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Our Critics' Picks for February 2017
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Critic's Pick

Domaine Faury
2014 St-Joseph Vieilles Vignes


Where to Buy
Lionel Faury makes this wine from about two acres of syrah, the oldest vines dating to 1937, the youngest to 1976. He vinifies it like he does his other St-Joseph, destemming about three-quarters of the fruit, leaving it to ferment in temperature-controlled vats for 15 to 20 days, then resting it for a year in a mix of large and small oak barrels, mostly old. It smells awesome, floral and spicy, with a freshness that's invigorating; it tastes just as good, the sun-kissed ripeness of the black fruit melding with cold, hard mineral tones into a seamless expanse of dark flavor. For all its density, it feels agile and energetic, a youthful St-Joseph to enjoy now or cellar another five or ten years. Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CATara Q. Thomas

White Wine of the Month

2015 Eden Valley The Virgilius Viognier


Where to Buy
Louisa Rose, chief winemaker at Yalumba, presents this viognier as the winery's flagship white wine. In fact, the variety has found a home in Eden Valley over the past 35 years, producing firm, mineral-inflected wines that show viognier's character in their voluptuous textures rather than in pungent perfume. There's nothing blunt or aggressive about this wine, selected from mature vines, fermented without added yeast in what Rose describes as "mature" French oak barriques and puncheons, where it later rests with the lees for ten months. Stirring the lees adds to the textural fatness, as well as the complex layering of fleshy grapefruit and passion fruit flavors. While the wine hints at lavender and lanolin, it's not very aromatic, focused more on the mineral underpinning of its structure. A wine to cellar, it's also one you could decant now, especially with a bowl of crab laksa, the spicy Malaysian coconut milk soup. Negociants USA, Napa, CAJoshua Greene

White Discovery

2014 Marlborough The Brothers Sauvignon Blanc


Where to Buy
This wine offers the generous textural richness of a well-grown Marlborough sauvignon while finishing clean and tight. Its gentle silkiness carries notes of floral honey, passion fruit and persimmon, sweet in the middle, dry in the end. That range of fruit character reflects the diversity of fruit sources, from five vineyards in Awatere and Wairau, all made and aged separately before blending. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits, Petaluma, CAJoshua Greene

Red Wine of the Month

2014 El Dorado Mourvedre


Where to Buy
It's easy to fall for this charming mourvedre, which winemaker Chris Pittenger sources from four different sites planted from 1,300 to 2,700 feet in elevation. The late-ripening variety flourishes in the Foothills' hot summers and volcanic soils. Like many Sierra Foothills mourvedre plantings, these vines are still young, yet this shows just how fresh and lithe the wines can be—it lasts with an herbal savor and a strawberry-red brightness that's delicious, and feels like the product of very happy vines. (237 cases) Skinner Vineyards, Fair Play, CALuke Sykora

Red Discovery

Fabre Montmayou
2014 Mendoza Reserva Malbec


Where to Buy
From Las Compuertas, one of the highest and coolest points in Luján de Cuyo, this malbec shows the depth of flavor that can come from centenarian vines—these were planted in 1908. It's almost bloody in character, with profound red fruit flavors and a supple, tender texture. Pair it now with pork in a Dijon sauce. Elixir Wine Group, Bend, ORPatricio Tapia

Fortified Wine of the Month

2011 Porto LBV


Where to Buy
David Guimaraens blends this wine from Fonseca Vintage lots that do not make the final cut, along with wines initially designated for LBV. He bottles the wine unfined and unfiltered, intending it to be decanted. His 2011 is remarkable: It has the succulent fruit depths of the Fonseca style, and the intensity of a Vintage-level wine. You could quibble and say the tannins are not Vintage quality, with some rhubarb-like astringency, or the wine is too big and powerful for an LBV. But you're not likely to find many LBVs with this full-on ripeness, extraordinary lusciousness and complex flavor length. It's one of several outstanding LBVs from the 2011 vintage, which we covered in depth in our December 2016 issue. Kobrand, Purchase, NYJoshua Greene

Upcoming Wine Events from The W&S Calendar

February 23-25/California
Zinfandel Experience
San Francisco

February 17-18/New York

February 18-19/California
Boston Wine Expo
Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center

February 18/California
SF Chronicle Wine Competition
Public Tasting

February 25-26/California
Int'l Alsace Varietals Festival
Anderson Valley

February 2017 Issue Available Now

Eat | Drink: Flagstaff, AZ
Once a stop on the way to the Grand Canyon, this southwestern mountain town has become a destination in its own right, says Elaine Chukan-Brown, dishing on the best new bars and restaurants.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Mourvèdre on the Rise
Accelerated growing seasons are shifting the balance from grenache toward mourvèdre in some of the top vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Josh Raynolds reports from the Rhône.

The Rescue Paradox: Mourvedre in California
Amid concerns about drought and climate change, a few Sunshine State growers and winemakers are looking toward mourvedre, and revealing a completely different expression of the variety, says Luke Sykora.