Almost Perfect: 96+ Point Wines

Almost Perfect: 96+ Point Wines | WineTransit.com

These critically acclaimed wines rated 96-points and above are this close to being perfect. They make great gifts for hard-to-please wine lovers, the new in-laws, or that finicky boss. They would also make a great start or addition to any wine cellar. Now is the time to buy to ensure timely arrival before Christmas. Quantities on some of these wines are limited.

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Taylor Fladgate Vintage Porto

2017 / 750 ml.

Item #: 50254

RP98+98–100 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 11th Jul 2019
The 2017 Vintage Port, not quite bottled when seen but the final blend, is a field blend aged for approximately 20 months in wood. It comes in with 100 grams of residual sugar. A step up (or two) on the 2016, this shows fine depth, more focus, vivid fruit and serious power. It’s not particularly thick, austere or astringent, but this is built for the long haul. It is potentially a great Taylor’s, effortlessly combining brilliant fruit and structure. It tastes great now (today, it is far more vivid than its Vinha Velha sibling), but the power makes this hard to drink today. So, have some patience. It will need some time, probably a lot more than indicated, and will likely last longer than indicated as well. As noted in the accompanying article, I don’t see much point to impossibly long drinking windows. At some point, reevaluation is required.
WE9797 pts. - Wine Enthusiast - 12/31/2019
The structure is currently very dominant in this wine. Its dark tannins are concentrated, waiting for the masked black fruits to come through. Everything is there, it just needs an immense amount of time. Drink from 2030.
SP9797 pts. - Wine Spectator - Dec 31, 2019
This offers up a dense rumble of dark currant, fig and blackberry paste flavors, laced with hints of buckwheat, baker’s chocolate and warm tar. The muscular finish is thickly layered, with threads of alder and espresso cream adding definition along the way. Should be among the more long-lived wines of the vintage. Best from 2035 through 2060. 1,250 cases imported. (James Molesworth)
WS9696 pts. - Wine & Spirits - October 1, 2019
This 2017 has all the markers of a legendary Taylor Port — scents of green fig, the complex tannic impact of schist, the consternating sense of elegance in the face of massive structural power. David Guimaraens bases this wine on fruit from the Quinta de Vargellas, an estate on the south bank of the river in the arid Douro Superior. In our tastings, it came after several 2017s that were sourced from vineyards on the north bank, closer to Pinhão, and, while it would be simplistic to consider this a definitive difference (there are many exposures in each quinta, and other quinta parcels in the blends), there was a stark shift from the blackness of those wines to the sour-cherry impression of this wine, and its floral fraise des bois notes. Those flavors keep pushing up against the dark shadows of the wine’s schist tannins, an undulating wake of red fruit and minerals that carries the wine’s muscular power into memory.
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Portugal | Douro | Porto

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Primary Grape: Touriga Nacional

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Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Pessac-Léognan

Grand Cru Classé
2017 / 750 ml.

Item #: 54801

RP97+97+ pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 16th Mar 2020
Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte charges out of the gate with bold expressions of warm redcurrants, baked blackberries and crème de cassis with hints of spice cake, dried roses, underbrush and pencil lead plus a waft of candied violets. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has a fantastic core of densely packed red and black fruits, framed by wonderfully ripe, rounded tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long and perfumed.
VN9797 pts. - Vinous - Mar 2020
The 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte is fantastic. Rich, sumptuous and opulent, the 2017 dazzles with total class. Inky blue and purplish fruit, chocolate, licorice, menthol, sage and lavender infuse the 2017 with striking layers of depth and complexity. A wine of tremendous character and balance, the 2017 is flat-out gorgeous and very clearly one of the wines of the year.
JS9797 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Sunday, December 20, 2020
Wonderful depth of fruit here with blackberries, wet earth, mushrooms, dark chocolate and violets. Full-bodied, tight and poised with polished and compressed tannins. Consistent finish. Linear and focused. A blend of 60% cabernet sauvignon, 35% merlot, 4% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot. Drinkable now, but better in 2022.
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Primary Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

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RP9696 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 31st Oct 2019
Fruit for this was harvested on September 8th, and the wine was bottled six months ago. Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Helena Montana Vineyard gives up exuberant notions of warm blueberries, crème de cassis, lilacs and chocolate box with hints of fertile loam, licorice and menthol. Medium-bodied, elegant, very fresh and juicy, the palate has beautifully ripe, fine-grained tannins supporting the generous fruit, finishing long and perfumed. 1,200 cases produced.
JS9595 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Friday, February 14, 2020
Wonderful aromas of ripe raspberries and blueberries with violets and orange blossom. Medium to full body. Very fine tannins, which are compressed and fresh. Stones and minerals underneath. Cool and bright at the finish. Delicious already. Drink or hold.
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Primary Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

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La Jota Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon

2018 / 750 ml.

Item #: 55529

RP9797 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 14th Jan 2021
A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain was aged for 22 months in oak barrels, 84% new. Deep garnet-purple colored, it explodes from the glass with bombastic black currants, black cherries and boysenberries notes plus underlying hints of violets, dark chocolate and tobacco leaf. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has a solid structure of firm, grainy tannins and tons of freshness, finishing long and fragrant. 3,997 cases were made.
JS9696 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Aromas of pine needles, asphalt, graphite and black fruit follow through to a full-bodied and chewy palate with so much tannin, giving this real Howell Mountain character. It goes on and one. Muscular and in need of time in the bottle to soften. Better after 2024.
VN95+95+ pts. - Vinous - Jan 2021
The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon is a powerful, tightly wound wine that captures all the natural intensity of Howell Mountain. Blackberry jam, graphite, smoke ,iron and crushed rocks give this dark, massively tannic Cabernet a lot of character. Even after having been opened for several hours, the 2018 remains forbidding, with serious tannins that are going to require a good bit of cellaring before the wine becomes approachable.
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Primary Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

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Philip Togni Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

2018 / 750 ml.

Item #: 56320

RP96+96+ pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 14th Jan 2021
Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate offers up intense notes of crushed black currants, fresh blackberries and ripe red plums with hints of pencil lead, black raspberries, underbrush and unsmoked cigars plus a touch of tapenade. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers bold, crunchy black and red berry layers with a lively backbone and firm, grainy tannins, finishing long and energetic. 1,470 cases were made.
VN96+96+ pts. - Vinous - Jan 2021
The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is sensual and polished. Bright acids lend energy as this super-finessed Cabernet opens in the glass. Crushed red berry fruit, cedar, rose petal and mint all open with a bit of coaxing. The 2018 is going to need a number of years to be at its very best. It is elegant, nuanced and simply impeccable, but also a bit reticent at this stage. Readers who are familiar with these wines know they need time to come into their own. If that is not possible, I suggest opening it well in advance, even a day or two.
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United States | California | Napa Valley

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Primary Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

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Figgins Estate Red Wine

2018 / 750 ml.

Item #: 41664

JD97+97+ pts. - Jeb Dunnuck - 5/6/2021
The 2018 Red Wine is another stunner from this talented team. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot aged 23 months in a mix of new and used barrels, it has an incredibly pure bouquet of both red and blue fruits as well as graphite, violets, and blood orange. Playing in the medium to full-bodied end of the spectrum, it stays tight and focused on the palate, with a beautiful mouthfeel, ripe yet firm, chalky tannins, plenty of mid-palate depth, and a great, great finish. It’s a gorgeous wine that will benefit from 3–5 years of bottle age and cruise for 15–20+ in cold cellars. (Jeb Dunnuck)
VN9797 pts. - Vinous - Mar 2022
The 2018 Red Wine Estate might just be the best edition ever of this incredible high-elevation bottling. It’s nothing short of a blending masterpiece by Chris Figgins and his winemaking team. This thing is massive monster of a wine that really needs several hours of air to get going. But once tamed, the aromatics explode out of the glass, unveiling dark currants, roasted figs, black rose petals and creosote tones with shades of green bell pepper from the Petit Verdot. The palate is soft and opulent in the mouth. Layers of crème de cassis, anise, violets, dark cherry cordial, graphite and espresso bean with green bell pepper undertones all brilliantly combine with a vibrant sense of tension, and firm tannins hold everything in place. While this is extraordinary to savor upon release, try your best to resist it for at least a few more years.
JS9595 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Monday, July 12, 2021
Blackcurrant, blackberry, walnut and mint chocolate on the nose, as well as hints of radish and mocha. It’s full-bodied with firm, ripe tannins. Concentrated and chewy with a dense core of black fruit. Solid and tight. Cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and merlot. Give this time. Try from 2024.
WE9595 pts. - Wine Enthusiast - 9/1/2021
Aromas of macerated cherry, coffee, flower, licorice and date lead to cherry, cranberry and raspberry flavors that give a full impression on the palate. There’s plenty of precision and detail to be had, so much acidity and a quite firm tannic structure. A big, burly, beautiful wine, it will last and drink well as long as you care to keep it. Don’t go near it now. Best after 2032.
SP9494 pts. - Wine Spectator - Web only – 2022
A dynamic and refined red, with detailed blackberry, green olive and spicy espresso flavors that build tension and polish on the long finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2030. 1,562 cases made.
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Primary Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

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JD9797 pts. - Jeb Dunnuck - 12/21/2021
A brilliant, youthful, unevolved wine that will give Ridge’s Monte Bello a run for its money, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon reveals a deep ruby/purple hue to go with a wonderful perfume of blackcurrants, blueberries, lead pencil, vanilla bean, exotic flowers, tobacco, and bouquet garni. Needing plenty of air to show at its best, it’s medium to full-bodied on the palate and has a concentrated, powerful style, ripe tannins, flawless balance, and a great finish. A blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Petit Verdot and Malbec, aged in used French and American oak, it’s going to benefit from 4–6 years of bottle age and, I suspect, have 30–40 years of overall longevity. (Jeb Dunnuck)
VN9797 pts. - Vinous - May 2022
The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is going to need a number of years to come around. The only question is how many. In 2017, the Mount Eden Cabernet is shockingly opulent. Inky black fruit, bittersweet chocolate, spice, leather and incense are all dialed up in this super-sized Cabernet. Even so, there is plenty of structure lurking beneath. I can’t wait to see how this ages.
SP9393 pts. - Wine Spectator - Feb 28, 2022
This has a zesty set of loganberry, raspberry and sweet bay leaf notes mixed together, along with flashes of violet, mesquite and anise. There’s a good tug of warm gravel running underneath and nice energy throughout. Should mellow nicely with cellaring. Best from 2024 through 2034. 1,285 cases made. (James Molesworth)
WE9292 pts. - Wine Enthusiast - 12/1/2021
Balanced aromas of redwood and pine give depth to the asphalt and leather elements on the nose of this bottling. The American oak seems prominent on the dense, leathery palate, where dark and dried fruits play along with sandalwood and mahogany flavors.
WS9292 pts. - Wine & Spirits - 12/21
This is a staunch mountain wine that needs a day of air to come out of its shell. It’s all hard edges at first, not so much about fruit, though the fruit is present; not inviting, but it leaves room for you to come inside. As the wine begins to relax, it feels like an old-fashioned cabernet with woodland flavors of mountain fruit and savory wild mushrooms. Powerful in its youthful structure, it needs a decade in the cellar for that structure to evolve.
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Primary Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

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WE9797 pts. - Wine Enthusiast - 10/1/2021
The flagship wine of de Nalys sourced from the famed La Crau vineyard, this powerful, complex red highlights Grenache augmented by Syrah, Mourvèdre, Counoise and Vacarèse. Matured partially in oak, it offers black-plum flavors muted by shades of earth, sun-scorched garrigue and a lingering vein of salty minerality. While soft in tannin, the wine needs time to tease out its smoky, stony nuances. Drink 2028–2040.
SP9595 pts. - Wine Spectator - Dec 15, 2021
A bright savory note leads off this red, followed quickly by sanguine and bay leaf accents, all melding nicely with the core of steeped blackberry, raspberry and plum fruit flavors as they move through the rich, licorice root–tinged finish. Best from 2022 through 2035. 1,000 cases imported. (James Molesworth)
RP94+94–96 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 30th Aug 2019
The best offering from this property I can remember, the 2018 Chateauneuf du Pape Grand Vin leads with knockout aromas of garrigue, raspberries and stone fruit. It’s full-bodied, loaded with explosive levels of fruit that buffer the silky tannins, and includes a vivid sense of tension that gives the finish drive and length.
VN9494 pts. - Vinous - Oct 2021
Deep ruby. Red and blue fruit, garrigue, pungent floral and exotic spice aromas show fine definition and mineral lift. Juicy black raspberry, boysenberry and candied lavender flavors deepen through the back half, with no loss of energy. Closes with emphatic, spicy thrust on the penetrating finish, which features even tannins and resonating floral and blue fruit notes.
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Primary Grape: Grenache

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JD97+97+ pts. - Jeb Dunnuck - 12/21/2021
Riper and more voluptuous, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard is a selection from the estate vineyard and a smaller production release. It has a wealth of ripe black fruits, smoke tobacco, chocolate, and violets, with more lead pencil and earthy nuances emerging with time in the glass. Concentrated, full-bodied, yet balanced and incredibly pure, it’s another terrific, seamless wine from this estate readers will love. I like it today, but give bottles a year or three and enjoy over the following 20+. (Jeb Dunnuck)
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Primary Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

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RP9797 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 8th Sep 2021
The 2018 Pinot Noir Diane Cobb Coastlands Vineyard comes from vines planted in 1989. Various clones are planted on AXR1 rootstock, including Wadenswil, Pommard and Martini. Despite the rootstock, Ross Cobb notes that the vines are unaffected by phylloxera. “We are very isolated out here, and those old clones are doing fine.” Pale ruby, the 2018 offers both power and delicacy. The nose takes time to evolve from tobacco leaves and dusty earth to wild blackberries and cranberries, citrus peel, rose petal and saline. The palate surprises with its fruit intensity and notably silty, seamless frame, finishing uplifted and very spicy. (Erin Brooks)
VN9595 pts. - Vinous - Jan 2021
The 2018 Ross Cobb’s Pinot Noir Diane Cobb: Coastlands Vineyard is one of the most unique Pinots in all of the Sonoma Coast. It emerges from 1,65-acre parcel planted with a variety of heritage clones, 75% own-rooted, but picked together and co-fermented. Effusive in its aromatics, with striking presence. Time in the glass brings out exotic spice and citrus overtones. I can’t wait to see how it ages. (Antonio Galloni)
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Primary Grape: Pinot Noir

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PerSe Volare del Camino

2018 / 750 ml.

Item #: 57080

RP9696 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 31st Mar 2021
As in 2017, the red 2018 Volare del Camino was produced from two plots in the Gualtallary Monastery, pure Malbec fermented destemmed with indigenous yeasts and matured for 16 months in barrel. This feels like the bigger brother of Inseparable, with a similar profile but a step up in austerity and subtleness, a little more closed and tight but still based on flowers, red fruit and some soil. It has a medium-bodied palate with very fine chalky tannins, a little sharper than those from Inseparable, more textured. This is getting closer to the spirit of Iubileus. This has a very soft extraction. 1,080 bottles were filled unfined and unfiltered in October 2019. In the next vintage, this wine will be put into a Burgundy bottle because they feel the soil from Volare with higher limestone content has a more Burgundian profile. (Luis Gutiérrez)
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Argentina | Mendoza | Uco Valley

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Primary Grape: Malbec

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Wine Spectator Top 100 SelectionWine Spectator Top 100 selection - 2019 | #9
Penfolds RWT Bin 798

Barossa Valley Shiraz
2017 / 750 ml.

Item #: 23089

JS9696 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Stunning blueberries and mulberries here with a wealth of baking spices and red berries, as well as tarry notes and blackberries. It is all here. The palate has a super plush, rich and quite compressed tannin feel. Some firm and powerful moments, as the palate builds with plentiful spiced summer berries. Red plums and blackberries to close. Try from 2025.
SP9696 pts. - Wine Spectator - Nov 30, 2019
Offers a lush, juicy mix of blackberry, blueberry and black cherry flavors that appears seamless, integrating with notes of amaretto, clove and lavender. Plush, juicy and very generous on the long, expressive finish. Drink now through 2034. 1,156 cases imported. (MaryAnn Worobiec)
RP9595 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 8th Aug 2019
Red raspberries abound on the nose of the 2017 RWT Shiraz, which — as usual — is all Barossa fruit aged in French oak (70% new). It’s full-bodied and velvety, with appealing notes of dried spices, beef and plenty of red fruit. There’s a cedary veneer to this vintage, which looks as if it will need a couple of years to come together, then drink well for up to two decades.
WS9393 pts. - Wine & Spirits - February 1, 2020
Peter Gago, Penfolds’ Chief Winemaker, worked closely with John Duval in the 1990s on the development of RWT, their red wine trial using Grange-level fruit aged in French oak rather than American. The aging regime brings a luscious texture and caramel scent to this wine, contrasted by the black olive and dark blueberry savor of the fruit. The tannins last in black and green peppercorn spice, already bold and delicious with air, suited to long evolution in the cellar.
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Primary Grape: Shiraz

AWARDS & ACCOLADES

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Wine Spec. Top 100 - 2019 | #9

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Andrew Will Sorella

Champoux Vineyard
2018 / 750 ml.

Item #: 59123

JD97+97+ pts. - Jeb Dunnuck - 5/6/2021
The flagship from this great estate is the 2018 Sorella, a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated blend (8% each of Cabernet Franc and Merlot and the 4% Petit Verdot) that spent the same 22 months in 35% new French oak. Gorgeous crème de cassis, tobacco leaf, lead pencil, and chocolate define the bouquet, and it’s medium to full-bodied, flawlessly balanced, and has a great, great finish. A classically styled, structured, age-worthy beauty, it will benefit from 4–5 years of bottle age and have 2–3 decades of overall longevity. Trust me, this will pass undetected in a blind lineup of top Bordeaux. (Jeb Dunnuck)
RP96+96+ pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 30th Nov 2021
Set to be released in spring of 2023, the 2018 Sorella is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% each of Merlot and Cabernet Franc with Petit Verdot filling in the remainder. Juicy, dusty and spicy aromas waft from the glass with succulent, floral notes that capture the nose. Spiced red cherries, potpourri and dusty black raspberry essences cartwheel with notions of lavender and rose hip before offering up delicate baking spices. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is initially subdued and grows in amplitude while offering a balanced structure with succulent tannins. The longer the wine sits on the palate, it increases in spiciness under the ripe, juicy dark red fruit tones. The Sorella continues to evolve in the mouth with persistence, lingering long, leaving behind flavors graphite, crème de cassis and black cherry skin. Just under 8,000 bottles were filled after the wine rested for 22 months in all French oak, 35% new. Set your calendar and put this on your shopping list for when it’s released. Bravo, another stunning vintage of Sorella on the books. (Anthony Mueller)
VN9595 pts. - Vinous - Mar 2023
The 2018 Sorella is youthly coy in the glass, with a darkly alluring blend of dusty dried flowers, cinnamon and clove nuances giving way to pretty hints of violet pastilles. There’s an abundance of energy within, as tart cherries and blackberries cascade across a core of zesty acidity, and sour citrus hints adding a lovely tension toward the close. A coating of fine tannins frames the finish, creating a truly classic feel, as the 2018 tapers off with a staining of primary concentration. (Eric Guido)
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Primary Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

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RP9696 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 11th Aug 2022
One of the icon wines of Piedmont, the 2018 Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra offers dazzling complexity with a fine filigree of aromas that starts with black and purple fruit and continues to rusty nail, candied orange peel and licorice. It culminates with pretty aromatic lift that comes in the form of dried mint and toasted aniseed. (Monica Larner)
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Italy | Piedmont | Barolo

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Primary Grape: Nebbiolo

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La Massa Giorgio Primo

2018 / 750 ml.

Item #: 59000

VN9797 pts. - Vinous - Sep 2021
The 2018 Giorgio Primo represents a new level of finesse at La Massa. Powerful and dense in the glass, with tremendous structure, Giorgio Primo is a terrific example of how compelling international varieties are in Parzano’s Conca d’Oro district. Crème de cassis, spice, new leather, chocolate and sweet spice build into the textured, palate-staining finish. (Antonio Galloni)
RP9696 pts. - Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate - 30th Jun 2022
The Fattoria La Massa 2018 Giorgio Primo is a wine of richness, volume and texture. The blend is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, and maceration times last 26 to 28 days to add the lovely depth and creaminess you taste here. Black fruit, crushed stone, truffle essence and toasted spice emerge from the bouquet. The wine’s full-bodied structure and its freshness promise a long cellar-aging future. (Monica Larner)
JS9595 pts. - JamesSuckling.com - Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Gorgeous aromas of blackcurrants and blackberries with hints of crushed stones and walnuts. Full body, firm and chewy tannins with blackberries and hints of chocolate and spice. Flavorful and intense at the end. Better after 2023, but better already very pretty. (James Suckling)
SP9292 pts. - Wine Spectator - Oct 31, 2023
A supple, balanced red marked by evolving flavors of ripe sweet cherry, black currant, leather, mushroom and woodsy underbrush. Firms up and offers a lively structure, with a lingering, spicy finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2032. 1,500 cases made, 40 cases imported. (Bruce Sanderson)
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Italy | Tuscany | Toscana

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Primary Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

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