I know I’ve written about this before, and I will continue to pound away at the subject till the day I die… PURITY. I refuse to accept any wine that has been muddled over by some scientist, wearing a sterile white lab coat, who could care less about the juice he or she is now manipulating into “wine.” I want wines made from a farmer, someone who has a passion for the land on which he or she drops blood, sweat and tears. Someone who can step outside and have a complete understanding of what nature is doing all around them, to know it is time to prune based solely on instinct and the feeling that they have in their bones, not some chart. With these people, come wines with tradition, honor. They have a distinct, pure, presence of place, wines that speak to you, wines that represent the people and the land from which they come. That’s the passion I want. I want to shake a winemaker’s hand and feel the life of the vineyard through that handshake. Had enough? Try these on for size… 2004 Peter Schandl Furmint ($14.99) Due to its long maturation, this varietal has an extremely unique acid balance. Clear, ripe fruits like apple and quince explode upon your senses, and then take a sip. Its long, expressive finish will then win you over. 2004 Weingut Pfaffl Grüner Veltliner Weinviertel DAC ($17.99) A zippy, refreshing wine that is a step or two above your “entry level” grüner. Well structured and precise, this little gem will keep you thinking well after you have finished the bottle. —Eric Story
2004 Vinos Sin-Ley G2 Garnacha, Montsant ($7.99) 88 points Robert Parker: “This deep ruby/purple-tinged offering displays notes of crushed rocks, raspberries, and kirsch in a rich, medium-bodied, fruit-driven style with hints of earth, garrigue, and spice. “ 2003 Bodegas Tintoralba Higueruela (Grenache) ($8.99) 88 points Robert Parker: “Old vines, low yields, and impeccable winemaking have resulted in a dense ruby/purple-colored wine with medium to full body as well as a delicious kirsch, blackberry, currant, licorice, and spice-scented bouquet.” 2004 Senorio de Barahonda Monastrell Tinto ($9.99) 90 points Robert Parker: “For $10, the 2004 Monastrell Tinto is amazing. An extraordinary bouquet of raspberries, blueberries, and vanilla jumps from the glass of this dense, medium to full-bodied, luscious, fruit-filled, seamlessly constructed effort. It is ideal for consumption over the next several years. The good news is that 2,500 cases are exported to the U.S. This estate is one of the top discoveries of all my tastings.” 2003 Celler de Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica ($10.99) 92 points Robert Parker: “Its dense ruby/purple color is followed by sumptuous aromas of blueberries, black currants, cold steel, and minerals. Evocative of a baby Priorat, it possesses an amazing fragrance, considerable nobility as well as complexity, medium to full body, and a long, concentrated, heady finish. Enjoy it over the next 5-7 years.” 2004 Vinos Piñol Sacra Natura, Terra Alta (Organic) ($15.99) 90 points Robert Parker: “A terrific bargain is the 2004 Sacra Natura, a blend of 60% Carignan and 40% Tempranillo. A pungent earthy note provides a distinctive terroir aspect to this dark purple-hued 2004. Sweet raspberry and blueberry fruit along with scents of new saddle leather, spice box, toast, and vanilla emerge from this beautiful effort. It is hard to believe such quality is available at this price.” Happy New Year! —Anne Pickett
Philip Togni Vineyards first planted their vines on Spring Mountain in 1981. The vineyard is run by Philip, his wife Birgitta and their daughter Lisa. Both Philip and Lisa have spent time in Bordeaux and Togni wines are California wines that Bordeaux lovers must have. California born with European sensibility. You read about Bryant, Screaming Eagle and Harlan, but Togni is a wine that belongs alongside the top wines of California. I’ve had several vintages of this wine and the 1990 and 1994 sit on the top of my list. K&L has many older vintages of the estate along with the current releases below. If you give these wines a try, it will put a smile on your face. 2003 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon ($84.99) One of the better 2003 cabs that I’ve tried, this wine will need at least five years to really show its best. 92-94 points from Robert Parker. 2001 Tanbark Hill Cabernet Sauvignon ($54.99) The second label of the estate, this wine was just released and is drinking very well now with another ten years of cellaring possible. 90 points Stephan Tanzer. 2002 Tanbark Hill Cabernet Sauvignon ($47.99) There wasn’t a Philip Togni in the 2002 vintage. Everything went into the second label, and this wine shows it. 92 points fom Wine Spectator. See you in the City… —Mike Jordan
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