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February 2009

February 23, 2009

Henry Fessy 2007 Moulin à Vent Gamay

Henry Fessy
2007 Moulin à Vent Gamay

Moulin à Vent, France

The Fessy family founded their Beaujolais estate in the nineteenth century, and while it remains Fessy-run today, the winery exists as a part of Louis Latour Agencies to help give the family’s wines greater exposure on the market. The Fessy’s estate owns vineyards throughout Beaujolais, including in three of the prestigious Beaujolais Cru appellations. Since the winery produces its red wines exclusively from the Gamay grape (as is traditional in Beaujolais), the distinctions between these individual vineyards is very important in creating standout wines. Henry Fessy’s 2007 Moulin à Vent Gamay is crafted from 50-year-old vines, and exhibits the classic characteristics of this highly regarded appellation: tannic structure, big flavor and age-worthiness. On the palate, the wine bursts with bright, ripe strawberry flavors with a mere hint of licorice and black pepper on the back of the palate. The smoky note it features on the finish is traditional Moulin à Vent style. Well-suited for a late winter pot roast, this Gamay will also pair well with simple Burgundian fare like salade frisee aux lardons and bouef bourguignon.

Rating: 13.5/20
Price: $19

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February 16, 2009

Carneros Della Notte's 2005 Los Carneros Pinot Noir

Carneros Della Notte
2005 Los Carneros Pinot Noir

Los Carneros, California

Carneros Della Notte is the collaboration of former founder David Harmon and winemaker Sal Godinez. The pair created the winery with the goal of producing finely crafted Pinot Noirs from the Carneros region of Napa Valley and Sonoma County. This single-minded focus gives Della Notte’s winemaking team an opportunity to really experiment with the tricky grape, such as by emphasizing unusually heavy sun exposure (through crop thinning), which results in wines with bright fruit and depth. In addition to Pinot Noir, the winery is working with a limited bottling of Cabernet Sauvignon as well as a late harvest Riesling. However, Pinot Noir remains Della Notte’s star. In the bottle, the winery’s 2005 Los Carneros Pinot Noir is unmistakably a boutique American Pinot. Both the terroir and winemaker’s influence show through in the wine’s structure and flavor. Black plum, black currant, eucalyptus and anise dominate on the palate, and on the finish, burnt caramel lingers. The wine tastes slightly overripe—just a tad too sweet—but its fine structure balances out the flaw. Serve with pheasant or quail lightly flavored by Middle Eastern spices. Or, for a more comfort-driven meal, pair it with roast beef and garlic mashed potatoes. The wine is ready to drink now, but structurally, it could hold up to cellaring for several years.

Rating: 14/20
Price: $48

Other Pinot Noirs we have tasted
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February 9, 2009

Signaterra's 2007 Shone Farm Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

2007 Shone Farm Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

Russian River Valley, California

Signaterra is a boutique concept from a big industry player, Benziger Family Winery. This new brand was created to feature the finest grapes from Benziger’s vineyards and to produce biodynamic wines that reflect regional terroir and vintage differences. Thus far, Signaterra is producing a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir, both from vineyards in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley. The label’s 2007 Sauvignon Blanc comes from the southeastern part of the valley, where the grapes benefit from loam soil and a sunny, south-facing slope. Up front, the wine offers lemongrass and lush passionfruit aromas and flavors. Toward the back of the palate, a bitter, herbal note adds complexity and minerality on the finish that echoes the terroir of that loam soil. The Sauvignon Blanc’s grapes were hand-harvested at night to help maintain its fresh acidity, and the resulting wine makes a complex and interesting aperitif, with the acid and herbaceousness appropriately refreshing to the palate. In addition, the Sauvignon Blanc’s structure and flavor profile make it a welcome pairing to grilled pork, poultry and vegetables, or lightly spiced Indian cuisine.

Rating: 13/20
Price: $27

Other Sauvignon Blanc we have tasted
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February 2, 2009

Zaca Mesa's 2006 Roussanne

Zaca Mesa
2006 Roussanne

Santa Ynez Valley, California

Zaca Mesa, founded in 1973, was an early player in California’s wine renaissance and one of the first post-Prohibition wineries in the Santa Barbara region. It has served as training ground for some of today’s best-known players in the Central California appellation, including noted vintners Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat and Bob Lindquist of Qupé. The winery splits its focus between the Golden State’s most popular varietals, such as Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon; and the Rhône varietals, including Syrah, Grenache and, one of America’s lesser-seen whites, Roussanne. Zaca Mesa’s 2006 Roussanne, a lovely and approachable rendition, offers at once sophisticated and easy drinking. The wine was fermented and aged in French oak for ten months, giving it body and texture. Its aromas and flavors consist of stone fruit with lingering minerality, a lovely characteristic typical of the varietal. Enjoy this wine as an aperitif, palate cleanser or with light seafood. Pair it with halibut, snapper or scallops grilled to bring out the wine’s minerality. Or, bake the fish and serve with a citrus-flavored butter to accentuate the Roussanne’s fruit character.

Rating: 13.5/20
Price: $25

Other Roussanne we have tasted
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