Anthill Farms Pinot Noir 2012


Bright red cherry, cranberry and raspberry with nuanced flavors of bay, wet soil, graphite, violets and orange bitters. Light bodied, delicately complex, up-front fruit, silky smooth on the palate, showing soft tannins. Finishes nicely acidic with lingering floral and citrus notes. Its refreshingly low 13.1% alcohol must not go unmentioned. A beautiful wine all around. As intricate and delightful as the burrows and shafts anticipated with one’s Uncle Milton Ant Farm, without the uphill maintenance (and the man/child-is-master-of-all-living-things creepiness). A very good wine — very, very good. (Reviewed 1/14/15)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Pinot Noir

Domaine Serene Pinot Noir ‘Yamhill Cuvée’ 2010


Cherry and strawberry fruit with cedar wood, juniper berry, rhubarb and stone minerals. Light bodied, focused and silky smooth with complex flavors and a lingering tart finish that lures one back for more. An exceedingly pleasant experience, alluring all around, from nose to quaff to finish. Lean and race-ready. Lace up the shoes, relax and maintain a steady cadence; this is no dash — indeed, it’s a marathon of enjoyment. A very good wine. (Reviewed 1/10/15)

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Filed under $21 to $50, Oregon, Pinot Noir

Thacher ‘Vin Rouge’ 2010


A full-bodied Syrah-Grenache blend showing concentrated plum, black cherry and boysenberry with butterscotch, chalk and baking spice. Forward glossy fruit balanced by robust savory notes. Substantive heavy-silk mouthfeel with a finish that reveals this wine’s more intricate flavors. Proof positive here that plus-size angels also may frolic en masse, as their more svelte counterparts, on a needle’s point. 71% Syrah, 29% Grenache. A very good wine. (Reviewed 1/6/15)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre

Domaine Tempier Bandol 2010


Concentrated blackberry and purple plum with deep, organic notes of cacao, French roast coffee, allspice and clove. Medium bodied with immense, broad flavors. Superbly well integrated showing complex savory characteristics. Artisan-rustic and exceptionally well crafted. In this full-color world, we have here a magnificent portrait by Irving Penn in glorious black and white — art as it should be. 75% Mourvèdre, 14% Grenache, 9% Cinsault, 2% Carignan. A very good wine. (Reviewed 1/2/15)

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Filed under $21 to $50, France, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre

Chehalem Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyards 2010


Red cherry, raspberry and dark plum fruit with flavors of damp earth, rhubarb, anise and orange peel. Light-medium bodied with nicely focused fruit accompanied by complex savory notes; sinewy with a luxe suede texture, firm tannins and a long finish. No heavyweight quaff this; we’re in a the leaner weight division — taught muscles, superb timing and a great reach — a wine not unlike Sugar Ray Leonard (a “Dundee product,” also — his trainer was trainer Angelo Dundee). A very good, near excellent wine. (Reviewed 1/2/15)

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Filed under $21 to $50, Oregon, Pinot Noir

Iron Horse ‘Russian Cuvee’ 2009


Golden Delicious apple, Bartlett pear and Meyer lemon with vanilla creme and blanched almonds. Bold flavors, broad on the palate with pin-prick effervescence and a so-pleasant sweet-tart finish. A beautifully balanced sparkler, apropos of a wine originally crafted for the Regan-Gorbachev Summit ending the Cold War. Ah, detent! Perhaps these times call for another bottle. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 12/31/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Sparkling Wine

Ken Brown Pinot Noir Rancho La Vina Vineyard 2010


Deep blackberry and purple plum with a touch of black cherry and savory notes of cedar, bay, coriander and orange peel. Beautifully forward fruit, yet superbly balanced; a full-flavored Pinot, bold and daring. Substantive, a touch weighted, with a satiny mouthfeel and a lingering finish. Be ready for this belle — she’ll match your witty repartee with racy barb or two that’ll have you struggling to ebb your blush. A very good wine. (Reviewed 12/28/14)

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Filed under $51 to $100, California, Pinot Noir

Thomas George Pinot Noir Lancel Creek Vineyard 2010

Deep black cherry, Mission fig and dried mulberry with earthy flavors of allspice, Ceylon cinnamon, molasses and bay. Seriously complex, slightly fruit forward and decidedly on the grander side of medium bodied — no austere wine, this. A perk of acidity adds a tenor voice; otherwise, it’s all baritone. No Three Tenors here. For a better match, check iTunes for Morphine (the band, please). A very good wine. (Reviewed 12/20/14)

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Filed under $51 to $100, California, Pinot Noir

Idella Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Full-bodied boysenberry fruit masterfully balanced with complex flavors of licorice, violets, black cardamom, cacao and tar. A big, muscular wine, inky deep ruby-red, with forward fruit, savory mid-notes and firm, chewy tannins. Grand proportions, indeed, yet presented with a satin-smooth texture and a refreshing counterpoint of delicate natural-fruit acidity. We have not merely a symphony; we have a grand symphony; we have The Choral — LVB’s Symphony No. 9. A very good wine. Wine provided by Idella Wines. (Reviewed 11/16/14)

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Filed under $51 to $100, Cabernet Sauvignon, California

Idella Syrah 2010

Easy blackberry with roasted plum and orange peel, plus notes of clove, crème de cassis, leather and forest floor. A satisfying and exceptionally balanced wine, medium-full bodied, superbly integrated, with complex flavors coaxed gently on the palate by a luxurious, soft-grain texture. I’d suggest this a Syrah for Cabernet lovers — really — absent the glossy, fruit-forward nature common in Central Coast Syrahs, this wine shows excellent fruit-savory proportions that allow organic notes to sing to the heavens. 93% Syrah, 5% Grenache, 2% Petit Sirah. An excellent wine. Wine provided by Idella Wines. (Reviewed 11/8/14)

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Filed under $51 to $100, California, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre