Shooting Star Chardonnay 2015, Mendocino, $14.99
"Every summer, Jed Steele comes to town to hang out with members of the local wine trade. Since his portfolio is diverse and extensive, he usually has to narrow the tasting down to a focused group of wines. When I walked into the event, I was disappointed that I didn't see some his more exotic choices like Aligote, Barbera or Single-Vineyard Zinfandels. My disappointment quickly faded after trying this wonderful Chardonnay. It instantly became my favorite domestic Chard in this price range. Sourced from the old Lolonis Vineyard, it has a lovely balance of vibrant citrus and melon with just a wisp of oak and finishes with a crisp note." DM
Wagner Dry Riesling 2015, Finger Lakes, New York, $21.99
"My favorite dry Riesling, I've been blown away by its purity of fruit - lime and golden apple, and its steely mouthfeel. The previous vintage garnered 90 points from Wine Advocate; I believe this will do even better. I wish we had this wine in stock a few months ago when I had a customer give the opinion that New York wines never quite get to the level of exciting; this is exciting stuff!" DM
Mas de Volques Cevennes Alba Dolia 2013, Rhone Valley, France, $17.99
"The 2013 IGP Cevennes Alba Dolia is comprised of 65% Viognier and 35% Roussanne that spent six months in two-year-old barrels. Showing a Condrieu-like bouquet of apricot, honeyed minerality and hints of lychee nut, it is medium-bodied, lively and fresh on the palate, with great acidity and a clean, nicely focused finish. Improving in the glass, it's a superb white to pair up with food over the coming year or three (through 2017)." 90pts WA
Lopez de Heredia Vina Gravonia Rioja Blanco 2006, Spain, $29.99
"The warmer 2006 Viña Gravonia Crianza, a white inspired by the wines from Graves (hence the name), is pure Viura matured in well-seasoned oak barrels for four years and bottled unfiltered in November 2011. The nose does not transmit any heat whatsoever, showing notes of chamomile, beeswax, honey and aromatic herbs. The palate is sharp, medium-bodied with great acidity and freshness that is both clean and persistent; it is more austere than exuberant, which was a real surprise. Overall, it is tasty and supple. The Gravonia vineyard is very old and naturally-balanced, which shows in the wine. Against all odds, the 2006 is showing better than the 2005 today. Fantastic and a steal!" 94pts WA
White Rock Chardonnay Napa Valley 2013, CA, $46.99
"White Rock's 2013 Chardonnay is bright and beautifully focused, with tons of lemon oil, white flowers and stony, mineral notes. Drink this vibrant, steely Chardonnay over the next handful of years. Readers who enjoy Chardonnays built on a Chablis-like model of precision will find plenty to admire in this striking wine from White Rock." 93pts V
Mocali Rosso di Montalcino 2014, Tuscany, $24.99
This so-called second wine often garners ratings on par with the Brunellos of neighboring producers, and it does so at a very fair price. This vintage has not yet been rated, but it shows tons of promise with loads of dark cherry fruit and chewy-yet-plush tannins. There are also plenty of subtle anise, mint and dried herb notes adding complexity.
Ragnaie Rosso di Montalcino 2013, Tuscany, $33.99
Also not yet rated, but here's Wine Advocate's take on the previous vintage which it rated 90pts: "initially tight and compressed with focused tones of cassis, licorice and balsam herb. You get a good dose of that inner complexity and elegance that is characteristic of its big sister wine, Brunello di Montalcino. It also shows a similar ability to change and evolve in the glass with each passing minute."
La Massa "La Massa" 2013, Tuscany, $31.99
"The 2013 La Massa is a delicious blend of 60% Sangiovese and 30% Merlot, with the rest being Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet. It opens to a bright ruby color with dark garnet intensity. This is a more feminine wine compared to Giorgio Primo, but the wine's inner complexity and finesse are really quite remarkable. Bold fruit layers show intensity and purity, and the wine is impeccably clean and forthcoming. That same sense of purity is transported to the palate where fresh acidity works in nice contrast to the natural heft and structure of this wine. Best of all, La Massa is a great value." 92pts WA
Bindella Rosso di Montepulciano "Fossolupaio" 2015, Tuscany, $17.99
100% Sangiovese from the Tuscan town of Montepulciano - not to be confused with the grape of the same name!
Enrico Santini Bolgheri Rosso "Poggio al Moro" 2012, Tuscany, $24.99
Not yet rated; three previous vintages rated 90, 91 and 90 points respectively. The blend here is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese and Syrah.
Monteti Caburnio 2012, Tuscany, $22.99
This is consistently outstanding (last 4 vintages 90, 91, 92 and 91 points Wine Advocate) for the money. This vintage has not yet been rated. It is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 15% Alicante-Bouschet, 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc. Half of the blend gets 12 months in French Oak.
Aia Vecchia Lagone 2014, Tuscany, $19.99
"A rich, flavorful red full of ripe fruit and new wood. Full-bodied and intense but shows an underlying freshness and depth." 92pts JS
Gaja Ca'Marcanda "Promis" 2014, Tuscany, Reg. $52.99, Sale $39.99
"A soft and fruity red with subtle tannins, light chocolate and currant character. Medium finish. Succulent and delicious." 90pts JS, only 4 bottles left of this vintage! The 2015 arrives early next week; it will also be on sale, but it will be a few bucks more.
Badia a Coltibuono "Montebello" 2011, Tuscany, $76.99
"A blend of indigenous grapes from Tuscany and Central Italy including Mammolo, Ciliegiolo, Pugnitello, Colorino, Sanforte, Malvasia Nera, Canaiolo, Foglia Tonda and of course Sangiovese (all in equal parts). Each grape is vinified separately with natural yeast and manual pump overs. It is aged in oak casks for up to 16 months. The wine opens to a pretty garnet color that captures the ambient light. This is a gorgeous wine that takes advtange of high altitude, cool climate positioning to offset the effects of the warm vintage. There is sweet fruit here with ripe cherry and raspberry at the front. The wine is otherwise soft, mellow and impeccably put together. Only 3,600 bottles were made." 93pts WA
Ioppa Ghemme 2011, Piedmont, $34.99
"All right, now we're having fun! This is probably the one DOCG red from Italy that the fewest Americans have heard of or had the chance to try. The Ioppa is Nebbiolo (or as the locals call it - Spanna) blended with 15% Vespolina from Province of Novara that is aged for FOUR YEARS in large Slavonian oak casks and an additional 2 years in the bottle (so this 2011 is a new release). Some compare this wine more to Burgundy than Barolo as its strenghts are in its elegance and nuance rather than its power. It certainly has plenty of tannin to stand up to roasted meats, but it is also enjoyable as a sipper to be contemplated." DM
Damilano Barolo "Lecinquevigne" 2012, Piedmont, $48.99
"Very clean and bright aromas of crushed berries, chocolate and spices, yet this is subtle and pretty. Full body, firm and silky tannins and a long, long, polished and tannic finish. Drink or hold." 93pts JS, also 92pts WA & WS
Chaman Cabernet Franc 2014, La Consulta, Mendoza, Argentina, $16.99
"Produced from a vineyard in La Consulta in the Uco Valley, quite different from the 2012 from Ugarteche. The grapes fermented together with 15% Malbec that might contribute with violet aromas that surround the wild berries and herbs. The palate is medium-bodied and reveals high acidity, which seems to be the backbone here, making it very lively and easy to drink. 6,000 bottles made." 89pts WA
Cloudline Pinot Noir 2015, Willamette Valley, OR, $21.99
"A real Oregon pinot with walnuts, plums and hints of chocolate. Medium and rounded tannins and a juicy finish. Delicious and lively. Drink and enjoy." 92pts JS
Domaine Bourgogne-Devaux Hautes Cotes de Beaune "la Dalignere" 2015, Burgundy, France, Reg. $33.99, Sale $27.99
You won't find a better value amongst the spectacular 2015 vintage (Cotes de Beaune vintage rated 94 points by Wine Advocate) in red Burgundies. The purity of this Pinot Noir is outstanding. The depth and substance are almost shocking considering the price. This isn't Premeir Cru Gevrey Chambertin, but it is impressive in many ways when you figure it is one half to one third the price of many of the Village level wines from the surrounding area. And value Burgundy is going to be even harder to find with the difficult 2016 vintage.