Cabernet Franc 2016

(Oakville, Napa Valley, CA) $95

Every cabernet sauvignon winemaker I know in Napa Valley is on the hunt for great cabernet franc (cabernet sauvignon’s genetic father). Indeed, cab franc now commands the highest average price per ton of any grape in the Napa Valley, which probably means it’s also the most expensive grape in the whole country. If you’ve never drunk a great franc, you must try this (only 250 cases were made, but you can still get your hands on some of the recently released 2016s). Beautifully intense and rich (but not fat), it flows with uber smooth layers of lavender, dried sage, pipe tobacco, black olives, dark chocolate, and fresh cherries. Wonderful sparks of minerality keep the wine alive on the palate. The Detert Family has a long history in California, and the Detert Vineyard was once part of To Kalon, perhaps the most famous vineyard in Napa Valley’s history.  (14.7% abv)

95 points KM

Available at Le Dû's Wines

Photo of BISOL Crede and Karen MacNeil


"Crede" Brut Non-Vintage Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG

(Veneto, Italy) $21

What is it about really good Prosecco Superiore that makes you feel as though you could drink it all day long? Maybe the lovely freshness. Maybe the purity and delicacy of the fruit. Maybe the long supple finish or the frothy playful bubbles. All of these—plus a gingery/peachy/vanillay crispness—combine in Bisol’s terrific wine called “Crede,” local dialect for the clay soils that cover the foliated hills (once an ancient seabed) of Valdobbiadene. The Bisol family has been making wine since 1542. (11.5% abv)

Available at



Oberhäuser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett 2018

(Nahe, Germany) $30

Dönnhoff is, without question, the greatest estate in the Nahe. A visit with Helmut and Cornelius Dönnhoff 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 Oberhausen, 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 K&L Wine Merchants


Schloss Gobelsburg

“Ried Renner” Grüner Veltliner Erste Lage 2017

(Kamptal, Austria) $50

Schloss Gobelsburg is one of my favorite wineries and this, one of their exquisite grüner veltliners, is from the top single vineyard (or “Ried”) named Renner.  It’s an Erste Lage—the German term for premier cru. The wine is so fresh, pure, and vivid it’s like gulping ice cold mountain air. It also fairly vibrates with minerality, and howls with white peppery sassiness. Schloss Gobelsburg is a palatial castle on the Danube River that until the 1990s was a Cistercian monastery and winery. As in Burgundy, France, the monks of Austria knew where and how to create great wine. Taste this and you’ll see. (13% abv)

93 points KM

Available at MacArthur Beverages

Photo of DOW'S Vintage Port 2017


Vintage Port 2017

(Port, Portugal) $100

It’s not often that any of us gets to drink a wine that will probably go down in history as a “wine of the century.” But the 2017 Vintage Ports are just that—mind-blowing wines, already being compared to the 1945 Vintage Ports. Of the stellar 2017s I’ve tasted, this Dow’s is especially stunning. Extremely purple, it has tremendous intensity and gravitas and yet it’s so alive it seems electrified. A whirling kaleidoscope of vivid flavors flash out of the glass–violets, spices, lavender, rockrose, pepper, licorice, boysenberries and black fruits. (When I tasted this Dow’s, the flavors unfurled faster than I could write.) You could drink this exceptionally beautiful wine now or at any point during the rest of your life. It will last close to a century. (21% abv)

100 points KM

Available at K&L Wine Merchants



“La Rose” Rosé 2018

(Côtes de Provence, France) $24

These days, there’s a sea of pink out there, and worse, there’s a general assumption that all rosés are pretty much equal. Alas, they most definitely are not. So what does an exceptional rosé have that others don’t? I’d say depth of flavor and personality. Like Château Roubine’s fantastic spicy/fruity bone-dry rosé with its flickers of minerality, bursts of citrus, and swirls of strawberry. The owner of Château Roubine—Valérie Rousselle—is the founder of International Rosé Day which, by the way, is today (the fourth Friday of June). And while a charmingly attractive bottle is no guarantee of a charming wine inside, in this case, it is. You’ll be happy you tried it. (13% abv)

90 points KM

Available at Family Wineries Direct



"The Y Series" Shiraz 2017

(South Australia, Australia) $11

Nobody does pure deliciousness better than the Australians. And this wine is a testament. Drinking it is like jumping into a pool of fresh blueberries and dark chocolate. Then a few seconds into that bit of hedonism, a nice blast of spiciness hits. It’s a wild ride—don’t miss it. Australian shiraz often used to be rather syrupy, but vintners have pulled back from that, and wines like this Yalumba Y Series Shiraz are now more beautifully balanced. And all for $11. Talk about over-delivering! (13.5% abv)

90 points KM

Available at



Lucente 2016

(Tuscany, Italy) $30

What turns good Tuscan wines into great Tuscan wines in the presence of food? I would argue that it’s the wines’ subtle suggestion of saltiness. It’s not overt or obvious, but once you think about it, you see it—a definite (and delicious) sprinkle of salt. No one knows where this comes from (and of course there’s no actual salt in any wine). But the best Tuscan wines possess this salty sense and it magnifies the flavors of foods served with them. Try this soft, juicy Lucente and you’ll see. The wine itself is a swirl of long woodsy and fresh cherry notes, and is effortless to drink. Lucente (loo-CHEN-tay) is the “little brother” of the famous Tuscan wine Luce (LOO-chay) which costs four times more. It’s a 50/50 blend of merlot and sangiovese. To die for with homemade pasta in Bolognese sauce. (Just a thought). (13.8% abv)

90 points KM

Available at



Vermentino 2017

(Tuscany, Italy) $13

What can you get for $13? Occasionally a helluva lot. Tuscan vermentino is one of my favorite summertime white wines, and this one’s downright terrific—a cold lively wave of delicious flavor (and under $15!). Vermentinos have a pure citrusy, salty-air freshness to them that reminds me of being on a beach in the Mediterranean. Grilled shrimp? Caesar salad? Just about any food that’s great in summer will be great with this. Stock up. (13% abv)

89 points KM

Available at



“Molly Chappellet” Chenin Blanc 2018

(Napa Valley, California) $38

This wine is as lively and elegant as the woman it’s named for. With its unfussy, delicious freshness, its pure summer in a glass. Before the 1960s, chenin blanc was one of the leading white varieties in the Napa Valley. Now most of it has been pulled out. But Molly Chappellet wisely insisted that the family continue to tend their old mountain chenin vines. And the result is this lovely white year after year. The wine isn’t a bit heavy, but it has a kind of melodic richness that’s very satisfying. (14.1% abv)

90 points KM

Available at