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Staff Favorites - Ryan Moses

Ryan Moses


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2014 Varner "Hidden Block - Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 12-04-2019
I adore Varner's 2014 Pinots. Sure, they're special as a last-of-a-generation bottlings from the Spring Ridge Vineyard, but more importantly there about as serious as you'll find in domestic Pinot Noir anywhere near this price range. With aromas of currant, strawberry, red flowers and white pepper, the aromas alone are enough to get lost in. The palate is full of deep red fruit, sauvage, and mint, on a medium bodied, structured palate. This reminds me of a young 1er Cru from Volnay or Pommard — it has a deep profile and the potential to unwind beautifully over many, many years. At this price, it will be hard to resist young, but it is a wine that will reward patience over the long term.

2016 Valderiz Ribera del Duero
Review Date: 12-03-2019
The aromas alone are worth the price of admission - copious blackberry, asphalt, and violets. The palate is deep with resounding deep fruit, a ton of structure, mouthwatering acidity, and fine mineral-laced tannins. Rarely have I seen a Ribera del Duero with as much structure - this will be one for the long haul but is still very impressive at this stage.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2018 Bonpas "Croix de Bonpas" Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages
Review Date: 12-03-2019
Very engaging aromas of sage, wild blackberry, and a bright floral note lead to a palate full of juicy red and black fruit, a fine grain texture, graphite, and a touch of vanilla and spice. This is a bit more traditional in the scope of Cotes du Rhône as it shows a great sense of finesse and bright fruit. This is a lot of wine for the price and will find many fans for those looking for an over-performing, everyday red.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2015 Terroir al Limit "Torroja" Priorat
Review Date: 11-26-2019
Terroir al Limit has been one of my favorite producers over the last few years. The no-compromise approach turns a lot of Priorat stereotypes on their head. This is a beautifully expressive wine with floral, spice, and red fruit notes that are echoed in a lively, fresh, and complex palate. Medium bodied, there is a purity and spine of acidity that makes me think of elegant, traditional Châteauneuf that exudes depth over weight. Still, it shows a unique character all its own, which makes it a great wine for those looking to explore the best of terroir-driven Priorat.

2017 Carlisle "Papera Ranch" Russian River Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 11-21-2019
This is probably the most dynamic and compelling Zin I've had all year. There's tons of depth and nuance with layers of black fruit, cured meats, tar, and a thread of acidity to keep it all fresh and balanced. A masterclass in structure, it has the depth of Northern California, but the fruit is in check. This is the kind of wine that immediately had me thinking of a menu to pair with it - about as high of a compliment as a wine can get at this kind of price. Terrific.
Price: $49.95 Add To Cart

2017 Martin Ray Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-21-2019
This is a super elegant Pinot that shows a level of refinement well above its modest price point. I've been impressed by this bottling in the past, and the 2017 is another big winner. For those who enjoy a bit more of a Burgundian style (more nuance, less extraction) you'll find a lot to love at a price that's rare for Pinot of this caliber.
Price: $15.95 Add To Cart

2015 Fratelli Revello Barolo
Review Date: 11-12-2019
Fresh crisp red fruit on the nose pairs with red floral tones and orange rind. The palate is bright, texturally seamless, and generous with rich red fruit and fine tannins. There is an elegance to Revello’s ’15 that pairs wonderfully with the accessible nature of the vintage. A great value from a vintage that will reward any Piedmont collector, it is very dynamic for a legit Barolo at this kind of pricing.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2009 Brane-Cantenac, Margaux
Review Date: 09-13-2019
This is one of the most impressive 2009s that we've tasted of late - it's evolved beautifully and show just how good recent vintages of Brane-Cantenac can be. Beautiful cut flower and cassis aromas lead to a palate that is precise, focused, and incredibly detailed with dark red fruits, bright acidity, and wonderfully fine tannins. There's a freshness to it that keeps it impeccably balanced. This is textbook Margaux, and it beautifully navigates the modern vintage in a classic way. A head-turner for sure.

2010 La Rioja Alta "904" Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 08-09-2019
This is one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year, and for me on a shortlist for one of the best buys in fine wine from anywhere. Copious aromas of dusty red cherry, leather, bay leaf, and crushed red flowers leads to a stunningly bright and fresh palate full strawberry coulis, burnt orange, and red raspberry. The mouthwatering finish carries on easily for a minute. There is so much in reserve, but I wouldn't blame anybody who gets a taste of this gem and decides to start opening bottles now. Enjoy anytime over the next two decades or more.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

2015 Elio Grasso "Gavarini Chiniera" Barolo
Review Date: 08-06-2019
This is a wine that shows well right out of the gates, but also turns into something truly special given (more than) a few hours in the decanter. Bright pure red fruits and florals on the nose lead to a palate with exceptional purity, focused red fruit, and grippy, mouthcoating tannin. This is the kind of wine that begs for another sip and has undeniable pedigree and refinement in 2015.

2015 Elio Grasso "Ginestra Casa Matè" Barolo
Review Date: 08-06-2019
Elio Grasso's Casa Mate hits the deeper notes of Ginestra in 2015 with savory red fruit, plum, and soy on an expressive nose. The texture is immaculate and pure, with a compact palate that builds on flavors of black cherry, licorice, all brightened up by a good streak of acidity.. Exceptionally fine tannins round out a wine that has a ton in reserve. This is one that will go the distance.

2015 Massolino Barolo
Review Date: 08-06-2019
For an estate with such traditional roots, this is amazingly accessible and will be a great addition for any fan of Barolo. Pure, juicy red fruits and floral notes on the nose follow through to bright, refreshing flavors of crunchy strawberry and cherry. A mouthwatering finish leads to fine grain tannins that are not too tight or imposing even at this early stage. This is easygoing and well-made Barolo from a forward vintage and will deliver a ton of value over the coming decade-plus.

1997 Domaine Tortochot Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
Review Date: 07-31-2019
Gentle aromas of orange peel and strawberry lead to a palate that exudes great purity, bright acidity, with light red fruits. It is fresh, supple, and elegant. Tasted alongside the '98 and '00, this is in a perfect drinking window and showed more grace than the other two.
Price: $119.99 Add To Cart

2016 Kapcsándy "Estate Cuvée - State Lane Vineyard" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 07-08-2019
For those looking for detailed and elegant Napa Cab from one of the region's great producers and vintages, look no further. This is a no-compromise wine from Kapcsandy that ranks up there with my two previous favorites - the 2012 and 2013. Less compact than the '13, but a bit brighter and more refined than the '12, it hits all the right notes and seems to borrow the best from both. Complex aromas of cassis and forest floor lead to a palate full of pure red-to-black fruits and a bright acidity that carries a long, resounding finish. Reminiscent of a great Super Second from Bordeaux, it is that sweet-spot collectible that I wish Napa had more of.

2016 Luciano Sandrone "Valmaggiore" Nebbiolo d'Alba
Review Date: 05-28-2019
This is a not-to-be-missed vintage for anybody who loves Nebbiolo, and for me Sandrone is about as good as it gets. Beautiful floral and red fruit aromas lead to a compact and deep palate full of deep cherry, licorice, and grippy tannins, all surrounded by mouthwatering acidity. This is a lot of wine for a straight Nebbiolo, and will most likely leave many Cru Barolo bottlings in its dust over the coming years. If you can't resist, give this one four to six hours of air. Otherwise keep in a cool cellar for five years and drink over the following fifteen.

2016 Dominus "Napanook" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 05-24-2019
Is there any better high-end value in Napa? Coming from the same vines as the First-Growth-quality Dominus Estate vineyards, Napanook is crafted under the stewardship of the same remarkable team. Deep aromas of blackberry, forest floor, and red florals lead the way to a gorgeous texture and waves of fruit that are balanced beautifully by the mouthwatering acidity. Echoes of blackberry turn more red towards the finish that lasts for a considerable amount of time. This is my favorite Napanook since the epic 2013, and it has all the pieces to age beautifully. It is a serious wine, but it is utterly delicious now all the same. Brilliant.

2018 La Gaffelière, St. Emilion
Review Date: 05-08-2019
This is one of my clear wines of the vintage - tasted three times, once at that chateau, all with consistent results. About half of La Gaffeliere's holdings are neighboring Ausone on the hillside right next to the town of Saint Emilion. In the past few vintages, they've dedicated more of their Grand Vin to this plot, and it shows. Good pure red fruit with a delicate floral aroma leads to an extraordinary and elegant palate that echoes the red fruit profile and ends with bright acidity and balanced tannin. There is 60% new oak here, but it is invisible. This is a take-notice vintage for La Gaffeliere

2009 Guiraud, Sauternes
Review Date: 05-08-2019
We were in Bordeaux this past April, enjoying yet another lovely dinner with a vast amount of wines, winding down from a long day. I almost overlooked the 2009 Guiraud sitting on the table until Trey caught my attention and mentioned that I should try it. On the first sip it was a stop-me-in-my-tracks quality wine that shook me out of my reverie. It carries the perfect balance of botrytis, tropical fruit, honey, orange blossom, and most importantly, plentiful mouthwatering acidity and abundant freshness. Brilliant.

2018 Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-06-2019
I'll have to admit, Malartic-Lagraviere grew on me as the week wend on. If our tasting at the property was any indication, this is a brilliant vintage for them, and one of the better buys in all of Pessac for 2018. As with many 2018s, there is a lot of deep black fruits in this wine, but a mouthwatering acidity and thread of minerality keeps it fresh. A compact core hints at a potential for great things over the years, but it might require patience to get there. But at the price point, it's hard to ask for much more.

2017 Wines Of Substance Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 04-19-2019
Another winner for the "CS" label from Wines of Substance, the 2017 shows some superb restraint and refinement compared to the more full-throttle (but delicious) 2015 and 2016 that preceded it. Deep and pure cherry aromas with hints of chocolate lead to a silky palate full of classic, deep Cab flavors of cassis, framboise, and fine vanilla-tinged tannins. All-too-easy to drink, it is a lot of wine for the money and very delicious right out of the gates, even at this early stage.

2015 E. Guigal Saint-Joseph Rouge
Review Date: 04-17-2019
The 2015s from Guigal are about as dependable and rewarding as they get, and the Saint-Joseph bottling is no exception. Bright aromas of red plum and tapenade lead to a fresh palate full of deep red fruits, and terrific texture, and fine tannins that lead to a clean finish. Although it will age wonderfully, there is a lot to appreciate at this early stage. Any fan of cool climate, refined Syrah should give this one a go.

2018 Branaire-Ducru, St-Julien
Review Date: 04-16-2019
I've always admired Branaire Ducru, but I've never been captured by a vintage of their wine in the same way as their splendid 2018. A core of bright red fruit and hint of cherry cola carries to a resounding finish. It is intense, full, but always refined. Tasted on four occasions, it never ceased to be one of the best wines in the room and is one of the great highlights of a superlative St-Julien vintage.

2018 Rouget, Pomerol
Review Date: 04-16-2019
I'll be the first to admit that Rouget isn't a name that I've historically spent time seeking out. That stops now. 2018 Rouget floored me on both occasions that I had the opportunity to try it, displaying a caliber that rivals the elite of this renowned appellation. Sweet red fruits on the nose lead to a clean, pure and layered palate that echoes the red fruit profile. Bright acidity carries a massively long finish with impressive extract and fine tannin. 2018 Rouget is complete and irresistible, and may turn out to be a stunning value in time.

2018 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 04-16-2019
Clearly the white wine of the vintage for me, with only a handful coming close. Honeydew, stonefruit, and a light touch of vanilla on the nose, the palate is textured and carries itself with a brightness that many others seemed to lack. Tasted multiple times throughout the week, it never failed to impress for its purity, density, and lift.

2018 Barde-Haut, St-Emilion
Review Date: 04-16-2019
Barde-Haut has shown an extra sense of refinement and focus in the past few vintages, and it is on display again with the 2018. The aromatics are stunning as they hold portents of a big rich wine that never come through. Instead the palate is extremely poised and balanced, polished with fine tannin, good acid, and solid persistence. The Merlot brings a lot of darker fruit profiles, but the Cab Franc (27%) keeps it fresh. Without a doubt, another winner for Barde-Haut that will find many fans early on, and as it ages over the years.

2018 Brane-Cantenac, Margaux
Review Date: 04-16-2019
Brane-Cantenac is a showstopper in 2018, confirmed on multiple tastings where is was often among the best in the room. There is a level of purity and refinement that has shown itself in the past few years but is center-stage in this vintage. Intermingling black and red fruits are surrounded by fine tannin, good intensity, and balanced acidity. There's a ton going on here and it should thrill collectors for a long time to come.

2018 Labégorce, Margaux
Review Date: 04-16-2019
Crafted by the free-spirited, and incredibly talented Marjolaine Maurice-de-Coninck, Labegorce has quickly evolved into a take-notice property in Bordeaux. Deeply fruited in 2018, it a lush and rich Margaux that is buoyed by a seamless texture and long finish. It is remarkably structured and will be fascinating to follow over the years.

2018 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 04-16-2019
Jean-Luc Zuger is one of the most practical and humble producers you'll ever meet. Combine that with the fact that his wines are among the best of Margaux in any given vintage and extremely well-priced, and you have a wine that you can safely go long on in a vintage as solid as 2018. This vintage trends towards a deeper, lusher side of Margaux, but still retains a signature floral aromatic and spicy palate. Bright acidity keeps everything fresh on this powerful, but beautiful red.

2018 Ducru-Beaucaillou, St-Julien
Review Date: 04-16-2019
Most years, there's a buzz about a certain wine from those on the ground at Bordeaux En Primeur - a name that seems to come up in discussions more than most. Ducru-Beaucaillou was that wine in 2018, and after tasting it, it was clear to see why. The aromas are deep and layered, making it tough to put our glass down. The palate shows great purity and hits that balance where it is rich but never in the least bit heavy. Constantly building through a mouthwatering finish that drips with pure black fruits, it also has the structure to handle the decadence. Considering what Bruno Borie has accomplished in the past decade, it is amazing that they can produce a wine that keeps raising the standard at Ducru-Beaucaillou.

2018 Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac
Review Date: 04-16-2019
It seems like every vintage has a champion of the First Growths...perhaps even moreso since Latour left En Primeur. In this vintage, it seemed clear that Lafite-Rothschild took that crown emphatically, with a simply transcendent Grand Vin. It tastes like Cabernet distilled to its most essential elements, with a truly classic and regal profile. Hitting all the right notes of pure red fruit, tobacco, cassis, and more, it carries an extremely long finish that makes it nearly impossible to forget. They seemed very proud of their 2018 at Lafite, and for good reason. This is one for the ages but might not take as long to come around as other more demanding vintages. It seems to have it all.

2018 Duhart-Milon, Pauillac
Review Date: 04-16-2019
As remarkable as Lafite is in 2018, they made another winner with their other Pauillac property in Duhart-Milon. Super finessed and seamless, it is almost accessibly at this incredibly early stage. Refined, with a silky texture and purple to black fruits, it unfurls on a deep, but never heavy palate. It has tons of room to grow through elevage and will most likely have a ton of upside for the years after release. Tasted three times, and impressive every time.

2018 Léoville-Las Cases, St-Julien
Review Date: 04-16-2019
A textbook LLC built on structure and depth, the 2018 is a brooding wine that might challenge many folks' patience, but reward them generously at the end of the day. Dark black and purple fruits surround a textured palate that adds a savory note through a persistent finish lined with fine-grained tannins. There is depth and density to spare.

2018 Pichon-Lalande, Pauillac
Review Date: 04-16-2019
Pichon-Lalande is among the best of 2018. It hit those beautiful red fruit notes that many properties missed, while retaining a super-classic profile that they seem to have perfected over the past few vintages. It is layered, intense, with deep cherry and plum, an fine textured palate, their signature herbal hint, and a long, cascading finish. Another masterclass in structure and style, 2018 Pichon-Lalande was the the highlight of the room most of the five times we were lucky enough to try it.

2018 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 04-16-2019
Their steadfast dedication to Biodynamic practices left Pontet-Canet's with a 2018 that was down over 70%, an incredible number for a property this size. The wine they did craft was very exotic and will thrill many wine drinkers from the new and old world alike. Juicy blue and black fruit frame a palate that has good acidity and a long finish tinged with vanilla and spice. It feels modern, but the alcohol is nearly a point lower than some of their neighbors to the north (if that's your measure). It is hedonistic, and undeniably delicious in 2018.

2018 Cos d'Estournel, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 04-16-2019
2018 Cos d'Estournel is a wine of sophistication and grace. It is extremely compact with a deep core of pure red fruit, while hinting at the enormous potential it has to age glacially over the coming decades. This is a wine that is all about potential and follows a string of vintages that mark a dramatic stylistic change from the wild, modern wines of a decade ago. Extremely polished, this is a Cos for the long run.

2018 Montrose, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 04-16-2019
This was one of my early wines of the vintage, starting with brilliant aromas that are all too easy to get lost in. On the palate there is waves of cassis and blackberry, with a layered and seamless texture, resounding acidity, and fine, grippy tannins. The depth in 2018 Montrose is stunning and it is extremely long. It is rare for a wine to offer this much at such an early stage. It is hard to go wrong with any of the elite St-Estephes in 2018, but for the complexity of the wine, I'm putting my vote in for Montrose. Another great addition to an amazing portfolio.

2015 Giuseppe Cortese "Rabaja" Barbaresco
Review Date: 04-16-2019
For many, Rabaja is about as good as it gets for Barbaresco, and Guiseppe Cortese's is not only one of the standard bearers for the vineyard, but the wines remain superbly priced. The aromatics are intriguing, with nuances of orange peel, raspberry, rose petal, and red cherry. On the palate it somehow combines the ripeness of the vintage with a hint of rusticity and a good amount of mouthwatering, deep red fruit. There's a lot going on here, but it might need a few years to really strut all its stuff - it is pretty structured for a '15.

2018 Clinet, Pomerol
Review Date: 04-15-2019
Perhaps my favorite Clinet since the 2010, and there are tons of highlights within that range. In contrast to the more structured 2015 and 2016, this year's flagship bottling is generous, polished, and incredibly delicious already. Waves of pure red fruits and fine grain tannin carry a long, long finish. It is certainly a bit on the modern side of things but never overdone - it manages balance deftly and with tons of character.

2018 Canon, St-Émilion
Review Date: 04-15-2019
2018 Canon is another winner for a property whose profile is rising to the elite of the Right Bank in recent years. There's great depth and wonderfully integrated acidity that frames deep red fruits and very fine texture. The purity is impressive as it finishes long. It is compact with a lot of stuffing - there is no doubt that it will age beautifully but only time will tell if it can rival the heights of their brilliant 2015 or 2016. But the fact that it is in that mold is a good sign.

2018 Hosanna, Pomerol
Review Date: 04-15-2019
Extremely engaging and enticing aromatics of pure black fruit have you going back to the glass. It is rich and round on the palate with a melange of blue and black fruit. Still, with all of the depth, there is a telltale elegance as flavors expand through on an impressively long finish. It will be interesting to follow as it ages as there's a lot going on in Hosanna's 2018.

2018 Bellefont-Belcier, St-Emilion
Review Date: 04-11-2019
Now owned and managed (superbly) by the Kwok team (Tour Saint Christophe, Haut Brisson), it is a new generation for Bellefont Belcier and the wines are very compelling at this early stage. The 2018 shows the brighter side of the vintage with a strong Cab Franc signature, floral aromas, and a soft, balanced profile. While many 2018s can come of as dense at this stage, there is a freshness to Bellefont Belcier that shows the kind of refinement that this terroir can exude. Well done.

2018 Cheval Blanc, St-Émilion
Review Date: 04-11-2019
Very compact and nuanced, Cheval Blanc's 2018 is luxurious on the palate and pulls through with a resounding, long finish. It is built around a mid-palate full of pure red fruit and a seamless texture. It is a wine full of class and has lots of stuffing that hold tremendous potential for patient collectors.

2018 Figeac, St-Émilion
Review Date: 04-11-2019
After the 2016 and 2017 played in wine-of-the-vintage territory, the 2018 had big shoes to fill. It did so effortlessly. Expressive aromas of cassis and tobacco lead to a textured, luxurious palate with extremely fine tannin and great purity. It is an intellectual wine that exudes depth and will be thrilling to follow over the years. Another winner from a must-try property that is on the upswing.

2018 La Conseillante, Pomerol
Review Date: 04-11-2019
Conseillante has produced some deep, dense wines in recent vintages; perhaps a counterpoint to their "Burgundy of Pomerol" archetype, but not worse for it. One of the most intriguing wines aromatically, it floats between blue and black fruits to a textured finish that marries oak tannin and minerality. There is lots of extract in this deep and wonderful Pomerol that might need a decade to unfurl.

2018 Canon-la-Gaffelière, St-Emilion
Review Date: 04-11-2019
Aromas of licorice and blackberry lead to a deeply fruited palate that is layered with good sweetness and acidity. It is a bit of a paradox - there is a richness to it, but it never seems overdone and at times shows great elegance. A good combination of the ripe merlot of the year and a healthy portion of very pure Cabernet (35% Franc, 15% Sauvignon) that interplay wonderfully.

2018 Haut-Brisson, St-Émilion
Review Date: 04-11-2019
This was a wine that our team enjoyed on multiple occasions through the trip and it certainly left an impact on us. With a deep, inky purple color, there's a hint of toasty oak on the nose (although only 30% new this vintage) that leads to a palate full of waves of blackberry, black cherry, and plum. Fine grain and slightly chewy tannins lead to a long finish. It is a sneaky good wine in 2018.

2018 Tour St-Christophe, St-Emilion
Review Date: 04-11-2019
There are few wineries in the world on a qualitative run like the folks at Tour Saint Christophe are experiencing right now. The 2018 continues that trend and shows the deeply fruited character of the vintage with deep aromas of figs and black plum leading to a palate with chalky tannin, ripe fruit, and baking chocolate. There is good depth here and although it'll be hard to resist young, it has the structure that will demand a few years.

2015 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 03-19-2019
Brilliant aromatics of wild strawberry, leather, and mint keep you coming back to the glass. That alone is worth the price of admission. The palate is pure, fresh, and vibrant with crisp cherry, fine grain tannins, and lively acidity that carries the finish. Wonderful on its own, but better with a meal, this is a wine that shows the graceful side of Sangiovese and is a wonderful representative of just how good the 2015 vintage can be.

2016 Domaine La Barroche "Signature" Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 03-07-2019
What a brilliant Châteauneuf. Starting off, it shows beautiful, lifted aromatics that keep you coming back to the glass. On the palate it shows a deft balance of lively acidity to showcase brambly berry fruit, fig, leather, and a textured minerality that gives it a wonderful sense of place. This is a great showcase for the 2016 vintage, combining freshness and depth. It it relatively light on it's feet and relies more on structure than volume. Drink now with a decant or enjoy anytime over the next decade-plus.

2016 Tenuta Sette Ponti "Oreno" Toscana
Review Date: 03-05-2019
Oreno has been a favorite of mine back to the 2006 when it started to get acclaim that matched its much more expensive peers. When it is on point, it is one of the most rewarding reds you'll find, and although this leaves a lot for the 2016 to live up to, it does so effortlessly. The aromas are subtle, with a gentle floral note and pure red fruits. The palate is compact and focused, one of the great signatures of the vintage, with a streak of acidity that lifts the flavors of black cherry and wild strawberry. 2016 Oreno is very polished and composed, a bit less forward than some recent vintages, but perhaps better for it. A great vintage of Oreno, this deserves a long decant now if you can't resist giving it a whirl, but it will be best with a few years in the cellar, drinking well for the next 10 to 20 years.

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