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March 2006

March 6, 2006

Cycles Gladiator — 2004 Central Coast Chardonnay

For all of you romantics out there, here is a wine that recalls the Belle Époque of the late 19th century France. French painter G. Massias created a promotional poster depicting a beautiful young woman with her flying bicycle. This famous artwork is the inspiration and label for Adam LaZarre's (Smith & Hook and Hahn Estates) new project, Cycles Gladiator. This newly released Chardonnay was aged in 60 percent new French oak and 40 percent stainless steel, giving the wine a hint of toasted oak flavor. Aromas of citrus and pineapple also permeate through the creamy wine, adding a slight tropical twist. Buy a case and enjoy it as an aperitif—at $10 a bottle, you’ll hardly notice a dent in your wallet.

Rating: 13/20

Other Chardonnays we've tasted
Check out our guide to Central Coast, CA
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March 13, 2006

Atlas Peak — 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Here is a serious Cab from Napa at a mid-range price. It is still quite young and not necessarily your best sipping wine, so we advise you to give it time to let the magical tannins do their thing. Grown at higher elevations, these grapes don’t overripen and deliver a balanced, albeit dark, juice. Intense red fruit concentration greets you on the nose. In the mouth, robust tannins give you plenty of pep to attack an equally robust steak. Think ripe Bing cherry on the nose, tobacco and vanilla in the mouth. Full-bodied, it will take you to a long finish.

Rating: 14/20

Other Cabernet Sauvignons we've tasted
Check out our guide to Napa Valley
For more information, visit

March 20, 2006

Badia a Coltibuono — 2000 Chianti Classico Riserva

The Abbey at Badia a Coltibuono seems straight out of a fantasy novel. Set in the Tuscan hills amid tranquil pines, this fifteenth-century complex houses an inn, a notable restaurant and a multi-generational winery. As for the 2000 Riserva, in our humble opinion Chiantis don’t age very well, but this bottle is drinking admirably right now. Expect a good balance of tannins, acid and flavors. The Stucchi-Prinetti family, who runs the winery, only produces the Riserva in outstanding years with grapes from older vineyards; because of this selection, you get an elegant wine with rustic tone—a true terroir expressive wine that is not over-engineered. With a treasure chest of flavors from ripe fruits to chocolate, this vino is a true charmer.

Rating: 15/20

Other Sangioveses we've tasted
Check out our guide to Italy
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March 27, 2006

Osborne Solaz — 2003 Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon

More than six generations of tradition have gone into the Osborne Solaz winery, located deep in the heart of Spain, in the Tierra de Castilla region. It remains one of the few winemaking families to make their own aging barrels, which are crafted by the in-house master coopers. But even with the storied heritage, this wine is one of the best values on the market. At only $8, the Solaz is both approachable and food-friendly. With well-balanced tannins and aromas of ripe berries, this red blend will pair with a variety of meat dishes, pastas and cheeses.

Rating: 14/20

Other Red Blends we've tasted
Check out our guide to Spain
For more information, visit



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