Tablas Creek ‘Cotes de Tablas’ 2010

PASO ROBLES | CALIFORNIA | $35
Purple plum and black cherry fruit up front followed by notes of licorice, violets and toasted sesame. Nicely textured with a slight tooth, medium bodied with an off-dry finish that lingers. A rich wine with restraint, altogether satisfying, full of flavor, thoughtful and still easy to approach. Not merely a book, but a transcendent novel with complexity and prose to suffice the literati yet accessibile for the everyday bibliophile — ah, Hemingway. Grenache 46%, Syrah 39%, Mourvèdre 10%, Counoise 5%. A very good wine. (Reviewed 8/3/14)

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

Williams Selyem Pinot Noir 2006

SONOMA COAST | CALIFORNIA | $46
Superbly integrated with subtle boysenberry, cherry and mature, nearly overripe strawberry, and notes of cedar, moist earth and cola. Complex fruit and savory notes neatly interweave, producing a fabric of inseparable flavors. Velvety texture gently massages the palate and natural acidity adds buoyancy. She’s mature, yet vivacious as ever, with a joie de vivre many, perhaps years younger, openly envy. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 8/3/14)

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

Baileyana Pinot Noir ‘La Entrada’ 2012

EDNA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $33
Blackberry and purple plum with complex flavors of tar, caramel, Mission fig, bay and forest floor. Medium bodied, muscular and deep — a fairly big Pinot but well balanced with nice fruit and soil integration and refreshing highlights. A real man without a need to prove it — it’s what George Clooney has all over, say Arnold Schwarzenegger. A very good wine. (Reviewed 7/27/14)

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

Foxen Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard Block UU 2008

SANTA MARIA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $32
Nectarine, guava and Meyer lemon with flavors of chervil, jasmine, oak, stone minerals and a hint of grapefruit. Viscous and lush, blanketing the palate with complex fruit, then revealing herbal, floral and mineral flavors, and finishing with a happy perk of acidity and lingering tartness. A regal one, she, bejeweled and adorned with the best of the court, graceful among all, and blessed to be full of personality and wicked smart — ever so the surprise when she delivers that bawdy repartee. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 7/27/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Chardonnay

Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 40th Anniversary 2012

NAPA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $70
Rich, ripe blueberry and purple plum with complex notes of licorice, cacao, graphite, tar and bay. A big Cab, inky, with a powerful nose and robust, meaty palate-lingering flavors, exceptional balance and integration. Classic, true to its roots, delivers as expected, always a crowd pleaser — Mick, Keith and the boys have nothing on this one. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 7/20/14)

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

Longoria Tempranillo 2010

SANTA YNEZ VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $36
Bing cherry with a hit of blackberry and notes of orange peel, caramel, redwood and smoke. Light-medium bodied, full flavored, well integrated and nice fruit-savory balance with easy tannins. Dances playfully on the palate, delivers complex flavors, and satisfies. As good as it gets for a California Tempranillo. A joy to drink, a really happy wine, and isn’t it just fun to say “Tempranillo”? An excellent wine. (Reviewed 7/20/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Spanish Varietals

Lucien Albrecht Brut Rose NV

ALSASE | FRANCE | $19
Delicate strawberry, raspberry and pear — quite light — with notes of vanilla cream, caramel and citrus peel. Beautifully salmon pink with exquisite bubbles that dance on and on. Refreshing and light, yet full of flavor. It’s that magic of one’s first taste on cotton candy; ooh what a thrill — and the magic and joy of a lighter-than-air concoction. 100% Pinot Noir. A very good wine and a great value. (reviewed 7/13/14)

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Filed under $20 and less, France, Sparkling Wine

Bishop’s Peak Pinot Noir 2012

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $20
Red plum and raspberry fruit with notes of sweet earth, coffee and verbena. Light-medium bodied — almost lean — focused and refreshing with nice, natural acidity showing through. She plays to her strengths, errs little and succeeds wildly. A good wine and at $20 a superb everyday Pinot bargain. (Reviewed 7/11/14)

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Filed under $20 and less, California, Pinot Noir

Foxen Pinot Noir Block 8 Bien Nacido Vineyard 2008

SANTA MARIA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $55
Black cherry and roasted purple plum with a hint of cranberry and notes of cardamom, graphite and orange peel underneath. A deep-flavored Pinot, full bodied yet but from saturated. Refined, well integrated and complex with some gaminess that comes through, yielding an element of daring. Suave, denonaire, and yet a devil-may-care swashbuckler — in like Flynn. A very good wine. (Reviewed 7/11/14)

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

Domaine Comte Abbatucci Cuvée Faustine 2010

AJACCIO | FRANCE | $36
Mature plum, black cherry and boysenberry with deep notes of graphite, tar, mace and a hint of cacao. Medium bodied with an interesting slightly rustic quality and present tannins providing a pleasant chew. A real charmer. Not a big-city sophisticate, mind you, but a character who rolled in from another town and got things done — with wit, guile and a little force. 70% Sciaccarellu, 30% Neillucciu. A very good wine. (Reviewed 6/7/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, France