PICK of the RACK: Ceja Vineyards | Vino de Casa | Napa Valley | California | 2009 | $25 (Avg.) | 88 pts

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An unusual blend of Pinot Noir (60%) and Syrah (40%), the Ceja family’s “house wine” fulfills its self-designated role with equal measures of refinement and dexterity. Syrah is dominant on the nose, offering brawny aromas of dark fruit, smoked meat, … Continue reading

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PICK of the RACK: Corralitos Vineyards and Winery | Syrah | Santa Cruz Mountains | Santa Cruz County | California | 2012 | $18 | 91 pts

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Corralitos Vineyards & Winery is the second label of Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery, owned and operated by Richard and Mary Kay Alfaro on the south side of Santa Cruz County just a few miles inland from Monterey Bay. Their … Continue reading

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VIRGINIA CORNER: James River Cellars | Reserve Chardonnay | Virginia | NV | $18 | 88 pts

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Family-owned and operated James River Cellars, located just north of Richmond, produces a thoughtful selection of single- varietal and blended wines from vitis vinifera and French-American hybrids farmed in nearby Montpelier, Virginia. Their Reserve Chardonnay is among our favorites, and … Continue reading

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EVERYDAY VALUE WINE PICK: Bogle Vineyards | Petite Sirah | California | 2012 | $12 (Avg.) | 86 pts

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Bogle delivers a terrific value here — an affordable Petite Sirah sourced from vineyards in Clarksburg and Lodi that confidently expresses all the hallmarks of the variety. It is a fresh and savory red, with aromas of mulberry, red plum, and pine … Continue reading

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PICK of the RACK: The Federalist | Zinfandel | Dry Creek Valley | Sonoma County | California | 2011 | $23 (Avg.) | 90 pts

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Here is an intriguing and unconventional Zinfandel from Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley that offers much complexity and individuality at a modest price. This is no jammy fruit bomb; it is driven, rather,  by savory earth, spice, and botanical  impressions — notably aromas of campfire, smoked meat, and incense … Continue reading

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PICK of the RACK: Honig | Cabernet Sauvignon | Napa Valley | California | 2012 | $35 (Avg.) | 91 pts

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Honig Vineyard & Winery, located in Rutherford, Napa Valley — family-owned and operated since 1964 — focuses its production on two varieties that flourish particularly well in the region:  Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is Honig’s most attainable Cabernet, sourced from select … Continue reading

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PICK of the RACK: Francis Ford Coppola Winery | Director’s Cut | Cinema | Sonoma County | California | 2009 | $30 (Avg.) | 90 pts

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Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley (not to be confused with Coppola’s Inglenook Estate — the crown jewel of California winemaking history located across the mountains in Napa Valley) produces a broad array of wines over a wide range of price points. If you … Continue reading

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PICK of the RACK: Cellers Baronia del Montsant | Englora | D.O. Montsant | Spain | 2008 | $18 | 90 pts

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A big brother of our previously featured 2009 Flor d’Englora Roure (red blend), here is another delightful red from northeastern Spain’s Montsant appellation (Denominación de Origen) – a mountainous region west of Barcelona where wine grapes are grown on steep, craggy slopes. Low-yielding old vine Grenache and Carignan are the dominant … Continue reading

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PICK for the HOLIDAYS: Rombauer Vineyards | Chardonnay | Carneros AVA | California | 2013 | $35 | 92 pts

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If you are in search of a white wine that will surely impress your guests over the holidays, try this opulent Chardonnay from Napa Valley’s Rombauer Vineyards. Rombauer sources the fruit for this wine from the Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA), where the southern edges … Continue reading

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PICK for the HOLIDAYS: Grace Patriot Wines | Lewis Grace | Cabernet Franc | El Dorado AVA | California | 2010 | $33 | 93 pts

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We have always been intrigued by Cabernet Franc, and over the years have tasted many well-crafted renditions from the varied regions where the grape flourishes and presents well either on its own or in a leading role in a blend … Continue reading

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PICK of NAPA VALLEY: Selections from pureCru | Vintage 2010

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Last February we introduced you to pureCru, with our review of their impressive 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (93 pts). Several years ago, veteran Napa Valley winemaker Mitch Cosentino founded pureCru with several partners with an ambition to produce small-lot wines with fruit … Continue reading

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PICK of SOUTHERN OREGON: Abacela | Garnacha | Umpqua Valley | Oregon | 2012 | $29 | 88 pts

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Oregon wine is not all about the expansive Willamette Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) and its six sub-appellations; nor is Oregon wine just about Pinot Noir. There are ten additional officially recognized winegrowing regions across the state where winemakers are producing a broad array of varieties and styles in … Continue reading

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