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Sips of Recently Tasted Wines

2010 COBB Coastlands Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 175 cases, $75. From a 14-acre vineyard near Occidental. A variety of selections and rootstocks. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of dark cherry reduction sauce and sandalwood. On the lighter side, this cherry-driven wine is very elegant and charming. There is some cedary oak overlay and a slightly confected cherry theme on the finish. Score: 89

2013 Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc

13.8% alc., pH 3.32, TA 0.59, 85,000+ cases, $14, screwcap. A signature wine from Ferrari-Carano that is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley. Whole cluster crushed and pressed into stainless steel tanks for 48 hours of cold settling. The juice is either transferred to stainless steel tanks or older French oak barrels for fermentation. The wine in barrels is sur lie aged and stirred every week for 1 month. · Pale yellow-gold color and clear in the glass. Inviting aromas of peach, kiwi and lemon lead to crisp flavors of white peach, pear and lemon drop. A nicely balanced wine with good staying power on the palate, and a sleek finish that offers notes of peach, apple, tropical fruits and subtle nutty oak. Very easy to like with no imposing grassy character found in some Sauvignon Blanc wines. I put the opened, unused wine in the refrigerator and it was still singing several days later. Widely distributed. Score: 90

2000 Kalin Cellars Livermore Valley Semillon

13.8% alc., $30. Current release. Sourced from old vines planted in the 1880s from Chateau d’Yquem cuttings at the Wente Estate Vineyard in Livermore. 75% Semillon and 25% Sauvignon Blanc. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels. · Golden yellow color in the glass. Appealing aromas of pear, butterscotch and vanilla custard, with equally inviting flavors of ripe tropical fruits, apricots, roasted nuts and honey. The mouth feel is viscous and sensuous. Fully mature, and drinking at its apogee, this dry wine can easily age another 10 years. Pair with spicy food or richer sauced fish and shellfish dishes. Score: 90

2013 Panther Creek Willamette Valley Pinot Gris

13.5% alc., 1,500 cases, $18. 100% stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation. Olsen, Wildewood and Kramer vineyards. · Light golden yellow color with a slight orange rim tinge in the glass. Shy aromas of yellow apple, pear and nuts. A pleasing food wine with modestly weighted flavors of pear, apple, and white peach. Smooth on the palate with a good cut of acidity. Score: 88

2012 Panther Creek Winemaker’s Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 1,290 cases, $30. A vineyard blend from Van Duzer and Amity vineyards. Aged 9 months in 30% new and 70% neutral French oak. · Moderately deep reddish purple color in the glass. Riper fruited with aromas of dark red cherries and berries, a little earthy flora, and even a touch of prune. Impressive attack and finish of dark red cherry, pomegranate and plum flavors. Well-structured with a suave presence and adept oak management. Finishes with a good charge of black cherry fruit. Score: 89

2011 Panther Creek Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 749 cases, $50. A barrel selection consisting of 72% Lazy River Vineyard and 28% Freedom Hill Vineyard fruit. Aged 18 months in 30% new and 70% neutral French oak. · Light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of red pie cherries, strawberries and spicy oak lead to an elegant, even delicate wine, offering flavors of red fruits, spice and oak. Reflects the vintage, with a paucity of fruit stuffing and ripeness. Score: 88

2010 Panther Creek Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 197 cases, $50. Aged 16 months in 30% new and 70% neutral French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with scents of black cherry, spice and a touch of caramelized oak. The tasteful core of black cherry, black currant and black raspberry fruit is burdened by a heavy oak overlay with prominent flavors of smoke and tobacco. Discreetly concentrated with some finishing intensity. Score: 87

Note: I usually taste Paul Lato’s wines in March around the time of World of Pinot Noir. Since the event was in Santa Barbara this year, I didn’t make it north to Santa Maria Valley to see Paul. I decided to taste a few of the 2012 releases now.

2012 Paul Lato “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $65. Unfiltered. · Moderate deep red color in the glass. Initially very smoky on the nose and palate, fading over time in the glass. The aromas of black raspberry, cherry and strawberry are accented with a hint of Moroccan spice and smoke. Light to mid weight flavors of dark cherries and raspberries with a slight smoky undertone. The tannins are very suave, the wine is easy to drink, and there is an appealing cherry note on the moderately long finish. The following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was somewhat stemmy and herbal. I tried to like this wine, and revisited it several times, but it did not offer as much pleasure as I would like. Score: 89

2012 Paul Lato “Atticus” John Sebastiano Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $70. Unfiltered. · Moderate Bing cherry color in the glass. The scent of fresh berries is long and persistent and the slightest oak adds a compliment. Soft as an angel’s hair and very plush on the palate with mid weight plus flavors of spiced dark raspberry and blueberry. Oak provides just the right amount of seasoning, and the finish has some respectable length. The texture really stands out in this wine. Score: 91

2012 Paul Lato “Seabiscuit” Zotovich Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $75. Unfiltered. · Moderately dark purple color in the glass. This wine is blessed with effusive aromas of cherry, plum, and a lash of oak vanillin. The charge of fruit is delicious with flavors of dark cherry pie glaze, Hoison sauce, and clove. Noticeable polish and balance with dry, sandy tannins creating textural interest. The amazing burst of fruit on the finish lasts and lasts and sealed the deal for me. Score: 93

2012 Paul Lato “Happiness” Hilliard Bruce Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $70. Unfiltered. · Dark reddish purple color with a garnet rim in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of dark stone and berry fruits. Mid+ weight fruit core of blackberry, black grape and black currant flavors. A bit rustic, beefy and earthy, with modest tannins and some finishing length. The most robust and darkest fruited of the Paul Lato wines tasted on this day. Score: 91

2012 Paul Lato “Lancelot” Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $85. Unfiltered. · Moderate red color with purple highlights in the glass. Wines from this vineyard are usually broad shouldered but this offering is suave and modest in weight with aromas and flavors of cherry, raspberry and pomegranate. The wine is well-crafted with balanced tannins, a dreamy texture and some finishing burst of cherry fruit. My only nit is that the finish is slightly hot. After a day, the wine was much more expressive indicating it has a way to go to fully reveal itself. Give this wine another year or two in the cellar. Score: 91

2012 Woodenhead Dolinsek Ranch Russian River Valley Syrah

15.0% alc., 75 cases, $40. I don’t review many Syrahs but two very good ones showed up in this issue. · Dark, dense purple color in the glass. Explosive aromas arrive over time including blackberries, boysenberries, spice, smoke and vanilla. Plush, velvety and fruity on the palate with a delicious sap load of purple berries accented with spice. Full-bodied and hedonistic, but balanced, with complimentary oak in the background and a smash mouth finish of great intensity. Score: 93

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