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Critics' Picks 11-30

Grape Collective takes a look at this week’s wine selections from the top US critics.

Wall Street Journal, Will Lyons

Wall Street Journal wine columnist Will Lyons puts together his list of the best holiday wines.

Hunter’s Miru Miru

Marlborough, New Zealand

“Lovely and perfumed on the nose, this is a nice sparkling wine to have in the house for general entertaining. It has a distinct apple and white fruit character, with notes of pears and citrus, finishing with a zippy kick. “

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

Roederer Quartet Brut

Anderson Valley, USA

“For those not wishing to pay the price of a grande marque Champagne, this is a serious alternative. A golden blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it has a fresh, ripe, rich flavor that makes it ideal for drinks parties.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

2004 Pol Roger

Champagne, France

“Pol Roger’s Champagne has been described as “white Burgundy with bubbles.” The 2004 is no exception. Intense, with notes of white flowers and crisp white fruit, it’s a perfect aperitif to impress on the special day.”

$91.94 Available at Saratoga Wine Exchange or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Riesling Kabinett

Mosel, Germany

“A fantastic introduction to Riesling, this has it all: the ability to age; fresh, floral and lime notes; a silky texture, balanced long finish and an alcohol level that won’t go to your head.”

$20.39 Available at We Speak Wine or elsewhere though Wine-Searcher.

2014 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough, New Zealand

“Winemaker Tim Heath has reined in the more expressive elements of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to produce a delicate, refined crowd-pleaser you can serve any time.”

$22.90 Available at Best Wine In NY or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

2012 Marimar Estate Chardonnay

Russian River Valley, USA

“This is a bright, crisp and lively wine with lemony citrus notes and a zippy, steely acidity. There’s no oak used here, which gives it a cleaner character and a welcome spring.”

$27 Available at Wine Watch or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

2010 Bodegas Navajas Crianza

Rioja, Spain

“Spain is the place to look for bargains this year and this soft, round, oaky Rioja doesn’t disappoint. An accessible wine, it makes for good everyday drinking.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

2012 Domaine Brusset Les Hauts de Montmirail

Rhone, France

“This blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah is supple and soft, with alluring black fruits on the nose and a mouth-filling richness.”

$36.99 Available at MacArthur Beverages.

2005 Château Pichon Lalande Réserve de la Comtesse

Pauillac, France

“Possessing an attractive restraint with polished fruit and a pleasing graphite dryness, this wonderful wine will drink beautifully over many hours.”

$64.99 Available at 67 Wine & Spirits or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

Bodegas Hidalgo Pasada Pastrana

Andalucia, Spain

“This bone-dry sherry is seriously gorgeous. Slightly yeasty on the nose, it is a complex wine with good concentration and power. Chill down and serve as an aperitif.”

$24.97 Available at PJ Wine or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

1985 Fonseca Vintage Port

Portugal

“The fruit on the 1985 vintage has emerged from hibernation and is attractive and seductive, with real power and spice on the palate and a gentle finish.”

$89.95 Available at Sokolin & Co or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

2012 Andrew Quady Essensia Orange Muscat

Madera, USA

“Bright and fresh, with a scintillating acidity. There’s an attractive intensity about this wine. With an inviting nose of apricots and oranges, it’s magic with Christmas pudding.”

$13.94 Available at Saratoga Wine Exchange or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

Seattle Times, Andy Perdue

In preparation for the holiday season, The Seattle Times reader wine-tasting panel gathered to taste six sparkling wines made primarily in the dry “brut” style.

Argyle Winery 2010 Knudsen Vineyard blanc de blancs

Dundee Hills, USA

“This vineyard-designated sparkler from Oregon shows off notes of mint, fresh bread and ripe pear.”

$39.99 Available at Total Wine & More or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

Michelle NV brut rosé

Columbia Valley, USA

“Using pinot noir primarily from the Yakima Valley, this pink sparkler provides aromas and flavors of huckleberry, cherry, strawberry and raspberry.”

$11.09 Available at Stirling Fine Wines or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

Treveri Cellars NV brut

Yakima Valley, USA

“Made from 100 percent chardonnay, this affordable bubbly shows off aromas and flavors of crisp apple, fresh-from-the-oven bread and a frothy palate.”

$13.99 Available at France 44.

Karma Vineyards 2010 Pink Bubbly

Lake Chelan, USA

“This pretty sparkler from Lake Chelan is made from syrah. It unveils notes of plum and blackberry amid rich bubbles.”

$39.99 Available at Amazon or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

Nicolas Feuillatte NV brut reserve

Champagne, France

“A classic Champagne with notes of yeasty bread and bright, tart fruit.”

$21.99 Available at Mister Wright Fine Wines & Spirits or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

Montenisa NV brut Franciacorta

Lombardy, Italy

“Using chardonnay, pinot blanc and pinot noir, this Italian bubbly is made in a Champagne style. Aromas of rose water and minerality lead to flavors of ripe, creamy orchard fruit.”

$33.89 Available at Get Wine Online or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné

Jon Bonné discusses Pinot Noir from his favorite California wine region, Anderson Valley.

2012 Waits-Mast Deer Meadows Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot

Anderson Valley, USA

Deep and rich with black cherry and boysenberry, accented both by opulent allspice and damp bark, and a profound mineral signature.”

$55 Available at Waits-Mast.

2012 Drew Morning Dew Ranch Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Anderson Valley, USA

“Quintessential Anderson Valley — packed with complex flavors, not showing an ounce of fat. Coppery mineral, orange, cucumber, thyme and conifer, damson plum and savory spice.”

$54.99 Available at Sunfish Cellars Wine & Spirits or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

2012 Knez Anderson Valley Pinot

Anderson Valley, USA

Subtle, shaded in its flavors, with bright raspberry, mandarin peel, toasted cardamom and mineral intensity from the ripe vintage, a signature of the best hillside plantings.”

$25.49 Available at Tribeca Wine Merchants or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

2012 Copain Wendling Anderson Valley Pinot

Anderson Valley, USA

“Stunning — brooding with damp earth and warm forest, and a mix of intense dark fruit and brilliant pomegranate highlights on the palate. It’s taut, almost raw in its flavors, begging for some time to show its depth.”

$64.99 Available at K&L Wine Merchants.

2012 Baxter Valenti Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

Anderson Valley, USA

“An innate tension, with the coppery iodine bite that seems to mark Valenti, plus chewy cherry skin, black currant and an herbal thyme-like side.”

$48 Available at Baxter Winery.

2012 Balo Vineyard Suitcase 828 Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Anderson Valley, USA

“It’s an unusual creature, with stiff tannins and a pronounced sanguine quality that ties together bright pomegranate, watermelon skin, bass tones of toasted clove and dark fruit.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

2013 Folk Machine Vecino Vineyard Potter Valley Pinot Noir

Anderson Valley, USA

“Soft-edged, juicy, with Douglas fir aromas, Santa Rosa plum, pomegranate and a dusty edge. Enjoy it in the moment.”

$17.99 Available at Beltramo’s Wine & Spirits or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

2013 Donkey & Goat Broken Leg Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Anderson Valley, USA

“Notably citrus-edged: kumquat and citron, with distinct spice from the use of whole clusters that bolsters its tart fruit. “

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

2012 Comptche Ridge Vineyards Mendocino County Pinot Noir

Anderson Valley, USA

“Profound bayberry, verbena and mint flavors, and an intense mineral core. Subtle, with a silken quality to the fruit.”

$44.95 Available at San Francisco Wine Trading Company or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

2012 Skewis Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Anderson Valley, USA

“A bigger footprint for Anderson Valley, happily balanced with brightness: candied plum, fenugreek, roasted thyme, deep cherry compote, and terrifically juicy all through.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

Los Angeles Times, S. Irene Virbila

S. Irene Virbila reviews the 2013 Alheit Vineyards Bush Vines “Cartology.”

2013 Alheit Vineyards Bush Vines “Cartology”

South Africa

“The 2013 Alheit Vineyards "Cartology" is elegant and refined, with an opulent scent of apricot, lemon and flowers. The taste is ripe and lush, but there's a tautness and minerality to the Chenin Blanc/Sémillon that brings it all into balance. This is a real stunner that just keeps getting better and better in the glass.”

$41 Available at Vintry Fine Wines or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

Financial Times, Jancis Robinson

Jancis Robinson features 20 red wines perfect for the holiday season.

Petit Manou 2009

Médoc, France

“Such a good value. A ridiculous price considering the combination of pleasure and integrity. Ripe, very lightly gamey and then graphite.”

$19.49 Available at Get Wine Online or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

Domaine La Tour Vieille, La Pinède 2012 Collioure

Languedoc-Roussillon, France

“This rich, ripe wine from the coast just north of the Spanish border is black! It smells just like a tarmac road in high summer but has good freshness on the finish.”

$20.98 Available at Best Wines Online.

Château Sénéjac 2006

Haut Médoc, France

“Tastes like stereotypical Margaux, in fact! It’s already very enjoyable but has the potential to develop for at least another 10 years, so it would

make a good present for a collector. Excellent value.”

$19.99 Available at K & L Wine Merchants.

Teusner, The Riebke Shiraz 2012

Barossa, Australia

“Sweet and refined – a bit like fermented blackcurrant gums with a mineral undertow. Very Barossa but not too hot or exaggerated. Grainy, with warm tar flavours.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

Rigoria, Terra delle Sirene, Nero d’Avola 2007

Sicily, Italy

“Autumn leaves and lots of fresh fruit on what is mature proof of Sicily’s Nero d’Avola grape’s ability to age. Unusually complex, this has a dry, minerally appetising finish.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

Peter Sisseck, Psi 2010

Ribera del Duero, Spain

“Lovely sweet palate entry and no excess of anything. This is already accessible but with the promise of more complexity to come. Really fresh and persistent.”

$37.95 Available at Sokolin & Co or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

La Rioja Alta, Viña Ardanza Reserva 2005

Rioja, Spain

“A delightfully fruity, refined wine. Lovely purity. Excellent value.”

$23.95 Available at Empire Wine or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

Crystallum, Paradisum 2011

Swartland, South Africa

“Lovely texture and frankness in this very expressive wine from South African winemaking’s centre of creativity. Great expression and relaxed fruit to the fore. No obvious oak. Wonderfully neat, it spreads so elegantly over the palate.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

Ochota Barrels, Fugazi Grenache 2013

McLaren Vale, Australia

“There’s real vibrancy to this. Pure fruit and so unlike the headbutting Aussies of old. Well done. Dry finish. Real structure.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

Domaine Brusset, Les Hauts de Montmirail 2012 Gigondas

Rhone, France

“Very thick, sweet and opulent with flavours of black and purple fruits. Well managed and friendly already.”

$36.99 Available at MacArthur Beverages.

Fuligni 2008 Brunello di Montalcino

Tuscany, Italy

“This reduced price represents quite a bargain for such an authentic Tuscan classic. Tangy, delicate, farmyard flavours. Excellent freshness. Real energy.”

$45.99 Available at Wines 4 Today or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

Sean Thackrey, Pleiades XXIII

California, USA

“Really luscious blend of chocolatey sweetness and dried herbs. So much more interesting than yet another international varietal. Lovely.”

$21.99 Available at McKinley Wine & Spirits or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

Rocche dei Manzoni, Bricco Manzoni 2004 Langhe

Piedmont, Italy

“Ripe and fully evolved. Plump. Dry, appetising finish.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

Bargylus, Deir Touma Lattaquié 2008

Syria

“Very full and luscious, with the oak just slightly poking through, but admirable and really interesting even without knowing its quite extraordinary geographical provenance.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

William Downie Pinot Noir 2013

Gippsland, Australia

“A stunning riposte to red burgundy from Australia’s Victoria coast, and extraordinarily expressive even at this early stage.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

Emilie Geantet, Les Evocelles 2011

Gevrey-Chambertin, France

“Spicy, racy, confident expression of this vineyard, with real zip and massively beguiling fruit. Wonderful juicy, persistent finish. Very promising.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

Jasper Hill, Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz 2012

Heathcote, Australia

“Admirably artisanal and terroir-driven.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

Luigi Baudana, Baudana 2006 Barolo

Barolo, Italy

Lovely, pungent, classic mature Barolo nose with great lift and development. Such a charmer! Dry finish but stunningly appealing. Long and multi-layered.”

$65.99 Available at MacArthur Beverages or elsewhere through Wine-Searcher.

Château La Conseillante 1998 Pomerol

Pomerol, France

“Velvety, rich and floral, from a great vintage for top Right Bank red bordeaux. A beautiful drink.”

Unavailable through search on Wine-Searcher.

Case Basse 2008 IGT Toscana

Tuscany, Italy

“Breathtakingly beautiful, refreshing and complex.”

$525 Available at New York Wine Warehouse.



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