“These single-vineyard bottlings are like a snapshot of the place, and the 2016 Gran Enemigo El Cepillo Single Vineyard capture the wilderness and the (scarce) local vegetation of the place: thyme, rosemary, rockrose—austere and perfumed but not exotic. The cracked black peppercorn note on the palate reminded me that this is (mostly) a Cabernet Franc, with its fine-grained tannins and its long and dry finish. 2016 was an unusual year, with lots of rain and cooler temperatures that complicated things in many places, but it was exceptional in many high-altitude locations within the Valle de Uco where El Cepillo is. This is both powerful and delicate, while the 2015 is more direct. This is simply superb.” (Special Order)
Catena Zapata - Wine Advocate
Catena Zapata White Bones Chardonnay - 2018
“The 2018 White Bones Chardonnay shows a slightly showier personality than the 2018 White Stones, but it's less balsamic and minty than the 2017 White Bones. But this bottling is always a little more aromatic and forward than the more backward White Stones; there are flowers, pollen, herbs and white pepper. But both whites are more about the place and vintage, more about the chalky soils that give them a very specific mouthfeel, with a dry, austere personality.”
“The three reds from Adrianna vineyard felt quite homogeneous in quality; perhaps the slightly warmer years provide more even wines, and the cooler vintages tend to show more differences. Having said that, I was quite impressed by the 2017 Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Terrae, a wine that is usually more backward and is sold later than the other two. There is clout and power but with balance and finesse. The ripeness is very contained, and the texture on the palate is similar to the other two. I guess they harvested earlier to compensate the lower yields and the warm end of the season.”
“The red flagship 2015 Contador was selected from vines over 60 years of age, and it fermented in oak vats with indigenous yeasts and matured in new French oak barrels for 20 months. It feels like a great vintage for the top bottling, as it has enough ripeness and concentration but is also terribly elegant, floral and nuanced. 2015 was a warm and dry year with the risk of excessive wines, but this Contador is beautifully balanced and has a rare combination of concentration and lightness. There is a nice core of freshness that lifts the wine up and gives it length.”
“The 2016 Poggio ai Merli is gorgeous. That's the short and the long of it. Merlot shows some of its best performances ever in Tuscany in the 2016 vintage. This wine is exceedingly smooth and silky, yet its tightly knit fiber supports a generous profile that ranges from dark cherry to spice, to tobacco and fresh potting soil. On the palate, the wine is rich and large in scope, yet it never leaves behind any residual heaviness. Castellare di Castellina has created a true beauty (with only 4,000 precious bottles made).”
"Medium to deep garnet-purple in color, the nose on the 2009 Hill of Grace is a little closed, though it reveals notes of warm black plums, blackberry coulis and cloves with subtle nuances of dried Provence herbs, forest floor and lavender. Medium to full-bodied, it possesses layers of medium to full-bodied black fruit and earth-laced flesh elegantly structured by a medium to firm level of finely grained tannins, nicely balanced acid and a long finish."
“I hope one day to have another chance to taste a vertical of Roccamonfina Terra di Lavoro because I have a strong feeling the 2010 will occupy a place among the very finest vintages produced on this tiny vineyard on the slopes of the Roccamonfina volcano. An exotic melange of tar, smoke, graphite, blackberry jam and savory herbs explode from the glass. The 2010 is intense and full-bodied, yet also incredibly elegant. A big, breathtaking wine, the 2010 continues to build all the way through to a deeply resonant, expressive finish. I would choose to leave this uttterly beguiling Campanian red alone for the better part of a decade, but readers are going to have a very hard time excercising that patience. This is a fabulous effort from proprietors Arturo and Dora Celentano, and their long-time winemaker Riccardo Cotarella.”
The 2004 Terra di Lavoro is off the charts. Everything is in perfect balance. Silky, refined tannins frame an explosive core of dark red fruit, smoke, minerals, ash, bacon fat, leather and minerals. The 2004 continues to develop exquisitely in the glass, with layers of aromatics, fruit and structure that continue to blossom over the course of several hours. The 2004 still needs bottle age, as it is incredibly primary. Its elegance, however, is impossible to miss. This bottle is simply out of this world. It now seems pretty obvious I underestimated the wine when I first tasted it a few years ago. One day the 2004 will be viewed in the same league with Mastroberardino's famous 1968 Taurasis as among the most monumental wines ever made in southern Italy.
Galardi's 2008 Terra di Lavoro is a legend in the making. It is a fabulously ripe, rich and seductive wine endowed with beautifully articulated dark plums, ash, leather, licorice, all of which meld together in an explosive, utterly thrilling display of class and elegance. Clean, mineral notes frame the eternal finish. Today the 2008 is impossibly young and the wine will require considerable patience, but its class, pedigree and potential are all first-rate. Simply put, the 2008 is a monumental Terra di Lavoro.
The 2005 Malbec Argentino is a blend of the Nicasia and Adrianna vineyards. As is often the case, the blend is better (although not by much) than either of the individual components. It offers great complexity both aromatically and on the palate, opulence, great fruit expression and superb aging potential.