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2010 Bodega Chacra Barda Pinot Noir

If you think pinot noir from South America is inevitably too rich, too extracted and too ripe, you really need to get yourself a bottle of this subtle, balanced gem from Bodega Chacra, founded by Piero Incisa, scion of the family who brought you a little Tuscan wine called… Sassicaia. Made from old vines found by Incisa in the cooler reaches of Patagonia (the youngest vineyard was planted in 1978, the others in 1955 and 1932), it is clear, with a bright garnet color, and a set of aromas that probably wouldn’t be out of place in the Côte de Beaune. Drawing a comparison is unfair, however, as there is a very specific personality to Barda, the entry-level cuvée from this special venture. With dried cherry and tea-leaf aromas, wild and earthy undertones on the nose, a bright and fresh feeling on the tongue, an overall impression of ripeness rounded out by maybe a bit of oak, this is a really fine pinot noir at a very reasonable price. A warning: it will likely make you want to buy the estate’s single-vineyard bottlings, whose prices hover closer to 100 dollars a bottle. Highly recommended. RC
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2010 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon, Pedregal Vineyard

A baby that shows every sign of being a great grownup when it fully matures. Deep purple with a seductive nose of blackcurrants, chocolate, and rosemary. Great gobs of blackberry fruit and pistachios on the palate, with balanced tannins. Finishes beautifully and languorously. This has not yet been released at the time of tasting (a barrel sample), and will require at least another 5-8 years of aging to reach its apogee. But when it does, it will be glorious. Very Highly Recommended. GT
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2010 Echelon Red Blend

Aromas of wild herbs growing on dry, late summer California hillsides – wild thyme, sage, juniper. At first it feels thinnish on the palate, but that’s only because the tannins are integrated into the dark fruit in a more refined manner than expected. Wild herbs show up in the finish too, but then it ends almost sweet. Highly recommended. BSE
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2010 Hubert Veneau Coteaux du Giennois

The nose is very pleasant, white flowers dominate, with melon and grapefruit in the background. Far more citrus leads on the palate, white grapefruit and lemon, honeydew showing on the mid-palate, all with great minerality and excellent balance. The region’s limestone and flint both show well. Drink with scallops. Highly Recommended. DH