2019 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: October 10, San Francisco

There are wine tastings, and then there are wine tastings. The annual Wine & Spirits Magazine Top 100 Tasting is quite possibly my favorite big public wine tasting each year in San Francisco. Why? Because the quality of wines poured at this event is always second to none. Some of them are wines that many of us rarely get the chance to taste, because they are either too expensive or too difficult to find. Many others are simply just great examples of their particular region or grape variety.

The event has increased its focus on food over the years, and now features tasty bites from the magazine's top restaurant picks for San Francisco, which means that when you need to take a break from drinking great wine and get something in your stomach, you don't have to settle for mere crackers and cheese. No, you can feast on slow-roasted pork shoulder and polenta or freshly shucked oysters, for instance.

2019 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: October 10, San Francisco

Held at the top of the Metreon building in San Francisco, which is a great event space, the tasting has plenty of space to spread out, and great views of Yerba Buena Gardens and the city skyline. Dare I say this is the one wine tasting event that is worthy of being a date night?

Whether you're there to flirt with a date over fine wine, or to anti-socially taste and take notes on new and exciting finds for your cellar, it's an event worth going to. Especially since I can get you a $25 discount on your ticket (see below)

If you're interested in the kinds of wines poured at the event, see what I tasted last year.

As usual a portion of the proceeds will benefit Baykeeper, an environmental non-profit focused on the health of the San Francisco bay ecosystem.

2019 Wine & Spirits Magazine's Top 100 Tasting
Thursday, October 10, 2019
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Cityview at the Metreon
135 Fourth Street, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
415-255-7736 ext. 2 for more info

Tickets for general admission run $135 and are very worth it. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for $185 that provide advance entry (at 5:30 PM) and access to special wines. This event will likely sell out, so I recommend buying tickets ASAP. If you click this link, you can get one with a 25% discount, or using the Vinography promo code: 19T100VINOGRAPHY.

See you there!



US Retailing: Cracks in the Foundations

A recent US Supreme Court ruling striking down an obscure Tennessee law has had the American wine industry abuzz for the past few months as both industry and legal experts begin to hint that the verdict may be a harbinger of much greater change to come.

Ever since 1933's repeal of Prohibition, the landscape of alcohol distribution in the United States has been fraught with complexity. The regulation of alcohol sales was left up to each individual state, resulting in the current morass of infinitely varied and arcane restrictions on the sale of alcohol expressed in what is known as the three-tier system. The tiers in question are first, the winery, which generally must sell to the second, the wholesaler or distributor, who then in turn sells to the third, the restaurant or retailer, at which point the consumer is able to purchase.

From a consumer perspective, buying alcohol this way was fine and dandy when the number of wineries in Napa could be counted on two hands, and the mob had an iron grip on the sale of booze in the biggest cities. Even with the advent of craft brewing and artisan spirits, consumers rarely have the expectation of buying such products directly from the producer or from a retailer in another state. But thanks in some significant part to Robert Mondavi, the idea of wine country and wine tourism became firmly established in America, and consumers began to expect to be able to purchase wine directly from producers.

The growing desire for consumers to purchase wine from wineries they visited led to the first major chink in the seemingly impenetrable wall of bureaucracy and special interests that has characterised the three-tier system as it has been legislated in each of the 50 states.

As recently as 2004, most of the states in the nation had laws preventing out-of-state wineries from shipping wine directly to residents, even while they permitted such shipping from wineries within their state lines. In 2005, however, the Supreme Court ruling in the Granholm v Heald case invalidated this practice as a violation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, forcing many states to either forbid all shipments from wineries to consumers (which some did) or to allow all wineries to finally access their consumers.

Read the rest of the story on JancisRobinson.Com.

This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is available only to subscribers of her web site. If you're not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It's only £8.50 a month or £85 per year ($11/mo or $111 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.



Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 9/15/19


Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren't Flipboard inclined, here's everything I've strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

A Deep Dive into the Red Wines of Italy's Umbria
Kerin O'Keefe leads the dive.

Japan to eliminate tariffs on US wine in bilateral trade deal
That sounds pretty good.

Bespoke Wine Events for the High-End Consumer
But of course, sir.

Orange wine is not 'an assault on pleasure,' it's a window into our changing tastes
Esther likes some orange.

Why Mexican Wine Is No Longer a Restaurant Novelty
Because it's gotten better.

Accountants Calling the Shots at Wineries
We're meant to believe the trend towards less new oak is driven by accountants!?

How Lindsay Woodard Became a Cult Willamette Valley Vintner
Katherine Cole on the legend of Retour.

Selling Sustainability
Craig Camp has some opinions on sustainability.

Farewell to a great Burgundian
Tim remembers William Fevre.

Is orange wine really an 'assault on pleasure'?
Simon Woolf breaks his silence.

Why Winemakers Should be Fighting Against Herbicide Drift
Nasty business.

Courtwatch: Pesticide Wipes Out Vineyard - Owners Blame Vineyard Contractor
Oops. This seems like a colossal mistake.

Leading Wall Street Figures Sue Wine Dealer for $8.3m
Khaaaaaaaan.

Why X Marks the Spot for Selling Wine
Kathleen Wilcox reports on Gen X.

No-spray zones divide French farmers from anxious neighbors
Rushing indoors to avoid the chemicals.

Everything You Need To Know About 'Smashable' Reds, A Wine Category That Breaks All The Rules
Light, chilled, and refreshing.

Nearly all Sonoma County vineyards are certified sustainable
Yes but what does sustainable really mean?

Jefford: The evolution of English wine
Andrew reviews the transformation.

Uncorked: A Newsy Investigation Of The Elite Wine World
The first new information behind the scenes of the scandal.

Williams Selyem, king of Sonoma County pinot noir winemakers, sticks to its business roots
A story of stewardship.

" target="_blank">How Can Small Wineries Be Big In The "Experience Economy"?
Reka Haros has some advice.



Vinography Images: Green Terraces



Green Terraces
LOS OLIVOS, CA: The terraced Saarloos & Sons Windmill Ranch vineyard in Ballard Canyon shows a carpet of green before budbreak near Los Olivos, California. Because of its close proximity to Southern California and Los Angeles population centers, combined with a Mediterranean climate, the coastal regions of Santa Barbara have become a popular weekend wine getaway destination for millions of tourists each year.

INSTRUCTIONS:
Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops.

To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these.

BUY THE BOOK:
This image is from a series of photographs by George Rose captured in the process of shooting his most recent work WINE COUNTRY: Santa Barbara County, a visual celebration of one of California's most beautiful wine regions. The book can be ordered on George's web site.

PRINTS:
Fine art prints of this image and others are available at George Rose's web site: www.georgerose.com.

EDITORIAL USE:
To purchase copies of George's photos for editorial, web, or advertising use, please contact Getty Images.

ABOUT VINOGRAPHY IMAGES:
Vinography regularly features images by photographer George Rose for readers' personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any web site or blog without the express permission of the photographer.



I’ll Drink to That: Burgundy Winemaker Tomoko Kuriyama

Episode 473 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Tomoko Kuriyama, who with her husband Guillaume Bott runs Chanterêves in Burgundy. Chanterêves is a micro-négociant sourcing grapes in Burgundy, while also making the occasional Syrah or Riesling from grapes grown in other regions as well.

Tomoko Kuriyama worked in German wineries for over a decade, before a harvest in Burgundy eventually led to a permanent move and a new adventure in Savigny-lès-Beaune. In 2010, she started the Chanterêves winery in Burgundy with her husband Guillaume Bott. Guillaume, who also works at Domaine Simon Bize in Burgundy, was able to provide insights gleaned from his experience working in Burgundy as well as local grower contacts. A collaboration was born. But what would the approach to the wines be? Arriving in Germany and then Burgundy with an outsider's eye for the details that make a place unique, Tomoko has been able to compare and contrast the techniques, ideas, and conditions that she has found in each place. A willingness to share these observations results is an especially insightful listen, as Tomoko is able to highlight the decisive factors and situation for each region. The specifics of harvest, fermentation, and élevage are described by way of analogy, which helps place the important topics in context. Tomoko explains what is important where, and why. If you are interested in what specifically are the challenges and rewards of winemaking in these classic areas, give this interview a listen.

Listen to the stream above, or check it out on Apple Podcasts, YouTube or Spotify.

I'll Drink to That is the world's most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine



Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 9/8/19


Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren't Flipboard inclined, here's everything I've strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

Grape Genes May Explain Differences in Wine Taste
Shocking, I know. But there's interesting findings here.

Trump proposes 100% tariff that would double the cost of European wine, cheese and olive oil
Just when you thought it was over.

Turning the Tables on Erin James
Another wine writer profiled.

Jancis Robinson: Wine's Neverending Story
On the 8th edition of the World Atlas of Wine.

Shady Wine Consultant Allegedly Scammed Wealthy Investors out of Millions
If it's too good to be true....

Al Gore on Climate Change and the Wine Industry
Lauren Mowery reports.

Elin McCoy: Should Japan go beyond Koshu?
Perhaps, but not leave it behind.

Steal This Job: A wine director who sources from around the world
A profile of Maria Bastasch.

Some of California's Most Famous Wines Came From a Science Experiment
The Sanford and Benedict legend.

On a journey to Israel's wine country, taking time to let it breathe
A travelogue.

How the Orange-Wine Fad Became an Irresistible Assault on Pleasure
Man doesn't like orange wine.

New Yorker Declares Orange Wine 'an Assault on Pleasure'
And the wine geeks are outraged.

For Historic Heitz in Napa, a New Team but Same Old Methods
Eric Asimov looks back and forward.

Anson: Liber Pater wine and the rush for rare grapes in Bordeaux
Jane looks for the truth amidst the PR spin.

How German Wine Found Its Sweet Spot
A deep article by Jason Wilson.

The Wine Train is Napa Valley
Like Pier 49 is San Francisco?

Why a Wine's Alcohol-by-Volume is Lying to You
Because the government says it's ok.

Raising a glass to grapes' surprising genetic diversity
The spice of life.

" target="_blank">Exploring Napa's Next-Wave Winemakers
Some new names to watch for.

Racketeering lawsuit heats up wine vs. weed war in Oregon
Gloves are off.

Dope Operation Sparks Winery Lawsuit
More details.

'Harvest Season' documentary a 'love letter' to Latinos in wine industry
On the need-to-watch list.

Why Winemakers Should be Fighting Against Herbicide Drift
A serious problem for some.

Twenty-One States In Violation of Constitution After Tennessee Wine Supreme Court Case
But what will happen?

Wine Vault Opens the Fight on Fakes
An intriguing solution.

Understanding the Evolution of Cannabis Wine
Jonathan Cristaldi gives the complete rundown.

Rob Davis Reflects on 40 Years at Jordan Vineyards
Tom Hyland interviews.

Swiss wine overview: the triumph of the house palate
House palate, or does Blake just not like Chasselas?

Phylloxera Strikes Walla Walla Vineyards
Unfortunately inexorable.

The High-Altitude Vineyards of Greece
Getting high in Greece.

While other wineries sell, Martinelli makes the hard choice to keep a vineyard in the family
Esther Mobley on legacy.



Vinography Images: Higher Than Cool

Higher Than Cool
SANTA YNEZ, CA: A mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard sits above the morning fog at Dierberg's Star Lane Vineyard near Santa Ynez, California. After an extremely wet winter, warm temperatures are accelerating harvests everywhere.


INSTRUCTIONS:
Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops.

To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these.

BUY THE BOOK:
This image is from a series of photographs by George Rose captured in the process of shooting his most recent work WINE COUNTRY: Santa Barbara County, a visual celebration of one of California's most beautiful wine regions. The book can be ordered on George's web site.

PRINTS:
Fine art prints of this image and others are available at George Rose's web site: www.georgerose.com.

EDITORIAL USE:
To purchase copies of George's photos for editorial, web, or advertising use, please contact Getty Images.

ABOUT VINOGRAPHY IMAGES:
Vinography regularly features images by photographer George Rose for readers' personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any web site or blog without the express permission of the photographer.



Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 9/1/19


Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren't Flipboard inclined, here's everything I've strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

Pushing Limits in the Rhône
Robert Camuto on an unusual partnership.

Save the World, One Bottle of Wine at a Time
Elin McCoy on activist wines.

Heatwave Shrinks Champagne Harvest by Almost 20%
Shrivel.

From the Itata Valley in Southern Chile, Old-Vine Cinsault
Oh yes. Buy it if you can find it.

'Terroir... Is that a dog?' Survey exposes wine knowledge
But I don't buy it.

The Science of Color in Wine
Excellent primer.

Screaming Eagle
Elaine Brown visits the nest.

Documents Bolster Winery Race Discrimination Case
Not a pretty picture.

E-Commerce And Wine Clubs Will Overtake Tasting Room Sales, Says New Survey
Of course, the study is run by a shipping company. But I still believe it.

Winemaker Shauna Rosenblum had to step out of her father's shadow to find her own voice
As is often the case.

Apotheosis: Napa Valley finds one of its greatest expressions in Philip Togni
Jeremy Parzen makes the pilgrimage.

Biodynamic In Bordeaux: "The Secret Is To Work"
Meg Maker unearths the story.

A Tale of Two Wine Auctions
One for wine lovers, and one for their publicists.

Burgundy's hottest summers in 600 years are changing the region's famous wines
No one wants crispy instead of crisp.

The Hopeless Hunt for the Perfect Wine
On subjectivity.

Croatia's best wines
Andrew Jefford touts the best of them.

Finger Lakes Point to a New Direction
Thanks to climate change?

The answers to wine climate questions might lie in the soil, not grapes
Dave McIntyre talks with Dan Petroski about dirt.

Can New Grapes Save the Wine Industry From Climate Change?
But some people think it's the grapes that will save wine.

Different Grapes From Different Regions, All Screaming Italy
Eric Asimov on fingerprints.

Australian Wine Loses a Legend
Farewell to Tony Jordan.

A Manifesto for the Agriculture and Natural Wine
Jonathan Nossiter is writing (with his usual hyperbole) for Newsweek!?

An early look at California's 2019 wine harvest
Early early.

Heat-stricken French wine harvests sound climate alarm
Listen to the sizzle.

Is The Future Of Wine In The Can?
Everyone is doing it.

E-Commerce And Wine Clubs Will Overtake Tasting Room Sales, Says New Survey
Of course it will.

Wine Targeted by Instagram Money Grab
Instagram cracks down.

Why red wine could be good for your gut - in moderation
Interesting research.

Testing times: the untold story behind the Master Sommelier exam scandal
One of the disqualified tells her story.

Eight new Masters of Wine announced
The ranks keep growing.

The Complete Guide to Cork Taint
A fairly thorough primer.



I’ll Drink to That: Wine Writer and Consultant Anthony Hanson, MW

Episode 472 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Anthony Hanson MW. Anthony Hanson is the author of the book Burgundy, which was originally published in 1982 and then revised for a second edition in 1995. He is also today a consultant for Haynes Hanson & Clark, as well as The Fine Wine Experience in Hong Kong.

​We often think of Burgundy as a traditional wine region, composed of small growers in vaulted cellars who are doing today more or less what their families have done for generations. But after listening to Anthony Hanson describe how much Burgundy has changed since the 1960s, it becomes clear that such a "traditional" conception of Burgundy cannot be correct. To name one reason why, there has been a tremendous growth since the middle of the twentieth century in the number of domaines bottling a large amount of their own production. Previously, that wine (or those grapes) had been going off to the négoce. Each successive time that Hanson has described the domaine bottlers - first in his 1982 book, then in the 1995 edition, and now in this interview talking about the current situation - their ranks have increased considerably. If one only considers that by bottling a large percentage of their own wine, many of today's new domaines couldn't - by definition - be doing what their fathers were doing, then one has to reconsider the ease with which we throw around that "traditional" descriptor for Burgundy. Dad (or granddad) probably sold the wine off in bulk, not in bottle, and that wine would have been blended and most likely "corrected," as well. They probably weren't raising the wine the way a small grower would today, for bottling themselves. Of course there have been other sea changes in Burgundy over the decades as well, and Hanson addresses those in turn: the first and second generation of clones, the spread of chemical fertilizers, consulting oenologists like Guy Accad, the declining use of chaptalization, Parker's influence, premox, and climate change. What we think of as a traditional region has been constantly in flux. Hanson, who lives in Burgundy, does an excellent job in this interview of providing context to the many changes.

Listen to the stream above, or check it out on Apple Podcasts, YouTube or Spotify.

I'll Drink to That is the world's most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine



Vinography Unboxed: Week of 8/25/19

Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I'm pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week included another tranche of wines from the Andis project, a Sierra Foothills label that's sprung for the services of Napa superstar winemaker Philippe Melka. These two whites are both competent and offer some promise, but I wish they were snappier with more acidity and (in the case of the Sauvignon Blanc) a bit less ripeness. I'm especially excited to see what this Semillon ends up being like as this project evolves.

I've got a fairly tropical California Chardonnay for those who want a bit of richness but without the oak. Alma Cattleya a project by Colombian native Bibiana González Rave who has been making wine in California for some time. She started her Cattleya label in 2012, and recently launched this Alma Cattleya line of wines. The Pinot Noir from the same label is a bit more simplistic, but still tasty.

Any interest in some skin-fermented Grüner Veltliner? If you're a fan of orange wines, I definitely recommend checking out the latest iteration of this wine from Solminer, Dave Delaski's project from Los Olivos in Santa Barbara County. But wait, there's more. Delaski is also making a sparkling Riesling as well and I had the chance to taste it for the first time. It's a younger, fresher kind of sparkling Riesling, and a fun little experiment. And if that weren't enough of an embrace for his Austrian wife's heritage, Solminer also makes a Blaufränkisch in a fresh, "glouglou" style that is the best rendition of the grape I've had from the states.

Moving to other reds, I've got a pair of wines that match the whites I reviewed last week from Maison Champy, the venerable Beaune-based Burgundy house. Both are worth seeking out, but especially the "Les Vergelesses" bottling from Pernand-Vergelesses, which has a wonderfully electric brightness to it and great purity of fruit.

And now for some darker and more southerly pursuits. I've got two more wines fromVinography Unboxed: Week of 8/25/19 Viña VIK, the money-is-no-object project in Chile dreamt up by tech-insurance-trading-and-more-billionaire and hotelier Alexander Vik. Carved out of the Millahue Valley (a sub-valley to Cachapoal), VIK spared literally no expense in the design, construction, planting, and winemaking for this project, and it has paid off. The wines are excellent, if perhaps a bit predictable. Icon wines of Chile? Yes. Readily distinguishable from similar wines made in Napa or Washington State? Not really. But if you're in the market for luxury Bordeaux-style blends from the New World, these will hold their own against wines costing 3 or 4 times as much from Napa.

All these and more below.

2018 Andis Wines "Codevilla Vineyard Old Vine" Sauvignon Blanc, Sierra Foothills, California
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of sweet kiwi and green apple fruit. In the mouth, silky flavors of green apple and gooseberry have a very nice complexion, but lack the acidity to make them truly come alive. Some nice wet stone notes linger in the finish along with green apple. Very tasty but needs more verve. Made from 45 year-old vines planted in the Shenandoah Valley AVA. Aged in a combination of French oak and steel. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $28. click to buy.

2018 Andis Wines "Bill Dillian Vineyard" Semillon, Sierra Foothills, California
Palest, almost colorless gold in the glass, this wine smells of green apple and greengage plum skin. In the mouth, green apple and chamomile flavors have a wonderful silky texture but not enough acidity to make them as exciting as they could be. There's a nice underlying minerality to the wine, but I wish it had more snap. 40 year-old vines. 13.5% alcohol. 428 cases made. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $28. click to buy.

2017 Alma de Cattleya Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and pineapple. In the mouth, bright lemon curd and pineapple flavors have a nice zip to them thanks to excellent acidity, and little trace of oak. Notes of grapefruit pith and a faint resinous note linger in the finish. Quite tasty. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $22. click to buy.

2018 Solminer "Curarse la Cruda - de Landa Vineyard Skin Fermented" Grüner Veltliner, Los Olivos District, Santa Barbara, California
A light amber gold in the glass, this wine smells of Ranier cherries and dried citrus rind. In the mouth, a lightly muscular sheaf of tannins wraps around a core of creamsicle and sarsaparilla flavors which bounce with a nice acidity. The texture of the tannins complement a deeply mineral backbone to the wine. Very well done. 10.5% alcohol. 100 cases made. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $33. click to buy.

2018 Solminer "Poil de Chiene - Method Ancestrale" Riesling, Santa Barbara, California
Light cloudy yellow in color with fine bubbles, this sparkling Riesling made in the traditional style smells of apples and citrus pith. In the mouth, citrus pith and apple and greengage plum flavors have a faint mousse and a nice bite thanks to excellent acidity. There's a light cream sherry note in the finish. A competent Sekt. 12.9% alcohol. Disgorged March 2019. 353 bottles made. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $40. click to buy.

2015 Maison Champy Beaune Premier Cru, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, France
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dark earth and raspberry bramble. In the mouth, flavors of freshly turned potting soil mix with raspberry and raspberry leaf. Excellent acidity lends a faint citrus note to the finish and keeps the fruit fresh and mouthwatering. The faintest powdery tannins sneak into the finish and caress the front of the mouth. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2015 Maison Champy "Les Vergelesses" Pernand-Vergelesses Premier Cru, Cote de Beaune, Burgundy, France
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of dried flowers and wet earth. In the mouth, raspberry and black raspberry flavors are dusted with powdery tannins that gain strength as the wine lingers through a long finish. Fantastic acidity keeps the fruit bright and lends itself to a sour cherry note in the finish that is mouthwatering. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $60.

2017 Alma de Cattleya Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cherry fruit. In the mouth, cherry and raspberry pastille flavors are intense and juicy thanks to excellent acidity. Fruit forward and not horribly complex, this is nonetheless a tasty bottle of wine that will make many very happy. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $28. click to buy.

2017 Solminer "deLanda Vineyard" Blaufränkisch, Los Olivos District, Santa Barbara, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of violets, licorice, and candied blueberries. In the mouth, fantastic boysenberry and mulberry flavors are intensely aromatic and wonderfully bright with juicy acidity. Hints of the intensely citric passionfruit linger in the finish. Something of a revelation for this variety in California. Run don't walk your way to a bottle. Incredibly refreshing at a mere 12.2% alcohol. 200 cases produced. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2013 Viña VIK "VIK" Red Blend, Cachapoal Valley, Chile
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and graphite and a touch of oak. In the mouth, very refined flavors of cherry, tobacco, pencil shavings and hint of cocoa powder have excellent acidity and balance. Elegant, fine-grained tannins dust the edges of the mouth, and notes of potpourri linger in the finish. Quite poised and refined. A blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Carmenere, 17% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Merlot. 13.99% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $165 (but usually can be found for $145). click to buy.

2013 Viña VIK "La Piu Belle" Red Blend, Cachapoal Valley, Chile
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis with a hint of black pepper and graphite. In the mouth, black cherry and cassis flavors mix with a darker earthy note and touches of licorice. Powdery tannins coat the mouth and linger with fresh black currants in the finish. A blend of 54% Carmenere, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 14% Syrah. 14% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $100. click to buy.