2007 Charles Heidsieck "Blanc des Millénaires" Blanc de Blanc Champagne

An exceedingly rare wine, Charles Heidsieck's "Blanc des Millénaires" Blanc de Blanc Champagne has only been made in seven vintages. This is certainly a celebration of what Chardonnay brings to the table with champagne. Every angle of the palate is engaged with a symphony of tart, sour, bitter, sweet and umami sensations, giving this sparkling wine a bottomless depth. Much of this can be attributed to the 12 years on the lees as well as the exceptional conditions of the 2007 vintage. ★★★★★

2018 Éric et Clément Nicolas "Castor" Cabernet Franc

I love Cabernet Franc, and I initially gave this wine high marks because it was just so "Cabernet Francky." But the more I tasted it, the more I began to get palate fatigue. At 15% alcohol, it is certainly on the wrong side of the dividing line for this grape, and that was also reflected in the simplicity of the fruit. Yes, the peppercorn snap was still evident, and for that I enjoyed the nose of this wine, but it doesn't quite stack up to many French Cabernet Franc counterparts, especially from Chinon, Bourgueil and Samuru. ★★★★ 1/4

2017 Terra Costantino "Contrada Blandano" Etna Bianco Riserva

Magnificent wine. Sometimes with Etna Bianco, I recommend it to fans of Chablis or Fiano — but this wine feels a little more like a white Rhône because of its body. Rich and elegant, hitting the sweet spot of balance. 10% Catarratto. ★★★★ 3/4

2017 Terra Costantino "Contrada Blandano" Etna Rosso Riserva

There is a lot to unpack on the nose here: subtle, but beautiful: black cherry, juniper berries, mint and minerals. The palate has a fairly mellow approach, but remains juicy with considerable acidity and fine-grained, cotton-like tannins. ★★★★ 3/4

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2020 Terra Costantino "de Aetna" Etna Rosso

Superb example of entry-level Etna Rosso, with both bright and dark red fruits contrasting at once. Somewhat savory and herbal. Tannins are freeform but effective. ★★★★ 1/2

2020 Terra Costantino "de Aetna" Etna Bianco

Delicious. Very herbal and tropical. Rather full bodied. Not shy at all. Fleshy fruit and faint minerality. 15% Catarratto and 5% Minella. ★★★★ 1/2

2020 Terra Costantino "de Aetna" Etna Rosato

Light peach color. Bright and quenching on the palate. A nice standard rosé but I'm not detecting much here that is "typical" of Etna or Nerello. ★★★★ 1/4

2018 Gurrieri Grillo Sicilia

Not the latest release, but exceptional, no less. Every vintage of this Grillo seems to carry a resinous herb aroma complemented by pomelo citrus fruit. Expressive, persistent and very refreshing. Flag for summer. ★★★★ 3/4

2020 Tenuta Sallier de la Tour Sicilia Syrah

Fresh, juicy, simple version of Syrah. Aromas of dark plums, bright raspberry and a hint of baked bread. Bright, playful acidity reveals a bit of Syrah's lovely character. ★★★★ 1/4

2019 Ciavolich "Fosso Cancelli" Trebbiano d'Abruzzo

I thoroughly enjoyed this wine. It conveyed aromas akin to peach skin, roses and pineapple, but in a very elegant and approachable fashion. There was also a faint tinge of oak that lent a nice nuttiness to the wine. Bright but not bracing. Full bodied. Saline finish. ★★★★ 3/4

2016 Tenuta l'Impostino "Viandante" Montecucco Sangiovese Riserva

Walloping earthy and meaty aromas had me wondering if there was any fruit. Took several hours to open up, where it eventually revealed some bitter black fruit tones. Very astringent tannins. ★★★ 3/4

2015 Tedeschi "Capitel Nicalò" Valpolicella Superiore

This is a Valpo for Pinot Noir lovers. It seems to convey a similar "bramble" quality on the nose — that aromatic mixture of raspberries, tea and plant matter that somehow evokes a dark forest in your mind. The palate is quite acidic, with bitter fruit demanding food to counter it. ★★★★ 1/2

2015 Tedeschi "Capitel Monte Olmi" Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva

Walloping nose of cherry, tobacco and strong alcohol (17%). The fruit suffers from the high alcohol, making this wine more laborious than I like. ★★★ 1/2

2019 Chiara Condello Romagna Predoppio Sangiovese

My first encounter with a true rising star from Romagna's epicenter for Sangiovese. This wine requires time to breathe, as my first impression was focused on its dominant musky aromas. The wait is worth it, however. This is Sangiovese on a minty, tobacco-leaf end of the spectrum that I didn't fully appreciate. I love what this wine adds to the Sangiovese lexicon. ★★★★ 3/4

2006 Lini 910 "In Coreggio" Metodo Classico Rosso Lambrusco

What a pleasant surprise this wine is. From one of Lambrusco's most beloved wineries, comes a traditional method version we didn't know we needed. Incredibly fresh given its advanced age, with lovely bittersweet cherry-like fruit, a hint of baked bread and lovely effervescence. Requires a certain mood: namely, a Sunday lunch with friends. ★★★★ 1/2

2020 Albrigo Giovanni "Garabei" Dolcetto di Diano d'Alba Superiore

Dolcetto easily loses the narrative when it goes for power, and this is a prime example. At 14.5% ABV, the wine only conveys bitter fruit, astringency and alcohol. I found a single glass to be exhausting. Dolcetto is better done fresh and easy. ★★★ 1/2

2019 Alberto Oggero "Sandro d'Pindeta" Vino Rosso (Piemonte)

An intriguing alternative to Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d'Alba, this natural wine from Roero's Alberto Oggero has lower alcohol than the prevailing trend, and a vibrant line of black cherry surrounded by earthy mushroom and menthol tones. Mild but effective tannins. ★★★★ 3/4

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