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January 2006

January 9, 2006

Chase Family Cellars — 2003 Zinfandel

This family-owned Napa Valley winery began less than ten years ago when owners Andy and Pam Simpson finally decided to enter the winemaking business, using some of the grapes that their family had been selling to other wineries for more than a century. The result is a newly released, estate-grown Zinfandel, an old-vineyard wine that is characteristically fruity. Although somewhat flat on the nose and light in color, the wine is full-bodied with flavors of cherry, blackberry and plum. Try it with darker, juicy meats such as braised ribs or game.

Rating: 14/20

Other Zinfandels we've tasted
Check out our guide to Napa Valley, CA

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January 16, 2006

Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard — Kluge SP 2002

It’s been more than a couple of centuries since French Huguenots began making wine in Florida, followed by Thomas Jefferson’s experiments in Virginia at Monticello. Well-established as a wine producing state, Virginia has been particularly successful in producing Chardonnay grapes. Great Champagnes are made of Chardonnay in France, so it’s no surprise that Patricia Kluge picked Albemarle County for her winery project. First wines were released in 2002 and showed great potential. Due to this early success, Kluge is currently expanding the vineyard operation, and more product will come from this Monticello Appellation. This week we popped the cork on this bright and flavorful Blanc de Blancs. Frenchman Charles Gendrot is in charge of winemaking for this méthode champenoise offering. In the glass, the 2002 Brut will greet you with a deep golden color and bright flavors of ripe apples, pear and hazelnut. The wine’s medium body offers satisfying creamy mouthfeel with average bubbles, complemented by a strong backbone and good structure. You can apply this vino to a vast array of foods, from delicate lobster recipes to pasta dishes to Asian-flavored preparations. Only 800 cases were produced, but "there is more on the way," says Kristin Moses, Kluge’s daughter and Director of Public Relations at Kluge Estate.

Rating: 14/20

Other Sparkling wines we've tasted
Check out our guide to Virginia

For more information, visit

January 23, 2006

Martin & Weyrich — 2002 Insieme

In Italian, Insieme translates to “together,” an appropriate name for a wine that blends Italian and French varietals. The wine is a combination of Barbera, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah and Sangiovese, all selections from winemaker Craig Reed, known for his penchant toward Italian grapes, and partner Alan Kinne, who incidentally was hired to help expand the Rhône and Bordeaux collection at Martin & Weyrich. A New World blend of Old World grapes, the Insieme shows a fruity, robust, yet balanced character. It will pair well with meat-based pastas or hard cheeses, and for $18, it’s not a bad value either.

Rating: 14/20

Other red blends we've tasted
Check out our review of Villa Toscana, Martin & Weyrich's own rustic Tuscan-inspired inn

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January 30, 2006

Root: 1 — 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon

With its release this month, Root: 1 becomes the newest member of Click Wine Group, the same company that brought labels like Fat Bastard and Jackaroo to the United States. Although its name is less provocative, the wine itself is unique in its composition. All of the grapes used in this Chilean wine are ungrafted and can be traced back to 19th century Bordeaux cuttings, meaning that their roots have not been affected by such plagues as phylloxera. Characterized by aromas of fruit, cassis and vanilla, this Cabernet is full-bodied and well-balanced. The palate features rich cherry and plum flavors, which will bode well with sharp cheeses and grilled meats. The price also makes it a reasonable purchase for your next party.

Rating: 13.5/20

Other Cabernet Sauvignons we've tasted
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