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2008 Sacha Lichine Cabernet Merlot

This is billed as an “Old World meets New World” wine. It might be more correctly labeled as a “French wine aimed directly at cutting into the American market.” There are some nice blackberry nuances around the nose but they seem to get cut off by some herbal notes. Fruit-forward, it’s a little cluttered on the palate, with cassis flavors battling it out a bit with some briar and red licorice notes, but has some nice silken tones after it has a little time to sort itself out. Tannins are soft and the finish is pleasant. Nothing here to distinguish this from the ocean of low-to-mid range American Cabernets produced each year, but still a pleasant quaff, and not a bad value. Try with a roast pork or grilled chops. Recommended.
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Palate Press Wine of the Week: 2008 Honig Schlucht Pinot Meunier

Clear, medium intensity, ruby red, bright. Clean nose, medium intensity aromas of red fruit, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, fresh mushroom, leaves, evergreen forest, dried flowers, baking spice, and bacon fat. Dry on the palate, elegant, medium-light body, medium to medium-high acidity, medium-low tannin, medium flavor intensity: red fruit, cherry, cranberry, apple skin, tart fruit, raspberry, dried violet. Medium-short finish. Pair with pasta in a red pepper sauce or herb-crusted pork tenderloin with raspberry glaze. Highly Recommended.
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2008 Spell Pinot Noir

A lovely '08 California Pinot that is drinking well right now. Opening is a bit alcoholic, which belies what is underneath—a nose of briar and blackberries and light chocolate. Brilliant sweet fruit, like cranberries with sugar. Languorous finish. Not overly complex, but lovely nonetheless. Simple food is best with this, like grilled lamb or, for you vegans out there, grilled eggplant. Highly recommended.
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2008 Honig Schlucht Pinot Meunier

Clear, medium intensity, ruby red, bright. Clean nose, medium intensity aromas of red fruit, cherry, cranberry, strawberry, fresh mushroom, leaves, evergreen forest, dried flowers, baking spice, and bacon fat. Dry on the palate, elegant, medium-light body, medium to medium-high acidity, medium-low tannin, medium flavor intensity: red fruit, cherry, cranberry, apple skin, tart fruit, raspberry, dried violet. Medium-short finish. Pair with pasta in a red pepper sauce or herb-crusted pork tenderloin with raspberry glaze.
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2008 Dutton Estate Thomas Road Pinot Noir

Garnet and modestly opaque to the eye. Aromas of cranberry, black cherry, spice, and a hint of earth hit the nose. Bold on the front of the palate with black fruit and cherry. Lush with fruit carrying through to a nice finish with lingering acidity. This Pinot Noir has enough heft to stand up to a number of meats and poultry, such as lamb, filet mignon or duck. Read the extended review on Simple Hedonisms.
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2008 Château Tour Chapoux

Sweet pepper and a bit of formaldehyde in the nose. Raspberry notes on the palate, but short on the fruit, with the tannins seeming coming in prematurely. Bitter finish. Perhaps I got a bad bottle, but I gotta say: Not recommended.
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2008 North Valley Hyland White

Clear, bright lemon yellow color. Clean nose with medium-low intensity aromas of citrus, lime, steel, stone fruits, and slate. Dry, medium body, high acidity, medium alcohol, and flavors of green apple, lime, tart peach, and pineapple. Unbalanced acidity—even for an acid freak—and perhaps a little past its prime. Rough. Not recommended.
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2008 Foppiano Estate Petite Sirah

A wine as dark as India ink. An alcoholic nose (15.2%) with lots of intriguing aromas of anise, dark chocolate, and blackberries. Somewhat tannic, but the fruit comes around; just seems to take longer to emerge. Some black coffee and vanilla flavors in the black fruit. The Russian River character comes out: nice to have something from RR Valley other than Pinot Noir. Rich finish. This will benefit from some aging to harmonize. I had with an Indian curry and it worked nicely. Highly recommended.