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2011 Wine in Review
updated: Dec 24, 2011, 9:00 AM
By Marc Liberts
In 2011, I had the opportunity to taste over 500 different wines and I was able
to report my findings on the majority of them. Most of the tastings I reported
on this year were the result of Spiritland Bistro's Wine & Dine events held in
Santa Barbara on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, that series came to an end last
month after nearly 4 continuous years. The principal organizer of the event is
attempting to re-organize the event at a different venue in the future. I will
report on that as the information becomes available.
Even though I love wine, I do not drink it regularly. I am the type of person
that only drinks wine when I am out dining with friends. I rarely drink it at
home, and my wife does not generally enjoy it. I have worked in the wine
industry in the past, and I volunteer at wineries which need help during their
harvests and when they are bottling. If you are interested in learning more
about wine, the best way is to contact your favorite wineries, get to know the
people that work there, and volunteer to work with them. The next best way to
learn about wine is to attend events where many wines are being poured so you
can compare and contrast them.
Living here in Santa Barbara offers wine lovers like me the opportunity to enjoy
some of the best wines and winemaking in the world - mainly because it is going
on right in our back yard. From Santa Barbara, drive 30 minutes up Highway 154,
and you are in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley. Producers such as Beckmen,
Zaca Mesa, Rusack, Brander, Jaffurs, Tensley, and Margerum are making world
class Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc there. In fact, Rusack, Sans Liege, and Margerum
all cracked Wine Spectators's Top 100 list of most interesting wines this year!
From Santa Barbara, you can also drive 45 minutes up Highway 101 and end up in
the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. Most of the producers in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto are
producing world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Sta. Rita Hills area.
The Sta. Rita Hills are located generally all along Highway 246. The region runs
along Highway 246, starting at about Highway 101 and ending at Highway 1. When
you visit the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, you should try Loring, Zotovich, Brewer-
Clifton, Ampelos, Sanford, Alma Rosa, Melville, Dierberg, Longoria, Arcadian,
and Evening Land. Loring and Evening Land both had wines that cracked Wine
Spectators's Top 100 list of most interesting wines this year (although neither
were grown here in Santa Barbara County). Still, the wine-making skill is right
here in our back yards!
From Santa Barbara, you can also drive 45 minutes up Highway 101, and then exit
at Highway 154 and then wind your way up Foxen Canyon Road and explore the Santa
Maria Valley and the Foxen trail. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Santa Maria
Valley are getting more and more attention these days from critics and wine
drinkers alike. This year I tried some wonderful Pinot Noirs from the Santa
Maria Valley made by Bonaccorsi, Longoria, Dierberg, Byron, and Au Bon Climat.
For the truly adventurous and for those who love a nice drive, Paso Robles is an
excellent wine region for those who love wines of the Rhone, such as Syrah and
Grenache. From Santa Barbara, you can get on the 101 and drive north for about
two hours and land right in the heart of Paso Robles. This year, I had some
excellent wines from Paso Robles, including wines made by Piedrasassi (who's
tasting room is in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto), Denner, Alban, Saxum, Terry Hoage,
Epoch, and Tablas Creek.
Finally, I had a chance to try about 65 of this year's 2011 Wine Spectator's Top
100 Most Exciting Wines this weekend. This is considered one of the most
prestigious lists to be on, and having your wine selected to be on this list is
a great honor for any winery. The wines on this list are not the most highly
rated wines of the year. Most of the highest rated wines are either impossible
to get because they are only available by being in a club or on a list, very low
production and therefore impossible to get, or priced out of the range of most
reasonable wine consumers. To be sure, there were a bevy of 97-100 point rated
wines in 2011 that were reviewed by Wine Spectator, but the majority of those
wines were either unobtainable or prohibitively expensive. Wine Spectator's Top
100 Most Exciting Wines of 2011 represented a list of wines that were rated over
90 points, were readily available, and represented excellent examples of either
the place they were from or the type of grape that the wine was made from.
California did exceptionally well this year, and wines from our regions (Santa
Barbara & Paso Robles) were well represented this year. Denner in Paso Robles
landed at #11 for their 2008 Dirt Worshipper ($45). Rusack landed at #27 with
their 2008 Syrah - Santa Barbara County ($25). Sans Liege landed at #34 with The
Offering - Santa Barbara County 2008 ($25). Tablas Creek landed at #37 with
their Côtes de Tablas - Paso Robles 2009 ($30). Evening Land landed at #51 with
their Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills - Seven Springs Vineyard La Source 2009 ($60).
Saxum landed at #52 with their James Berry Vineyard - Paso Robles 2008 ($70).
Loring landed at #75 with their Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2009 ($29). And
Margerum landed at #82 with his Sauvignon Blanc - Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
Sybarite 2010 ($21).
Of the 60 wines from the Wine Spectator's Top 100 Most Exciting Wines of 2011
list I was able to try over the weekend, all were generally excellent. My
favorite was DARIOUSH (#63), Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2007 - delicious
and multi-layered flavors exploding on the palate. Not over oaked. My second
favorite was the AYALA (#77), Brut Champagne Majeur NV - sublime and delicious,
featuring yeasty brioche and tight fruit. My third favorite was MOUNT EDEN
VINEYARDS (#13) Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains 2008 - a beautiful perfumed nose
with delicious fruit, hazelnut, and great minerality.
Below is a list of all of the major wines I tried and reviewed in 2011. They are
in chronological order of when I tasted them in 2011. Enjoy!
2011 WINES REVIEWED:
ROBERT MONDAVI WINERY 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - had a gamy, caramel,
and meaty nose. On the palate, this was balanced, light, and had a mild finish.
A good effort which I rated 90 points. $20.00 at Costco.
CAYMUS 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - pretty nose that is woodsy, earthy
and has nice perfume. On the palate it is plush, dusty, spicy and has a very
persistent mocha and bittersweet chocolate flavor profile. My favorite of the
flight that I rated 92 points. $60.00 at Costco.
HALL 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - marzipan and spice on the nose. On
the palate it is balanced and pleasant. Everyone liked it and rated it 91
points. $45.00 on line if you can still find it.
FOXEN 7200 Cabernet Sauvignon Vogelzang Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley 2006. This
wine was unfortunately corked so we didn't rate it.
DOUBLE DIAMOND Red Hills Lake Country, Amber Knolls Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 - has a nose of caramel, chocolate and wet forest. On the palate it is
plush and full-bodied. I liked it and rated it 90 points. $60.00 on-line.
LA MADRID Single Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Agrelo-Argentina, 2009 - has a
spicy caramel nose featuring dark chocolate and black cherries. Pleasant and
balanced on the palate. Overall, a really nice wine I found at Costco for
$9.99. We rated it 89 points.
CHATEAU HAUT-BERGEY, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux 2006 - graphite and nice fruit on
the nose. Decent fruit and spice on the palate with a nice finish. A well-made
wine that everyone enjoyed. I rated it 89 points. $30.00 at fine wine stores.
ROBERT CRAIG 2007 Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon - mocha, berry and
mossy on the nose. Good minerality and nice fruit on the palate. Very well
made wine that everyone liked. I rated it 92 points. $70.00 at fine wine
BIBI GRAETZ Toscana Testamatta 2006 - pretty licorice, chocolate and spice on
the nose. Chocolate and fruit on the palate that is nicely layered. Very nice
wine but features the Sangiovese grape. Not rated. About $120.00 if you can
find it on-line.
STAR LANE 2005 Astral, Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley - Nice spice and
black fruit nose with slight leather and tar. Black fruits persist on the
palate with nice tannins and a long finish. A very nice wine I rated 91 points.
$100.00 at the winery or fine wine stores.
BRICCO BUON NATALE 2001 Santa Barbara County BARBERA (produced and bottled by
Jim Clendenen) - this wine was unfortunately stinky and corky on the nose, and
worse on the palate. Unfortunately, we discovered the wine was corked once we
tasted it. No rating.
PELISSERO MUBIOLA 2006 BARBARESCO - a light Barbaresco that smelled iffy in the
glass and also tasted spoiled. Another corked wine. No rating.
BRICCO DEL CUCU - 2007 DOLCETTO DI DOGLIANI - this is one of the wines I
purchased from an on-line retailer. It was rated about 90 points by a major wine
critic and was priced under $20.00. We found the nose to be quiet and closed. On
the palate, I tasted interesting raisins, dried cherries, and black olives. We
liked the balance between the fruit and acid on this wine, and agreed that this
would pair well with food. There are pleasant, soft tannins present as well. A
nicely balanced wine, I rated it 88 points. I think this wine would be much
better in a few years. Being rated about 90 points by a major critic, we used
this Dolcetto as our benchmark when evaluating the other Dolcettos of the
2008 MICHELE CHIARLO BARBERA D'ASTI SUPERIORE "LE ORME" - another of the wines I
brought. It was also rated about 90 points by a major wine critic, and was
priced under $15.00. This wine also had a closed nose, but had nice flavors of
dried cherries and spice on the palate with a decent finish. This wine was
fairly acidic, but the acid was well balanced with the fruit, and this is also a
good wine to pair with food. We both liked this wine and rated it 89 points.
Again, being rated about 90 points by a major critic, we used this Barbera as
our benchmark when evaluating the other Barberas of the evening.
2007 ALMONDO ROERO NEBBIOLO - another of the wines I purchased from an on-line
retailer which was rated about 90 points by a major wine critic and was priced
under $20.00. This wine had a pleasant fruity nose. On the palate, we got
cherries, raisins, coffee and spice. We agreed that this wine was a bit too
young right now, and would probably be much better after a few more years.
Another wine we both liked and rated 89 points. We used this Nebbiolo as a
benchmark when evaluating the other Nebbiolos of the evening.
MAURO VEGLIO LANGHE NEBBIOLO "ANGELO" 2003 - This wine had a quiet but pleasant
nose featuring fruit and petroleum distillates. On the palate, we found this
wine to be nicely fruity with a very nice balance against its high acidity. The
tannins were soft, and the wine had a long, persistent finish. One of our
favorites of the night, we rated it 91+ points. I think the additional years of
bottle age really helped this wine reach its potential.
SERRA 2008 BARBERA D'ALBA "PAITIN" - On the nose, this wine displays nice fruit
and some sage. On the palate, you get a well-balanced mix of red berry fruits
and acid with a shot of herbs. A pleasant wine that would pair well with food,
we liked it and rated it 90 points.
NINER 2006 BARBERA - BOOTJACK RANCH - PASO ROBLES - This wine shows big fruit on
the nose and as you'd expect from a Paso wine, the big fruit extends onto the
palate. Big raisins and extracted fruit dominate the acid and tannins on this
wine, and we enjoyed tasting it. We agreed that this wine would be better for
sipping than pairing with food. We rated it 88 points.
RUFFINO 'IL DUCALE' TOSCANA 2006 - Being from Tuscany, this wine was outside of
the parameters of the tasting. However, I was interested to try this Sangiovese
- Merlot blend. This wine has a pleasant, fruity nose and is very nice on the
palate. It is soft, with nice fruit and spice balanced against the acid. Overall
a very enjoyable wine which was a nice comparision against its more acidic
Piedmont neighbors. I liked it very much and rated it 89 points. A good wine to
pair with food in my opinion.
2007 BARBERA DEL MONFERRATO 'LA CASACCIA' - on the nose, this wine shows sawdust
and dusty earth. On the palate, we tasted hints of eucalyptus, dried red
cherries and light tar. A very nice wine that also is food friendly, we rated
it 91 points.
SANTA BARBARA WINERY 2005 STOLPMAN NEBBIOLO - fruity on the nose, this wine is
fairly acidic and very fruit forward. A bit awkward and out of balance compared
to its Piedmont counterparts, we rated it 85 points.
ANNA MARIA ABBONA 2008 ‘SORI DU BUT' DOLCETTO DI DOGLIANA - An interesting
Dolcetto that has a very closed nose and nice persimmons and red fruit on the
palate. This wine is slightly less acidic than the others we tried. Overall a
nice wine which we rated 87 points.
BAROLO 2005 ‘LA LOGGIA' - the first Barolo of the evening showed big raisins and
dark fruits on the nose. On the palate, the fruit is big featuring strawberry
flavors. The wine has nice tannins and a big finish. A very enjoyable wine
that we both liked and rated 91+ points.
BRICCOTONDO BARBERA 2008 ‘FONTANAFREDDA' - on this nose, this wine exhibits
interesting sage and fruit aromas. On the palate, ripe blackberries and mild
spices balance nicely with the acid. Overall an enjoyable wine which we both
enjoyed and rated 90 points.
MANDOLINA TOCCATA 2008 DOLCETTO SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - fruity on the nose, this
wine has nice fruity flavors on the palate. I also liked the vanilla and
caramel flavors as well. Atypical compared to the Italian Dolcettos, but
enjoyable nonetheless. I liked it and rated it 88 points.
PALMINA 2009 DOLCETTO - very fruity on the nose and a fruit bomb on the palate!
A fun wine to try but a bit out of balance due to the excessive fruit. Very
different compared to the Italian Dolcettos which are much more acidic and have
better balance. We rated this 85 points.
HUNT CELLARS 2001 PASO ROBLES STARVING ARTIST VINEYARD BARBERA - this wine
starts with a nose that exhibits big raisins and earthy herbs. On the palate,
the raisins dominate and overwhelm the acid. A fun wine to sip that I don't
think would pair with food. We enjoyed it and rated it 86 points.
PALMINA 2008 BARBERA SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - the aroma of menthol is present on
the nose along with fruit. The wine has nice strawberries on the palate with
very mild tannins and low acidity. Another atypical Barbera compared with its
Piedmont counterparts. We rated it 86 points.
CAVATAPPI RED WILLOW VINEYARD 1995 MADDALENA WASHINGTON STATE NEBBIOLO - I gave
Bernie a hard time about this wine because it comes from Washington State. I was
reminded that the theme of this wine was Piedmont varietals produced anywhere.
So I apologize to Bernie for the verbal ribbing I heaped on him. This wine has
a nice nose of prunes and perfume. On the palate, the wine is fruity and
creamy, and the fruit and acid are in very good balance. The tannins are sweet
and velvety, and this wine has a very nice persistent finish. An excellent wine
that yet again shows how great wines can be when aged. I really liked it and
rated it 93 points. This is a rare wine that probably can't be found easily. I
do commend and laud Bernie for finding great wines and having the patience and
wisdom to cellar them appropriately for the necessary amount of time.
2006 SERRA BARBARESCO ‘PAITIN' - A very nice Barbaresco with soft aromas of
raspberry on the nose. On the palate, this wine is slightly tannic, with
elegant spicy fruit and a hint of caramel. A very nice wine that has great
balance, we rated it 92 points.
"LA LOGGIA" RESERVA 1997 BAROLO - Some aged wines smell and taste oxidized.
Some people like the effect, and some do not. My partner Teresa was bothered by
the oxidized smell and flavor, but I liked it. To me, it tastes rustic and old-
world. On the nose, there is an oxidized aroma along with nice fruit and spice.
On the palate, I found this wine complex and interesting. Due to its age, the
tannins were soft and enjoyable, and the fruit and acid were well integrated.
Teresa thought it was too old, but I liked it very much and rated it 92 points.
Another example of Bernie finding great wine and having the patience to age it
MANDOLINA 2007 FREISA SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - An interesting varietal from the
Piedmont that is rarely grown in California. This wine has a nice fruity nose
with good fruit continuing on the palate. It is a bit creamy, but enjoyable,
interesting, and different. I rated it 87 points.
MANDOLINA 2007 NEBBIOLO SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - This wine was more fruity and
over the top than its Italian counterparts. The big persistent fruit seemed to
overwhelm the acid and other components of the wine. Fun to drink but atypical
of its Italian cousins, I rated it 88 points.
TRE-ANELI 2006 BARBERA SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - Bitter and rough tasting of nail
polish. I wasn't sure if it was corked or just bad. In any event, not enjoyable
and I rated it only 70 points. A big disappointment considering it was one of
the wines that I brought.
TRE-ANELI 2005 NEBBIOLO SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - A much better effort. This wine
starts with a nice bouquet of red berries and loam. On the palate, the wine is
fruity but well balanced. Overall a nice wine that paired well with our food, I
rated it a solid 90 points.
MANZONE 2000 ‘LE GRAMOLERE' BAROLO - Another Bernie wine! An excellent aged
Barolo from Italy. The nose is subdued, but on the palate there is a burst of
delicious raspberry and a hint of oregano which is beautifully balanced. This
wine is still somewhat tannic, but enjoyable. Yet another very good wine that
was patiently aged. I really liked it and rated it 91 points. If you ever
attend one of these events, find Bernie and make sure you sit next to him so you
can try his excellent old wines.
MANDOLINA TOCCATA 2009 LATE HARVEST MUSCAT CANELLI SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - A
sweet wine which was paired with our dessert. I found it to be cloying and too
sweet for me. Overall, it seemed a bit out of balance with overwhelming fruit
and sweetness. Not my favorite, I rated it 82 points.
PIEDRASASSI 2007 "Mr. Smith" which is 100% Syrah from the now famous James Berry
Vineyard in Paso Robles. "Mr. Smith" has a nose that is heavily perfumed with
black cherries. On the palate, it is lush, delicious, and virtually
exceptional. I loved this wine and rated it 93 points.
2008 EVENING LAND Occidental Coast Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast - Silver Label.
This wine has a pine needle and forest nose. On the palate, I got nice spice
along with the pretty red fruits. This wine has great balance and is extremely
interesting. We both loved it and I rated it 93 points.
2009 LORING WINE COMPANY Clos Pepe Vineyard Pinot Noir - Sta. Rita Hills. The
Clos Pepe has an interesting nose featuring pine needles and forest earth. On
the palate it is very balanced with pretty strawberry and raspberry flavors.
Ending with a strong finish, I liked it very much and rated it 92 points.
RGB - 2009 Camp 4 Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, Andrew Murray Vineyards -
(Roussanne/Grenache Blanc) - dry and crisp with a tinge of spice. 87 points.
ZACA MESA 2006 Santa Ynez Valley Syrah - nice berry nose, soft and pleasant
wine. 89 points.
BRIDLEWOOD Central Coast Syrah Reserve 2006 - hard edged and schlumpy on the
palate. 85 points.
JAFFURS 2009 Santa Barbara County Syrah - dusty nose with a plush and pleasant
mouthfeel. 90 points.
ZACA MESA 2005 Santa Ynez Valley Syrah - light and a little unpleasant smelling.
Fine on the palate. 86 points.
DANIEL GEHRS 1999 Syrah Santa Ynez Valley - Corked and spoiled - no rating.
BRANDER VINEYARDS 2009 Colson Canyon Syrah - plush and nice and enjoyable. 91
EDWARD SELLERS 2007 Paso Robles Syrah - decent but a bit all over the place - 87
TERRA BELLA VINEYARDS 2005 Syrah Paso Robles - plush and firm wine I enjoyed. 90
LAGIER MEREDITH 2006 Syrah Mount Veeder Napa Valley - good structure and balance
with pleasant flavor profile. 90 points.
OPAL RESTAURANT & Bar Syrah 2007 Santa Barbara County (produced and bottled by
Jaffurs Wine Cellars) - fun, sweet and fruity. More like Paso Syrah to me. 88
BECKMEN VINEYARDS 2005 Syrah Barrel Select Santa Ynez Valley - strong and
serious with good balance and precision. 90 points.
NOVY SYRAH, Judge Family Vineyard, Bennett Valley 2005 - light and well
executed, pleasant but boring. 86 points.
ANCIENT PEAKS 2008 Syrah Paso Robles - pruny and strong. A fun wine but a little
frumpy. 86 points (but a nice effort for about $15.00!).
TOLOSA 2007 Syrah Edna Ranch - Edna Valley - strong and fruity. Well made wine
but a bit on the heavy side. 88 points.
CONSILIENCE Camp 4 Vineyard Syrah 2004 - stinky nose, ok on the palate. Big and
strong with high alcohol. Could improve with more time. 88 points.
BRIDLEWOOD Central Coast Syrah Reserve 2005 - strong and acrid. Decent but not
thrilling. 86 points.
RUSACK 2008 Santa Barbara County Syrah 2008 - plush and interesting. Fruit and
spice and balance woven nicely together. 91 points.
BABCOCK 2005 Syrah Black Label Cuvee - all over the place with fruit and oak.
Out of balance. Not a favorite. 82 points.
HAMEL 1994 Sonoma County Syrah (One of Bernie's Ringers) - smokey an old. Well
balanced. I'm always too smitten by old wines, so after pause for reflection, 90
RUSSIAN HILL 2001 Syrah, Russian River Valley - Ellen's Block - fruity and tart.
Somewhat out of balance, but fun. 86 points.
WILD COYOTE Happy Trail 2008 Syrah - Paso Robles - huge prunes and raisins, out
of balance but big and fun. 84 points.
TENSLEY 2008 Syrah OGT Santa Barbara County - really pretty nose. Fine tuned
flavors on the palate with a supple finish. 93 points.
JAFFURS 2008 Larner Vineyard Syrah - nice nose, big fruit, beautiful on the
palate. Exceptionally well balanced and interesting. 94 points.
MARGERUM 2004 Syrah - Vogelzang Vineyard - pleasant nose. Big fruit on the
palate but nicely balance. Good acid and finish. 92 points.
ARAUJO ESTATE WINES 1998 Eisele Vineyard, Napa Valley Syrah - old nose.
(Another Bernie ringer wine) Elegant on the palate and beautifully balanced.
Has benefitted from age, and can still age another 5 or more years! 93 points.
ANDREW MURRAY 2009 Syrah Watch Hill Vineyard - nice nose, big fruit and nice
acid. The fruit is the main player here. 89 points.
PIEDRASASSI "mr. smith" 2007 California Syrah - nice nose, great fruit on the
palate with good balance and a soft and supple finish. Epic wine! 95 points.
ANDREW MURRAY 2007 Syrah McGinley Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley - good minerality
and nice fruit with decent balance and spice. 90 points.
ANDREW MURRAY 2007 Syrah Terra Bella Vineyard, Paso Robles - big fruit with a
slick fruity mouthfeel and finish. 88 points.
KENNETH-CRAWFORD 2010 Riesling, Santa Barbara County - fruity and tangy with a
bit of bite. 87 points.
PEDRO'S BLACK DOG Shiraz 2003 - Santa Barbara County - spicy and husky, a walk
on the wild side of Syrah. 86 points.
BLAIR FOX CELLARS 2006 Syrah, Purisima Mountain Vineyard, Santa Barbara County -
Nice nose with soft fruit and spicy notes. 88 points.
JELLY ROLL 2008 Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley - Dusty nose and nice ripe fruit. Big
and bold - 89 points.
ZACA MESA Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley 2007 - balanced and peppery. Decent balance.
Nice wine overall. 88 points.
SUMMERLAND 2008 Syrah, Paso Robles - light on the attack, spicy on the finish.
Somewhat disjointed and atypical overall. 83 points.
JAFFURS 2007 Syrah Verna's Vineyard, Santa Barbara County - perfume & flowers on
the nose. Plush dark dried fruits on the palate. Big finish. 92 points.
FELTA CREEK VINEYARDS Syrah 2006, Dry Creek Valley - nice hot wine with big
fruit and pleasant herbal notes. 91 points.
PEDRO'S BLACK DOG Shiraz 2002 - Santa Barbara County - dark, spicy, and serious
with a nice hit of dried red fruits and licorice on the palate. 91 points.
SILVER 2008 Trentotto File Syrah, White Hawk Vineyard, Santa Barbara County -
unusual and herbal with nice fruit. 87 points.
SANTA BARBARA WINERY 2008 Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley - stinky nose with decent
fruit and some spice on the palate. Slightly awkward. 86 points.
LOS CINCO LOCOS 2009 Syrah - creamy nose with soft fruit and a nice finish.
Atypical but enjoyable. 90 points.
KENWOOD, Jack London Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, 2007 Syrah - light fruit and
decent spice with ok balance. Not a barn-burner but decent. 86 points.
MICHALL DAVID WINE - 6th Sense Syrah - 2008, Lodi - Something is not right with
this wine. Out of balance and tremendously oak-driven. 79 points.
ALPHA OMEGA, Syrah 2009, Krupp Brothers Vineyard, Napa Valley - young & tight
with good fruit and spice lurking in the background. Will improve with age. 89
SAINT COSME 2006 Saint-Joseph - French Syrah from the Rhone - out of the
California Syrah only tasting rules, but fun to compare against the California
wines. Barn yard nose with concentrated spice and fruit. Similar to most of
the California wines except for the nose. Good minerality and balance. 90
ANDREW MURRAY VINEYARDS 1996 Syrah, South Slope, Santa Barbara County -
Surprisingly far past its prime. Weak and sloppy. 77 points.
MELVILLE 2009 Syrah, Verna's Vineyard - light and pruny with decent minerality.
A bit off balance, but fun. 89 points.
RUSACK 2007 Syrah, Santa Barbara County - elegant, plush and nice. Pretty nose
and nice dark fruits with good peppery spice. A great value for $25.00! 90
QUPE 209 Syrah, Central Coast - decent nose, nice balance. Not a block buster,
but pleasant. A nice effort for about $15.00. 87 points.
BECKMEN VINEYARDS 2009 Estate Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley - good nose, strong wine,
somewhat oak-driven. Good fruit and balance. A good local $20.00 wine. 88
TENSLEY 2008 Syrah OGT Santa Barbara County - floral and perfumed nose. Huge
fruit on the palate with an oily persistent finish. 93 points.
DANIEL GEHRS 2009 Syrah, Central Coast - pleasant all around wine. Good fruit
and decent balance. 88 points.
GREEN POINT 2003 Shiraz, Victoria, Australia - out of the California Syrah only
tasting rules, but fun to compare against the California wines. Very peppery
and bold. Nice and solid wine. 88 points.
SMOKING LOON Syrah 2008, California - light and fruity. No vices, just simple
and good. A very good effort for about $10.00. 86 points.
TOLOSA 2007 Syrah, Edna Ranch, Edna Valley - I enjoyed this slightly more than
last week. Spicy and compact. 90 points.
STOLPMAN Syrah 2008, Santa Ynez Valley - Starts with a nice nose and is soft and
fruity on the palate. Good finish. 87 points.
MARGERUM Syrah 2002, Colson Canyon Vineyard - Slightly past its prime but still
good. Balanced with decent fruit and acid still present. 91 points.
KENNETH-CRAWFORD 2006 Syrah, Four Play, Santa Barbara County - intense, fruity,
and spicy. Nicely balanced. I liked it! 90 points.
KENNETH-CRAWFORD 2006 Syrah, Turner Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills - not as intense
as the Four Play. Better balance but quieter. Another nice effort. 90 points.
KENNETH-CRAWFORD 2006 Syrah, LaFond Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills - similar to the
Turner but more overtly fruity and lacking balance. 87 points.
BRANDER 2009 Syrah, Colson Canyon Vineyard, Santa Barbara County (tasted blind)
- Inky and powerful with strong fruit and interesting anise finish. 90 points.
BRANDER 2006 Syrah, Colson Canyon Vineyard, Santa Barbara County (tasted blind)
- like its 2009 younger brother but more evolved. Less fruit and better balance
due to good age. 90 points.
FOXEN 2006 Syrah, Toasted Rope, Santa Ynez Valley (tasted blind) - interesting
concentration and depth. Excellent balance and nice oak. 92 points.
JONATA 2007 La Sangre de Jonata, Santa Ynez Valley (tasted blind) - oak-driven
wine with big vanilla, toast and spice on the palate. Heavily concentrated with
a huge finish. Nice finesse. 97 points!
DENNER VINEYARDS 2008, The Dirt Worshipper, Paso Robles (tasted blind) - heavy
concentration and extraction of heavy dried fruit flavors. Intense and
lingering finish. The fruit is so strong on this that I found it to be
distracting. 93 points.
PIEDRASASSI "mr. smith" 2007 California Syrah (tasted blind) - Tasted last week
and still shows a very nice nose, great fruit on the palate with good balance
and a soft and supple finish. 96 points.
ERIC KENT Wine Cellars 2007 Syrah, Kalen's Big Boy Blend, Sonoma County (tasted
blind) - hot on the palate but nicely balanced with good heavy fruit and nice
herbal notes. 90 points.
KENNETH-CRAWFORD 2008 Grenache, Larner Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley - high
alcohol and hot. Nice plush fruit and supple balance. Would probably improve
with a few years of age. 89 points.
J. CAREY CELLARS 1979 Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: interesting black
olive component to a wine that has seen better days. 30 years is far too long
to hold a Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I rated it 84 points, but it is
too far gone.
BABCOCK 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Classic Rock, Santa Barbara County: thin and
syrupy, with some recognizable dark fruit components. 83 points.
CLOS DU VAL Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 - hints of tobacco, leather, and
dark fruits. A decent $20.00 supermarket wine. 85 points.
LOS CINCO LOCOS 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, California (Paso Robles + Santa Barbara
County): a very interesting wine made by local wine enthusiasts. Aged in 2 year
old French barrels. Good complexity and nice fruit and spice components. Just
right at this time. I've tried many Los Cinco Locos wines in the past 2 years,
and this was by far the best one! 89 points.
FOXEN 7200 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vogelzang Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, 2006: very
complex and spicy. Powerful wine featuring nice dark fruits, tar, big tannins,
and cedar box spices. I felt that this was one of the best examples of Cabernet
Sauvignon we tried all night. 91 points.
ENLACE 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: creamy on the palate with decent
dark fruit and light spice. Not very tannic. 86 points.
WILD HORSE Unbridled 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles: extracted fruit
flavors which are typical for Paso Robles. A decent wine but too much fruit to
call it a good example of Cabernet Sauvignon. 85 points.
VILLICANA 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, Mountain Springs Vineyard: nice
dark fruits and decent spice. Good weight and pleasant tannins. 88 points.
BECKMEN VINEYARDS 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley: fruity but
somewhat bitter and disjointed. Not a favorite Cabernet Sauvignon wine from one
of my favorite producers. 80 points.
STAR LANE VINEYARD Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley, 2005: unfortunately
corked. No rating.
3 BLIND MOOSE, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, California: Light and flabby. Some
fruit, some spice, but disjointed overall. 80 points.
MUNICIPAL WINEMAKERS 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara: out
of balance - too fruity and flabby. If you like fruit, you'll like this. Not a
classic Cabernet Sauvignon as I would expect it. 82 points.
DANIEL GEHRS Central Coast 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon: flabby and out of balance.
Decent fruit, but lacking oomph. 84 points.
MORROW BAY White Oak Estates 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, California: decent wine
featuring ok dark berry fruit and some acid and tannins. Lack of spice makes
this just ok. 85 points.
FOXEN 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vogelzang Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley: pretty
currant flavors with nice sublime cedar box and tobacco spice flavors. Good
balance and nicely aged. 92 points.
C 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: decent fruit and some spice. Flabby and
meandering overall. 83 points.
BURGESS 1995 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: heavy and persistent Brettanomyces
present, almost tasted corked. Close to over-aged. Hard to enjoy. 81 points.
DERBY WINE ESTATES, Laura's Vineyard, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles: nice
soft Cabernet Sauvignon with punch fruit and soft spices. Enjoyable. 88
TURNBULL 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley: good fruit and some spice. Soft
tannins and some oak present. A decent effort. 87 points.
DON MELCHOR 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Chile, Concha Y Toro: nice big
cab with good fruit, good oak, nice balance, and decent tannins and strength.
More of a classic Cabernet Sauvignon you would expect. 91 points.
BEAULIEU VINEYARD BV Napa Valley 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon: decent fruit and
balance. Decent spice. A good $25.00 supermarket wine which adequately
represents its varietal. 87 points.
CAPUCHO Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, Portugal: Nice spice, decent fruit, good
balance, and hints of currants, spice, cedar box, and leather. Classic old-
world Cabernet Sauvignon with good maturity. Could age successfully for a few
more years. 89 points.
MONTES ALPHA Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, D.O. Colchagua Valley, Apalta Vineyard,
Chile: Typical fruit and spice components required for this varietal. Slightly
too much oak for me, but not bad overall. A decent $20.00 supermarket wine. 86
VILLIERA ESTATE WINE, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, South Africa: Very nice
Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot blend. The Merlot adds minerality and complexity to
the Cabernet Sauvignon here. Reminiscent of a Bordeaux from France. Nice
currant and spice components with good maturity. 89 points.
BRANDER 2009 Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve: big fruit but light
on the spice component. Good if you like fruit-driven wine. No Rating.
BRANDER 2007 Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve: nice spice and fruit
integration. Good balance and pleasant tannins present. A very good example of
Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Will age nicely for 5-10 more years. No
Rating because I helped make it.
BRANDER 2003 Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve: very nice red currant
fruit and light cedar box component. Well aged. Could go another few years and
keep getting better. No rating.
NEYERS 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Neyers Ranch - Conn Valley, Napa Valley: Good
and big fruit, nice balance, heavy oak, decent spice. One of the most classic
Napa Valley wines you can find. Will age well for 7-15 more years. 90 points.
COHO 2007 Summit Vine Ranch, Diamond Mountain District, Napa Valley Cabernet
Sauvignon: Really nice fruit, spice, and acid integration. A big wine that is
not overpowering featuring solid tannins, pleasant oak, and very good balance.
A fine example of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. 92 points.
CHARLES & CHARLES Rosé 2010 Columbia Valley, Washington State - Made from Syrah,
this rosé is plump and peppery. I got it at Whole Foods in Santa Barbara for
about $13.00. I enjoyed it and rated it 89 points.
MYV (Minassian Young Vineyards) Grenache Rosé Paso De Robles 2010 - Sweet and
sappy, I found this wine to be awkward and out of balance. 83 pionts.
BOTASEA 2009 Rosato Di. Palmina Rosé , Santa Barbara County - Made from
Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Barbera grapes, this wine is slightly medicinal and
reminded me of cheap fruit punch. I thought the flavor profile was too nebulous
to paint a nice picture. 85 points.
ALMA ROSA Pinot Noir-Vin Gris, El Jabali Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills 2009 - I
liked the pretty color and nose of this rosé right away. On the palate, this
rosé is very pretty, with snappy acid and fun cherry fruit flavors. An
interesting and enjoyable rosé that enjoyed very much and rated 92 points.
DOMAINE DE LA FOUQUETTE - Cuvee Rosee D' Aurore, 2010, Cotes De Provence - Made
from 65% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 5% Rolle, this wine features big citrus and
grapefruit on the palate. Light in color and very refreshing, I rated it 87
FOXEN Rosé of Mourvédre, Santa Ynez Valley, 2010 - This rosé has a pretty pink
hue with a nice nose featuring watermelon and some spice. On the palate, the
watermelon dominates the party. A very nice wine I enjoyed and rated 89 points.
CHATEAU DU ROUET - Cuvee Reservee Tradition 2009, Cotes De Provence - an
interesting light tea and salmon color with a quiet nose, featuring ripe berries
on the palate. Not as ripe as the California wines, I rated it 86 points.
KH KESSLER-HAAK - Sta. Rita Hills Rose of Pinot Noir 2010 - Very pretty deep
salmon pink color with nice fruit on the nose. On the palate, it tastes like
good fruit punch, with an number of dark and light berry flavors all in play at
the same time, with a good finish and nice acidity. One of my favorites of the
night, I rated it 91 points.
SUNSTONE 2008 Syrah Rosé, Santa Ynez Valley - slightly medicinal on the nose to
start. On the palate, it reminded of a Luden's cough drop. Not my favorite -
BRANDER Chateau Neuf Du Pink Rosé, Santa Ynez Valley 2009 - Nice deep salmon
color, but a bit rough and undisciplined on the palate. 84 points.
DOMAINE DU DRAGON 2010 Grande Cuvee, Cotes De Provence - Another typical and
classical Provencal rosé - light pale tea color with decent fruit on the nose.
On the palate, light and a little spicy and earthy. Enjoyable but not great, I
rated it 86 points.
WHISPERING ANGEL Cotes De Provence, Chateau d' Esclans Rosé 2009 - yet another
typical and classical Provencal rosé. Lighter than the previous wine, with a
light tea hue. Some fruit on the palate, but more spice. Overall, boring - I
rated it 83 points.
TAPIZ - Malbec Rosé, Mendoza Argentina 2010 - interesting deep pink hue with a
flamboyant nose and big punchy flavors. I found this wine to be fun to drink
and interesting, and I rated it 88 points.
ALMA ROSA Pinot Gris, Santa Barbara County 2009 - not a rose, but one of the
Winemaker's entries. Typical Pinot Gris color and nose. A bit flabby on the
palate, seemingly lacking acid. Decent overall - I rated it 87 points.
SANTA BARBARA WINERY 2010 Rose of Syrah, Sta. Rita Hills - Nice vanilla and
cherry flavors on the palate with a pretty pink hue. A fun wine that I enjoyed
and rated 89 points.
FLORESTA 2009 - Spain: Made from 50% Garnacha, 25% Merlot, 15% Syrah, and 10%
Mourvédre. I liked the color of this wine, but on the palate it has a big hit
of bell pepper. I found the bell pepper notes distracting. 81 points.
TOURAINE Val de Loire Grolleau - Pinot Noir 2010 - Another wine with the bell
pepper flaw. Light in color and boring. I rated it 83 points.
LA VIEILLE FERME - Rhone Valley Vineyards 2010 - Made from Grenache and
Cinsault, this rosé is soft and easy to enjoy. Not terribly interesting, I
rated it 86 points.
CUVAISON 2010 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Napa Valley - Carneros - Nice pink color
with pretty candied fruit and vanilla on the palate. Very enjoyable, I rated it
LA PUMA - Camp Four Vineyard 2006 Rhone Rose - Leia: Made from 67% Syrah and 33%
Cinsault, this wine was slightly oxidized. One of the most tannic and strong
rosés of the night. I liked this and rated it 89 points.
CHINON - Domaine de Beausejour 2009 - Val de Loire - Made from 100% Cabernet
Franc, this was a weird wine. The flavor profile was more spicy than fruity,
and the wine lacks balance. Not a favorite, I rated it 82 points.
CURTIS 2007 Heritage Rosé - Santa Barbara County - Made from roughly equal parts
Syrah, Mourvédre, Grenache and Cinsault, this wine has interesting flavors and
characteristics. I thought there might be just too much going on, but not a bad
effort. 85 points.
LA FERME JULIEN, Cotes Du Ventoux, Rosé 2009 - Produced from 50% Cinsault, 40%
Grenache, and 10% Syrah, this was a pretty, nice, and easy wine to enjoy. A
nice balance of fruit and spice, I rated it 89 points.
SORELLINA 2009 Grenache Rosé - Santa Ynez Valley - lighter in color than its
Santa Ynez Valley competition, this rosé was fruity and slightly punchy. Fun
overall, I rated it 86 points.
OLIVARES 2010 Jumilla, Spain - Rosé - Made from 70% Monastrell and 30% Syrah,
this wine is light and pleasant, but it has cloying sweetness like a White
Zinfandel. I rated it 84 points.
SOFIA Rosé, Francis Coppola, Monterey County 2009 - I had seen this bottle at
Costco and was interested in trying it, but I didn't like the bottle. I was
glad to see someone bought it for us to try. Surprising and nice fruit and
vanilla on the palate. Plush and nice, I liked it and rated it 88 points.
HOLUS-BOLUS 2004 Rosé Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley - at 15.1% alcohol, by far the
highest of the night. Most others averaged 12.5%. Interesting but too oxidized
to enjoy. I doubt rosé should ever be held this long. I rated it 81 points.
SCHRAMSBERG Mirabelle Brut Rosé NV - starts with a yeasty nose of warm brioche.
Nice on the palate with pleasing cherry and vanilla flavors. Great with food, I
rated it 90 points.
KALYRA Brut Rose, Australia NV - industrial chemicals on the nose with a strange
metallic flavor. Not enjoyable - 78 points.
VALLEY OF THE MOON - Rosato di Sangiovese, Sonoma County, 2009 - Nice!
Interesting salmon color with pleasant fruit and some peppery spice on the
palate. Good balance too. I rated it 87 points.
JM FONSECA TWIN VINES, Vinho Rosé 2008, Portugal - Very nice color with
interesting spice and fruit on the palate. A decent wine I rated 87 points.
CHAMPAGNE NICOLAS FEUILLATE Rosé , Brut, NV - pleasant yeast and bakery aromas
on the nose. Soft and compelling on the palate. Nice light fruit and baked
bread yeast on the palate. Very nice! I rated it 91 points.
VILLA SPARINA GAVI 2008 - 88 points.
CARR 2009 PINOT GRIS, TURNER VINEYARD, STA. RITA HILLS - 87 points.
PONZI PINOT GRIS, WILLAMETTE VALLEY 2010 - 90 points.
CHIC - VENEZIA GIULIA PINOT GRIGIO 2009 - 88 points.
2010 D.O.C. TRENTINO, CUPCAKE VINEYARDS PINOT GRIGIO - 89 points.
ITALO CESCON VENETO PINOT GRIGIO 2010 - 90 points.
DAMILANO LANGHE ARNEIS 2009 - 87 points.
TIEFENBRUNNER PINOT BIANCO WEISSBURGUNDER - 89 points.
SALVIANO ORVIETO CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2007 - 88 points.
LUIGI BAUDANA LANGHE CHARDONNAY 2009 - 92 points.
FALANGHINA DEI FEUDI DI SAN GREGORIO 2009 - 88 points.
PASORINA 2009 MOSCATO - 87 points.
PALMINA 2010 PINOT GRIGIO SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - 90 points.
HELIOTROPE PINOT GRIGIO 2010 CALIFORNIA - 88 points.
CONSENTINO WINERY 2007 PINOT GRIGIO LODI - 82 points.
MASI MASIANCO PINOT GRIGIO & VERDUZZO 2010 - 88 points.
SANT' ELENA PINOT GRIGIO 2006 - 90 points.
LASORDA PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE 2009 - 88 points.
ALOIS LAGEDER DOLOMITI PINOT GRIGIO 2009 - 90 points.
CAMPOGRANDE 2009 ORVIETO CLASSICO - 89 points.
PALMINA 2010 MALVASIA BIANCA LARNER VINEYARD, SYV - 89 points.
BOTTEGA VINAIA 2010 TRENTINO PINOT GRIGIO - 89 points.
LA RONESCINA 2009 COLLIO PINOT GRIGIO - 89 points.
BIVIO PINOT GRIGIO 2009 DELLE VENEZIE - 89 points.
TOLEDANA GAVI 2009 - 90 points.
FIANO DI AVELLINO 2007 - 87 points.
TERREDIGIUMARA INZOLIA SICILIA 2008 - 86 points.
KUEN HOF 2009 SUDTIROL EISACKTALER VELTLINER - 90 points.
SUMMERLAND WINERY 2008 PINOT GRIS SBC - 90 points.
MOSCATO D'ASTI GARANITTA - 89 points.
MEZZACORONA PINOT GRIGIO 2010 DOLOMITI - 87 points.
MURI-GRIES ALTO ADIGE PINOT GRIGIO 2009 - 89 points.
PALMINA 2010 TOCAI FRIULANO, HONEA VINEYARD, SYV - 88 points.
PALMINA 2009 ARNEIS, HONEA VINEYARD, SYV - 89 points.
SORELLINA 2008 Grenache Santa Ynez Valley - 86 points.
TERCERO WINES Cuvee Christine Santa Barbara County 2008 - 87 points.
HARRISON CLARKE 2005 Grenache Santa Ynez Valley - 87 points.
YALUMBA Bush Vine Grenache 2008 Barossa Australia - 90 points.
CORE 2008 Santa Barbara County Grenache - 87 points.
SARAH'S VINEYARD Grenache Central Coast 2009 - 85 points.
TERCERO 2009 Grenache Blanc Camp 4 Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley - 90 points.
WHITCRAFT WINERY 2009 Chardonnay SBC Kick on Vineyard - 89 points.
CARR 2008 Grenache Paredon Vineyard SBC - 84 points.
EPIPHANY 2007 Gypsy Santa Barbara County - 85 points.
KUNIN 2008 Grenache Santa Ynez Valley Larner Vineyard - 88 points.
ALBAN VINEYARDS Grenache Edna Valley 2007 - 94 points!
LAS ROCAS de San Alejandro 2008 Garnacha - 84 points.
BRIDLEWOOD Grenache Central Coast 2008 - 87 points.
YALUMBA Bush Vine Grenache 2009 Barossa Australia - 89 points.
AMPELOS 2004 Syrache Santa Barbara County - 89 points.
SHELDON 2007 Grenache Santa Ynez Valley - 87 points.
LA PUMA 2010 Grenache Estelle Vineyard, Block 1B - 87 points.
SANTA BARBARA WINERY 2007 La Fond Vineyard Grenache Sta. Rita Hills - 91 points!
BECKMEN 2008 Estate Grenache Santa Ynez Valley - 88 points.
TELEGRAPHE TELEGRAMME Domaine du Vieux Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2008 - 88 points.
BECKMEN 2009 Cuvee Le Bec Santa Ynez Valley - 87 points.
ETHAN 2007 Santa Maria Valley Grenache Nielson Vineyard - 89 points.
EPIPHANY 2008 Grenache Santa Barbara County - 86 points.
JAFFURS 2008 Santa Barbara County Grenache - 90 points!
BECKMEN 2009 Estate Grenache Santa Ynez Valley - 88 points.
WHITCRAFT 2008 Grenache Santa Maria Valley Addamo Vineyard - 89 points.
TERCERO 2007 Grenache Watch Hill Vineyard Santa Barbara County - 88 points.
PANDORA Seymour's Vineyard Edna Valley 2004 - 95 points!
DOMAINE DURIEU 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape - 87 points.
ROGER SABON & FILS Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Olivets - 91 points!
WHITCRAFT 2009 Stolpman Vineyard Grenache - 88 points.
LONGORIA 2010 ALBARINO, SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, CLOVER CREEK VINEYARD - crisp and
spicy on the palate with nice floral & fruit notes on the nose. 89 Points.
DIERBERG PINOT NOIR, SANTA MARIA VALLEY, 2006 - A little stinky on the nose, but
nice fruit behind the stink. Plump and ripe with nice cherry up front and mint
undertones behind. Either not stored properly or still too young. 86 Points.
SUMMERLAND 2008 WOLFF VINEYARD, PINOT NOIR, EDNA VALLEY - Overt red fruit aromas
on the nose. Plump & plush cherry cola on the palate. 87 points.
FORT ROSS PINOT NOIR 2009, SEA SLOPES, FORT ROSS VINEYARD, SONOMA COAST - Nice
nose with plummy and herbal notes on the palate. 88 points.
SIDURI 2007 PINOT NOIR, SONOMA COUNTY - Red berries on the nose with very nice
balance on the palate. A really good $20.00 Pinot! 90 points.
LOS CINCO LOCOS 2008 PINOT NOIR - A home-made wine with predominant sour cherry
and light acid on the palate. Somewhat disjointed, but fun to drink. 84 points.
DANIEL GEHRS LIMITED PINOT NOIR 2009, EDNA VALLEY - Unusual nose with decent
ripe red fruit flavors on the palate. Some underlying weirdness here - 85
RUSACK SANTA BARBARA COUNTY PINOT NOIR 2005 - Pretty nose featuring cherry and
spice. Huge cherry and cola with some herbal notes on the palate. Nice - 89
EDNA VALLEY VINEYARD, 2008 PINOT NOIR, PARAGON, EDNA VALLEY, SAN LUIS OBISPO -
Friendly and fruity and ripe! Slightly out of balance. 87 points.
PESSAGNO, CENTRAL AVENUE VINEYARD, PINOT NOIR, MONTEREY 2007 - Really stinky
nose, if not corked. Ok fruit and balance, but just too stinky. 82 points.
AU BON CLIMAT 2009 SANTA BARBARA COUNTY PINOT NOIR - Nice nose of fruit with
some faint herbs. Smooth and silky on the palate. Nice food wine. 89 points.
PRODIGAL, QUINTA SANTA ROSA VINEYARD, STA. RITA HILLS, PINOT NOIR 2005 - Nice
nose with good fruit and spice on the palate. Well balanced wine. 88 points.
VOGELZANG 2008 PINOT NOIR, STA. RITA HILLS, FIDDLESTIX VINEYARD - Really nice
ripe red berry nose with explosive fruit and high acid on the palate. Zingy and
pingy in the mouth. Probably too much for most, but I really liked it. 91
VENUE, CENTRAL COAST 2007 PINOT NOIR - Subdued nose. Ok fruit on the palate but
flabby and somewhat out of balance. 83 points.
AMPELOS 2009 PINOT NOIR, STA. RITA HILLS - funky nose. High acid on the palate
with ok fruit and unusual herbal notes. Meaty gamy tones also present. 86
WILD HORSE, UNBRIDLED 2008 PINOT NOIR, ARROYO GRANDE VALLEY - Big ripe red berry
fruit on the palate. Somewhat flabby. 86 points.
CRIMSON CELLARS 2009 PINOT NOIR, JALAMA VINEYARD - Homemade wine - Polite nose
of red berries with subdued red fruit and cherry on the palate. Decent balance
but slightly off somehow. Overall a very good homemade Pinot Noir! 87 points.
HOBNOB VINEYARDS, VIN DE PAYS D'OC, PINOT NOIR 2010 - Decent red berries on the
nose. Nice creamy cherry cola on the lighter side on the palate. Enjoyable for
$12.00! - 85 points.
LA CREMA 2009 PINOT NOIR, SONOMA COAST - Subdued nose with ok fruit on the
palate. Somewhat flabby and uninteresting. 84 points.
BYRON 2008 PINOT NOIR, SANTA MARIA VALLEY - Big red fruit from start to finish.
Lots of overt cherry and some interesting herbal spices. 87 points.
AU BON CLIMAT 2005 SANTA MARIA VALLEY PINOT NOIR, BIEN NACIDO VINEYARD - This
wine has matured nicely! Soft pleasing red fruits on the nose, followed by
intense and well integrated cherry vanilla cola flavors on the palate. Good
balance. 91 points!
J VINEYARDS 2006, RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY, PINOT NOIR - Nicely balanced and old-
world in character. Nice fruit and spice present on the palate with nice
balance. 90 points.
LA PUMA, SIERRA MADRE VINEYARD, 2004 PINOT NOIR, ANNIE, MIDNIGHT ICE MORNING
RISE, SANTA BARBARA - Oxidized barnyard nose. Reminiscent of old-wold aged Pinot
Noir on the palate. Homemade wine. 84 points.
ROAR 2009 PINOT NOIR, SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS, ROSELLA'S VINEYARD - Pretty nose of
dried cherries. Graceful and beautiful cherry and spice on the nose. Excellent
balance. 93+ points!
J. WILKES 2002 PINOT NOIR, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, BIEN NACIDO VINEYARD, BLOCK Q -
Beautiful older Pinot Noir. Pretty floral nose with soft integrated red berries
and spice on the palate. Very nice! 94 points!
ACACIA PINOT NOIR CALIFORNIA A BY ACACIA 2009, CALIFORNIA - decent fruit on the
nose and palate, but flabby and boring overall. Nothing too exciting. 85 points.
BUTTONWOOD 2008 PINOT NOIR, STA. RITA HILLS, HIBBITS RANCH VINEYARD -
Brettanomyces present on the nose and palate right after opening. The Brett
dissipated over time. Decent fruit and high acid. Somewhat out of balance. 84
SANFORD PINOT NOIR 2008, STA. RITA HILLS - Pretty red fruit nose with high acid
on the palate. Vivid flavors bordering on syrupy. I liked it. 90 points.
CARR VINEYARDS 2009 PINOT NOIR, THREE VINEYARDS, STA. RITA HILLS - Big red fruit
from start to finish but out of balance and lacking substance. 85 points.
STEPHENS 2007 PINOT NOIR, SAN LUIS OBISPO, ENCELL VINEYARD - Huge cherry on the
palate and on the nose. So ripe that the fruit overwhelms everything else. Fun
but flawed. 87 points.
ROAR 2003 PINOT NOIR, SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS - Nice nose with great balance and
integration. Interesting and delicious! 92 points!
MELVILLE 2009 PINOT NOIR, TERRACES, STA. RITA HILLS - Young and bright with big
acidity and pretty red berry fruit. Will benefit from a few years of ageing. 90
LONGORIA 2009 PINOT NOIR, STA. RITA HILLS, FE CIEGA VINEYARD - Intense fruit and
acid. Very nice balance. Bright and young. Will benefit from a few years of
cellaring. 92 points!
LONGORIA 2009 PINOT NOIR, STA. RITA HILLS, BIEN NACIDO VINEYARD - Young and
smart with more spice and less fruit than the Fe Ciega. Good balance and
integration. Needs cellaring. 90 points.
J.R. STOREY 2007 PINOT NOIR, PASO ROBLES, ENCELL VINEYARD - Very ripe fruit, low
in acid. Slightly out of balance but enjoyable. A blast of cherry! 87 points.
WINDWARD VINEYARD MONOPOLE 2008, PASO ROBLES - Big ripe fruit with some spice
and loam. Big ripe Paso Robles wine as you would expect. 86 points.
FOXEN 2008 PINOT NOIR, SEA SMOKE VINEYARD, STA. RITA HILLS - Very ripe and
powerful. Almost jammy for a Pinot. Big red fruit and acid. Makes an impression.
SEA SMOKE 2008 PINOT NOIR, SOUTHING, STA. RITA HILLS - Ripe and acidic with a
blast of Cherry and candied fruit. Young but very good. 90 points.
SEA SMOKE 2008 PINOT NOIR, TEN, STA. RITA HILLS - Fruity and acidic with better
balance than the Southing version. Nice fruit and spice integration. A young
wine that should improve with age. 91 points.
LONGORIA 2005 PINOT NOIR, STA. RITA HILLS, FE CIEGA VINEYARD - Captivating nose
of red fruit and earth, handsome cherry and spice on the palate, great acid with
nearly perfect integration overall. 6 years of cellaring seems just right. 95
J.L. BONACCORSI WHITE, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY 2009. A blend of 85% Viognier & 15%
Chardonnay. Pretty nose with plush tropical fruits and banana on the palate.
Personally, I'd up the Chardonnay to 40%. I liked it and rated it 88 points.
BONACCORSI 2008 STA. RITA HILLS PINOT NOIR - Good acidity with nice cherry notes
on the palate. Not a block-buster but a solid SRH Pinot. 89 points.
DIERBERG PINOT NOIR, SANTA MARIA VALLEY 2005 - Big huge fruit and opulent on the
palate. Very ripe with nice acid. This wine could age 5 more years and get even
better. 90 points.
LAETITIA, CLONE 828, PINOT NOIR, ARROYO GRANDE VALLEY 2009 - Strong dried fruit
on the nose continues onto the palate. A super ripe fruit bomb if there ever was
one. If you like huge pruny fruit, this is your wine. Well made and balanced, I
rated it 86 points.
2008 HITCHING POST, CORK DANCER, PINOT NOIR, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - Smoother and
lighter than the previous 3 wines. Less ripe, but good fruit and reasonably
decent balance. I liked it and rated it 89 points.
2009 HITCHING POST, CORK DANCER, PINOT NOIR, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - Similar to
the 2008 reviewed previously. Also less ripe, but more herbal. 88 points.
CARHARTT 2009 PINOT NOIR, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - Barnyard nose with light cherry
on the palate. A bit off balance and very young. 85 points.
RODNEY STRONG 2009 RUSSIA
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