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Murrieta's Well The Whip White Blend 2015

Murrieta’s Well The Whip 2015

"Murietta's Well is a partnership between Philip Wente and Sergio Traverso, the two revitalized the estate and gravity flow winery in 1990 and released The Spur and The Whip in 2010 to commemorate the winery's 20th anniversary. A blend of 33% Sauvignon Blanc, 24% Semillon, 21% Chardonnay, and 12% Orange Muscat, the 2015 Whip is a veritable fruit salad mélange of dried pineapple, cling peaches, bruised pear, lemon verbena, with a dusting of baking spice. Round and glycerol-laden in the mouth without too much weight, the core is sweet, yet balanced with layers of orchard fruit, toasted coconut, and mandarin orange. 13.5% ABV | Sample Murrieta’s Well 9.0 Points...

Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

One of Napa Valley's best kept secrets, Louis M. Martini's 2013 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon is brimming with juicy blackberries, blackcurrants, and cassis. Leather, dried leaves, and trail dust along with an attractive top note of vanilla round out the nose. It's sleek and softly textured on the palate with fine tannins and a medium+ finish. At this point in its evolution, it's totally accessible and offers real drinking pleasure for a modest price. Sample Louis M. Martini 9.0 Points...

Murrieta's Well The Spur Red Blend 2014

Murrieta’s Well The Spur 2014

Better on the second day, I recommend decanting on opening — a ripe blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petite Sirah, 18% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, and 6% Cabernet Franc from Livermore Valley — the 2014 Murietta's Well 'The Spur' opens with notes of blueberry, black raspberry, black cherry, and blackcurrants couched in dark layers of earth, leather, and baking spice. It's fairly plush on entry, with ripe, chewy tannins lending structure to a black-fruited core. 14.5% ABV | Sample Murrieta's Well 9.0 Points...

Au Contraire Pinot Noir 2014

Au Contraire Pinot Noir 2014

The 2014 Au Contraire Pinot Noir is vastly more charming than I expected it to be given the price point. A well-crafted Pinot for less than $25.00 is a rarity and this bottle exceeds expectations. Swoon-worthy aromas of seedy raspberry, black cherry, underbrush, dried rose petal, and warm spice surge from the glass. In the mouth, caressing layers of silky tannins gracefully enfold raspberry turnover and rhubarb compote. It's well-balanced and admittedly hard to put down. 14.3% ABV | Sample Palm Bay International 9.0 Points  ...

Ellipsis Lovett Vineyard Petite Sirah 2014

Ellipsis Red Hills Lovett Vineyard Petite Sirah 2014

Lake County wines are admittedly a new discovery for me. Thus far, the feeling is that the appellation deserves more attention than it currently sees, at least outside of California. Known for it's high-elevation mountain vineyards with predominantly volcanic soils, the wines from the AVA are graced with intensity and poise. The 2014 Ellipsis Red Hills Lovett Vineyard Petite Sirah is no exception—a powerhouse wine that conveys both richness and freshness—it's a fruit-laden core of roasted strawberries, raspberry turnover, and blackberries that is rendered more complex by a resonant undertone of blackstrap molasses that dissolves into damp earth, coffee grounds, and char. Ellipsis Wines 9.2 Points...

Robert Mondavi To Kalon Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Robert Mondavi To Kalon Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Tasted in Transylvania of all places at the ROVINHUD wine show, during a master class led by MW Patrick Farrell. The 2014 proves to be as sumptuous and profound as the 2013. Opaque as a starless night, it's a deep plunge into blueberry and crème de cassis bliss, followed by sandalwood and vanilla, dried mint and spice. Full, luscious and round on the palate—firm, chewy tannins hint at its youth—I'd give it another decade or so in the cellar. A wonderful expression of To Kalon. Sample Robert Mondavi Winery 9.6 Points...

Ernest & Julio Gallo Signature Series Pinot Noir 2013

Gallo Signature Series Pinot Noir 2013

I prefer Gallo's Signature Series Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir with some age on it—the 2013 offers up a bouquet of that is more dark fruited than red. Blackberries at peak ripeness, a touch of black cherry, vanilla and cola precede a wine that is swathed in fine, velvety tannins. This is a richer, more somber expression of Pinot Noir, one that is lifted by a well-placed vein of acidity and an alluring wisp of pink peppercorn. 14.7% ABV | Sample Gallo Family Wines 9.0 Points...

Robert Talbott Kali Hart Chardonnay 2014

Talbott Kali Hart Chardonnay 2014

An excellent value to be found in this estate grown, Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay. The site lies just thirteen miles from Carmel Bay, along the northern edge of the valley—planted in 1982, in Corton-Charlemagne Chardonnay clone vines, it's a wine that delivers subtle, layered flavors of smokey baked yellow apples, figs, and lemon that torte strike a precise balance between ripeness and lifted acidity. The core is deliciously creamy, a sensation that gradually subsides to a minerally finish. 14.5% ABV | Sample Talbott Vineyards 8.9 Points...

Notable Oaked Chardonnay 2016

Notable Oaked Chardonnay 2016

Relatively new to the market, Notable Chardonnay comes in two versions, one for the oaky-buttery crowd and the other a crisp stainless steel ferment. This being the oak-laden version, with palate drenching caramel, praline, bruised pear, and lemon drop. Silky on entry with orchard fruit at the core neatly folded into toast that is most prominent on the back palate along with a touch of lemon pith. It’s silky on entry, with moderate weight and plenty of lushness. Nice persistence, very old-school. Sample Constellation Brands Inc 8.7 Points...

Morlet Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Mon Chevalier 2010

Morlet Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Mon Chevalier 2010

My first Cabernet Sauvignon from Morlet Family Vineyards—I've only been lucky enough to taste and have been dazzled by their sublime Chardonnays. That said, the 2010 Mon Chevalier didn't disappoint, displaying classic Knight's Valley character, it's a treasure trove of cassis, black currants, incense and sandalwood, tar and menthol. Black pepper and spice box. The palate is a layered as the nose, with a dark-fruited succulent core framed in an understory of fine, mouth-coating tannins. 15.0% ABV Morlet Family Vineyards 9.5 Points ...