names quite a number of local wineries.
- 2006 Alma Rosa El Jabali Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay ($30) Richard Sanford shows his longtime talents with this lavish, ripe single-vineyard Chardonnay.
- 2006 Epiphany Cellars Camp Four Vineyard Santa Barbara County Grenache Blanc ($23) From an offshoot label of Los Olivos' Fess Parker Winery comes another terrific vintage of this versatile Rhone grape.
- 2006 Kenneth Volk Santa Maria Cuvee Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir ($26) We enjoyed several of his 2006 Pinots, but this blend was especially winning for its lighter food-friendly profile and approachability.
- 2006 Rusack Vineyards Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir ($36) Again, John and Helen Falcone find the right mix of fresh fruit and earthy depth in Rusack's mainline bottling.
- 2006 Tablas Creek Vineyard Cotes de Tablas Red ($25) The Paso Robles focal point of American Rhone varietals had a solid '06 lineup, but its more affordable Grenache-dominant red in particular seemed to overperform.
- 2005 Presidio Artistic License Presidio Vineyard Santa Barbara County Syrah ($39) Douglas Braun's certified biodynamic vineyard just outside the Sta. Rita Hills appellation again shows its extraordinary potential for aromatic Syrah.
- 2005 Star Lane Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($50) Former Missouri banker Jim Dierberg's project in Happy Canyon is setting a high standard for Central Coast Cabernet, with help from winemaker Nick de Luca and consultant David Ramey.
- 2006 Kunin Pape Star Central Coast Red Wine ($18) At a time when Rhone-style California wines seem to come with Chateauneuf-like price tags, Seth Kunin's tribute to that famed appellation remains a terrific find.
- 2006 Palmina Honea Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley Barbera ($40) In Lompoc's wine ghetto, Steve and Chrystal Clifton have committed themselves to Italian varietals like few have in California. Honea is essentially their estate plot, and this latest Barbera is as exotic as it is compelling.
Labels: Wine, Wine Country