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September 2007

September 24, 2007

Bottle of 2004 Ramey Jericho Canyon Vineyard, Napa Valley Wine

2004 Ramey Jericho Canyon Vineyard, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, California

David Ramey aspires to manage a staff that meshes together as smoothly as the many red blends they have produced. Their latest offering, the 2004 Jericho Canyon Vineyard, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, finally contains the necessary 75% content of one type of grape to make the jump from “red wine,” as it was previously categorized, to an official Cabernet Sauvignon. For the seventh vintage from the Jericho Canyon Vineyard, Ramey and his team of winemakers have created 1,730 cases of smooth-tasting vino. The grapes were grown at the base of Mt. St. Helena in shallow soil above a layer of volcanic ash. Ramey has done extensive research on how grapes acquire particular flavors, so when he chooses to let the fruit hang until the last possible moment, it is fair to assume he knows what he’s doing. Other vintners now emulate Ramey’s techniques with indigenous yeast and malolactic and barrel fermentation, a practice that results in richer, smoother wines. This Sauvignon splurge pairs well with most meats, especially a large T-bone steak.

Rating: 16/20
Price: $110

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

September 17, 2007

et Sauvignon Wine

2004 Hunter III Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, California

After working at wineries like Domaine Chandon, Schramsberg, and alongside his father at Robert Hunter Winery, Robert Hunter III has launched his own label. He has done so with significant success, as displayed in his 2004 Hunter III Cabernet Sauvignon. He has spent a significant amount of time on many estates, and his twenty-plus years of experience have been put to good use. Applying his knowledge of the industry to his own vineyard, Robert Hunter III has developed a different strategy for growing and gathering his fruit. Instead of adhering to a specific harvesting schedule, the grapes that were used for his Cabernet Sauvignon were observed and picked only when Hunter felt they had reached full flavor maturity. The resulting 150 cases feature big jam-like fruit flavors, due to the aged tannins. Blackberry and black cherry are featured on the nose, with hints of vanilla, sage and cocoa. This lush wine pairs well with a cut of Prime rib or with chocolate covered strawberries.

Rating: 14/20
Price: $68

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

September 11, 2007

Vérité 2000 La Joie

2000 Vérité La Joie
Sonoma County, California

Lawyer turned gentleman-vintner Jess Jackson is building an amazing wine empire: Kendall-Jackson, Archipel, Atalon, Arrowood, Byron, Camelot, Freemark Abbey, Lokoya, Murphy-Goode, Robert Pecota and Stonestreet.  Not only has the Sonoma-based self-made billionaire acquired vineyard land throughout California, but he also has projects in South America, Italy and France. Coming full circle, he is looking for truth in wine via his Vérité program right back where he started—in Sonoma. We’re talking serious stuff, something to rival the heavenly Chateau Petrus. All this armed with a battery of tools: superior terroir, talented people and the almighty dollar. Vigneron extraordinaire AKA micro-cru terriorist Pierre Seillan is in charge of delivering the goods. He sources grapes from specific areas within a multitude of vineyards from fifteen different soil conditions from the estate to elaborate perfect blends, not forgetting the purpose-planted Jackson Park on Bennett Mountain.

There are three lines in the program: La Muse, La Joie and Le Desir. We tasted some of the early releases (too early) a few years back and were not convinced. At a recent tasting, we were very impressed by the evolution of the aging wines and are happy to report that the considerable efforts have paid off. Curiously, the 2004 Le Desir ($150) is drinking quite nicely, but all these wines benefit greatly from a long aging process. The sold-out 1999 La Muse was our favorite, but let’s focus on our weekly selection. La Joie (joy) is crafted to approximate Pauillac-styled wines with a dominance of Cabernet Sauvignon over Merlot. It’s ready to drink now, but this 2000 will continue to soften over time to become even more velvety. The nose is quite pleasant with vibrant fruit scents. There is definite structure with long legs. It’s balanced, even, complex without complications, shows off a superb color and is quite elegant overall. You can feel comfortable serving it with duck or striped bass in red wine sauce. With an interminable finish, you’ll somehow manage a way to justify its princely figure… but is it the next Cal Cult vino? Only time will tell.

Rating: 17.5/20
Price: $100

Other Meritage & Bordeaux we have tasted
Check out our guide to California
For more information, visit

September 3 , 2007

Callaway Winemaker's Reserve Opera D'Arte

2005 Callaway Winemaker's Reserve Opera D'Arte
Temecula Valley, California

The Callaway Vineyard & Winery, founded in 1969 by golf go-to guy Ely Callaway, has produced a wine comparable to a 300-yard drive down the center of the fairway. The 2005 Winemaker's Reserve Opera D'Arte was grown on a vineyard located on a plateau located below the peaks of the mountains in the Temecula Valley, where Callaway says, “the sun shines through the mist.” Fruity aromas are as full and rich as the tropical tastes featured in this lush wine. These bold aromas and flavors are the result of Callaway's tradition of fermenting in unusually cold temperatures to slow the process, allowing the natural flavors of the fruit to remain. In the Opera D'Arte, the combination of Pinot Gris, Viognier, Roussanne and Muscat Canelli grapes produce flavors of guava and passion fruit, with hints of grapefruit and sweet pineapple on the nose. This wine does well as a stand alone sipper, but can also be matched with cool fruits like tangerines, or with an Asian chicken salad.

Rating: 15/20
Price: $28

Other White Blends we have tasted
Check out our guide to California
For more information, visit



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