Read Part 2 of Jim Campanini's look at Italy's revered Brunello di Montalcino red wine at www.low- ellsun.com /winenovice.
If your palate needs a bit of reviving after the holidays, here are 10 wines you should consider purchasing right now.
Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2016, $14.99: This is America's top-selling brand of Chardonnay, with 300,000 cases produced from Kendall-Jackson's outstanding California vineyards. The quality and consistency from vintage to vintage remains outstanding, a credit to winemaster Randy Ullom who's been directing this top-notch team since 1997. Wine Advocate magazine ranked this Chardonnay No. 27 on its 2017 Top 100 Wine List.
Manzoni Vineyards Chardonnay 2015, $24.99: This Santa Lucia Highlands wine comes from a small estate that turns out just 4,000 cases annually -- and less than 1,000 are for this prized Chardonnay. Manzoni proves that not all Chardonnays taste alike. Here, the cool climate of Vigna Monte Negro, coupled with a long ripening season, produce small berry clusters of highly concentrated flavors. The subtle use of French oak softens the wine early on, but for the most part, it undergoes steel-tank fermentation. The result is a complex body of exotic fruit wrapped in layers of creme brulée and toasted almond. (Available at the Wine ConneXtion in North Andover).
Roero Arneis Bruno Giacosa DOCG 2014, $14: The Roero Arneis grape grows in the outer hillside range that rings the western edge of the Piedmont's prestigious red Barolo and Barbaresco zone. It is a fantastic dry white wine, slightly effervescent on the palate, and vibrantly mineral. It tastes of apricots and white peaches. A lovely experience, especially with green salads, soft cheeses and linguini with white clam sauce.
Macon-Villages Chardonnay Les Galets Plats 2016, $10.99: Costco always has a run on this pure French white, which is defined by yellow apple and pear fruit flavors on a clean, crisp frame. Who says you have to overpay for a Burgundy white? The price is simple, this wine is not.
La Pettegola Vermentino Banfi 2016, $15.
Post House Blueish White 2014, South Africa, $9.99: There's a reason America is rapidly becoming the biggest importer of South African wines: They are good and inexpensive. Chenin Blanc is one of my favorite grapes.
Castellare di Castellina Chianti Classico 2015, $14.99: Wine expert Antonio Galloni declares the 2015 vintage to be one of the decade's best. While he didn't review this bottling, I did. Take my word for it -- at this price (at Vino Italiano, Waltham), it's an absolute joy. It's warm and inviting with strawberry aromas leading into dried cherry flavors sprinkled with wild herbs, spices, and crushed stone minerals. It will get smoother in a year or two, but this is ready to drink now as a perfect pizza and pasta wine.
Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico 2013, $17.
Nobilo Pinot Noir 2015, Marlborough, $14.99: This New Zealand red hit the market at a suggested retail price of $22 a bottle, and it's now on sale in New Hampshire. The cops should arrest anyone walking out of the store with a case of it. It's pleasantly packed with raspberry and strawberry pie flavors, and silky smooth. Thinking of what to drink with a rack of lamb? Here's the pick.
River Walk Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 California, $10: I handed out several dozen bottles of this wine, along with the winery's Chardonnay, as holiday gifts, and a majority of the beneficiaries wanted to know where they could get more. The price shouldn't fool anyone who drinks California Cabernets. They are exclusively good, and River Walk meets all the expectations of a decent, everyday drinking red. This truly great bargain comes courtesy of Sam Messina at the Wine ConneXtion. Spread it around to your friends and it will work wonders.