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The Dozen - Delights of Drinking

It’s a pleasant fact of life that most wines you find in retail stores and on restaurant menus are good, well-made wines or they would have never made it this far. We may think of ways they could have been made better, and we will recognize that some are just not our cup of Cabernet – nothing wrong, but just a style we’d prefer not to drink.

But it’s really a treat when we find one that engages us, that surprises us pleasantly. It may be a rare flavor, it might be one that gives us a smile of recognition – an old friend rediscovered, or it might strike us as particularly engaging or playful – a wine that demands to be noticed.

In this dozen I found a few that did that, ones that went beyond likeability into stimulating my brain as well as my palate.

2019 Bonterra California Chardonnay ($14). Fresh, clean and floral with apple, honey and lemon flavors and a crisp finish.

2018 Scheid “District 7” Monterey Chardonnay ($18). Medium-bodied with apple and plum flavors, some baking spices and a hint of tropical fruits.

2019 Scheid “District 7” Monterey Sauvignon Blanc ($18). A little more fleshy than, for comparison, most New Zealand Sauvignons, but still with good acidity and green, spicy fruitiness.

2019 The Prisoner “Blindfold” California White Wine ($30). A floral and fragrant Rhone-style blend (also some Semillon and Chard in there) with a cinnamon-peppery note or two and silkiness on the palate – delightful.

2018 Frescobaldi Castello di Pomino “Benefizio” Pomino Bianco Riserva ($31). I really like this wine – a very seductive Tuscan blend with a satiny mouth feel and a lot of fruit essence and skin notes similar to the haunting, concentrated flavors you might get in an eau de vie.

2018 Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($35). Nice fruit-acid balance, generous and warm fruitiness with ripe apple and lemon flavors – a good food wine.

2018 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch – Walker Hill” Green Valley Chardonnay ($60). Very juicy with full-bodied apple flavors and a very toasty finish.

2018 Thierry & Guy “Les Frères Bastards” France Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre ($12). Classic southern Rhone combo – a good carafe wine, quite floral with enjoyable rustic red flavors.

2018 Scheid “District 7” Monterey Pinot Noir ($18). A light Pinot with dark berry flavors and pleasantly gamey.

2018 Château de Rouanne Vinsobres ($30). This is the type of delightful southern Rhone red blends that we used to get in simple Côtes du Rhone, but here it is a bit more sophisticated in a village wine – warm and generous fresh fruitiness balanced by a tangy undertaste that brings it to life.

2016 Zenato Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore ($30). So many ripassos disappoint. This one doesn’t. Very fruity with cherry and some blackberry tastes, but still light on the palate with a touch of earthiness, good tannins and a raspy finish.

2018 Alma Rosa “El Jabili” Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir ($68). Bright, rounded, ripe cherry flavors with good acidity and pleasant, light bitters at the edges.
Prices listed are generally SRP or from

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