The Year’s Best Wines

StateWays’ sister publication Beverage Dynamics publishes a list of wine recommendations, called Retailer Wine Selections, in every issue based upon written evaluations by its National Retailer Wine Panel. The parameters of each list range from specific varietals to favorite summer wines or favorite holiday wines. Each review includes brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). The following is a sampling of top wines from the Beverage Dynamics National Retailer Wine Panel from this past year.


FIVE STARS


(96) Peter Michael Belle Cote Chardonnay 2010 (California). Sweet lemon and floral notes; intense flavors with hints of licorice and tropical flavors; luxurious and graceful in the mouth with a long finish. ($90)


(95) Knights Bridge Vineyards Knights Valley West Block Chardonnay 2010 (California). Golden yellow, with heavy legs; toasted bread with hints of sweet stone fruits, white peaches and citrus; pear cooked with vanilla hints; generous but not too buttery and big; balanced acidity and fine long finish that lingers. ($66)


(95) Mark Ryan Dead Horse Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Opaque purple color followed by a sweet, ripe nose of black currants, floral scents, licorice, and vanillin; exhibiting plenty of cassis fruit, this pure, dense, concentrated, full-bodied yet elegant wine should drink well for 8-10 years. ($50)


(95) Obelisco Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Washington State). Grown on a small 30 acre vineyard in red granite; full bodied and rich with a velvety mouthfeel; dark cherry, raspberry, and ripe currant with a dusty and restrained tannins on the finish; beautiful. ($43) 


(95) Artesa Artisan Series Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (California). Artesa is located in a cooler part of the Napa Valley, and this elegant, supple wine reflects that choice of location; the nose and palate offer up plenty of bright black fruits, with edges of spice and oak; the tannins are well balanced with good acidity and plenty of fruit. ($46)


(95) Col Solare Columbia Valley Red Wine 2008 (Washington State). This blend is two-thirds cabernet, giving it weight and structure; fter nearly two years in barrel, the tannins are soft and accessible; lots of black fruit on the nose and palate, make for a rich, full bodied glass of superb red wine. ($75)


(95) Rutherford Hill Barrel Select Red Blend 2008 (California). Made from 77% merlot, 14% cabernet sauvignon, 9% cabernet franc; beautifully structured with an intense floral bouquet and lush black fruit flavors; aging for 21 months in French barriques adds soft, silky tannins for perfect balance; nice now, it will cellar for several years for optimum enjoyment. ($30)


(95) Frog’s Leap Merlot 2010 (California). Sustainable farming reveals a very rich merlot; flavors of chocolate and blueberries with balanced acidity; delicious. ($40)


(95) The Calling Rio Lago Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). A delicious, well-crafted cabernet; full bodied, with a deep burgundy color; soft tannins and a velvety texture; ripe raspberry and cherry on the palate with a long finish. ($39)


(95) Sonoma Coast Vineyards SVC Freestone Hills Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Fresh cherry and raspberry nose; soft on the palate finishing with perfect balance of tannins and bright acidity. ($49)


(95) Tres Sabors Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (California). Single-vineyard sourced from the Farina hillside property on Sonoma Mt., a beautiful, aromatic wine with hints of grapefruit, lime and tangerines; rich minerality. ($40)


(95) St. Supery Rosé 2012 (California). Eye-catching, rich red color with an elegant pomegranate, fresh strawberry aroma. Light, bright and crisp! Cab, merlot, petit verdot and cab franc make this light summer rosé crisp, dry and nuanced. ($19)


(94) Domaine de L’orme Saint Pourcain Les Grands Vaux Blanc 2011 (France). Saint Pourcain is a tiny A.O.C. upstream from Loire Valley; the tressalier grape there yields a lovely white wine that has a spicy, floral bouquet with hints of jasmine and citrus on the palate and a slight minerality on the finish; a great aperitif or pairs well with mild Asian dishes. ($17)


(94) Domaine Jolly Chablis 2010 (France). Classic Chablis with aromas and flavors of fresh green apple and not-quite-ripe pear combined with a rich yet not buttery mouthfeel; on the finish, that unique and wonderful minerality found only in Chablis lingers; great with lobster. ($25 


(94) Morgan Metallico Un-oaked Chardonnay 2011 (California). A lovely bouquet of under-ripe tropical fruit and wildflower leads to a palate of pear, peach, and citrus with a hint of minerality reminiscent of a good Chablis; dry, crisp and racy on the finish with great length. ($24)


(94) Weingut Setzer Gruner Veltliner Hohenwarth Weinviertel 2012 (Austria). Crisp, refreshing, and not-quite-dry with zesty acidity in the finish; pairs beautifully with a wide array of cuisine or will be a perfect “party wine.” ($18)


(94) Dr.  Hermann “H” Riesling  Mosel, Germany 2011 (Germany). Lush, sweet fruit aromas and flavors lead to a crisp, racy finish; the sweetness, balanced by the acidity, is simply delectable; with a hint of the Mosel’s slate, it’s a classic style that’s perfect for holiday festivities. ($17)


(94) Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). The Robert Mondavi winery has been producing benchmark Napa Valley Cabernets for generations; this is no exception; the wine reflects the 2010 vintage, showing lots of dark fruit on the nose, and a richness on the palate; the fruit is balanced by spice, texture and acid; a very fair price for an outstanding wine. ($28)


(94) Tamarack Cellars Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Washington State). Another wonderful cabernet out of Columbia Valley; medium to full bodied with energetic acidity; a beauty. ($35)


(94) La Storia by Trentadue Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). This cabernet sauvignon is aged for 16 months in several types of European oak barrels, lending an “Old World” nuance to the wine; however, the rich floral aromas and ripe, mouth-filling black fruit flavors are all Alexander Valley; stunning. ($25)


(94) J. Lohr 7 Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Rich, dense, with soft tannins; coffee and hazelnut, with a hint of bittersweet chocolate; for the cab lover…dessert in a glass. ($20)


(94) Calluna Vineyards Calluna Estate Chalk Hill Red 2009 (California). Classic Left Bank style with the emphasis on cabernet sauvignon (40%), with elements of merlot, cab franc, malbec, and petite verdot blended in; intense fruit, very balanced, tight core of cedar and dried fruit with heavy minerality. ($70)


(94) Atamisque Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Argentina). Bright jammy fruits with hints of pepper on the nose; full bodied with robust flavors of red fruits, spice, coffee and vanilla. ($27)


(94) Oakville East “Exposure” Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (California). With neighbors like Dalla Valle and Screaming Eagle, it’s no surprise that this is some heady stuff; an explosive wine yet remains graceful and sensuous; black cherry, plum, tobacco and mocha dance beautifully in the bouquet and on the palate, with layer upon layer slowly revealed. ($60)


(93) Daou Chardonnay 2010 (California). If you insist on chardonnay with your Turkey dinner, here it is; no noticeable oak or malalactic; instead, you will find apples and a hint of pineapple sprinkled with a dash of nutmeg. ($40)


(93) Chateau Ste Michelle Cold Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Washington State). A stunning cabernet offering deep and rich fruit and amazing balance; many intricate layers of berry fruit and cassis with a touch of cocoa. ($28) 


(93) Perseverance Sonoma County Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel 2008 (California). If you wonder why some plots of land are so famous, try this wine and wonder no more; incredibly complex in the bouquet and on the palate, with black pepper notes tinting blackberry compote, spicy briar notes and earthy undertones; bold and intense, yet beautifully balanced, and the finish displays vanilla and caramel. ($25)


(93) Black Coyote Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (California). Pure Napa Valley, with sweet blackberries, leather, and spicy cedar; offering impressive concentration and supple tannins; this wine seals the deal on the outstandingly long finish that is further laden with flavors of tobacco and nutmeg; a real stand-out cabernet. ($85)


(93) Tyrus Evan Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain Claret 2011 (Washington State). The bouquet is gorgeous, with both an earthy and savory bent, yet exhibiting plenty of ripe black fruit aromas; full bodied and luscious, but with a backbone of tannins that, though firm, remain quite smooth; light tints of cocoa and earth linger on the edges while ripe and juicy black cherry, currant, cassis and blueberry roll across the palate. ($40)


(93) Embem Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). The Mondavi family strikes again, with a winery created by Robert’s son and grandchildren; the wine displays a similar class and elegance, with a slightly richer, riper style; the nose and palate both posses plenty of ripe, dark fruit, with hints of spice and hints of brown sugar; vibrant and young, now, it will also benefit from time in the cellar. ($35) 


(93) William Hill Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). The lovely acidity keeps the rich red and black fruits in balance; the tannins are very well integrated, providing texture and structure; exceptionally easy to enjoy now, it will also benefit from cellaring. ($35)


(93) Hess Collection Mt. Veeder Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (California). This cabernet possesses lots of black, rich, and spicy fruit, on the nose and palate; the finish is seamless, elegant, and extended; superb, and balanced, across the board. ($55)


(93) Beaulieu Vineyards Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (California). Classic Rutherford dust; dark cherry and cocoa notes lead into great earthiness and big tannins; pair with grilled meats. ($27)


(93) Stuhlmuller Vineyards Alexander Valley Estate Chardonnay 2010 (California). Lovely citrus and lemon custard aromas; flavors of pineapple, pear, orange and apple are revealed on the palate; long subtle finish from the French oak and sur lie aging process. ($30)        


(93) Joseph Drouhin Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis Premier Cru 2010 (France). Bright yellow-gold in the glass, there is plenty of white peach, with notes of grapefruit and orange blossom on the nose; on the palate the refinement and elegance reveal layers of flavors and an evolving texture; stunning now, it will continue to evolve for the next few years. ($39)


(93) Newton Red Label Chardonnay 2009 (California). Rich mouthfeel gives way to peaches, lemon curd, and pineapple as the toasted oak and cream notes delight the senses. ($22)


(93) Dutton Estate Russian River Chardonnay 2010 (California). Tropical nose and flavors lead to an elegant, smooth and lingering finish. ($30)


(93) J. Lohr Arroyo Vista Monterey Chardonnay 2011 (California). Hand-harvested at night, the rich fruit provides an elegant almost Burgundian structure; ripe pear and apple, roasted nuts and butterscotch, and hints of vanilla; California’s best interpretation of the classic French model. ($28) 


(93) Girard Russian River Sonoma Chardonnay 2010 (California). Sourcing primarily from the famed Dutton Ranch, this wine offers up hints of orange blossoms, honey and lemon curd on the nose, with bright acid and oak and vanilla on its rich, long finish. ($33)


(93) Fritz Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2010 (California). Nice bright acidity, yet creamy on the palate; ripe flavors of tropical fruits; pineapples, mangoes and melons; layers of baked pastries and toasted nuts make this truly interesting. ($30)


(93) VGS/Chat.Potelle Napa Chardonnay 2010 (California). Beautiful collaboration of classical French techniques blended with rich hillside mountain fruit; natural yeasts, unfiltered, minimal oak aging create a rich opulent wine; initial hints of green apple and lemon lead to deeper flavors of melons, pineapples and white pears. ($58)


(93) Silver Stag Napa Chardonnay 2010 (California). Beautiful jasmine aromas lead into hints of apple, melon, lemon, and caramel; rich and full-bodied; the inaugural chardonnay release from the Parsley Family Winery. ($57)


(93) Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). The Wetzel Family Estate yields superb grapes that express the volcanic “terroir” of Alexander Valley; blended with small amounts of merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, and petit verdot, barrel-aged for 14 months; robust with ripe black fruit and hints of coffee, mocha; supple tannins. ($20)


(93) The Calling Rio Lago Vineyard Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Full bodied; deep burgundy color; black cherry, and vanilla aromas; ripe raspberry and cherry on the palate; well balanced acidity with a lingering finish. ($38)


(93) Novelty Hill Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Washington State). Mike Januik has been making wine in Washington for over 30 years, and it shows in his Novelty Hill line; deep rich black fruit is concentrated in the mid-palate with a smooth lingering finish. ($43)


(93) Parducci True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Cherry, vanilla, and cassis aromas lead to a smooth lingering finish; perfect with a thick ribeye. ($26)


(93) Fiddletown Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 (California). A harmonious blend from five different vineyards (primarily Zanini Ranch fruit); aged 16 months, with rich raspberry, blackberry and plum flavors; pair with barbeque and brisket. ($19)


(93) A to Z Rosé 2012 (Oregon). Awesome Rosé of sangiovese – bright, clean, fresh  – loaded with wild strawberry aroma and fruit; great with grilled salmon, smoked ham; a good wine to have on hand for any occasion. ($13)


(93) Charles Krug Napa Valley Merlot 2010 (California). A serious merlot aged in 20 months of French oak; rich, intense and polished with blueberry, blackberry, black cherry and mocha flavors that come together perfectly giving way to a 20-second long finish showing undertones of vanilla and cedar. ($20)


(93) Cheslea Goldschmidt Alexander Valley Merlot 2011 (California). The 100% merlot is impressive; bright cherry fruit, herbs and zesty spice. Balanced with a seamless texture; excellent food wine. ($18)


(92) Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Riesling 2011 (Washington State). This is a fresh, vibrant Riesling with white peach flavors and a bright acidity; the finish is long and lively with a solid brace of minerality. ($22)


(92) Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir 2011 (California). Bright Bing cherry with hints of cedar and tobacco flesh out the outstanding pinot noir; a fine balance between savory and acidity makes for a dynamic sipping experience; salmon on the grill is a good pairing. ($20)


(92) Oberon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Quite complex for a wine of this price; integrated oak but not too much, big cherry/currant fruit balanced against cedar, tobacco and earthy mushroom. ($19)


(92) Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (California). Classic Napa cab; full-bodied with lush black fruit balanced by new oak notes; soft tannins; drinkable now. ($45)


(92) B Side Napa Valley Red Blend 2010 (California). Nearly half cabernet sauvignon, this wine has plenty of structure, and rich, dark fruit; the blend, with merlot, syrah, petit verdot, and cab franc, provide a backbone of balancing acid, tannin and spice; plenty of weight, and density; rich, powerful glass of wine. ($25)


(92) Bianchi Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Aromas of dark red fruits; ripe flavors of cassis and chocolate with a flavorful lengthy finish. ($22)


(92) Lucas and Lewellen Cote del Sol Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (California). A rich softness, with subtle tannins and a smooth lingering finish; jammy, juicy, with touches of cherry and currants; great value for an estate grown and bottled cabernet. ($39)


(92) Seavy Napa Valley Merlot 2007 (California). Excellent extraction and color, smooth integrated balanced tannins behind the big refined fruits; hint of cedar and pencil lead behind the raspberries and blackberries; fine finish. ($46)


(92) Sheridan Mystique 2011 (Washington State). There is a huge core of blackberries, currants, figs, and clove; the rich fruit flavors combine nicely with dense and polished tannins to give this wine a beautiful and firm texture. ($30)


(92) Reynolds Family Winery Stags Leap Merlot 2008 (California). From the famous Stags Leap District vineyards, this elegant merlot has a nose of bright blueberries and vanilla with a touch of dark cherries and subtle smoky characteristics; although spicy in the front of the pallet, it has a soft and silky finish.($54)


(92) Markham Napa Valley Merlot 2010 (California). A merlot that in some ways shows as a cabernet; round, luscious fruit with a balanced tannic structure add to the beautiful mouthfeel; the mid-palate offers plum and currant with a pleasing slightly coffee finish; delicious. ($23)


(92) Artesa Elements Sonoma Merlot 2010 (California). Raspberry and cherry complemented by spice and vanilla; soft tannins round out a delicious merlot. ($16)


(92) Matanzas Creek Winery Bennett Valley Sonoma Merlot 2007 (California). This Bennett Valley merlot is made from 85% merlot plus about 15% cabernet sauvignon from Knights Valley; classic merlot aromas of red currant and fresh herbs – thyme, sage – plus a dusting of clove leading to bright and juicy flavors of black currant, blueberry, licorice and spice; loads of juicy acidity for a California merlot make this a nice, palate-cleansing match for richer meat dishes. ($24)


(92) Molnar Family Chardonnay 2010 (California). Wonderful aromas of pear, citrus and tangerine with a vanilla scent; soft on the palate with lively tones of apples and citrus, it finishes with a warm toasty finish; the Hungarian oak gives this wine a unique flavor. ($27)


(92) ZD California Chardonnay 2010 (California). Tropical aroma; tropical fruit; vanilla and butterscotch taste; long finish. ($39)


(92) Christian Moreau 2011 Chablis 2011 (France). A quintessential Chablis with a pale golden color that sparkles in the glass; notes of apple and stone fruit reverberate across the nose and palate; the bright acidity adds a nervous energy to the finish; with that same acidity promising a long life in the bottle. ($24)


(92) Sbragia Home Ranch Dry Creek Valley Chardonnay 2009 (California). Sbragia is known for its excellent Chardonnays, and this lovely wine shows Dry Creek Valley as an outstanding producer of a full-throttle chard that maintains freshness without overbearing lumber; pair it with salmon and enjoy. ($45)


(92) The Calling Russian River Valley Dutton Ranch Chardonnay 2010 (California). A subtle but complex in the nose, with lovely and bright fruit aromas and supple oak shadings; citrus, pear, apple and melon all appear; equally complex on the palate, lush and beautifully balanced, with a delicious array of fruit flavors deftly tinted by vanillin, oak and cream. ($30)


(92) En Truffiere Meursault 2009 (France). Classy Burgundy that maintains impeccable balance throughout; floral and citrus notes mingle in the bouquet and on the palate, and a firm mineral structure amplifies everything beautifully; fresh, and long on the finish. ($40)


(92) Woodward Canyon Chardonnay 2011 (Washington State). The wine is a brilliant yellow gold; the nose is an elegant combination of apple and pear, with hints of spice, vanilla, and toasted nuts; the palate is just as elegant, with a long luxurious finish. ($36)


(92) Sonoma Cutrer Les Pierres Chardonnay 2010 (California). Rich yet lively; hard to believe it’s barrel fermented given its fresh character; lush tropical fruit with pineapple-lifesaver finish. ($45)


(92) Ferrari Carano Sonoma Chardonnay 2011 (California). There are aromas of butter, caramel and a very slight smokiness which add complexity to this incredibly smooth and satisfying chardonnay; the beautiful layers of fruit and texture are satisfying and controlled. ($21)


(92) Castello Banfi Fontanelle Chardonnay 2011 (Italy). A pale straw yellow in the glass, this Italian entry into the crowded Chardonnay field rises above much of the competition; elegant and complex notes of stone and tropical fruit on the nose and palate are supplemented by hints of spice


(92) Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2010 (California). Showcasing its pedigree, the wine is a bight yellow-gold with good viscosity; the nose is full of tree fruit and stone fruit, with notes of high-toned spices; the palate has weight, with the same spice notes; the combination of solid mouthfeel and balancing acidity contribute to the wine’s complexity and finish. ($30)


(92) Antica Chardonnay 2011 (California). Rich and full-bodied Napa Valley Chardonnay; through the bold flavors and full body, this beauty still maintains elegance and finesse; lemon peel, pear and creamy vanilla are displayed in this rich and creamy traditional Napa Valley Chardonnay. ($36)


(92) Mer Soleil Silver Chardonnay 2011 (California). From Caymus Vineyards; a delightful, unoaked Chardonnay in a distinctive crock bottle; ribght and refreshing, balanced acidity, hints of ripe apple; good by itself or with simple shellfish and chicken dishes. ($25)


(91) Frank Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). A dry, rich Napa cab; dark fruits and balanced; will improve with age. ($53)


(91) Duckhorn Decoy Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California). Rich and concentrated with dark berry flavors and a hint of savory black olive, earth and spice.  Solid tannins; should reward cellaring. ($24)


(91) Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). An elegant, yet firm cabernet with layers of blackberry and black licorice; tannins are big, but open nicely with a little aeration. ($23)


(91) Justin Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California). Balanced with fruit and spice; true Paso Robles style wine with intense dark fruit and soft finish. ($24)


(92)  D’Armanville Brut Champagne NV (France). The bouquet is gorgeous, with both an earthy and savory bent, yet exhibiting plenty of ripe black fruit aromas; full bodied and luscious, but with a backbone of tannins that, though firm, remain quite smooth; light tints of cocoa and earth linger on the edges while ripe and juicy black cherry, currant, cassis and blueberry roll across the palate; lots of finesse. ($40)


(92) Cedar Knoll Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (California). Rich, red fruit nose; flavors of cassis, blackberry, and some chocolate; substantial tannins; a long finish. ($45)


(92) Truchard Napa Merlot 2009 (California). Deep purple color with ripe scents of blueberry and cassis; layered and dense, with appealing notes of currant, blueberry, mineral and a touch of  herbs on the luscious finish; a match for pastas with red sauce, braised short ribs or even a succulent rabbit stew. ($30)


(91) Frog’s Leap La Grenouille Rouganté Rosé (Valdiguie 82%, Zinfandel 18%) 2012 (California). “The Blushing Frog” shows a lot of depth, character and freshness at the same time, with an amazing 11.2% alcohol – a perfect summer rosé. Beyond refreshing, it is mineral with a great balance of flavors from orange peel to small berries and melon; light pink in color with a hint of violet. ($18)


(91) Mobius Pinot Noir 2008 (California). Second label to the Mantra series of wines from Mike Kuimelis and his father; growers since the 1970s, they made the switch to winemaking in 2000, and specialize in the better Sonoma AVAs; lighter style, rich, dark-cherry notes, hints of vanilla and a smooth, silky finish. ($30)


(91) Anam Cara Nicholas Estate Pinot Noir 2010 (Oregon). Fresh red berries and plums followed by light spice notes; good length on the finish; pairs well with grilled meats and fish as well as pasta and hearty stews. ($32)


(91) Bogle Essential Red 2011 (California). A great blend of old vine zinfandel, petite sirah and cabernet sauvignon; medium bodied; ripe black cherry and black raspberry fruits with balanced spice and tannins; try with grilled meats, grilled veggies. ($13)


(91) Buena Vista The Count Sonoma Red Blend 2008 (California). This easy drinking red features aromas of black currant and cherries with smooth flavors of plum and blackberry and a silky finish. ($23)


(91) Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica 2011 (Washington State). Fresh and crisp, featuring citrus and mineral notes. ($20)


(91) Martin Ray Oak Knoll Reserve Merlot 2011 (California). Excellent merlot from and under-appreciated area for the varietal; cool afternoon breezes let this Merlot retain great freshness; a bold and concentrated wine, with a zippy-ness that sets it apart from many. ($22)


(91) R. Collection Merlot 2010 (California). From Raymond Vineyrads; smooth cherry, raspberry and plum flavors. ($16)


(91) Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2010 (Italy). Silky with bright black fruit flavors and aromas; soft, well-integrated tannins and a long finish; should age nicely over the next 5 to 7 years. ($30) 


(91) Sparrow Hawk Russian River Reserve Chardonnay 2011 (California). From the Parsley family who produces the Silver Stag wines, comes their Sonoma sourced series of wine; the famed Dutton Ranch fruit adds beautiful touches of citrus, green apple and pear; the rich buttery finish really rounds out this wine, with subtle touches of vanilla and pineapple. ($40)


(91) Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2010 (California). Rich and creamy, thus smooth in the mouth; tropical fruit flavors with brisk acidity; lingering finish. ($23)


(90) Ménage à Trois White 2010 (California). Lots of grapefruit and pear aromas; this blend of chardonnay, moscato and chenin blanc drinks like an unoaked chardonnay; plenty of nice acidity and green apple. ($13)


(90) Entwine Pinot Grigio 2011 (California). A nice pinot grigio from the joint venture of Wente and the Food Network; light and crisp with refreshing flavors of lime, fresh minerals and quince which leads to a zingy, long finish. ($12)


(90) Frei Brothers Dry Creek Merlot 2011 (California). A beautiful fruit bomb of fun, yet controlled in a way which offers wonderful sophistication; initially, berry fruit with a slight explosion of blackberry, and then everything comes together for the finish, into a very rich, savory wine. ($20)

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