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Charles R. Vineyards is tuck away in a far corner of the Livermore Valley, but don’t let the location fool you, because it couldn’t be a more welcoming place. Owners Dick and Bonnie Bartlett think of their winery’s visitors like family. They only want the best for them. Thus, even though it costs a bit more, the pair are always after the best fruit in the valley and try to obtain it from organic vineyards whenever possible. The mood at the winery is comfortable and casual, making it clear that so much of what Dick and Bonnie do is because of their affinity for people. In a way, it seems that having a good conversation and a making a new friend is more important to them than selling extra wine. So take a trip out to the Livermore Valley and visit them. You’re bound to find that the people and the wines are both very welcoming.

Grape(s): Chardonnay

Region: Livermore Valley

Year: 2009

Price: 15-20

Review:

Notes of vanilla, honey, gram-cracker and pineapple mingle with suggestions of perfume on the nose. A sip reveals flavors of pear and pineapple, as well as springtime floral notes and a hint of toasty oak. A wine that has a refreshing acidity and a somewhat usual flavors profile, it’s for fans of somewhat unorthodox Chardonnay.

Rating: 87

Character: bright fruit, floral, balanced acidity 

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Grape(s): Zinfandel

Region: Livermore Valley

Year: 2007

Price: 25-30

Review:

Blackberry and cherry aromas lead off on the nose. The palate offers flavors of cherry, blackberry, and blueberry with accents of black licorice, musty oak, and hints of spice. A lighter Zin, without much pepper, it’s for fans for easy going reds.

Rating: 89

Character: dark fruit, softer mouthfeel, lighter tannins 

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Grape(s): Petite Sirah

Region: Livermore Valley

Year: 2008

Price: 25-30

Review:

Aromatics of boysenberry and cherry are rounded out by notes of smoked meat and pepper on the nose. The palate reveals flavors of blackberries, cherries, and blueberries that flow into suggestions of pepper and a bit of oak. A bit lighter than most Petite Sirahs, it’s for fans of reds with brighter fruit and softer spice.

Rating: 90

Character: dark fruit, softer mouthfeel, lighter tannins 

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Grape(s): Syrah

Region: Livermore Valley

Year: 2007

Price: 25-30

Review:

Aromatics of bright red berries combine with hints of musty oak and spice on the nose. Flavors of cherry and slightly tart plum dominate the palate with accents of pepper, leather, and oak. A light, lively Syrah, it’s geared for those who enjoy subtle and bright over rich and dark.

Rating: 88

Character: light fruit, plush tannins, bright mouthfeel