HomeAbout UsWine ReviewsArchivesAdvertiseContact Us

THE GRAPEVINE

Wine Columns

Wine Reviews

WineReviewOnline.com on Twitter

Critics Challenge

San Diego Challenge

Sommelier Challenge

Winemaker Challenge

THIS ISSUE'S REVIEWS

May 14, 2019 Issue

Printable Version

Wine Search

AUSTRALIA

Barossa Valley:

Red:

Thorn-Clarke, Barossa (Australia) Shiraz-Cabernet-Petit Verdot “Terra Barossa”, Estate Grown 2016 ($20, Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd):  Full and ample, with deep red and black berry and dark plum juiciness, this seductive wine will charm and delight any true lover of red wine.  Six generations of the Thorn-Clarke family have been involved in the wine business  -- they’ve been growing grapes in the Barossa since the 1870s. The blend is 30% Shiraz, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Petit Verdot.   
93 Marguerite Thomas May 14, 2019

Back to Top


Clare Valley:

Red:

Wakefield / Taylors, Clare Valley (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon "St. Andrews", Single Vineyard 2016 ($70):  This is Wakefield’s big boy Cabernet, a hedonistic red that is weighty and rich on the palate, shows notes of blackberry and cassis and a subtle use of oak that complements rather than overpowers the gorgeous fruit.  Well balanced with impressive length, this wine finishes with an attractive note of spice.  
95 Robert Whitley May 14, 2019

Wakefield / Taylors, Clare Valley (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($17):  Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, this is one of the finest Cabernet Sauvignons you are likely to find for less than $20. Showing a nose of violets and spice, on the palate the wine delivers a complex mix of blueberry, cherry and boysenberry with hints of oak vanillin.  Balanced, with supple tannins, it’s ready to drink now.
90 Robert Whitley May 14, 2019

Wakefield / Taylors, Clare Valley (Australia) Merlot 2017 ($17):  The Clare, as it is called by the locals, is most famous for its classically proportioned Shiraz, but beyond that most everything else from the Clare is top-notch. The 2017 Merlot is soft and supple, shows a distinct floral note, and aromas of plum and black cherry. And it’s a steal at this price. 
88 Robert Whitley May 14, 2019


CANADA

Niagara Peninsula:

White:

Inniskillin, Niagara Peninsula VQA (Ontario, Canada) Vidal Icewine 2016 ($50, Constellation Brands):  Vidal makes for some of the great icewines of the world and this vintage gives a glimpse into why with unctuous peach, mango and spice aromas and flavors that coat the mouth and leave a long, viscous impression where a touch of marzipan joins in.  Stilton or other strong cheeses will accent this dessert -- nothing sweet to eat, please.   
93 Rich Cook May 14, 2019

Inniskillin, Niagara Peninsula VQA (Ontario, Canada) Riesling Icewine 2016 ($50, Constellation Brands):  A very solid icewine -- the thing I appreciate most here is the acidity that takes the beautiful stonefruit and honey flavor profile and elevates it, pushing the flavors through an extended finish that keeps pumping out the goods and making me want some more.  Reasonably priced considering its quality level as well.  
93 Rich Cook May 14, 2019


FRANCE

Burgundy:

Red:

Lucien Muzard et Fils, Santenay Premier Cru (Burgundy, France) Maladière Vieilles Vignes 2017 ($42, Polaner Selections):  The 2017 red Burgundies fall into two categories: forward and charming ready-to-drink wines and more structured ones suitable for the cellar.  This Santenay falls into the first category.  I attribute its amazing gracefulness, especially for Santenay, to the old vines in the hands of a talented producer.  It combines fresh red fruit-like flavors and savory notes and ends with a delightful freshness.  Finesse-filled, it still conveys the charming, slightly rustic profile of Santenay.  Frankly, given the prices of Burgundy these days, it’s a great buy.   
93 Michael Apstein May 14, 2019

Back to Top


Provence:

Rosé:

Domaine de Cala, Coteaux Varois en Provence (France) "Prestige" 2018 ($25):  This nearly colorless Rosé is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Rolle and Cinsault from the deep south of France.  It’s given a few months to age in oak barrels to add structure and complexity.  On the palate the wine shows a touch of richness but with fresh acidity and an inviting note of fresh strawberry.  Beautifully balanced with a silky finish. 
93 Robert Whitley May 14, 2019

Domaine de Cala, Coteaux Varois en Provence (France) "Classic" 2018 ($16):  Warning, the label does not say Rosé on the front and the color is only slightly tinged with an onion skin hew, so easily mistaken for a white wine.  Make no mistake, the bulk of the blend is Grenache and Syrah.  The result of the nearly colorless Rosé is a beautiful, crisp, refreshing summer wine that exhibits notes of strawberry and melon with mouth-watering acidity.  
92 Robert Whitley May 14, 2019


ITALY

Abruzzo:

Red:

La Valentina, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC (Italy) "Spelt" Riserva 2015 ($21, Dalla Terra Winery Direct):  More wine from this appellation is starting to show up here in the USA, and that’s a good thing -- there’s an earthy dimension to the best examples that is hard to find at the price points that it’s coming in at.  This wine delivers just such, with brooding damp earth joining fresh berry pie fruit in a package with moderate grip and a long, rich finish.  Splurge on a nice cut of beef with what you save on the wine budget here.  
91 Rich Cook May 14, 2019

Back to Top


Alto Adige:

White:

Cantina Terlano, Alto Adige DOC (Italy) "Nova Domus" Terlaner Riserva 2015 ($59, Banville & Jones):  Cantina Terlano is a fantastic producer of exotic and appealing wines.  The Nova Domus Riserva is their top wine, drawn from steeply-sloping vineyards that rise from the high elevations of the Alto Adige.  Nova Domus is a white wine of impressive power and depth, blended from Pinot Bianco (60%) Chardonnay (30%) and Sauvignon Blanc (10%).  It offers a full package of pure fruit with aromas of peach, pear, pineapple and guava backed by floral and spice hints.  Its concentration and multilayered fruit character results in a is seductively rich and creamy texture.  Partial fermentation and aging in large barrels adds nuance and complexity.  This lovely white shows the remarkable richness that Alto Adige Pinot Bianco can offer.  It has the capacity to cellar well for another ten years or more, getting richer and deeper in color and style as it ages. 
95 Wayne Belding May 14, 2019

Back to Top


Lombardy:

Red:

Mamete Prevostini, Valtellina Superiore DOCG (Lombardy, Italy) Sassella San Lorenzo 2016 ($29, Massanois Imports):  Mamete Prevostini is a small producer in the Valtellina Superiore -- part of the Alpine area of Lombardy.  The Valtellina has several subdivisions, but the steeply-sloped vineyards of Sassella rank as one of the best sites.  The San Lorenzo Vineyard is enclosed within the Convent of San Lorenzo.  The south-facing slope at an elevation of 1400 feet offers a perfect habitat for the Nebbiolo vines.  Mamete Prevostini have crafted a delicate but richly nuanced red wine in the 2016 vintage.  It has a lovely bouquet of raspberries, cranberries, dried flowers, anise, leather and spices.  Its pale color belies its rich and multilayered flavors.  Pure cherry, raspberry and cranberry fruits are enhanced by subtleties of potpourri, autumn leaves, anise, vanilla, herbs and spices.  The remarkable combination of delicacy and complexity make this wine a memorable taste treat.  
92 Wayne Belding May 14, 2019

Back to Top


Tuscany:

Red:

Tenuta di Lilliano, Chianti Classico Riserva (Tuscany, Italy) 2015 ($28, Vos Vinum):  Tenuta di Lilliano’s vineyards lie at a 1000 foot elevation on clay/limestone soils and are mostly devoted to Sangiovese.  Known since the Middle Ages, the estate was brought into the modern wine era by Princess Eleonora Ruspoli Berlingieri who began bottling Lilliano’s wines in 1958.  The Ruspoli family now owns the estate.  The 2015 Lilliano Chianti Classico Riserva is a lovely example of the beauty of Sangiovese.  The nose shows pure red cherry and plum tones with hints of violets, tobacco, porcini mushrooms and subtle baking spices.  The red cherry and plum fruits dominate the palate and are enhanced by elements of black cherry, earth, tobacco and spice.  This is exciting Chianti, with the brightness and purity that defines the best of the appellation.  The vivid cherry fruit carries through the long finish.  It will be a fabulous companion for a summer grillfest this year, or it can be cellared for another decade.  
93 Wayne Belding May 14, 2019

White:

Ornellaia, Bolgheri (Tuscany, Italy) “Poggio Alle Gazze dell'Ornellaia” 2016 ($70, Vintus Wines):  Often heralded for its rich and robust red wines from Bolgheri, Ornellaia knows also has a way with white offerings.  This Toscana Bianco is a perfect example. Following a dry summer balanced by sea breezes and cooler evenings, the Sauvignon Blanc which leads this blend developed rich complexity during its ripening stage.  In the glass, characteristic grapefruit and white peach are bolstered by tropical fruit and hints of honey and white flowers, no doubt from the addition of Viognier.  The palate is lush and broad, yet balanced with an alluring vibrancy.  The finish is long and refreshing, with touch of pleasing bitterness.  A blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Viognier and 10% Vermentino.  
97 Jessica Dupuy May 14, 2019

Back to Top


Veneto:

White:

Suavia, Soave Classico DOC (Veneto, Italy) Garganega Monte Carbonare 2016 ($27, Winebow):  Monte Carbonare is one of the great sites of Soave.  Its steep slopes and dark, volcanic soil make it a unique place.  It sets a standard by which the appellation’s best wines are measured.  The Tessari family has been making high quality wines for decades, and their 2016 Soave Classico Monte Carbonare continues the tradition.  This is a pure and exuberant white wine made entirely from Garganega, with lovely scents of pear, apple, lemon, flowers, and subtle herbs.  The flavors are layered and complex, with the ripe pear, Meyer lemon and apple elements enhanced by elements of marjoram and lemon zest.  The superior quality of the wine is most evident in its rich, layered texture that lingers well at the finish.  It’s a delicious example of the quality the best Soaves can provide. 
92 Wayne Belding May 14, 2019


NEW ZEALAND

White:

Wither Hills, Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($14):  "Bottled electricity" describes this wine.  Consumers will either love it or hate because of its lapel-shaking cutting verve.  Mouth-cleansing, with the characteristic grapefruit or lime-like freshness, it would be a great choice for oysters, other seafood, or sushi.  Frankly, its edginess will cut through even a tomato-based seafood stew.   A tremendous value, but be aware of the electricity.  
92 Michael Apstein May 14, 2019


SPAIN

La Mancha:

White:

Manuel Manzaneque Suarez, La Mancha DO (Spain) Airen-Macabeo-Sauvignon Blanc "Fatum" 2016 ($12, Grapes of Spain):  Many of Fatum’s grapes come from 35-year-old vines.  One of those grapes, Airen, is largely unknown outside Spain but it is, in fact, a commonly grown white wine grape according to the website Botany One.  With a pleasant fruit character seasoned by touch of salinity this light, tasty wine is definitely worth seeking out.  The blend is 50% Airen, 35% Macabeo and 15% Sauvignon Blanc.  
90 Marguerite Thomas May 14, 2019


UNITED STATES

California:

Red:

Jordan Winery, Alexander Valley (Sonoma County, California) Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($57):  An early harvest and a short crop describes the 2015 vintage in Sonoma.   The warmth that causes an early harvest and a reduced yield can result in concentrated, powerful wines.  To Jordan’s credit, they maintained their restrained style that focuses on elegance rather than weight in this Cabernet.  Not a trace of over ripeness or heaviness, it delivers bright fruit and savory notes supported by suave tannins and wonderfully lively acidity.  The enchanting freshness keeps you returning for another sip.  Delightful now, I know from experience than Jordan’s Cabernets develop exquisitely with bottle age, so there’s no rush.  
93 Michael Apstein May 14, 2019

Shooting Star, Lake County (California) Zinfandel 2015 ($15): Jed Steele's Shooting Star Zinfandel is lighter and fruitier than a lot of contemporary Zins.  You’ll definitely want this wine to go with summer barbecued foods.  Its lush berry and balsamic flavors seasoned by a touch of oak seem made for the sweet-and-savory thrill of barbecued ribs, not to mention the salty/spicy zing of hot dogs.  
90 Marguerite Thomas May 14, 2019

Gratus Vineyards, Napa Valley (California) Petite Sirah Estate Grown 2015 ($45):  Here’s a plush, full bodied Petite Sirah that delivers the classic varietal profile without being overly ripe or overly tannic, making it bright and approachable now.  That’s not to say that there isn’t age-worthy structure here -- it’s just so well integrated that you may not notice it during your hedonistic cruise through.  Enjoy near term with bold cheeses or a juicy steak, or age it long if you must.  
94 Rich Cook May 14, 2019

Gratus Vineyards, Napa Valley (California) Malbec Estate Grown 2015 ($55):  This is a ripe, lively Malbec that focuses on plummy fruit with touches of savory brown spice and a cinnamon top note that are knit together into a pleasant big red appropriate for summer grilling -- Angus beef burgers with blue cheese butter should do the trick.  
92 Rich Cook May 14, 2019

Gratus Vineyards, Napa Valley (California) Red Wine, Estate Grown 2015 ($80):  I like a winery that’s proud of its Petite Sirah, so much so that it’s not afraid to let you know that they use some of it to jazz up their otherwise traditional Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Just five percent really fills the seams between the Cabernet and the Malbec, adding a touch of black pepper and some grip to the fleshy blackberry and black cherry fruit profile.  Here’s to truth in advertising!   
91 Rich Cook May 14, 2019

The Vineyard House, Oakville, Napa Valley (California) Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($225):  The stellar Napa Valley 2013 vintage is on suitable display here, with full throttle true to type aromas followed by a fleshy palate where supple tannins carry the integrated mix of flavors well into the distance.  This Cabernet Sauvignon is bold, but not without a fair amount of restraint.   My favorite from this producer to date.  
96 Rich Cook May 14, 2019

Talbott, Santa Lucia Highlands (Monterey County, California) Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow Vineyard "Logan", Estate Grown 2014 ($25):  I thought it would be fun to see what this vintage of Logan tasted like after it had spent a handful of years taking life easy lounging around in a dark cellar.  As most of us do the wine has benefited from a period of rest and relaxation, with little to worry about.  Indeed, its texture seems more relaxed now, more tranquil, and with all tension gone.  It is sweet and silky in the mouth, and shows somewhat less fruitiness and more earthy overtones than when it was young and friskier.  Even the tannins have relaxed and become friendlier.  This little experiment is proof that we all need a vacation from time to time.   
92 Marguerite Thomas May 14, 2019

Kendall-Jackson, Sonoma County (California) Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Reserve 2014 ($28):  Over the past decade or so K-J has moved into uber-premium California wines in a big way, yet the concept of value hasn’t been completely abandoned.  The 2014 Grand Reserve Cabernet is a case in point.  This is a superb Sonoma County Cab that delivers in a big way but at a price well below the competition.  Richly layered with notes of blackberry and cassis, a splash of wood spice and beautifully integrated tannins, it’s a stunning California Cabernet at less than $30 a bottle.
93 Robert Whitley May 14, 2019

Sea Smoke, Sta. Rita Hills (Santa Barbara County, California) Pinot Noir Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard "Southing" 2016 ($64):  Sea Smoke's Southing is always a solid expression of Santa Rita Hills, delivering rich dark fruit, warm oak spice and a weighty palate that’s long on the local earthy profile without covering the fruit character.  A serious Pinot Noir with pedigree, and 2016 keeps the line rolling. 
94 Rich Cook May 14, 2019

White:

Bonny Doon, Arroyo Seco (Monterey County, California) Picpoul Beeswax Vineyard 2018 ($18):  The lip-stinger!  Yes, acid is the order of the day in this glass, but there’s more than pucker to please your palate.  Peach, pear and, (that’s where the p’s end) a honeyed note are bright and delicious.  Serve this wine with a summer heat wave and cold green salads.  
91 Rich Cook May 14, 2019

Chappellet, Carneros (California) Viognier Cold Creek Vineyard Grower Collection 2017 ($35):  My issue with most domestic Viognier is the general level of ripeness and alcohol, which I attribute to growing conditions for the most part.  Too much is simply planted in areas too warm to deliver the high-toned aromas and fresh acidity that would remind anyone of the refreshing Viognier wines of Condrieu, in the northern Rhone Valley of France.  The Chappellet is an exception, harvested from the Cold Creek Vineyard in the Carneros district, at the bottom of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys.  It shows refreshing, mouth watering acidity with notes of honeysuckle blossom and persimmon, with a generous touch of spice. Bingo!  
94 Robert Whitley May 14, 2019

Gratus Vineyards, Napa Valley (California) White Wine, Estate Grown 2017 ($29):  Gratus is a relatively new player on the scene, and one making a splash right away with a couple of competition wins, including this stellar Rhône styled blend.  Crisp and creamy palate delivery of the stone fruit, citrus and stony mineral aroma profile is awash in lively acidity that keeps the flavors pumping through a clean finish that really pushes the fruit and stone elements off into the distance, watering the mouth and feeling breezy all the way through.  An auspicious introduction!  
94 Rich Cook May 14, 2019

The Vineyard House, Oakville, Napa Valley (California) Chardonnay Estate Grown 2015 ($75):  I like the richness of this Chardonnay and how it’s plush character is tempered by lively acidity, which allows all the spice, tropical fruit and vanilla flavors to speak clearly and finish cleanly, leaving a sweet oak impression that lingers pleasantly, dancing with the fruit and spice.  Obviously assembled with great care!  
93 Rich Cook May 14, 2019

Jordan Winery, Russian River Valley (Sonoma County, California) Chardonnay 2017 ($34):  In a word, gorgeous.  Balanced, with a touch of smoke, a touch of fruitiness and great bracing citrus acidity, which amplifies the enjoyment.  The subtle fruitiness is captivating.  There’s no heaviness here.  The freshness keeps it intriguing throughout the meal.  Other California producers would be advised to follow this kind of restrained and balanced style of Chardonnay.  
95 Michael Apstein May 14, 2019

Back to Top