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The Dozen - Shades of Red

One thing about Napa Valley and Sonoma County and the rest of the North Coast red wines – you never have to worry about the fruit being there. It’s up to the winemaker to decide whether she wants to ride it as it is, or try to tame it.

This week’s Dozen features a flight of reds from a Sonoma County winegrower who sources grapes, in this case Pinot Noir, from across several North Coast counties, but there also are some interesting Cabernets and Merlots from Napa Valley.

So let’s get to these chill-in-the-air wines.

2017 Markham Napa Valley Merlot ($21). A lively wine, a little juicy, a little edgy with black raspberry essence and savory, earthy tones. Especially good for the price.

2019 The Prisoner “The Prisoner” Napa Valley Red Wine ($49). Of this dozen, this is the one for our fruit-forward fans – ripe and rich cherry flavors with some hints of creamy chalkiness.

2017 Ehlers Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($57). Great combo of blackberries and black raspberries, very elegant with firm but not overly constraining structure.

2017 Rutherford Hill Atlas Peak Merlot ($60). Lovely, and quite interesting with piquant red fruit, a touch of balsamic and some savory notes to go along with integrated tannins.

2018 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch-Freestone Hill” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($62). Elegant and not as big as some of the other DGs (below) with good depth of mild cherry tastes.

2018 Dutton Goldfield “Fox Den Vineyard” Green Valley Pinot Noir ($63). Well-structured, with a mix of sweet and tart cherries and good aromatics.

2018 Barnett Vineyards Spring Mountain Merlot ($66). Very smooth cherries, almost juicy, with great depth of flavor. Some chalkiness and light tannins in the finish.

2018 Dutton Goldfield “Angel Camp Vineyard” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($67). Rounded flavors of plump but not overripe cherries with great mouth feel.

2018 Dutton Goldfield “Azaya Ranch” Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir ($67). Plump cherries like the Angel Camp, very smooth, but with more structure and good finishing acidity.

2018 Dutton Goldfield “Docker Hill Vineyard” Mendocino County Pinot Noir ($68). Very aromatic and flavorful – cherries, of course – very polished and with a finishing dollop of creaminess.

2018 Dutton Goldfield” “Devil’s Gulch Vineyard” Marin County Pinot Noir ($72). A big wine with long-lasting, bright-and-dark cherry flavors with some baking spices at the finish.

2017 Robert Mondavi “The Reserve – To Kalon” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon  ($175). A nicely restrained Cabernet – definitely in the Napa Valley style that emulates the Pauillac first growths – but with lots of stuffing, including dark cherries and blackberries, brier-like savory notes and walnut-y tannins. Let it breathe for a while before sipping.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from

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