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October 2007

October 29, 2007

Bottle of 2005 Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards 2005 Dundee Hills Estate Pinot Noir Wine

2005 Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards Dundee Hills Estate Pinot Noir
Dundee Hills, Oregon

One of the reasons wines from Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards stand out is due to winemaker Don Lange’s innovative fermentation techniques. This family-owned vineyard in the Dundee Hills of Oregon's northern Willamette Valley was the first to release a barrel-fermented reserve Pinot Gris, which was very well-received, and emulated by others. It has been 20 years since Don, a songwriter who recorded three albums, released his first Pinot Noir, and today he produces a half-dozen different ones, aided by his wife Wendy and son Jesse. Although the family produces 14,000 cases of their three varietals annually (they also make Chardonnay), there are only 400 cases of the 2005 Dundee Hills Estate Pinot Noir. It features black cherry on the palate and red currant, crushed raspberry and black plum on the nose. This full-bodied wine pairs well with dishes featuring swordfish and scallops.

Rating: 15/20
Price: $60

Other Pinot Noirs we have tasted
Check out our guide to Oregon
For more information, visit

October 22, 2007

Bottle of 2002 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon Wine

2002 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, California

Perched near the top of Mount Veeder, Mayacamas Vineyards holds some of Napa's highest vineyard sites, ranging from 1,800 to 2,400 feet. As a result, the winery's cold-climate fruit features intense flavor and the character of struggling vines. As owners and operators of the tiny production since 1968, Bob and Elinor Travers have managed to keep production levels low by consistently delivering quality levels that are among the region's highest.

This week we present to you the 2002, as the winery has a tendency of holding back their wines and re-releasing older vintages, which we think is an outstanding practice. With its $35 price tag, this vino is a good value. In many ways, this wine is tame. It pairs well with many foods, but is best enjoyed simply by sipping it. It’s important to note that the wine was aged for a year and a half in large oak casks and then followed by an additional year of aging in oak barrels. Not bottled until May of 2005, you get another two years in the bottle before sampling its berry nose, blackberry and deep red cherry characters with spices of pepper, mint and a hint of cocoa. This Cabernet Sauvignon would compliment lamb or skirt steak. We even had a delectable loin of black bear that this would have gone perfectly with.

Rating: 14.5/20
Price: $75

Other Cabernet Sauvignons we have tasted
Check out our guide to California
For more information, visit

October 15, 2007

Bottle of 2005 Dry River Pinot Noir Wine

2005 Dry River Pinot Noir
Martinborough, New Zealand

Neil and Dawn McCallum have a secret for vintners who wish to produce high-quality wine comparable to their 2005 Dry River Pinot Noir: grow your grapes on land that sheep once roamed. The arid, free-draining area was one of New Zealand’s first and largest sheep ranches known as Dry River. After playing home to rams and ewes, the land was sold to the government and underwent a series of name changes. In 1979, the McCallums purchased what had become the Martinborough Terrace. Paying homage to the area’s history, the couple named their winery Dry River. Neil serves as Chief Winemaker, working with a staff of ten to produce nearly 3,000 cases of wine a year, encompassing many varietals. Their Pinot Noir greets its fans with a floral nose, which leads to red berry characteristics. This deep ruby colored wine is medium in body and does have some astringency. We think food would be its best ally, with white fish in cream sauce a prime choice.

Rating: 13.5/20
Price: $90

Other Pinot Noirs we have tasted
Check out our guide to New Zealand
For more information, visit

October 8, 2007

2004 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, California

Along with fine fruit, there really are giant sequoia trees growing on the aptly-named Sequoia Grove estate in the Rutherford region of Napa Valley. Although this family-owned vineyard has produced many fine estate wines since its inception in 1980, winemaker Michael Trujillo sourced half the fruit for the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon from other parts of Napa Valley in order to achieve a balanced final product. High fall temperatures that year caused the harvest to occur a record two weeks early. The wine spent 18 months in American Oak barrels, adding a hint of spice to the aroma of cherries; was bottled in the summer of 2006; and released this past June. The dark, fruit-forward wine features soft tannins, and a slippery mouthfeel. It pairs well with grilled meats.

Rating: 13.5/20
Price: $32

Other Cabernet Sauvignons we have tasted
Check out our guide to California
For more information, visit

October 1, 2007

Bottle of Buena Vista 2005 Pinot Noir – Ramal Vineyard Wine

2005 Buena Vista Pinot Noir—Ramal Vineyard
Carneros, California

One hundred and fifty years for a winery in California is a big deal. Yes, there was wine made in New Mexico and Florida as early as the 1560s, but in modern winemaking, it’s quite an achievement. The winery recently refocused and is now producing fewer but higher quality products, exclusively from Carneros. For this Ramal Vineyard cuvee, which doubles up as the anniversary celebration, grapes were hand-harvested, sorted and destemmed. They were then cold soaked and fermented in open-top fermentors and punched down three times a day, fourteen days on skins and aged for eight months in French oak barrels, half of which were new. The result is a pleasant vino with a nice deep red color and flavors of raspberry and plum. The wine is robust enough to go with food, such as beef tenderloin. Remember to stop by the historic tasting room, which served as the old winery, in the town of Sonoma. Built by founder Count Agoston Haraszthy in 1857, the property is now in the hands of Beam Wine Estates.

Rating: 15/20
Price: $37

Other Pinot Noirs we have tasted
Check out our guide to California
For more information, visit



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