I’m trying to stick to this Monday night routine of reviewing my recently consumed wines. It’s much easier than doing a review here and there. I make some notes for myself, do a little research, and then save it on computer.

I have four wines in this group that all rate Recommended or Highly recommended. The fourth wine will be at the top of my scale, but will be a little tougher to find.

Left Foot Charley 2009 Pinot Blanc – Simply, the best white wine I’ve had in weeks, maybe months. I picked this bottle up during a summer 2010 trip to Michigan. Left Foot Charley is a funky urban winery set in an old mental institution at Traverse City. Could I make this stuff up?

They make a rockin Pinot Blanc. I was blown away when I tasted it and again this weekend when I opened the bottle I brought home with me.

It was pears and green apples and beautifully made dry white wine. I love the balance of mild fruit and bold but still balanced acidity. It also has a beautiful nose for a dry white wine.

A 2006 version of this wine won Michigan Wine and Spirits’ competition best dry white wine award. The grapes come from the penninsula and are often narrowed down to just one acre for this wine. It comes in at a low 12 percent alcohol.

Only 200 cases of this was produced. Michigan wines are distributed in most surrounding states. Look for Left Foot Charley Pinot Blanc and their beautiful Rieslings. If you can’t find LFC, take a chance on any Michigan Riesling. Michigan has been one of the most exciting discoveries during my three years of wine writing.

Gulliver 2008 Bordeaux – This very direct, simple Bordeaux wine is quite quaffable. It drinks easy and smooth.

The fruit is barely discernable and the finish is pretty short. But dont’ get me wrong, it’s very drinkable. It’s probably a great choice to serve new wine drinkers. And the bonus is that you can tell them they’re drinking Bordeaux. It’s inexpensive, very balanced, and pleasant.

But if you’re looking for much more you won’t find it in the Gulliver. This is good table wine.

(Gulliver 2008 Bordeaux, $11-$13, Recommended)

Clautiere 2004 Estate Mon Rouge – Wow! Clautiere Vineyards and Winery delivers a gorgeous Rhone blend of 52 percent Syrah, 25 percent Counoise, 18 percent Grenache, and 5 percent Mourvedre.

Clautiere is known for its crazy tasting room – wigs provided for everyone who enters and a purple decor. But Terry Brady’s winemaking is what really will turn visitor’s heads.

This wine had a rich dark cherry flavor that was classically smooth. The richness from the blend made it drinkable alone and with some beef I’d prepared. Clautiere is a small-production winery and you wont’ find the wines easily. When I first opened this bottle I noticed the alcohol, at 15.3 percent. But as it opened up the burn went away.

Paso Robles is making a name for itself in the Rhone varietals. This is a fabulous example. Look for Clautiere, if you can find it. Don’t hesitate to pick up any Paso Robles Rhone blend.

(Clautiere 2004 Estate Mon Rouge, $25, Highly Recommended)

Powers Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Reserve – Washington State wines seem to get more pub by the moment. But if you haven’t tried big reds from the great Northwest, you are really missing out.

Powers is one of the state’s oldest producers. This is classic Cabernet that gets 26 months in oak and has huge rich flavor. This is beautiful dark fruit with maybe a hint of floral characteristics. You will not believe this spent two years in oak.

It’s a big, strong, beautiful Cabernet. Powers also makes a Columbia Valley Cab in the $12 range. If you haven’t explored Washington’s reds, this is a great place to start.

(Powers 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, $19.99-$25, Highly Recommended)

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com

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