2008 Treana Red 15% $35

Sandy soil tone with fine herbal elements. A bit of burnt rubber and some dried citrus peel notes. This does smell a bit alcoholic though it has a nice black cherry jam note on the nose. Lots of fruit up front with red cherry, red currant and dried strawberry fruit. Some nice mineral notes offer contrast and cut on the palate of this rather large scaled wine. This leans towards being a bit sweet and jammy though it has enough tannin and minerality to cut through the fruit particularly on the finish, which shows some dusty mineral notes, slightly drying tannins and a touch of heat 91pts

2008 Seven Hills Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain Wa 14.3% $30
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot

This shows some faintly herbal notes on the nose and maybe even a touch of something vegetal accenting the light red fruits. Yes, there is something almost weedy here and even a little minty to boot, but at the same time there is a sweetness and freshness to the fruit. A little closed at first, this takes plenty of time to open. Though it never fully opens, it does shows a fine intensity of liquory red fruit, full of bitter cherry and red currant topped with a judicious use of oak. The herbal qualities are still here but they are deep in the fruit along with some pencil lead and a certain meatiness. The texture is youthful yet balanced, with dusty tannins embedded in the soft fruit. The finish is a touch short and is still showing the nice wild cherry note but not with the follow through one might hope for. Still, this is fairly elegant and delicious. 91pts

2009 Bernardus Marinus Carmel Valley Red Wine 14.1% $33
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec

This is intensely aromatic with notes of pencil shavings, dried rosemary and pressed flowers all swirling around a core of black currant, prune and juniper. Big and smooth in the mouth, it is packed with rosemary-tinged black currant, black plum skin and spicy berry fruit. This is smooth and approachable though it has an innate firmness. On the back end, some subtle but attractive herb notes emerge with air and drift off on the almost raspberry scented finish. This is a big wine, intense and assertive yet it manages to remain fairly fresh and certainly appealing.  Lacks a bit of length and shows a touch of heat but this should be a crowd-pleaser. 91pts

2008 Terlato Devil’s Peak  Napa Valley Ca 14.2% $50
50% Cabernet Franc, 39% Merlot, 6% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon

This is sweet and spicy on the nose with a low yet attractive fan of herbal, currant fruit topped with a lashing of vanilla. Crisp on entry, this snaps to attention in the mouth delivering some vanilla wafer and milk chocolate flavors early on then adding in some red currant, cranberry and even a hint of sun-dried tomato on the palate. Nothing overdone about this, though the oak may seem a touch aggressive to some. This does not knock you over the head, but it is the kind of wine I could drink all night long. 91pts

2010 Anemoi Zephyrus Grand Valley Co 13.8% $40
50% Cabernet Franc, 50% Petit Verdot

Reticent on the nose with pencil lead, wood spice and smoky accents over herb framed red berry fruit. This is tense and focused in the mouth, really well balanced with tannins that show an edge of youthful austerity but don’t drag down the rich, spicy, graphite and herb inflected fruit here. Elegant in the mouth right through to the wonderfully fruited finish which shows of bright notes of black raspberry and red currant before fading into a smoky, mineral finale. Give me more! Lacks a little depth on the palate but this is delicious. 91pts

2006 Brian Carter Cellars Solesce Columbia Valley Wa 14.4% $58
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec

A bit minty on first sniff, this remains a bit coy on the nose with wild cherry notes under a sweet, toasty oak top note. Smooth and bright with some slightly austere tannins lending this mouth grab and brightening acidity, giving it height. This really stands tall in the mouth with vanilla, cherry cream and spiced plum notes. This is really bright and juicy in the  mouth with a classically structured texture. The finish is a bit spicy and shows a hint of heat as well, along with licorice and faint toasted herb notes. 91pts


2004 Lang & Reed Right Bank Napa Valley Red Wine 14.5% $80

This is a little funky on the nose showing off some porcini and roasted herbs under black currant and fig fruit. Shows a hint of apricot and is topped with all sorts of licorice, mint and rosemary nuances. Not much there on entry, rather light weight if fresh with low, slow to emerge slightly dried red plum, red currant and dried cranberry flavors. There’s a nice if subtle core of fruit but nothing to match the aromatics. A tinge of orange oil that appears on the nose returns on the palate and the finish, which is soft and caressing with lingering red fruit notes. This is not a wine that is going to knock you out but it does have a lot going for it. Restraint, balance and an appealingly soft texture. 90pts

2007 Troon Vineyard Old Vine Meritage Applegate Valley, OR 13.5% $32
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot

This is intense and bright with lots of fine green herb notes, tarragon, and fennel seed all wrapped around orange washed red fruits all sitting on a freshly chopped pine tree stump in the rain. Rich and bright, this is youthfully vibrant with a lovely base of tannins and fine acidity lending the wine a firm yet fresh feel. The fruit is a touch behind the wood today, with red plum, sour cherry, and a hint of blueberry that extends over the finish with fine detail and clarity. This is a tense, vibrant wine new world in flavor old world in feel. It stumbles a touch on the finish but this might just need time to grow into itself. 90pts

2009 Mounts Assembly Red Wine Dry Creek Valley 14.5% $NA
45% Cabernet Franc, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Syrah, 4% Malbec

This has some nice toasty notes on the nose but the Syrah seems to really be sticking out with huckleberry fruit, violets, juniper and a wiry herbal element dominating the attractive aromatics. A touch chewy on the palate, this is smooth and dark with early notes of licorice and bitter chocolate wrapping around a lovey wild berry core of fruit. There’s a touch of juniper here along with sour plum all supported by a nice soft tannin base and a little coffee on the moderately long finish, which ends with some floral highlights. A little plump and fresh this straddles the line between fun and interesting. 90pts

2008 Chappellet Mountain Cuvee Napa Valley 14.5% $30
52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc

Dark and deep with bitter cocoa notes adding detail to some orchard fruit and black fruit, all framed by slightly peppery oak. This is a touch thick and rich and yet it is quite firm. It is classic California with the fruit being round and almost opulent and revealing slightly jammy blackberry flavors, with gentle hints of mint, herbs, earth and mineral adding some complexity. The texture is quite fine, firm and a little tense, yet not really drying or oppressive. The fruit is youthful and tight but obvious with a fine persistence. A bit gangly today, this has obvious potential but is already enjoyable. 90pts

2009 Owen Roe Yakima Valley Red Wine 14.6% $40
59% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon,

This is very pretty on the nose with a little caramel accenting the fudgy undertones and bright red berry and apple-toned fruit. There’s a nice underlying spice here and some violet pastille notes all adding detail. Bright if a little small scaled on entry, this shows lovely freshness and a real brightness to the fruit. The oak pops a bit on the back end before receding to reveal wild raspberry and slightly jammy spiced plums that work well with the light dose of wood spice here. Everything is rather well balanced and fresh, with the dried prunes and spice really hanging on the back end. Not super complex but a wine with focus and energy on the palate. 90pts