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Top Retailer Wine Selections for 2014

January 23, 2015 – We think you’ll enjoy browsing the wine selections of top wine retailers, which we bring you courtesy of Beverage Dynamics, November/December 2014 issue

Editor’s note:  Throughout the year, we’ve asked our retailer wine panel to review zinfandels, chardonnays, pinot noirs, summer white wines and cabernet sauvignons. For this issue, we’ve compiled the top wine reviews from 2014 — wines in those categories that scored at least 94.  These selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market).


(98) Sonoma-Loeb Envoy Carneros Chardonnay 2012 (California). Sourced from the famed Sangiacomo Vineyards with the best clones, this is a rich elegant Burgundian-styled wine with beautiful tropical fruits, rich butter and caramel flavors, and toasted oak; save this for that special dinner. ($55)

(97) Buccella Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). A small production cult wine; deep purple, opaque in color with concentrated black currant, licorice, exhibiting intense and floral characteristic. ($150)

(97) Alexander Valley Vineyards CYRUS 2010 (California). Done in the meritage style (Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec); winemaker Kevin Hall uses only eight very select barrel aged lots for his final cuvee; aged 12 month in French oak and an additional eight months aging in the bottle; incredible. ($65)

(97) J.Lohr Hilltop Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). A beautiful, harmonious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Malbec and Syrah from prime vineyard sites; aged 18 months in oak; smooth, balanced, full-bodied, with rich layers of cherries and blackberries. ($40)

(97) Duckhorn Napa Chardonnay 2012 (California). This is the 35 vintage year, and this wine reflects the very best of Napa; sourced from 11 different vineyard sites, it showcases a wide variety of flavor components, including melon, pineapple, and peaches; beautifully regimented barrel aging program adds rich, complex textures to balanced acidity; long lingering finish. ($53)

(97) Joseph Drouhin Nuits-Saint-Georges Damodes 1er Cru 2011 (France). From one of the most established and respected houses in Burgundy, this Premier Cru Burgundy wine exudes class and elegance; brilliant ruby in the glass; complex nose, with hints of red fruit, berries, along with subtle spicy notes; on the palate, the elegance continues with tastes that echo the nose, along with a bright edge. ($111)

(97) Scott Family Estate Arroyo Secco Chardonnay 2012 (California). All estate grown fruit from Arroyo Secco area in the Monterey AVA; intense, rich, concentrated viscous fruit; Dijon clones offer fresh notes of vanilla, pear and orange zest; butter-scotch flavors at the finish after waves of tropical fruit; great long lingering finish; over-delivers for the money. ($36)

(97) Frank Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2012 (California). Classic new-world style; fruit forward, rich creaminess, long finish; very balanced; Carneros fruit over-delivers; floral notes of honeysuckle and fresh bread dough; tropical fruit flavors dominate. ($48)

(96) Nth Degree Livermore Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Sourced from Wente’s vineyard sites, and meticulously “ultra farmed,” this is a rich, elegant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Verdot; rich black cherry flavors dominate, with a subtle hint of mocha; seamless till the end and very balanced through the finish; spectacular. ($132)

(96) Cade Winery Howell Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). This 100 % estate grown Cabernet is loaded with aromas blueberry, blackberry and plums; big, bold and elegant; the finish is nicely balanced and lingers for minutes. ($170)

(96) Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2011(Italy). Supremely elegant and fine, the wine exudes class on the nose and palate; lots of red fruit, with notes of spice help emphasize the wine’s pedigree; very satisfying now, the wine will certainly benefit from medium term aging. ($57)

(96) Joseph Jewell Russian River SonomaPinot Noir 2011 (California). Very elegant wine from this young winery (established 2006); beautiful red hues, strong cherry notes, with a very light touch of oak; black tea and baking spice aromas dominate the nose; perfect wine for the late spring and early summer months. ($60)

(95) Alexander Valley Vineyards Alexander School Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Older, low-yield vines produce very intense concentrated fruit; 100% Cabernet sauvignon; aged almost two years in premium

French oak barrels; a very big wine, rich and chewy, with dark fruit, tobacco and semi-sweet chocolate flavors. ($45)

(95) Daou Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). This full-bodied wine displays black fruits, cassis, wild herbs and earthy notes with ripe, rich tannins; grown at the highest elevation in Paso Robles shows the great complexity of the area. ($30)

(95) Fattoria di Felsina Maestro Raro Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Italy). Cherry, black currant, cedar and coffee aromas lead you into the intense flavors with refined structure; ripe and focused tannins provide grip; tobacco spice notes. ($60)

(95) Caymus 40th Anniversary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). A delicious celebration of Napa Valley Cabernet; rich and robust berry fruit, with balanced tannins marry together for a truly silky finish. ($73)

(95) Long Shadows Feather Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Washington State). Dark fruits with a hint of chocolate, this is a rich fullbodied wine with a luxurious texture. ($60)

(95) Ahnfeldt Provocative Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California).

Gorgeous bouquet of lilacs, roses and ripe black fruits; flavors of blueberry, black currant and plum abound with just a touch of toasted oak; tannins are supple; this wine is absolutely enjoyable now. ($40)

(95) Poggio al Tesoro, Sondraia Bolgheri Superiore 2011 (Italy). From Tuscany, this Cabernet dominant blend combines elegance and power; the 18 months in oak, contributes a spiciness to the red and black fruit notes; the taste is fresh and clean, with a long and elegant finish; a highly polished wine that will pair with a wide range of meats, cheeses, and other foods. ($55)

(95) Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Washington State). Most of the grapes, used to produce this outstanding wine, came from the established Cold Creek vineyard; the wine is rich and powerful, with a great deal of elegance; dark fruit is accented by spice, on the nose and palate; delicious now, make sure to age some as well. ($48)

(95) Artesa Estate Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). From one of Napa Valley’s top flight properties, this Cabernet exhibits dark fruit and power; the fermentation and aging in oak contribute spice and structure; a very fine wine, enjoyable now, but with potential to age gracefully. ($46)

(95) Elderton Ashmead Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Australia). This wine is exceptionally concentrated, with plush black fruit; the mouthfeel and finish are outstanding, and examples of world-class Australian winemaking; a real keeper, as well as a wine that’s showing superbly well now. ($104)

(95) Chateau Franc Coutelin Saint-Estephe Bordeaux 2009 (France). Blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot; the Cabernet is most evident with aromas and flavors of black cherry, currant and blackberry; a note of toasted oak on the finish along with firm tannins.($30)

(95) Root:1 Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Chile). From ungrafted vines of original European rootstock that have never been blighted by phylloxera; bold, rich varietal aromas and flavors in a ripe, mouth-filling, and easy-to-enjoy style; richness, quality and value. ($13)

(95) True Grit Reserve Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). This is Parducci’s reserve level Cabernet Sauvignon; 18 months in French and American oak add a vanilla softness to the mix; small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Syrah add richness; beautiful cherry and cassis aromas finish out the wine. ($39)

(95) Flanagan Family Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Ripe and

concentrated fruit; cassis and vanilla on the nose; unusually soft tannins for such a powerful Cabernet. ($85)

(95) Itsas Mendi Blanco D.O. Bizkaiko Txakolina 2012 (Spain). A truly unique white wine from Spain’s Basque country, made from the indigenous Hondarrabi Zuri grape; at first, it’s reminiscent of Vinho Verde, rather tart and light; after a few minutes of aeration, a floral bouquet bursts into flavors of lush tropical fruits, ending with lip-smacking sweet/tart acidity. ($23)

★★★★★(95) Carmen Gold Reserve Maipo Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Chile). A big, hearty Chilean Cab; lots of oak and vanilla overtones with deep blackberry fruit; balanced tannins from this warm weather region. ($75)

★★★★★ (95) Robert Mondavi Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

(California). Dark in the glass, with plenty of dark fruit notes on the nose, the wine is rich, with hints of spice and herbs; an exceptionally long finish, with great balance. ($45)