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and availability of the wines in these newsletters may have changed,
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Gifts for the Wine Lover
Gifts for the Wine Lover
We’re almost there! We have a little over one week to go before the holidays. I can taste the egg-nog already! Is there a hand-blown crystal Riedel egg-nog glass? If not there should be.
But if you find that you still need an amazing gift to give to the wine lover in your life…or business partner, or your accountant, we still have lots of wines available. Here’s a selection of critically acclaimed, world-class, sure-to-be-appreciated choices.
Any questions? Feel free to call me. I’m always happy to “talk wine”: 647 955 8872 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to hear from you.
Since 1978 Duckhorn has been a household name in Napa Valley, a winery specializing in Bordeaux varietals and northern California vineyard sites.
After several years of working with the coveted grapes grown in Sonoma County’s Ridgeline vineyard, Decoy acquired the renowned property in 2012. Located on Oak Mountain, Ridgeline Vineyard is a steep mountainside vineyard with elevations ranging from 100 to nearly 2,000 feet.
The acquisition fulfilled the winery’s long-held dream of establishing an Estate program in the Alexander Valley and Sonoma County. The lush, structured fruit from this storied vineyard is now the core element in the “Decoy” Cabernet Sauvignon.
The 2016 is a rich, appealing expression of Sonoma County Cabernet. This is fruit-forward wine that leads with blackberry, black currant, and cocoa on the nose and palate. The lush fruit is beautifully balanced by elegant tannins and toasty-spicy notes from ten months spent in French oak
Truchard’s Merlot is harvested from five separate hillside locations on the Estate vineyard. The differences in soil, exposure, and temperature of each site combine to produce unique growing conditions, and in turn, unique flavours and structures. The vines range from 19 to over 40 years old. Cabernet Franc, grown in adjacent areas of the vineyard is added in to provide additional softness, aromatics, structure, and complexity.
The winery produces only 700 cases or so, and we were able to get our hands on thirty. The wine was aged for 20 months in French oak barrels, 35% of which were first-fill. The final blend is 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. This wine is drinkable upon release, but will reward careful cellaring for the next 10 – 15 years.
An intense nose of ripe plum, wild blueberry, and cassis; with a hint of cedar, earth, and subtle mint. The mouth is layered with bright flavours of black cherries, red currants, and sweet vanilla. Ripe, round tannins fill the palate and provide an elegant finish of dried red fruits.
“La Guiraude” is a special cuvée produced only in exceptional vintages. This is a rare and spectacular wine. Composed entirely of organically-grown hand-harvested Syrah from vines over 30-years-old, fruit is whole cluster-fermented in concrete by native yeast, then aged in one to three-year-old French oak.
Alain Graillot has proved beyond a doubt that it is possible to make rich wines from the flat land near the Isère River confluence. His concentrated reds demonstrate all that is exciting about the Syrah grape: black fruit, intense aromatics, pepper, and spicy complexity underpinned by crisp acidity and fine tannins. They are difficult to resist young, but patient cellaring for at least five years is well-rewarded.
“Lurid ruby. Sexy, intensely perfumed aromas of dark fruit preserves, smokey minerals, exotic spices and olive paste. Silky and sweet on the palate, offering concentrated blackberry, bitter cherry and spicecake flavours enlivened by a jolt of smokey minerality. Shows excellent clarity and spicy lift on the seamless, strikingly persistent finish, which leaves a cherry liqueur note behind.” 93 points, Josh Raynolds vinous.com, April 2018
You don’t have to be a Bordeaux-phile to fall in love with this wine. Rich, lush, dark and fresh….even dyed-in-the-wool California wine fans will love it!
“Nose starts with fresh brewed coffee, cedar and chocolate toffee. With a bit of air it shows ripe plum, sweet licorice and fresh leather. Wonderful dark round fruit on the palate with velvety caressing tannins. Full with a long finish with lots of dark fruit. Succulent wine.” 93 points, JamesSuckling.com, Feb 2013
“This 2010 is a spectacular wine from Annabelle Cruse-Bardinet from her 33-acre vineyard in the lieu-dit of Corbin (hence the name of the château). Lush, concentrated black currant and kirsch-like fruit, a hint of licorice and some floral notes and subtle background oak jump from the glass of this blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. It is another relatively large-scaled St.-Emilion at 15% natural alcohol, but the good news is that there are nearly 4,500 cases of this wine in the marketplace. The purity, sumptuous texture and seductive nature of this wine will endear it to most readers. It is certainly a sleeper of the vintage, as Corbin has rarely made a wine of this intensity and richness, at least not in many a year. Drink it over the next 15+ years.” 92 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Feb 2013
Simply put, Altesino’s “Montosoli” is one of Italy’s greatest red wines, and one of the best values in collectable wine you’re likely to find.
“Enticing aromas of ripe berry, chopped herb, new leather, tobacco and a whiff of eucalyptus all mingle together on this gorgeous, vibrant red. The stunning, savoury palate boasts juicy red cherry, pomegranate, white pepper and star anise while firm refined tannins and vibrant acidity lend structure and balance. It’s already extraordinary and elegant but also young and primary, so give it time to fully develop. Drink 2023-2043.” 99 points, Wine Enthusiast, May 2018
“Opulent aromas of plum, dark berry, flower and sandalwood. Full body. Dense yet vivid and energetic. Wonderful exotic character and intensity. Great finish. Drink in 2021.” 98 points, JamesSuckling.com, Jan 2018
“Balsamic notes of juniper, sage and eucalyptus are buried underneath the cherry and plum fruit in this expressive, supple red, which is dense and well-structured, with excellent balance and a long iron and saline aftertaste. Just a tad richer and broader than the blended Brunello. Best from 2021 through 2038. 1,250 cases made.” 97 points, Wine Spectator, June 2018
The Napanook vineyard which is the Dominus Estate is the oldest commercial vineyard site in Napa Valley, planted by George Yount (for whom Yountville is named) in 1838. Today it remains one of the most enviable terroirs in the United States.
The 2014 Napanook brings together 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc, carefully balanced for lively fruit and bold character. It is youthful and exuberant, produced with Dominus’s skillful, minimal intervention approach, but meant to be enjoyed when a more casual wine is called for.
“Christian Moueix showing us how it’s done; exquisite and smooth with elegance and finesse; structured yet smooth and lush; lovely now, but should last 30 years.” 98 points, Anthony Dias Blue, April 2018
“Gorgeous aromas of sweet tobacco, iodine and oysters. Blackcurrants, too. Subtle. Medium to full body, elegant and refined tannins, and yet there’s also delicious, understated complexity. Savoury. A joy to drink now, but this will improve with age.” 95 points, JamesSuckling.com, Jan 2017
“From the producer’s Yountville estate, this blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc offers thyme, stone and black pepper flavors within a leathery texture. Concentrated and structured, it further shines with black currant and tobacco notes that give it a distinct herbal edge.” 94 points + Editor’s Choice, Wine Enthusiast, Dec 2017
“A steel fist in a velvet glove” most aptly summarizes the Cabernets from Shafer Vineyards in Stags Leap District, southern Napa’s appellation among the “Palisades” of the scrubby and dry Vaca Range. Here the vines have to drive their roots deep in search of nutrients while bathing in long days of sunshine. You can see some of the vineyards below.
Shafer is arguably a “First Growth” of Napa if there ever was one. This Cabernet is their workhorse wine, but any winery would be proud if this were their flagship. Shafer’s is “Hillside Select”, featured below. Among other wines Shafer also produces Napa Valley’s most famous Syrah, “Relentless”.
“Taut and leathery, this is a thickly tannic, incredibly structured and powerful wine, softened by 7% Merlot and 3% Malbec. Extracted black fruit is poised amongst earthy truffle, crushed rock and black pepper, the aromas and flavours integrated and built to age. Enjoy at its best 2025-2030.” 97 points + “Cellar Selection”, Wine Enthusiast, Oct 2018
“Following on from the 2005 and 2007 releases, this is another stylish, complex, world-class red from Vicente Cebrián and María Vargas, with 19% Mazuelo providing the backbone of this ageworthy wine. The heat of the vintage has put plenty of flesh on the bones, complementing the savoury, spicy elegance. The tannins and acidity add balance and refinement. What a wine! 2025-40” 97 points, Tim Atkin’s Rioja Report, Feb 2018
“Marqués de Murrieta didn’t produce their top red in 2008, so I tasted the 2009 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. In 2009, the final blend was Tempranillo with 19% Mazuelo (or Cariñena), one of the highest percentages of Mazuelo ever. The grapes are now sourced from the La Plana vineyard within the Ygay estate, one of the higher-altitude plots at 485 meters. The grapes fermented and aged separately, the Tempranillo in American oak barrels and the Mazuelo in French barriques for 26 months, given its power. It has that seriousness, character and somehow rusticity of the Mazuelo, austere, harmonious and still young. It has good depth and concentration, still young and lively with fine tannins and a backbone of freshness that lifts it up. It will develop for a very long time in bottle. This is a great classical Rioja for the long haul. 109,000 bottles and some larger formats were produced. It was bottled in October 2014. The prices are increasing but so is the quality. The following vintages will be 2010, 2011 and possibly 2012. I cannot wait to taste them.” 96 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Feb 2018
“Loads of dark tobacco aromas with blackcurrants and black olives. Boysenberries, too. Full to medium body, ultra-fine tannins and lots of flavours of smoke, dried roasted chilis, black truffles, mushrooms and fruit. Bright acidity on the finish. Sexy and subtle austerity. Alluring. Very approachable now but better in 2021.” 98 points, JamesSuckling.com, Jan 2017
“The 2014s, where the production of Napanook was only 2,200 cases and Dominus slightly more than the 2015 at 4,000 cases, was another early harvest, although somewhat later than 2015. The 2014 Dominus, which is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot really struts its stuff. Moueix’s belief in dry farming seems to be paying off with stronger and stronger vintages, each successive year, and the 2014 is a sexy, opulent, layered, multidimensional wine with notes of red and blackcurrant, cedar wood, tobacco leaf , spice box and licorice. The colour is a dense plum/ruby/purple, much like the Napanook. This is a beauty that is already drinking gorgeously – as most 2014s are – and will continue to evolve for 25 or so years.” 97 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2016
“Coming from their valley floor site in Yountville, the 2014 Dominus is a rich, concentrated red, especially in 2014. A blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot, it sports a deep ruby/plum colour as well as a ripe nose of blackcurrants, unsmoked tobacco, lead pencil, licorice and smoked earth. With a ripe, full-bodied, concentrated style, sweet tannin, and a great finish, it has some similarities to the 1990 and will evolve for three decades or more. There’s 4,300 cases of this beauty.” 97 points, JebDunnuck.com, Dec 2017
Few wines are as renowned among wine collectors to such a degree that they need only be referred to by one word. Like Cher or Madonna.
“Hillside” is Shafer’s top wine, and one of Napa’s best, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon of epic scale which ages for 34 months in new French Oak barrels.
“Shafer’s flagship wine, and one of the world’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignons, is the Hillside Select, which comes from the rocky, volcanic soils on hillsides above the winery. Vineyard production is small, and the wine is an incredible example of Cabernet Sauvignon.” Robert Parker on Shafer’s Hillside Select, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2016
“Very deep inky-purple coloured, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is incredibly intense and impactful on the nose, revealing notes of crushed black cherries, blackberries and fresh black currants with underlying notions of charcoal, sautéed herbs, black soil, chargrilled meat and pencil lead, plus a waft of violets. Very full-bodied, very rich and wonderfully concentrated, the wall of fruit is well matched by a firm structure of ripe, grainy tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing with great length and depth. 2017-2039.” 98+ points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2017
“The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is one of the more restrained, understated versions of this wine I can remember tasting. Medium in body (in relative terms) and beautifully persistent, the 2014 makes its case more with a total sense of harmony rather than with bombastic power, as is sometimes the case. Moreover, the 2014 has really come together beautifully since I last tasted it. In 2014, Hillside Select is a wine of precision, with expressive aromatics and finely-knit tannins that support the mid-palate and finish nicely. 2024 – 2034” 97+ points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, March 2018