Wrath Pinot Noir 115/667 2011

MONTEREY | CALIFORNIA | $35
Earthy, mature purple plum and black cherry with hints of orange and cranberry accented by organic wood and spice notes of cedar, bay and allspice. Well integrated and well balanced, if a slight lean toward fruit, medium bodied with modest proportions, and satiny smooth. Very enjoyable. A best-laid scheme not gone awry. This Santa Lucia Highlands winery deserves more attention. A very good wine. (Reviewed 4/5/14)

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

Talbot Pinot Noir ‘Logan’ Sleepy Hollow Vineyard 2010

SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS | CALIFORNIA | $25
Mature black cherry, boysenberry and dark plum with lavender, cedar and cola notes. Medium to full bodied and slightly acidic, yielding an enjoyable fruit-tart-savory interplay: forward but not formidable fruit that transitions effortlessly to organic flavors and then to a bright finish. No sleeper here, this wine dances on and on all night long. A great value and a very good wine. (Reviewed 4/3/14)

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

Stolpman Syrah 2010

SANTA YNEZ VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $30
Purple plum and wild berries with licorice, cardamom and graphite minerals. Big bodied, forward fruit and focused. He means well and has the strength to do what others cannot, yet his capacity has limits — simple, perhaps brutish — and clumsiness eventually prevails. A good wine. (Reviewed 3/30/14)

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

A.P. Vin Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard 2010

SANTA RITA HILLS | CALIFORNIA | $52
Black cherry fruit with dried plum, bay, allspice, cocoa and orange peel. Complex and well integrated revealing a labyrinth of intricate flavors with each taste. Medium bodied — full for a Pinot — with a satin-smooth texture and lengthy finish. An abundance of riches. He earned his considerable wealth by his own hands and shares it generously, and while others might, in these same circumstances, call a measure of attention to such deeds, he feels no need to make much fuss. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 3/30/14)

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

Plumpjack Merlot 2005

NAPA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $53
A showy, voluptuous wine with soft, rounded blackberry and black-currant fruit and complex organic notes of bay, cigar box and caramel plus easy tannins. Complex and balanced with a velvety texture, this wine provides a smooth ride, start to finish. A drive to Vegas aboard a sky blue ’56 Eldorado, Cadillac that is — V8, Jetway Hydramatic, 8.20 15′s floating down the highway. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 3/22/14)

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Filed under $51 to $100, California, Merlot

Minassian Young Zinfandel ’1000 Vines’ 2009

PASO ROBLES | CALIFORNIA | $24
Concentrated blackberry, pomegranate and dried plum with notes of molasses, bittersweet chocolate, pecans and chalky minerals. Bold without overtly forward fruit, heavy — perhaps massive — but not clumsy, with a laden mouthfeel, a satin texture and lingering finish. His girth entered the room, and a moment later, in followed he. A very good wine. (Reviewed 3/22/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Zinfandel

Ken Brown Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard 2010

SANTA RITA HILLS | CALIFORNIA | $60
Cherry, purple plum and acia berry integrated with flavors of earth, tobacco, cardamom, bay and a hint of orange peel. Complex yet restrained, yielding a sublime wine of proportion and balance. Light-medium bodied with a velvety texture providing some tooth that massages the palate with every sip. It’s the “aah” of Berber carpet for your fatigued, recently unshod feet. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 3/1/14)

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

Anglim Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard 2007

SANTA RITA HILLS | CALIFORNIA | $45
Mature cherry fruit accented with pomegranate and red plum, plus notes of violets, cedar, allspice and bay, and hints of graphite and orange. Exotic and complex, light-medium bodied with a pleasant natural acidity. Expansive flavors, velvety mouthfeel and a long, lingering finish. Oh, not your everyday purveyor of fine goods, this milliner’s wares range from the respectable to that chapeau suitable for one’s inner Carmen Miranda, and her shop provides an entertaining escape and sanctum to rest a weary mind. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 2/22/14)

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

Clendenen Nebbiolo ‘The Pip’ 2007

SANTA MARIA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $25
Fresh flavors of raspberry and tart cherry with notes grapefruit, cilantro and stone minerals. Light bodied, focused with bright acidity and a pucker on the finish. It’s a bouncy wine, full of life far more vivacious than its age might suggest. Like one of those fellows that harmonizes with Gladys, this one is smooth and skilled, but the upper range alone has its limits. A good wine. (Reviewed 3/2/14)

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

Chateau Margene Pinot Noir 2006

PASO ROBLES | CALIFORNIA | $48
Soft raspberry and strawberry with savory flavors of cedar, tobacco and coriander, plus hints of rhubarb and chalk. Light-medium bodied, complex and well integrated with refreshing acidity and a lingering finish. Lots of flavorful mid-notes here to chew on, and visually stunning, too, with exceptional clarity and a gorgeous garnet color. Beauty and substance, substance and beauty — she’s the perfect girl to bring home to mom. A very good wine. (Reviewed 1/18/14)

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