Santa Cristina Toscana Rosso 2014
Santa Cristina was originally introduced in 1946 as a Chianti Classico by Piero Antinori's father, Niccolò. But with the passage of the 1984 DOCG laws - spearheaded by Piero Antinori- requiring lower vineyard yields, Chianti Classico grapes became so complex and rich that they required more aging than this soft, fruity fresh wine. So in the 1987 vintage Santa Cristina became a 'Toscana', and in the 1994 vintage Antinori began including 10% Merlot to the blend. Look for vibrant ripe fruit on the nose with hints of flowers. Well-structured, soft and harmonious. Ripe tannins and lingering fruit in the finish will pair well with pasta in tomato basil sauce or with brick oven pizza.
Château-Haut-Brion Pessac Léognan 1996Haut Brion was the first recorded First Growth to be imported to the United States, when Thomas Jefferson purchased six cases during his French travels and sent them to his estate in Virginia. Unlike the other 4 First Growths, Mouton, Lafite, Latour and Margaux, which are planted to 70-80% Cabernet Sauvignon, Haut Brion has less than 50% Cabernet in the blend, with up to 40% Merlot, which explains why it is usually not as 'big' as its First Growth peers, but eminently more aromatic. Interestingly, Robert Parker makes a point to say in his 4th edition of Bordeaux, "After more than 30 years of intensely tasting Bordeaux, I have a greater & greater affection for Haut-Brion, its character increasingly appealing to me as I have gotten older & wiser..."
Chateau Clinet Pomerol 1996Planted to 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, Clinet boasts extremely old vines with an average age of close to 50 years. It is also superbly located no more than 1/2 mile away from Lafleur and Pétrus. All of the work in the vineyards is done by hand, and the winemaking conducted with the help of wine consultant extraordinaire Michel Rolland.
Chateau La Tour Blanche Sauternes 2005 375mlPlanted to 83% Semillon, 12% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle, La Tour Blanche is a First Growth estate which is considered one of the superstars of the Sauternes appellation. The 2005 vintage in Sauternes was rated 96 and 'Extraordinary' by Robert Parker, and this is one of the best producers in the region.
Château-Suduiraut Sauternes 2005 375mlClassified as a First Growth in 1855, the beautiful estate of Suduiraut is located just down the road from Yquem. Planted to 90% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc, it is undeniably one of the great estates of Sauternes. 'At its best, Suduiraut turns out very rich, luscious wines that in blind tastings can be confused with Yquem. In great vintages, the wine needs a decade to be at its best, but will keep easily for 30 years. Richly colored, quite perfumed and decadently rich, Suduiraut can even be massive in the top years.' Robert Parker
Chateau Guiraud Sauternes 2005This first-growth Sauternes producer has 65% Semillon and 35% Sauvignon Blanc planted, and the estate fashions a super rich, intense wine by picking late, making numerous passes through the vineyard for the ripest grapes and by using a generous amount of new oak aging. In recent years, it has become a highly sought-after wine for the nectar lovers!
Chateau L'Evangile Pomerol 2006Superbly situated next to La Conseillante, Pétrus and Vieux-Chateau-Certan, this extraordinary vineyard was purchased by the Rothschild family of Château Lafite in 1990 and the wines keep getting better and better... Lafite's goal is for L'Evangile to rival Cheval Blanc and Pétrus year in and year out. The 34.6-acre vineyard is brilliantly situated on deep, gravelly soil mixed with both clay and sand, and is planted to 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc with an average age of vines of 45+ years.
Château-Haut-Brion Pessac Léognan 2007Unlike the other 4 First Growths, Mouton, Margaux, Lafite and Latour, which are planted to 70-80% Cabernet Sauvignon, Haut Brion has less than 50% Cabernet in the blend, with up to 40% Merlot, which explains why it is usually not as 'big' as its First Growth peers, but eminently more aromatic. The growers in Graves learned that Merlot performed extremely well in their soils, so most producers use a fair amount of the grape made famous by the esteemed Pomerol estate, Chateau Petrus. However, Cabernet Sauvignon is still the most widely planted varietal in Graves, which gives the most power and tannins. The combination of elegance and power must have led Robert Parker to say in his 4th edition of Bordeaux, "After more than 30 years of intensely tasting Bordeaux, I have a greater and greater affection for Haut-Brion, its character increasingly appealing to me as I have gotten older and wiser..."
Château-Hosanna Pomerol 2008Planted to 71% Merlot and 29% Cabernet Franc with old vines averaging 40 years, Hosanna was previously known as Certan-Giraud. Owned by the reputable Jean-Pierre Moueix firm, the talented Christian Moueix has made Hosanna into a superstar since their acquisition in 1998. Parker gushes: 'Hosanna comes closest in aroma, taste and texture to a hypothetical blend of Cheval Blanc and L'Evangile (both of which are located only about one mile away). It is one of Pomerol's finest.' Only 1500 cases produced each year.
Chateau Lynch-Bages Echo de Lynch Bages 2009
Château-Léoville-Las-Cases Saint Julien 2007This stellar estate is planted to 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Franc, with an average age of 35+ year vines. Located next to Chateau Latour, the wines produced here are majestic, ageworthy, and traditional. A Second Growth of Saint Julien since the classification of 1855, Leoville Las Cases not only deserves this status, it is thought by many critics and collectors to be of the highest First Growth quality. It is also considered one of the longest lived wines in virtually every vintage, including 2007.
Domaine Allary Haut Brion Pessac Léognan 2008Domaine Allary Haut-Brion (which used to be called Domaine de la Passion Haut-Brion) is a 1.5-hectare parcel of vines situated in the heart of First Growth Haut-Brion's vineyard. From 1954 to 1978, the property bottled under its own name, but for the past 30 years, the grapes have been going into Haut Brion wines under a cropshare agreement. Planted to 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, Allary Haut-Brion is owned by Dr. Michel Allary who decided once again produce a domaine wine at the property and 2008 is the first vintage under the new label. His daughter and grandson ensure a family-owned and managed future. Today the wine is made by celebrated Bordeaux consultant, Stéphane Derenoncourt, who is known for being somewhat modern in his approach, late harvesting and using a fair amount of new wood, to give the wines softer, sweeter tannins; but in other ways, this wine is very traditional. The new generation of Allarys work the gravel and sandy clay vineyard by hand or using horses. There are no tractors. Next year biodynamic viticulture will be introduced.
Château-Calon-Segur Saint Estèphe 2011'The great Madame Denise Gasqueton, a Bordeaux icon whom I always visited early in the morning (8:15 a.m. for nearly 20 consecutive years), passed away on the first day of the 2011 harvest. The 2011 Calon-Segur is a fitting tribute to her extraordinary passion and love for this fabulous estate in the northern sector of St.-Estephe. A very strong effort, it boasts an opaque purple color as well as surprisingly sweet tannin and abundant quantities of black cherry, black currant and dusty, loamy scents. Medium to full-bodied with beautifully integrated tannins and sensational purity and length, this super effort is a wonderful homage to the memory of Madame Gasqueton. Moreover, it is potentially one of the longest-lived wines of the vintage and should drink well for 25 or more years.' reported Robert Parker April 2012 This historic 3rd Growth estate in Saint Estephe dates back to Roman times, and has enjoyed an excellent reputation for over 500 years. In the 18th century Calon Segur was part of the great Segur estate which included Lafite, Latour and Mouton. During this time, the owner, Marquis de Ségur, was fond of saying "I make my wine at Lafite and Latour but my heart is in Calon" - a quote which explains the heart motifs that are dotted all around Calon-Ségur - on walls, fireplaces and even the wine label itself. Calon Segur is situated on a bed of sandy gravel and iron-enriched limestone in the northernmost part of St.-Estephe and has vines averaging 35 years. Planted to 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, the estate produces three red wines from its vineyard.
La Serena Brunello di Montalcino 2012The La Serena estate has belonged to the Mantengoli family since the 1930s. In 1988 brothers Andrea and Marcello Mantengoli entered the family business and started making wine at the property. What began as a one-hectare farm has since grown into nine hectares, with about six of those under vine, dedicated exclusively to Sangiovese for Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. The zone of production, Torrenieri, is in the northeast corner of Montalcino at about 400 meters above sea level. The soil here is similar to the Pertimali and Montosoli cru areas, but is slightly less compact, providing wines with structure but perhaps more approachability in their youth than their neighbors. Enologist Paolo Caciorgna is making award winning wines.
Fattoria di Felsina Fontalloro 2013Fattoria di Fèlsina is one of the greatest quality estates in Tuscany. Based in the Chianti Classico region, Fèlsina produces one of the finest ranges of ageworthy and complex Chianti bottlings in all of Italy. Unlike many of their neighbors, Fèlsina has never succumbed to the temptation to produce "new age" Chianti made of international-styled blends that include Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Instead, they continue to use solely Sangiovese in their Chianti wines. Consequently, their elegant yet intensely flavored Chiantis place them firmly among the top handful of Chianti producers, with the best vintages of their top Riserva Chiantis often approaching Brunello di Montalcino (also 100% Sangiovese) in terms of complexity and potential for longevity. In addition to their distinct bottlings of Chianti Classico, Fèlsina also produces one of Italy's top Vino di Tavola's (or IGTs), called Fontalloro. Fontalloro is sourced from old Sangiovese vines in three top vineyards that straddle the border between two of Chianti's top regions: "Classico" and "Colli Senesi". The vineyards are practicing biodynamic and all of the fruit is hand-harvested. It is produced from vines that are in excess of fifty years of age, the fruit is deand aged in small French oak barrels for fifteen to eighteen months prior to bottling. Vinification: After de-stemming and pressing, 28-30oC fermentation with automatic daily punch-downs, followed by 16-20 day maceration. Aging: The wine was then drawn off, underwent malolactic fermentation, and went into barriques in March-April for 18-20 months. It was blended in stainless steel, then aged in glass 8-12 months. Production: 3,335 cases made. 'Felsina is a reference-point property for readers who want to discover the best Tuscany has to offer. Prices remain exceedingly fair considering the quality of what is in the bottle.' raves Wine Advocate
Domaine-Humbert-Frères Fixin 2015The village of Fixin may be somewhat off-the-radar among the more famous red wine towns of Burgundy (such as Gevrey-Chambertin, Vosne Romanee and Chambolle Musigny), but the area produces excellent mineral-driven Pinot Noirs from famous domaines including Meo-Camuzet. The up-and-coming Humbert brothers are doing a terrific job with their Fixin. And, the 2012 vintage in general is the best set of Pinots from the Humbert brothers that we have ever tasted. There is a gentle touch of new wood on the earthy dark berry fruit profile of the 2012 Fixin. The palate is refined and the wine's minerality adds energy to its medium-bodied flavors. "Frédéric Humbert and his younger brother Emmanuel run this 6 ha domaine. Readers will notice that the vineyard holdings appear similar to both of the Dugat domaines and this is not by chance - the Humbert brothers are cousins of Claude and Bernard. Emmanuel Humbert unequivocally told me that 2012 is "the best vintage that I have ever made. 2005 is good as are 2009 and 2010 but 2012 is the kind of vintage that I have always dreamed about making. This is true even though the growing season was also one of the most difficult that we have ever faced. We began picking on the 20th of September and brought in beautifully clean and ripe fruit. The small berries had high skin to juice ratios and it's evident in the wines as they are very concentrated. Importantly though they're fresh with good acidities that contributes to the sense of vibrancy and elegance that the best burgundies always exhibit. I love the 2012s and the only problem with them is that yields were down fully 40%." Burghound reports
Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Juggernaut is made from steep hillside vineyards on mountainous terrain in Alexander Valley, the Sierra Foothills and Livermore Valley in California. Hillside vineyards have less access to water, with the rockier soil also holding fewer nutrients. These conditions stress the vines, resulting in the production of a fraction of the fruit of most vineyards. The harsh environment causes the vines to struggle, yielding fewer clusters and smaller berry size. Since most of the flavor resides in the grape skins, the result is berries that are loaded with rich, ripe, intensely concentrated flavors and complexity. Aged 20 Months in New French Oak Barrels, this wine has aromas and flavors of black currants, vanilla , l icorice and blackberry with a creamy texture on the finish.