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Autumn 2019 12-Picks


2016 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Deep, youthful and seductively rich, this notably complex Napa Cab marries aromas of blueberry, mulberry, black currant, dark plum, and black cherry pit with scents of clove, date sugar, espresso bean, dried black fig, vanilla and a touch of laurel. It is quietly gripping yet supple and tongue-coating in the mouth, where the fruit seems a bit more youthfully coiled and the sweet-savory counterpoints a shade more dramatic. The finish draws blueberry, blackberry, black fig, dark plum, cherry pit, sandalwood, vanilla, baking-spice and a hint of tobacco into a lingering harmony. As generous and satisfying as it is now, it will certainly improve.

2016 Ancien Pinot Noir (100 % Toyon Vineyard) Carneros  Napa Valley
Bright fruit of pristine clarity is the hallmark of this lovely Pinot Noir. Its aromas are a focused melange of Black cherry, sweet red cherry, blueberry, whortleberry, red boysenberry, cinnamon “red hots”, rose hip, sumac berry, pink peppercorn and mace. It proves as zesty and forthcoming as expected on the palate, but polished tannins and emerging spice notes of dark pipe tobacco, vanilla and rich earthy spice suggest that greater depth is to come. The finish is piquant and fruit dominant, and although this wine is likely to prove a near-perfect companion to seared duck breast right now, it promises to grow still more seductive if allowed a year or two of cellar-time. 699 cases produced.

2016 Prima Materia Sangiovese “Estate” Kelsey Bench Lake County
Immediately engaging, and satisfying through its lingering finish, this is a delightful and varietally authentic wine. The nose is bright and precisely focused, and offers scents of wild cherry, black cherry, “red vines”, cranberry sauce, red rose petal tea, pink peppercorn, nougat and licorice root. Things prove as vivid as expected in the mouth, but there is a spine of polished tannin that teams with the zesty fruit to underline the wine’s immaturity. The finish is dominated by notes of wild cherry, licorice root, peppercorn, mace and nougat. Even better if allowed two or three years in the cellar, it is a bit of a guilty pleasure already. Certified Organic, blended with 8% Aglianico, 240 cases made.

2018 Giornata Barbera Panache Vineyard Paso Robles
A splash of focused zest, the nose of this distinctively fruity and texturally authentic Barbera poises bright scents of pomegranate, lingonberry, violet, pink peppercorn, Schezuan peppercorn and sweet 100 tomato above a firming mineral background. Things are just as brightly painted on the palate, where stony mineral notes join fruit zest to bring a hard-dry edge to sharply stated flavors dominated by lingonberry, pomegranate and violet. There is a racy leanness to the wines lingering, brilliantly food-worthy finish, and this bottling, if not quite fully mature, will be a splendid foil to a crusted roast pork, seared duck breast or grilled salmon right now. 500 cases produced.

2016 St. Romedius Proprietary Red Wine Buckeye Ranch Lamorinda AVA
A saturated purple color introduces this seemingly Petite Sirah dominated bottling. The nose shows focus, intensity and textbook varietal character in it’s push of blueberry jam, mulberry, black plum, violet, cracked black peppercorn, date sugar, Kalamata olive, clove, tobacco, dried herb and forest-floor scents. It is plush, yet softer than expected on the palate, with a slightly creamy texture and potency to it’s flavors of blueberry, mulberry, black raspberry, cherry pit, violet, red rose, Asian plum sauce, hoisin sauce, jerky and peppered bouillon. The finish lingers nicely and the tannins are never intrusive. This will be a winning companion to any type of richly-spiced meat and to a myriad of grilled treats. A field blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Zinfandel, 75 cases produced.

2015 Sandler Syrah Connell Vineyard Bennett Valley Sonoma
Peppery, darkly fruity and layered with spicy-gamey notes, this laughably underpriced Syrah packs a big punch. The nose marries rich black raspberry, dark cherry and grilled black fig scents with equally forthcoming aromas of cracked black pepper, date sugar, licorice root, roasted game, soy sauce,  dried sage, charcoal and dark forest earth. It proves as rich as expected on the palate, yet seems even more intense and focused. The finish is a lingering melange of dark berry, dark cherry, fig, black licorice, date sugar, bouillon and black peppercorn. Built for dark, richly flavored meats, it is ready to enjoy. Less than 140 cases produced.


2017 Ærena Chardonnay Sonoma County
This seductive, quietly rich Chardonnay offers elegant aromas of baked green apple, fresh apple, pineapple core, zesty lemon bars, white rose, vanilla wafer, nutmeg and a hint of hazelnut nougat. It proves as supple and creamy as expected on the palate, with a fine harmony between its pretty fruit and sweet-savory spice notes. The lingering finish rolls-out flavors of tarte tatin, lemon bar, pineapple core, nutmeg and nougat. Delicious and ready to enjoy, it will show its best with sauced fish, fowl or white meat entrees. 2000 cases produced.

2017 Inizi Tocai Friulano Saini Vineyard Dry Creek Valley
The nose of this delightful refresher is fruity, forthcoming and varietally on target, and it fans-out as a gently creamy compote of orange melon, fresh apple sauce, kumquat, peach pit tea, white pepper and mineral salt aromas. Zesty, polished flavors of melon, apple, orange peel tea, apricot pit and a suggestion of lavender push forward on the palate, rising well above oyster shell-like mineral undercurrents. The finish is lingering and elegantly piquant and this wonderfully food-friendly is ready to enjoy. 105 cases produced.

2018 Two Shepherds Vermentino Windmill Vineyard Yolo County
Youthfully reserved, but complex and authentically varietal, the nose of this bright, racy wine offers scents of dried peach, quince, apricot pit, dried orange peel, white pepper and mineral salts. On the palate, the mouth-feel is sleek and the overall style and flavor profile notably Italianate. Focused, lingering flavors of peach pit, dried orange, lemon peel, white pepper and oyster shell-like minerality keep the package on point for food-service. Ready to enjoy, it would be just the thing to grace a platter of mixed shellfish. 150 cases produced.

2017 Fulcrum Gewurztraminer Husch Vineyard Mendocino
This is a wine of subtle elegant, yet one of surprising varietal depth, and it opens with aromas of honeydew melon, lychee fruit, tangerine, lime, nutmeg, ginger and honey, accented by notes of lemon blossom, honeysuckle and jasmine. It is supple and forthcoming, yet firmed by grapefruity zest on the palate, where long-lingering flavors of lychee, nectarine, melon, lime, coriander seed, honeysuckle and jasmine find a genteel harmony. It is ready to enjoy. 265 cases produced.

2017 Saucelito Canyon Grenache Blanc Edna Valley
Forthcoming in aroma, this focused white frames-in scents of green apple skin, guava, orange melon, passion fruit and white pepper, which are gently braced by sea shell-like salinity. Although it is relatively light in body, it is not so in intensity, as the apple, guava, passion fruit, white pepper and sea shell flavors stay true and linger. Built for service with summer-fall cooking, it is at its peak and ready to serve. 198 cases produced.

2018 Sassoferrato Rosé Of Sangiovese (Giannecchini Ranch) Mendocino
Bright, citric and gently floral, the nose of this engaging summer refresher is a subtle perfume of watermelon, strawberry, red apple skin, raspberry “cream sickle”, Mandarin orange zest and pink and white peppercorn scents. Things are brighter still on the palate, where orange zest, pink peppercorn and pink rose notes accent richer undertones of bottled red cherry, strawberry and watermelon. The finish is lighthearted, yet long, and a drying mineral hint makes everything more food-friendly. 250 cases made.