As we continue our survey of California Bordeaux, we come to the Livermore Valley. Located just southwest of the San Francisco Bay, it is one of the most underrated growing regions in the state. More consistently than ever, the area is producing top-notch Bordeaux varieties yet the wines seem to slip under the radar. Just take a look at the bottles we discovered and you’ll see why fans of the Bordeaux grapes should get to know the Livermore Valley more.

Crooked Vine 2010 Petit Verdot

Grape(s): 100% Petit Verdot

Region: Livermore Valley

Price: 30-35

Review:

Aromatics of cherries, blackberries, and currants with accents of earth greet the senses. The palate reveals flavors of cherry, raspberry jam, and red currant that meld with hints of cocoa, violet, and sandalwood. A lighter, layered wine, fans of bright, elegant reds should give this bottle a try.

Rating: 89

Crooked Vine 2009 Moxie Blend

Grape(s): 45% Cabernet, 33% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Petit Verdot

Region: Livermore Valley

Price: 30-35

Review:

Aromas of blackberries, cherries, and currants mingle with suggestion of mocha and toasty oak. A sip reveals flavors of bramble fruit, black cherry, and cassis rounded out by hints of dark chocolate, dusty earth, and oak. A rich and supple, fans of dry, nicely structured reds will enjoy this bottle.

Rating: 89

Crooked Vine 2010 Cabernet Franc

Grape(s): 100% Cabernet Franc

Region: Livermore Valley

Price: 30-35

Review:

A bouquet of cherries, strawberries, and sweet spice and floral hints greets the senses. Bright red berry flavors emerge on the palate accented by suggestions of honey, Asian spices, and violets. A light, fairly lively wine, fans of approachable, layered reds will enjoy this bottle.

Rating: 88

Cuda Ridge 2010 Petit Verdot

Grape(s): 100% Petit Verdot

Region: Livermore Valley

Price: 30-35

Review:

Aromas of dark berries mingle with suggestions of cocoa, cigar, and earth on the nose. A sip delivers flavors of boysenberries, blackberries, and plums accented by dark chocolate, earth, and smoke. A rich wine with balanced tannins, fans of supple reds should try this bottle.

Rating: 90

Cuda Ridge 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Grape(s): 75% Cabernet, 15% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec

Region: Livermore Valley

Price: 30-35

Review:

Aromatics of blackberries, raspberries, and cassis come together with notes of leather, oak, anise. Flavors of blackberry, currants, and cranberry jam meld with suggestions of spice, cigar box, and toasty oak on the palate. A bright, rich wine, if you’re a fan of lively Cabernet, this is a bottle to try.

Rating: 89

Cuda Ridge 2010 Merlot

Grape(s): 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet, 5% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec

Region: Livermore Valley

Price: 20-25

Review:

A bouquet of blackberries, cherries, leather, and all-spice rises up from a glass. Blackberry, plum, and raspberry flavors emerge on the palate with accents of dark chocolate, clove, and toasty oak. A rich, layered Merlot, fans of smooth, supple reds will enjoy this bottle. 192 cases produced.

Rating: 89

Occasico 2009 Merlot

Grape(s): 100% Merlot

Region: Livermore Valley

Price: 30-35

Review:

Aromas of earth and dried herbs meld with notes of currants and blackberries on the nose. Flavors of dark berries and plum come together with dusty earth and Italian herbs on the palate. A fuller, more robust Merlot than many out there, perhaps it’s more reminiscent of Bordeaux than California. In any case, those who enjoy a nice balance of fruit and earth, along with a solid structure, should give this wine a try.

Rating: 90

Occasico 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Grape(s): 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Livermore Valley

Price: 35-40

Review:

The nose offers dark berry fruit accented by hints of smoke, vanilla, and earth. Blackberry and currants meld with suggestions of dusty earth and sweet spice on the palate. A fairly soft, elegant Cabernet that’s very approachable now, but still has the structure to age nicely. Fans of more elegant reds will enjoy this bottle very much. 250 cases produced.

Rating: 90

Page Mill 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Grape(s): 100% Cabernet Franc

Region: Livermore Valley

Price: 25-30

Review:

Blackberry and cherry aromas along with a touch of earth rise up from a glass. The palate delivers dark berry fruit and bright earthy, floral notes. A lighter red that still has good structure, it’s ideal to enjoy with portabella burgers now or cellared for a few years.

Rating: 90

Page Mill 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Grape(s): 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Livermore Valley

Price: 15-20

Review:

Aromas of honeydew and light citrus fruit combine with suggestions of a grass and white pepper on the nose. A sip unfurls flavors of melon and sweet grapefruit along with a few herbaceous notes and a hint of spice. A lovely, rich white, with some nice layers, fans of slightly creamy Sauvignon Blancs will enjoy this bottle.

Rating: 90

Steven Kent 2009 Petit Verdot

Grape(s): 100% Petit Verdot

Region: Livermore Valley

Price: 45-50

Review:

Aromas of blackberries, boysenberries, and plums mingle with suggestions of leather, sweet spice, and dark chocolate on the nose. The palate delivers flavors of plum, blackberry, and cassis with accents of cocoa, black licorice, and oak. A smooth, rich wine, fans of supple reds will enjoy this bottle very much. Under 100 cases produced.

Rating: 91

Steven Kent 2009 Malbec

Grape(s): 100% Malbec

Region: Livermore Valley

Price: 45-50

Review:

Aromatics of blackberries, blueberries, and plums meld with suggestions of sweet spice, oak, and vanilla. A sip delivers flavors of blueberry, boysenberry, and plum that unfold into hints of anise, clove, and earth. A dark, rich wine with balanced tannins, fans of Malbec must try this bottle. Only 98 cases produced.

Rating: 91