Empire WineSM Staff Picks

Below you'll find some favorite wines selected by our staff.

21 results
With the cold weather in full swing, this rich monastrell blend makes for a perfect companion on a chilly winter's evening. Truly alluring in the glass. Full bodied, deep garnet, aromas of candied cherries, plum and the complex terrior of the region give way to bright acidity and lively tannins, demanding a savory food pairing. Decant for an hour+ to open up this dry cuvee's full potential. ~Matt

Bodegas Castano 'Solanera' Red Blend 2015

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12dSpainSpain » Yecla

Wine Advocate 92 "The 2015 Solanera used to wear the ultimate Spanglish label, which said "Vias Viejas of Monastrell" even if it was always a blend

Nothing says spring like a glass of this sparkling Gamay. This off dry bubbly with a slightly tart cherry flavor has you going for another sip immediately. Strawberry, cherry and other dark fruits mix together with a slight creaminess that can compliment any light appetizer, preferably enjoyed out on the deck. This will undoubtedly change the minds of anyone who has been hesitant about sparkling Rose and reassure those who know they do nothing but enhance a beautiful day. ~Mike

Patrick Bottex Bugey-Cerdon 'La Cueille' NV

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$18.95 $24.30

18cFranceFrance » Bugey Cerdon

Robert Parker 90 "This cuvee may qualify as the 'wine bargain of the year.' A Champagne-like sparkling rose from the largely forgotten area of Bugey (which

Deep, enticing purple color in the glass. Nose of plums and dark berries. Fruity upon entry with a quick transition into gravel and spices with a medium-length finish reminiscent of forest floor and wood. Somehow, the tannins are both soft and prevalent. Well balanced and undeniably enjoyable ESPECIALLY for this price. ~Michael

Bodegas Volver 'Tarima' Monastrell 2017

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12bSpainSpain » Alicante

James Suckling 92 Great black fruit that is fully ripe without a hint of overripeness. This is a big, rich wine. Rather fine and generous

This is a delicious example of what true Champagne should be. Great acid and full body make for a mouthwatering and rich drinking experience. Elegant bubbles and notes of freeze-dried green apple and lemon rine are accompanied by chalky minerality and subltle yeastiness with a persistent finish. Easily my favorite bubbly for the price. ~Michael

Laherte Freres 'Ultratradition' Brut NV

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$32.95 $45.33

19eFranceFrance » Champagne

Wine Spectator 92 "Well-spiced and mouthwatering, this vivid Champagne offers a finely detailed bead and expressive flavors of black raspberry, dried apricot, orange blossom, fleur de

This value driven Beaujolais hits all the right notes. Juicy raspberry, plum and cherry notes are evident right up front. There is a delicate herbaceous nose that leads into an almost slight meatiness in the finish that makes this a great value at an incredible price. Pair this French gem with anything, and I mean anything. ~Mike

Bonnet Rouge Gamay 2013

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64aFranceFrance » Beaujolais

Winery Notes Bonnet Rouge Gamay Noir is a classic carbonic wine with bright fruit on the nose and palate and lighter tannins paired with balanced acidity.

Finally the weather's getting nicer, and with it, we have the perfect opportunity to enjoy this light bodied northern italian red. Flush with raspberry jam and spice on the nose, bright maraschino cherry, pomegranate, and vanilla warm the early palate. Lingering hints of pepper and tobacco along with mild tannins make this an ideal paring for food. Meant to be enjoyed immediately. ~Matt

Monte del Fra Bardolino 2016

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17dItalyItaly » Bardolino Classico

Wine Enthusiast 92 "Aromas of ground black pepper and wild berry lead the way. The juicy delicious palate mirrors the nose, doling out succulent Marasca cherry,

This is everything I want out of a chardonnay! This classically styled wine is straw colored in the glass with a nose of apricot, lime, and unmistakable butter and almond notes. It is full and creamy on the palate with pronounced lime flavors and a mineral driven finish. The oak is present, but far from being the main attraction. This would go great with a log of goat cheese, grilled octopus, or chicken in a lemon-garlic cream sauce. ~Michael

Domaine de Roally Vire-Clesse 2016

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$22.95 $29.39

54bFranceFrance » Vire-Clesse

Wine Advocate 91 Notes of lime blossom, acacia honey and fresh peach introduce the 2016 Vir-Cless, a medium to full-bodied, succulent wine with juicy acids, excellent

The soft bite of the bubbles opens the palate to a well balanced yet ever present acidity followed by a red fruit attack predominantly featuring strawberry and ripe watermelon. This bottle just begs to be paired with fresh fruit salad and a loved one. One of the better bubbly's under $20; rose or otherwise. ~Dan

Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Rose NV

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$15.95 $18.13

18eFranceFrance » Cremant d'Alsace

Wine Enthusiast 90 "Tart red currant, rhubarb and strawberry come together in a very refreshing, rounded and appetizing fashion. The frothy, foaming mousse is exuberant and

Can’t beat this at the price. Heavy, grassy scent of ripe green apple. Short lived, acidic and apple driven palate. Super dry and fruity. All the fun of an easy-drinking PG without breaking the bank. ~Michael

Cote Mas Blanc Languedoc White Blend 2018 1.0L

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15eFranceFrance » Languedoc

Fourth-generation vintner Jean-Claude Mas has blazed the trail for premium winemaking in the Languedoc region. Since taking the helm of the Mas familys centuries-old estate

Derived from the Icelandic word for smoke, Reyka embodies the purity and uniqueness that the island is known for. Distilled using geothermic power and arctic spring water that runs through a 4000 year old lava field, its crisp flavor and silky texture makes for an incredibly easy drinking experience, both mixed and and on its own. Green focused and gluten free, Reyka is a wonderful alternative to to higher and similarly prices vodkas such as Grey Goose and Tito's. My new go to spirit! ~Matt

Reyka Vodka 1.75L 80proof

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$29.99 $36.00


Beverage Tasting Institute 93 "Clear with a platinum cast. Nuanced aromas of anise cookie, tarragon, and pink peppercorn with a silky, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and citrus

Those seeking a great value, look no further. This 100% Syrah from the Northern Rhône valley exibits the smoky and meatiness of the varietal as well as a generous amount of mashed raspberries and cherry stem on the palate. Perfect for spring barbecues and serving with smoked meat. Drink now. ~Jake

Domaine Laurent Habrard Crozes Hermitage 2016

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$19.95 $25.51

55eFranceFrance » Crozes Hermitage

Vibrant purple in the glass. Great concentration, Swirls like oil. Very aromatic nose to start, with blackberries mint and pepper wafting up. The palate is

Touch of sweetness to balance out the stern acidity. Good weight at this price point. Flavors are a little muddled, but this bottle is delicious for 8 bucks. ~Dan

Urban 'Nik Weis Selection' Riesling 2018

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$8.95 $10.67

60bGermanyGermany » Mosel

Nik Weis, owner and winemaker of Germany’s renowned St. Urbans-Hof Weingut has sourced the best quality wines from neighboring vineyards to produce URBAN RIESLING, a

Great no-nonsense bottle. Crisp citrus and grassy notes when ice cold. Opens up to tropical and peachy tones when warmed up. Taking this to the clam bake. ~Dan

Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc 2019

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$8.45 $10.67

9bChileChile » Casablanca Valley

Very bright pale greenish yellow color. Honeydew, lime and lychee-scented nose that also reveals hints of wild asparagus and fresh lemon verbena. On the palate,

Put down the chocolate bunnies, skip the jelly beans and include something they will remember for years to come. Sweet, rich and full bodied this opens big and powerful with dates and raisins right on the forefront. Lingering hints of molasses and burnt brown sugar intertwine with notes of fig perfectly. This beautiful antique tawny is sure to satisfy everyone's sweet tooth this Sunday! ~Allison

Yalumba Museum Antique Tawny NV 375ml

$17.95 $23.47

36cAustraliaAustralia » Barossa Valley

PLEASE NOTE:  this is a 375mL (wine) which is smaller than a regular 750mL bottle.

Wine Advocate 92 "The Non-Vintage Museum Reserve Antique Tawny is medium amber-colored with aromas of ginger, figs and dates. Intense, ripe, and very sweet, it will

Using slightly over ripened Monastrell grapes and crafted without using any additives, added alcohols, or added sugars Casa de la Ermita Winery doesn't skip a beat with this one! The bottle opens with intense aromas of red fruit and herbs. Medium bodied but still bold and jammy with hints of licorice. Sweet yet balanced, elegant and structured. You sure are in for a treat with this one! ~Allison

Ermita Dulce Monastrell 2014 500ml

$14.95 $18.08

18cSpainSpain » Jumilla

PLEASE NOTE:  this is a 500mL which is smaller than a regular 750mL bottle.

" Casa de la Ermita Dulce Monastrell from the Casa de la Ermita winery is a Spanish dessert red wine that has been crafted without

Bright and lively aromatics of minerals, citrus and petrol. This wine is medium body with evolving stone fruit notes of mango, apricot and juicy peaches that give way to an elegant sweetness of aged honey and soft ripe pear. Pick up two bottles of this one, as I think we're just starting to see this wines aging potential! ~Allison

Ratzenberger 'Bacharacher' Riesling Spatlese 2004

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$25.95 $33.61

60eGermanyGermany » Mittelrhein

Produced at high elevation, using over 70 year old vines, this sturdy, vibrant rioja offers complexity and structure rare at this price point. A blend of garnacha, tempranillo, and graciano, cherry, plum and vanilla notes marry well to a strong oak overtone, owing to the 6 years spent in French and American casks. Almost drinks like a Southern Rhone. A Perfect compliment for savory meats and cheeses. ~Matt

La Antigua Classico Rioja Reserva 2010

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$17.95 $22.93

12cSpainSpain » Rioja

A classic style Rioja produced from highest elevation vineyards located in the Sierra de la Demanda in the Rioja appellation. Ancient vines of Garnacha planted

Opening with complex aromas of fresh fruit, brown sugar and nuts this is exactly what my sweet tooth was after! Full bodied with lingering notes of vanilla and toffee. Sweet, but not overwhelming - ending with well finished spice. This surely became an instant end of summer/fall favorite! ~Allison

Sandeman 10yr Tawny Port

$28.95 $38.40

36bPortugalPortugal » Oporto

Wine and Spirits 90 "The color falls at the intersection of tawny and ruby, pointing to the freshness that's apparent in the taste of the

Ripe pineapple and orange zest on the nose pulls you in. Candied peaches, and mango's are front and center with fresh honey giving it its subtle sweetness. Elegant and refreshing, this would be a fantastic addition to any Easter basket! ~Allison

J. Ordonez 'Victoria #2' Moscatel 2016 375ml

$19.95 $25.60

18cSpainSpain » Malaga

PLEASE NOTE:  this is a 375mL (wine) which is smaller than a regular 750mL bottle.

Jeb Dunnuck 95 "More exotic, with an incredible flowery, exotic, peachy, lychee, and orange blossom scented profile, the 2016 Victoria #2 is incredible on the palate

If you’re looking for the prefect bottle to match up with your Turkey Day festivities, then look no further! Sporting a lush bouquet of raspberries and pomegranate with a pinch of fresh herbs, the Cousins project provides ripe acidity and elegant structure that will play well with everything the holiday has to offer. Juicy fruit flavors will dance tirelessly around your cornbread and potatoes, while serving as a booster-shot and supporting act for your turkey dinner. Don’t forget to pick one up for the leftovers, too! ~Michael

Pacalet-Lapierre Cuvee Cousins Julienas 2017

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$22.95 $29.39

64cFranceFrance » Julienas

This wine is grown on the Cte de Bessay, a single parcel of 6 acres north and above of the Village of Julienas at the

If you’re looking for go-to canned wine, this is it. Great green apple and grassy flavors with a surprisingly lengthy finish. Very enjoyable and highly recommended. Saratoga opens soon and you should make sure you have some of these in your cooler for the races. ~Michael

Dark Horse Winery Pinot Grigio 375ml Cans

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$3.99 $5.33

72cUnited StatesCalifornia

PLEASE NOTE:  this is a 375mL (can) which is smaller than a regular 750mL bottle.

"Winemaker, Beth Liston, has selected her favorite California grapes, and artfully blended them to create a refreshingly light quencher that everybody wants to chill with.

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