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JebDunnuck LLC is a Colorado based company providing in-depth and cutting edge wine reviews and commentary on the top wine regions of the world.

Top Ten Wines of 2023
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2021 J. Rochioli Pinot Noir Estate

A deep transparent ruby, the elegant 2021 Pinot Noir Estate displays a refined, classic appeal in its notes of wild raspberry, fresh roses, and forest herbs. Medium-bodied, it reveals fine tannins and remarkable purity throughout its fresh, well-balanced layers of orange peel, ripe red cherry, and floral, spicy notes that continue long on the palate. A beautiful Pinot with a lot of immediate appeal, it will continue to drink well over the next 6-8 years. This stunning wine far exceeds its entry-level status. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

Tom Rochioli is leading his historic family winery and vineyards along with his wife Theresa and their children, Rachael (General Manager) and Ryan (Assistant Winemaker). The focus is on estate-grown expressions of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and old vine Sauvignon Blanc. Tom’s grandparents came to the Russian River Valley in 1938, having immigrated from Italy in 1911, and moved to the 125-acre Fenton Acres property where the winery is today. In the 1970s and 1980s, Tom’s father Joe began selling their grapes to winemakers Davis Bynum and Williams Selyem, who produced some of the best wines in the region. It wasn’t until 1983 that Rochioli decided to produce their own wines and renamed the property from Fenton Acres to Rochioli Vineyards. Tom’s father, Joe Rochioli Sr., passed away last August. In May, I had the opportunity to tour the vineyards with Tom and taste each of the wines for this report with him at the winery. Not all vineyard tours are created equal, and it is truly an enlightening and inspiring experience to see their old, moss-covered vines that are the source material for not only their own wines but for those of some of the top producers in Sonoma today. The River Block, where they fight Pierce’s disease, is a more vigorous site adjacent to the Russian River. He selects from the older pieces for his wines from this site. Three Corner Vineyard, which his father planted in 1974, was the first vineyard Tom ever trained, but it’s challenging to keep alive. Little Hill and Sweetwater are the biggest contributors to the estate wine. The Rochiolis practice no-till farming in the vineyard unless they’re trying to revive young re-plantings. Across the board, their wines are silky, expressive, age-worthy, and outright delicious.

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2020 Chateau Cos D'Estournel

Based on 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot, the deep purple-hued 2020 Château Cos D'Estournel has, dare I say, an almost Lafite-like sense of elegance and class, offering gorgeous cassis and darker currants fruits as well as tobacco, lead pencil, acacia flowers, and graphite. Hitting 13.46 alcohol, with a pH of 3.9 and an IPT of 80, this flawless, full-bodied, incredibly elegant Saint-Estèphe has silky tannins, perfect balance, and a great, great finish. It will need a decade of cellaring to hit its prime drink window. Of the trilogy of 2018, 2019, and 2020, it's clearly my favorite (that’s splitting hairs), with a similarity to the 2016, and will most likely merit another point at maturity.

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2019 Domaine Clape Cornas

The 2019 Cornas flirts with perfection and isn't far off the heavenly 2015. As with the Renaissance, it has a sunny, perfumed, exotic character as well as an incredible bouquet of black cherries, blueberries, ground pepper, game, and leather. Full-bodied, massive, and concentrated on the palate, it packs substantial tannins, is perfectly balance, and has a great, great finish. Cornas doesn't get much better, ladies and gentlemen. Do your best to give bottles 4-5 years, and it will keep thereafter for two decades.

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2019 E. Pira & Figli - Chiara Boschis Barolo Via Nuova

More citrus character emerges from the 2019 Barolo Via Nuova, which is lifted, elegant, and fresh with orange peel. On the palate, it has outstanding energy, with finely coiled tannins, more linear drive, and refreshing energy in its notes of pomegranate, raspberry, and crushed stones. I love this wine now, and it will be fantastic over the coming decades.

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2020 Jaffurs Syrah Upslope

Lastly, the 2020 Syrah Upslope is the flagship of the estate and comes from a cellar selection of the single vineyards. It was co-fermented with 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier and aged in 60% new French oak. Offering the purity of the Larner Vineyard as well as additional peppery, gamey nuances, its deep purple hue is followed by a smorgasbord-like array of red, blue, and black fruits as well as full-bodied, unctuous layers of peppercorns, gamey meats, iron, and bouquet garni. With just about off-the-charts purity, a deep, layered mid-palate, and perfect balance, this awesome Syrah can be enjoyed any time over the coming 15 years or so.

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2020 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

Absolutely pure gold and reminding me of the 2009 (or is it the 2010?), the 2020 Château Smith Haut Lafitte sports a dense purple hue to go with incredible aromatics of blackberries, blueberries, scorched earth, wood smoke, and acacia flowers. One of the most concentrated, rich, and sexy wines in the vintage, this massive and extraordinarily opulent 2020 shows the vintage's pure, elegant profile yet backs it up with sensational levels of fruit and texture. Based on 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and the balance Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it already offers pleasure given its wealth of fruit, but it deserves 7-8 years of bottle age and will evolve for 40-50 years. Not enough can be said about the quality of these wines. Bravo to Florence and Daniel Cathiard, as well as to director Fabien Teitgen, for another incredible achievement.

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2018 Val Di Suga Brunello Di Montalcino Poggio Al Granchio

Moving to the fullest expression in this tasting, the 2018 Brunello Di Montalcino Poggio Al Granchio is generous with black cherry, a darker mineral earth profile, wet asphalt, and crushed violets. It is full and beautifully pure on the palate, with notes of kirsch, raspberry liqueur, turned soil, and cedar, and is generous with fruit all the way through, with ripe yet fine tannins. It amplifies the style with ease and impressive skill and is another outstanding wine to drink 2025-2045.

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2019 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges De Latour Private Reserve

Lastly, the Grand Vin 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Georges De Latour Private Reserve is just about pure perfection, and the fact that there are roughly 12,000 cases is incredible. Classis darker fruits (cassis, currants) as well as chocolate, leafy tobacco, and loamy earth all define the bouquet, and this full-bodied, concentrated, powerful, yet also elegant 2019 has the balance and structure to evolve for decades. It should be relatively easy to find this in the market, and you won't be disappointed.

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2020 Clos L'Eglise

A real “wow” wine, the 2020 Clos L'Eglise sports deep ruby hue as well as an absolutely stunning bouquet of black cherries, red plums, damp earth, chocolate, truffle, and lead pencil. This deep, full-bodied, concentrated, beauty has that classic Pomerol opulence and richness paired with an incredible sense of elegance. The tannins are perfectly ripe as well. Give bottles just 4-5 years, and it's going to age beautifully. This is the finest wine I've tasted from the Garcin-Lévêque family, surpassing both the 2009 and 2016. Don't miss it.

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2020 Chave Hermitage Blanc

Another heavenly white from this estate is the 2020 Hermitage Blanc, which is the usual 80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne from a mix of lieux-dits. Incredibly perfumed with notes of acacia flowers, buttered stone fruits, toasted brioche, honeysuckle, and crushed stone, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a seamless, layered texture, beautiful mid-palate depth, and a great finish. The purity, balance, and intensity here are just about off the charts, and this beauty deserves a solid decade of bottle age, although you'll be excused if you drink one in its youth as well.

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