Best of 2015 (So Far)

"Best of" lists usually start appearing after Thanksgiving, but since we just marked the summer solstice, why not offer a halfway point list?  This isn't just recycling content, it provides a reminder of what to keep an eye out for while shopping, because if this year's buying experiences have taught me anything, it's that that you've got to scoop up what you like before it's gone.  So, these are all wines I have recently - or soon will - purchase more of.  Even the casual observer will note that the majority of these wines - three whites and eleven reds - are European...


2013 Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Blanc $10
Destined to be a house white all summer long. Bright, lively, and energetic, this refreshing blend puts a smile on your face. Plenty of fruit and a nice touch of grip round out this sensational bargain.
2013 La Crema Chardonnay Sonoma Coast $19
Whereas a lot of large production Chardonnays have decreased in quality (but not in price) with the 2013 vintage, La Crema actually steps up.  There are no surprises in this characteristic California Chard, except that it's well-made, clean, supremely enjoyable, and drinks like a lot of $30 Chards.
2013 Domaine de Velanges Macon-Prisse Les Clos $15
A chardonnay of staggering clarity and brilliance, especially at this price.  Acidity and minerality are delivered in the same focused voice, making for a balanced, sophisticated wine most pleasingly on the modest side of the fruit spectrum. 

2010 Monte Antico Tuscan Red $10
Almost 5 years old and drinking incredibly well.  There is something for everyone to love in this blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet. Balanced and as Italian as it is international in style.  An astonishing value for a beverage that delivers such enjoyment. Highly recommended.

2008 Bonacchi Rosso di Montalcino $13
This week there's only one wine you need to know about. From the same producer that brought us an incredible value in Chianti Classico last year comes this Rosso di Montalcino. Aside from costing about $7 less than most decent wines of the same designation, this one comes with some age on it. A good bit of age, actually. But the years haven't diminished the clarity or structure this quintessentially Tuscan red exudes. A lot to like here beyond the $13 price tag.

2012 Concha y Toro Cabernet Casillero del Diablo Chile $10
Full, varietally correct, and clean. Very well made and drinks like a $20+ wine. An experience I look forward to repeating very soon. 

2009 Sella y Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna $15
Said to have the highest levels of polyphenols of any wine grape, this Cannonau delivers a heady dose of swirling aromatics and acidity that keep you coming back for more.  Light-bodied, but packed with flavor.  Consummately Italian.  Lively, bright, and versatile.  Why don't I buy this by the case?

2012 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Alexander Valley $18
Must.  Get.  More.  Soon.  Very accessible and exuding everything that's great about Alexander Valley: rich, ripe Cabernet flavors framed by toasty (but unobtrusive) oak and tannins.  A terrific deal from one of California's most consistent family-owned wineries.  Bravo.
2012 Bogle Pinot Noir California $11
If other Pinot producers asked themselves if their offerings beat the dollar-for-dollar punch of this wine before they priced their own, Pinot Noir would be half the cost.  This is real Pinot Noir that triggers many pleasure points and drinks even better on day two.  Whatever it may lack in nuance and sophistication it more than makes up for in its blockbuster value.

2010 Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva $25
Chianti finesse and acidity meets broad-shouldered structure and a firm-handed delivery of unapologetic flavor.  Incredibly versatile - as companionable with a grilled ribeye as it is with a past and fish dish.  Easily the best Chianti I've had in years.
2004 Barreri e Rovati Barolo Riserva $20
It's a tease to put this on the list because I don't believe there's any more of it out there.  Powerful, tight, electric Cashmere tannins with positively soaring phenolics give way to a building shape that commands basso profundo attention without obesity. The lingering, sexy finish seduces again and again. A complete Barolo with 10+ years on it for a quarter the going price for a similar experience.
2012 Columbia Crest Merlot $8  
As consistent and bulletproof a wine as you could ask for.  Fruit, structure, and heft for a bargain basement price.

2013 Fattoria del Cerro Chianti Colli Senesi $12
Harmonious, gentle, pleasing, and life-affirming. Love it and love drinking this bright wine.  Case buy that I can no longer keep to myself.  I've reached for this wine to go with everything from Bolognese to grilled salmon.
2011 Schild Estate GMS Barossa $15
Without a doubt the most exciting, unusual, and surprising wine I've had in months. It's jammed with big Pinot Noir-like qualities: smoke, delicate fruit framed by intricate acidity, and a tarryness typically found only in coastal, higher altitude vineyards. Were I to taste of this blind, I would guess at a $60 or more Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast.