702 Franciacorta, Contadi Castaldi, Italy $44
This is a lively brut, full of fragrance, tending to smoothness and an accessible sensory language, with a balanced and versatile style. In the glass it is yellow in colour with greenish reflections, enlivened by a fine and persistent perlage. The nose is fresh, with floral notes of lime, shades of citrus, white peach and green pepper. The mouth is tight and crisp, fresh and vertical, full-bodied, refined and with a lingering very enjoyable finish.
Italian White Wines
330 Chardonnay, Cervaro Sala, Antinori, Umbria $73
This has a lovely golden color, with exquisite aromas of baked apple studded with clove, meadow flowers, salted butter and burnt piecrust. Full-bodied, with a surprisingly linear palate, turning crisp on the finish. Thick, tight and layered.
This has a lovely golden color, with aromas of apple tart and notes of sultana and spices. Full-bodied, with a lemony acidity that gives a fresh attack. Hints of vanilla cream latch on and provide a lingering apple pie finish. Layered, long and finely crafted. Rich and wonderful.
Needs big, rich food. Very ripe aromas of pineapple and apple. Full-bodied, soft and round, with lovely, slightly off-dry flavors of apple pie and vanilla and exotic fruit
A vibrant, vivid Gavi with lemon, ash and mineral aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, with good fruit and a lively finish.
A crisp, mouthwatering, medium-weight version, with apple, grapefruit and almond notes. Stays refreshing, ending on a bitter citrus peel flavor.
Multilayered on both nose and palate, evoking lemon rind, apple, pineapple. Medium- to full-bodied, with good banana and light caramel flavors. Very long and flavorful.
Displays aromas of cantaloupe, peach, mango and light apple. Full-bodied, with minerally and spicy character and a long finish of tropical fruit.
Italian Red Wines
Amarone & Ripasso
Amarone della Valpolicella is a typically rich Italian dry red wine, made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina. Grapes are harvested perfectly ripe in the first two weeks of October, by carefully choosing bunches having fruits not too close to each other, to let the air flow. Grapes are allowed to dry, traditionally on straw mats. This process is called Rasinate (to dry and shrivel) in Italian. The pomace left over from pressing off the Amarone is used in the production of Ripasso.
100 Cesari, 2013 $72
This fresh, juicy red is driven by a rich note of black licorice snap, mixed with damson plum and crushed currant flavors that show accents of freshly ground spices-anise, clove and cardamom. Features fine balance and polish throughout, with a sweet smoke note and subtle tannins that build on the finish.
A spicy core of ground white pepper, anise and a touch of cinnamon is wrapped with subtle flavors of black cherry puree, black licorice and dark chocolate shavings. Well-balanced and elegant, with a fresh finish
Pretty blueberry and cherry aromas on the nose, with lovely intensity. Full-bodied, round and juicy, with loads of fruit and a soft, caressing palate. Long finish. So good now.
Light tannins add subtle grip to this supple Amarone, framing flavors of sticky, sun-dried date, black cherry, and crushed black raspberry, with aromatic hints of sweet smoke, loose tea leaf and lots of ground spice. The finish is long and refined.
Ripe berry flavors of blueberry and blackberry play off of smoke, macerated plum, dark chocolate and herbes de provence notes in this fresh, well-balanced red. Light tannins show on the refined finish.
Bold, powerful red. Aglianico is deep ruby in color with black fruit and Earth aromas. Powerful and broadly structured with firm tannins and a long finish. At maturity, Aglianico displays a deep garnet color and rich, satiny texture with aromas of coffee and leather.
106 Feudi S.Gregorio, Rubrato, 2012/2014 $36
Dried cherry and cassis flavors are accented by dried flowers and spices, with hints of pine. Bright acidity keeps this lively, while modest tannins add grip to the finish.
Barbaresco is a powerful Italian wine made with the Nebbiolo Grape. Barbaresco is produced in the Piemonte Region in an area of the Langhe immediately to the East of Alba and specifically in the communes of Barbaresco, Treiso and Neive. The wine is often compared with Barolo—another Nebbiolo based wine from the Piemonte area. Though the wines do share many similarities, there are some distinct differences between them. DOCG regulations stipulate that Barbaresco's wines must be aged for a minimum of two years (at least one year in oak) prior to release and aged for at least four years to be considered a Riserva.
108 Michele Chiarlo, 2011/2013 $64
Shows plum and raisin aromas, with hints of black licorice. Full-bodied, with chewy tannins and a long finish.
Ripe and raisiny on the nose, with floral and mineral notes. Full-bodied, with thick, raisiny fruit, fine fruit-coated tannins and a long mineral finish.
A ripe, fruity style, featuring cooked plum, leather and sweet spice flavors, with a hint of porcini. There's bright acidity, and the tannins are melting into the texture. Offers fine, sweet fruit and spice on the lingering aftertaste.
Complex aromas of blackberry, clove, plum and black licorice. Full-bodied, with big, velvety tannins and a long, rich finish.
Shows pure plum on the nose, with a combination of violet and smoke. Full-bodied, with layers of ultrafine tannins and a very long finish. Caresses the palate. A wine of strength and elegance.
Barolo is an Italian wine, one of many to claim the title "Wine of Kings, And King of Wines." It is produced in Cuneo's province, south-west of Alba, within the region of Piemonte. The wine is produced from the Nebbiolo grape. Barolo typically smells of tar and roses, and can take an unusual orange tinge with age. When subjected to aging of at least five years, the wine can be labeled a Riserva.
113 Prunotto, 2012 $105
Ripe, round and utterly distinctive, a rich-textured, refined wine with layers of spice, black cherry, black raspberry and cola winding through very fine, smooth-textured tannins, echoing coffee and violets along with the fruit.
Glorious aromas of roses, raspberries and light spices. Full-bodied, round and very silky, with pretty fruit and a delicate finish.
Intense red. Full, rich with berries and floral notes as well as aromas of licorice, dried herbs and spices. Solid structure and a rich softness as well as a lingering finish.
Chianti is Italy's most famous red wine, which takes its name from a traditional region of Tuscany, where it is produced. It may have a picture of a black rooster on the neck of the bottle, which indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the "Gallo Nero" Consortium. Aged Chianti (38 months instead of 4–7), may be labeled as Riserva.
120 Castellare di Castellina, 2015/2016 $37
Blackberry, plum and milk chocolate on the nose. Full-bodied, with soft, round tannins. Caresses the palate. Juicy, fruity and delicious.
A taut, well-toned red, laced with cherry and raspberry flavors and married to firm structure. Rich and complex, yet open in texture, ending on a cedary note.
A juicy, rich wine, offering lots of fruit. Full and velvety, with sliced plum and chocolate flavors. A big Chianti Classico. Needs a little time to mellow.
Brunello di Montalcino
Brunello (the little dark one). In this dryer, hotter, and more Mediterranean climate of southern Tuscany, the limestone and sand soil produce a muscular grape capable of making a rich, dark, concentrated red.
116 Col D'Orcia, 2012/2013 $94
Tightly knit, exhibiting focused cherry, red currant and tobacco flavors, with hints of leather and licorice. Its structure is steely and meshes with the finely woven texture, leaving a harmonious impression as the spice and tobacco notes extend on the finish.
A spicy version, sporting cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and licorice aromas and flavors. There's a core of cherry, along with bright acidity and firm tannins. Elegant and forward, with fine length.
A glycerol-like texture joins licorice and menthol notes to lend this red an air of maturity, with a core of cherry and raspberry fruit. This is beautifully balanced, though the tannins will be even smoother in a few years. Fine, mineral aftertaste
Smooth and round, this red offers cherry, bitter almond, spice and woodsy notes. The tannins are dense, but this is balanced overall and lingers on the finish.
Montepulciano D'Abruzzo is a type of wine grape as well as a type of red wine made from these same grapes in the Abruzzo region. It is typically a fruity, dry wine with soft tannins.
126 Zaccagnini, Riserva, 2014 $33
Offers black cherry aromas, with hints of dried ginger, earth and oak. Full and silky, with spicy vanilla coming through on the palate.
Ripe and polished, with spice and oak notes accenting the dark plum and berry character in this full-bodied red.
Fresh and fruity with raspberry and cherry character. Hints of wild flowers. Full-bodied, with silky tannins and a caressing, refined finish. Lovely, seductive wine.
Nero D'Avola is the most important red wine grape in Sicily and is one of Italy's most important indigenous varieties. It is named after Avola in the far south of Sicily and its wines are compared to New World Shirazes, with sweet tannins and plum or peppery flavors.
183 Planeta, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, 2015 $39
A firm, medium-bodied red, offering a pure core of cherry and currant fruit woven with hints of tobacco, olive and spice, remaining fresh through the finish.
Ripe damson plum, forest fruit, orange peel and floral aromas. Medium-bodied, with a hint of orange and dark chocolate character coming through. Finishes tight and fresh.
Plummy and floral, with pine-accented red and black fruit notes mixing on a minerally frame as bright acidity and spice drive the fruit-filled finish.
The grape is thought to derive its name from the Piedmontese word Nebbia, which means fog. During harvest, generally in late October, a deep, intense fog sets into the Langhe region. The grape is used to make wines such as Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, and Ghemme. These lightly colored red wines can be massively tannic in youth with intriguing scents of tar and roses. As they age, the wines take a characteristic brick-orange hue at the rim of the glass and mature to reveal complex aromas and flavors.
131 Travaglini, Gattinara, 2013/2014 $59
Has lots of dried flowers and very ripe fruits, with a Christmas pudding undertone. Full-bodied, with chewy tannins and a long, rich finish. A little Port-like, but rich and impressive. Consistently delicious.
Offers dried fruits such as prune and cherry, with cedar. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins and a soft, pretty texture. This has so much subtle fruit, with lovely caressing tannins.
IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipical = Typical Regional Wine) Wines are, if of a certain quality, also called SUPER TUSCANS. An IGT Toscana guarantees that a minimum of 85% of the grapes used in the wine have grown in the region (this is an insurance that we don't have if we drink a "vino da tavola" which could come from any part of the world.) However, much of the IGT wine is produced with grapes that come from the wine producers' own vineyards, especially when talking of the super tuscans that are top quality wines. The grape variety, vilification, aging and final blend are all up to the creativity of the wine maker.
135 Antinori, Villa Antinori, 2015 $34
A red with depth and richness, this boasts black cherry, blackberry and tobacco notes. Well-proportioned, yet requires some time to absorb its tannins. Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
Black cherry, blueberry and floral aromas and flavors highlight this rich red. Its ample flesh coats the tannins, but there's structure underneath. Fine length. Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sweet blackberry character, with hints of blueberry and black licorice. Full-bodied, with chewy tannins and a fresh herb and berry aftertaste.
Offers so much on the nose, with cassis, currant and blueberry aromas. Full-bodied, with juicy, velvety tannins and a very long finish. A lovely combination of ripe fruit and toasty oak.
A sleek, perfumed red, showing floral, black currant and cherry flavors, with a hint of vanilla. The oak is well-integrated, with a fresh finish. Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.
This has blackberry and violet on the nose and palate, with hints of toasty oak. Full-bodied, silky and long. Reserved and very fine.
The bright and focused flavors of black cherry, blackberry and sweet spice converge in this rich, lush and harmonious red. The structure maintains freshness, driving the lingering finish. Best from 2014 through 2028.
Lots of young Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Lacks a bit midpalate, but this is clean and very fruity. Surprisingly, there is very little tannic hit on the finish. Enjoy the vibrance. 50 percent Merlot and 50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.
Rich and decadent, showing loads of Cabernet and Syrah character. Full and soft, with gorgeous fruit and a long finish. So ready, so opulent. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.
Black in color, with intense aromas of currant, blackberry and new wood. Full, silky and deep, with beautiful, ripe fruit and polished tannins. Keeps going on the palate. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Best after 2011.
Aromas of smoke, toast and vanilla meet up with black cherry, plum and spice flavors in this powerful red. Fresh and balanced, leaning a little toward the charred oak.
Full and silky red, with plenty of ripe tannins and loads of fruit, yet also subtle and layered. This very pretty red should improve with lots of bottle age. Sangiovese and Malvasia Nera.
California White Wines
351 Chardonnay, Jordan, Russian River $52
The texture is a bit raw, yet the pear and apple flavors are ripe, with a hint of nutmeg from oak. Balanced and easy-drinking.
This vintage is very aromatic, fruit forward, loaded with aromas of lemon and lime, and accented with nougat, green apple, spices, pear and touches of wet stone minerals.
Complex, with rich fig, melon, honeysuckle and spice notes. Full-bodied and focused, ending with an elegant mouthfeel.
This full-bodied Chardonnay boasts aromas of pear, green apple, honeydew, orange, lychee and peach perfectly balanced by a fruit entry.
Part of the wine spent minimal time on oak, imparting a hint of hazelnut aroma. The balance of the wine was fermented in small, stainless steel barrels which allow unique characteristics of the vineyard to come through...Pear and green apple, lemon vest, honeysuckle, flint flavors, and a refreshing finish.
Delivers a beam of ripe pear, green apple, floral and spicy scents that are fresh, lively and full-bodied, ending with a snappy fruit and mineral edge.
A very distinctive and exotic style that's well-executed. Ultrarich and creamy, offering a medley of butterscotch, fig, roasted marshmallow and honeysuckle flavors, ending with a lingering finish.
Effusive aromas of pineapple upside down cake, toasted hazelnut, and delicate honeysuckle.
This Chardonnay is quite elegant with its mineral style, akin to a white burgundy on steroids. Fruit forward and a rich textural body make this complex wine a real crowd pleaser.
Aromas of juicy pineapple, guava and lemon zest mingle with notes of sweet vanilla and honeysuckle.
Bright lemon, grapefruit and lime notes are refreshing, with tropical hits of pineapple, mango, and passion fruit that gain momentum of the finish. Stylish, with intensity and a spicy quality.
California Red Wines
160 Simi, Alexander Valley, 2015 $41
A delicious Cabernet at a terrific price. Smooth, rich and juicy, with tiers of lively black cherry, wild berry and blackberry fruit that are deeply concentrated with a supple, elegant mouthfeel.
Complex, offering a mix of dried currant, herb, cedar and tobacco. Full-bodied but not heavy, ending with tight, firm tannins.
Firm, tight and concentrated, with a complex, well-structured mix of currant, mineral, sage and savory herb notes that are compact yet focused and also long and persistent, pushing past the chewy tannins.
This taut red delivers spicy cedar, dried currant and blackberry flavors. Firm and well-built, this ends with a complex, layered finish, with tight tannins.
Benefits from the riper year, with more generous plum and wild berry fruit woven in with the tobacco, herb and sage. Ends with firm, chewy tannins.
Openly fruity, rich, lush and layered, serving up a complex mix of plum, blackberry, black licorice and spices. Full-bodied and supple-textured, ending with a long, persistent finish that keeps repeating the core flavor themes.
Smooth and supple-textured, with pleasing plum and black cherry fruit that's engagingly easy to drink, maintaining its fruit purity.
Plum, spice, earth, dried herb and sweet oak aromas. Medium body with well-integrated fruit, spice and oak flavors. Balanced acidity and tannin give a long finish with flavors that linger.
Firm and spicy, offering a modest display of berry and currant character, with touches of mineral, smoke, graphite and cedary oak. Ends with good depth and concentration.
At first this wine is all about fruit; ripe dark cherry and blackberry are framed by toasty oak with hints of coffee, tea and vanilla. The dark fruit is vibrant on entry, which leads to a full rich mouth coating mid palate and nicely balanced fine tannin.
Aromas of smoldering campfire embers lead to a complex mix of dried berry, mineral and black olive, with a touch of dark berry jam. Nicely layered, clean and focused, firming the finish.
Tightly wound, with a firm, dry, tannic band of dried currant, roasted herb, chicory and cedar.
Very dark, rich and tarry, with black licorice, mocha and dried blackberry fruit that's also firmly tannic, ending with a chewy edge.
Direct and forward, with chewy earth, dried berry, cedar and crushed rock flavors, this has plenty of appealing elements.
150 Decoy, Napa Valley, 2014/2015/2016 $44
Appealing for its aromas of red currant and spicy cedar, with juicy, layered plum and toasty vanilla flavors.
Pure, ripe and vivid flavors of red cherry, raspberry and pomegranate form the core of this supple and enjoyable offering.
A rich, graceful style, with lively plum, blackberry, floral, cedar and crushed rock notes. Most impressive on the finish, where the flavors weave a charming tapestry. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc.
Aromas of ripe, complex currant and plum lead to layered berry, mineral and sage on the pallet.
Firm, with tough, chewy tannins and a mix of charcoal, smoke, dried herb, tobacco and cedar flavors, maintaining a tannic profile throughout. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Carmenère.
A delicious wine, long and detailed. Smooth, rich and spicy, it shows complex and concentrated currant, anise, cedar, tar and cherry flavors. Bordeaux blend
This delicate, subtle style combines ripe black cherry, wild berry and plum flavors with touches of anise and black licorice. Full-bodied, with a graceful finish.
The flavors of dusty earth, oak, underbrush and dried flowers join dried berry and mineral notes, lending this a Bordeaux-like flavor profile and structure.
Offers both a rich, supple, seamless core of earthy dark berry and touches of rustic loam and dried leather scents, the latter of which give this a drying sensation on the palate. Ends with dried herb, olive and savory notes that Opus fans will love.
171 Byron, Santa Maria Valley, 2014 $41
Highly distinctive, deliciously rich and focused, with flavors of anise, blackberry, cedar, pencil lead, graphite and black licorice. Deftly balanced, this maintains a tight focus and emphasis on pure flavors.
Aims high stylistically, offering candied black cherry and wild berry notes that turn firm and loamy, gaining depth, yet ending with a drying tannic edge.
Ripe, generous and welcoming, with supple tannins surrounding caramel-accented cherry and tangerine peel flavors, lingering easily.
Very Burgundian in style and substance, this offers notes of earth, nutmeg, candied orange slice and dried black cherry, revealing a measure of maturity and finesse.
Fresh and snappy, with firm tannins and a core of mineral-laced wild berry, mocha, cedar and dried berry notes.
Sleek, structured and full-bodied, showing good intensity and vibrancy. Offers dried berry, herb, sage and mineral notes.
A rich, extracted style that's dense, but also very complex and detailed, with spicy berry flavors that fan out nicely while retaining their focus.
167 Duckhorn, Napa Valley, 2012/2013 $80
Delicately balances a deep structure with rich and supple fruit, showing red currant and cedar aromas and layered flavors of black cherry and mineral.
Dense and brooding, with currant, Asian spice and distinctively earthy aromas. Flavors of plum, mineral and cedar take on muscular tannins on the finish.
186 Seghesio, Sonoma County, 2014/2015 $44
A lively, zesty red that offers bright cherry and tarragon aromas and sleekly layered flavors of briary raspberry, nutmeg and fresh-cracked black pepper.
The weight and dimension are immediately apparent by the dark purplish-ruby color. Ripe boysenberry, clove, black pepper and hints of raspberry aromas perfume from the glass. Plush and velvety flavors of dark berry fruits and vanilla flood the palate. A lengthy finish lingers for several minutes.
Discover aromas of black cherry, sweet pipe, tobacco and dark chocolate with hints of black pepper spice and cedar. Its palate is rich and mouth-filling with ripe flavors of cherry and dark chocolate with coffee, coconut and a slight dustiness of fine-grained tannins on the persistent finish. Perfectly balanced with fine-grained tannins, richness and weight, and great persistence with a slight dustiness on the finish.