A sampling of summer reds still showing good value

March 25, 2023

I am happy to report, sales are still on. Case buyers should be thinking summer BBQ reds. Louis asked about Bibbiano Vigna del Capannino Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2019, 93 McD, every bit as delicious as the 2016. Both can be purchased for around $40. Although the 2019 is approachable, the 2016 is perfection for a Lady or a Tramp, 94 points. Dark ruby, it opens to cherry, balsamic, fresh fig and barrel spice, with cherry, cedar and herbs on the palate through a long, clean finish. If you serve the 2019 soon, decant and let stand. Will cellar at least 10 years; the 2016 is perfect now. Bibbiano is one of my picks most years, a top-rate Chianti Classico. Querciabella 2018 is another DOCG Chianti Classico worth looking into, 92 McD. The 2016, 94 McD under $37 is available at Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, so there is some around. Shop this. Avoid 2014 for Tuscany. There are some decent wines, but difficult weather stymied the best of the winemakers. The surrounding vintages are in a comparable price range and most of the top producers are 91-93 points.

Follow the winemaker. After enjoying a tastevin of Sleeping Lady Vineyard Cab Yountville 2018, 100 points from Antonio Galloni, $165, I did a deeper dive into Julien Fayard. I learned that Fayard was a compatriot of Philippe Melka, the celebrated winemaker/consultant at Lail and several other highly regarded wineries. Since I recently wrote of Lail, I won’t delve deeply, except to say Robin Lail, whose great-great-uncle Gustave Niebaum founded Inglenook, has upheld the family banner with both hands. Her choice of Melka seems a pluperfect combination. Fayard spent seven years working with/for Melka following stints at several renown Bordeaux entities: Chateau Lafite and Smith Haut Lafitte. Both are terroir driven and non-interventionist winemakers.

I decided to investigate Fayard’s wines, looking for better QPR. With upward-trending prices, readers have pointed toward searching for quality Napa Cabs under $35-$50. They have read of those 95-point, $200-plus Purlieu (edge of the forest in French) single-vineyard Cabs and his partnership in Covert Estate, but how many have learned of Le Pich Napa Cab, $56, or Recoltant Wines Napa Cab 2018, 91 McD, $35? These are two solid 90-point lovelies that can be enjoyed at reasonable prices. First release, 2018 Recoltant is dark with a nose full of black fruit, pie spice and lilac hints. On its full-bodied palate, burgeoning fruit rides a slightly elevated tannin and minerally acidic frame. The finish brings balance. It is smooth, long and clean. Purlieu’s top single-vineyard wines are named Teucer, Missouri Hopper and Georges III, among others, all north of $200. However, their Le Pich Cab 2018, 91 McD is a bargain for value/pleasure. Dark ruby, it opens to plums, cassis and barrel spice aromas. On the medium-body palate, more plum, dark berries, nutmeg and licorice hints supported by integrated tannins and fresh acidity. Some other Cabs on sale: Martin Ray Synthesis 2020, 91 McD, Suckling wrote 93; Crossbarn Napa Cab, 92 McD under $50; Louis Martini Napa Cab 2019, 92 McD, $49 – red berries, pie spice and vanilla aromas lead to more berries, subtle tannins appropriate balancing acidity with dark chocolate and oaken hints through an exceptionally long finish. Covert Estate is a joint venture, 12-acre vineyard in Coombsville founded in 2012. Its worst rating year was a 92, in 2015. The 2018 scored 94 by several, including McD. Only 2016 got more points on my card at 95-plus. You must shop around. It is limited production, and prices run from $90-$200/bottle at various locations. 

Let’s wrap up with Roserock Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Oregon 2019, 93 McD, was on sale under $30, typically $70. Move quickly. Veronique Drouhin-Boss is chief winemaker at Domaine Jos. Drouhin, not with a wink and nod. A graduate of U. Dijon with advanced degrees in research on Pinot Noir, she worked with Laurence Jobard from 1976-2005, when she took the reins. In 1988, she vinified the first vintage at Domaine Drouhin. Paul Gregutt describes it well, “more brambly, herbal and earthy than those from Drouhin's Dundee Hills estate. It is lightly peppery and striated with thin seams of raspberry, chocolate, and lemon.”


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