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Winter 2018 12-Picks

Red Wines

2016 Kokomo Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County
Deep in color, ripeness and juiciness, this is a focused and fruit-centric Cabernet that offers a composite of black cherry, purple plum, dark boysenberry, black raspberry, black currant, black tea, peppercorn, baking-spice, vanilla and star anise aromas. On the palate, firming tannins and fruit zest combine to balance its push of dark berry, blueberry, plum jam, black cherry, violet, peppercorn, black tea, dark tobacco and Victorian toffee flavors. The finish is food-worthy and lingering, so current drinking is a pleasure. The patient can expect another two years of growth. 800 Cases made.

2016 Presqu’ile Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County
This is a complex, age-worthy Pinot with lots of personality and youthful zest. It delivers focused aromas of raspberry, pomegranate, whortleberry, sour red cherry, blueberry, blood orange zest, strawberry rhubarb pie, mulling spices, sumac berry, red rose, sandalwood, sweet tobacco, white pepper and ginger snaps. It is sleek in texture, with compact, notably youthful flavors that are a bright mirror of the nose. The finish lingers as a coiled mix of red fruits, citric and sweet-savory spice. Terrific now with seared duck breast or grilled salmon and other savory entrees, it should improve for another two or three years. Fruit sourced from the Presqu'ile, Solomon Hills and Bien Nacido vineyards. 2600 cases produced.

2016 Whitehall Lane Zinfandel Pedrazzini Vineyard Sonoma Valley
This is an "old vine" Zin with plenty of character, yet its flavors are delivered in the sleek, dinner-worthy style that Whitehall is noted for. At opening, rich aromas of pomegranate syrup, sour cherry, red plum, cracked peppercorn and "jerk-spice" are main themes. Zest and some well-polished tannins firm things on the palate, yet the flavors are rich, distinctive and lingering, with pomegranate, sour cherry, Umeboshi plum, dark berries, Oolong tea, espresso bean, black fig, humidor-spice, star anise and walnut husk notes fanning-out in fine balance. Dark roasts, steaks and crusted pork tenderloin will all benefit from this wine's company. 264 cases produced.

2015 Big Basin “Homestead” GSM California
Centered on Mourvedre and immediately forthcoming, the nose of this already seductive GSM is a fascinating melange of dark plum, mulberry, Italian Maraschino cherry, strawberry cobbler, dry red rose, peppery bouillon, vanilla toffee and allspice scents. It proves as fruit-centric as expected on the palate, where bright plum, mulberry, black raspberry, mulled wine, root beer bark, clove, baking-spice, bouillon, black pepper, leather and bay leaf flavors pour forth. The texture is never rough and the finish is juicy and lingering, and although perhaps two years from its peak, it is a true pleasure to enjoy now. A blend of 43% Mourvedre, 16% Syrah, 14% Grenache, 14% Carignane and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 500 cases made.

2015 Palmina Barbera Walker Vineyard Los Olivos District Santa Barbara
Focused, complex yet vibrantly fruity-zesty, the nose of this delightfully food-friendy Barbera is a mix of bright cranberry, red boysenberry, red raspberry and orange peel tea scents, accented by others of black tea, forest-floor spice, tobacco, dried herbs and a hint of shiso. It is just as fruity on the palate, where notes of blood orange and black fig join the party. The texture is sleek and piquantly fresh and the lingering finish finds a deft balance between fruity, earthy and herbal pleasures. It should make a fine companion to a crispy-skinned holiday bird, or a steaming bowl of Cioppino. 300 cases produced.

2015 Frog’s Tooth Sangiovese “Reserve” Matagrano Vineyard Sierra Foothills
Chianti-like in balance and personality, this food-worthy bottling offers scents of dried raspberry, red cherry and red currant married to fresher notes of red plum, red rose and blood orange zest: all poised above a backdrop of pink peppercorn, clove, cedar, leather, black tea and chalky mineral hints. It is medium-bodied and fresher on the palate and on through a lingering finish where fresh cherry and raspberry are central. It should improve for another twelve to twenty-four months, and will serve nicely with roast pork, red sauced pasta and the like. 112 cases produced.

White & Rosé Wines

2014 Blue Farm Chardonnay Gap’s Crown Vineyard Petaluma Gap Sonoma Coast
Bright, fresh, vividly fruity yet richly oaky, the nose of this immediately impressive Chardonnay offers white peach, baked apple, golden fig, dried golden mulberry, pineapple core, cantaloupe, lemon blossom, hazelnut husk and vanilla scents braced by an undercurrent of chalky minerality. It is as plush on the palate as expected, yet the mineral notes contrast the wine’s opulent fruit-spice surge to bring dinner-balance and a dry raciness that lingers through a long, seductive, surprisingly fresh finish. This beauty should uplift a myriad of wintry entrees. 200 cases produced.

2015 Velvet Bee Chardonnay Rita’s Crown Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Delivering classy aromas and a mouthful of flavor, this is a notably expressive Chardonnay, its depth reflecting a highly-regarded fruit source, paired with a price that does not. The aromas and the richly textured, lingering flavors that follow are a layering of baked green apple, pear, lemon zest, lime curd, pineapple core, orange blossom, white rose, brioche, vanilla wafer, baking spice and hazelnut, firmed by an backbone of “riverstone” minerality. It will be even more satisfying next year. 54 cases produced.

2017 Andis Sauvignon Blanc Shenandoah Valley Sierra Foothills
Spicy, complex and fruit forward, the aromas of this pretty wine are a vibrant mix of lemon curd, gooseberry, grapefruit zest, kiwi, lemon grass, white rose and white pepper. It is bright, yet genteel on the palate, where freshness and minerality join to steer things toward optimum balance. The texture is sleek, while the lemony richness and peppery spice linger nicely. As easy a companion for oysters as for baked chicken or sole in butter sauce, it is ready to enjoy. 750 cases produced.

2016 Ferdinand Albariño California
If at first aromatically subtle, the nose of this fine wine expands with airing to waft-forth scents of Meyer lemon sorbet, pineapple core, Persian raisin, green apple, tangerine, honeysuckle, brioche, celery seed, almond, and white pepper. It is rounded and gently refreshing on the palate, where flavors of lemon curd, grapefruit zest, apple, tangerine, Persian raisin, honeysuckle, white pepper and “riverstone” mineral notes create a lingering harmony. Ready to drink, it will serve nicely with a myriad of cuisines. 560 cases produced.

2017 Palmina Pinot Grigio Santa Barbara County
This is a bright, zesty, focused wine with pretty aromatics. The nose offers scents of green apple tart and white peach, with background notes of nectarine, cantaloupe, white rose and lemon sorbet over soft-edged mineral hints. It is lively, supple and refreshing on the palate, where the lingering flavors suggest apple, stone fruits, lemon, Kirsch, white pepper and hints of white rose, orange blossom and jasmine. Ready to enjoy, it will prove equally delicious with grilled chicken, fried calamari or veggie burgers. 781 cases made.

2017 Joseph Jewell Rosé of Pinot Noir Ryan Vineyard Humboldt County
Seemingly born to serve with roast turkey, this delightful Rosé captures the personality of its grape beautifully. The nose is a fresh, forthcoming perfume of white cherry, strawberry, watermelon and raspberry cream sickle, married to scents of blood orange zest, red apple skin, pink rose, pink peppercorn, brioche, celery seed and a hint of cinnamon. It is fresh yet suave on the palate and the flavors - a mirror of the nose - linger elegantly. It is built for sipping or food service and is ready to enjoy. 350 cases produced.