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Top 10 wines of the week, 7/9-16, 2010


Five Pinot Noirs, one Syrah, one Bordeaux blend, a Chardonnay, an offbeat red blend and a savory Sauvignon Blanc are this week’s Top 10 wines of the week. All from coastal vineyards, if you consider Paso Robles to be coastal. Is it? Whatever Paso is, it has two of this week’s top ten wines. For my full reviews and scores, see upcoming issues of Wine Enthusiast.

Sanctuary 2007 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir. $33, 1,975 cases. 14.4%. A lovely wine from the Santa Maria Valley, which really has been coming on strong. Santa Rita Hills gets most of the media attention in Santa Barbara, but SMV as a viticultural area is someplace you’re going to be hearing more about. This Pinot shows the crushed Indian spices the valley is known for.

Sonoma Coast Vineyards 2008 Freestone Hills Pinot Noir. $40, 630 cases, 14.2%. A blend of vineyards from the Freestone area of the Sonoma Coast. The wine is marked by high acidity. Needs time.

Dutton Estate 2008 My Father’s Vineyard Syrah. $38, 421 cases, 14.5%. This Syrah, from Russian River Valley, wants a few years in the cellar. Exotic and spicy, with deep, dark brooding fruit and earth flavors.

Vina Robles 2007 Suendero. $49, 392 cases, 15.1%. This is the winery’s Bordeaux blend, in this case Cabernet Sauvignon, with 14% Petit Verdot. Comprises of all things dark blue and black: berries, cola, chocolate. From Paso Robles.

Vina Robles 2007 Syrée. $39, 653 cases, 15.6%. I don’t usually include more than one wine from a single winery here, but this Syrah-Petite Sirah blend is worth a writeup. I don’t care about the alcohol level and neither should you. It’s a soft, luscious wine.

Phillips Hill 2008 Beeson Tree Pinot Noir. $40, 400 cases, 14%. Anderson Valley Pinots are in many ways the most “Burgundian” of California, and this lightly colored, lightly-textured wine shows why. But there’s nothing light about the spicy complexity.

Kudos also to Phillips Hill 2008 Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noir, with a Mendocino appellation.

Morgan 2008 Double L Chardonnay. $36, 450 cases, 14.4%. Dan Morgan Lee’s wines are never shy, because Santa Lucia Highlands fruit is big, big, big. His Double L Vineyard, near the cool extreme northwest corner of the AVA, typically produces Chardonnays enormous in tropical fruits. The wines easily withstand maximum winemaker interventions.

Wrath 2008 San Saba Vineyard Pinot Noir. $49, 182, 14.2%. The wine bears “only” a Monterey appellation, but the vineyard is close to both the Arroyo Seco and the Santa Lucia Highlands. The wine shows elegant similarities to Pinots from both those places.

Geyser Peak 2009 Block Collection River Ranches Sauvignon Blanc. $20, 2,500 cases, 13.5%. There’s little or no oak on this wine. Instead, bright, clean citrus fruit stars, accented with brisk acidity. A splash of Viognier adds richness.

La Follette 2008 Pinot Noir. $30, 2,324 cases, 14.6%. Pinot maestro Greg La Follette is back with his new eponymous label, post-DeLoach and apparently post-Tandem. This wine is racy, with persimmon and cherry flavors.

  1. La Follette is always a BIG yum over here! I remember you turning me onto this brand through your “Winemakers” book.

  2. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for including Sonoma Coast Vineyards.


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