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Staff Favorites - John Sumners

John Sumners

Reviews

2017 Black Slate "Gratallops" Priorat
Review Date: 02-18-2020
Jammy purple and black fruit give an explosive impression right off the bat. Melted licorice, violets, rosemary, and clove-centric spice add to the package. While certainly not shy with the fruit on the palate, there's a fine sense of freshness and structure to reign in the richness. This is a lot of wine for the money and would be a fine choice for those looking for food-worthy bigger reds. Leg of lamb would make an obviously great companion.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2017 2017 Esporão "Colheita" Red Blend Alentejo Portugal
Review Date: 02-07-2020
This blend of Aragonês (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Touriga Franca from the Alentejo region 75 miles east of Lisbon proves a sturdy companion at the table. Zesty notes of ripe raspberry, dried cherry, and fresh plums combine with accents of clove, black tea, brick dust, red rose, leather, and tobacco to form an admirably rustic profile. Possessing ample tannin and countryside character, it positively cries out for service with fatty Portuguese/Spanish sausages and meaty stews. Fans of Carignan will find a lot to love in this tasty and unpretentious bottling.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

2016 Adega de Penalva "Indigena" Tinto Dao
Review Date: 02-07-2020
Inviting tones of poached plums, black fig, ripe black cherry, and black raspberry intermingle with complexities of mulling spices, violets, sandalwood, and black tea in this charming blend from the Dão region of central Portugal. The woodsy spice notes of the 30% Jaen (Mencia in Spain) really shine through. Medium-bodied, harmonious, genteel, silky textured, and extremely well priced, it's a perfect choice for casual dinners and gatherings with friends. Undeniably delicious, and over-delivering at the price.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart

2013 Quinta dos Murças Reserva Douro Portugal
Review Date: 02-07-2020
A distinctive sense of place shines through in this phenomenal Douro red. Notes of baked black plum, black raspberry, and currant are framed by hot stone, leather, sweet tobacco leaf, espresso, baking chocolate, dark spice, and a dash of vanilla. There's a great convergence of both power and poise, with fresh focus and well-integrated tannin carrying the flavors through a very long finish. Devotees of the famed wines of Ribera del Duero in Spain would be well served taking a trip downriver for this striking example of a classically Portuguese old-vine Douro blend.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

2017 Ridge Vineyards "Pagani Ranch" Sonoma Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 01-27-2020
From a legendary producer and a storied, ancient-vine vineyard comes yet another Zin that flirts with perfection. An outpouring of ripe wild berries, dried red cherry, plum galette, and exotic spices greet the nose along with additional accents of red rose, white tea, mint, tobacco, and vanilla. There's a rich generosity on the palate tempered by the hallmark Ridge precision and pinpoint focus that is a cornerstone of their winemaking style. Zin is so tricky to get just right...capturing all that ebullient fruit and spice without sacrificing balance, complexity, and finesse...yet Ridge manages to accomplish this regularly. A special producer, a special property, and a special wine.

2016 Peter Franus "Brandlin Vineyard" Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 01-27-2020
Brandied red and black cherry, cassis, blueberry compote, and ripe black fig take center stage on the nose of this rich mountain Cab. Add to that additional notes of sweet tobacco, cedar, licorice, mocha, baking spices, vanilla, toffee, and a touch of pine straw, and you've got another complex, layered standout from the spectacular 2016 vintage. Silky textured yet perfectly focused and balanced, this is just as easily a winter evening sipping wine as it is a steakhouse star. Drinks better than many Napa Cabs costing twice the price.

2018 Pedro Martinez Alesanco Blanco Rioja
Review Date: 01-27-2020
Fresh, crisp, and yet flavor packed, this is a delightful little gem of a white Rioja. Juicy granny smith apple, Asian pear, and lemon/lime lead the way with supporting aromatic notes of tangerine zest, honeysuckle, baking bread, and a touch of almond. About as perfect an everyday white as is possible, it's a versatile food companion as well as an ideal park/patio/picnic wine. An absolute steal at the price!
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart

2017 Quinta Vale do Meao "Meandro" Douro
Review Date: 01-24-2020
With its fresh, rich raspberry/boysenberry and dried red cherry fruit, this tasty red blend from the Douro immediately demands attention. Spicy notes of pink peppercorn, clove, and oregano/sage pair up with vanilla, leather, red rose, and coffee-toffee to provide further complexity and interest. Well structured with crunchy/chewy tannins and a long finish, it's an obvious go-to with roasted meats, rustic stews, Iberian sausages, or salty cheeses. Fans of reds from the southern coast of France and the south of Italy should definitely give this hearty Portuguese bottling a try.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2015 Jaume Giró i Giró Brut Nature Elaboraciá Artesana Reserva
Review Date: 01-24-2020
Think Cava can't go toe-to-toe with Champagne in terms of complexity and overall harmony? This thrilling wine has something to say about that. Beautiful notes of Fuji apple, brioche, macadamia, lemon zest, wet stone, and a hint of baking spices entice on the nose. Add to that a creamy texture and a racy, bone-dry minerally finish, and you've got a Cava that can stand with Champagne at twice the price...all the while still retaining its distinctive "Cava-ness". Truly delicious and wonderfully versatile. At this price, it's a top candidate for your house bubbly.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2018 Passionate Wines "Del Mono" Tinto Tupungato
Review Date: 01-21-2020
Fresh wild raspberry and blackberry leap from the glass in this expressive and fun red from Tupungato in the Uco Valley of Mendoza. Floral notes of lavender and rose petal chime in accompanied by sandalwood, potpourri spice, oregano, rosemary, and pink peppercorn. It's lively, bright, focused, and decidedly medium-bodied on the palate with just a whisper of tannin on the finish. A wonderful weekday red at a guilt-free price, this will be a versatile companion on the table for anything from roast chicken to sausage pizza to portabello burgers to marinated flank steak.
Price: $11.49 Add To Cart

2013 Markovitis Xinomavro Naoussa Greece
Review Date: 01-19-2020
Fresh berries lead on the nose of this lovely Greek varietal. Red cherry, sweet red plum, blueberry, and raspberry are accented with notes of baking spices, balsamic, red vines, star anise, tobacco, clove, red rose, and cedar. Medium bodied and freshly focused, there's a sense of class from top to bottom. A generous dusting of sweet, chalky tannin rounds out the finish. Fans of classically-styled Bordeaux, Friulian Merlot, and the more elegant renditions of Chianti would be very well served by this delicious and affordable bottling.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2018 Zudugarai "Amats" Getariako Txakolina
Review Date: 01-13-2020
A perfect brunch wine or pairing for shellfish from start to finish, this inexpensive little gem of a wine is the definition of crisp, fun, and refreshing. Granny Smith apple, lime, green melon rind, wet stone, and a hint of almond meld cohesively into a delightful and lightly effervescent package. It's long and minerally and leaves the palate begging for another sip. Whether it's called on for service with clams, oysters, crab, shrimp, an omelette, huevos rancheros, or any other seafood or brunch pairing, this will do the trick perfectly. A brilliant choice for parties as well.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2016 Von Strasser Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 01-13-2020
This is another absolute beauty from Rudy von Strasser. The nose presents a gorgeous mix of black raspberry, currant, and blueberry framed by sweet tobacco leaf, cedar, mocha, red rose, leather, baking spices, vanilla, and licorice root. It stays every bit as harmonious and poised on the palate while fine-grain tannins provide the structure to age well or stand up to steakhouse fare. Really shows a lot of elegance combined with plenty of richness and power. A great example from the truly stellar 2016 vintage.
Price: $49.95 Add To Cart

2016 Pedro Martinez Alesanco Garnacha Rioja
Review Date: 01-07-2020
Dramatic and rich on the nose with a core of raspberry/boysenberry reduction and cherry galette framed by notes of licorice, bay leaf, thyme, leather, vanilla, rose petal, baking chocolate, and pink peppercorn. While the richness of flavor carries through on the palate, a perfect core of fresh acidity and dusty tannin keeps the wine from being weighty or over-the-top. This is a great example of the richness that Spain achieves with Garnacha but with an unusual level of class and impeccable balance. Downright yummy. Loads of fun and begging for roasted leg of lamb or barbecued meats.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2017 Losada Mencia Bierzo
Review Date: 01-07-2020
Pure, lively notes of ripe black raspberry and kirsch serve up a delightful first impression backed up by clove, pine straw, tobacco, and rose petal. It has excellent freshness on the palate with good focus, light tannin, and a delicate texture. This is a perfect easygoing red for service with Spanish cheeses, sausages, and even red sauced pasta dishes. A very fine value at the price.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2016 Upchurch "Upchurch Vineyard" Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 01-06-2020
A world-class stunner from start to finish. It opens on the nose with ripe redcurrant, red and black cherry, and black raspberry with accents of tobacco, red rose, cedar, brick dust, cinnamon, vanilla, leather, and licorice root. The flavors are deep, saturating, and long on the palate while maintaining a beautifully poised structure and impeccable balance. Wonderfully complex and complete. It is already a pure joy to drink now, though it should evolve extraordinarily well over the next 20 years. If you ever wondered what Red Mountain Cabernet is all about, here's your ticket to the show.

2016 Sullivan Estate Rutherford Napa Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 01-05-2020
This is a remarkably understated and classy wine for its typically more flashy region. Aromas of Fuji apple, lime, and dried pineapple lead on the nose with accents of white flowers, brioche, orange zest, and wet stone. A subtle note of baking spices adds a touch of complexity on the palate. Lacy, delicate, medium-bodied, and full of restrained charm, this Napa Chardonnay is a refreshing counterpoint to many of the more richly flamboyant wines in its neighborhood. Well priced and food-friendly.
Price: Hidden View Price

2016 Cultivar Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 01-05-2020
Beautiful nose of dried redcurrant, raspberry compote, and red cherry framed by tobacco, black tea, vanilla, pink peppercorn, rosemary, and cedar. It's distinctly red-fruited and more medium-bodied on the palate with fine focus, silky texture, and good harmony. This is a downright pretty, value Napa Cab suited for early drinking and food-versatility. Should be right at home with anything from a portobello burger to pork chops. Also a fine sip on its own.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2016 Jax Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 12-30-2019
Another knockout from star winemaker Kirk Venge. This is a classic Calistoga Cab from start to finish. Gorgeous nose of blackberry compote, black cherry, and cassis interwoven with mocha, tobacco, clove, cedar, licorice, and baking spices. Round and silky on the palate with excellent focus and no excessive heaviness. Long finish with just enough dusty tannin to give it structure and fine cellar potential, though it’s already drinking exceptionally well. Think Montelena Estate with more buoyant fruit and immediate appeal. This is a brilliant Cab for fifty bucks. Drinks WAY above its price point.
Price: $49.95 Add To Cart

2007 Spring Mountain Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 12-17-2019
A fabulous mountain Cab from the legendary 2007 vintage at a gorgeous place in its evolution…What more could you want?! It has plenty of primary power left in the tank while displaying the elegance and complexity that comes with over a decade in bottle. Cassis, mulled black cherry, blackberry, and blueberry intermingle with notes of cedar, tobacco leaf, anise, baking spices, old leather, and vanilla. A touch of dark stony minerality and damp pine forest lend their Spring Mountain stamp of origin. The long and elegant finish rounds out the complete package with fine, dusty tannin. While so many current Napa releases of this pedigree cost significantly more and demand cellar time, here we have an example of a magnificent Napa mountain Cab in its prime glory years. A relative steal at the price.
Price: $79.95 Add To Cart

2007 Spring Mountain Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (1.5L)
Review Date: 12-17-2019
A fabulous mountain Cab from the legendary 2007 vintage at a gorgeous place in its evolution…What more could you want?! It has plenty of primary power left in the tank while displaying the elegance and complexity that comes with over a decade in bottle. Cassis, mulled black cherry, blackberry, and blueberry intermingle with notes of cedar, tobacco leaf, anise, baking spices, old leather, and vanilla. A touch of dark stony minerality and damp pine forest lend their Spring Mountain stamp of origin. The long and elegant finish rounds out the complete package with fine, dusty tannin. While so many current Napa releases of this pedigree cost significantly more and demand cellar time, here we have an example of a magnificent Napa mountain Cab in its prime glory years. A relative steal at the price.
Price: $179.99 Add To Cart

2015 Cristom "Estate" Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 12-17-2019
A deliciously sippable and well-priced top tier Willamette Pinot from a touchstone producer. Deep red cherry, ripe raspberry, and strawberry fruit lead on the nose accented by pink peppercorn, sandalwood, and cinnamon red hots with hints of mulling spices and pine straw. The silky ripeness of the fruit is offset by good integrated acidity and a veil of fine-grain tannin. This has a bright future ahead of it, though it’s no crime to drink it now. Salmon, duck, and mushroom risotto, you’ve met your match.
Price: $39.95 Add To Cart

2016 Ann Albert "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 12-17-2019
A graceful rendition from this legendary vineyard. Fresh and lively aromas of lemon curd, pineapple core, baked granny smith apple, rising sourdough, orange blossom, and white rose make an enticing initial impression. It comes across lithe and charming on the palate with a finishing touch of lime zest and macadamia. This is an extremely fine example of the wonderful elegance that can be coaxed from cool, coastal Santa Barbara fruit. While utterly delicious already, it should develop nicely over the next 5-7 years as well.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2016 Acumen "Mountainside" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 12-03-2019
This lovely 2016 Napa red leads out on the nose with Morello cherry, black raspberry, and blueberry fruit laced with sweet tobacco, cedar, baking spices, mocha, vanilla, and a hint of pine straw. Focused and harmonious with an open-knit, silky texture, it's already drinking beautifully. This is a great Napa blend for the price. An impressive showing and an ideal everyday wine for the California Cab lovers out there.
Price: $29.95 Add To Cart

Michel Arnould "Reserve" Brut Verzenay Champagne
Review Date: 11-25-2019
Baked green apple, tart berry, and deep citrus tones lead the way in this richly flavored treat. Accents of nougat, hazelnut, pie crust, and wet stone round out the package. This is a spectacular value in the high-priced world of Grand Cru Champagne. Long, flavor-packed, classy, and impeccably focused, there are no rough edges. Forget your big-house NV Brut…this fabulously priced bubbly should be your new go-to.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2014 Von Strasser Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-25-2019
An icon of Napa’s Diamond Mountain District, Rudy von Strasser is known for his expressive yet beautifully balanced winemaking. During the spectacular run of superb Napa vintages from 2012-2016, the finessed and detailed Cabernets of 2014 stand out for their poise and focus. This is no exception as rich black cherry, plum, and mission fig flavors are tied together with impressive elegance. The wine is rounded out with pretty oak spice, tobacco, peppercorn, mocha, and toffee tones. Very well-priced and already drinking extraordinarily well, this should gain additional harmony and complexity over the next 10 years.
Price: $49.95 Add To Cart

2017 Domaine de l'Ermitage "Victor" Costières de Nîmes Rouge
Review Date: 11-25-2019
Crunchy, fresh red and black fruit and herbed accents give this quaffable, spicy/peppery southern French bistro red instant appeal with a wide variety of casual fare. Seeing only concrete (no oak), the wine maintains its charmingly rustic immediacy and character. From barbecue to steak-au-poivre to cassoulet to pizza to sipping in the park, this is a brilliant everyday red under $10. An obvious case buy.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart

2017 TED by Mount Edward Central Otago Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-25-2019
Rich red and black fruit, oak spice, and a polished, toasty-smoky edge give this distinctly New-World Pinot an immediate generosity. While it is indeed a more “modern” style, the wine still has excellent refreshing zest and focus to keep you coming back for more. Never cloying, overdone, or heavy, this is a great example of New-World value priced Pinot done right. All the fans of the Russian River out there would be well-advised to branch out with this lovely everyday red from Central Otago.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2018 Field Recordings "Wonderwall" Edna Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-25-2019
Loaded with earthy spice and silky, focused fruit, this is a great representation of the cool coastal Edna Valley. Andrew Jones has hit this one out of the park with all of its pristine fruit, spicy complexity, freshness, and fun drinkability. You’d be hard-pressed at this price point to find a California Pinot with more balance and charm. Your “house Pinot” has arrived.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2016 Melville "Estate" Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-21-2019
Fresh red plum, raspberry, and Bing cherry lead on the nose, framed by red rose, dried maple leaf, and pink peppercorn with hints of savory herbs and wet stone. Flavorful, finely balanced, nuanced, and brimming with class, this is a delightful rendition of the distinctive Melville style. A perfect companion for duck and roasted pork preparations. This is open-knit and ready to go, though it’ll age well if so desired.

2017 Brewer-Clifton Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
Review Date: 11-21-2019
This is a textbook appellation-level expression of both the region and producer. Candied citrus rind, honeydew melon, white rose, sourdough, and chalk combine with hints of smokiness and toasted grain from the reductive winemaking style (no new oak used…only neutral barrels) on the nose. Zesty, intensely focused, and flavor-packed with brisk acidity, it is fabulous now, but will clearly age beautifully. A marriage of California coastal sunshine through a Chablis-like winemaking lens.