The Dozen Vol. 26 No. 10

The Dozen – High Rollers

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

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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 wine-searcher.com. 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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