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

Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 40th Anniversary 2012

NAPA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $70
Rich, ripe blueberry and purple plum with complex notes of licorice, cacao, graphite, tar and bay. A big Cab, inky, with a powerful nose and robust, meaty palate-lingering flavors, exceptional balance and integration. Classic, true to its roots, delivers as expected, always a crowd pleaser — Mick, Keith and the boys have nothing on this one. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 7/20/14)

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Filed under $51 to $100, Cabernet Sauvignon, California

Longoria Tempranillo 2010

SANTA YNEZ VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $36
Bing cherry with a hit of blackberry and notes of orange peel, caramel, redwood and smoke. Light-medium bodied, full flavored, well integrated and nice fruit-savory balance with easy tannins. Dances playfully on the palate, delivers complex flavors, and satisfies. As good as it gets for a California Tempranillo. A joy to drink, a really happy wine, and isn’t it just fun to say “Tempranillo”? An excellent wine. (Reviewed 7/20/14)

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

Lucien Albrecht Brut Rose NV

ALSASE | FRANCE | $19
Delicate strawberry, raspberry and pear — quite light — with notes of vanilla cream, caramel and citrus peel. Beautifully salmon pink with exquisite bubbles that dance on and on. Refreshing and light, yet full of flavor. It’s that magic of one’s first taste on cotton candy; ooh what a thrill — and the magic and joy of a lighter-than-air concoction. 100% Pinot Noir. A very good wine and a great value. (reviewed 7/13/14)

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Filed under $20 and less, France, Sparkling Wine

Bishop’s Peak Pinot Noir 2012

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $20
Red plum and raspberry fruit with notes of sweet earth, coffee and verbena. Light-medium bodied — almost lean — focused and refreshing with nice, natural acidity showing through. She plays to her strengths, errs little and succeeds wildly. A good wine and at $20 a superb everyday Pinot bargain. (Reviewed 7/11/14)

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Filed under $20 and less, California, Pinot Noir

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