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2003 Jeriko Estate Syrah – Mendocino, California

This under $30 Syrah was probably not intended to sleep in the cellar until 2010, but it awakened with surprising maturity and complexity. A wine described as "lavishly oaked" two or three years ago is now balanced, aromatic, and flat-out savory. Olives, hickory smoked bacon, black pepper, and sage are all lightly brushed with soy sauce for a savory northern Rhone doppelganger.
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2008 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare – Santa Cruz, CA

I will confess I am partial to Bonny Doon’s wines, but the 2008 Vin Gris de Cigare is one of the finest rosés I’ve tasted. I keep several bottles well chilled at all times. A blend of grenache, cinsault, roussanne, mourvèdre, syrah and grenache blanc, it is perhaps untypical of a Southern Rhône rosé since two white grapes (roussane and grenache blanc) have found their way into the blend, but to me the 2008 Vin Gris de Cigare is a quintessential rosé. Crisp and light yet round in the mouth, the strawberry and summer fruit notes harmonize with the sweetness of the tomatoes, while the citrus notes and crispness of the wine cut through the richness of the olive oil. You’ll keep sipping this one long after you’ve licked your plate clean.
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2009 Stepping Stone Corallina Rosé – Red Hills Lake County, California

This intriguing rosé started with three days skin contact, followed by a very slow three-month fermentation. Progression on the palate is fascinating, as if the wine changed from white to red from attack to finish. It opens with a great acid streak and the tiniest fleeting hint of barely ripe peach before immediately switching to the red flavors. It starts lightly with strawberries, faint at first then growing, getting sweeter and darker, evolving into cherries, which linger. I drank this the day after it was bottled, in a courtesy tasting with General Manager, Craig Camp, and the new full-time winemaker, Jeff Keene. Once the wine recovers from the beating it took it will only get better.
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2006 Shafer Relentless – Napa Valley

This deeply opaque Syrah blend spent 30 months in very tightly grained new French oak. It is already terrific and has years ahead of it. Tannins are very sweet. Flavors comes in waves, with tremendous depth. Blackberries are the lead dark fruit among several, along with the meaty/smoky flavors of the crisp end of a prime rib, including the rub of leafy spices like sage and rosemary. Excellent, and very highly recommended.
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2003 Fra Guerau – Montsant, Spain

Clear, medium garnet color with fading rim. Aromas of black cherry, strawberry, raspberry, smoke, spice, and soft vegetal. Full body, dry, medium acid, medium-high tannin, black cherry, raspberry, fleshy black fruit, with a long, soft finish.