California Dreamin': A Look at 10 New California Wines (Slideshow)
2007 Harmonique "Elegancé" Anderson Valley pinot noir ($36). Bright cherry flavors that are very long on the palate with a hint of cola, the richness of mushrooms, and light, defining tannins. Quite nice.
2007 Harmonique "Delicacé" Anderson Valley pinot noir ($44) Similar flavors to the previous wine, but a lighter, sweet-fruit presentation with some caramelizing notes at the finish.
2007 Harmonique "The Noble One" Anderson Valley pinot noir ($39). Ripe and rich. Not as long on the palate as Elegancé, but richer and a little bolder. There are also some dried-spice, savory taste in the finish. My Pick of the Litter.
2008 Harmonique Anderson Valley un-oaked chardonnay ($40). Although I loved the pinots, this chard was less appealing to me, though it has its place. Bright, fruity, sweet-apple and melon flavors slightly oxidized. If I were to pair it, it would be with something salty-sweet such as prosciutto and melon.
2010 Cultivate "Dream Walking" California chardonnay ($20). Well-made — fruity (apples and fresh figs), good minerality, balanced, but not crisp in its finish. It does, however, have nice, tart, apple-skin notes around the edges. A good food wine.
2010 Cultivate "The Feast" California red wine ($23). As with Dream Walking, this one has a name and a label which would help a browsing consumer choose it. And it wouldn’t be a bad choice — ripe and rounded dark cherry flavors, warm woody notes, mild tannins. Not complex, but smooth drinking.
2012 Mandolin Monterey chardonnay ($12). Soft, creamy, lightly sweet, firm-apple flavors with lots of cloves and baking spices in the finish. A charmer, but don’t look too deeply.
2012 Mandolin Monterey pinot noir ($13). A light wine, but still somewhat tight, so let it breathe a little. Cherry/cola flavors with a hint of smokiness.
2011 Mount Veeder Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon ($35). This is one of those controversial cabs I mention from time to time — it has some stemmy, herbal notes that were once common in Bordeaux and are part of the cab DNA. Drinkers and the wine press either love (me) or hate (them) that characteristic. That aside, it has quite nice currant flavors and firm tannins and is well-balanced.
2012 Truchard Carneros chardonnay ($24). Fairly oaky and toasty in a good way with pleasant fruitiness. Nice, but it won’t wow with its complexity.