Call of the West – Sonoma 2010

Bby John W N Holmes

Last year’s report only scratched the surface of the Sonoma County Wines, so we came back to further explore the area as well as to visit a few of the stars from last year. Once again, we stayed in Healdsburg which is one of the main centres of Sonoma County being close to the Russian River and Alexander Valley. We decided to have one day in Calistoga as a variation on the Pinot/Zinfandel theme. It also gave us a chance to see how Napa had changed from our last visit. One notable restaurant this year was the Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg. Sumptuous food and a brilliant wine list at very reasonable prices. Once again you will find in part II this article I have summarised the wines and given my view on the best reds, white and best value wines (link at bottom of page). The points are my relative markings. I welcome feedback and would love to hear your comments on the various wines and tasting rooms we visited.


We first visited Sebastiani in 2007 and it’s a great place to stop on the way north to Healdsburg. The tasting room is spacious and welcoming with a great array of wines on offer. If you twist their arm enough they may let you try the wonderful ’06 Cherryblock Cabernet which was the star of the tasting for me. loxton

Loxton Cellars

Australian Chris Loxton is the third generation in his family to produce wines. The previous two made Shiraz in Australia so it was only natural that Chris’s passion lies around Syrah. The tasting room is laid out in the barrel store and gives real sense of where this wine is coming from. Although the Syrahs were very good, I found the 08 Chardonnay and the 07 Late Harvest to be the best on offer.


First thing Monday morning is always a ‘testing’ time. The tasting room at Mauritson however made it an easy start. In previous years I always felt I had been too harsh on the first few vineyards as we go into the swing of tasting this year however the hostess was knowledgeable and the wines offered were perfectly acceptable. Pick of the crop was the 07 Rockpile Ridge Zinfandel although the $17 Sauvignon Blanc gave it a good run for its money. All in all a good experience with wines all representing good value across the range. nalle


We were fortunate to meet Doug Nalle who showed us his range of wines. The tasting room is an amazing above ground cave almost like a bomb shelter covered in earth so that the temperature and humidity are constant throughout the year. Doug was a great host and the wines all scored above average marks. We all liked the 07 Pinot and at $35 a bottle it is good value. He also has a vertical available from 05, 06 and 07 and a French style chardonnay which is still young and we probably tasted it too soon. I think that will develop further.


A cheery smile and friendly face greets you when you enter Kokomo. The tasting room is on a small industrial unit along with three or four other producers and you are surrounded by the barrels of wine. I enjoyed the 07 Mounts Vineyard Zinfandel and also the 08 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. One added attraction is the very large but equally friendly dog which greets everyone. Overall good value wines and a pleasant tasting experience.


We had an appointment at Unti but it was difficult to understand why this was necessary. No-one seemed to really bother about the times or numbers. The wines were generally just OK and nothing special here to tickle the palate. The tasting room was one of the low points of the week and the host seemed to not be really bothered at all. All in all a poor experience and one of the low points of the week. dutcher

Dutcher Crossing

I have always had this ‘thing’ against wineries who sell aromatic candles in tasting rooms, whereas I appreciate the commerciality it really does affect the ability to get the most from the wines. Dutcher Crossing had unfortunately fallen into that trap. We had planned to stay there for lunch but the smell in the tasting room put us off our wine so we moved on. Predictably the wines didn’t score well and that was all down to candles !

Truett Hurst

An unplanned ‘drop-in’ recommended to us. Some recommendations fall flat but this one fully lived up to our expectations. The tasting room was well thought out, light, comfortable and spacious. The host and hostess were really friendly and knew their subject. We went through all their range (11 wines) and stayed in their lovely picnic area for lunch. We chose the 3 Vineyards Zinfandel for lunch, a $25 blockbuster wine, which went down really well with the cheese and pate. Full marks Truett Hurst.


First impressions say a lot about a vineyards and the feature we all remembered from this tasting was the vast amount of signs all saying “Don’t do this” or “No xxx” or “xxx not allowed” Anyway back to the wines. We tasted the four wines on offer which all exhibited high tannins with a lower level of fruit than I would care to have. Nothing on offer here enticed us to purchase and although the tasting room was very comforatble, the wines failed to live up to expectations.

Michel Schlumberger

The location of this winery created a good tasting area in a beautifully tranquil setting surrounded by wildlife. The wines on offer were mature wines and although the ambiance was good the wines didn’t really compliment this at all. This was our last tasting for the day and perhaps our taste buds were getting fatigued but the wines came across as aggressively tannic. The best wine was the 06 Syrah which, at $32, was better value than the 04 Deux Terres at $75.


Once again James MacPhail has produced the goods. MacPhail pays fantastic attention to quality and detail in preparing pinots which just take your breath away. James and Gabe’s 2007 offerings were among the best we tasted this year, if not the best. The Vagon Lit was exceptional and the San Giacomo was not far behind. Medal Winners for sure. We were also given a hint of what is to come with a chardonnay ! James certainly has the midas touch and the whole operation is friendly and inviting. Anyone coming to Sonoma must put this on their list. hop kiln

Hop Kiln

A somewhat commercial style wine tasting room, as you are aware I have an aversion to tasting rooms which have sell loads of goodies. In the case of Hop Kiln this included really hot mustards which would certainly kill the taste and smell senses. The wines were in the ‘value’ range with most $16-$25. A good drinking wine was the “Big Red’ at $20


Rochioli set the stage last year with some great wines, and we joined their waiting list (only 7 years wait!) After this last showing I am not sure if the wait is worth it. The wines were satisfactory in their overall quality but fell in the ‘nothing exceptional’ band. It’s a shame really as we have high hopes for this repeat visit. The tasting room is still spartan but does the job, best to sit on the terrace though.


Another repeat visit from last year as it made our top 10. The gardens here are superb and we also got to taste some of the new Mark David Wines which were really good, in particular the Sauvignon Blanc which was complex and had great melon and grapefruit undertones. They also produce a great Cabernet Franc which was full of blackcurrants and cedar.

Thomas George

Massive construction when we were there completing the new caves. My only hope is that the caves will improve the wines. The most expensive wine at $55 only rated a meagre 88 points and on the whole they struggled for aromas and were too subtle for my taste. The tasting room was large and very comfortable.


On our previous visit Moshin was a firm favourite, sadly this year we came away thinking that this year’s wines didn’t really live up to expectation which is surprising given the excellent vintage. The best was definitely the 07 Carreras Vineyard which was a wild collection of raspberries and raisins. Tasting rooms are very spacious and convivial to tasting although some of the stories about mixing desert wines with vodka left me wondering why one would ruin a perfectly good desert wine!


Probably one of the most serene views in Sonoma, just the way to end a perfect day sitting watching the sun go down over the Copain view. In general they represent lighter French style wines but of exceptional quality. The favourite was Kiser 07 which had great black cherry flavours. “Tous Ensemble Pinot Noir” represented great value at $25 a bottle.

Williamson Wines

Located just off the Healdsburg main town square, Williamson Wines is a wine and food pairing experience which is well worth a visit. We went through 8 wines all mixed with small pieces of food to complement the wines. Top of the list was the 08 Inspire and also the 06 Shiraz, which as one would expect from Australian stock, was a full bodied wine with heaps of flavour. Dawn runs a great tasting room and it is very popular. Best to go early before the crowd get in though. rodney strong

Rodney Strong

One of the larger wineries in Sonoma, Rodney Strong has always produced good quality wines which are available in most shops. We wanted to taste the reserve wines to see how these stacked up. In general the quality was good but not exceptional. They were however reasonably priced and could be classed as ‘reliable’ wines. Favourites were the Knotty Vines Zinfandel and the Gentleman’s Ruby Port. The views from the tasting galleries showed the winery and it is set up for large groups of visitors.


When we visited Marimar last year it was a disappointing experience however on reading the feedback from last year’s report Marimar Torres wanted to improve the area and invited us to return to see the changes. I am pleased to say that the new tasting room is now a very pleasant experience. We were fortunate to get a guided tour of the area and get to taste the wines along with Marimar’s personal recipes. Our favourite was the 05 Christina with its spicy dark cherry flavour.

Walter Hansel

Nothing extravagant about the Walter Hansel tasting experience but don’t be fooled by the laid back approach. The vineyard was hard to find but I’m glad we did as the wines represented excellent value. The Sauvignon Black was a 90 point wine all for $16. Excellent.


By the time this is written the tasting rooms will have moved to their new location at the vineyard. Talking with Kathleen gave us an insight into the ethos of her wines and how important every little detail is. The wines were delicate and fine, dare I call them feminine wines without offending people. I really liked what Kathleen was doing and enjoyed the wine tasting experience.


Large spacious tasting room, full of light and pleasant decorations. The wines were ‘crisp’ if slightly too tannic for my taste but those people who enjoy ready to drink wines will love these offerings. The high end wines didn’t represent good value in my opinion as at $60 a bottle they face stiff competition from gold medal winners at the same price.

Robert Young

Small intimate tasting room set in the grounds of a wonderful home. The wines were consistent and full of classic flavours whereby one could identify the wines easily by their flavours. The Scion was the favourite here and we walked out with some verticals of this great Cabernet. The host was most knowledgeable and friendly. One to visit.

Chalk Hill

Set in the middle of the countryside Chalk Hill caters also for larger coach parties. The wines were, in my opinion, overpriced with desert wine topping out at over $80. The Pinot Gris did nothing for me at $40. At least the sauvignon blanc was very drinkable but was not competitively priced at $33 compared to others like Hansel. verite


It’s not often one gets to meet an iconic winemaker. We were just enjoying the offerings at Verite when in walked Pierre Seillan, winemaker extraordinaire. This is the Frenchman who challenged his own countryman with his range of wines to compare with Petrus, Cheval Blanc and the other big guns. Oh yes and by the way he won! We were treated to a tasting the 97 La Joie which is a fantastic wine. My tasting notes started off “wow”! This is a classic Bordeaux Blend of 70% Cabernet and 30% merlot and it is a star. Robert Parker gave the 07 100 points and it’s easy to see why! I ran out of superlatives for these wines so suggest you go and try them for yourselves. Not cheap but, then again, high quality never is.

Lancaster Estate

One of the most ultra modern tasting rooms we have ever seen. Initially there was a problem with the booking as there is a new tasting room being constructed. The wines were spread well across the price range from $24 to $100 although I feel the Nicoles Red Blend of Cab and Malbec ($100) didn’t represent good value. I preferred the Sophia Hill at $48 but still this is among strong competition.

Davis Family Vineyards

I forget how I first heard of the Davis Family vineyard but I need to take note of their other recommendations. This was a great tasting experience. They have an exceptional range of wines right from a New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc through genuine Riesling and ending up with a Russian River Syrah. One of the most impressive consistent ranges I have seen in Sonoma. montelena

Chateau Montelena

Impressive building and gardens don’t always reflect the quality of wines. In this case however they are a direct correlation. Good quality wines with a futures style marketing approach. An opportunity to purchase the wines at discounted prices in advance. The Montelena Cabernet was a 91 point wine and, if purchased in the futures style, was fairly priced.

WH Smith

The WH Smith shop located in Calistoga offers oenophiles a tasting and sensory experience which few have copied. The wines themselves represent excellent value and all were in the 90 point area while costing between $30 and $60. The Kaley 00 Zinfandel was interesting and is holding up well although needs to be drunk now.


With lovely gardens you would expect to find some seating and opportunities to have food with some of their wines. Regrettably this is not the case. The wines were good standard Twomey quality and well balanced. The Sauvignon Blanc was the best of the bunch and was reasonably priced at $25. Tasting room was clean and spacious.

Summers Estate

Summers has a large tasting room which was quite empty when we arrived. Unfortunately, there was nothing on offer which really was worth writing home about. I think we found out why it was empty. The Muscadet desert wine was cheap and cheerful and good for summer day drinking, apart from that, the wines were lacklustre.

Storybook Mountain

Wonderful setting tucked onto the side of a mountain. The wine tasting experience in the cave was memorable but we could have done with a bit more light to write notes and look at the colours of the wine. The wines tasted good and our selection here was the 06 Anteus ($40). del dotto

Del Dotto

One of the most difficult reviews to write. The word opulence doesn’t even begin to describe the surroundings of the new Del Dotto wine tasting experience. This is barrel tasting like no other. Rob, the host was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and kept us entertained throughout the experience. I would thoroughly recommend it for the sheer novelty. As for the wines it was a good opportunity to experience the “same grapes – different barrel” story which seemed to go above most people’s head. Go there with an open mind and enjoy the education offered. Although I am not certain I would remember which wines to buy I did take notes but it’s pointless sharing them as each barrel is unique and sold once enough people buy the bottling.


Once again Sonoma County really delivered the goods. At the end of the week we all reflected what a great experience it was yet again. We debated whether we should go back again next year and the resounding answer was YES. There is so much more to see and so many more vineyards to visit. In general the smaller vineyards have the more interesting wines and greater variety but the larger more commercial vineyards have the safer more consistent wines. Sincere thanks to the people who played their part in making this a great experience. Special thanks


The wines

Wine Yr $ Pts Comments
RRV Chardonnay 08 18 88 Unoaked with green apple tang
Carneros Chardonnay 07 25 87 Pears and nectarine undertones
Carneros Pinot Noir 07 26 88 Spicy cherries and oak
RRV Pinot Noir 07 30 88 Toasted cherries
Alexander Valley Merlot 06 24 87 Plums but little life
Dry Creek Zinfadel 07 24 88 Raspberries but tannic
Secolo (Cab/Merlot) 06 35 88 Cherry and plum flavours
Cherryblock (Cab Sauv) 06 75 90 Blackberries and cigar box
Loxton cellars
Chardonnay 08 24 90 Citrus and apple, light oak
Zinfandel 07 25 88 Full ripe and slightly too tannic
Syrah 06 28 88 Deep Syrah, black fruit
Late Harvest Zinfandel 07 20 89 Good balance, lighter style
Cab Shiraz 06 30 88 Blackcurrants and peppers
Port 07 27 89 100% Syrah, good keeper
Sauvignon Blanc 08 17 88 Melon and butter, slight acidic
Chardonnay 07 25 88 Citrus fruit dominated
Charlie Clay Pinot Noir 08 40 89 Bright fruit dominated wine
Rockpile Ridge Zinfandel 07 35 90 Long finish, black fruit & vanilla
Jacks Cabin Zinfandel 07 37 88 Keeper wine, well balanced
Westphail Ridge 07 37 89 Big fruit with balanced tannins
Cemetery Zinfandel 07 39 88 16% alcohol, big wine !
Hopkins Ranch Chardonnay 07 37 86 Too acidic lower fruit
Pinot Noir 07 35 89 Nice balance, leather & cherries
Zinfandel 07 35 88 High tannic structure
Henderlong Zinfandel 06 40 88 Full bodied food wine
Zinfandel Reserve 06 45 89 Good solid wine
Peters Vineyard Pinot Noir 07 48 90 Leather and cherries
Windsor Oaks Pinot Noir 07 36 89 Acidic with cherries and plums
Mounts Vineyard Zinfandel 07 30 91 Raspberries and cherries
Green Pastures Syrah 05 27 86 Mineral nose almost vegetal
Dry Creek Cabernet 06 29 89 Reluctant nose but good balance
Petit Syrah 07 27 90 Sweeter style with open nose
Late Harvest Sauv. Blanc 08 28 91 Honey and peaches. Yum
Cuvee Blanc 08 24 87 Dry with low fruit
Grenache 06 30 85 High tannins and low fruit
Zinfandel 06 26 86 Overpowering tannins
Syrah 06 26 85 ‘Meaty’ flavour. Not my style
Benchland Syrah 05 35 86 Good finish but high tannins
Dutcher Crossing
Sauvignon Blanc 08 22 82 Flabby and weak nose
Costello Chardonnay 07 28 85 Pears and oak and oak and oak
Stuhlmuller Chardonnay 07 34 89 Best of chardonnays, nutty pears
Maple Zinfandel 07 40 88 Blackberries and vanilla. Oaky
Proprietors Res Cab Sauv 06 29 87 Blend Cab/Syrah little nose
Nevins Cab Sauvignon 06 43 89 Early days but a keeper
Port 06 32 89 Chocolate ruby style
Black Sheep Pinot Noir 07 40 89 Strawberries and flowery vanilla
VML Boudreaux Pinot Noir 08 45 90 Great single vineyard style
VML Swicegood Pinot Noir 08 45 91 Full fruit, balanced strawberry
Dark Horse Blend 07 40 89 Flowery wine Rhone blend
3 vineyard Zinfandel 06 25 91 Good jammy flavour with pepper
Red Rooster Zinfandel 06 29 89 Lighter style, mineral flavour
Rattler Rock Zinfandel 06 29 90 Great cherry falvour
Burning Man Petit Syrah 06 33 87 Tannins aggressive
Stonegate Cabernet 03 60 87 Tough tannin structure
Petit Verdot 04 60 87 Black fruit and oak
Desert Wine 05 36 90 Great classic port style
Sauvignon Blanc 08 22 86 Low fruit content
Rhone Blend 07 34 86 Really aggressive tannins
Syrah 06 32 86 Alcohol kills taste
Petit Syrah 07 32 86 Just nothing there
Michel Schlumberger
La Brume Chardonnay 07 32 87 French oak, malolactic style
Le Fou Pinot Noir 06 32 86 Good nose, poor finish, tannic
Cabernet Sauvignon 05 40 87 Tannic style, low fruit
Deux Terres 04 75 85 Way too tannic aggressive
Estate Cabernet 00 50 87 Fruit forward but too tannic
Syrah 06 32 88 Unbalanced
Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 07 39 92 Great lingering strawberries
Ferrington Pinot Noir 07 49 91 Needs longer but a keeper
San Giacomo 07 49 93 Mineral undertones
Pratt Vineyard 07 49 92 Complex red fruit, raspberries
Frattey Shams 07 49 91 Keeper wine, great balance
Vagon lit 07 59 94 Wow, just great fruit
Chardonnay 07 ** 92 Unreleased but will be great
Hop Kiln
Sonoma Chardonnay 07 28 85 Lean fruit, oaky
Chardonnay 08 20 87 Pineapple and bananas, long
Sauvignon Blanc 08 18 84 Unique flavour ! peel undertones
Rosa Bellisima 08 16 83 Grenache but not obvious
Thousand Flowers 08 16 85 Too flowery for my taste
Grenache 07 22 88 Black cherries on taste
Pinot Noir 08 40 86 Lacks fruit for $40
Malbec 07 25 86 Ripe cherries and plums
Rushin Red 07 23 85 Ripe fruit tannic undertones
Big Red 07 19 89 Good value wine (Zin/Syrah)
Sauvignon Blanc 09 26 89 Grapefruit and mineral style
Chardonnay 08 36 88 Basic buttery malolactic flavour
Pinot Noir 08 48 90 Still young. Cherries & vanilla
Pinot Gris 08 28 86 Pear drops & acetone finish
Bacigalupi Pinot Noir 07 56 87 Strawberries, low fruit
Sonoma Coast La Cruz 07 56 88 Long finish of dark berries
Perli Vineyard 07 56 89 Mineral Style pinot
RRV Syrah 07 34 87 Dominated by tannins, pity
Mark David Sauv. Blanc 09 34 93 Great depth and complexity
Mark David Cab Franc 07 56 91 Balanced balck fruit and cedar
Thomas George
Sauvignon Blanc 08 25 84 Acidic and tannic, avoid
Pinot Noir 07 38 88 Leather and strawberries
Viognier 08 28 87 Struggles on nose but balanced
Zinfandel 07 27 87 Peppery chocolate flavour
Allen Vineyard Pinot 07 55 88 Rose petals, mineral style
Larrick Sauvignon Blanc 08 22 89 Apples and dried fruit. Balanced
Sonoma Coast Pinot 07 40 89 Cherries and smoke
Halo Hill 07 44 89 Smoky flavour
RRV Pinot 07 36 88 Came across flat, little flavour
Zinfandel 06 30 87 Tannins too high.
Carreras Zinfandel 07 35 90 Best wine, Raisins and raspberry
Petit Syrah 07 38 88 Peppery plums and blueberries
Moshin Poshin #7 32 88 Too sweet on this occasion
Rossane James Berry 07 35 89 Nutty and light, good finish
Monument Tree 07 50 90 Black tea and red fruit. Long
Wentzel Pinot 07 50 89 Pomegranate and cranberry !
Kiser 07 60 90 French style, black cherries
Tousensemble Pinot 07 25 89 Good value French style pinot.
Sauvignon Blanc 08 28 88 Ginger on nose
Chardonnay 07 38 88 Butterscotch, smooth
Rapture Pinot Noir 08 45 90 Rounder balanced mineral flavour
Merlot 05 40 87 Low on nose, plums and dark fruit
Cuvee (Bordeaux style) 05 47 89 Redcurrants and cedar
Inspire 08 85 91 Classic Bordeaux style. Good
Stagecoach 05 125 88 Too tannic not ready yet
Shiraz 06 47 90 Vanilla and long peppery finish
Rodney Strong
Sauvignon Blanc 08 18 87 Good nose little taste
Reserve Chardonnay 07 35 87 Buttery malolactic and apples
Reserve Pinot 07 40 90 Good balanced wine
Estate Alexander Valley 07 25 89 Pepper and vanilla, toasty
Alexander Crown (Cab) 05 35 89 Keeper, blackberries
Reserve Alexander Valley 06 45 89 Blackcurrant and cedar
Symmetry 06 55 89 Blackberries and plums
Knotty Vines Zinfandel 07 19 89 Great value Zin. Pepper & Jam
Reserve Zinfandel 07 30 88 Spicy vanilla
Gentleman’s Port 06 30 89 Powerful Zinfandel based port
Walter Hansel
RRV Pinot Noir 07 36 88 Good nose, raspberries
Sauvignon Blanc 09 16 90 Great value NZ style. Grapefruit
Cuvee Alyce Chardonnay 07 36 88 Toasted almonds and buttery
Inman Family
Pinot Gris 08 25 87 Smooth delicate style
RRV Pinot Noir 07 30 90 Delicate floral wines
Thorn Ridge Ranch 07 52 91 Sage flavour, black tea
Estate Vineyard 07 52 89 Mineral earthy flavour
RRV Blend Meredith 06 52 90 Balanced, strong raspberry fruit
Chardonnay 07 20 90 Unoaked, crisp and light
Alexander Valley Merlot 05 30 87 Powerful tannins, too much?
Alexander Valley Cab 02 55 86 Fruit is overpowered by tannin
Alexander Valley 05 40 86 Younger wine, fruit too low?
Stone Vineyard Cab 05 60 88 Older vine redcurrants
Robert Young
Chardonnay 06 40 86 Heavily oaked, creamy
Area 27 Chardonnay 07 42 88 Lighter oak style, citrus flavour
Scion Cabernet 05 58 90 Cherries and chocolate
Scion Cabernet 06 58 89 Open and mellow wine
Big Rock Cabernet 06 58 89 Black fruit leather and cherries
Big Rock Cabernet 05 100 90 Mellow balanced wine drink now
Chalk Hill
Sauvignon Blanc 07 33 90 Citrus fruit and buttery layer
Pinot Gris 06 40 86 Tastes of……..nothing
Estate Chardonnay 07 48 89 Butter, pineapple and expensive
Merlot 06 51 88 Pure Merlot, unfortunately
Estate Cabernet 05 65 87 Low nose and too tannic
Botrytis Semillon 06 80 89 Honey but just too expensive.
La Muse 06 200 95 Merlot based, great structure
La Joie 06 200 97 Classic Bordeaux, superb
Archipel 06 200 96 Stunning balance, keeper
Le Desir 06 200 94 Cab Franc keeper
La Joie 98 150 98 Wow ! Nothing else to say
Lancaster Estates
Sauvignon Blanc 08 24 87 Acid levels too high
Sophia Hill Cabernet 06 48 90 Good cherry and dark fruit
Estate Cabernet 06 70 89 Complex with tannic structure
Nicole’s Propriety Red 06 100 89 Just not at this price point
Davis Family
Sauvignon Blanc 07 20 90 Classic NZ Style
Cote Rose 07 18 88 Almonds and rose petals
RRV Chardonnay 07 35 90 Boneya nd citrus. Balanced
RRV Pinot 06 40 90 Good red berry flavour
Riesling 07 24 91 Yummy classic dry Riesling
Old Vine Zinfandel 06 30 91 Mellow fruit and tannins
RRV Syrah 07 36 89 Fruity Syrah with peppers
Napa Cabernet 06 50 89 Redcurrants, great drinker
Zinfandel port 05 30 88 Lighter style port
Chateau Montelena
Potter Valley Riesling 08 24 88 Apricot, dry and apples
Chardonnay 07 50 89 Stone citrus and apples. Pricy?
Zinfandel 06 30 90 Balanced smoky vanilla flavour
Napa Cabernet 06 49 89 Good balanced wine
Montelena Cabernet 06 135 91 Old vines producing great wine
WH Smith
Sonoma Coast Pinot 07 32 89 Good entry level pinot
Umino Pinot Noir 08 48 91 Smooth mineral style
Hellenthal Pinot 07 48 91 Well balanced pinot
Kaley Cellars Zinfandel 00 35 90 Mellow drinker. Plums & prunes
Howell Mt. Cab 06 42 88 Low on nose and acid
Maritime Pinot 07 54 88 Dark Cheery tannic pinot
Purple Label Cabernet 06 64 90 Smooth, good balanced taste
Sauvignon Blanc 08 25 88 Reluctant nose, acidic undertone
Pinot Noir 06 55 89 Balanced strawberries & tannins
Merlot 05 50 89 Plums and balanced tannins
Summers Estate
Reserve Chardonnay 08 32 85 Peas !!! and vanilla
Estate Rose of Cabernet 08 18 85 Too sweet for rose and why?
Villa Adriana Charbono 07 28 89 Rare grape, blueberries/tomato
Villa Adriana Zinfandel 06 34 85 BBQ wine
Knights Valley Merlot 06 30 86 Aggressive tannins
Reserve Cabernet 05 65 88 Way over priced
Petit Syrah Port 06 36 88 Too sweet for port, more desert
Muscat Canelli 07 20 89 Classic muscat reasonable price
Storybook Mountain
Zinfandel Mayacamus 07 34 90 Boysenberry flavours
Eastern Exposure Zin 07 45 89 Viognier gives flowery hint
Anteus 06 40 90 Well balanced red/blackcurrants

The Top 10

Verite La Joie 120 98 Stunning wine, up there with the best
MacPhail Vagon Lit 07 59 94 Amazing wine for $59
Mark David Sauvignon Blanc 09 34 93 Classic Sauvignon Blanc at great price
MacPhail San Giacomo 07 49 93 Mineral style Pinot from a great vineyard
WH Smith Hellentahl pinot Noir 07 48 91 Well balanced, soft tannin structure
Chateau Montelena Cabernet 06 135 91 Great Cabernet from old vines
Davis Family Riesling 07 24 91 The way dry Riesling was intended
Inman Family Thorn Ridge Ranch 07 52 91 Beautifully crafted wine, delicate style
Truett Hurst 2 Vineyard Zinfandel 06 25 91 Bargain Zinfandel for this quality
Kokomo Late Harvest S. Blanc 07 28 91 Honey and peaches. Scrumptious

Best Bargains (under $20)

Walter Hansell Sauvignon Blanc 09 16 90 New Zealand Style with grapefruit
Sebastiani RRV Chardonnay 08 18 88 Unoaked with apple and citrus style
Hop Kiln Big Red 07 19 89 Great value blended wine
Rodney Strong Knotty Vines Zin 07 19 89 Peppery jam and good balance
Loxton Late Harvest Zinfandel 07 20 89 Balanced light style