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January 2008

January 28, 2008

2004 Dancing Bear Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Cakebread Cellars

2004 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon—Dancing Bear Ranch, Napa Valley
Napa Valley, CA

All it took was a casual remark to propel Jack Cakebread into winemaking more than thirty years ago. Cakebread was photographing Napa Valley when he mentioned to some family friends living nearby that someday he wanted to own a vineyard. That very day, they offered to sell him their ranch, which Cakebread immediately bought. With this sort of brash confidence, Cakebread Cellars has grown and thrived, promoting the enjoyment of delicious wines with healthy food. The winery has an organic kitchen garden and hosts the American Harvest Workshop, an annual four-day seminar where top chefs across the country interact with guests to discuss wine, food and a healthy lifestyle.

Ever since the first vintage’s 157 cases of Chardonnay in 1973, Cakebread Cellars has grown to the point that it now offers Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their 2004 Dancing Bear Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon is a Bordeaux-style blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Perfuming this wine are complex, intense aromas of Bing cherry, brambleberry, spicy dark plums, flowers, sage, tobacco, chocolate and earth. The well-structured wine’s flavors of wild cherry, ripe fig, spicy black fruit and dark chocolate persist through a long finish. Complement this wine with grilled steaks, venison and hearty stews.

Rating: 15.5/20
Price: $100

Other Cabernet Sauvignon we have tasted
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January 21, 2008

2004 Korbin Kameron Merlot

2004 Korbin Kameron Merlot—Mount Veeder, Sonoma Valley
Sonoma Valley, CA

Korbin Kameron Vineyards draws on the talents of the entire Ming family, who have taken to winemaking ever since discovering their dream homestead above the clouds on Mount Veeder. Combining their enthusiasm with the experience of winemakers Javier Renteria and Bob Pepi, Korbin Kameron Vineyards emphasizes quality over quantity. That focus is clear in their 2004 Merlot. Ripe berries, cinnamon, green olive, toasty oak, elderberry and thyme endow this rich, medium bodied wine with a distinct aroma. From the first sip to the finish, this wine has a supple mouth feel, with flavors of sour cherry and a hint of chocolate. Pair the 2004 Korbin Kameron Merlot with a steak or elk chop.

Rating: 15/20
Price: $46

Other Merlots we have tasted
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January 14, 2008

Benziger 2006 Sauvignon Blanc--Shone Farm, Russian River Valley Bottle of Wine

2006 Benziger Sauvignon Blanc—Shone Farm, Russian River Valley
Russian River Valley, CA

Mike Benziger is fulfilling his passions for both quality wine and the earth through his winery, which is nestled in a private Sonoma Mountain valley. The Benziger Family Winery strives for notable terroir through sustainable, organic and Biodynamic farming. Biodynamic farming emphasizes the farm as a self-sustaining ecosystem with everything in the ecosystem benefiting another part. Within the winery’s 85-acre estate of vineyards, gardens, woodlands, wetlands and wildlife sanctuaries, there are insectaries that help negate the need for pesticides. For the Benzigers, superior grapes are the result of this conscientious farming. The 2006 Sauvignon Blanc—Shone Farm, Russian River Valley represents this commitment to quality through its deliciously crisp and clean character. This is complemented by bright citrus flavors and floral aromas, which balance well with its notable acidic structure. We recommend pairing this wine with white fish and fresh fruit.

Rating: 15/20
Price: $29

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

January 7, 2008

Torii Mor 2005 La Colina Pinot Noir Wine Bottle

2005 Torii Mor La Colina Pinot Noir
Dundee Hills, Oregon

Founded in 1993, Torii Mor draws from both Japanese and Scandinavian cultures, not so much in the style of its limited production wines but in the origin of its name. Owner Donald Olson chose to represent his winery with the Japanese word, “torii,” an ornate gate at the entry to traditional Japanese gardens, combined with “mor,” the ancient Scandinavian word for “earth.” Together, these words represent Olson’s winery as a gateway to a place where great things are drawn from the land. The 2005 La Colina Vineyard Pinot Noir is indeed an expression of the wonders that can be produced from the earth, with its aromas of dark berries and milk chocolate paired with sweet, fruity flavors. Made from organically-grown grapes produced with minimal interference, this wine was aged for ten months in oak barrels before being bottled unfiltered to preserve the essence of the fruit. This process resulted is a crisp wine with soft tannins that sips well on its own, and would also pair well with light goat cheese or light meats.

Rating: 15.5/20
Price: $55

Other Pinot Noirs we have tasted
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