Category Archives: $51 to $100

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

Ken Brown Pinot Noir Cargasacchi Vineyard 2009

SANTA RITA HILLS | CALIFORNIA | $65
Ripe black cherry and wild berries with sublime notes of forest floor, dried porcini, orange zest and cardamom. Medium bodied with a suede-like texture and a slight tooth, well integrated and equally fruit-soil balanced — an earthy wine providing considerable character and complexity. A thoughtful chap, good natured and warm, as quick to enlighten as to entertain, but never to overshadow. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 11/19/13)

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

L’Aventure ‘Cote a Cote’ 2007

PASO ROBLES | CALIFORNIA | $80
Cedar and violets on the nose yielding to concentrated blackberry and black currant fruit with notes of tobacco, chalk and tar. Forward fruit with plenty of savory flavors for balance. A complex and powerful wine (15.9% alcohol!) with massive flavor and character. Inky opaque to the eye, silky smooth on the palate and rewardingly lingering at the finish. He’s a grand character, robust in size and manner, nearly large enough to possess gravitational force, and impeccably tailored, too — he fills a room, and yet in dialogue, he causes others to feel they are the center of it all. 40% Grenache, 40% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 1/20/14)

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

Clendenen Pinot Noir ‘Le Bon Climat’ 2008

SANTA MARIA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $60
Beautifully translucent, agile on the palate, full of fruit and earth flavors. Deep plum, bright cherry and a hint of mango well-integrated with forest floor, dried mushroom, cedar, bay and fennel seed. Present but tame acidity, medium-light bodied with a satin texture and some tooth. Restrained, in a Burgundian style, showing nice fruit-soil balance. Gracefully executed, she’s more ballerina than gymnast. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 10/19/13)

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

Linne Calodo ‘Problem Child’ 2006

PASO ROBLES | CALIFORNIA | $60
Concentrated blackberry, roasted plum and black cherry with complimentary notes of forest floor, sage, bay, chalk and a faint wisp of camphor. Shows deep, nearly opaque purple color and long legs in the glass. Full bodied, but somehow not full on the palate, with a velvety, luxe texture and a lingering finish that shows no end. A powerful wine, yet wisely crafted and beautifully integrated showing a near-perfect fruit-savory balance — no fruit bomb, this. For those who count, and apparently this reviewer does, it’s a massive 15.7% alcohol, but still, it shows no heat. This rambunctious tot is all grown up. 77% Zinfandel, 12% Syrah, 11% Mourvedre. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 10/12/11)

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Filed under $51 to $100, California, Zinfandel

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

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

Foley Pinot Noir Rancho Santa Rosa ‘Barrel Select’ 2007

SANTA RITA HILLS | CALIFORNIA | $60
Muted ripe blackberry, purple plum and black cherry fruit with flavors of cocoa, nutmeg, clove and redwood. Full of beautiful mid-notes. Medium bodied, but toward the full end of the spectrum, with a pleasant chew in the velvet texture. Multidimensional with a nice acidity and long finish. There is much to think about. She’s gained complexity, wisdom and cool in her maturity — one might say sublime — though it’s easy to imagine in her youth, a spry, curious, playful yet predictable kitten in her place. Perhaps better in youth; then again, perhaps not. A very good wine. (Reviewed 7/11/13)

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Filed under $51 to $100, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir

Duckhorn Merlot 2009

NAPA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $52
Mature black cherry with currant and boysenberry, plus complex flavors of licorice, mocha, stone minerals, camphor and orange zest. A medium- to full-bodied wine showing a velvet-smooth texture with a little chew, a slightly laden mouthfeel and firm, present tannins. Very well integrated with excellent fruit-savory balance. In a word, sublime. A thoughtful read, a warm spring-day breeze and a comfortable lounge on the veranda — and the time to be there all day and another. A very good, near excellent wine. (Reviewed 2/9/13)

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Filed under $51 to $100, California, Merlot