JULIAN HITNER TORONTO WINE CONSULTANT

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THE SUCCESSFUL COLLECTOR
Julian Hitner: premium wine taster
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Wine education for us all -- Bordeaux Prices Explained (Saturday 2 February 2013)

(PDF VERSION)

 

     As the cost of premium claret continues to skyrocket, many collectors are increasingly asking why once-affordable estates are now habitually so prohibitive. Is it unprecedented demand? Increasing costs of production? Or is it simply good old-fashioned extortion at work?

     Whatever the reason, the need to justify such exorbitant prices has never been greater. On the part of the Classed Growths and even non-classified estates, voracity is but one excuse. For those in the business, few would deny that the cost of crafting a bottle of Fourth Growth Branaire-Ducru would be higher than a bottle of Cru Bourgeois Larose-Trintaudon. From the number of employed workers and the procurement of the finest equipment to harvesting at much lower yields and engaging in far stricter gape/parcel selection, Classed Growths will almost always be more dependent on higher revenues to live up to their reputations than their less eminent counterparts. But how much is enough to cover costs and make a reasonable profit? What is the fine line between Branaire-Ducru owner Patrick Maroteau’s overheads and a respectable return?

     On the other hand, there are those who would argue that Maroteau’s prices are merely a reflection of what the market will bear. Take away the romance and the glamour, and estates like Branaire-Ducru (a favourite of mine) are essentially glorified businesses, operated with the sole aim of exacting as much money from the purchasing public as possible. What fault of is it of Maroteau’s if wine lovers are willing to pay over one hundred dollars for his stunning ’10? So long as people are willing to pay, owners might as well set their prices as high as they choose.

     And why not? There are nowadays more willing customers than ever. For the past several years, new markets, particularly in Asia, have fomented greater demand for top-end Bordeaux than pundits could have ever predicted. With each passing year, buyers in Hong Kong and elsewhere along the Pacific Rim have been increasingly on the lookout for the best estates/finest vintages wherever possible; and estate owners have responded with unheralded prices.

     But wine lovers should remember that they have more power than they think—and more astute estate owners should know this. Should prices rise too swiftly, or remain high for particularly mediocre vintages (such as in 2011 and 2012), many claret collectors will simply stop buying. This even includes markets in Asia, where local merchants began experiencing backlash shortly after initial release prices of the 2010s were deemed too excessive. Estates such as Second Growths Châteaux Lascombes and Rauzan-Ségla learned this the hard way, and have since lowered their costs to more palatable levels. At least in principle, serious collectors and casual wine enthusiasts should always have the final word.

A few gems for collectors:

White Wines:

Louis Latour 2007, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru AOC, Burgundy, France: Tasted multiple times over several days (from different bottles), the potentially stunning 2007 Corton-Charlemagne is just beginning to come out of its shell. Pale lime in colour with a touch of straw, the wine showcases brilliant scents of dried pears and lemony overtones; giving way to citrus oils, hazelnuts, white flowers, acacia, ‘icy’ minerals, and a hint of quince and spice. Very complex, featuring superbly elegant fruit, balanced acidity, and a fabulous hint of lemon, pears, and hazelnuts (all wonderfully minerally) on the finish. Very young, stylish, and gorgeously assembled. Now-2022++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93+    $68.66 (Private Order)     Sherry-Lehman (USA)

 

Nicolas Joly 2009 Les Vieux Clos, Savennières AOC, Loire, France: Nicolas Joly’s obsession with biodynamic/holistic winegrowing is well known, for which the weird and wonderful 2009 Les Vieux Clos serves as testament. Light-medium yellow-lime in colour (plus a little haze), it reveals entirely idiosyncratic scents of baked Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples (both in pie format); switching to cinnamon, apple cider/strudel, smoke, and alternate bruised fruits. Very complex, with beautiful fruit, balanced acidity, and a wholly original, endearing hint of baked apples (in cider- and pie-like format) on the finish. Excellent job, the planets must have really been in sync when this wine was produced. Now-2016++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92    $37.00 (#62638)     Vintages Shop Online

 

M. Chapoutier 2010 Invitare, Condrieu AOC, Rhône, France: Matured for eight months on the lees to preserve freshness and character, Michel Chapoutier’s 2010 Invitare is a first-rate, evocative Condrieu. Pale straw in colour, it reveals strictly beautiful scents of dried lemony apricots, mild honeysuckle, white flowers, and a hint of starfruit, minerals, and spice. Complex, retaining stylish, remarkably finesse-driven fruit, balanced acidity, and a refined, outgoing hint of dried apricots, lemon citrus, and slightly minerally honeysuckle nuances on the finish. Superlative grace, balance, and harmony. Now-2014. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91++    Currently Unavailable     Philippe Dandurand (Private Order)

 

Louis Latour 2008, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Truffières AOC, Burgundy, France: Situated high up on the slopes next to the commune of Blagny, the superbly ethereal 2008 Les Truffières represents my only note from this 2.5-ha site to date. Pale straw-lime in colour, it reveals exquisite scents of discreetly hazelnutted pears and citrus fruits; switching to dried apricots, lemon meringue, acacia, and minerals. Very complex, with extremely fine, delicate fruit, balanced acidity, and a refined hint of pears and lemon citrus on the finish. Remarkable character, finesse, and balance. Now-2019+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91++    $71.39 (Private Order)     Excel Wines (UK)

 

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2009 Bussiador, Langhe DOC, Piedmont, Italy: 100% Chardonnay sourced from multiple Bussia-based vineyards, Aldo Conterno’s 2009 Bussiador is noticeably crafted along pseudo-Burgundian lines. Pale-light straw-lime in colour, it reveals bright, innately beautiful scents of fresh lemon citrus and pears (laced with gentle hazelnuts); switching to dried caramel, minerals, and a hint of green fruits. Complex, with great fruit, balanced acidity, and a very lovely hint of pears and delicate toasted oak on the finish. Tight at present, this certainly has terrific potential. Now-2016++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91+    Currently Unavailable     Trialto Wine Group (Private Order)

 

Giesen 2010 The August Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand: Top-notch Sauvignon Blanc crafted via total barrel fermentation and aging on the lees, I must admit the 2010 August took me by surprise. Pale-light lime in colour, this beauty exhibits excellent, enticing scents of pure citrus oils and pears; switching to white grapefruit, kiwi, white peaches, mild lanolin traces, and minerals. Complex, retaining superb, vibrantly textured fruit, balanced acidity, and a terrific hint of pure lemon citrus and minerals on the finish. Wonderful vitality, balance, and harmony. Screwcap closure. Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2012)

 

91+    $39.95 (Private Order)     Michael Andrew Brands

 

La Crema 2010 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley (Sonoma County), California: With virtually no notes on the Russian River label (La Crema produces a lot of different whites), the 2010 Chardonnay came as a significant surprise when examined. Pale-light lime in colour, the wine features beautiful, finely ‘cut’ scents of pears, butterscotch, apricots, delicate orange zest, hazelnuts, and a hint of vanilla and minerals. Complex, boasting excellent fruit, near-balanced acidity, and a lingering, rather indulgent hint of pears and butterscotch/caramel on the finish. Fulsome, balanced, and first-rate for the style. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

91    $37.95 (#67231)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Domaines Schlumberger 2007 Pinot Gris, Alsace Grand Cru Kitterlé AOC, Alsace, France: Delivering immense character and varietal purity, the 2007 Kitterlé Pinot Gris is a standout selection. Light golden-straw in colour, the wine presents exquisite scents of lemon blossom, peaches, honeycomb, orange zest, mild Asian spices, and the slightest trace of lychees and almonds. Complex, boasting incredibly beautiful fruit, balanced acidity, and an elegant, suitably dry hint of lemon blossom, dried peaches, and lychee traces on the finish. Excellent bottling, Domaines Schlumberger is fortunate to own 20 out of a possible 26ha of this fabulous vineyard. Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91    $47.27 (Private Order)     Fortnum & Mason (UK)

 

Dutton Estate 2010 Dutton Palms Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley (Sonoma County), California: Top Chardonnay of the estate, winemaker Terry Adams’ 2010 Dutton Palms Vineyard is beautiful now but may even improve further in a few years. Pale-light lime in colour, it reveals inviting, tightly integrated scents of dried green fruits, pears, lemon, orange peel, nutted elements, and just a hint of lime. Complex, with beautiful fruit, balanced acidity, and an elegant, ‘agile’ hint of pears, nuts, and delicate toasted oak on the finish. Delicious, full-bodied, and definitely enticing. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

90+    $53.95 (#234856)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier 2011 Riesling Spätlese, QmP Scharzhofberger, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany: Sourced from the famed Scharzhofberger vineyard in the Saar, the 2011 Riesling Spätlese represents a leaner approach than some might prefer; yet the whole concept remains remarkably harmonious and styled. Pale lime in colour, it offers delightful scents of crisp green fruits, lemon, dried white peaches, and a hint of honeysuckle and spice. Complex, with very fine fruit, balanced acidity, and a stylish, slightly luscious hint of off-dry lemon citrus and white peaches on the finish. First-rate individualism, balance, and breed. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

90    Price Unavailable     Private Collection

 

Château de Fontaine-Audon 2011, Sancerre AOC, Loire, France: Sourced from a 15-ha site in St-Gemme, the 2011 Château de Fontaine-Audon delivers great vibrancy and finesse. Very pale lime in colour, it reveals extremely delicate, elegant scents of mineral-laced lemon citrus, white grapefruit, gooseberries, flint, and a trace of green fruits and herbs. Complex, possessing beautiful nervy fruit, balanced acidity, and a superb hint of pure lemon citrus and minerals on the finish. Excellent outing, capable of medium-term keeping. Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

90    $27.95 (#745893)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Domaine Machard de Gramont 2007 Les Creux Fraîche-Eau, Nuits-St-Georges AOC, Burgundy, France: Pale lime in colour, the 2007 Les Creux Fraîche-Eau is very delicately toasted, revealing beautiful scents of pears and quince; switching to subtle green apples, nuts, and a hint of cream and spice. Complex, with very fine, elegant fruit, balanced acidity, and a splendid hint of creamy green apples on the finish. Interesting, delicately styled white Nuits-St-Georges, possibly the only note of its kind I currently possess. Now-2015+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

90    $46.85 (Private Order)     Nokhrin Wines

 

Planeta 2008 Cometa, IGT Sicilia, Sicily, Italy: Crafted from 100% Fiano, the 2008 Cometa is easily one of its best in kind in Sicily, perhaps even all of Italy. Light lime in colour, it delivers strictly splendid scents of delicate waxy apricots, lemon blossom, pears, green apples, and a hint of herbs and spice. Complex, retaining marvellous fruit, balanced acidity, and an elegant, engaging hint of ‘ethereal’ lemony apricots and green apples on the finish. Superbly executed—so delicate, original, and fresh. Now-2012+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, March 2010)

 

90    $35.00 (#31047)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Rock Ferry 2008 Chardonnay, Rapaura (Marlborough), South Island, New Zealand: One of many barrel-fermented Chardonnays coming out of Marlborough nowadays, the Rapaura-sourced 2008 Rock Ferry is a delicious, definite charmer. Pale lime in colour, the wine reveals beautiful, engaging scents of pears, butterscotch, green apples, quince, citrus elements, orange zest, and minerals. Complex, with full-bodied, terrifically polished fruit, balanced acidity, and a marvellous hint of butterscotch and pears on the finish. A little on the oaky side, still totally harmonious, balanced, and poised. Screwcap closure. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2012)

 

90    $29.95 (Private Order)     The Living Vine

 

Rock Ferry 2009 Pinot Gris, Bendigo (Central Otago), South Island, New Zealand: Pale lime in colour, winemaker Allan McWilliams’ 2009 Pinot Gris offers delightful, almost Alsatian scents of peach- and lime-infused gingerroot, lemon, mango, and spice. Complex, boasting beautiful crisp fruit, balanced acidity, and an adorable hint of peaches and pears (slightly off-dry) on the finish. Impressive, fuller-styled, and very fresh—ambitious outing. Screwcap closure. Now-2015+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2012)

 

89+    $26.95 (Private Order)     The Living Vine

 

Te Mata Estate 2010 Woodthorpe Vineyard Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand: From one of the finest estates in New Zealand, the 2010 Woodthorpe Vineyard Chardonnay is a winner. Pale-light lime in colour, it features lovely scents of pears, quince, delicate hazelnuts, apricots, dried butterscotch, and a hint of lemon and mineral traces. Complex, retaining fine fruit, balanced acidity, and a round, satisfying hint of pears and slightly nutted butterscotch on the finish. Splendid flavour, balance, and freshness. Screwcap closure. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

89    $22.95 (#295246)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Firriato 2010 Cavanera Ripa di Scorciavacca, Etna Bianco DOC, Sicily, Italy: Pale lime in colour, the 2010 Ripa di Scorciavacca reveals delicate notes of lemon, green apples, herbs, and a hint of wet stones. On the palate: pleasantly fresh, crisp fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a nervy hint of lemony green apples on the finish. Lovely effort, balance, and freshness. Now-2011+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2011)

 

88    Currently Unavailable     Vintage Trade Wines (Private Order)

 

Masseria del Feudo 2009 Haermosa, IGT Sicilia, Sicily, Italy: Pale lime in colour, the 2009 Haermosa is lightly toasted, offering appealing notes of nutted pears, green apples, moderate caramel, and a hint of dried apricots and spice. On the palate: decently styled fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of pears and green apples on the finish. Neatly polished and balanced. 100% Chardonnay. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2011)

 

88    $26.95 (Private Order)     Ex-Cellars Wine Services

 

Te Mara 2011 Ata Mara Pinot Gris, Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand: Pale lime in colour, the 2011 Ata Mara Pinot Gris displays slightly creamy notes of peaches, pears, apricots, lemon, and wet stones. On the palate: lovely fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a refreshing hint of peaches and pears on the finish. Splendid balance and freshness. Screwcap closure. Now-2014. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2012)

 

88    $19.95 (Private Order)     Hobbs Wines

 

Feudo Arancio 2009 Inzolia, IGT Sicilia, Sicily, Italy: Light straw-lime in colour, the 2009 Inzolia reveals pleasant notes of baked lemon/lime, pears, green apples, and a hint of leafy herbs. On the palate: mild refreshing fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of green apples and pears on the finish. Nice and fresh. Now-2010. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, March 2010)

 

87    Currently Unavailable     Dionysus Wines & Spirits (Private Order)

 

Caruso & Minini 2010 Cusora Chardonnay/Viognier, IGT Sicilia, Sicily, Italy: Pale-light straw-lime in colour, the 2010 Cusora Chardonnay/Viognier reveals notes of subtle peaches and ripe apricots; giving way to yellow plums and a hint of Golden Delicious apples. Palate: fresh crisp fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of apricots and yellow plums on the finish. Decent balance and focus. Now-2011+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2011)

 

87    Currently Unavailable     Lamprecht International (Private Order)

 

Caruso & Minini 2010 Terre di Giumara Inzolia, IGT Sicilia, Sicily, Italy: Pale straw-lime in colour, the 2010 Terre di Giumara Inzolia displays notes of subtle lemony white peaches; switching to green apples, straw, and wet stones. Palate: nice fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of lemony green apples on the finish. Straightforward, cheerful, and fresh. Now-2011. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2011)

 

87    Currently Unavailable     Lamprecht International (Private Order)

 

O’Rosal 2010 Valmiñor Albariño, Rìas Baixas DO, Spain: Pale-light straw in colour, the 2010 Valmiñor Albariño offers intense notes of lemony seasalt; switching to dried yellow plums, Golden Delicious apples, and minerals. On the palate: crisp dry fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of lemony seasalt and delicate Fino influences on the finish. Solid and balanced. Screwcap closure. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

86++    $15.95 (#266924)     Vintages 18 February 2012 Release

 

Red Wines:

Château Figeac 2010, St-Emilion AOC Premier Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: When the most recent revisions to the St-Emilion Classification (now more controversial than ever) were announced in September 2012, it was something of shock that Angélus and Pavie both got the nod to ‘A’ rank while Eric d’Aramon’s beloved Château Figeac did not. Consider the near-perfect ’10 vintage. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine exhibits exhilarating, masterful aromas of dark mocha, currants, crème de cassis, dark cherries, kirsch liqueur, slightly sinewy black fruits, spring flowers, crushed rocks, vanilla, and spice. Extremely complex, dispensing multilayered, fantastical fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a finesse-filled, wondrous hint of concentrated black fruits, dark mocha, and charcoal on the finish. Astonishing pedigree, balance, harmony, and breed; why this estate wasn’t promoted shall forever confound me. 35% Cabernet Franc, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Merlot. Now-2050++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

98    $425.00 (#322461)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château La Conseillante 2010, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Along with the near-perfect ’09, the 2010 Château La Conseillante is a legend in the making—harmonious, supple, and unbelievably addictive. Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, this magnificent claret delivers dazzling, entirely unencumbered aromas of espresso, crème de cassis, plummy currants, dark mocha, asphalt/charcoal, licorice, cherry and blackberry compote (non-excessive), vanilla, and spice. Incredibly complex, wielding prodigiously elegant, full-bodied chewy fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a fabulous, gorgeously interwoven hint of espresso, blackberry treacle/plummy currants, and minerals traces on the finish. With abundant energy, pedigree, and finesse, this is one bottling every serious collector must somehow obtain in profusion. According to one source: 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Now-2050++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

97    $379.00 (#165498)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2005 Granbussia Riserva, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy: Crafted when circumstances will permit and only released to the public seven years after the vintage, Aldo Conterno’s Granbussia Riserva is sourced from the finest sections of the estate’s three single vineyards (Colonnello, Cicala, and Romirasco). Medium-dark red currant in colour, the astounding ’05 showcases incredibly elegant, multifaceted aromas of dried red cherries and alternate red fruits (intermixed with delicate truffles), tealeaves, rose petals, tar, licorice, underbrush, gentle cedarwood, cookie crumble, tobacco traces, vanilla, and spice. Ridiculously complex, sporting spectacular fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a glorious, finesse-driven hint of dried red fruits, subtle truffles, and tar on the finish. Unbelievable finesse, structure, and layering; a rare treat to examine. Now-2039+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

96++    Currently Unavailable     Trialto Wine Group (Private Order)

 

Château Léoville Barton 2010, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: While I have yet to taste the Ducru-Beaucaillou or Léoville-Las Cases, for the moment at least the 2010 Château Léoville Barton ranks as the greatest St-Julien produced from this fabulous vintage—not to mention one of the finest wines the Barton family has ever created. Opaque ruby in colour, it discloses substantially elegant, enticing aromas of currants, blackberries, dried blueberries, licorice, spring flowers, delicate espresso, forest floor, minerals, vanilla wafers, and spice. Extremely complex, featuring robust, seamlessly attuned fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a magnificent hint of currants, blackberries, and mineral elements on the finish. Luminous, characterful, and totally harmonious; a wine like this one reminds me of why I got into this business in the first place. 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Now-2046+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

96++    $169.00 (#260042)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Lynch Bages 2010, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: Though the wines of Lynch Bages have always been stellar (even in average vintages), the 2010 may very well gone down in the estate’s history as the unbeatable outing, surpassing even the colossal ’09, the resplendent ’05, and the already-legendary ’00. Opaque ruby in colour, it demonstrates wondrous aromas of crème de cassis and alternate black fruits; making way for dark cherries, kirsch, Oreo Cookies®, mocha, licorice, spring flowers, graphite, charcoal, vanilla, and spice. Incredibly complex, delivering well-structured, near-perfect fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a classic, impactful hint of black cherried currants, spring flowers, and crushed rocks on the finish. Magnificently textured, conveying incredible finesse, dimension, and harmony; easily a thirty-year proposition. 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Now-2045++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

96++    $229.00 (#260661)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Haut-Bailly 2010, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: At this stage of the game, the magnificent 2010 Haut-Bailly, while hardly difficult to analyse, may very well grow to greater of heights of (youthful) prowess over the next year or so. Opaque ruby in colour with a touch of purple, it delivers captivating, whimsical aromas of ‘crunchy’ black briary fruits, currants, and charcoal; switching to licorice, mocha/espresso, forest floor, smoke, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Incredibly complex, delivering sensational multilayered fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an awesomely textured, lingering hint of currants, espresso, and asphalt on the finish. Exquisite substance, style, character, and breed—probably one of the most long-lasting reds of the appellation. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Now-2049++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

96+    $209.00 (#260471)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2010, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: Compared to the spellbinding ’09, the 2010 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande may be considered every bit its equal; though from a standpoint of stylization the wines could not be more different, the former almost Burgundian, the latter truer to its appellational roots. Opaque ruby in colour, the ’10 offers astounding, finely fragranced aromas of dark mocha, crème de cassis, subtle spring flowers, graphite, licorice, pain grille, forest floor, underbrush, vanilla, and spice. Immensely complex, featuring stunning, slightly silky fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant yet almost immodest hint of abundant floral currants, blackberries, minerals, and ‘forested’ elements on the finish. Wondrous finesse, structure, style, and breed—the epitome of great claret. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Now-2044++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

96+    $329.00 (#322941)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2010, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: As hard as it is to believe, the 2010 Smith Haut Lafite is even better than the breathtaking ‘09—more graceful, tactile, and wondrously interwoven. Opaque ruby in colour, this must-have offers abundant, extraordinarily layered aromas of espresso, crème de cassis, blackberry compote, kirsch/cherries jubilee, minerals, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Extremely complex, wielding pristine multilayered fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, totally harmonious hint of crème de cassis, black mocha, and graphite traces on the finish. Astoundingly structured, balanced, and elegant; this will keep for well over thirty-five years. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Now-2048+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

96+    $179.00 (#259960)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Clinet 2010, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Just a pinch below the best-ever ’09 (though this could very well change in a few years), the Laborde family’s 2010 Château Clinet is a magnificent creation. Opaque ruby in colour, it delivers stellar, abundantly elegant aromas of mocha extract, plums, blackberry compote, kirsch, smoke, bacon fat, forest floor, and a glorious hint of tobacco, vanilla, and spice. Extremely complex, featuring prodigious, heavenly fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a wonderfully textured hint of chewy black fruits, mocha, and strawberry/raspberry parfait on the finish. Tremendously structured, stylized, and layered. A remarkable achievement no matter which way you look at it; this will keep for over thirty-five years. 85% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Now-2048++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

96    $199.00 (#260653)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Clos Fourtet 2010, St-Emilion AOC Premier Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Matching the colossal ’09 in more ways imaginable, the 2010 Clos Fourtet is a fiercely sumptuous endeavour. Dense black-ruby in colour, it details rich, opulent aromas of crème de cassis, dark mocha, blackberry treacle, blueberries, licorice, pain grille, mild woodsmoke, vanilla, and spice. Immensely complex, delivering magnificent, extremely sumptuous fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and am exciting, ultra-abundant hint of black fruits, crème de cassis, and asphalt on the finish. Incredibly decadent, robust, and lengthy, what I find so endearing about this claret is its sheer level of cohesion and balance in the face of so much concentration and extract—Parkerized winemaking truly at its finest. 85% Merlot, the rest Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Now-2044++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

96    $169.00 (#260125)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Pape Clément 2010, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: The spitting image of the ’09 (only perhaps a shade more elegant), the mesmerizing 2010 Pape Clément is certainly one of the richest vintages ever produced at this legendary establishment. Opaque ruby in colour, it offers startling aromas of espresso-infused black currants, crème de cassis, black cherries, wild game elements, forest floor, crushed rocks, vanilla, and spice. Amazingly complex, retaining magnificent, fairly chewy fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a forthright, decadent hint of crème de cassis, espresso (a little chocolaty), and minerals on the finish. Extremely luxurious, exuding excellent structure, layering, and harmony. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Now-2045+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

96    $225.00 (#322388)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Rauzan-Ségla 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: A new plain of excellence for this fast-improving estate, the 2010 Rauzan-Ségla is not just the greatest wine this estate has ever produced; it is also one of the finest wines of the vintage for the Margaux appellation. Opaque ruby in colour, this intoxicating claret displays exemplary aromas of fragrant raspberries, currants, and black fruits; making way for blackberries, violets, licorice, forest floor, wild game elements, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Extremely complex, delivering incredibly refined, gorgeously concentrated fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a poignant, eternally graceful hint of black currants, raspberries, and mineral deposits on the finish. So delicious, generous, and elegant; this will likely keep much longer than any vintage preceding it. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 3.5% Petit Verdot, and 1.5% Cabernet Franc. Now-2045+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

96    $215.00 (#323287)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2008 Colonnello, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy: Based out of Bussia, the angelic 2008 Colonnello is likely the most finesse-oriented, most intoxicating of Aldo Conterno’s three single-vineyard Barolos. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it conveys sublime aromas of dark briary black cherries, blueberries, and blackberries; switching to tar, rose petals, saddle leather, white truffles, vanilla, and spice. Incredibly complex, showcasing sensationally concentrated, uninhibited fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a wonderful, ‘agile’ hint of briary black cherries, blueberries, and plums (plus a few truffles) on the finish. Extremely pure, fully structured, and very close to faultless. This will probably merit an even higher evaluation several years from now. Now-2038++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

95++    Currently Unavailable     Trialto Wine Group (Private Order)

 

Dominus 2009, Napa Valley, California: Along with the ’08, proprietor Christian Moueix’s 2009 Dominus is easily the greatest wine I have yet to taste from this nowadays-spectacular estate. Opaque black-ruby in colour, this gem showcases sensationally multilayered, almost whimsical aromas of mineral-tinged crème de cassis, dried spring flowers, purple plum remnants, crushed rocks, dark chocolate, vanilla, and spice. Truly complex, wielding incredibly structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant, long-lasting hint of crème de cassis, dark chocolate, and charcoal on the finish. Magnificent texture, expression, style, and harmony; this will probably reveal many more tertiary nuances over the next several years. 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot. Now-2042+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

95++    $151.95 (#212381)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Château Pichon-Longueville Baron 2010, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: As close to perfection as this estate has ever reached, the 2010 Pichon-Longueville Baron represents Christian Seely’s most triumphal accomplishment to date. Opaque black-ruby in colour, it reveals classically ‘Pauillac,’ almost addictive aromas of currants, plums, blackberries, dark cherries, spring flowers, pain grille, pencil lead, forest floor, licorice, mocha, vanilla, and spice. Incredibly complex, wielding astounding fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a layered, impeccable hint of currants, black cherries, spring flowers, and asphalt on the finish. Extraordinary breadth, style, and prowess,; collectors may baulk at the price, though perhaps come to their senses in the end. 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot. Now-2042++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

95++    $309.00 (#325514)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Léoville Poyferré 2010, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: Nowadays one of the most sought-after of St-Juliens, recent vintages of Château Poyferré have been among the most concentrated, most ambitious wines this estate has ever seen. Opaque black-ruby in colour, the colossal ’10 features tempting, copious aromas of blackberries, mocha, crème de cassis, espresso, asphalt, pain grille, licorice, smoke traces, floral elements, vanilla, and spice. Incredibly complex and layered, exuding impeccable fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, confident hint of crème de cassis, asphalt, and licorice (plus a little mocha extract) on the finish. Brilliantly executed, harmonious, and non-excessively fulsome. 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Now-2045++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

95+    $199.00 (#259259)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Lynch Bages 2005, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France (3L): Tasted out of double magnum, the classic 2005 Lynch Bages vies with the over-the-top ’09 as the greatest wine this estate has ever produced. Opaque ruby in colour (slightly faded), this stunning offering exudes extraordinarily multilayered aromas of crème de cassis, blackberries, plums, dark cherries, dried blueberries, pencil shavings, pain grille, forest floor, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Extremely complex, featuring delicious, superbly structured fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a gloriously poised, persistent hint of smooth crème de cassis, dark cherries, and graphite on the finish. Outstanding harmony, balance, polish, and breed—glad I secured my allotment. 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Now-2036++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

95+    $1,295.00 (#252874)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Château Canon-la-Gaffelière 2010, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: As is well known in St-Emilion circles, proprietor Stéphan von Neipperg has always shown a certain flair for the extravagant in his winegrowing operations; yet few would dispute the quality of his wares. Case in point: opaque ruby in colour, the glorious 2010 Canon-La-Gaffelière is beautifully toasted, disclosing tremendously expressive, enticing aromas of mocha, crème de cassis, plummy currants, blueberries, kirsch, licorice, dessert nougat, charcoal, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring immensely delicious supple fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, energetic hint of plummy currants/crème de cassis, licorice, and chocolate on the finish. Abundant, sumptuous, and fully structured; easily one of the top wines ever produced here. 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2043++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

95    $139.00 (#260075)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2008 Cicala, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy: Based out of Bussia, the supremely opulent 2008 Cicala, aside from being a must-have for collectors, is a truly top-tier creation. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it exudes stellar, enveloping aromas of dark dried cherries and plums, blackberry treacle, blueberries, black tea, tar, walnuts, forest floor, truffles, vanilla, and spice. Amazingly complex, delivering delicious extraordinarily ‘postured’ fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a mesmerizing, brilliantly textured hint of plummy black cherries, tar, and minerals on the finish. Lively, robust, and downright fabulous. This will certainly cellar over the very long term, though it drinks fantastically now. Now-2036++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

95    Currently Unavailable     Trialto Wine Group (Private Order)

 

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2008 Romirasco, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy: Based out of Bussia, apparently from the oldest vines in Aldo Conterno’s possession (50-55 years of age), the 2008 Romirasco is an unforgettable experience. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine reveals tantalizing aromas of briary black cherries, blackberries, blueberries, tar, truffles, tealeaves, undergrowth, vanilla wafers, and spice. Truly complex, wielding sumptuous, superbly structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a wondrous, multilayered hint of dark cherries and plums (both a little briary and truffle-oriented) on the finish. Fantastic modernism, balance, harmony, and breed; this is one sincerely special Barolo. Now-2034++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

95    Currently Unavailable     Trialto Wine Group (Private Order)

 

Château La Gaffelière 2010, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Hands down the most powerful, most decadent wine proprietor Léo de Malet Roquefort has ever overseen, the stunning 2010 La Gaffelière is easily a thirty-year proposition. Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, it showcases fantastic, abundant aromas of well-moderated mocha/espresso, blackberry compote, currants, kirsch, dried flowers, asphalt, tar, vanilla, and spice. Truly complex, sporting prodigious fruit concentration, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an exceedingly opulent, paradoxically elegant hint of blackberry compote, currants, and espresso on the finish. Outstanding fulsomeness, structure, and breed. Among the top class of wines in the appellation, it is really hard to believe how harmonious this otherwise markedly Parkerized claret performs. 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Now-2042++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

95    $145.00 (#322496)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Lynch Bages 2000, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France (3L): Tasted out of double magnum, the already-legendary 2000 Lynch Bages is a stunning claret. Dark ruby-red currant in colour, it delivers incredibly elegant, in-depth aromas of tobacco-driven black fruits, dark dried cherries, cigarbox overtones, scorched earth, pain grille, dessert nougat, cedarwood, minerals, and spice. Extremely complex, possessing magnificent fruit, still-firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a triumphant hint of currants, plums, and amazingly minimalist cedarwood on the finish. Exquisite harmony, balance, and breed; this will easily keep for another two decades. 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. Now-2032+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

95    $1,989.00 (#252767)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Château Saint-Pierre 2010, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: The smallest Classed Growth in St-Julien (17ha), the wines of Château St-Pierre are nowadays among the most exciting, most undervalued wines on the Left Bank; thanks to the uncompromising care of proprietor Françoise Martin and husband Jean-Louis Triaud. Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, the best-ever ’10 presents fabulous, multilayered aromas of crème de cassis and black mocha; switching to charcoal embers, espresso, licorice, forest floor, mineral deposits, vanilla, and spice. Exceptionally complex, wielding decadent, classically elegant fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, robust hint of currants, espresso, and asphalt on the finish. Dazzling style, finesse, structure, and harmony—quite the showpiece. 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot. Now-2044+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

95    $125.00 (#260695)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Canon 2010, St-Emilion AOC Premier Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Under the same ownership as vastly improved Second Growth Rauzan-Ségla, recent vintages suggest Château Canon has finally reached a new level of potential that had been lacking for so many years. Opaque ruby in colour, the monumental 2010 is finally toasted, showcasing magnificent, gently fragrant aromas of red and black fruits, cherries, kirsch, licorice, mocha, vanilla wafers, spring flowers, minerals, and spice. Exceedingly complex, retaining incredibly focused, deliciously layered fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an emphatic yet wholly refined hint of currants, plums, and floral elements (plus a little licorice) on the finish. Potent, textured, and undeniably exquisite—very similar to its immediate predecessor. 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. Now-2042++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

94+    $229.00 (#322446)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Domaine de Chevalier 2010, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: Words can’t describe the beauty and grace of beauty of proprietor Oliver Bernard’s latest outing. Opaque ruby in colour, the 2010 Domaine de Chevalier reveals stunning, in-depth aromas of currants, plums, blackberries, dried blueberries, espresso, black licorice, forest floor, abundant mineral elements, vanilla, and spice. Exceedingly complex, possessing refined, outgoing fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an immensely well-structured, delicious hint of currants, plums, and mineral-laced black licorice on the finish. Gloriously crisp, balanced, and expressive; easily the best red ever produced here. 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Now-2043++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

94+    $115.00 (#259598)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Gruaud Larose 2010, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: As if the wines of this outstanding Second Growth needed my endorsement, winemaker Georges Pauli’s 2010 Gruaud Larose is as great an offering as this estate has ever produced. Dark ruby in colour, it exhibits classic yet ‘contemporaneous’ aromas of refined currants, dried black fruits, cherries, licorice, underbrush, smoke, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring exquisite, excellently structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a remarkably elegant hint of currants, dried black fruits, and licorice on the finish. Exemplary character, finesse, and grip—archetypal, wholly harmonious claret. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, and 6% Petit Verdot. Now-2040+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

94+    $109.00 (#258731)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Malescot St-Exupéry 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: To my profound disappointment, I have only been able to taste of Jean-Luc Zuger’s estate on a handful of occasions. Opaque ruby in colour, the astounding ’10 delivers amazing, finely fragranced aromas of strawberry- and violet-tinged currants, blackberries, cherries, licorice, crushed rocks/minerals, forest floor, Oreo CookieÒ remnants, vanilla, and spice. Truly complex, providing impeccable fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a robust, finesse-fixated hint of blackberries, cherries, and mineral deposits on the finish. Glorious harmony, style, balance, and breed—a thirty-year proposition at least. 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot. Now-2043++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

94+    $145.00 (#260000)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Branaire-Ducru 2010, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: Owned by Patrick Maroteaux since 1988, the wines of Château Branaire-Ducru, better than ever before, continue from strength to strength—though the 2010 is definitely in a league of its own. Opaque ruby in colour, it offers terrific, finesse-driven aromas of slightly fragrant currants, plums, blackberries, dried raspberries, forest floor, mineral deposits, mocha extract, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, wielding exquisite fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a stunning, completely harmonious hint of ‘crunchy’ black currants, dried blueberries, and graphite on the finish. Sensational style, structure, and breed; this will go for at least thirty years. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Now-2042+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

94    $115.00 (#260679)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Brane-Cantenac 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Under the skilled tenure of Henri Lurton since 1992, the wines of Château Brane-Cantenac have been much more consistent of late, if not just below the best of what the appellation has to offer. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the stunning, luminous ’10 reveals impeccably elegant, in-depth aromas of fragrant dark raspberried currants, red fruits, licorice, kirsch, minerals, smoky elements, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Truly complex, possessing exquisite fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant, splendidly ‘proper’ hint of currants, minerals, and dried dark raspberried elements on the finish. Wondrous finesse, structure, and elegance. This will likely keep much longer than most vintages preceding it. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc. Now-2042+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

94    $125.00 (#260547)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2010, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: After Lynch Bages and Pontet-Canet, few would argue that François-Xavier Borie’s beloved Grand-Puy-Lacoste is the finest Fifth Growth in Pauillac, perhaps even the best in its class throughout the entire Médoc. Opaque ruby in colour, the masterful ’10 features expressive, alluring aromas of currants and alternate black fruits, dark cherries, kirsch, spring flowers, incense, graphite, mocha, vanilla, and spice. Truly complex, delivering wonderfully ‘threaded’ fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant, chewy hint of currants, plums, and cherried licorice on the finish. Outstanding structure, style, dimension, and layering—best ever wine? 83% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Merlot. Now-2040++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

94    $139.00 (#260117)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Trotte Vieille 2010, St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Like so many wines from this astonishing vintage, the 2010 Trotte Vieille will likely go down as one of Philippe Castéja’s greatest creations. Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, it reveals enticing, voluminous aromas of chocolate, currants, blackberry treacle, strawberries, minerals, asphalt, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with exquisitely sumptuous fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lengthy, indulgent hint of chocolate and blackberry treacle on the finish. Hugely rich, opulent format, reinforced by an outstanding texture, sense of balance, and overall harmony. The vineyard is planted to 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2035+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

94    Price Unavailable     Private Collection

 

Château Beau-Séjour Bécot 2010, St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Running on all cylinders these days, recent vintages of Beau-Séjour Bécot have never been better, culminating in the fabulous 2010. Opaque black-ruby in colour, the wine reveals electrifying aromas of blackberry treacle, kirsch liqueur, blueberries, cherry compote, mocha, saddle leather, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, delivering fabulously opulent fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lengthy, finely ‘controlled’ hint of pure kirsch liqueur and plummy currants on the finish. Powerful, succulent, and unequivocally excellent (despite the obvious Parkerization). 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 2.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2.5% Petit Verdot. Now-2044+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93++    $79.00 (Private Order)     JJ Buckley Fine Wines (USA)

 

Château Cantenac-Brown 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Just when I thought the ’09 was the estate’s greatest vintage ever, administrator Christian Seely’s 2010 Cantenac-Brown comes along and proves me wrong. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine exudes beguiling, finesse-driven aromas of dark strawberries, raspberried currants, blackberry liqueur, violets and alternate spring flowers, asphalt, minerals, and a hint of espresso, vanilla, and spice. Incredibly complex, with superbly structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a deliciously silky, finely textured hint of plummy currants, strawberries, and violet-laden minerals on the finish. Breathtaking grace, structure, and balance. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon and 34% Merlot. Now-2038+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93++    $89.00 (#259424)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Sociando-Mallet 2010, Haut-Médoc AOC, Bordeaux, France: Even better than the benchmark ’05, proprietor Jean Guatreau’s stunning 2010 Sociando-Mallet effortlessly combines a profound sense of richness with a level of finesse seldom seen in non-Classified Growths. Opaque ruby in colour, it offers wonderful aromas of dark currants and blackberries; quickly switching to raspberries, graphite, licorice, rose petals, black mocha, scorched earth, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, providing stupendous, well-styled fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an impeccable hint of currants, blackberries/red fruit traces, and graphite on the finish. Fantastic layering, integration, and accentuation. According to one source: 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Now-2035++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

93++    $57.00 (#257782)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Gazin 2010, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Though steadily inching up in price over the years, the fast-improving Château Gazin remains one of the best bets for value (and now considerable quality) in Pomerol. Opaque ruby in colour, director Mickaël Obert’s stunning ’10 displays impeccable, inviting aromas of slightly brambling currants, plums, blackberries, cherries, asphalt, graham crackers, forest floor, charcoal, vanilla, and spice. Truly complex, retaining outstanding, fairly opulent fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, impactful yet elegant hint of currants, blackberries, and asphalt on the finish. Generous, excellently structured, and downright top-notch. The vineyard is planted to 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Now-2040++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93++    $115.00 (#256255)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Tenimenti Angelini 2007 Val di Suga, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Wonderfully styled and expressive, the 2007 Val di Suga is a tremendous success. Dark garnet in colour, the wine issues spectacular aromas of gently fragrant, cedar-laced red fruits, wild cherries, underbrush, sandalwood, white pepper elements, pipe tobacco, and a hint of white truffles and spice. Very complex, sporting exquisite traditional fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an outstanding, finesse-oriented hint of pure cedary red fruits (slightly floral) on the finish. Impeccable harmony, balance, and grace; this is a twenty-year proposition. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

93+    $49.95 (#713719)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Château Beauregard 2010, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Under the same ownership as Bastor-Lamontagne in Sauternes, winemaker Vincent Priou’s 2010 Château Beauregard is unquestionably his (and the estate’s) best vintage yet. Opaque black-ruby in colour, this beauty relays impeccable, rather poignant aromas of chocolate, blackberry compote, plums, red fruits, licorice, dessert nougat traces, scorched earth, asphalt, vanilla, and spice. Truly complex, with deliciously robust fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a glorious hint of chocolate, blackberry compote, and cherry liqueur on the finish. Robust, abundant, and outstandingly layered—a colossal effort. 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. Now-2035++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

93+    $69.00 (#323048)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Beychevelle 2010, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: Slightly better than the ’09, the sensational 2010 Château Beychevelle may very well confirm what I’ve been thinking for some time—that this estate is finally performing the way it should. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it displays elegant, characterful aromas of black currants and alternate black fruits; switching to licorice, graphite, forest floor, moderate espresso, pain grille, tobacco, vanilla, and spice. Immensely complex, carrying incredible, slightly chewy fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an impeccable, wholly refined hint of currants and spring flowers on the finish. Entirely delicious, elegant, and fairly compact at the present time. 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Now-2038++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93+    $129.00 (#256602)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Domaine Bosquet des Papes 2010 Chante Le Merle Vieilles Vignes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Rhône, France: Flagship wine of the domaine crafted from near-century-old vines, the full-throttle 2010 Chante Le Merle seems designed for long-term cellaring. Opaque ruby in colour, it tosses up incredibly enticing aromas of blackberry and blueberry compote, dark mocha, charcoal, licorice, cookie crumble, leather, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, wielding deliciously structured fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a magnificent, long-lasting hint of blackberry/blueberry compote, licorice, and mineral elements on the finish. Definitely Parkerized, nonetheless superbly textured, polished, and positively potent. 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre. Now-2028++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

93+    $66.00 (#734244)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Château Dauzac 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Hands down the greatest wine ever produced at this lesser-known property, the 2010 Château Dauzac is to be lauded as administrator André Lurton’s finest accomplishment. Opaque ruby in colour, this overachiever delivers fragrant, remarkably appellation-specific aromas of currants, plummy blackberries/raspberries, licorice, forest floor, cookie dough, graphite, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, boasting impeccable fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a stunning hint of dark raspberried currants and plums (all wrapped in a bundle of delicate minerals) on the finish. Glorious offering, this will cellar at least twenty years. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon and 34% Merlot. Now-2032+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93+    $69.00 (#323188)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Kirwan 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Examined with less frequency than I would obviously prefer, the few vintages I’ve tasted of Château Kirwan have all been first class. Dark-opaque ruby in colour with a touch of purple, the glorious, best-ever ’10 exhibits extremely tempting, almost ‘exacting’ aromas of fragrant violet-infused currants, plums, blackberries, blueberries, pain grille, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, boasting exquisite, finely structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined hint of currants, violets, and raspberry-laden mineral elements on the finish. Deliciously silky, full-bodied, and focused—wonderful claret. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot. Now-2041+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93+    $125.00 (#323238)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Langoa Barton 2010, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: A shade superior to the ’09, the 2010 Langoa Barton (tasted alongside the Léoville) serves as yet another reminder of how underrated this Third Growth is continually perceived. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it provides outstanding, slightly floral aromas of currants, plums, dried blackberries, licorice, pain grille, forest floor, subtle mineral deposits, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, retaining delicious, elegantly textured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a finesse-driven, finely honed hint of currants, purple plums, and licorice on the finish. Top-tier refinement, structure, harmony, and breed. 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Now-2040++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93+    $105.00 (#259937)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Larcis Ducasse 2010, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé status in the September 2012 (though bottle labels have yet to be changed), estate manager Nicolas Thienpont’s 2010 Larcis Ducasse, while unquestionably one of the best wines ever produced here, has (excepting sheer power) much in common with the ’08. Extremely dense ruby in colour, it displays powerful, expressive aromas of kirsch liqueur and blackberry compote; switching to currants, blueberries, cherries, leathery asphalt, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, boasting wonderfully outgoing yet finely textured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, focused hint of pure blackberry liqueur, licorice, and plummy currants on the finish. Opulent, engaging, and completely Americanized; yet all other components seem firmly in place, which is reflected in my final score. 78% Merlot and 22% Cabernet Franc. Now-2036++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93+    $119.00 (#260687)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Lynch Bages 2006, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France (3L): Tasted out of double magnum, the 2006 Lynch Bages, while no means as stalwart and colossal as the ’05, should nonetheless leave a fantastic impression on the those fortunate enough to obtain it. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, showcasing enticing aromas of slightly fragrant currants, blackberries, dark cherries, strawberries, pencil lead, pain grille, light mocha, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, delivering excellent, rather chewy fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a delicate hint of currants and moderate graphite on the finish. Brilliant ‘Pauillac’ character, structure, and underlying fragrance. 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Now-2030. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

93+    $995.00 (#252890)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Château Poujeaux 2010, Moulis-en-Médoc AOC, Bordeaux, France: Tied with Chasse-Spleen as the greatest estate in Moulis-en-Médoc, the Theil family’s beloved Château Poujeaux has been in the same capable hands since 1921. Opaque ruby in colour, the best-ever ’10 discloses remarkable aromas of currants, blackberries, dried cherries and flowers, kirsch, forest floor, minerals, dark mocha extract, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, retaining full-bodied, exciting fruit concentration, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an inspiring hint of currants, blackberries, and dried spring flowers on the finish. Dazzling finesse, structure, and breed—fabulous long-term claret. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2035++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93+    $46.00 (#257758)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Le Bon Pasteur 2010, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: From Michel Rolland’s impeccably-run estate, the 2010 Le Bon Pasteur is undoubtedly the finest wine I’ve yet to taste from this outpost. Opaque ruby in colour and finely toasted, it presents inviting, exceptional aromas of crème de cassis, mocha, dark red fruits, strawberries, licorice, forest floor, subtle dessert nougat, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, boasting extraordinary, finely layered fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a wonderful hint of crème de cassis, mocha/espresso, and red fruit traces on the finish. Sumptuous, balanced, and truly well executed. The vineyard is planted to 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Now-2038+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

93    $115.00 (#323295)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Giscours 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Acquired by Dutch businessperson Eric Albada Jelgersma in 1995, quality at Château Giscours continues to climb with each passing vintage. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the outstanding ’10 delivers alluring, engaging aromas of fragrant currants, raspberries/cherries, blackberries, licorice, forest floor, smoke traces, underbrush, mineral elements, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, delivering excellent, elegant fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a wonderfully textured hint of currants, blackberries, and ‘forested’ licorice on the finish. Amazing finesse, structure, and style. 71% Cabernet Sauvignon and 29% Merlot. Now-2040+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93    $109.00 (#259093)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Groth 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville (Napa Valley), California: Examined with the Ontario representative at the local LCBO, winemaker Michael Weis’ 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is certainly a terrific achievement. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it displays enticing, engaging aromas of currants and creamy mocha; giving way to blackberries, plums, cherries (slightly ‘dusty’), graphite, rose petals, vanilla, and spice. Complex, featuring delicious, fully integrated fruit, firm tannins, slightly milder acidity, and a beautiful, amazingly polished hint of mocha-laced black cherried currants on the finish. Exemplary precision, refinement, and power—remarkably classy, focused, and integrated. Also contains 20% Merlot. Now-2022+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, December 2011)

 

93    $64.95 (#606517)     Vintages 22 January 2011 In-Store Discovery

 

Patrick Jaume 2010 Tour de l’Isle, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Rhône, France: Top bargain by our market standards, the 2010 Tour de l’Isle is a sensational, powerfully formatted Châteauneuf. Dark-opaque black-ruby in colour, it delivers close-knit, potentially delectable aromas of blackberry compote, dark cherries, black mocha extract, licorice, minerals, Provençal herbs, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, boasting glorious, well-structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, tightly packaged hint of blackberry compote and minerals on the finish. Fantastically structured, textured, and styled; this should keep about twenty years. 85% Grenache, 8% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, and 2% Cinsault. Now-2032+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

93    $39.95 (#309849)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Château Lagrange 2010, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: Owned by Suntory Group since 1983, while Château Lagrange always seems to bone up in top vintages, in lesser years it almost always underperforms. With this in mind, the ’10 represents an exceptional turnout. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine delivers alluring, unusually ‘complete’ aromas of currants, blackberries, blueberries, licorice, spring flowers, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Quite complex, realizing outstanding fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and impeccable, tightly wound hint of currants, blackberries, and dried blueberries on the finish. Excellent structure, balance, and elegance; if only this estate made wines like this on a more regular basis. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. Now-2039+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93    $99.00 (#229807)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Lascombes 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: One of the largest Classified Growths in the appellation (83ha), the wines of Château Lascombes have always seemed laboured even in the best of years; though the 2010 may finally indicate a turn of the page. Extremely dense ruby in colour, this stellar claret highlights abundant, multilayered aromas of currants, mocha, blackberries, dried raspberries, kirsch liqueur, scorched earth, vanilla, spice. Very complex, featuring superlative, well-structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an excellent, fairly compact hint of currants, dried blackberries, and licorice on the finish. Considerably concentrated, in-depth, and finesse-driven, this is definitely the finest wine I’ve ever tasted from here. 55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2036+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93    $169.00 (#323253)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Malartic-Lagravière 2010, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: In all probability, the 2010 Malartic-Lagravière shall serve as the gold standard for most future reds at this fast-improving estate. Opaque ruby in colour, it provides inviting, generous aromas of blackberry treacle, currants, cherries, licorice, dried figs, forest floor, nutted elements, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, boasting delicious, fully attenuated fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant, even sumptuous hint of blackberry treacle, licorice, and minerals on the finish. Fantastic structure, power, and breadth. 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2035++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93    $85.00 (#258962)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Marquis de Terme 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Lesser-known Fourth Growth owned by the Sénéclauze family, the 2010 Marquis de Terme effortlessly rivals many of the more widely recognized properties throughout the Left Bank. Unusually dense black-ruby in colour with a trace of purple, it opts for surprisingly indulgent aromas of mocha-espresso, currants, blackberry treacle, blueberries, kirsch, licorice, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring finely textured, full-bodied fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an absolutely beautiful, outgoing hint of plummy currants, charcoal, and licorice on the finish. Fabulous expression, balance, and degree of attraction; quite the surprise. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2034++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93    $69.00 (#323261)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Outpost 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain (Napa Valley), California: My only note from this winery up until now, winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown’s 2009 Outpost Cabernet Sauvignon is of amazing calibre, style, and depth. Opaque purple-ruby in colour, the wine is beautifully toasted, delivering seductive aromas of black mocha/espresso, currants, blackberries, and alternate black fruits; switching to tertiary notes of subtle spring flowers, licorice, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, presenting abundant fruit, smooth yet finely structured tannins, milder acidity, and a long-lasting, hedonistic hint of black mocha and plummy blackberries on the finish. Glorious bottling, this will easily keep over the long term. Now-2026. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2012)

 

93    Price Unavailable (#278044)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Château Pavie Macquin 2010, St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Along with Larcis Ducasse and several other properties, the Corre family’s Château Pavie Macquin has been administered by Nicolas Thienpont since the early-1990s. Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, the titanic ’10 discloses powerful, über-Parkerized aromas of blackberry compote and currants (slightly sinewy and leathery); giving way to dark raspberries, licorice, kirsch, crème brûlée, ‘thick’ black fruits, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, possessing remarkably sumptuous fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a long-lasting, decadent hint of blackberry compote, licorice, and kirsch liqueur on the finish. Extremely weighty, extracted, and long; this blockbuster will keep for at least twenty-five years. 85% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Now-2038+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93    $185.00 (#260711)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château La Pointe 2010, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Situated near Libourne, under present ownership the wines of Château La Pointe have never been better—at least that’s impression my latest notes (however few) seem to indicate. Opaque black-ruby in colour, the exquisite ’10 delivers innately inviting aromas of mocha/espresso, plummy currants, blackberry compote, licorice, spring flowers, charcoal, ‘blackened’ earth, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with remarkably supple fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, extremely delicious hint of plummy currants and mocha on the finish. Archetypal Pomerol, wielding terrific structure, fatness, and attack. 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. Now-2033++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93    $38.54 (Private Order)     Bootle (France)

 

Château Prieuré-Lichine 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: From one of the most fragmented properties on the Left Bank (numbering roughly forty different parcels), the 2010 Prieuré-Lichine is a clear-cut overachiever. Extremely dense ruby in colour, it delivers enticing, multilayered aromas of black currants and plummy blue fruits; switching to dark raspberried cherries, kirsch, spring flowers, forest floor, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, possessing outstandingly elegant, silky fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a wonderful hint of near-velvety currants, raspberries, and minerals on the finish. Exquisite structure, style, and balance, the breed of this wine is truly uncanny. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2034++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93    $54.06 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Château Troplong Mondot 2010, St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Reaching a staggering 15.5% alcohol, the ultra-powerful style of the 2010 Troplong Mondot will please some and dismay others. To my mind, this is Parkerization (combined with climate change) run amuck; and were it not for the wine’s glorious integration and sense of cohesion, my score would have been much lower. Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, it provides hedonistic, port-like aromas of sinewy blackberry liqueur and alternate black fruits; switching to currants, crème de cassis, dried strawberries, chocolate, leather, tar, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, wielding boisterously concentrated fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a persistent, abundant hint of blackberry liqueur, licorice, and currants on the finish. Wholly sumptuous, long-lasting, and entirely unlike anything I’ve yet to encounter out of St-Emilion. 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Now-2045+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93    $235.00 (#262345)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Casanova di Neri 2007 Pietradonice, IGT Toscana, Tuscany, Italy: Super Tuscan bottling of stellar Brunello producer Casanova di Neri, the 2007 Pietradonice is a very worthy collectible. Opaque red currant in colour, the wine is beautifully toasted, featuring abundant aromas of chocolate, currants, blackberries, plums, roasted meats, undergrowth, leather, balsam traces, and a hint of black olives, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, wielding exquisite, decadent fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a sumptuous hint of chocolate, blackberry treacle, and delicate cedarwood on the finish. Intoxicating texture, flavour, and length. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2025. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2012)

 

92++    $79.00 (#103085)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Château La Couspaude 2010, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: In a very brief period of time, proprietor Jean-Claude Aubert’s 7-ha estate has managed to turn heads with a streak of fabulous vintages. Opaque ruby in colour, the 2010 Château La Couspaude reveals alluring, extremely indulgent aromas of mocha, blackberries, plums, black cherries, licorice, charcoal/asphalt, pain grille, subtle strawberries and forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, carrying outstanding, well-styled fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a persistent, exhilarating hint of mocha extract, blackberries, and plums on the finish. First-rate harmony, smoothness, structure, and balance. 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2036+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92++    $95.00 (#322487)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Lafon-Rochet 2010, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France: Though differently styled, the 2010 Lafon-Rochet is qualitatively tied with the decadent ’09 and the classic ’05 in my humble opinion. Opaque ruby in colour, it showcases truly beautiful, atypically ‘widespread’ aromas of currants, blackberries, plums, blueberries, delicate herbal elements, asphalt/crushed rocks, incense, pain grille, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring exquisite fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an expressive, slightly chewy hint of currants, dried spring flowers, and mineral traces on the finish. Exceptional concentration, structure, and harmony. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot. Now-2037+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92++    $75.00 (#257295)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Mollydooker 2009 The Velvet Glove Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia: Despite its ridiculous bottle shape and obvious Parkerization, the 2009 Velvet Glove Shiraz remains the best wine I’ve tasted from this madcap operation to date. Opaque ruby in colour and beautifully toasted, it exhibits enticing, desirably saturated aromas of rich blackberry/blueberry treacle, black mocha extract, spring flowers, raspberry parfait, leather, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, boasting extremely sumptuous, powerful fruit, firm yet slightly supple tannins, very mild acidity, and a longlasting, muscular hint of blackberry/blueberry treacle and chocolate on the finish. Gloriously decadent, extracted, and lasting. Screwcap closure. Now-2030. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92++    $211.00 (#242784)     Vintages October 2012 Classics Collection

 

Château Phélan Ségur 2010, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France: Unquestionably the best vintage yet for this highly consistent establishment, the Gardinier family’s 2010 Phélan Ségur every bit equals the other Classified Growths of St-Estèphe. Opaque ruby in colour, it delivers enticing, close-knit aromas of dark currants and crème de cassis; giving way to black cherries, plums, strawberries, licorice, charcoal, forest floor, scorched earth traces, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with wonderful fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant, fully realized hint of currants, espresso, and mineral traces on the finish. Fabulous layering, harmony, and focus. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49% Merlot. Now-2035+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92++    $69.00 (#260505)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château du Tertre 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Possibly the greatest overachiever of the vintage, the 2010 Château du Tertre is unlike anything I have ever examined from the estate. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it features glorious, unusually concentrated aromas of ‘silky’ blackberried currants (almost liqueur-styled), black raspberries, plums, dried blueberries, violets, licorice, minerals, herbs, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, retaining exceptional full-bodied fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, outstanding hint of currants and dried blueberries/raspberries (slightly floral) on the finish. Excellent extraction, style, texture, and balance—bravo! 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. Now-2033. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92++    $59.00 (#323204)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Batailley 2010, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: Owned by the Castéja family since the early-1960s, recent vintages of Fifth Growth Château Batailley have been more fine-tuned and better layered than ever before. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ’10 features inviting ‘Pauillac-styled’ aromas of moderate mocha, currants, dried cherries, licorice, spring flowers, and a hint of forest floor, graphite, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, sporting remarkable fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a deliciously supple hint of currants, dried blackberries, and mocha remnants on the finish. Wonderful offering, delivering real structure, harmony, and breed. 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Now-2032+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92+    $65.00 (#259218)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château La Cabanne 2010, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Lesser-known estate with a growing reputation, the 2010 Château la Cabanne delivers indulgent smoothness, structure, and balance. Opaque ruby in colour, this beauty details exemplary, slightly ‘inward’ aromas of mocha, plums, dried currants and flowers, licorice, pain grille, wild game traces, scorched earth, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring incredibly supple, well-styled fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an extremely delicious, almost velvety hint of mocha and plummy currants on the finish. Superlative flesh, layering, and desirable fat. The vineyard is planted to 92% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. Now-2031++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92+    $69.00 (#323071)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Carbonnieux 2010, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: Far and away a total overachiever, the Perrin family’s 2010 Château Carbonnieux performs well above its weight. Opaque ruby in colour, it displays enticing, terrific aromas of currants, blackberries, plums, licorice, minerals, delicate forest floor, mild mocha, vanilla, and spice. Complex, wielding deliciously supple fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an impeccable hint of currants, minerals, and manageable mocha extract on the finish. Surprisingly sumptuous, robust, and exceedingly pleasurable—bravo. The vineyard is planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92+    $49.00 (#259085)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Chasse-Spleen 2010, Moulis-en-Médoc AOC, Bordeaux, France: One of the finest estates in Moulis-en-Médoc, the 2010 Chasse-Spleen, relatively inward when examined, may very well turn out to be the best wine Céline Villars-Foubet has ever presided over. Opaque ruby in colour, it discloses enticing aromas of currants and floral red fruits; switching to dark dried cherries and blueberries, licorice, pain grille, subtle underbrush and wild game, espresso, vanilla, and spice. Complex, featuring superbly elegant fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a marvellous hint of plummy red currants on the finish. Engaging, excellently structured, and built for a bright future. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2034++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92+    $45.00 (#257220)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château La Croix de Gay 2010, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Managed by Alain Raynaud and Chantal Lebreton, the 13-ha La Croix de Gay has proven track record for consistent, occasionally excellent Pomerol. Opaque ruby in colour, the impeccable ’10 exhibits beautiful, slightly ‘singed’ aromas of mocha and dark red fruits; switching to plums, blackberries, licorice, raspberry/strawberry parfait, vanilla, and spice. Quite complex, providing deliciously supple fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, fully integrated hint of mocha, currants, and plummy red fruits on the finish. Superbly flavoured, textured, and balanced, even at 14.5% alcohol this is one excellent claret. According to one source: 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92+    $47.00 (#259150)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château La Dominique 2010, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Abundant and absolutely harmonious, the 2010 Château La Dominique succeeds where most other Parkerized wines fall short (hedonistic though they might be). Opaque ruby in colour and finely toasted, it discloses enticing aromas of blackberry compote and chocolate; switching to brambling cherries, slightly sinewy red/black fruits, forest floor elements, asphalt, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting exquisite, powerful yet fully ‘controlled’ fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a decadent hint of blackberry compote, dark mocha, and blue fruit traces on the finish. Superlative richness, structure, and balance, great aging potential for those with enough patience. 85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Now-2036++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92+    $74.00 (#259978)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Durfort-Vivens 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Along with fellow Second Growths Lascombes and Rauzan-Gassies, Gonzague Lurton’s Château Durfort-Vivens often struggles to live up to its status; though the ’10 represents a superlative outing by previous standards. Opaque black-ruby in colour, it showcases beautiful, deeply fragrant aromas of black currants, dark cherries, violets, forest floor, charcoal, herbal and mineral elements, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with excellent fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, almost silky hint of black fruits, raspberries, and herbs (slightly vegetal) on the finish. Glorious flavour, finesse, and structure. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. Now-2034+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92+    $85.00 (#323212)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château La Lagune 2010, Haut-Médoc AOC, Bordeaux, France: Under manager and oenologist Caroline Frey, the wines of Château La Lagune are nowadays reaching new heights. Opaque ruby in colour, the terrific ‘10 presents stellar, elegant aromas of slightly fragrant currants and black fruits; switching to dark cherries, licorice, espresso, mineral traces, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, possessing exceptional, beautifully styled fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superlative hint of currants, black fruits, and delicate espresso/minerals on the finish. First-rate structure, balance, and breed. The vineyard is planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. Now-2034+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92+    $95.00 (#259606)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Michele Chiarlo 2007 Cerequio, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy: Over the years, I’ve tasted the wines of Michele Chiarlo many times, but until now have yet to make any formal notes. Sourced from the glorious Cerequio vineyard, the 2007 Barolo, medium ruby-red currant in colour, sports classic aromas of cherries (with a slight Provençal feel about it); switching to tar, rose petals, tealeaves, smoke, undergrowth, and spice. Very complex, with superbly elegant, tightly layered fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a keenly refined hint of cherries, dried plums, and tealeaves on the finish. Impeccable elegance, balance, sturdiness, and focus. Now-2025+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92+    $71.10 (Private Order)     Wine Speak Wine (USA)

 

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2008, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy: Sourced from various vineyards, the 2008 Barolo delivers remarkable style, balance, and pedigree. Medium-dark ruby in colour, the wine reveals elegant, inviting aromas of fragrant dark cherries, licorice, white truffles, spearmint, tar, and well-integrated nuances of blackberry liqueur, rose petals, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, sporting excellent, whimsical fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, impactful hint of cherries, plummy blueberries, and truffle evocations on the finish. Outstanding non-vineyard-specific Barolo; this will last well over a dozen years. Now-2025++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92+    Currently Unavailable     Trialto Wine Group (Private Order)

 

Château Fourcas Hosten 2010, Listrac-Médoc AOC, Bordeaux, France: Quite possibly the greatest bargain of the vintage, the 2010 Château Fourcas Hosten defies all expectations. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine exhibits inspiring, elegant aromas of currants and delicate espresso; making way for blue fruits, graphite, smoke traces, vanilla, and spice. Complex, possessing wonderful, intricately layered fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a compact, delicious hint of currants, dried blueberries, and mineral deposits on the finish. Excellent potential, structure, flavour, and harmony. I’ll be picking up a case. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92+    $27.00 (#323329)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Gloria 2010, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: Under the same ownership as Château St-Pierre, Françoise Triaud’s Château Gloria is widely considered the finest non-Classed Growth in St-Julien. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ’10 demonstrates exciting aromas of dark ‘crunchy’ currants, blackberries, plums, licorice, kirsch, pain grille, grilled herbs, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring well-structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an entirely elegant, almost silky hint of currants, plums, and herbs (plus a dash of kirsch) on the finish. Great character, finesse, and breadth—excellent performance. The vineyard is planted to 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2035. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92+    $69.00 (#259945)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Grand-Puy Ducasse 2010, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: The most ambitious wine I’ve yet to taste from here, the 2010 Grand-Puy Ducasse suggests recent improvements at this still-underperforming property have been highly worthwhile. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine delivers compelling aromas of black cherried currants and plums; quickly switching to kirsch, cookie crumble, graphite, licorice, underbrush traces, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, boasting excellent fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant, delicious hint of dark cherried currants and subtle kirsch on the finish. Superb structure, balance, and poignancy of flavour—a significant success. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Now-2032. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92+    $74.00 (#322925)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Petit-Village 2010, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Having tasted from here on many occasions, the wines of Petit-Village (owned by AXA Millésimes) have long been inconsistent; though recent vintages suggest more permanent changes may be in the works. Opaque ruby in colour, the terrific ’10 delivers superb aromas of currants, plums, red fruits, moderate mocha, scorched earth, pain grille, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring impeccable full-bodied fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant, expectedly (though not undesirably) midweight hint of plummy currants, mocha, and red fruits on the finish. Remarkably delectable, supple, and refined. 75% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92+    $63.20 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Poggio San Polo 2007, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Owned by the Fertonani family, the wines of Poggio San Polo enjoy a well-founded reputation; though to date I’ve only tasted a few of their wines. Dark-red garnet in colour, the 2007 Brunello displays impeccable, albeit ‘compact’ aromas of dried cherries and red fruits; quickly switching to leather, underbrush, forest floor, wild game, white pepper, cedarwood, and spice. Very complex, sporting outstanding, finely layered fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a focused, refined hint of dried cherries, wild game, and cedarwood on the finish. Wonderful structure, style, and elegance. Now-2028. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2011)

 

92+    $49.00 (#650812)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Château Talbot 2010, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: All elegance and grace, the 2010 Château Talbot, in perfect keeping with the style of claret that has always been made here, is neither excessively concentrated nor overly reliant on oak. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it details beautiful aromas of ‘crunchy’ currants, plums, dried cherries and strawberries, loamy earth traces, grilled herbs, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring excellent fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a terrific hint of currants, plums, and scorched earth traces (plus a shred of minerality) on the finish. Remarkable breed, finesse, and harmony. 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and 37% Merlot. Now-2030+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92+    $95.00 (#259630)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Domaine du Vieux Lazaret 2007 Cuvée Exceptionnelle, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Rhône, France: Top bottling of the Quiot family (proprietors of Vieux Lazaret), the 2007 Cuvée Exceptionnelle is certainly more serious than most vintages of the standard Châteauneuf produced here. Opaque ruby in colour and evolving slowly, it reveals remarkable aromas of ‘rugged’ red/black Provençal fruits and herbs; switching to leather, licorice, loamy earth, gentle cedarwood, and spice. Very complex, sporting superb, elegant fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superlative hint of ‘rugged’ red/black fruits and underbrush on the finish. Great attitude, structure, and breed. Grenache and Syrah (percentages unknown). Now-2024. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92+    $50.00 (#957274)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Château d’Armailhac 2010, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: Under the same ownership as Mouton Rothschild since 1933, recent vintages of Château d’Armailhac have never been better. Opaque ruby in colour, the ’10 reveals immensely elegant, expressive aromas of currants, cherries, slightly floral red fruits, licorice, grilled herbs, underbrush, vanilla, and spice. Quite complex, retaining marvellous, finely integrated fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a delicious hint of currants and dried black cherries on the finish. Remarkable fullness, focus, and strength. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. Now-2032+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92    $79.00 (#258087)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Bouscaut 2010, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: As far as I am aware, the overachieving 2010 Bouscaut represents my only note from this winery to date. Opaque ruby in colour, this earnest claret delivers exceptional, elegant aromas of espresso-infused currants, blackberries, brambling black fruits, violets, graphite, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with fabulous fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a beautifully textured hint of currants, charcoal, and mineral deposits on the finish. Remarkable focus, structure, and ‘gravelly’ disposition. 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Malbec. Now-2034+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92    $49.00 (#322164)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Cantemerle 2010, Haut-Médoc AOC, Bordeaux, France: Although I possess few notes from this Fifth Growth, I have to believe director Philippe Dambrine’s 2010 Château Cantemerle is the greatest wine ever produced here. Opaque ruby in colour, it offers expressive, remarkable aromas of black currants, plums, blackberries, dried blueberries, crushed rocks, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, possessing excellent, finely structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a wholly elegant, robust hint of dark red and black fruits on the finish. Wonderful body, balance, and breed. 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92    $50.00 (#256610)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Clerc Milon 2010, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: Acquired by Baron Philippe de Rothschild in 1970, the wines of Clerc Milon have since enjoyed an excellent track record. Opaque ruby in colour, the ’10 features beautifully expressive, ‘compact’ aromas of currants and red fruits; switching to blackberries, pain grille, pencil lead, mocha, forest floor, grilled herb traces, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with delicious, full-bodied fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a pleasurable, appropriately outlined hint of currants, black cherries, and pain grille on the finish. Excellent plumpness, balance, and ‘Pauillac’ character. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, and 1% Carmenère. Now-2035.  (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92    $115.00 (#262592)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2008 Conca Tre Pile, Barbera d’Alba DOC, Piedmont, Italy: One of the most ambitious, most beautifully crafted Barberas I have ever tasted, the 2008 Conca Tre Pile bestows terrific intensity, balance, and depth. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it features gorgeously youthful aromas of fragrant black plums and alternate dark fruits; quickly switching to blueberries, licorice, mocha, tar, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with concentrated, deliciously styled fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a brilliant, flavourful hint of dark fruits, licorice, and white truffle nuances on the finish. Exceptional bottling, this can be cellared for least a dozen or more years. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92    $49.95 (Private Order)     Trialto Wine Group

 

Château Cos Labory 2010, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France: The smallest of the three Classified Growths in St-Estèphe (18ha), the Audoy family’s 2010 Cos Labory is a considerable treat. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine seems tight at present, alluding to superlative aromas of currants, blackberries, and purple fruits; switching to blueberries, crushed rocks, minerals, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Quite complex, possessing excellent fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, ‘compact’ hint of currants, crushed rocks, and purple plums on the finish. Remarkable structure, fullness, and balance—excellent claret. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot. Now-2034+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92    $63.00 (#322958)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château du Fieuzal 2010, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: One of few reds I’ve tasted from here, the 2010 Château de Fieuzal shows remarkable potential and weight. Opaque black-ruby in colour, it offers fabulous, noticeably youthful aromas of black mocha, crème de cassis, dark fruits, dried blueberry compote, cookie crumble, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, sporting delicious, well-established fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superlative, stylish hint of crème de cassis, espresso, and delicate mineral traces on the finish. Wonderful outline, robustness, and focus. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Now-2033++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92    $64.00 (#259614)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

San Felice 2007 Pugnitello, IGT Toscana, Tuscany, Italy: Named after a recently revived Tuscan red varietal, the 2007 Pugnitello is the best vintage yet for this promising grape. Opaque black-ruby in colour and finely toasted, it offers elegant, poignant aromas of black mocha- and nougat-infused currants, blackberries, forest floor, leather, walnuts, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, retaining wonderful, finely textured fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a brilliant hint of nougat-infused plummy currants on the finish. Delicious, focused, and insatiably impactful; this will keep over next dozen years with little concern. Now-2024. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2012)

 

92    $52.95 (#291419)     Vintages Shop Online

 

San Felice 2007 Vigorello, IGT Toscana, Tuscany, Italy: Super Tuscan blend of the estate, the 2007 Vigorello is a sumptuous treat. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, presenting enticing aromas of blackberry compote, plums, dessert nougat, forest floor, mocha, vanilla, and spice. Complex, featuring excellent, robust fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a fabulous, impactful hint of blackberry compote and dessert nougat on the finish. Superlative style, structure, and balance; drink now or keep for the next dozen years. Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot (percentages unknown). Now-2025. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2012)

 

92    $50.00 (#726463)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Château Ferrière 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Lesser-known Margaux Third Growth (only 8ha) under the same ownership as Chasse-Spleen, the exceedingly commendable 2010 Château Ferrière represents my only note from this estate to date. Opaque ruby in colour, it provides beautiful aromas of currants, black cherries, licorice, dried flowers, black/red fruits, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with excellently structured, well-flavoured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superb hint of dried raspberried currants and black fruits on the finish. Great breed, structure, and harmony—a keeper. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Now-2034. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92    $59.00 (#323220)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Haut-Bages Libéral 2010, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: Funny how the wines of Haut-Bages Libéral always perform well in blind tastings, yet are oftentimes overlooked when stacked against those of other properties out in the open. No matter: opaque ruby in colour, the excellent ’10 displays enticing aromas of plummy currants and moderate mocha; switching to ‘forested’ cherries, licorice, graphite, fragrant vanilla wafers, and spice. Quite complex, with superb fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant, expressive hint of ‘forested’ black cherried currants and delicate mocha on the finish. Great disposition, balance, structure, and breed. 72% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Merlot. Now-2032+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92    $68.00 (#259069)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château d’Issan 2000, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: With abundant pedigree and harmony, Emmanuel Cruse’s 2000 Château d’Issan is an obvious success story. Dark-opaque ruby-red currant in colour (slightly faded), this beautiful claret conveys a very compelling bouquet of ‘seasoned’ earthy red currants and blackberries; switching to dried cherries, raspberries, cedarwood, damp earth, tobacco, and spice. Very complex, wielding endearing, elegant fruit, still-firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an absolutely lovely hint of dried black fruits and earth-infused tobacco on the finish. Terrific expression and balance. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. Now-2020+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92    $83.72 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion 2010, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: With very few bases for comparison, it is difficult to measure the progress this château has made over the past several vintages. Either way, the 2010 Larrivet Haut-Brion is exceptional. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine features in-depth aromas of damson-tinged currants, blackberry treacle, herbed strawberries, crushed flowers, minerals, mocha, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with tightly structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a finely layered hint of currants and damson elements on the finish. Terrific ‘darkness’ of character, structure, and harmony. 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2032+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92    $49.00 (#259077)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Latour-Martillac 2010, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: Like many châteaux in Pessac-Léognan, the Kressmann family’s Latour Martillac has seen remarkable improvements in a very short time. Opaque ruby in colour, the ’10 features fulsome, ‘darkly fragranced’ aromas of blackberry compote, currants, plums, blueberries, strawberries, licorice, asphalt, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with tightly integrated fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superlative, elegant hint of blackberry compote, plums, and floral blueberry nuances on the finish. A real surprise: excellent body, structure, and depth. The vineyard is planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2034. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

92    $48.00 (#322263)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Tenuta Rocca 2007 San Pietro, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy: The only single-vineyard Barolo from this well-respected producer, the 2007 San Pietro is a sure-fire hit. Dark red-garnet in colour, the wine displays exemplary aromas of dried red fruits, cherries, tealeaves, leather, tar, underbrush, cedarwood, floral elements, and spice. Complex, featuring excellent fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an exceedingly elegant hint of dried red fruits and cedarwood on the finish. Impeccable orientation, structure, and balance; something of a backward, almost ‘quiet’ bottling at the moment—it should age brilliantly. Now-2026++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2012)

 

92    $50.00 (#103721)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Château Rol Valentin 2010, St-Emilion Grand Cru AOC, Bordeaux, France: Purchased by Vignobles Robin in 2009 from ex-footballer Eric Prissette, the 2010 Château Rol Valentin would seem to indicate that quality has remained unaltered at least thus far. Extremely dense ruby in colour and finely toasted, it exhibits luxurious aromas of dark mocha, cherry/blackberry treacle, crème de cassis, blueberries, licorice, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, delivering sumptuous fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a decadent, supple hint of mocha and plummy crème de cassis on the finish. Bold, balanced, and wonderfully concentrated; built to last at least two decades. 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92    $59.00 (#257592)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Angludet 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: As every bit the equal as the terrific ’05, the 2010 Château Angludet, while no longer the bargain it once was, really ought to be checked out. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine reveals superbly elegant aromas of black currants, plums, cherries, dried raspberries, minerals, herbal elements, vanilla, and spice. Complex, sporting delicious, full-bodied fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an excellent hint of currants, dark cherries/raspberries, and mineral deposits on the finish. Real lift, boldness, and grace; truly an excellent claret. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, and 12% Petit Verdot. Now-2031+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

91++    $79.00 (#323170)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château d’Angludet 2005, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Owned by the Sichel family since 1961 and always enjoyable as a mid-tier Margaux, recent vintages of Château d’Angludet seem to show better layering and full-bodiedness. Dark faded ruby in colour, the terrific ’05 details delightfully outgoing aromas of warm earth-infused currants, strawberries, licorice, red flower petals, forest floor, pain grille, graphite, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, retaining great fruit, firm yet slowly mellowing tannins, balanced acidity, and an exemplary, finesse-filled hint of currants, raspberries/red fruits, and scorched earth on the finish. Wonderful elegance, balance, and attitude. According to one source: 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91++    $48.96 (Private Order)     Davy’s Wine Merchants (UK)

 

Château Berliquet 2010, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: 9-ha property well situated on the limestone plateau, the wines of Château Berliquet have never been more powerful. Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, the über-saturated ’10 is beautifully toasted, displaying enticing aromas of blackberry treacle/liqueur, dark cherry compote, kirsch, licorice, forest floor, melted asphalt, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting exceedingly decadent fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an incredibly concentrated hint of blackberry liqueur and crème de cassis on the finish. Massively Parkerized, sumptuous, and lasting. 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2033++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

91++    $62.00 (#322412)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

La Dame de Montrose 2008, S-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France: Perennially underrated 'second wine’ of Château Montrose, the 2008 La Dame performs just as well—if not better than—a whole host of Cru Bourgeois-level estates. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it offers great aromas of aromas of currants, plums, black fruits, licorice, dried flowers, wild game, asphalt, vanilla, and spice. Complex, retaining truly beautiful fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a wholly elegant, even vibrant hint of currants and plums on the finish. Surprisingly supple, open-concept, and undeniably delicious; terrific claret. 56% Merlot and 44% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2024. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91++    $30.21 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Château La Tour Carnet 2010, Haut-Médoc AOC, Bordeaux, France: Remarkably different than the ’09 (though this might be more attributable to the glassware than anything else), the 2010 La Tour Carnet represents yet another marvellous outing for this much-improved operation. Opaque ruby in colour, it reveals expressive, almost ‘angular’ aromas of cherried black fruits, currants, licorice, delicate mocha, underbrush, pain grille, mild sinewy elements, vanilla, and spice. Quite complex, carrying excellent full-bodied fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superlative, close-knit hint of pure dark red plummy fruits on the finish. Superior attitude, structure, balance, and character. 60% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

91++    $54.00 (#259176)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Mollydooker 2010 Carnival of Love Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia: Abundant, fruit-oriented, and unmistakably Parkerized (still rather excellent), the 2010 Carnival of Love Shiraz demands hefty food accompaniments if for no other reason than to mitigate the colossal 15.5% alcohol. Opaque ruby in colour and finely toasted, it reveals enticing, forward aromas of black raspberries, plums, blueberry/blackberry compote, spring flowers, licorice, chocolate, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with powerful supple fruit and tannins, very mild acidity, and a lengthy, indulgent hint of pure black raspberry/blueberry liqueur on the finish. Outstanding intensity, flavour, and boldness. North American palates will adore this. Screwcap closure. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91++    $99.00 (#242743)     Vintages October 2012 Classics Collection

 

Château Rauzan-Ségla 2004, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Immensely pleasurable claret, the 2004 Rauzan-Ségla reflects the quality of this underrated vintage with absolute clarity. Dark-opaque faded ruby in colour, the wine features slightly spicy, engaging aromas of fragrant black fruits (aligned with dark earth), blackberries, licorice, Chinese tea, forest floor, and a hint of tobacco and spice. Complex, possessing superbly elegant fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a very beautiful hint of dried black fruits, licorice, and scorched earth on the finish. Coming along marvellously, with great structure, balance, and focus. According to one source: 52.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 1.5% Cabernet Franc. Now-2022++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91++    $61.18 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Clos Vieux Taillefer 2010, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Fledgling operation begun by Vignobles Robin, the 2010 Clos Vieux Taillefer (sourced from a 2.3-ha site with forty-year-old old vines) shows considerable promise. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, delivering inviting aromas of delicate mocha extract, plums, currants, red fruits, licorice, pain grille, and a hint of roasted meats, coffee, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring deliciously supple fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, slightly velvety hint of plummy currants and moderate mocha on the finish. Excellent expression, balance, and non-excessive concentration. 100% Merlot. Now-2028+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91++    Price Unavailable     Private Collection

 

Château de Camensac 2010, Haut-Médoc AOC, Bordeaux, France: One of the least distinguished Classified Growths on the Left Bank, even Château de Camensac managed to produce a superb wine in 2010. Opaque ruby in colour with purple highlights, it reveals beautiful, promising aromas of currants and blackberries (both slightly singed); switching to licorice, incense, asphalt, scorched earth, vanilla, and spice. Complex, possessing great fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lifted hint of blackberries, asphalt, and delicate purple fruits on the finish. Bold, balanced, and delicious; a real success. The vineyard is planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Now-2031+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

91+    $45.00 (#323154)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Chauvin 2009, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Situated on sandy soils in the ‘Graves’ section of St-Emilion, the 15-ha Château Chauvin has long enjoyed a fine reputation. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ’09 is finely toasted, delivering decadent yet well-moderated aromas of currants, plums, blackberries, cherries, subtle mocha, licorice, espresso, graphite, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with beautifully structured fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an exceptional hint of plums, licorice, and mocha on the finish. Marvellous balance, body, and breed. According to one source: the vineyard is currently planted to 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2026. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91+    $32.72 (Private Order)     La Bergere (France)

 

Henschke 2008 Keyneton Euphonium, Barossa, South Australia, Australia: Better than the ’08, the 2009 Keyneton Euphonium is a first-rate blend of 62% Shiraz, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, and 7% Cabernet Franc, sourced from the Barossa and Eden Valleys. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it presents exceptional aromas of briary black fruits, strawberries, dark raspberries, eucalyptus, leather, and a hint of vanilla and spice. Complex, possessing beautifully polished fruit, firm yet slightly supple tannins, mild acidity, and a lingering, well-styled hint of briary black fruits on the finish. Excellent balance, disposition, and flavour. Screwcap closure. Now-2021++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91+    $59.95 (Private Order)     B & W Wines

 

Château Maucaillou 2010, Moulis AOC, Bordeaux, France: By most standards, the 2010 Château Maucaillou represents exceptional value for money. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine details attractive, highly refined aromas of pseudo-fragrant currants, black and red fruits, dried strawberries, pain grille/pencil lead traces, underbrush, vanilla, and spice. Quite complex, sporting outstanding fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a delicious, accessible yet well-structured hint of currants and red fruits on the finish. Great openness, balance, sophistication, and elegance. The vineyard is planted to 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot. Now-2028+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

91+    $35.00 (#323097)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Langmeil 2009 Orphan Bank Shiraz, Barossa, South Australia, Australia: Crafted from vines over ninety years of age, the 2009 Orphan Block Shiraz is both exceedingly delicious and fulsome. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, offering beautiful aromas of fragrant black currants, mocha, licorice, wild spring flowers, vanilla icing, and spice. Complex, possessing excellent, well-defined fruit, firm tannins, mild acidity, and a superb, long-lasting hint of plummy currants, licorice, and eucalyptus on the finish. Stylish, characterful, and very powerful at 15.7% alcohol. Screwcap closure. Now-2025. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91+    $59.95 (Private Order)     B & W Wines

 

Château Rauzan-Gassies 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: As with other vintages of late, the 2010 Rauzan-Gassies, while undoubtedly a superior wine, nonetheless remains unrepresentative of its Second Growth status. No matter: opaque ruby in colour, the ’10 delivers attractive, fully ‘packaged’ aromas of currants, cherries, raspberries, licorice, underbrush, delicate minerals, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with beautiful fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an easygoing, completely refined hint of currants, cherries, and raspberry traces on the finish. Marvellous expression, finesse, and balance. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2034. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

91+    $94.00 (#323279)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château d’Angludet 2004, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Examined alongside the first-class ’05 at a recent gathering, the 2004 Château d’Angludet is as study as they come. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine issues beautiful aromas of dried currants and blackberries, strawberries, delicate forest floor, scorched earth, minerals, fragrant notes, and spice. Complex, with extremely elegant fruit, still-very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an excellent hint of refined currants, licorice, and scorched earth traces on the finish. Great character, structure, and refinement. The vineyard is planted to 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. Now-2022+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91    $43.71 (Private Order)     Frazier’s Wine Merchants (UK)

 

Château Grand Mayne 2010, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Highly admired for some time, the wines of Grand Mayne always seem to deliver excellent results. Opaque ruby in colour, proprietor Marie-Françoise Nony’s marvellous ’10 reveals attractive, potent aromas of dark plums, blackberries, cherry liqueur, forest floor, fig paste, mocha, vanilla, and spice. Complex, featuring delicious, rather powerful fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a delicious, lingering hint of dark plums, cherry/strawberry liqueur, and fig paste on the finish. Great depth, structure, and character. 76% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2025++.  (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

91    $69.00 (#322479)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Louis Jadot 2007, Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Les Suchots AOC, Burgundy, France: Sourced from the largest Premier Cru vineyard (13.08ha) in the commune, the 2007 Les Suchots is of first-rate calibre at the medium-weight range; which is typical of the vintage. Medium ruby in colour with a trace of red currant, the wine presents outgoing, expressive aromas of raspberries, plums, strawberries, licorice, loamy earth traces, rhubarb, and a hint of dried herbs, vanilla extract, and spice. Complex, retaining truly fine fruit, reasonably firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a beautiful hint of dried raspberries and mineral elements on the finish. Great style, balance, and class. Now-2016++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91    $72.00 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Château Labégorce 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Owned by the Perrodo family since 1989, recent vintages of Château Labégorce seemed to have gained a little extra muscle. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ’10 delivers superb, fairly fragrant aromas of currants, plums, cherry liqueur, minerals, and a trace of underbrush, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting incredibly elegant fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, well-endowed hint of currants and dark floral red fruits on the finish. Marvellous character, balance, and elegance; excellent performance. The vineyard is planted to 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Now-2027+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

91    $39.00 (#323246)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Lynch Bages 2001, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France (3L): Tasted out of double magnum, the 2001 Lynch Bages is now entering maturity with pride. Dark red currant in colour, this understated beauty features a beautiful bouquet of cedar-driven black fruits, dried cherries, tobacco, scorched earth, cigarbox, grilled herbs, and spice. Very complex, possessing great ‘mellow’ fruit, still-firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a delicious hint of cedary currants on the finish. Totally elegant, balanced, and harmonious; this will keep another decade with little fuss. 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. Now-2024. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

91    $895.00 (#252775)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Château Laroque 2006, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Acquired by the Beaumartin family in 1935, Château Laroque is currently the largest estate in St-Emilion (67ha). Opaque ruby in colour with a trace of red currant, the ’06 is maturing steadily, providing more ‘tertiary’ aromas of dried currants and mocha; switching to slightly sinewy-savoury cherries, strawberries, licorice, forest floor, and a hint of kirsch liqueur, coffee, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with beautiful fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superb hint of dried plummy currants, licorice, and minor sinewy nuances on the finish. Somewhat chunky, nonetheless deliciously full-bodied and balanced. 88% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2022++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91    $49.95 (#235481)     Vintages 9 July 2011 Release

 

Château Phélan Ségur 2004, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France: Evolving slowly, the 2004 Phélan Ségur, while hardly a showstopper, should nonetheless sufficiently impress claret lovers with its uninhibited sense of elegance of harmony. Dark ruby-red currant in colour, it displays refined, easygoing aromas of plummy currants, blackberries, licorice, pain grille, underbrush/forest floor, and the slightest trace of cedarwood and spice. Complex, with excellently integrated fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a soothing hint of plummy currants and dried licorice on the finish. Marvellous. According to one source: 50% Merlot, 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Now-2021+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91    $41.34 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Château Phélan Ségur 2008, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France: Dark-ruby in colour, the first-rate 2008 Phélan Ségur is finely toasted, featuring inviting, ‘confident’ aromas of currants, plums, dried fruits, forest floor, asphalt, underbrush, subtle gamey elements, and spice. Complex, with great fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, singular hint of currants and dried plums on the finish. Superbly structured and balanced, proprietor Thierry Gardinier should pat himself on the back for yet another totally harmonious, utterly appreciable outing. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Now-2023+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91    $49.00 (#580928)     Vintages 2008 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Pontet Chappaz 2008, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the under-the-radar 2008 Pontet Chappaz is finely toasted, disclosing beautiful fragrant aromas of currants, plums, black cherries (slightly wild), dried raspberries, crushed rocks, leather, forest floor, and a hint of vanilla and spice. Complex, retaining tight yet delicious fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superb hint of floral currants and crushed rocks on the finish. Great midweight Margaux of real structure, elegance, and breed; this should be vigorously decanted if drunk young. From what I can gather, the vineyard is planted to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2022+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2011)

 

91    $39.95 (#243956)     Vintages 17 September 2011 Release

 

Domaine La Roquète 2009 L’Accent de La Roquète, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Rhône, France: Top wine of the domaine, the 2009 L’Accent de La Roquète is crafted from vines roughly sixty years of age. Dark ruby in colour, the ’09 presents appetizing aromas of dark raspberries, currants, and figs; switching to dried cherries, underbrush, and a hint of savoury herbs and spice. Complex, boasting delicious, ‘deceptively midweight’ fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a terrific hint of dried red fruits/figs, raspberries, and underbrush on the finish. Great character, balance, and structure. According to their website: mainly Grenache, plus roughly 10% Mourvèdre. Now-2020++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91    $80.00 (#65565)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Le Vieux Donjon 2009, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Rhône, France: Dark ruby in colour, the 2009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape displays refined, inviting aromas of Provençal-derived raspberries and blackberry compote; switching to plums, licorice, lavender, leather, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring beautifully textured fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, expressive hint of dark raspberries, plums, and English lavender on the finish. Definitely better than the ’08, with much greater density, robustness, and aging potential—a sign of better things to come? Roughly 80% Grenache, the rest Syrah and Mourvèdre. Now-2023++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2011)

 

91    $57.95 (#700922)     Vintages 12 November 2011 Release

 

Quintarelli 2008 Primofiore, IGT Veneto, Veneto, Italy: One of many entirely individualistic blends produced at Quintarelli, the 2008 Primofiore delivers excellent character and polish. Dark red currant in colour, it offers beautiful aromas of wild red fruits and cherries; quickly making way for underbrush (slightly sinewy), cedarwood, seaweed, herbs, and spice. Complex, with deliciously original, impactful fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superb hint of delicate chocolate, underbrush, and sinewy red fruits on the finish. Very classy and appetizing. Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Now-2022+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

91    $56.95 (#20867)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Château Fombrauge 2008, St-Emilion Grand Cru AOC, Bordeaux, France: Taken over by Bernard Magrez in 1999, the wines of Château Fombrauge have never been better. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ’08 is finely toasted, boasting inviting aromas of ripe plummy currants, black mocha (intermixed with scorched earth), licorice, incense, graphite, leather, vanilla, and spice. Complex, featuring deliciously polished fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an expressive, ‘modern’ hint of chocolate shavings and plummy currants on the finish. Appetizing, well-integrated, and balanced; excellent showing. 77% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2022++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2011)

 

90++    $45.00 (#235556)     Vintages 17 September 2011 Release

 

Château Meyney 2008, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France: Though the estates are entirely unrelated, I’ve often thought the bottle label of Château Meyney slightly resembles that of Fourth Growth Chateau Talbot. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ’08 of the former is mildly toasted, intimating exceptional aromas of slightly briary currants, plums, brambleberries, mocha, incense, and a hint of lavender, figs, and spice. Complex, with tight yet well-integrated fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined hint of briary currants on the finish. Extremely satisfying, finely structured, and elegant. 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Now-2021++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2011)

 

90++    $42.95 (#245811)     Vintages 17 September 2011 Release

 

Château Beau-Site 2004, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France: Overpriced in this market, Château Beau-Site is owned by the forward-looking Castéja family. Dark red currant with a touch of garnet, the ’04 is aging with ease, featuring a savoury bouquet of cedar-infused currants, leather, graphite, wild game, and spice. Complex, with beautiful ‘claret’ fruit, fine tannins, balanced acidity, and a great hint of savoury currants and graphite on the finish. Superb Cru Bourgeois-level structure, leanness, and balance. The vineyard is planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2011)

 

90+    $37.95 (#967844)     Vintages 12 November 2011 Release

 

Carpineto 2006, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Dark-opaque ruby in colour with a trace of red currant, the 2006 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva displays soothing aromas of dried cedar-oriented red and black fruits, underbrush, leather, tobacco, roasted meats, and spice. Complex, retaining superb, ‘dark’ traditional fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an innately refined hint of wild plums, tobacco, and cedary nuances on the finish. Great balance, harmony, structure, and aging potential. Now-2020++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

90+    $29.95 (#368910)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Château Chauvin 2008, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Tasted alongside the ’09 at a recent gathering, the 2008 Château Chauvin is both finely crafted and delicious. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine displays inviting aromas of dried mocha extract and black cherried plums; switching to licorice, red fruits, forest floor, toasted oak, vanilla, and spice. Complex, carrying beautiful fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a slightly silky hint of plums and red fruits on the finish. Superb orientation and balance; this should last a decade. According to one source: the vineyard is currently planted to 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2023. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

90+    $30.11 (Private Order)     La Bergere (France)

 

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2009 Il Favot Nebbiolo, Langhe DOC, Piedmont, Italy: Sourced from younger vines (up to twenty years) from various sites in Bussia, the Il Favot label is clearly the most accessible wine out of the astonishing Conterno lineup. Medium-dark ruby in colour, the ’09 is rather tight at present, boasting beautiful aromas of plums, dried cherries and wild blueberries, licorice, grilled herbs, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with delicious fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, ‘open’ hint of fresh plums and licorice on the finish. First-rate freshness, balance, and integration. 100% Nebbiolo. Now-2020. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

90+    Currently Unavailable     Trialto Wine Group (Private Order)

 

Château Corbin 2006, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Dark ruby in colour with the slightest trace of red currant, the 2006 Château Corbin reveals enticing chocolaty aromas of plummy currants and red fruits; switching to dried cherries, underbrush, cigarbox traces, smoke, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting deliciously supple fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a smooth, lingering hint of dried mocha extract and plummy red fruits on the finish. First-rate appeal, balance, and breed; this will surely keep another seven years without fail. 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Now-2019+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

90+    $22.78 (Private Order)     Boottle (France)

 

Château La Croix-de-Gay 2008, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Consistently reliable as a midweight Pomerol, proprietor Chantal Lebreton’s 2008 La Croix-de-Gay possesses great texture, elegance, and flavour. Dark ruby in colour with a trace of red currant, the wine is lightly toasted, offering beautiful aromas of plums, mild mocha extract, licorice, forest floor, raspberry traces, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Complex, carrying very fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, confident hint of blackberries and licorice on the finish. Marvellously crafted, this should keep for the rest of the decade and beyond. The vineyard is planted to roughly 80% Merlot, the rest Cabernet Franc. Now-2020++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2012)

 

90+    $39.00 (#136879)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Château Croizet-Bages 2010, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: Under the same ownership as Rauzan-Gassies, Château Croizet-Bages continues to underperform in even the best of vintages; though the ’10 (were it better priced in our market) is worth taking a look at. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine displays beautiful, ‘honest’ aromas of currants, cherries, plums, licorice, dried/grilled herbs, scorched earth, vanilla, and spice. Complex, carrying appetizingly round fruit, very firm tannins (a tad coarse), balanced acidity, and a delicious hint of plummy currants and cherries on the finish. Great roundness, structure, and balance. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Now-2026+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

90+    $59.00 (#322917)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Desmirail 2010, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Owned by Denis Lurton since 1992, the wines of Château Desmirail have improved in both consistently and quality; though further efforts are certainly warranted. No matter: dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ’10 reveals superb aromas of mineral-laced currants, blackberries, cherries, licorice, wild game elements, and a hint of plum sauce, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with marvellous, elegant fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, robust hint of currants, licorice, and blackberry liqueur traces on the finish. Great framework, balance, and lift. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Now-2029. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

90+    $52.00 (#323196)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Faust 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California: Named after the famed German poet’s masterpiece, Faust vineyards is located is Coombsville, Napa’s newest American Viticultural Area (AVA). Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is very finely toasted, exhibiting lovely, even elegant aromas of black cherried currants and plums, delicate licorice, mild leather, and a hint of mocha, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with delicious, well-structured fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering hint of ‘dusty’ mocha and currants on the finish. Excellent structure, balance, and flavour. Also contains 13% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec, and 2% Petit Verdot. Now-2017++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2011)

 

90+    $39.95 (#238261)     Vintages 17 September 2011 Release

 

Château Lalande-Borie 2008, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: Lesser-known estate created by the Borie family (think Ducru-Beaucaillou), in good vintages the wines of Château Lalande-Borie are certainly worth seeking out. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ’08 exhibits reserved aromas of black cherried currants (somewhat earth-driven); switching to plums, wild flowers, leather, lavender, and a hint of incense and spice. Complex, with tight fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant hint of currants and wild flower traces on the finish. Great structure, balance, and finesse; decanting highly recommended if drunk young. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Now-2020++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2011)

 

90+    $42.95 (#234807)     Vintages 17 September 2011 Release

 

Château Les Ormes de Pez 2000, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France (3L): Tasted out of double magnum, the Les Ormes de Pez is the most compelling wine I’ve tasted from this well-regarded estate to date. Dark red-garnet in colour and now fairly mature, it exhibits a lovely bouquet of red currants, scorched earth, cedarwood, underbrush, roasted meats, and spice. Complex, retaining beautiful, elegant fruit, firm yet accessible tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, polished hint of red currants on the finish. Delicious, resoundingly positive claret. The vineyard is planted to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

90+    $425.00 (#252924)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Austin Hope 2010 Hope Family Vineyard Syrah, Paso Robles, California: My only note from this winery, the 2010 Hope Family Vineyard Syrah is sourced entirely from a site located within the Templeton Gap region (just west of the Paso Robles AVA). Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, with inviting aromas of blackberries, plums, incense, tobacco, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting delicious forward fruit, fairly supple tannins, mild acidity, and a long, satisfying hint of blackberries, incense, and tobacco on the finish. Bold, lengthy, and balanced (despite 15% alcohol). Now-2017++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

90    $45.00 (#686121)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Château Beauregard 2003, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France (Magnum): Tasted from magnum, the 2003 Château Beauregard is undoubtedly ready for drinking. Dark faded ruby-red currant in colour, it opts for subdued ‘mellow’ aromas of mature red fruits, cedarwood, forest floor, damp earth, and spice. Complex, with beautiful, fully integrated fruit and tannins, balanced acidity, and a truly lovely hint of dried red fruits and subtle, gentle cedarwood on the finish. Open, elegant, and very focused—claret lover’s wine. The vineyard is planted to 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. Now-2018. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

90    Price Unavailable     Private Collection

 

Château Belgrave 2010, Haut-Médoc AOC, Bordeaux, France: Still a work in progress, the 2010 Château Belgrave is almost the equivalent of the estate’s ‘second wine’ Diane de Belgrave that I recently tasted (albeit from an alternate vintage). This notwithstanding, the ’10 displays beautiful aromas of currants, plums, slightly sinewy cherries, licorice, wild game, and a hint of underbrush, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with full-bodied, highly accessible fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a supple hint of plummy red and black fruits on the finish. Great flavour, balance, and charm; though such a wine should ideally distance itself from its younger sibling. 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Now-2025. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

90    $55.00 (#323147)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Chapellet 2009 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California: Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, the 2009 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon is finely toasted, disclosing inviting aromas of sweet chocolate-laced currants, blackberry treacle, plums, bonbons, pain grille, forest floor, wild game traces, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with powerful forward fruit, velvety-firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lengthy hint of chocolate and plummy currants on the finish. Deliciously Parkerized, slightly sweetened bottling—ideal for the North American palate. Also contains 11% Malbec, 9% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot. Now-2022. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

90    $68.95 (#704254)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Lamole di Lamole 2007, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Based out of Greve in Chianti (located in the northern half of the zone), I have just a few notes from Lamole di Lamole. Dark ruby in colour, the 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva reveals very lovely aromas of cherries, plums, mild undergrowth, licorice, herbs, cedarwood, and the slightest hint of earth-infused leather and spice. Complex, carrying expressive fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant hint of cherries and plums on the finish. Great freshness, structure, and balance; marvellous job. Their website suggests 100% Sangiovese. Now-2017++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2011)

 

90    $36.95 (#231241)     Vintages 17 September 2011 Release

 

Landmark 2008 Grand Detour Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast (Sonoma County), California: Sourced from multiple vineyards throughout the Sonoma Coast, the 2008 Grand Detour Pinot Noir (even at 14.5% alcohol) is both endearing and beautifully inlaid. Dark ruby in colour, the wine is lightly toasted, offering first-rate ‘Pinot’ aromas of dried cherries, raspberries, red plums, rhubarb, licorice, and spice. Complex, featuring delectable fruit, soft yet well-integrated tannins, balanced acidity (more or less), and a silky, lingering hint of raspberries and cherries on the finish. Great fruit concentration, balance, and style. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

90    $41.95 (#737890)     Vintages 18 February 2012 Release

 

Seghesio 2009 Home Ranch Zinfandel, Alexander Valley (Sonoma County), California: Equalling the ’08 in both abundance and stature, the 2009 Home Ranch Zinfandel is a substantial success. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it displays beautiful aromas of incense-filled blackberries and plums (slightly baked); switching to cherries, licorice, subtle leather, vanilla, and spice. Complex, delivering delicious forward fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering, extremely flavourful hint of hint of ‘thick’ black cherried plums and incense on the finish. Excellent purity, heft, and balance. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2011)

 

90    $49.95 (#70391)     Vintages 17 September 2011 Release

 

Alves de Sousa 2009 Abandonado, Douro DOC, Portugal: Sourced from vines over eighty years old, the Abandonado label is only produced in the best vintages. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ’09 displays beautiful, inviting aromas of wild flower-infused blackberries, plums, mocha, cherries, potpourri, vanilla, and spice. Complex, retaining superb fulsome fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering hint of mocha and plummy red fruits on the finish. Delicious, robust, and balanced. Mostly Tinta Amarela, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, and other local grapes. Now-2020++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

90    $91.90 (Private Order)     Dom Vinho (Portugal)

 

Tin Barn 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Merlot, Napa Valley, California: My only note from this winery to date, the 2005 Tin Barn is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 16% Merlot. Dark-opaque ruby in colour and finely toasted, it delivers truly lovely aromas of currants, plums, ‘rugged’ cherries, pain grille, subtle mocha extract, vanilla, and spice. Complex, sporting delicious, even elegant fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a beautiful, non-excessive hint of currants on the finish. Superb purity, balance, and elegance, it begs the question why more Napa wines aren’t made this way. Now-2017+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, December 2011)

 

90    $34.95 (#201202)     Vintages 13 November 2010 Release

 

Wynns Coonawarra Estate 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, South Australia, Australia: Opaque ruby in colour, the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is finely toasted, showcasing beautiful aromas of mint-infused currants and blackberries; giving way to black mocha, crème de cassis, dark cherries, eucalyptus, roasted meats, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting delicious, well-structured fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering, almost elegant hint of dark mocha and currants (plus a pinch of eucalyptus) on the finish. Superb dimension, clarity, structure, and length; consistently one of the best bets in Coonawarra. Screwcap closure. Now-2019++. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2011)

 

90    $24.95 (#84996)     Vintages 17 September 2011 Release

 

Blue Rock 2008 Baby Blue Proprietary Red, Alexander Valley (Sonoma County), California: Opaque ruby in colour, the 2008 Baby Blue Proprietary Red is a dead ringer for a South Australian equivalent, delivering enticing aromas of eucalyptus, currants, incense, flowers, licorice, and cinnamon-oriented spices. Complex, boasting very supple forward fruit and tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering, well-rounded/polished hint of plums, eucalyptus, and incense on the finish. Flattering, velvety style; quite delicious and long. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 18% Syrah, and 6% Merlot. Now-2020. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

89++    $38.95 (#261727)     Vintages 18 February 2012 Release

 

Château Les Ormes de Pez 2005, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France (3L): Tasted out of double magnum, the Les Ormes de Pez, while a tad dry at the moment (also likely shutting down), realizes sound pedigree, balance, and elegance. Dark ruby-red currant in colour, the wine suggests beautiful aromas of red currant and plums; switching to dried cherries, scorched earth, forest floor, mint, mild cedarwood, and spice. Complex, with elegant fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, almost ‘backward’ hint of red currants, subtle earth, and cedarwood on the finish. First-rate potential. The vineyard is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Now-2016++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

89++    $345.00 (#253005)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Allegrini 2008 Palazzo della Torre, IGT Veronese, Veneto, Italy: Opaque ruby (in colour (more or less), the 2008 Palazzo del Torre is moderately toasted, providing hearty aromas of blackberries, cherries, plums, leather, underbrush, gentle pepper and herbs, plus a hint of coffee and spice. Complex, with lovely smooth fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, flavourful hint of plummy blackberries on the finish. Enticing texture, smoothness, and balance. Corvina, Rondinella, and Sangiovese (percentages unknown). Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

89+    $24.95 (#672931)     Vintages 18 February 2012 Release

 

Chehalem 2008 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, California: Medium-ruby in colour, the 2008 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir (crafted from three different vineyards—not surprisingly) is gently smoky, revealing fragrant aromas of strawberries, red plums, raspberries, wild currants, loamy earth, and a hint of wild game, white pepper, and cinnamon-oriented spice. Complex, with very fine fruit and tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant hint of strawberries and white pepper (the latter exceedingly faint) on the finish. Refined, almost soothing bottling; just lovely. Now-2014. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2011)

 

89+    $28.95 (#949909)     Vintages 17 September 2011 Release

 

Domaine Grand Veneur 2010 Les Champauvins, Côtes du Rhône AOC, Rhône, France: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2010 Les Champauvins delivers expressive ‘regional’ aromas of blackberries, dried leathery raspberries/strawberries, licorice, Provençal herbs, and a hint of cherry liqueur elements and spice. Complex, with very satisfying fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering hint of blackberries and cherry liqueur nuances on the finish. Impressive extraction, balance, and approach. 70% Grenache, the rest Syrah and Mourvèdre. Now-2019+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

89+    $18.95 (#76331)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Hecht & Bannier 2010, Côtes du Roussillon-Villages AOC, Midi, France: Opaque black-ruby in colour, the 2010 Côtes du Roussillon-Villages presents attractive, highly concentrated aromas of blackberries, dark raspberries, mocha extract, forest floor, mild sinewy herbs, mineral traces, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with delicious, powerful forward fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a long-lasting hint of blackberries and curranted plums on the finish. Fulsome and delicious, with fairly heavy emphasis on North American-style extraction. According to their website: Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Lledoner Pelut. Now-2019+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

89+    $23.95 (#142802)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Lan 2003 Gran Reserva, Rioja DOCa, Spain: Dark red-garnet in colour, the 2003 Gran Reserva offers engaging, fully mature aromas of dried cedary plums, wild game, Chinese black tea, tobacco, scorched earth, leather, and spice. Complex, with expressive ‘mellow’ fruit, still-firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lovely hint of dried cedary plums on the finish. Impressive approach, balance, and agreeably dry disposition—wines from this vintage have certainly evolved quickly. 80% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo, and 10% Garnacha. Now-2015++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2011)

 

89    $26.95 (#928622)     Vintages 17 September 2011 Release

 

Château Les Ormes de Pez 2001, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France (3L): Tasted out of double magnum, the Les Ormes de Pez is now ready to drink. Dark red-garnet in colour, the wine boasts mature, cedar-driven aromas of dried earthy red fruits, underbrush, tobacco, and a hint of wild game and spice. Complex, with fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined hint of red plums and cedarwood on the finish. Elegant, balanced, and very mellow. According to one source: 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

89    $295.00 (#252932)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Château Pey de Pont 2009, Médoc AOC, Bordeaux, France: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2009 Château Pey de Pont displays ‘ruggedly Médoc’ aromas of currants, plums, dried blackberries, cherries, scorched earth, forest floor, and a wisp of vanilla and spice. Complex, with fine fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, enjoyable hint of currants and scorched earth on the finish. Robust, balanced, and crisp; vigorously decant if consumed young. 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc. Now-2019. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

89    $23.95 (#307967)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Ruffino 2008 Modus, IGT Toscana, Tuscany, Italy: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2008 Modus is moderately toasted, presenting attractive aromas of dark cherries, currants, light mocha, licorice, subtle leather, vanilla, and spice. Complex, retaining very fine, well-structured fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a beautiful hint of cherries and plums on the finish. Lovely body, balance, and overall disposition. Typically 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Merlot. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2012)

 

89    $28.95 (#912956)     Vintages 29 September 2012 Release

 

Ruffino 2007 Riserva Ducale, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Dark ruby in colour with a streak of red currant, the 2007 Riserva Ducale reveals lovely, spritely aromas of wild red cherries, plums, dried currants, herbs, undergrowth, cedarwood, and spice. Complex, carrying fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a more traditional hint of dried wild cherries and cedarwood on the finish. Finely crafted, balanced, and flavoured—swell lightweight Riserva. Typically 80% Sangiovese (minimum), the rest Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2012)

 

89    $24.95 (#45195)     LCBO General List

 

Masseria del Feudo 2007 Rosso delle Rose, IGT Sicilia, Sicily, Italy: Dark ruby in colour, the 2007 Rosso delle Rose offers lovely notes of fragrant cherries and licorice; switching to red plums, along with a hint of white pepper and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of licorice and ‘blue’ plums on the finish. Delightful flavour, roundness, and balance. Syrah and Nero d’Avola (percentages known). Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2011)

 

88+    $29.95 (Private Order)     Ex-Cellars Wine Services

 

Aneto 2009, Douro DOC, Portugal: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2009 Aneto reveals lovely notes of dark plummy strawberries, dried blueberries, dessert nougat, American oak traces, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: fine fruit showing, with firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of plummy strawberries on the finish. Full-bodied, balanced, and flavourful. Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Cão. Now-2018. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

88    $19.95 (#314930)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Tenuta di Capraia 2010, Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Dark ruby in colour, the 2010 Chianti Classico reveals lovely, open-concept notes of wild cherries and plums; switching to berries, mild herbs, and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with fine tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of wild cherried plums on the finish. Balanced, fresh, and agreeably fruit-oriented. Typically 90% Sangiovese and 10% Colorino. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

88    $19.95 (#135277)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Les Halos de Jupiter 2010, Costières di Nîmes AOC, Rhône, France: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2010 Les Halos de Jupiter reveals enjoyable notes of mildly herbed Provençal black fruits, dried raspberries, minerals, and a hint of licorice and spice. Reasonably complex, with fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lovely hint of blackberries and dried herbs on the finish. Delightful flavour and balance. Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Carignan (percentages unknown). Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

88    $14.95 (#309153)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Langmeil 2009 Valley Floor Shiraz, Barossa, South Australia, Australia: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2009 Valley Floor Shiraz reveals delightful notes of eucalyptus, plums, dried berry fruits, leather, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: juicy forward fruit showing, with supple tannins, mild acidity, and a hint of wild flowers, eucalyptus, and plums on the finish. Nicely balanced and fresh. Screwcap closure. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

88    $29.95 (Private Order)     B & W Wines

 

Ottoventi 2007 Nerello Mascalese, IGT Sicilia, Sicily, Italy: Dark red currant in colour, the 2007 Nerello Mascalese displays pleasant notes of ‘rugged’ rhubarb-driven cherries, fruitcake, cloves, and a hint of cedarwood and spice. On the palate: very good fruit showing, with firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of rhubarb-infused cherries and cloves on the finish. Nicely crafted, with good regional character and balance. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2011)

 

88    Currently Unavailable     Les Vins Leanto (Private Order)

 

Rabbit Ranch 2009 Pinot Noir, Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand: Medium ruby-red currant in colour, the 2009 Pinot Noir displays lovely notes of red cherries (slightly spicy), plums, strawberries, licorice, rhubarb, and spice. On the palate: fine fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a delightful hint of cherries and strawberries on the finish. Lightweight yet very fresh, balanced, and silky. Screwcap closure. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

88    $24.95 (#55228)     Vintages 18 February 2012 Release

 

Baglio di Pianetto 2005 Ramione, IGT Sicilia, Sicily, Italy: Dark ruby in colour, the 2005 Ramione reveals pleasant notes of plummy red cherries, currants, and a hint of dried blackberries and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with fine tannins, balanced acidity, and a reserved hint of red plums on the finish. Balanced, well-executed, and enjoyable. 50% Nero d’Avola and 50% Merlot. Now-2011+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, March 2010)

 

88    Currently Unavailable     Lifford Wine Agency

 

Zolo 2008 Reserve Malbec, Uco Valley (Mendoza), Argentina: Opaque black-purple in colour, the 2008 Reserve Malbec reveals concentrated notes of subtle white pepper-laced blackberries and plums; switching to tobacco, dried violets, and spice. On the palate: fine forward fruit showing, with firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering hint of purple fruits on the finish. Good flavour, balance, and overall freshness. Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

88    $16.95 (#81091)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Sparkling Wines:

Taittinger 2005 Vintage Brut, Champagne, France: Compared to the ’04, the 2005 Taittinger is a somewhat more delicate, more delectably medium-bodied creature. Pale straw-lime in colour, it offers elegant, inviting scents of citrus-infused biscuits, dried green fruits, ginger, brioche, subtle powdered sugar, vanilla, and a fabulous hint of exotic spices. Complex, delivering pristine frothy fruit, balanced acidity, and a refined, outgoing hint of yeasty biscuits and lemon citrus on the finish. Amazing purity, structure, and style; this will keep for at least a decade. 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. Now-2022+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92    $58.00 (Private Order)     Eton Vintners (UK)

 

Taittinger NV Prélude Grand Cru Brut, Champagne, France: Crafted from some of the finest Grand Cru vineyards in the Marne (50/50 Montagne de Reims and Côte des Blancs), the NV Prélude delivers a terrific performance. Pale straw in colour with a touch of lime, it opts for exceptional scents of fresh yeasty biscuits, lemon citrus, white grapefruit, ginger, white flowers, pear cider, and spice. Complex, with remarkable frothy fruit, balanced acidity, and a very elegant hint of pure lemon citrus and moderate biscuity notes on the finish. Wonderful style, balance, and finesse. 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. Now-2019+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92    $49.07 (Private Order)     Universal Fine Wine & Spirits (USA)

 

Taittinger NV Folies de la Marquetterie Brut, Champagne, France: Single-vineyard champagne grown near the birthplace of this exquisite family-owned house, the NV Folies de la Marquetterie conveys real finesse, body, and balance. Pale-light straw in colour, it offers tempting scents of ‘icy’ lemon citrus, yeasty biscuits, dried green fruits, white flowers, ginger, and spice. Complex, retaining marvellously crisp fruit, balanced acidity, and an excellent, upright hint of lemon citrus and green fruit traces on the finish. Exciting discovery, this will easily keep over the medium term. Now-2020. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91++    $54.40 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Lacroix-Triaulaire & Fils 2005 Vintage Prestige Brut, Champagne, France: Pale-light lime in colour, the 2005 Lacroix-Triaulaire & Fils reveals beautifully delicate scents of yeasty biscuits, pears, green grapes, ginger, cream crackers, and a hint of spice. Complex, with round fruit, balanced acidity, and an elegant, stylish hint of delicate yeasty biscuits and pears on the finish. Highly impressive balance, structure, and general accessibility; my only note from this operation. Now-2014++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

90    $46.65 (Private Order)     Nokhrin Wines

 

R. Pouillon & Fils NV Premier Cru Brut Rosé, Champagne, France: Crafted from 100% Pinot Noir and sourced from Premier Cru sites, the NV Brut Rosé is a beautiful champagne. Medium cherry-cranberry in colour, it features elegant, immensely engaging scents of red ‘Pinot’ fruits and yeasty biscuits; making way for pink cherries, moderate herbal nuances, and a hint of blood oranges and spice. Complex, with very fine, crisp fruit, balanced acidity, and a refined hint of red fruits and subtle yeasty biscuits on the finish. First-rate originality, style, and balance. Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2013)

 

90    $44.95 (#314518)     Vintages 2 February 2013 Release

 

Veuve Doussot NV Brut Rosé, Champagne, France: Pale-light pink in colour with a touch of salmon, the NV Brut Rosé is delicately toasted, offering very lovely scents of ruby-red grapefruit, dried cherries, flowers, and a hint of nuts and spice. Complex, with beautiful delicate fruit, balanced acidity, and an elegant, crisp/fresh hint of delicate yeasty biscuits on the finish. First-rate approach, balance, and refinement. 100% Pinot Noir. Now-2014+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, December 2010)

 

90    $30.83 (Private Order)     Cavavino (Belgium)

 

Dessert Wines:

Coyote’s Run 2008 Riesling Icewine, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (375 mL): The best wine of the vintage? Tasted in sub-zero temperatures at the outdoor Niagara Icewine Festival, the 2008 Coyote’s Run Riesling was my favourite of all wines presented. Light gold in colour with a touch of orange, it reveals extremely flattering, almost intoxicating scents of mangos, apricots, honeysuckle, orange blossom, starfruit, lemon citrus, lanolin, amber, nuts, and exotic spices. Truly complex, exhibiting dazzling sweet fruit, balanced acidity, and an opulent, extraordinary hint of mangos and honeyed orange blossom on the finish. Magnificent liveliness, balance, and harmony. Screwcap closure. Now-2028+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

93+    $49.95 (#12658)     Vintages 11 December 2010 Release

 

Konzelmann 2008 Riesling Icewine, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (375 mL): Tasted outdoors in finger-numbing conditions at Niagara-on-the-Lake, the 2008 Riesling Icewine is definitely the best dessert wine Herbert Konzelmann has yet to produce. Light-medium orange in colour, it reveals extraordinary scents of sweet apricots and peaches, honeysuckle, orange zest, lemon, acacia flowers, and a hint of green fruits and spice. Very complex, featuring wonderful fruit, balanced acidity, and a lingering, exceptional hint of honeysuckle and orange blossom on the finish. Magnificent concentration, balance, and intensity; this beauty will keep for at least fifteen years. Now-2026++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

92++    $54.00 (Private Order)     Konzelmann Estate Winery

 

Stratus 2008 White Icewine, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (200 mL): A 50/50 blend of Riesling and Sémillon, winemaker Jean-Laurent Groux’s 20008 White Icewine is amazingly silky, balanced, and textured. Light golden-straw in colour, this unusual pairing of grapes reveals intriguing, inviting scents of honeyed apricots, melon, peaches, custard, lime, nuts, and a hint of lanolin and spice. Complex, boasting superbly sweet, fully integrated fruit, balanced acidity, and a marvellous, elegant hint of lemon, honeysuckle, and nuts on the finish. Great style and length, Status’ dessert labels have long been recognized as the stars of the winery. Now-2024. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

92    $39.85 (Private Order)     Stratus Wines

 

Château Bastor-Lamontagne 1990, Sauternes AOC, Bordeaux, France (Magnum): Tasted from magnum, the 1990 Bastor-Lamontagne, though unlikely to improve with further aging, remains not in the least bit frail. Medium-orange in colour, this marvellous Sauternes reveals welcoming scents of nutted orange marmalade, honeysuckle, maple amber, marzipan, lemon, and a hint of blood oranges and exotic spices. Complex, boasting excellent sweet fruit, balanced acidity, and a lingering, dryish hint of nutted orange marmalade on the finish. Great disposition, dignity, and harmony; best enjoyed as a disgestif. The blend is usually roughly 80% Sémillon, 17% Sauvignon Blanc, and 3% Muscadelle. Now-2025+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91+    Price Unavailable     Private Collection

 

Colaneri 2010 Profondo Mistera Gewürztraminer Icewine, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (375 mL): Though made by only a handful of producers, Gewürztraminer often makes for fantastic icewine. Light-medium golden-straw in colour, the 2010 Profondo Mistera is definitely more Alsatian in style, disclosing beautiful, fascinating scents of lychee-infused pears, peaches, banana-flavoured candies, and exotic spices. Complex, retaining delicious, singularly sweet fruit, balanced acidity, and a lingering, poignant hint of lemon drops, lychees, and banana-flavoured candies on the finish. Powerful at 13.7% alcohol, delivering remarkable intensity, potency, and character. Now-2024. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

91+    $29.95 (Private Order)     Colaneri Estate Winery

 

Palatine Hills 2008 Gewürztraminer Icewine, VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (200 mL): Light golden-yellow in colour with orange highlights, winemaker Jeff Innes’ superlative 2008 Gewürztraminer icewine displays marvellously delicate scents of fragrant orange peel, honeysuckle, lemon drops, lychees, jasmine, apricots, and a hint of bergamot, lime cordial, and spice. Very complex, possessing excellent, exceedingly sweet fruit, balanced acidity, and a slightly spicy, luxurious hint of nut-infused apricots, honeysuckle, and lychee traces on the finish. Marvellous sophistication, intensity, and balance. Now-2023+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

91+    $35.00 (Private Order)     Palatine Hills Estate Winery

 

Ravine Vineyard 2009 Riesling Icewine, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (375 mL): Pale-light lime in colour, the 2009 Riesling Icewine features more delicate, delightful scents of honeysuckle, kiwi, white peaches, lemon citrus, and a hint of nuts and spice. Complex, retaining superb sweet fruit, balanced acidity, and an elegant, youthful hint of ripe pears, lemon, and honey-coated nuts on the finish. First-rate freshness, balance, and expression, with the distinct possibility of opening up further over the next several years. Now-2022++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

90    $36.00 (Private Order)     Ravine Vineyard

 

Fortified Wines:

Graham’s 40 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro DOC, Portugal: Examined alongside the its ten-year-younger sibling, the melodious Graham’s 40 Year Old Tawny reverberates in near-perfect harmony. Medium tawny in colour, this gem exhibits astounding multilayered aromas of toffee and dried fruits; quickly switching to butterscotch, Skor® bars, fruitcake, figs, maple amber, walnuts, extremely mild citrus elements, and plenty of spice. Incredibly complex, wielding soothing, fantastically mellow fruit, fully integrated tannins, balanced acidity, and a longlasting hint of toffee, dried fruits, and walnuts on the finish. Amazingly lengthy, harmonious, and comforting. Not as elegant as the 30 Year Old, but definitely more powerful and (appropriately) flavourful in orientation—the full package...and then some. Now-2055++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

97    $147.20 (Private Order)     K&L Wine Merchants (USA)

 

Graham’s 30 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro DOC, Portugal: Along with the Taylor Fladgate (examined several years back), the Graham’s 30 Year Old Tawny Port has got to be one of the best of its kind in the business. Medium tawny in colour, it delivers captivating aromas of rich caramel- and nut-infused dried fruits, gingerbread and shortbread, butterscotch, toffee, maple amber, delicate citrus elements, cinnamon, and abundant alternate spices. Truly complex, possessing heavenly, slightly velvety fruit, fully integrated tannins, balanced acidity, and a stunning, incredibly graceful hint of toffee, caramel, and nuts on the finish. Classic harmony, structure, balance, and focus. Tasted (and purchased) at recent gathering in London. Now-2050++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

95    $95.18 (Private Order)     Pacific Wine Merchants (USA)

 

FEATURED THIS MONTH

Wine education for us all -- Harvesting Grapes (Saturday 5 January 2013)

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     Outside of the winery’s interiors, no time of the year is more important than the moment when the grapes are harvested in the vineyards. For everyone involved in the winegrowing process, especially when premium winemaking is the objective, there is no margin for error. Once the decision has been made to bring in the grapes, they must be brought in carefully, opportunely, and in the most optimal state.

     The reasons are obvious. Great wine is always made in the vineyard. Despite all the gizmos and gadgets found in any modern winemaking facility, exceptional wine simply cannot be produced without outstanding grapes; and the decisions the winegrower makes will reflect this during the most important stages of the harvesting process.

     The first of these is when exactly to pick, the moment when the winegrower believes his or her grapes will be the most capable of producing the best possible wine. Picked too early, and the wine will likely taste underripe (often ‘green’) and excessively astringent and/or acidic. Picked too late and the wine will probably retain stewed fruit characteristics (most common in reds), disadvantageously lower acidity, and excessive alcohol. Then there is matter of ensuring the grapes are picked in good weather. Any precipitation will dilute the grapes and exacerbate any fungal diseases. Outdoor temperatures are also a concern. If the weather is too hot, the grapes may begin to stew in the sun, resulting in oxidation and premature fermentation. This is why many winegrowers, especially in hot climates, often opt to harvest early in the morning or during the night. This is also why many winegrowers will often douse the grapes with low quantities of sulphur dioxide (SO²), to prevent oxidation at some point during the harvesting process.

     At the same time, winegrowers must decide on the method(s) by which the grapes are to be harvested. Of picking, there are but two options: persons or machines. In most parts of the world nowadays, an ever-increasing percentage of grapes are picked by machine, due to a combination of cost factors and labour shortages. From a standpoint of quality, however, few would deny that experienced manual harvesters are vastly superior to machines. While great strides have been made in improving the intuitiveness and precision of mechanical apparatuses, veteran pickers will invariably bring in better grapes, because they can snip precise clusters as well as handle the grapes with greater individual care.

     Just as important, in many of the best vineyards throughout the world (especially Europe), mechanical harvesters aren’t just undesirable, they’re effectively unusable, particularly in areas where steep slopes are the norm—think Côte-Rôtie (Rhône), Wehlener Sonnenuhr (Mosel), Priorat (Spain), and many parts of the Douro (Portugal).

     Attention to detail is critical. At the best wineries in the world, where supreme quality is the objective, manual pickers are not only responsible for procuring the best possible grapes, they must also ensure their precious cargo reaches the winery in top-notch condition. Communication is key. Once the grapes have been collected and carefully deposited into small baskets (nowadays usually plastic), they must be transported to the winery without delay, where they will be placed on conveyer belts and sorted. At each stage, there must be enough skilled people on hand to carry out all the directives necessary to ensure each step is accomplished with ease. Any mistake could result in a loss in potential productivity and quality.

     Whenever it comes to great winegrowing, compromise is never an option.

A few gems for collectors:

White Wines:

Joh. Jos. Christoffel 1989 Riesling Spätlese, Wehlener Sonnenuhr QmP, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany: Examined at the auctioneer’s table at a high-profile wine tasting, the incredible 1989 Wehlener Sonnenuhr-sourced Riesling Spätlese remains perplexingly youthful. Pale-light green in colour with golden highlights, it displays remarkable scents of spicy lemon and lime; switching to white peach kernels, ‘icy’ green grapes, melon, and petrol traces. Complex, delivering excellent minerally fruit, pitch-perfect acidity, and a wonderful hint of spicy lemon/lime and green grapes on the finish. Brilliantly executed, this must have been cellared in unusually optimal conditions. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2010)

 

92++    Price Unavailable     Private Collection

 

Hardys 2006 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay, SE Australia, Australia: Flagship Chardonnay of Hardys, the 2006 Eileen possesses a remarkably upbeat personality and delectable style. Light lime in colour, it presents intense scents of nutted oatmeal at the outset; giving way to pears, dried apricots, butterscotch, lemon, quince, and vanilla. Complex, boasting fulsome forward fruit, balanced acidity, and an elegant, lasting hint of pears, quince, and nuts on the finish. Terrific power (quite positive), density, and expression, the Burgundian influence becomes more noticeable after additional time in the glass. Now-2015++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2009)

 

92    $62.35 (Private Order)     Raffles Liquor Merchant

 

Hidden Bench 2006 Tête de Cuvée Chardonnay, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Proprietor Harold Thiel’s top Chardonnay, there is little mistaking the brazen superiority of the 2006 Tête de Cuvée. Pale-light lime in colour, the wine is finely toasted, showcasing inviting, elegant scents of poached pears and quince; switching to moderate butterscotch, baked lemon meringue, lime, and a hint of apricots, vanilla, and nuts. Complex, exuding exemplary fruit, balanced acidity, and a lingering, upstanding hint of poached pears and nuts on the finish. Excellent character, balance, and style. Now-2015++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, March 2010)

 

91++    $45.00 (Private Order)     Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery

 

Le Clos Jordanne 2008 Le Grand Clos Chardonnay, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Flagship Chardonnay of an operation that has taken the Canadian winegrowing scene by storm, the 2008 Le Grand Clos sets a different standard. Pale lime in colour with a touch of straw, the wine is finely toasted, detailing engaging, attractive aromas of pears (slightly nutted), green apples, dried apricots, stone fruit, lemon drops, and a hint of orange peel and vanillin. Complex, with very fine, elegant fruit, balanced acidity, and a beautiful hint of pears, quince, and mild toasted oak on the finish. Delicious, balanced, and polished. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

91    $65.00 (#34561)     Vintages 27 November 2010 Release

 

Château Latour-Martillac Blanc 2010, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: Excellent white from this slowly-improving estate, the 2010 Latour-Martillac Blanc is all balance and class. Pale-light lime in colour, it exhibits marvellous scents of pure lemon citrus, pears, starfruit, moderate green apples, and a hint of almonds and floral elements. Complex, possessing vibrant fruit, balanced acidity, and an elegant, minerally hint of lemon citrus and pears on the finish. Commendable style and purity, this will certainly open up over the next several years. 62% Sauvignon Blanc and 38% Sémillon. Now-2023+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

91    $49.00 (#259036)     Vintages 2010 Bordeaux Futures

 

Closson Chase 2007 S. Kocsis Vineyard Chardonnay, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Though based out of Prince Edward County, viticulturist Deborah Paskus sources grapes for specific bottlings from optimal sites throughout southern Ontario. Pale light greenish-lime in colour with a touch of straw, the 2007 S. Kocsis Chardonnay reveals enticing, intricately layered scents of hazelnutted pears, green apples, apricots, quince, toasted oak (properly integrated), caramel, and a hint of green grapes and vanillin. Very complex, with superb fruit, balanced acidity, and a polished hint of pears, roasted hazelnuts, and quince on the finish. Excellently done. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

90++    $45.95 (#184291)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Henry of Pelham 2007 Speck Family Reserve Chardonnay, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Probably the best Chardonnay I have ever tasted from Henry of Pelham, the 2007 Speck Family Reserve, pale-light lime in colour, offers beautiful scents of fresh pears (slightly nutted), lemon, green apples, cream crackers, and a hint of hazelnuts, minerals, and delicate toasted oak. Complex, with very fine fruit, balanced acidity, and a truly lovely hint of nutted pears and lemon citrus on the finish. Highly impressive, boasting great balance, restraint, and character. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, February 2010)

 

90    $35.00 (#616466)     Vintages Archives

 

Hidden Bench 2008 Estate Chardonnay, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: For an entry-range wine, the 2008 Estate Chardonnay is meant to be taken seriously. Pale lime in colour, proprietor Harold Thiel’s latest vintage is delicately toasted, displaying attractive scents of lemon citrus, pears, green apples, minerals, and hint of caramel and orange peel. Quite complex, retaining exceptionally subtle, finely textured fruit, balanced acidity, and a great hint of ‘icy’ pears and moderate toasted oak on the finish. Marvellous purity, balance, and scope. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

90    $32.20 (#243709)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Laroche 2005, Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots AOC, Burgundy, France: Exceptional Chablis, the 2005 Les Blanchots manages to capture the essence of this lovely Grand Cru with little fuss. Light greenish-straw in colour, the wine displays beautiful scents of seasalty yellow plums at the outset; giving way to creamy pears, green apples, quince, minerals, and a delicate hint of spice. Complex, possessing lovely fruit, balanced acidity, and an elegant hint of minerally pears and teensy strawy elements on the finish. Marvellous refinement and balance. Screwcap closure. Now-2015+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2010)

 

90    $79.00 (#69211)     Vintages March 2008 Classics Collection

 

Tawse 2007 Quarry Road Chardonnay, VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: With clear Burgundian inclinations, the 2007 Quarry Road Chardonnay reflects the sort of direction more wineries in Niagara should be taking. Light lime in colour, it is lightly toasted, offering alluring scents of hazelnutted pears, quince, lemon/lime citrus, marzipan, and minerals. Complex, featuring very fine fruit, balanced acidity, and a lingering, elegant hint of nutted pears, lemon, and minerals on the finish. Beautifully balanced, focused, and pronounced. Now-2015++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, March 2010)

 

90    $34.95 (#111989)     Vintages Archives

 

Tawse 2008 Robyn’s Block Chardonnay, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Top white of Tawse Winery, compared to past vintages the 2008 Robyn’s Block Chardonnay is arguably the most delicate to date. Pale lime in colour, the wine reveals sincerely lovely scents of fresh pears, green apples, lemon/lime citrus, nectarines, brioche, and a hint of vanillin. Complex, retaining beautiful fruit, balanced acidity, and a splendid hint of pears, quince, and mild toasted oak on the finish. Excellent bottling, winemaker Paul Pender should be very proud of all he’s achieved. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

90    $41.95 (#2937)     Vintages Archives

 

Davis Bynum 2007 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley (Sonoma County), California: A tribute to the North American palate, the 2007 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, pale-light green in colour, is heavily toasted, featuring engaging scents of butterscotch and slightly tropical pears; giving way to apricots, oatmeal cookies, vanilla, and nuts. Complex, with very fine fruit, balanced acidity, high alcohol (14.9%), and a lingering hint of apricots, butterscotch, and toasted oak on the finish. Very satisfying and fulsome—if this is your preferred style. Now-2013+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2010)

 

89+    $24.95 (#205815)     Vintages 9 July 2011 Release

 

Kendall-Jackson 2007 Grand Reserve Chardonnay, Santa Barbara/Monterey Counties, California: Light-medium green in colour with a touch of yellow, the 2007 Grand Reserve Chardonnay is intensely toasted, giving way to impressive scents of ripe pears and apricots; again switching to quince, white flowers, vanillin, and nuts. Complex, with fine fruit, milder acidity, and a surprisingly restrained, even elegant hint of pears and toasted oak on the finish. Finely crafted, careful grape-sourcing seems to have significantly paid off here; this should keep for the short term. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

89+    $29.95 (#59576)     Vintages 4 September 2010 Release

 

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils 2007, Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons AOC, Burgundy, France: My first recorded note from this winery, the 2007 Vaillons gives rise to lovely approachability and vibrancy. Light straw-lime in colour, it displays splendid scents of schisty green apples and lemon; switching to white flowers, delicate seasalt, and a hint of dried pears and minerals. Complex, with fine fruit, balanced acidity, and a hint of green apples and seasalt on the finish. Crisp, balanced, and very refreshing. Now-2013+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

89    $27.95 (#650804)     Vintages 27 November 2010 Release

 

Luis Felipe Edwards 2010 Gran Reserva Roussanne, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Representing exceptional value for money, the 2010 Gran Reserva is likely the only 100% Roussanne I have tasted from Chile to date. Pale-light straw-lime in colour, it reveals fresh, well-established scents of waxy pears, apricots, dried honeysuckle, jasmine, and nuts. Complex, with fine fruit, milder acidity, and a lingering, engaging hint of ripe melon-laced pears on the finish. Ideal freshness, balance, and character. Screwcap closure. Now-2016. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

89    $16.95 (#309740)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Lawson’s Dry Hills 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand: Wonderful value as far as I’m concerned, the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc should be procured by the case. Very pale lime with a touch of straw, it displays delicate scents of grassy gooseberries (slightly honeyed), lemon, pears, white flowers, and minerals. On the palate: zesty fruit showing, with vibrant acidity, and a lovely hint of gooseberries, lemon, and almond extract on the finish. Impressive delicateness, balance, and character. Screwcap closure. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

89    $16.95 (#214460)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Closson Chase 2009 Sans Chêne Chardonnay, VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada: Sourced from young vines, the 2009 Sans Chêne Chardonnay, pale lime in colour, offers lovely notes of green apple-infused lime cordial; switching to lemon, woodsmoke (with moderate sawdust traces), pears, and stony beach pebbles. On the palate: delightful crisp fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a nervy/steely hint of green apples and pears on the finish. Very fine. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

88++    $25.20 (#120337)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Laroche 2008 Saint Martin, Chablis AOC, Burgundy, France: Pale straw-lime in colour, the 2008 Saint Martin reveals lovely notes of schist-based dried green fruits, lemon, and a hint of sea salt and minerals. On the palate: fine fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of dried green apples and sea salt on the finish. Nicely crafted and balanced. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2010)

 

88+    $24.95 (Private Order)     Select Wines & Spirits

 

Franciscan 2007 Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California: Light lime in colour with a touch of straw, the 2007 Chardonnay is intensely oaky, with accompanying notes of apricots, pears, dried honeysuckle, butterscotch, vanillin, and nuts. On the palate: fine fruit showing, with milder acidity, and a lengthy hint of butterscotch and apricots on the finish. Large-scale, oak-driven wine—not to my taste, though plenty will like this just the way it is. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, February 2010)

 

88    $24.95 (#496125)     Vintages 17 April 2010 Release

 

Henry of Pelham 2007 Speck Family Reserve Riesling, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Pale lime in colour, the 2007 Speck Family Reserve Riesling is intensely lemony, revealing lovely notes of ‘icy’ lime, pears, melon, green apples, and a hint of spice. Complex, with fine fruit, balanced acidity (a little dry), and a hint of lemon citrus and minerals on the finish. Delightful youthfulness and balance. Now-2016. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, February 2010)

 

88    $30.00 (#643361)     Vintages Archives

 

Hidden Bench 2008 Estate Riesling, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Entry-range Riesling from one of my favourite Niagara operations, the 2008 Estate, very pale lime in colour, displays lovely notes of sweet lemon blossom intermixed with green apples, lime, beach pebbles, and petrol. On the palate: delightful lemony fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of lemon citrus (not surprising) on the finish. Very refreshing and balanced. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

88    $19.95 (#183491)     Vintages 26 June 2010 Release

 

Penfolds 2007 Thomas Hyland Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, South Australia, Australia: Pale-light lime in colour, the 2007 Thomas Hyland Chardonnay sports delicate notes of lemony pears, quince, dried nuts, and a hint of apricots and toasted oak. On the palate: good fruit showing, with slightly milder acidity, and a splendid hint of lemony pears on the finish. Crisp, balanced, and refreshing. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2010)

 

88    $19.95 (#611228)     Vintages 5 December 2009 Release

 

Yealands Estate 2008 Seaview Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand: Pale lime in colour with a touch of straw, the 2008 Seaview Sauvignon Blanc boasts intense asparagus at the outset; accompanied by pleasant notes of grassy pears, green apples, and a hint of white pepper and minerals. On the palate: very good fruit showing, with zesty acidity, and a lingering hint of asparagus and gooseberries on the finish. Distinct flavour profile, with good freshness and balance. Screwcap closure. Now-2011. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2010)

 

88    $18.95 (#172346)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Domaine du Chardonnay 2008, Chablis AOC, Burgundy, France: Pale straw-lime in colour, the 2008 Chablis reveals subtle notes of minerally green apples, pears, lemon, and a hint of flint. On the palate: lovely steely fruit showing, with fairly aggressive acidity (not displeasing), and a hint of green apples and lemon on the finish. Very fresh and balanced. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

87++    $18.95 (#183574)     Vintages 30 October 2010 Release

 

Alain Geoffroy 2008 Domaine Le Verger, Chablis AOC, Burgundy, France: Pale straw-lime in colour, the 2008 Domaine Le Verger offers extremely delicate notes of seasalty lemon, green apples, and a hint of floral nuances and stony beach pebbles. On the palate: good fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of seasalty lemon and green apples (slightly baked) on the finish. Traditional steely/nervy style of Chablis. Now-2010+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87++    $18.95 (#181289)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Rodney Strong 2008 Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California: Light green in colour, the 2008 Chardonnay is finely toasted, with intense notes of pears, apricots, butterscotch, green apples, popcorn, and vanilla. On the palate: good forward fruit showing, with milder acidity, and a lingering hint of pears and toasted oak on the finish. Fresh, oak-driven, and lengthy—a fair example of the style. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87++    $18.95 (#226936)     Vintages 4 September 2010 Release

 

François Lurton 2008 Les Fumées Blanches Sauvignon Blanc, Vin de Pays du Comté Tolosan, France: Pale lime in colour, the 2008 Les Fumées Blanches Sauvignon Blanc displays crisp notes of minerally lemon/lime, accompanied by hints of grassy gooseberries and stony beach pebbles. On the palate: reasonably zesty fruit showing, with vibrant acidity, and a hint of lemon and gooseberries on the finish. Good freshness and balance—excellent value. Screwcap closure. Now-2009. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2009)

 

87+    $11.95 (#472555)     LCBO General List

 

Allendorf 2008 Terroir Riesling Kabinett, Winkeler Hasensprung QmP, Rheingau, Germany: Pale straw-lime in colour with yellow highlights, the 2008 Terroir Riesling Kabinett displays delicate sweet lemon notes intermixed with grapefruit, white peaches, and a hint of kerosene and spice. Palate: good soft fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of lemon blossom and residual sugar deposits on the finish. Tasty and approachable. Screwcap closure. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87    $14.20 (#160747)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Geyser Peak 2008 Chardonnay, Alexander Valley (Sonoma County), California: Light-medium green in colour, the 2008 Chardonnay is lightly toasted, with notes of ripe pears, apricots, dried butterscotch, and stone fruit. On the palate: good fresh fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of ripe apricots on the finish. Good balance and fruit orientation. Screwcap closure. Now-2011. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87    $16.95 (#343475)     Vintages 4 September 2010 Release

 

Leth 2011 Klassik Grüner Veltliner, Wagram, Niederösterreich, Austria: Pale lime in colour, the 2011 Klassik Grüner Veltliner displays neatly assembled notes of green fruits, white lentils, leafy nuances, and minerals. On the palate: light dry fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of leafy green apples on the finish. Fresh, balanced, and clear-cut. Screwcap closure. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

87    $14.95 (#297192)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Muralhas de Monção 2011, Vinho Verde DOC, Portugal: Pale lime in colour with a touch of straw, the 2011 Vinho Verde features subtle notes of green apples, herbs, and lemony nuances. On the palate: crisp, dry fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of green apples and a little spritz on the finis. Clean, basic, and fresh—good value white. Mostly Alvarinho and Trajadura. Now-2012+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

87    $14.95 (#80374)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Ormarine 2009 Carte Noire, Picpoul de Pinet AOC, Midi, France: Very pale lime in colour, the 2009 Carte Noire reveals leafy green fruits, lemon, and a hint of cream and stony beach pebbles. On the palate: crisp fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of leafy green apples on the finish. Light and refreshing. Screwcap closure. Now-2010. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2010)

 

87    $12.95 (#525287)     Vintages 30 October 2010 Release

 

Yering Station 2008 Little Yering Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia: Pale lime in colour with a touch of straw, the 2008 Little Yering Chardonnay is lightly toasted, with fresh notes of pears (slightly nutted), dried apricots, and a hint of green apples. Palate: good fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of dried pears on the finish. Solid and fresh. Screwcap closure. Now-2010+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, February 2010)

 

87    $14.95 (#145318)     LCBO General List

 

Skuttlebutt 2008 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia: Pale lime in colour with a touch of straw, the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon displays dried lime-infused green apples and lemongrass, plus a hint of kiwi and mineral elements. Palate: light crisp fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of green apples and lemongrass on the finish. Refreshing and balanced. Screwcap closure. Now-2010. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, February 2010)

 

86++    $14.95 (#157867)     LCBO General List

 

Ducourt 2008 Réserve de Famille Sauvignon Gris, Bordeaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Very pale straw-lime in colour, the 2008 Réserve de Famille Sauvignon Gris reveals sweet-like green apples and Bosc pears, along with a hint of lemon and white flowers. Palate: basic decent fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of green apples on the finish. Simple and fresh. Now-2010. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

86+    $12.95 (#171108)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Red Wines:

Château Montrose 2009, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France: A legend of the making, the 2009 Château Montrose is, without a shred of reservation, the greatest wine this estate has ever created. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, this larger-than-life offering reveals indulgent, elegant aromas of blackberry compote, crème de cassis, currants, dried blueberries, licorice, spring flowers, forest floor, crushed rocks, vanilla, and spice. Immensely complex, possessing substantial yet entirely elegant fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an uncharacteristically decadent, finesse-driven hint of blackberry compote, dried blueberries, and spring flowers on the finish. Powerful, pristine, and almost surreal. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Now-2050+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

97    $249.00 (#200980)     Vintages 2009 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Le Dôme 2009, St-Emilion AOC, Bordeaux, France: The culmination of perfectionist winegrowing derived from a fantastical year, the 2009 Château Le Dôme is a must-have. Opaque ruby in colour, this elegant blockbuster is beautifully toasted, exuding near-addictive, multilayered aromas of mocha, blackberry treacle, crème de cassis, blueberries, licorice, forest floor, minerals, pain grille, spring flowers, vanilla, and spice. Truly complex, wielding unbelievably rich, well-structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a long-lasting, decadent hint of crème de cassis, mocha, and mineral composites on the finish. Magnificent abundance, balance, and elegance. This shall easily keep for the next thirty years, though many collectors will have trouble waiting. 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot. Now-2042++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

96++    $229.00 (#204735)     Vintages 2009 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Angélus 2006, St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: One of the top three notes I have from this immaculate estate, the 2006 Château Angélus is a tour de force of stunning energy, finesse, and layering. Dark-opaque ruby, the wine remains exceedingly youthful, delivering captivating aromas of currants, plums, blackberries, spring flowers, espresso, licorice, pain grille, forest floor, crushed rocks, charcoal, vanilla, and spice. Extremely complex, retaining fantastical fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a magnificent, ultra-polished hint of blackberries, licorice, and minerals on the finish. Unbelievable texture, elegance, and completeness. 62% Merlot and 38% Cabernet Franc. Now-2035++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

95++    $292.55 (#567065)     Vintages 2006 Bordeaux Futures

 

Beringer 2007 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California: Prodigious offering from a fabulous vintage, the 2007 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is all that it should be—and just a little more. Opaque ruby in colour, this beauty is finely toasted, showcasing delectable aromas of currants, blueberries, mocha, charcoal embers, pain grille, forest floor, incense, tar, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, delivering fantastic, appropriately structured forward fruit, firm tannins, slightly milder acidity, and a superlative, polished hint of mocha shavings and currants on the finish. Classic outing, one of the best this behemoth winery has ever produced. Also contains 3% Cabernet Franc. Now-2028++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2011)

 

94++    $111.79 (Private Order)     Morrell & Company (USA)

 

Jonata 2008 Sangre, Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara County), California: A personal favourite of mine, the 2008 Sangre is one riveting proposition. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is beautifully toasted, revealing amazing, uplifting aromas of fragrant currants, black fruits, blackberry compote, blueberries, licorice, pipe tobacco, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, carrying unbelievably sumptuous fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and an extremely lengthy, fantastical hint of pure, slightly mineral-constituted blackberry compote, blueberries, and pipe tobacco on the finish. Classic concentration and intensity, with substantial finesse and harmony. 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier. Now-2028. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

94++    $150.00 (#220517)     Vintages October 2012 Classics Collection

 

Domaine de Chevalier 2009, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: A new standard of excellence at this already-remarkable property, the 2009 Domaine de Chevalier is easily the greatest red this estate has ever created. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine reveals inescapably elegant, enthralling aromas of fragrant currants and plums; switching to ‘crunchy’ blackberries, raspberries, spring flowers, underbrush, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with impeccable fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an inspirational hint of currants, minerals, and floral elements on the finish. Exquisite design, finesse, and depth. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 6% Petit Verdot. Now-2036++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

94    $109.00 (#201350)     Vintages 2009 Bordeaux Futures

 

Bruno Giacosa 2005 Falletto, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy: Exceptional Barolo from a very challenging vintage, the 2005 Falletto would make a fabulous addition to any well-rounded cellar. Medium red-garnet in colour, the wine is very lightly toasted, demonstrating extraordinary, elegant aromas of dried cherries and alternate red fruits; switching to chestnuts, tealeaves, tar, leather, licorice, white truffles, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, possessing exemplary, finesse-driven fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superb hint of cherries, leather, and chestnuts on the finish. Medium-weight as a whole, still outstandingly styled, balanced, and focused. Now-2025+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2010)

 

94    $199.00 (#92130)     Vintages May 2010 Classics Collection

 

Jonata 2008 El Desafio, Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara County), California: The closest thing to a Left Bank blend at Jonata, the sumptuous 2008 El Desafio is clearly crafted along dissimilar lines to its Napa/Sonoma equivalents. Opaque ruby in colour, it offers rich, ‘cooler’ aromas of slightly fragrant currants and black fruits; switching to cherries, licorice, kirsch liqueur, dark mocha, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, delivering deliciously textured fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a long-lasting, stupendous hint of currants, dark mocha, and forest floor on the finish. Powerful, lengthy, and immensely characterful. 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Merlot. Now-2026+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

94    $145.00 (#218933)     Vintages March 2013 Classics Collection

 

Jonata 2006 La Fuerza, Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara County), California: The most sublime Petit Verdot (100%) I have ever tasted, the 2006 La Fuerza has opened up my eyes as to the possibilities of this wonderful grape. Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, providing opulent, original aromas of blackberry treacle, crème de cassis, chocolate, licorice-infused spring flowers, bay leaves, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with well-structured, extraordinarily textured fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and an extremely long hint of ‘dusty’ chocolate and crème de cassis on the finish. Wonderfully attractive, balanced, and harmonious—a champion. Now-2025. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

94    $95.00 (#221168)     Vintages May 2011 Classics Collection

 

Lapostolle 2007 Clos Apalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Consistently in a league of its own, the flagship wine of Lapostolle has never failed to knock me off my feet. Opaque ruby in colour with a touch of purple, this monumental Bordeaux-blend exhibits sensational aromas of dark chocolate-covered cherries and currants; switching to plums, blueberries, white pepper, espresso, leather, crushed rocks, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, wielding sumptuous, exceptional multilayered fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lengthy hint of ‘dusty’ cherried black currants and dark mocha on the finish. Simply gorgeous, powerful, and polished. 61% Carmenère, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2010)

 

93++    $109.95 (Private Order)     Diageo

 

Jonata 2007 El Desafio, Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara County), California: Tasted alongside the ’08, the delectable 2007 El Desafio reflects a more chocolaty, oak-driven approach. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is beautifully toasted, offering copious aromas of chocolate, currants, blackberry treacle, kirsch, crème brûlée, licorice, nutted brownies, forest floor traces, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, possessing extremely concentrated velvety fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a persistent, extravagant hint of chocolate and currants on the finish. Powerful, tempting, and bold. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot. Now-2024++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93+    $145.00 (#218993)     Vintages October 2011 Classics Collection

 

Jonata 2007 Fenix, Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara County), California: About as decadent as winegrowing gets, the 2007 Fenix is unfathomably tempting. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, displaying provocative aromas of milk chocolate (slightly fragrant), ‘dusty’ plummy currants, crème de cassis, blackberry compote, kirsch, charcoal, damp earth, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, boasting sumptuous, outstanding fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a long, abundantly saturated hint of chocolate and plummy currants on the finish. Rich, concentrated, and Parkerized. 84% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot. Now-2026+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93+    $95.00 (#253237)     Vintages May 2012 Classics Collection

 

Jonata 2008 El Alma, Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara County), California: Opaque ruby in colour, the showstopping 2008 El Ama is finely toasted, bestowing inviting aromas of fragrant wild flowers, currants, plums, blueberries, strawberries, ‘dusty’ mocha, minerals, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, exuding impeccable, well-structured fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a long, abundant hint of black fruits, damp earth, and wild flower traces on the finish. Powerful, exacting, and full of life. 75% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93    $149.00 (#218925)     Vintages May 2012 Classics Collection

 

Château Malartic-Lagravière 2009, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Bordeaux, France: Excepting Smith Haut Lafitte, few other châteaux in Pessac-Léognan have improved as much (or as fast) as Malartic-Lagravière. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, featuring elegant, premier aromas of black currants, dark cherries, espresso, forest floor, minerals, cookie crumble, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, retaining refined fruit, firm tannins (a little chewy), balanced acidity, and a lifted, concentrated hint of currants, espresso, and mineral components on the finish. Extraordinary style, body, and focus. 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

93    $85.00 (#201087)     Vintages 2009 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Montrose 2008, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France: Extraordinary follow-up to the overachieving ’07, the 2008 Château Montrose is unwaveringly, spot-on exceptional. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine delivers enticing, spirited aromas of currants, plums, blackberries, mildly fragrant cherries, espresso, licorice, underbrush, graphite/minerals, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, retaining elegant ‘claret’ fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an inescapably refined, enduring hint of currants, graphite, and atypical floral notes on the finish. Brilliantly crafted, this will keep for well over a quarter of a century. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Now-2040++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

93    $129.00 (#137232)     Vintages 14 April 2012 In-Store Discoveries

 

Château Beauregard 2009, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Owned by Crédit Foncière since 1991, Château Beauregard has experienced several giant leaps forward in quality over the last several years. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the glorious ’09 is finely toasted, delivering enticing aromas of plummy currants, mocha/espresso, licorice, underbrush, crushed rocks, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, retaining excellent fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a concentrated, elegant hint of plums, licorice, and espresso on the finish. Outstandingly delicious, balanced, and polished. 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Now-2034. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

92++    $41.82 (Private Order)     Bootle (France)

 

Château Branaire-Ducru 2008, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: Along strikingly similar lines as the ’05, proprietor Patrick Maroteaux’s 2008 Branaire-Ducru is one for the highlight reel. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is lightly yet finely toasted, demonstrating enticing, elegant aromas of delicate currants, blackberries, black cherries, espresso, crushed rocks, scorched earth, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with impeccable fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a delicious, supple hint of currants, black cherries, and pencil lead on the finish. Fantastic integration, structure, and breed. 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Now-2026+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

92++    $63.00 (#137273)     Vintages 2008 Bordeaux Futures

 

Jonata 2008 La Tierra, Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara County), California: Even better than the ’07, the colossal 2008 Jonata La Tierra basks in incredible potency, style, and intensity of flavour. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, providing exciting aromas of wild game-infused cherries, strawberries, currants, kirsch, licorice, pain grille, and a hint of grilled herbs, vanilla, and spice. Complex, featuring exquisite fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a long, finely textured hint of curranted strawberries and tobacco elements on the finish. Remarkably assembled, this beauty will keep for at least a decade. 94% Sangiovese and 6% Syrah. Now-2022++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92++    $89.00 (#221150)     Vintages May 2012 Classics Collection

 

Bixio Poderi 2007, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC, Veneto, Italy: Examined at the annual Amarone extravaganza in Verona, the 2007 Bixio Poderi is not to be taken lightly. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, showcasing powerful, youthful aromas of Baker’s Chocolate®, dark plums, currants, dried cherries, tar, forest floor, abundant sinewy nuances, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting smooth/velvety fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a long, delicious hint of dark plums and underbrush (appassimento style) on the finish. Bold, fulsome, and built for the long haul. Now-2021++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, February 2011)

 

92+    Price Unavailable     Private Collection

 

Bonazzi & Boscaini 2007, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC, Veneto, Italy: Located in the heart of Valpolicella, the Bonazzi & Boscaini company has been making wine for over forty years. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2007 Amarone Classico is finely toasted, expressing elegant, intrinsically inviting aromas of wild black cherries and mocha; switching to strawberries, leather, tar, cloves, forest floor, and a hint of dates, vanilla, and spice. Complex, retaining delicious, refined fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lasting hint of velvety plums on the finish. Beautiful, finely interwoven, and very powerful. Now-2019++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, February 2011)

 

92+    Price Unavailable     Private Collection

 

Château Clerc Milon 2009, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: When all is said and done, the 2009 Clerc Milon is unquestionably managing/technical director Patrick Léon’s best vintage to date. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it offers gorgeous, slightly floral aromas of currants, plums, blackberries, cherries, licorice, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with excellent, well-structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a delicious, ‘compact’ hint of currants, blackberries, and pain grille on the finish. Superlative character, balance, and elegance. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, and 1% Carmenère. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

92+    $89.00 (#197806)     Vintages 2009 Bordeaux Futures

 

Château Cos Labory 2009, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France: From the smallest St-Estèphe in the 1855 Classification, the gloriously crafted 2009 Cos Labory sure packs a punch. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it displays inviting, almost ‘excitable’ aromas of slightly fragrant currants, plums, dried blueberries, kirsch liqueur, licorice, vanilla, and spice. Complex and very concentrated, sporting exceptional, finely textured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, exquisite hint of currants, blackberries, and licorice on the finish. Superb heft, structure, and style. 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Merlot. Now-2035+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

92+    $56.00 (#197525)     Vintages 2009 Bordeaux Futures

 

Hidden Bench 2007 La Brunante, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Flagship label from one of the greatest wineries in Ontario, the 2007 La Brunante is likely the best Bordeaux-blend I have ever tasted from my home province. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine reveals incredible aromas of well-proportioned black mocha and currants; shortly giving way to blackberry compote, black raspberries, espresso, pencil lead, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, sporting deliciously supple fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a terrific hint of black mocha/espresso and currants on the finish. Outstanding, alluring wine. 53% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Malbec, and 11% Cabernet Franc. Now-2018++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

92+    $85.00 (Private Order)     Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery

 

Keenan 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California: Colossal proposition at 15.5% alcohol, the massive 2008 Keenan is one of muscular, acutely layered Cabernet. Opaque black-ruby in colour with purple highlights, the wine is beautifully toasted, displaying copious aromas of dark crème de cassis, currants, black mocha, Linzertorte, crushed rocks, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Complex, featuring powerful, finely textured fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a long-lasting, exceptional hint of ‘purple’ crème de cassis and crushed rocks on the finish. Impeccable structure, sumptuousness, and length. Now-2028+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92+    $60.95 (#685685)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Lapostolle 2007 Borobo, Colchagua Valley, Chile: An unusual blend of grapes sourced from various winegrowing regions, the 2007 Borobo is an incredible success. Opaque purple-ruby in colour, this absurd offering is finely toasted, presenting alluring aromas of milk chocolate and white pepper; quickly giving way to currants, crème de cassis, black cherries, plums, leather, graphite, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting deliciously supple fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a superb, lingering hint of currants, mocha, and saddle leather on the finish. Excellent character, balance, and breadth. 67% Carmenère, 17% Pinot Noir, 13% Syrah, and 3% Petit Verdot. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2010)

 

92+    $94.00 (#39263)     Vintages October 2010 Classics Collection

 

Domaine Cazes 2007 Le Credo, Côte du Roussillon Villages AOC, Midi, France: Top red of Domaine Cazes, the 2007 Le Credo, opaque ruby in colour, delivers immensely alluring aromas of dark mocha and baked black plums; giving way to currants, blueberries, dark raspberries, leather, scorched earth, toasted oak, and a hint of herbs, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with deliciously smooth fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lengthy hint of baked black fruits, mocha extract, and lavender on the finish. Sumptuous with clear Roussillon inclinations. 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 30% Mourvèdre. Now-2019+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2010)

 

92    $74.95 (Private Order)     Select Wines & Spirits

 

L’Excellence du Château Gouprie 2009, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Flagship wine of the estate, the 2009 l’Excellence du Château Gouprie acquits itself along similar lines as many of the more established names in Pomerol. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it is beautifully toasted, showcasing enticing aromas of mocha, blackberry compote, spring flowers, graham crackers, forest floor, asphalt, vanilla, and spice. Complex, possessing sincerely delicious, full-bodied fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an exemplary, polished hint of plums, blackberries, and licorice on the finish. Quite rich, poignant, and excellently crafted. 100% Merlot. Now-2032+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

92    Price Unavailable     Private Collection

 

Hardys 2002 Thomas Hardy Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia: Sourced from two-thirds Margaret River and one-third McLaren Vale vines, the 2002 Thomas Hardy Cabernet Sauvignon is one hefty, seriously crafted specimen. Opaque ruby-red currant in colour, it reveals intense aromas of baked mint-infused eucalyptus and currants; switching to stewed leather, dried black fruits, roasted coffee beans, cedarwood traces, vanilla, and spice. Complex, delivering delicious, powerful forward fruit, supple tannins, mild acidity, and a long-lasting, copious hint of baked eucalyptus, plums, and freshly brewed coffee on the finish. Mammoth, beautifully aged, and characterful. Now-2017++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2009)

 

92    $89.95 (#464461)     Vintages 25 October 2008 In-Store Discovery

 

Hidden Bench 2007 Locust Lane Vineyard Pinot Noir, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Unequivocally the greatest Ontarian Pinot Noir I have examined to date, the 2007 Locust Lane Vineyard is a must-have. Dark ruby in colour, the wine is very lightly toasted, delivering superlative aromas of cherries and red currants; switching to crème brûlée, raspberries, blackberries, Chinese black tea, pipe tobacco, and a hint of exotic spices. Very complex, wielding exceptional fruit, fine-firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, remarkable hint of pure black raspberries and alternate ‘Pinot’ fruits on the finish. Gorgeous wine—bravo! Now-2016++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

92    $65.00 (Private Order)     Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery

 

Niebaum-Coppola 1999 Rubicon, Napa Valley, California: Examined alongside the infantile ’06, the 1999 Rubicon ably demonstrates the uncanny ageability of Coppola’s top label. Opaque (faded) red currant in colour, it remains lightly toasted, revealing an invigorating bouquet of dried red currants and plums; switching to cedarwood, cigarbox, forest floor, and a hint of white pepper and exotic spices. Complex, retaining beautiful vibrant fruit, well-structured yet accessible tannins, balanced acidity, and a lovely, elegant hint of red plums and light mocha on the finish. Winning balance, style, and maturity. Now-2014++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2010)

 

92    $88.44 (Private Order)     The Old & Rare Wine Company (USA)

 

Château La Pointe 2009, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Large-scale property by Pomerol standards (22ha), the d’Arfeuille family sold La Pointe in 2007 to insurer Generali France. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the stellar ’09 is beautifully toasted, with enticing aromas of dark mocha, currants, black fruits, licorice, spring flowers, delicate cookie crumble, subtle underbrush, graphite, vanilla, and spice. Complex, wielding deliciously concentrated, finely structured fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a brilliant hint of currants, dried black cherries, and mineral traces on the finish. Medium-rich, opulent approach; delicious claret. 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. Now-2032+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

92    $33.39 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Guerrieri Rizzardi 2007 Villa Rizzardi, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC, Veneto, Italy: Compelling and powerful (logging in at 16% alcohol), the 2007 Villa Rizzardi puts on an excellent show. Opaque faded red currant in colour, it exhibits enticing aromas of intensely savoury plums, dried cherries, subtle cedarwood, Baker’s Chocolate®, sinewy nuances, roasted meats, undergrowth, vanilla, and spice. Complex, retaining beautiful, well-developed chewy fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, poignant hint of savoury plums, undergrowth, and mild sinewy chocolate on the finish. Truly delicious and characterful. Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Barbera (percentages unknown). Now-2020+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92    $46.95 (#302836)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Brio de Cantenac Brown 2009, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: As hard as it is to believe, the 2009 Brio de Cantenac Brown surpasses a host of more famous growths from alternate vintages. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ‘second wine’ Château Cantenac Brown reveals plentiful aromas of fragrant currants, blackberries, black raspberries, violets, dried cherries, minerals, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Complex, wielding elegant, surprisingly concentrated fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a remarkable hint of currants, blackberries, and violets on the finish. Exquisite overachiever. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Now-2024++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

91++    $22.26 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Château Fonplégade 2009, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: While I prefer the ’08, the sheer power of the 2009 Château Fonplégade will elicit a fierce group of admirers. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, featuring youthfully alluring aromas of moderate mocha, currants, crème de cassis (liqueur format), blackberry compote, licorice, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with excellent, indulgent fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a powerful yet elegant hint of generous blackberry compote, licorice, and mineral composites on the finish. Formidable and concentrated, yet generally well-balanced on the whole. 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Now-2030++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

91++    $44.71 (Private Order)     JJ Buckley Fine Wines (USA)

 

Viu Manent 2008 Viu 1, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Top wine of the establishment, the 2008 Viu 1 is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Opaque ruby in colour, it features beautiful, up-tempo aromas of dark ‘dusty’ violet cherries and currants; switching to blackberries, leather, forest floor, white pepper, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting delicious, finely textured fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lasting, elegantly supple hint of violet-driven currants and black fruits on the finish. Exceptional, marvellously executed red. Predominantly Malbec. Now-2018++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2010)

 

91+    $70.00 (Private Order)     Churchill Cellars

 

Henry of Pelham 2007 Speck Family Reserve Cabernet/Merlot, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Truly the finest red Henry of Pelham has ever produced, the 2007 Cabernet-Merlot might never be surpassed by future vintages. Dark ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, exhibiting inviting aromas of fresh mocha (slightly peppery), currants, black cherries, blackberries, scorched earth, vanilla, and spice. Complex, delivering superlative, elegant fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lovely, Bordelaise-style hint of currants, red fruits, and graphite on the finish. Beautiful structure, balance, and harmony. Now-2015++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, February 2010)

 

91+    $50.00 (#616433)     Vintages Archives

 

Terre Andina 2007 Suyai, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Flagship label of Terre Andina, the 2007 Suyai is a delicious, robust proposition. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, exhibiting inviting aromas of semi-fragrant currants, mocha, dark cherries, leather, white pepper, roasted meats (very subtle), cedarwood, vanilla, and spice. Complex, carrying sumptuous fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lengthy, focused hint of currants, mocha, and red fruits on the finish. Powerful, balanced, and polished. 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc, 13% Carignan, and 7% Carmenère. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2010)

 

91    $59.95 (Private Order)     Mark Anthony Brands

 

Château Brane-Cantenac 2006, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: As Second Growths go, Château Brane-Cantenac always does well in the best vintages, though continues to underperform in second-tier ones; yet the ’06 may indicate a change in direction. Dark ruby-red currant in colour, it offers attractive aromas of fragrant currants, plums, wild flowers, pain grille, forest floor, and a hint of minerals and spice. Complex, retaining superbly elegant fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a sophisticated hint of currants and plums (slightly savoury) on the finish. Great refinement, structure, and balance. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. Now-2022+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

91    $85.00 (#235408)     Vintages October 2011 Classics Collection

 

Château La Fleur de Boüard 2009, Lalande-de-Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Standard-bearer estate of Lalande-de-Pomerol, La Fleur de Boüard is owned by the same family as Château Angélus. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the impeccable ’09 reveals exciting, slightly ‘brooding’ aromas of dark plums, blackberries, red cherries, forest floor, asphalt, wild game, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with excellent fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a poised, concentrated hint of currants and asphalt on the finish. Delicious, full-bodied, and balanced—this should keep for a very long time. 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2030+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

91    $50.00 (#196014)     Vintages 2009 Bordeaux Futures

 

Jordan 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley (Sonoma County), California: One of very few notes I have from this winery, winemaker Rob Davis’ 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon hits many high notes. Dark-opaque ruby in colour and toasted, it presents beautiful aromas of moderate mocha, ‘dusty’ currants and plums, red cherries, licorice, graphite, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting great fruit, firm tannins, slightly milder acidity, and a marvellous, almost refined hint of currants (slightly floral) on the finish. Superb structure, balance, and mood. Also contains 19.5% Merlot, 4.5% Petit Verdot, and 1% Malbec. Now-2018++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2011)

 

91    $59.95 (#932434)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes 2007, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Rhône, France: Marked by great structure and freshness, the 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape hardly misses a beat. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is lightly toasted, featuring inviting, engaging aromas of black cherries and raspberries; switching to fragrant plums and alternate red fruits, blackberries, leather, Provençal herbs, scorched earth, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with seriously fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering hint of cherried red plums and dark raspberries on the finish. Superb fruit-oriented Rhône-blend. 80% Grenache, 8% Syrah, 75 Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault. Now-20121++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2010)

 

91    $39.95 (#993279)     Vintages 7 August 2010 Release

 

Château Daugay 2009, St-Emilion Grand Cru AOC, Bordeaux, France: Polished, supple St-Emilion, the 2009 Château Daugay has a very confident, satisfying aura about it. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, delivering beautiful, delicate yet appropriately rounded aromas of currants, black cherries, red/black fruits, licorice, underbrush, forest floor, mocha, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with delicious, accessible fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a velvety hint of plummy currants and licorice on the finish. Great balance and concentration. 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc. Now-2022+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

90++    $27.83 (Private Order)     MacArthur Beverages (USA)

 

Château Gouprie 2009, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: One of two notes I recently collected from here, the 2009 Château Gouprie has all the makings of an attractive mid-weight Pomerol. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, offering refined aromas of plums, black cherries, red fruits, licorice, pain grille, mocha, vanilla, and spice. Complex, featuring a very beautiful, fruit-driven mouthfeel, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant, supple hint of plummy currants and red licorice on the finish. Lovely finesse, full-bodiedness, and flavour. 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. Now-2025+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

90++    $27.15 (Private Order)     Vins Ducamin (France)

 

Château Beauregard 2000, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: My oldest note from this estate, compared to more recent vintages I’ve tasted, the 2000 Château Beauregard suggests a more ‘seasoned,’ leaner approach. Dark-opaque (faded) ruby-red currant in colour, it boasts a beautiful bouquet of dried black fruits, scorched earth, pain grille, tobacco, cedary/savoury nuances, and spice. Complex, with marvellous mature fruit, still-firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a sophisticated hint of plums, wild game, and underbrush on the finish. Aging superbly. 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. Now-2017+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

90+    $52.47 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Thomas George Estates 2008 Pinot Noir, Pomerol AOC, Bordeaux, France: Medium ruby in colour, the 2008 Pinot Noir reveals beautiful, fragrant aromas of cinnamon-laced plums, raspberries, violets, strawberries, mild incense, and a hint of spice. Complex, carrying very pure fruit, fine tannins, balanced acidity, high alcohol (14.7%), and a lasting, elegant hint of cherries, violets, and cinnamon sticks on the finish. Marvellously crafted, stylish, and surprisingly well-balanced—the alcohol is very finely masked for the most part. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2010)

 

90+    $40.00 (Private Order)     B & W Wines

 

Chateau St Jean 2008 Benoist Ranch Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast (Sonoma County), California: Relatively recent addition to the significant St Jean portfolio, Pinot Noir has only been bottled from the Benoist Ranch vineyard since 2005. Medium-dark ruby in colour, the ’08 offers beautifully perfumed aromas of raspberries, plums, delicate strawberries, pink flowers (roses in particular), and a hint of rhubarb and spice. Complex, with generous silky fruit, fine tannins, balanced acidity, high alcohol (14.9%), and a refined, polished hint of raspberries and plums on the finish. Tempting and unmistakably Californian. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, February 2012)

 

90    $54.95 (Private Order)     Treasury Wine Estates

 

Selection Laurence Féraud 2007, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Rhône, France: To be sure, the 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape strongly benefits from a real sense of uniqueness, expression, and ‘rustic’ disposition. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it reveals plentiful aromas of fragrant garrigue; quickly subsiding to red fruits and black raspberries, leather, roasted meats, Provençal herbs, and spice. Complex, retaining beautiful fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, characterful hint of red fruits and roasted meats on the finish. Superb individualism; though for shorter term keeping. Now-2016++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, March 2011)

 

90    $42.95 (#211474)     Vintages 5 March 2011 Release

 

Ferraton Père & Fils 2007 l’Eglantine, Côte-Rôtie AOC, Rhône, France: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the beautiful 2007 l’Eglantine offers intense, well-defined aromas of black pepper-infused brambleberries and black fruits; giving way to currants, leather, dried herbs, and spice. Complex, retaining great fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a truly lovely, almost graceful hint of white/black pepper, brambleberries, and plums on the finish. Superb offering; ideal as an introduction to the appellation. 100% Syrah. Now-2017+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2011)

 

90    $74.00 (#206144)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Henry of Pelham 2007 Speck Family Reserve Pinot Noir, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: As with most other wines from this much-heralded vintage, the 2007 Speck Family Reserve Pinot Noir is likely the best the winery’s ever made. Medium ruby in colour, it is lightly toasted, detailing very lovely aromas of fresh cherries, plums, raspberries, sweet rhubarb, violets, light white mocha, and a hint of vanilla and spice. Complex, with beautiful fruit, well-integrated tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, elegant hint of fresh cherries and raspberries on the finish. Superb expression and style. Now-2012++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, February 2010)

 

90    $40.00 (#657874)     Vintages Archives

 

Quinta do Malhô 2007, Douro DOC, Portugal: From François Lurton’s Douro outpost, the 2007 Quinta do Malhô shows remarkable potential. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, offering youthful, expressive aromas of fresh mocha, plummy currants, dark blueberries, scorched earth, vanilla, and spice. Complex, retaining great fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, fulsome yet elegant hint of dried currants, blueberries, and mocha extract on the finish. Superbly structured, balanced, and styled. Sourced partially from pre-phylloxera vines, included in the blend are Touriga Franca, Sousão, and Tinta Amarela. Now-2017++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2009)

 

90    $50.00 (Private Order)     Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits

 

Muga 2006 Reserva, Rioja DOCa, Spain: Likely the freshest Muga I’ve ever tasted, the 2006 Reserva shows much improvement over many past vintages. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely (if not more delicately) toasted, displaying lovely aromas of dark ‘rugged’ currants and cherries; giving way to licorice, black mocha shavings, fresh leather, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with beautiful fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant hint of cherried currants on the finish. Truly well done. 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, the rest Mazuelo and Graciano. Now-2017+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2011)

 

90    $23.95 (#177345)     Vintages Essentials

 

Remoissenet Père & Fils 2007, Chambolle-Musigny AOC, Burgundy, France: Surprisingly first-rate from one of the most underperforming operations in Burgundy, the 2007 Chambolle-Musigny is quite a beautiful village wine. Medium-dark ruby in colour, it displays intense Chambolle-style aromas of cherries and raspberries; switching to rhubarb, ‘darkened’ cinnamon sticks, and a very delicate hint of toasted oak, white earth, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with really lovely fruit, fine tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant hint of cherries and spice elements on the finish. Great purity, focus, and flavour. Now-2015++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

90    $59.95 (#113621)     Vintages 27 November 2010 Release

 

Casa Silva 2006 Microterroir de los Lingues Carmenère, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Top Carmenère bottling of the winery, the 2006 Microterroir de los Lingues is acutely oak-driven and opulent. Opaque ruby in colour, it details attractive, archetypal aromas of black currants and red fruits; giving way to mocha, cherries, leather, rose petals, bonbons, vanilla, and spice. Complex, featuring very beautiful fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lengthy hint of black cherried cassis and toasted oak on the finish. Delicious, powerful, and Parkerized. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2010)

 

90    $48.99 (Private Order)     Churchill Cellars

 

Southbrook 2007 Poetica Cabernet/Merlot, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Top Bordeaux-blend from one Niagara’s fastest-improving wineries, the 2007 Poetica is unusually decadent by Ontario standards. Dark ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, exhibiting superb aromas of dark berry-infused currants and mocha; switching to blueberries, black plums, espresso, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with great fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant, engaging hint of currants, espresso, and red fruits on the finish. Opulent, fulsome style. 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Cabernet Franc, and 23% Merlot. Now-2015++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

90    $60.00 (#149203)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Tawse 2009 Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Once again, proprietor Maury Tawse’s Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc stands out as one of the best of its kind in Niagara. Dark ruby in colour, the first-rate ’09 reveals very lovely, gracious aromas of dark cherry-driven red fruits, switching to dried currants, scorched earth, moderate toasted oak, underbrush, and a hint of vanilla and spice. Complex, boasting beautiful, elegant fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, poised hint of red fruits (slightly claret-like) on the finish. Superb balance, structure, and finesse. Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

90    $31.95 (#130997)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Taz 2007 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, California: My only note from here, winemaker Natasha Boffman’s 2007 Pinot Noir suggests this Treasury-owned operation takes its wines seriously. Medium ruby in colour, it is finely toasted, offering lovely aromas of cherries, violet-infused raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb, and a hint of vanilla and spice. Complex, retaining very fine fruit, approachable tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering, polished hint of red cherries on the finish. Beautifully flavoured, balanced, and fresh—great stuff. Now-2013+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, February 2010)

 

90    $29.95 (Private Order)     Treasury Wine Estates

 

Amayna 2008 Pinot Noir, Leyda Valley, Chile: While popularly known for its full-bodied reds, the 2008 Amayna suggests Pinot Noir also has a bright future in Chile. Medium-dark ruby in colour, the wine is lightly toasted, possessing beautiful aromas of dark rhubarb-infused cherries, raspberries, blackberries, plums, graphite, roasted coffee beans (without the brettanomyces), and a hint of vanilla and spice. Complex, with lovely fruit expression, fine tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering hint of dark raspberries and cherries on the finish. Powerful, fresh, and delicious. Now-2013++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2010)

 

89++    $28.95 (Private Order)     Whitehall Agencies

 

Château Andron Blanquet 2009, St-Estèphe AOC, Bordeaux, France: My only note from here, the 2009 Andron Blanquet (made at Fifth Growth Cos Labory) is quite rich and satisfying. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it boasts generous, characterful aromas of currants, plums, blueberries, licorice, mild bonbons, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with beautiful fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, ‘coated’ hint of sweet blackberries, currants, and licorice on the finish. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 15% Cabernet Franc. Full-bodied, confident, and desirably fat; albeit a little confectioned. Now-2024. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2012)

 

89++    $29.80 (Private Order)     Total Wine & More (USA)

 

Cloudy Bay 2007 Pinot Noir, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand: Though best known for its Sauvignon Blanc, the 2007 Pinot Noir suggests Cloudy Bay also has a knack for cool-climate reds. Medium ruby-red currant in colour, the wine reveals ‘seasoned,’ accessible aromas of dried cherries, strawberries, and red fruits; switching to rhubarb, wild game, and spice. Complex, boasting delicious, easily appreciable fruit, soft tannins, balanced acidity, and a delightful hint of cherries and strawberries on the finish. Certainly impressive, opting for first-rate balance and focus. Screwcap closure. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2011)

 

89++    $38.00 (#598813)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Beringer 2006 Merlot, Napa Valley, California: Overpriced in this market, the 2006 Merlot is fairly delectable and polished. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, revealing attractive, ‘standardized’ aromas of black mocha, currants, plums, dark cherries, vanilla, and spice. Complex, retaining appetizing fruit, firm yet accessible tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering hint of baked mocha and currants on the finish. Easily enjoyable, balanced, and supple; though not exactly brimming with flair. Now-2015+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

89+    $29.95 (#919647)     Vintages 27 November 2010 Release

 

Arnaldo Caprai 2009, Montefalco Rosso DOC, Umbria, Italy: Good value from one of the top producers in Umbria, the 2009 Montefalco Rosso is well balanced and very satisfying. Dark ruby in colour, the wine is lightly toasted, sporting lovely aromas of slightly ‘rugged’ cherries, plums, dried black fruits, forest floor, and a hint of vanilla and spice. Complex, with very fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, well-structured hint of plums and forest floor elements on the finish. Tight at present, this will easily keep for the next five years. Typically 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, and 15% Merlot. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

89    $19.95 (#303065)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Château de Fontenelles 2007 Cuvée Renaissance, Corbières AOC, Midi, France: Opaque purple-ruby in colour, the 2007 Cuvée Renaissance offers impressive aromas of dark currants (slightly baked) and espresso; switching to plums, kirsch, leather, violets, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with very satisfying fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a very flavourful, well-structured hint of spiced plums and cloves on the finish. Delicious, balanced, and chewy. 55% Syrah, 30% Grenache, the rest Carignan and Mourvèdre. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, March 2011)

 

89    $18.95 (#148692)     Vintages 30 April 2011 Release

 

M. Gassier 2010 Nostre Pais, Costières de Nîmes AOC, Rhône, France: From one of the most improved appellations in the Southern Rhône, the 2010 Nostre Pais performs admirably. Opaque purple-ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, with impressive pseudo-saturated aromas of blackberries, brambleberries, dried cherries, black raspberries, incense, white pepper, and a hint of tobacco and spice. Complex, with robust fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a satisfying hint of blackberries and subtle tobacco on the finish. Impressive balance, structure, and regional character. 35% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 20% Mourvèdre, 15% Cinsault, and 5% Syrah. Now-2017+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

89    $18.95 (#295410)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Henry of Pelham 2007 Reserve Baco Noir, VQA Ontario, Canada: Easily the finest producer of this passable hybrid, the 2007 Reserve Baco Noir is probably as good as this grape gets. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is lightly toasted, offering pleasant aromas of ‘rustic’ black currants, leather, tar, wild game elements, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of red currants on the finish. Finely crafted, with impressive balance and flavour. Now-2011+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

89    $24.95 (#461699)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Mitolo 2009 Jester Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia: Opaque ruby in colour, the 2009 Jester is quite the minty Shiraz, offering lovely aromas of black mocha, currants, blackberries, licorice, ‘darkened’ incense, leather, vanilla, and spice. Complex, carrying very satisfying forward fruit, supple tannins, mild acidity, and a lingering hint of smooth plums and licorice on the finish. Full-bodied, appetizing, and balanced. Screwcap closure. Now-2016++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2011)

 

89    $21.95 (#659607)     Vintages Essentials

 

Château de Monturon 2010, St-Emilion Grand Cru AOC, Bordeaux, France: Good follow-up to the ’09, the 2010 Château de Monturon is finely flavoured and fruit-oriented. Dark ruby in colour, it details lovely aromas of sweet red fruits, black cherries, moderate mocha extract, licorice, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a splendid hint of red fruits and currants (plus toasted oak) on the finish. Delightful balance and disposition. Now-2018. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

89    $23.95 (#171017)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Domaine Vincent Paris 2009, St-Joseph AOC, Rhône, France: Dark purple-ruby in colour, the 2009 St-Joseph reveals lovely aromas of brambling plums, violets, and slightly peppery currants; switching to cherry compote, leather, and spice. Complex, retaining very fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an admirable, elegant hint of slightly brambling plums and cherry-violet compote on the finish. Youthful, balanced, and uncannily impressive. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2011)

 

89    $28.95 (#239053)     Vintages 9 July 2011 Release

 

Torbreck 2008 Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia: Opaque purple-ruby in colour, the 2008 Woodcutter’s Shiraz reveals intense, inviting aromas of toasted oak and fresh mocha; giving way to eucalyptus-infused currants, blueberries, violets, leather, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with forward sinewy fruit, supple tannins, mild acidity, and a lengthy hint of eucalyptus, figs, and plums on the finish. Heavily saturated, yet the whole concept seems to work rather well. Screwcap closure. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

89    $27.95 (#927533)     Vintages 8 January 2011 Release

 

Domaine Grand Veneur 2009 Les Champauvins, Côtes du Rhône-Villages AOC, Rhône, France: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2009 Les Champauvins reveals spritely, fruit-driven aromas of ripe plums, blueberries, kirsch, incense, lavender, and spice. Complex, boasting highly satisfying, rounder-style fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering hint of ripe plums, blueberries, and blackberries on the finish. Concentrated, full-flavoured Côtes du Rhône-Villages. 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre. Now-2017+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2011)

 

88++    $18.95 (#76331)     Vintages 15 October 2011 Release

 

Thorn-Clarke 2010 Shotfire Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia: Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, the 2010 Shotfire Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz is finely toasted, offering potent aromas of blackberry compote, plums, eucalyptus, mint, and a hint of purple fruits, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting powerful, flavourful fruit, firm yet supple tannins, mild acidity, and a lengthy hint of thick plummy blackberries on the finish. Saturated, endearing, and long-lasting. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon and 44% Shiraz. Screwcap closure. Now-2019. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

88++    $24.95 (#296582)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Finca Amalia 2005 Reserva, Rioja DOCa, Spain: Dark ruby in colour, the 2005 Reserva is finely toasted, exhibiting attractive notes of cherries (slightly baked), plums, moderate coconut, and a hint of dates, mocha, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of plums and figs on the finish. Delightful sinewy elements and balance. Tempranillo and Garnacha. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

88+    $19.95 (#194738)     Vintages 8 January 2011 Release

 

Casas del Bosque 2007 Gran Reserva Syrah, Casablanca Valley, Chile: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2007 Gran Reserva Syrah displays textbook notes of plummy currants, leather, white pepper, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with firm tannins, milder acidity, and a solid, satisfying hint of peppery plums on the finish. Well-built, balanced, and easy to enjoy. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2009)

 

88+    $23.95 (Private Order)     Kylix Wines

 

Château Haut-Badette 2006, St-Emilion Grand Cru AOC, Bordeaux, France: Dark red-garnet in colour, the 2006 Haut-Badette seems to be maturing very fast, displaying attractive aromas of cedar-infused plums, dried cherries (slightly earthy), wild game, and a hint of savoury cigarbox and spice. Complex, with fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant hint of cedary red fruits on the finish. Lovely approachability and roundness; but drink fast. The vineyard is planted to 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2011)

 

88+    $29.00 (#246934)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Haywood 2006 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California: Dark ruby in colour, the 2006 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel is finely toasted, offering distinctive notes of cherry compote that quickly switches to plums, red currants, raisined fruits, and plenty of vanilla and spice. On the palate: appealing juicier-styled fruit showing, with fine tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of cherries and figs on the finish. Full-bodied, tasty, and easy to enjoy; for the short term. Now-2014+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

88+    $29.95 (#949255)     Vintages 30 October 2010 Release

 

François Lurton 2006 Gran Lurton Cabernet Sauvignon, Uco Valley (Mendoza), Argentina: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2006 Gran Lurton Cabernet Sauvignon is finely toasted, presenting amenable notes of dark currants, red plums, ‘blackened’ violets, leather, scorched earth, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: good, tight fruit showing, with firm tannins, slightly milder acidity, and a lovely hint of currants on the finish. Delightful structure, balance, and medium-term keeping power. Also contains 15% Malbec. Now-2014. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2009)

 

88+    $24.95 (#980334)     Vintages 6 November 2009 Release

 

Antoine Moueix 2007, St-Emilion Grand Cru AOC, Bordeaux, France: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2007 Antoine Moueix is lightly toasted, revealing fairly developed notes of red fruits, blackberries, wild game, earth, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: good accessible fruit showing, with fine tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of red fruits (plus a trace of cedarwood) on the finish. Nicely crafted, fast-maturing claret; for early drinking. 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Now-2014+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2010)

 

88+    $27.95 (Private Order)     Select Wines & Spirits

 

7 Deadly Zins 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California: Opaque purple in colour, the 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel is finely toasted, detailing engaging notes of baked dark mocha, leathery currants, plums, scorched earth, and a hint of savoury herbs, incense, vanilla, and spice. Reasonably complex, boasting fine forward fruit, firm yet accessible tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering hint of baked leathery plums on the finish. Open and appealing. Now-2014+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

88+    $24.95 (#59311)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Vignamaggio 2009 Terre di Prenzano, Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Dark ruby in colour, the 2009 Terre di Prenzano offers delightful notes of wild cherries, plums, licorice, and a hint of herbs, black tea, and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lovely hint of wild plums on the finish. Fresh, balanced, and finely crafted. Their website suggests 100% Sangiovese. Now-2015+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

88+    $17.95 (#164822)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Château de Beaucastel 2008 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Côtes du Rhône AOC, Rhône, France: Dark ruby in colour, the 2008 Coudoulet de Beaucastel reveals Provençal herb-driven notes of red fruits, blackberries, deli meats, leather, and spice. On the palate: very good fruit showing, with fairly firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of lavender and red fruits on the finish. Lovely effort and balance, though not of the same calibre as other vintages I’ve examined—overpriced in this market. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

88    $29.95 (#48884)     Vintages 30 October 2010 Release

 

Domaine Boudau 2009 Le Clos, Côtes de Roussillon AOC, Midi, France: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2009 Le Clos reveals outgoing notes of baked plums and blueberries; switching to violets, leather, and a hint of Provençal herbs and spice. Palate: fine forward fruit showing, with firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a splendid hint of plummy blueberries and incense on the finish. Very tasty and appealing. 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. Now-2015+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2011)

 

88    $16.95 (#149989)     Vintages 9 July 2011 Release

 

Domaine Cazes 2007 Alter de Cazes, Côte du Roussillon Villages AOC, Midi, France: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2007 Alter de Cazes is lightly toasted, with delightful notes of dark leathery blackberries and plums, black cherries, herbal elements, and spice. On the palate: very good fruit on display, with firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering hint of black plums and red fruit traces on the finish. Nicely done. 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 30% Mourvèdre. Now-2014+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2010)

 

88    $24.95 (Private Order)     Select Wines & Spirits

 

Concha y Toro 2007 Maycas del Limarí Reserva Syrah, Limarí Valley, Chile: Dark purple-ruby in colour, the 2007 Maycas del Limarí Reserva Syrah features lovely notes of light mocha at the outset; making way for ‘purple’ plums, currants, scorched earth, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with firm tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of dark leathery ‘purple’ plums on the finish. Very fine structure and power. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2009)

 

88    $16.95 (Private Order)     Select Wine Merchants

 

DeLoach 2008 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley (Sonoma County), California: Medium-dark ruby in colour, the 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir displays lovely notes of cherried red plums, strawberries, licorice, and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with soft tannins, milder acidity, high alcohol (14.5%), and a hint of cherries on the finish. Appealing, tasty North American style. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

88    $28.95 (#119024)     Vintages 27 November 2010 Release

 

Cave Saint Desirat 2007, St-Joseph AOC, Rhône, France: Dark ruby in colour, the 2007 Cave Saint Desirat reveals lovely notes of fresh currants and white pepper; giving way to brambleberries, plums, and a hint of saddle leather and spice. On the palate: sound fruit showing, with fine tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of currants and white pepper on the finish. Not showy, still of fine quality and balance. Now-2014+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, March 2011)

 

88    $19.95 (#219378)     Vintages 30 April 2011 Release

 

Elderton 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa, South Australia, Australia: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is finely toasted, displaying intense notes of roasted/cedary eucalyptus and plums; switching to mocha, currants, leather, grilled herbs, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with fine forward fruit, fairly firm tannins, mild acidity, and a lingering hint of cedar-laced eucalyptus and plums on the finish. Nicely executed, though maturing quickly. Now-2014. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

88    $29.95 (#9175)     Vintages 27 November 2010 Release

 

Ben Glaetzer 2008 Heartland Cabernet Sauvignon, Langhorne Creek/Limestone Coast, South Australia, Australia: Extremely dense ruby-red currant in colour, the 2008 Heartland Cabernet Sauvignon is finely toasted, with intense notes of eucalyptus and red fruits; switching to currants, plums, mint, spicebox, and vanillin. Complex, with very supple forward fruit and tannins, mild acidity, and a long hint of currants and eucalyptus on the finish. Powerful, softly textured, and lengthy. Screwcap closure. Now-2016. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

88    $19.95 (#58099)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Lammershoek 2007 Pinotage, Swartland WO, South Africa: Opaque ruby in colour, the 2007 Pinotage offers intense notes of ‘rustic’ black mocha and toasted oak; making way for plums, currants, leather, stewed violets (if such a thing was possible), vanilla, and spice. Complex, with fine fruit, firm yet well-integrated tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of black plums and roasted coffee beans on the finish. Lovely individualism, flavour, and balance. Now-2016. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

88    $18.95 (#954594)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Poole’s Rock 2006 Cockfighter’s Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon, Langhorne Creek, South Australia, Australia: Opaque garnet in colour, the 2006 Cockfighter’s Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon is intensely cedary, with accompanying notes of baked currants and eucalyptus; switching to tobacco, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: supple fruit and tannins showing, with mild acidity, and a hint of cedary plums on the finish. Aging fast, yet nicely assembled and forgivably mellow. Screwcap closure. Now-2013+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

88    $21.95 (#672550)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Silvern 2010 Greenock Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia: Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, the 2010 Greenock Shiraz displays ‘brooding’ notes of leathery blackberries, currants, dried blueberries, eucalyptus, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with flavourful forward fruit, supple tannins, mild acidity, and a lasting hint of black plums and eucalyptus on the finish. Powerful, polished, and appealing. Screwcap closure. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

88    $16.95 (#289959)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Tawse 2008 Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada: Dark ruby in colour, the 2008 Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc reveals lovely notes of floral berries, red plums, and a hint of green pepper (not overbearing) and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of floral plums on the finish. Definitely not the equivalent of the outstanding ’07, still respectably crafted. Now-2011++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

88    $29.95 (Private Order)     Tawse Winery

 

Volpaia 2008, Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Dark ruby in colour, the 2008 Chianti Classico offers lovely notes of fragrant cherries, red plums, crushed flowers, graphite, and a hint of cedarwood and spice. Complex, possessing very good fruit, fine tannins, balanced acidity, and a delightful hint of fresh cherries on the finish. Admirable focus and balance. Typically 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot/Syrah. Now-2015+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2011)

 

88    $21.95 (#953828)     Vintages 15 October 2011 Release

 

Buil & Giné 2007 Giné Giné, Priorat DOCa, Spain: Dark ruby in colour, the 2007 Giné Giné is finely toasted, with baked, slightly funky (not unattractive) notes of dark raspberries and plums; switching to leather, thyme, and a hint of white pepper, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: lovely accessible fruit and tannins showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of dark raspberries and plums on the finish. Appealing and balanced. 50% Garnacha and 50% Cariñena. Screwcap closure. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

87++    $17.95 (#67843)     Vintages 22 January 2011 Release

 

Hedges Cellars 2008 CMS, Columbia Valley, Washington State, USA: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2008 CMS is finely toasted, delivering ‘dusty’ notes of violet currants, plums, cherries, leather, cocoa beans, incense, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with good fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of plummy currants and dried blueberries on the finish. Fresh, sturdy, and very tasty. 48% Merlot, 465 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Syrah. Now-2014++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

87++    $17.95 (#948992)     Vintages 30 October 2010 Release

 

Howling Moon 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California: Dark ruby in colour, the 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel is heavily toasted, boasting notes of baked mocha and plums; switching to sweet leathery blueberries, granola, incense, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: tasty forward fruit showing, with approachable tannins, milder acidity, and a lasting hint of baked plums and granola on the finish. Flavourful, acceptably balanced, and notably American oak-driven. Now-2013+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87++    $18.95 (#57356)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Pirramimma 2006 Katunga Grenache/Tannat/Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia: Dark-opaque red currant in colour, the 2006 Katunga Grenache/Tannat/Shiraz is lightly toasted, offering semi-baked notes of cedar-infused eucalyptus and plums; switching to currants, berries, leather, scorched earth, and spice. Reasonably complex, with good forward fruit, approachable tannins, mild acidity, and a lasting hint of baked eucalyptus and plums on the finish. Interesting, fairly fruity blend. Screwcap closure. Now-2014+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

87++    $23.95 (#203174)     Vintages 22 January 2011 Release

 

Torres 2006 Celeste, Ribera del Duero DO, Spain: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2006 Celeste is finely toasted, with appealing notes of mocha and baked plums; switching to sweet currants, coconut, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: good forward fruit showing, with firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of baked coconut-infused mocha and plums on the finish. Flavourful, outgoing style, with plenty of American oak. 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo). Now-2014. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87++    $19.95 (#672691)     Vintages 4 September 2010 Release

 

Villa Trasqua 2008, Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Medium-dark ruby-red currant in colour, the 2008 Chianti Classico reveals pleasant, straightforward notes of wild cherries and red plums; switching to fresh herbs, cedarwood, underbrush, and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with approachable tannins, balanced acidity, and a solid hint of wild cherries and herbs on the finish. Decent freshness, balance, and gentle flavouring. 95% Sangiovese, the rest Colorino and Malvasia Nera. Now-2015+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

87++    $17.95 (#121160)     Vintages 4 February 2012 Release

 

Terre D’Alter 2009 Aragonês, VR Alentejano, Portugal: Opaque ruby in colour, the 2009 Aragonês (the same grape as Tempranillo) is finely toasted, with engaging notes of ripe plummy strawberries, mocha, wild flowers, meaty elements, vanilla, and spice. Palate: good fruit showing, with firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering hint of concentrated black fruits (a little wild) on the finish. Full-bodied, balanced, and tasty. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

87+    $14.95 (#292045)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

L’Excellence du Château Blandinières 2006, Cahors AOC, Southwest, France: Opaque ruby in colour, the 2006 l’Excellence du Château Blandinières reveals reserved notes of currants, ‘dusty’ blackberries, dark leather, and a trace of asphalt and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a neat hint of black plums on the finish. Solid, fresh Cahors. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2012)

 

87+    $16.95 (#264671)     Vintages 4 February 2012 Release

 

Maipo 2008 Reserva Syrah, Maipo Valley, Chile: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2008 Reserva Syrah offers notes of toasted-oak driven mocha and plums; switching to leather, violets, scorched earth, vanilla, and spice. Palate: tasty smooth fruit showing, with firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering hint of plummy currants on the finish. Forward and balanced. Screwcap closure. Now-2011. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2009)

 

87+    $13.95 (Private Order)     Select Wine Merchants

 

Navajas 2005 Reserva, Rioja DOCa, Spain: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2005 Reserva displays American-oak driven notes of milk chocolate, cherries, plums, granola, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering hint of toasted American oak on the finish. Assertive style, yet certainly tasty enough. Now-2014+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, March 2011)

 

87+    $16.95 (#194811)     Vintages 5 March 2011 Release

 

Vinos Sin-Ley 2008 Traza Gra 2 Graciano, Rioja DOCa, Spain: Dark-opaque purple-ruby in colour, the 2008 Traza Gra 2 reveals abundant notes of baked currants and raspberries; giving way to leather, seaweed, damson, and spice. On the palate: appealing round showing, with near-firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering hint of raspberried plums and damson on the finish. Solid and tasty. 100% Graciano. Now-2013+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

87+    $16.95 (#190819)     Vintages 22 January 2011 Release

 

Tabalí 2008 Reserva Carmenère, Limarí Valley, Chile: Opaque purple-ruby in colour, the 2008 Reserva Carmenère is finely toasted, with appealing notes of mocha and currants; switching to blackberries, plums, coffee beans, and a streak of green pepper, vanilla, and spice. Palate: fairly smooth fruit showing, with firm tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of currants on the finish. Sturdy and tasty. Now-2012+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

87+    $14.95 (#44008)     Vintages 22 January 2011 Release

 

Tamburlaine 2008 Shiraz/Cabernet, Orange, New South Wales, Australia: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2008 Shiraz/Cabernet reveals intense black peppery plums, currants, raspberries, roasted meats, and spice. On the palate: lovely peppery fruit showing, with approachable tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of berries (unsurprisingly peppery) on the finish. Lean, fresh, and balanced; though the style will not appeal to all. Screwcap closure. Now-2012+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87+    $16.95 (#178699)     Vintages 4 September 2010 Release

 

Domaine des Ailes 2009, Moulin-à-Vent AOC, Beaujolais, France: Dark purple in colour, the 2009 Moulin-à-Vent displays archetypal bubblegum-driven notes of plums, dried violets, bonbons, and a hint of damson and spice. On the palate: decent fruit showing, with accessible tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of damson-laced plums on the finish. Solid, balanced, and tasty. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

87    $15.95 (#183442)     Vintages 27 November 2010 Release

 

Parés Baltà 2008 Mas Petit Garnatxa/Cabernet, Penedès DO, Spain: Dark ruby in colour, the 2008 Mas Petit Garnatxa/Cabernet reveals raspberried plums, cherries, and a hint of leather and spice. Palate: nice fruit showing, with accessible tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of juicy raspberries and plums on the finish. Fruity and fresh. 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Garnacha. Now-2012+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

87    $13.95 (#114264)     Vintages 8 January 2011 Release

 

Chakana 2009 Reserva Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina: Opaque purple-ruby in colour, the 2009 Reserva Malbec is moderately toasted, sporting notes of black currants, plums, violets, mild mocha, tar, and a hint of vanilla and spice. Palate: tasty forward fruit showing, with firm tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of currants on the finish. Pleasing and balanced. Now-2014. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, March 2010)

 

87    $14.95 (#18671)     Vintages 30 April 2011 Release

 

Viña Chocalán 2007 Reserva Syrah, Maipo Valley, Chile: Opaque purple in colour, the 2007 Reserva Syrah is heavily toasted, displaying notes of ‘purple’ cassis, currants, plums, leathery white pepper, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: tasty forward fruit showing, with firm tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of baked ‘purple’ currants on the finish. Hearty, full-bodied, and standardized. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87    $14.95 (#38513)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Luis Felipe Edwards 2007 Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Dark ruby in colour, the 2007 Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon is noticeably toasted, with notes of red currants, plums, berries, and a hint of vanilla and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with firm tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of red currants on the finish. Satisfactory, balanced outing. Now-2012+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

87    $16.95 (#169847)     Vintages 30 October 2010 Release

 

Luis Felipe Edwards 2008 Reserva Shiraz, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Dark ruby in colour, the 2007 Reserva Shiraz reveals moderate toasted oak, red plums, dark strawberry jam, and spice. Palate: decent fruit showing, with approachable tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of red plums and jammy strawberries on the finish. Basic yet fairly tasty; crafted to mimic the generic Aussie style? Now-2011. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, August 2009)

 

87    $12.95 (Private Order)     Noble Estates Wines & Spirits

 

Château Famaey 2008 Tradition, Cahors AOC, Southwest, France: Opaque purple in colour, the 2008 Tradition is lightly toasted, providing notes of dark ‘purple’ currants and plums; switching to blackberries, leathery nuances, and spice. On the palate: good tight fruit showing, with very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and hint of blackberries on the finish. Lean, standard, ageworthy Cahors. Typically 100% Malbec. Now-2014++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87    $12.95 (#177212)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

O. Fournier 2011 Urban Uco Malbec, Uco Valley (Mendoza), Argentina: Opaque ruby in colour, the 2011 Urban Uco Malbec reveals notes of plums and mildly ‘forested’ black fruits, plus a hint of pepper and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with firm tannins, milder acidity, and a decent hint of plums on the finish. Fresh, balanced, and tasty. Now-2015+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

87    $14.95 (#166371)     Vintages 5 January 2013 Release

 

Montaribaldi 2008 Tre Stelle, Langhe DOC, Piedmont, Italy: Dark ruby in colour, the 2008 Tre Stelle (a tad closed when examined), offers subtle hints of plummy cherries, red currants, herbs, and spice. Palate: solid fruit showing, with fine tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of red plums on the finish. Appropriate and fresh. Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto. Now-2012+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

87    $14.95 (#192435)     Vintages 8 January 2011 Release

 

Montes 2008 Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenère, Apalta Vineyard (Colchagua Valley), Chile: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2008 Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenère displays ‘rugged’ notes of earthy black plums, mild bell pepper, vanilla, and spice. Palate: good tasty fruit showing, with firm tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of ‘dusty’ currants on the finish. Nice density and overall flavour. Now-2012+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

87    $14.95 (#16071)     Vintages 8 January 2011 Release

 

Mount Langi Ghiran 2005 Billi Billi Shiraz, Victoria, Australia: Opaque red currant in colour, the 2005 Billi Billi Shiraz reveals notes of cedar-laced mocha, currants, eucalyptus, wild game, lavender, and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with supple tannins, mild acidity, and a hint of plums, eucalyptus, and cedarwood on the finish. Nice and fruity. Screwcap closure. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87    $16.95 (#719575)     Vintages 4 September 2010 Release

 

Domaine des Pentelines 2008, Côtes du Rhône-Villages AOC, Rhône, France: Dark ruby in colour, the 2008 Côtes du Rhône-Villages displays notes of leathery currants and plums, shortbread, herbs, and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with fine tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of leathery plums on the finish. Fruity and accessible. Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah. Now-2011+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87    $12.95 (#175679)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

La Posta 2008 Pizzella Family Vineyard Malbec, Uco Valley (Mendoza), Argentina: Opaque purple in colour, the 2008 Pizzella Family Vineyard Malbec is moderately toasted, displaying notes of currants, plums, violets, and a hint of white pepper and spice. Palate: good fruit showing, with firm yet accessible tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of currants on the finish. Integrated and fresh. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

87    $15.00 (#166298)     Vintages 8 January 2011 Release

 

Rustenberg 2007 Brampton Shiraz, Coastal Region WO, South Africa: Opaque ruby in colour, the 2007 Brampton Shiraz displays slightly ‘rustic’ plums, currants, roasted coffee beans, and a hint of violets, vanilla, and spice. On the palate: neat fruit showing, with near-firm tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of peppery plums on the finish. Reasonably sturdy and fresh. Screwcap closure. Now-2012+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87    $15.95 (#674523)     Vintages 4 September 2010 Release

 

Skuttlebutt 2007 Shiraz/Cabernet, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia: Opaque ruby in colour, the 2007 Shiraz/Cabernet is lightly toasted, displaying restrained notes of currants, plums, eucalyptus, white pepper, and spice. Palate: good fruit showing, with firm tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of black plums (laced with a speck of cedarwood) on the finish. Solid structure and flavour. Screwcap closure. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87    $15.95 (#58131)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Thorn-Clarke 2008 Terras Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa, South Australia, Australia: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2008 Terra Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon is nicely toasted, displaying red currants and eucalyptus; giving way to plums, mild leather, mint, vanilla, and spice. Palate: approachable, juicier-styled fruit showing, with soft tannins, mild acidity, and a hint of eucalyptus and red currants on the finish. Good fruitiness and balance. Screwcap closure. Now-2014. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

87    $14.95 (#203158)     Vintages 8 January 2011 Release

 

Zenato 2008, Valpolicella Superiore DOC, Veneto, Italy: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2008 Valpolicella Superiore is very mildly toasted, revealing notes of dark earthy/savoury plums, wild cherries, and a hint of cedarwood and spice. On the palate: good fruit showing, with fine tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of wild cherries and plums on the finish. Notable balance and accessibility. Typically 80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, and 10% Sangiovese. Now-2012+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87    $15.00 (#995704)     Vintages 4 September 2010 Release

 

Tenuta Il Corno 2007, Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Dark red currant in colour, the 2007 Chianti Colli Fiorentini displays cedary/savoury notes of dried red plums, white peppery cherries, and spice. On the palate: approachable fruit and tannins showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of cedary plums on the finish. Basic, straightforward Chianti; nice and fresh. Sangiovese, Colorino, and Canaiolo. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

86++    $14.95 (#123752)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Gemma 2009 Madonna della Neve, Dolcetto d’Alba DOC, Piedmont, Italy: Dark purple in colour, the 2009 Madonna della Neve offers wild plums and blackberries; matched by a few herbs and spice. Palate: good fruit showing, with fine tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of wild plums on the finish. Nice, balanced, and entirely uncomplicated. Now-2011+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

86++    $13.95 (#185017)     Vintages 27 November 2010 Release

 

Château St-Maurice 2007 Les Grès, Côtes du Rhône-Villages Laudun AOC, Rhône, France: Dark ruby in colour, the 2007 Les Grès is very lightly toasted, with notes of baked red plums, wild cherries, white pepper, and a hint of cedarwood and spice. Palate: good fruit showing, with near-firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of baked red plums on the finish. Tasty and balanced. Now-2012+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

86++    $14.95 (#177576)     Vintages 4 September 2010 Release

 

Terres d’Avignon 2007 Réserve des Armoiries, Côtes du Rhône AOC, Rhône, France: Dark ruby in colour, the 2007 Réserve des Armoiries offers red plums accompanied by baked dark cranberries, earth elements, and spice. Palate: nice fruit showing, with approachable tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of red plums on the finish. Decent basic Rhône. Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Carignan. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

86    $12.95 (#175653)     Vintages 4 September 2010 Release

 

Casal Da Coelheira 2008 Tinto, Ribatejo DOC, Portugal: Dark ruby in colour, the 2008 Tinto displays plums, lightly toasted oak (a little sweet), and a hint of herbs and spice. Palate: juicy fruit showing, with soft tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of ‘fleshy’ plums on the finish. Basic, crowd-pleasing bottling. Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, and Touriga Franca. Now-2011. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

86    $12.95 (#168831)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Château La Grave 2008 Tristan & Julien, Minervois AOC, Midi, France: Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the 2008 Tristan & Julien reveals baked currants and plums; switching to stewed berries, some leather, and spice. Palate: juicy forward fruit showing, with approachable tannins, balanced acidity, and a hint of baked plummy currants on the finish. Tasty and uncomplicated. Grenache and Syrah. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

86    $12.95 (#170373)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Los Rosales 2008 Chapel Vineyard Reserva Carmenère, Rapel Valley, Chile: Opaque purple-ruby in colour, the 2008 Reserva Carmenère is heavily toasted, with moderate violet currants/blackberries, purple plums, vanilla, and spice. Palate: tasty forward fruit showing, with approachable tannins, milder acidity, and a hint of purple plums on the finish. Soft, tasty, and very simple. Now-2011+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

86    $12.95 (#169490)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Sparkling Wine:

André Clouet NV Cuvée 1911 Brut, Champagne, France: Sourced from the best plots of the house and hailing from three different vintages, the Cuvée 1911 is a particularly stellar, distinctive conception. Light golden-straw in colour, it features amazing scents of French toast/brioche, hazelnuts (slightly honeyed), lemon, sugar powder, ginger, tree bark, and exotic spices. Complex, delivering excellent frothy fruit, balanced acidity, and an impeccable, well-evolved hint of brioche, lemon, and nutted elements on the finish. Superbly balanced, well-structured, and harmonious. 100% Pinot Noir. Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91++    $95.00 (Private Order)     Groupe Soleil

 

André Clouet NV Brut Rosé, Champagne, France: Tasted alongside several other wines from this well-regarded small grower, the André Clouet NV Rosé is a delicate, upbeat champagne. Light pink in colour, it displays beautifully subtle scents of pink cherries, ruby-red grapefruit, yeasty biscuits, wild flowers, lemon, and spice. Complex, retaining crisp, agile fruit, balanced acidity, and a great hint of yeasty biscuits and ruby-red grapefruit on the finish. Stylish, elegant, with a trace of the exotic about it. 100% Pinot Noir. Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

91    $59.95 (Private Order)     Groupe Soleil

 

Laherte Frères NV Les 7 Brut Extra, Champagne, France: Grower’s champagne incarnate, the NV Les Clos is all originality and qualitative fascination. Pale straw-lime in colour, it offers intriguing scents of biscuits, green fruits, lemon, herbs, white flowers, minerals, and spice. Complex, with very fine fruit, balanced acidity, and a stylish, contemplative hint of green fruits and lemony/herbal overtures on the finish. Beautiful uniqueness, balance, and grace. 18% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Meunier, 17% Pinot Blanc, 15% Petit Meslier, 14% Pinot Noir, 10% Fromenteau, and 8% Arbanne. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

90+    $78.00 (Private Order)     Groupe Soleil

 

Bérêche NV Réserve Brut, Champagne, France: My only note from this small-scale grower, the NV Réserve makes me glad to have finally tasted something from the Bérêche arsenal. Pale straw in colour, it revels more fruit-driven scents of yeasty biscuits, yellow pears, ginger, white flowers, lemon, cream, and spice. Complex, possessing round frothy fruit, balanced acidity, and a beautiful hint of lemon citrus on the finish. Marvellous correctness, approachability, and balance. 35% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Meunier, and 30% Pinot Noir. Now-2015+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

90    $49.95 (Private Order)     Groupe Soleil

 

André Clouet NV Silver Brut Nature, Champagne, France: While I have never been a fan of the bone-dry approach, the NV Silver Brut Nature makes a strong case for opinionative revision. Pale straw in colour, it is intensely yeasty, with inviting scents of brioche (a little meaty), lemon, ginger, buttercups, and a hint of green fruits and spice. Complex, with exceptionally crisp, dry frothy fruit, balanced acidity, and a lifted, pick-me-up hint of lemony biscuits on the finish. Positively lively, balanced, and stylish. 100% Pinot Noir. Now-2016. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

90    $49.95 (Private Order)     Groupe Soleil

 

Roederer Estate NV Brut, Anderson Valley, California: Pale-light straw-lime in colour, the consistently impressive Roederer NV Brut is surprisingly delicate, displaying lovely, subtle scents of fresh biscuits and lemon; switching to white grapefruit, ginger, mineral elements, and spice. Complex, featuring very fine fruit, balanced acidity, and a delightful hint of biscuits and lemon citrus on the finish. Not as assertive as previous batches I’ve tasted, still one of the best bubbling bets in California. Roughly 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. Now-2013+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2010)

 

89+    $27.95 (#294181)     Vintages 9 July 2011 Release

 

Louis Bouillot NV Perle d’Aurore Brut Rosé, Crémant de Bourgogne AOC, Burgundy, France: Pale-light pink-salmon in colour, the NV Perle d’Aurore reveals lovely notes of dried red grapefruit, cranberried cherries, and a hint of herbs and spice. On the palate: good crisp fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of red grapefruit and dried cherries on the finish. Satisfying, balanced, and generally well-assembled. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, June 2010)

 

87++    $18.95 (#48793)     Vintages 9 July 2011 Release

 

Bernard-Massard NV Cuvée de l’Écusson Brut, Luxembourg: Pale straw in colour, the NV Cuvée de l’Écusson displays pleasant, slightly ‘muted’ notes of baked lemon, green apples, cream crackers, and a hint of candlewax and spice. On the palate: good crisp fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of lemon and dried pears on the finish. Nice balance and crispness. Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Noir. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

87    $16.95 (#970970)     Vintages 21 August 2010 Release

 

Fortified Wine:

Domaine Cazes 1978 Cuvée Aimé Cazes, Rivesaltes AOC, Midi, France: One of few notes I’ve been able to collect on old Rivesaltes over the years, the 1978 Cuvée Aimee Cazes has reached a stage of exciting, easygoing mellowness and grace. Medium maple-orange in colour, it delivers intense aromas of dried red and black fruits, maple amber, brown sugar, almonds, dried caramel, toffee, and a hint of white pepper and spice. Complex, carrying extremely beautiful ‘fortified’ fruit, fully integrated tannins, balanced acidity, and a lengthy hint of dried sweet fruits and almonds on the finish. Exceptional polish, elegance, and length. 80% Grenache Blanc and 20% Grenache Noir. Now-2035++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2010)

 

92++    $154.95 (Private Order)     Select Wines & Spirits

 

Dessert Wine:

Kracher 2007 Cuvée Beerenauslese, Burgenland, Austria (375 mL): Representing astonishing value for money, the 2007 Cuvée Beerenauslese emphatically illustrates the enormous talents of winemaker/proprietor Alois Kracher. Pale-light golden-yellow in colour, the wine exhibits beautiful, stylish scents of sweet yellow plums, lemon blossom, brioche, melon, and spice. Complex, featuring incredible, superbly inlaid ‘sticky’ fruit, balanced acidity, and an elegant, lingering hint of lemon blossom and melon on the finish. Marvellous execution, balance, and character. 60% Welschriesling and 40% Chardonnay. Now-2022+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2010)

 

91    $18.65 (#209668)     Vintages 14 May 2011 Release

 

Lenz Moser 2007 Prestige Trockenbeerenauslese, Burgenland, Austria (375 mL): Light yellow-gold in colour, the 2007 Prestige Trockenbeerenauslese is intensely nutted at the outset, revealing lovely scents of marmalade, ripe apricots, brioche, orange blossom, and a hint of spice. Complex, with splendid sweet fruit, balanced acidity, and a lingering hint of nutted lemon blossom and marmalade on the finish. Very satisfying, if not a tad one-dimensional; though my score might be little low. Now-2018++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, July 2010)

 

88    $18.95 (#729657)     Vintages 4 September 2010 Release

 

FEATURED LAST MONTH

Wine education for us all -- The ABCs of IGTs (Saturday 8 December 2012)

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     When the Italian DOC/DOCG system was first established in 1963, it didn’t take long for its many flaws to come to the fore. Above else, it failed to anticipate the radical changes Italian winemaking would take in terms of overall quality in the impending decades.

     Let’s put it another way: though it may come as a surprise to some, with very few exceptions the wines of Italy in the 1960s weren’t all that impressive. Chianti was a weak, albeit passable concoction made of red and white grapes; Barolo was excessively tannic and unapproachable for the first two decades of its existence; and few people had ever even heard of Brunello di Montalcino or Amarone della Valpolicella. In short, the wines that Italy is most famous for today were not long ago either poorly made or barely known outside of the regions they came from.

     Worst of all, the rigid regulations governing the production of such wines as Chianti Classico prevented producers from experimenting with better methods of winegrowing. By law, wines like Chianti Classico were obliged in the 1960s to contain at least 10-30% Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca; permitted yields were a ridiculously high 80 hl/ha; and no percentage of French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot were allowed.

     Cue the Antinori family and the debut of Tignanello of 1970. Though crafted from grapes grown within the Chianti Classico denominazione, the wine could not be labeled as such because it did not follow the traditional varietal formula. The wine was 100% Sangiovese and matured in French oak barrels (Piero Antinori began adding a little Cabernet Sauvignon in 1975). As such, the wine could only be labelled as Vino di Tavola, the lowest possible ranking for Italian wines. But a bottle of Tignanello sold for more than most Italian wines. Overnight, the imperfections of the DOC/DOCG system were clear.

     Even worse, it took over twenty years for a partial solution to be reached. In 1992, a new classification was put in place alongside the DOC/DOCG system: the Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) system. Though not without its limitations, ‘Super Tuscans’ such as Tignanello were finally no longer obliged to be labeled as Vino di Tavola, but as IGT Toscana.

     Fast forward to 2012 and the IGT system has become almost as ubiquitous as its DOC/DOCG counterpart. For wine lovers nowadays, the most important thing to understand about the IGT system is that it is only used for wines that do not adhere to the traditional grape/winegrowing requirements as prescribed under the DOC/DOCG system. But it is not an extra guarantee of quality! Though there are plenty of premium Super Tuscans made by winemakers throughout Tuscany and other parts of Italy, the vast majority of IGT wines are fairly simple and straightforward, relatively inexpensive, and should not be confused with wines like Tignanello and Solaia (Antinori), Oreno (Sette Ponti), or Saffredi (Pupille)—a few personal favourites.

     Just as important, the IGT system should not be confused with wines formerly labelled as Vino di Tavola but now have their own specific DOC/DOCGs. The most significant example of this is Bolgheri DOC, where renowned estates such as Sassicaia, Ornellaia, and Le Macchiole are located. Though Sangiovese is permitted, most of these wines are made entirely from Bordeaux varietals, ranked among the best in Italy.

     These points notwithstanding, the IGT system is not very difficult to grasp. Like everything else about winegrowing Italy, all it takes is a little patience, a little studiousness, and a little tasting. The latter is the most rewarding...

A few gems for collectors:

White Wines:

Bouchard Père & Fils 2009, Puligny-Montrachet Grand Cru Chevalier-Montrachet AOC, Burgundy, France: With 2.33ha of vines, Bouchard Père & Fils is the largest custodian of Chevalier-Montrachet; and if the monumental ’09 is anything to go by, this substantial ownership is well-earned. Pale lime in colour, this near-masterpiece starts off with stunning, almost ‘icy’ scents of pears and quince; shortly giving way to delicate hazelnuts, lemon/lime citrus, white flowers, minerals, and traces of orange zest—all immaculately multilayered and elegant. Superbly complex, delivering fantastic fruit, balanced acidity, and a magnificent, poignant hint of pears, hazelnuts, and quince on the finish. Sensational pedigree, focus, and design. One of the best white Burgundies I have yet to taste in my still-fledgling career. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2011)

 

96    $299.00 (#14969)     Vintages May 2012 Classics Collection

 

Bouchard Père & Fils 2009, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru AOC, Burgundy, France: When in youth, Corton-Charlemagne is one of the toughest white Burgundies to examine; though this does not mean a good estimation of its worth isn’t possible. Take the 2009 Bouchard Père & Fils: pale lime in colour, this beauty offers exemplary scents of minerally pears and quince, green apples, sherbet, and a heavenly hint of smoke and nuts. Very complex, retaining superlative, personified fruit, balanced acidity, and an extremely elegant, ‘compact’ hint of pears and nutted quince on the finish. Tight as a drum, a thorough decanting ought to make this gem immensely enjoyable even at such a young age. Now-2025+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2011)

 

93+    $175.00 (Private Order)     Woodman Wines & Spirits

 

Philippe Colin 2008, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Chaumées AOC, Burgundy, France: For technocrats, the Les Chaumées vineyard is located north of the famed Clos St-Jean site, bordering the St-Aubin commune. Light greenish-lime in colour, the gleaming 2008 Philippe Colin is finely toasted, exhibiting impeccable, confident scents of pears and alternate green fruits; switching to lemon, caramel, hazelnuts, white flowers, and a hint of orange peel and vanilla. Very complex, wielding invigorating fruit, balanced acidity, and an elegant, persuasive hint of pears, green fruits, and lemony overtures on the finish. Wonderful lively white Burgundy. Now-2022+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92++    $69.95 (#299933)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Penfolds 2009 Yattarna Chardonnay, Southeast Australia, Australia: One of the most pristine vintages I’ve tasted to date, the 2009 Yattarna reflects a growing confidence in Tasmanian-sourced grapes. Pale-light lime in colour, the wine reveals substantially elegant, tempting scents of pears, quince, lemon-lime, minerals, hazelnuts, and a lovely trace of vanilla pods and white flowers. Complex, boasting excellent fruit, balanced acidity, and a crisp, soothing hint of pears and nutted lemony quince on the finish. Immensely refined, fulsome, and expressive—wonderful ‘icy’ attitude. Screwcap closure. Now-2020. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2012)

 

92+    $125.00 (#558643)     Vintages Special Offer

 

M. Chapoutier 2006 Chante-Alouette, Hermitage Blanc AOC, Rhône, France: Sourced from three different vineyards (including one actually named ‘Chante-Alouette’), the 2006 Chapoutier is one exceptional white Hermitage. Light golden-straw in colour, the wine displays enticing, individualistic scents of golden straw-infused pears (slightly nutted), nectarines, orange zest, almonds/marzipan, and the teensiest trace of iodine and spice. Complex, wielding compelling, invigorating fruit, balanced acidity, and a superbly elegant hint of nutted pears, nectarines, and golden straw on the finish. Excellent regional character, purity, and harmony. 100% Marsanne. Now-2022++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

92+    $74.00 (#140541)     Vintages October 2010 Classics Collection

 

Domaine des Sénéchaux 2009, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc AOC, Rhône, France: Purchased in 2006 by Jean-Michel Cazes of Château Lynch Bages, I hope to have many more notes from this fast-improving domaine in the coming years. Pale straw-lime in colour, the 2009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc boasts immensely engaging scents of lemon citrus and green fruits; switching to mild herbs, orange peel, chalky minerals, and a hint of anise and spice. Complex, retaining terrific fruit, vibrant acidity, and a wonderful hint of citrus oils and green fruits on the finish. Marvellous vitality, balance, and harmony. Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette, and Bourboulenc. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

92+    $69.95 (Private Order)     Lifford Wine Agency

 

Cakebread 2007 Reserve Chardonnay, Carneros (Napa Valley), California: Just about the best Chardonnay I’ve ever tasted from Cakebread, the 2007 Reserve is a class act. Pale-light straw-line in colour, the wine is decisively/deceptively delicate, presenting marvellous scents of pears, lemon citrus, green apples, caramel, minerals, and a hint of apricots and nuts. Complex, with really beautiful fruit, balanced acidity, surprisingly well-integrated alcohol (even at a whopping 14.8%), and an elegant, lasting hint of caramel, pears, and nutted toasted oak on the finish. Semi-Burgundian in style, with excellent refinement, balance, and breadth. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

92    $67.70 (Private Order)     America’s Wine Shop (USA)

 

Reichsrat von Buhl 2009 Riesling Spätlese, Forster Jesuitengarten QmP, Pfalz, Germany: From one of the greatest producers in Germany, the 2009 Forster Jesuitengarten-sourced Riesling Spätlese delivers everything it should—and more. Pale-light lime in colour, it reveals elegant, upbeat scents of floral white peaches, green grapes, white flowers (gently honeyed), lemon/lime, kerosene, minerals, and a hint of spice. Very complex, carrying extraordinary sweeter-styled fruit, balanced acidity, and a terrific hint of floral white peaches, green grapes, and kerosene on the finish. Immensely beautiful, balanced, and harmonious. Now-2022++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92    $24.95 (#946673)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Shafer 2010 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay, Carneros (Napa Valley), California: Despite logging in at a prodigious 14.9% alcohol, the appeal of the 2010 Red Shoulder Chardonnay is deliberately transparent. Light greenish-lime in colour, the wine reveals stellar scents of tropical pears, quince, apricots, lemon blossom, butterscotch, tangerines, and well-moderated vanillin. Complex, retaining exquisite full-bodied fruit, slightly milder acidity, and a lingering hint of pears, caramel, and toasted oak (a positive element in this case) on the finish. Delicious, balanced, and bold—great job. Now-2020. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92    $62.95 (#45583)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Castello della Sala 2010 Cervaro della Sala, IGT Umbria, Umbria, Italy: From Marchesi di Antinori’s highly regarded Umbrian outpost, the 2010 Cervaro della Sala, this time round crafted clearly in the cool-climate Californian mold (though only boasting 13% alcohol), nonetheless retains its own sense of flavour, elegance, and self. Light greenish-lime in colour, the wine sports intense, inviting scents of toasted oak, pears, green fruits, apricots, butterscotch, and a hint of orange zest and vanillin. Complex, with superb fruit, balanced acidity, and a soothing, almost ‘limpid’ hint of caramel and pears on the finish. Delicious, fulsome, and well-moderated. 90% Chardonnay and 10% Grechetto. Now-2020. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91+    $55.95 (#512376)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Ramey 2008 Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay, Carneros (Napa Valley), California: With the 2008 Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay, I’m clearly in error for not to have examined, to the best of my knowledge, any of David Ramey’s white wines before. Light straw-lime in colour, it displays superb scents of pears, lemon, citrus oils, dried quince/apricots, orange zest, and a hint of cream and nuts. Complex, featuring delicious, finely polished fruit, balanced acidity, and a really great hint of pears, citrus oils, and nuts on the finish. Terrific personality, balance, and style. Now-2018. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

91    $85.65 (Private Order)     Barrel Select

 

Cakebread 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California: One of the best ever Sauvignons I’ve ever tasted from this winery, the 2010 Cakebread is assuredly worth a peek. Very pale lime in colour, it features remarkably understated, even elegant scents of pears, lemon citrus, white flowers, chalk, and a subtle hint of green apples, herbs, and nuts. Complex, sporting superbly polished fruit, balanced acidity, and a delicate yet well-proportioned hint of pears on the finish. Great balance, restraint (despite carrying 14.1% alcohol), and gentle flavourings. Now-2016. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

90++    $39.95 (#707224)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Bouchard Père & Fils 2009, Meursault Les Clous AOC, Burgundy, France: Substantial vineyard located high up near the Montagne du Chatelet de Montmellian, Bouchard Père & Fils owns 8.64ha of this capable plot, almost half the total area. Pale lime in colour, the ’09 displays unquestionably beautiful scents of dried quince, pears, green apples, minerals, and nuts. Complex, wielding very fine, elegant fruit, balanced acidity, and a lovely hint of fresh lime-infused quince and green apples on the finish. Truly well done; superb single-vineyard character and balance. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2011)

 

90    $49.00 (Private Order)     Woodman Wines & Spirits

 

La Crema 2009 Chardonnay, Los Carneros, California: Tempting and forward, the 2009 Los Carneros Chardonnay represents another hit from this more-or-less consistent operation. Light greenish-lime in colour, the wine features abundant scents of melon-infused ripe pears, buttered toast, orange peel, apricots, and a hint of honeysuckle and nuts. Complex, carrying beautiful, expressive fruit, milder acidity, and a flavourful, well-defined hint of pears and buttered toast on the finish. Engaging, full-bodied, and delicious. Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

90    $39.95 (#184929)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Pewsey Vale 2011 Riesling, Eden Valley, South Australia, Australia: Pale-light lime in colour, winemaker Louisa Rose’s 2011 Riesling displays beautiful, delicate scents of lemon and lime; giving way to pineapple, dried white peaches, and just a hint of minerals. Complex, featuring fine, flavourful ‘Riesling’ fruit flavours, balanced acidity, and a splendid hint of lemon/lime and kerosene elements on the finish. Rounder in approach than anticipated, with delightful balance and grace. Screwcap closure. Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

89+    $19.95 (#686600)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Goldwater 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand: Very pale lime in colour, the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc offers distinct, potent scents of grassy gooseberries, white grapefruit and peaches, lemon, cat’s pee, and minerals. On the palate: vibrant zesty fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a very lovely hint of pure gooseberries on the finish. Nervy, balanced, and unquestionably impressive. Screwcap closure. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

89    $19.95 (#295261)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Domaine Franck Millet 2011, Sancerre AOC, Loire, France: Elegant and easygoing, the 2011 Sancerre is a swell choice for short-term enjoyment. Pale lime in colour, the wine displays delightful, delicately flinty scents of pears and green apples; switching to teensy traces of herbs, minerals, and lemon. Reasonably complex, with fine fruit, balanced acidity, and a lovely hint of green fruits and gentle minerals on the finish. Very finely done. Now-2014+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

89    $23.95 (#297879)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Charles Wantz 2010 Excellence Gewurztraminer, Alsace AOC, France: Pale-light lime in colour with yellow traces, the 2010 Excellence Gewurztraminer exhibits delightful scents of intense lychee-based gingerroot, ripe yellow plums, and copious Asian spices. On the palate: fine fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a mellow, lingering hint of lychees and yellow pears on the finish. Balanced, round, and lasting. Now-2016+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

88+    $17.95 (#298539)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Mount Riley 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand: Extremely pale lime in colour, the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc displays lovely, entirely non-threatening notes of gooseberries, white grapefruit, capsicum, and minerals. On the palate: splendidly zesty, light-weight fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a zippy hint of gooseberries on the finish. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

88    $16.95 (#981670)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Mulderbosch 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape WO, South Africa: Very pale lime in colour, the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc offers pleasant scents of herb-encrusted green apples, gooseberries, and a hint of lemon and minerals. On the palate: good fruit showing, with fairly zesty acidity, and a lovely hint of minerally green apples and herbal traces on the finish. Very refreshing and balanced—always dependable. Screwcap closure. Now-2013. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

88    $18.95 (#933424)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Sartori di Verona 2009 Marani, IGT Bianco Veronese, Veneto, Italy: Light golden-straw in colour, the 2009 Marini reveals very pretty notes of strawy Golden Delicious apples, pears, dried honeysuckle, and a hint of white peaches and lemon. On the palate: nice dry fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a hint of dried strawy Golden Delicious apples and honeysuckle (very mild) on the finish. Very refreshing and balanced. 100% Garganega. Now-2012. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, January 2011)

 

88    $14.30 (#265405)     Vintages 3 March 2012 Release

 

Wither Hills 2011 Pinot Gris, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand: Pale straw in colour, the 2011 Pinot Gris reveals lovely notes of sweet strawy peaches, minerals, and a hint of tropical fruits. On the palate: good round fruit showing, with balanced acidity, and a delightful hint of peaches on the finish. Balanced, fresh, and easy to enjoy. New Zealand winegrowers have certainly made great strides with this marvellous grape. Screwcap closure. Now-2014+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

88    $19.95 (#214999)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Red Wines:

Penfolds 1998 Grange, South Australia, Australia: The top wine at a special event organized by WineAlign, the 1998 Grange is, to be perfectly blunt, the best Australian wine I have ever tasted. Opaque ruby in colour (slightly faded), this perfect specimen offers monumental, multistoried aromas of black mocha, fragrant black currants, dark/blue fruits (slightly briary), blackberry compote, licorice, spring flowers, forest floor, vanilla, and a trace of eucalyptus, vanilla, and exotic spices. Supremely complex, delivering immortal fruit flavours, still-very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lavish, unparalleled hint of black mocha, blackberry compote, black/blue fruits, and spring flowers on the finish. Flawless, elaborate, and resolutely stunning—from this day on, I shall make it my business to secure a few bottles for safekeeping and future enjoyment. 97% Shiraz and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2045+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2012)

 

100    $439.60 (Private Order)     Berry Bros. & Rudd (UK)

 

Penfolds 1982 Grange Hermitage, South Australia, Australia: Examined at a special function alongside the ’62 and the ’98, the 1982 Penfolds Grange is a masterpiece of acute sensuality and refinement. Dark-opaque red-garnet in colour, the wine reveals a particularly glorious bouquet of cigarbox-driven red and black fruits, pipe tobacco, forest floor, underbrush, scorched earth, minerals, vanilla, and exotic spices. Truly complex, possessing crisp, intoxicating fruit, firm yet fully integrated tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, pure hint of cigarbox and black fruits on the finish. Unbelievably vibrant, finesse-driven, and uncompromised by the passage of time; sheer brilliance. 94% Shiraz and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2020+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2012)

 

98    $452.16 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Penfolds 2007 Grange, South Australia, Australia: Provocative and profound, the 2007 Grange is a spitting image of the ‘04—only more ‘miniature’ and slightly less dense. Opaque ruby in colour, this legend in the making offers spellbinding aromas of spring flower-infused milk chocolate, mocha, plummy currants, black and blue fruits, dark cherries, licorice, crushed rocks, vanilla pods, incense traces, forest floor, and spice. Extremely complex, delivering astounding, all-embracing fruit, firm tannins, mild acidity, and a magnificent, immortal hint of milk chocolate, black and blue fruits, and spring flowers on the finish. Multileveled, immense, and toying with perfection, this should keep for well beyond three decades. 97% Shiraz and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2042++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2012)

 

98    $500.10 (Private Order)     Marquis Wine Cellars (British Columbia)

 

Antinori 2001 Solaia, IGT Toscana, Tuscany, Italy: Now over ten years of age, the 2001 Solaia has truly come into its own. Dark-opaque (slightly faded) ruby in colour, this gem features astounding aromas of dark briary cherries and black fruits; giving way to chocolate, licorice, kirsch, forest floor, asphalt/minerals, vanilla, and spice. Truly complex, wielding sensational velvety fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity and a fantastic, lingering hint of briary black fruits, forest floor, and chocolate on the finish. Harmonious, in-depth, and balanced, this is about as flawless a Solaia as has ever been produced, one that shall continue to develop over this decade and the next one with ease. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Now-2028+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

97+    $192.00 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Pieve Santa Restituta 2007 Sugarille, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: One of the greatest Brunellos I’ve ever tasted, the seductive 2007 Sugarille symbolizes artisanal winegrowing at its near-flawless. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine presents astonishing, intoxicating aromas of fragrant cherries, red and black fruits, licorice/liqueur, briary fruits, new leather, undergrowth, cedarwood, vanilla, and spice. Extremely complex, possessing fantastical silky fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a heavenly, finely textured hint of briary red/black fruits on the finish. Wondrous dimension, harmony, and grace; this will easily keep beyond a few decades. Now-2034++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

97+    $169.00 (#990705)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Bruno Giacosa 2003 Faletto, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy: Sourced solely from Bruno Giacosa’s own vineyards, the breathtaking 2003 Faletto is one of the top wines of what was a very challenging vintage. Medium-dark dark garnet in colour, this gem offers spectacular aromas of fragrant dried red fruits and cherries; giving way to Chinese black tea (alternating with bergamot), cedarwood, tar, pipe tobacco, and the slightest, most delicate hint of mint, cigarbox, and exotic spices. Brilliantly complex, wielding incredible fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an exquisite, finesse-driven hint of fragrant dried red fruits, cedarwood, and tealeaves on the finish. Wondrous personality, classicism, and purity. This is what great Barolo is all about. Now-2021++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, December 2010)

 

97    $177.10 (#74385)     Vintages October 2008 Classics Collection

 

Penfolds 1996 Grange, South Australia, Australia: Tasted at a luncheon with Peter Gago alongside the ’07, the 1996 Grange has entered midlife in exceptional, luminous form. Dark-opaque red currant in colour, it starts out leathery; eventually revealing a fantastic, multipronged bouquet of dried black and red fruits, dark cherries, wild plums, cigarbox, underbrush, cedarwood, minerals, mocha, vanilla, and spice. Immensely complex, featuring mature, uplifting fruit, fine-firm tannins, milder acidity, and an astonishing, fully integrated hint of cedar-oriented black fruits, leather, and exotic spices on the finish. Irrepressible personality, conciseness, and intensity; this is one unconditionally fabulous wine. 94% Shiraz and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2025++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2012)

 

97    $390.93 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Valdicava 2006 Madonna del Piano, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: The greatest Madonna del Piano ever? Dark-opaque ruby-red currant in colour, this incredible gem reveals fabulous, multilayered aromas of dark red and black fruits (intermixed with dark cherries and briary plums); switching to undergrowth, leather, scorched earth, licorice, mild truffles, cedarwood, vanilla, and spice. Incredibly complex, wielding wonderful fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an amazing hint of dark briary fruits, cedarwood, and undergrowth on the finish. Compact and silky in tandem, with awesome dimension, structure, and balance; this will keep for at least two decades. Now-2035++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

96+    $169.99 (Private Order)     Stem Wine Group

 

Dunn 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain (Napa Valley), California: The greatest wine I’ve ever tasted from this remarkable outpost, Randy Dunn’s 2008 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon reminds me of a Second Growth St-Julien. Opaque ruby in colour, this stunning offering presents profound, alluring aromas of mocha, currants, crème de cassis, blackberry compote, spring flowers, minerals, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Truly complex, delivering well-structured, sensational fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, moderate alcohol (13.9%), and a lasting, elegant hint of currants, mocha, and graphite on the finish. Magnificent refinement, sturdiness, and depth. Now-2038+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

95+    $99.95 (#193763)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Heitz 2006 Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California: One of the finest vintages I have yet to examine (rather surprising), the dazzling 2006 Martha’s Vineyard almost flawlessly illustrates the unique, superior terroir to be found in this part of Oakville. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is beautifully toasted, showcasing seductive aromas of milk chocolate and eucalyptus-infused currants, blackberries, cherries, kirsch, licorice, pain grille, forest floor, vanilla wafers, and spice. Truly complex, featuring gorgeously chewy fruit, firm tannins, slightly milder acidity, and a fabulous, decadent hint of milk chocolate, currants, and subtle eucalyptus on the finish. Grandiose, fulsome, and elegantly powerful—the full package. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2036++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

95+    $225.00 (Private Order)     Lifford Wine Agency

 

Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia 2009 Ornellaia, Bolgheri Superiore DOC, Tuscany, Italy: Stunning as ever, the 2009 Ornellaia could very well be considered a legend in the making. Very dense ruby in colour, this stunning wine is beautifully toasted, detailing enveloping aromas of milk chocolate, crème de cassis, plums, cherries, strawberries, coffee ice cream, forest floor, mineral elements, vanilla, and spice. Truly complex, delivering gorgeous silky-smooth yet well-structured fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a spectacular hint of milk chocolate, crème de cassis, and strawberries on the finish. Heavenly texture, layering, and harmony; this will keep for well over twenty years. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. Now-2034+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

95+    $189.95 (#722470)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Gaja 2005 Sperss, Langhe DOC, Piedmont, Italy: From Angelo Gaja’s prized Serralunga vineyard, the 2005 Sperss, despite hailing from a limited vintage, defies expectations. Dark ruby-red currant in colour, this beauty showcases extravagant, multistoried aromas of cherries, red plums and alternate ‘Nebbiolo’ fruits, tar, tealeaves, nougat, truffles, underbrush, cedarwood, vanilla, and spice. Exceedingly complex, delivering glorious fruit, firm yet surprisingly accessible tannins, balanced acidity, and a brilliant hint of cherries, truffles, and tealeaves on the finish. Stupendous, lively blend—a mid-weight classic in the making. 94% Nebbiolo and 6% Barbera. Now-2030+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

95    $149.73 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Château Beaucastel 2010, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Rhône, France: The greatest Beaucastel I’ve tasted in years, the 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a classic example of one of the greatest reds of France. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, this beauty provides exceptional, multilayered aromas of leathery black raspberries, dried blueberries, blackberry compote, spring flowers, lavender, forest floor, white pepper traces, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, delivering wonderful fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant, in-depth hint of black fruits, spring flowers, and lavender on the finish. Fantastic layering, harmony, and precision, this will keep for at least two decades. 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise, the rest other permitted varietals. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

94++    $89.95 (#711317)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Louis Latour 2002 Cuvée Heritiers, Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru Chambertin AOC, Burgundy, France: Sourced from a 0.81-ha parcel adjacent to Latricières, the 2002 Cuvée Heritiers is every bit as brilliant a Chambertin as would be expected from this omnipotent vineyard. Medium red currant in colour with a touch of garnet, the wine reveals exquisite, slowly maturing aromas of red cherries and raspberries; switching to alternate red fruits, dried licorice, loamy earth, and an extremely subtle hint of cedarwood and spicebox. Very complex, showcasing immensely interwoven, contradictorily ‘exact’ fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a wholly genteel, fairly youthful hint of dark cherries and raspberries on the finish. Wondrous purity, style, and character; this should easily keep for up to two decades. Now-2025++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

94++    $169.00 (#78204)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Joseph Phelps 2006 Insignia, Napa Valley, California: Sourced from estate-grown fruit in differing AVAs throughout the valley floor, the 2006 Insignia is about as indulgent as it gets. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is beautifully toasted, presenting spectacular aromas of chocolate, ‘dusty’ currants, dried raspberries and cherries, blackberry treacle, red plums, pain grille, asphalt, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, fielding sumptuous, monumental fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a long-lasting, abundant hint of chocolate, ‘dusty’ currants, and strawberry shortcake on the finish. Sensationally full-bodied, finely textured, and without a shred of humility. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2032++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

94++    $229.95 (Private Order)     Lifford Wine Agency

 

Antinori 2001 Guado Al Tasso, Bolgheri Superiore DOC, Tuscany, Italy: From Piero Antinori’s perennially undervalued Bolgheri estate, the 2001 Guado Al Tasso was the last wine tasted during a terrific Super Tuscan-themed evening. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it features incredibly youthful, resplendent aromas of red and black fruits, cherries, blackberry compote, dark raspberries, licorice, charcoal, cedarwood elements, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, delivering fantastic velvety fruit, firm yet well-integrated tannins, balanced acidity, and a superlative hint of dark briary black fruits (so pure) on the finish. Exquisite, fulsome, and elegant. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 10% Syrah and ‘other red grape varieties.’ Now-2025. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

94+    $82.20 (Private Order)     WineTip.com (Italy)

 

Penfolds 1962 Grange Hermitage, South Australia, Australia: The oldest Grange I have yet to taste, the ’62 has performed remarkably well over the past fifty years, acquitting itself on this particular occasion with particular desirability and confidence. Dark (faded) garnet in colour, it delivers a lively bouquet of ‘rugged’ cigarbox and red fruits, saddle leather, savoury nuances, and varied hints of tobacco, scorched earth, and exotic spices. Very complex, retaining whimsical, fully integrated fruit and tannins, balanced acidity, and a fully mature, enduring hint of cigarbox on the finish. Incredible finesse, balance, and vitality, logging in at a nowadays-unthinkable 12.2% alcohol. 87% Shiraz and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2015 (depending on providence). (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2012)

 

94+    $2,499.00 (Private Order)     Cellarit (Australia)

 

Penfolds 2009 RWT Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia: Since its launch in 2000, the RWT label, crafted solely from Barossa Valley fruit, has emerged as one of the finest bottlings in Penfolds lineup. Opaque ruby in colour, the sensational, exciting ’09 presents ‘compact,’ multilayered aromas of black mocha/espresso, blackberries, black fruits, dried blueberries, licorice, asphalt, cookie dough, vanilla wafers, and spice. Very complex and youthful, boasting gorgeous, indulgent fruit, supple-firm tannins, mild acidity, and a heavenly, everlasting hint of mocha, plummy blackberries, and black fruits on the finish. Exceedingly delicious, full-throttle, and enticing. Screwcap closure. Now-2032. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2012)

 

94+    $100.48 (Private Order)     Berry Bros. & Rudd (UK)

 

Joseph Phelps 2008 Insignia, Napa Valley, California: A striking combination of sumptuousness and workability, the sensational 2008 Insignia will appeal to both carefree hedonists and conscientious collectors. Opaque ruby-red currant in colour, the wine is richly toasted, displaying concentrated aromas of baked chocolate, currants, blackberry treacle, new leather, forest floor, dried licorice, tar, vanilla, and spice. Complex, wielding extravagant forward fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and an insanely long hint of chocolate and currants on the finish. Mightily decadent, at the same time not without a remarkable sense of balance, structure, and harmony. 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec. Now-2030++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

94+    $224.95 (#710400)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Pieve Santa Restituta 2007, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: ‘Entry range’ label from Angelo Gaja’s superlative Tavernelle-based outpost, the 2007 Pieve Santa Restituta is one great, legitimately price-tagged Brunello. Dark ruby-red in colour, it offers substantial aromas of fragrant cherries and wild red fruits; switching to red currants, undergrowth, wild game/roasted meats, balsam, leather, cedarwood, vanilla, and spice. Extremely complex, retaining magnanimous, elegantly layered fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an incredibly refined hint of red fruits and mild cedarwood on the finish. Remarkably sophisticated, stylish, and textured—truly great Sangiovese Grosso. Now-2028++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2012)

 

94    $62.95 (Private Order)     Stem Wine Group

 

Sassicaia 2004, Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC, Tuscany, Italy: Resolutely appealing, at-ease Sassicaia, the ’04 is on the verge of reaching mid-life in complete serenity. Dark-opaque ruby in colour with a touch of red currant, the wine reveals wonderfully fresh aromas of fragrant dark cherries, plums, and sinewy black fruits; giving way to forest floor, chestnuts, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring wondrous Bordelaise-styled fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an excellent, agile hint of cherries, plums, and mocha traces on the finish. Brilliant character, balance, and finesse—now at its peak though with plenty of steam for at least another dozen years. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. Now-2024. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

94    $204.80 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Beringer 2009 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California: Once again the standout bottling from this humungous liquid conglomerate, the 2009 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is one tempting collectible. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, exuding inviting, multilayered aromas of mocha, currants, blackberries, spring flowers, licorice, charcoal, cookie crumble, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with exquisite forward, almost silky fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering, incredibly satisfying hint of mocha, currants, and licorice/flowers on the finish. Wonderful layering, length, and balance. For the long term. Also contains 2% Petit Verdot. Now-2032. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

93+    $119.95 (#149955)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Arnaldo Caprai 2007 Collepiano, Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG, Umbria, Italy: For those who have yet to discover the wondrous attributes of great Sagrantino, the stunning, reasonably priced 2007 Collepiano ought to serve as an eye-opener. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine displays exceptional aromas of moderate mocha, dark cherries/currants, black fruits, dried herbs, asphalt, roasted game, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, showcasing extremely firm, outgoing fruit, very firm tannins, and an impeccable, completely confident hint of dark cherried plums, mocha, and spicewood on the finish. Terrifically structured, layered, and balanced. Now-2028. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

93+    $51.99 (Private Order)     Stem Wine Group

 

Luce della Vite 1997 Luce, IGT Toscana, Tuscany, Italy: The oldest vintage I have yet to taste from this then-venture between Robert Mondavi and the Frescobaldi family, the intrepid 1997 Luce has now reached its peak. Dark-opaque garnet-cherry red brick in colour, it exudes an exceptional bouquet of cedar-infused dried red/black fruits and dark chocolate; switching to forest floor, undergrowth, sandalwood, smoke, mahogany, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, boasting wonderful, still-youthful yet mature-flavoured fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a stellar hint of black fruits, dried chocolate, and cedar on the finish. Incredible structure, harmony, and durability. 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot. Now-2020+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93+    $10.40 (Private Order)     WineTip.com (Italy)

 

Valdicava 2007, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Slightly superior to previous vintages, the stunning 2007 Brunello di Montalcino is not to be missed. Dark-opaque ruby-red currant in colour, the wine features astonishing aromas of tealeaf-infused cherries, red plums, undergrowth, balsam, leather, sandalwood, cedarwood, and spice. Very complex, delivering impeccably pure, elegantly situated fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a prodigiously refined hint of cherries, cedarwood, and tealeaves on the finish. Wonderful traditional pedigree, balance, and energy; this will easily keep over fifteen years. Now-2026++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

93+    $139.99 (Private Order)     Stem Wine Group

 

Château Branaire-Ducru 2005, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: Easily the greatest wine this estate has ever produced, Patrick Maroteaux’s intrepid 2005 Branaire-Ducru possesses all the hallmarks of an outstanding claret. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is beautifully (though not overly) toasted, delivering amazing aromas of mocha, currants, blackberries, black cherries, blueberries, ground chocolate, violets, graphite, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, showcasing delicious, opulent fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a multilayered, elegant hint of pure ‘bluish’ currants and mocha elements on the finish. Truly exquisite, balance, and refined. According to one source: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Now-2030+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

93    $160.00 (#503706)     Vintages 2005 Bordeaux Futures

 

Cakebread 2006 Benchland Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California: Winemaker Julianne Laks’ terrific 2006 Benchland Select is crafted from 63% Oakville and 37% Rutherford grapes. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is beautifully toasted, offering extremely inviting aromas of mocha, currants, blackberry compote, dried black cherries, pain grille, graphite, saddle leather, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with superbly focused, sumptuous yet elegant fruit, firm tannins, slightly milder acidity, and a lengthy, mysteriously refined hint of ‘dusty’ currants and mocha on the finish. Very pure, poised, and downright scrumptious. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2025+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

93    $98.12 (Private Order)     America’s Wine Shop (USA)

 

Heitz 2006 Trailside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California: After Martha’s Vineyard, Heitz’s Trailside plot is routinely ranked the runner-up—and deservedly so. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ’06 is finely toasted, offering amazingly pure, textbook ‘Heitz’ aromas of mocha, currants, blackberries, scorched (reddish) earth, pain grille, eucalyptus, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, delivering stunning, well-structured fruit, firm tannins, slightly milder acidity, and an elegant, forthright hint of mocha, currants, and ‘red’ eucalyptus on the finish. Profound, lengthy, and honestly excellent. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

93    $135.00 (Private Order)     Lifford Wine Agency

 

Poggio Mandorlo 2005, IGT Maremma, Tuscany, Italy: Top label of the operation, the 2005 Poggio Mandorlo is a robust, powerful wine with a big, delectable attitude. Opaque ruby in colour, it reveals abundant aromas of blackberry treacle, kirsch liqueur, dried blue berries, saddle leather (very potent), licorice, truffle traces, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, sporting polished, decadent fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a long, abundant hint of blackberry treacle, new saddle leather, and truffle elements on the finish. Alluring, Parkerized offering. 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Sangiovese. Now-2023++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93    $89.00 (#206433)     Vintages February 2011 Classics Collection

 

Penfolds 2009 Magill Estate Shiraz, Magill Estate Vineyard, South Australia, Australia: Sourced entirely from Penfolds’ 5.2-ha Magill Estate Vineyard in Adelaide Hills, the ’09 is assuredly top-notch. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, this beauty showcases marvellous, sophisticated aromas of subtle mocha, currants, blackberries, dried black cherries, plums, licorice, asphalt, forest floor, underbrush, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, retaining incredibly opulent fruit, firm tannins, mild acidity, and a long-lasting, silky-smooth hint of mocha, plummy currants, and forest floor on the finish. Extraordinarily textured, balanced, and focused. Bravo! Screwcap closure. Now-2030. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2012)

 

93    $78.50 (Private Order)     Berry Bros. & Rudd (UK)

 

Petrolo 2004 Galatrona, IGT Toscana, Tuscany, Italy: Crafted from 100% Merlot, the 2004 Galatrona represents a bold, decadent effort from the Sanjust family. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, exhibiting youthful, alluring aromas of dark mocha, cherry liqueur, blackberries, plums, new leather, forest floor, asphalt, fresh vanilla pods, and spice. Very complex, possessing sumptuous fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a long, velvety hint of dark mocha and black cherried currants on the finish. Well structured, balanced, and enamouring, this should still-youthful specimen should easily keep for the foreseeable future. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

93    $119.00 (#21998)     Vintages September 2008 Classics Collection

 

Inglenook 2008 Rubicon, Rutherford (Napa Valley), California: With Stéphane Derenoncourt as consultant, the 2008 Rubicon supposedly reflects a switch to a more elegant style—only this isn’t so. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, this tempting, Parkerized offering is beautifully toasted, displaying indulgent aromas of baked black mocha and licorice; quickly switching to currants, blackberry compote, dark dried cherries, kirsch liqueur, pain grille, tar, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, boasting prodigious fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lasting, opulent hint of kirsch, licorice, and black mocha on the finish. Decadent, powerful, and alluring; though not exactly refined. 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, and 3% Merlot. Now-2028+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

93    $244.95 (Private Order)     Lifford Wine Agency

 

Zýmē 2005 Kairos, IGT Veneto, Veneto, Italy: One of the wackier wines out of Celestino Gaspari’s incredible lineup, the delectable, uniquely interwoven 2005 Kairos is crafted from a minimum of 15 different varietals. Opaque ruby-red currant in colour, it delivers amazingly inviting aromas of savoury red fruits and chocolaty nuances; quickly switching to gingerbread cookies, wild game, leather, grilled herbs, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, wielding excellent fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an extraordinary hint of savoury red/black fruits and chocolaty elements on the finish. Remarkable personality, style, and breed. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

93    $69.99 (Private Order)     Stem Wine Group

 

Bouchard Père & Fils 2009, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru Les Porrets St-Georges AOC, Burgundy, France: Separated from the famed St-Georges vineyard by Les Cailles, the fact that Les Porrets is permitted to append ‘St-Georges’ to its name makes for something of a crock. Whatever: medium ruby in colour, the fantastic ’09 Bouchard Père & Fils displays truly beautiful, uplifting aromas of dark cherries, blackberries, crème de cassis, licorice, rhubarb, and spice. Complex, possessing extraordinary, delicious fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an absolutely impeccable hint of dark raspberries and cherries on the finish. Excellent purity, depth, and polish—wow! Now-2020++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2011)

 

92++    $92.00 (Private Order)     Woodman Wines & Spirits

 

Catena Zapata 2008 Nicolás Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina: Exceptional offering from one of Argentina’s greatest producers, the terrific 2008 Nicolás Catena Zapata suggests an increasing focus on freshness and finer textural elements than has been apparent in the past. Opaque black-purple in colour, the wine is finely toasted, revealing alluring, emphatic aromas of currants, blackberries, dried blueberries, violets, pipe tobacco, forest floor, grilled herbs, white pepper, mocha traces, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring impeccably concentrated fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a long, plentiful hint of currants, pipe tobacco, and mild white pepper on the finish. Pristine, robust, and excellently structured. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Malbec. Now-2024. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92++    $109.95 (#662072)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Kilikanoon 2009 Green’s Vineyard Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia: Exuding amazing depth, shapeliness, and design, the tremendous 2009 Green’s Vineyard Shiraz is sourced entirely from estate-owned grapes located in the heart of the Barossa Valley. Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, the wine is beautifully toasted, sporting alluring aromas of black fruits, dark mocha, blackberry compote, licorice, mint, leather, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with exquisitely sumptuous fruit, firm yet slightly velvety tannins, mild acidity, and a long, well-structured hint of black fruits and tobacco nuances on the finish. Terrifically executed, this will age at least a dozen more years. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92++    $74.95 (#6007)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Château La Tour Carnet 2009, Haut-Médoc AOC, Bordeaux, France: Under the same ownership as Pape Clément, Château La Tour Carnet has been quietly upping its game over the past several vintages. Opaque ruby in colour, the fabulous ’09 is finely toasted, showcasing exquisite aromas of crème de cassis, blackberries, spring flowers, graphite, licorice, mocha, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, carrying outstanding full-bodied fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a harmonious, polished hint of currants, black mocha, and spring flowers on the finish. Pitch-perfect balance, style, and breed. 62% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Now-2032+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92++    $51.85 (#194555)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Bouchard Père & Fils 2007, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru AOC, Burgundy, France: Standout Vougeot from a very challenging vintage, the 2007 Bouchard Père & Fils acquits itself marvellously. Medium ruby in colour, the wine offers exceptional aromas of brambling cherries, raspberries, licorice, and the slightest hint of loamy earth, rhubarb, vanilla, and exotic spices. Very complex, delivering remarkable fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superbly polished hint of dark raspberries (great grip) on the finish. Excellent bottling of real prowess, vigour, and balance. Now-2019++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2011)

 

92+    $165.00 (Private Order)     Woodman Wines & Spirits

 

Château Canon 2007, St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: Owned by Chanel since 1996, recent vintages of Château Canon have, according to more ‘seasoned’ commentators than I, been among the finest in recent memory. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ’07 is finely toasted, offering subtle yet highly inviting aromas of black currants, blackberries, kirsch, crème de cassis, crushed rocks, lavender (very subtle), and a hint of vanilla and spice. Very complex, retaining really great, well-characterized fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an extremely refined, full-bodied hint of dark currants, kirsch, and graphite on the finish. Immensely beautiful, taut, and pure. 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. Now-2022++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

92+    $88.00 (#16245)     Vintages Shop Online

 

Cliff Lede 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District (Napa Valley), California: Quite the treat, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine collectors will want to eagerly seek out. Opaque ruby in colour and finely toasted, it offers devilishly decadent aromas of chocolaty mocha, currants, blackberries, dark cherries, strawberries, licorice, forest floor, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, wielding beautifully structured, excellent fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and an extraordinary, lingering hint of chocolaty mocha, currants, and licorice on the finish. Exquisite texture, flavour, and length. Also contains 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 1% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Now-2030++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

92+    $74.00 (Private Order)     Halpern Enterprises

 

Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia 2003 Ornellaia, Bolgheri Superiore DOC, Tuscany, Italy: With temperatures reaching as high as 39°C in early-August, the 2003 Ornellaia is one of the most forward, open-faced wines I have ever tasted from this venerable estate. Dark (slightly faded) ruby in colour, it offers exquisite, slightly singed aromas of cherries and red fruits (a tad cedary), toasted oak, leather, forest floor, underbrush, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, sporting generous, atypically accessible fruit, fine tannins, balanced acidity, and a remarkable hint of cherries and red fruits on the finish. Quite sumptuous, balanced, and undeniably appetizing. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. Now-2019+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2012)

 

92+    $254.40 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Château Rauzan-Ségla 2007, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Upfront and surprisingly well-structured, the delectable 2007 Rauzan-Ségla indicates an estate on a roll. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine showcases refined, textbook aromas of dark raspberried currants, plums, blackberries, crushed rocks, and a pinch of licorice, incense, wild game, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, featuring deliciously approachable, suitably sturdy fruit, fine-firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a very elegant, emphatic hint of pure raspberried currants on the finish. Seriously tempting, balanced, and refined—outstanding Margaux. According to one source: 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35.5% Merlot, and 5.5% Petit Verdot. Now-2020+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

92+    $90.00 (#98491)     Vintages 29 October 2011 In-Store Discovery

 

Stonestreet 2007 Monument Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley (Sonoma County), California: One of the star wines at Stonestreet, winemaker Graham Weerts’ 2007 Monument Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon merits extensive applause. Opaque black-ruby in colour, the wine presents engaging, alluring aromas of currants, plums, blackberries, dried cherries, asphalt/graphite, smoke, vanilla, and spice. Complex, delivering sumptuous, brilliantly textured fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lasting hint of ‘dusty’ currants, black cocoa powder, and asphalt on the finish. Wonderful structure, style, and cautious elegance. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92+    $49.95 (#285098)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Vidal-Fleury 2004 La Chatillonne, Côte-Rôtie AOC, Rhône, France: Owned by the Guigal family since 1985 (though run independently), the top wines of Vidal-Fleury are undoubtedly their Côte-Rôtie(s). Dark ruby in colour with a touch of red currant, the 2004 La Chatillonne is delicately toasted, presenting wonderfully ‘rugged’ aromas of brambling red currants and plums, dried leathery cherries, strawberries, figs, and a hint of white pepper, sandalwood, and spice. Complex, carrying terrific regional fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, lasting hint of brambling red currants and walnut traces on the finish. Impeccable expression, focus, and character. Now-2021++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

92+    Price Unavailable     The Small Winemakers Collection (Private Order)

 

Château Branaire-Ducru 2004, St-Julien AOC, Bordeaux, France: One of the more ‘imperial’ examples of the vintage, the 2004 Château Branaire-Ducru is both indulgent and upright. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, with impeccably polished aromas of roasted mocha/coffee, currants, plums, blueberries, dark cherries, crème brûlée, asphalt, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, boasting classic, elegantly styled fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a delicious hint of currants, crushed rocks, and coffee traces on the finish. Still youthful, with exceptional structure, balance, and finesse. According to one source: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Now-2023++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

92    $105.00 (#88336)     Vintages Special Offer

 

Château Canon 2002, St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé AOC, Bordeaux, France: From one of the weakest vintages of the decade, the 2002 Château Canon defies expectations, dispensing a supremely underrated performance. Dark-opaque red currant in colour and perhaps a tad closed when examined, it provides still-youthful aromas of mocha-infused blackberries, crème brûlée, pain grille, forest floor, savoury nuances, and spice. Complex, harnessing extremely fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superb, polished hint of blackberries and plums (slightly sinewy/savoury) on the finish. Standout claret—clearly an overachiever. According to one source: 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Now-2017++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

92    $99.00 (#920462)     Vintages 2002 Bordeaux Futures

 

Fattoria di Casalbosco 2006 Orchidea, IGT Toscana, Tuscany, Italy: One of several Super Tuscans produced at Casalbosco, the 2006 Orchidea is a delicious and powerful blend. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, presenting enticing, well-developed aromas of ‘forested’ black mocha, currants, undergrowth, balsam, leather, and a hint of vanilla and spice. Complex, possessing robust, forward-style fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an assertive, lingering hint of plummy currants, dark mocha, and leather on the finish. Quite profound, balanced, and sumptuous. Typically 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. Now-2019+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

92    $30.58 (Private Order)     Behrens Weine (Germany)

 

Poggio il Castellare 2006, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: My only note from this estate, the 2006 Poggio il Castellare possesses wonderful depth, structure, and focus. Dark-opaque garnet-black cherry in colour, it displays potent, darkly savoury aromas of wild dried plummy cherries, black fruits, undergrowth, cedarwood, scorched earth, leather, mahogany wood, and spice. Complex, delivering exceptional robust fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an exciting, deliciously structured hint of black fruits, cedarwood, and nutted truffles on the finish. Terrific execution and balance. Now-2026+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92    $47.95 (#293555)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Far Niente 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville (Napa Valley), California: Abundant and lengthy, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon accurately (and deliciously) reflects the style ‘North American’ style of palate. Opaque purple-ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, presenting inviting, slightly floral aromas of ‘dusty’ blackberry compote, dark chocolate, purple plums, licorice, forest floor, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with sumptuous, fairly compact fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a long-lasting, scrumptious hint of dark chocolate, currants, and floral elements on the finish. Robust, lively, and decadent. Also contains 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. Now-2026. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2010)

 

92    $139.95 (#539098)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Gaja 2007 Dagromis, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy: Crafted from two vineyards based out of La Morra and Serralunga, the 2007 Dagromis boasts a wonderful personality and superlative clarity. Dark red currant in colour, it offers remarkably fragrant aromas of cherries and ‘Nebbiolo’ fruits, tealeaves, gentle cedarwood, tar, undergrowth, forest floor, and spice. Complex, delivering great, sophisticated fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an excellent, compelling hint of dark dried cherries and tealeaf elements on the finish. Marvellous structure, refinement, and balance. Now-2024. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92    $79.95 (Private Order)     Stem Wine Group

 

Château Rauzan-Ségla 2003, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: One of my first-ever notes from this estate, the 2003 Château Rauzan-Ségla, like many other wines from the vintage, is maturing quickly; yet it remains excellently assembled and styled. Dark red currant in colour, it displays adorable, savoury-themed aromas of red currants, blackberries, dried raspberries, cedarwood, scorched loamy earth, leather, and a hint of wild game and spice. Very complex, possessing great fruit, fully integrated tannins, balanced acidity, and a beautiful, slightly savoury hint of ‘mature’ currants on the finish. Superb finesse, agility, and balance. 53.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 1.5% Cabernet Franc. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

92    $99.00 (#580712)     Vintages 2003 Bordeaux Futures

 

Seña 2008, Aconcagua Valley, Chile: Slightly leaner and more elegant than previous vintages, the 2008 Seña remains one of the finest Bordeaux-blends in Chile. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it reveals cassis-driven aromas of currants, blackberries, plums, black cherries, licorice, dried mocha, mint, asphalt, vanilla, and spice. Complex, retaining delicious, powerful fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a polished, lingering hint of cassis, dark mocha, and blueberries on the finish. Sophisticated, full-bodied, and wholeheartedly endearing; excellent aging potential. 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Carmenère, 10% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Now-2022+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

92    $119.95 (Private Order)     Lifford Wine Agency

 

Domaine des Sénéchaux 2009, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Rhône, France: Not as powerful as the supercharged ’07, the 2009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape conveys excellent focus, lift, and harmony. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine delivers superb aromas of berried Provençal fruits, kirsch, licorice, spring flowers, leather, and a very mild hint of bacon bits, minerals, and spice. Complex, featuring exquisite fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a long, vibrant hint of plums, licorice, and lavender on the finish. Adorable freshness, structure, and balance. 63% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 17% Mourvèdre/Cinsault/Vaccarèse. Now-2024++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

92    $69.95 (Private Order)     Lifford Wine Agency

 

Citille di Sopra 2007, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Relatively young operation by Tuscan standards, Citille di Sopra was founded by Fabio Innocenti in 1997. Dark red-garnet in colour, the terrific 2007 Brunello displays beautifully restrained, ‘compact’ aromas of wild dried cherries and plums; quickly giving way to sandalwood, fruitcake, roasted meats, and spice. Complex, carrying exemplary fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an excellently structured, elegant hint of dried dark fruits and cedarwood on the finish. Remarkable character, firmness, and traditional style. Now-2025. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

92    $39.95 (#303503)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

La Torre 2005, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: Showcasing a more modern style than most, the 2005 La Torre Brunello is both undeniably delicious and fresh. Dark red currant in colour, the wine offers enticing aromas of elegant ‘rugged’ red cherries, plums, dark red fruits, leather, undergrowth, balsam, pain grille, and a hint of mocha, vanilla, and spice. Complex, delivering really superb fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lasting, polished yet delicate hint of dark red cherries, pain grille, and vanilla wafers on the finish. Wonderful pure expression, balance, and breed. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

92    $53.97 (Private Order)     Sussex Wines & Spirits (USA)

 

Star Lane 2007 Estate Red Blend, Santa Barbara County, California: Purchased in 1996, Jim Dierberg’s Star Lane Vineyard has shown remarkable potential over the past couple of years. Opaque ruby in colour, the 2007 Estate Red Blend is intensely toasted, delivering ‘drenched’ aromas of black chocolate, slightly baked currants, blackberries, crème de cassis, licorice, leather, tar, tobacco, vanillin, and spice. Complex, sporting concentrated, powerful yet well-structured fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and an extremely long, superlative hint of currants, black mocha, and a little pipe tobacco on the finish. Chewy, powerful, and decisively hedonistic—gorgeous. According to their website: roughly 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, the rest ‘other varietals.’ (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

91++    $44.95 (Private Order)     Kylix Wines

 

Cascina Cucco 2007 Cerrati, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy: Single-vineyard Barolo sourced well north of Serralunga d’Alba, the 2007 Cerrati (an alternate spelling of Cerretta?) is both enticing and compelling. Dark red currant in colour with a touch of garnet, it features more modernistic aromas of slightly savoury black fruits, dark dried cherries (intermixed with chocolate), tar, undergrowth, tealeaves, mahogany, vanilla, and spice. Very complex, with great fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a marvellous hint of black fruits and cedarwood traces on the finish. Great harmony and character. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

90    $31.95 (#106294)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Chateau St Jean 2008 Cinq Cépages, Sonoma County, California: Flagship wine of the establishment, the 2008 Cinq Cépages is one fully-flavoured, ambitious Bordeaux-blend. Opaque ruby in colour, it is finely toasted, offering alluring, well-managed aromas of currants, blackberries, plums, incense, dried licorice, mild herbal elements, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting incredible, well-structured fruit, very firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lengthy hint of ‘dusty’ plummy currants, incense, and mocha on the finish. Great structure, flavour, and character. 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 3% Malbec. Now-2023+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91+    $75.95 (#710913)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Joseph Phelps 2009 Freestone Vineyards, Sonoma Coast (Sonoma County), California: Crafted entirely from estate-grown fruit, the 2009 Pinot Noir (stated as 13.5% alcohol in tiny lettering on the front label) exudes considerable finesse and depth. Medium ruby in colour, it offers very attractive aromas of cherried raspberries, plums, violets, dried blueberries, currants, vanilla, and spice. Complex, featuring seductive fruit, fine tannins, balanced acidity, and an extremely silky hint of violets, raspberries, and ‘Pinot’ fruits on the finish. Delicious, marvellously crafted bottling. Now-2018. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

91+    $77.70 (Private Order)     Lifford Wine Agency

 

Silver Oak 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California: For lovers of unbridled new American oak, the 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is your best bet. Opaque ruby in colour, the wine is heavily toasted, offering pure American oak-driven aromas of ‘dilly’ currants, mocha, licorice, forest floor, vanilla, and spicebox. Complex, boasting smooth, velvety forward fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a long, concentrated hint of American oak, baked mocha, and ‘dilly’ plums on the finish. Characterful, intense, and lengthy—not my cup of tea, but plenty will adore this. Also contains 6% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Now-2022+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91+    $122.95 (#936039)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Château d’Armailhac 2003, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: Along with its pseudo-stablemate Clerc Milon, the 2003 d’Armailhac, while undeniable appetizing, is aging remarkably quickly. Dark red currant in colour with a touch of garnet, it presents lots of cedary tobacco at the outset; giving way to slightly fragrant red currants and plums, scorched earth, cigarbox, and spice. Complex, with great sturdy fruit, fairly firm tannins, balanced acidity, and an elegant hint of cedarwood and plums on the finish. Superb character and balance; meant for early drinking. According to one source: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Now-2015. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

91    $48.98 (Private Order)     Fine & Rare Wines (UK)

 

Bouchard Père & Fils 2008 Ancienne Cuvée Carnot, Volnay Premier Cru Caillerets AOC, Burgundy, France: Bouchard Père & Fils’ most prized Volnay, the 2008 Ancienne Cuvée Carnot is undeniably superior to most of the wines hailing from the Les Caillerets plot. Medium ruby in colour, it starts off with marvellous aromas of fragrant, licorice-infused dried cherries; switching to potpourri, spicebox, and a hint of scorched loamy earth and violets. Complex, possessing beautiful fruit, fairly firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a truly lovely, delicate hint of dried cherries and licorice on the finish. Superb wine of real refinement and delicacy. Now-2017+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, May 2011)

 

91    $74.00 (#77016)     Vintages October 2011 Classics Collection

 

Burrowing Owl 2009 Syrah, VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada: Slowly but surely, proprietor Jim Wyse’s Syrah has become one of the star offerings at Burrowing Owl. Opaque ruby in colour, the ’09 offers outstanding aromas of baked blackberries and brambleberries; switching to plum sauce, tobacco, leather, and a hint of dried mocha, smoked meats, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with delicious, well-structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, poignant hint of dark mocha, blackberries, and tobacco on the finish. Powerful, tightly wound, and balanced. Now-2020++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91    $40.95 (#73072)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Château Clerc Milon 2003, Pauillac AOC, Bordeaux, France: As anticipated, the 2003 Clerc Milon, while developing smoothly, is definitely evolving with greater speed on account of the conditions of the vintage. Dark red currant in colour with a touch of garnet, it exhibits absolutely lovely, slightly fragrant aromas of cedarwood-infused currants, plums, red fruits, scorched earth, and a pinch of leather and spicebox. Complex, retaining graceful fruit, still-firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined hint of dried plums and cigar box on the finish. Intrepid, adequately mature, and not without splendour. According to one source: 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. Now-2015+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

91    $176.21 (#5970)     Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation

 

Dierberg 2008 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, California: Under the same ownership as Star Lane Vineyard, the 2008 Dierberg Pinot Noir, though logging in at a well-managed 14.1% alcohol, is clearly crafted along Burgundian lines. Medium ruby in colour, it offers finely nuanced yet outgoing aromas of mineral-infused raspberries, dried strawberries, licorice, violets, subtle rhubarb, and a hint of vanilla and spice. Complex, retaining superb, elegant fruit, fine tannins, balanced acidity (crucial), and a lifting, inspired hint of raspberries and strawberries on the finish. Brilliant adeptness, vitality, and balance. Now-2017. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

91    $44.95 (Private Order)     Kylix Wines

 

Domaine Durieu 2009 Lucile Avril, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Rhône, France: Top bottling of the domaine, the 2009 Lucile Avril is dressed for success. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, it features exceptional, individualistic aromas of ‘rugged’ blackberry/raspberry preserves, leather, Provençal herbs, wild game, herbs, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Complex, delivering superlative, finely structured fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a refined, potent hint of ‘dusty’ raspberries and leathery nuances on the finish. Unique, powerful, and delectable. Typically 85% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, and 5% Syrah. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91    $42.95 (#295147)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Gaja 2010 Sito Moresco, Langhe DOC, Piedmont, Italy: Best described as Angelo Gaja’s ‘Super Piedmontese’ label, the 2010 Sito Moresco is both delicious and modern. Dark ruby in colour, the wine is lightly toasted, detailing attractive aromas of dried wild cherries, ‘dusty’ mocha, currants, licorice, tar, underbrush, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with superb fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a polished, accurate hint of dried wild cherries, mocha, and bergamot on the finish. Focused, upright, and acutely appetizing. 35% Nebbiolo, 35% Merlot, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now-2020+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91    $54.95 (#976043)     Vintages 29 September 2012 In-Store Discovery

 

Glaetzer Wines 2010 The Bishop Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia: Superb successor to the ’09, the 2010 Bishop Shiraz is another bull’s-eye from one of Australia’s most reputable winemakers. Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, it exhibits remarkable aromas of black/purple fruits, ‘dusty’ dark mocha, mint, asphalt, forest floor, moderate eucalyptus, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with excellent, well-structured forward fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering, copious hint of pure black fruits on the finish. Powerful, impeccably crafted and focused. Screwcap closure. Now-2024++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91    $39.95 (#627869)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Justin Vineyards 2009 Isosceles, Paso Robles, California: Consistently one of the top Bordeaux-blends in Paso Robles, Justin Baldwin’s Isosceles remains one of the standard-bearers in this part of California. Opaque ruby in colour, the ’09 is finely toasted, presenting alluring, slightly fragrant aromas of mocha, currants, black cherries, plums, asphalt, and a hint of toasted graham crackers, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with superbly delicious fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lingering, characterful hint of mocha, currants, and cherries on the finish. Marvellous intensity, fulsomeness, and elegance of temperament; though past vintages have shown more acute structure. 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Now-2023+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

91    $78.95 (Private Order)     The Vine: Robert Groh Agency

 

Château Labégorce 2000, Margaux AOC, Bordeaux, France: Under the same ownership as Château Marquis d’Alesme, the Labégorce property has been swiftly improved over the past dozen years. Dark red currant in colour with a trace of garnet, the ’00 offers beautiful aromas of gentle cedar-themed currants, blackberries, plums, tobacco, savoury nuances, leather, and spice. Complex, wielding immensely refined fruit, firm yet well-integrated tannins, balanced acidity, and a slowly maturing, elegant hint of currants and mild cedarwood on the finish. Superb mellowness and evolving maturity. According to one source: 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. Now-2015+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

91    $39.24 (Private Order)     K&L Wines (USA)

 

La Fattoria di Magliano 2009 Perenzo Syrah, IGT Rosso della Maremma, Tuscany, Italy: Compared to the ’08 or the ’06, the 2009 Perenzo Syrah seem to possess less oak influence and more varietal emphasis. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine reveals elegant, almost understated aromas of blackberries, plums, dried blueberries, white pepper, tobacco, forest floor, underbrush, and a hint of vanilla and spice. Complex, sporting excellent, well-styled fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a stellar hint of dried blueberries, plums, and tobacco on the finish. Marvellous freshness, structure, and crispness. Now-2020+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91    $51.99 (Private Order)     Stem Wine Group

 

Miner Family Winery 2007 The Oracle, Napa Valley, California: For the most part, the Oracle style and flavour profile seldom changes from year to year. Not that this is a bad thing, for the quality has been both consistent and high. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the ’07 is finely toasted, revealing exemplary aromas of black cherried mocha, currants, blackberries, strawberries, licorice, kirsch, minerals, vanilla, and spice. Complex, delivering delicious fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a lengthy, well-structured hint of mocha and black cherried currants on the finish. Poignant, balanced, and long. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec. Now-2023+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

91    $89.95 (Private Order)     Profile Wine Group

 

Famille Perrin 2010 Les Christins, Vacqueyras AOC, Rhône, France: From the Perrin family’s négociant lineup, the 2010 Les Christins is the most ambitious, finely executed vintage to date. Opaque black-ruby in colour with a touch of purple, it features superb aromas of brambleberries, blackberries, white pepper elements, charcoal, incense, forest floor, and spice. Complex, boasting deliciously concentrated fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a mouth-puckering, paradoxically silky hint of plummy brambleberries and white pepper traces on the finish. Great impact, balance, and length. Now-2020++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91    $23.95 (#973453)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Pietranera 2006, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: One of few notes I have from here, the 2006 Brunello di Montalcino exudes great finesse, balance, and style. Dark red-garnet in colour, it reveals alluring, traditional aromas of savoury dried cherries and plums; switching to cedarwood, mild chestnuts, undergrowth, and a hint of white truffles and spice. Complex, with excellent fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a finesse-driven hint of dried cherries, cedarwood, and faint white truffles on the finish. Extremely sturdy and elegant, this will keep for well over a decade. Now-2024+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

91    $35.95 (#189761)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Boroli 2004 Cerequio, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy: Though I’m a greater fan of the ’03 (examined four years ago), the 2004 Cerequio is nonetheless of modest, serious charm. Medium (faded) ruby-red currant in colour, it offers innately delicate, endearing scents of fragrant dried cherries and strawberries; giving way to tar, rose petals, and a hint of red fruits, cedarwood, and spice. Complex, possessing very fine fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superb hint of fragrant dried cherries on the finish. Great delicateness, balance, and breed—positively mid-weight. Now-2021.  (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

90+    $87.99 (Private Order)     Stem Wine Group

 

Domaine Clavel 2010 Bonne Pioche, Languedoc Pic Saint Loup AOC, Midi, France: Incredible value for money, the 2010 Bonne Pioche represents some serious winegrowing. Extremely dense black-ruby in colour, the wine reveals inviting aromas of ‘dusty’ blackberry compote, dark mocha, charcoal embers, kirsch, tobacco, vanilla, and spice. Complex, featuring delicious full-bodied fruit, very firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a superb, lingering hint of blackberry compote and dark mocha extract on the finish. Assertive, balanced, and ageworthy. Syrah (predominant), Grenache, and Mourvèdre. Now-2019+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

90+    $19.95 (#297986)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Domaine Grand Veneur 2010 Clos de Sixte, Lirac AOC, Rhône, France: Easily the greatest Lirac I’ve ever examined, 2010 Clos de Sixte, opaque ruby in colour, displays tempting, impactful aromas of blackberries, plums, black raspberries, espresso, crushed rocks, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with excellent, finely structured fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering, slightly chewy hint of blackberries and floral elements on the finish. Bold, robust, and delicious. 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre. Now-2019. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

90+    $22.95 (#76349)     Vintages 24 November 2012 Release

 

Signorello 2008 Padrone Proprietary Red, Napa Valley, California: Coming off the stellar ’07, the 2008 Padrone, while assuredly suited to the North American palate, is not in the same league as many of its recent predecessors. Dark-opaque ruby in colour, the wine is finely toasted, displaying rich, slightly jammy aromas of mocha, black cherried currants, plums, raspberry treacle, licorice, vanilla, and spice. Complex, boasting beautiful, well-structured fruit, firm tannins, milder acidity, and a long, powerful (and alcoholic) hint of mocha and black cherried currants on the finish. Powerful and Parkerized, with plenty of positives for lovers of the style. Now-2022++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, April 2012)

 

90+    $159.95 (Private Order)     Profile Wine Group

 

Vidal-Fleury 2005 Brune & Blonde, Côte-Rôtie AOC, Rhône, France: Made from Côte Brune and Côte Blonde grapes, the 2005 Vidal-Fleury is both beautifully crafted and personified. Dark ruby-red currant in colour, the wine reveals very fragrant, slightly ‘roasted’ aromas of plums, red licorice, leather, pain grille, grilled herbs, and spice. Complex, retaining highly polished, slightly ‘dusty’ fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a marvellous hint of red currants, leather, and forest floor on the finish. Great character, structure, and breed. Now-2019+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, November 2010)

 

90+    Price Unavailable     The Small Winemakers Collection (Private Order)

 

Tim Adams 2006 Cabernet/Malbec, Clare Valley, South Australia, Australia: Rare type of Bordeaux-blend by Aussie standards, the well-crafted 2006 Cabernet/Malbec is now showing a little maturity. Opaque faded ruby in colour with a touch of red currant, it features superb aromas of mild cigarbox-infused currants, subtle dark mocha, graphite, and a hint of pipe tobacco, eucalyptus, and spice. Complex, retaining great fruit, firm tannins, mild acidity, and a well-structured hint of dried black fruits on the finish. Beautiful style, balance, and confidence. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Malbec. Now-2018+. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

90    $26.95 (#295535)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Bertani 2006 Villa Arvedi, Amarone della Valpolicella DOC, Veneto, Italy: With roots dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, Bertani has long been recognized as a source of reliable, sometimes superlative Amarone. Dark-opaque red currant in colour, the 2006 Villa Arvedi reveals appetizing aromas of baked cedary plums and savoury Baker’s Chocolate®; switching to wild cherries, leather, undergrowth, smoke, and exotic spices. Complex, with delicious, slightly smoky/peppery fruit, firm tannins, balanced acidity, and a satisfying hint of cedary plums and roasted meats on the finish. Superior character, balance, and flavour. According to their website: typically Corvina and Rondinella. Now-2017++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, September 2010)

 

90    $37.95 (#13417)     Vintages 13 November 2010 Release

 

Darioush 2007 Duel, Napa County, California: Darioush’s answer to the blend made famous throughout Australia, the 2007 Duel is immensely saturated and satisfying. Dense black-ruby in colour with a shade of blue, the wine is heavily toasted, offering substantial aromas of ‘dusty’ chocolate, blackberry/blueberry treacle, currants, forest floor, asphalt, bonbons, vanilla, and spice. Complex, with sumptuous, alcoholic fruit (16.4%), firm tannins, milder acidity, and a long-lasting hint of blackberry treacle and chocolate on the finish. Port-like, powerful, and Parkerized—well-suited to the North American palate. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Shiraz. Now-2020++. (Julian Hitner, The Successful Collector, October 2012)

 

90    $48.95 (#291013)     Vintages 8 December 2012 Release

 

Flowers 2009 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast (Sonoma County), California