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

Longoria Chardonnay 2011

SANTA RITA HILLS | CALIFORNIA | $30
Guava, pear and green apple with a hint of grapefruit and notes of jasmine, stony minerals, green tea and a bare hint of oak. Nicely crisp with a natural fruit acidity making a refreshing drink to cool the summer afternoon or pair with a cream-sauced or light-protein meal. She enjoys a cruller and coffee, her reflection caught in the shop window as she gazes at jewelery she hopes someone will at one time gift her. A very good-plus wine, near excellent. (Reviewed 6/7/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Chardonnay

Villa Creek Mourvèdre ‘Damas Noir’ 2007

PASO ROBLES | CALIFORNIA | $40
Black fruit times three: black cherry, black currant and blackberry, plus notes of licorice, cacao, chalk and hints of chai spice. Concentrated fruit, well-balanced (its 15.2% alcohol undetectable) and complex. A big wine, indeed, with wonderfully gamey flavors of wild fruit and earth tamed by barrel and bottle to subtlety. As Jeeves to Wooster. 100% Mourvèdre from Denner Vineyard. A very good wine. (Reviewed 5/24/14)

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

Baileyana Pinot Noir ‘Firepeak’ 2012

EDNA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $30
Mature cherries with strawberries and rhubarb, notes of organic soil, cedar, exotic spices and dried porcini with hints of cherry candy orange zest. A medium-bodied wine (the vintner says “big Pinot,” I just don’t get that), well integrated and satisfyingly complex. Forward fruit, nicely acidic with savory organic flavors providing structure and balance. Her siblings garner attention with skilled repartee, but she prefers observation and contemplation and fewer words; our loss if we overlook her. A very good wine and solid value — it can be had for nearly $20 at the right seller. (Reviewed 5/24/14)

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

Girard Sauvignon Blanc 2013

NAPA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $18
Flavors of grapefruit and lemongrass dominate with accents of pear, green apple and wet stones. Light, crisp and focused, a quenching wine delivers on its promise yet readily yields the spotlight to the conversation, meal or celebration. No superstar, this; rather a most successful supporting act. A good wine and great value. (Reviewed 5/24/14)

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Filed under $20 and less, California, Sauvignon Blanc

Dashe Grenache ‘Les Enfantes Terribles’ 2010

DRY CREEK VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $24
Soft fruit of red cherry and raspberry with notes of nutmeg, organic soil, asparagus and petrol. Medium bodied, textured mouthfeel, easy to drink with prominent low notes and lively acidity. A playful wine, indeed, but terrible children? Eh, not so much. A good wine. (Reviewed 4/13/14)

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

Palmina Dolcetto 2011

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $20
Pomegranate and cranberry fruit with notes of pink pepper, almonds and orange zest. Medium bodied, fruit focused with a prominent, but pleasant, acidity on the finish. A playful wine — thoroughly enjoyable and quite a lark. Indeed, a rhapsody: I see a little Dolcetto of a man; Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango? A good wine. (Reviewed 4/13/14)

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Filed under $20 and less, California, Italian Varietals

Babcock Syrah ‘Frying Pan’ 2005

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $50
Deep purple plum with blackberry and black currant superbly integrated with complex flavors of anise, porcini, cacao and mineral spirits. Robust, forward fruit, full bodied, slightly glossy and a luxurious silky texture. I know three Bings: cherry, Chandler and Crosby — this is the crooner, smooth, rich timbre and all. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 4/13/14)

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

Siduri Pinot Noir 2012

SONOMA COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $24
Forward fresh cherry fruit with mature strawberry and dark plum, and notes of watermelon rind, cardamom, old wood and cigar. Medium bodied, smooth texture and balances slightly more fruit than savory, but there’s plenty of organic components to keep this wine firmly grounded. A star off-Broadway; in the cast on the Great White Way. A very good wine. (Reviewed 4/13/14)

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