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Top 10 Wines of the Week, 7/16-23, 2010


Most of my top wines this past week were Cabs and blends from the Rutherford Dust tasting I already blogged about, so I won’t include them on the list. What we have today are 2 Pinot Noirs, a Merlot, 3 Cabernet Sauvignons, one Syrah, 2 Viogniers and a Tannat. Read on. You’ll find my full scores and reviews in upcoming issues of Wine Enthusiast.

MacRostie 2007 Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir. The vineyard is officially in the Sonoma Coast, but I think it’s very close to the Sonoma-Carneros line. It produces excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. This ‘07 Pinot is bold and muscular, and needs time. $40, 1,081 cases, 14.2%

White Cottage 2007 Estate Merlot. Winemaker Rudy Zuidema is still young, but has an impressive track record, including stints at St. Clement, Honig and Cuvaison. With this Howell Mountain Merlot, he’s crafted a classically-structured wine. $50, 146 cases, 14.1%

Chimney Rock 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Nice to see Chimney Rock back to form with this splendid Cab, from Stags Leap District. It’s delicious, elegant, ageable and easy to find. $61, 22,208 cases, 14.2%

Kudos also the Chimney Rock’s 2008 Elevage Blanc Bordeaux White Blend, $42

MacRostie 2006 Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Syrah. Have to include MacRostie here again. The last several vintages of this wine have been excellent, with the exception of the ‘04, which suffered from heat. This ‘06 is lovely, filled with fruit and umami flavors. $34, 825 cases, 14.3%

Conspire 2008 Pinot Noir. Textbook RRV Pinot, from the Sebastopol area. Lots of red fruits and spices, with a touch of oak. Pretty and delicious. $42, 237 cases, 14.4%

Meander 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Another great 2007 Napa Cab, 100% varietal. The grapes come from Morisoli, in Rutherford, and Lewelling, in St. Helena. The wine is soft, ripe and rich. $65, 333 cases, 14.7%

Jorian Hill 2008 Viognier. This Solvang-based winery produces Rhône-style wines down in the Santa Ynez Valley. This Viognier is drier than usual in California, with bracing minerality, but it doesn’t stint on the tropical fruit. $30, 48 cases, 14.0%

Tangent 2009 Paragon Vineyard Viognier. Niven Family-owned Tangent is making some of the best white wines in California from their big vineyard in cool Edna Valley. I could easily have replaced this racy Viognier with their Grenache Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc. These are all wonderfully crisp and varietal, and while the pricing is admirable, production is low. $17, 784 cases, 14.1%

Cambiata 2006 Tannat. Made from a grape variety native to the Madiran region, in southwestern France. Tannat wines also are making a splash from Uruguay. Some call it a “discarded” variety, but Cambiata grows it in their vineyard, which they say is in the Santa Lucia Highlands even though the label reads only Monterey. The wine is dry and full, sort of a cross between a meaty Northern Rhône Syrah, a big Malbec and a berry-sweet Zin. $28, 380 cases, 14.5%

Skyhawk Lane 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Strikes a different beat down in Paso by being moderate in alcohol, bone dry and somewhat lean — in an elegant way, with juicy blackberries and minerals. $48, 261 cases, 13.5%

  1. Tangent is also a leader in sustainable wines and is certified by Sustainability in Practice (SIP) which it proudly notes on its labels. At tastings I’ve done, people really, really, really like the Grenache Blanc.

  2. Two other refreshing white Summer whites from Paso Robles (Templeton actually) are the estate Viognier and non-oaked Picnic Chardonnay from our family-owned Pomar Junction Vineyard and Winery from SIP Certified vineyards.

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