SIMI Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Alexander Valley
This shows a surprisingly high-toned nose, with super-ripe and roasted green bell peppers, a passing whiff of wild mint and licorice, and lots of currants. Its youth is apparent on the palate, where it’s still tightly wound and not showing all that it ultimately will. For now, there’s coffee grounds, as well as a creaminess that carries within it intimations of tiny wild strawberries, raspberries, brambly fruit, and wild herbs, with a hint of fennel on the finish. There’s lots of potential here; let it evolve for another 2 or 3 years, and then enjoy it for 4 - 6 after that, when it should really come into its own. The acid and tannins will allow it to age well. Subtle, with great structure.
Quivira Vineyards and Winery Zinfandel 2008, Dry Creek Valley
The nose here explodes with a deep, ripe bowlful of summertime berries: Blackberries, black raspberries, and wonderfully evocative strawberries. There’s some peppercorn spice too, but this wine’s story centers on its density of fruit. All that fruit, in fact, follows through to the palate, where it manifests itself with a sweetness, as well as a hint of cherries reduced with a splash of balsamic, that’s addictive. Lush mouthfeel, with subtly dusty tannins that serve as excellent and successful foils to the glycerin-like slipperiness. This is a wine that manages to be both fun and serious at the same time. Drink now, with barbecue or a burger.
Ehlers Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2009, St. Helena, Napa Valley
There’s an earthy, almost mushroom-referencing note to the nose here: Unusual, unexpected, and intriguing. With air, this refines itself into fruit in the clementine family, and there’s an almost fresh-herb-and-spun-sugar perfume to it that makes the aroma a lovely analog for summertime, no matter when you’re drinking this. The palate is much more acidic and tightly wound than the nose implies: This is a sauvignon blanc for the cellar. Flavors of slate, lemon, and something lanolin-like linger on the finish, and promise a wine of both serious potential and intense food-pairability. Loire-like in profile; tasted blind, I’d think Sancerre more than Napa. Excellent. 4 - 6 years.
Waterstone Merlot 2007, Napa Valley
Lots of juicy plum and berry aromas jump from the glass here, an almost light-bodied, relatively high-toned mixed-berry composition kicked up with shiso, if such a thing exists. The palate is still tight and not showing much fruit right now beyond a subtle hint of cherry, though in time more cherry, tea, colorado-wrapper cigar, as well as more tarragon and shiso flavors, should express themselves nicely. Restrained style, and a nod in the direction of Napa’s potential for subtler reds. 3 - 7 years.
Cupcake Vineyards Riesling 2009, Columbia Valley
The nose here is defined by its soft peach and orange blossom notes, a summery combination that implies sweetness but doesn’t force the issue. On the palate, those peaches are joined by tart apples, a touch of grapefruit and minerals, and a hint of the kind of petrol note that defines accurate Rieslings all over the place. Pleasant, straightforward, and a nice accompaniment to spicy dishes. Drink now.
Clos du Bois Pinot Noir 2008, North Coast
There’s nice lift to the spicy cherry and kirsch of this wine’s nose, an expressiveness that people who haven’t tasted Clos du Bois lately might not expect. Those cherries follow through to the palate, where they’re joined by mushrooms and a smoky mesquite finish that adds depth and a nice grounding to the fruit. Drinking well right now.