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WINE

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 stores.

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 evening.

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 appropriately.

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 points.

EDWARD SELLERS 2007 Paso Robles Syrah - decent but a bit all over the place - 87 points.

TERRA BELLA VINEYARDS 2005 Syrah Paso Robles - plush and firm wine I enjoyed. 90 points.

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 points.

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 points.

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 points.

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 points.

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 points.

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 points.

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 points.

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 points.

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 points.

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 - 82 points.

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 90 points.

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 points.

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 points.

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 points!

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 points.

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 points.

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 points.

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. 92 points!

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 points!

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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