The below list is a selection of the top wines tasted over the past 12 months and reviewed at JebDunnuck.com. The selection is based on a combination of quality, value, availability, and a little bit of Wow Factor. It was made by scrolling through thousands of reviews and painstakingly cutting the list to these 100 wines.

The list is not a grouping of the top-rated new releases and contains wines – and producers – who merit special attention. While we try to select wines currently available in the market, that’s not always possible. Every producer on this list is worth your time and money. If a wine on this list is not available, by all means, try a different wine from the same producer. At a minimum, keep that producer on your radar for the future. Prices are either from release prices from the estates or pulled from average retail prices in the United States. As with all Top 100 lists, this is an entirely subjective endeavor and almost every wine on this list could be replaced with a different wine. Nevertheless, these are the most exciting wines at JebDunnuck.com for 2021!

The full Top 100 list is below. Click on the “+” beside the wine name to read the full review.

RANK WINE PRICE SCORE
1 2018 Chateau Leoville Poyferre + Every bit as good as the 2009, and I think better than the 2010 and 2016, the 2018 Château Léoville Poyferré is a total thrill that tops out my scale. Based on 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, its dense purple hue is followed by an incredible, full-bodied monster of a wine that, despite massive amounts of fruit, tannins, and extract, still stays weightless and ethereal, with incredible purity. Loaded with notions of crème de cassis, spring flowers, tobacco, violets, charcoal, and cedar pencil, it’s extraordinarily concentrated, flawlessly balanced, and has a finish that won’t quit. This is a legendary wine in the making. Give bottles 7-8 years, a decade would be even better, and it will keep for 40-50 years. Hats off to the Cuvelier family for another extraordinary wine! $140 100
2 2019 Domaine De La Janasse Chateauneuf Du Pape Cuvee Chaupin + I was able to taste the 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvée Chaupin on two occasions, rating it one point higher on one of those as well. Incredible notes of red and black fruits, violets, scorched earth, ground pepper, and Provençal garrigue notes define the nose, and it’s a darker, richer, slightly more powerful wine than usual, while still showing the inherent elegance and finesse this cuvée always shows. Give bottles 2-3 years and enjoy over the following 15-20. Don’t miss it! $80 98+
3 2018 Dominus Cabernet Sauvignon + The flagship 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon checks in as 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot brought up in 40% new French oak. With an essence of Cabernet-like character in its darker currants, green tobacco, cedar, graphite, and floral aromas and flavors, this gorgeous wine is full-bodied and has bright yet integrated acidity, polished tannins, and a great, great finish. It’s just gorgeously put together and a magical, flawless wine. It’s going to take a decade to hit maturity but will evolve for 40-50 years in cold cellars. It is as good as it gets in classic, age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon! $270 100
4 2019 Clos Du Mont-Olivet Chateauneuf Du Pape La Cuvée Du Papet + The deeper hued 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape La Cuvée Du Papet checks in as a blend of 75% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah that saw plenty of stems and aging mostly in foudre, with a small part in demi-muids and barrique. Straight-up sensational notes of blackcurrants, ground pepper, garrigue, leather, and graphite emerge from the glass, and it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a concentrated, dense, powerful mouthfeel, building tannins, and a brilliant finish. It’s built for the long haul, and along with the 2016, it’s one of the finest wines I’ve tasted from this talented family. Hide bottles for 7-8 years and enjoy over the following 20-25+.Unfortunately, no 2020 reds were submitted for this report, but the 2019s here are both brilliant wines. If classic, old-school, yet clean and pure Châteauneuf is your thing, it doesn’t get much better than the 2019 Cuvée du Papet, and it’s going to be a real treat comparing the 2019 and 2016 over the coming 20 to 30 years. $90 99
5 2019 Tensley Syrah Colson Canyon + A consistent winner in every vintage, especially now that the site is owned by Tensley, the 2019 Syrah Colson Canyon boasts a deep, inky hue as well as backward, primary blue fruits, charcoal, and ground pepper-like aromas and flavors. This big, rich, full-bodied, thrilling Syrah is more seamless and elegant than the 2018 was at this stage, but it’s certainly in the same ballpark. It will keep for 10-15 years if you’re so inclined. This is one of the larger production cuvées from Tensley, and it saw 15% stems and 20% new French oak. $45 96
6 2019 Clos Des Papes Chateauneuf Du Pape + Tasted out of bottle, the 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape is a stunning example of this estate as well as the vintage. Gorgeous kirsch, flowery incense, spice box, and garrigue-like notes define the nose, and it hits the palate with classic Clos des Papes elegance and finesse backed up by a great mid-palate, fabulous concentration, and a monster of a finish. Don’t miss this beauty. It can be enjoyed today with incredible pleasure or cellared for two decades. $115 98
7 2018 Chateau Larcis Ducasse + The 2018 Château Larcis Ducasse checks in as 89% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc that comes from a gorgeous hillside terroir on the Côte Pavie, located between Château Pavie and Château Bellefont-Belcier. Aged 18 months in 60% new barrels, it offers a truly sensational bouquet of ripe blackcurrants, espresso roast, scorched earth, bloody meat, chocolate, iron, and bouquet garni. A massive, super-rich Saint-Emilion with a dense, concentrated, layered mouthfeel, it has building yet sweet tannins and incredible purity of fruit. Reminding me of the 2005 shortly after release, this heavenly juice offers astonishing richness and depth while staying flawlessly balanced and elegant. Sadly, there are less than 3,000 cases produced, but this monumental, legendary wine won’t hit maturity for a good 8-10 years and will have 40-50 years of longevity if well stored. Hats off to Nicolas Thienpont and consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt for producing one of the wines of the vintage as well as one of the greatest young Bordeaux I’ve ever tasted. $100 100
8 2018 Memento Mori Cabernet Sauvignon + Just about pure perfection in a glass, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon checks in as 100% varietal sourced from top sites including Dr. Crane, Las Piedras, Weitz, Oakville Ranch, and Vine Hill. This deep purple/blue-hued beauty boasts a stunning bouquet of pure crème de cassis and blackberry fruits as well as complex forest floor, graphite, chocolate, and spicy oak. Full-bodied, rich, sexy, yet incredibly elegant and seamless on the palate, this is pure Napa Valley magic that has appeal even today yet the class to evolve for 30 years in cold cellars. $225 99
9 2016 Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino + The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino is lifted with aromatics of soft medicinal herbs, fresh soil, cherry fruit, and dried flowers. The palate is fresh with black cherry fruit, tea leaf, orange peel, and mineral-rich, stony earth. There is well-integrated structure, with crispness, fresh acidity, and a beautifully long finish. This is one of my favorite wines of the vintage for its classic structure, high complexity, and nuanced, balanced style. Drink 2025-2042.Le Chiuse is a small 6-hectare estate that was split off from the Biondi-Santi estate in 1993, when it was inherited by Simonetta Valiani, the great granddaughter of Ferruccio Biondi-Santi, who owns the property today. Le Chiuse is a certified organic estate. $125 100
10 2018 Andrew Will Sorella + The flagship from this great estate is the 2018 Sorella, a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated blend (8% each of Cabernet Franc and Merlot and the 4% Petit Verdot) that spent the same 22 months in 35% new French oak. Gorgeous crème de cassis, tobacco leaf, lead pencil, and chocolate define the bouquet, and it’s medium to full-bodied, flawlessly balanced, and has a great, great finish. A classically styled, structured, age-worthy beauty, it will benefit from 4-5 years of bottle age and have 2-3 decades of overall longevity. Trust me, this will pass undetected in a blind lineup of top Bordeaux.This is another brilliant lineup of wines from Andrew Will. As I’ve written in the past, readers looking for classic, age-worthy Bordeaux blend can’t go wrong with these. $89 97+
11 2019 Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils Chateauneuf Du Pape Cuvee De Mon Aieul + One of the top handful of wines in the vintage, the 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvée De Mon Aïeul is all Grenache, from the different terroirs (one sand, one clay, and one limestone) that was 50% destemmed and aged all in older demi-muids. Reminding me of the 2007 with its incredible perfume of ripe black raspberries, strawberries, flowery incense, peppery and Provençal garrigue, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a round, expansive texture, gorgeous tannins, and a blockbuster of a finish. A wine of incredibly purity, precision, and elegance, yet also with power and opulence, this sensational effort is in need of 3-4 years of bottle age and will keep for two decades. $90 98+
12 2018 Chateau Leoville Barton + This estate has been on fire in recent vintages, and the 2018 Château Léoville Barton is up there with the best of them. Based on 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot that was brought up in 60% new French oak, this classic, flawlessly balanced, straight-up awesome Saint-Julien has loads of cassis and mulberry fruits as well as notes of freshly sharpened pencils, leafy tobacco, chocolate, and earth. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and concentrated on the palate, it has building tannins and healthy acidity, yet the fruit is pure, perfectly ripe, and wonderfully integrated with all the wine’s components. As is normal with this cuvée, it closes down with extended air and is going to take a solid 8-10 years of bottle age to reach the early stages of maturity. It’s going to evolve for 30-40 years in cold cellars. $130 97
13 2019 Domaine La Barroche Châteauneuf Du Pape Pure + The 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Pure is the standard 100% Grenache, from a single parcel of old vines located at the intersection of the Grand Pierre, Rayas, and Pointu lieux-dits, that was brought up all in a single foudre. Coming from sandy, cooler soils, it offers a surprisingly dark purple hue to go with a stunning nose of black cherry liqueur, wild strawberries, roasted herbs, licorice, graphite, and chalky minerality. Straight-up stunning, with full-bodied richness and a voluptuous, seamless texture carrying awesome tannins and a monster of a finish, this stunning Grenache brings classic power and richness with no sensation of weight or heaviness. It reminds me of the 2005 and is a sensational Châteauneuf du Pape that will benefit from 4-5 years of bottle age and keep for two decades. Hats off (again) to the genius of the young Julien Barrot!Unfortunately, no 2020s were submitted to my tasting, but as I hope these reviews show, the 2019s from this address are some of the finest out there. $150 100
14 2018 Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion + The 2018 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion is a rock star of a wine and is based on a unique blend of 37% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 29% Merlot that was brought up in 80% new French oak. Offering a deep ruby/purple color as well as a thrilling bouquet of blackcurrants, smoked tobacco, chocolate, violets, damp earth, and truffle, it hits the palate with a full-bodied yet almost understated, building style that carries ripe, supple tannins, gorgeous amounts of smoky black fruits, and an endearing, layered, multi-dimensional texture that keeps you coming back to the glass. A dead ringer for a great vintage of Haut-Brion, it is far from unapproachable today yet needs 7-8 years of bottle age for the fireworks to develop and will have 50-years or more of longevity! Hats off to Guillaume Pouthier for a magical, seamless, singular beauty! $140 100
15 2018 Schrader Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard CCS + Just pure gold, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard CCS is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from one of California’s greatest terroirs, that was brought up in 100% new French oak. This dense purple-colored effort has a magical bouquet of pure crème de cassis, smoke tobacco, white flowers, crushed stone, truffle, and hints of chocolate. Possessing full-bodied richness, this beauty builds incrementally on the palate, showing lots of ripe, polished tannins, no hard edges, and a rare mix of power, structure, and elegance that’s something to behold. Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, or red wine for that matter, just doesn’t get any better. Hats off to winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown for yet another majestic, singular wine that’s as good as it gets. $430 100
16 2019 Domaine Les Cailloux Chateauneuf Du Pape + The 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape is flat-out brilliant, and readers looking for an incredible wine that will drink well for upwards of two decades should back up the truck on this one. Incredible black cherry, Provençal garrigue, pepper, and licorice notes give way to a full-bodied, perfectly balanced, seamless 2019 with ripe tannins, no hard edges, and a great, great finish. You could safely put this up with the crème de la crème in a blind tasting and it would do just fine. The blend is 70% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 12% Syrah, and the rest Cinsault, aged mostly in concrete tank, with 12% brought up in old barrels. $50 95
17 2018 Chateau Rauzan-Segla + Reminding me of the 2016, the 2018 Château Rauzan-Segla reveals this beautifully fresh, complex bouquet that still has serious richness and depth. Based on 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, raised in 65% new barrels, it offers a dense purple hue to go with gorgeous notes of blackcurrants, spring flowers, cigar wrapper, and sandalwood. A quintessential Margaux with its spicy, complex, floral character, it’s full-bodied and has a supple, elegant texture, no hard edges, a solid spine of acidity, and a great, great finish. This is a brilliant, heavenly 2018 to enjoy over the coming 30 years or more. $165 99
18 2018 Chateau Canon + The Grand Vin is the 2018 Château Canon, which is based on 72% Merlot and 28% Cabernet Franc brought up in 52% new French oak. Its incredible bouquet delivers richness paired with amazing freshness and precision, offering loads of crème de cassis and darker berry fruits intermixed with classic Saint-Emilion chalky minerality, graphite, scorched earth, and spring flowers. Gorgeous on the palate as well, with medium to full-bodied richness, ultra-fine tannins, flawless balance, and again, this wonderful sense of freshness paired with ample richness, it needs 4-5 years of bottle age and will evolve for 30+ years. The 2009 and 2015 are still my favorite vintages of this wine, but this is up there with the best of them. $130 98
19 2019 Roger Sabon Chateauneuf Du Pape Prestige + Slightly more straight, focused, and elegant, the 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Prestige is a brilliant 2019 in every way. Pure blackberries, black cherries, graphite, crushed stone, and peppery herb notes define the nose, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with remarkable purity and a blockbuster of a finish. This is one classy, seamless, elegant Châteauneuf du Pape that will benefit from 4-5 years of bottle age and have 25 years of overall longevity. $72 96
20 2018 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte + The 2018 Château Smith Haut Lafitte is based on 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, and the balance Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, all of which was brought up in 60% new French oak. Its dense purple color is followed by an incredible perfume of blackcurrants, blueberries, camphor, scorched earth, chocolate, and tobacco. It’s young and unevolved, yet the purity is off the charts, and it slowly gives up more spice and floral notes with time in the glass. Hitting the palate with full-bodied richness, it’s an incredibly concentrated, powerful wine that has plenty of baby fat covering serious amounts of underlying structure and tannins. It has some up-front appeal from an educational standpoint, yet really needs a decade of bottle age and is going to keep for 30-40 years in cold cellars. It comes closest in my mind to a mix of the 2010 and 2016. $150 99
21 2018 Chateau Clinet + Including slightly more Cabernet Sauvignon than usual, the 2018 Château Clinet is 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon that was brought up in 75% new French oak. One of the superstars of the vintage, it has incredible elegance and finesse as well as gorgeous richness and depth. Notes of cassis and truffly dark fruits as well as tobacco, damp earth, chocolate, and lead pencil shavings emerge from the glass, and it’s full-bodied, with a seamless, multi-dimensional texture, gorgeous tannins, and a great, great finish. It already offers incredible pleasure, but it won’t hit maturity for another 5-7 years and should evolve for 30 years or more. This magical wine is in the same league as the 2015 and 2016, and drinking these beauties over the coming decades will be an incredible treat. $110 99
22 2018 Chateau Laroque + This estate is in a cool, limestone terroir on the eastern side of Saint- Emilion, and it’s been firing on all cylinders over the past decade, in no small part due to the talented director, David Suire. The 2018 Château Laroque checks in as almost all Merlot (there is 3% Cabernet Franc) that comes from an incredibly strict selection of just 41% of the total production. Brought up in a mix of new and used barrels, it’s more about finesse than power, offering a gorgeous perfume of ripe black cherries, mulberries, cassis, violets, spring flowers, and chalky minerality. Medium to full-bodied, pure, and incredibly elegant on the palate, it builds nicely with time in the glass, has ultra-fine tannins, flawlessly integrated tannins, acidity and fruit, and a great finish. It’s as classy as they come. Approachable today with a decant, it will drink nicely for 20 years or more. Readers looking for an impeccably made, classic, high-quality Saint-Emilion that doesn’t break the bank should back up the truck for this beauty. $40 96
23 2018 Caterwaul Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley + I was able to taste three wines from 2018 from Caterwaul, all made by Thomas Rivers Brown. The appellation 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley is a winner, offering classic Cabernet notes of ripe dark fruits, tobacco, chocolate, and candied violets. Rich and full-bodied, it has a light, elegant texture, terrific tannins, and a great finish. I suspect it’s a knock-it-out-of-the-park value and it should evolve for a solid 15 years. $65 94
24 2019 Chateau De Beaucastel Chateauneuf Du Pape + The 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape is the usual blend of roughly 30% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise, and the rest a mix of permitted varieties that was brought up in foudre. It offers a vivid ruby/purple hue as well as stunning aromatics of blueberries, violets, peppered beef, leather, and spring flowers. Medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced, and elegant, it has just a kiss of classic Beaucastel wild, sauvage nuances, ripe, silky tannins, and a great finish. Give bottles 4-5 years of bottle age and enjoy over the following two decades.As usual, I was able to taste the Perrin family’s Gigondas releases during my visit to Château de Beaucastel, and have included those releases here as well. This estate continues to fashion a classic, age-worthy style of wine, largely based on Mourvèdre. Looking at the latest releases reviewed here, the 2020s show the pure, fresh, yet still nicely concentrated style of the vintage. The 2020 whites are brilliant, with slightly cooler, more vibrant profiles, which is the style of the vintage. As to the reds, both 2020 and 2019 are unquestionably brilliant vintages here, with the nod I think going to the 2019s. $95 96+
25 2018 Cadence Camerata + Moving to the reserve wines, the 2018 Camerata checks in 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 9% Cabernet Franc that saw a longer élevage, spending 23 months in 50% new French oak. Incredible notes of blackcurrants, black olives, tobacco, damp earth, and sous bois define the bouquet, and it’s a magical, full-bodied, incredibly balanced Cabernet with ripe, silky tannins, no hard edges, and a monster of a finish. As with the Bel Canto, it’s one of the finest wines I’ve ever tasted from this estate.This is easily the finest set of releases I’ve tasted from winemaker Ben Smith and he’s hit a home run in 2018. As always, these are classic Bordeaux blends from Red Mountain, yet I was blown away by the quality of the tannins as well as the seamless, elegant textures Smith was able to build into his wines. Don’t miss these beauties! $60 98
26 2019 Domaine Lafage Cuvee Nicolas + All Grenache brought up in demi–muids and aged on lees for 8 months, the medium ruby/purple hued color of the 2019 Cuvée Nicolas is followed by a killer bouquet of kirsch liqueur, savory spices, cured meats, and peppery garrigue. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and gorgeously textured, it has wonderful richness with no sensation of weight. $19 95
27 2018 Chateau Montrose + A full-bodied powerhouse as well as a perfect wine, the 2018 Château Montrose is a final blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Franc that was raised in 60% new French oak. Boasting a deep purple hue as well as awesome levels of crème de cassis and smoky blackberry fruits and notes of tobacco, lead pencil, scorched earth, and chocolate, it’s deep, opulent, and incredibly concentrated on the palate, with no shortage of mid-palate depth, tannins, or length. It reminds me a little of a fresher version of the 2003, although there’s more Cabernet Sauvignon in 2018 as well as less Merlot. It has that classic Montrose minerality and backward, mineral-laced style, yet I suspect this will be drinkable in just 5-6 years and should evolve into a modern-day legend from this terroir. $200 100
28 2019 Domaine Giraud Chateauneuf Du Pape Les Grenaches De Pierre + The 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Les Grenaches De Pierre is a step up and has a wonderfully fresh, pure character as well as full-bodied aromas and flavors of black raspberries, morello cherries, new leather, herbes de Provence, and loamy earth. Pure, perfumed, and already complex, with incredible elegance, it’s another gorgeous wine from this estate that can be enjoyed any time over the coming 15 to 20 years.One of my favorite estates in the world (and I put my money where my mouth is), Domaine Giraud has been impeccably run since 2001 by Marie Giraud, with consulting advice from Philippe Cambie. The style here is a mix of traditional and progressive winemaking, with the Grenache almost always brought up in tank and the Syrah in barrel. The Les Gallimardes cuvée comes from a tiny parcel of very old vines in the southern part of the appellation, and it’s always a more classic, Provençal, sexy wine. The Les Grenaches de Pierre comes from more sandy soils, and it’s always slightly more refined and elegant, yet it rarely, if ever, lacks for richness and depth. In addition to the terrific reds, the whites from this address are consistently outstanding. $135 97
29 2016 Pietroso Brunello Di Montalcino  + The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino is rich in aromatics of black raspberry, menthol, sage, and lavender. It is fruit forward upfront, with pure cherry fruit, balsamic, and black tea with classically structured tannins and acidity that lifts off the palate and a long finish. It was aged for 6 months in tonneaux followed by two years in large barrels. Cellar 2-4 years and enjoy 2024-2036. $80 98+
30 2018 Chateau Phelan Segur + The flagship 2018 Château Phélan Ségur is a beauty based on 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Merlot. This was a great vintage for the Médoc, and the 2018 reveals a dense purple hue to go with powerful notes of blackcurrants, iron, smoked tobacco, chocolate, and earth. Rich, full-bodied, and concentrated, it has beautiful tannins, remarkable purity of fruit, and just does everything right. It has some up-front appeal today (no doubt due to the high Merlot content), yet it builds with time in the glass and shows more and more structure with air. It deserves 5-6 years of bottle age and will keep for 20-25. It’s every bit as good as the 2016, if not better. $80 95
31 2019 Domaine De La Charbonniere Chateauneuf Du Pape Cuvee Vieilles Vignes + The 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvée Vieilles Vignes (90% Grenache and 10% Mourvèdre) comes all from the stony, pebbly soils of La Crau and was brought up in tank and demi-muids. Ripe black cherry fruits, iodine, ground pepper, and bloody, meaty nuances all emerge on the nose, and it’s full-bodied, with a seamless, multi-dimensional texture, ultra-fine tannins, and a rock star of a finish. It’s just a brilliant, elegant, pure, lengthy wine that does everything right. Drink this classic, traditional, structured wine over the coming two decades.While I’ve always loved the wines of Domaine de la Charbonnière, recent vintages are on another level, and I’d unquestionably put the domaine up with the crème de la crème of the appellation today. Run by the Maret family, with consulting advice from Philippe Cambie, Domaine de La Charbonnière produces four cuvées: the Tradition, Mourre des Perdrix, Vieilles Vignes, and the Les Hautes Brusquières. The traditional cuvée comes from all the estate’s holdings and is typically a blend of 70% Grenache and 15% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre. It’s mostly destemmed and brought up in older barrels and stainless steel. It’s certain a terrific introduction into the style of the estate. The Mourre des Perdrix comes from more sandy soils just behind the estate and is the same blend as the classic cuvée. This cuvée is always the most seamless and elegant in the lineup. The Vieilles Vignes comes from the oldest vines of the estate and the pebbly soils of the La Crau lieu-dit. Based on 95% Grenache or more, with the balance Mourvèdre, it’s always the most structured, tannic, and masculine of the three special cuvées. Lastly, the Les Hautes Brusquières comes from the Brusquières plateau in the northern portion of the appellation and is a 60/40 split of Grenache and Syrah that’s destemmed and aged in a mix of foudre and barrels. This cuvée is generally the most opulent and full-bodied in the lineup (no doubt due to its large Syrah component), and while approachable in its youth, it’s capable of keeping for upward of two decades. $94 97
32 2019 Domaine Saint Prefert Chateauneuf Du Pape Collection Charles Giraud + The 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Collection Charles Giraud includes a big chunk of Mourvèdre and is 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvèdre that was partially destemmed and brought up in demi-muids. If offers a deep ruby/plum color as well as a rich, savory, complex bouquet of black raspberries, cassis, toasted spice, cured meats, and graphite. The Mourvèdre really shows in this beauty, and it’s full-bodied, concentrated, and structured, yet never loses its seamless, flawlessly balanced profile. It’s going to need 4-5 years of bottle age but will have 20-25 years of ultimate longevity. It’s another thrilling wine from this estate.These will be the last wines under the Domaine Saint-Préfert label; going forward, the wines will be under the Domaine Isabel Ferrando label. In addition, both special cuvées of Reserve Auguste Favier and Collection Charles Giraud will be discontinued in favor of a single Châteauneuf du Pape cuvée (à la Clos des Papes) that will include all the estate terroirs. $140 99
33 2018 Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot + This estate makes an incredibly classic, elegant Saint-Emilion. The 2018 Château Beau-Séjour Bécot is based on 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon that was brought up in 65% new French oak. Coming from a beautiful terroir on the upper plateau, it reveals a deep purple/ruby color as well as perfumed cassis and mulberry fruits intermixed with ample spring flowers, chalky minerality, violets, and graphite. Medium to full-bodied and nicely concentrated on the palate, it has terrific mid-palate depth, flawless balance, background oak, and polished yet significant tannins. If you want to know what limestone soil gives to a wine, try this! It has the polish and balance to offer pleasure today, yet the cellar will be your friend. This warrants 5-7 years of bottle age and will have 30+ years of prime drinking. $65 96+
34 2018 Chateau Belair-Monange + An incredible expression of Merlot grown on limestone soils, the 2018 Château Belair-Monange (90/10 Merlot and Cabernet Franc) sports a dense purple hue as well as powerful notes of blackcurrants, kirsch liqueur, flowery incense, chalky minerality, and white truffle. Rich, full-bodied, and beautifully concentrated, it’s a serious 2018 offering integrated oak, ripe yet building tannins, and one hell of a great finish. The finest vintage of this cuvée I’ve tasted, it’s a wine to seek out and hide in the cellar for a good 5-7 years. It’s going to evolve for 30-40 years. $175 98
35 2016 Casanova Di Neri Brunello Di Montalcino White Label + The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino has compelling aromatics of cherry liqueur, sweet licorice, cedar, and forested earth. The palate is crystalline and full-bodied, with red plum skin and warming spice. There is a lot to love here, as this wine casts a large net for its versatility. Enjoy some now and lay some down, this is a great value. Drink 2021-2026 $60 95
36 2018 Shafer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon One Point Five + The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon One Point Five (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) might be the finest vintage to date. Dense purple-hued, with a thrilling nose of blue and black fruits as well as graphite and crushed stone, it’s medium to full-bodied and has a wonderfully pure, elegant texture, ample underlying tannins, and a great finish. It shows the more focused, elegant, yet structured style of the vintage to a T. $95 95
37 2018 Jada Vineyard Passing By + The 2018 Passing By is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 11% Petit Verdot and 7% Syrah. More black fruits, asphalt, tobacco, and earth emerge from the glass, and it’s one of the more overtly powerful, full-bodied, dense wines in the lineup. It’s terrific, but do your best to hide bottles for 3-4 years.Winemaker Joshua Hard, along with top Napa consultant Tony Biagi, continues to go from strength to strength and it seems as if every vintage is the finest to date. The 2018s reviewed for this report are brilliant (I reviewed some 2018s last year as well) and the 2019s might be a step up. No shrinking violets, these are big, rich wines, yet the balance is spot on, the wines show remarkable purity of fruit, and I’d certainly be happy to drink any of them. $85 96
38 2019 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills + Gorgeous kirsch and framboise fruits as well as spice and dried flower notes all emerge from the 2019 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills. It’s a fresher, more elegant example from this great estate, with a solid spine of acidity, beautiful balance, and a great, great finish. It’s brilliant today but will be even better with another year of bottle age and keep for at least 10-15 years in cold cellars. $40 94
39 2018 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon + The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, which always includes a splash of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, is incredible juice and a wine readers should seek out. Showing the quality and style of the vintage beautifully, it offers a captivating bouquet of crème de cassis, unsmoked tobacco, bouquet garni, and violets, with just a touch of foresty, earthy notes in the background. Aged 22 months in barrel (with a small amount in amphora), it’s full-bodied and perfectly balanced, with integrated acidity and a great finish. I love this wine and don’t make the mistake of overlooking this while only focusing on the Maya cuvee. $270 97
40 2018 Two Vintners Syrah + The 2018 Syrah would be a great introduction into the wines of this notable estate, which always releases wines that seem to over-deliver. Lots of blue fruits, ground pepper, violets, charred meat, and chocolate give way to a medium to full-bodied, round, forward, delicious Syrah that’s ideal for enjoying over the coming 4-5 years. It will keep longer, but I see no need to delay gratification. The blend is 97% Syrah and 3% Roussanne, aged in 30% new French oak, all from a mix of sites in the Columbia Valley.An estate that always seem to over-deliver, Two Vintners was founded in 2007 as a partnership between winemaker Morgan Lee and Covington Cellars owners David and Cindy Lawson. These are rich, textured, sexy wines that always seem to stay balanced and weightless on the palate, and they are a joy to drink. I’ve purchased numerous bottles from restaurant lists while traveling through Washington and have yet to be disappointed. $25 93
41 2019 Alma de Cattleya Pinot Noir + Beautiful cherry and strawberry fruits as well as spice, flowers, and sandalwood emerge from the 2019 Pinot Noir, a medium-bodied, seamless Pinot Noir from this label that will drink nicely for 3-5 years. It has classic Pinot Noir elegance and complexity as well as California fruit. $30 91
42 2017 Chateau De Pibarnon Bandol + A blend of 90% Mourvèdre and 10% Grenache brought up mostly in foudre, the 2017 Bandol Rouge just screams of Provence with its ripe cherry and blackberry fruits intermixed with lots of bouquet garni, herbes de Provence, pepper, and hints of iron and game. Rich, full-bodied, and concentrated, it has wonderful tannins, beautiful purity, and a great finish. $60 95
43 2018 Chateau Bellefont-Belcier + I continue to love this Saint-Emilion, which hails from a 12.5-hectare vineyard located just beside Larcis Ducasse, on the Côte Pavie hillside. Based on 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2018 Château Bellefont-Belcier’s deep purple hue is followed by a ripe, medium to full-bodied 2018 with loads of blueberry and currant bud-like fruits as well as notes of leafy tobacco, spring flowers, truffle, and earth. Nicely textured, with fine, polished tannins and solid depth of fruit, it needs 4-5 years of bottle age and will evolve for 25 years or more. It doesn’t quite have the depth or density I remember from barrel, but it’s still a beautiful wine. $45 94
44 2016 Uccelliera Brunello Di Montalcino + The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino is sourced from three vineyard sites in Castelnuovo dell’Abate and spent three years in French and Slavonian oak of various sizes. It offers very pretty, soft floral aromatics of violet, black raspberry, and sweet baking spice. Structurally, the palate is plush and round on the mid-palate, with soft tannins and generous warmth, but without excessive weight. Enjoy over the next 15 or more years.Located in Castelnuova dell’Abate, Uccelliera’s first vintage was in 1991. Andrea Cortonesi purchased the farmland in 1986, and he continues to operate the estate today. His philosophy is simply to respect the terrior and to hold a strong commitment to the sense of place. He believes in a homeopathic approach to viticulture, to observe, listen, and work together with nature. The property includes vineyard holdings in three areas that range from 150 to 350 meters in elevation. They utilize large Slavonian 40-hectoliter barrels as well as 225-liter French barrique. $83 95
45 2018 Holocene Pinot Noir Memorialis + Showing beautifully, with a Côte de Nuit-like nose of darker cherries, strawberries, sappy herbs, baking spices, and flowers, the 2018 Pinot Noir Memorialis is medium to full-bodied and has a gorgeously textured, layered mouthfeel, present tannins, and a solid spine of acidity. It would give many a Grand Cru Red Burgundy a run for its money in a blind tasting. $60 95
46 2019 Saxum G2 Vineyard + Pure perfection in a glass, the 2019 G2 Vineyard checks in as 53% Grenache, 21% Mourvèdre, 19% Graciano, and the rest Carignan and Syrah. An incredible array of blackberries, ground pepper, violets, and herbes de Provence all emerge from the glass, and it’s full-bodied, deep, and concentrated, yet as weightless as they come. It shows more gamey, exotic notes with time in the glass, it’s perfectly balanced, and it’s just an incredible wine from this reference point estate. Drink bottles any time over the coming 10-15 years.One of California’s unquestionably superstar estates is Heather and Justin Smith’s Saxum Vineyards, and you won’t find any finer examples of Rhône variety wines anywhere in the world. The proprietors of James Berry Vineyard, located in the cooler Willow Creek District of Paso Robles, the Smiths have seen incredible changes over the past decade, and they’ve traded their small, old-fashioned, yet perfectly adequate cellar for a brand-new cave and state of the art winemaking facility. And while changes of this magnitude can often result in hiccups in either the style or quality of the wines, that’s certainly not the case here. I think the wines have never been better, and given the scores I’ve awarded in the past, that’s saying something. Today, the Smiths release multiple cuvées, and while the focus in the past might have been the estate James Berry Vineyard, the portfolio includes numerous new vineyard sources and cuvées, most focusing on single vineyards and even specific blocks inside of a vineyard. This report looks at the 2018s and 2019s, and in a nutshell, these wines epitomize what I consider greatness in wine; the ability to offer both hedonistic and intellectual pleasure; intensity and richness without heaviness or any sensation of weight; singular profiles; and the ability to improve with bottle age. In addition, the purity and precision this estate can achieve are incredible, and certainly, many estates and winemakers in Paso Robles need to be tasting these wines to understand why they’re great and what is possible from these incredible limestone soils. As a critic, it’s always a challenge to try and understand why wines show differently and why one estate can produce brilliant wines and others struggle. Given the prodigious wines the Smiths release year in and year out from different vineyards (and now even from different winemaking facilities), it’s become increasingly apparent that the quality coming from Saxum is due to the genius of Justin Smith. After being lucky enough to taste these wines every year for well over a decade now, I can say that no one in California does Rhône varieties and blends better. I’ve written this many times in the past, but I’ll say it again, this is one of the few mailing lists worth being on. $140 100
47 2018 Torrin Syrah Akasha + The 2018 Syrah Akasha is all Syrah and comes from a mix of the Shadow Canyon, Fulldraw, and Bien Nacido vineyards. It was 80% destemmed and spent 22 months in 300-liter French oak barrels, 60% being new. This brilliant Syrah knocks it out of the park, offering a heavenly bouquet of roasted herbs, rendered bacon fat, scorched earth, and tons of meatiness, all of which are grounded by a wealth of ripe black fruits. With air, it shows more Bien Nacido character and has ripe tannins, impressive balance, and a great finish. This is pure, classic California goodness and will benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and shine for over a decade.This report looks at the new releases from Viquel and Scott Hawley’s Torrin Wine, and this is another estate in Paso Robles that has recently completed construction on a new tasting room and winemaking facility. The 2018s reviewed here all show the fresher, more focused, and structured side of the vintage and I suspect will benefit from a handful of years of bottle age. Looking at the different cuvées of the estate, the Maven and the Seneschal are always the Grenache-heavy releases, with the Maven being 100% Grenache and the Seneschal being a split of Grenache and Graciano. The Banshee is a true GSM blend and close to equal parts Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, all coming from the Willow Creek District. Moving to the Syrah-heavy releases in the lineup, the Le Devoir is mostly Syrah blended with a good chunk of Graciano, and their Akasha release is 100% Syrah. The Akasha has been all Paso Robles fruit in the past but since 2016 has included fruit from the Shadow Canyon Vineyard in the York Mountain AVA and the Bien Nacido Vineyard outside of Santa Maria. Lastly, the Tsundere always stands out in the lineup for being mostly Cabernet Sauvignon blended with smaller amounts of Syrah, Tannat, Grenache, and Petit Verdot. The estate also releases some terrific Pinot Noirs under their Lagom label, and while they weren’t submitted for this report, I’ve certainly loved them in the past. $85 98
48 2019 Ridge Lytton Springs + The 2019 Lytton Springs checks in as 73% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, and the rest Carignan and Mataro. Revealing a translucent ruby/plum hue as well as beautiful cassis and red plum fruits supported by lots of savory herbs, orange blossom, cigar, and spice-driven aromas and flavors, this beauty hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a seamless texture, moderate yet present tannins, and a great finish. While the Geyserville Cuvee has eclipsed the Lytton Spring in most vintages in the past decade, that’s not the case in 2019. $50 95
49 2018 Bevan Cellars Ontogeny + While this cuvée is one of the least expensive in the lineup, it’s often one of my favorites. The 2018 Ontogeny is no exception and should be snatched up by readers. A classic 2018 nose of ripe, pure blue fruits, cassis, violets, and smoked earth gives way to a full-bodied, dense, concentrated Cabernet with beautiful tannins and length. It’s going to evolve for 20 years or more. $100 99
50 2019 Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf Du Pape La Combe Des Fous + Starting off a trio of truly magical wines, the 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape La Combe Des Fous checks in as 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and the rest Vaccarèse and Cinsault raised in tank and demi-muids. Sensationally pure cassis and blackberry fruits as well as complex notes of lavender, Provençal garrigue, ground pepper, and flowers all define this full-bodied 2019, which displays the vintage’s ripe, perfumed style while bringing more finesse, elegant, and purity than just about every other wine out there. It’s the finest vintage of this cuvée I’ve tasted and has another 15-20 years of prime drinking ahead of it. $130 100
51 2019 Mas De Boislauzon Chateauneuf Du Pape Cuvee Du Quet + The 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvée Du Quet checks in as 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre brought up mostly in concrete, yet with 10% in old barrels. It’s another heavenly, monster of a wine from this estate that boasts a dense ruby/plum color as well as a kaleidoscopic array of red and black fruits, Provençal garrigue, ground pepper, cured meats, and new saddle leather. Uber-rich, full-bodied, and incredibly concentrated, yet never heavy, it has a thrilling multi-dimensional texture, loads of tannins, and a heavenly finish. Hedonism at its pinnacle and a Châteauneuf du Pape lover’s dream, it will probably merit a triple digit rating in 4-5 years and have 25+ years of ultimate longevity. $125 98+
52 2018 Chateau Brane-Cantenac + A quintessential Margaux as well as one of the finest wines I’ve tasted from this estate, the 2018 Château Brane-Cantenac is based on 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, all aged in 70% new French oak. Beautiful cassis and mulberry fruits as well as notes of leafy tobacco, spice, cedarwood, and spring flowers emerge from the glass. Medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced, and elegant, it has loads of fruit, a seamless texture, and a good spine of acidity. Give bottles 4-5 years and enjoy over the following 30 years or more. $80 95+
53 2018 Chateau Haut-Bailly + The Grand Vin 2018 Château Haut-Bailly checks in as 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and the balance Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. It spent 18 months in 60% new French oak. This is a beautiful, classic expression of this terroir, and its dense purple hue is followed by gorgeous black cherry and cassis fruits interwoven with ample tobacco leaf, cedary herbs, earth, truffle, and floral nuances. While 2018 was a hot, dry year (at the end of the season anyway), this shows a mix of cooler-climate, vibrant aromatics paired with a rich, concentrated, fresh style on the palate. It has plenty of tannins, flawless balance, and a great finish. A beautiful, elegant 2018, it’s going to need 5-7 years of bottle age and keep for 3-4 decades. $130 98
54 2018 Domaine De Chevalier + The 2018 Domaine De Chevalier is a beauty. Based on 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot, aged 18 months in 35% new French oak, it has a beautiful sense of elegance and purity, which is very much in the style of the vintage as well as the domaine. Blackcurrants, black cherries, cold fireplace, damp earth, tobacco, and chocolate are just some of the nuances here, and this complex, medium to full-bodied 2018 has gorgeous tannins, terrific balance, and a great finish. It has suppleness in its texture that allows it to offer pleasure even today, yet given its balance as well as purity, it deserves 5-7 years of bottle age and will keep for 30+ years. It is another brilliant wine from the team of Olivier Bernard. $120 97
55 2018 Matt Morris Wines Charbono Shypoke Vineyard + Also beautiful, the 2018 Charbono Shypoke Vineyard offers a slightly more savory, earthy vibe that’s balanced by plenty of mulled red fruits, violets, orange blossom, and spice-driven aromas and flavors. Flawlessly balanced on the palate, it has gorgeous tannins, bright yet integrated acidity, and a great finish. This is another killer expression of Charbono from Napa Valley that I wish every reader could taste. It should benefit from just short-term cellaring and keep for a solid decade or more. $85 97
56 2017 Sine Qua Non Syrah Eleven Confessions Vineyard + The 2017 Syrah Eleven Confessions Vineyard is the wine of the vintage, and Syrah simply doesn’t get any better. Even in these more difficult vintages, I’m always amazed at what this estate is able to achieve. Dense purple-hued, with an incredible bouquet of sandalwood, dried flowers, incense, saddle leather, and assorted red and blue fruits, it hits the palate with flawless balance, a deep, full-bodied, concentrated mouthfeel, and a heavenly finish. It shows a more up-front, exuberant, sexy style, yet there’s still ample underlying structure and depth. Reminding me of Guigal’s Côte Rôtie La Mouline (maybe amped up just slightly), drink it over the coming 15-20 years. It’s worth pointing out that due to the difficulty in trademarking names today, the longer aged, 100% Eleven Confessions Vineyard Syrah and Grenache will simply bear the name “Eleven Confessions Vineyard” going forward. $250 100
57 2018 Ferren Wines Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast + Lots of spice-laced red and black fruits, peppery underbrush, graphite, and scorched earth notions emerge from the 2018 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. This classic Sonoma Coast beauty has medium-bodied richness, some building tannins, and a gorgeous texture and finish. It’s still tight and wound up, so give bottles a year or so in bottle. I have no doubt it will keep for over a decade. $70 96
58 2016 La Poderina Brunello Di Montalcino + The 2016 Brunello is lifted with dried raspberry, orange peel, thyme, and dusty earth. The palate is medium-bodied with fresh cherry fruit, Mediterranean herbs, and a saline mineral finish. The tannins are fine-grained with refreshing and balanced acidity. This red opened up and stayed fresh for days. Enjoy over the next 15 years, 2021-2036.La Poderina is located in Castelnuovo dell’Abate in the southwest and exhibits the refinement I have found in this area expressive of the 2016 vintage. $65 95
59 2018 Arkenstone Estate Red + Flirting with perfection, the 2018 Estate Red is an off-the-hook beauty based on 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, and the rest Malbec and Merlot. Full-bodied, flawlessly balanced, and both powerful and elegant, it offers a captivating bouquet of chocolate covered blue fruits, bay leaf/bouquet garni, violets, and candied orange zest. I’d be happy to drink a bottle today, but smart money will give it 2-3 years of bottle age. $200 98
60 2018 Force Majeure Syrah SJR Vineyard + A full-on Rocks bouquet of leafy herbs, black pepper, black olives, sweet earth, and bloody blue fruits emerges from the 2018 Syrah SJR Vineyard, which is 100% Syrah from a notable vineyard in the Rocks region of the Walla Walla Valley. Hitting the palate with full-bodied richness, it has a gorgeous mid-palate, ripe, silky tannins, almost perfect balance, and a great, great finish. I’m not sure it matches the magical 2016, but it surpasses the 2017 and is one of the wines of the vintage in 2018. Hats off to winemaker Todd Alexander.Previously known as Grand Reve, Force Majeure has skyrocketed to the top of the pyramid in Washington State, in no small part due to their talented winemaker, Todd Alexander, who moved from Bryant Family in Napa to Washington State to focus on this estate. While the focus is on their Red Mountain Vineyard, they make a bevy of world-class wines from throughout the Columbia Valley. Anyone doubting the quality coming from Washington State these days owes it to themselves to try these wines. $100 98
61 2018 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve + Another wine that shows the quality of the vintage to a T is the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. It has undeniable class and finesse as well as medium to full body, a perfumed, complex array of cassis and dark fruits, tobacco, and violets, silky tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. This isn’t a blockbuster but a wine that builds beautifully with time in the glass and will reward 4-5 years of bottle age and have 20-30 years of overall longevity. The blend of the 2018 is 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Petit Verdot, all aged 20 months in new French oak, but it seems to have absorbed every ounce, as it’s undetectable. It’s a brilliant, quintessential Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. $225 97+
62 2019 Turtle Rock G2 Vineyard + The 2019 G2 Vineyard is another insanely good wine from this estate and tops out my scale. Based on 92% Syrah, 6% Mourvèdre, and 2% Grenache that was brought up in 90% new oak, it offers an incredible, meaty, smoky, deep, and concentrated style as well pure black fruits, violets, and peppery aromas and flavors. With ultra-fine tannins, full-bodied richness, and that rare mix of power and elegance, Central Coast Syrah (or red wine, for that matter) doesn’t get any better. Give bottles 2-3 years, count yourself lucky, and enjoy over the following 10-12+ years.It may be too late to get on the mailing list, but Don Burn’s Turtle Rock is unquestionably one of California’s new superstars. $120 100
63 2017 Elio Altare Barolo + Layered and inviting aromatics lift from the 2017 Barolo, including kirsch, incense, and dried roses. The palate is highly refined yet also has generous fruit with a beautiful arch noted by cherry lozenge, dried apricot, and orange blossom. This is a remarkable and graceful wine from Elio Altare. Drink 2022-2042. $100 95
64 2019 Chanin Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard + I loved the 2019 Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard. This is a gem in the vintage that readers should snatch up. A more floral, ethereal wine, it has gorgeous cherry and framboise fruit, medium body, a tight, vibrant, focused mouthfeel, ripe tannins, and a bright spine of acidity that carries through the finish. It’s a stunning Pinot Noir that I’d happily put in a blind lineup with the best out there. Give it a year or two and enjoy over the following 10-15 years. $65 97
65 2018 Jaffurs Syrah Larner Vineyard + The 2018 Syrah Larner Vineyard (co-fermented with 2% Viognier and fermented with 35% stems) sports a dense purple hue to go with a surprisingly rich, powerful style carrying lots of ripe red, blue, and black fruits as well as ground pepper, violets, game, and tapenade-like aromas and flavors. It shows more and more elegance with time in the glass and is full-bodied and wonderfully concentrated, with building tannins and lots of minerality on the finish. It’s a killer wine, yet patience is required. Give bottles 2-3 years and enjoy over the following decades. $55 97+
66 2019 Ledge Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard + The only other wine I was able to taste for this report, the 2019 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard comes from a Grand Cru vineyard just outside of Santa Maria, in Santa Barbara County. Its deep purple hue is followed by a sensational perfume of blueberry and blackberry-like fruits as well as complex peppery herbs, iodine, black olive, and a unique, petrichor/ozone-like scent that’s reminiscent of rain on hot asphalt. Gorgeous on the palate as well, it has full-bodied richness, a beautiful mix of perfectly ripe fruit and savory, earthy mineral nuances, ripe tannins, and a great finish. It’s another masterpiece of a Syrah from Mark Adams. Give bottles just 2-3 years and enjoy over the following 15+.The young Mark Adams continues to knock it out of the park, fashioning pure, balanced, elegant wines that still bring incredible California fruit and opulence. $69 99
67 2019 Paul Lato Pinot Noir Suerte Solomon Hills Vineyard + The 2019 Pinot Noir Suerte Solomon Hills Vineyard, which comes from a sandy site in Santa Maria, was all destemmed and spent 17 months in 62% new French oak. Lots of ripe raspberry and wild strawberry fruit is the name of the game here, and it has classic forest floor, spice, and floral nuances as well as some marine-like sea breeze with time in the glass. With moderate acidity, a round, lush texture, and ripe tannins, it’s another ready-to-go, sexy, seamless wine in the lineup that does everything right. Drink it over the coming 5-7 years. $85 97
68 2018 Cayuse Grenache God Only Knows + Gorgeous rose petals, wildflowers, cured meats, wild strawberries, and framboise-like notes emerge from the 2018 Grenache God Only Knows, another ethereal, sensationally complex, nuanced, medium-bodied Grenache that’s as unique and singular as they come. Blossoming with time in the glass, it has ripe, present tannins, a layered, building mouthfeel, and a gorgeous, smoky, meaty finish. It needs 3-5 years in the cellar (it’s far from unapproachable today) to integrate its tannins and structure and will deliver the goods over the following 10-15 years.This is a hard mailing list to crack, yet winemaker Christophe Baron continues to deliver the goods, releases singular, exotic, incredible wines from his bevy of single vineyards in the Rocks region of the Walla Walla Valley. The 2018s show the rich yet focused, straight, elegant style of the vintage beautifully and are going to be incredibly age-worthy. While the Syrahs get all the love, don’t miss his Grenache, Tempranillo, and Bordeaux blends. His 2018 Grenache God Only Knows might be the finest Grenache I’ve ever tasted outside of France and few California releases. $140 98
69 2018 Chateau Capbern + The 2018 Château Capbern checks in as a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated blend that includes 37% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot, all of which was brought up in 60% new barrels. It has a deep, dark, earthy, classic Saint-Estèphe bouquet that gives up lots of cassis and almost blue fruits as well as ample chocolate, damp earth, and leafy herb-like aromas and flavors. With a full-bodied, rich, opulent mouthfeel, loads of sumptuous dark fruits, sweet tannins, and a great finish, this brilliant 2018 brings lots of fruit and opulence, yet stays weightless and balanced, with solid underlying structure. A hidden gem in the vintage, this is every bit as good as the 2016, and it’s going to shine for two decades or more. $35 94
70 2019 Chateau De L’Ou Cotes Catalances Grenache Rhapsody + The 2019 Côtes Catalances Grenache Rhapsody, which was first made in 2017, is winemaker Séverine Bourrier’s take on 100% Grenache from the Roussillon (it’s released under the Côtes Catalanes IGP). I compared the 2017 to a top Châteauneuf du Pape, and unquestionably, that comparison holds with the 2019 as well. It offers a monster bouquet of kirsch liqueur, herbes de Provence, peppered meats, charcuterie, and dried flowers that carries to a full-bodied Grenache with an expansive, layered, seamless texture, silky tannins, no hard edges, and a great, great finish. It’s not for those looking for 13.5% alcohol Grenache, but it does what ripe Grenache does so well, deliver incredible complexity and beautiful richness in a balanced, weightless package. It should easily evolve gracefully for 5-7 years and most likely well over a decade. $63 95
71 2018 Chateau Beausejour (Duffau-Lagarrosse) + While the 2018 Château Beauséjour (Duffau-Lagarrosse) doesn’t match the 2009 or 2016, it’s certainly not far off. I wish every reader could taste this beautiful, age-worthy Saint-Emilion, and they should certainly have bottles in the cellar. Coming from a gorgeous hillside terroir of clay and limestone soils outside of Saint-Emilion and a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, it reveals a dense purple hue as well as classic Saint-Emilion minerality in its cassis and blue fruits as well as notes of damp earth, truffle, tobacco, and spring flowers. With full-bodied richness, a concentrated, backward, structured mouthfeel, lots of tannins, and just a brilliant mix of richness and elegance, it needs a good 5-7 years in the cellar and will have 40-50 years of prime drinking. $145 97
72 2018 Epoch Estate Wines Ingenuity + Lots of blue fruits, ground pepper, candied violets, and chalky minerality emerge from the 2018 Ingenuity, a pure, medium to full-bodied, seamless beauty with fine tannins and no hard edges. Like all Jordan’s 2018s, it holds onto a terrific sense of freshness and elegance. The blend is 36% Petite Sirah, 30% Syrah, 22% Mourvèdre, and the rest Grenache, and comes mostly from the estate Paderewski Vineyard.Epoch is another top estate in Paso Robles that has seen incredible growth and change over the past decade. Now in a new facility on York Mountain, winemaker Jordan Fiorentini continues to experiment with new blends as well as different fermentation vessels, also using a touch more whole cluster at times. These are rich, textured, classic Paso Robles reds. $80 96
73 2019 L’Aventure Cote A Cote + Another magical wine from this estate is the 2019 Côte à Côte, a blend of 34% each of Grenache and Mourvèdre, with the balance Syrah. Brought up in 29% new French oak, it boasts a dense purple color as well as incredible aromatics of blue fruits, smoked game, violets, black pepper, and spring flowers. One of those incredibly complex, nuanced wines that still brings depth and richness on the palate, it’s perfectly balanced, has ultra-fine tannins, and a gorgeous finish. It’s the finest vintage of Côte à Côte ever produced. Drink it over the coming 15+ years.Stephan Asseo, who’s assisted more and more by assistant winemaker Patrick Davies, continues to keep his L’Aventure estate near the top of the pyramid in Paso Robles. This report looks at the 2019s and 2020s, and both appear to be beautiful vintages. The 2019s are some of the finest wines I’ve tasted at this estate and have a rare mix of power and vibrancy, with incredible aromatics and sensational purity and precision on the palate. $98 100
74 2018 Crown Point Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon + The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon showed beautifully. Based on 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot, it reveals a dense purple hue as well as a great nose of crème de cassis and blueberry-like fruits along with ample green tobacco, lead pencil, sandalwood, and chocolate. It shows more and more floral notes with time in the glass and is full-bodied, with a beautiful sense of elegance and purity, silky tannins, and a rock star of a finish. This is straight-up gorgeous juice that can be enjoyed today or any time over the coming two decades or more. $150 97
75 2019 Melville Pinot Noir Terraces + The 2019 Pinot Noir Terraces should be snatched up by Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir lovers. Only 50% destemmed and aged in neutral barrels, it offers another level of purity and elegance, with thrilling strawberry and raspberry fruits, notes of loamy soil, dried herbs, and pepper, medium body, ripe tannins, and a fabulous sense of focus and elegance. This cuvée, composed of Swan, Mount Eden, 115, 667, and 777 clones, is going to have a decade of prime drinking. $62 95
76 2019 Ojai Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard + Lots of framboise and strawberry fruits as well as more Burgundian forest floor and earthy nuances define the 2019 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard, one of the standouts in the lineup. With brilliant focus and precision, a great mid-palate, and ripe tannins, it’s going to be well worth following over the coming decade. $53 96
77 2018 Chateau Fleur Cardinale + The Grand Vin 2018 Château Fleur Cardinale checks in as a mix of 74% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon brought up in new French oak. It has integrated its oak elevage beautifully and while it has a kiss of modern character and polish, it still has loads of classic Saint-Emilion character, as well as minerality. Deep ruby/plum hued with a gorgeous bouquet of black cherries, white truffles, camphor, lead pencil, and exotic spices, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a beautifully balance, layered texture, building, firm tannins, and a great finish. It certainly in the same class as the 2015 and 2016, but the cellar is going to be your friend. Hide bottles for at least 4-6 years and it should cruise for 20 years or more. $60 94
78 2018 Chateau La Dominique + Tasting more like a great Pomerol than a Saint-Emilion (which makes sense given its location), the 2018 Château La Dominique is a knockout winner in this great vintage and should be snatched up by readers. A blend of 85% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, it reveals a dense purple hue as well as gorgeous notes of crème de cassis, ripe black cherries, spring flowers, damp earth, and truffle. These carry to a full-bodied, sweetly fruited, sexy 2018 with incredible purity, a solid spine of acidity (the pH is 3.65), ultra-fine tannins, and a great, great finish. It’s already impossible to resist, yet it should evolve for 15-20 years with no issues. Bravo! $95 96
79 2018 Blankiet Estate Prince Of Hearts Paradise Hills Vineyard + Checking in as close to an even split of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with around 1% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, the 2018 Prince Of Hearts Red offers a stunning, Bordeaux-like nose of red and black currants, new leather, lead pencil, graphite, and bouquet garni. With medium to full-bodied richness, a seamless, elegant texture, classy background oak, and a great finish, this head turner has plenty of richness, yet it’s the balance, purity, and texture that keep you coming back to the glass. Bravo! $90 97
80 2018 Crocker & Starr Cabernet Sauvignon Stone Place + The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Stone Place comes from a single vineyard in St. Helena, on the valley floor and 45-year-old vines. It has a pure, elegant, full-bodied style as well as beautiful aromatics of cassis, ground herbs, violets/flowers, and cedar pencil. Flawlessly balanced, it builds nicely with time in the glass and has ultra-fine tannins and the class to drink well today yet evolve for 20-25 years. This cuvée spent 20 months in 90% new French oak. Don’t miss it! $175 97
81 2018 Ovid Hexameter + More blue fruits as well as blackcurrants, leafy tobacco, chocolate, candied flowers, and baking spices all emerge from the 2018 Hexameter, and it’s full-bodied, with an incredibly pure, seamless texture, polished tannins, and one heck of a great, great finish. While this is unquestionably a mountain wine, with a building sense of minerality, it has a rare sense of elegance and purity, flawless balance, and is just a heavenly, singular wine. Based on 51% Cabernet Franc, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Petit Verdot, aged 20 months in 65% new French oak, it will evolve for 25-30 years. $350 99
82 2017 Domenico Clerico Barolo + The 2017 Barolo has perfumed aromas of fennel, cranberry, fresh tobacco, and dried roses. Revealing a refined yet angular structure, with notes of ripe cherry, orange zest, and mineral-rich earth., this is a great entry wine from Clerico, delicering balanced structure and a polished finish. Drink 2022-2040. $55 94
83 2016 Pio Cesare Barbaresco + The 2016 Barbaresco was sourced from parcels across the Barbaresco region and was aged for 30 months in a combination of French botti and barriques. It has aromatics of celery root, dried cherry, star anise, and tar. The palate is lifted with pomegranate seed, dried roses, clove, and orange pith. There are dusty tannins that build on the finish and fresh acidity. Enjoy over 2022-2042. $85 94
84 2018 Andremily Mourvedre + Another wine that flirts with perfection is the 2018 Mourvedre, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better Mourvèdre out there. Offering a beautiful freshness as well as powerful notes of black and blue fruits, violets, ground pepper, iron, and a touch of bloody meat, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, ripe, silky tannins, no hard edges, and one heck of a great finish. This powerful, stacked Mourvèdre should have 15 years of longevity. The 2018 checks in as 85% Mourvedre, 12% Syrah, and the balance Viognier that was 25% destemmed and spent 21 months in 50% new French oak barriques and 600-liter demi-muids. $180 99
85 2018 Clarice Wine Company Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard + Continuing to show beautifully, the 2018 Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard is the richest and most concentrated in the lineup, offering a killer bouquet of ripe black fruits, spice, iron, forest floor, and dried flowers. With full-bodied richness, building tannins, and a great, great finish, it’s going to benefit from another year or so in the bottle and keep for a good decade. $85 96
86 2019 Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir + Another beautiful vintage for this cuvée, the 2019 Pinot Noir shows a more elegant, pure, classic style than some previous years, which were slightly richer and more bombastic. The 2019 reveals a medium ruby/purple hue (it’s semi-opaque) to go with a gorgeous nose of ripe cherries, raspberries, and blueberries, followed by classic Pisoni minerality, brambly herbs, violets, and forest floor. As always, this site imparts an incredible sense of rocky, mineral-like nuances, and there’s a liqueur of rock-like sensation on the finish. It needs an hour in the decanter if drinking any time soon and will have 15-20 years of prime drinking. $110 97
87 2019 Roar Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard + The 2019 Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard comes from more granitic soils and is a slightly warmer micro-climate, located at the southern end of the appellation, furthest away from Monterey Bay. It’s a more mineral-laced, savory wine that leads with earthy nuances of redcurrants, dried herbs, black tea, and baking spices. Stunning on the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied and has a great, great mid-palate, lots of perfectly ripe tannins, flawless balance, and a great finish. It’s not far off the brilliant 2018 and certainly one of the finest Pinot Noirs in California. $80 96
88 2018 Hartford Court Chardonnay Stone Cote Vineyard + Also from the Sonoma Coast, the 2018 Chardonnay Stone Cote Vineyard offers up an exotic, full-bodied, concentrated style as well as complex lemon and orchard fruits, notes of chamomile, toasted almonds, and baking spice notes, flawless balance, integrated acidity, and a chalky, mineral-laced finish. This magical, thrilling Chardonnay will cruise for 5-7 years (probably longer) in cold cellars, and it ranks with the top handful of wines in the vintage. $65 98
89 2018 Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere + An outstanding wine, the 2018 Château Malartic Lagraviere (57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and the rest 3% Cabernet Franc) offers a deep purple hue as well as beautiful cassis and blackberry fruits intermixed with lots of graphite, gravelly earth, violets, and spring flower-like aromas and flavors. Beautifully balanced, medium to full-bodied, with ripe tannins and impressive purity of fruit, it’s another gorgeous 2018 that can be drunk today or cellared for 15 years. $85 94
90 2019 Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes + The 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes is based on 45% each of Grenache and Mourvèdre, with the balance Syrah, all destemmed and raised in 55% new French oak. Gorgeous cassis, violet, graphite, fruitcake, and peppery herbs define this brilliant effort, and it’s full-bodied, with a pure, seamless texture, wonderful tannins, and one heck of a great finish. This magical 2019 is going to benefit from 4-5 years of bottle age (it’s brilliant even today) yet keep for 20 years or more. Châteauneuf du Pape lovers need to have this in their cellar! $96 99
91 2019 Carlisle Syrah Rosella’s Vineyard + The 2019 Syrah Rosella’s Vineyard comes from a great vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands located in the middle of the appellation. Revealing a dense purple hue as well as gorgeous black raspberry, red plum, candied violets, sandalwood, and hints of orange blossom, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, ultra-fine tannins, and a smoking finish. It shows more violet and floral notes with time in the glass, and you’d be excused for guessing Côte Rôtie on this in a blind tasting. It’s another singular beauty from Mike Officer that should be snatched up by readers. Drink bottles over the coming 7-8 years. $49 96
92 2018 Law Estate Wines The Nines + Just as sexy and hedonistic as they come, the 2018 The Nines (100% Grenache) reveals a lighter ruby hue as well as a magical bouquet of kirsch, ground pepper, sandalwood, and violets. It’s full-bodied and powerful on the palate yet stays light on its feet, with perfect balance, ultra-fine tannins, and a great, great finish. Fermented in concrete tanks and aged 19 months in a mix of concrete eggs and French oak (69% new), it’s up with the greatest Grenache from Paso Robles. It has another 10-12 years, probably more, of prime drinking ahead of it.This is one of the best lineups I’ve seen from Law Estate, and across the board, these are ripe, sexy, yet balanced wines that deliver the goods. They’re not for those looking for lightweight aromas and flavors but have incredible intensity while still showing balance, purity, and structure. Count me impressed. $99 99
93 2019 Nicora Syrah Slide Hill Vineyard + I was blown away by the 2019 Syrah Slide Hill Vineyard. This might be the finest wine I’ve taste from this vineyard, which is now owned by Jim Binns of Andremily. Its vivid purple hue is followed by awesome notes of ripe black and blue fruits, bacon fat, ground pepper, and violets. It’s full-bodied on the palate, has no hard edges, stunning purity of fruit, and a great finish. It’s one of the rich, powerful wines that still stays perfectly balanced and elegant. Bravo!These latest Nicora wines from Nick Elliot are brilliant across the board. In some cases, they’re the finest wines I’ve tasted from the estate. $70 97
94 2019 Dragonette Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Grassini Family Vineyard + I’d wager one of the finest examples of this variety in California, the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Grassini Family Vineyard reveals a lighter gold hue as well as a brilliant array of crushed citrus, lime, fresh fig, green almonds, and crushed rock-like minerality. Based on 100% Sauvignon Blanc that was barrel fermented and aged in just 10% new French oak, it hits the palate with medium-bodied richness, a concentrated, vibrant mouthfeel, bright and integrated acidity, and great finish. This puppy will keep for two decades. $50 96
95 2018 Chateau Fontenil + The 2018 Château Fontenil is a beautiful wine that readers will be happy to have in their cellar. Coming from the home estate of Michel and Danny Rolland in Fronsac, it offers a saturated ruby/purple hue as well as terrific Pomerol-like aromas and flavors of cassis, damp earth, violets, and cedary spice. Flawlessly balanced, medium-bodied, with background oak as well as chalky minerality, it’s already hard to resist yet has another 10-15 years of prime drinking ahead of it. It’s a hidden gem in the vintage. $32 94
96 2017 Domaine Rossignol-Trapet Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Petite-Chapelle + The 2017 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Petite-Chapelle is a bigger, richer wine that’s going to benefit from bottle age, although it still shows the ripe, sexy style of the vintage. Darker currants, red plums, crushed stone, salty mineral, violets, and autumn campfire nuances define the bouquet, and it’s rich, full-bodied, and tannic on the palate, all while still showing considerable elegance and wonderful purity and sweetness of fruit. This gorgeous wine will benefit from 3-5 years of bottle age and deliver the goods over the following decade or so. $100 94
97 2018 Gaja Barbaresco + The hallmark of the Gaja estate, the Barbaresco is sourced from 14 vineyards within Barbaresco and Treiso. For the 2018 vintage, there will be no single cru bottlings for Barbaresco, and all of the fruit has gone into the estate bottling. The 2018 Barbaresco is pure and inviting, with perfumed notes of rose petal, ripe raspberry, and clove. Medium-bodied and approachable, with super fine-grained tannins, it offers fresh strawberry, orange pith, and dusty earth. The undeniable elegance of this 2018 is joyful now, though it will be great to revisit over the next 15 years. Drink 2022-2036.The Gaja estate was founded in 1859, though it was Angelo Gaja, the fourth-generation winemaker of this Piedmont estate, who made the innovations that would help shape the region as it is today. The entire family shares responsibilities across their estates. There is great attention taken to practicing sustainable and regenerative farming. $265 96+
98 2019 Beau Marchais Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard Est + Moving to two Sta. Rita Hills releases, the 2019 Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard Est (previously called Clos Pepe #6 when it was reviewed from barrel) has a more structured, focused, elegant style that carries notes of Bing cherries, mulberries, cedary herbs, spice, and a touch of marine-like minerality and saltiness, which is classic Sta. Rita Hills. Rich, tannic, medium to full-bodied, and beautifully balanced, this killer Pinot Noir needs 2-3 years of bottle age and will drink well for a decade. $95 95+
99 2019 Le Clos Du Caillou Chateauneuf Du Pape Les Quartz + Moving to the tiny production 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Les Quartz, which is mostly Grenache with around 25% or so of Syrah, it has a rich, full-bodied, dense, and almost backward style to go with powerful black fruits, ground pepper, and violet aromas and flavors. I love its purity of fruit, and it builds nicely with time in the glass, showing more mid-palate depth as well as ripe tannins. It’s a stunning bottle of wine, but patience will be required. Hide bottles for 4-5 years and enjoy over the following two decades.The 2019s from Le Clos du Caillou showed brilliantly, and this is clearly a great vintage for estate, with the wines equaling what was produced in 2016, 2010, 2007, 2005, and 2001. These are silky, elegant, yet also concentrated wines across the board, and despite the multitude of cuvées, they all have singular, distinct personalities. These are brilliant wines readers will love to have in their cellars. $70 97+
100 2018 Avennia Cabernet Sauvignon Sestina + A blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Sestina comes from the Red Willow, Dionysus, and Bacchus vineyards and spent 20 months in 48% new French oak barrels. A beautiful, Saint-Julien-like bouquet of blackcurrants, cassis, violets, tobacco, and cedar gives way to a medium to full-bodied, concentrated, structured wine that builds incrementally on the palate, with ripe, velvety tannins, a stunning mid-palate, and a blockbuster of a finish. It’s beautifully done, and while it drinks well today given its balance, purity, and texture, it’s going to develop additional complexity with 3-5 years of bottle age and will have 20-25 years of overall longevity. $75 96+