If I Could Buy Only One – January 20 VINTAGES Release

We asked our writers, “If you could buy only one wine from this release, which one would it be and why?”

Domaine Du Margalleau Vouvray Sec 2022, Loire, France
$20.95, Wine Guru Selection
Sara d’Amato – Classic, textbook expressions of place are becoming harder to find in the context of globalization and climate warming but here is an example that remains true to form. Not too rich or grassy or sweet, this relatively dry style of Vouvray (with 7 g/L of sugar in the face of notable acidity) features a pillowy texture and an inviting honeyed character along with flavours of quince and apple that are juxtaposed by the presence of minerality, saltiness, and a chalky texture that is particularly apparent on the finish of very good length. A remarkably well-balanced, sapid, apéro-ready chenin blanc to try on its own or with cheeses such as taleggio or a goat’s milk gouda.

Karl’s Scepter Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, South Australia, Australia
$15.95, NAVBEV INC
Michael Godel – My only one for the VINTAGES, January 20th release is 12, or rather you should consider purchasing a full case of this cracker or bonzer value from down under. Karl’s Scepter Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Coonawarra, South Australia is real wine at $16 from a terrific wine region. A curious name to be sure, “Karl’s Scepter,” a cellar hand’s (named Karl) nickname for the hand plunger used during fermentation. He used it relentlessly and thus made better wine. Not sure where the Egyptian royalty comes into play, save for a nod to Raider’s of the Lost Ark perhaps. The headpiece was placed atop the Staff of Ra and used in the Map Room at Tanis to reveal the location of the Well of the Souls where the ark of the covenant was located. Digressions aside the Sceptre is a black fruit-jam bomb, dense, concentrated and cut by brassy and brushy character. A mouthful and a fair presentation of Coonawarra’s red (Terra Rossa) soils. You can enjoy one every two months for the next two years.

R. López De Heredia Viña Tondonia Reserva 2011, Rioja, Spain
$70.95, John Hanna & Sons
Megha Jandhyala – My “only one” this week is the R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Reserva 2011. I would not pass up the opportunity to taste this exquisite, classically styled reserva from a historic and iconic winery, especially at this price. It is the very picture of poise and grace, and at just over a dozen years old, it is still vibrant and lively. I love its perfume, a delightful blend of not only dried, but also still fresh red fruit, alongside finely integrated notes of American oak. It feels equally alluring on the palate, silky and balanced, with a captivating and abiding finish. I would buy at least a couple of bottles of this wine, one to savour now, and one to enjoy sometime before the close of this decade.

Thirty Bench Winemaker's Blend Red 2020

Thirty Bench Winemaker’s Blend Red 2020, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$26.95, Andrew Peller Ltd.
John Szabo, MS – My only one this week is an easy local pick, the 2020 Thirty Bench Winemaker’s Blend Red. It’s a flat-out delicious and classy red blend from a great Niagara vintage, balanced and succulent with above-average depth and complexity, and above all, drinkability. Thirty Bench has got it all right here. It’s worth buying a few bottles both to enjoy now and to follow the evolution over several years to the end of the decade.  

Fazi Battaglia Passerina 2022, IGT Marche, Italy
$16.95, Mark Anthony Group
David Lawrason – Always on the look out for the next nifty, new Italian white, this struck me with both its personality and five-star value. Passerina is a fairly aromatic variety growing in Adriatic Italy. It is a high yielding grape it is often used for high volume wines, and likely contributes to the very good price here. It pours bright, fairly deep yellow. The nose is almost tropical with banana/pineapple, subtle fresh herbs, fennel and a waxy note. It is soft, full and fleshy with almost creamy texture – yet it retains some brightness. The length is very good to excellent.

Use these quick links for access to all of our Top Picks in the New Release. Non-Premium members can select from all release dates 30 days prior.

Lawrason’s Take
Megha’s Picks
Michael’s Mix
Sara’s Selections
Szabo’s Smart Buys

New Release and VINTAGES Preview