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Spring 2016 12-Picks

Red Wines

2013 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
This is a gutsy, juicy-rich Cabernet that is notably dinner-friendly. The nose offers focused aromas of black currant, black cherry, blackberry, toast, tobacco and sandalwood. It is medium-bodied and gently mouth-coating, with enough zest and tannic grip to give the ripe fruit a slightly racy balance. The flavors linger beautifully, gradually tailing off as a cascade of Cassis, dark cherry, blackberry, black fig, blueberry, vanilla, sandalwood and humidor-spice. Delicious now, it will grow more so over the next several years. Blended with 6% Merlot, 5% Petite Verdot & 4% Malbec.

2013 Aperture Proprietary Red Wine Alexander Valley
Full of savory depth yet fruit-driven, the nose of this Meritage fans-out as a juicy mix of dark cherry, black cherry, dried cranberry, blackberry, black currant, licorice root, Thai basil, sandalwood, coffee toffee and humidor-spice scents. It proves just as fruit-dominant on the palate, where the red and black contrasts are supported by sweet-savory notes that include black tea, balsamic spice, star anise and expresso beans, as well as every note suggested in the aromas. The finish is lingering and gutsy, and this already ultra appealing wine should improve for several more years. A blend of 60% Merlot & 40% Cabernet Franc. 336 cases produced.

2009 Palmina Nebbiolo Santa Barbera County
This clearly youthful yet notably deep Nebbiolo is rich, attractively spicy and varietally perfect in aroma, as bright scents of Michigan cherry, cherry pit liqueur, Umeboshi plum, Panetone fruits, star anise, mace, sandalwood, vanilla toffee, tamarind paste and bay leaf find a classy harmony. On the palate, zesty impressions of spiced dark cherries, plums, dried fruits, strawberry cobbler, brioche, mace, sandalwood, tobacco leaf and morel mushroom are all part of a quietly palate-coating streak of flavor. The wines generosity is stiffened however, by a core of polished yet noticeable tannin. The finish is very long and the whole package, if a bit youthfully un-evolved, is dinner-friendly. This distinctive beauty will get ever better over the next five years and beyond. 698 cases made.

2014 Neighborhood Vineyards Cabernet Franc "Mountains to Sand" Santa Ynez Valley
This is an impressively rich Cab Franc at a great price. The nose is a complex melange of black cherry, black raspberry, dark plum, black fig, root beer, cedar, white pepper, leather and star anise scents. It proves as rich as expected on the palate, where all that black fruit finds an elegant and lingering harmony with sweet-natured notes of licorice root, black tea, root beer, dates, mulling spices, sandalwood and tobacco. There is length and balance to the finishing flavors so, although further improvement is a certainty, current pleasure is also assured. 225 cases produced.

2013 Idle Cellars Sangiovese Speedy Creek Vineyard Knights Valley
Opening up like a perfectly-focused yet soft-edged Chianti, the nose of this pretty bottling melds scents of dark cherry, dark plum, red currant, red vines, red rose, pink peppercorn, star anise, sandalwood and forest-earth into focused harmony. It seems at once juicier and fresher on the palate, where forthcoming flavors of black cherry, red plum, raspberry, black fig, licorice root, pink peppercorn, cedar,  tobacco and baking-spice linger nicely and gain balance from the appearance of a firming mineral undercurrent. Ready to drink, it should be notably food-friendly. 220 cases produced.

2011 Russian Hill "Russian River Reds" Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
This is a very tasty Pinot Noir at a great price. The aromas showcase fresh pomegranate, black cherry, black raspberry and whortleberry along with background suggestions of red rose, pink peppercorn, sumac berry, black tea and humidor-spice. It proves medium-bodied, sleek and silky in the mouth, with bright black cherry and pomegranate fruit above accents of rose, peppercorn, sandalwood and black tea: the whole resulting in a focused and food-friendly bottling that is at it’s apogee of enjoyment. 998 cases produced.

White Wines

2011 Grable Chardonnay House Creek Vineyard Knights Valley
Very rich, if at first a bit reserved, the aromas of this classy Chardonnay roll-out as a satisfyingly rich mix of white peach, golden fig, vanilla, nutmeg and toasted nut scents, with suggestions of dried pineapple and banana chips in the background. White peach is the central flavor note on the palate, along with a supporting cast which includes Asian pear, fig, lemon curd, pineapple core, white rose, brioche, vanilla wafers, baking spices and a hint of tangerine zest. The wine’s texture is creamy from the first sip through to a lingering finish where the lasting memory is of baked peaches and brioche. 247 cases made.

2014 Odonata Chardonnay “Un-Oaked” Big Pond Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
Light-hearted, yet packed with exotic spice and distinctive fruit, the nose of this surprisingly complex “un-oaked” bottling offers scents of dried yellow peach, mango, guava, tangerine zest, jasmine blossoms and “Jolly Rancher” apple candy along with hints of clove, cinnamon and white pepper. The flavors are fresh and forthcoming, with peach, mango and strawberry guava in the lead and some pretty mineral undercurrents and a gentle floral-savory composite in the background. Ready to drink and a tasty sipper, it will pair nicely with sautéed fillet of sole and other genteel entrees. 250 cases produced.

2013 Orsianna Sauvignon Blanc Mendocino
Easy-going and pretty, this Sauvignon Blanc offers pert aromas of lemon zest, grapefruit, honeydew melon and lemon grass, along with hints of kiwi, guava, white tea and white pepper. Those notes are as apparent on the palate, where white peach and a bit of cucumber also chime-in. The finish is gently refreshing, and lingering, and the wine is both food-friendly and ready to drink. 400 cases produced.

2014 Chesebro Albarino Cedar Lane Vineyard Arroyo Seco Monterey
This Albarino is appealing from start to finish. The nose is an elegant melange of baked apple, white peach, green plum, Meyer lemon and cantaloupe, with hints of tangerine zest, white rose, clove and white pepper in the background. It is rich yet deftly balanced on the palate, where dried peach, golden fig, Persian raisin, brioche and lemon cream flavors are contrasted by sharper nut husk notes. The finish is quietly zesty and altogether satisfying, so this clearly food-worthy bottling makes a fine sipper as well. 97 cases produced.

2014 Windsor Oaks Pinot Gris Estate Russian River Valley
This is a rich and unusually complex Pinot Grigio. The aromas are a forthcoming blend of dried peach, Fuji apple, green apple skin, pear skin, grain and citrus scents, with a “copper penny”-like mineral note in the background. Dried peach, golden fig, orange peel and Persian raisin tones hold center-stage on the palate, with lemon-lime-tangerine and mineral hints bringing zest and some grain notes adding weight. The finish is distinctive, delicious and lingering. 100 cases produced.

2014 Field Recordings Viognier Blend "Barter & Trade" Arroyo Grande Valley
Rich and intriguing all the way, this is an unusual and easy to appreciate blend. The aromas are a gently creamy mix of pear, green and red apple, yellow peach, jasmine, lime zest, orange blossom and white pepper. The impression of gentle creaminess is replicated on the palate, where a soft-edged, quietly zesty mix of peach, apple, dried pineapple, lemon curd, orange blossom, jasmine, clove and vanilla flavors make a focused and lingering statement. A good sipper, it will be delicious with dishes from roast turkey to curried scallops. A blend of 60% Viognier, 20% Chardonnay & 20% Melon de Bourgogne. 150 cases produced.