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Top 10 wines in the US press

2013 Alheit Vineyards Bush Vines “Cartology”, South Africa

Irene Virbila, writing for the LA Times, recommended this “very unusual” wine from South Africa made from old-vine Chenin Blanc and 12% Sémillon.

She said: “The 2013 Alheit Vineyards “Cartology” is elegant and refined, with an opulent scent of apricot, lemon and flowers. The taste is ripe and lush, but there’s a tautness and minerality to the Chenin Blanc/Sémillon that brings it all into balance. This is a real stunner that just keeps getting better and better in the glass. Perfect for a special dinner party over the holidays. This would be a terrific match with butter-poached lobster, Dungeness crab or pan-seared Tasmanian ocean trout.”

Price: $50 to $53

Au Contraire, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir 2012

Rebecca Murphy described this Californian Pinot, the first to be released by Taub Family Vineyards, as “polished” writing in Dallas News.

She said: “The Taub family of Palm Bay Imports makes a stylish entrance into the winemaking arena with this pretty Pinot Noir. It has elegant cherry and raspberry fruit laced with baking spices and dried rose petals. Velvety texture, crisp acidity and silky tannins complete this polished wine. It is versatile enough to serve with grilled salmon or a roasted pork tenderloin.”

“The father-and-son team of Marvin and David Taub started their company in 1977, importing two Italian brands. Today the company represents around 50 wineries from 13 countries. The third generation of the family is represented by Marc Taub as president and CEO. Au Contraire is the company’s first wine from Taub Family Vineyards. It’s an auspicious debut.”

Price: $30 to $31.99

Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Gold Top Brut 2005, Champagne, France

As Christmas draws tantalisingly near, thoughts inevitably turn to fizz. Dave McIntyre, writing in the Washington Post, picked a selection of great value sparklers to toast the festivities, including this vintage Champagne.

He said: “Champagne is expensive, typically costing from $30 a bottle on up. The best values tend to kick in around the $40-to-$50 range. That’s another reason to treat Champagnes like fine wine and savor them out of a decent glass.”

Of this 2005 Heidsieck he said: “A “great value” for $50? Absolutely, when you’re talking vintage Champagne at this quality. The wine is generous and friendly, as welcoming as a roaring fire in winter.”

Price: $50

Gonet-Medeville Blanc de Noirs Premier Cru Brut, Champagne, France

Another of McIntyre’s sparkling recommendations was this Gonet-Medeville Blanc de Noirs.

He said: “Another delicious Champagne, racy with red currant and mineral flavors. Blanc de Noirs means a white wine from black (red) grapes. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir from chalky soils, and is precisely focused and energetic. It wants you to sit up and take notice.”

Price: $52

Perticaia Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2009

Sandra Silfven, writing in the Detroit News, recommended this powerful red made from Sagrantino – a grape indigenous to Italy’s Umbria region.

She said: “This is a big, powerful, gorgeous red — full-bodied with bold, earthy flavors of dark plum, dark cooking spices — cinnamon, nutmeg — framed with dusty tannins and firm acidity. It’s drinking well now, but obviously has the structure and stuffing to age a long time. “Perticaia” means “plow” and seemed the natural name for vintner Guido Guardigli to give his winery.”

Price: $47

Antonelli San Marco Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007

“OMG!” was Silfven’s response to this “intense, concentrated and brooding” Italian red.

She said: “It’s like inhaling the aromas off the skins of ripe stone fruit — especially black plums. Think dark berries, dark dried fruit, dark chocolate, espresso, firm acidity, big tannins. Wine critic James Suckling gave it 95 points.”

Price: $45

Helfrich Crémant D’Alsace NV, France

Dennis Sodomka, writing in the Augusta Chronicle, picked this Helfrich Crément D’Alsace as his wine of the week – a wine made using the same method as Champagne, but unable to be called Champagne as its grapes are grown outside of the region.

He said: “The Helfrich Crémant D’Alsace is perfect for holiday experimenting. Helfrich wines are not well known in the United States, so you might have to look for this in a restaurant, but it is available to local wine shops.

“This dry sparkling wine is a beautiful pale straw yellow color with plenty of tiny bubbles. Many sparklers don’t have much aroma, but this one has a subtle lemon and green apple hint. It has a great, fresh mouthfeel with pear, green apple and an elegant mineral taste. The mild acidity brings a crisp finish that lingers just a bit. This is a pleasing, fun wine.”

Price: $19 to 21

MontGras Reserva Carmenere 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile

This “bombtastic” 100% Carmenére from Chile’s Colchagua Valley was recommended by Gil Lempert-Schwarz writing in the Las Vegas Review Journal.

He said: “There is an immediate huge mouth-feel with concentrated wild cherries, pepper-laced and spicy blackberries, huckleberries, bell peppers, massive phenol-laden structure, earthy minerals and oak references. The mid-palate is highly impacted by the liqueur-like cherry and elderberry fruit with notes of sloe fruit, herbs and earthy minerals and then the bombastic finish sets in lasting for a full minute with yet more licorice root, star anise and wood. That is some delivery for $10 bottle of wine!”

Price: $9.99

MacRostie, 2012 Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir

This $42 Pinot Noir from California’s Russian River Valley was crowned Peg Melnik’s wine of the week writing in The Press Democrat – which she said was a “fair price for the quality of the Pinot.”

She said: “This Pinot has a dashing kind of elegance. It has bright fruit and vibrant acidity. Aromas and flavors of pomegranate, red currant and spice. Great structure. Just lovely.”

Price: $42

Fulcrum, 2012 Brosseau Vineyard Pinot Noir

Finally, Melnik recommended this “impressive” Pinot Noir from Brosseau in California’s Chalone AVA.

She said: “This Pinot makes a big impression. It’s complex and bold, with notes of blueberry, licorice and cracked black pepper. Nice touch of mineral. Firm tannins. Impressive.”

Price: $55

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