#204-#209: Return to Normalcy Issue



Below is a summary of issue #204-209, published July 2022-June 2023. This issue is available for purchase online by clicking “Add to Cart” below.

Buy This Issue: $109

An electronic PDF of this issue will be emailed to you upon receipt of payment.

Featured in This Issue


Looking Up: The Glass is More than Half-Full On-Premise

Recommended Wines:

A Range of Top Quality-Great Value Wines from 12 Countries

Focus on California and Washington State Wines:

  • Outstanding wines from Russian River Valley, including wonderful Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, and Syrahs) from Bucher, Cirq, Domaine de la Riviere, Dutton Estate, Dutton-Goldfield, Freeman, Gary Farrell, J. Cage, Kanzler, Lombardi, Merry Edwards, Moshin, Patz & Hall, Ramey, Three Sticks, Tongue Dancer, and more.
  • Recent vintages of California Cabernet Sauvignon have produced some of the state’s best ever wines. We are particularly impressed with Ramey’s Pedregal bottling; two Cornerstone Cabernets (Calistoga, Rutherford); Mira’s fine M-Bar Ranch; Silverado Vineyards’ terrific GEO; and all three Newton district bottlings (Spring Mountain, Yountville, Mt. Veeder)—the finest reds we have tasted from the winery… The same for Corison’s Cabernets (St. Helena and Sunbasket Vineyard)—refined, well balanced wines… St. Supery’s Elu blend is first rate, and a real bargain…
  • Cabernet Franc as a top varietal wine in its own right has truly arrived in California, as demonstrated by four remarkable versions—L’Autre Cote ‘Wine Club’, Livermore Valley; Corison’s ‘Helios’ bottling from Sunbasket Vineyard, St. Helena; Oakville Ranch’s ‘Robert’s (95% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon), and Hyde Estate’s Carneros bottling… Hyde Estate’s Merlot is also one of California’s best…

Other Highlights:

  • Argentina’s red wines—particularly quality wines from the most dedicated producers—remain some of the world’s best wine values, including Malbecs from Santa Julia (Mendoza, Mendoza Reserva); Familia Bianchi (Organic Malbec); Bodega Lamadrid (Malbec Reserva); Zuccardi (Serie A Malbec); Terrazas de los Andes Malbec Reserva; Zuccardi’s outstanding Jose Zuccardi Malbec; and the stellar Zuccardi Poligonos, a wonderful single vineyard Malbec from high elevation Uco Valley vineyards. Two high end Malbecs to seek out, both from Terrazas de los Andes: Grand Malbec, and its single parcel Malbec N-12S from Lican Vineyard, in Los Chacayes, Mendoza…
    • Then some very fine Malbec blends, including those from Santa Julia (Mountain Blend); Zuccardi Q (Uco Red Blend), both of which include Cabernet Franc… Indeed, Argentine Cabernet Franc is better than it has ever been, as seen in Bodega Lamadrid’s basic Cabernet Franc; more so in its Cabernet Franc Reserva…
  • Chile’s on-going Cabernet proficiency are display in Martino’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo Valley (mostly aged in stainless steel and cement tanks), a terrific wine at the price; the Cabernet Franc-based Los Maquis ‘Maquis Lien’ (Colchagua Valley), which also includes Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon—a Bordeaux-like wine that is very complex in flavor and well balanced, with good aging capacity; and, also from Colchagua Valley, Calcu’s ‘Futa’ Cabernet Sauvignon, a high priced, concentrated yet balanced wine (13.5% alcohol) which is produced from the winery’s best parcels, blended with some Cabernet Franc, that is matured in French oak barrels. It is one of Chile’s leading red wines.
  • Roses from southern France are enjoying great success in the market—and the best of them are truly exceptional. Three examples: Blanville’s 2021 Languedoc (IGP); Chateau La Mascaronne 2022 Cotes de Provence; and Domaine de l’Ile’s 2021 Cotes de Provence. The first is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault; the second is the same, with an addition of Vermentino; and the third, which is from the coastal island of Porquerolles, is a blend of Mourvedre, Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, and Tibouren. All three roses are dry and have very distinctive character…
  • Six Superb Loire Valley Cabernet Francs recommendations (across the price spectrum) are these four fantastic Chinons from Domaine Grosbois: ‘La Cuisine de Ma Mere’; Gabare; Clos du Noyer (single vineyard); and Cloture (single parcel). And from Domaine Amirault, two wonderful Cabernet Francs from Bourgueil: Le Fondis; and Le Vau Renou. All six Loire wines are 100% Cabernet Franc; those from Grosbois saw little—or no—oak aging…
  • 300+ top German white wines, both dry and fruity, from the 2020 and 2021 vintages, which focuses primarily on Riesling and Silvaner, largely from outstanding VDP estates, including:
    • Bassermann-Jordan, Castell, Domdechant Werner, Donnhoff, Dr. Heger, Dr. Loosen, Wwe. Dr. Thanisch (Erben Thanisch) Emrich-Schonleber, Fritz Haag, Geltz Zilliken, Graf Neipperg, Hans Wirsching, Johannishof, Joh. Jos. Prum, Kloster Eberbach, Maximin Grunhaus, Muller-Catoir, Pfeffingen, Prinz Salm, Prinz von Hessen, S.A. Prum, Schloss Saarstein, Schloss Vollrads, Von Buhl, Von Hovel, Von Kesselstatt, Wagner-Stempel, Willi Schaefer, and Wittmann.
  • Extraordinary Italian wines, focusing on red wines from Piedmont and Tuscany; the white and red wines of Montefalco; and white, rose, and red wines from Etna DOC, an emerging great wine region, which is perhaps most fascinating we have ever visited.
    • Top producers from Piedmont whose wines we review include: Luca Bosio, Luigi Einaudi, Marcarini, and Gaudio. And from Tuscany: Boscarelli, Fontodi, Le Fonti di Panzano, Nittardi, Nozzole, and Rocca di Montegrossi. Producers we highlight from Montefalco include: Antonelli San Marco, Arnaldo-Caprai, Benedetti & Grigi, Bocale, Goretti, La Fonte, Lunelli, Perticaia, Scacciadiovoli, and Terra de la Custodia.
  • South Africa: Chenin Blanc is a long established variety in South Africa, and yields some the country’s best white wines—and blends, as is the case with the wonderful A.A. Badenhorst ‘Secateurs’, a Chenin-based blend that includes small amounts of Semillon and Grenache Blanc… Meanwhile, Fairview has adopted more of a traditional French blend for its Goats do Roam white; a blend of Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc… The country also produces very fine Sauvignon Blancs, particularly in the Western Cape, and notably in South Africa’s Constantia wine region, where the Buitenverwachting ‘Bayten’ Sauvignon Blanc is truly excellent, and moderately priced… Among Rose wines, DeMorgenson’s DMZ Rose—a Rhone-styled blend, based on Grenache—is simply delicious… Taaibosch’s Crescendo is an outstanding Cabernet Franc blend from this fine Stellenbosch winery… The Wolftrap blends from Boekenhoutskloof winery—white, rose, and red—are consistently excellent wines at modest prices… Terre Brulee’s ‘Le Rouge’ is a superb Shiraz blend that is surprisingly inexpensive… A rich, more powerful red is the impressive Spice Route ‘Chakalaka’, a Rhone-style blend from 6 varieties, from Swartland grapes.
  • Spain: The Rueda region is producing some of Spain’s best value, quality dry white wines from the Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc varieties. Verdejos we especially recommend are those from Hermanos del Villar ‘Oro de Castilla’, Naia, Shaya, and Montepedroso; and Sauvignons from Pita and Diez Siklos ‘Nekora’..
    • Spanish reds based on Tempranillo include many of the country’s best—and best value—wines. Some that we highlight in our reviews: Finca Antigua’s Tempranillo & ‘Unico’ (a Tempranillo blend), from La Mancha; Carlos Serres Rioja Crianza & Rioja Reserva; Bodegas Muriel ‘Fincas de la Villa’ Rioja Reserva; Labastida ‘Manuel Quintano Seleccion Particular’ Rioja; Rolland Galarreta Ribera del Duero; and Domino de Cair ‘Seleccion la Aguilera’ Ribera del Duero—all very modestly priced…
      Another top Rioja is the Baigorri ‘Belus’, a field blend that is 85% Mazuelo (Carignane), an authorized variety that only accounts for roughly 3% of Rioja’s vineyard area. It is a terrific wine…. Three other outstanding varietal wines from Finca Antingua—Garnacha, Syrah, and Petit Verdot (all La Mancha)—are full bodied and very distinctive wines, at modest prices.