Richard Stetler's Fine Wines & Tastings

The Best Cellar  *  New Location - June 1, 2009 - 1408 NE 26th St..  *  Wilton Manors, FL  *  33305
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EACH WEEK WE TASTE 7 - 9 DIFFERENT WINES + BONUS WINES
LISTED BELOW IS JUST A SAMPLING OF THE WINES WE HAVE TASTED IN THE PREVIOUS WEEKS


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Wine Tasting December 26 - 29, 2012

Multi-Vintage Messenger Telegram  Number 1 White (California)
A V-V-V blend across vintages, varietals, and vineyards in Lake, Napa, and Sonoma counties.  69% Sauvignon Blanc, 18% Muscat Canelli , and 13% Riesling . Smells like a bouquet of flowers and tastes like a mix of white and pink grapefruit.  

2007 Northstar Stella Maris Red (Columbia Valley, Washington)
The name is Latin for star of the sea. A soft and silky wine with vanilla and rich dark chocolate, coconut, raspberry and cherry, green olive with long smoke finish. 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 21% Syrah, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Made in a fruity ready to drink style from the lots left after the ones used for their Walla Walla and Columbia Valley selections.  A very ripe style, with berry compote and white pepper flavors on a supple frame, finishing with an open texture.

2009 Matteo Correggia Barbera D'Alba (Roero, Italy)
A fleshy, seamless Barbera where silky tannins frame a core of expressive dark red fruit. Built on refinement rather than size. Year in year out , one of the great values in Piedmont. Shows what Barbera can achieve when planted on the best parts of the vineyards.

2010 Louis Chave Mon Coeur Cote Du Rhone (Rhone, France)
From a winery in the same family since 1481. Made from purchased fruit in vineyards primarily in Visan, Buisson, Vinsobres, and Estezargues, selected for being on slopes with decomposed granite soil. Very consistently high quality and good value blend of Syrah and Grenache. 90 points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: Deep ruby. Pungent, spice-accented aromas of black and blue fruits, olive and cola, with a sexy floral quality gaining strength with air. At once deep and lively, with powerful blueberry and bitter cherry flavors given spine and lift by smoky minerality. Closes with excellent clarity and length, leaving notes of violet and berry preserves behind. This wine always punches well above its weight.

2009 Terraces Zinfandel (Rutherford, California)
Made from an old clone with open clusters and small berries, planted on terraced slopes 300-400 feet high on volcanic soil. The combination makes a well structured and bright style of Zinfandel that here never is made to be raisiny, sweet, or heavy like many other Zinfandels. Powerful and clear flavors that age beautifully.

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Wine Tasting December 19 - 22, 2012
Champagnes & Red Wine Tasting

2007 Saint Hilaire Brut (France)
A South France sparkler from Limmoux that made sparkling wine a century before Champagne. Softer and easier drinking rather than briskly acidic like Champagne, with more apple than citrus. Much better than the wines served at "champagne" brunches and most weddings.

Heidsieck Blue Top Brut Champagne
91 points, Wine Spectator: Well-defined and energetic, with racy acidity driving flavors of fresh-cut apple, black cherry, candied lemon zest and a richer note of pear financier. A fresh, minerally finish.

NV Louis Roederer Brut Premier (Champagne, France)
91 points, Wine Specatator: Light and lively, featuring apple, toast, ginger and light vanilla flavors. Balanced and on the dry side, with a creamy texture and a lingering butter pastry aftertaste.

2002 Laurent-Perrier Brut (Champagne, France)
2002 is a strong candidate for the greatest vintage in Champagne since 1996. 94 points, Wine Enthusiast: Very structured and dry, in the Laurent-Perrier house style. Crunchy green apples are supported by richness and a complex texture. With nine years in the cellar, it has already gained some maturity, but needs aging. 92 points, International Wine Cellar: Light, bright yellow. Fragrant, complex scents of Meyer lemon, pear, peach pit and toasty lees. Juicy and precise, with very good depth to its spice citrus and floral flavors. The deeper pear and peach notes come back on the finish, which lingers with serious smoky intensity. Has the density and focus for cellaring.

Non-Vintage Mumm Napa Brut Rose (California)
A rose is made by including color and tannins from red wine grapes. 93 points, Wine Enthusiast: What a roll Mumm Napa is on with their new releases. Shows the level of richness and elegance the winery has achieved lately. Made from 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay, deliciously forward flavors of raspberries, strawberries, gingersnap cookies and vanilla lemon custard, with the bubby froth and tart yeastiness of a fine sparkler.

2009 Antigal Uno Malbec (Argentina)
Each bottle has an impressive large bronzed "1" on it. The wine inside is big, bright, and fruity, with blueberry and blackberry, coffee, oak, and tobacco.  Luscious black and red berry fruit is brightened by natural acidity and supported by firm but ripe tannins. From vineyards high on the Andes foothills. Gently made using gravity-flow winemaking instead of pumping. Barrel-aged for eight months in French and American oak.

2010 Bodegas Mas Alta Black Slate La Viella Alta (Priorat, Spain)
94 points, Wine Advocate : A project of acclaimed Rhone Valley winemakers Philippe Cambie and Michel Tardieu from one of Priorat's nine villages, La Vilella Alta.  60% Garnacha, 35% Carignan and Graphite, blueberry liqueur, raspberries, crushed rocks and spring flowers jump from the glass of this inky/purple-colored wine. Fabulous intensity, a multidimensional mouthfeel, supple tannins and a long finish. Pushes 16% in alcohol. Priorat wines this good normally sell for over $100 a bottle.

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Wine Tasting December 12 - 15, 2012

2009 Springfield Estate Wild Yeast Chardonnay (Robertson, South Africa)
Comes from the part of South Africa famous for its limestone soil. No wood used at all in the wine making. Consistently gets 4 stars of a possible 5 in Platter's Guide to the wines of South Africa.  93-92 points, www.gute-weine.de:Racy acidity, excellent depth, New World Chardonnay balance. Very clean tasting and minerally, with grapefruit, lemon, a touch of elderflower and a luscious hint of caramel. Wonderfully fresh and long finish.

2011 Urban Malbec/Tempranillo (Uco, Argentina)
One of the top values from Argentina that blends 50% Tempranillo and 50% Malbec and spends 3 months in oak. Deep purple in color, with an inviting bouquet of smoke, blackberry, and blueberry. Loaded on the palate with flavor, depth, and length. A overachiever and finest value, deserving to be bought by the case.91 points, Wine Advocate

2008 Casey Flat Ranch Open Range Red (California)
An unusually affordable blend of high altitude mountain grapes from multiple appellations, combining 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Syrah, 5% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc.  Black cherry and mint jump from the glass, followed by nutmeg and anise. True to its mountain origins, the wine features a chewy core with lively underlying acidity.

2010 Volver Tempranillo (La Mancha, Spain)
Bodegas Volver, a project developed and co-owned by Jorge Ordoñez, is located in the best terroir of La Mancha at an altitude of 1,980 feet.  Aged in high-end French oak for 14 months, this wine exhibits explosive, seductively perfumed aromas of candied red and dark berries, incense, rose pastille and Asian spices. Sappy, penetrating black raspberry and blueberry flavors show excellent depth and clarity, with smoky mineral and star anise nuances gaining strength with air. Closes sweet and very long, with lingering spiciness and gentle tannins. 91 Points, International Wine Cellar

2009 Del Fin Del Mundo Cabernet Franc (Patagonia, Argentina)
The grapes for this ripe, fresh Cabernet Franc are grown in a harsh desert climate and watered by a drip irrigation system, using melt water carried by the Neuquén river. This is a very intense, crimson red wine with notes of red fruits, blackberries, cassis and black Morello cherries.  It has notes of spices, coconut, tobacco and smoke. Pleasant, fruity and very balanced wine with mild tannins, and a long aftertaste. 

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Wine Tasting December 5 - 8, 2012

2011 Stags Leap Chardonnay (Napa, California)
With its lively acidity balanced by richness and minerality this wine is a true expression of grapes grown in in the cool southern Napa Valley region. Aromas of honeysuckle and stone fruit flavors of fresh peaches and nectarines mingle pleasantly with lemon and green apple.

2009 Etude Carneros Pinot Noir (Carneros, California)
In classical music, an etude is a composition that challenges the student to perfect a particular technique.  Like Chopin piano etudes, both notoriously difficult and sublimely  beautiful - Etude wines are often examples of the practicing craft  transformed to art  Burgundian in structure, this wine demonstrates refined tannins, bright acidity, a generous mouthfeel and a lingering finish. The palate bursts with flavors of sweet frambois strawberries, red cherries and mocha.  Lush fruit combined with the baking spice notes from aging in French oak creates a defined Pinot Noir with elegance and length.

2010 Mas Oller Pur (Emporda, Spain)
Right across the border from France, star wine maker Carlos Esteva joins  syrah (50%) garnacha (30%) and cabernet sauvignon (20%) in a dark,  fleshy, juicy, yet smooth wine with a slick vein of licorella.  The intensely perfumed bouquet of this bargain-priced offering displays  game, smoky black fruits, violet, lavender and cracked pepper. 91 points, Wine Advocate

2009 Veramonte Primus (Colchagua, Chile)
Veramonte has been a consistent source of quality wines from Chile for over 10 years.  The primus blends fruit grown in Colchagua Valley (cabernet sauvignon 44%,  syrah 21%, carmenere 19%, and merlot 15%) and ages the wine over 14  months in French oak. "Dark crushed cherries, cassis and graphite notes are supported by a  full-bodied frame of fine tannins and fresh acidity, as the compact  finish unwinds with hints of cured olive, grilled herb and spice €
Wine Spectator - 90 Points / #95 on Top 100 Wines of 2012

2010 Boneshaker Zinfandel (Lodi, California)
From the first cork pulled and first sip taken, leaves vinous thirst slaked and bones thoroughly " SHAKEN. The ghoulish, glow-in-the-dark label from this Gladiator wine features a  velocipede - riding wooden tires on cobble stones must, indeed, have  been a bone-shaking experience.  This is a big, bold and intense wine with concentrated sweet berry aromas that lead to layered dark plum, caramelized cherry, bittersweet chocolate, and a rich, full mouthfeel, all balanced with nice acidity and well-structured tannins. Subtle hints of spice, pepper, and sweet tobacco grace the long, smooth and silky finish.

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Wine Tasting November 28 - December 1, 2012

2008 Lucia Pisoni Chardonnay (Santa Lucia Highlands, California)
Aged in 80% new oak with full malolactic fermentation. Peach blossom, citrus oil, white currant, honeysuckle, and orange jump from the glass of this fruit-laden, full-bodied style of Chardonnay, with the oak well-concealed. A layered texture, good acidity, and striking minerality.

2008 Flavium Bierzo Mencia (Bierzo, Spain)
Terrific value.  100% Mencia. Sappy red fruit, a squirt of passion fruit, and a hint of wildflowers. Ripe, round, mouth filling, and long. Versatile with food, drink now or years later. 90 points, Wine Advocate.

2009 Fess Parker Big Easy Syrah (Santa Barbera, California)
Flamboyant ripe raspberry, cherry and blackberry fruit with notes of smoked meat, vanilla, and lavender. Blends several vineyards throughout the county. Includes smaller amounts of Petite Sirah and Grenache. Complex, rich, and tannic.

2009 Sbragia Gino's Vineyard Zinfandel (Dry Creek, California)
93 points, Wine Enthusiast (March 1, 2012):A fantastic Zinfandel, Sbragia's best in years, and one of the best of the vintage. Shows classic Dry Creek wild blueberry and briary blackberry flavors, with exotic spices, and the exuberance you want in a Zin. Yet it exhibits a rare control, making it elegant despite the power. Drink now for sheer joy.

2008 Northstar Merlot (Columbia Valley, Washington)
A substantial, muscular, and serious wine with the power usually associated with Cabernet Sauvignon in the United States, instead of Merlot. Cassis, blackberry, violets, tobacco, and bright acidity. Aged in 60% new French oak. Contains some Petite Verdot, which darkens the color and contributes tannins, and purple flowers. 91 points in both the Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast.

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Wine Tasting November 21, 23, 24, 2012

2010 Baron de Hoen Gewurztraminer (Alsace, France)
Bright yellow , an oily and fat texture, rose water, very moderate acidity, a light sweetness, and a slight bitterness in the finish.

 2008 Freestone Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast, California)
92 points, Wine Enthusiast: Enormously ripe in cherries, raspberries, cranberries and dates, almost sweet, except that it's totally dry, and the acidity is fresh and bright. A big, big wine that dazzles for sheer power, although it's not especially subtle right now. That could change in the cellar. Give it a few years, and then a good decanting before service. 

2009 Domaine Renjarde Cote du Rhone Village (France)
Situated on a small hill that was the site of a Roman village. 65% Grenache, 17% Syrah, 11% Cinsault, 4% Carignan, and 4% Mourvedre. Winemaker's Notes: Dark red color with purple highlights.The nose is intense and complex with notes of candied fruits, sweet spices, toast and dark red fruit. The palate is perfectly balanced, with lots of freshness, roundness and complexity. The tannins suggest a nice cellaring potential. The finish is very long with scents of blackberry, black cherry and chocolate.

 2010 Puech-Haut Prestige (France)
94 points, Jeb Dunnuck, the Rhone Report 3/18/12: Even better than the brilliant  2009, with more elegance and freshness. A custom cuvee made by Philippe Cambie and Eric Solomon. 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Carignan that's aged half in concrete and half in neutral barrel. Has a vivid, semi-opaque purple color to go with captivating aromas of raspberry liqueur, cassis, fresh flowers, sappy underbrush, and licorice-like qualities that simply soar from the glass. Impeccably put together with a pure and polished profile, a sappy full-bodied texture, fine balance, and a long seamless finish. Combines real poise and elegance with plenty of power and depth. Has the balance and tannic structure to evolve gracefully for a decade and remain wonderful drunk young.

2009 Bogle Phantom (California)
52% Zinfandel, 46% Petite Sirah, 2% Mourvedre. A serious higher end wine of Bogle, with strong fruit, good concentration, and ample tannin and acidity to be refreshing and excellent with a wide variety of food.

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Wine Tasting November 14 - 17, 2012

2011 Little Lion Company Butternut Chardonnay (California)
Aromas of peach, hazelnut and spiced candied apple. Round, creamy notes of fig, butterscotch and sweet oak.

2009 Sensi Sabbiato (Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy)
Produced with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 20% Sangiovese grapes. Fermented in stainless steel and bottle aged for 6 months.  A dry, warm, round, and balanced taste, resembling Bordeaux wines.

2009 Antigal Uno Malbec (Argentina)
Each bottle has an impressive large bronzed "1" on it. The wine inside is big, bright, and fruity, with blueberry and blackberry, coffee, oak, and tobacco.  Luscious black and red berry fruit is brightened by natural acidity and supported by firm but ripe tannins. From vineyards high on the Andes foothills. Gently made using gravity-flow winemaking instead of pumping. Barrel-aged for eight months in French and American oak.

2010 Torbreck Woodcutters Shiraz (Barossa, Australia)
91 points, Wine Advocate: Very deep purple-black colored. Begins with youthful aromas of black fruits, blueberry and blackberry preserves with underlying cassis, chocolate, nut and licorice hints. Full, rich, and  mouth-filling, well supported by medium to firm velvety tannins and lively acid, lending texture and freshness through the long finish. Drinks nicely now and will keep through 2016.

2010 Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon (Lodi, California)
A dark, big bodied, and fruity wine. Aromas of vanilla, coffee, and black cherry. Slides into blackberry and tannins, ending with a touch of leather.

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Wine Tasting November 7 - 10, 2012

2009 Ventisquero Reserva Pinot Noir (Casablanca, Chile)
A line of affordable Pinot Noir that gently extracts color, tannins, and flavors from the grapes in order to make a wine that is ruby rather than black, elegant rather than heavy, and nuanced and complex rather than domineering. 70% of the wine is stored for 10 months in French oak.  The flavors are juicy red fruits of strawberry, cherry, and raspberry with a brush of vanilla, and the feel in the mouth is round and softened rather than edgy or rough.

2004 Avontuur Baccarat (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Named not after a casino game but a select rose flower with a dark royal velvet color. Solidly in the tradition of South Africa of making a Bordeaux styled blend from about half Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Blackberry and black currant fruit with pencil lead and firm black tea tannins. The sample we tasted was in excellent shape.

2008 Azienda Agricola La Giaretta Amarone della Valpolicella Classico (Italy)
Made from air dried grapes, which makes a denser wine from having grapes with less water. Dried cherry is the main fruit flavor, along with nuances of cocoa, figs, and dates. Dark ruby color and firm tannins.

2010 Trentadue La Storia Estate Petite Sirah (Alexander Valley, California)
This is a classic coastal California Petite Sirah, blended with some Syrah and a little Zinfandel. Nearly black in color, full-bodied, very dry, with high alcohol framing thick tannins and massive flavors of blackberries, black currants, dark unsweetened chocolate, coffee and spices.

2009 Von Strasser Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa, California)
Von Strasser makes powerful and ageworthy wines from Cabernet Sauvignon from the Diamond Mountain appellation in Napa. His most expensive ones are his single vineyard bottlings. This is his DMD cuvee that usually blends across all five of his small to tiny Diamond Mountain vineyards. Only 1,400 cases made. Predominately blackberry, edged by blueberry, fresh fig, and pie spice. 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot, 6% Merlot. Although somewhat softer and more forward and elegant than his others, it remains tannic, long, dry, and full bore. Aged in 100% French oak barrels, 30% new.  The most darkly colored and extracted barrels go into his single vineyard wines, which tend to be the blocks with the oldest vines, the highest elevation, and the smallest berries. The 2009 Estate Vineyards of this wine, one step up from the Mountain District and part of what went into DMD, got 98 points in the Wine Enthusiast. The DMD version got 93 points and costs a fraction of the Estate Vineyards. Both are the highest rated of these particular Von Strasser wines ever by the Wine Enthusiast.

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Wine Tasting October 31 - November 3, 2012
"ZINFEST"

2008 Starry Night Zinfandel (Alexander Valley, California)
Winemaker's Notes:Aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels for over two years, it has rich fruit driven aromas and flavors of plums, blackberries and currants along with pepper and spice notes.

2009 Marietta Cellars Angeli Cuvee Zinfandel (California)
The Angeli is this winery's top Zinfandel, from old vines that produce very ripe fruit mouth filling intensity. Outstanding richness with great complexity and balance. Heady, broad, and dense with raspberry jam, spice, camphor, hints of anise, and toasty oak. Coats the palate with toasted oak and ripe spicy berry flavors. A big wine that offers great aging potential, with only 2,400 cases made. Blends Zinfandel. Petite Sirah, and Carignane.

2010 Seghesio Rockpile Zinfandel (Dry Creek, California)
The Rockpile Appellation is famous for making a dryer and less raisiny style of Zinfandel more like Cabernet Sauvignon, with cocoa, tobacco, firm tannins & acidity, and black fruits of blackberry, plum, and black currants.

2010 Venge Scouts Honor (Napa, California)
From 30 to 60 year-old vines, majority Zinfandel with Petite Sirah, Charbono, and Syrah. Small individual lots of fruit were destemmed and whole-berry fermentation took an average for 12 days in tank. Aged for 18 months in 60% new American Oak from Missouri. Brawny, deep, and concentrated black cherry, briary raspberry, cinnamon, clove, pepper, spice, smoky dark chocolate and dried blueberry. Not a leftover wine, but a featured, upper end wine. Staff favorite Wine of the Month, Vino Gallery (St Louis, Missouri).

2010 Michael & David Earthquake Zinfandel (Lodi, California)
A new vintage of a wine that the Best Cellar has featured for more than a decade. Delivers a style very popular with Zinfandel lovers: high in alcohol, sweet, ripe, dense, soft, and red fruit jam. With some Petite Sirah and Syrah. Plum, cinnamon, black raspberry, vanilla, pie crust and mocha.

2009 Michael & David Lust Zinfandel (Lodi, California)
A high end Zin from Michael & David.  Has a soft texture and decadent mouthfeel, with flavors of creme de cassis, caramel cream, melted milk chocolate, tangerine zest, cinnamon-spiced gingerbread, and raisin.

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Wine Tasting October 24 - 27, 2012

2009 Elena Walch Gewurztraminer (Alto Adigio, Italy)
The Elena Walch estate arguably makes Italy's best Gewurztraminer. The wine is framed by bright acidity, minerality, and fatty texture, along with the unique spiciness, rose petal, and lychee flavors of this grape. The Gewurztraminer grape grows best in a wide arc surrounding the Alps, through Northern Italy, Austria, Germany, and the Alsace in France, and most of the great estates are German in heritage. Delightful with spicy sausage.

2006 Mariflor Pinot Noir (Uco Valley, Argentina)
Made by Michel Rolland.Initially the wine featured an unusual mocha coffee nose with an earthiness and a touch of green herbs. The fruit started with a sweet strawberry and creamy texture, and then veered toward a tannic and sour cherry in the finish. By now, we should see the truth character of a more settled wine. 

2009 Trentadue La Storia Estate Petite Sirah (Alexander Valley, California)
This is a classic coastal California Petite Sirah. Nearly black in color, full-bodied, very dry, with high alcohol framing massive flavors of blackberries, black currants, dark unsweetened chocolate, coffee and spices.

2008 Powers Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Sheridan Vineyards (Washington)
95% Cab from Sheridan, plus 3% Malbec and 2% Petite Verdot from Alice Vineyard. Barrel fermented and aged 34% in new French oak. Lush, layered, and lingering, with coffee, cocoa, cherries, and blackberries.  Grapes are from the best block in the vineyard. A strong candidate for the greatest wine made by Powers.

2009 Schild Shiraz (Barossa, Australia)
92 points, Wine Spectator:An expressive Shiraz, bursting with dark plum and bright blueberry notes, joined by hints of roasted meat and spice. The finish rolls along with an airy, open texture that lets the flavors sail. Has depth and pinpoint balance. Drink now through 2019.

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Wine Tasting October 17 - 20, 2012

2011 Hogue Riesling (Washington)
Of the prior 2010:A delightful, off-dry style with the bracing acidity to balance the 2.3% residual sugar. About 3% Muscat was blended in, adding a pretty orange note to a fruit-laden mix of melon, citrus and cotton candy.

2010 Gougenheim Bonarda/Syrah (Argentina)
A great value red blend, from Argentina. Very dark purple color. Dried fruit aromas with notes of earth, toast, smoke and blackberry. Medium to full body and balanced tannins. The grapes come from the Uco Valley, which is over 3.600 feet above sea level.

2005 Chateau de la Tourettes Guffens Enfin Rouge (France)
One of the great values from southern France. Blends Grenache with some Syrah. Dark and fruity, with refreshing acidity and structuring tannins.  Will keep well for years longer.

2011 Urban Malbec/ Tempranillo (Uco, Argentina)
91 points, Wine Advocate: Blends 50% Tempranillo and 50% Malbec. 3 months in oak. Deep purple in color, with an inviting bouquet of smoke, blackberry, and blueberry. Loaded on the palate with flavor, depth, and length. A overachiever and finest value, deserving to be bought by the case.

2009 Ghost Block Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa, California)
K&L Wines:100% Cabernet from the gravelly loam soils of the Rock Cairn Vineyard in Oakville. Aged for 24 months in 60% new French oak, this is one big, rich Cabernet, with intense blackberry, Bing cherry, and baker's chocolate aromas and flavors, accented by notes of hibiscus, vanilla, and exotic smokey spice. Full on the palate, with layers of baked berry flavors, creamy caramel, and toasty vanilla. Sweet tobacco laces up the fruit-filled finish, which rides smoothly along the back of ultra-polished tannins. 

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Wine Tasting October 10 - 13, 2012

2010 Caves de Lugny Les Charmes (Burgundy, France)
A single vineyard Chardonnay from southern Burgundy in France. Compared to California Chardonnays, more citrus than tropical flavors, more minerally than creamy, and more brightly acidic.

2010 Odfjell Armador Carmenere (Maipo Valley, Chile)
One of the few wines made by a Norwegian, who made his fortune in shipping and resettled in much warmer and sunnier Chile. 100% Carmenere lightly oaked. Winemaker's Notes: Alluring red purple color with intensive aromas of black fruits and licorice together with spicy notes such as black pepper and cloves, finishing with vanilla and hints of bitter chocolate. The palate is long and refreshing with soft, ripe fruit and a touch of spices.

2009 Las Perdices Syrah (Mendoza, Argentina)
Includes 7% Viognier, which is co-fermented with the Syrah. From a vineyard over 3,300 feet high. Very clear and satisfying flavors of blueberry and raspberry.

2007 Morgenhof Estate Merlot (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
100% Merlot, grown on hillside vineyards. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. Luxuriously smooth with plum and black cherry.

2005 Arnold Palmer Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (California)
Golf-legend Arnold Palmer and the founder of Luna Vineyards developed Arnold Palmer Wines in 2003.  They target mainly high-end restaurants and resorts. Winemaker's notes: Dark chocolate, anise, and black cherry scents appear on the nose. Amazing intensity on the entry, with a tannic, broad structure. The mid-palate is deep and complex, with blackberries, licorice, and earth notes supporting the flavor of Black Mission figs. The finish opens up, with a surge of plum, berry, and rich cassis.

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Wine Tasting October 3 - 6, 2012

2010 Leese-Fitch Sauvignon Blanc (California)
90 points, Wine Enthusiast: A lovely Sauvignon Blanc, dry, crisply acidic and clean, with complex citrus, flower and mineral flavors. A great value for the money. Owned by the Sebastiani family.

2008 Borsao Campo de Borja Estylo Puro (Spain)
Purple -colored and sourced from 50+ years-old vines, with a nose of black cherry fruit that jumps out of the glass. Layered, intense spicy and succulent. Full flavored and a plush finish. Aged 3 months in oak.

 2009 Chateau Pierrail Bordeaux Superior (France)
Blackberry and cherry fruit. Firm tannins and bright acidity. Dry in the mouth. Drinks well now.

2009 Puro Uno Quadro Limitado (Mendoza, Argentina)
www.bountyhunterwine.com: Some of the world's best winemakers have been flocking to Mendoza. It's a vineyard laboratory with world-class fruit and no rules other than, 'if it tastes good, do it.' That's what's happening here, a Malbec based blend with Cabernet, Tempranillo and Syrah as the backing band. Brooding dark berry fruits, purple fruits and an anise-herb character highlight an impressively rich weight and mouthfeel. We suspect the scores are a comin'… 

2009 Gunlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvee Sonoma 2009
Winemaker's Notes: Soft, rich aromas and flavors of blueberry preserves, red currants & vanilla cream, with a meaty texture and notes of sweet sage and herbs de provene. The long, chewy finish is full of dense berry and cocoa. A lush, fruit-forward wine intended to be enjoyed within five years of vintage. 52% Merlot, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Syrah.

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Wine Tasting September 26 - 29, 2012

Multi-Vintage The Messenger Telegram White Wine # One (Oakville California)
Winemaker's Notes: A dramatic blend of Sauvignon Blanc 69%, Muscat Canelli 18% and Riesling 13%. The aroma is wild and serves you exotic, tropical and spice notes. The finish has a hint of sweetness which is carried beautifully by the intensity and complexity of the wine. Mixes vineyards, varietals and vintages. No oak and all from Northern California.

Multi-Vintage The Messenger Telegram Red Wine # One (Oakville California)
Winemaker's Notes: We layered vineyards, varietals and vintages.  Cabernet Sauvignon 58%, Merlot 19% , Montepulciano 12% , Malbec 8%, and Cabernet Franc 3%. Bright raspberry with vanilla and a chewy mouth feel. Designed to make people ask for more.

2007 Spelt Montelpulciano D'Abruzzo (Italy)
90 points, Wine Advocate:Caresses the palate with layers of silky red fruit. Textural elegance, fabulous balance and overall radiance.

2005 Camberly Cabernet Merlot (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
This red starts with a gorgeous nose of anise, mint, spicebox and pepper, followed by more delicate, food-friendly black fruit and spice. Approachable and easy drinking, with a softer touch that allows it to be paired with everything from beef stew to lighter fare.

2009 Puro Uno Malbec Limitado (Mendoza, Argentina)
Of the prior 2008 vintage, winery notes: 12 months in 35% new oak. Vineyards 3,100 feet to 3,770 high. 100% Malbec. Boysenberry and blackberry.

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Wine Tasting September 19 - 22, 2012

2006 HDV De La Guerra Chardonnay (Carneros, Napa)
A French interpretation of California Chardonnay fruit, from the combination of the Hyde family vineyards and the Villaine family in Burgundy that makes the most famous Pinot Noir wines in the world. Here the silky texture, an oaky vanilla, and a strong fruit are not so huge that they overwhelm any sense of minerality, floral accents, steely acidity, delicate tea tannin, and pear skin.  The overall taste is not sheer power but a harmonious savory complexity.

 2007 Piedemonte Crianza (Spain)
Aged for 12 months in 70% French barrels and 30% American. Red ruby color. Ripe red berry fruits with hints of spice. The palate is full and harmonious with blackberry and mulberry fruits and firm tannins. Well-integrated, good structure and depth.

2008 Flavium Mencia (Bierzo, Spain)
90 points, Wine Advocate: Spent 20 months in French and American oak. Opulent, rich, and lengthy, with  the balance to drink well for 6-8 years but at the asking price most  consumers will want to grab some immediate gratification.

2009 Biscardo Ripasso Classico Superiore (Italy)
Aromas of chocolate-covered cherries, vanillin, violets and a dash of nutmeg. Fairly smooth and flesh, with medium acidity and soft tannins. A bit of cocoa in the finish.

2009 Chateau Laplagnotte de Bellevue (Saint-Émilion, France)
A Bordeaux from a  vintage that is a very strong candidate for the greatest vintage of the decade. Cassis and plums with round soft tanins and good length. Should improve for years yet is very drinkable now.

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Wine Tasting September 12 - 15, 2012

2011 Seven Hills Pinot Gris (Oregon)
Winemaker's Notes: Our single-vineyard Pinot Gris fruit is carefully pressed after harvest to preserve fruit character and a fresh, clean mouth feel.  We ferment with Chanson yeast in stainless steel, adding just enough time in French oak to complement the fruit.  The wine is light straw-gold in color with aromas of ripe citrus, spearmint, pear and fresh hazelnut.  There's an enticing streak of vanillin from the oak.  The wine is dry, but has a bright, sweet citrus palate made more interesting by a hint of spearmint by mouth.  The finish is clean, brisk and fruity.

2008 Eberle Zinfandel (Paso Robles, California)
Winemaker's Notes: showcases two of Paso Robles finest Zinfandel vineyards, the reputable Steinbeck Vineyard and the Wine-Bush Vineyard. Together these two vineyards result in a Zinfandel that has a bounty of fruit expression with balanced tannins and acid. The nose promises dark rich briar fruit with an essence of ginger snaps. The first sip engulfs the palate with black berry, red raspberry with a hint of cocoa.

2008 Stratton Lummis Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa, California)
Uses purchased grapes to hold down costs. Consistently excellent and improves with age, and a best value for Cabs from Napa. Winemaker's Notes: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot. Earth, olive, and cherry on the nose. Smooth, velvety, and elegant, but balanced by acid and tannin.

2006 Kaesler WOMS Shiraz/Cabernet (Australia)
64% Shiraz and 36% Cabernet. WOWS stands for weapon of mass seduction. Released only in better years. Aged for 18 months in 90% new Burgundian barriques. Blackberry, cherry, oak, and tannin.  94 points James Halliday's Australian wine Companion.

2009 Fabre Montmayou Gran Reserva Malbec 2009
Top end, barrel aged Gran Reserva Malbec from 80 year old vines. Aged 12 month in French oak. Sumptuous and rich.

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Wine Tasting September 5 - 8, 2012

2006 Guffens-Heynen Pierreclos Premier Cru Jus de Chavigne (Macon, Burgundy, France)
An astonishingly good close out, in perfect condition, that shows why France is famous for its Chardonnay.92 points, International Wine Cellar: Light yellow. Spicy, mineral-dominated and fresh on the nose, with energetic lime and pink grapefruit scents; picks up white flowers and licorice with air. Juicy citrus and green apple flavors flesh out to offer poached pear and peach, without losing their focus. Strikingly pure wine, finishing with admirable lift and cut.

2010 Morris Farms Morellino di Scansano Vedemmia (Italy)
Scansano is the part of Tuscany famous for the affordable quality of its Sangiovese wines. And this wine is dark and flavorful, yet laced with drying tannins. 90% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Syrah. 90 points, Wine Advocate.

2008 Corregia Barbera D'alba (Italy)
The most affordable Barbera d'Alba this estate makes, but still is caressing, fruity, and well integrated.  Not a blockbuster, but an affordable wine that shows you how good Barbera is.

2008 Gordon Brothers Cabernet Six (Washington)
Named after the Clone 6 that was planted in the vineyard. Made in a dry style with tannins and refreshing sour cherry acidity, versus trying to make the blackest and ripest wine possible. 90 points, Wine Enthusiast: All estate-grown, this beautifully crafted Cabernet is a fine expression of Columbia Valley fruit. It's lifted with juicy berry and black cherry flavors, then expanded with notes of cola, earth, leaf, herb and roasted coffee. Everything is in proportion, and the overall impression is of balance and elegance, depth without excess. It's a style of Cabernet that may have fallen out of favor, but shows exceptional grape growing and winemaking skills.

2007 De Trafford Cabernet Sauvignon (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
De Trafford is a strong candidate for the best winery in South Africa from the best wine growing region. And their Cabernet Sauvignon has always been one of their best wines. Dark in color, with blackberry and black currant flavors, firm tannins, and refreshing acidity. Improves with age.  92 points, International Wine Cellar:Deep ruby.  Vibrant nose combines blackberry, licorice pastille and bitter chocolate.  Dense, sweet and palate-saturating, with chewy, deep flavors of brambly berries, cedar and lead pencil.  Tactile, sexy wine with a distinctly New World aspect.  Finishes chewy and very long, with serious tannins that will support a decade or more of evolution in bottle.  Very impressive: for all its richness, it's also shapely and youthfully taut.

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Wine Tasting August 22 - 25, 2012

2010 D'Arenberg Hermit Crab Viognier-Rousanne (McLaren Vale, Australia)
Made from white wine varietals that originated in the Rhone River Valley in France. Plump yet refreshing, with a somewhat exotic taste of flowers, peach, and tropical fruits. Consistently rated around 90 points.

2010 Castano Monastrell Old Vines (Yecla, Spain)
Monastrel (or Mourvedre in French) is famous for making well structured wines that resist oxidation and keep a dark color, and in many blends is the ingredient grape most cherished for making the wine age worthy. Generally, price rises with the percent Monastrel, but Spain is the world leader for affordable Monastrel. Bodegas Castano is both 100% Monastrel and unoaked. Has a glass-coating opaque purple color, and inviting aromas of Asian spices, incense, black fruits and cocoa. The palate is juicy, fruity, plush, long and well-balanced.  Almost unbelievable value.

2009 Domaine de Courteillac (Bordeaux, Entre-deux-Mers, France)
A classic blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Sexy, seductive, soft, and velvety with ample black cherry and black currant fruit and hints of earth, herbs and oak. A convincing demonstration that Bordeaux makes wines which are both eminently affordable and drinkable.

2009 Matteo Correggia Barbera d'Alba Marun (Italy)
91 points, Wine Advocate:Fabulous intensity along with radiant dark raspberries, flowers, licorice and French oak. Juicy and silky, at once both polished and sexy.

 2008 Casey Flat Ranch Open Range Red (California)
An unusually affordable blend of high altitude mountain grapes from multiple appellations, combining 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Syrah, 5% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Black cherry and mint jump from the glass, followed by nutmeg and anise. True to its mountain origins, the wine features a chewy core with lively underlying acidity.

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Wine Tasting August 15- 18, 2012

2011 Little Lion Company Butternut Chardonnay (California)
Round and creamy with notes of hazelnut, caramel and buttered popcorn. 14 months on new French oak. Grapes from the regions of Carneros, Coombsville, Santa Lucia, and Arroyo Seco in Monterey.

2009 Finca La Estacada 12 meses en Barrica (Spain)
100% Tempranillo. A deep cherry red color with violet edges. Intense and concentrated nose of ripe blackberry and plum, with notes of new oak. Powerful but subtle, with an elegant finish with soft tannins.

2010 Hahn Meritage Central Coast (California)
48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 9% Malbec, 8% Petite Verdot. Dark and approachable yet complex. Pronounced blackberry and blueberry on the nose mingle with cedar spice and a hint of wood. Flavors of bramble fruit, cherry, vanilla and dried herbs in the mouth.

2009 Fabre Montmayou Malbec Gran Reserva (Argentina)
103 year old vines. All Malbec, aged in French oak for 12 months.91 points, Wine Advocate:Smoky oak, game, lavender, black cherry, and blueberry inform the nose of a layered, plush, flavorful wine with superb volume and length for its modest price.

2009 Seven Hills Ciel de Cheval Red (Washington)
39% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 11% Cabernet Franc. 95 points, Wine Enthusiast: Roses, blackberries, cassis and baking spices are beautifully rendered in a wine rich in depth and detail. More bottle age will surely bring still more complexity and soften some astringent tannins.

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Wine Tasting August 8- 11, 2012
ZINFEST

2009 Peirano Estate Immortal Zinfandel (Lodi, California)
The winery's flagship wine, made from a 100+ year old vineyard that is the largest vineyard in the United States with head trained ungrafted Zinfandel that until 2010 was a source for Gallo, Ravenswood, Ridge, and Rosenblum wines. Originally planted from cuttings in Italy. A silken smooth, rather elegant wine, chiseled with fine rather than overwrought or ungainly tannins. Brightly aromatic notes of wild raspberry and cranberry, with zesty flavors with cocoa dust and scrubby earth. Every wine made is identically priced at the winery.

2008 Eberle Zinfandel Steinbeck & Wine Bush Vineyards (Paso Robles, California)
93 points, Porthos.com:The nose promises dark rich briar fruit with an essence of ginger snaps. The first sip engulfs the palate with blackberry and red raspberry with a hint of cocoa. The 2008 is an elegant vintage with tannins that hit the front of your tongue and seeps into the sides of your mouth for a long lingering finish.

2009 Four Vines Biker Zin (Paso Robles, California)
Grown on rocky limestone soils with low yields. Includes a little Mouvedre. 93 points, Wine Spectator: Sleek and supple, with raspberry and white pepper aromas and delicately layered huckleberry, licorice and smoky sage flavors that linger nicely on the finish. Drink now through 2014.

2009 Terraces Zinfandel (Napa, California)
Made from an old clone with open clusters and small berries, planted on terraced slopes 300-400 feet high on volcanic soil. The combination makes a well structured and bright style of Zinfandel that never seeks to be raisiny, sweet, or heavy. It ages beautifully and impresses with flavors that are both powerful and clear.

2010 Venge Scouts Honor (Napa, California)
From 30 to 60 year-old vines, majority Zinfandel with Petite Sirah, Charbono, and Syrah. Small individual lots of fruit were destemmed and whole-berry fermentation took an average for 12 days in tank. Aged for 18 months in 60% new American Oak from Missouri. Brawny, deep, and concentrated black cherry, briary raspberry, cinnamon, clove, pepper, spice, smoky dark chocolate and dried blueberry. Not a leftover wine, but a featured, upper end wine. Staff favorite Wine of the Month, Vino Gallery (St Louis, Missouri).

2010 Michael & David Earthquake Zinfandel (Lodi, California)
A new vintage of a wine that the Best Cellar has featured for more than a decade.Delivers a style very popular with Zinfandel lovers: high in alcohol, sweet, ripe, dense, soft, and red fruit jam. With some Petite Sirah and Syrah. Plum, cinnamon, black raspberry vanilla, pie crust and mocha.

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Wine Tasting August 1 - 4, 2012

2011 Domaines Listel Rose Grain De Gris (France)
From the largest vineyard owner in France, founded in 1883 along the Golfe du Lion after the discovery that very sandy soils escaped phylloxera. FromCarignan, Cinsault and Grenache. Peach, apricot, and strawberry flavors.

2008 Flavium Mencia Premium (Bierzo, Spain)
90 points, Wine Advocate: 20 months in French and American oak. Opulent, rich, and lengthy, with the balance to drink well for 6-8 years. At an asking price most consumers will want to grab some immediate gratification.

2007 Northstar Stella Maris (Columbia Valley, Washington)
A soft and silky wine with vanilla and rich dark chocolate, coconut, raspberry and cherry, green olive with long smoke finish. Enjoy the layers of flavors to be discovered in this Reserve red table wine we affectionately call "Stella".  29% merlot, 38% cabernet sauvignon, 21% syrah, 9% cabernet franc, and 3% petit verdot.  89 points, Wine Spectator: A very ripe style, with berry compote and white pepper flavors on a  supple frame, finishing with an open texture.

2010 Michael & David Petite Petit (Lodi, California)
Petite Petit is a cleverly named wine from the two grapes used – 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot – which refers not to the smallness of the wine, but the small size of the grapes. A dense and sometimes jammy wine with dark color, powerful fruit, and significant tannin. The winery notes describe the 2010 as medium-bodied, suggesting this vintage is less heavy. Aged 16 months in new French oak. Double gold medal, 2012 California State Fair Wine Competition.

2008 Valleselle Aurum Amorone Classico (Veneto, Italy)
Corvina 80%, Rondinella 15%, Molinara 5%. Grapes dried on mats or racks until January. Plum and vanilla. Aged 18-24 months in Slavonian oak.  A light sweetness from some residual sugar.

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Wine Tasting July 25 - 28, 2012

2008 Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo 2008 Italy
Greco di Tufo is an old Italian grape varietal nursed back from near extinction by this estate. Wine Advocate: Another reference-point wine in this price range. Layers of minerality and floral, perfumed fruit are woven together in a focused expression of fruit that lingers on the palate with notable length.

2009 Three Old Vines Field Blend (Contra Costa, California)
"Three" is the winery. 34% Zinfandel, 21% Carignane, 19% Mouvedre, 16% Petite Sirah, 8% Alicante Bouschet, and 2% Black Malvoisie. From vineyard blocks with extremely sandy soils called Delhi Sandy Loam. The average age of vines is over 100 years with most still being dry farmed. Yields always below 3 tons peracre results in concentrated flavors of raspberries (Zinfandel, Black Malvoisie), dark cherries and coffee (Carignane), blueberries and pepper (Petite Sirah), violets and Provencal herbs (Mourvedre), and a meaty spice element (Alicante Bouschet). 

2007 Finca La Estacada 18 Meses en Barrica (Spain)
The winery widely distributes 3 wines, and this is their best of the 3. Made from 40% Tempranillo, 30%  Cabernet Sauvigon, 20% Merlot, and a dash of Syrah. Richer and smoother.

2001 Morganhoff Estate Premier Selection (South Africa)
A classic Bordeaux blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec. The flavors are prune, black cherries, cigar, dark chocolate, and meatiness.

2006 Atuata Ribero del Duero (Spain)
95 points, Wine Enthusiast: What a beauty! Masculine aromas of black fruits, cola and oak sit there begging to be sipped, while the lush, deep palate is home to dense blackberry, cassis and chocolate flavors. Lively but dense, with tannins, plenty of oak and a finish of black pepper, fudge and vanilla. Complex and exciting Spanish wine. Needs time; best from 2012 through 2018.

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Wine Tasting July 18 - 21, 2012

2011 Familia Falasco Los Haroldos Torrontes (Los Alamos - Maipú, Argentina)
Vinhosweb.com (Brazil): Medal from Our Best Buy Wine Awards. 100% Torrontes from vines 15 years old and 600 meters high. Floral and fresh, with notes of peach.

2006 Le Pigeoulet en Provence (Vaucluse, France)
Imported by Kermit Lynch. Has same winemaker as the much more famous Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape, who makes this as his everyday wine.  Pretty, pure beam of black cherry fruit backed by herb and tobacco. Fruit echoes on the modestly structured finish. 80% Grenache plus some Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cinsault.

2009 Owen Roe Abbot's Table Columbia Valley (Washington)
25% Zinfandel, 20% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, Grenache 13%, 7% Blaufrankish, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, 1% Merlot. Aims for ripe, deep, rich flavors. This very balanced and smooth Abbot's Table has the signature velvety mouth feel with a lattice of gentle tannins to support generous ripe flavors of bold red and black fruit, plums, and dark cherries. There's just a hint of spice and white pepper to give the finish a lasting lift.

2005 Resalte Ribera del Duero Crianza (Spain)
94 points, Wine Spectator, 2010 #26 in TOP 100 List:  Fresh and focused, this firm red delivers ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit, backed by espresso and licorice accents, finishing with alluring notes of sous-bois and mineral. This has depth and drive. Drink now through 2016.

2009 Seven Hills Walla Walla Merlot (Washington)
93 points, Editor's Choice, Wine Enthusiast:Skillfully made, blended with 9% Cabernet Franc, all estate-grown, this long and lovely Merlot captivates with sophisticated, elegant styling. The Franc brings some floral highlights to the nose; while the sturdy Merlot, dressed in accents of incense and sandalwood, cocoa and cinnamon, powers its way through a marvelously long finish.

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Wine Tasting July 11 - 14, 2012
This Week We Featured Wines From:
Gerard Bertrand
Wine Enthusiast 2011 Wine Star Awards Winners - "European Winery of the Year"

2010 Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux Rose
Has an inviting salmon color, fine bubbles, a lightly creamy texture, a brush of tannin and minerals, with a tasty strawberry and cherry fruit. Made from 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, and 10% Pinot Noir. Uses a secondary fermentation in the bottle, just like Champagne.

2009 Gerard BertrandRéserve Spéciale Pinot NoirD'Oc
Imposingly named but modestly priced. Pinot Noir does poorly in scorching weather, but can grow well in cloudier and cooler microclimates in southern France, harvested a month later.  A dark ruby color, bright acidity, silky mouth feel, and a drying streak of tannin, with red and black cherry fruit.

2009 Gerard Bertrand Minervois
Janet Dorozynski, National Post, Ontario, Canada:A crowd pleasing blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan from Southern France's Minervois appellation. Intense blackcurrant, spice and smoke dominate the nose and palate. Rich and full-bodied, though never heavy or jammy due to the lively acidity. Very long finish and a very good buy. Drinks well now.

2009 Gerard Bertrand Tautavel Grand Terroirs  Cotes Du Roussillon Village
From between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean sea, quite close to Catalonia, Spain.  50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Carignan grapes. Of the 2008 vintage, 90 points, Wine Spectator: Captures the essence of blueberry, displaying touches of spicy elegance and a luscious mouthfeel. Very pure and well-structured, with a long, cocoa powder-infused finish. Drink now through 2018. 15,000 cases made.

2009 Gerard BertrandRéserve Spéciale Cabernet Sauvignon
Aged 10 months in barrel and then 3 months in bottle before release.  100%  Cabernet Sauvignoni. Rounded, intensely fruity cassis, redcurrant, and plum). Balanced and long on the finish. Of the 2005, Wine Enthusiast: Velvety texture, long finish and superb approachability. An excellent value Cab.  Black plum and currant are supported by notes of crushed violets, milk chocolate and menthol. Black cherry skins shine on the finish.

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Wine Tasting July 4 - 7, 2012

2010 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris (Sonoma Coast, California)
Winemaker's Notes:Expressive & fruit forward with rich aromas of fig, white peach, and pear. Bright & interesting citrus and spice. Peach, spicy pear and citrus meld together in a rich core, with a round mouth feel complementing a crisp, clean finish. Blends 97% Pinot Gris, 2% Chardonnay and 1% Viognier.

2010 Testarossa Pinot Noir Santa Barbara (California)
Grapes primarily from the Santa Lucia Highlands on mostly porous shale soil. 2010 was an unusually cool summer, but no rain in the fall let the harvest wait until October. Bright acidity, lush texture, with cherry and plum fruit. Barrel fermented in French oak, aged for 10 months.

2010 Buehler Zinfandel (Napa, California)
Affordable and pleasing blend of 95% Zinfandel and 5% Petite Sirah. K&L Wine Merchants:  With upfront red berry, plum and spice aromas and flavors accented by savory, earthy nuances and well-balanced oak, this Zin exemplifies Buehler's signature understated, elegant yet wholly appealing style, a throwback to the days when Zinfandel and "bomb" didn't always go hand in hand. Crafted for immediate enjoyment, but has the balance to accompany a variety of dishes and the stuffing to age and gain complexity.

2008 Axel Syrah (Colchagua, Chile)
Axel is a premium label of La Playa. Of the previous 2007, winemaker's notes:90% Syrah, 5% Carmenere, 5% Petit Verdot. Aged 18 months in French and American oak. Deep, ruby red. The nose is complex, showing fruits like blackberries and raspberries, with hints of vanilla and tobacco. An expressive palate is potent yet fresh, touched with chocolate and mocha, and a good concentration of ripe tannins. Well-balanced, with a long, pleasant finish.

2005 Ercavio Plazuela (Spain)
The premium wine of Ercavio, that makes a wide range of Tempranillo. The lowest price for the 2005 is $43 in Germany. www.wein-outlet.com: A dark sour cherry with faceted glass reflections. On the nose it exhibits complex aromas of blackberry and black cherry with inviting side roads of earth and the finest roasted flavors. Round tannins on the palate complement enticing aromas.

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Wine Tasting June 27 - 30, 2012

2010 Don Rodolfo Torrontes (Cafayate Valley, Argentina)
Of the previous 2009 vintage, 90 points, Wine Advocate: Fragrant, peach, apricot, tropical aromas; lots of spice, intense, mouth-filling, great value.

2008 Obalo Crianza (Rioja, Spain)
90+ points, Wine Advocate: A toasty nose with notes of leather, incense, violets, and blackberry. Structured on the palate with excellent grip and length. Will evolve for 2-3 years and drink well through 2020.

2009 Bodegas Y Viñedos Del Jalón, Punto Y Seguido Garnacha Viñas Viejas (Calatayud, Spain)
100% old vine Grenache at least 60 years old, from hillside vineyards 1,050 meters high, on soils of slate and quartzite, with miniscule yields of 1 ton per acre. Fermented in chilled stainless steel tanks, then aged in French oak barrels. Dark purple. Very aromatic red cherry and raspberry.  Minerally and bright rather than heavy. Very youthful tasting right now, but tasted for a week, gets deeper, more complex, and tannic. Great Spanish Grenache, at a very modest price for what it is. Seldom do we see wines named after punctuation marks. Badly underated at 90 points in the Wine Advocate.

2007 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa, California)
88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, 3% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. 92 points, Wine Advocate:A stunning yet reasonably priced, high end Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. From multiple vineyards. Dense purple color as well as a big, sweet bouquet of blueberry and black currant fruit intertwined with licorice, bay leaf, cedar and fruitcake notes. Full-bodied, opulent, and precocious.

2009 Sbragia Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Andolsen Vineyard (Dry Creek, California)
Purchased grapes from a family friend. Tends to be on the cherry side of the fruit spectrum for Cabernet. 93 points, Wine Advocate: Bristles with considerable energy and vibrancy. Nuances of freshly cut flowers, spices, red berries and wild savory herbs. A polished, beautifully delineated finish rounds out this gorgeous, mid-weight Cabernet Sauvignon. 18 months in French oak barrels, 100% new.

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Wine Tasting June 20 - 23, 2012

2009 Patz & Hall Chardonnay Sonoma Coast (California)
PJwine.com (New York City): Luscious, peach-and-apple scented Sonoma Chard from great California producer, Patz & Hall.  It's got the body and acidity to stand up to butter, and the minerality to make any shellfish sing. Winemaker's Notes: From 4  top vineyards. Tangerine, Bosc pear, peach and  hazelnut, resulting in a lithe, layered and complex wine that  harmoniously  combines the finest attributes of great Sonoma Coast winegrowing. Whole cluster pressed, multi-yeast fermentations (wild  &  cultured). Sur lie aged with weekly stirring, 100%  malo-lactic fermentation in barrel, 40% new Burgundian French oak  barrels.

2006 Calma Rioja (Spain)
International Wine Cellar: Inky ruby. Deep, brooding aromas of cherry compote, cassis, fresh blood and  leather. Chewy,  youthfully backward dark fruit flavors slowly  unfold, picking up more sweetness and an exotic floral quality. A  serious wine for the money, with good finishing grip and a lingering  note of bitter cherry skin.

2009 Green & Red Zinfandel (Chiles Valley)
 The grapes come from the higher hillsides in the  Chiles Valley, whose floor is 1,000 feet high. Aged 14 months in half  French and American oak. Dry throughout with coffee and cocoa. 93 points Wine & Spirits:  One of the best Zinfandels in 2009. A  violet and black cherry-scented beauty, held in a  tannic structure that will reward ten years of bottle age. Both fresh  and clean tasting.

2006 Antigal Aduentus Classic (Mendoza, Argentina)
 Intense ruby red appearance, with aromas of exotic  black fig, raspberries and ripe boysenberry, with notes of pepper,  vanilla  and caramel. Generous and large on the palate with  ripe tannins and integrated oak adding to this very structured wine.

2007 DeLille Cellars Doyenne Syrah (Yakima Valley, Washington)
94 points, Wine Advocate: 2% Viognier. Purple-colored, it displays an alluring bouquet of bacon, game, incense, blueberry,  and plum. Rich, layered, and loaded.

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Wine Tasting June 13 - 16, 2012

2011 Familia Falasco Los Haroldos Torrontes (Los Alamos - Maipú, Argentina)
Vinhosweb.com (Brazil):Medalha de Ouro Best By Wine Awards. 100% Torrontes from 15 year old vines 600 meters high. Floral and fresh, with notes of peach.

 2009 Three Old Vines Field Blend (Contra Costa, California)
"Three" is the winery. 34% Zinfandel, 21% Carignane, 19% Mouvedre, 16% Petite Sirah, 8% Alicante Bouschet, and 2% Black Malvoisie. From vineyard blocks with extremely sandy soils called Delhi Sandy Loam. The average age of vines is over 100 years with most still being dry farmed. Yields always below 3 tons peracre results in concentrated flavors of raspberries (Zinfandel, Black Malvoisie), dark cherries and coffee (Carignane), blueberries and pepper (Petite Sirah), violets and Provencal herbs (Mourvedre), and a meaty spice element (Alicante Bouschet). 

2009 Penley Estate Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon (Coonawarra, Australia)
From a famous slivers of land, known as Terra Rossa, about 15km long and 2km wide, with iron-rich red soil on top of limestone. Their relatively affordable Cabernet, meant to be enjoyable young, with 15 months in French oak, 28% new, 100% Cabernet. Elegant and complex, with violets, black currants, blackberry, and cedar, and touches of smoke and tannin. Also made is a reserve from select plots with greater intensity, depth, layers, and aging potential.

2006 Turkey Flat Cabernet Sauvignon (Barossa, Australia)
Turkey Flat is a superb producer of Shiraz and Cabernet, and a rare winery that refuses to release wines that do not meet its standard (e.g. no Cab in 2007 or 2008). The Cabernet features very classic cassis and blackberry fruit along with the complex non-fruit flavors that make Cabernet so great – here, smoke, eucalyptus, leather, cedar, and tobacco. Aged 20 months on oak barrels. From a vineyard 150 years old. 93 points,James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion 2009: Deeply colored; luscious blackcurrant and cassis; a strongly regional-accented structure and flavor; needs time to shed its puppy fat.

2008 Powers Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Coyote Vineyard (Wahluke Slope, Washington)
100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 32 months in new French oak, 347 cases produced, harvested November 3, 14% alcohol. Coyote Vineyard faces south and has one of the highest average hours of sunshine, yet cool nights. Of the prior 2007 vintage, Steven Brook, Decanter, "10 Best Washington Bordeaux Blends":Dense cassis nose, quite tarry and oaky. Very rich and full-bodied, lavish and opulent, with firm tannins, and flavors of dark fruits, cloves and chocolate. Long. Of the 2006 vintage, 91 points, Wine Enthusiast: Pure Cabernet Sauvignon, concentrated, captures the essence of the grape as interpreted through a hot climate vineyard. Loaded with sweet and sexy black fruit, black olive, black coffee and black chocolate, yet retains attractive hints of herb and an unusual scent of asphalt. Very well done and

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Wine Tasting June 6 - 9, 2012
{June 9 -
Ultimate "All White" Wine Tasting}

2010 Chateau Puech-Haut Prestige (Languedoc, France)
94 points, Jeb Dunnuck, the Rhone Report (3/18/12): Even better than the brilliant '09, with more elegance and freshness. 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Carignan.  Aged half in concrete, half in neutral barrel. A vivid, semi-opaque purple color goes with captivating and soaring aromas of raspberry liqueur, cassis, fresh flowers, sappy underbrush, and licorice. The palate is pure and polished, with a sappy, resinous feel, perfect balance, and long seamless finish. Poise and elegance married to power and depth. Superb right now but has the balance and tannic structure to evolve gracefully for a decade.

2008 Polkura Syrah (Colchagua, Chile)
97% Syrah with traces of Viognier, Garnacha, Tempranillo, and Mourvedre added for complexity. From a single hillside vineyard with yellow decomposed granite soil. Barrel fermented, aged 12 months, 34% new, 87% French and 13% American. Very aromatic, with bright fruit and acidity, intense but elegant. The earlier 2007 vintage got 91 points in the Wine Advocate.

2008 Antigal Uno Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina)
Each bottle comes in a cylindrical box that makes a very nice gift. Each bottle has an impressive large bronzed "1" on it. The wine inside is big, bright, and fruity, with blueberry and blackberry, coffee, oak, and tobacco.

2009 Storybook Mountain Mayacamas Estate Napa Zinfandel (Calistoga, California)
Of the previous 2008 vintage, 95 points, Wine & Spirits: Captures the freshness of just picked blackberries. That wild berry flavor tinges toward brighter fruit, layering vibrant strawberry, tart raspberry and cracked black pepper together.  Impressively savory, balanced, sophisticated and elegant.

2009 L'Aventure Estate Cuvee (Paso Robles, California)
This wine is a strong candidate for the greatest wine made from Paso Robles. 94+ points, Wine Advocate: A dark, seamless red. Layers of black fruit, roasted coffee beans and licorice. Textured and explosive, with dazzling aromatics and ample nuance, even if a touch reserved today. Convincing and substantial finish. 42% Syrah, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Petit Verdot aged in 100% new French oak barrels. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2022.  Also, 96 points, James Suckling.

Ultimate "All White" Wine Tasting ~ Saturday, June 9

2010 Gessami Penedes Dry Muscat (Spain)
Wine Advocate: An exotic blend of Muscat d'Alexandria, Muscat de Fontignan, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer made in tank. A bouquet of wet stone, spring flowers, baking spices, honey, and peach. The aromas suggest sweetness but on the palate the wine is dry, crisp, fruity, and very refreshing. A great match with Asian cuisine.

2010 Leese-Fitch Sauvignon Blanc (California)
90 points, Wine Enthusiast:A lovely Sauvignon Blanc, dry, crisply acidic and clean, with complex citrus, flower and mineral flavors. A great value for the money. Owned by the Sebastiani family.

2009 Elena Walch Gewurztraminer (Alto Adigio, Italy)
Elena Walch arguably makes Italy's best Gewurtraminer that frames the wine with an unusually bright acidity, minerality, and fatty texture, along with the unique spiciness, rose petal, and lychee flavors of this grape. The Gewurztraminer grape grows best in a wide arc surrounding the Alps, through Northern Italy, Austria, Germany, and the Alsace in France, and most of the great estates are German in heritage. Delightful with spicy sausage.

2010 D'Arenberg Hermit Crab Viognier-Marsanne (Australia)
A blend of 68% Viognier and 32% Marsanne, from mostly McLaren Vale. Of the previous 2009 vintage, 90 points, Wine Spectator: Very pretty, with floral, passion fruit and pineapple aromas and flavors up front, settling into a nice apricot silkiness on the finish.

2010 Rombauer Chardonnay (Carneros, California)
One of the most consistently best California Chardonnays centered on mouth coating butter/cream and oaky vanilla, deftly balanced by refreshing lemon. 91 points, Wine Spectator: This ripe, exotic style boasts gobs of fruit but also a measure of finesse. Ripe, sweet-tasting flavors of pear, fig and tangerine are intense and focused, leading to a long, clean, lingering finish. Drink now through 2017. 70,000 cases made.

2010 Willamette Valley Vineyards Tualatin Estate Muscat Frizzante (Oregon)
A superb example of how low alcohol wines can be explosively and complexly fruity. This wine's refreshingly tangy acidity is balanced with sweet and exuberant peach, pear, mango, orange, and raspberry. The semi-sparkling bubbles also contribute to a stimulating mouthfeel. The finish is delicious, lively, and fresh, inviting another sip.

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Wine Tasting May 30 - June 2, 2012

2008 Lucia Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands (California)
Jeff Pisoni is the winemaker. 435 cases made.  93 Points, Wine Advocate: From the Pisoni Vineyard. 80% new oak and full malolactic fermentation. Mostly the old Wente clone of Chardonnay, with some newer clones. Peach blossom, citrus oil, white currant, honeysuckle, and orange jump from the glass. About 50% new French oak. A fruit-laden, full-bodied style of Chardonnay, with well-concealed oak, a layered texture, good acidity, and striking minerality.

2009 Row Eleven Santa Maria Pinot Noir (California)
A more powerful and complex expression of Pinot Noir. Includes lots with 50% whole bunches with stems, rather than just the destemmed grapes, which adds a more tannic structure, protects the wine from oxidation, and makes it more ageworthy. Aged 2 years in French oak barrels, to add vanilla, smoke, and roundness. Denser, layered, and more mouth coating, with the fruit shifted toward plum and black cherry. We used the 2006 of this wine for our wedding because of its combination of power, generosity, and deliciousness.

2009 Leese-Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma, California)
Irene Virbila, Wine of the Week, Los Angeles Times: Remove the price tag before you pour this wine.  Nobody is going to believe this isn't a Cabernet in the high $20s or $30s. While more than Two-Buck Chuck, taste this one. It has the requisite deep garnet color and a lovely scent of cherries, blackberries and coffee. Smooth and round in the mouth, with soft tannins and a lilting acidity.

2009 Las Perdices Syrah (Mendoza, Argentina)
Includes 7% Viognier, which is co-fermented with the Syrah. From a vineyard over 3,300 feet high. Very clear flavors of blueberry and raspberry.

2009 Ghost Block Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville, California)
A marketing brand of Bonded Winery Number 9, used exclusively for their best wines made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2009 is from the Rock Cairn Vineyard, aged 24 months in French oak, 60% new. A good example of why Oakville in Napa is famous for its Cabernets. Winemaker's Notes: Finesse oriented with an elegant balance and structure, supported by bright aromas of roses, tobacco and spice. The attack is full on the palate with blackberries, cherries, cocoa, and cinnamon. The ripe mid palate ties together a long finish of cherries, caramel, spice, cassis and coffee.

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Wine Tasting May 23 - 26, 2012

2009 Thomas Fogarty Gewurztraminer (Monterey, California)
Of the previous 2008 vintage. 100% Gewurztraminer, which is one of the supremely aromatic grapes. Fom the  Viento Vineyard, which has great shale and limestone soil. Fogarty  produces a delightful one with traditional rose petals, lychee nuts, and spice, only with a distinctive California twist -  more brightly citric  and delicious, fermented cool, with a touch of residual sugar that tames the bitterness that Gewurztraminer often has.  ¾ of the grapes were fermented whole brunch with stems. Wonderful with Oriental foods.

2007 Harrington Pinot Noir Iund Vineyard (Carneros, California)
Enters the mouth with an enticing silkiness, and features a rich red and black cherry in the mouth with a slight sweetness.  Single vineyard, grown on heavy clay loam soil. Crop thinning holds down yields to improve quality.

2009 Sequana Sundawg Pinot Noir (Green Valley, Russian River, California)
The best Pinot Noir at the 2011 Food and Wine Trade Show at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood Florida. Dark in color; a velvet texture that caresses the mouth; plum, black cherry, and raspberry fruit; and a dry finish laced with tannin. The Green Valley area was one of the places that Champagne makers selected as most suitable for production of sparkling wines in California for dependable cool nights, limestone and granite soils, and lack of heat spikes. Wines like this demonstrate that the area also has select sites capable of making great non-sparkling Pinot Noirs.

2009 Camberly Pinotage (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Vibrant notes of cherries dipped in mocha chocolate. Bold and intense with succulent fruit and firm tannins.

2008 Axel Syrah 2008 Chile
Axel is a premium label of La Playa. Of the previous 2007, winemaker's notes:90% Syrah, 5% Carmenere, 5% Petit Verdot. Aged 18 months in French and American oak. Deep, ruby red. The nose is complex, showing fruits like blackberries and raspberries, with hints of vanilla and tobacco. An expressive palate is potent yet fresh, touched with chocolate and mocha, and a good concentration of ripe tannins. Well-balanced, with a long, pleasant, finish.

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Wine Tasting May 16 - 19, 2012
ZINFEST

2009 Sbragia Gino's Vineyard  (Dry Creek)
93 points, Wine Enthusiast (March 1, 2012):A fantastic Zinfandel, Sbragia's best in years, and one of the best of the vintage. Shows classic Dry Creek wild blueberry and briary blackberry flavors, with exotic spices, and the exuberance you want in a Zin. Yet it exhibits a rare control, making it elegant despite the power. Drink now for sheer joy.

2009 Venge Scouts Honor Red Wine (Napa)
55% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah, 14% Charbono and 9% Syrah —from 30 to 60 year-old vinesSmall individual lots of fruit were destemmed and whole-berry fermentation took an average for 12 days in tank. Aged for 18 months in 60% new American Oak from Missouri. Deep and concentrated black cherry, briary raspberry, cinnamon, clove, pepper, spice, smoky dark chocolate and dried blueberry.

2009 Green & Red Zinfandel (Chiles Valley)
The grapes come from the higher hillsides in the Chiles Valley, whose floor is 1,000 feet high. Aged 14 months in half French and American oak. Dry throughout with coffee and cocoa. 93 points Wine & Spirits:  One of the best Zinfandels in 2009. A violet and black cherry-scented beauty, held in a tannic structure that will reward ten years of bottle age. Both fresh and clean tasting.

2009 Ridge Lytton Springs Vineyard (Sonoma)
Lytton Springs was one of the great Zinfandel wineries, acquired by Ridge in 1991. 95 points, Wine Advocate:The biggest and most structured of these 2009 Zinfandel-based reds, due to the earthier soils and Petite Sirah. Black fruit, plums, tar, licorice and smoke. Generous, inviting, fairly structured, and will benefit from more bottle age. 74% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah and 5% Carignane.

2009 Micheal and David Earthquake Zinfandel (Lodi)
A wine that for years delivers a style very popular with Zinfandel lovers: high in alcohol, sweet, ripe, dense, soft, and red fruit jam. With some Petite Sirah and Syrah. Plum, cinnamon, black raspberry vanilla, pie crust and mocha.

2009 Michael & David Lust Zinfandel
A high end Zin from Michael & David.  Has a soft texture and decadent mouthfeel, with flavors of creme de cassis, caramel cream, melted milk chocolate, tangerine zest, cinnamon-spiced gingerbread, and raisin.

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Wine Tasting May 9 - 12, 2012

2010 Domaine du Salvard Sauvignon Blanc Unique (Loire Valley, France)
A great value introduction to Sauvignon Blanc from the region in the world most famous for that grape. Made in temperate controlled stainless steel from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Aged on the lees to add a fuller mouth feel. Keeps the price low by being able to selectively combining grapes from vineyards anywhere the Loire, though any particular vintage may be from a single appellation. An impressive combination of lime and grapefruit, minerality, refreshing acidity, and green herb.

2010 Domaine de Fonsainte Corbieres Rouge
A consistent best buy. 60% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 10% Syrah. Hand picked grapes, temperature controlled fermentation, with carbonic maceration. Made to be supple and fruity, with cherry and blueberry, but also has non-fruit flavors of liquorice and cocoa. From vineyards with a mixed soil of clay, limestone, and gravel. For about $4 more, the Demoiselle cuvee is made from their best vineyard with the oldest vines, that is even more deep, complex, and ageworthy.

2009 Bodegas Y Viñedos Del Jalón, Punto Y Seguido Garnacha Viñas Viejas (Spain)
100% old vine Grenache at least 60 years old, from hillside vineyards 1,050 meters high, on soils of slate and quartzite, with miniscule yields of 1 ton per acre. Fermented in chilled stainless steel tanks, then aged in French oak barrels. Dark purple. Very aromatic red cherry and raspberry.  Minerally and bright rather than heavy. Very youthful tasting right now, but tasted for a week, gets deeper, more complex, and tannic. Great Spanish Grenache, at a very modest price for what it is. Seldom do we see wines named after punctuation marks. Badly underated at 90 points in the Wine Advocate.

2009 Post House Missing Virgin (South Africa)
An usual blend of around 70% Pinotage and 30% Petit Verdot grapes. Dark, saturated color with a bluish tone. Violets, bright acidity, blueberry, and earth flavors. The name refers to the virgin Christian martyr who the Virgin Islands were named for, and a famous rare stamp from that country that unintentially omitted her image.

2007 Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa, California)
This estate consistently makes its best wines from Cabernet Sauvignon from its own vineyards in Oakville and Calistoga in Napa California, that range from very good up to strong candidates for the best in California.  The Cabs are deep, complex, and balanced. The general "Napa Valley" bottling blends across its holdings, and can be soaringly good in great vintages. Also makes an excellent Merlot.

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Wine Tasting May 2 - 5, 2012

2009 Little Lion Company Butternut Chardonnay (California)
Round, creamy notes, hints of hazelnut , 14 months on new French oak.. Grapes from the regions of Carneros , coombsville, Santa Luci,  and Arroyo Seco in Monteray.

2007 Alexander Valley Vineyards Redemption Zinfandel (Dry Creek, California)
93 points, Beverage Testing Institute: Deep garnet violet color. Classic aromas of mashed raisins, dried raspberries, and cracked pepper follow through on a supple, plush entry to a fruity medium-full body with great depth, mouthwatering acidity and a high-wire balance of alcohol. Finishes with a long, pure, craisin and plum skin cascade. A delicious, textbook example of Dry Creek Zinfandel.

2007 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon (California)
88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, 3% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. 92 points, Wine Advocate:A stunning yet reasonably priced, high end Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. From multiple vineyards. Dense purple color as well as a big, sweet bouquet of blueberry and black currant fruit intertwined with licorice, bay leaf, cedar and fruitcake notes. Full-bodied, opulent, and precocious.

2007 Post House Shiraz (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
A seriously good Shiraz. Dark black with a nose of blackcurrant, chocolate, pepper, raspberry and spice with a hint of floral petals. Elegant, dryly tannic, and long.

2007 Powers Cougars Vineyard Syrah Reserve (Wahule, Washington)
The first Powers Reserve Syrah was the 2006, which the North West Wine Press rated as the top Syrah in the Platinum tasting of 52 Syrahs that won at least one Gold Medal in another judged tasting. Of the 2007 vintage, Winemaker's Notes: Aged 28 months in all French oak, 74% new. Includes 5% Cabernet Franc. Nearly breathtaking in aromatics with layers of cherry, nutmeg, sarsaparilla and unsweetened cocoa. French vanilla and black currant join quickly on the palate. Unique delicacy comes from lavender and violets that lead to an explosion of well textured cherry. These all circle and swirl in your mouth and are enriched by cherry cola, root beer and tobacco. Perfectly suited to savor on its own, and would heighten rack of lamb and roast.

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Weekly Wine Tasting April 25 - 28, 2012

2007 Macrostie Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir (Sonoma, California)
95 points, Wine Enthusiast:MacRostie's Pinots from this vineyard on the edge of the Sonoma side of Carneros always are big, ripe, powerful and ageable. This '07 shows the fat, ripe character of the vintage, offering luscious raspberry, cherry, cola, red currant liqueur, bacon, anise, spice and sandalwood flavors. But it's balanced enough to change in interesting ways over the next 5–7 years. Really a glamorous wine for your best meals.

2010 Mas Oller Pur Emporda (Spain)
91 points, Wine Advocate:The deep purple-colored 2010 Mas Oller Pur is made up of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 3 months in French oak. Notes of game, Asian spices, lavender, and black fruits compose the nose of this savory, full-flavored, bargain-priced offering. It will blossom for another 2-3 years and drink well through 2020.

2011 Boland Cappupino Ccinotage (South Africa)
Pinotage grapes made to be centered on intense and complex coffee flavors, with secondary flavors of cherry and cocoa. The wake up smell of brewing coffee, the roasted flavor of coffee beans, and the aftertaste of coffee grounds. Sort of .the tiramisu of wines. Has no flavors added from coffee.

2008 Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvee (Sonoma Valley, California)
"Mountain" here amounts to sloped vineyards on a volcanic hill at an altitude around 150 feet, but this has the dry tannic structure of most mountain wines in California.  Winemaker's Notes: Soft, rich aromas and flavors of juicy cherry, plum and blackberry, laced with milk chocolate and and roasted coffee bean. Dense, round mouthfeel with soft tannins supporting generous fruit flavors. The long finish is full of berry and cocoa. A lush, fruit-forward wine intended to be enjoyed within five years of vintage. 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, 7% Malbec, 5% Syrah.

2005 Arns Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (California)
92 points, Wine Enthusiast:Deep and impressively focused, and long in the finish, this rich Cabernet impresses with fruity blackberry, cherry and raspberry flavors. So rich and ripe, yet balanced with lively acidity and firm tannins. At the age of five-plus, it's probably best now and for the next several years.

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Weekly Wine Tasting April 18 - 21, 2012

This Week We  Featured the Wines Of Row Eleven, Stratton Lummis and Civello
On Wednesday April 18th Our Guest Speaker Was:
Richard de los Reyes, Founder/Winemaker, Row Eleven, Stratton Lummis and Civello

2010 Civello  (California)
Meant to be a unique, playful, and tastyblend. The 2010 version includes Vermentino, Verdelho, Albarino, Pinot gris and Chardonnay. Fresh flowers, citrus, minerals, and honeysuckle.

2010 Stratton Lummis Chardonnay (Carneros, California)
Unoaked and cold fermented. 100% malolactically fermented. 10 months on its lees.  Meant to work well with food. Single vineyard, Alta Vista, on the Sonoma side. Apple, white peach, minerals, white flowers, refreshing acidity.

2008 Row Eleven Vinas 3 Pinot Noir (California)
Blends across disparate places to be the least expensive Pinot Noir that still captures the red cherry fruit and silky texture the Pinot Noir grape is famous for, rather than some particular place.

2007 Row Eleven Russian River Pinot Noir (California)
Although labeled as Russian River so the best lots can be combined from different vineyards in this appellation, this wine comes from only the Sanchetti Vineyard, whose vines at around 30 years old. Does not include stems with the fermenting grapes, partly to get a more delicious and immediately drinkable style. Fermented cool to capture the freshness and brightness of the red cherry fruit. Aged 13 months in old French oak barrels for roundness and integration with only a light taste of oak.

2009 Row Eleven Santa Maria Pinot Noir (California)
A more powerful and complex expression of Pinot Noir. Includes lots with 50% whole bunches with stems, rather than just the destemmed grapes, which adds a more tannic structure, protects the wine from oxidation, and makes it more ageworthy. Aged 2 years in French oak barrels, to add vanilla, smoke, and roundness. Denser, layered, and more mouth coating, with the fruit shifted toward plum and black cherry.

Multi-Vintage Stratton Lummis Riddler Lot 2
Most wines are from a single vintage, and openly tell you what varieties of grapes are used and where the grapes are grown. But some revel in cloaking that information. As the name "Riddler" suggests, this wine at most gives oblique hints and leaves the drinker to figure the answers. The winery provided hints are (1) it's a red wine from Napa Valley, (2) the alcohol is 15.2%, (3) it's from varieties not expected to be grown in Napa, (4) the aromas are raspberry, plum, and violets, (5) the taste features dark fruits, and (6) Lot 1 had 7 varietals. Implied in naming it only by Riddler Lot # is that the blend can be anything and change every year. Here's a start for your reasoning. Varietals you can nix because they are the most expected to be grown in Napa are prestigious Bordeaux grapes that command the highest prices - Cabernet Sauvignon and then its primary blending grape of Merlot. The grape that most strongly hits almost every hint is Grenache, followed by Carignan and Mouvedre, and then Petite Verdot. Varietals that fit except for being moderately common in Napa but more common in other places, are Zinfandel, Syrah, and Petite Sirah. Other rare varietals with mostly test plots in Napa are Tempranillo and Sangiovese, but both feature red and black cherry. Lot 1 had suprisingly firm tannins, with a touch of leather and tea.

2008 Stratton Lummis Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville & Rutherford, California)
Uses purchased grapes to hold down costs. Consistently excellent and improves with age, and a best value for Cabs from Napa. Winemaker's Notes: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot. Earth, olive, and cherry on the nose. Smooth, velvety, and elegant, but balanced by acid and tannin.

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Wine Tasting April 11 - 14, 2012
This Week We Featured Wines From The Eric Solomon Selection (European Cellars).
Eric was named Food and Wine Magazine's 2007 Top US Importer.

2010 Maison de la Colline Sancerre La Craie (Loire, France)
Bright, minerally, and refreshing, with a grapefruit and grass edge.

2008 Obalo Rioja Crianza (Spain)
90+ points, Wine Advocate: A toasty nose with notes of leather, incense, violets, and blackberry. Structured on the palate with excellent grip and length. Will evolve for 2-3 years and drink well through 2020.

2009 Cellar Cal Pal Black Slate (Priorat, Spain)
90 points, Wine Advocate (May, 2011): 46% Grenache, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the balance Merlot and Syrah. Aged for 12 months in French and American oak. Minerally along with slightly reticent aromas of cedar, black cherry, and black currant. Somewhat tight, but seems to have the right stuff and need another 2-3 years to fully display its personality.

2010 Gassier Cercius Cote du Rhone Village (Cote du Nimes, France)
93 points, Wine Advocate: 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah from the 70- to 80-year-old Grenache vines on the plateau south of Chateauneuf du Pape. Tastes more like Chateauneuf du Pape. Another example of what looks to be another great vintage emerging from the southern Rhone – 2010. One of the greatest Cotes du Rhones I have ever tasted. Wonderfully intense, deep ruby with some purple tinges, with a stunning nose of black raspberry liqueur intermixed with sweet cherries, licorice, pepper and Provencal lavender. Round, generous, opulent, heady, fabulously intense, and hedonistic. Bravo!

2009 Bodegas Y Viñedos Del Jalón, Punto Y Seguido Garnacha Viñas Viejas (Spain)
100% Old Vine Grenache at least 60 years old, from hillside vineyards 1,050 meters high, on soils of slate and quartzite, with miniscule yields of 1 ton per acre. Fermented in chilled stainless steel tanks, then aged in French oak barrels. Dark purple. Very aromatic red cherry and raspberry.  Minerally and bright rather than heavy. Very youthful tasting right now, but tasted for a week, gets deeper, more complex, and tannic. Great Spanish Grenache, at a very modest price for what it is. Seldom do we see wines named after punctuation marks. Badly underated at 90 points in the Wine Advocate.

2010 Chateau Puech-Haut Prestige (Languedoc, France)
 "Puech-Haut" is a somewhat ironic name for the higher of small hills. Still, being on a slope protects the grapes from rain and winds. This wine started out as the introductory wine of Puech-Haut but was rechristened the Prestige, but it is made from old vines. It also graduated to enamel lined tanks permitting each parcel on the estate to be separately vinified. The wine is made with low sulfur, which trades off being more ageworthy for being more immediately rich, liquerous, and seductive. It is also harvested relatively late, which generally raises the alcohol level, takes out any vegetal taste, and emphasizes ripeness, but at the expense of acid and tannin. But, the grapes in 2010 had an especially fresh taste, and, to add more structure, more whole grape clusters are used instead of destemmed grapes. 94 points, Wine Advocate, which is a record high rating for this wine.60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Carignan.

 

Wine Tasting April 4 - 7, 2012

2010 Man Vintners Chenin Blanc (Paarl, South Africa)
International Wine Cellars:Bright yellow. Cool aromas of melon, kiwi, lime zest, dusty herbs and licorice. Juicy and densely packed, with a bit of sweetness balanced by brisk acidity. A crisp, clean midweight with a dusty texture and a ripe nectarine flavor on the lively finish. Terrific value. 

2008 Freestone Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast, California)
92 points, Wine Enthusiast: Enormously ripe in cherries, raspberries, cranberries and dates, almost sweet, except that it's totally dry, and the acidity is fresh and bright. A big, big wine that dazzles for sheer power, although it's not especially subtle right now. That could change in the cellar. Give it a few years, and then a good decanting before service.

2009 Puro Uno Malbec Limitado (Mendoza, Argentina)
Of the prior 2008 vintage, winery notes: 12 months in 35% new oak. Vineyards 3,100 feet to 3,770 high. 100% Malbec. Boysenberry and blackberry.

2009 Puro Uno Quadro Limitado (Mendoza, Argentina)
www.bountyhunterwine.com: Some of the world's best winemakers have been flocking to Mendoza. It's a vineyard laboratory with world-class fruit and no rules other than, 'if it tastes good, do it.' That's what's happening here, a Malbec based blend with Cabernet, Tempranillo and Syrah as the backing band. Brooding dark berry fruits, purple fruits and an anise-herb character highlight an impressively rich weight and mouthfeel. We suspect the scores are a comin'… 

2009 Trentadue La Storia Estate Petite Sirah (Alexander Valley, California)
This is a classic coastal California Petite Sirah. Nearly black in color, full-bodied, very dry, with high alcohol framing massive flavors of blackberries, black currants, dark unsweetened chocolate, coffee and spices.

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Wine Tasting March 28 - 31, 2012

2009 Fess Parker Santa Barbara Chardonnay (California)
93 points, Wine Enthusiast (7/1/2010): Run, don't walk to buy up cases of this beautiful, well-priced  Chardonnay. It's rich and sumptuous in vanilla oak and lees-inspired  flavors of pineapples, pears and lime tart. Easy to find, with  production of 17,496 cases.

2008 Flavium Mencia (Bierzo, Spain)
90 points, Wine Advocate: Spent 20 months in French and American oak. Opulent, rich, and lengthy, with  the balance to drink well for 6-8 years but at the asking price most  consumers will want to grab some immediate gratification.

2008 Bodegas Pedro Regalado Embocadero (Ribera del Duero, Spain)
91 points, Wine Advocate: 14 months in new French oak. A glass-coating opaque purple. Complex  perfume of toasty oak, spice box, incense, espresso, and black fruits.  Structured on the palate, dense, firm, layered, and lengthy. 

2007 Morgenhof Estate Merlot (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
100% Merlot, grown on hillside vineyards. Aged 18 months in French oak  barrels, 20% new. Luxuriously smooth with plum and black cherry.

2004 Morgenhof Estate Red Blend (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Berry Bros & Rudd, England: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 6% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc. The  bouquet exhibits powerful notes of black fruit, with cherries and  blackberries to the fore, and notes of red plum. On the palate there are hints of tobacco, indicating the beginnings of maturity, along with  hints of dried fruit, cassis and soft red fruit. Although a substantial  amount of new oak has been used the wine is sufficiently concentrated to absorb it comfortably. The tannins are ripe, the acidity in balance,  and the finish long.  4.5 stars out of 5, Platter's Guide to Wines of South Africa 2008.

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Wine Tasting March 21 - 24, 2012

2010 Cotes de Gasgogne Castagnoles (France)
A blend Colombard, Ugni Blanc and Gros Manseng, from the Gascony  area of France known for its generic white wines, but in the hands of this producer, achieves brightness, vivacity, and fruitiness. 

2009 Edge Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa, California)
Edge is made by Signarello but not marketed as its wine. In effect, it is an outlet wine in the $20 range that can be sold without undermining the Signarello line. 92 points, Wine Enthusiast: A tremendous value. Hard to believe it's so good, considering the price. The details of its origins and winemaker are mysterious, but it's worth a special search. Rich and dry, it's packed with classic blackberry, black currant, blueberry and cedar flavors, wrapped into firm, smooth tannins. Drink now 2016.

2009 St Damien Gigondas Old Vines (Rhone, France)
91 -93 points, Wine Advocate: A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre from 40-year-old vines. Rich, full-bodied Gigondas with notes of crushed rock, boysenberry, black raspberry, camphor, and a hint of pen ink. The wine displays terrific fruit on the attack, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel with good acid, superb purity, texture, and length. This deep ruby/purple-colored wine should drink well for at least 10-15 years.

2006 Atuata Ribero del Duero (Spain)
95 points, Wine Enthusiast: What a beauty! Masculine aromas of black fruits, cola and oak sit there begging to be sipped, while the lush, deep palate is home to dense blackberry, cassis and chocolate flavors. Lively but dense, with tannins, plenty of oak and a finish of black pepper, fudge and vanilla. Complex and exciting Spanish wine. Needs time; best from 2012 through 2018.

2007 Powers Cougars Vineyard Syrah Reserve (Wahule, Washington)
The first Powers Reserve Syrah was the 2006, which the North West Wine Press rated as the top Syrah in the Platinum tasting of 52 syrahs that won at least one Gold Medal in another judged tasting. Of the 2007 vintage, Winemaker's Notes: Aged 28 months in all French oak, 74% new. Includes 5% Cabernet Franc. Nearly breathtaking in aromatics with layers of cherry, nutmeg, sarsaparilla and unsweetened cocoa. French vanilla and black currant join quickly on the palate. Unique delicacy comes from lavender and violets that lead to an explosion of well textured cherry. These all circle and swirl in your mouth and are enriched by cherry cola, root beer and tobacco. Perfectly suited to savor on its own, and would heighten rack of lamb, and roast.

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Wine Tasting March 14 - 17, 2012

2009 Elena Walch Gewurztraminer (Alto Adigio, Italy)
Elena Walch arguably makes Italy's best Gewurtraminer that frames the wine with an unusually bright acidity, minerality, and fatty texture, along with the unique spiciness, rose petal, and lychee flavors of this grape. The Gewurztraminer grape grows best in a wide arc surrounding the Alps, through Northern Italy, Austria, Germany, and the Alsace in France, and most of the great estates are German in heritage. Delightful with spicy sausage.

2004 Bon Cap Cabernet Sauvignon (Robertson, South Africa)
Robertson is an area of South Africa known for its value wines. At this price level, the Cab is not just a generic berry but recognizable for the grape, with decent acidity, fruit, and a concentration.

2007 Federalist Visionary Zinfandel (Dry Creek, Sonoma, California)
Winemaker's Notes: 83% Zinfandel, 13% Alicante Bouschet, 4% Carignane. Hot days and cool nights. Enjoys the luxury of extended hang time for the grapes on the vine, which produces more mature fruit, and results in rich, full-bodied flavor characteristics. Robust fruit with bright berry fruit character, and lively acidity.

2009 Seghesio Home Ranch Zinfandel (Alexander Valley, California)
95 points and #12 in Top 100 Wines of 2011, Wine Spectator: A Zinfandel that has it all - rich, ripe flavors, good structure and acidity, and lots of personality. Offers aromas of cherry pie and licorice that lead to complex flavors of huckleberry, toasty vanilla and smoky cracked pepper. Drink now through 2017.

2008 Rust en Verde Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa)
91 pts Wine Spectator 6/29/11 Insider: Dark, sleek and polished, with dense but pure black currant, licorice and roasted plum notes. Long and nicely detailed through the finish, with tobacco, black tea and roasted apple wood notes checking in. A rock-solid, lip-smacking good Cabernet.

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Wine Tasting March 7 - 10, 2012

2009 Elena Walch Gewurztraminer (Alto Adigio, Italy)
Elena Walch arguably makes Italy's best Gewurtraminer that frames the wine with an unusually bright acidity, minerality, and fatty texture, along with the unique spiciness, rose petal, and lychee flavors of this grape. The Gewurztraminer grape grows best in a wide arc surrounding the Alps, through Northern Italy, Austria, Germany, and the Alsace in France, and most of the great estates are German in heritage. Delightful with spicy sausage.

2005 La Ninota (Priorat, Spain)
Importer's Notes: From hillside terraced vineyards 270-200 meters high. 10% Garnacha, 10% Carignan, 20% Syrah, 10% Merlot , 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Tempranillo. Temperature controlled fermentation for 7-10 days in stainless steel tanks. Aged 3 months in French oak barrels of 500 Liters, then in tank.  Fruity, full bodied, round and concentrated wine with sweet notes in the mouth, hints of vanilla. Attractive and elegant wine.

2008 Odfjell Orzada Malbec (Chile)
Benjamin Weinberg, from a tour of wineries in Chile: I've tasted and liked Odfjell before, but this time I was captivated by the thickly textured, black-tinged Malbec Orzada from the Lontué Valley. Blueberries and black currants mingled with saddle leather and milk chocolate on the nose. The palate oozed green tea, maple, cedar and white flowers. High-toned and very long, this was a real treat.

2009 Penley Phoenix Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
94 points, James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion:Bright crimson; by some distance, the best of the '09 Penley varietals, with redcurrant and blackcurrant fruit supported by quality cedary oak and fine tannins, the medium-bodied palate long and complete.

2006 Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa, California)
88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and 4% Syrah. From Oakville and Callistoga vineyards. Nuanced aromas of both red and dark fruits, with blueberries and red cherries playing a leading role. Hints of spice, bay leaf and cocoa. Enters the palate with bright sweet fruit and a rich full-bodied taste. Shades of mocha and molasses from the French oak provide a complexity that lingers through the finish. Good with steak, lamb, duck, or just about anything off the grill.

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Wine Tasting February 29 - March 3, 2012

2010 Puro Uno Quadra Limitado (Mendoza, Argentino)
Winemaker notes: 39% Chardonnay, 32% Sauvignon Blanc, 17% Viognier, 12% Torrontes. 12 months in 50% new oak, French and American. From vineyards 3,100-3,700 feet high.

2009 Clos des Moiselles (Cote de Bourg, France)
Of the earlier 2003, 90-92 points, Gary Vaynerchuk, Wine Library:Loadedwith cherry, cassis and a hint of cocoa. We all went nuts over this. If this wine doesn't stun you I would never buy anything from us again. Get this by the case. If you enjoy new world fruit or old world structure, this wine will blow you away. Wow! 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec.

2008 Hedges Red Mountain (Washington)
Consistently one of the best value wines from Red Mountain. 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 14% Syrah, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec. Chiria Shannon, K&L Wine Merchants: In a tasting of 60+ domestic wines, this wine stood out in the $20 range for its aromatics, substance, and structure. Wrapped nicely up in a medium-bodied, classy package, sophisticated but totally accessible. The nose leads with smoky, dark-fruited aromas, with gamey undertones and savory herb accents. Juicy core, plump in all the right places. Really tasty now but ages well. Enjoy with slow-braised beef short ribs or lamb stew.

2008 Polkura Syrah (Colchagua, Chile)
97% Syrah with traces of Viognier, Garnacha, Tempranillo, and Mourvedre added for complexity. From a single hillside vineyard with yellow decomposed granite soil. Barrel fermented, aged 12 months, 34% new, 87% French and 13% American. Very aromatic, with bright fruit and acidity, intense but elegant. The earlier 2007 vintage got 91 points in the Wine Advocate.

2006 Renwood Grandpere Zinfandel (California)
91 points, Wine Enthusiast: Marked by high alcohol, rustic dryness and exuberant spiciness. A classic Foothills mountain Zin. It offers a flood of pepper, cumin and cinnamon flavors that accent cherry, cranberry and mulberry fruit, wrapped into dense, sturdy tannins. Should develop for up to six years.

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Wine Tasting February 22 - 25, 2012

2010 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
A consistently excellent wine, which shows that machine harvesting to hold down costs can have  excellent results. This vintage has a more  rounder edge than earlier ones. Winemaker's Notes: Fermented at very low temperatures to help preserve fruitiness. Captures the classic New Zealand profile of vibrant currant-leaf, citrus and gooseberry aromas, with freshly cut herb undertones. Medium bodied but full flavored, with an abundance of currant and gooseberry flavors that linger on the dry, clean finish.

2008 Freestone Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast, California)
92 points, Wine Enthusiast: Enormously ripe in cherries, raspberries, cranberries and dates, almost sweet, except that it's totally dry, and the acidity is fresh and bright. A big, big wine that dazzles for sheer power, although it's not especially subtle right now. That could change in the cellar. Give it a few years, and then a good decanting before service.

2009 Texier Cote du Rhone (Rhone, France)
BJ's wine, New York: One of the most respected Rhone Valley vintner's, his entry level CDR shows a healthy bundle of ripe red fruit. It's like a hot summer's harvest, as loads of strawberry, cherry, and wild blackberry fill the glass like a basket collecting all that sun smacked fruit. Yet despite the flavor show, it remains light on its feet--ballerina light! If there was ever an ideal French bistro food wine, then this is it!

2007 Tenuta Monteti Caburnio 2007 Italy
91 points, Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate: One of the best values in Italian wine today, and the 2007 is another strong effort. Sweet roasted coffee beans, mocha, grilled herbs and dark red fruit are woven in a gorgeous fabric of considerable elegance. The Caburnio possesses striking mid-palate presence and a long, harmonious finish. The Caburnio is 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Alicante Bouschet and 20% Merlot aged in equal parts steel and French oak, most of it neutral. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2019.

2008 Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvee (Sonoma Valley, California)
"Mountain" here amounts to sloped vineyards on a volcanic hill at an altitude around 150 feet, but this usually has the dry tannic structure of most mountain wines in California.  Winemaker's Notes: Soft, rich aromas and flavors of juicy cherry, plum and blackberry, laced with milk chocolate and and roasted coffee bean. Dense, round mouthfeel with soft tannins supporting generous fruit flavors. The long finish is full of berry and cocoa. A lush, fruit-forward wine intended to be enjoyed within five years of vintage. 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, 7% Malbec, 5% Syrah.

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Wine Tasting February 15 - 18, 2012

2007 Marchesi Antinore Scalabrone Rosato  (Tuscany)
The grapes for this tasty Italian rosé blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 30% Syrah and other black varieties come from the Scalabrone vineyard in Bolgheri, on the Tuscan coast.Winemaker's notes: Bright peony color, with fruity aromas and refreshing hints of raspberries.  Well-balanced and tangy on the palate with a pleasantly fruity aftertaste, with a return of raspberries and wild roses.

2007 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir Sonoma(California)
MacRostie's Pinots from this vineyard on the edge of the Sonoma side of Carneros are always big, ripe, powerful and ageable. 95 points; Wine Enthusiast: This '07 shows the fat, ripe character of the vintage, offering luscious raspberry, cherry, cola, red currant liqueur, bacon, anise, spice and sandalwood flavors.  A glamorous wine for your best meals. 91 points; Wine Spectator: Complex aromas of wilted rose, sandalwood, spice and loamy earth. Full-bodied, at points delicate and detailed, ending with good length and fine-grained tannins.

2010 Buehler Zinfandel (Napa, California)
This affordable blend of 95% Zinfandel and 5% Petite Syrah hits the ground running, eager to please. K&L Wine Merchants:  With upfront red berry, plum and spice aromas and flavors accented by savory, earthy nuances and well-balanced oak, this Zin exemplifies Buehler's signature understated, elegant yet wholly appealing style, a throwback to the days when Zinfandel and "bomb" didn't always go hand in hand. It was crafted for immediate enjoyment and has the balance to accompany a variety of dishes, but it has the stuffing to go a few years in bottle, gaining complexity with time.

2008 Tobin James Notorious Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles, California)
This Paso Robles winery crafts intense fruit driven wines at affordable prices for immediate consumption.  The 2008 Cab features black and red currant, plum, cedar oak, caramel and cinnamon. Tart and medium-bodied on the tongue with ripe jammy fruit, supple tannins and a persistent finish.

2005 Arnold Palmer Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (California)
Golf-legend Arnold Palmer and the founder of Luna Vineyards developed Arnold Palmer Wines in 2003.  These wines are mainly targeted to high-end restaurants and resorts. Winemaker's notes: Dark chocolate, anise, and black cherry scents appear on the nose. Amazing intensity on the entry, with a tannic, broad structure. The mid-palate is deep and complex, with blackberries, licorice, and earth notes supporting the flavor of Black Mission figs. The finish opens up, with a surge of plum, berry, and rich cassis.

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Wine Tasting February 8 - 11, 2012

Non-Vintage Mumm Napa Brut Rose (California)
93 points, Wine Enthusiast:What a roll Mumm Napa is on with their new releases. Shows the level of richness and elegance the winery has achieved lately. Made from 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay, deliciously forward flavors of raspberries, strawberries, gingersnap cookies and vanilla lemon custard, with the bubby froth and tart yeastiness of a fine sparkler.

2009 Bodegas Olivares Altos de la Hoya (Jumilla, Spain)
90 points, International Wine Cellar: Bright violet. Spicy, floral-accented aromas of black raspberry, sassafras, dried flowers and allspice, enhanced by a subtle mineral overtone. Lively and precise, with sweet red and dark berry flavors and a nervy mineral spine. Shows very good energy on the finish, leaving tangy red fruit and spice notes. This is quite unlike most wines from Jumilla, which can show more richness than balance.

2009 Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles, California)
90 points, Wine Advocate:A huge, unoaked wine bursting with dark red fruit, sweet flower, spices, leather and licorice. No oak at all -the richness comes just from the intensity of the fruit. One of the very finest wines being made from Paso Robles fruit, and I say that after having tasted over 500 wines from Paso recently. This puts most of what is being made in Paso in this price point to shame.

2008 Tobin James Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles, California)
Winery notes: Currant and blackberry flavors enhanced by a dash of toasty oak, with a smooth, lengthy finish.

2006 Vinas Del Cenit Demora Tempranillo (Spain)
90 points, Wine Spectator:A velvety texture carries ripe, spicy flavors of plum pudding, chocolate, cinnamon and raisin, yet remains firm and fresh, tender and long. A modern style. Drink now through 2013.

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Wine Tasting February 1 - 4, 2012
ZINFEST

2006 Renwood Grandpere Zinfandel
91 points, Wine Enthusiast: Marked by high alcohol, rustic dryness and exuberant spiciness. A classic Foothills mountain Zin. It offers a flood of pepper, cumin and cinnamon flavors that accent cherry, cranberry and mulberry fruit, wrapped into dense, sturdy tannins. Should develop for up to six years.

2009 Klinger Brick Old Ghost Zinfandel (Lodi, California)
The Old Ghost is this winery's top wine, made from the best lots with the oldest vines. 92 points, Wilfred Wong: Deep ruby color; husky, rich, ripe fruit aroma with a hit of oak; full bodied, textured on the palate, juicy and rounded; dry, medium acidity, well balanced; ripe berry, juicy and fresh; lingering finish, juicy aftertaste. Shows that Lodi can make some of California's finest wines.

2009 Terraces Zinfandel (Rutherford, California)
This Zinfandel is made from an old clone with open clusters and small berries, planted on terraced slopes 300-400 feet high on volcanic soil. The combination makes a well structured and bright style of Zinfandel that never seeks to be raisiny, sweet, or heavy. It ages beautifully and impresses with flavors that are both powerful and clear.

2008 Ravenswood Teldeschi Zinfandel (Dry Creek, California)
A Cab lover's Zinfandel. 96 points, Connoisseurs' Guide: Our pick of the bunch. Keenly focused on optimally ripe berries and showing the stunning concentration. Wonderfully well-balanced and layered for a big wine . Tempting to drink early, but has a decade or more of improvement ahead.91 points, International Wine Cellar:Glass-staining purple. Powerful scents of boysenberry, cherry liqueur, licorice and dark chocolate. Chewy dark berry compote and bitter cherry flavors are underscored by strong mineral, smoke and licorice qualities.

2009 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel 2009. 95 points, Wine Advocate: The biggest and most structured of Ridge's 2009 Zinfandel-based reds, largely owing to the earthier soils and the presence of 23% Petite Sirah. Black fruit, plums, tar, licorice and smoke flow from this generous, inviting red. Fairly structured, and will definitely benefit from more years in the bottle. 74% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah and 5% Carignane.

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Wine Tasting January 25 - 28, 2012

2008 D'Arenberg Hermit Crab (Australia)
A Rhone white blend of 72% Viognier and 28% Marsanne, from 92% McLaren Vale and 8% Adelaide Hills, combining abundant apricot, peach and pear fruit, with more subtle honeysuckle and orange blossom. The 2006 vintage was a Top 100 in the Wine Spectator. The 2007 got 90 points in the Wine Advocate.

2007 Castello D'Albola Chianti Classico (Tuscany, Italy)
#47 on Wine Spectator Top 100, 90 points, Wine Spectator: This is what Chianti should taste like, with plenty of dark cherry and floral aromas and flavors that say Sangiovese. Fresh and fruity. Drink now.

2010 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha  (Spain)
91 points, International Wine Cellar:Glass-staining purple. Lively, faintly medicinal aromas of cherry, blueberry and licorice, plus hints of smoky herbs and flowers. Juicy and expansive, offering sweet, deeply pitched bitter cherry and dark berry flavors supported by a taut spine of acidity and fine-grained tannins. Finishes with powerful spicy thrust and suggestions of candied flowers and woodsmoke. This could pass for a northern Rhone wine, and a really good one at that.

2006 Yangarra Cadenzia (McLaren Vale, Australia)
Yangarra makes deliciously fruity wines. 68% Grenache, 27% Shiraz, 5% Mourvédre. Lavender, cherries, beets, and cocoa. 91 points, Wine Spectator: Bright and jazzy, offering a riot of flavors, including plum, blackberry, floral and licorice notes that swirl through the finish against fine tannins.

2009 Bodegas Caro Amancaya Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina)
The alliance between the Argentinian CAtena family and the French Barons de ROthschild (Lafite) produces world-class wines presenting a harmonious balance between the Argentine and Bordeaux styles. 89 points, Tanzer's International Wine Cellar (1-2011): The 70/30 blend is full ruby-red. Complex, Medoc-like nose combines redcurrant, nutty oak, leather, tobacco leaf and fresh herbs. Supple and suave, with a restrained sweetness and a fine-grained texture. The broad tannins reach the teeth.

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Wine Tasting January 18 - 21, 2012
{Special White Wine Only Tasting Saturday January 21 - See Notes Below}

2009 Hogue Dry Riesling (Washington)
The winemakers recommend pairing the Riesling with a chef's salad, fresh spring rolls or sushi. Best Buy, Wine Enthusiast:  Round and easy-drinking, this pure varietal Riesling is centered on peach and apricot fruit flavors. It does not show a floral or mineral side, but does bring in some pleasing spice. Very well balanced and classic.

2008 Hedges Red Mountain Estate (Washington)
A consistent best value from the Red Mountain appellation in Washington State, blended across the winery's estate vineyards. Impressive concentration and fruit, yet with Bordeaux structure. Holds its own when compared with more expensive and prestigious Red Mountain wines.36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 14% Syrah, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec. 50% new oak.

2007 Northstar Merlot Columbia Valley (Washington)
75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot , aged 18 months in oak. 93 points, Wine Enthusiast (12/31/2010): From a superb year, this wine saw all French oak, but an ongoing reduction in exposure to new barrels brought the percentage down to 60%. Young and muscular, the blend of black fruits, sweet oak and toasty spice is focused and compelling. Pure fruit flavors include black cherry and plum, smooth and concentrated, with a smoky kick in the lingering finish.

2006 Powers Meritage Reserve (Washington)
A strong candidate for the best Powers wine. Balanced, layered, and complex with black plum, blackberry, and cherry, plus vanilla and caramel.   31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 18% Petite Verdot, 21% Malbec, and 8% Cabernet Franc. Only 247 cases produced.

2007 DeLille Cellars Doyenne Syrah (Yakima Valley, Washington)
94 points, Wine Advocate: 2% Viognier. Purple-colored, it displays an alluring bouquet of bacon, game, incense, blueberry, and plum. Rich, layered, and loaded.

 

Special White Wine Only Tasting - Saturday, January 21

2008 Thomas Fogarty Gewurztraminer (Monterey, California)
100% Gewurztraminer, which is one of the supremely aromatic grapes. Fom the  Viento Vineyard, which has great shale and limestone soil. Fogarty  produces a delightful one with traditional rose petals, lychee nuts, and spice, only with a distinctive California twist -  more brightly citric  and delicious, fermented cool, with a touch of residual sugar that tames the bitterness that Gewurztraminer often has. ¾ of the grapes were  fermented whole brunch with stems. Wonderful with Oriental foods.

2007 Verget Macon Charnay Clos St Pierre (France)
90 points, International Wine Cellar: Light gold, with a faint haze. Smoke, truffle, lees, orange and dried  flowers on the nose. Reminds me of a Chassagne with its deep, smoky  orchard fruit and leesy citrus flavors complicated by anise, toasted  nuts and honey. Punches above its class, with strong finishing thrust  and sweet, smoky persistence. This would blend smoothly into a flight of top-notch wines from much more famous and expensive areas of Burgundy.

2009 Rombauer Chardonnay (Carneros, California)
Features the fatty richness and texture of butter sauce, deftly balanced by  lemony acidity, and laced with smoky oak and butterscotch. Mouth coating and very long.  Spectacular with lobster, crab, and shrimp.

2008 Albert Bichot Meursault (Burgundy, France)
Meursault is one of the most famous areas of France for Chardonnay, made in a rich and oaked style. This wines is not cheap, but it delivers. Rich, layered, citric, and silky. Even if you do not buy it, at least experience it, to know what you are missing.

2008 Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay (Napa, California)
The list price for this wine at the winery is $60. Newton has long been one of my favorite wineries in California for both Chardonnay and Merlot.  Their Unfiltered Chardonnay is a great and opulent Chardonnay, that the  Wine Advocate called one of California's most glorious Chardonnays.  Ultra-rich citrus, honey blossom, hazelnut, pear, fig, melon,  butterscotch, and toasted oak. 93 points, Wine Spectator.

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Wine Tasting January 11 - 14, 2012

2008 Santa Rita Reserva Medalla Real Sauvignon Blanc Reserva (Chile)
The Medalla Real is Santa Rita's top Sauvignon Blanc, made to be not what they produce at some price level, but the best they make. From Leyda Valley, closer to the cool Pacific as opposed to being in the sunnier and hotter interior. Very lightly tinted, with aromas of grass and grapefruit. A clean and juicy acidity, with a rounded edge. Has a greater fullness in the mouth than the less expensive "reserve". 

2007 Flinders Bay Mayflower Malbec Merlot (Australia)
Named after a wrecked ship. A very distinctive wine made from 60% Malbec and 40% Merlot.  Lush mouthfeel with soft red fruit notes and exotic spices and mocha. Aromatic and delicious. 

2009 Penley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Phoenix (Coonawarra, Australia)
94 points, James Halliday: Bright crimson; by some distance, the best of the '09 Penley varietals, with redcurrant and blackcurrant fruit supported by quality cedary oak and fine tannins, the medium-bodied palate long and complete.

2005 Aramis Cabernet Sauvignon (McLaren Vale, Australia)
This wine came in first at a blind tasting of Cabernets with a panel of experienced tasters. No one thought it was Australian, because it wasn't sugary, low acid, low tannin, and overripe. 100% Cab, dry, buttressed by tannin and acid, with intense cassis and blackberry, and absolutely delicious right now. A strong candidate for the best $20 Cabernet of the year.

2003 E & E Black Pepper Shiraz (Australia)
94 points Wine Spectator: Bright, round and juicy. A gorgeous mouthful of cherry, black-berry and floral flavors, lingering on the finish with a touch of dark espresso to add interest. The tannins are polished, and the wine has a keen sense of balance, grace and harmony.

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Wine Tasting January 4 - 7, 2012

2007 Verget Macon Charnay Clos St Pierre (France)
90 points, International Wine Cellar: Light gold, with a faint haze. Smoke, truffle, lees, orange and dried flowers on the nose. Reminds me of a Chassagne with its deep, smoky orchard fruit and leesy citrus flavors complicated by anise, toasted nuts and honey. Punches above its class, with strong finishing thrust and sweet, smoky persistence. This would blend smoothly into a flight of top-notch wines from up north. 

2009 Bodegas Vinae Mureri Xiloca (Aragon, Spain)
100% Grenache, old vines, made with no oak. 89 points, Wine Advocate: Very fragrant perfume of earthy minerality and black cherries. This tasty, friendly, value-priced offering has ample fruit as well as a sense of elegance. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. 

2007 Louis Chave Offerus St Joseph (Rhone, France)
90 points, International Wine Cellar: Inky ruby. Powerful aromas of blackcurrant, dark cherry and olive, with a smoky undertone of dark chocolate and violet. Weighty dark berry and violet pastille flavors coat the palate, with velvety tannins providing shape on the back. Rich but not especially heavy, with very good finishing cling to the flavors of candied flowers and cracked pepper. This could only be syrah.

2008 Woodward Canyon Nelms Road Merlot (Washington)
Includes 3% Dolchetto. Of the prior 2007 vintage, 89 points, Wine Enthusiast: A vivid, fresh and fragrant wine, this is alive with a luscious mix of flavors from the intriguing mix of grapes, including Syrah, Dolcetto and Barbera. Lots of strawberry, sweet cherry candy and lively, juicy acids make this a standout. There are more and more well-made red blends selling at this price point in Washington, but this goes right to the top.

2007 Campo Negro Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza, Argentina)
www.underthegrapetree.com: Lots of complexity and concentration for a wine at this price. Dense and concentrated with cedar, mocha, black currant, blackberry, plum, and a plush quality that suggests something from Napa.  Mountain fruit, aged in oak, the price of this wine would be staggering if it came from California. Instead, it's from Argentina, and costs you a song.

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