© 2002 by Randy Buckner
March 13, 2002

Late Winter 2002 Releases

Spring is just around the corner, with thoughts of picnics, deck parties and barbeques. However, winter does not want to release its icy grip thanks to Punxsutawney Phil, Pontiff of all the tribes of Marmota monax, who has decreed six more weeks of bad weather. Another 100 new and current releases are presented for your perusal. The dual rating system evaluates quality (the first number) and value (the second) on a 100 point scale. As always, enjoy a bottle with dinner tonight.

Cabernet Sauvignon/Meritage wine glass

1999 Camelot, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $10. This is a very fruit forward, easy drinking wine, with aromas of plums, raspberries and a hint of smokiness. Very tart, with easy tannins. 83/85.

2000 Canyon Road, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $10, 108,500 cases. Aromas of plums, blackberries, coffee and toasty oak lead off. Very smooth on the entry with sweet fruit, ample tannins and light oak notes. Good value. 84/87.

1999 Clos Du Bois, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Alexander Valley, California, $22, 1,100 cases. Intensely colored with black cherry and brown sugar notes. The wine is very well balanced with supple tannins. Loaded with black cherry fruit, flavors of cocoa, brown sugar, dill spice and vanilla combine to make a tasty wine. 87/89.

Winery 1996 Columbia Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Otis Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, $29, 2,500 cases. A rich nose of raspberries, black cherries, vanilla and herbs makes a nice opening. Elegant mouthfeel, with tannins that glide effortlessly across the tongue. Red fruit lingers on the palate. 88/89.

1996 Columbia Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, $29, 2,297 cases. Cassis and blueberry notes delight the nose. Full-bodied with moderate tannins. Plums and blackberries define the flavor profile. 87/88.

1997 Columbia Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sagemoor Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington, $29, 416 cases. Medium-bodied with lovely balance. The tannins are seamless. Cassis and cedar wood aromas open to black fruit flavors and a modest finish. 86/86.

1998 Frei Brothers, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, California, $24, 7,600 cases. Black fruit and minty aromas bound from the glass. Very polished, with moderate tannins, the generous oak flavors take over the forefront, with blackberry fruit fighting to be noticed. 85/85.

1998 Gallo of Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, California, $13. Blackberries, licorice and oak aromas echo on the palate, with tart flavors, vanilla, modest tannins and a medium-length finish. 85/89.

1996 Gallo of Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stefani Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, California, $28. Blackberry, cassis and mint aromas highlight this dark ruby Cab. This is a well-balanced wine that offers up a host of lush black fruit and integrated sweet oak flavors. The tannins still need a little bottle time. 88/88.

1999 Geyser Peak, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, California, $17, 45,600 cases. Dark ruby in color with aromas of black cherry, cedar and vanilla. Fruity, with medium-weight tannins and American oak flavors, finishing on a crisp note. 100% American oak cooperage. 86/88.

1999 Hahn, Meritage, Santa Lucia Highlands, California, $18, 6,300 cases. Dark ruby, with black fruit, coffee and anise on the nose. Well-balanced with modest tannins. The wine is very fruity, black cherry prevalent, with a long, brisk, berry aftertaste. 88/90.

1998 Marcelina, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $30. Rich black fruit, leather and dark wood aromas repeat themselves on the palate. Youíll also find brisk acidity, tongue-coating tannins that can use a little bottle time, and a long, complex finish. 88/88.

1999 Paul Thomas, Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, $8. 10% Cab Franc and 10% Merlot were blended in. A straightforward Cab with mixed berries and light oak on the nose and palate. Tannins are quite soft. Drink over the next year. 83/86.

1998 Stonegate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $29, 3,245 cases. The lovely nose of blackberries, mint and sweet vanilla opens to a very polished wine. Black fruit prevails, with French oak overtones, silky tannins and a long, berry aftertaste. Nice wine for the vintage. 87/87.

1996 Toasted Head, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino, California, $18, 1,400 cases. Deep ruby in color. Cassis, black olive and humidor aromas are followed by a nicely balanced, medium-bodied wine, with currants, spice and well-integrated oak and tannins. 85/87.

1998 Valley of the Moon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, California, $20, 3,900 cases. This dark ruby new release offers plenty of cassis, black cherry, mint and American oak aromas. Lush fruit blends nicely with leather, spice, cedar and sweet vanilla. Medium-weight tannins become obvious on the finish. 86/88.

Chardonnay wine glass

2000 Beringer, Chardonnay, Founderís Estate, California, $12. Smokey oak aromas mingle with tropical fruit and green apple notes. Creamy on the palate, flavors convey caramel, spice and generous vanilla, with a sweet finish. 83/84.

2000 Claar, Chardonnay, White Bluffs, Columbia Valley, Washington, $13.50, 500 cases. Deep gold in color with apples and toasty oak aromas. Straightforward fruit flavors of ripe apples and apricots, with a healthy dose of toast and vanilla. 83/85.

2000 Clos Du Bois, Chardonnay, Reserve, Alexander Valley, California, $16. Gold in color, made in a medium-bodied style. Tropical fruit, coconut and vanilla notes play through to the palate, with spice noted on the finish. 85/87.

1999 Columbia Winery, Chardonnay, Otis Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, $24. Smoky oak and vanilla highlight the nose. Soft and creamy, with plenty of caramel and vanilla flavors. Apples and nutty nuances are noted on the finish. 85/85.

1999 Columbia Winery, Chardonnay, Otis Vineyard, Block 6, Yakima Valley, Washington, $40, 472 cases. Green apple and melon aromas take precedence over the buttery vanilla nuances. Full-bodied with concentrated fruit and oak flavors. A touch of cinnamon and citrus are evident on the long finish. 87/85.

1999 Deerfield Ranch, Chardonnay, Labbe Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, California, $30, 318 cases. A golden straw hue, with toasty oak and buttery notes revealing themselves on the nose. Creamy on the palate, the oak is foremost, with Chardonnay fruit peering through. 85/85.

1999 Gallo of Sonoma, Chardonnay, Laguna Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California, $23. Shimmering gold in the glass. Tropical fruit and butterscotch aromas carry through to the palate. Sweet oak and mango play on the creamy framework, finishing with a long, buttery finish. 87/87.

2000 Gallo of Sonoma, Chardonnay, Reserve, Sonoma County, California, $11. This medium-bodied wine is soft and creamy. Aromas and flavors of fresh sliced green apples, vanilla, spice and smoke makes for a fun drink for the style. 86/89.

2000 Huntington, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California, $15, 3,156 cases. Vanilla and tropical fruit in the nose opens to flavors of citrus, lemon and a flinty character. Very creamy on the palate with a modest finish. 85/85.

2000 Jekel, Chardonnay, Gravelstone, Monterey County, California, $11, 57,600 cases. Fresh sliced apples, citrus, floral notes and toasty oak intermingle on the nose. Soft and creamy, the flavors mimic the nose, finishing with generous oak flavors. 84/86.

2000 Kendall-Jackson, Chardonnay, Vintnerís Reserve, California, $12. Aromas of tropical fruit, green apple and muskmelon delight the nose. Creamy and spicy, the green apple and peach flavors are supported by balanced acidity and a lingering, sweet finish. 86/88.

1998 King, Chardonnay, Estate Reserve, Oregon, $20, 890 cases. Gold-hued, with melon, pineapple, nutmeg and toasty oak aromas. Creamy and soft on the entry, the wine is defined by tropical fruit and generous oak flavors. Nice for the style. 86/86.

MacRostie 2000 MacRostie, Chardonnay, Carneros, California, $19.75, 15,000 cases. There is a plethora of apple, lime and toasty oak notes on the nose. Very creamy on the palate, toast and vanilla take the forefront, with citrus and tropical fruit fighting for recognition. Stylistic. 86/86.

1999 MacRostie, Chardonnay, Reserve, Carneros, California, $35, 314 cases. Lots of ripe apple and crŤme brulee on the nose. Soft, creamy, with apple, pear and vanilla notes wrapped up in a nicely balanced package. 89/88.

2000 Louis Martini, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California, $22, 1,350 cases. Aromas of caramel, toasted coconut and pear and followed by peach, vanilla and caramel flavors. Soft and creamy on the palate. 85/85.

1998 Mystic Mountain, Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $9. Apple aromas with a touch of butter. Medium-bodied with oak well in the background. The fruit is reminiscent of persimmons and golden currants. Unusual. 83/85.

2000 Salmon Harbor, Chardonnay, Washington State, $8, 6,000 cases. Green apple and light toast notes are followed by flavors of tart apple, honey and butterscotch. 83/85.

1999 Stone Wolf, Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $12. This is a dandy food wine ó lean, crisp, fruit forward, with oak well in the background where it belongs. Green apple prevails on the nose and palate. Excellent value. 89/92.

2000 White Heron, Chardonnay, Piperís Frenchman Hill, Washington State, $10, 290 cases. Tropical fruit and buttery aromas repeat on the palate. Soft and fruity, with balanced oak, this lightly-styled wine would pair best with delicate poultry dishes. 84/86.

Italian varieties wine glasswine glass

1999 Columbia Winery, Sangiovese, Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, $25. Bright cherry fruit and floral notes on the nose. Cherry cola flavors with a touch of cinnamon, finishing on a crisp note. Atypical. 84/84.

1999 Deerfield Ranch, Sangiovese, Roumiguiere Vineyard, Lake County, California, $22, 531 cases. With a nose full of strawberries, cherries and cedar, this wine displays delightful balance and harmony of flavors. While sweet oak is present, it does not dominate the luscious red fruit. Very drinkable now. 91/92.

1997 Gallo of Sonoma, Sangiovese, Barrelli Creek, Alexander Valley, California, $13. Red cherry, smoke and leather notes repeat on the palate, with tart acidity and moderate tannins. Dried cherry flavors linger on the finish. 85/88.

Luna 1999 Luna, Sangiovese, Riserva, Napa Valley, California, $50, 1,650 cases. This deeply colored wine has a lovely nose of plum, red cherry and cocoa. Lush, with all components playing in harmony, the earthy red and black fruit, leather and dark chocolate make a fine statement. Give the moderate tannins a couple of years to tame down. 90/87.

2000 Maso Canali (Ecco Domani), Pinot Grigio, Italy, $18. This is an easy wine to enjoy. Crisp, fruity, and creamy, there are added floral notes and a pleasant finish. 86/85.

2000 Poliziano, Rosso di Montepulciano, Italy, $16. Bright red fruit aromas open to a medium-bodied, harmonious wine. Approachable now, the cherry fruit is easy to enjoy. Drink over the next 2-3 years. 87/89.

1998 Poliziano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Italy, $23. Youíll find lots of warm, dried cherry aromas in this garnet colored wine. Impeccably balanced with friendly acidity and lovely fruit. Approachable now, better in 2-3 years. 88/89.

1998 Poliziano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, ďAsinone,Ē Italy, $43. Dark ruby, with lovely aromas of cherries, currants, leather, earth and old wood. Full, lush, perhaps made in a more international style, with modest acidity and tannins that sneak up on you at the finish. Give this one 3-5 years. 90/88.

Merlot wine glass

1999 Beringer, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $26. This dark ruby Merlot has firm yet rounded tannins. Loaded with plum, black cherry, coffee, vanilla and cedar notes on the nose and palate, the wine lingers, with a lovely berry aftertaste. 89/89.

2000 Bogle, Merlot, California, $9. Well-balanced, with ample cherry fruit, oak spice, easy going tannins, and red cherry and cedar aromas. Drink over the next couple of years. Good value. 86/90.

2000 Canyon Road, Merlot, California, $10, 69,400 cases. Black cherry aromas are enhanced by oak and vanilla tones. Fruity, with moderate tannins and pleasant acidity. 83/85.

1999 Deerfield, Merlot, Russian River Vineyards, Russian River Valley, California, $35, 292 cases. Chocolate covered cherries, cedar, and tobacco leaf shake the senses to attention. Full and rich on the palate, the acidity is very defining and not for those looking for a soft, rounded wine. This will make a terrific BBQ wine. 90/89.

Ecco Domani 2000 Ecco Domani, Merlot, delle Venezie, Italy, $10. Blackberry and plum aromas are complimented by just a touch of old wood scents. Nicely balanced with modest tannins. The earthy fruit and black tea flavors are enhanced by medium acidity. 85/88.

1999 Gallo of Sonoma, Merlot, Sonoma County, California, $11, 125,000 cases. Easy to drink now, the mixed berries, spice and cedar aromas abound. Very fruit forward, with chalky minerals and mixed oak nuances. 85/89.

1999 Jekel, Merlot, Monterey, California, $15, 24,000 cases. Aromas of plums, leather and smoky oak enhance this rich ruby colored wine. Plush in the mouth, with plum, black tea, vanilla and dill spice notes. 85/86.

1999 Kenwood, Merlot, Jack London, Sonoma Valley, California, $30, 5,850 cases. Deeply colored with a melange of aromas from juicy black cherries to cedar. Very generous fruit on the palate, impeccable balance, with a pleasurable, lingering aftertaste. 90/90.

1998 Kenwood, Merlot, Massara, Sonoma Valley, California, $25, 1,865 cases. Black cherries, mint and sandalwood define the nose. Medium-bodied, with plums, black cherries and vanilla all singing in harmony. Drink over the next 2-3 years. 87/87.

1999 MacRostie, Merlot, Carneros, California, $26, 2,383 cases. Berries, berries and more berries highlight the nose, with added cigar box nuances. Elegant, balanced and lush. The wine unfolds with layers of red and blue fruit, spice and well-integrated oak, finishing long and crisp. Lovely. 91/91.

1999 Louis Martini, Merlot, Russian River Valley, California, $22, 1,000 cases. A host of aromas unfold, from black cherries, herbs, and mint to forest floor notes. Loads of cherry fruit, humidor flavors, spice and earthiness work in unison to provide a fun wine to enjoy with dinner. 87/88.

2000 Salmon Harbor, Merlot, Washington State, $8, 6,000 cases. Made in an early drinking style, this wine is light and fruity, with forgiving tannins. Drink over the next year or so. 82/85.

1999 Stonegate, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $28, 4,600 cases. Deep ruby, with a host of black fruit aromas. Full-bodied, lush, with blackberry and plum fruit, a hint of olive, generous vanilla, polished tannins and a lingering aftertaste. 87/87.

1999 Toasted Head, Merlot, Dunnigan Hills, California, $18, 2,145 cases. Mixed berries, leather, smoke and vanilla mingle on the nose and palate, with dill spice evident on the finish. Tannins are modest, the acidity brisk. 82/83.

1999 Trinchero, Merlot, Family Selection, California, $12, 50,000 cases. Wild berries and herbs intermingle on the nose, with plums, cherries, cinnamon, and spicy oak dancing on the palate. 86/88.

1999 Turning Leaf, Merlot, Coastal Reserve, Sonoma County, California, $10, 19,900 cases. Ripe raspberry, pepper, and dark wood notes dominate the nose and palate. Balanced and ready to drink now, this is a nice value wine. 85/88.

Miscellaneous wine glasswine glass

1999 Bodegas Balbi, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, $8. Blackberry, cherry and vanilla aromas are closely followed by round, rich flavors that belie the price. Tannins are very friendly now and this will be a very nice BBQ wine that will please a host of palates. 85/89.

2001 Claar, Nouveau Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington, $8, 40 cases. More of a Rosť of Syrah, the wine exudes strawberry and plum aromas. Light in style and ready to drink now, this little quaffer provides fun strawberry flavors with a dash of pepper. A crowd pleaser. 86/88.

1998 Columbia Winery, Cabernet Franc, Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, $23, 377 cases. Black cherry and cedar wood scents open to flavors of black cherries, tea and cinnamon. Tannins are somewhat green and bitter, which may lessen with bottle age. 84/84.

2000 Columbia Winery, Viognier, Red Willow, Yakima Valley, Washington, $40, 215 cases. Atypical but tasty. Floral accents interweave with peach and pear notes. There is no oak burden to hide the fruit here as neutral barrels were used. Peach and apricot fruit prevails. 86/84.

2000 Coulson, Vintnerís Blend, El Dorado, California, $16, 225 cases. This brilliant garnet wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault. Attractive mixed red fruit aromas are followed by bing cherry and strawberry notes, with a touch of mint and pepper on the long, berry-laden finish. 86/88.

Louis M. Martini 2000 Louis Martini, Gewurztraminer, Russian River Valley, California, $15, 924 cases. Pretty classic lychee and rose petals grace the nose, with a touch of warm honey. Creamy on the palate with threshold sweetness at 0.58%. Grapefruit dominates, with delicate apricot and spice flavors. A nice New World offering. 86/86.

1999 Stone Wolf, Idylle, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $16, 630 cases. Idylle is a late harvest Muller Thurgau wine. Very sweet at 15% residual sugar, the acidity certainly backs up the sweetness. Aromas and flavors are reminiscent of fresh apple sauce, figs and apricots. 88/90.

1999 White Heron, Dry Chenin Blanc, Washington State, $7, 480 cases. Light gold in color, with quince, fresh fig and floral notes. Crisp, clean, and dry, with delicate fruit flavors. Match with mild cheeses or light fish dishes. 86/90.

Petite Sirah wine glass

1999 Granite Springs, Petite Sirah, El Dorado, California, $20, 533 cases. A youthful deep purple color, this is a big boy. Intense black fruit and smoked meat aromas repeat on the palate, with an invigorating blast of cracked black pepper. Substantial tannins become obvious on the lengthy finish. Nice effort. 89/90.

1999 Nevada City, Petite Sirah, Sierra Foothills, California, $NA, 230 cases. This deep ruby beauty is approachable now and will be better with bottle aging. It is loaded with black cherry, blackberry and spice aromas. Very elegant for a Petite Sirah, the wine offers a host of flavors ranging from blackberries to chocolate to spicy sweet vanilla. Tannins are very manageable even at this point. 89/NA.

Pinot Noir wine glass

1999 Indigo Hills, Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California, $10. The black tea, cherry, and subtle oak notes on the nose and palate are supported by well-balanced acidity and silky tannins. The finish is long and lush. A nice food wine. 86/89.

1999 Jekel, Pinot Noir, Monterey, California, $15, 2,765 cases. Raspberry, cherry cola and wood spice aromas and flavors are balanced by silky tannins and nice acidity. There is a creamy vanilla finish. 86/88.

2000 Loring Wine Company, Pinot Noir, Clos Pepe Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills, California, $40, 135 cases. Brilliant garnet, with true to the grape aromatics. Full-bodied, rich, with moderate but silky tannins and sweet oak, the wine carries its 14.7% alcohol well at this point, with no apparent heat. 89/88.

Loring 2000 Loring Wine Company, Pinot Noir, Garysí Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands, California, $40, 135 cases. Dark ruby, with layers of cherries, raspberries, plums and light vanilla on the nose. Full-bodied, with lush fruit flavors, snappy acidity, and supple tannins. The lingering aftertaste has hints of sun-dried tomatoes. 90/89.

2000 MacRostie, Pinot Noir, Carneros, California, $24, 2,100 cases. Cherry, cola, cinnamon spice and toasty oak make a fine statement on the nose. Plucky acidity enlivens the fruit, tea and tobacco leaf flavors. 87/87.

1999 MacRostie, Pinot Noir, Reserve, Carneros, California, $36, 194 cases. This is a very harmonious wine. Silky tannins, crisp acidity, ripe raspberry and cherry fruit, and light vanilla flavors all combine for a charming wine. Very drinkable now. 90/89.

1999 Stone Wolf, Pinot Noir, Barrel Select, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $18. This value priced wine is medium-bodied, with terrific acidity and modest tannins. Tart cherry, plum and tea linger on the senses. A nice match with grilled pork chops. 86/89.

1998 Stone Wolf, Pinot Noir, Legend Reserve, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $38. Their first reserve Pinot is full-bodied and well-balanced. Very concentrated fruit of black cherry and raspberry carries the medium-weight tannins well. Will benefit from a couple of years of aging. 89/88.

Riesling wine glass

2000 Covey Run, Riesling, Washington State, $6, 20,700 cases. Nectarine aromas and flavors were coaxed from the wine. The acidity balances the 2.95% residual sugar. Simple, but will make a decent summer quaffer. 83/84.

2001 Geyser Peak, Riesling, California, $9, 30,000 cases. Rose petals, honeysuckle and peaches greet the nose. Enjoy this wine over the next year for its citrus and nectarine fruit. Delicately sweet at 2.7% residual sugar, with balanced acidity and a clean finish. 86/87.

2000 Jekel, Riesling, Winemakerís Collection, Monterey, California, $10, 22,300 cases. This is a nice new world effort, with citrus, honeysuckle and peach aromas and flavors. Off-dry with very nice acidity, this light to medium-bodied wine will match perfectly with Thai food. 88/89.

2000 Ste. Chapelle, Johannisberg Riesling, Idaho, $6, 56,000 cases. Ripe peach aromas are repeated on the palate. Straightforward, with a crispness that belies the 2.3% residual sugar. At $6 a bottle this will make a nice summer quaffer. 83/86.

Sauvignon Blanc wine glass

2001 Canyon Road, Sauvignon Blanc, California, $9, 24,000 cases. No barrels or malolactic fermentation techniques were used. Straw gold with lovely grapefruit and grassy aromas. Nice acidity sets the stage for the lemongrass and citrus flavors. We need more of these affordable wines unburdened by oak and flabby acidity. Winemakers, are you listening? 86/90.

2000 Covey Run, Fumť Blanc, Columbia Valley, Washington, $9, 25,300 cases. Limes, herbs and cut hay notes are mirrored on the palate, with steely acidity. Simple but tasty. 84/86.

2000 Deerfield Ranch, Sauvignon Blanc, Peterson Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, California, $18, 289 cases. This is not your Chardonnay wannabe, being fermented in neutral oak barrels. Sparkling straw in color with lemongrass and mango aromas. Full-bodied and rich, the fruit really shines here, with refreshing acidity. It matches well with veal and lemon caper sauce. 88/88.

2001 Geyser Peak, Sauvignon Blanc, California, $10. Gold with a green tinge. This wine receives no barrel treatment or malolactic fermentation. Medium-bodied with classic gooseberry, grapefruit and tropical fruit aromas and flavors. The crisp acidity makes this a nice food wine. 86/89.

2000 Kendall-Jackson, Sauvignon Blanc, California, $10. The nose is highlighted by melon, citrus, pineapple and herbal notes. Crisp on the entry, citrus and fig flavors prevail, finishing with light oak nuances. 85/87.

2001 Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, $16. The nose is loaded with tropical fruit, jalapenos and grassy overtones. Plenty of tropical fruit awaits you, pineapple predominant, with passion fruit, fresh mown grass notes, moderate acidity and a long finish. Easy to like. 90/90.

2000 Waterbrook, Sauvignon Blanc, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, Washington, $10. Lemon zest and herbal aromas and flavors are supported by a touch of fresh fig, snappy acidity and a clean finish. 87/90.

Sparkling Wine wine glass

NV Korbel, Blanc de Noirs, California, $11. Pale salmon in color with medium bubbles. Off-dry, with straightforward strawberry and cherry flavors and a crisp finish. 83/85.

Syrah wine glass

1999 Bodegas Balbi, Syrah, Mendoza, Argentina, $8. A simple but honest quaffer that delivers for its price class. Fresh raspberry fruit flavors and soft tannins allow for early consumption with such dishes as roasted chicken. 84/87.

2000 Canyon Road, Shiraz, California, $10, 12,750 cases. This lightly styled wine has black cherry and peppery spice notes, followed by straightforward fruit and a brisk finish. 83/85.

1999 Columbia Winery, Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington, $15. On the nose youíll find black cherries, smoke and roasted meat. Medium-bodied with very rounded tannins, the wine is approachable now. Berry fruit rounds out the wine, with easy acidity. 85/87.

2000 Deerfield Ranch, Syrah, Ladiís Vineyard, Sonoma County, California, $40. Earthy ripe berries, cedar and vanilla spice open up on the nose of this deep ruby Syrah. Very polished, with sweet fruit and oak, layers of flavors unwrap, from juicy berries to forest floor notes. 88/87.

1999 Jekel, Syrah, Monterey, California, $15, 800 cases. Ruby-hued with lovely aromas of violets, plums and spicy oak. Lots of plums, floral notes, lush up-front oak, and just a touch of pepper and cedar in the finish. 86/88.

2000 MacRostie, Syrah, Blue Oaks Vineyard, Paso Robles, California, $20. Smoked meat, red cherries, and white pepper spice highlight this medium-bodied wine. Tannins are very manageable, finishing with moderate vanilla notes. 87/88.

Zinfandel wine glass

2000 Bogle, Zinfandel, Old Vine, California, $11. Made from old head-trained vines in the Amador and Lodi regions. Currants and blackberry jam aromas delight the nose. Brambly fruit and white pepper nuances blend well with the sweet oak and modest tannins. Long, fruity finish. Good value. 86/90.

1999 Deerfield Ranch, Zinfandel, Buchignani Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, California, $40, 380 cases. This is your big boy, with full extract fruit, crisp acids, and high alcohol (16.5%). Fans of the full-blown style will enjoy this wine. 87/85.

1997 Gallo of Sonoma, Zinfandel, Barrelli Creek, Alexander Valley, California, $20. This release has lots of brambly, briary, fruit aromas and flavors, smoky oak notes, and generous tannins that need time. 83/83.

2000 Geyser Peak, Zinfandel, Sonoma County/Cucamonga/Contra Costa, California, $17, 5,100 cases. Deep ruby with aromas of plum jam and vanilla bean. Medium-bodied with jammy/briary fruit, loads of spices, crisp acidity and velvety tannins. A nice, value-priced Zinfandel. 88/90.

1999 Rancho Zabaco, Zinfandel, Stefani Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, California, $25, 3,917 cases. Big jammy fruit besieges the senses, followed by layers of French and American oak, medium-weight tannins, balanced acidity and a black jam finish. 87/87.

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