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”Wine and Spirits” Top 10 and More Winners

| July 1, 2015


Great finds at all price points

By Denman Moody
author, The Advanced Oenophile

The top 10 wineries of the April 2015 issue of “Wine and Spirits” Top 50 Sold at Restaurants, are, with permission: Jordan, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Sonoma-Cutrer, Duckhorn, Cake­bread, Caymus, Silver Oak, Kistler, Veuve Clicquot and Chateau Ste. Michelle. And I noticed that Meiomi, owned by the Wagner Family at Caymus, is number 13!


Recommended Sparkling Wines:

Chandon Délice nonvintage — For those with a sweet tooth, here is the ticket in sparkling wine. A delicious offering by itself or with anything you enjoy as hors d’oeuvres, light seafood or chicken dishes. Also works with spicy! The winery also recommends pouring over ice with a splash of sparkling water and a fresh garnish such as mint, pink grapefruit or cucumber. $22

Domaine Carneros Brut 2010 — Part of the Taittinger stable and Certified Organic, this is possibly the “greenest” winery in California. Starting in 1990, one of the first to do seated pairings at the winery. The dosage now produces a wine with about 9 grams of residual sugar per liter, and the blend is 60 percent Pinot Noir and 40 percent Chardonnay. “Toasted brioche and toasted almonds.” Also, one of the most successful wine clubs! $28


Recommended White Wines:

SIP Moscato California 2014 — A high-end, sweet, juicy 100 percent Orange Muscat. Odd-shaped bottle with a screwcap. Those with a sweet tooth will not be disappointed. Luscious mouthfeel. By itself or with spicy seafood or chicken. Or as dessert with a sugar cookie. $19

  1. Guigal Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc 2013 — Absolutely stunning! Primarily Viognier, this surprising wine is fresh, rich and complete with pear and kiwi flavors. A “must” buy. $19

Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Napa Valley 2013 — Winemaker Genevieve Janssens used cooler-climate grapes from Carneros, Oak Knoll grapes for flavor and crisp acidity and Wappo Hill grapes in Stags Leap District to add a touch of opulence. Mostly aged in French oak and only partial malolactic. Tastes like a boutique even though 68,188 cases produced! $19

Cherry Tart Chardonnay California 2013 — A blend by winemaker Jayson Woodbridge from three vineyards: Stanley Ranch in Napa Valley, Oak Meadows in Sonoma County and Garcia Vineyard in Monterey County. The winery touts this as a “…sexy beast of a Chardonnay with brilliant delineation and stunning length…” $24

Chablis Maison Simonnet-Febre 2012 — While the Premier Cru and Grand Cru Chablis are certainly more limited, expensive and almost always “better,” this is an exception which over-delivers. Round, ripe fruit and a little nutty characteristic, this is a wine with minerality and seemingly a sense of place. Try with shellfish or hors d’oeuvres such as country paté or truffle mousse with cornichons. $25

Nickel & Nickel Char­donnay Stiling Russian River Valley 2013 — This startling ultra-premium wine “…combines subtle floral aromatics with tropical fruit notes that are enhanced by a viscous minerality that melts into a clean lingering finish.” Another gorgeous Chardonnay from this top producer. Try with roasted red snapper topped with crabmeat! $55


Recently Tasted White Wines from the Vintage Select Portfolio — All Recommended:

Ridgeback Vansha White Paarl 2014 — A surprisingly underpriced white blend from South Africa. $13.99

Matahiwi Pinot Gris Warrarapa 2013 — Don’t worry about the slightly dark color — it was planned. Deep and rich in the style of the best Alsatians (except for the color). $16

Smoke Screen Chardonnay Napa Valley 2012 — Successful attempt to over-deliver on quality. $18.95

Frisson (a strong feeling of excitement) Chardonnay Russian River Valley Dutton Ranch 2012 — Owned by Pam and Terry Davis, Houstonians, there are four reasons to try: excellent appellation for Chardonnay, superior vineyard, top-rated vintage and well-made! $43


Recommended Red Wines:

Il Fauno di Arcanum Toscana IGT 2010 — 56 percent Merlot, 23 percent Cabernet Franc, 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 1 percent Petit Verdot, this is the introductory wine to the Arcanum Estate Wines of Tuscany. Esteemed winemaker Pierre Seillan (Verité in Sonoma and Chateau Lassegue in Bordeaux) makes stunning Bordeaux blends, and this is the most noticeably underpriced. $28

Marchesi de Frescobaldi Castel­Giocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2009 — This underpriced Brunello exhibits blackberries and violets with pepper and spice. A perfect match with an overkill pizza at La Vista on May 24. A great value which would sell easily for 20 percent to 30 percent more. $45

EnRoute Pinot Noir Les Pommiers 2013 — Grown on the famous Goldridge soils in Green Valley, this vineyard succeeded an apple orchard and was groomed by the Far Niente owners specifically for EnRoute. Aged in French oak (55 percent new) for 11 months. Aromas of cherry, sweet tobacco and spice are followed by a rich, juicy taste. Save for a roasted chicken or duck entré. $65


Recently Tasted Red Wines from the Vintage Select Portfolio — All Recommended:

Villa Trasqua Chianti Classico Reserva Nerento 2007 and Chianti Classico Reserva Fanatico 2008 — Two top reds from iconic winemaker Franco Bernabei. Respectively, $25 and $20

Smoke Screen Napa Red 2011 — This is an esteemed owner and winemaker who successfully over-delivers. Sixty five percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 percent Petit Verdot and 10 percent Merlot. A steal at $22

Ridgeback SGMV 2012 and Cabernet Franc 2012 — From Paarl, South Africa, two worthy reds at excellent prices. SGMV $22; Cabernet Franc $27.50

Post House Red Blend Penny Black Stellenbosch 2012 — Another classy South African blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and 4 percent Chenin Blanc! $28

Tom Eddy Cabernet Sauvignon Elodian Napa Valley 2012 — Tom Eddy strives for elegance, structure and balance, and achieves it in his “introductory” red. Only 400 cases produced. $34

Fifty Row Red Galleron Cuvée 2010 — 45 percent Cabernet Franc, 36 percent Merlot, 17 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 16 months in French oak (40 percent new). $36.50

EONIAN (everlasting) Napa Valley Red Blend 2011 — An elegant but substantial blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Only 220 cases produced. Underpriced at $42

Lasseter Chem de Fer Rhone Style Red Sonoma Valley 2012 — Only 325 cases of this first-class wine produced. I have been a fan of Lasseter since its equally good 2008 Chem de Fer. $48

Brulium Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Gap’s Crown 2013 — A boutique producer of ultra-premium, single vineyard wines. One hundred percent of the profits go to charities selected by ardent fans and supporters called “The Brulium Brigade.” $60

Delectus Merlot Knights Valley 2009 (current release) — A big, rich Merlot (my favorite wine of the Delectus stable). Try with roasted duck with cherry sauce! Or a steak. $75

Meander Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2010 — Owned and made by Amy Aiken, a lovely wine made in a style of elegance and persistence. Try with a filet mignon. $75

AD VINUM Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Sleepy Lady Vineyard 2011 — Made by Chris Phelps, whose credentials include stints in Bordeaux, Dominus, Caymus and Swanson. One of the stellar, all-star winemakers in California. Rich and elegant at the same time, with noticeable weight and texture. $140


”Wine and Spirits” Top 10 and More Winners

Category: Wine Reviews by Denman Moody

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