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Great 90+ Point Wines | The Best of Current Releases ~ Dec. 2017


What are the best wines available right now? Here’s a carefully curated list of the best new wines from around the globe that we’ve come across recently.


This edition focuses on currently available releases from Italy. 

We rate the following wines 90 points or higher and recommend them without an ounce of hesitation while always factoring in the price of the bottle. In other words, if it’s expensive—it’s worth it; if it’s affordably priced—it’s a steal. 

Short reviews provided are intended to give you a quick essence of the wine—in hopes that less leads you to wanting more. Search links are provided to help you locate these great wines before they become unavailable. Enjoy! 




ALOIS LAGEDER Lagrein Riserva 2012 (Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy | $28).  The Lagrein grape is native to the northern Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige and tastes like something in-between a light Merlot and a Pinot Noir. This is one to try—soft and medium-bodied, lovely and rustic with tons of character, good acidity, fruit-forward and silky. Notes of blueberry, violets, dark red fruits and forest floor.  91 pts   search


ALOIS LAGEDER Pinot Grigio 2015 (Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy | $28).  Dry and focused, yet plump with golden fruit richness, this single-vineyard Pinot Grigio blows away all preconceived notions of this dainty drink and reeks of prestige. Notes of honey and almond with… well, dainty aromatics of white flowers, orange blossom and red apple.  91 pts   search


COL DE SALICI Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOCG Extra Dry 2015 (Veneto, Italy | $19).  One of our favorite perennial bubblies—you just can’t go wrong with the warm notes of nutmeg, almond, honey and pear asserting themselves through the wine’s polished structure. Much classier than the bottle’s price tag might suggest, so don’t be fooled. This is super solid stuff, and only the most jaded of hearts would find fault with it.  90 pts   search


CORDELLA Brunello di Montalcino 2012 (Tuscany, Italy | $60).  This newer name in a storied field of Tuscan Brunello estates is truly worth seeking out. Finding the balance between the contemporary and the traditional, the depth of expression of fruit achieved (the winery farms organically) is absolutely captivating. Silky, succulent and dark, there’s sexiness here—but in the way a more mature woman pulls off sexy. Full-bodied, confident and engaging.  96 pts   search


FULIGNI Brunello di Montalcino 2012 (Tuscany, Italy | $70).  Impossible to resist taking another sip. With gorgeously silky texture, goes far beyond the textbook definition of finesse. Like counterpoint is essential to a Bach masterpiece, the wine also possesses wonderful acidity and bright eloquence of fruit. This Brunello’s beautiful fruit profile runs the black, blue and red gamut, not just in flavor but also aromas. Harmonious in an utmost elegant fashion and structured to outlive us all.  98 pts   search


GUADO AL TASSO Vermentino 2016 (Bolgheri, Italy | $22).  Zesty, bright and lively with a joyful note of minerality, The distinctive white wine from Vermentino grapes of the Bolgheri hits a grace-note of balanced richness of white and yellow peach flavor with a note of quince, refreshing acidity of citrus, and the complexity of herbal aromas. Excellent!  91 pts   search


MARCO FELLUGA Russiz Superiore Cabernet Franc 2014 (Friuli, Italy | $28).  A terroir-driven Cab Franc, there’s vegetal and green pepper notes to the finish—and that’s a good thing. A rustic, distinctive red wine that’s as Italianate as Chianti or Sophia Loren. Pair this with prosciutto. Bright, fresh, lovely notes of violets, rose, plum and dark cherry. If the greatness of Italian Cabernet Franc is unfamiliar, use this one as your starting point.  91 pts   search


MASI Costasera Riserva Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 (Veneto, Italy | $75).  Want decadence… like Caligula was decadent? Look no further. An Amarone—a product of an intense aging process—is already a wine of maximum viscosity, but this Masi goes full tilt loco. Very, very rich and fleshy of dark berry compote notes and heavily dense. What’s really a turn-on, though, is the velvetiness which is pure sin.  96 pts   search


MATAROCCHIO 2012 (Bolgheri, Italy | $350).  What would you be willing to fork over to experience one of the world’s greatest Cabernet Francs? And how much difference would it make if we told you this one starts with a super-sexy bouquet of lavender, rose and soft spices and then proceeds to bowl you over with its almost obscene lusciousness while walking a delicate tightrope of pristine balance and elegance? The answer is 350-dollars, if you got it and, you know, if it’s no big deal.  98-99 pts   search


ORMA Passi di Orma 2015 (Bolgheri, Italy | $32).  One ends up stupefied and incredulous that this expressive Tuscan beauty is a 30-dollar wine—a blend of Merlot and Cab. It’s a vivrant thing, as the classic Q-Tip rap song goes, beginning with a wondrous bouquet of rich blue and purple fruit that transforms into soft, velvety tannins on the palate with additional notes of red currant and hint of mint. You know that first feeling you get when you look up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Like that.  95 pts   search


PIO CESARE Barbaresco “Il Bricco” 2012 (Piedmont, Italy | $110).  Strikingly pure and precise, with a beautiful light touch that’s so elusive yet essential to Nebbiolo wine. One of the most recognizable names in Piedmontese wine makes one of the world’s best Barbarescos. Lengthy, lengthy notes of blackberry, dark raspberry, young cherry and a touch of pepper driving forward like a Ferrari on an ever-so stately and elegant structure.  97 pts   search


RENATO RATTI Nebbiolo Langhe “Ochetti” 2014 (Piedmont, Italy | $20).  As great a “starter” wine that you’ll ever find to embark on the journey of discovering Nebbiolo’s multifaceted charms or to have as a go-to Piedmont red you can go back to again and again. Solid fundamentals, brightly and freshly fruit-forward, and exactly what you expect out of a Nebbiolo. Sometimes, with wine, having your expectations so solidly met is exactly what you want.  90 pts   search


RENIERI Brunello di Montalcino 2012 (Tuscany, Italy | $50).  An awesomely powerful and dark Sangiovese that captivates one’s senses from the moment it touches the mouth. A visceral, brooding wine—like a great Al Pacino performance, take your pick—this is the Method actor’s kind of wine. Dark, brambly fruit and rustic character, intense persistence, and massive, showy structure.  95 pts   search


SAN GIOVANNI Orvieto Classico Superiore 2016 (Umbria, Italy | $23).  This delightful Orvieto DOC wine is 100% Grechetto, an iconic white wine grape of central Italy’s Umbria region. The sunny warmth of peach, orange and other citrus just warms the cockles of the heart. Soft minerality and a touch of zest on the solid finish is a welcoming invitation to take the next sip.  91 pts   search


SCHIOPETTO Friulano Collio 2015 (Friuli, Italy | $21).  Chances are, one has infrequent encounters with the white wine from the native northern Italian grape called Friuli, and this is one brief encounter that is unforgettablethe makings of an epic romance with the lovely grape. Gorgeous linearity in structure plus sumptuous roundness on the palate and intensely rich flavor. It’s a farmer’s market of fruit and aromas that burst forth: white peach, golden apple and sweet, exotic spices.  94 pts   search


SCHIOPETTO Pinot Grigio Collio 2015 (Friuli, Italy | $26).  A great Pinot Grigio—and we’ll preface by admitting a bias in believing that a great Pinot Grigio is one of the rarest wines on the planet—has to succeed in achieving dichotomies. It should be: easygoing but never lightweight; fruity but not obnoxious; dry but not expressionless; lean but also lively; and charming but not annoying. The Schiopetto is a great Pinot Grigio.  91 pts   search


SIRO PACENTI Brunello di Montalcino “Pelagrilli” 2012 (Tuscany, Italy | $45).  Bold and juicy as all get-out, ripeness of fruit to a level that deeply satisfies the highest common-denominator, roundness and complexity of mouthfeel that pleases on a primal scale—this is an everyman’s Brunello. Distinct Italian flair and deep character is just the cherry on top. Sensational value considering how high-class this wine is.  95 pts   search


SOLAIA 2013 (Tuscany, Italy | $250).  Needing no introduction, this iconic wine puts the super in Super Tuscan. In 2013, a minimum of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon went into the blend and the rest is primarily Cabernet Franc. It’s a wow-wine, full of rich chocolate, dark cherry, and sweet blackberry notes that makes the whole thing so irresistibly delectable—it’s also extremely sexy and fleshy while sporting beautiful structure for maximum, flat-out bombshell gorgeousness.  98 pts   search


December 9, 2017


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