© 2003 by Randy Buckner
Aug. 19, 2003
We have had an interesting summer in our hemisphere. From record-breaking heat to record-breaking power outages, it has been a wild ride. Our sympathies are extended to our European neighbors who have suffered considerably.
Almost one-third of the wines this month are Pinot Noir/Burgundy. I recently attended the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon and have included some of the stars.
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. No wines scoring below 80 points are listed. As always, enjoy a bottle with dinner tonight.
2000 Barefoot Cellars, Reserve Meritage, Alexander Valley, California, $18, 1023 cases. Deep ruby red, this is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas and flavors will remind you of blackberries, spice, black olives and cedar. Rustic tannins demand some bottle age. 85/87.
2000 Beringer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley, California, $26. This deeply hued Cab has a complex nose of mixed red and black fruit, warm spices and a dash of licorice. Crisp, with moderately drying tannins, the wine is very tight right now, with flavors hinting at the nose. 86/86.
2000 Carmenet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cellar Selection, California, $8. Medium-bodied with easy going tannins, the wine is simple but tasty, with plums, blackberries and herbs on the nose and palate. 83/85.
1999 Frank Family, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Napa Valley, California, $65, 1,900 cases. Inky in the glass, the wine radiates complex aromas of dark fruit, chocolate, coffee and sage spice, which are mirrored on the palate. Substantial but ripe tannins give good structure to the wine. 91/90.
1999 Kendall-Jackson, Cabernet Sauvignon, Great Estates, Alexander Valley, California, $40, 2,537 cases. Almost black in color, the nose hints at the juicy dewberries, chocolate and cassis flavors that follow. Bright and brisk, the tannins are rounded but need a few years of bottle time to tame down. 88/88.
1999 Kendall-Jackson, Cabernet Sauvignon, Great Estates, Napa Valley, California, $40, 5,036 cases. Full-bodied, with plenty of tannins that need time to resolve, the wine is packed with black fruit, cassis, cedar, mint, chocolate and French oak. Cassis lingers on the lengthy aftertaste. 88/88.
2000 Kenwood, Cabernet Sauvignon, Jack London Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, California, $30, 16,600 cases. This wine marks the 25th anniversary of Jack London Cabs. Richly colored and offering aromas of blackberries and black cherries, you'll also pick out obvious sandalwood notes. Well-balanced with polished tannins, this medium-bodied Cab sports black cherry fruit with a touch of chocolate and barrel influence. Very tight at the moment, this one is hard to judge. 87+/87+.
2001 Reynolds, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Orange, NSW, Australia, $15. Tart and moderately tannic, with a dry finish. Black cherries, cassis, and mixed oak meld on the palate, leaving a ripe aftertaste. 84/85.
2000 Xanadu, Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia, $18. Very balanced on the palate, the aromas of dried herbs, blackberries and oak melds well with the sweet berry fruit, chocolate and licorice. Good value. 86/88.
2001 Anapamu, Chardonnay, Monterey County, California, $16. Clear gold in color, the aromas and flavors speak of green apples, butterscotch, and pineapple, in a soft presentation. 81/82.
2001 Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, $16. Mixed aromas of baked apples, roasted cashews and vanilla herald in a soft, creamy wine made in the classic Beringer style. Well-balanced with nice fruit, you'll also find a lot of barrel influence. 86/88.
2001 Carmenet, Chardonnay, Cellar Selection, California, $8. This is a pretty straightforward, standard package, with lots of smoke, oak and butterscotch. 80/81.
2001 Chalone, Chardonnay, Chalone AVA, California, $25, 26,000 cases. Aromas are reminiscent of Asian pears and white peaches. Plenty of time on the lees has imparted brioche characteristics. Quite creamy, the wine is full of fig preserves, baked pears and limes. 86/86.
2002 Deakin Estate, Chardonnay, Red Cliffs, N.W. Victoria, Australia, $9. This sparkling gold early drinker offers up a bouquet filled with citrus, yellow peaches and oak undertones. This oak is well-integrated with the peachy fruit, casaba melon, and nutty nuances. Good value for Chard fans. 84/87.
2000 Frank Family, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, $29, 4,500 cases. Brilliant gold in color with a complex aroma of vanilla cream, pear, fig and lemon. Creamy, with balancing acidity, this is the acme of the California style. Crème brulee, green apples, and a healthy dose of new oak flavors provide delight for those who like the style. 88/88.
2000 Husch, Chardonnay, Special Reserve, Anderson Valley, California, $25, 1,082 cases. Pears, roasted hazelnuts and a touch of orange peel make a delightful bouquet. Well-rounded in the mouth with nice acidity, oak is not the predominating feature of this wine. There is a long, nutty finish. 88/88.
2000 Katnook Estate, Chardonnay, Coonawarra, Australia, $17. Stone fruits, light caramel and obvious cashew notes stem from this gold sipper. Well-balanced and elegant, the wine manages a nice blend of fruit, oak, butterscotch, and roasted cashews. Oak becomes more obvious on the finish. 86/87.
2001 Kendall-Jackson, Chardonnay, Camelot Bench, Santa Maria Valley, California, $17. Light gold in color, this classically styled California Chardonnay provides plenty of tropical fruit, pear, caramel, lemon-lime, and vanilla notes, finishing with toasty oak on the aftertaste. 86/87.
2001 Kendall-Jackson, Chardonnay, Grand Reserve, California, $20. Full in the mouth, this wine exhibits aromas and flavors of apples, tangerines, melons and wild flowers. Soft and creamy, this wine would be a real dandy with a tad more acidity. 87/87.
2002 Kenwood, Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California, $15, 50,000 cases. 40% of the wine was aged in small oak barrels, the other 60% placed in large upright casks. The result is that the wine is not buried in oak. Crisp and fruity, the wine offers up Granny Smith apples, citrus and delicate French oak nuances. Nice value. 86/88.
2001 La Crema, Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California, $16. You'll find a lot of vanilla, butterscotch and ripe apple aromas and flavors in this medium weight wine. 100% barrel-fermented and 100% malolactic fermentation. 83/84.
2001 Novelty Hill, Chardonnay, Conner Lee Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington, $22, 400 cases. Light gold in color, the wine shows oak in the forefront, with apples and pears striving to be noticed. Soft and creamy, with butterscotch lingering on the finish, the wine is 100% barrel fermented in mostly new oak. 84/84.
2001 Parducci, Chardonnay, Mendocino, California, $10. Lovely aromas of tropical fruit and Key Lime pie delight the nose. Sweet pear fruit is upfront, with subtle notes of pineapple and vanilla. 85/87.
|Trinchero Mario's Reserve Wines|
2002 Reynolds, Chardonnay, Reserve, Orange, NSW, Australia, $15. The aromas and flavors of this reserve wine speak of tropical fruit, citrus and butterscotch. Only 50% of the wine went through MLF, so the wine maintains a crisp feel while also having a creamy texture. 85/87.
2000 Trinchero, Chardonnay, Mario's Reserve, Napa Valley, California, $30, 5,000 cases. Medium-gold in hue, this Chard has a elegant feel. Complexity, fruitiness, acidity, and a wallop of French oak meld together into a creamy wine that is a dandy for the style. 88/88.
2002 Xanadu, Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia, $15. Barrel fermented in 70% new French barriques, the wine shows a lot of the characteristic toast, vanilla, caramel and nutmeg spiciness. Citrus and peaches vie for attention. The wine does maintain nice crispness. 83/84.
2000 Barone Ricasoli, Casalfero, Toscana IGT, Italy, $44. 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot. Rich aromas of violets, sandalwood, and dark fruit are pleasing to the nose. Tannins demand bottle for another 3-4 years when the fruit should shine forth. A William Grant & Sons import. 88/88.
2001 Barone Ricasoli, Formulae IGT, Tuscany, Italy, $10. The nose is filled with red cherries, vanilla and earthy wood notes. Lean, tart, with modest tannins, this is just the stuff for that Wednesday night lasagna. 84/87.
1999 Barone Ricasoli, Rocca Guicciarda, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Italy, $20. Dark ruby in color, the nose speaks of juicy red fruit, vanilla and aged wood. There is nice balance of fruit and acid, with substantial tannins that will benefit from bottle aging. 86/86.
2001 Brolio, Chianti Classico DOCG, Italy, $18. You'll find a very aromatic bouquet, with violet and dewberry notes. Crisp, with manageable tannins, plum and berry fruit prevails. A William Grant & Sons import. 84/84.
1999 Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico DOCG, Italy, $46. A rich nose of violets and loganberries define this elegant, crisp, tannic Chianti. Several years of bottle aging are needed to round out the tannins and let the fruit strut its stuff. 88/87.
2001 French Hill, Barbera, Grand Reserve, El Dorado County, California, $39, 1,200 cases. Sporting a nose of mixed berries and toasty oak, the wine has chewy tannins and rapier acidity. Black cherries and spicy oak are the major flavors, with a long, spicy finish. 83/82.
2000 Novelty Hill, Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington, $25, 550 cases. You'll think of chocolate covered cherries, raspberries and a dash of oak when smelling this wine. Balanced, with fine acidity and well-managed tannins, the wine is quite complex. Black cherries, chocolate and vanilla linger on the prolonged aftertaste. 88/89.
2000 Pedroncelli, Merlot, Bench Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley, California, $14, 7,400 cases. Black cherries, dried herbs and subtle barrel notes carry over from the nose to the palate. Straightforward, crisp, with rounded tannins, this one can be enjoyed early on. 84/84.
2001 Reynolds, Merlot, Reserve, Orange, NSW, Australia, $15, 4,000 cases. This wine manages a nice balance between the berry fruit and sweet oak. Brisk, with supple tannins, flavors of blackberries, cedar and herbs linger on the palate. 85/87.
2002 Xanadu, Merlot, Franklin River, Western Australia, $10. Aromas of cherry cola, plums and smoky oak greet the taster. Fruit driven, with lots of plums, blackberries and cedary oak, the wine has easy tannins and bracing acidity. 84/86.
2002 Husch, Chenin Blanc, Mendocino, California, $10, 1,194 cases. Candied citrus aromas and straightforward yellow peaches and limes highlight this delicately sweet Chenin. Serve well-chilled. 82/82.
2002 Husch, Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley, California, $12, 2,780 cases. Off-dry at 0.8% residual sugar, this Gewurztraminer is medium-bodied with nice acidity for the grape. Aromatics of lychee fruit, peaches and rose petals are followed by flavors of orange peel, peaches and melon. 85/85.
2002 Woodbridge, Johannisberg Riesling, California, $7. Characteristic honeysuckle and peach aromas of Riesling stem from this light straw wine. Lightly sweet at 2.95% residual sugar, the wine is soft, with straightforward flavors that mimic the nose. 82/83.
2002 Xanadu, Shiraz/Cabernet, Franklin River/Margaret River, Australia, $10. The nose offers more than the palate, with berries, violets, cedar and licorice making up a nice bouquet. Medium-bodied with straightforward fruit, this is an easy drinker for the outdoor BBQ. 84/86.
2000 Guenoc, Petite Sirah, North Coast, California, $20.50, 13,245 cases. Guenoc did a good job harnessing the tannins here. Lots of blackberries, American oak and chocolate notes unfold on the nose and palate. Grilled meats or a strong cheese are in order. I found that it paired well with gorgonzola cheese. 87/87.
1999 Guenoc, Petite Sirah, Serpentine Meadow Reserve, Guenoc Valley, California, $39.50, 500 cases. The wine is almost black in the glass. Rich aromas and flavors of jammy black fruit, mint, chocolate and vanilla delight the senses. Well-balanced, the tannins are very manageable. 88/87.
2002 Montevina, Pinot Grigio, California, $10, 40,000 cases. Another fun drinker for the summer heat. Light and invigorating, the wine yields aromas and flavors of citrus, apricots and melons. This is a no-brainer for seafood. 85/87.
2002 Sutter Home, Pinot Grigio, California, $6. The color of wheat straw, this six-buck sipper is crisp, clean, with threshold sweetness. The blend of citrus, peaches and lemongrass delivers good value. 82/84.
2002 Trinity Oaks, Pinot Grigio, California, $9, 20,000 cases. This light straw colored wine is quite crisp and refreshing, with plenty of peaches, pears, apricots and lemongrass to go around. Floral notes add interest. Pair with steamed mussels. 84/85.
2002 Woodbridge, Pinot Grigio, California, $8. Citrus and canned pineapple notes emanate from this light-bodied, straw colored sipper. Soft and dry, the wine offers honest fruit flavors. Match with a mild cheese such as Havarti. 82/83.
2000 Abundance Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido Vineyards, Santa Maria Valley, California, $35. Very polished, this garnet colored Pinot has an interesting bouquet of pomegranates, floral notes and tea leaves. Rich flavors of raspberries and cedar are augmented by a dash of pepper. Soft tannins allow early consumption. 88/88.
2001 Ancien, Pinot Noir, Carneros, California, $32. Here is another nice Pinot from the Carneros region. Seamless in its approach, the red and black fruit makes quite a statement. Forgiving tannins allow enjoyment tonight. Earthy, mushroom flavors give another layer of complexity. 90/90.
2001 Au Bon Climat, Pinot Noir, Knox Alexander, Santa Barbara, California, $45, 1,000 cases. This is a graceful Pinot packing all of the adjectives. The wine is not over oaked and possesses silky tannins. Exuding pure balance, you'll find a boatload of fruit made in a jammy style. 91/90.
2001 Baileyana, Pinot Noir, Firepeak Vineyard, Edna Valley, California, $38, 300 cases. Black fruit and forest floor notes are appreciated across the entire sensory spectrum. Impeccably balanced, you'll welcome the complexity of fruit and lovely acidity. 89/88.
2001 Belle Pente, Pinot Noir, Estate Reserve, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $40. Brian O'Donnell has turned out yet another gem of a wine. Well crafted, all components sing in harmony. Black fruit, earthy/forest floor notes, and dark wood aromas and flavors make a bold statement. 90/89.
2001 Bethel Heights, Pinot Noir, Southeast Block, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $35. The nose has spicy, mineraly, white pepper notes that are quite intriguing. This wine has a fastball delivery, with lots of earthy fruit, crisp acids and a quality that reminds me of ashes. It all works very well together. 90/90.
2001 Bouchard Pere et Fils, Beaune Grèves, Vigne de l'Enfant Jésus, Burgundy, France, $55. Red fruit and sweet oak dominate the aromas and flavors, with a touch of tarragon spice. Crisp and refreshing, the tannins are smooth as silk. Very pretty. 91/90.
2001 Chalone, Pinot Noir, Chalone AVA, California, $25, 10,500 cases. This is a very atypical Pinot. Dark ruby in color, the wine is ultra ripe on the nose and palate. Flavors abound with blackberry jam and French oak. I don't know how to assess this one. ?/?
2001 Chehalem, Pinot Noir, Rion Reserve, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $50. Here's another tasty Oregon Pinot Noir that delivers the classic forest floor notes along with berry and black cherry fruit. Very well structured, the wine delivers nice acidity and modest tannins. 91/90.
2000 Domaine Jean-Marc Bouley, Pommard Premier Cru Fremiers, Burgundy, France, $NA. Lean in structure, the wine should add weight with time. There are plenty of black cherry and earthy aromas on the nose and palate to please most anyone, with good tannin management. 88/NA.
2001 Elk Cove, Pinot Noir, Roosevelt Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $45, 180 cases. The grapes are sourced from a four acre planting situated just south of the winery on Willakenzie soils. The wine has a lovely nose that is classic for Oregon Pinot Noir. Black cherries, blueberries, old wood and spice notes unfold on the palate, sustained by silky tannins and moderate acidity. Lovely. 91/90.
2001 Evesham Wood, Pinot Noir, Le Puits Sec, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $28. Here is a real dandy at a very fair price when looking at Oregon Pinot prices these days. The nose reminds you of black cherries, blackberries and fresh sawn cherry wood. Great balance and very good concentration of fruit makes this seamless wine a no-brainer for the shopping cart. 91/92.
2002 Felton Road, Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand, $40. This is a dandy medium-bodied Pinot from NZ. Tannins are not an issue here. Very bright acidity gives life to the mixed red and black fruit. A touch of mushroom becomes evident on the long aftertaste. 90/89.
2000 Henry Estate, Pinot Noir, Barrel Estate, Umpqua Valley, Oregon, $25. Black cherries and earthy notes define the aromas and flavors of this wine. Nice balance and acidity adds vitality. It is getting more difficult to find a good $25 Oregon Pinot noir, but this one offers value. 88/89.
2000 Hitching Post, Pinot Noir, Highliner, Santa Barbara County, California, $40, 200 cases. A touch of the tomato leaf character often found in Santa Barbara wines adds character to the complex mixed fruit. Displaying nice balance of acids, fruit and oak, the aftertaste is full and flavorful. 88/87.
2000 King Estate, Pinot Noir, Oregon, $22. Tempting aromas of black cherries, earthy mushrooms, and a touch of oak repeat on the palate. Built on a light to medium framework, the balance is impeccable. 85/85.
2001 La Crema, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California, $18. Packed with aromas of raspberries, cherries and freshly grated nutmeg, this light to medium-bodied Pinot has good balance and is ready to drink tonight with a bowl of fresh mushroom soup. 85/86.
2001 Maison Champy, Beaune Premier Cru Aux Cras, Burgundy, France, $NA. Founded in 1720, Maison Champy is the oldest house in Burgundy. Balanced, very tight, but exhibiting a sense of promises to come, this Burgundy covers the red fruit spectrum. The tannins are velvety, the acidity crisp. 88+/NA.
2000 Marchesi Pancrazi, Pinot Nero, Villa de Bagnolo, Tuscany, Italy, $40. Blindfolded I would be hard pressed to identify the grape variety. This is not your classic Pinot Noir, but rather a generic red, albeit a mighty tasty generic red. Full of fruit, the tannins and acids give good backbone to the wine. Serve with a host of foods. 88/87.
2001 Panther Creek, Pinot Noir, Anden Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $40. Sparkling ruby in color with aromas of black cherries, chocolate, forest floor notes and a smoky ash characteristic. Full on the palate, the wine exhibits tart cherry fruit, smoky oak and a touch of strawberries. Nice balance. 88/87.
2001 Panther Creek, Pinot Noir, Bednarik Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $40, 650 cases. The nose is full of aromas of black cherries, chocolate, earth, and light smoke notes. Full-bodied, lush, and rich on the palate, with flavors of black cherries and light toast. You'll find less oak on this one than the Anden. 90/89.
2001 Panther Creek, Pinot Noir, Freedom Hill Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $40, 950 cases. Bright cherry aromas are augmented by sweet oak and toasty notes. Very tight on the palate, the wine is just not revealing much right now. Judgment reserved.
|Nysa Vineyard at Panther Creek|
2001 Panther Creek, Pinot Noir, Shea Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $40, 1,700 cases. Earthy black fruit, cola, and a dash of cinnamon and oak fills the nose and carries over to the palate. The Shea has a more rustic presentation than the rest of the line. 87/86.
2001 Pedroncelli, Pinot Noir, F. Johnson Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, California, $14.50, 3,349 cases. Bright cherry aromas are underscored by the deft use of French oak. This wine is all about cherries, with tart acidity giving structure. 84/85.
2000 Saintsbury, Pinot Noir, Reserve, Carneros, California, $50. Pretty classic California Pinot Noir that fans of the style will enjoy immensely. Fat, fruity, earthy, spicy, oaky - it's all there. 91/89.
2001 Sebastiani, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California, $22, 1,170 cases. Not for oakaphobes, this one is loaded with aromas of sandalwood, spice and ripe cherries. Crisp, full-bodied, and fruity, you'll find a host of cherries, berries and French oak, with an aftertaste of cherry jam. 85/85.
2001 Stevenson Barrie, Pinot Noir, Shea Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $30. Made by the winemaker for Panther Creek under his own label, Michael Stevenson has turned out a gem. Aromas of black cherries and aged wood expand on the palate. Not as fat at the Panther Creek wines, this one shows good extraction without being overdone. The balance is impeccable and the tannins well-rounded. 92/92.
2001 Valley of the Moon, Pinot Noir, Carneros, California, $20, 3,000 cases. Obvious aromas of strawberries, toasted oak and warm spices highlight this sparkling ruby wine. Soft on the palate, with very good balance, the wine is fruit driven with loads of Bing cherry fruit. 86/86.
1999 Guenoc, Vintage Port, Guenoc Valley, California, $36, 612 cases. 100% Petite Sirah. Complex aromas of cassis, orange zest, chocolate and cinnamon are found in this delightfully balanced, decadently sweet wine. The palate mirrors the nose. A very tasty effort. 88/89.
2002 Bonny Doon, Pink Wine, Vin Gris De Cigare, California, $10. Here is a classic color, flamingo pink. The bouquet is very aromatic, with spicy, floral notes and a hint of orange zest. Lean, crisp and very dry, the flavors mirror the nose. Delightful. 86/88.
2002 Preston, Gamay Noir, Columbia Valley, Washington, $10. The color is best described as sparkling cranberry, with aromas of strawberries, spice and floral notes. Very full and crisp on the palate, the wine expands to reveal flavors of red berries and citrus, finishing with a slightly sweet glow. 1.5% residual sugar. 87/89.
NV René Barbier, Mediterranean Rosé, Catalunya, Spain, $6. Here is a lightly sweet, soft, fruity wine to enjoy on those days that have you looking for the swimsuit. Straightforward, yet offering distinct character, this wine offers nice strawberry and melon fruit at a price that is easy on the pocketbook. 84/87.
2002 Round Hill, White Zinfandel, California, $4.50. The wine is light pink with an orange tinge. Candy apple and citrus notes unfold on the nose. Soft, off-dry, with plenty of melon flavors to go around; this is a nice wine for those large deck parties at a very fair price. 81/83.
2002 Valley of the Moon, Rosato di Sangiovese, Sonoma County, California, $13. This is a deeply colored Rosé that is well balanced and easy to drink. Loads of strawberries and peaches are upfront, with a touch of banana to add to the fruit package. 86/87.
2002 Carmenet, Sauvignon Blanc, Cellar Selection, California, $8. Carmenet pulled off a nice, inexpensive wine here. Full aromas of grapefruit and gooseberries are followed by pure fruit flavors unburdened by layers of oak. Nice acidity ties it all together. 86/89.
2002 Parducci, Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County, California, $9. Lemon-lime and tropical fruit abounds, with a touch of gooseberry for added interest. While a little austere, the acidity is lively and the wine should pair well with a host of seafood. 85/87.
2002 Pedroncelli, Sauvignon Blanc, East Side Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley, California, $10, 3,611 cases. Sporting a nose of lemongrass and musk melon, this simple wine is clean and grassy, with a touch of grapefruit zest. Pair with light seafood dishes. 83/84.
2002 Reynolds, Sauvignon Blanc, Orange, New South Wales, Australia, $15, 3,200 cases. Lime, gooseberry, and jalapeno aromas emanate from this light straw-colored wine. Crisp and bright, the flavors suggest notes of citrus, lemongrass, and pineapple. This will pair well with a veggie or turkey burger. 87/87.
2002 Xanadu, Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River, Western Australia, $10. 20% of this wine was barrel fermented in new French oak. Lemongrass and gooseberries dominate the profile, but wood notes are noticeable in the background. The wine has a creamy feel yet still maintains steely acidity. 85/87.
1998 Montecillo, Crianza, Rioja, Spain, $10. Brick in color, you'll find a host of red and black fruit on the nose, with a touch of perceived Brett(?). There is a pleasing balance of fruit, tannins and acids, with a nice peppery streak. Great food wine. 85/87.
NV René Barbier, Mediterranean White, Catalunya, Spain, $6. We need more of these wines. Delightful lemon/lime aromas are followed by a brisk mouth feel and amazing complexity for a six-buck wine. This should pair well with shellfish and veal with a lemon caper sauce. 85/90.
2001 Segura Viudas, Xarel-lo, Creu De Lavit, Penedès, Spain, $15. 40% of this wine was fermented in American oak, which is evident in the aromas and flavors which also speak of baked apples, warm spices, and a dash of caramel. I'd like to taste a no oak version. 85/85.
2002 Vionta, Albariño, Limited Release, Rias Baixas, Spain, $16, 22,916 cases. This light gold wine gives off aromas of citrus and fresh cut flowers. Zesty acidity makes this an ideal food wine which displays green apples and grapefruit on the palate. 87/87.
2000 Abundance, Syrah, French Camp Vineyard, Paso Robles, California, $18, 901 cases. This is not your big, plush, jammy Syrah; rather it is a very focused wine that demands a NY strip to accompany it. Tannins are well polished, giving good structure while allowing immediate consumption. Blackberry fruit dominates, with underlying dried plum characters giving depth. 87/88.
2001 Anapamu, Syrah, Paso Robles, California, $22, 20,000 cases. Youthful purple-red in color and emitting aromas of plums, berries and vanilla, the wine is crisp, with good body and lots of blueberry fruit. 85/86.
2001 Carina, Syrah, Thompson Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, California, $30, 70 cases. Blackberries, game and a touch of sandalwood caress the nose. Balanced tannins give backbone to the wine, with straightforward blackberry flavors lingering on the finish. 86/85.
2001 Reynolds, Shiraz, Reserve, Orange, NSW, Australia, $15, 6,000 cases. Bold aromas of cherries, tobacco and barrel notes highlight this medium-bodied Shiraz. The tasty fruit is augmented by a streak of white pepper. Supple tannins allow early consumption. 86/88.
2000 Valley of the Moon, Syrah, Sonoma County, California, $15, 4,000 cases. Opulent aromas and flavors of mixed berries, leather, smoke and cedar greet the taster. Well rounded tannins and crisp acids breathe life into the wine. Match with grilled meats. Terrific value. 87/90.
2001 Xanadu, Shiraz, Franklin River/Margaret River, Australia, $17. This value wine has a lot in the package. Blackberries, Baker's chocolate and violets tempt the nose. Tart and generous on the palate, dark berry fruit and forest floor notes abound. Quite tasty for this price class. 86/88.
2002 Carina, Viognier, Santa Barbara County, California, $16, 200 cases. Light gold with classic floral notes and papaya. Refreshingly crisp on the palate, the wine is well rounded, with exotic tropical fruit flavors. Good value. 88/90.
2001 Abundance Vineyards, Old Vine Zinfandel, Mencarini Vineyards, Lodi, California, $14, 2,725 cases. Loaded with aromas of blueberries and wild plums, the wine is full in the mouth, with easy tannins. Cranberry and raisin flavors add additional layers of interest. 87/89.
2001 Woodbridge, Zinfandel, California, $7. Medium-bodied with modest tannins, this is a good burger wine. Brambly plums, spice and cedar make a statement in this straightforward drink me now Zin. 82/83.