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Wines Worth Seeking Out

2010 Lee Family Farm Rio Tinto

I had no idea what I was in for with this bottle but since it was from the folks at Morgan Vineyard in California, I figured it would work out okay. Okay, indeed— this is a really interesting bottle of wine for about $15.00. Made from traditional Port varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca and Alvarelhao, it's loaded with cherry, red currant and spice flavors. It's round on the palate with good mouth feel, nicely honed tannins and lingering fruit flavors. It's a fruit bomb that shows some restraint, I'm glad I took a chance and poured a glass.

2008 Domaine les Pallières Gigondas Terrasse du Diable

The word Gigondas (jhee gohn dahs) makes me so happy, I feel très français every time it rolls off my tongue (and the wine isn't too bad, either). It's a Southern Rhone blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Clairette. The Brunier brothers, of Vieux Telegraphe fame, and Kermit Lynch bought Les Pallieres in 1998 and the vineyard, operating since the 15th century, is producing some lovely wine.  It's a deep red in the glass with aromas of red berries, dried fig and pepper. It's definitely full-bodied with a vibrant mineral quality and lively acidity. While it was a good bottle of wine now, I'm keeping my last bottle in the cellar (okay, my basement behind the mountain range of clothes) for a couple of years. I know it's going to knock my socks off with a few more years under its belt.

Locations By Dave Phinney F1 Proprietary Red Blend France

When I read Dave Phinney, the mastermind behind The Prisoner and Saldo, had a new wine venture— I knew I had to get my hands on a few bottles. He had an epiphany at an airport— why not make a wine showcasing the best grapes each country has to offer and label the bottle with the country code bumper sticker? He's a smart guy and a brilliant winemaker. This bottle is a blend of Roussillon Grenache, Rhone Syrah and a few Bordeaux varieties (like Cabernet Franc). It's a solid, fruit forward bottle of wine with nice spice, soft tannins and a little oak. Not too terribly complex but it's an easy drinking wine with a nice, clean finish. For about $16.00, you can't go wrong and I suspect you'll be pleased when you take your first sip.

2010 Tons de Duorum Red Blend

Made from a blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz (like the Lee Family Farm Rio Tinto), this wine is from the Douro region of Portugal. There are lots of fresh aromas of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and prunes off-set by well-balanced acidity and soft and ripe tannins. Port-like in its rich fruit, this is a young and vibrant wine, full of red berries and sweet tannins. It's a very well made wine for $15.00 and one I'm going to have around the house on a regular basis.

2008 The Mariner Dry Creek Vineyard

This is a splurge wine and it's worth every penny. It's a very dark ruby color with ripe and dried berry, currant, cedar and tobacco notes right out of the bottle. The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc translates to an elegant and seamless experience on the palate with a core of juicy black fruit, chocolate, black plums, cassis, black and red cherry, black tea, vanilla and spice. The tannins are smooth and polished, providing wonderful structure and balance in the wine. Wine Spectator decided this wine deserved 91 points and I have to agree, it's that good.