THE YEAR'S BEST

In each issue of Wine&Spirits, our critics focus on one variety or group of related wines and selects the best wines in that category that they've tasted in the past year.


     April 2007

Over the last twelve months,
Wine & Spirits tasted 467 American pinot noirs & 357 Tuscan reds

These 11 pinot noirs and 15 Tuscan reds received the strongest praise from our critics.



Pinot Noir
94  I  Calera $60
2003 Mt. Harlan Selleck Vineyard Pinot Noir
If you prize subtlety in pinot noir, you'll want this in your cellar. Herbal tones quickly evaporate, leaving a delicate raspberry flavor and a dark, smoky length. (W&S 4/07) Calera Wine Company, Hollister, CA
 

 Calera 2003 Mt. Harlan Selleck Vineyard Pinot Noir
93  I  Flowers $50
2003 Sonoma Coast Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir
Several aspects make this Green Valley wine compelling: the beautiful color, the scent of the sea, the way it leaves your mouth feeling fresh. An elegant pinot noir. (W&S 6/06) Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Cazadero, CA
 

 Flowers 2003 Sonoma Coast Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir
94  I  Dutton Goldfield $55
2004 Russian River Valley Sanchietti Vineyard Pinot Noir
This feels cool and dense, the texture voluptuous, the interplay of flavors completely satisfying. This will likely be showing at its best around six years from the vintage. (W&S 10/06) Dutton Goldfield Winery, Sebastopol, CA
 

 Dutton Goldfield 2004 Russian RIver Valley Sanchietti Vineyard Pinot Noir
93  I  Hirsch $60
2004 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
The Pacific is palpable in this wine's bright fruit tinged with brine, in the mouthwatering acidity and the mouthstaining blackberry tannins. It's supple and intoxicating, needing years to develop. (W&S 4/07) Hirsch Winery, Cazadero, CA
 

 Hirsch 2004 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
93  I  Orogeny $43
2004 Green Valley Pinot Noir
Texture drives this wine: lithe and silky. Lacy tannins grip it forcefully while the transparent strawberry and violet scents deepen to blueberry. (W&S 10/06) Orogeny, Santa Rosa, CA
 

 Orogeny 2004 Green Valley Pinot Noir
93  I  Rex Hill $42
2004 Oregon Reserve Pinot Noir
A rich red earth character supports this wine's dark cherry flavors and contributes to its velvety texture. For roast salmon. (W&S 4/07) Rex Hill Vineyards, Newberg, OR
 

 Rex Hill 2004 Oregon Reserve Pinot Noir
94  I  Harrington $38
2005 Sonoma Coast Gap's Crown Pinot Noir
Scents of red earth and conifers add a complex spice to this wine's red fruit, fresh and beautifully knit. Its dynamic evolution with air suggests a long evolution in the cellar. (W&S 4/07) Harrington Wines, San Francisco, CA
 

 Harrington 2005 Sonoma Coast Gap's Crown Pino Noir
93  I  Stoller $40
2004 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
This Dundee Hills pinot is generously fruity and seductive, with a vinous core grounding the strawberry flavor. (W&S 4/07) ) Stoller Vineyards, Tualatin, OR
 

 Stoller 2004 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
94  I  Williams Selyem $72
2004 Russian River Valley Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard Pinot Noir
Delicate scents of beeswax, violets and wild strawberry hover over a firm, stony structure. It's clean and tightly formed, with an emphasis on finesse. Built for the cellar. (W&S 2/07) Williams Selyem Winery, Healdsburg, CA
 

 Williams Selyem 2004 Russian River Valley Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard Pinot Noir
93  I  Summerland $48
2005 Santa Rita Hills Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir
Distinctive with its scents of chaparral and lasting impression of minerality, this wine's tart cherry flavors are bright and sleek. Enjoyable now with Alaskan black cod. (W&S 4/07) Summerland Winery, Summerland, CA
 

 Summerland 2005 Santa Rita Hills Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir
93  I  Calera $55
2003 Mt. Harlan Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir
This needs hours of air: The tannins are initially hard, the acidity youthful, the fruit delicate but persistent in its fresh cherry tone. It shows a lot of potential to develop. (W&S 4/07) Calera Wine Company, Hollister, CA
 

 Calera 2003 Mt. Harlan Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir
Tuscany
96  I  Tenuta San Guido $180
2003 Bolgheri Sassicaia
Great terroirs often prove themselves in the most extreme vintages, as Sassicaia has done in the violent heat of 2003. The vineyard produced a supple, subtle and elegant wine. It's mostly a textural experience for now, a mass of pleasure hinting at flavors of black currant and smoky black tea. This is balanced to develop for 15 years or more. (W&S 4/07) Kobrand, NY
 

 Tenuta San Guido 2003 Bolgheri Sassicaia
95  I  Le Macchiole $85
2001 Bolgheri Paleo Cabernet Franc
This provides a sustained chord of flavor, near perfect in its balance of chalky mineral tannins and waves of berry flavor. (W&S 4/07) Domaine Select Wine Estates, NY
 

 Le Macchiole 2001 Bolgheri Paleo Cabernet Franc
95  I  Poggio Antico $85
2001 Brunello di Montalcino Altero
Tremendously long, extremely concentrated, powerfully extracted and still elegant, this tannic, black wine has a long life ahead. (W&S 10/06) Empson USA, Alexandria, VA
 

 Poggio Antico 2001 Brunello di Montalcino Altero
94  I  Lionello Marchesi $45
2001 Brunello di Montalcino Coldisole
A modern beauty, this offers flavors of raspberry, chocolate, truffles and black mushroom. Cellar it a decade or more. (W&S 4/07) W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Harrison, NY
 

 Lionello Marchesi 2001 Brunello di Montalcino Coldisole
94  I  Tenuta Oliveto $70
2001 Brunello di Montalcino
A blend of old-fashioned elegance with clean, modern grace, this black, mineral-rich brunello is built to last-a 20-year wine. (W&S 4/07) Domaine Select Wine Estates, NY
 

 Tenuta Oliveto 2001 Brunello di Montalcino
94  I  Collemattoni $75
2001 Brunello di Montalcino
With compelling freshness, its riches immediately accessible in generous black cherry flavors, tarry tannin and forest scents, this has a long life ahead. (W&S 4/07) Vignaioli Selection, NY
 

 Collemattoni 2001 Brunello di Montalcino
94  I  Poggio Antico $76
2001 Brunello di Montalcino
Essential brunello, this melds formidable tannin and fruit into a potent, black earthiness. This will probably be at its best 2011-'16. (W&S 10/06) Empson USA, Alexandria, VA
 

 Poggio Antico 2001 Brunello di Montalcino
93  I  A. e G. Folonari $25
2004 Bolgheri Campo Al Mare
Merlot's ripeness hits a note of firm, lasting richness, balanced by the sexy perfume of new oak, deepened by the tobacco scents of cabernet. (W&S 4/07) Kobrand, NY
 

 A. e G. Folonari 2004 Bolgheri Campo Al Mare
93  I  Il Molino di Grace $29
2001 Chianti Classico Riserva
Pure black cherry flavor sustained by lots of tannin gives this wine a luscious, gentle power. It's both ready to enjoy and suited to age. (W&S 4/07) Domaine Select Wine Estates, NY
 

 Il Molino di Grace 2001 Chianti Classico Riserva
93  I  Castellani $42
1999 Brunello di Montalcino Brunaio
A traditional brunello, this balances potent tannin with powerful cherry and chestnut flavor. Give it a decade. (W&S 10/06) Biagio Cru and Estate Wines, Roslyn Heights, NY
 

 Castellani 1999 Brunello di Montalcino Brunaio
93  I  Tenuta La Fuga $51
2001 Brunello di Montalcino
This is light in body but powerful in flavor, sophisticated in its layering of cherry scents and elegant, earthy funk. Smooth and lasting, it's accessible now. (W&S 4/07) Kobrand, NY
 

 Tenuta La Fuga 2001 Brunello di Montalcino
93  I  Mazzei $60
2003 Maremma Toscana Tenuta Belguardo
This has the powerful tannin typical of '03, while it retains fresh black plum flavor. Smooth and rich. Drink 2009-'11. (W&S 4/07) Palm Bay Imports, Boca Raton, FL
 

 Mazzei 2003 Maremma Toscana Tenuta Belguardo
93  I  Riecine $60
2003 Toscana La Giola
This shows its power clearly in the tension between woodsy cherry flavors and full-blown tannin. Remarkably balanced and firmly knit. (W&S 4/07) Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY
 

 Riecine 2003 Toscana La Giola
93  I  Castello del Terriccio $124
2003 Toscana Lupicaia
After long aeration, an intriguing soil complexity and refinement develop from this wine's superripe, chocolatey fruit. It should prove exceptional with bottle time. (W&S 4/07) Kobrand, NY
 

 Castello del Terriccio 2003 Toscana Lupicaia
93  I  Poggio Antico $134
2000 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
Ripe fruit scents fill this wine, from plum to black cherry and blueberry. All that fruit balances the power of the tannins. (W&S 10/06) Empson USA, Alexandria, VA
 

 Poggio Antico 2000 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva