PICKS of the RACK: Two Appealing Cool-Climate California Chardonnays

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Girard | Russian River Valley | Sonoma County | California | 2012 | $20 | 90 pts Based in Napa Valley, Girard Winery sources its Chardonnay from Dutton Ranch vineyards in Sonoma County’s cool-climate Russian River Valley (RRV). Dutton Ranch … Continue reading

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PICK of the RACK: Domaine Philippe Plantevin | “Le Perussier” | Unoaked | Côtes du Rhône | France | 2012 |$17 | 88 pts

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Domaine Philippe Plantevin is a family-owned vineyard and winery located in the tiny, ancient village of Cairanne, in the southern Rhone Valley. The soils here are typically calcareous clay, composed of silty chalk and limestone. Wines from such soils tend … Continue reading

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PICKS of the RACK: Two Big Reds from Macchia Wines | Sangiovese & Petite Sirah | California | 2012 | 91 pts Each

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Macchia Wines, located in Lodi, California, produces a range of Zinfandel bottlings, Italian varietals, and select other red varietal wines sourced from vineyards in the low-elevation Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA) and the higher-elevation Amador County AVA. Macchia wines showcase … Continue reading

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EVERYDAY WINE PICK: Rio Madre | Graciano | Rioja | Spain | 2013 | $12 | 88 pts

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Graciano is a temperamental, low-yielding red variety native to Spain’s Rioja region that is traditionally blended with the region’s more celebrated variety – Tempranillo. This rendition consists of 100% Graciano grown at an elevation of 1,800 feet in dry, chalky soils. … Continue reading

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PICK of the RACK: Ceja Vineyards | Vino de Casa | Napa Valley | California | 2009 | $25 (Avg.) | 88 pts

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An unusual blend of Pinot Noir (60%) and Syrah (40%), the Ceja family’s “house wine” fulfills its self-designated role with equal measures of refinement and dexterity. Syrah is dominant on the nose, offering brawny aromas of dark fruit, smoked meat, … Continue reading

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PICK of the RACK: Corralitos Vineyards and Winery | Syrah | Santa Cruz Mountains | Santa Cruz County | California | 2012 | $18 | 91 pts

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Corralitos Vineyards & Winery is the second label of Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery, owned and operated by Richard and Mary Kay Alfaro on the south side of Santa Cruz County just a few miles inland from Monterey Bay. Their … Continue reading

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VIRGINIA CORNER: James River Cellars | Reserve Chardonnay | Virginia | NV | $18 | 88 pts

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Family-owned and operated James River Cellars, located just north of Richmond, produces a thoughtful selection of single- varietal and blended wines from vitis vinifera and French-American hybrids farmed in nearby Montpelier, Virginia. Their Reserve Chardonnay is among our favorites, and … Continue reading

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EVERYDAY VALUE WINE PICK: Bogle Vineyards | Petite Sirah | California | 2012 | $12 (Avg.) | 86 pts

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Bogle delivers a terrific value here — an affordable Petite Sirah sourced from vineyards in Clarksburg and Lodi that confidently expresses all the hallmarks of the variety. It is a fresh and savory red, with aromas of mulberry, red plum, and pine … Continue reading

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PICK of the RACK: The Federalist | Zinfandel | Dry Creek Valley | Sonoma County | California | 2011 | $23 (Avg.) | 90 pts

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Here is an intriguing and unconventional Zinfandel from Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley that offers much complexity and individuality at a modest price. This is no jammy fruit bomb; it is driven, rather,  by savory earth, spice, and botanical  impressions — notably aromas of campfire, smoked meat, and incense … Continue reading

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PICK of the RACK: Honig | Cabernet Sauvignon | Napa Valley | California | 2012 | $35 (Avg.) | 91 pts

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Honig Vineyard & Winery, located in Rutherford, Napa Valley — family-owned and operated since 1964 — focuses its production on two varieties that flourish particularly well in the region:  Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is Honig’s most attainable Cabernet, sourced from select … Continue reading

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PICK of the RACK: Francis Ford Coppola Winery | Director’s Cut | Cinema | Sonoma County | California | 2009 | $30 (Avg.) | 90 pts

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Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley (not to be confused with Coppola’s Inglenook Estate — the crown jewel of California winemaking history located across the mountains in Napa Valley) produces a broad array of wines over a wide range of price points. If you … Continue reading

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PICK of the RACK: Cellers Baronia del Montsant | Englora | D.O. Montsant | Spain | 2008 | $18 | 90 pts

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A big brother of our previously featured 2009 Flor d’Englora Roure (red blend), here is another delightful red from northeastern Spain’s Montsant appellation (Denominación de Origen) – a mountainous region west of Barcelona where wine grapes are grown on steep, craggy slopes. Low-yielding old vine Grenache and Carignan are the dominant … Continue reading

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