Hot Picks

Here you’ll find some of the hottest, most highly recommended buys in the market. Enjoy!

A Pair of New Gems from Rasa Vineyards September, 2022

These wines are in the +/- $20 price range.

2021 Rasa Vineyards, Columbia Valley AVA, Occam’s Razor, Pinot Gris (RT93) The recently released 2021 Occam’s Razor Pinot Gris shows a bit paler than its predecessor but, reflects remarkable wine making skills that appear to be on the rise. Billo and Pinto – the owner/winemaker brothers – continually impress and these new releases set a high bar for this set of wines. Crafted from Pinot Gris grown in the Gamache and Frenchman Hills Vineyards. Laser focused aromatics reveal a core of tangerine, white peach and hints of fresh almond and white flowers. The palate is equally focused, yet generous in its mouth texture, with its ripe, succulent fruit balanced with bright, fresh acidity. In a few words, this is a fabulous Pinot Gris outperforming its price point and setting a standard of excellence. Catch it while its fresh and alluring. Drink now-2025

2019 Rasa Vineyards, Columbia Valley AVA, Occam’s Razor, Red Blend (RT91) A creative blend of seven varieties: 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Syrah, 9% Grenache, 8% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 4% Touriga Nacional, 2% Petit Verdot, the 2019 vintage is showing exceptionally well and transcends the rusticity that characterized previous vintages. Aged 19 months in oak, of which only 15% is new, it expresses the mouth texture of cask aging yet shows no toasted oak characteristics. Deep ruby in hue, notes of blackberry, plum, dark ripe cherry, brambly brush and hints of white pepper frame a masculine bouquet. In the mouth this conveys a sense of sophistication and refined wine crafting with bright, ripe fruit, fresh acidity, and sweet, ripe tannins. This wine is a real beauty for the price point, simply outstanding! Drink now-2028+

2017 La Marca di San Michele, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Classico Superiore, Capovolto (RT92+) A stunningly pure and elegant Verdicchio crafted using organic farming with some biodynamic practices integrated. This is the work of a small winemaker producing a mere 2000 cases total wine per vintage. Whole cluster fermentation followed by 7 months on lees in stainless and finished with 4 months in bottle. The combination of a perfect vineyard site and deft winemaking result in pure magic. The bouquet is rich and decadent, with hints of soft citrus, white flowers, hazelnuts, and hints of limestone minerality. The texture is mouthcoating and rich leading to an extended finish that’s packed with perfectly ripe fruit. With time in the glass a notable salinity emerges. A rock star that outperforms its price point in a meaningful way! Drink now-2026 Available in the low $20s

June 2020

2016 Bergström, Willamette Valley AVA, Cumberland Reserve (RT 93) The current release of this tasty Oregon Pinot Noir shows seductive notes of sweet ripe strawberry, raspberry, Asian spices and hints of morels and porcinis. The fruit forward style makes this exceptionally delicious with a mouthwatering character artfully crafted on elegant fruit, soft acidity and sumptuous sweet tannins. Built for early to mid-term drinking and meant to be paired with food. Josh Bergstrom has hit another one out of the park, this leans toward a true Burgundian style of Willamette Pinot Noir and is well priced for the exceptional quality. Drink now-2026+ Available in the upper $30s to low $40s

June 17, 2019

2001 Cortese, Barbaresco, Rabaja (RT 93) Sourced from prime soils in the spectacular Rabaja cru, the 2001 is now in its peak drinking window showing all the magic of tertiary evolution and should hold in this stage for another decade. Crafted in an approachable style, the normale’s Rabaja bottling isn’t built for the ages like Cortese’s Riserva Rabaja, but it nonetheless reveals what makes this vineyard so alluring. Showing a deep dark ruby garnet hue, it wafts up a glorious, late Fall cornucopia of notes built on a frame of mentholated black cherry, spiced plum, brambles, sous bois and dried rose petal. The palate shows welterweight fruit with soft acidity and fully integrated tannin, making it very pleasing and food friendly. Cortese’s Rabaja remains an amazing value on release – in the low $40s – but like many Barbaresco’s and Barolo’s in the current market, the price spirals upward just a few years after import. Drink now-2029

May 16, 2019

2015 Fèlsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva, Rancia (RT 96) A drop dead gorgeous vintage for this utterly beautiful expression of Sangiovese! First bottled in 1983, this single cru bottling is sourced from the Poggio a Rancia area, is 100% Sangiovese and is sourced from one of the truly profound vineyards in all of Chianti Classico. Despite being aged exclusively in new French oak barrels for 18-20 months, not the slightest amount of oak is present. Over the past two decades this wine has been on fire and this vintage lives up to expectations from an excellent growing season. With its captivating translucent ruby garnet hue, subtle notes of ripe red cherry, sandalwood, plum, blackberry and accents of dried white flower and Tuscan underbrush emerge. With time its expected spiciness emerges. The palate is sensationally finessed with every little detail in perfect orchestration. A masterpiece of winemaking, the 2015 Rancia is a thing of utter beauty. This is one of the stand out wines for the price point from the region. Drink 2015-2040+ Retailing in the $40-50 range.

May 3, 2019

2004 Agostina Pieri, Brunello di Montalcino (RT 94+) This has proven to be an outstanding Brunello showing the class and rigor of a consistent producer who makes delicious Brunello in good and bad vintages. In this case the vintage is benchmark, a top of class year. It shows a relatively deep hue with alluring translucence. I let this SO in the cellar all day before pouring the first glass and served it directly from the bottle due to its low sediment. At age 14 the bouquet is developing generously showing tertiary notes of ripe red fruits, Tuscan underbrush, spice, tobacco and herbs. The palate is seamless and pure displaying a roundness that makes it downright delicious. Showing a level of freshness, balanced acidity and tannin integration, this is a delightful Brunello. There may be some upside to a few more years of cellaring, but it won’t have a remarkable impact as this is now in its peak drinking window. Drink now – 2029+ The 2004 is not currently available in the market, but you can find the most current vintages – 2012, 2013 & 2014 – in the mid-$40s to mid-$50s and given the increasing price of Brunello, this makes it a Hot Pick, a stunning QPR!

April 17, 2019

2010 San Fereolo, Dogliani Supeiore, San Fereolo (RT 94) As exquisite a Dolcetto as has ever passed my lips, the 2010 San Fereolo is a masterpiece combining the finest elements of great soils and superb winemaking. Heralding from 40-70-year-old vines grown in limestone dominated soils with biodynamic farming practices from the land where the finest Dolcetto grapes are grown – Dogliani. This gorgeous wine reveals the elegance and finesse that few Dolcettos express. Showing a decidedly garnet hue, notes of dried cranberry, mentholated red cherry, mineral-driven sous bois and accentuated with an alluring floral aspect, the impact of late release by the winery is evident. In the mouth is where this wine reveals its true gloriousness as it delivers a round, savory and sumptuous character, with magnificently refined tannin and perfect acidity. A virtual masterpiece. This wine is held at the winery for 8 years post vintage, the 2011 is the current vintage, but most shops are still stocking the 2010. Drink now – 2028+ A serious Hot Pick, available in the $33-40 range stateside.

April 8, 2019

2008 Elena Fucci, Aglianico del Vulture, Titolo (RT 93+) Elena Fucci is a relative newcomer to the world of wine and crafts but one bottling: Titolo. Produced entirely from estate grown fruit from 55-60-year-old vines, this winery sits on the west side of highway SS658, a stone’s throw from the Paternoster winery. She is rapidly rising toward the top of the Aglianico del Vulture producer list. Elena used 100% new French oak barriques for aging this vintage, but the quality is very high and I got no notes of toast, a really pleasant surprise. Purchased on release and cellared since, this bottle was SO’d for the day and followed for three nights. Showing a dark ruby hue with no hints of garnet, notes of black fruits, spice, anise and hints of leather are framed on a mineral-built spine. Quite masculine as one expects from Vulture grown Aglianico, its well-balanced in its mouthfeel and shows a fine combination of fruit, acid and tannin. At its current age of 10 its coming together nicely. Outstanding stuff, drink from now-2030+ This is a well-priced bottling that offers terrific value, a bona fide Hot Pick! You can pick up current vintages (2013, 2014, 2015) in the $30-40 range.

April 6, 2019

2016 Daniele Conterno, Barbera d’Alba Superiore (RT 91) Followed over the course of three days, this young Barbera d’Alba proved a top-value expression of the grape and the region. The Superiore appendage to the name means lower grape yields and longer aging than your typical Barbera d’Alba. Crafted with fruit from the Monforte d’Alba, Barolo and Novello municipalities of Barolo. Shows a dark, purple hue with hints of ruby, the bouquet reveals a traditionally vinified Barbera with notes of black berry, plums, hints of new saddle leather, a splash of dark florals and a note of lovely minerality. The mouthfeel is round, soft and very approachable, the acidity showing brightness and a supple, tannic finish rounds off the palate. This wine was aged for four months in stainless, followed by a year in Slavonian botti, then bottled. 25,000 bottles total production. A classic expression of the grape and a perfect pizza/everyday wine. The 2016 Daniele Conterno, Barbera d’Alba Superiore is a Hot Pick, drink now – 2026+ Available in the $20-range stateside.

March 31, 2019

2014 Passopisciaro, Etna Rosso, Passorosso (RT 93+) Bought a case on release, this is the second bottle I’ve sampled. SO’d for the day and followed over the course of two evenings. Showing a pale ruby translucent hue, the nose initially shows notes of vivid, bright red berries, notable minerality, wisps of light floral notes and hints of spice. On the palate is where this wine truly shines as it delivers an incredible level of balance between fruit and tannin with a sappy, mouth coating quality and refreshing acidity. The weightlessness is utterly astonishing, and the lively finish goes on for ages. It dances around in your mouth, providing nonstop entertainment. I’m very impressed with the overall delivery and clearly this is an impressive bottling. Outstanding stuff that has a long, excellent future ahead! Highly Recommended for both quality and price point! Drink 2020-2034+ While this in not a current release (2016 is the current vintage), you can still find this in the market in the $36-45. The current vintage runs $32-42

March 28, 2019

2010 Paitin, Barbaresco, Sori Paitin (RT 95+) First bottle from a case bought on release. I’ve followed Paitin wines going back into the 80s, and as a winery they’ve gone through many evolutionary changes. Recently they brought in Dante Scaglione – former head oenologist for Bruno Giacosa – and he fine tuned their vinification, changing the style of the wines dramatically. This is the first vintage where Dante’s work can be seen, felt and tasted and the results are truly impressive. Showing a translucent ruby hue with just the slightest tinge of garnet on the rim, scents of morello cherry, spiced plum, cranberry and a hint of tar and minerality dominate the aromatics. On the palate there is an extraordinary sophisticated texture, masculine and feminine at the same time, with impressive balance, freshness and a caressing delivery of acidity and fine tannin. This really shows the grandness of the 2010 vintage and of the great winemaking at Paitin. The completeness of the package is fabulous, and I cannot recommend a wine more highly. A superb value and a smoking HOT PICK! Drink now – 2040+ Current vintage release price range: $38-50

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