From the Left Side of the Balcony: The Survey Says
The verdict is in on Northern California's best politically correct wines.
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Fetzer, 2014 Shaly Loam Gewürztraminer, $9
Late-harvest Gewürztraminer, nutty flavors with a long finish. Fetzer reuses 100 percent of wastewater, composts all grape waste, and solar power generates all electricity at its Hopland winery.
Balletto, 2013 RRV Pinot Noir, $29
Fresh, clean with a good palate. Big nose with charming, fruit-forward taste.
Scheid, 2014 District 7 Pinot Noir, $17
Modest nose and big mouth. Lots of fruits but not too woody. Leathery mouth. A good Pinot Noir has flavors of leather from the proper aging of tannins in the barrels.
MERLOT — $9-$25
Bonterra 2013 Merlot, Mendocino County, $16
Modest nose. Savory fruit flavors, well-balanced. Great potential if cellared for 10 years. It really tastes like a fine wine. In my opinion, an excellent wine for the price. Bonterra is the largest U.S. producer of wine made with organic grapes.
Anthony's Hill, NV Merlot, California, 1.5 liter, $11
A simple, austere wine. Intensely varietal with fruity flavor. Tastes like a Merlot should. In my opinion, a real bargain at this price.
MERLOT — $26-$50
Trefethen, 2012 Merlot, $40
Austere, fruity nose. Nice flavors and good tannins. Modest in the mouth.
St. Supery, 2012 Rutherford Estate Merlot, $50
Intense with a big, rich quality. Nice fruit and appropriate tannins.
Bonterra 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, $16
Well-balanced with light fruit flavors. Gritty with hints of black currant.
Fetzer, 2014 Valley Oaks Cabernet, $9
Pleasant and fresh taste. I think it's an excellent wine for the price.
Paul Dolan Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, $20
Fresh with a good cabernet identity. Clean, young wine. Very silky.
Scheid, 2014 Ranch 32 Cabernet Sauvignon, $20
Big cabernet identity; lots of young fruit. Not well-balanced. A well-balanced wine produces harmony between the fruit, tannins and acidity.)
Paul Dolan Vineyards 2014 Zinfandel, $15
Potpourri nose and big mouth. Tangy acidity with modest tannins. Powerful and out there! Excellent wine at an affordable price.
St. Supery, 2012 Petit Verdot, $50
Intense, full-fruit flavors. Pleasing balance with soft finish. One judge said, "I'd buy that wine."
Editor's Note: This story appears in the June edition of our sister publication, The East Bay Monthly.