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Spring 2019 12-Picks

Red Wines

2013 Revenant Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot bring depth, structure and age-worthiness to this Merlot dominated bottling. The aromas and the flavors that mirror them are a complex mélange of Cassis, black cherry, black raspberry, dark plum, cola, red rose, date sugar, clove, toffee, five-spice, leather and licorice root. Zest and a firming spine of tannin underpin what might otherwise be tongue-coating richness on the palate, and these elements create a balance that sets the wine up to ideally accompany dark fatty roasts and richly sauced entrees. If very attractive already, it should grow steadily more so for another few years. A blend of 72% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Petit Verdot, from the Frediani Vineyard. 78 cases made.

2017 Union Sacré Cabernet Sauvignon “Le Confident” Santa Barbara County
Attractive from the moment the cork is pulled, the aromas of this impressively varietal Cab are a focused mélange of cherry pit, Italian Maraschino cherry, purple plum, blueberry, rose, violet, cedar, vanilla and baking-spice. It is sleek and polished in the mouth, where tannic grip and fruit zest bring fine structure to flavors of red cherry, cherry pit, violet, blueberry, cranberry, red currant and red rose, which harmonize nicely with sweet-savory counterpoints of cedar, baking spices, sweet tobacco leaf and a touch of mint. A pleasure now, it should evolve nicely for another two years or so. A blend of Happy Canyon and Santa Barbara Highlands area grapes. 100% Cabernet, 1200 cases produced.

2017 Nick Goldschmidt “Fidelity” Proprietary Red Wine Crazy Creek Vineyard Alexander Valley
Elegantly fruity and forthcoming, the nose of this pretty Meritage offers scents of red plum, lingonberry, bottled red cherry, blueberry, pink peppercorn, mace, sandalwood, cedar and baking-spice. It is supple, sleek, lively and easy going on the palate, where the aromatic package is replicated and then enhanced by darker, richer, if more subtle notes of black raspberry, black cherry, black fig, licorice, leather, vanilla and tobacco. It is ready to enjoy: with a variety of foods, or unaccompanied. A blend of 76% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. 400 cases produced.

2016 Limerick Lane Zinfandel “Estate” Russian River Valley
Vividly fruit-packed, if notably youthful, this is classic Russian River Zin. The aromas, flavors and finish of this beauty grow as it airs to reveal a cornucopia of pomegranate syrup, red raspberry, red boysenberry, Amarena cherry, red plum galette, cranberry-orange relish, red apple skin, violet, red rose, Schezuan peppercorn, pink peppercorn, sumac berry, mulling-spices, licorice root and black tea. The texture is firm, the body palate-coating, tingling zest ever present and the finish intense. Tasty by itself, it will serve brilliantly with barbecued ribs, and will grow ever more delicious over the next few years. 1200 cases produced.

2017 Lusu Carignan Sandy Lane Vineyard Contra Costa County
With lots of character and the backbone for barbecued meats, this should prove a versatile summer red. The nose is a focused mix of tart red cherry, blueberry, black raspberry, dried cranberry, blood orange, red rose, leather, vanilla, star anise, cinnamon stick, clove and mace scents. On the palate, piquant freshness and a bit of tannic grip bring a gutsy edge to flavors that precisely mirror the aromas, and a lingering finish is packed with forthcoming fruit and slightly exotic spice notes. This tasty wine should prove as well-matched to pizza as to steak or grilled chicken, and it may get better with a bit of cellar-time. 250 cases made.

2017 Hollyhock Gamay “No. 3” Santa Barbara County
If rarely seen in California, the grape of Beaujolais is well-represented here. The nose is a quietly zesty mix of black raspberry, dried cranberry, red cherry, red currant, red rose, root beer bark and vanilla scents. Red cherry, “red vines”, dried red raspberry, violet, rose and toasted hazelnut flavors fan-out on the palate, with a gently piquant feel. Red currant, rose and toasted grain notes chime-in at the finish. Ready to enjoy, it is medium-bodied and deftly dinner-balanced. 240 cases produced.

White & Rosé Wines

2017 Vaughn Duffy Chardonnay Russian River Valley
Bright, fruity, spicy and gently creamy, this is a delightful Chardonnay. The nose offers scents of lime curd, green apple skin, applesauce, lemon drop, melon rind, nectarine pit, brioche, toasted meringue, vanilla wafer, honeycomb and toasted hazelnut. In the mouth, fruit zest brings counterpoint to a palate-coating texture while it perks up mineral undercurrents to balance the stone fruit, citrus and nougat flavors that otherwise closely parallel the aromas. The finish is silky and lingering and beautifully food-worthy. It is ready to enjoy. 220 cases produced.

2017 Whitehall Lane Chardonnay Carneros
Endowed with rich fruit, lots of creamy oak and an extremely long finish, this is an already delicious wine. The nose marries forthcoming scents of tarte tatin, dried yellow peach, golden fig, preserved lemon, coriander seed, brioche and hazelnut nougat. Creamy flavors of peach, baked apple, orange blossom, lemon sorbet, white pepper, toasted meringue and hazelnut roll-out on the mid-palate, while the finish delivers a drying punch of piquant apple skin, lemon and nut husk. If ready to enjoy, it yet may grow richer if allowed a year or so of cellar-time. 443 cases produced.

2018 Alma de Cattleya Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County
A terrific value, this vibrant wine is the picture of fresh, focused fruit and spice. The nose lines-up scents of lemon and lime curd, orange pith, peach pit, apple skin, golden fig, guava, white pepper over a hint of chalky minerality. Grapefruit zest, passion fruit and a firmer mineral presence join with the promised aromatic treats which fan-out on the palate, where the texture is sleek and the finish long. Brilliantly dinner-balanced, it is delicious alone, and either way it should provide great pleasure for the next few years. 1000 cases made.

2017 Two Shepherds Trousseau Gris Fanucchi Vineyard Russian River Valley
Notable for its copper color, distinctive texture and exotic fruit mix, this “skins” wine offers a complex array of scents and flavors. The nose is a bright push of fresh apricot, red apple, cantaloupe, peach chutney, brioche, white cherry, pink rose, orange zest, lemon zest, cinnamon, clove and cardamom: with undercurrents of “riverstone” minerality. It has a firm and surprisingly grippy mouth-feel, as piquant peach pit, apricot pit, red apple skin, orange marmalade and chalk flavors join with the fruit and spice notes suggested in the nose. The finish lingers beautifully, and the wine is food-friendly and ready to enjoy. 150 cases produced.

2017 Sassoferrato Vermentino Brickbarn Ranch Santa Ynez Valley
Authentically replicating its grape’s character, but in an easygoing style, this elegantly complex Vermentino is also a fine value. The nose offers scents of mineral salts, guava, fresh applesauce, cucumber, green melon rind, white rose, white pepper and just a suggestion of brioche. Apple, guava, greengage plum, coriander seed, cucumber, celery seed, raw almond, white pepper and oyster shell-like mineral notes find a lingering harmony on the palate. An especially fine companion to seafood: raw or otherwise prepared, it is more than tasty all by itself. 148 cases produced.

2018 Luli Rosé of Grenache & Pinot Noir Central Coast
With a bright, gently citric slant, the aromas of this delightful Rosé are focused on cherry pit, strawberry, pink rose, watermelon and a hint of grapefruit zest. Rose, cherry, strawberry and grapefruit take the lead on the palate, with a subtle note of vanilla in the background. The finish is tangy and very food-friendly, so this pretty wine should prove just the ticket for warm summer picnics and backyard gatherings. A blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Grenache. 600 cases produced.