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The White Wine Decant

Robert Whitley on

Tasting Notes

Tongue Dancer 2017 Chardonnay, Pratt Vineyard / Irwin Lane, Russian River Valley ($39) -- Winemaker James MacPhail has a knack for this style of chardonnay, which combines rich, creamy texture, intense aromatics and uber ripe aromas with exquisite balance. Therein lies the beauty of a MacPhail chardonnay. It has everything without having too much of any one thing. And the finish here is spicy and long. Rating: 96.

Frank Family Vineyards 2017 Chardonnay, Carneros ($38) -- Over the years, Frank Family chardonnay has stood out from the crowd because of its restraint. That restraint shouldn't be mistaken for a lack of flavor. The 2017 Frank Family chardonnay easily dispels that notion, showing intense aromas of lemon oil, baked apple and brioche, with a touch of oak vanillin and wood spice. Rating: 94.

Wente 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Wetmore Vineyard, Livermore Valley ($35) -- The Livermore Valley east of the San Francisco Bay area seldom gets the attention it deserves, which serves to keep a lid on prices. That makes it an exceptional resource for wine lovers more interested in value than cachet. Wente's Wetmore Vineyard cabernet from the 2017 vintage is a value gem, delivering layers of ripe black fruit aroma with supple tannins, a touch of wood spice and impressive length. Rating: 92.

Morgan 2018 Syrah, G17, Santa Lucia Highlands ($25) -- The G17 refers to a highway in Monterey County that connects many of the top vineyards, but the most important reference on the label is Morgan, the longtime Monterey producer known essentially for stylish reds and whites that are crowd pleasers but don't cost a fortune. This modestly priced syrah is another beauty from Morgan, showing notes of blueberry and blackberry with smooth tannins and a spice note on the finish. Rating: 90.


Mumm Napa Valley Blanc de Blancs, Napa County ($22) -- Mumm Napa consistently delivers an elegant sparkling wine product at a relatively modest price, and this blanc de blancs is no exception. It has notes of lemon and brioche with a touch of nuttiness on the finish. It is smooth, complex and delicious. Rating: 90.


Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Email Robert at



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