Au Bon Climat Pinot Gris-Pinot Blanc 2012

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $18
Crisp d’Anjou pear with hints of kiwi and pineapple, plus lemongrass, bright stone minerals, floral notes and oak. Fairly light bodied with some viscosity. Finishes clean with a pleasant biter kiss. A freckle-faced lass, fresh as spring, whip smart, full of goodness. 75% Pinot Gris, 25% Pinot Blanc. A very good wine. (reviewed 10/5/13)

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Filed under $20 and less, California, Uncategorized

Longoria Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard 2010

SANTA RITA HILLS | CALIFORNIA | $48
Beautiful organic undertones bring amazing depth to mature loganberry and black cherry fruit. Flavors of black currant redwood, soil and orange peel add fullness and complexity. Medium bodied with amazing integration, present tannins, a perk of acidity and a lingering finish. Fe Ciega means blind faith, but I’d say what we have here is more Derek and the Dominos — Layla, with the Eric Clapton and Duane Allman guitar interplay. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 10/5/13)

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

Castello Branfi ‘Belnero’ 2010

TUSCANY | ITALY | $28
Black cherry and blueberry — beautifully fruit forward — with deep floral notes, organic soil, cigar box, orange zest and a hint of Pernod. Medium bodied, shimmering silky texture and an enjoyable tannic finish that beckons for an additional taste of the evening meal, or perhaps just another sip. Drinkable indeed, one simply can’t help oneself. She’s the one at the dance the boys can’t help but ogle. Sangiovese with “small amounts” of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A very good wine. Wine provided by Wine Chateau. (Reviewed 1/30/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, Italian Varietals, Italy

Bodegas Ordonez ‘Zerran’ 2011

MONSANT | SPAIN | $17
Forward cherry and pomegranate fruit with accents of sassafras, sage and citrus peel. Full-bodied, with extracted flavors. Focused, flavorful and adaptable. Dry finish with a pleasant acidic perk. Here’s a charmer: Utterly enjoyable, simple with a purpose, exits suddenly, leaves only fond memories. A guest you’ll ask to return. 50% Garnacha, 40% Mazuelo, 10% Syrah. A good wine. (Reviewed 9/5/13)

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Filed under $20 and less, Spain, Spanish Varietals, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre

Foxen Pinot Noir La Encantada Vineyard 2009

SANTA RITA HILLS | CALIFORNIA | $56
Deep, ripe black cherry, plum, blackberry and earth greet the nose and echo with full flavors on the palate. Notes of cedar, licorice, epazote, orange zest and graphite offer extraordinary complexity. Medium bodied, velvet smooth, exceptionally well integrated and a lingering finish. A beautiful integration of fruit and soil. Plenty of movement in this work — delicate, precise, full; counterpoint and harmony — if you will, a Brandenburg Concerto. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 9/5/13)

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

Brancaia ‘Ilatraia’ Rosso 2010

TUSCANY | ITALY | $48
Rich blackberry and red currant with sage and bay herbal notes, licorice, cedar, organic soil, iron minerals and a hint of smoke. Slightly gamey with deep fruit flavors and an extraordinary lingering finish. Decant or give this some time in the glass to open up, and you’ll be rewarded with a complex, thoughtful and well-integrated wine. This charmer conveys a sence of the old world in every nuance, instilling confidence and trust, and yet he is youthful, in the present, unmistakenly contemporary — if you will, a hipster, indeed. A Super Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. A very good wine. Wine provided by Wine Chateau. (Reviewed 1/5/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, Cabernet Sauvignon, Italy

Foxen Pinot Noir Julia’s Vineyard 2008

SANTA MARIA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $56
Quite earthy and complex, showing boysenberry and plum fruit with notes of soil, allspice, bay, cedar and barnyard. Medium bodied, softly textured and superbly integrated. This wine has that “something else,” more than simply fruit and savory, it’s a wonderful combination of both. It’s when Lois Lane knows in her heart that Superman is Clark Kent. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 2/17/13)

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

Ken Brown Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard 2007

SANTA RITA HILLS | CALIFORNIA | $60
Mature raspberry, blackberry and cherry fruit filled with earthy flavors of cedar, leather, allspice and loamy soil, plus notes of rhubarb and graphite, and a hint of grapefruit zest. Medium bodied, complex, balanced and exceptionally well integrated. Enjoyable chamois-like texture: smooth, supple, showing a soft grain. This beauty has blossomed with age. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 8/31/13)

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

W.H. Smith Pinot Noir 2010

SONOMA COAST | CALIFORNIA | $27
Subtle cherry, strawberry and rhubarb showing savory flavors of orange peel, dusty earth, wood and tar. Quite complex, light-medium bodied, beautifully textured. An extraordinary under-$30 Sonoma Coast Pinot. A giant killer. A very good wine. (Reviewed 8/31/13)

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

Ravenswood Zinfandel ‘Old Vine’ 2010

LODI | CALIFORNIA | $20
Forward blackberry fruit, full bodied, with accents of roasted plum and cassis, and hints of allspice, almond and bay. It’s all about the fruit, this one is, and it’s there and good, yet also restrained. So, while jammy, it’s a thin spread rather than a heaping spoonful. Focused and enjoyable: A good wine, and a great value. (Reviewed 11/19/13)

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Filed under $20 and less, California, Zinfandel