91 Mendocino Farms 2005 Syrah, Fairbairn Ranch, Mendocino ($32)
Dark and fleshy with blackberry and notes of charred meat; long, dense and balanced.
88 High Flyer 2006 Viognier, Borra Vineyard, Napa Valley ($18)
Smooth and creamy with bright fruit and rich texture; good acid structure, length and ripe vanilla spice flavors. TWISTY
90 Mazzocco Winery 2006 Zinfandel, Reserve, Warm Springs Ranch, Dry Creek Valley ($50)
Generous and dense with ripe black-raspberry and plum tones and complex spice notes.
89 Leo Steen 2006 Chenin Blanc, Saini Farm Vineyard, Dry Creek Sonoma ($19)
Bright and racy with dry, minerally notes and lively, juicy acidity; long, balanced and pure.
MILLENNIUM WINE GROUP
90 Riverbench Vineyard & Winery 2006 Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley ($27)
Lovely and silky with bright acidity; spotless, elegant and beautifully balanced with long, fresh flavors.
MILLENNIUM WINE GROUP
92 Roxo Cellars 2005 Magia Preta, Paso Robles ($75)
A silky and beautifully balanced Porto-style American port from Cabernet and Syrah; intense sweet berry fruit with notes of chocolate and cinnamon.
90 Laird Family Estate 2006 Chardonnay, Red Hen Vineyard, Napa Valley ($35)
Enticing ripe fruit and well-integrated oak; lush, long and balanced with subtlety and finesse.
93 Testarossa Vineyards 2007 Chardonnay, Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills ($39)
Bright and racy with crisp, pure acidity and lovely fruit; clean, elegant and pure with long, fresh flavors and great balance.
92 2006 Pinot Noir, Monument, Santa Maria Valley ($60)
Alive with lovely cherry fruit and racy acidity; mellow, supple and balanced with depth, length and style.
JACKSON FAMILY VINEYARDS
92 Robert Mondavi 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Napa Valley ($125)
Broodingly dark with ripe plum and blackberry; firmly structured yet supple, with elegant, complex flavors; great texture and breeding.
90 Neil Ellis Wines 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Groenekloof, South Africa ($18)
Racy with smooth citrus and peach; fresh, long and charming. TWISTY
90 Long Boat 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough ($20)
Fresh and racy with pure acidity and lovely tropical fruit and bright, exceptional flavors and mouth feel; gorgeous and balanced.
90 Mas de la Dame 2006 Coteaux d'Aix en Provence La Stèle, France ($22)
Creamy and rich with ripe apple and mineral notes; 80% Rolle, 20% Clairette.
PALM BAY IMPORTS
90 La Tunella 2007 Rjgialla Silènze, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy ($27)
Dense with lovely silky texture and bright, ripe melon fruit; silky, totally charming tangy acidity.
90 Pieropan 2006 Calvarino, Soave Classico, Italy ($35)
Silky smooth with pure, racy fruit and crisp acidity; fresh and nervy with lovely balance.
92 Château de Tracy 2005 Pouilly-Fumé Haute Densité, France ($110)
Silky smooth with juicy citrus and bright acidity; dense and aromatic with depth and style.
92 Vina Cobos 2007 Felino Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($17)
Dark and lush with ripe plum, mulberry and anise; rich, long and complex with superb balance and depth.
90 Finca El Origen 2007 Malbec, Gran Reserva, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina ($20)
Bright, intense and supple with great structure and racy plum and blackberry fruit.
CAROLINA WINE BRANDS
92 Tir na N’og 2006 Grenache, Old Vines, McLaren Vale, South Australia ($32)
Dark and loaded with spicy blackberry; elegant, ripe and structured with generous fruit and a long, rich finish.
AUSTRALIAN PREMIUM WINE COLLECTION
91 Salentein 2004 Numina, Spirit Vineyard, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina ($41)
Excellent structure; clean, lush and long with lovely hints of oak and stunningly pure fruit flavors.
PALM BAY IMPORTS
91 Cellers Melis 2005 Elix Priorat, Spain ($45)
Fresh and bright with lovely plum, black raspberry and spice; bright and modern with gorgeous flavors and great structure.
90 Quinta do Vallado 2006 Reserva, Douro, Portugal ($60)
Made from more than 20 different varieties; dark, rich and dense with concentrated blackberry, black cherry and spice; powerful, deep and long with rich flavors, balance and style.
92 Terrabianca 2004 Campaccio Riserva, Toscana, Italy ($75)
A Supertuscan with ripe plum and black raspberry fruit; rich, long and complex with depth and aging potential.
93 Wolf Blass 2005 Shiraz, Platinum Label, Barossa ($90)
Smooth and juicy with lovely plum and black raspberry fruit riding on a bright acid structure; tangy, long and beautifully balanced with lifted flavors and pure varietal expression.
VALUE AND BY-THE-GLASS RECOMMENDATIONS
88 Farnese 2007 Trebbiano, Unfiltered, Abruzzo, Italy ($9)
Brightly fresh and juicy with soft herbal notes and racy acidity; lively, long and charmingly crisp.
88 Deakin Estate 2008 Moscato, NW Victoria, Australia ($9)
Spritzy and bright with sweet grapefruit, apple and peach; juicy, long and fresh. TWISTY
88 Villa Wolf 2007 Pinot Gris, Pfalz, Germany ($12)
Juicy and bright with a touch of sweetness and lots of racy acidity; long, clean and nervy. TWISTY
LOOSEN BROS. USA
88 Revelry Vintners 2006 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley ($13)
Clean, simple fruit, toasty oak and juicy acidity; bright, lively and balanced.
88 The Crossings 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($15)
Tangy with spice and racy citrus; nervy and bright. TWISTY
W. J. DEUTSCH & SONS
88 Barefoot Cellars NV Merlot, California ($7)
Ripe with plum, herbs and spice; fresh, long and balanced with richness and attractive flavors.
88 Château de L'Abbaye de Saint-Ferme 2004 Bordeaux Supérieur, Les Vignes du Soir, France ($10)
Plum, spice and racy acidity; edgy, lively and fairly complex with finesse and style.
DOMAINES ARNAUD DE REIGNAC
89 Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2006 Meritage, California ($11)
Smooth and fresh with lovely plum, berries and vanilla oak; suave texture and rich flavors with balance and finesse.
88 Tormaresca 2007 Neprica, Puglia, Italy ($12)
Black raspberry fruit, spice and lively acidity; long, delicious and zesty flavors; Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon.
ST. MICHELLE WINE ESTATES
88 Tamarí 2007 Malbec Reserva, Mendoza, Argentina ($14)
Juicy and fresh with clean, racy plum fruit and nervy acidity; lovely balance.
TERLATO WINES INTERNATIONAL
92 Surreal Vodka ($40)
Smooth, lush and bursting with vanilla, lovely spicy heat and very clean, mellow flavors; long and buttery.
88 Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey ($19)
Deep amber color; spicy and complex with soft caramel and vanilla; dry, edgy and intense with smooth length and balance.
93 Zwack Herb Liqueur ($24)
Soft herb and cola nose; orange rind, chocolate, cola, spice and mild bitters; sweet, smooth and lush but finishes with a charming flash of heat; quite stunning.
90 Tequila Revolucion Silver ($49)
Good agave character; silky, peppery and hot on the finish; dry, spicy and lively with a nice, long finish.
91 Ron Abuelo Añejo 7 Años Reserva Superior ($22)
Mellow and toasted with lovely caramel and honey; quite lush and balanced, subtle, complex and elegant; from Panama.
92 Bushmills 16 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey ($66)
Creamy and lush, dark and smooth with spicy toast and lovely flavors.
94 Navan Natural Vanilla Liqueur ($35)
A new formulation that is drier, more masculine and more concentrated; toasted vanilla, creamy and luscious with caramel, spice and rich cognac flavors.
MOËT HENNESSY USA
Sacha Lichine at his Château d’Esclans.
Those who know my predilection for the South of France will also remember that I’m a huge fan of Provençal rosé. Although these are generally unassuming wines meant for casual quaffing, there are a small number of them that completely transcend the ordinary. Some of these are from Château d’Esclans, a splendid 700-acre property just north of St. Tropez, in the Côtes de Provence AOC.
The estate is owned by Sacha Lichine, son of legendary wine writer and vintner Alexis Lichine. Sacha bought d’Esclans in 2006, a few years after he sold his family’s Château Prieuré-Lichine in Bordeaux. Sasha refurbished the 19th-century manor house, began replanting the vineyards and set out to create the world’s most expensive rosé, using the estate’s Grenache, along with some Rolle (Vermentino) and Syrah. Patrick Léon, formerly of Mouton-Rothschild, was hired as winemaker, and Lichine provided him with a cellar full of Burgundy barrels to be used for the extended fermentations of free-run juice that Léon favors.
The single-vineyard release called Garrus did indeed turn out to be the world’s priciest rosé, instantly achieving cult status among the wealthy elite of the French Riviera. Here are my notes on Garrus and the other releases from a project that has turned out to be a triumph for Sacha Lichine—one that would have made his father proud.
89 Château d’Esclans 2007 Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence ($21)
Deep pink color, lovely texture; complex, bright and floral with racy acidity and lovely structure.
90 Château d’Esclans 2007 Esclans, Côtes de Provence ($37)
Light salmon color; smooth and silky with crisp strawberry fruit and subtle acidity; lovely, graceful and balanced with lengthy flavors.
91 Château d’Esclans 2007 Les Clans, Côtes de Provence ($75)
Light salmon color; smooth and lush with dry but rich flavors of raspberry and spice with a fresh, juicy underpinning; intense but elegant with length, balance and skillful finesse.
92 Château d’Esclans 2007 Garrus, Côtes de Provence ($105)
Light salmon color; smooth and opulent with lovely raspberry fruit and notes of fraises des bois; silky, long and complex while always being pure, elegant and focused.
Château d’Esclan is imported by Shaw-Ross.