By Bob Hosmon and Mark Gauert
John Hilliard and Christine Bruce, who maintain a home in South Florida, in 2001 bought property in the famed Sta. Rita Hills of California and immersed themselves in everything “wine”— from viticulture and winemaking to sales. Christine makes the chardonnay and John makes the pinot noir. The 2011 Hilliard Bruce Chardonnay ($45) is superb, as is the 2011 Hilliard Bruce Sky Pinot Noir ($55). – B.H.
In 1993, looking for a place to raise their five children, Nancy and John Lasseter moved to Sonoma and, as a family project, started making wine in 2000. Today the Lasseter Family Winery produces four blended wines, and each is a winner. Two particular favorites: a rosé labeled Enjoué ($24) that tastes like it was made in Provence and a Bordeaux-style blend labeled Amoureux ($54). – B.H.
David Rossi may reside in New Jersey, but he spends a lot of time in California, where he’s been making wine since 2005. He chose the name Fulcrum for his new winery venture, as that word was an ideal metaphor for his desire to create pinot noirs that are perfectly balanced. And create them he does. His 2011 Fulcrum Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir ($57) is a show-stopper. – B.H.
Those who remember the 1970s may not recognize the name Bruce R. Cohn, but they may remember the rock band he managed: the Doobie Brothers. Today Bruce makes memorable cabernet sauvignon at his winery in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Indeed, the 2012 B.R. Cohn Gold Label Cabernet Sauvignon ($40) is a deliciously complex red, showing dark fruit and spice in every sip. – B.H.
Marcus Notaro’s first complete vintage at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars will be the 2013, but he’s already putting down roots of his own in the storied Napa soil that yielded the Judgment of Paris win in 1976. “I couldn’t have picked a better vintage to start with,” says Notaro, formerly winemaker at Col Solare. “This was one of the most even vintages I’ve ever experienced.” While we await the fruit of Notaro’s labors, we’re content with the dark fruits of the 2011 Artemis cabernet ($55). The 2010 Artemis is no slouch either, having won gold this year at the American Fine Wine Competition in South Florida. – M.G.