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12 Picks Summer 2023   

2019 Cultivar Cabernet Franc Oak Knoll, Napa Valley

San Francisco Wine Panel Score 92+ Points
This fine Cab Franc is both youthful and attractively juicy. It shows fine varietal character in its aromas of sour dark cherry, Italian Maraschino cherry, cherry pit, cinnamon “red hots”, rose, baking spice, cedar and emerging suggestion of ripe blueberry. It is Cabernet-like in body and gives the impression of gutsiness. It has fine tannic grip and long-lingering flavors of cherry pit, Italian Maraschino cherry, blueberry, rose, sandalwood, canela and baking spice, with undercurrents of star anise and dark minerality. A fine dinner wine now, it should grow more so over the next eighteen months or so. 190 cases made.

2021 Gail Cabernet Sauvignon “Doris” Sonoma Valley

San Francisco Wine Panel Score 91+ Points
Bright, fruit forward, focused yet elegantly balanced, the nose of this Cabernet is a medley of boysenberry, dark plum, black raspberry, dark rose, cedar, clove and mineral scents. On the palate, forthright  flavors dominate the wine’s genteel tannins and youthful zest while a push of red and blue fruit and oaky spice notes rolls through a lingering, food-balanced finish. If already a fine dinner wine it is a pleasure to enjoy on its own and should need little cellar-time. 1270 cases made.

2021 Gardienne des Vignes Zinfandel Collins Vineyard Russian River Valley

San Francisco Wine Panel Score 92+ Points
Gardienne, made only in alternate vintages, is once again a success in 2021. The aromas are a quietly zesty medley of black raspberry, sour dark cherry, red plum, pomegranate, canela, pink peppercorn and licorice root scents above an undercurrent of dark forest earth. Zest and minerality brace these same flavors on the palate, where the wines dinner balance becomes clear and lingering flavors of raspberry, pomegranate, dark cherry, pink and black peppercorn and licorice root take on a streamlined character. As in the past, it is built for service with ribs, tomato sauced entrees and all the traditional Zin dinner counterpoints. 140 cases produced.

2020 Lindquist Syrah Central Coast

San Francisco Wine Panel Score 91+ Points
Bob Lindquist has made Central Coast Syrahs since 1982 and this is one of his best. The bright, spicy nose centers on fresh red raspberry, boysenberry and sour red cherry, counter-pointed by pink and black peppercorn, with background suggestions of bouillon and forest earth. It is supple in texture yet full flavored, delightfully fresh and attractively spicy on the palate where all of the promised flavors and its other virtues continue through a long, food-worthy finish. It is blended with 11% Mourvedre, 7% Grenache, 5% Tempranillo & 2% Graziano Certified Organic. 1000 cases produced.

2019 Enkidu “Humbaba” Red Rhone Grape Blend Sonoma-Lake

San Francisco Wine Panel Score 93 Points
Spicy, zesty, juicy and generous, the nose of this forthcoming Rhone-style blend melds focused aromas of blackberry, pomegranate syrup, blueberry, dark plum galette, black peppercorn, bouillon, dark pipe tobacco and damp forest earth into a balanced medley. It proves ripe and gutsy on the palate and reveals gently gripping tannins beneath sweet-natured fruit that mirrors the nose. Dinner worthy and lingering, the flavors turn supple as the wine airs. The lasting memory is of rich blue fruit, violet pastilles and black peppercorn. A blend of 45% Syrah, 45% Petite Sirah, 8% Grenache and 2% Mourvedre. 250 cases produced.

2020 MCV Proprietary Red Wine Paso Robles

San Francisco Wine Panel Score 91+ Points
Darkly rich, spicy and attractively juicy, the nose of this wine overlays scents of black pepper, dried rosemary, bay leaf, bouillon and forest floor notes with richer layers of mulberry, blackberry and strawberry preserves. Juicy dark fruits, pepper and herbal spice are the centerpieces on the palate as well, where the texture is both plump and gripping and the flavors linger to create a gutsy foil for grilled meats and the like. It is a fine dinner wine already, yet will certainly mellow nicely over the next two years. A blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah, Grenache, Tannat, Vaccaresse, Mourvedre, Malbec & Petite Verdot. 710 cases produced.

2018 Cru Chardonnay Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley

San Francisco Wine Panel Score 91+ Points
This Chardonnay has nicely evolved and its aromas of white peach tart, baked green apple, golden mulberry, lemon cream pie and hazelnut nougat seem to gently melt into harmony. It is rounded and supple on the palate where a note of lemon zest adds brightness to flavors of tarte tatin, white peach, honey-drenched hazelnuts and toasted meringue. This finish is long and richly satisfying and as easy-going and sippable as it is, it will be even better with richly sauced fish or fowl. From a vineyard established in 1971. 297 cases produced.

2022 Haarmeyer Chenin Blanc “St Rey” Sutter Ranch Vineyard  Claksburg

San Francisco Wine Panel Score 93+ Points
Distinctive and sharp in focus this wine is also impressively varietal. The nose offers scents of fresh green apple and pear skins, baked apple, honey, lime chutney, dried mango and flinty minerality along with a background hint of toasted marshmallow. There are notes of salinity, lime peel chutney and green herbs on the palate, while the wines central core of pear-apple and honey is piquantly fresh and beautifully lingering. It is a captivating food companion and is ready to enjoy. 1000 cases produced.

2021 Desire Wines Riesling Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley

San Francisco Wine Panel Score 92+ Points
This is a graceful, focused Riesling with penetrating fruit scents. Those aromas are a gorgeous mix of fresh peach and pear, sweet apple, yellow rose, orange blossom and honeysuckle poised above a slate-like mineral undertone. It is immediately attractive on the palate, where all the promised flavors are vibrantly present and in sweet-natured harmony. The finish is just a hint off-dry yet the wine has sensational balancing zest that essentially hides it. Everything lingers impressively, with peach, apple, pear, mango, passion fruit and floral  elements as memorable highlights. From vines planted in 1976. 100 cases produced.

2021 Verdad Albarino Slide Hill Vineyard Edna Valley

San Francisco Wine Panel Score 91+ Points
Bittersweet notes of lemon peel and apricot pit join preserved lime and white pepper notes to rise above a mineral background and bring raciness to the nose of this bottling. As expected, the wine is piquant and mineral-dry on the palate, where lemon zest and fresh lime contrast white pepper and chalky mineral notes to create a sharp-edged balance that lingers in a cuttingly food-worthy style. It will be terrific with shellfish and a wide variety of Tapas. Certified Biodynamic and Organic. 400 cases produced.

2021 Klinker Brick Grenache Blanc Under the Sea Vineyard Lodi

San Francisco Wine Panel Score 91+ Points
Vibrant and forthcoming, the aromas of this wine are a pretty mix of greengage plum, fresh lime and Meyer lemon scents underscored by a hint of white pepper and a subtle mineral undercurrent. That minerality is more prominent on the palate where it teams with greengage, lychee, fresh apricot and citric notes to create a lovely balance for dinner service. The flavors linger attractively and this refreshing white is not only ready to enjoy, but should prove an especially versatile dinner wine. 1200 cases produced.

2022 Ehlers Estate Rosé “Sylvianne” St Helena Napa Valley

San Francisco Wine Panel Score 92+ Points
Bordeaux grape based Rosés are rarely successful in California, but this one is a triumph. The aromas are a lovely, zesty mélange of white cherry, watermelon, grenadine, pink rose and white pepper scents above a chalky undercurrent. On the palate it is full flavored yet lean in texture, as a bit of tannic grip and some mineral underpinnings brace richer notes of watermelon, white cherry, grenadine and red raspberry. These flavors linger beautifully and seem to grow in depth as the wine airs. It is a tasty sipper now, yet it’s built for food-service which will be even more obvious in another year or so. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Merlot. 540 cases made.