Slurping Around with P.D.W. April 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012 at 1:33PM
Rick Robbins, M.D.

Hi all: here are some nice bottles in which to drown your tax woes. I just hope you can find them. Remember the Internet and the local bottle shop both are ways to find wines you may not see in the supermarkets. Many wines can now be shipped between states. Here’s an idea: pick them up when you come to the ATS meeting in May. Pack them in your luggage in Styrofoam-lined boxes.

White Wines

2009 Landmark Chardonnay “Overlook”, Sonoma, CA $20. Yes, a chardonnay for $20 in this column!! This is the new style: a nose of citrus and baked apple and slight vanilla. Forward clean apple and lemon fruit, excellent, crisp acid, and little oak. Nice viscosity. A total contrast to the big buttery oaky style of yesteryear.

2010 Franciscan Chardonnay, Napa Valley $12. Yes, a second chardonnay in one column!! This is for those of you who still yearn for the big buttery oaky style of yesteryear. Butterscotch and tropical fruit on the nose and palate. Clean, viscous, big, buttery, an oak bomb with decent citrus/tropical fruit.

2010 L’Oliveto Chardonnay, Russian River $15. Three in one column?? Must have lost my marbles. The nose took a while to open, but the palate was right there from the start – clean and crisp, apply, with low oak. Back to the new style, with good acidity and very little oak.

2010 Carmel Road Chardonnay, Monterey $12. Another damn chard. This none has a forward, clean, fresh tropical fruit nose. The palate is complex and creamy with lychee, citrus, apricot and tropical fruit. Good acid, not too heavy and light oak.

2011 Crios Torrontes, Mendoza, Argentina $10. This is typical of the Torrontes grape with a very forward lychee/raisiny nose, making you think a dessert wine is in the glass. But there is a clean lemony dry palate with very good acidity. This wine has a rich finish, not at all hard or lean as some tend to be.

Red Wines

Alas! Cheap GOOD reds are harder and harder to find. Trust me, I will keep looking. In the meantime…..

2009 Lucienne Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Doctor’s vineyard $20. Ever since that (@#$%^&*) movie, Pinot has been disproportionately expensive. Surprise: here is a terrific Pinot at, for this grape, a great price. This is a special occasion wine. The nose is forward with lots of cherry fruit, and sweet oak and vanilla. None of that @#$%^&* pickle barrel character from the oak and stems, just lush fruit. The palate is lush and viscous and varietal. There is a little tannin and good acid for structure; there is great balance and considerable depth and length.

2009 Bonneau Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sangiacomo vineyard $23. Lots of cherry fruit, slight oak char on the nose. The palate has smooth, lush varietal cherry fruit, light oak, slight oak char, good acid, some earth and cola, and is clean and balanced.

2008 Bonneau Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, $28. Yes, expensive, but better than more notorious wines costing two and three times as much. This has very deep color, and a tight nose that took a while to open (which is actually a good thing). This is a big, extracted wine with strong but balanced tannins and great dark berry fruit. There are dried herbs, earthiness, good acid, and excellent balance and length. There is evident American oak (dill), but this is not over the top. Special occasion wine.

2009 Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma $13. About half the price and half as good as the Bonneau, but still a very nice wine. The nose has lots of dark cherry and some dill and a hint of yeast. There is forward red/dark cherry fruit, some dill, good acid and medium soft tannins.

2007 Benziger Merlot, Sonoma $14. This wine smells and tastes quite young. It has a forward, fresh, slightly grapey nose with a little green pepper. On the palate, there is lots of red/dark cherry fruit; some dill; soft tannin, and slight green pepper. It is a fairly light style wine. It is good, not great.

2010 R Cabernet Franc, Clarksburg, Salman vineyard $19. While a bit costly, I wanted to mention this if you wanted to try a rarely bottled grape variety (usually used as a blending wine in Bordeaux reds). This is typical of the grape – floral red cherry and slight stemmy herbal green characters on the nose and palate; fairly light in style, clean, not too tannic, with bright acid and a touch of black pepper.

These should keep you going for a while – if you can find them. Hope so. I did.

Article originally appeared on SOUTHWEST JOURNAL of PULMONARY & CRITICAL CARE (
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