Wine Picks

Winebow, an importer and distributor based in Montvale, NJ, has one of the bigger portfolio tastings in the fall. Here are some of my favorites at this year’s tasting in September.

California has been getting a lot of press about its 2009 Pinot Noir vintage. But Oregon’s 2009 Pinots are no slouches.

  • Chehalem 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 ($27). From one of the better Oregon producers (and not just of Pinot Noir) comes light to medium bodied wine with lovely cherry aromas and ripe fruit flavors.
  • Chehalem Ridgecrest Pinot Noir 2008 ($44). A deeper, darker and more intense wine than the 3 Vineyard. Still that luscious fruit but this wine has much broader shoulders.
  • Adelsheim  Vineyard Pinot Noir, Elizabeth’s Reserve 2009 ($48). Absolutely wonderful perfume of cherries, raspberries and strawberries and delicious ripeness on the palate with good structure to back it up.
  • Dobbes Family Estates Pinot Noir, Grand Assemblage 2009 ($28). Strawberry/raspberry nose with some meaty notes and good acidity. Light on its feet but big enough to stand up to heavier food.

And from Oregon’s northern neighbor…

  • Mercer Wine Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($24). Ripe and full-flavored with good balance.Nicely done.
  • Mercer Wine Estates Merlot 2008 ($24). A meaty and rich wine but not heavy.

How about some California Zinfandel? And who better than Seghesio?

  • Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2009 ($24). A classic Sonoma Zin. Ripe, fresh and spicy.
  • Seghesio Old Vines Zinfandel 2009 ($36). A bigger, meatier wine with earthy notes.
  • Seghesio Zinfandel Rockpile 2009 ($36). A leaner, more structured wine with more minerality. (Those rocks, I guess.)
  • Seghesio Venom 2007 ($51). So named because the grapes come from a vineyard on Rattlesnake Hill, this 100 percent Sangiovese has good ripeness but doesn’t scream California fruit. Indeed, it’s on the lean side with good acidity and balance, what you’d expect in a good Chianti. The problem is a comparable Chianti Classico can be had for half the price.

Castle Rock Winery casts a wide net in producing good value wines from grapes in a variety of appellations in California and Oregon.

  • Castle Rock Lake County Petite Sirah 2009 ($15). This wine may not appeal to Petite purists because it’s the lightest, leanest Petite I’ve ever tasted. Still, it’s delicious with plenty of ripe fruit and some meatiness.
  • Castle Rock Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($19). Ripe and meaty. A good everyday drinking Cab.

We finish our West Coast swing with Neyers Vineyards, which makes a variety of good wines, especially Rhone varietals.

  • Neyers Sage Canyon Red 2010  ($22). This mix of 50% Carignane, 20% each of Grenache and Mourvedre and 5% each of Syrah and Alicante Bouschet is meaty and dark, showing good Rhone qualities, much like a first-rate Cotes du Rhone.

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