I’ve been writing this column for a couple of years now, and I found myself this time around with nothing new to share. Clearly, I had not been savoring enough new and different wines, which meant that I had not found any new ones to share. I resolved to fix this, and asked a favored wine broker to share six wines with me. The requirements: All were rated 90+ points by a recognized critic, and all cost less than $40 per bottle. I hosted a group of friends who all really like wines, none of which are aficionados. I’m sharing the top three wines from the evening.
CAROL SHELTON Karma Reserve Red Sonoma County 2014
A blend of premium Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Alicante Bouschet, and Viognier that’s lively and delicious with ripe blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry fruits. The wine received a review of 91 points from The Wine Spectator. The wine retails for $30.
MIRÓ CELLARS Pinot Noir Conzelman Vineyard Anderson Valley 2014
I generally don’t like Pinot Noirs. American Pinots have a tendency to not have a lot of fruit, or a lot of body. This Pinot is different! It is thoroughly lush, loaded with rich flavors of fresh coastal cherry, wild dark berries, and spicy orange, with a long, complex finish. It received 91 points from The Wine Enthusiast and a Silver Medal at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition. It retails for $36, but can be found for as little as $27.
Number 1—and a uniform first choice by all!
MONTAGU Silver Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2014
This is a big, very rich and smooth Cab—dark and complex, with terrific balance. It’s bursting with dark ripe Napa fruits: Blackberry, black cherry, fresh cassis, and wild berries. What really sets this wine apart is an amazing, almost opulent finish. Voted No. 1 Wine of the Year at 94 points from Wine Spectrum, it also took Double Gold at the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. How it was named is an interesting story. The winery owner, Weston Eidson, has a family history of British nobility. His great grandfather was Lord John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, who was the 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. Not only did he help to launch the 1909 Silver Ghost Rolls Royce, he had a very forbidden love affair with Eleanor Velasco Thornton, who he commissioned as the model for the legendary Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament on Rolls Royce automobiles. It retails for $36.