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November 2006

November 6, 2006

Source-Napa 2003 Heritage Sites

Source-Napa winemakers Bill Davies and Tom Gamble met the first day of nursery school in 1965. Both came from Napa Valley farming families and have been involved with wine their entire lives. This history is the essence of their natural winemaking philosophy that seeks to create a product that is true to the vineyard, or to the source, if you will. Davies and Gamble emphasize micro-lot fermentation, gentle handling and thoughtful blending, while favoring low yields, native yeast and minimal filtration to honor the character of the land. Full of life and dark red fruit flavors, this Merlot-based (74 percent) Meritage won’t disappoint. It’s dark in the glass and releases robust flavors of blackcurrant and raspberry. We found sage and eucalyptus in the long finish. A solid acid-tannic balance allows you to match it with flavorful dishes, and we enjoyed sipping it despite its youth. Pair it with steaks or other red meats. This is a serious wine that won’t break the bank.

Rating: 15/20

Other Meritages we've tasted
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November 13, 2006

Stonestreet Upper Barn 2004 Chardonnay

Should you be lucky enough to tour the many acres of vineyard land under the ownership and management of Kendall-Jackson, you’d need quite a bit of time. With ongoing projects and developments in various corners of the world, there are quite a lot of wine brands to choose from. Stonestreet is a premium brand named in honor of Jess Jackson’s late father (Jess Stonestreet Jackson) with an estate located in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. Here winemaker Graham Weerts picks fruit from specific minute parcels and produces a limited quantity of some really good stuff. Located in a southwestern sloping plot in Alexander Valley is the Upper Barn—the old building that lends its name to our wine of the week. Produced exclusively from the heirloom Wente clone, this Chardonnay benefits from terroir matching and optimum sun exposure growing conditions. Although fermented 100 percent in French oak barrels, the wine is not overly buttery. Less than 300 cases were produced, but the estate also bottles other vineyard designate offerings such as Stonestreet’s Red Point and Broken Road Chardonnay. Upper Barn has a noble gold color that’s a bit dark for a young wine and has very floral aromas with honeysuckle and a transition from vanilla to summer fruits. There is a lingering finish with some citrus and pineapple tones. It is a true-to-type wine that is best enjoyed with food.

Rating: 14.5/20
Price: $40

Other Chardonnays we've tasted
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November 20, 2006

PlumpJack 2004 Merlot

It’s Thanksgiving week and that means it’s time to talk turkey. As you’ll see on our food and wine pairing guide, Merlot is a varietal that goes particularly well with the holiday bird of choice and PlumpJack is no exception. Sometimes controversial San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom owns this Napa Valley winery and the restaurant chain (San Francisco, Lake Tahoe) that shares the PlumpJack name, along with the Balboa Café and Jack Falstaff restaurants. The Merlot grapes used in this 2004 vintage are sourced from the Rutherford and Oak Knoll appellations, and blended with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon (10 percent) from St. Helena. The wine has a solid fruit forward character: bing cherry, raspberry and currants come to mind. In the mouth you’ll experience flavors of plum and vanilla. Bring a bottle to the table and your friends will love you for it. At $50 a pop, they’d better. Now that you have the right wine, you just need to wait for that perfectly cooked bird to come out of the oven.

For more Thanksgiving Day wines, click here.

Rating: 14.5/20
Price: $50

Other Merlots we've tasted
Check out our guide to California
For more information, visit

November 27, 2006

Hugel 2004 Gewürztraminer

Here comes that wine with the funny name again. The famous house of Hugel, with 100-year-old wine casks parked in their 17th century buildings in Riquewihr, brings to market their 2004 Gewürztraminer . All this sounds very German, but we assure you it’s 100-percent French. You can thank that geographic ping-pong ball Alsace, which has bounced back and forth between Germany and France for centuries. Eighty percent of Hugel’s wines are exported to more than 100 countries, creating a brand that is world-renowned. From the family’s very own 62-acre vineyard come the delicate Gewürzt grapes carefully harvested by hand and brought to the press in small tubs. The gravity-flowed juice is left to ferment in large barrels, experiences one racking only and is lightly filtered before bottling. What you get is a very natural product that’s well-balanced with good fruit acidity to pair with your favorite Asian fusion preparation. This is a dry wine with a light gold color, tropical fruit notes and is delicate on the palate with some licorice hints in the finish. As a great value wine, we’re delighted to present you this Gewürztraminer in preparation for the holiday season’s parties.

Rating: 15/20
Price: $20

Other Gewürztraminers we've tasted
Check out our guide to Alsace
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