($17) Pale gold. Fresh pear, peach and melon on the nose, with intriguing sage, anise and mint adding complexity. Medium-bodied and silky, with ripe quince, honeydew and yellow plum flavors brightened by zesty citrus pith and quinine. There's a fruit/mineral tension here that's reminiscent of top-notch Chablis, not to mention a similar texture. Bright, nervy and focused on the long, pure finish. This carries 14% alcohol like it was 11%: I was shocked to see that number on the label.
($35) Yellow-gold. Ripe peach, apricot and musky yellow plum on the nose, with toasted nut and jasmine accents. Plump and fleshy, showing a range of fresh and dried pit fruit flavors sweetened by a hint of floral honey. Fairly weighty wine, finishing on a dry but sappy note, with good clinging length.
($20) Dark pink. Dried red berries and cherry on the nose, with musky herb and underbrush accents. Full and weighty, displaying powerful red and dark berry flavors and a chewy texture. A distinctive style somewhat akin to a Tavel, and emphatically not for casual sipping.
($19; 60% grenache and 20% each mataro and shiraz) Medium red. Spicy redcurrant and strawberry aromas are lightly kissed by a hint of cracked pepper. Lithe, bright and straightforward, perhaps a tad simple, with crisp red berry flavors, light tannins and building sweetness on the finish. Serve this light, fruity wine with a slight chill.
($20) Dark purple. Peppery blackberry and blueberry on the nose, with a complex bouquet of dried flowers, baking spices and minerals. Sweet dark berry flavors are sharpened by white pepper and graphite, which leave an intriguing Szechuan peppercorn-like numbing effect on the palate. Pretty complex for an entry-level wine, and with textbook syrah character. Finishes with sweet cherry and cassis flavors and excellent length.
($50) Bright ruby. Deep, spicy blackberry and cassis aromas, along with a range of incense, floral and mineral accents. Sexy licorice candy and cola notes emerge with air and are repeated on the palate. Sweet dark berry flavors are nicely firmed by youthful tannins and brisk acids, with a late-arriving cinnamon note adding interest. The impressively pure, long finish is suave, silky and fresh.
($105; 92% shiraz with 8% viognier) Bright purple. Intensely spicy aromas of black raspberry, cherry, cocoa powder and Asian spices. Inky and youthfully brooding, with powerful dark berry liqueur flavors, velvety tannins and a building impression of graphite. Tightens with air but not at the expense of its wonderfully lush, deeply concentrated fruit and sexy spices.
($35; 60% grenache and 20% each of mataro and shiraz) Ruby-red. Red berry and cherry aromas, with a good dose of vanilla accentuating the sweetness of the nose. Lush and expansive, with ripe raspberry and cherry jam flavors underscored by gentle minerality. Finishes on a creamy red berry note, with excellent length.
($105) Opaque ruby. Powerful dark berry liqueur aromas are complemented by a kaleidoscopic array of fresh and dried flowers, incense, Asian spices and vanilla. Suave and silky in texture, with explosive blackberry and mulberry flavors complemented by exotic spice and floral qualities. Finishes with superbly integrated tannins and outstanding persistence, leaving sexy spice and mocha notes in its wake.
($150; 100% mataro) Inky purple. Explosively perfumed nose features potent boysenberry, blueberry and lavender aromas deepened by licorice, espresso and musky underbrush. Broad, juicy dark berry flavors display impressive depth and sweetness, with gentle, harmonious tannins lending support. Remarkably balanced, pure and luscious, with outstanding persistence on the silky finish. This is one suave wine.
($225; 95% shiraz and 5% viognier) Inky ruby. Hugely aromatic, pungent bouquet of dark berries, kirsch, fresh flowers, licorice and minerals. Expansive dark fruit flavors completely suffuse the palate and are brightened by vibrant notes of fresh flowers and graphite. Wonderfully creamy in texture, with no rough edges. Tannins slowly sneak in on the finish, adding structure to this dramatically concentrated, sappy shiraz. The persistence of fruit here is amazing.
($17; for 375 ml.) Bright straw. Pungent pear and yellow plum on the nose, with suave baking spices and citrus zest adding energy. Moderately sweet citrus marmalade flavors are enlivened by surprisingly brisk acidity, which contributes impressive clarity and cut. Juicy orange and pear flavors define the long, vibrant finish. I'd serve this as an aperitif or with pungent cheeses. (The Australian Wine Connection, Carlsbad, CA)