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12 Picks Summer   

Red Wines:

2018 Amazon Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
This terrific Cab struggles a bit with its own youthful brightness and appreciates airing or service from a decanter. In the nose, blackberry, violet, cherry cobbler, hazelnut tart, vanilla and sweet tobacco scents rise above and firm core of red cherry and red currant. It similarly shows the vibrant zest of its youth on the palate, yet the flavors are a bit more expressive and linger, with red cherry, violet and blueberry in the lead. The polished tannins provide more structure than grip, so current drinking is a pleasant experience, especially with fatty meats or sauced entrees. It should grow ever more appealing over the next several years. 125 cases produced. $33.95


2017 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Rassi Vineyard Sonoma Valley
This Cabernet is as attractive for its focused richness as for its satisfying texture and length. The nose opens with a forthright  layering of blueberry, blackberry, dark boysenberry preserve, black current and black fig fruit, all in seamless harmony with nearly-as-rich scents of clove, star anise, coffee bean, dark toffee, baking-spice and graphite. In the mouth, those ripe flavors betray no hint of alcoholic heat, while their creamy ripeness is counter-pointed by slightly piquant zest and firming, polished tannins. Food-balanced and lingering, the wine gives true pleasure from the moment the cork is pulled. 3780 cases produced. $29.95


2017 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir Mendocino
Truly complex and ever more seductive as it airs, this Pinot Noir is a remarkable bargain. The aromas are a lovely medley of baked cherry, dried red raspberry and plum galette, all seamlessly married to scents of hazelnut toffee, baking-spice, cardamom, sandalwood and forest mushroom. It is wonderfully supple and never less than forthcoming on the palate, where air steadily amplifies the long-lingering flavors of red plum, red cherry, red berry fruit and sweet-savory spice. Truly more than the sum of i’s parts, it is delicious and terrifically dinner-friendly. 135 cases produced. $33.95


2015 Wild Hog Sangiovese Dunnigan Hills Vineyard Yolo County
If plumper and less tart than the Chianti it so resembles in aroma and flavor, this dinner-balanced bottling is also surprisingly complex for a wine of its cost. Those aromas and flavors are a forthcoming melange of dried black cherry, dark cherry cobbler, roasted beet, dark-roast coffee, licorice root, cardamon and forest-floor spice. It is medium-bodied, focused and lingering on the palate, with fine zest and a touch of both sweet red cherry and mint at the end. It will serve nicely with a generous variety of cuisines, especially those traditionally linked with its Italian counterparts, and is ready to enjoy 150 cases produced. $20.95


2016 Gardienne Zinfandel “Ghost Clones” Coffaro Vineyard Dry Creek Valley
Forthcoming and layered with focused ripe fruit and spice, this is a tasty Zin from the first sip. The nose offers scents of Italian Maraschino cherry, wild cherry, grenadine, red boysenberry tart, pink peppercorn, red rose and violet: of almost syrupy ripeness. All of these elements are well-delineated on the palate, with flavors of cinnamon “red hots”, Mr. Lincoln rose and cracked black pepper dominating at opening. The wine is medium-bodied and dinner-balanced however, so the vivid red fruit notes that carry the weight in the lingering finish never stray into the overripe category. It should be a perfect match to crusted pork roasts, spicy ribs, burgers, and tomato sauced dishes of all kinds. 225 cases made. $27.95


2016 Skinner Syrah El Dorado County
Firm and focused, the aromas of this sleek Syrah are centered on red raspberry, red boysenberry, Santa Rosa plum, Schezuan peppercorn and iron ore-like mineral scents. Sour red cherry, raspberry, whortleberry, teaberry, iron, chalk and white and pink peppercorn flavors glide on a lean framework on the palate and through a lingering, food-balanced finish. Perfect for service with fatty pork dishes, it will grow gradually richer and more supple over the next few years. 293 cases produced. $23.95

 

White Wines:
2017 Noria Chardonnay Green Acres Hill Sonoma Coast
Creamy and buttery-toasty, yet joined with rich fruit in a fine harmony, the nose of this delicious Chardonnay offers baked apple, dried peach, golden fig and preserved lemon fruit notes, wed to rich counterpoints of brioche, vanilla wafer and baking-spice. It proves as full in fruit and offers tongue-coating richness in the mouth, where hazelnut meringue and brioche notes support richer baked apple, dried fruit and preserved lemon flavors. These flavors linger with dinner-worthy elegance and the wine is ready to enjoy. 400 cases produced. $29.95


2016 Scar of the Sea Chardonnay “Old Vines, 1973 Planting” Santa Barbara County
Ripe, creamy, complex and distinctive, the nose of this notably underpriced beauty delivers a perfume of dried golden mulberry, golden fig, baked apple, white peach tart, honey-drenched pistachio, nutmeg and vanilla wafer scents in near ideal harmony. All those elements are reprised on the palate, yet they gain in vitality and food-worthiness as the more piquant fruit notes take center-stage. Holding its razor-edged balance between zesty refreshment and creamy richness through a lingering finish, this delicious wine will be a great companion to richly sauced fish or fowl and to many another culinary treat. 700 cases made. $31.95


2017 Green & Red Sauvignon Blanc Catacula Vineyard Chiles Valley  Napa
Bright, spicy, forthcoming and altogether charming, the nose of this lovely bottling is a bright melange of golden fig, green apple skin, lemon curd, honeydew melon, lime oil, honeysuckle and white pepper scents. It is as complex and vibrant on the palate, where grapefruit zest, honeydew melon, gooseberry, apple skin, white rose, honeysuckle and a trace of white pepper find a lingering, near-perfect harmony. It is ideally food-balanced and absolutely at its peak. 310 cases produced. $24.95


2018 Phillips Hill Gewurztraminer Foothill Vineyard Alexander Valley
This delicious sipper is an equally fine luncheon wine, as ideal a match for Crab Louie as for cold chicken with potato salad. The nose is a bright and engaging mix of baked apple, peach pit, lychee, pink grapefruit, honeysuckle and jasmine scents. It offers a supple texture and delightful freshness on the palate, where fresh applesauce, lychee, pink grapefruit and jasmine flavors linger nicely. 230 cases produced. $22.95


2019 Longoria Pinot Grigio Clover Creek Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley
Focused and surprisingly full, the nose of this focused bottling rolls-out scents of fresh green apple, apple skin, peach pit, dried peach, fresh pear, chamomile and honeysuckle over a subtle background of flinty minerality. Piquant fruit acidity counterbalances the richness in the mouth, where apple skin, dried peach, pear, honeysuckle, coriander seed, honey and mineral flavors find a layered, food-balanced, lingering harmony. Quite dry and anything but the “sweet & simple” mass-market “gulper” often associated with this grape, this beauty will stand up to fancy meals. It is ready to enjoy. 183 cases produced. $26.95


2018 Stephen Ross Albarino Spanish Springs Vineyard San Luis Obispo County
Bright, refreshing and varietally on-target, this tasty wine offers aromas and mid-palate flavors centered on fresh pear, green apple, white rose, honeysuckle and a bit of dried mango: the whole firmed and made more firmly dry by oyster shell-like minerality. On the palate, the wine is forthcoming in refreshment and nicely focused, while the precision of its lingering finish elevates the pear, peach, jasmine and oyster-shell flavors of this otherwise “easygoing gulper” into much greater food-worthiness. It is built for service with summer meals. 150 cases produced. $24.95

 

 

 

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