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Ken's Picks


Lodi Estates Merlot 2021 14%abv.  Lodi, California

Tasting Notes: Although Lodi is in California's Central Valley, its climate is more Mediterranean than the hot, dry semi-arid climate you might expect. This is thanks to the many rivers which run through the AVA and the creeks, estuaries and bays into which they flow. Merlot, an early budding grape, does well here in the reliable warmth. This wine is dense garnet in color. It has a layered aroma of black currant, garrigue, plum, and vanilla. On the palate, good complexity, with black currant, blackberry, espresso with cream, and oregano notes. It has good structure: tannins present but smooth, plush mouth feel but not jammy. A real nice surprise. A perfect match for bison burgers! Drink now-2026.

Price: $19.99 750 ml

 

Ken's Picks


Famille Sichel La Dame D'Angludet 2019 13% abv  Margaux, France

Tasting Notes: The Sichel family renamed this wine (the so-called 'second' wine of the domaine) from La Reserve D'Angludet to better honor the women who have contributed directly or indirectly to the history of the property since the 12th century. Deeply aromatic, it expresses layers of cherry, black currant, black licorice, plums, and violets. Upon first sip, the palate shows a smooth texture, with currant, black olive, dried dates, and truffle . Tannins are supple; the finish is long and complex. It offers the best quality for price in the entire Margaux appellation. This wine can be consumed now and will deliver an exceptional experience, but it can be cellared for a number of years. Pair with all sorts of cuisine: hearty vegetarian casseroles, roasted meats/fowl, chateaubriand.

Price: $51.99 750 ml

 

Ken's Picks


Casa E Di Mirafiore Barbera D'Alba Superiore D.O.C. 2016 14.5% abv  Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Tasting Notes: Barbera often gets relegated to second status behind the more famous Nebbiolo (which makes Barolo), but this expression is distinctive and full of character. It has a deep barn red color with orange/sepia rim. Aromas of thyme, sage, roasted plum, black licorice, black cherry, and black currant waft out of the glass. The palate is round, showing black currant, dried dates, black olive, and plums, with hints of cinnamon and orange peel on a medium long finish. Tannins have had time to integrate. A big, bold (yes, I said it!) Barbera, it is reaching its full maturity. Buy a few and drink them now-within the next couple years. Pair with all kinds of savory dishes: lasagna with red sauce, casseroles, pizza, pasta.

Price: $27.99 750 ml

 

Ken's Picks


Bottega Vinai Muller Thurgau D.O.C. 2022 12% abv.  Trentino, Italy

Tasting Notes: The grape varietal Muller Thurgau, Switzerland born and German raised, has been much maligned because of historical associations with bland, off-dry German white wines, so prevalent in the 1970's under the moniker of Liebfraumilch. However, under the careful watch of Bottega Vinai, and grown in high altitude vineyards on the Brentonico Plateau, this grape takes on verve and character. A very light straw color with green tints, it has aromas of white peach, sage, citrus, and bergamot. The palate is light, with crisp acidity, jicama, lemon zest, and a good mineral line. Quick finish. Drink now. Bring on the raclette, the classic cheese fondue, creamy vegetable soups (cream of celery comes to mind), fish dishes.

Price: $20.99 750 ml

 

Ken's Picks


Luis Pato Baga Vinho Espumante Brut N/V 12.5% abv  Bairrada, Portugal

Tasting Notes: Baga is a dark-skinned grape variety used to make red wines in the central coast of Portugal. Notable for the thickness of its grape skin in proportion to the size of the small berries, its name means "berry" or, better, "droplet", although neither of these terms capture the tannic, astringent nature of many wines made from Baga grapes. Because of its nature, it is ideally suited for the production of sparkling wine. Luis Pato, wine maker extraordinaire, has crafted an exceptional spumante from this varietal. A stunning sockeye salmon pink, it expresses cherry, raspberry, and cold cream on the nose. The palate begins with an explosive, dense, and frothy mousse, followed by a persistent and fine bead. Flavors: notes of roasted cherry, orange peel, plum, pear, and brown butter. This is a very elegant alternative to champagne (this wine is fermented in stainless steel before dosage and secondary fermentation in bottle for 9 months). Serve with appies, charcuterie. Drink now.

Price: $22.99 750 ml

 

Ken's Picks


Krolo Crljenak 2016 13.5% abv.  Kastela, Croatia

Tasting Notes: Crljenak (chirl-yen-ak): doesn't quite trip off the tongue, but let me translate for you: Zinfandel! This venerable variety spent centuries in its home of Croatia before trekking across first to Italy, where it became Primitivo, and then to California, where it became Zinfandel. If you want to surprise your Zinfandel loving relatives with a Christmas gift, then this wine is exactly what you are looking for. The wine expresses its Croatian terroir beautifully: a deep ox blood red with an impenetrable black center, it shows a complex perfume of plums, prunes, tarragon, cherry compote, and toasted oak. The palate starts with dried fruit: dates, sultanas, and prunes, then migrates to tones of roast beef, with butterscotch and caramel wrapping up. Medium to long finish. The tannins are still very present but they help to delineate the wine and prevent jammy notes. It can still get better but it's extremely tasty right now. Pair with roasted foods, hard cheeses. Drink now-2027 ish.

Price: $51.99 750 ml

 

Ken's Picks


Montes Alpha Syrah 2020 14.5% abv.  D.O. Colchagua Valley, Chile

Tasting Notes: Colchagua Valley is a fairly new wine-producing region in Chile, as is Montes Wines, which was created in 1987. Most of the region's modern winemaking facilities have been constructed with wine tourism in mind, and as a result, Colchagua Valley is enjoying a growing reputation as Chile's 'Napa Valley'. The Montes Alpha Syrah is consistently of high quality, with its Rhone-like power and intensity. A deep purple/black ink color, it expresses a dense, concentrated nose of roasted plum, toasted cinnamon, currants and blackberries. The palate has a big, extracted mouthfeel with black currants, tar, dark chocolates, and leather notes. Tannins are still chewy. The wine has a great, long finish. An excellent value; you can drink it now but even a few short years of good cellaring will be amply rewarded! Pair with all sorts of roasted, grilled foods.

Price: $27.49 750 ml

 

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