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Top 10 wines in the US press

Kermit Lynch, Côtes du Rhône 2011, France

Rebecca Murphy, writing in the Dallas News, called Kermit Lynch a “legendary” importer, distributor and retailer of French and Italian Wines in recommending its 2011 Côtes du Rhône.

She said: “His time with the vintners whose work he admires has inspired Lynch to try his hand at creating wines under his label. He works with local growers and winemaker Jean-François Pasturel to create several wines such as this one from the southern Rhone Valley in France. Light strawberry flavors from Grenache and Syrah’s moody blackberry fruit with a whiff of black pepper join forces in a precise and savory expression of a classic style from the region. Its light weight, decisive acidity and dusty tannins insist upon food. Enjoy it with a pizza or seared meat hot off the grill.”

Price: $17 to $20

Linden Vineyards Hardscrabble Chardonnay 2011, Virginia, US

Dave McIntyre, writing in the Washington Post, picked out a number of wines from the Linden Vineyard in Virginia, including this “fresh and citrusy” Chardonnay.

He said: “One of my favorite Chardonnays every year, though I prefer it when it’s about 10 years old. The rainy harvest, with only three sunny days in September, took its toll, reducing the crop by half and hitting some of the remainder with “good” botrytis, a rot that concentrates the juice. “It’s a little more exotic than we usually get,” Law says. I found it fresh and citrusy with a creamy texture. This includes fruit from Law’s oldest vines as well as younger plantings.”

Price: $35

Linden Vineyards Petit Verdot 2010, Virginia, US

Another of McIntyre’s Linden Vineyard favourites was this Petit Verdot.

He said: “Petit Verdot traditionally is used as part of the red blend in Bordeaux, but it shines on its own in Virginia. Linden’s 2010 is lush and intense, from the warmest vintage on record for the commonwealth, with dry, almost chewy tannins on the finish. It carries its high alcohol well. It needs several years in your cellar, or a few hours in a decanter before pairing with a substantial meat dish.”

Price: $28

Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2012, Italy

Sandra Silfven, writing in the Detroit News, picked a number of wines from Banfi – an American company which sells Italian wines out of New York’s Little Italy – which included this “full-bodied” Sangiovese.

She said: “You could call this wine the little brother of the famous Brunello di Montalcino — it is not aged as long nor are the grapes quite the level of Brunello but this one hits all the right notes and gives you a preview of the real deal. It’s an elegant, full-bodied Sangiovese from this notable producer. It has warm, toasty aromas of blackberry, cherry, dark plum, vanilla and spice. Tannins are silken, oak is nicely woven through the dark berry fruit and hint of herbs and spice.”

Price: $25

Castello Banfi “Belnero” IGT Toscana 2011, Italy

Another of Silfven’s favourite wines from Banfi was this Tuscan red made from a blend of Sangiovese and French varietal grapes.

She said: “Soft, supple tannins, black cherry and plum flavors with a blast of spice — this harmonious red is mostly Sangiovese filled in with noble French varietals. It was fermented in French oak and aged 14 months in wood. It’s a big, rich, modern wine. It’s off estate vineyards in the southern hills of Montalcino. This wine doesn’t meet the specs for DOCG or DOC but is still considered a great wine, hence the IGT classification, which gives vintners like Banfi more leeway.”

Price: $28

2012 Kendall-Jackson Avant Red Blend, California, US 

This “penetrating” red blend from the Californian Kendall-Jackson winery was recommended by Michael Dresser, writing in The Baltimore Sun this week.

He said: “This new brand from the massive Kendall-Jackson wine empire is a worthy choice in the middling price range. K-J wines may not thrill elite critics, but their quality is very consistent and the wines are widely available. This smooth, penetrating wine is a skillful blend of red grapes that yields lush flavors of raspberry, black cherry, chocolate and spices. In French, Avant means “forward” and that’s a good description of this wine’s style. It’s for now, not later.”

Price: $17

Piccini Memoro Bianco NV, Italy

Dennis Sodomka, writing in the Augusta Chronicle, called this Italian red a “fantastic blend” with the aroma of apricot, apple and delicate floral notes.

He said: “This is a wine you can sip by itself, but it really opens up when you pair it with food. The company chose a compass rose for the label to suggest the bottle contains expressions of four distinct Italian regions: Sicily, Trentino, Maremma Toscana and Marche. The blend is 40% Viognier, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Vermentino and 10% Pecorino.

“The owners said they wanted a wine that would not only taste Italian, but feel Italian. After much research, experimentation, testing and blending, they came up with a great formula. The Viognier from Sicily lends warmth, structure and soft tannins as a result of malolactic fermentation in wood barrels. Chardonnay, from the cooler climate Trentino, adds apricot and apple aromas and a fresh taste. Vermentino from Maremma adds delicate floral notes, and the ancient Italian grape of Pecorino from Marche adds sweet pear.”

Price: $10 to $12

2011 Bouchard Aîné & Fils Pouilly Fuissé, Mâconnais, France

Colette Bancroft, writing in The Tampa Bay Times, recommended this “tropical” Chardonnay from Bouchard Aîné & Fils Pouilly Fuissé.

She said: “From time to time, we like to return to a wine we’ve reviewed favorably to see how it’s holding up and whether the latest vintage pleases us as much as the earlier one. The 2011 Bouchard Aîné & Fils Pouilly Fuissé drinks just as fetchingly as the 2009, which we sampled in 2012. We paid about $17 at a big-box wine store.

“This slightly reticent white is 100% Chardonnay vinified in stainless steel and aged briefly in oak. It hails from France’s Mâconnais villages appellation.

“It is shy at first, its nose offering mild pear and subtle papaya plus a subtle mineral note and a little floral flutter. Both pear and papaya are very much to the fore on the tongue, abetted by a flirty hint of butterscotch. The finish is long and very crisp, flint giving way to a burst of lime at the finale. Overall, this is a very tropical approach for a French wine.”

Price: $17

2011 Capezzana Barco Reale di Carmignano DOC, Carmignano, Tuscany, Italy

This “classic” Tuscan red was recommended by Gil Lempert-Schwarz, writing in the Las Vegas Review Journal this week, made from a blend of Sangiovese Grosso and Cabernet Sauvignon.

He said: “In the glass: Capezzana Barco Reale is a very dark cherry-red color with a dense opaque core going out into a fine crimson-red rim definition with medium-high viscosity. On the nose: There are immediate huge concentrated gobs of black aromatic fruit with black cherries, brambleberries, black spicy plum notes, some wood notes, wet tobacco, dark chocolate, herbs de Provence, fresh salvia and hints of meaty minerals. It has a classically Tuscan nose.

“On the palate: The wine just coats the palate with classic Tuscan character meaning black cherry compote, plum marmalade, extracted slightly spicy and wooded notes of blackberries, currants, tobacco, minerals and light herbs. The midpalate is powerful and mouth-filling showcasing rounded tannins that are in complete harmony with the fruit, going into a lovely finish that just lingers for 30-plus seconds with lots of dark fruit and cherry concentrate. Definitely one of the most delicious Tuscan wines in this category that I have tasted recently.”

Price: $11.99

NV Champagne Philipponnat Brut Réserve Rosé, Champagne, France

Finally, Irene Virbila, writing in the LA Times, picked Philopponnat’s Brut Réserve Rosé as her wine of the week calling it a “bargain rosé Champagne perfect for a summer brunch.”

She said: “When a friend invites you to a birthday brunch or long-planned summer dinner party, you don’t necessarily want to show up with a bottle of Trader Joe’s Prosecco. But a bottle of rosé Champagne? Now that suits the occasion.

“The family-run Philopponnat’s Brut Réserve Rosé is a beauty, a gorgeous deep pink, with the scent of toast and roses, the taste of mirabelle plums, a fine mousse — and a long, elegant finish. It’s a reminder of how very alluring a well-made rosé Champagne can be. As these sparkling wines go, it’s something of a bargain too. And if you want to make a big statement, John & Pete’s in West Hollywood has the Philipponnat rosé in a magnum ($130). I like the idea too of a half bottle ($30) from Hi-Time Wine Cellars to start off dinner with a significant other.”

Price: $50

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