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Summer 2018 12-Picks

Red Wines

2013 Korbin Kameron Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” Moon Mountain Sonoma Valley
This gutsy mountain Cab is full of fruit and spice, and its aromas of red and black currant, Italian Maraschino cherry, black cherry, plum compote, black fig, bitter chocolate, clove, espresso bean, laurel, dried sage and graphite are rich and focused. Flavors of sweet dark plum, Cassis and Italian Maraschino cherry dominate on the mid-palate and couple with notes of mace, hazelnut husk, star anise, laurel and graphite to overmatch the wine’s tannins. Fruit, savory spice and mineral expressions are all vivid at the finish, and flavors of plum, Cassis, black raspberry, dark cherry, fig, mocha, black tea, licorice root, peppercorn, cedar, leather and dried herbs are all lingering highlights to the end. Expect this wine to grow ever more appealing over the next dozen years. 700 cases produced.

2014 Blue Oasis Pinot Noir Docker Hill Vineyard Mendocino County
Already impressive yet destined for greater depth and elegance, this Pinot opens with aromas that suggest Amarena cherry, dark boysenberry tart, dried cranberry, whortleberry, blood orange, red currant, strawberry, sumac berry, coriander seed, black peppercorn and China Keemun tea. It is richly textured and more gutsy than expected in the mouth, where tannic grip and the contrast of bright red fruit and darkly earthy spice creates a more masculine impression. The finish lingers well, while the wine’s balance and flavor profile suggest service with seared duck breast or dark fatty roasts. Enjoy it now, yet expect several years of positive evolution. 245 cases produced.

2016 Whitehall Lane Syrah Napa Valley
Vividly fruity, spicy and forthcoming, this is a knockout Syrah. The aromas are a seductive rush of sweet red raspberry, sour red cherry, Elephant Heart plum, pomegranate, crushed red rose, violet, bresaola, black, pink and Schezuan peppercorn, with a hint of rosemary. It is just as bright and forward on the palate, and it brings a racy mouth-feel and surprising elegance to its lingering cascade of red and black raspberry, pomegranate syrup, Elephant Heart plum, blueberry, dried beef, sage, rosemary, toffee and peppercorn. Deliciously dinner-friendly already, it should grow more supple over the next two years, yet will be terrific now with fatty pork roasts or grilled summer meats. 230 cases made.

2016 Kings Carey Grenache Spear Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
This classy wine showcases the elegant side of the Grenache personality. The nose offers focused scents of red currant, strawberry cobbler, Kirsch, Maraschino cherry, whortleberry, zesty red plum, violet, watermelon candy, pink peppercorn, pink rose and sandalwood. It is medium-bodied and quietly zesty on the palate, where all the aromas are deftly mirrored by the flavors, along with suggestions of mace, dried sage and bay leaf. The finish lingers nicely and the flavors and balance make it a satisfying dinner wine right now, yet enough zest and tannic grip are revealed to suggest several more years of steady improvement. 250 cases produced.

2014 Andis “Painted Fields” Proprietary Red Amador County
Very much a wine about “place”, this four grape blend showcases the distinctive Amador mineral underpinnings. The nose offers scents of dark plum, dark cherry, mulberry, blueberry, black fig, dark rose, toffee, cedar and baking-spice notes, braced by harder undercurrents of iron ore-like minerality. Those mineral elements are more forthcoming on the palate and they join with a bit of tannic grip to firm the texture, while coupling with black peppercorn, black tea, tobacco, cedar, leather, clove and Kalamata olive flavors to bring a darker richness to the plum, mulberry, dark cherry fruit. Long and quite dry, the finish is well balanced and the flavor package suggests best service with fatty pork entrees. A blend of 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Syrah, 16% Zinfandel & 11% Merlot. 900 cases made.

2016 Morgan “Cotes du Crow’s” GSM Monterey County
This is an easy-drinking Rhone red that surprises with its depth and charm. The nose offers a bright mélange of red and black cherry, red and black raspberry, strawberry, plum, rose, tobacco, black peppercorn, licorice and bay leaf scents. It is medium-bodied, fresh and slightly juicy on the palate, where notes of fig, espresso bean and pink peppercorn join with the aromatic mix. There is fine zest, intensity and good length at the finish, and a very dinner-friendly balance. It will prove a fine foil to summer entrees and is ready to enjoy. 3000 cases produced.

White & Rosé Wines

2015 Transverse Chardonnay Santa Rita Hills
This is a fruit-forward and attractively oaky wine at a equally attractive price. The nose is a zesty-creamy mix of white peach, Asian pear, baked apple, pineapple core, lemon curd, lime zest, orange blossom, brioche, vanilla, nutmeg and baking-spice scents. It is supple, rich and appealingly bright on the palate, with notes of apple skin, pear liqueur, dried peach, hazelnut and a hint of almond paste joining the array of fruit and spice suggested by the aromas. It is ready to enjoy, although it may yet grow more fruit-dominant over the next twelve months. 450 cases produced.

2016 F & B Sauvignon Blanc Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
As distinctive for its sense of place as for Greg Brewer’s winemaking, this is a terrific wine at a bargain price. The nose brings scents of dried peach, lemon sorbet, pineapple core, cucumber, lemon grass, flint and a suggestion of orange flower water into a dry-edged, piquant harmony. It proves deep yet firm on the palate, where the dry peach, golden fig, preserved lemon, lime oil, lemon grass, cucumber and coriander seed flavors are braced by fine fruit acidity and flinty minerality. The finish is lean, hard-edged, long and super food-worthy. Tasty with grilled chicken, but better still with sea foods: raw, grilled or sautéed. 200 cases made.

2016 Fel Winery Pinot Gris Anderson Valley
Vibrant and varietally-focused, this is a delicious, versatile Pinot Gris. The aromas are a chiseled mix of fresh green apple, lemon cream sickle, orange blossom, white rose, Mandarine orange, brioche, coriander and celery seed scents over a “riverstone” mineral backdrop. It proves sleek on the palate, where Mandarine orange zest, fresh apple, pear skin, preserved lemon, white rose and white pepper flavors are counter-pointed by sharper chalky tones. The finish is cutting-dry, food-balanced and lingering. Ready to enjoy, this beauty will prove a fine match to dishes as diverse as cold roast chicken, veal Milanese, ceviche or raw oysters. 815 cases made.

2017 DeSante “L’Atelier” Proprietary White Napa Valley
This is a gorgeous wine of depth and vivid refreshment. The nose is a cornucopia of fruit, spice and mineral scents, as racy notes of lime sorbet, orange peel, grapefruit, apple and pear skin, gooseberry, golden fig, mango, guava, peach pit and chamomile overlay a core of chalky minerality. It is super zesty and gracefully complex on the palate, where the mineral notes turn flinty and hints of apricot and stone fruit add to the flavor profile. The finish is as cutting-dry as it is long, and this near-ideal summer refresher will prove a splendid a companion to raw oysters or sashimi or a clam-bake at the beach. A blend of 34% Sauvignon Blanc, 23% Pinot Blanc, 21% Semillon, 18% Chardonnay & 4% Sauvignon Vert. 225 cases produced.

2017 Field Recordings “Skins” Proprietary White Central Coast
This is a truly distinctive, slightly floral bottling that delivers a genteel perfume of peach pit, fresh Fuji apple, pear skin, orange blossom, lavender, lemon, white pepper, coriander seed and toasted rye scents. It is soft-edged and quietly zesty on the palate, yet fully dry. The flavors are a satisfying, focused mix of apple, white peach, cantaloupe, tangerine zest, lavender, brioche, vanilla wafer and mace, which roll into a delicious, sweet-natured, lingering finish strongly reminiscent of peach or mango ice tea. The style seems near-ideal for summer meals. A blend of 60% Chenin Blanc, 30% Pinot Gris & 10% Verdehlo. 725 cases made.

2017 Groundwork Rosé of Grenache Central Coast
This pretty rosé has an elegant perfume, as scents of watermelon, white cherry, strawberry fresca, red apple skin, orange blossom, pink rose, pink and white peppercorn, brioche, coriander seed and a hint of nectarine pit find a focused, genteel harmony. It is slightly plump yet just as zesty as expected on the palate, where flavors of watermelon, strawberry, orange cream sickle and nectarine take center stage. The finish is flavorful, refreshing and easy-going, and that combination should make for fine utility at summer picnics. 100% Grenache, 500 cases produced.