Idella Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

NAPA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $95
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

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $65
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

Idella Pinot Noir Mendocino Ridge Vineyard 2012

MENDOCINO RIDGE | CALIFORNIA | $55

Lush strawberry fruit with ripe red cherry, watermelon and rhubarb, plus notes of wet clay, leather, cacao and grapefruit pith, notably on the finish, with just a hint of allspice. A sublime balance of well-integrated fruit and savory flavors — complex, yet easily approachable. Beautifully translucent in the glass, medium-light on the palate, silky texture with a bare whisper of grain. She’s gentle, quiet, soft-spoken, wicked smart — doubt her not; in the dimmest of light, she knows where your eyes are looking. A very good wine. Wine provided by Idella Wines. (Reviewed 11/1/14)

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

Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir Elsbree Vineyard 2010

RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $56

Raspberries and strawberries, rhubarb, cardamom, camphor. Aah. Forrest floor, cola and citrus zest. Aah. Fruit, savory, earth and sour. Aah, indeed. An incredible wine that is a story in a glass. A wandering tale with convenient roadside rest stops. Beautiful fresh fruit up front, backed by an organic-savory structure, and finishing with a pleasant perk of acidity that sings on the palate seemingly forever. Time in the glass or a gentle decant will reward. There are books, there are novels, there are epic tales — we have the later. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 10/25/14)

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

Chock Rock Pinot Noir Chock Rock Vineyard 2011

MONTEREY COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $32

Red plum, strawberry and cherry with rhubarb, cardamom, leather, tobacco and orange peel. A medium-bodied Pinot with well-integrated, complex flavors stimulate the palate and the mind. Finishes long with a pleasant acidic perk of sour cherry. There’s a freshness here, with a seeming lack of heavy-handed manipulation that can yield an overwrought wine. Instead, a beautiful hand-hewn quality prevails. The expressiveness of a lone, breathy saxophone prevails over the sterile polyphony of layers of synthesizer upon synthesizer. A very good wine. (Reviewed 9/10/14)

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

Roar Pinot Noir 2012

SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS | CALIFORNIA | $40

Deep cherry fruit with plum, dried strawberry and blackberry, and earthy flavors of leather, redwood and cola, plus hints of violets and orange pith. Evolves nicely on the palate from subdued dark fruit, to savory umami flavors, to aromatic floral and dried-fruit notes. Complex, well structured, massaging chamois-smooth texture. A blockbuster wine, superior to many in the royalty box. She sits quietly at the table — dark, brooding, observing — reluctant at first, but soon to open — terse, then loquacious — and then there it is, a smile. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 10/25/14)

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

Tablas Creek Mourvèdre 2010

PASO ROBLES | CALIFORNIA | $40
Blackberry, purple plum and Mission fig fruit with savory notes of bay, chalky minerals and sage, plus grapefruit and raisin on the finish. Meaty, perhaps a little gamey, with well-integrated, complex flavors that delight the palate. Full bodied, but not over the top: a big-shouldered wine with little pretense and no attitude. You get what you get, and that’s plenty. I asked what wine she desired, she replied, “I want no more white. I want Mourvèdre.” A very good wine. (Reviewed 10/2/14)

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

Tensely Syrah Colson Canyon Vineyard 2009

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $38
Extracted blackberry and pomegranate fruit with elements of licorice, moist earth, cedar and lavender. Full bodied and jammy (15% alcohol, no less). A big, brooding, fruit-forward wine with massive flavors, a satin texture and a tannin-dry finish. Like a storm on the horizon, purple-black clouds, damp organic soil in the air and a wisp of Spring flowers to come. A very good wine. (Reviewed 9/21/14).

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

Cargasacchi Pinot Noir Cargasacchi-Jalama Vineyard 2011

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $36
Red cherry and roasted plum fruit showing notes of leather, violets, cacao, sage, black cardamom and a hint of orange peel. A vigorous wine brimmed with flavor, medium bodied, full for a Pinot, nicely complex and superb fruit-savory integration. Super satisfying and thoughtful — altogether enjoyable. He’s a complex, soft-spoken gent who gets things done — he tells it like it is, and the results, they speak for themselves. A very good wine. (Reviewed 9/13/14)

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

Tolosa Pinot Noir Estate 2012

EDNA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $32
Cherry, strawberry and cranberry with accents of rhubarb, cola, oak and soil. Complex, well integrated with thoughtful interplay. An entirely enjoyable wine: light-medium bodied, full flavors, forward fruit, solid structure, velvet texture. “Good natured, by and large,” as he puts it, and that has made Mr. Hanks the most likable in Hollywood — who can disagree? A very good wine. (Reviewed 9/13/14)

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