Every January we look back on the previous year and the wines that we have tasted. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of wines, from rich & racy Chardonnays to shinning Bordeauxs. From our extensive tasting notes we compile our favorite 21 wines. The list below reflects both great quality and great value, and sometimes a nice bit of both.
Most are available so enjoy the reviews and Happy New Year.

#21: 2013 Carina Cellars Viognier $16.50

Winemaker Joey Tensley creates this 100% Estate Viognier for Carina Cellars. While some Viogniers can be overly perfumed and cloying, this wine is fresh and balanced. Aromatics of apricots, peaches and pears reminiscent of a true Rhone style Viognier.  The limestone soil and sloping terrain add a touch of minerality to this delicious wine. Hats off to Joey Tensley & winery owner David Hardee.

#20: 2012 Aia Vecchia Lagone Toscana IGT $18

Who says a Super-Tuscan has to cost hundreds? This Bordeaux blend is truly a Super-Tuscan for a very admirable price.
A blend of 60% Merlot with nearly equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc making up the balance. Aged one year in barrique and six months in bottle before release.
Wild berries & juicy cherries attack the palate with the first sip, then the fine tannins, and elegant structure take over. With a lovely long finish, this is the perfect wine for just about anything grilled.

#19: 2013 Crawford Family Wines Chardonnay Tin Shack $38

A wonderfully pure Chardonnay from vineyards planted on fossilized seashells, diatomaceous earth, and Gazos clay loam.
Very light colored, weightless and crisp. Pale tropical and stone fruit, and a terrific white spice develops as the bottle remains open. Only the faintest hint of oak. We are really impressed, this compares with the best chardonnays from the south coast. To sum the wine up: terrific!

#18: 2008 Li Veli Aleatico Passito $50 / 500ml
This was a hard wine to find. Finally, given our absolute love for what's in the bottle, we special ordered this delicious dessert wine direct from the winery.
On the nose theres is tremendous aromatic structure with dried and candied fruits: apricot, dates and figs. On a second level there come liquorices and coffee notes. On the palate a balsamic note with Mediterranean herbs and spices. Sweet but not heavy as the acidity brings lift to the wine.

#17: 2014 Elena Walch Schiava $18
The beautiful grape varietal, Schiava, native to Alto Adige in the Northeast corner of Italy can produce wines of elegance and depth. Elena Walch has lifted the varietal to a new level. An extraordinarily elegant wine with nice depth & complexity. It kind of drinks like Mourvedre but with notes of rose petal, raspberry, and stone fruit.

#16: 2014 Jean-Pierre Boisson Vaucluse Le Petit Caboche $16
This lip-smacking, supple GSM blend from Vaucluse has dollops of red fruit and warm, spicy flavors. Made by Jean-Pierre Boisson (former Mayor of Châteauneuf-du-Pape) and his daughter Emilie.
We love this wine because of how much it over-delivers, how well it goes with everything from a simple hamburger to Steak Diane, and how we love to see peoples reaction on their first taste.

#15: 2001 Lopez de Heredia Rioja Blanco Reserva Vina Tondonia $46.50
If there were only one winery in Spain to drink wine from, Lopez de Heredia would be at the top pf a very very short list. Don't be surprised when we mention that this vintage, 2001, is their current Reserva release, and that their current Grand Reserva release is 1994!
A blend of Viura (90%), Malvasía (10%), aged six years in barrel, then rested another 7 or so before being released.
Utterly complex, rich but not heavy, fruity but not fruity at the same time. Aromatic beyond belief.
A great food wine that pairs well with sea bass, roast chicken, rabbit, and our favorite, cod poached in olive oil.

#14: 2014 Giovanni Cherchi Vermentino di Sardegna Pigalva $18
This Vermentino is a benchmark, a point or reference for Vermentinos in Sardinia. Giovanni was the first to take Vermentino seriously back in the 1970's. He let the wine age for an extended period on the lees in neutral oak to soften and broaden the wine, and bring out depth & complexity.
Nice acidity, with aromas of citrus, green apple with complimentary minerality.
A softer style Vermentino that is a wonderful food wine.

#13: 2011 Tenuta Ca' Bolani Refosco dal Pedencolo Rosso $15.50
It seems like a mouth full, but in a nut shell Refosco is the varietal from Friuli in Northeastern Italy.
Refosco dal Pedencolo Rosso simply means Refosco of the red stems. Is that important? Perhaps.
What is important is that this wine has soul. Italian soul. It's Italy in a bottle.
Medium to light bodied, beautifully clean, with vibrant red berries and herbs such as sage and rosemary.
Give the wine an hour or so to open up and all of a sudden there's the coolest hint of nectarine, peach, and other stone fruits.
Perfect picnic wine, or sipping wine at the end of the day. Salute!

#12: 2012 Domaine des Lises Cornas Equis $55
"Their Review":

Deeply pitched black and blue fruit aromas show very good clarity and refreshing spiciness. Supple and broad on the palate, offering nervy blackcurrant, bitter cherry and spice-cake flavors and a solid jolt of cracked pepper.
"Our Review":
Crap this is good!
That was our first words after our first sip.
This is beautiful Syrah from the Northern Rhone. It does need a little air to present itself fully, but don't let that stop you from opening up a bottle and experiencing the same sensations we had upon tasting.

#11: N.V. Domaine Fouet Cremant de Loire Rose $22
If you had told us that our favorite sparkling wine at a Champagne themed tasting was going to be a Sparkling Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley we would have laughed. Then we tried this wine.
To be fair, this is a slightly geeky wine, with bright tangerine and mixed red berry flavors, the mid-palate and finish present more of an earthy matrix with tobacco leaf and such.
But what really grabbed our attention is that this wine was completely unexpected.
We defined the wine as 'brilliant' and 'sublime'. We keep telling this story to customers and friends,
who in turn return to purchase another bottle.
There's no hurry, we will have this wine in stock as long as possible, but when you're ready
for a slightly different sparkling experience, give this one some thought.