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Cult Wines

Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

It begins with a pulse. Blackberries. Like Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622, softly, softly roasted black cherries and blackcurrants emerge, followed by lilting notes of graphite, sandalwood, forest and pain grille. On the palate, rippling layers of opulent dark fruit that glide across a textural landscape of well-integrated, supple tannins. The 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet the very definition of elegance, certainly the benchmark for what Washington State can achieve. 14.9% ABV Quilceda Creek Vintners 9.8 Points ...

Château Lafite Rothschild 1999

Château Lafite Rothschild 1999

The 1999 Lafite Rothschild, is a ruby-hued beauty with a translucent rim—this bottle was incredibly fresh and vibrant on opening. Initially, seemingly more red fruit-driven, the nose evolved into a darker expression with time in the glass. Nuanced aromas of loamy earth, rose petal, black currant, and pencil shavings led into a wine that, while restrained and elegant, boasted ample sweetness at its core. Ultra-fine, polished tannins gave way to a medium-plus finish that culminated in bay leaf, cigar box, and spice. Château Lafite Rothschild 9.4 Points ...

Château Angélus Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé 1995

Château Angélus Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé 1995

Lovely and accessible, the 1995 Angélus shows off its pedigree and high percentage of Cabernet Franc with only minimal decanting. A slightly woodsy bouquet of black currants, plums, cedar, forest underbrush, spiced orange pomander, dried lavender, and incense. On the palate, poised supple tannins and a fine acid backbone underpin steeped blackberry, crème de cassis, bay leaf, dried herbs and delicate minerality. This legendary Saint-Émilion dances in the glass, and ends triumphantly, in a grand jeté. Château Angélus 9.4 Points ...

Cayuse Vineyards Armada Vineyard Syrah 2007

Cayuse Vineyards Armada Vineyard Syrah 2007

From last night's Vivino meetup, this bottle, the 2007 Cayuse Armada Vineyard Syrah is a dead ringer for a Northern Rhône. Waves of bacon fat, black tea and savory tones dominate the profile of this full-bodied, intense cult wine. At this stage in its development, fruit is no longer the central player, rather it plays a supporting role, reminiscent of a savory blackberry reduction sauce made more complex by cedar, olive tapenade, garrigue, and green peppercorn. Wow, just wow. Cayuse Vineyards 9.6 Points ...

Morlet Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Mon Chevalier 2010

Morlet Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Mon Chevalier 2010

My first Cabernet Sauvignon from Morlet Family Vineyards—I've only been lucky enough to taste and have been dazzled by their sublime Chardonnays. That said, the 2010 Mon Chevalier didn't disappoint, displaying classic Knight's Valley character, it's a treasure trove of cassis, black currants, incense and sandalwood, tar and menthol. Black pepper and spice box. The palate is a layered as the nose, with a dark-fruited succulent core framed in an understory of fine, mouth-coating tannins. 15.0% ABV Morlet Family Vineyards 9.5 Points ...

Sine Qua Non The Monkey 2010

Sine Qua Non The Monkey 2010

Tasted from the dining room of the lovely SS Legacy, thanks to generous passengers who see fit to bring their own favorite bottles along on a wine cruise. Sine Qua Non's white Rhône-inspired blend dubbed The Monkey 2010 proved to be a honey-hued showstopper. Rife with peach pit, apricot kernel, orange pastille, smoke, buddha’s hand lemon, and warm spice. It's a compact, fleshy, decadently creamy wine. Slightly hot on the finish, ending with flourish candied orange peel and mineral undertones. Sine Qua Non 9.3 Points  ...

Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Silex 2007

Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Silex 2007

The best Pouilly-Fumé I've tasted in a long while—the 2007 Silex was indeed a special bottle, the last vintage Dagueneau crafted before a crash in an ultralight plane cut his life and career short. Full and nuanced without being weighty, ever changing and evolving in the glass. Lemon curd, apple blossom, dried honey, and dried apricots. In the mouth the profile is reminiscent of a still Champagne, with toast and and lees co-mingling with candied pink grapefruit, dried thyme and a flourish of smoky minerality on the finish. 12.5% ABV Domaine Didier Dagueneau 9.4 Points ...

Raveneau Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2011

Raveneau Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2011

Sublime sophistication, Raveneau's 2011 Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre shows its pedigree with complex aromas of roasted pear, earth, hazelnut, iodine, and smoke. The influence of Kimmeridgian soils is evident on the palate, one that is both expansive and neatly tailored, swathed in stone fruit and lemon curd tightly bound by a mineral spine. The finish is intense, meandering and tipped in fleur de sel and dried herbs, especially tarragon. 9.3 Points ...

Opus One 2006

Opus One 2006

Sampled at the 2017 Wine Writers Symposium, while a dinner with the charming Karen MacNeil seated directly across from me, and legends Bill Harlan and Andrea Robinson at the table behind me. The Opus One 2006 sang—one long, melodic, satiny chord drenched in wild blueberries, steeped blackberries, and black raspberry. It unfurls slowly, releasing a daub of incense, then sandalwood, anise, dark chocolate shavings, and camphor. Suave and sexy—a white tie and tails sort of wine combining power and freshness, and finishing in dried herbs and graphite. 14.4% ABV | Sample Opus One Winery 9.5 Points...

Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Millésimé 1980

Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Millésimé 1980

This glittery memory of the Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Millésimé 1980 served as a preamble to lunch at the stately home of Jean-Claude Rouzaud, grandson of Louis Roederer. The experience itself, surreal. An unusually warm fall day—with the doors overlooking a small but manicured backyard flung open—even the most palatial homes in Champagne lack air conditioning. And the Champagne, vivid and golden, hardly showing its age, an airy concerto and welcome elixir against the heat. The expression is pure, seamless. Elegant. Billowy aromas of peach and baked apple, jasmine, dried honey, marzipan, and brioche are held aloft on a net of ultra-fine bubbles. The the palate, still quite precise, with slowly-unfurling creaminess and smoky-autolytic notes that curl and crescendo and against a backdrop of limestone chalk. Champagne Louis Roederer 9.7 Points...