90 Herzog 2006 Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg ($18)
A lovely kosher wine; lush with sweet fruit balanced by dynamic acidity; showing smooth honey and ripe fruit.
ROYAL WINE CORP.
90 Merryvale Vineyards 2007 Starmont Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ($18)
Smooth, bright and juicy with silky texture and lovely ripe fruit; fresh, long and balanced.
90 Kenneth Volk 2006 Chardonnay, Santa Maria Cuvée, Santa Maria Valley ($24)
Fresh, new oak and creamy texture; racy, long and showing citrus and butterscotch.
90 Hug Cellars 2006 Viognier, Cedar Lane Vineyard, Arroyo Seco ($25)
Lively acidity and pleasant aromatics; racy, long and snappy with great balance and style.
91 Nickel & Nickel 2006 Chardonnay, Medina Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($45)
Snappy and bright with racy fruit, crisp acidity and vanilla oak; tangy with a lot of depth.
90 Chameleon Cellars 2004 Charbono, Napa Valley ($23)
Deep color; fragrant and juicy with racy plum fruit and tangy acidity; long and bright with silky texture and balance.
91 Violet-Green Winery 2005 Syrah, Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino ($47)
Dense and rich and showing tangy blackberry; lovely texture and balanced flavors.
94 L'Ecole No 41 Winery 2005 Perigee, Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley ($50)
A toasty, lush and generous Bordeaux-style blend with ripe plum, sweet oak and blackberry fruit; seamless and extraordinary.
94 Longoria Wines 2006 Pinot Noir, Fe Ciega Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills ($54)
Luscious black cherry and racy acidity; fresh and intense with perfect ripe flavors.
94 Va Piano 2006 Syrah, Columbia Valley ($55)
Rich, ripe and racy with lovely black raspberry, spice and excellent acid structure; subtle and slightly gamey.
95 Rubissow Wines 2004 Rubissow-Sargent Reserve, Rubissow Vineyards, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley ($125)
Fragrant, dense and smooth 100% Cabernet Sauvignon with exquisite plum and blackberry fruit; big and intense but showing great length, maturity and complexity.
90 Whitehaven 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($20)
Juicy, citrus and pure mineral, key lime, and jalapeño flavors; clean with a lovely finish.
92 Domdechant Werner 2007 Riesling Kabinett Hochheimer Hölle, Rheingau, Germany ($32)
Elegant and sweet with nervy acidity and vibrant peach fruit; long and balanced with purity and finesse.
CHAMBERS & CHAMBERS
90 Domaine Pinnacle Ice Apple Wine, Frelighsburg, Canada ($33, 375 ml.)
Rich and juicy with energetic acidity and sweet, stewed applesauce flavors; non-vintage.
91 Vincent Girardin 2006 Puligny-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes, France ($55)
Bright, racy and minerally with pure, clean fruit and lively acidity; silky and delicious.
90 Bodega Colomé 2006 Estate Malbec, Valle Calchaqui, Salta, Argentina ($25)
Deep color, rich texture, intense plum and blackberry fruit with notes of oak and spice; racy, pure and long.
93 Gemtree Vineyards 2006 Cadenzia, McLaren Vale, Australia ($30)
Part of a multi-winery projec; lovely integrated 60% Grenache, 20% Tempranillo, 20% Shiraz with elegance, finesse, complexity and breeding. GRAPE EXPECTATION
92 Querciabella 2006 Chianti Classico, Italy ($30)
Ripe plum, sweet oak and smooth, lush texture; long, ripe and complete.
MAISONS, MARQUES & DOMAINES
90 Château Maris 2005 Syrah Old Vine, Minervois La Livinière, Languedoc, France ($36)
Intense, long and cinnamon-spiced 100% Syrah with lovely, rich flavors; dense and forward blackberry fruit and rich texture.
PORTFOLIO GROUP/DFV WINES
93 Two Hands 2006 Shiraz, Samantha's Garden, Clare Valley, Australia ($60)
Silky, dense and bright with amazing intensity, racy acidity and ripe blackberry fruit; energetic notes of butter and oak .
TERLATO WINES INTL
95 Vinedos y Bodegas Garcia Figuero 2004 Tempranillo “Noble,” Ribera del Duero, Spain ($160)
Velvety and dense with stunning plum and cassis and soft tannins ; gorgeous and intense without being overdone; extraordinary.
VALUE AND BY-THE-GLASS RECOMMENDATIONS
90 Bodega Virgen de la Sierra 2006 Macabeo, Lo Brujo, Calatayud, Spain ($10)
Silky and explosive with ripe peach and apple fruit and lovely acid structure; intense, very clean and delicious.
BON VIVANT IMPORTS
88 Napa Ridge 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ($12)
Ripe and smooth with clean floral notes and fresh peach and melon fruit; delightful.
90 Barossa Valley Estate 2006 Chardonnay, E Minor, Barossa Valley, Australia ($13)
Made without malo lactic fermentation and very little oak; fresh and juicy with racy citrus and lush, aromatics and great body.
CELLAR DOOR CELLARS
89 Pietra Santa 2006 Chardonnay, Central Coast ($15)
Edgy and tangy with silky texture and bright, pure acidity; nervy, long and fresh.
90 Martín Codax 2007 Albariño, Rías Biaxas ($15)
Aromatic, rich and spicy with very clean, balanced, fruit; notes of white flowers, ripe spice and peach.
88 Blackstone 2006 Merlot, California ($12)
Showing some herbal nuances but essentially fruit driven.
88 Concannon 2005 Petite Sirah, Limited Release, Central Coast ($15)
From the original Petite Sirah growers; fresh and juicy with lively berry fruit and good, well-balanced acidity.
THE WINE GROUP
89 Huntington Wine Cellars 2006 Zinfandel, California ($15)
Lovely deep color and ripe blackberries and toasted oak; spiced and lush with bright, modern flavors.
WIMBLEDON WINE COMPANY
89 Waterbrook Winery 2006 Mélange Noir, Columbia Valley ($15)
Smooth and ripe with plum and rich texture; 28% Cab Franc, 21% Syrah, 19% Cab Sauvignon, 17% Sangiovese, 14% Merlot, 1% Tempranillo.
89 Villa Maria 2006 Merlot–Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Bin, Hawkes Bay ($16)
Nervy with pure, lovely fruit; clean and racy plum fruit balanced by lively acidity; zesty and fun. [TWISTY]
90 Tito's Handmade Vodka ($20)
Potstill-produced; bright and fresh with notes of citrus and vanilla; balanced and silky with a charming bite of spice.
90 Zodiac Luxury Potato Vodka ($25)
Smooth texture and mellow with hints of vanilla but not excessively sweet; velvety, rich and balanced.
92 Stolichnaya Stoli Blackberi ($24)
Stoli is the champ of flavored vodkas and this is another notch on their belt; smooth, silky and dry with lovely perfumed blackberry fruit; natural, spicy and delicious.
93 Duncan Taylor 42 Year Old Tomatin Cask #1910 Single Malt Scotch ($426)
Light wood smoke, herbs, minty with toffee, vanilla and a feminine shyness; silky, clean and charming, elegant and complete.
93 Oronoco Rum ($32)
Lush, vanilla nose; smooth, with spice and gorgeous, elegant vanilla and rich texture; long and clean.
90 Bossa Cachaça ($28)
Earthy rich and sweet; luscious, silky and showing vanilla and spice; ripe and long.
95 Dewar's Signature Blended Scotch ($141)
Smooth toasty nose; subtle on entry and then explodes on the palate with orange zest, creamy caramel and mellow wood; complex and above all elegant; a pinnacle of blended scotch.
91 Germain-Robin Perfection Two ($240)
Light and bright American brandy with toasted notes and lovely dried fruit and soft wood.
94 Leopold Gourmel Age des Epices Cognac ($180)
Amber color; rich, dense and toasty with caramel and vanilla; rich, complex and layered with spice, wood, burnt orange and lovely flavors.
92 Sean's White Chocolate Irish Cream ($12)
Smooth and creamy with notes of smoky, peaty malt whisky.
Hartford Family Winery
Hartford Family Winery has been making wines for the past 20 years according to President Don Hartford’s motto: “High risk, high reward.” The winery seems to have met its match in new winemaker Jeff Mangahas, who adheres closely to this philosophy.
Mangahas is one of the smartest and most articulate winemakers around. He describes wine with passion and near-poetic intensity. Formerly a biologist and cancer research specialist, Mangahas has certainly found his true calling in winemaking. Every Hartford wine I tasted with him from the 2006 vintage was carefully crafted and scored over 90 points. Mangahas’s wines are all meticulously made, and they emit an artistic quality that reveals his passion for winemaking. This is Mangahas’s first vintage with Hartford, and he’s definitely off to a great start.
The Hartford Family Winery has two distinct labels: Hartford Court for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and Hartford for Zinfandel from Russian River Valley. Here are my notes on some current releases:
90 Hartford Court 2006 Chardonnay, Four Hearts Vineyards, Russian River Valley ($40)
Cool climate elegance and floral notes with aromatics, spice and lively high tones; racy, long and bursting with bright citrus.
90 Hartford Court 2006 Pinot Noir, Hailey’s Block, Green Valley, Russian River Valley ($55)
Made from the young vines at Arrendell which produce a bright and seductive wine with silky spices, bing cherries, brown sugar and tea.
94 Hartford Court 2006 Pinot Noir, Velvet Sister, Anderson Valley ($65)
Rich, racy flavors of blueberries, cola and hugely appealing brown sugar and spice; lush, and breathtaking.
93 Hartford Court 2006 Pinot Noir, Far Coast, Sonoma Coast ($65)
Rich and concentrated with ripe cherry and extracted, deep, robust flavors; powerful, intense and spicy yet quite elegant.
93 Hartford Court 2006 Pinot Noir, Arrendell Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($75)
Made from 34-year-old vines, this wine is bright and fresh with minerals, earth, dark cherry and concentrated notes of black tea; balanced yet full of complexity.
91 Hartford 2006 Zinfandel, Russian River Valley ($30)
Made from an average of 85-year-old vines; elegant and wonderfully juicy, with velvety texture, ripe plum and luscious black raspberry.