Category Archives: $21 to $50

Anthill Farms Pinot Noir 2012

SONOMA COAST | CALIFORNIA | $40

Bright red cherry, cranberry and raspberry with nuanced flavors of bay, wet soil, graphite, violets and orange bitters. Light bodied, delicately complex, up-front fruit, silky smooth on the palate, showing soft tannins. Finishes nicely acidic with lingering floral and citrus notes. Its refreshingly low 13.1% alcohol must not go unmentioned. A beautiful wine all around. As intricate and delightful as the burrows and shafts anticipated with one’s Uncle Milton Ant Farm, without the uphill maintenance (and the man/child-is-master-of-all-living-things creepiness). A very good wine — very, very good. (Reviewed 1/14/15)

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

Domaine Serene Pinot Noir ‘Yamhill Cuvée’ 2010

WILLAMETTE VALLEY | OREGON | $45

Cherry and strawberry fruit with cedar wood, juniper berry, rhubarb and stone minerals. Light bodied, focused and silky smooth with complex flavors and a lingering tart finish that lures one back for more. An exceedingly pleasant experience, alluring all around, from nose to quaff to finish. Lean and race-ready. Lace up the shoes, relax and maintain a steady cadence; this is no dash — indeed, it’s a marathon of enjoyment. A very good wine. (Reviewed 1/10/15)

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

Thacher ‘Vin Rouge’ 2010

PASO ROBLES | CALIFORNIA | $38

A full-bodied Syrah-Grenache blend showing concentrated plum, black cherry and boysenberry with butterscotch, chalk and baking spice. Forward glossy fruit balanced by robust savory notes. Substantive heavy-silk mouthfeel with a finish that reveals this wine’s more intricate flavors. Proof positive here that plus-size angels also may frolic en masse, as their more svelte counterparts, on a needle’s point. 71% Syrah, 29% Grenache. A very good wine. (Reviewed 1/6/15)

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

Domaine Tempier Bandol 2010

PROVENCE | FRANCE | $40

Concentrated blackberry and purple plum with deep, organic notes of cacao, French roast coffee, allspice and clove. Medium bodied with immense, broad flavors. Superbly well integrated showing complex savory characteristics. Artisan-rustic and exceptionally well crafted. In this full-color world, we have here a magnificent portrait by Irving Penn in glorious black and white — art as it should be. 75% Mourvèdre, 14% Grenache, 9% Cinsault, 2% Carignan. A very good wine. (Reviewed 1/2/15)

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

Chehalem Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyards 2010

DUNDEE HILLS | OREGON | $50

Red cherry, raspberry and dark plum fruit with flavors of damp earth, rhubarb, anise and orange peel. Light-medium bodied with nicely focused fruit accompanied by complex savory notes; sinewy with a luxe suede texture, firm tannins and a long finish. No heavyweight quaff this; we’re in a the leaner weight division — taught muscles, superb timing and a great reach — a wine not unlike Sugar Ray Leonard (a “Dundee product,” also — his trainer was trainer Angelo Dundee). A very good, near excellent wine. (Reviewed 1/2/15)

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

Iron Horse ‘Russian Cuvee’ 2009

RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $42

Golden Delicious apple, Bartlett pear and Meyer lemon with vanilla creme and blanched almonds. Bold flavors, broad on the palate with pin-prick effervescence and a so-pleasant sweet-tart finish. A beautifully balanced sparkler, apropos of a wine originally crafted for the Regan-Gorbachev Summit ending the Cold War. Ah, detent! Perhaps these times call for another bottle. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 12/31/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Sparkling Wine

Chock Rock Pinot Noir Chock Rock Vineyard 2011

MONTEREY COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $32

Red plum, strawberry and cherry with rhubarb, cardamom, leather, tobacco and orange peel. A medium-bodied Pinot with well-integrated, complex flavors stimulate the palate and the mind. Finishes long with a pleasant acidic perk of sour cherry. There’s a freshness here, with a seeming lack of heavy-handed manipulation that can yield an overwrought wine. Instead, a beautiful hand-hewn quality prevails. The expressiveness of a lone, breathy saxophone prevails over the sterile polyphony of layers of synthesizer upon synthesizer. A very good wine. (Reviewed 9/10/14)

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

Roar Pinot Noir 2012

SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS | CALIFORNIA | $40

Deep cherry fruit with plum, dried strawberry and blackberry, and earthy flavors of leather, redwood and cola, plus hints of violets and orange pith. Evolves nicely on the palate from subdued dark fruit, to savory umami flavors, to aromatic floral and dried-fruit notes. Complex, well structured, massaging chamois-smooth texture. A blockbuster wine, superior to many in the royalty box. She sits quietly at the table — dark, brooding, observing — reluctant at first, but soon to open — terse, then loquacious — and then there it is, a smile. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 10/25/14)

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

Tablas Creek Mourvèdre 2010

PASO ROBLES | CALIFORNIA | $40
Blackberry, purple plum and Mission fig fruit with savory notes of bay, chalky minerals and sage, plus grapefruit and raisin on the finish. Meaty, perhaps a little gamey, with well-integrated, complex flavors that delight the palate. Full bodied, but not over the top: a big-shouldered wine with little pretense and no attitude. You get what you get, and that’s plenty. I asked what wine she desired, she replied, “I want no more white. I want Mourvèdre.” A very good wine. (Reviewed 10/2/14)

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

Tensely Syrah Colson Canyon Vineyard 2009

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $38
Extracted blackberry and pomegranate fruit with elements of licorice, moist earth, cedar and lavender. Full bodied and jammy (15% alcohol, no less). A big, brooding, fruit-forward wine with massive flavors, a satin texture and a tannin-dry finish. Like a storm on the horizon, purple-black clouds, damp organic soil in the air and a wisp of Spring flowers to come. A very good wine. (Reviewed 9/21/14).

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