New Releases: Baker's Dozen Of Red Wines From California

As new releases come out before the end of the year, there has been a virtual flood of red wine from California just in time for holiday drinking.

Following a large batch of reds reviewed a couple of weeks ago, here are 13 more, and there are additional bottles from Robert Mondavi and Cakebread in my wines-in-waiting rack, all primed for corks to be pulled.

More or less in the order tasted, here is a baker's dozen:

2010 Wild Horse Central Coast merlot ($19). Simple but satisfying — tart cherry flavors, a hint of chalkiness, mild tannins.

2010 Wild Horse Central Coast cabernet sauvignon ($20). A bacon cheeseburger wine — pastel fruit, lean, leathery, minerally, not long on palate.

2010 Frank Family Napa Valley zinfandel ($32). Just a lovely wine — rounded berry flavors of dark, marinated Bing cherries, mild oak, and tannins.

2009 Dry Creek Vineyards Dry Creek cabernet sauvignon ($21). A mellow wine that features a soft creaminess, lightly savory notes, dark cherries, although it is a little light on acid.  Could be mistaken for a regional margaux.

2009 Fritz Dry Creek cabernet sauvignon ($36). Nice wine — dark cherries, but mainly savory flavors with some hints of pencil lead. Mild tannins.

2009 Kokomo "Ruth's Vineyard" Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon ($38). This big wine has dark, concentrated flavors of currants and elderberries and lots of tannins. Still quite tight, needing time to open up.

2009 Charles Krug Napa Valley "Generations" ($44). An excellent wine, mainly cabernet, dominated by creamy raspberry and ripe blackberry tastes. Very smooth with some savory touches and dark-chocolate tannins at the end. A great sipping wine.

2009 Charles Krug Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon ($23). Can we say "Starbucks?" I've seldom tasted a wine with such ultra-mocha flavors. It has an underlay of blueberries and chalkiness and mild chocolate tannins.

2009 Charles Krug Napa Valley merlot ($19). Big and full, with smooth purple fruit, some toffee from the oak and chocolate in the finish.

2009 Grgich Hills Napa Valley zinfandel ($32). Big flavors of cherry and cranberry, some lean bacon, and lots of tannins. It's also a biodynamic wine, Demeter certified.

2008 Cakebread Cellars "Dancing Bear Ranch" Howell Mountain cabernet sauvignon ($107). The fruit is really quite remarkable and distinctive — very ripe with a lot of elderberry and blackberry notes, rounded and with good intensity yet not "big" or heavy. It has a hint of more-than-normal sweetness, and the tannins are substantial but quite integrated.

2010 Double Decker California red blend ($12). From Wente, a mix of cab sauv, petite sirah, and barbera that has bright fruit of blackberries and raspberries with good acidity, yet a little jammy in the finish.

2010 Murrieta's Well The Spur Livermore Valley red wine ($25). Also from Wente, a Bordeaux blend that is appropriately savory and lean, just a tad thin, yet quite enjoyable with a dusty raspiness that one generally gets from Italian sangioveses.