The Zagat Wine Club is the perfect way to taste and rate exciting wine discoveries from all over the world, thanks to a partnership with the pioneering Tony Laithwaite. He’s spent 40 years tracking down the world’s top wine buys (no wonder he’s just been named Direct Wine Merchant of the Year for the second year running at the International Wine Challenge). And he can’t wait to share his favorites with Snooth readers (but you have to act quick).
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A touch sweet and lightly floral/spicey, with a nice core of pear and apple fruit and a hint of sweet/starchy green peas. Nice entry with a touch of weight, but the firm acid cuts right through and supports a lightly mineral flecked core of sweetly ripe apple fruit. There's a hint of the green pea quality found on the nose, but it adds interest here and is a positive attribute. The finish is solid, nicely fruited and with good length and a fine fruity return, all while staying very fresh and vibrant. Lovely crisp Pinot Grigio. 87pts
2010 Baileyana Edna Valley Chardonnay Firepeak Vineyard Cuvee du Clos 13.9%
Fresh and lightly buttery on the nose with hints of smoky, nutty oak accenting the mild pineapple, peach and mango fruit. This enters with lovely balance and freshness. There’s a hint of something herbal early on, perhaps a bit pithy with a nice mid-palate of citrus fruit buttressed by gently creamy oak tones. The acidity pops on the back end, keeping this rather lively and decidedly freshly fruited with a hint of mango. More citrus tone and a moderately long finish pair the wood spice and vanilla influence of oak ageing with rather succulent fruit. A really well balanced effort. 87pts
2010 Stonewall Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 13.5%
Intense on the nose and quite in the asparagus end of the green register, with plenty of cat pee. Lightish bodied with a title RS adding roundness up front. The acidity is firm and refreshing though relatively well integrated here, with slightly simple citrus flavors helping to reinforce it. The finish shows a nice touch of herb and the acidity takes over again lending this a slight sweet/tart quality. A bit lacking in intensity for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but well made and enjoyable. 84pts
2009 Charles Smith Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 13.5%
A bit of funk and char greats the nose, followed by a touch of beefiness. There's a really nice purity to the blueberry fruit, topped with a hint of violet and some gently toasted spice. This is nicely rich and fairly seamless in the mouth, with a nice pine of freshening acidity and very soft, integrated tannins adding a nice layer of firmness under the fruit. The fruit repeats the qualities found on the nose, blueberry and spice with a perfumey edge that leads to a darker, richer finish of moderate length. A nice blend of sieve, depth and complexity that is approachable today and probably best over the next 3-5 years. 88pts
2010 Ch Haute Tuque Bordeaux 13.5%
Quite stoney and hard on the nose with dry black currant fruit and a light streak of integrated wood. This is very nice on entry, tight and focused, with ripe tannins and juicy acidity keeping this quite energetic in the mouth. The fruit is tightly wound right now, but shows good purity and a lovely freshness for its level of ripeness. The finish is dominated by the structure at this point, but the fruit expresses nicely with gently floral and crisp blue/black fruit aromas. 87pts
2009 Masseria Cavallo Negroamaro Puglia 13.5%
Deep and fruity, with a nice streak of wild berry fruit touched with a hint of juniper, nuances of vanilla and char, and a hint of rosemary. This is smooth on entry and softly rich with fruit. Some fine tannins emerge on the mid-palate, but the fresh purple, almost gray fruit easily covers the tannins. This is ripe and bright, with a mineral edge on the mid-palate to the jolly rancher like fruit. This shows a touch of animal on the nose that shows up on the long, dry finish. A really nicely done bottle. 87pts
2009 Baron de Barbon Rioja Selección Especial 13.5%
Smoky and assertive on the nose, with lightly jammy raspberry fruit accented by toasty baking spices and a little sagey herb. Bright and juicy on entry, with a medium to light bodied feel. The tannins here are nicely crisp, adding a nice savory note under the fresh red fruit. Lovely hint of herb pops up on the mid-palate along with an almost orange acidity that drives the finish. The finish is dry and astringent, and not particularly easy, but it is modestly long and has a lovely savory, almost steamy green herb wood character. Nice and refreshing with a sure affinity for food. 86pts
2010 H J Fabra Malbec Reserve Mendoza 14.5%
Very young on the nose with buttery notes accenting the vanilla, juniper and rosemary accented blueberry fruit. There’s a growing base of cedar and spicy oak that builds in the glass. This is rich but low in the mouth with a broad, soft mouthfeel that could really use a bit more acidity. There’s a nice blend of wood spice and subtle black fruit tones, but this is decidedly more towards the woody end of the spectrum, from the aggressive tannins to the spice and cedar notes that dominate the modest finish. There’s a nice shot of mocha and vanilla here for those who enjoy less fruity wines. This is dry and austere, but at the same time is a little too strict. 84pts