By Rick Riozza

It’s a new year but it’s the same old adage: so many wines, so little time!

Well, one New Year’s resolution maybe is to drink down all of those wines you’ve been collecting for so long—I mean what are we waiting for! On the other side of things, it’s a good wine idea to try to taste the variety of wines the world has to offer.  And it’s the perfect time to get started.

What we’ll comment on this week are some top quality world-class wines (price theoretically not an issue) that will guide you to at least sample similar varietal & regional wines so to broaden our appreciation of what’s out there in the realm of vino.  For those of you who can actually afford these listed wines—well cheers! to you and give us a call quick so we can bring over a grazing platter to pair with your wine.


Let’s bring Bordeaux back to the picture.  Many of us venerable vino heads, were first bombarded with Bordeaux that set the mark for so many California winemakers back in the day.  The thrill of Bordeaux has waned with the younger generation but it will be exciting as they taste the stuff anew—and, hopefully, become enchanted.

2019 Château Talbot St. Julien ($65) Believe it or not, this is a great price for a world-class Bordeaux.  This bottle is text-book Bordeaux giving one the taste of the terrior that will bring back to mind the flavors of the famous region.  You’ll remember, red Bordeaux is a red wine blend: this bottle is made up of 69 % Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot, and Petite Verdot bringing up the rear.

A fresh aroma of blackberry, raspberry, violets and cedar hits first. The medium-bodied wine begins with flavors of red and black currant paste and plums, and then, moves on to what a Bordeaux brings to life: graphite &lead pencil, tobacco leaf, cedar, gravel—savory stuff for certain, in best way.  Wonderful acidity to pair with all full-course meals.  Think about the future—and taste it: this bottle will age gracefully for the next 20 years!

Okay—so let’s get back to the Cab Sauv social of California: 2019 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville The Estates ($85) This is another reasonably priced wine for the quality.  Wine Spectator writes: “Throws off some pretty gorgeous aromas of violets, anise, and sweet bay leaf, with a core of ripe, streamlined boysenberry and blackberry pâte de fruits following closely.  The finish has a racy graphite edge, while the fruit and aromas just spill through and are approachable now, too.”

Interesting—both Cab Sauv grapes from France and California are showing similar notes and flavors.  Fun stuff to taste and compare.

Last year, with our article titled, “Superman Soars on Super Tuscans”,  I urged our readers to try an Italian Super Tuscan to get on the same palate page as we discuss the blended wines of Tuscany.  The “Super” takes place when the wineries blend the regional Sangiovese with international grapes such as Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc, Pinot Noir etc.

And right on the money here comes the 2019 Antinori Toscana Tignanello ($145).  The vino is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cab Sauv, and 5% Cab Franc.  This combo brings both aromas and flavors of bright cherry, black currant, violets, tobacco, iron & sanguine notes and oak spice.

Another wine review stated: “Complex notes of red fruits give rise to delicate aromas of apricots and peaches with sensations of vanilla, dried flowers, chocolate and spice. Its bouquet is complemented by notes of coffee, caramel and Mediterranean herbs. On the palate, the wine is rich and vibrant with silky tannins. Its lengthy finish and aftertaste bring back coffee and chocolate notes perceived on the nose.”

As one could imagine, this wine will pair wonderfully with Italian fare of meat, red sauces, and pizza.  But the Tignanello [teen-nya-Nell-oh] should first be tasted by itself to comprehend what a Super Tuscan wine is all about.

2014 Louis Roederer Brut Champagne Cristal (around $325).  We just recommend this world-class bubbly just a couple of weeks ago, but it’s worth the space (and perhaps the price) to discuss it as one of the top wines released this past year.

Valentine’s day fools will be rushing in within a month or so, and it would be a gem in the romance quiver to be able to serve up this fantastic French bubbly.  We’ve got the time to save up, but get your order in soon!

The 2014 Cristal is produced entirely from organically farmed estate vineyards of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Receiving a score of 98 points from Wine Spectator, this fresh and lively Champagne is elegance per se with sleek acidity and finely meshed flavors of ripe black cherry and mandarin orange fruit, raw almond, anise and cardamom spice as well as a touch of honeycomb.  It shows a fine, creamy palate with a racy character provided by a streak of minerality, saline and chalk.

If you’re desiring a rosé bubbly that great day of love, you can think about grabbing the 2013 Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé Brut Millésimé.  But you may have to think about saving some more money as the bottle goes for around 700 bucks!  Hey what’s money got to do with love!

As we mentioned up front, there are so many wines out there that we will have to continue this commentary of Top Wines continually throughout the year!  Have a good one—cheers!