Santa's Got A Brand New Bag
We’re late enough into the season that I can spoil the ending of the Christmas movie: Santa’s spirit was inside of us the whole time. That means buying wine for yourself is totally cool. I have some ideas:
John Duval Eligo Shiraz 2013 Barossa Valley
A stellar Shiraz from the man who made 16 vintages of Grange. The semi-retired former Penfolds head winemaker (he won World Winemaker of the Year twice) returned to his family’s vineyards in 2003, producing small batches of gorgeous Shiraz like this 2013 Eligo, showing violets, licorice and dark chocolate over a molten core of blueberry and eucalyptus. Perfect purity of fruit and purpose. 98 points Robert Parker, 3 6-packs available, $84.98 +tax
De Martino Vigno 2016 Maule Valley
Now this is something new, why wasn’t it on my radar before? A Carignan-based field blend (Malbec fills the holes) from Aguada, a 60-year-old dry farmed vineyard in the Maule. A fascinating nose – if you could see aromas this would be Technicolor, with flowers, earth, game and red berries, a balance of sweet and savoury scents – but the big body and finish are classically elegant, not unlike a Hermitage. Wow. 97 points Robert Parker, 3 6-packs available, $61.98
Louis Roederer Cristal 2008 Champagne
I’ve already seen a dozen cases of this instant classic bounce off this store, but I did manage to snag a tad more for the Holidays. Boasting some of the best scores in decades, the 2008 Cristal (held back and released after the yummy 2009) has been called a “perfect wine” by Jeb Dunnuck – the nose of apple, cream and toasted spices runs seamlessly into a honeyed body of ginger, orange peel and chalk. There’s so much going on, here. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 100% not gonna be here by 2020. 100 points James Suckling, 100 points Jeb Dunnuck, 98 points Decanter, 98 points Wine Enthusiast, 97 points Wine Spectator, 3 3-packs available, $295.99
Chateau Suduiraut 1982 Sauternes (375ml)
What does Forever taste like? Honey, walnuts and beeswax, evidently. This low-key estate (close to Yquem) dates back to the 1500s, and the only reason it’s not charging an arm and a leg is because of the meh quality of its mid-20th century output, a problem that was more than remedied by 1982, when new owners started to make classic Sauternes again. 90% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc, browning a tad, with waxy, nutty notes sand a layered, medium-sweet deployment. Pairs with Netflix. 1 wooden 12 pack (and some wee loose bottles too), $65.98 /375ml
Felsina Fontalloro 2016 Toscana I.G.T.
The Tuscan 2016 vintage is like a baseball player who’s already scored a home run but keeps running around the bases over and over. We get it, dude, you’re awesome. Accordingly, this 100% Sangiovese from high-altitude vineyards in Chianti Classico and Chianti Colli Senesi is an instant legend, a cellar-ready beast that exudes cassis and licorice over earthy minerality – think Flaccianello crossed with a Barolo. Probably best past 2022, but I have noticed that many Tuscan 2016s stop biting after 5+ hours in a decanter, so… game on? 98+ points Robert Parker, 98 points James Suckling, 3 6-packs available, $109.98
Guidalberto 2017 Toscana I.G.T.
The famous younger brother to Sassicaia has developed its own following independent of that house’s Grand Vin, the value is fantastic and the doors open for business far earlier. The 2017 is still pretty youthful but the dark red fruits are singing over a firm, Saint-Estephe-ish frame with blood orange and coffee sealing the finish. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. 94 points James Suckling, 4 6-packs available, $59.99 +tax
Paolo Scavino Barolo Bricco Ambrogio 2015 Piedmont
A rather thick and robust offering (from the record-breaking hot 2015 July, no doubt) from a family winery who’ll be celebrating their centennial in a little over a year. The Ambrogio vineyard is found in the lesser-known Barolo commune of Roddi in the north, and its wines are a balance of masculine and feminine, it’s a beast on the palate, for sure, but it smells so pretty. Citrus, orange peel and mint infiltrate the bright red fruits on the nose, there are pronounced, fine tannins but 1) that’s kind of baked into the Nebbiolo cake and 2) there’s almost enough generous body to balance it. 97 points James Suckling, 2 wooden 6-packs available, $104.98 +tax
Elio Sandri Barolo Perno Riserva 2012 Piedmont
I know there’s a whole lot of folks waiting for this one. Curmudgeonly traditionalist extraordinaire, Mr. Sandri returns to us with elegant tobacco, mint and cedar notes, and a Bruce Banner-ish hidden power that is only brought to the fore with a good long decant. I missed this guy. 94 points Vinous, 3 6-packs available, $94.98 +tax
CVNE Monopole Bianco Clasico 2015, Rioja
This wine never gets the points it deserves (although it’s #17 on Vine-Pair’s top 50! Huzzah!) but that kind of only makes me love it more. You aren’t actually allowed to make white Rioja this way, but since CVNE has been doing it since before cars, it got grandfathered in. Monopole Classico is neutral-barrel-aged Viura (with Malvasia) with 5% dry Manzanilla Sherry added in. That little move completely upends the texture and feel of the wine, transforming the aromatics (yeast, nuts, spice on top of citrus cream) and the viscosity (creamy, dry and lingering). If you’re curious we’ll be pouring this in the River District Vintage Room tomorrow (Saturday) at 3pm. A steal at this price. 92 points Robert Parker, 2 cases available, $39.98 +tax
Until next time, Happy Drinking!!