The Dozen Vol. 26 No. 10

The Dozen – High Rollers

A "rare" Rare Champagne and some serious California reds top the list.


Most issues of The Dozen have more inexpensive wines than pricey ones – and this one has some affordable ones, too. But if, as a drinker or collector, you like to sample wines whose rating scores regularly are in the 90s, read on.

2021 Anaba “Turbine White” Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($34). Full-bodied yet somewhat lean in structure with juicy flavors of apple, quince, and pineapple with a hint of vanilla and other spices and a very long finish.

2012 Rare Champagne Rosé ($499). “Rare” is a brand spinoff of the Charles Heidsieck house and is only vintage-produced. This one, to be released in the next few weeks, is a big, assertive, delicious Champagne that opens with aromas and flavors of dried apricots followed by pineapples, a hint of cream, and a very satisfying finish. While a wine of this price is usually savored solo, it would really show off buttery pastry-based hors d’oeuvres.

2018 Nestore Bosco Montepulciano d’Abbruzo ($12). Nice rounded cherry flavors with good volume and acidity with bitters at the edges.

2018 Beronia Rioja Crianza ($15). Lightly tangy cherry fruit with some savory undertones well-blended in.

2020 Caldora Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($15). Peppery nose and flavors, lightly tangy with rich cherry and berry fruits and lots of savory notes with a lightly raspy finish.

2021 Flat Top Hills California Pinot Noir ($17). Bright, clean, and lean with good berry flavors.

2019 Ritual Casablanca Valley Pinot Noir ($21). Very nice for the price, with juicy berries and cherries (and some dried ones mixed in) and a rich finish.

2019 Murrieta’s Well “The Spur” Livermore Valley Red Wine ($40). Aggressive in a good way, this Cab-dominated (70%) blend has both creamy and dark berry flavors with some tastes of lean bacon in the finish.

2020 Murrieta’s Well “Sachau Vineyard” Livermore Valley Merlot ($60). A beef wine – not complex, but still satisfying with blackberry flavors and some earthy tones with good structure.

2020 Murrieta’s Well “Zarzuela” Livermore Valley Red ($75). An excellent – and quite complex – blend of Iberian grapes (Touriga, Tempranillo, Souzão), ripe cherry flavors, savory and floral hints, and well-integrated barrel notes. Great to drink now or age.

2016 Gamble Family “Family Home” Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon ($130). Very concentrated blackberries and other dark fruits, a little tangy and quite big – should be decanted for it to round out.

2017 Gamble Family “Cairo” Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon ($140). Big, rich, and complex, with a blend of rich black and red berry flavors and an elegance not typical in such large wines.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from As more wineries are now shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.

Feature photo: Murrieta’s Well

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