Here are a few recently tasted wines, roughly in order of preference:
--Beaulieu Vineyard 2015 Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Ca., $145. Cedar and earth on the nose. Blackberry, foresty earth and herbs, with a touch of cigar and mocha on the rich, full-bodied palate. Long finish. 90% cab, with bits of malbec, petit verdot and merlot. Very good plus.
--Gary Farrell 2018 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Ca., $45. Cherry, raspberry, tea, pencil and roses. Good acidity, food-friendly, lingering finish. Very good.
--Contino 2014 Reserva Rioja, Spain, $50. Cherry, plum, violets, touch of spice. Well-balanced, smooth, good structure. Very good.
--Lion Tamer 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Ca., $65. This cab blended with a bit of malbec is big, bold and ripe. Blackberry, blueberry, cedar, mocha and vanilla on the palate. Quite juicy with a long finish. Very good.
--Quinta do Portal 2017 Grande Reserva, Douro, Portugal, $45. Black plums, licorice, earth, long finish. Very good.
--Two Hands Gnarly Dudes 2018 Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia, $33. Bold, rich plum, blueberry and blackberry, mint, touch of licorice, with juicy, silky texture. Lingering finish. Very good.
--Monte Velho 2019 Esporao, Portugal, $10, Earthy aromas. Plum, herbs and earth on the palate. Bright acidity, food-friendly, medium body. Very good for the price.
--Henri Champliau Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Authentique, France, $28. A balanced, fresh and elegant sparkling blend of pinot noir and chardonnay. Well-made. Good plus.
--Artesa 2016 Los Carneros Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, Ca., $28. Cherry, strawberry, brambles, and spice. Fresh acidity. Good plus.
--Calmel & Joseph Blanquette de Limoux Brut, France, $22. Light floral aromas. Yeasty bread, citrus and touch of white raisins, apricot and peach. Made with 90% mauzac and 10% chardonnay. Good plus.
--Lapostolle 2016 Cuvee Alexandre Carmenere, Colchagua Valley, Chile, $25. Black currant, cherry, earth, tobacco. Fresh, round mouthfeel; nice structure. Good plus.
ginger. Bright and fresh with a touch of minerality. Well-balanced. Good plus.
--Ontanon 2019 Tempranillo Blanco, Rioja, Spain, $21. Floral aromas. Apple, citrus and touch of tropical fruit. Nicely balanced. Good plus.
--M. Chapoutier La Ciboise 2017 Costieres de Nimes, France, $20. Earthy, peppery nose. Blackberry, touch of raspberry and plum. Smooth, easy-drinking red with a bit of minerality. Good plus.
--Royal Prince 2017 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley/Santa Barbara County, Ca., $35. Graphite, cherry, cola, earth, spice. Good plus.
--Primus 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo, Chile, $19. Blackberry, wild herbs, oak spice, vanilla. A rustic yet silky cab. Good plus.
--Cambria 2019 Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, Ca., $22. Pineapple and peach aromas; apple, butterscotch, spice and minerals on the creamy palate. Good balance of oak and acidity. Good plus overall.
--Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava, Spain, $15. A straightforward, decently made cava. Green apple and lime, fleshy on the palate, relatively light bubbles. Good.
--Domaine Bousquet 2019 Virgen Organic Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina, $13. Blackberry, cherry, with bright fruit, high acidity. Good.
--CK Mondavi 2017 Merlot, Ca., $7. Plum, blueberry, oak spice and vanilla. OK, or good for the price.