© 2008 by Randy Buckner
July 2008

Summer 2008 Releases

This month you'll find numerous white wines and rosé wines from around the world to refresh you during the dog days of summer. You'll still need some big reds to go with that grilled steak as well.

Speaking of summer, Port is usually the farthest thing on your mind when thinking of wine to serve. Don't miss out on enjoying a chilled Tawny Port as the sun sets and the evening cools off.

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

2005 Charles Krug, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville, Napa Valley, $26. This deeply-hued red gives off aromas and flavors of blackberries, cedar and dusty notes. Medium bodied, smooth and elegant on the entry, the tannins firm up on the finish; 87/88.

2005 Chateau Julien, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Monterey County, California, $36. Aromas and flavors of blackberries, cassis and sweet oak radiate from this deeply-hued wine. Tannins are firm and drying and need bottle time; 86/86.

2005 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Cabernet Sauvignon, Canoe Ridge Estate, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington, $28, 3,000 cases. Black fruits, barrel notes and a hint of violets grace the nose and palate. Medium bodied, fruity and tannic, I'd give this one 3-4 years of patient aging; 87/88.

2005 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Cabernet Sauvignon, Indian Wells, Columbia Valley, Washington, $18, 34,000 cases. Blackberries, cedar and vanilla highlight the nose. Berries and cherries abound on the palate, backed by crisp acids and firm tannins. Give it bottle time to mature; 87/89.

2005 Clif Bar, Cabernet Sauvignon, kit's killer cab, Napa Valley, California, $35, 450 cases. Blackberries, Baker's chocolate and cigar leaf nuances underscore the wine. While full and elegant on the entry, the tannins firm up on the back end. Give it time; 88/88.

2006 Happy Camper, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $9, 3,500 cases. Simple, fruity and quaffable, drink this one now for the blackberry and black cherry flavors; 81/82.

2004 Jordan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, California, $58. Deep ruby in color, the wine is defined by cassis, cigar leaf, cedar and dark chocolate nuances. Rounded tannins and crisp acids give an elegant, lively mouth feel; 87/86.

2005 Novelty Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington, $25, 4,108 cases. Blackberries, violets and toasty oak underscore the wine. Very elegant on the entry, the wine has supple tannins and food-friendly acidity. Approachable now; 88/89.

2006 (oops), Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle Central, Chile, $12. Simple and tannic, with modest fruit, I'd drink this one early on before the cherry and plum fruit fades; 82/82.

2005 Patit Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Washington, $29, 333 cases. This deeply-hued wine gives off aromas and flavors of black cherries, cedar and cocoa. Very well structured - this one is begging for a grilled rib-eye steak; 89/90.

2006 Redwood Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $8, 380,000 cases. Simple but quaffable, the black cherry fruit and smooth tannins makes for a decent burger wine; 80/80.


2006 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Chardonnay, Canoe Ridge Estate, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington, $22, 10,000 cases. Aromas speak of toasty oak, vanilla, apples and pears. On the palate the wine is soft and creamy, with more apple and pear fruit than the nose portends; 85/85.

2006 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Chardonnay, Cold Creek Vineyards, Columbia Valley, Washington, $25. The wine is dominated by buttery oak and caramel notes, with underlying lemon and green apple fruit. Very soft, very oaky; 81/80.

2006 E Minor, Chardonnay, Barossa Valley, Australia, $13. Citrusy, with dusty notes, the wine is lean and clean, without an oak burden. A nice, easy quaff; 84/86.

2006 Gnarly Head, Chardonnay, California, $12, 70,000 cases. Crisp, balanced and refreshing, the wine is dominated by tropical fruits, with modest oak nuances underlying; 85/87.

2006 Happy Camper, Chardonnay, $9, 3,500 cases. A simple, balanced wine with apple and butter nuances; 81/82.

2006 Jordan, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California, $30. Somewhat one-dimensional, but fruit driven, the wine is crisp and creamy in the mouth, with fresh apple and buttered toast nuances; 85/84.

2006 Novelty Hill, Chardonnay, Stillwater Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington, $22, 1,375 cases. Nuances of apples, toast and roasted nuts carry from the nose to the palate. Food-friendly acids round out the package; 87/88.

2007 Patit Creek, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington, $NA, 149 cases. Apples and sweet cream butter grace the nose. While balanced and fruity in the mouth, there is a bitter bite noted; 84/NA.

2006 Pietra Santa, Chardonnay, Central Coast, California, $15, 2,993 cases. Here's a good-value wine that is crisp, fruit forward and refreshing. Pears and muskmelons define the wine, and this should pair well with lemon chicken; 86/89.

2006 Redwood Creek, Chardonnay, California, $8, 430,000 cases. This is a soft, simple quaff, with citrus and melon highlights; 80/80.

2007 Valley of the Moon, Chardonnay, Unoaked, Russian River Valley, California, $16, 2,000 cases. Here's another good-value, food-friendly Chardonnay. Well balanced and fruity, enjoy the wine now for the nectarine and melon nuances; 86/89.


2005 Chateau Julien, Merlot, Private Reserve, Monterey County, California, $36. The nose is defined by cassis, licorice and oak influence. Firm drying tannins give way to mixed berry flavors; 85/84.

2005 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Merlot, Canoe Ridge Estate, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington, $22. Black cherries, dark wood and spice grace the nose. Well balanced and friendly to drink, the wine is packed with bright fruit flavors; 87/88.

2005 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Merlot, Cold Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington, $26, 1,500 cases. Black fruits, chocolate and spices carry throughout the length of the wine. While well balanced, the firm tannins need significant bottle time to resolve; 86/87.

2005 Clos Du Val, Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $26, 14,000 cases. Fruity and elegant in the mouth, the wine reveals blackberry, olive, dried herbs and cedar accents, finishing with slightly bitter tannins; 86/86.

2005 Gnarly Head, Merlot, California, $12, 70,000 cases. While the nose is highlighted by black cherries, plums and generous smoky oak, the wood dominates the palate, obscuring the underlying black fruit; 82/82.

2006 Happy Camper, Merlot, California, $9, 3,500 cases. Nuances of plums, berries and toast underscore this simple wine. Tannins are coarse-grained; 80/80.

2005 Kendall-Jackson, Merlot, Vintner's Reserve, California, $19. Ruby red, with aromas of black cherries, cedar and tobacco. The wine is well balanced, with straightforward fruit flavors and a lengthy finish; 85/85.

2005 Novelty Hill, Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington, $22, 2,979 cases. Tart cherry, plum and road tar aromas morph into cherries, berries and barrel notes on the palate; 86/86.

2005 Patit Creek, Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, Washington, $29, 275 cases. This balanced, elegant Merlot is defined by mixed berries, chocolate and cedary oak. Firm but ripe tannins add structure; 88/88.

2004 Pietra Santa, Merlot, Cienega Valley, California, $15, 2,021 cases. Highlighted by plums, cherries and cedary oak, the wine is straightforward and fruity, with drying tannins; 83/84.

2005 Primus, Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Casablanca Valley, Chile, $21. This Merlot-predominant blend reveals accents of black cherries, sage and Chinese Five Spice. Give it some bottle time to calm the tannins. Perfect for BBQ; 86/87.

2006 Redwood Creek, Merlot, California, $8, 235,000 cases. Simple and quaffable for the plum and cola notes, however the tannins are a bit drying; 80/80.


2005 Clif, Red Wine, The Climber, California, $15, 5,000 cases. A blend of five red varieties. Just like the grapes comprising the wine, you'll find a mélange of fruit flavors. Friendly right now, this is a serious BBQ wine at a buy-me-by-the-case price; 86/88.

2007 Clif, White Wine, The Climber, California, $12.50, 5,400 cases. A blend of four white varieties. The nose is highlighted by nuances of grapefruit, honeysuckle and terpenes. Delightfully crisp and well balanced, you'll find layers of fruit flavors. Excellent value; 87/90.

2005 Golden Kaan, Pinotage, Western Cape, South Africa, $10, 8,000 cases imported. Highlights of cherries, wormwood and earth are backed by friendly tannins; 83/84.

2007 Kenwood, Gewurztraminer, Sonoma County, California, $11, 800 cases. This straw-colored wine radiates lychee and rose petal aromas. A hint of sweetness enhances the peach and honeysuckle flavors; 85/86.

2005 Kenwood, Red Table Wine, California, $9, 40,100 cases. Blackberries, cedar, nutmeg and dill spices are presented in a straightforward, balanced and fruity package - think grilled burgers; 82/83.

2006 Kenwood, White Table Wine, California, $9, 13,400 cases. Underscored by citrus, melon and toasty oak, this wine is soft, simple and quaffable; 82/83.

2006 Novelty Hill, Roussane, Stillwater Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington, $22, 485 cases. The nose reveals a mix of citrus peel, apples and a touch of nectarines. Well structured, crisp and fruity, this should pair well with a shellfish medley; 87/88.

2006 (oops), Cabernet Franc Carmenère, Valle Central, Chile, $12. This soft, simple fruity quaff offers up plum, chocolate and coffee highlights; 83/84.

2006 (oops), Carmenère Merlot, Valle Central, Chile, $12. Soft and easy to drink, I'd enjoy the wine now for the black cherry, herbs and plum nuances; 85/88.

Pinot Gris

2007 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, Washington, $13. This pale straw wine is soft and simple, with pear and spices across the board; 83/83.

2006 Stellina di Notte, Pinot Grigio, Delle Venezie IGT, Italy, $10. This straw-colored Pinot Grigio gives off aromas of peaches, melons and pears. Crisp and refreshing, the bright fruit flavors echo the nose. Good value; 87/90.

Pinot Noir

2006 Clos Du Val, Pinot Noir, Carneros, California, $30, 8,000 cases. This medium-bodied, fruity Pinot displays strawberries, cherries and cinnamon highlights, but the tannins have a bitter bite; 84/84.


Dow's, 10 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal, $32. Aromas and flavors are reminiscent of warm spices, roasted nuts and baklava. The smooth finish is fruity and nutty; 88/88.

Dow's, 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal, $56. This wine is medium-tawny in color, with spices, brown sugar and raisin aromas. Very smooth, with more intensity than their 10 Year Old, the finish screams roasted nuts and raisins; 91/91.

Graham's, 10 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal, $34. The aromas speak of brown sugar and warm spices. Smooth and nutty on the entry, the flavors echo the nose. The protracted finish has intense hazelnut nuances. Terrific value; 90/91.

Graham's, 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal, $57. Warm spices and rum raisins define the aromas and flavors here. Elegant, smooth and complex, the finish has intense brown sugar and hazelnut nuances; 91/91.

Smith Woodhouse, 10 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal, $31. Defined by spices, brown sugar and a hint of raisins, the wine is smooth, complex and flavorful, with a long hazelnut finish; 89/89.

1994 Smith Woodhouse, Colheita Tawny Port, Portugal, $46. This is an elegant, silky, flavorful wine, but a little angular. Raisins, spices and roasted nuts carry throughout; 88/88.


2007 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, $10. Off-dry, crisp and refreshing, this is a real value for the summer. Enjoy now for the lime, white peach and honeysuckle aromas and flavors; 87/90.

2007 Eroica, Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, $22. Aromas speak of key limes, blood oranges and floral notes. Off-dry, balanced and complex, the flavors mirror the nose. With more acidity, the wine would be a killer; 89/89.

2007 Leasingham, Riesling, Bin 7, Clare Valley, Australia, $16. I continue to be impressed with Clare Valley Rieslings. Lemons, minerals and floral notes expand on the nose and palate. Very crisp, dry and refreshing, this is the perfect foil for shellfish or lemon chicken; 89/91.

2006 Leasingham, Riesling, Magnus, Clare Valley, Australia, $12. Highlighted by lemons, wet stones and peach nuances, the wine is off-dry, crisp and well balanced. There's a lot going on here for 12 bucks; 88/90.

2007 Patit Creek, Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, $16, 250 cases. Off-dry, balanced and fruity, the aromas and flavors speak of citrus, pears and floral notes; 87/88.

2007 Three Rivers, Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, $19, 650 cases. The nose is a lovely mix of pears, orange blossoms and wet stones. Off-dry and fruity, but the wine needs a little more acidity to be serious about food pairings; 85/85.


2007 Kenwood, Pinot Noir Rosé, Russian River Valley, California, $13, 4,700 cases. Displaying a coral pink color, the wine had red berry and tropical fruit aromas. Simple, balanced, with modest red berry flavors; 83/83.

2007 Montes Cherub, Rosé of Syrah, Colchagua Valley, Chile, $18. Sporting a lovely watermelon color, the wine reveals delightful strawberry, spice and eucalyptus highlights. Balanced and fruity in the mouth, this will pair with a host of foods from appetizers to rotisserie chicken; 87/87.

2006 St. Supéry, Rosé of Merlot, Napa Valley, California, $19. The lovely color sets the stage for a wine abounding in strawberry aromas and flavors, changing to red cherries on the lengthy finish; 86/86.

2007 Three Rivers, Estate Rosé, Walla Walla, Washington, $10, 300 cases. The wine has the color of a Tequila sunrise. Red cherries and strawberries highlight this soft, fruity wine. Being low in acidity, I'd pair this with a Dijonnais salad; 84/84.

2007 Valley of the Moon, Rosato di Sangiovese, Sonoma County, California, $16, 2,400 cases. Soft, off-dry and quite friendly, the wine could use a little more acidity to make the strawberry and grapefruit zest nuances really sing; 85/85.

Sauvignon Blanc

2007 Charles Krug, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California, $18, 18,189 cases. Grapefruit, melon and tropical fruit nuances abound on the nose and palate. Elegant and fruity in the mouth - if this had a tad more acidity it would be a killer; 88/88.

2007 Golden Kaan, Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa, $10, 5,000 cases imported. The wine starts out with nice aromas and flavors of cut grass and grapefruit zest, but the soft acidity leaves you wanting; 82/82.

2007 Kendall-Jackson, Sauvignon Blanc, Vintner's Reserve, California, $11. This straw-colored wine gives off aromas of melons, tropicals and citrus fruit. Balanced, fruity and easy to like, especially at the price point; 86/88.

2007 Kenwood, Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, California, $13, 82,000 cases. Tropical fruit and lemongrass highlights the nose. Soft, balanced and fruity, the wine has modest fruit flavors; 84/84.

2006 Markham, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California, $17. Citrus, green fig and melon nuances highlight the nose. It's balanced, but generic - not your typical SB profile; 84/84.

2006 Novelty Hill, Sauvignon Blanc, Stillwater Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington, $19, 999 cases. While the nose has cut grass and citrus aromas, the flavors are somewhat atypical, with crisp lemony nuances; 84/84.

2007 Pedroncelli, Sauvignon Blanc, East Side Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley, California, $12, 1,700 cases. Citrus and white flowers unfold on the nose. Straightforward, with melon and citrus highlights; 82/82.

NV Premius, Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux, France, $11. The nose is filled with citrus and grassy nuances, which repeat on the palate. Balanced, refreshing and inviting; 85/86.

2007 Sonoma Vineyards, Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, California, $15. Tropical fruit and grassy aromas carry over to the palate, backed by a crisp framework; 86/86.

2007 Souverain, Sauvignon Blanc, Alexander Valley, California, $15, 12,600 cases. The nose is loaded with accents of grapefruit zest, tropical fruits and dried herbs. Oak that was not apparent on the nose is very noticeable on the palate - the fruit holds up at this point; 85/85.

2007 Starborough, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, $13, 40,000 cases. The wine is very aromatic, with tropical fruit and gooseberries abounding. Crisp and fruity in the mouth, this one is for fans of the grassy, gooseberry style; 88/89.

2007 Sterling, Sauvignon Blanc, Vintner's Collection, Central Coast, California, $9. Simple and crisp, I'd enjoy this one now for the citrus and melon nuances; 83/85.

2007 Sterling, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa County, California, $13. While the nose reveals tropical fruit, citrus peel and melon notes, the palate is less expressive. Soft and easy to drink; 84/84.


2007 Argos (Maior de Mendoza), Albariño, D.O. Rias Baixas, Spain, $NA. Citrus and white peaches unfold on the nose. Crisp and fruity, with long persistence, this wine demands a shellfish accompaniment; 88/NA.

2007 Cermeño (Covitoro), Malvasia, D.O. Toro, Spain, $NA. Green apple and melon accents radiate from this straw-colored wine. Lean, crisp and refreshing, the wine reminds me of an unoaked Chardonnay; 88/NA.

2007 Flama Roja (Castell d'Or), D.O. Tarragona, Spain, $NA. Consisting of 80 percent Macabeo and 20 percent Parellada, the wine is very aromatic, with apples and pears in abundance. Lean and crisp on the palate, this is a perfect shellfish wine; 86/NA.

2006 Montecillo, Blanco, Rioja Alta, Spain, $9. Nuances of apples, citrus peel and almonds define the wine. Light, balanced and clean, this will pair nicely with white fish. 100 percent Viura; 84/86.

2006 Osborne, Solaz Blanco, Tierra de Castilla, Spain, $9. Straw gold with a green sheen. Floral notes and white peaches underscore the wine. Straightforward and refreshing, this wine will pair well with a light fish dish. 100 percent Viura; 84/86.

2005 Pilgrim (Bodegas y Vinedos Agribergidum), Mencia Roble, D.O., Bierzo, Spain, $NA. This purple/red wine radiates plums, black cherries and coffee beans. Medium bodied, with modest tannins, this one is made for BBQ; 86/NA.

2007 Riolanc, Vendimia Selecctionada, D.O.C. Rioja, Spain, $14. This deep purple wine abounds with plums and berries, with a hint of white peppercorns. Bright acidity and modest tannins give necessary structure to stand up to grilled foods; 85/87.

2004 Valderibas (Roberto Ijalba), Crianza, D.O.C. Rioja, Spain, $18. If you have ever wondered why a critic uses the word meaty, smell and taste this wine. It has ripe plum and cherry fruit, leather and raw meat. Well balanced and fruity, this will pair well with steak smothered in mushrooms; 87/88.

2006 Vionta, Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain, $16. Citrus, melon and lychee notes highlight this crisp, well-structured wine. This one is begging for a shellfish accompaniment; 88/88.

Sparkling Wine

NV Barefoot Bubbly, Chardonnay, California, $11, 36,000 cases. Light gold, with a medium bead, this refreshing sparkler delivers straightforward apple aromas and flavors; 81/81.

NV Barefoot Bubbly, Pinot Grigio, California, $11, 36,000 cases. A medium to large bead carries a floral, citrusy nose. Off-dry, simple but a fun quaff to enjoy with those summer deck parties; 80/80.

NV Barefoot Bubbly, White Zinfandel, California, $11, 36,000 cases. Sweet at 4.2 percent residual sugar, the wine delivers simple watermelon and strawberry nuances across the spectrum; 80/80.

NV Delamotte, Brut, Champagne, France, $50, 4,000 cases imported. Medium-fine bubbles course through this straw-gold Champagne, delivering a toasty, nutty, citrusy bouquet. On the palate the wine shows excellent balance and lovely complexity; 90/90.

2005 Schramsberg, Blanc de Blanc, California, $35, 22,600 cases. Highlighted by apples, lemons and toast, this sparkler is crisp, refreshing and shows nice complexity; 89/90.

2005 Schramsberg, Blanc de Noirs, California, $37, 10,000 cases. Smooth and creamy, with a medium-fine bead, the wine is highlighted by peach, orange blossom and spicy nuances; 87/87.


2005 E Minor, Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia, $13. Here's another one of those value wines to stock up by the case for those summer BBQs. Aromas and flavors speak of black fruits and smoke, with a peppery streak adding complexity. Smooth and fruity, the bright acidity in this wine will stand up to anything you can throw at it; 86/90.

2005 Gainey, Syrah, Limited Selection, Santa Rita Hills, California, $48. Black fruits, toasty oak and warm spices grace the nose and repeat in the mouth. The wine has a silky smooth presentation, with nice balance; 87/86.

2006 Golden Kaan, Shiraz, Western Cape, South Africa, $10, 8,000 cases imported. Straightforward black cherry, toast and earthy nuances present on the nose and palate, with easy-going tannins; 83/83.

2004 Leasingham, Shiraz, Bin 61, Clare Valley, Australia, $24. Nuances of black cherries, plums, brown sugar and coffee describe the aromas and flavors of this crisp, silky smooth wine; 86/87.

2006 Leasingham, Shiraz, Magnus, Clare Valley, Australia, $12. This value wine conveys nuances of berries, cherries, oak and dill spice. Fruit and oak meld effortlessly, with a streak of eucalyptus adding interest; 85/88.

2005 Novelty Hill, Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington, $22, 1,909 cases. Blue and black fruits intermingle on the nose and palate, with underlying nuances of toasty oak and smoked meat. Tannins are silky smooth; 88/90.


2005 Chateau Julien, Zinfandel, Private Reserve, Monterey County, California, $40. Briary, jammy aromas give way to flavors of black fruits and cloves. The wine is well balanced, with firm ripe tannins; 87/86.

2005 Clif, Zinfandel, Gary's Improv, Napa Valley, California, $32, 260 cases. This is a big, jammy Zinfandel with 15.5 percent alcohol. More expressive on the palate than the nose, the wine offers generous, ripe black fruit flavors, backed by floral notes and peppery spice. Tannins are full but ripe; 89/89.

2006 Kendall-Jackson, Zinfandel, Vintner's Reserve, California, $13. The nose is a pleasant mix of cherries, berries and plums. Sweet fruit flavors are simple but tasty, backed by silky tannins; 85/87.

Back to Bucko's New Releases Index Page