It’s owned by Paul and Jackie Gordon who split their time between high tech and real estate to care for the vineyard and make the wines. (13.7% abv)

95 points KM

Available at Vivino

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MASSICAN

“Annia” White Blend 2020

(Napa Valley, California) $30

A few years ago, I wrote about a former vintage of “Annia” that if ivory were a flavor, “Annia” would possess it. I also feel that way about this 2020 vintage, for the wine’s purity, smoothness, and creamy density are startling and delicious. The rich (but not oaky) flavors are reminiscent of white peaches, golden apples, lemons, and sea salt. As one of our tasting team said, “this wine is where a summer meadow meets the sea.” Spring-loaded with freshness, “Annia” was inspired by the superb whites of northeast Italy. It’s a blend of Napa-grown Friulano and Ribolla Gialla with just a little Chardonnay blended in. Owner/winemaker Dan Petroski, a white wine specialist, has a knack for making impeccable, complex white wines. (12.5% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Massican

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NYETIMBER

Blanc de Blancs Brut 2013

(Sussex, England) $75

Nyetimber makes so many superb English sparklers that choosing just one to write about isn’t easy. Still, for the sheer thrill of its flavors, the Blanc de Blancs is astounding. The first sip is as pure, starched, and chalky as it gets. Minerals dart around in the wine like a thousand points of light. There are waves of crème brûleé, brioche, crème fraiche, sea salt and French vanilla custard. And in the center of it all, that addictive aroma of just kneaded bread dough ready to go into the oven.  Founded in 1086, the Nyetimber estate was mentioned in the Domesday Book, William the Conqueror’s great land survey of England and Wales. (12% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Wine.com

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SANTO WINES

“Volcanic Terroir” Assyrtiko 2019

(Santorini, Greece) $25

Assyrtiko, the white wine that brought world attention to the stunningly beautiful volcanic island of Santorini, is made in several styles today. But my favorite has always been the original style—fresh, pure, bone-dry, and made without the merest trace of oak. Santo Wine’s Assyrtiko—from 60- to 80-year-old vines —is exactly that, a wine that captures the lemons-and-salt-air crispness that Assyrtiko is known for. Sparks of minerals and acidity light up the wine, making it extra delicious with seafood. (14% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Astor Wines

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PAUL JABOULET AINÉ

“Mule Blanche” Crozes-Hermitage

(Crozes-Hermitage, Rhône Valley, France) $36

If I ever imagined that Marsanne—the workhorse white grape of the northern Rhône —lacked elegance, La Mule Blanche (“The White Mule”) set me straight. The wine—from vines 60 years old—has the ethereal airy softness of whipped cream. And the flavors—white peaches, poached pears, lemon cream pie, and crème brulee—are so refined and luscious that they reverberate in your mind for days after you’ve tasted the wine. Founded in 1834, Paul Jaboulet Ainé owns many of the most prized vineyard sites in the Northern Rhône. The estate was bought in 2006 by the Frey family (owners of Château La Lagune in Bordeaux) who slowly converted the vineyards to biodynamic farming and who poured new passion (and considerable investment) into the vineyards and winemaking. Under the winemaking of Caroline Frey, the Jaboulet wines (Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, St. Joseph, and Cornas) are again among the greatest in the Rhône. (13% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Wine.com

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LAPOSTOLLE

“Cuvee Alexandre” Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

(Apalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile) $25

This is the best $25-and-under cabernet we’ve tasted this year, and it’s a beauty—delicious and complex with terrific dark fruit, grenadine, espresso, and cigar box flavors, plus silky, polished tannin. Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle (of France’s Grand Marnier family) and her husband Cyril de Bournet founded Lapostolle winery in 1994 and, with the help of French enologist Michel Rolland, set about making sophisticated wines at a time when most Chilean wine was straightforward and simply serviceable. Their vineyards are in the highly regarded Apalta Valley of Colchagua on decomposing granite slopes. (14.5% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Vivino

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SYLVAIN PATAILLE

Marsannay Rouge 2018

(Marsannay, Côte de Nuits, Burgundy) $36

Really good red Burgundy for under $40 a bottle? Next to impossible to find. That’s what we thought until we came upon this Marsannay from one of Burgundy’s star young consulting winemakers, Sylvain Pataille. The seductive earthy/woodsy aroma reminds me of the first scent you get when you walk into a fine antique store. Then a wave of flavors follows—mushrooms, cranberries, tea, and cherries. The texture is silk. This is one of my favorite red Burgundies to drink— just cool to the touch— on a hot summer night. (13.5% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Wine House

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ARGIOLAS

“Is Argiolas” Vermentino di Sardegna 2019

(Sardinia, Italy) $20

On these hot summer days, you could open a bottle of this delicious white and have summertime in your glass. Vermentino is one of the best dry white wines of Italy—a wine with tons of personality and the fresh aromas and flavors of white peaches, dried herbs and sea spray. Some 70% of all the vermentino grown in Italy grows on the island of Sardinia, 120 miles (200 km) off the Tuscan coast and the second largest island in the Mediterranean. Vermentinos from the south of the island, like this one from Argiolas, are the richest and creamiest. In fact, if you love the roundness of chardonnay and want a little change of pace, this is the perfect wine. Argiolas, one of the island’s top wineries, is family-owned and specializes in wines made from native varieties. (14% abv)

Available at Vivino