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July 2007

July 2, 2007

Kuleto Estate Sangiovese

2004 Kuleto Estate Sangiovese
Napa Valley, California

Winemaker and restaurant designer Pat Kuleto didn’t have to ward off much competition when he set his sights on five parcels of cattle land, the 761-acre Napa Valley ranch that he hoped to turn into his dream vineyard. Steep hills and a wild, mountainous terrain had many convinced that the land wouldn’t yield fruit, especially not the quality product required to make good wines.  Pat disagreed. Utilizing his design background, Pat worked with the land to create the ideal growing conditions for specific varietals, like his Sangiovese.  Instead of using clippers and machetes to limit his crop, the land does the work for him, thanks to thin soil and a mountaintop location. The resulting fruit has a highly concentrated flavor, which shows through in the complex palate and the noteworthy bouquet. Aromas of cherries and spice combine with juniper and cinnamon toast on the nose, and the ripe berry flavors follow through to the palate. Toast to Kuleto’s ingenuity while enjoying this vino with braised lamb and mushrooms.

Rating: 14.5/20
Price: $32

Other Sangioveses we've tasted
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July 9, 2007

Shady Lane Cellars Sparkling Riesling

2005 Shady Lane Cellars Sparkling Riesling
Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan

For those not familiar with Michigan’s winemaking, here’s a brief refresher. The missionaries who arrived there in the 17th century planted an array of fruit trees and, of course, wine grapes, since they had to have ceremonial wines. In operation since the late 1980s, Shady Lane has consistently delivered quality products. We are sure that Winemaker Adam Satchwell has fun making the crisp Rieslings from the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula blessed by the jetstream. We were lucky enough to discover this region and Shady Lane a few years back, and have now enjoyed their wines for close to 20 years. This week’s pick is a sparkler to celebrate any summer day. You can sip it as an aperitif, or pair it with barbecued fare; we’re thinking veggies and fish. Trust us, the wine is extra-dry and a good little surprise should you get your hands on a bottle. Really, when was the last time you had a sparkling Riesling from Michigan? It is as much a fun wine as it is a serious one. It’s made with the cuve closed method and only has 1.4% residual sugar. It has a medium body and is definitely refreshing. There is a balance of fruits and flowers on the nose which carry through in the mouth. Drink it by yourself, at a romantic dinner or with a group of special friends.

Rating: 14/20
Price: $20

Other Sparklers we've tasted
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July 16, 2007

MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Syrah

2003 MacRostie Winery Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Syrah
Carneros, California

Steve MacRostie began crafting wines after graduating from the University of California at Davis with a degree in Enology in 1974. A Carneros region native, MacRostie wished to plant his own vines on home soil.  Unfortunately, very few tracts of land were unclaimed in the popular wine-growing region, making his Carneros dream harder to attain.  It was while helping his son with a science project on soil types that MacRostie had the epiphany responsible for this complex Syrah: the Wildcat Mountain highlands, full of volcanic soil and located on the cool, Pacific side of Carneros, would be a perfect spot to plant his vineyards.  The area was then being used as pastureland by the Lilly family, who MacRostie quickly formed a partnership with, and the team began planting the following year. The foggy and breezy mountaintop vineyard produces a flavor-filled fruit, which shines through in this rich Syrah.  Scents of blueberry and clove are followed by black pepper and blueberry on the palate, which combine with a hint of minerality in the finish. Enjoy this wine with grilled lamb chops.

Rating: 15.5/20
Price: $32

Other Syrahs we've tasted
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July 24, 2007

2006 Dashe Cellars Dry Riesling McFadden Farms

2006 Dashe Cellars Dry Riesling McFadden Farms
Oakland, California

Although Dashe Cellars is usually known for its Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, in 2006 the vintners chose to depart from their reds and craft an organically-grown dry Riesling—the first white wine they've ever produced. The grapes were grown on Guinness McFadden's ranch in Mendocino County's Potter Valley, where they ripened high in the mountains during cool nights and warm days. They were then picked on a mid-October morning and pressed in an Italian grape press while still cold, a process which intensified the fruit flavors. The wine was bottled in early January, and only 244 cases of the inaugural white were produced. Sippers will taste apricot, orange and honeysuckle and also note a floral nose of orange blossom and figs. The wine's crisp, clean finish can be enjoyed with seafood such as white fish and oysters.

Rating: 13.5/20
Price: $20

Other Rieslings we've tasted
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July 30, 2007

2005 Patz & Hall Chenoweth Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

2005 Patz & Hall Chenoweth Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Napa Valley, California

Patz & Hall is the creation of four individuals: Donald and Heather Patz, James Hall and Anne Moses. Between them, they have spent their time with wineries such as Flora Springs, Far Niente and Honig Cellars before coming together to produce their note-worthy Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Although their Chenoweth Ranch vineyard was originally cultivated as an apple orchard, it now produces the superlative fruit that makes up this 2005 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir. Located on the far western edge of the Russian River appellation in Green Valley, one of the region’s coolest areas, this vineyard is protected from late-afternoon sun by steep western hills, allowing the grapes to retain a bright acidity. After malolactic fermentation in the barrel, winemaker James Hall bottled only 500 cases in August 2006 from this small, seven-acre vineyard. On the palate, concentrated flavors of cranberry and ripe cherry mingle with aromas of strawberry and framboise liqueur. Plush tannins and complex flavors make this wine a good match with various cheeses as well as game meats like pheasant, rabbit and venison.

Rating: 14.5/20
Price: $55

Other Pinot Noirs we have tasted
Check out our guide to Wine Country
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