Wine Advocate - Top Scores Now Released

Posted on 

April 20, 2023

We are thrilled to release our new scores from Wine Advocate, featuring some of our most ageworthy and collectible current releases. Mark Squires, reviewer for Wine Advocate and recipient of the Wine Personality of the Year award, gives his take on what makes each of these bottles so exceptional:

The centerpiece here, though, is Early Mountain. Early Mountain has become a consistent and excellent Virginia winery that rarely, if ever, disappoints. The reds have concentration, ripeness and structure. […] The best was the 2019 Rise, but that was also the most expensive. The 2020 Eluvium is not too far behind and offers a lot more value. They both can improve a lot more with time”

2019 Rise - 93 Points

The 2019 Rise is a blend of mostly Merlot (57%) and Cabernet Franc (18%), with the rest divided between Petit Verdot and Tannat. It was aged for 20 months in 55% new French barriques and comes in at 14.5% alcohol. This, like the 2020 Eluvium also reviewed in this report, controls potential green nuances well. It is not a sweet-and-fruity blend, but it is not a vegetal one either. It is still very tasty and often delicious, at least before it closes up. One key difference between this 2019 Rise and the 2020 Eluvium is the obvious: this has had an extra year in the bottle to become more expressive and harmonious. I don't think that is the only difference, though. This is riper, more expressive by its nature, and it still maintains some finesse and focus. As open as this is relative to the Eluvium, which is even more about potential, this is still nowhere near peak and not completely ready. You can drink it now, especially if you are a masochist who likes to waste $125, because it is a relatively polished wine that does not have hard tannins. However, you'll be a lot happier drinking it in the later years of this decade, say around 2027. You'll thank me later.

2021 Petit Manseng - 92 Points

The 2021 Petit Manseng (there is also 2% Chardonnay) is dry and comes in at 13.3% alcohol. It was aged for 11 months in mostly used wood (in turn, mostly French), although there is also a barrel of fermentation lees that contributes. The winery calls that its "Solera lees," started in 2017 in neutral wood. After a quick Chardonnay tasting, this was jarring, but awfully fine. The big acidity just grips the palate, but the combination of grapefruit and mango makes this delicious, too, in its stern and serious fashion. The wood gives it a certain overlay that never turns to vanilla. Then, there is the pure power. This is a lighter vintage than the last I saw, but it works well on its own terms and still seems impressive. It might even be better. The power and tension do mean that it will be best suited as a pairing for food, though, not a standalone sipper. It should hold for the rest of the decade, at least. It's a beauty.

2020 Eluvium - 91+ Points

The 2020 Eluvium is a 75/25 blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot aged for 18 months in 40%new French barriques. It comes in at 14.1% alcohol. Another beauty, this is focused with good finesse, but also great fruit. It is always dry and serious, though, not a fruity concoction. The fruit shows steel and slate on the finish, giving it both nuance and length. It seems lifted and persistent. This is polished enough to drink now, but that would be a mistake. It can become much more harmonious and expressive in a few years. It seems poised to evolve and improve. It is a fine follow-up to the beautiful 2019 last year.”

2020 Quaker Run Cabernet Franc - 90 Points

The 2020 Cabernet Franc Quaker Run Vineyard was aged for 14 months in 20% new Stockinger barrels. It comes in at 13.8% alcohol. This seems respectably deep in mouthfeel, a bit green (as is typical, there are olives and a subtle nuance rather than an overwhelmingly vegetal one) and a bit gripping on the finish. It handles the wood well, not losing much character along the way, but adding some velvet for texture. This evolved beautifully as it sat in the glass, showing off its long and textured finish. This should hold throughout the decade, maybe longer. It seems like a beauty today, and not yet at peak. It is very drinkable now, but another year or two wouldn't hurt.

2020 Quaker Run Chardonnay - 90 Points

“The 2020 Chardonnay Quaker Run Vineyard was aged for 12 months in used Stockinger barrels (from the Northern European woods that the winery likes, typically Austrian and German). It is nicely dry and comes in at just 12.3% alcohol. This is a beauty. Lean but pure, it relies on precision and acidity while pulling in the wood perfectly. The texture has a touch of velvet, but this is mostly about the fruit and the supporting acidity. There is a good expression of fruit, as lean as it is. If you're looking for a fat and buttery Chardonnay, though, look away. This won't satisfy that itch. Youthful, vigorous and vibrant, it does other things beautifully, though. It should hold for most of the rest of the decade, more or less. It is a pleasure to drink now, too, and it may be a tense and exciting Chardonnay this summer. 105 cases were produced from 1999 vines.”