Ruffino Chianti Riserva Ducale Oro 2012 I usually find Chianti a bit unapproachable, especially this young, but this is absolutely gorgeous. 80% Sangiovese, 20% Cab Sauv/Merlot. So smooth, with seamless transitions. $35.00 or so.
2013 Taz Pinot Noir Carneros Great value buy on a gorgeous, but hard to find Carneros Pinot. Bright and lively, with silky red fruits and a hint of baking spices. I wasn't expecting much, considering the price point, but this is really well made. $12.99
Prince Michel 2008 "Symbius" Meritage blend (42% Merlot, 36% Cab, 32% Cab Franc) from Leon, Virginia. Yes, that's right - VIRGINIA! This is every bit as good as any Meritage I've ever had. This release is really singing right now - full bodied and rich with dark blue/black fruits and a velvety finish. $34 at the winery, but easily compares to $75/$80 Bordeaux blends from CA. Loved it!
2013 Michel-Schlumberger "La Brume" Chardonnay. Fantastically full and rich cold-climate chard from Dry Creek Valley. The neutral French oak gives it a creamy texture without overpowering the fruit. Apricots, jasmine flower notes. Silky and delicious. $32 from the winery - just $13.99 at WTSO.com
Clos Pegase 2010 Mitsuka's Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay. Great expression of Carneros cold-climate Chard. Ripe and rich, with a subtle touch of oak for a creamy accent. $20.00, and 93 pts from Wine Spectator.
Long Meadow Ranch 2013 Reserve Rutherford Red Wine. Bordeaux blend of 50% Cab, 35% Merlot, 15% Malbec. Excellent structure, with dried cherry and red fruit on the palate. Finish disappears a bit quickly, but give this another year in bottle and it will be stunning. $100 on release, but now a steal for $29.00 at Total Wine.
Cameron Hughes Lot 555 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Simply amazing top-quality pedigree Cab from Rutherford. Dark ruby color to the rim, with blackcurrant, raspberry, and plum dominating the palate. Just enough of that classic Rutherford "dust" to let you know where it came from. $29.00, but drinks like an $80/$90 bottle. Superb!
Cameron Hughes 2012 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon. This is classic St. Helena single vineyard Cab from a producer that typically gets $75 to $100 a bottle for their wines. Cam sells this for only $29.00! (but it's long sold out...) :( Should age well into the next decade, if I can wait that long!
Amarone della Valpolicella Villa Mattielli 2008 Corvina (50%), Corvinone (30%), Rondinella (15%), Oseleta (5%) Concentrated cherry fruit and soft notes of toasty oak. I typically find Italian wines, especially Amarone, to be very unapproachable without a decade in the bottle, but this is a gorgeous wine and really drinking well now.
Michel-Schlumberger 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Even this wine comes from California, it's much more reminiscent of the Côtes-de-Nuit. Light and fruity, with tart red fruit on the palate and earthy notes on the finish. I like this better than a lot of CA Pinots that cost 3X the price. $16.00 on WTSO.com. 90 pts!
2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Elisabeth Chambellan Vielles Vignes. 60% Grenache, with the rest Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault. Deep ruby, with strong notes of dried flowers, spice box, and ripe kirsch. Cherry and anise on the finish. Lovely CdP that won't break the bank!
Osél Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato 2011 The Ruchè grape is a very rare grape from the Piemonte region of Italy. The 2011 is spicy, but medium-bodied, soft and very floral. Most like a Nebbiolo. Delicious and only $18.00!
Sea Smoke 2010 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay. Golden hued, heavy wine, with an almost glycerine-like weight in the mouth. Candied pears, honeysuckle, star fruit, and buttered popcorn. A real treat for our third anniversary! $59.00