Expanded 2014 Top Wines

NOTE: This story includes additional wine reviews that were not included in the November/December issue of Beverage Dynamics.


Throughout the year, we asked our retailer wine panel to review zinfandels, chardonnays, pinot noirs, summer white wines and cabernet sauvignons. For this issue, we’ve compiled the top wine reviews from 2014 – wines in those categories that scored five stars (92+).

As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you’re a retail beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, call Editor Jeremy Nedelka at 203-855-8499 x213 or email him at jnedelka@specialtyim.com.




(98) Sonoma-Loeb Envoy Carneros Chardonnay 2012 (California). Sourced from the famed Sangiacomo Vineyards with the best clones, this is a rich elegant Burgundian-styled wine with beautiful tropical fruits, rich butter and caramel flavors, and toasted oak; save this for that special dinner. ($55)

(97) Buccella Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). A small production cult wine; deep purple, opaque in color with concentrated black currant, licorice, exhibiting intense and floral characteristic. ($150)

(97) Alexander Valley Vineyards CYRUS 2010 (California). Done in the meritage style (Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec); winemaker Kevin Hall uses only eight very select barrel aged lots for his final cuvee; aged 12 month in French oak and additional eight months aging in the bottle; incredible. ($65)

(97) J.Lohr Hilltop Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). A beautiful, harmonious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Malbec and Syrah from prime vineyard sites; aged 18 months in oak; smooth, balanced, full-bodied, with rich layers of cherries and blackberries. ($40)

(97) Duckhorn Napa Chardonnay 2012 (California). This is the 35 vintage year, and this wine reflects the very best of Napa; sourced from 11 different vineyard sites, it showcases a wide variety of flavor components, including melon, pineapple, and peaches; beautifully regimented barrel aging program adds rich, complex textures to balanced acidity; long lingering finish. ($53)

(97) Joseph Drouhin Nuits-Saint-Georges Damodes 1er Cru 2011 (France). From one of the most establish and respected houses in Burgundy, this Premier Cru Burgundy wine exudes class and elegance; brilliant ruby in the glass; complex nose, with hints of red fruit, berries, along with subtle spicy notes; on the palate, the elegance continues with tastes that echo the nose, along with a bright edge. ($111)

(97) Scott Family Estate Arroyo Secco Chardonnay 2012 (California). All estate grown fruit from Arroyo Secco area in the Monterey AVA; intense, rich, concentrated viscous fruit; Dijon clones offer fresh notes of vanilla, pear and orange zest; butterscotch flavors at the finish after waves of tropical fruit; great long lingering finish; over-delivers for the money. ($36)

(97) Frank Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2012 (California). Classic new-world style; fruit forward, rich creaminess, long finish; very balanced; Carneros fruit over-delivers; floral notes of honeysuckle and fresh bread dough; tropical fruit flavors dominate. ($48)

(96) Nth Degree Livermore Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Sourced from Wente’s best estate vineyard sites, and meticulously “ultra farmed,” this is a rich, elegant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Verdot; rich black cherry flavors dominate, with a subtle hint of mocha; seamless till the end and very balanced through the finish; spectacular. ($132)

(96) Cade Winery Howell Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). This 100 % estate grown Cabernet is loaded with aromas blueberry, blackberry and plums; big, bold and elegant; the finish is nicely balanced and lingers for minutes. ($170)

(96) Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2011 (Italy). Supremely elegant and fine, the wine exudes class on the nose and palate; lots of red fruit, with notes of spice help emphasize the wine’s pedigree; very satisfying now, the wine will certainly benefit from medium term aging. ($57)

(96) Joseph Jewell Russian River Sonoma Pinot Noir 2011 (California). Very elegant wine from this young winery (established 2006); beautiful red hues, strong cherry notes, with a very light touch of oak; black tea and baking spice aromas dominate the nose; perfect wine for the late spring and early summer months. ($60)

(95) Alexander Valley Vineyards Alexander School Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Older, low-yield vines produce very intense concentrated fruit; 100% Cabernet sauvignon; aged almost two years in premium French oak barrels; a very big wine, rich and chewy, with dark fruit, tobacco and semi-sweet chocolate flavors. ($45)

(95) Daou Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). This full-bodied wine displays black fruits, cassis, wild herbs and earthy notes with ripe, rich tannins; grown at the highest elevation in Paso Robles shows the great complexity of the area. ($30)

(95) Fattoria di Felsina Maestro Raro Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Italy). Cherry, black currant, cedar and coffee aromas leads you into the intense flavors with refined structure; ripe and focused tannins provide grip; tobacco spice notes. ($60)

(95) Caymus 40th Anniversary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). A delicious celebration of Napa Valley Cabernet; rich and robust berry fruit, with balanced tannins marry together for a truly silky finish. ($73)

(95) Long Shadows Feather Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Washington State). Dark fruits with a hint of chocolate, this is a rich full-bodied wine with a luxurious texture. ($60)

(95) Ahnfeldt Provocative Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). Gorgeous bouquet of lilacs, roses and ripe black fruits; flavors of blueberry, black currant and plum abound with just a touch of toasted oak; tannins are supple; this wine is absolutely enjoyable now. ($40)

(95) Poggio al Tesoro, Sondraia Bolgheri Superiore 2011 (Italy). From Tuscany, this Cabernet dominant blend combines elegance and power; the 18 months in oak, contributes a spiciness to the red and black fruit notes; the taste is fresh and clean, with a long and elegant finish; a highly polished wine that will pair with a wide range of meats, cheeses, and other foods. ($55)

(95) Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011(Washington State). Most of the grapes, used to produce this outstanding wine, came from the established Cold Creek vineyard; the wine is rich and powerful, with a great deal of elegance; dark fruit is accented by spice, on the nose and palate; delicious now, make sure to age some as well. ($48)

(95) Artesa Estate Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). From one of Napa Valley’s top flight properties, this Cabernet exhibits dark fruit and power; the fermentation and aging in oak contribute spice and structure; a very fine wine, enjoyable now, but with potential to age gracefully. ($46)

(95) Robert Mondavi Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). Dark in the glass, with plenty of dark fruit notes on the nose, the wine is rich, with hints of spice and herbs; an exceptionally long finish, with great balance. ($45)

(95) Elderton Ashmead Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Australia). This wine is exceptionally concentrated, with plush black fruit; the mouthfeel and finish are outstanding, and examples of world-class Australian winemaking; a real keeper, as well as a wine that’s showing superbly well now. ($104)

(95) Chateau Franc Coutelin Saint-Estephe Bordeaux 2009 (France). Blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot; the Cabernet is most evident with aromas and flavors of black cherry, currant and blackberry; a note of toasted oak on the finish along with firm tannins.($30) (Victoire Imports, Sonoma, CA)

(95) Root:1 Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Chile). From ungrafted vines of original European rootstock that have never been blighted by phylloxera; bold, rich varietal aromas and flavors in a ripe, mouth-filling, and easy-to-enjoy style; richness, quality and value. ($13) (Winebow, NY, NY)

(95) True Grit Reserve Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). This is Parducci’s reserve level Cabernet Sauvignon; 18 months in French and American oak add a vanilla softness to the mix; small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Syrah add richness; beautiful cherry and cassis aromas finish out the wine. ($39) (Parducci)

(95) Carmen Gold Reserve Maipo Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Chile). A big, hearty Chilean Cab; lots of oak and vanilla overtones with deep blackberry fruit; balanced tannins from this warm weather region. ($75) (Trinchero)

(95) Flanagan Family Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Ripe and concentrated fruit; cassis and vanilla on the nose; unusually soft tannins for such a powerful Cabernet. ($85)

(95) Itsas Mendi Blanco D.O. Bizkaiko Txakolina 2012 (Spain). A truly unique white wine from Spain’s Basque country, made from the indigenous Hondarrabi Zuri grape; at first, it’s reminiscent of Vinho Verde, rather tart and light; after a few minutes of aeration, a floral bouquet bursts into flavors of lush tropical fruits, ending with lip-smacking sweet/tart acidity. ($23)

(95) Migration Russian River Chardonnay 2012 (California). This wine is sourced from 11 vineyards in the Russian River Valley; rich fruit notes of pineapple, peach, orange and nectarine are complemented by aromas of allspice and sweet vanilla. ($48)

(95) Miner Gary’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2011 (California). A bouquet of wildflowers and red raspberry lead to a viscous texture on the palate with flavors of red fruit, cherry, coffee, and spice; supple tannins with a nuance of toasty oak balance the whole. ($70)

(95) Paul Hobbs Russian River Pinot Noir 2012 (California). Exceptional deep color; aromas of black raspberries and cassis; full-bodied, silky texture; cellar worthy for at least five years. ($60)

(95) Loveblock Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011 (New Zealand). A bright ruby red color; complex aromas include cherry, strawberry, violets, mushrooms and herbs; on the palate, a rush of sweet/tart berry flavors meld with lightly toasted oak, truffles and a hint of earthiness. Firm tannins linger on the finish suggesting some cellar time would be most rewarding. ($35)

(95) Alexander Valley Vineyards Sonoma Chardonnay 2012 (California). Estate grown, night harvested; interesting approach to blending stainless steel with no malolactic fruit with whole cluster fruit, aged in French oak with malolactic fermentation; rich mouth feel, very balanced, good acidity; toasted oak, rich butterscotch and tropical fruit flavors blend harmoniously. ($40)

(95) Hartford Court Jolene’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel 2011 (California). A stunning zinfandel from 100+ year-old vines; shows near perfect balance between fruit, tannins and acids. ($60)

(95) Outpost Howell Mountain Zinfandel 2011 (California). Full-bodied with loads of ripe fruit; blackberry jam, wild berry and black cherry flavors fill the palate and lead way to a robust, spicy finish, with a hint of crack pepper. ($50)

(95) Brown Chaos Theory Napa Red Blend 2009 (California). Blockbuster blending of Cab/Zin (60/40% for this vintage); all estate-grown fruit from the Brown family, who started farming over 30 years ago in Napa; bold, balanced, great concentration of flavors; black peppercorns, wild blackberries, black cherries; richly textured; the finish is long and lingering. ($69)

(94) Rodney Strong Alexander’s Crown Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Juicy cab with smooth tannins and deep layers of oak, black fruit and mocha; high alcohol makes a bit hot; decant to enjoy the complexity or cellar. ($60)

(94) Rutherford Ranch Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). An intriguing blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec; aged 14 months in oak; rich and chewy, with dark chocolate, vanilla and black fruit flavors; very subtle finish; an elegant wine at a great price point. ($30)

(94) Wente Charles Wetmore Livermore Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). This estate vineyard is named for the gentleman who helped develop the area in the late 1800s by bring cutting from some of the best vineyards in Bordeaux; in that same style, this Cabernet Sauvignon has small amounts of Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot added for intense complexity; aged 14 months in French and American oak; over-delivers in terms of value and quality. ($36)

(94) Frisson Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). A classic Napa Valley Cabernet; very balanced, with dark rich fruit, and a nutty hint of dark chocolate; restrained tannins, and a moderate alcohol level make for an elegant wine. ($75)

(94) Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). This wine pairs a vibrant purple color with expressive aromas of blackberries and cassis; richly textured on the palate, this wine’s robust tannins provide a frame for black cherry flavors and spicy notes of vanilla and cloves; air this with your favorite burger off the grill. ($23)

(94) Ironside Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). A big, elegant classy wine with lots of fruit, friendly tannins and structure; great value. ($18)

(94) Hess Allomi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). This single vineyard Cabernet from one of the Valley’s best known wineries is full of rich black and red fruit; dark ruby in the glass, with plenty of richness on the nose and palate; hints of spice and tannin provide a backbone for the fruit to surround; the finish is well balanced, and quite lengthy. ($30)

(94) Michael Mondavi Emblem Oso Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). This exceptional single vineyard Cabernet is produced from grapes grown high above the valley floor, which contributes a freshness and structure that complements the abundant fruit; plenty of black and red fruit is accented by spice and toasty notes; a wonderful long and balanced finish. ($60)

(94) Viña Los Vascos Le Dix de Los Vascos 2011 (Chile). The Le Dix is produced from very old vine Cabernet, from the estate’s original vineyard; the vineyard contributes a dark, lush fruitiness, and the 18 months in oak add an appealing spiciness and texture; hints of chocolate add to the wine’s complexity; it finishes with a luxurious mouthfeel, and balance. ($60)

(94) J.Lohr Riverstone Arroyo Seco Chardonnay 2013 (California). A top chardonnay for the money; very balanced with great fruit and just enough oak; creamy texture, with good acidity. ($18)

(94) J Vineyards Russian River Pinot Noir 2012 (California). A beautiful pinot noir with layers of deep fruit balanced with a pop of acidity; rich and lingering flavors surround your mouth and keep giving up secret flavors long after the finish. ($36)

(94) Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château 1er Cru 2009 (France). A brilliant medium ruby in color; the nose is filled with a complex mix of red fruit, along with floral and spicy notes; in the mouth, the bright fruit leads the way, followed by a long and elegant finish. ($40)

(94) La Follette Van der Kamp Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir 2011 (California). Brilliant ruby/garnet; a rich wine, with the nose dominated by elegant red fruits, as well as hints of spice with floral hints; the palate is rich and spicy, with great complexity and length. ($42)

(94) Robert Mondavi Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay Reserve 2011 (California). A rich, yellow gold in the glass, showing its weight and viscosity; the nose is full of ripe tree fruits, with hints of toast and oak; rich and full, with balancing acidity, and a long, lingering finish; very classy and fine. ($60)

(94) Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Napa Valley Carneros Chardonnay 2009 (California). Serious, classically styled chardonnay; rich apple, pear, and pineapple fruit with barely any RS; lees-focused creaminess, smooth tannins and acidity in perfect balance. ($55)

(94) Girard Russian River Chardonnay 2011 (California). Delicious chardonnay from Russian River; fresh fruit on the nose with a beautiful vanilla undertone; light to medium in body; will pair well with all light to grilled foods. ($25)

(94) Domaine Renaud Macon Village Burgundy 2012 (France). Classic Old-world style chardonnay; very clean and crisp with rich minerality; lighter in style and very user- and food-friendly; perfect first white burgundy for the consumer. ($28)

(94) Montes Alpha Casablanca Valley Chardonnay 2012 (Chile). A bright gold, with the faintest hints of green, in the glass; tropical fruit notes dominate the nose, with a trace of oak; the mouthfeel is luxurious, with flavors that echo the nose; the finish is long, and lingering. ($23)

(94) Cline Big Break Zinfandel 2011 (California). Big and bold; the higher alcohol and extremely concentrated flavors offer up layer after layer to explore. ($25)

(93) Cosentino Barrel Select Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). This Cabernet exhibits a great deal of lush black and red fruit; the oak aging contributes spice and texture, making the wine more complex and complete; lots of weight, texture and delicious fruit add up to a well-crafted and balanced wine. ($50)

(93) Familia Zuccardi Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Argentina). From one of the premier family operations, in the Mendoza region, this is an outstanding example of what an Argentinean Cabernet can be; the grapes are sourced from vineyard over a half mile in altitude, contributing elegance and backbone; the concentrated black fruits on the nose and palate contribute to the complexity and richness, accented by spice; the extended finish is well balanced. ($20)

(93) Parallel Wines Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). An outstanding example of Napa Valley Cabernet; plenty of dark fruit on the nose and palate; dark in the glass, the richness of the wine makes it exceptionally appealing; an interesting brightness and spicy aspect to the wine; great with a wide variety of foods, or to enjoy on its own. ($72)

(93) Decoy Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). A blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot; alluring black cherry and raspberry jam aromas, as well as more subtle notes of nutmeg, spice and chocolate; on the palate, lovely layers of raspberry and plum are supported by excellent structure and seamlessly integrated oak. ($23) (Duckhorn)

(93) Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Aromas of dark cherry, red plum and blackberry are integrated with the spicy sweetness of oak, cedar, cinnamon, clove and toast; the body is full with a soft entry, coupled with dark cherry/berry flavors; great texture and mouthfeel, this Cabernet is full bodied, rich and opulent. ($42)

(93) Napa Wine Company Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). This single vineyard wine soars with extensive aromas and flavors of blackberries, leather, dried leaves, and baking spices. Its dazzling, graceful finish is backed up by fine grained tannins. ($42)

(93) Priest Ranch Somerston Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). Lots of bright fruit jumps from the glass; elegant and well balanced; long lingering finish. ($45)

(93) Parducci Small Lot Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). Parducci’s entry level Cabernet, which over-delivers; all oak aged, with Merlot and Petite Verdot added to the blend; fruit forward, with complex aromas of smoke, pepper and spice; great with BBQ. ($20)

(93) Chappellet Napa Chenin Blanc 2012 (California). Young and lively, with beautiful acidity; exotic hints of lychee, citrus, and guava underscore the rich minerality of mountain fruit. ($50)

(93) Rutherford Ranch Napa Chardonnay 2013 (California). Primarily fermented in stainless steel for great acidity and purity of fruit; aged sur lie in oak to add a creamy mouth feel; rich, elegant and always consistent; a great value for summer entertaining. ($25)

(93) MacMurray Estate Vineyards Sonoma Pinot Gris 2013 (California). From prime Sonoma locations, this pinot gris has plenty of clean, unoaked fruit, with plenty of weight and texture, so the wood is not missed; a great match for a wide range of grilled, smoked, and roasted dishes. ($20)

(93) Bruno Giacosa Roreo Arneis 2012 (Italy). From one of the world’s top Nebbiolo producers, this finely textured white is a surprise; weight and complexity add to its pedigree; the finish is long and elegant; a wine to enjoy with grilled fish, and other summer treats. ($30)

(93) Girard Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). A wonderful expression of bright, crisp and ripe sauvignon blanc; rich citrus and green apple flavors with a well-balanced, smooth finish; great for summer dishes. ($16)

(93) Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Gris 2013 (Oregon). Plenty of fruit, acidity and minerality; tangerine and pineapple on the nose; fresh peach, ripe pear and a hint of anise on the palate; mouth-coating; a lingering finish. ($17)

(93) Cousino-Macul Isidora Sauvignon Gris 2012 (Chile). Sauvignon gris is an old white Bordeaux variety, not widely planted there nowadays; in Maipo, it yields a lush, aromatic wine with mouth-watering flavors of peach, mango and nectarine; zesty acidity on the finish rounds it out. ($17)

(93) En Route Les Pommiers Russian River Pinot Noir 2010 (California). From Far Niente, beautiful and smooth; generous notes of cherry, strawberry and hints of vanilla; delightful and balanced. ($59)

(93) Thomas Fogarty Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir 2010 (California). A very pretty pinot noir with spices and dried cherries on the nose; structured yet succulent fruit sourced from seven vineyards from four distinct regions; the finish is long with a small hint of barrel spice; a very enjoyable wine. ($36)

(93) Michel Picard St. Aubin Rouge 1er Cru 2009 (France). The bouquet is light, but there are subtle yet exotic notes of fruit and spice in the background that keep you coming back; beautiful structure, balance and mouthfeel, and like the palate, the fruit flavors are a bit subdued, but in the fashion of Burgundian Pinot masters; outstanding depth and complexity. ($30)

(93) Cloisonne Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2012 (California). Aromas of red berries with full flavors of red cherries and spice; soft, smooth and silky finish; a great value. ($22)

(93) Valdivieso Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 (Chile). Bright color with aromas of blackberries, casis and sweet oak. Full bodied with flavors of dark rich berries followed by a long lingering finish. ($27)

(93) Dierberg, Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2009 (California). An absolutely stunning pinot noir that is 100% estate grown; elegant, well-integrated fruit and energetic acidity. ($35)

(93) Inman Family Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Brilliant ruby/garnet in the glass; the nose is dominated by red fruit, with notes of spice, and hints of cola; the palate is elegant, with red fruit, and high toned spices; the finish is very well balanced, with bright acidity contributing freshness. ($25)

(93) Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Horse Heaven Hills Chardonnay 2012 (Washington State). A medium yellow/gold in the glass, with great brightness; the nose is more dominated by tree fruit then any other component, with a nice touch of spice and oak; the palate is bright, clean, and fresh, with good weight; the finish maintains this balance for a long time. ($30)

(93) Pride Chardonnay 2011 (California). Lemon, crushed rocks, spices and white flowers all come to life in the glass; partially done in steel(15%) and the malo was not fully completed; two choices that show Pride moving towards a fresher, more vibrant style of chardonnay; superb. ($43)

(93) Whitehall Lane Carneros Chardonnay 2011 (California). Full-bodied and concentrated with a juicy core of apple, pear, zesty lemon and pineapple flavors that are intense and focused; excellent depth, finishing with a long, persistent aftertaste. ($30)

(93) Olivier Morin Constance Chitry Bourgogne Blanc 2011 (France). Chitry is west of Chablis and has the same Kimmeridgian soil; the classic minerality displayed in good Chablis shows here along with aromas and flavors of under-ripe apple, pear and citrus; excellent Bourgogne Blanc to pair with shellfish. ($20)

(93) Round Hill Chardonnay 2012 (California). Light to medium bodied, but surprisingly rich; minimal oak, citrus hints, with touches of vanilla, spice and butterscotch; perfect as a first chard for the beginner, but will surprise your friends in a blind tasting. ($15)

(93) Moniker Mendocino Chardonnay 2012 (California). The Russian River actually starts up in Mendocino; the primary source for this wine is the La Ribera vineyard, family owned on the banks of the river; viognier from Hopland, and a different lot of chardonnay are blended in and barrel fermented; great minerality, with pear and apple flavors; rich and creamy. ($22)

(93) Logan Chardonnay 2012 (California). From Talbott’s Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Logan delivers a food-friendly chardonnay with ripe peach, pear and hints of French Oak; subtle complexity develops with each tasty sip; try with lobster. ($19)

(93) Casa Lapostolle Grand Selection Casablanca Valley Chardonnay 2011 (Chile). A rich, buttery texture with hints of honey, apricot, peach, and citrus; a nuance of toasty oak rounds out the wine on the finish; stylistic and flavorful. ($14)

(93) Rombauer Napa Valley Zinfandel 2011 (California). Blackberry and spice aroma; blackberry, spice and peppery flavors; firm tannins, high alcohol, long finish. ($31)

(93) Klinker Brink Old Ghost Old Vine Zinfandel 2011 (California). A deep garnet color with rich aromas of brambleberry, exotic spice, botanical garden notes and cedar shavings; yields were a bit lower in 2011, resulting in rich concentration of color and flavor; delicious, dark fruits fill the palate and finish with a long, silky texture. ($45)

(93) Peter Franus Napa Valley Zinfandel 2009 (California). Balanced structured and elegant zinfandel from the Brandlin Vineyard; cherry, blackberry, and toasty oak; small production wine. ($35)

(93) Sbragia Family Vineyards La Promessa Dry Creek Sonoma Zinfandel 2010 (California). A nose like cherry pie; red and purple fruit aromas are followed by slightly smoky scents that border on French vanilla coffee; a big, fat red that’s soft, ripe and fleshy; silky tannins support spicy flavors of blueberry, black raspberry, black cherry and a finish that conveys subtle baking spice and vanilla nuances. ($35)

(93) Block 919 Dry Creek Zinfandel 2012 (California). Complex, offering ripe flavors of black cherry, raspberry, plum and wild berry that come together and finishes with a rich, long aftertaste. ($25)

(93) Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel 2011 (California). Made in the classic style with mid-palate acidity, dark cherry and raspberries and moderate alcohol; for the consumer that eschews the too-ripe style of zin. ($20)

(93) Cline Ancient Vines Contra Costa County Zinfandel 2011 (California). Intense aromas of lilac, rose petal, and spicy black fruit that lead to concentrated flavors of blackberry, currant, and wild plum along with notes of clove, allspice, and ‘cigar box’; the finish is long and zesty with lip-smacking sweet/tart acidity. ($17)

(93) Deux Amis Sonoma County Zinfandel 2009 (California). There are lovely notes of wildflower, berry, and plum with a hint of the ‘terroir’ of the vineyards of Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys; a Rhone-like earthy nuance that makes this a great match to lamb, game and grilled steak. ($20)

(93) Scott Harvey Amador County Mountain Selection Zinfandel 2010 (California). A classical Amador style; richly aromatic with ripe, concentrated flavors of blackberry and cherry preserves with hints of coffee and spice; balanced by supple tannins on the finish. ($20)

(93) Moss Roxx Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2010 (California). This wine is from 50-year-old vines; big and bold with flavors of raspberry, chocolate and spice. ($25)

(92) Moniker Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). Blending small amounts of Petite Sirah and Cabernet Franc to the base Cabernet Sauvignon adds a unique complexity, with layers of flavors; oak aging adds to the mix, with a beautiful perfumed nose, giving it an almost floral quality. ($33)

(92) Stonestreet Alexander Valley Monument Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). This wine is dark purple (almost black), with a mild but fresh bouquet that with time intensifies, displaying rich raspberry and blackberry jam aromas; full-bodied and plush but with plenty of tannin that keeps it firm; ripe red cherry, cranberry and raspberry join in on the palate; the finish is long, and some blueberry and light oak notes pop up in the aftertaste; the ample tannin may require a few more years to even out, but for now a grilled rib-eye will do perfectly. ($50)

(92) Taken Napa Valley Red Blend 2011 (California). A Cab-dominated (60%) blend with a beautiful bouquet that is structured and balanced, showing lovely oak notes mingling with a bevy of black and red fruit aromas and lovely undertones of baking spice; firm on the entry but the tannins are well-integrated so it stays smooth and supple throughout while still showing some heft; juicy red cherry and black cherry lead while lush black currant and plum compote are revealed in the finish. ($30)

(92) Wente Southern Hills Livermore Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot; aged 14 months in an oak/stainless steel program; lush blueberry aromas dominate the nose; beautiful balance of body and acidity; great finish. ($19)

(92) Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Dense currant and black cherry with easy spicy tannins on the finish; a winner, once again. ($25) (Treasury Wine Estates)

(92) Santa Isle Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Chile). Sourced from exclusive vineyards in the Maule Valley, this medium-bodied cabernet shows the classy, suave side of Chile; classic aromas of red fruit, spice box and sage with a very nice balance of ripe and savory flavors; outstanding value. ($20)

(92) Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). Small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot are added for complexity; aged in French and American oak for 14 months; rich aromas of plum, cassis and mocha complement rich spice, tobacco and coffee flavors; great value. ($22)

(92) Cross Springs Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (California). A graceful cabernet with concentrated black cherry, ripe currant and plum flavors with vanilla and spice overtones turning smooth and supple; an intense finish with a long, lingering aftertaste showing hints of oak. ($18)

(92) Marc Mondavi’s The Diving Rod Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). The rich plum and hints of blackberry are brought together with a very subtle hint of cocoa; a shining star to accompany a hearty meal, and a great value. ($18)

(92) Giesen Marlborough Pinot Gris 2013 (New Zealand). A pinot gris with lots of character; ready to enjoy from the first sip; great versatility and elegance make this a real winner from New Zealand. ($15)

(92) St. Francis White Splash (California). Full bodied and packed with sweet ripe fruit flavors; aromas of pear and citrus; finishes crisp. ($14)

(92) Loveblock Marlborough Pinot Gris 2011 (New Zealand). Crisp and clean, with lemon, Asian pear and melon flavors accented by spicy overtones; this features a medium body and great acidity. ($28)

(92) Banfi Principessa Gavia 2013 (Italy).Elegant, stylish and delicious; this clean, refreshing wine will pair with lots of great summer foods. ($15)

(92) Bodegas Val De Vid Condesa Eylo 2013 (Spain).A Spanish white with elegance, class and focus; almost all verdejo with a touch of sauvignon blanc, it has lots of clean bright citrus notes, and an extra long and balanced finish. ($13)

(92) Joseph Drouhin Vaudon Chablis 2012 (France).From one of Chablis’ most celebrated producers, this fruit and mineral driven example of great Chablis will bring many a customer back to the French chardonnay fold; class and style. ($21)

(92) Testarossa Santa Lucia Chardonnay 2012 (California). A refined chardonnay that features juicy flavors of pear, fig, vanilla and almonds; round and supple, it finishes with a racy acidity that provides excellent balance. ($35)

(92) Martin Ray Santa Cruz Reserve Chardonnay 2012 (California). A stylish chardonnay with flavors of pear, white flowers, baking spices and gentle minerals that all weave together effortlessly; a beautifully crafted wine with an expansive and long finish. ($30)

(92) Andronicus Napa Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). Exhibiting generous notes of grapefruit, melon, and wild flowers, this sauvignon blanc is both nuanced and complex; it finishes with an energetic precision and superb length. ($20)

(92) Domaine Pichot Vouvray 2012 (France). A beautiful vouvray with bright acidity and a rich mouthfeel; layers of flavor and a complex chenin blanc experience. ($22)

(92) Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (California). Crisp and refreshing with grapefruit, apple, lime and peach flavors and a bit of white pepper on the finish. ($22)

(92) Chehalem Three Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Gris (Oregon). This wine has very aromatic notes of white blossom and Asian pear with butterscotch attributing to the overall balance of the wine; on the palate, dried apricot, peach pit and rose petals; a pleasant acidity on the finish. ($24)

(92) Jorge Ordonez & Co. Botani Dry Muscat de Malaga 2012 (Spain). Dry, layered and great with food or as a cool summer sipper; orange blossoms, lemons, pineapple and mangos in the nose and on the palate; try with seafood, salads or spicy Thai and Indian dishes. ($16)

(92) Ziata Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (California). This is a ripe, fruit forward style of sauvignon blanc featuring aromas of peaches, citrus and wet stones; it’s round and mouth-filling with loads of stone fruit flavors, ripe red apple, peach and hints of honeydew melon. ($34)

(92) Willamette Valley Vineyards Eola-Amity Hills, Elton, Pinot Noir 2010 (Oregon). Earth and mineral notes drift in the bouquet and there is an underlying layer of ripe red berry and sweet currant; that mineral note opens the palate, providing a firm frame, and then it gets quite expansive, with ripe currant, cassis and boysenberry flavors; excellent balance and depth, a long finish and an aftertaste that is quite persistent; an admirable food partner for sure. ($50)

(92) David Bruce Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Aroma of cherries and blackberries, followed by flavors of cherries and blueberries; moderate tannins with a long finish. ($40)

(92) Martin Ray Santa Barbara Pinot Noir 2012 (California).Lush upfront red fruit mixes with baking spices, bramble and earth to produce this complex and charming wine; the knockout finish is smooth with a mouth-coating texture and an abundance of flavor. ($25)

(92) Thomas George Estates Starr Ridge Vineyard Russian River Sonoma Pinot Noir 2011 (California). This medium- to full-bodied pinot noir is ripe and concentrated with gorgeous aromas of strawberry blossom and cherry pie; tasty sweet spice flavors pirouette through a chorus of bold black cherry and strawberry flavors, before emerging in the lengthy finish. ($60)

(92) Peter Zemmer Rollütt Pinot Noir 2012 (Italy). From northern Italy, this is a great example of a wine produced in a region not familiar to many, for pinot noir; the wine is a bright ruby/garnet, with lovely red fruit and berries on the nose; in the mouth, the bright fruit and spice are in balance; an excellent value, for its class and elegance. ($16)

(92) Sonoma Loeb Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2012 (California). A beautiful wine with impeccable flavors of raspberries, tea, bramble and spicy cedar that are woven together; it finishes with great length, character and depth. ($50)

(92) Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2012 (Oregon). A wonderful controlled explosion of fruit and textures on the palate; bright Bing cherry complemented by savory plum; the flavors combine with some brightness on the mid-palate; a satisfying finish. ($25)

(92) Morgan Double L Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 (California). Hints of blackberry and oak on the nose with flavors of strawberry and black cherry; long, full finish; an outstanding wine. ($55)

(92) Heitz Cellars Chardonnay 2012 (California). Lots of citrus and melon with balanced acidity and a whisper of oak. ($21)

(92) Stasis Murmur Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 (California). Stunning chardonnay from California’s Santa Maria Valley; tiny production; great richness and complexity; nicely balanced. ($40)

(92) Mer Soleil Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2011 (California). Citrus aroma; citrus flavors with lemon predominating; hints of vanilla and honey; long finish. ($29)

(92) Qupe Y Block Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay 2012 (California). Great balance and bright acidity; crisp apple and Asian pear flavors with a lovely savory, buttered toast finish. ($23)

(92) Fontanelle Castello Banfi Chardonnay 2012 (Italy). Pale yellow in the glass, with straw hints; the nose is a balance of fresh fruit, tree and tropical, with notes of sweet oak; the palate is a reflection of the nose, with wonderful bright fruit, and good texture; the finish is quite long, with elegance and pedigree. ($20)

(92) Cloisonne Napa Valley Chardonnay 2012 (California). Tropical aromas jump from the glass; apple and citrus flavors lead to a near perfect finish with hints of oak; superb value. ($20)

(92) Domaine Roux Père & Fils Pouilly-Fuissé 2012 (France). A lighter, bright gold, in the glass; the nose is quite fresh, with notes of tree fruit, and hints of nuts and floral components; the palate is fresh, clean, and lively; very well integrated and balanced, this is a wine that is immediately satisfying, and can easily age for the mid-term. ($36)

(92) Ca’Momi Napa Valley Zinfandel 2012 (California). A soft, easy-to-enjoy style with nuances of blackberry, cherry, plum and spice; a hint of vanilla and clove on the finish with supple tannins; lovely and a great value. ($14)

(92) Federalist Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Sonoma Zinfandel 2010 (California). Plum, cherry aroma; plum, blackberry, cinnamon flavors; firm tannins, long finish ($27)

(92) Hartford Old Vine Russian River Valley Zinfandel 2011 (California). Made from vines that average over 85 years of age, the wine is a deep, inky ruby red; wild cherry and raspberry aromas are coupled with hints of rose, spiced tea and fennel; lively red and dark berry flavors pick up spiciness as the wine breaths; shows good length on the finish, which is enhanced by well grained tannins. ($38)

(92) Fritz Estate Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2011 (California). Exhibits seductive aromas of raspberries and toasty oak; there are delicious flavors of blackberries, spice, and black pepper which are well balanced by a focused, vibrant finish; a captivating California Zin. ($25)

(92) Five Vintners Dry Creek Zinfandel 2009 (California). An immaculately proportioned red with a perfumed nose of subtle ripe cranberry, dark cocoa, and a hint of wood smoke; medium to full-bodied, with a wonderful silkiness and polished flavors of boysenberry, raspberry syrup and wild cherry; long and elegant. ($25)

(92) Jeff Runquist Z Amador County Zinfandel 2011 (California). Blended with 18% Petite Sirah, this is a deep purple wine with red currants, raspberry and chocolate flavors with a velvety finish. ($26)

(92) Layer Cake Primitivo 2008 (Italy). Balance of fruit and pepper with almost a creamy texture; deep structure and warm rich fruit add to this powerful yet elegant powerhouse. ($17)


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