December 2017


Yes, the Wine of the Day, almost halfway into December, is a rosé, because even in the chill of winter a glass of rosé with lunch or before dinner can be refreshing and delightful. In fact, last night, I made an omelet with chorizo, green onion, bell pepper and radicchio and drank with it several glasses of the Chateau de Fontenille Bordeaux Rosé 2016, fashioned, not surprisingly, from some of the same grapes that the region’s red wines are made from, in this case, 70 percent cabernet franc, 20 percent merlot and 10 percent cabernet sauvignon. Grapes have been cultivated on this estate since 1524, but the present era began in 1989, when Stéphane Defraine purchased the 49-hectare property — about 120 acres. The estate produces two white and two red wines, a rosé, a clairet and a Crémant. The color here is a distinct coral hue; aromas of peaches and strawberries open to hints of melon and orange zest, with a top-note of orange blossom and almond skin. Whiplash acidity keeps this rosé on an even and energetic keel, while a shoal of limestone minerality and seashell salinty provide ballast and a bracing finish. All of these aspects are expressed with discreet spareness and elegance, with lovely heft and presence on the palate. 12 percent alcohol. One of the best rosé wines I tasted this year, and wait till you see the price. Excellent. About $12, representing Remarkable Value.

Imported by Craft + Estate/Winebow, New York. A sample for review.

Here’s the third in a row of a trio of Italian red wines that I offer as Wine of the Day. This is the Marchesi di Gresy Barbera d’Asti 2015, a model of the type for its restrained winemaking and its integrity toward the grape. In an area where estates have been seduced by the siren call of new French oak barrels — apparently believing that Americans prefer wines that exhibit the presence of toasty oak, coconut and vanilla — Marchesi di Gresy instead ages this wine a mere five months in wood, partially in second- and third-year barriques and partially in large Slavonian casks. The result is a Barbera d’Asti notable for its clean, fresh, pure character. The color is rich, warm ruby-magenta; scents and flavors of sour cherry and raspberry are infused with notes of cherry pit and stem and a hint of pomegranate; a few minutes in the glass bring out touches of violets and orange rind. This dry, spare wine is sleek and lithe, powered by squinching acidity that refreshes the palate with each sip; an element of wild blueberries also emerges, all qualities supported by moderately stated and subtly hewn tannins. 14 percent alcohol. A perfect wine for a selection of salumi or pizzas or hearty pasta dishes — pappardelle with rabbit or Bolognese comes to mind. Drink now through 2020 to ’22. Excellent. About $18, marking Good Value.

Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

What qualifies as a “Big Deal” wine? You could say price, and while that enters in it’s not the determining factor. You could say a “big” wine in terms of power and structure and alcohol content, and those elements could also be important. What really clinches the deal, though, on a Big Deal wine is the producer’s intention that a wine represent the best of the vineyards and the treatment in the winery, a wine that manifests every quality that to the winemaker stands for integrity, purity and intensity, a wine that, in other words, encapsulates the best that a vineyard and a vat of grapes can possibly deliver. Today’s post is the first in a series of perhaps three entries that examine Big Deal red wines from various countries and regions. This post offers 10 wines — mostly cabernet sauvignon-based but also two merlots; two of the wines are from Chile, are, in fact, among the best cabernets that country produces, and eight from California, all Napa Valley except one from Sonoma Valley. They’re not cheap, and they tend to be limited in production, but as flagship wines they chart the dimensions and depths of their regions’ top achievements.

These wines were samples for review.
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The Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Maipo Valley, Chile, comes from the Vina Quebrada de Macul estate, where winemaker is Jean-Pascal Lacaze. It’s a blend of 85 percent cabernet sauvignon, 6 percent each merlot and petit verdot, and 3 percent cabernet franc that aged a year in French oak, 20 percent new barrels. The color is intense black-ruby-garnet; black currants and cherries are permeated by notes of bell pepper and rosemary, cedar and tobacco, all with a blueberry and sage edge and a strain of penetrating graphite minerality. Dusty, flinty tannins seem precipitous, yet the wine feels quite engaging on the palate, bringing in touches of mint and eucalyptus and a whiff of iodine to the spicy black fruit and blue flavors — currants and cherries, blueberries and plums — all animated by bright acidity. 14.9 percent alcohol. Now through 2023 to ’25. Excellent. About $65.
Imported by Global Vineyard, Berkeley, Calif.
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With 8 percent cabernet franc with the rest cabernet sauvignon, the Don Melchor Puente Alto Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Puente Alto, Chile, aged 15 months in French oak, 72 percent new barrels. The color is intense black-ruby but shading to a transparent cherry rim; this is fairly closed presently, offering leafy-herbal notes of cedar, rosemary, thyme and black tea over fruitcake and tapenade; black currant and cherry flavors are concentrated and furled, and the wine is dry, mightily tannic and austere through the finish. 14.5 percent alcohol. Try from 2019 or ’20 through 2028 to ’32. Winemaker was Enrique Tirado. Very Good+ with Excellent potential. About $125.
Imported by Excelsior Wine Co., Old Brookville, N.Y.
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The Franciscan Magnificat Meritage 2014, Napa Valley, is a massive, inky-purple blend of 75 percent cabernet sauvignon, 17 percent merlot, 5 malbec, 2 petit verdot, 1 cabernet franc that aged 20 months in French oak, 70 percent new barrels. Intense and concentrated notes of black currant, blueberry and black raspberry are swathed in hints of bell pepper and green olive, cedar, tobacco and rosemary, with undertones of mocha and lavender. Bastions of dusty, rock-ribbed tannin and oak dictate some cellar time for this tightly coiled wine, say for trying from 2020 or ’22 through 2030 to ’32. 14.5 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Janet Myers. Very Good+ with Excellent potential. About $56.
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The character of the Gundlach Bundschu Vintage Reserve 2013, Sonoma Valley, seems to partake of the rocky, volcanic soil where the grapes were grown. A blend of 82 percent cabernet sauvignon with 12 percent cabernet franc and 6 percent petit verdot, the wine aged 20 months in French oak, 65 percent new barrels. The whole package feels immense on the palate. The color is black-purple shading to a cherry rim; deep, intense notes of cassis, black cherry and raspberry offer hints of pomegranate, fruitcake and mocha, plums, lavender and bittersweet chocolate. Crushing dusty tannins and piercing granitic minerality define a structure that admits touches of cedar and tobacco, dried thyme and rosemary, laved by creamy oak and energized by bright acidity, all leading to a sleek, chiseled finish. 14.8 percent alcohol. Try from 2019 or ’20 through 2030 to ’33. Winemaker was Keith Emerson. Excellent. About $125.
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The Hess Collection Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley, is a blend of 81 percent cabernet sauvignon, 16 percent malbec and 3 percent petit verdot; information on oak aging was not available. The color is the intense black-purple hue of motor oil; first, you detect notes of graphite, iodine and iron, then hints of concentrated black currants and cherries that unfold elements of smoke and grilled meat, briers and brambles; it’s a very dry wine, dense and chewy in the mouth but without being ponderous or truculent, rather, in fact, despite the size, it’s remarkably deft and light on its feet; around a winsome core of licorice, bittersweet chocolate and crushed violets, a haze of velvety tannins and charcoal-tinged wood wraps itself, tapering to a lithic finish inflected by granitic minerality.
14.6 percent alcohol. Try from 2019 or ’20 to 2028 or ’30. Excellent. About $65.
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La Jota Vineyard Co. Howell Mountain Merlot 2014, Napa Valley, contains 10 percent petit verdot, to the balance of merlot grapes; the wine aged 19 months in French oak, 76 percent new barrels. The vineyards on Howell Mountain lie at elevations from 1,700 to 1,820 feet. This is a wine of amazing purity and intensity, from its dark ruby-magenta hue to its piercing elements of graphite and flint minerality, to its penetrating scents and flavors of blueberry, pomegranate and black currant; in its vibrancy, resonance and appeal, this wine can only be described as “exciting,” though the dry, dusty tannins coat the palate; some time in the glass adds complex notes of fruitcake and espresso, truffles and loam and a touch of bittersweet chocolate; the finish fleshes out the wine with a complement of warm spices and cool minerals that reach fathoms deep. 14.3 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2021 to ’24. Winemaker was Chris Carpenter. Exceptional. About $85.
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Mi Sueño Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley — the name means “my dream” — is 100 percent cabernet sourced from the Coombsville and Oak Knoll AVAs, aged two years in French oak, 55 percent new barrels, and given another year in the bottle before release. The color is opaque inky-ebony shading to a glowing purple rim; notes of creamy cassis and ripe, fleshy black currants and raspberries open to touches of blueberry and boysenberry, leather and loam, lavender and licorice, with just a hint of well-integrated vanilla; boy, this one is ripe and plush and succulent, almost too gorgeous, really, but saved by bright acidity and a burgeoning sense of dusty, fairly rigorous elements that provide serious background and foundation; I’ll admit that what I admire most about this wine is the sense of vibrant tension between its frankly velvety allure and (from mid-palate back) its increasingly dry, rooty, underbrushy structure; that’s what makes me want to drink a wine. 14.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2021 to ’25. Rolando Herrera make 875 cases. Excellent. About $75, sold by allocation.
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The Mount Veeder Winery Reserve 2014, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, is a blend of 89 percent cabernet sauvignon, 7 percent malbec and 4 percent petit verdot that aged 20 months — that seems to be the magic number — in 100 percent new French oak barrels. The color is opaque black-purple; slightly fleshy and meaty aromas of black currants and plums are earthy and rooty, touched with notes of bittersweet chocolate, pomegranate and fruitcake and a piercing graphite element; a few moments in the glass add hints of bell pepper and black olives. Deep-set, dusty tannins and granitic minerality coat the palate, and though the wine slides on the animation by keen acidity, the whole package feels inchoate presently; try from 2020 or ’22 through 2030 to ’34. 14.5 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Janet Myers. Very Good+, with perhaps Excellent potential. About $100.
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If there’s one thing we know about Ravid Ramey, it’s that he’s a prestidigitator of oak, so while the Ramey Wine Cellars Template 2014, Napa Valley, received 18 months in all-new French oak barrels, and I’m thinking, “Boy, that’s a lot of new oak,” the wine emerged from that regimen with a texture both sinewy and supple and with depths of walnut shell and briery elements that add density and heft on the palate; there’s no whit of what are to me the distracting taints of new oak: toastiness, coconut, vanilla. The grapes derived from three Napa Valley AVAs: 70 percent Mount Veeder (merlot); 24 percent Oakville (cabernet franc); 6 percent Rutherford (cabernet sauvignon). The color is a dark but warm ruby hue that shades to a lighter purple rim; this is, no mistake, a serious, intense and concentrated majority-merlot wine, trimmed with hints of black currants, raspberries and blueberries permeated by notes of cedar and rosemary, lavender and sage, all leading to a dry, fairly austere tannic finish. For this one, you need a thick, medium-rare rib-eye steak, hot and crusty from the grill, or try from 2019 or ’20 through 2028 to ’30. Devotees of merlot (and Napa Valley) will be fascinated to watch the wine’s development. 14.5 percent alcohol. Production was 90 cases. Excellent. About $85.
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A true flagship wine of tremendous presence and significance, the Yount Ridge Cellars Epic Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley, aged 20 months in French oak, 70 percent new barrels. The color is intense dark ruby shading to a transparent rim; right upfront are elements of penetrating graphite minerality and burnished oak, but after a few minutes in the glass, those aspects become more integrated, making room for an astonishing array of sandalwood and bergamot, lavender and candied violets, with concentrated black currant and blueberry fruit taking on a slightly resinous character of cedar and tobacco, ancho chili and sage. It feels ecclesiastical on the palate, with its cool, dusty, polished old wood nature and its warm incense-like spices, but make no mistake, this wine’s deeply-rooted rock-ribbed tannins could support mountains. More time in the glass brings out notes of poached raspberries, underbrush and dried porcini; the weight on the palate is lithe, supple and momentous, all these qualities adding up to a finish of Olympian austerity and dimension. 14.7 percent alcohol. Try from 2020 or ’22 through 2034 to ’38. Winemaker was Cecilia Welch. Production was 250 cases. Exceptional. About $250.
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Need a red wine to drink with the short ribs or veal shanks you have braising atop the stove or in the oven? Truth is, there are hundreds if not thousands of candidates that could do the job. For today, however, I’ll nominate one particular wine made from a grape that deserves to be better known. Lagrein is grown in the Südtirol-Alto Adige region of northeastern Italy, where it is made into a bright, vibrant red wine whose intense berry fruit and moderate tannins render it ideal for drinking with hearty fare over, say, two to six years. The Alois Lageder Lagrein 2014, Südtirol-Alto Adige, from a 52-hectare estate — about 138 acres — operated on organic and biodynamic principles, sees no oak but aged 12 months in a combination of concrete vessels and stainless steel tanks; all the better for its freshness and immediate appeal. The color is opaque black-purple with a transparent magenta rim; both in nose and on palate, this wine features ripe, fleshy black currants and blueberries touched with notes of mint, graphite and truffles, displaying a robust, rustic and somewhat rooty nature; a few moments in the glass unfurl hints of loam, bittersweet chocolate and black tea. Vibrant acidity keeps you coming back for another sip, while a briery-brambly element adds grain to a lithe, supple texture. 12.5 percent alcohol. Nicely balanced and integrated for drinking through 2019 or 2020. I can smell those short ribs now, and I’m waiting for my invitation to dinner. Excellent. About $25.

Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

Poggio al Tufo is a project centered in Tuscany’s Maremma region, Grosseto district, launched by Tommasi, the well-known producer of Amarone in the Veneto. Tommasi purchased 163 acres there in 1997, planting or replanting vineyards that lie approximately 1,000 feet above sea level in volcanic rock called tufo, Poggio al Tufo meaning, approximately, “the hillside of tufo soil.” Our Wine of the Day is the Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo 2014, Toscana, a blend of 60 percent sangiovese and 40 percent cabernet sauvignon that aged one year in traditional Slavonian oak barrels of 65-hectoliter size; that’s a hair more than 1,717 gallons, so, yes, big barrels. The color is dark ruby that shades to a bright magenta rim; aromas of macerated and slightly stewed black and red currants and plums are permeated by notes of orange rind, oolong tea and graphite; a few moments in the glass unfurl hints of lavender, violets and bittersweet chocolate. It’s a dry wine that’s impressive for its heft and presence on the palate, though never obvious or ponderous; sleek, chiseled tannins and coursing acidity make for a lithe, supple texture that forms the perfect backdrop for well-spiced black currant and blackberry flavors, all these elements concluding in a long, concentrated bracing finish. 13 percent alcohol. Drink through 2021 to ’24, and bring on the medium-rare ribeye steak, hot and crusty from the grill, or the braised short ribs or the rack of venison. Excellent. About $18, representing Great Value.

Imported by Vintus LLC, Pleasantville, N.Y. A sample for review.

Technically, these three pinot noir wines (and one riesling) from Penner-Ash Wine Cellar’s 2015 vintage are not products of Jackson Family Wines, because that ever-expanding entity didn’t purchase Penner-Ash until April 2016. Lynn and Ron Penner-Ash founded the winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 1998, launched with 125 cases, developing over the years to about 12,000 cases annually. The winery specializes in single-vineyard pinot noirs, made by Lynn Penner-Ash, of which I look at three today. She’s a meticulous winemaker, as you can see by the carefully calibrated oak regimens these wines are given, none exactly alike, and she will remain on board in that position under JFW’s regime. These are impressive wines, fine in detail, deep in dimension, and they will benefit from several years aging.

These wines were samples for review.
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The Penner-Ash Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Yamhill-Carlton District, aged 10 months in French oak, 31 percent new barrels, 33 percent one-year-old, 23 percent two-years-old, 13 percent neutral. The color is dark ruby shading to a transparent magenta rim; it’s a pinot noir of blazing purity and intensity, featuring spiced and macerated black cherries, currants and plums permeated by cloves and ground cumin, hints of sandalwood and sassafras and a touch of pomegranate; the super-satiny texture drapes the tongue in a dense, almost chewy enfolding, though kept dynamic through elemental bright acidity; the wine becomes increasingly loamy and foresty through the intense and concentrated finish. 13.7 percent alcohol. One of the best pinot noirs I tasted this year. Drink through 2022 to ’25. Production was 915 cases. Exceptional. About $65.
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The color of the Penner-Ash Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Yamhill-Carlton District, is very dark ruby shading to a transparent rim; it’s a wine formidable in size and dimension, starting with its potent elements of loam and graphite minerality, its heady and intense aromas of lilacs and rose petals, its deeply spicy scents and flavors of black and red cherry and currant compote; dense, chewy and succulent, it’s a powerful and muscular expression of the grape, its texture equal parts talc and flint, its electric acid strain seemingly chiseled from granite. 14.1 percent alcohol. The oak regimen was 10 months in French barrels, 27 percent new, 35 percent one-year-old, 27 percent two-years-old, 11 percent neutral. Try from 2019 or ’20 through 2025 to ’28. Production was 1,000 cases. Excellent. About $65.
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The Penner-Ash Zena Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Eola-Amity Hills, reveals a large-framed, intense and concentrated wine animated by penetrating graphite minerality and vibrant acidity while unfolding lovely details of spiced and macerated black and red cherries and currants infused with pomegranate and cranberry, sandalwood and sassafras; as with its stablemates mentioned above, texture and structure are fused by the power of its slightly dusty, velvety tannins — it’s the most tannic of this trio — leading to a sleek finish packed with cedar and tobacco, flint and juicy black fruit. 14.5 percent alcohol. Wood regimen was 10 months in oak, 30 percent new barrels, 46 percent one-year-old, 12 percent two-years-old, 12 percent neutral. Try from 2019 or ’20 through 2028 to ’30. Production was 500 cases. Excellent. About $65.
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By the way, don’t miss the Penner-Ash Hyland Vineyard Old Vine Riesling 2015, McMinnville, a true classic of a pale, dry riesling that makes a powerful expression of petrol, heather, peaches, lime peel and intense aromas of jasmine and gardenia, its lithe texture wrapped in vibrant and vigorous acidity and a scintillating limestone element. Excellent. About $35.
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To be kosher, a wine does not have to go through any intricate process or ritual. Its production must simply be overseen by Sabbath-observant Jews from the time of crushing the grapes through bottling, and every ingredient, such as fining agents, must be kosher. For example, non-kosher isinglass, derived from fish bladders, was historically important in clarifying beer and wine, and rabbinical arguments addressed the issues of whether the amount of isinglass was so small that it didn’t matter and anyway it was filtered out or that the law was the law. Nor would vegans be amused. Anyway, our definitely kosher Wine of the Day is the Psâgot Edom 2013, Jerusalem Mountain Vineyards, a blend of 63 percent merlot, 16 percent cabernet sauvignon 11 petit verdot and 10 cabernet franc, aged 14 months in French oak barrels. The color is intense dark ruby-magenta; aromas of black cherries and currants are permeated by notes of cedar and tobacco, tapenade and a touch of bell pepper, while a few moments in the glass bring in hints of lavender and violets, new leather and bittersweet chocolate. The texture is pure velvety, dusty tannins made slightly rustic by elements of briers, brambles and underbrush and energized by bright acidity; flavors of black currants and plums reveal a bit of blackberry, along with a strain of iodine-tinged graphite minerality. 14.5 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Yaacov Oryan. Drink now through 2020 to ’23. Excellent. About $35.

Imported by Royal Wine Corp., New York. A sample for review. A Mevushal variation of the wine is also available.

In The Bordeaux Atlas and Encyclopedia of Chateaux (St. Martin’s Press, 1997), Hubrecht Duijker and Michael Broadbent write that Chateau Peybonhomme-les-Tours “can be recognized from afar by its two towers” — les tours — “a round crenellated keep and a detached square tower with embrasures, dating from Huguenot times.” The Huguenot era in France would be the mid- to late- 17th Century. In the old postcard image reproduced here, one of those towers is visible, with beyond it a classic mid-18th Century chartreuse structure that features a large, two-story central hall with a wing on each side containing rooms that open into each other. Beyond that is a 19th Century addition and, farthest from the viewer, the estate’s chapel. The 58-hectare property (153 acres) stands on the right bank of the Gironde river in the Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux appellation. Chateau Peybonhomme-les-Tours — certified organic and biodynamic — is owned by Catherine and Jean-Luc Hubert; she is the fifth generation of her family to farm the vineyards, with the help of her husband and their son Guillaume. The family also owns Chateau La Grolet in nearby Côtes de Bourg. Red wine is made at Peybonhomme-les-Tours, but my intention today is to introduce My Readers to the estate’s white wine, in this case the Chateau Peybonhomme-les-Tours “Le Blanc Bonhomme” 2016, a half-and-half blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon grapes. We were thoroughly charmed by this delightful and thoughtfully-made wine. The color is very pale straw-gold; aromas of green apple and pear, tangerine and damp slate, lilac and camellia are immediately attractive, while a few minutes in the glass add notes of quince and ginger, heather and celery leaf. It’s a white wine of crystalline purity and intensity, taut with bright acidity yet offering a lithe, slightly talc-like texture; subtle stone-fruit flavors are sustained by a scintillating limestone component and a wafting of an almost subliminal grassy-herbal element; the finish seems to partake of the salt-bearing sea-breeze blowing down the river from the Atlantic. Lovely balance and integration. Drink now through 2019 or ’20. Excellent. About $22, signifying Remarkable Value. A great choice for buying by the case as your house white wine or for restaurant by-the-glass programs.

Imported by Fruit of the Vines, New York. A sample for review.
Postcard image from candidwines.com.

One of Jess Jackson’s purchases, occurring in 1986, was about 700 acres of the Tepusquet vineyard in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Maria Valley. The estate was the site of a Mexican land grant in 1838. Vines were planted here in 1970 and ’71 by the Lucas brothers, who sold to Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke after financial reverses. In 1989, Jackson built a large winery at Tepusquet and named it Cambria. The vineyard, as in most of the rest of Santa Maria Valley, was planted primarily to chardonnay and pinot noir. The wines were issued as “Katherine’s Vineyard” for chardonnay and “Julia’s Vineyard” for pinot noir, though the roster has expanded tremendously in the past few years. The website for the winery — the estate is run by Barbara Banke, Jess Jackson’s widow, and daughters Katie and Julia Jackson — lists five chardonnays and 11 pinot noirs for 2014 and ’15, as well as pinot gris, viognier, syrah and a rosé.

Today, we look at two pairs of wines, chardonnays and pinot noirs from designated areas of the Cambria estate. Winemaker for these wines was Denise Shurtleff. She remains as Cambria’s general manager, as Jill Delariva Russell takes the reins as winemaker. As you will see in the notes below, I was impressed by the pinot noirs and absolutely put off by the chardonnays. Why even go to the trouble to make limited edition wines when they turn out, like these chardonnays, to be not only similar in character but packed with qualities that strenuously detract from the nature of the grape?

These wines were samples for review.
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O.K., let’s get the chardonnays out of the way, because, frankly, I cared for them not one whit. The Cambria Fog Tide Chardonnay 2015 and Cambria West Point Chardonnay 2015, both Santa Maria Valley AVA, represented every aspect that I believe is wrong-headed about chardonnay in California. Though the oak regimen was mild and new oak was kept to a minimum, I found these wines unreasonably tropical and cloying with sweet ripeness and elements of buttery caramel and toffee, all smoky and toasty and unbalanced. Each costs $38 but I don’t recommend them.
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We’re on steadier ground with the pinot noirs, fashioned in a big-hearted, full-throated style that touches on many aspects of the grape. The Cambria “Element” Pinot Noir 2015, Santa Maria Valley, aged 11 months in French oak, 39 percent new barrels. The color is dark ruby shading to a transparent magenta rim; it starts with notes of iodine and iron, spiced and macerated black cherries and raspberries, with hints of cranberry, pomegranate and sassafras; it emphasizes the dark, earthy and loamy character of the grape, though also its potential for a satiny, supple texture and succulent fruit; this is very dry, quite lively and spicy, and a few moments in the glass bring in touches of raspberry with slightly raspy and astringent raspberry skin and stem. 13.6 percent alcohol. Very pleasing in depth and complexity, for drinking through 2021 or ’22. Excellent. About $45.
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The Cambria “Mesa Terrace” Pinot Noir 2015, Santa Maria Valley, aged in a different direction, 10 months in French oak but with 62 percent new barrels. The color is a similar dark ruby shading to an invisible rim, but the focus here is on red fruit — cherries and currants — and a fuller exploitation of spice in the form of sandalwood, cloves and sassafras, with a smoky-beetroot background; it’s a dense and chewy pinot noir, not just satiny and succulent but close to opulent on the palate, though balanced by keen acidity and a scintillating flinty quality; the finish adds loam and forest floor. 14.2 percent alcohol. Again, a pinot noir that’s impressive for its detail and dimension. Now through 2021 to ’23. Excellent. About $45.
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