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The Weekly Dozen - Old & New

Wineries often over the years become like friends, and, like old friends, some may in time undergo radical changes. Those of us who’ve been drinking wine for 20 or more years have seen a lot of California wineries bought and sold, and it would be both dumb and wrong not to expect changes to occur in the style and quality of the wines under new leadership.
This is especially true in eponymous wineries, where the founder is gone but his/her name still appears on the wine label. That is the case for two wineries in this week’s Dozen – Gary Farrell and Murphy-Goode. A third “old friend,” Clos Pegase, was identified with founder Jan Shrem, but that identification is already fading.

Farrell’s Chardonnay has remained, at least in my memory, pretty much the same as it was before, and Clos Pegase’s Chardonnay might even have improved a bit. However, a wine tasting group I was in during the 1990’s drank a lot of Murphy-Goode, and some might be surprised to see the brand has been substantially re-positioned. Today, it is an entry-level pour.

But while changes are to be expected, it is still nice to have memories, better or worse, of the way things were.

2016 Alois Lageder “Riff” Pinot Grigio delle Venezie ($10). Pleasant with good mouth feel, a little fruity-sweet.

2016 La Valentina Pecorino Colline Pescaresi IGT ($17). Lively, slightly petillant with pleasant green fruit flavors and a closing tanginess.

2018 Clos Pegase “Mitsuko’s Vineyard” Carneros Chardonnay ($30). Intense fruitiness – tangy, spicy apples – with dusty tannins and a modest aggressiveness.

2016 Gary Farrell “Olivet Lane” Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($44). Lots of baked apple and toasted oak flavors, but not buttery – a full-bodied, complex wine.

2017 Dutton-Goldfield “Rued” Green Valley of Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($54).  Tangy and toasty, full-bodied, but still lively.

2016 Murphy-Goode California Red Wine ($12). Muddled red fruit with soft tannins and a bit of a savory kick – an acceptable carafe wine.

2017 Murphy-Goode California Cabernet Sauvignon ($13). Fruity and a little sweet – like a blackberry brownie.

2014 Clarendelle Saint-Émilion ($19). From the same folks who own Château Haut Brion, it’s an agreeable though not complex wine with dark cherry flavors and some aging notes of old barrels.

2010 Beronia Rioja Gran Reserva ($32). A wine of substance with ripe, dark-berry flavors, yet still rich and fresh after almost 10 years.

2013 Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico Gran Selezione ($37). A classic Classico GS – on the bold side with fine ripe fruit, great acidity and some savory edges.

2018 Domaine Blain Soeur & Frere Brouilly ($38). Ripe, bright fruit balanced by a tangy acidity.

2016 J. McClellan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($50). More velvety texture than silky, smooth with dark cherry fruits and a bit of a mocha chocolate underlay.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from

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