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The Weekly Dozen

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Mendoza, Tuscany, Veneto, Willamette Valley, Napa Valley, Dry Creek – All are well-known classic wine regions of the Old and New Worlds.  This week, we are steering away from the exotic, off-the-beaten wine track places and concentrating on these old and new classics. But get your credit cards ready – most of the wines from these regions have proven their worth and come at higher prices.

2017 Château de Nalys Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ($65). Unlike the varietal wines of the north, most southern Rhone wines – whites and reds – are blends, and this enjoyable white mashup has lightly spiced baked-apple flavors, good structure and a mildly crisp, apple-skin finish.

2016 Château de Nalys Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($76). Almost tangy, blackberry-raspberry juiciness – not quite fruit-forward – with a pleasant, slightly gamey finish. Put away a bottle and come back in five years.

2017 Domaine Bousquet Tupungato Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva ($18). Increasingly, Mendoza producers are emphasizing their sub-regions, such as Tupungato. This one has good bright fruit, both creamy and crisp, that is well-integrated with savory and tannic notes. Grapes are organic.

2014 Trivento “Eola” Lujan de Cuyo Malbec ($88). A beautiful, big wine with a well-balanced, flavorful blend of savory notes and mature fruit with smooth tannins. Drink now or let it age for a few years.

2016 Left Coast “Cali’s Cuvée” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($24). A refreshingly light Pinot with smooth cherry flavors and mild barrel notes – an excellent sushi wine if you hold the wasabi.

2016 Nicolas Jay Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($64). Take very lively Oregon fruit and blend it with co-owner and winemaker Jean-Nicolas Méo’s Burgundy sensibilities and you get a beautiful, complex wine that has good savory notes, is full but with a crisp finish and lingers long after you have swallowed.

2015 Frescobaldi “Perano” Chianti Classico ($29). Nice marriage of tart fruits and mellow oak – excellent pasta wine that would go well with both white and red sauces.

2015 Luce della Vite Toscana IGT ($106). Very smooth and elegant purple fruits with a hint of green herbs in the finish, well-integrated tannins and long on the palate. The grown-up love child of the Mondavis and the Frescobaldis is now owned totally by the latter. Decant for a couple of hours before serving.

2013 Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella ($42). A classic from the suburbs of Verona – very nice ripe cherry flavors, smooth and long-lasting with good pungency in the finish.

2015 St. Francis Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel Reserve ($41). Mildly assertive with 15.6% alcohol, but don’t let that wimp you out. Slight smoky blend of brambles and purple fruit with a touch of creaminess.

2016 Rutherford Ranch Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($32). A touch sweet, with red cherries and a hint of gaminess and dusty tannins.

2015 ZD Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($230). For the money, you would expect this classic red to be incredibly smooth both in texture and flavor with beautiful lush blackberry fruit with blueberry undertones and long on the palate – and it is all of that and more. Place under lock and key if you’re off on vacation and your teenagers have sworn not to have any parties while you’re gone.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from

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