Host’s Guide Holiday 2012: Winter Vintages

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“We are born at a given moment, in a given place,” reflected the eminent psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, “and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season of which we are born.”

 

The similarities between people and fine wines are many. Like a full-bodied California Cabernet, some of us are vibrant and effusive in our youth, while others start out as withdrawn or reserved as a young grand cru Burgundy from the Côte de Nuits. Yet time and experience temper our excesses and reveal our true inner character. To say that we improve with age suggests that something is lacking from the start; but we do evolve, and our personalities acquire nuances that reflect the different stages of our lives.

 

Particularly during this season, when young and old alike celebrate these milestones, we take special care to match the right wine to the right personality—at the right moment. Whether one is selecting a gift or hosting a holiday gathering, pairing wines with people is a delicate matter. To assist in this endeavor, we have assembled our annual list of 100 bottles, each with its own unique persona. These outstanding offerings are grouped in a convenient chart according to their styles; more detailed descriptions of each release can be found in the alphabetical listings that follow.

BIG, BOLD, AND RICH

Amuse Bouche 2010 Merlot Napa Valley

Au Sommet 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Bello Family Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Rutherford

Bond Estate 2008 Vecina Napa Valley

Château Pavie 2009 St.-Émilion

Craggy Range 2010 Le Sol Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Hawke’s Bay

E. Guigal 2008 Côte-Rôtie La Landonne

Hall 2009 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon

Joseph Drouhin 2009 Musigny Grand Cru

Lokoya 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder

Marchesi Antinori 2008 Solaia Toscana

Mt. Brave 2009 Malbec Mt. Veeder

Penfolds 2007 Grange South Australia

Vin Perdu 2010 Napa Valley

CLASSIC BALANCE AND FINESSE

Blackbird Vineyards 2009 Illustration Proprietary Red Wine

Chappellet 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Pritchard Hill

Château Haut-Brion 2009 Pessac-Léognan

Colgin 2009 IX Estate Proprietary Red Wine

Dominus Estate 2009 Red Wine Napa Valley

Fattoria le Pupille 2007 Saffredi Maremma Toscana

Frank Family 2008 Winston Hill Rutherford

Harlan Estate 2008 Proprietary Red Napa Valley

Le Macchiole 2008 Messorio Toscana

Louis Jadot 2009 Clos Vougeot Grand Cru

Marchesi Antinori Guado al Tasso 2008 Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore

Michele Chiarlo 2009 Barbaresco Asili

O’Shaughnessy Estate Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder

Rodney Strong 2009 Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

Spottswoode 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia 2009 Ornellaia Toscana

STRUCTURED & EARTHY

Armand Rousseau 2008 Chambertin Grand Cru

Badia a Coltobuono 2007 Sangioveto di Toscana

Brewer-Clifton 2009 Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard

Capiaux Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard

Dana Estate 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Lotus Vineyard

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2009 La Tâche Grand Cru

En Route 2010 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Les Pommiers

Inman Family 2009 Pinot Noir Olivet Grange Vineyard

Kenzo 2009 Ai

Monteverro 2008Terra di Monteverro

San Felice 2007 Pugnitello de San Felice

Staglin Family Vineyards 2009 Ineo Napa Valley

Tenuta San Guido 2009 Sassicaia

Vérité 2008 La Joie

Vineyard Seven and Eight 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

RIPE AND FRUITY

Archery Summit 2009 Arcus Estate Pinot Noir

Beckman 2009 Grenache Purisima Mountain Vineyard

Freeman 2010 Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch

Hundred Acre 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Ark Vineyard

JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset No. 3 Pinot Noir

Paul Jaboulet Ainée 2009 Hermitage La Chapelle

PharaohMoans 2010 Paso Robles West Side Red Wine

Pine Ridge 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Fortis

Promise 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

SPICE AND WOOD

Bouchard Finlayson 2009 Hannibal Walker Cape South Africa

Castiglion del Bosco 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Campo del Drago

Domaine Faiveley 2009 Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru

Longoria 2009 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard

Marchesi Antinori 2009 Tignanello Toscana

Masi 2007 Amarone di Valpolicella Costasera Riserva

Pali Wine Co. 2010 Pinot Noir Cargasacchi Vineyard

Qupé 2007 Syrah Bien Nacido Hillside

Tenuta degli Dei 2009 Cavalli Toscana

Vall Llach 2007 Vall Llach Priorat

FULL-BODIED WHITES AND ROSÉS

Aubert 2010 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Reuling Vineyard

Camille Giroud 2009 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

Château d’Esclans 2010 Côtes de Provence Rosé Les Clans

Domaine Leflaive 2009 Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru

Gary Farrell 2009 Chardonnay Westside Farms Russian River Valley

J. Rocchioli 2010 Chardonnay Russian River Valley Rachael’s Vineyard

Joseph Drouhin 2009 Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot Marquis de Laguiche Premier Cru

Louis Jadot 2009 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

M. Chapoutier 2009 Ermitage L’Ermite Blanc

Olivier Leflaive 2009 Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru

Paul Hobbs 2010 Chardonnay Cuvée Agustina Richard Dinner Vineyard

Prête à Boire 2011 Rosé Napa Valley

CRISP, LEAN WHITES

Captûre Winery 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Les Pionniers

Diatom 2010 Kodo Chardonnay Santa Rita Hills

Inama 2010 Vingetti di Foscarino Soave Classico

Kenzo 2011 Asatsuyu

La Sirena 2011 Moscato Azul

Spring Mountain Vineyards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

SPARKLING

Charles Heidsieck 1995 Blanc des Millenaires

Dom Pérignon 2003 Brut Champagne

Dom Pérignon 1992 Oenothèque Rosé Brut Champagne

Domaine Carneros by Taiitinger 2006 Le Rêve

Krug Grande Cuvée Brut Champagne NV

Perrier-Jouet 2004 Belle Époque Florale Edition

Piper Heidsieck Millésime 2002 Brut Champagne Rare

Pol Roger 2000 Brut Blanc de Blancs

Salon 1999 Blanc de Blancs Champagne Le Mesnil

Schramsberg 2004 Reserve

DESSERTS

Château Climens 2009 Barsac

Château D’Yquem 2009 Sauternes

Darioush 2007 Shahpar Late Harvest

Donnafugata 2009 Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria

Royal Tokaji 2005 Betsek

AMUSE BOUCHE 2010 MERLOT NAPA VALLEY

This Pomerol-style wine by Heidi Barrett, with its deeply saturated flavors of black cherry and cocoa, is as playful and lively as the original artwork that each year graces its label. This vintage features two paintings by the late Tony Curtis. ($225)

ARCHERY SUMMIT 2009 ARCUS ESTATE PINOT NOIR

This outstanding Oregon producer made just over 500 of this superb Pinot Noir, which teases the nose with the soft scent of dried roses and envelops the taste buds with jammy blackberry and cinnamon spice. ($90)

ARKENSTONE 2009 ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC

Redolent of honeysuckle and brimming with scents of melon, white strawberries, and lemongrass, this crisp, clean Sauvignon Blanc offers as much complexity and length as any Chardonnay from Chablis. ($60)

AU SOMMET 2009 CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY

The pinnacle of perfection, this high-altitude Cabernet from Napa Valley’s Atlas Peak region layers flavors of black cherry, dried herbs, and menthol atop a remarkably powerful structure. ($275)

AUBERT 2010 CHARDONNAY SONOMA COAST REULING VINEYARD

Winemaker Mark Aubert brings to his Chardonnay all the finesse, structure, and purity that have characterized the Bordeaux-style wines he has made for such labels as Colgin, Sloan, and Peter Michael. Delicious essences of cool vanilla, baked apple, pear, and sweet mint melt on the tongue. ($151)

BADIA A COLTIBUONO 2007 SANGIOVETO DI TOSCANA

From one of the most storied producers in Chianti Classico, this 100-percent Sangiovese exudes poignant aromas of peony, plum, wild strawberry, rhubarb, anise, and mint. ($60)

BECKMEN 2009 GRENACHE PURISIMA MOUNTAIN VINEYARD

This delightfully tart rendition of Grenache has great intensity and depth, showing bright notes of red currant, cranberry, and raspberry supported by leather undertones and substantial yet soft tannins. ($52)

BELLO FAMILY VINEYARDS 2009 CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE RUTHERFORD

The result of a collaboration between farm manager David Abreu and winemaker Aaron Pott, this Rutherford Cab is pure black velvet: Its flavors of black plum and licorice glide across the palate atop an almost impossibly silky texture. ($100)

BLACKBIRD VINEYARDS 2009 ILLUSTRATION PROPRIETARY RED WINE

The signature blend from this Oak Knoll District producer, this masterful Pomerol-style blend—another creation from winemaker Aaron Pott—unfolds on the palate with ripe cherry, coffee, and caramel notes that lead to an earthy finish enlivened by bright acidity. ($125)

BOND ESTATES 2008 VECINA NAPA VALLEY

Among the more fascinating aspects of this tour de force from Bond Estates are its unique aroma and flavor profiles, which combine the power and ripeness typical of Napa Valley Cabernet with some of the savory characteristics of a fine Northern Rhône, including deep leather, tobacco, soy, and peppercorn notes. ($275)

BOUCHARD FINLAYSON 2009 HANNIBAL WALKER BAY WESTERN CAPE SOUTH AFRICA

This unusual South African blend of Italian (Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera) and French (Pinot Noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre) varietals has a surprisingly subtle, smooth, and earthy profile dominated by wild-berry, smoke, and mineral essences. ($43)

BREWER-CLIFTON 2009 PINOT NOIR CLOS PEPE VINEYARD

This tightly wound, immensely structured Pinot Noir from this pedigreed vineyard in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Rita Hills region displays essences of wild strawberry, porcini mushroom, and subtle notes of ferrous minerality on the finish. ($48)

CAMILLE GIROUD 2009 CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU

Vibrant yet supple, this glittering example of Corton-Charlemagne from the storied négociant is perfumed with lime blossom, and its flavors of citrus, honeydew, and lemongrass unfold before an extended finish. ($175)

CAPIAUX CELLARS 2010 PINOT NOIR PISONI VINEYARD

A dense and inky-purple Pinot Noir, this magnificent red is redolent of violets, rose petals, and blackberry, yet on the palate, floral and fruit notes play a supporting role to mushroom and sweet pine essences. ($52)

CAPTÛRE 2011 SAUVIGNON BLANC LES PIONNIERS

Faceted and sparkling as a pale-yellow diamond, this sensuous yet cerebral Sauvignon Blanc combines scents of gardenia and spring mint with enticing flavors of candied citrus, creamy pear, and tangy peach. ($45)

CARDINALE 2008 NAPA VALLEY

This superb Bordeaux-style blend tempers the natural tannic force of Napa Valley’s hillside and mountain vineyards with flawless balance, a silky texture, and intricately layered expressions of lavender, boysenberry, and exotic wood. ($250)

CASTIGLION DEL BOSCO 2006 BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO CAMPO DEL DRAGO

This superbly articulated Sangiovese requires cellaring to achieve its full potential, yet even in its youth, the wine abounds with notes of brambleberry fruit, wood spice, sweet tobacco, white pepper, and laurel leaf. ($70)

CHAPPELLET 2009 CABERNET SAUVIGNON PRITCHARD HILL

This elegant and restrained Cabernet’s nose of crushed violets and blueberry precedes flavors of boysenberry, coffee, and sweet sandalwood on the palate. ($135)

CHARLES HEIDSIECK 1995 BLANC DES MILLÉNAIRES

This magical blanc de blancs radiates a magnificent pale-golden color and teases the nose with aromas of candied cherry, orange zest, and toasted almonds. ($170)

CHÂTEAU CLIMENS 2009 BARSAC

Luxuriously textured, this Barsac brings its honey, peach, apricot, hazelnut, and toasted-oat flavors to a clean, resonant, and pinpoint finish. ($150)

CHÂTEAU D’ESCLANS 2010 CÔTES DE PROVENCE ROSÉ LES CLANS

Though summer remains for most the favorite season for sipping rosé, this exquisitely dense and stupendously structured iteration offers enough plum, ginger, and black-cherry flavors to stand up to even the heaviest holiday menu. ($65)

CHATEAU D’YQUEM 2009 SAUTERNES

This vintage of Sauternes’s most legendary wine presents a particularly floral profile, sending up soft perfumes of honeysuckle and jasmine. On the palate, dried apricot, candied orange, hazelnut, and honeycomb culminate in a crisp, acid finish. ($800)

CHATEAU HAUT-BRION 2009 PESSAC-LÉOGNAN

Despite its alcohol level of 14.3 percent, the latest release from this First Growth remains a remarkably smooth composition of red cherry and raspberry fruit leavened by traces of clove and graphite. ($1,050)

CHÂTEAU PAVIE 2009 ST.-ÉMILION

Sensual and dark, this near-perfect St.-Émilion layers bittersweet-chocolate, tobacco, and roasted-coffee notes atop black currant and plum fruit. ($294)

COLGIN 2009 IX ESTATE PROPRIETARY RED WINE

Another flawless red from Ann Colgin’s flagship vineyard, this blend of Bordeaux varietals exquisitely integrates flavors of blackberry fruit with dried chaparral, anise, and granite. ($325)

CRAGGY RANGE 2010 LE SOL GIMBLETT GRAVELS VINEYARD HAWKES BAY

Consistently among New Zealand’s finest red wines, this outstanding blue-black Syrah lades the palate with hefty helpings of blackberry liqueur, sweet tar, baked fig, licorice, and dried game. ($100)

DANA ESTATES 2009 CABERNET SAUVIGNON LOTUS VINEYARD

This generous single-vineyard Cabernet blossoms on the nose with scents of violet, lilac, and red currant, while on the palate it takes an earthy turn, revealing flavors of leather, tobacco, and coffee. ($325)

DARIOUSH 2007 LATE HARVEST SHAHPAR

This limited-production, late-harvest wine is a veritable confiture of apricot, candied orange zest, vanilla, and toasted hazelnut. ($70/375 mL)

DIATOM 2010 KODO CHARDONNAY SANTA RITA HILLS

With his own label, which focuses entirely on Chardonnay, Greg Brewer has refined this varietal to its essence. This expression combines the scent of white lilies with peach fruit, wet granite, and steely acidity. ($36)

DOM PÉRIGNON 2003 BRUT CHAMPAGNE

Though many houses did not declare a vintage in 2003, Dom Pérignon delivered this dramatic sparkling wine, whose weightless richness is infused with essences of hibiscus, butterscotch, pear, smoky cumin, brioche, and seashell-like minerality. ($159)

DOM PÉRIGNON 1992 OENOTHÈQUE ROSÉ BRUT CHAMPAGNE

This newly rereleased vintage in the house’s Oenothèque series has a pronounced fragrance of peonies and concentrated flavors of cherry, cantaloupe, loquat, marmalade, and vanilla. ($699)

DOMAINE ARMAND ROUSSEAU 2008 CHAMBERTIN GRAND CRU

A fine, silky, earthy rendering of Pinot Noir from Chambertin, this red Burgundy treats the senses to a medley of rose petals and soft Indian-spice scents followed by bright, acidic red-raspberry fruit. ($455)

DOMAINE CARNEROS BY TAITTINGER 2006 LE RÊVE

Resplendent with aromas of honeysuckle, citrus blossom, jasmine, white peach, and pear, this 100-percent Chardonnay exhibits restrained yet refreshing flavors of vanilla, buttery pastry, and marzipan. ($95)

DOMAINE DE LA ROMANÉE-CONTI 2009 LA TÂCHE GRAND CRU

At once delicate and powerful, this pure expression of Pinot Noir from the famed monopole is perfumed with dark plum fruit and unfolds gradually on the palate with notes of blackberry, Moroccan spice, leather, and mint. ($1,250–$1,400)

DOMAINE FAIVELEY 2009 CHAMBERTIN CLOS DE BÈZE GRAND CRU

This grand cru delivers concentrated wild-berry notes on the nose as well as on the palate, where its ripeness is balanced by sweet smoke and licorice. ($385)

DOMAINE LEFLAIVE 2009 BÂTARD-MONTRACHET GRAND CRU

This monumental white combines intense expressions of citrus and peach fruit with delicate traces of granite, hazelnut, and tar. ($475)

DOMINUS ESTATE 2009 RED WINE NAPA VALLEY

This dark gem glitters in the glass and on the tongue, where flavors of black cherry, boysenberry, sweet tar, and allspice meld in a precise and memorable finish. ($179)

DONNAFUGATA 2009 BEN RYÉ PASSITO DI PANTELLERIA

This sweet, golden wine made from the Zibbibo grape on the Sicilian island of Pantelleria shines with amber highlights and teases the taste buds with notes of apricot jam, baked fig, honeycomb, and dried thyme. ($40/375 mL)

E. GUIGAL 2008 CÔTE-RÔTIE LA LANDONNE

This red Rhône has bouillon-like concentration, blending brandied plum fruit with dried herbs, espresso, dark chocolate, and sweet smoke. ($224)

ENROUTE 2010 PINOT NOIR RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY LES POMMIERS

First introduced with the superbly aromatic 2007 vintage, this Russian River Valley Pinot Noir offers sophisticated scents of rose petal and pomegranate and saturated flavors of red cherry, cranberry, and sandalwood. ($65)

FATTORIA LE PUPILLE 2007 SAFFREDI MAREMMA TOSCANA

This Super Tuscan from Maremma broods with aromas of wild berry, coffee, and roses and enlivens the palate with its silky texture and notes of cassis and red apple. ($100)

FRANK FAMILY 2008 WINSTON HILL RUTHERFORD

This classic hillside Cabernet maintains perfect poise between power and finesse, integrating ripe wild berry and black cherry with satiny tannins. ($150)

FREEMAN 2010 PINOT NOIR KEEFER RANCH

This stylish Pinot from Akiko and Ken Freeman gushes with raspberry, black cherry, and refreshing grapefruit acidity. ($48)

GARY FARRELL 2009 CHARDONNAY WESTSIDE FARMS RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY

This small-production Chardonnay is a creamy composition of pear, vanilla, and toasted hazelnut enhanced with a hint of lemon zest. ($38)

HALL 2009 KATHRYN HALL CABERNET SAUVIGNON

This signature cuvée will appeal to lovers of unabashedly big Cabernet from Napa—dark, extracted, and rich with essences of boysenberry, bittersweet chocolate, and roasted coffee. ($110)

HARLAN ESTATE 2008 PROPRIETARY RED NAPA VALLEY

Grace in liquid form, this Oakville beauty has a consistency and concentration like crème de cassis laced with anise, chocolate, and a piquant touch of char. ($750)

 

HUNDRED ACRE 2008 CABERNET SAUVIGNON ARK VINEYARD

This superb Cabernet greets the senses with a supernova of blackberry and black-raspberry fruit, yet this burst of ripeness gives way to gentle waves of earth and spice. ($300)

INAMA 2010 SOAVE CLASSICO VIGNETI DI FOSCARINO 

This light-gold Soave offers up a surprisingly fleshy nose of peach, ripe lemon, and pineapple, but its fruit is restrained on the palate, allowing its crisp acidity and wet-stone minerality to permeate the senses. ($24)

INMAN FAMILY 2009 PINOT NOIR OLIVET GRANGE VINEYARD

Organically grown and exactingly crafted, this stellar Pinot Noir presents its dark side first—blackberry, ground coffee, cocoa, and grilled bread—before introducing more subtle notes of rhubarb, raspberry, and ruby grapefruit. ($56)

J. ROCHIOLI 2010 CHARDONNAY RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY RACHAEL’S VINEYARD

An expansive rendering of Chardonnay, this single-vineyard white leaves the palate awash in white peach, orange, and lime flavors. ($72)

JCB BY JEAN-CHARLES BOISSET NO. 3 PINOT NOIR

A native of Burgundy, vintner Jean-Charles Boisset has long dreamed of creating a wine that expresses his roots both in France and in California. Combining grapes from the Côte de Nuits and the Russian River Valley, this lush blend of black cherry, cocoa, and herbs lingers deliciously on the finish. ($123)

JOSEPH DROUHIN 2009 CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET MORGEOT MARQUIS DE LAGUICHE PREMIER CRU

This winsome white is redolent of lemon blossom, and flavors of ripe lemon-lime dominate on the palate, though a gentle sea brine emerges on the finish. ($115)

JOSEPH DROUHIN 2009 MUSIGNY GRAND CRU

This is red Burgundy at its most magnificent—at once subtle and powerful, replete with intense wild-strawberry and cherry fruit, mushrooms, rosemary, and deep mineral essences. ($600)

KENZO ESTATE 2009 AI

The flagship Bordeaux-style blend from Kenzo Estate, Ai (Japanese for indigo) abounds in blueberry, loam, and leather essences that overlie its colossal structure. ($250)

KENZO ESTATE 2011 ASATSUYU

This delightful Sauvignon Blanc takes its name from the Japanese for morning dew—an image that aptly prefigures its mouthwatering assortment of honeysuckle, citrus, and lemongrass notes. ($80)

 

KRUG GRANDE CUVÉE BRUT CHAMPAGNE NV

The soul of Krug, this NV brut enrobes the mouth with its seafoam texture, gently dispersing flavors of green apple, ginger, cherry lozenge, and briny mineral. ($140)

LA SIRENA 2011 MOSCATO AZUL

Though the Moscato grape is associated most often with sweet wines, this white—which presents a gorgeous medley of honeysuckle and peach—is clean, crisp, and mineral driven. ($30)

LE MACCHIOLE 2008 MESSORIO TOSCANA

This 100-percent Merlot from Bolgheri has brooding blueberry fruit, but its overriding personality is one of silky tannins, impeccable structure, and understated, earthy flavors of cocoa and coffee. ($180)

LOKOYA 2008 CABERNET SAUVIGNON MT. VEEDER

The most powerful and densely structured of the four wines in this producer’s portfolio, this Mt. Veeder Cabernet has an impenetrable bluish-black color that portends the dark elements of spice, char, and anise that emerge on the palate. ($350)

LONGORIA 2009 PINOT NOIR FE CIEGA VINEYARD

From Longoria’s estate vineyard, this Pinot Noir combines a round, juicy flavor profile of ripe cherry with more angular notes of dried sage, tobacco leaf, and toasted wood. ($48)

LOUIS JADOT 2009 CLOS VOUGEOT GRAND CRU

This marvelous expression of Pinot from one of the Côte de Nuits’ great grand crus has a luscious mouthfeel and abundant red fruit, but its most tantalizing trait is its heady floral bouquet. ($179)

LOUIS JADOT 2009 CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU

This graceful white Burgundy offers a delicate lemon-lime aroma and a splendid assortment of green-apple, peach, and mint flavors. ($189)

M. CHAPOUTIER 2009 ERMITAGE L’ERMITE BLANC

A tropical sensation, this creamy, full-bodied white Rhône bursts forth with coconut, mango, and banana, as well as ripe fig. ($325)

MARCHESI ANTINORI 2008 GUADO AL TASSO BOLGHERI SUPERIORE

This gorgeous Bordeaux-style blend from Bolgheri is beautifully paced on the palate, gradually unfolding its layers of black currant, dried sage, and graphite. ($100)

MARCHESI ANTINORI 2008 SOLAIA TOSCANA

This superb small-production wine is alluringly dark—an inky infusion of black cherry, blackberry, dark chocolate, anise, and roasted coffee. ($325)

MARCHESI ANTINORI 2009 TIGNANELLO TOSCANA

The sister wine of Solaia, this scintillating Sangiovese blend permeates the senses, revealing essences of spiced black cherry, tea, cigar box, and baked clay. ($105)

MASI 2007 AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA RISERVA DI COSTASERA

Redolent of violets and dried bing cherry, this opaque Amarone has a finely wrought tannic structure and bright, fruity acids spiced with black pepper, tea, and cocoa. ($95)

MICHELE CHIARLO 2009 BARBARESCO ASILI

The intensity of fragrance rising from this masterful Barbaresco draws the nose down into the glass to take in its rose-petal, peony, and cherry-blossom aromas. On the palate, this wine is supple and splendidly structured. ($90)

MONTEVERRO 2008 TERRA DI MONTEVERRO TOSCANA

At once rustic and refined, this Bordeaux-style blend from southern Tuscany contains a cornucopia of flavors: cassis, boysenberry, grilled bread, black olive, and white mushroom. ($75)

MT. BRAVE 2009 MALBEC MT. VEEDER

This dark-hued elixir conjures up delicious notes of black raspberry, anise, allspice,

and sarsaparilla. ($60)

O’SHAUGHNESSY ESTATE WINERY 2009 CABERNET SAUVIGNON MT. VEEDER

Though the backbone of this massive mountain Cabernet consists of flinty mineral and brawny tannins, it nevertheless reveals, even in extreme youth, a fleshy outward personality of ripe wild berry, black fig, and spearmint. ($100)

OLIVIER LEFLAIVE 2009 BÂTARD-MONTRACHET GRAND CRU

This wine showcases the richer side of white Burgundy from the Côte de Beaune, displaying essences of vanilla ice cream, caramel, and candied pineapple followed by bracing acidity. ($325)

PALI WINE CO. 2010 PINOT NOIR CARGASACCHI VINEYARD SANTA RITA HILLS

Despite its gorgeous raspberry fruit, this profoundly potable Pinot is defined by spicy elements of cinnamon, sandalwood, clove, and orange zest. ($54)

 

PAUL HOBBS 2010 CHARDONNAY CUVÉE AGUSTINA RICHARD DINNER VINEYARD SONOMA MOUNTAIN

This white’s beautiful, mineral-dominated nose of brine and light tobacco belies its luscious flavor profile of peach, pineapple, and hazelnut. ($100)

 

PAUL JABOULET AÎNÉ 2009 HERMITAGE LA CHAPELLE

This big, ripe, gamy northern Rhône red reveals unbelievable breadth and depth, displaying notes of extracted blackberry, black tea, licorice, stony minerals, dried meat, and hints of rust. ($355)

PENFOLDS 2007 GRANGE SOUTH AUSTRALIA

This blockbuster South Australian red bursts forth onto the palate with blueberry, black plum, bittersweet chocolate, and a profusion of warm, brown spices. ($600)

PERRIER-JOUËT 2004 BELLE EPOQUE FLORALE EDITION

This limited-edition bottle from the noted Champagne house was designed by Japanese artist Makoto Azuma in homage to the original by Emile Gallé. The bottle’s elaborate floral theme notwithstanding, essences of candied citrus, almond paste, and honey suffuse the wine’s flavor profile. ($199)

PHARAOHMOANS 2010 PASO ROBLES WESTSIDE RED WINE

Though its name is tongue-in-cheek, this blend of Syrah and Grenache is a true treat for the taste buds, evoking notes of concentrated blackberry, espresso, and smoked meat. ($95)

PINE RIDGE 2009 CABERNET SAUVIGNON FORTIS NAPA VALLEY

This Cabernet sourced from vineyards in Stags Leap District and the Rutherford AVA is almost dessert-like in its marriage of sweet blueberry jam, brioche, and mocha. ($150)

PIPER-HEIDSIECK MILLÉSIME 2002 BRUT CHAMPAGNE RARE

The release exudes a bouquet of blood orange, papaya, banana, and caramelized pineapple and finishes with subtle flavors of honeycomb and brine. ($180)

 

POL ROGER 2000 BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS

A perfect Champagne to pair with food, this 100-percent Chardonnay boasts grapefruit zest and crème brûlée flavors atop lemony acidity. ($130)

PRÊT À BOIRE 2011 ROSÉ NAPA VALLEY

This ready-to-drink rosé refreshes the thirsty palate with flavors of white strawberry, watermelon, raspberry, and freshly cut grass. ($75)

PROMISE 2008 CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY

A well-balanced meal in a glass, this Cabernet serves up a generous helping of blackberry followed by plum, black currant, and toffee flavors spiced with cardamom and hints of molasses. ($250)

 

QUPÉ 2007 SYRAH BIEN NACIDO HILLSIDE ESTATE

A wine crafted for the hedonist rather than the aesthete, this Syrah presents a muscular mass of blueberry and plum jam laced through with licorice and hints of baked fig. ($45)

 

RODNEY STRONG 2009 ALEXANDER’S CROWN CABERNET SAUVIGNON ALEXANDER VALLEY

A bouquet of black raspberry, black cherry, violets, mint, and chaparral precedes a bone-dry yet deliciously smoky flavor profile. ($75)

ROYAL TOKAJI 2005 BETSEK

This delectable dessert wine from the largest of Royal Tokaji’s first-growth vineyards is drenched in essences of apricot, marmalade, clover, and honeycomb. ($110)

SALON 1999 BLANC DE BLANCS CHAMPAGNE LE MESNIL

A refined, meringue-like texture prepares the taste buds for this blanc de blancs’ refined repertoire of candied lemon, ginger, and nutmeg. ($320)

SAN FELICE 2007 PUGNITELLO DE SAN FELICE

San Felice began cultivating this fascinating ancient Tuscan varietal in collaboration with the University of Florence in 1986. Aromas of dried roses and blackberry are followed on the palate by a soft medley of plum, red-apple, and charcoal flavors backed up by finely spun tannins. ($50)

SCHRAMSBERG 2004 RESERVE

Soft scents of cherry lozenge, tangerine, and almond paste rise from this effervescent wine, while a sip summons flavors of raspberry sorbet, apple pie, and hints of ginger ale. ($115)

SHAFER 2008 HILLSIDE SELECT NAPA VALLEY STAGS LEAP DISTRICT CABERNET SAUVIGNON

This signature wine from the Shafer family serves up generous helpings of blackberry, black cherry, banana, amaretto, licorice, and coffee. ($230)

SPOTTSWOODE 2009 ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON

Anyone who has forgotten what classic-style Napa Cabernet can be should sample this balanced and beautifully black composition of restrained ripeness and complex shadings of tar, licorice, and patchouli. ($145)

SPRING MOUNTAIN 2010 ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC

Steeped in expressions of white strawberry, peach, and fresh lime, this brisk Sauvignon Blanc pairs seamlessly with seafood courses and cheese. ($40)

 

STAGLIN FAMILY VINEYARD 2009 INEO NAPA VALLEY

This Bordeaux-style blend shifts through many different moods in the glass—from brooding blackberry and mellow mocha to intriguing notes of pine, flaxseed oil, thyme, and tar. ($250)

TENUTA DEGLI DEI 2009 CAVALLI TOSCANA

From Italian designer Roberto Cavalli and his son Tommaso, this Super Tuscan has a royal-purple color that prefigures its nose of plum and brambleberry. On the palate, its boysenberry flavors are spiced with cinnamon, dried herbs, and spearmint. ($45)

TENUTA DELL’ORNELLAIA 2009 ORNELLAIA

Sensuous, pure, and characterized by silky boysenberry-fruit, cocoa, and toasted-walnut notes, this unforgettable vintage will undoubtedly continue to flourish in the cellar. ($215)

TENUTA SAN GUIDO 2009 SASSICAIA

Big and voluptuous even for Sassicaia, the 2009 vintage departs from this wine’s usually more restrained personality, offering a riotous brew of black currant, black cherry, tanned leather, dried sage, star anise, and white pepper. ($227)

VALL LLACH 2007 VALL LLACH PRIORAT

This blend of Cariñena, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon festoons its black-fruit flavors with threads of cola, sandalwood, tarragon, black pepper, and minerals. ($95)

VÉRITÉ 2008 LA JOIE

One of California’s true viticultural masterpieces, La Joie consistently envelops its flawlessly articulated structure in opulent black fruit, silky texture, and savory layers of smoky cumin, truffle, and sweet tar. ($450)

VIN PERDU 2010 NAPA VALLEY

Heidi Barrett’s unusual blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot takes the taste buds on the wildest roller-coaster rides, presenting alternating flavors of red currant, plum, berry, grapefruit, curry, and pepper, to name but a few. ($75)

VINEYARD SEVEN AND EIGHT 2009 ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON

With its emphasis on structure, this towering red from the top of Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain engages the intellect yet, at the same time, satisfies the senses with aromas and flavors of blueberry, root beer, mushroom, and earth. ($125)

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