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January 2007

January 1, 2007

Pommery POP
Champagne, France

When Pommery POP Champagne was introduced in 1999, it was only available in a small single-serving size. Connoisseurs were taken aback by the break with tradition, and especially the sight of people quaffing the high-class drink directly from the 187ml bottle or through a straw like a soda pop. But as POP caught on around the world with more and more style-conscious customers, other Champagne houses followed suit, offering small bottles of their wares. Now the Product Of Pommery (POP) is also sold in a full 750ml bottle, all the better to share with friends during the holiday season. The genuine AOC Champagne is a blend of 90 percent Chardonnay and 10 percent Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Even though the large cobalt blue bottle is marked “Extra Dry,” its yellow-hued contents are sweeter than a typical Brut. But that just makes it even more appropriate to POP open a bottle to ring in a sweet New Year.

Rating: 14.5/20
Price: $35 / 750 mL or $11 / 187 mL

Other Sparkling Wines we've tasted
Check out our guide to Champagne, France
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January 8, 2007

Smith Woodhouse 1992 Late Bottled Vintage Port

Since 1882, the Symington family has taken pride in delivering consumers exceptional value and we concur, after tasting this unfiltered, late-bottled vintage. Port carries all sorts of old traditions, some of which have been forgotten by today’s wine aficionados. But in the heart of winter, a shot of port is a great recipe to warm your system up. It can even be blended in hot drinks as an après-ski or for a night cap. In lieu of those possibilities, it also pairs nicely with Stilton cheese. We found a true-to-type nose with nice wood tones in the mouth and a solid structure that takes you to the finish.

Rating: 14.5/20
Price: $26

Other Ports we've tasted
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January 15, 2007

Sanctuary Usibelli Vineyards 2003 Napa Valley

Sanctuary Usibelli Vineyards 2003 Napa Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon
Mendocino, CA

Sanctuary Estates in Mendocino County, Calif., have sourced grapes from the heritage Usibelli Vineyards in Rutherford, Calif., to deliver a true Napa Cab with all the typical strength and elegance. This ’03 packs a punch: full of tannins, toasty oak and spices. It’s definitely a food wine and we highly recommend that you age it for a while in your cellar before consumption. It’s quite dark and has good body with dark summer fruit flavors. You’ll encounter a near interminable finish and will continue to discover other nuances of cigar box, vanilla and clove among a few others. Pair it with a nice loin of venison or a grilled flank steak. It’s perfect for a comforting winter evening at a table near a fireplace.

Rating: 15/20
Price: $32

Other Cabernets we've tasted
Check out our guide to Napa/Sonoma

January 22, 2007

Spelletich Cellars 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, CA

Napa Valley’s Spelletich Cellars is a labor of love for the family winemaking team of Timothy and Barb Spelletich and their daughter Kristen. Completely owned and operated by the family since their first harvest in 1994, the winery focuses on creating a product that is rich and refreshing. Most of the winemaking experience came from Barb who worked at several wineries (including Château Ste. Michelle) and owned her own distribution company. She developed a keen sense of all things oenological, concentrating on preserving the fruit’s ripe flavor. The 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon delivers as advertised, with balanced layers of ripe fruit: bright and lively black cherry, blackberry and deep plum with touches of licorice, chocolate and caramel. It has a luxurious finish and as a full-bodied wine, will pair well with grilled meats.

Rating: 15/20
Price: $48

Other Cabernets we've tasted
Check out our guide to Napa/Sonoma
For more information, visit

January 29, 2007

2002 Robert Talbott Diamond T Estate Chardonnay
Monterey, CA

Robert Talbott’s Diamond T Estates is a small, 24-acre, tightly spaced vineyard on a 1,200-foot mountaintop located eight miles from California’s Carmel Bay. With an almost soil-free mixture of chalky shale, the growing conditions are less than ideal, but the small Diamond T harvests (less than one ton per acre) produce intensely flavored Chardonnay grapes that have been grown there since Robert Talbott first planted the Corton-Charlemagne clone 25 years ago. Distinctly warm growing conditions in 2002 created a vintage much riper than past Diamond T Chardonnays, showing more opulence and balance at this early stage of its release. Talbott suggests cellaring for three to five years, but it could be enjoyed now. The nose shows lemon, citrus zest, kiwi and ripe pear with green apple and a light toasty character indicative of the French oak barrels it was aged in for 14 months. There are round, ripe flavors of lemon meringue, fig, ripe peach and underlying mineral notes that come from the vineyard’s calcareous chalk soil.

Rating: 15/20
Price: $65

Other Chardonnays we've tasted
Check out our guide to Monterey/Carmel
For more information, visit



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