12 California Reds, Whites and Rosés

12 California Reds, Whites and Rosés
New reviews of outstanding Merlot and Chardonnay, plus crowd-pleasing rosés and diverse whites

MaryAnn Worobiec
Posted: June 27, 2011

3 Share Tasting Highlights bring the best of the past week’s tastings of California wines to WineSpectator.com members.

This week's Independence Day-inspired report features recently reviewed wines for summer celebrations. There are a couple of splurges and plenty of values to pick from.

On the splurge side, consider the Delectus Merlot Napa Valley 2007, which is a dense, concentrated wine whose charred oak flavors would complement barbecued meats. The Lynmar Chardonnay on this list is for Chardonnay lovers, this bottling a wonderful example of a crisp, clean style with plenty of mineral notes. White wine lovers who want independence from popular varietals like Chardonnay should look to the La Diligence Marsanne and the Chalk Hill Sauvignon Gris.

On the value side of things, there are some terrific finds that are better-suited toward large groups and picnics. The Bogle Petite Sirah, Frei Brothers Merlot and Martin Ray Merlot are all terrific reds from consistent producers. The Bogle and the Frei Brothers bottlings in particular are made in large quantities and should be easy to find.

The ultimate hot weather, food-friendly, easy-drinking wines are rosés, and here are some great suggestions from Bonny Doon, Fort Ross, Margerum, Hey Mambo and Tolosa.


DELECTUS Merlot Napa Valley 2007 Score: 90 | $50
Dense and tightly wound, with currant and herb aromas and complex, almost chewy, blackberry, cedar and highly charred oak flavors. Needs time to tame. Best from 2013 through 2017. 450 cases made. Red. —T.F.


LA DILIGENCE Marsanne Napa Valley Stagecoach Vineyard 2009 Score: 90 | $38
Smooth and round, without any edges to the ripe pear, nectarine and fig flavors, showing plenty of elegance and mouthfilling aromatics of baking spices, with hints of smoke. Harmonious and silky. Softly elegant. Drink now. 423 cases made. White. —M.W.


LYNMAR Chardonnay Russian River Valley La Sereinité 2009 Score: 90 | $70
Pure, clean and focused on a lively beam of green apple, citrus, lime and mineral flavors. Medium- to full-bodied, this is impressive for its vibrant acidity. Drink now through 2016. 230 cases made. White. —J.L.


CHALK HILL Sauvignon Gris Chalk Hill 2009 Score: 89 | $40
There's a juicy, fleshy apricot, peach and nectarine core to this wine, with details of smoke, flowers and hazelnut. Rich and aromatic, echoing on the long finish. Drink now. 281 cases made. White. —M.W.


BOGLE Petite Sirah California 2008 Score: 88 | $11
A fragrant, floral version of Petite, with firm but smooth tannins and a core of ripe blueberry and boysenberry flavors that show violet, black licorice and spice details. Drink now through 2019. 200,000 cases made. Red. —M.W.


BONNY DOON Vin Gris de Cigare Central Coast 2010 Score: 88 | $15
Full of zesty strawberry and vanilla cream flavors that balance a hint of sweetness with good acidity. Grenache, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Mourvèdre. Drink now. 3,298 cases made. Rosé. —T.F.


FORT ROSS Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Rosé Fort Ross Vineyard 2010 Score: 88 | $15
With an almost neon pink hue, this rosé offers zesty raspberry and smoke flavors, with notes strawberry and white pepper. Drink now. 225 cases made. Rosé. —T.F.


FREI BROTHERS Merlot Dry Creek Valley Reserve 2008 Score: 88 | $20
Nicely focused and structured, with appealing black currant and mineral aromas and complex plum, anise and cedar flavors that finish with firm tannins. Drink now through 2016. 27,300 cases made. Red. —T.F.


MARGERUM Rosé Santa Ynez Valley 2010 Score: 88 | $21
A bold and jammy rosé, with a vivid pink hue and floral raspberry aromas that lead to flavors of strawberry and white chocolate. Grenache. Drink now. 182 cases made. Rosé. —T.F.


MARTIN RAY Merlot Napa Valley 2009 Score: 88 | $20
Supple and easy to like, with appealing black cherry, toasty vanilla and dried herb notes. Drink now. 1,300 cases made. Red. —T.F.


HEY MAMBO Rosé Kinky Pink California 2010 Score: 87 | $12
Soft and juicy, with modest raspberry and spicy vanilla flavors. Pinot Noir and Chenin Blanc. Drink now. 1,900 cases made. Rosé. —T.F.


TOLOSA Grenache Edna Valley Rosé Edna Ranch 2010 Score: 87 | $18
Crisp and lively, with a soft pink hue and notes of watermelon and strawberry. Drink now. 279 cases made. Rosé. —T.F.

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