Flying Goat Pinot Noir Salsbury Vineyards 2009

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $38
Ripe black cherry and fresh strawberry fruit with rhubarb, forest floor, cola and aromatic bitters. Light-medium bodied, full flavored, nicely integrated and quite complex. Easy-but-present acidity and a delightful fruit-savory interplay makes this a supurb food-friendly wine as well as one to be enjoyed alone. Spins, leaps and bounds — this goat flies. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 8/23/14)

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

Mueller Pinot Noir ‘Tempi’ 2010

RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $48
Deep yet soft cherry fruit with notes of plum, allspice, cedar and forest floor. Medium bodied with chamois smoothness and a touch of palate-massaging grain. Well-integrated complex flavors provoke contemplation yet deliver easily accessible satisfaction for everyone. It’s a classic. A “thinker,” indeed; Auguste Rodin would be proud. A very good wine. (Reviewed 7/11/14)

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

Red Car Estate Syrah 2009

SONOMA COAST | CALIFORNIA | $60
Raspberry, young cherry and light plum fruit with notes of cola and caramel, and hint of watermelon rind. Medium bodied, lean for a Syrah — a refreshing diversion from the glossy Central Coast bottlings (not that there’s anything wrong with that) — with unexpected range at the high end and refreshing, food-friendly acidity. Well balanced, perhaps lacking depth for some, thoughtful and a joy to behold. Nimble at the wheel, road-sensitive and thrillingly responsive, not at all a mattress-on-wheels Caddy, you’ve a 911 in your hands. A very good wine. (Reviewed 7/26/14)

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

Anglim ‘Cameo’ 2010

CENTRAL COAST | CALIFORNIA | $24
Pear and white grape with notes of grapefruit, jasmine and stony minerals. Delicately flavored, slightly floral and balanced with intricate interplay between fruit, soil and acidity. Very easy drinking. But no small-roll performer, she; we have a player, albeit one less recognized. 48% Grenache Blanc, 47% Viognier, 5% Rousanne. A good wine and a real value. (Reviewed 8/10/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Vigonier | Rousanne | Marsanne

Ken Brown Pinot Noir 2011

SANTA RITA HILLS | CALIFORNIA | $42
Black cherry and purple plum with notes of blackberry, forest floor, cola, cacao and graphite. Medium bodied, lush but not racey, complex and well balanced with a silky smooth texture. The beauty is the restraint. Every sublime note adds to the whole. It’s the composer here, not the musicians, showing mastery — a symphony not an orchestra. Sourced from Rio Vista, Rita’s Crown and La Rinconada Vineyards. A very, very good, near excellent wine. (Reviewed 8/10/14)

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

Joseph Swan Pinot Noir Saralee’s Vineyard 2010

RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $39
Raspberry, cranberry and and mature strawberry fruit with rhubarb, cedar and a faint, pleasant hint of mineral spirits. Light bodied but quite cloudy — a visual putoff for some; however, not this reviewer. Finishes bright and tart, complimenting fat- and protein-rich foods. Present tannins bring structure, and there’s a nice chamois-like texture with some tooth. But it’s the fruit, and the accompanying acidity, that rule the day. Unassuming, perhaps forgettable by appearance, but oh what expression — she can sing — Susan Boyle definitely has talent. A very good wine. (Reviewed 8/10/14)

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

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