Category Archives: WRO Reviews

Tongue Dancer, Russian River Valley (Sonoma County, California) Chardonnay 2021 

($55):  Tongue Dancer makes a range of Chardonnays (and Pinot Noirs) highlighting the uniqueness of the vineyards from which they source the grapes.  This one, in contrast, is a blend of several vineyards from throughout the Russian River Valley.  It is an opulent Chardonnay with all the richness you would expect from grapes grown in the Russian River Valley. Read more

Maset des Montagnes, Côtes du Roussillon (Languedoc-Roussillon, France) Grenache – Macabeu “Terroirs D’Altitude” 2022

($23, Albert Bichot USA):  With this wine, Maset des Montagnes, one of the estates under the umbrella of Domaines N & M de Lorgeril, shows that refreshing whites can come from the sun baked south of France.  This 50/50 blend of Grenache Blanc and Macabeu delivers an enlivening combination of delicate stone fruitiness and spice all supported by a firm spine of acidity. Read more

Bells Up Winery, Chehalem Mountains (Willamette Valley, Oregon) Pinot Noir Estate “Jupiter” 2021 

($50):  Dave Spector, the owner of Bells Up gives all of their wines musical references because he was a French horn player for decades.  Despite a similar stated alcohol to Candide,13.5 percent, the Jupiter (think Mozart’s Symphony #41) bottling is weightier, displaying rich, black fruit notes intertwined with a charming minerality. Read more

Diebolt-Vallois, Champagne (France) Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut NV

($40):  It is unusual to find a non-vintage Blanc de Blancs Champagne, especially at this price, since most of the single Chardonnay cépage wine goes into vintage or super premium bottlings.  The Diebolt-Vallois delivers all the grace and precision you would expect from a Blanc de Blancs coupled with substantial body, making a good choice to bring to the table after you have a glass — or two — as an aperitif.Read more

Domaine du Cellier aux Moines, Montagny Premier Cru (Burgundy, France) Les Charmelottes Vieilles Vignes “1939” 2020

($80):  Unlike the rest of Burgundy, the 1er Cru classification in Montagny has little significance since a whopping 58 percent of vineyards are classified as such.  In any case, this Montagny is outstanding, perhaps the best I have ever had.  It shows what old vines in the hands of a detailed-oriented and talented producer can achieve. Read more

Domaine Louis Michel et Fils, Chablis Premier Cru (Burgundy, France) Vaillons 2020

($56, Vineyard Brands):  Louis Michel’s floral Vaillons couldn’t be more different from their weightier Butteaux.  Yet, they are both superb.  That’s the beauty of Burgundy in general and Chablis in particular.  The same grape, Chardonnay in this case, grown on neighboring hills, produces vastly different, but equally enjoyable, wines. Read more

Hark Vineyards, Monticello (Virginia) “Spark” 2019

($48):  This Cabernet Franc-dominate Bordeaux blend confirms what Thomas Jefferson knew centuries ago: Virginia’s Monticello AVA, located in the middle of state, is good place to grow grapes and make wine.  Hark’s mid-weight Spark does actually light up the palate.  A “just right” amount of structure provides a backbone to this plummy red without being intrusive. Read more

Argentiera, Toscana IGT (Tuscany, Italy) “Poggio al Ginepri” 2022 

($25, Volio Imports):  This ripe, 14.5 percent stated alcohol, Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant Bordeaux blend delivers up-front fruitiness wrapped in plush tannins and supported by a touch of firmness that prevents it from being flabby.  Good acidity and a hint of bitterness in the finish keep it in balance though the overt fruitiness still predominates at this stage. Read more

Afton Mountain Vineyards, Monticello (Virginia) “T” 2019

($55):  This Merlot-dominant Bordeaux blend was one of the top 12 wines in the recently completed Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition.  Firm, yet mild and unobtrusive tannins, presumably from the Cabernet Sauvignon, provide needed structure for the plummy fruit notes.  The suave texture speaks to talented winemaking and what must have come from selecting only the best fruit. Read more

Maison Auvigue, Saint-Véran (Burgundy, France) “Chênes” 2022

($35):  Saint-Véran, which lies adjacent to Pouilly-Fuissé in the Mâconnais, lies between single village Mâcon wines, like Mâcon-Azé, and Pouilly-Fuissé in the appellation hierarchy.  That is not to say you can’t find a Mâcon-Azé that is more stylish and enjoyable than a Saint-Véran, nor does it mean that every Pouilly-Fuissé is superior to every Saint-Véran. Read more