Ridgeview
Rose de Noirs, Brut
VINTAGE 2010

JUDGES’ PANEL

Very expressive, nice coppery color, red cherry fruit, complex with good autolysis, very stylish and racy, pure.
 

Specifications

England
0
$50.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Documentation of traditional method sparkling wine production in England dates back as far as the 1660s. Each bottle of Ridgeview exhibits this accomplishment by labeling each bottle with the trademarked phrase, “Merret Traditional Method”, named after the Englishman responsible for the documentation, Christopher Merret.

Ridgeview is an iconic sparkling wine producer located in Sussex England. This Rosé de Noirs is a saigneé method wine made from Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.
A delicate salmon hue and tiny bubbles invite the first sip. Notes of fresh, ripe red berries and brioche dominate the palate. The wine is great as an aperitif or with small bites like prosciutto-wrapped melon or smoked salmon crostini.
 
Torbreck
The Laird
VINTAGE 2010

JUDGES’ PANEL

Surprisingly youthful for its age. Big, suave and complex. This wine has swagger.
 

Specifications

Barossa Valley
0
$700.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Fair warning. This is not a light wine. It stains the glass a glorious shimmering purple. It’s deep and dense and concentrated and at 15.5% alcohol, perhaps not the thing for pounding on the porch stoop on a hot summer day. But oh my, is it good.

It’s the Torbreck The Laird 2010. “The Laird” means “lord of the manor’ in Scottish, and fittingly, it’s one of Australia’s iconic wines. It’s from the Barossa Valley and shows off what the region does so very well. The Barossa is a hot place and is formerly the center of Australia’s fortified wine trade. It’s a place where grapes want to get ripe and the sunshine happily obliges.

The Laird has port-like richness, with dark chocolate notes mingling with floral lift and savory spice and a sneaky tannic structure underneath that supports lush, seductive fruit. All fruit is sourced from the Gnadenfrei vineyard, originally tended by Malcolm Seppelt until Torbreck purchased it in 2014. It’s a near-perfect site: dry-grown, southeast facing, planted with original Barossa clones and hand-tended by Malcolm since its beginnings in 1958. Three years of aging in large French barrels add an extra edge of spice. It’s liquid proof that ‘balance’ comes in all shapes and sizes.
 
Born: Dreams Come True
Junmai Daiginjo
VINTAGE Non-Vintage

JUDGES’ PANEL

Juicy, sweet and sour, ripe melon and apple, intensely flavorsome, more florality and finesse.
 

Specifications

Japan
0
$180.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

When a saké has garned as much acclaim as this particular selection, a fitting name is warranted. And “Yume wa Masayume,” or Dreams Do Come True, couldn’t be more appropriate. The choice of many Japanese celebrities and dignitaries, this saké is special. (Even President Obama was handed a bottle from Prime Minister Hatoyama to celebrate his presidency.)

With a limited production of 400 bottles per year, this saké makes quite an impression in its tall, elegant, 1,000-milliliter bottle. With succulent aromas of peach and soft ripe tree-fruit followed by a smooth finish that leaves you wanting more, this saké is certainly a dream.
 
Justino's
Colheita
VINTAGE 1998

JUDGES’ PANEL

Rich texture silky great length smoke leather.
 

Specifications

Madeira DOC
0
$52.99
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Simply put, Madeira is “Superman” wine. Any and everything that can be done to destroy a wine has been done in this legendary style, and somehow it’s even better off for it. This also means that you can open a bottle and keep it around for several months without it spoiling. As such, it’s the perfect candidate for your nightly nip.

While Colheita, Madeira is only required to wait five years to be bottled, Justino’s holds theirs back until it is ready to be shipped to the market. In the case of the 1998, this means it is held for over a decade longer than necessary, highlighting an admirable commitment to quality. The 1998 is just now coming of age, having skipped the awkwardness of its early teens. Dried apricots, burnt toffee, and hints of molasses find a very pleasant balance with beautifully toned alcohol. Everyone should drink more Madeira, and this is a shining example of why.
 
Domaine de la Vougeraie
Terres de Famille, Pinot Noir
VINTAGE 2013

JUDGES’ PANEL

Gentle precision, nice minerality and very layered and seductive, lipsmacking finish, subtle perfume, tannins were well structured and firm.
 

Specifications

Bourgogne AOC
0
$48.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Domaine de la Vougeraie is a Nuits St. Georges producer of many Burgundy wines using both organic and biodynamic methods of vineyard management to yield approximately 9,000 cases of wine per year. This is an alluring expression of Pinot Noir from the first swirl in the glass. Elegant aromas of sagebrush, lilacs, black truffles and fresh cherries are lifted by the brightness of the fresh 2013 vintage. The condition of the fruit in this wine is taut and tense prompting an eagerness to taste.The palate is toothsome, juicy, and simply snappy. This is a pristine example of just how stunning red Burgundy can be.
 
R. Stuart and Co
Love, Oregon, Pinot Noir
VINTAGE 2014

JUDGES’ PANEL

Complexity, potpourri, sappy, very fresh, bright acidity, harmonius, great cellar potential, long finish.
 

Specifications

Oregon
0
$28.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Rod Stuart is all about making wines that he loves—not just wines that might be easy to sell. After gaining experience as a winemaker in California and Washington, Rod moved to Oregon and was smitten by Pinot Noir. The winery opened its doors in 2002, and was dedicated to making wines that would be—at once—approachable, reflective of their place of origin, and versatile for pairing with different foods.

This "Love, Oregon” bottling is a fitting tribute to Rod’s philosophy. Ripe cherry fruit is accented with notes recalling soft rose petals, red licorish and toasted cedar. The wine is quite approachable and easy to enjoy now—fruity and elegant, with soft tannins and fresh acidity. To share Rob’s enthusiasm for pairing his wines with food, try this Pinot Noir with a dish like grilled salmon. The wine’s delicate red fruit and toasty topnotes would complement the charring from the grill, while the freshness of the wine will cut through the fish’s rich, savory flavors.
 
Ktima Biblia Chora
Ovilos
VINTAGE 2014

JUDGES’ PANEL

White bordeaux style with Assyrtico playing role of Sauvignon Blanc.
 

Specifications

PGI Pangeon
0
$40.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

This 50/50 blend of Semillon and Assyrtiko has some funky aromas that I find enticing. On the palate, there’s bright acidity along with a honey-like note, and the wine finishes medium-bodied but dry.  The Assyrtiko component adds a zesty lemon characteristic that lifts the wine and makes it a perfect match for fresh seafood, whereas the Semillon portion will allow this wine to age gracefully for years to come. This is a Greek beauty you could consider for hours or just drink and enjoy. Delish!
 
Artadi
El Seque, Monastrell
VINTAGE 2012

JUDGES’ PANEL

Attractive fine blackberry hedge row aromatics, fragrant herbal lift, succulent palate, velvety and seductive, elegant richness.
 

Specifications

Alicante DO
0
$45.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

El Sequé is a property acquired by Artadi in 1999 with the goal of continuing the historic wine making traditions for which Alicante has been known. The team, led by owner Juan Carlos López de Lacalle, seeks to showcase the diversity of microclimates, soil, and the strength of the indigenous old vine Monastrell (Mourvèdre) found on the property. The vineyard is located at an altitude of 1,800 feet and influenced by both the Mediterranean Sea and the nearby continental plateau of La Mancha.
Perfectly adapted to its environment, the old-vine Monastrell (over 40 years old) is considered to be the heart and soul of the property, where it produces a little over 3 pounds per vine or less than a third of a ton per acre. Supplemented with 10 percent Syrah, the 2012 El Sequé introduces one to the beauty of Monastrell with concentrated wild berry, anise, violet florality, and tar. The palate is fleshy with well-structured ripe, sweet tannins that linger with the intensity of the fruit. This ambitious Monastrell from the south of Spain is elegant, concentrated, and rewards the adventurous spirit who partakes in all that this wine has to offer.
 
S.A. Prüm
Prüm Blue, Riesling, Kabinett
VINTAGE 2014

JUDGES’ PANEL

Apricot ginger jasmine, rainer cherries, very youthful, potential to develop.
 

Specifications

Mosel
0
$24.99
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

S.A. Prum is one of the oldest families in the heralded Mosel region of Germany and the winery, nearly 100 years old, is located in Wehlen, in the heart of the region.

The grapes for this wine are hand harvested and fermented in stainless steel tanks. The resulting wine has a kiss of sweetness to balance the tart lemon-lime and peachy fruit character. This beautiful package is wrapped up with a minerally ribbon of slate and acid. It’s simple, yet complex and as pristine as a summer morning at the break of dawn. If you like Riesling—and even if you’re not so sure—you should drink this wine.
 
Dusted Valley
Tall Tales Syrah
VINTAGE 2013

JUDGES’ PANEL

Oiled cured black olives, dark fruit, smoky, bacon, meat, round texture.
 

Specifications

Walla Walla Valley
0
$60.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Dusted Valley was established in 2003, when the Braunel and Johnson families moved to Walla Walla to start a venture devoted to a strong belief that great wines are made in the vineyard.  This is seen through their dedication to sustainable farming practices, extremely low yields, and minimalistic winemaking resulting in beautiful, concentrated, and layered wines that showcase their estate vineyards.

The Tall Tales Syrah is named after winemaker Chad Johnson’s grandpa Fred, who would regale his kin with tall tales from his youth.  Johnson believes that every bottle of wine has a new story to tell, and that some of these stories will truly become legendary.  The Tall Tales Syrah indulges anyone open-minded taster with a rich bouquet of ripe blackberry, blueberry, and boysenberry accentuated by notes of coffee, cigar box spices, and black pepper.  Opulent in texture, with ripe and savory tones leading to a lengthy finish, this is a Syrah that somehow manifests an Old World sensibility from its Washington origins.
 
Estate 1856
Petit Verdot
VINTAGE 2013

JUDGES’ PANEL

Blacckberyy cobbler, uptuous fuit, soft and round middle palate.
 

Specifications

Sonoma County
0
$36.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

At Estate 1856, Petit Verdot gets a starring role. Rarely seen as a single varietal wine, Petit Verdot is usually found in Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends. Bottled with 2% Malbec, this wine has big flavors of blackberry, cocoa, caramel, coffee, and black pepper with big structure to back it up.

The Tzabaco Rancho Vineyard in Sonoma County, where these grapes are grown, is sustainably farmed, which explains the pristine quality of this truly special wine. As only 125 cases of this wine were made, it would be worth tracking down before too long.
 
Rombauer Vineyards
Cabernet Sauvignon
VINTAGE 2013

JUDGES’ PANEL

Intense brambly fruit expression with youthful tanins, earthiness, beautifully integrated oak, great potential for aging, elegantly spiced oak integration.
 

Specifications

Napa Valley
0
$55.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Rombauer is a renowned California winery long known for their robust, powerful wines. This Cabernet is serious juice, and a great example of a Napa wine balancing fruit and structure. It has generous aromas of baked blueberry and eucalyptus, with lots of richness on the palate. Among sommeliers, Rombauer may not always be the most talked-about wine these days, but this Cabernet displays weight and firm tannin, and shows that the winery’s best days are certainly not all behind it. This would be perfect alongside a roast prime rib with a sweet balsamic vinegar reduction.
 
J. Bookwalter
Conflict
VINTAGE 2013

JUDGES’ PANEL

Rich, complex nose. Black cherries toffee, toast. Attractive sour fruit. Fine mid palate mouth feel.
 

Specifications

Columbia Valley AVA
0
$60.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

An early believer in the potential for Washington State, J. Bookwalter was founded in 1982. Before starting the eponymous winery, Jerry Bookwalter was vineyard manager of the Conner – Lee vineyard, which provides Bookwalter with half of the fruit from its 150 acres today. Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in Conner – Lee in the late 1980’s, while the Merlot and Cabernet Franc, which also go into this red blend date back to 1992. The 2013 season was unusually warm giving winemaker Caleb Foster considerable tannin and color for the Conflict bottling. Lush blackberry, black plum, blueberry, fern, espresso, and cocoa nib fill the glass and coat the palate. The blend is 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc with the dominant Merlot providing opulence. The wine is aged in new French puncheons and once-used barrels providing vanilla, nut, baking spices, and a rich, supple finish.
 
Balnaves
Cabernet Sauvignon
VINTAGE 2012

JUDGES’ PANEL

Classic Coonawarra Cabernet. Complex, minty, spicy and in your face.
 

Specifications

Coonawarra
0
$39.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

It is rare to feel refreshed and invigorated by a Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape that often produces weighty, full-bodied wines. But with this wine, expressive fresh mint and eucalyptus lead into layers of dark chocolate and boysenberry pie offering up the sensory impressions of a day at the spa.

Balnaves has taken advantage of the mild maritime climate of Coonawarra to achieve perfect balance. The well-drained terra rosa soils here are famously suited for growing Cabernet. The mouthfeel is rich and round without being over-the-top. Pair this with all things lamb whether burger, gyro, or rack with mint.
 
Brady Vineyard
Zinfandel
VINTAGE 2014

JUDGES’ PANEL

Opaque, rich chocolate, coco, jammy, ripe plum, blackberry, full bodied, very spicy, extremely long finish.
 

Specifications

Paso Robles
0
$25.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

It may seem like a foregone conclusion to many wine drinkers, but winemakers love making wine…so much so that they often have side projects under other labels distinct from their wines they make in their “day job.” Some even have side projects to their side projects. These other wines are usually produced in very small quantities, and this can enable the winemakers to do some of their very best work, as it is far easier to be adventurous with 100 cases of wine than with 50,000, 

Such is the case with Don Brady. His day job is leading the team at the award-winning Robert Hall Winery, a Paso Robles staple. Jobs on that level usually prevent being in vineyards as often as most winemakers would like, so he started Brady Vineyard to get back among the vines. He makes just three wines — Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel — from the 24 acre estate vineyard. His 2014 Zinfandel highlights why the division of Paso Robles into eleven sub-regions in 2014 was needed: instead of being a stereotypically jammy, overripe booze bomb once expected from the region, Brady’s wine has the fresh red fruit and brightness that can be possible when sourced from a carefully tended single vineyard in a cool portion of the broader area. The result in this case is a beautiful, world-class wine that lifts Zinfandel to the stature it deserves at its best.
 
La Pitchoune
Pinot Noir
VINTAGE 2013

JUDGES’ PANEL

Medium ruby garnet, good depth, floral, jasmine, black tea leaves, fresh elegant style, pretty red fruits.
 

Specifications

Sonoma Coast
0
$58.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Famous for it’s Gold Ridge soils and cooler climate, the Russian River Valley boasts some of the best Pinot Noir in the country.

Inspired by a small property in France, La Pitchoune means “the little one,” which best describes the 1.25-acre Holder Vineyard that only produces about 125 cases a year.

Aromas of wild strawberries and jammy raspberries are followed with flavors of tart summer plums and red currants. Delicately structured, this wine offers a fine balance of body and acidity with tertiary notes of green coffee, black tea, and pine nettles. The finish is smooth and velvety with a promise to evolve in the near future.
 
Marisco Vineyards
A Sticky End, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
VINTAGE 2015

JUDGES’ PANEL

Golden color, fat juicy fruit, precise creamy palate.
 

Specifications

New Zealand, Marlborough, Waihopai
0
$25.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

At first glance, a late harvest-style Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough might seem like an oddity. But let’s not forget the grape has widely thrived for centuries with this style of wine in Sauternes and the Libourne. The main difference with this New Zealand selection is the lack of botrytis and Semillon, which is often blended to add weight and ageability to Sauternes.

But in the glass, this wine shines in its own way. Green notes of sweet jalapeño and Serrano pepper are perfectly fused with sweet honey and nectarine juice. The finish is light, enjoyable, and a great complement to a dinner of spicy food.
 
Schug
Chardonnay
VINTAGE 2014

JUDGES’ PANEL

Pronounced ripe orchard fruits, good length, minerally, well integrated oak.
 

Specifications

Carneros
0
$30.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Walter Schug, a California wine icon, left a deep mark on the wine industry that will be felt long into to the next generations of California winemakers. A German immigrant who grew up in the wine business, Schug, and his wife, Gertrud were some of the first to plant roots deep in the Carneros soil beginning in the 1960s. Walter since developed a name for himself as a premium winemaker particularly with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Carneros AVA.

The wines under the Schug family label reflect a lifelong dedication to quality with consistently polished and beautiful wines, and this 2014 Schug Chardonnay is no exception. Notes of creamy apple and pear belie an alluring palate with seamless texture and a long, memorable finish.
 
Gallo Signature Series
Chardonnay
VINTAGE 2013

JUDGES’ PANEL

Rich and elegant apples and pears creamy and butter aromas, refreshing.
 

Specifications

Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
0
$33.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Gina Gallo presents an exceptional and direct California Chardonnay with her 2013 Gallo Signature Series Russian River Valley offering. Initial aromatics of warm crème brûlée and golden apple tart rise from the glass. Malolactic fermentation, barrel fermentation, and extended oak aging provide rich butter and vanilla tones. The cooling winds of the valley allow for brightness to remain as the grapes ripen. Gallo's deft hand in the winery takes her Signature Series to the next level. This wine shows great versatility in its pairing potential. Whether O-toro nigiri, butter-poached lobster, or salted caramel corn and a movie, it's a knockout.
 
Joto
Junmai Ginjo
VINTAGE

JUDGES’ PANEL

Exceptionally refined, fennel and floral, alot of apple, incredibly clean finish.
 

Specifications

Ibaraki Prefecture
0
$30.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Although Sake is similar to beer and wine, it remains uniquely alluring. Where as beer uses fermentable sugars from grain, sake must rely on a combination of yeast and mold to undergo a special fermentation. Depending on the percent to which the rice has been polished, many believe that the quality of sake lies in the pure starchy heart of the rice.

Joto’s bright and eye catching polka-dot label signifies the two different types of yeast used in producing this sake. Located in the town of Ishioka, the Huchu Homare Brewery is full of history and tradition. This dynamic Junmai Gingo is loaded with lush and juicy stone fruit, ripe bananas and hints of ripe melon.
 
Rodney Strong
Cabernet Sauvignon
VINTAGE 2012

JUDGES’ PANEL

Polished on the nose, ripe, plum currant fruit.
 

Specifications

Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
0
$40.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

The name Rodney Strong has become synonymous with quality California wines since its inception in the early days of Sonoma winemaking more than 55 years ago.  This lush, velvety modern-style Cabernet from the Alexander Valley doesn’t disappoint, and is a gorgeous expression of this grape. 

The rather high 15 percent alcohol doesn’t overwhelm, but rather adds to the richness of the dark berry and chocolate notes. Twenty-two months in French Oak, 39 percent new, give a welcome vanilla-bean note and warm cinnamon depth and there’s just enough acid on the finish to keep this plush Cabernet fresh and bright.  Enjoy with a top-grade ribeye grilled simply with salt and pepper. 
 
Trione Vineyards & Winery
Sauvignon Blanc
VINTAGE 2014

JUDGES’ PANEL

Bright pear, lemon lime, honeydo melon, citrus, grapefruit, good acid balance.
 

Specifications

California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
0
$23.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

The Trione family has farmed in Sonoma County for three generations establishing a well-regarded reputation for viticulture. In 2005, they opened Trione Winery revealing a passion for winemaking that shines through in this lovely example of a classic white grape.

This Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc looks like sunshine in a glass. The golden yellow is translucent with a shine that lights up the room. Aromas of zesty Meyer lemon and green papaya infuse with this grape’s signature pyrazine quality. On the palate, the flavors mirror the aromas found on the nose, only amplified. The finish lingers with mouthwatering acidity and wonderful roundness.
 
Moët & Chandon
Grand Vintage Rose, Brut
VINTAGE 2006

JUDGES’ PANEL

Apple and plum skins. Hints of bread dough, lively acidity, well structured. Compact. Great to drink now.
 

Specifications

Champagne AOC
0
$89.99
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Perhaps one of the best food pairing wines, rosé Champagne stands out for its vibrant acidity as well as its weightier texture. And of course, bubbles are always perfect for cleansing the palate. Rosé can be paired with meat dishes that regular Champagnes often cannot in part due to their lack of richer fruit structure.

This 2006 Moët & Chandon Brut Rosé is a textbook great with all the muscle you’d expect from this style of wine. A perfect reflection of the skill Moët’s cellar master Benoît Gouez employs to yield a wine as textured as it is delicious.

Like crushed velvet on the palate, there’s ample texture framed by soft, piquant bubbles. Aromas of vine-fresh red raspberry are profound, with a hint of mint-leaf and chalk on the palate as well. This would work well with anything from dry-aged duck with huckleberries to grilled salmon with juniper and Camembert cheese.
 
Ktima Moraitis
Dry White
VINTAGE 2013

JUDGES’ PANEL

White rhone ranger style. developed with honey apricot, nuts and spicy oak. palate is substantial-textured weight. showing some aged complexity.drink within 2 years.
 

Specifications

PDO Paros
0
$17.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Located off the eastern coast of Greece is the island of Paros. Here, most of the vineyards are old and self-rooted since the pest of phylloxera never spread despite its appearance. The entire island belongs to the PDO, “Paros Zone” (established in1981), which produces both white and red wines. Monemvassia is Paros’s white grape variety while Mandilaria makes up for most of the red wines. The Moraitis Family manages 15 hectares of vineyard with particular care and according to the regulations governing Biological Agriculture in the vine area.

The Moraitis Paros white is pale yellow with secondary green reflections at the rim of the glass. On the palate, flavors of green apples, ripe tropical fruit intermingle with vibrant acidity and mineral tones on the palate. A delicious summer wine.
 
Vinum Cellars
V, Petite Sirah
VINTAGE 2014

JUDGES’ PANEL

Silken, balanced, accessible, drinkable now, well mannered, subtle smoke tones.
 

Specifications

Clarksburg
0
$14.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

The Vinum Cellars 2014 Petite Sirah punches hard right from the bell. This dense, opaque wine is the product of a warm climate, a powerful grape, and knowledgeable winemaking. Fruit forward from the nose to the finish, this dense wine overflows with stewed black plums, aromatic violets and roses with a healthy addition of oak. This is a palate-saturating, teeth-staining wine. Not for the faint of heart the Vinum Cellars Petite Sirah is a wine to break out of the routine of California Cabernet and Zinfandel. If you feel like trying something different on the journey to find a new favorite wine this is an excellent selection to do so.
 
Amisfield
Pinot Noir
VINTAGE 2013

JUDGES’ PANEL

Juicy fresh vibrant, flavorful, looooong. Touch of mint.
 

Specifications

Central Otago
0
$40.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Central Otago, on the South Island of New Zealand, is a region of extremes: it is the southernmost wine region in the world; it is the highest altitude region in New Zealand; and it is the only region in the country to experience a truly Continental climate. As such, it makes sense that a difficult grape, one that only achieves true excellence in fringe climates, would succeed here.

I'm talking about Pinot Noir, and it is the most important grape of the region. Central Otago, in turn, boasts the country's best Pinot Noir. Established in 1988, Amisfield specializes in the grape, with vineyards located just below the Pisa Mountain Range in the Cromwell Basin sub zone of Central Otago, on the 45th parallel. Amisfield's premises are impressive, with a dedication to cuisine, architecture, and sustainability. The same care is applied to their winemaking, with little intervention in the vineyards.

Grapes are harvested late and healthy, leaving the finished wine with ample fruit of ripe red cherry, fresh raspberry, and black cherry jam. Aging in French barrique softens and sweetens the fruits, with notes of vanilla bean, milk chocolate, and cinnamon stick. Herbal notes of dried rosemary, anise, and sweet mint add complexity, with a warmth in the finish suggestive of its sunny climate.
 
Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Rosso & Bianco, Rosso
VINTAGE 2014

JUDGES’ PANEL

Rich berry fruits, strawberry, blackbery, raspberry, hint of chocolate, mocha, earthy.
 

Specifications

California
0
$11.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

It is rare to feel refreshed and invigorated by a Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape that often produces weighty, full-bodied wines. But with this wine, expressive fresh mint and eucalyptus lead into layers of dark chocolate and boysenberry pie offering up the sensory impressions of a day at the spa.

Balnaves has taken advantage of the mild maritime climate of Coonawarra to achieve perfect balance. The well-drained terra rosa soils here are famously suited for growing Cabernet. The mouthfeel is rich and round without being over-the-top. Pair this with all things lamb whether burger, gyro, or rack with mint.
 
Spy Valley
Riesling
VINTAGE 2014

JUDGES’ PANEL

Kaffir lime leaf, restrained mineral, crisp acidity. Green apple.
 

Specifications

Marlborough
0
$19.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

A bit of a maverick in the early 1990s, Spy Valley bucked the common wisdom of the Marlborough region as an area unsuitable for vineyards for its hard, dry, and once-considered “unfertile” soil. But in 1993, they planted anyway. Since then, Marlborough has been deemed one of the top areas in the world to plant cold climate varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

This particular Riesling selection is a prime example of their prowess. Bone dry with notes of sour lemon, honeysuckle, Asian pear, nectarines and bitter herbs. This wine is racy and succulent all together. And while it may be perfectly crisp and refreshing, it’s also a serious wine for a great value!
 
Napa Cellars
Zinfandel
VINTAGE 2013

JUDGES’ PANEL

Restrained nose, bramble, violet, pepper, jammy juicy rich expression on the palate, makes me want to ribs, very drinkable
 

Specifications

Napa Valley
0
$22.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Packed with the rich, juicy ripeness for which Napa Valley is known, this wine is the versatile, easy-drinking red that you've been looking for. Full-bodied and velvety, this Zinfandel offers aromas of cinnamon coffee cake, blackberry jam, and toffee. Black cherry comes through on the palate, gently edged by hints of black tea and the softest of tannins. 

Family owned for 20 years, the Napa Cellars aims to let the grapes speak for themselves, providing accessible, quintessential wines to enjoy with family and friends. Whether you're looking for an introduction to classic Napa style, choosing a pairing your upcoming barbecue, or searching for a wine that bridges the gap between spicy Zinfandel and rich, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine will deliver. 
 
Alexander Valley Vineyards
Merlot
VINTAGE 2013

JUDGES’ PANEL

Deep concentration, lush richness, classy, old world style, right bank, Saint Emilion, fresh elegance, earthy.
 

Specifications

Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
0
$20.00
WHERE TO BUY

SOMMELIERS’ PANEL

Alexander Valley Vineyards, taking the name of its home AVA, is effectively the patriarch of the region. In 1962, Maggie and Harry Wetzel purchased a large homestead belonging to Cyrus Alexander, the namesake of Alexander Valley, and built their home there. Today, the third generation of Wetzels are in the cellar, maintaining the quality of wines that their fathers have built producing age-worthy and complex wines that represent the unique terroir of the Alexander Valley.

Though the AVA is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon in higher elevation sites, Merlot grows beautifully in the gravel and loam soils that hug the Russian River as it flows south towards its eponymous AVA. Harry Wetzel planted Merlot in his estate vineyards in the 1960s, and has been cultivating its style ever since. Plum jam, dark chocolate, and cinnamon gently warm the mouth, but this wine presents unexpected firmness in its finish. Velvety tannins and brightness of fruit emerge at the end, leaving the impression of a complex, serious, and age-worthy wine. Winemaker Kevin Hall uses Hungarian, American, and French oak—slightly obscuring any specific oak character, and instead enveloping the wine is a soft haze of sweet spice and cedar. This wine is about pleasure, but does not sacrifice any integrity to offer it.