Dolcetto


The title of this post needs no elaboration, but I’ll inform you that prices range from $7.50 to $20. It’s a diverse group of wines. Seven from France; 6 California; 5 Italy; 2 each Argentina, Australia, Chile and Oregon; 1 each Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal and South Africa. (Welcome, Bulgaria!) By genre or hue: 1 sparkling wine; 3 rosé; 10 red and 16 white. As a matter of fact, the 30 wines on this roster would make a great restaurant wine list. So, enjoy! In moderation, of course.

With one exception, these wines were samples for review.
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Albert Bichot Bourgogne Aligoté 2015, Burgundy, France. Excellent. About $16.
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Amalaya Malbec 2016, Salta, Mendoza, Argentina. With 10 percent tannat, 5 petit verdot. Excellent. About $16.
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Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato White Blend 2016, Mendoza, Argentina. 50 percent chardonnay, 35 pinot gris, 15 sauvignon blanc. Excellent. About $18.
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Domaine Boyar Traminer 2016, Thracian Valley, Bulgaria. Very Good+. About $11.
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Calcu Reserva Especial Rosé 2017, Colchagua Valley, Chile. 90 percent malbec, 10 percent petit verdot. Excellent. About $13.
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Canevel Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene de Cartizze, nv, Veneto, Italy. Excellent. About $18.

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CK Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc 2017, California. Very Good+. About $7.
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Fossil Point Pinot Noir 2016, Edna Valley, California. Excellent. About $20.

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Garofoli Macrina 2017, Le Marche, Italy. 100 percent verdicchio. Excellent. About $14.
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Grochau Cellars Melon d’Bourgogne 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 175 cases. Excellent. About $18.
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Heinz Eifel Riesling Kabinett 2017, Mosel, Germany. Very Good+. About $12.

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Inama Vin Soave 2017, Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy. Excellent. About $15.
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Jim Barry “The Cover Drive” Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Coonawarra, Australia. Excellent. About $20.

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Justin Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Central Coast, California. Excellent. About $16.
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Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015, Bordeaux blanc, France. 60 percent sauvignon blanc, 40 percent semillon. Excellent. About $14.
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Domaine Lafond Roc-Épine 2017, Tavel, France. Excellent. About $19.
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The Larsen Projekt Grenache Rosé 2016, North Coast, California. Excellent. About $18.

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Left Coast Cellars “The Orchard” Pinot Gris 2016, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Excellent. About $18.
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Marchesi di Gresy Monte Aribaldo 2016, Dolcetto d’Alba, Italy. Excellent. About $18.

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Monte da Pecequina 2015, Alentejo, Portugal. 25 percent touriga nacional, 23 percent syrah, 22 aragonez, 20 alicante bouschet, 10 cabernet sauvignon. Excellent. About $19.
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Paul Blanck Pinot Blanc 2016, Alsace, France. Excellent. About $16.
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Paul Jaboulet Aîné Le Paradou 2015, Beaume-de-Venise, France. 75 percent grenache, 25 percent syrah. Excellent. About $16.
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Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling 2016, Eden Valley, Australia. Excellent. About $18.
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Poliziano Lohsa 2015, Morellino di Scansano, Italy. 85 percent sangiovese, 15 percent ciliegiolo. Excellent. About $15.
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Romain Chamiot Apremont 2016, Vin de Savoie, France. 100 percent jacquere grapes. Excellent. About $18.
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Simonsig Chenin Blanc 2017, Stellenbosch, South Africa. Excellent. About $14.

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Steele Wines Pacini Vineyard Zinfandel 2015, Mendocino, California. Excellent. About $20.
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Veramonte Carmenere 2017, Colchagua Valley, Chile. Very Good+. About $11.
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Yves Guegniard Domaine de la Bergerie La Cerisaie 2016, Anjou, France. 80 percent cabernet franc, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon. Excellent. About $18.
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Zocker “Paragon Vineyard” Grüner Veltliner 2016, Edna Valley, California. Excellent. About $20.
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The “50 Great Wines of 2018” represent regions of France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Argentina and various AVAs in California, Oregon, Washington and New York, and, of course, a wide range of grape varieties and styles of wine. Prices range from a fabulously low $15 to a pretty high $140, with plenty bottles falling into the sweet spot between about $20 and $30; a great wine does not have to be expensive. These are wines that I not only admired but loved during my reviewing last year. The roster could have been expanded by 10 or 12 wines, but I like to stick to 50 — as I have for many years — because that number forces me to be analytical as well as emotional and totally subjective. For the first time in preparing this annual list, I include snippets of the original reviews to lend My Readers some clues as to why I doted on particular wines. No technical information is included. With one exception, these wines were samples for review.

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Barton Family Wines “Holiday” Clairette Blanche 2017, Willow Creek District, Paso Robles, California. 94 cases. Excellent. About $32.
“very dry, spare, elegant, yet vibrant with bright acidity …”
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Berryessa Gap Rosé 2017, Yolo County, California. Equal parts grenache, barbera and zinfandel. 225 cases. Exceptional. About $15.
“not just a great rosé but a great wine.”
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Black Kite Cellars “Stony Terrace” Pinot Noir 2014, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County. Exceptional. About $60.
“incredibly appealing and satisfying on the sensual level but gradually reveals depths of graphite, loam and forest floor …”
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Bonny Doon Vineyards Reserve Vin Gris de Cigare 2016, Central Coast, California. 50 percent grenache, 15 percent grenache blanc, 12 percent each cinsault and mourvedre, 8 carignane, 3 roussanne. 826 cases. Excellent. About $35.
“a savory, silken rosé, fresh as sun and rain …”
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Booker Pink 2017, Paso Robles, California. 92 percent grenache, 8 percent syrah. 250 cases. Excellent. About $30.
“unusual presence and resonance for a rosé. Don’t miss this one if you can get it.”
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Brovia Ciabot del Re Dolcetto d’Alba 2015, Piedmont, Italy. Excellent. About $40.
“I can’t think of a Dolcetto I have tried that was better than this one.”
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Burgess Cellars Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley, California. 75 percent cabernet sauvignon, 12 percent merlot, 11 petit verdot, 2 malbec. Excellent. About $60.
“Classic Napa Valley.”
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Champagne Bruno Paillard Grand Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, nv, France. 100 percent chardonnay. Excellent. About $70.
“… as steely and elegant, as refined and balletic as Champagne gets.”
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Domaine Carneros Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs 2012, Carneros, California. 100 percent chardonnay. Exceptional. About $115.
“A sparkling wine of impeccable class and sophistication.”
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Catena “La Consulta” Malbec 2015, Mendoza, Argentina. Exceptional. About $20.
“A superb example of the grape.”
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Churchill’s 30 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro, Portugal. Excellent. About $80.
“A lovely evocation of earth and elegance and a joy to drink.”
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Dashe Cellars Les Enfants Terribles Heart Arrow Ranch Zinfandel 2016, Eagle Peak, Mendocino, California. 491 cases. Excellent. About $28.
“… bright and fresh, with seductive, spice-infused black raspberry and cherry scents and flavors, but a glittering edge of graphite, too…”
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Day Wines Johan Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 450 cases. Exceptional. About $42.
“Amazing tone, shape and presence.”
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DeForville San Rocco Nebbiolo d’Alba 2014, Piedmont, Italy. Excellent. About $25.
“… fairly seethes with spare black fruit flavors that lead to a chiseled, faceted finish.”
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Donelan Family Wines “Nancie” Chardonnay 2014, Sonoma County, California. Exceptional. About $48.
“Rich? Oh, yes. Overdone, immodestly ripe and assertive? Certainly not. The balance, in fact, is risky and thrilling.”
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Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2012, Douro, Portugal. Excellent. About $24.
“A powerful expression of the LBV style.”
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Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California. 317 cases. Exceptional. About $72.
“Altogether, a remarkable marriage of power and elegance.”
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Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc 2015, St. Helena, Napa Valley, California. Excellent. About $65.
“A terrific Napa Valley interpretation of the grape.”
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Ehrhart Domaine Saint-Remy Hengst Grand Cru Riesling 2013, Alsace, France. Excellent. About $30.
“…sleek and suave, tremendous tone and presence but more spare and elegant than opulent.”
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The Farm Winery “Touchy-Feely” 2013, Adelaida District, Paso Robles. 80 percent grenache, 20 percent syrah. 241 cases. Excellent. About $60.
“… elegant and authoritative together, a silken texture emboldened by slightly sanded tannins and stirring acidity, all wrapped in a generous, chiseled, fine-spun granitic structure.”
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Chateau Faugeres 2012, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe, Bordeaux, France. 85 percent merlot, 10 percent cabernet franc, 5 cabernet sauvignon. Excellent. About $45.
“Beautifully made, and perfect for a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding.”
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Fields Family Wines Delu Vineyard Vermentino 2016, Alta Mesa, Lodi County, California. Fewer than 70 cases. Exceptional. About $21.
“A truly exquisite wine … scintillates with crystalline purity and intensity.”
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Forge Cellars “Les Allies” Dry Riesling 2015, Finger Lakes, New York. 262 cases. Excellent. About $28.
“… a potent riesling notable for clarity, crispness and depth.”
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Gamble Family Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Yountville, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $25.
“Always one of the best.”
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Grgich Hills Fume Blanc 2016, Napa Valley, California. 100 percent sauvignon blanc. Exceptional. About $31.
“… chiseled, faceted and crystalline with varietal purity and intensity and a feeling of connection to its vineyard, the sun and the wind.”
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Groth Vineyards and Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Oakville District, Napa Valley. 80 percent cabernet sauvignon, 20 percent merlot. Excellent. About $65.
“… a beautifully balanced and precise cabernet sauvignon that displays admirable equilibrium.”
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Halter Ranch Vineyard Grenache Blanc 2015, Adelaida District, Paso Robles, California. 80 percent grenache blanc, 14 percent picpoul, 4 roussanne, 2 viognier. Excellent. About $28.
“Well, this is just beautiful.”
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Highlands Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, California. 350 cases. Excellent. About $75.
“… remarkably fresh, exact, dynamic and compelling.”
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Schloss Johannisberger “Gelblack” Riesling Feinherb 2014, Rheingau, Germany. Excellent. About $25.
“… a lovely, golden, savory riesling, fresh and appealing…”
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Jordan Vineyard and Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Alexander Valley, California. 79 percent cabernet sauvignon, 13.7 percent merlot, 5.8 percent petit verdot, 1.2 percent malbec and 0.3 percent cabernet franc. Exceptional. About $56.
“… an intriguing marriage of power and elegance, finishing with faceted and chiseled granitic minerality.”
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Jordan Vineyard Chardonnay 2016, Russian River Valley, California. Exceptional. About $33.
“… a chardonnay of shimmering purity and intensity that satisfies on every level.”
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Kreck Wines Del Barba Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel 2016, Contra Costa County, California. 45 cases. Excellent. About $42.
“… a surprising elegant and lithe structure that it feels as if it emits a special lightness of being.”
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Lafond Winery and Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016, Sta. Rita Hills, California. Exceptional. About $27.
“… a dense and chewy pinot noir that delivers considerable presence and power on the palate and an uplift of bright acidity.”
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Champagne Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle Grand Cuvée, nv, France. 55 percent chardonnay, 45 percent pinot noir, seven years on the lees in bottle. Exceptional. About $140.
“… amazing presence on the palate, lovely, impressive, regal. ‘Grand,’ indeed.”
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Maryhill Proprietor’s Reserve Albariño 2017, Columbia Valley, Washington. 719 cases. Exceptional. About $20.
“… the finest albariño wine I have tasted… An extraordinary performance.”
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Pfendler Pinot Noir 2015, Sonoma Coast, California. 400 cases. Exceptional. About $45.
“… lovely, almost sensual weight and heft on the palate with an elegant and refined feeling of weightlessness.”
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Onward Wines Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, California. 139 cases. Exceptional. About $58.
“… combines the qualities of being elegant and ethereal with incisiveness and a definitely rigorous structure… Remarkable tone and presence.”
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Domaine Ostertag Muenchberg Riesling 2014, Alsace Grand Cru. Exceptional. About $42.
“… a golden wine that feels like liquid money on the tongue… A marvel of resonant personality and varietal character.”
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Ravenswood Old Hill Vineyard Zinfandel 2015, Sonoma Valley, California. 96.8 percent zinfandel, 3.2 percent mixed black grapes. 900 cases. About $60.
“… plenty of depth and dimension and a hint of an untamed quality, but the emphasis is on exquisitely poised proportion.”
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Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir 2013, Sonoma Coast, California. Exceptional About $25.
“My reaction … was, short of weeping, just to fall in love.”
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Roar Wines Rosella’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County, California. 449 cases. Excellent. About $60.
“… lovely purity and intensity, gaining dimension in the glass even as it offers ethereal elements of talc, violets and rose petals…”
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Sanford Pinot Noir 2014, Sta. Rita Hills, California. Exceptional. About $35.
“… feels as impeccable as anyone could ask for.”
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Domaine Savary Premier Cru Vaillon 2017, Chablis, France. Excellent. About $35.
“For all that focus on structure, however, the wine projects innate delicacy and elegance.”
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Scheid Vineyards Gruner Veltliner 2016, Monterey County. 133 cases, Excellent. About $24.
“A fabulously attractive texture feels almost powdery on the palate, yet it remains light, lissome and elegant.”
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Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery Chardonnay 2014, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California. 850 cases. Exceptional. About $34.
“… amazing purity and intensity … crystalline tone and chiseled presence.”
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Tres Sabores Rutherford Zinfandel 2014, Napa Valley. California. 500 cases. Exceptional. About $35.
“… a remarkable, incisive, decisive wine of impeccable presence, integrity and allure.”
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Troon Vineyard Kubli Bench Blanc 2017, Applegate Valley, Oregon. 52 percent marsanne, 48 percent viognier. Excellent. About $25.
“An extraordinary wine, sleek with personality and character.”
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Wrath Wines Alta Loma Vineyard Grenache 2015, Monterey County. 82 cases. Exceptional. About $39.
“… you feel as if you’re drinking the vineyard.”
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Wrath Wines Tondre Grapefield Pinot Noir 2015, Santa Lucia Highlands, California. 249 cases. Exceptional. About $49.
“… delivers gratifying depth and breadth in a package that feels wholly complete.”
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Yount Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $38.
“Just lovely.”
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Recently, with a homemade pizza, I opened a bottle of the Marchesi di Gresy Monte Aribaldo 2016, Dolcetto d’Alba, a wine that sees no oak and is all the better for it. The hill of Monte Aribaldo stands about 1,214 feet above sea level in the commune of Treiso in Peidmont’s Dolcetto d’Alba zone. This is not the only Dolcetto area; others include Dolcetto di Diano and Dolcetto di Dogliana. All are made 100 percent from dolcetto grapes and are best within three or four years of harvest. The Marchesi di Gresy Monte Aribaldo 2016 offers a dark ruby hue with a lighter magenta rim; aromas of spiced and macerated black cherries, currants and plums are permeated by notes of violets and lavender, oolong tea and heather; this is dry and spare on the palate, lithe and slightly sinewy, bolstered by finely sifted tannins and forest floor elements of brambles and brush; there’s a hint of sage in a finish dominated by cherry pit and almond skin, all these qualities at the service of delicious black and blue fruit flavors. 13.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2020, perhaps ’21. Excellent. About $18, representing Good Value.

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


How do the adjectives “lovely” and “drinkable” sound to you? If your reaction is positive, head straight to the Luca Bosio Dolcetto d’Alba 2015, a delectable red wine from Piedmont. Offering a dark ruby hue that shades to a transparent magenta rim, this fresh and appealing wine delivers a pure expression of the dolcetto grape in the form of black cherries, currants and plums given structure by notes of dusty graphite and sleek, silky tannins. Zinging acidity keeps it lively and engaging, while the finish opens to touches of leather, underbrush and dried thyme. A few moments in the glass bring in hints of violets and lavender. 13 percent alcohol. A perfect accompaniment to pasta dishes and pizzas, chicken Marengo, pork tenderloin or a simple herb and cheese risotto or frittata. Very Good+. About $15, representing Good Value.

Imported by Quintessential Wines, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

Sometimes a wine makes such an immediate impression — I mean a good impression — that I can’t wait for My Readers to know about it. Such a one is the Brovia Ciaböt del Re Dolcetto d’Alba 2015, tasted recently at a wholesaler’s trade event. This was a wine that I took extra time with, coaxing a few more sips from the person pouring the wine and finding a place to sit for a few moments to contemplate what was in my glass. The Brovia Ciaböt del Re Dolcetto d’Alba 2015 was made from dolcetto vines planted in 1960 and 1981; the grapes fermented in and the wine aged in a combination of stainless steel tanks and French oak barriques. The color is medium ruby-purple, nothing super dark or extracted; notes of red and black cherries and raspberries, pipe tobacco, violets and a touch of loam characterize a bouquet that gradually unfurls hints of black licorice, rose petals and graphite. The wine displays superb balance, tone and presence on the palate, and what I think impressed me so much was the utter authority and confidence with which it spoke of a grape variety and geographical specificity, that is, a vineyard of about one hectare extent — about two and a half acres — some 1000 feet up in Serralunga d’Alba. The graphite element segues into dusty tannins and granitic minerality that bolster the wine’s structure, though not at the expense of a lovely and alluring texture dynamically poised between felt-like softness and more rigorous foresty qualities. 14.5 percent alcohol. I can’t think of a Dolcetto I have tried that was better than this one. Now through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $40.

Imported by Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York.

What you will not find in today’s roster of 14 red wines is a mention of cabernet sauvignon, merlot or pinot noir. There is life, as you well know, beyond that dominate triumvirate. Even the 14 grape varieties featured here don’t begin to explore the manifold possibilities that exist in the world of red grapes. This, however, is a reasonable start. We’re fairly eclectic and ecumenical for this version of Weekend Wine Notes, touching various regions of California, the states of Oregon and Washington, Piedmont and Alto Adige in Italy and the upper reaches of Argentina’s Mendoza, in the Salta area. As usual in the Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the typical technical, historical and geographical data of which I am so fond for the sake of incisive reviews, ripped from the pages of my notebooks and designed to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy … in moderation, please.
These wines were samples for review.
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Giornata Wines French Camp Vineyard Aglianico 2015, Paso Robles. 13.8% alc. 100% aglianico. 100 cases. Dark ruby-magenta shading to a transparent rim; boldly aromatic: ripe and slightly roasted black currants and plums, smoke, loam and espresso; a few minutes in the glass bring in notes of black tea, tar and rosemary; lithe and supple as a black panther, with unleashed acidity, all bolstered by deep and velvety tannins. An attractive and well-built red wine. Now through 2021 to ’23. Excellent. About $30.
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Shooting Star Blue Franc 2014, Washington State. 13.5% alc. 100% blaufrankisch, also known as lemberger. A label from Steele Wines. Dark to medium ruby color; blueberries and cherries, then drenched with raspberry; touches of raspberry leaf and sour cherry; quite dry but juicy with blue fruit flavors, slightly resinous with a balsamic note; a nice combination of brooding and liveliness; moderate tannins for structure. One of my favorite inexpensive reds. Very Good+. About $14, marking Great Value.
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Steele Wines Cabernet Franc 2015, Lake County. 13.8% alc. Dark purple-magenta color; cherries and raspberries with a touch of blueberry; mint and mocha, high notes of violet; furry tannins and dusty graphite, but more robust than rustic; a bit woodsy but clean and bright, all elements strung along vivid acidity; some oak on the finish lends depth and seriousness. A very attractive mouthful of wine, now through 2020 or ’21. Excellent. About $19.
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Scheid Vineyards Riverview Vineyard Dolcetto 2016, Monterey County. 14.5% alc. 100 cases. Dark ruby hue with a vivid magenta rim; a muscular, loamy interpretation of the grape; deep and generous scents and flavors of red and black cherries with a core of lavender, graphite and toast; very dry, enlivened by vibrant acidity, bolstered by lithe, dusty tannins, all concluding in a spice-and-mineral-packed finish. Now through 2022 to ’24. Very Good+. About $34.
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The Farm Winery Touchy-Feely 2013, Adelaida District, Paso Robles. 14.9% alc. 80% grenache, 20% syrah. 241 cases. Very dark ruby fading to a delicate, invisible rim; cherries and raspberries in the nose, notes of lavender and leather, graphite and loam and a plangent hint of floral tea; elegant and authoritative together, a silken texture emboldened by slightly sanded tannins and stirring acidity, all wrapped in a generous, chiseled, fine-spun granitic structure. A real pleasure to drink. Now through 2020 to ’23. Excellent. About $60.
Image from lucas.store.com.
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Amalaya Malbec 2016, Salta, Mendoza, Argentina. 13.9% alc. With 10% tannat, 5% petit verdot. Blue-black opaque with a faint blue-purple rim; spiced, marinated and slightly baked plums, currants and cherries, notes of black olives and rosemary, wood-smoke, cloves and sandalwood; this is rich, intense and juicy, with real grip and traction and an incisive mineral edge honed with iodine and graphite. Very impressive for the price. Excellent. About $16, representing Fine Value.
Imported by The Hess Collection, Napa, Calif.
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Troon Vineyards Kubli Bench Montepulciano 2016, Applegate Valley, Oregon. 11.5% alc. 146 cases. Deep purple with a transparent violet rim; a dark, feral, ferrous and sanguinary rendition of the grape, bursting with notes of spiced and macerated red currants and mulberries with high tones of lilac and lavender and a throb of graphite; tremendously lively and vivid with brisk acidity that arrows through moderately mineral-laced tannins; finish is slightly bitter, as with cherry stems, pits and skins. Quite a performance. Excellent. About $25.
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Bel Colle Barbaresco 2012, Piedmont, Italy. 14.5% alc. 100% nebbiolo. Medium ruby-garnet hue; a deep, gritty, slightly rustic version of Barbaresco, offering notes of red cherries and currants, cloves and allspice, smoke and black tea, loam and violets; acid cuts a swath on the palate; moderate but robust tannins are dusty and silky, while a lovely overtone of black and red fruit compote lingers. Drink through 2020 to ’22. Excellent. About $50.
Imported by Quintessential Wines, Napa, Calif.
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Scheid Vineyards Hames Valley Vineyard Petite Sirah 2015, Monterey County. 14.9% alc. Opaque inky-purple color; a deep, dense brooding wine; blue plums, black cherries and currants wreathed with iodine, graphite, espresso and bacon fat; very dry, boundless acidity and granitic tannins; black and blue fruit flavors very dark, spiced and macerated; a sleek chiseled finish that brings in boysenberry, black tea and a touch of vanilla. Now through 2021 to ’24. Excellent. About $36.
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Troon Vineyards Kulbi Bench Sangiovese 2016, Applegate Valley, Oregon. 12.5% alc. Light, transparent ruby-garnet shading lighter; red cherries and currants, cloves and sandalwood, lavender and dusty graphite; slightly rustic tannins support layers of autumn leaves, loam and tobacco; some rooty black tea and a buzz of mint and iodine round out the finish. An intriguing interpretation of the grape. Excellent. About $25.
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J. Hofstatter Kolbenhofer Schiava 2016, Alto Adige-Sudtirol, Italy. 12.5% alc. Totally transparent ruby-brick red; sweet-tart red cherries and raspberries with a bit of raspberry leaf rasp and slightly bitter currants and cherry pit; notes of thyme and rosemary, with some of the latter’s slightly woody resinous quality; vivid acidity plows a furrow on the palate; a perfect wine for cutting through the fat of braised red meats. Very Good+. About $20.
Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York. The label image is one vintage behind.
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Morgan Winery G17 Syrah 2015, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey. 14.4% alc. With 9% grenache, 4% tempranillo. Opaque black-ruby color; intense and concentrated yet highly perfumed with notes of black currants, plums and wild raspberries, violets and lavender, leather and loam; a sleek, lithe and supple syrah that offers real grip and traction on the palate and depths of foresty elements that partake of robust tannins; a chiseled, faceted mineral-driven finish. A stylish and very drinkable syrah, through 2020 or ’22. Excellent. About $22.
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Fields Family Wines Lot 13 Vineyard Tempranillo 2014, Mokelumne River, Lodi. 14.5% alc. 100 cases. Dark ruby-magenta hue; ripe, spicy mulberries and raspberries, notes of coffee and violets, mountain herbs and wildflowers; quite dry, briers, brambles and raspberry leaf, hints of tar and graphite; lively acidity and a solid tannic framework that doesn’t obscure delicious black fruit flavors. Now through 2020 to ’22. Excellent. About $28.
Image from isaacjamesbaker.blogspot.com.
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Paul Dolan Vineyards Zinfandel 2015, Mendocino County. 15% alc. Dark to medium ruby-magenta shading to a transparent rim; very spicy and macerated blueberries and boysenberries with notes of blackberry jam, lavender, licorice and graphite; quite dense and chewy, slick and chiseled, pretty damned smacky acidity and sanded tannins; the finish is dry and fairly austere. A big, bold zinfandel that’s a good representative of the style. Now through 2020 or ’21. Excellent. About $17, marking Real Value.
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Bill Mosby is probably weary, weary of people describing his winery as “a little bit of Italy in Santa Ynez Valley,” but that’s the price you pay for adhering to a strict regimen of Italian grape varieties along California’s Central Coast. Today I write about four of his wines, from a roster of 17, as well as grappa, plum brandy and other distillates, all of which he produces in minute quantities. Mosby and his wife Jeri purchased property on the old Rancho de la Vega land grant in 1976, on the Santa Rosa Road south of Buellton — population 4,828 and home of OstrichLand USA — now somewhat a center of the winemaking industry in the valley. The winery features an adobe house built in 1853, the home of the Mosby family, and a carriage house from the 1880s, the winery’s tasting room.

We have to approach the problem of what wines should be like when they’re associated with a geography and climate far away, as in thousands of miles and different longitudes and latitudes. Santa Barbara County doesn’t much resemble, for example, Italy’s chilly mountainous Alto Adige or the hilly Piedmont, but here we are, with the Mosby family, growing gewurztraminer and dolcetto. Do we judge these wines on how closely they align with a sort of ideal version of those grapes grown in their homeland or on how “good” they are, relatively speaking, considering their Central Coast origin? We have to account for these immense variations yet also consider varietal character and integrity. I blow warm and cool of these four examples from Mosby Wines, which in several cases are quite enjoyable but don’t much conjure their regions in Italy. Still, what do we expect? The one I would go back to is the Dolcetto 2012. By the way, I admire Mosby for employing large oak barrels and a minimum of new oak in making these wines. The attractive labels were designed by Robert Scherer.

These wines were samples for review.
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traminer2010
Mosby Traminer 2014, Santa Barbara County, made completely in stainless steel. The color is pale straw-gold; the bouquet is intensely floral, with notes of jasmine, honeysuckle and camellia highlighting aromas of lemon and pear, quince and ginger. The wine is clean, bright and lively, with soft peach flavors and a snap of grapefruit bitterness on the finish. The wine is very dry
and quite earthy, more loamy, in fact, than is good for a great impression. Still, an enjoyable version of the gewurztraminer grape. 13.6 percent alcohol. Production was 158 cases. Drink up. Very Good+. About $18.
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sagrantino
The sagrantino grape is indigenous to the region surrounding the incredibly quaint hill-town of Montefalco, in eastern Umbria, where it makes powerful, tannic wines with guts and grit. The Mosby Sagrantino 2011, Santa Barbara County, doesn’t measure up in that sense, though it’s pleasant enough in its way. The wine aged in large French oak barrels, 20 percent new. The color is dark ruby with a garnet rim; enticing aromas of ripe black cherries and raspberries are tinged with violets and lavender and a hint of graphite, while elements of briers, brambles and underbrush gradually emerge. What the wine lacks is sagrantino’s tannic pith and vigor. 14.8 percent alcohol. Production was 309 cases. Drink now through 2018 to 2020. Very Good. About $38.
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dolcetto
The Mosby Dolcetto 2012, Santa Barbara County, is a lovely expression of the grape’s character. It aged in large French oak barrels, 20 percent new. It offers a dark ruby-purple hue with a magenta rim and a full-blown bouquet of ripe black currants, raspberries and plums permeated by notes of loam, forest floor, violets and oolong tea. These qualities segue seamlessly to the palate, where the wine is dense, intense and velvety and delivers very ripe, sweet black fruit flavors marked by sufficient tannin for structure and acidity for balance. 13.5 percent alcohol. Production was 302 cases. Drink through 2017 to ’19. Very Good+. About $28.
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seduzione
Lagrein is one of those grape that is fairly specific to a country or region, like poulsard in the Jura or zweigelt in Austria. Lagrein is native to Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige area, in the mountainous northeast. The Mosby La Seduzione Lagrein 2011, Central Coast, is not as seductive as its makers would like it to be, being deep, dark, inky, tarry, dense and concentrated, with intense scents and flavors of black currants, cherries and plums, dusty and velvety tannins, notes of smoke, tobacco and cedar, and not quite enough acidity to shore up all these elements. If this personality sounds enticing to you, go for it. Again, the regimen is large French oak barrels, 20 percent new. Production was 206 cases. Now through 2020 or ’21. Very Good. About $38.
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The complete name of this estate in Piedmont is Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy, usually abbreviated to Marchesi di Gresy. A monte-aribaldo-dolcetto-alba-docproducer of high-toned single-vineyard Barbaresco wines, Marchesi di Gresy also makes more accessible wines for current drinking. One is the delightful and delightfully serious Monte Aribaldo Dolcetto d’Alba 2012, made from 100 percent dolcetto grapes and well-suited to last night’s homemade pizza. (The movie for Pizza-and-Movie Night was “The Babadook,” appropriate for Halloween.) The color is a pure medium ruby with a slightly lighter rim; aromas of black and red cherries and currants open to a bit of sour cherry and mulberry bolstered by dusty graphite in delicate balance with an increasingly intense floral quality. On the palate, the emphasis on black and red fruit allows for hints of blueberry and lavender to emerge, while dry, foresty tannins and thirst-quenching acidity give the wine structure and liveliness, along with a note of almond skin-apple peel bitterness on the finish. There’s a lot of presence here and a lot of pleasure. 13.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2017. Very Good+. About $20.

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

I know, you’re thinking, “F.K., why don’t you just call this weekly series Saturday Wine Sips, since you seem to have so much trouble getting the thing written and posted on Friday?” Well, because Friday is the lead-in to the weekend, and I think of this series as brief reviews of wines My Readers would like to find for their weekend (moderate) drinking enjoyment. So I miss by a day here and there! So what!

A group of Italian wines today, whites and reds from Tuscany and Piedmont, including one of the best wines made from vermentino grapes that I have encountered; there’s also an excellent Dolcetto and Nebbiolo. As usual with the Friday Wine Sips, even when I post on Saturday, I deliberately keep matters brief and decisive by striking to the heart of the thing and eliminating the usual data about history, specific geographical matters, winery personnel and so on. What you read is what you get. The Poggiotondo wines were samples for review; the others were tasted at a wholesaler’s trade event.
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La Scolca White Label Gavi 2010, Piedmont. 13% alc. 100% cortese grapes. Pale straw-gold color, faint green highlights; spiced lemon with a touch of lemon balm, hints of almond and almond blossom, peach and pear; crisp, lively, alert; pleasing texture infused with limestone-and-shale-like minerality; spicy finish. Very attractive for drinking through the end of 2012. Very Good+. About $18.
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Poggiotondo Vermentino 2011, Toscana. 13.5% alc. 100% vermentino grapes. Radiant pale gold; fresh and floral as a spring garden; yellow plums and thyme, roasted lemon and pear; clean, bracing sea breeze and salt marsh astringency; quite spicy, very dry, scintillating acidity and limestone-like minerality supporting ripe stone-fruit flavors; long spice-thronged finish. Now through 2013 or ’14. One of the best vermentino wines I have encountered. Excellent. About $20, a Notable Value.
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Poggiotondo Rosso 2010, Toscana. 12.5% alc. 40% sangiovese, 30% merlot, 30% syrah. I was not as impressed by the Poggiotondo red wines as by the Vermentino, but I definitely liked the Rosso better than the Chianti. Simple and direct and tasty; gushes with spicy red and black fruit scents and flavors balanced by bright acidity and sleek, moderately chewy tannins; the finish adds leather, briers and brambles. A decent quaffer for red sauce pasta dishes, pizzas and burgers. Drink through the end of 2012. Very Good. About $11.
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Poggiotondo Chianti Cerro del Masso 2009, Toscano DOCG. 13% alc. 80% sangiovese, 10% merlot, 5% each syrah and colorino. A curious marriage of bland and harsh; takes rusticity to the edge of roughshod. Sangiovese deserves better. Not recommended. About $15.
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Marziano Abbona Dolcetto Dogliani “Papa Celso” 2009, Piedmont. 14% alc. 100% dolcetto grapes. Dark ruby color with a violet-magenta cast; warm, fleshy, meaty floral bouquet, spiced and macerated red and black currants and plums, undertones of lavender and leather; quite earthy, with touches of moss and underbrush, a little spare and austere yet almost succulent in texture, almost velvety; a graphite-like strain of minerality through the finish keeps it in line. Now through 2015 or ’16. Excellent. About $30.
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Marziano Abbona Barbera d’Alba “Rinaldi” 2009, Piedmont. 14.5% alc. 100% barbera grapes. Dark ruby-purple; leather, plums and mulberries, briers and brambles, a little fleshy and floral; very dry, packed with dried spices and dried red and black fruit flavors; fairly foresty, burgeoning underbrush, austere from mid-palate back through the finish where it picks up some granite-like minerality and a bit of heat. Now through 2015 to ’16. Very Good+. About $30.
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Marziano Abbona Nebbiolo d’Alba “Bricco Barone” 2009, Piedmont. 14% alc. 100% nebbiolo grapes. Classic. Deep ruby-purple; tar, earth, violets and truffles, rosemary and its bit of resiny astringency, black currants and plums; full-bodied, dense, very dry, jammed with finely milled and sifted tannins, graphite elements and woody spices; touches of fruitcake, potpourri and bitter chocolate; long, spun-out finish. Demands rabbit fricassee, game birds, venison. Now through 2016 or ’17. Excellent. About $30.
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