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April 2009

April 27, 2009

Taylor Family Vineyards 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

Taylor Family Vineyards
2007 Sauvignon Blanc

Napa Valley, California

Founded by husband-and-wife team Jerry and Pat Taylor, this award-winning Napa Valley winery is one of the region’s early pioneers. In 1980, the entrepreneurial couple along with their young children, planted the first vineyard. To this day, the whole family continues to be involved in various capacities. The estate is well known for its reds, which are made by winemaker Gustavo Brambila, who was immortalized in the 2008 film Bottle Shock. Winemaker Andy Schweiger crafts the Taylors’ white wines, including some noteworthy Chardonnays. The fresh and lively 2007 Sauvignon Blanc is among the newest wines in the Taylor Family Vineyards lineup, and is made from fruit grown in Napa’s northeastern Chiles Valley appellation. While the grapes were fermented in neutral French oak, the wine’s vibrant characteristics—such as a great acidic bite and clean finish—are in no way overshadowed by barrel influence. We are impressed by the Sauvignon Blanc’s structure, although the flavors are a little tutti frutti for our taste. Pair the Taylor with fresh, simple foods like barbecued oysters or a grilled chicken salad with citrus vinaigrette.

Rating: 13.5/20
Price: $24

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

April 20, 2009

Margerum's 2006 M5

2006 M5

Santa Ynez Valley, California

Margerum Wine Company may be one of Santa Barbara County’s youngest wineries, but its founder’s roots run deep in the Southern California wine country. For 25 years, Doug Margerum was best known as the owner of Santa Barbara’s critically acclaimed Wine Cask restaurant, which he sold in 2007 in order to devote more time to his winery and other culinary projects. As of right now, the winery focuses primarily on three vinos: a Sauvignon Blanc, a Syrah and a red Rhône blend called M5. Some of the company’s upcoming plans include experimenting with more single-vineyard wines as well as bottlings from a vineyard in Washington. Margerum’s 2006 M5 is a crowd-pleaser, showing pretty fruit flavors yet offering earthy undertones. The wine is big in both flavor and body, although it’s not too tannic. The M5 is a blend made from five varietals (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Counoise, Cinsault and Syrah) grown on multiple vineyard sites, so we’re not surprised by the wine’s complexity. However, what does surprise us is how well those elements, along with the influences of winemaking, mix to make such a complex and well-integrated wine in the under $30 range. Pair it with something gamey like grilled squab or serve it with a simple steak. For those who prefer lighter fare, M5 would even work with rustic pasta dishes or a tomato-based seafood stew.

Rating: 15/20
Price: $27

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

April 13, 2009

Stuhlmuller Vineyards 2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Stuhlmuller Vineyards
2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Alexander Valley, California

A family-run winery based in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley, Stuhlmuller Vineyards may be best known for its Chardonnay, although they also produce artisanal Zinfandels and Cabernet Sauvignons on their 150-acre property. The Stuhlmullers, Roger and Carmen, along with their son Fritz, pride themselves on their boutique winemaking process. Their wines are not just vineyard specific but vineyard-block specific, with the grapes carefully separated and fermented in extremely small lots. As a result, the estate’s annual production consists of only 6,000 cases. Their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of three different vineyard blocks, each individually fermented before blending. The ensuing wine is far more generous on the palate than on the nose, with both offering ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit character in addition to hints of clove, anise and espresso. With bright, sweet fruit flavors and fine-grained tannins, this Cab is one of Sonoma County’s most approachable reds for white wine drinkers and is a well-made (not to mention well-priced) wine for a crowd. Pair it with grilled lamb chops, herb-stuffed roast chicken or a sweet potato shepherd’s pie.

Rating: 14/20
Price: $36

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

April 6, 2009

Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards' 2007 Reserve Chardonnay

Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards
2007 Reserve Chardonnay

Columbia Valley, Washington

Considered a pioneer of Washington’s wine industry, Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards planted its first vines in the Columbia Valley in 1980, a time when there were only nineteen wineries in the entire state. As the name implies, Gordon Brothers is the dream of two siblings, Jeff, who still runs the day-to-day operations, and his brother Bill, who retired in 1998. The company produces all the varietals that have made Washington wines popular, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, and it is one of the few wineries in the region to produce Chardonnays from completely estate-grown fruit. Their 2007 Reserve Chardonnay is somewhat Burgundian in style with a bright acidity and crisp fall fruit flavors. On the nose, there are hints of cashew. A nuttiness returns on the back of the Chardonnay’s palate with a taste of bitter hazelnut, and the finish offers lingering caramel custard. Although a little too heavily oaked for our preference, this wine is nicely balanced and makes a welcome pairing to rotisserie chicken, grilled white fish with a fresh herb salad, or pork loin with apples.

Rating: 13.5/20
Price: $23

Other Chardonnays we have tasted
Check out our guide to Washington
For more information, visit



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