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Top 10 wines of the week


This was a tough week. Lots of mediocre wines. No really good Pinot, and too many wines, red and white, showed flaws: too sweet, too soft, too watery. Sometimes that’s the way it goes in this business. You’ll find my full reviews, with scores, in upcoming issues of Wine Enthusiast, or on the magazine’s website.

Chalk Hill 2007 Estate Syrah. Purists will take one look at the alcohol and think, “Not for me!” But this is really a massively flavored, opulent wine. The flavors start with red cherries, go all the way to dark chocolate, and include just about everything Syrah-esque inbetween. $60, 304 cases, 15.9%.

Ehlers 2007 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery’s top bottling, from the estate in St. Helena. It’s really lush, if a little soft. Where Oakville is dark black and blue fruit, this is about red cherries, violets and milk chocolate. $95, 800 cases, 14.5%.

Black Ridge 2007 San Andreas Red. It’s a blend of all 5 Bordeaux varieties that’s rich and minerally, with the concentration of a mountain vineyard. Nice to see the Santa Cruz Mountains put on a show. $49, 567 cases, 14.8%.

Rancho Zabaco 2008 “Toreador” Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel. Not for everyone, with alcohol just under 17%. But we try to evaluate wine for how well it shows its stylistic typicity, and this Zin does that well, showcasing Sonoma Valley mountain Zinfandel on steroids. $60, 238 cases, 16.9%.

Gain Bay 2008 Cabernet Family. It’s a Bordeaux blend from Napa Valley, and it’s a nice, earthy one, with olives and herbs grounding the fruit. Pretty good price for the quality. $20, 850 cases, 14.7%.

Ancient Peaks 2007 Oyster Ridge. The producer is in a southern, cooler part of Paso Robles, and the blend is one of those interesting composites Paso is getting known for, in this case Bordeaux + Petite Sirah. Soft, peppery and delicious. $50, 293 cases, 14.7%.

Raymond 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). From one of the most dependable producers in the valley. Young, vigorous and filled with blackberry jam. $32, 16,000 cases, 14.7%.

Ludwig 2008 Riesling. I could have drank the whole bottle. Dry, crisp and minerally-appley. $14, 336 cases, 13.5%.

Chatom 2006 Syrah. Nice to see this old Calaveras County producer doing so well. It’s a briary, earthy Syrah, with berry-cherry fruit. Food friendly. $23, 823 cases, 15%.

She Wines 2006 Red Blend. Two Calaveras County wines on the Top 10 list! How ‘bout that? It’s all about peppery bacon and red cherry flavors in this dry, affordable wine. $12, 1,417 cases, 14.9%.

This just in:

Renewed fighting broke out overnight in the streets of Walla Walla, as angry town folk and wine bloggers clashed for a second straight day.

Stores were looted and cars set ablaze, although it was difficult to tell just which side was responsible for the mayhem.

Local hospitals reported extensive injuries in emergency rooms. The Red Cross opened shelters for residents afraid to return to their homes. As the sun rose this morning, a pall of smoke lay over the ruined city.

Both sides blamed the other for provoking the violence. Sam van der Beek, a spokesman for Protect Walla Walla Now, accused the wine bloggers of invading the city of 65,000. “We was all peaceful and such, and the next thing you know, here’s all these drunken kids running loose.”

But one of the bloggers, Steve Heimoff, defended his colleagues. “I didn’t see anybody get drunk. Well, maybe late at night, in the hotel bar. But we certainly weren’t rampaging out in the streets.”

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire called for a “Peace Jirga” later today. “All sides must come together and iron out their differences,” she said.

  1. I’m liking your weekly round up… Behave yourselves, WBC people!

  2. Glad to see that four of the 10 toppers were priced for the Real World, what you call “Best Buys”. Since it was a “tough” week for you with many mediocre wines, does this mean that the top 10 are the best of the bad. And what does that mean, since you’ve chosen to play Tantalus on this blog and not include scores or excerpts from your more formal mag reviews (not sure why though I know you’ll argue that they should see the light of day for the first time in the magazine)? When can we expect the website to have your full reviews? In reviewing the listings the lag time seems to be no better than four months….

  3. Same here, keep up the weekly wines action.

  4. Tom I wouldn’t say best of bad. Your other points: (1) lag time. Agree. Problem. Not sure of solution. We’ll talk about this next month at WE summer editorial meeting. (2) your point “should see light of day in mag” correct.

  5. Steve, the rioting was greatly exaggerated–someone said that all wine bloggers were writers, someone else said not all wine writers were bloggers, and then the shooting and the sirens. Honestly, some people can’t hold their White Zin.

  6. Tim: particularly Walla Walla White Zin.

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