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February 2008

February 4, 2008

Georges Deboeuf Pouilly-Fuissé Domaine Béranger 2006

2006 Pouilly-Fuissé Domaine Béranger Chardonnay
Pouilly-Fuissé, FRANCE

While Georges Dubœuf is famous for popularizing wines from the Beaujolais region, his Les Vin Georges Dubœuf company achieves success through its relationships with growers all over France. The grapes that made the Pouilly-Fuissé Domaine Béranger 2006 Chardonnay originated from the Béranger family’s vineyards in the Burgundy region, where the family has lived for more than two centuries. Emile Béranger has tended to the family’s dozen acres of vineyards for more than fifty years, and is passing on his expertise to his son, Robert. The Bérangers produced only 750 cases of this chardonnay, which exhibits a bright straw color with shades of green, and exudes scents of white flowers, fruits and notes of vanilla. On the palate, the vino reveals an oily texture with an excellent finish. Red snapper and shrimp pair well with this wine, which can be enjoyed immediately or aged for more than three years.

Rating: 13.5/20

Price: $19

Other Chardonnays we have tasted
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February 11, 2008

Casa Nuestra 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena Estate

2005 Casa Nuestra Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena Estate
Napa Valley, CA

Casa Nuestra, established in 1979 by Gene Kirkham, means “our house” in Spanish—an apt description of the small, family-owned winery. In collaboration with winemaker Allen Price, Kirkham makes wines from organic and estate grown grapes. The winery specializes in crafting rare and distinctive wines, producing approximately 1,500 cases of wine a year. Two of their propriety red wines, called Tinto Classico and Tinto St. Helena, are made from their unique “field blend” vineyards. These vineyards, once common generations ago, feature a collection of grape varietals, which are processed as if they were all the same type. The result of this blending is a distinctive wine. Remarkably, at Casa Nuestra’s field blend vineyards, some of the varietals still have yet to be identified. Casa Nuestra produces other types of wines too, including Meritage, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, dry Chenin Blanc, White Riesling, French Colombard, Rosado and a dry rosé. Their 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena Estate, with only 136 cases, is a good example of the winery’s limited classic wines. Made from grapes harvested from St. Helena Estate, there was enough juice to fill five small French Oak barrels, where the wine was aged for two years. This fragrant, silky wine features well-masked tannins and complex flavors of black cherries, plums, vanilla and sweet tobacco, revealing a lasting, creamy finish. The vino pairs well with steak and lamb.

Rating: 14.5/20

Price: $55

Other Cabernet Sauvignons we have tasted
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February 18, 2008

Summers 2006 Napa Valley Estate Charbono-Villa Andriana Vineyard

2006 Summers Napa Valley Estate Charbono—Villa Andriana Vineyard
Napa Valley, CA

Summers Estate Wines did not spring up overnight. Jim Summers bought a property with vineyards in California’s Knights Valley in 1987, with plans to spend his retirement years in the wine country. For several years, Jim, along with his wife Beth, sold the grapes from the estate’s vineyards. In 1994, the Summers began custom-crushing their own grapes into vino, and they haven’t looked back since. Their family-owned and operated boutique winery prides itself on this unique Charbono varietal, which they grow in their winery’s loamy, volcanic soil. Charbono, a rare varietal allegedly brought to California by Italian immigrants in the late 19th century, is only found growing on about 80 acres throughout California, with half that number in Calistoga. Summers Estate Wines has the distinction of being the largest producer of Charbono in the U.S. and possibly in the world. The vines for this varietal yield large berries, which make a dark red wine with soft, round tannins. Summers Estate Wines produced only 2,000 cases of the 2006 Napa Valley Estate Charbono-Villa Adriana Vineyard. The wine is aged eleven months in American oak, and features bright fruit flavors. Enjoy the wine now, or a decade from now, with rabbit, pasta, sausage pizza, or simply by itself for a winter drink by the fireplace.

Rating: 14/20

Other Reds we have tasted
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February 25, 2008

2005 Sea Smoke Ten Pinot Noir

2005 Sea Smoke 'Ten' Pinot Noir
Santa Rita Hills, CA

When Bob Davids went looking to acquire a vineyard to grow Pinot Noir, he decided that the Santa Rita Hills AVA in Santa Barbara County was the area to concentrate his efforts. When he found the place that best met his criteria, including clay soils and southern exposure, it was a plot of land that was not for sale and had never grown grapes. Undaunted, he made an offer, and bought 350 acres of Rancho Chahuchu. In 1999, he planted 100 acres of Pinot Noir, and his Sea Smoke—named for the cool maritime fog layer the Santa Ynez River canyon funnels in across the hillsides on summer evenings which slows the ripening process—quickly received great acclaim. There is now a two-year wait to get on the list to purchase an allotment, according to General Manager and Director of Winemaking Victor Gallegos. “We apologize for how difficult it is to find,” he says. The 2005 Sea Smoke ‘Ten’ Pinot Noir has aromas of plum and black cherry, as well as earthiness, and can be enjoyed with game or fowl. We recommend letting it age, or if you’re impatient, decanting. Gallegos doesn’t like to announce volume figures, but admits that the 2006 output will be about 25% less than the current vintage, making it even scarcer.

Rating: 15/20

Price: $70

Other Pinot Noirs w
e have tasted
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