From The Connoisseur's Guide to California Wine


2010 Dehlinger Winery Chardonnay Russian River Valley

Despite starting out a little tight-fisted and momentarily marked by youthful tightness and restraint, this ample effort slowly fixes on deep, ripe-apple fruit and no small measure of creme brulee oak. It is moderately full and slightly fleshy in feel with plenty of firming acidity for balance, and it shows the right combination of richness, structure and range that we look for in Chardonnay that will improve with age. 90


2010 Dehlinger Winery Syrah Goldridge Russian River Valley

Plentiful sweet oak is matched by lots of fully ripe, blackberryish fruit at every point here with hints of bacon and smoke evident throughout. Dehlinger's predilection for richness comes through loud and clear, yet the wine is never over the top and maintains reasonable balance from beginning to end. It is not nor ever will be a sublte wine, and it is roughed up by plenty of gruff tannins just now, but it has the substance and depth to reward four or five years of cellaring. 90


2009 Dehlinger Winery Chardonnay Russian River Valley

As should be expected, Tom Dehlinger has again crafted a very full-flavored wine that makes no apologies for ripeness and rich oak, but it shows as much vitality as it does richness and range, and its combination of substance and balance is ideal. There is a little more verve and acidy firmness than we sometimes find in the Dehlinger wines, and we are comfortable in predicting that it will have a fairly long life.91


2009 Dehlinger Winery Old Vines Altamont Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Tom Dehlinger has always managed to wring a bit of extra richness from Pinot Noir while avoiding the pitfalls of excessive ripeness, and this deep, impressively filled effort shows remarkable richness and a bit of sophistication at once. It is bursting with juicy, black cherry fruit and smacks of sweet spices and violets, and, while a hefty wine to be sure, it is balanced and firm and very long at the finish. Allow for some time in the cellar, and tag it for drinking with a leg of lamb or classic boeuf bourguignon. 93


2009 Dehlinger Winery High Plains Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Here is a downright voluptuous take on Pinot Noir that is rife with sweet cherries and enriched with plenty of creamy oak. It is full and fleshy and unabashed in its ripeness but steers clear of bothersome heat. Its wide-open style suggests that it wants but minimal aging, yet, whether drunk now or in a few years, this is a decidedly delicious wine. 90


2009 Dehlinger Winery Altamont Syrah Russian River Valley

Fairly high in ripeness and very high in Syrah's meaty gamey side, this generous wine will never be mistaken for a shy violet, but that is its strength. With a full load of blackberry fruit, graphitey minerality and black pepper seasoning to go with the rest of its well-spoken personality, this bottling may not be for the faint of heart but so too is it a bit better balanced than its even bigger mate below. It is wholly capable of aging for eyars to come, and it is likely to find a touch of refinement as the prize for those who show a half decade of patience. 92


2009 Dehlinger Winery Frei Road Syrah Russian River Valley

Big, rich, intense and so concentrated that it runs to a bit of dried fruit in its bold blackberry aromas, this dramatic wine also sports lots of game, roasted meat and black pepper varietal character. nothing baout it is less than expressive, and its full, dense and viscous palatal impressions have little to do with delicacy and just about everything to do with potency. It certainly had tannins to lose at this point, but it is not brutally tannic and should deliver big rewards to those who age it for the next four to seven years while it finds a smoother passage. 90


2008 Dehlinger Winery Pinot Noir Estate Russian River Valley

Rich in oak, rich in fruit and high in ripeness, Dehlinger's latest runs true to the winery's wide-open style, and its reminds that big Pinots can still be well-balanced. Yes, it does show a trim of heat, and no, it is not nor ever will be a subtle wine, but there are nuances and complexities to be found here all the same. It can easily be served with heartier meat dishes in the short term, but its predilection to back-palate coarseness prescribes a couple of years of additional age. 90


2008 Dehlinger Winery Estate Syrah Russian River Valley

From its deep, explicitly varietal aromas to its broad, generously fruited flavors, this compelling young Syrah exhibits the richness and range that marks Dehlinger Syrahs at their best. The wine earns higher marks yet for its fine sense of balance, and, while very full on the palate, laced with oak and showing a bare bit of heat at the finish, it never threatens to be too much of a good thing. A bit of patience is urged as it is structured to grow for five years at the least, and it will make splendid drinking with a savory lamb roast.93


2008 Dehlinger Winery Goldridge Syrah Russian River Valley

A little less chunky and a bit brighter in fruit than its cellarmate, Dehlinger's Goldridge Syrah shows a snappy, cranberry accent to its dominant themes of ripe plums and mixed red berries. The wine is similarly more sparing in any strident varietal spice, but it conveys good fruity mass and Syrah solidity all the way through its persistent, well-focused finish. It does not demand lengthy keeping, and it should be tagged for drinking several years hence. 90


2007 Dehlinger Winery Pinot Noir Estate Russian River Valley

Tom Dehlinger has never been one to hold back on Pinot Noir and leaves the making of delicate wine to others, and his style can be no better seen than in this bold and deeply filled effort. When, as in such stellar harvests as 2007, all the pieces fall into place, even the naysayers who cannot see past alcohol content are bound to be taken with the kind of richness and wonder-fully concentrated fruit that this deep, remarkably well-balanced bottling shows. It will hold and improve for many more years, but whether drunk now or saved for later, it needs to be paired with appropriately rich foods. 95


2007 Dehlinger Winery Pinot Noir Goldridge Vineyard 33 Year Old Vines Russian River Valley

Do note the designation of vine age on the label as it distinguishes this wine from a previously released Goldridge bottling. True to the Dehlinger style it possesses plenty of power and is packed with ripe fruit, but there is an unmistakable sense of polish and layering about it as well. As it so capably proves, big can be balanced and does not always mean heavy, and those who are not tempted now by its opulent youth will find more complexity and refinement some five years hence. 92