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12 PICKS Spring 2022   

Red Wines

2019 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 93+ Points.

Firm and youthfully racy, the aromas of this classy Cabernet unfold with airing as a focused medley of blueberry, blackberry, black currant, Cherry Bounce, black tea leaf, dark pipe tobacco, clove, cedar and baking spice scents. it opens to display a firmly focused core of fruit that precisely mimics the nose and follows through to a lingering finish with polished tannins. Elegant balance and fruit-centric flavors make it a worthy dinner companion now, although more time in bottle will truly showcase its manifold virtues. Expect at least twenty four months of positive growth. 8400 cases produced.

2019 Lúuma Cabernet Sauvignon Oak Knoll, Napa VAlley
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 92+ Points

While delivering remarkable value for a Napa Cab this wine provides pleasure from the first sip. The aromas are a bright mix of sour red cherry, red currant, red plum, blueberry, violet, hazelnut and baking spice. It is focused and fruit-centric on the palate, where piquant cherry pit notes join bitter-sweet hazelnutnut husk flavors and a spine of polished tannin to bring a racy texture to flavors centered on red currant and cherry. The finish is sleek, lingering and balanced for food service, although it will be at it’s best with fatty meats at this stage. It should improve for at least two years and hold for an easy five more after that. 1425 cases made.

2015 Nielson Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 89+ Points

Genteel and pretty, this mature Pinot Noir offers an elegant bouquet of plum tart, strawberry-rhubarb pie, berry compote, nutmeg, coriander seed, mace and baking spice scents. It shows both fine evolution and a bit more savory depth on the palate, where accents of mace, coriander seed, tobacco leaf and a hint of cardamom support fruit flavors centered on baked red plum, strawberry and red boysenberry. A trace note of forest mushroom appears as the wine airs. Dry and softly tart, it is built for food service and fully ready to enjoy. 570 cases produced.

2017 Puccioni Zinfandel “Old Vine” Dry Creek Valley
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 91+ Points
Dinner friendly yet a terrific sipper, this Dry Creek bottling is notably underpriced considering the 117 year vine age. The nose delivers aromas of Santa Rosa plum galette, Kirsch, grenadine, pink and black peppercorn, mace, sandalwood, mulling-spice and licorice root. On the palate, cherry liqueur, plum pie, grenadine, dried cranberry, root beer bark, licorice root and mulling-spice flavors carry strongly through a generous, lingering finish. More than tasty now, it should give pleasure for many years. 150 cases produced from 117 year old vines at Puccioni Ranch.

2020 Jeff Runquist Petite Sirah Clarksburg
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 91 Points
This is an immediately appealing Petite Sirah that opens with vivid aromas of black raspberry, pomegranate, sour dark cherry, black peppercorn, clove and oolong tea. It has a sleek texture in the mouth, where the tannins are polished and unobtrusive while flavors centered on mixed black and red fruits and peppery spice come to the forefront and linger well. Notes of coriander seed, star anise and baking spice are added to the mix as the wine airs. A delicious dinner wine now, it should remain so for the next five years or so. 1800 cases produced.

2017 Big Basin “Homestead” Red Rhone Grape Blend Gabilan & Santa Cruz Mountains
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 91+ Points

On the elegant side for a California Rhone grape blend this food-friendly bottling harmonizes aromas of red raspberry, pomegranate, dark plum, black peppercorn, black tea, bouillon and crushed rock. It is sleek, dry and slightly minerally on the palate, where flavors of red raspberry, strawberry, dark plum, peppercorn, cardamom, tea and sandalwood create an elegant, lingering medley. It will be tasty with a wide variety of foods. A blend of 52% Grenache, 23% Carignane, 20% Syrah & 5% Mourvedre. 840 cases produced.


White Wines

2018 District 4 Chardonnay Napa Valley
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 92 Points

Ripe and well evolved, the nose of this distinctive wine offers aromas of golden apple, dried golden fig and yellow peach married to others of nutmeg, honey-drenched nuts and flint. It is zesty, firm and densely rich on the palate, where baked apple, fig, peach, dried golden mulberry, chamomile, honey and toasted meringue flavors are sharply counter-pointed by intense minerality. Crisp, lingering, notably food-worthy and altogether satisfying on its own, it deserves service with richly sauced fish or fowl, Coquilles St. Jacque and the like. Less than 500 cases produced.

2020 Brick Barn Viognier Santa Ynez Valley
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 92 Points

Elegantly fresh yet complex, this pretty Viognier opens with forthcoming aromas of lychee, white peach, lime zest, jasmine and honeysuckle, counter-pointed by others of white pepper and mineral salts. Lychee, lime curd, white pepper, jasmine and honeysuckle rise above a core of white peach on the palate and carry  through a supple, racy, palate-coating, lingering finish, while sea shell notes render it quite dry at the end. This is a classy and delicious dinner wine. 650 Cases produced.

2020 Whitehall Lane Semillon Rutherford,  Napa Valley
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 92+ Points

This surprisingly complex Semillon opens with sophisticated, slightly creamy aromas of golden fig, gooseberry, dried mango, guava, honeydew melon rind and a hint of lime chutney. It is supple and intriguingly textured on the palate, where notes of apple core and pomelo pith join the flavor panorama promised in the nose. The finish is deep, fully dry and lingers with a cleansing crispness. Food-worthy and delicious, it is ready to serve. 186 cases produced.


2019 J. Wilkes Pinot Blanc Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 91+ Points

J. Wilkes is one of California’s best Pinot Blanc producers and the 2019 is another hit. The aromas are vibrant, focused and forthcoming, with scents of fresh apple, dry peach, Asian pear, chamomile, preserved lemon and background hints of lavender, white pepper and flint. On the palate,  it proves silky in texture, while flavors of green apple, Korean melon and dried golden mulberry take center stage. The finish is dry, flavorful and lingers with appealing refreshment. It is ready to enjoy. 2240 cases produced.

2020 Sans Liege “Cotes du Coast” White Rhone Blend Central Coast
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 91+ Points

Aromatic and genteel, this is a delightfully engaging wine from the first sip. It offers bright, forthcoming aromas of mango, white peach, poached pear, lemon custard, jasmine and a bit of white pepper, all these counter-pointed by undercurrents of sea shell-like minerality. Although less noticeable on the palate, the same saline mineral notes team with citric zest to frame-in the pretty fruit. The flavors linger and the wine is at once food-friendly and extremely easy to drink on it’s own. It is ready to enjoy. 750 cases produced.

2021 Bedrock Rosé “Ode to Lulu” California
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 94 Points

“Lulu” is always among California’s best and most complex Rosés and the 2021 is another sterling example. In the nose, saline mineral notes underscore fruit-centric aromas of apricot pit, mango, guava, nectarine and rose petal jelly, backed by hints of passion fruit and coriander seed. It is fully dry yet seems richer on the palate, where tropical flavors and suggestions of dry fruit and sweet, savory spice are prevalent. The finish is delicious, very long, texturally creamy and as bright as could be hoped. It should improve for another twelve to 18 months. A blend of 70% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache & 10% Cinsault. 800 Cases produced


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