2008 Castle Rock Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($13)
Castle Rock, one of the most successful American négociants, focuses on Pinot Noir from a wide range of top regions. This fragrant, taut red uses grapes from Oregon.
NV Sherman & Hooker Shebang!, 2nd Cuvée ($19)
Shebang!a robust, darkly fruity blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Sangiovese and other varietiescomes in a ring-handled moonshine jug. It's the brainchild of Morgan Twain-Peterson, the son of Ravenswood Winery founder Joel Peterson.
2007 Sean Minor Four Bears Napa Valley Merlot ($17)
Minor spent nearly two decades managing top wineries, such as Beaulieu Vineyard and King Estate, before choosing to found his own company. His velvety Merlot is impressive.
2007 Cameron Hughes Lot 125 Napa Carneros Pinot Noir ($18)
Hughes purchased this juicy, strawberry-inflected Pinot Noir from a top Napa winery (he won't name it) that was concerned it wouldn't be able to sell all of its wines at full price.
2008 Relativity Vineyards Violeta Rutherford Red ($14)
This fresh, Cabernet Francdominated blend has an intriguing herbal note.
2007 Teira Sonoma County Merlot ($18)
Besides connections to top vineyards, Teira has a great asset in Bill Knuttel, founding winemaker of Saintsbury and current head winemaker at Dry Creek Vineyard. His expertise shows in wines like this spicy, elegant red.
2007 Waterstone Napa Valley Merlot ($18)
Waterstone gets the majority of its Merlot from Napa Valley's Truchard Vineyards, one of the largest and best vineyards in the region. The wine is lush and deeply flavorful, reminiscent of ripe black cherries.
2007 BonAnno Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($20)
BonAnno's cassis-scented bottling, made partly from Stags Leap District grapes, is one of the best values in Napa Valley Cabernet, especially in the terrific 2007 vintage.
2007 Joseph Carr Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($20)
Carr, a former sommelier (and winery executive), makes wines like this blackberry-edged Cabernet at a former thoroughbred-horse farm in the coastal Carneros region.
2008 Cloudline Cellars Oregon Pinot Noir ($21)
Oregon's Domaine Drouhin steps into a négociant role with this bright, tart Pinot Noir, buying grapes from a variety of top Oregon growers.