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Back to work – And what great work to have


Late July finds me wayward in my regular weekly wine reviews. After a couple of weeks away from the computer, it’s time to catch up.

Estancia Pinnacles Ranch Monterrey County 2010 Chardonnay – (sample) Grown in the cool climate and sandy soils of Monterrey County gives this luscious, mouth-filling Chardonnay a ripe, creamy intensity with bright notes of tropical fruit, lemon and vanilla and a lingering finish. The oak is noticeable but additive, not overwhelming. $15.

Round Pond Estate 2011 Sauvignon Blanc – (sample). I’m about to capitulate and admit the Rutherford AVA of the  mid-Napa Valley (just north of Oakville) is my favorite winemaking region in northern California. Much of that  favoritism can be blamed on the shipment of Round Pond Estate wines I recently received.


Round Pond Estate 2009 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

The Round Pond Estate 2011 Sauvignon Blanc is a classic of this wonderful summer varietal: non-oaked, crisp acidity, flavors of citrus, floral and (I live in Colorado’s peach country) white peaches with a hint of apricots. 100 percent stainless steel, with a stone-minerality finish. Don’t serve it too cold; the wine develops multiple layers of flavors as it warms a bit. Winemaker Brian Brown said: “My goal with this wine is to transfer the fruit from the vineyard directly into the wine glass. Essence of white peaches in a glass.” $20-$24.

Round Hill Estate 2009 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon – It’s not that I have a bias against most California cabs, it’s just, well, maybe I do. Often too oaky, too jammy, too much in-your-face (for that I’ll watch Fox News). But the well-composed Round Pond 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon had me thinking of Spain, not northern California. Hints of Spanish lavendar, leather and dark chocolate open to stone graphite and dark fruits, and memories of rainy days in Rioja. $50

Round Hill Estates 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – Call this the little brother to the pricier and more-complex Estate cab reviewed above. The Napa Valley version, based on Round Hill estate fruit and augmented by grapes sourced from trusted growers around the valley, is aged in second-year oak to allow the dark fruit flavors to shine through. Well-balanced, very drinkable now (I did, and it is), this is one little brother you’ll want to adopt. $30.

Nobilo Icon 2010 Marlborough Pinot Noir – This award-winning winery on the north end of New Zealand’s South Island was founded in 1934 by Croatian immigrant Nikola Nobilo, the scion of a family with 300 years of winemaking experience.

Grapes are sourced from vineyards across the Marlborough region, which is renowned for its cool-climate varietals, notably pinot noir and sauvignon blanc. The Nobilo Icon 2010 Marlborough Pinot Noir offers a classic profile of pinot noir, with textures of dark berries, chocolate and mocha adrift in silky tannins and lifted by a hint of smoky peat. It was perfect served slightly chilled with a barbecue of planked salmon and fresh sweet corn. It was equally delightful by itself. $22.

Nobilo Icon 2011 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – (sample). These two Nobilo Icon wines were my first encounter with this 78-year old winery and they made me wonder which turnip truck I’ve been riding in. To say I was delighted and amazed isn’t enough; the wines were the standouts of the week and had my guests wondering aloud why I suspiciously was scrimping (I mean, serving) one bottle of each.

The Nobilo Icon 2011 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc offered notes of crisp tropical fruit (pineapple, guava) and grapefuit. Complex and rich with hints of stony minerality and a bit of the sea. Again, avoid serving this sauvignon blanc too cold, as it develops richness and character with slight chilling. $22.

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