HomeAbout UsWine ReviewsArchivesAdvertiseContact Us

THE GRAPEVINE

Wine Columns

Wine Reviews

WineReviewOnline on Twitter

Critics Challenge

San Diego Challenge

Sommelier Challenge

SpiritsReviewOnline

Winemaker Challenge

WineReviewOnline on Facebook

WineReviewOnline on Instagram



THIS ISSUE'S REVIEWS

November 29, 2022 Issue

Printable Version

Wine Search

FRANCE

Alsace:

Sparkling:

Cave de Beblenheim, Crémant D’Alsace (France) “Black Rose” Brut NV ($12, W Direct):  This is an excellent Crémant made in the traditional method with 2.5 years on the lees.  Like a true Champagne, this wine is mineral driven with wet chalk and river rocks supporting a structure of zippy pink grapefruit, strawberry, and kiwi.  A light brioche-like yeastiness is woven in from the lees aging.  This cooperative-made brut Rosé outperforms its price in every way and demonstrates the quality that puts these small-town cooperatives on the map.  With a price under $20, this is what I will be drinking over the holiday season.          
94 Vince Simmon Nov 29, 2022

Back to Top


Burgundy:

Red:

Domaine Louis Latour, Aloxe-Corton Premier Cru (Burgundy, France) Les Chaillots 2020 ($117, Louis Latour, USA):  Wines from Aloxe-Corton, even its premier crus, are overshadowed by grand cru Corton and overlooked by consumers.  Do. Not. Overlook. This.  Wine.  Its fleshy body atop a firm frame of iron-tinged flavors identify it clearly as Aloxe-Corton.  Impeccably balanced and fresh, it is well-proportioned, not over extracted or overdone. It’s a mini-Corton that has the advantage that it will be approachable far sooner than its grand cru big brother.  It’s charming now, so drink it in the next year or so, after which I suspect it will close down, to re-emerge in a decade as a grand wine.   
95 Michael Apstein Nov 29, 2022

Domaine Louis Latour, Beaune Premier Cru (Burgundy, France) Les Perrières 2020 ($100, Louis Latour, USA):  The 7.5- acre Les Perrières vineyard lies high up on the slope in a cooler locale, which may help explain this wine’s bright energy in a hot year like 2020.  Though tightly wound, as expected from a young top premier cru, its stature shows with gorgeous mineral-scented aromatics and impressive length.  Engaging red fruit flavors intermingled with clear stony notes — the site was an ancient quarry — are clearly heard.  Pure and precise, it’s a winner.          
95 Michael Apstein Nov 29, 2022


GEORGIA

White:

Teliani Valley, Kakheti (Georgia) Kisi “Glekhuri” 2019 ($20, Georgia House of Greater Washington):  Here is something completely unique in my experience.  It’s my first taste of Kisi, and it’s handled in the traditional Qvevri method, meaning it is aged in clay amphorae that are buried in the ground.  This wine spent six months there on the skins, and the result is aromas of dried stone fruit, pepper and pleasantly bitter orange rind that translate well on the palate.  There is a tannic feel that gives it some stuffing.  It’s more than a curiosity.  Try it with medium strength cheeses and dried fruit.     
90 Rich Cook Nov 29, 2022


ITALY

Piedmont:

Red:

Enrico Serafino, Barolo (Piedmont, Italy) Nebbiolo “Monclivio” 2017 ($42):  This is an amazing value among Barolos.  The Enrico Serafino Barolo is drawn from vineyards in four communes – Castiglione Falletto, La Morra, Serralunga and Monforte – and the wine reflects both the power of Monforte and Serralunga as well as the pure fruit and floral character of La Morra.  The 2017 Serafino is an elegant, appealing and complex Barolo.  While it shows the ripeness of the harvest and the sleek and subtle spiciness of oak, the unique style of the Nebbiolo grape commands center stage.  Layers of juicy raspberry, plum and cherry fruits are underlain by elements of dried flowers, leather, sandalwood, smoke and spice.  The flavors are pure, elegant and complex, with the delicate fruits enveloped by the classic, leafy, forest floor character of fine Barolo.  The beautiful, long finish combines delicacy, depth and complexity.  Delicious now, it can cellar well for another 10+ years.         
94 Wayne Belding Nov 29, 2022

Back to Top


Sicily:

Red:

Mandrarossa, Sicilia DOC (Sicily, Italy) Nero d’Avola 2021 ($12, Palm Bay International):  Nero d’Avola, Sicily’s most main red grape, is worth getting to know because it can deliver an appealing combination of fruitiness mixed with non-fruit elements.  Take this one, for example.  Its initial delivery is heavy on the fresh, black cherry-like notes.  Time in the glass reveals an alluring smokey earthy quality.  This mid-weight wine has fine tannins that provide structure, but don’t intrude on current enjoyment.  Its freshness and vivacity remind you that Sicily is not necessarily too hot for fine wine.  This bargain-priced red is perfect for wintertime fare.    
90 Michael Apstein Nov 29, 2022

Duca di Salaparuta, Terre Siciliane IGT (Sicily, Italy) Nerello Mascalese “Lavico” 2018 ($17, Disaronno International):  Consumers unfamiliar with Nerello Mascalese, the signature grape of Sicily’s Mount Etna, should grab this bottle.  Lava-like mineral notes complement the sour cherry like ones in this mid-weight red.  A long an explosive finish reminds you this is a wine to sip and savor.  It displays a Burgundian sensibility.  That is, it’s deceptively light in weight, yet provides a powerful presence. Its refined and sleek structure allows you to enjoy it now.         
93 Michael Apstein Nov 29, 2022


SPAIN

Red:

Bermejo, Lanzarote DO (Canary Islands, Spain) Listán Negro “Maceración Carbónica” 2021 ($25, David Bowler Selections):  Wow!  The aromas of ripe plum, pomegranate, blueberries, strawberries and rose petals leap from the glass with an invitation to enjoy this lively, juicy wine.  Bursting with the flavors promised by the aromas with bright acidity and very smooth tannins, it is a very versatile wine.  It is equally at home with the flavors of a holiday dinner, or a burger or picnic.  The grape is Listán Negro, native to the Canary Islands, which is sometimes confused with Listán Prieto, the Mission grape brought to the New World by the Spanish.  This wine’s charming flavors, crisp acidity and smooth as silk tannins are due to the process of carbonic maceration, in which hand-harvested grape clusters are blanketed with carbon dioxide, eliminating oxygen.  In this environment, fermentation begins within the grape until it bursts.  Then skins are separated from the fruit and the remaining or added yeasts continue fermenting the grape sugars to dryness.       
95 Rebecca Murphy Nov 29, 2022

Rosé:

Bermejo, Lanzarote DO (Canary Islands, Spain) Listán Negro Rosado 2021 ($28, David Bowler Selections):  This time last year, I wrote a column about what I learned from a visit to the Canary Island of Lanzarote.  The first thing was that the phylloxera root louse that almost succeeded in destroying the vineyards of Europe never made it to the Canary Islands, so the grapes grow on their own roots instead of being grafted onto phylloxera resistant root stock.  The island is covered with black lava due to volcanic eruptions from 1730 to 1736, which gives the island a moonscape appearance.  There is no natural source of water, so viticulture must rely on desalination.  Yet, these conditions produce incredibly distinctive and delicious wines, the like of which cannot be found elsewhere.  Take, for example, this Rosé made of the native Listán Negro grape, which we served at Thanksgiving.  Boasting a bright, eye catching, neon orange color, it was a hit.  Light bodied and dry with flavors of cherries, strawberries and orange zest fruit tempered with crisp acidity and saline notes, it was a delicious aperitif and prefect for the mélange of flavors at the holiday dinner.       
93 Rebecca Murphy Nov 29, 2022

Sparkling:

Recaredo, Cava (Spain) Brut Nature "Terrers" 2018 ($40, Rosenthal Wine Merchant):  Recaredo is one of the leading producers of Cava, now under the collective brand Corpinnat (in the past, in the Cava D.O.).  All their sparkling wines are all Brut Nature and aged with natural cork stoppers, and each bottle is manually disgorged.  Recaredo’s flagship Cava, “Terrers” is a blend of 65 % Xarel-lo, 18 % Macabeu and 17 % Parellada.  Five solid years on the lees infuse the wine with extravagant depth, yet no excessive yeastiness can be found.  This is bone dry with penetrating minerality, showcasing the signature style of Recaredo.  Its aromatic complexity and freshness are remarkable, with notes of ripe white fruit and citrus peel, along with delicate flavors of toasted baguette and aromatic herbs.       
93 Miranda Franco Nov 29, 2022

Juve y Camps, Cava (Spain) Gran Reserva "Gran Juvé" 2015 ($65, Winebow):  The Gran Juvé 2015 Cava is only made in exceptional years from the finest plots of grapes.  This blend of Chardonnay, Xarel-lo, Macabeo, and Parellada was aged on the lees in bottle for 42 months before disgorgement.  The palate is rich with notes of ripe, soft nectarine, white cherry, citrus peel, and hints of soft buttery brioche, honey, and sea salt.  It holds a consistent effervescence of bubbles, balanced acidity, and a persistent and glorious finish that returns to the fruit flavors.        
92 Miranda Franco Nov 29, 2022

Avinyó, Cava (Spain) Brut Reserva 2019 ($20, De Maison Selections):  This blend of Macabeo 60%, Xarel-lo 25%, Parellada 15 % is an appealing mix of complexity with mouthwatering minerality.  It has a yellow-gold core, with a gently invigorating mousse and ripe aromas of green apple, pear, salted lemon, raw pastry dough, chopped nuts, anise, and wet stones.  There is lots of purity of fruit and a pleasing palate-coating texture, and it thrills with freshness.  This could easily be mistaken for high-end Champagne.      
91 Miranda Franco Nov 29, 2022

White:

Bermejo, Lanzarote DO (Canary Islands, Spain) Diego Seco "Vino Ecológico" 2021 ($23, David Bowler Selections):  This beautiful white wine comes from Lanzarote, the fourth largest and easternmost island of the seven Canary Islands located just under 75 miles from the western Africa coast.  It is made from Diego, which according to Jancis Robinson, et. al. in Wine Grapes, is a synonym for Vijariego, a white grape, most likely from Spain’s Andalucía region.  The grape is thought to have been introduced to the Canary Islands at the end of the fifteenth century or early sixteenth century.  It has a distinctive saline quality mingling with Meyer lemon, green apple aromas and flavors.  It is elegant and supple with crisp acidity that will complement grilled shrimp or baked halibut.       
94 Rebecca Murphy Nov 29, 2022


UNITED STATES

California:

Red:

J. Lohr, Paso Robles (Central Coast, California) Cabernet Sauvignon "Hilltop" 2020 ($35):  I have likely said these words about J. Lohr's Hilltop Cabernet before, but it continues a string of vintages that carry a distinct Paso Robles profile in the best possible and most consistent way.  It’s plenty ripe, but well managed with supple tannins and a long, fully integrated finish.  It will last a while as well.  Bottom line, it’s a serious Cabernet value.  Contains 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc.      
92 Rich Cook Nov 29, 2022

Ehlers Estate, St. Helena - Napa Valley (California) Cabernet Franc 2019 ($77):  It has been slow in coming, but more and more premium Napa Valley producers are beginning to use Cabernet Franc as a varietal wine and not just as a blending grape, and, while Cabernet Sauvignon’s domination of the Valley is not threatened, the diversity at the high end of red wine offerings is welcomed.  The approach here is interesting.  Rather than trying to maximum the fruitiness of the grape or, conversely, making the wine light and lean, Ehlers has produced a sinewy wine, very tight, muscular and concentrated without being overly tannic.  The flavors are there and are delightful, but they have to be teased out – tart blackberries, violets, Baker’s chocolate, a little brittle meatiness, a little graphite.  It’s a wine that says, “Take me as I am,” and a day, even two, later the flavors and structure are largely unchanged.  And it doesn’t beg for a bloody strip steak as Cabernet Sauvignon might, but it certainly would accept lamb shanks or a confit with a side of mashed potatoes.    
92 Roger Morris Nov 29, 2022

White:

ZD Wines, California (United States) Chardonnay 2019 ($42):  For half a century, ZD has produced Chardonnays that combine the opulence of fruit with a rich texture and maintain a refreshing character.  The 2019 ZD California Chardonnay continues this successful tradition.  Because it is drawn from vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills, Arroyo Seco and Carneros, it has only a California designation.  Its quality, however, far exceeds most examples from appellations within California.  The bouquet is rich and forward, with ripe apple, pineapple, guava and citrus fruits underlain by intriguing floral and baking spice hints.  The flavors are live up to the promise of the nose.  Lovely tropical fruit, apple and pear flavors are backed by hints of rich lemon, vanilla and nutmeg.  It has a buttery and creamy texture that is enhanced by the lemon and subtle spice nuances that linger at the finish.  When you want a buttery, rich, classic California Chardonnay, the 2019 ZD Chardonnay will fill the bill.              
94 Wayne Belding Nov 29, 2022

Chalone Vineyard, Chalone AVA (Central Coast, California) Chardonnay Estate Grown 2020 ($25):  The history of Chalone is part of the modern renaissance of California viticulture.  Early 20th century plantings demonstrated that the Chalone vineyard yielded exceptional wines.  It was one of the most sought-after California Chardonnays in the 1970 to 2000 decades.  Ownership changes obscured the distinction of the Chalone brand for several years until the purchase by the Foley Family in 2016.  The 2020 Chalone Vineyard Estate Grown Chardonnay is rich, ripe and refined.  Layers of ripe apple and pineapple fruit are deftly balanced a refreshing middle-palate lift and by hints of butter, vanilla and baking spice from its barrel age.  The texture is rich enough and the fruit is ripe enough to balance the varied flavors of an autumnal menu.  Enjoy this delicious slice of California’s viticultural history.            
92 Wayne Belding Nov 29, 2022

Back to Top


New York:

Red:

Anthony Road, Finger Lakes (New York) Cabernet Franc 2020 ($27):  Pretty floral notes on the nose, with lively cherry, plum, pepper and zest joining in.  The palate serves those elements up in a medium bodied texture that shows each layer clearly.  Winemaker Peter Becraft notes that no new oak was used, with an eye on preserving fruit character and freshness.  I’m happy to report that the mission was accomplished.  Solid Cabernet Franc!        
92 Rich Cook Nov 29, 2022

Anthony Road, Finger Lakes (New York) Cabernet Franc / Lemberger 2020 ($25):  This bottling started in 2005, with the idea of bringing some consistency to Cabernet Franc, which at the time was the grape seen as most susceptible to wild vintage variation.  In this vintage the 50% Lemberger brings lively bazaar spice character to the fore, and the acidic pop that gives Cabernet Franc’s red fruit and pepper notes lift and extends the finish.  Go with a spicy beef prep here — burgers or marbled steaks will fit the bill.     
92 Rich Cook Nov 29, 2022

Rosé:

Anthony Road, Finger Lakes (New York) Rosé of Lemberger “Grey Series” 2021 ($25):  This offering is from the winery’s “Grey Series” — small lot, wine-club-only wines that lean experimental.  Here’s a 100% Lemberger fermented in a combination of oak puncheons and stainless steel that showcases the grape’s red fruit side — watermelon, strawberry and cherry and zesty lemon are on grand display here, with length, texture and pop in the finish.  I would guess that this enrolls visitors in the club effortlessly.            
92 Rich Cook Nov 29, 2022

Anthony Road, Finger Lakes (New York) Field Blend Rosé, “Grey Series” 2021 ($26):   Anthony Road's Field Blend Rosé leans to the austere side of the Rosé spectrum, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks anything.  Think more on the herb driven side, where flowers, bay leaf, pith and zest take center stage.  The fruit takes the first bow in the finish and begs another sip.  Serve this wine with the salad course as an elegant upgrade.      
91 Rich Cook Nov 29, 2022

Anthony Road, Finger Lakes (New York) Rosé of Cabernet Franc 2021 ($19):  There aren’t any issues with acidity shortage in the Finger Lakes thanks to the short growing season.  The predicament for a winemaker is how to use it to support ripeness, body and stylistic choices.  The focused acidity in this Rosé boosts lively cherry, strawberry, citrus and bay leaf flavors that refresh the senses and get you salivating for more.  It is light in color, but it’s certainly not light on flavor.  Winemaker Peter Becraft made this to run the table, and it certainly will, from salads to fried chicken.  Contains 15% Lemberger.         
90 Rich Cook Nov 29, 2022

White:

Anthony Road, Finger Lakes (New York) Riesling Off Dry "Art Series" 2016 ($29):  Anthony Road's "Art Series" Riesling is a “wow” wine!  The series began in 2009 thanks to spontaneous fermentation in a single tank, and has grown into a production of many different tanks from different sites, but is still all estate fruit.  The 2016 shows amazing balance of acidity to sweetness, with a rich character that has real staying power.  The lively citrus fruit is here, but it gives way to more stone fruit, more mouthfeel and more finish.  It’s tight, bright and long, and promises a beautiful unraveling with extended cellaring.          
94 Rich Cook Nov 29, 2022

Anthony Road, Finger Lakes (New York) Riesling Dry 2020 ($21):  If you are a Riesling fan like I am, you’ll appreciate the wide range of sweetness and style that is possible in the region.  This particular Riesling is for fans of dry, crisp style, featuring lemon, lime, stone and a note of cream that deepens the citrus.  A typical Finger Lakes acid profile keeps things popping brightly.  You won’t tire of this even if you start early in the day, which can be a useful trait during the holidays…just sayin'!          
93 Rich Cook Nov 29, 2022

Anthony Road, Finger Lakes (New York) Riesling Semi-Dry 2020 ($21):  Some wineries in the Finger Lakes like to show off just how versatile Riesling can be by offering several different iterations when the vintage allows.  In this bottle that falls between dry and off dry on the spectrum, beautiful harmony exists between acid and sweetness, and the winemaking choice brings a light spiced apricot tone to the citrus fruit without thickening the texture.  Just barely off dry, it’s a fine regional signature showcase that you can’t go wrong with.       
92 Rich Cook Nov 29, 2022

Anthony Road, Finger Lakes (New York) Pinot Gris 2021 ($19):  A spot-on Pinot Gris nose greets you at the rim with wool and lemon pith, and as in the finest examples of the variety, the wool and pith stay there, letting the citrus and wet stone minerality flourish on the palate.  Clean and bright from start to finish, with lively lemon zest lingering in quenching fashion.  No smoke and mirrors here — just purity of character and a little boost from Riesling (14%) that fills the middle without yelling for attention.       
92 Rich Cook Nov 29, 2022

Anthony Road, Finger Lakes (New York) Pinot Gris Skin Ferment, “Grey Series” 2021 ($26):  This Pinot Gris was fermented in bins and punched down daily for twelve days, then taken off skins for tank or barrel.  There are no oxidation notes here — just a slight tilt into the earthy side of the variety.  Celery and a dry earth note join the varietal notes of lemon and lime, and they make for interesting partners and a lot of pairing possibilities.  Give it a spin!          
90 Rich Cook Nov 29, 2022

Back to Top


Oregon:

Red:

2-Hawk Vineyards & Winery, Rogue Valley (Oregon) Tempranillo “Darow Series” 2017 ($49):  This is the winery’s estate Tempranillo from vines grown on unique, volcanic Darow soils.  Blended with 10% Malbec and 9% Syrah, it is aged in French oak (29% new, 57% 2 year old) for 30 months.  Dark, almost black in color, it displays ripe, blackberry aromas with touches of anise tobacco leaf, and dried herbs in its aroma.  On the palate, it comes across as big, bold  and savory with a most pleasingly smooth, rich texture.  The dark fruit flavors continue well into the finish which also shows sweet oak in the aftertaste.  Attractive now with integrated tannins, it should develop well for 5 to 6 years and be at its peak around 2028.  357 cases made.    
93 Norm Roby Nov 29, 2022

Planet Oregon, Willamette Valley (Oregon) Pinot Noir 2021 ($22):  Founded in 2009, Planet Oregon is Soter Vineyards’ introductory line of good value wines.  As the name suggests, it is also devoted to biodynamics and sustainability.  Sourced from several vineyards, this Pinot is fermented with 20% whole clusters using open-top fermentors.  Aging is in used French oak for 8 months prior to bottling.  Typical light garnet in color, it is your basic, correct Pinot with high-toned cherry and raspberry aromatics.  Round and velvety in texture, it offers youthful fruity, cranberry flavors with seamlessly integrated tannin.  The finish is clean and uncomplicated.  Good value.     
89 Norm Roby Nov 29, 2022

Back to Top


Virginia:

White:

Michael Shaps, Monticello (Virginia) Roussanne 2019 ($38):  I have been a huge fan of Michael Shaps Viognier and was eager to try his Virginia Roussanne.  The nose shows melons, white blossoms, and fresh apricots.  The body adds a lightly vanillin and clove spiciness to round out the fruity and floral notes. Roussanne might be an odd choice for Virginia’s relatively humid growing conditions.  The grape is highly susceptible to powdery mildew and rot, and originates from the comparatively dry, well-exposed Rhône Valley.  Despite its finicky nature in both vineyards and cellars, Roussanne’s popularity in the U.S. is growing with increased plantings in California, Washington, and Oregon.  This is a somewhat nerdy wine that nevertheless is a fan favorite with both my wine industry and non-industry friends.     
92 Vince Simmon Nov 29, 2022

Back to Top


Washington:

Red:

Bledsoe Family Winery, Walla Walla Valley (Washington) Cabernet Franc "White Label" 2019 ($75):  Drew Bledsoe retired from the NFL and started making wine with Josh McDaniels, a Chris Figgins-trained winemaker who has been receiving accolades for making exceptional wine since his early days at Leonetti.  This Cabernet Franc is a relatively new branch for the winery but in a true Bledsoe “go big or go home” fashion, the wine is outstanding.  Complex but soft, the wine shows everything from herbal underbrush and jalapeño to fresh black cherry, blackberry, and blueberry.  Further, the wine has all the power expected of a Walla Walla Washington wine and, while drinking excellently now, it will benefit from further bottle aging.  Previous vintages have sold out quickly so I would recommend grabbing some while they are still available.      
96 Vince Simmon Nov 29, 2022

Back to Top