© 2009 by Randy Buckner
March 2009

Late Winter 2009 Releases

With the severe worldwide economic downturn, you would think that wineries would be lowering their prices to entice buyers. After all, wine is a luxury, and luxuries go by the wayside when things get tight.

Apparently the wineries have not gotten the message. Two of my favorite wine regions, the Bordeaux and Rhone, have unrealistically high pricing. I simply quit buying these wines; I'm sure many others have followed suit. This is not to pick on France. Oregon Pinot Noir has priced itself out of the reach of most people. Many Washington wineries are getting proud of their stratospheric pricing. Many California wines are priced at twice their value and more.

Where will it all end? I wish I had a crystal ball. Maybe the economic crisis will be a wake-up call to vintners.

Another 100 new and current releases are presented for your inspection. The dual rating system evaluates quality (the first number) and value (the second) on a 100-point scale. All wines are tasted from Riedel Vinum glasses after breathing for one hour. No wines scoring below 80 points are listed. All prices are the manufacturer's suggested retail price. Vendor prices are often less expensive. As always, enjoy a bottle with dinner tonight.

Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Blackstone, Sonoma Reserve Rubric, Sonoma, California, $19, 10,000 cases. This deeply-hued wine has a nice mix of black and red berries on the nose, with cedary undertones. Elegant on the entry, with layers of red fruit unfolding on the palate and lingering on the finish; 87/89.

2006 Bohemian Highway, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $8. Light ruby in color and underscored by plums, berries and toast, this is a soft, easy-to-drink burger wine; 82/83.

2005 Chester-Kidder (Long Shadows), Red Wine, Columbia Valley, Washington, $50, 1,586 cases. Aromas of berries, cherries and cedar are muted on the palate. Very polished, but not showing much at this point; 87/86.

2006 Dusted Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Boomtown, Columbia Valley, Washington, $15, 5,000 cases. This ruby-red Cab is highlighted by aromas and flavors of plums, tart cherries and cedar, backed by bright acids and modest tannins; 85/87.

2006 Dusted Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Walla Walla, Washington, $45, 100 cases. Deeply hued, with intense black fruit aromas, the tannins are silky smooth, but firm up on the long berry finish; 89/89.

2005 Feather (Long Shadows), Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington, $60, 1,321 cases. Aromas speak of plums, blackberries, black cherries and cedar. Generous and elegant on the entry, the flavors mirror the nose. Tannins are well managed; 89/88.

2004 Galil Mountain Winery, Yiron, Galilee, Israel, $22. The nose is a warm mix of cherries, berries and coconuts. Well balanced and full on the entry, the wine has a bit of earthiness adding interest to the red and black fruits; 87/89.

2006 Gnarly Head, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $12, 100,000 cases. Garnet in color, with aromas of blackberries, licorice and dried herbs. It is well balanced, straightforward and fruity; 83/85.

2003 Gordon Brothers, Tradition, Columbia Valley, Washington, $45, 478 cases. Aromas of black fruits, warm spices, vanilla and cedar waft from the glass. Fairly rich and balanced, the flavors mirror the nose; 86/85.

2006 Hayman & Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $15. Sawn oak, dill spice and black raspberries dominate the nose, and then repeat on the palate; 82/83.

2006 Hayman & Hill, Meritage, Monterey County, California, $15. Blue and black fruits cascade from the nose to the mouth. Smooth and balanced, with supple tannins. Very good value; 85/88.

2007 The Little Penguin, Cabernet Sauvignon, South Eastern Australia, $7. Aromas speak of boysenberries, cola and cedar. Tart acidity backs the simple fruit flavors; 81/82.

2006 Mirassou, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $12. This wine is simple and fruity, but ever so easy to drink for the berry and cherry flavors. Good value; 84/86.

2006 Napa Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $26, 14,000 cases. Aromas and flavors are underscored by plums, blackberries, vanilla and currants, backed by crisp acids and firm tannins; 85/85.

2005 Waterstone, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, $26, 8,073 cases. Black cherries and cedar highlight the aromas and flavors, with drying, bitter tannins; 83/82.

2006 Windmill, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi, California, $12. Spicy oak and cherry cola notes carry from the nose to the mouth. Soft tannins make for easy quaffing; 82/83.


2007 Blackstone, Chardonnay, Reserve, Sonoma County, California, $16. This light gold Chardonnay is very aromatic, with pear, crème brulee and floral notes that carry throughout. Crisp and flavorful; 88/90.

2007 Blackstone, Chardonnay, Winemaker Select, Monterey County, California, $12. Toasty oak, caramel and peach aromas and flavors are backed by bright acidity. Pair with a rotisserie chicken; 84/86.

2007 Bohemian Highway, Chardonnay, California, $8. This simple quaffer offers the consumer pear, peach, and toasty vanilla highlights; 81/82.

2007 Dusted Valley, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington, $24, 302 cases. A light bouquet of pear and peach nuances leads to delicate stone fruit flavors. Crisp and easy to drink; 86/86.

2007 Dusted Valley, Chardonnay, Boomtown, Columbia Valley, Washington, $13, 1,200 cases. The aromas speak of peaches, pears, butter and vanilla. Crisp and balanced, with flavors echoing the nose. Good value; 85/88.

2007 Dusted Valley, Chardonnay, Old Vive, Yakima Valley, Washington, $30, 189 cases. This wine is underscored by pears, stone fruit and leesy notes. Lean and well balanced, you'll find very food-friendly acidity; 87/87.

2007 Gordon Brothers, Chardonnay, Reserve, Columbia Valley, Washington, $23, 200 cases. Butterscotch, cloves and toasty oak dominates the nose and palate, with underlying pear and apple fruit seeking attention; 84/84.

2007 Hayman & Hill, Chardonnay, Reserve Selection, Russian River Valley, California, $15. Light gold in color, with melon, peach and light oak aromas and flavors, the wine is balanced and smooth. Good value; 85/88.

2007 Kenwood, Chardonnay, Reserve, Russian River Valley, California, $25, 1,050 cases. Toasty oak, spice, green apples and lemons underscore this soft, creamy wine. Long finish; 85/85.

2007 Lindemans, Chardonnay, Bin 65, South Eastern Australia, $8. Here's another down under value. Butterscotch, melon and spice aromas and flavors are backed by tangy acids and a moderate finish; 85/88.

2007 The Little Penguin, Chardonnay, South Eastern Australia, $7. Apple, butterscotch and vanilla accents are presented in a straightforward package; 81/82.

2007 Napa Cellars, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, $24, 20,000 cases. Apples, cloves, melons and vanilla creams present on the palate. Soft and creamy, with similar fruit flavors; 86/86.

2007 Souverain, Chardonnay, Alexander Valley, California, $17, 35,000 cases. Toasty oak, butter, pear and apple nuances carry throughout. Fruity and well balanced, with a long finish; 86/88.

2007 Sterling, Chardonnay, Mendocino, California, $13. This balanced but somewhat simple quaffer offers apple, lemon and peach nuances. Drink early on; 84/86.

2007 Viu Manent, Chardonnay, Valle de Colchagua, Chile, $8. Light gold, with aromas of butterscotch, pears and apples that expand on the palate, all backed by tangy acidity. Good value; 86/89.

2007 Waterstone, Chardonnay, Carneros, California, $18. Highlighted by toasty oak, apples and stone fruit, this light gold wine is crisp, balanced and straightforward. Pair with lemon chicken; 84/84.

2007 Windmill, Chardonnay, Lodi, California, $12. Toasty oak, citrus oil and stone fruit present on the nose and palate, in a soft, straightforward package; 81/82.


2006 Blackstone, Merlot, Reserve, Sonoma, California, $16, 20,000 cases. Black cherries, new leather and cedar aromas expand on the palate. Modest tannins and bright acids add structure; 85/87.

2006 Blackstone, Merlot, Winemaker Select, California, $12. Cherries, berries, warm spices and oak are presented in a straightforward package, with grainy tannins; 82/82.

2006 Bohemian Highway, Merlot, California, $8. Here's a soft, simple quaff with cherry cola, spice and toasty notes; 80/80.

2006 Dusted Valley, BFM, Columbia Valley, Washington, $38, 200 cases. This Merlot blend presents mixed red and black fruits to the nose and palate, backed by generous but rounded tannins; 86/86.

2006 Hayman & Hill, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $15. Highlighted by black cherries, plums, cedar and tobacco, the wine is medium bodied, simple and tannic; 83/84.

2006 Kenwood, Merlot, Sonoma County, California, $16, 41,500 cases. Mixed berries, cedar and spice carry from nose to palate. Tannins are drying; 83/83.

2005 Kenwood, Merlot, Reserve, Sonoma, California; $25, 800 cases. The aromas and flavors are underscored by berries, spice and cedar. Balanced, but tannins are drying; 85/85.

2007 The Little Penguin, Merlot, South Eastern Australia, $7. Here's a simple, fruity burger wine. Drink early on for the cherry cola and spicy nuances; 80/80.

2005 Luna, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $34. Ripe berries, tobacco and cedar run the length of the wine. Tannins are firm but ripe - give it bottle time; 86/86.

2006 Mirassou, Merlot, California, $12. Drink this simple, fruity wine early on for the black cherry and earthy notes; 82/82.

2006 Napa Cellars, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $22, 10,000 cases. The nose is highlighted by cherry jam, new leather and vanilla. The wine is smooth and polished on the entry, with bright acids and a lingering cherry/tea finish; 85/85.

2006 Souverain, Merlot, Alexander Valley, California, $19, 19,000 cases. Mixed blue and black fruits present on the nose and palate, with cedary overtones. It's well rounded in the mouth, but tannins are drying; 84/84.

2007 Viu Manent, Merlot, Valle de Colchagua, Chile, $8. Aromas and flavors of berries, toasty oak and vanilla are backed by modest tannins and crisp acids; 84/87.


2007 Dusted Valley, Grenache, Columbia Valley, Washington, $26, 175 cases. Aromas of cherries, berries, plums and cedar radiate from this dark garnet wine. Medium bodied, well balanced and fruity, the flavors mirror the nose; 87/87.

2007 Hayman & Hill, Interchange, Santa Barbara County, California, $15. A blend of four white wine varietals, the wine is underscored with citrus, pear and butterscotch nuances. It is crisp, with a long aftertaste; 85/87.

2006 Ravenswood, Petite Sirah, Vintners Blend, California, $10. Almost black in the glass, with a spicy blackberry nose, they managed to harness the tannins quite nicely. Although one-dimensional, this is a dandy BBQ wine; 84/87.

2007 Viu Manent, Malbec, Valle de Colchagua, Chile, $8. You'll find a pleasant mix of berries, cherries and plums across the board, wrapped up in a medium-bodied, well-balanced package; 86/89.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Pinot Gris

2007 Bohemian Highway, Pinot Grigio, California, $8. A simple wine to quaff without much analysis - enjoy for the pear and citrus rind notes; 80/80.

2007 Dusted Valley, Pinot Gris, Boomtown, Columbia Valley, Washington, $13, 1,200 cases. Aromas of citrus and melon give way to melon and stone fruit flavors. Crisp, lean and value priced; 86/88.

2007 The Little Penguin, Pinot Grigio, South Eastern Australia, $7. Here's a simple, crisp quaffer highlighted by lemon, peach and pear notes; 80/80.

2007 Luna, Pinot Grigio, Napa County, California, $18, 36,000 cases. Citrus and tropical fruit accents carry from nose to mouth, backed by bright acidity; 87/87.

2007 Mirassou, Pinot Grigio, California, $12. Straightforward but tasty - enjoy now for the melon, peach and citrus highlights; 83/84.

Pinot Noir

2006 Blackstone, Pinot Noir, Reserve, Sonoma, California, $19, 17,000 cases. Cherries, tea leaves and toasty oak highlight the nose, while flavors speak of spiced black cherries; 85/87.

2007 Blackstone, Pinot Noir, Winemaker Select, California, $12. Simple and easy to quaff, enjoy now for the plum, tea and cherry cola highlights; 83/84.

2007 Hayman & Hill, Pinot Noir, Reserve Selection, Santa Lucia Highlands, California, $18. Medium bodied, crisp and fruity, this value wine offers red cherry, cola and strawberry accents; 85/87.

2006 Mark West, Pinot Noir, California, $12. This wine offers stunning value. Surprisingly fruity and complex for the price class, you'll find layers of cherries and berries, with a hint of spice. Buy by the case; 86/91.

2006 Maysara, Pinot Noir, Jamsheed, McMinnville, Oregon, $25, 3,000 cases. This wine is a breath of fresh air among the stratospheric prices of most Oregon Pinots. Light bodied and elegant, the wine is defined by red cherries, new leather and just a hint of game; 89/89.


2007 Lindemans, Riesling, Bin 75, South Eastern Australia, $8. Lime, slate and minerals unfold on the nose and palate, in a balanced, straightforward package; 84/87.

2007 Mirassou, Riesling, California, $12. Simple, balanced and off-dry, drink this one early on for the spicy apricots and slate accents; 82/82.

2007 Poet's Leap (Long Shadows), Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, $20, 1,904 cases. Off-dry, crisp and well balanced, the wine is highlighted by citrus rind, peach and slate nuances; 88/88.


2005 Pietra Santa, Sangiovese, Cienega Valley, California, $18, 1,804 cases. Aromas of black cherries, anise and cedar morph into tart, tannic cherry/berry flavors; 84/85.

2006 Valley of the Moon, Sangiovese, Sonoma County, California, $16, 2,350 cases. Dried cherry, leather and barrel notes carry throughout, with crisp acids and supple tannins giving structure; 86/88.

Sauvignon Blanc

2007 Bohemian Highway, Sauvignon Blanc, California, $8. A pretty decent quaff for the price point, the wine offers up tropical fruits and sauvignon blanc herbaceousness; 82/83.

2007 Dry Creek, Fumé Blanc, Sonoma County, California, $14.50, 29,908 cases. Grapefruit and mown grass dominate the nose, whereas tropical fruits carry the palate. Refreshing; 85/85.

2006 Dry Creek, Estate Fumé Blanc, DCV3, Dry Creek Valley, California, $25, 497 cases. Crisp, balanced, with lean flavors that mirror the citrus and cut grass bouquet; 85/84.

2006 Dry Creek, Taylor's Vineyard Musqué, Dry Creek Valley, California, $25, 539 cases. Melon and citrus peel aromas carry through on the palate as well, with a modest finish; 85/84.

2007 Kenwood, Sauvignon Blanc, Reserve, Sonoma County, California, $20, 1,475 cases. Grapefruit zest and tropical fruit nuances carry from nose to mouth. Light, refreshing and tasty; 87/87.

2007 Napa Cellars, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California, $18, 7,000 cases. Straw gold in color, balanced and crisp, the wine displays aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, limes and lemongrass; 85/85.

2007 Sterling, Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino, California, $13. Tropical and citrus fruit highlight the nose, but the wine is relatively simple on the palate, although the acidity is food-friendly; 84/84.


2001 Bodegas Julian Chivite, Coleccion 125 Reserva, Navarra, Spain, $40. Aromas of black fruits, cigar leaf and wormwood radiate from this deeply-hued wine. It is full and elegant in the mouth, with tannins that firm up of the back end. Flavors mirror the nose. This will only get better with aging; 88+/88+.

2007 Bodegas Ochoa, Rosado Garnacha, Navarra, Spain, $8.50. Sporting a light cranberry color, this crisp, balanced wine delivers aromas and flavors of crisp berry fruit. Serve slightly chilled. Killer value; 86/90.

2004 Bodegas San Martin, Senorio de Unx Crianza, Navarra, Spain, $13. The nose is a complex mix of berries, warm spices, vanilla and leather. Crisp, well balanced and fruity, the palate reveals berry fruit with a hint of juniper berries. Good value; 85/88.

2004 Compania Vitivinicola Tandem, aRS Nova, Navarra, Spain, $20. Blackberries, blueberries, anise and thyme unfold on the nose, while black fruits prevail on the palate. Crisp, with moderate tannins, this wine will pair well with a hearty beef stew; 86/87.

2007 Martin Codax, Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain, $15, 30,000 cases. Crisp, straightforward and friendly, the wine is highlighted by citrus peel, pears and pineapples; 84/85.

2006 Martin Codax, Tempranillo, Rioja Alta, Spain, $15, 35,000 cases. Light, crisp and refreshing, the dried cherry, cherry jam and vanilla flavors will pair well with grilled meats or Cajun-styled fish; 85/87.

2007 Tapeña, Verdejo, Tierra de Castilla, Spain, $10. Lemons and peaches underscore this balanced, straightforward wine. Pair with a summer salad; 83/85.

Sparkling Wine

NV Bandarossa, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOC Extra Dry, Italy, $20. A medium-fine bead delivers pear and leesy aromas. Crisp and lively in the mouth, there's nice complexity for the price class; 88/90.

NV Col Vetoraz, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOC Brut, Italy, $17. Pears, berries and brioche aromas lead to a medium-fine mousse. Very crisp and flavorful on the entry, there's a nice mineral component that shines through; 88/91.

NV Frank Family, Blanc de Noirs, Napa Valley Champagne, California, $35. This brass-colored sparkler is off-dry and crisp, very toasty, with apple and citrus nuances; 84/84.

2000 J, Brut, Russian River Valley, California, $50, 3,000 cases. The fine bead delivers a complex bouquet of brioche, roasted nuts, green apples and citrus peel. It is lush, complex and creamy, yet delightfully crisp; 89/89.

NV Korbel, California Champagne, Blanc de Noirs, $12, 17,000 cases. Sporting a shiny brass color, this crisp, off-dry sparkler offers good value. Apples and citrus fruit predominate; 85/88.

NV Le Colture, Fagher, di Valdobbiadene DOC Brut, Italy, $14. Here's another value Italian sparkler that is defined by citrus, pear and bread dough accents. Light, crisp and refreshing, it is customary to serve this wine with fish and vegetable hors d'oeuvres; 86/89.

NV Yellowglen, Pink, Australia, $12. This value sparkler is pale salmon with a medium bead. Citrus and berries unfold on the nose, while flavors reveal peach and tangerine nuances; 85/90.


2006 Betz Family, Syrah, La Serenne, Columbia Valley, Washington, $55, 525 cases. This wine showcases Dick Boushey's fruit. The complex bouquet reveals an enticing mix of blueberries, blackberries, plums and French oak. Full and lush on the palate, the firm but ripe tannins will benefit from a few years of patient aging; 92/92.

2007 Dusted Valley, Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Washington, $28, 345 cases. This purple/red Syrah has aromas of mixed black fruits and cedar. Crisp, smooth and restrained, the black fruits continue on the long finish; 88/88.

2006 Dusted Valley, Syrah, Boomtown, Columbia Valley, Washington, $15, 1,500 cases. Smokey, earthy notes and berries underscore the aromas and flavors of this value wine; 86/89.

2006 Dusted Valley, Syrah, Reserve, Walla Walla Valley, Washington, $45, 144 cases. Full and lush, this is a mouthful of wine, with black fruits unfolding endlessly. The finish is long and lush; 91/91.

2007 Dusted Valley, Syrah, Stained Tooth, Columbia Valley, Washington, $24, 1,205 cases. The bouquet is a lovely mix of berries, cherries and cedar. Full, lush and silky in the mouth, the wine is very fruity, with a long finish; 89/90.

2007 The Little Penguin, Shiraz, South Eastern Australia, $7. This simple, crisp quaffer is defined by berries, plums and smoke; 80/80.

2005 6th Sense (Michael-David), Syrah, Lodi, California, $17. Smoky oak and blackberries dominate the nose and palate. Crisp, with a long berry finish; 85/87.

2006 Windmill, Syrah, Lodi, California, $12. Soft and simple, the wine is underscored by smoky oak and dark berry highlights; 82/83.

2004 Yarden (Golan Heights), Syrah, Galilee, Israel, $28. Ripe to the point of being raisined, the wine is very fruity but too Port-like for my tastes. Heat damaged? 82/82.


2006 Lake Sonoma, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, California, $19, 4,000 cases. Brambly aromas of raspberries and cedar lead to a medium bodied, straightforward wine with chewy tannins; 83/84.

2006 Lake Sonoma, Zinfandel, Saini Farms Old Vine, Dry Creek Valley, California, $22, 1,200 cases. Cherries, berries and warm spices underscore the wine. It's smooth and balanced, with a long aftertaste; 85/85.

2006 Mazzocco, Zinfandel, Stone, Alexander Valley, California, $29, 600 cases. Bramble berries, mocha and cedar unfold on the nose. Generous on the palate, with similar flavors, you do not sense any heat from the 15.9% alcohol; 88/88.

2006 Mazzocco, Zinfandel, West Dry Creek, Dry Creek Valley, California, $32, 150 cases. Plums, currants and warm spices define the sensory profile of this medium-bodied wine. Firm but ripe tannins are noted on the long, lush finish; 89/89.

2006 Napa Cellars, Zinfandel, Napa Valley, California, $22, 9,000 cases. Mixed berry jam, cedar and dill spice aromas lead to jammy fruit flavors and zippy acidity - perfect for BBQ; 86/87.

Back to Bucko's New Releases Index Page