2007 DuNah DeDee’s Estate Vineyard Russian River 14.3% $40
This is just lovely on the nose with an earthy/leesy edge, sweet floral sub-tones and a top note of lemon oil all over a base of lightly mineral-flecked bitter apple fruit.  Another wine that just glides onto the palate. This is really gorgeous. It’s exquisitely balanced with great clarity to the earthy, slightly almond-tinged pineapple and orchard fruits that has a faint edge of dried papaya. The oak here is used brilliantly, serving as a foundation for the fruit and adding just the subtle spice note details. There is some heat on the finish but there’s also some fruit and a nice acid drive that lies beneath the fruit. This is really impressive, the alcohol detracts somewhat from the wine, but it’s awfully good nevertheless. 93pts

2009 Pfendler Sonoma Coast 13.8%
Smoke, worn wood, butcher’s wax and lemony, almost grapefruity and lightly peppery fruit greets the nose. This is fairly rich but not heavy. In fact, this has fine mineral cut on the palate with a great balance of savory and fruit-driven elements on the mid-palate. The balance is impressive with intense flavors in an elegant package. The oak is a touch aggressive today, but the fruit claws it way back on the finish which is zesty and minerally. This is great. 93pts

2009 Freeman Ryo-fu Russian River Valley 14.1% $42
Intensely aromatic with mineral and butterscotch aromas dominating early followed by green apple fruit, popcorn, and assertive wood spice. This is a large-scaled wine with nice fruit that’s rich and bright and supported by fresh wood notes. Surprisingly there’s no woody sweetness here, though there is no shortage of spice tones. The fruit on the palate is more in the pear end of the spectrum and filled with well-judged spice notes that add detail in the mouth and extend the long finish.  Large-scaled and all, this remains elegant and fine, with an oaky presence but wonderfully baked up by fruit. It’s not quite my style, but it is mighty fine. 92pts

2009 Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley 13.5% $35
Very pretty on the nose, subtle but complex with notes of flowers, integrated wood, cheese rind, lightly waxy orchard fruits and a little tropical citrus. Love this on entry, bright, broad and tall, but really clear and well defined. The fruit here is fresh and pure with the orchard fruit of the nose framed by light dried tangerine peels and a hint of vanilla cream. The texture turns a bit creamy with air but never gets weighty and the subtle spice of wood adds some nice accents on the back end and pops on the long finish, accenting the almost peachy fruit on the finale. Delicious 92pts

2008 Patz & Hall Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley 14.2% $35
The nose here is all toasted nuts, crushed flowers and earth with some smoky top notes. Very well-integrated in the mouth with fine acid cut offering some relief from the rather creamy palate. There’s even a hint of tannin that creates some really intriguing textural complexity here and with air, the orchard fruit really starts to blossom. This is very complete with minerally accents, and finely melded fruit and oak tones that add some vanilla and toast on the back end before falling a bit short on the finish. Very nice stuff, but it is a bit short. 91pts

2009 Stuhlmuller Alexander Valley 14.1% $20
Pretty tight on the nose with modest hints of wood and fruit supported by notes of milk and minerals. This is opulent on entry and rather mouth-filling. It’s soft but not terribly creamy with a fairly woody palate impression – not because it’s woody but rather because it seems oddly inexpressive. It’s very well-balanced and has a lovely mouthfeel, and I don’t know whether I caught this bottle on an off day or if it’s simply not a fruit-driven wine, but right now I get more wet river stones than fruit, and I’m not really complaining. The spicy oak grows on the palate and there’s a flicker of heat on the finish, but after the opulent entry this does turn glassy, hard and clear with a strictness and purity that is hard to find in California. Lovely. 91pts

2008 Rodney Strong Reserve Russian River Valley 14.4% $36
There’s a little orange zest here on the nose and nice notes of acacia over vanilla cream and big notes of bitter apples with hints of ginger and nutmeg. This is big on entry but gains excellent focus in the mouth. The acidity is really firm and lends the fruit a brightness on the palate, which is all green apples with a hint of orange and papaya. Nicely aromatic in the mouth with fairly restrained oak notes lending some nutty spice to the mid-palate and then pulling back again on the finish, which is long and does show a fair amount of heat, but also reveals wonderful persistence of fruit. There’s a hint of creaminess up front here but this really is quite fresh feeling. 91pts