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August 2008

August 25, 2008

Ventana Vineyards' 2007 Dry Rosado

Ventana Vineyards
2007 Dry Rosado

Arroyo Seco, CA

Ventana Vineyards is best known for its exceptional Chardonnay fruit, which thrives in the cold nights and dry, rocky soil of Monterey’s Arroyo Seco AVA. Not only does the region provide good growing conditions for classic Chardonnays, it is also well-suited for intense Grenache and Syrah—the two grapes that compose the blend for Ventana’s Dry Rosado. Deep ruby in color, Ventana’s Rosado offers a far heavier body than your average, salmon-hued, Provençal Rosé. But Ventana’s wine, bone dry on the palate, offers all the classic elements we’ve come to love from European Rosé, only this wine is produced by an all-American team. Its one flaw may be a slightly artificial strawberry soda note on the nose. However, this well-structured Rosé offers the sort of thirst-quenching crispness you would hope for in a summer wine. Serve it well-chilled as a late afternoon aperitif or paired with a light meal of cold meats and cheeses. With its body and bright acidity, the wine should also complement a backyard barbecue.

Rating: 13/20
Price: $18

Other Rosés we have tasted
Check out our guide to Monterey
For more information, visit

August 18, 2008

Summerland Winery's 2007 Paso Robles Zinfandel

Summerland Winery
2007 Paso Robles Zinfandel

Paso Robles, CA

Summerland Winery is the child of vintner Nebil “Bilo” Zarif, who is no stranger to the California wine business. He arrived on the scene when he purchased the Maison Deutz central California property and founded Laetitia Vineyard & Winery in the 1990s. In 2001, he sold the project and moved onward and southward to found Summerland in Santa Barbara. Along with winemaker Etienne Terlinden, Zarif’s Summerland Winery focuses on high-quality, terroir-driven Santa Barbara Wines. Summerland’s just-released Zinfandel is the kind of red that calls for sunshine and barbecue. Although it isn’t the most complex of Zinfandels, what it lacks in body it more than makes up for in price. This is definitely one of the best-priced Zins we’ve seen in a long time, and only 1,500 cases were produced. Flavors of bright cherry mingle with a certain Central California earthiness. Its medium body and fine tannins make it an easy drinker for hot, summer days. A touch of white pepper and clove on the finish give the wine a nice edge and make it a good partner for grilled lamb or marinated and charred ribs. A fruit-driven wine, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser, with bright berry for the lightweights and that nuance of spice to pique the serious drinkers’ interest.

Rating: 14/20
Price: $17

Other Zinfandels we have tasted
Check out our guide to Paso Robles
For more information, visit

August 11, 2008

Drylands' 2007 Dry Riesling

2007 Dry Riesling
Marlborough, New Zealand

Winemaker Darryl Woolley is no stranger to Riesling. Woolley’s career began in Australia’s Clare Valley, which many consider the finest region for New World Riesling. So it comes as no surprise that his Riesling for Drylands is as much talked about as his Sauvignon Blanc, the varietal that is considered the king of Kiwi Country. What many wine lovers don’t realize is that the Marlborough region’s dry, cool climate and shallow, relatively infertile soil are welcoming to more than just Sauvignon Blanc. (In fact, growers of Sauvignon Blanc looking for New Zealand’s distinctly herbaceous character plant only areas with more fertile ground because typical Marlborough soil produces lush, aromatic wines). Despite a difficult winter in 2006, Marlborough area wineries were blessed with beautiful harvest conditions in 2007, making it a good year for Riesling in general and for these 1,500 cases of Drylands in particular. The typical Riesling honeysuckle and gooseberry nose brings the promise of a lively, fruit-driven wine. And the flavors of this dry Riesling deliver just that, with grapefruit and freshly squeezed lime, striking minerality and just the right touch of acidity. The sort of wine that quenches thirst on a hot summer afternoon, Dryland’s Riesling can be served with salted nuts or cold meats as an aperitif. It is also just the sort of light, bright wine to make Thai food sing.

Rating: 13/20
Price: $15

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

August 4, 2008

Two Wives' 2006 Pink

Two Wives
2006 Pink
Napa Valley, California

No, polygamy has not taken the Napa Valley by storm. Two Wives is the venture of two women, Christina Madrigal and Elizabeth Naylor, who are successful, willful and, well, wives. With strong ties to the wine business—Christina is married to Chris Madrigal of Madrigal Vineyards—and a desire to support women, the two started their own wine company with a line of three products. Two Wives works to raise money for the Breast Cancer Fund along with producing their Napa Sauvignon Blanc, red table wine and Pink. Pink is the first wine we’ve tasted in a long time that addresses a largely ignored sector of the wine market: the call for high quality, sweet rosés. A world apart from cheaply made White Zinfandel, sweet rosés can be complex, thirst quenching and dazzlingly delicious—qualities that aptly describe Pink. Beautifully balanced with a nice bite of acidity nipping the tongue, the wine has fine structure and restrained sweetness. Raspberry and strawberry flavors dominate with just a hint of tropical fruit coming through. It is the sort of wine for serving with Thai food. Try also pairing it with a cheese plate, or as an aperitif with warm, salted nuts. The wine could also hold its own at dessert, perhaps accompanied by simple shortbread cookies.

Rating: 14.5/20
Price: $16

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



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