Wine Reviews

2187121870USOne of the best Syrahs at this price point in California. It's lush in blackberries, blueberries, chocolate and sweet oak, with a creamy mouthfeel. Drink now for freshness.Ballard Canyon Estate9225CaliforniaSanta Barbara CountyCentral CoastRusack 2009 Ballard Canyon Estate Syrah (Santa Barbara County)SyrahRusack
2187221871USTamarack blends grapes from an astonishing number of sites scattered across the length and breadth of the Columbia Valley, and yet makes wines that are distinctive, polished, generous, and focused. The 2008 Merlot includes 5% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc. Its structure is firmly Cab-like, its fruit broadly displayed across the midpalate, a mix of ripe strawberries and cherries dusted with sweet baking spices and cocoa. It's a joyride from start to finish.9228WashingtonColumbia Valley (WA)Columbia ValleyPaul Gregutt@paulgwine Tamarack Cellars 2008 Merlot (Columbia Valley (WA))MerlotTamarack Cellars
2187321872USBeautiful to drink now, one of the most rewardingly plush Syrahs on the market. It's easy to like, with soft tannins and a creamy mouthfeel housing ripe, savory cherry and blueberry pie flavors. If only more Syrahs were this delicious.9235CaliforniaDry Creek ValleySonomaTerlato 2008 Syrah (Dry Creek Valley)SyrahTerlato
2187421873USThree things characterize this wine: exceptionally intense blackberry and currant flavors, thick, hard tannins and a bone dry finish. It's big and firm with a lot of promise, so do try to cellar it for at least six years, but people who like their wines young could try it sooner.9280CaliforniaNapa ValleyNapaValance 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)Cabernet SauvignonValance
2187521874USThe wine, from this old vineyard, contains a good chunk of Petite Sirah, which adds body and tannins to the Zinfandel. It's a delicious wine, wonderfully drinkable, with deep, complex blackberry, cassis, dark chocolate, licorice, raisin, black pepper and sandalwood flavors that finish long and spicy.Luvisi 1908 Vineyard9238CaliforniaCalistogaNapaVermeil 2009 Luvisi 1908 Vineyard Zinfandel (Calistoga)ZinfandelVermeil
2187621875USOne of the most satisfying Rieslings of the vintage. It's dry, crisp and exotic, with crisp flavors of citrus fruits, wildflowers and that famous diesel or lighter fluid taste that characterizes the best Rieslings. Really a superior wine that shows the brilliance of Edna Valley for unoaked white varieties, as well as the excellence of the Paragon Vineyard.Paragon Vineyard9220CaliforniaEdna ValleyCentral CoastZocker 2009 Paragon Vineyard Riesling (Edna Valley)RieslingZocker
2187721876USThis is a big, gutsy Syrah. It's strong and astringent in tannins and potent in ripe, fruity blackberries and plums, with a spicy edge of smoked bacon. The overall balance testifies to a pedigreed address and superior grapegrowing. As savory as it is, it's not really ready for drinking. Hold for up to six years.Ledbetter Family Vineyard9240CaliforniaRussian River ValleySonomaLongboard 2008 Ledbetter Family Vineyard Syrah (Russian River Valley)SyrahLongboard
2187821877FranceA wine that reveals a textured side of Meursault. It has weight, ripe apricot and pineapple fruit with a refreshing touch of acidity. But the chalky, mineral character equally defines the wine. Age for 3–4 years.Charmes Premier Cru9275BurgundyMeursaultRoger Voss@vossrogerLouis Jadot 2009 Charmes Premier Cru (Meursault)ChardonnayLouis Jadot
2187921878USViticulturalist Ann Kraemer, who farms Shake Ridge Vineyards for many other producers, keeps some of the grapes for Yorba, her label with winemaker Ken Bernards of Ancien. The result is an exceptionally good dark plum, black cherry and blackberry-tinged Syrah with pepper and meat thread throughout the deep fruit concentration of this still-tight, mountain-grown wine. Cellar another 2–5 years.Shake Ridge Vineyards9232CaliforniaAmador CountySierra FoothillsVirginie Boone@vbooneYorba 2007 Shake Ridge Vineyards Syrah (Amador County)SyrahYorba
2188021879ItalyThe largely unexplored Faro denomination in the northern point of Sicily is producing some of the island's best work. The promising Nocera grape variety is used here and vintner Salvatore Geraci is one of its biggest proponents. This blended red is finely embroidered with subtle notes of forest berry, cassis, leather and spice.9280Sicily & SardiniaFaroPalari 2008 FaroRed BlendPalari
2188121880USDeep purple, this riveting Malbec melds dark red and blue fruits to the grip and texture of ripe Yakima Valley tannins. Think clean earth lightly dusted with chocolate, and you have the finish. A powerful wine with excellent cellar potential.Timley9234WashingtonYakima ValleyColumbia ValleyPaul Gregutt@paulgwine Stevens 2009 Timley Malbec (Yakima Valley)MalbecStevens
2188221881USThe soft but flavorful entry into a land of dark fruits, smoke and espresso barely hints at the wine to come. Give it time to breathe and it opens into a wonderfully complex, smooth and creamy wine with no rough edges. Pretty red fruit, seductive and lingering, is matched to hints of chocolate from 30 months in neutral barrels.9225WashingtonColumbia Valley (WA)Columbia ValleyPaul Gregutt@paulgwine Tranche 2007 Barbera (Columbia Valley (WA))BarberaTranche
2188321882USJust what you want in a Sauvignon Blanc-based white Bordeaux-style wine. It's bone dry and mouthwateringly tart in acidity, while the citrus flavors suggest gooseberries, but don't fall into the trap of green underripeness. Sémillon constitutes 20% of the blend.White Wine9238CaliforniaNapa ValleyNapaVellum 2010 White Wine White (Napa Valley)Bordeaux-style White BlendVellum
2188421883USA first for Animale, and a terrific success, despite the almost 16% alcohol. Bursting with ripe berry flavors, this complex and flat-out delicious wine goes well beyond its highly-extracted black fruit. Wet rock, chalk and mineral extend and enhance the finish, with a chocolaty kiss at the very end.9226WashingtonRed MountainColumbia ValleyPaul Gregutt@paulgwine Animale 2009 Mourvèdre (Red Mountain)MourvèdreAnimale
2188521884USAurielle's Cabernets have been consistent over the years, offering lots of ripe, modern-style blackberry, blueberry, dark chocolate and oak flavors in a wine that's drinkable now. This '08 is quite stylish and elegant despite the power, with near-perfect tannins. You could age it, but it's really best enjoyed for flashy, youthful richness.9290CaliforniaNapa ValleyNapaAurielle 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)Cabernet SauvignonAurielle
2188621885USShows the ripe fruit of Balletto's Pinot Noirs, with bright, forward raspberries and cherries. But there's an appealing earthiness, something like wild mushrooms sautéed in olive oil. Oak adds the perfect touch of buttered toast. Drink now–2015.Winery Block9234CaliforniaRussian River ValleySonomaBalletto 2009 Winery Block Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley)Pinot NoirBalletto
2188721886USThe grapes for this Syrah come from the Ballard Canyon area, which is likely to be Santa Barbara's next official appellation. It's a big, full-bodied wine, tannic and dry, with blackberry, blueberry, smoked meat, black pepper and sandalwood flavors. Feels fine and dramatic in the mouth, and should develop bottle interest through 2015.Tierra Alta Vineyard9239CaliforniaSanta Ynez ValleyCentral CoastBlair Fox 2009 Tierra Alta Vineyard Syrah (Santa Ynez Valley)SyrahBlair Fox
2188821887USThis full-bodied, 100% Cabernet is lightly gamy, offering a sensuous potpourri of wild herbs and brambly berries. It's subtle, lovely, distinctive, smoothly rendered and unusually textural and complex. Drink it with enjoyment now, or give it a few more years in the cellar.9242WashingtonWalla Walla Valley (WA)Columbia ValleyPaul Gregutt@paulgwine Bunchgrass 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (Walla Walla Valley (WA))Cabernet SauvignonBunchgrass
2188921888PortugalA powerful expression of rich red fruit, smoothed by wood aging and nearly four years in bottle. It has layers of acidity, spice, soft tannins and flavors of maturing fruit. It is ready to drink now but worth aging as well.Foral de Evora Colheita9219AlentejoRoger Voss@vossrogerCartuxa 2007 Foral de Evora Colheita Red (Alentejo)Portuguese RedCartuxa
2189021889FranceA richly smoky wine, with all its juiciness surrounded by dark tannins. Despite a dominance of Merlot, this is still intensely structured. The wine has so much richness as well as acidity.92BordeauxPauillacRoger Voss@vossrogerChâteau Pibran 2009 PauillacBordeaux-style Red BlendChâteau Pibran
2189121890SpainEven in marginal vintages like 2008, Atauta manages to shine above the rest. This delivers a gorgeous mix of blackberry blended with complex notes of fine herbs, vanilla and chocolate. It's alert in the mouth, with strong but manageable tannins and full flavors of berry, cherry and vanilla. Short but precise on the finish; drink now through 2015.9232Northern SpainRibera del DueroMichael Schachner@wineschachDominio de Atauta 2008 Ribera del DueroTinto FinoDominio de Atauta
2189221891ItalyCometa is an irresistible white wine from the deep south of Italy. It speaks its own Sicilian language but with modern, international accents. Made from Fiano grapes, it opens with a beautiful golden color, and delivers rich aromas of stone fruit, vanilla cream and rose. The mouthfeel is exceedingly soft, creamy and long-lasting.Cometa9243Sicily & SardiniaSiciliaPlaneta 2010 Cometa Fiano (Sicilia)FianoPlaneta
2189321892PortugalA supremely ripe Port from Ramos-Pinto's vineyard in the far east of the Douro. It is finely perfumed, with layered tannins upon structured plum skins and black cherry fruit. It's in a fruity style, but the structure certainly promises aging.Quinta da Ervamoira Vintage9288PortRoger Voss@vossrogerRamos-Pinto 2009 Quinta da Ervamoira Vintage (Port)PortRamos-Pinto
2189421893USThis is the darkest, biggest, richest of Raymond's 2007 Cabernets. It's ripe and full in blackberries and currants, with a thick coating of sweet, toasty oak, but it's not really drinkable now because the tannins are so strong. Designed for the cellar, it should develop bottle complexity over the next 10–12 years.Generations9285CaliforniaNapa ValleyNapaRaymond 2007 Generations Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)Cabernet SauvignonRaymond
2189521894PortugalThis old tawny Port has developed a green-gold color and extreme concentration. With a beautiful floral perfume, the flavors are of almonds, acidity and a bite of spirit, while overall is the beautiful smooth texture.Over 40 Years Old Tawny9256PortRoger Voss@vossrogerRozes NV Over 40 Years Old Tawny (Port)PortRozes
2189621895ItalyIn reaction to Mount Etna's volcanic eruptions, local farmers have adopted a unique mix of Christianity and mysticism to protect against imminent dangers. Many vineyard sites are anointed with religious names, like Santo Spirito, as if the name were a lucky charm in itself. This delightful vineyard-designate wine is ethereal and bright, with loads of small berry intensity and a dusty, dry finish.Santo Spirito9240Sicily & SardiniaEtnaTenuta delle Terre Nere 2008 Santo Spirito (Etna)Red BlendTenuta delle Terre Nere
2189721896USCan Washington Mourvèdre really be this good? From the Far Away Vineyard (previously named for owner Art den Hoed) it sure can. Sappy and fresh, this lively wine features ripe red fruits, sharp acids and smooth tannins, with toasted walnuts and caramel streaking through the finish. It shows excellent concentration and length.Far Away Vineyard9226WashingtonYakima ValleyColumbia ValleyPaul Gregutt@paulgwine Trio Vintners 2009 Far Away Vineyard Mourvèdre (Yakima Valley)MourvèdreTrio Vintners
2189821897USHere's a rich, ripe, opulent Syrah, all jammy blackberry, cherry and currant flavors, sprinkled with black pepper and housed in a structure of firm, strong tannins. It's a blend of some of the best vineyards in the county, including Bien Nacido, Larner and Ampelos. Drink now–2015.9227CaliforniaSanta Barbara CountyCentral CoastJaffurs 2010 Syrah (Santa Barbara County)SyrahJaffurs
2189921898New ZealandThis is a pretty, lightweight wine marked by peppery accents. Those give it an almost Syrah-like quality, although the weight and texture is all Pinot. Red cherry and spice flavors finish lacy and dusty. Ready to drink now.8934MartinboroughJoe Czerwinski@JoeCzAlana Estate 2012 Pinot Noir (Martinborough)Pinot NoirAlana Estate
2190021899New ZealandThe Awatere is typically quite cool, so this wine's level of ripeness is noteworthy. It's round and supple on the midpalate, creamy and plush on the finish. Cedar and vanilla notes frame the black cherry fruit, which hints at some dried-fruit character without going over the edge into raisin. Drink now.8921Awatere ValleyJoe Czerwinski@JoeCzVavasour 2011 Pinot Noir (Awatere Valley)Pinot NoirVavasour

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