10 lovely US wines with dinner at Willi's Wine Bar

Some very nice wines at Willi’s Wine Bar here in Santa Rosa last night. It’s an interesting place: they offer wine in a range of measures, including 2 oz tasting pours, which makes it possible to try quite a number over the course of an evening. Our 2 oz pours seemed quite generous, with more than enough simply to taste the wine. The food – tapas style – was really good, including some sensational bone marrow.

Margerum Chenin Blanc 2008 Santa Ynez Valley, California
A small production (3180 bottles) Chenin from Douglas Margerum. This is quite deep coloured with real personality: it tastes like Chenin. Powerful, lively and citrussy with pronounced apple and pear fruit, as well as some nutty, oxidative notes. Very distinctive with high acidity and hints of tannic structure. I like it, but others may find it too extreme. 90/100

Ramey Chardonnay 2008 Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Taut, nutty and toasty with nice freshness and appealing citrus fruit. Taut palate is savoury and fresh with good acidity, citrus freshness and subtle toastiness. 92/100

Kistler ‘Les Noisettes’ Chardonnay 2008 Sonoma Mountain, California
Fresh and focused with some breadth. Subtle toast notes as well as a hint of bready richness. But the theme here is precision and freshness. 91/100

Beaux Frères Pinot Noir ‘Les Cousins’ 2009 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Lovely stuff. Pale and aromatic with sweet cherry fruit and some sappy green notes. Sweet and seductive with spicy cherry fruit the key theme. 92/100

Freestone Pinot Noir 2007 Sonoma Coast, California
Dense, rich and spicy with dark cherry and blackberry fruit. It’s very rich and full, but still has nice definition. Savoury spice and olive notes offset the sweet fruit. A dense style, but it has lots of appeal. 92/100

Sobriquet Sierra Madre Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 Santa Maria Valley, California
Warm, smooth and subtly spicy, this is a sweet, ripe, soft textured Pinot, with subtle herbiness. No rough edges and quite seductive. 90/100
Gamba Zinfandel Moratto Vineyard 2008 Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Dense, fresh and spicy with nice olive, tar and spice notes. Very fresh with a meaty dimension to the rich fruit. It’s rich, bold, delicious and well defined. One of the best Zinfandels I’ve experienced. 93/100

Pelerin Syrah Les Violettes 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands, California
Dark, spicy, meaty and rich with dark cherry and blackberry fruit. There’s a lovely peppery edge to the beautifully fresh dark fruits. Such great definition. Brilliant. 94/100

Valdez Landy Vineyard Petite Sirah 2007 Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Lush, sweet and intense with slightly jammy blackberry fruit. But it’s redeemed by some fresh peppery, spicy notes on the finish. Attractive stuff. 90/100

Radio Coteau La Neblina Pinot Noir 2008 Sonoma Coast, California
Rich, sweet and dense with lovely cherry and plum fruit, as well as notes of soy and spice. It’s a big yet expressive Pinot with very appealing dark cherry fruit to the fore. 92/100

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