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2008 Stoller Vineyards JV Estate Pinot Noir

The screwcap signals “drink now.” Typical Pinot Noir aromas of charred oak, tar, and cotton candy greet the nose, with a touch of earth too. It’s pretty fruity, with a burnt sugar undertone and a medium-light body. But though it’s fruity, the wine is never too sweet. Finish is a tad hot. Drink with light meats, medium fish, tomatoes, too. Recommended.
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2007 Stoller Vineyards SV Estate Pinot Noir

“SV” on the label signifies the estate-grown Stoller Vineyards grapes, and also the “senior vines” the grapes are grown on. The wine is warm and earthy with a hint of rose in the aroma. Fruit arrives first on the palate, then the underlying char from the barrels. There's a bit of spicy tannin on the finish. With good elements, the wine is still a bit delicate. All in all, this wine has a “narrow spectrum” of flavors, as Bill Stoller put it during a tasting in my kitchen yesterday. We both expect the wine can develop further over the next five years. Okay now, recommended with aging.
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2009 Royal Tokaji Furmint

This wine has aromas of hay, straw, and a pleasant, yeasty, light fruit and floral suggestion, like flowers in a haymow. After a lighting attack of sweetness on the palate, the wine turns dry, and the body grows toward medium weight. Still, I think I detect a hint of oxidation in the character of the wine. It has a big finish, not bone dry, but then I don’t think this wine should be bone dry. It pairs nicely with light main courses such as chicken and lakefish; in my memories I drink it with sautéed native Zander fish. Recommended.
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2009 Shannon Ridge Ranch Collection Lake County Petite Sirah

The wine poured out with promise, the characteristic deep purple of Petite Sirah. It had the scent of very young wine, reminding me of being in a winery and tasting barrel samples early in the winemaking process. Unfortunately, this was a prediction of the wine's flavors, too. It was light in taste, very mild, with tannins so soft and structure so insubstantial, it disappeared when tasted with salty foods. I saved it, chilled, to sample again the next day, and by then it sort of deconstructed and became a non-wine. Not recommended.
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2009 Ptujska Klet Pullus Modri Pinot Noir

Semi-transparent red purple wine, easy to open with its modern screwcap, despite being made by the oldest winery in Slovenia which dates from 1239. Warm, inviting aroma of cooked fruit with a trace of earthiness. Medium-light body, light structure. Flavor starts out mild but grows in intensity, with strawberry notes. Finishes long and hot—though it’s only 12.5% alcohol—and ultimately plummy. A cross between new world and old world pinot noir, in the best way. Good summer drinking. Recommended.
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2010 Twomey Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

What an elegant bottle, clear and stylishly designed! When opened, the aromas are lightly herby, grassy and floral. The wine has a medium body, with a touch of honey on the end palate. The flavors are a bit more round than purely crisp, possibly due to the “touch of oak” during vinification, which moderates the presence of the acidity. The finish is not too dry. A mild and easy to drink wine. Recommended.
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2010 Dominio de Berzal Blanco

A fairly traditional winery in Rioja produces this wine from 50-year-old viura vines, blended with a little malvasia. The nose is aromatic, as you’d expect. On the palate it is reminiscent of Chablis, but the flavors are more gentle and rounder, especially toward the end. A bit of steeliness re-awakens in a slightly citric finish; very dry. Recommended.
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Sicilia en Primeur

Last time I was in Sicily, there was great excitement in the local wine community about the creation of the island’s first DOCG, its first highly denominated wine classification (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). Amongst the rest of us, there was a bit of puzzlement. The new DOCG would define a traditional, blended wine from the southwest corner of this triangular island, a fairly obscure wine from an international perspective: Cerasuolo di Vittoria.