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Staff Favorites - Gary Norton

Gary Norton

Reviews

2013 Leeuwin "Art Series" Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 01-11-2018
I reviewed the 2012 vintage of this wine nearly a year ago and my adoration of the property has only magnified since then. A perennial over-achiever, this gem has the chops to withstand a few decades of cellaring and at the price-point, there isn't much to compare it to. This beauty shows classic Margaret River structure and notes of dried herbs, menthol and dark fruits. There's a very good reason Robert Mondavi was mulling over the notion of purchasing the estate back in the '70s - as it produces world-class wines with each passing vintage. This one is a no-brainer. Drink now and over the next twenty years.

2015 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Review Date: 01-10-2018
In recent years Flowers has really stepped up its game - they've always produced marvelously lush and approachable wines, but lately their wine-making style has pivoted to a more delicate style. Notes of ripe red cherries, red berries, shaved fennel and cola with a bit of clove and baking spices to round out the finish. The wine sees a 9-day cold soak and contains declassified fruit from their upper tier bottlings such as Camp Meeting Ridge and a few others. Huge value for a top-notch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Drink now.
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart
VN 93 WE 92

2016 Domaine Lafage "Novellum" Chardonnay Pays d'Oc
Review Date: 11-20-2017
Hands down, this is one of the best pound-for-pound Chardonnays in the store right now. Boasting notes of grapefruit, white nectarine, chamomile and a touch of oily richness - there is no reason that this value white should not be featured on your Thanksgiving dinner table. It's the perfect dinner companion for any occasion really, but especially those coming up in the next few months!
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

2015 Domaine Lafage "Bastide Miraflors" Côtes du Roussillon
Review Date: 10-04-2017
This is on my short list of price-performers in the store right now. Very delicate, dark-fruited and floral on the nose with hints of smoked meats to wrap it up. The palate doubles down on the aforementioned, with the addition of sweet berry fruit and baking spices. Personally, I'll take a shot on any sub-$13 dollar wine that a major critic compares to SQN, but rest assured, this one is worth every cent and then some.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 94

2015 d'Yquem, Sauternes
Review Date: 09-14-2017
Garnering two possible 100-point scores plus a swath of high ninety point marks, the 2015 d'Yquem is already flirting with perfection. Boasting a complex nose of apricots and dried pineapple, I found the wine to be particularly racy on the palate, especially considering how warm the vintage was. There's no shortage of superlatives when it comes to d'Yquem as it is unquestionably the finest dessert wine on the planet. This is a ground-floor opportunity to secure a potentially historic wine and considering the going rate for what its been compared to already, its an absolute steal!

2013 Red Stitch Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 08-31-2017
We never see small production Cabernet with a Napa Valley designation that comes with a sub-$100 price tag. Compound that with the fact that the wine is from arguably the strongest vintage we've seen in the last 40 years and you have one of the best pound-for-pound values on the market. Load up on these because there isn't much to go around.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart
WS 93

2014 Red Stitch "Sierra Mar Vineyard" Pinot Noir
Review Date: 08-31-2017
Easily the best SLH Pinot Noir I've tasted this year - it's rich, expressive and dark-fruited. Great entry weight on the palate and flavors of black fruits, dark berries and rose-hips come together gracefully to form one of the most complete wines I can remember tasting from the AVA, ever. It's a mid to near-term drinker so pull the cork on this micro-production Pinot before the season ends and enjoy it until the last pitch.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart
WE 94

2014 Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (375ml)
Review Date: 08-05-2017
This is easily one of the best sub-fifty dollar values on the market right now – a wine that Robert Parker described as “deep, wonderfully fruited, rich and savory…” He later admitted after tasting Faust along with Quintessa that it was “probably the best set of wines [he had] yet tasted from the Huneeus family…” Frankly, it’s tough not to believe such a statement after tasting it and knowing that virtually all of the fruit comes from AVAs such as Rutherford, Coombsville, Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder or St. Helena – some of Napa’s most prized valley and mountain terroirs. It’s a beautifully layered, unctuous wine and an absolute steal for the money. In a climate where your entry level Napa Cab is hovering within the fifty dollar price point, you should take a hard look at Faust, as most wines in this category simply lack the acclaim and raw materials to compete with it.
Price: $25.99 Add To Cart
JS 94 RP 90

2014 Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (1.5L)
Review Date: 08-05-2017
This is easily one of the best sub-fifty dollar values on the market right now – a wine that Robert Parker described as “deep, wonderfully fruited, rich and savory…” He later admitted after tasting Faust along with Quintessa that it was “probably the best set of wines [he had] yet tasted from the Huneeus family…” Frankly, it’s tough not to believe such a statement after tasting it and knowing that virtually all of the fruit comes from AVAs such as Rutherford, Coombsville, Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder or St. Helena – some of Napa’s most prized valley and mountain terroirs. It’s a beautifully layered, unctuous wine and an absolute steal for the money. In a climate where your entry level Napa Cab is hovering within the fifty dollar price point, you should take a hard look at Faust, as most wines in this category simply lack the acclaim and raw materials to compete with it.
Price: $119.99 Add To Cart
JS 94 RP 90

2014 Quintessa Rutherford Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 08-02-2017
Quintessa's 2014 portfolio is unquestionably the best set of wines they have ever released. Perhaps it's their rock-star winemaker, Rebekah Wineburg (tremendous name too, I know) they have employed, or the amazing vineyards they have, or the state of the art winery they built, or the culmination of all of these factors. Frankly, I don't know. What I do know is their proprietary red blend is an absolute knock-out. Medium to full bodied, dark fruited, complex, ethereal - it's got it all. Drink it this evening or cellar it for twenty years. This is one of the most versatile wines I've ever had the pleasure to taste.
Price: $174.99 Add To Cart
JS 97 RP 94

2015 Te Mata "Coleraine" Bordeaux Blend Hawke's Bay
Review Date: 07-19-2017
It's a classic Bordeaux style blend that's always rich, opulent and layered - showing notes of blackberry, graphite, white pepper and bay leaves. Dark fruited and full bodied, this is one that you can pull the cork on tonight or put it down for 15+ years. It's been dubbed New Zealand's First Growth for good reason.

2014 Turnbull Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 07-13-2017
This is easily one of the purest expressions of Napa Valley Cabernet on the market these days. With fruit sourced entirely from noncontinuous estate blocks ranging from the valley floor to higher elevation sites on the Oakville Bench, you've got all the components to make an outrageously delicious and location specific wine. For less than fifty bucks, this is one to go all-in on.

2014 d'Hanteillan Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 06-27-2017
A vintage that was undoubtedly overshadowed by the massive successes of 2015 and 2016, look to 2014 as bargain central. Notes of dense red and blue berries, burnt cedar, baking spices and a touch of vanilla, this mid-weight red is an absolute star for less than fifteen bucks. We always seem to find value driven Bordeaux that drastically over-performs for the money and this is a prime example of such. Pull the cork an hour before service or put it down for a couple years to settle down. Great wine either way!
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2014 Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 06-19-2017
This is easily one of the best sub-fifty dollar values on the market right now – a wine that Robert Parker described as “deep, wonderfully fruited, rich and savory…” He later admitted after tasting Faust along with Quintessa that it was “probably the best set of wines [he had] yet tasted from the Huneeus family…” Frankly, it’s tough not to believe such a statement after tasting it and knowing that virtually all of the fruit comes from AVAs such as Rutherford, Coombsville, Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder or St. Helena – some of Napa’s most prized valley and mountain terroirs. It’s a beautifully layered, unctuous wine and an absolute steal for the money. In a climate where your entry level Napa cab is hovering within the fifty dollar price point, you should take a hard look at Faust, as most wines in this category simply lack the acclaim and raw materials to compete with it.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
JS 94 RP 90

2013 Au Bon Climat "Knox Alexander" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 06-09-2017
There's a reason why ABC Pinot Noir is frequently peppered into blind Burgundy tastings: because it's about as Burgundian (a term I often wince at...) as non-Burgundy gets. Racy and linear, these are some of the highest quality domestic Pinot Noirs (and Chardonnays) on the market today, period. Racy red fruit, dusty earth, wild herbs and a spicy undertone to round it out. Drink it now or put it down for 10+ years. Up to you.

2015 Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 06-02-2017
Flowers has recently shifted towards a more finesse-driven style and frankly, it's relieving. Not to say that I wasn't a fan before this, but there is no shortage of big, viscous Chardonnays in Sonoma and I've been hoping for something to change. I was fortunate enough to taste this wine a few weeks ago and was astonished by the length and balance that is possessed - notes of lemon flesh, white peach, marzipan, cloves and a lovely saline quality on the finish. Very impressed by the direction of this winery, not to mention they are going to take over the old VML property in Healdsburg, which should be nothing short of awesome!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
VN 91 WE 91

2011 Felsina "Fontalloro" Toscana
Review Date: 05-26-2017
Savory red fruit, dried herbs, mocha and leather are the hallmarks of this wine. Great restraint and length here as well, especially considering how hot 2011 was in Tuscany. It's a vintage that demands some selectivity, depending on what characteristics you gravitate towards. With a few years of bottle age on it already, the wine still has plenty left in the tank. Ten years at least in my opinion. There is no shortage of price to value ratio here - a true drink or hold.

2013 Hacienda Monasterio Ribera del Duero Crianza
Review Date: 03-29-2017
There is often plenty of upside to difficult vintages and this bottle is a prime example of such. I'll roll the dice any day when I know that some incredibly high quality (and generally incredibly expensive) fruit is declassified and blended into an entry-level, or estate bottling. This wine is just seamless, showing notes of dark berries, leather and mocha. This should age gracefully for much longer than your average Crianza. This bottle is definitely worth a hard look but frankly, I don't expect it to be here for long.

2014 Maison L'Envoyé "The Attaché" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 03-11-2017
A tremendously serious wine for thirty bucks, that's for sure. The wine shows notes of fresh purple fruits, baking spices and a smokey, almost syrah-like characteristic that comes in on the mid-palate. It's a wildly intriguing Pinot Noir that should age gracefully for another 5 to 8 years.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
VN 93 WS 92

2013 Lincourt "Steel" Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-28-2017
This wine is reminiscent of the success we enjoyed last year when we released the value-driven Alma Rosa Santa Barbara Chardonnay. It's totally unoaked, showing notes of grapefruit, yellow nectarine and Mandarin oranges. If you prefer linear styled whites and a touch of ripeness, this is a wine you should be buying by the case.
Price: Hidden View Price

2015 Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-28-2017
These wines always change my view when it comes to high-tier domestic whites. Many expressions of Chardonnay at this price point are overblown and heavy, indicating that I am subsidizing the estate's new barrel program rather than paying for a well-made, balanced Chardonnay. I trust Kistler with my money and you should too. These wines are worth every penny and it's clear that the price point is reflective of the quality of the wine and the people behind the production. Arguably the best producer of white wines in California. Period.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart

2012 Leeuwin "Art Series" Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 02-01-2017
Year after year I find myself increasingly impressed by the value and overall quality of this wine. Robust, age-worthy, structured - the wine has it all. It's a classically styled Aussie cab, brimming with notes of tomato leaves, dried herbs, licorice, dark fruit and spices on the finish. In the early 1970s the estate was identified by none other than Robert Mondavi (presumably as a prospective buyer) as a premier site for high quality wine production and this bottle is evidence that he was absolutely correct.
Price: Hidden View Price
JS 97 JH 96

Cain "Cuvée NV12" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 01-19-2017
Cain's non-vintage "NV" offerings are some of the Valley's best value reds. If you are a fan of old-world styled, hearty red wines that carry a bit of a funky, bretty edge than this wine is a must try. Unfortunately, this type of wine is a dying breed in California as most wineries are shifting towards the production of bigger, rounder and flashier reds. The NV12 is a blend of 2012 and 2011 (59% & 41%, respectively) and consists of 50% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot and 4% Malbec. For those rustic wine lovers out there, this one's for you!
Price: $35.99 Add To Cart

2014 Domaine Drouhin "Arthur" Dundee Hills Chardonnay
Review Date: 01-10-2017
Loads of clove, cinnamon and baked apple on the nose of this young Chardonnay. The palate is racier than expected. While 2014 is a very lush, hot vintage, DDO's house style is consistently balanced in terms of acidity and ripeness. The wine is produced entirely from estate fruit (Dijon clones) and is fermented in both tank and barrel. This Chardonnay is always a show stopper in my eyes, and frankly, it's cheap considering the name and quality behind it.

2015 D'Arce, Côtes de Castillon
Review Date: 01-05-2017
It's certainly a more modern iteration from Bordeaux, but full of pretty red fruit and blueberry notes. The palate is lush and soft with a lot of fruit up front; it then moves into licorice, dark currant and dried herbs. The finish is elegant with touch of grip on the back end. Great little weeknight sipper.

2013 Sinor-LaVallee San Luis Obispo County Chardonnay
Review Date: 11-30-2016
The Sinor LaVallee SLO County Chardonnay expresses richer tropical fruit notes such as Autalfo mangos and yellow pineapple plus the addition of torched marshmallow, crème brûlée, and baking spice. It's a lush and heavy wine with enough acid to keep it balanced. A phenomenal wine from the quaint little coastal town of Avila Beach, California.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart
WE 93 VN 90

2004 La Tempérance, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 11-29-2016
Fully matured Bordeaux for less than fifteen bucks? Yes, it exists. This attractively priced, right-bank bottling is showing notes of blackcurrant, dark fruit and an undertone of that classic Medoc terroir that I can only describe as sweet-dirt. Mmmmmm. Go getcha some!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2014 Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-15-2016
An age-worthy domestic Cab for less than fifteen bucks? Yes, it exists. This is an incredibly serious wine at a price point that is laughably low. Black fruit, licorice, blackcurrant, green bell pepper, baking spices. Toss in a well integrated, powdery tannin on the back end just for good measure. Dump this bottle into a decanter and don't tell your dinner guests how much you paid for the bottle, they'll be remarkably impressed by your generosity.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2014 Ancient Peaks/K&L Wine Merchants Paso Robles Zinfandel
Review Date: 11-08-2016
Gobs of black plum, dark cherry fruit and a plush, spicy finish. Oh, all for less than twenty five bucks? Count me in. Pair this wine with your next round of grilled tri-tip or ribs. This co-branded Zin is easily my top value-red coming out of the Paso Robles.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$19.99

2014 Forman "Château la Grande Roche" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-02-2016
Year after year I'm impressed by Forman's "Chateau La Grande Roche" Cabernet. I often find myself underwhelmed by second labels and understand why they didn't make the cut for a classified bottling. Not this one. It's structured and grippy, with notes of graphite, tobacco and black fruits. Drink this guy in a few years or give it an hour in a decanter. Great buy.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

2013 Brassfield "Eruption - Volcano Ridge Vineyard" High Valley Red Blend
Review Date: 10-14-2016
A blend consisting of 38% Malbec, 36% Syrah, 16% Mourvèdre and 10% Petite Sirah, this is a very serious wine for sixteen dollars. Dark fruit, dark berries, solid fruit depth without any indication of jamminess. It's full-bodied and has a well-integrated, dusty tannin structure on the finish. Need I say more?
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
WE 92

Michel Arnould Verzenay "Reserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 10-03-2016
This is a fantastic non-vintage bottling from Michel Arnould. The blend consists of a heavy dose of Pinot Noir (75%) and the rest Chardonnay, which creates a wonderfully delicate and floral nose that leads into heaps of red fruit and red berries. The finish is clean and citric. A truly special bottle of bubbles.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

Westland Sherry Wood American Single Malt Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-06-2016
My personal favorite of our current Westland lineup. Aromas of Fig Newtons, toasted pecan, mocha and dried yellow fruits to cap it off. It isn't too oily or sweet, it's an honest, lively whiskey that begs to be had neat, or with a single rock.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart
WE 95

Westland Peated American Single Malt Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-06-2016
In the spectrum of American single malts, Westland is at the apex of my list. Each and everything they offer is of incredible quality and reasonably priced. Their peated whiskey, priced at $69.99, rivals most Scotch whiskeys that command upwards of $100.00. It's rich, focused and balanced, showing notes of smokey creme brulee, vanilla, pie crust and scorched orange peel. Easily one of the best American whiskeys on the market today.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

Westland American Single Malt Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-05-2016
Westland's American Single Malt is truly a show stopper. It houses very pure single malt Scotch-like characteristics (reminiscent of a classic Speyside) while adding some additional notes of vanilla extract, espresso bean and dried Medjool dates. This could be a game changer for you, come scoop a bottle and you'll understand what I'm talking about.
Top Value!
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
WE 93

2014 Martin Ray "Coast Grade Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 07-08-2016
The Coast Grade Vineyard is a steep hillside site that is located on the the coastal side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. 2014 was another vintage defined by drought, yields were lower but moderate temperatures enabled the vines to stay healthy and produce some exceptional grapes. Martin Ray's expression from this vineyard is racy and balanced, showing notes of bright cherry, dark berry, dried herbs, cedar and mocha. It's got points, it's got pedigree, and it's delicious.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
WE 95

2014 Napa Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 05-07-2016
It's rich, ripe, buttery, and yes, it's back!! Partially barrel fermented, this wine has a softer texture than it has had in previous vintages. Viscous and lush, this is a wine with a built-in fan base and a price point that makes it move quickly.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2013 Mercedes Eguren Cabernet Sauvignon Vino de la Tierra de Castilla
Review Date: 04-05-2016
This value-driven Spanish Cab shows notes of dark tree fruit, blackberry, black currant and baking spice on the finish. It's soft and supple with a light, granular tannin that appears late on the palate, which adds another layer of complexity to the wine. An easy-drinking, approachable, and delicious bottle of wine for ten bucks (and as already mentioned below, a delicious bottle of wine, period). Come grab some for your next BBQ or event!
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart

Deligeroy Cremant de Loire Brut
Review Date: 04-05-2016
It's toasty and light, floral and fruity, drinkable and inexpensive. Enough said, right? While lovely all by itself, it's also a bottle that you don't feel guilty adding a dash of crème de cassis to for a brunch-time sparkling cocktail.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2013 Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 03-25-2016
This young, age-worthy Cab certainly needs a few years to develop, but after an aggressive decant (2+ hours) some lovely dark fruit/dark berry, toasted almond and cocoa notes really start to jump out of the glass. On the palate, black currant, dried cherry, licorice and mocha. Follow this wine (and production) over the next five to ten years and prepare to be impressed.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

2007 Marques de Murrieta "Castillo Ygay" Gran Reserva Especial Rioja
Review Date: 02-24-2016
A composition of 86/14 Tempranillo/Mazuelo, this young Rioja has a long life ahead of it. Don't get me wrong, the wine is showing exquisitely well already, but your patience will pay off if you can keep your hands off of it for another 5-8 years. It's woody, spicy and deliciously dark fruited. This wine has a delightfully youthful nose of coconut meat, vanilla, dark berries and black currant. A great wine that will only get better.

Michel Arnould "Reserve" Brut Verzenay Champagne
Review Date: 12-30-2015
This is a fantastic non-vintage bottling from Michel Arnould. The blend consists of a heavy dose of Pinot Noir (75%) and the rest Chardonnay, which creates a wonderfully delicate and floral nose that leads into heaps of red fruit and red berries. The finish is clean and citric. A truly special bottle of bubbles.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart

Antech "Brut Nature" Blanquette de Limoux
Review Date: 11-12-2015
With no dosage added, this is the driest of the Antech line. Always crisp and refreshing, it's my opinion that Antech produces the highest quality value-driven sparkling wine on the market right now. The perfect bottle for a wedding, party, or just another Tuesday night.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2014 Tilia Malbec Mendoza
Review Date: 11-11-2015
It's inky, lush, and plummy - three components that I adore about Malbec. This is an easy-drinking, full-bodied wine that bursts on to the palate with notes of dark cherry, mocha, black currant and baking spice to finish. A very, very nice Malbec that drinks well above its $8.99 price point.
Price: $7.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

Louise Brison "L'Impertinente" Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 08-13-2015
These bubbles are derived from 100% Pinot Noir and emit wonderful fragrances of cassis, wild strawberries and a tinge of minerals. Upon entry, this sparkler is crisp and light, while continuing to show a tenacious amount of strawberries, red fruit and toast. Enjoy these bubbles with a grilled pork loin, a sunset and good company!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart