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My biggest downfall in maintaining a blog is getting wine reviews written. I prefer telling stories but the utility of at least quick thoughts on some good wines I’ve recently consumed seems like a part of the job I should NOT ignore..

I taste so much outstanding wine this summer the idea of reviewing some of the things I’ve sipped at home slips to the “I really need to do that” level and not get done.

So here we go! Some recent nice-drinking wines.

Grey PinoVentisquero Grey 2012 Pinot Noir – This was a nice surprise from Chile. Much of the Chilean Pinot Noir I’ve previously consumed had that nagging vegetal or green pepper hint that was not predominant in this wine. I liked its earthiness and sort of a damp wood quality. That make sense?

It’s so hard to find drinkable good Pinot under $20-$25 but this fits the category. It has a little spice, nice acidity and ultimately a very drinkable glass of wine.

Ventisquero Grey 2012 Pinot Noir, average price around $20, Recommended.

MiraMira 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet – Wow, this is good wine. I tasted a lot of bottles at a higher price point during my 10 days in Calfornia last month but only a few were better than this one.

The nifty blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Syrah worked well. That Cab Franc and Syrah gave the wine a nice rich and round mouth feel.

This wine had great balance and a perfect Cab finish – I got the tannins, sensed the oak but it was in balance with the nice Cabernet flavor.

Mira 2010 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, SRP $52 – but found online as low as $39, Highly Recommended.

Owen Roe 2010 Ex Umbris Syrah – This Columbia Valley Syrah, from one of the grape’s best producers, was extraordinary wine. It should be noted the ’09 vintage of this wine made Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 list.

owen_roe_ex_umbris_label__13161_stdI had tasted Roe’s value label Syrah – Lenore – around $17 so had to step up to this bottle at about twice the price. I wasn’t blown away but thought it was so much better than many West Coast Syrah offerings. It was tad thinner than I expected but did have lovely fruit and nice balance.

It had a very identifiable richness or velvety feel in the mouth. I’m a sucker for that type of experience every time. It’s just very well made wine. This wine got 90 points from Wine Spectator and Stephen Tanzer.

Owen Roe 2010 Ex Umbris Syrah, $29, Highly Recommended.

Cesar Toxqui 2005 Mendocino Zinfandel – I had the pleasure of sitting with Cesar Toxqui at a dinner in Mendocino, Ca., in 2011. He has a fascinating story of growing up in the wine business and worked his way up to his own label.

CesarLabelHe was working still then with a member of the Fetzer family at Jeriko Estate wines but aching to do more with his own label. We tasted a couple of his wines at dinner and I really was taken with his Zinfandel. Zin is a bit of a calling card for Mendocino producers.

I thought the wine had great fruit, depth, and finish. I had held onto this one since that trip and it was worth the wait. He is a very small production winery so finding it would be a big challenge. Still, it continues to reinforce my continuing theme of look for the small producers to find big surprises and great wine.

Cesar Toxqui 2005 Mendocino Zinfandel, around $25 (from memory), Very Highly Recommended – if you can find it.

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