Wine recommendations

 

 

Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Merlot 2014 ($25). We loved the plush and generous black cherry and plum flavors in this delicious merlot. Hints of licorice and vanilla.

·         Concannon Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($40).  Generous aromas with plum and cassis notes, firm tannins, sweet vanillin oak and long finish make this powerful, age-worthy cab a treat. This iconic producer is celebrating its 135th anniversary.

·         Dutton Estate Kyndall’s Reserve-Dutton Ranch Chardonnay 2016 ($42). We liked the balance in this delicious chardonnay. It has lots of lush and ripe tropical fruit and apple flavors, thanks in part to whole-cluster pressing and malolatic fermentation. Hints of butterscotch and toasted oak.

·         Fort Ross Mother of Pearl Chardonnay 2015 ($60).  The fact that this chardonnay isn’t fined or filtered provides a pure fruit quality. Balanced, full-bodied and loaded with layers of fruit, including white peach and pear. The minerality in the background gives the wine a nice finish.

·         J. McClelland Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($45). Wow, what a mouthful. This great wine – a cross between elegance and power – is loaded with forward red berry flavors, a dash of tobacco and spice.

·         Chehalem Three Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 ($30). A great value from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, this gem has violet aromas with ripe black cherry flavors and a hint of spice.

·         Renato Ratti Battaglione Barbera 2016 ($20). Barbera in general is a grape that creates a medium-body, juicy wine that is simple enough to enjoy on its own or paired with equally simple foods, such as pasta. We like this DOCG version for its juicy cherry flavors and spice.

·         DuBoeuf Chateau De Saint-Amour Saint Amour 2015 ($24). St. Amour is one of Beaujolais 10 crus or villages that produce from the gamay grape the best and longest lasting wines from Beaujolais. Bright berry/cherry fruit with readily apparent tannins that should smooth out with time. Be patient.                                                                                

·         Thokozani SMV Wellington South Africa 2016 ($19.75). This is a very big expressive red wine produced from 85 percent shiraz grapes, 14 percent mourvedre and 1 percent viognier. The wine offers rich ripe complex elements of coffee, chocolate, ripe plum, berries and bacon in a wonderful pleasing wine mélange. A very good wine at an amazing price!                               

·         Concha y Toro Marques De Casa Concha Carmenere D.O. Cachapoal Valley Peumo Vineyard Chile 2016 ($20). A real engaging and delightful carmenere from Chile. An amazing value for the quality, this wine displays a cherry, chocolate nose and flavors with an intriguing note of herbs and black pepper.  

·         San Pedro 9 Lives Malbec Reserve Mendoza Argentina 2017 ($12-14). This is a very bold wine for bold foods. Very intense fruit flavors of berries and cassis with bold tannins that are appropriate for this wine. A great value! 


·         Gaja Sito Moresco Langhe 2015 ($50). From one of the most respected winemakers in Piedmont, this is largely a blend of nebbiolo and barbera with a dash of merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Very round in the mouth with sweet dark fruit and herbal notes. Very approachable, it is the latest in Gaja’s super blends.  

·         Freelance Wines Coup de Grace Red Blend 2015 ($30). From the Lodi region, this wine is a blend of old vine zinfandel, petite sirah, petit verdot and cabernet franc. Forward, soft mouthfeel with oodles of ripe black berry and plum flavors.  

·         Department 66 “Others” Red Wine 2015 ($25). David Phinney, the genius behind The Prisoner, has done it again. After falling in love with the sheer beauty of Maury in the Roussillon region (France’s Department 66), he bought a lot of old vine grenache, syrah, mourvedre and carignan to launch Department 66. These wines are BIG with silky tannins and complexity. We liked this red blend for its lavender and spicy nose and blueberry, plum, cocoa flavors. The Department 66 D66 2014 ($38) is also a stunner. Nice spice notes to complement the blueberry flavors and earthy character.  

 

  • Tapiz Alta Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($20). Made from grapes grown on high vineyards in Argentina's Uco Valley, this fruit-forward cabernet has a medium body and loads of luscious black berry flavors. It is made by Jean Claude Berrouet, former winemaker of Bordeaux's esteemed Petrus estate. Very good price for a wine that is not meant for aging. 

  • Educated Guess Red Blend 2016 ($20). Using cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah and merlot grapes from the North Coast, this simple but tasty blend is reasonably priced for a backyard barbecue. Black berry and dark cherry fruit. 

  • Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2016 ($22).  This exquisite wine from Chile shows off rich texture and mouth-filling pear and fig flavors. 

  • Ryder Estate Syrah 2016 ($18). Using grapes from California's Central Coast, this effusive and fruit-forward syrah unveils ripe blackberry fruit with a hint of mocha. 

  • Boutari Legacy 1879 2007 ($66). This premier wine honors the year this premier Greek wine producer was established. The grape variety xinomavro may not be familiar, but it shows you what can be done with local grapes in this region of the world. Complex and full bodied with red berry aromas and flavors with hints of vanilla and plum. Boutari is one of the best producers of Greek wines. 

  • Edmeades Zinfandel Mendocino County 2014 ($20). Edmeades is not your plump, jammy hedonistic, old-school zinfandel. Instead winemaker Dave Ready Jr. has stuck to Edmeades conservative style that is reminiscent of a well-made, food-friendl-. Berries and plum elements dominate in this very well-balanced table wine.  

  • Cote Mas Rouge Intense Sud De France 2016 ($13/1liter). A delightfully well-priced, uncomplicated blend of grenache, carignan, cinsault, merlot and syrah, aged only in stainless steel for 4 months and then bottled. Cherries and plums dominate with a wee touch of licorice. 

  • La Crema Pinot Noir Monterey 2016 ($23). La Crema consistently crafts good and reasonably priced pinot noirs from cool climate appellations. This offering from Monterey showcases a very refreshing pinot noir that delivers a tart, bright-acid style with a mélange of cherry, cranberry and a hint of rhubarb.  Very easy to drink but comes alive with fish and chicken dishes. 

·         Pacherhof Sylvaner Vigne Vecchie Alto Adige Valle Isarco DOC 2015 ($25). This old-vine sylvaner from Northern Italy is a delicious tropical fruit driven white wine with mild acidity is delicious by itself but would do best with fish dishes.

·         Niro Pecorino Abruzzo Terre di Chieti IGT 2016 ($17). No, this is not the ubiquitous pecorino cheese that pasta lovers sprinkle on their pizza and pasta, but the name of a white grape grown in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Although little known, this grape can make delicious white wines and this example is no exception. Beautiful bright tropical nose and flavors with ample acidity to accompany food. A nice long satisfying finish.

·         Olema Cotes de Provence Rosé 2017 ($16). Instead of making rosé from local grapes, the Amici team behind Olema travel regularly to Provence to produce this incredibly delicious wine – one the best of the year, in our opinion. The recipe is classic Provence: grenache, mourvedre, carignan fermented cold in stainless steel tanks. Pale in color and dry, it boasts vibrant raspberry and melon aromas followed by strawberry and black cherry flavors. Perfect balance with the right amount of acidity to keep it fresh yet fruity.

  • Miner Napa Valley Chardonnay 2016 ($32). Well balanced, this lush chardonnay has apple, melon and lime flavors with good acidity and oak-infused vanilla and toast notes.

  • Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Pinot Noir 2016 ($55). This lively Santa Maria Valley pinot noir has forward black cherry, strawberry jam flavors with a dash of caramel and vanilla. Very delicious.

·         Amici Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($50).  A 13 percent blend of cabernet franc, petit verdot, malbec and merlot rounds off this delicious, plump cabernet. We loved the ripe black cherry and coffee flavors with generous aromas of cassis, mocha and spice. Very long finish.

·         Olema Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($25). We have a friend who is loyally bound to this sister wine of Amici. Made by John Harris and Bob Shepard as reasonably priced, approached wines, Olema wines are good across the board. The cabernet sauvignon has cassis and cedar aromas with forward plum and toffee flavors and a hint of oak-infused vanilla and mocha.

·         Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2014 ($28). Murphy-Goode has a reputation for tasty wines at value prices and this beauty from Alexander Valley is no exception. Presenting an enticing nose and flavors of plum and cassis with a spicy edge and chocolate notes. Blended with 2 percent petite verdot, this wine is a pleasure to drink and would pair beautifully with grilled beef.

·         Frescobaldi Alie Rosé Toscana IGT 2017 ($20). Crafted from mostly syrah with a touch of vermentino this delicious rosé really delivers. Enticing light pink color with mouth-watering cherry and strawberry notes, this wine finishes with lively acidity.

·         Willakenzie Estate Rosé Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2107 ($23). This is a big bold rosé. Strawberry and watermelon with a bit of strawberry dominate the nose and taste of this very well-crafted rosé.

MORE ROSES 

  • Beronia Rioja Rose 2017 ($13). Floral aromas and bright strawberry, peach flavors abound in this blend of garnacha, tempranillo and viura. More creamy in texture than most roses. 

  • Stoller Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rose 2017 ($25). This Oregon producer does a good job with just about every wine, but we love the rose for its fresh and lively fruit. Watermelon and strawberry notes mingle with bright acidity. 

  • Gran Moraine Yamhill-Carlton Rose of Pinot Noir 2017 ($28). If there is one pinot noir to discover this year, it's the Gran Moraine. Delightfully eloquent with a Provence-like appeal, it has a delicate coral color, exquisite cherry, watermelon and tangerine flavors and balanced acidity.  A very nice package. 

  • Protea South Africa Rose 2017 ($18).  An excellent Provence-esque rose from the coastal region of South African, this unique wine is a blend of mourvedre, syrah, cinsault and grenache. Bright cherry and strawberry flavors with a dash of citrus. 

  • Julia's Dazzle Rosé of Pinot Gris 2017 ($20). This is the first rosé made from pinot gris grapes that we've tasted. Surprisingly, it's good. The bottle is worth the price of the wine itself. From the Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Washington state, it has strawberry and melon notes. 

  • Cashmere California Rosé 2017 ($12). From the Cline Family Cellars, this is an unusual blend of zinfandel and primitivo from Contra Costa. Watermelon aromas and fresh strawberry flavors. 

  • Belleruche Cotes du Rhone Rosé ($15). A deep blend of grenache, syrah and cinsault, this bright and bold rosé has easy strawberry flavors and balanced acidity. 

  • Murietta's Well Dry Rose 2016 ($30). A Provence blend of grenache and counoise grapes, this spirited rose has rich red berry and melon flavors and balanced acidity. 

  • Decoy Rose California 2017 ($20). This interesting blend of syrah, vermentino, carignan and pinot noir has fresh grapefruit and strawberry notes with a hint of mineral. 

  • Simi Sonoma County Rosé 2017 ($18). We like the pink tone of this exquisite rosé from Simi. Watermelon and strawberry flavors dominate the palate with hints of tangerine. 

  • Tres Chic Rosé, Sud de France 2017 ($17). Made predominantly from grenache, this dry version has strawberry and raspberry notes with floral aromas. 

  • Erath Rose of Pinot Noir 2017 ($14). Very fresh with good acidity, nectarine aromas and stone-fruit, berry flavors. 

  • Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Riserva "Bucerchiale" DOCG 2012 ($35). Wow, is this isn't your usual chianti. Think big, ala barolo. Made entirely of sangiovese from the estate's best and oldest site, the Bucerchiale is made only in the best years. Loads of concentrated black cherry and plum flavors with big tannins and promises of future aging.  There is a lot of wine here for the price, if you want to start a cellar. 

  • Anaba Wines Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2015 ($36). Those who like oak flavors in their chardonnay will surely enjoy this delicious gem. Opulent mouthfeel with ripe tropical fruit and hints of butterscotch, vanilla and coconut.  

  • La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2015 ($40). A reasonable price for a top-drawer pinot noir, you get a lot of complexity here. Classic of La Crema, there are a lot of grower and estate vineyards that contribute to a tasty wine. Dark cherry and currant flavors with hints of chocolate and espresso. 

  • Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($20). Looking for a decent cabernet sauvignon for the right price that is ready to drink? Look no farther. Blended with merlot, petite sirah and cabernet franc, it isn't your collector's wine. Lots of dark fruit flavors with lush mouthfeel, a bit of sweetness and hints of mocha and vanilla. 

 

·         E5 ($20). This is another version in Dave Phinney's "Locations" portfolio. The concept he created was to blend grapes across a broad region, such as an entire country or state. "E" is for Espana and is a blend of garnacha, tempranillo, monastrell and carinena from five Spanish regions. It has copious plum and black cherry flavors with hints of vanilla.

·         Provenance Vineyards Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($49). Using all of the Bordeaux grape varieties, this quaffable blend has ripe blackberry and cassis flavors with hints of chocolate and spice.

·         Clos du Val Napa Valley Estate Chardonnay 2016 ($32). Barrel fermented, this gorgeous chardonnay from the Carneros region has a lot of complexity and textural luxury. Peach aromas with apple and stone-fruit flavors, plus hints of spice and vanilla.

Canvasback Red Mountain Grand Passage Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($80). We couldn't believe the depth and endless layers of flavors in this concentrated, unblended cabernet sauvignon from Washington state's Red Mountain. Sampled in a flight of premium cabs, it soared.

·         Sonoma-Loeb Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2016 ($45). This Sonoma producer is making very good chardonnay and pinot noir wines these days. We liked this single-vineyard pinot for its smooth, ripe black cherry flavors with hints of espresso and anise.     

·         Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2016 ($30).  From the Willamette Valley, this perennial favorite of ours has great balance with luscious strawberry and cherry fruit flavors, dash of spice and an earthy finish.

·         Inman Family OGV Estate Pinot Noir 2015 ($73). We just love the wines from Kathy Inman because they are so well balanced. Even this reserve from Olivet Grange Vineyard isn't overblown with extracted, bold fruit like so many pinots. Instead, it is refined with red berry notes, that umami character and hints of pomegranate and herbs. Very long finish with a dash of mineral.

 

  • J Vineyards & Winery Russian River Valley Cuvee 20 ($38).  This delicious sparkling wine has a beautiful label and a vibrant character. Mostly chardonnay, it shows off delicate apple and almond notes. 

  • Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2014 ($38). We loved this deliciously vibrant but serious Tuscan wine. It is a tantalizing blend of 85 percent prugnolo gentile, 15 percent colorino, canaiolo and merlot. It's a wine to put against meat, but also a wine that can easily last a decade. We also were impressed with the Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano "Asinone" for $60 that is almost entirely sangiovese. It is incredibly intense and complex – a sangiovese for the ages. 

  • Rutherford Ranch Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($50). Winemaker Jay Turnipseed says the next chapter for Rutherford Ranch is to step up the premium wines and this is a good start. With fruit from Oak Knolls, the wine is well balanced with omen of longevity. Forward black cherry and cassis fruit with hints of chocolate and vanilla. 

  • Goldeneye Confluence Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2015 ($84). More elegant and refined than the Gowan Creek pinot noir, the Confluence Vineyard broadcasts wide red berry aromas and fresh strawberry and cherry fruit flavors 

  • Ravenswood Big River Zinfandel 2015 ($40). One of several single-vineyard zinfandels from this top zin producer, Big River has a supple mouthfeel and juicy blackberry and plum fruit flavors. Ravenswood is a leader in complex, chewy zins that can match up with the most daunting dishes. 

·         Le Vigne Winery Sangiovese Estate Paso Robles 2014 ($37). This is a deep rich sangiovese with a complex fruit mélange of plum, cherry, and blackberries. Some spice notes along with a bit of oak complete the very appealing package.                                                                                 

·         J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon Hilltop Paso Robles 2014 ($35). J. Lohr is a quality producer of red wines from Paso Robles. Classic cassis and black cherry notes with just a hint of oak make this a great package.                                                                        

·         St. Supery Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2015 ($45). Effusive blast of cherry aroma with pure delicious cherry fruit flavors in the mouth with a touch of oak. A classic pure fruit driven California cabernet sauvignon.                                                                                                        

SPECIAL ROSES

  • Beronia Rioja Rose 2017 ($13). Floral aromas and bright strawberry, peach flavors abound in this blend of garnacha, tempranillo and viura. More creamy in texture than most roses. 

  • Protea South Africa Rose 2017 ($18).  An excellent Provence-esque rose from the coastal region of South African, this unique wine is a blen d of mourvedre, syrah, cinsault and grenache. Bright cherry and strawberry flavors with a dash of citrus. 

  • Julia's Dazzle Rosé of Pinot Gris 2017 ($20). This is the first rosé made from pinot gris grapes that we've tasted. Surprisingly, it's good. The bottle is worth the price of the wine itself. From the Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Washington state, it has strawberry and melon notes. 

  • Cashmere California Rosé 2017 ($12). From the Cline Family Cellars, this is an unusual blend of zinfandel and primitivo from Contra Costa. Watermelon aromas and fresh strawberry flavors. 

  • Belleruche Cotes du Rhone Rosé ($15). A deep blend of grenache, syrah and cinsault, this bright and bold  rosé has easy strawberry flavors and balanced acidity.

  • Murietta's Well Dry Rose 2016 ($30). A Provence blend of grenache and counoise grapes, this spirited rose has rich red berry and melon flavors and balanced acidity. 

  • Decoy Rose California 2017 ($20). This interesting blend of syrah, vermentino, carignan and pinot noir has fresh grapefruit and strawberry notes with a hint of mineral. 

OTHER WINES

·         Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir 2015 ($19).  It's clear to see why this region is becoming as known for its pinot noirs as its sauvignon blanc. This value wine has elegance, simplicity and long-lasting cherry and raspberry flavors. 

·         Sonoma-Loeb Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 ($30). From one of the most-desired vineyards in Carneros, this oaky chardonnay surpasses its price point. Generous citrus aromas are followed by richly textured tropical fruit flavors and abundant, oak-inspired flavors of vanilla and clove. This chardonnay is for those who like their chardonnays buttery and oaky. 

·         Landmark Vineyards Grand Detour Pinot Noir 2016 ($35). Black cherry and raspberry flavors with an earthy feel and hints of leather and tobacco. 

·         Goldeneye Confluence Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2015 ($84). This complex single-vineyard pinot noir broadcasts wide red berry aromas and fresh strawberry and cherry fruit flavors. 

·         Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Pinot Noir California 2016 ($17). While not overly complex this pinot noir delivers a very appealing quaffable red wine with pleasant cherry and spice notes in a rich, round package.    

·         Pfendler Vineyards Chardonnay 2015 ($38). This was an easy winner in a tasting flight of a half-dozen chardonnays we recently tasted. Well balanced with lush lemon curd, green apple and sweet vanillin oak. 

·         Aaron Petite Sirah Paso Robles 2014 ($48). This is a massively intense red wine that that will fill your mouth with wonderful berry and spice flavors. Known around the world as durif, petite sirah is the result of a chance crossing of the peloursin and syrah grapes in France. Today it has found a home in California, where it even has a fan club “P.S. I Love You” that advocates for the grapes recognition. Try this full-throttle 15.6-percent alcohol wine if you want to see what petite sirah can produce.                     

·         Provenance Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($26). Delicious grapefruit and pineapple flavors with a kiss of oak to give it more weight and dimension. Semillon and muscat are blended into the wine to round off the edges and add more layers of fruit. 

·         Montes Alpha Carmenere DO Colchaugua Valley Chile 2013 ($25). This excellent example of carmenere offers a lot of complexity and interest. The carmenere presents notes of luscious ripe plum, berry and violets, with a peppery finish. A lot of complexity and enjoyment in this wine.                         

·         Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($12). Matua has come with an ingenious method to show on the bottle the proper serving temperature. Called "Chill Check,"a thermographic label changes color with temperature. A snowflake appears when it hits the ideal temperature. A Ta Moko symbol, a tattoo of the face or body, also darkens. The wine is classic New Zealand with pineapple, citrus and grass notes.

·         Rodney Strong Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($35). This easy-drinking cabernet, blended with a dash of malbec, is always reliable for the price. Deep color, ripe plum and blackberry flavors with hints of mocha and spice.

·          La Crema Arroyo Seco Chardonnay 2015 ($30). Exotic flavors of extracted papaya, apricot and tangerine make this a delicious quaff for seafood dinners or just sipping. 

·         Columbia Winery Red Blend 2015 ($14). This is a good value from Washington's Columbia Valley. Merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and malbec combine to deliver a forward, soft mélange of berry fruit flavors and hints of vanilla and spice.

·         Grgich Hills Estate Fume Blanc Napa Valley 2015 ($31). This producer takes sauvignon blanc to a new level with a complex palate of layered tropic fruit and mineral flavors.

·         Cliff Lede Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($78). Winemaker Christopher Tynan shows what Stags Leap vineyards can produce in both power and finesse. Generous red and black fruit character with a bit of cassis, leather and mineral. It's the classic iron fist in a velvet glove.

·         River Road Mills Cuvee Chardonnay 2016 ($30). From the Green Valley of Russian River Valley this complex chardonnay has elegance and richness with stone fruit flavors and a creamy, oaky finish.

·         Rodney Strong Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($35). This easy-drinking cabernet, blended with a dash of malbec, is always reliable for the price. Deep color, ripe plum and blackberry flavors with hints of mocha and spice.

·         La Crema Arroyo Seco Chardonnay 2015 ($30). Exotic flavors of extracted papaya, apricot and tangerine make this a delicious complement to seafood dinners or just sipping. 

·         Columbia Winery Red Blend 2015 ($14). This is a good value from Washington's Columbia Valley. Merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and malbec combine to deliver a forward, soft combination of berry fruit flavors and hints of vanilla and spice.

·         Ruca Malen Argentina Brut N/V ($28). We don’t often see sparkling wine from Argentina but after tasting this beauty maybe we should. Made in the traditional “method champenoise” perfected in the Champagne region of France, this 75 percent pinot noir, 25 percent chardonnay bubbly presents lovely pear and apple fruit notes with a bit of a brioche nose and flavor, and a long creamy finish.                                                                                                                               

·         Le Vigne Winery Sangiovese Estate Paso Robles 2014 ($37). This is a deep, rich sangiovese with a complex mélange of plum, cherry, and blackberries. Some spice notes along with a bit of oak complete the very appealing package. Drink with spicy barbecue or roasted meats.                                                                                                                         

 

·       Steele Writer's Block Cabernet Franc 2015 ($17).  This reasonably priced cabernet franc delivers a lot of fruit for the buck. Simple and medium-bodied, it is an easy drink with plum and raspberry notes. 

·       Bodega Classica Lopez de Haro Crianza 2015 ($15). Another good value, this Rioja tempranillo has enticing aromas of ripe dark cherry fruit, licorice and balsamic. Round and ripe dark berry flavors. 

·       Evodia Old Vine Garnacha ($9). We rave about this wine because of its value. Made from grenache grapes grown on 100-year-old vines in the Calatayud region of Spain, it evokes blackberry pie, plums and cherries. 

·       Proyecto Garnachas de Espana La Garnacha 2016 ($12). From the Moncayo region, this garnacha has cherry and wild berry notes with a dash of clove and tobacco. Round, delicious and medium bodied. 

·       Paraduxx Howell Mountain Napa Valley Red Wine 2014 ($80). Very dense and rich, this blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah and zinfandel breaks the mold. Deep black cherry and ripe blackberry flavors with a dash of mocha. 

·       Binomio Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva 2015 ($50). Binomio is an ancient clone of Montepulciano and produces small berries. Stefano Inama and Sabatino di Properzio restored a vineyard with these grapes to produce this extraordinary wine. Extracted, rich blackberry and strawberry flavors with a ripe tannins and long finish. 

·       Chateau des Cres Ricards Oenothera Languedoc 2015 ($25). From winemaker Jean-Claude Mas, this fabulous blend of syrah and grenache noir exudes luxury. It has spicy, mocha aromas and blackberry, currant flavors with a good dose of licorice on the finish. Full bodied. 

·       Clos du Val Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($30).  This not-so-simple sauvignon blanc has lots going for it: a generous and soft mouthfeel, balanced acidity, layered citrus and grapefruit flavors.

·       Godelia Godello-Dona Bianco 2015 ($17). We are always looking for unique wines and were delighted to discover this gem from the Bierzo appellation in Spain.  The godello and dona bianco old-vine grapes create a wine that has the rich texture of chardonnay but the crisp acidity and mineral qualities of sauvignon blanc. We tasted stone fruit and citrus.

·       Paraduxx Napa Valley Proprietary White 2016 ($32). The dominant grape in this racy white blend is viognier, which accounts for the wine's enticing aromas of apple and orange blossom. The rest of the blend – chardonnay, roussanne and marsanne – provide additional aromatics, texture and peach/pear flavors.

·       Frei Brothers Sonoma Reserve Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($27). A good value in the reserve cabernet category, this wine is blended with a bit of merlot and petite sirah to create a well-rounded, delicious wine with forward dark-fruit flavors and soft tannins.

 Perfusion Vineyard San Francisco Bay Pinot Noir 2014 ($40). You don't often see a wine from this AVA, located along the western side of Contra Costa County, but this micro-batch producer has a winner. Ripe, forward cherry and raspberry flavors with hints of vanilla and spice.

·         Herdade do Rocim Olho de Mocho Branco 2014 ($30).  This unique white wine from Portugual made from the native antao vaz grapes is a delicious mouthful. Round in the mouth with citrus aromas and pineapple flavors.

·         Star Lane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($50).  Who wouldn't want to drink wine from a place called Happy Canyon? Relatively new as a Santa Barbara wine region, Happy Canyon is the source of this delicious, medium-bodied cabernet. Plum and dark berry fruit with dried herbal aromas.

·         Chateau Maucamps Haut Medoc 2009 ($28). This crus bourgeois from the Haut Medoc is pure pleasure. Honestly, it's been a long time since we have tasted something so delicious for a cru bourgeois. Made from cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot, it has effusive black currant aromas and extracted, juicy dark berry flavors.  It's drinking well now.

·         Olema Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($23). Well priced for what you get, this rich and tannic Sonoma County cabernet sauvignon has broad dark berry notes with hints of mocha and vanilla. It is an inexpensive wine to cellar for a few years.

·         Rodney Strong Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($40). Ripe and fruit forward flavors of blackberries and currants with oak-influenced hints of caramel, vanilla and spice.

·         Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Pinot Noir 2014 ($26). Using grapes from Monterey and Santa Barbara counties, the winemaker has created a well-rounded pinot noir with black cherry and strawberry flavors with a hint of sweet vanillin oak.