Marchesi Antinori Cervaro della Sala 2017Several weeks ago, I received an email advertising the 2017 Marchesi Antinori Cervaro della Sala, a high-profile Italian white that had recently received a whopping 99 points (100-point scale) from wine critic James Suckling. The asking price? A mere $49.98.

The 2017 is a highly unusual wine, a blend of 88% Chardonnay and 12% Grechetto, a white wine grape varietal with Greek origins. Planted throughout central Italy, particularly in the Umbria region, Grechetto is used to add citrus and dried nut characters to wines with which it is blended.

This wine is also unique in its crafting. The Chardonnay undergoes primary and malolactic fermentation in French barriques for several months; it is then transferred into stainless steel and paired with the Grechetto before bottling. In other words, the wine is barrel-fermented but not barrel-aged.

Mr. Suckling was effusive: “This is big and powerful, without being ripe and heavy. So much apple, stone, and hints of toffee. Aromatic. Full-bodied, layered and framed with phenolic tension and a great finish. Muscular and agile at the same time One of the best I have tasted. Drink or hold. 99 points.

Naturally, I was interested. I’ve always been partial to Italian wines; and I’ve always felt that Italian whites had received short shrift from critics and the wine drinking public alike… Plus, I was curious to see how this particular Italian white– so highly rated – would measure up… Truth be told, I was even more interested in the 2016 Marchesi Antinori Cervaro della Sala, upon which Mr. Suckling bestowed a not insignificant 97 points, describing it as “the Batard-Montrachet (a highly-regarded – and expensive – French white Burgundy) of Italy.” That really piqued my interest.

… So, I purchased a bottle of each; and, one afternoon, my dining partner and I set them up for a side-by-side tasting. The results, I confess, were a little surprising. We both found the lower rated 2016 (97pointer) to be superior to its more highly-rated sibling. The nose was rife with vanilla and spice. On the palate, the wine was quite elegant with subtle hints of oak. The 2017 (99-pointer), on the other hand, as Mr. Sucking noted, had power to spare, but also opened up significantly over the course of time.

While my dining partner and I concurred in our preference for the finesse of the 2016 over the sheer power of the 2017, we were also very much in agreement that both wines had been significantly overrated. Mr. Suckling, in my experience, has apparently parked himself at the high end of the oenological Richter scale and tends to remain there… I would characterize the two wines in question as “good” in overall quality (my dining partner, however, would disagree) but certainly not “great” or “exceptional” by any stretch of the imagination. And when less than exceptional wines receive exceptional scores – the aforementioned 99 and 97 points, respectively, for example – then there is obviously something amiss with the either the methodology or the wine critic… or both.

The bottom line for me is simple: Having sampled both of the above, would I be willing to purchase half a case or a case of either to cellar away for future quaffing? And the answer is a definitive “No.” There are just too many other wines out there, in my opinion, that have infinitely more to offer.




La Fava Restaurant & Bar

1102 Baltimore Pike, #101

Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

(484) 840-8603

La Fava - InteriorHidden away in a small shopping center on Route 1 North, La Fava made its debut in February 2019. And, judging by the crowds I’ve witnessed recently at both lunch and dinner, its Italian Mediterranean fusion cuisine has made quite a splash on the local dining scene. The menu, which draws upon Italian, Greek, Spanish, and Provençal influences, is just broad enough to appeal to a wide range of palates, just focused enough to prevent its culinary reach from exceeding its grasp… And, as you quickly notice, this isn’t your typical bill-of-fare.

La Fava - Pollo RosmarinoThe closest you’ll come to the usual suspects is undoubtedly the Chicken Parmigiana; although, the beautifully fried chicken cutlet topped with melted mozzarella cheese and sided by spaghetti has its own unique charm. But of infinitely more interest, in my opinion, is the Pollo Rosmarino (pictured). The semi-boneless free-range chicken is perfectly roasted, irresistibly moist and succulent, and spruced up with rosemary, loads of Castelvetrano olives, and a splash of white wine. A word about the olives… They hail from Castelvetrano, Sicily, and are produced from the nocerella del belice olive variety. They have a Kermit-green hue, meaty, buttery flesh, and a decidedly mild flavor. They are tender and crisp, almost fruit-like, and their subtle taste and texture will add immeasurably to your enjoyment of this lovingly prepared dish.

La Fava - Salmone Salsa VerdeSeafood selections offer diners a number of impressive permutations. The Caciucco Toscano, for example, is an invigorating take on cioppino, a stew incorporating mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, and fish fillet in a tasty tomato garlic broth. The Monkfish Ossobuco is presented with crawfish on a bed of sun-dried tomato risotto with a sprinkling of fresh dill and splash of anisette. Then there’s the deliciously photogenic Salmone Salsa Verde (pictured). A crispy skinned filet is set on an island of well-seasoned barley and surrounded by a sea of sweet pea purée.

La Fava - Angus Beef BurgerMeaty matters continue the kitchen’s stimulating take on menu staples. Filleto di Maiale embellishes pork tenderloin with cannellini bean purée, root vegetables, and a seductive sherry thyme jus… while Vitello e Gamberi teams sautéed veal scallopini with shrimp & crawfish in a heady brandy reduction. Even the Angus Beef Burger (pictured) gets the royal treatment with a winning combo of caramelized onion, spicy apple jam, smoked mozzarella, and a tiara of crispy pancetta. And for those with more straightforward appetites, there’s always the Butcher’s Market, the chef’s cut of the day.

La Fava - Tagliatelle w scallops, spinach, tomatoesThe pasta dishes divide their time between classic and innovative presentations. For those who prefer more traditional fare, choices include items such as the Fusilli al Forno with meatballs, San Marzano tomatoes, fontina, and Pecorino Romano and the ever-popular Rigatoni Norma with tender fried eggplant, basil, a rustic tomato sauce, and ricotta salata. For the more adventurous of palate, the Spaghetti Tirreno – a combo of mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, cherry tomatoes, and white wine saffron broth – should fill the bill quite nicely… ditto Gnocchi Boscaiola, forest mushrooms, mild sausage, and lemon ricotta tinctured with thyme. The table favorite, however, proved to be the special Tagliatelle (pictured) awash with scallops, spinach, and tomatoes swimming in a white wine infused broth.

On the other hand, the Roasted Vegetable Lasagna offers diners a bit of both worlds. While it resembles your standard lasagna awash with San Marzano tomato sauce, the magic lies just below the surface in a winning combo of squash, spinach, and a host of root vegetables. But the pièce de résistance is a decadently rich béchamel sauce, which makes an extraordinarily delicious stand-in for the business-as-usual ricotta.

La Fava - Fritto MistoAntipasti run the gamut – from char-grilled Spanish octopus & salmon carpaccio to Tre Formaggi & Tre Salumi, the chef’s daily selection of three artisanal cheeses and three cured meats, respectively – and, like the entrées, add a few interesting twists and turns to more familiar starters.  The Garden Tempura teams up crisp vegetable chips with tzatziki and sweet pepper dipping sauces. And the not-to-be-missed Fritto Misto (pictured) presents a winning combo of delicately deep-fried calamari, shrimp, and zucchini sticks with a seductive pickled pepper aioli.

La Fava - Poached Pear SaladThe salads here make excellent starters as well. The House Caesar, for example, is accented with shaved Grana Padano, crunchy focaccia crostini, and a beguiling dressing that offers up just the subtlest hint of anchovy. For a more innovative take on greenery, the Dyno Kale Salad incorporates cucumber, sour apple, crispy chickpeas, golden raisins, goat cheese, and a dill-honey lime vinaigrette. But even better, in my opinion, is the Poached Pear Salad (pictured). Here you have an interesting gathering of field greens, strawberries, toasted almonds, and an absolutely irresistible limoncello dressing.

La Fava - Apple TartDesserts, which tend to be more straightforward than either the appetizers or entrées, are well worth considering. There are, of course, the ubiquitous Cannoli and Tiramisu, as well as more upscale choices like the Lemon & Chocolate Capri Cake and Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake. For something light and refreshing, the tangy Lemon Sorbetto can’t be beat… but if you’re prefer a bit more razzle-dazzle, Bananas Foster can be prepared tableside. If, however, the sublimely simple Apple Tarte (pictured) happens to put in a guest appearance as a daily special, don’t hesitate to snatch it up.

La Fava also sports an impressive list of signature cocktails, as well as a number of interesting wines by the glass, including a light & lively Mandrarossa Fiano from Sicily and a smooth and supple “Chronicon” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo courtesy of Zaccagnini. Upon request, there is also a select list of wines available by the bottle.

Note: Since the completion of this review, the restaurant has installed sound absorbing acoustic panels, which significantly cut down on the noise level in the bustling dining room.

 Bon Appétit!



Stage Left Steak - InteriorOn Thursday evening, September 5, 2019, Stage Left Steak in New Brunswick, New Jersey, will host a walk-around wine tasting and wine dinner featuring the extraordinary Cabernets and Chardonnays of White Rock Vineyards of Napa, California.

Hors d’Oeuvres & Tasting: Chardonnay “Reserve” 2016… Cabernet Sauvignon “Laureate” 2014… Cabernet Sauvignon “Laureate” 2009

Lobster & Black Truffle Manicotti: Chardonnay 2016

Duck Pastrami on Rye Toast: White Rock “Claret” 2016

Wagyu Beef Tasting – Flatiron Steak, Cheese Steak, Beef Tartare: Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

A Tasting of the Honeys of Mario Bianco (the best Flora-Specific, Vintage Honey in Europe): Acacia Blossom 2017… Chestnut Blossom 2017… Cherry Blossom 2018… Eucalyptus 2016… Dandelion 2016; Served with Goat Cheese, Nuts, Apples, and Vanilla Ice Cream

Walk-Around Tasting 6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Dinner at 7:00 p.m.

The price of the White Rock Vineyards Tasting and Wine Dinner is $199.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 828-4444.

Bon Appétit!



Estia Radnor - Interior 1From Thursday, August 22 – Thursday, September 5, 2019, Estia Philadelphia and Estia Taverna in Radnor, PA, and Marlton, NJ, will be celebrating the end of summer with a special three-course prix-fixe menu priced at $35.00 per person.

 Appetizer (Choice of) – Tuna Carpaccio: Diced Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Crispy Capers, Shallots, Arugula, Extra Virgin Olive Oil… Santorini Salata: Mixed Spring Greens, Cherry Tomatoes, Grapes, Fennel, Toasted Almonds, Crispy Kefalograviera, Honey Lime Vinaigrette… Chilean Sea Bass Souvlaki: Charcoal Grilled with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

 Entrée (Choice of) – Lobster Linguini: Fresh Main Lobster sautéed with Cherry Tomatoes and Linguini in a Brandy Infused Tomato Sauced topped with Grated Feta and Fresh Basil… Lamb Chops: Marinated in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon and Herbs, Charcoal Grilled, Roasted Potatoes, Tzatziki… Pan-Seared Halibut: “Spetsiota” with Red, Yellow and Green Peppers, Vidalia Onions, Capers, Roasted Vine Ripened Tomato Sauce… Organic Chicken: Roasted Leg and Breast, Caramelized Onion and Yogurt Orzo Lemon Thyme Jus

 Dessert (Choice of) – Baklava Rolls: Walnuts and Pistachios rolled in House-Made Phyllo, Caramel Drizzle, Vanilla Gelato… Poached Peach: Champagne Reduction, Greek Yogurt, Candied Almonds

As noted above, the cost of the end of summer menu is $35.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call your preferred Estia Restaurant.

 Bon Appétit!



Nicholas - Jersey Tomato Tasting MenuFrom Tuesday, August 27 – Saturday, August 31, 2019, Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will be serving a special menu featuring fabulous Jersey tomatoes in every course.

Amuse: Charred Tomato Bisque, Basil Oil

First Course: Heirloom Tomato Salad, Hand-Pulled Mozzarella, Aged White Balsamic Vinegar

Second Course: Goat Cheese Ricotta Raviolini, Beefsteak Tomato Jam, Basil Blossoms

Third Course: Pan Seared Barnegat Light Scallops, Spirit of New Jersey Bloody Mary

Fourth Course: Grilled Pink Shrimp, Chilled Jersey Tomato Gazpacho, Avocado Lime Purée

Dessert Amuse: Brandywine Tomato Sorbet

Dessert Course: Olive Oil Quesos Cerron, Tomato Preserve

The price of the special Jersey tomato tasting menu, which will be served in the dining room only, is $85.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!



Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar - Glen MillsOn Thursday evening, August 15, 2019, the various locations of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar will be serving a special four course dinner paired with rosé wines from around the world.

 First Course: Grilled Sea Scallops, Sweet & Sour Cucumber Gel, Cucamelon, Jalapeño, Lemon Oil, Deep Sea Foam, White Chocolate; Wine Pairing: Rosé, Vinho Verde, Escudo Real Minho, Portugal

 Second Course: Crab & Avocado Toast, Jumbo Lump Crab, Rustic Toast, Poblano Pepper, Latin Spice, Corn Fritters, Cilantro; Wine Pairing: Rosé, Corvina/Trebbiano/Syrah/Carmenere, Pasqua, “11 Minutes,” Veneto, Italy

 Third Course: Sous Vide Free Bird Chicken Breast, Sweet Corn Succotash, Chili-Lime Aioli, Heirloom tomato Salad; Wine Pairing: Rosé, Grenache/Syrah, M. Chapoutier, “Belleruche,” Rhône, France

 Dessert Course: Late Summer Pound Cake, Grilled Rosé-Poached Peach, Blueberry, Granola, Vanilla Whipped Cream; Wine Pairing: Brut Rosé, Segura Viudas, Cava, Spain

The cost of the rosé wine dinner is $69.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call a specific Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar.

Harvest has locations in Glen Mills, North Wales, Radnor, Moosic, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Newtown, Pa; Moorestown, NJ.; and Delray Beach, FL

Bon Appétit!




Nicholas in Main Dining RoomOn Thursday, August 22, 2019, 7:00 p.m., Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will host a special dinner paired with the beers of Carton Brewery of nearby Atlantic Highlands, NJ. Special guest of the evening will be owner Augie Carton.

First Course: Crispy Pork Belly, Peach Butter; Brew Pairing: Carton Boat Session Ale

Second Course: Crispy Octopus, Peruvian Salsa Verde, Charred Eggplant Purée

Third Course: Spiced Carton Beer Cheese Soup, Young Rapini, Broccoli Chips; Brew Pairing: Carton “Blossom” Saison O.W.C.

Fourth Course: Crispy Red Snapper, Summer Corn Pudding, Carnaroli Rice, Parmigiano Crème; Brew Pairing: Carton “Planning Jersey” Barn Beer O.W.C.

Fifth Course: Carton UnJunct Stout Beer Braised Beef Short Rib, Espresso Pommes Mousseline; Brew Pairing: Carton “Sundae” O.W.C.

Dessert Course: Kelly’s Brownie, Bacon Caramel, Nicholas Creamery Carton Stout Ice Cream

The price of the Carton Brewery dinner is $95.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!



Alba - Interior 2On Monday, August 19, 2019, 7:00 p.m., Restaurant Alba, 7 West King Street, Malvern, Pennsylvania, will be hosting a special dinner featuring “Coastal Villages of the Mediterranean” Wine & Tasting Menu.

La Spezia, Liguria, Italy: Fried Rock Shrimp, Pesto, Lemon Aioli; Wine Pairing: 2011 Tenuta La Ghiaia, “Ithaa” Vermentino (orange)

Mazara del Vallo, Sicily, Italy: Raw Ahi Tuna, Potatoes, Olive & Caper Tapenade; Wine Pairing: 2015 Assuli, “Astolfo” Grillo

Jumilla, Valencia, Spain: Valencia Style Paella, Chicken, Chorizo, Calamari, Saffron, Peas; Wine Pairing: 2016 Hammeken Cellars Gran Pasas Monastrell

Naples, Campania, Italy: Wood Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Poached Fennel, extra Virgin Olive Oil; Wine Pairing: 2008 Rocca del Principe Taurasi

Rivesaltes, Languedoc, France: Roquefort Bleu Cheese, Amaretti Stuffed & Baked Apricots; Wine Pairing: Terrassous Rivesaltes 6-Year

The price of the Coastal Villages of the Mediterranean wine and tasting menu is $115.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call Restaurant Alba at (610) 644-4009.

Bon Appétit!



Francisco’s on the River

1251 River Road

Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania

(215) 321-8789

Francisco's on the River - ExteriorFirst reviewed in December 2017, Francisco’s remains a local (and personal) favorite. Chef/proprietor Francisco Argueta, a native of El Salvador, has stated that something like ninety percent of his customers are regulars; and I certainly have no reason to doubt his word. So, if you happen to be cruising by on a journey to or from the New Hope/Lambertville area, this charming little BYOB makes the perfect stopover for a casual dinner.

During my most recent visit, on a warm & inviting Saturday evening, my dining partner and I lucked out and managed to snare one of the coveted tables on the outdoor patio. Which, as it turned out, was quite fortuitous, as the interior dining areas were packed to the gills, and the noise level (when the door was left ajar), even from our vantage point, was nothing less than lethal.

Not a great deal has changed here since my initial review… From the moment you’re seated, servers still hawk the establishment’s famous whole wheat garlic bread. It isn’t complimentary, but $3.00 is a paltry sum to shell out for something so utterly delicious. In point of fact, it’s downright sensual and guaranteed to get those gastric juices flowing for the good things to come.

Francisco's - Arugula Salad with Shrimp Citrus VinaigretteThe first thing you’ll undoubtedly notice when you check out the appetizers is that salads make up a lion’s share of the possibilities (and are also noted as daily specials). So, in case you missed the not-so-subtle hint, let me spell it out for you (as I did in my initial review)… when it comes to starters, greenery is clearly the way to go here. I’ve been treated, for example, to such delicacies as a Blueberry and Pear Salad with goat cheese & white balsamic vinaigrette, as well as an incomparable Caprese Salad spruced up with a fabulously flavorful basil pesto. Most recently, however, a special Arugula Salad adorned with shrimp, chunks of tomato & orange segments tossed in a lemon/olive oil vinaigrette (pictured) filled the bill quite nicely.

Francisco's - Herb-Crusted HalibutAlthough Francisco’s is best known for its hearty, old-fashioned Italian cuisine, on this particular occasion both my dining partner and I settled on the slightly more innovative seafood specials… she with the Tilapia topped with Crabmeat; I with the Herb-Crusted Halibut (pictured) adorned with an excellent fennel citrus sauce. The accompanying vegetable medley, while adding a welcome splash of color to the proceedings, was strictly generic on the palate. The red-skinned mashed potatoes, on the other hand, were decadently rich & creamy, beautifully seasoned… and worth the price of admission.

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If Francisco’s has a house specialty, it is undoubtedly Chef Argueta’s brilliant take on the two ultimate paradigms of Neapolitan comfort cuisine. His Eggplant Parmigiano, which usually suffers from plebian overtones, is deliciously picturesque and decidedly upscale. Fourteen (14) layers of wafer-thin sliced eggplant are bathed in the restaurant’s red sauce and enhanced with a sprinkling of parmesan and basil. Equally pleasing to both eye and palate is his Lasagna (pictured). Luscious layers of perfectly cooked pasta are interspersed with ricotta cheese & Bolognese supplemented by porcini mushrooms, smoked bacon, mozzarella cheese, and more of that irresistible red sauce.

Francisco's on the River - Coconut Cake, House FavoriteDesserts include such first-rate items as Crème Brûlée, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Coconut Cake, Chocolate Torte and Lemon Tart. The Coconut Cake (pictured) is the house favorite; and, in my estimation, deserving of that accolade. The cake itself is marvelously moist; the icing appropriately sweet… but not cloyingly so. On the other hand, after a hearty Italian dinner, a light, citrusy, palate-cleansing dessert might be just the ticket… And, when it is available, the aforementioned Lemon Tart is just what the doctor ordered.

As noted above, Francisco’s is a BYOB restaurant… and a good bottle of Italian vino is certainly called for. However, if you also happen to be in search of an enjoyable preprandial libation, allow me to suggest the cozy, comfortable, and extremely casual Bowman’s Tavern, just up the road toward New Hope.

Bon Appétit!



The Wines of EnRoute

by artfuldiner on July 24, 2019

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Wine

EnRoute - VineyardsEnRoute was established in California’s Russian River Valley in 2007 by the partners of Napa Valley’s Far Niente Winery. Devoted exclusively to producing Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, EnRoute introduced its first wine, “Les Pommiers,” in May 2009. Les Pommiers is named for the apple orchards that once flourished in the region, and reflects a blend of vineyards primarily from Green Valley and the upper Middle Reach area of the Russian River Valley AVA.

The name, EnRoute is a reference to the journey the partners – including Beth Nickel, Erik Nickel, Jeremy Nickel, Dirk Hampson, and Larry Maguire – have taken on their way to producing Pinot Noir, which began in Burgundy in the 1980s. While Far Niente’s vision is exclusively focused on Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, the partners still enjoyed traveling and tasting the great Pinot Noirs of the world. Eventually, sister winery Nickel & Nickel’s single-vineyard program provided opportunity to venture into the Russian River Valley. After several years of producing wines here, the partners decided to make a serious commitment to the region by acquiring two remarkable vineyards and establishing EnRoute, devoted completely to Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

In search of vineyards to comprise their “Les Pommiers” Pinot blend, the partners also discovered several lots that stood out for their particular character: Some vineyards produced intensely structured wines with bold aromas, while others were more delicate with silkier tannins and subtle notes of fruit and earth. Thus, with the 2013 vintage, EnRoute debuted their single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, featuring wines from their Amber Ridge and Northern Spy Vineyards.

In 2013, EnRoute also expanded its portfolio to include “Brumaire,” a Chardonnay named for the famous fog that every morning envelops the Russian River Valley. The EnRoute Chardonnay is a blend derived from vineyards carefully planted on a soil type known as Goldridge, a fine sandy loam that produces wines with vibrant citrus and mineral notes and the textures that are the trademarks of the region’s best Chardonnays.

EnRoute - Andrew Delos WinemakerAndrew Delos has been making Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley and Sonoma County for most of his winemaking career. Following graduation from the Viticulture and Enology program at University of California, Davis, he served as enologist with MacRostie Winery in Carneros. He was then appointed assistant winemaker at Pellegrini Family Vineyards in the Russian River Valley where he worked with Olivet Lane Vineyard. Eventually, Mr. Delos became assistant winemaker at single-vineyard specialist Nickel & Nickel in Napa Valley, where he made wines from Napa Valley, Russian River, and Sonoma Coast. When the winery partners created EnRoute in 2007, given his background in Russian River Pinot Noir, Mr. Delos was the obvious choice for winemaker.

EnRoute - 2015 Chardonnay2015 EnRoute Brumaire Chardonnay (Russian River Valley): My introduction to EnRoute came by way of this extraordinary Chardonnay. Recently garnering a whopping 95 points (100-point scale) from the Wine Enthusiast, the 2015 is voluptuously rich yet lithe and velvety on the palate. There’s plenty of oak here, but it’s so beautifully balanced with nuances of fresh citrus that you only sense succulence and complexity rather than heaviness. To quote Wilfred Wong of, “This winery seems to be aiming to make the most traditional style Chardonnay with a decidedly Burgundian accent.” For my money, it is certainly succeeding. And speaking of money… This wine normally retails around the $40.00 mark. However, as a Chairman’s Selection, it is currently on sale in Pennsylvania State Stores for a mere $24.99. Since there still appears to be plenty of it around, my advice is to catch it while you can.

EnRoute - 2016 Pinot Noir2016 EnRoute Pinot Noir Russian River Valley “Les Pommiers”: This charming wine possesses all that oenophiles love about Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley: namely, luxurious aroma and ultra-rich texture. Generous red fruit flavors dance across the palate softened by elegant, silky tannins, while a mouthwatering acidity leads to a long and focused finish. And you won’t have to wait years or even months for this little beauty to come around… it’s irresistibly approachable at the present moment. Just pop the cork and have a go. However, given the wine’s superb structure and intensity, setting a few bottles aside in the cellar for five to ten years will also have its rewards. Available through Pennsylvania State Stores at $59.99, the high end of the retail scale, this wine is hardly a bargain. On the other, I’ve seen it offered online for as low as $29.99. So, this is one instance in which a little comparison shopping could save you a bundle. Definitely worth seeking out.