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Top 10 Wines of the Week, 6/25 – 7/2

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A mixed bag this week: 3 Rhônes, 2 Sauv Blancs, a Chardonnay, 1 Pinot Noir, a Zinfandel, a Primitivo and a lusty red blend make the list. You’ll find my full reviews, plus scores, in upcoming issues of Wine Enthusiast.

Zaca Mesa 2007 Grenache. This is a crazy good wine, 100% varietal. It was grown on the winery’s Santa Ynez Valley estate. It’s rare for Grenache to be made unblended, but ZM succeeds with this deliriously rich, sensuous red. $32, 377 cases, 14.5%.

Freemark Abbey 2009 Viognier. This lush, crisp Viognier combines Rutherford ripeness with Carneros minerality. It’s one of the best Napa Valley Viogniers ever, and earns this week’s spot for top white wine.    $27, 940 cases, 14.5%.

Longboard 2006 Mavericks Signature Series Rogers Creek Vineyards Syrah. Shows its cool-climate Sonoma Coast pedigree in the black pepper and smoked meat notes, and considerable tannins. A Northern Rhône-style dazzler. $40, 156 cases, 14.6%.

Palmaz 2008 Amalia Chardonnay. People who say Napa Valley can’t produce good Chard should try this fruity beauty. Made full-bore Burgundian style, with sur lie aging and 50% new oak. $45, 693 cases, 14.4%.

Martin Ray 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. With a Rutherford appellation, this racy Sauv Blanc was probably grown down by the river Napa. It’s dry and clean, with a salty tang, at a great price for such a sophisticated white wine. $20, 1,366 cases, 13.9%.

Benovia 2008 Pinot Noir. The winemaker is Mike Sullivan, who used to craft the wines at Pinot specialist Hartford Court. This wine is their blend of several vineyards in the Sonoma Coast region.It’s silky and strong in flavor, and will age for a few years. $45, 1,042 cases, 14.2%.

Paul Dolan 2007 Zinfandel. Biodynamic wunderkind Paul Dolan hits the mark with this rich, sassy Mendocino-grown Zinfandel. The fruit is balanced with spices and Provençal herbs. $25, 2,925 cases, 14.5%.

J. Lohr 2009 Carol’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. Central Coast pioneer Lohr reaches into St. Helena to craft this drily acidic, fresh Sauvignon Blanc. It’s fruity, with just a touch of oak and lees. $24, 13.5%. Case production not revealed, but the 2008 produced 1,877 cases.

X Winery 2008 Red X Winemaker’s Red Blend. A combo of Syrah, Tempranillo, Grenache and Zinfandel, this drily rustic wine fills the bill for a good, inexpensive house pour. The grapes are from Carneros, Mendocino, Suisun Valley and Lake County, and the appellation reads North Coast.       $15, 5,000 cases, 14.5%.

C.G. di Arie 2007 Block #4 Primitivo. Give it up to di Arie for taking Primitivo and making it interesting. It’s drier and smoother than most Foothills Zins, with cocoa and pepper flavors. From the Shenandoah Valley of California. $25, 719 cases, 14.9%.

  1. Great choice with the Freemark Abbey Viognier, it’s a great wine.

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