2013 Cambria ‘Benchmark’ Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley

Earthy like French Burgundy but lighter in body, this is an easy-drinking wine that would pair nicely with just about any dish that includes mushrooms. It’s tough to pick out a fruit impression other than simply “red,” but interest is added by notes of cardamom, tea leaf and Asian spice. (Note: This wine, in past vintages, was designated “Julia’s Vineyard.)

MSRP: $25 (June 2016)

Wine Lines rating: 88

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2014 Cambria ‘Benchbreak’ Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley

There wasn’t a lot of new oak used in aging this wine, yet oak comes to the forefront in the nose, masking the fruit impressions to some degree. With some time in the glass, notes of pineapple and green apple emerge, leading to a mildly juicy finish. Not a bad choice for accompanying a picnic of chicken salad sandwiches, chunks of Brie and mild cheddar cheeses, and slices of apple. (Note: This wine, in past vintages, was designated “Katherine’s Vineyard.”)

MSRP: $22 (June 2016)

Wine Lines rating: 85

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2013 Kendall-Jackson ‘Vintner’s Reserve’ Red Wine Blend, California

Many people turn up their noses at multi-variety wines made from grapes grown in multiple areas. Not us. All we at Wine Lines care about is what’s in the glass, and when this Red Wine Blend is in our glass, we’re very happy. Syrah is the primary varietal at 44% of the cuvee, joined by Zinfandel (25%) and Merlot (20%). There also are smaller amounts of Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and other varieties from Mendocino County (40%), Sonoma County (39%), Santa Barbara County (10%), Lake County (7%) and Napa County (4%). Now that you have the stats, let’s check out the aromas and flavors: currants, blueberries, assorted red and black berries, vanilla, chocolate and allspice. In a word: Yum. Better still, it’s a steal at $17, making it a Wine Lines Value Vino in addition to a Featured Wine Selection.

MSRP: $17

Wine Lines rating: 90

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2013 Kendall-Jackson ‘Vintner’s Reserve’ Merlot, Sonoma County

Soft and delicate, this is what many wine drinkers expect when they open a bottle of Merlot and pour it into their glasses. Blueberry, black cherry and mild blackberry are the fruit flavors, which are joined by a hint of spice. For a satisfying meal, serve it with lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs.

MSRP: $19 (June 2016)

Wine Lines rating: 87

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2013 Kendall-Jackson ‘Vintner’s Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County

With a tannin structure that quickly fades with time in the glass, this is a Cabernet to drink while others on your wine rack evolve. Blackberries and currants are up front in the nose, joined by notes of mocha, vanilla, cedar and just a hint of black pepper, but it all fades quickly in the finish, rather than lingering. Try this wine with burgers made with Lipton Onion Soup Mix kneaded into the meat.

MSRP: $24 (June 2016)

Wine Lines rating: 86

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2014 Kendall-Jackson ‘Vintner’s Reserve’ Syrah, Santa Barbara County

Syrah often exudes a smoky quality, and this one seems to billow the smoke, hiding any trace of fruit on the nose. With a whole lot of swirling, a tart cherry note emerges, gradually followed by hints of plum, Dr. Pepper and dark berries. This is a wine that will shine more brightly when served with food, and we suggest pouring it alongside your favorite smoked meat.

MSRP: $17 (June 2016)

Wine Lines rating: 84

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2013 Edmeades Zinfandel, Perli, Mendocino Ridge

Opaque purple/black color. Syrupy aromas of blackberries and black currants are accented by notes of black pepper and cedar. In the mouth, velvety blackberry liqueur leads to a youthful chewiness. The juicy finish begs for the next sip. Here is an archetypal example of Zinfandel designed to pair with all sorts of summer barbecue fare, the spicier the better!
MSRP: $31 (May 2016)
Wine Lines rating: 91

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2013 Edmeades Zinfandel, Shamrock, Mendocino County

Opaque purple color in the glass. This is a sedate, claret-like rendition of Zinfandel. Aromas of sandalwood, dried cherries and cranberries, and a smidge of orange zest lead to a similar palate profile, picking up a creamy mouthfeel on the way to a medium finish. Summers are great for outdoor picnics. Pack this with your favorite aged cheeses, charcuterie meats, and a crusty loaf of bread, and enjoy!
MSRP: $31 (May 2016)
Wine Lines rating: 90

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2013 Edmeades Zinfandel, Gianoli, Mendocino Ridge

Barely opaque dark garnet color. Initial flowery aromas of framboise are accented by earthy scents of pine forest floor and savory herbs. It seems sleeker in the mouth, where the raspberry fruit joins fleshy cherry, and it picks up chocolate and baking spice notes towards the medium finish. The 15.5% alcohol is hardly noticeable – at least until you try to stand after bottle! This is the perfect sipping red, ready to fuel deep thoughts and heady discussions.
MSRP: $35 (May 2016)
Wine Lines rating: 90

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2015 Liberated Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast

A clear pale straw color in the glass. One sniff and – WOW! Heady aromas of fresh lime, quince and gooseberry are upfront, followed by a backdrop of perfumed flowers, steel, and chalky minerality. It’s medium-bodied, with a juicy acidity that invites the next sip. Notes of crisp pear add to the exotic fruit basket of flavors. It would be easy to dismiss this as another pretty label meant to catch the eye on a supermarket shelf, but the juice in the bottle is the Real Deal.
MSRP: $17 (May 2016)
Wine Lines rating: 89

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