The below list is a selection of the top wines tasted over the past 12 months and reviewed at 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 every wine on this list could be replaced with a different wine. Nevertheless, we think these are the most exciting wines at for 2022!

*click on the “+” beside the wine name to read the review


1 2014 Bollinger Champagne La Grande Annee Brut + Raised entirely in barrel, the 2014 Champagne La Grande Année Brut is all about finesse and capturing the cool, mineral tension and floral notes of the vintage. Enhancing those qualities, a bit higher proportion of Chardonnay was used for this release, making up 39% of the blend. It pours a pale straw, and it is layered and persistent with lightly toasted pastry, Mirabel plum liqueur, and saline. The palate is dry and more tightly wound at this stage, with driving citrus, a chalky texture, and a light phenolic finish. Subtle undercurrents of honey and butterscotch should continue to evolve beautifully over the coming decades. Drink 2024-2044. Disgorged December 2021, it has 7 grams per liter of dosage.Located in Ay, Bollinger was founded in 1829. To mark the 200th anniversary of the house, they have several projects in the works scheduled for completion in 2029, not only to commemorate the occasion but to carry the house into their next chapter. Construction is underway to renovate the Maison Deuil, the long-time private residence on the property, into a 20-room hotel along with a restaurant, which is sure to make a significant impact on the tiny village. A signature of the house is that they have their own cooperage on site to build and maintain their barrels. Gael Chaunut took over the position from Denis Saint Arroman as head cooper for the house in December of 2020. All the wood is sourced from their property in the forest of Cuis. As négociants, they purchase 60% their grapes and own 179 hectares of planted vineyards. Sixty percent of their production is dedicated to Pinot Noir, with 25% to Chardonnay and the remainder to Meunier. The inaugural release of 2012 La Côte Aux Enfants is the second single-parcel bottling from the house and completes the collection of Pinot Noir Champagnes alongside the PN Series and Vieilles Vignes Françaises. Stylistically, the Vieille Vignes Françaises remains the richest and most powerful wine in the range, with an emphasis on the concentration of its fruit from the ungrafted vines of Clos Saint Jacques. $190 97
2 2019 Chateau Lynch-Bages + The 2019 Château Lynch-Bages is stunningly good, and it’s going to be interesting to compare this to the 2018 over the coming decades. Based on 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, and the balance Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, brought up in 75% new French oak, its dense purple hue is followed by an incredible bouquet of pure crème de cassis, freshly sharpened cedar pencil, spring flowers, smoke, and graphite, with an almost liqueur of rocks-like minerality. A massive, incredibly concentrated Lynch-Bages, Jean-Charles has hit a home run in the vintage, and this sensational wine has building, perfect tannins, insane purity, and a finish that won’t quit. It has the purity, finesse, balance, and depth to offer pleasure not only today but to evolve for 40 to 50 years. Smart money will hide these for a good 7-8 years, but wow, what a wine. Bravo. $161 100
3 2019 Domaine Saint-Damien Gigondas La Louisiane + I think the standout of the three Gigondas is the 2019 Gigondas La Louisiane. This ripe, exotic, yet incredibly pure Gigondas offers incredible character and depth with no sensation of weight or heaviness. Wild strawberries, blueberries, mint, peppery herbs, and garrigue are just some of the nuances, and it has silky tannins and a full-bodied, powerful style that will evolve for 10-15 years. $36 97
4 2019 Bernard Levet Cote Rotie La Chavaroche + Lastly, the 2019 Côte Rôtie La Chavaroche comes from a single lieu-dit in the northern part of the appellation, and it’s just about as good as wild, classic, traditional Côte Rôtie gets. Vivid purple, with an incredible bouquet cracked black pepper, violets, iron, bloody beef, and assorted red, blue, and black fruits, it has more obvious minerality than the slightly more rounded Les Journaries, flawless balance, and enough structure to warrant upwards of a decade of bottle age. The purity of fruit in all these 2019 is something to behold, and readers should seek these wines out. $110 99
5 2019 Force Majeure Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley Estate + The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley Estate has a Mouton-like vibe in its ripe, sexy red and black currants as well as notes of chocolate, tobacco leaf, truffle, and damp earth. Much more broad, round, and expansive compared to the Red Mountain release, it has supple, velvety tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. It’s not far off the heavenly 2018 and will shine for 30 years as well. Readers will love being able to compare these two great vintages over the coming decades. $180 98
6 2019 Lewelling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard + Riper and more voluptuous, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard is a selection from the estate vineyard and a smaller production release. It has a wealth of ripe black fruits, smoke tobacco, chocolate, and violets, with more lead pencil and earthy nuances emerging with time in the glass. Concentrated, full-bodied, yet balanced and incredibly pure, it’s another terrific, seamless wine from this estate readers will love. I like it today, but give bottles a year or three and enjoy over the following 20+. $90 97+
7 2019 Chateau Leoville Barton + The flagship 2019 Château Léoville Barton is brilliant, showing both the style of the estate as well as the vintage beautifully. It’s never the biggest or richest wine, yet it has a classic, vibrant, structured style that ages beautifully. Pure cassis, black currants, scorched earth, new leather, and graphite are just some of its nuances, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with a lively spine of acidity, beautiful overall balance, and a great finish. This textbook Léoville Barton demands a decade of bottle age and will keep for 30-40 years. $110 97
8 2019 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir Laurene + The 2019 Pinot Noir Laurene was aged in 25% new oak and spent 14-15 months in barrel. Its aromas are more layered with cedar, pine spice, and dried cherry. The palate is concentrated and elegant, with fine tannins, notes of grenadine, dried purple flowers, espresso, and fresh acidity. Drink 2024-2034. $75 94
9 2017 Guigal Cote Rotie La Turque + One of the legendary vintages for this cuvée is the 2017 Côte Rôtie La Turque, a blend of 93% Syrah and 7% Viognier from a tiny parcel in the Côte Brune lieu-dit. Always aged 4 years in new French oak, it offers a dense, saturated purple color as well as slightly more masculine notes of blackberries, smoked meats, dark chocolate, and graphite. Full-bodied, beautifully concentrated, and perfectly balanced, with incredible purity of fruit, it already offers pleasure but will ideally be given 5-7 years of bottle age. It will deliver the goods for 30 to 40 years. It’s the star of the show in 2017 and one of the wines of the vintage. $360 100
10 2020 Famille Isabel Ferrando Chateauneuf Du Pape + Now the flagship of this estate, the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape is 75% Grenache and the rest Cinsault, Mourvedre, and a little Syrah. Sporting a deep ruby/purple hue, it offers a beautiful array of black raspberry and darker cherry fruit as well as lots of graphite, chalky minerality, Provençal garrigue, and spice. Beautiful on the palate as well, this medium to full-bodied effort has a layered, multi-dimensional mouthfeel, rock-solid underlying structure and concentration, building tannins, and a gorgeous finish. It needs to be forgotten for 2-4 years (although it certainly offers incredible pleasure even today) and will keep for two decades. Tasted twice.All the wines previously under the label Domaine Saint- Préfert and Isabel Ferrando are now grouped under the Famille Isabel Ferrando label. The lineup includes two whites, a Châteauneuf Du Pape Blanc and Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvée Spéciale Vieilles Clairettes; and three reds, a classic Châteauneuf Du Pape, a 100% Grenache Châteauneuf Du Pape Colombis, and a 100% Cinsault Châteauneuf Du Pape F601. The quality remains sky high at this estate, and it’s impossible to go wrong with any of these new releases. $90 98+
11 2019 Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere + The 2019 Château Malartic-Lagravière showed brilliantly, with an elegant, pure, flawlessly balanced style. Giving up ripe black cherry, currants, tobacco leaf, and spicy oak, with textbook Graves scorched earth, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a beautiful layered, seamless mouthfeel, great tannins, and one heck of a great finish. It’s not a blockbuster, but it excels on its elegance, balance, and complexity. Readers will love to have this in the cellar, and it will keep for 20+ years. $50 96
12 2019 Domaine Courbis Cornas La Sabarotte + Lastly, the 2019 Cornas La Sabarotte is a candidate for the wine of the vintage in Cornas, and it’s about as thrilling as they come. Much riper and sexier, it reminds me of a great Hermitage from the Meal lieu-dit and has lots of cassis and blackberry fruits, notes of violets, ground pepper, iron, and some gamey meat, full-bodied richness, velvety tannins, and an awesome finish. It’s a big, rich, sexy wine that will take 4-5 years to shed some baby fat and have two decades of overall longevity. $85 99
13 2017 Domaine Du Grapillon D’Or Gigondas Excellence + A smaller production cuvée based on 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, the 2017 Gigondas Excellence just screams Southern Rhône with its spicy, complex nose of red and black fruits, new saddle leather, herbes de Provence, and ground pepper. Medium to full-bodied on the palate, it shows the Provençal, medium to full-bodied, sunny style that’s the hallmark of the vintage. It’s drinking beautifully today yet will cruise for 15 years in cold cellars. $40 94
14 NV Louis Roederer Champagne Collection 243 Brut + The NV Champagne Collection 243 Brut is the third release and is based on the 2018 vintage, with the addition of 30% of the perpetual reserve started in 2012 and 10% reserve wine that has been aged in oak. It is ripe and balanced, with yellow flowers, honeycomb, and plum, and it has elegant concentration and underlying tension, precise mousse, and rich salinity, with lingering notes of croissant and delicate smoke. This will be an exciting wine in the range to follow. Drink 2022-2037. $61 93
15 2019 Epoch Estate Wines Authenticity + The 2019 Authenticity is all Syrah that comes mostly from the Paderewski Vineyard, with a small percentage from the York Mountain Vineyard. It offers a deep, inky hue to go with a blockbuster-style array of black and blue fruits, ground pepper, violets, and hints of game. Rich, full-bodied, and powerful on the palate, it has ripe tannins, beautiful overall balance, and a great, great finish.I was able to taste three vintages from winemaker Jordan Fiorentini. Looking first at the 2019s, these are classic, rich, powerful wines that have tons of character and, if anything, are a step up over the 2018s. While still in barrel, I was pretty much blown away by Jordan’s 2020s, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these end up being some of the wines of the vintage. While there are many subtly smoke tainted wines in this challenging vintage, I found these 2020s to be smoke-free and beautifully balanced. The 2021s appear to be a step up, and while they have classic Paso Robles richness and depth, they shine for their purity and elegance. $75 97
16 2019 Pasxa Syrah SJR Vineyard + The vivid purple-hued 2019 Syrah SJR Vineyard comes from a great vineyard in the Rocks region of Walla Walla. Offering up a beautiful perfume of red plums, blueberries, peppery herbs, wood smoke, iron, and violets, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, silky, polished tannins, and a great, great finish. It’s a stunningly elegant, balanced, seamless Syrah to enjoy over the coming 10-15 years. $75 97
17 2020 Dragonette Cellars Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard + The 2020 Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard is similarly hued and has a beautiful bouquet of red and black raspberries, spring flowers, scorched earth, and graphite. It’s balanced, has perfectly integrated oak, freshness and richness, and a great finish. It’s one of the finest Pinot Noirs from this vineyard in 2020. Drink it any time over the coming 10-12 years, and it will keep even longer if you’re so inclined.Dragonette Cellars, led by John and Steve Dragonette and Brandon Sparks-Gillis, continues to produce some of the greatest wines in the vintage. They unquestionably make some of the most singular, age-worth Sauvignon Blancs from the Central Coast, and both their Pinot Noirs and Syrahs are world-class. Looking at the vintages reviewed here, both 2019 and 2020 are great vintages at this address. I think the nod might go to the 2019s at this point, but you can’t go wrong with any of these. $75 96
18 2019 Ramey Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard + As with the other Chardonnays in the lineup, the 2019 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard was aged for 20 months in 20% new French oak. The nose has a more spiced character, with baking spice, orange blossom, and fresh dough. The palate is similarly spiced and concentrated with ripe pear and tension through the finish. Drink 2024-2036. $75 95
19 2019 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon Old Vines + The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Old Vines, which has been made since 1981, comes from a mix of Sagemoor, Weinbau, Champoux, and the Woodward Canyon Vineyards and was brought up in 100% new French oak. It has a beautiful perfume of cassis and mulberry fruit as well as notes of new leather, lead pencil shavings, exotic flowers, and spice. It’s medium to full-bodied on the palate and shows the ripe, supple, seamless style of the vintage nicely. As with all these 2019s, it offers pleasure today yet will evolve for 20+ years. $99 95
20 2020 Delas Freres Hermitage Domaine Des Tourettes Blanc + I was absolutely blown away by the 2020 Hermitage Domaine Des Tourettes Blanc, a rich, powerful expression of Marsanne (there’s 10% Roussanne as well) from the L’Ermite, le Sabot, and La Tourette lieux-dits, brought up in a mix of new and used barrels. Revealing a vivid gold hue, it just about jumps out of the glass with its exotic nose of honeyed quince, acacia flowers, buttered pears, chalky minerality, spice, and licorice. The purity is off the charts, and it has full-bodied richness, a deep, plush, opulent mouthfeel, perfect balance, and a great, great finish. It’s the finest vintage of this cuvée to date, and readers who love the richer, powerful style of Hermitage should do their best to snatch bottles up. I suspect the acidity is moderate, but it holds onto a riveting sense of freshness and has this liqueur of rock-like sensation on the finish, and it will stand toe to toe with anything out there. I would enjoy bottles over the coming 4-6 years or so and then, at that point, do my best to hold off until 2032 or after. Predicting drink windows for great Hermitage Blanc can be tricky, but this is worth buying multiple bottles and drinking in its youth, then taking a chance with a few in the cellar. There are roughly 400 cases made in each vintage. $110 100
21 2019 Saxum James Berry Vineyard + The 2019 James Berry Vineyard checks in as 58% Grenache, 27% Mataro, 6% Syrah, 6% Graciano, and 3% Counoise that spent 21 months in 79% new French oak. It would stand up in a lineup of top Châteauneuf du Pape and has a gorgeous bouquet of black raspberries, ground pepper, flowery incense, and loamy earth. Pure, full-bodied, ultra-fine, and seamless, it builds with time in the glass, has ripe tannins, and a great finish. It shines just as much for its elegance and class as it does for its power and richness. It needs to be forgotten for 3-5 years but will be a 20- to 25-year wine from this estate.I was able to taste three vintages from Saxum, the late release 2019s from bottle, the majority of the 2020 lineup from barrel, and a handful of 2021 barrel samples. As I wrote last year, the 2019s are just brilliant, ripe, hedonistic, magical wines, and these late releases only reinforce that opinion. Looking at the 2020s, this is clearly a challenging vintage, with many wines having subtle smoky nuances and firmer yet still ripe tannins. Justin commented that the lab numbers regarding smoke taint were very low, so I think these are safe wines that will offer plenty of pleasure, although this is not a vintage to hide in the cellar. The 2021s that I was able to taste were terrific, and this will clearly be another terrific vintage here. In addition, they’ve planted a new vineyard located just four miles off the Pacific, the Cayucos Ridge Vineyard, and I expect we’ll see more releases from that site in the future. $124 99
22 2020 Domaine De Marcoux Chateauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes + One of the world’s greatest expressions of Grenache year-in and year-out, the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes is all varietal that was brought up in larger foudre. This cuvée comes from the Charbonnieres and Les Esqueirons lieux-dits, which are mostly more sandy soils. Its deeper purple color is followed by a concentrated, medium to full-bodied, powerful yet elegant Grenache offering ripe cherry and darker berry fruits, notes of ground pepper, garrigue, and licorice, ripe yet certainly present tannins, and a great finish. Reminding me slightly of the 2006, which is drinking brilliantly today, it’s going to offer incredible pleasure over its lengthy life. Give bottles 2-3 years and enjoy over the following two decades. $160 97
23 2019 Ad Vivum Cabernet Sauvignon Sleeping Lady Vineyard + A gorgeous wine from Chris Phelps, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Sleeping Lady Vineyard sports a dense purple hue as well as awesome aromatics of cassis, violets, flowers, and spicy oak. It’s young and unevolved, with medium to full-bodied richness, silky tannins, flawless balance, and a great finish. It ranks with the finest wines I’ve tasted from this vineyard. All Cabernet aged 20 months in 70% new French oak, it has two decades or more of prime drinking ahead of it. $175 97
24 2019 Sine Qua Non Grenache Distenta 1 + The 2019 Grenache Distenta 1, which was tasted from bottle, is cut from the same cloth as the 2020, although it’s a touch more focused and elegant. Black raspberries, white pepper, new saddle leather, and beautiful floral and spicy notes all soar from the glass, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with a seamless, layered mouthfeel, beautiful tannins, and a great finish. The blend is 76% Grenache, 9.3% Syrah, 8% Mourvèdre, and the rest Petite Sirah and Viognier that saw 43.5% whole clusters and 23 months in 26% new French oak, with 6.8% in concrete and the balance in used oak. It’s another sensational wine from this estate that flirts with perfection.I’ve been visiting with Sine Qua Non for a decade now, and I never cease to be amazed at the quality consistently coming from this address. In addition, Krankl somehow manages to deliver brilliance with just about any variety out there, and whether it’s Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Touriga Nacional, Roussanne, or even Petit Manseng, you can expect a truly riveting wine, as well as a wine with singular characteristics. Unfortunately, it’s all too common, particularly for those who don’t drink the wines often, to assume all California cult wines are over-ripe or heavy. The reality, however, couldn’t be more different, and great wines deliver intensity and depth while staying light on their feet and elegant. And these latest releases from Sine Qua Non are great wines. $190 99
25 NV Krug Champagne 170th Edition + From vintages spanning from 1998 to 2014, the NV Champagne 170th Edition is decadent and nuanced, with a rounded perfume of toasted brioche, lemon curd, and honeydew melon. Ripe yellow orchard fruits fill the palate with nectarine, fresh grapefruit pith, and a core of acidity. This is showing wonderfully now, although it still has the tension to go for the next 20 years. $225 95+
26 2019 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse De Lalande + Pure class, the 2019 Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse De Lalande is another brilliant wine from director Nicolas Glumineau that checks in at the top of the vintage. A blend of 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Franc that was harvested from mid-September through October 8th. Brought up in roughly 60% new French oak, it hit 14.1% natural alcohol with a pH of 3.7. More elegant and poised from bottle than barrel, it offers a brilliant perfume of crème de cassis, lead pencil shavings, tobacco leaf, damp earth, and graphite. Deep, full-bodied, and pure perfection on the palate, it has this incredible marriage of Latour-like stature and regalness buffered by wonderful, sexy, seamless fruit, which no doubt comes from the higher Merlot content and makes Comtesse de Lalande so singular and unique. It builds slowly with time in the glass and has remarkable purity of fruit, ultra-fine tannins, perfect balance, and a finish that just begs you to pour another glass. It has a seductive, seamless profile that offers pleasure even today (although it needs lots of air to show at its best) yet needs 7-8 years of bottle age to hit the early stages of its prime drink window and will evolve for another 40-50 years if stored properly. $252 99
27 2019 TOP Precession + Kirsch, ripe black cherries, pepper, incense, and some bloody, meaty nuances emerge from the 2019 Precession, a big, rich, full-bodied Grenache with a great mid-palate, building tannins, and a terrific finish. This pleasure-bent, sexy, complex Grenache will drink well for 7-8 years or more. This is one seriously hedonistic, sexy effort that’s beautifully done. The blend is 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah that’s from a mix of sites (Jada, Coastview, G2, and Slide Hill), brought up in just 14% new French oak.Another rising star in Paso Robles, Stanley Barrios’s TOP estate produces a bevy of terrific Rhône variety blends. In addition to the current releases, I was able to taste through a small retrospective of some older vintages, all of which showed beautifully. If you haven’t heard of this estate yet, now is a good time to check them out. $85 97
28 2020 Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf Du Pape Deus-Ex Machina + A much more powerful wine based on 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre, the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape Deus-Ex Machina reminds me slightly of the 2011 with its spicy, perfumed, complex bouquet of red and black fruits, dried flowers, pepper, and Provençal herbs, with more gamey, meaty notes emerging with time in the glass. Full-bodied on the palate, it’s balanced, has ultra-fine yet building tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. It needs a solid 4-5 years of bottle age and should have 20+ of overall longevity. $110 97
29 2018 Domaine Clape Cornas + The 2018 Cornas is a classic wine from this renowned estate that’s 100% Syrah, mostly from the Reynard lieu-dit, brought up all in ancient foudre and casks. This is as classic and old school as they come, and the 2018 is as Clape as it gets with its bloody blue fruits, liquid violet, smoked game, pepper, bay leaf, and iron-like aromas and flavors. More medium to full-bodied on the palate, it doesn’t have the sheer richness of the 2015 or 2017, and if anything, reminds me slightly of the 2016 with its incredible purity, balance, and finesse. The structure and tannins, which were more up-front and present from barrel, have a more round, seamless feel that gives this some up-front appeal. Granted, I followed this bottle for multiple days, and it certainly benefited from lots of air. This is a vintage that could certainly continue to offer pleasure over the coming decade and never really shut down, yet I suspect this will firm up quickly over the coming 2-4 years and require at least a decade of bottle age to really show its true potential. I promise, you will not be disappointed to have this in your cellar. $178 97+
30 2014 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal + Sourced from 39 plots, the 2014 Champagne Cristal is 60% Pinot Noir and the remainder Chardonnay, with 32% aged in oak, and it has 7 grams per liter dosage. It is highly expressive of classic elegance and purity, revealing aromas of crushed rock, almond croissant, and perfume of citrus blossoms. The palate is hyper-refined in its mousse, with pinpoint bubbles, a subtly rounded mid-palate, an irresistible chalky texture, and energy throughout its long and floral finish. Everything about this feels perfectly tailored. Drink 2024-2044. $360 98
31 2018 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges De Latour Private Reserve + The flagship 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Georges De Latour Private Reserve is a gorgeous wine from this team that’s reminiscent of the 2016, if not slightly more tannic. Blackcurrants, cassis, tobacco leaf, and nicely integrated oak all make an appearance, and it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a beautiful sense of purity and freshness, flawless balance, and a great finish. It has plenty of structure and, like a lot of 2018s, not a huge amount of baby fat, which gives it a firmer, more age-worthy vibe. While it’s unquestionably approachable today, do your best to hide bottles for 4-5 years, and it should have a gradual evolution over the coming 20-25 years. I followed this bottle for multiple days and it only improved. It’s brilliant, seamless wine in the making. $130 97+
32 2020 Tensley Syrah Turner Vineyard + The finest vintage for this cuvée I’ve ever tasted, the 2020 Syrah Turner Vineyard is all Syrah from a site on the northern edge of Sta. Rita Hills, in a higher elevation, cooler location, that saw a touch of whole clusters (15%) and aging all in neutral barrels. It offers a stunning array of ripe blue fruits paired with cool-climate-like notes of white pepper, smoked game, and spring flowers. Deep, opulent, and loaded with fruit on the palate, it’s a singular beauty in this lineup that does everything right. You can safely drink this beauty today, yet this cuvée also ages gracefully, and will continue drinking fabulously well for at least another 15 years or so.This was another brilliant lineup of wines from Joey Tensley. Looking at the 2020s reviewed here, these share plenty of similarities with his 2018s, and maybe the 2019s, and are rich, powerful wines that show the warmer style of the vintage. The 2021s on the other hand, clearly come from a cooler year and show more medium-bodied, fresher styles. Nevertheless, these are still classic Tensley wines that bring plenty of texture and opulence. In addition, Tensley has launched a new P2KV lineup of wines with a focus on old, pre-2000 vines in Santa Barbara County. $46 99
33 2020 Domaine De Beaurenard Chateauneuf Du Pape Boisrenard + The flagship from this great estate is the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape Boisrenard, which is based on 80% Grenache and small doses of 17 other varieties. This deeply hued beauty offers a stunning bouquet of blackberries, scorched earth, licorice, ground pepper, and sappy garrigue. I always find a Burgundian-like texture on this wine, and the 2020 is no exception – this is one to put into a blind tasting of Grand Cru Red Burgundies and shock your friends. Medium to full-bodied, ultra-pure, with grippy, sappy tannins, flawless balance, and a great finish, it’s pure class all the way. It’s going to need at least 4-6 years of bottle age, but this is a wine you don’t want to miss, and one of the finest wines I’ve tasted from this estate. $80 99
34 2019 Chateau Brane-Cantenac + One of the standout Margaux, the 2019 Château Brane-Cantenac shows more elegance and finesse in its tannins and structure than most. Giving up a beautifully complex nose of cassis and black raspberry fruits as well as cedary spice and spring flowers, it’s medium to full-bodied on the palate, has a seamless mouthfeel, beautiful purity and precision, and a great finish. This is certainly the finest vintage I’ve tasted from this Chateau, surpassing even the 2018, although comparing these two vintages side by side over the coming years will be a true treat. Drink this beauty any time over the coming 20-25 years. $81 96
35 2019 Bergstrom Pinot Noir Winery Block + The 2019 Pinot Noir Winery Block offers a perfume of pure red cherry, cinnamon, and cedar. The palate is pure and inviting with candied cherry, offering great freshness and lift as well as a long-lasting impression on the finish. I love this wine for its balance and clarity. Drink 2024-2034. $84 95
36 2019 Chateau De Saint Cosme Gigondas Le Poste + Lastly, and a perfect wine, the 2019 Gigondas Le Poste comes from a tiny vineyard located just across the street from the domaine, and as with all these single vineyard releases, it’s 100% Grenache, not destemmed, and aged in mostly used Burgundy barrels. Luis compares the vintage to 1998, and I can’t disagree with him, as the wines are powerful yet structured. Incredible notes of cassis, currants, scorched earth, and wildflowers all show on the nose, and it’s full-bodied and perfectly balanced, with ultra-fine tannins, no hard edges, and an incredible finish. It’s as good as anything out there. Hats off to the genius of Louis Barruol, and readers should snag as much of this as they can. It will ideally be given 4-5 years of bottle age and will evolve for two decades. $94 100
37 2019 Familiar Air Cabernet Sauvignon + I loved the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Malbec. There are a scant 200 cases made, but it’s a brilliant wine loaded with dark, chocolaty fruit as well as hints of flowers and earthy minerality. Medium to full-bodied, ripe, textured, yet always balanced and fresh, I’d be thrilled to drink a bottle any time over the coming 15+ years. $95 95
38 2019 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron + Based on 87% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Merlot raised in 80% new French oak, the 2019 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron is pure class and just a beautiful, seamless Pauillac that does everything right. Revealing a deep purple hue as well textbook notes of blackcurrants, smoked tobacco, freshly sharpened pencils, and liquid violets, it shows the more medium to full-bodied, elegant style of the vintage yet is brilliantly concentrated, has a supple, layered mouthfeel, ripe yet building tannins, and a great, great finish. It’s more open and expressive than Mouton and shares plenty of similarities with Comtesse with its layered, supple, just perfectly balanced and classy style. It unquestionably already offers pleasure today (and it’s a good time to try a bottle, as I wouldn’t be surprised to see it close down), but it will need a decade to hit maturity and it will be a 50-year wine. $175 98+
39 2019 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley + All Cabernet Sauvignon that’s 90% from Champoux and 10% from Mach One (both in Horse Heaven Hills), the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley spent 20-22 months in all new French oak. Gorgeous cassis, flowery incense, lead pencil shavings, camphor, and spicy oak all soar from the glass, and it’s full-bodied, has a deep, layered, incredibly layered mouthfeel, gorgeous tannins, no hard edges, and a great, great finish. It’s another sensationally complex, layered, textured beauty from this team that’s world class in every way. It shows the elegant, seamless style of the vintage and is perfectly balanced. It should evolve for 30-40 years. $200 99
40 2019 Verite La Joie + Composed of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and the remainder of Petit Verdot, the 2019 La Joie is compact and unfolds more slowly in the glass. The nose is rich with graphite, sage oil, and black plum. The palate is full of kirsch, fresh leather, currant, and tobacco, with fine tannins that go for ages, along with the fruit and well-balanced acidity. This will warrant 3-5 years cellar to express its full potential over the following 20 years. $425 99
41 2019 Denner Vineyards Dirt Worshipper + Gorgeous aromatics of ripe blackberries, smoked meats, ground pepper, and iron emerge from the 2019 Dirt Worshipper, a ripe, full-bodied, sweetly fruited, sexy Syrah that has a great mix of cooler climate, Old World-like aromatics paired with some rocking Paso Robles fruit and texture. The blend is 98% Syrah and 2% Roussanne, 65% destemmed, and aged 20 months in 25% new French oak. Drink bottles over the coming decade.Made by Anthony Yount, you can’t go wrong with any of these latest releases from Denner Vineyards. These are pure Paso Robles gold across the board. $85 96
42 2019 Johann Michel Cornas + A wine readers should snatch up is the 2019 Cornas from Johan Michel, a majestic, full-bodied, incredibly seamless beauty that does everything right. It certainly shows the ripe, sunny style of the vintage and brings ample fruit, richness, and power, yet it still has incredible focus as well as purity and freshness. Black raspberries, cassis, blueberries, violets, bacon fat, and peppery notes all emerge from the glass, and it has no hard edges and a sensational mouthfeel that keeps you coming back to the glass. It will evolve for 15 years or more, and I doubt it will ever close down. Those who like ripe, sexy, yet still pure, focused, and flawlessly balanced Cornas should back up the truck for this sensational wine. $55 95+
43 2019 Chateau Latour-Martillac + I loved the 2019 Château Latour-Martillac, and I under-rated it from barrel. Revealing a dense ruby/plum color as well as a gorgeous bouquet of blackcurrants, black cherry, smoked tobacco, gravely earth, and chocolate, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a round, layered mouthfeel, supple tannins, and one heck of a finish. It’s beautifully done and will cruise for 25+ years in cold cellars. It needs plenty of air if drinking any time soon. $45 96
44 2019 Becklyn Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Vineyard Pangkarra + Nearing the ranks of the crème de la crème of the vintage, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Vineyard Pangkarra is a top barrel selection made by winemaker Mike Smith. It has beautifully integrated acidity, tannins, and oak as well as a smorgasbord-like bouquet of crème de cassis, chocolate, flowery incense, unsmoked tobacco, and lead pencil. Just about as good as it gets on the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, silky, and straight-up irresistible. Drink this beauty any time over the coming 20-25 years. $175 97
45 2019 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion + The 2019 Château La Mission Haut-Brion is Merlot-dominated, checking in as 53% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Cabernet Franc. It’s a more opulent wine compared to Haut-Brion, and the Merlot is front and center here, with ripe, sexy black cherry and redcurrant fruits as well as licorice, scorched earth, cedar pencil, and graphite aromas and flavors. Rich, exuberant, and straight up sexy on the palate, it’s full-bodied, has a deep, layered mid-palate, building tannins, and a heavenly finish. Just a prodigious, powerful, off-the-charts expression of this terroir, it actually reminds me slightly of the 2005 (or 1998?) with its mix of sexiness and opulence. This is one of the few 2019s that will make your eyes roll back in your head. It will need 10-15 years of cellaring, but it’s a sensational wine on every level and will have 40+ years of prime drinking. $396 100
46 2020 Domaine De Fondreche Ventoux Il Etait Une Fois + Black raspberries, wild strawberries, new leather, white pepper, chalky mineral, and violet notes all emerge from the 2020 Ventoux Il Etait Une Fois, another medium to full-bodied, incredibly seamless wine from this great estate. It has an undeniable sense of minerality, plenty of ripe, sexy Grenache character, present yet perfectly ripe tannins, and a great finish. This stunning Ventoux will benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age and keep for over a decade. $75 96
47 2019 Liminal Syrah High Canyon Series + The 2019 Syrah High Canyon Series is flat-out gorgeous and one of the standouts in the lineup. Beautiful ripe red and blue fruits, peppery herbs, chocolate, and spice all define the bouquet, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with a round, layered, seamless profile, no hard edges, perfect balance, and a great finish. This is Red Mountain Syrah at its finest. Bravo! $80 97
48 2019 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate + The 2019 Chaleur Estate is a Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend that includes 24% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. Where the Harrison Hill always reminds me of a great Margaux, this is more St. Julien or Pauillac in style with its darker currants, crushed stone, spicy oak, and lead pencil aromas and flavors. Medium to full-bodied, wonderfully balanced, elegant, and seamless, it has enough background oak to warrant 2-4 years of bottle age (it’s far from unapproachable, though) and will have 20-25 years of overall longevity. It’s another gorgeous wine from this estate.Winemaker Jason Gorski continues to do a great job with these Delille Cellars releases, and the 2019s are terrific across the board. I was able to taste numerous 2020 barrel samples, and I have concerns regarding smoke taint on these wines. I’ll taste them again from bottle, but I would proceed with caution on these. $90 95
49 2019 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon + Including 20% Cabernet Franc, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is a hidden gem. While the Maya gets all the attention, the classic Cabernet Sauvignon from this team is insanely good, year-in, year-out. The 2019 sports a dense purple color as well as quintessential Cabernet notes of cassis, black raspberries, flowers, toasted spices, and tobacco leaf. The purity of fruit is incredible, it’s full-bodied, has silky tannins, and flawless balance. It has 30 years of prime drinking ahead of it. $300 97
50 2015 Robert Moncuit Champagne Grand Cru Les Chetillons Extra Brut + The 2015 Champagne Grand Cru Les Chetillons Extra Brut has more tension and focus despite the warmth that was brought by the 2015 vintage. Youthful and fresh, the nose is tense with energy of lime zest, chalk, and green apple that will take time to open. The palate is dry and focused, with more concentration of fresh citrus of lemon, fantastic, pure, chalky texture, and a firm backbone of acidity. There is a hint of phenolic texture on the finish and the structure to age for two to three decades. Drink 2025-2045. Disgorged March 2020, it has 2 grams per liter dosage.Pierre Amillet exclusively works with Grand Cru Chardonnay from Mesnil sur Oger and Oger over nine hectares. Having taken over in 2000, he is the fourth generation of winegrowers in the Côte de Blancs since 1889. He presses and ferments each parcel separately, and stainless steel is used for debourbage and for reserve wines. After debourbage, the juice is gravity fed into barrique, and all the wines see full malolactic fermentation and rest on the lees in barrel for nine months. In Mesnil sur Oger, his key holdings are in Les Chetillon, since 2008, and in Oger, a single plot of the younger, north-facing site of Les Vozemeiux. For Les Chetillons and Les Vozemeiux, the bottles are aged under cork as they spend a longer period aging, while the other cuvées are aged under crown cap prior to disgorgement. Historically, he has used low levels of dosage; however, two years ago he made the decision to move to zero dosage added across the range. $160 95
51 2020 Paul Hobbs Chardonnay Edward James Estate + The 2020 Chardonnay Edward James Estate shows off this site with richness and purity. The nose is perfumed with warming spice, honeysuckle, and ripe apricot. It offers an incredible arch of fruit through the mid-palate that tapers slowly, with orange oil, pastry cream, and Asian pear. Drink over the next 10 years. $90 96
52 2017 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon + A brilliant, youthful, unevolved wine that will give Ridge’s Monte Bello a run for its money, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon reveals a deep ruby/purple hue to go with a wonderful perfume of blackcurrants, blueberries, lead pencil, vanilla bean, exotic flowers, tobacco, and bouquet garni. Needing plenty of air to show at its best, it’s medium to full-bodied on the palate and has a concentrated, powerful style, ripe tannins, flawless balance, and a great finish. A blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Petit Verdot and Malbec, aged in used French and American oak, it’s going to benefit from 4-6 years of bottle age and, I suspect, have 30-40 years of overall longevity. $110 97+
53 NV Charles Heidsieck Champagne Charlie (2017) + The NV Champagne Charlie (2017) is the first release since the 1985 “vintage.” The new rendition embraces the long-held emphasis for this cuvée on reserve wine (despite having previously been labelled as a vintage wine) and now represents 80% of the blend, with only 20% from the base vintage of 2016, the oldest of the reserve wines going back to 1998. The wine is fantastically detailed and unfolds with layers of delicate smoky perfume, peach, and citrus blossoms. A refined and delicate mousse wraps around a core of orchard fruits, quince, and chalk. There is impeccable detail with this edition that will continue to improve over the coming decades. Drink 2024-2044.Current cellar master Cyril Brun took over the position at Charles Heidsieck in 2015, having previously worked for LVMH at Veuve Clicquot for 15 years. Mr. Brun has been bold in taking the house into its next chapter by making advancements in the winery while also paying homage to the history of the house. First, he reintroduced old vinification principals of only using old barrels. He also began trials right away in 2015 to bring back the Champagne Charlie Cuvée, with the first edition, the 2017, just released into the market. Champagne Charlie was always labeled as a vintage wine, but it is now known to have been a blended style heavily reliant on reserve wines. The last release of the cuvée was the 1985 “vintage,” and the current release date coincides with Charles-Camille Heidsieck’s bicentennial. On the innovative side, Brun is using jetting technique at disgorgement for oxygen management, the idea being to expose the wine early to oxygen, and then to close it in order to best preserve the wine’s longevity and freshness. He has also expanded the range of cuvees while honoring previous cuvées. 2018 brought the relaunch of the Blanc de Blancs, a blended style from ten crus, from different years, with the initial release base coming from the 2016 vintage. Brun’s goal is to balance the opulence of the house style with freshness and preserve their hallmark silky texture throughout the range. Looking to the future, this house is providing a lot to be excited about, with an increasingly distinctive and diverse portfolio. $670 97
54 2020 Domaine Jean Royer Chateauneuf Du Pape Prestige + The 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape Prestige is an 80/20 split of Grenache and Mourvedre. It has a rocking bouquet of ripe black raspberry and cherry liqueur fruit as well as ground pepper, sappy flowers, sandalwood, and loamy earth. Medium to full-bodied, ripe, and textured, with beautiful overall balance, it’s another finesse-driven beauty from this estate that’s going to put a smile on your face any time over the coming 10-12 years or more.The talented Jean-Marie Royer continues to make a ripe, sexy, yet incredibly elegant style of Châteauneuf du Pape that readers will love. In addition to his three Grenache-driven Châteauneuf du Pape (classic, Prestige, and Les Sables de la Crau), he also released a Syrah-driven Châteauneuf Du Pape Sola Syrah Regalis in 2020, which is certainly one of the finest Syrah-driven wines I’ve tasted from the Southern Rhône. $55 94
55 2019 Chateau Le Bon Pasteur + From the talented Michel Rolland, the 2019 Château Le Bon Pasteur shines for its richness as well as its elegance. Ripe black cherries, currants, tobacco leaf, chocolate, and floral notes all define the bouquet, and it has the vintage’s fresher, pure, vibrant style in both its aromas and flavors. Medium to full-bodied on the palate, it has fabulous tannins, a seamless, layered mouthfeel, no hard edges, and a great finish. It’s already hard to resist yet has another 20-25 years of prime drinking ahead of it. $65 95
56 2020 Fulldraw Vineyard Drift + The 2020 Drift is Clairette-dominated and offers a straight-up thrilling nose of honeyed citrus, chalky minerality, pineapple, and white flowers, with just a kiss of background spicy wood. Medium-bodied, concentrated, and vibrant, it has integrated acidity, beautiful overall balance, and a great finish. I love it.Connor McMahon’s Full Draw Vineyard clearly ranks with the top estates in Paso Robles today. Their 2020s showed well, but readers should also try to find some of their 2019s, which were reviewed last year. $65 95
57 2019 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte + Reminding me a little of the 2009, the 2019 Château Smith Haut Lafitte has a rich, powerful style in its cassis, blueberry, and black raspberry fruit as well as its chalky minerality, smoked earth, tobacco, and lead pencil shaving-like aromas and flavors. A blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Petit Verdot, this rich, unctuously textured beauty has terrific concentration, sweet tannins, and the vintage’s hallmark elegance and finesse. One of the most concentrated, powerful wines in the vintage, it needs 4-5 years of bottle age (or a healthy decant) and will evolve for 30+ years if stored properly. Not enough can be said about what proprietors Daniel and Florence Cathiard, as well as winemaker Fabien Teitgen, continue to achieve at this estate. $120 98
58 2018 Staglin Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon + I was able to taste two wines from Staglin Family, both showing brilliantly. An utterly ultra-classic Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon from Staglin sports a deep ruby/plum color to go with a gorgeous bouquet of ripe blackcurrant and blackberry fruits as well as spicy oak, chocolate, smoked tobacco, and lead pencil shavings. Full-bodied, perfectly balanced, rich, and opulent, yet also pure and precise, this might be the finest vintage of this cuvée ever produced. It will benefit from 4-5 years of bottle age and has 40-50 years of longevity ahead of it. $335 98+
59 2019 Blair Fox Cellars Syrah Kimsey Vineyard + The 2019 Syrah Kimsey Vineyard comes from the Ballard Canyon region and is a deep purple-hued Syrah loaded with notions of ripe black fruits, ground pepper, cumin, leather, and hints of iron. Medium-bodied on the palate, with ripe tannins and good overall balance, it reminds me of a solid Hermitage with its meaty, savory, almost bloody style. It benefits from a decant, has the tannins and structure to benefit from short-term bottle age, and will drink brilliantly for over a decade. It’s another screamingly good Syrah from Blair that readers should snatch up. $55 97
60 2019 Peter Michael Les Pavots + The 2019 Les Pavots is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, and the remainder Petit Verdot. It has unfolding layers of dark minerals, with graphite, boysenberry liqueur, and fresh leather. The palate is expressive of its mountain fruit, with more gripping structure but no harsh edges. This is a remarkable wine to hold a few years and enjoy over the following two decades.Sir Peter Michael founded his eponymous winery in 1982, after having been inspired by the wine of Chateau Montelena, which led him to California. In 2020, Robert Fiore took the helm as winemaker, but the previous winemaker, Luc Morlet, remains as a consultant. Robert studied at the Colorado School of Mines, which led him to a career in environmental geophysics, before finding his path into the world of wine. He went on to UC Davis to study Viticulture and Enology. Most recently, Robert was a member of the winemaking team at Continuum in Napa. Vineyard manager Javier Avina has championed the land since 1991. Each of the sites are steep hillsides that modulate with varied exposition and soils in the Knights Valley. Sir Peter’s son Paul and his wife Emily oversee the management of the winery today. $225 98
61 2020 Beckmen Vineyards Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard + Blueberries, mulberries, peppery herbs, and some flower notes all emerge from the 2020 Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard, a medium to full-bodied, fruit-forward, plush, sexy little gem of a Syrah that will offer loads of pleasure over the coming 4-6 years or more. This was completely destemmed and brought up in 35% new French oak.Beckmen Vineyards continues to produce charming, character-filled, impeccably made wines from their estate in Santa Ynez. Both 2019 and 2020 are strong vintages here, and the lineup is packed with solid wines. $36 92
62 2019 Domaine Brusset Gigondas Les Hauts De Montmirail + Moving to the 2019 Gigondas Les Hauts De Montmirail, which is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and the rest Mourvèdre from a higher elevation, terraced vineyard, it has incredible cassis and darker berry fruit characteristics as well as complex notes of sappy garrigue, ground pepper, flowers, and chalky minerality. It’s perfectly balanced, has ultra-fine tannins, remarkable purity, and one heck of a great finish. There are a tiny 1,000 cases produced, but do your best to latch onto a few bottles. It’s going to drink fabulously well for upwards of two decades. $40 96
63 2020 Domaine De Ferrand Chateauneuf Du Pape + I continue to love what vigneron Philippe Bravay accomplishes from his estate in the northern part of the appellation, and his 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape is another finesse-driven, incredibly beautiful expression of this magical region. Based on 85% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, and the rest a mix of permitted varieties, it was partially destemmed and brought up in equal parts stainless steel and concrete tanks. It offers a huge perfume of ripe strawberries and red fruits as well as sappy flowers, garrigue, and Provençal herbs. This carries to a medium to full-bodied, balanced, incredibly seamless Châteauneuf du Pape with no hard edges, ultra-fine tannins, and a great finish. I’d be a buyer. This will put a smile on your face any time over the coming 10-15 years. $54 95
64 2019 M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits + The 2019 Saint Joseph Les Granits is another rich, mouth-filling, structured wine from the team at Chapoutier that will benefit from bottle age. Black cherries, truffle, subtle smoke, and ground herbs all emerge from the glass, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with building tannins and a great finish. Hide bottles for 4-5 years and enjoy over the following 15. $90 95+
65 2019 Chateau Rauzan-Segla + The Grand Vin 2019 Château Rauzan-Ségla is beautiful, and it seems this estate can do no wrong since 2015. A more elegant, ethereal, complex Margaux, it has a perfumed and complex style in its red, blue, and black fruits as well as notes of white flowers, chalky minerality, and exotic spices. Haute couture at its finest and seamless, medium to full-bodied, perfectly balanced, and just stunning any way you look at it, it already offers pleasure today yet will easily have 30 years of prime drinking. $120 97
66 2019 Fe Wines Cabernet Sauvignon + Even better, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is a bigger, richer wine based on 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec, and the rest Cabernet Franc. Flat-out sensational notes of blackcurrants, scorched earth, tobacco, and a crushed rock-like sense of minerality define the nose, and it’s full-bodied, deep, rich, and concentrated. It picks up a hint of iron with time in the glass, and while it’s already accessible, it deserves 4-5 years of bottle age and will cruise for two decades or more. This is another thrilling wine from this team that readers should snatch up. $175 99
67 2020 Wayfarer Chardonnay Cuvee Cleo + The 2020 Chardonnay Cuvée Cleo takes on more depth, with orange flower, pineapple, and beeswax. Up front, the palate is ripe with golden orchard fruit and apricot, as well as orange peel and a hint of warming spice. The palate is full and opulent, with a suspended yet clean texture, making this an incredibly elegant and profound wine. Drink it over the next 10 or more years. $175 98+
68 2020 Bien Nacido Estate Estate Pinot Noir + I loved the nose on the 2020 Estate Pinot Noir, which offers a wild assortment of red and black berries, sappy herbs, flowers, iron, and exotic baking spices. These carry to a medium-bodied, concentrated, focused, age-worthy Pinot Noir with beautiful depth of fruit, ripe tannins, and a great finish. Give it a year or two and enjoy over the following decade. I followed this bottle for multiple days, and it only got better. It’s unquestionably a thrilling, brilliant wine. This was all destemmed and spent 16 months in 43% new French oak.These are brilliant wines across the board from Bien Nacido’s Anthony Avila, who has been at the estate since 2013. The farming here is managed by Chris Hammell, and this all-star team is delivering the goods. $60 96
69 2019 Mt. Brave Cabernet Franc + Black fruits, scorched earth, graphite, toasted spice, and some chalky minerality all emerge from the 2019 Cabernet Franc. It’s a straight, focused, layered Cabernet Franc that’s going to benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age. $90 95
70 2020 Beau Marchais Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard Est + Gorgeous stuff, with vibrant plum, mulberry, iron, violets, and spice, the 2020 Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard Est has a thrilling texture, medium to full-bodied, ultra-fine tannins, and one heck of a great finish. It’s a “wow” Pinot Noir for sure. All destemmed and aged in new oak, it can be enjoyed any time over the coming decade. It brings a beautiful mix of richness and elegance, which isn’t easy to pull off.First produced in 2019, Beau Marchais is a collaboration between California-based Adam Lee (Siduri and Clarice) and Southern Rhône superstar Philippe Cambie. Due to widespread smoke issues in the Santa Lucia Highlands in 2020, Adam opted to only release two Pinot Noirs from the Sta. Rita Hills (which wasn’t affected by smoke) in 2020. The wines are brilliant and well worth seeking out. With the passing of Philippe Cambie in 2021, the 2021 releases will be the last wines produced under this label. $95 97
71 2019 Andre Perret Condrieu Chery + A bigger, richer wine and just about pure perfection, the 2019 Condrieu Chery is full-bodied and concentrated on the palate, with incredible purity as well as length. Lots of peach, lychee, pineapple, and exotic flowers notes, as well as fabulous minerality, define the aromatics and I seriously considered a triple digit rating on the beauty. Perfectly balanced, with a distinct sense of salinity on the finish, readers should beg, borrow, or steal to try this incredible Condrieu. $115 98
72 2019 Realm The Bard + The 2019 The Bard checks in as 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot, and it’s another dense, rich, powerful wine from this team that readers are going to absolutely love. Coming from throughout the valley (it’s always a great representation of the vintage), it offers up a brilliant nose of crème de cassis, ripe plums, graphite, scorched earth, and chocolate. About as seamless as they come on the palate, it’s full-bodied and has a thrilling texture, building tannins, and a gorgeous finish. It’s one of those wines where I feel like I’m overusing adjectives, but it’s warranted. $120 99
73 2019 Seduire Le Flirt + Starting with the 2019s, the 2019 Le Flirt is all Grenache that spent 18 months in neutral French oak barrels. Its deeper ruby/purple hue gives way to Châteauneuf-like nose of mulled black cherries, iron, peppery herbs, and licorice. Ripe, medium to full-bodied, and brilliantly balanced, it has terrific tannins and one heck of a great finish. It’s brilliant and easily the finest wine I’ve tasted from this site.Sedurie was created in 2013 by Charles and Lara Liu with the planting of their estate vineyard in the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles. Unfortunately, Lara was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2014 and passed away in February 2020 after a six-year battle. Charles is still actively involved in the running of the estate, and the wines are made by Guillaume Fabre and Aurelien Crouzet today. Looking at the wines reviewed here, the 2019s are easily the finest releases I’ve tasted from the estate, with the 2020s, coming from a more challenging year, nevertheless showing beautifully. $105 95
74 2020 Domaine Durieu Chateauneuf Du Pape Lucile Avril + Lastly, and surpassing what the estate achieved in 2019, the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape Lucile Avril is based on 80% Grenache and 10% each of Syrah and Mourvedre that was brought up all in concrete tanks. It’s the deepest ruby-colored wine in the lineup and boasts a brilliant perfume of pure blackberries, ground pepper, licorice, dried garrigue, leather, and Asian spice. Pure, seamless, incredibly elegant, and full-bodied, it’s another straight-up gorgeous wine from this team that readers will love to have in their cellar.Another impeccably run estate in the Southern Rhone is that of Domaine Durieu, which is run today by the talented Vincent Durieu. The estate makes a terrific white and three reds, with the classic cuvée based largely around Grenache with 10% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre, their single vineyard Lieu-Dit Bois Lauzon being 80-100% Grenache depending on the vintage, and their flagship Lucile Avril a similar blend of 80% Grenache with 10% each of Syrah and Mourvedre. All of these deliver beautiful Provençal character and are worth having in your cellar. $40 96
75 2020 Walter Scott Chardonnay Cuvee Anne + Sourced from 90% Freedom Hill Vineyard and the remainder from the Seven Springs Vineyard, the 2020 Chardonnay Cuvee Anne is lifted with flinty reduction and notes of lime zest and green apple. The palate is long, with ripe pear, Meyer lemon, and delicate oak spice, and it is tension-driven, although it has great extract and sunny fruit to cushion its nerve. Drink 2023-2030.Walter Scott was founded in 2008 by Erica Landon and her husband Ken Pahlow. Their first vintage was produced in 2009 out of Patricia Green Cellars, then at Evening Land, where Ken worked alongside Dominique Lafon. This clearly had an influence on the wines of Walter Scott, where they began producing Chardonnay in 2011. The next year they moved to their current winery space, which is located in front of the Justice Vineyard of the Eola-Amity Hills. They continue to raise the bar across their portfolio and are producing exceptional wines with purity and balance. The majority of these wines were tasted out of the barrel during my visit to the winery in July of 2022. $45 92
76 2019 Chateau Phelan Segur + The 2019 Château Phelan Segur from Véronique Dausse is another brilliant Saint-Estèphe in the vintage, and this estate plays in the top handful of Saint-Estèphes out there. Offering lots of darker currants, spiced plums, Iron, tobacco, and damp earth on the nose, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a concentrated, tannic, yet balanced mouthfeel, and a great finish. It needs to be forgotten for a good 5-7 years and will be a brilliant wine over the following two decades. $50 95
77 2019 Jada Vineyard WCS Cabernet Sauvignon + A tiny production release, the 2019 WCS Cabernet Sauvignon is all varietal that saw 17 months in new Sylvain Signature toast barrels. It has deep black fruits, cassis, graphite, spicy wood, and sappy herb notes to go with a full-bodied, powerful, wonderfully balanced style on the palate. As with all these wines, the tannins are brilliant, it has insane purity of fruit, flawlessly integrated oak, and a great finish. This will stand up to the top wines coming out of Napa and should have 20-25 years of prime drinking, although it’s truly brilliant today.One of the most exciting new estates in Paso Robles today is unquestionably Joshua Harp’s Jada Vineyard. Pulling primarily from the Willow Creek District, Bordeaux varieties are the name of the game here. Tony Biagi (Hourglass, Patria) is also a consulting winemaker here, and the wines are rich, opulent, yet flawlessly balanced beauties. $90 98+
78 2015 Bodegas Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva + The 2015 Prado Enea Gran Reserva comes from a hotter, riper vintage, but it shares similar gamey, exotic aromatics of red and black fruits, sappy herbs, flowers, leather, iron, and background cedary oak. Rich, medium to full-bodied, incredibly pure, and balanced, it has ripe, still present tannins, impeccable balance, and a great finish. This is a classic expression of this cuvée that can be enjoyed any time over the coming two decades or more. $100 96
79 2019 Cayuse Grenache God Only Knows + The 2019 Grenache God Only Knows is another gorgeous example of this wine that has a style all its own. Revealing a translucent ruby hue as well as a kaleidoscope-like bouquet of ripe cherries, blackberries, forest floor, spring flowers, and charcoal, it hits the palate with medium-bodied richness, a silky, seamless mouthfeel, perfect balance, and a great finish. This exotic, perfumed Grenache is a hypothetical mix of a Grand Cru from the Côte de Nuits and a 100% Grenache Châteauneuf from sandy soils. It should cruise in the cellar for 10-15 years. $155 96
80 2019 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard + The star of the show is the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard, which comes from unquestionably one of the Grand Cru terroirs located just outside of St. Helena. Incorporating 1% Petit Verdot and aged 22 months in 95% new French oak, this deep, full-bodied, powerful Cabernet has classic Dr. Crane notes of gravelly earth, cold fireplace, tobacco, truffle, and assorted black and blue fruits. Rich, opulent, yet also pure and precise, with present tannins, it will benefit from 3-4 years of bottle age and keep for 15+. $175 99
81 2019 Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir Block 8 + The 2019 Pinot Noir Block 8 is rich with mineral earth, sage, cedar, and black cherry. The palate is by far the most generous of the Hirsch wines, with mouth-filling fruit that carries through the mid-palate and finish. It has a more assertive nature all around and is the most powerful of the Hirsch selections. This is an incredible wine to drink over the next 15 or more years.Located in Fort Ross, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, David Hirsch purchased his estate in 1978 and planted his first vines in 1980. The 2019 vintage, which was predominantly what was shown to me, marks the first vintage with his daughter, Jasmine Hirsch, taking the lead as winemaker for the estate. They have been practicing biodynamic viticulture since 2011 and were fully converted over in 2014. Their focus and attention is on the site, resulting in wines that offer elegance and purity, with transparency in regard to their sense of place. $105 98
82 2019 Hourglass Blueline Cabernet Sauvignon + The 2019 Blueline Cabernet Sauvignon is another stunning wine in the lineup. Revealing a deep purple hue as well as beautiful cassis and blue-tinged fruits, it has lots of violet and lead pencil notes, medium to full body, perfect balance, and incredible tannins. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, and the balance Cabernet Franc and Merlot, it’s going to deliver the goods for upwards of two decades. $145 97
83 2004 Tarlant Champagne Blanc de Blancs La Vigne d’Antan Brut Nature + The 2004 Champagne Blanc de Blancs La Vigne d’Antan Brut Nature is 100% Chardonnay from ungrafted vines on sandy soils that face northwest. This is an exceptional wine. The nose is pretty and refined, with white flowers, marzipan, and lemon curd. It is supple, with a pillowy mousse, and has layers of complexity and depth, with custard, soft wet stone, and white peach. The palate is dry and certainly has mineral and energetic tension, but it feels balanced and not austere. Drink 2023-2043. Disgorged June of 2021. $190 96
84 2020 Roger Sabon Chateauneuf Du Pape Prestige + The 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape Prestige is a solid step up and brings another level of purity and precision. Based on 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and the rest a mix of permitted varieties, it has stunning aromatics of red and black fruits, roasted garrigue, spring flowers, and a hint of graphite. With full-bodied richness, moderate acidity, ripe, velvety tannins, and one heck of a great finish, it’s one of the gems in the vintage.I’ve been praising the wines of Domaine Roger Sabon for years now, and they consistently turn out incredible wines, year-in, year-out. Looking at the 2020s, these wines shine for their purity and impeccable balance and bring more fruit and texture than most in the vintage. $40 95
85 2019 Passing Time Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills + The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills is based on 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. It has a gorgeous bouquet of darker currants, chocolate, spice, and dried tobacco to go with a medium to full-bodied, round, supple, seamless style on the palate. With a layered, expansive mouthfeel, ripe tannins, and wonderful purity, this classic, world-class Cabernet will stand toe to toe with the best out there. While it already offers pleasure today (I followed this bottle for multiple days), it will cruise for 20-30 years in cold cellars. $85 98
86 2020 Hope Well Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills + The 2020 Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills is floral and fresh with melon as well as green apple, dusty earth, and soft white flowers. The palate is soft, floral, and ripe. Although it tapers to a narrower focus. A very pretty wine with lovely charm to drink over the next 10 or so years, I would love to revisit it after another year or more in cellar. Drink 2024-2034. $83 94
87 2014 Delamotte Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut + A blend of the six Grand Cru villages of the Cote de Blancs, with 6.5 grams per liter dosage, the 2014 Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut is fresh and precise, with aromas of vibrant green apple, pleasant reduction with flint, and delicate smoke, citrus blossoms, and wet stone. The transition to the palate is seamless and linear, with crisp and crunchy green fruit, and is electric with lime candy, a refined mousse, and a chalky texture. It warrants more time before opening, but it is delicious and refreshing now. Drink over 2023-2043.The sister house to Salon, Delamotte owns 10 hectares of vineyards in Mesnil sur Oger, Oger, Cramant, and Avize, and they purchase from 80 hectares, mostly Chardonnay from Oiry and Chouilly and some Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims in Bouzy, Ambonnay, and Tours sur Marne. A small amount of Meunier is purchased from around Epernay. When Salon does not produce a vintage wine, those parcels go into the production of Delamotte bottlings. Like Salon, the wines are fermented and matured entirely in stainless steel; however, malolactic fermentation is achieved on a case-by-case basis. $85 94
88 2019 Myriad Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard + There are two releases from this remarkable site just outside St. Helena. Looking first at the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard, this stunning wine gives up a monster bouquet of currants and cassis-like fruits as well as leafy herbs, tobacco, chocolate, and spice. Beautifully full-bodied on the palate, it has ripe, polished tannins, impeccable balance, no hard edges, and that rare mix of power and elegance. $250 99
89 2020 Mail Road Wines Pinot Noir Mount Carmel Vineyard + Moving to the single vineyard release, the 2020 Pinot Noir Mount Carmel Vineyard is more structured and masculine, with brilliant aromatics of black raspberries, strawberries, new leather, sandalwood, and dried flowers. It’s brilliant on the palate as well and is medium to full-bodied, has flawlessly integrated tannins, a beautiful sense of freshness, and a great finish. It’s a stunner. I like it today, yet it will evolve nicely for 2-3 years and keep for a solid decade or more.I was able to taste three wines from Mail Road, which continue to be made by Matt Dees. These are pure, crystalline, focused wines that still bring beautiful depth of fruit and concentration. They’re some of the best out there. $100 97
90 NV Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Essentiel Extra Brut + The NV Champagne Essentiel Extra Brut offers a more gastronomic side to the range, with a slightly lower dosage and a more linear and mineral approach. This release was from the 2012 vintage with 18% reserve wine. It was aged for six years on the lees and has 5 grams per liter of dosage, with a high percentage of fruit coming from the Montagne de Reims. It reveals notes of fig, coffee, and pear, which are emblematic of the house style, and the palate is focused, with a light saline touch. Drink 2023-2033. Disgorged March 2017.Emilien Boutillat took over as Chef de Cave for Regis Camus in 2018. A native to Champagne, Mr. Boutillat has a versatile background in winemaking, having worked for several wineries across the globe, including at such prestigious estates as Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux and Peter Michael in Sonoma, California. He also spent time in Chile, Châteauneuf du Pape, and Franschhoek, South Africa, where he made Cap Classique (sparkling wines). There are several exciting new releases from the house, including the most recent, the second release of Hors-Serie from 1982. This is a reinterpretation of the previously released cuvée Sauvage, except disgorged 30 years later in 2022. Mr. Boutillat also selected to use wine from magnums of Piper-Heidsieck 1982 to top up the bottles of Hors-Serie after disgorgement, as the liqueur d’expedition. There were 2500 bottles produced, and the house is putting together 500 gift packs that will offer a side by side of the 1982 Brut Sauvage and the 1982 Hors-Serie. These two unique expressions are a treat to taste simultaneously, though they offer very different applications at the table. $70 92
91 2019 Steltzner Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District + I loved the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District, although there are a scant 48 cases produced. Wonderful cassis and black raspberry fruits as well as spice and classy oak notes give way to a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon that has ripe, polished tannin, terrific purity of fruit, and a great, great finish. It’s another 2019 that’s already drinking nicely yet should evolve nicely for 15 years. $150 94
92 2019 Beaux Freres Pinot Noir The Belles Soeurs + The 2019 Pinot Noir The Belles Soeurs is elegant with the perfume of raspberry, cherry pie, dried roses, and cinnamon. The palate is vibrant and tension-driven with rose hip, hibiscus, and orange zest. I love this for its focused and direct nature, which will warrant some time in cellar to unfold. Drink 2024-2037.Michael Etzel founded Beaux Freres in 1991 in Ribbon Ridge alongside his brother-in-law, Robert Parker. In 2017, Parker and another investor sold their shares and Michael became partners with the Champagne and Burgundy house of Maison & Domaines Henriot. Today, Michael’s son Mikey has taken over the wine production. Michael purchased an adjacent property, Sequitur, which is a 12-acre vineyard he farms and where he produces wines today. Both Beaux Freres and Sequitur are farmed biodynamically. $100 95
93 2020 Melville Pinot Noir Anna’s Block + The 2020 Pinot Noir Anna’s Block is also brilliant, with crunchy black cherry and mulberry fruit as well as notes of iron, loamy earth, and darker herbs. This is a broader, more powerful, medium-bodied Pinot Noir offering beautiful tannins as well as outstanding balance. Fermented with 67% whole clusters and brought up in used barrels, it has tons of potential. As with the Sandy’s release, give it a few years.Chad Melville has made these wines since 2015, and there’s been a gradual – yet dramatic – shift in the style of the wines from Melville. Harvested earlier and made in a leaner, more focused style, the wines today have a much more Burgundian vibe and are going to benefit from bottle age. As Chad told me, they’re no longer making 15% alcohol Pinot Noirs at Melville. Vine age also plays a role here, but I think the differences are largely due to winemaker decisions. I don’t think the wines are better or worse, as they were terrific under Greg and they’re terrific under Chad, but there’s no denying the dramatic change in style. $70 95+
94 NV Laurent-Perrier Champagne Grand Siecle Grand Cuvee No. 25 + The NV Champagne Grand Siecle Grand Cuvée No. 25 is composed of the 2008, 2007, and 2006 vintages, from nine Grand Crus, and has 7 grams per liter dosage. It is only the second time in Laurent-Perrier’s history that this the cuvée was produced from consecutive vintages. This is the first and most complete of the three expressions I tasted in Tours-sur-Marne in September, as it strikes remarkable balance between richness and tension. The nose is elegant in its ripeness, with perfumed layers of white flowers, honey, and sweet pastry. Meanwhile, the palate is compact, racy, and focused. It all comes together with great length and a long finish. Drink 2024-2044. $159 97
95 2019 Brave & Maiden Estate Bequest + The 2019 Bequest checks in as a unique blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Petit Verdot, and the rest equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Its deep purple hue gives way to a great bouquet of pure cassis, graphite, ripe tobacco, and lead pencil. This carries to a full-bodied red with wonderful purity and precision, ripe, polished tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. This totally brilliant red blend will stand up to anything coming out of Northern California and I suspect will have over two decades of longevity. Bravo!Under the helm of winemaker Joshua Klapper, Brave & Maiden is unquestionably in the top handful of estates focusing on Bordeaux varieties in Santa Barbara County. These are rich, concentrated, yet balanced wines that would show just fine in lineups of the best from Napa and Sonoma. $105 97
96 2019 Andrew Will Champoux Vineyard + The 2019 Champoux Vineyard checks in as a mix of 54% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Petite Verdot, aged 23 months in 30% new French oak. Its deep purple hue is followed by a gorgeous bouquet of pure cassis and dark cherry fruits as well as spring flowers, spicy oak, and chocolaty herbs. Rich, fleshy, opulent, and full-bodied on the palate, with its Merlot component front and center, it’s going to deliver loads of pleasure over the coming 15 years or more. $81 96
97 2020 Chateau De L’Ou Cotes Catalanes Rhapsody Grenache + Always one of my favorite cuvées from this estate, the 2020 Côtes Catalanes Rhapsody Grenache is all Grenache that’s raised in a mix of tank and 500-liter barrels. A stunning wine, it ranks with the crème de la crème of the region, offering a heavenly bouquet of black raspberries, kirsch, herbes de Provence, flowers, licorice, and toasted spice. With remarkable purity, full-bodied richness, a seamless, elegant texture, and a great, great finish, I would unquestionably put this up with the best Grenache in the world. It’s powerful and opulent, yet also incredibly graceful and elegant, with that rare mix of richness and no sensation of weight. It’s easily the finest wine I’ve tasted from Severine Bourrier and a benchmark Grenache from this region. Bravo. $50 97
98 2019 Lingua Franca Chardonnay Estate + From a bench site with eastern-facing exposure, the 2019 Chardonnay Estate leads with lime-citrus, white flowers, savory tarragon, and smoky earth, while the palate is fresh with pear, peach, lime zest, and chalky fresh earth. This elegant white has a soft texture without being austere, delivering fresh acidity and citrus, and its floral profile continues on the finish with great finesse. Drink 2022-2032. $56 94
99 2019 Figgins Red Wine + The 2019 Red Wine comes from the estate vineyard outside of Walla Walla and is based on Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Merlot, all aged 22 months in new and once-used French oak. Its saturated purple color is followed by a gorgeous bouquet of cassis and blueberries fruit as well as spicy oak, tobacco, and scorched earth-like minerality. Full-bodied on the palate, it’s supple and forward at first yet builds on the palate, with more density and tannins showing on the finish. The purity is spot on, as is the balance, and it’s another beautiful wine that warrants 2-4 years of bottle age and will have 20 years of overall longevity. It’s one of the top releases in the vintage. There are 1,617 cases produced. $85 97
100 2019 Occidental Wines Pinot Noir Running Fence Vineyard Cuvee Catherine + The 2019 Pinot Noir Running Fence Vineyard Cuvee Catherine has a more grounded nature. with a darker profile of five-spice, incense, and red plum. The palate is mineral-rich, with salty earth, ripe cherry, and an umami richness of dried shitake. A compelling wine, I only wish I had more time to watch it unfold. Drink 2024-2037.The estate of Steve Kistler and his family in the Bodega Headlands, Occidental is exclusively devoted to the production of coastally influenced Pinot Noir. Kistler was initially drawn to the area after tasting a bottling of Summa Vineyard that expressed a vivid and more cool climate style. Though Occidental was officially founded in 2011, Steve has been planting vineyards and purchasing property in the area since the 1990s and has retained his original cellar team from the past 30 years. His daughter, Catherine Kistler, has been the assistant winemaker since 2017. They are members of the West Sonoma Coast Vintners Association, which was approved as the newest AVA of Sonoma in May of this year. $170 98+
By Jeb Dunnuck
Founder & Wine Critic
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