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Spring 2017 12-Picks

Red Wines

2014 Silver Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Flavorful and dinner-worthy, this fine Cab marries black cherry, black currant, black raspberry, violet and peppercorn scents to savory suggestions of vanilla, bitter chocolate, licorice root, tobacco and graphite. It is lean and a bit youthfully grippy on the palate, where black cherry, Cassis and black fig flavors dominate others of vanilla, star anise, cedar, tobacco, leather and graphite. The whole package proves food-worthy and lingering. If better in eighteen months, it is very appealing right now. 85% Cabernet, blended with Merlot and Petite Verdot. 1100 cases produced.

2014 Whitehall Lane Malbec Napa Valley
Tannic grip and dusty minerality are both evident when this gutsy Malbec is opened, yet airing exposes a load of rich varietal character. The nose offers deep blueberry, dark plum, olallieberry, black tea, clove, licorice root, dried laurel and rosemary scents. On the palate, it proves as rich in body and firm in backbone as expected, while youthful zest and grip create a cutting balance. The finish is complex and long and with a bit of airing it reveals optimally-ripe blueberry, olallieberry, black plum and violet fruit in lovely harmony with equally intense flavors of black licorice, dusted chocolate and star anise. Pair it with steaks and dark roasts now, or wait five years to see it’s full glory. 268 cases made.

2013 Vin Atlas “Global Fusion” Proprietary Red Wine California/Argentina
This terrific Bordeaux-esque blend has super forthcoming aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, black currant, violet, prune plum, rose, cola, clove, nutmeg and dusted cocoa. It is vibrant and just as fruit-packed in the mouth, where juicy black raspberry and sour cherry sit at center stage while vanilla, nut husk, sandalwood, star anise, baking-spice and leather notes provide a savory chorus. Everything is lingering and dinner-friendly although the wine is delicious alone. Enjoy it over the next three years. A mix of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petite Verdot from Napa Valley, blended with 10% Argentinean Malbec. 800 cases produced.

2015 Sandler Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
Focused, aromatic, fruit-packed and gently palate-coating, this is a terrific Pinot at a great price. The nose melds scents of Bing cherry, strawberry jam, red currant, blueberry, black raspberry, baking spices, sandalwood and anise into a racy, forthcoming mix. All of these notes are replicated on the palate and through a lingering finish, where notes of pink peppercorn, sumac berry, rose, toffee and a hint of black tea join in. If delicious now, it will be considerably more so in another year or two and well beyond. 119 cases produced.

2014 Palmina “Alisos” Sangiovese Santa Barbara County
This delightful wine weaves floral elegance, forthcoming fruit and suppleness of texture into a sweet-natured tapestry. The nose mixes fruit scents of red rose, violet, bottled cherry, dry cherry, and strawberry and raspberry candies with quieter notes of pink peppercorn, vanilla pipe tobacco and dried mushroom. Gently piquant flavors of bottled cherry and red plum jam dominate on the palate, with violet, red rose, dried orange peel, tobacco and mushroom in support. The finish is bright, silky and lingering. Blended with 20% Merlot. 396 cases produced.

2015 Field Recordings Zinfandel Old Potrero Vineyard Arroyo Grande Valley
Bright, focused and concentrated, the nose of this clearly “old vine” Zin is a dense melange of black cherry, dark plum, Cassis, cracked black pepper, jerk powder, bresaola, date sugar and chocolate-covered fig scents. It proves just as densely fruity on the palate, where flavors of black cherry, blueberry, licorice root and peppercorn dominate and piquant zest keeps everything racy and focused. The fruit tightens-up and the savory notes move to center stage at the finish, where sour cherry and cherry pit notes form the core beneath peppercorn, star anise, baking-spice and dried herb notes. Blended with 5% Mourvedre & 3% Syrah. 1100 cases made.

White Wines

2013 Chasseur Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
Almost as zesty as it is rich, the nose of this seductive Chardonnay offers scents of lemon curd, lemon sorbet, white peach tart, Fuji apple, toasted almonds and hazelnuts, roasted grain and a hint of coconut. The wine’s richness is even more apparent on the palate, where white peach, peach pit, apple skin, tarte tatin, orange blossom, hazelnut, nougat, vanilla wafer, nutmeg and meringue flavors rise above a firmer core of lemon marmalade. The finish is an ultra-long expression of a lovely wine at the peak of maturity. It deserves service with luxuriously sauced entrees. 250 cases produced.

2014 Buhman Sauvignon Blanc Ryan’s Vineyard Oak Knoll Napa Valley
This is a wine of quiet elegance and complex fruit. The aromas and the slightly creamy flavors that follow are a harmonious marriage of guava, green apple, key lime pie, pineapple core, passion fruit, orange zest, white rose, lemon grass and floral honey. The finish is genteel, yet full-flavored and lingering, and the wine seems an ideal match for baked fish, white-sauced pasta and the like. 135 cases produced.

2013 Sans Liege “Cotes du Coast” White Rhone Blend Central Coast
With its gaudy display of fruit and spice, this wine is distinctive from start to finish. On the nose, floral suggestions of orange zest, jasmine, honeysuckle, mint, clove and white pepper are but the intro to richer notes of peach, Persian raisin, Asian pear, pineapple, lemon curd, tangerine, beeswax, nutmeg and vanilla wafer. Things are fuller, if a bit quieter on the palate, yet the flavor panorama is much the same, so the lingering finish, if fully dry and food-worthy, delivers a similar cornucopia of surprises. It should prove an intriguing companion to roast turkey. A blend of 49% Viognier, 27% Roussanne, 15% Grenache Blanc & 9% Marsanne. 850 cases made.

2015 Bodkin Gewürztraminer “The Bohemian” Russian River Valley
Although this is a fully dry and dinner-balanced wine, it has just about everything a California Gewürztraminer can offer in the way of fruit and spice. Mango, peach, peach pit, melon, lychee, Asian pear, jasmine, honeysuckle, mock orange, lavender, pink peppercorn and mineral undercurrents are more or less equally represented in its aromas, flavors and lingering finish. It is ready to drink and is a pleasure all by itself, although it is certain to prove a terrific match for Thai curries and the like. 112 cases made.

2014 Ryan Chenin Blanc Arroyo Seco Vineyard Monterey
Peggy Ryan strives for balanced richness with her wines and this one well-reflects her style. The nose is full of creamy-zesty contrasts, with piquant red apple skin, peach pit and mineral notes in counterpoint to richer pear, stone fruit, lemon curd, honey and vanilla wafer scents. There are also textural contrasts on the palate, and through a notably food-worthy, lingering finish. The flavors are a satisfying mix of apple skin, apple sauce, quince, lemon sorbet, peach pit and apricot, with quiet suggestions of coconut and meringue below. It is ready to enjoy and should prove a fine partner to sauced fish or fowl. 134 cases made.

2016 Graybehl Rosé of Grenache Sonoma Valley
Pretty pink-copper color, bright fruit and cutting balance make this engaging sipper an even finer dinner wine. The nose offers grapefruit zest, watermelon, wild strawberry, pink and white rose, mock orange, white pepper and mineral scents in a racy harmony. It proves as sleek and refreshing on the palate as expected, and the flavors of watermelon, wild strawberry, broiled grapefruit, white pepper and coriander seed are cutting-dry and lingering. It’s as perfect a wine for Ceviche as can be imagined. 50 cases produced from the Mathis vineyard.