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


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


We rate the following current releases (in the U.S.) 90 points or higher and recommend these wines 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.

The short reviews we’ve written for each wine are intended to give you a quick essence of the wine—in hoping that less leads you to wanting more. Search links are provided to help you locate these great wines before they become unavailable. Enjoy!




ADAMI Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Vigneto Giardino 2015 (Veneto, Italy | $21).  Italian bubbly with a floral, Chardonnay-like nose that immediately transports you to the soft, creamy, luxurious mousse on the palate that enchants the senses. Lovely bright fruit quality, alluring touch of sweetness and a great sense of balance makes for a quintessential Prosecco with DOCG status. Any day, all days of the week.  91 pts   search


CLOS DE LA BONNETTE Condrieu “Roches d’Arbuel” 2015 (Rhone, France | $50).  100% high-class and exotic Viognier. A very floral nose (white flowers, orange blossom and sweet jasmine) tells you immediately that this is a pretty, quaint, perfumed, feminine and sweet expression of classic Rhone white wine. Rich too, at 14% ABV. There’s no more distinctive Viognier in the world than Condrieu and, relatively speaking, the price is right.  93 pts   search


DÖNNHOFF Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett 2015 (Nahe, Germany | $25).  Always a classic representation of a Nahe region off-dry, slightly sweet Riesling, with its characteristic high minerality and salty quality. The 2015 is very bright and energetic, almost spritzy, with alluringly upfront notes of white peach, honey and lemon.  91 pts   search


LI VELI “Orion” Primitivo 2015 (Puglia, Italy | $13).  Though it’s considered the same grape, Primitivo, a specialty of southern Italy, is nothing like the Zinfandel we know in North America. Silky and soft with no edges, and brightly fruit-forward of dark cherry and strawberry with acidity that refreshes the palate, this is a very pleasant and enlivening everyday, affordable table wine that Italy really knows how to do so well. Drinking this, you feel like an instant local.  90 pts   search 


MARCHESI DI GRESY Dolcetto d’Alba 2013 (Piedmont, Italy | $18).  Dolcetto being a “tavern” red wine of northern Italy, meaning something not to be taken too seriously and meant for everyday enjoyment, this is one with surprising depth. Notes of red cherry, raspberry and pomegranate with a white peppery overtone, an earthy character and pleasing fine tannins on the finish make for a distinguished people’s wine.  91 pts   search


MARCHESI DI GRESY Barbera d’Asti 2014 (Piedmont, Italy | $19).  Juicy and dense on the mid-palate, this is classic Barbera done fresh, bright and joyous—nice acidity balancing the dark and fulsome fruit notes of blackberry, dark cherry and plum. So approachable a red wine for easy, everyday drinking but versatile enough for a classy affair. A Barbera with DOCG status such as this is something to know and get intimate with.  91 pts   search  


MARCHESI DI GRESY Barbaresco Martinenga 2012 (Piedmont, Italy | $48).  Proving that it has mastered the three classic red grapes of Piedmont—Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo with this spectacular Barbaresco for the money—di Gresy is clearly a winery that ought to be on everyone’s lips (they make an excellent Moscato as well). A very complete and distinctive Barbaresco—notes ranging from Maraschino cherry to root beer, marzipan, rhubarb, rose and violets—there’s just tons of personality here. And good heritage too, as the grapes come from the Martinenga, one of the historical vineyards of the region. Lovely stuff.  93 pts   search


SANDRONE Le Vigne Barolo 2012 (Piedmont, Italy | $130).  Like a masterfully constructed Haydn string quartet, renowned winemaker Luciano Sandrone crafts a wondrous Barolo here that just might be peerless in its price range—unmatched in elegance of structure and in the level of easy enjoyment it brings to the table. Made from all family-owned vineyards, there’s an artist’s personal touch here that brings out the prettiness of the wine’s bright red fruit character which glides along fabulously silky tannins and finishes so succulent and lengthy.  95 pts   search


SANDRONE Cannubi Boschis Barolo 2012 (Piedmont, Italy | $145).  Fleshy like Jane Fonda in Barbarella, this is super-rich and bold Barolo that envelopes the mouth with its round, broad and viscous earthy flavors of dark strawberry, dark cherry and red licorice. Miraculously, though it has its racy side, the wine—derived from one of the Grand Cru vineyards of Piedmont, the Cannubi—manages to reach the supreme heights of elegance and class. For all of its complexity and depth of character, inarguably one of the great Barolos of Italy.  97 pts   search


SANT’ANTONIO Campo dei Gigli Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 (Veneto, Italy | $65).  The very deep, dark depths of Amarone red wine, a specialty of the northern region of Veneto, is beautifully captured in this single-vineyard Amarone from Tenuta Sant’Antonio. The umami on the nose of aged, ripe black and red cherries, soy and red licorice transitions into rich, vibrant fruit flavor that has captivating freshness and acidity. Distinctive and extremely quaffable while craftily avoiding ever being overbearing. Hovering around 16% ABV, a wine ideal for after a meal (where has the art of drinking wine after a meal gone?)   94 pts   search


SPREITZER Estate Riesling Trocken 2015 (Rheingau, Germany | $16).  From vines 10-20 years old, a fabulous, and fabulously priced, dry Riesling with nice grip on the palate and sumptuous flavors of citrus and stone fruit. Well-focused and integrated—an impressively complete and distinct wine for the money.  90 pts   search


SPREITZER Muschelkalk Riesling Trocken 2015 (Rheingau, Germany | $20).  “Muschelkalk” is the name of the distinctive limestone-rich, shell-embedded soil that forms this quietly opulent, sensuous Riesling. Soft, silky and structured with succulent expression of fruit. Irresistible.  91 pts   search


SPREITZER Oestricher Lenchen “303” Riesling Spatlese 2015 (Rheingau, Germany | $46).  Unbelievably beautiful expression of sweet Riesling in a great vintage for Germany. With its sensuously sexy texture, great structure, and rich aromatics of yellow and white flowers, stone fruit, orange oil and bee pollen, the wine draws you in to its many charms. Rich, fresh, vibrant and alive. One of the best wines of the year.  95 pts   search




CATENA ZAPATA “White Bones” Adrianna Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 (Mendoza, Argentina | $110).  Living proof why Chardonnay can be the most profound wine on earth. From the moment it touches the palate, in that split second, everything makes sense—it’s an epiphany. Gorgeous, complete and epically lengthy, this is at once an extraordinarily crafted and God-given wine: full-bodied, focused and driven, with expansive notes of honey, apricot, lemon and wax and endowed with crystalline structure—all of which throws you deep into its mystery. Beauty that words can’t explain.  100 pts   search


FELIPE STAITI “Vertigo” 2012 (Valle de Uco, Argentina | $30).  A blend of Malbec and Syrah, this is a rockin’ wine from a rockstar Argentinean winemaker, Marcelo Pelleriti. Intense flavor of very dark blackberries, for the price, this is rather mind-blowingly powerful wine with a great sense of place and a great sense of time, which is now. Deliciously rich and concentrated yet pointedly focused, there’s a ton of personality here that screams out like a screeching electric guitar.  93 pts   search


LAPOSTOLLE Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Valle de Colchagua, Chile | $22).  Darkly tannic, powerful and intense with notes of black fruit, licorice and smoke, this single-vineyard Chilean Cab has been one of the ambassador wines for the country and makes a most convincing case for why everyone should be drinking great Chilean Cab now. Price point, depth, purity—unbeatable.  93 pts   search


MELIPAL Malbec 2014 (Mendoza, Argentina | $17).  From a small, very contemporary, boutique bodega in Lujan de Cuyo comes a terrific Malbec that deserves much wider distribution in the U.S. With half of the grapes for this wine coming from vines dating back to 1923, this is a terroir-driven Malbec that pushes the handcrafted aesthetic to the hilt. Dark-toned, forceful flavors of boysenberry and blackberry, an accent of black peppercorn, a hint of minerality, and textural chalkiness—very authentic stuff.  91 pts   search


PENFOLDS Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2014 (South Australia | $33).  Brilliant wine from a great Aussie name. The clarity of this 100% Shiraz/Syrah is stunning—and so fresh and generous, with silkily sexy mouthfeel and a very pretty bouquet of violets, Bing cherries and plum. American oak is used here, a key aspect to the wine’s great character that sets itself apart from many Shirazes in this price range.  92 pts   search


PENFOLDS St. Henri Shiraz 2013 (South Australia | $100).  One of the flagship Shirazes for the storied winery and, we think, one of the flagship Shirazes for Australia. This is a very special wine, offering the ultimate in elegance and class. So generous and velvety on the palate with pristine, fine tannins and an abundance of dark fruit character—dark cherry, boysenberry jam, and cassis with a prominent note of spice. What gives the wine its special character is a sense of drive and focus that propels forward amidst all the lushness. Big wow factor here.  96 pts   search


PIEDRA NEGRA Malbec Reserve 2015 (Valle de Uco, Argentina | $19).  For a taste of what two French brothers with a storied winemaking family name can do with a French-native grape that’s been grown on foreign land that sits on the other end of the Atlantic Ocean, this Reserve Malbec is not only an excellent example but also an excellent value. Dense and ripe but well controlled, there’s notes of herbs and dried fruit as well as nice acidity to add further intrigue.  90 pts   search


SEÑA 2014 (Aconcagua Valley, Chile | $130).  An iconic wine of Chile and one that emanates prestige. The blend of Cabernet, Carmenere, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot tells you what you need to know about what this historically and culturally rich republic of South America is capable of producing. It’s an exciting red blend and rather breathtaking in its finesse. With deep aromas and rich concentration of black and blue fruit, additional red floral notes, strikingly beautiful acidity and supremely elegant structure—the wine is a journey into the heart of Chile.  97 pts   search


SUSANA BALBO Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Mendoza, Argentina | $20).  Supple and ripe with dark undertones of espresso and dark chocolate, and wonderfully approachable and way high on the drinkability factor, this is one of hugest values on the market for Cab. Susana Balbo is the Wonder Woman of Argentinean winemakers, a superhero first. Unbeatable value from a historically significant South American winery.  91 pts   search


SUSANA BALBO Nosotros Malbec 2011 (Valle de Uco, Argentina | $100).  With only 10 barrels made, and made of only the finest barrels of the vintage, this Malbec represents the peak of the winemaker and her team’s craft. It’s stunning in its finesse and refinement. From vineyards of the highest altitude in the Uco Valley, the fruit character is simply beautiful, and supreme balance is achieved in the final wine. Much credit goes to the winery for holding back release and giving the wine plenty of time to develop in the bottle. An immense sense of integrity informs every aspect of this wine—one of Argentina’s greatest Malbecs.  97 pts   search


VIÑA COBOS Bramare Marchiori Vineyard Malbec 2013 (Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina | $90).  Exquisite Malbec from renowned American winemaker Paul Hobbs, best known for prestigious Cabs and Pinots from the opposite hemisphere. Is there a Western touch to the iconic wine of South America? Perhaps, and those qualities we most readily identify with North American wine—super smooth, velvety texture, full-bodied fruit forwardness (of red and dark berries), and opulent aromatics—is what makes this Malbec so palatable and pleasurable.  95 pts   search




BUONCRISTIANI O.P.C. 2013 (Napa, California | $40).  Not to be confused by any stretch with the Naughty By Nature classic of 1991, “O.P.P.,” Ol’ Pa’s Cuvee (O.P.C.) exhibits its own R&B groove with one of the more unique blends you’ll find in Napa Valley—of 38% Cab, 30% Syrah, 17% Malbec and 15% Merlot—along with harmonious, concentrated flavors of boysenberry, black cherry and rhubarb.  A red blend that has gotten so good since the last vintage we tasted, the 2010. We’re down with O.P.C.!  93 pts   search


DOMINUS 2014 (Napa, California | $250).  Believe this not-so-fake news: if America had a First Growth classification, Dominus would be worthy—it’s elevated price tag fully justified and, honestly, not ridiculous considering the price of First Growths out there. Winemaker Christian Moueix is on a serious streak of vintages, and his 2014 is blessed with a dusky nose and a vibrant palate that exhibits wonderful structure and depth of flavor of currants with a note of sage. Ethereal, fine tannins… bliss.  98-99 pts   search


GAINEY Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (Santa Barbara, California | $19).  A quintessential California Central Coast varietal wine, and also a perfect summer wine. Picture yourself poolside, the mercury pushing 90, but you’re staying cool with this glass of crisp and refreshing Sauv Blanc that exhibits notes of pear and melon, along with a variety of citrus fruits. The gentle and rounded while vibrant mouthfeel is distinctively memorable—something that stays with you. A hidden gem among the many wine varieties that flourish in the Santa Barbara winegrowing region.  92 pts   search


PAHLMEYER Chardonnay 2014 (Napa, California | $79).  Opulent, luxurious, almost syrupy mouthfeel with concentrated tropical fruit flavors and faint oak—the raciness and muscularity of a Ferrari but tempered with the elegance of a Bentley. Super high-end Chardonnay is a tough business, and the Pahlmeyer, one of the most popular Chards in the super-premium category, vintage in and vintage out, gives you a reason to believe. Remains one of the greatest American Chardonnays. An icon.  96 pts   search


QUINTESSA 2013 (Napa, California | $195).  Provocative and alluring, classic Cabernet Sauvignon blend, dominated by dark fruit and perfectly balanced tannins—and then there’s that unrelenting, luxurious finish that just won’t stop. A superlative wine from a superlative Napa vintage, and among the best ever produced by this landmark Napa winery—reminding us again why the name Quintessa represents the essence of Napa Valley.  98 pts   search


July 15, 2017


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