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AIA VECCHIA

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 Vivino.com

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CHAPPELLET

“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 Vivino.com

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CHACRA

“Cincuenta y Cinco” Pinot Noir 2016

(Patagonia, Argentina) $50

There are a score of compelling reasons to try this fantastic wine, starting with: how many pinots from Patagonia have you tried? And what if that pinot noir was one of the most exciting new pinot noirs in the world? And what if it was made by the grandson of the man who created Sassacaia, a wine that ushered in a whole revolution in Italian wine? And then there’s the mystical philosophy behind the wine. And the fact that the vines are ungrafted and almost 90 years old. (The story goes on and on). But if for no other reason, you should try Chacra because it’s ethereal. Because it has a lightness of being that the monks of Burgundy would have admired. Because it is pure, wild, and just plain delicious. (12.1% abv)

95 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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MERRY EDWARDS

“Meredith Estate” Pinot Noir 2016

(Russian River Valley, California) $80

Merry Edwards, one of the pioneering women of the modern California wine industry, has made California pinot noir for more than four decades. At this point, she is so highly attuned to pinot’s wondrous but irascible spirit, that she draws out a stunning range of nuances. Tasting her Meredith Estate, I felt like I was hearing pinot noir’s “music” in a whole new vivid way. Every note was pure, vibrating, and full of energy. The wine starts out with sexy earthy aromas then moves to something foresty, spicy, and primordial. At the same time, the flavors burst open in waves of blue and red fruits. The beauty and length of this wine are astonishing and deeply satisfying. If you love pinot noir, this is a wine you must give yourself. (14.5% abv)

95 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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LOUIS M. MARTINI

“Monte Rosso Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

(Sonoma Valley, California) $85

What a fantastic wine. First of all, it tastes like it costs twice as much as it does. But second, there’s a beauty and majesty here that’s impossible to ignore. The flavors come in hedonistic waves—dark cherries, minerals, rich cocoa, bay, and something fresh and vivid like the heady smell of a mountain forest. Best of all, I love how the wine’s rich flavors are encased by a soaring structure of fine tannin. Over the last several decades (since 1938), Martini has made several wines, including cabernet, from the vineyard. The oldest vines for this wine are now 50 years old. (15.5% abv)

95 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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TURNBULL WINE CELLARS

"Josephine" Sauvignon Blanc 2018

(Oakville, California) $47

Turnbull’s “Josephine” is one of a new exciting class of “Super Sauvignons” from the Napa Valley (see my blog in today’s WineSpeed), and the wine is absolutely delicious. With its lightning fast freshness, “Josephine” is pure and minerally. There’s not a whit of green here. But rather, a wonderfully rich citrus/melon flavor that bursts open like a peacock flashing its tail. Turnbull’s “Josephine” includes some of the beautifully aromatic clone known as sauvignon musqué blended in for complexity and nuance. Springtime in a glass. A must-have now. (13.1% abv)

95 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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PEWSEY VALE

“The Contours” Riesling 2012

(Eden Valley, South Australia) $31

It’s a testament to this extraordinary bone-dry riesling that it’s aged five years before release from the winery. And extraordinary is the right word. Crystalline flavors so precise they take your breath away. Waves of lime, brioche, and exotic spices like cardamom, plus a wet rocky minerality. Australia is well known for dry rieslings of ravishing freshness—especially the Eden and Clare Valleys. Pewsey Vale’s “The Contours” has off-the-charts freshness, as well as layers and layers of complexity. If you’ve never had great New World dry riesling, this is your moment and the wine is a superb deal given the quality. (12.5% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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CHÂTEAU DE BRÉZÉ

Crémant de Loire Rosé of Cabernet Franc

(Loire Valley, France) $23

There were several rosés we considered for the “Wine to Know” of this Special Rosé Edition. But dollar for dollar, no rosé offered more sheer deliciousness, freshness, and vivacity than Château de Brézé (pronounced “brez-AY”). A Loire crémant (meaning it was made traditionally like Champagne, but not made in the Champagne region), Château de Brézé has an airy richness. Its flavors are savory, spicy, and botanical all at the same time. Curiously for a sparkling wine that’s so elegant, it’s made 100% from cabernet franc. Château de Brézé was lauded for its wines as far back as the 15th century. The vineyard’s limestone soils yield chalky, crisp wines that have often been compared to Champagne. (12.5% abv)

90 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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BETHEL HEIGHTS

“Casteel” Pinot Noir 2016

(Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon) $65

In 1978, twin brothers Ted Casteel and Terry Casteel and their wives Pat Dudley and Marilyn Webb all left academia and bought 75 acres in the Eola-Amity Hills of the Willamette Valley with the (then crazily idealistic) plan of planting a vineyard and teaching themselves to make wine. This wine—their 35th vintage of pinot noir—is a glorious example of the sheer elegance and complexity that Willamette Valley pinot can achieve. Gently rich and deliciously savory, the Bethel Heights pinot noirs are never rap music, but rather exquisitely slow waltzes. (13.9% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

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CROSSBARN

Chardonnay 2017

(Sonoma Coast, California) $24

“Restraint” has never been California chardonnay’s middle name. At least historically. But lately, and ever so slightly, the pendulum seems to be swinging back, away from the sweet-oak-and-butter bombshells that have dominated for way too long. When a wine tastes like a cross between St. Joseph Aspirin for Children and a Butterfingers bar, you know a change is desperately needed. CrossBarn’s 2017 chardonnay (only 8% was barrel fermented) is a great change agent. The round, mouthfilling flavors of poached pears, quince, brioche, and lime zest are comfortable and familiar, but along with them come sparks of freshness and minerality. Plus, the finish is clean, precise, long, and (happily) not evocative of Cool Whip. CrossBarn: time to crossover. (14.1% abv)

91 points KM

Available at Vivino.com