2019 Brancaia IL Blu $85.99 (Wine Advocate 95 points)
A terrific blend of 80% Merlot, 10% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, this is an organic red blend from the forested hills of Tuscany. The 2019 Il Blu is recognized by its modern blue label (and fun orange capsule) and its contemporary winemaking style. It offers seamless richness, elegant intensity and dark fruit weight. Italians might use the word “ruffiano” to describe it. The translation falls somewhere between “pleaser” and “panderer” but with a positive spin. Perhaps the most agreeable part of this barrique-aged wine is its availability, with an ample 42,000 bottles made.
2018 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe $39.99 (Wine Advocate 93+ points)
This wine consistently delivers one of the greatest values to be found in Italian wine. The G.D. Vajra 2018 Barolo Albe has all its cards in play as an immediately enjoyable and extremely food-friendly Nebbiolo. This really is the top of the category in that sense. With straightforward winemaking (fermentation is in steel and aging in large Slavonian oak casks), the wine offers bold cherry, wild plum and plenty of fragrant blue flower and violet. This vintage has the added benefit of softly textured richness.
2019 Phelan Segur $45.99 (Wine Advocate 94+ points)
Is this the most over-performing estate in the Médoc? Director Véronique Dausse would surely riposte that it’s simply performing at the level to which its well-situated vineyards and detail-oriented team entitle it; but in any case, the 2019 Phélan Ségur is a brilliant wine. Offering up aromas of cassis, sweet wild berries, rose petals, violets, licorice and spices, it’s medium to full-bodied, layered and concentrated, with tangy acids, powdery tannins and a long, penetrating finish. This is another 2019 that en primeur purchasers can feel very pleased with.
2018 Muga Selección Especial $42.99 (Wine Advocate 95 points)
2018 was a cooler vintage, with a fairly long maturation, which made the wines somewhat fresher and less alcoholic, as showcased by the 2018 Selección Especial, a classical blend of the four red varieties from Rioja, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano with contained ripeness (14.05% alcohol) and good freshness. It fermented in oak casks with indigenous yeasts and matured in French oak barrels, 40% of them new, for 26 months. They were not very happy with the vintage and had to sort and discard, but as they didn’t produce Prado Enea, Torre Muga or Haro, those grapes went into this wine. They are reluctant about 2018, but I think it was a vintage capable of the best and the worst, and this 2018 is floral, expressive and elegant. It’s medium to full- bodied, with very fine, chalky tannins, combining power and elegance. Amazing! 187,200 bottles produced. It was bottled in January 2021.