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Our Critics' Picks for January
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Wine & Spirits Wine of the Month Selections from Our Critics • December 2016
 

Critic's Pick

95
Finca Tobella
2011 Priorat Selecció Especial
(Best Buy)
$35
American John Lipscomb and Catalonian Nuria Tobella met while studying at UC Davis. Together they decided to start a project in Priorat in 2003, and now they produce three wines from an estate they have built up to 50 acres of vines. Some of the parcels are more than a century old. Selecció is nearly half garnacha, the balance cariñena with nine percent cabernet sauvignon. You can feel the influence of the llicorella soils, that austere minerality from the slate in this wine's severe tannic structure. And then there's that sharp, vertical acidity, not only unveiling the fruit flavors, but also offering a refreshing finish. Vine Pro Imports, Miami,FLPatricio Tapia 


alt_textPatricio Tapia
 

White Wine of the Month

93
Seville Estate
2015 Yarra Valley The Barber Chardonnay
$27
Dylan McMahon makes this wine from vineyards in the Upper Yarra Valley, fermenting it without added yeast in barrels as well as in tanks. He uses French oak barrels, from 300 to 500 liters, 10 percent new, and the quality of the fruit in 2015 shines through. While less ambitious than his estate-grown chardonnay, it's more immediately complex: The fruit character is fascinating, ranging from tart peach to something more exotic and musky, cool and layered with earthy savor. Concise and yet persistent, this is a chardonnay to pour with crab. Hudson Wine Brokers, Los Angeles, CAJosh Greene


alt_textJosh Greene
 

White Discovery

93
JL Chave Selection
2013 St-Joseph Circa
$35
Jean-Louis Chave makes Circa from a parcel of roussanne grown on granite, an interesting counterpoint to the roussanne he grows in Hermitage on clay and limestone (also recommended here). While it has roussanne's russetted flavors—roasted almonds and pears, savory honey and spice—it feels brisk and firm, energized by fresh, cool acidity that tempers the wine's oily richness and focuses the attention instead on its delicacy. Grand Cru Selections, NYTara Q. Thomas


alt_textTara Q. Thomas
 

Red Wine of the Month

94
Ridge
2014 Dry Creek Vly. Lytton Estate Petite Sirah
$35
The oldest petite sirah vines on Ridge's Lytton Springs property were planted in 1901; the youngest were planted as recently as 2008. This particular bottling comes from vines planted in the 1980s and 1990s, on the western side of the gravelly Lytton bench. It seems dense and oak-dominated at first, but pay attention to its flavors as they develop—you'll find a fresh, crisply defined petite that lasts on bright acidity and a vivid mineral spark. It's gripping but actually not dense at all, with the sort of powerful yet layered complexity you might find in an old-vine Douro blend, red and black fruit rising toward lasting green peppercorn and bay leaf aromas. Ridge has a track record for long-lived petites; some of the York Creek wines from the mid-1980s are still beautiful and astonishingly youthful. Give this one at least a decade before touching it. (2,200 cases) Ridge Vineyards, Healdsburg, CALuke Sykora


alt_textLuke Sykora
 

Red Discovery

92
Viña Maitía
2016 Maule Valley Aupa Pipeño(Best Buy)
$12
David Marcel, from France's Basque country, was working in Maule as a bulk wine broker while building his own project, Maitía, back in 2012. That's when he fell in love with the refreshing pipeños, the traditional wines of Chile's south, usually made from país. He buys grapes for Aupa from dry-farmed vines in Loncomilla, the país (70 percent) more than 100 years old, the carignan over 70 years. The result is a lovely, refreshing and red-fruited pipeño, with vivid, shining acidity. It's the kind of wine you won't stop drinking. Brazos, Brooklyn, NYPatricio Tapia


alt_textPatricio Tapia
 

Sparkling of the Month

90
Jansz
Tasmania Premium Rosé
$27
A savory sparkler, this wine's tart strawberry flavors and bitter apple-skin notes set an austere style, while the fine bubbles make it friendly. Clean and firm, this will needle an appetite for raw oysters. Negociants USA, Napa, CAJ.G.


alt_textJosh Greene
 
SF Chronicle Wine Competition
 

Upcoming Wine Events
from The W&S Calendar

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January 27–29/Missouri
Annual St. Louis Food & Wine Experience

Chase Park Plaza Hotel
Benefit: Repertory Theatre of St. Louis


January 20–29/OR
Oregon Truffle Festival

Yamhill Valley

 
ZinEx
 

January 25-29/Florida
Key West Food & Wine Festival

31–February 2/New Zealand
Pinot Noir NZ

Click here for our full events calendar

 

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.

 
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