94 Lancaster Estate 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley ($70)
Surely the best Lancaster so far: luscious and rich with beautiful plum and berry fruit; a stunning expression of the greatness that exists in the Alexander Valley.
91 Summerland Winery 2007 Orange Muscat, Santa Barbara ($17)
Pillow soft with lovely tension and silky mouthfeel; an uninhibited expression of sensuality and opulence with the perfect balance of juicy fruit and ripe honey sweetness.
90 Ponzi Vineyards 2007 Pinot Blanc, Willamette Valley ($17)
Fragrant and spicy with vibrant citrus and brisk acidity; fresh and delightful. [TWISTY]
90 Kenneth Volk 2007 Viognier, Live Oak Vineyard, Paso Robles ($20)
Aromatic with lovely tangy citrus fruit and racy acidity; silky and fresh, balanced and charming. [TWISTY]
92 Pelerin 2006 Les Tournesols, Paraiso Vineyard, Monterey ($27)
Smooth, creamy and mellow with lively acidity and finely honed flavors of mineral and spice. 63% Roussanne, 27% Chardonnay, 10% Viognier.
MILLENNIUM WINE GROUP/WEST COAST WINES
91 Spottswoode 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, California ($32)
Includes 41% Sauvignon Musqué; lovely ripe peach fruit; lively, rich and very nicely balanced.
90 Obsidian Ridge 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Obsidian Ridge Vineyard, Red Hills, Lake ($27)
Smooth, lush and nicely structured with black plum, spice and subtle oak; lovely flavors and fine balance.
PACIFIC VINE INTL
91 CORE Wine Company 2005 Ground Around, Santa Barbara ($48)
Fresh and juicy with ripe blackberry and racy acidity; smooth, long and bursting with fruit and good acid structure; 40% Grenache, 30% Tempranillo, 30% Syrah.
92 Testarossa Vineyards 2006 Pinot Noir, Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills ($56)
Artistically captures the character of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA; juicy black cherry fruit with bright flavors.
91 Brancott 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, B., Marlborough, New Zealand ($24)
Smooth with bright acidity and citrus notes; lush oak structure with complexity and grace; deep, layered and delicious.
PERNOD RICARD USA
90 Fantinel 2007 Sauvignon Vigneti Sant'Helena, Collio, Italy ($25)
Spicy and bright with tangy citrus and lovely herbal notes; elegant and delicious.
DOMAINE SELECT WINE ESTATES
89 Domaine Henri Gouges 2006 Pinot Blanc, Bourgogne, France ($30)
Dark, silky and smooth with juicy pear and apple fruit and elegant acidity; fresh and charming.
91 Joseph Drouhin 2006 Chablis Premier Cru Montmains, France ($33)
Juicy and pure with fresh and lively fruit; long, and balanced.
90 Morey-Blanc 2006 Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Les Pucelles, France ($48)
Lush and racy; fresh and intense; juicy and long.
91 Dog Ridge 2005 Grenache, Cadenzia, McLaren Vale, Australia ($30)
Nervy with lively flavors; exuberant and juicy with ripe raspberry and nice acidity. [TWISTY]
TURNER WINE IMPORTS
92 Amisfield Winery 2006 Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand ($35)
Racy and lush with racy acidity and generous cherry and excellent structure; elegant and fresh; spicy, sensual and long; lively and balanced with Burgundian charm; long and superb.
PASTERNAK WINE IMPORTS
89 Graham's 10 Year Old Tawny, Oporto, Portugal ($35)
Smooth, toasted, rancio and ripe fruit with some nice acidity and good length.
PREMIUM PORT WINES
92 Asenjo & Manso 2004 Silvanus, Ribera del Duero, Spain ($50)
From an 80-year-old vineyard; concentrated flavors; powerful and massive with great depth and style.
BON VIVANT IMPORTS
94 Tenuta Caparzo 2001 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Italy ($89)
Velvety and showing luscious plum and red berry fruit with deep, complex flavors of oak and maturity; supple texture and lovely finish.
95 Castello di Fonterutoli 2004 Siepi Toscana IGT, Italy ($107)
Luscious and silky with rich plum and blackberry fruit, a lovely smoky component and an excellent acid structure; a remarkable wine. 50% Sangiovese, 50% Merlot.
PALM BAY IMPORTS
VALUE AND BY-THE-GLASS RECOMMENDATIONS
90 Kenwood Vineyards 2007 Gewürztraminer, Sonoma ($11)
Lovely rose petal nose gives way to fresh, juicy lime and citrus; nervy and fresh with delightful flavors.
88 Clif Bar Family 2007 The Climber, California ($13)
Fresh and clean with fragrant citrus and lime; green and nicely made. 81% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Pinot Blanc, 4% Chenin Blanc, 3% Muscat. [TWISTY]
88 Domaine Patient Cotat 2006 VDP du Jardin de la France ($13)
A smooth and softly juicy Sauvignon Blanc with lovely lime fruit and clean spicy flavors; bright and totally charming.
89 Château Lamothe de Haux 2007 Bordeaux, France ($14)
Lively acidity; zesty with lively citrus fruit and a long, balanced finish. Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon LANGDON-SHIVERICK
89 Valentin Bianchi 2007 Elsa Bianchi Malbec, San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina ($9)
Clean and racy with bright acidity and lovely plum fruit; pure and nicely balanced. [TWISTY]
88 Bodega El Portillo 2006 Pinot Noir, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina ($11)
Pinot Noir from Argentina! Fresh with good grip and balanced fruit; edgy, meat and complex. [TWISTY]
PALM BAY INTERNATIONAL
88 Oops 2006 Cabernet Franc–Carmenère, Valle Central,Chile ($12)
Dark and rich with notes of that typical Chilean vegetation and smooth texture; sweet oak and balanced.
SCHWARTZ OLCOTT IMPORTS
88 Mandolin Vintners 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast ($12)
Dark and concentrated with black plum and racy acidity; clean and fresh with balance and style.
89 Evans Wine Co. 2006 Nine Stones Shiraz, Barossa, Australia ($14)
Fragrant, black raspberry fruit, edgy acidity and rich texture; smooth and balanced. [TWISTY]
88 Two Sons Winery 2006 Juniper Lane Chardonnay, Central Coast ($14)
Smooth and creamy with good acidity and bright, fresh fruit; balanced, long and attractive.
88 Boomerang Vodka ($20)
Silky and light weight with some heat and nice clean simple flavors; dry, estery and smooth; a bit flat and quite restrained.
90 Orange V Vodka ($30)
Clean and smooth vodka with true, pure orange flavor; mellow, silky and lush with balance and style.
90 Mazama Infused Pepper Flavored Vodka ($25)
Light gold color; smooth with hot and spicy green pepper; intense, fiery and mouth numbing; powerful.
91 Rhum Agricole Batiste ($40)
Smooth and rich rum from St. Barths with clean, lush notes of cane sugar; silky, dry and peppery with elegance and style.
ST. BARTS SPIRIT CO.
93 Rochinha Cachaça Reserva Especial Aged 5 Yrs. ($37)
Smoky, spicy and elegant with complex flavors of herbs, earth and exotic woods; smooth, creamy and long with lovely sandalwood and vanilla.
90 Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey ($100)
Pale amber color; mellow and toasted with smooth grain flavor and notes of dried fruits, wood and mild spice.
93 Aberfeldy Single Highland Malt ($125)
Amazing honey and heather nose; creamy and showing orange zest, and toasted barley; crisp, clean and harmonious with long, lush, mellow flavors of sweet oak and shortbread.
92 Grande Absente Absinthe Originale ($70)
Gorgeous pale green color; lovely licorice nose; silky smooth and spicy with pure essence of anise; hot, powerful and unforgiving, even when cut with water.
91 MuchoTe Tequila Reposado ($30)
Pale amber color; rich, peppery agave nose; silky, mellow and ripe with smooth texture and lovely aromatics.
Cognac for Summer
C’mon, you can’t spend the whole summer just drinking Riesling and rosé. Every once in a while it’s okay to indulge in something a bit more flavorful, a bit more intense. Why not go all the way and have a cognac?
There are some stunning cognacs on the market now, the near-pinnacle of the distiller’s art. Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to taste some remarkable creations—triumphs of the master blender’s skills. I picked five standouts, all about the same price (expensive) and all about the same high level of quality.
95 Delamain Trés Vénérable ($300)
Elegant and complex, gorgeous, toasty and rich with dry fruits; ripe and gorgeous; 55 years old.
93 Leopold Gourmel Quintessence ($340)
Amber color; toasted fruit, intense, spicy with notes of peach, apricot and oak; dense, long and complex.
92 Martell Création Grand Extra ($299)
Deep, rich and wooded with toast, spice and dried fruits; silky, rich and long with dry, mellow, complex flavors of maturity and elegance.
94 Pierre Ferrand 1977 ($250)
Fresh and smooth with treacle and lovely eucalyptus and spice with caramel and feminine notes; long, clean and lovely.
COGNAC FERRAND USA
95 Rémy Martin 1989 Grande Champagne ($300)
Deep, orange/amber color; smooth, mellow, sweet and rich with lovely dried fruit, orange peel and elegant oak; long, mellow and showing vanilla, caramel and superb flavor.
REMY COINTREAU USA