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May 2006

May 1, 2006

Simi Reserve Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

A California Cab lover’s delight, this robust reserve wine from the house of Simi packs a punch of layered scents and flavors from the Alexander Valley. Simi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is created by keeping all of the vineyard blocks separate throughout the winemaking process. This allows winemaker Steve Reeder to select the best vineyard lots from the 125-year-old winery for the final blend, which is fashioned over a two-year period by selecting the best barrels from the most intense lots, and aged for 16 months in French and American oak. Six percent of the firm-bodied wine is Cabernet Franc, which adds to the structure as well as the complex aromas. With notes of cassis, leather and sage backed by toasty vanilla, the Sonoma County offering pairs well with roasted meats and blue cheese.

Rating: 16.5/20

Other Cabernet Sauvignons we've tasted
Check out our guide to Sonoma County
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May 8, 2006

Chamard 2002 Southeastern New England Estate Reserve Chardonnay

Winemaker Larry McCulloch has been tending 20 acres of mostly Chardonnay grapes in stony Connecticut soil near Long Island Sound for more than 20 years. In the past, we have been enamored of their Southeastern New England Estate Reserve Chardonnay, and the 2002 vintage continues that pleasing trend. Don’t prejudge it based on its Connecticut roots; in a blind tasting, it could easily pass for a selection from California or other prize Chardonnay territory. It’s big, buttery and earthy with good true-to-type fruit characteristics. This palate pleaser has a robust citrus finish that lingers, and will match up with an array of spring dishes, such as a lobster salad from its New England cousin Maine. Overall, we consider it a great value.

Rating: 13.5/20

Other Chardonnays we've tasted
Check out our guide to Connecticut
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May 15, 2006

1997 Robert Hunter Brut de Noirs "Extended Tirage"

Rooted in the rural Valley of the Moon north of Sonoma, the Robert Hunter Winery is where Bob and Ann Hunter practice their newfound passion: winemaking. The couple has tremendous respect for Champagne, and strives to reproduce this beverage prized by kings and queens. In addition to the proprietors, the winemaking team comprises son Rob and technical consultant Claude Thibaut of Verzenay. Everything is handcrafted at Hunter and the sparkling wine is made according to the strict, labor-intensive méthode champenoise process. “We hope you agree that our attention to detail is well worth it,” says Robert Hunter, a banker turned farmer turned vintner. The winery is proud of the extended tirage that adds a layer of complexity, and we approve. Our 1997 showed positive signs of aging with a deep golden color, and a fun and playful yeastiness and nuttiness. This Pinot Noir-dominated sparkler has a structured backbone that will enable you to pair it with an array of food options.

Rating: 14.5/20

Other Sparkling Wines we've tasted
Check out our guide to Sonoma
For more information, visit

May 22, 2006

Bodegas Medrano-Irazu 2001 Rioja Crianza

Characterized by its cool climate and hilly terrain, Northern Spain’s Rioja Alavesa region is sprinkled with small family-owned bodegas like Medrano-Irazu, a vineyard that prides itself on its traditional foot pressing methods and vines that are at least 20 years old. They grow the region’s native Tempranillo grape, which although frequently blended with other varietals, can also stand tall on its own. Their 2001 Rioja Crianza is a medium to full bodied 100 percent Tempranillo wine with a deep ruby red color. It features cigar box and tobacco tones, with a long but green finish. Although the wine was aged for at least one year in American and French oak barrels, we think it could benefit from further aging. Like other Crianzas, this should pair well with grilled meats or traditional Spanish tapas like red peppers, serrano ham, potatoes and mushrooms.

Rating: 13/20

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



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